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Formula BMW
Moon and Soulet lead Gelles Racing at CMP Moon and Soulet lead Gelles Racing at CMPFormula BMW USA teams held their last mandatory testing at Carolina Motorsport Park this weekend with 21 drivers taking to the track for the last time prior to the start of season in two weeks at Laguna Seca. All cars were subject to scrutineering by the BMW USA technical staff; transponders were distributed to all the participants as a dry run in advance of the first race. Gelles Racing had four drivers completing their pre-season program and working with engineers Trygve Rangen and Cristian Kissling. This time, two Gelles drivers went out to set the best times. California rookie and BMW scholar Justin Moon mastered the 2.235-mile, 15-turn facility ahead of stable mate Maxime Soulet from Belgium finishing Saturdays three timed sessions positions 1 and 2 respectively according to BMW USA unofficial posted times. Both drivers anticipate the start of the season at the end of the month.

“What a way to end our training camp! beamed team owner Bob Gelles. Justin (Moon) was outstanding this weekend, coming back from challenging sessions at VIR. Maxime (Soulet) remained strong every time out: he is the kind of driver that always comes out to perform. And remember he has to learn every track like any rookie. I’m also happy with Darin (Marcus). His work off the track reflects on his performances and I think he will soon bridge the gap with the front-runners. Newcomer Canadian Ryan Campbell is improving steadily after joining us less than two weeks ago in Virginia. His attitude is very positive and finished Sunday with very respectable times.” Gelles Racing

Tickets price break in Monterrey Tickets price break in MonterreyUPDATE Tecate is promoting the 2005 Monterrey Champ Car race with billboards that have different beautiful female models on the track, and in big letters they have "For the fans of curves." Jose Arrambide 04/18/05 Today starts the open sale of tickets for the Champ Car race in Monterrey. Jorge Lozano, director of the event, announced that this year tickets will be a little bit cheaper as a way of saying thanks to the fans for their support in the 5 years of the event.  He also announced that they are waiting for the confirmation on Roberto Gonzalez, who may drive in the event.  They are confirming 4 support races, Pickup Trucks, T4, Formula Renault and Clio Cup.  Tickets range from $17 USD to $109 USD José Arrambide reporting from Mexico
Industry News
Drive The Mile deemed a success Drive The Mile deemed a successThe Milwaukee Mile opened it’s pit gates Saturday, April 16 to allow race fans to drive their personal vehicles around America’s Legendary Oval. The third installment of “Drive The Mile” was a great success, raising donations for two worthy organizations. Under sunny skies, an estimated 200-plus race fans and car enthusiasts drove their own vehicles, from minivans, to motorcycles, to vintage modified stock cars. Non-perishable food donations for the Hunger Task Force were collected as a portion of the admission to drive three laps around the historic speedway.

Admission to drive personal vehicles on the track also included the purchase on April 16 of a reserved seat ticket to a 2005 Milwaukee Mile event. Dozens of race fans who had already renewed their race tickets elected to submit $14, which in turn purchased a race ticket donated to Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Milwaukee to the speedway’s Friday night, June 24 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. In addition, all monies collected from the sale of Krispy Kreme doughnuts & coffee went to the Hunger Task Force.

“Wow, what a great way to get our fans involved!,” exclaimed Mark Perrone, Vice President / General Manager of The Milwaukee Mile. “I think everyone really enjoyed themselves. What made it special was the participation of the Grand National Vintage Racing group, the support of our partner Safro Motorcars, the Milwaukee Police Department’s talking squad car and all of the car clubs who participated.”

The first event weekend at The Milwaukee Mile is June 3 and 4, featuring the “Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 presented by U.S. Bank” Champ Car World Series race, the stock car teams competing in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, and the introduction of Formula Drift competition to the Midwest. All feature events will take place on Saturday afternoon, June 4, a shift back to daytime racing after two years of nighttime Champ Car racing. For information and tickets to all four event weekends, including season tickets, visit www.milwaukeemile.com, or call The Milwaukee Mile ticket office at (414) 453-8277.

IRL teams pack for Japan IRL teams pack for JapanRemember that move into your first "real" apartment? How about the transit of exponentially more possessions to your second house? Remember that strain and stress? Sorry to have hit a nerve.  Anyone who has made a major household move can appreciate Indy Racing League  senior director of operations John Lewis' attention to detail for the IndyCar Series' third trip to Japan for the April 30 Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi.

The logistics and paperwork of a 13,000-mile roundtrip move of more than 420,000 pounds of equipment - everything from race cars to the sanctioning body's technical inspection station -- is mind-boggling. Oh, and throw in the 14-hour time difference and customs clearances.

"I actually divide my season in two halves," said Lewis, who will direct the loading of two chartered Nippon Cargo Airlines 747s this week at Indianapolis International Airport for the trip to New Tokyo Airport (Narita Airport) and subsequent move to the facility three hours north.  From Jan. 1 to getting back from Motegi is one half, and then the month of May starts my second half. Once I get the Japan race over, it's really a different mind-set. If you forget to take something to the race in Kentucky, it's not that important."

Constricting the schedule was last week's Open Test at Infineon Raceway in northern California. Most team haulers returned to their bases by April 15. That gave crews two days to transform the cars from their road-course packages to oval aerodynamic and brake packages and load them for the jaunt to the airport.

"We'll have the same challenge on the download side due to the closeness of opening day (May 8) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," Lewis says matter-of-factly. "Teams should have everything back from clearing customs on May 4 and manufacturers on the 5th. All they should have to do is change the motor and change to the Speedway trim. Hopefully, they'll get a day off."

IndyCar Series teams will deliver their pre-packed containers for inspection at Indianapolis International Airport on April 20. Cars are loaded two-high onto specially built 18- and 10-foot pallets and secured by team and IRL personnel. All containers are verified for weight and checked against the team's manifest.

The freighters have a maintenance stop in Anchorage, Alaska, before heading across the Pacific Ocean. After cargo is unloaded and trucked to Twin Ring Motegi, it will clear customs and be available for teams to unpack.

"We're in a bonded area at the racetrack, so you clear customs when you leave the U.S. and you clear Japan customs at the track," Lewis said. "Everything goes back to Japan customs in that same configuration to come back and clear customs here. Everything that came must go; it will come out the same way it came in."  Lewis certainly hopes so for the third leg of this four-part adventure in moving.

Aikman/Staubach team still looking for funding Aikman/Staubach team still looking for fundingThe Hall of Fame Racing Team, led by former Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, still is struggling to get sponsorship for a team to race next season. Aikman, who was co-grand marshal Sunday, said the expense of racing in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, is staggering. "There are some contracts that got put in place with NASCAR that have been prohibitive for us and others that are trying to get sponsorship," Aikman said. "But we're continuing to go forward, and we're very hopeful that something will happen real soon." He suggested controlling spending. "It's a competitive business, and that's one of the real concerns for NASCAR right now," Aikman said. "I know in the NFL they have salary caps, and I think something should be addressed when it comes to sponsorship for NASCAR teams." Dallas Morning News
Bourdais called best ever Bourdais called best everDave Marcis, the veteran stock car driver who now is the key setup driver for IROC, was quoted as saying that "[Sebastien] Bourdais (pictured right) is the best I've ever seen in an IROC car. The best." Yahoo Sports [Editor's Note: As we have been saying, the current crop of Champ Car drivers is the best ever.  For a Champ Car driver to go into a strange car on a strange track and put on the performance Bourdais did on Friday says a lot about this young man.  Champ Car produces some great drivers because a Champ Car is not an easy beast to drive.  The problem in the USA is that the majority of motorsports journalists are so blinded by NASCAR's popularity they forget to look at drivers in other series.  Sure NASCAR drivers dominate IROC, because they are essentially NASCAR cars on NASCAR tracks.  Put the NASCAR drivers in a Champ Car and see how they perform.  You will find they have a steep learning curve.]
Ferrari kicks off Monza test Ferrari kicks off Monza testFirst day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro at the Monza circuit. Luca Badoer was in action today, with an F2004 M at his disposal. The technical program for the session centered on Bridgestone tire development and engine testing. Badoer ran for the entire day on a track modified with the addition of two chicanes. A total of 463 km was completed. Luca Badoer continues testing at this track tomorrow. Ferrari
Michael Shank tests Patterson and Negri Michael Shank tests Patterson and NegriMichael Shank Racing was back in action last week, preparing their second Daytona Prototype entry (MatlinPatterson-sponsored # 60) for the next round of the Rolex Sports Car Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with drivers Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri getting familiar with their Lexus-powered Riley during two days of testing in South Carolina.  Despite battling inclement weather, the team made a lot of progress, working through several stages of development work and establishing some all-important chemistry between the crew and the drivers.
It was a bit of a reunion for the team and Negri, who partnered with Burt Frisselle during the 2004 season and scored two podium finishes on the way to taking sixth in the championship standings for the Michael Shank Racing squad. For Patterson, the test was a chance to get to know the team and become more familiar with the Riley-Lexus package after having raced in this year’s Rolex 24 in a FABCAR-Lexus.
“These test days knocked a lot of needed chemistry, mechanical steps and basics out of the way,” said Patterson. “Oz sets an incredibly high bar for me to match, but he also is fantastic at helping me get there,” said Patterson. “We spent a lot of time studying data and he is just tremendous at getting the most out of a car, and out of me as a driver. We all got down to serious business right away and the test has raised my confidence enormously for the outcome at Laguna.”
For his part, team owner Mike Shank was happy with the progress the team and its new drivers made during the test.
“It was great to be working with Oz again, and he of course was up to speed right away,” said Shank. “Even though the weather didn’t really cooperate with us, we got through a lot of what we wanted to accomplish with the car, and Mark just kept getting faster every time he went back out, so we were happy to get the running in that we did, despite the rain. The Laguna weekend is a big one for the team, and this test did a lot to boost our confidence as we get ready to head out to Monterey.”
Street racing in Buenos Aires Street racing in Buenos AiresUPDATE From our Buenos Aires contact - It is not true to say that it would cost less to run a GP on the existing Autodromo. After visiting the circuit it is clear that the investment to put it back to F1 (or Champ Car for that matter) standards would be unreasonable. A Champ Car race in the streets of Puerto Madero would be an outstanding event which would be affordable to the City, i.e. it would pay for itself, and the total economic impact would go a long way beyond, not counting the television/tourism effect. The likely cost of an F1 race on the track in Buenos Aires would make it impossible, at least in the mid-term future. The Champ Car possibility is still very much in the works for next year, but as in all political situations, they have to adapt almost on a day-to-day basis. You know why it hasn't happened yet, but the organizers still have full support from all concerned in the city and they are just waiting for the proper timing to get this rolling again. 04/18/05 [Editor's Note: This article is of interest given our extensive reports of a possible Champ Car street race in Buenos Aires. We can't disagree with the author that it probably is less expensive to upgraded the old F1 track than to build a street circuit each year. However, a downtown event has many advantages for the race fan, but a 1.5 -mile track is so Mickey Mouse small that you limit passing and the number of grandstands you can erect. At 2-miles, Long Beach sets the standard as a minimum length for a "proper" street circuit. They pass at Long Beach just fine.] Formula 1 has always enjoyed visiting Argentina. Even in the darkest days of military government in the 1970s Formula 1 was an annual fixture at the Autodromo Oscar Galvez in the Parque Almirante Brown. The race only died after the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982 and it was not revived until 1995. Until 1999 the race was a popular venue but then the country ran into financial trouble and the race disappeared. The recession was a prelude to the country's economic collapse in 2001 which left Argentina struggling with record debt levels and rapid devaluation of the currency. In 2003 President Nestor Kirchner negotiated a vital deal with the International Monetary Fund and began to promote growth and recently he has restructured the national debt, offering new bonds to replace those on which the country defaulted. The economy is improving and the government is beginning to look at new ways to promote growth. In 2003 Vice-President Daniel Scioli met Bernie Ecclestone to discuss the possibilities of a race in Argentina. Obviously that meeting did not interest the Argentines as in 2004 there was talk of a Champ Car race on the streets of Buenos Aires. That has not happened yet but the track design company D3, run by Australian former racer Ron Dickson, has worked on a project for a 1.5-mile circuit in the downtown area.

Although Buenos Aires used to hold races in Palermo Park in the 1940s these were replaced in 1952 by the purpose-built Autodromo 17 October. This would later become known as the Autodromo Municipal Oscar Galvez and it is still used in various different forms today as the track has a large number of variations of circuit, including the Curvon Salotto track, which is long fast blast around a lake. This section was not included in the F1 track in the 1990s.

Funding a street circuit makes little sense given the resource that already exists as the costs of preparing downtown each year are unlikely to be less than upgrading the facilities at the Autodromo when one takes into account the cost of creating the circuit infrastructure and them putting it in place each year. Upgrading the Autodromo, however, would create the possibility for the Argentines to go off and do a deal with F1 once again. Grandprix.com

Kendall’s bitterness Kendall’s bitternessA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I was watching Tommy Kendall on Wind Tunnel last night and was somewhat shocked by his point of view on the Champ Car/IRL unification talks. I have always been a fan of Tommy Kendall both as a driver and a commentator on CART/Champ Car broadcasts. I was very surprised by his comments, that Tony George created the IRL because he didn't want his race (the Indy 500) messed up by the owners in CART, he certainly didn't need their help he screwed it up and open wheel racing all by himself. Tommy seemed to side with TG and blamed the split on CART (both sides were guilty as Robin Miller pointed out). After hearing about his experience with Champ Car series owner, I just got the impression that TK's presence on Wind Tunnel was a forum to let the world know he is bitter and let this cloud his judgment. This appearance certainly couldn’t have helped Tommy gain any fans or have any team owners beating the door down to give him a ride. John Swope Dear John, Everyone can sense Tommy's bitterness. As we understand it, Paul Gentilozzi needed the money and had to replace Kendall at the last minute with a pay driver, which left Kendall without a ride in the 11th hour, hence his bitterness in that it was then too late for him to find another ride. Some speculate that he was cut loose by some negative remarks he made about Champ Car last year, if we recall, during the Portland race broadcast. Criticizing the spoon that feeds you in a public forum usually doesn't sit too well with management. That stuff belongs behind closed doors. Mark C.
Panoz gets first GT2 win Panoz gets first GT2 winThe day could not have been more perfect for the exciting conclusion of the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta where Panoz Motor Sports finished on top of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 class podium for the first time.

The No. 50 Panoz Esperante GTLM piloted by Bill Auberlen and Robin Liddell managed to edge out the team of Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3. This ends the seven-race Porsche win streak that began at Infineon Raceway in 2004.

Starting from the front of the GT2 field as a result of the first Panoz GT2 pole position set by Auberlen, the Panoz Esperante GTLM led all but 43 minutes of the two-hour and 45 minute race. Liddell successfully blocked the No. 23 Porsche for the last 10 minutes of the sprint to the finish until Bernhard tapped Liddell's right rear bumper sending him into a spin. Bernhard was immediately black flagged by IMSA for a stop and go penalty, ultimately giving the lead back to the No. 50. The Esperante was credited with a 27.5 second margin of victory.

On site at Road Atlanta for the win were Don Panoz, founder of the ALMS, and his son, Dan, President of Panoz Auto Development (makers of the Panoz Esperante consumer sports car).

"This is the culmination of hard work and preparation," said Don Panoz. "The credit goes to the team for their sincere dedication to building a successful racing team. The fact that we are at the top of the podium is incredible and the win is shared with all of our partners especially Pirelli. I could not have asked for a better (70th) birthday present!"

Even Colin Powell can't help open wheel racing Even Colin Powell can't help open wheel racingSecretary of State Colin Powell arrived at the Speedway on Saturday morning with a few Chevy executives in tow.  Security was tight, and visitors taking a behind-the-scenes tour were not allowed on the track. What they did get to see, though, was Powell taking that red Corvette for a few turns at close to 100 mph. Considering Powell's distinguished career in diplomacy as secretary of state, would he ever take on the task of trying to mend the Indy Racing League/Champ Car differences?   "I only negotiate on matters I know a lot about," he said with a laugh. Indy Star
Sellout crowd in Texas Sellout crowd in TexasThere was a sellout crowd estimated by race officials at 211,000 for Sunday's Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.  Now do you understand why they dropped their 2nd IRL race and added a 2nd Nextel Cup race?  It will be interesting to see if the speedway now builds even more grandstands.  Steeper and higher is the Bruton Smith way.
NASCAR getting tough, disqualifies Sauter NASCAR getting tough, disqualifies SauterJohnny Sauter's No. 1 Dodge was disqualified from Saturday's O'Reilly 300 after his car was found to have an illegal carburetor in post-race inspection.  NASCAR said that Sauter's team, owned by James Finch, would not be included in the results and would not receive points or prize money.  Sauter finished 14th, but his team was randomly selected for inspection. During the tear-down, his carburetor found to be too large.  "Total disqualification. It was too big," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR's VP of Communications. "We think this penalty fits the circumstances. This one was obviously illegal."  NASCAR said they were not tipped off that Sauter's car might be illegal.  The move comes three weeks after NASCAR warned teams that continued rules violations would escalate into stiffer penalties.  On Sunday, NASCAR made good on their promise. It is unclear when the last time a driver was disqualified in this fashion. NASCAR.com
Industry News
MIS Renovation Project reaching new heights MIS Renovation Project reaching new heightsUPDATE The largest renovation in the history of the Michigan International Speedway is on schedule and should be ready for the first race weekend of the season in June, officials said Thursday.  The changes along the front stretch of the track include a new skylounge area with more seating and a redesigned entrance.

"That's why I'm not in construction," joked Bill Janitz, Director of Public Relations for MIS, standing with other track officials in the midst of the unfinished structure. "You look at this and think 'There's no way...' and then you realize they've got two months to go. They've had some great weather the last couple of weeks and have made a lot of progress."
Work progresses on the new skylounge structure, which towers about 110 feet above the start/finish line at Michigan International Speedway. The track also is adding a new suite and club above the grandstands and is renovating its entrance. 

The project will include a reconfiguration of the front stretch area and a AAA Motorsports Fan Plaza, which will include new ticket gates, new vendor and display areas and several concession stands. A completely rebuilt suite/club structure will fit just below a newly expanded press box, which extends 110 feet above the track.

"We wanted to redo the entire front door so race fans have even more reason to come early and stay late," said Brett Shelton, MIS President. "We are extending the start/finish line out (to the front gate), but when you add the trucks and the merchandise (tents) in here, it will be packed."

The plaza will feature a "Legends Walk" with a tribute to many of the MIS past champions. The merchandise and display areas will be moved away from the ticket gates allowing fans more room to enjoy the additions.

The suite/club area will hold 16 suites, 870 Champions Club seats, timing and scoring area, broadcast facilities, and race control for use by sanctioning bodies. The project raises the seating capacity at the track to 137,243 for the racing season that begins Father's Day weekend June 17-19.

Despite only being in the skeleton stages, the suites are already sold out for the season, Janitz said. Champions Club seats cost $425 for the entire weekend, Shelton added.  "We wanted to build on the Champions theme here at MIS -- to celebrate the Walk of Champions out front," he said.  Fans who purchase a Champions Club package will have access to an indoor entertainment area, including a dining area, private restrooms with food and bar.

