Hot News
for your iPhone
for your iPad
Go to our forums to discuss this news
DATE News (chronologically)
Dixon: It just needs to happen, one way or another Dixon: It just needs to happen, one way or anotherIRL driver Scott Dixon had this to say to SPEEDTV.com regarding all the talk on the IRL/Champ Car merger - "It's what everybody has been hoping for a long time.  Coming from that side, all of us miss the road racing. If it happens, it will be huge for North American single-seater racing. It just needs to happen, one way or another."
track news
Navy flyovers planned for Long Beach race Navy flyovers planned for Long Beach racePre-race ceremonies for the April 7-9 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will get off to a roaring start - guaranteed!!!

On Sunday, April 9, for example, four hot Navy F/A1-18 Hornets from the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Center will be screaming down over the race circuit at approximately 1 p.m.  to help kick off the Champ Car World Series race.

Piloting the Hornets will be: Capt. Bruce (Puppy) Fecht, Lt. Garrett (Butch) Shook, Lt. Dan (Disco) McSeveney, Capt. Jeffrey (Hanes) Alexander, Cdr. Christopher (P.J.) Steyn and Cdr. Ian (Chunx) Anderson.   Ground liaison is Lt. Scott (Baby Huey) Hulett.

The super-fast F/A-18 Hornet is a twin-engine, multi-mission fighter/attack aircraft that can operate from either land or carrier bases. zzzz

On Saturday, April 8, the famed Boeing C-17 Globemaster III  - the most flexible and capable military airlifter ever built - will make the ceremonial flyover on a day that Mayor Beverly O'Neill has declared as "C-17 Day" in Long Beach. The C-17 will be piloted by Long Beach residents Capt. Dave Losey and Capt. Seth Ewalt.

The Boeing C-17's reliability, its ability to fly global distances and land on dirt fields,  as well as its capacity to perform key missions such as airdrop makes it indispensable to the nation's defense.

The four-engined, high-wing, T-tail transport has seen extensive duty in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia, as well as disaster relief missions in the Caribbean, tsunami relief efforts in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf Coast hurricane region.

The Boeing Company's C-17 production facility in Long Beach, employing more than 6,000 people, is the last wide-bodied aircraft assembly plant in California, and why the city is fighting to keep the C-17 viable. 

Long Beach has a strong heritage of contributing to America's defense, and the C-17 is a symbol of that heritage.

Tickets for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, featuring six racing events including the opening round of the 2006 Champ Car World Series, can be purchased from the Grand Prix ticket office by calling the toll-free ticket hotline at (888) 82-SPEED.  A handy ticket brochure - which includes circuit map, grandstand and parking locations, ticket prices and order form - can be obtained by calling the ticket hotline. Tickets are also available online at longbeachgp.com or ticketmaster.com. GPALB

Q and A with Tony George on merger Q and A with Tony George on merger
Knaus back in NASCAR paddock Knaus back in NASCAR paddockThe weather was just plain ugly on Friday, but Bristol Motor Speedway looked great to Chad Knaus.  "It's great to be back," Knaus said on a day when cold rain and even a few snow flurries kept Nextel Cup and Busch cars off the track all day. "I have been looking forward to coming to Bristol probably for the first time in my career."

Knaus returns to the track this week as crew chief for Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolets after serving out a four-race suspension for a rules violation found in inspection following qualifying for the Daytona 500.

Day 1 test notes from Homestead Day 1 test notes from HomesteadDanica Patrick will turn 24 on Saturday. She took the opportunity to celebrate her birthday with her friends and family on Wednesday night in Phoenix.

"My birthday is Saturday, but we went out (Wednesday) night. It was chance for me to put on the little black dress and go out and celebrate."

Vitor Meira was involved in the only incident of the day. Meira's car did a half spin in Turn 4 and made heavy contact with the SAFER Barrier in the afternoon session.

"We're not really sure what happened. Panther has a couple of the best engineers in the business working on all the data we collected today. I know the EcoNova Honda was great this morning and as hard as the Panther crew works, we're going to be very strong tomorrow. If there is any team in this paddock that can bounce back from a challenge, it's Panther Racing. We're going to be very fast during qualifications tomorrow and even better when the race gets here on Sunday."

Cunningham tops Indy Pro practice Cunningham tops Indy Pro practiceIn preparations for the Indy Pro Series Miami 100, defending series champion Wade Cunningham posted the day's best lap. Cunningham recorded a lap of 28.5319 seconds, 187.369 mph in his No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing car.

Pos. Car Name Speed
1. 1 Wade Cunningham 187.369 mph
2. 27 Jonathan Klein 185.954 mph
3. 24 Jeff Simmons 185.606 mph
4. 4 Marty Roth 185.501 mph
5. 7 Jay Howard 185.365 mph


WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing, fastest of the day): "We were working on the car most of the session by ourselves. Obviously, the fast times were achieved with the towing. I went out there and looked for a tow, and I put a big lap in, because it's nice to see number one, up at the top. It's hard to say how good we'll be for qualifying. The Sam Schmidt/AGR cars will be quick, but I think we'll be close enough to start."

JONATHAN KLEIN (No. 27 Klein Tools, second fastest): "Today was good. We were quickest in the first session, but part of that was how well the car worked in traffic. In the second session we picked up a little bit of understeer. We kept chasing it and we were able to improve on it by the end of the session. We didn't get as much of a chance to run in traffic this afternoon as we would have liked, but overall we're happy with the Klein Tools/Turn-Key Forging and Design car." zzzz

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 24 Kenn Hardey Racing, third fastest): "We were running pretty good there at the end. (Chris) Festa was right at the top, but he looked fast on his own there at the end. He was down in the 28's, which is pretty tough to get to it seems, so he was looking good to, my car is good. We had a fuel pressure problem there at the end that we're going to have to look at. I don't know what was causing it, but it was making it cut out the last few laps that I ran, so we've got to figure out what the problem is there. I'm fairly happy right now. It seems that it's the best that we've run on the big tracks on our own."

MARTY ROTH (No. 4 Roth Racing, fourth fastest): "We're frustrated, because we had a really good car here at the Open Test. We've just been struggling to get it back. We still have a few more sessions, and we'll continue to chip away at it. We were third quick in that last session. We were really struggling this morning, so we've narrowed the gap a little bit. We still have some improvements to make."

Wheldon tops Practice 2 at Homestead Wheldon tops Practice 2 at HomesteadUPDATE  Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon led the opening day of preparations for the Toyota Indy 300 presented by XM Satellite Radio at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Wheldon, the reigning IndyCar® Series and Indianapolis 500 champion, turned a lap of 24.0004 seconds, 215.561 mph, in his No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone in the afternoon practice. The lap was slightly better than Dixon, the 2003 IndyCar Series champion, whose best lap, 24.8974 214.721 mph, came in the morning session.

"I'm still getting use to working with my engineer (Andy Brown) with the limited testing time that you get," Wheldon said. "I think it takes a little bit of time to get a car set up for you and exactly what you want and just working through that process. Obviously, the series has mandated we can run a lower rear wing angle and add some more rear wicker, so we're getting use to that, too. I think certainly there are other cars out there that are very quick also. As a team, we just want to keep trying to improve what we've got because of the limited time that we've run here at Homestead."

Marlboro Team Penske drivers Sam Hornish Jr.(214.718 mph) and Helio Castroneves (214.381 mph) were third and fifth, respectively, while 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan (214.418) was fourth. zzzz

Qualifying for the Toyota Indy 300 presented by XM Satellite Radio and the Miami 100 is scheduled for March 25.


SCOTT DIXON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second quickest): "It was pretty good. The first session went smoothly. I think both of us worked most of the day on race setup. The cars were comfortable with no major issues. We basically tried running together. I think in the end, it's like any sort of test. Whoever gets the biggest tow ends up in the front."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third fastest): "Our day went pretty much as expected.  We spent the two sessions working on the race set-up to make sure the car handles well in traffic.  That will be the key on these mile-and-a-half ovals this season. We're not quite where we need to be yet, but I'm sure the Marlboro Team Penske crew will get it figured out for race day."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth fastest): "We are working on making the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car fast and comfortable. We're still a little behind, but we also still have all of Saturday and Sunday morning to get there. I'm not really complaining because being fourth isn't all that bad. But I think we can still improve the car a little bit more."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth fastest): "We worked on the race set-up of the Marlboro Team Penske car today. We've still got some work to do and hopefully we'll be able to get a little closer tomorrow. We'll also spend some time working on our qualifying setup, but obviously getting the best race set-up is our main goal.  I'm happy with our performance today - it's always good to finish in the top-five and I think we'll be in good shape on Sunday."

03/24/06 Target Chip Ganassi drivers Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon turned the top two fastest laps in the 2nd and final Friday IndyCar practice session at Homestead.
Pos Driver Diff Best Time Best Speed C/E/T
1 Dan Wheldon (10) ... 24.8004 215.561 D/H/F
2 Scott Dixon (9) 0.1042 24.9046 214.659 D/H/F
3 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.1707 24.9711 214.087 D/H/F
4 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 0.1995 24.9999 213.841 D/H/F
5 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.2587 25.0591 213.336 D/H/F
6 Bryan Herta (7) 0.2771 25.0775 213.179 D/H/F
7 Tomas Scheckter (2) 0.2852 25.0856 213.110 D/H/F
8 Scott Sharp (8) 0.2941 25.0945 213.035 D/H/F
9 Dario Franchitti (27) 0.2975 25.0979 213.006 D/H/F
10 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 0.3259 25.1263 212.765 D/H/F
11 Buddy Rice (15) 0.3451 25.1455 212.603 P/H/F
12 Eddie Cheever Jr (51) 0.3455 25.1459 212.599 D/H/F
13 Marco Andretti (26) 0.3857 25.1861 212.260 D/H/F
14 Danica Patrick (16) 0.3996 25.2000 212.143 P/H/F
15 Ed Carpenter (20) 0.4747 25.2751 211.513 D/H/F
16 Felipe Giaffone (14) 0.6095 25.4099 210.390 D/H/F
17 Paul Dana (17) 0.6401 25.4405 210.137 P/H/F
18 Buddy Lazier (5) 0.6557 25.4561 210.009 D/H/F
19 PJ Chesson (91) 0.7104 25.5108 209.558 D/H/F
20 Vitor Meira (4) 1.2945 26.0949 204.868 D/H/F
Accord Hybrid named IRL Pace Car Accord Hybrid named IRL Pace CarThe Honda Accord Hybrid will serve as Official Pace Car for the 2006 IRL IndyCar® Series season, IRL officials announced, marking the first time a car utilizing hybrid technology has been used to pace a major auto racing series.
The Delphi IRL Safety Team also will use Honda vehicles in 2006, operating a fleet of Honda Ridgelines as well as a Honda Pilot, all outfitted with state of the art equipment for the various safety and medical needs of the team.
Now in its second year of production, the Accord Hybrid features Honda's third generation of the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) that operates in combination with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology to deliver high levels of fuel efficiency from the 3.0-liter Honda V-6 engine, along with highly responsive and powerful performance.  The result is an SAE-rated 253 horsepower and 232-foot pounds of torque.  zzzz

"The IndyCar Series has long been recognized for its leadership in motorsports safety and innovation," said Brian Barnhart, president & COO of the Indy Racing League. "We are proud to partner with Honda in rolling out the Accord Hybrid Safety Car, a motorsports first."

The Accord Hybrid's list of technical features includes more than just hybrid engine technology.  Electric Power Steering enhances steering response, Drive-by-Wire throttle control enhances acceleration, and a four-wheel independent suspension provides the handling required for an IndyCar Series pace car. The air conditioning system also features hybrid technology that switches to an electric compressor to keep occupants comfortable when the vehicle is not in motion.

Modifications to the Accord Hybrids required for IndyCar Series Pace Car duty include a safety roll cage and high-performance wheels and tires for race track use. The Accord Hybrids will be used at all domestic IRL races in 2006, except the Indianapolis 500.

Honda Performance Development (HPD), a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., is the single provider of engines in 2006 for the IRL IndyCar Series.   Honda joined the IRL at the start of the 2003 season, and late last year announced a new plan to continue as an engine supplier in IndyCar racing through the 2009 season.  HPD will prepare and maintain the Honda Indy V-8 engines used by all teams for competition in the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. IRL

Rain washes out Bristol qualifying Rain washes out Bristol qualifyingRain has washed at NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying at Bristol, TN and the cars will line up as follows:

Pos Car# Driver     Make      Reason In
1 20 Tony Stewart Chevy 2005 Owners Points
2 16 Greg Biffle Ford 2005 Owners Points
3 99 Carl Edwards Ford 2005 Owners Points
4 6 Mark Martin Ford 2005 Owners Points
5 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevy 2005 Owners Points
6 12 Ryan Newman Dodge 2005 Owners Points
7 17 Matt Kenseth Ford 2005 Owners Points
8 26 Jamie McMurray Ford 2005 Owners Points
9 2 Kurt Busch Dodge 2005 Owners Points
10 19 Jeremy Mayfield Dodge 2005 Owners Points
11 24 Jeff Gordon Chevy 2005 Owners Points
12 42 Casey Mears Dodge 2005 Owners Points
13 38 Elliott Sadler Ford 2005 Owners Points
14 29 Kevin Harvick Chevy 2005 Owners Points
15 88 Dale Jarrett Ford 2005 Owners Points
16 01 Joe Nemechek Chevy 2005 Owners Points
17 25 Brian Vickers Chevy 2005 Owners Points
18 31 Jeff Burton Chevy 2005 Owners Points
19 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevy 2005 Owners Points
20 5 Kyle Busch Chevy 2005 Owners Points
21 21 Ken Schrader Ford 2005 Owners Points
22 41 Reed Sorenson # Dodge 2005 Owners Points
23 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge 2005 Owners Points
24 18 J.J. Yeley # Chevy 2005 Owners Points
25 1 Martin Truex Jr. # Chevy 2005 Owners Points
26 40 David Stremme # Dodge 2005 Owners Points
27 07 Clint Bowyer # Chevy 2005 Owners Points
28 45 Kyle Petty Dodge 2005 Owners Points
29 66 Jeff Green Chevy 2005 Owners Points
30 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge 2005 Owners Points
31 49 Brent Sherman # Dodge 2005 Owners Points
32 22 Dave Blaney Dodge 2005 Owners Points
33 11 Denny Hamlin # Chevy 2005 Owners Points
34 55 Michael Waltrip Dodge 2005 Owners Points
35 14 Sterling Marlin Chevy 2005 Owners Points
36 96 Terry Labonte Chevy Past Champion
37 7 Robby Gordon Chevy 19th 2006 Ops
38 10 Scott Riggs Dodge 28th 2006 Ops
39 61 Kevin Lepage Ford 4 attempts 37th Ops
40 4 Scott Wimmer Chevy 4 attempts 40th Ops
41 32 Travis Kvapil Chevy 4 attempts 41st Ops
42 00 Hermie Sadler Ford 4 attempts 43rd Ops
43 95 Stanton Barrett Chevy 4 attempts 46th Ops
DNQ 34 Chad Chaffin Dodge 4 attempts 48th Ops
DNQ 78 Kenny Wallace Chevy 4 attempts 49th Ops
DNQ 89 Morgan Shepherd Dodge 3 attempts 53rd Ops
DNQ 37 Mike Skinner Dodge 3 attempts 51st Ops
DNQ 92 Chad Blount Chevy 3 attempts 55th Ops
DNQ 74 Derrike Cope Dodge 3 attempts 52nd Ops
DNQ 51 Mike Garvey Chevy 2 attempts 50th Ops

COT rulebook in team’s hands next week COT rulebook in team’s hands next weekThe first rulebook for the Car of Tomorrow is expected to be in teams' hands next week, said NASCAR's director of cost research Brett Bodine, who's been NASCAR's lead test driver for the project.

We're real close to the final version of the car -- we're down to aerodynamic tuning," Bodine said. "All of the other chassis dimensions are set and the rulebook will be out the first part of next week." 

The Car of Tomorrow is scheduled to be phased into full use in the Nextel Cup Series over the next three seasons.

The car will be used for 16 races next season, mostly on road courses and short tracks -- which for 2007 NASCAR designates as tracks under 1.366 miles in length. The fall superspeedway event at Talladega will also be included in the schedule.

Simpson and Pecorari put Western Union ahead Simpson and Pecorari put Western Union aheadIndianapolis –   Gelles Racing maiden test sessions in the new Champ Car Atlantic Championship at California Speedway proved to be a complete success as rookie drivers Robbie Pecorari and Stephen Simpson drove more than 100 trouble-free laps each over two days. South African Simpson topped the charts with second best time out of 29 drivers and came out smiling in the cockpit of his Western Union # 14 machine. Pennsylvania’s own Robbie Pecorari also ran flawless in the #28 car for two days and earned 10th place in the chart. Engineers and crew did an outstanding job with their two drivers.

“The bonding was excellent”, declared team principal Bob Gelles. “Everybody had to work very hard to get those machines together and our crew even took some time to get the Western Union livery ready. We were impressed with the way Stephen (Simpson) and Robbie (Pecorari) worked with our engineering staff Dave (Conti) and Johnny (Walko) under the supervision of operations vice-president Tim Jennings. Regardless of the times, the work sessions gave us a lot of data and something to chew on for the coming weeks as we will get ready for Long Beach. To have both our cars in the Top Ten shows how much the drivers were up to the challenge and the cars had been well prepared. I think the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship will be the most competitive in decades and I thank the organization for their professionalism. Western Union and our recently added Diamon-Fusion Roadblock sponsor will be generously rewarded for being part of this series.’’

Stephen Simpson
After taking part in the A1GP series most of the winter with Team South Africa, Stephen Simpson was impressive in his first sessions with the Swift .016a Mazda Cosworth single seater. “New car and new track; said Simpson, but wow, this car was so much fun to drive. It is a well-born machine and we all shared information and feelings for two days. Robbie, Dave, Johnny and I were excited and had a lot to talk about in between sessions. l anticipate a great season with my team and new engineer Alan Langridge.”

Robbie Pecorari
‘‘This is the finest racing machine I ever laid my hands on, added Pecorari. I was pretty happy with P10 with such a competitive roster. In fact, I was getting faster in the last session, something like P5, but the overall times were slower. I tip my hat to the crew and engineers who gave us fast cars and the opportunity to run without any problems for two days. We’re going to be right up there fighting for wins and the title this year.’’

Williams Chief Designer departs Williams Chief Designer departsWilliams chief designer Jorg Zander has left his the Grove-based team for personal reasons. The 42-year-old German joined Williams late last summer after three years at BAR, where he was chief engineer for mechanics and transmission.

