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HVM statement Regarding Mario Dominguez’s Departure HVM statement Regarding Mario Dominguez’s Departure“We enjoyed a mutually rewarding relationship with Mario Dominguez, but due to the changing business circumstances it was decided that his joining Forsythe Racing is the best course of action for all parties going forward.  We wish him much success. HVM is looking forward to announcing its two car line-up which will occur in the next few days.” HVM Co-Owner and Managing Director, Keith Wiggins
Test your karting skills at Long Beach Test your karting skills at Long BeachWant to race on the rooftop in Long Beach?  If so, head for the roof of the Long Beach Convention Center Arena parking structure April 8-10 during the 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  That's where Apex Kart Racing will be setting up a kart racing course and, for a nominal fee, you and your friends can test your skill at the sport that helped launch the racing careers of stars like Champ Car ace Paul Tracy, F/One champion Michael Schumacher and NASCAR's Jeff Gordon.

Widely-recognized kart instructor David DiMond will be bringing his Riverside-based kart operation to the Grand Prix, with a number of his top young prodigies on hand to provide racing instruction and demonstrations.

"I'm excited and grateful to be part of an event that has been such a part of karting history," said DiMond.  "Plus, I'm anxious to share the sport about which I'm so passionate with many thousands of race fans who may be climbing aboard a kart for the first time."

"We're delighted to have David and Apex Karting as part of the event weekend," said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.  "Along with our FreestyleMX and Giant Bicycle Stunt team performers, there will be almost constant action in and around the Lifestyle Expo as well as on the race circuit."

IRL TV ratings continue to nosedive IRL TV ratings continue to nosediveUPDATE #2 The IRL TV rating for the Phoenix race (0.6 on ABC) was 23 of 23 (dead last) of all sports programs that weekend according to Nielsen.  Next highest was Arena Football with a 0.9 final rating, a full 50% higher than the IRL. 03/29/05 The final TV rating for the IRL race at Phoenix was a horrendous 0.6 on ABC, down 33% in one year from a 0.9 in 2004.  We will ask once again, was this Tony George's "vision" when he decided to create the IRL, split Indy Car racing in half and destroy it? 03/21/05 The overnight TV rating for Saturday's IRL race in Phoenix on ABC was a 0.8/2share from Nielsen Media Research, down 33% from last year's 1.2/2 share....and that was down from a 1.5/3 Share in 2003. Not only was race attendance way off, so was the TV rating. This trend has been going on for 10 years now and there appears to be no stopping the freefall in the TV ratings despite all the money Honda and Toyota are pumping into the IRL. The first race of the year in Homestead was even worse. We wonder if this was Tony George's "Vision" - to split the sport and destroy it? Probably not, but everyone said it would happen, but he wouldn't listen. We look at where the sport was in 1995 and can only shake our head.

Now it remains to be seen if Kevin Kalkhoven and company can turn Champ Car around and save the sport of open wheel racing from the devastation that has occurred as a result of the IRL being formed. All open wheel fans in the USA had better hope they succeed as they appear to be the only hope now. If Toyota and Honda were spending on Champ Car what they are spending on the IRL, their return on investment would likely be much higher....i.e. if they had never left the IRL probably would not have survived and open wheel racing in the USA wouldn't be in the state it is now. All the teams, sponsors, manufacturers and drivers who went to the IRL, leaving CART for dead, must now look back and survey the damage they have collectively done by not staying united under CART. Someone should write a book. 

John Andretti's Cup program scaled back John Andretti's Cup program scaled backppc Racing officials announced today its #14 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series program with driver John Andretti will cut back its full-time operations to a part-time schedule effective immediately. The team made five starts last year with Andretti and the first three races in the 2005 season, including the Daytona 500. Car Owner, Greg Pollex, talked about today's announcement: "We started our cup program last year with the #14 car with the intent of being competitive and we want to continue that initiative in 2005," said Pollex. "We did not anticipate the major shift in the qualifying rules which force a non-locked-in team to qualify for a race or to go home, as it happened to us in Atlanta. The combination of the new qualifying rules and the fact that most events are impound races is a combination that does not work when you are forced to use a qualifying setup just to make the field. A qualifying set up will not race competitively. We have decided to turn our efforts to improving down force on our bodies to assist in the qualifying effort. This will also allow our primary cup sponsor to regroup their sponsorship package for the remainder of the year. In the near future we will announce a part-time schedule for this year and return stronger than ever full time in 2006."  In addition, Pollex noted ppc Racing's NASCAR Busch and Craftsman Truck Series programs will continue in their championship form in 2005 with no direct affect from today's announcement. ppc Racing
Decision made on No. 29 appeal Decision made on No. 29 appealUPDATE Richard Childress Statement Regarding NASCAR Penalty:
The following is a statement from Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing (RCR), regarding NASCAR’s decision to uphold its penalty to RCR’s No. 29 team for a rules infraction March 11 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:

It is impossible for me to describe how disappointed I am with NASCAR’s penalty and appeal process. First of all, what Todd Berrier did was wrong and we deserve to be penalized. But I think suspending him for four weeks, in light of everything else that has happened in the past several weeks, is wrong. The infraction took place during qualifying and we were sent to the back of the field to start the race. Penalizing Kevin Harvick, who knew nothing about the infraction before the fact, is also wrong. NASCAR’s decision to deduct driver points, whether it’s Kevin Harvick or any other driver, does an injustice to the sponsors and everyone involved with the racing organization.   There is no consistency in NASCAR’s penalty and appeal process. It’s black and white. You’re either legal or you’re not. RCR

03/30/05 The appeal on behalf of Kevin Harvick's crew chief Todd Berrier has been heard. Both NASCAR and the Richard Childress Racing team presented their arguments to the National Stock Car Racing Commission today. The panel hopes to decide by late Wednesday if the four-race penalty will stick for the chief of the 29 team. NASCAR suspended Berrier and issued a $25,000 fine following the race at Las Vegas after an illegal fuel cell was found after qualifying. Harvick lost 25 points as did car owner Richard Childress. Berrier sat out in Atlanta. No word yet about whether he'll be back atop the pit box at Bristol. Last week, the commission did rescind the crew chief suspensions of two Hendrick Cup chiefs and replaced them with a 90-day suspension. But the fines and point penalties remained intact. FoxSports/NASCAR Nation TV Show

DECISION ANNOUNCED: National Stock Car Racing Commission Statement: On March 29, 2005, the National Stock Car Racing Commission heard and considered the Appeal of Richard Childress, Kevin Harvick, and Todd Berrier concerning three penalties assessed by NASCAR relative to the #29 car following the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 13, 2005. The infractions concerned Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR Rule Book -Actions detrimental to stock car racing - and Section 12-4-Q - Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the car, car parts, components, and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform to NASCAR rules: unapproved fuel filler and unapproved fuel cell vent.

The penalties assessed were:
- Loss of 25 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship Car Owner Points for car owner Richard Childress.
- Loss of 25 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship Driver Points for Kevin Harvick.
- $25,000.00 fine and suspension from NASCAR until April 20, 2005 and suspension from the next four (4) NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races for crew chief Todd Berrier. The Appellants acknowledged that the sealed-off filler and the plug inserted in the vent line were deliberate rules violations, but appealed the severity of the penalties. The Commission found the penalties to be appropriate. Therefore it is the unanimous decision of the National Stock Car Racing Commission to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR. The Commission notes that Mr. Berrier has already served the suspension for one of the four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races. The Appellants have the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Commissioner. NASCAR PR
Dana, Hemelgarn Skip St. Petersburg Event Dana, Hemelgarn Skip St. Petersburg EventEthanol Hemelgarn Racing and driver Paul Dana will sit out the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  The decision to take this weekend off allows the team to focus on its oval program and be as prepared as possible for the Indianapolis 500 in May.  "We are going to do a few days of oval testing to try to get our program sorted out, and since the other two road course events aren't until later in the year, hopefully we'll have some time to get our road-course car put together and tested before then,” said Dana, who is tied for 12th in points and leads the Bombardier Rookie of the Year standings.  "I started out in road racing up in Canada so I'm really excited that the series is going in this direction. It's frustrating to have to sit out one of the early events, but we've gotten such a late start to the season we've got to pick our battles a little bit."  Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing will next race at the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi on April 30.
No regulation changes until 2008 No regulation changes until 2008The World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) met in Paris today and decided that the Formula One Technical Regulations will remain unchanged for 2005, 2006 and 2007. However, a proposal for change, unanimously supported by the F1 teams, would be considered by the WMSC.

The current rule which places no limit on the number of tire manufacturers competing in the Championship would still remain in force at least until 2008.

The teams would be invited to discuss the 2008 Formula One Technical Regulations in a meeting on April 15, 2005, with further meetings during the summer if necessary. In accordance with the requirements of the Concorde Agreement, the new regulations would be published by the FIA no later than December 31, 2005.

The FIA also approved the adoption of new international anti-doping regulations in line with the rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code. Decisions made under the Regulations may be appealed and all appeals would be ultimately heard by the FIA Court of Appeal. Furthermore, there will be an immediate ban on the wearing of jewelry (body piercing and heavy chains) by race competitors. FIA

A1 Grand Prix
Another team joins A1 Grand Prix Another team joins A1 Grand PrixA1 Grand Prix marked its first birthday today with the launch of A1 Team Australia exactly one year on from the championship's official launch in Dubai. With 15 national teams signed up so far and another 10 teams in the final stages of negotiations, A1 Grand Prix is now counting down to its first race this September.

To date, some of the world's most successful entrepreneurs, with an estimated net worth of 50 billion US dollars, have demonstrated their commitment to the championship by investing in their national teams. Presidents, Prime Ministers and numerous government ministers, statesmen and high-profile celebrities have backed A1 Grand Prix through attendance at the five national launches which have taken place so far.

In the latest high-profile ceremony, Australia became the sixth country to unveil their A1 Grand Prix race car and the second nation to be announced as an A1 Grand Prix race venue. A1 Grand Prix Founder, President and Chairman Sheikh Maktoum took the opportunity to confirm Sydney's Eastern Creek circuit as a race location although the exact date is still subject to negotiations.

Speaking of his country's involvement in the new championship, A1 Team Australia Chairman Alan Jones commented "There is no doubt that Australians love their sport and their motor racing. To compete in an international series and to have one race in Australia is very exciting. We are here not just to win but to use this as an opportunity for Australia’s up and coming drivers."
A1 Grand Prix Founder, President and Chairman Sheikh Maktoum spoke of his excitement for Australia's involvement in the championship. "With over 200 countries in the world and only 25 places on the A1 Grand Prix grid, I'm delighted and honored that to have A1 Team Australia launch this evening with such national support from its government, businesses and people."

Sheikh Maktoum took the opportunity of the launch of the Australian A1 Team to announce the participation in A1 Grand Prix of Australia’s closest rival, New Zealand. The franchise has been bought by entrepreneur businessman Colin Gilchrist of Gilchrist Holdings.

Christian Jones will take the wheel of the Australian A1 Grand Prix race car for a media demonstration at the Eastern Creek circuit on Thursday 31st March. A1 Grand Prix

A1 Grand Prix
New Zealand to have A1 GP team New Zealand to have A1 GP teamNew Zealand has been the latest country to announce a team for the new A1 Grand Prix series that will start next September.  A1 president and chairman Sheikh Maktoum said the franchise has been bought by entrepreneur businessman Colin Giltrap of Giltrap Group Holdings Limited.
Overnight and Final TV Ratings for Atlanta down Overnight and Final TV Ratings for Atlanta downUPDATE The final TV rating for the Nextel Cup race at Atlanta a week and a half ago was a 5.5/13 share, down from a 5.7/14 share in 2004 and down even further from the 6.4/16 share in 2003.  Not a good trend.  03/21/05 Fox's broadcast of Sunday's Golden Corral 500 drew a 4.9 overnight rating and an 11 share from Nielsen Media Research, today's Sports Business Daily reports. The rating is 8.2 percent lower than the 5.3 overnight figure the race drew in 2004, when it was contested a week earlier on the calendar and was not broadcast opposite CBS's coverage of the NCAA's men's basketball tournament. The Daily reported that CBS averaged a 7.1 overnight rating for its three broadcast windows of games Sunday, a 10.9 percent increase over last year. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
Daytona HOF bid clears 1st step Daytona HOF bid clears 1st stepDaytona Beach's bid to attract a NASCAR hall of fame got its first legislative victory Tuesday -- but the hard part is still coming. The House Tourism Committee approved a plan that would commit $30 million over 25 years to the city's effort to lure the hall of fame to a site near Daytona International Speedway. The vote came after weeks of lobbying and tinkering by local officials as they tried to ease concerns about using tax dollars to pay for the project. But the plan still faces major obstacles, including uncertainty about whether House and Senate leaders will go along with funneling tens of millions of dollars to the hall of fame and other sports-related projects. Also, three other House committees are slated to vote on the plan during the coming weeks -- including the House Finance and Taxation committee, which is expected to closely scrutinize the project. Daytona Beach News Journal
Industry News
Hinchcliffe teams with PitFit Training Hinchcliffe teams with PitFit TrainingAlways looking to improve, 18-year-old James Hinchcliffe has teamed with PitFit Training, LLC and their new scholarship program. Hinchcliffe, who currently competes in the Star Mazda Series will begin to work with Jim Leo of PitFit Training to improve his overall physical fitness.

“I met Jim while we worked together in the Formula BMW USA series last year” explained Hinchcliffe. “He is a great guy and PitFit is at the top of the industry for driver fitness. I am thrilled to be working with them this year"

PitFit Training LLC is the premier fitness training program for drivers of all levels.  Clients include Indy Racing League competitor’s Scott Dixon and Sam Hornish Jr, Champ Car star Paul Tracy and Formula One pilot Anthony Davidson as well as dozens of other drivers from karting to Formula One.

Jim Leo, founder and CEO of PitFit Training, LLC explains “The PitFit Training Scholarship Program was designed to give up and coming drivers the physical training tools necessary to take their driving career to the next level. When we thought of the scholarship program and the ideals it encompasses, James was the first guy on our list.  I met James last year when we worked with him in Formula BMW, and I was very impressed with his skill and commitment on and off the track". Jim also went onto express, "We are excited to put James on our team, and expect to have a major impact in his future as he continues his quest for Formula One."

“If you just look at the drivers PitFit has worked with it proves there caliber of work,” stated the Oakville Ontario resident. “The training has always been a part of racing that I have enjoyed, and now with PitFit I can properly raise myself to the next level"

Hinchcliffe, who is preparing for his first Grand-Am cup start next weekend, finished 5th in his first Pro Mazda event at Sebring Raceway just two weeks ago. The talented series rookie had some early race problems but was able to overcome them and come from outside the top ten to score his 5th place result.

PitFit Training LLC is an Indianapolis, Indiana based company. For more information on PitFit Training and their scholarship program, please contact President Jim Leo at 317-388-1000 or via e-mail at JimLeoPitFit@aol.com.

Walker Racing announces new sponsor partners Walker Racing announces new sponsor partnersWalker Racing announced the formation of Team Australia with two Australian businessmen to campaign a two car team entry in this years Bridgestone presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season opener at Long Beach California on 10th of April 2005. Australian Marcus Marshall and Canadian Alex Tagliani will drive the team’s number 5 and 15 Lola race cars.

Australian businessman Craig Gore of Wright Patton Shakespeare Financial Group became interested in Champ Car when Walker Racing entered a car for WPS driver David Besnard in last year’s Champ Car Surfers Paradise event. Besnard finished 7th in that event. Gore, whose company is headquartered in Brisbane, Queensland, also competes in the V8 Super Car Series.

Said team owner Derrick Walker, “I first approached Craig about the Team Australia concept as a way he could be involved in the sport by bringing in sponsorships and also share in some ownership of the race program element only. This involvement provides sponsorship assets without having to buy into my race team. Walker Racing is still 100% owned by me and continues to look for business opportunities.  As the months passed the idea began to gain support from Craig and he introduced another businessman, John Fish, who has major plans to introduce his Australian wines (Aussie Vineyards) to the US market. From there the program quickly took shape and we have an exciting fresh race program that symbolizes the New World order in Champ Car today. “

Walker continues, “Craig and John bring unique business skills to the table that make this program partnership a win win! That’s something we also want to be doing on the track pretty soon.”

The Aussie Vineyards brand will be the primary sponsor identity on both of the Team Australia entries. Other sponsors will include Bridgestone, Ford, Cosworth, Bosch, and Roshfrans.

Industry News
Oversupply killing profits in China Oversupply killing profits in ChinaIn a simple case of supply ramping up too fast for demand, Chinese passenger-car makers saw their profits plunge by 78.4 percent in the first two months of 2005, compared with the period a year ago, according to data reported by government media Tuesday.  Although rising prices for raw materials, especially steel, raised production costs, the biggest factor sapping profits was falling prices. Car prices dropped an average of about 12 percent last year, the government-run newspaper Shanghai Daily reported. 

China is the world's fastest-growing auto market, as rising incomes make it possible for millions to buy their first cars. Foreign automakers are investing billions of dollars in expanding production in China to meet booming demand.  But demand has plateaued in recent months. Vehicle sales are forecast to rise about 10 percent this year, compared with 75 percent growth in passenger-car sales in 2003 and 15 percent last year.

Industry News
Honda USA sales down Honda USA sales downIRL manufacturer and sponsor Honda is seeing a sales decline of 8.3 percent in the first two months of the year.  The decline is practically in lockstep with that of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. Their sales are off 9.9 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.  The blame for Honda Motor's performance this year largely falls on the flagship Honda brand, its resistance to offering big rebates, and the fast-declining popularity of its two best-selling vehicles -- the long-dependable Accord and Civic cars.  Sales of Honda's Acura luxury vehicles are up 5.4 percent for the first two months of the year, compared with last year. But Honda division sales are down a stark 10.6 percent during the same period. 
de la Rosa and Wurz elevated de la Rosa and Wurz elevatedPedro de la Rosa's promotion to McLaren race duties, thanks to Juan Pablo Montoya's enforced injury lay-off, means that the team's other test driver Alex Wurz will take over third car duties on Friday.  But the tall Austrian admitted that he would have preferred to have been selected to race for the team.  Wurz recently reaffirmed his desire to return to the grid in this month's F1 Racing magazine.  "It's no secret that I still want to race and if the right opportunity came up then I'll go racing," he said.  "If I could join a team as a race driver and give it everything over a two or three year period, well, I think I could bring a lot to that team."
What does NASCAR sponsorship cost? What does NASCAR sponsorship cost?Here is an estimate of costs to sponsor a NASCAR Nextel Cup car (per car)
Primary: Hood and rear quarter panels plus uniform and equipment logos — $12-16 million, though the largest accounts in Nextel Cup are now approaching $20 million.
Major Associate: Rear deck lid or rear quarter panels plus prominent logo on uniform — $2-4 million
Associate: B or C post or lower rear quarter panels — wide range from $50,000 to $500,000 depending on level of off-track appearance and advertising guarantees.
Contingency Sponsors: Smaller decals that cover the front fenders, programs typically set up with NASCAR and then offered to teams in exchange for decal placement. Example: Bud Pole Award, Raybestos Rookie Contenders, MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award. Cost of sponsorship varies widely and payouts to teams vary from program to program. Teams aren't required to run contingency sponsors, and typically don't if there is a conflict with one of their primaries.
NASCAR fines two crew chiefs NASCAR fines two crew chiefsNASCAR Busch Series crew chiefs Steve Plattenberger and Elton Sawyer were each fined $500 Monday for violations discovered during the opening inspection for the weekend's race at Nashville Superspeedway.  Both Plattenberger, crew chief for Tim Fedewa, and Sawyer, crew chief for Kasey Kahne, were penalized by NASCAR for using lug nuts that had not been approved. The violations were discovered during Friday's inspection for Saturday's race.
Said to run 2 more Cup races Said to run 2 more Cup racesMB/Sutton Motorsports announced that Boris Said's 2005 Nextel Cup schedule has been expanded from 11 to 13 races with the addition of the Talladega race in May and the Texas race in November.
Said, who competed in the Daytona 500, will next race his No. 36 CENTRIX Financial Chevrolet at the Samsung/RadioShack 500 weekend, April 15-17 at Texas Motor Speedway.
"The expansion of Boris' schedule is a result of the interest the team generated in Daytona along with the positive fan response we're receiving from our www.centrixdirect.com portal," said Jim Hancock, executive vice president of CENTRIX Financial and president of Sutton Motorsports. "We'll continue to explore the viability of entering more races as the season progresses."   
Said was predictably excited about the additional races.   
"Bring them on -- the more the merrier," offered Said. "Racing in more Nextel Cup races makes Boris Said a very happy person. I can't wait to get back in my CENTRIX Financial Chevy at Texas (in April) and then running the monster track in Talladega."
Said's 2005 Nextel Cup Schedule
Daytona, Feb. 20
Texas, April 17
Talladega, May 1
Charlotte, May 29
Sonoma, June 26
Daytona, July 2
Indianapolis, Aug. 7
Watkins Glen, Aug. 14
California, Sept. 4
Kansas, Oct. 9
Charlotte, Oct. 15
Atlanta, Oct. 30
Texas, Nov. 6
Industry News
Crash.net buys Autocourse Crash.net buys AutocourseOnline publishing house Crash dot Net Ltd, the company behind motorsports portal www.crash.net, has acquired Formula One annual Autocourse and its associated titles in a move firmly establishing the company in offline as well as online publishing.  The Silverstone based company takes over the publishing of Autocourse, Motocourse, Rallycourse, the Champ Car Yearbook and other associated titles and back catalogues with immediate effect.

