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Coulthard slams Montoya Coulthard slams MontoyaSpeaking to Roger Benoit at Switzerland's Blick newspaper today, David Coulthard made it clear that Red Bull Racing should not sign Juan Pablo Montoya for 2007.

"If Juan Pablo were to come to Red Bull Racing, it would take the team down a totally different route," Coulthard said. "He is not a team player."

Formula bmw
Actor Muniz to BMW then Champ Car Atlantic Actor Muniz to BMW then Champ Car AtlanticUPDATE #2 This AP article is a good read about why Muniz is now racing instead of acting.

03/06/06 Frankie Muniz, a successful film and Emmy nominated television actor, has started an exciting new career as a professional race car driver. Muniz has agreed to a comprehensive 2-year program with the professional Jensen MotorSport racing team to pursue his passion for professional car racing. Frankie is the newest member of the team, and will compete in the prestigious Formula BMW USA championship in 2006, and the Champ Car Atlantic championship in 2007.

Muniz states, "I have had an incredible time these past 8 years as an actor. Having done little else but work since age 12, and with a passion for fast cars, professional race car driving is something that I am really excited to pursue."

Muniz (20) continues, "Eric Jensen, and the entire Jensen team, have taught me a great deal during our winter testing program. My times are now competitive with the best young drivers, and I am very focused on learning as much as possible to be able to race with the best this year and next. It's pretty cool and quite motivating that in such a short time I will be able to race on the same famous tracks with Formula One and Champ Car drivers worldwide. This is such an incredible opportunity."  zzzz

Formula BMW has quickly become one of the most impressive developmental racing series in the world. Formula BMW USA is a championship contested annually by some of the top young driving prospects, on some of the most famous circuits on the continent, including the Formula One races at Montreal and Indianapolis. Frankie will be competing with an elite list of young drivers in the 2006 series as he prepares to advance up the racing ladder to the Champ Car Atlantic series in 2007, with view to either competing in the Formula One or Champ Car World Series in the future. The effectiveness of Formula BMW has produced many top drivers, including two current Formula One drivers - Nico Rosberg and Ralf Schumacher.

Jensen MotorSport Team President Eric Jensen states: "Frankie has performed extremely well in pre-season testing. He is quickly learning the multitude of skills required to be a competitive professional race car driver. Frankie has an ambitious plan to compete in the Formula BMW USA championship in 2006, and the Champ Car Atlantic championship in 2007. Given his passion and apparent skills, the entire Jensen MotorSport team is excited to have Frankie as one of our drivers for the next two years, and we are expecting some great successes together."

Jensen continues, "Race fans and fans of Frankie personally will be able to watch him compete live at seven (7) races on the 2006 Formula BMW USA championship calendar." The races where he will be running include:

May 19-21 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (near Columbus, Ohio)
May 26-29 Lime Rock Park, Connecticut
June 23-25 Canadian Grand Prix @ Montreal (with Formula One)
June 30 - July 2 United States Grand Prix @ Indianapolis (with Formula One)
July 28-30 San Jose Grand Prix, California (with Champ Car World Series)
August 11-13 Denver Grand Prix, Colorado (with Champ Car World Series)
September 1-3 Mosport Raceway, Toronto, Canada

The Champ Car Atlantic championship is the world-famous feeder category to the Champ Car World Series. That championship competes at many famous circuits including the Long Beach Grand Prix, about 30 miles from Frankie's home in Hollywood, California. Fans will be able to see Frankie race live in front of big crowds in many other cities in the 2007 season including Denver, San Jose, Cleveland, Houston, Montreal, Portland and more.

Frankie has every intention of continuing his acting career. "Malcolm in the Middle" will come to an end in March after seven successful years and Muniz will next appear in the Disney/Spyglass feature film, "Stay Alive," a thriller produced by McG, slated for wide release on March 24th. Champ Car

03/04/06 Actor Frankie Muniz, 20, told national radio audience on "The Dan Patrick Show" Thursday that he has been signed to a two-year deal to drive for Jensen Motorsports. Officials from the Formula BMW series confirmed the actor's presence in the series this year.

Muniz said he was going to put aside his acting career to pursue a professional driving career. He said he will race in the Formula BMW series this season and then move up to the Champ Car Atlantics series in 2007 with Jensen Motorsports.

No stranger to racing, Muniz won the 2005 Toyota Pro-Celebrity Race, part of the Champ Car Long Beach Grand Prix, the opening event of the Champ Car World Series season. He is expected to participate in this year's event as the defending champion.

Muniz winning last year's Toyota Pro/Celebrity race in Long Beach
Photos courtesy of Toyota

Fans pound NBC26 in Wisconsin over no race broadcast Fans pound NBC26 in Wisconsin over no race broadcastDear NBC 26 -
Are you folks aware of the fact that this, Wisconsin, is one of the most avid and concentrated auto racing states in the nation?
I see, through feedback on a site dedicated to the CCWS, or the Champ Car World Series to those of you who do not know, that you chose not to telecast the Long Beach Grand Prix on Sunday.
Live Racing, one of the most popular events in the series due to its spectacular backdrop, all is bypassed by a documentary on Fish Hatcheries and infomercials.
By the way, we are the only state besides California honored with two races with this international series. Milwaukee and Elkhart Lake.
I suppose that you will know when they are at Road America, you will want passes for your TV crew.
There is more in this state besides the Packers, of which, by the way, I am a season ticket holder, and fishing/hunting. Even the Packer organization supports snowmobile racing, of which I used to do.
Please re-consider your options next time NBC has negotiated network coverage of a race in this series. You just might be surprised at how many racing fans there are in this state, even for something other than NASCAR. I am sure you would not pre-empt their coverage with a fish hatchery show.
Please forward this on to your programming and/or sports director.
We apologize for the miscommunication in the program listings. NBC26 notified TV Guide, but TV Guide did not update our information. The decision to preempt the Champ Car Race was due to fulfilling contract agreements on NBC26. Believe me, we will not preempt Champ Car again! There is a significant fan base and we have received a torrent of phone calls and e-mails.

Thank you for contacting NBC26. Your comments are taken seriously!

Warren Glover
Programming and Research Coordinator
Journal Broadcast Group
NBC26 and UPN32

Enge to replace Cheever at Motegi Enge to replace Cheever at MotegiIndianapolis -- Tomas Enge has been hired to drive the Cheever Racing entry next weekend in the IRL IndyCar Series race at Twin Ring Motegi.  

Eddie Cheever Jr. will miss the Motegi race to compete with his Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series team at Virginia International Raceway. He will return to the No. 51 Cheever Racing Honda/Dallara when teams begin preparation May 9 for the 90th running of the Indy 500.  

Enge, a 29-year-old from the Czech Republic, is a former Formula One driver who competed in the IndyCar Series in 2004 and 2005. Last year, Enge finished 16th in the final standings with one top-five finish and four top-10 finishes.  

His best finish in 2005 was fifth at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. He started on the front row at Texas Motor Speedway and started third at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He also competed in two IndyCar Series races in 2004 for Patrick Racing.  

Enge has an extensive racing resume, including three Formula One starts in 2001 with Prost. Among his F1 races was a 14th-place finish in the U.S Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Enge also served as an F1 test driver for Jordan in 2000.  He also won the GTS class in the 24 Hours of LeMans in 2003 and won the German Formula Ford championship in 1996.

2nd Annual GI Joe’s auction for charities 2nd Annual GI Joe’s auction for charitiesGI Joe’s presents Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland in conjunction with Champ Car Charities and the Champ Car World Series will hold a national auction on www.ticketmaster.com/champcarauctions April 13 – 24, 2006 with the Auction going live April 13th @ 10am. All proceeds from this auction will go to support the Champ Car World Series Charities.

The auction will feature one-of-a-kind opportunities for the fan to get up close with the G.I Joe’s presents Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland and its personalities. The featured auction item is a chance for a lucky fan to become a member of the Team RuSPORT/CDW Racing Pit Crew for a day which includes a meet-and-greet with drivers Justin Wilson and AJ Allmendinger, lunch in the Team RuSport/CDW hospitality tent on Friday complete with autographed crew shirt, and four 3day Festival Curve passes with parking.

Other auction items include lunch on Saturday with Champ Car President Steve Johnson and suite passes for the whole weekend, a ride in the Saturday evening VIP Celebrity Karting Race, a chance to call part of the GI Joe’s Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland live on the radio, and new to the race this year; a chance to win a Joe’s East Bank Cabana. These packages and more can be bid on at www.ticketmaster.com/champcarauctions.

Wilson fastest on Day 1 in Portland Wilson fastest on Day 1 in PortlandJustin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was the man to beat last year when the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford visited Portland, as the RuSPORT driver had everyone covered until an oil pump failure ended his race day.

Wilson literally picked up where he left off Wednesday at Portland International Raceway, leading an 17-driver field on a full day of testing on the 1.964-mile PIR road course. Wilson started the day with the same setup he had on the car last June and built on it from there, eventually posting a best time of 57.680 seconds (122.580 mph).

“Yeah last year things went really well for us here but obviously we had a couple of problems on race day,” lamented Wilson. “But today things have been really good. The track was a little greasy when we first went out but we were able to go pretty quick later. I think there’s still a good bit left in the car if we trim it out for qualifying. It’s nice to be quick here, but they don’t give any prizes away for it, we just want to keep working and get the car right for the race.”

Wilson, series points leader Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Wilson’s RuSPORT teammate A.J. Allmendinger (#10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) were the only drivers to get under 58 seconds on the first day of testing, with Wilson holding more than a quarter-second on his two closest pursuers.

Bourdais carded the second-best time of the day despite a very tough day that saw the Newman/Haas Racing team go through a pair of powerplants. Officially, the Long Beach winner stopped the clocks at 57.962 seconds (121.983 mph), although a problem with an antenna saw a number of his morning laps go uncounted. Bourdais ran only 19 laps in the afternoon session as two engine failures meant the team spent more time in the garage than it did on the track.  zzzz

Allmendinger ran only 47 laps on a day when most teams were in the 65-lap range, but his 57.987 second (121.931 mph) effort was good enough for third ahead of Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole In The Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). The trio all rebounded from a tough start to the 2006 season as all three had their season debuts ended in a first-lap crash at Long Beach.

“It’s been a really good day for us here,” Allmendinger said. “The team has been able to regroup after Long Beach and we have gotten a lot of work done today.”

Dan Clarke (#14 CTE Racing – HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was the quickest rookie on the day, posting a top lap of 58.771 seconds (120.304 mph), good enough for eighth on the grid. In all, seven rookies made testing runs today including former Indy Racing League driver Ryan Briscoe (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who sat in for much of the afternoon for Charles Zwolsman (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) as he nursed an injured hand. Briscoe was 16th on the time charts but his time was a bit of a misrepresentation as his Mi-Jack/Conquest team made a lot of two- and three-lap runs working on setups, then saw two late red flags derail their plans to make some longer runs in the latter part of the session.

“We learned a lot about the car today and hopefully the changes we made put us in good position for tomorrow,” Briscoe said. “I think the Champ Cars are awesome, they’re a lot of fun. They’re the kind of cars that you really have to muscle to get them around and there’s a ton of horsepower. I am really enjoying driving these cars.”

Briscoe and the rest of the field will get another day of testing tomorrow at Portland International Raceway, with a session that is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Fans are welcome to come out and watch the testing free of charge, while others not in the Pacific Northwest can follow along via live timing and coring available on the official website of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcar.ws

Official results from today’s testing follow:
1) Justin Wilson - #9 CDW – 57.680 seconds (72 laps completed)
2) Sebastien Bourdais - #1 McDonald’s – 57.962 (43 laps)
3) A.J. Allmendinger - #10 RuSPORT – 57.987 (47 laps)
4) Paul Tracy - #3 Indeck – 58.411 (31 laps)
5) Bruno Junqueira - #2 Hole In The Wall Camps – 58.535 (54 laps)
6) Oriol Servia - #6 Gulfstream/Bell Micro – 58.568 (57 laps)
7) Mario Dominguez - #7 Indeck – 58.640 (46 laps)
8) Dan Clarke - #14 CTE Racing – HVM – 58.771 (64 laps)
9) Nelson Philippe - #4 CTE Racing – HVM – 58.829 (62 laps)
10) Alex Tagliani - #15 Aussie Vineyards – 58.882 (67 laps)
11) Katherine Legge - #20 Optium/Gulfstream – 59.030 (69 laps)
12) Will Power - #5 Aussie Vineyards – 59.084 (70 laps)
13) Cristiano da Matta - #19 Sonny’s BBQ – 59.513 (47 laps)
14) Nicky Pastorelli - #8 Rotax/Rocketsports – 59.685 (99 laps)
15) Charles Zwolsman - #34 Mi-Jack – 59.817 (33 laps)
16) Ryan Briscoe - #34 Mi-Jack – 59.841 (46 laps)
17) Jan Heylen - #11 Sonny’s BBQ – 60.041 (49 laps)

Champ Car

 Track News
Ford 400 weekend expected to sell quickly Ford 400 weekend expected to sell quicklyMIAMI, FL - April 22 isn’t just another Saturday this year.  It’s also the day that tickets to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway — the hottest tickets in South Florida — go on sale to the general public.

Tickets for the season finales of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series to be held November 17-19, will be available at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 22.  Race fans will be able to secure their tickets by calling (305) 230-RACE (7223), or toll-free at 1-866-409-RACE, and by visiting homesteadmiamispeedway.com, or any TicketMaster outlet in the state of Florida.

Last year’s tickets for the Ford 400, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season finale, sold out four months before the event, and an even earlier sellout date is expected for 2006.  Fans watched as Tony Stewart clinched the NEXTEL Cup title last November after Greg Biffle won a thrilling race, edging Roush Racing teammate Mark Martin by .017 seconds in a side-by-side finish on the 20-degree variable banking.  The battle for the victory is sure to be just as exciting when NASCAR’s superstars return to Homestead-Miami Speedway. zzzz

“Last year proved that Ford Championship Weekend is the toughest annual sports ticket to obtain in South Florida,” said Curtis Gray, President Homestead-Miami Speedway.  “With the addition of our state of the art banking and the new lights, this spectacular NASCAR race weekend event will sell out early again.  We encourage fans to act now and secure their tickets to this year’s Ford Championship Weekend.  These tickets are not going to last.”

All three NASCAR Series, the Craftsman Truck, Busch, and NEXTEL Cup will crown champions under the lights during Ford Championship Weekend. The Ford 200 is scheduled for Friday, November 17, the Ford 300 will take place Saturday, November 18, and the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup will culminate with the Ford 400 on Sunday, November 19.  Each day will also feature concerts, interactive exhibits, and other exciting action, included in the price of your admission ticket.  

Don’t miss out! For more information or to purchase tickets to Ford Championship Weekend, call (305) 230-RACE; 1-866-409-RACE, log on homesteadmiamispeedway.com or visit any TicketMaster outlet in Florida.

Rolex Series helps Long Beach attendance Rolex Series helps Long Beach attendanceDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Saturday’s Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach—the first-ever street race in the history of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype class—has been credited with contributing to an increase in attendance at the historic Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The Daytona Prototype debut at the 32-year-old Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend was one of six events on the three-day docket, joining the Champ Car World Series, Champ Car Atlantic Championship, Formula Drift, SPEED GT and the Toyota Pro/Celebrity races. The Long Beach Press-Telegram reported “noticeably larger” crowds on Friday and Saturday, while ESPN.com reported that the three-day attendance increased 10 to 15 percent from last year. Several media outlets reported three-day attendance figures upwards of 200,000 race fans.

With Sunday’s Champ Car World Series attendance estimated at 80,000, roughly 120,000 spectators passed through the turnstiles during the two days that the Daytona Prototypes were on track. SPEEDTV.com reported that “Grand-Am really helped bring back the Friday and Saturday crowds,” and added that “…it doesn’t hurt that the Grand-Am field with Gidley, Gurney, Cheever, Moran, Pruett, Papis, Fittipaldi, Fernandez, Dalziel, Diaz and Valiante made the show look more like a CART doubleheader.”

"The Crown Royal Grand American Challenge race was a huge hit with our fans," said Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. "It certainly was a prime contributor to our very successful inaugural 'Super Saturday' program." zzzz

With a 4:00 p.m. PT start time, the Crown Royal Grand American Challenge wrapped-up a busy day of on-track activity. Nevertheless, thousands of fans remained in the grandstands lining the 1.97-mile circuit as the green flag dropped on the historic Daytona Prototype event.

“Without question, the inaugural Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach was a success,” said Grand American Road Racing Association President Roger Edmondson. “We knew going in that the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is one of the best-attended road races in North America, but we are thrilled that we contributed to bringing even more fans to this historic event last weekend. I feel strongly that we exceeded the expectations of everybody involved with our first-ever Daytona Prototype street race.”

A lengthy full-course caution period on Lap 11 of the 52-lap event did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the Southern California race fans, as the grandstands were still full when Scott Pruett took the checkered flag in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley and celebrated in Victory Circle alongside co-driver Luis Diaz. Early feedback through the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and Grand American web sites indicates that fans in attendance were enthusiastic about the Daytona Prototype action.

