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Bessette wins pole after Zwolsman disqualified Bessette wins pole after Zwolsman disqualifiedA dramatic story had a less-than-happy ending Saturday for European racer Charles Zwolsman (#11 Condor Motorsports) in his first weekend of competition in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama.

The 25-year-old native of The Netherlands appeared to have claimed the pole position for Sunday’s 2005 Atlantic season opener on the streets of Long Beach, but a post-qualifying technical inspection revealed a violation in the rookie’s Condor Motorsports entry. As a result of the infraction, Zwolsman lost all of his posted times for the weekend and instead of starting from the front of the field, he will start at the back of the 19-car grid.

Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design) reaped the benefits of Zwolsman’s misfortune as the first-year Canadian driver earned the pole position on the strength of his fast lap of 1:19.375 (89.257 mph). Bessette, who also led Friday’s first-round of Atlantic qualifying, will start from the point in Sunday’s 32-lap Imperial Capital Bank Challenge for the Toyota Atlantic Championship (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel - Saturday, April 16 at 2 p.m. ET). After earning a point for winning the provisional pole, the 23-year-old Bessette now owns the first two championship points of the season and he also claimed the $1,000 Toyota pole award for securing his first career series pole.

Brooks Associates Racing rookie teammates Andreas Wirth (#8 KBE/Profine/Wurges Windows and Doors) and Fernando Rees (#10 Bahia/Natal/Santa Catarina) will both enjoy stellar starting positions in their Atlantic debuts on Sunday. Wirth will start second after recording a fast lap of 1:19.641 (88.959 mph) while Rees recorded a time of 1:19.723 (88.868 mph) and will line up third on the grid.

American racer Chris Dyson will enjoy his best starting position in his third Atlantic start. The New York native posted a time of 1:19.870 (88.704 mph) and will take tomorrow’s green flag in fourth position. Another American driver, Rocky Moran Jr., will make his fifth career Long Beach start coming from fifth position after he qualified with a time of 1:19.903 (88.668 mph) in the top C2 class entry in the field.

After running among the top three drivers in each Atlantic session of the weekend, second-year driver Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK ind./TMI/Redline Oil) also experienced qualifying misfortune on Saturday. The Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis driver got together with rookie Brian McAtee (#19 Superior Warranty/Fleet Auto Sales) on only his fifth lap of the session and was forced to sit for the remainder of qualifying. His best lap of 1:19.994 (88.567 mph) will enable him to start sixth on Sunday.

First-year racer Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing) also was involved in an incident in qualifying. The talented British driver was running strong in the 30-minute session before she tagged the wall in Turn 9 and lost her fast lap time for causing a stoppage in qualifying. She still posted a time of 1:20.027 (88.530 mph) and will start seventh in her Atlantic debut.

Pos Car# Driver    Best time Team
1 3 Antoine Bessette (R)  1:19.375 Polestar Racing
2 8 Andreas Wirth (R)  1:19.641  Brooks Associates Racing
3 10 Fernando Rees (R)  1:19.723  Brooks Associates Racing
4 16 Chris Dyson (R)   1:19.870  Dyson Racing
5 5 Rocky Moran Jr      1:19.903  P-1 Racing
6 6 Tonis Kasemets    .. 1:19.994 Dan Cobb Racing
7 12 Katherine Legge (R) 1:20.027 Polestar Racing
8 24 Kyle Kelley (R)    1:21.363 McAtee Motorsports
9 49 Dan Selznick   1:21.963   The Room Store
10 23 Tom Nastasti (R)   1:22.459  Blackforest Motorsports

Now may be last chance to reunite Champ Car/IRL Now may be last chance to reunite Champ Car/IRLWith Champ Car eyeing new cars and engines for 2007 and the IRL due for a change then as well because the current engine contracts expire at the end of 2006, now may be the last chance to get the two sides together. If Toyota leaves the IRL to go NASCAR racing as rumored (speculation), we doubt Honda will stick around long to race against themselves, they just are not that sort of company. That could be the impetus for Tony George to finally give in and agree to a merger. He must look at his plummeting TV ratings despite huge amounts of money being thrown down the rathole and realize it's not working.

How could a merger work? Simple. Two divisions, call them National and American, East and West, .......whatever, all running to identical chassis and engine rules. Each would run a 15 or so race schedule to crown a division champion, plus there would be three playoff races (Indy 500 being one of them) between the two series (33 starters - fastest 16 from each division plus a promoters choice based on qualifying time) to crown the overall champion.

Turn the current deep rooted and emotional rivalry between Champ Car and the IRL from a negative to a positive by bringing everyone together under one umbrella, working toward a common goal, and creating a friendly division rivalry like we see in most sports. Any rational man would agree that together the two sides would be stronger and more successful. Tony George, are you listening? Once both sides have all new cars and engines in 2007, it will be too late. The time is now.......or never. Mark Cipolloni

Rossi wins MotoGP pole Rossi wins MotoGP poleReigning world champion Valentino Rossi will start from pole position at the opening round of the 2005 MotoGP World Championship after a record breaking performance in this afternoon's qualifying session for the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez. Rossi smashed his own pole position record from last season by almost 1.5 seconds as he rode his Yamaha to a time of 1min 39.419secs, holding off the challenge of closest rival Sete Gibernau by a whopping 0.496 seconds.

"My fast lap was incredible!" smiled Valentino afterwards. "Michelin made a great job with the qualifying tires – my first one was good but the second was even better. There is a big question mark over the tire choice for the race tomorrow because after a few laps they start to slide a lot, but it's the same situation for everyone," he added. "Now we're just looking for good weather tomorrow and hopefully it will be a beautiful race."

Labonte scores historic win in M'Ville Labonte scores historic win in M'VilleBobby Labonte scored a much-needed and historic win in the Kroger 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event April 9 at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va.

Labonte, who defeated Ricky Craven by .257 of a second, became the 12th driver to win in all three of NASCAR’s top divisions and the first driver to win a race at the same track in all three divisions. He won a Busch Series race at Martinsville in Oct. 1992 and a NEXTEL Cup event at the half-mile track in April 2002.

“I had a great truck,” Labonte said. “Randy Goss (crew chief) and the entire Morgan Dollar crew worked so hard. I can’t thank Chevrolet enough for the chance to run these truck races. They are a ton of fun.”

Labonte started fifth and led laps 61-94, before making his first pit stop in the No. 47 Rodeway Inn/Econo Lodge/Trick Pony Chevrolet Silverado. He remained in contention throughout the day and, after his second and final pit stop under caution on lap 138, he restarted in 13th on lap 143. He steadily worked his way through the field and on lap 221 of the 250-lap event, he passed Chad Chaffin for the lead in Turn 3. Two more cautions came out while he was in the lead, but Labonte managed to hold of Craven and Ron Hornaday Jr. in route to victory.

“I knew Hornaday would make a hard run on that last restart, so I knew I had to have a good restart to try and get away,” Labonte said. “He and Ricky (Craven) were beating and banging behind me, and it gave me just enough to get away.”

Labonte won in his just his fifth start in the Craftsman Truck Series and scored his third top-five. He finished third in the fall 2004 race at Martinsville and finished second to Hornaday by just .008 of a second in March 2005 at Atlanta. Each race was with Morgan-Dollar Motorsports.

“We’ve come close a couple of times, but we finally got it,” Labonte said. “This is a great track, I love to race here and I am proud of finally getting this trophy.”

Labonte became the 50th different driver to win the truck series and, he and brother, Terry, became the first set of brothers to win in the series. Terry Labonte won at Richmond in Sept. 1995. The Labonte brothers have a combined eight starts in the Craftsman Truck Series (Bobby with five and Terry with three, all in 1995) and have two victories and six top-three victories.

Champ Car announces new international TV deals Champ Car announces new international TV dealsThe international flavor of the Champ Car World Series has been well-documented over its long history and been increased even more at the start of the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season, with Team Australia Racing joining the series along with new drivers from Italy, Denmark, Brazil and Sweden joining the fray this week.

The influx of new international talent has not only helped the on-track product, but has also increased the demand for information and coverage of the Champ Car World Series worldwide. To meet that demand, Champ Car has made great strides in its television package in 2005. The increase has come not only in the United States with network coverage on NBC and CBS along with cable partner SPEED Channel, but also internationally as a number of new agreements have been signed for the new campaign.

The entire 2005 television package represents an 86 percent increase from 2004, a 125 percent increase outside of the U.S. and a boost of nearly 1000 percent on the European continent.

“We have worked very hard to improve our television package from a year ago and we think that this year’s lineup is a strong step in that direction,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “We feel that the increased coverage will deliver many benefits to the teams, drivers, sponsors and fans of the series.”

Major gains have been made across the board in Europe, paced by a new agreement with Eurosport that delivers a potential reach of 98 million households. New agreements have been signed this year in Holland, India, Japan and Sweden with improved agreements coming in Asia with Ten Sports, Brazil, Canada, Central America with FOX Sports Latin America and Mexico with TV Azteca.

The increased international presence, when combined with the improved domestic package, pushes the total number of potential households to 464,800,000 with a reach of approximately 1.7 billion viewers. Those fans will be watching one of the most internationally-diverse fields anywhere in motorsports as 12 countries are represented among the 19 drivers that will take the green flag Sunday afternoon at the season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Partial List
Asia (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka)
Ten Sports
 Australia & New Zealand
Channel 10 (live races)
RedeTV (live races)
TSN (English)
Global TV (English)
RDS (French)
 Central, South America & Caribbean
Fox Sports Latin America (delayed races)
TV Hoy (2004 Highlights)
 Europe (54 countries)
Eurosport (live races)
AB Moteurs (highlights)
Raceworld TV (highlights)
Telenova (highlights)
SportItalia (highlights)
 Middle East
Fox Sports Middle East (delayed races)
TV Azteca
Teledeporte (highlights)
TVE (only exerpts of races)
Sport Expressen
Motors TV (highlights)
Raceworld (highlights)

Kasemets to top of Atlantic charts Kasemets to top of Atlantic chartsFour of the top five times in Saturday morning's 30-minute Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama practice session at Long Beach were posted by rookie drivers in the series. The only Atlantic veteran in the top five, however, owned the quickest lap of the morning as second-year driver Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK ind./TMI/Redline Oil) of Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis led the way with a lap of 1:20.202 (88.337 mph).

After finishing with the second-fastest time of the day on Friday in the opening-round of qualifying, Kasemets continued his strong performance in this weekend's 2005 season opener at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach as he consistently produced fast laps on the 1.968-mile street circuit.

With a quick time of 1:20.575 (87.928 mph), British racer Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing) owned the second-fastest lap of this morning's practice. Preparing for her first Atlantic start on Sunday, the 24-year-old Legge got off on the good foot Friday by carding the third-fastest time in provisional qualifying.

Legge's teammate and fellow rookie at Polestar Racing Group, Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design), locked up a front-row starting spot for Sunday's lidlifter after pacing Friday's qualifying. The Quebec native recorded the third-fastest lap this morning, despite fighting traffic in front of him as he had a top time of 1:20.676 (87.818 mph).

Bourdais tops Tracy in AM practice Bourdais tops Tracy in AM practiceSebastien Bourdais was almost 6/10ths of a second clear of Paul Tracy in this morning's Champ Car practice session at Long Beach.
Pos Driver # Lap Time Mph Behind Leader
1 S. Bourdais 1 1:08.190 103.898  N/A
2 P. Tracy 3 1:08.781 103.005 0.591
3 J. Wilson 9 1:08.904 102.821 0.714
4 B. Junqueira 2 1:08.935 102.775 0.745
5 T. Glock 8 1:08.966 102.729 0.776
6 A. Tagliani 15 1:08.978 102.711 0.788
7 A. Allmendinger 10 1:09.269 102.280 1.079
8 O. Servia 19 1:09.429 102.044 1.239
9 M. Dominguez 7 1:09.508 101.928 1.318
10 C. da Matta 21 1:09.674 101.685 1.484
11 R. Bremer 55 1:09.685 101.669 1.495
12 J. Vasser 12 1:09.867 101.404 1.677
13 N. Philippe 34 1:09.998 101.214 1.808
14 R. Hunter-Reay 31 1:10.049 101.141 1.859
15 A. Ranger 27 1:10.153 100.991 1.963
16 B. Wirdheim 4 1:10.288 100.797 2.098
17 R. Sperafico 11 1:11.298 99.369 3.108
18 M. Marshall 5 1:11.509 99.076 3.319
19 F. Del Monte 41 1:12.056 98.324 3.866
Overheard in Long Beach III Overheard in Long Beach IIIKevin Kalkhoven flew a group from the Ansan, South Korea race up to Las Vegas last night on his private jet for a night out on the town.  Wonder where to and who he is flying tonight?............We hear a press release on the international TV deal Champ Car has put together will be released sometime today. 
Tracy gets married again Tracy gets married againCongratulations to Paul Tracy who got married this past week to new wife Patty. It was so secret even his mother Vivienne did not know until yesterday.  It's the third marriage for Paul.  Best of luck to the couple.
Friday Champ Car attendance Friday Champ Car attendanceOrganizers say it was a good start for their annual Long Beach Grand Prix, and with the weather promising to hold up through Sunday, with sunny skies and moderate temperatures, crowds could exceed the 170,000-plus predicted earlier, race organizers say.  Race organizers who did not want to be quoted said attendance was up Friday from the previous year when an estimated 50,000 fans came through the turnstiles. Mark C.
Long Beach decision by end of May Long Beach decision by end of MayAlthough time is of the essence, Long Beach GP President Michaelian says he is looking to have a decision on Champ Car vs. IRL in about six weeks time.  They (Champ Car and IRL) need to know, and we need to know. There are television schedules, race schedules to do and it is in everyone’s interest to get this done quickly.”
Toyota Pro/Celebrity race today Toyota Pro/Celebrity race todayThe field for the 29th Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race today includes:

Amanda Beard, seven-time medalist with the U.S. Olympic swim team
Simon Cowell, "American Idol" judge and author
Patrick Dempsey, actor, with credits including "Sweet Home Alabama," "Iron Jawed Angels," "Once & Again"
Michael Irvin, former wide receiver with the Dallas Cowboys, who has three Super Bowl appearances
Orlando Jones, actor, "Father of the Pride," "Drumline," and "The Replacements"
John Leguizamo, actor, "Assault on Precinct 13," "Moulin Rouge!" "Ice Age" and "Summer of Sam"
Karl Malone, recently retired NBA forward, formerly of the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers
Misty May, Long Beach-area resident and gold medalist with the U.S. Olympic beach volleyball team
Meat Loaf, singer
Dave Mirra, professional BMX rider and 14-time X Games medalist
Mo'Nique, "Soul Plane," "The Parkers," and "It's Showtime at the Apollo"
Aaron Piersol, four-time medalist with the U.S. Olympic swim team
Ingo Rademacher, actor, "General Hospital," "Titans"
Henry Simmons, "NYPD Blue," "Taxi," and "Are We There Yet?"
Nicollette Sheridan, actress, "Desperate Housewives," "Knots Landing," and "The Sure Thing"
Mark Steines, anchor, "Entertainment Tonight"

 The soap opera actor named Ingo Rademacher, who races motorcycles, took the pole with authority for the Pro/Celebrity race. He not only clocked in the best celebrity lap in 1:47.079, but his fastest time was better than the four pros competing in the race.

Vasser finds IRL amusing Vasser finds IRL amusingVeteran driver Jimmy Vasser was amused by the comments coming out of St. Petersburg, Fla., last week after the Indy Racing League's first street race. "It was like they invented it," the 1996 CART champion said. "They're morphing into what CART used to be. What does that tell you? That the IRL failed with the business model it started with." Indy Star
New Minardi passes first test New Minardi passes first testAfter the PS05 passed the FIA crash test on Friday Christijan Albers will be testing the new Minardi PS05 April 15th at the Mugello circuit in Italy. Albers will test the new car only one day in preparation of the San Marino Grand Prix. Albers will be the only Minardi driver active in Mugello. On Wednesday Christijan will visit the Minardi factory in Faenza to fit a new seat. Then the next day Albers will busy himself in the Bologna gym. 

"I am glad the Minardi team has made a good step forward this season. There are more days of testing than in the previous seasons which is obviously great for the development of the PS05," Albers said. "I am looking forward to go back to the factory in Faenza and to see the final result of the PS05. Friday will be an important day for the Minardi team, the first outing of the PS05 will be a special moment for the entire team."

The Minardi team will be back in action again after the San Marino Grand Prix. The Italian team continues testing on April 27 and 28 in Mugello again.

BAR conclude massive Spanish test BAR conclude massive Spanish testIn an exhaustive two-car, three-day, four-driver test at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona this week, BAR Honda broke its own lap record - set over a year ago by Takuma Sato - and completed 719 laps reliably, the equivalent to over 11 Grand Prix distances.

This week's test focused on aerodynamic upgrades, running the latest specification engine from Honda and completing a full evaluation program with tire partner Michelin. The test provided a big boost for everyone at BAR Honda who have worked tirelessly on performance improvements for the start of the European season.

Jenson Button and Anthony Davidson started the test on Wednesday driving chassis 007-01 and the new chassis 007-05 respectively. After both drivers completed early set-up runs, Button worked exclusively on aerodynamic upgrade evaluations to complete a total of 109 laps. Davidson concentrated on evaluating tire options for the Spanish Grand Prix, whilst also running the engine to its target mileage. He completed a very impressive 143 laps.

Button remained in chassis 007-01 on Thursday and continued his aerodynamic evaluation. He completed 141 laps setting the fastest time of the day - a 01:13.552, a new lap record for the Circuit de Catalunya. Takuma joined the test driving chassis 007-05. He spent the early part of the morning on set-up runs, followed by a tire evaluation which he continued into the afternoon, completing a total of 121 laps. With Sato's program completed, and making the most of the track time available, Enrique Bernoldi took over for the last ninety minutes working mainly on the set-up of the car, completing 21 laps.
Sato and Bernoldi continued the driving responsibilities on Friday with Sato remaining in chassis 007-05 and Bernoldi moving to chassis 007-01.

With the rain coming down intermittently throughout the day, both drivers ran through an intermediate wet tire program. Bernoldi ran for a total of 65 laps taking the engine past its target mileage before it finally failed. He did not run again having completed his day's objectives. By late afternoon, the track had dried sufficiently to move onto grooved tires and Sato ran through an aerodynamic evaluation. He completed a total of 129 laps today. BAR Honda

Milwaukee Busch race gets sponsor Milwaukee Busch race gets sponsorThe Milwaukee Mile, which lacked a title sponsor for its NASCAR Busch Series race last year, has reached a deal with telecommunications giant SBC to back the event.  Under the agreement announced Thursday, the June 25 event on the track at Wisconsin's State Fair Park will be known as the SBC 250.  It is the 14th appearance of NASCAR's No. 2 division on the Milwaukee Mile's schedule since 1984.  The deal with SBC covers two years with an option for a third, but specific terms were not disclosed.  Further sponsorship announcements are imminent, Milwaukee Mile general manager Mark Perrone said.
Gentilozzi fastest in Trans-Am Gentilozzi fastest in Trans-AmPaul Gentilozzi set the fastest time Friday for Sunday’s Cytomax Challenge, the season opener for the Trans-Am Series, at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Gentilozzi—driving one of two Rocketsports Racing Jaguar XKRs in the field equipped with Jaguar’s production-based, overhead-cam, fuel-injected AJ-V8—turned the 1.968-mile temporary street course in one minute, 23.386 seconds (84.964 miles per hour).

Gentilozzi (No. 1 Jaguar R Performance XKR) led Boris Said (No. 33 Applied Computer Solutions Ford Mustang), and Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette), representing a three-marque spread in the top three times. Greg Pickett (No. 6 Cytomax Jaguar XKR) and Max Lagod (No. 83 Hypermax Chevrolet Corvette) completed the top five:

Second-round practice is scheduled for this afternoon, at 4:15 p.m. Qualifying is schedule for tomorrow at 9:45 a.m. The Cytomax Challenge, Round 1 of the 2005 Trans-Am Championship and part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend, is scheduled for Sunday, April 10 at 3:45 p.m., immediately following the Champ Car World Series event. Sunday’s race will air on a tape-delayed basis, Sunday, April 17 on SPEED Channel at 1:30 p.m. EDT.

Ward really wants Nextel Cup ride Ward really wants Nextel Cup rideWard Burton has been spending extra time this spring with his Wildlife Foundation, but he'd still rather be back racing. Burton has been idle this season, waiting for a car owner to make the call. And he's not willing to run Busch or Trucks. "Right now I still consider myself a Cup racer," Burton said. "Whether I get the opportunity to go back in the fashion I was before, we'll have to wait and see. I won't go back just to ride around. I'll go back with something exciting, with a name team, with the kind of support you need now more than ever. I miss a lot of it. But there's some of it I don't miss. The schedule going from this weekend until Thanksgiving with only one weekend off doesn't appeal to me." Winston Salem Journal
NASCAR beats NBA NASCAR beats NBAFox's broadcast of last Sunday's Food City 500 Nextel Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway not only posted the track's highest rating ever (6.3), but it also earned higher ratings than ABC's NBA games in the four home markets that had their teams playing during race coverage. The Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reports that more people watched NASCAR than the NBA in Boston, Dallas, Minneapolis and Philadelphia. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
More on battle for Long Beach More on battle for Long BeachThis Long Beach Press Telegram article says, To understand the canyonesque divide in American open-wheel racing and where the Long Beach Grand Prix fits, one must time travel back to the mid-19th Century and the bloodiest conflict in American history.

The Civil War broke out in 1861, cutting the country in half literally and figuratively. Eleven states broke away from the union, the war lasted five years, there were more than 600,000 deaths, and the heaviest fighting was in Virginia, the northern-most state in the confederacy.

Open-wheel racing's civil war began in 1995, when Tony George launched the Indy Racing League (IRL) to compete against the stronger, established Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) tour, now known as Champ Car. The war is in its second decade, there have been many casualties, and, at the moment, Long Beach is Virginia.

The 31st edition of The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Sunday may appear to be the latest great race along Shoreline Drive, but since this is the last year of the race's contract with Champ Car, it's become a key battleground between the two groups with the health of the industry at stake.

George wants Long Beach. It would become the foundation of IRL's plan to add street and road races to its schedule that until this year was limited to ovals. Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe, the former race team owners who purchased Champ Cap in February of 2004, want to keep it, since it's the most successful and best-known event of the series.

It's certainly nice to be wanted and a free agent. But if only it was that simple. In this tug-of-war for Long Beach, both sides have many blisters. Long Beach is the prize, but we're not sure either suitor is worthy.  More.... [Editor's Note: This article is a good continuation of our recent article on this topic.]

Newman slams the IRL Newman slams the IRLOn the heels of the IRL attempting to grab the Long Beach Grand Prix from Champ Car, Paul Newman took the gloves off and let millions TV viewers know what most race fans already know.  Paul Newman publicly humiliated the IRL on the tonight show Friday with Jay Leno saying that anything the IRL touches fails.  The IRL was trying to use a decent attendance at St. Petersburg to justify their ability to stage a street circuit race to Dover Motorsports, which worked until the TV ratings came out which were a 0.4 on ESPN, even lower than the 0.6 they garnered on ESPN for their season opener in Homestead. 
Face of Champ Car Face of Champ CarProcon Leisure, Australia's foremost beauty contest organizers have secured an agreement with Champ Car to organize a new event called Face of Champ Car - the World's largest grid girl contest. This is an international contest, culminating in the choosing of one exceptional girl who will receive a promotional contract to promote the Champ Car World Series.

