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Yasukawa returns to compete in Motegi  Red Bridgestone and white Honda banners will be waved in unison every time the No. 77 Interush car circles the Twin Ring Motegi oval. Roger Yasukawa's 700-strong cheering section will see to it.

Yasukawa returns to compete in the Indy Japan 300 after a two-year absence and he couldn't be happier -- unless, of course, the sponsorship package and Beck Motorsports deal is extended to the 92nd Indianapolis 500. 

"I wasn't able to race here the last two years so I am delighted to come back to race," said Yasukawa, who has made 37 IndyCar Series starts since 2003. "I tried the last two years but just couldn't make it happen. This year, thankfully, Interush came on board and we were able to strike a deal with Greg Beck. More ...

Tony George seeking to hire Tracy  Much has been written -- including plenty from this corner -- about Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony George's culpability over the dozen or so years since he put the "my playground, my rules" sign on his property at 16th St. and Georgetown Rd., therefore effectively killing off open-wheel racing as a force in North America.

But now that he has managed to sort of put Humpty Dumpty back together again, it is only fitting that he share in the applause, as well.

There he was a few days ago with the assembled media members at IMS in a pre-May gathering, talking about his regrets and his hopes for the future. One of those hopes centred around Canada's bad boy of racing, Paul Tracy, who shamefully has been shunted aside by those former Champ Car World Series owners who used him to prop up their investment. More ...

Davey Hamilton lands Indy 500 ride  Longtime IRL IndyCar Series driver Davey Hamilton has signed with Kingdom Racing to drive in this year's Indianapolis 500.

Hamilton, who came back to racing after undergoing 21 operations and two years of rehabilitation following a devastating crash at Texas Motor Speedway in June 2001, finished ninth at Indy last year, his ninth start in the May race. His best Indy finish was fourth in 1998.

"I will do anything I can to race at Indy," Hamilton said. "I continue to train harder and am putting myself in the best physical shape of my life, because the most important race in the world is the Indianapolis 500. I'd like to thank Kingdom Racing for giving me that opportunity, and I look forward to a great partnership with them."

The new team is owned by Houston businessman George Del Canto, who hopes the Indy 500 entry will attract sponsorship for the 2009 IndyCar season. USA Today

Jourdain will return to Nationwide Series in Mexico  
Michel Jourdain
Michel Jourdain will return to the Nationwide Series for the first time since the race in Montreal last August this weekend in the Corona Mexico 200 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez as the driver of Braun Racing's No. 32 entry.

If the popular fan favorite in his native country wants to get his name back in the heads of NASCAR team owners, he likely would need to do well this weekend. He originally had a two-year contract with ppc Racing and ran 20 races in what was then known as the Busch Series in 2005, but after sponsorship fell through he ran only three in 2006 and two last season. He also ran seven Craftsman Truck Series races for Jack Roush in 2006.

Jourdain hasn’t had a chance to shake down the Braun car and has no experience with – and even didn’t know about – the carburetor spacer that has sapped the Nationwide cars of some speed this year. More ...
Ecclestone wants Mosley to accept defeat  
Ecclestone putting pressure on Mosley to resign
The public stance has been one of constant support in the face of blistering worldwide condemnation, but behind the closed doors of his offices in London's fashionable district of Kensington, Bernie Ecclestone is turning up the pressure to resign on Max Mosley, his old friend and the president of the FIA, Formula One's governing body.

Ecclestone, who could claim to be the creator of the modern Formula One, is increasingly alarmed at the reaction to tabloid tales of Mosley's alleged Nazi orgy with five prostitutes. The Mosley affair even cast a shadow over the funeral on Wednesday of Richard Lloyd, the motor racing entrepreneur who died in a plane crash last month. Some of the most famous names in motor racing - including Damon Hill and John Watson, the former drivers - were in the church in Brackley, Northamptonshire, and then met in the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) at Silverstone, where there was one hot topic of conversation.

Overwhelming opinion at the BRDC was that Mosley must stop fighting his corner and go with some dignity. One close friend of Ecclestone said last night: “President Mosley is in danger of becoming motor racing's President Mugabe.”

The drip, drip of unrest from within the boardrooms of some of Formula One's big sponsors is also having an effect. Ecclestone did not become a billionaire building Formula One into box-office business without being astute and his soundings tell him that the time has come for Mosley to accept defeat. Times Online

Catalunya testing affected by bad weather  This week’s Formula One testing at the Catalunya Circuit came to a wet end on Thursday when the final day was affected by bad weather with rain upsetting proceedings for large parts of the session.

Reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen was the third and final Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver to take part in this test session and he was only able to complete a few laps, most of them in the wet. Only in the final hour was it possible to fit dry weather tyres.

The Scuderia’s preparations for the Spanish Grand Prix, which will be held at this circuit on the forthcoming 27th April, continues therefore at Maranello with the analysis of all the data gathered at this test and with the shakedown of the two cars that Felipe and Kimi will use, taking place at the Fiorano Track on Wednesday 23rd April. AutoMoto365

Paul Tracy officially announced for Long Beach  
Paul Tracy
Champ Car’s finale on Sunday will also be Paul Tracy’s last race with Gerald Forsythe but at least the four-time winner of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach gets to race.

Tracy was pleased to announce Thursday that he'll be driving in Long Beach, but he added that this will be his last race with Gerald Forsythe. 

The 2003 CART champion has been in limbo so far in 2008 as his manager and attorney tried to come to some kind of agreement with Forsythe, Tracy's employer since 2003. More at SPEEDtv.com

Herta puts AGR out front  The first test session for the Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach saw Bryan Herta put in a late flier to put the Andretti Green Racing Acura ARX-01b at the top of the timing charts after the first 55-minute session. In last year’s debut for the American Le Mans Series at the famed street circuit, the AGR Acura qualified on the overall pole and led 39 of the first 46 laps. Herta’s time of 1:14.303 was 0.408 seconds ahead of Timo Bernhard’s Porsche RS Spyder for Penske Racing and another 0.191 seconds ahead of Lucas Luhr in Audi Sport North America’s No. 2 Audi R10 TDI, the best of the LMP1 cars. He was just ahead of Emanuele Pirro in the sister car.

Jan Magnussen went quickest in GT1 in Corvette Racing’s No. 3 Corvette C6.R at 1:18.938. The cellulosic E85-powered supercar was a little less than 0.6 seconds ahead of Oliver Gavin in the sister car.

Ferrari and Porsche are poised for another battle in GT2. Dominik Farnbacher went quickest in Tafel Racing’s Ferrari F430 GT at 1:21.936, only 0.465 seconds ahead of Flying Lizard Motorsports’ No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with Wolf Henzler behind the wheel. The two marques alternated the first six positions in class with a gap of less than 1.5 second separating them.
Justin & Julia Wilson welcome Jane Louise Wilson  UPDATE
The Wilson family
To the right is a photo of proud parents Justin and Julia and their first child, Jane Louise Wilson who was born on April 12, 2008.

04/14/08 Justin and Julia Wilson welcomed their first child, a daughter named Jane Louise Wilson on Saturday night at Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette, Colorado.  Initially expected on June 1, Jane was born on Saturday, April 12 at 11:27 p.m. MT.  She weighed 4.4 pounds and measured 17-1/4 inches long.  Both mother and daughter are doing well.
Last lap gives Gurney top speed in Mexico City  
Gurney in the Gainsco car

Alex Gurney didn't let the lingering effects of a cold stop him from ripping off a last lap in Thursday's final practice session that was the fastest of the opening day of competition for the Mexico 250 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.  Saturday's race can be seen live on SPEED at 4 p.m. ET.

The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team worked on the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley throughout Thursday's pair of one-hour afternoon practice sessions and the end result was Gurney's lap of 1:20.536 (111.751 mph) that topped the field of 18 Daytona Prototypes.  After teammate Jon Fogarty quickly got up to speed at the beginning of the session, Gurney took the wheel for the final part of practice and posted the quick time on the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac Riley's 21st and final lap.

"My cold didn't bother me in the car," Gurney said.  "Maybe if I am in the car for two hours in the race, but right now it was fine.  I knew we would be up there.  We made probably six or seven good changes and kept improving it and at the end there it was the best it had been.  We are pretty happy but we know the other guys are not going to slack off so I am sure it will be very close at the top, but so far so good.  We are really excited."  More ...

Fans to decide one driver for All-Star race  Sprint announced the return of the Sprint Fan Vote, a voting competition powered by fans to award one team a starting spot in the May 17 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Voting begins April 17 and closes at 7 p.m. EDT May 17. Race fans may vote multiple times. New this year, as a bonus to Sprint customers, votes placed on Sprint phones will count twice.

Voting is available through the following channels:

  • On Sprint phones text "NASCAR" to 7777 and follow the received directions (standard text messaging and data rates apply)
  • At participating Sprint stores
  • Trackside at the Sprint Experience

Past Fan Vote winners include Ken Schrader (2004), Martin Truex Jr. (2005), Kyle Petty (2006) and Kenny Wallace (2007). More ...

SBM hires father Stan Barrett to drive in Mexico City race  For the first time in NASCAR’s racing history a father will drive for a team owned by his son and not vice-versa. Stan Barrett, the first man to ever break the speed of sound on the ground in 1979, will pilot the Stanton Barrett Motorsports No. 31 Interush and Grandstay.net Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, while his son Stanton drives the No. 30 4Caring.org Chevrolet Monte Carlo with major associate sponsors Interush and Grandstay.net in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Corona Mexico 200 race on April 20.

