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DATE News (chronologically)
04/20/07
cc

Bourdais drives motor homes too
Sebastien Bourdais spent two days driving a motor home from California to Texas before returning to the vehicle he handles for a living.

Bourdais' wife, Claire, gave birth to a daughter in December and the couple believed the only way to get through the early Champ Car schedule was to invest in a recreational vehicle.

The new family didn't stop to see any sights on the 1,550-mile (2,500-kilometre) journey from Los Angeles to Houston. And for someone who chews up hundreds of miles (kilometres) at twice the speed every week, the trip was a cruise for Bourdais.

"This you pilot," Bourdais said, pointing at his race car. "That thing, you just drive."

It's worth the hassle. Between practice laps and media interviews this week, Bourdais eagerly hops on a moped and zips to the RV to check on his new arrival, Emma.

"It really hasn't changed my life all that much," he said Friday. "It's just that you go back to the motor home and see a little, tiny face. It just adds a little extra." Autonet.ca

Comment
04/20/07
alms

Enge makes surprise visit to Houston
"The only place I wanted to be this weekend was Houston," Tomas Enge said Friday. "I just wanted to cheer my team and support them and give them the message that I'm doing well."

So went Enge's return to the American Le Mans Series and Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing. The Czech star surprised the crew Thursday evening by showing up at the team's transporter, the first time he had seen most of the team since a severe crash at St. Petersburg three weeks ago. He suffered a fractured left elbow, cracked ribs, contused lung and severe bruises.

"I wanted to surprise everyone. I knew everyone on the team wanted me to be at the track as soon as possible. I didn't speak with anyone, just Dale White about a hotel room. When I came here yesterday and said 'Hello! Thank you for welcoming me.' Everyone was really happy and everybody was hugging me. It was very nice."

Read more & Comment...
04/20/07
cc

Houston track a real driver’s track
Race organizers spent at least $200,000 on improvements to the JAGFlo Track at Reliant Park ahead of this weekend's Grand Prix of Houston after drivers last year complained the course was too bumpy and hurt them and the cars.

The most expensive endeavor involved the grinding of portions of the track, particularly the straightaways, in an effort to smooth it out.

After the first day of practice and qualifying, results were mixed.

"Last year, it was really rough, especially on the cars, around the Astrodome and the main straight," said Sebastien Bourdais.  "I'm very happy that Mike [Lanigan] and all the guys at Mi-Jack Promotions did that.

"The truth is, as far as driving goes it's still the same because they haven't grinded any braking or cornering or exits. It's still rough concrete racing, but it's a lot of fun. Once you get a good handle on the car and the track rubbers in, it's bouncing around, but it's quite a bit of fun."

"Yeah, it's definitely better, especially around the stadium there," said 2nd fast qualifier Will Power.  "They definitely got rid of the bumps there. But it's still fairly rough, like Sebastien said, the braking and so on.

"But, no, I enjoy this track. It's a real challenge to get a balance in the car and also make it ride the bumps well, you know. It's a one-make chassis, one-make shock absorber, it's up to the engineers and the driver to really work well together to get it."

Comment
04/20/07
cca

Matos dominates first-round Atlantic qualifying
HOUSTON, Texas (April 20, 2007) – About the only thing that can slow down Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) these days is a damaged race car.

Although he suffered a broken front suspension late in Friday’s first-round of qualifying for this weekend’s Fast Trac 100 at the Grand Prix of Houston (tape-delayed broadcast on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 26) Matos still emerged from the 35-minute afternoon session at JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park with the provisional pole position and another championship point. The 25-year-old Brazilian racer recorded a blazing lap midway through qualifying and he was able to cruise through the rest of the session, struggling only after his suspension gave way, as the rest of the 28-car Atlantic field tried to get in the same vicinity of his top time.

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04/20/07
f1

Purnell wins in court
An appeal against the $150,000 award of damages made to Tony Purnell in his claim for libel against BusinessF1 Magazine and its editor Tom Rubython has been rejected. Purnell was awarded the money in May last year, the jury deciding to overrule the judge's suggestion of damages between $50,000 and $120,000. Purnell says that that the money will be paid into an educational charity established in honor of Formula 1 engineer, Harvey Postlethwaite. Grandprix.com

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04/20/07
cc

Figge to miss Houston Grand Prix
Due to residual back pain from his incident in the final laps of last weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Alex Figge will not compete in this weekend’s Grand Prix of Houston. Figge will undergo further evaluation and an MRI this afternoon.

Alex Figge: “I experienced a huge amount of discomfort this morning in practice so I will be getting an MRI this afternoon. From here I will focus on recovery so we can log some miles in May.  We’ve got several tests scheduled in the coming weeks I need to make sure I am recovered as those tests are essential.”

Comment
04/20/07
alms

Dumas leads opening session in Houston
The theme of LMP2 dominance has carried over from Long Beach last weekend in the opening practice for the Lone Star Grand Prix in Houston. Romain Dumas picked up where he left off in California by posting the fastest lap Friday morning for Porsche and Penske Motorsports at JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park. The Frenchman set a time of 1:02.791 in the Porsche RS Spyder he will share with Timo Bernhard.

The duo were overall victors at Long Beach and lead the P2 drivers championship heading into the American Le Mans Series' fourth round. Dumas was 0.103 seconds ahead of Bryan Herta in the Andretti Green Racing Acura and 0.432 second better than Butch Leitzinger in the first of Dyson Racing's Porsche RS Spyders.

Dumas was last year's pole sitter and already is a full 2 miles an hour quicker than last year's qualifying time.

Read more & Comment...
04/20/07
motogp

Turkey: Stoner leads afternoon practice
The morning session got off of a cautious start as damp patches on the track saw the MotoGP riders re-acquainting themselves with the circuit without attacking it at full pace. In the afternoon the track was dry but grip still remained elusive and, on a day that saw many riders go down.

 Rider Team Time
1 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 54.200s
2 Loris Capirossi Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 54.979s
3 John Hopkins Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1m 55.062s
4 Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha Team 1m 55.120s
5 Toni Elias Honda Gresini 1m 55.158s
6 Olivier Jacque Kawasaki Racing Team 1m 55.651s
7 Chris Vermeulen Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1m 55.707s
8 Alex Hofmann Pramac d'Antin 1m 55.736s
9 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 1m 55.865s
10 Marco Melandri Honda Gresini 1m 55.910s
11 Kenny Roberts USA Team Roberts 1m 56.071s
12 Randy de Puniet FRA Kawasaki Racing 1m 56.225s
13 Alex Barros Pramac d'Antin 1m 56.233s
14 Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda Team 1m 56.312s
15 Colin Edwards Fiat Yamaha Team 1m 56.320s
16 Carlos Checa Honda LCR 1m 56.555s
17 Makoto Tamada Dunlop Yamaha Tech 1m 56.923s
18 Shinya Nakano Konica Minolta Honda 1m 56.936s

Comment
04/20/07
nascar

NASCAR officials refuse to panic as ratings drop
Even with more story lines to sell, NASCAR still is luring fewer eyeballs to its races.  Ratings are down 11% for the first seven Nextel Cup Series races this season despite the ballyhooed debuts of Toyota, Juan Pablo Montoya and the Car of Tomorrow. Ratings also were off in the Busch Series, which has been promoted heavily by ESPN as part of the network's return to NASCAR.

The decline isn't unique to stock car racing; the NBA, Major League Baseball, NCAA basketball and the NHL all posted regular-season declines last year. But the lagging numbers loom as a two-year slowdown for NASCAR, whose 2006 ratings decreased in 32 of the 36 Cup races.

"All sports have growth spurts and reach plateaus," John Saunders, chief operating officer of the International Speedway Corp., which owns 12 tracks, said in a recent conference call. "What is unique is that this is NASCAR's first time. We don't view it as a negative." More at USA Today

Comment
04/20/07
cc

Power tops opening practice in Houston
Will Power turned the fastest lap in opening practice Friday for Sunday's Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston. Power's Team Australia teammate Simon Pagenaud was 2nd.

Pos Driver # Team Lap Time Behind Leader
1 W. Power 5 Team Australia 59.417 0.000s
2 S. Pagenaud 15 Team Australia 59.515 0.098
3 S. Bourdais 1 Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing 59.723 0.306
4 J. Wilson 9 RSPORTS 59.841 0.424
5 A. Tagliani 8 RSPORTS 59.924 0.507
6 B. Junqueira 19 Dale Coyne Racing 59.930 0.513
7 G. Rahal 2 Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing 59.994 0.577
8 M. Dominguez 7 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:00.068 0.651
9 O. Servia 3 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:00.286 0.869
10 T. Gommendy 22 PKV Racing 1:00.367 0.950
11 R. Doornbos 14 Minardi Team USA 1:00.554 1.137
12 N. Jani 21 PKV Racing 1:00.597 1.180
13 M. Halliday 42 Conquest Racing 1:00.676 1.259
14 D. Clarke 4 Minardi Team USA 1:01.410 1.993
15 R. Dalziel 28 Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:01.470 2.053
16 K. Legge 11 Dale Coyne Racing 1:01.769 2.352
17 A. Figge 29 Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:02.432 3.015

Comment
04/20/07
cc

Champ Car Poised for Continued Growth
INDIANAPOLIS - With two Champ Car World Series races already etched into the history books, 2007 is looking like it will continue to see the series grow. During the last two seasons Champ Car has shown steady growth of its television ratings and after the first two rounds the numbers continue to follow the trend.

