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Theys, Lienhard to Compete in LMES Theys, Lienhard to Compete in LMESAs drivers, teams and cars head to Spa-Francorchamps for this weekend's Le Mans Endurance Series (LMES) event, drivers Didier Theys and Fredy Lienhard Sr. are announcing plans to join them at similar events later this year and beyond.

Their long-time sponsor, Lista, the worldwide leader in modular storage units, will be the primary sponsor of a brand-new Lola B05/40 Judd V8 they will drive in the LMES' LMP2 class beginning in July. The car will be entered by Markus Hotz's Horag Racing, a team both drivers have been associated with in the past which is located in Sulgen, Switzerland, just a few kilometers away from Lista's corporate headquarters in Erlen. The entry will be the Horag-Lista Racing Lista Lola Judd No. 27.

After the new bright-red Lista Lola Judd is completed and its shake-down test conducted, it is expected to be entered in the LMES races in Monza, Italy July 9-10; Silverstone, England Aug. 12-13; Nurburgring, Germany Sept. 3-4; the Petit Le Mans American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga. in the United States Sept. 30-Oct. 1; and at Istanbul, Turkey Nov. 12-13. All are 1,000-kilometer events that take about six hours to complete.

The Horag-Lista team plans to do the complete LMES schedule in 2006 and 2007, and hopes to earn enough points each year to be invited to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Two ALMS races in the United States are also on its 2006 and 2007 schedules: the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Petit Le Mans.

Americans are most familiar with both Theys and Lienhard behind the wheel of the famous Doran-Lista Dallara Judd and the Doran-Lista DORAN JE4 Lexus. Under the direction of Kevin Doran and with Theys and Lienhard as part of the driver roster, the former car was the overall winner of the 2002 Rolex 24 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

Long Beach petition Long Beach petitionChamp Car fans have started an online petition to Jim Michaelian of the Long Beach Grand Prix Association to keep Champ Car in Long Beach.
Denver GP News Denver GP NewsIt was announced today that the Grand Prix of Denver has joined into a partnership with Denver based Red Robot, Inc. This partnership will enable Red Robot to work closely with the Grand Prix to ensure that a variety of unique and quality entertainment will be available to Grand Prix attendees. As part of the agreement, Red Robot will bring numerous celebrities from the film, television, sports, and music industries to the event.

The Grand Prix, which will take place August 12 -14, already features a wide variety of activities, and the addition of the partnership with Red Robot will add an entirely new dimension."

The CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver Presented by PacifiCare announced today that the Bridgestone brand increased its sponsorship support for this year’s Urban Festival events as part of race-week activities. The tire company has signed on as the presenting sponsor of the Rocky Mountain Concours and Champ Car Street Party that will be held during the afternoon and evening of Thursday, August 11 at Larimer Square.  Both festival events are free to the public.

“This year’s Grand Prix of Denver is really a celebration of the automobile and Denver. The Rocky Mountain Concours offers an historical appreciation for vintage cars, and the Champ Car Street Party highlights one of Denver’s best in musical talent. Thanks to Bridgestone, this year’s Urban Festival offers more entertainment for all ages,” said Jim Freudenberg, Grand Prix of Denver’s general manager."

Crash ends Hornish's day early Crash ends Hornish's day earlySam Hornish, like a fish out of water on road courses, lost control of his Marlboro Team Penske car today at Infineon Raceway, hit the wall, damaged his car, which sent him packing early. 

"We were trying to make adjustments to improving the handling of the car on the low speed turns, and I ended up getting loose in the faster turns. The backend came around on me, and I spun into the wall, ending our day. Obviously, I'm disappointed that we didn't get in a full day of testing, but we were able to make some adjustments to the Marlboro Team Penske car this morning and found a little more speed. We were definitely headed in the right direction. Now we just have to keep focused on what we need to do when we come back in August."

Franchitti fastest on final day Franchitti fastest on final dayAndretti Green Racing driver Dario Franchitti saved his best lap for last on Wednesday as he led the final day of IRL IndyCar® Series testing at Infineon Raceway.   Franchitti recorded a time of 1 minute, 16.1015 seconds (108.797 mph), in the No. 27 ArcaEx Honda-powered Dallara on his final lap on the 12-turn, 2.26 mile road course.

“We basically equaled our best lap in the afternoon with our last lap of the day,” Franchitti said. “More importantly for us, we learned a lot. We had a long time this afternoon where we were not able to run because we had to fix some problems, but we still were able to get through a lot of stuff, which will hopefully put us in a good position for August.”

Franchitti and the rest of the IRL will return to the Sonoma Valley, Aug. 26-28, for the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix, which will span 80 laps over the serpentine circuit. This will mark the first-ever event on a permanent road course in the 10-year history of the series.

Franchitti was the only driver with prior experience on the Infineon Raceway road course, having run approximately 70 laps in a compatibility test in November.  “We all got a lot of good information today,” he said. “It’s always good to be at the top of the timesheet, but it’s more important to get to work on your individual (testing) programs and get good results for the team.”

Helio Castroneves, who recorded the quickest lap on the opening day of the two-day test, was second fastest with a lap of 1:16.4497 (104.610 mph) in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. Scott Dixon recorded the third-quickest lap, 1:16.4688 (108.279 mph) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone.  “We learned a lot today. I'm very happy with the way the Marlboro Team Penske car handled, and I think we have a solid baseline for when we come back in August,” Castroneves said. “I think we'll put on a great show for the fans.”

In all, 17 car-driver combinations recorded 1,000 laps, with Alex Barron replacing Patrick Carpentier in the Red Bull Cheever Racing entry. The two-day test attracted more than 1,700 fans, who watched from the grandstand and also participated in question-and-answer sessions with IRL drivers in the Winner’s Circle.


Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed

1. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 108.797
2. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Toyota, 108.307
3. (9) Scott Dixon, Panoz-Toyota, 108.279
4. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 108.276
5. (26) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 108.026
6. (7) Bryan Herta, Dallara-Honda, 107.987
7. (33) Ryan Briscoe, Panoz-Toyota, 107.637
8. (17) Vitor Meira, Panoz-Honda, 107.370
9. (15) Buddy Rice, Panoz-Honda, 107.292
10. (8) Scott Sharp, Panoz-Honda, 107.280
11. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Panoz-Honda, 107.267
12. (51) Alex Barron, Dallara-Toyota, 107.192
13. (10) Darren Manning, Panoz-Toyota, 106.664
14. (6) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Toyota, 106.440
15. (16) Danica Patrick, Panoz-Honda, 105.525
16. (24) Roger Yasukawa, Dallara-Honda, 104.014
17. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Toyota, 103.965

Two renew Champ Car race sponsorship Two renew Champ Car race sponsorshipThe high-speed world of open wheel racing meets the leading edge technology of Time Warner Cable and its Road Runner High Speed Online service at The Milwaukee Mile on Saturday June 4, it was announced today.

The world-class drivers competing in the Champ Car World Series make their return to America’s Legendary Oval for the first time in a Saturday afternoon race, entitled the “Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 presented by U.S. Bank.”

U.S. Bancorp, the 6th largest financial services holding company in the United States  returns in the presenter’s role of the traditional Champ Car World Series auto race, and remains the “Official Bank of The Milwaukee Mile.”

Series driving champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Cristiano da Matta and 2004 titleholder Sebastien Bourdais will race at speeds approaching 180 miles per hour on the one-mile oval, and lead the field of contenders determined to unseat last year’s race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.  The 24 year-old Texan captured the checkers in 2004 at the historic speedway in record fashion, as he became the youngest American oval race winner in series history when he raced to a flag-to-flag triumph from the pole position.

Long Beach City Council meets Long Beach City Council meetsUPDATE AutoRacing1.com has learned that 50 businesses in Long Beach each sent an individualized letter to each City Council member saying their business was great and to keep Champ Car in Long Beach. In addition, what came up at the meeting last night was that if Dover sells the asset (the race) or sells the GP Association, which owns the race (under Dover) the contract is null and void and the city can then go right to Champ Car. Bottom line - Tony George or another entity can't buy the race out from under Champ Car. This will now come down to who prepares the better proposal to Dover, but clearly the pressure is mounting from within the city to retain Champ Car. Mark C. 04/13/05 The Long Beach City Council held its meeting last night and the topic of the Long Beach GP came up. The negotiations between the GP Association and the two racing groups is a private contractual negotiation. The City of Long Beach, under advice of the City Attorney, cannot interfere with their talks. The April 12, 2005, city council meeting was to express appreciation for the past racing seasons in Long Beach. The full text, closed caption and video are available on-line from the city website. The measure of appreciation passed, 6-2 and starts at approx. the 4 hr.-10 min mark.

Summary: The city council voted in favor of an agenda item (no. 28 ) to show appreciation of the Champ Car series 6 - 2. They were originally going to vote in 'support' of the series but the city attorney objected saying it could be interpreted as interfering with contract negotiations. So 'support' was changed to 'appreciate.' During the proceedings the city attorney was asked to read the section concerning the city's ability to terminate a contract if they so desired - the sale of Dover was given as a possible concern, so if Dover is sold to say, ISC or Tony George, the City can terminate the contract and then enter into negotiations with Champ Car as the promoter.

JMB announces 2nd Ferrari entry JMB announces 2nd Ferrari entryIn their second Grand American Rolex Series season, JMB Racing USA is pleased to announce today that the team will be campaigning a second Ferrari 360 Grand American GT entry at the next round of the championship in the U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on the weekend of April 29-May 1.   The Laguna Seca event marks the first time since the 2003 ALMS season that the team will feature two Ferrari entries and the first time for JMB Racing USA in the Rolex Series.
De la Rosa again quickest De la Rosa again quickestPedro de la Rosa continues to show he belongs in F1 as once again he topped the testing charts.  Wednesday times from Paul Ricard
1. P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes - 1'03"481 (+0"000)
2. G. Fisichella - Renault - 1'03"843 (+0"362)
3. F. Montagny - Renault - 1'03"901 (+0"420)
4. O. Panis - Toyota - 1'03"916 (+0"435)
5. E. Bernoldi - BAR Honda - 1'03"958 (+0"477)
6. R. Zonta - Toyota - 1'04"216 (+0"735)
7. T. Sato - BAR Honda - 1'04"320 (+0"839)
8. A. Wurz - McLaren Mercedes - 1'04"338 (+0"857)
9. A. Pizzonia - BMW Williams - 1'04"942 (+1"461)
10. N. Heidfeld - BMW Williams - 1'06"086 (+2"605)
11. N. Karthikeyan - Jordan Toyota - 1'07"413 (+3"932)
Argent Mortgage Company Named Title Sponsor Argent Mortgage Company Named Title SponsorInfineon Raceway and Argent Mortgage Company have entered into a partnership that will make one of the nation’s leading mortgage lenders the title sponsor of the first world-class open-wheel race in 35 years at the Sonoma Valley facility, officials from both companies announced.   Argent Mortgage will become the title sponsor of the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway, Aug. 26-28. This marks the first-ever event on a permanent road course in the 10-year history of the IRL IndyCar® Series.

“We are proud to be the title sponsor of the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix at the Sonoma facility and to be associated with this historic Indy Racing League event,” said Wayne Lee, president of Argent Mortgage Company. “This partnership is a natural extension of Argent’s 2005 integrated marketing program. Just as the return of open-wheel racing to a permanent road course will give IRL fans a fresh new racing experience, Argent takes an unconforming approach to mortgage lending that helps independent mortgage brokers deliver a superior lending experience for consumers across the nation.”

“Argent Mortgage has been one of the strongest and most active supporters of IndyCar® racing in recent years.  We are excited to launch this new partnership and look forward to working with Argent Mortgage on this historic event for Infineon Raceway,” said Steve Page, president and general manager of Infineon Raceway.

The partnership continues a strong presence for Argent Mortgage with the IRL. The company is the Official Mortgage Company of the IRL IndyCar® Series and the Indianapolis 500 and is also partnering with Rahal Letterman Racing to serve as primary sponsor of the #16 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda driven by Danica Patrick and co-primary sponsor of the #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda driven by 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice.

Skip Barber names Ford Exec Skip Barber names Ford ExecSkip Barber Racing School, LLC, today announced the appointment of George Ayres as President and Chief Operating Officer. Ayres comes to Skip Barber from Ford Motor Company where he most recently led Sales and Marketing for the Ford Special Vehicle Team (SVT). Ayres has also held senior positions at Jaguar Cars both in the U.S. and the U.K. and worked extensively in Ford's Customer Service Division. He will begin his assignment on May 2 at Skip Barber’s Lakeville, Conn., headquarters. After an extensive search, Ayres was selected as the best candidate to help lead the Skip Barber team in further growing its business. He brings strategic and operational skills to the company that will allow Skip Barber to expand its capabilities and range of services, and connect new customers with the Skip Barber brand.   ''We are very fortunate to have George joining the Skip Barber team,'' said Aaron Hollander, currently President and Chief Executive Officer of the company. “His 18-plus years of automotive industry experience will help Skip Barber continue to be the leader in automotive education and entertainment.'' Hollander will continue as Chief Executive Officer focusing on strategic growth initiatives, including acquisitions.
Time Magazine rates Schumacher in Top 100 Time Magazine rates Schumacher in Top 100The April 18, 2005 special issue of TIME magazine is about the lives and ideas of the world's 100 most influential people.  Michael Schumacher is among the list of men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world.  He is listed with the Heroes and Icons group.   

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: Driving the Competition to Tears
by Nick Mason, the drummer for Pink Floyd, who races cars
Michael Schumacher has taken the sport of motor racing to an astonishing new level.  There have been magnificently talented, brave and committed drivers throughout racing history, but none has combined all the talents that Schumacher has.
To become world champion is a major achievement.  Juan Manuel Fangio did it five times in the 1950s; Jackie Stewart three times between '69 and '73.  Schumacher, 36, has done it seven times since 1994, five of those consecutively.  His level of fitness has set a new standard in the sport.  The vision of an exhausted driver being lifted from his car has been replaced by the sight of Schumacher leaping from the cockpit to the winner's podium after a race in which his body has been subjected to excessive G-forces.
Schumacher also has the ability to think quickly.  From my own experience in racing, I know how hard it is to drive at full speed and at the same time plot the position of the other cars on the track.  A well-timed pit stop can allow a driver to rejoin the race while his opposition is held up by slower traffic, letting him leapfrog race positions.  Schumacher is a past master at this maneuvering, as well as at  taking in information from his crew, monitoring any faults in his car and noting changes in track surface conditions.
In fact, he has become so successful that the most exciting racing often takes place somewhere behind the leader.  Still, watching Schumacher compete is a chance to see the most complete driver the world has known give a master class in motor racing - fitter, smarter, faster and, perhaps luckier than anybody else.  If his opponents can't come up with a way to beat him, he may have to do a season with one arm tied behind his back.  [Editor's Note:  This article must have been written before the '05 season began, as his competitors have beaten him easily underscoring the fact that in F1 95% of your success is based on how good a car and tires you have.  Schumacher didn't forget how to drive over the winter, his Bridgestone tires just were no match for the Michelins so far.  However, Bridgestone isn't taking defeat lightly and will make a strong comeback.]

Industry News
Lori Smith joins Williams Company Lori Smith joins Williams CompanyLori A. Smith has joined Williams Company of America, Inc. as an accounts representative. Smith, who brings a strong background in communications and in the grassroots of motorsports, will work with all of the agency’s clients but will be the primary media contact for Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Williams Company’s work with the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. “We’re very excited to have Lori joining us,” said Richard N. (Chip) Williams, president of the agency. “Her experience in all aspects of motorsports, as well as her experience in public relations, publicity, marketing and advertising, brings a lot to Williams Company and a lot to our clients.” Smith has a strong communications background, including years of experience in NASCAR’s Busch and Craftsman Truck Series, Dodge Weekly Series, ARCA RE/MAX Series and Hooters ProCup series. Williams
OC Register: Keep Champ Car in LB OC Register: Keep Champ Car in LBThis Orange County Register article is quite a change from past negative articles on Champ Car, and the author admits it.  But after witnessing last Sunday's excellent event in Long Beach, the author is singing a different tune.  Key excerpts - In the past, I have pointed out every shortcoming of the Champ Car World Series, all of the mistakes the owners have made and why I thought this open-wheel series, which at one time was just as popular as NASCAR, was headed for the junkyard.  A lot of you have strongly voiced your opinions, but I assure you I am not a shill for Tony George's Indy Racing League.   All I have ever been in favor of is seeing good, hard racing. No matter what was on the track.

But after watching Sunday's 31st Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix, I decided it was time to do something different for a change. The Champ Car World Series, co-owned by Kevin Kalkhoven, Paul Gentilozzi and Gerald Forsythe, might be on to something here.  True, Sebastien Bourdais might have had almost a full straightaway advantage over Paul Tracy when the checkered flag flew on Sunday. But the Champ Car World Series turned this 81-lap race into a show-stopping audition, one that just might keep these cars coming back to the picturesque street circuit for some time to come.

This was the last race remaining on the Champ Car World Series' contract with the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach and Dover Motorsports Inc., the owner of the race. And it's no secret the IRL would love to add the race to its schedule. Could the IRL put on a better show? I don't think so.

But Champ Car owners have to stop signing drivers at the 11th hour if they get the contract and Long Beach remains the season opener. It really makes this series look unorganized and on the verge of collapse.  And I don't think either is true, not anymore.

This year's edition of the Long Beach Grand Prix was one of the most exciting and intriguing races to be held on this tight, twisting concrete-lined circuit in some time. There were 11 lead changes, the most since 1998.

As he circled the track on a victory lap standing in the bed of a pickup truck with Bourdais and Tracy, third-place finisher Bruno Junqueira said he couldn't remember feeling more energy coming from the crowd.   Junqueira was right. On Sunday, there was an air of excitement that had been missing the past few years.

Judging by e-mails I have received over the years, there is a loyal bunch of Champ Car followers here in Southern California, and I'm convinced these fans would boycott an IRL race.  I really do believe Champ Cars will be back here again next year.  An estimated 75,000 fans showed up, and there probably were a lot more there than that. And Jim Michaelian, the president of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, has been one of Champ Car racing's biggest supporters even in the darkest times.

However, if Kalkhoven wants to see his series come back here again, he better tone down his tough talk. On Friday, Kalkhoven threatened to run a race in Los Angeles the weekend before the Long Beach Grand Prix if the IRL got the contract.  It was easy to see that didn't sit well with Michaelian.

The next month or so will determine the future of this race.  It will be a tough political and financial battle between the deep pockets in the IRL and Champ Car.  Let the IRL have California Speedway and the Champ Car World Series keep Long Beach.  After putting on a race like Sunday's, the Champ Car World Series deserves another chance.