The famous Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once wrote, "Use your health, even to the point of wearing it out. That is all it is for. Spend all you have before you die: and do not outlive yourself." Is this what Stanton Barrett is encouraging his father Stan to do? So it would seem. Then again it could very well be the motto of both the younger and elder Barrett.

Driver Stanton Barrett, who led the first NASCAR road race in Mexico two years ago, is fielding a car for his father to qualify for the 4th annual NASCAR Nationwide Series Mexico City race on April 20. Stanton remarked, "I am excited to have my dad race in a competitive car and I expect him to do well. He hasn’t missed a step with anything else he does, and he is an amazing athlete!" He continued, "It’s great to have such support from your sponsors to field a car with your dad, it reminds me of all the fun times working together on movie sets." More ...

Primetime team surprised everyone  
Primetime Dodge Viper
Seemingly against all odds, Primetime Race Group and its Dodge Viper Competition Coupe is on the grounds at Long Beach. After crashing out in the early stages of the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg, the Primetime crew turned in a Herculean effort to get the Viper readied and repaired for this week’s Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach.

“We left St. Petersburg very disappointed with what happened,” said team owner and driver Joel Feinberg, who will drive with Chris Hall. “There was a question as to whether or not we’d be able to make it to Long Beach. The guys all got together, put in extra hours and surprised everyone in the racing community that we’re here.

The catalogue of repaired and replaced parts was extensive. But all the work was completed in time to get the car from Florida to Long Beach by Wednesday. More ...

For the IRL it's still "Them vs. Us"  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com  The IndyCar Series has sent fans an email  promoting the race in Motegi on Saturday. I was wondering, if they are one series why not send an email also promoting the Long Beach Grand Prix.  Are they not one series and aren't points from Long Beach going to count towards the IndyCar Championship? Why no promoting of the race to fans? Could it be that IndyCar is afraid fans will tune in and see a better car on track than the cars they use now!  Rod  Orlando, FL
Walker Racing Thanks Fans for the Good Times  UPDATE CARA Charities would like to thank Walker Racing owner Derrick Walker for his most generous and creative fundraiser at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. For the historic final Champ Car race on April 20, Walker Racing will be setting aside an area on both sides of Alex Tagliani’s #15 Cosworth/Bridgestone/DP01 entry especially for fan signatures.

Supporters will have the opportunity to be an actual part of the race and sign their name on the car in return for a donation to CARA Charities.

This is team owner Derrick Walker’s way of saying thank you to all of the loyal fans while benefiting CARA Charities at the same time. More ...

NASCAR sued for breach of contract  Sellars Absorbent Materials has sued NASCAR for “breach of a license agreement."  Sellars, a manufacturer of automotive products, said that NASCAR “refused to approve packaging and marketing materials in connection with its automotive disposable wet wipes.” According to a lawsuit filed last Friday in federal court in Orlando, the company paid NASCAR $1.5M for the “exclusive right to use the NASCAR logo to market its products, including wipes that will protect the surface and interior of cars.” However, NASCAR “contends that Sellars can’t market the wipes as a protectant due to an exclusive license agreement it has with 3M for ‘protectants’" Bloomberg News
Bill Goldberg to Be Honorary Starter for Atlantic race  Since joining the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda as presenting sponsor a year ago, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company’s display at every Atlantic race has been a hotbed of activity, with music and interactive displays in addition to autograph sessions featuring every driver in the Atlantic Championship.

As Cooper kicks off its second season with Atlantic at this weekend’s Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach, the spotlight will be even brighter as the company has joined forces with Black Magic to bring professional wrestling champion and automotive television host Bill Goldberg to Long Beach. Goldberg will serve as the honorary starter for the Atlantic Championship season-opener, and will also sign autographs at the Cooper Tire display from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 19. More ...

Rain disrupts final test day at Barcelona  UPDATE After three days of successful dry testing, the rain finally arrived on cue this morning at the Circuit de Catalunya. Shortly after Jarno Trulli completed his installation lap the heavens opened and the circuit was drenched by heavy rain that continued throughout the morning. The downpour stopped at lunchtime, after which the teams ventured out onto the track. Unfortunately more showers followed, further shortening the running time in the afternoon.

Thursday Times

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:21.953 37
2. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.589 34
3. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:23.619 34
4. Kubica BMW-Sauber 1:24.715 32
5. Button Honda 1:24.873 41
6. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:24.927 62
7. Piquet Renault 1:26.100 61
8. Trulli Toyota 1:32.150 18

04/17/08 (GMM)  As was predicted, heavy rain has disrupted the final session of the Barcelona test on Thursday.

Teams including Honda, Williams, Toyota, Renault, BMW, McLaren and Red Bull did venture onto the wet Circuit de Catalunya before lunch, but Ferrari - scheduled to run with Kimi Raikkonen today - did not.

Force India and Toro Rosso, meanwhile, have obviously heeded warnings that the rain could be set to continue into the afternoon, as they spent the morning session simply packing up.

The ambient temperature is a chilly 13 degrees C.

Earnhardt Jr. opens bar  Dale Earnhardt Jr. was dressed in his customary jeans, T-shirt and baseball cap and soaking it all in. NASCAR's most popular driver already sells cars and jeans among other products. Now, the iconic driver with the legendary last name was standing in front of reporters explaining why the color orange dominates his new bar. The mechanical bull was directly behind him, and the giant dance floor and stage were to his right.

Earnhardt's handlers were all around him. Fans had paid several hundred dollars for access to VIP areas during the private grand opening earlier this week of Whisky River, which is across the street from Charlotte's downtown arena. More at AP Article

Ferrari in front, Schumacher says  (GMM)  Michael Schumacher said on Thursday he believes Ferrari has an edge over its two rivals going into next weekend's Spanish grand prix.

The 39-year-old German tested the Italian team's 2008 car, the F2008, at the Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday.

"I think there are three teams currently fighting at the front," the former seven time world champion on Thursday told his personal website, presumably also referring to McLaren and BMW.

"I like this situation; it is good for the sport if three teams are doing well, closely together.

"But I do believe that we might have a little advantage," Schumacher, still a Ferrari advisor and occasional test driver, added.

"Therefore, I presume that Felipe and Kimi are the favorites for the race next week," he said.

Inferno wins F1 account  UK-based integrated agency Inferno has won the account to handle Abbey’s Formula One sponsorship.

Abbey, part of the Santander group, are the sponsors of the 2008 British Grand Prix at Silverstone and the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Racing Team, which includes Lewis Hamilton.

“Lewis Hamilton is a phenomenal property to be able to use and our strategy will play on bringing his story to life in a way that is relevant to all, regardless of how avidly they support Formula One,” Frazer Gibney, managing director at Inferno told mad.co.uk. “F1 sponsorship is a truly exciting area for Abbey, correctly exploited it will have a serious impact on the Abbey brand.”

According to mad.co.uk, Inferno won the business after a four-way pitch against Wax, Momentum and 23red.
TV Ratings up for first two IndyCar races  Since his son, Graham, punctuated the dawn of a new era in Indy car racing two weeks ago by becoming its youngest winner, Bobby Rahal has been asked incessantly about the future. There is, however, one question the car owner and former champion driver no longer needs to answer.

"For those of us in both Champ Car and the Indy Racing League, the first (question) in every interview for 13 years usually was, 'When are the two sides getting together?' " says Rahal, the 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner.

His team competed in those two major open-wheel circuits, which warred from IRL's 1994 formation by Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Tony George until unification Feb. 22.

The years of infighting, backbiting and bickering about managing the series wiped out teams, chased sponsors and sent a few rising stars scurrying to NASCAR. The splintered existence of the sport that turned Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt into household names was "a huge negative — and it's now gone," Rahal says. "All the talk is about going forward."

Yet the relatively smooth and amicable transition from IRL's absorption of Champ Car two months ago — on hold this weekend as a scheduling conflict forces the series apart for a final time — seems to have prompted new nagging questions:

•Was splitting into rival series in one of the most contentious and politically charged chapters in auto racing history worth the trouble?

•Why did it take 14 years to find common ground? More ...

Andretti and Jones to be inducted at Long Beach  UPDATE They will be inducting today at 11 a.m. two of the legendary figures of American car racing, Mario Andretti and Parnelli Jones, as well as the one-time world land speed record holder Gary Gabelich posthumously into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame in front of the Convention Center on Pine Ave.

They will discuss the immense achievements of Andretti and Jones and Gabelich, the late husband of Long Beach City Council member Rae Gabelich who established his milestone 622.407-mph mark on Oct. 23, 1970 on a dry lake bed at Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah.

They will talk about courage and competitiveness and skill behind a steering wheel, and no one figures to be more emotional at the ceremony than Andretti because of the memorable times he had across the years in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Mario Andretti on his way to winning the USGP on the streets of Long Beach in 1977
Indeed, both Chris Pook, the founder of the race, and Jim Michaelian, its current boss, often point to Andretti's dramatic victory in the 1977 Formula One affair as being the momentum-turning linchpin for an event that was then in its struggling infancy.

"That victory by Mario in which he edged out Niki Lauda and Jody Scheckter was as instrumental as any single event in terms of solidifying Long Beach's position as a premier motorsports event," says Michaelian. "It was a tremendously exciting race, and we were able to build on it in a most positive way." More ...