The new 16-suite skylounge will sit high atop the existing seats at the start/finish line. It will feature two levels above the Champions Club.  The project is on track to be completed in time for the season opening NASCAR/Nextel Cup Series event the weekend of June 17-19. Lenawee Connection 

02/03/05 Anyone who has driven past Michigan International Speedway lately will notice an exciting new look, as the largest renovation project in the history of MIS is starting to take shape. The elevator shaft has been erected, and the Champions Club seating level and suites are being constructed, along with plenty of work on the future Motorsports Fan Plaza. The project is expected to be completed prior to the season-opening weekend at MIS on June 17-19, featuring the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and ARCA RE/MAX Series.

The renovation project includes a reconfiguration of the frontstretch area into an exciting Motorsports Fan Plaza, which will include new ticket gates, new vendor and display areas, several new concession stands, and a new suite/club structure high above the main grandstand near the start/finish line. A new suite/press box structure will hold 16 suites, press box, 870 Champions Club seats, timing & scoring area, television and radio broadcast area, and race control for use by the sanctioning bodies.

Also on February 12, along with options to purchase tickets and camping at MIS, Champions Club seats will also be available for purchase. The club seating level will sit high above the existing grandstands at the start/finish line. The amenities of the Champions Club include twenty-inch wide outdoor seats with in-seat waiter service, and access to an indoor entertainment area. The indoor area includes access to the club via elevator, an air-conditioned dining area, private restrooms, and lounge area with several food and beverages options.

“We’re excited about the progress of renovation project and we can’t wait for them to complete the new Champions Club,” said MIS Director of Ticketing John Moreland. “While we have a limited number of Champions Club seats available for both NEXTEL Cup Series races, we will also have options for great grandstand seats as well as some very popular camping options.”

Stewart burned but OK Stewart burned but OKSidelined with a blown motor that erupted in flames on lap 297. Mike Arning, PR spokesman for Tony Stewart released this: "Tony has some first degree burns. There is a small burn on the lower back of his right thigh that's about the size of a fist. The other area is on his right elbow. It's about half the size of the one on his thigh, and it's more like a bad sunburn. Both are minor burns which he'll treat on his own in the coming days." GM PR 

After leading twice for 45 laps and making his presence in the top-10 known during much of Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, Tony Stewart's day ended in a blaze, sans the glory. On lap 297 while in eighth, the engine in Stewart's #20 Home Depot Chevrolet grenaded, sending flames up through the shifter boot and into the cockpit. Stewart maintained control and brought his smoldering ride to the backstretch apron of the 1.5-mile oval as quickly as possible, extricating himself once the car came to a stop. Track safety crews were immediately on the scene, helping Stewart from his car before transporting him to the HCA Infield Medical Center. There, Stewart was treated for first-degree burns on the lower back of his right thigh and right elbow. The area on his thigh was about the size of a fist, and the area on his elbow was about half that size and akin to a severe sunburn. Stewart was treated and released from the care center in good condition. "It just let go without any warning," said Stewart after leaving the care center. "There wasn't a vibration or anything. It just went." JGR/True Speed

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
F1 row into high gear
Fisi in rainy Rome
Perfect PS05
New BAR to debut
Now Trulli's a Dad
Spaniard in Ricard run
Heidfeld will race
Desperate for a win
Spanish sell-out
'A1 v. F1'? - Surtees
Friesacher to test PS05
Gil won't test BAR car
Schu and DTM
Advantage Fisichella
Kahne wins Saturday Busch race Kahne wins Saturday Busch raceKasey Kahne passed most of the field on the high side of the race track, but went to the bottom of the oval for the winning pass and captured the O'Reilly 300 Busch Series race at the Texas Motor Speedway Saturday. The No.38 Great Clips Dodge driver crossed the finish line 0.304 seconds ahead of runner-up Greg Biffle, who won Sunday's Nextel Cup race at the track.
Barros wins in Portugal Barros wins in PortugalAlex Barros, the fastest man in qualifying, took his first win of the year, capitalizing on the misfortunes of long-time race leader Sete Gibernau in the Portuguese GP today.

Gibernau fell while leading on lap 17, a victim of the ever-changing track conditions on the first few corners. Mid-race rainfall brought about the first use new regulations, with riders either obliged to continue or pull into the pits to use their spare bikes, with wet tires already fitted.

Valentino Rossi took second place, pushing Barros in the final few laps, but still some 2.771 seconds down at the flag. He now leads the championship by seven points, from Barros.

“It was a very difficult race but with a very good ending for us”, said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. “Although the conditions were difficult, thanks to low ground temperature, some wind and then the rains, we found really good solutions. Nearly all the riders chose the same rear and that is a sign that you have made something that works well. For the front Alex used a hard tire, different from the others. He seems to like a hard front tire and even that worked in the rains. In these circumstances the race time means little but if you look at the pace the leaders set at the beginning, and the pace of the first two laps, none of our riders suffered on the cold track. Last year our closest competitor was second, and it was a big shame for Tamada-san not to be able to participate. Without the crashes we would have had even more riders in the top positions, but of even more importance our nearest competitor was over 29 seconds behind. That's a huge difference.”

With Barros and Rossi going 1-2, Max Biaggi earned third, shadowing Rossi almost throughout, and only ahead of his fellow countryman for three laps of the 28. Marco Melandri was the fourth Michelin rider in the top four, coming out best in a long battle with faller Colin Edwards, who remounted to finish sixth.

“It was a really tricky race”, stated Barros. “When the rain first came I gave up for a lap, then when it came on more heavily at the end of the straight Sete lost the front. The first and second corners were really, really tricky, but I could not relax because Valentino kept pushing me, he closed the gap a lot, so I had to push more to make the gap.”

Rossi, happy with second in these conditions, said “To make it worth changing bikes we need more water on the track, because you lose too much time coming into the pits; maybe 40 or 50 seconds. So we needed to continue with slicks, and riding a MotoGP bike on slicks in the wet is not the greatest feeling! But I take home 20 points, which are very important for the championship.”

Fisichella wows Rome crowd Fisichella wows Rome crowdGiancarlo Fisichella impressed the crowds in Rome this afternoon with a live F1 demonstration around the Circus Maximus in the Italian capital.

Two thousand years ago, the fastest machine at the Circus Maximus was a four horsepower quadriga, which battled wheel to wheel in the most prestigious Roman chariot race of all. This afternoon, in the heart of modern Rome, the city’s F1 gladiator Giancarlo Fisichella unleashed nearly nine hundred of his own horsepower as he demonstrated his Renault Formula 1 car to wowed onlookers, making twelve laps of the 1.2 km track that wound around three sides of the world-famous venue.

“I have always dreamed of doing something like this in my home city,” enthused Fisichella after the runs, which attracted a large crowd of 25,000 spectators in spite of heavy rain. “Thank you to all the people who came down to see the Roadshow, even though the weather was not perfect. It was a special day for me to have my family, friends and fellow Romans come to watch this demonstration. I hope they enjoyed it!”

The Renault F1 Roadshow brought its own brand of F1 to Rome as part of a season-long series of city demonstrations that will be held throughout Europe. Weather conditions at Sunday’s event were poor, with heavy rainfall through the day, but even this could not dampen the enthusiasm of the Italian crowds – 25,000 of whom braved the conditions in the Eternal City.

It is fantastic to bring F1 to the people in this way,” commented Renault F1 Team Managing Director Flavio Briatore. “For Renault and the Renault F1 Team, one of our goals is to take our sport close to people who would not normally think about going to a race, so they can see how spectacular F1 can be. The City of Rome brought fantastic collaboration to make this event happen, and I want to thank everybody who came to see the Roadshow in spite of the weather today. They all helped to make this an event to remember for the team and the city.”

The Renault F1 Team’s sights now turn to the San Marino Grand Prix, to be held at Imola next weekend. “We go there expecting to be strong,” concluded Briatore. “We know our rivals have been working hard, but we are not standing still either. The team will be expecting to get our cars onto the podium.”

ALMS adds another sponsor ALMS adds another sponsorThe American Le Mans Series (ALMS) added to its growing list of internationally renowned corporate sponsorships with its announcement today naming Slime® the "Official Tire Care & Repair Sponsor of the American Le Mans Series."

"When my surfing buddy Jeff Bucknum, invited us to our first race, I was astonished by how downright cool American Le Mans racing is," said Rodney Cegelski, executive vice president of Slime. "With its expert drivers, high quality vehicles and endurance racing, it is no surprise that the ALMS is the fastest growing racing series in the world."

Cegelski continued, "ALMS fans know quality. They know performance and they're not cool with second best. That pretty much sums up our philosophy at Slime. It's only natural we support the ALMS and the way I see it, our product is a lot like one of their events - try it once and you're hooked. Fans of the ALMS are really into their vehicles. We want to be into their vehicles also, through our assortment of great products."

"There are few things that give me more pleasure than being involved with all of the announcements regarding all the new corporate entities that are choosing to become involved in the American Le Mans Series," said Scott Atherton, ALMS President and CEO. "The addition of Slime, our eighth new sponsor in the last six months, clearly indicates that affiliating with the ALMS means something special and is providing the type of return on investment that corporations seek. We look forward to our new relationship with Slime and all of its high quality products."

Slime also announced today that it has become a sponsor of the Miracle Motorsports race team. Miracle Motorsports, based in Winter Haven, FL, will campaign its LMP2 Courage C65 throughout the entire 10-race 2005 ALMS schedule, as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The SLiME logo will be featured on the race car driven by Chris McMurry and Jeff Bucknum. In March, Miracle Motorsports won its second consecutive Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring by the largest margin ever in LMP2 class at the historic race.

British F3
Fog at Spa cancels both F3 races Fog at Spa cancels both F3 racesBoth British F3 races at Spa this weekend had to be cancelled due to fog.
German DTM
Alesi wins season kick-off at the Hockenheimring Alesi wins season kick-off at the HockenheimringBehind the wheel of his AMG-Mercedes C-Class, French DTM ace Jean Alesi won the 2005 DTM season kick-off at the Hockenheimring, with Bernd Schneider and Gary Paffet (both AMG-Mercedes C-Class) finishing second and third respectively.  116,000 spectators attended over the 3-day weekend.
Barros grabs pole in Estoril Barros grabs pole in EstorilAlex Barros continued to set the pace at this weekend's Portuguese Grand Prix by taking pole position at Estoril.   The Brazilian, fastest in practice on Friday, had a best lap of one minute 37.202 seconds on his Camel Honda.  He was 0.127secs clear of Spain's Sete Gibernau, still nursing a shoulder injury. Carlos Checa was third fastest.   Checa edged out title holder Valentino Rossi. James Ellison was 17th, with fellow Briton Shane Byrne struggling one place further back.  Rossi, who won the season-opener in Spain and was blamed by Gibernau for the crash which led to his injury, was over half a second off the pace on his Gauloises Yamaha.
Portuguese MotoGP qualifying positions and times:
1. Alex Barros (Bra) Honda 1:37.202
2. Sete Gibernau (Spa Honda 1:37.329
3. Carlos Checa (Spa Ducati 1:37.456
4. Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha 1:37.643
5. Marco Melandri (Ita) Honda 1:37.835
6. Loris Capirossi (Ita) Ducati 1:38.000
7. Colin Edwards (US) Yamaha 1:38.003
8. Max Biaggi (Ita) Honda 1:38.009
9. Nicky Hayden (US) Honda 1:38.123
10. Shinya Nakano (Jap) Kawasaki 1:38.283
Todt: We are closing the gap Todt: We are closing the gapFerrari are much closer to Formula One rivals Renault than widely believed and will make a leap forward in the Championship at next week's San Marino Grand Prix, team boss Jean Todt said on Sunday.  In an interview with Bild am Sonntag newspaper, Todt also said that the rule changes introduced this year had hit Ferrari especially hard, although he conceded that their rivals had worked better in the off-season.  "Our gap to Renault is much smaller than everyone thinks," Todt said. "We know our weaknesses but we also know what we're capable of doing. We were very fast in Bahrain and will be even stronger in Imola. Hopefully strong enough for the victory." Reuters
Busch brothers on Life Magazine Busch brothers on Life MagazineMeet the battling Busch brothers, NASCAR’s latest intense family rivalry, in this week’s LIFE magazine, available Friday, April 15.  This year, Kurt and Kyle Busch, ages 26 and 19, will race against each other in the NEXTEL Cup Series. “Racing has always been in our family,” says older brother Kurt.

As reported in LIFE, the brothers caught the racing bug as kids – and were always competitive with each other.  “I always wanted to beat him—he was so good at everything,” says Kyle.

What about today, when they’re running neck and neck on the racetrack?  “If you can make the move cleanly, you make it.  If he was leading and I didn’t have a clear shot to get by him, it wouldn’t be worth wrecking him just to get my first win. But if I had the clean opportunity to pass him, I would take it,” says Kyle.  As far as pressure to succeed in light of NASCAR’s long line of racing brothers, Kurt says: “We’re both balanced enough to know that you have to let things take their time.”  Also: Famed photographer Harry Benson goes behind the scenes at NASCAR to reveal families’ intense emotions as they await the checkered flag.

Goodyear to Help teams Goodyear to Help teamsEach NASCAR racetrack rolls out unique demands on race engine setups, so NASCAR teams turn to Goodyear Engineered Products and its lineup of automotive belts to help optimize performance.  "Last week, many teams used mechanical cooling fans for engines at the Martinsville Speedway's 1/2-mile oval track," explained Mike Gregg, chief belt engineer for Goodyear. "This weekend's race at the Texas Motor Speedway's 1- 1/2 mile quad-oval doesn't require the fans, which means a different engine configuration and different belts."  Goodyear Gatorback Poly-V belts, found on every Nextel Cup Series racecar, have the flexibility built into them to match changing engine demands brought on by varying track lengths, surfaces and banking, said Gregg.  Goodyear provides 200 Gatorback Poly-V belt sizes to NASCAR engine builders, varying the length and number of ribs for use on alternators, cam and power steering drives, and water and oil pumps. "We provide countless combinations and configurations to meet their individual engineering demands," said Gregg.  "Engine setups at Texas will include belt-and-pulley ratios designed to overcome sustained high revolutions-per-minute," he said. "For much of the race, engines will be turning more than 9,000 rpm."  He added that high-power steering pump loads also will occur at the Texas track. Goodyear PR   For more information, visit http://www.goodyearbeltsandhose.com
Burton TV Responsibility Burton TV ResponsibilityJeff Burton told "Sirius Speedway" (Sirius Satellite Radio) Wednesday that while TV networks bear some share of responsibility for televising incidents like the one that caused NASCAR to fine driver Shane Hmiel last week, the ultimate responsibility still lies with the drivers themselves. "This stuff happens on the spot, without you knowing you're on TV," he said. I have an in-car camera every week, and if some driver rolls by and gives me the finger on national TV, is that his fault? Is he going to get penalized? We have to hold ourselves to a high standard, and I support NASCAR in its efforts to clean things up. But where does it stop? The networks are the backup, backup, backup plan. They need to help keep things off TV that they don't want their viewers to see. But it's our responsibility as drivers not to put them in that position. We'd like them to help us out, but it's still our responsibility." Sirius Satellite Radio
Proposed Charlotte HOF to cost 50 - 100 million Proposed Charlotte HOF to cost 50 - 100 millionNow that the city of Charlotte has pinpointed a preferred site for a NASCAR hall of fame, it is trying to piece together a financial package.  Luther Cochrane, the chairman of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, said the museum would cost between $50 million and $100 million, depending on the building’s design.  “You can expect that the financial package will be based upon some historic models; it’ll feature some degree of public and private contribution,” Cochrane said Wednesday. “We think the state would like to be involved in this, in some form or fashion.” New14 Charlotte
Jourdain Moves Closer Jourdain Moves CloserMichel Jourdain will move to North Carolina in the next few weeks to be closer to the team headquarters and to help lessen his travel time to races. The Mexico City native tried to continue living in his home country but quickly realized the distances were too great. The move also means Jourdain, who became a father in February, can spend more time with his family instead of on the road.  Whereas NASCAR offered a huge career move, leaving Champ Car was not an easy decision, especially as he looked poised to challenge for the championship.  "It took me years to become an established driver and I ran for many years with teams that didn't have money or equipment. I finally got a team behind me and I started winning races -- I probably could have been there for many years," he says. "It is a series that I love and I gave up an opportunity in the IRL because of that. But I got a good offer from Ford and they gave me the potential to end my career at a top level and that's where I am." The Globe and Mail
Richmond Sellout Richmond SelloutTrack President Doug Fritz announced today that every seat-all 107,097 of them-will be filled for the Chevy American Revolution 400, set for Saturday, May 14 "under the lights." The track's sellout streak of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events is now at 27, spanning nearly 14 years. Nearly 2.5 million fans from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries have attended NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events at Richmond International Raceway during that time. RIR PR
Spanish GP sold-out Spanish GP sold-outThree weeks before the 49th Gran Premio de España de Formula One held at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th 2005, the record of attendance is already broken, as there are no more tickets available. In 2000, 79.000 spectators attended the Spanish Grand Prix. The next year, the Circuit de Catalunya decided to improve the circuit’s facilities and services and increase its capacity. Seven new grandstands were built, as well as giant screens, a new scoreboard and car parks, etc. Besides, the Circuit increased its sales network, signed agreements with the main travel agencies in the world and improved pre-sales, with more than 4,500 sales points all over the world.

For the Circuit de Catalunya, this 49th Gran Premio de España de Formula One is one of its biggest challenges in terms of organization, not only on track but also concerning to the number of home and international spectators attending the race. Therefore, the Circuit gives the following advice to spectators:

- Come early. The Circuit opens at 7 a.m.
- Use public transport. Special train and bus services are available. Check our website.
- Try to use all the seats in your car. Bikes have free parking.
- Have a look at the recommended ways to access to the Circuit at www.circuitcat.com.
- Follow the traffic policemen and organization staff directions. Circuit de Catalunya

Industry News
Bill would allow beer in TMS grandstands Bill would allow beer in TMS grandstandsIt's too late for the current NASCAR weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, but a bill headed to the Texas Senate floor would allow beer and wine sales for the grandstands.  Senate Bill 1331, sponsored by state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, was passed by the Business and Commerce Committee on Thursday.  Beer sellers would be allowed -- with limitations -- to obtain temporary wine and beer retailer's permits for NASCAR and Indy-car events at the speedway.

The permits would be limited to those events. Alcohol sales, to be restricted to half of the concessions area, would cease after 75 percent of the laps in a race were complete. Sales of sealed containers would be prohibited.  "I filed this bill only after extensive discussions with community, church and law enforcement leaders," Nelson said. "We all value the economic impact the speedway has had in our community and want to ensure that it remains competitive with other venues. However, our first concern is for the public safety, and this bill contains strict guidelines to ensure responsible behavior and accountability." Star-Telegram

LB Trans-Am race to air LB Trans-Am race to airUPDATE A reminder that this race will air today. 04/15/05 Just a reminder that the Long Beach Grand Prix Trans-Am race will now be broadcast on SPEED this Sunday, April 17th at 2 PM. ET
Industry News
Wind Tunnel reminder Wind Tunnel reminderTonight on Wind Tunnel on SPEED Channel at 9:00PM ET:
Guest Co-Host:
Tommy Kendall (4-Time Trans-Am Series Champion)
Tommy Kendall will join Dave Despain LIVE in the studio as Wind Tunnel's guest Co-Host Sunday April 17th. As one of the premier road racers in America, Kendall has won many championships over the course of his career including numerous IMSA titles as well as 4 Trans-Am Series crowns. In 2004, he nearly won his 5th but lost out to car owner, Paul Gentilozzi, in a tie-break...we'll have to ask him about that one. But for 2005, Tommy is concentrating on his television career which includes hosting Speed Channel's popular automotive show, Test Drive. And for this day, he brings his lively personality and strong opinions to Wind Tunnel...from road racing to open-wheel racing to NASCAR, Kendall has something to say about them all.