"Today is without doubt the most important day in our short but exciting history and the proudest day of my life," explains Crash dot Net managing director, Bryn Williams.

"We have acquired a legacy, a true motorsport icon which so many of us have grown up with over the years. This opportunity, coupled with our passion and vision, means a very bright and exciting future for the company and for these iconic motor sport titles."

The company is committed to building on the 54 year history of Autcourse and the 29 year history of Motocourse in order to ensure that the titles continue long into the future, both offline and online.  In order to ensure the consistency and quality of the titles, Alan Henry and Mike Scott, editors of Autocourse and Motocourse respectively, have both been retained as part of the agreement.

Bessette stepping up to Atlantics Bessette stepping up to AtlanticsQuebec native Antoine Bessette will join Polestar Racing Group for the 32nd season of Atlantic competition with a full-season entry for the upcoming season. The 23 year old differs from many of today's racers by being successful in three years without coming up through the karting ranks. In his first complete season, Bessette posted five wins in 16 races in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Midwest and East Divisions. He has also competed in both Formula Ford 1600 cars and the Barber Dodge National Series. NSSN
Nashville longs for Cup race Nashville longs for Cup raceUPDATE Nashville can forget a Cup race.  During his recent opening-night visit to the Music City Motorplex at the old Tennessee state fairgrounds, Bill France made it clear there would not be a Nextel Cup race at the Nashville Superspeedway, which was opened just east of town a few years ago by Dover Motorsport. “If you’re going to become a national sport, then you have to do something besides racing in the Southeast,” France explained, adding “a 2.0 TV rating in New York City is a lot more homes, a lot more eyeballs than with maybe a 10.0 in Louisville.” NSSN 03/26/05 It would appear there's no better pairing than NASCAR and Nashville, with their shared audiences, but despite having a facility as fine as any in motorsports, the best the Music City can do at this point is events like today's Pepsi 300 Busch Series race at Nashville Superspeedway.  Nashville's NASCAR story is mostly about the big ones that got away.

From 1958 to 1984, the old 5/8-mile fairgrounds track in downtown Nashville was a regular stop on the circuit now known as Nextel Cup. But towards then end of that run, the sport outgrew the old facility, which seated just a little more than 14,000. Before local leaders and race promoters could figure a way to build a new facility or expand the old fairgrounds track, the city lost its lucrative Cup dates.

Now, despite having a five-year-old, $125million superspeedway in the suburb of Gladeville, a thriving tourism industry that would provide further entertainment options for race fans, and a strong NASCAR fan base, Nashville is caught in the middle of NASCAR's move away from the Southeast to bigger markets elsewhere.

Cliff Hawks, the 36-year-old general manager of the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway, is in the frustrating position of running comparatively minor league events at a major league facility in one of the nation's bigger racing markets.

"We have more people in middle Tennessee watching NASCAR than almost any other market," Hawks said, pointing out that Nashville alone was sixth in the nation, right behind Atlanta, in TV viewers for the 2005 Daytona 500. "The fan base here is rabid, and you see that in the crowds we have for NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races. It's not Nextel Cup, but we have full grandstands every time. This is NASCAR country without a doubt."

Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark is among those who believe Nashville could support a Cup date if one were available.  "Nashville is a fantastic motorsports market," he said, adding the city sits at the intersection of three interstate highways - I-40, I-24 and I-65 - making the trip an easy trek for tens of thousands. Among the major cities within a 300-mile radius are Atlanta, Memphis, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Tallahassee Democrat

Bridgestone look to raise its game at Sakhir Bridgestone look to raise its game at SakhirAfter the challenges of the opening two rounds of the Championship, Bridgestone Motorsport is eager to get to Bahrain with its latest Potenza tires specifically tailored to the 5.417km Sakhir circuit. After a weather-affected first round in Australia and a disappointing performance in Malaysia in which the Bridgestone-shod Ferrari of Michael Schumacher was just seventh, Bridgestone is keen to see its teams do well in Bahrain this weekend.

Ferrari will be racing its new F2005 cars for the first time at the third round of the season and Bridgestone’s engineers are looking forward to seeing how well the car-tire package performs.

Bridgestone has been busy producing several specifications of Potenza tire made especially to suit the characteristics of the 5.417km Sakhir circuit in Bahrain. One wet weather and one extreme wet weather specification have also been sent from Bridgestone’s Tokyo factory for its teams. Although a relatively smooth surface, tire compounds will be from the medium to hard range to provide the competitive combination of grip and wear performance on this tough track.

Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Motorsport “We have had an interesting start to the 2005 season and following the race in Malaysia I know our engineers have been working extremely hard behind the scenes to set us back on track. This is only Formula One’s second visit to the Middle Eastern circuit in Bahrain and no doubt it will be a tough challenge for us all but we are looking forward to embracing it and must remember that the Bridgestone equipped Ferraris came first and second last year. Off track, Bahrain has a great deal to offer, it is an important market so we are hoping to give our customers and dealers from the region a good show this coming weekend.”

Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager "Bahrain will be an extremely interesting race weekend for Bridgestone. We have raced there just the once in 2004 and will be relying on last year’s data as well as the teams’ latest simulation figures. The track itself at Bahrain is a combination of tight corners in the first sectors followed by high speed directional changes later on. We therefore need good stability from the cars and tires. Bahrain also poses a unique challenge in terms of its climatic conditions. There may well be varying levels of sand on the track and although track temperatures last year reached into the fifties earlier on in the weekend, we experienced rain on race day bringing temperatures back into the thirties. However, we have been testing hard with Ferrari over the past week with both the F2005 at Mugello and the F2004M in Fiorano and we are hopeful of being competitive this weekend."

"Ferrari’s decision to race the F2005 was a bold one and as a result we have been able to accelerate our development program, which will be of benefit to both Ferrari and the Jordan Grand Prix and Minardi F1 teams. In the meantime, we are looking forward to seeing our latest specifications working in combination with the new Ferrari car. However, this is only its debut race and we will undoubtedly be extracting more and more potential from the new package as it runs over the rest of the season. It is an exciting time for us all.” Bridgestone

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Montoya out until May?
Jacques' video-game training
Out to repeat Toyota triumph
Priaulx to drive F1 again
'Fit' Sato in Bahrain
Renault sound warning
Injured Webber 'fine'
Ferrari 'intense' - Schu
Alonso 'best' - Fisichella
Sauber turn two hundred
Bahrain set to 'sandblast' F1
No Bah-Rain forecast
Seen in Long Beach Seen in Long BeachSeen at the Long Beach media event today:

(L to R) The Champ Car paddock taking shape and the Pro Division Celebrity cars

The 2-seat Champ Car in Canary Fund yellow and the Drifting guys doing their thing

Dominguez signs Dominguez signsToday Mario Dominguez signed a contract with Forsythe Racing that will see him racing alongside Paul Tracy in 2005 according to AutoRacing1.com sources.
IRL implements confusing road course qualifying format IRL implements confusing road course qualifying formatThe Indy Racing League will employ a unique and entertaining road course qualifying procedure for the first time to determine the Marlboro Pole Award winner for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 3.

Unlike the oval events on the IndyCar Series schedule, practice will play a key role in determining the starting field at the three road and street course events on the 2005 schedule.

"We tried to come up with a scenario that places an emphasis on each session having meaning toward the next session, and each day having meaning toward the next day so that you're not just running around and practicing on Friday without any meaning or repercussions to your performance," IRL President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Barnhart said.

Under the road course qualifying procedures, all cars will participate in the opening two-hour session of practice (10:20 a.m. Friday). The performance based at the end of that session will determine the groups for split practice sessions Friday afternoon (2 p.m. Friday).

The combined Friday practice times will determine the event qualifying order, with the driver posting the fastest combined time from the first day of practice having the option of driving first or last in single-lap qualifying (2 p.m. Saturday).

"One hour before qualifying, the fastest driver from Friday will make a determination whether we will do an inverted slowest-to-fastest order or if we'll go in a straight-up order fastest to slowest in single-car qualifying," Barnhart said. "His reward for being fastest on Friday is he gets to choose whether he wants to be first or last."
At the conclusion of single-lap qualifying there will a 10-minute break for adjustments, then the fastest six cars will participate in a 10-minute, European-style session designed to give each car the opportunity to better its qualifying time. Cars will be spaced in 10 to 15-second gaps on the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit.

"The top-six times from the individual lap time will carry over, but they will get 10 minutes and multiple laps to try and improve their times and try and readjust the running order first through sixth," Barnhart said.

"Starting position is very critical on temporary circuits, street circuits and road courses. We wanted to put some emphasis on qualifying and create some challenges to get some separation and let the cream come to the top and get it to the point where the pressure is on, the drama is exciting, you can't make a mistake."

Industry News
Japan's Big 5 increase output Japan's Big 5 increase outputToyota Motor Corp., Japan's top automaker, boosted its Japanese production in February by 342,657 vehicles, up 10.4 percent from a year earlier, marking the second consecutive month of increases. Exports grew 10.2 percent to 169,282 vehicles, while overseas production was up 13.4 percent at 260,972 vehicles.

Nissan Motor Co. said its production in Japan rose 7.0 percent to 148,764 vehicles, the second straight month of rises, while exports rose 7.7 percent to 64,272 vehicles. Overseas production for Nissan, which is affiliated with Renault SA of France, rose 14.4 percent to 167,640 vehicles.

Honda Motor Co.'s domestic production climbed 9.4 percent to 114,576 vehicles in February, the fourth straight month of gains, driven by strong export demand.  Honda's exports rose 21.3 percent to 48,254 vehicles, led by strong North American demand for the Acura RL and Accord gasoline-electric hybrid model. Honda's overseas production rose 11.2 percent to 165,960 vehicles for the 13th straight monthly increase.

Japanese production for Mazda Motor Corp., one-third owned by Ford Motor Co. fell 1.3 percent in February to 66,614 vehicles.   That marked the third consecutive decline, stemming from a plant fire in mid-December that forced Mazda to halt part of its domestic production lines.

Mazda said its overseas output in February increased 4.9 percent to 21,436 vehicles, rising for the first time in two months. Exports fell 18.1 percent to 38,151 vehicles.  Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said its production in Japan fell 19.3 percent to 54,135 vehicles for the 10th straight decline as domestic sales and exports dropped. Exports fell 1.1 percent to 28,788 vehicles and overseas production fell 7.5 percent to 54,938 vehicles. Detroit Free Press

Aussie team a big boost to Surfers race Aussie team a big boost to Surfers raceA feature of Queensland’s big events calendar, Lexmark Indy 300, has had a massive boost with today’s announcement that it will feature a Queensland driver, Queensland team owners and Queensland sponsors. Queensland Premier Peter Beattie announced 26-year-old Gold Coast talent Marcus Marshall will drive in the 2005 Champ Car World Series for Team Australia, owned by Gold Coast businessmen Craig Gore and John Fish in association with the US-based motorsport identity Derrick Walker. “The Lexmark Indy 300 will benefit enormously from having a Queensland driver and team owners in the Champ Car World Series,” said Mr. Beattie. Story
Mario Andretti speaks Mario Andretti speaksUPDATE #3 Another reader chimes in, To the first reader, how dare anybody call Mario Andretti a traitor?  He has done nothing but support the Champ Car series. Even when his own son went to the IRL he continued to support the series.  He said nothing contrary to Champ Car. He was merely pointing out facts about why CART went bust.  He is the greatest driver of our time. Show some respect. Sam Mancuso, Miami, Florida  03/29/05 Another reader points out, I would never speak ill of Mario, because I have never heard him with a perspective that isn’t appropriate. His son and grandson, for better or worse, are at IRL races, so that is where Mario should go, as well. As I say, he is a man with perspective.   But the interesting thing about his comments were that the CART owners let their greed and egos get in the way of the sport. And where are those owners now? Well, Team Green morphed into Andretti/Green and joined former CART teams Ganassi, Penske, Fernandez, and Rahal by going to the IRL. In every case it was called “a business decision,” rather than a decision based on principle.  And they wonder why no one follows them. James C. Allen 03/29/05 A reader adds, It appears that traitor Mario has a revisionist view of things.  He states that the most damaging event was CART going public.  He then stated that because they went public, Tony George decided to build a better mousetrap.  I think Tony started the IRL before CART went public.  One of the reasons CART went public was to keep up with Tony George's spending. Terence Fischer, Northfield, New Jersey  Dear Terence, You are correct, they went public after the IRL was formed, but they never used any of the money to invest in the company.  Instead they kept it in the bank - over $100 million, which Chris Pook burnt through in one short year.  Amazing.. Mark C.

03/29/05 Mario Andretti makes a few good points about manufacturers and the state of open wheel racing in this St. Petersburg Times interview.

What will the battle between engine manufacturers Toyota and Honda do to racing?  It could be utopia. It could be problems. ... I think it all boils down to stability, continuity. The manufacturers can be very, very good for this sport in every possible way, as long as they commit long-term, but if they come and go, then what you see is the high and the low. You know what I see as the perfect example? Le Mans. When you had the manufacturers involved, you had hospitality and so much capital being spent. It makes it fly, but when one of them leaves officially, that spot, that infield is empty and creates such a big void. That's a problem. You can talk about it until the cows come home, but that's the dangers of the manufacturers. Then you have other manufacturers - Ford, Chevy, Dodge. Dodge, they go in and out, but Ford and Chevy, they have been here from Day 1, and without them (NASCAR) probably isn't where it is today.

Will Toyota and Honda eventually be in Nextel Cup?  I think it's probably inevitable unless (NASCAR) just says "no." They have as many manufacturing facilities as anyone in this country. They sell as many cars (in America) as automakers in this country. I don't know if it would be wise to keep them out.

How has NASCAR done things right as open-wheel racing has struggled?  NASCAR has maintained stability. Open wheel, with CART you had a group of owners that were totally taken in by greed and egos. The product was excellent, had diversified itself from any other discipline, but the political side is what killed it in so many ways. I think the most damaging part is when they went public with the organization, because then they started focusing on things that were not pertinent to the sport itself. There were business decisions made instead of sporting decisions and they cannot sustain that. And then because of that (Indy Racing League founder) Tony George on the other side decides "I am going to build a better mouse trap." You've got the split and the rest is history.

But hasn't NASCAR made several major decisions based on business?  But they are decisions that help the show, not just decisions that help the (fiscal) quarter. When you have a public company, the unfortunate thing about the public companies is you live quarter to quarter and sometimes you have to do stupid things to make the quarter look good, and some of the stupid things hurt the product, the ingredients for a long period of time. (In) NASCAR, the France family has kept the whole thing together and surrounded themselves with a good group of people and just taken it to the next level. They have taken advantage of everything. A lot of the fans that I run into, ran into on the plane, they say "I remember you from Milwaukee" or here or there, these are all fans that migrated to NASCAR because they were disgruntled.

Charlotte council approves incentives Charlotte council approves incentivesIn an effort to keep NASCAR's all-star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, the Charlotte [NC] City Council voted Monday night to set aside thousands of incentive dollars. NASCAR is considering moving the big race, which contributes more than $94 million a year to the regional economy. So last week, the president of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority asked the City Council to approve more than $62,000 in incentives. The state has already put up $250,000 in incentives. News Carolina 14
Champ Car sponsors take note Champ Car sponsors take noteThis is how Champ Car  B2B Partners/Sponsors should be doing it.  Vonage sponsors Marco Andretti.  This went out to every single Vonage Customer.......Click to see the Vonage Newsletter: (See bottom of page)
Testing at TMS Testing at TMSTexas Motor Speedway says Bill Elliott, Kasey Kahne, and Boris Said are scheduled to test their Nextel Cup entries there on Tuesday, and Rusty Wallace is expected on Wednesday. Busch Series drivers planning tests this week include Joe Nemechk, Martin Truex Jr., Paul Menard and Brandon Miller on Tuesday and Greg Biffle on Wednesday. The tests are not open to the public.
Formula BMW
Summerton returns to BMW series for 2 races Summerton returns to BMW series for 2 racesPoleVision Racing is proud to announce that Jonathan Summerton will join the team for the Formula 1 events at Montréal and Indianapolis.  The 16 year-old Summerton had a successful 2004 season in the Formula BMW USA.  He had a very promising start in Germany during his first tests last week in the Formula BMW ADAC championship (Team Rosberg), clocking the third fastest time, just .015 seconds away from the fastest driver.  Summerton will come to the USA to compete in the two events with the F1 in one of the PoleVision Formula BMW USA cars.  Team owner Benoît Morand said, “I’m very happy to work with Jonathan. He impressed me a lot last year with his results and to have him in our team for the most prestigious races of the season is just fantastic.”  PoleVision Racing USA will announce its other drivers soon.
Stewart planning double duty Stewart planning double dutyTony Stewart is planning double duty on Brickyard 400 weekend. He intends to enter the Kroger 200 NASCAR Busch Series race at Indianapolis Raceway Park on Aug. 6, the night before the Nextel Cup event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Stewart will drive a car owned by Kevin Harvick that will carry a special edition James Dean 50th anniversary paint scheme. The Columbus, Ind., native drove a Harvick-owned car to victory last month at Daytona. Indy Star
Champ Car fans choose Cleveland Champ Car fans choose ClevelandChamp Car fans have spoken and the temporary race course at Burke Lakefront Airport garnered 34 percent of the votes cast when fans were asked by www.champcar.ws as to their favorite temporary layout. Cleveland’s fan friendly atmosphere and very exciting first turn, edged the historic Long Beach venue which captured 27 percent of the votes.  International flavor was not lost by the Champ Car fans as the beachside layout in Surfer’s Paradise, Australia finished with 22 percent of the votes. The classic layout at Exhibition Place in Toronto earned 13 percent of the votes while newest course in the polls, Denver earned the remaining votes. [Editor's Note:  From where we sit, attendance says it all.  The fans vote with their pocketbook and they choose Australia and Long Beach over Cleveland.]
Actor Patrick Dempsey has caught the racing fever Actor Patrick Dempsey has caught the racing feverUPDATE It should be noted that Dempsey will race in the Toyota Pro Celebrity race this year in conjunction with the Grand Prix of Long Beach Champ Car race. 03/27/05 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and Hollywood fans know Patrick Dempsey from the 1980s movie "Can't Buy Me Love," his Emmy-nominated stint on the hit show "Will and Grace" as well as his performance in the blockbuster hit "Sweet Home Alabama" among many acting performances. In addition, Dempsey is starring in a new television show on ABC with 'Grey's Anatomy premiering at 10 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 27.