The team stressed that Zander’s departure is entirely unrelated his performance, but that personal circumstances dictate he should return home to his family in Germany.

Williams does not plan to seek a replacement for Zander in the short term and is confident its strong start to 2006 will be unaffected.

“We firmly believe the technical structure we have in place in the design department is strong enough to withstand Jorg’s departure, and it will not affect the development of the FW28 this year, or the design of the FW29 for 2007,” a team spokeswoman told ITV-F1.com.

“We regret that Jorg had to leave for personal reasons, and we send our best wishes to him and his family for the future.”

Meira crashes at Homestead Meira crashes at HomesteadPanther Racing's Vitor Meira has hit the Turn 4 wall at Homestead when something apparently broke in the rear of the car.  The No. 4 car sustained moderate left-side damage.  Meira was taken to the infield care center and released.

The windy weather at the track is blowing a lot of debris onto the track and that has resulted in a number of cut tires.

TV News
NASCAR to unveil Jewel Ad this weekend NASCAR to unveil Jewel Ad this weekendNASCAR on Sunday during Fox’ coverage of the Nextel Cup Food City 500 will debut a 30-second ad promoting Jewel’s new album, “Goodbye Alice In Wonderland,” which will be released May 2.  The spot, called “NASCAR, How Bad Have You Got It?,” combines footage of Jewel at last month’s Auto Club 500 at California Speedway, where she gave a pre-race performance, with race footage and the song “Again and Again” from the new album.  The ad will run for at least six weeks on Fox, FX, NBC, TNT and Speed Channel during NASCAR races and licensed NASCAR programming. NASCAR
NASCAR: A Tradition of Cheating Unlike Any Other NASCAR: A Tradition of Cheating Unlike Any OtherThis LA Times article slams NASCAR for the persistent cheating problem that is pervasive throughout what appears to be most of the teams. We have hammered NASCAR on this issue for years because we never saw so much cheating in any professional sport. Up until now NASCAR's penalties have amounted to nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

The Jimmie Johnson Chad Knaus incident is the latest example. Sure, NASCAR suspended Knaus but he still is in touch with the team on a daily basis at the shop and via telephone on the race weekend itself. The violation in question was blatant. The team had installed a device that would move the bottom of the rear window out giving it an aerodynamic advantage. NASCAR should have docked the team 500 points this year, thereby taking it out of the prestigious championship hunt because it was such blatant cheating. Cheat again this year and they should be docked 500 points in 2007. Cheat a third time this year and lose 500 points in 2008, etc. With a system like this in place all cheating in NASCAR would come to an immediate end.

Since NASCAR is not willing to take such strong steps, one can only conclude that they like the free PR they get from the cheating and the resulting penalties. Cheating has been part of the folklore of NASCAR from Day 1 - it defines their history.....and apparently their future.

Dixon fastest in opening practice Dixon fastest in opening practiceScott Dixon topped the speed chart at 214.721 mph (24.8974 seconds) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry in opening practice for Sunday's Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead. Sam Hornish Jr., a three-time IndyCar Series winner at this facility, was second at 214.718 mph (24.8978).

Rank Car Driver C/E/T Time Speed Best Lap Total Laps
1 9 Dixon, Scott D/H/F 24.8974 214.721 28 33
2 6 Hornish Jr, Sam D/H/F 24.8978 214.718 11 24
3 11 Kanaan, Tony D/H/F 24.9326 214.418 11 24
4 3 Castroneves, Helio D/H/F 24.9369 214.381 4 31
5 7 Herta, Bryan D/H/F 24.9964 213.871 12 29
6 27 Franchitti, Dario D/H/F 25.0205 213.665 6 24
7 10 Wheldon, Dan D/H/F 25.0266 213.613 33 35
8 15 Rice, Buddy P/H/F 25.0528 213.389 14 40
9 20 Carpenter, Ed D/H/F 25.0955 213.026 13 21
10 4 Meira, Vitor D/H/F 25.1319 212.718 7 28
11 55 Matsuura, Kosuke D/H/F 25.1401 212.648 5 28
12 51 Cheever Jr, Eddie D/H/F 25.1524 212.544 6 37
13 26 Andretti, Marco D/H/F 25.1608 212.473 8 39
14 8 Sharp, Scott D/H/F 25.2571 211.663 7 23
15 16 Patrick, Danica P/H/F 25.2689 211.564 15 21
16 17 Dana, Paul P/H/F 25.2752 211.512 30 32
17 2 Scheckter, Tomas D/H/F 25.2819 211.456 5 9
18 5 Lazier, Buddy D/H/F 25.3398 210.972 8 22
19 14 Giaffone, Felipe D/H/F 25.4722 209.876 12 20
20 91 Chesson, PJ D/H/F 26.0157 205.491 19 23

track news
Simmons to start Homestead race Simmons to start Homestead raceRock music legend Gene Simmons will help open the 2006 IRL IndyCar Series Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, when he waves the green flag at 3:45 p.m. in his role as Honorary Starter for the Toyota Indy 300 presented by XM Satellite Radio.

The icon from the rock band KISS, along with entertainment industry veteran Richard Abramson, principals in the Hollywood-based Simmons Abramson Marketing company, have formed a partnership with the IndyCar Series and are actively engaged in the league’s marketing, event, public relations, sponsorship, merchandising and branding efforts. The campaign includes Simmons’ “I Am Indy”, the first official theme song for a modern professional sport.

“Our mandate is to take the IndyCar Series to places it’s never been before,” Simmons said.  “Our task is to be missionaries of Indy.  There's nothing like going to an IndyCar (Series) race.  You get seduced by it.  There is a vibe there.  We are here because we want to be here, and we consider it a privilege. We stand by what we say and we mean everything we say.”

Rossi fastest in practice 2 at Jerez Rossi fastest in practice 2 at JerezWorld Champion Valentino Rossi has won the last five season opening Grands Prix, and showed his intention to make it six with the fastest time in today’s free practice sessions. The Italian went round in a time of 1’41.613, topping the timesheets just over a hundredth of a second ahead of Loris Capirossi. The Ducati rider has had a strong series of test showings at the Andalusian track, form he will hoping to continue through the final sessions and into the race.

The home crowd had much to cheer about on this the first day of practice in Jerez. With an all-Italian top two, home riders Dani Pedrosa and Sete Gibernau completed the top four with inseparable times. The young rookie and the experienced veteran are both making new starts, Pedrosa of course debuting in the category and Gibernau riding a Ducati for the first time. The final rider to go round in under 1’42, Shinya Nakano highlighted the dramatic improvement of the Kawasaki by coming in fifth. The Japanese had an impressive final test at the Jerez Circuit, one which seems to suit the Bridgestone tires and brand new engine of his 2006 bike.

With the cloudy skies which had put a dampener on the morning’s free practice not bringing rain to the circuit, the uninterrupted session was a chance for the riders to learn the finer points of the track in the dry. Marco Melandri and Colin Edwards were two of the riders to put in the most laps, their best times just over half a second off Rossi’s pace. zzzz

With his teammate in the Honda Factory team in the top three, Nicky Hayden trailed him by four tenths at the end of today’s qualifying. The top ten was completed by two rookies in the MotoGP premier class, Kawasaki’s Randy de Puniet and Honda’s Toni Elias, who only put in eleven laps of the track after missing the morning practice. .
Rider Nation Team Motorcycle Time Lap Total Gap Top Speed
1 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Camel Yamaha Team YAMAHA 1'41.613 19 24 278.1
2 65 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Ducati Marlboro Team DUCATI 1'41.625 20 23 0.012 0.012 281.8
3 26 Daniel PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team HONDA 1'41.798 23 29 0.185 0.173 283.5
4 15 Sete GIBERNAU SPA Ducati Marlboro Team DUCATI 1'41.798 16 22 0.185 281.8
5 56 Shinya NAKANO JPN Kawasaki Racing Team KAWASAKI 1'41.939 26 28 0.326 0.141 277.0
6 33 Marco MELANDRI ITA Fortuna Honda HONDA 1'42.108 25 25 0.495 0.169 278.6
7 5 Colin EDWARDS USA Camel Yamaha Team YAMAHA 1'42.266 26 26 0.653 0.158 279.8
8 69 Nicky HAYDEN USA Repsol Honda Team HONDA 1'42.276 22 29 0.663 0.010 278.1
9 17 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Kawasaki Racing Team KAWASAKI 1'42.455 23 27 0.842 0.179 273.5
10 24 Toni ELIAS SPA Fortuna Honda HONDA 1'42.518 11 26 0.905 0.063 284.1
11 10 Kenny ROBERTS USA Team Roberts KR211V 1'42.538 17 20 0.925 0.020 277.1
12 27 Casey STONER AUS Honda LCR HONDA 1'42.552 24 24 0.939 0.014 282.8
13 7 Carlos CHECA SPA Tech 3 Yamaha YAMAHA 1'42.608 25 28 0.995 0.056 274.5
14 21 John HOPKINS USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP SUZUKI 1'42.727 11 27 1.114 0.119 278.9
15 6 Makoto TAMADA JPN Konica Minolta Honda HONDA 1'42.868 24 24 1.255 0.141 280.7
16 71 Chris VERMEULEN AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP SUZUKI 1'43.101 22 24 1.488 0.233 273.8
17 30 Jose Luis CARDOSO SPA Pramac d'Antín MotoGP DUCATI 1'43.712 19 19 2.099 0.611 273.2
18 66 Alex HOFMANN GER Pramac d'Antín MotoGP DUCATI 1'43.781 19 19 2.168 0.069 275.9
19 77 James ELLISON GBR Tech 3 Yamaha YAMAHA 1'45.239 12 20 3.626 1.458 270.0
Fastest Lap: Lap: 19 Valentino ROSSI 1'41.613 156.7 Km/h

Rally driver killed Rally driver killedJorg Bastuck, co-driver for Aaron Burkart, was killed on the opening day of the Rally Catalunya on Friday.

Burkart and Bastuck went off the road in their Citroen C2. Neither were injured in the incident itself, but Bastuck was later hit by the next car into the stage when it too left the road at the same place as he was changing a wheel on the C2 Super 1600.

The 36-year-old was airlifted to hospital but succumbed to the severe injuries sustained in the accident.

"It is with deep regret that the organizers announce that Jorg Bastuck, co-driver in car number 54, has died as a result of injuries sustained during an accident in Special Stage 2 (El Montmell 1)," a statement from the rally organizers read. "Jorg Bastuck's family has been informed. The driver of car number 54 is uninjured.

"As a mark of respect, there will be no celebrations in Salou at the finish on Sunday 26 March."

Track News
State Police get pursuit training at Talladega State Police get pursuit training at TalladegaA class of approximately 18 Alabama State Trooper Trainees and their instructors have been on site this week, completing segments of the police driving component in their training. The Trooper Trainees have been using roads inside and outside the track - including the infield road course - to simulate high-speed pursuits and other scenarios. Trooper Lee McWaters, an Alabama State Trooper Academy instructor, said that this is the first time trainees have held driving training at Talladega Superspeedway, and the facility is perfectly suited to their needs. According to McWaters, each class of Alabama State Trooper Trainees are expected to complete 24 weeks of Academy training leading up to a 10-week field training program. Typically the first two weeks of training consist of driving instruction, with the first week being skills courses set up at The Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center located at the former Craig Air Force Base in Selma, Ala. The second week focuses on high-speed pursuits, so the trainees can push the cars as much as they would be pushed in such a situation on the highway, McWaters explained. "The only way we can do that is having a road course like we have here, where we can speed up and not be worried about traffic in a controlled environment," McWaters said. "For years we've had a flat road course at the Academy that we have used, but since Hurricane Katrina, FEMA came in and needed that area for temporary storage of mobile homes. We asked, and Talladega Superspeedway was kind of enough to let us utilize several of the roads on property, including this road course. You can't beat the experience they are getting here; since this course is actually not flat like the course we've used before, it is even more realistic. Hopefully we'll be able to do more training here in the future." The trainees have been on property since Monday and expect to wrap up the instruction Thursday afternoon, McWaters said. Talladega Speedway
McIntosh and Kerr up to speed in Renault testing McIntosh and Kerr up to speed in Renault testingBarcelona, Spain - Sean McIntosh's first official outing for Team KTR in the World Series by Renault ended successfully yesterday with the 20-year-old Canadian posting the sixth fastest time, from a field of 30 cars, in testing at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya. The two-day Spanish test marked the start of Sean's regular 2006 commitments following a series of impressive performances over the winter, including a memorable last-to-first victory in Indonesia, racing for A1 Team Canada in the A1 Grand Prix of Nations.

Learning the characteristics of his new-spec. 425bhp, 3.5-litre Dallara Renault and the 4.73km Circuit de Catalunya, home to the Spanish Grand Prix, Sean spent Wednesday's sessions getting to grips with both while forging his relationship with the Belgium-based crew from Team KTR. Running predominantly on used Michelin's, Sean's attempts to bang in a 'flier' on fresh rubber towards the end of the afternoon were thwarted by a series of red flags but the 2005 Formula Renault UK Vice- Champion was suitably pleased with the progress made on day one.

Thursday's sessions allowed Sean to further settle into his new surroundings and he reeled off a total of 60 laps over the two sessions. Setting a fastest time of 1m27.714s in the morning he then bettered this with a 1m27.624s in the afternoon to finish the test sixth overall on the timesheets and a place ahead of KTR team-mate, Britain's Robbie Kerr. zzzz

Sean McIntosh:

"We made real progress throughout Thursday and the afternoon session in particular was pretty tidy. I'm starting to develop a relationship with my engineer, Paul Heath. These things always take a bit of time but I think we're starting to click already which is encouraging. I'm getting a feel for the car now and can start to make changes to it so I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do next time out at Le Mans."

Robbie Kerr declared himself satisfied with the progress made following his first test outing for Team KTR in the 2006 World Series by Renault at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Wednesday 22nd - Thursday 23rd March. The 2002 British F3 Champion capped his pre-season debut with the sixth fastest time at the end of Wednesday's running followed by the seventh fastest time in yesterday afternoon's final session at the 2.93-mile Spanish F1 venue.

With 38 laps under his belt on Wednesday morning, a valuable opportunity for Kerr to learn the Barcelona track, the British racer banged in a lap of 1m23.536s on fresh Michelin tires to set the sixth fastest time in the afternoon session. A faster lap was on the agenda before Kerr was forced to abort the run thanks to a slower car ahead. Ultimately the day was about acclimatizing to a new team and new car having raced throughout the winter months in the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, steering A1 Team Great Britain's entry to third in the points including seven podium finishes.

Yesterday provided more of the same with Robbie improving his understanding of the car and ultimately finishing the second session seventh fastest with a 1m27.740s lap, the Brit denied a top-six finish by his KTR team-mate, Canada's Sean McIntosh.

Robbie Kerr:

"I'm pleased with what we achieved in Spain. First off the team's really professional and we've been working well together. Wednesday was really about finding a rhythm and getting used to driving something different from the A1GP car. I had some decent lap times on Thursday and just finished a tenth of a second behind Sean on the timesheets! Overall it's been good to get some mileage here as we finish the season in Barcelona so it gives us something to think about for when we return. I can't wait to get to the next test to try a few more things."

New Toyota likes softer setup New Toyota likes softer setupJarno Trulli took over from Ralf Schumacher in testing at Paul Ricard on Thursday as he and Toyota worked to understand more about how Bridgestone's tires perform. The team has struggled to get enough heat into the Japanese company's rubber.

"We worked on more tire and set-up testing to evaluate tires for Australia because so far we have just found out that we have to go softer on our car (suspension) in order to make the car work," Trulli said.

"At any rate we are looking at many options to understand how the car is behaving," he added. "One step is to work with a softer compound, which we were using this afternoon. Overall, we are mainly pushing hard this week to be competitive at the next races and I am sure we will have some interesting data to take with us to Australia."

Track News
Bristol honors Wallace Bristol honors WallaceRusty Wallace's name is already written all over the Bristol Motor Speedway record books, and as of Thursday his name is now written on the side of the speedway grandstands.  The tower, which tops the Kulwicki grandstand, was dedicated Thursday in honor of nine-time BMS Cup race winner Wallace, as well as a plaque on a pedestal in Legends Plaza in front of the Bruton Smith Building bearing an engraving of Wallace's likeness and a short narrative on Wallace's career.
Good test for Red Bull team Good test for Red Bull teamIt's not all beer and skittles being a grand prix driver. While many of his colleagues have been sunning themselves on tropical beaches, David Coulthard returned to Europe after the Malaysian Grand Prix to take part in a two day test in southern Spain, using a new RB2 chassis (number 4.) The first day of the test went very well, with David getting through the bulk of the planned program, which centered on suspension work in the morning, followed by tire evaluation for the up-coming San Marino and European Grands Prix in the afternoon. This morning also proved productive, as the team made various set-up changes to the car. However, some technical problems brought the test to a slightly premature end. Nevertheless, Chief Test Engineer, Ian Morgan, described the two days as "the best test session we have had with RB2 so far." Red Bull
MotoGP riders meet the press MotoGP riders meet the pressWith the first race of the season taking place on Sunday, five of MotoGP’s top riders faced the media for the opening press conference of 2006. Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa, John Hopkins, Shinya Nakano and Sete Gibernau took to the stage at 4pm local time, fielding questions from journalists and speaking about the upcoming Grand Prix.

World Champion Rossi was the first in line for questioning, and gave an answer to those who doubted his whether he was motivated this season.

“I am…..I hope that I am,” commented the Yamaha rider. He remained upbeat about the vibration problems which have been a recurring theme of the preseason, indicating that a solution was not far off.

“We have had just 10 days to fix the problem, which is usually something that appears in Barcelona but instead occurred in Jerez. The Japanese engineers have been trying to sort it, and we have new tires for this purpose.” The Italian also commented that although he wasn’t keen on the regulation change to 800c, that perhaps “the bikes would be too fast in 2007 otherwise.” John Hopkins showed his pleasure with a Suzuki bike he described as being “completely new”, indicating that his goal for this year was to get the most out of himself, his decision to stay with Suzuki was brought up during the press conference, to which Hopkins replied that: “I wouldn’t have been too happy to be riding another bike and seeing the Suzuki’s passing me.” The American rider also paid tribute to his Bridgestone tires, attributing as much as 50% of the credit for his improvement to them. zzzz

Sete Gibernau is looking for glory in a new team this season, and the Ducati rider eulogized those behind him in his drive for success.