Drivers expect unification to end feuding  Now that the Indy Racing League and Champ Car World Series have merged into a unified IRL, Graham Rahal and Bruno Junqueira believe it's time to do away with what was for years a heated rivalry between the open-wheel racing entities.

Rahal and Junqueira will be competing for Newman/Haas/Lanigan and Dale Coyne Racing, respectively, in this weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. It is Champ Car's last dance as it will then cease to exist and blend completely into the IRL.

Rahal, who would have been in his second Champ Car season, has already competed in one unified IRL race, winning April 6 at St. Petersburg, Fla. Junqueira raced in both the March 29 season opener at Homestead, Fla., as well as St. Petersburg.

"In order for this sport to continue to grow, it needs to stop," Rahal, 19, said of the long-running feud. "We are all here and we all want to make the sport successful. It can no longer be Champ Car versus IRL. It can only be IndyCar series."

Besides, Rahal pointed out, many of the veteran IRL drivers - such as Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon - started with Champ Car. More ...

Chevy pushing NASCAR for alternative fuels  Chevrolet is continuing its effort to have NASCAR make alternative fuels a priority.

“We’re pushing hard – we probably are the instigators a little bit,” Chevrolet Vice President Brett Dewar said during the Texas race weekend. “We believe in green racing, and we believe it is very appropriate to do that … We believe it’s time. We think racing can also be green, and we would like it to be biofuels.”

NASCAR executives have indicated that alternative fuels are a priority.

“They’re definitely receptive,” Dewar said about NASCAR. “They’ve got fuel providers, and it’s a transition, and I don’t want to mitigate the fact that some work has to get done.

“There’s modifications to the engines, but we do it to our vehicles today. … We have to reduce our dependency on petroleum products. We just have to. Economically we need to do it, and we’re willing to do it.”

General Motors is building cars that can be run on alternative fuels as well as electric vehicles.

“I get that question because I am an environmentalist, ‘What are you doing being the head of racing and also pushing the environment?’ ” Dewar said. “They can go together, and there is a place to do that.” Scendaily.com

Mayfield wants to be in ride that can win  
Jeremy Mayfield
Jeremy Mayfield's not sure what's next, though as a racer he wants to race. But his choice, whether it's in Sprint Cup, Nationwide or the Craftsman Truck Series, is going to be something that can win. He's been there and knows he can get it done again. Right now, he's not sure how much time he'll be spending at racetracks in the short term. The conversations on future possibilities have been flowing in both directions, he said. But he won't be sitting still, either. When the Sprint Cup Series is at Richmond and Darlington, Mayfield will be part of an entourage touring United States military installations in Iraq and supporting the troops. NASCAR.com
Renault unable to escape midfield - Alonso  (GMM)  Fernando Alonso has poured cold water on hopes that Renault's updated 2008 car could take a sizeable step forward at the forthcoming Spanish grand prix.

The former double world champion topped the timesheets at the Barcelona test on Wednesday, raising expectations that the R28's new bodywork package - including the Red Bull-style dorsal fin - had moved the team closer to the leading three outfits.

"The car is going better with the changes, it is true," 26-year-old Alonso told the Spanish newspaper Diario AS, after his best time was set on Bridgestone's development slick tires.

"But we will not go forwards much -- we are still unable to escape from the middle group of the grid," he insisted.

"We have improved but the others have as well," Alonso said.  "The picture is going to be more or less the same as it was before this test.

"We are in a group in which, if everything goes well, you qualify eighth, otherwise you lose time to Red Bull, Toyota and Williams and you are fourteenth," he added.

Teammate Nelson Piquet will return to the cockpit of the revised Renault on Thursday, when rain showers are expected to disrupt the final session of the test.

F1 should 'keep tire warmers' - Schumacher  
Michael Schumacher testing at Barcelona
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has backed the group of active formula one drivers who believe the FIA should reconsider plans to ban tire warmers next year.

At the Barcelona test this week, teams have been experimenting with the proposed 2009 regulations, including the reintroduction of fully slick tires, a drastic reduction in downforce, and the absence of tire-warming blankets.

But while drivers have enthused about the superior grip provided by Bridgestone's latest development slicks, they are nearly unanimous in their concern that exiting the pits without them being pre-heated is a safety issue.

"Yes, for next year they should keep the tire warmers," Schumacher, after more than 80 laps in the Ferrari on Wednesday, is quoted as saying by the Spanish press. More ...

Atlantic Championship Long Beach preview  INDIANAPOLIS – After a long off-season that included drastic changes to the open-wheel racing landscape in North America, the 35th Anniversary season of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda will embark on its 11-race season this Sunday with the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach.

While much has changed, many things have also stayed the same in the Atlantic Championship, with world class drivers and teams set to battle it out on top road and street circuits throughout North America for the next six months. The top returning driver to the series is James Hinchcliffe (No. 3 Indeck/Tire Rack), who has reunited with Forsythe Racing Inc. for the 2008 season.

Last year, Hinchcliffe finished fourth in the championship with three pole positions and nine top-10 results with Sierra Sierra Enterprises. This year, he will be joined on the two-car Forsythe team by Mexican racer David Garza (#7 Madisa Cat/Axtel/Tecate), who is entering his second year of Atlantic competition. Both Hinchcliffe and Garza have shown good speed throughout preseason testing and expect to be contenders for race victories and the championship.

The Forsythe teammates, however, will undoubtedly have their hands full if they intend to keep American racer Jonathan Bomarito (#26 RLM Investments/Discount Tire Centers/Stone Brewing) in their mirrors. Bomarito—who is beginning his fourth year in Atlantic—joined Mathiasen Motorsports late in the off-season, but quickly got up to speed with the team and led the final preseason test session at MSR Houston last month. Bomarito also finished second at Long Beach last year. More ...

Verizon Wireless to sponsor Nationwide entry  Gillett Evernham Motorsports officials have announced plans for Verizon Wireless and Motorola to sponsor Nationwide Series driver Chase Miller in seven races this season.

Because the deal is for the Nationwide Series only, there is no conflict with Sprint and its Sprint Cup Series like AT&T Wireless had with the Cup Series on Jeff Burton's car.

Verizon and Motorola officials hope to reach race fans through racing-themed events such as promotional giveaways and contests. Miller’s “profile as a successful driver with youthful exuberance” will be highlighted, the team said.

“This is fantastic news for me,” said Miller, who is slated to drive in about 15 Nationwide races in 2008. “My dream has always been to race in NASCAR, and when someone gives you an opportunity to race in more Nationwide Races, it’s like getting the perfect birthday gift.

“To do it with companies like Verizon Wireless and Motorola makes it even better. I am sure the text messages will start rolling in once they hear about this deal for me.”
Grand Prix of Long Beach Drivers Enjoy Lakers Game, Meet Beckham  
(L to R) Nelson Philippe, Ernesto Viso and Enrique Bernoldi
Enrique Bernoldi, Nelson Philippe and EJ Viso flew into Long Beach from Miami on Tuesday afternoon and drove immediately--and very quickly--to the Los Angeles Lakers-Sacramento Kings NBA game for an eventful evening at the Staples Center.

At the game, the three drivers preparing for this weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach watched Kobe Bryant lead his team to victory, clinching the top seed in the Western Conference for the upcoming NBA playoffs. Bernoldi, Philippe and Viso also got the chance to meet several celebrities including famed international soccer star David Beckham at halftime in the Wachovia Chairman's Room. The three drivers were guests at the game of Jeanie Buss, Vice President of Business Operations for the Lakers.

(L to R) Enrique Bernoldi, Ernesto Viso and David Beckham
"Beckham and I actually share a mutual friend, and we spoke briefly in Spanish, which by the way he speaks very well given his previous years playing for Real Madrid," said Viso, who is competing in this season's 2008 IndyCar Series and will pilot the PDVSA HVM Racing #33 DPO1 at this weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. "It was the first NBA game that I've ever seen live, and I really enjoyed myself." Viso hails from Caracas, Venezuela. More ...
racing news
Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race
Beccy Gordon hits the pavement in Long Beach  
Beccy Gordon, sister of NASCAR driver Robby Gordon and girlfriend of IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay
Off-road racer Beccy Gordon is certainly no stranger to being quick on the gas and hard on the brake as she tries to outrace her opponents.  But having pavement under her race car is a much different story as she prepares for the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race April 19, one of six events to be run in conjunction with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Of course, the part owner and driver for All-American Girl Racing is following in familiar footsteps by getting her early pavement experience at Long Beach.  Beccy’s older brother, Robby Gordon, finished second in the 1990 Long Beach IMSA GTO race in just his fourth-ever pavement start before heading to a career in Indy Cars and now NASCAR.

“Words can’t express how thankful I am to Toyota for inviting me to be part of this incredible event,” said Gordon.  “Toyota has been a part of my family for many years and I have attended this race since I was eight years-old.  I’m still in shock that I’m going to be racing on the streets of Long Beach and representing the off-road world!  It’s totally surreal.” More ...

Seventh Annual Dale Earnhardt Day Set  Dale Earnhardt Inc. will host the seventh annual Dale Earnhardt Day at its corporate headquarters in Mooresville, N.C. on Tuesday, April 29th. The event, which celebrates the birth date of the seven-time NASCAR Champion, also serves as a major benefit for the Dale Earnhardt Foundation, with a percentage of the event’s merchandise sales being donated to the Foundation.

The event, which is themed “Behind the Legend, He was One of Us,” will run from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and will feature a variety of activities and displays for the entire family. Personal photos, mementoes and trophies highlighting Dale’s personal & professional life through the decades of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, will be on hand at the event.