To tie in with the Champ Car World Series image, the official grid outfit, traditionally red and white, has been redesigned to take on the colors and branding of the Champ Car World Series.

This year the Face of Champ Car will be a fully recognized support event by the Champ Car World Series at six races. Each event will have its own identity all under the umbrella of the Face of Champ Car.

Miss Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - Long Beach, Cal. April 9th
Miss Grand Prix Cleveland - Cleveland, Ohio June 23rd
Miss Molson Indy - Toronto, Canada July 9th
Miss Grand Prix Edmonton - Edmonton, Canada July 15th
Miss Grand Prix San Jose - San Jose, Cal. July 30th
Bartercard Miss Indy - Surfers Paradise, Australia Oct 20th

The winners from each of the 6 races will be flown to Mexico City for the last race of the season, to contest for the ultimate honor of being chosen 'Face of Champ Car' and a representative contract as the ambassadorship for the Champ Car World Series. The winner will become 'The Face" of the Champ Car World Series in 2006!

PROCON is an international promotion company licensing events in over 50 countries. They started Miss Indy at the Surfer's Paradise (Australia) race in 1992 as a local support event to the Champ Car World Series and has since grown to a National Event in Australia, attracting some 2,000 entrants in 2004 from across every state and territory in Australia as well as New Zealand.! Five years ago Procon Leisure expanded the contest by organizing the Miss Molson Indy Vancouver and 2 years later Miss Molson Indy Toronto. Last year the first USA competition was held - the Miss Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

NASCAR destroying short track racing NASCAR destroying short track racingIn the middle of this entire finger pointing is NASCAR itself, far from being without fault. In fact one of the biggest factors in the falling off of popularity in short track racing today can directly be attributed to NASCAR’s decision to increase the number of times the Cup cars race under the lights. It is not that people don’t love the night races at the short tracks; it is that they are offered a choice that is difficult to turn down, that being televised Cup racing at night. NASCAR put its NEXTEL Cup night racing in direct competition with the local short tracks and the regional racing, both of which have traditionally raced on Saturday night. They in fact scheduled 9 night races for 2005. That is nine Saturday’s a promoter risks losing money, in fact a few promoters choose to let their tracks go dark on those nights. Night racing in Cup is a savvy business decision by NASCAR. It makes no sense to blame them for wanting success. And few will deny there is anything to compete with the excitement of 40+ Cup cars racing under the lights, but is it worth the sacrifice of our local short tracks and local regional racing series? Could NASCAR have gotten by without it and should NASCAR now shoulder some of the blame for the state of affairs at some of our local tracks and ironically in some of NASCAR’s own smaller series? RacingWest.com
New Indy surface causes tire problems New Indy surface causes tire problemsAfter a winter of curing and settling, the new pavement on the 2.5mile oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was finally ready for an Indy car. Planned as a private two day Firestone tire test beginning on Tuesday, drivers including Buddy Rice and Sam Hornish, Jr., would evaluate tires for this years Indianapolis 500. Unfortunately, undisclosed issues arose almost immediately forcing the test to be called off on Tuesday afternoon.

“We don't have anything that's jumping out at us. I think everybody was being a little extra cautious. I think they experienced something they (Firestone Tire) had never seen before and unexpected. At that point in time it's better to go evaluate it than it is to try to run through something that you don't know what's going on,” said Brian Barnhart, Indy Racing League President.

IMS owner, Tony George, indicated this was an issue that the track and Firestone were working to identify. George said it may not be an issue specific to the Firestone tires or the track but a combination of the two. Tire compound and track surface compatibility can be difficult to create, especially with new pavements which are known to be highly abrasive.

Barnhart expects Firestone to return for another test at the Speedway in the next two weeks, though nothing has been scheduled yet. The next IndyCar race is at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan on April 30th. However, the equipment will be packed for transport a week earlier, creating a bit of a time crunch for Firestone to produce new tires and get them tested at Indy.

There are some teams planning Indy only efforts, including Sam Schmidt Motorsports who could be used by Firestone for testing while the regular teams are in Japan, though that has not been determined at this time. Excerpts from Racing-Live [Editor's Note: Speculation is that the track surface may be diamond grinded in the corners.]

Industry News
GM pulls ads from LA Times GM pulls ads from LA TimesGeneral Motors Corp. said Thursday it will stop advertising in the Los Angeles Times, citing unspecified "factual errors" in the newspaper's coverage.  The automaker decided this week to pull its ads from the fourth-largest U.S. newspaper by circulation, "based on strongly voiced objections from our dealers in California about factual errors and misrepresentations in the Times' editorial coverage," GM spokesman Brian Akre said.  GM's decision comes a day after the Times' automotive columnist Dan Neil, a 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner, called on the company to "dump" Chairman and CEO Richard Wagoner. Akre said the company's move wasn't triggered by a single article.   California's largest daily newspaper, a unit of Chicago- based Tribune Co., said it's aware of GM's concerns and is examining them.  Detroit Free Press
Industry News
China car sales increase in March China car sales increase in MarchChinese automakers sold 574,300 passenger vehicles in the first quarter of this year, a decrease of 7.69 percent from the same period in 2004, an industry association reported.   There was a slight uptick in March, with passenger vehicle sales rising 2.48 percent in the quarter to 256,000, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said.  The March result was 72.8 percent higher than sales in February, when demand was lackluster because of the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday.  The data include sales to dealerships of sedans, some multipurpose vehicles and sport-utility vehicles. It does not include vehicles sold by dealers from existing inventories.  During the first three months of 2005, Beijing Hyundai Motor Co. ranked as the top seller, with sales of 56,100 passenger vehicles, nearly 2.6 times the number it sold in the same period of 2004, the report said.  Detroit Free Press
One hundred years on One hundred years onOne hundred years ago, the Gordon Bennett Cup was held on the Circuit d'Auvergne, near Clermont-Ferrand. The Gordon Bennett Cup was the forerunner of Grand Prix racing in which nations competed to win the prize. The event was won by a Frenchman called Leon Thery in a Richard-Brasier.

This year no fewer than 150 vintage and luxury cars will return to the Clermont Ferrand to celebrate the centenary of the event. Participants will come from Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, France, Switzerland, Mexico and United States and will use the same circuit as in 1905. Five of the cars will be original competitors in Gordon Bennett Cup.

Michelin has recently gone to great expense to rebuild one of the two surviving Richard-Brasiers in the world and the car is entered for the big event in the original blue colour scheme as was seen 100 years ago.

The Cup was named after James Gordon Bennett, a wealthy American newspaper man. He made his name initially funding the exploration of Africa. Ejected from polite society in New York for having urinated in a fireplace while visiting his fiancee, he settled in Paris and in 1887 established the Paris Herald. He lived an extravagant lifestyle but was an important sponsor of a series of transport-related competitions, including bicycle, motorboat, yacht and balloon races. There were six Gordon Bennett Cup races for automobiles between 1900 and 1905 and these played an important role in the development of international motor racing. The international automobile federation, for example, came about as a result of a meeting of national clubs at the Gordon Bennett Cup race in Bad Homberg in Germany in 1904. The competition was abandoned in 1906 when the Automobile Club de France decided to host its own "Grand Prix".... Grandprix.com
Overheard in Long Beach I Overheard in Long Beach IWe heard in Long Beach that one of the reasons the broadcast quality of last year's Champ Car races on SpikeTV Champ Car was so bad was due to the fact that Spike was multicasting the signal of 10 shows off the same satellite dish requiring the bandwidth and picture quality be reduced to 1/10th of the quality coming off the camera. That won't happen this year so the picture brightest and clarity should be much better. Look for new graphics and new features. Most races will be 2.5 hour broadcasts except for Long Beach and Milwaukee which will be 2 hours.
Newman and Gidley on Leno show Newman and Gidley on Leno showUPDATE Reminder that this show is on tonight on NBC. 04/07/05 Long-time Champ Car team owner and legendary actor Paul Newman will carry the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford flag into battle Friday night as he appears on NBC's famed Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Newman, who co-owns the 2004 series championship-winning Newman/Haas Racing team, will appear on the NBC late-night program Friday night at 11:30 p.m., talking with host Jay Leno about his movie career as well as the Champ Car World Series, which opens its season on the streets of Long Beach this weekend.

After their discussion, the scene will shift to the parking lot where Newman will square off against Leno in a go-kart race, with play-by-play commentary provided by Champ Car television announcer Derek Daly. Newman and former Champ Car driver Memo Gidley will then leave the set in the 750 hp two-seat Champ Car.
Bessette on provisional pole in Long Beach Bessette on provisional pole in Long BeachAfter just one day of official competition in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama one thing is clear when it comes to the driving style of rookie Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design) – the talented Canadian responds well to the color red.

Bessette paced both Toyota Atlantic on-track sessions on Friday as the 2005 season officially got underway at the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. In both the morning practice session and the first round of qualifying, the 23-year-old Bessette turned the fastest lap among all 19 drivers immediately following a late red-flag caution period.

With a top lap of 1:19.974 (88.598 mph), Bessette grabbed the provisional pole position for Sunday’s 32-lap race on the 1.968-mile circuit on the streets of Long Beach. The St. Bruno, Quebec native carded that quick time on his 14th and final lap of qualifying. An on-track incident between two cars brought out a red flag and stopped qualifying late in the session. With only two minutes remaining in the opening-round of qualifying, the full field got the green flag and had to hustle to try to post a quick time. Bessette was able to get up to speed quickly, producing his top lap before seeing the checkered flag to end the session.

“For me, this is a dream come true just to be able to drive the Atlantic car. To be P-1 (on the pole) is special. I’m working hard with the team. Polestar is very good to work with. I think (starting up front) is really important because of the famous wall. Turn 1 is very hard. I’m so glad to be on the front row (for the race). It feels good because we have a lot of room to improve.”

Bessette, who joined Polestar Racing Group this season after finishing third in the 2004 North American Formula Renault Championship, secures a front-row starting spot for Sunday’s season opener after leading today’s qualifying and he also claims the first championship point available this season for his efforts.

After running among the top three in both sessions on Friday, sophomore Atlantic driver Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK ind./TMI/Redline Oil) finished with the second-fastest time of the day at 1:19.994 (88.567 mph). The Mundelein, Illinois resident is one of only six drivers in the field with experience racing at Long Beach and he took advantage of that knowledge on Friday in his debut for Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis.

Bessette’s Polestar teammate, Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing), also came out of the gates with a strong showing on Friday. After leading qualifying early on, the promising young female racer finished the day with the third-fastest time of 1:20.192 (88.348 mph) in her Atlantic debut.

Veteran Atlantic driver and California native Rocky Moran Jr. (#5 King Taco/Trench Shoring) is making his fifth career start at Long Beach this weekend. Moran had an impressive performance Friday for P-1 Racing as he posted a lap of 1:20.831 (87.650 mph) for the fourth-fastest time of the day, despite competing in a C2 class entry.

German driver Andreas Wirth (#8 KBE/Profine/Wurges Windows and Doors) completed the top five qualifiers as he made his debut for Brooks Associates Racing with a top time of 1:21.092 (87.367 mph). Wirth’s teammate, Brazilian Fernando Rees (#10 Bahia/Natal/Santa Catarina), finished just behind his fellow rookie on the qualifying rundown after carding a lap of 1:21.124 (87.333 mph).

Another first-year driver enjoying his first Atlantic experience this weekend, Charles Zwolsman (#11 Condor Motorsports), finished seventh in qualifying at 1:21.780 (86.632 mph) for Condor Motorsports, while accomplished sports car racer Chris Dyson (#16 Thetford/Norcold) owned a best lap of 1:22.386 (85.995 mph) in his first Atlantic street racing experience.

Making his second series Long Beach start this weekend in a C2 entry, Tom Nastasi (#23 USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools) wound up ninth in provisional qualifying with a fast time of 1:22.979 (85.381 mph) and Dan Selznick (#49 The Room Store) had a best lap of 1:23.094 (85.262 mph) to finish off the top 10.

The 240 HP Atlantic cars return to the track on Saturday morning with a 30-minute practice session beginning at 9 a.m. PT. The final round of qualifying will take place at 1:15 p.m. PT and the opening round of the 12-race Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama will take the green flag Sunday at 10:30 a.m. PT.

Champ Car hosts China contingent Champ Car hosts China contingentChamp Car's Joe Chrnelich (right) takes officials from Beijing China through the pits in Long Beach, California.  AutoRacing1.com was able to grab a few words with them before they were swept away to other meetings.  We learned that the existing Goldenport natural terrain road course redesign is taking shape, which is where the event will be held.  The final track length will be around 2.25-miles.  A new pit lane complex is being built on a new main straight of over 2,200 feet in length.  The facility can fit up to 150,000 spectators, but whether they decide to build that many grandstands has yet to be determined.  Earthen berms are also planned for viewing.  The first year (2006) the race may run in October paired with South Korea and Australia, but ultimately it's planned to run in May starting in 2007 when the Japan race comes onboard.
Legge may be better than Patrick Legge may be better than PatrickKatherine Legge (pictured right, is all smiles during press conference)turned the third fastest qualifying time in Friday Toyota Atlantic qualifying in Long Beach. What is impressive is that she qualified so well, even better than the highly regarded Danica Patrick who turned her back on Champ Car to drive in the IRL. It looks like Danica Patrick will be quickly forgotten. See our feature story on our Home Page on Legge. Legge's Polestar teammate Antoine Bessette was fastest and Tonis Kasemets second.

Legge said, “I’m really happy just to be in an Atlantic (car). I’m massively happy that PKV Racing gave me this opportunity. I’m happy for Antoine, he’s my teammate (Polestar Racing Group) but I won’t hear the end of it. Polestar is fantastic. We’ve come a long way. You know when you cram for an exam, that’s what it’s like. But they have been great to work with. The whole package (has been different). These cars have a lot more downforce and a lot more horsepower than I’m used to. The hardest thing I’ve found is the setup. There are so many things in the car to change. I’m learning a lot.”

Australia expecting increase in attendance Australia expecting increase in attendanceAutoRacing1.com spoke to Terry Mackenroth, Deputy Premier of the Queensland Government in Australia, James O'Brien, Director of Motorsport for IMG and John Crowley, Chairman of the Lexmark Indy 300 Champ Car race on Friday in Long Beach.  Their promotional campaign is underway for the race in October where they are anticipating a record attendance now that there is an Australian team in Champ Car with a local driver from Surfers Paradise.  Last year's weekend attendance was 309,000.
Bridgestone happy with GP2 tires Bridgestone happy with GP2 tiresBridgestone Motorsport's GP2 tires ran in anger for the first time during the qualifying session that accompanied the series' official media launch on Wednesday and, unlike their F1 counterparts, sent the Japanese company away satisfied with their results.

While Ferrari, Minardi and Jordan have so far been unable to take little in the way of glory on Bridgestone rubber this year, iSport International's Scott Speed enjoyed the plaudits after notching up fastest time in the shoot-out for race numbers, giving his UK-based team the coveted #1 and #2 rankings for the series' inaugural year.

Each driver had the choice of running on new or used tires in their half-hour session but, for Speed, it was a clear choice. The American set his time on fresh Bridgestones right at the beginning of the second session, enjoying track temperature approaching 30 degrees C.

“We elected to run Scott on new tires because he's been able to get a good feel for the Bridgestone rubber," iSport team boss Paul Jackson revealed, "He knows that, if he treats them correctly on the warm-up, he can get a good time out of them as he has developed a technique of getting the tires up to temperature. The day went accordingly to plan and we are of course very happy with the result.”

Industry News
Mercedes on roller-coaster Mercedes on roller-coasterThe Mercedes-Benz company has been having a roller-coaster ride recently with the recent announcement of a recall of 1.3m vehicles because of technical problems. This has done serious damage to the company's image of being a quality car manufacturer. Jurgen Schrempp, the chief executive of Mercedes-Benz's parent DaimlerChrysler, was given a rough ride at the company's annual meeting for failing to improve the financial performance of the company. There is however some good news for the company as a judge in the United States has rejected the $1.2bn lawsuit which had been filed against the company by investor Kirk Kerkorian, who claimed that the 1998 deal between Daimler-Benz and Chrysler was not a merger as it was portrayed but rather a takeover of Chrysler and that Schrempp had fraudulently claimed it was a merger to avoid paying more. In the seven years since the merger Daimler's share price has halved. Grandprix.com
Scenes from Long Beach Friday I Scenes from Long Beach Friday IHere are some photos from AM Champ Car practice at Long Beach.  Note some of the new sponsor logos.
Formula BMW
Space Camp to host Formula BMW USA Space Camp to host Formula BMW USAFormula BMW USA will hold the first session of its 2005 Education and Coaching program at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama on April 22-24, emphasizing the fact that Formula BMW is not just a stepping stone, but a launching pad to further racing career opportunities.
Unique among entry-level racing series, Formula BMW's Education and Coaching (E & C) program offers its young drivers experiences that only a company like BMW, with a commitment to developing motorsport talent, can offer. With emphasis on driver development, physical fitness, and media training, Formula BMW's E&C program strives to offer the most interesting and rewarding curriculum possible.

Space Camp, located at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, is known worldwide for its programs teaching and training the many facets and disciplines of the US Space Program.

While the focus of the three-day Formula BMW USA program will be physical testing, evaluation, and training, Space Camp will also offer teambuilding, fitness, and nutrition education, provided by the staff of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Living on campus in the Space Camp habitat, each driver's day will include a mix of both physical and mental elements. Astronaut training simulations, centrifuge, and the AREA 51 exercise will be intermixed with the time spent in the gym.

RuSPORT announces SanDisk sponsorship RuSPORT announces SanDisk sponsorshipWe will have a full press release shortly, but RuSPORT announced a 4-race sponsorship of the Justin Wilson car to include the Long Beach, Mexico City, South Korea and Australia races.  While this may eventually expand to a full season sponsorship, the significance of this deal is that its a sponsor that wants to use Champ Car to reach a worldwide audience, hence why their first effort is for three non-USA races.  Having sponsors who understand the global marketplace/economy will be key for Champ Car as they pursue their global expansion. Mark C.

Press Release - RuSPORT is proud to announce a new multi-race partnership with SanDisk, the world’s largest supplier of flash memory data storage card products. The #9 machine of British pilot Justin Wilson will carry the SanDisk livery beginning with the premiere U.S. event of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season-opener in Long Beach, California on April 10.

“The pairing of RuSPORT, an organization that needs speed, consistent performance, and constantly strives for excellence, with SanDisk, a company whose success depends on those very same attributes, makes for a fantastic partnership,” said RuSPORT team owner Carl Russo. “We provide true excitement on the race track in extreme conditions, and SanDisk helps professional photographers translate that excitement to our millions of fans around the globe.”

SanDisk will use the seaside street festival of racing to showcase several of its high-end lines, including the Extreme III line designed for professional photographers who work under extreme conditions and, require the fastest speeds and highest performance available. SanDisk will also be hosting at-track activities for the professional photographers.

”I have been using SanDisk CompactFlash cards for years. For price and performance they can’t be beat. SanDisk continues to lead the market as the fastest cards with the greatest storage.” Explained veteran motorsports photographer Alan Munger of TNT Photo agency; the agency used exclusively by RuSPORT for documenting every Champ Car event. “When shooting motorsports, most of the time you only have a split second to catch the image you need, so you can’t afford to compromise. I’ve never had a single failure with SanDisk.”

“We’re looking forward to working with the RuSPORT team,” said Linda Wong, SanDisk Product Marketing Manager. “The Champ Car World Series is the perfect environment to showcase our products’ performance in a demanding application. We believe RuSPORT has what it takes to be successful in that environment.”

The #9 SanDisk car of Justin Wilson and the #10 car of reigning Roshfrans Rookie of the Year A.J. Allmendinger will hit the track on Friday, April 8 with the first round of qualifying through the streets of Long Beach. The green flag will drop for the 31st annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 10 and can be seen live on NBC at 4:00 PM (EST).

Bourdais tops Friday AM practice at Long Beach Bourdais tops Friday AM practice at Long BeachDefending Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais picked up where he left off last year - at the top of the charts.  Bourdais turned the fastest practice lat Friday morning in Long Beach to nip his teammate Bruno Junqueira and Canadian Paul Tracy.
Pos Driver # Lap Time Behind
1 S. Bourdais 1 1:09.934    
2 B. Junqueira 2 1:10.058 0.124  
3 P. Tracy 3 1:10.233 0.299 0.175
4 M. Dominguez 7 1:10.252 0.318 0.019
5 A. Allmendinger 10 1:10.350 0.416 0.098
6 C. da Matta 21 1:10.436 0.502 0.086
7 J. Wilson 9 1:10.467 0.533 0.031
8 A. Tagliani 15 1:10.677 0.743 0.210
9 R. Bremer 55 1:10.787 0.853 0.110
10 T. Glock 8 1:11.007 1.073 0.220
11 B. Wirdheim 4 1:11.052 1.118 0.045
12 J. Vasser 12 1:11.185 1.251 0.133
13 A. Ranger 27 1:11.412 1.478 0.227
14 N. Philippe 34 1:11.508 1.574 0.096
15 O. Servia 19 1:12.221 2.287 0.713
16 M. Marshall 5 1:13.002 3.068 0.781
17 R. Hunter-Reay 31 1:13.013 3.079 0.011
18 R. Sperafico 11 1:13.912 3.978 0.899
19 F. Del Monte 41 1:16.671 6.737 2.759
Seen in Long Beach - II Seen in Long Beach - IISeen in Long Beach this morning - 19 cars for the Toyota Atlantic grid and 16 are rookies!
Seen in Long Beach - I Seen in Long Beach - ISeen in Long Beach this morning - Autobytel is the primary sponsor on Ryan Hunter-Reay's car, Konica Minolta on Fabrizio Del Monte, Beijing '06 on AJ Allmendinger, SanDisk on Justin Wilson, Deutsche Post Speed Academy on Timo Glock, and Indeck on both Forsythe cars.
IRL St Pete TV ratings disappoint IRL St Pete TV ratings disappointThe balloon has burst on all the hoopla made over the IRL's first street race in St. Pete, Florida. The final rating was a horrible 0.4 on ESPN. This and the plunge all IRL TV ratings have made over the past several years won't be overlooked by Dover Motorsports as they decide whether to keep Champ Car in Long Beach.
Champ Car needs to put on a good show in LB Champ Car needs to put on a good show in LBEnvision holding a job for two decades.  Now envision that your continued employment came down to three flawless days or somebody else could come in and steal your gig.  Open your eyes. You're the Champ Car World Series.

"We feel we have to deliver a quality product and we are optimistic that we will," said Dick Eidswick, Champ Car's president. "We want to see huge crowds and we want this to be a very successful event. We do have a lot of history behind us and I think that says a lot by itself."