San Jose approves new race course San Jose approves new race courseThe San Jose City Council voted unanimously to approve a new downtown race course for the first ever San Jose Grand Prix, scheduled to be run at the end of July.  The original course circled HP Pavilion. The new layout will bring race cars into the heart of downtown, looping around the McEnery Convention Center, past the Hotel DeAnza, the Tech Museum of Innovation, and Cesar Chavez Plaza.  The new course will showcase downtown to a television audience, provide more passing areas and accommodate more racing crews. It also avoids interfering with construction on two Highway 87 overpasses.  At the same time, the city will save $650,000 that would have been required to modify HP Pavilion's parking lot, which had been part of the old course.  The new route was officially unveiled by Mayor Ron Gonzales at the end of March, but the race changes still have some downtown interests scrambling -- such as the San Jose Children's Musical Theater. Mercury News
Joe Gibbs announces new Crew Chief Joe Gibbs announces new Crew ChiefJoe Gibbs Racing announced today that it has hired Charles “Cully” Barraclough as Crew Chief of the #20 Rockwell Automation Busch Series entry driven by Denny Hamlin. This change is effective immediately.   “I am really excited to have Cully on board with us,” commented Driver, Denny Hamlin. “You can’t say enough about the amount of experience he brings to this organization. His team won three races last year including the one at Texas. We may have a couple bumps early as we start build the communication and he gets the cars the way he wants them, but once we get on the same page, I think we are going to be really good. We have started out the season decent, but this change will take us to the next level competitively.”

Barraclough comes from Roush Racing where he was Crew Chief of Matt Kennseth’s #17 Roush Racing Busch Series Entry. In 2004, the #17 car started 16 races and scored 3 victories, 8 top-five finishes and 11 top-ten finishes.   “This is a great opportunity for me and I am thrilled to be here,” said Barraclough. “This is a team that has all the components of a championship team: great facilities, engines, leadership and the resources to be competitive. This team is a really good team and I don’t see the need to come in and change a lot of things to make this team more competitive. I am just hoping to tweak a few things that will improve us. Hamlin has proven that he is going to be a future star in this sport and am I looking forward to working with a young, aggressive driver.

“The biggest change for me is going to be the way I call the races,” continued Barraclough. “I am coming from a situation where Matt was only running a handful of Busch Series races and the whole purpose was to win. Not that I don’t want to win now, but you have to balance gambling for a win with points racing."

“It was time to go into a different direction,” followed up J.D. Gibbs, President of Joe Gibbs Racing. “We have had some really good runs this season and are in the top-ten in points; however, we felt this team can still be better. This change will give Denny an experienced leader to lean on.”

Alonso and Bourdais top driver rankings Alonso and Bourdais top driver rankingsThis is the first SPEED Channel Driver Ranking -- developed in partnership with STATS Inc.  Rankings are based on current year results, last 10 races, last five races and last race will be factored in equally, with an adjustment factor to compensate for the series different scoring systems. In addition, a “competition difficulty factor” has been included to balance the competitive depth of each series.
Driver:  Score Series
Fernando Alonso: 11.79 F1
Sebastien Bourdais: 9.04 CHAMP CAR:
Dan Wheldon:  8.57 IRL: 
Jimmie Johnson: 8.39 NASCAR
Bruno Junqueira:  7.78 CHAMP CAR:
Tony Kanaan:  7.47 IRL: 
Mark Martin:  7.40 NASCAR
Jeff Gordon:  7.39 NASCAR
Rusty Wallace:  7.16 NASCAR
Ryan Newman:  7.04 NASCAR
Jarno Trulli: 6.81 F1
Paul Tracy: 6.73 CHAMP CAR:
Elliott Sadler: 6.69 NASCAR
Sterling Marlin:  6.65 NASCAR
Greg Biffle:  6.58 NASCAR
Kasey Kahne:  6.54 NASCAR
Tony Stewart: 6.37 NASCAR
Kurt Busch: 6.26 NASCAR
Dale Jarrett: 6.25 NASCAR
Mario Dominguez:  5.87 CHAMP CAR:
Kimi Raikkonen: 5.81 F1
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 5.79 NASCAR
Jeremy Mayfield:  5.77 NASCAR
Matt Kenseth: 5.71 NASCAR
Justin Wilson:  5.60 CHAMP CAR:
Dario Franchitti: 5.49 IRL: 
Ralf Schumacher:  5.42 F1
Vitor Meira:  5.29 IRL: 
Sam Hornish Jr.:  5.23 IRL: 
Bryan Herta:  4.93 IRL: 
Helio Castroneves:  4.76 IRL: 
A.J. Allmendinger:  4.74 CHAMP CAR:
Scott Dixon:  4.51 IRL: 
Buddy Rice: 4.19 IRL: 
Juan Pablo Montoya: 4.14 F1
Rubens Barrichello: 4.13 F1
Jimmy Vasser: 4.11 CHAMP CAR:
Darren Manning: 4.10 IRL: 
Oriol Servia: 3.63 CHAMP CAR:
Michael Schumacher: 3.41 F1
Ryan Hunter-Reay: 3.01 CHAMP CAR:
Mark Webber:  2.93 F1
Ronnie Bremer:  2.82 CHAMP CAR
Alonso to receive Bandini award Alonso to receive Bandini awardFernando Alonso will receive this year’s Lorenzo Bandini award at the San Marino Grand Prix. The award, made in honor of the Italian ace who died in the 1967 Monaco GP, is given to drivers who, in the opinion of organizers, have shown the most fighting spirit. Previous recipients include Jenson Button, Juan Pablo Montoya and Michael Schumacher. Other awards to be made at the ceremony will go to Jean Alesi, in honor of his career achievements, and Flavio Briatore.
36 entries for Indy 500 36 entries for Indy 500The race for the Borg-Warner Trophy is on, as an interesting mix of three former winners, five IRL IndyCar® Series champions and eight event rookies are included on the entry list for the 89th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29.  Buddy Lazier, Helio Castroneves and defending champion Buddy Rice are the three past Indy winners on the entry list for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." There are 36 entries for the 33-car field, with 33 drivers named to those entries. A total of 69 cars, including backup cars, are listed on the entries.  The 89th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. (EDT, noon local) Sunday, May 29 and will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. On-track activity starts Sunday, May 8 on indystar.com Opening Day. Story plus complete entry list
Earnhardt gets award Earnhardt gets awardThe Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has awarded NASCAR a "Jefferson Muzzle" for what it calls an "out of proportion" punishment to driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. for swearing in a live television interview last October. NASCAR docked Earnhardt 25 points and fined him $10,000 for saying in an NBC interview that his victory at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway "don't mean (expletive) right now" because his late father had won there several more times. NASCAR officials came down hard on Earnhardt in response to increased Federal Communications Commission scrutiny of broadcast indecency last year. The FCC apparently has not yet ruled on whether NBC or its affiliates will be punished; FCC spokeswoman Janice Wise said if no ruling has been posted on the commission's Web site, it should be considered an "open item." While acknowledging that NASCAR is not a government entity and is entitled to punish drivers for using profanity, the Jefferson Center's Web site said "to punish Earnhardt in a manner so out of proportion to the offense sends a message far more dangerous than anything conveyed by the spontaneous expression of a relatively mild four-letter word." USA Today
Formula BMW
Gelles Racing expects to contend for title Gelles Racing expects to contend for titleAfter the second round of official Formula BMW USA testing days at Virginia International Raceway, Gelles Racing again tops the charts: Maxime Soulet from Belgium posted the best time in the two days that saw 19 drivers lap the Virginia facility. Gelles considers VIR its home track and its engineers have garnered a lot of data over the years from which the other drivers are benefiting. With one more mandatory testing session setup for Carolina Motorsport Park this weekend, the future seems bright for Gelles' inaugural season in Formula BMW USA.   “First of all, the weather was absolutely fabulous for testing, kicks off team owner Bob Gelles. Mild and dry in the morning and warm in the afternoon with abundant sunshine both days: weather our crew and engineers look for when they work with young drivers. And VIR is a superb testing facility. We always like to test in our home state for these reasons. Our rookie drivers learned a lot in those two days.”
Wirdheim: 'I now know what to expect' Wirdheim: 'I now know what to expect'Former F3000 Champion and Jaguar test driver Bjorn Wirdheim made his Champ Car debut at Long Beach on Sunday with the HVM squad. It was however a difficult start to his new career in the US as the Swede qualified in 13th position, ran as high as tenth, but finished just 12th overall. "I definitely learned a lot during the race. It was unfortunate that we didn’t finish higher," Wirdheim said. "We lost two positions due to the fact that I used all of my push-to-pass half way through the race and didn’t have any left for the re-start. I am disappointed not to have finished at least in the top-ten; our starting position did not help," Wirdheim admitted. "I really enjoyed the work, I am very happy to be in Champ Car. I cannot wait for the next race, I now know what to expect.” Dutch HVM team-mate Ronnie Bremer finished in seventh position, just behind former F1 driver Timo Glock.

Ronnie Bremer on the race: "HVM did a great job all weekend, they made my job a bit easier. I led a few laps, I suppose for a Rookie that is not to bad for my first race! There were no big dramas out there for me today, I just tried to push as hard as I could. Unfortunately Glock passed me when I exited the pits and I was on cold tires while he was hot. The pitstops were great, a bit nerve-racking, as you don’t want to make any mistakes, but a lot of fun. I am pleased with the entire weekend and certainly looking forward to Mexico.”

Gordon's Crew Chief fined Gordon's Crew Chief finedNASCAR announced Tuesday that Robert [Bob] Temple, crew chief for the #7 Chevrolet driven by Robby Gordon in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, has been fined $5,000 for a rule violation that occurred last week at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va. During opening day inspection on April 8, the #7 was found to have an unapproved deck lid, a violation of Section 12-4-Q of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rule book. That also violated Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing). NASCAR PR
A key test for Williams A key test for WilliamsAlong with major rivals such as Toyota and Renault, BMW Williams are in action this week at Paul Ricard HTTT looking to make gains with its FW27 chassis.   “The next weeks of development and testing before Imola will be vital. I think we're going to be a lot stronger there,” Webber told the WilliamsF1 web site. “There's no question the car is getting better."   Mark Webber believes the team are making good progress despite a somewhat disappointing race last time out in which the Australian star was just sixth, 75-seconds behind the all-conquering Fernando Alonso.   "There's a heap of parts coming through – aero and mechanical – and a lot of detailed improvements," Webber continued. "It's very good on the brakes – that seems to be something Williams is good at, getting the car to feel strong and stable under braking.”  That is one key aspect of the San Marino Grand Prix, one that Webber and BMW Williams hope to exploit a week Sunday. WilliamsF1
De Ferran talks about his BAR role De Ferran talks about his BAR roleGil de Ferran took up his new position as Sporting Director at BAR Honda at the start of this week. As a double Champ Car champion and winner of the Indy 500, the Brazilian has already achieved many of his motor racing goals and he’s now looking forward to an exciting new challenge within Formula One.

How excited are you to be joining Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda?
“This is an amazing opportunity for me to develop my life and my career. It’s the type of role that I had in mind for when I retired from driving. Obviously, I'll be leaving my friends and colleagues behind in the United States but it's going to be a huge challenge for me. Onwards and upwards.”

Did you miss the competitive atmosphere of the racetrack and is that what led you to leave the TV booth and to get back into racing more on a competitive basis?
"Absolutely. Certainly one of the things I've learned over this last year or so is that I am a racer at heart. I miss the competition side. When I stopped racing, I didn't want to leave the sport completely. Over the last year or so, my competitive juices kept flowing. That didn't mean that I wanted to get back driving. So I think this role answers all my emotional and intellectual needs.”

How much of this is you wanting to be able to use your engineering background as well as wanting to get back into the competitive side?
"Well, my interest in racing was very broad from the day I started. Obviously I love driving, I love competing, but I also love the machines. Even when my interest in driving was waning during the last year and eventually led to my retirement from that side of the sport, my interest in everything else remained high. I guess over the years I accumulated different experiences, both behind the wheel and in other parts of motor sports, including the technical part. Hopefully, as time goes on, I'll be able to contribute more and more to the team. But my main role is more sporting related or racing related and I suppose in a way less technical.”

You had Formula One ambitions many years ago. Is this unfinished business?
"I don't think so. I had a lot of fulfillment in my driving career, especially in my last stint with Team Penske where I was able to win many races and championships, and especially the Indy 500. I finished my career in the end of 2003 very satisfied, happy with what I’d achieved and not really bitter about anything. As far as Formula One goes, I have always had a fascination with it, ever since I watched Emerson Fittipaldi battling Jackie Stewart in the early '70s as a kid and it’s no secret that, when I went to Europe, I wanted to be a Formula One driver. My road took me in a different way, but it was just as fulfilling. Doing what I'm now doing really has nothing to do with any sort of unfinished business. For me it's a new avenue and it's a great opportunity.”

What is going to be your first task?
"My first task is going to be doing a lot of observing and listening. I think the worst thing I could do is disrupt things in the short-term. Obviously, B.A.R Honda finished second in the championship last year with mostly the same people that you’ll find there today. I have to find my feet first. So my initial plan is to really observe, take a lot of new information in and, hopefully, over time, my contribution will increase and my immediate plan is to be at the test in Paul Ricard this week.”

How well do you know Jenson Button?
"I see Jenson as certainly one of the best drivers in the world today and somebody who obviously has not only the potential to win races but to win a World Championship. He's a great asset to B.A.R Honda and I'm very much looking forward to working with him. My first job is to get to know him better – that's primarily why I'm going to Paul Ricard this week to get to know the whole team better. I intend to spend a lot of time with not only Jenson but also Takuma Sato and the test drivers. I don't think you can be effective if you don't understand deeply the people you're working with.”

As you say it’s a big challenge for you; what are your feelings inside? Is this like starting the Indy 500?
"You’ve hit the nail on the head. It's certainly an enormous thing in my life and my career. I felt every emotion you can feel over the last few weeks. I'm hugely excited and, of course, I'm hoping this will be the beginning of my next career.”

Finally how difficult is it going to be making the jump from Indy Cars to the F1 cars?
“I’m sure there are many nuances about the F1 race team that I don't know about – therein lies the challenge. But on the other hand, I feel like I accumulated all the experience I can over the years. In many ways and there are going to be a lot of difficulties that I can't even foresee at this very moment but, at the end of the day, a lot of characteristics and ingredients in racing are common worldwide. This type of role is definitely something I wanted to do. I feel ready for it. I guess time will tell how successful I will be.” BAR Honda
Ferrari testing on two fronts Ferrari testing on two frontsTuesday was the first day of testing this week for the Ferrari squad as they continue their preparations for the forthcoming Grand Prix. The Italian champions had three drivers in action with the testing program split between Fiorano and Mugello. At Fiorano, the day was affected by rain which fell intermittently at the track. At the wheel of an F2005, Rubens Barrichello worked on fine tuning set-up on the wet track. The Brazilian covered a total of 39 laps of the 2.976KM circuit, with three tours of the shorter (three on KM track.) Barrichello recorded a best lap time of 1:01.580s.

Over at Mugello Ferrari were also greeted with a wet circuit early on in the day. Michael Schumacher was driving an F2005 and Luca Badoer an F2004 M. The world champion’s program centered on aerodynamic and set-up work, while the team’s official test driver concentrated on Bridgestone tire development.  Once the track had dried out, the two drivers were able to run continuously and by the end of the day, Schumacher had done 125 laps (20 on the short version of the track), his best time a 1m 21.694s, and Badoer 103 (nine on the short layout), his quickest a 1m 22.938s . The team continue to test on Wednesday as their rivals begin to lap at Paul Ricard HTTT. Ferrari

Pantano signs with GP2 team Pantano signs with GP2 teamSuper Nova International Racing Ltd today announced the signing of Italian Giorgio Pantano and Adam Carroll for the forthcoming new GP2 Series.  David Sears, team principal “It’s been a very difficult decision but we think we have a very competitive line up this year and hope to win the first Championship in the new GP2 Series”.
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Klien to return in May
Ferrari hit F2005 throttle
Speed is 'second in line'
Renault 'buzzing'
Alonso not Ferrari-bound
Hakkinen and Adelaide
Car 'getting better' - Webber
Renault car to be 'copied'
Alonso 'can be champion'
BAR make 'step forward'
'Who cares about quali?'
Program reminder Program reminderUPDATE If you didn't see the broadcast of SpeedFreaks on Saturday night, be sure and tape the replay tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, 8:00 a.m. EST, SPEED Channel.  I think you'd really enjoy it, especially Sebastien Bourdais' interview.  Sebastien is really starting to 'loosen up' during his interviews!  Here are the guests of future SpeedFreaks shows.   Bobby Rahal and his son, Graham, were guests on the April 2 program.
April 2
Bobby Rahal
Graham Rahal (Star Mazda Driver)
Kyle Busch

April 9
Sebastien Bourdais
Memo Gidley
Brendan Gaughan
Steve Park

April 16
Allan McNish
Randy Pobst
Tony Kanaan

April 23
Ron Fellows
Jonathan Klein (Star Mazda Driver)
Buddy Rice
Helio Castroneves

April 30
Max Papis
Andy Pilgrim
Max Biaggi

May 7
Marco Andretti
Bryan Sellers
Kenny Wayne Shepherd (Guitarist/Vocalist Extroardinaire)

May 14
Emanuele Pirro
Tommy Archer
Kenny Wallace

Later in May:
Danny Sullivan
Bubba Stewart
... and more from the Indy 500

04/12/05 In case you missed SpeedFreaks on Saturday night, the program will be shown again on Wednesday morning, April 13, at 8:00 a.m. EST on the SPEED channel.  Sebastien Bourdais, Memo Gidley, Brendan Gaughan and Steve Park were interviewed at Sebring International Raceway during the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Questioning Long Beach’s attendance numbers Questioning Long Beach’s attendance numbersUPDATE #2 Another reader writes, I sat on the top row of the Turn 9 grandstands at the LBGP. Everyone there was long time ticket holders, some since the very first race. I asked them if they would attend the race next year if the IRL were to replace Champ Car. Not one said they would. They would all give up their choice seats and move on if the IRL replaces Champ Car. I suspect Dover will have themselves in a mess if the IRL is selected. The IRL has had little success in keeping attendance at tracks where Champ Cars used to race. I’ll bet the same happens at Long Beach. Steve Heckard, Indiana Dear Steve, Tony George has caused a massive rift in open wheel racing by his continual cannibalization of CART/Champ Car. We're afraid that he has done so much damage to the fan base, caused so much hatred toward him, that reconciliation at some point in time will be futile. If he has any common sense, he will go about his own thing, build his own races up and try not to cause any further damage and hatred amongst the fans toward him in the event he decides at some point in time to ask to merge the two series. Mark C. 04/12/05 Another reader adds, In regards to Brian's e-mail on Long Beach attendance, I too was puzzled by the unofficially quoted attendance. I have been to every single event dating back to 1975, I worked as the Asst. Race Chairman for 12 years (in other words have a good grasp of the event). The stands are usually a good barometer. The stands were about 95% full (a few empty seats on the bottom rows in some stands Sunday). The G.A. areas were very full. I honestly think there was 90,000 maybe more in attendance on Sunday!   I believe the record Sunday attendance is around 115,000. There was much more than 75,000 there on Sunday! For what it's worth, I would "unofficially" guess the event attendance at near 200,000 for the three days. So why is the estimate 175,000?   So if the IRL is pushing the envelope with their over-inflated estimates of attendance at St. Petersburg, why is Long Beach/Champ Car downplaying the attendance figures? Charles Frank 04/12/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, This was your report on the attendance last year: Long Beach attendance While no attendance figures are ever released by the promoter (Dover) at Long Beach, the estimated attendance for this year's Toyota Grand prix of Long Beach was 75,000. Add to that the 52,000 people on Friday and estimated 55,000 on Saturday and the total 3-day attendance was about 183,000. If attendance was up this year, which by everyone’s accounts it was, why are we hearing 175,000? All reports I see say 50,000+ on Friday, 60,000+ on Saturday. But Sunday seems to be shaky? No way! A lot of press stories and fan accounts, as well as business reports say more people. So why are we being told 175,000 when it really seems to be more? Brian Defreese, Phoenix Dear Brian, It's so very hard to estimate the attendance at a street circuit and unless Dover releases the actual numbers, you will continue to see various estimates, some contradicting one another. Suffice it to say that attendance at Long Beach was up a significant percentage over last year, which has to weigh heavily on Dover's decision to retain Champ Car. If it isn't broke, why fix it? Mark C.
Legge deserves good PR Legge deserves good PRA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, If Champ Car and Toyota Atlantic doesn't promote (PR wise) Legge to the hilt, they don't deserve her. She made everyone say, "Danica who?" Paul Kramer Dear Paul, Champ Car must be careful not to exploit her like the IRL is doing to Danica Patrick, who has become their poster girl, literally, with the sexy poses and all. Legge is not in racing to be a sex symbol. She wants to be respected as a damn good race car driver, and that she is. She's pretty good looking, but looks don't win races, talent does. She should be put on a pedestal because she wins races, as should any male who is a winner. Does she deserve good PR? You betcha. She won a race her first time out in Atlantics and that is saying something most male drivers can't. Mark C.
Road racers dominate IRL test at Infineon Road racers dominate IRL test at InfineonUPDATE On the morning of the Indianapolis 500, the multi-year contract between the IndyCar Series and Edmonton Northlands finally got autographed.