“I wanted to say that the Rolex Daytona Prototype cars and the drivers are ‘keepers,’” said e-mailers ‘David and Susan.’ “I've been coming to Long Beach for 28 years and this was the best paddock of drivers and cars to date. Everyone was friendly and open when you would approach them. Even some of the top drivers in the world were warm and friendly.”

Next up for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve is the VIR 400 at Virginia International Raceway on the weekend of April 21-23. Ticket information is available at www.virclub.com or by calling (434) 822-7700, ext. 116. Grand-Am

DAYTONA USA Celebrates 10th Anniversary DAYTONA USA Celebrates 10th AnniversaryIn July of 1996, Lesa France Kennedy cut the ribbon in front of the doors of DAYTONA USA, the first-ever interactive motorsports attraction in the United States. Located outside of Turn 4 at Daytona International Speedway, "The Official Attraction of NASCAR" has thrilled thousands of fans every year since building a solid fan base for years to come. Kennedy, who now serves as the President of International Speedway Corporation, had a vision to add a unique, one-of-a-kind fan amenity to "The World Center of Racing" that allowed guests to touch and feel the heart-pumping excitement of motorsports. Ten years later, Kennedy, who was the concept creator on the 60,000-square foot attraction, has watched DAYTONA USA evolve into one of the most popular fan amenities in all of motorsports. "I wanted fans to be able to get closer to the sport of racing and DAYTONA USA has exceeded my expectations," Kennedy said. "From the Ford 16-Second Pit Stop Challenge to being able to stand a few feet away from the winning Daytona 500 car, the thrills are endless." Throughout its 10-year history, DAYTONA USA has continued to grow. In 2001, the attraction underwent a massive 10,000-square foot expansion that added two motion simulator rides - DAYTONA DREAM LAPS and ACCELERATION ALLEY. In 2002, X-Box technology was installed and in 2003, a third motion simulator was added with Toyota Tundra's Thunder Road. DAYTONA USA renovated the Pepsi IMAX Theatre in the spring of 2004 making the attraction home to one of only four 3D IMAX Theatres in the state of Florida. One ever-changing feature at DAYTONA USA is the Daytona 500 winning car. The attraction is the annual home of the winning race machine in the "Great American Race" and honors the driver and team with a special induction ceremony the morning after the Daytona 500. Speedway PR
Martin fastest on first day Martin fastest on first dayRICHMOND, VA--More than 35 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers took their first laps "under the lights" at Richmond International Raceway tonight, to end the first of three days of testing. Through NASCAR's new testing rules, teams are allowed two days of testing from 9:00 a.m. to

9:00 p.m. at America's Premier Short Track, the only short track on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series test schedules.

Kurt Busch topped the morning session (9:00 a.m. to Noon) with a fast lap of 21.583 seconds (125.360 mph), while former teammate Mark Martin clocked the fastest lap in the afternoon session (1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.) at 21.705 seconds (124.395 mph). Martin topped the charts again in the evening session (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.) and was fastest overall for the day with a lap of 21.505 seconds (125.532 mph).

Tonight's testing will help the drivers prepare for the upcoming NASCAR Busch and NEXTEL Cup Series races at Richmond International Raceway on Friday and Saturday nights, May 5 -- 6, as well as the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 weekend September 8 -- 9, which will mark the 26th race of the season and set the stage for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

"The vision I think NASCAR has is to make the 26th race more competitive and that's why we're here testing at Richmond," explained past NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Kurt Busch. "That's the cutoff for the Chase, they want to make an equal opportunity for everybody when it comes down to the wire. Whether you're in or whether you're out, there's no excuses. You have a full two-day test to get ready for it. It's all great because it's fun to test at night because we race at night." zzzz

Drivers will be back on track Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m. Testing is free to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. both Wednesday and Thursday. The teams and drivers take a break from on-track action from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily.

Tickets for the May 5 Circuit City 250 Presented by FUNAI NASCAR Busch Series race are on sale now at the Richmond International Raceway ticket office and online at www.racetickets.com. Come out to cheer on your favorite NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers as they battle to beat NASCAR Busch Series stars to the checkered flag.

The top 10 fastest drivers of the day on Richmond International Raceway's ¾-mile oval, regardless of morning, afternoon or evening session were:*

Driver                 Time          Speed
1. Mark Martin (E) 21.505 125.552
2. Kurt Busch (M) 21.538 125.360
3. Casey Mears (M) 21.548 125.302
4. Greg Biffle (E) 21.554 125.267
5. Greg Biffle (E) 21.568 125.185
6. Kurt Busch (M) 21.573 125.156
6. Mark Martin (M) 21.573 125.156
8. Matt Kenseth (E) 21.589 125.064
9. Kyle Busch (M) 21.595 125.029
10. Kurt Busch (E) 21.598 125.012

M - Morning Session from 9:00 a.m. to Noon
E - Evening Session from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
A - Afternoon Session from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. RIR

Industry News
Saleen to make Parnelli Jones car Saleen to make Parnelli Jones carSaleen, a leading manufacturer in the specialty car arena, will be paying homage to American racing icon Parnelli Jones at this week's New York Auto Show. Saleen President Steve Saleen and Jones will be on hand Thursday, April 13 to unveil the 370 horsepower Saleen/Parnelli Jones Limited Edition Mustang.

Jones is one of the most recognizable names in auto racing and has won nearly every major auto race event in the U.S., including the Indianapolis 500. During his legendary career, Jones won six races and 12 pole positions in IndyCar racing. Among those victories was a win at the Indianapolis 500 in 1963, just two years after he was named Indy's co-Rookie of the Year. The ever versatile Jones also won the 1964 USAC stock car championship, and claimed four wins, 11 top-10 finishes, and three pole positions in 34 races on the NASCAR circuit. He also won titles in the SCCA Trans Am Series and Baja off-road racing circuit. Jones was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990.

Racing News
SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking
Pos. (LW) Driver (Series) Pts
1. Fernando Alonso (F1) 9.935
2. Sebastien Bourdais (CCWS) 9.520
3. Matt Kenseth (NASCAR) 7.915
4. Tony Stewart (NASCAR) 7.754
5. Helio Castroneves (IRL) 7.739
6. Kasey Kahne (NASCAR) 7.647
7. Mark Martin (NASCAR) 7.535
8. Justin Wilson (CCWS) 7.508
9. Kimi Raikkonen (F1) 7.445
10. Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR) 7.278
11. Kevin Harvick (NASCAR) 6.848
12. Alex Tagliani (CCWS) 6.793
13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR) 6.686
14. Kyle Busch (NASCAR) 6.684
15. Jeff Gordon (NASCAR) 6.476
16. Denny Hamlin (NASCAR) 6.234
17. Scott Dixon (IRL) 6.221
18. Tony Kanaan (IRL) 6.153
19. Casey Mears (NASCAR) 6.100
20. Dale Jarrett (NASCAR) 6.017
Provided by STATS Inc.
NASCAR suspends, fines cheaters NASCAR suspends, fines cheatersUPDATE Chad Norris, the Roush Racing crew chief suspended by NASCAR on Tuesday, says a broken left-front spring caused Matt Kenseth's Busch Series Ford to fail post-race height inspection by 1/16th of an inch after Saturday's race at Texas Motor Speedway.

04/11/06 NASCAR announced today that Chad Norris, crew chief of the No. 17 Ford driven by Matt Kenseth in the NASCAR Busch Series, has been fined $10,000 and suspended from NASCAR until May 3, 2006 following rule violations at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2006.

Norris’ suspension will take effect immediately.

Norris was found to be in violation of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used that do not conform to NASCAR rules: Section 20A-12.8.1D: Quarter panel height did not meet the required specification; too high in post-race inspection) of the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series Rule Book.

Additionally, Kenseth was penalized 25 NASCAR Busch Series driver championship points and team owner Jack Roush was penalized 25 NASCAR Busch Series owner championship points for violating Sections 12-4-A and 12-4-Q (20A-12.8.1D).

Rocketsports to test Pizzonia and Pastorelli Rocketsports to test Pizzonia and PastorelliEAST LANSING, Michigan – Seen in the Rocketsports Racing pits during the Champ Car season opener in Long Beach, Nicky Pastorelli will join Antonio Pizzonia and the team to test drive the #8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone to log some time behind the wheel at Portland International Raceway during the two day Champ Car test, April 12 – 13.

Pizzonia made his Champ Car debut driving the #8 Rocketsports Lola last weekend in Long Beach, qualifying 11th and finishing in the tenth spot. As he continued to get used to the Champ Car and working with the Rocketsports team, his times continued to improve throughout the weekend. He demonstrated to the team that he was able to take his testing experience to the next level in a Champ Car by successfully completing a race weekend and the team wants to give him more time in the seat. They will run the Brazilian on Thursday during the two-day test.

“I am happy that we were able to have a good weekend in Long Beach,” said Pizzonia on making his Champ Car debut with Rocketsports Racing. “I am feeling very comfortable with the team and car, and I think we were able to make some good improvements throughout the weekend. The car was great to drive, and I know that I am capable of doing much more inside of the cockpit out there on the track. I want to continue to prove my abilities to the team, so I am happy to have the chance to test the car again this week in Portland.”

Pizzonia will be working with Pastorelli during this test. Pastorelli is a former Jordan-Toyota Formula One test driver who tested with Dale Coyne Racing in Fontana at the California Speedway with most of the Champ Car teams the week before the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. “The Champ Car is more fun to drive,” said the 22-year-old from the Netherlands when asked to compare a Champ Car and a Formula One race car. “The test went well. Better than I expected, because I did not drive a racecar for 7 months. We made progress during the sessions, and I was 10th overall with a time of 53.910, which was not too bad after such a long time since I had been in a racecar.” zzzz

Born in The Hague, Netherlands, the Italian-Dutch driver comes from mixed parentage. His father is Italian and his mother is Dutch. He was first introduced to the sport of karting at the age of ten. He drove his first laps at an empty parking lot. Pastorelli fell in love with the sport and less than a year later he was making practice laps at the professional Strijen Circuit.

In 1993, he started in the Mini League followed by Junior League, in which he had his first successes. At the age of 14, Pastorelli became a member of Peter de Bruin’s karting team. He stayed there for several seasons and drove the ICA and Formula A Leagues. In 2000, he moved to the Formula Arcobaleno League. Competing in six out of eight races, he won the pole position five times, earned three wins, and finished third in the Dutch Championship. In 2001 he entered the Formula Renault 2000 European Championship before moving into the Euro 3000 Series in 2003, where he earned two second place finishes and finished fifth in the championship. He was crowned the Superfund Euro 3000 Champion and earned his first chance to drive a Champ Car with Walker Racing at Sebring. Pastorelli was a F1 test driver in 2005 with Jordan, and was the first driver to be officially introduced in the “Young Driver Programme” initiated by Midland F1 to help promising junior drivers develop their talent in preparation for entry to Formula One.

“I am really excited about this opportunity to run with Rocketsports Racing,” said Pastorelli. “I was fortunate to test in Fontana in a Champ Car just a few weeks ago, but it was only a one-day test so I did not get as much time behind the wheel as I would have like to. This will be a two-day test, so I will really be able to get started in terms of really learning the car in all aspects. I look forward to working with the team, as I followed them in Long Beach. I hope that we can have a good test as I continue to get used to a Champ Car and prepare for a future in the series.” Rocketsports

NASCAR catches more cheaters NASCAR catches more cheatersNASCAR announced Tuesday that one fine and two penalties have been issued to the No. 74 Dodge team competing in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, as a result of rule violations last week at Texas Motor Speedway.

Due to violations of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing), 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment that do not conform to NASCAR rules) and 20-5.9G(1) (external modifications to the intake manifold deemed impermissible unless authorized by the Series Director) of the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Rule Book, crew chief Domenick Turse was fined $50,000; driver Derrike Cope was penalized with the loss of 25 driver championship points; and car owner Ray McGlynn was penalized 25 owner championship points.

The infraction was discovered during opening day inspection.

Kovalainen fastest at Barcelona Wednesday Kovalainen fastest at Barcelona WednesdayRenault's Heikki Kovalainen posted the quickest time of the day at the Barcelona circuit, where a total of 18 drivers and 10 teams where in action.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Kovalainen Renault (M) 1:14.955 144
 2. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:15.135 107
 3. Alonso Renault (M) 1:15.251 45
 4. Davidson Honda (M) 1:15.354 112
 5. Zonta Toyota (B) 1:15.426 88
 6. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:15.671 97
 7. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:15.683 82
 8. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:15.747 84
 9. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:15.781 74
 10. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:15.860 108
 11. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:15.917 75
 12. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:15.955 54
 13. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:15.957 31
 14. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:15.974 93
 15. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:16.389 107
 16. Gene Ferrari (B) 1:16.446 115
 17. Panis Toyota (B) 1:16.812 71
 18. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:19.328 76

Briscoe to aid Mi-Jack team at Portland test Briscoe to aid Mi-Jack team at Portland testUPDATE With Andrew Ranger only signed for four races with the Mi-Jack team, rumor has it that this test is a tryout for Briscoe and if he runs well we could see him in Ranger's seat in one or more races that Ranger is not running.

04/11/06 Indianapolis, Indiana -- Former Toyota Formula 1 test driver, Australian Ryan Briscoe, will be in Portland this week helping the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Team (MJCR) prepare for the June 18 race on the 1.964-mile permanent road course.

Briscoe, who recently participated in the A1GP race in China, will be sharing his duties with Dutchman Charles Zwolsman. The MJCR driver will see less testing action due to injured wrists suffered in pre-season testing in Fontana, as well as an injured back sustained during the opening laps of the race in Long Beach.

"We are thankful to Ryan Briscoe for coming in on such short notice to help us with our test in Portland," expressed Conquest Racing co-owner, Eric Bachelart. "Ryan is an excellent driver and can provide good technical feedback that will help us prepare our cars. Everyone on the team looks forward to working with him during this test." zzzz

"I'm really excited to be going to Portland to help the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Team with the development of their car as well as get them ready for the Portland race," said 24-year-old Briscoe. "Champ Cars have a lot of horse power and no driver aids so they are great cars to drive. I'm also looking forward to working with Chris (Mower, Team Manager) again, who I worked with in the past."

Zwolsman and Briscoe will be on track at Portland International Raceway April 12 and 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. mjcr

Acura enters ALMS Acura enters ALMSMarking one of the most significant manufacturer announcements in the history of the American Le Mans Series, the Acura division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., today announced plans to enter the Series in 2007 with a factory prototype program.

The Acura prototype initiative is the first factory motorsports program for Acura, the luxury brand of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., in its 20-year history. Multiple Acura-powered LMP2 entries will make their competition debut at the 55th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to start the American Le Mans Series season in March of 2007.

Acura's race program will feature engines designed and developed by Honda Performance Development mated with chassis from some of the world's most prestigious manufacturers including Lola from England and Courage of France. More....
'06 set for Imola shakeup '06 set for Imola shakeup(GMMf1NET)  F1's current pecking order could be shaken up at the first European race of 2006, according to BMW-Sauber race driver Nick Heidfeld.

The German noted that, following the opening trio of arduous 'flyaway' grands prix that were dominated by Renault, 'many teams' will show up at Imola next weekend with modified cars.

BMW's 'F1.06', for example, is to feature a new front wing and rear section.

But, referring to widespread car revisions up and down pitlane for the race in Italy, 'Quick' Nick Heidfeld warned: ''(Imola) might well bring about another shift in the balance of power.''

Undoubtedly hoping for a form boost is Ferrari, whose test driver Marc Gene told 'Gazzetta dello Sport' newspaper at the huge Barcelona test: ''We will be going to Imola to win.''

As the real Spanish test action kicked off on Wednesday, ten of F1's eleven teams - most with a full compliment of drivers - had sampled Circuit de Catalunya's curves by lunch.

Every team except MF1 (at Silverstone) is in town, including newcomer Super Aguri and beleaguered Japanese rookie Yuji Ide, who will get a much needed full day at the car's wheel on Thursday.

Amid speculation that the 31-year-old might be replaced, boss Aguri Suzuki said: ''Yuji is trying very hard to learn how to drive (an) F1 car.

''I am sure he is having a tough time,'' he added, ''and communicating in English may be hard for him, (but) he will get used to it.''

Already in action at Barcelona, meanwhile, is Williams' Mark Webber, who next week will travel to the Italian town of Brisighella to collect the coveted 'Lorenzo Bandini trophy'.  Previous winners include Michael Schumacher (2003), Kimi Raikkonen (2004) and Fernando Alonso (2005).  David Coulthard and Juan Pablo Montoya have also taken home the prize.

The plaudit is named after Bandini, the leading Italian driver of his era who died in the 1967 Monaco grand prix.

track news
Gillian Zucker Named Woman Of The Year Gillian Zucker Named Woman Of The YearFONTANA, Calif. -- California Speedway President Gillian Zucker has been recognized as the 2006 Woman of the Year for the 63rd Assembly District.  The Woman of the Year annual event celebrates remarkable women in California who are making a difference in their communities. Assembly member Bill Emmerson honored Zucker during a special ceremony March 20. When Zucker was appointed president of California Speedway on June 23, 2005, she became the first female president of a track hosting a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event.
Racing News
Economaki Award details Economaki Award detailsMaxim Sports Management announced the details of the second annual Economaki Aspiring Journalist Award, a grass-roots program that recognizes and rewards young print and broadcast journalists with a passion for motorsports.

