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Ford outsells Toyota  For April, Ford — which has been distinguishing itself as the “different” American automaker that is surviving without federal assistance — sold 134,401 cars and trucks. Toyota sold 126,540.

In all, Ford said its sales declined 32% in April with its SUVs and trucks posting the largest declines.

The Ford F-Series pickup, which is Ford’s top-selling model and the best-selling vehicle in America, posted a 36% decline in April. More ...

Jeff Gordon undergoes MRI  Jeff Gordon said Friday he underwent an MRI for his chronic back problems, but was not ready to discuss the full results.

"When I know how we're going to treat it, I'll let you guys know,'' he said. "I don't believe it's anything serious, it's just something that's causing the pain. There's a little bit of arthritis, which is not totally unnatural. But there are also some other things that come, from what they can understand, from trauma, from a crash, or maybe just from years of beating it up.

"Heck, I might have picked up my luggage or something and tore something up in there. So I don't know.''

Gordon suffered through back pain last year, his first winless season since his 1993 rookie year. He only revealed the issue at the start of this season when he began using a trainer to help him properly stretch his back before and after races.

But the pain has lingered, and Gordon is certain it will be an issue in Saturday night's race at Richmond International Raceway. Because of the tight confines of the 0.755-mile track, Gordon expects a long night.

"This will be a tough weekend, because of the G-forces and the braking you use here and the long runs we have here,'' said Gordon, who is also fighting through a bad case of allergies this weekend. "It will be tough on my back. It will be a strain. We'll just have to fight through it.''

Miss America to sing at Indy 500  
Katie Stam
Reigning Miss America and Indiana native Katie Stam will sing "America the Beautiful" during pre-race ceremonies for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 24.

Stam, a 22-year-old native of Seymour, Ind., and student at the University of Indianapolis, was crowned Miss America 2009 on Jan. 24 in Las Vegas, the first time a Miss Indiana has won in the pageant's history.

The singing of "America the Beautiful" will take place only minutes before the start of the Indianapolis 500, continuing the countdown to traditional pre-race favorites such as driver introductions, the national anthem, the military flyover, the playing of "Taps," singing of "(Back Home Again In) Indiana," the release of balloons and the command to start engines. More ...

GM sales off 34%  General Motors dealers in the United States delivered 173,007 vehicles in April, down 34 percent compared with a year ago. However, when comparing GM's April sales with March, total volume was up 11 percent, or about 16,600 cars, crossovers and trucks, largely driven by a return to more normal volumes of fleet sales compared with a very weak first quarter. GM's car sales compared with March were up nearly 2,900 vehicles (4 percent), truck sales increased more than 9,500 vehicles (16 percent), and crossover sales were up nearly 4,200 vehicles (14 percent).

"From a retail standpoint, GM and the industry continued at about the same selling rate as February and March. We see that stabilization, along with a firming up of our fleet business and improvement in Silverado and Sierra sales, as an encouraging sign," said Mark LaNeve, vice president, GM North America Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing. "We're pleased to see R.L. Polk information this week indicating that a majority of consumers plan to buy a vehicle in the next two years - that shows pent-up demand is building. With our full line-up of cars, crossovers, trucks and hybrids - and some very competitive incentive offers - we're well-positioned to meet this growing consumer demand in the months ahead. For example, we have more than 15,000 sold orders for the white-hot Chevy Camaro."

Danica Patrick's Andretti Green Racing IndyCar Reveals New Look  Boost Mobile, the prepaid division of Sprint Nextel that redefines value for prepaid wireless consumers, and Motorola, Inc. today unleashed the new paint scheme for Danica Patrick's lucky #7 car with the announcement of a Boost Mobile sponsorship. Patrick unveiled the new IndyCar design today by driving it down the tarmac at the Indianapolis International Airport. For the remainder of the 2009 IndyCar Series season, Patrick will sport a jet-black Boost Mobile/Motorola/Andretti Green IndyCar with eye-catching, electric orange accents.

"Danica Patrick is the perfect representation of the Boost Mobile brand as she is unconventional, has edge and attacks the competition like Boost attacks the prepaid wireless market," said Matt Carter, president, Boost Mobile. "Boost Mobile has a long history with Motorola and is excited about the opportunity to work with Danica and Andretti Green Racing to broaden the Boost brand and appeal to Danica fans everywhere." "Solid and generous support from sponsors like Boost Mobile and Motorola keep me on the fast track to victory," said Danica Patrick. "Boost Mobile's signature live-on-the-edge spirit is definitely in tune with my competitive fire - and it will help take Andretti Green Racing up a few notches with a new attitude." Since 2007, Motorola has served as title sponsor of Patrick's IndyCar and provider of two-way communication solutions for all four Andretti Green teams. Motorola has been involved in open wheel racing for more than a decade and with Andretti Green Racing for the past six seasons. Motorola will continue to provide communication solutions to Andretti Green as well as promote its brand and products through the sport. More ...

track news
Street Circuit in Marrakech receives final FIA approval  The D3 Motorsport Development-designed temporary street circuit in Marrakech yesterday received final homologation from the FIA.

“We have the green light to go ahead with the event!” said Mr. Eduardo Ferias FIA Race Director for the Race of Morocco. Construction for the FIA WTCC Race of Morocco commenced in September 2008 and the finished product is the talk of Morocco.

Mr. Ferias stated he was very impressed by the amount of work that had gone into constructing this circuit, and with the quality of the finished product. “I had seen it [the circuit construction progress] in October [2008] and there was basically nothing, then again at the beginning of March [2009] when there was something. I was impressed when I arrived here on Monday with all that I saw, especially the quality of the work.” More ...

Ferrari's 'F60B' makes Vairano debut  (GMM)  Ferrari's heavily revised F60 formula one car made its track debut on Friday.

The single seater, up to 15 kilograms lighter than the original 2009 version according to Italian reports, is being tested in a straight line by the Spaniard Marc Gene.

The saved weight, in all areas including the material used for the seat belts, will benefit Ferrari's use of KERS, culminating in what Ferrari hopes is a lap-time advantage of several tenths.

It is also believed that the car, being called the F60B in the press, features a double-decker diffuser.

The aerodynamic test at Vairano, Italy, will be completed on Saturday.

Rossi tops opening day practice at Jerez  The MotoGP teams began their preparations for the Spanish Grand Prix on the 4.423km (2.748-mile) southern Spain track in Jerez, completing a busy opening practice session. The 45-minute duration of the practice periods in 2009 once again saw the teams working at lightning pace in the pit garage to get through an intense schedule of testing and evaluation ahead of qualifying tomorrow and Sunday’s 27-lap race. 



Rider Time Nat. Bike Team
1 Valentino Rossi 1m 39.647s ITA YAMAHA Fiat Yamaha Team
2 Loris Capirossi 1m 40.011s ITA SUZUKI Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
3 Casey Stoner 1m 40.268s AUS DUCATI Ducati Marlboro Team
4 Jorge Lorenzo 1m 40.441s SPA YAMAHA Fiat Yamaha Team
5 Andrea Dovizioso 1m 40.601s ITA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
6 Colin Edwards 1m 40.703s USA YAMAHA Tech 3 Yamaha
7 Randy De Puniet 1m 40.866s FRA HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
8 Chris Vermeulen 1m 41.063s AUS SUZUKI Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
9 Marco Melandri 1m 41.182s ITA KAWASAKI Hayate Racing Team
10 Dani Pedrosa 1m 41.208s SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
11 James Toseland 1m 41.461s GBR YAMAHA Tech 3 Yamaha
12 Sete Gibernau 1m 41.531s SPA DUCATI Grupo Francisco Hernando
13 Alex De Angelis 1m 41.557s SMR HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
14 Mika Kallio 1m 41.584s FIN DUCATI Pramac Racing
15 Toni Elias 1m 41.736s SPA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
16 Yuki Takahashi 1m 41.898s JAP HONDA Scot Racing Team MotoGP
17 Nicky Hayden 1m 41.916s USA DUCATI Ducati Marlboro Team
18 Niccolo Canepa 1m 42.063s ITA DUCATI Pramac Racing

FIA WMSC McLaren decision in full  The World Motor Sport Council ("WMSC") met on 29th April 2009 to consider a charge that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes ("McLaren"), a competitor in the FIA Formula One World Championship, had breached Article 151(c) of the International Sporting Code ("ISC"), which prohibits "any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally".