The Rexall Edmonton Indy contract, which Sun Media revealed here earlier this week to be "only a signature away" from being a done deal according to series president Terry Angstadt, yesterday received his signature along with that of Mark Bamford, chief financial officer of Northlands.

"We weren't sure if we were going to have enough face time to finish it off," said race director Jim Haskins, who is here with a team of Edmonton organizers.

"There was some last minute wording, but no major hurdles," he said.

Haskins said they were saving details of the deal so they'd have something to announce at a press conference planned for Wednesday in Edmonton. Edmonton Sun

05/24/08 We hear the reason for the holdup on the contract between Edmonton and the IRL is the fact that the IRL wants to just do a 1 year deal and Edmonton wants at least a three-year deal.  Makes one wonder if the IRL just wants one race in Canada and if Toronto is coming on board next year with Andretti Green as promoters that Edmonton may be a one and done deal, which would be a shame........Road America President George Bruggenthies is here meeting with IRL officials in the hope he can land an Indy Car race at his 4-mile road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin........We hear that the A1GP may land a race in Calgary starting in 2009 and that the future of the F1 race in Montreal is in doubt given the lack of government subsidies.  Without that the race promoter, Normand Legault, cannot pay F1 the kind of money (sanction fees) other venues who want to come on board can.  In addition, without a USGP to share in the travel costs for the F1 circus to come to North America, the race bleeds red ink. Mark Cipolloni reporting from Indy
Portland fans can meet Champ Car drivers Portland fans can meet Champ Car driversIt doesn’t get any better than this for a Champ Car fan!  This Wednesday April 13th from 7-9pm we have confirmed at least 9 drivers and their crews to show up at On Deck Sports Bar and Grill for night of fun for all ages.  Grab some autographs, ask questions to some of your favorite drivers, and win Champ Car merchandise or tickets to the upcoming GI Joe’s presents Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland June 17-19, 2005.

Meet the Teams @ On Deck Sports Bar in the Pearl April 13th 7-9pm
Location: 910 NW 14th Ave. (14th & Kearney)

Drivers scheduled to appear include Sebastien Bourdais (The 2004 Series Champion and winner of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach), Jimmy Vasser, Cristiano Da Matta, Mario Dominguez, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Wilson, Bruno Junqueira, Oriol Servia, and Nelson Philippe.  Check out some of the Driver’s “guest bartending” – all tips go to benefit Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Camp Charity.   For more information on the event you can contact me directly @ jeremy@globaleventsgrouppdx.com or 503.821.4344

Wallace's Dodge To Carry Kodak Colors At Texas Wallace's Dodge To Carry Kodak Colors At TexasRusty Wallace's Penske Racing South No. 2 Dodge will feature Kodak as its primary sponsor in the April 17 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway due to a unique cooperative effort between Penske Racing South, Miller Brewing Company and Eastman Kodak Company that will allow Kodak to participate in "Rusty's Last Call."
Formula Ford
Karting Star Bowles Leads Quality Field Karting Star Bowles Leads Quality FieldThis weekend’s Grand Prix of Atlanta promises an action-packed agenda of racing at the scenic and supremely challenging Road Atlanta track in Braselton, Ga. Some of the most spectacular competition is expected to be provided by a magnificent field of 40 cars that has been assembled for the opening rounds of the 2005 Cooper Tires Championship Series for Formula Ford 2000 cars.

Drivers from Great Britain, Canada, Venezuela and all over the United States will be vying for honors during a pair of races – one apiece on Friday and Saturday – and will be seeking to follow in the footsteps of previous FF2000 stars such as Champ Car World Series title-holders Paul Tracy and Jimmy Vasser, two-time Indy Racing League Champion Sam Hornish Jr. and current IRL standout Dan Wheldon.

The list of leading contenders is lengthy, but likely front-runners will include rising American stars Jason Bowles and Emerson Slade Miller, equally highly-touted young Englishman Jay Howard and 2003 Canadian Formula Ford Champion Chris Guerrieri.

"Everything’s come together very late but I’m really looking forward to Road Atlanta," says Bowles, from Ontario, Calif., who won the prestigious SKUSA SuperNationals karting event in Las Vegas last November and only recently concluded a deal to drive in the Cooper Series with JDC Motorsports. Bowles is the highest-placed returning driver from the 2004 season, having finished fourth in the overall standings with the same Minnesota-based team. Among the highlights from his rookie campaign were a pair of third-place finishes at Road Atlanta.

"Road Atlanta is definitely one of the most fun race tracks I’ve raced on," continues 22-year-old Bowles. "The elevation changes make it a real challenge, and the section in Turns Two and Three where you go over the top of a hill and all you can see is the bright blue sky is wild!"

Miller, 19, from Edmond, Okla., will be making his FF2000 debut but has some momentum on his side after winning an SCCA Formula Ford Regional title last year and being awarded a prestigious Team USA Scholarship, which allowed him to broaden his horizons by racing in New Zealand in January.

"I learned so much in New Zealand," says Miller, who will join Bowles at the JDC Motorsports team. "It’s been a struggle to raise the finance but I’m really excited about making this step into the Cooper Series – it’s the epitome of road racing: large fields with lots of talent, challenging courses and professional teams."

What to look for at Road Atlanta What to look for at Road AtlantaThe American Le Mans Series returns to network television this weekend with live coverage of the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta on CBS from 1:00-3:00 Sunday, April 17 with Greg Creamer, Dorsey Schroeder and Ralph Sheheen calling all the action.  What to look for:
  • Can Mazda and its rotary engine, as the newest manufacturer in the American Le Mans Series, challenge the Miracle Motorsports Courage and Telesis Intersport Racing Lola in LMP2 in its first race?
  • Can Corvette Racing (GT1 class) bounce back after being beaten by Aston Martin at Sebring and perhaps give Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell in Corvette #3 a victory, allowing them to tie Sascha Maassen for all-time ALMS victories with 22?  Or will teammates Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in Corvette #4 rain on their parade?
  • Can LMP1 Sebring victor Champion Audi keep things rolling with its fourth consecutive win … and will that win come from Audi #1 with JJ Lehto and Marco Werner or Audi #2 with Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro?
  • Can the Petersen/White Lightning Porsche continue to foil defending champion Alex Job Racing in GT2 as they did at Sebring earlier this Spring?
  • Will the Flying Lizards, who came out of nowhere to finish second in GT2 last year, rebound from a sub-par performance at Sebring and once again challenge AJR and Petersen/White Lightning?
  • Is the Panoz Esperante as fast as [driver] Bill Auberlen seems to think, and can it run with the rest of the GT2 growing list of challengers?
  • Can Maserati, which had a respectable run at Sebring finishing fifth in class, continue to improve and challenge not only the Corvettes, but a much-improved ACEMCO Saleen now on Michelin tires?
CARA Charities
Dinner and Racing Tour Set For USGP Weekend Dinner and Racing Tour Set For USGP WeekendCARA Charities’ annual Indianapolis Race Team and Technology Tour, formerly known as The USGP Shop Tour, has been expanded for the 2005 edition with a stellar lineup of insider access on Thursday, June 16. 
  Continuing its tradition as one of the city’s premier events during the United States Grand Prix week, this year’s Indianapolis Race Team and Technology Tour will allow participating racing fans a rare opportunity to see behind the scenes via guided tours at race shops of open-wheel standouts Fernandez Racing, defending NHRA Top Fuel champions Don Schumacher Racing and the Auto Research Center, featuring a wind tunnel and seven-post shaker rig. The tour will be followed by dinner at Rick’s Boatyard Café and special guest speakers including Formula One expert Peter Windsor.

Windsor is an award-winning Grand Prix editor of F1 Racing magazine, the pit lane presenter for Speed Channel TV and a multi-directional TV interviewer at all F1 events for Formula One Management. His voice is heard asking post-qualifying and post-race questions of the podium finishers.

Windsor is the ultimate insider serving as manager of sponsorship and public affairs for Williams in 1985, moving to Ferrari as general manager in 1989, and returning to Williams as team manager in 1991 – the year the team won both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ World Championships. He has managed 1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell and Carlos Reutemann, and continues to coach a number of successful drivers, including BAR-Honda’s lineup and the Red Bull drivers.

“We are pleased to expand our annual tour to new venues this year and having an expert like Peter Windsor speak at the event,” said Barbara Butz, president of CARA Charities.  “Thanks for one of our members, Lori Lovely, we have been able to show more of the racing industry in the Indianapolis area.  We feel this new direction with the tour will give racing fans a greater ‘behind-the-scenes’ insight to our popular sport.  In addition, we will be raising important funds for several needy causes through the tour.”

Buses will depart Rick’s Boatyard Cafe promptly at 3:30 p.m. EST on June 16 for private tours, returning to the waterfront restaurant for cocktails, live music, dinner and the presentation.

The Indianapolis Race Team and Technology Tour is one of CARA Charities’ annual fund-raising events. Founded in 1981, CARA Charities has distributed more than $3.5 million to racing and community organizations, promoting the friendships of all those involved in motor sports. In partnership with the International Center of Indianapolis, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1973 to help Indy welcome the world, this unique event will be promoted to the F1 fans among our growing international community. 

Tickets for the event are now available by calling CARA Charities at (317) 299-2277 or emailing CARAchar@aol.com. Information on the tour is available on www.caracharities.org. The price of $150 per person includes custom coach transportation to the shops, cocktails, dinner and the presentation by Peter Windsor and other guests, with a special Question and Answer period.  Contact: Lori Lovely (317) 271-1504 or Tom Blattler (317) 525-5692

Industry News
Motorsport facility planned for Hawaii Motorsport facility planned for HawaiiUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Mike Gascoyne has been confirmed at the new Spyker MF1 Racing team, effective at the end of the current season. Gascoyne will take up his new role at the Silverstone based squad on the first of November this year and he is delighted to be back in the pinnacle of Motorsports.

"I have only recently met Victor Muller and Michiel Mol and they impressed me enormously with their commitment to Formula One and performance program,” said Gascoyne. “Naturally I am delighted to come back to Formula One to a wonderfully challenging opportunity. I know and respect many of the people at Silverstone from my time there previously and I am confident that we will be able to deliver results."

09/08/06 Former Toyota technical director Mike Gascoyne is close to agreeing terms to return to Formula One with the Midland team, autosport.com reports.

Gascoyne left Toyota after this year's Australian Grand Prix and has been on gardening leave since then but, with his contractual commitments to Toyota due to finish at the end of October, autosport.com hears that he is now seriously considering making a pledge to Midland.

Industry News
Big tax break for Toyota, the Chinese are coming Big tax break for Toyota, the Chinese are comingUPDATE The state is also making a push for Chinese automotive companies to invest in Michigan.   The world's largest nation lags other giant auto nations in terms of the number of companies that have operations in Michigan. While the state counts about 500 companies each from Germany, Japan, Great Britain, France and Canada, it lists only 10 Chinese firms.   The true number may be closer to 20, but it is still a small group -- seen by economic developers as a huge opportunity.   China has grown to become the third-largest national auto industry behind only Japan and the United States. The Chinese government has aspirations of building a world-class industry with global brands developed there.   In a speech to the Detroit Chinese Business Association on Sunday, Jianong Wu, the vice mayor of the 30-million person Chongqing municipality, said that businesses from the region are looking for high-end engineering talent.   Granholm plans to meet with Wu on Wednesday to make the case for Chinese companies to invest in Michigan.   "The governor is anxious to spur new investment in Michigan and recognizes as well as anyone that we live in a global economy," said spokeswoman Liz Boyd. 04/12/05 Toyota Motor Corp., long considered the most significant competitive threat to Detroit's automakers, is expected to receive $38.9 million in tax breaks from the State of Michigan for its proposed engineering and testing operations near Ann Arbor.  David Hollister, director of the state Department of Labor and Economic Growth, told the Free Press on Monday that the incentive would be offered as part of Toyota's planned $11-million purchase of a 690-acre site off U.S.-23. in York Township. Toyota unveiled its interest in the project in August and an incentive package was expected.  The state and the automaker plan to sign a purchase agreement at 9 this morning before a special 10 a.m. meeting of the Michigan Economic Growth Authority board. The sale would not likely close for a year, Hollister said, while environmental work and other preliminary checks are completed. Detroit Free Press
IROC testing notes IROC testing notesThe Crown Royal International Race of Champions was back in the saddle at Texas Motor Speedway Monday in preparation for round two, of the four race $1- million championship series, which will take place this Friday, April 15 and broadcast on SPEED Channel at 8:00 p.m., ET.

Direct from his Champ Car World Series season opening victory in the Grand Prix of Long Beach, the defending champion, Sebastien Bourdais made his first appearance at the 1.5-mile high-banked oval jumping into the Crown Royal IROC stock cars after a weekend of nimble champ car piloting. Its quite different than what Ive been doing over the last week, for sure, said Bourdais. The IROC cars are about twice the weight, or more, of my Champ Car, the suspension, the movement and the seating position is so different, but it has four-wheels and a steering wheel, which means Im have a great time. Bourdais continued, This is my first time here at Texas. For me its a bit like a mini-Daytona (International Speedway), its quite fun and a pretty smooth race track. Its going to be quite a challenge to work with two grooves. We did that a little, some side-by-side racing with Buddy (Rice) and it was enjoyable.

IndyCar Series defending Indy 500 champion, Rice said, This is my first time at Texas in a stock car and for sure Its quite a bit different then the way you drive the Indy cars. You have to arch the IROC cars into the corner, which is the conventional style of starting on the out side, drive it in slow and then apex before coming off the turn. With our cars we run the bottom all the way around, the shortest distance we can run. Also, you can really actually see the track rubber in with the IROC cars where with our cars you dont really see it that much. Rice continued, Its great to get to drive in the Crown Royal IROC cars. I really enjoy getting the chance to drive a different style car, especially at an awesome facility like Texas, and I always like running under the lights, so its definitely going to be one heck of a ride for me.

Max Papis has had open wheel experience at Texas Motor Speedway driving for Marlboro Team Penske as a teammate to fellow IROC competitor, Helio Castroneves. But, this is Papis first stock car experience at Texas Motor Speedway, and he echoed his fellow open wheel compatriots.

Crown Royal IROC Texas Pit Notes Papis said, It feels like two completely different race tracks going from an Indy Car to a stock car here in Texas. The biggest learning curve for the open wheel guys is learning to close the distance between cars. When youre running with the open wheel guys they dont get quite as close as the IROC test drivers with their NASCAR experience, theyre right on your bumper, which makes the car feel different. So, still a lot to learn and its going to be a very different track than Daytona. I feel patience is going to pay off, but you also have to be aggressive, so its also going to be about striking abalance between the two.

Two-time Indy 500 champion, Helio Castroneves was also in attendance and said, The cars feel like they may have a bit more down force this year. I know the IROC team tried a few different things at the test and it seems to have helped. I think no, I know this is going to be a great race so nobody should miss this.

Defending Crown Royal IROC Texas winner Danny Lasoski joined the open wheel contingent. Lasoski said, It feels fantastic to be back here at Texas Motor Speedway after winning last year, its apleasure to be here with the IROC guys and I just hope I can repeat last year. Were starting the race a little earlier this year and that may change the characteristic of the cars a bit, but overall it should be a great race. Lasoski continued, I'll tell you what, the open wheel guys here today are doing a great job. Theyre getting up to speed pretty quickly. Im the one thats a bit rusty with all the dirt driving I do, it takes me three or four days to get used to the IROC cars again. From the way things look today, we (open wheel drivers) may have a little something for the Cup guys. Driver practice and set up preparations for the Crown Royal IROC race will continue at Texas Motor Speedway throughout the remainder of the week.
With Newman/Haas Honda has whopping 14 cars With Newman/Haas Honda has whopping 14 carsHonda has further strengthened its lineup for the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 with the addition of a pair of entries from Newman/Haas Racing for drivers Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais.  The addition of the Newman/Haas team gives Honda a total of 14 entries for the 500-mile classic, the largest ever for the manufacturer. 

Centrix Financial will provide primary sponsorship for the two-car effort as Junqueira makes his fourth start in the Memorial Day classic, while it will be the first "500" appearance for Bourdais after winning the Champ Car World Series title in 2004. 

"We are excited to have Sebastien, Bruno and the entire Newman/Haas team as part of what we believe is a very strong lineup of Honda entries for the Indianapolis 500," said Robert Clarke, president of Honda Performance Development.  "During the past two decades, Newman/Haas has proven itself to be one of the top teams in open-wheel racing.  Their addition, along with our other entries from Andretti Green Racing, Rahal Letterman Racing, Dreyer & Reinbold and the Fernandez organization, will give Honda a formidable lineup as we seek our second consecutive '500' victory." 