Featured Interview: Neil Hodgson (2003 World Superbike Champion)
2003 World Superbike Champion, Neil Hodgson, will be one of our guests on Wind Tunnel this Sunday April 17th. Since turning pro in 1990, Hodgson has risen to the top of the motorcycle ranks. As a loyal Ducati racer, he has given them championships in both the British and World Superbike divisions. With a British crown in 2000 and a World crown in 2003, Ducati took Hodgson to the ultimate motorcycle racing series last year...MotoGP. Expectations were high for this champion, but with an average bike in a highly-competitive series, the results were poor.

So for 2005, Hodgson has set his sights on a new challenge...a goal that no other rider before him has ever accomplished. He wants to be the first racer to have championships in all three main Superbike series...British, World, and AMA. And with an impressive start at the season opener in Daytona, it appears he is going to have a very good shot at making that happen.

Featured Interview: Patrick Carpentier (IRL Driver for Red Bull Team Cheever)
Indy Racing League driver, Patrick Carpentier, will be our second guest on Wind Tunnel this Sunday April 17th. After 8 seasons in the Champ Car World Series driving for Bettenhausen Motorsports and Forsythe Racing, Patrick has made the switch to the IRL. As a new member of Red Bull Cheever Racing, he brings with him a 1996 Toyota Atlantic Series Championship and 5 Champ Car wins. Thus far in 2005, he has raced 3 events, scoring top 10 finishes in all 3 and currently sits 9th in the championship standings.

Dover races to get new name Dover races to get new nameThe NASCAR races at Dover International Speedway in June and September will have new names, track officials said Friday. 
The June 5 Nextel Cup Series race will be known as the MBNA NASCAR RacePoints 400, and the June 4 Busch Series race and June 3 Craftsman Truck Series race each will be called the MBNA NASCAR RacePoints 200.   The Sept. 25 Nextel Cup race will also be the MBNA NASCAR RacePoints 400, the Sept. 23 Busch North Series race will be the MBNA NASCAR RacePoints 150 and the Sept. 24 Busch Series race will be the Dover 200.   The NASCAR RacePoints rewards program will allow participants to earn points based on credit card purchases made with participating NASCAR sponsors. The points can be redeemed for race-related items. The NASCAR credit card is issued by Wilmington-based MBNA Corp.
Rousch team hit by fire Rousch team hit by fireThere were no injuries reported in a fire that caused damage to one building at the Roush Industries complex in Livonia, Michigan on Friday. Ford car owner Jack Roush spoke about the incident prior to practice on Saturday morning at Texas Motor Speedway.

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner - No. 6, 16, 17, 97, 99 Ford Tauruses - WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY IN LIVONIA? "We had the misfortune of having a fire in one of our buildings in Livonia yesterday. It was an area that makes composite parts for a lot of things. It was a prototype area for the composite parts manufacturer and it appears there was some catalyst that got in the proximity of an agent that it was sensitive to and caused a fire at or near a source container that had some cardboard and rags in a trash compartment. The fire erupted and was swept into the chimney of a paint booth for painting parts for military vehicles that we make and it got the roof on fire. The good news is it was a building that had five different units with five sets of fire doors, so they closed the fire door on the unit and minimized the damage to the rest of the building. Happily nobody was injured. The first thing they did was a headcount and they accounted for everybody. There wasn't much damage to the front of the building, maybe just a little bit of smoke damage, but it will be one of the units that will take us a couple of weeks to get back. But we've got enough capacity in the floor space there that by Monday I think we'll be back in pretty good operation." WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU HEARD ABOUT IT? "In 25 years that's about the third fire that we've had and they've all been about the same. We haven't lost a building, but we've done some damage and had some expense associated with putting some things out of operation for a short period of time, but we'll be back. I don't expect to miss any of the dates on any commitments we've got to our customers, and I don't think our employees will miss any appreciable amount of work time. I'd be surprised if we're not completely staffed back up by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Three-fourths of that building will be operational by Monday." Ford

NASCAR, ESPN trying to corner Latino market NASCAR, ESPN trying to corner Latino marketWhile ESPN prepares its first Spanish-language magazine for the U.S. market, NASCAR is bringing TV comedy star George Lopez to Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday for its own first. Lopez will shout ``Hombres, comienzan sus automobiles!" to start the Samsung/Radio Shack 500, as part of NASCAR's drive to attract more Latino fans. Lopez admits a lot of NASCAR fans don't know the language.  "You could probably say, 'Gentlemen, take out the laundry,' and they'd go crazy," he said.

There are no Latino NASCAR drivers in the Nextel Cup, and the sport's Latino fan base is rising but small. As sports go, NASCAR is less racially integrated than professional golf, tennis or ice hockey. Yikes.

ESPN, which started its Spanish-language TV channel, ESPN Deportes, last year, will launch ESPN Deportes magazine later this year. Both are aimed at the U.S. market. XM Satellite Radio, in its first year broadcasting Major League Baseball, has an all-Spanish channel featuring talk and live games.

NASCAR held its first points race in Mexico City last month, and the NFL plans a regular-season game there in October, but Lino Garcia, general manager of ESPN Deportes, said the United States is big enough to justify new domestic media in Spanish, even if bilingual and "Spanish-dominant" readers represent just a portion of the Latino population. More....

Fog cuts short Spa qualifying Fog cuts short Spa qualifyingThe LMES qualifying session started wet with rain at the Spa Francorchamps circuit today, but it ended dry and fogged in. The fog put an early end to Spa 1000kms Le Mans Endurance Series qualifying.
Top ten qualifiers
1. #17 Bouillion/Collard/Comas Pescarolo C60 2min 21.076secs LMP1
2. #7 Minassian/Campbell-Walter DBA 03S Judd 2min 21.095secs LMP1
3. #15 Shimoda/Nielsen/Elgaard Zytek 04S 2min 22.156secs LMP1
4. 4 Ortelli/Gounon Audi R8 2min 23.238secs LMP1
5. #6 Magnussen/Moller/Keen Lister Storm LMP 2min 24.135secs LMP1
6. #8 Short/Barff/Ickx Dallara Judd 2min 24.215secs LMP1
7. #5 Michigami/Wakisaka/Ara Dome S101 HB Mugen 2min 25.886secs LMP1
8. #9 Hignett/Stack/Kurosawa Zytek 04S 2min 28.340secs LMP1
9. #25 Newton/Erdos MG Lola EX264 2min 28.349secs LMP2
10. #36 Gosselin/Ojjeh/Vosse Courage C65 Ford 2min 28.757secs LMP2
Australian Champ Car race controversy Australian Champ Car race controversyFormer Olympic athlete Ron Clarke, now mayor of Australia’s Gold Coast, is under investigation by Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission over claims that he received election donations from a race circuit owner that were not disclosed. In the transcript of a conversation recorded at Darlington Park Raceway two Gold Coast councilors and circuit owner Tony Stephens are recorded discussing $50,000 worth of "in-kind" donations to Clarke's successful mayoral election campaign four months earlier. The donations allegedly took the form of trailers displaying large billboards, labor, petrol and assorted costs. Last week Clarke caused a controversy by calling for the annual Indy motor race to be transferred from the street circuit in downtown Surfers Paradise to Darlington Park Raceway but later backed down in the face of a public backlash. Clarke insists he had no knowledge of any undeclared donations. The Australian
Raphael Matos victorious at Road Atlanta Raphael Matos victorious at Road AtlantaBraselton, GA. Raphael Matos had his work cut out for him after falling to ninth position on the opening lap of Round Two of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear held today at Road Atlanta, but the Ocean Tomo Racing driver was up to the task, slicing his way through traffic to record his second consecutive victory in the championship ahead of Scott Jenkins and Matt Jaskol.

Matos, from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, topped the time sheets early for most of the weekend, and despite a qualifying setback that found him fifth on the grid he entered the race confident in his chances. "We had a little problem in qualifying but we had been fast all weekend so I knew that the crew would get it sorted out and we'd be fine for the race," Matos explained. "The Ocean Tomo Racing crew have been excellent all season and they came through once again. I dropped a few spots on the opening lap when I was forced off the track but once I got the momentum back I just started moving forward."

He would claim the lead on lap 24 of the 30 lap event, using lapped traffic to his advantage to close the distance to Jenkins and pressure him into a mistake, "We were coming up on the traffic as we came down the back straight and in trying to get passed the lapped car and hold me back it looked like he missed his braking point. Once he locked up the tires I was able to carry the momentum inside him and make the pass."

Jenkins, driving the Environmental Fibers International Team Bucknum Racing Mazda, would manage to hold off a hard charging Jaskol in the closing laps to wrap up his first podium of the season. "Qualifying on the pole position and finishing on the podium feels really good," the Portland, Oregon native revealed. "After the eighth place at Sebring we were a little disappointed so it was nice to come here and be right on the pace. I have to thank all the guys at Team Bucknum Racing for their work this weekend."

Third place finisher Jaskol was equally impressive in capturing his second consecutive podium finish of the season. Coming off his first victory in the ASA truck series, Jaskol spent much of his race nursing a damaged left front tire but still managed to challenge for second place by the end of the race. "Around lap ten we lost a big chunk out of the left front tire so for about 20 laps I was just holding on for dear life," Jaskol explained. "It's a little disappointing because Hearn Motorsports had given me a car that could've won the race today."

Fourth place was locked down by MJ Motorsports driver Jonathan Bomarito, a last-minute replacement driver when Bryan Sellers was signed to drive for Panoz Motorsports in the GT2 category for the remainder of the American Le Mans Series season. "We put the deal together for this race last Friday so it feels great to come out here and finish as well as we did," Bomarito said. "It can be a bit nerve-wracking racing with people that you haven't driven against before but everybody did a great job out there today."

Rounding out the top five was Ryan Justice in the Northwest Autosports Mazda. Justice, who joined Jenkins on the front row, making it an all Portland affair, would jump into the lead on the opening lap and hold the front of the field for the next 14 laps before fading to fifth. "We were really strong on those opening laps and I was able to create a little gap but Scott was able to close up on me when I came upon lapped traffic and work his way past," Justice said. "We had a fifth place car today but we learned a lot and I think this is the start of some strong races for us."

While the action at the front of the field was intense, the drive of the race would have to go to Jonathan Klein in his Andersen Walko Racing Mazda. A mechanical problem in qualifying would have Klein starting in the 34th spot. With the problem discovered and resolved Klein drove like a man on a mission working his way up to 13th by race end. "You just have to focus on one car at a time out there," Klein commented on his approach to working through traffic. "Each car ahead of you is like a carrot being dangled in front of you to chase down. Once you get that carrot you look at the next one and then the next!"

After two rounds Matos leads the championship with 89 points ahead of Jaskol with 77 and Jenkins with 69 points. In Expert Series competition, for drivers between the ages of 30-44, Micky Gilbert maintains the lead, capturing the class victory in his GIlbert Engineering Eurosport Racing Mazda, while in the Masters Series, for drivers aged 45 and older, John Pew extended his lead in the championship with the class victory in his NVG Velocity Motorsports Mazda.

Pos No. Name Laps Total Tm Diff Best Tm In Lap
1 7 Raphael Matos 30 40:36.641   1:19.591 14
2 31 Scott Jenkins 30 40:42.714 6.073 1:20.411 12
3 70 Matt Jaskol 30 40:42.913 6.272 1:20.281 14
4 16 Jonathan Bomarito 30 40:44.761 8.120 1:20.283 13
5 38 Ryan Justice 30 40:51.432 14.791 1:20.485 13
6 46 Luis Schiavo 30 40:58.149 21.508 1:20.792 13
7 11 Marco Andretti 30 40:58.355 21.714 1:20.288 14
8 98 James Hinchcliffe 30 41:02.870 26.229 1:20.774 18
9 12 Graham Rahal 30 41:04.019 27.378 1:20.951 10
10 45 Billy Johnson 30 41:04.147 27.506 1:20.890 14
11 23 Robbie Pecorari 30 41:08.310 31.669 1:20.775 12
12 54 Mickey Gilbert 30 41:08.597 31.956 1:21.081 14
13 26 Jonathan Klein 30 41:08.994 32.353 1:20.834 29
14 20 Ross Smith 30 41:20.120 43.479 1:21.336 12
15 55 David Stover 30 41:20.223 43.582 1:21.395 18
16 77 Brian Thienes 30 41:27.602 50.961 1:21.444 13
17 42 Mike Anderson 30 41:27.836 51.195 1:21.572 13
18 22 Pablo Donoso 30 41:38.995 1:02.354 1:21.446 14
19 29 Phil Fogg Jr. 30 41:39.649 1:03.008 1:21.800 11
20 75 John Pew 30 41:39.830 1:03.189 1:22.139 17
21 17 Steve Hickham 30 41:41.080 1:04.439 1:21.848 16
22 18 Adrian Carrio 30 41:42.654 1:06.013 1:22.294 16
23 6 Jonathan Branam 30 41:46.238 1:09.597 1:21.138 20
24 21 William Daniel 30 41:46.839 1:10.198 1:22.150 27
25 73 Mark Patterson 30 41:49.339 1:12.698 1:21.799 16
26 87 Doug Peterson 29 40:25.079 --1 Lap-- 1:21.870 15
27 56 Dan Tomlin III 29 40:40.824 15.745 1:21.870 25
28 44 John Faulkner 29 40:50.921 25.842 1:22.677 9
29 4 Anthony Downs 29 40:58.757 33.678 1:22.863 17
30 49 John Lloyd 29 41:03.313 38.234 1:22.772 17
31 10 CR Crews 29 41:07.535 42.456 1:20.885 13
32 69 Mike Kaeske 29 41:22.072 56.993 1:22.017 14
33 58 Dan Tomlin Jr. 29 41:49.881 1:24.802 1:24.879 24
34 74 Phil Saville 26 36:07.989 --4 Laps-- 1:21.602 17
35 41 Sean Guthrie 21 30:42.941 --9 Laps-- 1:22.380 15
36 25 Brandon Thomas 15 21:13.429 --15 Laps-- 1:21.263 10
37 39 Steve Cook 5 7:38.907 --25 Laps-- 1:24.662 4
38 96 Mark Wilkins 4 5:32.163 --26 Laps-- 1:21.182 4
39 28 Robbie Montonola 1 1:31.854 --29 Laps-- 1:28.936 1
40 88 Dan Weyland 1 2:38.035 1:06.181 2:04.697 0

Champ Car needs to protect Long Beach Champ Car needs to protect Long BeachThis Toronto Star newspaper article says, Years ago, I was stuck outside the bus terminal in downtown Indianapolis. I'd gone to Indy with friend Billy Richards, and he was supposed to pick me up after the 500-mile race. I was there covering it for a newspaper; he'd gone into the infield to drink beer. It was after 7 o'clock at night and he was late.

Downtown Indy in those days was not a particularly pleasant place to be stuck. Some of the people around that bus terminal were making me nervous. One fellow in particular, a spiffy, 1920s-style dresser complete with bowler hat, was quite agitated. He was pacing back and forth and he had me on edge.

Suddenly he walked up and stuck his face in front of mine. He stared me straight in the eye and he yelled: "Which came first? The chicken or the egg?"

I will tell you the answer later — as that bum told it to me again and again and again until Billy finally showed up and rescued me — but I was reminded of that impossible question last weekend while watching the Grand Prix of Long Beach.

This race — North America's Monaco — was a wonderful spectacle, as usual. The sky was blue, the Pacific was bluer, the grandstands were all full and the racing was terrific. But the only thing, it seemed, that anybody was talking about afterward was whether Champ Car would be back next year or whether it would become an Indy Racing League event. Which came first? The chicken or the egg?

We all know the history of Long Beach. Travel agent Chris Pook is credited with the idea of a race through the streets near where the old Queen Mary cruise ship is tied up. The FIA made them promote a Formula 5000 race first and then Formula One was there for a bunch of years (our own Gilles Villeneuve won one of those races in his Ferrari) and then CART took over. West Hill's Paul Tracy won his very first major-league race there in 1993.

Now, it didn't seem to matter whether it was F5000, F1 or CART Indy cars, the crowd at Long Beach has always been — for want of a better word — healthy. In a given year, it could be up several thousands; on another, it could be down a few. But 70,000-75,000 has been the norm on race day since the event was invented and that was the number last Sunday and I bet you it will be in that neighborhood again next year, regardless of whether it's a Champ Car or an IRL race. See? Which came first? The chicken or the egg?

Now, as former Molson Indy Toronto general manager Bob Singleton told me a year or so ago when he and his superiors were faced with the same choice as Long Beach: "It's a tough decision, but in the end ya gotta dance with the one that brung ya.'' Which means that Long Beach will likely be inclined to stay with Champ Car.

But series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven, whose millions of personal dollars are keeping three or four of this year's teams on the grid, did not make himself any new friends last week when he told reporters that if Long Beach went with the IRL, he would promote a Champ Car race the week before in Los Angeles.

First, that's a crock because a race in L.A. next spring would be all but impossible to pull off. But worse, as two publicists of Champ Car races told me this week, it was very poor judgment on Kalkhoven's part to threaten to sabotage the Long Beach race. "That sort of thing can come back to bite you,'' one said. "It was just a nasty thing to do during the weekend itself,'' said the other.

On the Canadian front — although IRL team owners like Michael Andretti are telling Canadian friends that the league desperately wants to race in Toronto next year — the Molson Indy Toronto will remain a Champ Car event for the foreseeable future.

"We have a contract for four years with Champ Car,'' said communications manager Cynthea Galbraith, "and we don't have any plans to change that.''

Meantime, while it obviously won't be in Toronto, the IRL could be staging a race in Canada next year. Fred Nation, executive vice-president, communications, for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IRL, told me on Tuesday that "we are engaging in serious discussions with a promoter of a planned race in Quebec City, but it is too soon to tell'' if it will happen.

Oh, according to the fellow in Indy who looked like cartoon character Moon Mullins, God created the chicken, which then laid the egg. I didn't argue.
Speed World Challenge
Cadillac sweep front row Cadillac sweep front rowTeam Cadillac swept the front row for the first time in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge in qualifying for Sunday's SPEED GT race at Road Atlanta. The "Max Attack" saw Max Angelelli and Max Papis qualify their black CTS-Vs 1-2 on the 2.5-mile road course. Andy Pilgrim, carrying 90 pounds of REWARDS weight in Team Cadillac's third CTS-V, qualified seventh.

Angelelli needed just one perfect lap to capture his fourth career pole in World Challenge competition. Returning to the scene of his most recent SPEED GT victory in Team Cadillac's third CTS-V, he set the Road Atlanta qualifying record with a 1:26.605 lap at 105.582 mph that eclipsed the mark he set in his pole-winning run in September 2004.

"I've really missed racing in the World Challenge, so this is a great way to come back with Team Cadillac," Angelelli declared. "Road Atlanta is really good for our cars, which is why there are two Cadillacs on the front row. The setup was right, I know this track very well, and it was a perfect lap."

Angelelli will start the 50-minute race alongside his countryman Max Papis. Papis is doing double-duty this weekend, competing last night in the International Race of Champions at Texas Motor Speedway, where he finished sixth. He qualified on the outside of the front row with a 1:27.093/104.991 mph lap.

"I had to remember to turn right at the first corner at Road Atlanta after only turning left in Texas last night," Papis laughed. "We had a good effort today to be on the front row and I hope that will put us in position to win my first race for Cadillac. The team improved my car for qualifying after I went to Texas, so I think we're in good shape. The CTS-V is excellent under braking and awesome through the esses."