This weekend's race marks the 22nd time Champ Car or its forerunner, CART, have raced at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. It also marks the end of a five-year contract between Champ Car and the Grand Prix Association.

In the past, the Grand Prix Association's decision to renew was simple. Formula One the series that raced here from 1976-1983 was far too costly to bring back to town and there was no other U.S. open-wheel series able to hold a street race.

That all changed last weekend when the Indy Racing League took to the streets for the first time at a race in St. Petersburg, Fla. For as much as this weekend can be considered Champ Car's tryout, the same could certainly have been said for the IRL.

That tryout went fairly well as the IRL put on an impressive show both on the track as well as off especially considering the series was relegated to oval racing for the first nine years of its existence.

Now it's Champ Car's turn to put on its Sunday best. "We are going to evaluate where we are with Champ Car after the weekend," said Jim Michaelian, the president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association. "We are going to take in the totality of what we see not just here, but where we see (Champ Car) going. That's the critical part of the decision-making process.

"There's a certain emotional part to this too. We've been with one organization since 1984. That equity counts for something. There's something to be said with staying with the program instead of changing course."

"Last year, with everything that happened, it was in disarray," said Champ Car spokesman Steve Shunck. "This year we are trying to put our best foot forward."

But even with more time to plan this season, there have still been some kinks including:

* The inability to provide a full 18-car field in a timely manner. While the contract with the LBGP calls for a minimum of 16 cars, Champ Car didn't even reach that plateau until Monday. Jensen Racing announced Fabrizio Del Monte as its driver on Thursday, but Dale Coyne Racing (two cars) won't announce its entries until right before practice this morning.

* A late start date. Champ Car is the last major U.S. racing series to start its season. LBGP organizers would like to see a race or two before the LBGP preferably in the U.S. so the organization could get a head start on promotions.

* The lack of qualifying on television. While the race will be on broadcast television (NBC) for the first time in three years on Sunday, none of the qualifying sessions will make the air.

That's not to say that Champ Car hasn't made massive strides, and that was evident Wednesday when all 16 of Champ Car's announced drivers made an appearance at the LBGP's annual media day held at the Port of Long Beach. Last year, only four Champ Car drivers made it out.

"It's easy to criticize, but when somebody actually accomplishes what you asked them to do, then you have to salute them," Michaelian said. "You have to recognize they made an effort and succeeded. They rectified the situation." More at Long Beach Press Telegram

LB City Council must walk fine line LB City Council must walk fine line[Editor's Note: As we wrote previously, the entire decision of Champ Car or the IRL comes down to Dover Motorsports, not the City of Long Beach] Champ Car's drive to return to Long Beach in 2006 has found an audience that has no official say on the matter. The series has taken its case to City Hall in a move that turns the old cliché "You can't fight City Hall' on its head. In this case, City Hall can't fight for Champ Car.

The city's contract with Grand Prix Association which is owned by Dover Motorsports runs through 2010. In that contract, the city has no voice as to whether the Grand Prix Association opts for Champ Car or its chief rival, the Indy Racing League.

Of course, that hasn't stopped Champ Car from trying. It hired local lobbyist Michael Murchison, who lectured the City Council at Tuesday's meeting on the virtues of Champ Car.

"A potential switch from Champ Car to the IRL at the Grand Prix could be a major blow, especially to the economy because of the unknown IRL numbers and the lack of experience in doing open street courses," Murchison told the council during the public comment portion of the meeting. "Champ Car has 26 years of street racing experience. IRL has one race of experience. Let me repeat that. Twenty-six years versus one race."

By the end of this season, the IRL will have raced on three street/road courses and Ken Ungar, the senior vice president of business affairs for the IRL, said Murchison's claims about the league were inaccurate. Champ Car flew council members Laura Richardson, Rae Gabelich and Tonia Reyes Uranga to San Jose last December on a private jet to discuss the future of the series. The council members claimed between $188.50 and $195.00 in gifts in the form of the flight and meals from Champ Car, according to California's Statements of Economic Interests statements obtained by the Press-Telegram. [Editor's Note: Note the Press -Telegram trying to dig up dirt on Champ Car]

Gabelich and Uranga each handed Murchison commendations to pass along to Champ Car for the series' work with local schools. Uranga said there were plans to vote on a resolution to back Champ Car's return to Long Beach, but it was tabled until the next meeting.

"The city understands that we have a relationship for the past 21 years with Champ Car. It's a known entity," Uranga told the Press-Telegram this week, adding that the trip to San Jose had no influence on her views of Champ Car. "We've had a lot of success with Champ Car. It fits like an old glove and we'd love to have them back."

City Manager Jerry Miller said that Kalkhoven has tried to meet with other members of the council. Long Beach City Attorney Robert Shannon warned council members at the meeting that the city can't interfere with the negotiations or it could be subject to a lawsuit. "There's a fine line here," Shannon told the Press-Telegram. "If they want to talk about all the good things Champ Car has done here, that's fine. But it crosses over the line if they suggest that Dover should continue it's contract with Champ Car." Long Beach Press Telegram

Vision Racing hires Moreno Vision Racing hires MorenoVision racing hired veteran Roberto Moreno to test their cars and be a coach to Ed Carpenter who is totally out to lunch on road courses.
Martinsville to start enforcing coolers Martinsville to start enforcing coolersThe AP reported that ISC-owned Martinsville Speedway today will start enforcing a new track policy that offers “unlimited beer at track concessions,” but limits how much fans can carry in coolers to “roughly a six-pack of 12-ounce beverages.” The rules are part of the corporate policy already in place at ISC-owned NASCAR tracks
IRL Press Conference transcripts IRL Press Conference transcriptsFrom the recent IRL Indy 500 media tour:
Q and A with Target Chip Ganassi Racing
Q and A with Playa Del Racing
Q and A with Brian Barnhart and Joie Chitwood
Q and A with Sam Schmidt and Richie Hearn
Wet Friday morning in Barcelona Wet Friday morning in BarcelonaFriday morning F1 testing was hampered by rain in Barcelona. Both McLaren drivers were fastest. It won't go unnoticed that Sauber driver Felipe Massa was third fastest while his teammate was dead last on Wednesday. Villeneuve left the track is a rage and it's increasingly obvious his days at Sauber are numbered.
1 . K. Raikkonen - McLaren Mercedes MP4- 20 - 1:15.389 (+ 0.000 ) - 26 laps
2 . A. Wurz - McLaren Mercedes MP4-19B - 1:15.536 (+ 0.147 ) - 33 laps
3 . F. Massa - Sauber Petronas C24 - 1:16.565 (+ 1.176 ) - 49 laps
4 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:16.600 (+ 1.211 ) - 34 laps
5 . A. Pizzonia - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:16.615 (+ 1.226 ) - 24 laps
6 . M. Schumacher - Ferrari F2005 - 1:16.870 (+ 1.481 ) - 3 laps
7 . E. Bernoldi - BAR Honda 007 - 1:17.459 (+ 2.070 ) - 38 laps
8 . L. Badoer - Ferrari F2004M - 1:18.041 (+ 2.652 ) - 24 laps
9 . V. Liuzzi - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:18.151 (+ 2.762 ) - 31 laps
10 . T. Sato - BAR Honda 007 - 1:23.967 (+ 8.578 ) - 32 laps.
FIA meeting to go ahead anyway FIA meeting to go ahead anywayFIA president Max Mosley will press ahead with next week's meeting to discuss Formula One's future rules, despite a boycott threat from nine outfits due to attend, Autosport-Atlas reveals today.

In the latest chapter of the ongoing battle to frame the future of the sport beyond the end of 2007, the so-called 'Group of Nine', made up of every team other than Ferrari, have made it clear that they are not ready to discuss new rules just yet. On Thursday they went public with their decision to not attend the meeting scheduled in Paris for April 15.

But with the FIA well aware that the regulations for F1 from 2008 need to be published by the end of this year, Mosley is not willing to delay his timetable for finalizing these rules and is intent on holding the planned meeting. Ferrari are now likely to be the only team in attendance. An FIA spokesman told Autosport-Atlas: "The meeting will go ahead as planned. There is an open invitation to the teams but it is of course up to them whether they wish to accept or not."

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Button's Barca blitz
Minardi to test new car
'Jury's out' for Gil
Toyota.  F1 champion?
Who wants a Bridgestone?
Mateschitz's soccer team
Ferrari on right track - Gene
Toyota call off test
Wurz wait
Angry Villeneuve hit the road Angry Villeneuve hit the roadJacques Villeneuve's motor home, the irate Canadian on board, left Barcelona on Wednesday evening. He had been scheduled to drive the Sauber for a second day. But, with no pace, the Hinwil-based team reportedly asked Felipe Massa to travel to Catalunya to examine JV's claim of a flaw in the C24 car. Massa, of Brazil, lapped a second quicker than Jacques' time. In a statement, JV said a forecast for bad weather moved Sauber to change the schedule. But, embroiled in rumor of his imminent re-departure from F1, Villeneuve earlier criticized Sauber for a brake failure, and a strange 'balance' problem. ''I'm sure people are going to keep speculating,'' the 33-year-old said, ''but ... you will find that Peter Sauber and Willy Rampf support me. It's just unsettling for the team. Sadly, Imola will be a continuation of (Bahrain) instead of getting the step we expected.''
Foyt: Fans left early in St. Pete Foyt: Fans left early in St. PeteFor one thing there were people in the grandstands and, yes there were far fewer and smaller grandstands than where we usually race, but it still feels good to see fans filling the seats. The atmosphere reminded me of another street race, the Long Beach Grand Prix in southern California. It's a party and the racing is secondary.

I left early (more on that later) but I was surprised that there were quite a few people making their way to the parking lots by the halfway point. I guess those fans were more interested in the party than the race or maybe they were expecting a more exciting race. It's just hard to get away from follow-the-leader racing on the street circuits because there is so little room to pass or race wheel-to-wheel which is what the IRL IndyCar Series built its reputation on.

That reputation didn't sell enough tickets to our race in Phoenix last month so I guess the IRL needs to change some things if it's going to grow. And it looks like road racing is going to become a larger part of the schedule. Unless the oval fans start supporting those races in greater numbers, I don't see how the IRL has much choice. AJ Foyt in USA Today

Why all the Europeans? Why all the Europeans?UPDATE A reader adds, Another big reason that we're seeing so much European interest in Champ Car is that currently the U.S. dollar is so weak when compared to the Euro.  At the moment the exchange rate is roughly 1.3 US dollars to the Euro, whereas 2 years ago it was nearly 1 to 1.  Europeans are now finding that their sponsorship dollars buy a third more sponsorship in the United States than they do in Europe.  On top of that, having a much improved European TV package makes Champ Car sponsorship an even more attractive proposition to European drivers and sponsors. Kevin McFerrin Westerville, OH 04/07/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Why all the influx of European drivers all of a sudden into Champ Car? Glock, Del Monte, Wirdheim, and Bremer, as well as ones who still might come like Verstappen. Champ Car does not race in any of the countries that these excellent drivers come from. Meanwhile a guy like Michael Valiante from Canada gets overlooked. Greg Smith, Edmonton, Canada Dear Greg, A lot of people have asked today why Del Monte over Valiante. The answer is quite simple. No one doubts Valiante's talent, but he has very little sponsorship and like with Paul Tracy, the Canadian companies did not want to step up when Jensen asked. The primary reason for the influx of Europeans is the much better TV package Champ Car has in Europe this year. Drivers with connections to companies can sell the TV exposure and they bite. Why do you think we were so critical of Champ Car regarding the USA TV deal they had last year? It was a prime example of pennywise and pound foolish. The damage that lame TV deal did to Champ Car was unconscionable and Champ Car just about disappeared from existence. This year's TV deal is much better, and next year's even better. Sponsorship will begin to increase as TV ratings go up. Champ Car still needs more races on network TV and they will have that in 2006. Dollar per rating point network TV is far less expensive than cable TV. And don't think Ricardo Sperafico from Brazil isn't in Champ Car because the TV deal in Brazil isn't good. The fact Champ Car wants to return to Brazil in 2006 doesn't hurt either. Mark C.
Gidley has busy weekend in Long Beach Gidley has busy weekend in Long BeachFinlay Motorsports driver Memo Gidley is headed into the kind of weekend he could scarcely have imagined when he was a kid first starting to race go-karts. As part of the activities surrounding this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Gidley will participate in a kart race between Tonight Show host Jay Leno and movie legend Paul Newman. The segment, shot earlier in the day, will be shown on the Tonight Show Friday night (11:34 pm ET). Newman, who co-owns the 2004 series championship-winning Newman/Haas Racing team, will appear on the NBC late-night program Friday night talking with host Jay Leno about his movie career as well as the Champ Car World Series, which opens its season on the streets of Long Beach this weekend.

After their discussion, the scene will shift to the parking lot where Newman will square off against Leno in a go-kart race, with play-by-play commentary provided by Champ Car television announcer Derek Daly. Newman and former Champ Car driver Memo Gidley will then leave the set in the 750 hp two-seat Champ Car. On Sunday, at the grand prix track in the streets of downtown Long Beach, Gidley will provide celebrities and reporters with the thrill of their lives – 180 mph ‘demonstration laps’ in a 2-seater Champ Car. And Gidley fans should be sure to tune in for a little surprise during the live NBC broadcast of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach beginning at 4:00 pm ET, Sunday, April 10.

“My hat’s off to anyone brave enough to climb in the back seat of a Champ Car,” says Gidley, who has made 38 Champ Car starts. “A ride in a Champ Car makes the hairiest roller coaster in the world feel like a ride in a baby carriage. It’s got to be like what a pilot feels going into a dogfight in an Air Force Reserve jet; everyone who has ever had a chance to ride in the 2-seater has gotten out either speechless or screaming.” Although Gidley is best known for his Champ Car racing, in 2005 he drives the #19 Air Force Reserve / Make-A-Wish Foundation Riley BMW Finlay Motorsports in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. The Rolex Series is for high-tech, prototype sports cars competing in endurance races ranging from 3 hours to 24 hours.

What if they lose Long Beach? What if they lose Long Beach?A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I have followed the story about Tony George trying to steal Long Beach from Champ Car. When is this guy going to stop leeching off the series I love? Why doesn't Champ Car start stealing stuff from him?  The guy has single-handedly destroyed open wheel racing in this country and his continual attacks on Champ Car are just making it worse. Champ Car fans hate this man with a passion and if there ever is a reconciliation the hatred is going to make it worse to reunite the fan base. Why doesn't he just go crawl back under the rock from which he came? With that said, if Anton does steal Long Beach, can Champ Car survive? Ed Kondrath, Milwaukee, WI. Dear Ed,  First Tony George would not be stealing anything, he would be outbidding for it and that is legal.  Yes they can survive. It will be a media nightmare for them for awhile as all the mindless journalists will jump on the bandwagon predicting Champ Car's impending death. The reality of the matter is that the Los Angeles Grand Prix will eventually overshadow the Long Beach Grand Prix (LA is far wealthier and far better known worldwide than Long Beach) and Champ Car has far more significant events to add such as in Japan, China, India, and the Middle East, etc. How Champ Car manages the media during that time will be critical. With that said, they have not lost the race yet so let's see how it goes. Mark C.
A dream come true for Marshall A dream come true for Marshall"I grew up on the Gold Coast and remember going to track as a kid to see guys like Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser and Cristiano da Matta racing and thinking at the time it would be brilliant to be able to race in Champ Cars one day," Marcus Marshall told Champ Car's website. "It is something you really dream of and it kind of hit me today when I was standing in a group photo with all those guys - this is really a dream come true." The Australian Champ Car rookie has only ever raced on one street circuit previously - right in his own "backyard" on the streets of Surfers Paradise. "Looking at the track today I can see some similarities to Surfers, but in other ways it is completely different," Marshall said. "It is certainly going to be interesting to feel what it is like with all the power of the Ford Cosworth behind me in a Champ Car - especially with all the cement walls around you. But it certainly looks like a fantastic track and a great place to have the race."
Champ Car still has enough Latino drivers Champ Car still has enough Latino driversThis Press-Telegram article says, Don't try to sell the notion to Champ Car drivers Mario Dominguez and Bruno Junqueira [And now Ricardo Sperafico] that this year's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach lacks Latin flavor. If you didn't notice, they are competing in this year's Grand Prix, the first race in the 2005 Champ Car World Series. And the pair, exuding the confidence typical of race car drivers, say they represent the best Latino drivers. "In the past, maybe there were too many drivers," said Junqueira, who is from Brazil as is Ricardo Sperafico]. "Me, Mario, we win." Grand Prix organizers have made major overtures to Latino racing fans over the last three years, luring major Mexican and South American stars and signing Tecate as the official beer.

The payoff: the number of Hispanic race fans has been increasing at the Grand Prix, and Tecate has seen sales of its beverage skyrocket in the days before and during the event as well as year-round. Hispanics made up about 30 percent of last year's spectators.

This week, there appears to be a smaller Hispanic presence among racers and car sponsors at the Grand Prix, which begins its 2005 run Friday at a street course on Shoreline Drive in downtown Long Beach. Michel Jourdain Jr., Adrian Fernandez now a team owner in the rival Indy Racing League and Roberto Gonzalez, Mexican stars who have competed in past Grand Prix races, are not competing. Jourdain moved from Champ Car to the NASCAR Busch Series over the off-season. NASCAR is making a push to capture the fervent racing fans in Mexico.

And former racing team sponsor/owners like Herdez are no more. As of Wednesday, there were not any Mexican sponsors signed for the Champ Car event. "There are reasons for everything," Dominguez recently said. Herdez is now called HVM Racing after family infighting within Herdez, Dominguez said, and Gigante (supermarkets) is having financial problems. Other potential Latin sponsors are slow because the drivers they could back just weren't performing well, Dominguez said. Still, Dominguez, 29, said no one should downgrade Champ Car when rival leagues have no Mexican racers. Being the lone Mexican racer in the Long Beach event carries a big responsibility, he said. "Especially considering the past couple races in Mexico I had a lot of support come my way. Now we want to give the fans something back," Dominguez said. "I'm very excited to be the one to represent Mexico."
IRL cars to test at Infineon IRL cars to test at InfineonThis dailyrepublic.com article says, The excitement of the IRL IndyCar Series hits Infineon Raceway this week. The powerful IRL cars will make their first visit to the twisting 12-turn, 2.26-mile road course. All 22 IndyCar Series teams are expected for the test on Tuesday and Wednesday.

This will be the only chance for teams to check out the Sears Point course before the first-ever IRL event at the Infineon Raceway August 26-28. Tony Kanaan (2004 IRL champion), Helio Castroneves (two-time Indy 500 champion), Buddy Rice (2004 Indy 500 champion), Sam Hornish Jr. (two-time IRL champion), Dario Franchitti and Danica Patrick will headline a star-studded group of drivers who'll visit the Sonoma Valley.

Franchitti is the only driver with prior open-wheel experience at Sears Point, having taken part in a compatibility test in November. He completed nearly 70 laps around the circuit. "I've never seen a track with elevation changes like this," said Franchitti. "This place is going to be a challenge for drivers. It's a fun, quick track."

Race fans will be admitted free to the test session. The main grandstand at the start/finish line will be open. Gates open at 9 a.m. both days, with cars scheduled to take the track after lunch Saturday and all day and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Villeneuve not the problem Villeneuve not the problemYes, Jacques Villeneuve is probably not going to last long in the dog-eat-dog world of F1 based on his performance over the past several years. Yesterday Sauber called in his teammate Felipe Massa a day early because Villeneuve was so slow in testing Wednesday.

Villeneuve was probably breathing a bit of a sigh of relief by the end of the day Thursday though, as Felipe Massa's best time was not much better than his own. Villeneuve had been 3.702 seconds behind the leading McLaren Mercedes of Pedro de la Rosa yesterday. Massa drove 83 laps in chassis C24-05 but could only come as close as 3.390 seconds of today's leading car, the BAR Honda of Jenson Button.

While Villeneuve may take some comfort in knowing that the problem seems to lie in the C24 instead of himself, the team as a whole has clearly got a long road ahead of them to get the C24 competitive. Their development and testing budget are limited compared to their richer rivals, but that hasn't stopped the small Swiss squad from staying optimistic.

"In the morning we first adapted the car's set-up to Felipe's driving style," said race engineer Giampaolo Dall'Ara. "We then mainly concentrated on evaluating mechanical development parts as well as new aerodynamic components. At the end of the test day we did a long-run with decent pace as part of our race preparation. Overall, we could feel an improvement today, but still need more understanding to meet our goals."
NASCAR confirms drug tests NASCAR confirms drug testsNASCAR confirmed Wednesday that it has issued 40 to 45 drug tests during the past two years, a figure that includes multiple tests for some individuals. NASCAR only drug tests individuals based on reasonable suspicion that they are abusing a drug. Jim Hunter, NASCAR spokesman, said that Shane Hmiel has been tested 12 to 15 times since he was reinstated in February 2004. NASCAR suspended Hmiel on Sept. 18, 2003, for violation of the series’ substance abuse policy. NASCAR required Hmiel to attend counseling and periodic random testing as part of his reinstatement. The issue of drugs in sports has grown since recent government hearings on steroids in Major League Baseball. The House Committee on Government Reform, which held those hearings, is investigating performance-enhancing drugs in sports. The committee sent letters Tuesday to several sports organizations asking for their drug testing policy. NASCAR has not been asked to submit such information. News and Record
Glock car to carry DHL sponsorship Glock car to carry DHL sponsorshipThe Rocketsports team has confirmed that German Timo Glock will drive the No. 8 car and carry DHL sponsorship. Glock is looking forward to the season - "Our two tests in Fontana and Sebring went very well. It is a good time to start the season in Long Beach coming off of that positive kind of momentum. I am not sure what to expect from the circuit, or the event itself, because this will be my first race in the Champ Car World Series. The car is very good, and I am very comfortable with it, so I am excited to get started this weekend and see what we can do."
Friday night action in Long Beach Friday night action in Long BeachSlipstream Global Marketing will be organizing The Pike Car Show, Friday Evening (7-11 pm) at the Long Beach Grand Prix - Rainbow Harbor (just north/west of the Hyatt Hotel). The event will feature highly modified tuner show cars, celebrity cars (Snoop Dogg's Chrysler 300D, the "General Lee"), race cars including the United States Touring Car Championship cars (support series to the San Jose Grand Prix Champ Car Event), and Formula D Drifting Cars. The USTCC Grid Girls will be distributing San Jose Grand Prix information at their booth. Music will be provided by local Los Angeles Radio Station KROQ 106.7. If you find yourself in Long Beach on Friday Evening, EVERYONE IS WELCOME, admission is free!
St. Pete TV rating St. Pete TV ratingA reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1, Just a quick question and comment. Where are the IRL TV numbers for St Pete? Were they so bad they didn't register? Also, a quick comment to Mr. Jeff Hutton. Clearly you made the same mistake many people do about the new Champ Car owners. You underestimate them. Do Red Bull and Centrix ring a bell. I believe they are or were IRL sponsors. I guess I don't understand why IRL fans want to shove St Pete in our face. I thought the reason why you hated Champ Cars were the street racing. Arno Fritz, Milwaukee, WI Dear Arno, The hypocrisy of it all. The cable TV ratings are not out yet. When we get them for the IRL race we will publish the number. Mark C.
Jensen Signs Fabrizio Del Monte for Long Beach Jensen Signs Fabrizio Del Monte for Long BeachJensen MotorSport is pleased to announce that our driver for this weekend’s CHAMP CAR race at the Long Beach Grand Prix will be Fabrizio Del Monte. Fabrizio (24) joins Jensen with impressive credentials, including finishing 2nd in the 2004 and 2003 Superfund Euro F3000 championships, with three (3) race wins and six (6) podiums out of 10 starts in 2004.