The Las Vegas Grand Prix pulled the highest ratings for an opening event the series has seen in more than five years, with a final rating of .83 in a 2 share, a 40 percent increase over last year. Long Beach numbers also showed an increase over the last couple of years with a rating of .65 in a 1 share and was watched by more than 700,000 U.S. households.  

“Over the last year we have dramatically improved our television package," said Champ Car World Series President Steve Johnson. "With our new television package we are at the beginning of an exciting time in Champ Car. By joining the ESPN family of networks we are now poised to show even stronger growth.

Read more & Comment...
04/20/07
nascar
cc

NASCAR and Champ Car weekend TV ratings UPDATE #2 The final TV rating for the Long Beach Champ Car race fell to a 0.6/1 share (from a 0.7 overnight) and the final TV rating for the NASCAR Texas Nextel Cup race last Sunday was a 5.6/12 share, up 3.7% from last year's final 5.4 rating.

04/17/07 The Spurs-Mavericks game Sunday averaged a 6.9 Nielsen rating (164,220 HHs), on WFAA-ABC in Dallas, while the NASCAR Nextel Cup Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway earned a 6.1/ (145,180 HHs) on KDFW-Fox.

04/16/07 The FOX broadcast of the Samsung 500 held Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway generated a 5.4 overnight national television rating according to Nielsen Media Research, making the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race the highest-rated sporting event of the weekend.

The Samsung 500 easily outdistanced Sunday’s NBA playoff game between the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, which garnered a 2.9 rating on ABC and ranked second for the weekend in the overnights. Saturday’s regional Major League Baseball on FOX was third with a 2.6 overnight rating.

 “A classic race and inclement weather in portions of the country combined to make the Samsung 500 a huge hit this weekend,” Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. “The race offered a daring last-lap pass by Jeff Burton for the win, controversy on the track between competitors and two of the sport’s biggest stars – Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon – leading much of the day. ‘The Great American Speedway’ continues to be the success story for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing.”

The 5.4 rating is a 13 percent increase from last year’s Samsung 500 overnight rating, which also was broadcast by FOX. The strong rating came despite the Samsung 500, which aired from 2-6 p.m. ET, competing in the same time slots as playoffs games for the NBA (Bulls-Wizards, 1-3:30 p.m. ET and Spurs-Mavericks, 3:30-6 p.m. ET) and National Hockey League (conference quarterfinal games, 1-4 p.m. ET).

Read more & Comment...
04/20/07
cc

Vegas Grand Prix track removal completed one week early
De-construction of the 2.44-mile Vegas Grand Prix temporary street course was completed one week earlier than planned.  Workers began dismantling the course immediately following the inaugural Vegas Grand Prix on Sunday, April 8, and finished work on Saturday, April 14, one week ahead of the predicted finish date of April 22.  

“This has been a monumental project which has basically been flawless in execution,” said Chris Kneifel, circuit manager of the Vegas Grand Prix.  “Just as quickly as we erected the fencing and wall structure we have gotten it down and cleared from the downtown area.” 

The construction crew worked around-the-clock to remove the track barricade and debris fencing, which consisted of more than 2,700 12-foot long, 39-inch cement barriers and lined the perimeter inside and outside the course. The barriers weigh about 9,000 pounds apiece and were connected to provide the safety fencing along the route.  The April 6-8 event featured the Champ Car World Series, Champ Car Atlantic and Historic Grand Prix races along with superstar concerts on the Fremont Street Experience and a gala whose proceeds benefited Keep Memory Alive, the foundation for the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute.

Preparations for the 2008 Vegas Grand Prix are already underway although its date has not been finalized.  Event organizers are continuing to work with the city of Las Vegas and meet with businesses and residents in the downtown area to improve the plans for the future.  “As soon as the checkered flag dropped on the inaugural event April 8, we began strategizing on ways to make the event even better for next year,” said Jim Freudenberg, president and chief executive officer of the Vegas Grand Prix.  “We’ll continue to work hand in hand with the city, our partners and downtown businesses and residents to fine-tune and improve the plans for next year.”

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04/20/07
f1

Bernie has bought Turkish GP circuit
(GMM) Mystery solved -- it has emerged from the venue of the Turkish grand prix that F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is attending the MotoGP race in Istanbul this weekend because he has bought the circuit.

We previously reported that the 76-year-old turned up on Friday at the 'Otodrom', also known as Istanbul Park, perhaps to convince Valentino Rossi to reconsider his postponed switch to F1.

But we can now confirm that London based Ecclestone, who also owns the Paul Ricard test circuit in France, has at least partially acquired the Turkish GP venue for an unspecified multi million dollar figure.

It is understood that his buying price is a mere fraction of the actual cost of building the impressive Hermann Tilke-penned venue.

The circuit is contracted to host formula one racing well into the future, but it is believed that Bernie is in Turkey this weekend to assess whether to pen a deal to stay on the MotoGP calendar in 2008 and beyond.

The diminutive Briton said on Friday: "I'm a big, big motorcycle supporter and I think motorcycle racing is super."

The news that Ecclestone now owns or part-owns the circuit is likely to raise eyebrows for several reasons; not least of which the FIA's recent decision to absolve the outstanding $2.5m balance of a fine imposed on Turkish GP organizers after the podium debacle last year.

Comment
04/20/07
f1

Bridgestone announces tire specifications
Following the successful debut of Bridgestone’s new for 2007 specification Formula One tires at the opening rounds of the FIA Formula One World Championship, Bridgestone Motorsport can now confirm the tire specifications for the Canadian, USA, French and British Grands Prix.

These are drawn from the four dry grooved tire compounds (Super Soft, Soft, Medium and Hard) produced for the season to cover all 17 races. In keeping with Bridgestone’s sole tire supplier status, these compounds are expected to remain constant through the year to enable a level playing field for the teams.

After a change to the Sporting Regulations in March 2007, the two specifications of dry tire at each grand prix are now visibly distinguishable from one another in order to promote a greater understanding of the tire strategies for the media and race fans. The softer of the two specifications will be marked with a white line in the base of the second from inside groove.

Q&A Kees van de Grint, Bridgestone Motorsport Head of Track Engineering Operations:

Why is Bridgestone announcing the tire specifications in groups and not all at once?
"It is important that we constantly evaluate the performance of the tires and how well the teams are adapting to them. Our aim is to ensure that the tires are the correct choice both in terms of safety and also suitability for each track. During the pre-season tests we were able to confirm the specs for the first five races and subsequent feedback from the first three of those races has now been taken into account regarding the choice for the next four rounds of the season. Announcing the choices now will enable the teams to start thinking about their tire strategies for the coming races."

Tire compounds for first nine Grands Prix:

* ING Australian Grand Prix:
Soft & Medium

* Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix:
Medium & Hard

* Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix:
Medium & Hard

* Gran Premio de España Telefónica:
Medium & Hard

* Grand Prix de Monaco:
Super Soft & Soft

* Grand Prix du Canada:
Super Soft & Soft

* United States Grand Prix:
Soft & Medium

* Grand Prix de France:
Soft & Medium

* Santander British Grand Prix:
Medium & Hard

Source Bridgestone

Comment
04/20/07
f1

Interview with BMW Sauber’s Mario Theissen
BMW Sauber have made a successful start to the 2007 world championship. Nick Heidfeld has recorded three fourth places and Robert Kubica a sixth position, putting the team on 18 points and leaving them lying third in the constructors' standings. BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen looks back on the season so far...

Q: How would you rate the team's progress after three races?
Mario Theissen: For this season we set ourselves the goal of halving our gap to the leading cars once again, having made a similar improvement last year. We have hit this target in the first three races of the season, and in Bahrain we narrowed the margin even further. We have established ourselves firmly as the third-strongest team on the grid, exceeding our expectations. I'm particularly pleased that the gap to the teams in front is smaller than our advantage over the cars behind. We've made it into Q3 with something to spare at each GP, and the 18 world championship points we've collected in the three races is already equal to half our total for the whole of 2006. So, all in all things are looking very positive at this point.

Read more & Comment...
04/20/07
nascar

Stewart to hold press conference
A press conference will be held at Phoenix International Raceway with Tony Stewart on Friday, April 20 at noon. Stewart will be discussing his impressive weight loss of 20 pounds and 15% body fat drop, all due to the healthy lifestyle change he embarked on. The renowned NASCAR driver will discuss how living a fit and active lifestyle is important to him and why he partnered with SUBWAY Restaurants to help launch the new SUBWAY FRESH FIT menu for adults and kids -- which also helped to switch him into a smaller fire suit for this season. Their new SUBWAY FRESH FIT menu initiative, launched in March 2007, is centered on trying to help Americans make healthier choices and giving them better on-the-go meal options like raisins, milk, apples and water. Stewart will be accompanied by famed SUBWAY restaurant spokesman Jared Fogle, best known for losing 245 pounds by consumer SUBWAY restaurant meals and walking to class while he attended Indiana University. Taylor PR