The 2005 Indianapolis 500 will mark the fifth appearance for Honda at the Memorial Day classic. Honda drivers and teams dominated the results in 2004, with Buddy Rice leading a Honda sweep of the first two rows of the starting grid, and seven of top nine starting positions.  Rice went on to score his - and Honda's - first "500" victory.  Honda drivers also finished second through seventh, and claimed nine of the first 11 finishing positions. 

"Fielding 14 drivers and teams for the entire 'Month of May' presents a unique set of challenges for the associates of HPD and our technical partners at Ilmor," Clarke noted in announcing the full Honda-powered 2005 Indianapolis 500 lineup.  "It represents an almost 50% increase in terms of equipment, manpower and logistical support from our normal Indy Racing League requirements, but also demonstrates Honda's commitment to the Indy Racing League and the traditional 33-car starting field for the '500'." 

Since joining the IRL at the start of the 2003 season, Honda has fielded an expanded entry at Indianapolis.  Nine drivers used Honda power at the 2003 event, and 11 in 2004. 

Klien disappointed at being benched Klien disappointed at being benchedBenched Red Bull driver Christian Klien has spoken of his 'total disappointment' at being replaced by Vitantonio Liuzzi for the San Marino Grand Prix. "To be honest I was totally disappointed," he told his website. "My performance over the first three weekends showed that I am in the middle of a very positive and successful development. Now it is Liuzzi's turn to show his qualities. I assume that I will be back in the race cockpit at the European Grand Prix," he said. "This decision will be taken by Red Bull only after the Monaco Grand Prix."
News from San Jose News from San JoseThe San Jose City Council will again vote on the San Jose Grand Prix issue tonight. Apparently since the course was changed to a new location the City Council is required to approve the change. From all indications it is expected to pass.......San Francisco television was broadcasting highlights of the HP Arena Media Event this morning (Vasser in his Lola) while Sand Francisco radio was reporting on the IRL Indy-car test at Infineon. The San Jose Mercury sent a reporter and photographer down to Long Beach and came back with a huge story and 2 photos on Monday morning, while the SJGP placed their 1st advertisement in the same paper.....In Monday's San Francisco Chronicle Infineon Raceway had a 1/2 page ad with Danica Patrick promoting their IndyCar race late this summer.....San Francisco's Open-Wheel War continues...
Centrix to sponsor 2-car Newman/Haas Indy effort Centrix to sponsor 2-car Newman/Haas Indy effortFinancial services firm CENTRIX Financial announced today that they will sponsor a two-car program for Newman/Haas Racing for the 2005 Indianapolis 500.  Bruno Junqueira, 28, will make his fourth start in the event while Sebastien Bourdais, 26, will make his debut.  

“We are thrilled to be returning to Indy for the second year,” said CENTRIX Financial’s Chairman and CEO Robert E. Sutton. “It’s the world’s biggest motorsports stage, and I am proud to have two of the most accomplished open-wheel drivers behind the wheel for Team CENTRIX in Bruno and Sebastien.  CENTRIX is in the business of delivering results in the auto finance industry, and we are committed to doing the same in motorsports.”   

In Junqueira’s rookie event in 2001 he started 20th and finished fifth.  He won the pole position in 2002, led the first 32 laps but retired in 31st place with engine failure.  Last year in his first Indy 500 with Newman/Haas Racing he qualified fourth despite limited practice time, led 16 laps and finished fifth.  The 2004 event marked the first time for Newman/Haas Racing to have competed in the Indy 500 since 1995. 

“We are excited that our association with CENTRIX Financial has enabled us to compete at the Indianapolis 500 again,” said Carl Haas, co-owner of Newman/Haas Racing.  “CENTRIX Financial is a company that operates with the same philosophy as our team; they are true competitors both in the auto finance industry and in racing and enjoy winning as much as we do.  Add to that combination the powerful and reliable Honda engine and we have a good opportunity for a strong finish.”   

A leading innovator in the auto finance market and a major sponsor of numerous motorsports programs, CENTRIX Financial will have its name prominently displayed on the bright blue and white No. 36 and No. 37 Honda-powered Panoz/Firestone machines entered by Newman/Haas Racing.  In 2004 CENTRIX fielded its first Indianapolis 500 entry with Vitor Meira behind the wheel of the No. 17 Rahal/Letterman Team CENTRIX Honda, where he finished sixth.  Meira’s Rahal/Letterman teammate, Buddy Rice, came away with the victory at the 2004 racing classic. 

In addition to the Indy 500 entries, CENTRIX is an associate sponsor for Newman/Haas Racing’s Champ Car World Series program.  Team co-owner Paul Newman and Sebastien Bourdais were members of -Team CENTRIX in the CENTRIX Financial Baja Challenge class of the 2004 SCORE Tecate Baja 1000.  Newman teamed with CENTRIX Financial Chairman and CEO Bob Sutton as well as others in an entry that finished fourth in class while Bourdais and Pikes Peak Hill Climb winner and co-driver Rhys Millen finished third despite being sidelined for two hours due to damage sustained early in the race.  CENTRIX was also a co-sponsor of the Newman Racing entry in the 2005 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in early February.  [Editor's Note: Despite being on the winning Indy 500 team last year, it's interesting to see that Centrix feels that sponsoring a Champ Car team and also going with them to the Indy 500 is a better return on their investment.  As the tide appears to be turning positive for Champ Car on many fronts, more and more companies in the IRL paddock are beginning to look seriously at Champ Car since they deliver the global marketplace, not just a national one.  Champ Car is moving from strength to strength, a fact that can't be lost on Dover Motorsports in Long Beach.]

Sebastien Bourdais is a young man in a hurry Sebastien Bourdais is a young man in a hurryLast year, Bourdais won the Champ Car title for Newman/Haas Racing. On Sunday, he scorched the field and won the Grand Prix of Long Beach, the opening race of the 2005 Champ Car World Series.   Monday morning, Bourdais flew to Dallas, where he rented a car and headed for Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth. The 26-year-old Frenchman was scheduled to practice in an IROC car there Monday evening.   Today, Bourdais will leave Texas for Portland. He will test his McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola at Portland International Raceway on Wednesday and Thursday in preparation for the city's June 19 Champ Car event.   All in a week's work for Bourdais, who will return to Texas early Friday and compete that night in the IROC race, which is part of this week's NASCAR Busch Grand National and Nextel Cup program there.   "That's quite a busy week," said Bourdais, who spoke on his cell phone from a car rental bus at Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport. "The guy is driving this bus like a mad dog, so I hope to get to my car. I'm just looking forward to the IROC race."  Detroit Free Press
Monterrey tickets to go on sale Monterrey tickets to go on saleUPDATE We were off by one day.  Today, April 12th, is the first day of the presale of tickets for the Monterrey race.  Only the holders of debit and credit cards of a Mexican bank (Banamex) will have access to this presale.  This presale will be from today until April 17th and tickets will have their usual 30% discount for Banamex cardholders.  They also announced that this race is the fifth and final edition of the Tecate Telmex Grand Prix, and that there will be a grid of 20 cars.  AutoRacing1.com has learned that negotiations are already underway to renew the contract with Champ Car.  We expect an announcement the weekend of the race. 04/10/05 Tickets for the May 22nd Champ Car Monterrey race will go on sale Monday. We expect the deal to be extended for another five years.
Toronto Sun calls for Champ Car return to LB Toronto Sun calls for Champ Car return to LBAlthough the Toronto Sun is usually negative towards Champ Car, this article says they were impressed with Champ Car's success in Long Beach this year and called for the Grand Prix Association to renew the contract with Champ Car.
Lights to shine at Homestead Lights to shine at HomesteadThe future of Homestead-Miami Speedway, the excitement of Ford Championship Weekend, and the nightlife in Miami all just became that much brighter.  Lights will be installed at Homestead-Miami Speedway to allow for races to be held at night, announced Speedway President Curtis Gray.  Construction on the project is scheduled to begin immediately and be complete in time for the 2005 Ford Championship Weekend, the season-finales for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, NASCAR Busch Series, and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, November 17-20.    The new lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway will allow for later start times and therefore a "prime time", championship atmosphere at the Speedway's major events beginning with November's Ford Championship Weekend.    "When one thinks of the greatest championship sporting events around the world, one thinks of prime-time, electric atmospheres," said Gray.  "The championship finales for NASCAR's three elite series will now all take place in an unparalleled setting under the lights during Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway."  The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Ford 400, televised live on NBC, is scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 20 and conclude under the lights.  Following the Ford 400, the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion will be officially crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Karting series heads to Moran Raceway Karting series heads to Moran RacewayThe racers of the Western Division of the Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by the IRL will duke it for over $18,000 in cash and prizes when the series comes to Moran Raceway in Beaumont, CA April 23-24. In addition to a Friday night dinner hosted by Douglas Wheels and a presence by vendors such as upracing.com the competition on the world-class track will be hotter than ever. The double race weekend format will see all three podium finishers from the season opening Race of the Americas square off in ICC.  Northern California’s Alex Speed and Wesley Boswell who finished 1st and 3rd respectively in Norman will come to Norman from the Birel stable while Jason Bowles enters the weekend with 2nd place in points aboard his TonyKart.
The ICA class in Moran will be led by young German hot shoe Helmut Sanden, who finished second to multiple time World Champion Davide Fore in Norman.  KLS Racing will be fielding Brazilian Jonatan Jorge who has already shown his speed in Brazilian karting, Skip Barber Formula Dodge, and British Formula Renault stints.  Grant Hebner looks to be a contender aboard his CRG as does Phil Giebler, as the Intrepid pilot has already won several club and regional level races at Moran in 2005.
Morning after LB GP is bright Morning after LB GP is brightThis Press Telegram article says (excerpts), Tourism officials say event brought quick business to Long Beach. Like many of the spectators who attended the weekend's annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the business sector awoke Monday morning trying to shake the hangover a great three-day party can bring.   But nothing cures the ailing businessperson like a good balance sheet, and all indications are that this year's Grand Prix provided a strong economic jolt.

"Talking with many of our members, they said that financially they did as well as last year, and in some cases better. It was a great weekend," said Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the Long Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.   In particular, Long Beach hotels reaped the economic benefits of the event, which unofficially drew at least 175,000 people, including more than 70,000 on Sunday, the day of the event's signature race.   Some hotels and the visitors bureau used the Grand Prix as a chance to wine and dine meeting planners and companies who have Long Beach on their list of places to hold events but may not have it as their top choice.

"The clients that we brought into town were so impressed. It (the event) seemed so effortless and seamless and that was conveyed to the clients," Goodling said. "They could feel it and see it.  It seemed like it was busier and more people than last year. And the vendors were doing a great job and maybe had more volume than the previous year," said Randy Gordon, president of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce.   One of the race's biggest and most popular sponsors, King Taco in Los Angeles, is still counting up the receipts but operators say the trend looks good.   "Judging by what I saw this week, I was there Saturday, regardless of the attendance of the race we always do pretty well every year," said King Taco vice president of operations Luis Martinez.

And even though the debate will begin in earnest over which racing series will be at the Grand Prix either the longtime Champ Car World Series, or the Indy Racing League Martinez said King Taco will continue its support .   "We've been at the Grand Prix for many years and hope to be there many years more," Martinez said. Even racers had raves.  "I saw more excitement this weekend and more enthusiasm from the crowd than I have seen in a long, long time," four-time winner Paul Tracy said. "This was probably one of the best events that the Long Beach Grand Prix and (Champ Car) have run."  

Bruno Junqueira was also impressed with the city's nightlife.   "Last night it took me more than half an hour to get a taxi back from dinner and all over the city, people have been telling me how good the race is for hotels and restaurants and how much enjoyment the race generates," he said.

Sale of Tecate, the event's official beer, were strong this year, said spokesman Jorge Cornejo.  Hispanic attendance at the race has gone up in the past few years. Attendance in 2003 was 23 percent Hispanic. In, 2004, Hispanics accounted for 30 percent of the attendance, according to Cornejo. Attendance figures for 2005 are not yet available.   Throughout March and April, Tecate staged race promotions at 2,000 stores across the Southland, such as Food 4 Less, Vallarta supermarkets and Gigante.

Tecate credits that marketing effort with helping the beer become the No. 1 import in April for the first time, overtaking popular Mexican export Corona, according to an A.C. Neilsen study.   "It's really due to the Long Beach Grand Prix," Cornejo said. [Editor's Note: Corona is out of Champ Car and it has cost them their #1 status. Tecate, who no longer sponsors Adrian Fernandez, will probably look to do more with Champ Car going forward because not only does Champ Car help them in Mexico (2 races) they help them in the USA - the 2nd biggest market for Tecate beer.] 

GP pits Champ Car against IRL GP pits Champ Car against IRLIt's one of those decisions that requires a blank piece of paper that's been folded in half.   On the left side under the header "Champ Car," the powers that be at the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach could list all the positive attributes of the series that has made an annual trip to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach since 1984. On the right side under the header "Indy Racing League," an inventory could be generated for the series vying to become the fourth different sanctioning body to race here since the inaugural event in 1975.  Add up both sides and voila! the racing future of the LBGP is decided.

Whatever formula the Grand Prix Association and its parent company, Dover Motorsports, uses, it will take just slightly longer than this short exercise.  Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, said he expects to have a decision within 60 days, although one could be handed down sooner rather than later. Grand Prix Association officials say they intend to keep the status of negotiations from going public.

What is known is that Champ Car and the IRL have already contacted race officials to start negotiations.  "We are working toward a new contract right now," said Dick Eidswick, Champ Car's president.   Ken Ungar, the VP of business affairs for the IRL, said: "We made Dover aware of our continuing interest today (Monday)."   Champ Car made a good argument on Sunday with a race that saw the most passes for the lead on the track (three) in seven years as defending series champion Sebastien Bourdais kept Paul Tracy from earning his fifth LBGP title.

"The weekend was hugely successful from every perspective," Michaelian said. "From a racing point of view, Champ Car was very entertaining. It was very competitive and the race had a lot of drama to it and that lasted to the very end."  About the same number of fans turned out Sunday as did last year an estimated 75,000 and the three-day take held steady at about 170,000.  Dover Motorsports declines to state the actual crowd count. Press Telegram  [Editor's Note:  The article goes on to say that the TV rating was not that good, a 0.8, but makes a mistake in saying the IRL averaged 1.4 last year - that includes the Indy 500, which skews the numbers, and all its races this year have seen ratings of 0.8 down to 0.4.  The IRL will not bring the city higher TV ratings.  What will bring the city higher TV ratings is moving the race by a week so it is not up against the Masters.]

Industry News
Ford sales chief quits Ford sales chief quitsFord Motor Co.'s top North American marketing executive is leaving the company after less than four months on the job, Ford said Monday.  Earl Hesterberg, Ford's vice president for North American marketing, sales and service, will become president and CEO of Houston-based Group 1 Automotive Inc., which owns 96 dealerships around the country.  "Group 1 Automotive has assembled a tremendous group of employees and franchises that are well positioned to capitalize on opportunities in the automotive retailing sector," said Hesterberg, 51, in a statement released by Group 1. AP Story
McDonald's signs NASCAR deal McDonald's signs NASCAR dealMcDonald's announced the company has entered into a partnership agreement with Evernham Motorsports in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. The agreement calls for McDonald's to be an associate sponsor on the #9 Evernham Motorsports Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger driven by 2004 Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year Kasey Kahne and the #91 Evernham Motorsports Dodge Charger that will be driven by [1988] NASCAR champion Bill Elliott at selected Nextel Cup events. The agreement includes a two-race McDonald's primary sponsorship on Elliott's car. The Bill Elliott Racing entry will carry the McDonald's paint scheme at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (June 19) and California Speedway in Fontana (Sept. 5). Kahne, 24, said that he welcomes the new partnership and is looking forward to being affiliated with McDonald's. McDonald's motorsports programs also include primary sponsorships in the Champ Car World Series with the Newman/Haas team and driver Sebastian Bourdais and in the NASCAR Busch Series with Team Rensi Motorsports and [#35] driver Jason Keller. More info on McDonalds, see www.mcdonalds.com
Bernoldi takes his testing seriously Bernoldi takes his testing seriouslyEnrique Bernoldi joined the BAR Honda squad for the final three races of the 2004 season and has remained with the British-based team in 2005. The former Arrows racer never got much of a chance to show his pace in Tom Walkinshaw’s old team, but with BAR the Brazilian is putting everything he can into the testing role. “First of all, I am the person that puts the most pressure on myself,” Bernoldi said in an interview for the team’s web site. “I am very competitive in everything that I do and I like to improve myself as much as possible. B.A.R Honda is the best team that I have been with in my career and I am testing in such a professional way that I am learning all the time.”

“I have also moved to the UK for this year so that I can be nearer to the team and concentrate on my role,” Bernoldi continued. “My target is to be even fitter, be able to consistently do as many laps as I am doing now and just be as fast as I can. I have to be in the situation that if the team needs me, I will be ready and prepared for anything.”

To underline the importance of fitness in the testing role, the team asked him to complete a record 176 laps in testing last week at Paul Ricard as the team prepare for the San Marino Grand Prix. “I train constantly and once you have a pace then you understand which areas you need to concentrate on and at the moment, due to the long lap runs that I am doing on the tire programs, my neck is the most important part of me to keep in shape,” Bernoldi concluded. BAR Honda

Montoya a father Montoya a fatherJuan Pablo Montoya may be out of action as a race driver at present due to his tennis injury that forced him out of the Bahrain Grand Prix and subsequent tests in Barcelona and this coming week at Paul Ricard, but this doesn't mean he has had no work at all to do as the Colombian is now a Father.  McLaren Mercedes sent their best wishes to Connie and Juan Pablo Montoya who became the proud parents of a healthy baby boy on Monday. Sebastian weighed six pounds nine ounces and was born at approximately 13.30 AT / 18.30 BST.  Juan Pablo Montoya has yet to be cleared for the San Marino Grand Prix and one would expect the Colombian to undergo a further scan on the injured shoulder next Monday before a decision is taken as to whether he or Pedro de la Rosa will race at the San Marino Grand Prix.  Congratulations to the Montoyas.
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Nick 'surprised' Frank
F1 ancestor revived
PS05 'may not be ready'
'I could've won' - Schu
Girl-racer takes the flag
Pedro's final grand prix?
F1 in Champ Car opener
Quali's 'crap' - F1
Midland to paint car blue
Priaulx to test again
Schu slammed
Industry News
Ford Bonds, Shares Drop After Profit Forecast Cut Ford Bonds, Shares Drop After Profit Forecast CutFord Motor Co. bonds and shares slumped in European trading after Chief Executive William Clay Ford Jr. cut the company's 2005 profit forecast and abandoned a 2006 target he set as part of a plan to revive earnings.

The extra yield, or spread, investors require to buy Ford's euro-denominated 5.75 percent bonds due 2009 instead of government debt jumped 1.54 percentage points to 5.03 percentage points, the highest since the bond was sold in 2003, according to Royal Bank of Canada prices on Bloomberg. The shares fell 5 percent in Germany in reaction to the Ford announcement, which came April 8 after the close of New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

Ford, the second-biggest U.S. automaker, said it expects its auto operations to ``break even at best,'' backing off an earlier forecast of $1.5 billion in pretax profit. General Motors Corp., the world's largest carmaker, cut its profit forecast for the year by more than half on March 16. Both carmakers have been losing market share to Asian competitors including Toyota Motor Corp.