1 Background
1.1 During the closing laps of the 2009 Australian Grand Prix, an incident occurred which required that the safety car be deployed. At the time of deployment, driver No. 1 Lewis Hamilton (for McLaren) was placed fourth and driver No. 9 Jarno Trulli (for Panasonic Toyota Racing ("Toyota")) was placed third.

1.2 While running behind the safety car, Trulli left the track and Hamilton passed to take third place. Hamilton subsequently moved off the racing line to the right of the track and Trulli repassed, taking back third place.

1.3 Article 40.7 of the 2009 Formula One Sporting Regulations sets out the rules governing overtaking while running behind the safety car. Article 40.7 reads, in relevant part, as follows: "All competing cars must [...] reduce speed and form up in line behind the safety car no more than ten car lengths apart and overtaking, with the following exceptions, is forbidden until the cars reach the Line after the safety car has returned to the pits. Overtaking will be permitted under the following circumstances: [...] - . More ...

Dodge NASCAR program survives for now  Chrysler’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and its agreement to form an alliance with Italy-based Fiat SpA will not immediately impact the Dodge NASCAR program, according to Chrysler Director of Brand Marketing and Strategy Mike Accavitti.

Chrysler primarily supports seven teams, which compete with the Dodge brand, on the Sprint Cup circuit – four at Richard Petty Motorsports and three at Penske Racing.

“The partnership not only will transform Chrysler into a new, stronger car company with many strategic advantages, it will enable the company to better serve our customers with a broader and more competitive lineup of vehicles,” Accavitti said in a statement Thursday. “NASCAR is a strategic part of our marketing plan and the Dodge brand. We plan to continue our Dodge sponsorship and relationship into the foreseeable future.”

In a news release Thursday, Chrysler announced it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and would request “the swift approval by the court of the agreement with Fiat and the sale of Chrysler’s principal assets to the new company.”

Nationwide Talladega TV rating tanks  ABC’s live telecast of the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race last Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway earned a final national rating of 1.8, down from the 2.6 earned for last year’s race that also aired on ABC, according to the network.

Last year’s Talladega event set a record for the largest audience ever for a NASCAR Nationwide Series event on ABC. The 2007 edition of the race earned a 2.1 rating.

IndyCar rookies begin practice Tuesday  Veterans of the IndyCar Series and five rookies will be trying to make the field for the Indianapolis 500. Rookies will commence practice Tuesday in the rookie orientation program and all drivers will be on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track starting Wednesday in preparation for the first weekend of qualifying.
track news
Indy 500 Month of May Gate Info  Information on the gates and grandstands open to the public for practice and qualifying days and Race Day during the 2009 Indianapolis 500, May 5-24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

All seats are general admission up to Race Day, May 24. There is reserved seating and general admission on Race Day.


Date Gates Open to Public
May 5-7 (Rookie Orientation, Practice) 2, 3, 4, 4A, 7, 10, 10A, 10 Walk-In
May 8 (Fast Friday) 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4, 4A, 6, 7, 9, 10, 10A, 10 Walk-In
May 9 (Pole Day) 1, 1A, 1C, 2, 3, 4, 4A, 6, 7, 9, 10, 10A, 10 Walk-In
May 10 (Second Day Qualifying) 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4, 4A, 6, 7, 9, 10, 10A, 10 Walk-In
May 11-13, 18-19 (No Track Activity) 2 (for Hall of Fame Museum visitors only)
May 14-15 (Practice) 2, 3, 4, 4A, 7, 10, 10A, 10 Walk-In
May 16 (Third Day Qualifying) 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4, 4A, 6, 7, 9, 10, 10A, 10 Walk-In
May 17 (Bump Day) 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4, 4A, 6, 7, 9, 10, 10A, 10 Walk-In
May 20 (500 Festival Community Day) 2, 6, 10, 10A
May 21 (Firestone Freedom 100 Qual.) 2, 3, 4, 4A, 7, 10, 10A, 10 Walk-In
May 22 (Miller Lite Carb Day) 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4, 4A, 6, 7, 9, 10, 10A, 10 Walk-In
May 23 (Drivers' Meeting) 2
May 24 (Race Day) All gates open
More ...
Race Fans Caution - Swine flu, Richmond safe (So far)  The swine flu outbreak has caused Henrico County Health Department officials to advise race fans to take precautions when attending events this weekend at Richmond International Raceway. "There is no reason for fans not to attend and enjoy the events this weekend," said acting Health Director Dr. Robert B. Stroube. "However, as with any large public event, there is a risk of spreading viruses, but there are very simple yet effective precautions you can take to avoid exposure." People who are sick, experiencing flu-like symptoms or have a fever should stay home. Other precautions include frequent hand washing and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing. There are no confirmed cases of swine flu reported in the state, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Richmond Times Dispatch
track news
Colorado House OKs incentives for NASCAR track  Colorado took a big step closer to being able to attract a NASCAR racetrack when the House approved a legislative proposal Wednesday that would allow the first-ever state-funded package of incentives geared toward attracting major tourism projects.

Senate Bill 173 won final approval on a 46-19 vote one day after extensive floor debate over whether it was an economic-development tool or corporate welfare. Twenty-three Republicans and 23 Democrats backed the measure, while 15 Democrats and four Republicans opposed it.

The proposal allows city and county governments to enter into agreements with the Colorado Economic Development Commission to set up special enterprise zones around potential locations for tourism-generating projects. More ...

NASCAR crew member suspended  Wesley Lane, a crew member for the No. 90 team in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, has been suspended from the next six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events and all NASCAR activity until July 1 for rule violations at Kansas Speedway.

Lane was found to be in violation of Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 3-5 (permitting someone else to use your NASCAR License). Lane has also been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Furious Ferrari casts eyes at Le Mans
  • Haug reveals 30 per cent pay cut
  • Hartley finally granted F1 license
  • Richards undecided over F1 team identity
  • Another diffuser step in works for Force India
  • Peter Sauber queries new FIA rules

Furious Ferrari casts eyes at Le Mans
(GMM)  Not since Ferrari built but never raced an IndyCar in the 1980s has the Italian marque's relationship with the FIA been at such a low point.

The 637 single seater was the team's tangible threat to the governing body that its stance over V12 engines could realistically result in withdrawal from formula one.

This time, the threat is Le Mans, with Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali to attend and president Luca di Montezemolo to give the official start signal at the prestigious 24 hour sports car race in June.

"Le Mans is synonymous with technologically-advanced sporting competition and has always been a focus of great attention on our part," he said.

Ferrari's anger, now revealed with a spate of letters between Montezemolo and Max Mosley this week, is about the 40m pounds sterling voluntary budget cap for 2010.