During the official Dale Earnhardt Day Ceremony, starting at 3 p.m., The Hershey Company will unveil a replica of a fan photo mosaic as a tribute to the racing legend.  A mosaic bearing Earnhardt's likeness will be comprised of more than 1,000 photos from fans across the country.  Fans on-site will have an opportunity to be photographed for the final permanent mosaic at the Hershey’s Photo Booth. When completed later this year, the final mosaic will be on display at the Dale Earnhardt Inc. Headquarters. More ...

tv news
SPEEDTV.com to air Radio Le Mans broadcasts  SPEEDtv.com and Radio Show Limited (www.radiolemans.com) have combined forces to provide unique content for both Web sites, opening these enthusiast sites to new audiences throughout the world.

Radio Show Limited (RSL) will provide its live radio feed to SPEEDtv.com through the ALMS/Le Mans subsite, highlighted by live broadcasts and re-broadcasts of American Le Mans Series events, RSL’s mid-week motorsports talk show and ultimately, its popular twice around the clock live coverage of France’s prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race from historic Circuit de la Sarthe. Many SPEED fans in the United States and Canada will recognize the Radio Le Mans output as until last year it was the overnight on-air voice for the network’s live coverage from Le Mans each June.

Fans from throughout the world logging onto radiolemans.com will be treated to historic IMSA video, American Le Mans Series highlights and season-long commentary through a new SPEEDtv.com video player, which will feature much of SPEED’s stateside on-air sportscar racing coverage. More ...

Schrader to drive for Haas at Talladega  Haas CNC Racing officials said Wednesday that veteran Ken Schrader will drive the team’s No. 70 Chevrolet in the April 27 Aaron's 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Schrader is available because BAM Racing is cutting back to a part-time schedule and is skipping Talladega.

“I’m definitely very excited about the opportunity to drive for Haas CNC Racing,” Schrader said. “It is a younger team that is going through the growing process but yet has all of the elements in place.

“The team has an outstanding relationship with Hendrick Motorsports, and we know they have a proven engine program. We certainly don’t have to second guess the equipment.”
track news
Water closes Kentucky Speedway for 2 weeks  A blue sky and pleasant temperatures made Tuesday an ideal time to take some laps around Kentucky Speedway.

Soggy conditions below ground, however, left track workers dealing with water seeping onto portions of the 1.5-mile track that led to the cancellation Tuesday of a scheduled ARCA RE/MAX Series test session.

Track officials reacted swiftly and announced that the track will be closed to any on-track testing for at least the next two weeks.

"We want to make sure it's safe for the race car drivers and the teams," Kentucky Speedway spokesman Tim Bray said. "We're taking a proactive approach to it. We have everybody's interests in mind.

"The track is fine. There's just been so much water that we just need to make sure that what's under the track is dried out."

New Toro Rosso breaks ground, Bourdais destroys car  UPDATE #3 (GMM)  Toro Rosso on Wednesday evening admitted that Sebastien Bourdais' testing crash at Barcelona may delay the team's plans to debut the new STR3 in Turkey in two races time.

During the car's public debut at the Circuit de Catalunya, the French driver crashed at high speed, damaging the left hand side of the Red Bull Technology-designed single seater.

A spokeswoman confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that a lack of spare parts means that the STR3 will not be able to remerge as scheduled in the hands of Sebastian Vettel on Thursday.

Toro Rosso has been racing a development of last year's car, the STR2, in the opening grands prix of 2008.

"The plan was to introduce the new car as from the Turkish grand prix," the team confirmed on Wednesday.  "These plans might have to be changed as the new car was very badly  damaged in a testing accident today," Toro Rosso added in a statement.

The team said the cause of Bourdais' off, which occurred on his seventy-second lap of the day, is being investigated.

04/16/08 Fortunately, Sebastien Bourdais, who was at the wheel, is perfectly okay and did not require any medical attention whatsoever. If only they could say the same for STR3!  Engineers are currently examining the car to see if it is heading straight for the Toro Rosso Museum of Modern Art. One thing is certain, the car will not be ready for tomorrow's final day of testing. The cause of the incident is being investigated by our engineers.

Up until this afternoon's crash, Bourdais had completed 71 laps, with a quickest time of 1.20.715 just 1/10th behind Hamilton and ahead of Webber, so he was pushing it.  During the lunch break, the Frenchman had this to say: "The baseline is quite good and I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised. However, the track conditions might be extremely good so I need to be careful with everything I say but so far the car has had no problems at all, which is a very encouraging point. The feeling is good and I felt comfortable in the car straight away. From a driving point of view you can feel it has more downforce than the current one and it's a big step forward on the aero package."

04/16/08 Sebastien Bourdais wrote off the new STR3 at Barcelona today, handing the team a major setback as it rushes to have the new car ready for the first European race.  Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost ruled out mechanical failure as the cause of the accident, saying: "He simply went too fast."

04/16/08 Scuderia Toro Rosso have revealed the STR3 to the public. Sebastien Bourdais got the honor of rolling out the car at the Circuit de Catalunya. Earlier this month, the STR3 had a shakedown at Vairano in Italy.

The STR3 bears a strong resemblance to Red Bull's RB4 and features a similar airbox sharkfin and front wing assembly.

Bourdais shakes down STR3

Alonso tops Schumacher in Barcelona testing Wednesday  Fernando Alonso (on slicks) topped Michael Schumacher (on grooved tires) by nearly 1-second as F1 teams entered their third day of testing at Barcelona Wednesday. 

With one hour to go Kubica went off in turn five due to a technical problem. The minor impact into a tire barrier caused some damage to the front suspension and front wing of the car. 

Wednesday Results

Pos Driver Team Type Tire Time Total Laps
1 F Alonso Renault F1 Slick 1:18.483 62 / 100
2 M Schumacher Ferrari Slick w/'09-Downforce 1:19.323 15 / 83
3 A Sutil Force India Slick 1:19.424 37 / 102
4 R Kubica BMW Sauber Slick 1:19.785 46 / 112
5 N Rosberg AT&T Williams Slick 1:19.841 59 / 65
6 R Barrichello Honda Slick 1:19.920 82 / 141
7 L Hamilton McLaren Mercedes Grooved 1:20.591 30 / 102
8 S Bourdais Toro Rosso Grooved 1:20.715 67 / 71
9 M Webber Red Bull Racing Grooved 1:20.849 29 / 87
10 J Trulli Toyota Grooved 1:20.867 32 / 90
Don't squash rivalries  A reader writes, Spot on Mr. Cipolloni regarding your rivalries article!  It’s enough for me to have to stomach that IRL car whose speeds at St. Pete were pretty much equal with the ALMS top class of cars, and a schedule heavy on repetitious ovals.  While I’ve watched IRL races in the past, I’ve never given an IRL race the attention I give a Champ Car or F1 race.  The opening Homestead race was background noise as much as anything after the first dozen or so laps.  But the St. Pete race, between the rain, the performance of the Champ Car teams in qualifying, it’s the first time I’ve watched an IRL race and given my full attention during the entire race.  The results also point to something I have said for years, as have you Mark, the 2 series don’t even compare in terms of level of platform these teams need to perform on, and I feel Champ Car teams proved that with their collective performance at St. Pete.  If my theory is correct on the differences in platform, I bet we’ll see Champ Car teams giving the top IRL teams a run for the win at every race, including the 100% throttle ovals, by mid-season.  So for at least this season, especially for this season, damn straight I am making this an IRL vs. Champ Car thing in terms of it’s the main reason I’ll be watching IRL races ATTENTIVELY, even the excessive number of oval races.  Andy Fogiel, Lansing, Michigan
Despite crash, Rahal feels ready for ovals  Yesterday we posed this question to Graham Rahal - You're quite comfortable already in the IRL on the road and street courses, how do you feel about ovals?  Do you feel like you need more testing and will you have an opportunity to do more testing before the next IndyCar race? 

"Well, you know, surprisingly, even on the oval, I felt very comfortable," said Rahal.  "I went out and right away, testing at Homestead my fifth lap was 205.9 or something.  I was talking to Will Power after and he was telling me how he's out there pushing hard and he had already done like 60 laps and comes behind me and can't get by me and he had seen me just come out of the pit. 

"You know, I felt fine on the oval, and our cars were good.  My incident was unfortunate because it was a situation where no one else had run where I was and since everybody was out there trying to see how quick their cars could go, you know, we are running around the bottom and when I passed Servia and crashed, I had to go up high. 

"So I feel fine on the oval.  It's different, obviously, because on an oval, they set the car up where the steering wheel is tilted right and your head is crooked to the left.  So coming out of the pits, quite a different feeling, but I've got no problem with the car.  It's a nice car to drive and it's different, but you know, it's just fine."

Rahal compares Champ Car to an IndyCar  Yesterday we posed this question to Graham Rahal -  There's been a lot said about the merger, but now that you've had time to drive the IRL car, is there anything that you hope to see somehow transferred from Champ Car that could make its way into the IRL, such as standing starts or push to pass; is there anything that you would like to see make it to the IRL? 

"I must say that driving the IRL car was certainly a pleasant surprise," said Graham Rahal, the IRL's youngest winner ever.  "I really did enjoy driving it.  You know, obviously they have taken a lot of time to develop that car and there are things that that car has that I think, you know, the Champ Car could have benefited from and vice versa. 