Fabrizio, who lives in Rome, Italy, will be making his first start in the CHAMP CAR World Series this weekend; with view to continuing with the team for the entire 2005 season.

Team owner Eric Jensen states, “I watched Euro F3000 races on Speed TV this winter, and saw how competitive Fabrizio was in that series, which has produced some very talented young drivers including current F1 star Felipe Massa. While our Canadian based team had various driver options, we elected to go with Fabrizio for several reasons. First, we based our decision on how current his race results are. Second, we based our decision on the marketing interests of several of our commercial partners. Most importantly, we believe that with a strong showing in Long Beach, Farbrizio represents our team’s best option for a driver to remain with the team throughout the 2005 season, and to challenge for a top 10 finish in the year end point standings.”

The Jensen team is currently in Long Beach, and is keen to commence this new chapter in our team’s development. This weekend will be unique in Canadian motor racing history, since this will be the first time in over twenty years that a Canadian based team will enter a car in the Champ Car (nee CART) series. While our team is headquartered in Ontario, the majority of our technical team hails from Quebec.

For more details about the career of Fabrizio, visit his web-site at http://www.fabriziodelmonte.com For more details about Jensen MotorSport, visit our web-site at www.jensenmotorsport.com To request more information about the team and Fabrizio, contact Eric Jensen by e-mail at team@jensenmotorsport.com [Editor's Note: As we understand it this deal is almost definitely going to be for a full season.]

Final Bristol TV rating up Final Bristol TV rating upBristol Motor Speedway says Fox's broadcast of last Sunday's Food City 500 earned a 6.3 final Nielsen Media Research rating as it drew a track record viewership of more than 9.75 million people. The rating is 5.0% higher than the 6.0 the race drew for Fox last year and is also 5.0% higher than the 6.0 earned by the 2004 Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, which aired the same weekend last year. The track says 6.9 million households viewed the race, a 7% increase from the 2004 spring race. --Winston Cup Scene--
Fisichella having bad week Fisichella having bad weekGiancarlo Fisichella is having a really tough week. On Tuesday the Melbourne winner suffered another engine problem that curtailed his running while on Wednesday more mechanical problems restricted his running. In testing today the Italian had an accident that ended his day early.

“Overall, we have completed a very successful week’s work in Barcelona," said Chief Test Engineer Christian Silk. "The team made a big effort to bring our programme forward, and we have had three dry, productive days’ running."

"Fernando has experienced few problems and completed plenty of miles, working on promising tire developments and exploring the car’s set-up. Giancarlo’s week has been more disrupted, but he will drive again next week which will allow him to get more seat time in the car." .

"Overall, we have found good set-up directions for the race here in Barcelona, but also for the next Grand Prix in Imola, and we continue to make good progress in our understanding of the car.”

Indy 500 entries flowing in Indy 500 entries flowing inAs the postmark deadline for Indy 500 entries passed, a late influx brought the current starting field up to 31 with several more expected to be added in the coming days. With more entries still circulating in the US postal system, just two more entries are needed to ensure a full starting field for the 89th running of the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Group of 9 decide not to attend Group of 9 decide not to attendNine Formula One teams and five manufacturers met today under the chairmanship of Prof. Burkhard Göschel of BMW to move the group’s Governing Principles for Grand Prix Motor Racing Post 2007, forward into action.

The group’s four working groups (Sporting, Technical, Legal & Media) presented their progress in developing the teams’ and manufacturers’ view of the sport after 2007. The group also confirmed a timetable to develop a comprehensive blueprint for Grand Prix Racing after 2007.

The target for completion of this process is later this year. The group’s chairman, Prof. Göschel said, “Today’s meeting was another very positive step forward for the group, characterised by a complete consensus among all members and a universal desire to add definition to our vision of Grand Prix Racing after 2007.”

He continued, “We have moved a long way forward from establishing governing principles at Cliveden on February 16 this year, to considering a number of detailed proposals today. We have also set out a specific timetable to deliver our completed vision later this year.”

In the light of the group’s continued work to develop a blueprint for the sport after 2007, Prof. Göschel confirmed that the teams and manufacturers would not meet with the FIA to discuss 2008 regulations on April 15.

“We look forward to contributing to a constructive dialogue about the future of Grand Prix Racing in due course, but first, we need to complete the process that we have underway.” F1-Live
IRL talent pool lacking IRL talent pool lackingWhen it comes to driving talent, the Champ Car Series in 2005 is hands down superior to the IRL. Drivers like Ed Carpenter and AJ Foyt IV are so bad you wonder how they ever graduated from the IPS series. Foyt has crashed so many Indy Cars we stopped counting and Ed Carpenter is so bad that in St. Pete he spun out several times, including one time under caution (too funny). His frustrating day came to an end when IRL officials parked his race car. They should have yanked his license while they were at it like CART did to Shigeaki Hattori several years ago. However, that won't happen because he is Tony George's stepson. Ditto for Foyt IV because AJ Foyt is his grandfather
Button smashes Barcelona record Button smashes Barcelona record
1 . J. Button - BAR Honda 007 - 1:13.552 (+ 0.000 ) - 139 laps
2 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF105 - 1:14.231 (+ 0.679 ) - 111 laps
3 . T. Sato - BAR Honda 007 - 1:14.247 (+ 0.695 ) - 122 laps
4 . A. Wurz - McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 - 1:14.391 (+ 0.839 ) - 102 laps
5 . R. Barrichello - Ferrari F2005 - 1:14.645 (+ 1.093 ) - 116 laps
6 . F. Alonso - Renault R25 - 1:14.670 (+ 1.118 ) - 129 laps
7 . L. Badoer - Ferrari F2004M - 1:14.761 (+ 1.209 ) - 127 laps
8 . R. Zonta - Toyota TF105 - 1:14.826 (+ 1.274 ) - 144 laps
9 . K. Raikkonen - McLaren Mercedes MP4- 20 - 1:14.929 (+ 1.377 ) - 76 laps
10 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:14.932 (+ 1.380 ) - 95 laps
11 . D. Coulthard - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:14.957 (+ 1.405 ) - 87 laps
12 . G. Fisichella - Renault R25 - 1:15.018 (+ 1.466 ) - 67 laps
13 . A. Pizzonia - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:15.141 (+ 1.589 ) - 56 laps
14 . M. Webber - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:16.050 (+ 2.498 ) - 51 laps
15 . F. Massa - Sauber Petronas C24 - 1:16.942 (+ 3.390 ) - 83 laps
16 . E. Bernoldi - BAR Honda 007 - 1:17.243 (+ 3.691 ) - 18 laps
Newman's Luck Newman's LuckHe says he owes his good fortune to great genes, but Paul Newman has overcome a distant dad, too much booze, and the death of his son to remain a superstar at, yes, 80.

By Nancy Griffin

[Excerpts] Anyone who ever lived fast and died young might have slowed down had they known what 80 can look like. Observe, for instance, the startlingly handsome gentleman standing quietly in the corner of an NBC-studio green room in Manhattan. He is minding his own business, oblivious to the female interns, assistants, and producers fluttering like moths around him. Unimpressed with himself, he sips coffee from a paper cup and avoids the glazed donuts no one else can resist. The legendary actor is silver-haired now, with a discreet hearing aid, but he still has the famous bright-blue eyes, smooth skin, and a well-defined single chin. His five-foot-nine frame is fit and firm beneath a tweedy pullover, button-down shirt, and chocolate-brown slacks: a daily gym routine has helped him retain the trim abs men half his age can't remember ever having. If 50 is the new 30 for some women, 80—at least in the incarnation of Paul Leonard Newman—is the new 60. No, wait; make that 55.

Perversely, the sexiest-octogenarian-alive image is one that Newman delights in shredding to bits. Case in point: the elegant man waiting patiently to be interviewed by Jane Pauley bears no likeness to the scuzzy old man in a grimy gray sweatshirt who could be seen skulking around Skowhegan, Maine, two summers ago. Back then, Newman took pride in the fact that local residents failed to recognize him on location shooting HBO's adaptation of Richard Russo's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Empire Falls. "He thinned his hair and rubbed food on his clothes and kept putting irritants in his eyes to make them look rheumy and red," recalls Fred Schepisi, who directed an ensemble cast that includes Ed Harris, Robin Wright Penn, Theresa Russell, Estelle Parsons, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Helen Hunt, and Joanne Woodward, Newman's real-life leading lady for the past 47 years. "One day he came up to me and said, 'Look, I have a busted vein in my eye! I hope it lasts!' Another time he was happy he had a pimple: 'This is good!' " Schepisi laughs. "Playing Max gave Paul a chance to be flamboyant." 

That's why he's agreed to appear today on The Jane Pauley Show—to discuss the Hole In The Wall Gang camps with some of the kids who are eager to share their experiences. On camera, Newman is reserved and polite, with a dry wit and an unhurried sense of timing. He describes how Newman's Own was born of his own finicky tastes. At restaurants he used to take his salad into the bathroom, wash off the dressing, and ask for olive oil, red-wine vinegar, and mustard to make his own. He personally makes sure that all the products are made with fresh ingredients, that they taste good—"I have a sensitive palate"—and that they're marketed with a sense of humor. "Once you've seen your face on a bottle of salad dressing, it's hard to take yourself seriously," he says.

Pauley tells Newman that he's a great man—a remark that causes him to look down at the floor uncomfortably. As is his habit, he dismisses praise for his accomplishments and good works by chalking them up to "Newman's luck"; his oft-stated conviction is that his many blessings emanate from his genetic good fortune. "Genes allow us to have good inductive reasoning, to look a certain way and grow a certain way, to have strong bones. I think that 98 percent of that is luck, and to take any credit for that is difficult and hard to support."  For more of this fabulous article on Newman read the May/June issue of AARP

Q and A with Butch Leitzinger Q and A with Butch LeitzingerThe American Le Mans Series' season opener at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring revealed many things to many teams over its grueling course. What it demonstrated to Dyson Racing's No. 16 and No. 20 Lola EX257 LMP1 entries could have season-long ramifications.

The Dyson machines have for some time been among the ALMS' fastest, but reliability issues proved the team's undoing on more than one occasion. The No. 16, to be piloted at the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta on April 17 by road-racing experts Butch Leitzinger and James Weaver, conquered Sebring despite spending time off the track when a rock went through its radiator. Reliability, however, was never an issue with the car as it went on to finish third overall.

Leitzinger, an 11-year Dyson Racing member, talked on several topics leading up to the second race in the ALMS' 10-race campaign.

Question: What was the team's reaction to the Lola's performance at Sebring?

Answer: We sailed through Sebring without a mechanical (problem) of any kind, so all of us were pretty happy about that. Now, the rock going through the radiator (resulting in a 35-minute repair), there is nothing you can do about that. That's racing luck. There wasn't any one thing you could blame. In a situation like that, you just take it and move on.

Q: How would you describe the current development of the car?

A: We had a lot of development in the past, but there has been even more of it now. The Lola has always been fast, one of the fastest cars in the ALMS. We've had horrible reliability in the past. We (now) have a serious program in place, and it's made the engine and electrical components much more bulletproof. We have made a lot of progress, and the Michelin tires have been a big help, too. (The Dyson team is another convert to Michelins.) We're now able to double-stint the tires, like the Audis do, and that gives us a big advantage. You see Michelin's tires in every form of racing, and I'm not sure if it's the technology, the compounding or a combination of the two. But Michelin seems to understand tires better than anyone else in the world.

Q: What has the current development program told you about the car?

A: A lot of it is just learning the car, as part of the testing process. You run it, see what breaks, and then address those issues. The difference from the drawing board to reality can sometimes be pretty stark. Engineering looks good on paper, but paper isn't able to take in the (intangibles), the things that happen on the race track. That is why so few cars win right out of the box.

Q: What does coming back to Road Atlanta mean for you?

A: I have been coming here since I was 5 years old. I remember the first time I came here. I was watching just outside the last turn, which is a serious stretch of circuit. The first time I drove here, that turn was intimidating. It's a flat-out 160 mph turn with a pretty large wall right on the outside. With the different classes, there is a lot of passing (going on) through that, and all of your attention has to be focused there. There is little or no margin for error. I've spun off a few times. As soon as you start to lose control, you just try to avoid hitting the wall. And since it's right by pit lane, everyone can see you. Road Atlanta is right up there with the best road courses in the world.

Ward joins Vision Racing for 500 Ward joins Vision Racing for 500New IndyCar® Series team Vision Racing filed two entries April 7 for the 89th Indianapolis 500, as veteran Jeff Ward will join the team's regular driver, Ed Carpenter, in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

The addition of a second car for 1997 Indianapolis 500 JPMorgan Chase Bank Rookie of the Year Ward will see Vision put three cars on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the month of May. USAC short-track standout Jay Drake will drive the team's Menards Infiniti Pro Series entry in the Futaba Freedom 100 on May 27.  The 89th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 29.

Ward, from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., will attempt to make his seventh career Indy start in the No. 22 Vision Racing LLC Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, with a backup entered.
Ward has recorded four top-10 finishes at Indianapolis, with a career best of second behind Kenny Brack in 1999. Ward finished third as a rookie in 1997 and fourth in 2000.

Newman/Haas looking for back-to-back titles Newman/Haas looking for back-to-back titlesThe April 10 running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will mark the beginning of the 23rd season of Champ Car competition for Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) and despite having had their best season ever in 2004 when McDonald’s® driver Sebastien Bourdais brought the team their fifth series title and PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira finished second, they have many things yet to accomplish.  

NHR has earned five championships with drivers Mario Andretti (1984), Michael Andretti (1991), Nigel Mansell (1993) Cristiano da Matta (2002) and Bourdais (2004) but they have yet to earn back-to-back titles.  Advancing technology and new competition rules allow for a constantly moving “goalpost” and NHR thrives under those conditions.  The prospect of another championship title being up for grabs has Bourdais thinking about getting his season off to a strong start in the 81-lap race on the 1.968-mile temporary street course as he did here in 2004 when he started second and finished third.

Andretti and Unser rivalry can help Open Wheel Racing Andretti and Unser rivalry can help Open Wheel RacingMarco Andretti is 18 and has the weight of the American open-wheel world on his narrow shoulders.  Last Sunday, winning in his first race in the Indy Racing League's developmental Infiniti Pro Series, the son of Michael Andretti and grandson of Mario Andretti caused a bigger stir among the sport's longtime fans than did the 1-2-3-4 sweep by his father's Andretti Green Racing team later that day in the IndyCar Series event at St. Petersburg, Fla. 

Al Speyer, director of racing for Bridgestone/Firestone, which furnishes tires for both the IRL and rival Champ Car World Series, was just as excited as anyone.  Two days before the Infiniti Pro race, Speyer spoke of the hope for the future as he watched Marco and Alfred Unser, 22, son of longtime racing star Al Unser Jr., being interviewed.   "I think maybe this can cause a spark," Speyer said. "I'm thrilled this legacy and competition will continue."

All of the youngsters are in formative stages of their career, but people who care about the sport can't help but hope they will be the answer to bringing it back – whether it be the IRL or Champ Car or both – to its one-time glory.

As Marco was pulling off his win on Sunday, making a sensational three-wide pass for the lead late in the race, Unser was racing to fourth and Luyendyk to fifth. Of the trio, only the 23-year-old Luyendyk is a regular in the series, while Andretti is concentrating on the Star Mazda Series in 2005 and Unser is trying to find financing to run more Infiniti Pro events.

"I've always been an Unser and Marco has always been an Andretti," Alfred said. "So the pressure's always been there. We just have to go out and do it."

Marco has seen the power of his last name. Two weeks ago, he tested the Infiniti Pro car on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where his relatives have been major players for decades.   He half spun the car on cold tires as he left the pits and that became a national story.

"He's never seen that car before and, after that, he was right on pace on his first lap," said grandfather Mario, shrugging. "This is what these kids face because of their name. Michael did and now Marco."

But Marco insists he isn't feeling any undue pressure.  "I'm doing what I want to be doing, what I love to do," he said. "I'm going to go out there and have fun."   The future of American open-wheel racing may depend on it.  More at ThatsRacin

Sato fastest so far in Spain Sato fastest so far in SpainThursday morning times from Barcelona
1 . T. Sato - BAR Honda 007 - 1:14.247 (+ 0.000 ) - 78 laps
2 . A. Wurz - McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 - 1:14.391 (+ 0.144 ) - 64 laps
3 . R. Barrichello - Ferrari F2005 - 1:14.645 (+ 0.398 ) - 63 laps
4 . F. Alonso - Renault R25 - 1:14.656 (+ 0.409 ) - 54 laps
5 . J. Button - BAR Honda 007 - 1:14.887 (+ 0.640 ) - 81 laps
6 . K. Raikkonen - McLaren Mercedes MP4- 20 - 1:14.929 (+ 0.682 ) - 74 laps
7 . G. Fisichella - Renault R25 - 1:15.018 (+ 0.771 ) - 68 laps
8 . D. Coulthard - Red Bull Racing RB1 - 1:15.048 (+ 0.801 ) - 45 laps
9 . R. Zonta - Toyota TF104B - 1:15.280 (+ 1.033 ) - 77 laps
10 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF105 - 1:15.708 (+ 1.461 ) - 53 laps
11 . L. Badoer - Ferrari F2004M - 1:15.958 (+ 1.711 ) - 59 laps
12 . M. Webber - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:16.050 (+ 1.803 ) - 51 laps
13 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Williams FW27 - 1:16.310 (+ 2.063 ) - 36 laps
14 . F. Massa - Sauber Petronas C24 - 1:16.995 (+ 2.748 ) - 69 laps
The battle over Long Beach The battle over Long BeachA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, With regard to Mark Cipolloni's excellent article on the battle over Long Beach - A wiser outcome would be for Dover to sign a five- to seven-year contract with Champ Car and then auction the event. That would make sense for Dover’s shareholders because they would be selling a recognized and established product rather than an idea. Each of the different promoters putting on the events in Denver, Toronto, Edmonton, or San Jose might have an interest. Forsythe and/or Kalkhoven would be good possibilities. Even Toyota might have an interest.

On the other hand, if Dover were to sell rights to a date and a venue with no contract in hand, it could face a situation, as you suggest, where CC executes its plan to race at alternative venues in the region around the same time, thereby undermining the viability of the event for any buyer. That might make it harder to find buyers willing to pay a decent price and run an event that also is viable for the city.

Of course ISC might step in with the express purpose of canning the event – i.e. turning it into a Grand Am event – and pay very little for the privilege. But the city might not like this option because the lack of interest in GA events would mean a significant loss of economic activity and exposure. Moreover, ISC would want their tax abatements and other municipal contributions to operate there, adding to the city’s costs.

F1 could step in and have an instantaneously successful event. But that success likely wouldn’t extend to anyone other than F1. How could a promoter make money on such an event? And given the budget issues faced by American cities, they would have a difficult time paying tens of millions of dollars in sanctioning fees to F1’s wealthy owners. James C. Allen

News from Long Beach News from Long BeachHere is a pretty cool graphic on the Champ Car race at Long Beach from today's LA Times http://www.latimes.com/media/acrobat/2005-04/17026056.pdf
Lexmark Indy 300 plans announced Lexmark Indy 300 plans announcedThe 15th annual Lexmark Indy 300 to be held on the streets of Surfers Paradise from October 20th to 23th, was launched today. Queensland Acting Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Sport Terry Mackenroth and Minister for Transport and Main Roads Paul Lucas unveiled the 'catchy look' of the Lexmark Indy 300 for 2005, as well as announcing a number of new initiatives and tickets going on sale.

V8 Supercar drivers David Besnard and Paul Morris, Bartercard Miss Indy Jane-Lee O'Neil, Lexmark Indy 300 Chairman John Cowley and Lexmark Indy 300 General Manager James O'Brien were also on hand to 'pull the covers off' the Lexmark Indy 300 this year. Mr O'Brien said Queensland's premier Event would once again be highlighted by a round of the Champ Car World Series and a round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series being contested around the picturesque yet challenging 4.47km street circuit.

The launch featured the announcement by Mr Lucas of the 'Ride Free To Lexmark Indy 300' initiative. All Lexmark Indy 300 ticket holders will be able to travel free to the Event on the QR Citytrain and Surfside Buslines network.

With a creative and unique Lexmark Indy 300 image as the backdrop, Mr O'Brien announced a number of other spectator initiatives set to spread Indy Fever again in 2005.

"This year we have new grandstand names which will make it easier for patrons to identify their location," said O'Brien. "We will be having Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze Grandstands to cater for the various budgets and preferred vantage points of patrons."

"We are also introducing, by popular demand, a Family Weekend Ticket (2 Adults, 2 Children) which will cover the key days and nights of racing - Friday night (from 5pm), Saturday and Sunday.We will also be providing three viewing areas for people with a disability, providing more flexibility and viewing options for these spectators.

"Each year we endeavour to improve the spectating experience, and all the initiatives announced from 'Ride Free To Lexmark Indy 300', to new Grandstand names, introduction of new tickets and viewing options for people with a disability, will go along way in making the 2005 Event the best yet.

"Our aim is to attract more than 300,000 spectators over four days, a feat we achieved last year as our numbers have continually grown since 1995.

"With the inclusion of Team Australia driver Marcus Marshall in the Champ Car World Series and the growing popularity of the V8 Supercars, the ingredients are there once again to present a record-breaking Lexmark Indy 300 to a world-wide audience."

Supporting the Champ Cars and V8 Supercars will be a jam-packed motor racing line-up featuring the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup, V8 Utes and Wright Patton Shakespeare Aussie Racing Cars, plus an off track entertainment program headlined by the Sea FM Airshow, Bartercard Miss Indy and Bartercard V8 Supergirl, and more than 50 other events.