The Award honors legendary journalist and National Speed Sport News Editor Chris Economaki, who has been omnipresent in the motorsports arena for more than fifty years.

The award was launched in 2005 as part of the Red Bull Driver Search, a program to put an American driver back in Formula One. With Scott Speed, the inaugural RBDS winner, racing in F-1 with Scuderia Toro Rosso, and the goal of the RBDS achieved, the EAJA has evolved into a larger stand-alone program. In 2005, three winners were selected and awarded with a distinguished trophy, a trip to the United States Grand Prix and an opportunity to meet Economaki and Speed.

The 2006 EAJA requires applicants to write or report a motorsport-themed story and have it published or broadcast by an accredited media outlet. Articles/reports can relate to four-wheel, two-wheel or elements (air racing, snow cross, etc.) racing categories. The award is open to participants aged between 13 and 22 years, and entries must be submitted by Dec. 8.

For more information, visit www.maxim-online.com/eaja.

Two drivers suffer back injuries Two drivers suffer back injuriesTwo drivers suffered serious injuries during competition at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Champ Car Atlantic Series driver Mike Forest suffered mild compression fractures of the 11th and 12th thoracic vertebrae during a qualifying accident Friday.

Grand Am road racer Memo Gidley sustained a compression to the L1 vertebra and a minimal compression to the T12 vertebra in a crash in turn one during the morning warm-up Saturday morning.

Surfers on track for another record turnout Surfers on track for another record turnoutThe Queensland Government predicts attendance at the Lexmark Indy 300 will increase again this year, challenging Grand Prix host Melbourne as Australia's motorsport capital.

Last year a record 316,459 people poured through the turnstiles at the Surfers leg of the international Champ Car series.

In contrast, the four-day crowd at the Australian Grand Prix was 301,800 a drop of almost 70,000 on 2005.

The downturn was attributed to fan burnout after the recent Commonwealth Games.

However, Melbournians have not shown the same interest in their race since its inception in 1996, while patronage at the Coast event continues to rise.

Encouraged by its high profile, the Queensland Government will again pump $11.2 million into the motor- sport juggernaut.

"I have every confidence the 2006 event will further build on this popularity and reputation," said Minister for Sport Tom Barton at the ticket launch of the October 19-22 race at the Q1 Observation Deck yesterday.

"The Lexmark Indy 300 is accepted internationally as one of the premier events on the motorsport calendar.

"With an audience of 900 million in 164 countries, it's worthwhile investing. It generates some $60 million per year that's an incredible return for the Queensland economy, and largely Gold Coast businesses." zzzz

Ken Freer, who left brewer Castlemaine-Perkins to take up the carnival's general manager post six months ago, said boosting off-track, as much as on-track, entertainment was vital for success.

Mr. Freer said the 2006 entertainment program would be enhanced, with an additional Friday night car spectacle in the works.

The slogan 'Indy Fever' has been dropped after three years in favor of 'Power On'.

Mr. Barton said the new marketing assault would be well received.

"There is the power of the sport the speed, the engines, the atmosphere and the adrenalin," he said.

"There is the power of the location the surf, the beach, the sunshine and the entertainment."

Advertising will be pitched as much to the legions of motorsport fans, as families enjoying the 'Carnivale' feel of the event.

Street racing has been spliced with South American dancers and fire twirlers in an adren-alin-charged advertisement that will air soon.

V8 driver Russell Ingall predicted the tight Surfers Paradise Indy track would produce thrilling 'carnage' during the reverse grid races in his division this year.

And with valuable end-of-year points on offer, team bosses should expect to leave the Gold Coast 'with their wallets a little lighter', he said.

"Towards the end of the year, the Gold Coast event is super important to winning the championship," he said.

"If you don't see some action, I will be very surprised.

"As soon as the helmet's pulled down, the red mist comes over and the boxing gloves are on."

The controversial reverse grid initiative, whereby the fastest drivers start from the back of the field, was introduced in spectacular fashion in the early rounds of the V8 season, producing hundreds of thousands of dollars in panel work.

Gold Coaster Ingall who had a torrid result at last year's event reckoned the popularity of V8s put them on a '50-50 billing' with the high-powered Champ Cars for the Surfers Paradise leg.

Tickets are now on sale for the event through Ticketek on 1300 303 103 or at www.indy.com.au

TV News
ESPN readies NASCAR return ESPN readies NASCAR returnNASCAR will have a new look next season as ESPN/ABC replaces NBC in broadcasting the second half of the Nextel Cup series. ESPN/ABC signed an eight-year agreement with NASCAR. ABC will broadcast all 10 races in the title chase next year and at least 11 of the final 17 races. ESPN will broadcast the rest. Also, ESPN2 will be the home for the Busch series. With all the work to be done, George Bodenheimer, president of ABC Sports/ESPN, attended last weekend's race at Texas Motor Speedway along with a group of executives. He spoke with reporters before the race. Here is some of what he had to say.

Q: What will the broadcasts be like next year?
A: It's a little bit premature for us to answer that question. We're working hard on developing some innovative moves forward. ESPN takes a lot of pride in distinguishing its productions from other networks. We have our best people here studying the latest technology and other devices to bring to the sport. We know that fans look for that, and we know that they look for that from ESPN and ABC.
Q: Have you decided if you will have two or three people in the booth to call races?
A: We have not. We're delighted to have Rusty Wallace on. Jerry Punch obviously is going to play a big role in what we do. Beyond that, we have not made any decisions but there should be some forthcoming shortly.
Q: How will you address the criticism NBC and Fox get about too many commercials and missing restarts?
A: We've certainly thought about it. We will be working hard to keep an eye on those factors. Advertising sales are how the cash register is rung, so, obviously, it has to play a part in what we're doing. ESPN has grown since we were last in the sport, we now consider ourselves a multimedia company with ESPN.com, Mobile ESPN on the phone, multiple networks. We're looking to take this wonderful property and blow it out across all our mediums. It is really well beyond 'what does a three-hour telecast look like?' We will be serving fans seven days a week.
Q: Will you have a daily NASCAR show?
A: Yes. We will have a daily show. We have not fixed on an exact schedule or the name of the show. We will have a daily presence.
Q: How important are later afternoon starting times and night races?
A: It's important. Generally, we're looking to attract the highest ratings that we can, obviously, later in the day bodes well. NASCAR, as all leagues, has to balance those issues with fan support and logistical issues. If NASCAR wants to continue to grow, and being affiliated with ESPN and ABC will help them grow, they're going to have to look at all those kinds of issues to make that happen. Roanoke Times

Junqueira or da Matta to visit Monterrey Junqueira or da Matta to visit MonterreyOCESA organizers said that around the 24th of this month Bruno Junqueira or Cristiano da Matta will visit Monterrey to kick-start the official promotion of the Monterrey Grand Prix. Organizers also explained that a pit stop exhibition with a couple of Champ Cars will take place along with the presence of Junqueira or da Matta. Tickets are already on sale, but for now it is only a presale. Fans that have a credit card from a certain Mexican bank can buy the tickets before everyone else and get a 30% discount. Jose Arrambide
Vicious crash for Rocky Moran, Jr. ends day early in LB Vicious crash for Rocky Moran, Jr. ends day early in LBLONG BEACH, Calif.— After a strong start that saw Rocky Moran, Jr. move the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance/King Taco Pontiac Riley up three positions early on from eighth on the grid at Saturday’s Crown Royal Grand American Challenge on the streets of Long Beach, a 150-mph multi-car crash on Lap 11 sent Moran, Jr. to a local hospital with minor injuries and put an end to GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing’s quest for its first Grand-Am victory.
The accident occurred on the front straightaway, after the No. 8 Synergy Racing car slowed and made an abrupt turn to the right, whereupon the No. 39 Cheever Racing prototype struck it in the rear and turned it to the left. The No. 8 was spun directly in Moran’s path, causing him to make contact with the Synergy machine and then the outside retaining wall. Initial examinations at the track medical facility indicated that Moran, Jr. had potentially suffered a broken left lower leg, but fortunately a subsequent exam at St. Mary’s Hospital in Long Beach determined that the injury was simply a severe bruise. Rocky was released that evening.
“We had a great start in the No. 99 GAINSCO machine and I was moving up pretty solidly and trying to stay out of trouble,” Moran, Jr. said. “I came up on the No. 8 going real slow, whose driver didn’t really seem to make up his mind whether to go high or low. The Crown Royal (No. 39) car hit him and spun him up to the left, where I was — and I just drilled him at 147 miles per hour. It was definitely a record-breaking impact for me. I’m just deeply disappointed that I wasn’t able to bring home a good finish for the GAINSCO people and Bob Stallings and Alex Gurney, who gave me a shot in their car. Hopefully this black cloud over me will go away one of these days.”  zzzz
The impact destroyed the team’s Riley, and with a chassis beyond repair, the team will have to rebuild the No. 99 from scratch. But Stallings, the team’s owner, is determined to press on toward the season championship, and to that end will rent a Riley from Brian Tuttle for the team to campaign until repairs are complete.
“I’m disappointed with the outcome, quite obviously, because we went into Long Beach with two very experienced drivers and some high expectations. I felt like we had a third-to-fifth place car, and I think we would have had a strong result if we hadn’t run into that rolling chicane (the No. 8 car),” Stallings said. “In a flash, this weekend went from very promising to very expensive, because we basically have to get a completely new car. It’s definitely a setback for us, because we’re a pretty small-budget team compared to the bigger outfits in this series. But we will be showing up at the next race at VIR and our car should even be mostly Blackhawk Red! There’s no quit in this team and we’re not out of it by a long shot.”
Stallings also pointed out that once again, the team’s Pontiac motor seemed handicapped in performance relative to other engine manufacturers, and expressed his belief that Grand-Am should take further action to ensure that the various powerplants are on a level playing field.
“It’s frustrating to have an engine that’s a half-second off right now, but I have faith that Grand-Am is seeing what I see, and that in turn they’ll allow Pontiac to make some changes in the rules to allow us to run right with Pruett and Long and Rockenfeller, That’s where we want to run and that’s who we have to beat and we intend to do just that, ” Stallings said.
Perhaps the person who feels the most acute disappointment is the team’s lead driver, Alex Gurney, who didn’t even get a chance to drive before his hometown crowd at Long Beach before the No. 99 was taken out.
“I still don’t understand what the 8 car was thinking, because he picked the worst part of the track to do what he did and we paid a huge price for his error,” Gurney said. “Rocky was doing an excellent job and it’s simply terribly disappointing to have this happen. Our team is strong, and I know our crew is working very hard to make sure we recover and make it to VIR — and most importantly, we’re all relieved that Rocky will be OK.”
Q and A with Nick Heidfeld Q and A with Nick HeidfeldMunich/Hinwil, With the BMW Sauber F1 Team now three grands prix into its Formula One career, Nick Heidfeld gives his views on how things are shaping up both on and off the track.

How do you feel the BMW Sauber F1 Team's first few races have gone?

Nick Heidfeld: "Before the season started I said that we shouldn't put too much pressure on ourselves, but at the same time we needed to be sure that we were heading in the right direction and could maintain a consistent rate of improvement. And that's certainly been the case in the first three races of the season. The team collected its first points in Malaysia and in Australia we finished fourth and sixth. On both occasions we showed good race pace."

What was going through your mind when you were running second in the Australian Grand Prix?

Nick Heidfeld: "I realized that most of the drivers, myself included, were not scheduled to pit again. And that gave me hope that I might be able to defend second place. However, Kimi Räikkönen was right behind me in a significantly quicker car and I was also having trouble getting the front tires back up to temperature. That forced me to take risks - too many as it turned out - and another car also managed to slip past. However, as a new team we can be really happy with the way things turned out and the result has boosted our motivation even further." zzzz

What do you think the team can achieve in 2006?

Nick Heidfeld: "We will keep on working hard and making further improvements. The outstanding performance in Australia has put an even greater spring in our step. However, our success in terms of race results will also depend on how other teams fare in the remaining races, so I wouldn't like to commit myself."

What kind of changes can we expect in the BMW Sauber F1.06 for the next race at Imola?

Nick Heidfeld: "We'll be lining up with a modified rear section and a new front wing. Indeed, we had already introduced new aerodynamic elements for the race in Australia and the improvement was noticeable straightaway. Our aim is to make aerodynamic modifications of varying degrees before each GP. We can expect many teams to arrive for the start of the European season with revised cars, which might well bring about another shift in the balance of power." Source BMW Sauber

Q and A with Aguri Suzuki Q and A with Aguri SuzukiIn 1990, Aguri Suzuki became the first Japanese driver in F1 to stand on the podium. Since then, he has had a dream - to compete in F1 with his own team. For his dream to come true he has had to gain extensive experience in motor racing and in a position other than a racing driver. The time for his dream to become a reality is now.

Q: The SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM has now competed in its first three races ? how are you feeling?
A: We only had such a short time to start up the team and prepare the car for the first race so I am very grateful for all the hard work by the whole team. Since the first three races were fly-aways I am sure that it has been harder for everyone to prepare all the necessary things in time than it would have been had the first race taken place in Europe. However, we were able to complete the races and Takuma has been doing a great job. Yuji is trying very hard to learn how to drive F1 car. I think we have been doing our best so far and I am happy with how things are going.

Q: Has the team been as competitive as you had hoped it would be?
A: I am not concentrating on being competitive at this point. The main thing for the team now is to learn from each race and complete every session. The team has been doing so well and the results have been better than I expected.  zzzz

Q: What is it like to be Team Principal of a Formula One team?
A: I haven't reached the point of enjoying my position yet but I feel the big responsibility of being Team principal and in leading the team in the right direction.

Q: How are the drivers working with their new team mates?
A: Both drivers are getting along well. Taku is giving good advice to Yuji and things are going very well.

Q: You have given Yuji his first opportunity in F1 - how do you think he is doing?
A: I am sure he is having a tough time getting used to the F1 car but I see him trying very hard. Although communicating in English may be hard for him, he will get used to it so I am not worried about that.

Q: And finally, what can we expect from the SUPER AGURI F1 Team as the Formula One circus moves on to Europe for the San Marino Grand Prix in a couple of weeks?
A: It would be very hard to get a good result in the race but we will be more competitive as the season progresses. Everything will be step by step but we will move forward for sure. I hope people will support us and look at us in a long-term perspective. Source Super Aguri Honda

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Big Spanish test kicks off
Oz GP in new Foster's talks
Carlin joins race for F1 '08
Midland's new 'cash crisis'
DC gets Red Bull backing
Williams name new man
Ralf wanted more from decade in F1
Red Bull teams to race at Imola
Spain, Europe, set for bumper F1 crowds
Renault still not fully committed for 2008
Red Bull is no Ferrari 'guinea pig'
formula bmw
Gelles Racing puts Three drivers in Top Five at VIR Gelles Racing puts Three drivers in Top Five at VIRGelles Racing was again the fastest team on the track this weekend when three of its drivers posted times among the Top Five and showed consistency throughout the Formula BMW USA second official testing sessions held at Virginia International Raceway. Leading the charts was again Ryan Campbell who set the best time of the weekend while young Colombian Sebastian Saavedra was third and Formula BMW USA Junior Maxime Pelletier was fifth. Saturday sessions were under constant rain and gave Saavedra the chance to demonstrate his talent also on wet tarmac. Sunday’s sessions were on a dry track and Campbell, who has been dominating since the beginning of the Official BMW USA testing season, regained first place overall.

“We are very happy with the results of our young drivers, as anyone would expect, said team owner Bob Gelles. All our drivers have shown maturity and our crew gave them excellent cars. It is our policy that we come testing with a program and each driver has his own assignment. We like to have our staff work with the engineers and the drivers to improve and sometimes try new setup strategies. This is truly a testing season and we want to get as many scenarios ready when the races start at Mid-Ohio in May. The tracks we visit and the number of sessions our drivers will take to the track will make us well prepared. Gelles Racing has accomplished a lot this past weekend. We have set our Gelles team as the one to beat in Formula BMW USA; we were consistently in the top-10 in Champ Car Atlantic timing sheets at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.  Gelles has proven in both championships that it’s (8) cars will be extremely familiar with the podium in 2006. A true testament to the team’s ability, desire and commitment to our drivers whom are our customers. Teamwork pays dividends and every single team employee’s hard work and dedication is a contribution to the success!”  zzzz

Ryan Campbell Ryan started where he left at Road Atlanta. He saved his car on Saturday in the rain but earned best times in the first and third sessions of Sunday outings. He lowered again the track record (1:07:346) at VIR. Ryan is really the class of the field since official Formula BMW USA testing started and has to be considered the title contender when the season opens at Mid-Ohio. ‘’I’m thrilled with the work we accomplished this weekend, he says. The crew and my engineers are really giving me a strong Western Union machine and this year I know I can win races.’’        