Comment
04/20/07
cc

Houston GP schedule of events
Friday
• 6 a.m.: Facility open to participants
• 6:45 a.m.-4 p.m.: Atlantic technical inspection
• 7 a.m.-3 p.m.: Champ Car registration open
• 7:45 a.m.-5 p.m.: Champ Car technical inspection
• 7:45 a.m.- 8:30 a.m.: Star Mazda practice
• 8:45 a.m.-9:30 a.m.: Atlantic practice
• 9:40 a.m.-10 a.m.: Champ Car VIP on-track activity
• 10:05 a.m.-11:20 a.m.: Champ Car practice
• 11:35 a.m.-12:35 p.m.: ALMS practice
• 12:55 p.m.-1:30 p.m.: Atlantic qualifying
• 1:40 p.m.-2 p.m.: Champ Car VIP on-track activity
• 2:10 p.m.-3:10 p.m.: Champ Car qualifying
• 3:25 p.m.-4:10 p.m.: Star Mazda practice
• 4:10 p.m.: Champ Car team logistics meeting (drivers meeting room)
• 4:25 p.m.-4:45 p.m.: MSR practice
• 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.: Champ Car fan appreciation activity; all driver autograph session (location TBA)
• 5 p.m.-6 p.m.: ALMS practice
• 6:10 p.m.-6:30 p.m.: ALMS qualifying (GT1 and GT2)
• 6:40 p.m.-7 p.m.: ALMS qualifying (LM P1 and LM P2)
• 7:15 p.m.-8:15 p.m.: Car corral parade laps
• 8:15 p.m.-9:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

Read more & Comment...
04/20/07
motogp

Turkey: Edwards leads first practice
1. Colin Edwards USA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 1min 57.422 secs
2. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 1min 57.794 secs
3. John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 1min 58.554 secs
4. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team (M) 1min 58.597 secs
5. Alex Hofmann GER Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) 1min 58.800 secs
6. Marco Melandri ITA Gresini Honda (B) 1min 58.802 secs
7. Olivier Jacque FRA Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 1min 58.821 secs
8. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 1min 58.857 secs
9. Shinya Nakano JPN Konica Minolta Honda (M) 1min 59.016 secs
10. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 1min 59.078 secs
11. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team (M) 1min 59.209 secs
12. Alex Barros BRA Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) 1min 59.371 secs
13. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 1min 59.426 secs
14. Carlos Checa SPA Honda LCR (M) 1min 59.921 secs
15. Toni Elias SPA Gresini Honda (B) 2min 0.362 secs
16. Makoto Tamada JPN Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 2min 0.467 secs
17. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 2min 0.539 secs
18. Randy de Puniet FRA Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 2min 0.941 secs
19. Kenny Roberts USA Team Roberts (M) 2min 3.333 secs

Comment
04/20/07
f1
motogp

Bernie makes surprise MotoGP visit UPDATE Ecclestone usually makes it to one MotoGP race a year, but almost always attends on a qualifying or race day. The visit looked more like a business trip, with Ecclestone inspecting the facility. It has been rumored for several weeks that Ecclestone has acquired the rights to run the track and may even have bought the entire circuit, although the details of the deal are not entirely clear at the moment. This deal came about after he paid the FIA fine for the promoter after the podium incident at last year's Turkish Grand Prix. Grandprix.com

04/20/07 (GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has surprised the motor racing world by turning up at the scene of this weekend's MotoGP round in Turkey.

'Motorcycle News' said it is not clear why the formula one supremo is in Istanbul, or why he oddly sat in to watch and listen to the pre-event press conference, but the 76-year-old later seemed happy to pose for a photograph with the talented and popular rider Valentino Rossi.

Rossi was speaking at the press conference, sparking recollections of Ecclestone's previous on-the-record support for the Italian's near-switch to F1 in recent years.

But Rossi, who has tested for Ferrari on several occasions, finally put a stop to the speculation by committing for 2007 and beyond to MotoGP.

With his flamboyant on and off-track personality, however, Bernie said in 2005 that Rossi would be "ideal" for his four-wheeled sport.

Comment
04/20/07
f1

Improvements on the way for BMW Sauber
The BMW Sauber Formula 1 team showed it made a lot of progress this winter. Nick Heidfeld is currently fifth in the F1 championship with fifteen points already, while team-mate Kubica brought in three points. BMW's technical director Willy Rampf said the team is not sitting still, improvements will be brought to Barcelona next week.

Just like most other F1 teams BMW Sauber F1 will be testing at Circuit de Catalunya next week. The team will bring several new components. Technical Director Willy Rampf said about the team's current progress. "Obviously we are trying to make the car even faster. The next test in Barcelona is scheduled to prepare for the race on that track. We will have several new components on the car in order to take off a few extra tenths of a second per lap. Taking everything into consideration I believe we can be satisfied with what we have at our disposal now."

Comment
04/20/07
cc

Rahal talks about Houston

More time behind the wheel is also something Medi | Zone driver Graham Rahal is looking forward to.  After having his Champ Car debut end on the first racing lap in the season-opener in Las Vegas, Rahal was able to qualify fifth in Long Beach and take the checkered flag for the first time in eighth place.  He is looking forward to building on that experience this weekend.

“After getting a full race behind us in Long Beach the Medi | Zone team is looking forward to Houston,” said Rahal, 18, who spent some time in a flight simulator at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on Thursday morning.  “I now have some Champ Car racing experience to build on and we can only keep improving in Houston.  Last year in Houston I didn’t finish the (Atlantic) race but we were very competitive.  I was running second and got a little greedy and decided I was going to go for the win.  I got inside Raphael Matos and I know he saw me because I was far enough beside him but he turned in and we made contact and that was the race for me.  It was five laps from the end of the race but it was a good race for us last year because it was the first race where I could prove I was competitive.  We went on to Monterrey, Mexico the next weekend and won the race.  If I hadn’t had such a good weekend in Houston, the Monterrey win may never have happened because we wouldn’t have realized how capable we were of winning.”

Read more & Comment...

04/20/07
TV News

Weekend USA TV reminders
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Friday
NASCAR Live! Phoenix
4:00pm-4:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Phoenix
4:30pm-5:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Qualifying Phoenix
5:30pm-7:00pm (L) SPEED
Trackside Phoenix
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Final Practice Phoenix
8:00pm-9:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Series Bashas' Supermarket 200 Phoenix
9:00pm-12:00am (L) Incl Preshow ESPN2
9:00pm-12:00am (L) Webcast - ESPN 360
9:00pm-12:00am (L) Webcast - NASCAR.com
Formula 1 Plus Bahrain
11:00pm-12:00am SPEED
Saturday
IRL Motegi, Japan
12:00am-2:00am (L) Webcast - ESPN 360
NASCAR Now
12:00am-12:30am ESPN2
NASCAR Now
2:00am-2:30am ESPN2
NASCAR Now
10:00am-11:00am ESPN2
Champ Car Practice Houston
11:00am-12:00pm (L) Webcast - Race Director
Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race Long Beach
1:30pm-2:00pm (4/14/07) SPEED
NASCAR Angels
2:00pm-2:30pm * Check local listings for your time zone ABC
Champ Car Practice and Qualifying Houston
2:30pm-2:50pm (L) Practice 4  Webcast - Race Director
2:50pm-4:00pm (L) Qualifying 2  Webcast - Race Director

Read more & Comment...
04/19/07
nascar

Allmendinger fails to qualify yet again
Qualifying is over for this weekend's Nextel Cup race in Phoenix with Jeff Gordon grabbing the pole position.  Among those failing to qualify was AJ Allmendinger.....yet again...nor did his Red Bull teammate Brian Vickers.  With their cars failing to qualify week in and week out Red Bull isn't getting much value (zero TV and fan exposure) for all that money they are spending in NASCAR.  Other Toyota drivers like Dale Jarrett and team owner Michael Waltrip did not fare as well. Waltrip was 38th overall and failed to qualify for the sixth consecutive race, while Jarrett was 48th and had to use the fifth of six allowable former series champion's provisionals to make the 43-car field. Qualifying report to follow on home page.

Comment
04/19/07
Industry News

Two new safety technologies help drivers
Two new safety technologies may help drivers steer clear of potential lane-change collisions. Using a camera located between the inside rearview mirror and the windshield, the lane departure system alerts drivers when they inadvertently stray from their designated traffic lane. Using radar sensors behind the rear fascia, the side blind zone system helps drivers avoid crashing into vehicles that they would not have sensed otherwise. Both new technologies will be available on 2008 Buick Lucerne sedan models beginning in the summer of 2007. An estimated 200,000 car crashes annually are the result of automobiles mistakenly switching lanes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Comment
04/19/07
track news

Lower costs suites available for Indy 500 UPDATE A reader points out, Dear AutoRacing1.com, The fact the Indy has to break another tradition and change their month-long suite deals into smaller packages proves to me that the 500 has been reduced to a one weekend event. John Howard

04/17/07 The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is introducing two new affordable hospitality options, Single Day Suites and the Plaza Chalet Club, this May for the 91st Indianapolis 500.

Both new programs were created to fulfill growing interest from individuals and corporations to entertain on specific days or with smaller groups during the Month of May at the Speedway.

"Single Day Suites and the Plaza Chalet Club came about due to feedback from our customers, who wanted a greater variety of hospitality options for the Indy 500," IMS Director of Sales Bob Beasley said. "These new programs will not only offer more flexibility for larger groups, they will allow smaller groups to enjoy the excitement and first-class service and amenities of a day at the track."

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04/19/07
nascar

Busch says he didn't know
A contrite Kyle Busch took at least partial blame for the miscommunication that led to his leaving the track last week, while his Hendrick Motorsports team repaired his No. 5 Chevrolet and was searching for a driver.

“I assumed the car was finished, that there was too extensive damage to fix it. I took that as an indication we were done for the day, went to the hauler and changed my clothes,” Busch said Thursday.

“I never had a team member or anybody say they we were trying to get back out. We just never talked with each other after the incident.”