The Lexmark Indy 300 will be held on the Gold Coast from October 20 to 23.
Unusual wear prompts Firestone to halt test Unusual wear prompts Firestone to halt testThis Indy Star article says, Indy-car drivers are expected to eventually relish competing on the repaved Indianapolis Motor Speedway. So far, their tires have not agreed with the new surface. Unusual wear was found on several right-side tires during a Firestone test this week, causing the cancellation of Wednesday's session. "It's going to take a few days to determine what happened, and it may be nothing at all," said Al Speyer, the company's motor sports executive director. "We weren't sure what was going on, so we stopped. "It's better to be safe than sorry." There were no tire failures or accidents in Tuesday's action, Speyer said. According to IRL president Brian Barnhart, Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr. ran the most -- 23 laps on a set of tires, with a top lap of about 219 mph. Official results were not released. Speyer said it is not uncommon for freshly paved tracks to adversely affect certain tire compounds or constructions. He declined to discuss specifics. "It's not the first time we've seen something like this, and it probably won't be the last time," he said. "Each (new track) is a little different." Speyer expects the situation to be rectified prior to the Indianapolis 500's first practice on May 8. He expects his company to test another set of tires later this month. If necessary, Barnhart said there are several things the IRL and the Speedway can do to help tire wear. Chief among them is changing the aerodynamics of the cars with wing angles. "But we're not going to do anything until we hear back from Firestone," he said. Goodyear is scheduled to test its NASCAR tires April 12-13 at the Speedway.
Scott Speed tops Piquet Jr. Scott Speed tops Piquet Jr.American Scott Speed has come out on top after two days of GP2 testing at Paul Ricard.  The American speedster topped highly regarded Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr. 
Pos Team                      Time      Driver    Session
 1. iSport International      1:19.414  Speed      2
 2. Hitech Piquet Sports      1:19.612  Piquet     2
 3. BCN Competicion           1:19.726  Viso       2
 4. Super Nova International  1:19.947  Pantano    2
 5. ART Grand Prix            1:19.979  Rosberg    1
 6. DPR                       1:20.042  Pla        2
 7. Dams                      1:20.097  Lopez      2
 8. Coloni Motorsport         1:20.138  Bruni      2
 9. Racing Engineering        1:20.200  García     1
10. Campos Racing             1:20.203  Alvarez    1
11. Arden International       1:20.271  Kovalainen 2
12. Durango                   1:20.640  Piccione   2
All times are unofficial
All is not well between Villeneuve and Sauber All is not well between Villeneuve and SauberFresh doubts are surrounding Jacques Villeneuve's future at Sauber after the former World Champion hit out at the team before storming out of this week's test at Barcelona in Spain, Autosport-Atlas can exclusively reveal.

Villeneuve, who has been surrounded by speculation that he may be replaced at Sauber because of his struggles with the C24, was left furious with both the state of the car during the test on Wednesday and by the fact that the team chose to cut short his running to draft in teammate Felipe Massa a day earlier than originally planned.

The situation developed after a troubled outing for the team and Villeneuve - whose running was blighted by a brake failure, electronic problems and a major handling imbalance on his car. He ended the day slowest overall, almost four seconds slower than pace-setter Pedro de la Rosa.  Massa was telephoned at home at lunch-time on Wednesday and told to go to the factory, where he was subsequently told to fly down to Barcelona for an extra day's running.

Speaking exclusively to Autosport-Atlas about the situation, an angry Villeneuve had very little positive to say - and hinted that there may be a fundamental problem with the team's car.  "We are doing one of our few tests, but first I had a brake failure which is never nice - particularly on this type of track," said Villeneuve. "This was supposed to be an aero test, but the balance of the car was not there.  Something is not right and the car is way too slow. The other driver is coming here to check - but at the moment the car is just too slow."  More at Autosport-Atlas

Marathon Man Marathon ManEvery professional racing driver finds his own way of keeping fit.  Some spend hours in the gym; others do a great deal of cycling, while running forms a major part of any fit person’s training campaign.  Not all, however, are capable of running 26.2 miles (42.195 km).

Briton Olivier Gavin, who races for the Corvette Racing Team in the American Le Mans Series, will this weekend be taking part in the Paris Marathon with a very particular aim in mind.

“James Thomson, last year’s British Touring Car Champion, is a friend of mine and, like all racing drivers, we are highly competitive in everything we do.  James did last year’s London Marathon in a time of 3hrs 19m 32s and that’s what I’m aiming to beat next weekend. 

“He is going to be doing the London race again next weekend so it will be interesting to see how well we compare.  It’s a shame we won’t be able to actually run in the same Marathon but our [motor] racing commitments don’t allow that.”

This will be the 2nd marathon in which the 32-year-old has competed, the first being the 2002 London Marathon which he finished in a time of 3hrs 27m and 48s, and which he ran in support of ARC, a British arthritis charity.

Press-Telegram’s Long Beach special Press-Telegram’s Long Beach specialThe Long Beach Press Telegram's annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach pullout section from their newspaper is online at http://grandprix.motorway.com/
Scenes from Long Beach Scenes from Long BeachBelow are a few photos from Wednesday's media event with the Champ Car drivers in Long Beach.  Missing were both of Dale Coyne's drivers and Jensen Motorsport's driver.

Katherine Legge was also there for the Atlantic Series, Boris Said was there for Trans-Am, and Formula Drift had 2 drivers there as well.  The only thing that Jim Michaelian and Les Unger said that was particularly noteworthy during the luncheon was how glad they were to have the event back on Network Television.  They mentioned it four or five times.

Photos by Michael Frate/AutoRacing1.com

NASCAR announces ’05 All-Star Challenge NASCAR announces ’05 All-Star ChallengeThe 21st NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge returns on Saturday, May 21 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, with the winner collecting over $1 million during one of the season’s most exciting evenings.  To coincide with the All-Star event, Nextel Communications Inc., Lowe's Motor Speedway, NASCAR and the North Carolina Local Organizing Committee (LOC) on Wednesday announced a series of events taking place during the 2005 NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge the week of May 21 in Charlotte, N.C. Story
Red Bull team to be featured on TV program Red Bull team to be featured on TV programUPDATE Reminder - this show will air tonight. 03/29/05 Ever wondered what it's like to drive at 220 miles per hour? For those with a need for adrenaline pumping speed we've got a triple dose of pure-action and all-out competition in three new National Geographic Channel (NGC) specials about the world of IndyCar Series racing.

On Thursday, April 7 from 8-11 p.m. ET/PT on NGC, IndyCar Racer shows an insider's view of what it takes to win in races around the country. Each one-hour special puts viewers on the racetrack and in the cockpit for an extraordinarily revealing look at the strategies, specialized technologies and intense personalities that merge in this high octane sport - where one hundredth of a second can be the difference between victory and defeat.

IndyCar Racer virtually transforms the viewer into a member of a world-class race team, enabling viewers to see through the eyes of an IndyCar Series driver wielding his rocket-like car just inches from concrete walls and other cars at harrowing speeds. You will hear what he hears as his team captain, coach and spotters feed him critical details and tactics during three races. But there's more to a team than the driver's experience and IndyCar Racer delivers the complete package.

Viewers feel the strain of the pit crew rushing to overhaul not one but two $1 million cars in record time. Grease monkeys? Not these guys. The pit team is part of 40 engineers and technicians, who have one mission every day - to find a way to squeeze more speed out of the car. Viewers will see how these engineers use aerodynamics and digital data to develop sophisticated pre-race plans and dynamic on-the-move adjustments.

Audiences also will see firsthand how team owner, captain and 1998 Indianapolis 500 Champion Eddie Cheever Jr. operates during a race and how he manages his team's psyche in the pits and in between races. In each episode, we follow the footsteps of drivers Alex Barron, a two-time IndyCar race winner, and rookie Ed Carpenter.

With cameras in nearly every part of the race experience, audiences feel the adrenaline, intensity, camaraderie, success, and even the disappointments of the Red Bull Cheever Racing team as they fight for a win.

"It's exhilarating and difficult. It takes a level of intensity that nothing else I have ever seen in motor sports does. I love it. It's my passion," Cheever explained.

"We have to win. We have no reason to exist if we're not winning races. You're not allowed to make any mistakes. Everything has to be perfect," Cheever calmly tells his team.

There's a fine line between aggression and recklessness. Crashes are part of racing, but crashes lose races. They also destroy million-dollar machines. No one is more aware of this delicate balance than Cheever. He's sensitive to his drivers' psyches and race strengths, while also feeling pressure from his sponsors, engine makers and even his own wallet.

Hundreds and thousands of hours of sweat, commitment and heart often comes down to minutes when critical decisions are made - like how hard to tighten a bolt, fuel mixture, tire wear, car height, spring adjustment, or even when to pit stop. IndyCar Racer brings these details home in three consecutive race experiences: the Delphi 300 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois; the Toyota 400 at the California Speedway in Fontana, California; and the Chevy 500 at the Texas Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.

IndyCar Series cars are made of thin carbon-fiber bodies with methanol fuel-injected, rear-mounted engines that crank out 650 horsepower. With twice the power and half the weight of a Corvette, these open-wheeled machines weigh just 1,600 pounds and act more like a rocket on four wheels than a car. In fact, specially crafted wings are designed to keep the racers on the ground. But when a car gets turned the wrong way, it will literally take off.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
'Schu weren't my hero'
Sauber must push hard - Massa
Gil to BAR - confirmed
Spanish action
'Go9' to meet in London
Trulli gave up Schu duel
Hill 'no' to race return
Hakk to debut
Alonso singled out
McLaren snub 'radio' feature
Honda successor named
Bahrain 'easier' - Massa
Heidfeld and 2006
'I can do the job' - Wurz
Scott is Speed 'by nature'
Trulli to be a Dad
Back, though, to Bernie
McDonald's(R) and Champ Car World Series Unite McDonald's(R) and Champ Car World Series UniteMcDonald's announced today that it will supercharge its partnership with the Bridgestone Presents: the Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford and "Give-A-Hand" to help raise awareness about the company's new, unprecedented goal of raising $50 million for Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC(R)) in honor of McDonald's 50th anniversary in 2005.

In addition to being the Official Fast Food Restaurant of the Champ Car World Series, McDonald's is a sponsor of Newman/Haas Racing, the team that earned its fifth series title in 2004 and is owned by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and racing entrepreneur Carl Haas. Along with PKV Racing, the team will be actively involved in the kick-off of McDonald's ambitious fundraising effort.

On Wednesday, April 6, at 2:30 p.m. (PT), reigning Champ Car World Series champion and McDonald's Ford-Cosworth-Lola-Bridgestone driver Sebastien Bourdais will lead a contingent of champion drivers in a caravan of Ford Mustangs from the streets of Long Beach, the site of the season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to be held on during the weekend of April 8 - 10, to the Ronald McDonald House at 4560 Fountain Avenue in Los Angeles, Calif.

Joining Bourdais, will be 2002 Champion Cristiano da Matta (Brazil), 1996 champion Jimmy Vasser (United States) and series runner-up for the third consecutive time in 2004, Bruno Junqueira (Brazil), to rev up some fun with the children and distribute some hot new toys.

"The link between sports and RMHC is as old as the organization itself, so we knew this was a natural fit," said John Lewicki, Director of Alliances, McDonald's USA. "We're excited to announce that Sebastien and Newman/Haas Racing plans to visit Ronald McDonald Houses throughout the 2005 season, in all U.S. cities hosting Champ Car races."

The idea for the Ronald McDonald House(R) began in Philadelphia in 1973, when Fred Hill, a member of the Philadelphia Eagles football team, learned that his three year old daughter, Kim, had leukemia. The Eagles organized fundraising efforts to assist Kim's, as well as other children's, fight against leukemia. During the course of these efforts, the idea of a 'home- away-from-home' where out-of-town families could stay during their child's hospital treatment, was born.

McDonald's current sponsorship of Champ Car originated from the company's partnership with racing team co-owner, philanthropist and actor Paul Newman. Newman's Own(R) salad dressings have been available in McDonald's restaurants nationwide since 2003.  The partnership officially began at the Grand Prix of Cleveland in 2003 when Bourdais first carried the Golden Arches to Victory Lane.

"It has been the perfect blend of methanol, salad and olive oil -- always a winning combination," said Paul Newman, who with racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas, co-own Newman/Haas Racing, the winningest active team in the Champ Car World Series. "Now Carl and I are just happy we can move this partnership toward benefiting a great cause in Ronald McDonald House Charities."

Champ Car's new Virtual GT game Champ Car's new Virtual GT gameNowadays, nearly every car and race enthusiast from young children to former Champ Car series champion Juan Pablo Montoya to college students to current NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. owns at least one video game console, be it a Playstation, X-box or whatever. For the 2005 season, Champ Car World Series joins these ranks of gamers in a very big way, thanks to new series partner Virtual GT - "The Official Personal Racing Simulator of the Bridgestone presents Champ Car World Series powered by Ford."

Packing such features as a custom Momo/Logitech steering wheel, adjustable pedals, 9-channels of audio totaling over 500 Watts, racing seat with 4-point harness, and 37" plasma display, the Virtual GT makes for an experience that, according to The Robb Report, is "not at all like a video game's." The Virtual GT stands as the very best personal racing simulator in the world.

Champ Car World Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven describes the deal he and MediaWide Marketing put together with Virtual GT creator Paul Stary as, "something that seemed quite natural considering Virtual GT makes the highest performance simulators on the street and Champ Car has the highest performance racecars on the street."

Virtual GT designer Paul Stary elaborates on the synergy. "When the opportunity to work with Champ Car arose, it almost seemed too good to be true," says Stary. "The very purpose of the Virtual GT has always been to deliver what's missing from most racing games and arcade simulators; the overall sensory and visceral feel of a racecar. I can't think of a race series that delivers more visceral and sensory overload to its fans than Champ Car, and we'd like to think that the Virtual GT does the same for its fans and customers."

Champ Car will celebrate the launch of its relationship at the 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 8-10), with two Virtual GT's first appearing at the 2005 Champ Car season "Launch" party on Thursday, April 7 at Smooth's in downtown Long Beach and four VGT's spending the race weekend in the PKV Racing hospitality area of the Champ Car paddock. In addition to the season opener at Long Beach, Virtual GT simulators will attend a number of Champ Car races throughout the season.

If you can't catch the Champ Cars and Virtual GT in person, see them live on NBC Sports Sunday April 10, 2005.

Busch driver fined for gesture Busch driver fined for gestureShane Hmiel was fined $10,000 and docked 25 points in the standings by NASCAR today for making an obscene gesture at Dale Jarrett during the Busch Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway earlier this week.  Hmiel was caught on his in-car camera flipping his middle finger at Jarrett after Jarrett leaned inside the window to complain about an accident Hmiel had caused during Monday's race.  The image was shown on live television.  "We are hopeful that Shane Hmiel will realize he is a professional race car driver and he needs to conduct himself as such," NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said.
GP2 series launches in France GP2 series launches in FranceMore than 350 media, sponsors and guests arrived at Circuit Paul Ricard in the South of France this morning for the launch of the inaugural GP2 series season. Representatives from each of our 12 teams were present at the celebration, which incorporated the battle for 2005 race numbers.

The day began with an official presentation at the circuit's "Mistral Hall." Lee McKenzie (ITV Sport) introduced the series, its personnel, teams and drivers to the assembled guests, who sat surrounded by each of the team's cars. Representing the GP2 series was the organizer Bruno Michel. Gianpaolo Dallara and Messrs Yasukawa and Hamamura represented Dallara and Bridgestone respectively, and Renault F1 Team boss Flavio Briatore was in attendance representing Renault.

The enigmatic Italian was full of praise for the GP2 series, calling it "the championship of the future," and gave some words of advice to the 24 drivers who would take to the track later in the day. "The GP2 series has strong partners and will be the perfect feeder series for Formula One," he said. "These drivers will be racing in front of Formula One every weekend, and from the first race on Saturday at Imola I know that every F1 team boss will be watching. If you are quick, we'll be fighting over you."

"It is quite emotional to see all the cars here today," said Bruno Michel. "We have been working for so long to get to this point, and today we launch our series to the world. I am looking forward to seeing the first competitive sessions this afternoon, and I am sure it will only serve to whet our appetites for the first race. I want to thank all of our partners for making this series possible. Without Renault, Bridgestone and Dallara, we would not be where we are today."

"The GP2 car is the most complete project that Dallara has every undertaken," said Gianpaolo Dallara. "In terms of performance and safety I have to say that I am very, very pleased. The design of this car has been a big challenge, but I am delighted with the results and I look forward to the first race."

Bridgestone's Hiroshi Yasukawa reiterated the pride which emanated from all of the speakers at today's launch. "We are extremely proud to be the official tire supplier to the GP2 series," he said. "With our many years of experience, GP2 presents us now with a fresh challenge. We have a long history of supporting young talent, especially in Japan and America, and we are delighted to be able to continue this tradition with the GP2 series alongside Renault and Dallara." GP2Series.com
Pantano looking good for Super Nova ride Pantano looking good for Super Nova rideGiorgio Pantano remains favorite for the last remaining GP2 seat at Super Nova, but a deal has not yet been done. Team boss David Sears said: "It looks like it's going to be Pantano and Shimoda, but nothing's definite."
NASCAR Steroids not an Issue? NASCAR Steroids not an Issue?UPDATE #2 The House Committee on Government Reform, which is investigating performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, sent letters Tuesday to seven sports organizations requesting information on their testing policies.  One sport won't be getting a letter right away: NASCAR.  Robert White, spokesman for committee chairman Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., said the committee has not decided whether to ask to review NASCAR's drug testing policy. "We're looking to see whether it makes sense for us to take a closer look at them," White said. "At this point, we don't know if it's something we want to do." News-Record 04/03/05 The governing body says performance-enhancing drugs are not an issue in Nextel Cup or its other series, but an expert in the field speaks to the contrary . “There’s a lot of money involved in NASCAR,” said Charles E. Yesalis, a Penn State health policy professor and sports-drug expert who has testified about steroids on Capital Hill. “Anybody that thinks people in one sport are more honest than another sport are just plain naive.” Yesalis said NASCAR, which does not have a mandatory drug testing policy, would be smart to turn its entire testing program over to the World Anti-Doping Agency to avoid the scrutiny other sports are under. “I doubt they have a huge problem, but it would deter one if they did,” he said. Yesalis, who will be at Bristol Motor Speedway for today’s Nextel Cup race, said steroid use in NASCAR likely would come with pit crew members that require strength, speed and agility. He said steroids would have little if no impact on a driver’s performance. Yesalis said he first became wary of possible steroid use in NASCAR when he heard teams were using professional strength and conditioning trainers to work with pit crew members. NASCAR has a drug policy that calls for random testing only as a result of reasonable suspicion of abuse of an illegal substance, including steroids. Yesalis said there aren’t always physical signs with steroids. NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said there is no mandatory testing as there is in the NFL and other sports because the sanctioning body doesn’t perceive there to be a problem. “There’s not even a suspicion of a problem in the sport,” said Poston, reminding many teams have their own drug testing policy separate from NASCAR’s. “We think the policy is very sound, that it is effective.” Some in the garage agree with Yesalis that NASCAR is being naive, particularly in light of the recent congressional hearings on steroids in baseball that is being expanded to the NFL after recent allegations of steroid involvement by members of the Carolina Panthers. They say NASCAR should take a more proactive position to avoid unnecessary scrutiny. NASCAR may not have a choice but to get involved in the steroid issue. The House Committee on Government Reform recently sent a letter to the NFL asking the league to submit information on its steroid testing policy. Only four drivers — Brian Rose in the truck series, Shane Hmiel and Kevin Grubb in Busch, Sammy Potashnick in the Winston Series West — are known to have tested positive during the past three years.  In part from The State 04/03/05 The House Committee on Government Reform sent a letter to NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue this week asking the league to submit information on its steroid testing policies. Major League Baseball has already gone before Congress, and the panel is expected to question the NBA, NCAA, the NHL and other major sports. But NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said he thinks the stock car series is safe. "We don't think that steroids are an issue in this sport," Poston said. There is currently no drug-testing plan for drivers or crew members in NASCAR, but the sanctioning body is allowed to test if there is reasonable suspicion. FoxSports
de la Rosa continues to shine, JV last de la Rosa continues to shine, JV lastTest times today from Barcelona.  Pedro de la Rosa continues to prove he deserves a ride, Villeneuve continues to prove he's washed up.
1. P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes - 1'14"391 (+0"000) - 88 laps
2. R. Zonta - Toyota - 1'14"516 (+0"125) - 65 laps
3. F. Alonso - Renault - 1'14"946 (+0"555) - 118 laps
4. A. Wurz - McLaren Mercedes - 1'15"178 (+0"787) - 65 laps
5. N. Heidfeld - BMW Williams - 1'15"337 (+0"946) - 123 laps
6. A. Pizzonia - BMW Williams - 1'15"442 (+1"051) - 54 laps
7. G. Fisichella - Renault - 1'15"462 (+1"071) - 78 laps
8. A. Davidson - BAR Honda - 1'15"500 (+1"109) - 143 laps
9. M. Gene - Ferrari - 1'15"737 (+1"346) - 120 laps
10. J. Button - BAR Honda - 1'16"137 (+1"746) - 109 laps
11. D. Coulthard - Red Bull Cosworth - 1'16"385 (+1"994) - 111 laps
12. O. Panis - Toyota - 1'17"153 (+2"762) - 47 laps
13. J. Villeneuve - Sauber Petronas - 1'18"096 (+3"705) - 74 laps
Sellers lands ALMS ride Sellers lands ALMS rideBryan Sellers, 22, of Centerville, Ohio, stepped up to auto racing’s major leagues when he signed to co-drive the No. 51 Esperante GTLM for the Panoz factory racing team in the 10-race, 2005 American Le Mans series of sports car endurance races.

Sellers, who won the 2002 championship in the fiercely competitive Formula Ford Zetec series with 8 victories and 7 pole positions, and was a standout in the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship, actually made his debut with the Panoz Motorsports team at the 53rd annual 12 Hours of Sebring on March 19. 

Co-driving with Canadian racer Scott Maxwell and fellow American Gunnar Jeanette, the team qualified the No. 51 Panoz fifth on the grid and were running very competitively until mechanical problems forced a lengthy visit to the pits for repairs and dropped them out of contention.

“The opportunity to drive for the Panoz team came as a bit of a surprise since all my experience has been in open-wheel racing, but I’m feeling very comfortable with both the team and the car,” says Sellers.  “This is a very professional team, and an extremely competitive series full of the world’s top sports car drivers, and to be able to run with the big dogs here is a genuine accomplishment.  I’d like to thank the Panoz team, and 3Dimensional Services for giving me this chance; they can rest assured I’ll make the most of it.”

American Le Mans series races range from 2 hours and 45 minutes to 12 hours in length.  The next event on the schedule is the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta, held at the Road Atlanta racetrack April 15-17.  The 2 hour 45 minute event will be televised live on CBS-TV starting at 12 noon on Sunday, April 17.  Sellers will be co-driving with Scott Maxwell; Jeanette joins the team for longer races.

“The entire team is very pleased with Bryan as a driver, and pleasantly surprised at how fast he adapted from open-wheel sprint racing to endurance racing in a production-based sports car,” says Ed Triolo, manager of the Panoz Motorsports team.  “He has been deeply involved in the preparation and setup of the car, and considering his lack of seat time in this kind of car, his lap times are very competitive.  He gets an A+ from us.”

Portland Auction to benefit Hole in the Wall Camps Portland Auction to benefit Hole in the Wall CampsGI Joe’s presents Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland in conjunction with Hole in the Wall Camps Charity and Newman/Haas Racing will be holding a national auction on www.ticketmaster.com/champcarauction  April 4 – 15, 2005.  All proceeds from this auction will go to Hole in the Wall Camps, a charity started by racing team co-owner Paul Newman.

The auction will feature one-of-a-kind opportunities for the fan to get up close and personal and take home great memorabilia from the GI Joe’s presents Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland.  The featured auction item is a chance for a lucky fan to become a member of the 2004 Championship-winning Newman/Haas Racing Pit Crew for a day, complete with autographed crew shirt, VIP Champions Club passes and access to Newman/Haas Racing hospitality for Saturday.