German DTM
New Audi takes pole in maiden run New Audi takes pole in maiden runIn its racing debut, the new Audi A4 DTM will be starting from the pole position. At the Hockenheim season opener, defending champion Mattias Ekström drove the fastest time in Saturday’s Super Pole qualifying session to secure the best starting position for the race on Sunday (start at 2 p.m., live on ARD from 1.45 p.m.). Martin Tomczyk and Tom Kristensen, as well, qualified for the single car qualifying of the fastest ten. The best drivers of last year’s Audi A4 DTM cars were Christian Abt and DTM newcomer Frank Stippler on positions twelve and 13 respectively.
Interview with Toyota's Luca Marmorini Interview with Toyota's Luca MarmoriniToyota enjoyed unprecedented success in the past two Grand Prix. Luca Marmorini, the team's Technical Director Engine, talks about the season so far and his goals for the next race in San Marino.

Luca, what has the mood been like in the factory after two podium finishes in a row?
"The fantastic results we achieved in Malaysia and Bahrain have brought a huge motivation to the whole team. The mood is tremendously upbeat and positive, but our expectations are now equally high. The next race in Imola is of course the first European race of the season and after a three-week break, the strongest teams arrive in Italy with big developments to their packages. It will be an important race to know exactly where we stand. Imola will be a good benchmark for performance during the first European race weekends."

Have you adjusted your targets from just points to podiums?
"Realistically, we must keep our feet on the ground, even if in our heart we are thinking about how many podiums we can score this season. We must wait and see what Imola brings, but if we are strong in Imola then I believe we will have some other opportunities to repeat the performance we had in Malaysia and Bahrain. It would be great if we can get two cars in the points in Imola."

Do you think Toyota can maintain its excellent results for the rest of the season?
"I am confident that there will be some tracks, like Malaysia and Bahrain, where we can perform well, but for the time being I am focused on Imola, which has traditionally been a tough track for us. With renewed motivation and success, I am keen to see what we can do there. Talking about the engine, after a race like Bahrain with the tremendously hot conditions, I don't necessarily think that Imola will be a walk in the park for us!"

What upgrades are planned for the RVX-05?
"Because of the new regulations, we were not able to implement an engine upgrade for Imola, but we will definitely go to Spain with an engine evolution. There will be other subsequent developments with the next probably as soon as the European Grand Prix at the end of May."

Regardless of the new two-race engine rule, how tough is Imola on the engine?
"Imola is not a particularly tough track in terms of wide open throttle percentage. It is also not especially hot, so cooling is not an issue. The difficulties come when running over the notorious curbs because we have to be careful to control the engine rpm. It is easy to misuse the engine, but we have an efficient electronics system to help this. During any race, there are uncertainties and unplanned events that may result in unexpected stress on the engine. Taking into consideration that our Imola engine has already completed a particularly tough race weekend, it will be even more important to take all possible preventative measures into account."

How much effect do the race drivers have in controlling the use of the engine?
"We appreciate the care and attention that Ralf and Jarno drive the engine during the race weekend. With the new regulations the effect that the driver has over engine management is much higher than previously. A driver must always push in the race, but at some moments he may not need to overload the engine to maintain his pace. Our drivers are very clever and smart in doing this. The results we have acquired so far have also been due to their handling of the engine."

To what extent have Olivier Panis and Ricardo Zonta contributed to engine development?
"Olivier and Ricardo have been fundamental in developing our RVX-05. During test sessions, we are mostly focused on the reliability of the engine and that means collecting mileage and data in a variety of conditions. Their input and feedback is as vital as that of Ralf and Jarno."

What feedback have you received from Jordan?
"So far our work with Jordan has run very smoothly. Our collaboration in the opening three races was a learning phase for both parties to understand how best to work together. We are really glad with the results we have reached. We are also sharing some results with them because the experience and data that is collected from Jordan can be used to improve the engine for Toyota and vice versa. Now we think that Jordan will come with chassis improvements and we are looking forward to supporting them with continued engine upgrades as well."

Luca, how has your technical partner Esso contributed to development of the RVX-05?
"To extend the reliability of our engine, whilst retaining the level of performance requires not only a strong effort from the engine department in Cologne, but also a dedicated contribution from the fuel and lubricants supplier. The success we have seen so far this season has only been possible through an intensive collaboration with Esso. Oil is a key issue for engine reliability and we have worked strongly with Esso beyond the pure concept of engine performance." Toyota Racing
Interview with Toyota’s Mike Gascoyne Interview with Toyota’s Mike GascoyneToyota's Technical Director chassis, Mike Gascoyne, took the time to answer a few questions in this interview, one week before the next round of the Formula One championship, the San Marino Grand Prix.

Mike, do you think that Toyota will continue to be competitive in Imola?
"After the first three races of the season, it is always a time for reassessment of where we stand relative to our competitors. In three races, we have qualified in the top three at each event and picked up two podium positions. We struggled in the race in Melbourne for different reasons, but our true pace was demonstrated in Malaysia and Bahrain. I honestly do not see any reason why that level of competitiveness should not continue in Imola and beyond. We have understood how the car works with the Michelin tires. We just have to ensure that our tire choice for each race is correct, which was perhaps not the case in Melbourne, but if we can do that I do not see why we can't perform at the same level throughout the season. Imola does not hold any particular fears or worries for me."

What are the technical challenges posed by the Imola circuit?
"At Imola, we run slightly higher downforce settings than we have in recent races. It is also hard on the brakes, as in fact Bahrain was and we were comfortable with the brakes there. Temperatures will be cooler, which places less stress on the car. We have several slow speed chicanes and use of the curbs is an issue, but I feel that we have greatly enhanced the car mechanically and aerodynamically. In the past, Toyota has struggled at circuits like Imola with pronounced curbs, but I really do not think that should be a problem. When the car is off the pace in Imola, drivers tend to use the curbs more to compensate and that unbalances the car a lot. When the car is competitive, that is not such a problem. "

How well do you expect the TF105 to perform at Imola?
"After Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain, we have gone round almost every type of corner there is on the calendar and we have been pretty good at all of them. I do not think that there are any major issues with the car. Of course, we need to go even quicker, but stability under braking has been good and traction has been good, both of which are important aspects of the car's behavior for Imola."

Does Toyota have any upgrades to the TF105 for Imola?
"We have new parts for Imola, but so too will all other teams. It is traditional for everyone to say that they have identified the weaknesses in their package and have put them right in time for San Marino, but I think most teams will be in pretty much the same position in Imola as in the first three races of the year. The only thing I would say will be different is that Bridgestone will improve and consequently Ferrari will be stronger. Ferrari will undoubtedly not remain where they have been all season. They will make progress with the car and Bridgestone will also progress with the tires and should emerge once again as a force to be reckoned with."

What specific parts are new to the Imola-spec TF105?
"Specifically we have a new diffuser, a new sidepod package, some new wishbones, a new front wing, essentially all modifications aimed at improving the car's aerodynamics. Overall, it represents a reasonable step forward. Some parts were tested during the post- Bahrain Barcelona and Paul Ricard tests, for example the diffuser and side pods. The front wing will not appear until the race, but we have a lot of confidence in our wind tunnel work, so we have no problems with introducing new parts at races."

Is it fair to say that Jarno Trulli has the edge on Ralf Schumacher?
"To say that a driver has an edge over the other is totally wrong, just because one driver has had better results over the other after three races. Ralf made a couple of small mistakes in qualifying that has made his races more difficult but in many ways his determined driver to fourth in Bahrain was stronger than Jarno's race to second because it required much more effort. We have the right environment for them at Toyota. Both are happy with the car and the team and both seem to be enjoying their race weekends. Ralf is not annoyed that Jarno has scored two podiums because he can see the potential and feels part of the team. It is very much a team result, rather than an individual driver result. Ralf is not worried – he knows his time will come." Toyota
Privateer ’Vette team pushing the factory effort Privateer ’Vette team pushing the factory effortRyan Dalziel and Pacific Coast Motorsports fired a warning shot to their American Le Mans Series GT1 rivals today as the 23-year-old Scot powered the #5 Menards-Yokohama Corvette C5-R to the top of the time sheets in this morning’s practice session for tomorrow’s Sportsbook.Com Grand Prix of Atlanta, the second round of the 2005 ALMS season.

Dalziel continues to impress despite being a sports car rookie and his efforts this morning hustling the privateer Corvette C5-R round the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta course brought the reward of besting the two factory-backed Corvette C6-R’s in practice with a flying lap of 1m17.792s – a time faster than Ron Fellows’ qualifying benchmark of 1m18.632s set at the Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta in 2000.

Dalziel, partnered with Alex Figge at PCM, not only topped the GT1 practice times, his last lap charge was a stunning fourth tenths of a second faster than the #4 works-Corvette fielded by the experienced duo of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta who in turn headed their team-mates Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell in third.

Having lead the GT1 practice times in just his second ALMS outing Dalziel commented:

“The team has continued to work really hard since our top ten finish at Sebring last month.  The changes made to our car have definitely increased our competitiveness.  I had a great time out there in practice this morning and the result proves we have the capability to mix it up with the works teams.  Hopefully we can maintain our pace in this afternoon’s qualifying session and guarantee an exciting battle with the factory boys tomorrow.”  GT1 qualifying starts at 2:50pm EST this afternoon with tomorrow’s Sportsbook.Com Grand Prix of Atlanta set to go green at Noon.

Fans petition to keep Champ Car in LB Fans petition to keep Champ Car in LBThis Long Beach Press telegram article says, A resident of Chino has started a minor uprising in cyberspace targeted at the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.  Victor Varela created the "Keep the Champ Cars racing at Long Beach!" petition on Monday and 1,538 responses have been recorded at www.petitiononline.com as of Friday afternoon.

"Really, I don't know if it's going to have an impact one way or the other," Varela said.  The petition is directed at Jim Michaelian, the president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association. His title was misidentified on the petition.

Champ Car saw its five-year contract end with the Grand Prix Association at the conclusion of last Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Champ Car is competing with the Indy Racing League for a new deal.  Links to the petition have been posted to various Champ Car-friendly sites in the past few days and fans from around the world have responded, which may not necessarily help Varela's crusade. Only a fraction of the respondents claim to attend the race.

Varela said he's removed several entries for vulgarity or obviously false names. On Friday afternoon, somebody signed the petition as "Ashlee Simpson Fan."  A person need only write in a name and leave an e-mail address to become part of the petition. The Web site claims "an e-mail address is not enough to establish identity by itself, but it is substantially more than just a name."

The petition is the eighth-most popular Friday, one shy of 'The Stop Ashlee Simpson' petition.  Many used the comment portion of the petition to get a dig in on Tony George, the founder of the Indy Racing League. Others like Torrance's Kelly Saulie threatened never to come back if the IRL is tapped to run at the LBGP.  "I hate the IRL and have for 10 years," Saulie told the Press-Telegram. "The race is back on track with Champ Car. There's no reason to put on another type of racing."

A decision on which series will race here should be determined within the next four weeks.  "We thank everybody for the support and interest in the future of our race," said Chris Esslinger, the public relations manager of the Grand Prix Association. "We've received e-mails and letters from our fans in support of Champ Car and other series. We will take all this into consideration as we go forward in our decision-making process."

Varela said in the next few days he'll print up the petition and submit it to the Grand Prix Association.  To view the petition, visit www.petitiononline.com/CCWSLBGP/petition.html.

Bourdais on his IROC win Bourdais on his IROC win"It has been a crazy week.  I flew here (to Texas) on Monday morning after Long Beach and only got a couple of hours of testing in that night.  Then I flew back to Portland on Tuesday morning to run on Wednesday and Thursday in my McDonald's Champ Car.  I got up at 6 a.m. (PT) to catch a flight this morning for the race.  It has been seven days as crazy as can be.  I'm really happy for Champ Car; it's good for the series to win here in IROC.  For an open-wheel driver to come here to a track he doesn't know, a car he doesn't know and win against these guys that do it every weekend is a great accomplishment that I am proud of.  They are very good at what they do, and they do it every weekend for years and years.  I tried my best and apparently it worked tonight.  It's a lot more than turning left, that's for sure.  There was a lot of action going on here!  They told me you couldn't get by (leader) Lasoski last year but that certainly wasn't the case this year.  I had to hold Mark Martin off and that's no easy task.  I stayed up front and never really dropped past third place.  I wasn't trying to lead every single lap, I was just trying to stay up there to fight for it in the end.  It wasn't an easy race at all and that's why I am so happy about it.  I'm thankful to Crown Royal and IROC for putting together such a good series and inviting me to participate.  I'm having a lot of fun!

(On arriving to Winner's Circle with Max Papis on his car:) "All of the open wheel guys were really happy for me and I wanted to add them to the celebration.  The donuts were fun; I've never done that on the grass before and Newman/Haas doesn't really want me to do them in my McDonald's car because it causes a lot of damage so I went for it tonight! Full Story

Texas pole winner to get shotgun Texas pole winner to get shotgunUPDATE From the too funny department regarding giving the Texas winner a shotgun for a trophy - "When you see this photograph of a driver holding a trophy (at Texas Motor Speedway), there's no question," said Eddie Gossage, speedway president and general manager. "This driver is not at Daytona, not at Monte Carlo, not in Japan. That driver is in Texas."  Silly us, all this time we thought they were in Monte Carlo! 04/15/05 In years past, the best drivers at Texas Motor Speedway have won trophies modeled after cowboy boots and the state of Texas.  This year, speedway officials decided to stop being so subtle.  With an embrace of Lone Star heritage that would be hard to top, the trophies up for grabs this year include a custom-made shotgun valued at $65,000 and a bronzed, nickel-plated cowboy hat.

It's just the latest addition to a growing tradition in auto racing: chucking the staid, dull metal-cup trophy for something that draws on local traditions and pride.  And, of course, nobody does it bigger or better than Texas.

"When you see this photograph of a driver holding a trophy (at Texas Motor Speedway), there's no question," said Eddie Gossage, speedway president and general manager. "This driver is not at Daytona, not at Monte Carlo, not in Japan. That driver is in Texas."

This year, Italian gunmaker Beretta is offering a Guibilieo (Italian for "jubilee") 12-gauge over/under shotgun to the driver who spins the fastest lap Friday in qualifying for Sunday's Nextel Cup Samsung/Radioshack 500. Another will be given to the pole sitter at the Nextel Cup Dickie's 500 in November.  The Texas Motor Speedway logo is engraved on one side. On the other will be the pole sitter's likeness and car number. Fort Worth Star Telegram

Audis set pace in Atlanta Audis set pace in AtlantaThe cars of the American Le Mans Series hit the track Friday for a test session prior to Sunday's Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta at Road Atlanta. The No. 1 Champion Audi LMP1 of JJ Lehto and Marco Werner was in typical form after posting an overall victory at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The Audi R8 posted the fastest time of the day with a best lap of 1:11.786 at 127.379 mph.

Breathing down Champion's neck was the No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola driven by James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger. The duo recorded a fast time of 1:12.053 at 126.907 mph, just behind their worthy competitors. The second Dyson entry, the No. 20, with Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace at the helm, was just behind the No. 16 with a time of 1:12.745 and a top speed of 125.699

Telesis Intersport Racing had the fastest test time in LMP2, running the No. 37 Lola piloted by Jon and Clint Field. The father-and-son pairing recorded a time of 1:13.874, edging out competitor and Sebring winner Miracle Motorsports.

The fastest GT1 time of the day was posted by the No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C6-R driven by Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta. The fastest Corvette recorded a time of 1:17.591 followed by the No. 3 Corvette piloted by Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell, which ran a fast time of 1:17.657. The ACEMCO Saleen set a time just behind the No. 3 'Vette at 1:19.049.

Panoz Motor Sports had the fastest GT2 time of the day. Bill Auberlen and Robin Liddell posted a time of 1:22.403 in the No. 50 Panoz Esperante GTLM. Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard followed close behind in their Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

Practice is scheduled for 9 to 10 a.m. and 1:40 to 2:40 p.m. Saturday. Qualifying for GT1 and GT2 is set for 2:50 to 3:10 p.m., followed by LMP1 and LMP2 classes from 3:15 to 3:35 p.m.  The Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta will start at noon Sunday.

Long Beach TV rating Long Beach TV ratingUPDATE #3 Some have commented that we had better stop banging our head against the wall per the graphic below as it's bad for the health.  To underscore our point about the Long Beach TV ratings, even NASCAR's Martinsville TV rating was down from 2004, when the race was a week later and was not on against the Masters golf tournament.  Running the Long Beach race this weekend would have been perfect - no Masters, no F1 race and no IRL race to compete against.  The issue is the availability of the Long Beach Convention Center.  Other conventions have had that week booked for years, but with the Grand Prix being Long Beach's biggest event each year, surely a swap can be negotiated with whatever group was in there this weekend.  Where there's a will there's a way. Mark C. 04/14/05 The final rating for the Long Beach race was a 0.6/1 share with 773,000 viewers tuned in. Champ Car can't be too happy about this rating, it's not any better or worse than the IRL's dreadful ratings. Bottom line is that Tony George split the sport in half and nearly killed it. Both series have a lot of work ahead of them to rebuild. Expect the CBS ratings for future races to be higher. They always are. Remember that the only reason Champ Car put this race on NBC was because CBS was already booked with the Masters. Long Beach needs to move the race by a week to avoid the Masters. Next year both events are scheduled for April 9th.
04/11/05 We failed to mention that the Masters Golf Tournament garnered a huge 10.3/21 share TV rating with Tiger Woods being involved in a sudden death playoff to win, up 41% from a year ago.  That one show alone had 21 percent of the households tuned in, and the NASCAR race another 11 percent. With 32 percent of the households tuned in to those two events, it definitely affected Champ Car and the city of Long Beach again. We have spoken to Jim Michaelian on a number of occasions about moving the race by one week to avoid the Masters. The issue is the availability of the nearby convention center that is a key part of the event. Get it done Jim! 04/11/05 The overnight TV rating for the Champ Car race on NBC was a 0.8/2 share. Undoubtedly hurt significantly because it was up against Tiger Woods winning the Masters in Augusta (Dumb move - they do it every year) and the NASCAR race in Martinsville. The race needs to shift by one week in future years if the ratings are going to ever go up. With that said, the rating is still better than recent IRL TV ratings.
NASCAR TV rating NASCAR TV ratingUPDATE #2 It should be noted that while the rating is 10.9% higher than the 4.6 overnight figure, it is down from 5.4 in 2004, when the race was a week later and was not on against the Masters golf tournament. 04/14/05 The final rating for the Martinsville race was a healthy 5.1/13 share, up from the overnight rating.  NASCAR's does well in the smaller markets, hence why their final ratings are always higher than their overnights. 04/11/05 The overnight TV rating for the NASCAR Nextel Cup race in Martinsville on FOX was a 4.6/11 share.
Albers signs new sponsor Albers signs new sponsorChristijan Albers has signed computer store Dynabyte as his latest sponsor. The Dutch Minardi driver announced today Holland's biggest chain of computer stores will be shown on his outfit, helmet and Minardi car.   "I am really proud we have such a big name as Dynabyte to sponsor us. It is motivating me a lot and the interest of sponsors shows that they believe in the Minardi team to go up," Albers commented on his new sponsor contract.
Keep an eye on Zwolsman Keep an eye on ZwolsmanLost in all the hoopla at Long Beach over the brilliant Toyota Atlantic win by Katherine Legge was the performance by rookie Charles Zwolsman from Holland. 