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04/19/07
nascar

DEI Forms Entertainment Company
Max Siegel, President of Global Operations for Dale Earnhardt, Inc., announced today the formation of the Earnhardt Entertainment Division, a new entertainment division within DEI that will merge the various aspects of the entertainment industry with NASCAR. The Earnhardt Entertainment Division will develop, produce and distribute music, film and television, visual imaging and digital content, as well as special event projects. The company will announce its plans to collaborate with major entertainment partners on several exciting projects in the upcoming months.

“We are looking forward to offering rich entertainment programming and innovative content,” said Siegel. “There’s such great synergy there and it’s our goal to bring the two entities together to enjoy a mutually-beneficial relationship while keeping our focus to connect to millions of fans.”

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04/19/07
nascar

Q and A with Matt Kenseth
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, heads into Saturday night’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 in third place in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup points standings. Kenseth won at Phoenix International Raceway in November 2002. This is the third Car of Tomorrow race; Kenseth finished 11th and 10th at Bristol and Martinsville, respectively, in the first two COT races.

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion – WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE COT AT THIS TRACK? “It’s the same as I thought it was going to be like, really. We did a tire test here, which was okay. We’ve been struggling with ours a little bit. We got some speed out of it in qualifying trim, which I was surprised, but our race trim we still can’t get it to drive quite like I want, so we have to work on it tomorrow in practice and hopefully get it a little better.”

HOW MUCH WORK CAN YOU DO ON THE CARS? “There’s not as much work that we can do on those cars as we can on the cars that we normally run – or whatever you want to start calling them. We all carry the same package. Everybody’s going to have to the same rules and areas to work in, we’ve just got to figure it out better.” 

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04/19/07
f1

Q and A with Denis Chevrier
With a month to go before the next round of the 2007 world championship that will take place in Barcelona Spain, Renault F1’s chief race engineer, Denis Chevrier, has summed up the first three races for the French based squad.

Denis, the ING Renault F1 Team had had a difficult start to the season. What is the engineer’s point of view?
It’s true. The first three rounds of the 2007 championship have been very closely fought, and it’s been difficult for the team. Where the engine’s concerned our reliability level’s pretty good so far; we’ve had a few issues but nothing dramatic, and we’ve brought our two cars to the finish in all three events, which is satisfying.

Where would you situate the ING Renault F1 Team in relation to the others?
This year competition is very tough and up to now we’ve clearly been in the role of challenger. At present it’s very difficult for us to compete for a place on the rostrum so our aim is to score points with both cars. In Bahrain we saw just how small the gaps are in qualifying. As things stand at present, we can’t allow ourselves to lose even one of two tenths as it’s what’ll allow us to make it into the qualifying shootout: it’s not the same race when you start from sixth or seventh place on the grid as when it’s from eleventh.

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04/19/07
racing news

Dayton driver was auto racing's Jackie Robinson
Racing with inferior equipment compared to most of his competitors, sprint car legend Joie Ray didn't find wins as often as he should have. But off the track, few could keep up with his winning personality.

"His biggest career accomplishment was how many friends he made," said Dr. Pat Sullivan, Indy Racing League announcer and author of a soon-to-be released book on Mr. Ray. "I don't know a soul who didn't like Joie Ray. He was a great ambassador for racing and a great ambassador for African-Americans. He was such an incredible role model because he was just so classy."

Mr. Joseph (Joie) R. Ray Jr., 83, passed away Friday morning in Louisville, Ky., after a brief illness. Visitation is today in Louisville. Funeral services will be at noon Wednesday, also in Louisville.

As baseball remembers Jackie Robinson for breaking the color barrier, the sprint car world celebrates Mr. Ray for doing the same just a week apart. Mr. Ray, the first black driver to receive a sprint car license from the American Automobile Association, ran his first race April 8, 1947. Robinson made his major-league debut April 15.

"It's ironic it's right consistent with Jackie Robinson," said Sullivan. "Jackie was such a fierce competitor. Joie was so uncommonly nice everybody liked him."

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04/19/07
alms

The Rocket and McNish talk karting
One of baseball’s best received some much-welcomed advice from one of the American Le Mans Series’ best Thursday. Major league legend and Houston resident Roger Clemens got some pointers from reigning LMP1 champion Allan McNish in advance of Saturday’s Celebrity Go-Kart Race at JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park, site of Saturday’s Lone Star Grand Prix for the American Le Mans Series. Clemens will give the start command for Saturday’s two-hour, 45-minute race, Round 4 of the 2007 season.

It was quite a stark contrast: the 6-4, 240-pound Clemens seeking tips from the 5-5, 128-pound McNish. But the two-time Series champion was a fountain of knowledge and apparently Clemens soaked it in rather well.

“I was quite surprised having heard this was his first time. He looked like he knew the lines around the circuit very well,” said McNish, who will drive a diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI this weekend with Rinaldo Capello. “There are some similarities between racing and his sport of baseball. You have to have a rhythm with a gentle pressure on the throttle and brake. That makes things much better and much easier. You also see controlled aggression.”

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04/19/07
cc

Edmonton race gets Budweiser backing
Budweiser and the Grand Prix of Edmonton are proud to announce that Budweiser is now the official beer of the Grand Prix of Edmonton, which will take place July 20 - 22 at Edmonton's City Centre Airport.

The new multi-year partnership is a valuable addition to Budweiser's involvement in the community of Edmonton and is an extension of Budweiser's industry leading association with auto racing, such as sponsorship of Grand Prix of Canada Formula 1 Racing Series in Montreal.

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04/19/07
cc

Bourdais returns to defend Houston crown
Both McDonald’s® driver Sebastien Bourdais and Medi | Zone driver Graham Rahal departed the 2006 Grand Prix of Houston with something that would help them later in the season.  Bourdais earned his second of four consecutive wins on the city streets around Reliant Arena and built a sizeable cushion in his bid for a third consecutive title while Rahal discovered the formula that would enable him to go on to win an Atlantic series-high five wins en route to second place rank by seasons end.  Both are hoping for more of the same this weekend. In the video to the right Sebastien Bourdais talks about doing three straight races, defending his title and passing at Houston.

“The confidence built through starting the season strong with four wins last year was very much of a positive,” said Bourdais, who led a total of 33 laps and set the fastest lap time in the 2006 Houston race.  “We had a bad event in Las Vegas but the McDonald’s team came back to win in Long Beach and I hope we can carry that momentum over to Houston.”

This year’s event will be run on Sunday afternoon rather than Saturday night like last year.  Bourdais recovered from losing provisional pole on Thursday due to disqualification (under weight), and wound up with a lower than usual starting position of fifth place.  At the start of the event he charged to the front and pressured race leader Mario Dominguez into a mistake to take the win.  He following his season-opening win in Long Beach up with one in Houston then went on to win in Monterrey, Mexico and on the oval in Milwaukee.  He has fond memories of his charge to the front at JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park.

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04/19/07
irl

How technology plays role in car setup times
Dan Griffis of the Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR) Indy Car team discusses how technology plays a role in reducing car setup times and enables the team to focus more attention on preparation for winning a race from the moment they arrive at the track.  TCGR is one of the better IRL Indy Car teams and have always run toward or at the front of the field even when they were a CART team.

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04/19/07
irl

ESPN changes time of Motegi broadcast
ESPN has changed the telecast time for Saturday's IndyCar Series event from Japan. The Indy Japan 300 will now start at 3 p.m. ET rather than noon as had originally been scheduled.

A first-round game of the NBA Playoffs between the New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors will be televised live beginning at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN. The 10 a.m. edition of SportsCenter will be extended to 12:30 p.m.

The IndyCar Series is going international with the event at Twin Ring Motegi, a 1.5-mile oval located some 60 miles northeast of Tokyo. The race will mark the fifth visit of the IndyCar Series to Japan, which hosted the series' first-ever overseas event in 2003.

ESPN's Marty Reid will be lead announcer for the IndyCar Series telecast, joined in the booth for analysis by former IndyCar Series driver Scott Goodyear. Reporting the action from the pits will be Jack Arute.

The Indy Japan 300 will broadcast live on the IMS Radio Network at 11:30 p.m. ET on Friday with live video streaming on www.indycar.com, free of charge. Additionally, the IMS Radio Network broadcast will be carried live on XM Satellite Radio Channel 144.

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04/19/07
f1

Renault F1 travels to streets of Warsaw
The Renault F1 Team Roadshow will go into its fourth season where the team visits various cities and race tracks for free Formula 1 demonstration runs. The team visited cities such as Moscow, Seville, Tokyo, Lyon, Istanbul and Rome, but also the World Series by Renault championship.

Launched in 2003, this program has already thrilled more than 1.5 million people worldwide, offering them a unique sporting spectacle blending high technology, approachability and passion.

As the program enters its fourth season, its goals remain unchanged: to take passionate fans or new-comers to the very heart of the action, and to offer them unforgettable motorsport memories.

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04/19/07
alms

Houston: ALMS pre-race quotes
This weekend’s Lone Star Grand Prix marks the third straight street race for the American Le Mans Series. Already the Series’ cars and stars have made first-time visits to St. Petersburg and Long Beach. Now they head back to the streets of Houston and JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park for a second consecutive visit. What makes a street event so special, what challenges to they bring, and how will last year’s experience at Houston help teams and drivers?

Allan McNish, Audi Sport North America
“From our point of view, it can be an advantage because we have very limited experience with the Audi R10 TDI on these types of tracks. So we’re learning during every session we do. The only slight negative is that the R10 doesn’t really like that type of place. It likes to stretch its legs.”