Sebastian Saavedra The young Colombian rookie was very strong in the pouring rain and kept going with Top Three performances on Sunday. ’’Don’t be fooled with the kind child looks of this young man, said team owner Bob Gelles. He’s a real shark out there. Sebastian was faster by as much as five seconds in the rain compared to some competitors. He’s the top Rookie again this weekend with his teammate Pelletier and those two will race for podiums as well as the Rookie Championship this season.’’

Maxime Pelletier Maxime remained the top Formula BMW USA Junior Rookie all weekend and completed his two days in fifth place overall amongst all competitors. The French Canadian was all smiles: ‘’I don’t mind racing in the wet like Saturday, but I am happier with the consistency I showed by being in the top seven or eight all weekend. We have worked with many setups and learned much more about the car that I will take to the Season.’’

Adrien Herberts The Canadian was as high at sixth at one point. “I was pretty satisfied with my second session in the rain Saturday and my second session on Sunday. I’m improving and still race within a second of pole position. I made a small mistake on Sunday damaging the starter/flywheel and missed the fastest session. The pace is very quick and I keep pushing hard. ’’

John Zartarian Zartarian, who aimed to get back in the Top Ten, had plenty of car in his hands. ‘’I have to realize that my car is faster than last year, he admits, and I have to change some driving habits. Sunday was much better and the level of confidence increased as I made it back in to tenth. I’ll be much quicker in Carolina”.

Joel Jackson The Jamaican champion made more ground towards his teammate’s best time. With the help of a driver coach, he narrowed the gap to a mere 1.3 second and kept his FB02 clean of any problem.  ‘’I’m very happy because I’m still improving, added Jackson. I feel more and more comfortable every time I lap a session and I aim to be in the top half of the field. Saturday in the rain was pretty exciting; I kept the machine going and didn’t put a wheel wrong.’’ Gelles Racing 

Gordon Girls Win in First Race Gordon Girls Win in First RaceOn Saturday, Beccy and Robyn Gordon along with their all-girl off-road team won the Buffalo Bill’s 400 in Primm, Nevada, driving the SoBe Life Water class-10 car.

The daughters of off-road legend “Baja Bob” Gordon and sisters of NASCAR driver Robby Gordon, Beccy (left) and Robyn are no strangers to the off-road world.  Their mother, Marlene Gordon, pre-ran the Baja 500 when she was seven months pregnant with Beccy and Robyn is the only woman with an overall win in the Baja 1000.

Less than two months ago, the Gordons formed All-American Girl Racing (AAGR) with Heather Bonanni, Kate Sutton, Jamie Nye, Cari Penhall and Lori Lynch.  All of these ladies grew up in the desert watching their fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands and boyfriends race. They figured it was time for the men to help them get behind the wheel.  Last weekend their dream became a reality as they competed in their first race and grabbed the victory.

SoBe Life Water will partner with AAGR as the team’s official refueling beverage.  AAGR is the first and only all-female race team to compete in SNORE, MDR, and SCORE International Off-Road racing events, including the treacherous Baja 500 and the infamous Baja 1000.

For more information check out AllAmericanGirlRacing.com, AllAmericanGirlRacing.blogspot.com, or SCORE-International.com

Richmond Test Day One Richmond Test Day OneDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Test laps at any track add up in a hurry, but for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams, a championship could lurk in the sum of this week's session at Richmond International Raceway.

"It's early, but still, it's Richmond," said Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet), articulating one of the major reasons 48 teams will gather during the Easter off-week at the Virginia track.

Tuesday marked the first day of a three-day session at the three-quarters-mile surface, which hosts two events -- the Richmond 400 on May 6, and the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 on Sept. 9. Teams may test on two of the three days.

The latter event is race No. 26, the cutoff event that sets the field for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Following the season's first 26 events, the top 10 drivers and any within 400 points of the leader will battle for the series title over the final 10 races. So all track time -- particularly in April and May -- is vital. zzzz

"That's why we're here testing at Richmond," said Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge), the 2004 series champion and defending winner of Richmond's fall event. "That's the cutoff for the Chase. They want to make it an equal opportunity for everybody when it comes down to the wire whether you're in or out. There are no excuses."

Johnson -- the current standing leader after seven events -- and Busch were among the drivers who visited the Richmond media center Tuesday. This week's Richmond test marks the third of six designated 2006 tests for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams. This year, NASCAR has scheduled those tests as a cost-containment measure at tracks that host series events, and those dates are the only test opportunities at those tracks.

Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford), who joined Busch and Johnson in the media center during Tuesday's lunch break, says the policy presents an important opportunity.

"If there was no testing, then it would probably be 95 percent the same for everyone like it has at a lot of the other race tracks we've gone to," Martin said. "The good thing for all of us about testing here is we're not able to look at new and different things extensively because there's no testing. This gives us all a chance to step back, catch our breath and explore new avenues."

Martin explained that most NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams would prepare for an event using base setups if no testing opportunities existed.

"It gives you a chance to veer off the path," Martin said, "but if no one gets to test here, it's the same for everyone."

With clear skies and spring temperatures forecast all week in Richmond, drivers said they anticipated testing under the lights. All sessions begin at 9 a.m., and end at 9 p.m. (ET), weather permitting, with a lunch break from noon until 1 p.m., and a dinner break from 5-6 p.m.

"As the day wears on and we get into the evening, we'll hone in on some things," Johnson said. "Hopefully we'll try and get some speed here. It hasn't been one of the best tracks for myself and Hendrick Motorsports."

"It's great to have the chance to practice under the lights, especially when both of our races are here at night," Busch said.

Still, the former series champion -- in his first season with Penske Racing South -- admitted a bit of wistfulness about the crowded Richmond garage.

"It's a good and a bad thing we're here testing at Richmond," Busch said. "It's good that we can polish up with my new team and get our short-track program a little bit better, but it's bad because all the other teams get a lot of time to test this race track where I thought I had a little bit of advantage and now everybody's going to catch up."

Kahne Celebrates Birthday With a Victory ... Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) had something else to celebrate this week aside from Sunday's victory at Texas Motor Speedway. He turned 26 on Monday.

"I had some stuff to do in the morning, a couple of meetings, and after that I hung out at the sprint car shop with the guys that work on that car," Kahne said. "We ended up out on the lake about four o'clock wake boarding. I'm a little bit sore today. I haven't wake boarded in four or five months."

However, he has won -- twice this season -- at Atlanta before Texas, and both from the Budweiser Pole. Kahne also is third in the series standings. He's the defending winner of Richmond's May event -- his first career win -- and hopes to end the September event firmly entrenched in his first Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

"That brings a lot of attention, and it makes for a fun race," Kahne said. "Everybody gets pretty nervous at that point in time. It's that time of the year, and hopefully we can prepare and get in that final 10."

Kurt Busch, Casey Mears Fastest in Morning Session ... A pair of Dodges topped the charts following Tuesday's morning session. Kurt Busch led all drivers with a top speed of 125.360 mph (21.538 seconds). Casey Mears (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) was second at 125.302 mph (21.548 seconds). Speed charts for all sessions are at www.nascarmedia.com. NASCAR

Mi-Jack Conquest Atlantics team off to good start Mi-Jack Conquest Atlantics team off to good startThe Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Team posted a top-five finish in their first race in the revamped Atlantic Series with rookie Graham Rahal finishing fifth on the streets of Long Beach. Al Unser III, Rahal’s teammate, was involved in a Turn 1 incident near the end of the race and took the checkered flag one lap down in 19th position.

The 17-year old son of three-time Champ Car Champion Bobby Rahal started from the seventh spot on the grid and moved up one position at the start. Graham Rahal was able to finish fifth although making contact with the wall in the opening stages of the race.

 “The race was pretty good for me although I hit the wall on the first lap in Turn 10 and bent the steering but other than that the car ran well and mechanically the Conquest Racing team did an excellent job and we got to the end," said Rahal. "There are a few things we still have to improve on but we were able to keep up with everyone and at one point we were the fastest in the race so I am happy with my fifth place result.”

Son of Al Unser Jr., a six-time winner in Long Beach, Al Unser III, lost a position at the start, falling to 21st, but quickly retook his place in the following laps. Unser was running 18th when he was involved in a first turn accident with three other cars. zzzz

“The race went okay, it was better than the last time I was here. I had a little incident about three quarters of the way into the race. Turn 1 was blocked, I had nowhere to go and I ended up under somebody. Luckily the damage wasn’t that bad and the safety guys pulled me out and I was able to continue. At that point I was already one lap down,” explained Unser. “In general, it was a good race for me, I got to learn a lot and I’m pretty satisfied with the day, just sad that we ended up in that incident.”

“It’s a very promising start for us,” stated team co-owner Eric Bachelart. “We have two talented young drivers and two experienced engineers that work really well together and with today’s result I think it is a sign of good things to come for this season.”

The Atlantic team will be back on track in Houston on May 13 for the second round of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship at the Fast Trac 100.

IMSA announces rules changes IMSA announces rules changesIMSA issued a bulletin today outlining the following changes designated to balance the performance of cars within a given class to equalize the competition:
1) “LM” P1
a) Lola B06/10 / AER (3.6L V8 Turbocharged)
I. Minimum Weight:
Under IMSA balance of performance, reduced to 900kg.
b) Lola EX257 / AER (2.0L L4 Turbocharged)
I. Maximum Restrictor Diameter:
Under IMSA balance of performance, increased to 43.0mm.
II. Maximum intake manifold absolute pressure:
Under IMSA balance of performance, increased to 2800mbar.

2) “LM” P2
a) All 2.0L L4 Turbocharged engines
I. Maximum Restrictor Diameter:
Under IMSA balance of performance, increased to 45.0mm.
II. Maximum intake manifold absolute pressure:
Under IMSA balance of performance, increased to 2700mbar.
b) Rotary engine (Normally aspirated, 3 Rotor)
I. Maximum Restrictor Diameter:
Under IMSA balance of performance, equivalency formula changed to:
D=[(d-1)x1.30+1] (Rounded up to the next 0.1mm)

3) “LM” GT1
a) Aston Martin DBR9
I. Minimum Weight:
Under IMSA balance of performance, reduced to 1100kg.
II. Maximum Restrictor Diameter:
Under IMSA balance of performance, one column to the right:
i.e. 31.8mm (2 restrictors) for 6.0L @ 1100kg.
b) Saleen S7R
I. Minimum Weight:
Under IMSA balance of performance, reduced to 1100kg.
II. Maximum Restrictor Diameter:
Under IMSA balance of performance, two columns to the right:
i.e. 46.4mm (1 restrictor) for 7.0L @ 1100kg.

4) “LM” GT2
a) Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
I. Maximum Restrictor Diameter:
Per the ACO Technical Regulations 2006 “LM”GT2 Appendix 2:
i.e. 29.0mm (2 restrictors) for 3.8L @ 1125kg or 29.2mm (2 restrictors) for 3.6L @ 1125kg

Cirtek signs Brabham Cirtek signs BrabhamCirtek Motorsport moved a step closer to finalizing its 2006 plans when the British team announced its driver line up for June's Le Mans 24-hours. Christophe Bouchut, the 1993 Le Mans winner, former Aston Martin Racing driver David Brabham and Spaniard Antonio Garcia are scheduled to share the Aston Martin DBR9.
Houston Track taking shape Houston Track taking shape
Competitive Showing for Bridgman in Atlantic Debut Competitive Showing for Bridgman in Atlantic DebutTim Bridgman (Dunmow, Essex, England) showed he is a competitive force in this year's Champ Car Atlantic Championship, running at the sharp end of the nearly 30-car grid in the season opener at Long Beach on the weekend.

The 20-year-old finished third fastest in Saturday practice before qualifying 10th in the afternoon after traffic reduced his morning's lap time by more than half a second. "We came in for fresh tires and we caught the bulk of the field on our exit. Given the traffic I was surprised to have made the top 10 to be honest," said Bridgman.

The Epson Team Jensen driver made the most of his starting slot in Sunday's race, quickly gaining three places into seventh, where he ran for the most of the race before caution flags came out as several cars lost their battle with the barriers on the twisting street circuit.  zzzz

As the race resumed on lap 20 of 32, Bridgman was overtaking in Turn 1 and hit a piece of track that had caught out several drivers before him. The incident saw him having to retire from the race. "I was happy with how the car and team were performing, so it's disappointing for the guys who worked super hard all weekend," he said. "But we showed we had the pace and our sponsors really enjoyed the event - it was an amazing atmosphere for opening race - so it was a good race weekend from that point of view and I'm feeling positive about the next race."

Bridgman now returns to the UK before flying back out for race two of the series at Houston's Fast Trac 100 event in May.  For more information, visit www.timbridgman.co.uk

Renault's Pat Symonds explains F1 strategy Renault's Pat Symonds explains F1 strategyWhat does strategy mean in Formula 1? For many people, it boils down to how many pit-stops you are going to make, when you make them, and how they will get you to the end of the race in the quickest possible manner.

In reality though, race strategy is only the most visible component of a mentality that guides every part of a Formula 1 team. From how you allocate your budget, to the lifecycle for which your engine is designed, strategic choices at every level of the company are the foundation stones of success and here, Renault F1’s Pat Symonds explains how strategy dictates everything a team does...

When considering the role strategy plays in how a Formula 1 team operates, race strategy is just the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, planning how we will run our race is a relatively simple statistical exercise – and one that we are constantly modifying as the race unfolds.

More importantly, though, the mentality with which we approach race strategy has evolved significantly from fifteen or twenty years ago. Then, our aim when calculating a strategy was to work out the quickest way to complete the 310 km race distance – it was a theoretical optimum. Now, our focus is on track position – and how to optimize it relative to our rivals. zzzz

In that fight for track position, a race essentially boils down to a series of key moments: times when a driver and his team must be capable of maximizing their performance in order to achieve success. We saw this very clearly in Bahrain two races ago, when Fernando’s victory came down to a critical series of laps around the second pit-stop when he had to move ahead of Schumacher’s Ferrari.

The ability to achieve maximum performance at those critical moments is the result of a web of intersecting factors. Under the two weekend engine life regulations, for example, we need to be able to call on our allocation of maximum revs at those critical moments, to give us the necessary performance. To be able to do so, depends on decisions made 18 months previously when the designers established the exact lifecycle of the engine.

Before reaching the critical moment, we must decide how hard to push the engines during practice and qualifying, and when to use our allocation of laps at high revs, in order to have maximum performance available at the critical moments of the race. Where do we position the compromise between performance and reliability on the engine? How do we allocate our testing miles during the winter – to establishing high performance, or solid reliability? And when, during the race, do we turn the engine down in order to save performance for later on – or the following race weekend? All of these actions are conditioned by strategic decisions made many months previously, as we determine our priorities for how we go racing.

The management of engine life is only the most obvious of the intersecting decisions that take us far beyond the simple question of pit-stop laps. Strategy is about how you run your wind tunnel, and deciding what wings you develop for a particular circuit, at what time of the season. How should you plan the introduction of new developments to make the best use of your production resources? When should you fit new parts to a car, and how do you determine their lifespan? To fit brand new parts every weekend would be easy, but incorrect – because you would spend a large amount money doing so unnecessarily, and potentially compromise your development budget… In each case, the correct compromise must be found.

Within the competitive world of Formula 1, strategy is all-encompassing. Each team has an allotted budget, and within that limit, the way in which the money is apportioned will dictate their success or failure. The balance of investment between performance and reliability development, the strategy for introducing your new car and making it race-ready, all must be taken with a bold strategic vision, and with a clear sense of the priorities for generating the end-product: on-track performance.

That vision is driven by the ability to think strategically – the ability to keep an open mind and to not be trapped by pre-conceived ideas. Within the restrictions of any budget, necessity will always breed invention, and a strategic company must be able to conduct continuous and ongoing analysis of its strengths and weaknesses. You must be able to analyze the situation of today, and what tomorrow may bring, while learning the lessons of the past without being trapped by a need to do things the same way you always have done. If a situation is forced upon you, you must be able to adapt to and learn from it.

Our V8 engine development encapsulated this neatly. We decided not to run an interim car last winter, partly through necessity as our 2005 chassis was not suitable for the 90° angle of the new unit, and partly for reasons of budgetary efficiency. When we took to the track with the new RS26 V8, we were immediately able to run race distances with it, and build a solid platform for the season. And as a result, we have learned a lot about the most cost-effective and reliable way to develop a brand new engine. Our methods were not necessarily those we would have chosen in ideal circumstances, but the necessity of doing things that way has taught us many valuable lessons.

In summary, strategy is about the global approach a team takes to going motor racing. Where it sets its objectives, and how its culture and personnel transform those targets into reality. At Renault, it is a source of pride that in terms of overall efficiency, our ratio of points scored to millions of dollars spent over the past three seasons is the best of any team in the paddock. Taking the right strategic decisions and correctly managing their risks, be it in the cockpit, on the dyno or in the boardroom, are the keys to achieving success in modern-day Formula 1. Renault

track news
Yamaha extends MotoGP support thru 2010 Yamaha extends MotoGP support thru 2010The Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) announced today that Yamaha Motor Corporation has extended its partnership with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca that will ensure its support of the facility through 2010.

A "Proud Sponsor of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix", Yamaha has contributed a significant portion of the $7 million in safety modifications and improvements this year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. This falls on the heels of the $2 million in changes contributed by Yamaha that allowed the MotoGP World Championship to return to the United States and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2005. The 2005 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix was the largest event in the 50-year history of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with a weekend attendance of 153,563.