What many do not realize is that the actor has caught racing fever. While growing up, Dempsey learned to love racing by following the example of his father and watching the biggest racing events whenever they were televised. On rare occasions, he had the chance to attend the actual events that he and his father found so compelling. Launched into the acting world, his passion for racing was finally rekindled by his wife.

"She told me to get up off the couch and start doing some racing," Dempsey said. "So I started out at the Skip Barber three-day competition as a result of a Christmas present. That opened the gates because I found the experience to be so much fun and as a result, something I wanted to pursue."

Dempsey was at the right place at the right time when he traveled to Atlanta for a charity event. Among the distinguished guests were Don Panoz, founder of the ALMS, and his son Dan, President of Panoz Auto Development. Dempsey soon found himself getting the "Panoz Experience" by touring the many Panoz organizations just north of Atlanta. This led to his purchase of a Panoz Esperante and entry in the Panoz Racing School.

"That whole experience really launched me onto the fast track of doing some racing," Dempsey commented. "I started getting hard core into racing last year and decided that I wanted to continue it as a serious hobby. It's a great way to relax and just sort of detox from the Hollywood scene. The comradery and the people that I have met especially around the American Le Mans Series have made racing even more satisfying."

Despite his strong racing interests, Dempsey has not strayed away from his first love of acting and has high expectations for his new ABC show. "It's about people working in a hospital for the first time and having to experience the pressures of life and death literally while finding themselves as individuals," Dempsey said. "I play Derek Shepherd, the attending surgeon who has just come out of his own private practice to study under his mentor. We find out that my character is also having an affair with one of his interns, which is just a little more added drama. We have a great lead-in right after "Desperate Housewives." I hope it turns out to be huge so I can go racing more."

The actor is making plans for a motion picture based on the ALMS. He is currently in the process of finalizing a script about a journeyman racer overcoming the politics of racing, the aspects of preparing the car properly, the realities of having teammates and the added drama of a long distance marriage.

 "We are working on a script based in and around the American Le Mans Series and we are really close to finishing it," Dempsey said. "I am trying to give it a well-rounded feel as well as portraying the racing world as accurately as possible. It is going to be a nice mixture of both. What we are trying to go for here is all of the great things that "Le Mans" was about when Steve McQueen made that movie. In our talks with Danny Panoz, we are going to use the Panoz Esperante as the feature car in the movie. It's our goal to please the racers, the fans and have myself as an actor challenged as well. It's also a great excuse to go racing."

Dempsey has found out that you don't have to look far in order to find an excuse to go racing. His experiences with the Panoz family and the ALMS have certainly sparked the desire to continue. Who knows, the actor may end up on the track with the drivers of the ALMS, competing in the world-class sports car racing series.

"I would like to race and be competitive," said Dempsey. "I think that if I can do that then I will be satisfied. You know it's an addiction, certainly. Once you start, you have to get that fix which is to go racing. I would like to keep going and be part of a team and develop my skills as a race driver. I have tremendous respect for what these drivers are doing and I want to earn my way."

Toyota Bahrain preview Toyota Bahrain previewPanasonic Toyota Racing is understandably still jubilant following its tremendous 12-point haul at the Malaysian Grand Prix, which saw the team take to the podium for the first time in its short history. The team now turns its attention to the third round of the season in Bahrain, where it hopes to consolidate its position at the dizzy heights of second in the constructors' championship.

Fresh from firmly planting Toyota on the second step of the Sepang podium and a two-day test in Paul Ricard last week, Jarno Trulli is hoping that the TF105 performs as competitively around the Bahrain International Circuit. Jarno currently occupies equal third place in the drivers' championship, courtesy of his well-earned eight points in Malaysia.

Jarno Trulli (Car 16): "Following the tremendous success we achieved in Malaysia two weeks ago, we head to Bahrain with considerably raised expectations. It is hard to know whether we will be able to replicate our competitiveness from Sepang in Bahrain, but we will certainly try our best. Bahrain as a venue is incredible - the facilities are state-of-the-art, much like Malaysia and China. The circuit itself is quite nice, but is tough on the brakes. I had a good result in last year's debut Bahrain GP, finishing fourth, and our TF105 performed so well in Malaysia, I can't help but to be excited about this weekend's race. I lie third in the drivers' championship and Toyota is second in the constructors', so let's see if we can consolidate these positions with some more points."

Ralf Schumacher was left bittersweet after Malaysia. On the one hand he was encouraged by the performance of the car, but on the other he was prevented from joining his Italian team-mate on the podium after an eventful race. Ralf's fine fifth placed drive in Sepang put four points into his account and propelled him to joint eighth in the drivers' standings.

Ralf Schumacher (Car 17): "I flew back to Europe after Australia to conduct a short test at Jerez working especially towards the Bahrain Grand Prix. We found a good set-up and some competitive Michelin tires for the weekend. This combined with the speed and performance of the TF105s in Malaysia at the last race leaves me encouraged for Bahrain. It was fantastic to see a Toyota on the podium in Malaysia after an excellent weekend for the whole team. I was also pleased with my fifth place considering all the dramas I encountered over the weekend. In fact, such was the speed of the TF105 that without my problems, I would have had the pace to join Jarno on the podium. Of course it is natural that we have our sights set a bit higher after such a result and I think the car could be well suited to the Bahrain International Circuit. As a minimum, I think we should be looking to add more points in Sakhir this weekend to our already impressive tally of twelve."

Being based with a unique desert backdrop, sand is a frequent intruder onto the Bahrain circuit over race weekend, which poses an entirely new obstacle for teams to overcome.

Mike Gascoyne - Technical Director Chassis: "The most noticeable thing about the Bahrain International Circuit is its geographical location, being located firmly in the midst of the desert. That fact alone adds a unique element to the race weekend, as sand is regularly blown on to the race track. Recalling last year's event, we experienced a rather sizeable sandstorm early on Sunday morning, which made the track extremely dusty for the race. We were able to confound our doubters with a highly competitive performance in Malaysia to score Toyota's first podium position. We have to look to try and enjoy a similar level of competitiveness in Bahrain this week and get at least both Ralf and Jarno in the points and secure our second place in the constructors' championship."

Revisions from Cosworth with the TJ2005 Revisions from Cosworth with the TJ2005The Sakhir circuit, outside Bahrain’s capital city of Manama, hosts its second ever Formula 1 Grand Prix this weekend. Last year, Bahrain became the twenty fourth country to host a GP.

The circuit is one of the most modern on the calendar, its architecture reflecting Arabian themes. Located in the desert, dealing with the sand surrounding the track is one of the main priorities for drivers and engineers. Only those with very long memories can recall coming up against this problem, when the F1 circus visited the coastal track of Zandvoort for the Dutch Grand Prix.

Red Bull Racing head to Bahrain in third position in the Constructors' Championship, one points ahead of Ferrari and one point behind Toyota. David Coulthard is fifth in the championship with eight points with Klein tenth with three points.

David Coulthard “My impressions of the track are that it is challenging due to several heavy braking corners which can gain or lose you a lot of time. The surface is high wear so tire choice will be especially difficult as you juggle one lap performance over making them last for the whole race. It is very dusty off line and last year we experienced a short sand storm which made things tricky before the GP. I did not really have the chance to look around Bahrain itself but the welcome we got from the moment we reached Customs at the airport through to leaving on Sunday night was excellent and generally every one was impressed with the facilities.”
Christian Klien "I like the track very much and last year, I adapted to it quite quickly. The track is surrounded by open spaces, so you miss the usual points of reference, for example when it comes to learning the braking points. Last year, there wasn't very much grip on the new track surface. Your driving has to be neat and tidy, as you only have grip on the ideal line and this makes it difficult to overtake, even if there are several points where passing is a possibility and you need a car with good balance. Last year, on the way to the race track we got caught in a sand storm, with visibility down to about 20 meters, which meant it was like driving into fog on an Austrian motorway! I look forward to racing in Bahrain as I think the track suits me quite well."

Christian Horner, Sporting Director “In Bahrain we will be aiming to continue our good form from Australia and Malaysia and our target is to complete a hat-trick of points scoring races. Malaysia proved the Australian result was no fluke and we demonstrated that our results have been obtained on merit. As we return to Europe, after this opening trio of races, we will be embarking on a testing and development program to keep the momentum going over the next few races.”

Günther Steiner, Technical Director “Not surprisingly for a desert track, sand is the main story and you have to be aware that it can get in to every part of the car. It literally sandblasts the car every time it goes on track and gradually erodes all the surfaces and the cooling fins on the radiators. I gather there are some modifications to the track for this year, aimed at minimizing the problem."

"The main challenge is to ensure you do not get fine sand into the engine and so we pay particular attention to the way the air is filtered before getting into the engine. It’s especially important this year, given that the same engines have to last to the end of the following race. The sand also affects the track surface, which means that choosing the right tire is a more difficult task and you have to be patient and wait for the track to be at its cleanest and least windy before making that decision. Last week we carried out a two day engine test program, but this was aimed more at a future engine up-dates, rather than anything specific for Bahrain.” Red Bull Racing

Schumacher ready for Bahrain challenge Schumacher ready for Bahrain challengeLast week was highly informative for Michael Schumacher as he conducted his first tests with the F2005 on Wednesday and then extensive tire-tests that were scheduled at short notice on Saturday provided the World Champion with plenty of valuable information ahead of the Bahrain event this coming weekend.

"We were highly focused on our work all week and were able to collect lots of important data," Schumacher said. "Therefore, we now have some very good and very up-to-date information that we can carefully analyze." (Schumacher, right, testing F2005 at Mugello last week)

"The most important thing we needed to find out was of course if our new car would be ready to be used for the race this next weekend. It goes without saying that I'm excited and very much looking forward to this premiere."
The start of this year's season not having been very fruitful so far but there is no reason for the World Champion to show too many nerves. "After having been in Formula One for so many years, I know that every season has its ups and downs," Schumacher continued. "This season will be the longest we've ever had so anything can happen. We're experiencing right now that things can change at the drop of a hat - and also that hard work results in progress. So we are going to continue to focus on the work that we need to do."

Schumacher and Ferrari dominated in Bahrain last year crossing the line with Rubens Barrichello running line astern and their nearest challenger - Jenson Button - nearly half a minute behind.

"After having been there for the first time last year, we all know what to expect at that circuit," Schumacher continued. "It will most likely not be an easy race for us, but then again, most races aren't easy. I'm happy to take on the challenge." Ferrari

IRL Teams Use Sebring Test As Final Dress Rehearsal IRL Teams Use Sebring Test As Final Dress RehearsalSeveral IndyCar Series and Menards Infiniti Pro Series teams are testing this week at Sebring International Raceway prior to the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Among the IndyCar Series teams testing at Sebring on March 29: Andretti Green Racing (Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon, Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta), Rahal Letterman Racing (Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice), Delphi Fernandez Racing (Scott Sharp), Super Aguri Fernandez Racing (Kosuke Matsuura), Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (Roger Yasukawa and Jeff Bucknum), Panther Racing (Tomas Scheckter and Tomas Enge) and Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Ryan Briscoe).

Four days after participating in an Open Test on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, three Menards Infiniti Pro Series teams tested privately March 28 on the road course at Sebring. Sam Schmidt Motorsports drivers Jaime Camara, Chris Festa and Travis Gregg tested along with Marco Andretti of Andretti Green Racing and Marty Roth of Roth Racing.

Good Charlotte To Perform Following Grand Prix Good Charlotte To Perform Following Grand PrixThe Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and XM Satellite Radio are joining together to present a concert by rock act Good Charlotte as part of the post-race activities April 3.

The concert will begin 30 minutes after the inaugural winner is greeted in Victory Lane and will be held on the front straightaway near the start/finish line.

The quartet hails from Waldorf, Md. Formed in 1996, the band features vocalist Joel Madden, guitarist Benji Madden, guitarist Billy Martin and bassist Paul Martin. After making a name for themselves in and around the Washington, D.C., area, Good Charlotte issued their self-titled debut on Epic in 2000.

Soon after, the Madden brothers scored a gig as MTV VJs and soon were all over the network's late night rock show "All Things Rock." By the fall of 2002, Good Charlotte released the album "The Young & the Hopeless."

The singles "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" and "Anthem" became hits in 2003, and their 2004 album "The Chronicles of Life and Death" continued their success.

Wynonna To Sing Anthem in St. Petersburg Wynonna To Sing Anthem in St. PetersburgCountry music superstar Wynonna Judd will perform the national anthem as part of pre-race ceremonies at the inaugural Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 3.

Celebrating her 21st year in the entertainment industry, Judd first came into prominence as part of the mother-daughter duo, The Judds, in 1984 and has been critically lauded. She signed her first solo record deal in 1992, and her first album became the highest-selling debut album by a female artist at the time.

She followed with the multi-platinum disc "Tell Me Why," as well as with the platinum-certified "Revelations." Her greatest hits compilation was released in 1997, the year that also found her gold record "The Other Side" flying from the shelves. With the release in 2000 of "New Day Dawning," she was both producer and director.

Judd released her sixth solo studio album "What the World Needs Now Is Love" on Curb Records in 2003. Judd is the sister-in-law of IndyCar Series driver Dario Franchitti.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Tire 'secrets' to Toyota?
'Renault can do hat-trick'
Bernie's still in charge
Montoya may miss Bahrain GP
Mrs. Ralf to race in Bahrain
Toyota future secure, for now
Bernie robbed
Ferrari fiasco not all bad
Red Bull form 'no fluke'
Webber's cracked rib
Ferrari to cancel F1 run
Winning to save Renault
Sato's back in F1 saddle
Pizzonia in wall
F2005 'amazing' - Barrichello
Klien made to wait
Stop changing Quali - Schu
No engine deal yet - Sauber
Schu defends Schu
Panoz gets two invites for LeMans Panoz gets two invites for LeMansFollowing an encouraging display of class-leading speed at last weekend's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Panoz Motor Sports (PMS) today received the great news it was hoping for from the esteemed organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans: France's Automobile Club de L'Ouest (ACO). The ACO have invited both Panoz Esperante Factory Team GT2 Le Mans entries to participate in the 73rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans June 18-19.

In a statement released today, Panoz Motor Sports Team General Manager Ed Triolo stated, "We are truly gratified and honored by the faith the ACO have placed in Panoz Motor Sports to help provide the world's sports car racing fans with a great competitive showing in June. Panoz Motor Sports has thousands upon thousands of devoted fans not only here in the USA where the Esperante sports car is made but also in France, the UK and around the world. Frankly, being invited to take on Porsche at Le Mans is just an awesome thrill for us and we thank the ACO for providing us the opportunity for that somewhat daunting challenge!"

At Sebring last weekend, the #51 Panoz driving team of Bill Auberlen, Robin Liddell and Emanuele Naspetti matched the pole- winning Porsche's pace in qualifying, lapping the famous Sebring International Raceway just 7/100ths of a mile per hour behind the Petersen Motorsports / White Lightning Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Unfortunately the Panoz retired when electrical problems struck on lap 121. While their teammates, Scott Maxwell, Bryan Sellers and Gunnar Jeannette suffered an overheated differential; the Panoz Motor Sports Team repaired the problem, allowing the #51 Panoz to notch the fourth fastest GT2 lap of the race.

Panoz Motor Sports competes in the IMSA-sanctioned American Le Mans Series of endurance sports car races. The events range from 2 hour and 45 minutes in length to 12 hours duration. After Sebring, the series moves to the Panoz Esperante Factory Team's home track Road Atlanta for the Sportsbook.com Grand prix of Atlanta, April 17 (broadcast live on CBS Sports)

Pirelli, Multimatic and Diablo Grande Award Winning Wines sponsor Panoz Motor Sports. Panoz

Interviews from Sebring Interviews from SebringThe South Florida Motorsports website has some video interviews posted from last week's Champ Car test at Sebring.  One with Paul Gentilozzi and one with Robin Miller.
Changes IRL mechaincs make for St. Pete Changes IRL mechaincs make for St. PeteA new challenge for teams is converting cars from the oval package to the road course package used. Some teams chose to test at Sebring International Raceway, which shortened the timeline for converting the cars. Among the items that need to be changed are the brakes, suspension and powertrain.

Suspension changes are needed because of increased braking and acceleration loads. Suspension uprights also have changed to accommodate larger brake calipers. Because of the larger brake calipers, the brakes have changed to increase cooling to the brakes

The road-course powertrain utilizes a limited-slip differential, which will help power the rear wheels while turning, and a faster steering rack, with more teeth on the pinion, to provide more steering input for the drivers.

Buddy Lindblom, team manager for Panther Racing, said the changes to the car did not affect the amount of work his team had to accomplish before the event.

"Getting ready for the road courses was pretty much the same for us. For our own purposes, crashing (at Phoenix) caused us more of a problem than setting up the cars for Sebring and St. Pete. We also got some parts that we didn't receive until the last minute that put us behind."

Engineering a car for a street circuit Engineering a car for a street circuitChris Finch has served on the engineering staff of Fernandez Racing since Adrian Fernandez started the team in 2001. Since then, he helped Adrian Fernandez to four Indy-style victories, including three IndyCar Series wins in 2004. Finch and John Ward are currently race engineers for Scott Sharp's No. 8 Delphi Honda-powered Panoz.

"On a street circuit, you tend to not have the level of grip - at least initially - that you would have on a road course because it is a temporary circuit. You need to think of ways to pick up grip essentially, especially on Day One. The tires that you end up with are softer than a road course tire and that helps. At the same time, it is not the answer to all of your problems. Street circuits tend to be rougher and tend to have higher curbing so you have to be well-balanced over those so the driver can have stability over bumps and still be able to pick up grip while the car is going over all the undulations and bumps and curbs. 

"St. Pete has a couple of pretty fast, sweeping corners - especially Turn 3 - that were an issue in the past. It was very hard to balance the car under acceleration and yet maintain full throttle. IndyCar Series cars may be slightly different, but I know with the Champ Car it was very difficult. The fast guys that had really good cars were able to do that consistently. There is a tight section, very similar to Long Beach, where it is all second gear corners, and it will be important to have good mechanical grip with the car. In the back section of the course, there is a very high-speed chicane leading into a very hard right-hand second-gear corner, and it could be difficult to balance the car through that section.