Long Beach 2005 brought a mix of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows to Condor Motorsports and its rookie driver Charles Zwolsman. It started ten days ago when the sixth-year Atlantic team and its driver were finally able to conclude a deal and secure enough funding to compete this season. With a car that last saw competition in 2002, the team had their work cut out for them as they tried to ensure that the #11 entry was in line with several series rule and competition changes put into place over the last two seasons.

The Condor team tested with Zwolsman at Firebird Raceway in Phoenix in the week prior to the season opener at Long Beach. With some miles under its belt, the team still had some bugs to work out during Friday practice on race weekend. Zwolsman finished the first qualifying run in seventh place in a session plagued by red flags. By the time Saturday’s qualifying arrived, team and driver got the car sorted out. Their main concern was again enduring a session saturated with red flags. With that in mind, Zwolsman was set on trying to turn quick times early after new tires were installed on his car. He got the top spot and, as expected, another red flag was displayed. With about three minutes left in the session, Zwolsman pressed again and was able to better his own fastest lap. He further solidified the pole position he had already won.

On post qualifying tech inspection, however, it was discovered that the car was carrying tunnel fences that were perfectly legal the last time it ran in competition, but are not currently allowed under series rules. While Atlantic technical personnel admitted the unintentional infraction was due to a simple oversight, the team is ultimately responsible to comply with the rules, so Condor and Zwolsman were penalized with the loss of all timed laps and were forced to start the race from the back of the field. Condor Motorsports was confident that the infraction was not responsible for the quick times posted in qualifying.

After the bitter disappointment of losing their qualifying times, Zwolsman and team set out to prove that the technical violation was of no relevance to the performance of the car or driver. Starting from 19th position, Zwolsman passed cars one by one without major problems. Kyle Kelley proved a little hard to overtake despite the difference in speed between the two cars. In a forced move, Zwolsman overtook Kelley on the outside of Turn 1. From there he was consistently turning laps faster than the leaders. When a full-course yellow situation developed, the opportunity opened the door to close the distance to the front pack. A lap after the restart, on the approach to Turn 1, Zwolsman was able to pass Chris Dyson for fourth place. He later finished third to earn the last podium position.

The Atlantic paddock is delighted that the new series guidelines are finally giving reasonable, modestly-budgeted teams a chance to compete for the Toyota Atlantic title.

Hats off to Bourdais Hats off to BourdaisA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, The past week has been a very positive one for Champ Car fans...lots of good news and vibes from Long Beach to China...but for me the very best news was Sebastien Bourdais winning round 2 of the IROC in only his second start. Brilliant!  Sebastien you ARE the MAN....lest we forget......it is about the racing after all.  Aloha.......Ray Masters, Hawaii  Dear Ray, As we have been saying, this year's crop of Champ Car drivers is, overall, the best in its history.  Solid from top to bottom.  The fact that road racers can go to NASCAR territory and beat them at their own game in their own cars underscores what we have said for a long time, road racers are the best in the world.  They win on ovals on a regular basis, but you won't see an oval racer coming to Champ Car or F1 and winning anytime soon. 

What's particularly galling to road race fans is the huge advantage NASCAR drivers have in IROC. First the sheer number of NASCAR drivers and the way they normally gang up on the other drivers. Second the races are in "stock cars" and third they are all on ovals, ovals they compete on twice a year.  Would love to see someone take the existing Toyota Atlantic cars after they are retired this year and create an IROC series run 100% on road courses.  Better yet, sell them to Jay Signore and get IROC to run two races on ovals in the existing IROC cars and two races on road courses with the Atlantic cars each year.  Then you will have a more equitable "IROC" and the champion will be a true champion. 

Mark Martin, who finished 2nd, was impressed with Bourdais.  "The biggest chance we had was if he would have made a mistake. It didn't look like that would happen," said Martin, whose Daytona win in February was his 12th in IROC. "He did an awesome job. He is an incredibly talented young race car driver." Mark C. See related story

Champ Car to blast down Cleveland streets Champ Car to blast down Cleveland streetsThe streets of Cleveland are about to echo with the roar of a 750 HP Champ Car.   Members of Champ Car’s HVM team will run a turbocharged 750-horsepower Champ Car on Euclid Ave. and will demonstrate a live pit stop featuring 2000 Grand Prix of Cleveland champion Roberto Moreno.  Grand Prix of Cleveland General Manager Rena Shanaman will announce several major sponsorship agreements for the 2005 Roar by the Shore event.  Champ Car World Series President Dick Eidswick and representatives from several key sponsors involved in the 2005 Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland will be on hand.
What: Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Sponsorship Announcement and Champ Car demonstration and pit stop on the streets of Cleveland
When: Tuesday, April 19 at 12:00 PM Eastern Time
Where: Star Plaza, located at 1350 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland’s Theater District
Indy 500 racer Art Cross dies at 87 Indy 500 racer Art Cross dies at 87Art Cross, the first-ever Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 1952 and a runner-up finisher in the 1953 race to Bill Vukovich, died April 15 in La Porte, Ind. He was 87.  Cross, a native of Jersey City, N.J., made four career Indianapolis 500 starts, in consecutive years from 1952-55.  He was the defending AAA National Midget champion when he made his first Indianapolis start in 1952. He finished fifth and entered the history books as the first Rookie of the Year Award winner.

In 1953, with temperatures soaring into the mid-90s on Race Day, Cross managed to finish second in a dirt-track car behind Bill Vukovich. Driver after driver entered the pit area seeking a relief pilot due to the heat, which helped Cross climb through the field.  "Every time I came up to pass somebody," Cross said, "I would look over and think 'That's not Sam Hanks; that's Duane Carter,' or 'That's not Jim Rathmann; that's Eddie Johnson."

Vukovich became known as "The Iron Man" for winning the 1953 race without the aid of a relief driver, but only three-and-a-half minutes later came Cross, also unaided, in his dirt-track machine. A resident of Morristown, N.J., at the time, Cross immediately sunk the greater portion of his prize money of $27,297 into a farm in La Porte and participated in no further races that year.

In 1954, Cross, in another dirt-track car, moved from 27th to the lead in 51 laps. At 300 miles, he required relief. While the car finished 11th, it required four other drivers to reach the checkered flag - Johnnie Parsons, Sam Hanks, Andy Linden and Jimmy Davies.  Another impressive run came in 1955 when Cross, finally in a "roadster," moved from 24th to third by 70 laps; led for 24 laps and was running second when a connecting rod broke after he completed 168 laps.

In a rare non-Indianapolis championship start, Cross competed in the August 1955 race at Milwaukee, which was extended that year from 200 miles to 250. He was leading at 200 miles and salvaged fourth place after a late race stop for fuel.

The Milwaukee race proved to be his final start. He never announced his retirement but just stopped going to races, instead spending time with his family. For several years thereafter, the highly regarded Cross was courted by car owners seeking his services, but he never relented, not even for the legendary Novi car.  Cross was a decorated military veteran of World War II, earning a Purple Heart after being wounded in Belgium when the tank he was driving was bombed just days before the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.  Funeral arrangements are incomplete for Cross, whose wife, Margaret, died just a few days ago.

FIA meeting goes ahead with 3 teams FIA meeting goes ahead with 3 teamsFormula One's governing body ignored a boycott by leading teams on Friday to set out a timetable for approval of the sport's 2008 technical regulations. The FIA said it will finalize a first draft of the rules for 2008 and beyond "no later than 27 May". The draft will then be circulated to the potential teams and current drivers on 1 July subject to approval by FIA's World Motor Sport council on 29 June. Only Ferrari, Red Bull and Jordan attended Friday's meeting in Paris.

FIA president Max Mosley and Formula One commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone were also present. The attendance of Red Bull and Jordan, both under new ownership this year, would be a clear split in the group of nine teams who have isolated Ferrari since last October in a row over testing and the sport's future. The whole process will only have credibility when all of the teams currently competing in Formula One sit down and discuss it properly

"The line has really been drawn in the sand now," said Minardi boss Paul Stoddart, who has taken on the role of unofficial coordinator of the nine teams. "When you have five manufacturers and the two oldest established independent teams not going, that sends out a clear enough message." Ferrari have joined the FIA and Ecclestone in agreeing an extension to 2012 of the sport's existing commercial agreement, which expires at the end of 2007.

Renault, BMW, Mercedes, Honda and Toyota met the nine teams last week, where they agreed not to go to Paris. "This is an attempt to bypass the vast majority of the teams, the manufacturers and the two longest serving independents," said Stoddart of the FIA statement. "The whole process has no credibility and will only have credibility when all of the teams currently competing in Formula One sit down and discuss it properly." The Australian said the FIA's actions also went against procedures set out in the confidential 'Concorde Agreement.' BBC Sport

Scenes from Penske/Porsche announcement Scenes from Penske/Porsche announcementRoger Penske (right) discusses Friday's announcement that Penske Motorsports will field a Porsche in the American Le Mans Series' LMP2 class starting at the Petit Le Mans in the fall. The team will compete full time in 2006.


Peter Schwarzenbauer (photo right), left, and Roger Penske pose after Friday's joint announcement that Penske Racing will field a Porsche LMP2 in the American Le Mans Series' final two races of 2005: Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and the American Le Mans at Laguna Seca. The team will race with the ALMS fulltime in 2006.

Peter Schwarzenbauer (photo left), President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America, was on hand at Road Atlanta on Friday to discuss the manufacturer's return to prototype sports car racing in the American Le Mans Series' LMP2 class.

Scott Atherton (photo right), left, talks with Roger Penske, center, and Peter Schwarzenbauer at Road Atlanta following Friday's announcement that Penske Racing and Porsche will join forces in the manufacturer's return to prototype sports car racing. The new car, in the American Le Mans Series' LMP2 class, will debut at this fall's Petit Le Mans.

Sparco sponsors karting series Sparco sponsors karting seriesAs part of Sparco’s bids to reinforce their presence in the United States karting market the company has signed on to sponsor the Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by the IRL in 2005.  As part of the agreement Sparco will receive trackside signage at all remaining 2005 events and will support distributors (such as UPRacing which will be present at Moran Raceway April 22-24) that display and sell at 2005 Snap-on Stars events.  Sparco already supports many top Snap-on Stars series drivers including Jason Bowles and Phil Giebler.  “Sparco really is looking at the big picture of this by supporting drivers, the series, and their local market distributors, they really put all the puzzle pieces together on their sponsorship investment and that is good for the sport,” stated series marketing director Jeff Swoboda.

Sparco items will have a presence at the UPRacing.com area at the Snap-on Stars event at Moran raceway April 22-24.  We have also discovered that Sparco is going to have special trackside only deals at every event.  “ We look forward to supporting Stars, as it plays a pivotal role in young driver development.  Stars is one of the premier feeder series and training grounds for all aspiring professional racers in North America,” said Mike Morita, Director of Marketing for Sparco.  You can learn more about Sparco and their karting products at www.sparcousa.com.  Those with any promotional or media inquiries about the Moran event should contact jeff@starsofkarting.com.

Don’t miss Toyota Atlantic race Don’t miss Toyota Atlantic raceUPDATE The Long Beach Toyota Atlantic event will also be re-broadcast on SPEED Channel at 4 a.m. ET on Monday, April 18 and again at 1 p.m. ET on Monday, April 25. All 12 events on the 2005 Atlantic schedule will air on SPEED. 04/15/05 A reminder that the Long Beach Toyota Atlantic race will be shown Saturday, April 16, 2005, on SPEED Channel at 2:00 p.m. EST.  Katherine Legge won in her debut race with a sterling performance.  Related article
IRL plays part in ABC’s "Extreme Makeover" IRL plays part in ABC’s "Extreme Makeover"Peggy Chalk was a bundle of nervous anticipation recently at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. She was getting her son, Nathan, back. But her anxiety concerned the "new" Nathan.  Chalk, an IndyCar Series fan of Florence, Ky., was selected from thousands of applicants to undergo an all-expenses-paid physical transformation courtesy of the hit ABC-TV show "Extreme Makeover." The episode aired April 14.

A few weeks later, reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice broke the news to the laid-off factory worker via a taped message at a watering hole near his home. IndyCar Series Dan Wheldon then whisked away Chalk in the Jim Beam drink smart two-seater "for your extreme makeover."

With tears of joy streaming down her cheeks, Peggy Chalk bid goodbye and good luck to the eldest of her three sons. Two months later, there were additional tears and infinitely more hugs as family and friends welcomed him back during the "reveal," introduced by Wheldon and held amid the historic race cars and Indianapolis 500 memorabilia.

"Eight weeks ago we gave Nate the green flag for an extreme makeover. Tonight, he is literally in Victory Lane. Start not your engines, but your applause," said Wheldon before stepping aside for the huddled group of family and friends to watch his dramatic entrance.  "He looks like Nathan, but ..." Peggy Chalk said at first blush.

Monterrey contruction on schedule Monterrey contruction on scheduleAutoRacing1.com visited Fundidora Park today and they are already working on the temporary circuit - installing the safety barriers, and the grandstands. It seems that everything will be done on time. José Arrambide reporting from Mexico
Allmendinger tops Thursday test times at PIR Allmendinger tops Thursday test times at PIRLast year’s Roshfran’s Rookie-of-the-Year A.J. Allmendinger (#10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) looks to be regaining his form after setting the fastest time in two days of testing at the newly reconfigured Portland International Raceway.

Allmendinger led a field of 16 competitors over the course of two days around the 1.969-mile Portland International Raceway layout which has been changed since last year’s event.  PIR officials have paved over the gravel trap area in the tricky Festival Curves, a spot where many a driver has seen their podium dreams sink.  The Champ Car teams were testing in preparation for the June 19 Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland Presented by G.I. Joe’s, Round Four of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

“Overall I think we had a great day of testing,” said Allmendinger. “We made a lot of progress on the car from start to finish. We still have a bit more work to do, but we really narrowed the gap of where we were and where we should be. I had the quickest lap of the day, so I’m pretty happy.”

The 23-year-old, Allmendinger set the fastest lap at 57.04 seconds and was joined at the top of the speed charts by his RuSPORT teammate Justin Wilson (#9 SanDisk Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) who clocked the second quick time of 57.11 seconds.

“I think we had a pretty reasonable day,” said Wilson. “We learned more, made progress, and continued our push forward. It’s a very positive situation here at RuSPORT because we know what needs improving and what we need to do to get it done. So, I think it was a good day.”

Mario Dominguez, (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) who led yesterday’s test session improved his time to 57.18 seconds. Dominguez was followed on the charts by Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) who recorded a best lap of 57.20 seconds.

“There’s still so much we can learn about the Lola,” said the Canadian Tagliani.  “We have been trying a lot of configurations here and have done some great long runs with full fuel.  We wanted to simulate race conditions and I think we can be competitive here in June.  We also worked hard on our fuel mileage during this test.”

Fellow Canadian Andrew Ranger (#27 Mi-Jack/Tide Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rounded out the top-five with a time of 57.40 seconds.  In all eleven drivers eclipsed the 2004 pole time of 59.229 seconds by more than one second.  Teams will now prepare for the May 22 event at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico.

Times for Thursday’s testing as reported by Cosworth engineers appear below.
1) A.J. Allmendinger (#10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 57.04
2) Justin Wilson (#9 SanDisk Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 57.11
3) Mario Dominguez (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 57.18
4) Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 57.20
5) Andrew Ranger (#27 Mi-Jack/Tide Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 57.40
6) Bruno Junqueira (#2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 57.41
7) Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 57.44
8) Timo Glock (#8 Deutsche Post Speed Academy Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 57.46
9) Sebastien Bourdais  (#1 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 57.52
10) Ryan Hunter-Reay (#31 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 57.65
11) Oriol Servia (#19 American Medical Response Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 58.15
12) Marcus Marshall (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 58.49
13) Nelson Philippe (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 58.60

Minardi complete PS05 shakedown Minardi complete PS05 shakedownAs the gleaming transporter pulled away from the Minardi factory at 7:30 this morning, it marked the culmination of a monumental effort by the entire Faenza squad. Inside the trailer was the first Minardi Cosworth PS05, the team’s 2005 Formula One car, and it was en route to the Mugello circuit, where it would undergo its initial shakedown test in the hands of Christijan Albers.

All concerned were well aware that it was only the gritty determination of Minardi staff and the unstinting support of technical partners and suppliers that had allowed the team to complete its first PS05 chassis in time to take part in today’s test session.

Happily, the effort was well rewarded, the dramatic-looking new car running without any major technical issues, and accumulating a total of 204 kms during the course of its initial outing. Minardi personnel returned to Faenza at the conclusion of the test both pleased and satisfied with the day’s events, but also focused on the task of completing the second PS05 chassis in time for next weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix, the team’s 325th event in Formula One World Championship competition.

“It was a good day, and I have to say, it was a terrific feeling to give the new car its first run. I would like to compliment the entire team. They did a great job to get the first PS05 chassis ready for today’s test, and I was then able to cover a useful distance without any significant problems. I was also very happy with the performance of the Cosworth CR6 engine, which felt both powerful and responsive. We now have to start working seriously on chassis set-up, and clearly, we have a great deal to learn about the car. This means Imola is likely to be quite a challenge for us, but there’s huge motivation and enthusiasm within the team, and I know that we are going to make progress.”

Gian Carlo Minardi, Director - “Today, I think we can truly say, ‘well begun is half done’. It was wonderful to witness the new car leaving the factory this morning for its first test. The PS05 is yet again clear evidence of the fantastic skills of everyone on this team, and there is still a sense of overwhelming emotion on such occasions, even after so many years. I hope that what I have seen taking place here in recent days will represent just the starting point for major achievements that everyone at Minardi well deserves.”

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal - “It was a proud day for everyone at Minardi, particularly the design team led by Technical Director, Gabriele Tredozi, when the first PS05 took to the track at Mugello this morning. It represented the culmination of an enormous effort by the entire Minardi team, and marks the true beginning of our 2005 season. When one considers that the engine, gearbox, and entire chassis are new, and that so many systems are untried, the potential for teething problems was significant. The fact the car ran faultlessly, however, really sums up the efforts of the whole team – fantastic! Unfortunately, there was also a sad note today, as one member of staff who was absolutely critical to the completion of the PS05 could not be present to see it run. Sandro Parrini’s father passed away this morning, and our thoughts are therefore very much with him and his family at this time.”  Minardi

German DTM
Audi fastest in DTM practice Audi fastest in DTM practiceSuccessful start for the new Audi A4 DTM in the DTM season opener at Hockenheim: the Dane Tom Kristensen drove the fastest time by far during the two official tests on Friday. The fact that the DTM 2004 champions’ car is still competitive was proven by Christian Abt, who clocked the sixth best time of the day. All Audi drivers completed different test programs on Friday in order to collect as much data as possible.   The qualifying practice on Saturday will start at 1.30 p.m., the super pole at 2.25 p.m. Audi
Ferrari's final day of testing Ferrari's final day of testingFourth and final day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, once again working simultaneously at two circuits. At Fiorano, at the wheel of an F2005, Michael Schumacher worked on a Bridgestone tire development program. During the session, the World Champion covered 142 laps (6 on the short version of the track) the quickest in 57’’222. At Mugello, driving another F2005, Rubens Barrichello also carried out a technical program centered on tires. The Brazilian driver completed 77 laps (8 on the short version of the track) with a best time of 1’21’’920. The Scuderia resumes testing next Monday, 18thApril, when Luca Badoer will take to the track at Monza, with an F2004M. Ferrari
Bourdais getting lesson on ovals Bourdais getting lesson on ovalsUPDATE Sebastien Bourdais will once again represent the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford tonight in Round 2 of the International Race of Champions (IROC) at Texas Motor Speedway. 