"After the success of last year's event, we all jumped at the opportunity to continue our relationship with SCRAMP," said Bob Starr, Corporate Communications Manager of Yamaha Motor Corporation. "The funds will ultimately be used to improve rider safety and ensure everyone will enjoy MotoGP racing here in the U.S. for years to come." Zzzz

The Yamaha Marketplace, the well-known and highly attended vendor area located in the lakebed area of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, will also continue through 2010. The Yamaha Marketplace contains vendors representing all areas of motorsports, motor sport memorabilia, motorcycling and motorcycling accessories. The Yamaha Marketplace also received significant expansion in 2006 allowing more area for fans and will also include an 8,000 square foot official Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca souvenir superstore during the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.

"Without Yamaha's initial involvement with SCRAMP, there would not have been a Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca," said Gill Campbell, CEO/General Manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. "To know that Yamaha was willing to step to the plate and continue that support through 2010 allows us to continue to host the MotoGP World Championship for the foreseeable future and keep Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca among the world's premier racing facilities."

Tickets for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca's 50th Season of Racing, including the U.S. Sports Car Invitational featuring the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series May 5-7, the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix July 21-23, the 33rd Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races August 18-20 and the Monterey Sports Car Championships featuring the American Le Mans Series October 20-22, are on-sale now.

Tickets and more information are available by calling (800) 327-SECA or on-line at www.laguna-seca.com.
Couple ready for high speed honeymoon Couple ready for high speed honeymoonCatherine Bennett and Jason West are gearing up for the "High Speed" Honeymoon as winners of the Ultimate Sports Wedding in the Mike & Mike's Marriage Madness promotion on ESPN Radio.

Bennett and West, both 36 and from Jupiter, Fla., were announced as the winners April 6 on the "Mike & Mike in the Morning" show by hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic.

"When they announced that we won, it was almost like a dream," West said. "We're living the sports dream."

The winning couple will be married Friday, May 26 - Bennett's 37th birthday - at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn. The wedding will be broadcast live during "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on ESPN Radio, ESPN2, ESPN360, ESPNRadio.com and Mobile ESPN.  zzzz

Following the ceremony, the newlyweds will be whisked to Indianapolis where they will enjoy deluxe hotel accommodations and receive "the inside scoop" of the Target Chip Ganassi Racing garage from defending Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon. The couple will ride in the IPL 500 Festival Parade and be guests at the Snake Pit Ball on Saturday, May 27.

On Race Day, the bride and groom will take a parade lap around the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, be interviewed on the red carpet during the pre-race festivities and watch "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" from a VIP suite along the front stretch.

The "High Speed" Honeymoon is one of many prizes that Bennett and West will receive for winning the contest, including $20,000 cash, VIP treatment at the ESPY Awards and the ESPN Golf School. Online voting from ESPN Radio listeners and a vote of an ESPN selection committee trimmed the field of 496 couples over a span of more than eight weeks.

Voters and the selection committee were impressed at how love for sports helped Bennett fight breast cancer during her courtship with West. Another clincher was that West proposed to Bennett by hiring a small plane to fly a banner reading, "Marry Me Catherine - I Love You Jason - GO GATORS!" over Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at the University of Florida - known to fans as "The Swamp" - shortly before the football game between Florida and archrivals Florida State.

This will be the second trip to Indianapolis this year for Bennett and West, avid fans of University of Florida athletics. They visited Indianapolis during Final Four weekend on March 31-April 3, when their beloved Gators claimed a first NCAA men's basketball championship. IRL

Carlin confirms F1 application Carlin confirms F1 applicationCarlin Motorsport confirmed today that it has presented an entry to the FIA for the 2008 Formula One World Championship.

Team Principal Trevor Carlin “We believe that the introduction of the new initiatives by the FIA in regard to sporting and technical rule changes for the future of Formula 1 have been designed to allow successful junior teams such as Carlin Motorsport to make the previously difficult step up to Formula One. The proposed cost reductions should bring the necessary budgets within our reach.

We are well underway with building an appropriate infrastructure and have firm commitments from key people who are experienced in F1 design, marketing, management and operations. They will join us if our entry is accepted.

We have also agreed the purchase of an established facility in the south of England, for design and specialist production and a composite facility near our base to handle the major workload.

We realize that there is considerable competition for the entry and the team’s credentials are our success in racing. We are confident that the requisite finance will be available from our existing contacts if the entry is accepted.”

Final Spanish GP tickets go on sale Final Spanish GP tickets go on saleAlonso-mania has certainly helped Circuit de Catalunya in terms of ticket sales in recent times and now the circuit are set to release the final batch of tickets.

On Thursday the last 1,200 grandstand tickets for the May 14th event will go on sale.

“We haven’t increased the circuit’s capacity again," Operations Manager Ramon Maltas said." These tickets come from members who have not renewed their card or cancellations of reservations by tour operator and agencies."

This year Circuit de Catalunya increased its capacity with more than 12,000 new places for the 2006 event. Source Circuit de Catalunya

Portland Champ Car fan event Portland Champ Car fan eventMeet the Drivers/Teams: City Sports Bar & Restaurant

The Drivers want to see our fans!! Come out this Wednesday night April 12th from 6:30 -8pm and meet your favorite Champ Car Drivers and team members in our Annual Meet the Teams at the City Sports Bar & Restaurant (424 SW 4th.  Between Stark and Washington).  This is a great opportunity to have dinner and ask questions with your favorite Champ Car Drivers and their teams.  Tickets, prizes, and merchandise will be given away.  This is a great opportunity to get some pictures.

All ages are welcome (till 8pm) to this event and there are two Smart Parks within two blocks of the restaurant.   A nice affordable menu featuring an array of sandwiches, burgers, chicken and pasta dishes, salads, wraps etc will be available.

Please pass this along to any friends that may be interested in joining you.

Note: Free and open Spring Champ Car Testing will be at PIR Wednesday and Thursday this week from 10am -4pm.  17 drivers are scheduled to be testing.  Questions: jeremy@globaleventsgrouppdx.com PIR

Williams inks new Marketing Head Williams inks new Marketing HeadWilliamsF1 has signed Scott Garrett as its new Head of Marketing, to replace Jim Wright who two weeks ago to pursue other interests.  Garrett most recently worked as Vice President of Brands for HJ Heinz, and formerly held senior marketing roles with Publicis Group, J Walter Thompson, Nike and Saatchi & Saatchi.

"We are very much looking forward to harnessing Scott's considerable experience and expertise in our continuing efforts to better support our existing commercial partners, as well as helping us to attract new sponsors," Sir Frank Williams said.

Gene and Ferrari (V10) lead the way Gene and Ferrari (V10) lead the wayTuesday test times from Barcelona.  Gene is running an old V10 Ferrari so you can dismiss his time.
1 . M. Gene - Ferrari F2004 V10 - 1:16.122 (+ 0.000 ) - 100 laps
2 . N. Rosberg - Williams Cosworth FW28 - 1:16.313 (+ 0.191 ) - 96 laps
3 . L. Badoer - Ferrari 248 F1 - 1:16.391 (+ 0.269 ) - 98 laps
4 . N.   
Karthikeyan - Williams Cosworth FW28 - 1:16.440 (+ 0.318 ) - 96 laps
5 . C. Klien - Red Bull Ferrari RB2 - 1:16.691 (+ 0.569 ) - 50 laps
6 . N. Jani - Toro Rosso Cosworth STR1 - 1:16.795 (+ 0.673 ) - 89 laps
7 . D. Coulthard - Red Bull Ferrari RB2 - 1:17.152 (+ 1.030 ) - 51 laps.

* Times courtesy of Circuit de Catalunya

Wind tunnel and more at Hinwil Wind tunnel and more at HinwilThe BMW Sauber F1 Team's facility in the tranquil uplands around Zurich numbers around 300 employees. By the end of 2007, the workforce at Hinwil will swell to more than 400. Learn more about the facilities Wildbachstraße.

To cope with the challenging development and testing program, staff numbers in all departments will be ramped up, with the aerodynamics division receiving the biggest boost to allow for 24-hour operation of the wind tunnel in due course.

The Hinwil complex embraces three buildings. The main building in Wildbachstraße 9 houses the management, chassis concept and construction, and the administration. Along with the quality control department, the system and vehicle engineers as well as the race and test team are also housed here. The four-storey office and factory complex covers more than 6.800 square meters and also accommodates carbon fibre production, chassis assembly and storerooms.

Sauber had already moved into today's annex in Wildbachstraße 3b back in the era of the World Sports Car Championship. When the planned involvement in Formula One put space at a premium in these premises, the company relocated to the new block in 1992. Today this is the main building, while mechanical production remains at the former company headquarters. zzzz

The state-of-the-art wind tunnel right next to the main building went on stream in spring of 2004. The structure measures 65 meters long, 50 meters wide and 17 meters high and is particularly striking for its glass facade. Working here alongside the technicians, who operate the wind tunnel are also the model designers and constructors, the CFD specialists and other employees in the aerodynamics department. 'Albert', the 18-tonne supercomputer for CFD calculations and one of the most powerful machines in Formula One and the motoring industry as a whole, was put on the ground floor. An event area rounds off this technological and architectural tour de force. Source BMW Sauber F1

Formula BMW
F-BMW USA announces '06 driver lineup F-BMW USA announces '06 driver lineupWoodcliff Lake, NJ - With 25 top young racers registered for the full season and additional drivers intending to compete in two or more rounds, the Formula BMW USA championship begins its third season with the largest and most diverse class ever.

As it has in two previous years, the 2006 Formula BMW USA championship will showcase an international field of young talented race car drivers competing in one of the world's most impressive entry-level open wheel racing series.

Representing North America, Central America, South America, and Europe young drivers from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Jamaica and Italy will line up in state-of-the-art FB02s to begin their professional motorsport careers.

"For a third year, Formula BMW USA will continue to change the face of racing by introducing some of the best young talent in the world," said Alexander Schmuck, Formula BMW USA Manager. "Formula BMW USA offers its drivers challenging race tracks, a state-of-the-art race car and an advanced Education and Coaching Program - simply put, the best start possible."  Drivers who earned 2006 Formula BMW USA Junior scholarships include two Americans, two Canadians and one Mexican. From the US are Jordan Dick, 18, of Northville, Michigan, and Robert Thorne, 16, of Sherman, Connecticut. David Garza, 17, of Monterrey, Mexico upholds the honor of Central America. Born in France, but making his home in Longueuil, Quebec, Maxime Pelletier, 15, races under the Canadian flag. The fifth scholarship was awarded to Canadian Robert Wickens, 17, of Etobicoke, Ontario. A Formula BMW Junior in 2005, Wickens is the highest finishing Rookie Cup driver returning in 2006 and thus earns a second Junior scholarship.  zzzz

Along with Wickens, eight more young drivers will return from last season. They are, Doug Boyer, 19, of Munster, Ind.; Matt Lee, 16, of Syosset, NY; Race Johnson, 17, of West Linn, Ore.; Californians John Zatarian, 19, of Carlsbad; Reed Stevens, 20, of Palo Alto; Jules Duc, 16, of Los Gatos; Adrien Herberts, 16, of Coquitlam, British Columbia; and Ryan Campbell, 19, of Lethbridge, Alberta.

Additional US entrants new to Formula BMW USA include Californians Ryan Phinny, 16, of Carmel Valley, who started two FBUSA races last season; Scott Schroeder, 17, of Piedmont; and Frankie Muniz, 20, of Los Angeles. Muniz, now focusing on a professional racing career, is best known as a film and Emmy nominated television actor.

International drivers competing in their first Formula BMW USA season are Joel Jackson, 19, of Jamaica; Canadians Daniel Morad, 16, Yannick Hofman 17, and Philip Major, 17; Colombians Sebastian Saavedra, 15, and Steven Guerrero, 16; and Brazilian Marco Santos, 23. Simona De Silvestro, 17, the second female ever to race in Formula BMW USA, will race under the Italian flag.

"Formula BMW USA's plan is to start drivers with the firmest foundation for a career in motorsports," adds Schmuck. "This year, not only do we begin the 2006 season with our largest field ever, but, as importantly, we have graduates racing forward. Andreas Wirth, our 2004 Champion, and Richard Philippe, last year's champion, will race in the Champ Car Atlantic Series, as well as Graham Rahal, James Hinchcliffe and James Davison. We wish them all the best."  The fight for the 2006 Formula BMW USA championship will start with the first two Rounds at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on May 19-21 and will visit some of the most famous circuits on the continent, including the Formula One races at Montreal and Indianapolis, before finishing at Mosport International Raceway, in Canada, on Sept. 1-3.

2006 Formula BMW USA Entries:

No. Name Nationality Hometown
1 Robert Thorne ® American Sherman, CT
2 Frankie Muniz American Ridgewood, NJ
3 Adrien Herberts Canadian Coquitlam, British Columbia
4 Ryan Campbell Canadian Lethbridge, Alberta
5 Sebastian Saavedra ® Colombian Bogota, Colombia
6 John Zartarian American Carlsbad, CA
7 Steven Guerrero ® Colombian Lake Park, FL
8 Race Johnson American West Linn, OR
9 Yannick Hofman Canadian Rosemere, Quebec
10 Reed Stevens American Palo Alto, CA
11 Maxime Pelletier ® Canadian Longueuil, Quebec
12 Jules Duc American Los Gatos, CA
15 David Rangel Mexican Key Biscane, FL
16 Ryan Phinny American Carmel Valley, CA
19 Jordan Dick ® USA/Canada Northville, MI
21 Scott Schroeder American Piedmont, CA
22 Joel Jackson ® Jamaican Kingston, Jamaica
23 David Garza ® Mexican Monterrey, Mexico
25 Marco Santos Brazilian Blumenau, Brazil
33 Doug Boyer American Munster, IN
44 Matt Lee American Syosset, NY
49 Philip Major Canadian Ottawa, Ontario
50 Simona De Silvestro Italian/Swiss Mont sur Rolle, Switzerland
66 Robert Wickens Canadian Toronto, Ontario
70 Daniel Morad ® Canadian Markham, Ontario
® Rookie

Aston Martin enters Houston and Mid-Ohio rounds Aston Martin enters Houston and Mid-Ohio roundsThe battle between Aston Martin Racing and Corvette Racing will continue in the American Le Mans Series with the announcement that two Aston Martin DBR9s will be on the grid at the Lone Star Grand Prix in Houston on May 12 and the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio on May 21.

According to Aston Martin Racing, the cars will be driven by Tomas Enge, Stephane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy with a fourth driver to be named at a later date.

At the 54th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the two Aston Martin Racing entries placed second and third in GT1. The team’s new relationship with Pirelli got off to a flying start as the cars qualified 1-2 on the grid, paced by Enge’s record-setting lap of 1:55.286 (115.539 mph). Enge set a record with the fastest lap of the race, a 1:56.573 (114.263 mph) effort on Lap 284.

The next round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series is the Lone Star Grand Prix, scheduled for 8 p.m. CDT on May 12 in Houston. It will be broadcast at 1 p.m. May 13 on CBS Sports, the first of five straight Series events on network television. Qualifying is set for 6:15 p.m. CDT on May 11. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage at www.americanlemans.com, which also will have IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.

TV News
IROC TV rating IROC TV ratingLive coverage of the Texas Crown Royal IROC Series race on SPEED scored a Nielsen Rating of .97 (641,000 Households), making it the third-highest rated IROC race ever on the network, falling in behind Daytona Speedweeks 2005 (1.47/932,000 HH) and Daytona Speedweeks 2006 (1.09/708,000). A Saturday replay of the Texas race added another 428,000 households. The next IROC race on SPEED will be live from Daytona on June 29 at 10 p.m. ET. SPEED
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in briefUPDATE This Foster's announcement below leaves the British GP race without a sponsor, although today’s news will not affect Silverstone or its owner, the British Racing Drivers’ Club, directly.  Sponsorship and signage deals for races generate money only for Allsport Management, now part of the Formula One group of companies, with nothing going to the tracks.  Foster’s managing director Richard Scully said: “This sponsorship has been important for Foster’s, raising consumer awareness of the brand globally.”

Super Aguri slow but reliable
Bourdais admits F1 shot has nearly raced by
Oz GP struck by 'TV fizzer'
JV, 35, happy with '06 racer
Ralf slams 'stupid' rivals
New pistons for Ferrari's V8
Foster's pulls out of global F1 sponsorship

Mixed results for Pizzonia’s Champ Car debut Mixed results for Pizzonia’s Champ Car debutFormer Jaguar and BMW Williams racer Antonio Pizzonia made his Champ Car debut on the streets of Long Beach on Sunday when he took the green flag for the season opener of the 2006 Champ Car World Series.

The Brazilian was running in seventh position following the inevitable pile-up at the first turn and closing in on the sixth spot trailing Cristiano da Matta. Heading into turn one, he didn’t quite make it around da Matta who was exiting from the pits, and he stalled the car.