"We have had limited road course testing with these cars although we are going to Sebring (International Raceway) on Tuesday, which will help us a lot. We will be trying to find a good, mechanical balance for the race car for St. Pete. We have been there before in 2003, so we understand the nuances of the track. We had a pretty good street course setup with the Lola at the end of 2003 with Adrián (Fernández). In the end, it is taking that kind of knowledge and applying it to the Panoz to make a good, well-balanced car.

Manning talks about St. Petersburg lap Manning talks about St. Petersburg lapTarget Chip Ganassi Racing's Darren Manning is one of two current IndyCar Series drivers with experience on the St. Petersburg Street Circuit. Manning competed on the temporary street circuit when he drove for Walker Racing in the Champ Car World Series in 2003. Manning is an accomplished road racer, winning the prestigious Macau Grand Prix in 1999 and serving as a test driver for the BAR-Honda Formula One team.

"You're at top speed coming down the front stretch, which is really a bumpy airport runway, going into the right-hander at Turn 1. The turn is slow, but really wide open, so there are lots of chances for overtaking. Turns 2 and 3 also are a nice little passing section where you're really going to have to try to get absolutely flat out because they're pretty fast corners.

"Between Turns 3 and 4, the back straight is a little bumpy because this is where you're back onto the real street circuit, so you have a crest in the road and things. Turns 4-6 are all through a car park (parking lot). The area has been widened but is all a twisty complex. You're braking on a diagonal through (Turns) 6 and 7 for the double-right at (Turns) 8 and 9. There is a short chute between 8 and 9, where you can overtake, before the second right angle in a row. (Turn) 9 is really tricky on the exit. It's off-camber because you're still on the road, and you're crossing over the main road that is really off-camber because of the drainage and things.

"At turns 9-10, you're flat out down the kink in the back straight, which will be easy flat in these cars, and into a tightened-up Turn 10 to make it easier to overtake and safer. That takes you to turns 11-12, where you try to get absolutely flat going through here -- they're the fastest corners on the track - before getting to a big loop at turns 13-14. That section is long, tight, and slippery and gets you back on to the front straightaway."

Vasser and Hunter-Reay help raise money Vasser and Hunter-Reay help raise moneyHundreds of thousands of fans, young and old, have come to the Milwaukee Mile over the years to support the stars of the Champ Car World Series, and last weekend Champ Car luminaries Jimmy Vasser and Ryan Hunter-Reay took the time to give something back.

Vasser and Hunter-Reay took part in the Winner’s Circle Celebration for Variety®, The Children’s Charity of Wisconsin charity gala held at the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee last Saturday night as part of a fund-raiser for the organization. The Champ Car stars were part of a racing contingent that featured racers from various series that compete at the Milwaukee Mile including drivers from ARCA and USAC Sprint Cars.

The evening featured a racing-themed auction to raise money for the children’s charity, with items donated from a number of Champ Car teams, including autographed memorabilia from A.J. Allmendinger and the RuSPORT team. One of the highlights of the evening saw Vasser and Hunter-Reay auction off the chance for a lucky bidder to be a ‘Crew Member for a Day’ during this year’s Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford event at the Mile June 2-4.

Both drivers saw their team spots attract final bids of nearly $1,000 each, contributing to an evening that raised over $30,000 to help the children and families that Variety® assists. The mission statement of Variety®, The Children’s Charity of Wisconsin is to “provide life-saving and life-enriching assistance to children challenged by physical and mental disabilities, poverty, abuse and neglect.”

Racing Fan magazine caters to NASCAR Racing Fan magazine caters to NASCARTime Inc. subsidiary Time4 Media’s NASCAR enthusiast magazine, Racing Fan, hits retail today for $3.99, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the cover.  The WALL STREET JOURNAL reported that Time wants to sell 250,000 copies of the inaugural issue, and “another 250,000 of next month’s issue, which could have Jimmie Johnson on the cover. If it hits those goals, Time plans an official launch of 500,000 a month.”  The N.Y. DAILY NEWS noted that more than 20,000 copies of Racing Fan “have already been reserved by visitors to NASCAR.com.” Time4 Media will decide on the magazine’s future after the second issue’s release in May. Racing Fan Publisher James Else: “We would like to go monthly” N.Y. DAILY NEWS
McDonald's Announces Partnership Agreement With Evernham McDonald's Announces Partnership Agreement With EvernhamMcDonald's announced today the company has entered into a partnership agreement with Evernham Motorsports in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. The agreement calls for McDonald's to be an associate sponsor on the No. 9 Evernham Motorsports Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger driven by 2004 Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year Kasey Kahne and the No. 91 Evernham Motorsports Dodge Charger that will be driven by NASCAR champion Bill Elliott at selected Nextel Cup events.
The agreement includes a two-race McDonald's primary sponsorship on Elliott's car. The Bill Elliott Racing entry will carry the McDonald's paint scheme at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (June 19 ) and California Speedway in Fontana (Sept. 5).
"McDonald's is thrilled to partner with Evernham Motorsports, which is one of the premier teams in the popular Nextel cup Series," said John Lewicki, McDonald's senior director of alliance marketing. "Being aligned with a quality owner in Ray Evernham along with a legend in Bill Elliott and an young star in Kasey Kahne, will only enhance the McDonald's brand with NASCAR’s loyal fan following. This is a great fit since McDonald's, Evernham Motorsports and Bill Elliott Racing parallel each other as leaders of their respective industries."
Evernham, who carved his legendary status as one of the most successful crew chiefs in NASCAR history before becoming an owner of the high-profile Dodge team, was equally proud of the new association. "McDonald’s is one of the best known brands in the world and it’s an honor to have them join our team,” said Evernham, president and CEO of Evernham Motorsports. “McDonald's global reach and innovative marketing programs will provide a whole new level of awareness for our team.”
Kahne, 24, said that he welcomes the new partnership and is looking forward to being affiliated with McDonald's.
"I’ve always been a big fan of McDonald’s, so it’s perfect that they’re now a sponsor with Evernham Motorsports,” said Kahne, who posted five runner-up finishes in 2004 along with 13 top fives, 14 top 10s and four poles. “I grew up on Happy Meals and Value Meals and also enjoy the McDonald's salads. Anytime you can be associated with one of the most recognized companies in the world you just sit back and say, 'I'm lovin' it.'
Andretti, Luyendyk and Unser continue family legacies Andretti, Luyendyk and Unser continue family legaciesMarco Andretti, Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Al Unser continue the racing legacy of their families competing in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. Andretti, 18, is the son of IndyCar Series team owner Michael Andretti, and the grandson of Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti (1969). Andretti will make his Menards Infiniti Pro Series debut in St. Petersburg. Luyendyk, 23, has made 32 career starts in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series and was the series runner-up in 2002. He is the son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk (1990, 1997). Unser, 22, is in his second season of competition in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. He is the son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. (1992, 1994), and the grandson of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser (1970, 1971, 1978, 1987). Unser's great uncle, Bobby, also won the Indianapolis 500 three times (1968, 1975, 1981). The three families have not been represented at the same race since the 2002 Indianapolis 500 when Michael Andretti, Arie Luyendyk and Al Unser Jr. competed against each other. A.J. Foyt IV, grandson of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, won the Menards Infiniti Pro Series championship in 2002 and now races full time in the IndyCar Series. [Editor's Note:  These cars are so slow on a road course what's the point?  Americans like Scott Speed have to go through the European open wheel system to get to F1 because many open wheel "training" series in the USA are useless.  By far the best open wheel training series in the USA is the Toyota Atlantic series, and even that can be better. Americans are too worried about the "show" to develop real driving talent.] 
Gordon takes car to the Wind Tunnel Gordon takes car to the Wind TunnelRobby Gordon Motorsports spent Tuesday night at the AeroDyn Wind Tunnel in Mooresville, NC.  Robby Gordon Quote: “We have had a great week in the shop. The Easter weekend couldn’t have come at a better time for us since we have been able to take full advantage of the extra time in the engine shop as well as in the wind tunnel,” said Gordon. “We sent our Texas car to the wind tunnel Thursday night and learned a lot about that program, and the engine shop has been able to get some extra time on the dyno as well. We’ll take what we learned in the wind tunnel and what we have learned in the engine shop to a test at Texas on Tuesday where we’ll run a race simulation to validate what we think we already know. The engine problems that we have experienced are definitely heat related, and a lot of time has been spent in the last few days tracing the source of the issue. The test at Texas will let us know whether or not we’ve hit on the right solution. There is no shortage of work taking place on all aspects of our program, and I’ve been saying all along that we’ll be just fine, and from what I’ve seen of the progress made this week I’m optimistic. Robby Gordon site
Toyota Atlantic series announces SPEED Channel lineup Toyota Atlantic series announces SPEED Channel lineupSPEED Channel will once again broadcast all 12 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama events this season, beginning with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will be run April 8-10 on the streets of Long Beach. Toyota Atlantic officials today unveiled the full 2005 broadcast schedule.

Atlantics returns to SPEED Channel for the third consecutive season as North America’s premier open-wheel development series continues to be showcased on television’s top motorsports network. Mullin Production Group, based in Los Angeles and operated under the direction of John Mullin, also returns to the Atlantic broadcast team in 2005. This marks the 12th consecutive season that the Mullin Production Group will produce Toyota Atlantic race broadcasts.

“We’re very proud of the Toyota Atlantic broadcast lineup for 2005,” said Vicki O’Connor, Managing Director of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. “With all 12 of our races aired on SPEED Channel, our drivers, teams and sponsors will experience tremendous exposure and race fans know the place to find the most comprehensive coverage of the Atlantic Championship is on SPEED. With the Mullin Group returning to provide high-quality production of our race broadcasts, we know the series will once again have one of the top television packages in all of motorsports.”

All 12 of this season’s Toyota Atlantic events will be aired on Saturdays on SPEED Channel. Typically, each event will be broadcast on tape-delay on the Saturday following the given race weekend. With a pair of doubleheader race weekends scheduled on the Atlantic calendar, SPEED will take that opportunity to air both races back-to-back, essentially creating a two-hour block of Atlantic action on separate summer Saturday afternoons (June 25 and July 9). Additional highlights on this season’s Atlantic SPEED schedule include the season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, slated to air April 16 at 2 p.m. ET. The 2005 season finale at Montreal will feature a prime-time Saturday evening broadcast beginning at 9 p.m. ET on September 3. Toyota Atlantic Championship race re-broadcasts will also air on SPEED this season. The full 2005 Toyota Atlantic/SPEED Channel broadcast schedule is detailed below.

“SPEED Channel and the Mullin Production Group have done a tremendous job of bringing the exciting action and personalities of the Toyota Atlantic Championship to racing fans over the years,” said Les Unger, Toyota national motorsports manager. “We’re happy to be back with these trusted broadcast partners and we’re looking forward to once again seeing some great Toyota Atlantic racing on SPEED in 2005.”

Experienced series television announcers Greg Creamer, Jon Beekhuis, Rick DeBruhl and 1990 Toyota Atlantic – Atlantic Division champion Brian Till will lead the SPEED Channel broadcast team this season.

“The hallmark of SPEED Channel has always been its commitment to the best motorsports coverage on television," said Rick Miner, SPEED Channel's Sr. VP Programming/Production and Executive Producer. “Having the competitive Toyota Atlantic Championship series back on SPEED in 2005 continues that tradition, as undoubtedly some of the most exciting open-wheel racing stars of tomorrow will come directly from this series."

In addition to the outstanding season-long coverage on SPEED Channel, all 2005 Atlantic events will also be aired once again on the American Forces Radio & Television Service (AFRTS).  Through the ongoing relationship with AFRTS, Atlantic races will be seen by U.S. service men and women in 77 countries throughout the world.

The Bristol Buschwacker List Grows The Bristol Buschwacker List GrowsThe field of drivers who will try to qualify for the April 2 Busch Series Sharpie Professional 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway has a distinctive NASCAR NEXTEL Cup flair as a total of 11 of the series’ pilots will do double duty on race weekend. Among the Cup drivers who will be working on Saturday and Sunday is Carl Edwards, who just came off his first Cup win last weekend at Atlanta. The back-flip loving Edwards already has found success at the half-mile oval, having captured the checkered flag in last August’s Craftsman Truck Series race, the O’Reilly 200. Edwards’ only Cup start at BMS came last August, where he finished 33rd. Not surprisingly, seven of the other 10 Cup drivers who will compete in the Sharpie Professional 250 have recorded wins in NASCAR Busch Series action at Bristol. Kevin Harvick, whose last Bristol Busch win came in the spring of 2003, has three wins. Matt Kenseth and Michael Waltrip have two wins apiece while Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett, Sterling Marlin and Jeff Green each have one win. Neither Greg Biffle, Jeremy Mayfield nor Joe Nemechek have found their way to Bristol’s Victory Lane yet. The number of NEXTEL Cup drivers competing in the Sharpie Professional 250 is no surprise to Marlin. “It’s a good place to race a couple of times in a weekend,” he said. “It’s always a fun race, plenty of excitement and Bristol always gets a really big crowd in here for that race. The fans get to see really some beating and banging and a lot of action. It’ s a good one to watch and it’s not too hard on you to come back after that one and race 500 laps the next day.” Other former winners entered include David Green, Steve Grissom, Jason Keller, Jeff Fuller, Kenny Wallace and Martin Truex, Jr. Those going after their first Bristol wins include Shane Hmiel, Randy LaJoie, Justin Labonte and Michel Jourdain, Jr.Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol ticket demand remains high Bristol ticket demand remains highWhile exponential growth has led NASCAR far from its roots, Bristol Motor Speedway remains a solid part of the Nextel Cup schedule, the track’s president said.  With 450,000 people, the Tri-Cities ranks among the smaller markets in which NASCAR’s top division competes. But the Bristol track annually sells out all 160,000 tickets to both of its Nextel Cup races months in advance. And late last year, nearly 100 percent of the track’s season ticket-holders renewed their seats for both races.  Those fans come here each year from all 50 states and about a dozen countries.  In a series of national polls, Bristol’s August night race ranked ahead of the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis as the overwhelming fan favorite. TriCities
"Andretti" name no burden for Marco "Andretti" name no burden for MarcoThis PennLive article talks about the move of Marco Andretti up to professional motorsports with his entry in this weekend's IPS race in St. Petersburg, FL.  Carrying the pressure that comes with bearing the Andretti name, Marco is handling it with flying colors. 
Ticket sales up in Bahrain Ticket sales up in BahrainAs the preparations continue apace and teams start arriving for the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, Bahrain International Circuit officials have confirmed that there has been a huge increase in demand for tickets as the race weekend approaches.

The recent increase in interest for race tickets has been heightened by the result of the races in Australia and Malaysia. “It’s a long time since Michael Schumacher and the Ferrari team haven’t figured in the opening races of the season,” said Circuit General manager Martin Whitaker.

“The combination of the Renault victories and the new regulations have made this one of the most captivating starts to a season for many years and we are feeling the impact here in Bahrain as the race approaches with a huge increase in demand,” he went on to say.

The World’s best Grand Prix circuit in Bahrain will host the third leg of the 2005 FIA Formula One World Championship on April 1, 2 and 3 and already a number of the Grandstands are filling to capacity. Indeed the popular Victory Grandstand has only a few seats for sale.

“We have witnessed an increase in ticket sales as the weekend is inching closer and closer,” said Business Development Manager, Rayan Kazerooni. “Much of this is attributable to the start of the GP season, the close racing that we have seen in the opening races and the fact that Ferrari is due to run its new car for the first time here in Bahrain.”
The Victory Grandstand tickets were priced at BD57 for the three day event and BD37 for the Sunday. Kazerooni added, “the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix is a new concept and event in the region. In order to promote the event, tickets were priced to meet everyone’s budget.” He stressed that ticket sales are higher than in 2004. Last year over 34,000 spectators from all over the world attended the first Middle East Grand Prix.

“Tickets for the Oasis Complex were sold out two weeks ago followed by the Arabian Experience package,” said Kazerooni.

“The response is overwhelming. We have always stressed that we expect ticket sales to increase during the final two weeks before the race,” he added. Tickets are still available for the Main Grandstand, Turn 1 Grandstand and the University Grandstand.

This year’s event promises to cater for the needs of a wide spectrum of spectators. Three supporting races are included in the scheduler including a Charity Race with Mini Coopers with Ralf Schumacher’s wife Cora as one of the entrants, Porsche Michelin SuperCup and Formula BMW Asia.

The vending area will be transformed into a colorful carnival with laser shows, Formula One driver autograph sessions, many more food outlets, children’s play areas, music and the heritage tent. BIC

Lots of changes for Williams BMW Lots of changes for Williams BMWThe new F1 regulations for the 2005 season regarding engines and tires, and the restrictions to the aerodynamics have caused the teams to scramble well into the season. “On the aero side, obviously, the downforce levels have changed, but everyone is working very hard to get them back to where they were last year,” BMW Williams Technical Director Sam Michael told the team's official website. “That's why I think we'll see a lot of developments in the first three or four races."

BMW Motorsport boss Mario Theissen also revealed that he and his team were able to simulate the conditions experienced at Sepang on the dyno. “This is possible on the engine test bench,” said Theissen, “We can adapt oil and water temperatures to extreme conditions. We determine basic temperatures such as the maximum figures for oil and water. And these are the conditions we consistently use for endurance testing on the test bench."

Renault team previews Bahrain GP Renault team previews Bahrain GPRenault have had a dream start to its 2005 campaign with first Giancarlo Fisichella taking the checkered flag first and then two- weeks later Fernando Alonso repeating the feat to lift the French manufacturer firmly to the top the constructors' championship and himself to the top of the drivers' championship. Looking to round three of the championship in Bahrain, Renault look to make it three wins from three races. More....
Bernie picks Renault to win Bernie picks Renault to winBernie Ecclestone has picked Renault to beat Ferrari for the world championship this year. "Judging from the first signs I cannot see any reason why Renault shouldn't do it," he told The Sunday Mirror. "I hope Renault are ready to beat Ferrari and take the title from Michael Schumacher. We haven't seen the full picture yet but the results point to an end to the Ferrari era.

"Ferrari was only so dominant in the past, because the other teams worked so badly - unbelievably badly. Fortunately Renault and Mercedes seem to have really caught up. It would be marvelous if they could give Ferrari a hard time now. It would be simply super if Fisichella could beat Michael to the title. An Italian beating Ferrari!"

Webber has been driving with broken rib Webber has been driving with broken ribFor anyone who doesn't think road racing is one of the most physically demanding forms of motorsports, think again. Mark Webber has told Australasian Motorsport News's website mnews.com.au that he raced in both Melbourne and Malaysia nursing a fractured rib. The injury originally occurred during testing in Barcelona prior to the season opener. The rib was slightly better in Malaysia but Webber stepped back from this week's testing in order be ready for next week's Bahrain Grand Prix. Webber says that the injury was due to an ill-fitting seat and the high G-force corners at Barcelona, damaged rib cartilage as well as fracturing the rib.
A bad week for Bernie got worse A bad week for Bernie got worseBernie Ecclestone, the man who presides over Formula One motor racing, was yesterday reviewing video footage of the lightning fast removal of a set of high-performance car wheels. Unfortunately, he was not watching coverage of a pit-stop in one of the races that have made him a billionaire, but CCTV footage of a thief stealing the wheels from his new car outside his home. He had only taken delivery of the Mercedes CLS55 AMG V8 the previous day, immediately after its British launch. He woke at the weekend to find that the £70,000 sports car had been jacked up in his street in Chelsea and two of the wheels, each worth £500, stolen.