Montezemolo's opposition to the plan is well known, but in one letter he referred to "Ferrari's guaranteed rights" not being adhered to.

It is believed he is referring to a power of veto granted to Ferrari when it committed to formula one over a breakaway championship four years ago.

In a letter of reply, Mosley hit back: "I do not accept that these regulations compromise any commitment that has been given to Ferrari, unless Ferrari would somehow argue that they are entitled to prevent new competitors from emerging at a time when the sport itself is in danger and new competitors are so badly needed." More ...

IndyCar testing at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama  
IndyCar Kansas Highlight video  
Tesla Model S in NY City  UPDATE

04/30/09 The Tesla Model S sedan will be on display in NY City Friday, May 1 (noon to 9 p.m.) at The Plaza Hotel, 5th Avenue at Central Park South, New York, NY 10019.

This is a rare opportunity for the general public to get up close and personal with the Model S, the all-electric family sedan that carries up to seven people and travels up to 300 miles per charge. The car is slated for release as a 2011 model.  See Feature Article on Tesla Model S.
racing news
Jacques Villeneuve and ICAR for new driving school  Jacques Villeneuve and ICAR are proud to announce a new strategic partnership. Together, they are launching the Jacques Villeneuve Academy.

“Setting up my own, high-performance driving school is a great opportunity to give back to racing, mentions Jacques Villeneuve. I chose ICAR because of its ultramodern infrastructures and because their vision and their values perfectly aligned with my own. Along with ICAR, my goal is to transmit my passion for racing and to increase the quality of experience for all the racing fans from around the world, whether they are beginners or experienced professionals. The Jacques Villeneuve Academy will offer a wide range of programs and packages for all budgets. From novice race driving programs to advanced high-performance driving courses as well as advanced defensive driving “Roadsafe” programs.” More ...

Honda saved the day  Where would IndyCar and ALMS be today without Honda? Both series would be in trouble at this point if Honda had not stepped in. Kind of makes you wonder where they would be right now if they only cared about NASCAR like other companies. Doug B.
Force India to introduce update diffuser  Force India will introduce an improved version of the interim diffuser and some further aero upgrades in the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix next month, team chairman Vijay Mallya said.  After the much-debated diffuser used by Brawn, Williams and Toyota got the clearance from FIA, Force India too jumped on the bandwagon and got a prototype double diffuser onto the VJM02 cars for Bahrain Grand Prix.

The updates did make a difference as Giancarlo Fisichella finished 15th, followed by teammate Adrian Sutil after both had risen to top 10 at some stages.

“We have another update coming in Barcelona, more particularly an improved version of this interim diffuser, and some further aero upgrades,” Mallya, who is in South Africa for the Indian Premier League, said. More ...

Hartley named Red Bull backup driver  Young New Zealand driver Brendon Hartley will be the back up driver for Red Bull at next weekend's Spanish Formula One Grand Prix in Barcelona.

Hartley's New Zealand-based manager PJ Johnson has confirmed the Palmerston North 19-year-old has been granted his F1 Super licence. He says they had to go through a process, which was carried out properly, and the license was granted last night.

Johnson says it means Hartley can now drive in a Formula One race, should one of the leading drivers be sick or crash.
Talladega TV ratings tank  UPDATE NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing posted a 5.0/12 (8.1 million viewers) on Sunday for the race from Talladega. Though that's down -12% from last year's 5.7/13 for the same race, Sunday's telecast was the top-rated event of the weekend, and was FOX's highest-rated and most-watched NASCAR event in nearly two months. Sunday's race opened with a 4.4/12 (6.9 million viewers), and grew steadily throughout the race peaking at a 6.6/15 (10.8 mill). Season-to-date, NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing on FOX is averaging a 5.5/11 (9.2 million viewers), down -13% from last year's 6.3/13, but remains the highest-rated and most-watched sport in season.

04/27/09 NASCAR on Fox earned a 4.5/11 Sunday for racing from Talladega, FOX's best NASCAR overnight in seven weeks but also -13% lower than last year's 5.2/11 for the same race. In the overnights the Talladega race tied with ABC's Cavaliers-Pistons game as the highest-rated event of the weekend. The race rated a 4.1/10 at green flag, which is just -7% off last year's initial tune-in (4.4/10). Yesterday's exciting race peaked at a 5.8/13 at 5:30. That's -11% lower than last year's peak of a 6.5/14. Season-to-date, NASCAR's 4.9/10 average in the metered markets trails last year's 5.7/11 by -14%.
Chrysler to get up to $8B from govt for bankruptcy  UPDATE Chrysler LLC filed for bankruptcy protection Thursday afternoon and announced it has reached a partnership agreement with Italian automaker Fiat SpA.  The filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York is an effort to quickly wipe clean Chrysler's balance sheet, backed with $8 billion in U.S. government financing, in the hopes that the company will emerge in 30 to 60 days.

The White House forced the move Thursday after talks between the Treasury Department and some of the Auburn Hills automaker's creditors failed to reach an agreement.

"It will be efficient. It's designed to deal with those last few holdouts, and it will be controlled," President Barack Obama said in a 12-minute address from the White House. "It will not disrupt the lives of the people who work at Chrysler or live in communities that depend on it. ... I have every confidence that Chrysler will emerge from this process stronger and more competitive."

Under the plan the administration outlined Thursday, the Treasury Department will provide Chrysler with up to $3.5 billion in debtor-in-possession financing, and the Canadian and Ontario governments will provide around $800 million and get 2 percent of Chrysler's equity.

04/30/09 Chrysler will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York on Thursday and will be eligible for up to $8 billion in federal aid to rebuild the ailing automaker, according to senior administration officials.  The officials say bankruptcy is necessary after talks with some of Chrysler's holdout creditors over the company's $6.9 billion in debt fell apart last night.
track news
Dog day afternoon: DIS starts renovation  
Robin Braig climbed into the cockpit of a giant backhoe, then used the large, metal claw to take a bite out of the old Daytona Beach Kennel Club Wednesday morning.

The 60-year-old clubhouse will be completely demolished in the next few weeks as Daytona International Speedway begins the transformation of the blighted property into a park-like addition to the track.

"Not only is this property a wonderful gateway statement to our community but we'll match it up to Daytona Live!; the vegetation, trees, the whole theme will match Daytona Live!," said Braig, the Speedway's president.

"We're going to demolish this building, add some tram stops here and move the grandstand gates out."  More ...

Danica Patrick on TIME 100 most influential list  IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick checks in at No. 93 on the list of the TIME 100: The world’s most influential people.

There were 208 nominees in the online poll.

Patrick received more votes than Oprah Winfrey, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, TV talk show host Bill O’Reilly, New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and CBS News anchor Katie Couric, among others.

“I’m humbled and honored to be on the list with so many other amazing people,” Patrick said. “I’m grateful to have wonderful people around me that keep me grounded and in the moment. I know I don’t say it often enough, but thank you for helping me achieve my goals and dreams while allowing me to be myself in the fast-paced lifestyle I lead.” More ...

IRL penalizes Jim Guthrie, Sean Guthrie for actions at Kansas Speedway  The Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body for Firestone Indy Lights, indefinitely suspended driver Sean Guthrie and Guthrie Meyer Racing co-owner Jim Guthrie for their actions during the Kansas Lottery 100 on April 26.

Sean Guthrie, driver of the No. 4 Guthrie Meyer Racing Firestone Indy Lights entry, was penalized for failing to follow the direction of Officials, failing to slow down under yellow conditions and failing to follow the direction of safety personnel in an accident scene.