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04/19/07
cc

Vegas Grand Prix has good first run
The people who brought downtown Las Vegas the Vegas Grand Prix made a serious promise at events that kicked off the race weekend: "This will be the worst Grand Prix you'll ever see," event co-owner Dale Jensen said.

"But that's because we will improve on this each year, make it better and better," he continued. Jensen is majority stakeholder in baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks and a shareholder in the NBA's Phoenix Suns.

Despite being "the worst ... ever," the consensus is the inaugural event wasn't too shabby.
Jim Freudenberg, CEO of Vegas Grand Prix, says some changes are in the works, with an eye toward next year. New ancillary events are being planned and more communication with downtown businesses is warranted, in order to stave off some of the headaches the race created for locals. At the top of that list are traffic tie-ups and road closures.

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04/19/07
cc

Champ Car's move to Phoenix timely
Champ Car is adding a race in Phoenix, Arizona at the right time it seems.  The county Phoenix is in is the fasting growing in the nation.  Maricopa County, Ariz., gained 696,000 residents between 2000 and 2006, the largest numerical increase of the nation’s 3,141 counties, according to estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

This increase surpasses the total population of all but 15 U.S. cities. Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, has 3.8 million residents, making it the nation’s fourth largest county.

“The dramatic increase in Maricopa County’s population is the main reason Arizona became the nation’s fastest-growing state between 2005 and 2006,” said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon, referring to the state population estimates released last December. “Maricopa’s growth has been remarkable, adding nearly 3 million residents since the 1970 census.”

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04/19/07
Industry News

Chrysler offers new sales twist
DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group told dealers Wednesday it is adding cash incentives on several new vehicles and added an unusual twist -- bonuses of up to $15,000 for sales managers whose dealerships meet or exceed April sales volume targets.

In a memo from Chrysler to its dealers obtained by The Detroit News, Chrysler said the incentives were "designed to close out April with increased momentum."

Sales managers will become eligible for a cash bonus if their dealership reaches 100 percent of its goal for April established under the automaker's volume performance allowance (VPA) program. The bonuses will be higher if the dealership hits 115 percent of its goal, according to the memo.

Chrysler's VPA program, a source of controversy among dealers, already doles out up to $500 per vehicle to dealerships that achieve VPA goals. In April, though, sales managers can also earn extra money. At smaller dealerships, sales managers can earn $3,000 for reaching the goal and $5,000 for exceeding it. The bonuses are higher for medium,-sized dealerships -- $5,000 and $10,000 -- and large dealerships -- $10,000 and $15,000. More at Detroit News

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04/19/07
cc

Rahal leaves school books home
His last name is synonymous with excellence in open-wheel racing. And he has been tagged as the future superstar of the discipline.

But the biggest source of pressure Champ Car World Series rookie Graham Rahal might endure on any given race week is finding time to stay current with his schoolwork. Because with graduation on the horizon, high school can be rough going for the 18-year-old.

"It's tough," said Rahal, who, when not on the road, attends New Albany High School in New Albany, Ohio. "I have to say my teachers help me out a lot with that."

It must have been a light school day for Rahal on Wednesday, because textbooks were nowhere to be found in the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team paddock at Reliant Park.

"I didn't bring them with me," Rahal said, smiling.

Which might be good for Rahal, considering he will be busy preparing for the two qualifiers and Sunday's Grand Prix of Houston, the third Champ Car race of his young career.

"For me, it will be different this weekend because I've never driven the course in a Champ Car," said Rahal, son of 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal. "It's something I'll have to get used to, but hopefully by Friday, everything will be sorted out."  More at Houston Chronicle

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04/19/07
nascar

Waltrip gets new crew chief
Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced today that Buddy Sisco will move over to the #55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry team as crew chief for Michael Waltrip. Sisco, who most recently served as car chief on the #00 Domino's Pizza Toyota Camry, begins his new role with Waltrip this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. "I am honored to be stepping back into the role as Michael's crew chief," said Sisco, who was Waltrip's part-time crew chief last year. "This is a position I have wanted for a long time. You have to remember that this team is a start up team with a new manufacturer to the sport. We have veteran people on our crew, but this is not a veteran team. I owe my dedication to Michael and his team, which I know has great potential." Waltrip has confidence in Sisco's leadership abilities to deliver results. "Buddy provides the guidance that our team needs," said Waltrip. "The core individuals that proudly wear the NAPA shield continue to be diligent. Through all of the ups and downs this season, their efforts and loyalty have not wavered. Buddy will focus solely on the performance of my #55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry." Sisco has vast experience in the Nextel Cup Series and Busch Series as a crew chief. The move is another step forward in the significant reorganization taking place at MWR. In addition to Sisco's new role, Derrick Finley will take over as Lead Team Engineer on the #55 NAPA Toyota. MWR PR

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04/19/07
nascar

Stewart discusses 'retirement' and Montoya
On last night's edition of his weekly SIRIUS NASCAR Radio show "Tony Stewart Live," #20-Tony Stewart and co-host Matt Yocum reviewed the weekend in Texas, looked back at Stewart's post-race comments on retirement, and talked about his run-in with #42-Juan Pablo Montoya. On his post-race comments on being "ready to retire" after a frustrating day at Texas Motor Speedway: "I love the Home Depot team. I love my guys. We've still got unfinished business with the Daytona 500 and four other tracks that we haven't won at, I guess. I don't know. It's just kind of a weird deal. I didn't mean to put all of our fans in a three-alarm fire situation. It was more just emotion speaking than it was common sense. Trust me. There's one thing I can promise you. I'm not retiring before my contract is up in 2009. I've made a commitment to Home Depot and Joe Gibbs Racing. Even as disappointing as it was we've been in this situation before and we've battled back and won championships with it. So there's nobody on our race team that will throw in the towel, myself included. It's definitely tough when you have a car that you think you're going to have a really good weekend with and all of a sudden the next day it kind of washes away. After you've been at the racetrack for five straight days it's easy to let that emotion get to you."

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04/19/07
f1

Latest F1 news in brief
  • 'The week of excuses' - press analysis
  • Hakk to 'probably' test McLaren again
  • Renault 'crisis meeting' on Friday
  • Spyker to test more regularly - Gascoyne
  • Toyota vow to help Ralf improve
  • No 'B' car in 2007 - Red Bull's Webber

'The week of excuses' - press analysis
(GMM) Some sections of the F1 press is conveying a cynical analysis of Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso's high-profile failures to perform in the recent Bahrain grand prix.

The German specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport headlined "The week of the excuse" after both drivers gave explanations for why they might have lagged behind their less highly-rated teammates at the Sakhir circuit.

Meanwhile, El Mundo Deportivo, a Spanish newspaper, is calling the saga a "Battle of egos".

"After the first three races (of 2007), both drivers should be coming to the realization that before thinking about the title, they must work out how to beat their respective teammates, Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton," a report said.

The Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat says Raikkonen's biggest problem with the F2007 is its front end; and the fact that Massa can cope better with a tendency to understeer.

"We must make the car behave better for Kimi," technical director Mario Almondo insisted to the Italian magazine Autosprint, after Raikkonen said Ferrari must work on improving his pace particularly in qualifying.

In La Gazzetta dello Sport, on the other hand, Spaniard Alonso floated the theory that his car may have been damaged on Friday evening by the falling gantry incident in the McLaren garage at Sakhir.

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04/19/07
irl

Motegi: Opening day practice times
Pos Driver Diff Best Time Best Speed
1 Danica Patrick (7) ... 26.9585 202.979
2 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 0.0675 27.0260 202.472
3 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.0911 27.0496 202.295
4 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.1343 27.0928 201.972
5 Dan Wheldon (10) 0.2054 27.1639 201.444
6 Marco Andretti (26) 0.2248 27.1833 201.300
7 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 0.2800 27.2385 200.892
8 Dario Franchitti (27) 0.2858 27.2443 200.849
9 Buddy Rice (15) 0.3850 27.3435 200.121
10 Scott Sharp (8) 0.4192 27.3777 199.871
11 Scott Dixon (9) 0.4298 27.3883 199.793
12 Tomas Scheckter (2) 0.4542 27.4127 199.616
13 Ed Carpenter (20) 0.5048 27.4633 199.248
14 AJ Foyt IV (22) 0.5082 27.4667 199.223
15 Sarah Fisher (5) 0.6122 27.5707 198.472
16 Vitor Meira (4T) 0.6719 27.6304 198.043
17 Darren Manning (14) 0.8621 27.8206 196.689
18 Jeff Simmons (17) 0.8651 27.8236 196.668

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04/19/07
irl

Danica leads opening day in Motegi
Danica Patrick continued her success in Japan, leading the opening day of preparations for the April 21 Indy Japan 300.

Patrick, who used a strong run at Motegi to set up her breakthrough performance at the Indianapolis 500 in 2005, lapped the 1.5-mile egg-shaped oval in 26.9585 seconds, 202.979 mph, in her No. 7 Team Motorola Honda-powered Dallara. Super Aguri Panther Racing's Kosuke Matsuura, the only Japanese driver in the IndyCar Series, was second-quick with a lap of 27.0260, 202.472.

Defending race winner Helio Castroneves (202.295 mph), Tony Kanaan (201.972 mph) and two-time Motegi winner Dan Wheldon (201.444) rounded out the top five as teams battled cool and windy conditions throughout both practice sessions.

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04/18/07
racing news

Big interest reported by Superleague
The recent media launch of Superleague Formula has kicked off a whirlwind period for series organizers with the championship's Barcelona head office flooded with calls from football clubs, race teams, drivers and suppliers.