“One thing I’ve learnt through the years is that a TEAM wins, not just the rider. I need to be surrounded by people who are focused on pushing for the championship,” commented the Spaniard ahead of his home Grand Prix. Shinya Nakano, fastest at the Jerez circuit during the first session of the final test, has seen a great improvement onboard the Kawasaki. He put this down to a completely new engine.

“It’s the same chassis, the same concept for the engine, but it’s brand new and we are getting closer and closer to the top.” Expected to challenge this season, Dani Pedrosa reiterated at the press conference that he needed time to get used to the machine. The reigning 250cc World Champion hopes to improve throughout the season, but expressed his happiness at being able to compete in the class.

“I have a good opportunity to do things I like in life, so I am pleased,” commented Pedrosa. MotoGP

Influx of new blood into MotoGP Influx of new blood into MotoGPThe biggest shake-up of recent years has occurred in the MotoGP class with several riders from last year, some with many years experience, being replaced by young riders making their first steps into MotoGP. The changes are as follows:

Out from last year have gone (with ages in brackets): Max Biaggi (34), Alex Barros (35), Troy Bayliss (36), Ruben Xaus (28), Roberto Rolfo (26), Franco Battaini (33) and Shane Byrne (29). Into the series come the following riders: Randy De Puniet (25), Dani Pedrosa (20), Jose Luis Cardoso (31), Chris Vermeulen (23) and Casey Stoner (20).

The age profile of the entry list has now reduced considerably, with the most senior rider now being Carlos Checa at the age of 33 years and 5 months at the opening race, closely followed by fellow Spaniard Sete Gibernau who is just 2 months younger. Among the current crop Checa is also the rider with most experience in the premier-class having made 157 starts.

Casey Stoner will be the youngest full-time rider in the MotoGP class taking the honor from John Hopkins, who has been the youngest for the last four years. The average age of the MotoGP entry list at the first race of the year will be 27 years and 8 weeks down from an average at the start of last year of 28 years and 27 weeks. MotoGP

One for the Family Album One for the Family AlbumThe 19 premier class riders of MotoGP were all on the grid today, albeit sans bikes. The home straight of the Jerez circuit was the scene of the annual photo session where the season opening MotoGP race will be held this weekend.

The event was penciled in for the Catalunya Test, although due to rainy conditions and the absence of Casey Stoner through injury it was moved to today.

World Champion Valentino Rossi was the centerpiece of the shot, lining up with teammate Colin Edwards and the Fortuna Honda riders Marco Melandri and Toni Elías. Repsol Honda riders Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa, completed the front row. MotoGP

TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

NASCAR Busch Practice Bristol
8:00am-9:00am(L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Qualifying Bristol
12:00pm-1:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Bristol
1:30pm-2:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Happy Hour Bristol
2:00pm-3:00pm (SDD) FX
NASCAR Busch Series  Bristol
3:00pm-5:30pm (L) FOX
IHRA Drag Racing Rockingham
5:00pm-6:00pm SPEED
Speed News 
7:30pm-8:00pm SPEED
Rolex Sports Car Series Homestead-Miami, FL
8:00pm-11:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Tradin' Paint (Nextel Cup)  
11:00pm-11:30pm SPEED
NASCAR Performance 
11:30pm-12:00am SPEED

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

Patrick worried about Sophomore Slump Patrick worried about Sophomore SlumpIs Danica Patrick worried about  a sophomore slump?  She told the South Florida Sun Sentinel, "Yeah, I'm worried about any slump, I don't want to have a decline in performance. But I've been saying this frequently, you never can tell, when maybe you'll just have an off year. Maybe the team won't have it together quite as well maybe you'll be struggling with the car all year, maybe all these things will happen and you just can't control that kind of stuff. It might not be me being a worse driver, I might be a better driver, but if everything doesn't fall into place then you can be the best driver in the world and you won't be in the front."
Roush Racing hiring Roush Racing hiringRoush Racing is expanding and we are currently seeking experienced race team personnel. All shop, road crew, purchasing and over the wall positions available. Please mail your resume and salary history to: Roush Racing, ATTN: Human Resources, 122 Knob Hill Road, Mooresville NC 28117 or fax your resume to 704-664-2775 new number. Please indicate position/s desired. No phone calls please. Roush Racing is an equal opportunity employer.
Racing News
First ever Israeli race car First ever Israeli race carUPDATE While below may be the first ever open wheel single seater race car, this isn't the first Israeli race car. Notes from the 54th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring: 
"While it has not been uncommon to see cars from Germany, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, and the USA compete at Sebring, a most unusual entry occurred in 1963 with a Sabra built in Israel."

03/23/06 Tuesday was a historic day for Israeli motorsports as the first ever singleseater racing car to be developed here was taken on its maiden drive.

Driver Aric Lapter and his team chose a race track in Ashdod to launch their Formula Vee car, a 14-month-long project.

Lapter, a mechanical engineering graduate of Tel Aviv University, began racing for Formula Ford in Italy eight years ago at the Henry Morrogh racing school. Since then, he has driven Formula 4 and Formula 3 cars and test driven Formula Vee at Silverstone in England.

"People thought I was mad, they said that a race car had never been made in Israel," the enigmatic driver said. "So I thought, why not? I'll be the first."   More at jpost.com

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Schu in Oz
Problem solving back in Europe
Klien's 'moment of truth' in F1
JV is back on song, says Sauber
'06 is F1's 'best ever' season - Lauda
F1's US rival on road to revival
Rubens denies Ferrari fall-out
Mateschitz baulks at title prophecy
Lauda tells Fisi to 'go for it'
Toyota confirm Fuji's Suzuka steal
Newman/Haas team wraps up Sebring test Newman/Haas team wraps up Sebring testRain brought an early end to the second of a two-day test at Sebring International Raceway today for two-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais and teammate Bruno Junqueira.  The drivers completed a combined total of 840 trouble-free miles on the 1-65 mile road course over the two days of testing in preparation for the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. 

“We did a lot of work yesterday and today and found some interesting things that that will hopefully pay off during the season,” said McDonald's driver Bourdais who has spent a lot of time at Sebring recently while competing in, and winning the GT2 class of the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 18 in a Multimatic Panoz.  “We got a lot done yesterday and ran for four or five hours today until the rain came.  After it stopped we did some pit stop practice but then it started again so we had to end our test early.  We only have one more test before the season-opener in a couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to it!” zzzz

Junqueira, who also ran in the 12 Hours of Sebring for the same team in the sister car, was unable to get many racing laps under his belt during the 12 Hour race as his car succumbed to mechanical problems early but he was happy to run many miles in his Champ Car. The April 9 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will mark the first time since May 22, 2005 that he will participate in a Champ Car race due to sustaining an injury in the Indy Racing League-sanctioned Indianapolis 500 on May 29, 2005. 

“We had two, really good days of testing,” said Junqueira.  “We found lots of good areas to improve the car.  I’m very happy with the work the team did over the winter.  Today we did some long runs in race setup and the car was pretty fast, pretty consistent.  It was good to work more with (race engineer) Tom (Smith).  We are working well together.  I think we are going to do well this season.”

The test began on Wednesday and Bourdais completed 250 miles (152 laps) with a best time of 49.9 while Junqueira completed 240 miles (145 laps) with a best lap time of 50.3.  With rain forecast for the afternoon today the team ran through lunch and until approx. 3 p.m. when rain began falling.  Once the rain stopped 45 minutes later, Bourdais performed pit stop practice until torrential rain began at approx. 4:15 p.m. ET and ended all activity.  Both Bourdais and Junqueira ran 175 miles each today with Bourdais setting a best lap time of 50.1 and Junqueira a 50.2.   

Newman/Haas Racing will participate in their final pre-season test next week when they run at The California Speedway’s road course on March 29-30 prior to the season-opening race the following weekend.  Bourdais will attempt to become the first open-wheel driver to earn three consecutive titles since Ted Horn accomplished the feat from 1946-1948 while Junqueira will attempt to keep him from accomplishing the feat by earning his maiden title.  The Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will take place April 7-9, 2006.

Newman/Haas Racing LLC, owned by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas, is the most successful team competing in the Champ Car World Series and second most successful open-wheel racing team overall. Marlboro Team Penske has 124 open-wheel wins in 39 seasons while NHR has 90 in 24 seasons.  The team will begin their 24th season in Champ Car competition in 2006 and will attempt to score their seventh overall title after winning 90 races and 92 pole positions. Current drivers Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira were preceded at the team by Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta as well as 2005 driver Oriol Servia.  For more information log on to www.newman-haas.com, www.brunojunqueira.com, www.sebastien-bourdais.com, or www.champcarworldseries.comNewman/Haas Racing

Champ Car Atlantic Drivers Champ Car Atlantic DriversTo the right is 27 of the anticipated 30 Champ Car Atlantic Drivers that will line up in the season opening race at Long Beach in two weeks.  Can you name them all? Photo courtesy of Champ Car
Lorenzo Mandarino off to Europe Lorenzo Mandarino off to EuropeBURNABY, BC  – Immediately after logging a pair of top ten finishes, including a runner-up finish in ICA, in the opening round of the Snap-on Stars of Karting national championships in Oklahoma last weekend, Canadian karting sensation Lorenzo Mandarino has turned his sights on a flight across the Atlantic Ocean.  Mandarino has already traveled to Europe for the first stop of the five-race Italian Open Masters series.  The 19 year-old pilot will join the official factory team for GP Racing Karts on Thursday to carry the squad’s flag in the ICC 125cc shifterkart category.  This will be a three-day race weekend at the La Conca Karting circuit, with practice beginning on Friday.  As part of a packaged schedule specifically designed to give emerging young star loads of track time and top-level experience, Mandarino is extremely excited about this new opportunity. zzzz

Mandarino capped the 2005 season by winning what is arguably the most prestigious race in North American karting - the headline ICC class at the Superkarts! USA SuperNationals - and he is off to a great start this year.  An impressive outing to begin the Stars of Karting series – which caught the eye and pens of the country’s karting media - has Mandarino motivated to begin his European program on a high note.  However, gaining experience and becoming acclimatized with the Italian program will be the primary target.

“Right now, I really have no idea what to expect at La Conca,” admitted GP’s newest official driver. “I’m just going to walk in with an open mind and put my fate in the hands of the team.  The new GP is a great chassis and I’m looking forward to seeing where we stack up from the very beginning.  I don’t know the track, so that will be the first hurdle, but I’ll get it figured out.  The European Championships is obviously the real target for this program, so any kind of tune-up will be positive.”

Mandarino’s domestic Stars of Karting program will consist of running in the ICA class in the East Division with High-Rev Engineering’s Marc Zartarian and his potent Vortex power and in the West with KLS Racing’s shop program with George Barks TM.  In addition to this Italian Open Masters program, Mandarino will also run with the GP factory team in the European Championship and World Championship programs.  The Canadian’s efforts are backed by NewWay Forming, Rossi Motorsports, Drivers Edge, OMP, KLS/GP Racing, Kart Racing Technologies, High-Rev Engineering, George Barks TM Racing and the Signs Factory.

Rahal Letterman enters 6 cars for Indy 500 Rahal Letterman enters 6 cars for Indy 500Former Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice will drive one of six cars entered by Rahal Letterman Racing on Thursday for the May 28 race.  Danica Patrick and rookie Paul Dana were also named. The Rahal Letterman cars increased the entry list to 12. The entry deadline is April 5.
Pruett Claims Top Spot in Homestead Pruett Claims Top Spot in HomesteadHOMESTEAD, Fla.  – On a practice day that saw the top 12 cars covered by less than one second, Scott Pruett put the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley atop the time charts in preparation for Saturday’s Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami (SPEED, 8 p.m. ET).

Pruett logged a best lap at 1:14.781 (110.723 mph) in the first of the day’s two practice sessions and the time held up through the first Rolex Series evening practice session. Pruett and co-driver Luis Diaz are looking for a second-consecutive victory after claiming the Mexico City 250 win three weeks ago, and are looking to keep Chip Ganassi Racing undefeated in 2006 Rolex Series competition. NASCAR driver Casey Mears and IndyCar Series champions Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon drove the team’s No. 02 Target Lexus Riley to victory in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

“It was a pretty standard day for the Ganassi team,” Pruett said. “A few variables are different this weekend with the race starting later in the day, but overall I’m pleased with the team’s performance. There were some incidents with other cars that slowed the sessions down a bit, but we were able to make a lot of progress and get the CompUSA car where it needed to be by day’s end. I think the team has some great momentum coming off of the win in Mexico City, and now we’re focused on getting a win here and coming out ahead in the points.”

Turning in the day’s second-best time was Oswaldo Negri Jr. in the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley for Michael Shank Racing. Negri clocked a lap at 1:14.933 (110.499 mph) in a brand-new car owing to the Brazilian’s crash during practice in Mexico City. Negri and co-driver Mark Patterson opened the year with a second-place performance in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and the duo is hoping to return to the podium this weekend.  zzzz

“It says a lot about Michael Shank Racing,” said Negri of his performance. “This is a brand-new car and we were P2 right away. The car is not quite there yet, not like I want, but we are working hard on it. I think we can improve on a couple of spots. It’s pretty good with the Lexus engine working absolutely fantastic. Driving at night was very, very interesting. It’s much darker than I thought. Besides that, we are looking good. I’m confident. My teammate, Mark Patterson, is doing a good job and Mike Shank Racing, those are the guys.”

Defending Daytona Prototype co-champion Max Angelelli turned-in the third-quickest time of the day, and was quickest in the evening session with a lap at 1:15.035 (110.349 mph) in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley. In addition to winning the 2005 Daytona Prototype title, Angelelli and co-driver Wayne Taylor are also the defending champions at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Mike Rockenfeller was fourth-quickest in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing/Emory Motorsports Porsche Crawford with a lap at 1:15.167 (110.155 mph). Rockenfeller and co-driver Patrick Long are reunited in the No. 23 machine for the first time since January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, where the duo finished third alongside Lucas Luhr.

Andy Wallace completed the top five in the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford for Howard-Boss Motorsports. A two-time Rolex Series winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Wallace posted a best lap at 1:15.227 (110.067 mph). Wallace is teamed with Butch Leitzinger, who has finished on the podium in his last two Rolex Series appearances at Homestead.

In the GT class, Wolf Henzler topped the speed charts, posting a lap time of 1:21.918 (101.077 mph) in the No. 72 NEC/Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3 for Tafel Racing in the afternoon session. Henzler and co-driver Robin Liddell are currently in a four-way tie with Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins for third in the current GT driver standings.

Edwards was second-quickest on the day in the No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R, posting a lap time of 1:22.600 (100.242 mph) also in the weekend’s first workout. Edwards and Collins are coming into the weekend carrying the momentum from a class triumph in the Mexico City 250 three weeks ago.

Tafel Racing put another of its machines in the top three on the GT charts with a lap time of 1:22.904 (99.875 mph) by Andrew Davis in the No. 73 NEC/Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3. Davis and co-driver Jim Tafel look to improve on their fifth-place class result in Mexico City as the duo is currently tied for ninth in the GT standings, 17 points behind leaders Andy Lally and Marc Bunting.

Lally turned his fastest lap of the day in the No. 65 iRise/F1 Air/TRG Pontiac GTO.R he is sharing with Bunting and RJ Valentine in the afternoon session, a lap time of 1:23.377 (99.308 mph), good for eighth best in class. The No. 65 machine is the only Rolex Series car this season to have recorded podium finishes in each of the first two races, following up a runner-up finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona with a third-place run in Mexico City. Bunting and Lally look to extend their nine-point lead in the points with another strong performance Saturday night. Grand-Am

TV News
Jim Michaelian on Wind Tunnel Jim Michaelian on Wind TunnelJim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, will be a featured interview on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain this Sunday, March 26th, at 9:00 p.m. ET. Since the Grand Prix’s inception back in 1975, Michaelian has been part of the organization, serving such roles as controller, Chief Operating Officer, and now President and CEO. As the 32nd annual Grand Prix of Long Beach approaches, we’ll talk to Jim about the success of this event as well as the challenges it has faced along the way.

Featured Interview Eddie Gossage (President and General Manager, Texas Motor Speedway)

President and General Manager of the Texas Motor Speedway, Eddie Gossage, will also be a featured interview on Wind Tunnel this Sunday. Celebrating its 10th birthday this season, the Texas Motor Speedway has seen its fair share of exciting moments in the racing world. We’ll talk to Eddie about some of those moments as well as get a thought or two about his upcoming CUP event.

Topics of Discussion
IRL Season Opener in Homestead
Rolex Series in Homestead
Grand Prix of Long Beach Preview
MotoGP Season Opener in Spain
AMA Supercross in Detroit
…and much more!

Another sponsor for Danica Patrick Another sponsor for Danica PatrickLakewood, Colorado based VIDEO PROFESSOR, the leader in computing self-tutorial lessons has signed on as a sponsor for Indy Racing League star Danica Patrick.

The VIDEO PROFESSOR logo will be atop Danica's helmet for the entire 2006 IRL season. Race fans also saw the VIDEO PROFESSOR logo on Danica's helmet during the last two races of the 2005 season.

"The Indy Racing League is without a doubt, the most competitive in all of auto racing and Danica Patrick is one of the league's biggest and brightest stars," said VIDEO PROFESSOR CEO and Founder John Scherer. "We're excited to be a Danica Patrick sponsor."

This is Danica Patrick's 2nd full season in the Indy Racing League. In 2005 she was voted Rookie of the Year, Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the year and finished 4th overall at the 500. Patrick also was the first woman to ever lead a lap at Indianapolis. Patrick also won two poles in 2005. And you can bet that Victory Lane will be next.

"Danica Patrick personifies everything I admire in a person," says Scherer. "She's determined, works hard and settles for nothing but the best in life and in racing."

Glick to start Long Beach GP Glick to start Long Beach GPLONG BEACH, Calif.  -- Shav Glick, who recently retired from the Los Angeles Times after 52 years as a sportswriter - 36 of those years as the nation's finest motorsports writer - will be in the flag stand and serve as honorary starter for the April 9, 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Champ Car World Series race.

Glick, 85, has covered the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach since its inception in 1975.  He was a classmate of Jackie Robinson's at Pasadena Junior College, and later became Robinson's golfing buddy.  He watched Ted Williams play baseball in high school.

Glick has also covered the Olympic Games and golf - among many other sports - and is the only general-circulation daily newspaper writer enshrined in the Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Tickets for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, featuring six racing events including the opening round of the 2006 Champ Car World Series, can be purchased from the Grand Prix ticket office by calling the toll-free ticket hotline at (888) 82-SPEED.  A handy ticket brochure - which includes circuit map, grandstand and parking locations, ticket prices and order form - can be obtained by calling the ticket hotline. Tickets are also available online at longbeachgp.com or ticketmaster.com.