After another yellow flag, Pizzonia had a close opportunity to gaining back his lap as he sat behind Sebastien Bourdais who was the leader, and eventually race winner. On the restart, he just did not get enough momentum going to get around Bourdais, and would race the rest of the afternoon using the laps as practice. zzzz

Despite the roller coaster afternoon for the rookie, Pizzonia did salvage tenth position. “Well I am pretty disappointed," said Pizzonia. “Things were going well, when I was challenging da Matta, I down shifted the gears too fast, the rear wheels locked and I stalled. It was unfortunate because the team did such a great job to get me into the fifth spot and we were running well out there this afternoon."

Rocketsports Racing Team Owner Paul Gentilozzi was impressed with Pizzonia. “We are very proud of Antonio this weekend. He did not let us down.   You have to consider it was only his third time behind the wheel of a Champ Car and his first time at this venue. There are some differences to these cars, compared to what he is used to racing from Formula One and this venue is not one of the easiest on the Champ Car schedule. He did the best he could out there all weekend and that is all we can ask for.”

Pizzonia and Rocketsports will now sit down and try and make his one off-outing a full time deal for the rest of the season. Source Rocketsports

NASCAR clothing for women NASCAR clothing for womenThere was a segment about NASCAR clothing for women on the Today Show Monday morning.  Here is a video link on MSNBC powered by MSN.  Another example of where NASCAR is leaving the other racing leagues in their exhaust.
Siedler and Schiavo show well in debut Siedler and Schiavo show well in debutLong Beach, California - Although the results don’t speak to the efforts of Brooks Associates drivers, Norbert Siedler and Luis Schiavo, the team finished the weekend with at least a few points towards the Championship.

The weekend began with Norbert Siedler easily in the top three, putting down the second fastest lap of the Friday morning practice, only to have his qualifying hopes dashed by a brush with the Turn 1 wall. Missing the session added some challenges to the weekend, but he qualified in the top ten for the first race of the Atlantic season.

After making a strong start in the race, Norbert found himself collected between two drivers in Turn 1. Able to get restarted, but now a lap down, he drove with a damaged front wing and bent uprights to within less than half a second of his fastest lap times for the balance of the race. “How he was able to pilot that car, with that damage, to the extent he did, speaks volumes for his ability. The results this weekend are deceiving – it was an impressive drive,” said John Brooks, team owner.

Luis Schiavo was consistent through the practice and qualifying sessions, starting the race in 19th position. “Luis is really good at improving his pace on a continual basis as he learns the tracks. He actually qualified just outside the top ten, but that time was disallowed following his own brush with the wall in Turn 9, red flagging the session, which resulted in his fastest time being taken away, ” said John. zzzz

Moving up quickly at the start of the race, Luis artfully avoided being collected in the same accident as Norbert with a quick spin and was able to continue on, ultimately finishing in 15th position.

“While not quite what we anticipated in terms of results this weekend, a few points is still valuable as we start the year. It’s an improvement over the dnf’s at Long Beach last year (both drivers were taken out in racing incidents in 2005) and we’re ready to hit the streets of Houston. Both our drivers are contenders in what is clearly going to be an exciting Atlantic season,” said John.

Gelles Racing a victim of circumstances Gelles Racing a victim of circumstancesLong Beach –   Robbie Pecorari (right) kept out of trouble and drove a solid race to complete his first ever race in the Champ Car Atlantic championship in seventh place. Starting from row seven, the 19 year-old Pennsylvanian reeled in a few positions in the first laps and was sitting in eleventh place when he barely missed his teammate Stephen Simpson who had gone into a tire barrier exiting turn one. Pecorari motored on from then and took a deserving finish well into the Top Ten. South African Stephen Simpson (right) was in sixth place when he completed a pass for a position but found no room at the end of the front stretch and contacted the tire wall. Seconds after, he was hit in the back by a car that had not noticed the officials slowing down the pace of the race.

 “I’m happy with this first race, said Pecorari. We missed a little bit on our race set-up and I was expecting more downforce in the slow corners. I had to fight some understeer and could not catch up the car ahead. I stayed out of trouble when other cars got caught going out of line. It’s going to be a long season and the points are welcomed at this point. Further testing will provide us a chance to work on tuning the car and finding more speed.”  zzzz

Simpson: caught off-guard
Stephen Simpson ran in eighth place from the start of the race but had a fast restart on the 12th lap, putting him in front for sixth at the end of Shoreline Drive. “I stayed wide of Graham (Rahal) when I saw him approaching turn one to prevent us from touching. When I started braking I was quite outside of the curve and started rolling on the marbles. Then I lost control and my car was at this point on crash course. I didn’t touch the tire barrier that hard and thought I could restart. But after several seconds I was hit in the back and that was my day. I can’t understand why a car would run into me at such speed when the yellow had been waved for so long.”

Testing in Houston
Like every team entered in the Atlantic Champ Car championship, Gelles Racing gave its engines back to Cosworth for a complete after-race scrutiny. “We will have to wait until they get back before we could be able to test at MSR just prior to the race at Houston in May, said team owner Bob Gelles. Meanwhile our engineers Dave Conti and Alan Langridge will meet with the drivers to prepare the next rounds of testing in Texas preparing for the Grand Prix of Houston.

Getting the IRL to Motegi Getting the IRL to MotegiGetting from point A to B doesn't overly concern Chad Head. It's the details of getting to point A that currently occupy the time of the Indy Racing League's senior manager of operations. 

Attention to details is crucial as the IndyCar Series moves to Japan for the Indy Japan 300 on April 22 at Twin Ring Motegi for the fourth consecutive year. The logistics and paperwork of a 13,500-mile roundtrip move of more than 425,000 pounds of equipment - everything from race cars to the sanctioning body's technical inspection station -- is mind-boggling.

Manifests, customs clearances and even the time difference (13 hours) aren't lost on Head.

"I'm just trying to juggle the teams' equipment and our equipment, and trying to answer last-minute questions," he said. "Manifests for customs in Motegi have to be very precise, so we have to make sure the Is are dotted and Ts crossed."  zzzz

Amid the honking forklifts and rolls of shrink wrap, IndyCar Series teams have appointed times to deliver their pre-packed containers for inspection at Indianapolis International Airport. Cars are loaded two-high onto specially built 18- and 10-foot pallets. All containers are verified for weight and checked against the team's manifest.

Two chartered Nippon Cargo Airlines 747s will be loaded for the trip to New Tokyo (Narita) Airport. The freighters have a maintenance stop in Anchorage, Alaska, before heading across the Pacific Ocean. After cargo is unloaded and trucked three hours north to Twin Ring Motegi, it will clear customs and be available for teams to unpack.

"We're in a bonded area at the racetrack, so you clear customs when you leave the U.S. and you clear Japan customs at the track," said Indy Racing League vice president of league development John Lewis, who handed off the transcontinental move to Head this year. "Everything goes back to Japan customs in that same configuration to come back and clear customs here. Everything that came must go; it will come out the same way it came in."

Constricting the schedule somewhat was last week's Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, preceded by two consecutive weekends of racing in Florida. Fortunately, this year is a break between U.S. customs clearance and the opening of practice for the 90th Indianapolis 500 (May 7 for Rookie Orientation Program and May 9 for all cars on track).

"We hopefully get a weekend off and a week to prepare for the Speedway," Head said. "Last year, I was really impressed watching how smoothly this operation went at both places, and how organized the teams and IRL were."  IRL

track news
IRP to get SAFER Barrier IRP to get SAFER BarrierIndianapolis Raceway Park officials say they will begin installation of the SAFER barriers on the 0.686-mile oval Tuesday.

The barriers will be installed in the corners but not on the frontstretch or backstretch.   "We strive to provide the safest racing venue for our Competitors, and this will ensure the safety of not only our NASCAR racers but all who race at IRP."

Long Beach 2007, save that date Long Beach 2007, save that dateNext year's Long Beach GP will be run on the weekend of April 13-15, 2007 - one week later than before, to avoid the Masters Golf Tournament.

In other related Grand Prix news, at right is a graphic that depicts the poll results conducted on the Long Beach Grand Prix website asking which race was the one they were coming to see.  Overwhelmingly the fans were there to see the Champ Car event.

Track News
Improved seating announced for Denver GP Improved seating announced for Denver GPUPDATE Correction: The removed grandstands in question were actually part of the Centrix Village suite area, a private suite area in turns 2 and 3, and not available to the general public. This year they are replaced by 24 double-decker suites going in place in that area. 04/10/06

[Editor's Note: Who are they trying to fool with this press release? At least three grandstands have been removed from last year.] At Life in the Fast Lane, you can witness the 750-horsepower Champ Cars rocketing around the 1.65-mile Pepsi Center track from an up close and personal vantage point. New this year for the 5th annual CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver are all-grandstand seating and a VIP Pit Row section to enhance the experience from "Drivers start your engines" to the waving of the checkered flag. Today, tickets go on sale and can be purchased at www.gpdenver.com <http://www.gpdenver.com/> .

The 2006 Grand Prix of Denver will offer more track-side viewing than ever before. Guests wanting the security of a guaranteed seat can purchase reserved tickets in areas offering the best views of the racetrack. However, for the first time, grandstand seating is now available on a first-come basis to all general admission ticket holders. This will give Denver fans the option to stay in one place with a guaranteed seat, or to move about the circuit and enjoy the on-track action from a variety of viewing options.

"Whether you want the security of a reserved seat in a great viewing area, or the freedom to roam the facility and experience the event from different views in general admission seating, we have a ticketing package to meet our guests' needs," said Rob Johnson, general manager for the CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver. "This year's theme --Life in the Fast Lane--is all about combining motorsports with action sports and live music. Living in the fast lane is about making choices on your terms and having the freedom to enjoy it. Our new seating embodies that in every way." zzzz

This year's CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver also features additional hospitality clubs and chalets. For the first time, the Denver venue has added a VIP section directly over pit row, allowing fans to get up close and personal to the cars, athletes and action. In 2006, VIP ticket holders will enjoy elegantly catered club/chalet accommodations with a birds-eye view of the track.

The Grand Prix has enhanced its ticket purchasing system through a simple-to-use online system. General Admission tickets start at $8 per person and reserved seating prices begin at $89. Full ticket pricing options are listed at and can be purchased through www.gpdenver.com <http://www.gpdenver.com/> . Guests can also purchase tickets toll free at 877-772-5425 and at trackside ticket offices during race weekend. Denver GP

How Cosworth stunned the F1 world How Cosworth stunned the F1 worldThe annual engine budgets of the manufacturer-backed Formula One teams start at US$90 million (Renault) and go all the way up to US$200 million (Honda). So it is vexing for many in the paddock that during the Bahrain Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg’s Cosworth-powered Williams was able not only to set the fastest lap in the race but also to complete no fewer than 13 laps in under 1 min 33 secs. The Cosworth revival is the surprise of the season, with a total engine development, manufacturing and support budget of less than US$18 million.

Bernard Ferguson, Cosworth’s commercial director, says: “Everyone thought it was just a marriage of convenience between two desperate organizations, and most people wrote us off.” This time everyone was wrong. More....(PDF 900KB)

Leffler lands Cup ride Leffler lands Cup rideThe Great Clips Racing program has announced the addition of Jason Leffler to its driver lineup, joining Braun Racing teammate and Rookie-of-the-Year contender AJ Foyt IV who currently drives the No. 38 Great Clips entry. Great Clips, which this season has served as primary sponsor of Foyt's No. 38 entry, will divide their sponsorship between Braun Racing's No. 32 and No. 38 entries throughout the 2006 season.
A promising start for Legge A promising start for LeggePKV Racing’s Katherine Legge made her Champ Car debut a success with a record setting performance at the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season opening Toyota Grand of Long Beach in Long Beach, CA.

Legge, in the #20 Optium – PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry, earned the highest finish by a female in Champ Car/CART history by placing eighth. Teammate Jimmy Vasser, driving in perhaps his last Long Beach Grand Prix, succumbed to an engine problem and finished 14th in the #12 Gulfstream/Bell Micro - PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, while Oriol Servia, driving in his first race for PKV Racing, was the victim of a first lap incident and placed 18th in the #6 Gulfstream/Bell Micro-PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone car.

Legge, who made the first start by a female in a Champ Car/CART race since Lyn St. James at Michigan in 1995, qualified 17th. After spending the first two days learning and gaining experience on the challenging and difficult 1.968-mile 11-turn Long Beach temporary street circuit she drove a smart, patient race. Benefiting from a solid race strategy and getting outstanding work from her Optium – PKV Racing crew, the talented 24-year-old Brit was able to overcome a spin while working lap 36 to bring the car home for the first top-10 finish in the first race of her Champ Car career.

“Basically, I am really happy because I brought the Optium – PKV Racing car home with all four wheels on,” Legge said. “I am kind of mad because I screwed up. I made that one mistake and I keep kicking myself because I think we could have finished in the top-six. I am my own worst enemy, but at the end of the day it was my first race in a Champ Car, we finished in the top-10 and we finished on the led lap, which is what I wanted to do, so it is a pretty good result,” she explained. “The Optium – PKV Racing team did a fantastic job today. To have those guys behind me was just great. They got me back me back on the lead lap, the pit stops, everything were awesome. The whole PKV Racing team has been 100% behind me and I am very proud of them right now,” Legge noted. zzzz

Legge moved up four spots at the start of the race following the opening lap melee that collected Servia. She made the first competitive pit stop of her career on lap 14 and picked up one position in the process to move 12th place. On lap 24, Legge displayed some of her trademark determination by making one of the few on-track passes of the race to move into 11th place. When Vasser dropped out on lap 25, Legge found herself in 10th place. Ten laps later, following a restart, she spun in Turn #5 putting her one lap down and in 12th place. At that point the PKV Racing brain trust of team General Manger Jim McGee, Team Manager Steve Krisiloff and Technical Director Tom Brown, who was directing Legge’s race, devised a strategy that took advantage of a yellow flag situation. With Brown making the final decision to “gamble a bit”, he left Legge on track until the last possible moment. Champ Car officials, per the rules, eventually waived Legge around the pace car putting her back on the lead lap. The team immediately pitted the #20 car giving it enough fuel to finish the race and got Legge back out still on the lead lap, but now in tenth place. As the race wound down, two more cars fell out and Legge had secured her record setting performance. (Note: The Champ Car World Series record book includes USAC Champ Car events back to 1909. Janet Guthrie finished ninth at the 1978 Indianapolis 500 which was a USAC Champ Car event.)

Commenting on competing in her first Champ Car race Legge said, “I am kind of relieved to have it over and done right now (her first Champ Car race). Since the beginning of the year we have been building for this race. There has been a lot of pressure and a lot of expectations. We have tried to manage that and I think we exceeded some of the expectations. I made a mistake and I am not going to make that mistake again. Hopefully, we can improve next time. In the end it is about scoring points each race we did that, so I am happy right now. Champ Car what a awesome place to be.”

Legge, considered a rising star, burst on the open-wheel racing scene last year when she captured three races in route to a third-place showing during her rookie season in the Atlantic Championship Series, which is part of the Champ Car World Series ladder system. The 25-year-old won her debut event in the Atlantic series taking the victory in Long Beach, which made her the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America. The win in Long Beach earned Legge Southern California’s Top 2005 Racing Moment of the Year Award in voting by the public. She also won the 2005 Atlantic Championship Series BBS Rising Star Award and recently was named the winner of RACER magazine’s Most Promising Road Racer Award as voted by fans around the world. In the off-season tested with Formula 1’s Minardi Team in November, A1 Grand Prix’s Great Britain Team in December and Champ Car’s Rocketsports Racing also in December. She subsequently tested twice with PKV Racing, late in December and in January before signing on February 14th. PKV Racing

Are Mexican newspapers reforming their ways? Are Mexican newspapers reforming their ways?Mexican newspapers El Norte and Reforma (most important newspapers in Mexico City and Monterrey) have a long history of bashing Champ Car, minimizing the good, maximizing the bad and going out of their way to spin any news into bad publicity. Are they changing their ways? For the Long Beach Grand Prix they didn't send one reporter, but two to cover the whole event. They published two full pages on Sunday and two full pages on Monday on the Toyota GP of Long Beach. The true test will be the two Mexican races. Jose Arrambide
TV News
ESPN to pull out all stops for NASCAR ESPN to pull out all stops for NASCARUPDATE ABC Sports/ ESPN president George Bodenheimer, whose networks return to the mix of televising NASCAR events for the first time in six years next season, said he prefers late afternoon starting times for Sunday Nextel Cup events in 2007. "Generally we're looking to televise the sport when we can attract the highest ratings that we can," Bodenheimer said. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

04/10/06 ESPN plans to pull out all the bells and whistles when NASCAR returns to the cable sports network in 2007. "ESPN has really morphed or grown since we were last in the sport," said ESPN president George Bodenheimer, who was at Texas on Sunday. "We're really considered a multimedia network now. We're looking to take this property and blow it out, if you will." The network will offer plenty of coverage in studio shows, analysis and a heavy online presence. Much of it has yet to be formalized, said Bodenheimer, also president of ABC Sports. ESPN and ABC will broadcast 17 Cup races beginning in 2007, the first year of an eight-year contract the networks signed with NASCAR. ABC was one of the first networks to televise stock car racing in the 1960s, and ESPN introduced flag-to-flag race telecasts in the 1980s. The network was NASCAR's leading carrier through the 1990s, but has not aired a race since 2000, when it lost the rights to NBC and Fox. Bodenheimer said the return of NASCAR to ESPN marks an emotional reunion after both grew to national prominence. ESPN.com/AP

Jack Bowsher dies Jack Bowsher diesThree-time ARCA national driving champion and six-time car owner champion Jack Bowsher died Saturday, April 8th. He was 75. Bowsher had 80 victories as a car owner and 48 as a driver. Bowsher's car sat on the pole and won the NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at the road course in Riverside, California in 1970 with A.J. Foyt behind the wheel. Bowsher finished 16th in the 24 Hours of Daytona as a car owner in 1976 with drivers David and Larry Pearson, and sons Jim & Gary. He is survived by wife Julie Bowsher, sons’ Jack Bowsher Jr., Gary Bowsher, Jim Bowsher, Bobby Bowsher and Todd Bowsher, and daughter Jodie Bowsher. As per Jack's wishes, there will be no funeral home viewing. Graveside Services open to the public will be Tuesday April 11 at 1:00pm at Fletcher Chapel Cemetery, 5920 Fletcher Pike, Harmony Township, Springfield, Ohio 45505.