Other auction items include a racing flag and program signed by the series drivers, a pace car ride around Portland International Raceway, and various VIP Club and Pit Row Suite passes.  For a complete list of auction items and to bid please visit www.ticketmaster.com/champcarauction            

The Association of Hole in the Wall Camps is the largest family of camps in the world for children with serious illnesses and life-threatening conditions.  Camp activities are designed to allow full participation by the children in horseback riding, swimming, and rope courses – to name a few – despite their disease or disability.  They do things they never dreamed possible, and most magical of all, they just get to be kids and have fun.  The camps serve more than 10,000 people each year and have served more than 100,000 children since the first camp opened in 1988.  To learn more about the Hole in the Wall Camps please visit www.holeinthewallcamps.org

The Champ Car World Series gets under way this weekend with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 10th.  Fans in the Portland area can catch this first race of the year at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Viewing Party at On Deck Sports Bar (corner of NW 14th & Kearney) in the Pearl from 12 – 4pm.  The GI Joe’s presents Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland will be held June 17-19, 2005 at Portland International Raceway.

A1 Grand Prix
Chinese team announced Chinese team announcedThe 800-year old Diaoyutai State Guest House once the vacation home to Chinese emperors, today witnessed a momentous occasion in Chinese sporting history as it played host to the launch of A1 Team China, the country's first-ever motorsport team.

Celebrating the official launch of A1 Team China, the championship's largest team representing 1.3 billion people, high government officials, foreign diplomats and Chinese celebrities joined A1 Team China President Mr Liu Yu in the Fangfeiyuan Hall of the Diaoyutai State Guest House as he unveiled the A1 Grand Prix race car.

Speaking of his country's involvement in the new championship Mr Liu Yu said, 'A1 Grand Prix is a brand new concept for the world of motorsport emerging from the revolutionary thinking of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum and spreading throughout the world. A1 Grand Prix belongs to the whole world. As a member of this international family, A1 Team China will strive to realize the A1 dream and create a glorious championship.'

Welcoming A1 Team China to the championship, A1 Grand Prix Founder, President and Chairman Sheikh Maktoum commented, 'It is a great honor to hand over the Chinese car to 1.3 billion potential fans. I am sure the Chinese people and industry will be backing their national team and I wish them the best of luck in achieving their high aspirations.' He continued, 'I would like to extend my thanks to the Chinese government and people for the warm hospitality they have given me throughout my stay here.'

Playa Del Racing finally gets off ground Playa Del Racing finally gets off groundPlaya Del Racing, Inc., announced April 6 it has filed an entry for the 89th Indianapolis 500, with IndyCar® Series race winner Jaques Lazier as the driver.  The 89th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Entries must have been postmarked by midnight Wednesday, April 6.

Lazier, from Alta Loma, Calif., will drive the team's No. 21 Panoz/Toyota/Firestone entry. Lazier will attempt to drive in the Indianapolis 500 for the fifth time. His best finish is 13th as a rookie in 2000. Lazier drove in relief for Robby Gordon in the 2004 Indianapolis 500 after Gordon had to leave the race during a rain delay for NASCAR commitments at Charlotte, N.C.

Lazier, 34, younger brother of 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier, won the IndyCar Series race from the MBNA Pole in 2001 at Chicagoland Speedway. He also has extensive experience in Indy Lights, the American IndyCar Series and SCCA competition.

Playa Del Racing, which loosely translates to "Beach Racing" in Spanish, was founded in 2001 in the beach community of Playa Del Rey, Calif. Gary Sallee, Susan Schafer, Jeff Brougher and Jon Herb are the owners of the team.

Sallee, a licensed, practicing attorney who lives in Indianapolis, returns to the Indianapolis 500 after enjoying previous success at the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." He was a co-founder of Team Cheever, and Jeff Ward earned JPMorgan Chase Bank Rookie of the Year honors in 1997 after finishing third at Indy for the team.

Crown Royal to make regular season debut Crown Royal to make regular season debutCrown Royal will make its regular season debut as a primary sponsor of Kurt Busch's #97 Ford this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. This will be the first of five races that the #97 will exhibit the Crown Royal colors. Previously, Busch drove the Crown Royal car to a sixth place finish in the non-points Shootout race during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway. This week Kurt Busch participated in a broadcast television Public Service Announcement (PSA) on responsible drinking. The PSA is part of Crown Royal's commitment to promote responsible drinking with millions of NASCAR's adult fans through its "Be a Champion. Drink Responsibly." campaign. The PSA is scheduled to air throughout the summer and fall months. Crown Royal has unveiled a national television commercial starring the #97 Ford Taurus. Titled "Pace Car," the execution features the #97 racecar leading a fleet of automobiles in pace car formation through winding rural, suburban and city streets, eventually ending at a racetrack. The ad is punctuated with a voice over declaring, "Pacing is everything, especially when drinking," and closes with the brand's social responsibility tagline, "Be a Champion. Drink Responsibly." This marked the very first spirits ad since NASCAR announced it was allowing spirits companies to sponsor race teams. Alan Taylor Communications
Industry News
Moody's downgrades GM, warns Ford Moody's downgrades GM, warns FordMoody's Investors Service cut General Motors Corp.'s debt rating Tuesday, citing high health care costs, declining market share and an increasingly competitive market among the problems facing the world's largest automaker.  Moody's also warned it may reduce ratings for Ford Motor Co. and Ford Motor Credit Co. because it's concerned the nation's No. 2 automaker won't achieve its 2006 profit targets.

Ford also is suffering from high health care costs as well as losses at its Jaguar division, Moody's said. Another concern is the likelihood it will shoulder much of the cost of restructuring parts supplier Visteon Corp., a former Ford division.  Moody's downgraded GM to one notch above junk status. It also downgraded the automaker's finance arm, General Motors Acceptance Corp., to two levels above junk. Detroit Free Press

Derek Hill eyes IRL Derek Hill eyes IRLDerek Hill isn’t a rookie on ovals, having competed in the Barber Dodge Pro Series and Toyota Atlantics. But he was unaccustomed to the power and superior handling of the Red Bull Cheever Racing car on the variably-banked Homestead-Miami Speedway oval.

Hill, the 29-year-old son of 1961 Formula One World Champion Phil Hill, came to the facility with helmet in hand and dreams of competing in the IndyCar Series. Team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. allowed Hill to take his Indy Racing League rookie test in the No. 51 entry driven by Alex Barron. He passed – as the cliché goes – with flying colors.

A behind-the-scenes recap of the December test is included in the April edition of Road & Track magazine, which is on newsstands.

“My goal is to race in the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and use momentum from the race to enter the second half of the 2005 IndyCar Series season,” said Hill, who is scheduled to participate in the formal Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May. “It’s a little bit of a waiting game while I talk to teams and sponsors, but I am confident a deal will be worked out.

“I'm glad Road & Track covered my test and I hope Road & Track readers enjoy the article. I can't thank Eddie Cheever enough for the opportunity to try out the Dallara-Toyota car. It's given me even more motivation to make my IndyCar Series debut and I want to make the most of it." IndyCar.com

Industry News
GM pulling out all stops to increase sales GM pulling out all stops to increase salesIn an aggressive effort to stanch its bleeding market share, General Motors Corp. announced Tuesday it would immediately offer another $1,000 off all of its vehicles -- most of which are already being sold with big discounts -- in conjunction with its Hot Button giveaway, which it will revive next Monday. [Editor's Note: Psst, someone tell them to start making better cars and sales will increase.]
Honda names new President of F1 program Honda names new President of F1 programHonda has named Yasuhiro Wada as the replacement for Shoichi Tanaka as president of Honda Racing Development Ltd, the British-based company which oversees the Japanese company's F1 activities. Tanaka is retiring. Wada was formerly in charge of Honda Performance Development Inc. in the United States where he oversaw the company's Indy Racing League program from 2003.
Bell Micro Sponsors PKV Racing’s da Matta Bell Micro Sponsors PKV Racing’s da MattaBell Micro, one of the world’s largest value distributors of storage and computer products, and a Fortune 1000 company, announced today it will sponsor PKV Racing’s Cristiano da Matta during the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.

The #21 Bell Micro/ PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/ Lola/Bridgestone will make its debut this weekend at the 2005 season opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 8-10, in Long Beach, CA.

Bell Microproducts is an industry-recognized specialist in computer storage components and systems products, and is one of the largest storage-centric Information Technology companies in the world. Bell Microproducts has over 60 locations throughout North America, South America, and Europe and had global sales of $2.8 billion in 2004. The company markets and distributes more than 125 brand name product lines, as well as its own Rorke Data storage brands, to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), contract electronic manufacturing services (EMS) customers, value-added resellers (VARs) and system integrators. The company is one of the industries fastest growing companies with sales growing by 10 times in the last 9 years.

“We are thrilled to be associated with a world class team such as PVK racing and Cristiano da Matta, one of the best drivers in the world,” states Don Bell, President and CEO of Bell Microproducts. “We are optimistic that this will be a great season. Bell Micro is one of the highest performance companies in the world, and it is a pleasure to be teamed with one of the best racing teams in the world”

“We are very pleased to have Don Bell and Bell Mircoproducts join PKV Racing,” said Pettit. “We have been taking with Don for a while and I am happy were able to put this relationship together. Bell Microproducts is a tremendous company and I think that PKV Racing and the Champ Car World Series will provide it with a great marketing opportunity.”

Michael Shank announces 2nd prototype Michael Shank announces 2nd prototypeFresh off the team’s first podium finish of the 2005 Rolex Sports Car season, team owner Mike Shank is pleased to announce today that his team will be campaigning a second Daytona Prototype entry at the next round of the championship in the U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on the weekend of April 29-May 1.
The addition means that there will be a familiar face in the Michael Shank Racing pits, as Oswaldo Negri will return to the team, joining Pro Mazda Series racer Mark Patterson in the cockpit of a Lexus-Riley for the event. The two will run in tandem with the team’s full season drivers Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears Jr. in the Mears Motor Coach Pontiac-Riley.
The race marks the first time that the team will feature two entries in the Rolex ranks, although the team has extensive experience running multiple cars from its time in Toyota Atlantics.
“We are really excited about the Laguna weekend,” said award-winning team owner Mike Shank. “We are naturally pretty happy about our finish at Fontana this weekend, and now having Oswaldo back with us for the next race has everybody in a good mood, and we are looking forward to working with Mark as well. I have to thank George Robinson for leasing us the car for the race, because it’s allowing us to explore this opportunity with Mark and Oz without having to make the investment in a new car.”
Toyota Atlantic Season Preview Toyota Atlantic Season PreviewThe next generation of up-and-coming open-wheel racing stars will be unveiled this week as the 32nd season of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama hits the streets to kick off its 2005 schedule at the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
 The Atlantic grid will feature an infusion of new, talented young racers competing in North America’s top open-wheel development series this season alongside several series veterans and an expanded class of aggressive C2 category competitors. The new crop of talent will be on display this weekend as the 240 HP Atlantic machines attack the fabled 1.968-mile circuit on the streets of Long Beach in the first of 12 rounds in this season’s championship. Preview
CENTRIX signs on with Newman/Haas CENTRIX signs on with Newman/HaasFinancial services firm CENTRIX Financial announced today that they will be an associate sponsor of five-time Champ Car champions Newman/Haas Racing for the 2005 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.  Their logo will appear on the No. 1 entry for 2004 Champ Car champion Sébastien Bourdais and the No. 2 entry for Bruno Junqueira, who helped bring the team its best overall finish with his third consecutive second place rank in the 2004 season standings. 

“At CENTRIX we pride ourselves on being associated with winners,” said Robert E. Sutton, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CENTRIX Financial.  “And Newman/Haas Racing is truly a winning organization from top to bottom. I am thrilled to formalize our partnership with this team, and I am confident that this marks the beginning of a long-term association between our organizations.”       

In addition to a first and second place rank in 2004, Bourdais and Junqueira thrilled race fans with their performance at the 2004 CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver.  Junqueira attempted to win his third consecutive race on the streets of Denver but Bourdais came away with the victory in what he called the best race of his career after having charged from the back of the pack after an opening lap collision with his teammate.  The 2005 CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver will take place August 12-14, 2005.

“We welcome CENTRIX as a partner in racing, but we welcome them as partners in philanthropy as well,” said Paul Newman, co-owner of Newman/Haas Racing and founder of the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps, the world's largest family of camps for children with serious illnesses and life threatening conditions. CENTRIX has been a strong supporter of the Camps in the past, and plans to increase that support in the future.   

This will not be the first time CENTRIX Financial has aligned with members of Newman/Haas Racing.  Team co-owner Paul Newman and Sebastien Bourdais were members of Team CENTRIX in the CENTRIX Financial Baja Challenge class of the 2004 SCORE Tecate Baja 1000.  Newman teamed with CENTRIX Financial Chairman and CEO Bob Sutton as well as others in an entry that finished fourth in class while Bourdais and Pikes Peak Hill Climb winner and co-driver Rhys Millen finished third despite being sidelined for two hours due to damage sustained early in the race.  CENTRIX Financial was also a co-sponsor of the Newman Racing entry in the 2005 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in early February.

Roshfrans to sponsor Dominguez Roshfrans to sponsor DominguezA press conference at Mexico City this Tuesday announced Mexican lubricant company Roshrans as Mario Dominguez’s main sponsor. Phone company Telcel and the Mifel financial group were also unveiled as supporters of Dominguez.
Meeting today on Atlanta HOF bid Meeting today on Atlanta HOF bidThe ATLANTA CONSTITUTION reports the Fulton County Board of Commissioners today will consider a request from Central Atlanta Progress for $50,000 to “help devise an application package” for a NASCAR HOF. The meeting will be the “first time elected officials have discussed Atlanta’s NASCAR bid in public.” The Atlanta City Council is also expected to vote on a funding request, “but that debate has not occurred.” A site for the potential HOF and a source of up to $70M for construction “have not been identified” ATLANTA CONSTITUTION
ISC socking it to taxpayers ISC socking it to taxpayersThis ThatsRacing article ridicules ISC, who reports record profits each year, for asking the taxpayers in Washington to fund a portion of the construction of a new track so ISC can make even higher profits. They also sock it to the race fans at places like Daytona where fans next year are forced to buy races to 2 or 4 events rather than just the Daytona 500 as in the past or lose the seats they have held since the 70's. Greed.
Plans for All-Star Challenge to be announced Today Plans for All-Star Challenge to be announced TodayNextel, NASCAR, Lowe's Motor Speedway and the Charlotte Local Organizing Committee will collectively announce plans for the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge on Wednesday, April 6th, where the best of NASCAR will battle it out on May 21. During the press conference, several new enhancements to the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge week of activities will be announced.  LMS
Massa talks about ’05 season Massa talks about ’05 seasonconsistency, and with the weather forecast predicting temperatures of more than 40 degrees C for the weekend it made sense. I knew that this choice would cost me three to five tenths in qualifying, but I really concentrated on the race performance."

How did the race go for you?
"My whole race went well from the beginning to the end. In the opening laps I was considerably slower than the drivers on soft tires, but after 10, 12 laps my performance started to improve consistently. My quickest lap time in the race does not really reflect the performance since I always got stuck behind other drivers towards the end of my stints when you would normally set your best lap times as the fuel load has gone down. In addition, I didn't make the smallest mistake during the whole race, which is not easy here because the track is really slippery off the racing line and quite a few drivers had some hairy moments."

In Bahrain it was even hotter than in Sepang - how difficult is it for the driver over the whole duration of such a grueling race?
"It might surprise you, but the race in Bahrain was physically easy. I was not exhausted at all when I took the checkered flag and I didn't sweat too much. Although the temperature was higher than in Sepang, the race in Malaysia was much harder because of the high humidity in combination with a track layout which is physically more demanding. Bahrain was really an easy race from this point of view!"

You are not allowed to change tires from Saturday afternoon onwards under the regulations. How does this affect your job?
"It's a demanding challenge, but I like it. First of all it's even more important to make the right choice on Friday, and then, secondly, you really have to find the right balance between driving aggressively to be quick, and yet smooth to conserve the tires. It's really important not to exaggerate and not to push too hard. It's an interesting task, and I like it."

Where do you see the most potential for improvement for the Sauber Petronas C24?
"It's definitely in aerodynamics where we need to make more improvements. We made a step forward in Bahrain, and we will have more new parts for Imola. This is really the area where we need to push hard in order to make progress. On the positive side, the reliability of the C24 has been fantastic since the beginning of the season."

You have been in Formula One since 2002; how have you changed as a driver?
"Experience is so important in Formula One! Today I have a much better understanding of the car, all its technical aspects and how to find the best set-up. I can give more detailed input to the engineers and I have now the self-confidence to push the team in a positive way. But the experience also helps further to improve your driving, to know exactly when to drive more aggressively and when to hold back. And obviously, I have also improved in terms of consistency during the race."

What do you expect for the next races?
"My goal is to fight for points on a regular basis. We are testing some new parts in Barcelona this week and I expect that we will be able to further improve the performance of the Sauber Petronas C24." Sauber Petronas

Tuesday times from Barcelona Tuesday times from Barcelona
1. F. Alonso - Renault R25 - 1'15"146 (+0"000) - 124 laps
2. G. Fisichella - Renault R25 - 1'15"738 (+0"592) - 46 laps
3. M. Gene - Ferrari F2004M - 1'15"871 (+0"725) - 108 laps*
* Gene was in last year's car
Q and A with Jarno Trulli Q and A with Jarno Trulli
It's been a difficult start to the season for Sauber Petronas and after three Grand Prix, Felipe Massa has just two points to his name while his team-mate Jacques Villeneuve has yet to score. The team had not tested since the snow affected run at Imola before the season got underway, but despite this the team are pushing on with the development of the C24 and are on track with week in Barcelona for the first test of the season.

You scored two World Championship points in Sauber's 200th Grand Prix in Bahrain last weekend - this must have been a special feeling?
"For sure, it was a fantastic feeling to dedicate these points to the team at a very special moment, and I am proud of this. And also because these two points came at a good moment for the team, after our difficult start to the season. We have to take this momentum now to the next races."

You opted for the harder Michelin tire compound. Looking back, do you think it was the right decision?
"I think it was. When I made the choice on Friday, the harder compound showed excellent
Q. Jarno, two second places in succession! How does that feel?

JT: It's honestly a fantastic feeling to have claimed two successive podium places for Panasonic Toyota Racing and to have strengthened our second place in the Constructors' Championship. When I signed for Toyota last year I was impressed by the facilities but also mindful that the team had 50 races to its name whereas Ferrari has 50 years experience! I never expected to be so competitive so soon. It's a bit of a dream.

Q. Alonso apart, you seemed to have everyone else under control in Bahrain?

JT: I think I was more competitive than everyone in the field with the exception of Fernando. Michael Schumacher qualified the new Ferrari in front of me after a good lap on Sunday morning but I made a better start and got around the outside of him in Turn 1. Michael is not renowned for backing down though, and I did not want to throw away the promise of another super-competitive race by braving it out into Turn 2 with him and having an accident.

Q. And what was your assessment of the early laps?

JT: I was pretty comfortable and at that stage Michael looked quite threatening. He was very close to Fernando, who later said that he thought the Ferrari was on a lighter fuel load. But we never actually found out because Michael retired after just 12 laps. Even so, Michelin has done a tremendous job with the tires and so I felt confident that I would have beaten the Ferrari over a full race distance.

Q. Was it surprising to be so competitive without a good car balance on Friday?

JT: It was more than pleasing to be so competitive! We entered the weekend feeling that we could be as strong as we were in Malaysia. However, when we got to the track on Friday, I felt that the car was a little bit more challenging to drive, even if our lap times were still quick. There were some handling issues to be resolved, which we improved by Saturday. It's difficult to know exactly where you are with the car set-up at Sakhir. The track is built in the middle of a desert and the sand is an issue.

Q. What problems does the sand bring?

JT: First of all the sand makes the track slippery of course, which is why there were so many cars using the run-off areas on Friday. But, combined with high winds, it means varying levels of grip, which makes it difficult to assess set-up changes or make tire choices. The golden rule is to make one change at a time to assess progress, but with sand blowing onto different corners depending on the wind direction, even that is not foolproof. And our situation was complicated by our test driver, Ricardo Zonta, having a mechanical problem, which stopped him doing his full tire evaluation program during the second Friday free practice session.

Q. So the car was not ideal when you had to do empty tank qualifying?

JT: The car was not too bad on Saturday and improved from Friday, but I still didn't have total confidence to push 100%. It's actually quite demanding. When we qualified the old way, with 12 laps and all the cars out together, the first run would be a 'banker' lap, and then you'd gradually push more and more over the remaining three attempts. But now you get just one chance and the penalty for making a mistake is very severe. Then you've got to do it all again on Sunday morning with full tanks.

Q. What's the bigger challenge, the empty tank run or the race fuel session?

JT: Although you are going faster with empty tanks, it's probably easier to make a mistake with race levels of fuel. That's because with empty tanks and a light car, you might find you have more grip than you expected. Okay, you might not have squeezed the maximum from the car, but the car is at least in its optimum configuration. But with race fuel loads the car is heavier and more difficult to handle. You have to be quick but disciplined. On the positive side it's more about driver than car, which has to be good.

Q. The heat was even more intense than Malaysia. Was that a problem?

JT: Physically the heat was not more intense than in Malaysia, even if it was several degrees hotter. The car was actually a pleasure to drive in the race and I had no problems whatsoever. But Bahrain can be very tough on the machinery. Brakes are at the limit, as we saw with one team, and apart from sand making the track surface unpredictable, it can also wreak havoc on the engines. We bring a number of different air filters, for example, and make a decision on which one to run based on the conditions. The denser ones keep more sand out, but at the expense of engine power. Some of the engine guys estimate that it can cost you as much as 20bhp. You have to get things like that right because, as you would imagine, racing engines and sand do not make happy partners! Once again the team did a great job and I can't emphasize enough how impressive it is for us still to have a 100% reliability record after the first three flyaway races.

Q. Can you maintain momentum when the European season begins at Imola?

JT: I don't see why we cannot keep this pace up, although historically Imola has not been a happy circuit for Toyota. In the past the car has had some problems running the curbs, which is an intrinsic part of squeezing a quick lap time out of a car at Imola. But as Mike Gascoyne says, you solve a whole myriad of problems with a decent aero package and we have certainly made progress in that area. We will have more aero updates at San Marino and I hope that will bring us even more success for the upcoming European events. Toyota

Industry News
Major revamp for Donington Park Major revamp for Donington ParkDonington Park is to undergo a multi-million pound refurbishment program intended to make the home of the British MotoGP one of the most modern race circuits in the world. Last year’s MotoGP attracted a record-breaking crowd of 129,738 over the course of three days, with 82,091 spectators turning out on race day despite wet weather at the Leicestershire parkland venue.

And now Donington Park Leisure, the company who run the circuit on behalf of leaseholders Clear Channel Entertainment, have confirmed a £4m (€5.8m) modernization of the pit and paddock areas, as well as race control and the international media centre. The works are scheduled to begin after the running of the 2005 MotoGP in July and be completed by the autumn.