His actions were in violation of multiple rules regarding safety of participants and caution periods as listed in the Firestone Indy Lights Rule Book. More ...

Firestone Indy Lights Open Test slated for May 5 at Indianapolis  Charlie Kimball has competed on some of the most famed circuits in the world as he worked his way up the racing ladder. Soon he’ll run his first laps on the world’s most famous oval – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“It’s hallowed ground,” Kimball said. “It’s just like the Monaco Grand Prix or Le Mans. It’s definitely one of the most famous and important racetracks in the world. It’s a very special place. I grew up watching the Indy 500 on TV, and my family has a heritage there with my dad (Gordon Kimball) winning the race a few times as an engineer. I’m excited to drive there.”

Though the Firestone Freedom 100 won’t take place until May 22, teams will get their first look at the Speedway during an Open Test from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. May 5 on the famed 2.5-mile oval. More ...

B-25 bombers to salute disabled veterans with Indy 500 flyover  Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the non-profit organization dedicated to helping wounded veterans, will be honored by a special flyover of two vintage B-25 Mitchell bombers at the 2009 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 24.

The B-25s, named Special Delivery and Take Off Time, are fully restored, World War II-era aircraft. These warbirds will twice pass over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the National Anthem before the beginning of the race.

"The DAV is honored by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's decision to use the world's most prestigious auto race as an opportunity to turn the national spotlight on our wounded veterans," said DAV National Commander Raymond E. Dempsey. "It still amazes me to think about the brave men who flew these awesome aircraft into battle." More ...

Patr¢n team and IMSA trade barbs over protest  Patr¢n Highcroft Racing is appreciative to IMSA for the efforts applied to the post-event examination of the penalty received by the team during the recent Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series event at Long Beach.

Our team's efforts to clarify the penalty were in no way meant to tarnish the victory by our sister Acura team at de Ferran Motorsport.  We wish to congratulate them on their win and look forward to continuing our battle for the LMP1 championship at Salt Lake City.

In reply to the IMSA statement, Patr¢n Highcroft Racing would like to point out: More ...

Fisher lands another sponsor  UPDATE #2 Still more......The winning car of Ray Keech in 1929 was owned by Mrs. Maude Yagle.  The second-place finishing car in 1953 (Art Cross) was owned by Bessie Lee Paoli.  And there were more!

04/30/09 CORRECTION: Mari George was the first lady to own an Indy car at the speedway, the 2nd was the person Steve Chassey drove for in 1987 - Lydia Laughery

04/30/09 IndyCar Driver and team owner Sarah Fisher has secured her second major sponsorship in a week with the backing of Direct Supply.

Fisher, and her Sarah Fisher Racing (SFR) team, will be sponsored by the Milwaukee-headquartered company during all her races this year. The deal provides additional finances for SFR, with the team's major backing or 2009 coming from Dollar General. Direct Supply's investment is believed to be in the region of US$900,000 for 1 year.

"Direct Supply is proud to be involved with IndyCar racing as a part of our long history with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said Bob Hillis, Direct Supply chief executive. "We are especially proud to be sponsoring Sarah Fisher, who our whole company has rallied around as the first woman-owned team in Speedway history. Sarah is such a warm-hearted, caring person, and has captured the hearts of all of the Direct Supply Partners and so many racing fans around the country."

Fisher added: "I'm so honored to welcome Bob Hillis and Direct Supply back at SFR in 2009. Although everyone at Direct Supply and the Hillis family don't share our surname, they're all family to us and mean a great deal to the team. Direct Supply joined SFR at a time when things were very difficult for us and for that, I'm forever grateful."

Man who killed NHL Racing crewmember pleads guilty  An Indianapolis man has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of a Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Indy Car Series crew member who suffered a stroke after a bar fight last year.

James P. Bracken, 30, entered his guilty plea Tuesday in Marion Superior Court and faces six to 20 years in prison at sentencing next month, shortly before the Indianapolis 500. In the lead-up to last year's race, Bracken attacked David "Davey" Evans, 63, outside a bar May 4 after the two had argued inside over Bracken's girlfriend.

Witnesses told police that Bracken kicked Evans in the head, sending him to the floor of a deck, according to a probable cause affidavit. The incident happened at Casablanca, a bar and restaurant in the 5800 block of Rockville Road. More ...

More KERS boost in 2010 for cost-capped teams  (GMM)  Another technical advantage to be enjoyed by cost-capped formula one teams next year will be double the KERS power boost.

Close followers of the world championship were spending their Thursday afternoon poring over the newly published 2010 technical regulations, featuring basically unchanged rules for teams not wanting to curb their spending.

Those willing to be limited to 40 million pounds sterling, however, will benefit from non rev-limited engines, unlimited testing and moveable wings.

It also emerged that they will be allowed to use KERS systems outputting 120 kilowatts, while the free-spending teams are limited to just 60kw.

Williams and McLaren on Thursday responded to the FIA's confirmation of the 40m voluntary budget cap, while Ferrari did not want to comment.

"We would like to see all the teams operating to one set of regulations and under a budget cap in 2010 and that is the position we will be advocating within FOTA when we meet next week," said Sir Frank Williams.

McLaren agreed that a "two-tier" system is not desirable.

"We believe that the optimal solution – which may or may not include a budget cap, but which ideally would not encompass a two-tier regulatory framework – is most likely to be arrived at via measured negotiation between all parties," said Martin Whitmarsh.

Actor Josh Duhamel to drive Chevrolet Camaro Pace Car  Emmy Award-winning actor Josh Duhamel will drive the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro Pace Car at the 2009 Indianapolis 500, leading the field of 33 drivers to the green flag Sunday, May 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Duhamel has starred in motion pictures and television since his breakthrough role as Leo du Pres on the ABC daytime drama "All My Children" from 1999-2002. He is set to reprise his role as U.S. Army Major Lennox in Michael Bay's upcoming action spectacular "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Steven Spielberg is an executive producer on the film, which is set for nationwide release June 24. The film also stars Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Tyrese Gibson and John Turturro.

"The Indy 500 is a legendary race, and it's a great honor to be driving the Camaro Pace Car in it," said Duhamel. More ...

Frank Williams wants FOTA to accept budget caps across board  The Williams F1 team acknowledged the FIA World Motor Sport Council decision to introduce a budget cap for 2010 at its meeting on 29 April 2009.

Team boss Frank Williams said, “Williams has supported the introduction of a budget cap since the idea was first put forward early in 2008. Since then FOTA has made tremendous steps forward on costs but the rationale for a budget cap has also grown even stronger. We would like to see all the teams operating to one set of regulations and under a budget cap in 2010 and that is the position we will be advocating within FOTA when we meet next week. We understand that this will represent a serious challenge for some of the teams but we expect that FOTA will work together to find a unified and constructive way to take the FIA’s initiative forward.”
Refueling, tire warmers banned for 2010  "Refueling during a F1 race will be forbidden in order to save the costs of transporting refueling equipment and increase the incentive for engine builders to improve fuel economy (to save weight)," an FIA statement read today.

"Tire blankets will be banned and that the ban on other tire-heating devices will be maintained."

The WMSC stated that the amended 2010 Sporting and Technical regulations will be available shortly.

Refueling was re-introduced to the sport in 1994 after being originally banned a decade earlier.

FIA raises car-driver weight for 2010  (GMM)  The minimum car-plus-driver weight in formula one next year will increase.

The FIA has apparently responded to calls to raise the limit, following complaints that the sport is becoming a "jockey's competition" due to the addition of heavy KERS packages.