How the wheels were removed without attracting attention is less clear. Mercedes-Benz said the car's alarm would have been activated, but Mr. Ecclestone said he heard nothing before his security guard knocked on his door at 8.30am on Saturday. The wheels had been taken at 4.45am. Rob Halloway, a spokesman for Mercedes-Benz, said: "All our wheels have locking wheel bolts so you would either need the key or some kind of thief's tool. The car's alarm has motion sensors, which would sound if it was being jacked up. It sounds for 30 seconds and then resets."

It had been a bad week for Mr. Ecclestone. He had already lost a legal battle with three banks who challenged his overall control of Formula One, which he has dominated for 30 years. Losing his wheels could pale into insignificance compared with the blow Mr. Ecclestone received when he lost his legal battle last week. The legal battle raged behind closed doors until Friday, when BayernLB issued a statement welcoming Mr. Ecclestone's "prudence in backing down on all the points under legal dispute." Mr. Ecclestone told a German newspaper that he did not believe the banks had "any real interest in Formula One". Excerpts from Daily Telegraph

Pan-Am series cancels shootout Pan-Am series cancels shootoutWith so many open wheel racing series in the USA, they are all fighting for the same drivers who might have funding to drive one of their race cars.  There are just so many sponsor dollars to go around, especially with NASCAR sucking the well dry in the USA.  The latest victim is the new startup Pan-American series, who sent this note to their teams saying the upcoming Sunshine State Shootout was cancelled:

It is with regret that we have to announce the cancellation of the Homestead shootout event.  At the close of business on Thursday March 24th we had a disappointing response of entries for an unprecedented amount of prizes; approximately US$70,000 for the winner, plus update kits worth US$10,000 each for the top finishing teams. Our prize budget was anticipated to reach up to US$120,000 for the FR2000 Shootout, for a field of 20-25 cars. We fell far short of the anticipated entry.

Regarding V6, of the many drivers who had expressed interest in the test, only very few had made their commitments to teams that were actually participating in the test.  For a number of the confirmed V6 teams with drivers, the time scale involved in transporting the cars from Europe to North America as well as other complicating factors, made it difficult for them to place their cars on the track for this test.

The purpose of this race / test was to create a positive environment for the Pan Am Formula Renault Series. However to go ahead with an event of this nature signifies a financial commitment of approximately US$200,000 including prizes. The decision to cancel and replace this event was based on this.  Unfortunately those who do believe in the series and had made commitments to run with us were the ones affected.  We are currently working on an alternate plan to benefit those who wish to compete.

AutoRacing1.com is trying to contact the series to get a statement as to whether the cancellation of this test has any effect on the 2005 season.

Wirdheim ’Champ Car is where I want to be’ Wirdheim ’Champ Car is where I want to be’F3000 sensation Bjorn Wirdheim from Sweden got two solid days of testing a Champ Car with Dale Coyne's team in Sebring this past week. He sat down with AutoRacing1.com to talk about it. "Racing in Champ Car is something I have been wanting to do for a very long time. I really like the cars because they remind me of the F3000 cars I am used to - no traction control, no electronic gimmicks. It is a proper race car that puts a premium on the driver," said Wirdheim.

"I have been trying very hard to land a ride in Champ Car. I thought I had a ride with PKV but then they signed Cristiano da Matta. Since then I have been trying to find an alternative. I am here two days with Dale Coyne to see how things go."

We asked him when a decision will be made since Long Beach is right around the corner. "We will have to make a decision soon, for sure before Long Beach," said Wirdheim (pictured right). "Because of Kenny Brack there is a high interest in Champ Car in Sweden. It is difficult to get a Swedish driver into F1, but Champ Car is the next best thing. We have a few big international companies in Sweden that we are talking to but we are not quite there yet. There is nothing I don't like about Champ Car and I especially like street courses, this is where I want to be." You can see it in the intensity in his eyes (right and below).

"I would like to win Rookie of the Year this year but that depends a lot on the team I end up with. I would like to get a win and a few podiums this year and that should set me up well for my second year."

There have been reports that Bjorn's father is not 100% happy with Dale Coyne's team and is trying to land his son in a third seat at Forsythe Racing. However, Coyne's other car/team, for whatever reason, has generally performed better than the other. We hear his father's concern is the depth of personnel Coyne can bring to the 2nd car.

Wirdheim's lap times were not as fast as his more experienced teammate, Oriol Servia, over the two test days at Sebring, after turning very competitive times in his tests with PKV, and this appears to have his father worried. Coyne's team made a positive step forward in 2004 and we suspect if the Wirdheims do end up with the Coyne operation, they are going to push for more advances in equipment (better damper program) and personnel. It's less than two weeks before Long Beach. The clock is ticking. Mark C. (Photos by Mark Cipolloni and by Greg Aleck/LAT/Champ Car)

Ranger confident, but realistic Ranger confident, but realisticCanadian youngster Andrew Ranger has a swagger that exudes confidence well beyond his youthful 18 year old age. Talking to AutoRacing1.com at Sebring this past week Ranger spoke about his fourth day in a Champ Car where he turned very competitive laps against a stellar field of drivers.

We asked him what he would call a good year at the end of 2005. "I feel very comfortable so far. It is tough to say because it's my first year in Champ Car and I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. Let's see how we do in Long Beach and then I will have a better idea where we stand, " said Ranger.

This year's rookie crop of drivers in Champ Car is shaping up to be one of the best ever with the likes of Timo Glock, Ranger, Jos Verstappen, Bjorn Wirdheim and perhaps even Michael Valiante possibly joining the fray. "If I can win Rookie of the Year it will be good for me, but let's wait until after Long Beach," said a realistic Ranger. After all, his team is also young and have yet to win their first race. But with the additions made to the engineering staff of the Mi-Jack Conquest team over the winter, the first win could be just around the corner.

Ranger is signed for a 1-year deal with the Mi-Jack Conquest team and so far he and his teammate, another 18-year old in the way of Nelson Philippe (right), are getting along fine. "I have known Nelson Philippe since my karting days. This being my first day with the team we haven't worked that much together yet, but I think we will on race weekends." Two inexperienced 18-year olds on the same team is pretty risky for team owner Eric Bachelart (left talking to new team Technical Director Bruce Ashmore), but he's every bit as confident as his young guns. Keep your eye on this team this year, they might open a few eyes. Mark C.

Hornish trains hard to go road course racing Hornish trains hard to go road course racingThe physical aspect of the road racing has Sam Hornish Jr.  in the best shape of his racing career.  Training hard in the off-season he appears to be at least 15 pounds lighter this season  to be ready to keep up with rivals like Kanaan, Castroneves, and Dario Franchitti who spent many years racing competitively on road courses in the Champ Car series.

“I'm just going to go out there and try to do the best I can. I feel very optimistic about it. I've worked real hard in the off-season, trying to get myself in better shape, to knock all the rust off, I guess I should say, keep myself healthy.

“I know if you're running at the end of that race, you're halfway competitive, you're going to be in the Top 10,” said Hornish. With Tony Kanaan on a streak of 17 straight top five finishes and sitting just 20 points behind Hornish, the road courses could be the turning point in the championship battle.

”I know there's certain things I'm going to be able to do good at, there's certain things I'm not going to be able to do good at. I just got to go out and do the best I can try to maximize the points until I get to the point where I feel I'm capable of winning every one of those races. “

Sorenson impressive in Nashville Sorenson impressive in NashvilleNineteen-year-old Reed Sorenson won the pole in the morning and then earned the win a couple of hours later in the Pepsi 300 at the Nashville Superspeedway. The No.41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge (pictured right, photo by CIA Stock Photo)  took the checkered flag 14.417 seconds ahead of runner-up Kenny Wallace.   The victory was the first of Sorenson's 11-race Busch career. The impressive rookie led an amazing 197 of 215 laps en route to the victory.   "This team worked really hard," said Sorenson. "We had a little slip there in Atlanta (when he failed to qualify for the race), but this is a great way to come back - with a pole and win the race."
Phoenix attendance horrible Phoenix attendance horribleUPDATE #3 Finally, this writer guessed last week's IRL attendance at Phoenix at no more than 5,000 and it turns out the official number from promoters ISC was 8,312. Sorry for the miscalculation. SPEEDTV.com 03/20/05 An optimistic estimate would be 5,000 and, as one member of the media observed, "I had more people at my wedding."  Not since a picnic-like gathering of 1,000 at Dover, Del. in the late '90s has the IRL performed in front of such an embarrassing audience.........Whatever the reasons, the IRL now has the teams of Penske, Ganassi, Rahal and Andretti/Green, plenty of aggressive drivers like Tony Kanaan, Tomas Scheckter, Dario Franchitti, Dan Wheldon and Hornish and Indy 500 winners Helio Castroneves and local kid Buddy Rice. It still features some of the best racing on the planet.  But, like so many places around the country, Indy cars just don't play anymore in Phoenix. SPEEDTV.com  [Editor's Note: As with the Grand-AM (see our comments here) the paying customer has spoken.  They have rejected dumbed down Indy Car Racing just like they have rejected dumbed down sports car racing.  When is Tony George going to realize that his concept of what Indy Car Racing should be isn't working (the plummeting TV ratings back up our claim as well), pull the plug on this failed puppy, and let there be a merger of Champ Car and the IRL?  The sport has lost 10 years.  Ten years to allow NASCAR to nearly monopolize the American motorsport scene.  However, there appears to be no budging on Tony's part.  The real "Captain," Roger Penske tried for a merger, but now has given up trying.  It appears that both captains intend to go down with his ship.  Sad for the sport.  Even sadder for the fans.]  03/20/05 The AP reports - "The disappointing crowd for Saturday's race was estimated at less than 18,000".....we say much less.  How many actually paid is another question. 03/19/05 With the Copper World Classic not around to prop it up, the attendance in Phoenix today for the IRL race was generously estimated between 10,000 and 12,000 and as one wag said, "it looked like half of them came right out of State Prison on a free ticket for good behavior."  The IRL hasn't drawn a good crowd in Phoenix since they replaced Champ Car there.  When are they going to pull the plug on this event?  NASCAR is at Phoenix now, it's a dead market for the IRL.
Interview with Pierre Dupasquier Interview with Pierre DupasquierIn the recent Malaysian Grand Prix, five of Michelin’s partners – Mild Seven RenaultF1, Panasonic Toyota Racing, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team, West McLaren Mercedes and Red Bull Racing – took a clean sweep of the top six positions. There were plenty of things the Michelin staff wanted to ask Pierre Dupasquier, the company’s motorsport Director…

How do you feel about the outcome of the Malaysian Grand Prix?
"To see Michelin annex the top six places was a fantastic result for the whole motorsport division. Judging from the tone of your question, it was well received by a great many employees throughout the company, too. This grand prix underlined what I was saying throughout the winter – the latest Formula One regulations place an extra emphasis on the importance of tires and I am naturally happy about that. "

The Ferraris were about 1.5 second per lap slower than the quickest runners. Why?
"The team’s sporting director Jean Todt outlined the reasons in the press. He spoke about a “lack of aerodynamic downforce and a shortage of grip”. It is quite clear that Ferrari’s tires didn’t fully match their expectations."

Pierre, you have half-convinced us. The combination of Ferrari and Bridgestone worked very well in 2004. Why won’t it be at least as effective this season?
"If a set of tires is to last 350 kilometres (about 220 miles) during a race weekend, it is vital to get the construction right, as well as the compound. Working with several different teams creates added complications, but the flipside is that you get a much broader spectrum of testing input than you do with a single chassis type. As I often say, motorsport is a fantastic research laboratory for Michelin – but it is vital to retain an element of competition."
The subject of a single tire manufacturer hasn’t been dropped completely?
"Some ideas tend to linger for a long time and there will always be people who would like the sport to go down that road. Michelin has consistently made it clear that it only makes sense to commit to motorsport if you can compare to rival manufacturers and prove that your tires offer a performance advantage. If there were no such rivalry in place, our participation would be a matter of patronage rather than competition. That would not be as interesting for us, or the teams. A number of F1 principals contacted us in 1999, when there was only one tire manufacturer involved. I remember that very well."

What kind of work did the tire manufacturers do during the winter?
"I can’t speak on behalf of the opposition, obviously. But as you know, those of us working within Michelin are convinced that a race will be won by the driver who is smart enough to calculate the best set-up in terms of aerodynamics, engine mapping, grip and traction. Throughout the winter, we worked hard with all our partners. We bore in mind their own individual requirements but didn’t do special favors for any of them. In our eyes, you can’t draw definitive conclusions about the plus or minus points of tires, aerodynamics or whatever on the evidence of a race result alone."

Ferrari and its tire partner have taken a calculated decision to forge a dedicated partnership. That was their choice – and it’s also the principal reason that many of our teams decided to switch to Michelin."

Isn’t there a likelihood that Michelin’s rival will try to win back some partner teams in 2006, in order to boost research and development feedback?
"We have no reason to believe that recent trends will be reversed or that any of our partners might make such a change, unless of course any financial incentives came into play. But my team and I are very wary: we have a lot of respect for the work that Bridgestone’s technicians do. They will make progress and that obliges us to do likewise. As you see, a competitive edge in motorsport is a source of constant progress and forces us to look very hard at every little detail."

Final question: Pascal Vasselon – who used to be Michelin’s F1 program manager – is joining Toyota. What’s your reaction?
"When we offered Pascal a chance to develop his Michelin career via a new role in the United States, he told us that he would like to remain in F1. The fact that one of our partners has offered a job to a former Michelin engineer underlines that it recognizes the importance of the role tires have to play. As for any secrets Pascal might be taking with him, I am well enough acquainted with his integrity and professionalism to know that he will conduct himself appropriately. He is – and always will be – a first-class engineer. We wish him every success." Michelin

Bahrain International Circuit all set Bahrain International Circuit all setBahrain is all set to host the third leg of the 2005 World Championship at the Sakhir Circuit. The Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) received the award for the best organized Grand Prix trophy for the 2004 event. This year’s event is promised to cater for the needs of each spectator including corporate, families and fans.

“We are pushing the event to excel in every manner, whether it is hosting a thrilling race or providing family entrainment,” said BIC General Manager, Martin Whitaker. “The BIC has adopted an ideology in order to host a successful event. We believe that each race is a new challenge, and we should use the past achievements in order to step ahead."
“We understand that the task is not easy or simple, but the challenge is right in front of us and we promise to host a glittery event,” Whitaker continued. "The circuit aims to establish new international standards for quality when it comes to international motor racing events and incorporate the Arabian touch to this community. The Formula One has come to the Middle East. The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix is truly a global race with an Arabian feel."

The main preparations for the prestigious Middle East Formula One have centered around an ambitious advertising program, the aim of which is to further increase awareness on Formula One racing within the Arab World.

“This has been achieved through a highly successful and popular promotional campaign, which has been reflected in the huge numbers of tickets sold,” quoted Samer AlShaikh.

The campaign started in Beirut, continued through to Kuwait, Dubai and Jeddah, finally ending up in AlKhobar, Saudi Arabia. During this period, motorsport fans were able to live a virtual adventure by driving a Formula One vehicle simulation in which they were let into the speedy world and were able to live its experience.

“The Marketing Department has launched a major advertising campaign, which includes advertising throughout prominent TV stations, the internet and leading newspapers in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the UAE” added Samer AlShaikh, “In addition, a radio advertising campaign was launched in Bahrain, the UAE, and MBC FM. Hundreds of billboards and thousands of advertising and educational leaflets have been distributed in many countries across the gulf region.” BIC

Schumacher shakes down Bahrain car Schumacher shakes down Bahrain carMichael Schumacher was at Maranello Saturday for a day of testing at the Fiorano circuit. The world champion carried out the shakedown of the two F2005 which Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro will use in the Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for 3rd April at the Sakhir circuit. At the wheel of an F2004 M, he also carried out tire testing aimed at the rest of the season.
Industry News
Assen circuit modifications Assen circuit modificationsModifications at two corners have shortened the Assen TT circuit, in the Netherlands, from 3.74 to 3.72 miles, and improvements to several grandstands have also been completed in preparation for the 75th Gauloises Dutch TT June 23-25.

De Bult and Ruskenhoek corners have been altered, according to sources in Europe, and plans call for the circuit to be shortened even further after the 2005 World Superbike event at the historic circuit. (Track diagram courtesy e-tracks online)

A host of improvements have been made to the Winterdijk, Stekkenwal and main straightaway grandstands to improve the sight lines and overall experience of spectators. The brand new “floating” finish line grandstand will offer fans in its top row a panoramic view of the entire track, according to the circuit’s official website.

Every grandstand will also have a large-screen, Jumbotron-style monitor so fans can follow the action all the way around the long circuit.

Pepsi 400 schedule changes Pepsi 400 schedule changesDaytona International Speedway has changed some of its starting times for this summer's Pepsi 400 racing weekend.  The starting times for Winn-Dixie 250 Busch Series time trials and Pepsi 400 pole qualifying will be early afternoon on Friday, July 1. The Busch cars will take to the 2.5-mile tri-oval first at 1:45 p.m., followed by Nextel Cup Series competitors at 4:40 p.m.  It will be a busy day of racing with the fourth annual Winn-Dixie 250 rounding out the action. The 100-lap race will start at 8 p.m. on July 1.  The Speedway will have three consecutive nights of racing.
Glock crashes Glock crashesUPDATE The cause of Glock's crash was the failure (manufacturing defect we are told) of a front lower control arm under braking for Turn 1.  Essentially the a front wheel fell off and Glock went off.  Fortunately the damage was minimal and the crew made the necessary repairs and he was back out testing before the day was over. Mark C. 03/24/05 Timo Glock crashed this afternoon at Sebring while still at the top of the speed charts.  It is reported something broke on the car.  Driver is fine and car isn't damaged too badly.
Thursday lap times from Sebring Thursday lap times from SebringUPDATE #2 The afternoon times below have been updated with the correct numbers.  There were a couple of errors in what we originally published.  We apologize for the confusion. 03/26/05 Final lap times from Thursday at Sebring.  Note how tightly bunched the field is.
1) 50.96 Timo Glock, Rocketsports Racing
2) 51.09 Jimmy Vasser, PKV Racing
3) 51.17 Sebastien Bourdais, Newman-Hass Racing
4) 51.18 Alex Tagliani, Walker Racing
5) 51.22 Cristiano da Matta, PKV Racing
6) 51.30 Andrew Ranger, Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing
7) 51.36 Paul Tracy, Forsythe Championship Racing
8) 51.42 Ryan Hunter-Reay, Rocketsports Racing
Tie 51.42 Oriol Servia, Dale Coyne Racing
Tie 51.42 Mario Dominguez, HVM Inc.
11) 51.63 Roberto Gonzales, HVM Inc.
Tie 51.63 Nelson Philippe, Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing
13) 51.90 Bjorn Wirdheim, Dale Coyne Racing
14) 51.85 Rodolfo Lavin, Forsythe Championship Racing
15) 52.59 Marcus Marshall, Walker Racing
03/24/05 Morning lap times from Champ Car testing at Sebring Thursday. German sensation Timo Glock was fastest but a number of drivers are nipping at his heels.  The track is faster today.  More rubber has been laid down and there is less wind and sand on the track.
1. Timo Glock (Rocketsports) 50.96 sec.
2. Sebastien Bourdais (Newman/Haas) 51.15 sec.
3. Alex Tagliani (Walker Racing) 51.18 s
4. Andrew Ranger (Mi-Jack Conquest) 51.30 s
5. Cristiano da Matta (PKV Racing) 51.31 s
6. Paul Tracy (Forsythe Racing) 51.36 s
7. Oriol Servia (Coyne racing) 51.54 s
8. Nelson Philippe (Mi-Jack Conquest) 51.64 s
9. Jimmy Vasser (PKV) 51.66 s
10. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Rocketsports) 51.68 s
11. Roberto Gonzalez (HVM) 51.77 s
12. Mario Dominguez (HVM) 51.86 s
13. Bjorn Wirdheim (Dale Coyne Racing) 52.00 s
14. Rodolfo Lavin (Forsythe) 52.14 s
15. Marcus Marshall (Walker Racing) 52.87 s
Honda thinks they got engine bugs fixed Honda thinks they got engine bugs fixedHonda engineers are confident that they have got to the bottom of the technical problems that blighted BAR’s Malaysian Grand Prix.  Both Jenson Button and Anthony Davidson were sidelined by engine failures on the third lap of the Sepang race, prompting Button to air his displeasure publicly.  But after an intensive two-day test at Paul Ricard, Honda believes it has traced the problem to a badly designed oil sensor and has modified the parts to prevent a recurrence.  Honda Racing Development engineering director Shuhei Nakamoto said: “We’re confident that there won’t be a repeat of the engine problems that we had in Malaysia after these two days of testing at Paul Ricard.”
Pizzonia crashes in Barcelona Pizzonia crashes in BarcelonaAntonio Pizzonia was fortunate to emerge unscathed from a nasty accident during testing at Barcelona on Friday. The Brazilian lost control of his Williams at Turn 9 late in the day’s running and made heavy contact with the barriers.  The car sustained only relatively minor damage, while Pizzonia walked away completely unhurt.
Erin Crocker Starts with a Pole at Nashville Erin Crocker Starts with a Pole at NashvilleErin Crocker, in her career-first ARCA RE/MAX Series attempt, won the Pork Pole Award Friday afternoon at Nashville Superspeedway for Saturday’s PFG Lester 150.   Crocker, in the No. 98 Evernham Motorsports Dodge Charger, qualified with a speed of 164.602mph.  “I wasn’t as comfortable today as I was in testing,” explained Erin.  Crocker becomes only the third female driver in ARCA RE/MAX Series history to qualify for a pole position.
GP2 drivers bitten by F1 bug GP2 drivers bitten by F1 bugNeel Jani and Scott Speed have completed their two-day test for the Red Bull Racing Formula One team at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. GP2 series drivers Neel Jani (Racing Engineering) and Scott Speed (iSport International) tested at Barcelona on Wednesday and Thursday, with the two Red Bull Junior drivers taking turns at the wheel of the Red Bull Racing Formula One car. The Swiss and American drivers have both been early pace-setters in GP2 series testing, and while Neel has had some experience of F1 machinery, for Scott, this was his first time.