Bourdais, driver of the #1 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone in the Champ Car World Series will be capping off a whirlwind week of on-track activity.  After winning the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, Bourdais flew to Texas Motor Speedway to test in his IROC car.  Following the IROC test, the 26-year-old Frenchmen, flew to Portland to test his Champ Car on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Bourdais returned to Texas for practice on Thursday, preparing for tonight’s 67-lap event. 

“It’s quite different than what I’ve been doing over the last week, for sure,” said the 2004 Vanderbilt Cup winner. “The IROC cars are about twice the weight, or more of my Champ Car. The suspension, the movement and the seating position are so different, but it has four-wheels and a steering wheel, which means I’m having a great time.”

Bourdais’ debut in IROC at Daytona International Speedway was going well after he drew the pole position for the event.  After jockeying back and forth through the field, Bourdais was making a late-race charge to the top-five before he was caught up in an incident that relegated him to a 12th place finish.  For the second consecutive event Bourdais will start from the pole as the starting lineup for the tonight’s event will be set by inverting the finishing order from Daytona.  It is also the second time that Bourdais will be racing at a circuit he has never raced on before.

"This is my first time here at Texas,” said Bourdais. “For me it’s a bit like a mini-Daytona, it’s quite fun and a pretty smooth race track. It’s 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.”  Tonight’s race will air on SPEED tonight at 8:00 ET Champ Car

04/14/05 Tampa resident Sebastien Bourdais hasn't had much experience driving on ovals. But that is changing quickly.  The 26-year-old Frenchman is the reigning champion in the Champ Car World Series, which races mostly on road and street circuits. The only ovals on its 14-race schedule this year are in Milwaukee and Las Vegas.  But Bourdais is getting a crash course in the techniques of oval racing and drafting this year as part of the invitation-only Crown Royal International Race of Champions Series, which will compete Friday at Texas Motor Speedway in the second of four races this season.  Coming off a season-opening Champ Car victory Sunday on the temporary street course in Long Beach, Calif., Bourdais jumped into an IROC car Monday for his first laps on the banked 11/2-mile Fort Worth oval.  "It's quite different than what I've been doing over the last week, for sure," Bourdais said. SPTimes
Newman/Haas team completes test Newman/Haas team completes testPacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira and McDonald’s® driver Sebastien Bourdais completed a two-day test on the 1.96-mile Portland International Raceway road course yesterday and continued to learn new race setups in order to defend their 2004 title earned by Bourdais as well as earn their first back-to-back title in the 2005 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.     “We tried different race setups and worked on a few areas and came away with some new knowledge,” said John Tzouanakis, team manager for Newman/Haas Racing. “We were a little off the pace of the fast guys and would have liked to have seen faster times but overall we were happy to gain the knowledge we did.”

Junqueira completed 232 miles of testing in his primary car and 24 in his backup over the two days while Bourdais completed 279 in his primary car and 53 in his backup.  At the end of the test Junqueira was ranked fifth overall while Bourdais was ninth or the drivers present at the test.  Next up for the Champ Car World Series will be the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix in Monterrey, Mexico on May 22.

Jarno is Trulli a Dad Jarno is Trulli a DadOn the heels of the Montoyas having a child comes word that Jarno Trulli and his wife Barbara had their first child this afternoon.  Named after his grandfather, Enzo Trulli was expected to be born in Switzerland, where Jarno and Barbara now live, after the Grand Prix of San Marino. However, he surprised everybody by arriving during their holidays in Pescara before the race. He came into the world weighing 2,75 kg and measuring 47 cm long.  Both mother and baby are doing well.
Rossi apologizes Rossi apologizesThe main protagonists of the MotoGP World Championship resumed business at the Estoril circuit in Portugal this afternoon in more amicable fashion than they had separated at Jerez on Sunday, with Valentino Rossi making a veiled apology to his rival Sete Gibernau for the shoulder injury caused when the pair clashed in the final corner of the opening round of the new season.

Whilst Gibernau missed the pre-event press conference for the betandwin.com Grande Premio de Portugal this afternoon as he continues to undergo treatment on an old tendon problem that flared up in the controversial incident, the Italian moved to cool the tension that has mounted in the short space of time between the two events.

“I’ve watched the incident on television and you can see my brake hits his shoulder,” reflected Rossi, who went on to take victory as Gibernau ran into the gravel before clinching second. “At the time I didn’t understand why he was hurt because it was a slow corner and the contact was very soft, but I didn’t realize he has had operations on this injury in the past. I am sorry if he is not 100% but for sure this will be another great battle.”

Norris leaves Penske for Roush Norris leaves Penske for RoushRobbie Reiser, who leads Kenseth's Cup team, is pulling double duty this weekend and expects to do so for the rest of the season. Chad Norris, former car chief for Ryan Newman's Penske South Nextel Cup team, has joined Roush Racing and is the heir apparent, Reiser said Thursday at Texas Motor Speedway. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Hmiel gets TMS Busch pole Hmiel gets TMS Busch poleQualifying for the O'Reilly 300 (1.5mi oval):
1) Shane Hmiel, No. 32 WinFul Chevrolet, 28.445sec/189.840mph
2) Martin Truex, No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, 28.475/189.640
3) Carl Edwards, No. 60 Charter Comm. Ford, 28.499/189.480
4) Justin Labonte, No. 44 U.S. Coast Guard Chevy, 28.520/189.341
5) Mark Martin, No. 9 Pennzoil Ford, 28.556/189.102
6) Tony Stewart, No. 33 Outdoor Channel Chevrolet, 28.585/188.910
7) Jon Wood, No. 47 Clorox Ford, 28.600/188.811
8) Greg Biffle, No. 66 Duraflame Ford, 28.606/188.772
9) Denny Hamlin, No 20 Rockwell Chevrolet, 28.613/188.725
10) Johnny Sauter, No. 1 Yellow Trans Dodge, 28.613/188.725
11) Michel Jourdain, No. 10 Ford, 28.615/188.712
12) Michael Waltrip, No. 99 Aaron's Chevrolet, 28.617/188.619
13) Blake Feese, No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet, 28.651/188.475
14) Joe Nemechek, No. 87 Cellular One Chevrolet, 28.667/188.370
15) Reed Sorenson, No. 41 Discount Tire Dodge, 28.672/188.337
16) Jamie McMuray, No. 64 Top-Flite Dodge, 28.735/187.924
17) Ashton Lewis, No. 25 U.S. Marines Ford, 28.820/187.370
18) Jeremy Mayfield, No. 6 Hellman's Dodge, 28.840/187.240
19) Elliott Sadler, No. 90 Citi Financial Ford, 28.859/187.117
20) Paul Menard, No. 11 Menard's Chevrolet, 28.859/187.117
21) Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Waste Management Ford, 28.880/186.981
22) Kenny Wallace, No. 22 Stacker2 Ford, 28.882/186.968
23) Jason Keller, No. 35 McDonald's Ford, 29.039/185.957
24) David Green, No. 27 Scott Ford, 29.047/185.906
25) Kasey Kahne, No. 38 Greg Clips Dodge, 29.077/185.714
26) Eric McClure, No. 52 Ford, 29.123/185.421
27) Jerry Robertson, No. 78 Chevrolet, 29.141/185.306
28) David Stremme, No. 14 U.S. Navy Dodge, 29.179/185.065
29) Clint Bowyer, No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet, 29.185/185.027
30) Sterling Marlin, No. 40 Jai-King Dodge, 29.213/184.849
31) Brandon Miller, No. 21 Reese's Chevrolet, 29.230/184.742
32) Geoff Bodine, No. 72 Doubleday's Chevrolet, 29.246/184.641
33) Tim Fedewa, No. 12 Supercuts Dodge, 29.388/183.749
34) David Ragan, No. 16 Spectra Metals Chevrolet, 29.417/183.567
35) Stacy Compton, No. 49 Kingsford Ford, 29.460/183.299
36) Kertus Davis, No. 0 RaceGirl Chevrolet, 29.502/183.038
37) Brent Sherman, No. 48 Consort Dodge, 29.681/181.935
38) Derrike Cope, No. 28 Radio Shack Ford, 29.687/181.898
39) Stanton Barrett, No. 36 Tucson Chevrolet, 29.724/181.671
40) Randy LaJoie, No. 34 Dollar General Chevrolet, 29.831/181.020
41) Ryan Hemphill, No. 4 GEICO Dodge, 33.689/160.290
42) JJ Yeley, No. 18 Vigoro/Home Depot Chev, 1m08.619sec/78.695
43) Steve Grissom, No. 49 Advil Ford, points
Did not qualify:
Aaron Fike, No. 43 Channellock Dodge, 29.754
Mark Green, No. 7 Boudreaux's Chevrolet, 30.381
Kyle Busch, No. 57 Spectracide Chevrolet, no time
Shawna Robinson, No. 23 Vassarette Chevrolet, no time
Eventful testing day at McLaren Eventful testing day at McLarenThe Team McLaren Mercedes team continued its second day of testing Thursday at Paul Ricard, with Alex Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa behind the wheel of MP4-20s. Alex completed his program today which was concentrating on car set up and Michelin tire development work for the forthcoming San Marino Grand Prix. Alex did have a spin this morning, however the car was not damaged and after being wheeled back to the garage, he continued with his planned program.

Pedro was concentrating on set up work this morning. He experienced mechanical problems this afternoon which resulted in him losing three hours of track time while the team repaired the car. He then went back out on track at approximately 16:00, but suffered an engine failure at 17:15 prematurely ending his program. Alex was the seventh fastest man on track today, completing 139 laps, with a fastest time of 1m03.790s. Pedro ended up eighth with a time of 1m03.863s. McLaren Mercedes

Sunday festivities at 2005 Canadian GP Sunday festivities at 2005 Canadian GPThe Grand Prix of Canada is pleased to announce that following the eighth round of the Formula 1 World Championship on June 12, internationally acclaimed Montreal band Simple Plan will perform on a special stage in the hairpin of the east portion of the circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. In addition to soaking up the early summer sun and the pleasant surroundings, the public has yet another reason to prolong their day on Ile Notre Dame.

“Many Grand Prix enthusiasts have mentioned that they enjoy staying on the site after the race. For those who like to take advantage of the enjoyable ambiance and extend their stay on the island, we’ve decided this year to offer an exclusive musical performance of international caliber,” says Martin Spalding, Vice-President and General Manager of the Grand Prix of Canada. Sunday circuit Gilles-Villeneuve ticket-holders can make their way to the hairpin after the race for Simple Plan to take place at 3:30p.m. A detailed schedule will be announced at a later date.

‘’We're all very excited to be a part of the Grand Prix of Canada. It's the biggest event of the summer in Montreal and we're extremely proud to have the chance to play such a huge show in our hometown! We watched the race every year on TV and we're all looking forward to finally being there in person. We cannot wait to see all of our Quebec fans again after being gone for so long touring the world. See you all at the show!’’ says Simple Plan.

A driving force on the global music scene with millions of fans worldwide, these five Montreal musicians are as resoundingly successful on stage as they are on disc. The band is in the middle of a worldwide tour that has already been to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and The Philippines. Simple Plan's appearance at the Grand Prix of Canada will be their first Montreal performance in 2005. “When we decided to add Simple Plan to the Sunday Grand Prix schedule we also decided to highlight our homegrown talent. This is an opportunity for their light to shine before an international audience in their own hometown,” adds Mr. Spalding.

Grandstand tickets for the three days of events, and general admission tickets for Sunday only, are now on sale at the Grand Prix of Canada box office. “At $60, general admission tickets for Sunday have much to offer,” explains Mr. Spalding. “The action-packed morning features the Formula 1 Qualifying 2 and the driver’s parade, the Ferrari Challenge race and the Formula BMW race, followed by the eighth round of the Formula 1 World Championship and an afternoon performance by one of the hottest bands on the international music scene.” A limited number of grandstand and general admission tickets are available.

Homestead Ford Weekend tickets on sale Homestead Ford Weekend tickets on saleTickets to Ford Championship Weekend, the season-finales of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series to be held "under the lights" on November 17-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, go on sale to the general public at 9 a.m., Saturday, April 16.  Tickets may be purchased by calling (305) 230-RACE (7223) or 1-866-409-RACE, on-line at homesteadmiamispeedway.com., or at any TicketMaster outlet in the state of Florida.

Ford Championship Weekend, which in 2005 will be held under the lights for the first time, features Ford 400, the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup finale on Sunday, November 20.  Last season, the Ford 400 sold out several weeks in advance.  "Ford Championship Weekend has become the toughest annual sports ticket to obtain in South Florida," said Curtis Gray, President Homestead-Miami Speedway.  "With the addition of the new lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway, this spectacular NASCAR championship event will sell out early again.  We encourage fans to act now and secure their tickets to this year's Ford Championship Weekend."

The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Ford 400, is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 20 and conclude under the lights.  The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Ford 200 will also run under the lights with an 8 p.m. scheduled start time on Friday, November 18.  The start time for the NASCAR Busch Series Ford 300 on Saturday, November 19 is still to be determined and will be released at a later date.  A detailed competition schedule for the entire Ford Championship Weekend will also be released at a later date.  All times are tentative and subject to change.  For more information or to purchase tickets to Ford Championship Weekend, call (305) 230-RACE; 1-866-409-RACE, log on homesteadmiamispeedway.com or call any TicketMaster outlet in Florida.

Speed World Challenge
Watch and win contest Watch and win contestBeginning with this weekend's SPEED Channel coverage of the SPEED GT Championship Series from Road Atlanta (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET), SPEED Channel and Toyo Tires will offer viewers a chance to win an October trip for two to see the SPEED World Challenge races at Laguna Seca in California.

The SPEED World Challenge Toyo Tires "Driven to Perform" Sweepstakes is asking viewers to follow the SPEED GT Championship Series throughout the season, looking for the featured "Driven to Perform" in-car camera. Viewers then enter the car number carrying the camera for that race on SPEEDTV.com to become eligible for weekly prizes, and the chance at the season-ending grand prize.

"As the Series Title Sponsor and broadcaster, SPEED Channel has teamed with Toyo Tires to bring our viewers closer than ever to the action in the SPEED World Challenge Championships.," said Bill Osborn, SPEED Channel SVP Marketing and On-Air Promotion.  "World Challenge delivers some of the most intense and competitive road racing around and the "Driven to Perform" Sweepstakes gives fans a chance to further connect with the racing."

Weekly winners can choose from one of six Toyo Tire models, including the Toyo Proxes RA-1, the exclusive tire on ALL cars in both the Touring Car and GT series.  The Grand Prize winner will enjoy an all expense paid trip for two to the Speed World Challenge Season Finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where they'll experience the series in an up-close-personal way, including tickets to the Series' Year End Awards Banquet.

"Every SPEED World Challenge car, from Cadillac to Viper and Acura to BMW, runs on Toyo Proxes RA-1 tires and we are proud to be a key partner in presenting the most relevant and exciting racing in the country,"  said Travis Roffler, senior director of marketing, Toyo Tire USA Corp "World Challenge demonstrates the consistent performance that is at the heart of every tire,  from the race-inspired RA-1 to the all-weather Proxes 4, in the Proxes line of performance tires."

SPEED Channel telecast schedule for the SPEED World Challenge GT Championship Series (all times ET and subject to change; check local listings):
Road Atlanta (April 17, 1 p.m.)
Mid-Ohio (May 28, 4 p.m.)
Cleveland (June 26, 5 p.m.)
Lime Rock (July 3, 5 p.m.)
Sonoma (July 17, 6 p.m.)
Portland (July 30, 6 p.m.)
Denver (Aug. 20, 2 p.m.)
Mosport (Sept. 10, 1 p.m.)

Record Rolex field Record Rolex fieldWhen the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series makes its first visit to the historic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Road & Track 250 on the weekend of April 29-May 1, the garage area will be an extremely busy place.

Rolex Series officials announced today that 52 cars have been entered for the groundbreaking event on the Monterey Peninsula, the most entries the series has ever had for a “sprint race.” In addition to the bumper crop of Rolex Series machines, 50 cars have been entered for Saturday’s featured Grand-Am Cup 200, with Formula BMW and MazdaSpeed Miata Cup also on the docket.

Leading the way in the 23-car Daytona Prototype field will be the Rolex Series’ most recent overall winners, Luis Diaz and Scott Pruett in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley. The duo claimed a thrilling victory in the closest Rolex Series finish ever in the Ferrari Maserati 400 at California Speedway on April 3. While this will be Diaz’s first race around the 2.238-mile road course in a sports car, the Mexican has previous experience at Laguna Seca in open-wheel machines. Pruett—a native Californian—is certainly no stranger to “The Corkscrew,” the “Andretti Hairpin” and “Wayne Rainey Curve,” having competed in several Champ Car and sports car events on the Monterey track.

Also among the regular competitors in the Road & Track 250 field will be current Rolex Series Daytona Prototype co-points leaders and two-time 2005 race winners Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli with their No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley. A 29-car GT field features San Francisco’s Justin Marks—who shares the No. 16 F1 Air BMW M3 with Tom Milner on the four-car BMW Team PTG—and Sacramento native Joey Hand, who earned a GT class victory in the Ferrari Maserati 400 at California Speedway earlier this month alongside co-driver Bill Auberlen in the No. 21 BMW Financial Services M3, also for Team PTG.

Among the Daytona Prototype newcomers will be a familiar name to California race fans as Alex Gurney—the son of the legendary Dan Gurney—is set to make his Rolex Series debut in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley with co-driver Bob Stallings, while Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr. debut another new-for-2005 entry with the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley. The GT field has been expanded with the addition of the No. 12 JMB Racing USA Ferrari 360 Challenge of David Gooding, Tom Jermoluk and Dan Kennedy, as well as Monterey’s own Kevin Buckler and Steve Johnson in the No. 88 Porsche GT3 Cup for Buckler’s Sonoma-based TRG team among others.

“As we begin an exciting new relationship with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, we’re delighted that Rolex Series history has been made before we’ve even turned a wheel at this beautiful facility,” said Grand American President Roger Edmondson. “We’re obviously thrilled with the impressive number of entries we’ve already had, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see even a few more entries before we arrive to race in two weeks. Sports car fans in the Monterey Peninsula are definitely in for a treat.”

The Road & Track 250 will be televised live on SPEED Channel beginning at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 1. Tickets for the Road & Track 250 and the entire U.S. Sports Car Invitational weekend are available by calling 1-800-327-SECA or by visiting www.laguna-seca.com. The entry list is available on www.grandamerican.com.

Wheldon receives key to the city of St. Petersburg Wheldon receives key to the city of St. PetersburgDan Wheldon, driver of Andretti Green Racing's No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, was given a "Key to the City" of St. Petersburg, Fla., on April 14.  St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker presented a key to Wheldon, who led a "1-2-3-4" sweep by Andretti Green Racing at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and to Barry Green, Michael Andretti, Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, who led Andretti Green Promotions' efforts at the event. The ceremony took place at City Hall in St. Petersburg. Mayor Baker also retroactively declared April 3, 2005 as "Dan Wheldon Day" in St. Petersburg.

Wheldon, a St. Petersburg resident who lives less than five minutes from the site of the temporary street circuit, capped a near-perfect weekend for Andretti Green Racing by winning the Indy Racing League's first non-oval event on April 3. The win was Wheldon's second IndyCar Series victory in 2005, the fifth of his career and extended his lead in the IndyCar Series point standings to 24 over teammate Tony Kanaan.