Merging the passion of international football with the excitement of world-class motorsport, Superleague Formula will feature the colors of major international football clubs aboard 750 horsepower V12-powered single seater race cars.

Set to debut in August 2008, the championship was unveiled to the international media at the San Siro stadium in Milan on April 3. Major international clubs AC Milan, PSV Eindhoven, Olympiacos and FC Porto are already confirmed as series entrants.

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04/18/07
cc

Champ Car Mont-Tremblant tickets on sale
Champ Car Mont-Tremblant L.P. announces that tickets are now on sale for the 2007 edition of the Champ Car World Series to be disputed at the Circuit Mont-Tremblant on June 29, 30 and July 1st. During this presentation of the seventh round of the Champ Car World Series, racing fans will see some of today's stars, such as Sébastien Bourdais, Paul Tracy, Justin Wilson, Alexandre Tagliani and Will Power, fight for the first place.

The Champ Car race scheduled for Sunday afternoon will be the main attraction, but spectators will also get to watch a round of the spectacular Atlantic Series.

"Our intention is to make a great success of this summer's most expected return at the Mont-Tremblant Circuit," announced François Dumontier, General Manager of Champ Car Mont-Tremblant and promoter of the event. "The enchanting setting located at the foot of the mountain and the festive atmosphere brought to the Mont-Tremblant countryside by this event will leave the fans with good memories. They should call now to book their seats," concluded the organization's spokesman.

The Champ Car Mont-Tremblant Box Office is open from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., 7 days a week. During these hours, customers can order grandstand tickets, ranging from $95 to $135. General admission tickets are also available for $60 (3-Day pass),  $20 for the Friday event, $30 for Saturday or $40 for Sunday.

Please call at (514) 790-1245 or 1 (800) 361-4595 to reach the ticket office. Fans can also order tickets or a prestigious corporative package online at any time, at www.champcarmonttremblant.ca.

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04/18/07
cc

Joe’s renews as Sponsor of the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland
Mike Nealy, President of Global Events Group, announced today that Portland based Joe’s,- Sports, Outdoor and More has re-signed as presenting sponsor of the 2007 Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland to be staged at Portland International Raceway on June 8-10th.  Joe’s has long been an integral part of not only the racing landscape of Portland but a multitude of other community events as well.

“To have Joe’s back as presenting sponsor is an honor for us,” says Nealy. “Through the years their name has become synonymous with this race.  They have proven to be a great race partner but more importantly they have been a great community partner wherever they serve. We are proud to have them in our event logo.”

"We are excited to continue to be a major part of this great race, especially with the 100th anniversary of the Rose Festival” says Norm Daniels, President of Joe’s. “The race has become part of the summertime fabric for those in the Northwest and we have enjoyed being part of it. We have sort of grown together the last 24 years and now with a new name to reflect a new era for Joe’s we can’t think of a better way to show that new name off to our friends.”

The 24th running of the Champ Car series, with a new television contract, promises renewed growth and attention to the series and to Portland, Oregon. This year’s race will be televised nationally on ABC with a 1PM Pacific Time green flag.  The race will also be beamed into 170 International markets.

Joining the Champ Car’s for the Three Day festival of Speed will be the Atlantic Championship Series, Formula Drift, the Star Mazda Championships and The Globe of Death. The week also features Pit Stop Competitions, Street Parties and numerous other events.

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04/18/07
nascar

NASCAR.COM Gives Fans Free Access
NASCAR fans, Start…Your…Computers!  NASCAR.COM is offering ‘43 for Free’ during Talladega race weekend by giving race fans across the country access to all TrackPass subscription products at no charge so they can log-on and follow their favorite driver - or all 43 drivers- throughout the weekend.  The products, which include TrackPass RaceView, a live rendering of all NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races; TrackPass Pit Command, a 2-D rendering of each race; and TrackPass Scanner, exclusive in-car audio from the full-field of 43 drivers, will be available for free exclusively on NASCAR.COM during NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Qualifying (Sat., April 28 at 10:15 p.m. ET), the NASCAR Busch Series race (Sat., April 28 at 2:30 p.m. ET) and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race (Sun., April 29 at 1:30 p.m. ET).  The free access does not require registration or a credit card and marks the first time all three products are available for free during the same time period.  

“NASCAR.COM prides itself on giving racing fans the most access to their favorite drivers,” said Scott Bailey, vice president/general manager of operations, Turner Sports New Media. “Our TrackPass products allow fans everywhere to get closer to the drivers and all of the action on the track by providing live position, speed, time behind leader and in-car audio feeds from the comfort of their own computer screens.  We’re excited to provide the products for free during one of the biggest races of the year and give all race fans an unparalleled racing experience that they won’t forget.”  

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04/18/07
cc
alms

Grand Prix of Houston track gets a makeover
Martyn Thake puffs on his cigar as he guides a forklift driver, directing him as the barrier is fit into what will be the outside front straight at the Grand Prix of Houston track.

He taps ashes off his cigar and smiles as he explains where the track will go, animation creeping in as he gestures toward what used to be turn Two of the temporary track with the damp end of the cigar.

“The track will make a couple of 90-degree turns before it goes left,” he said, pointing at a mass of two-ton concrete barriers in no particular order. “Last year, we had a chicane. This year, when you come past the pit exit, it goes to a 90-degree right. The idea is to get these champ cars slowed to about 50 miles per hour. There’s no such thing as a good chicane. They use chicanes to fix something you screwed up.”

Screwed up is a strong set of words. But considering it was he who designed the track — and, thus, he who screwed up — he also wants you to know that he takes full responsibility for the way it turned out. And he’s taking full responsibility for the changes this year, too.

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04/18/07
nascar

Petty calls NASCAR a monopoly UPDATE Another Kyle Petty quote from same article.  For now, though, Petty said, the ratings and even the lower attendance have not caused a crisis because the race itself has become secondary to the marketing opportunities surrounding it.  “It’s not about the tickets or the TV ratings,” Petty said. “It’s all about how many Cokes we could sell in that market.”

Things must be getting pretty desperate in NASCAR when one of its biggest names finally speaks out and tells the world what NASCAR is really all about.  Don't look for Mr. Petty to get "The Call" anytime soon.

04/18/07 “Sometimes we overlook what could be considered a monopoly,” said Kyle Petty, a third-generation NASCAR driver. “We overlook what could be considered price-fixing with the purses and stuff like that. We overlook it because, in the end, we make a good living and they make a good living.”  Kyle Petty

[Editor's Note:  One wonders when Uncle Sam will step in, invoke the Sherman Anti-Trust laws, and break up this monopoly.]

Comment
04/18/07
Formula BMW

Formula BMW USA - Official Test
18 young drivers recently participated in the second of three official tests before the 2007 Formula BMW USA season begins on May 17 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele Valley, Utah.

Held on April 7th and 8th at Virginia International Raceway (VIR), in Alton, Virginia, the youngsters completed a combined 6000 miles under cool, crisp and fast conditions.  With no major incidents reducing the track time the ten teams on hand could run their programs with little interruption.

At the top of the timing chart was 2006 Rookie Champion Daniel Morad (AIM Autosport). Sophomore Formula BMW USA driver Sebastian Saavedra (EuroInternational) was only .013 seconds behind and newcomer Alexander Rossi (Hearn Motorsports) rounded out the top-three. Three Rookies were among the top-10 fastest with Jeffrey Petriello (Team KMA Racing) fourth, Esteban Gutierrez (Team Autotecnica) fifth and Eric Morrow (Hearn Motorsports) ninth. Petriello and Morrow are 2007 Junior scholarship drivers. Overall the top-13 times were within only one second promising another competitive Formula BMW USA season.

Formula BMW USA driving coach Pete Argetsinger said, "The series seems to go from strength to strength. This season looks like it will be even better than last year with strong returning drivers and some strong newcomers. I am very excited for the season to start."

Comment
04/18/07
nascar
cc

Another Aussie Racer Making His Mark On US Soil
With so much attention focused on Australian Champ Car driver Will Power and his 3rd podium in the last four Champ Car races who would have noticed there was another Australian driver quietly making an impact in US motorsport.

Marcus Ambrose currently sits 8th in NASCAR Busch Series championship points and is currently the top non-Nextel Cup driver.  As the Australian V8 Supercar champion of 2003 and 2004, Ambrose was credited with reviving Ford Racing in Australia where Holden had dominated for years. He moved to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2006 driving for Team Australia and sponsor Aussie Vineyards. Despite missing the first three races of the season, he was 3rd in rookie standings.

This season he is driving the #59 for Woods Brothers/JTG Racing with a strong portfolio of sponsors. There are also plans to run him in the Nextel-Cup Series at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. Orange County Register

Comment
04/18/07
nascar

NASCAR’s sudden decline in popularity catches corporate America off-guard
Detroit. That headline alone is enough to make marketing types around the country choke on their corn flakes, but it's even worse than that. When The New York Times, a publication that has been notoriously slow on the uptake when it comes to its motorsports coverage, has finally noticed that NASCAR's seemingly unstoppable upward trajectory in popularity has not only flattened out - it's starting to head downward in a hurry - then you know things are heading for trouble in NASCAR-Ville. In last Sunday's paper, the headline at the top of the Sports section blared the ugly reality: "NASCAR's Days of Thunder Are Giving Way to a Period of Uncertainty." The article outlined the fact that the NASCAR money machine is running out of gas, reeling from a merry-go-round of empty seats, declining TV ratings and a growing resistance across the U.S. to roll over for NASCAR's push into new markets. Funny, but you could almost hear the corporate marketing honchos across America wincing and groaning from here, because after all, they've bet the farm on the idea that the sun would never set on the France family empire - and a lot of people who should have known better are going to get caught up in the wreckage when the NASCAR marketing juggernaut implodes.