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

Rain shortens Sebring test Rain shortens Sebring testSEBRING, Fla., - The rains came to Central Florida today, but not in time to stop the teams and drivers of the Champ Car World Series from getting in another day of work as they prepare for the start of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.

Newman/Haas Racing with Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Bruno Junqueira (#2 Newman/Haas Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) led the way over the two days of testing at Sebring International Raceway, with Bourdais clocking a best lap of 49.93 seconds on Wednesday. Both drivers ran again on Thursday before afternoon rains closed things down three hours early.

"Things went very well for us," Bourdais said. "We had a very good first day, the conditions were just about perfect and we worked on quite a few things. The track was very grippy and fast, and we did a lot of laps so it was a good physical workout as well. We ran a lot of laps and a lot of them in the 50s (seconds), so we were working hard. I think we're ready for the season to start."

PKV Racing ran two days with Katherine Legge (#20 Gulfstream/Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Oriol Servia (#6 Gulfstream/Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), although Servia ran a 50-mile day today as did Nelson Philippe (#4 CTE Racing - HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).  zzzz 

Legge ran a full second day and is making the most of her final test sessions prior to her April 9 Champ Car debut at Long Beach.

"Things are really going well for us as we keep working toward getting ready for Long Beach," Legge said. "The team has been 100 percent behind me and I think that we have gotten to the point where we have good chemistry. Of course I am very excited about working with Oriol and he has been very helpful so far. Jimmy (Vasser) has been great too and I think we'll be in good shape at Long Beach."

CTE Racing - HVM ran just 50 miles with new signee Philippe today, but put in 51 laps with former British F3 driver Dan Clarke. The 2004 Formula Ford Festival champion ran a few stints to get familiar with the Champ Car as the team looks to finalize its driver lineup for 2006.

"The car feels really good. It did everything I expected it to," said Clarke, who had tested earlier with Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing. "It was hard work out there. The team told me to do some six-lap runs but I pushed out to 10 because Long Beach is only two weeks away and you can't afford to get into things slowly now."

Clarke was on hand as a possible driver for the team's second car, which will carry the #14 instead of the #55 this season. The 22-year-old Brit is looking to run his first season in the United States, and wants to do it in Champ Car.

"The main thing that interests me about Champ Car is that it's a level playing field here," he said. "The teams are much more equal than they are in Formula 1 and I want to race in a series that allows you to go out and show how good you are and I think Champ Car is the best for that.

CTE Racing - HVM will test at Sebring again for the next two days while the majority of the teams are traveling cross-country to participate in Champ Car open testing at California Speedway next Wednesday and Thursday. All the testing is in preparation for the season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which takes place April 7-9. The race can be seen live on NBC beginning at 4 p.m. on Sunday April 9. Champ Car
track news
Milwaukee Mile installs SAFER Barrier Milwaukee Mile installs SAFER BarrierUPDATE Photos of the wall installation have been added below.

03/23/06 Milwaukee, Wis. (March 22, 2006) - The Milwaukee Mile has taken another step in the direction of recent safety and facility improvements, with the installation of the SAFER Barrier System, an energy-dissipating system that has been fastened to the speedway's existing concrete wall.

SAFER, an acronym for Steel And Foam Energy Reduction Barrier System, is constructed of a hollow steel impact plate, buffered with polystyrene foam blocks.

The latest version of the SAFER Barrier is being placed this week, which allows the most recent technology in energy-absorbing materials to be placed in the turns of America's Legendary Oval to minimize the forces of impact in the case of a wall contact accident during a Champ Car, NASCAR, IRL IndyCar Series or ARCA RE/MAX Series competition, in addition to providing additional safety for the many other factions of Motorsports that compete at The Mile.

The Milwaukee Mile is located on the Wisconsin State Fair grounds and is owned by the State of Wisconsin.  The Mile was granted approval by the Wisconsin State Building Commission to provide $1.2 million in non-tax supported bonding for multiple improvements, with $1 million tabbed for SAFER Barrier System installation.  The funds were approved by the state of Wisconsin in 2005, prior to the mid-December approval of Milwaukee Mile Holdings LLC as the race promoter rights holder for the next 18 years.  zzzz

With the signature of approval by Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle in place, SAFER Barrier System work had begun in earnest on this $1 million improvement project just last week, with a projected completion date of April 1, 2006, in time for track testing and the speedway's diverse 2006 racing schedule.

"With the new grandstands in place for the 2003 season, the spectators and participants at The Milwaukee Mile have seen vast improvements in the interest of safety and comfort.  The installation of the SAFER Barrier System is the next step to provide a safer racing environment at the world's oldest operating speedway," said Milwaukee Mile Holdings LLC chairman Craig Stoehr.

The installation is being done by Elrod Corporation, based in Mooresville, Indiana.  Elrod is the only licensed and approved manufacturer and installer of the SAFER Barrier System.  By contract, Elrod personnel will be on-hand for at least the first weekend of competition at The Milwaukee Mile, the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 Champ Car World Series race weekend June 2-4. 

"We are pleased to be involved with America's Legendary Oval, and the installation of the SAFER Barrier System.  Elrod Corporation is committed to the highest safety standards, and are installing the most current materials and technology available, to ensure the storied racing tradition at The Milwaukee Mile continues in the safest manner possible," said Elrod Corporation senior project manager Jason Turk.

Overseeing the track operations of this project are Gary Girard, chief operating officer of The Milwaukee Mile and Jeff Jacobson, engineer for Wisconsin State Fair Park.

"With virtually every weekend between May and September booked with track activities - from karting to club racing to our four major race weekends - the installation of the SAFER Barrier System provides a safer environment for all of our participants racing on our oval track," said Girard.

The SAFER Barrier System Design has evolved since it was implemented initially at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  The process in analyzing the physics behind racing's devastating high-speed accidents involved researchers from the Midwest Roadside Safety Group at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, working with the IRL, NASCAR and manufacturing engineers at Elrod Corporation.

Upon impact, the SAFER Barrier System: - Dissipates impact energy before it fully reaches the vehicle's occupant - Decreases peak forces applied to the vehicle by spreading the impact event over an extended distance along the wall-=thus affording the occupant restraint systems more time to function optimally - Minimizes the risk that the vehicle will be propelled back out into high-speed traffic

SAFER Barrier System at The Milwaukee Mile By The Numbers:

  • $1 million The estimated cost of materials and installation of SAFER Barrier System at The Milwaukee Mile
  • 3,472 linear feet The total length of hollow steel impact plate being installed in Turns 1-2 and Turns 3-4
  • 28 feet The length of each barrier section
  • 14 feet The distance between cables and straps anchored to the concrete wall and the steel tubing
  • 17A, 19A, 23A These part numbers differentiate the radius of the wall panels.  The varying radiuses reflect a better fit to the curvature of existing track walls and the transition to/from the straightaways.
  • 5 feet The spacing between bundles of 2-inch thick extruded polystyrene sheets stacked in a pyramid configuration for optimum collapsing effect.
  • 5 x 8 = 40 There are five 8-inch x 8'inch hollow steel box tubes stacked and welded in each 40-inch high panel
  • 124 Pieces of 28-foot wall panel tube sections that splice together to comprise the barrier
  • 3070 Number of ASTM A325 galvanized bolts used in the wall splices that interlock the wall panels
  • 110 Gallons of Sherwin Williams Metal Latex B-42 Semi Gloss paint expected to be used to paint the SAFER Barrier System
  • 75-percent On-board collision data recorders in vehicles that have crashed with and without the SAFER Barrier System in place have show a 75% reduction in g-force felt in the driver's compartment. Milwaukee Mile
New Silver Crown Series continues to be rejected New Silver Crown Series continues to be rejectedWith just 12 cars again at Homestead this weekend, competitors continue to reject USAC's new NASCARized Silver Crown Series.  It was thought after the embarrassing poor showing at Phoenix at the Copper World Classic that more competitors would join the series, but perhaps the drivers think it is suicidal to race open wheel front engine cars on banked high-speed ovals.  Recall the days of the front engine roadsters - drivers would die every week.
NASCAR slams cheaters NASCAR slams cheatersNASCAR announced today that penalties have been issued to two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams, as a result of rule violations this past weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Rodney Childers, crew chief for the No. 10 Dodge driven by Scott Riggs, has been fined $10,000 for violating Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-4-W (improperly attached weight) of the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup rule book. The violation was discovered during practice.

David Hyder, crew chief for the No. 21 Ford driven by Ken Schrader, has been fined $1,000 for violating Sections 12-4-A; 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment that do not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-3.2.3A (unapproved side window).  The violation was discovered during pre-qualifying inspection.

• Additionally, Thomas Harris, a member of the No. 66 race team, has been fined $5,000 and indefinitely suspended from NASCAR for violating Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing/unauthorized duplication of a NASCAR Annual Credential).

17-year old not allowed to race 17-year old not allowed to raceRolex Series Daytona Prototype points leader Colin Braun will miss the third round of the season this weekend at Homestead after being told he will not be allowed to compete at the Texas venue.

The 17-year-old, who leads the standings alongside Jorg Bergmeister after a fifth place finish at the Rolex 24 and a second place finish in Mexico City, has fallen foul of a ruling in place which prevents a competitor under 18-years-old from competing at Homestead while tobacco sponsorship is present.

The team, which at no time was aware of the rule, sought advice on the matter and looked at the possible solutions available but the ultimate result is that Braun will have to sit on the sidelines this weekend – with Max Papis coming in to partner Bergmeister in the #76 Ford-Riley.

"To say we aren't disappointed would be grave injustice to Colin and to the #76 prototype entry," team owner Tracy Krohn said. "Entering this race we had no reason to believe that there would be a problem in Colin's participation in this event. Nothing in our experience or in the Grand American competition rules suggested that there would be any issue with Colin's age. zzzz

We were informed of this unique scenario just days ago and, upon reviewing every avenue available to us in effort to come to an acceptable resolution, we have decided it is in the best interest of Colin's career for him to sit out this event. This is a great blow to Colin, to his championship aspirations and to Krohn Racing. However, we will return in force at Long Beach."

Braun was understandably disappointed by the news and said he was keen to be back in action at Long Beach.

"I am obviously very disappointed that I will not race this weekend and defend the championship lead," he said. "I am more disappointed for Krohn Racing and my guys. They have put in a tremendous effort to prepare for this race. We had a great test here a few weeks ago and I was really looking forward to driving at Homestead.

"I don't really understand all the issues that the tobacco industry must deal with but I do know that a lot of people were trying to work things out so that I could compete at Homestead this weekend. I was going to try my best to have a good finish and earn enough points to maintain my lead in the championship, but it doesn't look like that will happen. All I can do is go on to the next race at Long Beach and try my best there.

"At least I had the point lead before this happened. I don't know of any driver who lost a title due to something like this before. But I've already learned that in racing you just have to regroup from adversity and keep on trying and things will work out for the best in the end, so that's what I'm going to try to do."
We were informed of this unique scenario just days ago and, upon reviewing every avenue available to us in effort to come to an acceptable resolution, we have decided it is in the best interest of Colin's career for him to sit out this event. This is a great blow to Colin, to his championship aspirations and to Krohn Racing. However, we will return in force at Long Beach."

Braun was understandably disappointed by the news and said he was keen to be back in action at Long Beach.

"I am obviously very disappointed that I will not race this weekend and defend the championship lead," he said. "I am more disappointed for Krohn Racing and my guys. They have put in a tremendous effort to prepare for this race. We had a great test here a few weeks ago and I was really looking forward to driving at Homestead.

"I don't really understand all the issues that the tobacco industry must deal with but I do know that a lot of people were trying to work things out so that I could compete at Homestead this weekend. I was going to try my best to have a good finish and earn enough points to maintain my lead in the championship, but it doesn't look like that will happen. All I can do is go on to the next race at Long Beach and try my best there.

"At least I had the point lead before this happened. I don't know of any driver who lost a title due to something like this before. But I've already learned that in racing you just have to regroup from adversity and keep on trying and things will work out for the best in the end, so that's what I'm going to try to do." Grand-Am

McLaren F1 car on display at Hugo Boss store McLaren F1 car on display at Hugo Boss storeShoppers at HUGO BOSS latest store on Sloane Square in London are now able to admire a Team McLaren Mercedes Formula One car. The Formula One car – showcasing the team's shiny new livery - is on permanent display and arrived at the store on the Sunday of the 2006 Malaysian Grand Prix. 2006 is a significant year in the Partnership between HUGO BOSS and McLaren as the two companies have now been together for 25 years – one of the longest associations in sport.
Kovalainen again on top at Paul Ricard Kovalainen again on top at Paul RicardThursday test times from Paul Ricard in France
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Kovalainen Renault (M) 1:04:400 213
 2. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (M) 1:04:905 96
 3. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:05:094 145
 4. Paffett McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:05:518 153
 5. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:05:702 72
 6. Zonta Toyota (B) 1:05:738 121
Industry News
GM to raise cash by selling off portion of GMAC GM to raise cash by selling off portion of GMACGeneral Motors Corp. said Thursday that its finance arm is raising nearly $9 billion in cash by selling a majority interest in its commercial mortgage division in a move that spruces up the books of the auto loan and insurance business the struggling automaker is trying to sell.

General Motors Acceptance Corp. is getting $1.5 billion in cash from an investment group for a 78 percent stake in the commercial mortgage business. In addition, that business, known as GMAC Commercial Holding Corp., repaid $7.3 billion in intercompany loans. That boosts the total proceeds to GMAC to almost $9 billion.

The announcement comes a day after GM and its major supplier, Delphi Corp., said they plan to offer buyouts to more than 125,000 hourly workers under an agreement with the United Auto Workers. Workers are expected to start leaving GM by June 1.

Corvette team tests for LeMans Corvette team tests for LeMansCertainly not a group to rest on its laurels, Corvette Racing was back at work Tuesday and Wednesday at Road Atlanta for a post-Sebring shakedown. Both of the team’s Corvette C6.Rs, including the Sebring-winning No. 4 entry, turned in a number of laps with the main emphasis being on tire testing and engine longevity for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“Every time you work with Michelin, you’re improving the game,” said Johnny O’Connell, driver of the No. 3 Corvette C6.R. “We’re confident going forward not just for Le Mans, but for the entire American Le Mans Series season, too.”

All six Corvette Racing drivers attended, the last time the group will drive together before Le Mans in June. The cars were taken straight from Sebring to Braselton, Ga., and rolled off the transporter without any maintenance or tinkering following the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. zzzz

There wasn’t much to be concerned about in the Corvette camp after the 12 Hours. The only problem either car experienced was a gearbox malfunction on the No. 3 car of O’Connell, Ron Fellows and Max Papis. The No. 4 sister car of Olivier Beretta, Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen took the GT1 class lead just past the one-hour mark and never relinquished it.

“Each time I win a race with Corvette Racing, I always think, ‘Wow that was a good one!’” said Beretta, who now holds the Series’ record for most career victories with his 25. “It looks like every time we go to a race that we need to win, it is another fantastic victory.

”The car ran super fast, and we didn't have any problems at all,” Beretta added. “We just refueled and put on new tires, and we got the trophy as a team.”

Champ Car open test at Fontana Champ Car open test at FontanaUPDATE Correction - test is open to public Thursday only.

03/23/06 INDIANAPOLIS  – The teams and drivers of the Champ Car World Series are using the last few weeks before the start of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season to make sure they have everything prepared for the April 9 season opener.

To that end, Champ Car is holding its final preseason test session next Wednesday and Thursday at California Speedway to allow teams to work on their final days of preseason preparation.

Teams scheduled to test during the two days include Newman/Haas Racing, Forsythe Championship Racing, PKV Racing, Dale Coyne Racing, Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing and RuSPORT.

This test is not open to the public.

Q and A with Ralf Schumacher Q and A with Ralf SchumacherAfter a disastrous outing in Bahrain, Toyota were back in the points in Malaysia thanks to Ralf Schumacher’s eighth place. Having had a few days to reflect on their performance, Schumacher spoke to the team’s press office about their difficult start to the 2006 season…

Q: After problems in Bahrain it must have been a relief to score a point in Malaysia?
Ralf Schumacher:
Well yes, but we knew that the problems we had in Bahrain meant that the race did not reflect our level of performance and so we were always looking for much more in Malaysia. We were in better shape and it was certainly good to open our 2006 points account, but we have much higher ambitions than eighth place. Without the engine problem in qualifying I think I could have done a lot better, so it was a bit unfortunate even if it was a step forward.

Q: What was the big difference, Bahrain to Malaysia?
In Bahrain the car just had no grip but the balance felt okay and that's a pretty unusual set of circumstances. We just expected the weather to be hotter in Bahrain and the track temperature is an important element of making sure that the tires are working in their correct operating window. The forecast in Bahrain was 46 degrees track temperature and it never came to that. On the first day in Malaysia we saw a clear difference and it was much easier to get the tires into the working range, therefore we were closer to the pace.

Q: Are you confident in the tire development considering that Toyota is with a different supplier this year?
Yes, certainly. It is a big learning curve because the philosophy of different tire manufacturers is not the same. But the development over the winter was a good step from where we started and Bridgestone made a good job of it. It was evident from Bahrain that the tires were pretty close, it was simply that we didn't make our car work on the tires that we had. I think it will be interesting as the season develops. zzzz

Q: Did you have tires good for both one lap and longer runs in Malaysia?
Yes, we were reasonably happy with what we had although the engineers are saying that it looks as if we will be operating in the softer end of the spectrum because our car is quite gentle on tires. But in Malaysia the rubber was very consistent and I was doing some very competitive lap times in the race.

Q: How badly were you compromised by an engine failure in qualifying?
It's hard to know exactly but it is never good! I made it into the top 10 run-off in qualifying but the failure came in the second session, which obviously meant that I could not take drive in the run-off. It was not a significant part of the engine, it was actually just an oil pump drive that broke, but it still meant that I had to start from the back of the grid. If I had been able to do the top 10 run-off I think I could have qualified close to the leading cars.

Q: But you drove a pretty impressive first lap!
I think I went from the back to 13th on the first lap, which was important and allowed me to be in contention for a point later on. But I also had quite high pneumatic air consumption and that meant the team switching me to a three-stop race strategy when the intention had been to stop just twice.

Q: You caught Jacques Villeneuve before the end but presumably you never had a chance to overtake?
No. We had quite a lot of wings on the car, which made us very quick through the second sector of the lap but not so fast on the straight. I was never in a position to challenge and I had to be happy with one point.