"Of course, as a driver, you know, you always want more power, and I think Honda certainly, if anybody has got the ability to do it, they do, and it would be great to have their old turbo charged engines from the Champ Car days back. 

"At the same time, the speeds that we are seeing on the ovals in these cars already are extremely high, so to make it quicker would certainly be even more dangerous.  I think over time, of course, it's going to evolve, and I think that, you know, the biggest thing that I hope happens is that they get a tub that's big enough for Justin and me, because I can certainly tell you, it's tight in there and that's the biggest thing. 

"But like I said, it was a very nice car to drive, and when it's handling well, it reminds me a lot of, like I say, where the car was just really good and it just felt so smooth.  And of course with a car like that, you know, it's no secret it's got less horsepower, so it's more of a momentum car.  You don't drive it into the corner nearly as tough or as fast.  So I think it reminds me a lot of an Atlantic car which I really enjoyed." 

LB finale to lure back some old friends  Today's seems-like-old-times edition of The Turbo-charged Sporting Muse:

Sebastien Bourdais dominated Champ Car for the past 4 years is now gone to F1
Bob Heathcote
All the Long Beach Grand Prix needs this weekend to make its history-meets-the-future flavor complete is for one of the race teams to enter one of the old Formula 5000 cars from the race's first season in 1975, maybe Brian Redman's Boraxo Lola or Benny Scott's Viceroy/Hilton Lola.

That would be Boraxo, the old 20-mule team cleanser that once employed Ronald Reagan as a pitchman, and Viceroy the tobacco company.

The 34th annual event may be the last in the Champ Car series, but it already feels like a merger of the past and future with so many great names coming back to the race with the merger of Champ Car, once known as CART, and the Indy Racing League.

Mario Andretti, the winner here in 1977, 1984, 1985 and 1987, is being inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame. So is Parnelli Jones, as instrumental in Southern California and Indy racing as any vehicle.

Bobby Rahal is the grand marshal, and his son Graham, fresh off his first open-wheel win in the IRL's street race in St. Petersburg April 6, will be in the field.

Forsythe, Walker Racing and Conquest will field teams even though they're not making the transition to the IRL.

Greg and Leo Mansell, will be running in the Atlantic series.

Adrian Fernandez, a regular on the CART/Champ Car tour from 1993 to 2003 and the runner-up in 2003, will be in the Le Mans Field Saturday and then hop on a plane so he can make it to his NASCAR date Sunday. Longtime LBGP board member Steve Pruitt has an active role as a team owner in LeMans, too.  More at Long Beach Press Telegram

Hyundai recalling some 393,714 Sonatas  Hyundai Motor Co. said today it was recalling 393,714 Sonata passenger cars in the United States to fix a problem with the air bag system in the front passenger seat.

The automaker said the recall affects 2006-2008 Sonata vehicles equipped with an advanced air bag system. The system disables the front passenger seat’s front air bag when it detects the presence of a child restraint system or a small child in the seat.

The right front air bag is disabled to prevent injuries to a child that could result from the air bag inflating during a crash.

Hyundai said it received some complaints that the system was misclassifying a small adult as a child and shutting off the passenger air bag. The automaker said the misclassification would prevent the air bag from inflating in a crash, potentially leading to an injury to the passenger.

DTM 'should strive' to get Villeneuve - boss  (GMM)  Jacques Villeneuve could be the latest formula one refugee to switch to the premier German touring car series, DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft).

The 1997 world champion would follow in the footsteps of Ralf Schumacher, and before him Mika Hakkinen, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jean Alesi, as high profile former F1 drivers on the DTM grid.

According to reports in Germany, French-Canadian Villeneuve's DTM foray could begin as Schumacher's did -- with a Mercedes-Benz test.

The 37-year-old may have conducted early talks with Mercedes competition director Norbert Haug on his recent visit to the F1 paddock in Bahrain, where he raced in the Speedcar series.

Villeneuve said at the time that he was still hoping to revive his NASCAR career, which stalled recently due to sponsor shortages.  He also plans to contest Le Mans later this year with Peugeot, as he did in 2007.

DTM series boss Hans-Werner told Bild newspaper: "He would certainly be a great addition to our series.

"If a well-known driver like Villeneuve is available, we should strive to get him," he added.

Haug said: "I could imagine him having a test drive."

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • No more Marlboro logos for Ferrari
  • Renault has improved, says Massa
  • 'Cold slicks' a safety issue, says Massa

No more Marlboro logos for Ferrari
(GMM)  It is likely that a cigarette brand will never again be outwardly visible on the livery of a formula one car.

Other teams - notably Renault, McLaren and Honda - farewelled their tobacco-fuelled dollars a couple of years ago, as anti-advertising laws swept Europe and the world.

Ferrari, however, opted to renew its association with Philip Morris, and until recently has been displaying Marlboro logos where possible, including in places like Monaco and China.

But at the recent Bahrain grand prix, where local laws theoretically would have allowed Ferrari to run tobacco branding, the two F2008 cars instead displayed the so-called 'barcode' livery -- reminiscent of the Marlboro signage but using white markings instead of letters and logos.

According to Autoweek magazine, Ferrari has confirmed that Marlboro logos "will no longer appear on its cars".

Reportedly, Philip Morris, owned by Altria Group, decided that the 'barcode' livery should be permanent.

The first Marlboro branded cars were the BRM and Iso Marlboro-Fords in 1972, before the long and famous associations with McLaren, and subsequently Ferrari, began.

Marlboro's current Ferrari contract, estimated to be worth around $1bn in total to the Italian team, expires in 2011.

Renault has improved, says Massa
(GMM)  Felipe Massa agrees that Renault seems to have taken a step forward at the Barcelona test.

The Ferrari driver has also been running at the Circuit de Catalunya this week, where on Tuesday Fernando Alonso was at the controls of a visibly updated R28.

Renault has endured an uncompetitive start to the 2008 season, but Alonso appears to have narrowed the gap to the frontrunners ahead of next weekend's Spanish grand prix at the same circuit.

"Renault has improved a little," Massa agreed to the Spanish newspaper Diario AS.  "Now we must wait until the grand prix to draw a clearer conclusion."

The 26-year-old Brazilian, however, is sure that the order at the very top of the grid will remain unchanged in Spain, and he is even somewhat dismissive of BMW-Sauber's apparent arrival as a top team.

"Of our rivals, I think McLaren is a strong team that always gets better throughout the season," he said. More ...

Rahal to Appear on Late Show with David Letterman  UPDATE A reminder that Graham Rahal will be a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman on Wednesday, April 16.  The show airs at 11:35pm-12:35am on CBS in most time zones.  Please check your local listings for your time zone.

Graham Rahal
Graham Rahal, driver of the No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps race car for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing will be appearing on "The Late Show with David Letterman" on Wednesday, April 16.  Rahal will make his first appearance on the show to discuss his win in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, April 6 which earned him the distinction of becoming the youngest winner in a major open wheel racing series at 19 years and 93 days old.  In his IndyCar Series debut, he surpassed the mark previously held by Marco Andretti for his win at Infineon Raceway in 2006 at 19 years and 167 days old.  "The Late Show with David Letterman" is televised on CBS.

Rahal's next event will be the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 18-20.  Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing has won the past three Champ Car events on the streets of Long Beach with former team driver Sebastien Bourdais.  Rahal and his new teammate, McDonald's driver Justin Wilson, are looking forward to the opportunity to extend the team's win record there.
tv news
Charlotte City Council to Provide Incentives for Speed Channel  The Charlotte City Council is expected to approve a nearly one million-dollar grant this week to keep the Speed Channel in Charlotte.

Speed Channel currently headquartered in a building on Southern Pine Boulevard in charlotte wants to move its operation to the old Verbatim building on West W.T. Harris when its lease expires this coming January, but they want some help from the city and county government.

Speed is based in Charlotte on Southern Pine Boulevard, now they travel the world covering NASCAR and all kinds of motorsports, but as of January they will need a new home.

South Carolina has been trying to lure the network away but Speed wants to stay in Charlotte.

The network wants a combined city/county business grant of $967,000.

Under the plan, the network would buy the old Verbatim building. The channel also plans on adding 34 new jobs. There are already 79 jobs at Speed averaging $79,000 a year; the economic impact is expected to be $12 million a year.  Cup Scene Daily

Fins, ears, wings sprout at Spanish test  UPDATE

Note new front wing on Timo Glock's Toyota Timo Glock at Barcelona Tuesday Note new winglets on Glock's Toyota

Note all the new aero stuff on Coulthard's Red Bull car this morning
Red Bull
(GMM)  Two teams have obviously taken their design cues from formula one rivals, as day two of the Barcelona test revealed on Tuesday.

At the first major test following the opening three races of 2008, most outfits have at the Circuit de Catalunya rolled out substantial and visible bodywork updates for their challengers.

The most obvious innovations on Tuesday were fitted to the Renault and Honda cars. 

Fernando Alonso's updated R28, which is already being called the 'R28B' by the hopeful Spanish press, is fitted with a sizeable engine cover fin, almost identical to the piece featured on Red Bull's current RB4 racer.

Rubens Barrichello, meanwhile, was on Tuesday charged with trying Honda's conspicuous 'nose horns' at the wheel of his updated RA108 on Tuesday.

Similar winglets have been raced to good effect by BMW-Sauber so far this year, but the radical solution - originally nicknamed 'elephant ears' - actually made its first appearance at a test session last year, fitted to Honda's 2007 car.