Pantano tops Tuesday testing Pantano tops Tuesday testingItalian F1 refugee Giorgio Pantano was fastest Tuesday on the 2nd day of GP2 testing at Paul Ricard
Morning session
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. G. Pantano Super Nova 1:19.114 42 laps
 2. N. Piquet Hitech Piquet Sports 1:19.204 43 laps
 3. B. Garcia Racing Engineering 1:19.242 12 laps
 4. N. Rosberg ART Grand Prix 1:19.342 41 laps
 5. H. Kovalainen Arden International 1:19.561 47 laps
 6. S. Speed iSport International 1:19.625 35 laps
 7. N. Lapierre Arden International 1:19.742 42 laps
 8. N. Jani Racing Engineering 1:19.750 18 laps
 9. E. Viso BCN Competicion 1:19.769 9 laps
10. R. Dumas GP2 Series 1:19.858 37 laps
11. J.C. Alvares Campos Racing 1:19.870 29 laps
12. R. Sharp DPR 1:19.895 46 laps
13. O. Pla DPR 1:19.906 42 laps
14. G. Bruni Coloni Motorsport 1:19.939 40 laps
15. J.M. Lopez Dams 1:20.253 39 laps
16. A. Negrao Hitech Piquet Sports 1:20.283 35 laps
17. H. Shimoda Super Nova 1:20.335 31 laps
18. F. Fauzy Dams 1:20.463 12 laps
19. H. Yoshimoto BCN Competicion 1:20.544 19 laps
20. C. Artam iSport International 1:20.724 27 laps
21. F. Monfardini Durango 1:20.807 29 laps
22. M. Lauda Coloni Motorsport 1:20.808 31 laps
23. S. Hernandez Campos Racing 1:20.872 12 laps
24. C. Piccione Durango 1:21.094 12 laps

Afternoon session
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. J.M. Lopez Dams 1:19.546 21 laps
 2. G. Bruni Coloni Motorsport 1:19.627 27 laps
 3. N. Jani Racing Engineering 1:19.637 24 laps
 4. N. Piquet Hitech Piquet Sports 1:19.638 21 laps
 5. H. Kovalainen Arden International 1:19.711 24 laps
 6. G. Pantano Super Nova 1:19.750 36 laps
 7. R. Sharp DPR 1:19.877 42 laps
 8. O. Pla DPR 1:19.972 40 laps
 9. J.C. Alvarez Campos Racing 1:20.158 24 laps
10. N. Rosberg ART Grand Prix 1:20.315 11 laps
11. S. Speed iSport International 1:20.460 28 laps
12. F. Monfardini Durango 1:20.501 21 laps
13. A. Negrao Hitech Piquet Sports 1:20.589 23 laps
14. B. Garcia Racing Engineering 1:20.604 8 laps
15. S. Hernandez Campos Racing 1:20.624 32 laps
16. N. Lapierre Arden International 1:20.671 31 laps
17. C. Piccione Durango 1:20.811 24 laps
18. A. Premat ART Grand Prix 1:20.887 8 laps
19. F. Fauzy Dams 1:21.015 19 laps
20. H. Shimoda Super Nova 1:21.031 26 laps
21. M. Lauda Coloni Motorsport 1:21.429 18 laps
22. C. Artam iSport International 1:21.569 15 laps

Bessette confident for Long Beach Bessette confident for Long BeachIn only his fourth year in road racing, Antoine Bessette has already reached the upper level of the ladder series, the Toyota Formula Atlantic championship. The 22-year old driver from Saint-Bruno, Quebec, was quite a revelation for his team when they tested for two days last week in Arizona, getting ready for the 32nd season maiden race in Long Beach, California. In last week testing sessions, Bessette quickly got to speed and earned the second best time among the drivers on location. He will line up with Polestar Racing Group and engineer Jim Griffith who was part of three championship seasons since 1997.

 “I’m very comfortable with a Formula Atlantic car, admits Bessette who has driven in the Barber-Dodge series and two seasons in Formula Renault. It’s a fantastic racing machine that requires respect, understanding and a careful setup. Up to now, my work with Jim (Griffith) and Bruce (Potter) has been very positive. We will test again this week in Nevada before we head out to Long Beach. I’m very confident for this weekend.”
Familiar with street racing Although this will be a first for Bessette on the streets of Long Beach, the young man has no problem driving an urban track. He declares: “I have raced in Trois-Rivières and Toronto but the Vancouver Indy is the most challenging in Canada. I don’t mind getting close to concrete and I like to find the limits of a race track. I plan to meet with Andrew Ranger who drove here last year. Andrew and I competed together in the Fran-Am series two years ago.”

Only Canadian in Toyota Atlantic Many Canadians met with success in this series but Antoine Bessette will be the only Canadian representative on the 2005 roster. After the Villeneuve, Carpentier, Empringham and Valiante, the legacy means a lot to the young man: “Any Canadian who gets a chance to drive in this series is on a mission. This is the way I feel entering the first race but I will use this pressure positively when I take to the track Friday morning on the shores of Long Beach.”

Formula BMW
Lacroix launches Formula BMW season Lacroix launches Formula BMW seasonMore than 200 guests, dignitaries and sponsors gathered in a Montreal hotel for the official season launch of Kevin Lacroix in the Formula BMW USA and the presentation of his road racing FB2 single seater. A very colorful evening where sponsors and partners showed their support and their trust towards the 16-year-old rookie driver from St-Eustache, Quebec. A number of racing fans were present and Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières Friends took the opportunity to present their annual racing scholarship to Lacroix.

“I’m so thankful to my parents, my sponsors and all those who helped me in my eight karting years, said Kevin. Tonight is a definitely a landmark in my career and I think this gets me more nervous than starting a big race from pole position! This year, I have a very strong team and the test days have been very positive so far.”

“We look up to young men like Kevin to become ambassadors of our community, spoke the Mayor of St-Eustache, Claude Carignan. I am always impressed when I read the name of our city next to Kevin’s name when I read a paper or search on the Internet, especially with Kevin racing all across North America.”

“We like the poise, dedication and determination of this young man, added Jacques Landreville, president of Uni-Select, the largest independent wholesaler aftermarket network in Canada. We know he is going to succeed and we want to assure him of our total support in the coming years.”

Vasser: PKV is a whole new team Vasser: PKV is a whole new teamSpeaking about the start of the 2005 season, Jimmy Vasser said, “I am pleased with the progress the PKV Racing team made during the off-season.  The process of integrating all of the new team members and programs went very well… as we expected, and I feel we have definitely upgraded the team.  The whole team worked very hard during the off-season and we could not have achieved any more in the amount of time we had.  That is a tribute to the leadership of Jim McGee.  We are well prepared and I am confident heading into the start of the season.  I think the fans will see a whole new PKV Racing team in 2005…one that will be very competitive.” 

Vasser will be making his 14th Champ Car start on in Long Beach.  In 13 previous races he has finished in the top-10 a total of nine times including five top-five showings with three podium performances and a win in 1996.  His captured the pole in 2002 the eighth, and most recent, of his Champ Car career.

“The Long Beach Grand Prix is always one of the favorite races for everyone in the Champ Car World Series,” Vasser began.  “It is a fantastic place to start the season.  The Long Beach race has a great atmosphere and a lot of energy.  I have had some success there (won in 1996 in route to the championship) and because of the history of the event, there are not many races I would rather win,” he explained.  “I am really looking forward to getting the 2005 season off to a good start at Long Beach,” Vasser concluded.

Da Matta says team has really come together Da Matta says team has really come togetherCommenting on the upcoming season, Cristiano da Matta, who has logged almost 1000 miles in preseason testing said, “I am very happy with the way things went for the PKV Racing team during the off season.  I think we made a lot of progress in every way.  We have a lot of new team members and I am very pleased with the way everybody has worked together and come together as a team.  I am also pleased with the progress we made developing the cars.  However, it is also good to remember how close all the teams and drivers were during the last few tests.  Everybody was within a few tenths of a second of each other and nobody was really dominant.  So, even though PKV Racing is very confident heading into the start of the season, I would also have to say that we are cautiously confident.  The 2005 Champ Car World Series season is going to be a very tight fight for the championship.”

Da Matta will be making his fifth Champ Car start on 1.968-mile, 11 turn Long Beach street circuit.  In four previous races he has finished in the top-10 twice with a best showing of second in 2001.  His best starting position is second in 2002.  Da Matta’s only victory at Long Beach came in 1998 when he won the Indy Lights Championship race in route to the 1998 Indy Lights title.

“The Long Beach Grand Prix is one of my favorite races because I like the track so much,” da Matta said.  “It is one of my two favorite street circuits (Surfers Paradise is the other).  The track is very challenging with a good combination of fast and slow corners, plus it has a great atmosphere with all the fans and activities,” he noted.  “I won in Indy Lights at Long Beach, but I am still pursuing my first win there in a Champ Car.  We will just have to see how things go this year.  I have to say I am very excited to be going back to Long Beach for first time in three years and getting the 2005 season started,” da Matta concluded.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Prince of Monaco dies
Klien out, Liuzzi in
Alonso's high speed scare
'PS05' to debut - Stoddart
McLaren 'too gentle'
'No regret' - Ferrari's Brawn
Gil de Ferran to run BAR
Wurz should win Imola ride
Dudot abandons retirement
JV turned down cash offer
Bourdais likes St. Pete race Bourdais likes St. Pete raceSebastien Bourdais was a spectator Sunday. An experienced road-course driver, he would have preferred to be in a car rather than the stands.  "It was a quite a good show actually," said Bourdais, a St. Petersburg resident in his third CART season. "It's just too bad there weren't 30 cars on the racetrack and we were all together. But it's going to happen sooner or later. It's just a matter of time." Sptimes.com  [Editor's Note:  Although he lives there, was Sebastien in St. Pete lobbying Honda to give him engines for the Indy 500 so he can run alongside Bruno Junqueira?  Bet on it.]
Enge compares IndyCar to Champ Car Enge compares IndyCar to Champ CarThe first time we run the car in Homestead on the road course track. I was really surprised how the car is braking, how it's responding, how it's actually fast, you know, around the track. I thought, you know, this car is built up for high speed ovals, and it never can be competitive on a road course track. But if you look at the times that we've done in St. Pete in qualifying compared to Champ Car two years ago, we were only probably one-and-a-half seconds off, which was less than -- or more than I think 100 or 150-horsepower less in the car. I think it's really good. So I think the car was very fast, and I was surprised. To drive the car on a road course track was a pleasure for me. It's obviously a bit different than F3000 or F1 because these cars are built up completely differently. You have different rules, and you have different things, engine, tires and whatever. But I tested the Champ Car, as well, two years ago and I would say that the car is maybe slightly better than, handling-wise, than Champ Car. It's good fun, and obviously I was really enjoying the track because road course tracks, street tracks, that's something for me and I would really appreciate if we would have some more races like that on the calendar. Tomas Enge
Cytomax Sports Drink sponsors LB opener Cytomax Sports Drink sponsors LB openerCytomax Sport Drink has signed on as title sponsor for this weekend's 2005 season opener for the Trans-Am Series, part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The event, scheduled from Friday, April 8 to Sunday April 10, will be called the Cytomax Challenge.

The event is being sponsored by Cytosport's popular Cytomax Sport Drink and its convenient, but smart protein/meal replacement, Muscle Milk. Cytosport is owned by 1978 Trans-Am Drivers' Champion Greg Pickett. Pickett will also be driving the No. 6 Jaguar XKR in the Cytomax Challenge. Cytomax last sponsored a Trans-Am Series race in 2004 at Denver.

"We are thrilled to sponsor the Trans-Am race in Long Beach and to celebrate Trans-Am's 40th consecutive season," said Pickett, who finished an impressive second in last year's Long Beach race, a record .322 of a second behind Paul Gentilozzi. "Southern California is an extremely important market to Muscle Milk and Cytomax. We made a strategic decision last year to use Trans-Am at Denver to help launch our ready-to-drink Cytomax in the Denver market. That decision exceeded our expectations and we think our involvement with Trans-Am in Southern California will yield similar results. The added visibility and excitement that is part of the Trans-Am Series will certainly benefit Cytomax Sport Drink and Muscle Milk.

"This is an added bonus to my competing at Long Beach," added Pickett. "Long Beach's enthusiastic crowd and the atmosphere always give us an added boost. We are seeking positive results both on and off the track here."

"We are privileged to welcome Cytomax as our Long Beach title sponsor," said Series Executive Director John Clagett. "Greg is a longtime competitor and supporter of the Trans-Am Series. He boasts a history second to none in the Trans-Am field, with a record of excellence going back four decades.

"We are also excited about his ongoing success with Muscle Milk and Cytomax," added Clagett, "and we are extremely honored Trans-Am continues to be among his company's chosen sports marketing vehicles. This is the continuation of a win-win partnership forged at Denver last season. We are certain this partnership will continue to produce superb results."

Long Beach preview Long Beach previewThe 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will feature one of its strongest and most talented driver lineups in many years, and each of the drivers that comprise that lineup will be out to prove their worth as the 14-race season kicks off with Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Preview
IRL officials pleased with results from St. Petersburg IRL officials pleased with results from St. PetersburgIndy Racing League and IndyCar Series team officials were pleasantly surprised by the performance of the IndyCar Series during its race-use at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

"I think it genuinely did surprise us," said Les Mactaggart, IRL senior technical director. "You always anticipate some level of problems when you go to a completely different track configuration from the ones that you are used to. We thought we had all the ingredients we needed to make the transition as smooth as possible, but it still was a bit of surprise that it went to plan."

Mactaggart said the smooth transition is a product of the development work done over the past two years. Road-course radiators and sidepods mandated prior to the 2004 season helped eliminate any cooling issues associated with taking cars from high-speed to low-speed circuits. Suspension and braking changes were also addressed during off-season testing.

"I think there were many questions marks about these cars and how they would road race, but our team hasn't had any issues with gearboxes or brakes, which is what everyone was worried about," said Scott Roembke, the chief operating officer for Rahal Letterman Racing. "The motors performed as you'd expect from Honda and so did the Panoz. We were totally pleased with the road race cars."

But despite the success of the package's first race performance, Mactaggart said the development of the package in on-going.

"We did have one mechanical failure, but in motor racing you expect some level of that," Mactaggart said. "Regardless of series, you want to make the parts as reliable as possible, but you also want to make it as light as possible. Until you get that aspect right, you expect mechanical issues. There are a many number of things that cause the failure to occur. So for the very few we faced, we were pleasantly surprised."

Jensen Motorsport going Cold Turkey Jensen Motorsport going Cold TurkeyUPDATE To clarify one item - Russ Cameron is working for Champ Car in helping some of the teams get ready for Long Beach.  He is not employed by Jensen. 04/05/05 Jensen Motorsport will not test before the Long Beach race.  The transporter is on its way to Long Beach and will sport #41 and is painted blue, white and green.  Their pit box will be between Tracy and da Matta.  Russ Cameron, who comes over from PKV (da Matta's team) will manage the race effort, at least for Long Beach.
Long Beach Hot Topics - IV Long Beach Hot Topics - IV
Inaugural Long Beach Drifting Challenge - The first event resultant from the new-for-2005 alliance between Champ Car and Formula D, this event is huge in terms of significance and overall history as it marks the FIRST time professional drifting has EVER legally taken to the streets. This is also the FIRST time professional drifters have utilized an entire racing circuit, and thanks to the huge crowds the Champ Cars draw to the streets of Long Beach, this will be the largest audience the entire sport compact youth automotive industry has ever serviced.

Long Beach Street Show - This year, the streets surrounding the city's new entertainment enclave - The Pike at Rainbow Harbor - will also play host to a fleet of highly modified, high-style, high-performance machinery thanks to The Long Beach Street Show, Friday April 8, 7pm-11pm. Lining the streets of the self-contained haven of entertainment and dining that is The Pike will be dozens of the finest show, drift, rally, race and street cars from the Southern California sport compact scene competing for cash prizes and merchandise provided by The Pike and its many merchants including Game Works, Long Beach Clothing Company, Coldstone Creamery, Island's and California Pizza Kitchen.

Alternative Media at Long Beach - Thanks to the efforts of Champ Car and communications/promotional partner MediaWide Marketing, this year's 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will play host to every significant tuner market and youth automotive culture media outlet. With the inclusion of drifting and Champ Car's bold youth market actions such as its partnership with Formula D and MediaWide, the 2005 Champ Car season-opener at Long Beach will be exposed to a whole new breed of media, markets and future fans.

Waltrip's last race at Martinsville Waltrip's last race at MartinsvillePreparing for his last race in the #11 Toyota Tundra at Martinsville Speedway, Darrell Waltrip reflects his most memorable moments at the famed oval where he's won 11 times. In 16 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts, Waltrip's best career finish is fifth at Martinsville (09/21/96). Waltrip may not race again, but the three-time Nextel Cup champion professes he's not out of the game. "I'm not going to race competitively again," said Waltrip, who finished 24th at the .526-mile oval last spring. "People need to realize something, I retired in 2000. Ever since then, everything I've done is for fun. It would be no different if you were a professional baseball player or a golfer and you still like to play the game. I still like to the play game. It's like going to Martinsville a few weeks ago and testing with David and Robert. I still want to do that. It's not that I'm not never going to get in a car or truck again. Until I don't think I'm physically capable of driving a car or truck around the racetrack, I'll probably hop in there every now and then just for fun." Dabbling in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since 1995, Waltrip has collected one top-five and eight top-10 finishes. Continuing his racing career, Waltrip's primary focus is his commitment to Toyota. "This is the best thing I've ever done," said Waltrip. "When I talk about desire, commitment and purpose, Toyota has the same goals I have. That's why I love working with them. I want to do whatever Toyota wants me to do, whether it's being a truck owner for the rest of my racing career or expanding into Busch or Cup." DW Motorsports PR
Servia gets nod by Dale Coyne Servia gets nod by Dale CoyneVeteran Oriol Servia (#19 American Medical Response Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) returns to the Dale Coyne Racing squad for a second year in 2005, rejoining the Illinois-based team after giving it one of the most successful seasons in its 21 years of Champ Car competition. The Spaniard became the first driver ever to take a Dale Coyne car to the top 10 in the season standings, finishing in a tie for ninth in the final standings.
Industry News
U.S. Sports TV Channel NASN to Expand in Europe U.S. Sports TV Channel NASN to Expand in EuropeThe North American Sports Network said on Monday television viewers in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Iceland are about to get its channel dedicated to U.S. baseball, basketball and NASCAR auto racing as it continues to push its expansion in Europe. NASN said it would reach 20 million homes in continental Europe with the new deals, and it already has channels in Britain, Ireland and Germany. "NASN is committed to developing and expanding itself throughout Europe," Chief Executive Amory Schwartz said. He launched NASN in Britain and Ireland in 2002 with the backing of Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen. NASN is among the new breed of broadcasters trying to capitalize on the growing penetration of digital, multichannel television in Europe. Reuters
MSA announces PR deal with Cleveland Grand Prix MSA announces PR deal with Cleveland Grand PrixIn the effort to increase the exposure of supermodified racing to a whole new group of racing fans, the Enerco/Mr. Heater Midwest Supermodified Association has struck a deal with the Cleveland Grand Prix for 2005. The four-year-old sanctioning body will be actively promoting the Champ Car Series event at its events this spring and in return will have primary public relations access the Cleveland event in June. At least five supermodifieds will be on display along with the MSA souvenir trailer the entire weekend at the Burke Lakefront Airport venue. Drivers and mechanics will be on hand to answer question and sign autographs for fans for the entire event.

"This is great opportunity to expose our style of open wheel racing to a group of fans who can appreciate a technologically advanced race car," said incoming MSA president Lee Booze. "One of drivers, Randy Burch, really went to bat for the whole organization to secure this opportunity. It’s a win-win situation. I believe we can expose short track fans to the opportunity to see the champ cars close to our home base, and at the same time we can increase the awareness of supermodified racing to a whole new segment of the racing population," Booze added.

Long Beach Hot Topics - III Long Beach Hot Topics - III
Is This The Year? – The glory of the Champ Car World Series may well lie in its future, and the drivers that will take the series to that future will be looking to use the 2005 campaign as a springboard to greatness. Drivers such as A.J. Allmendinger, Justin Wilson and Oriol Servia have come agonizingly close to their first Champ Car victories in their young careers and will be looking to take that all-important next step to tasting victory champagne.

Youth is Served – The Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing team run by Eric Bachelart and Mike Lanigan will be the youngest squad in the history of Champ Car racing in 2005 as they take to the track with teenagers Nelson Philippe and Andrew Ranger at the wheel. Philippe became the youngest driver in series history last year when he ran at Long Beach at the age of 17 years, eight months and 25 days. Ranger will become the second-youngest driver in the annals of Champ Car with his Long Beach start as the 18-year-old makes his series debut.

Toyota Atlantic Drivers Step Up – Continuing its tradition as the top proving ground for open-wheel talent in North America, two more drivers from the Toyota Atlantic Championship will step up into Champ Cars in 2005 as Ronnie Bremer and Andrew Ranger make the jump. Ranger and Bremer finished 1-2 respectively in the series’ Rookie-of-the-Year chase in 2004 and will join recent Atlantic grads Ryan Hunter-Reay and A.J. Allmendinger in the Champ Car field.

Vasser Marches On – Despite his status as the oldest driver of the Champ Car World Series, Jimmy Vasser has proven time and again that racing is his passion. Vasser carries a series-record streak of 197 consecutive starts into this weekend’s event at Long Beach and will be the first driver in any form of U.S.-based open-wheel racing to make 200 consecutive starts when the series reaches Milwaukee in June.

Aussies On Board – The 2005 season marks the arrival of Team Australia to full-time Champ Car competition as Australian businessmen Craig Gore and John Fish have joined with long-time series campaigner Derrick Walker to form the new Team Australia Racing squad. The former Walker Racing team will run a pair of Lolas in this year’s series, including one for veteran Alex Tagliani, who comes to the team after scoring a personal-best seventh-place finish in the 2004 season standings. He will be joined by Aussie rookie Marcus Marshall, who comes to the series after a successful season in the F3 ranks.

One More Step – Bruno Junqueira is the first driver since Bobby Rahal (1982-85) to win races in each of his first four seasons in Champ Car. Those wins and his remarkable consistency has kept him in the title hunt in each of the last three years, as he has become the first driver since Johnny Rutherford (1974-76) to finish as the series runner-up in three consecutive seasons. He carries an active streak of six consecutive podiums into this weekend’s race, and another podium this weekend would make him just the 11th driver in series history to have as many as seven consecutive top-three finishes.

Long Beach Hot Topics - II Long Beach Hot Topics - II
Long Beach Legacy – One of the longest-running events on the Champ Car World Series calendar, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will see the Champ Cars run for the 22nd time as the green flag flies on Friday’s first practice. The race has become one of the staples not only on the Champ Car calendar, but on the Southern California sports scene and the success of the race in the last two decades has directly led to an economic boom in the region as many new housing and entertainment complexes have been constructed in the area surround the track.