"The technical program centered on engine work, for future development of the Cosworth V10 and did not require our regular race drivers," commented Red Bull Racing Sporting Director, Christian Horner. "Therefore this seemed like the ideal opportunity to introduce Neel and Scott to Formula 1, as part of the Red Bull Junior program.

"Both drivers did a good job, making no mistakes," continued Horner. "Given that Scott had never driven a Formula One car before, he put in a solid drive getting used to all the extra horsepower. Neel also had to contend with a damp track on the final morning, before running in the dry in the afternoon and he provided valuable feedback to our engineers."

"Even though I have tested a Formula 1 car twice before, this was still an exciting two days for me," said Neel. "Especially the last morning when the track was wet and very slippery. I was amazed at how much grip and stability the cars still have in these conditions. I felt fit and capable of driving an F1 car."

For Scott, this was a double first, as he hadn't driven the Barcelona circuit before, either. "The car is definitely the most powerful car I've ever driven," he commented. "This test all went smoothly with no dramas. My first impression was... Wow! The braking power particularly impressed me. I really enjoyed myself and it was very productive, as the 68 laps I completed have qualified me for a Superlicense and I've now learnt a track that I will be racing on later in the year with the GP2 series. I found all the data analysis side fascinating and felt fine at the end of the test, having trained real hard for this." GP2.com

Scott Speed fastest both days in Barcelona Scott Speed fastest both days in BarcelonaScott Speed was testing the 2004 Red Bull Racing Formula 1 car the past two days at the Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona, Spain, and in his first testing of an F1 car Speed was fastest on both days. Speed's best lap was 1:16.122 in the 2004 car - compare that with the fastest qualifying lap last year of 1:15.022! .

Although initially saying, "It's just another race car....", Speed was obviously impressed. "It's the most powerful car I've driven, and the braking power particularly impressed me. I really enjoyed myself."

By turning 68 laps over the two days' testing, Speed is now qualified for a Superlicense. Speed said, "I found all the data analysis side fascinating and felt fine at the end of the test, having trained real hard for this."

Test times - Thursday:
Driver Team-Engine Time
Speed Red Bull - Cosworth 1:16.122
Heidfeld Williams - BMW 1:16.674
Pizzonia Williams - BMW 1:17.160
Jani Red Bull - Cosworth 1:18.037

Scenes from IPS test at Indy Scenes from IPS test at IndyThe Andrettis were out in force at Indy on Thursday to see Marco Andretti take his first laps around the Indy road course in a Menards Infiniti Pro car. Al Unser III and Arie Luyendyk Jr. were testing as well. All photos courtesy of Ron McQueeney/IR

Aldo, Mario and MichaelLAldo, Mario and Michael look over Marco's carAfter spinning on first lap, Marco eventually crosses finish lineMarco Andretti
Marco AndrettiMarco and MichaelMarco, Michael and MarioMarco, Arie Jr. and Al UnserMarco Andretti

Industry News
Race fans can drive The Milwaukee Mile Race fans can drive The Milwaukee MileThe Milwaukee Mile opens its pit gates once a year to allow race fans to drive their personal vehicles around America’s Legendary Oval.

From A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones and drivers with the last names of Allison, Andretti and Earnhardt, a virtual “who’s who” of auto racing superstars have raced on the historic one mile oval. Now race fans can drive at a moderated speed around The Milwaukee Mile on Saturday, April 16, 2005. Rain or shine, the event runs from 9:00am until 2:00pm.

Race fans took to the track last May to “Drive The Mile”, a once-a-year opportunity to drive passenger cars around The Milwaukee Mile. This year’s opportunity is Saturday, April 16 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with proceeds benefiting the Hunger Task Force.  Participants can roll right into the speedway’s new Victory Lane when they’re done with taking their laps and have their photo taken.

“We have really received a lot of positive feedback from the previous two “Drive The Mile” events we’ve held,” commented Mark Perrone, Vice President / General Manager of The Milwaukee Mile. “This is our way of treating our loyal fans and new fans with the opportunity to drive their own car on the same track as some of America’s greatest race drivers, while benefiting two great causes.”

Admission to “Drive The Mile” is two non-perishable food items for the Hunger Task Force and the purchase of a reserved seat ticket to any 2005 Milwaukee Mile event. Reserved seat tickets begin at $14 for the Friday night, June 24 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series 200-lap event.

For diehard Milwaukee Mile fans who have already purchased their tickets for the four event weekends this summer at The ‘Mile, their admission is two non-perishable items and a $14 contribution, which will be used to purchase a ticket for Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee.

Dash plaques provided by Safro Motorcars will be given to the first 200 participating drivers. Race cars, car clubs and the Grand National Vintage Racing machines will be on display and on-track periodically throughout the day. Food and refreshments will also be available for purchase.

To participate, each driver must be 18 years of age or older, present a valid driver’s license and proof of current vehicle insurance.

A Krispy Kreme doughnut and coffee for a $1 contribution to the Hunger Task Force will be available at “Drive The Mile” registration, which begins at 8:30am at The Milwaukee Mile Ticket Office, 7722 West Greenfield Avenue.

The Hunger Task Force assures that the hungry are provided with free, nutritious, culturally appropriate food and are treated with dignity. The Big Brothers Big Sisters mission is to help children reach their full potential through professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships.

For more information about all the exciting events at The Milwaukee Mile, visit www.milwaukeemile.com.

Special Michelin tire could break Bridgestone and Ferrari Special Michelin tire could break Bridgestone and FerrariAlthough Bridgestone promises their new tire will make Ferrari on-pace in Bahrain next weekend, don't bet the farm on it. Michelin boss, Pierre Dupasquier has revealed that while the French tire manufacturer is pleased to have won the opening two races of the season in Australia and Malaysia, they have been working just as hard since Sepang, as there is no place for 'complacency' in F1. As if to prove the point, Michelin has developed a new tire 'specifically designed' for the Sakhir track, the only desert location on the 19-race F1 schedule, as they look to make it three wins on the trot and stop Bridgestone from bouncing back in the new Ferrari F2005, which will make its debut next weekend. As is customary, we have been working very hard on the forthcoming race - we might have made a sparkling start to the season, but there is never any scope for complacency in Formula One," Dupasquier said.

"Even though Michelin has so far had the upper hand in this year's tire battle, it won't surprise anybody if the opposition ups its game. Next weekend we will face our third different set of circumstances in as many grands prix - and Bahrain poses some unique challenges. It is likely to be hot and the desert setting means there is always a risk of sand blowing onto the track, which naturally accelerates the rate of tire wear. Last year we came here with no experience of running at the track, although our technicians had visited the facility to allow us to conduct a number of simulation tests. This year's preparations are not really a great deal simpler, though, because the track will have evolved in the past 12 months and the tire regulations have, of course, changed significantly. We will have two tire specifications for our seven partners: one has been seen before, while the other is completely new and has been designed specifically for Bahrain."

Pizzonia over Heidfeld in Barcelona test Pizzonia over Heidfeld in Barcelona testThere was only one team today testing in Barcelona: Williams. Nick Heidfeld and Antonio Pizzonia - both driving FW27s - completed a total of 67 and 79 laps respectively.  Testing is now over in Barcelona. The next session is scheduled for early April (5-8). Ferrari, BAR, Renault, Williams, McLaren, Sauber, Red Bull and Toyota will take part in the test.
1. A. Pizzonia - BMW Williams FW27 - 1'16"051 (+0"000) - 67 laps
2. N. Heidfeld - BMW Williams FW27 - 1'16"983 (+0"932) - 79 laps
New procedure will hurt NASCAR New procedure will hurt NASCARThis Las Vegas Sun article says, Under NASCAR's new procedure for determining the starting fields for its races in its top three national series, Brendan Gaughan failed to qualify for last week's Craftsman Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

NASCAR in January opted to guarantee the top 30 trucks, based on 2004 owner points, a spot in the starting field. Because Gaughan is competing this year in a truck that had no owner points from the previous year, he was one of 10 drivers who had to make the field based on his qualifying speed. The new rule also applies to the top 35 teams in the Nextel Cup Series and the top 30 in the Busch Series.

Gaughan's qualifying speed at Atlanta would have placed him 30th in the 36-truck field under the old rules. Instead, he was the ninth fastest of the 10 who had to qualify on speed and was one of four drivers who missed the starting field.

Gaughan, who was not a fan of the rule even before it forced him to sit out last Friday's race, said the new qualifying procedure will spell the end of independent teams in each of NASCAR's top three series.

"This new qualifying deal, I'm telling you, is going to hurt NASCAR for years," Gaughan said. "I was a big supporter of the 'Chase for the (Nextel Cup) Championship' from the get-go. I always say, 'let's see how things play out' and I said the same thing about this ... but this new qualifying thing is really going to hurt the sport.  All that's going to happen with this is you're going to see the days of DuPont being on Jeff Gordon's car all year and (having) one sponsor for one team are over," he said.

"All these independent teams are done. You're going to end up with Jack Roush, Rick Hendrick, Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi, Robert Yates, Richard Childress -- you're going to end up with eight teams and all they're going to do is take less money from a sponsor and give them (fewer) races."

Gaughan said owner/driver Robby Gordon, who is running the full Nextel Cup Series schedule with multiple sponsors (Harrah's, Fruit of the Loom and Jim Beam), will be the model for future Cup teams if NASCAR decides to stick to guaranteeing teams spots in the starting fields.

"Robby Gordon is the first genius behind it," Gaughan said. "He's got four sponsors each giving him a certain amount for so many races and Robby is just going to barely squeak in and make it because he's the first to do it. What sponsor is going to give a new team money to go try to make a show when they know that they can give less money to a bigger team and be guaranteed (to be in the race)?

"If I want to get somebody to sponsor me, I want them to give me $15 million -- which is what it takes. But hold on; why are they going to sponsor me for $15 million when I'm not even guaranteed to make the race? Why not just give $5 million to Rick Hendrick and put it on Jeff Gordon's car and run seven races?

"I really think this is going to be a bad change for the sport because you're going to get rid of small teams, you're going to get rid of small sponsors and you're going to create 10 small sponsors on one big team."

A lap around Bahrain with Juan Montoya A lap around Bahrain with Juan MontoyaJuan Pablo Montoya describes what it's like to put in a lap of the Bahrain International Circuit in a F1 car...

"We begin on the long start-finish straight, which is just over one kilometer and where we reach the highest speeds on the circuit, up to 320 km/h in seventh gear before braking hard for the slow tight right of turn one dropping down to first gear and 80km/h."

"A short burst of power takes you to the left hander of turn two, which is taken at 120km/h in second gear, keeping on the power through the turn."

"The slight right of turn three, taken at 190km/h sees speeds gradually increasing as you go up to third gear. This then flicks you onto the second and shortest of the four straights. We power along here in sixth gear before dropping down to second gear and 105km/h for the tight right of turn four."

"The sweeping left-right-left of turns five, six and seven follow; this is very quick sequence reaching 200km/h at turn six and sees us pull 3.2G the highest of the circuit."

"We then pick up speed on the exit for the short run down to the hairpin of turn eight which is taken in second gear at 90km/h. Another quick burst takes you to the two left handers of nine and ten, which will start off quite fast and then see us slow to second gear and 80km/h for ten."

"This then swings you round onto the third main straight that runs parallel to the start-finish straight. This sees another chance to really pick up speed and we reach 300km/h before braking for the long left double-apex of eleven. It is important to maintain our speed through here, as it leads onto another long and fast sweeping section of the track."

"The open curving right of twelve, which sees speeds of around 215km/h in fourth, is followed by a sharper right turn, taken in third at 170km/h, this then flicks you onto the back straight."

"Powering up through the gears you reach 320km/h before breaking hard into second gear, 95km/h for the final right hander, which takes you back onto the long start-finish straight to start another lap."

Heidfeld worried about engine Heidfeld worried about engineWilliams-BMW driver Nick Heidfeld has admitted that the Bahrain Grand Prix could be a tough test for the FW27 next Sunday and particularly his BMW engine which will have one race on it while his teammate gets a fresh unit.

"I feel very confident after my podium in Malaysia, so I am looking forward to the next race in Bahrain," said Heidfeld.

"The circuit can be very dirty as it lies in the middle of the desert, so we might see even less people going out at the beginning of the sessions than usual, in particular on the Friday. I think last year's race in Bahrain was one of the most exciting Grands Prix of the season, so it's likely that the fans will see another great race.

"Like Malaysia, Bahrain will be a hot race, and so a tough challenge for the car, especially the engine. Bahrain will be the second race in a row for my engine, as well as for some of the other drivers on the grid."

BMW Motorsport director, Mario Theissen though is confident they shouldn't have any problems.  "From BMW's perspective, Sepang was the biggest challenge we have faced since returning to Formula One," he noted. "Not only because of the extreme heat in Malaysia, but also because Mark's BMW P84/5 engine had already run the entire Australian Grand Prix two weekends before.  Despite this, we did not encounter any problems with the engines.  That is encouraging, but we still need to be prepared for more heat in Bahrain. Mark will have a fresh engine for the Bahrain Grand Prix while Nick will continue to run the same one he raced in Malaysia."

The sand though is something that means BMW have had to make 'special' modifications to deal with.  "Due to the dry desert wind, we might have to deal with very fine sand in Bahrain," continued Theissen. "In order to protect the engine's air intake from this potential problem, we have prepared a finer air filter which features a denser weave that we will take to Bahrain.  The balancing act is to provide as much protection as necessary without reducing the air flow."

HVM Wraps Up Sebring Test HVM Wraps Up Sebring TestThe conditions improved for second and final day of the Sebring test, producing optimum conditions as Mario Dominguez and Roberto Gonzalez tested the HVM machines for the first time this year.

Coming off his fifth place finish in the 2004 Champ Car World Series Championship with HVM, Mario Dominguez re-acquainted himself with his #55 Lola and settled in for a full day of work as the HVM engineering staff had a list of configurations for Dominguez to test, most of which included long, consistent runs, preparing the team for the upcoming season.  Dominguez completed 170 miles of testing, and commented on the day, “It felt great to be back in the car, it was very comfortable, we worked hard and achieved a lot today.  I am very happy with the way the test went, we learned a lot and I definitely think we will have a very strong package for Long Beach.  I was very happy to see my engineers and my crew, I missed them over the winter, they are amazing, we have not run since Mexico, but the way they work, everyday is like race day, they are so professional.”

Fellow countryman Roberto Gonzalez tested the #4 HVM/Ford-Cosworth/Lola, although it was his first time in a Champ Car this year, he is familiar with the HVM squad, he ran with the team in Mexico City in 2003.  Gonzalez completed 160 miles on Wednesday, “It was a very good day, very encouraging. We spent a few minutes shaking the car down in the morning and we were up to speed very quickly within 30 laps or so we had set a very good time and we ran second most of the morning.”  Gonzalez continued, “I was very comfortable and confident in the car, the communication between myself and the engineer was very good, just about every time we tried something new, the car was better and I was faster.  I knew HVM is a good team because I had run with them before and I was very impressed, this test was no different, we ran all day with no complications and we maximized the day and the opportunity, so I am pleased.”

HVM tested four drivers in two days and Team Manger Vince Kremer was pleased with the outcome, “We had a very good day today, both Mario and Roberto did a fantastic job.  We came with an extensive task list for Mario and got through it, the engineers were pleased with what we learned, as was Mario.  Roberto got up to speed very quickly, this was his second time in our car, he is just as professional and talented as we remembered.”
The HVM crew tested Jos Verstappen and Ronnie Bremer on Wednesday, followed by Dominguez and Gonzalez on Thursday, Kremer continued, “We are very happy with the test overall, each driver did a fantastic job, no one ever put a wheel off.  The crew performed without missing a beat, the cars performed like clockwork. They were in mid-season form, it was as if we never had an off-season.”

HVM Co-owner and Managing Director, Keith Wiggins was at the test and impressed with the driver’s performance, “Despite the diversity of the experience of Verstappen, Bremer and Gonzalez, they all adapted very quickly to the HVM cars, it was impressive how quickly they were up to speed, they gave great feedback and are true professionals.” 

Ronnie Bremer’s fast time from Wednesday was inaccurate; the Dane’s quickest lap-time of the day was a 52.38 rather than 52.62 and in the late afternoon, when the track was fastest, he was doing full-tank runs.

Earning three victories, and eight podium finishes in just four years; HVM, Inc. has enjoyed early success in the Champ Car World Series. With more than 2.2 million people attending Champ Car races annually and a massive worldwide audience, HVM also offers a range of proven marketing and advertising platforms to enhance the business of its corporate partners.  For more information about HVM, Inc. and its partners, please visit www.TeamHerdez.com.