It should also be noted that several teams, including Red Bull and Renault, are now running the so-called front wing 'bridge' element above their cars' noses; an innovation first popularized by McLaren.

On the other hand, teams are using the Barcelona test to dabble with the big aerodynamic regulation changes that are looming for 2009, which ironically feature the total banning of most extraneous 'winglets'. 

Sprint Cup Series Test Session Added for Lowe's  NASCAR announced the addition of a Sprint Cup Series test session May 5-6 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. On May 5 practice times are set from 9am – 12 noon; 1pm – 5pm; and 6pm – 9pm. On May 6 practice times are set from 9am – 12 noon and 1pm – 5pm. Teams may test a maximum of four of those five practice segments. NASCAR visited with the teams this past weekend at Phoenix about the possibility of adding a test to further prepare for the remaining 17 events the series has at intermediate tracks the rest of the season, including next month’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The extra test gives the series seven sanctioned test sessions this year, the same number the teams had in 2007. “We received input from the teams last weekend at Phoenix and a vast majority of them were receptive to adding a test next month at Lowe’s,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition. “We always strive to work with the teams and do what is in the best interest of the competitors. We have 17 events ahead of us on intermediate tracks and the additional test allows the teams the opportunity to learn more about the new car, work on their setups and adjustments, and apply that information to these future races.” NASCAR PR
#41 and #42 crew chief swap  Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced that Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) crew chiefs Donnie Wingo and Jimmy Elledge will change roles, with Wingo assuming duties on the #41 Target Dodge driven by Reed Sorenson and Elledge on the #42 Texaco/Havoline/Juicy Fruit Dodge driven by Juan Pablo Montoya, respectively. "I really feel that these changes can be instrumental in moving Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates to the next level," said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. "I have a lot of respect for both Donnie and Jimmy and the jobs that they do and they both agree that this move can be very beneficial to the entire organization. I have said all along that I believe us to be a championship organization and that Felix and I will do whatever we can to make us better. This is toward that end." Wingo will call his first race for the #41 team with Sorenson, and Elledge with the No.42 team and Montoya, following the NSCS off weekend in Round 9 of the season at Talladega Superspeedway on April 27. Chip Ganassi Racing
Finnish rookie gets first taste of Champ Car  The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is always one that teams anticipate, for it is a great venue, great city, and always a wonderful event. However, what is usually the Champ Car season opener will be a bit different this year. With the announcement of the unification between Champ Car and the Indy Racing League in late-February, this will be the final Champ Car race and an event to remember for all. Rocketsports is ready to say “good-bye” to Champ Car as best as they can with a two-car effort showcasing the talents of drivers Antonio Pizzonia and Juho Annala.

Juho Annala
The event will mark the debut for Juho Annala in the Champ Car World Series and open-wheel racing in the United States. The team and Annala successfully completed a two-day test, April 10-11, at MSR Houston just outside of Houston, Texas to prepare for the upcoming race. Annala completed 165 laps at 2.38 miles per lap for a total of 392 miles of trouble free running. The team spent the first morning allowing the young driver to familiarize himself with the track and check that all of the car systems were ready for the test. The team then worked closely with Annala to find a chassis setup to suit the car to his driving style. They moved him through a progression of changes to feel different suspension and aerodynamic configurations and allowed him to direct setup development to simulate what he will be going through during the Long Beach race weekend.

“I am very happy with how the test went,” said the Finnish driver. “We did quite a large program and accomplished as much as we could during the two days we had out there. It was the best thing that we could do before the big event, especially since it was the first time for me to drive a Champ Car. I learned so many things about this car and so many new things about race cars in general. I think that we are in good shape as we head to Long Beach. I am really looking forward to it! The #10 Rocketsports Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone Champ Car was so fast, it was the best car that I have driven so far. I feel comfortable after having two full days to run in it and work with the team and confident that we can have a good race weekend together.” More ...
Track news
Tickets on sale for 2nd TMS race  Tickets for the NASCAR tripleheader weekend at Texas Motor Speedway Oct. 30 – Nov. 2 featuring the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series go on sale tomorrow. The marquee event is the Dickies 500, the eighth race in the 10-event Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format, and tickets prices for the “playoff” race range from $52 to $130. The Dickies 500 will be joined that weekend by the O’Reilly Challenge Nationwide Series race and Silverado 350k Craftsman Truck Series event.

Tickets begin as low as $25 for the O’Reilly Challenge and $34 for the Silverado 350k. Tickets are available by calling the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215- 8500, by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com and through all Ticketmaster outlets. The Dickies 500 NASCAR triple-header weekend kicks off Thursday, Oct. 30 with 7-Eleven Qualifying Day for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. 7-Eleven Qualifying Days continue Friday, Oct. 31 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. More ...

Gossage gives himself pat on back  Statement from Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage regarding NASCAR’s announcement today to implement two days of testing at Lowe’s Motor Speedway (May 5-6) in preparation for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 in May: “Although I am disappointed that NASCAR did not react in time for a test session we proposed prior to the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, I have to applaud them for finally listening to the teams and the tracks about this growing situation. I am hopeful that the additional testing will give teams a better handle on the set-ups and ultimately lead to a better quality of racing for the fans. I have received emails and letters from our loyal fans about the quality of racing they witnessed at our event and those are the people – NASCAR fans – that everyone in the NASCAR community needs to be concerned about. We will continue to push NASCAR for a test session here prior to the Dickies 500 in November because we need to provide these fans with a great show. We need to win them back with the racing NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway are known for.”
Stremme Joins Penske Racing As Test Driver  
David Stremme
In an effort to enhance its NASCAR Sprint Cup testing program, Penske Racing announced that David Stremme has joined the team as a test driver, effective immediately. 

In this role, Stremme will participate in Penske Racing’s comprehensive testing program in an effort to accelerate the understanding of the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dodge Charger that made its full-season debut in 2008.

“It’s a rare opportunity to have someone of David’s caliber to work with Kurt, Ryan and Sam to help us improve our NASCAR Sprint Cup program,” said Tim Cindric, president, Penske Performance, Inc.  “David raced the new car and understands what it takes to compete at the highest levels.”

Stremme, 30, grew up in a racing family in South Bend, Indiana.  After competing successfully in local and regional events throughout the Midwest, he moved to national NASCAR competition in 2003.  Stremme has made 74 starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since 2005. In 2008, Stremme has made seven starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, posting two top-five and three top-ten finishes.

“It’s an honor to be working with an organization with as much history and heritage as Penske Racing,” said Stremme.  “I look forward to a lot of productive testing so I can assist their NASCAR teams to run up front, make the Chase and hopefully win many Championships in the future.”

Stremme will continue his role as a driver for Rusty Wallace, Inc. where he will be running the majority of the NASCAR Nationwide Series races during the 2008 season.

Newman Wachs Racing Signs Jonathan Summerton  UPDATE 19 year old Team A1GP  USA stand out Jonathan Summerton has been signed to drive for Newman Wachs Racing,  #36 car, in the Cooper Tires presents the Atlantic Championship powered by Mazda 2008 Season. The series is the longest running race series in north America.

Summerton has shown exceptional talent since his first year of racing in the Formula BMW series  where, in his rookie year, finished as top American and 3rd overall. Since then he raced in the ADAC BMW series, followed by the F3 Euro series that is probably the most competitive series in the world. Here Jonathan was the only rookie to win a race . The past year he has driven for Team USA in the worldwide A1GP series where  he has continued to excel competing with several ex F1 drivers each representing their own countries. Last weekend Jonathan made history when he became the first American to win a race in the A1GP series.

On his return from Shanghai, China, Jonathan said,  "I am looking forward to driving for Newman Wachs and hopefully winning some races. I thank Eddy and Paul for giving me this opportunity to race in the USA for their Atlantic Team. It should be a fun year, although we will have to try that little harder as we haven't had the testing that most teams have had, but we will work hard and go for the Championship."

Jonathan Summerton
Newman Wachs Racing signs driver, Jonathan Summerton of Kissimmee, Florida, to the #36 car in the Cooper Tires presents the Atlantic Championship powered by Mazda 2008 Season.

Summerton made history this weekend when he took first place in the feature race at Shanghai’s International Circuit in China. Representing A1 Team USA, it was Jonathan’s first and his team’s first ever win. USA became the 16th nation to win a race this A1GP season.

Jonathan began his career in karting at Ocala Grand Prix, Florida. As a 14 year-old in his first year, he won several local races. He will turn 20 next week after competing in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach with NWR. We invite you to log on to his website @ www.jonathansummerton.com for more information regarding his career in motorsports.