Q: With such heat and humidity, is Sepang the biggest physical test you face?
It really depends a bit on the car. If you have a reasonable car to drive it is a very enjoyable race but if you are working hard to keep the car on the road then you certainly feel the heat. The TF106 actually feels quite nice to drive, so I had no problems.

Q: How much is Toyota losing by not having a third car this year?
It's always a help to have a third car and especially so this year because the engine and tire regulations have limited even more the mileage done by the race drivers on Friday. Ricardo Zonta always did a strong job for us and we certainly miss having him on the track. You have much more information with a third driver and the race cars need to do less laps, but that's the situation. The rules say that the top four teams cannot use a third car and we want to be a top team, so you have to live with it.

Q: What do you anticipate in the Melbourne race on April 2?
Hopefully we can again be at a good level. The weather in Melbourne has been hotter than anticipated and we will have to look carefully at the tire choice. We have an important tire test at Paul Ricard in France before the Australian race and we expect to learn more there. It looks like being a very competitive season but my race pace at Sepang was good and I set a fastest lap that was on a par with Jenson Button, who finished on the podium, and with McLaren. Hopefully we can start challenging for podiums again soon.

Audi sets best time at last DTM test Audi sets best time at last DTM testAudi edged clear at the last official test before the start of the new DTM season. Tom Kristensen set the fastest time at Brands Hatch (England) with his Audi A4 DTM. On the 1.973 kilometer circuit, the shortest on the DTM calendar on which the most popular international touring car race series makes its race debut on 2 July, the Audi works driver set a best time of 41.587 seconds on Tuesday, which remained unbeaten over the course of the final two test days.
Kristensen arrived directly from Florida, where he had won the 12 Hours of Sebring with the new Audi R12 TDI. The Dane had more problems reacclimatizing himself to the English temperatures after arriving from the USA than jumping into the newly built Audi A4 DTM, which completed its roll-out on Tuesday.
The ten Audi drivers reeled off more than 5,000 test kilometers in ice-cold conditions at Brands Hatch. The busiest was Mattias Ekström who completed 425 laps and set the week’s third fastest lap time. New Audi signing Heinz-Harald Frentzen was only 63 thousandths of a second slower, and once again proved that he gets to grips with Audi A4 DTM straight out of the box.
Olivier Tielemans sat for the first time in an Audi A4 DTM at Brands Hatch. The 21-year old Netherlander contests the forthcoming DTM season for the Audi customer team Futurecom TME.
The majority of the Audi DTM squad travels directly to Düsseldorf from Brands Hatch, where the 2006 DTM will be presented to the media and public this coming weekend. The season starts on 9 April in Hockenheim. zzzz
Quotes after the test at Brands Hatch
Tom Kristensen (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline #7)
41.587s (391 laps)
"The circuit is short, but isn’t really a single a slow corner. That’s why you need a really good car here. My new A4 was fast and perfect straight out of the box, all I had to do was adjust the seat belts. The mechanics have once again done a fantastic job. The fastest time is a reward for their work and even more motivating for the new season.”
Mattias Ekström (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline #5)
41.869s (425 laps)
"I’m satisfied with the test. We tested a huge amount of things and are not only well prepared for the race at Brands Hatch but also for the season opener at Hockenheim. The circuit is exciting even though it’s so short. It’ll be really close, especially in qualifying.”
Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline #6)
41.932s (276 laps)
"We collected a lot of data and made another positive step forward technically. I now know the characteristics of the Audi A4 much better and my team’s way of working. I would obviously have liked to have tried a few more things before Hockenheim, unfortunately the information that we have gathered to date will have to suffice.”
Martin Tomczyk (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline #4)
42.065s (340 laps)
"The Brands Hatch circuit is actually quite short, but apart from that it’s really okay. After this test I can certainly say that I have once again learnt a great deal about this year’s car. I hope I can put these results to good effect at Hockenheim.”
Frank Stippler (Audi Sport Team Rosberg #15)
42.108s (177 laps)
"Brands Hatch is like a tiny version of the Nordschleife. There is no room for error. As soon as you go off line the chances are high that you will hit something. Unfortunately I didn’t get to drive as much as I’d hoped. What’s good is that the times were nevertheless very good.”
Pierre Kaffer (Audi Sport Team Phoenix #14)
42.238s (209 laps)
"I like the Brands Hatch track – it’s really is from the old school. However, I also found out for myself just how small the run-off areas are. It’s a shame that we suffered a suspension failure; otherwise I could have done a few more fast laps. In generally I’m satisfied with the results of the test.”
Timo Scheider (Audi Sport Team Rosberg #16)
42.318s (197 laps)
"I was a little more cautious after the Mercedes drivers’ accidents on the first day. That’s why the lap times don’t exactly reflect what we are capable of. But this is really okay if you know you have more to come. I was able to spend a-day-and-a-half getting to know the A4 even better and am now looking forward to the season opener at Hockenheim – that’s where I’ll also get my own race car.”
Vanina Ickx (Futurecom TME #20)
42.400s (258 laps)
"The test was shorter than expected because I had to share my car with my new team mate. I concentrated mainly on honing my driving style and much less on different set ups. I simulated qualifying on Wednesday with a fresh set of tires and set a pretty respectable time. Qualifying in the DTM is very important – and on this short circuit at Brands Hatch it will be very busy…”
Christian Abt (Audi Sport Team Phoenix)
42.420s (134 laps)
"The race engine for the first round was already installed in my car. That’s why I didn’t rack up so many laps, since it isn’t the test in Brands Hatch that counts but the season opener in Hockenheim. The lap times don’t mean a great deal. I’m satisfied with the test, we found out a lot of interesting things.”
Olivier Tielemans (Futurecom TME #19)
42.746s (234 laps)
"The Audi A4 DTM is really cool. It’s almost as quick as the Formula 3000 car which I drove last year, but much professionally built. The A4 responds precisely to the steering and is a lot of fun to drive. It goes without saying that I have to learn a lot because I lack experience – but I pick things up very quickly.”
Track News
New road course planned for north Texas New road course planned for north TexasThe Dallas Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reported on March 10th that a Southlake couple has purchased 441 acres near the intersection of FM 51 and FM 455 near Slidell for a major new Formula One-style auto road course. The project is expected to cost $3.5 million, according to David and Linda Cook who are planning the project. The couple said they expect the course to be certified this year by Formula One’s governing body (yeah right). The track will also meet Sports Car Club of America standards, making it suitable for road cars, motorbikes, super bikes and vintage and legend series cars. The development is being called Eagles Canyon Motorsports Park. The couple said they expect the track to draw car and racing enthusiasts from throughout North Texas and across the country. County Judge Dick Chase termed the development “a good addition” that could grow in value over the years. “I don’t see this as a detriment,” he said.
Oreca withdraws from LeMans Oreca withdraws from LeMansWith the support of Saleen President, Steve Saleen, French outfit Oreca has formally withdrawn their two requests for entries to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  Hugues de Chanuac has said that the car is not ready to tackle the grueling 24 hours just yet.  A number of technical conditions had to be met in order for the team to make a realistic bid for victory in the GT1 class with the S7R.  The team had originally planned to begin testing the machines in January but was not able to start any of those shakedowns until early March.

The Aston Martin and Corvette teams are just too strong.

“The first tests confirmed the great potential of Saleen S7R, but they showed that certain components were not ready to last 24 hours,” said de Chanuac.

Spy Photos: Audi R10 crash Spy Photos: Audi R10 crashUPDATE #2 A bit more info from eyewitnesses of the crash. The nose of the R10 started to rise a la the flying Mercedes at LeMans several years ago that flipped up and flew thru the air and into the forest. The R10 apparently hit a bump in the track exiting turn one, and the left side got a little air, and that started the chain reaction. The R10 actually was in the air for what seemed like a while. Then it went over upside down backwards into the tire wall.

Audi's report of the accident is quite different - Audi Sport UK's Martyn Pass on this incident.

What happened to Allan McNish while testing at Sebring?
About 30 minutes before the end of the private Audi Sport test session at Sebring, Allan spun with the #2 Audi R10 TDI in Turn 1 and crashed rearwards into the tire wall. When the car hit the tire wall it turned slowly over and ended upside-down.

 03/22/06 Unconfirmed reports say that wind was blamed for the accident. Notice how quickly Audi had the car covered up so our photographer did not have time for better close-up photos. Guess they did not want us to see the underside of the car in too much detail.

03/22/06 The day after this weekend's 12 Hours of Sebring race the Audi team stayed in Sebring to run further tests on their new diesel powered Audi R10. Well the test didn't go exactly as planned as the Audi crashed and ended upside down as these photos depict. We apologize for the graininess but spy photos sometimes are shot at great distances. Note that this crash was kept hush-hush by Audi and ALMS.

Track News
KARTPLEX coming to Chicagoland KARTPLEX coming to ChicagolandKARTPLEX, the most comprehensive and full-service karting facility in the Chicagoland area, is coming to Chicagoland Speedway from April through October in 2006. Fans can get the first look at the new uniquely designed Kart Plex facility - and even take some laps in the Arrive & Drive karts - at its Open House on Saturday, March 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Fans must be 18 years of age and bring their own helmet and gloves).

KARTPLEX provides a challenging 14-turn, 6/10-mile sprint track and a 1/5-mile oval track, which will offer flexibility for Sprint and Oval racing enthusiasts alike. These unique tracks are specifically designed and developed to serve the needs of karters from all levels, and support the growth and popularity of karting in the Midwest.

Co-founders John Dusek, Michael Franck and Steve Henry - who all have professional backgrounds in the field of corporation aviation (private jets and helicopters) - are lifelong motorsports enthusiasts who see karting as a growing sport that appeals to racing fans of all levels. zzzz

"Karting is moving past the entry level facilities that are in existence today," said Dusek. "Chicagoland Speedway is the perfect backdrop for the new KARTPLEX facility because it brings an added element of energy and excitement to the KARTPLEX track, which will make it a truly unique racing experience."

KARTPLEX will be running a 12-race Sunday Sprint Series, Round 4 of the Route 66 Series and open practices on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The KARTPLEX Series will also be a TAG USA qualifying series. MG and Sunoco will be the official tire and fuel of the 2006 KARTPLEX Sprint Series.

For detailed pricing information and class structure, visit the KARTPLEX website at www.kartplex.com

DTM car numbers assigned for 2006 DTM car numbers assigned for 2006
No. Driver / Team Manufacturer
2. Bernd Schneider: Vodafone AMG-Mercedes Mercedes-Benz
3. Jamie Green: Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes Mercedes-Benz
4. Martin Tomczyk: Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi
5. Mattias Ekström: Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi
6. Heinz-Harald Frentzen: Audi Sport Team Abt Audi
7. Tom Kristensen: Audi Sport Team Abt Audi
8. Mika Häkkinen: AMG-Mercedes Mercedes-Benz
9. Bruno Spengler: DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes Mercedes-Benz
10. Jean Alesi: Stern AMG-Mercedes Mercedes-Benz
11. Alexandros Margaritis: Truck Store AMG-Mercedes Mercedes-Benz
12. Christian Abt: Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi
14. Pierre Kaffer: Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi
15. Frank Stippler: Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi
16. Timo Scheider: Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi
17. Stefan Mücke: TV-Spielfilm Mücke Motorsport Mercedes-Benz
18. Daniel La Rosa: TrekStor Mücke Motorsport Mercedes-Benz
19. Olivier Tielemans: Futurecom TME Audi
20. Vanina Ickx: Futurecom TME Audi
21. Mathias Lauda: AMG-Mercedes Mercedes-Benz
22. Susie Stoddart: Mücke Motorsport Mercedes-Benz
Films instead of paint - the Audi A4 DTM design Films instead of paint - the Audi A4 DTM designModern racing cars are no longer being painted 18 days until the start of the 2006 DTM.  During the official DTM test drives at Brands Hatch (England) and the DTM presentation in Düsseldorf next weekend the Audi A4 DTM cars will be seen for the first time in the new colors and designs for the 2006 season. Yet the liveries are no longer "painted" on the vehicles: Modern racing cars are completely covered with pressure-sensitive film.

There are several reasons why the design of an Audi A4 DTM hardly involves the use of classical paint any more: The high-performance films are lighter and less expensive than paint, and it is easier to spot-repair damage from chipping, for example. In addition, there are no problems with different color hues, and neither does the "paint off the roll" need to dry.

The high-tech films are available in a vast array of colors, giving the vehicle its basic color. Sponsors' logos, inscriptions and the drivers' names, which this year will be displayed in large letters on the cars, as well as the competition numbers are created by digital printing, and cut out using computer-controlled equipment. Then, classical handwork is used to press the films against the surface where they are smoothed out with a felt-covered roller to prevent scratching.

Thanks to the films it is much easier to "repaint" the cars than it used to be. As such, Martin Tomczyk's last year's blue Audi very quickly became Christian Abt's new black A4. Audi

Renault strategy - Keep on pushing Renault strategy - Keep on pushingThis morning’s edition of French sport daily L’Equipe carried the following headline: “Has Renault stolen a march on its rivals?” After an excellent start to the 2006 Formula 1 season, which has seen the French team take 28 points from a possible 36 (a scoring rate of 78%) and, moreover, which saw Fernando Alonso’s brand-new RS26 V8 engine (number 3873, for the record) take 18 points from a possible 20 (a 90% scoring record), it’s a logical question: have the world champions opened up a decisive gap to the competition?

A first indication comes from a comparison of the championship tables: last year, after taking two races wins and one third place (for a total of 26 points) in the opening two races, Renault had a 16 point advantage over Ferrari, and 17 over McLaren. In 2006, in spite of a higher points total after the opening rounds, the advantage is less – just a 13 point lead over its two closest pursuers. The message is subtle, but clear: there’s more competition for points in 2006.

After Sunday’s historic one-two finish in Malaysia, the Renault F1 Team’s Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds was under no illusions that although the performance of the R26 had been impressive, events in the race had helped Giancarlo and Fernando on their way to achieving the result.  zzzz

“The race hit all our predictions, but there were some factors that made it easier too. The first was that that Fernando eradicated much of his qualifying disadvantage in the opening corner, as he went from seventh to third. And secondly, Raikkonen’s first-lap retirement removed one of the major threats to our success. Nobody in the team is resting on their laurels, and we know we have a fight on our hands.”

The weekend in Malaysia was also something of a reckoning for the engine builders of Formula 1. The second weekend of the new V8’s lifecycle was also one of the toughest of the season, with the high temperatures and severe demands of Sepang leaving little margin for error. Alone among the top teams, Renault got two cars to the finish, without any engine problems throughout the weekend.

“We were all frustrated by Giancarlo’s retirement in Bahrain,” explained Engine Technical Director Rob White. “But also reassured, because we knew it was because of an accessory component, and not something fundamental with the engine. To win the first race of the 2006 season was a great source of satisfaction, and to follow that up with a one-two is a dream result.”

But a successful start is not an achievement in itself – merely a platform to be built on, and Rob White doesn’t hesitate to reinforce it. “Being reliable in F1 is not enough, you need to be quick and reliable. Our work on reliability is never finished, and we are still aiming for zero-defect performance. We don’t have a big advantage over our rivals. We will be working to get the maximum from our package in the coming races and we are well prepared. But so are some of our rivals, and even those who are less so, are still very quick. There’s no room for complacency.”

The message is clear: keep on pushing. Beginning today, at Le Castellet, with three days of testing for Heikki Kovalainen aboard chassis R26-04. As they begin working on the next steps of a championship challenge… Renault

Football stars form NASCAR team for minorities Football stars form NASCAR team for minoritiesTwo professional football league superstars have joined together to form a new racing team. Football hall of famer Gale Sayers and World Champion Most Valuable Player Ray Lewis, along with entrepreneur Mark Bloomquist, have formed The Milestone Company. The operation will run both cars and trucks under its new name: S&L Racing. The team will be headquartered in North Carolina.

S&L Racing's mission is to develop a winning race team that provides opportunities for minorities and women in the sport. To achieve their objective, S&L Racing will start from scratch, working their way up to the Nextel Cup Series. The team plans to start racing this season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The Milestone Company will work with NASCAR, other racing teams and organizations, and corporations to assist in providing opportunities for those looking to make a career out of racing.

"Both Ray and I are racing fans," Sayers says. "Also, we both have the same goals and desire to succeed, to win and to help others. With S&L Racing, we will be able to give people a chance to show what they can do at the highest level of sports."   zzzz 

"As a professional athlete and a racing fan, I'm excited to be part owner of a racing team with Gale whose goal is not only to win, but to help give people a chance to be winners," Lewis says. "We've been to Daytona and met with NASCAR officials. We got their official blessing, too!"

Though S&L Racing is the first venture into auto racing for both Sayers and Lewis, excelling in the sports world is nothing new for the two men. Sayers, a member of the Pro Football League Hall of Fame, played seven years with the Chicago Bears and is considered to be one of the greatest running backs in National Football League history. Lewis, a 10-year NFL veteran with the Baltimore Ravens, was the MVP for Super Bowl XXXV and was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 2001.

track news
Dover track creates Comic Book to tell story Dover track creates Comic Book to tell storyDOVER, Del. - The story of Miles the Monster will now be told for the first time ever...

Race fans of all ages will soon be able to learn how Miles the Monster came to be-all in a beautifully illustrated collectible comic book. This one-of-a-kind piece of memorabilia offers a rare opportunity for fans to learn the story behind his creation, and to be involved in the history of the Monster Mile.

The first issue, “Miles the Monster, Issue #1 -- His Shocking Birth,” will be sold exclusively at Dover International Speedway during the June 2-4, 2006 race weekend. This first limited-edition issue costs $3, with each copy individually numbered on the back cover. Issue No. 2 will be exclusively available at the Dover International Speedway September 22-24, 2006 race weekend. Issues No. 3 through 8 will be released in 2007.

“Miles has always captured the spirit and strength of his home at Dover International Speedway, and embodied the extraordinary fans that come to visit him twice a year at the Monster Mile,” said Jerry Miraglia, executive vice president of Dover Motorsports, Inc. “His unique tale is now ready to be told in comic book form, and fans of all ages will enjoy the incredible artwork in this first-edition collectible.”  zzzz

Because of the anticipated demand, fans can reserve their copies of the comic book in advance. Those interested in purchasing the comic book should send an e-mail to monstercomic@doverspeedway.com with their name, address and desired quantity. Limit five per person. No prepayment is required. Those reserving comic books must pick up their copies at Dover International Speedway just outside the main ticket office (Gate 11). Pickup times will be Saturday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, June 4, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.