``The Americans are suffering a lot in their domestic market,'' said Nicolas Baudouin, an analyst for Standard & Poor's in Paris. ``These companies are at a great disadvantage because of their retirement and medical benefit commitments to their employees, which weighs enormously on their margins.''

Shares of Ford declined 55 cents $10.48 at 11:32 a.m. in Frankfurt. Standard & Poor's, which rates Ford debt BBB-, one level above junk, on April 8 changed its outlook to ``negative,'' meaning it is more likely to be downgraded than left unchanged. Bloomberg

Brandon Thomas to run Star Mazda Brandon Thomas to run Star MazdaGelles Racing will enter driver Brandon Thomas in the second round of the 2005 Star Mazda Championship this coming weekend in Road Atlanta. Thomas was sixth overall last year in North American Formula Renault Championship while Gelles earned the team championship. Thomas, who hails from London, Ontario, Canada will jump into the #25 Gelles Racing with little testing but a crew that always provides good cars to its drivers.   “We were committed to another series, admits team owner Bob Gelles, and our drivers have been testing for many weeks. On the other hand, we cannot wait anymore and an excellent driver like Brandon cannot stay idle for long. This is why we will be ready to take to the track in Road Atlanta next Friday. Brandon has tested there with success and he will only have to master the extra horsepower from the rotary engine. He is the kind of driver who will simply keeps his head down and works until he can win. This is a challenge for him and our engineers but we’re very confident.”  Without prior experience with the 240 horsepower Star Mazda machine, Brandon faces his toughest challenge yet as a racing driver.  "Through my career I have driven single seaters with less power," admits the 22 year-old. "This weekend is going to be tough because of certain circumstances which necessitated a last-minute decision to race Star Mazda. The learning curve is going to be quite steep. However, I'm going to get used to this car quickly because I like Road Atlanta.  I expect to be doing a lot of overtaking during the race because of this.  My goal for this weekend is to finish in the top ten.”
Kanaan, Wheldon earn DOY nominations Kanaan, Wheldon earn DOY nominationsReigning IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan and his Andretti Green Racing teammate Dan Wheldon are among the first-quarter nominees for the Speed Channel Driver of the Year. Wheldon, driver of the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone and current series points leader, recorded two victories in the first three IndyCar Series events of the year to earn his nomination, while Kanaan, driver of the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda Firestone, recorded three top-three finishes. Wheldon and Kanaan are joined on the fan's online ballot by NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick and World of Outlaws standouts Steve Kinser and Craig Dollansky. The ballot, however, is not limited to the drivers nominated for the fan's ballot. An 18-member panel will select the winner of the award. Fans can participate in voting via an online ballot, located at Speed Channel's web site, www.speedtv.com, through April 20. Results will be released on April 23. At the end of the year, a special separate vote will be held for the Speed Channel 2005 Driver of the Year.
IRL teams gear up for Infineon test IRL teams gear up for Infineon testDario Franchitti has been approached with the question so often he's hearing it in his sleep.  "What's the course like at Infineon Raceway?"   IndyCar Series drivers and teams will have their first opportunity to get acclimated with the rolling terrain and sweeping corners of the 2.2-mile, 12-turn course during an Open Test on April 12-13. The first road-course event in the 10-year history of the IndyCar Series will be hosted by the facility in the scenic Napa Valley on Aug. 28.  Franchitti is the only driver with open-wheel experience at Infineon Raceway, having completed 70 laps in an Indy Racing League compatibility test in November.

"I've never seen a track with elevation changes like this," said Franchitti, who finished third in the inaugural Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 3. "This place is going to be a challenge for drivers. It's a fun, quick track."  Teams will use the same brake and aerodynamic package that worked so well over the three days of practice, qualifying and racing in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

"You hear a lot of the horror stories around street circuits, and I think that's a testament to our technical staff, the car that's been put together, and the quality of our teams and drivers that everything went off so well," IRL president and COO Brian Barnhart said. "They put on what I think in terms of street racing was one of the best street races I've seen. Our ability to do that in our debut event is a great testimony to our technical staff and teams, and I'm proud of them."

IRL senior technical director Les Mactaggart said the smooth transition of the package from oval racing to the street course (and now road course) is a product of development over the past two years. Road-course radiators and sidepods mandated as part of the 2004 update kits helped eliminate any cooling issues associated with taking cars from high-speed to low-speed circuits. Suspension and braking changes also were addressed during off-season testing.

"I don't think I was surprised really because of the testing we had done from December all the way up to the race at St. Petersburg," Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Darren Manning said. "The car's actually been driving and cornering probably better than the Champ car. You know how many years of development they've had for putting them on a road course. But the IRL did a great job of seeing what we needed to put a competitive race out there. The cars are fun to drive."

Mactaggart, with driver feedback and telemetry data available, said development of the package is on-going.  "We did have one mechanical failure, but in motor racing you expect some level of that," he said. "Regardless of series, you want to make the parts as reliable as possible, but you also want to make it as light as possible. Until you get that aspect right, you expect mechanical issues. There are a number of things that cause the failure to occur. So for the very few we faced, we were pleasantly surprised."

Race fans will be admitted free to the test sessions (12:30-4:30 p.m. local time April 12 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. April 13). The main grandstand at the start-finish line will be open, and there will be a driver Q&A session with fans at 11:30 a.m. April 12.

Paul Newman on "Extra" Paul Newman on "Extra"Newman/Haas Racing co-owner Paul Newman will be included in coverage of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach that will air tonight on the entertainment show "Extra."  The show covered NHR sponsor PacifiCare's check presentation to the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps as well as talked to Newman about an upcoming fundraising event for the Camps in New York on April 21.  They also included a link to the website for the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps on their website for more information on how to get involved with the worthwhile charity.  Check your local listings for times.
Long Beach nearly triples St. Pete Long Beach nearly triples St. PeteWhile the IRL fraternity was going gaga over their St. Pete event (which wasn't better than when Champ Car had the event) that drew perhaps 70,000 for the 3-day weekend, Champ Car went about its business in Long Beach of putting on an even better show before a 3-day crowd of about 175,000, effectively dwarfing the IRL's event. Of course both pale in comparison to Champ Car's Mexico City race that draws 350,000 to over 400,000 for the 3-day weekend. Most Champ Car street events easily exceed 100,000 spectators, so to hear the IRL talk about setting a new standard for street circuit races in St. Pete is rather comical. See related ESPN article.
Office Depot to start 2nd ad spot around NASCAR Office Depot to start 2nd ad spot around NASCAROffice Depot’s second spot in a series of ads supporting its sponsorship of NASCAR and the No. 99 Roush Racing Ford driven by Carl Edwards will begin airing this week. The ad will run in a combination of cable and broadcast programming that includes Fox and Speed Channel NASCAR coverage. The new ad, titled “Jack,” supports the company’s rebranding campaign, “Taking Care of Business,” which was introduced in January. The spot features car Owner Jack Roush thinking about how to create successful at-track strategies for his racing teams. In addition to Roush, the commercial features the No. 99 team and defending Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch, also a Roush driver.   "Jack” opens with the No. 99 car speeding around a track and a voice-over saying, “You think lap times. We think laptops. You think of making your engine hum. We think of making your business run.” The ad concludes: “If anyone thinks they can blow by Roush Racing, they don’t know Jack Roush.” Sportsbusinessdaily.com  [Editor's Note:  Recall Office Depot was on Michel Jourdain's Champ Car before leaving and going to NASCAR.]
FIA meeting to go on despite boycott FIA meeting to go on despite boycottThe 'group of nine' won't be there, but the governing FIA vowed to go ahead with a meeting about the 2008 rulebook. It'll be the second such boycott by the boycotting majority. "The meeting will go ahead," confirmed a spokesman for Max Mosley, the much-criticized FIA president. He insisted that the attendance of every team is 'not ... essential' in the rulemaking process, which must be concluded by the end of the year. Last meeting, only Ferrari turned up.
Ferrari wins GT opener Ferrari wins GT openerThe Ferrari 550 Maranello, driven by Portugal’s Pedro Lamy and the Italo-Swiss driver Gabriele Gardel won the first round of this season’s FIA GT championship at Monza. Entered by the French Larbre Competition team, the car crossed the finish line ahead of the Maseratis driven by Bartels/Scheider, Babini/Biaggi, Peter/Buncombe/Rusinov and Bertolini/Wendlinger.
LA Times writer blown away by Champ Car LA Times writer blown away by Champ CarMy guy Sebastien Bourdais — mon ami — took the checkered flag at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday.  Sportswriters aren't supposed to take a rooting interest, but I've never covered someone who had my life in his hands before.  Twelve days before he won the Grand Prix, Bourdais took me and a few other journalists on the rides of our lives around the Long Beach course in a special two-seat car. The simple fact that I lived to write about it made the 26-year-old Frenchman my new favorite driver.

But I had a newfound respect for all of the drivers.  It didn't take long into our test ride, about two turns or so, to realize … you can't do this. It's like hitting .300 against major league pitching or shooting in the 60s on any golf course you encounter, a skill set that belongs only to a select group.  It took all I had just to hold the grips. To actually control the car while your stomach keeps jumping up into your throat and you're pulling five Gs on the turns and the air is rushing by so fast on the straightaway that it feels like your strapped-on helmet will fly off … that's talent.  And remember, one lapse of concentration at 200 mph could mean death. Not some time on the bench for making a dumb mistake, or a stint on the injured list. Death.  That's the most underrated quality of these drivers. Yes, the bravery — maybe even foolishness — gets them in the car, but it's their mental sharpness that keeps them alive. Two laps in the passenger seat was as draining as it was exhilarating for me. They do it for 81 laps over an hour and 45 minutes. More....

'05 Long Beach race sales up '05 Long Beach race sales upThis Press Telegram article says (excerpts), Clear skies, a high of 72 degrees peaking right around race time, a prevailing cool breeze Rick Kasnak couldn't ask for better conditions on one of the most important Sundays of the year for his business.   "It was a good race," said Kasnak, owner of a Hot Dog on a Stick stand near the finish line at the Toyota Long Beach of Grand Prix. "Weather was on our side."

Aside from the "thousands of corn dogs" sold at the stand, "I'd say we went through a couple hundred gallons of lemonade," Kasnak said. Many businesses reported stronger than normal Grand Prix sales, mostly due to the pleasant weather that followed a cold front that sent strong wind gusts sweeping down Pine Avenue on Thursday and Friday.

"The weather helped," said Tecate spokesman Jorge Cornejo.  Sales of the Grand Prix's official beer were up 38 percent from last year, according to figures the company released late Sunday.  The average Tecate stand went through 25 kegs, or 40,000 cups of beer over the weekend.

Thanks to the weather, and plenty of marketing, businesses on Pine and at the Pike at Rainbow Harbor kept plenty of Grand Prix revelers within their grasp.

Downtown bars and restaurants were filled to the brim on Saturday and Sunday nights, with larger than usual crowds also sighted in nearby East Village Arts District venues and Belmont Shore's Second Street.

At George's Greek Deli on Pine Avenue, where much of the restaurant's seating capacity is on its patio, business was solid two out of three days.   "Saturday was good, but Friday we didn't do too well," said owner Demetrios "Jimmy" Loizides, who had no customers in his patio on Friday because of the fierce gusts.

Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center management firm SMG, the primary vendor for the Grand Prix, had more than 20 booths. Ten companies hosting a total of 26 locations, not including Tecate, Coke, King Taco and official Grand Prix merchandise stands, were also present.

"The day went fantastic," said David Carey, Coca Cola Bottling Co.'s area sales center manager. "Over the last several years, we've always had to deal with rain on at least one of the days during the weekend. This year, we had beautiful weather all three days of the race. The initial reading is that we made a significant improvement over last year."  The company's 30-plus stands and individual carriers sold Dasani waters, Cokes and the company's Full Throttle energy drink.

Area hotels were among the biggest beneficiaries of the Grand Prix, travel officials said.  "In talking with hotels, many of them have communicated on how the businesses is at least as strong as last year," said Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the Long Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.  Rooms at the Westin of Long Beach were nearly full all three days of the race, said general manager Ken Pilgrim.   "We're doing very well," he said.

There's one Grand Prix benefit that's difficult to place a dollar value on, said Joe Magaddino, who chairs the economics department at Cal State Long Beach.  "Everyone has a good sense that the Grand Prix has a good economic impact," Magaddino said. "The question you have to ask is, 'What would the city have to do if they actually had to pay for that kind of exposure?" Plus, you're bringing in a lot of out of area expenditures, and that really does give a shot in the arm."

A Kindler, Gentler Tony Stewart A Kindler, Gentler Tony StewartTony Stewart's #20 Home Depot Chevrolet was the dominant car in Sunday's Advance Auto Parts 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway, as it led four times for a race-high 247 laps. But all those laps at the front of the field went for naught when a broken wheel on the 431st circuit around the .526-mile oval spoiled the picture perfect performance. And after leading almost half of the 500-lap race, Stewart had to settle for 26th in the final rundown, seven laps off the pace set by race winner Jeff Gordon. "I can't even describe it right now," said a calm but extremely disappointed Stewart. "I guess the thing I'm proud of is that I'm handling it the way I'm handling it. It's like I told the guys on the radio and again after I got out of the car - we have a lot to be proud of. And when the disappointment goes away, we're going to have a lot of good things to be happy about and look forward to. We're all frustrated about the finish, and that's because we're all competitive. But we rallied around each other in the trailer after the race was over. We're strong, we're a team and we're leaving here with our heads up high. I'm leaving here excited knowing how we ran today."True Speed Communication
Feedback on Long Beach race Feedback on Long Beach raceA reader writes, Great applause for the officiating today, finally! First, the delay of throwing the full course caution around lap 30 until Tracy passed the start finish and allowing Bourdais to pit under green was exactly as it should be. Let them race for first position! Second, excellent job with the yellows! I believe the longest yellow was only 4 laps, with most being only 2-3 laps. Great job guys cleaning up the place and getting them racing ASAP!  My only complaint is not forcing Marshall to move back allowing PT a shot at Bourdais on the final restart, thus setting up an extremely exciting ending. If he was supposed to pit and did not, Marshall should have immediately been told to allow the leaders to pass during the pace lap, not after the restart commenced. It made for a somewhat uneventful ending due to that.

The broadcast was wonderful, especially the opening referencing the history of Champ Car and past champions. More of that throughout the race would be great for the casual observer to "connect" to the heritage of this great series. Derek Daly was great, specifically putting the viewer in the drivers seat as he described what Ranger had to be thinking as he punted his teammate. My only complaint with Daly is that he referred to the cars on track as "IndyCars" once when comparing fuel mileage rates to normal street cars. We just cannot have that at all, especially from the lead commentator. Otherwise, great race, officiating, and vastly improved TV coverage! D. Hughes, Cincinnati, OH.

Another writes, The Los Angeles Daily News had the following quote by Jim Michaelian: 'That verifies the opinion that while there is a hard-core group of fans here that have an opinion on Champ Car vs. the IRL, the vast majority of people that come to this event are intrigued by the activities as well. As a result of that most aren't involved in the controversy of where we are going.'

I find that particularly disturbing. I had always thought that Jim was a solid Champ Car fan. Jim is one hardworking dude. He walks the event constantly from early morning to late into the evening. As a result, we crossed paths three times. Over the years Jim and I have had several conversations ' one in Miami. This year he had a concern about a shift in a Super Photo location and asked for my opinion. I ended by saying 'Oh one more thing, if the IRL shows up here next year, I don't care where you put the location.' He could have said 'Don't worry' or some other upbeat remark ' but he didn't. I must conclude that the IRL is being VERY seriously considered. While there were several thousand party-people wandering around, the stands stayed full long after the end of the Champ Car event. I met people from all over the country who would not return for and IRL event. I think Jim needs to study his demographics. He might also ask his key staff people ' most are solid Champ Car fans! Jeff Skinner, Northridge, CA

Gearbox problem hurts Team Australia Gearbox problem hurts Team AustraliaUPDATE The Australian dignitaries in attendance were happy with the result, given it was the first race. 04/11/05 A gearbox problem two laps from the finish line has robbed Team Australia of a top-10 result at the Long Beach Grand Prix in California. Driver Alex Tagliani was running sixth in the early stages after qualifying in seventh, but fuel mileage issues and an oil leak conspired to halt his charge. Tagliani finished 15th after the oil leak forced him off the track on lap 79 of the 81-lap race.

"It would have been fantastic to end up with a top-10 result," Tagliani said. "Things didn't work out for us at the finish when the gearbox broke while I was running ninth with a couple of laps to go. But overall I am very enthusiastic about our start to the season."

Australian rookie Marcus Marshall finished one spot ahead in 14th in his Champ Car debut. The Queenslander battled a back problem caused by a drink hose that was caught between his back and the seat. "The race went pretty well to plan, but when I got strapped into the car part of my drink hose was behind my back and it really started to hurt after a while," Marshall said. "It will be great to take all that stuff which I now know into the next race. I know where I can improve a lot and will go back now and look at the all the data and look forward to Mexico."

Team Australia is a new Champ Car entry created by veteran team owner Derrick Walker and Australian businessmen Craig Gore and John Fish. The team will test in Portland this week in preparation for the next round of the series in Monterrey, Mexico, on May 22. FOX Sports

Drivers impressed with Long Beach Drivers impressed with Long BeachWithin moments of the end of the 31st Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the drivers were already thinking about next year, hoping they will be at the 32nd edition of the downtown street race.  Race officials said they will make a decision within 30 to 60 days on the future of the event, whether the Champ Car World Series will return for its 23rd consecutive year since replacing Formula One here, or if it will be replaced by the rival Indy Racing League.

"There's not much else Champ Car can do," said Paul Tracy, who has been racing here since 1991 and finished second to Sebastien Bourdais on Sunday. "We put our best foot forward today. It was a great race.  I saw more excitement and enthusiasm from the crowd than I've seen here in a long time. It's probably one of the best races, in terms of entertainment, that Champ Car has put on here."