Newman Wachs Racing is entering their 3rd year, competing in the Atlantic Championship Series. For more information on the team, please log on to www.newmanwachsracing.com

Bridgestone throws another option into tire mix at Long Beach  From Al Speyer, Executive Director, Bridgestone Motorsport: "This weekend is certainly going to be a bittersweet one for Bridgestone Motorsport.  While we will be saying farewell to the Champ Car World Series, we will also be welcoming back some familiar faces and long-time Bridgestone supporters who are hopping into cars to send the series off in style.  Seeing 20 Champ Cars on track for the series' final event will be a special moment.  Bridgestone has enjoyed many successful years at Long Beach, first with CART and then with Champ Car.  From our perspective, we are thrilled to be continuing that tradition for 2008 and beyond with the IndyCar Series.  You can rest assured that we won't miss a beat at the Beach!  As for this year's tire supply, we are implementing some new rules and specifications that will enhance the on-track competition.  We have widened the gap between our primary and alternate tires and are requiring teams to employ one unused set of alternates during the race, which is essentially like adding a third compound into the mix.  Tire strategy and more cars should lead to lots of on-track excitement, which will provide a fitting tribute to the Champ Car World Series."
18-car field for Japan 300  
Japan 300 Entry List:
Car Driver
2 A.J. Foyt IV
3 Helio Castroneves
4 Vitor Meira
6 Ryan Briscoe
7 Danica Patrick
9 Scott Dixon
10 Dan Wheldon
11 Tony Kanaan
14 Darren Manning
15 Buddy Rice
17 Ryan Hunter-Reay
20 Ed Carpenter
23 Townsend Bell
24 Jay Howard (R)
25 Marty Roth
26 Marco Andretti
27 Hideki Mutoh (R)
77 Roger Yasukawa
Theissen full of praise  The BMW Sauber F1 Team has made impressive progress since the roll-out and the winter test sessions: within just two months, the team from Munich and Hinwil has closed the gap to the top teams in motor sport's elite class. As far as BMW Motorsport Director is concerned, this is primarily thanks to Willy Rampf and his aerodynamics department.

"Since the launch of the BMW Sauber F1.08 we have not only made the car faster, but have learned more in the eight weeks between the launch and the first race in Australia than we normally would do in an entire season", says Theissen. "That was a very fruitful and motivating phase. Compliments to Willy Rampf and the entire team.

The highlight of the first three races of the season was not only the three podium finishes, but also the first pole position in the history of the BMW Sauber F1 Team, which was achieved by Robert Kubica at the Bahrain Grand Prix. "At such an early stage in the season, that was the icing on the cake", says Theissen. "Last year we were the third force behind the two top teams of Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes. However, after three races we are now one of the three top teams. That is a significant difference."

BAM goes to a part time schedule  Open letter from BAM Racing owner, Beth Ann Morgenthau: "Our recent switch to Toyota is a strong testament to our focus and commitment to become more competitive. Even though we were disappointed it became necessary to miss two races to complete the transition to Toyota. We were excited about the potential for the balance of the 2008 season. That excitement was abruptly interrupted this past week by news that a primary sponsorship deal [Microsoft Small Business?] once planned for the majority of the 2008 season had been reduced to a fraction of a season and that fraction will likely be in the fall. The private company has been in the process of raising funds in the equity market for working capital which included a portion going to a product launch using the #49 race car. Due to the uncertainty of the stock market raising the capital is taking longer than expected. With no other primary sponsor currently in place to fill the void the harsh reality of this most recent news is that we are forced to reduce our 2008 participation to a partial season. Our marketing groups are working hard to fill the sponsorship void so we can get back on the track sooner than later. When new primary sponsorship is secured you will be one of the first to know! It is of little consolation that we are not alone in this plight. The uncertain economic times affecting our sponsor are affecting sponsorships throughout NASCAR and are having a winnowing affect on the number of teams showing up each week to compete. We're confident that with the decreasing numbers of teams, with the competitive cars we produce and with the horsepower Toyota engines provide, we will be able to step back into competition effectively and successfully on short notice--and we are making every effort to make our sabbatical as short as possible. BAM Racing
Barrichello fastest in Barcelona Tuesday  Sporting various new aerodynamic appendages on his Honda, Rubens Barrichello posted the quickest time on the second day of testing at the Barcelona circuit on slick tires.  Ferrari's Felipe Massa set the pace of those using only grooved tires.

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher will also be joining the test tomorrow, replacing Felipe Massa at Ferrari.

Toro Rosso remains at the circuit with its new Ferrari-powered STR3, but have yet to take part in the group test. Both Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel are expected to test the car over the remaining two days of the test.

Tuesday Results


Driver Team Tire Type Time Laps
1. Barrichello Honda Slicks 1:18.928 77
2. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari Slicks 1:19.721 79
3. Massa Ferrari Grooved 1:20.283 113
4. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault Slicks 1:20.392 87
5. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes Grooved 1:20.452 96
6. Alonso Renault Grooved 1:20.616 118
7. Rosberg Williams-Toyota Grooved 1:20.800 115
8. Glock Toyota Slicks 1:20.870 112
9. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber Grooved 1:20.981 97

Lorenzo recovering well after successful operation  
Lorenzo just won his first MotoGP race last weekend
Fiat Yamaha Team rider Jorge Lorenzo is recovering well after undergoing a successful operation on his right arm. The 20-year-old has suffered from pain due to Compartmental Syndrome, often referred to as ‘Arm Pump’, during the first three races and the operation was performed yesterday afternoon by Dr. Xavier Mir, head of arm surgery at the Institut Universitari Dexeus in Barcelona.

The procedure, which is fairly common amongst MotoGP riders, aims to loosen the muscle compression inside the arm in order to relieve pain and loss of strength, which typically occurs with Compartmental Syndrome when the muscle is under stress. The decision was taken yesterday to go ahead whilst the joint world-championship leader has the maximum possible time to recover before the next race, which is in China on 4th May. Lorenzo held a press conference this afternoon in Barcelona together with his manager Dani Amatriain, his mother María Guerrero and Dr. Xavier Mir. He will fly to London within the next few days to continue his recuperation program at home.

Dr Mir commented this afternoon: “The operation has been a success and the wounds are healing quickly. We decided to only operate on one arm because we believe it is better to enable Jorge to arrive in the best shape in China. Many riders have had this kind of operation and time has shown that they often don’t need the operation on the other arm. Jorge now starts his recovery and, with an elite athlete such as him, we expect it to be quicker than usual.” More ...
A glance at the Long Beach ALMS grid  Thirty-two of the drivers entered for this week’s Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach competed in the 2007 race. The field is led by last year’s overall and LMP2 winners Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas in their Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder. GT1 winners Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin from Corvette Racing return, as do defending GT2 victors Jaime Melo and Mika Salo with Risi Competizione.

Twenty-eight competitors have competed at Long Beach in other series. Among the highlights are Trans-Am victories by Autocon Motorsports’ Tomy Drissi (2000) and LG Motorsports’ owner/driver Lou Gigliotti (2001). Michael Lewis, Drissi’s teammate and Autocon owner, has scored three podium finishes at Long Beach, and Scott Sharp of Patr¢n Highcroft Racing was second in the 1996 Trans-Am race.

Adrian Fernandez of Lowe’s Fernandez Racing leads the contingent of former Champ Car competitors to have raced at Long Beach. The pilot of the No. 15 Acura ARX-01b placed second in the 2003 race. Andretti Green Racing’s tandem of Bryan Herta (third in 1998 and 1999) and Christian Fittipaldi (fifth in 1999) have seen their share of success at the circuit as well.

Luis Diaz, Fernandez’s teammate in the Lowe’s Fernandez Acura, also won a sports car race at Long Beach in 2006.

NHRA and IMG agree to strategic partnership  Global sports and entertainment company, IMG, has agreed a strategic partnership with the NHRA, the world’s largest motorsport organization, to become its exclusive outside sponsorship marketing agent.

Under the deal, IMG will work alongside the current sales teams at NHRA to secure non-endemic sponsorship, conduct brand study and prepare recommendations on how to enhance the sales, marketing and branding efforts of the NHRA.

George Pyne, president of IMG Sports and Entertainment, said: “NHRA is a tremendous value proposition, not only in motorsports, but in all of sports. NHRA offers unmatched access to both its stars and its fans and, coupled with its nationwide footprint, makes for a perfect fit for any organization considering sports sponsorship”.

In signing the deal, the NHRA highlighted 'IMG's large portfolio of marketing assets and services with regional locations in New York, London, and Hong Kong'.

ALMS teams test at Miller Motorsports Park  
The Penske Porsche at Miller on Monday
Miller Motorsports Park/Tyler Marshall
The Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels is still a month away, but three teams from the American Le Mans Series visited the track today for pre-race testing.

The series will be competing on the historic street circuit in Long Beach, Calif., this weekend, but the Penske Motorsports, B-K Motorsports and Autocon Motorsports teams made a brief stopover in Utah to gather data in advance of next month’s event at Miller Motorsports Park, scheduled for the weekend of May 16-18.

Although Miller Motorsports Park is not new to the teams, this year they will race on the faster 3.048-mile Outer Course for the first time after having raced the twistier 4.5-mile Full Course the past two years.

Penske Motorsports returns to Utah as the defending race winner with its state-of-the-art Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 prototypes, having defeated the vaunted LMP1 Audi R10 TDI last year with a brilliant pit strategy devised by team owner Roger Penske. The more technical nature of the Full Course also played to the Porsches’ favor, as the smaller car, fitted with a 3.4-liter Porsche V8, is more nimble than the higher-horsepower Audis with their twin-turbocharged, 5.5-liter diesel engines. The Outer Course may turn the tables in Audi’s favor. More ...

Drunk NASCAR fan kills another fan  The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is investigating how a suspected drunken driver fatally struck a 39-year-old Milwaukee woman Friday outside Phoenix International Raceway.

According to the Sheriff's Office, Heidi McCallister was crossing Avondale Boulevard south of Southern Avenue on foot with her boyfriend about 9:36 p.m. when a northbound 2007 Chevy pickup truck struck her. McCallister was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, where she died.

Deputies arrested Michael William Nagle, 48, of Phoenix, on suspicion of DUI. No other citation was issued because the woman was crossing mid-block, said Capt. Paul Chagolla, a Sheriff's Office spokesman.