The comic book was created by Mark Wheatley and Allan Gross at Insight Studios. Wheatley, founder of Insight Studios in 1978, is an award-winning creator of comic books. Respected internationally as an artist, writer, editor, publisher and inventor, his portfolio of past work has earned him most top industry awards. Gross previously worked for major comic book companies DC, Dark Horse and Image, before joining Insight Studios. Insight Studios’ interpretations of established characters such as Tarzan the Warrior, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Jonny Quest, Dr. Strange, The Flash, Argus and The Spider have brought them to life for a new generation of readers.

Tickets for a June 2-4, 2006 race weekend full of activity at Dover International Speedway are still available. Fast-paced action at the Monster Mile includes the stars of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in the Neighborhood Excellence 400 presented by Bank of America race on Sunday, June 4; the NASCAR Busch Series on Saturday, June 3; and the AAA Insurance 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Friday, June 2. Call 800-441-RACE, or go online to www.DoverSpeedway.com, for the best available seats at the Monster Mile!

Yet another sponsor for Panther Racing Yet another sponsor for Panther RacingPanther Racing announced Wednesday an associate sponsorship agreement with Network LIVE, a joint venture between AOL, XM Satellite Radio and AEG and the first multi-platform digital entertainment company committed to delivering live entertainment programming across third party digital media platforms. As part of the sponsorship, Network LIVE will have logo placement on the Panther race car and the uniform of driver Vitor Meira. With Panther Racing, Network LIVE is entering the company’s first motor sports sponsorship.

Kevin Wall, who recently was the Executive Producer of Live 8, is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Network LIVE.

“It is very fitting that Panther Racing partner with a great company like Network LIVE; we’re both in the entertainment business,” said Panther CEO and co-owner John Barnes. “Kevin is a visionary when it comes to new and emerging forms of media and has been extremely successful in distributing live entertainment programming to millions of people worldwide. We are excited to have Network LIVE come on board as a sponsor”

“I grew up in Indiana, so automobile racing is in my blood,” says Wall. “Panther Racing and the Indy-car scene have the same kind of energy as any great entertainment event. It’s exciting. It’s colorful. It stirs your emotions. I can’t wait for us to explore future ways for Network LIVE to engage in the world of motor sports.”

Panther Racing adds sponsors Panther Racing adds sponsorsThe list of Panther Racing’s newest sponsors continued to grow on Wednesday, when the team announced new associates Saffire, Inc., Redwood Brokerage and Land Baron Investments. Each of the team’s new sponsors will be displayed on Vitor Meira’s No. 4 Panther Dallara Honda for the IndyCar Series’ opening race March 26th at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“This is such an exciting time for Panther Racing because we’re able to welcome so many new sponsors to our family,” Panther co-owner & CEO John Barnes said. “There are a lot of great things that are going to happen this season for Panther and Vitor Meira, and we couldn’t be happier that Saffire, Redwood Brokerage and Land Baron Investments are going to be a part of a great season. We want to get them in Victory Lane very soon.”

Panther Racing will be making additional sponsorship announcements in the days leading up to the Homestead race.

Gene Simmons Named Grand Marshal Gene Simmons Named Grand MarshalWaving the checkered flag at this year's Honda Grand Prix at St. Petersburg will be none other than venerable entrepreneur and rock legend, Gene Simmons, it was announced today by event officials. Watch on Sunday, April 2 (live on ESPN at 3:45 PM EST) as Simmons kicks off the second race of the 2006 IndyCar Series season from St. Petersburg, Fla. "We're very excited to announce Gene as the grand marshal of the 2006 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg," said Kevin Savoree, managing director of the Honda Grand Prix for Andretti Green Promotions. "After meeting Gene earlier this year, his energy, passion and excitement for IndyCar racing was clearly evident. Having him in St. Pete should be a great thrill for all the fans and should bring an even greater buzz to our event."
American Idol star visits DEI American Idol star visits DEIAmerican Idol Bo Bice and his band, Sugarland Money, paid a visit to Dale Earnhardt, Inc. on Tuesday afternoon to check out where their favorite race team builds the cars for their favorite drivers. They were en route to a gig in Spartanburg, SC on Wednesday night. Having just left Columbia, SC earlier in the day with Charlotte radio interviews on tap for Wednesday morning, Bice and his band realized DEI in Mooresville was a doable stop on the way. They pulled up in their tour bus and took a behind-the-scenes view of our facility. Joining in the tour was Taylor Earnhardt, herself. She and Bice had their picture taken by a #8 car with a large photo of her dad, Dale, in the background. She offered interesting insights about the buildings and different aspects of DEI. During his tour, Bice was easily recognized by most of the employees. He gladly stopped, talked to everyone, posed for pictures and signed autographs. Even some fans who were outside the large glass doors of the Interior Showroom recognized Bice and got his attention. During his tour, Bice and the band stopped into the #8 Budweiser shop. There, Brian Cram (Shop Foreman) talked to them in more depth about race cars, how much they weigh and how many cars the team works on at one time. He even put Bice in the primary car for the upcoming Martinsville Speedway. DEI PR
Dan-Well-Dun looks to defend IRL title Dan-Well-Dun looks to defend IRL titleDan Wheldon doesn't need to measure his status as Britain's most successful racing driver in the United States by the millions of dollars he has banked for winning the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar championship.

He knows he has made it big because the organizers of the Indy Japan 300 want to honor his achievements by naming a sushi dish after him when the series visits the Far East next month.

The Dan-Well-Dun is likely to be a popular snack during the weekend's racing with hundreds of thousands of fans at the Motegi Twin Ring.

"It's some kind of rice and seafood thing, I'm told," Wheldon said. "I'm just looking forward to getting over there and trying it for myself. And also winning the race, of course." More at Telegraph.co.uk

Marco Andretti aims for rookie race win Marco Andretti aims for rookie race winThe Philadelphia area's most famous racing family returns to the forefront Sunday when Marco Andretti, a third-generation open-wheel driver who grew up within earshot of Nazareth Speedway, makes his IndyCar Series debut in the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Andretti, who turned 19 on March 13, made grandfather Mario and father Michael proud last season by tearing up the Indy Racing League's developmental circuit - the Indy Pro Series - with three victories, three poles, and five finishes of third or better in six starts.

In joining Andretti Green Racing's top tier, though, Marco Andretti has the unenviable task of replacing 2005 series champion Dan Wheldon, who left for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

"One of my goals for this season is to win a race, and I think that's a realistic goal," Marco Andretti said. "For the first couple of races, I want to be in the top 10. I want to be up with those guys, week in and week out, knowing that if they slip, I can move closer to the front."  More at Philadelphia Inquirer

Q and A with Renault's Christian Blum Q and A with Renault's Christian BlumChristian Blum is Renault's engine test manager.

Q. Christian, what has been the test team's verdict on the opening races of the season?

Christian Blum: "We are delighted with the results, but it hasn't come as a big surprise to us. We worked very hard this winter to get the most out of every running day, and we knew that the new car had lots of potential. The first races confirmed it.

"We were quite frustrated after Bahrain because of the problem on Giancarlo Fisichella's car, because we should have dealt with it during our test programme. But seeing him on the top step of the podium last weekend, leading a one-two finish for the team, made up for it."

Q. What will be the team's approach to this week's test session?

CB: "Above all, we will be busy! We haven't had time to properly enjoy the success, because we're back at the track with a lot of work to do - particularly in April. It is a critical point for us. Even though we have a small advantage at the moment, we know this is the time when we need to be working hardest. After a tough winter, that's not always straightforward, but everybody is very motivated.

"The test team is working flat out, and we need to maintain our concentration because this is the moment when we can make a real difference."

Q. What is your programme this week?

CB: "As soon as the championship begins, our running is limited by a testing agreement that restricts us to 36 days during the season. That means we must make sure that every day of running is as efficient as possible.

"This week, we are working on the start of the European season, and particularly tire testing for the San Marino GP. [Test driver] Heikki [Kovalainen] will be running for three days in a new chassis, R26-04, and he will also run a number of set-up programmes." Renault

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Four venues host F1 running
A new hotel for Coulthard
MF1 play down poor start
Late GPMA move fails to foil Max's vision
Rubens 'deeply disappointed'
'Equal' Fisi eyes Melbourne repeat
Nico 'not surprised' to outpace Webber
Toyota target podium revival
Another Schumacher hits the race track
Walker missed F1 'enormously'
2-day Atlantic test sees 29 drivers on track 2-day Atlantic test sees 29 drivers on trackFONTANA, California  – The last two days offered the first opportunity for the teams of the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda to test the brand-new 2006 Atlantic cars. But after viewing the results of Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s test sessions at the California Speedway infield road course, it seemed as if American rising star Jonathan Bomarito had been driving the new Atlantic since his feet could reach the pedals.

Testing under sunny skies and 70-degree temperatures Wednesday on the 1.495-mile road circuit, Atlantic competitors continued to log the miles while they tested the limits of the new Mazda-Cosworth/Swift 016.a/Yokohama machine. With the 2006 season opener fast approaching, Atlantic teams took full advantage of the perfect testing conditions to make final preparations on their cars before the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 7-9.

Bomarito and the PR1 Motorsports team seemed to dial in quickly on the setup of the new car as the Monterey, California native posted the top lap in three of the four timed sessions over the course of the two-day test. Overall, Bomarito’s quick time of 58.311 (92.298 mph), established in Wednesday’s morning session, surfaced as the top mark among all 29 drivers that recorded times at the open test.

“I’m a little surprised because I thought we’d have more development on the car throughout the test because it is so new and we’re still figuring it out, but we were fast from the word ‘go’ and that just shows how good the team is,” said Bomarito, the 2003 U.S. Formula Ford Zetec champion. The 24-year-old had the distinction of leading a very competitive field of testers that saw the top 19 lap times separated by less than a second. “This Atlantic field is going to be unbelievable,” added Bomarito. “I’ve never seen anything like it. There’s got to be 20 guys out there that can win a race this year.” zzzz

Another one of those talented racers is South African Stephen Simpson. The Gelles Racing pilot emerged with the second-fastest time of the test as he clocked a lap of 58.389 (92.175 mph), also in the Wednesday morning session. “It’s been a very good first two days in Champ Car Atlantic,” said the 22-year-old Simpson, who’s been racing for his native country over the last few months in the A1 Grand Prix series. “I got to know the team and I got to develop the car as best as possible before Long Beach. Overall the car was great to drive, very enjoyable. It was a good day for us today. I can’t wait for Long Beach in two weeks time.”

After finishing with the third-fastest lap on the scoring chart Tuesday, James Hinchcliffe of Canada finished in the same position at the conclusion of the test, posting a quick mark of 58.396 (92.164 mph) in today’s final session. “Overall, the past two days have been great,” said the Forsythe Racing rookie. “We had our first problems of the test in the very last session, so still having the third-fastest time is pretty good. The car is really well set-up, but we started to have some mechanical issues. It’s good it happened now and not at the first session at Long Beach. We know where the weak points are and how to fix them. The team has done a fantastic job and I can’t thank them enough.”

With nearly all drivers logging at least 150 miles over the two days, the new-generation Atlantic passed its first true test with flying colors. The test was run without any major incidents until late in the day on Wednesday when American Nick Jones (right), testing for Jensen Motorsport, got together with another car in Turn 1. Jones’ car went off track and flipped before coming to rest. Although the car was badly damaged, Jones didn’t suffer any significant injuries.

Combined lap times from the two-day test at California Speedway follow:

1. Jonathan Bomarito, PR1 Motorsports – 58.311/92.298 mph
2. Stephen Simpson, Gelles Racing – 58.389/92.175 mph
3. James Hinchcliffe, Forsythe Championship Racing – 58.396 sec/92.164 mph
4. Graham Rahal, Mi-Jack Conquest Racing – 58.508/91.987 mph
5. Raphael Matos, Sierra Sierra Enterprises – 58.551/91.920 mph
6. Norbert Siedler, Brooks Associates Racing – 58.556/91.912 mph
7. Andreas Wirth, Forsythe Championship Racing – 58.630/91.796 mph
8. Leonardo Maia, Forsythe Championship Racing – 58.632/91.793 mph
9. Simon Pagenaud, Team Australia – 58.694/91.696 mph
10. Robbie Pecorari, Gelles Racing – 58.771/91.576 mph
11. Richard Philippe, Forsythe Championship Racing – 58.778/91.565 mph
12. Danilo Dirani, Condor Motorsports – 58.906/91.366 mph
13. David Martinez, US RaceTronics – 58.947/91.302 mph
14. Alan Sciuto, Polestar Racing Group – 58.963/91.278 mph
15. Charles Hall, Transnet Racing – 59.060/91.128 mph
16. Alex Barron, Polestar Racing Group – 59.117 sec/91.040 mph
17. Tim Bridgman, Jensen Motorsport – 59.121/91.034 mph
18. Mike Forest, PR1 Motorsports – 59.137/91.009 mph
19. Luis Schiavo, Brooks Associates Racing – 59.179/90.944 mph
20. Daniel Gaunt, Newman/Wachs Racing – 59.571/90.346 mph
21. Joe D’Agostino, Newman/Wachs Racing – 59.571/90.346 mph
22. James Davison, Team Australia – 59.700/90.151 mph
23. Tonis Kasemets, Transnet Racing – 59.795/90.008 mph
24. Justin Sofio, Mathiasen Motorsports – 1:00.690/88.680 mph
25. Kyle Kelley, McAtee Motorsports – 1:00.934/88.325 mph
26. Nick Jones, Jensen Motorsport – 1:00.951/88.300 mph
27. Dan Selznick, The Room Store – 1:02.105/86.660 mph
28. Ryan Spencer-Smith, NCDL Tech – 1:04.880/82.953 mph
29. Brian McAtee, McAtee Motorsports – 1:05.337/82.373 mph

Toyota back at Paul Ricard testing Toyota back at Paul Ricard testingAfter making headway at the Malaysian Grand Prix last week, Panasonic Toyota Racing returns to testing at the Circuit Paul Ricard with a long list of test items to go through in preparation for the upcoming race in Australia.

The team is focusing on the tire programme, especially running through different set-ups and tire temperatures to gain data on the overall behavior of the car with the tires.

Ralf Schumacher and Ricardo Zonta who were on the track testing today, were hampered in the morning by cool weather, however once temperatures improved, both were able do some running and evaluations. Jarno Trulli and Ricardo Zonta are planned to drive tomorrow. zzzz

Ricardo Zonta
Chassis TF106/02
Best Lap Time: 1m06.311s
Total laps: 79
Total Distance: 301.622km
"We had a slow start in morning and had to therefore wait for warmer temperatures. At lunchtime, we really began working on our tire programme, achieving everything we had planned. I was driving the old car trying different compounds, different temperature settings on the tires, and balance set-ups. We will continue to work on some different items and tomorrow should be better as the temperatures are supposed to rise."

Ralf Schumacher
Chassis TF106/01
Best Lap Time: 1m07.060s
Total laps: 40
Total Distance: 152.
"In general it was very cold, so we were suffering with the warm-up of the tire temperatures. In the afternoon, I put in some running but had some electronic issues and therefore stopped the car to prevent any further problems. Although the day does not seem as successful, the team will carry on with Jarno and Ricardo tomorrow and I am sure that we will gain some insight for the next race."

While Ralf finished up his testing for this week and now heads to Australia, Gerd Pfeiffer, Test Team Manager comments on the day's testing looks forward to further results.

"We did some construction tests today to see that we get a good temperature in the tires with different set-ups on the car. We have found some interesting results and we will continue to work on this for the next two days. We have decided to change the driver line-up for tomorrow, exchanging Ralf with Jarno, as we are anticipating bad weather on Friday and this will give Jarno an equal opportunity to put in some good running." Press Release Toyota

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday USA TV reminders for Friday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
NASCAR Live! Bristol
3:00pm-3:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Bristol
3:30pm-5:00pm (L) SPEED
Back in the Day -with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
5:00pm-5:30pm (R)
5:30pm-6:00pm (R)
6:00pm-6:30pm (R)
6:30pm-7:00pm (R) SPEED
Trackside Bristol
7:00pm-8:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Bristol
8:00pm-9:30pm (R) SPEED
7 Days  
9:30pm-10:00pm -J.D. Gibbs
10:00pm-10:30pm (R) Doug Richert
10:30pm-11:00pm (R) -Lee Spencer SPEED

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

Dodge prepares for Indy Pro Series debut Dodge prepares for Indy Pro Series debutFrom proving himself on tracks such as the Belleville High Banks, Eagle Raceway and Knoxville Raceway to graduating to the hallowed grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Geoff Dodge hopes to follow the path of racing legends such as Johnny Rutherford, Tom Sneva, Rick Mears and A.J. Foyt as he advances his career.

The 22-year-old grew up in Colorado Springs, Colo., watching his father Dick drive sprint cars and compete in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. He also watched the Indianapolis 500 on television, dreaming of the day he would be among the 33 starters.

"Indy became a goal because it was Dad's goal," Dodge said. "We'd sit around every May and watch what was going on at the Speedway, so it was an interest of his that got passed along.

"Through my own paying attention to what was going on at the Speedway from back home in Colorado, that's where I picked up on guys like Rick Mears and Tom Sneva."

At 14, Dodge convinced his parents to allow him to embark on his own racing career.

"My dad said if I got all A's and a B, and could pay for half of it, then we could go karting," Dodge said. "So I went down and became an employee of Taco Bell because they would hire me that young, and started working, and saved some money, and got my grades where they needed to be. And so at that point, my dad came through and said we'll buy a go-kart." zzzz

Dodge began racing go-karts, eventually finishing 16th in the SuperKarts USA world finals in 2001 before taking the next step on his journey and climbing into a 360 sprint car. He spent the next four years racing sprint cars throughout the Midwest and Rocky Mountains, seeking out tougher competition on his drive to advance his career.

"The local sprint car scene was pretty much done," Dodge said. "We're a low-budget operation, and it would be cool if we could travel 60-100 miles to all of our races, but here we are driving from Colorado Springs to places like Billings, Montana for a two-night show. Every weekend you're on the road somewhere.

"I've always had the mentality to keep pushing yourself, keep moving up and keep getting against tougher guys and keep going to new places. That evolved into our sprint car program where we traveled to Kansas and Nebraska more than anywhere because there was tougher competition there."

The road took him across the Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions before eventually leading in 2005 to one of the biggest sprint car events in the country, the Knoxville Nationals. For 45 years, the top sprint car drivers in the country have descended on the sleepy Iowa town for four days in August. Dodge faced off against 124 other drivers. It was his first time in a 410 sprint car.