Most drivers endeavored to shed kilograms over the winter period, as they mused the addition of up to 40kg in the form of the new energy re-use technology, but no corresponding increase in the minimum weight of 605kg.

The governing FIA on Thursday published the 2010 technical regulations, showing an increase in the weight from 605 to 620kg.

FIA raises budget cap figure to 40m  (GMM)  The figure for a voluntary budget cap in formula one next year has been increased by 10 million pounds sterling to 40m.

Announced on Thursday, it was ratified by the World Motor Sport Council in Paris a day earlier, while at the same time the maximum number of teams was increased by 1 to 13 for 2010.

As the global recession bites, Formula One Management has also offered a US $10m welcome payment for new teams, plus the promise of free chassis transportation and 20 air tickets for flyaway races.

Moreover, existing manufacturer-backed teams are being enticed to join the budget capping with the exclusion of engine costs.  Marketing and driver costs will also not be included in the cap, the FIA confirmed in a statement.

An entry list for 2010, potentially featuring a full grid of 26 cars, will be published by the Paris body in June.

The big teams do not have to sign up for the cap, but their engines will be rev-limited, the test ban will continue to apply for them, and their cars will not be allowed to feature moveable wings.

"The FIA believes that cost capping will prove attractive, and it hopes that over time all teams will join," the FIA said.

"So far, interest has been extraordinarily high from both existing teams and potential new entrants."

Paul Page rejoins IMS Radio network for the Indy 500  In 1973 the biggest moment of my life occurred. I was invited to join the IMS Radio network. Well it has happened again! As many of you know I love radio. Well today I was asked to be a part of the radio broadcast of the Indianapolis 500. I’m very pleased with that and wanted to share it with all of you first. It’s a good thing there are no events in the NHRA deal that conflict.

A special thanks to Mike King who had this idea and got it done. Paul Page

Formula One Cost Cap Q&A  
Why does Formula One need cost capping?

Formula One faces a period of great uncertainty during this harsh recessionary period.  Funding a team is increasingly seen as a discretionary spend for the majority of team owners and sponsors.  To ensure a healthy grid all are agreed that costs need to be cut.

Two main philosophies have emerged, either i) reduce activity levels through very restrictive technical rules, plus a degree of standardization if required; or ii) restrict the money that  teams are allowed to spend (cost capping).

The FIA believes that unfettered technical competition is part of Formula One’s DNA, and would like to see this flourish, but in an environment of strong, responsible and innovative management, not a spending race.  For these reasons cost capping is preferred.

What is covered by the cost cap? More ...
Q & A with Sam Michaels  It's been a busy start to the season for all of the teams with four races in just six weeks. Following AT&T Williams' return to Europe, we catch up with Technical Director, Sam Michael, for an update on the season so far.

Has FW31 lived up to your pre-season expectations?
"It’s been quite quick in the opening few races, but we haven’t delivered in terms of points and that’s been very frustrating. Our rivals are catching up quickly and it will be difficult to maintain a development edge over them during the year, but that’s our job and we’ll keep pushing."

What problems have kept the team out of the points?
"We’ve made a few mistakes. In Australia we had a problem with a wheel nut, which cost Nico about 10 seconds, in Malaysia we didn’t switch to intermediate tires at the right time and in China we made the wrong strategic call with Nico when we brought him in during the first Safety Car period." More ...

Danica's IndyCar stolen - No, PR Stunt  UPDATE #3 Indy Racing League driver Danica Patrick is ready for take off. Patrick will be unveiling her new Motorola sponsored Indy car at the Indianapolis International Airport May 1. The car will have a new look for the Indianapolis 500.

Patrick, who appears on the cover of the May issue of Shape magazine, is set to drive the car out of one of the airport hangars and give it a rip down one of the runways. The event is to kick-off the month of May at the Speedway. Naturally it’s meant to be a big plug for her Andretti Green Racing team and sponsor Motorola, but there’s another benefactor.

The Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association has been clamoring to get the word out about the city’s new $1.1 billion airport. “It’s a critical asset we have here, and we want to communicate that to those in the tourism and convention business,” said ICVA spokesman Bill Benner.

Motorola officials said the airport will be featured in the media event front and center. “Danica will be driving down the runway with the new terminal in the backdrop, along with airplanes taking off and landing,” said Juli Burda, Motorola spokeswoman. “We think it is a fun way to kick off preparation for the Indianapolis 500.” IBJ.com More ...
Tire test at IMS again interrupted by rain  Rain again disrupted a Goodyear test Wednesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but once the track dried shortly after noon, four NASCAR teams got in nearly six hours of tire testing.

The purpose of the one-day session, a continuation of last week's rain-plagued test, was to settle on the tire compound Goodyear will bring to a final test June 15-16. That session will involve about a dozen teams as Goodyear works to avoid the embarrassing problems that marred last year's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. This year's race is scheduled July 26. Indy Star

McLaren team neutered  The World Motorsport Council (WMSC) has commended the new McLaren regime for its "open and honest" approach to the authorities.

In a statement confirming the lenient punishment for the Woking-based team over the 'lying' scandal from the Australian grand prix that threatened to engulf Lewis Hamilton's season, the WMSC said it was impressed with the direction the team was taking under new principal Martin Whitmarsh.

Whitmarsh took sole control of the F1 arm of the British manufacturer when former chief Ron Dennis stepped back from the sport to concentrate on McLaren's sports car arm of the business.

And it seems the more direct and humble approach of Whitmarsh is already winning friends in the paddock.

"Having regard to the open and honest way in which McLaren team principal, Mr Martin Whitmarsh, addressed the WMSC and the change in culture which he made clear has taken place in his organisation, the WMSC decided to suspend the application of the penalty it deems appropriate," a statement released by the chairs of yesterday's meeting in Paris revealed. More ...
New poll up  We have added a new poll to our Home page about NASCAR safety fences.  Below are the results of our previous poll.

Lying Hamilton Poll
Should Lewis Hamilton be banned from F1 for lying about the Trulli incident in Oz?
Yes, for a year 20%
Yes, for 3 races 22%
Probation Only 26%
No 31%
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Bernie wants to cut team income, subsidize circuits
  • McLaren liars no longer with team - Mosley
  • Vettel waiting for Shanghai replica trophy
  • Webber tells Schu to give bike racing a miss
  • Ecclestone admits F1 needs a Beckham
  • Spanish F1 venue hits back at swine flu panic

Bernie wants to cut team income, subsidize circuits
(GMM)  F1 teams' lagging commitment to the sport could cost them millions in commercial income, Bernie Ecclestone has warned.

The Concorde Agreement expired at the end of 2007, resulting in a non-binding 'memorandum of understanding' now governing the terms of the teams' income from commercial rights.

"They want to be paid in the same manner as if they had agreed to be committed for five years but they don't want to be committed," Ecclestone, representing F1's owners, is quoted as saying by the Financial Times.

Should their lack of commitment continue, Ecclestone says he will use some of the teams' commercial income to subsidize the race fees paid by circuit operators.

Interestingly, the FT report coincided with reports that the 78-year-old billionaire may have bought the rights to the 2010 British grand prix from the struggling Donington leaseholder Simon Gillett.

The publication said Ecclestone does not rule out acquiring more circuits in the event that he pays the teams less.

Referring to F1's teams, Ecclestone added: "They shouldn't get the prize money.  We are now running more of a cash-on-delivery service.  You sign the contract and we will pay you in full."

For a new Concorde, he said teams want the freedom to leave F1 at their leisure but still be paid at the current higher rate.

Ecclestone said "we should revert back to the deal we originally had - 47 per cent of the television rights – and they can go where they like.  We should be paying a lot less to the teams and charging the circuits a lot less". More ...