Bruno Junqueira, who finished third, was particularly impressed that many of the fans in the crowd estimated at 70,000 stuck around to cheer the top three drivers as they took a victory lap around the 1.968-mile circuit on the back of a truck.  "That was the most exciting thing I've seen in my Champ Car career, to have all those people still in the stands and cheering," Junqueira said. AP Story

How about those rookies? How about those rookies?UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, You are absolutely correct, the Champ Car drivers put on a better race than when all those big name wankers who followed the Japanese Yen to the IRL were in CART.  When they were in the series the races were a myriad of yellow flags.   Based on the near flawless performance put on this weekend, it's safe to say this current crop of drivers is better than at any time in CART or Champ Car's history.  The wankers can stay over in the IRL.  Champ Car - Real Racing, Real Sport.  Don Petty, Indianapolis, IN. 04/10/05 Some have questioned our claim that Champ Car's overall talent level this year is perhaps higher than anytime in its history.  When all the so-called "big name drivers" were in the series we used to see practice and qualifying interrupted by red or yellow flags all the time.  So far the first two days in Long Beach this year have run generally error free, but for a few minor scrapes, and they are running faster lap times at Long Beach than anytime in their history despite 150 less HP. Though the first turn tomorrow could see an accident, not uncommon in Long Beach, we expect this new crop of drivers to show their true colors and put on a good show.
Heidfeld impresses team bosses Heidfeld impresses team bossesNick Heidfeld may not have been Williams first choice for their second driver, however, his new team bosses have admitted that he’s impressed them so far.  "Nick has surprised me," team boss Sir Frank Williams said.  "He's a very good racer at the highest level. We're looking forward to seeing him on the podium more often this year."  Meanwhile BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen added: "Nick has exceeded our expectations and made a significant input into our car development.  The fact we are now quicker than during winter testing is partly down to him."
Champ Car ups ante in fight for Long Beach Champ Car ups ante in fight for Long BeachTHE ANTE has been raised in the fight for the hearts and minds of Southern California race fans. The contract for the biggest and most important American race on the Champ Car World Series calendar -- the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach -- is up after today's race and the battle to keep it in the fold took a bizarre political turn yesterday.

Kevin Kalkhoven, co-owner of Champ Car with Gerry Forsythe and minority partner Paul Gentilozzi, reportedly offered to move the factory that produces the Cosworth racing engines -- and the jobs that go with it -- to Long Beach from nearby Torrance, Calif.

Kalkhoven and Forsythe purchased Cosworth from the Ford Motor Company in 2004 to assure the series would have a quality engine supplier for its teams. The caveat to moving the plant to Long Beach is that the city must reject a bid from the rival Indy Racing League, which wants to have its brand of open wheel racing here next season.

IRL owner Tony George already has initiated talks with Dover Motorsports -- the parent company of the Grand Prix of Long Beach -- which holds the contract with the city to promote the race until 2010. Kalkhoven is hoping that his bold move to lobby politicians with the prospect of jobs will tilt the scales in Champ Car's favor.

But that's not the only card that Champ Car has to play. Kalkhoven said that Champ Car has the option of moving the race to downtown Los Angeles -- like the Toronto Molson Indy -- on a temporary street course there.

"In the unfortunate event that we are not back (at Long Beach) next year we know our fans in the L.A. area like to see Champ Car," he told a group of reporters. So we'll hold a race for them (in Los Angeles)."

And he said Champ Car would do it the week before any rival race could be run at Long Beach. But the general assumption in the racing industry is that if Champ Car loses Long Beach it might be the final battle lost to keep the series alive.

Toronto's Paul Tracy has even jumped into the fray. Tracy has won four times at Long Beach and is back-to-back defending champion going into today's race. "(Champ Car) owners must do whatever they have to, to keep the race here," Tracy said yesterday. "They must make their plea to the city and to the organizers. The fans love this race and they come out in force to see it."

A poll published in the Long Beach Press-Telegram yesterday showed overwhelming support for Champ Car -- 85% to just 10% for the IRL. One-time Toronto Molson Indy boss Bob Singleton, who is now the promoter for a Champ Car race up the California coast in San Jose, said yesterday that Long Beach is too important for Champ Car to lose to the IRL. "Long Beach is the cornerstone of the Champ Car series," Singleton said. "It is a race that has been in Champ Car hands for 30 years. For it to go to someone else would be a shame." Toronto Sun

Verstappen turned down offer Verstappen turned down offerJos Verstappen reportedly turned down an offer to drive for 'HVM' in the US' Champ Car category.  The former F1 driver recently tested for the team but missed out, seemingly, to Bjorn Wirdheim and Denmark's Ronnie Bremer.  But Jos, the Dutchman, reputedly revealed that he didn't want to accept a one-race offer and then 'see what happens.  ''(HVM) could not guarantee me the whole season,'' a website quoted Verstappen, 33, as saying.
Drivers get a passing grade Drivers get a passing gradeThis Press Telegram article says, It's called racing. But for some reason, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has been anything but. It's been more like follow the leader. At least until Sunday afternoon.

The Champ Car series had three passes on the track for the lead. That's the same amount of passes made in the previous three years combined. There were passes for key positions; Sebastien Bourdais, running fourth, got inside Paul Tracy late in the race to take the de facto lead; leaders Jimmy Vasser and Andrew Ranger were running out of sequence, and relinquished the lead to Bourdais with 10 laps to go.

There were seven different leaders, the most since the final California Speedway race in 2002. It was the most lead changes at Long Beach since 1998.

There obviously weren't as many lead changes as the Daytona 500, but it was better.

"There were passes for the lead," second-place finisher Tracy said. "It was great racing. It's what people want to see."

Tracy was involved in all of those lead passes. Third-place finisher Bruno Junqueira got by him coming off the hairpin on the second lap of the race when Tracy missed a gear heading down the main straight. Tracy then got the lead back eight laps later when he beat Junqueira to Turn 1 on the race's first restart. Bourdais did it to Tracy on the 32nd lap, again in Turn 1.

"For Long Beach, it's what we wanted," race steward Tony Cotman said. "We were pretty happy." Cotman and many of the drivers say there were several factors to why there were so many lead changes. Enforcement of the blocking rule, the push-to-pass button which allows drivers to add more horsepower for up to 60 seconds in a race the option to use a softer set of tires at certain times, which allow for more grip and speed, and the elimination of the mandatory pit window were cited.

"Everyone was playing fair," Tracy said. "The guys were not blocking. You have the push-to-pass, the option on tires. It mixes it up and offers more variables."

The blocking rule has always been in the rule book, but Cotman says it was stressed to the drivers that if they blocked this time, it would be a costly trip down pit road.

"We really haven't changed," Cotman said of the rule. "We made it pretty clear about blocking. You stick to your line and don't move. If you move, you know your penalty is going to be severe."

In what turned out to be a pass for the lead, Tracy says he could not block. "Sebastien came up on us hard, so there was not a whole lot I could do," he said. "I gave him room and played fair."

Bourdais had switched to the red-rimmed softer option tires. "My reaction was, 'What was that?" he said of the pass. "My reaction was quite the opposite," Tracy quickly rebutted.

In addition to passes for the lead, there were other key passes within the race. Junqueira passed Mario Dominguez and Justin Wilson got by Dominguez in Turn 6 with five laps to go for fourth place. Wilson almost worked by Junqueira at one point late in the race.

"Bruno went sliding wide and I almost had him," Wilson said. "It was good racing." Dominguez said the push-to-pass button came into play in the battle with Junqueira; Dominguez had already used up all of his extra horsepower. "Bruno made a run on me at the next-to-last restart and there was nothing I could do," he said. "Then Justin got by me when I made a small mistake."

Cotman says he does not want to be forced to send someone down pit road. But … "It's a fine line," he says. "We don't want to make judgment calls on something that will affect the outcome of the race. At the same time, play by the rules and there will be no problem. It was a racey race. The field is pretty close. There were people on different strategies. There was passing. There was the red-striped tires that people ran at different times. The rules seem to make for a good fit. It's what we want."

Legge's rags to riches story Legge's rags to riches storyThis Press Telegram article says,  "I feel as though I'm in a dream and I'm going to wake up from it any moment," said Katherine Legge.  Who's Katherine Legge?   She's a feisty lady from Surrey, England who just might have consummated the most unlikely victory ever seen in any of the races staged across the decades in the Long Beach Grand Prix.

I mean, it was less than a month ago that she didn't even have a Toyota Atlantic sponsor, much less a team.

The managing director of Toyota Atlantic, Vicki O'Connor, put in a call to Kevin Kalkhoven in her behalf, and she met with the Champ Car bigwig when he was visiting in England in the middle of March.

"I was impressed with the way she handled herself, and had her fly over to the United States to test drive for Polestar," he said. "I got good reports on her, and decided to sign her up for half the season."

Well, after what Katherine Legge did Sunday — she started in the seventh position and took the lead for good with a mere three laps to go — she need not worry about the PKV Racing-Polestar Racing Group dropping its affiliation with her for Atlantic's remaining 11 races.

"Obviously, she's an aggressive driver with a bright future," said Kalkhoven.

I happened to come across Legge late Saturday afternoon after she had crashed her car during a practice run — and she was downcast.

"I kept telling her even the greatest drivers in the world crash once in a while during practice," said her father, Mark Legge, a real estate developer who flew over from England on Thursday and returned Sunday evening.

"I was pretty down," admitted Legge. "I didn't think there was any way my car would be ready for a top effort by race time. But my team (Polestar) did a tremendous job, worked on it until 4:30 in the morning, and had it in terrific shape.

"This is just unbelievable. Here a month ago I didn't even know if I'd be here racing. And I wind up winning the race. I couldn't ask for anything better than this."

No kidding.

She is the first woman to win an open-wheel race since Desire Wilson did so in 1980 — and is the first one ever to win one in the Toyota Atlantic.

The dimension of her achievement can be measured by the two-year odyssey of Danica Patrick, now an IRL driver for Bobby Rahal, in the Atlantic competition.

She didn't win once, while Katherine Legge did her first time out.

Legge called her mother in Surrey on a satellite phone while on the victory stand.

"My mum was more excited than I was — and I'm about as excited as a person can be," she said. "It's not sunk in yet I've made history, but, hopefully, it will encourage more young girls to get into the sport."

Sunday's race will be hard to equal Sunday's race will be hard to equalThis Press Telegram article says, One doesn't know for sure who will be sanctioning the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach next year or even if it still will be called the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach because one doesn't know for sure if Toyota still will be the race's title sponsor.  But, no matter if it's the CCWS (Champ Car World Series) that is overseeing the affair, or the IRL (Indy Racing League), or the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), or the FBI (Federal Bureau Investigation), or the SPCA (Society Prevention Cruelty Animals), or the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) or any other acronym of distinction, you can be sure there will be a race in Long Beach next April.

But, no matter what banner it will be flying under, no matter what form it takes, the next Long Beach race will be hard-pressed to match Sunday's magic 31st show that featured flawless 72-degree weather, a thrilling main event victory by Sebastien Bourdais, a storybook triumph by a 24-year-old British lady named Katherine Legge in her Toyota Atlantic debut and all sorts of memorable quotes dispensed by celebrities enchanted by the proceedings.

"I just wish this weekend never would end," said Misty May, the gold medal volleyball player and former Long Beach State star who served as the Grand Marshal Sunday and who finished eighth in Saturday's Toyota Pro/Celebrity race. "This has been just an amazing experience. I've enjoyed every moment of it."

"I never realized the enormity of this event," said the one-time Poly High and USC football star, Willie McGinest, who also has been Pro Bowl linebacker with the three-time Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots and rode in one of the pre-race pace cars. "This is the first time I've seen one, and I'm totally impressed. I plan to be back for the next one."

"I thought I was tough until I saw those dudes out there today going down that straightaway almost 200 miles an hour," said Michael Irvin, the former Dallas Cowboys' hero who was a Grand Marshal of the celebrity race. "I have no fear going one-on-one against a man, but these guys go one-on-one against a car. That's not for me. That would scare the hell out of me driving that fast. It's an amazing sight to see."

"This is one cool event," said Cedric The Entertainer, one of the stars of the film "Be Cool" and a visible presence on the grid before the race and in the pit row suites during it. "But I think telling jokes is a little safer than driving those cars."

"Terrific entertainment," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as he departed the scene accompanied by a flotilla of people including the Long Beach mayor, Beverly O'Neill.

The Frenchman, Sebastien Bourdais, also was excited about his victory for the Paul Newman-Carl Haas team that triumphed for the first time in Long Beach since Mario Andretti did in 1987.

For a delightful change, the big race actually had some intriguing duels in it among the drivers, as there were three lead passes — as many as the last three races combined — as Bourdais, Paul Tracy and Bruno Junqueira took turns pulling ahead of one another.

At the end, it was Mr. Bourdais receiving the winning trophy from Beverly O'Neill.

And, at the end, it was Jim Michaelian, the Long Beach Grand Prix's CEO/president, saying, "This has been a very successful week. Perfect weather. Great crowd enthusiasm. Couldn't ask for anything more."

Well, the crowd could have been bigger than the estimated 75,000 — about the same as last year.  And I'm sure Jim Michaelian would prefer not having to respond hourly to questions about what direction — Champ Car or IRL? — he and the Grand Prix's parent company, Dover Motorsports, eventually will take the Long Beach race.

For certain, it will be here again a year from now.   And, for certain, Jim Michaelian — and everyone else who was present — will gladly settle for the matchless weather and riveting drama that made Sunday's event extraordinarily special.

Long Beach races look like a Champ Long Beach races look like a ChampThis Press Telegram article says, Those questioning the stability and viability of Champ Car are advised to skip past the 31st Long Beach Grand Prix and find somewhere else to spin their dogma. You want stability? The cars of the Paul Newman/Carl Haas racing team finished first and third Sunday on a gorgeous afternoon of bonafide racing, Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais winning and Brazilian Bruno Junqueira third.

This is the 23rd Champ Car (aka CART) season for Newman/Haas. Newman/Haas has now won 83 Champ Car races, 24 of them coming in their last 54 races. The first time our galvanizing street race featured Champ Cars was in 1984, the second year of the Newman/Haas collaboration, and Newman/Haas won with Mario Andretti behind the wheel.

And guess who was an owner of the winning Formula 5000 car driven here by racing legend Brian Redman for the first Grand Prix 31 years ago? Carl Haas.

It's going to be awhile before we know whether the Grand Prix will stick with the beleaguered Champ Car series or bite the apple being offered by the Indy Racing League (IRL). The contract between the Grand Prix and Champ Car expired at the end of Sunday's race.

But if a respected, powerful race team that's been around for more than two decades wins the series' premiere event, and the action on the track defines what purists call great racing, and the experts continue to say Champ Car is the superior product, and fans continue to fill the seats and express themselves loudly, which is rarely the case at IRL events, it's a clear vote for the home team.

The best sign, literally, was held up by two fans overlooking the winner's circle. "Hey IRL. Got Crowd?" Paul Newman, the race car driver, owner and fan who has been known to dabble in film, gave the sign-holders a thumbs-up.

"It was a pretty damn good race," he said while waiting for Bourdais to pop the champagne bottle. "We had passing and fights for the lead, and this is a difficult course to pass on. "The best part of the day was the loyalty of the fans. They supported us like they always have."

"I had whole families coming up to me saying please stay with Champ Car," Haas, his trademark 8-inch cigar in his mouth, said after his first win in Long Beach since 1987. "There's a solid fan base here (for Champ Car), and it would be a mistake for anyone to think otherwise.

"Long Beach has been very, very successful, and to tamper with (that success) would be foolish."

Newman/Haas stuck with Champ Car for all of the right reasons. Great names like Bobby Rahal, Chip Ganassi, Marlboro/Penske and Michael Andretti followed the sponsorship money and lure of the Indy 500 to the IRL even though they knew the product wasn't as good.

Newman and Haas love racing. The two owners met competing against each other in Can Ams. Haas has driven or owned teams that have competed in the SCCA Formula 5000 cars, Super Vees, Formula One, and even NASCAR.

They're the only team that has ever won Champ Car series titles with five different drivers Mario (1984), Michael (1991), Nigel Mansell (1993), Cristiano de Matta (2002) and Bourdais (2004).

If the best racing was located in Iraq, then Newman/Haas would have a garage outside Mosul. Sunday's race was one of the best Grand Prix in years. There have been years when the winner has had a bigger name and years when a particular piece of strategy decided the race, but this year's run was dramatic.

Tracy's opinion weighed the heaviest of anyone, because like Newman/Haas, he stuck with Champ Car while many friends defected.

"I've been coming here since 1991 and saw more excitement and enthusiasm from the crowd than I've seen in a long time," Tracy said. "There's strong support here. There's not much else we can do. We put our best foot forward today. Now it's a politics and money fight."

Fans rarely win those. If this was the last Champ Car race here, at least Newman/Haas brought it full circle.

Latest F1 news in brief - III Latest F1 news in brief - III
Kimi on top
Kimi Raikkonen ended last week's Barcelona test (Friday) on top.

McLaren's Finnish star, in wet weather nearly all day, went faster than runners for Sauber, Williams, Ferrari, BAR and Red Bull.

''We are still not at the pace we want to be,'' admitted Sauber engineer Giampaolo Dall'Ara, while Williams - like McLaren - worked on pushing the durable Michelin tire harder.

Also of note were Michael Schumacher in the F2005 Ferrari, and Red Bull's Imola debutant, Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi.

BAR's test chief Mark Ellis commented: ''We've made definite progress, which we'll now continue at Paul Ricard.

''We have also completed greater than ... two-race mileage on three different (Honda) engines, which is a big boost.''

'Not keen' on F1 format
Brazil's Rubens Barrichello is no fan of the current F1 format.

The Ferrari driver said he is 'not keen' on the new-for-2005 aggregate qualifying system, nor the two-race engine rule.

''Everything seems to be working quite well,'' said RB, 32.

''But the two race (engine) rule means we get very little running on Friday and Saturday.''

Barrichello said it's silly that, like in Bahrain, Ferrari fans - for example - only got to see a few Michael Schumacher laps, with the other scarlet car stranded in the pit.

F1 team 'more fun' - Klien
Formula One's Milton-Keynes based team is 'more fun' now that it is no longer called Jaguar.

Christian Klien, who raced in both green (2004) and blue (2005), said the atmosphere 'changed quite a bit' over the winter.

The Austrian youngster told ITV: ''Last year our main sponsor was HSBC - a bank - which was quite formal.

''Red Bull is all about having fun.''

Latest F1 news in brief - II Latest F1 news in brief - II
'Ferrari can catch up'
Ferrari can catch Renault, former triple world champion Niki Lauda said.
The 56-year-old Austrian, however, told 'Kicker' magazine that the Maranello based squad had better get a wriggle on.

''Ferrari need only to fix their reliability, and that is easy,'' he told the publication.

But, with victory only two points better than second, Lauda - former Jaguar principal - warned that the fight may prove 'too hard' to catch 'my friend Flavio Briatore.'

Ask Michael Schumacher, though, and he'll fire back that Renault are not 'unbeatable.

He told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport: ''This slump does not worry me.

''We should be even more competitive in Imola (than we were at Bahrain).''

Teammate Rubens Barrichello, meanwhile, told the newspaper: ''We have a strong car and it is possible to win the title.''

FIA proceed, despite boycott
 The 'group of nine' won't be there, but the governing FIA vowed to plug ahead with a meeting about the 2008 rulebook.

It'll be the second such boycott by the peeved majority.

''The meeting will go ahead,'' confirmed a spokesman for Max Mosley, the much-criticized FIA president.

He insisted that the attendance of every team is 'not ... essential' in the rulemaking process, which must be concluded by the end of the year.