There will be a memorial gathering open for family and friends immediately following the graveside service from 3:00pm to 7:00pm at: VFW Post 8673, 2825 East Leffel Lane, Springfield, Ohio 45505. In lieu of flowers please make a donation in Jack's name to: Focus Motorsports Ministries, Bill Krick, Chaplain, 2497 Governors Pointe, Concord, NC 28025-2425.(ARCARacing.com and toddbowsher.com

Racing News
CSS Stellar sign Charlie Kimball CSS Stellar sign Charlie KimballCSS Stellar Management today announced the signing of Charlie Kimball as a client. Charlie made a big impact on his debut season in British Formula 3, his 5 race wins and a total of 13 podiums securing him an overall 2nd place in the driver standings. He is racing in the 2006 Formula 3 Euroseries Championship with the Signature Team.
Speaking on their latest signing, Julian Jakobi said "we are delighted to sign Charlie as a client as we regard him as one of the young drivers who has the potential to go all the way to Formula 1.  He achieved a lot in Formula 3 last year and we are looking forward to working with him in the future starting with his campaign in the Formula 3 Euroseries."
Charlie is enthusiastic about his new partnership: "I am really excited to be working with CSS Stellar and I look forward to the many opportunities this relationship will offer.  Over the years, CSS has developed the reputation of guiding young drivers as they become Champions. I am pleased and proud to become one of their drivers."
Francis wins WypAll Wipers Crew Chief Award Francis wins WypAll Wipers Crew Chief AwardKenny Francis and Kasey Kahne teamed up to capture another win this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. For the second time this season, Kahne started on the pole and held on to take the checkers, this time out-dueling Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth in the final stages of the Samsung / Radio Shack 500. Francis' dominant weekend earned him the WypAll Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. A panel of voters; including Tony Eury Sr., a member of the local media and a WypAll Wipers representative; all cast their vote for Francis as the Crew Chief of the Race. For winning the Crew Chief of the Race award, WypAll Wipers gave Francis $1,000. At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned the WypAll Wipers Crew Chief of the Year. This was Francis' second Crew Chief of the Race award in 2006, which ties him with Robbie Reiser for the lead. Darian Grubb and Roy McCauley are tied for second-place in the standings, each with one win. Wypall PR
BMW team to test with others in Spain BMW team to test with others in SpainThe BMW Sauber F1 Team is traveling to Barcelona this week for further tests. Starting on Tuesday, a total of ten teams will assemble to work on further improvements. Nick Heidfeld, Jacques Villeneuve and Robert Kubica are scheduled to complete their first laps at the 'Circuit de Catalunya' on Wednesday.

Following a three-day testing program at the 'Circuit Paul Ricard' close to Le Castellet, the BMW Sauber F1 Team is still not resting to take a break. On the contrary, the team will continue to work on further improvements to the BMW Sauber F1.06.

The final tests prior to the San Marino Grand Prix on 23rd April are held at the 4.627 kilometer 'Circuit de Catalunya' close to the Spanish metropolis of Barcelona. The layout of the circuit is very demanding on the aerodynamic set-up of the cars and therefore, is a very popular test track among Formula One teams. Source BMW Sauber F1

Dyson Racing still learning new Lola Dyson Racing still learning new LolaThings were a little less hectic for Dyson Racing last week as the team returned to the race track and continued its testing program with its new AER-powered Lola B06/10s. A two-day session at Road Atlanta was the first track time for the cars since finishing second and third in LMP1 at the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

“It went well,” said a satisfied Chris Dyson. “Every lap we turn in the car, we learn something new.”

Dyson and James Weaver combined to log more than 300 laps before all was said and done, with a great majority of times in the 1:13 area. The crew was especially interested in testing different sets of dampers on both the front and rear of the car, in addition to gains made with the car’s cooling system. It helps that the team isn’t scrambling to get the car put together, shaken down and ready to race in a month’s time, as was the case leading up to Sebring. Instead, there still is a month to go before the inaugural Lone Star Grand Prix on the streets of Houston.

“We’re still finding what things the car likes and what it reacts to,” Weaver said. “We’re still learning as much as we can, whenever we can. There are sometimes when you really want to go flat out testing. Other times you want to take your time and really think about what you’re doing. That’s the luxury we have now. We’ll go back to the shop and come up with our plans for Houston.”

The next round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series is the Lone Star Grand Prix, scheduled for 8 p.m. CDT on May 12 in Houston. It will be broadcast at 1 p.m. May 13 on CBS Sports, the first of five straight Series events on network television. Qualifying is set for 6:15 p.m. CDT on May 11. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage at www.americanlemans.com, which also will have IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.

Crash may have cost Tracy a sponsor Crash may have cost Tracy a sponsor"It's not a good way to start the season," said Paul Tracy when he returned to the pits after being punted out of the race from behind by his teammate Mario Dominguez in the very first corner of Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

"It's disappointing because we had some potential sponsors for my car here. I felt we had a good car.

"It's tough when you get behind in the points for the championship right off the get-go." (Photo by LAT for Champ Car)

"I've been on the other end," Tracy said, "the giving end and the receiving end. I'll talk to Mario. I'm sure he didn't do it intentionally. It looked like he couldn't get stopped and he got into the back of my car.

"It was one of those things and we hope it doesn't happen again."

"I don't know what happened," said Dominguez after the race. "Everyone braked and I braked and it seemed like everyone hit. I touched someone (besides Tracy) to my right. I was amazed my car was okay.

"I'm sorry I hit Paul. It's not something you want to do, especially with a teammate."

Bourdais still has his eye on F1 Bourdais still has his eye on F1Champ Car star Sebastien Bourdais is still holding out hope of a move to Formula One, although he admits time is running out.  The Frenchman has been ignored by Formula One despite winning the Formula 3000 championship before his move to Champ Car.  After opening his bid for a third consecutive Champ Car title with an easy win at Long Beach, Bourdais again reiterated his desire to have a shot at F1.

He said: "I kind of hope at some point somebody is going to say, 'this kid deserves a chance'.

"It's going to have to happen pretty damn soon. I'm 27 and getting older. The window is getting very narrow for me and I know it.

"If it doesn't happen, fair enough. I'm going to have a great career in Champ Cars."

Da Matta and Heylen deliver for Coyne Da Matta and Heylen deliver for CoyneLong Beach, California - Sunday was a very good day for Dale Coyne Racing as the Champion driver lineup of Cristiano da Matta and Jan Heylen delivered a 5th and 7th place finish in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

In what is arguably the best driver lineup in the history of Dale Coyne Racing, the driver choices for the 2006 season proved out today in the streets of Long Beach. 

Cristiano da Matta driving the Sonny’s Bar-B-Q number 19 showed his former championship form by steadily moving up from his 10th place qualifying position to finish 5th here in Long Beach.  “Everything went really good for our first race together,” commented the talented Brazilian.  “We have only been together for two weeks as a team, but everyone worked great together to give us this strong start to the season, I am very happy.”

Da Matta had several strong practice sessions during the weekend and was headed to a good qualifying position on Saturday before an unfortunate timed red flag negated his fast lap where he had the potential to qualify 7th.  Cristiano showed his experience by starting 10th in the race today and running consistent laps all day, which rewarded him with his 5th in the race and the season points after the first race. zzzz

The other half of this solid start was former Megane Champion Jan Heylen.  Heylen driving the #11 Sonny’s Car, had the race of his life.  “I am over the moon with how much I enjoy this,” cried the 25 year old Belgian.  “This is more fun than I ever dreamed and to be competitive and leading the rookie points in our first race is unreal.”

Heylen started 14th in today’s 74 lap race but fell back in the early stages when a front wing needed to be replaced due to some debris from the first turn incident.  Working an out of sequence strategy, the team got him to the front where he earned the right to be there.  Heylen was the only other driver to lead the race, beside eventual winner Sebastien Bourdais.  “I never dreamed I would be leading a race in my first go, but the strategy was good which gave us not only a top ten but a seventh place finish,” said Heylen.  Jan led 4 laps and received an extra valuable point for leading the race.  Heylen now leads the strong field of six rookies by three points in the highly contested Rookie of the Year race.

“This was a great effort by Cristiano, Jan and all the guys on the team,” reported team owner Dale Coyne.  “The guys on the team worked tirelessly this weekend and it showed giving us great cars and our strongest season start to date.”  The team now moves to Portland International Raceway where they will complete a two-day test with both drivers later next week. DCR

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Montoya upbeat about coming races
'Tension' in Red Bull camp
Spain to sizzle this week
BMW era is paying off - Theissen
Button 'nice', says Ralf
Indy 500 winner tries F1 Ferrari
Button critical of 'dangerous' Ide
Schu not bothered by criticism
Industry News
Crashing a Ferrari Enzo is not a good thing Crashing a Ferrari Enzo is not a good thingUPDATE #3 Swedish video game mogul was arrested on suspicion of automobile theft after he destroyed a million-dollar Ferrari in a high-speed crash in February, police said Sunday.

Stefan Eriksson, 44, was arrested in his swank Bel Air home Saturday, said Don Manumaleuna of the local sheriff's department.

He was held without bail under suspicion of grand theft auto, a charge that inspired a video game of the same name.

On February 21 Eriksson's rare Ferrari Enzo, only 399 of which were ever made, was split in half and reduced to scrap in a mysterious high-speed crash in Los Angeles.

Police estimated the vehicle was moving 230 kilometers (143 miles) per hour at the time of the crash.

Eriksson, who was slightly injured, claimed at the time that he had been a passenger in the car and that the driver had fled, but officers said later that Eriksson may have been at the wheel.

Eriksson is suspected of illegally importing the red Ferrari along with a black version of the same model and a 400,000-dollar Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren sports car that were reportedly leased by his former employer, video game player maker Gizmondo Europe. Financial institutions claim ownership.

On March 28 police in Beverly Hills seized the British-registered Mercedes-Benz from Eriksson's wife, Nicole Persson, 33, after questions arose over its ownership.

The companies that leased the vehicles to Gizmondo are claiming ownership.

02/23/06 As this story outlines, the owner of the Ferrari Enzo has far more issues to worry about than just his totaled exotic car.  The publicity from the crash has exposed what a loser this guy really is. 02/21/06 A RARE $US1 million ($A1.36 million) Ferrari sports car belonging to a Swedish game industry mogul slammed into a pole during a high-speed street race today, reducing it to scrap metal, US police said.

Police in the plush Los Angeles district of Malibu said the 2003 Ferrari Enzo, only 399 of which were made, was owned by Stefan Eriksson, 44, a controversial former executive of the failed handheld gaming company Gizmondo. The driver lost control of the Ferrari about dawn when it careened up an embankment, probably became airborne and then slammed into a pole, slicing the vehicle in half, police said.

Mr. Eriksson, who was slightly injured in the crash, told police he was a passenger in the vehicle and that the driver was a German man called Dietrich who had fled the scene, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Sergeant Philip Brooks said.

"Whoever was driving the Ferrari and a Mercedes came out to Malibu for a little race," Sheriff's Department Sergeant Philip Brooks said.

"The other car racing was a ($677,500) SLR Mercedes," he said. Mr. Eriksson had a blood-alcohol level of 0.09, which is above the legal limit, Sgt Brooks said. Nobody had been arrested in connection with the crash, but officers were still seeking to identify the driver of the car, he said.

"He's still considered as the passenger," Sgt Brooks said of Mr. Eriksson. "We're continuing our investigation. He's not in custody." zzzz

The red Ferrari Enzo, other examples of which are owned by such high-flyers as Oscar-winning movie star Nicolas Cage and US fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, was speeding at more than 192km/h when the crash occurred, Sgt Brooks said.

The impact sheared the red Italian sports car in two, separating the entire front section from the rest of the vehicle. news.com.au 

02/21/06 A Ferrari Enzo is a very expensive race car that just happens to be sold as a passenger car. When you pay as much as $1/2 million to buy one, it's not a good thing when you completely destroy it, but as these photos show, it appears one customer had a very expensive day. Ouch.

As fast as it was going, there wasn't much left of an expensive car that hit a power pole Tuesday morning in Malibu, California.

The driver of a red Ferrari Enzo lost control of the exotic car at extremely high speed, and the vehicle disintegrated after hitting the pole. The driver was able to flee, and police are still looking for him. His passenger suffered a cut lip.
As for the car -- which was worth as much as a 1/2 million dollars -- the engine ended up in the highway, and the rest of it was several hundred yards away. Pacific Coast Highway was shut down for more than two hours.

Toronto ticket sales up Toronto ticket sales upWe ran into the new President of the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto, Charlie Johnstone, in Long Beach who said "Both our Ticket sales and our Suite sales are ahead of last year for the upcoming Champ Car weekend.
Kanaan to be featured Kanaan to be featuredUPDATE Reminder - this show will air Monday night.

04/06/06 Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan will appear in an episode of The Apprentice, which will air as the second of back-to-back episodes on Monday, April 10, at 10 p.m. (EDT) on NBC.

Kanaan, who won the 2004 Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series championship for Andretti Green Racing, was called upon by Donald Trump to participate with 7-Eleven in the show, which pits two corporations made up of candidates against each other in a series of various business oriented tasks. The last candidate standing wins the title of The Apprentice and is given a high-level job within The Trump Organization, with a starting salary exceeding six- figures.

Kanaan, a native Brazilian who now resides in Key Biscayne, Fla., plays a direct role in the completion of the task assigned by Trump to the two corporations on Monday's episode. zzzz

"The Apprentice" was the #1 new show of the television season for adults 18-49 in its first season (Jan. 8 - Apr. 15, 2004) with an average viewership of 20.7 million people each week. The show is produced by Mark Burnett Productions in conjunction with Trump Productions LLC. Executive Producers of the show are Mark Burnett, Donald Trump and Jay Bienstock. Co- Executive Producers are Conrad Riggs and Kevin Harris.

Andretti Green Racing fields a league-high four full-time entries in the IndyCar Series, all of which are powered by Honda engines. Founded in December 2002, Andretti Green (AGR) is based in Indianapolis, Ind., and is owned and operated by partners Michael Andretti, Kim Green and Kevin Savoree. - AGR -

Fellows makes last lap pass to win in Long Beach Fellows makes last lap pass to win in Long Beach
Champ Car President speaks Champ Car President speaksChamp Car president Steve Johnson, speaking to the media after Sunday's Toyota GP of Long Beach said, "We are looking at different strategies to have our season end in the USA, that is important to us. You could see us adjust our schedule or add new venues to accomplish that. We will still do ovals if they make business sense. We are not going to race on big ovals with only 20K people because it makes us look bad. We had that at Vegas. We are not NASCAR. They do ovals well. An 18 race schedule would be ideal for us because of the international exposure. It involves a lot of travel. We are going to get to a point where we say we have too many races and we can choose where we want to be."

As for Japan he said, "We are talking to Otaru and we are also talking to a group in Yokohama, Japan. We are also looking at China and Brazil. Let's just say our venue development group was very busy this weekend." 

On the topic of new sponsors, "We had a lot of potential sponsors here this weekend. They are now coming to see what Champ Car is all about. We need a major title sponsor who gets behind the series and we are working on that." Mark C.

Long Beach attendance Long Beach attendanceUPDATE Long Beach GP President Jim Michaelian told AutoRacing1.com that Sunday attendance was close to 80,000 and the three day total was up from last year's 175,000 to close to 200,000 for 2006.  Next year the race will be pushed back a week to avoid the Masters Golf Tournament, which will help TV ratings. Mark C.

04/09/06 Attendance for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was up significantly over recent years and we were told it was the largest crowd in the past six years. Not only was the Sunday crowd big, the Saturday crowd was noticeably larger, in part due to the drifting competition that the fans went wild over, and the Grand-Am race. Attendance totals have not been released yet but estimates put the 3-day total over 175,000.