A1GP drivers tour London landmarks  
London played host to A1GP World Cup of Motorsport drivers Wednesday as they were given a tour of the Capital’s most iconic sights in the build up to this weekend’s A1GP season finale at Brands Hatch, Great Britain, 1- 3 May on a Big Bus Tours open top bus.

Boarding the bus in the heart of the City, the first destination was Piccadilly Circus. This junction, at the centre of London’s West End theatre district, is well known for both its bright video displays and neon signs high up on the buildings on its northern side, and the statue of Eros the archer in its centre. Next stop was Trafalgar Square, with Nelson's Column towering at the centre guarded by four lion statues at its base. A well-known tourist attraction, the statue commemorates the British naval victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

The drivers were then taken to the Houses of Parliament (or Westminster Palace). This is where the two Houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (the House of Lords and the House of Commons) meet and is situated on the north bank of the River Thames close to the government buildings of Whitehall. At the north-eastern end is the most famous of its several towers, the Clock Tower, more commonly known as Big Ben after its main bell which strikes every hour. More ...

Eight fans injured in Edwards wreck  A teenager from the Shoals area was among the spectators injured in a crash at the Talladega Superspeedway. Blake Bobbitt, 17, of Rogersville, was one of seven NASCAR fans injured when Carl Edwards' car went into the safety fence on the final lap of the Aaron's 499 at Talladega on Sunday. WHNT News 19 spoke exclusively with Bobbitt's father, who is grateful that his daughter is still alive.

Terry Bobbitt owns the Minnow Bucket convenience store in Rogersville. He works long hours and does not get many days off. He saw Sunday as the perfect opportunity to take a break, have a good time and escort his teenage daughter to Talladega. "It was her first trip," says Bobbitt. Bobbitt and his daughter, Blake, landed seats on the second row. It was an exciting race. However, as it neared the end, the fun came to a crashing halt. "Basically, it was headed to us," says Bobbitt.

Carl Edwards' race car flipped into another car and slammed into the metal safety fence - only a few feet from stunned and scared spectators. Metal debris flew everywhere. Terry and Blake took cover, but it wasn't quick enough. "When it actually happened, I turned and I pointed to her to make sure she saw the car that was coming in the air," says Bobbitt. "All in that same motion, I grabbed her and it took her down. I didn't know she'd been hit at all until we got up." A piece of metal broke Blake's jaw. Emergency responders rushed her to UAB Hospital. Doctors performed reconstructive surgery and had to insert two plates into her jaw. As a result, her mouth will be wired shut for the next six weeks.

Blake Bobbitt attends Lauderdale County High School. Her 18th birthday and graduation are both within the next month. Her parents say it's bad timing, but still a big blessing. Terry says it's a miracle that Blake wasn't hurt worse. "She's alive. I'm alive," says Bobbitt. "That's the main thing. We had a guardian angel over us, no doubt." Terry Bobbitt and his wife both say that the community has been extremely supportive. Beyond that, Carl Edwards even called the hospital to check on Blake after the surgery. Terry says they're expecting doctors to release Blake from the hospital on Wednesday. whnt.com
Jimmy Reece died at Trenton Speedway in 1958  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, This might sound a little ghoulish but I am attempting to find information on race fatalities at the old Trenton Speedway.  There is one in particular as I was a witness to it.  All that I can remember is that it was a USAC race in the very late 50's or before 1960.  On the last lap of the race, I was riding my bicycle around the outside of the track in the parking lot between turns 1 and 2 heading home when a car came through the guardrail.  The car tumbled and rolled, breaking into 3 parts only held together by the fuel line and stopped no more than 10 feet from me.  The driver was dead.  The reason I'm asking is due to my finding a picture taken sometime before the race.  The shirt that I am wearing in the picture was the same one I wore when I went to the speedway and had blood splattered on the front from the crash. I did not know about the blood on my shirt until one of the first aid guys ran over to me thinking I had been hit by flying debris, while the rest were helping to get the driver out of the car. Thank You, Leon Reisner

Jimmy Reece
Dear Leon, Jimmy Reece absolutely refused to run high banks ("The Hills" as they were called) at Salem Speedway  He said it was too dangerous and called it the "Idiot Circuit." 

Ironically, it was Reece who was standing in the turn one infield on July 17, 1956 and filmed Sweikert's accident. Tragically, Reece would lose his life on the last lap of the 100 Mile USAC National Championship race at Trenton Speedway on September 28, 1958. His Bowes Seal Fast 14 Kurtis-Kraft flew end over end out of Trenton, broke in half on impact, and Jimmy Reece was dead.  Mark C.

These were the painful realities of not only Salem Speedway but of auto racing in the 1950s.

Q & A with Team 3G's Stanton Barrett  
Stanton Barrett
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have several guests joining us this afternoon as we prepare to open practice for the Indianapolis 500. Joining us in a few minutes will be appeal Tracy and Scott Sharp. With us to start the call is Stanton Barrett. Good afternoon, Stanton.

STANTON BARRETT: Good afternoon.

MODERATOR: Stanton is a rookie in the IndyCar Series and will be making his Indianapolis 500 debut. However, he's a veteran of almost 200 starts in NASCAR between the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series.

Stanton, let's talk about the transition to the IndyCar Series so far. Tell us about how things have been going and what are some of the biggest adjustments you've had to make?

STANTON BARRETT: Things are a little bit trying. We're just having to work extremely hard to get to the track each week. The economy hasn't been that great. Some of our sponsors that we had signed up last year and potentials kind of fell by the wayside. Supporters we have have been very supportive, but it's been difficult to get to the track. We haven't got to test this year, except for Homestead. You know, all things considered, I'm pretty happy with what we're doing. It would be nice to have a second car to help us with data and just get more information a little bit more quickly so we can get closer to the curve. More ...

Indy 500 Program price raised to $12, contains many extras  The Official Program for the 2009 Indianapolis 500, the largest and most comprehensive ever produced for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," celebrates 100 years of competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and will be available for purchase Friday, May 1.

The Centennial Era Edition program consists of 260 pages, including a special Centennial Era section of 100 pages.

Fans can purchase this commemorative program for $12 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, at the Brickyard Authentics store at the Indianapolis International Airport, online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com or by calling (800) 955-INDY. More ...

Q & A with Scott Sharp  
Scott Sharp
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we're joined now by Scott Sharp. Good to have you back with us. Appreciate you taking the time.

SCOTT SHARP: No problem. Good to be on.

MODERATOR: Scott is returning to the Indianapolis 500 in the No. 16 Tequila Patron Panther Racing entry. This will be Scott's 14th Indianapolis 500. He has five top-10 finishes in the race, including his last three in a row from 2005 through 2007 with a career best sixth-place finish in 2007. He also won the pole in 2001. Scott is the IndyCar Series career leader with 146 starts from 1996 through 2007.

Scott, welcome back to the IndyCar Series. Tell us about the decision to come back and compete in the Indy 500, joining a team like Panther Racing that's had success there as well.

SCOTT SHARP: Yeah, obviously very excited to be able to get back for the race. Certainly to be having all the support of Tequila Patron, and Muscle Milk is another one of our sponsors, and to be able to come do it with Panther. We talked a few different times in the past. They had a great run last May obviously, had a really good Indy month. So I'm super excited. I think it's probably the best opportunity I've had coming to May. I can't wait to get on track next week. More ...

Q & A with Paul Tracy  
Paul Tracy
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we're joined by Paul Tracy. Thanks for joining us, Paul.