"I'm still a little overwhelmed by this," said Wheldon. "I lived in St. Pete in 1999, and it has a special place in my heart because it was where I started my career off in America. Mayor Baker is a big fan of the IndyCar Series and mine because I am a resident. So, for me to win the race for St. Pete, in St. Pete, with him watching and being such a key player in making the race as big as it was - to receive the 'Key to the City' is a privilege and an honor. I'm kind of nervous for the Mayor. Who would ever give Dan Wheldon a key to their city?"

Patrick gives driving lessons to NFL star Patrick gives driving lessons to NFL starA few minutes in Danica Patrick's pit stall at Infineon Raceway on April 13 heightened Amani Toomer's anticipation of the next day. It also gave him a better understanding of the technology and athleticism inherent to the IndyCar Series.

The New York Giants star wide receiver was taking in the on-track and behind-the-scenes action of the IndyCar Series Open Test on the 2.3-mile, 12-turn course. On April 14, Patrick gave him a lesson in the proper driving of a shifter kart at the ESPN Russell Racing School. The day was captured on film and in text for a mid-May article in ESPN the Magazine and a 30-minute ESPN special to air June 11.

"When I found out I had the opportunity, I was super-excited," said Toomer, listening to the team's radio transmissions on a headset. "It's just what I wanted to do for fun. I'll be able to experience what the drivers go through."

Well, sort of. It wasn't in a sleek, technologically advanced IndyCar Series machine like Patrick is driving for Rahal Letterman Racing. But he can appreciate the athleticism needed to compete on road courses such as Infineon Raceway and ovals.

"The hand-eye coordination needed is amazing," Toomer said. "They have to maneuver it in a way that they become one with the machine. I'm also really impressed by the amount of work and effort it takes to get these machines to perform at their best."

Castroneves, Rice prepare for round two of IROC Castroneves, Rice prepare for round two of IROCBuddy Rice couldn't stop himself from teasing Helio Castroneves when he overheard the fellow IndyCar® Series competitor talking about the April 15 Crown Royal International Race of Champions event at Texas Motor Speedway (7 p.m. EDT on Speed Channel).

"He needs more seat time," joked Rice, who posted one of the fastest laps of the drivers who tested this week.  "If I need seat time, then so does Buddy," Castroneves shot back. "You had a good lap, but his yellow car was fast anyway."

Rice and Castroneves, who have three Indianapolis 500 victories between them, will represent the IndyCar Series in the event, which pits drivers from various racing series against each other in identically prepared stock cars. Castroneves, driving the No. 03 day glow car, will start fifth and Rice, driving the No. 15 burgundy car, will start eighth in the 67-lap race on the 1.5-mile high-banked oval.

"I'm definitely looking forward to it," said Rice, who finished fifth in the opening round of the four-race series at Daytona International Speedway in February. "It will depend on the luck of the draw. You can't hurt the front tire, and you have to stay out of trouble. Hopefully, the second groove will come in, and you will see some good side-by-side racing. If not, you may see some nudging, but hopefully it won't come to that."

Unlike Daytona, the IndyCar Series drivers will have some knowledge of the track as Texas Motor Speedway plays host to an annual IndyCar Series event in June. The third leg of the series is Sept. 8 at Richmond International Raceway - another IndyCar Series stop.

"It's so different from our cars to the IROC car because you sit so much higher and it rolls so differently," Rice said. "You can run flat around there, but you can try different lines. It's pretty impressive. It doesn't look nearly as bumpy."

"It's a great track," Castroneves said. "I'm sure we're going to have a good time. It's a place people enjoy in the IndyCar Series and in NASCAR, so I'm looking forward to it."

Viso tops 2nd day of testing Viso tops 2nd day of testingErnesto Viso (right) has set the quickest lap time in Spain on the second and final day of GP2 series testing at his team's home track. The second and final day of GP2 series testing has finished here in Spain, with BCN Competicion’s Ernesto Viso finishing the day with the quickest time. Viso set a fantastic benchmark time in the morning session and nobody was able to beat it, despite late efforts in the afternoon session from iSport International’s Scott Speed, and DPR’s Olivier Pla.

Nicolas Lapierre continued where team-mate Heikki Kovalainen had left off yesterday by putting in a brace of quick laps. The Frenchman could not quite emulate the performance the Finn showed yesterday, but finished a fine second. Kovalainen, meanwhile, finished 11th.

Surprises of the final day were the blistering speed of Olivier Pla in the DPR to set the third quickest time, and the performance of Viso’s Japanese team-mate Hiroki Yoshimoto who finished fourth. Yoshimoto has impressed many with his speed and consistency in testing, and a performance such as this on the eve of the opening round of the championship is sure to fill him with confidence.

Indeed, the lap times covering the top drivers have remained incredibly close, with the top ten and often more being covered by less than a second. With this in mind, there is a huge buzz rushing through the paddock as everyone looks forward to our first two races in San Marino. This time next week, the teams will already have arrived in Imola for Round 1 of the 2005 GP2 series. Things are looking perfectly poised.

1. Viso – BCN Competicion 1:24.702
2. Lapierre – Arden International 1:24.824
3. Pla – DPR 1:24.868
4. Yoshimoto – BCN Competicion 1:24.901
5. Speed – iSport International 1:24.904
6. Alvarez – Campos Racing 1:24.921
7. Rosberg – ART Grand Prix 1:24.947
8. Bruni – Coloni Motorsport 1:25.014
9. García – Racing Engineering 1:25.041
10. Lopez – DAMS 1:25.228
11. Kovalainen – Arden International 1:25.296
12. Piquet Jr – Hitech Piquet Sports 1:25.313
13. Jani – Racing Engineering 1:25.607
14. Sharp – DPR 1:25.719
15. Hernández – Campos Racing 1:25.774
16. Prémat – ART Grand Prix 1:25.778
17. Carroll – Super Nova Int. 1:25.778
18. Pantano – Super Nova Int. 1:25.962
19. Piccione – Durango 1:26.083
20. Fauzy – DAMS 1:26.338
21. Negrão – Hitech Piquet Sports 1:26.514
22. Artam – iSport International 1:26.872
23. Monfardini – Durango 1:27.376
24. Lauda – Coloni Motorsport 1:27.609

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Montoya will go to Imola
Stellar Sato at Paul Ricard
Klien's green light
'Curvy' new Minardi
Coulthard and 2006
GP2 team with eye on F1
Horner's a busy boy
'I'm paid a salary' - DC
Heidfeld's out
Alain Prost and son

BAR back in business
Paul and Gian Carlo Minardi
Minardi to debut at Mugello
Busch on Today Show Busch on Today ShowUPDATE Reminder that this airs Friday morning. 04/13/05 Kyle Busch, driver of the NEXTEL Cup No. 5 Chevrolet, will be featured this week on the Today Show.  The segment, which will air Friday, April 15 on NBC, was filmed at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last weekend.  Check local listings.
What's Chris Pook up to? What's Chris Pook up to?Chris Pook, the man who founded the Grand Prix of Long Beach and was the last chief of CART before he brought it to bankruptcy, plans to get back in racing. His Sea Festival of Long Beach organization has proposed sanctioning the 99-year-old Transpacific Yacht Race from the California coast to Honolulu along with a new companion female race announced by the city for July. Both events will be sponsored by the city of Long Beach, which is weighing Pook’s proposal. NSSN
Atlanta NASCAR’s biggest market Atlanta NASCAR’s biggest marketNASCAR says recent Nielsen numbers show Atlanta as the No. 1 TV viewing market for Nextel Cup events. Through the first four races of the season, Atlanta averaged 309,000 households tuning in. New York City showed a 28-percent bump to 240,000 homes, while LA fell nine percent to 202,000.
Scenes from Jay Leno Show Scenes from Jay Leno ShowHere are some scenes from the filming of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno last Friday where Memo Gidley took Paul Newman for a ride in the Champ Car two-seater.


Fittipaldi gives up on NASCAR Fittipaldi gives up on NASCARChristian Fittipaldi's hopes of finding a full-time ride in NASCAR are over for the time being. Instead, he is going back to his native country to compete in the 12-race Brazilian Stock Car Championship. The first race of the season is set for May1 at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo. The 34-year-old driver tested last fall in one of the Brazilian cars owned by his father, former Formula One driver and broadcaster Wilson Fittipaldi. He signed with the Terra Avallone team, where he will drive a 450-horsepower Mitsubishi Lancer. The younger Fittipaldi, a longtime open-wheel star who raced in Formula One and CART, attempted to make the move to NASCAR's top series in 2003 with Petty Enterprises but couldn't come up with enough sponsorship to make it work. SPTimes
San Jose track upgrades commence San Jose track upgrades commenceJust days after the San Jose City Council voted yes on San Jose Grand Prix's new track, relocation work has commenced on the actual track construction. Paving crews have began the process of repaving the circuit beginning with Almaden Blvd.  Representatives from Raich Paving are using an asphalt with an higher oil level to counteract the high speeds and constant pounding of the Champ Cars. Track officials had set a completion date of April 30th, but it is not known if the track relocation has pushed this date back. 

We have included some photos of the Almaden Blvd construction and paving. The two photos of the old historic homes are located on Balbach Ave. Both of these home are in the process of being removed. The two piece home will be the site of a grandstand area. Paul Castoro reporting from San Jose


BAR Honda sets the pace BAR Honda sets the paceLucky Strike B·A·R Honda continued to set the pace in testing this week with the completion of an intensive two-day, two-car test at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. Hot on the heels of last week's Barcelona test in which Jenson Button broke the lap record, Takuma Sato and Jenson ended today at the top of the timesheets in first and second places with Takuma setting a new unofficial lap record for the Paul Ricard circuit.

Having completed almost 6000kms of back-to-back testing, the team is confident that it has met its development objectives with the introduction of new aerodynamic upgrades, whilst reliability has also been excellent. In the knowledge that a significant step forward has been achieved, and with all its testing requirements completed in two days rather than the anticipated three, B·A·R Honda took the decision to save a day from its 30 day testing allocation and go home early. The team is looking forward to the first of the European races in Imola, where our 2005 season should really get underway.

Brazilian Stock Car
Castroneves in Brazil Castroneves in BrazilHelio Castroneves recently returned to his native Brazil to announce NasrCastroneves Racing’s driver line-up for its 2005 campaign. The 29 year-old Brazilian will embark on his second year as a Team owner with his two-car effort competing in the Brazilian Stock Car V8 Championship, as the Team kicks off the season on May 1st in Sao Paulo. The cars in this Series are modified Chevrolet Astras (a popular model in Brazil) and have similar specs to the cars that compete in the NASCAR Busch Series. Last week’s announcement named 2001 Toyota Atlantic Champion Hoover Orsi as the Team’s latest addition behind the wheel. Orsi will join Juliano Moro who will fulfill driving duties for NasrCastroneves Racing for the second season. “I think we gained a lot of experience in our first season of competition last year,” said Castroneves. “As a Team owner, I think we learned both what to do and what not to do and it looks like we’ll be very competitive in 2005. We have two experienced and aggressive drivers and hopefully this will be the season that we capture our first win.”
IROC lineup IROC lineupThis PDF file gives the starting lineup for Friday’s IROC race in Texas as well as other useful information about the series and the event.
What if Dover sells LB event? What if Dover sells LB event?A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, What if Dover Motorsports decides to get out of the street racing business and focus on NASCAR, can't they sell the event to Tony George and the IRL? Jimmy Anderstorp, Chicago, IL. Dear Jimmy, At the Long Beach City Council meeting on Tuesday night, the City attorney made it clear that the contract with Dover through 2010 is not transferable without the city's approval. Should Dover sell the asset to Champ Car the city will approve the transfer, but should they sell it to someone other than Champ Car, the city will deem the contract null and void and then enter into an agreement directly with Champ Car or another promoter that will keep Champ Car in Long Beach, because that is what they want (by a vote of 6 to 2). As we understand it, the only option now for the IRL to get the Long Beach race, appears to be if Dover keeps ownership of the event and chooses the IRL over Champ Car for 2006 to the end of the contract in 2010. We believe Dover will stick with Champ Car given the success of this year's event and the fact that Champ Car is becoming a major global sports property. This will give Long Beach name recognition worldwide as the premier event on the calendar and bring fans from around the world to Long Beach each year. Dover stands to benefit immensely by Champ Cars growing popularity. Long Beach is a profitable event for Dover and this year's event appeared to be better than in recent memory. Mark C.
4 Andretti Green team members in car accident 4 Andretti Green team members in car accidentFour team members from Andretti Green Racing were involved in a multi-car auto accident Wednesday night in the San Francisco area following the Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series Open Test at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. The four men were traveling in the same vehicle to the San Francisco International Airport when the accident occurred just after 6 p.m. (Pacific). All four were taken from the scene of the accident to San Francisco General Hospital. Scott Graves, the team’s director of engineering, and Tino Belli, Andretti Green’s technical director, were admitted to the hospital. As of 9:30 a.m. (Pacific) Thursday, both Graves and Belli were listed in good condition. Martin Paré, who works as race engineer on Andretti Green Racing’s #7 entry, was treated and released Wednesday night. Brian Page, who is assistant race engineer on the #7 car, was examined and released Wednesday night. AGR
Dominguez fastest at PIR on Wednesday Dominguez fastest at PIR on WednesdayMario Dominguez (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) didn’t take long to get settled in his new mount, scoring a top-five finish in last week’s Champ Car World Series opener in Long Beach despite having just joined the team the week before.

That performance may have only been a precursor of things to come however, as the Mexican veteran led a field of 13 cars testing Wednesday at the 1.969-mile Portland International Raceway layout. Teams are testing at the Oregon road course this weekend in advance of the June 19 Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland Presented by G.I. Joe’s, which will be Round Four of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

PIR officials have reconfigured the tricky Festival Curves a bit during the off-season, paving over the gravel trap area that often spelled doom for the unlucky driver that happened to spin out in that treacherous region, and drivers showed Wednesday that the track will be much faster for the effort.

Dominguez turned a quick lap Wednesday of 57.70 seconds to lead the day’s testing, hanging up a time that was a full 1.5 seconds quicker than last year’s pole winning clocking. In all, 12 of the 13 drivers testing on Wednesday eclipsed the 2004 pole time of 59.229 seconds.

Rookie Timo Glock (#8 Deutsche Post Speed Academy Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) continued his early-season show of strength, stopping the clocks at 57.87 to take the second spot on the speed sheets. 2004 pole sitter and race winner Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was third on the list as the last of the pilots to break the 58-second barrier. Testing will continue Thursday before the teams head back to their shops to prepare for the May 22 event at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico.

Times for Wednesday’s testing as reported by Cosworth engineers appear below.
1) Mario Dominguez (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 57.70
2) Timo Glock (#8 Deutsche Post Speed Academy Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 57.87
3) Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 57.91
4) Bruno Junqueira (#2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 58.13
5) Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 58.22
6) Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 58.23
7) Cristiano da Matta (#21 Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 58.39
8) Ricardo Sperafico (#11 Dale Coyne Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 58.40
9) Andrew Ranger (#27 Mi-Jack/Tide Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 58.44
10) Ryan Hunter-Reay (#31 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 58.64
11) Oriol Servia (#19 American Medical Response Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 58.90
12) Nelson Philippe (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 59.14
13) Marcus Marshall (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 59.99

Williams completes 2-day test Williams completes 2-day testThe BMW WilliamsF1 Team completed a two day test at the Paul Ricard circuit in France today in preparation for the opening of the European season, which commences with the San Marino GP at Imola on April 24.

Sam Michael (Technical Director, WilliamsF1): This week at the Paul Ricard circuit, the main focus of the test was on the tire compound choice for Imola. Antonio and Nick drove on both days to work through the test program. The program also included setup work, traction control, brake cooling, continued mileage on the engine and evaluation of some new aero parts. On the Tuesday of next week, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team will undertake a shakedown test at Silverstone to sign off some electronics changes for the Imola GP.

Ferrari stay busy on two fronts Ferrari stay busy on two frontsThird day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, once again working at Fiorano and Mugello. After the first two days of testing, the official race drivers swapped circuits - Michael Schumacher was at Fiorano and Rubens Barrichello at Mugello. Test driver, Luca Badoer had completed his program with the F2004M yesterday afternoon. At Fiorano, the World Champion worked mainly on car set-up, also trying various different types of Bridgestone tire. Michael covered a total of 139 laps (including 4 on the short course), the quickest in 0’57”651. At Mugello, Barrichello concentrated on set-up, tires and aerodynamics, completing a total of 86 laps (11 on the short course), with a best time of 1’21”303. Testing continues tomorrow at both tracks, Schumacher and Barrichello remaining at Fiorano and Mugello respectively. Ferrari Press
Readers prefer Champ Car Readers prefer Champ CarUPDATE The AutoWeek poll is now 71% in favor of Champ Car and climbing.  This is in line with what the Long Beach Press Telegram found from their poll, in their case 85% favored Champ Car.  Since AutoWeek has a more global reach it appears nationwide the fans have spoken in favor of Champ Car.  Will Dover risk a huge drop in attendance by going with the IRL?  Yes, according to the polls, unless they give away boatloads of free tickets, which the IRL and its sponsors are known to do. 04/13/05 A large majority of readers of AutoWeek prefer Champ Car stay in Long Beach over the IRL according to their poll.  Combining the 41% who think it would be wrong for Champ Car to lose LB with the 21% who think the IRL should just turn left and you have 62%, nearly two-thirds, who prefer Champ Car over the IRL.  A Long Beach Press-Telegram poll showed 85% preferred Champ Car. 
FIA rule change allows Klien to drive FIA rule change allows Klien to driveThe FIA, with the unanimous agreement of all teams taking part in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, has made a change to Article 58b of the Formula 1 Sporting regulations concerning eligibility of drivers taking part in Friday practice prior to the grands prix.

As a result of this decision, Christian Klien, who competed in the first three grands prix  of  this  season,  will  now  be  able  to  undertake  third  driver  duties  on  Fridays, beginning with the San Marino GP, when Tonio Liuzzi makes his race debut for Red Bull Racing, along side David Coulthard.

Christian Horner: "I  am  delighted  that  all  of  the  teams  supported  our  request  to  the  FIA  in  order  to change   the   regulations   regarding   the   third   driver.   It   would   have   been   hugely frustrating for Christian to be unable to drive a third car in Imola due to the fact that, at 22 years of age, he has driven more then 6 Grands Prix."

Christian Klien: "Great News! Of course, as a race driver it is difficult to sit on the sideline while your team-mates are driving, so it is very good that I can continue to drive and also help the team at the races."
Hendrick Drivers to get Road Course Practice Hendrick Drivers to get Road Course PracticeFollowing Sunday's NEXTEL Cup event at Texas, Hendrick Motorsports drivers Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch will fly directly to Phoenix, where the teammates will take part in Bob Bondurant's Road Racing School. The three-day session will help prepare the duo for the upcoming road-course events at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. It is a busy time for the two drivers, who also appeared at Monday night's Country Music Television Awards in Nashville, Tenn. The pair presented Toby Keith with "Hottest Video of the Year" honors for the hit "Whiskey Girl." Hendrick Motorsports
Portland testing news Portland testing newsAfter the first day of a two-day Champ Car test session, it is obvious PIR is faster [because of the reconfiguration of the silly Festival Curves]. The battle for the pole position in the June 19 Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland should be a sizzler. Unofficially, defending series champion Sebastien Bourdais, Mario Dominguez and former Formula One test driver Timo Glock were running laps in the high 57-second range Wednesday and eight other drivers were in the 58s.