While preparing for the biggest event in his brief racing career, Dodge heard about a new program between Knoxville Raceway and the Indy Racing League. "The Fast Track to Indy Rookie of the Year" would reward the highest-finishing rookie at Knoxville with a chance to compete in the Indy Racing League's ladder series, the Indy Pro Series, in 2006 - just one step from the Indianapolis 500.

"Your first inclination, because at that point we had already decided to run Knoxville, at that point my heart jumped like, 'Whoa, yeah,' " Dodge said. "But then reality sets in, 'Come on, Geoff. Every rookie from Pennsylvania to California is going to say this is my big chance to try to take a swing at Indy.' I had to settle down, get back to the plan and race for today, run as good as I could."

In preliminary action, Dodge finished third in his heat and then 15th in the A feature. That qualified him for the C Feature.
"We went and did our thing and raced as hard as we could, and (Sunday) afternoon we looked at where we lined up and we thought, 'Man, we've got a shot at this thing,' '' he said.

Dodge's 14th-place effort in the C Feature gave him the points necessary to clinch the "Fast Track to Indy" title.
Since then, Dodge's focus has been preparing for his debut in the Indy Pro Series. The series runs single-seat, open-cockpit cars that race about 30 mph slower than the cars used in the Indianapolis 500.

He passed his rookie test last September under the watchful eyes of Mears, a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner, and he's tested twice since. Dodge's deal will put him on the track at the series' six oval race, including the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway two days before the 90th Indianapolis 500 on May 28.

"Indy was something that I dreamed about as a kid but honestly never thought I'd ever have a chance to make an attempt at it," Dodge said. "That's the ultimate end goal, but I'm not really thinking that far ahead yet. Right now, I'm thinking about getting in the Indy Pro Series car and putting in the first pieces there. That's about as far forward as I'm focused on right now. I'm big on not getting too drawn out on what's happening five races or five weeks or five years from now, but trying to stay more focused on the here and now and if you do a good job in the here and now, the rest will take care of itself."

The next step will be his race debut March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. From there, Dodge hopes the road eventually leads to the Indianapolis 500. IRL

Rahal team boss recovering from illness Rahal team boss recovering from illnessRahal Letterman Racing's Chief Operating Officer Scott Roembke continues his recovery from a recent illness and has resumed limited office hours on a day-to-day basis.

Roembke has served as the general manager and chief operating officer of the team since the team was founded in 1992 as Rahal Hogan Racing. He broke into racing in 1986 as a logistics coordinator with Patrick Racing.
"Obviously I am disappointed not to be at Homestead this weekend and to be part of the season opener for what I believe will be the most competitive IRL season ever," said Roembke. "I truly appreciate all the phone calls, cards and letters I have received over the last several weeks, and I am looking forward to being back at the track in the near future."

Longtime Rahal Letterman Racing engineer Ray Leto is serving as the acting General Manager in Roembke's absence and handles all matters pertaining to racing operations while Robert J. Vladem, the chief financial officer of Rahal Letterman Racing is handling all administrative and financial matters.

IndyCar renews XM Satellite Radio deal IndyCar renews XM Satellite Radio dealToyota Indy 300 to launch new XM IndyCar channel: The IndyCar Series will have a new home on XM Satellite Radio this season.

The entire 2006 schedule, including the 90th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in May, will be heard on XM Channel 145 "IndyCar." The channel's launch is part of XM's continuing broadcasting and marketing agreement with the IndyCar Series. XM is in its second year as the exclusive satellite radio network of the IndyCar Series.

Beginning with the Toyota Indy 300 presented by XM Satellite Radio on March 26, the entire 2006 IndyCar Series racing schedule, including the 90th Indianapolis 500 on May 28, will be heard on XM Channel 145, "IndyCar."

"Motorsports and music deliver a powerful adrenaline rush, and we are excited to bring the best of both to open-wheel race fans around the country," said Kevin Straley, vice president of talk programming, XM Satellite Radio.  "Whether IndyCar Series and XM Satellite Radio fans are tuning in live at the track, at home, or on the road, we'll make sure that they don't miss a second of the action."  zzzz 

In addition to broadcasting IndyCar Series events, XM Satellite Radio also will present top recording acts at some IndyCar Series venues.

This weekend will feature the high-energy sounds of Shinedown, performing free for race fans at 1:30 p.m. on March 26, while the Grammy-nominated band Hoobastank will perform April 2 following the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

"When it comes to world-class talent, performance and technology, nothing compares to The IndyCar Series and XM Satellite Radio," said Mike Ringham, Indy Racing League Vice President for Marketing. "In addition to guaranteed great racing, we are also tremendously excited to introduce new generations of fans to the IndyCar Series, thanks to XM's free concert series." 

XM also returns as the primary sponsor of the Andretti Green Racing No. 7 Honda-powered Dallara driven by 2005 Firestone Indy 400 winner Bryan Herta.  This is Herta's third season in the distinctive black and yellow XM IndyCar Series machine.

Champ Car teams back testing at Sebring Champ Car teams back testing at SebringSEBRING, Fla. – With less than three weeks remaining until the Champ Car World Series season opener in Long Beach, the teams and drivers of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford are gearing up by turning laps 3,000 miles away from the streets of Long Beach.

Photo right - Nelson Philippe on his first day of testing with his new team - CTE Racing-HVM.  Photo by Dan R. Boyd for Champ Car

Five of the drivers that will chase the Vanderbilt Cup this year tuned up during the first of two days of Champ Car testing at Sebring, including two-time defending series champion Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Times were unavailable at the conclusion of today’s test, but unofficial clockings showed the majority of the drivers taking full advantage of a very grippy track to log times in the 50-second range.

“We’re not out here to be the champions of Sebring,” said new HVM-CTE Racing signee Nelson Philippe (#4 HVM-CTE Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). “We just need to get out here, build some team chemistry and make sure we are ready for Long Beach. That’s what we did today.” zzzz

Philippe and 2005 series runner-up Oriol Servia (#6 Gulfstream/Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) made their first tests of the year with their new teams today, Philippe with HVM-CTE Racing and Servia with PKV Racing.

For Servia though, it was a bit more like Old Home Week than it was moving to a new team at PKV. He goes back to work for the same Jim McGee-led crew that oversaw his 2002 and 2003 seasons at Patrick Racing.

“It’s probably 70 percent of the guys that I worked with at Patrick that are here now and we have some unfinished business from those years that we’re looking to take care of now,” Servia grinned. “Overall, today was a good first day for us. We tried a lot of things but the track has so much grip because of the 12-hour race this weekend that it is harder to judge the effect of the changes.”

Newman/Haas ran both Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira (#2 Newman/Haas Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) on full days, with Bourdais unofficially credited with the fastest lap of the day.

“I think our guys are ready for Long Beach and we need to be ready because the other teams are improving,” said Newman/Haas Racing Team Manager John Tzouanakis. “We put in a lot of miles today and are pretty pleased with the results”

The teams will be back on the test track tomorrow for a full day of testing leading into next week’s open test at California Speedway. The Champ Cars will be on the Fontana infield course next Wednesday and Thursday for two days of testing prior to the April 7-9 season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Champ Car

Mosley rejects F1 teams proposals Mosley rejects F1 teams proposalsThe breakaway F1 teams that are now back in the fold presented a letter (PDF File) to Max Mosley and the FIA making some suggested changes to the F1 rules. Max Mosley wrote this letter back essentially rejecting their proposals, slapping their wrists for not participating in the rules making process when invited, but then extending an Olive Branch saying that there will still be an opportunity to have their say.
2008 F1 Sporting Regulations 2008 F1 Sporting RegulationsAttached is a PDF file showing the changes approved today to the F1 Sporting Regulations for 2008 by the World Motorsport Council. The changes are shown in underlined text (new inserts) and deleted text (strikethrough).


  • A single tire supplier will be chosen for the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons, with tire warmers outlawed
  • No spare cars will be allowed
  • The $48 million deposit for new teams has been dropped
  • Testing will be limited to 30,000 kilometres during a calendar year.
  • Should an engine (or gearbox) change take place before the stipulated number of races has been completed, then cars must carry a 33 pound penalty. This is in lieu of the current 10 grid position penalty system
  • A 20-race schedule is now possible due to the cost savings from these rules
  • Car manufacturers will also not be allowed to supply engines for more than two teams without the written approval of the FIA.
McLaren crank out laps at Paul Ricard McLaren crank out laps at Paul RicardWith improved weather conditions from yesterday's session, Team McLaren Mercedes completed a full day of testing at the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track today, with both Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett in action at the French circuit. The track will be in the 3E SC configuration for the remainder of the week, which is 3.8km in length.

Pedro continued his programme with the MP4-21. After completing the shakedown of the team's latest chassis yesterday, the Spaniard's work focused on putting more mileage on the car, which was running with some development components which are scheduled to make their race debut in Melbourne. Pedro's day was formed of a series of short-medium length runs, as he completed Michelin tire programmes in preparation for the Imola race.

Covering 645km over the course of 169 laps, Pedro set the second fastest time of the day, with a 1m04.866. zzzz

Gary began his Michelin development programme today, having had to remain in the garage yesterday due to the wet weather conditions. Gary was focusing on the selection process for the forthcoming Australian and San Marino Grands Prix. He put in over 270km during the eight hour session, and ended the day in fourth position on the timesheets with a 1m05.874.

Pedro and Gary will both be present for day three of the four day test tomorrow at Paul Ricard. McLaren

Wet testing for Ferrari at Fiorano Wet testing for Ferrari at FioranoFirst day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, working today at its Fiorano home circuit.

Taking into account the weather conditions, the day's work centered essentially on development testing of Bridgestone rain tires. At the wheel of a 248 F1, Luca Badoer completed 62 laps in total, with a dozen of them on the short version of the track. The best time on the day was a 1'03"198.

Testing continues tomorrow, with Luca Badoer still on track.

Bad weather hits Honda test Bad weather hits Honda testIt was a dry and sunny start for the second day of the Honda Racing F1 Team’s test in Vallelunga today where both official test drivers were on duty once again. However, weather conditions did deteriorate as the day progressed and rain showers affected the planned test program during the afternoon session.
What started out as an early light shower, was soon followed by a heavy downpour as both drivers spent the day attempting to concentrate on chassis set-up evaluations in their respective cars.

Over the course of the day Anthony completed a total of 67 laps, with James running for a total of 35 laps.

1. A. Davidson - 01:16.040
2. J. Rossiter - 01:17.608 Honda

Al Unser Jr. Indy 500 teleconference transcript Al Unser Jr. Indy 500 teleconference transcript
Date change for Mexico City race Date change for Mexico City raceIn a story broke by AutoRacing1.com last week -The race for the 2006 Vanderbilt Cup has been extended one week, as the Champ Car World Series and Mexico City race promoter OCESA announced today that the date of the season-ending Champ Car race in Mexico City will move from November 3-5 to November 10-12.

The race, which takes place on the challenging Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit, will be the last event on a 15-race calendar that makes up the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.

The date change is to avoid conflict with All Souls Day, or Dia De Los Muertos, an important day of remembrance on the Mexican calendar.

“We will always do whatever we can to help our promoters, and if moving the race to a more accommodating date helps the event and helps our loyal Mexican fans, we are happy to do it.” said Champ Car President and CEO Steve Johnson.

“Our promoter researched this issue thoroughly with fans and sponsors and came back to us with the recommendation.  Given it is our season finale, we felt enough time remained to make the change for this year yet in order to help our promoter” said Executive Vice-President of Development, Planning and Governmental Affairs Joe Chrnelich. “Most importantly we believe this is the best option for our fans and partners in Mexico City.”

This year will mark the fifth anniversary of the Champ Cars running in Mexico City, in what has become one of the highest-attended racing events anywhere in the world. In 2003, the Mexico City set an all-time Champ Car record for three-day attendance, drawing 402,413 fans including more than 221,000 on race day. The event has averaged nearly 350,000 per event since its inception in 2002.

The 2006 Champ Car World Series season gets underway in two weeks with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach April 7-9. The event can be seen live on NBC beginning at 4 p.m. April 9. Champ Car

NASCAR slams Busch Series cheaters NASCAR slams Busch Series cheatersNASCAR has fined Chad Norris, crew chief of the No. 17 Ford driven by Matt Kenseth in the NASCAR Busch Series, $5,000 for violations at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Norris was fined under Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used that do not conform to NASCAR rules: 20A – 12.1A(7): unapproved front jacking bolt, excessive taper) of the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series Rule Book. The infraction was discovered during post-race inspection on March 18.
Kovalainen tops 2nd test day at Paul Ricard Kovalainen tops 2nd test day at Paul RicardRenault continued to flex its muscle on Tuesday at Paul Ricard.
Pos Driver Team Tires Time Laps
 1. Kovalainen Renault (M) 1:04.446 161
 2. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:04.866 169
 3. Kubica BMW Sauber (M) 1:04.977 144
 4. Paffett McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:05.874 71
 5. Zonta Toyota (B) 1:06.331 79
 6. R. Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:07.060 40
Swift Production Swift ProductionA San Clemente chassis manufacturer builds 40 cars in 226 days.

The ink barely had dried on the contract and Chuck Sprague already was beginning to have second thoughts.

What in the world had he just gotten his company into?

Swift Engineering was either going to make motor sports history or suffer its most embarrassing defeat.

Last July, Sprague, the president of the San Clemente-based chassis manufacturer, agreed to have his engineers design and build a new Atlantic Series chassis for the 2006 season.

At first, he was expecting to fill about 25 orders. But Kevin Kalkhoven, a co-owner of the Champ Car World Series, announced the Atlantic Series champion would get a $2million check to help pay for a Champ Car ride in the future. In no time, those 25 cars turned into 40.  More at Orange County Register

Ford and Clorox announce woman's program Ford and Clorox announce woman's programAs part of its on-going efforts at creating a diverse driver lineup, Ford Racing announced it has signed multi-year contracts with Alison MacLeod, 16, of Mississauga, Ont. Canada and Stephanie Mockler, 18, of Westfield, Ind. to drive in the Clorox/Ford Racing Women's Driver Development Program for 2006.
MacLeod returns to drive a Clorox-sponsored Beast Focus Midget in select USAC Regional and Midwest Series Ford Focus Midget Series events. Mockler will campaign a Clorox-sponsored Beast Ford in a series of USAC Regional and National Midget series events. Both teams will be run by legendary car builder and championship team owner Bob East.

Last year, MacLeod drove the No. 4 Clorox/Ford Racing Ford Focus Midget for a half season in USAC's Indianapolis Speedrome Ford Focus Midget Car Series. Despite running only half the races, she won one 50-lap feature in July and finished second to Mockler in another event in what's believed to be the first time the podium has been swept by female drivers in a nationally-sanctioned auto racing event. MacLeod is currently in 11th grade at King's Christian Collegiate in Oakville, Ont. zzzz 

Mockler, a graduate of the USAC Ford Focus Series, finished second in the 2005 Midwest Ford Focus points standings, scoring one victory and 14 Top-10's in 17 starts. She also finished third in the inaugural USAC Ford Focus Midget National Championship.

Mockler will make her USAC National Midget debut in April at Mansfield Motorsport Speedway. Mockler is a senior at Westfield High School and plans to attend Ohio Northern University while pursuing her racing career.

This multi-year commitment for Ford Racing and Clorox is designed to develop a driver in USAC and graduate her to a NASCAR Busch Series team campaigned by Wood Brothers/JTG Racing.

"Ford's customer base is diverse, and our driver roster should be diverse as well," said Dan Davis, director, Ford Racing Technology. "Alison did a great job last year in the program and we're excited to have Stephanie joining the Clorox/Ford Racing team. We believe we have two very talented drivers with a lot of potential.

"It's our philosophy for this program that if we're going to succeed, we can't rush or hurry the process. Identifying drivers with potential is only the first step. The real work comes in developing them and making sure they are put in situations that foster development and success. You can't just throw these drivers into the deep end to see if they sink or swim. At that point, you are taking a gamble that it will work rather than taking a more deliberate approach to ensure it will work.

"We believe our program will succeed because we have a proven process with Bob East and the USAC Series, and a partner in Clorox who understands that rushing these drivers too quickly into NASCAR is in no one's best interest. Developing drivers is a very difficult thing, which takes time, patience, the right people and the right situation," said Davis.

"Clorox is very proud to be part of this wonderful program," said Tarang Amin, Vice President of Laundry & Home Care Marketing, at the Clorox Company. "We will be sponsoring the cars that these two remarkable young women will drive on their journey, but it is their dream - the dream of women in racing - that will take them to NASCAR."

Ford Racing has a long history in developing diverse driver talent. Ford was an early supporter of Lyn St. James' road racing career in the 1980s, as well as a supporter of prominent African-American driver Willy T. Ribbs' road racing career in that same time frame.

More recently, Ford supported Danica Patrick early in her career when she was racing in Europe, and in 2003 did a formal USAC test of four young women - including MacLeod - as part of the pilot for the Clorox/Ford Racing Women's Driver Development Program. Ford

Industry News
GM, the UAW and Delphi Reach Agreement GM, the UAW and Delphi Reach AgreementGeneral Motors Corp. (NYSE GM), the United Auto Workers union and Delphi Corp. have reached an agreement to reduce the number of U.S. hourly employees through an accelerated attrition program. The agreement, which is an important contributor to GM's turnaround plan in North America, is subject to approval of Delphi's participation by the Bankruptcy Court.
Hotel tax approved to support NASCAR HOF Hotel tax approved to support NASCAR HOFIn an 8-1 vote, Mecklenburg commissioners agreed to raise the county's hotel tax by 2 percentage points, from 6 to 8 percent. The money to be raised by the increase was a financial cornerstone of Charlotte's bid to host the motorsports shrine. Commissioners held a public hearing on the increase, the public's only chance to weigh in since the deal was announced. But no one came to object. Instead, half a dozen speakers -- sporting buttons from the campaign to win the hall -- stood up to praise it, saying the Hall of Fame will draw hundreds of thousands of tourists, and solidify the region's status as home to the booming racing industry and the accompanying jobs. Mohammed Jenatian, president of the Greater Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance, said the tourism industry was involved in the decision to increase the tax, and believes the project is worth it. Charlotte Observer
Ferrari to bring new wings to Melbourne Ferrari to bring new wings to Melbourne(GMMf1NET)  In what could effectively end the 'flexi' wing saga, Ferrari has now joined BMW-Sauber and McLaren in confirming that it will run a new wing design in Melbourne next week.