How bad is it? The Times reported that from 2004 through last season, television ratings - NASCAR's bread and butter as far as corporate America is concerned - plummeted. Down 28 percent in Philadelphia, 22.2 percent in Los Angeles, 12.5 percent in Chicago and stagnant in New York. NASCAR apologists would quickly point out that the cities mentioned aren't exactly hotbeds for stock car racing "fans," and they would be correct. Fair enough, but how do you account for the fact that NASCAR's ratings in Atlanta dropped 18.2 percent in that same period?

Much to corporate America's consternation, the pendulum has begun its inevitable swing back the other way for NASCAR - and this in just the first year of an eight-year deal with ABC/ESPN, Fox, TNT and the Speed networks valued at $4.5 billion, or a hefty $560 million a year. Not good would be an understatement, but it's about to get even uglier than that for the France family's "racertainment" series.

The fact that the wheels are coming off the NASCAR money train shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, because you could see it coming a mile away. Sky-high ticket prices, empty seats, market oversaturation, too many sponsors creating a paralyzing amount of message clutter, the abandonment of traditional dates and race tracks, cookie-cutter cars that bear no resemblance to recognizable production car versions, too many races, etc., etc., etc. - the France family has provided a working model of how not to keep momentum going.  More at Autoextremeist.com

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04/18/07
track news

Pocono Fans Get Virtual Views
POCONO, Pa. -- Race fans can now take a high-resolution virtual tour of the Pocono Raceway grandstand by logging onto www.poconoraceway.com. There, fans can see approximately 150 three-dimensional seat views.  "It provides a realistic view of what race fans can expect to see from their grandstand seating selection prior to ordering tickets," said Pocono Raceway CEO Dr. Joseph Mattioli.  The application, designed by Pinnacle Athletes, was created to allow customers the opportunity to view precise, high-resolution, interactive views as an aid to Internet ticket sales.

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04/18/07
racing news

SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking
Updated 4-18-07
Pos. (LW) Driver (Series) Pts
1. (19) Sebastien Bourdais (CCWS) 8.668
2. (5) Jeff Burton (NASCAR) 8.489
3. (4) Jeff Gordon (NASCAR) 8.473
4. (1) Will Power (CCWS) 8.257
5. (6) Matt Kenseth (NASCAR) 8.020
6. (31) Felipe Massa (F1) 7.436
7. (8) Denny Hamlin (NASCAR) 7.136
8. (12) Helio Castroneves (IRL) 6.773
9. (10) Alex Tagliani (CCWS) 6.748
10. (2) Fernando Alonso (F1) 6.746
11. (14) Scott Dixon (IRL) 6.599
12. (17) Carl Edwards (NASCAR) 6.584
13. (22) Jamie McMurray (NASCAR) 6.550
14. (16) Bruno Junqueira (CCWS) 6.441
15. (3) Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR) 6.329
16. (15) Clint Bowyer (NASCAR) 6.289
17. (NR) Mark Martin (NASCAR) 6.286
18. (18) Kimi Raikkonen (F1) 6.240
19. (36) Justin Wilson (CCWS) 6.212
20. (NR) Oriol Servia (CCWS) 6.050

Dropped out: Paul Tracy (CCWS), Kyle Busch (NASCAR), Tony Stewart (NASCAR), Dale Earnhardt Jr., Dan Wheldon (IRL)

Provided by STATS Inc.
Current year results, last 10 races, last five races and last race are factored in equally, with an adjustment factor to compensate for the series different scoring systems. In addition, a competition difficulty factor has been included to balance the competitive depth of each series.

Comment
04/18/07
irl

Ethanol may cause more smog, more deaths
Switching from gasoline to ethanol — touted as a green alternative at the pump — may create dirtier air, causing slightly more smog-related deaths, a new study says.

Nearly 200 more people would die yearly from respiratory problems if all vehicles in the United States ran on a mostly ethanol fuel blend by 2020, the research concludes. Of course, the study author acknowledges that such a quick and monumental shift to plant-based fuels is next to impossible.

Each year, about 4,700 people, according to the study’s author, die from respiratory problems from ozone, the unseen component of smog along with small particles. Ethanol would raise ozone levels, particularly in certain regions of the country, including the Northeast and Los Angeles.

“It’s not green in terms of air pollution,” said study author Mark Jacobson, a Stanford University civil and environmental engineering professor. “If you want to use ethanol, fine, but don’t do it based on health grounds. It’s no better than gasoline, apparently slightly worse.”

His study, based on a computer model, is published in Wednesday’s online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology and adds to the messy debate over ethanol.  More from AP article

Comment
04/18/07
alms

Audi driver Allan McNish about Houston
  • Fourth round of the American Le Mans Series in Texas
  • Third consecutive “city” street race for the Audi R10 TDI
  • 1.7-mile temporary track around Reliant Park Sports complex

Just a week after racing in Long Beach (California) round four of the American Le Mans Series is taking place in Houston (Texas). The Audi R10 TDI has to tackle its third consecutive race on a street course. Last year’s Houston winner Allan McNish talks about the 1.7-mile temporary track around the Reliant Park Sports complex.
 
Last year you enjoyed success in Houston with Dindo Capello at the wheel of the TFSI-powered Audi R8. Did you expect to win that race?
"That’s still a memorable victory. It was the first time in Houston for the American Le Mans Series while to win in what was effectively a six-year-old car, against the latest opposition and on a track that should have been ideal for them, made it very sweet – and surprising.”

You have driven on many street tracks including Monaco, Macau, Pau, Birmingham, Adelaide, St. Petersburg and Long Beach. Do you enjoy them?
"I don’t necessarily enjoy driving on them but I don’t dislike them either. I’ve always gone well on street tracks from the first time I raced on one in Macau in 1989. Dindo and I won in Adelaide to clinch the 2000 American Le Mans Series title for Audi and I set the second fastest time on my first day in Formula One at Monaco. You need controlled aggression on street tracks – otherwise the penalty is a concrete wall.”

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04/18/07
Industry News

GM sales up in Latin America
General Motors Latin America, Africa & Middle East (GM LAAM) region set a new Q1 sales record in 2007, selling over 269,000 vehicles, up approximately 39,000 units over the same period last year. Plus, GM's quarterly market share in the region increased 0.2 percent to 16.3 percent.

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04/18/07
nascar

NASCAR faces uncertain future
On the cusp of the 2007 season, Brian France, chairman and chief executive of NASCAR, stood before reporters at Daytona International Speedway and declared that the sport was continuing its remarkable rise.

France, the 44-year-old grandson of Bill France Sr., who founded NASCAR 59 years ago, said on that February day that he expected television ratings to increase after a drop-off last year in more than 80 percent of the races featuring top drivers. He predicted that NASCAR would rediscover the momentum that had transformed stock-car racing from a niche market in the Southeast to one of the most-watched sports in the United States.

But six races into the current season, NASCAR is at a crossroads, suffering from an identity crisis at the same time that television viewership has not recovered. Ratings are down about 14 percent compared with last season, said officials from International Speedway Corporation, which owns 12 of the 22 tracks where NASCAR runs top races. More at NY Times

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04/18/07
Track News

Road America introduces new Motorcycle School
Elkhart Lake, Wis., - Road America has announced the creation of its Road America Motorcycle School. The Road America Motorcycle School is endorsed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). Successful completion of the school's basic rider course enables participants to obtain a Class M endorsement on their driver's license from the WisDOT. Two MSF-designed courses will be offered by Road America: the Basic Rider Course (BRC) and the Experienced Rider Course (ERC). The BRC consists of 16 hours of combined classroom and practical riding instruction. Participants in this course learn basic riding techniques along with important safety skills to minimize the risks of motorcycling. Participants will use Suzuki GZ250s which are supplied by Road America.

The course fee is $250.00.  The ERC is for riders looking to sharpen and build on the skills learned in the BRC.  It consists of one hour of classroom and five hours of practical instruction. Riders must use their own motorcycles. The course fee is $125.00. Road America provides the instruction for both courses in its controlled, off-street environment. The courses are offered April through November. A current schedule of courses is available by calling Road America, 800/365-7223, Ext. 2010.

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04/18/07
irl

Playa Del Racing extends relationship with National
Playa Del Racing has extended its relationship with National Car Rental and Arelco Inc. through the 2007 Indy Pro Series season and the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500.  Arelco Inc. is an independent licensee of National Car Rental. The company currently owns and operates more than 35 locations across the nation. The company was founded in 1962 by William H. Smith in Indianapolis, where the company is still headquartered.

"We are very excited to extend our relationship with Playa Del Racing through the 2007 season," said Arelco Executive Vice President Kim Smith. "This team is a first-class operation that really knows how to have fun with the fans and the sponsors. I think National Car Rental is a perfect fit with the PDR organization."

The National logo has adorned every PDR car that has been entered by the squad.  "We have developed a long-lasting relationship with the great people at National Car Rental here in Indianapolis, and we hope to help them further develop their business through our operations." Playa Del Racing co-owner Susan Schafer said. "Arelco is a fabulous local company, and we want to help them grow."

Playa Del Racing has entered two cars in this year's Indianapolis 500.

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04/18/07
cca

Ricci and Lee strong in Long Beach debut
Conquest Racing Champ Car Atlantics rookie Giacomo Ricci finished sixth in Sunday’s Long Beach Grand Prix as teammate and fellow Long Beach first-timer Matt Lee came home eleventh in the second round of Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda competition.
 