Last meeting, only Ferrari - the only team with a (F1) FIA/Ecclestone commercial agreement beyond 2007 - turned up.

1932 - 2005
Former grand prix driver Cliff Allison, a Briton, has died. The promising pilot, who passed away at the age of 73, had retired with a mere 16-GP record after serious crashes in '60 and '61. He debuted at Monaco (1958) for Lotus, and also drove for Ferrari.

Flav’s 'giving it all up'
When Flavio Briatore sacked Giancarlo Fisichella, the Italian was 'immature.'

Which one? Fisichella. That's according to Briatore.

''He's changed,'' Flavio - Renault principal - told Britain's Sport Telegraph newspaper.

''I had a fight with him (in 2001) and we split.

''We had completely different visions.

''I asked for complete concentration and belief. He thought he was better than he was. I think he was immature.

''Mentally he has changed. He is much stronger and not jealous of (Fernando) Alonso.''

What about Alonso, then? The next drivers' champion?

''Touch wood,'' said Briatore. ''I have to remember (that) five other teams have bigger budgets than us.

''If Renault win the championship I will give it all up and go to live on some island.''

The Hakk is back on black!
Double F1 champion Mika Hakkinen can't wait to return to the racing wheel.

The Finn, who nearly came back to grands prix with Williams or BAR, ultimately plumped for a Mercedes-Benz ride in the 'DTM' tin-top category.

''I just couldn't sit around at home any more,'' the 36-year-old told a German newspaper.

Some said Mika, who nearly died in an Adelaide shunt a decade ago, gave up F1 in 2001 because he no longer was prepared to take the racing 'risk.'

''I know there is a risk,'' Hakkinen replied, ''and accept it.''

Mika also opined about compatriot Kimi Raikkonen's much-reported over indulgences.

''He's a young man,'' said the so-nicknamed Flying Finn, ''who I think sometimes has his fun in the wrong place, wrong time.''

Latest F1 news in brief - I Latest F1 news in brief - I
Ferrari on way back
Depending on whose side you're on, fear not, or be afraid -- Ferrari's coming back. At the end of the Barcelona test with F2005, Rubens Barrichello predicted that the scarlet marque will be 'pretty much okay' from Imola on. ''Renault and Toyota are doing very well right now,'' the Brazilian admitted, ''but now everything is falling into place. ''We're still the same team who won all those championships.'' Work or no work, though, conventional wisdom says Ferrari - and tire supplier Bridgestone - is simply looking forward to Europe's cooler weather. RB admitted: ''There is an element of truth in that assessment.'' Ferrari will test at Mugello and Fiorano this week.

JV, Sauber, head for split
Sauber and Jacques Villeneuve are enduring a 'strained' partnership. That's not the claim of some gossip-mongering website, it's the admission of Hinwil owner and principal, Peter Sauber. ''The partnership ... is currently at a difficult point,'' the Swiss conceded to Reuters. ''To keep from straining (it) any further, I prefer not to make further comment.'' Villeneuve, the Canadian and 1997 world champion, was spotted arguing with Sauber engineers at last week's Barcelona test before he was stood down and replaced by Felipe Massa. It's understood that, in the Swiss 'Blick' newspaper, Sauber refused to answer whether JV, 33, would race beyond Imola. Villeneuve, meanwhile, although admittedly slow, said the rumor mayhem is 'out of control. ''But we're used to it. It won't affect our work,'' he said in a rare personal statement.

'Expect another outburst'
Expect another outburst if Jenson Button's BAR-Honda breaths fire at Imola, 'CEO' Nick Fry warned. He said world champions like Michael Schumacher don't reach the top by being Mr. Nice Guy. ''We've had lots of conversations about this,'' Fry - asked about the English driver's Malaysian temper tantrum - revealed. He told The Sunday Mirror: ''Guys like (Michael) look you in the eye and say I want to succeed -- this is what you must give me. ''(JB's) ... outburst in Malaysia was completely understandable.'' Fry also admitted that Brackley would like to keep Button - reportedly Williams-bound - 'for the rest of his career. ''That would please us immensely. I have told him to be patient and promised him (that) we can still win this year.''

New Minardi 'shakedown'
Minardi's all-new PS05 contender will on Friday debut at the Mugello (Italy) test track. Ahead of its grand prix entrance at Imola, the car is to be piloted for the 'shakedown' by Christijan Albers. ''It will be an important day and a special moment for us,'' the young Dutchman said in a statement issued by albersf1.com.

'Toyota face speed-bump'
Imola could be the first major glitch in Toyota's stellar season start, Jarno Trulli admitted. The Italian podium-man said April 24's San Marino grand prix is a 'question mark' for the Cologne-built 'TF105' car. ''It is a very difficult, technical circuit,'' Trulli, 30, noted. Mike Gascoyne's red-and-white racer will, though, wear another updated bodywork kit on the circuit named after Enzo Ferrari and his son Dino.

No Champ Car TV in Mexico No Champ Car TV in MexicoTV was a disaster in Mexico for the Long Beach Champ Car race. Tv Azteca in Mexico did not mention Champ Car at all this weekend and they did not broadcast the race as they were supposedly contracted to do. On the other hand, Roshfrans sponsored the highlights of the race in "La Jugada" where they talked about Champ Car what it is... etc. Also, there was more news about Champ Car on televisadeportes.com than TV Azteca's web site. With the next race being Monterrey, what a disaster for the Long Beach race to not be televised. Hector Serrano reporting from Mexico
Seen at Long Beach Sunday - III Seen at Long Beach Sunday - IIIFans at Long Beach were very vocal about their distaste for the IRL. Not only were anti-IRL signs hanging up everywhere on Sunday, but when we were chatting with Les Unger and Jim Aust from Toyota a fan came by and said to the Toyota guys, "Don't you go bringing no IRL to Long Beach." The turnout Sunday was spectacular and for Dover to turn their back on that would be surprising. In addition Champ Car is making a lot of key moves to lay a solid foundation for the future. The Chinese, Korean and Japanese dignitaries in attendance were awestruck by the whole event. Champ Car is going to be an international powerhouse in a few short years.
A lot of lead changes at Long Beach A lot of lead changes at Long BeachDefending champion Sebastien Bourdais of Newman/Haas Racing picked up the first victory of the 2005 season with a win at the famed Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  Bourdais came out on top in an extremely competitive race marked by an unusually high 11 lead changes (an unusually high number for a street circuit) and was followed across the finish line by Forsythe Championship Racing’s Paul Tracy and Newman/Haas teammate Bruno Junqueira.

Bourdais played his alternate tire strategy to perfection, pulling away from Tracy and building a large lead in his second stint on the alternate specification Bridgestone Potenza race tires.  Despite running the final stint on alternate tires himself, Tracy was never able to fully recover that time and finished 4.128 seconds behind Bourdais.

“The Bridgestone tires, especially the alternate tires, gave me a great help,” said Bourdais.  “They were very quick up to speed, even though I pushed a bit too hard on them and they fell down at the very, very end.  They were still very good, and I was able to pull away from PT (Paul Tracy).  The regular tires were also very good at the end for me, so I was very happy with that.”

Ruhlman wins Trans-Am race Ruhlman wins Trans-Am raceRandy Ruhlman got the first win of the 2005 Trans-Am season today at the Cytomax Challenge at the Grand Prix off Long Beach. Ruhlman, third in the Driver's Championship last year, got the win, his first, by starting on the outside front row of the grid for the 45-lap race on the street course in the Preformed Line Product/ COYOTE® Closure Chevrolet Corvette. This is the first win in Trans-Am for Chevrolet since 2002, when Butch Leitzinger won in a Corvette..

The race began with a tight squeeze at turn one with Pickett, Ruhlman, Gentilozzi, Drissi, and Said all trying to get the jump. Ruhlman in his147th Trans-Am start gave way to a charging Paul Gentilozzi, bumping side by side with NASCAR driver and 2003 Trans-Am Champion Boris Said. Gentilozzi eventually took Pickett for the lead with Ruhlman tightly following. Later, ALMS veteran Klaus Graf charged forward taking the lead for 6 laps before he went off and ended his day. Under pressure from Pickett and Ruhlman, Gentilozzi hit the wall on lap 36. Ruhlman took the lead from former Trans-Am Champion Greg Pickett on lap 40 and went on to win by a 3.4 second margin.
A hard fought race A hard fought racePaul Tracy thought this year's Long Beach race was hard fought.  “I’ve raced a lot here at Long Beach and that was one of the most hard-fought races I’ve ever run.  We saw some lead changes and lots of passing, and this isn’t the easiest place in the world to pass.  We were fast on the first stint but for some reason as the race wore on we didn’t get faster as the track came in and got more rubber on it.  I also accidentally pushed the pit speed limiter coming out of the hairpin when Bruno (Junqueira) got by me, but I used Push to Pass on the restart later and got him back.  Finishing 2nd is a little disappointing after starting from the pole but we’re definitely on the pace this year and things look good for the rest of season."
Attendance up at Long Beach Attendance up at Long BeachUPDATE #2 Long Beach Grand Prix Association's Jim Michaelian would not comment on an exact attendance today, but did say the crowd was up. "There were so many people watching the race from the promenade and from restaurants on big screen TV's while the cars zoomed by outside, it was hard to gage an exact number until we tally all the tickets. We don't build quite as many grandstands as we used to, but people have found new ways to attend the event, enjoy all that it offers, but watch the race from the comfort of a nearby restaurant or bar." With that said, Autoracing1.com has been coming to Long Beach for many years. Our estimate is about 90,000, even though the NBC TV broadcast said over 100,000. The attendance was up significantly over last year, everyone agreed about that. 04/10/05 "All we can say is we're very happy with the crowd that was out there today. It looked very nice," said Chris Esslinger, a spokesman with the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. The association does not release crowd estimates. Press Telegram 04/09/05 A big crowd showed up Saturday at Long Beach on a Chamber of Commerce weather day. The attendance was visibly up from last year. Although no official numbers were released, it appeared to be close to 60,000 for Saturday.
Tracy impressed with Champ Car rookies Tracy impressed with Champ Car rookies“I also should mention how impressed I am with this year’s rookie crop.  Everybody drove with their heads up and we didn’t see many crazy incidents today.  As some of these new guys get a little experience I think we’re going to see some new faces showing up at the front of the field.  This is as deep a field as we’ve had in this series for a long, long time, maybe the best ever.”
Tidbits from Long Beach Tidbits from Long BeachSebastien Bourdais won the 11th race of his career Sunday, moving him into a tie with Cristiano da Matta for 18th on the series all-time victory list.
Seven different drivers led laps today, marking the first time since the Fontana race in November of 2002 that a Champ Car race has had seven different leaders.
Paul Tracy’s podium finish was the 63rd of his career. He is two podiums away from tying Emerson Fittipaldi for 10th on the all-time list.
Bruno Junqueira scored his seventh consecutive podium finish today, making him the first driver since Rick Mears in 1981 to string together as many as seven straight podiums.
Andrew Ranger became the second-youngest driver ever to start a Champ Car race when he took the green flag in today’s race.
Seen in Long Beach Sunday - II Seen in Long Beach Sunday - IIMovie star and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger seen taking in all the action before a huge crowd at today's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Attendance was up a significant percent over 2004 with almost all seats occupied and 4 and 5 deep along the fences and hanging off of nearby balconies.


More news on Champ Car’s China race More news on Champ Car’s China raceLate yesterday, in what can only be described as a historic moment for a U.S. based racing series, Champ Car World Series officials led by Series Co-Owner Kevin Kalkhoven and Team Owner Paul Newman signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with (BSAM) Beijing State-owned Asset Management Company Chairman Li Aiqing as the prospective promoter for a Champ Car race in Beijing China starting in 2006. 

Last month Champ Car announced the first step towards securing a race in Beijing by signing an agreement with the Beijing Auto and Motor  Sports Association which is the only Beijing Government designated agency allowed to approve races for Beijing. Champ Car also identified Goldenport Motor Park as the location for the race up to the 2008 event. Goldenport is the first national privately-owned race circuit in China.

Team Owner Paul Newman, who to the delight of those in attendance ceremonially signed the MOU for Series Co-Owner Kevin Kalkhoven, said; “This is a magnificent day for Champ Car and great example of the vibrancy and health of the World Series.  We have a new and dynamic partner in Beijing State Asset Management Company and look forward to working with them on bringing the excitement of Champ Car racing to the Chinese public.”

BSAM Chairman Li Aiqing stated, “Beijing will be hosting the 2008 Olympics and the Beijing Auto and Motor Sports Association who earlier signed an MOU with Champ Car, both officially communicated for BSAM to proceed with this Champ Car MOU as a means of bringing strategic world class sporting events to the City of Beijing.  Specifically, we are working with the Beijing Sports Bureau to build Beijing into the sports capitol of China and to be recognized world wide as a leader in hosting international sports events.  We believe the Champ Car World Series will provide Beijing and China with a platform for tremendous worldwide exposure leading up to the 2008 Olympics.  The race will also allow BSAM to leverage our investments in the Olympic facilities by integrating the race into the Olympic Park for the years after the Olympics.  Finally, we believe Champ Car will be a great, long term partner for BSAM, our prospective sports subsidiary and the City of Beijing”

BSAM will act as the holding company for a new subsidiary tasked with managing and promoting world class events for Beijing. 

Series Co-Owner Kevin Kalkhoven commented:  “This is the next major step in the Champ Car strategy to bring open wheel racing to the Pacific Rim markets.  BSAM lead by Chairman Li Aiqing is a dynamic company focused on growing business relationships through investments in China.  The business to business possibilities are endless and will yield tremendous sponsorship opportunities for the Beijing event, our team owners and the Series.  Companies from around the world desiring to expand their brands into Beijing and China now have a vehicle in Champ Car to do so.  We are honored to have BSAM as a new Champ Car partner and look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship for years to come.”

Champ Car executives have been working over the last year on establishing new footholds in the Pacific Rim markets.  Ansan, Korea will be holding their first race this year in October followed by the traditional blockbuster event at Surfers Paradise in Australia. 

Champ Car President Dick Eidswick commented; “This is a huge day for Champ Car and just another indication of the positive strides being made by our organization to reenergize our series.  The Beijing race is another major step as we build our balanced schedule of U.S. and international races.  Our company is energized by the news.”

RuSPORT’s number 10 Car driven by 2004 rookie of the year A.J. Allmendinger will be featuring the Beijing 2006 logo on the side of his car for today’s race, signifying the new relationship.  RuSPORT owner Carl Russo said; “we are thrilled with the opportunities that will present themselves through this new partnership with BSAM and the City of Beijing.  We are also honored to have been chosen to have the Beijing 2006 logo on A.J.’s car.  I know A.J. will do his best to show Beijing in a positive light for China.”

Katherine Legge wins in debut race Katherine Legge wins in debut raceDanica who? An epic battle on the streets of Long Beach ended with a history-making win for rookie Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing) as the talented British female racer captured the checkered flag in the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama season opener on Sunday.

Legge, a 24-year-old who hails from Northampton, England, started seventh in her Atlantic debut but she rose quickly through the field and took advantage of a late technical problem by race leader Rocky Moran Jr. (#5 King Taco/Trench Shoring) to seize her first series win. With the victory, Legge becomes the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America.

“What a fantastic race and I’m just so happy for my team. They did an unbelievable job,” said Legge, who joined Polestar Racing Group in March. “I don’t think this has quite sunk in yet.”

The win by Legge capped a brilliant race by the 19-car Toyota Atlantic field, comprised mainly of rookie drivers. Legge’s Polestar teammate Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design) started from the pole in the 32-lap Imperial Capital Bank Challenge for the Toyota Atlantic Championship (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel - Saturday, April 16 at 2 p.m. ET). Bessette was able to stay clear of an incident at the green flag that involved Andreas Wirth (#8 KBE/Profine/Wurges Windows and Doors), who started second, and Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK ind./TMI/Redline Oil), who lined up sixth at the start. Wirth was forced to retire as a result of the contact while Kasemets lasted 15 laps before his day was done.

Moran, the California native who made his fifth career Atlantic start at Long Beach Sunday, moved up from fifth position to the second place by the eighth lap. Despite running a C2 class entry that features pre-existing Atlantic equipment, Moran ran up front with the championship-class competitors all weekend.

Legge and Brazilian rookie Fernando Rees (#10 Bahia/Natal/Santa Catarina) got together in Turn 1 on the 12th lap and Rees, who started third, got the worst of the exchange as he was forced to park his car as a result of the contact. Legge continued on, although it appeared that her car suffered slight damage. The Polestar team hoped that Legge’s machine wasn’t too negatively affected as they had spent much of the night fixing the car after the young Brit hit the wall during Saturday qualifying.

Everything turned out to be fine on Legge’s entry as she settled into an entertaining and tight chase up front with Bessette and Moran. All three drivers took turns leading the race in the final seven laps. With just three laps remaining, Moran was out front but facing heavy pressure from both Legge and Bessette. A mechanical problem forced Moran into the runoff area in Turn 1 as his dream day ended in heartbreak, just a few miles short of his third career series victory.

Legge was there to pounce after Moran’s misfortune but she continued to feel the heat from her teammate. Bessette kept closing on his Polestar partner but with a nifty bit of driving Legge managed to fight back the charge, winning by just .507 over the St. Bruno, Quebec racer at the finish line.

European racer Charles Zwolsman (#11 Condor Motorsports) completed an emotional rollercoaster of a weekend by finishing on the podium in his series debut. Zwolsman’s car failed post-qualifying technical inspection Saturday after he
appeared to capture the pole position in his first Atlantic race. After starting from the back of the field due to the infraction, Zwolsman ran an incredible race, moving steadily up through the field to finish third for Condor Motorsports.

Established sports car veteran Chris Dyson (#16 Thetford/Norcold) also turned in a good performance as he carded a fourth-place finish is his first Atlantic street race. Local driver Justin Sofio (#15 Bare Elegance/Valley Ball) won the C2 class for the second straight year as we wound up fifth overall. Sofio, who hails from nearby Arleta, California, led all eight C2 entries this weekend.

Dan Cobb (#9 Camelot Construction) also had a strong debut, finishing sixth overall and second in the C2 category. In the seventh position, Dan Selznick (#49 The Room Store) recorded his best career Atlantic result while rookie Kyle Kelley (#24 UP Racing.com/Pauline's Antiques/Toyota of Huntington Beach/T. Christy) made his first series start and wound up eighth for McAtee Motorsports. Rookie Mark Ishikakawa (#71 Bay TSP) crossed the line ninth as Ishikawa Racing made its maiden Atlantic voyage and Moran wound up 10th in the final rundown.

Legge will carry a slim one-point lead in the championship over Bessette (32-31) into the second round of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama.  The Atlantics return to the track May 20-22 in Monterrey, Mexico at the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix.