MODERATOR: Paul will be making his 2009 IndyCar Series debut in the Indianapolis 500, driving the No. 15 GEICO/KV Racing Technology car. Paul has made five starts in the Indianapolis 500 with a best finish of second in his last start, which came in 2002.

Paul, you got into an IndyCar Series car last summer at Edmonton. Obviously you were quick right off the bat, finishing fourth in the race. Do you have any concerns now about getting back into the rhythm and being quick at Indy? More ...

Edwards to compete in the 2009 Montreal NAPA 200  Carl Edwards, one of the most exciting and favored drivers on the NASCAR circuit announced today that he would compete in the NASCAR Nationwide Series NAPA Auto Parts 200, presented by Dodge on August 30, 2009. A fan favorite from the Missouri heartland hometown of Columbia, Edwards will make his third Nationwide visit to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. On the Wednesday prior to the 2007 inaugural NAPA Auto Parts 200, Edwards charmed both the press and the fans when he toured the city's media outlets with Patrick Carpentier. Following his day of work, Carl, who is one of the fittest drivers in the sport, cycled his way through the streets of Old Montreal as part of his daily cardio training.

"Carl is one of the NASCAR stars that did not wait for our event to become a tradition to take part in the race," said François Dumontier, promoter and spokesperson for Stock-Car Montreal. "He showed his enthusiasm from the start, and even though he had a tough day on the track, he quickly became one of the Montreal crowd's favorites. Last year, he proved he had learned of lot from his first experience on circuit Gilles Villeneuve as he came home in sixth place. This year, our fans can reasonably hope to see him do one of his celebratory backflips from his car." More ...

track news
SMI progresses with Phase 1 of Kentucky Speedway upgrades  Speedway Motorsports, Inc., continues to progress through an opening  wave of approximately $13.5 million in Kentucky Speedway facility enhancements which will expand parking, establish infield camping, augment track access roads and enhance the overall guest experience with new entrance areas along with a new restroom/ bathhouse facility.

“Kentucky Speedway is great and we’re making a lot of improvements for the fans.  One area in which we’ll see growth is infield camping. You’ll also see better parking and access roads. The fans want it and we have to give the fans what they want. That’s part of our motto,” Speedway Motorsports, Inc., Chairman Bruton Smith said.

Kentucky race fans will get their first glimpse of the enhancements May 9 when the speedway opens its four-weekend, six-race season with the ARCA RE/MAX Series “Drive Smart. Buckle-Up! Kentucky 150” featuring ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” cast member and country music artist Chuck Wicks in concert. More ...
Jim Russell school announces new Karting Director  The Jim Russell Racing Drivers School announces the addition of Frank Bain as International Karting Center manager. Jim Russell created the racing school industry more than 50 years ago and since then, the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School has been the leader of innovation and quality instruction for professional drivers and thrill seekers alike. The Jim Russell International Karting Center, situated in Sonoma’s beautiful wine country at Infineon Raceway, offers one of the world’s premier karting facilities. More ...
Di Montezemolo to give start signal at LeMans  The 77th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race is to have a high profile guest starter. At 15.00 on June 13th next, in fact, Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo will give the official start signal for the most prestigious endurance race in the motor racing world.

Mr. Montezemolo was invited to Le Mans by Automobile Club de l’Ouest President Jean-Claude Plassart to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first of Maranello’s nine overall 24 Hour Race victories, which came courtesy of the 166 MM of Luigi Chinetti and Lord Selsdon in 1949.

“I am delighted to be given the opportunity to start a race that has made motor racing history and has such strong links with Ferrari. Our Scuderia has delivered some unforgettable achievements on this circuit,” declared Montezemolo. “The Le Mans 24 Hour Race is synonymous with technologically-advanced sporting competition and has always been a focus of great attention on our part.” More ...

McLaren statement on outcome of WMSC hearing  This morning the FIA World Motor Sport Council met in Paris to discuss a number of subjects including issues related to events that took place at the Australian and Malaysian Grands Prix. The FIA World Motor Sport Council members heard from Martin Whitmarsh (Team Principal) and have issued the following statement:

"Having regard to the open and honest way in which McLaren Team Principal, Mr. Martin Whitmarsh, addressed the WMSC, and the change in culture which he made clear has taken place in his organization, the WMSC decided to suspend the application of the penalty it deems appropriate. The penalty is a suspension of the team from three races of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. This will only be applied if further facts emerge regarding the case or if, in the next 12 months, there is a further breach by the team of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code."

"McLaren accepts the FIA World Motor Sport Council's decision and wishes to thank the FIA World Motor Sport Council members for the very fair hearing they have given us this morning. More ...

Two teams withdraw from LeMans  The Vitaphone Racing Team has officialized its withdrawal, as it was unable to find an agreement with Porsche to run an RS Spyder in LM P2 in the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours. Thus, the German team will not be present at the compulsory free practice session on 10th June.
In compliance with the ACO regulations, the place left vacant by the withdrawal of the Porsche RS Spyder goes to the first reserve on the list of competitors invited, no matter what the category, in this case the no. 70 LM GT2 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of the French Imsa Performance Matmut team, which has already entered the no. 76 Porsche 911 in this category.

Another withdrawal concerns the Racing Box SRL team. It has decided to scratch its Lola-Judd coupe (LM P2), which was in seventh and last place on the reserve list. The Italian team will be concentrating all its efforts on its other Lola-Judd coupe (LM P2, no. 30), which is entered for practice.

There are still 5 cars on the reserve list. From 22nd May onwards, it will no longer be possible to bring in reserve cars to replace withdrawals.  NB: The Endurance China Team is now called the Asia Endurance Team (no. 75 LM GT2 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR).

tv news
Tesla Motors CEO calls NYT writer "a huge douche bag"  UPDATE #2 A reminder that Elon Musk, CEO Tesla Motors, will be a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman tonight, Wednesday, April 29.  And here is an article in today's LA Times about their latest prototype.

04/26/09 Elon Musk, CEO Tesla Motors, will be a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman on Wednesday night, April 29.  The Late Show with David Letterman airs at 11:30 pm ET/PT on CBS.

Elon Musk, CEO Tesla Motors
In an interview with Yahoo! Tech Ticker's Sarah Lacy, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was asked what he thought of an earlier New York Times piece that voiced opposition to a government loan for the electric car maker. With a huge smile indicating his delight in the opportunity to speak about the issue, Mr. Musk said, "Randy Stross is a huge douche bag". After a brief pause he added, "...and an idiot." Take that, Mr. Fancy Pants reporter guy!

Elon went on to explain exactly how the writer in question cherry-picked from the facts to make his case for DOE loan denial and vigorously defended the Tesla business model. In the interesting conversation that followed the opening barrage, it was very interesting to note the certitude expressed by Elon that Tesla Motors would receive the low interest loan requested from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program. Noting that his company is a "perfect fit" for ATVM funds, he states, "The odds of us getting that money ($350 million) are 99 per cent..." and alluding to assurances given in private meetings, suggested it was coming and coming soon.
F1 proceeding with budget capping - Mosley  (GMM)  Formula one will proceed with budget capping to be introduced next year, Max Mosley said after a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on Wednesday.

The FIA meeting was called for the McLaren 'lie-gate' affair, but the president of the Paris body took the opportunity also to put to the council his push to see spending limited as early as 2010.

His originally proposed rule was for a two-tiered system, with some (small) teams capped at 33m euros but given more technical freedoms, while more technically-limited (big) teams are free to keep spending.