But team manager Stefano Domenicali was not in a confessional mood, telling 'sport.de' that the revised Australia-spec wings were always part of the scarlet camp's plans.

''We would have brought new, developed wings (to Melbourne) anyway,'' he said.  ''It is part of our intended development programme.''

Mosley plot gets green light Mosley plot gets green light(GMMf1NET) The FIA's world motor sport council has shown a green light to Max Mosley's vision of formula one for 2008 -- including a controversial one-week 'window' for teams to sign up.

At the meeting in Paris, members agreed with the FIA president's strategy to open and close team entries for 2008 within one week, starting this Friday.

It's an ace hand of cards by Mosley. Only by signing up next week - and thus ending the 'GPMA' menace - will teams get a say in how to shape (and possibly vote against) certain rules. One such highly contentious regulation is the proposed three year 'freeze' on engine development starting in 2008.

On the other hand, not signing up would be at teams' own risk of being left out of F1's limited pitlane altogether.

''The regulations not affecting the design of the cars can be modified at any point up to the start of the 2008 season,'' read a statement.

Elsewhere in the world of formula one, teams returned to the test tracks on Wednesday. Renault, McLaren, BMW-Sauber and Toyota got into gear at Paul Ricard (France), while Honda ran exclusively at Italy's Vallelunga track.
McLaren to make aggressive improvements McLaren to make aggressive improvementsMcLaren F1 team boss Ron Dennis says his team will make major upgrades in upcoming races to get back to being the fastest car on the track. 

"I don't ever get optimistic because it is a very tough sport in which to compete, but we know our car has the underlying pace," Dennis told The Guardian in an interview.

"And the most encouraging thing for us is that we know what's coming in terms of technical upgrades for our car in Australia, and we know what's planned for the Nurburgring. We will be taking some quantum steps over the next races.

"McLaren exists to win every race in which it competes," Dennis added. "Worrying about what your rivals are doing is a fruitless exercise. If you win all the races, or as many as you possibly can, then hopefully the championship will flow logically from those efforts.

"I am not a person who looks backwards and worries about what has gone before. The only priority for McLaren is looking ahead and aiming to win the next race."

Interim WRC Chairman named Interim WRC Chairman namedShekhar Mehta was appointed acting chairman for the World Rally Championship Commission pending the appointment a new permanent incumbent by the FIA today.

In other action by the FIA today, as part of the specific conditions for the participation of a Manufacturer 2, that manufacturer must inform the FIA of the names of the two drivers nominated for the purpose of scoring points no later than five weeks prior to the start of the Rally concerned.

FIA amends final GT calendar for 2006 FIA amends final GT calendar for 2006The 2006 FIA European Touring Car Cup event will be held at Estoril on
22 October 2006.

The Calendar for the 2006 FIA GT Championship is amended as follows:

07-May GB  Silverstone
28-May CZ  Brno 
02-July D  Oschersleben
30-July B  24h Spa-Francorchamps
03-September F  Dijon 
17-September I  Mugello
01-October RO  Bucarest**
15 October*  I  Adria**
17-November UAE  Dubai 
* Subject to the ASN’s confirmation
** Subject to the FIA homologation of the circuit

07-May GB  Silverstone
02-Jul D  Oschersleben
30-Jul B  24h Spa-Francorchamps
03-Sep F  Dijon 
17-Sep I  Mugello

The WMSC also approved calendars for a number of international series and national championships with foreign events.

World Council approves 2008 F1 Sporting Regs World Council approves 2008 F1 Sporting RegsToday the FIA's World Motor Sport Council approved the sporting regulations for the 2008 Formula One season as well as the deadline for team entries by March 31st of this year.

The World Motor Sport Council met in Paris on 22 March, 2006. The following decisions were taken:

The 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship Sporting Regulations were accepted and will be published in full on 23 March 2006.

The 2008 Sporting Regulations have three objectives:

• to reduce the cost of competing;
• to improve the sporting spectacle; and
• to maintain and, where possible, improve current safety standards.

Entries for the 2008 Championship will open on 24 March 2006 and close on 31 March 2006.

The FIA will then begin a series of meetings with the teams which enter the 2008 Championship in order to finalize the regulations for 2008. The regulations which affect the design of the cars must be finalized before 30 June 2006 to give the competing teams sufficient time to design and develop their 2008 cars. The regulations not affecting the design of the cars can be modified at any point up to the start of the 2008 season.

A regulation can be modified following a majority vote of the Sporting Working Group, consisting of one senior representative from each team, and ratification by the Formula One Commission and the World Motor Sport Council. FIA

Firestone sweepstakes offers free trip to Indy Firestone sweepstakes offers free trip to IndyIs racing in your blood? Does experiencing the spirit of the Indy 500 and attending “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” top your list of dreams? Want to party in the shadow of the world-famous Bombardier Pagoda, which stands alongside the legendary 2.5 mile oval at Indy?

Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT) is launching a promotion this spring in support of the Firestone® Firehawk, the tire that was “Born at Indy®, Performs Everywhere™.” Consumers can register to win the grand prize, a trip for 10 to attend the 2007 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, simply by visiting any participating Firestone retailer from May 1-June 25, 2006. Winners will be randomly selected, from entries submitted at participating retailers, on July 15, 2006 at the Firestone Indy 200 in Nashville, Tenn.

“The Firestone Indy 500 Pagoda Party Sweepstakes is a chance of a lifetime to attend ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing®,’” said Phil Pacsi, executive director of Consumer Tire Marketing, BFNT. “Firestone has won more races at Indy than all of the other tire manufacturers combined. This year marks the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race®, so we wanted to do something special to help commemorate this milestone, as well as salute the brand’s rich history, which spans more than a century. zzzz 

“This sweepstakes highlights the brand’s strong connection to the Brickyard, as well as its role in the history of the famed track.”

Said Terry Angstadt, vice president, marketing, Indianapolis Motor Speedway: “Firestone has been a longtime partner of the Speedway, and our relationship continues to be very successful on and off the track. We thank Firestone for creating the Firestone Indy 500 Pagoda Party Sweepstakes as a salute to both the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 and to the fans who have watched Firestone tires carry driving legends to victory at Indianapolis for nearly a century.”

Additional sweepstakes prizes include a First Prize of a collectible Tag Heuer Indy 500 watch, five Second Prizes of a set of four Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tires, and 10 Third Prizes of a framed, limited edition Indy 500 90th Anniversary commemorative art piece, which includes images from the legendary venue as well as piece of the historic Brickyard.

See your participating Bridgestone Firestone retailer for Official Rules and entry.

Nashville-based Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT) is a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc., whose parent company, Bridgestone Corporation, is the world’s largest tire and rubber company. BFNT develops, manufactures and markets Bridgestone, Firestone and associate brand tires. The company is focused on wholesale and original equipment markets, supplying passenger, light truck, commercial vehicle, off-road, motorcycle, agricultural and other tires to its customers in North America.

Parsons the wine maker Parsons the wine makerLike most people who left Wilkes for auto factory jobs and other work in Detroit in the 1940s and 1950s, Benny Parsons has returned to his native county. The Motor Racing Sports Hall of Fame driver and 1973 Winston Cup champion still has homes in Concord and Florida, but he’s building a house overlooking the North Prong of Lewis Fork Creek Valley in Parsonsville, NC and surrounding mountains. The hilltop house is on land that’s been in his family for generations. On 10 adjoining acres where his forebears had an orchard, Parsons is planting rows of Chardonnay Merlot and Syrah grapes for a vineyard and winery. Parsons, 64, married and with two grown sons, has been in Wilkes a lot lately due to his new house and vineyard near where he was raised in Parsonsville. The motorsports radio show host and NASCAR TV analyst drew a big crowd when he was volunteer guest speaker at the Wilkes United Way Campaign Finale on Feb. 28. Parsons’ two brothers, Phil Parsons and Steve Parsons were born in Detroit and stayed with their parents. Steve still lives there and Phil lives in Denver. Excerpts from the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.
New strong partners for Audi in the DTM New strong partners for Audi in the DTMAudi starts into the 2006 DTM season with strong new as well as proven partners. The consistently growing importance of the most popular international touring car racing series is also reflected in the great interest displayed by the sponsors: Castrol, LuK, Playboy, Red Bull, Siemens and Veltins are six strong brands whose support Audi has been able to secure for its DTM commitment. In addition, the Audi Bank, Audi Gebrauchtwagen:plus, Audi Original Zubehör® and Quattro GmbH use the DTM’s popularity to draw attention to their products and services.
This reinforcement of the sponsoring commitments has a positive side effect for the fans of the DTM: In the 2006 season the Audi A4 DTM cars sport an array of different colors and designs allowing them to be identified clearly at first glance by both spectators and TV commentators.
Only two of the Audi A4 DTM cars – as before – will look nearly identical: Mattias Ekström, the 2004 DTM Champion, and Martin Tomczyk will be competing in the blue-silver livery of Red Bull. The world’s market leader in energy drinks has been a partner of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline since 1998 and, despite its extensive Formula 1 commitment, continues to bank on Audi and the DTM. zzzz
A new Audi partner in the DTM is the brewery C. & A. Veltins. Competing in the car sporting the white-green livery of the premium pilsner brand will be Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who in the past had been the ambassador of the private brewery based in Meschede in Formula 1.
New colors will also be adorning the car driven by Tom Kristensen: The Le Mans record winner drives a white Audi bearing the logos of electronics corporation Siemens.
Frank Stippler’s A4 DTM this year resembles Tom Kristensen’s 2005 vehicle: On the silver-red Audi, Quattro GmbH promotes its S line sports packages. Team-mate Timo Scheider presents the "Gebrauchtwagen:plus” used car programme-of AUDI AG and the Audi Bank.
Particularly conspicuous vehicles will be driven by Christian Abt, Pierre Kaffer and Vanina Ickx. Sponsors of Christian Abt’s black A4 are "Playboy”, the lifestyle magazine for men, as well as Audi Gebrauchtwagen:plus. Pierre Kaffer’s green A4 bears the logos of Castrol, Audi Sport’s new lubricants partner in the DTM. Vanina Ickx, the first woman in the DTM in over ten years, drives a red Audi promoting Audi Original Zubehör ®, AUDI AG’s official accessories line with the message Audi Accessories: 100% Audi.
Another new partner is LuK. The drivetrain specialists based in Bühl are a member of the Schaeffler group of companies, which is a development partner and production supplier to Audi with other brands as well, INA and FAG.

The Audi A4 DTM cars sporting their new designs will be seen for the first time in the official DTM tests at Brands Hatch. They will be unveiled to the general public at the DTM presentation in Düsseldorf next weekend.

Cutting up on the IRL Cutting up on the IRLThis AZStarnet article cuts up on the IRL and it's clear this author is not buying all the IRL rhetoric about how great the series is doing.  Bottom line - 2006 is a just get by year with a merger with Champ Car necessary in 2007.
Shaikh Salman for Euro series Shaikh Salman for Euro seriesFormula BMW 2005 Asia champion Shaikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa will take part in the European Renault Series.

The young aspiring racer, who was invited to join the team in 2001, is going from strength to strength. His ambition is to climb the motor racing ladder with the unfaltering support of the team owner Shaikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Khalifa, and under guidance of team manager Shaikh Hamad bin Isa bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.

"We are very proud to announce that Formula BMW 2005 champion Shaikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa will represent the Unstoppabulls Racing Team and the Kingdom of Bahrain in two European Championships in the 2006 season," said Shaikh Khalifa.

"Shaikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa will participate in the Formula Renault Eurocup and the French Formula Renault 2000 Championship. We selected the Spanish team Epsilon after much research and deliberation and are happy with our choice and we hope it will be an interesting season for us all," said Shaikh Khalifa. zzzz

Shaikh Salman began his racing career in local karting, moved to autocross and was invited to participate in the Formula BMW Asia Championship in 2004 where he finished sixth. He also won the Middle East Car Championship in Bahrain the same year.

With last year's 2005 Formula BMW Asia Championship under his belt, Shaikh Salman with continued support can only keep going up and continue to represent the Kingdom at the higher level of motor racing.

A true champion and an inspiration to younger racers, Unstoppabulls racer Shaikh Salman bin Rashid is currently in Europe undergoing intensive training to reach the highest level of fitness. This essential but vital part of his training is to ensure that his body can withstand the pressure it will have to encounter during the season.

Under the watchful eye of his personal trainer and under the advice of Shaikh Hamad, Shaikh Salman has already improved his fitness level and is ready for the new season.

"I am looking forward to the new season in Europe. It's certainly going to be a challenge. As you can imagine the weather conditions are different, the tracks are new to me and the competition is tough, but I'm pretty confident and will give it my best shot. I am grateful to Shaikh Khalifa who has supported me unconditionally and helped me in my career. He continues to be encouraging and has given me the opportunity not only to race in Asia but now in Europe. I consider myself very lucky and hope to bring home some good results in the 2006 season," said Shaikh Salman.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Fisi fizzes at Ferrari
BMW, McLaren, to scrap 'flex' wings
No driver crisis, says Flav
Be like Flav
Kimi in no rush to sign '07 deal
JV's new girl
Petition targets Monza GP threat
No Schu talks yet - manager
Nico admits Webber duel 'mistake'
Schu was prepared to test this week
Give Rubens time to speed up, says Honda
Alonso says no to F1 2019
Massa rues lost podium chance
Ferrari's V8 fault nearly fixed
FIA council to meet on Wednesday
STR unlikely to score points - boss
Bristol Pre-Race Cup Notes Bristol Pre-Race Cup Notes
Jonathan Bomarito fastest on Day 1 of Atlantic testing Jonathan Bomarito fastest on Day 1 of Atlantic testingFONTANA, California (March 21, 2006) – There were two common themes shared by all participants in the first of two open test days for the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda at California Speedway. The first was, “Wow, this is cold for California,” and the second was “Wow, this new Atlantic car runs awesome.”

Out of the 29 entries at the two-day test session, 24 drivers ran under cloudy skies and cold and windy conditions Tuesday at the 1.49-mile infield road circuit at California Speedway. But while the temperatures were in 50s, the spirits were bright and feedback was positive in the first test session for all 2006 Atlantic competitors with the new-generation Mazda-Cosworth/Swift 016.a/Yokohama cars. Teams turned mainly trouble-free laps throughout the course of the day and times began to drop as the teams started to figure out the setups on their new machines, which were delivered on March 8.

Jonathan Bomarito (right) of PR1 Motorsports got off to a quick start in the new Atlantic, topping both the morning and afternoon sessions on the timing charts. Bomarito clocked a top lap of 58.666 (91.740 mph) late in the afternoon to lead all series testers.

“First off all I have to thank everyone at PR1 for their hard work,” said Bomarito, a native of Monterey, California who earned one podium result among seven Atlantic starts in 2004. “(Team owner) Bobby Oergel and the whole team worked so hard over the past two weeks to put this car together and they did a fantastic job. Being quickest on the first test day doesn’t really mean a whole lot in the big picture, but it means a lot mentally for the team and our confidence and it shows what a great job they’ve done. I hope this is the beginning of a big year for us.”

Rookie Simon Pagenaud (right) of Team Australia emerged with the second-fastest lap of the day at 58.694 (91.696 mph). The French racer, who excelled in European competition before joining the Atlantic Championship earlier this month, was impressed with the new car. “I was really surprised how good the car was right away,” said the native of Montmorillon, France. “The power was good and the braking was incredible. I think the team did a fantastic job getting it ready for the test.” zzzz

Canadian first-year driver James Hinchcliffe (right)completed the top-three test times of the day with a lap of 58.893 (91.386 mph) as 12 cars were separated by less than a second in the deep and talented Atlantic field. “All in all it was a very good day,” said Hinchcliffe, one four Forsythe Championship Racing drivers that performed well on the first day with the new Atlantic. “Between all four of us we ran a lot of laps with virtually no problems. Thanks to everyone at Forsythe who made us all look good out there. These cars are ready to go racing right now.”

With the 2006 season opener at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach just over two weeks away (April 7-9), Champ Car Atlantic teams want to take advantage of every single lap to get a feel for their new cars. Another full day of testing is scheduled for Wednesday on the 17-turn course as warmer temperatures are expected to greet competitors on Wednesday.

Combines lap times from Tuesday’s testing

  1. Jonathan Bomarito, PR1 Motorsports – 58.666 sec/91.740 mph
  2. Simon Pagenaud, Team Australia – 58.694 sec/91.696 mph
  3. James Hinchcliffe, Forsythe Championship Racing – 58.893 sec/91.386 mph
  4. Andreas Wirth, Forsythe Championship Racing – 58.985 sec/91.244 mph
  5. Graham Rahal, Mi-Jack Conquest Racing – 59.037 sec/91.163 mph
  6. Alex Barron, Polestar Racing Group – 59.139 sec/91.006 mph
  7. Richard Philippe, Forsythe Championship Racing – 59.252 sec/90.832 mph
  8. Raphael Matos, Sierra Sierra Enterprises – 59.324 sec/90.722 mph
  9. David Martinez, US RaceTronics – 59.340 sec/90.698 mph
  10. Leonardo Maia, Forsythe Championship Racing – 59.481 sec/90.483 mph
  11. Charles Hall, Transnet Racing – 59.515 sec/90.431 mph
  12. Norbert Siedler, Brooks Associates Racing – 59.597 sec/90.307 mph
  13. Stephen Simpson, Gelles Racing – 59.744 sec/90.084 mph
  14. Robbie Pecorari, Gelles Racing – 59.805 sec/89.992 mph
  15. Tim Bridgman, Jensen Motorsport – 59.846 sec/89.931 mph
  16. Danilo Dirani, Condor Motorsports – 59.854 sec/89.919 mph
  17. Mike Forest, PR1 Motorsports – 59.856 sec/89.916 mph
  18. Joe D’Agostino, Newman/Wachs Racing -59.964 sec/89.754 mph
  19. Luis Schiavo, Brooks Associates Racing – 1:00.079 sec/89.582 mph
  20. Alan Sciuto, Polestar Racing Group – 1:00.702 sec/88.663 mph
  21. Nick Jones, Jensen Motorsport – 1:01.991 sec/86.819 mph
  22. Tonis Kasemets, Transnet Racing – 1:03.284 sec/85.045 mph
  23. Dan Selznick, The Room Store – 1:03.757 sec/84.414 mph
  24. Justin Sofio, Mathiasen Motorsports – 1:05.557 sec/82.096
Hot News Archives
2000 2001 2002 2003

Search Hot News
Search Help
AutoRacing1 Inc. BBB Business Review