Costs going up for Staten Island track Costs going up for Staten Island trackISC's plans for a speedway on Staten Island does not include passenger rail service but that is what might be needed. ISC's current plan is to bring 60,000 people to the Bloomfield neighborhood track by buses and ferries. The 1,000 private or charter buses and 80 to 100 ferries would bring most of the 80,000 spectators from 12 area park and ride lots on Saturday and Sunday.

ISC Vice President of Business Affairs John Graham said that he and traffic consultant Eng-Wong, Taub Associates had been talking with New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey about getting trains to the proposed speedway. "We've been told it's over $1 billion (on top of the $507 million needed for the track and adjacent shopping center)," said Gillian Zucker Zucker, ISC's consultant.

Trans-Am now a 3-Class series Trans-Am now a 3-Class seriesThe Trans-Am Series has announced the formation of a new class, GT America (GTA), for cars of the GT America Stock Racing Series to compete in the 2005 Trans-Am Championship.  The class features V8-powered tube-framed sedans, including the Pontiac Grand Prix and Ford Taurus among others. GTA will be recognized with its own championship and recognition in each race this season. The addition of the GTA cars makes Trans-Am a three-class series.
Sponsors growing for Denver GP Sponsors growing for Denver GPIn the past three years, the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver has established itself as one of Denver's premier summer events. Sponsorship involvement has grown from 10 companies in 2002 to more than 30 partners for this year's event.
Hotel chain extends NASCAR sponsorship Hotel chain extends NASCAR sponsorshipTravelodge Hotels announced the renewal of its associate sponsorship of the No. 16 National Guard Ford Taurus, driven by Greg Biffle, in the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.   The agreement continues the Travelodge(R) brand's two-year relationship with Roush Racing of Concord, N.C.  As part of the agreement, Travelodge Hotels will appear as the team's primary sponsor at Darlington Raceway's Carolina Dodge Dealers 500 on May 7.  "The Travelodge brand is proud to continue its relationship with the National Guard team and is excited to sponsor the No. 16 National Guard Ford Taurus and Greg Biffle," said Travelodge President Ken Greene.  "Our relationship with the National Guard team continues to provide excellent exposure for the Travelodge brand among a wide audience."
Bridgestone promises better tires are coming Bridgestone promises better tires are comingBridgestone has promised Ferrari a new and improved tire for their new car, which is to make its debut next week in Bahrain. They have vowed to up their game for round three in Bahrain after progress in testing. Bridgestone’s technical manager Hisao Suganuma said: “Bridgestone has had a very productive test with Ferrari this week running a number of tire specifications on the F2005 car and we are pleased with the team’s decision to take the new car to Bahrain. We have been working hard with Ferrari to accelerate our tire development program for Bahrain and look forward to an improved performance at the grand prix next weekend. We anticipate that following further testing in the coming weeks, the car/tire package will continue to gain in performance.”
Forsythe team wraps up pre-season testing Forsythe team wraps up pre-season testingForsythe Championship Racing hit the pavement in full stride at the unofficial winter home of Champ Car World Series testing as Sebring hosted the final test days of the pre-season. Paul Tracy and Rodolfo Lavin put in some fast laps with Tracy comfortably quicker than his pursuers on Day 1 while Lavin, in his first test laps of the 2005 season, posted third quickest time on Day 2.

"The work we did in Fontana (previous test days on March 8-9) paved the way for our results these last two days" said Tracy, "and the guys worked really hard to optimize the car. The Bridgestone tires are perfect again this year, very consistent and grippy. We went for speed yesterday and then today we worked on consistency with used tires and a heavy fuel load. It's nice for the team to make a statement here this week, and I'm looking forward to going for my fifth win at Long Beach."

Paul Tracy is defending champion of the season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, broadcast live on NBC, Eurosport and other major international broadcast partners. The race takes place on Sunday, April 10; check local listings for broadcast times in your area.
Mi-Jack Conquest Sebring test report Mi-Jack Conquest Sebring test reportMI-JACK Conquest Racing concluded a two-day test, March 23-24, at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida - to fine-tune the set-ups on the Lola-Ford # 34 & # 27 cars in preparation for the opening race of the season – The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 8-10, on the streets of Long Beach, California.

Two-day trouble free test with French driver Nelson Philippe on his second season with the MJCR, teamed with Canadian driver Andrew Ranger on his first season with Champ Car. Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Team is looking forward to contesting its third season in the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford.

Eric Bachelart:  “With the new expansion of our team this is the first opportunity to work with everybody together.  A primary focus of Mi-Jack Conquest’s off-season upgrading has been our engineering program.  In Sebring, we went through all the different development parts and the results have been to the team’s satisfaction, this is the first time that the two drivers work together.  We had some new people that joined the team and the whole team is working well together. We’ve been working quite hard on that. It’s a very exciting time for MJCR.”

“This is our last test before Long Beach. Both drivers performed well. With Nelson we work more on development; we went through a lot of different parts and received a lot of good information.

Andrew has a lot of things to learn to get ready for his first race and I think he has learned a lot and done extremely well. We are well prepared to go to Long Beach, the first of the 14 races on the 2005 Champ Car schedule. So we are ambitious and we believe that Nelson and Andrew will do a good job.”

Nelson Philippe (Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Lola-Ford #34)  “The most important thing for me was to get more acquainted with my engineer Don Bricker.  We tried a lot of different things, new things that the guys worked on during the winter.  A lot of development was done; we have a lot of things to try.  I think we have a strong package for the season but we will see what happens in Long Beach, I don’t want to make any conclusions now.  I will continue to work hard on my preparation.  Prepare ourselves so we can get to Long Beach with a good package.”

Andrew Ranger (Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Lola-Ford #27)  “I’m really happy to be with Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing.  I think its fantastic for me, I’m working with my engineer from last year, Dave Faustino and also with Bruce Ashmore.  The track is very bumpy and I had a problem with the shifter and I still have pain on my wrist “added Ranger.  I know the track in Long Beach in which I finished second last year with Atlantic, but now with Champ Car I have a lot more to learn.  I practiced a lot of pit stops because this is something new for me.  I need to put more speed on the pit. I’m going to the gym and I’ll be training hard on my cardio because it is very tough, you have a lot of down force in the car and you come so fast in the corner, you need to downshift pretty hard, turning is pretty heavy, the car is heavy too.  I need to go to the gym a little bit more… “

Chris Mower - Team Manager  "The development program that we’ve been working on all winter is finally taking direction and coming into place and we’re very happy with the amount of things that we tried and the cars are now to a point that we are very pleased and we feel that we will be able to enter in good position with both drivers in Long Beach. We still have two young drivers but we’re very impressed with the performance they have shown and the feedback they have given us during this test. “

Bruce Ashmore – Technical Director  Commenting on the test Bruce said, “We had a very good test and went through a lot of stuff, we almost frazzled their brain.  Now the work really begins, we are going back to the shop and we are going to analyze all the data, compare the setups, which were pretty close towards the end but obviously different.  We’ll get it so that we come with the car that we’re going to start with for both drivers in Long Beach.”

Formula BMW
20 drivers complete first BMW test of 2005 20 drivers complete first BMW test of 200520 young drivers began the next step in their racing careers as they took to the Road Atlanta circuit, in Braselton, Ga. on Monday and Tuesday of this week for the first official test of the 2005 Formula BMW USA Championship season. The first of 10 scheduled official test days, the two days spent at Road Atlanta gave most their first look at their season's competition. Perhaps more importantly, each driver received a good education of the technical 2.54-mile, 12-turn circuit that will host the final two rounds of the Championship on Sept. 29 - Oct. 1. Formula BMW USA coaches Peter Argetsinger and Oswaldo Negri were on hand to provide support as the Atlanta weather did its best to show a little bit of everything, from cool, to cold and wet.

Ten teams completed many miles of testing with a few drivers accumulating 400 miles in their new FB2s.  "What a fantastic official start to the 2005 Formula BMW USA Championship," said Alex Schmuck, Formula BMW USA Manager. "20 FB2s and 20 drivers at the challenging Road Atlanta track demonstrate that the concept of Formula BMW is working. We can already see story lines and rivalries beginning to take shape for what will be a very exciting year of racing."

Four more official test days will be held at Virginia International Raceway and Carolina Motorsports Park before the Championship begins at Laguna Seca Raceway on April 29 - May 1.

2005 Formula BMW USA Schedule
Round 1 and 2 Laguna Seca Raceway April 29-May 1
Round 3 and 4 Mid-Ohio May 20-22
Round 5 and 6 Canadian Grand Prix June10-12
Round 7 and 8 United States Grand Prix June 17-19
Round 9 and 10 Barber Motorsports Park July 29 - 31
Round 11 and 12 Grand Prix of Denver Aug. 12-14
Round 13 and 14 Road Atlanta Sept. 29 - Oct. 1

Dyson announces '05 Toyota Atlantic entry Dyson announces '05 Toyota Atlantic entryDyson Announces 2005 Formula Atlantic Plans

For 32 years, the Toyota Atlantic Championship has been the foremost series of future champions.  The names include Rosberg, Andretti, Villeneuve, Sullivan, Rahal, Brabham, Cobb, Unser, Hornish and Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice.  Chris Dyson, already a championship driver in the American Le Mans Series, will be running selected Toyota Atlantic Championship races this year, starting with the streets of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 10.

“I’m really looking forward to competing in the Atlantic series this year,” Dyson said.  “The series is competitive and the Swift chassis rewards finesse and understanding what the car is telling you.  Last year we planned on doing more races but I had some European sports car opportunities that curtailed the effort. We’ve been working hard all winter to hit the ground running with a proper program in 2005.”

“We tested at Carolina Motorsports Park two weeks ago and will be testing again the week of Long Beach,” Dyson continued. “We wanted to get a handle on the new spec shock for this year. It was a beneficial test and it was good to be back in the car again.”

Chris Dyson won the 2003 American Le Mans Series LMP675 championship. Last year, Chris ran the ALMS LMP1 championship, finishing on the podium six of nine times, including two seconds and four thirds.  He finished fourth in the Le Mans Endurance Series race at Silverstone, England and was the highest placed American driver at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving with reigning FIA Sportscar champion, Jan Lammers.

The #16 Thetford/Norcold Dyson Racing Toyota/Swift 014.a made its debut at The Portland International Raceway last June. The Toyota Atlantic team is a division of Dyson Racing, North America’s premier sports car team.  Founded by Rob Dyson, they have won 58 races and 12 championships in the past 20 years. 

“Long Beach is one of the better street courses,” comments Chris. “It challenges you as a driver. It has a good long straight and a variety of braking zones and multiple passing areas.  The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is one of a kind:   one of those great events that grow in stature each year.”

The Imperial Capital Bank Challenge for the Toyota Atlantic Championship race will be held 10:30 a.m. Sunday, April 10.  TV times and dates to be announced.

Tracy the guy to beat at Long Beach Tracy the guy to beat at Long Beach“I intend to take back the Vanderbilt Cup that’s on loan to Sebastien.”  The cup in question is awarded to the winner of the Champ Car World Series championship. “Sebastien” is Sebastien Bourdais, current holder of the Vanderbilt Cup.   And, the speaker is Paul Tracy.  Don’t count Tracy out. Story
Formula BMW
Gelles Foursome Tops The Charts at Road Atlanta Gelles Foursome Tops The Charts at Road AtlantaFormula BMW USA teams just completed two days of official testing at Road Atlanta and Gelles Racing drivers and crew members are very happy with their accomplishment. Even if official times were not published, it was evident the stopwatches had been clicking every time a car took to the track. The unofficial results proved there were always three Gelles drivers among the top four or five best times out of the nineteen drivers that participated. The Gelles FB2 cars ran perfectly in each session, cold or warm, dry or damp over the two days. 

“Everything went according to our plans, said team owner Bob Gelles. Our drivers are now familiar with their cars, the bonding with the crew is great and our engineers made a lot of progress in understanding the FB2 setup in different situations, all our pre-season testing definitely has paid dividends. I was impressed with the talent of Justin (Moon), Renato (Jader-David), Maxime (Soulet) and Darin (Marcus). Road Atlanta is quite technical and requires total concentration from a driver. I was impressed by the way those young men behaved on the track and how much control they possess of their cars.”

Unofficial times  Although official times were not available from the series, it was obvious that Gelles drivers were indeed lapping faster that most of the field. “You can’t spend two days around a race track without looking over your shoulder, added the team principal. With such a large staff employed by Gelles, we were able to take times on every driver, every lap.  We constantly had our drivers setting the pace and when we set the timer on the other cars, our boys were generally a few tenths faster. We now have a better idea who our competition is going to be this year and the next testing days in Virginia and Carolina will give us a chance to perfect our preparation. When the reds go out in Laguna Seca, lookout for the Gelles team. “

More test days before Laguna Seca  The Gelles Racing BMW team will head to Virginia International Raceway on April 9 and 10, Carolina Motorsports Park on April 16 and 17 as part of the official Formula BMW USA test.

Scott Speed earns Superlicense Scott Speed earns SuperlicenseScott Speed, one of the first drivers to be tapped by the Red Bull Driver Search to chase the dream of being the next American to race in Formula 1 in over a decade, moved a step closer to his goal this week as he got his first test in a Formula 1 car at Barcelona.
Speed not only got the chance to test, but he also did what he has done every step of the way—making the absolute most out of the opportunity and scoring the fastest lap of any of the drivers participating in the test, this on a track that he had never even seen before this week. Also testing were both Williams BMW drivers Nick Heidfeld and Antonio Pizzonia, in a supposedly faster car, yet Speed beat both of the veteran F1 drivers. 
It’s not just good memories that Speed will leave the test with, as he covered enough laps and showed enough speed to earn the highest license a racing driver can receive, a Superlicense, which would allow him to race in Formula 1 should the opportunity present itself.
Four short years have seen this unparalleled motorsports Program — the Red Bull Driver Search—go from a mere idea to actually realizing its goal of having an American race in Formula 1.  While Speed knows that there is a long way to go between testing a Formula 1 car and actually earning the opportunity to race it, he also knows how far he has come already.  Speed will be racing in the GP2 Series this season, and has also already served notice-outpacing all of his competitors during the pre-season testing.
Mario and Michael on Marco Andretti Mario and Michael on Marco AndrettiAmong the observers of Marco Andretti's first test in a Menards Infiniti Pro Series car were his father, IRL IndyCar® Series team owner Michael Andretti, his grandfather, 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti, and his great uncle Aldo Andretti.

MARIO ANDRETTI (1969 Indianapolis 500 winner): (About watching his grandson driving on Indianapolis Motor Speedway 40 years after Mario first raced at IMS): "This is the evolution of life. It's tough to predict what is going to happen. And when it does happen, wow, it's amazing. Watching Marco do his thing, it just really replenishes my spirit. It's a great feeling just watching him enjoy what he's doing and doing it so well."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: (Are you as nervous today as Mario was watching you 20 years ago?): "It's probably a little different because I grew up watching Dad, and that helped me a lot. Having said that, I still get a little nervous. It's part of the game." (What are Marco's goals?) "I think ultimately he'd like to do Formula One, if it came up. Right now, we have to look at the realistic, and hopefully that is likely the '07 (Indianapolis) 500 is the goal, and hopefully we can get there."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Vonage Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I guess it started out a little rough. We lost some valuable time with a broken driveshaft, but we were able to make some changes. Our biggest problem of the day would be trying to get out the understeer; we couldn't get it out all day. It was a fun day. The first time in the car I felt pretty good, and we weren't slow, we were pretty quick, so it was a good day." (About his first impressions of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series cars) "They're a lot of fun on the road course. I love this track because you get the feel for an oval, except you're turning right. You're hauling the mail into (Turn) 1 here, and basically it's all about mechanical grip for the infield and trying to trim out as much as you can for the banking." (About his first lap at Indianapolis) "It was pretty special coming down the first lap because of all of the history here." (About the new surface at Indianapolis): "At first it was scary, because first off I went out there flat and right when it got on the new surface, I totally lost the front end, it was gone. Right now, it's a one-groove racetrack. It's going to be slick for those IndyCar Series guys the first time they're out, but once we get some rubber down, it'll be fine."

Australian F3 race winner Marshall moves to Champ Car Australian F3 race winner Marshall moves to Champ CarADLEIADE-BASED Australian Formula 3 operation, Team BRM has produced two championship winners and a whole heap of success for its drivers since it began competing in Australian Formula 3 in 1998 – and now it has had a guiding hand in the career of Australia’s latest successful international export: Marcus Marshall.

Marshall - who last weekend confirmed that he has signed to compete with successful Champ Car operation Walker Racing for the 2005 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford - competed with team BRM in two out of the eight rounds that made up the 2004 Australian Formula 3 championship finishing sixth on the seasons’ points tally.

It was his drive at the Lexmark Indy 300, though, that pushed him into the spotlight in front of the American teams - the 26-year-old Queenslander crushing a competitive field by taking pole and winning all three races in front of the watching Champ Car teams and management.

Team BRM owner, and chairman of Formula 3 Australia Bronte Rundle said that Marshall’s leap to one of the world’s premier open wheel series’ was a great advertisement for Formula 3 Australia. "Australian Formula 3 and team BRM are delighted to have had a hand in developing Australia’s latest International export,” said Rundle. “Marcus is a true talent, and will go very well in the Champ Car World Series this season. We had the pleasure of working with Marcus last year for two rounds, and to witness the change between the start of the season (In Adelaide) and when he came back to BRM at the Gold Coast was fantastic. He had really developed as a driver and really showed how good he could be in what was a very competitive field.

“He ran with us at the Gold Coast with the sole intention of showing what he was capable of in front of the visiting American teams and there is no doubt he was able to achieve that. It’s a credit to him that he has been able to follow it up and gain a seat in a very competitive top level championship series like Champ Car.”

Rundle said that Marshall’s graduation to the ranks of the Champ Car World Series was proof positive that Formula 3 in Australia remains the best place for young drivers to develop their talent before heading overseas.

”People like Will Power, James Manderson and Karl Reindler and now Marcus have all used this category in Australia as a stepping stone to bigger and better things either here or in Europe and America,” he said. “The drivers we have in this series this year will also be looking to do the same thing, because they know that if you are successful in Formula 3 racing there is a very high chance that you will be successful elsewhere.”

Marshall will make his Champ Car World Series debut at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in California on April 10th, whilst the next round of the 2005 Kumho Tires Australian Formula 3 championship will be held at South Australia’s Malalla Raceway a week after on April 16th and 17th. Australian F3

Mayfield, Labonte test at Kentucky Mayfield, Labonte test at KentuckyAerodynamic changes that helped #19-Jeremy Mayfield to a season-best 13th-place NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series finish in Atlanta last week led to a possible season-changing breakthrough during a test at Kentucky Speedway Thursday. After closing out last season 10th in the 10-race Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, the #19 team averaged a 23rd -place finish through the first three races of the season while working with the new Dodge Charger body and adjusted spoiler height mandated by NASCAR. When changes made for the Atlanta race led to improved results, Mayfield and his team made a commitment to further explore those changes by testing during the series off week. "We started the season with a lot of new Chargers and, with the new rules, we got a couple of races into it and thought, whoa, we need to rethink this whole thing," Mayfield said. "We were trying to do something a little bit different." Joe Gibbs Racing Driver #18-Bobby Labonte also tested in an attempt to rebound from the poor luck that has plagued him in three of the four series races. After losing an engine in the Daytona 500, Labonte rebounded with a 12th-place finish in the second race of the season in California. His resurgence was stopped cold when his involvement in early-race accidents in Las Vegas and Atlanta caused his plummet to 37th in the series standings. Kentucky Speedway
Fittipaldi switches teams Fittipaldi switches teamsChristian Fittipaldi will switch teams from the Kodak Bell team to the TRG Krohn effort. In his place Terry Borcheller will co-drive with Ralf Kellners. Fittipaldi will co-drive with Jorg Bergmeister in the Krohn Pontiac Riley.   Ironically, Fittipaldi's resume includes a victory in the 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium, where he was a teammate to Bergmeister's father, Willi. "In 1993, my father was still driving," Bergmeister recalled. "I remember Christian drove in the 24 hours of Spa in one of the sister cars to my dad. Now he is my co-driver!"