"It's a little bit more than 30 million (now) but we have been successful," Mosley said, hinting that the cap will apply to all 2010 entrants.

He told reporters in Paris that the detail will be published on Thursday.

As predicted, McLaren just gets their wrists slapped  (GMM)  McLaren on Wednesday escaped penalty after the World Motor Sport Council probed the 'lie-gate' affair in a Paris hearing.

With only an observing lawyer in tow, the British team's boss Martin Whitmarsh apologized and admitted to all five breaches of the international sporting code.

The FIA said it took Whitmarsh's "open and honest" approach into account, as well as the apparent "change in culture" within the Woking based organization.

As a result, the "appropriate" penalty of a three-race ban was suspended.

"This (penalty) will only be applied if further facts emerge regarding the case or if, in the next 12 months, there is a further breach by the team of article 151c of the international sporting code," read a statement.

Honda posts year-end profit  Honda Motor Co. ran up a $1.9 billion loss during the fourth quarter of the Japanese fiscal year because of lower revenues, higher raw materials costs and unfavorable currency trends. Honda managed, however, to show a $1.4 billion profit for the year ended on March 31 when it reported its full-year results Tuesday. Most of its Japanese rivals have forecast losses for the fourth quarter and for the year because of a global slump in vehicle sales that has pushed two of Detroit's automakers to the brink of bankruptcy. By comparison, Honda's results look good. But, in a sign of how tough the industry has become, its annual earnings amounted to less than a fourth of the previous year's profit.
Do you have what it takes to drive an F1 car?  Philips Consumer Lifestyle, Official Partner of the AT&T Williams team, is again giving away the chance to drive a recent AT&T Williams Formula One car in 2009.

Through the online Philips Driving Academy, one lucky winner will get to drive a Williams FW29 for five laps on a Grand Prix circuit following intensive training from the AT&T Williams team.

Following on from the success of last year’s competition, Philips is committed to getting people closer to Formula One and putting them in the driving seat – literally in this case. More ...

Government opens Ecclestone talks to save Brit GP  The British government has reportedly opened talks with Bernie Ecclestone in a bid to save the nation's grand prix from the threat of the scrapheap.

According to The Guardian, Business Secretary Peter Mandelson telephoned Ecclestone this week in the wake of the race's future being plunged into fresh uncertainty when it was announced that the company contracted to host the grand prix at Donington Park from 2010 was being sued.

'A meeting had been due to take place for weeks but the business secretary made his first formal contact by telephone on Monday. The government has grown alarmed at Ecclestone's claims he will scrap the British grand prix if Donington fails to make the grade,' the newspaper reports. More ...

McLaren apologize, hope to continue racing  McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh apologized in person to Formula One's governing body on Wednesday and hoped his team could move on from a lying controversy that has threatened their season.

Arriving in a silver Mercedes at the International Automobile Federation (FIA)'s imposing Place de la Concorde headquarters, Whitmarsh delivered a statement of apology and left after less than an hour inside.

"We've made mistakes, we've apologized to the FIA and the public," he told reporters. "We await the decision."

Asked whether this was the end of the affair, the Briton -- marking his 51st birthday in far from happy circumstances -- replied: "I very much hope so. " hope that this will draw a line and we can carry on racing."

The FIA's 26-member world motor sport council must now decide how big a price McLaren, already struggling on the racetrack, have to pay for lying to stewards at the season-opening race in Australia last month. Reuters

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Price of Brawn backing rising - Fry
  • Quitting F1 won't save Merc money - official
  • Reports of Donington's waning F1 hopes continue
  • No BMW 'option' on Vettel for 2011 - Horner
  • Teams rush to speed up diffuser development
  • Bernie not sure if Alonso-Ferrari deal done
  • Bernie likens F1 dispute to Jewish conflict
  • No KERS for Renault at next two races
  • Mallya does not fear Mercedes withdrawal

Price of Brawn backing rising - Fry
(GMM)  With every passing race and success, the price of sponsoring the Brawn team rises, chief executive Nick Fry has admitted.

It is reported that Sir Richard Branson wants to make an announcement about ramping up his Virgin brand's exposure at the forthcoming Spanish grand prix.

But it also emerges that the British billionaire is considering whether he wants to become the title or naming backer now that the cost has increased.

"All the potential sponsors ring up on a Monday morning and say, 'oh my god, the price has gone up again,'" Fry told London's Times newspaper.

"We've got between 20 and 25 companies talking to us either about sponsorship or some wanting to buy into the team.  Ross and I need to come to the correct decision, not the quick decision," he said.

It is therefore clear that it is Branson, and not team chiefs Fry and Ross Brawn, who is pushing the Barcelona schedule.

"We will talk again in Barcelona and let you know," the Virgin founder told reporters last weekend in Bahrain.

Fry acknowledged: "Richard has made an offer.  The issue for us is whether or not it is the best offer we can get." More ...

A1GP Mexico City Cancelled  A1GP World Cup of Motorsport has been forced to cancel round eight of the 2008/09 season, A1GP Mexico City, Mexico on 22-24 May after the recent outbreaks of swine flu and the advisory from the UK Foreign Office to cancel non essential travel to the country.

“To say we are disappointed to have to make this call is an understatement,” said A1GP Chairman, Tony Teixeira.  “When the news of the health problems broke last week we made sure we kept ourselves up to date with the latest information. It soon became obvious this was not an isolated health risk, and when the UK Foreign Office put out its advisory and the World Health Organization raised the level of influenza pandemic alert that was when we had to make our decision. We must have the safety of all members of the A1GP community as well as the thousands of loyal fans in Mexico City as our prime concern,” he added. More ...

Dollar General extension for Fisher worth $700K  
Length of contract: 1 year
Annualized value: US$700,000
Overall value: US$700,000

Dollar General has expanded its primary sponsorship of IndyCar Series driver and team owner Sarah Fisher.

Fisher, who founded her own team, Sarah Fisher Racing (SFR) last year, will compete in every 2009 IndyCar Series Superspeedway event after Dollar General confirmed it would back her at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (HMS) in addition to its existing commitment to support her at Kansas, Indianapolis, Kentucky and Chicago. The extra US$700,000 investment takes Dollar General's backing close to the US$2 million mark. More ...

track news
DIS not planning any safety changes  Robin Braig's heart skipped a beat when he watched Carl Edwards' No. 99 Ford go airborne and crash into the chain-link fence during Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Braig is president of Daytona International Speedway, which is configured much like its sister track in Alabama. Daytona will host the next NASCAR Sprint Cup Series restrictor-plate event, the Coke Zero 400, on July 4.

"When I watched it, I was terrified, as everybody else was," Braig said Monday, standing on Daytona's tri-oval.

"As Carl got out, and ran to the finish line, you knew he was fine, but your next thoughts are 'How did everybody do in the grandstands?' Until I heard everybody was good there, I didn't really exhale until I knew everybody was OK." More ...

Bahrain debrief with Toyota's Jarno Trulli  

Q: Were you happy with third place in the race?
Jarno Trulli: To be honest, I was disappointed because qualifying went so well and expectations were high that we could challenge for Toyota's first victory. I expected more than third place but it wasn't to be unfortunately, although I did set the fastest lap of the race which shows the potential of the car.

Q: Is that disappointment a sign of the progress the team has made?
JT: Absolutely. To be disappointed with third place makes such a difference compared to the previous few seasons. Last year my third place at Magny-Cours was a really special moment and the season before it was pretty much impossible to get near the podium so you can see that we have made a really big step this year. We have three podiums already from four races and that is the same number we had from the previous three seasons combined. More ...

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