NASCAR races were held Thursday through Saturday at PIR in Avondale.  A DUI patrol working in the city on Saturday arrested 11 people on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Avondale police said the West Valley DUI Task Force arrested eight people on suspicion of DUI. Three were arrested for extreme DUI, or having a blood-alcohol content of more than 0.15 percent. AZCentral.com

Briscoe and Castroneves to attend Long Beach race  After racing in the Japan Indy 300 both Team Penske drivers will head straight to Long Beach, CA to watch their fellow competitors race in the final event of the Champ Car World Series – the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach; as well as support their Penske Racing teammates as they race their LMP2 Porsches in the ALMS race. Castroneves and Briscoe will check out the track in anticipation of competing at the temporary street circuit, as the IndyCar Series is expected to race there in 2009.

“I’m really looking forward to attending the Long Beach race this weekend, as it’s always been a fantastic event,” said Castroneves. “The last time I was there (2001), I was lucky enough to win the race from the pole and it will be great to watch the other members of our Series compete against one another this weekend. Hopefully I’ll be able to learn a few things that will help us when we all return in 2009.”

[Editor's Note: Because almost all drivers will leave Motegi right after the race on Friday night (USA time) and arrive back in the USA via nearby Los Angeles International Airport, expect more IRL drivers and officials in Long Beach on Sunday]

Q and A with David Coulthard  
David Coulthard
Red Bull Racing’s David Coulthard has scored more points than any other British Grand Prix driver in the history of Formula One racing and has been a part of the Milton Keynes based squad since the very beginning when they took over from what was then known as Jaguar racing.

However, one thing you don’t hear much about is just how the Scotsman makes sure he's fighting fit when it comes time for racing on a Sunday afternoon. Speaking to the team’s official website, David spoke about jet lag, breakfast and race preparation, simply to find out how he manages to keep his head during a race weekend…

You don't take to the track until Friday morning, but when do you like to fly in?
I normally am at the track on Thursday afternoon, I'll only arrive in the country earlier if I need to acclimatize, otherwise I'll spend as much time as I can in Europe at home.

What's your advice for dealing with jet lag?
The best thing is to do whatever you feel like doing on the plane. If you feel like sleeping, then sleep, but if you don't, then don't as that's what your body is telling you to do. When you arrive, if it's night time you've got to get yourself into bed and, if you don't feel sleepy, take a sleeping tablet or have a few glasses of wine to get you to sleep. I've never done either as I've never had a problem going to bed at the end of a long journey. The most important thing is getting up at the correct time because even if you can't sleep, if you get up, you'll be so tired by the evening then you have to sleep and you're into the zone.

What's your preferred accommodation at races - city hotel, hotel near the circuit, your own motorhome near the paddock?
I have my motorhome at all the European races near to the paddock and I stay in hotels near the circuits at the long haul races. More ...

Motegi Castroneves' 100th IndyCar Series start  
Helio Castroneves
It's been a long journey from Phoenix to Motegi, Japan - seven years, in fact - for Helio Castroneves, who seems surprised by the elapsed time.  When you're having fun at your job, weeks and months pass quickly.

The Indy Japan 300 will be Castroneves' 100th IndyCar Series start - a milestone reached previously by Scott Sharp (146) and Sam Hornish Jr. (116). Give Buddy Lazier a ride in the 92nd Indianapolis 500 and he'll join the group, too.

"I never count, but it's an honor to be in this competition because it means whatever I'm doing must be right," the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner said. "Hopefully, we'll do a hundred more."

Hmm, the remainder of this season's schedule and average 19 races a year … it's doable. Castroneves, who turns 33 on May 10, finished 18th in his first start at Phoenix International Raceway with Penske Racing on March 18, 2001. The next oval start made him an international sensation. Castroneves started 11th in the Indianapolis 500, led the final 52 laps and beat teammate Gil de Ferran to the checkers by 1.7373 seconds. More ...

Global backlash building against ethanol fuels  The EU Commission on Monday rejected claims that producing biofuels is a "crime against humanity" that threatens food supplies, and vowed to stick to its goals as part of a climate change package. "There is no question for now of suspending the target fixed for biofuels," said Barbara Helfferich, spokeswoman for EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.

"You can't change a political objective without risking a debate on all the other objectives," which could see the EU landmark climate change and energy package disintegrate, an EU official said.

Their comments came amid growing unease over the planting of biofuel crops as food prices rocket and riots against poverty and hunger multiply worldwide.

UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food Jean Ziegler told German radio Monday that the production of biofuels is "a crime against humanity" because of its impact on global food prices.

EU leaders, seeking to show the way on global warming, have pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

As part of a package of measures the 27 member states have set a target of biofuels making up 10 percent of automobile fuel by the same year.

"We don't have an enormous danger of too much of a shift from food production to biofuels production," said Michael Mann, spokesman for EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel.

Mann, like Helfferich speaking to reporters in Brussels, stressed that the 10 percent target would in part be achieved through higher yields and increased production. More at Yahoo News

Long Beach revved and ready for Grand Prix week  
The start of the 2007 Grand Prix
Doug Gifford
It is just one uplifting, noisy, joyful, thrilling weekend a year, when downtown Long Beach overflows with humanity as its restaurants and saloons and hotels and shops are packed and when the old city by the Pacific Ocean bursts with gaiety and pride.

It has been going on now since 1975, and spans redevelopment, the departure of the United States Navy, the razing of the original Pike, the Pine Avenue transformation, and the building of the spate of towering condominiums that dramatically has altered the Ocean Blvd. skyline.

It means laughter and fun for those inclined to drink and party, a windfall of profits for those who own businesses in the area, and the ultimate aesthetic experience for those who savor observing people.

It is, of course, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will unfold once again this weekend and which began as a fanciful idea by a young English travel agent named Chris Pook and which has morphed into one of Southern California's most cherished annual athletic events right there with the Rose Bowl and the UCLA-USC football game. More ...

Schumacher suffers motorcycle falls  
Michael Schumacher
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher on Monday was unhurt in a 80kph fall as he continued his foray into the world of motorcycle racing.

Bild newspaper claims that the fall, at the Lausitzring circuit in Germany, was one of three falls in total for the former seven time world champion since he began regularly sampling the thrills of two-wheeled action.

On Monday, the 39-year-old was testing an IDM (German Superbike) Honda when he crashed.  "This sort of thing happens," he told Bild, a German newspaper.

Schumacher's other falls reportedly occurred in April, at the Bresse circuit in France.

His wife, Corinna, told the Frankfurt newspaper FAS that she will not forbid Schumacher from riding.

"Michael knows exactly what he is doing," she said.  "I trust him absolutely and will not begrudge him his fun."

Schumacher will test Ferrari's current formula one car, the F2008, in Barcelona on Wednesday.

Schumacher to test slicks on Wednesday  (GMM)  Michael Schumacher will work closely with F1 tire supplier Bridgestone when he tests for Ferrari in Barcelona on Wednesday.

The retired seven time world champion's status as an occasional test driver for the Italian team means that his program at the Spanish venue will be focused almost entirely on the development of the new slick compounds that are likely to debut in formula one next year.

Bridgestone, the sport's official tire maker, has brought three new versions of the slicks to the Circuit de Catalunya, following teams' concerns that the earlier developments were extremely difficult to get heat into -- resulting in huge and dangerous speed differentials between circulating cars.

The massive lap time difference between Felipe Massa and the rest of the field as the test opened on Monday, however, was for a different reason.

While the Brazilian tried the slicks late in the day, his F2008 was equipped with this year's aerodynamic configuration, resulting in a lap record that was nearly three seconds faster than the closest challenger.

Other teams, like McLaren, were trying the slicks in conjunction with simulated 2009 levels of downforce, including a flat rear wing that significantly reduced cornering speeds.

The first major test within the 2008 season, mandating a maximum of one car per team per day, wraps up on Thursday.

Sex scandal won't hurt F1 finances - experts  
Max Mosley
(GMM)  Brand and sponsorship experts have rubbished Sir Jackie Stewart's recent claim that the Max Mosley sex scandal could hurt formula one financially.

Stewart, the former triple world champion and long time opponent of the embattled FIA president, said that potential new sponsors could "hold back" as Mosley resists resigning over the affair, while existing backers rethink whether to renew contracts.

"The sport is vulnerable when it comes to moral issues," the Scot said recently.

But two experts in the field do not agree.

Pippa Collett, managing director for the British firm Sponsorship Consulting, insists that the phrase 'all publicity is good publicity' holds true even in the Mosley scandal.

"They (sponsors) won't pull funding in the long term," Collett, who has managed Shell's F1 sponsorship in the past, is quoted as saying by CNN.

"I think it has the potential to be a nine-day wonder if the FIA deal with it efficiently in June.  Then it can be written off as a learning experience," she said.

Stephen Cheliotis, meanwhile - chief executive of the Centre for Brand Analysis and UK Superbrands and CoolBrands Councils' chairman - insists that the most crucial element of formula one is good racing, not the governance by Mosley.

He said that while the issue is "serious" for sponsors, there is "a little too much panic" going on in response.

Cheliotis also said a sex scandal is unlikely to overly affect such a complicated sport.

"What Max Mosley does as head of the FIA is totally, utterly different from the sport.  The public can differentiate," he added, using the example that the scandal is not going to affect the sale of BMW road cars.

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