Ever-Expanding Series – The 2005 season will feature three new events on the Champ Car World Series calendar and has already seen an historic new event slated for 2006. Races in Edmonton, San Jose, California and Ansan, South Korea have been added to the 14-race lineup while a race in Beijing, China will be part of the 2006 season. The Beijing event will mark the first time that a U.S.-based racing series will compete in mainland China.

Safety First – Cementing its standing as one of the safest racing series in the world, the Champ Car World Series will look to continue its remarkable run of incident-free racing in 2005. The efforts of the Champ Car Safety Team and the on-site, state-of-the-art medical team led by Dr. Chris Pinderski, combined with the skill of the drivers and teams of the series have led to two years of safety that has seen just one driver miss a race due to an injury, that coming in Cleveland in 2003 when Tiago Monteiro was held out of the race due to a mild concussion.

McDonald’s Makes Moves – In its first full season as the Official Fast Food Restaurant of Champ Car, McDonald’s is using its new relationship with Champ Car to bring joy to children and their families. The primary sponsor of the #1 McDonald’s Newman/Haas Racing machine of Sebastien Bourdais, the fast-food giant will be taking Champ Car drivers on visits to a number of Ronald McDonald Houses in race markets to visit sick children and their families. The Ronald McDonald House program is one of the world leaders in giving aid to the families of children that have been stricken with illnesses that requires lengthy hospital stays.

Trailing Tracy – Rapidly entrenching himself among the sport’s great drivers, 2003 series champion Paul Tracy returns in search of a second title. The leader among active American open-wheel drivers in terms of wins (28), poles (22), starts (222) and laps led (3,672), Tracy will be shooting for his fifth Long Beach win when the green flag drops this weekend.

Long Beach Hot Topics - I Long Beach Hot Topics - I
Terrific Talent – This year’s driver lineup is the deepest in terms of talent to grace the Champ Car World Series in many years. This year’s roster features four former Champ Car title winners, the most to appear in the lineup since 2001. In addition, 10 of this year’s drivers have earned Champ Car podium finishes and eight have Champ Car victories to their credit.

F1 Migration – To further illustrate the depth of field this season, the 2005 driver roster has four drivers that have recent experience in Formula 1 including newcomers Timo Glock (Jordan, 2004), Bjorn Wirdheim (Jaguar, 2004) and Cristiano da Matta (Toyota, 2003-04). In addition, the series features four former FIA International F3000 champions (Wilson, Bourdais, Junqueira, Wirdheim), who have proven themselves in one of the top open-wheel feeder series in the world.

Bourdais’ Defense – 2004 Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais will look to become the first driver since Gil de Ferran (2000-01) to defend his series title. One of the youngest drivers ever to reach double-digits in Champ Car wins (10), Bourdais carries an active Champ Car record into the 2005 season as he has qualified in the top three in 15 consecutive races dating back to the 2003 season finale.

Shutting the Window – In an effort to introduce more race craft and strategy into Champ Car racing, the series has eliminated the mandatory pit windows that have been in effect for the last two seasons. Teams now have the ability to employ a number of different strategies in regard to pit stops as they fight for the top step of the podium.

Contacting Dover Motorsports Contacting Dover MotorsportsThousands of Champ Car fans have asked us where to send correspondence to Dover Motorsports regarding the Long Beach race. Rather than send out so many emails, here is the contact info:

Dover Motorsports, Inc.
P.O. Box 843
1131 N. DuPont Highway
Dover, DE 19903

Henry B. Tippie
Chairman of the Board

Denis F. McGlynn
President & CEO

Phone: 302-674-4600
Fax: 302-672-0100
E-mail: mcorzine@dovermotorsportsinc.com


Our Corporate Governance Guidelines have been adopted under the rules of the New York Stock Exchange and require that we have a means for interested persons to share their concerns with the Presiding Director of our NonManagement Directors or with our NonManagement Directors as a group.

Interested persons, including our stockholders, are encouraged to send communications to any member of our Board of Directors, to the entire Board of Directors or to any Committee or group of Directors, such as our NonManagement Directors.

Communications should be mailed as follows:

{designate Director(s), Committee(s) or group to whom you wish your communication sent}
c/o Klaus M. Belohoubek
Senior Vice President - General Counsel
Dover Motorsports, Inc.
Concord Plaza
3505 Silverside Road
Plaza Centre Bldg., Suite 203
Wilmington, DE 19810

Denis McGlynn
Chief Executive Officer
Henry B. Tippie
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Chairman of the Board of Directors of
Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment, Inc.
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive
Officer of Tippie Services, Inc.
Denis McGlynn*
President and Chief Executive Officer
President and Chief Executive Officer of
Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment, Inc.
Patrick J. Bagley
Senior Vice President – Finance
and Chief Financial Officer
Kenneth K. Chalmers
Former Executive Vice President –
Bank of America
Melvin Joseph
Vice President and Director of Auto Racing
For Dover International Speedway, Inc.
Jeffrey W. Rollins
Principal, Context Ventures Inc.
President, Label Dynamics, Inc.
John W. Rollins, Jr.
Former Chief Executive Officer
of Rollins Truck Leasing Corp.
R. Randall Rollins
Chairman of the Board of Rollins, Inc.
Chairman of the Board of RPC, Inc.
Chairman of the Board of
Marine Products Corporation
Eugene W. Weaver

Denis McGlynn
President and Chief Executive Officer
Patrick J. Bagley
Senior Vice President – Finance
and Chief Financial Officer
Jerome T. Miraglia
Executive Vice President
Klaus M. Belohoubek
Senior Vice President –
General Counsel and Secretary
Thomas G. Wintermantel
Treasurer and Assistant Secretary

SPEED TV to do weekly driver ranking SPEED TV to do weekly driver rankingHow does NASCAR's Jeff Gordon stack up against Formula One's Michael Schumacher? IRL champ Tony Kanaan against Dale Earnhardt Jr? Champ Car's Sebastien Bourdais against Juan Pablo Montoya?  Well, since you can't even get these answers on today's high-tech video games, SPEED Channel and STATS, Inc. are teaming up to add high-octane fuel to the fiery debates.  STATS, Inc., in partnership with SPEED, has developed a formula for weekly driver rankings, inclusive of NASCAR Nextel Cup, Formula One, Champ Car World Series and Indy Racing League competitors, set to debut April 10.  "We receive an unbelievable amount of e-mail correspondence loaded with passion for a particular racing series or driver," said Kevin Annison, SPEED Channel VP of Business Development and Operations.  "F1 fans tell us they have little respect for NASCAR drivers. NASCAR drivers don't exactly welcome open-wheel transplants onto their tracks with open arms. So, we decided to come up with something that shows how the best of the best match up." 

Current year results, last 10 races, last five races and last race will be factored in equally, with an adjustment factor to compensate for the series different scoring systems. In addition, a "competition difficulty factor" has been included to balance the competitive depth of each series.  "STATS, Inc. is excited to join SPEED Channel in an endeavor that will further raise the profile of an incredibly popular sport and make racing even more enjoyable for its fans," said Steve Byrd, Senior Vice President.  "Our vast database combined with SPEED Channel's racing expertise has allowed us to develop a formula that will provide great insights into driver accomplishments across the four top motor racing circuits."   The initial SPEED Channel Driver Rankings will be posted on SPEEDTV.com next week following the Champ Car World Series season opener in Long Beach.

Alonso escapes injury Alonso escapes injuryIt proved to be an eventful day for Renault in Barcelona, Spain on the opening of a three day Formula One test.  Two-time winner Fernando Alonso suffered a scare when the rear wing on his car failed while teammate Giancarlo Fisichella ran into mechanical difficulties.   According to witnesses at the track, Alonso suffered a rear wing failure on the entry to La Caixa late in the day. The car was thrown into a series of spins but the Spaniard did not hit anything. He was able to get the car going again and made his way gingerly to the pits without injury.   Fisichella also spun late in the morning after losing control in the Seat corner, stalling the engine. He spent most of the rest of the day in the pits as mechanics poured over the car. TSN
Ford re-signs with Champ Car Ford re-signs with Champ CarThe Champ Car World Series and Ford Motor Company today announced a multi-year extension of their agreement that will see the fabled auto manufacturer continue as one of the presenting sponsors of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. The extension of the contract ensures the continuation of one of the longest-running partnerships in the Champ Car World Series, maintaining a relationship that began when Ford returned to the series with Cosworth Racing in 1992. Since then, Ford has scored 91 victories and notched four championships in Champ Car competition.

"Ford Motor Company has been one of the cornerstones of the Champ Car World Series in the last decade and we are very pleased to be able to extend our relationship," said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick.

Ford Motor Company will retain its presence on the Ford-Cosworth XFE engines that power every car in the Champ Car World Series, continuing as the exclusive engine supplier to the series - a relationship that enters its third season with the 2005 campaign.

The Ford Motor Company will also continue to provide many of their high-performance machines to the popular Champ Car Fast Lap Program. Specialized SVT cars such as the Mustang Cobra, Focus and the F150 Lightning truck will be part of the Fast Lap Program which paces each of the Champ Car sessions as well as providing high-speed thrill rides to customers on each stop on the 2005 series schedule. In addition, highly-specialized Ford F-150 trucks are provided as part of the state-of-the-art Champ Car Safety Team, which provides immediate medical response to any incident that takes place on the race track.

"We're very happy with this extension and look forward to our continued relationship with the Champ Car World Series," said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology. "Champ Car's ownership is committed to expanding the series and we believe that their ability to successfully stage high-profile events internationally will allow us to showcase the many new and exciting products that Ford has in its lineup."

The agreement allows for the stars of the Champ Car World Series to sport the legendary Blue Oval off the track as well, as Ford Motor Company will provide an allotment of vehicles to each of the Champ Car teams and drivers for their use.

The 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford campaign gets underway April 8-10 as the 750hp turbocharged Champ Cars take to the streets of Long Beach. Sunday's season-opener takes place at 4 p.m. Eastern Time and can be seen live on NBC.
Dudot joins GP2 series Dudot joins GP2 seriesBernard Dudot has joined the GP2 series as Head of Engineering. We are proud to announce that Bernard Dudot has officially joined the GP2 series as Head of Engineering. His role will involve the engineering co-ordination between the GP2 technical partners. He will oversee all the technical decisions made from this point forward, and ensure that the GP2 series maintains its technical excellence as the perfect platform to Formula One. Didier Perrin remains the GP2 series Technical Director, under Bernard’s direction.

Bernard Dudot, GP2 series Head of Engineering: “I am very happy to become an official part of the GP2 series. This is a fantastic project in which I have been taking a keen interest from the outside. Even though I retired from the Renault F1 Team on April 1st, when the GP2 series approached me for this position I could only say ‘yes.’ For the last six months, as well as working at the Renault F1 Team, I was also overlooking the GP2 series project for Renault, so I already feel well at home in the GP2 family. I am confident that the GP2 series will become the natural stepping stone to F1.”

Bruno Michel, GP2 series Organizer: “Seeing Bernard Dudot join the GP2 series is great news, and I’m very happy that we managed to convince him to come out of his brief retirement to join us. He brings with him experience and knowledge of the very highest levels of international motorsport and will further add to the credibility of the GP2 series. We’re delighted to have him on board, and I am sure that, together with Didier, they will make a fine technical team.”

German DTM
Mercedes announces '05 DTM drivers Mercedes announces '05 DTM driversMercedes has officially unveiled its eight driver line-up for the DTM season during the presentation of the 2005 championship in Hamburg. Around 25,000 people attended the event in the city centre to meet drivers from three of the four manufacturers competing this season – MG being the exception – and were also treated to numerous demonstrations.

Five drivers will race the new AMG-Mercedes C-Class in 2005, the most high profile being double Formula One World Champion Mika Häkkinen who will be making his DTM debut in the opening round of the season. He will be joined by four-time DTM champion Bernd Schneider, 2004 series runner-up Gary Paffett, Jean Alesi and F3 Euroseries champion Jamie Green, rewarded for his title victory last season with a switch from single-seaters into the DTM.

Three drivers will also race a 2004 AMG-Mercedes C-Class, with Stefan Mucke, Bruno Spengler and Alexandros Margaritis competing for the Mücke Motorsport team – the first private Mercedes-Benz squad to compete in the championship.

“The 2005 DTM will be even more competitive than in previous years and I expect about a dozen combinations of drivers and cars capable of winning,” vice president of motorsport for Mercedes Benz Norbert Haug said.“Therefore, we can expect very close gaps in qualifying and races, and the spectators at the race tracks as well as the TV viewers can look forward to thrilling sport and an exciting season. With many activities, the Mercedes team wants to put the spectator at the venues in the centre of attention and to entertain him excellently with the DTM.”

Industry News
More record profits for ISC More record profits for ISC International Speedway Corporation ("ISC") today reported record results for the first quarter ended February 28, 2005.  Total revenues for the first quarter were $179.4 million compared to revenues of $130.6 million in the prior-year period. Operating income was $71.8 million during the period compared to $47.1 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2004. Net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2005 was $41.1 million, or $0.77 per diluted share, compared to net income of $27.8 million, or $0.52 per diluted share, in the prior-year period. Prior year financial statements reflect the discontinued operations, net of tax, of North Carolina Speedway, which was sold in July 2004. In addition, the long- lived assets of Nazareth Speedway are held for sale as of November 30, 2004, and its results are recorded as discontinued operations, net of tax, for all periods presented. Significantly contributing to the 2005 first quarter results was the realignment of California Speedway's spring NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series weekend from the second to the first quarter. Partially offsetting the increases for the quarter was the timing of Homestead-Miami Speedway's IRL IndyCar Series weekend, which was held in the first quarter of 2004 but scheduled for the second quarter of 2005.

"We are pleased to report record first quarter results that exceeded our expectations," commented Lesa France Kennedy, President of ISC. "The strong momentum of 2004 has continued into this year, underscored by the increased attendance and television viewership seen to date for the majority of our first quarter events. The realignment of California's Spring NASCAR weekend significantly contributed to our outstanding results. For comparable events, we posted increases across all major revenue streams led primarily by higher television and media revenue, strong sponsorship and hospitality income, and increased attendance-related revenues. In addition, we were extremely pleased with the highly successful debut of the renovated infield at Daytona International Speedway. The new infield was also a financial success, as NEXTEL FANZONE admissions sold out for the Daytona 500 and many guests enjoyed the unparalleled hospitality amenities of the new Daytona 500 Club."

Red Bull not disappointed with Klien Red Bull not disappointed with KlienRed Bull team boss, Christian Horner has insisted that the decision to replace Christian Klien with third driver, Vitantonio Liuzzi in the next three grand's prix, is by no means a reflection on the Austrian's ability or his performances thus far.

In a statement put out by the Milton Keynes based team, they added that they 'have been extremely pleased' with Klien's performance during the first three races, particularly his points scoring finishes in Australia and Malaysia. Furthermore he will 'continue to play an important role within the team' during Liuzzi's three race trial.

"We are very fortunate to have two extremely talented young Red Bull Junior drivers contracted to the team," explained Horner after making the announcement.

"However, 2005 is a building year for Red Bull Racing and the only way to see a driver's true potential is over the course of a full race weekend.

"Christian has performed faultlessly for the team during the first three events, culminating in two point scoring races. This decision is in no way a reflection on his ability, but simply an opportunity for the team to evaluate his counterpart and allow him to gain experience.

"During the next three races we will get a clear indication of Tonio's potential at three circuits where he won in F3000 last year."

Indy 500 names pace car driver for 2005 Indy 500 names pace car driver for 2005General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State, will drive a 2005 Chevrolet Corvette convertible pace car to lead the field to the start of the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29, 2005.  Neither Powell nor the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a stranger to Corvette. For a record seventh time, Corvette will pace the Indianapolis 500, and Powell owns a 2005 Corvette coupe. This race will be the track debut of the sixth-generation Corvette convertible.  It marks the fourth consecutive year and 16th time overall that a Chevrolet has served as the official pace vehicle - the most appearances by any brand.
Fomula 3
Kimball makes British F3 debut Kimball makes British F3 debutAmerican Charlie Kimball competed in the first two rounds of the British Formula 3 International Championship this weekend, April 2 and 3, at Donington Park in England. The young Californian qualified 23rd for Race 1 and a more representative 5th for Race 2. Kimball raced to 16th in Race 1 and in Race 2 after a mechanical problem on the start caused him to slip to 21st, he drove back to finish tenth.
Liuzzi to make F1 debut Liuzzi to make F1 debutVitantonio Liuzzi will make his Formula 1 race debut with the Red Bull Racing team at the San Marino Grand Prix, 22-24 April. Liuzzi has been part of the Red Bull Junior Team since 2001 and is the reigning FIA F3000 champion. The 24 year old Italian has been the team's Friday test and reserve driver at the first three Grand Prix of the season and will now partner David Coulthard in Imola, Barcelona and Monte Carlo. The team has been extremely pleased with Christian's performance during the first three races, particularly his points scoring finishes in Australia and Malaysia. The 22 year old Austrian will continue to play an important role within the team during Tonio's three race trial being stood down so that Tonio also can experience Formula 1 in a racing environment. An announcement regarding who will fill the role of Friday test driver at the San Marino GP will be made in due course.
Wins justify investment says Renault Wins justify investment says Renault"It's a real joy. It validates the strategy and investment that we have in this sport," Schweitzer told Reuters while launching local production of the Logan model.  Renault have taken an 11-point lead in the constructors' championship this year, scoring 36 points to Toyota's 25 and leaving Ferrari, champions for the last six years, trailing in sixth place with 10. After Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella won the opening race in Australia, his Spanish team mate Fernando Alonso did the double in Malaysia and Bahrain, a coup for Renault both on the track and in the show room.

"Three first places in a row, in three world championship races, in three countries of Asia and the Middle East, that means Renault's recognition is growing in all the countries where we want to develop," Schweitzer said.

"Recognition is the condition of success for a make of car. So it's a strategic investment and not just a sporting exploit.  I don't think you can predict the future in the world of sport. Experience shows that. On the other hand, our challenge for the year was to be considered in the running for the world championship. Obviously that is something we have accomplished." Eurosport

IRL looks ready for a LB street fight IRL looks ready for a LB street fightNine years ago at a track about 100 miles northeast of here, Tony George unfurled a smirk that was a mixture of relief and satisfaction. It came as he watched a 20-car field plod around the Walt Disney World Speedway, a race that wasn't impressive for any other reason than it actually took place. After all, it was the first race of George's maverick Indy Racing League, a series that many saw as a non-factor in a U.S. open-wheel racing scene dominated by CART.

That smirk returned to George's face Sunday as he witnessed another first for his series — street racing. After 85,724 consecutive left-hand turns on oval tracks, George said the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was the right move for a series that stated its case to promoters of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

"I'm very pleased that the support we have seen here is as great as it's been," George told the Press-Telegram. "It's great to see that we came into a new market and expand our fan base, which is why we are (street racing). The anticipation added so much to the success to this event."

An estimated 45, 000 turned out Sunday to raise the three-day total to about 70, 000. Friday's crowd for IndyCar practice alone equaled the series' attendance of about 10, 000 on race day in Phoenix two weeks ago.

The results were far from disastrous.

Probably the best way to compare IndyCars to Champ Cars is to look at qualifying. Bryan Herta turned a lap of 1 minute, 2.5096 seconds to seize the pole Saturday, a pace that was 1.3 seconds off of Sebastien Bourdais' pole-setting lap in a Champ Car in 2003.

That's a difference of 3 mph, which likely went unnoticed by most. The fact that half the field had a hard time staying on the track throughout the weekend probably didn't.

"All of the IRL has been looking and concentrating on this for nearly two years," said Al Unser, who raced in the first Long Beach Grand Prix in 1975 and now serves as a driver coach in the IRL. "There is going to be a learning curve."

The paddock in St. Pete mimicked what the LBGP had a few years ago before the likes of Marlboro, Target, Honda and Toyota left for the IRL. Other companies such as Andretti-Green Racing sponsor 7-Eleven and Jim Beam, and Cheever Racing's Red Bull also were hard to miss.

All but two of the 21 cars entered in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg had a major sponsor on its side pod, which can't be said for the bulk of the 19 cars expected to race in Long Beach later this week.

And those sponsors purchased hundreds of tickets that likely would have went unsold. That's not to say the IRL is completely healthy. It still loses money like Champ Car, although George said his series is losing less and less each year.

He points out the IRL is just one of many business he oversees. Thanks to the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 NASCAR race, George's Indianapolis Motor Speedway remains a highly profitable venture.

If this were purely a financial decision, Grand Prix Association head Jim Michaelian and Dover Motorsports — the parent company of the Grand Prix Association — would likely lean toward the IRL.

But the decision is just as much emotional as fiscal. "I don't think Tony George helped open-wheel racing," acting legend Paul Newman told the Press-Telegram in a recent interview. "He didn't follow up on what he said he would do. I'm not a big supporter of his."

While he may be the most famous, Newman surely won't be the only attendee to this weekend's LBGP still despondent over George's creation of the IRL. "I don't dwell on it," George said. "There are certain people for their own personal reasons who dislike me and dislike the IRL. They are shortsighted." George cant' be accused of that, at least of late. His series fired a salvo across the bow of the Champ Car with his first street race, a volley he hopes will land him the LBGP. In part from the Long Beach Press Telegram

'I have not given up the fight' 'I have not given up the fight'The delusion was, at first, deep. Michael had not retired from a race in more than three and a half years because of a technical problem. Naturally, the current Champion had a long discussion with his team immediately after the race.

However, there were many reasons to be satisfied at the end of the third race of the season. The new Ferrari F2005 met all expectations and all the hard work carried out following the defeat in Malaysia bore fruit even though this was not reflected in the race result.

"Having to retire was very disappointing, naturally," revealed Michael. "To begin with I thought the problem was due to the small pieces of debris that were being kicked up everywhere during the first lap. However, our checks proved that, without a doubt, this was not the cause of the hydraulic problem."

"In any case I believe that there were many positives to be drawn from this weekend in Bahrain. We have improved in a lot of areas compared to Malaysia and we were competitive. We are in a good position going into the next races and we know that we can challenge for victory. I am convinced that we will win some races this season in the F2005."
"Obviously we have to improve the reliability but we have proved in the past to be able to find the necessary consistency. It was also encouraging to see how quick the Bridgestones were over the course of a single lap. I think that these are all positive signals and after only three of nineteen races nothing is yet lost. In the three weeks until the next race at Imola we have to continue working hard, exactly as we did before. Seeing as this time we have a three-week break we can work harder than we usually do and this could work in our favor. I think that things will go well at Imola."

Is the 24 point gap to Alonso maybe impossible to make up? "Definitely not," declared Michael. "We shouldn't be taken in by the first three races. The season still has a long way to go and there are sixteen races left. A lot can still happen. As I have said, I expect to win races in the F2005. I have not given up on the title!" Ferrari Press

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Mr. B slams Bridgestone
McLaren must improve - Kimi
BAR to 'bounce back'
Williams' too hot to trot
'05 gave Toyota a chance'
The Pope and F1
DC apologized - JV
Podium felt great - Chevrier
Ferrari failure - Schu
Jarno has Trulli matured
Montoya, de la Rosa or Wurz?
Kimi's team on podium
Sauber's highest and lowest
'Ferrari shock!' - headline
No seat for Verstappen
Renault sandbagged
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