Rossi wins season opener in Spain Rossi wins season opener in SpainValentino Rossi has won the season-opening Spanish Grand Prix after a controversial collision with title rival Sete Gibernau on the final corner of the final lap, which sent the then race leader into the gravel trap.  With 4 laps to go, Gibernau and Rossi were still nose-to-tail and literally in a different class as they pushed each other, and their machinery, to the very limits. If either was to break away, it would have been before then and as such it was clear that the heart-stopping battle would only be settled on the last lap, or perhaps the last corner of the last lap.
Quality over quantity Quality over quantityEven though there's only one Mexican driver this season, having this one driver have a great qualifying day on Saturday returned Champ Car to the first page of the sport pages in Mexico. It's not about quantity in Mexico, it's about quality. Mexican fans prefer one Mexican doing good than having 5 at the back of the grid. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico
Seen in Long Beach Sunday - I Seen in Long Beach Sunday - IBriggs and Stratton has replaced Autobytel on the Ryan Hunter-Reay car. The two companies will rotate days on the car throughout the year depending on the market. DHL will be on the Glock car starting in Monterrey. Deutsche Post Speed Academy wanted to be on the car for Long Beach because Glock is a graduate and this is big news for them.
Long Beach TV ratings doomed now Long Beach TV ratings doomed nowUPDATE #3 Another reader adds, The Chicago Tribune list today's race as IRL, I called to complain the guy in the sports dept said that they get the listings from the TV networks and they listed it the way NBC told them to list it. Go figure it's the same network that had Paul Newman come on the Tonight Show and made it look like a cheap infomercial while Jay used the IRL having Gen. Powell as the pace car driver for a joke on President Bush on the same night. Tony Thomas, Cicero IL 04/10/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, In addition to the Austin, TX and USA Today papers, the Cincinnati Enquirer also lists The IRL Grand Prix of Long Beach being broadcast today at 4 pm on NBC. I'm normally not conspiracy minded, but it does make you wonder if the IRL PR machine has been working on this (although, to be fair - unlike the IRL - it makes more sense that newspapers get the schedules from a wire service or other main feed source. Still......). Rich McGuigan, Florence, KY Another writes, With regard to the TV listings showing the Long Beach Grand Prix as an IRL event .... I smell a rat! Admittedly, pulling off something like this with a publication the size of USA Today is hard to imagine, but we have already seen what lengths the dark side will resort to in an attempt to derail Champ Car's resurgence. Is this their idea of subliminal advertising? Ron S., Washington, MO We suspect a news feed got it wrong and a lot of newspapers used it unknowingly. Mark C. 04/10/05 In the sports section of the Austin, Texas newspaper, it too gives the TV listing for the IRL Grand Prix of Long Beach. 04/09/05 USA Today Friday had the listings for what's on TV during the weekend. For Sunday under the motorsports section it reads.
Indy Racing League, Indy Car Series, Grand Prix of Long Beach, 4:00 pm, NBC.

With the IRL being so unpopular, hardly anyone will watch the race now.

Toyota will stay in Long Beach regardless Toyota will stay in Long Beach regardlessAs you might have heard, Toyota's contract with the Long Beach Grand Prix expires at the end of the year, which is, coincidentally, when the Long Beach Grand Prix's contract with Champ Car also expires.

There has been widespread speculation that Toyota, which now plays a vital role in the rival Indy Racing League by supplying its engines, will abandon its Long Beach sponsorship, but Unger doesn't envision that happening.

"We have every intention of extending our title sponsorship," says Unger. "We definitely want to continue our association with Long Beach. This is an important area to us with our corporate headquarters down the road in Torrance and the major port of entry for all the Toyota cars right here.

"However, one of the things we're going to have to wait on is word from Dover Motorsports (parent company of the LBGP) to see what direction they're going to go with the Long Beach race. We'll review their recommendation to what they would like us to do."

You get the distinct impression that Toyota doesn't plan to give up its Long Beach affiliation no matter what direction Champ Car or IRL Jim Michaelian and the Dover Motorsports people eventually choose to take the race.

You also get the distinct impression that Les Unger would be heartbroken if he weren't around any longer overseeing the proceedings of his beloved celebrity race that has become one of the most popular fixtures of the Grand Prix. Press Telegram

It would be ironic It would be ironicBlick quoted Peter Sauber as saying "Villeneuve is guaranteed for the April 24 San Marino GP, but not for the Spanish race two weeks later."  It would be very sad and ironic if  Imola was to be JV's last race, as it was his father's last race before being killed in practice for the Belgian GP in 1982.
Scramble continues at Long Beach Scramble continues at Long BeachThe media guide for the 2005 Champ Car World Series season has biographies on four drivers who don't have jobs and is missing bios on two drivers who do. Some drivers met their crews for the first time this weekend. Others climbed into a Champ Car for the first time when practice opened Friday for the season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. And only Newman/Haas Racing, the marquee team in the series and defending champion, has the same two drivers and primary sponsors it had to end the 2004 season.

But don't tell Kevin Kalkhoven, the Australian billionaire who has emerged as the driving force behind the series, that the late scramble to put a full field together is a sign of weakness. The only thing that matters, he said, is that the series' second season under new management begins today with reason to believe its troubled recent past doesn't have to extend far into the future.

"Everything we said we'd do, we're doing," said Kalkhoven, who with fellow team owners Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi purchased the assets of a bankrupt CART in January 2004. "We're actually ahead of where I thought we would be at this point."

Kalkhoven points to a 19-car field (a gain of one from last season), a 14-race schedule with three new events and half on network television, a stable rules package and a loyal fan base as signs the series is regaining a foothold.

"It's not the struggle that some people seem to think it is," he said. "Proof of that is the turnout we get at our events. Any struggle is more in people's minds than the reality."

Still, Kalkhoven can't deny the reality of an upcoming fight to hang onto Long Beach, which since 1984 has been the jewel on the schedule. The contract expires with today's race and the rival Indy Racing League is eager to move in.

While conceding it would be a blow to lose the race, Kalkhoven said it's not do-or-die. "Would it be a disappointment? Yes. But would it affect the survival of our series? Absolutely not," he said.

Despite all the off-season shuffling, the driver lineup is deep and talented, starting with four former series champions: Sebastien Bourdais (2004), Paul Tracy (2003), Cristiano da Matta (2002) and Jimmy Vasser (1996).

Young Americans A.J. Allmendinger, 23, and Ryan Hunter-Reay, 24, are budding stars, as is second-year British driver Justin Wilson. Bruno Junqueira, championship runner-up each of the past three years, Mario Dominguez, Oriol Servia and Alex Tagliani are proven veterans. Among the rookies, Germany's Timo Glock, Denmark's Ronnie Bremer, Sweden's Bjorn Wirdheim and Canada's Andrew Ranger bring impressive credentials.

All teams have the same equipment -- Cosworth engines, Lola chassis and Bridgestone tires -- which owner Derrick Walker sees as a plus because it showcases the drivers over the manufacturers. "We lucked into a formula that works. I wouldn't change it anytime soon," he said. "You can't have growth without competition. Good racing is what fans want to see. The high-tech evolution of the cars, I don't think, matters much anymore."

Da Matta, who is teaming with Vasser on the PKV Racing team co-owned by Kalkhoven, said the field is much stronger than the one he conquered in 2002 before an ill-fated foray into Formula One. "Back then there were five or six guys running strong," he said. "This year, I see more like 10 or 12."

Jim McGee, lured out of retirement to serve as general manager at PKV, likes the direction the series is headed. He gives credit to an ownership group that is willing to invest in the product.

"We had success with CART back in the early '90s, but things started going away when the company went public," said McGee, who has a record 89 wins in his 47-year career. A lot of owners took the money and ran. Now, as a private company, the owners aren't so self-serving. They're looking out for their business."

To convince skeptics of its viability going forward, Champ Car needs a period of stability, starting with hanging onto Long Beach and continuing with keeping its lineup intact long enough for the teams and drivers to build an identity. "Certainly, there's a lot of visible signs of life around here," Walker said. "But the real challenge is in what we do next." Indy Star

LB newspaper backs Champ Car over IRL LB newspaper backs Champ Car over IRLThe high-pitched, high-decibel whine of race-tuned engines again dominates downtown Long Beach today in the 31st running of the Toyota Grand Prix. Race fans thrill to the sound.
We use the term loosely, because most of us in the crowds of thousands are race fans only once a year. We are caught up in a raucous three-day festival of music, food, drink, exhibitions, exhibitionism, motocross, something called "drifting," and of course the races.

It's a heady experience, and a grand way to show off Long Beach's increasingly healthy and handsome urbanity, at the edge of the beautiful Pacific. Below the surface of the festival, beyond the recognition of most revelers, this year there is another competition as fierce as those fought in the street races.

The Champ Car overseers of the Grand Prix, who barely brought the organization out of bankruptcy in time to pull off the race last year, are struggling to head off a bitter rival, the Indy Racing League, which is bidding to take over the race.

Champ Car has been romancing the officials at City Hall in hopes that public officials, who actually have nothing to say in the matter, will influence the local organizer of the race, the Long Beach Grand Prix Association, to renew the race contract. The romance appears to have worked for at least three City Council members, Laura Richardson, Rae Gabelich and Tonia Reyes Uranga, who, as it turns out, had enjoyed an outing to San Jose on the Champ Car private jet; the three poured praise last week on the race company for its 21 years of service to the community.

Romance notwithstanding, the praise was deserved. Also, the competing Indy Race League, which owns the venerable Indianapolis 500, has a lot of racing experience but little so far in street races like the Grand Prix.

But this will be a business decision. You can expect a battle of the checkbooks between two billionaires, one Australian (Kevin Kalkhoven, co-owner of Champ Car) and the other American (Tony George, owner of the Indianapolis 500).

Which would be better for Long Beach? The Australians, though new to Champ Car ownership, are the known commodity, the more colorful entrepreneurs, and present themselves as the more likable.

But again, this is a business, and not ours to run. The Grand Prix Association, which certainly has proven itself over the years as premier promoters, entrepreneurs and race managers, holds the master contract. It, and parent company Dover Motorsports, get to make the call.  If they make that call in the best interests of Long Beach, it will be in their company's best interests as well. Not to mention us race fans, though we use the term loosely. Press Telegram

Toyota Pro Celebrity
Crashes mark Pro/Celebrity race Crashes mark Pro/Celebrity raceCrashes, careening cars and a Canadian were the stories dominating Saturday's second full day of racing at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  With a boisterous crowd tens of thousands strong lining the street course, throwing cheers at heroes ranging from a towering NBA star to an Olympic beach volleyball player, and continuing sunny skies keeping turnstiles clicking, the Grand Prix settled some key business during a rather hectic, dramatic day.

In the first showdown at noon Saturday, two new champions were crowned in the annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, an event that saw its fastest qualifier from Friday, and the pole sitter, plow into the tires lining the track on the very first turn of the race.

But then "General Hospital" star Ingo Radamacher nearly resuscitated his racing life, making a methodical but stirring comeback from last place to rally into contention, only to end the race as he began. With a crash.

With pro racer Rhys Millen easily en route to a victory in his category and the overall race, the battle was over who would be the celebrity victor. Olympic swimmer Aaron Peirsol was in the lead, with Radamacher in second.

But Peirsol smashed into the tires at Turn 8, and like a bug drawn to light, Radamacher followed him in.  That allowed "Malcolm in the Middle" star Frankie Muniz to suddenly jump from third to first and win the celebrity crown.  "Aaron and Ingo were about four seconds ahead of me," Muniz said. "I saw smoke, so I knew one of them crashed. I just took it slow and got by them." Press Telegram

Boris Said motors to Trans-Am pole Boris Said motors to Trans-Am poleBoris Said won the pole Saturday for Sunday's Cytomax Challenge Trans-Am race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Said, in the No. 33 Applied Computer Systems Ford Mustang, recorded a 1:22.406-minute lap (85.974 mph) to earn the pole. Said earned three bonus championship points and unofficially takes the lead in the Trans-Am Championship.

Tomy Drissi qualified second in the No. 5 Sahara The Movie Jaguar XKR and earned one bonus point, ahead of teammate Paul Gentilozzi (No. 1 Jaguar R Performance XKR). Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette) and Greg Pickett (No. 6 Cytomax Jaguar XKR) completed the top five.

Said will start fifth tomorrow due to the Fast Five Qualifying® format, which inverts the top-five qualifiers.

"We only ran four laps," said Said. "The grip just wasn't there today. The inversion this year adds a new twist. We talked about sandbagging a little bit, but that's just not the way I race. I go as fast as I can go no matter what. Every Trans-Am race at Long Beach has been the most exciting race of the weekend. This should be another exciting race.

"It feels good to be back in Trans-Am," added Said. "These cars are a lot of fun to drive. The next five weeks are a dream for me. I'm going to try to qualify for the NASCAR Nextel Cup race next weekend at Texas. Then I go to the Nürburgring the following week to run a four-hour race with BMW. Then I go back to Nextel Cup at Talladega. Finally, the following week I run the 24 Hours of Nürburgring."

Gentilozzi said he was trying to use the Fast Five inversion to his advantage.

"We hung back a little bit, trying for fifth," said the five-time Long Beach Trans-Am winner. "We thought we had the right time, but then Boris went out and set a really fast time for the amount of grip out there. We're happy with our starting position, behind Randy (Ruhlman) and Greg (Pickett). The race should go our way."

Labonte wins truck race Labonte wins truck raceBobby Labonte passed Chad Chafin in the latter stages of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Kroger 250, and went on to take the checkers at Martinsville Speedway. Ricky Craven finished second with Ron Hornaday, Jr., Todd Bodine, and Chafin rounding out the top five.
Mario Andretti to co-host Wind Tunnel Mario Andretti to co-host Wind TunnelUPDATE #2 Reminder that this show airs tonight (Sunday night) on SPEED Channel. 04/05/05 Reminder for Champ Car fans that want to ask him where he stands with Champ Car - Racing legend Mario Andretti will be the in-studio co-host of Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain this Sunday (9 p.m. ET) on SPEED Channel.  Sunday's Wind Tunnel also will feature an interview with the winner of the season opening Champ Car World Series race from Long Beach.  Viewers can send MAIL questions to windtunnel@speedtv.com NOW or call 1-866-W-TUNNEL from 9pm-11pm ET Sunday nights to be a part of the LIVE call-in portions of the show. 03/27/05 Racing legend Mario Andretti will co-host the April 10th edition of Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain to air from 9 to 11 PM EST.  The featured guest will be the winner of the Grand Prix of  Long Beach.  The 1/2 hour Champ Car season preview will air on SPEED Channel at 3:30 PM April 2nd as previously reported.
McGee on Wind Tunnel with Andretti McGee on Wind Tunnel with AndrettiUPDATE Reminder this show will air tonight (Sunday) on SPEED Channel. 04/08/05 The most renowned crew chief/team manager in open-wheel racing today, Jim McGee is lending his vast experience to the PKV Racing Champ Car team of Jimmy Vasser and Cristiano da Matta this year in the role of general manager.  McGee will be a featured interview on Wind Tunnel this Sunday, April 10th. Mario Andretti, who earned 34 career victories with McGee, is Guest Co-Host. Don’t miss it!
Bessette first Quebecan since 1993 on pole Bessette first Quebecan since 1993 on poleAntoine Bessette mastered the Long Beach urban track Friday and Saturday and will start the maiden race of the 32nd season of the Toyota Formula Atlantic championship from pole position Sunday morning. The 22-year old driver from Saint-Bruno, Quebec, was the quickest man in the practice and the first qualifying sessions yesterday, earning himself one championship point and a front-row start. Saturday, he was second quickest but pole sitter Charles Zwolsman’s car was found illegal and official pole position was awarded to Bessette.   No Canadian since 2002 had clinched pole position: that year, Michael Valiante started from first place. Last pole from a Quebec driver goes a long back to Jacques Villeneuve (son) in 1993 while last victory was that of Alex Tagliani in 1999.
Formula Drifting
Drifting a big hit with Long Beach fans Drifting a big hit with Long Beach fansThe Drifting exhibitions in Long Beach have been a big hit.  In many grandstands there were as many fans late in the day watching the drifting show as there were during qualifying and the fans were going nuts.  There is real electricity in the air again this year in Long Beach.....and it's not just for drifting.  The entire Champ Car paddock is stoked.


Champ Car TV news in Brazil Champ Car TV news in BrazilIt looks like RedeTV! will broadcast all the Champ Car races live except the Long Beach, South Korea and Las Vegas races. SporTV will broadcast Long Beach. Emerson Fittipaldi (owner of the Brazilian Champ Car TV rights) made a deal with a cable channel called SporTV. SporTV will broadcast Champ Car races as part of a TV show called Grid Motor and they will be live. In addition, RedeTV! will continue broadcasting Champ Car live (except Korea and Las Vegas) but they won't broadcast tomorrow's Long Beach GP live, it will be taped delayed until next weekend. Emmo made this announcement on SporTV's Linha de Chegada show, where he talked about his career, Champ Car and the new series called Grand Prix Masters. He said he intends to be back as a Champ Car team owner in 2006.
Tagliani gives Team Australia fantastic start Tagliani gives Team Australia fantastic start“Qualifying seventh is a fantastic start for Team Australia," said Alex Tagliani. "We obviously would have liked to be a little faster, but this program is very new and I am extremely enthusiastic about how everything has come together.  ”I am confident we can improve our position in the race tomorrow because this team has a history of good strategies and the guys have been working hard on their pit stop practice. I had a little bit of understeer on the option tire which hurt my lap time a little, but the biggest problem was trying to find a clear lap.  ”Every time I was on a hot lap, I kept finding traffic. At one stage I got held up badly by Junqueira as he was coming out of the pits on sticker tires – that certainly didn’t help. But overall the car is good and we have a long race tomorrow so I am sure if we are there at the finish we will be in great shape.”
Dyson does better 2nd time around Dyson does better 2nd time aroundOn the palm-lined streets of sunny Long Beach California, Chris Dyson qualified the Thetford/Norcold Dyson Racing Toyota Atlantic car in the fourth starting position.  In only his second Atlantic race weekend, Chris has been on pace all weekend on the premier street course in America. “Our first Atlantic race weekend at Portland last year was very much a learning experience,” reflected Chris.  “We knew coming into this year that it would be tough to do well here so we really prepared hard in the off-season and I think the qualifying effort here today is reflecting that and I hope the race is an extension further still.”
Glock top rookie Glock top rookieTimo Glock opened some eyes in the off-season with some top test times before he signed with Rocketsports.  He made good on his preseason form by qualifying 6th in Long Beach despite sitting out the fastest 2nd half of the session.  He is the top rookie qualifier.  "Qualifying wasn't too bad for us today. The car was difficult to drive yesterday but this morning we did a long run in practice and I was able to develop a rhythm. We also found a good setup during the practice and during my first run we were really good. On my last lap on that run I hit the wall which changed the toe (tire alignment) on the left rear of the car."
Bourdais’ streak ends at 15 Bourdais’ streak ends at 15Until today, Sebastien Bourdais started in the top-three the past 15 races dating back to the 2003 season-finale in Mexico City.
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