The teams represented at PIR -- three days after Bourdais took the season-opening Long Beach race -- included Newman-Haas, RuSport, PKV Racing, Rocketsports Racing, Mi-Jack, Team Australia and Dale Coyne Racing.

Bourdais was the pole sitter last June in Portland at 59.229 seconds (119.678 mph), with teammate Bruno Junqueira second (59.266) and Paul Tracy third (59.314). Tracy, who has made it known he wants his championship back, will join the fun today when he takes his first 2005 test laps on the 1.969-mile track in the No. 3 Forsythe Racing Ford-Cosworth.

"You can see the enthusiasm for Portland just by the number of teams that come here and test," said Jimmy Vasser, driver and part-owner of the PKV team. "We take this race very seriously, and obviously we're looking forward to coming back. I'm glad (Champ Car) was able to work things out and keep it on the calendar."

PIR track manager Mark Wigginton supervised the makeover of the Festival Curves in the off-season. The gravel trap in the chicane was paved over, and a new apex was created in Turn 2. There is noticeably more room for traffic, and the cars get through much faster.

Drivers still have an opportunity to out-brake one another going into the curves to make a pass, but ideally the multi-car pileups in the chicane that often required long delays won't be as frequent.

"I think it's great," said Jim McGee, the general manager of PKV Racing. "I think you'll still see the thrills and chills, but I think it will be a lot better as far as being able to get through and have an option. Before, you really didn't have an option. If you went off, you were in big trouble. You were going to end up in the back.

"At least now, you can have an incident and guys can at least avoid each other," McGee said. "I mean, there's always that chance, but I think it will eliminate the first-turn melee that we've seen almost every year. . . . I think it's going to be a great spot to pass.

"You're going to see a lot of stuff going on in there, especially now because they've opened up the exit. Before, what happened was you slowed, then you slowed even slower. The cars couldn't get through there and accelerate. Now you're gaining speed instead of slowing down."

Vasser, who placed a disappointing ninth at Long Beach, said of the new setup, "I think it's a good change. . . . I don't know if it will change the actual racing much or create any more of a passing zone. I just think it will help the race flow better. It's always been a bit of an issue here."

Asked about the new Festival Curves, Dominguez described the changes as both dramatic and subtle. "It's a much faster corner now," he said. "If you didn't want any first-corner accidents, then yeah, I guess it did need to be changed. But honestly, I liked it the way it was before. All they're trying to do is increase the show for the race fans. So hopefully, that's what it does."

Junqueira also seemed ambivalent about the new-look PIR, even though he was running 58-second laps in his No. 2 Newman-Haas Ford-Cosworth. "It's all right," he shrugged. "The chances of a crash on the first lap of the race are smaller, but now we brake later on Turn 1 and it's going to be a little bit harder to pass." The Portland Oregonian

ALMS tidbits ALMS tidbitsThis week's American Le Mans Series race, the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta, will air live on CBS from 1-3 pm (EDT) Sunday. We also expect to hear a significant series announcement this Friday. Stay tuned....
Audi team confident for Road Atlanta Audi team confident for Road AtlantaTeam ADT Champion Racing, still relishing their 1-2 victory from the Twelve Hours of Sebring last month, enters Round Two of the American Le Mans Series at Road Atlanta with pride, confidence, and enthusiasm. At the same time, the team knows they can't underestimate the competition, not only against the Dyson Racing team, but also between themselves as the two-car Audi R8 teams proved last month when they posted the closest race finish in history at the Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Team ADT Champion Racing (Pompano Beach, FL) travels to the beautiful hills of Braselton, Georgia to compete in the 2-hour, 45-minute Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta scheduled for Sunday, April 17 at Road Atlanta's 2.54 mile, 12-turn road course. The ALMS teams will return again in the fall for the well-known, 10-hour or 1000-mile (whichever comes first) endurance race affectionately known as Petit Le Mans.

The winning Audi R8 from Sebring, the No. 1 car, will be piloted by defending American Le Mans Series Driver Champions JJ Lehto (Finland) and Marco Werner (Germany). This talented combination hopes to repeat their win from last year's Petit Le Mans race and to score their second victory of the 2005 ALMS season.

The highly motivated duo of Frank Biela (Germany) and Emanuele Pirro (Italy), drivers of the No.2 Audi R8, are poised to challenge their "sister" car and the two-car squad from Dyson Racing. As was demonstrated in the first race of the season, a team has to perform flawlessly both in the pits and on the track to claim victory. The Biela/Pirro combination (winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2000, 2001 and 2002) has proven their potential and their competitiveness.

Biela and Pirro will start the week's festivities by appearing at an Audi Stars and Cars promotion at Nalley Audi in Roswell, GA on Thursday, April 14. This promotion was created to transfer the level of excitement, enthusiasm and education the racing environment offers to Audi dealers, employees, customers and prospects while highlighting Audi technology, styling, durability and reliability. For more information, contact Nalley Audi at 678-795-3300.

The Sportsbook.com Atlanta Grand Prix takes place April 15-17 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. Sunday's race, a two-hour, 45-minute timed race gets the green flag at noon. CBS Sports will provide live coverage from 1:00 – 3:00 pm EST. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web, www.radiolemans.com, will also supply flag to flag coverage.

Industry News
Accounting concerns jolt GM stock Accounting concerns jolt GM stockGeneral Motors Corp.'s stock skidded Wednesday after accounting experts cast doubt on how the automaker reported certain transactions with former subsidiary Delphi Corp., its largest supplier.   The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that several accounting experts it contacted had looked askance at the choices made. A GM spokeswoman insisted the accounting was appropriate and that the experts did not have complete knowledge of the transactions.   GM also said it will cooperate with an SEC request for documents related to the government agency's investigation of Delphi.   She declined to say whether GM was the subject or target of an SEC investigation, noting that the automaker did not have to acknowledge the subpoena related to the Delphi case.  Detroit Free Press
No Cowboys conflict for TMS No Cowboys conflict for TMSTexas Motor Speedway won't have to battle the Cowboys for fans this fall. The Cowboys have an open date Nov. 6, the date of TMS' long-awaited second Nextel Cup race, the Dickies 500. Cowboys officials said the scheduling is a coincidence. Regardless of the reason, TMS officials were overjoyed after the NFL schedule was released Wednesday. The absence of a Cowboys game probably ensures at least a near-capacity crowd. Dallas Morning News
Interview with Christian Silk Interview with Christian SilkThe Renault F1 Team’s Chief Test Engineer talks in detail about how the adaptations demanded by the 2005 regulations.

Christian, what impact have the new regulations and testing limit had on how the team works?
"From a team point of view, the testing limit makes life very similar to how things were in 2003: we need to pay more attention to how efficiently we run the car, and be more flexible in our operations – that was shown last week in Barcelona when we made good use of the weather forecasts to bring our programme forward by a day. In terms of the regulations, they have forced us to do much more mileage – to get a representative idea of tire and engine performance, we have to run a lot further than we did last year."

Has this limited the testing programme in other areas?
"It certainly means that we have less time to work on simple performance running – and that means the day’s final lap times from testing can be even more misleading than in previous seasons. The need to complete higher mileages means we inevitably compromise our performance work to an extent, but it is a question of balance. If we don’t understand the tire performance properly at the end of a race, this can potentially leave us with a huge performance deficit at a Grand Prix – and that penalty would be more costly than the benefit of any set-up tweaks we might find in testing."

After the pre-season running, the test team know the R25 inside- out by now: what is your assessment of the car?
"First and foremost, it is easy to drive and to set up, which is an advantage for both the race and test teams. In general, the car is quick straight away at every track so we can immediately begin our programmes – which helps at the races in particular, because track time is very limited. Otherwise, the car has strong engine performance, good aero efficiency and works in harmony with its tires. We have had some reliability issues in testing, but that is part of the philosophy of testing: running high mileages to find problems on the car and solve them before taking the R25 to races. We worked hard on chassis and engine reliability pre-season, and so far, it has paid off."

How quickly is development progressing with the R25?
"From the first tests, we have putting new parts, and more performance, on the car – as well as implementing reliability fixes. We have an intensive development programme and things are progressing very smoothly: new aero parts have been working well on the car, and showing the expected benefits. Our other asset has been that we began running with two R25 chassis very quickly – at the second test of the R25 in fact. I think that has brought a measurable advantage in terms of problem solving, development and understanding the car."

Operations seemed to have stepped up a gear in every department – what impact does that have on the team?
"The entire team is pushing very hard at the moment – there is a buzz around the factory and at the track because we know the car is competitive. Everybody is putting in that little bit extra – working through the night when they need to in order to get the job done. At the last test, we lost an entire day of preparation when we chose to bring the test forward, but the team responded brilliantly and on Tuesday morning, both cars were running. The team is getting the job done, and we can see that reflected in the results at the races."

The team will run this week at Paul Ricard – what will you be concentrating on?
"We will be testing tires for Imola, looking at some set-up work over the curbs and then conducting our usual longer-term R&D programmes. One product of doing so much reliability running so far in testing is that we are still finding set-up directions on the car that we have not yet explored. There were some promising items from the last test, and will work on these this week at Le Castellet. Set-up time is so limited at the races this season that the directions we explore now pay real dividends when the drivers arrive at the Grand Prix." Renault F1 Team

Renault's man at the track Renault's man at the trackAs technical boss of the engine team that attends every test session, Matthieu is one of the men behind the scenes driving the success of the Renault F1 Team.

Two different things sparked the racing passion of this thirty year- old engineer in the late 1980s: a classic on-track duel, and a major technological leap. “The Prost-Senna battle was a great period for any motor racing fans,” smiles Matthieu Dubois. “Like everybody else who enjoyed F1 at that time, I would get up at four in the morning to follow the races from far away locations.” But the disappointment of seeing the two drivers’ world championship decider last only as far as the first corner in Japan, 1990, left him feeling cheated. “I was so disappointed I went straight back to bed!” he laughs now.

Unlike many young fans, though, it wasn’t the driving that enthralled Matthieu. Instead, he enjoyed what was happening beneath the bodywork. “The first semi-automatic gearbox introduced by Ferrari, with the gearshift on the steering wheel, really opened my eyes,” he explains. “The technological steps that followed also fascinated me: active suspension, the normally aspirated V10 with pneumatic valve timing, traction control…” From then on, this aviation enthusiast knew he was destined for motor sport – and from the age of 15, began tailoring his studies to hit this target. His parents didn’t necessarily understand his passion – but they let him continue. “Motor sport wasn’t really part of our life at home,” admits Matthieu. After studying at the Ecole Centrale de Nantes, he made the most of the institution’s close links with Viry-Châtillon to try his luck. Alumni from the school were already working in Renault’s F1 engine department – so Matthieu organized a meeting between his school and the F1 engineers. It was his first contact with the world that was destined to become his own.
It was only after ten applications that he passed his first interview – and got the job. He was recruited by Viry in 1998, just as the factory was being reorganized following Renault’s departure from F1 the previous year. However, they were still supplying engines – first via Mécachrome, then Supertec. “I worked as a dyno tester for two and a half years,” explains Matthieu. “I then became a race engineer with Benetton for two years.” At the end of 2001, Matthieu took charge of technical operations of the engine test team. It’s a key role, because these engineers are the people who have to approve performance and reliability developments before they are used at a race weekend.

Since then, he has seen the team make steady progress – and wouldn’t change his job for the world. “There’s a different atmosphere at Renault,” he says. “We work very hard, and see the results of it straight away. That’s good for your motivation! So much effort goes into winning races, that when we succeed, it really creates a strong bond. Everybody feels like they are playing a part. Viry has expanded a lot in recent years, but it has not caused problems. Most people are from the same generation, and they share the same values, the same references and interests.”

F1 is a greedy world – it eats up people’s free time without respite. But when he can get away, Matthieu spends his free time out on the water. “I love sailing,” he rounds off. “I try and go to regattas and sail with friends. Having fun is the main priority. But finishing first is a nice bonus too!" Renault F1 Team

McLaren's detailed look at the track rod McLaren's detailed look at the track rodThe track rod is one of the more everyday components found on a Formula 1 car. But it is also one that illustrates just how incredibly high the stakes are in every single aspect of a car’s construction.

Put simply, a track rod is a carbon fiber rod that links the car’s steering rack with the front wheels. There is nothing ‘simple’, though, in the challenge of building a component that weighs just a few grams yet can withstand loadings of a ton as the car flies around the racetrack.

Lighter and stronger than the same item on a standard road car, a Formula 1 track rod also features greater adjustment. The angle of a car’s wheels – set to ‘toe-in’ or ‘toe-out’ by the race engineers – is vital to the temperature of the tires and to a car’s handling. This is, after all, the link through which a driver gets a direct ‘feel’ for how his car is handling.

“There are many components on a car that don’t have a direct impact on the racing driver,” says design engineer Gareth Robinson, “but if a track rod were to fail, a driver would be left with no steering. When you build a component that is so massively safety critical, there is no margin for error – you just have to get it right.”
The component is manufactured from carbon fiber for extra stiffness and strength. To appreciate why, you need look no further than the slow-motion replays of the cars’ wheels banging over the curbs in a Grand Prix.

“If you look at a telemetry trace of the loadings on a track rod, you can clearly see the peak loads as it hits the curb,” reveals Robinson. “It has a very severe fatigue cycle because the loadings switch from compression to tension very quickly.”

Heat is also a factor. Where a standard track rod will operate at ambient temperature, in a Formula 1 car the component is positioned close to the brake discs and can reach temperatures of around 100 degrees C. To legislate for that, the carbon is cured at 150 degrees earlier in the manufacturing process.

In a structural engineer’s ideal world, a carbon component is as straight as possible because that is how the material transmits the loadings on it most efficiently. A complete Formula 1 track rod, though, is shaped something like a hockey stick.

“The car has to be a team effort, and there are a lot of aerodynamic constraints that have to be satisfied,” explains Robinson. “The packaging of a Formula 1 car is so tight in this area. The shape of the track rod has to be compromised to accommodate the steering lock and also to make as much room as possible for the brake ducts.”

Aerodynamics are critical in Formula 1. So vital to performance is the airflow over and around the car that the rod features a blunt trailing edge that enables it to be incorporated within the front suspension’s aerodynamic shroud.

To these constraints you can add the quest to eliminate friction from all joints in the suspension, which will further improve a driver’s feel for his car.

The track rod may be “simple”, but the manufacture of each individual component still involves 25 different design drawings and at least 40 man-hours. It’s enough to make you wonder what a complex component is like. McLaren Mercedes

Ecclestone pays tribute to Rainier Ecclestone pays tribute to RainierFormula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone paid tribute to Prince Rainier today.  "Like everyone, I'm really sad. Rainier was always a very loyal supporter of Formula One," Ecclestone told AFP. "He did everything he could (to promote F1 in the principality).  I'm certain his son Prince Albert will follow in his footsteps," he added. The funeral of Monaco's long time ruler, who died on April 6 aged 81, is being held on Friday.
Kovalainen tops first test at Barcelona Kovalainen tops first test at BarcelonaGP2 testing at Barcelona - day 1
Pos  Driver         Team                  Time   Behind
 1. Kovalainen Arden International 1:25.998
 2. Viso BCN Competicion 1:26.033 + 0.035
 3. Piquet Jr Hitech Piquet Sports 1:26.078 + 0.080
 4. Garcia Racing Engineering 1:26.186 + 0.188
 5. Jani Racing Engineering 1:26.220 + 0.222
 6. Bruni Coloni Motorsport 1:26.267 + 0.269
 7. Lopez Dams 1:26.313 + 0.315
 8. Carroll Super Nova Int. 1:26.428 + 0.430
 9. Premat ART Grand Prix 1:26.540 + 0.542
10. Pantano Super Nova Int. 1:26.541 + 0.543
11. Pla DPR 1:26.559 + 0.561
12. Rosberg ART Grand Prix 1:26.597 + 0.599
13. Lapierre Arden International 1:26.603 + 0.605
14. Hernandez Campos Racing 1:26.639 + 0.641
15. Yoshimoto BCN Competicion 1:26.740 + 0.742
16. Piccione Durango 1:26.939 + 0.941
17. Fauzy Dams 1:26.951 + 0.953
18. Alvarez Campos Racing 1:27.210 + 1.212
19. Speed iSport International 1:27.265 + 1.267
20. Negrão Hitech Piquet Sports 1:27.517 + 1.519
21. Artam iSport International 1:27.518 + 1.520
22. Sharp DPR 1:27.581 + 1.583
23. Monfardini Durango 1:27.637 + 1.639
24. Lauda Coloni Motorsport 1:29.247 + 3.249
Otaru Japan article Otaru Japan articleA reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, I enjoyed the article about Otaru, Japan by Scott Morris.  I hope Champ Car gets back to Japan.  When I went to Motegi the crowds were big and they were popular.  I didn't know anything about Otaru so the article was informative.  I remember reading a suggestion that Honda should pick up Champ Car if Toyota outbids them for the rights to the Japanese GP and it moves to Mt. Fuji.  That makes a lot of sense too, but I doubt it will happen because Honda is not in Champ Car, at least not right now.  One last point - I see where F1 is eyeing races in Singapore and India.  Where would they fit on the F1 calendar?  Champ Car should pursue those two countries too. Dan Petrocelli, Seattle
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
How low can JV go?
'Schu'll fight back' - Weber
F1 test update
Red Bull to attend FIA summit
Ferrari on road to 'crisis'
'I'm a little scapegoat'
'Will Villeneuve jump?'
McLaren must wait for pace
'Very loyal supporter'
Title 'not lost' - Ferrari
DC's popular
Honda to inject more cash
A1 Grand Prix
England gets A1 GP team England gets A1 GP teamA1 Team Great Britain Chairman, John Surtees, has announced details of the team that will run for Great Britain in the inaugural A1 Grand Prix Championship, and the drivers who will take part in a shoot out for the prestigious drive in the first World Cup of Motorsport.

The Arden International Motorsport team, owned by Christian Horner, and based in Banbury, Oxon, will run the Lola chassis car in the A1 Grand Prix championship. They will also carry out driver evaluation, in conjunction with John Surtees, at Brands Hatch on the 23rd and 24th May when four of Great Britain's top international drivers, Adam Carroll, Ralph Firman, Robbie Kerr and Alex Lloyd, will compete for the chance to represent their country against nations from the four corners of the world.

 Explaining the importance of A1 Grand Prix, John said: "The British motorsport industry is worth over £4 billion to this country. It largely sprung from that first success inspired by Tony Vandervell. A1 is an example of British engineering and technology being at the forefront, with Sheikh Maktoum having placed his faith in the purchase of 50 Lola A1 cars and an equivalent number of engines plus spares from Zytek. Apart from the championship promoting British products, the important message is that there are opportunities for British business to get behind the British team in what will become the World Cup of Motorsport. One only has to see the political involvement and the business persons who have backed the teams that have been launched in South Africa, Mexico, Australia, China, Pakistan and Lebanon, to realize that this championship revolves around big business and big opportunities. To those that have talked about it being a rival or replacement to Formula One I say, no. Formula One has its own special part to play in the world of motorsport. A1 is different and if anything complements Formula One and of course happens at a different time of year."

A1 Grand Prix Founder, President and Chairman, Sheikh Maktoum commented: "I'm happy and delighted that the British team is gearing up to take on the challenge of A1 Grand Prix. Both John Surtees and Christian Horner have a history of successes in motorsport and I wish them both the best of luck in the championship."

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