The thirty-car field is packed with a field full of hungry, talented drivers looking to take the $2 million dollar Championship prize with them up to Champ Car, and many of whom have experience on the difficult, wall-lined Long Beach circuit. Both Ricci and Lee (pictured right) proved to be undaunted by the track as they improved their times throughout the weekend and continued to work on their championship positions.
 
Italian native Ricci, who won both the European F3000 championship in 2006, qualified sixth for the fifty-minute race and his sixth place finish moved him to ninth in the overall championship.

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04/18/07
nascar

Getting into NASCAR racing more costly than ever
This sudden trend of team owners trying to sign up wealthy, nonracing business partners seems to be taking stock-car racing into dangerous waters. It flies in the face of Brian France's push toward making the sport more accessible to potential new owners. It also holds the potential for upsetting the balance of power on several fronts, possibly even in Daytona.

Teams owners such as Jack Roush, Ray Evernham, Robert Yates and even Richard Petty might find it necessary to sign with rich, outside-the-racetrack business partners, to keep making a go of it in an increasingly expensive sport. But the France family has always preferred dealing with owners who are racers - such as Junior Johnson, Chip Ganassi, Roger Penske, Richard Childress - and who understand how the family likes the game played, how to go along to get along.

Outsiders? Well, think George Steinbrenner. And sweat.

The Frances should be worried about wealthy, business-savvy outsiders jumping in, because it appears to show that NASCAR's current run of cost-cutting rules might not be working, at least not in the way intended. More at Winston Salem Journal

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04/18/07
f1
irl

Philip Morris breaks promise to end sponsorship of racing UPDATE We failed to mention that another good friend of AutoRacing1.com president Mark Cipolloni died Saturday from cancer at the young age of 56.  He smoked Marlboro's cancer sticks for years.   Although he tried to stop smoking many times, he never could overcome their addictive nature.  He leaves behind a wife and three children.  How many more people will Marlboro/Philip Morris kill prematurely by hocking its addictive cancer causing products to innocent racing fans in F1 and the IRL?

04/17/07 The following is a statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris International (both subsidiaries of Altria) claim they are changed, responsible companies that do not market to kids and are concerned about the health risks of their products. But the companies' actions tell a different story. In the latest example, Philip Morris International this year is the only tobacco company that continues to sponsor Formula One auto races, which exposes spectators and tens of millions of television viewers worldwide - including millions of children - to the name, logo and red-and-white colors of the company's best-selling Marlboro cigarettes. The Marlboro brand was prominently displayed on the winning car and uniforms of the driver and pit crew at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday. No responsible company would continue to associate deadly and addictive cigarettes with the excitement and glamour of auto racing, thereby increasing their appeal to children.

Philip Morris' sponsorship of Formula One violates the company's own voluntary marketing standards and circumvents the efforts of a growing number of countries around the world to prohibit tobacco advertising, promotions and sponsorships, as required by the international tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

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04/18/07
Industry News

Ford pays firm to say it makes quality cars
In terms of initial vehicle quality, Ford Motor Co. is in a statistical dead-heat for second place with Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co., according to a new study the Dearborn automaker plans to release today. Honda Motor Co. is the quality leader.

The report is based on an annual survey of 31,000 new vehicle owners that was conducted for Ford by the RDA Group, a market research firm based in Bloomfield Hills. The study evaluated 2007 model cars and trucks from all full-line manufacturers and asked drivers to list any problems they had encountered during their first 90 days of ownership.

The Detroit News reviewed the findings with sources familiar with the report. These sources said four Ford vehicles -- the Mercury Milan, Ford Shelby GT-500, Ford Expedition EL and Lincoln Navigator -- led their segments in initial quality.

Improving quality is a major goal for Ford, which is struggling to hold on to what remains of its U.S. market share after years of losses to foreign competitors.

The RDA study found Ford cars and trucks had 1,458 problems per 1,000 vehicles -- 32 fewer problems than the industry average of 1,490 and 128 fewer than Ford customers reported last year.

Comment
04/18/07
Industry News

Chinese Automakers Gear up for Overseas Push
SHANGHAI, China — With models like the Hover and Roewe, Chinese-brand cars aren't household names in the U.S. and other big markets — not yet, at least.

But Chinese upstart automakers with equally obscure names such as Chery, Geely and SAIC are challenging industry leaders like General Motors, Volkswagen and Toyota in the fast-growing China market. And they're making inroads throughout the developing world with an eye toward eventually breaking into big Western markets.

China's homegrown automakers vie for attention with global giants like GM at the April 22-28 Shanghai Auto Show, a biennial event that will showcase China's phenomenal rise to become the world's No. 2 vehicle market.

The tenfold jump in China passenger car sales in the past decade has proved a big boost to General Motors Corp., which has become the market leader in China even as it loses market share at home. GM's sales in China last year rose 32 percent to 876,747 vehicles, while Ford Motor Co.'s jumped 87 percent to 166,722 units.

''Detroit is so cold, but here it's so, so hot,'' says Yale Zhang, a Shanghai-based auto analyst with CSM Worldwide.

Demand from newly affluent drivers in China lifted passenger car sales by 37 percent last year to 3.8 million units. All told, China's vehicle market — including trucks and buses — grew to 7.2 million last year, putting it second behind the U.S., with 16.5 million autos sold, but ahead of Japan, with 5.7 million. More at AP article

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04/18/07
racing news

US companies will spend an estimated $3.2B
US companies will spend an estimated $3.2 billion to sponsor motorsports teams, events, tracks and sanctioning bodies in 2007, up 11 per cent from the $2.9 billion spend in 2006, according to IEG Sponsorship Report.

NASCAR is top of the pile in terms of sponsorship spend with its new sponsorship strategy, concentrating on fewer, bigger corporate partners bringing in big, long-term deals.

Sponsorship interest in open wheel racing continues to be held back by concerns over the health of the sport although the Champ Car World Series this year signed a new partnership with software company iRise, the circuit has lost both Ford and Bridgestone as its presenting sponsors.

Comment
04/18/07
f1

Spyker F1 vs. F-16 fighter jet at Volkel Air Force Base
On Friday 20 April there will be an exciting encounter between the world of Formula 1 and military aviation at the Royal Netherlands air force base, Volkel. During this exclusive meeting, Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One driver Christijan Albers will race his F8-VII F1 challenger against air force pilot Ralph Staal's F-16 fighter jet. This publicity event, named 'Full Throttle', has been organized by the Royal Netherlands Air Force to raise awareness of their recruitment program.

The Spyker team holds historical ties with the Royal Netherlands Air Force; back in 1913, the first commander of the air force drove a Spyker car and from 1915 the air force flew seven Farman F22 planes, built under license by Spyker. Today Spyker still uses air force concepts to build its GT cars, known as the Spyker Squadron. The logo of Spyker also holds an air plane propeller.

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04/18/07
racing news
nascar

Canadian Tire Series ’07 Schedule
The inaugural season of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series competition will begin on Saturday, May 26 at Cayuga International Speedway, and includes races across 10 tracks throughout Canada, with the season-ending event on Sunday, Sept. 23 at Kawartha Speedway.

“The 2007 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series calendar presents a challenging variety of racetracks in key markets, from the sizzle of running in conjunction with the NASCAR Busch Series race in Montreal and during the Champ Car event in Edmonton, to storied oval and road circuits across Canada,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR’s managing director of racing operations. “Coupled with a strong, recognized series sponsor and a tremendous television package, this sets the stage for an outstanding season of racing.”

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04/18/07
nascar

Reiser wins Crew Chief Award
With all odds stacked against him, Robbie Reiser, crew chief on the No. 17 Roush / Fenway Racing team, orchestrated an unexpected top five finish at Texas Motor Speedway. With the starting grid for the Samsung 500 set via opener’s points after qualifying was a washout, the No. 17 DeWalt Ford was placed for a second row start. Throughout the race, Reiser had his crew working overtime to make the necessary adjustments on their poorly performing car, in the hope of giving his driver, Matt Kenseth, a chance at a respectable finish. His outstanding effort, along with his calculated racing strategy, won Reiser the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race.

Read more & Comment...
04/18/07
f1

Latest F1 news in brief
 
  • 'Car sharing' fight goes from bad to worse
  • Spyker wants 'b' car debut in July
  • Boss exit not death knell for Aus GP
  • Schu 'still part' of Ferrari - Massa
  • Group wants Ferrari sponsor butted out
  • BMW has 'fixed' gearbox flaw - Theissen
  • Spyker scraps Friday driver plans
  • Berger saves hype for another charger
  • McLaren probe Alonso's Bahrain struggle
  • No quick fix for career crisis - Ralf
  • Cigar-smoking Schu enjoying retirement

'Car sharing' fight goes from bad to worse
(GMM)  Red Bull is reportedly considering legal action against a former employee who leaked confidential car blueprints to its embittered rival Spyker.

The German magazine Auto Motor und Sport also reports that Red Bull, a main subject of the acrimonious and ongoing 'car sharing' row, is exploring possible action against Spyker, after the Dutch squad used the stolen blueprints in a stewards' protest at the Malaysian grand prix.

The latter would presumably involve the police, and possible criminal charges; and if authorities decide that the evidence was obtained illegally, it could not be used in the pending arbitration case.

It is also claimed that Red Bull has identified the source of the leak; a team member who left the Milton-Keynes based squad shortly after March's Australian grand prix.

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