Borcheller, who celebrated his 39th birthday on Tuesday, and Kelleners, 36, of Dusseldorf, Germany, have actually been co-drivers for more races than Borcheller and Fittipaldi have. They have been paired up for many endurance races in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), including last Saturday's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in Sebring, Fla., and they were co-drivers in the Rolex series in 2002. They will also do the 24 Hours of Le Mans together in June.

"I can't do the whole season anyway due to my commitment to run stock cars in Brazil," Fittipaldi explained. "Tracy Krohn and Kevin Buckler gave me the opportunity to run one of their cars on a one-off basis too, and I decided to accept that offer for Fontana.

"I'm very thankful for everything Forest [Barber, the owner of the #54], Jim [Bell, owner of Bell Motorsports] and Kodak have done for me, and I definitely hope to drive the Kodak EasyShare car again this year sometime," Fittipaldi continued. "Nothing is firmed up yet though. I definitely can't do the Laguna race [April 29-May 1] because I'll be in Brazil, so the next time I could be in the Kodak car is at Mont-Tremblant in May."

Industry News
Another firing at VW Another firing at VWBernd Pischetsrieder, the Volkswagen chief executive struggling to restore earnings at Europe's biggest carmaker, secured the dismissal yesterday of the group's head of production, Folker Weissgerber.  In the latest of a series of boardroom dismissals - which saw VW's chief strategist, Jens Neumann, quit last year - Mr Weissgerber, 63, will not be replaced. He leaves on June 30.

VW said responsibility for production would be given to individual brands - a move strengthening the position of Wolfgang Bernhard, who takes over soon as head of the Volkswagen brand. Mr Bernhard, who is credited with helping the US arm of DaimlerChrysler return to profitability through savage cost cuts, has pledged to achieve substantial savings and improve quality at VW.

The group's biggest brand, which includes the profitable Bentley and Skoda marques, lost €44m (£31m) last year compared with a profit of €486m in 2003 and has been losing sales in Europe, China and elsewhere. The Guardian

LeMans publishes approved entries LeMans publishes approved entriesThe 50 participants for the 2005 Le Mans 24 Hours have been selected by organizers Automobile Club d’Ouest (ACO). 14 LMP1 prototypes, another 14 LMP2s, 10 GT1 and 12 GT2 entries comprise the field, set to tackle the world’s most famous endurance race on June 18-19.

For yet another year, the favorites for overall honors will be the Audi R8s, entered by Americans Champion Racing (two) and the French Oreca team (one).

On GT1, the two works Aston Martin DBR9s, winners of the 12 Hours of Sebring, should see stiff competition from two official Corvette C6-Rs and four Ferrari 550s.

The ACO has also nominated eight reserve cars that will take replace any of the confirmed entries if they choose to withdraw prior to late May. The event’s first test day is scheduled for June 5.

2005 Le Mans 24 Hours - Entry list:


*Automatically selected competitors


*Automatically selected competitors


*Automatically selected competitors

Reserve Cars:


TV Azetca gets it wrong TV Azetca gets it wrongTelevisa is showing real interest in Champ Car news, something I wasn't expecting... TvAzteca, who is supposed to televise Champ Car races in Mexico this year has had poor coverage, so poor in fact that they said Champ Car signed a deal to race in Sebring instead of Beijing. Hector Serrano Gonzalez reporting from Mexico
Notes from Mexico Notes from MexicoThere are a couple of notes in the Mexican media about Rodolfo Lavin's future in Champ Car.

From NOTIMEX (Mexico's government press agency): There are only details left to be worked out in his contract negotiations to extend his contract with Forsythe for the 2005 season. "I don’t know how much is left" said Lavin, "Corona is negotiating directly with Forsythe, they (Corona), told me to come to Sebring to get ready for Long Beach. I have to do it better than last year, that was my learning year. My first year (with Walker Racing) I didn't learn a lot and I really started to learn last season. I have the hope to give better results for the team and my sponsor" Lavin added.

Another note from NOTIMEX - Dick Eidswick told the Mexican media that Live timing and Scoring on champcarworldseries.com will be again free for the fans. The Inner Circle Fan Club have reached more than 6,000 members since its launch a couple of weeks ago.

NOTIMEX went on to report that Eidswick has a special interest in beefing up promotion of the race in Monterrey, since the last two years attendance has been decreasing. For that reason he is thinking about scheduling a few demonstration laps around the Macro Plaza (in Monterrey)..."
From Grupo Reforma (EL NORTE & REFORMA): Sandra Becerril from Grupo Reforma had a telephone interview with Roberto Gonzalez. It does not say much, but says that Roberto Gonzalez is confident about its chances to be in the second seat at HVM. "Perhaps next week we will have something definite with the sponsors. We have an option that is very close..."

Thursday HVM owners, including Enrique Hernandez Pons, and Champ Car owners had a meeting to decide if HVM will run with one or two cars. "Looks like, they did not reached an agreement, and it could be in the next few days when a decision may be made" wrote Becerril. Hector Serrano Gonzalez reporting from Mexico

Success in Edmonton Success in EdmontonThis Edmonton Sun article talks about how well things are going in that city for the upcoming Champ Car race.  It also talks about why they did not use the word Indy in their race title like Toronto and Montreal do.
PKV wraps up successful Sebring test PKV wraps up successful Sebring testPKV Racing concluded its preseason program with a two-day test, March 23-24, at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida.  Once again, the team came away pleased with the progress they made in developing both PKV Racing machines in preparation for the start of the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series season a little over two weeks from now at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. 

"I am very pleased with the progress the PKV Racing team made at Sebring and during the entire preseason,” said General Manager Jim McGee.  “The weather limited us a little, but what track time we had, we put to good use.  PKV Racing continued to make steady progress with our aerodynamic and mechanical programs at Sebring in preparation for the start of the 2005 season and I am happy with were we stand at this point with both cars.  Now we will head back to Indiana, review the data we gathered and make some final adjustments.   Overall, PKV Racing is ready for the start of the season and I am confident that we will be competitive,” concluded McGee.

Both Jimmy Vasser, who is behind the wheel of the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine and Cristiano da Matta, who pilots the #21 PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry, participated in the test on the 1.66-mile, seven-turn Sebring “short” road course. 

Vasser, who is in his 14th season of Champ Car competition and second with PKV Racing, ran a total of 230 miles over the two days of testing.  He put in what is referred to as his “50-mile day”, on Wednesday, March 23 because inclement weather, first rain then high winds, prevented the team from putting in a full day of testing.  The “50-mile day” does not count as part of the eight days of testing Vasser is allowed under the Champ Car World Series rules.  On Thursday, March 24, Vasser, the 1996 Series Champion, logged another 180 miles.  While all times were unofficial the native of California, who is the only owner/driver in the series, was extremely competitive running the second fastest time of the 15 drivers testing over the two days.

 “I am very pleased with the progress the PKV Racing team made at Sebring,” Vasser began.  “As I have said several times before, we have a lot of new programs and new people in place this year at PKV Racing, but we have definitely upgraded the team and I am pleased with the way our preseason has gone.  Everyone at PKV Racing is a professional and we have really come together as a team under the leadership of Jim McGee,” Vasser noted.  “This has been a fun and exciting off-season.  PKV Racing has worked hard.  Now I am looking forward to the start of the 2005 season,” Vasser said.

Meanwhile, da Matta, the 2002 Series Champion, did not run on Wednesday because of the weather, but put in a full day of testing on the Thursday.  Da Matta, who is returning to Champ Car for his fifth season after spending the last two years in Formula 1, tallied a total of 213 miles.  The native of Brazil unofficially had the sixth overall fastest time.

Commenting on the test da Matta said, “It is unfortunate that I lost a day to the weather, but that might be a positive because it will give me an extra day of testing during the season if we need it.  Overall, I am very pleased with the way the Sebring test went.  We learned some new things that will help us going into Long Beach and for some of the other races this season.”

Da Matta, who has logged almost 1000 miles in his last three tests, went on to say, “This has been a great preseason for me.  I have run a lot of miles, which has given me the chance to get used to a Champ Car again.  Plus, the atmosphere at PKV Racing is really good.  Jimmy is a great teammate and the guys on the crew work hard, but they also know how to have fun.  It is a very confident, but relaxed team.  We know we are competitive, but we also know that we still have a lot of work to do and we will keep at it all season long.  I am very happy to be at PKV Racing and I am very confident going into the start of the season because the only pressure we feel is the pressure we put on ourselves.”

Next up for PKV Racing is the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series season opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 8-10, on the streets of Long Beach, California.  The race will be broadcast live on NBC.

Kimi Raikkonen seeks a change in fortune Kimi Raikkonen seeks a change in fortuneThe Formula One fraternity moves to the Kingdom of Bahrain for the third Grand Prix of the 2005 Formula One season next weekend. The McLaren Mercedes team travels to the Bahrain International Circuit for the event, which made its Formula One debut last year marking the start of Grand Prix racing's expansion into the Middle East.

After two races in which Kimi Raikkonen has chased Christian Klien's Red Bull across the line, the Finn will be seeking a change in fortunes at Bahrain while Juan Pablo Montoya will be looking to build on his fourth position scored at Sepang.

Following the Malaysian Grand Prix, the team and the MP4-20 cars returned to the McLaren Technology Centre, for the first time since leaving for Australia in late February, to prepare for the Bahrain Grand Prix. The test team have been busy running the MP4-19B's at Paul Ricard.

Kimi Raikkonen "Despite the result in Malaysia, the MP4-20 felt good and I took the fastest lap showing the pace is there. I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel in Bahrain and hopefully having a more positive race. The Bahrain circuit is tough on brakes, with similar wear to Montreal, which is usually the toughest. This is because there are a number of hard braking areas and not much chance for the brakes to cool between. We also learnt last year that conditions can change very quickly in the desert, even during sessions, this can be the temperature, wind speed even rain."

Juan Pablo Montoya "I really enjoyed racing at Bahrain last year, it's a challenging circuit but that makes it interesting to drive. There are a couple of really quick corners that are particularly fun, the first is the right-left-right flicks though turns five, six and seven, which you need to take flat out to get a good lap time. Also, the uphill, sweeping right hander of 12 is pedal to the metal, and you really put your faith in the car through here, as you do through somewhere like Eau Rouge for example. The layout gives you room to push harder, but it is very slippery off line because of the sand and so it's difficult to recover. "

Pedro de La Rosa "Over the past couple of tests, our work with Michelin has focused on tire evaluation programs for Bahrain, culminating in Paul Ricard on Thursday 24th March when we selected which prime and option Michelin to take to the Sakhir race. I was at the test with Alex Wurz, and we completed over 1700 kms of the French track at the wheel of two MP4-19Bs during the course of two days. My work this coming weekend will obviously be fixed on assisting the team in the decision between the prime and option, so hopefully I will have the chance to complete some long runs of the Bahrain track, as I understand it is very demanding on the tires."

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, West McLaren Mercedes "A characteristic of the surface at Bahrain is that it retains heat, and with track temperatures reaching over 50 degrees centigrade. As with Malaysia this demands good grip and durability from our Michelin tires, which was demonstrated in Sepang, and hopefully the West McLaren Mercedes team will be taking advantage of this in Bahrain. This is another hot race, but the conditions are not humid like Sepang and therefore have less of an impact on the teams and the cars. However, the temperature can be very changeable, for example over the course of the Grand Prix last year we saw them range from 30-52 degrees centigrade on track, which is an interesting challenge to ensure the MP4-20 can operate to its optimum at both ends of the scale. Going into the event this year, we of course have a superior data set, having been able to conduct live testing programs in preparations for its unique characteristics alongside the simulation work at the McLaren Technology Centre, which will assist our planned program for Friday's free practice sessions."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport "The team has worked hard since Malaysia to make our package cope well with the special challenges of the Sakhir circuit. Due to its layout with three long straights joined by slow corners and its high grip level the track is very tough on both brakes and tires, and we trust our partner Michelin will continue on the superb level of competitiveness they have shown during the first two Grand Prix of the season. As the circuit is surrounded by desert sand on the track makes it slippery off and sometimes even on the racing line. The heat to be expected in Bahrain could make cooling an issue like in Malaysia. With more than 65 percent the full throttle percentage per lap is above the average of the other circuits on the calendar." McLaren Mercedes

Schumacher happy to race the F2005 Schumacher happy to race the F2005Along with Rubens Barrichello's words of optimism, Michael Schumacher has also expressed his satisfaction at the decision taken by Ferrari to field the F2005 at the Bahrain Grand Prix. "I can only be happy about the decision to use the new car already at the next race," Schumacher stated. "At my first test with it, it gave me a good feeling." The German had his first contact with the F2005 at the Mugello circuit on Wednesday completing 81-laps. "I was able to do a lot of laps," Schumacher continued. "During the day it got going better and better and at the end of the day we had gathered a lot of valuable data. I am looking forward to the first entry of the F2005." Ferrari will take two F2005s to Bahrain, one for each driver. One F2004 M used in Australia and Malaysia will be on hand as the back up car. Ferrari
Barrichello keeps faith in Bridgestone Barrichello keeps faith in BridgestoneRubens Barrichello has had a busy time since the Malaysian Grand Prix. First, he returned to Europe to make his much awaited debut last Tuesday at the wheel of the F2005. Now, he is back in Brazil, before heading off to Manama for the Bahrain Grand Prix. At home in Sao Paulo, Barrichello reflected on what had been an unsatisfactory weekend in Sepang.

“We did not know exactly where we stood until we went into the race,” Barrichello began. “Qualifying had not gone well and we realised we had a problem on new tires. But we were not expecting qualifying to go quite as badly as it did. On race day, it seemed that it got better for our opponents than for us. Having said that, if it had not been for the problem I encountered during the race, I think I would still have finished in the top six.”

For qualifying and the race, Barrichello had opted for a different tire choice to his team-mate, going for the softer of the two Bridgestone tires on offer. However, he did not regard this as the root of his problems.

“If I had to do the race again, I would have made the same tire choice,” he affirmed. “I was looking after the tires and I could keep up a reasonable pace. I was a bit unlucky that three laps before my pit stop, I got stuck behind Webber who was one and a half seconds slower than me."
"It was really difficult to pass him. Other than that, when I pitted and went out again, the balance began to get much worse and the engineers could see a big aero change on the telemetry. There was nothing I could and I had a very oversteering car for 15 laps, which completely wore out the tires.”

While the tires were not the most competitive at the Sepang track, Barrichello feels other factors contributed to his and Michael’s lack of pace. “I don’t think we can put all the blame for our Malaysian difficulties on Bridgestone,” said the Brazilian. “We were racing the F2004 M car and we knew that this would probably be the toughest race of the year to go to Sepang with the old car. Obviously, we had a problem with the tires, but it is not just Bridgestone’s fault. You have to look at the complete package. As we say at Ferrari, we win together and we lose together, so the important thing is to stick together and make things work.”

Finally driving the new car at Mugello has given the Ferrari man cause for optimism. “The new car is quicker,” he stated. “It is particularly amazing to drive through the high speed corners. It is better on the braking and in almost every area. At Mugello, my first impressions were really positive and the car brought a smile to my face. With the F2005 we can really fight the opposition.”

Whatever car Barrichello and Schumacher have at their disposal for the next race, Rubens expects to be competitive and be in much better shape than Malaysia. “We were very competitive in Bahrain last year, winning the race by half a lap, so we should have a much better race there than we did in Malaysia. You only have to look at how we performed in Melbourne, which was a very good weekend for us from start to finish.”
Barrichello is looking forward to returning to the desert where last year, he started on the front row alongside pole-man Schumacher and finished in second place behind his team-mate. “It is not an easy circuit for overtaking as the surface is very slippery off the racing line,” he recalled. “It is a busy track with a mix of tight and high-speed corners. Last year, I enjoyed it very much. It is very unique and fun. Last year on Sunday morning we could not even see the circuit because of a sand storm and that was certainly a new experience! It has its own character and the country has a different culture to what we are used to, which is always interesting.”

And can he expect a better car-tire package for the third round of the championship? “Bridgestone knows what needs to be done,” concluded Barrichello. “Remember in 2003 when they had a problem, they recovered very well. The tires need to improve and there is much to be done, but I am sure Bridgestone can turn the situation around.” Ferrari

Virginia steps up bid for NASCAR HOF Virginia steps up bid for NASCAR HOFDozens of area companies have stepped up with financial donations, logistical support and offers of free services including air time and billboards for Virginians Racing for The Hall of Fame, a non-profit group dedicated to bringing the NASCAR Hall of Fame to the Greater Richmond Metropolitan Area. "The response has been fantastic," Fritz said. "The Richmond community realizes what a unique opportunity this is and what having the NASCAR Hall of Fame would mean for our area. I feel great about our chances. Now it's just a matter of fitting the pieces together into a winning proposal."
Singer of National Anthem at Atlanta Apologizes Singer of National Anthem at Atlanta ApologizesJohn Michael Montgomery has apologized to anyone offended by his performance of the national anthem prior to Sunday's Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and blamed a medical condition called acoustic neuroma. "Please accept my sincerest apologies for offending anyone; it was certainly not my intention," said Montgomery in a statement on his Web site. "I will continue to see the doctors as we try to determine the best course of action to remedy the acoustic neuroma condition." Montgomery said the condition leaves the sufferer with a lack of balance. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
Grand Prix Masters
Fittipaldi eyes Masters Fittipaldi eyes MastersEmerson Fittipaldi is the latest driver to consider a return to racing in the new Grand Prix Masters series.  The 58-year-old Brazilian, attended the launch of the GPM series in South Africa at this week’s motor show in Durban. He stated that he intends to try the car in testing and then make a decision as to whether to take part in the Kyalami race scheduled for November.  “GPM is a great idea – I like the concept,” said Fittipaldi of the one-make single-seater series for former F1 drivers over the age of 35. “I want to test when the car is ready in the summer. I don’t know if I will race, but it would certainly be fun.  I hear Alan Jones is doing it, so it would be good to race against him again.”

Former F1 World Champions Emerson Fittipaldi, Jody Scheckter, Nigel Mansell, Keke Rosberg and Alan Jones were among the stars present at the official launch of the Grand Prix Masters Series at the Durban Motor Show in South Africa.  The championship is scheduled to make its first appearance at the Kyalami circuit next November, then hold its first full, six-race season in 2006. As part of the promotion Rene Arnoux is due to drive a car through the streets of central Durban.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
F2005 to debut - Ferrari
JV may 'walk away' - DC
Speed - 'Wow!'
Cold water on Indian GP
Mark 'beautiful' Webber
Grove car 'not quick enough'
Toyota cancel Ricard run
Mosley - 'excellent start'
McLaren boost for Spain
Sauber silent over JV future
Stoddart 'unrepentant'
'Masters' car unveiled
F1 used to 'laugh' at Flav
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