Dominguez tops Sunday AM warm-up Dominguez tops Sunday AM warm-up
Pos Driver Team Time
 1. Mario Dominguez Forsythe 1:08.790
 2. Sebastien Bourdais Newman/Haas 1:08.916 + 0.126
 3. Paul Tracy Forsythe 1:09.113 + 0.323
 4. Bruno Junqueira Newman/Haas 1:09.273 + 0.483
 5. A.J. Allmendinger RuSPORT 1:09.355 + 0.565
 6. Nelson Philippe CTE - HVM 1:09.361 + 0.571
 7. Alex Tagliani Team Australia 1:09.404 + 0.614
 8. Jimmy Vasser PKV 1:09.537 + 0.747
 9. Justin Wilson RuSPORT 1:09.540 + 0.750
10. Dan Clarke CTE - HVM 1:09.840 + 1.050
11. Oriol Servia PKV 1:09.842 + 1.052
12. Will Power Team Australia 1:09.907 + 1.117
13. Jan Heylen Dale Coyne 1:09.958 + 1.168
14. Cristiano da Matta Dale Coyne 1:10.068 + 1.278
15. Antonio Pizzonia Rocketsports 1:10.144 + 1.354
16. Andrew Ranger Mi-Jack Conquest 1:10.810 + 2.020
17. Katherine Legge PKV 1:10.909 + 2.119
18. Charles Zwolsman Mi-Jack Conquest 1:10.997 + 2.207
Wirth holds off Matos to win Atlantics opener Wirth holds off Matos to win Atlantics opener
New bumper for Talladega New bumper for TalladegaTeams will have a new bumper configuration for the Talladega race later this month that is intended to reduce the amount of bump drafting. Drivers complained about bump drafting at Daytona. Bump drafting is where the trailing car rams the rear end of the leading car to help them push forward. It's an accepted practice in the straightaways, but when done in the corners it can lead to an accident. While the new rule reduces the strength of the bumpers, opinion is mixed if the rule change will make a difference. The new rule forces teams to remove steel plates underneath the bumper. NASCAR wanted to maintain the bumper strength for safety but not make it so strong that drivers used it to constantly bump draft. Roanoke Times
Schneider wins DTM race for Mercedes Schneider wins DTM race for Mercedes
1. Bernd Schneider Vodafone AMG Mercedes C-Klasse 59mins 51.850secs 37 laps
2. Tom Kristensen Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi A4 DTM +4.286s
3. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi A4 DTM +6.279s
4. Mika Hakkinen AMG-Mercedes Mercedes C-Klasse +7.067s
5. Alex Margaritis Truck Store AMG-Mercedes Mercedes C-Klasse +11.276s
6. Jean Alesi Stern AMG-Mercedes Mercedes C-Klasse +17.399s
7. Martin Tomczyk Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi A4 DTM +19.397s
8. Timo Scheider Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi A4 DTM +23.482s
9. Bruno Spengler Daimler-Chrysler-Bank AMG Mercedes C-Klasse +40.626s
10. Susie Stoddart Mucke Mercedes C-Klasse +44.918s
11. Mathias Lauda AMG-Mercedes Mercedes C-Klasse +53.284s
12. Frank Stippler Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi A4 DTM +1min 02.638s
13. Olivier Tielemans Futurecom TME Audi A4 DTM 1min 30.373s
14. Daniel la Rosa TrekStor Mucke Mercedes C-Klasse +1 lap
15. Vanina Ickx Futurecom TME Audi A4 DTM +1 lap
DNF. Mattias Ekström Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi A4 DTM 24 laps completed
DNF. Stefan Mücke TV-Spielfilm Mucke Mercedes C-Klasse 22 laps completed
14. Pierre Kaffer Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi A4 DTM 13 laps completed
DNF. Christian Abt Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi A4 DTM 11 laps completed
DNF. Jamie Green Salzgitter AMG Mercedes C-Klasse 1 lap completed
Wins for Thompson and Plato Wins for Thompson and PlatoSEAT team-mates James Thompson (Harrogate) and Jason Plato (Oxford) shared the race victories in today's opening three rounds of the 2006 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. But the day ended in disaster for reigning Champion Matt Neal (Droitwich) who crashed out of the final race - his first retirement in more than a season of racing and he is back in fifth in the current championship standings.

Instead, it is Thompson - only contesting a part-season for the SEAT Sport UK team - who leaves the Kent circuit as the championship leader. Second and third are the BTCC's two rising British stars, Team RAC's Colin Turkington (Portadown) and Vauxhall's Tom Chilton (Reigate), with Plato in fourth.

The day was a resounding success for SEAT, whose new Leon model, with victory in all three opening rounds of the new season, has shown it will be a major challenger for championship honours in 2006: the Spanish marque also leads both the Manufacturers' and Teams' championships. Meanwhile, Turkington and Team RAC are the leaders of the Independents Trophy's Drivers' and Teams' standings. zzzz

The BTCC now heads to the Mondello Park circuit in Ireland for its next three rounds on Sunday 23 April. As at Brands Hatch, the event will receive live terrestrial television coverage on ITV1.

Round 1, 27 laps (32.94 miles)
Weather/Track: Overcast/Dry

Thompson wins round one
James Thompson, making his return to the BTCC, gave SEAT's new Leon a dream UK race debut when he drove it to victory. Thompson, the 2002 and 2004 BTCC Champion, was one of six drivers fighting for the lead in the early stages and gradually worked his way through to overtake Tom Chilton's Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch for the lead in the closing stages.

Chilton, who had started from pole position and also set a new race lap record, held on to second under pressure from reigning Champion Matt Neal's Team Halfords Honda Integra and Colin Turkington's Team RAC MG ZS. Neal had worked his way through from 15th on the grid after a crash in qualifying and only just managed to force his way past Turkington with a lap to go.

On its BTCC debut, the Team Eurotech Racing with John Guest team celebrated a fifth place finish with driver Mike Jordan (Sutton Coldfield) in its Honda Integra. Vauxhall's Gavin Smith, having relinquished the position to Jordan late on, was sixth.

But there were problems for two of the favourites: SEAT's Jason Plato and Vauxhall's Fabrizio Giovanardi both retired with crash damage to their cars.

1. James THOMPSON (GBR), SEAT Sport UK/SEAT Leon, 23m49.571s
2. Tom CHILTON (GBR), VX Racing/Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch +1.320s
3. Matt NEAL (GBR), Team Halfords/Honda Integra +2.020s
Fastest Lap: Chilton, 49.190s (NEW LAP RECORD)

Round 2, 24 laps (29.28 miles)
Weather/Track: Overcast/Dry

Thompson Doubles Up
Thompson, despite the fact his car was now carrying maximum success ballast, led all the way from pole position to secure his second victory of the day, while Turkington was able to hold off Neal to finish in second in his 100th BTCC race.

Vauxhall's Gavin Smith drove defensively to finish fourth. He was eventually left clear after three drivers behind him - Jordan, Plato and Team Halfords' Gordon Shedden (Dunfermline) - were involved in a multiple collision. Jordan and Shedden retired from the race, but Plato continued, re-passing Team RAC's Robert Collard to finish fifth. Plato also set the race's fastest lap time as he opened his 2006 points tally. Collard finished sixth.

The race proved tough for Chilton, who started from pole position second but slipped back to seventh. However, this was to prove lucky for the 21-year-old. Under new rules, the starting grid order for race three is the result of race two, but with the leading positions reversed. The number to be swapped is picked in a draw by the race two winner - in this case Thompson - who drew number seven. Thus Chilton would start race three from pole position.

1. James THOMPSON (GBR), SEAT Sport UK/SEAT Leon, 20m04.481s
2. Colin TURKINGTON (GBR), Team RAC/MG ZS +0.543s
3. Matt NEAL (GBR), Team Halfords/Honda Integra +1.039s
Fastest lap: Jason Plato (GBR), SEAT Sport UK/SEAT Leon, 49.289s

Round 3, 20 laps (24.40 miles)
Weather/Track: Overcast/Dry

Plato wins shortened third race, Neal crashes out
From third on the grid, Plato overtook Collard away from the start and further round the opening lap also nipped past Chilton to take the lead. From there, the 2001 BTCC Champion drew clear for a comfortable victory.

However, officials ended the race four laps early after Neal's Honda got involved in a brush with Collard's MG and crashed heavily into the barriers as the two drivers fought over second position.

Collard was provisionally classified second but later excluded by officials for his part in the incident with Neal. Collard will be further penalised by a six-place relegation on the first starting grid at Mondello Park. However, Team RAC has appealed the exclusion so it remains subject to a Motor Sports Association tribunal.

Provisionally, then, Turkington has been promoted to second and Chilton to third, with Shedden, who set the race's fastest lap time, fourth following an impressive drive through the field. Thompson and Giovanardi were next up.

1. Jason Plato (GBR), SEAT Sport UK/SEAT Cupra, 16m43.263s
2. Colin TURKINGTON (GBR), Team RAC/MG ZS +4.012s
3. Tom CHILTON (GBR), VX Racing/Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch +5.880s
Fastest lap: Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR), Team Halfords/Honda Integra, 49.281s

Leading BTCC points after Brands Hatch (provisional):

1. James THOMPSON 38pts
2. Colin TURKINGTON 32pts
3. Tom CHILTON 30pts
4. Jason PLATO 23pts
5. Matt NEAL 20pts
6. Gavin SMITH 17pts
=7. Gordon SHEDDEN 9pts
=7. Rob COLLARD 9pts
9. Fabrizio GIOVANARDI 8pts
10. Mike JORDAN 7pts

1. SEAT 67pts
2. Vauxhall 50pts

1. SEAT Sport UK 57pts
2. VX Racing 44pts
3. Team RAC 41pts
4. Team Halfords 28pts

Racing News
Lasek wins Pro/Celebrity race Lasek wins Pro/Celebrity raceThere was wall-to-wall action at Long Beach Saturday....literally.  In a Pro/Celebrity race that had almost wall-to-wall, NASCAR-like bumper car racing, especially at the tight hairpin Turn 11, extreme sports star Bucky Lasek captured the event when organizers cut short the scheduled 10-lap race because of a crash in Turn 1.

Lasek, who dominated the race running from the pole position, was the leader for all six laps run under the green flag, and the final three done under yellow before organizers called the race.

Lasek, a skateboarding champion, celebrated by taking his Toyota Scion spinning down the main straightaway. Former National Football League quarterback John Elway and pro tennis superstar Martina Navratilova finished second and third, respectively.  Todd Bodine won the professional category.

NASCAR catches yet another cheater NASCAR catches yet another cheaterSitting side by side, for anyone in the garage interested in looking, an intake manifold submitted by Dodge and approved by NASCAR and an illegal manifold taken from the #74 MyGuardian911.com Dodge of McGlynn Racing and driven by Derrike Cope. Raynard McGlynn of Wilkes Barrie, PA owns McGlynn Racing. John Darby, NEXTEL Cup Series Director of Competition, jokingly commented the infraction, exterior illegal modifications, was "too cool" to warrant a penalty. On the serious side, Darby commented it wasn't "Tuesday" the day NASCAR typically issues penalties for infractions from the previous weekend. Specifically, the illegal manifold violated rule 20-5.9G, which states external modifications are not permitted unless specifically approved by the Series Director. Darby did clearly not approve the modifications to the confiscated manifold. Tom Durse, crew chief on the #74, hopes NASCAR is lenient with what he describes as a "young team," despite his admittance, "Once we bolt a part onto the car and present it to NASCAR we own it and we're responsible for it." Should a penalty be issued Durse is also hoping NASCAR concentrates on points versus money. "Right now the points are not nearly as important to us as the money. We're a struggling operation that has is running the full season for the first time after two years of running a limited schedule." CircleTrackPlus
Chrnelich out, Clagett in Chrnelich out, Clagett inJohn Clagett has been appointed to the newly created position of vice president of venue development for Champ Car.  He was Trans-Am president but with Trans-Am being eliminated, Clagett was brought over to Champ Car. Champ Car eliminated the executive vice president of development, governmental affairs and planning position which was held by Joe Chrnelich.

With all these SCCA folks now at Champ Car (Steve Johnson, Garrett Mudd and now John Clagett) one has to wonder if the SCCA could be part of a merger of Champ Car and the IRL someday?  It would be a way to pull the entire business of open wheel racing under one umbrella to ensure its future without outside influence from the stock car crowd.

Ammermueller wins first GP2 race Ammermueller wins first GP2 raceRed Bull backed rookie Michael Ammermueller took his maiden GP2 victory in the sprint race at Valencia almost 10 seconds clear of the field. He made a great start from second on the grid and extended his advantage over Ernesto Viso on every lap.

Pos Driver Team Time
 1. Ammermueller Arden International 38:44.066
 2. Viso iSport International + 9.756
 3. Lapierre Arden International + 10.213
 4. Piquet Jr. Piquet Sports + 10.975
 5. Bruni Trident Racing + 16.537
 6. Hamilton ART Grand Prix + 18.510
 7. Negrao Piquet Sports + 32.746
 8. Glock BCN Competicion + 37.391
 9. Villa Racing Engineering + 44.084
10. Fauzy Super Nova International + 55.125
11. Gommendy iSport International + 60.402
12. Yoshimoto BCN Competicion + 63.704
13. Zuber Trident Racing + 66.274
14. Perera DAMS + 69.772
15. Pla DPR + 81.534
16. Di Grassi Durango + 1 Lap (DNF)


 Driver Team Laps
 Piccione DPR 24
 Valles Campos Racing 23
 Carroll Racing Engineering 22
 Lopez Super Nova International 22
 Monfardini DAMS 5
 Premat ART Grand Prix 3
 Filippi FMS International 0
 Porteiro Campos Racing 0
 Tahinci FMS International 0
 Hernandez Durango 0

Fastest lap: Zuber, 1:21.244 on lap 3

NASCAR cheater caught in the act NASCAR cheater caught in the actReed Sorenson faces a possible points penalty for intentionally bringing out a caution in the O'Reilly 300 Busch Series race Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.  NASCAR threw the caution for a piece of roll bar padding from Sorenson's car that was on the track and sent Sorenson to the end of the longest line at the time, a penalty of about five positions. "There was a penalty given on the race track," Busch Series Director Joe Balash said after the race. "Now with everything like that, we will go back to the office early next week and take a good look at it."

Balash said he has a pretty good idea of what happened and when asked if it was intentional, he said, "You'd have to watch the replay."

The replay shows a piece of foam coming from the driver's side window out on to the track. Sorenson said after the race he wasn't sure how the foam got out of his car.

"I guess it just melted off, I don't know," Sorenson said. 

Tagliani happy where he is Tagliani happy where he isAlex Tagliani compares his accident with Alex Zanardi in 2001 to Paul Dana's recent fatal accident and says open wheel race cars do not belong on high speed ovals. 

"My incident, it was way above 200 miles an hour when I hit. Alex was coming from the pit lane, so it was not a car on the track that I could see in front of me.

"Where I hit him was the weak part of the car, the tub. I think what happened with the IRL (accident) was he hit the engine and the speed was a little slower, so there was not as much a split in the car, so most of the impact was on Paul Dana's car.

"Obviously, it's pretty dangerous on the ovals," Tagliani said. "But what can you do? It's racing.

"What I'm doing in Champ Car is basically a lot safer ... We have one oval in the season and it's a short one. The rest of the time it's street courses - basically the direction Champ Car is going and the future of racing for open wheel, I think.

"If you look at all the ovals, they're trying to change them for NASCAR. They are trying to put more banking, to increase the speed, but NASCAR is a sedan car, not a car that can go over 200 miles an hour on a flat surface. They need banking to create the speed and when you put a car like ours on a track like that, it becomes almost ridiculous. I'm glad to be where I am."  More at Edmonton Sun

[Editor's Note: This is the fundamental difference between Champ Car and the IRL.  The IRL believes high-speed "pack racing" like NASCAR should be part of an open wheel race schedule despite the long list of injuries and deaths it has produced over the years.  It may be exciting to watch but there becomes a point where it's irresponsible to expect a driver to risk so much for such little reward.]

Loeb wins second straight Loeb wins second straightSebastien Loeb has won the Rallye de France-Tour de Corse for the second year in a row.  The Frenchman ended the event around 30 seconds up on Ford's Marcus Gronholm..  Daniel Sordo took the final podium place, to give Kronos and Citroen a 1-3 finish.

Top 20 results:

Pos Driver Make Time
 1. Loeb Citroen 3h 43:05.4
 2. Gronholm Ford + 29.0
 3. Sordo Citroen + 1:48.7
 4. Hirvonen Ford + 1:59.2
 5. Bengue Peugeot + 2:47.7
 6. Pons Citroen + 3:10.2
 7. Stohl Peugeot + 5:01.3
 8. Sarrazin Subaru + 5:21.9
 9. Galli Peugeot + 5:42.5
10. Kopecky Skoda + 6:11.4
11. Solberg Subaru + 6:40.5
12. Rovanpera Skoda + 13:12.3
13. Atkinson Subaru + 14:57.1
14. Tirabassi Citroen + 26:15.8
15. Aava Suzuki + 26:24.0
16. Aigner Skoda + 26:41.9
17. Wilson Ford + 27:04.2
18. Rautenbach Renault + 29:09.2
19. Pressac Citroen + 29:12.2
20. Beres Suzuki + 32:33.3

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