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Final qualifying TV coverage for Indy Final qualifying TV coverage for IndyABC, ESPN and ESPN2 will provide a combined seven hours of live coverage of the final two days of qualifying for the 89th Indianapolis 500 this weekend from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The final 11 spots in the 33-car field for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" will be filled Saturday, May 21, while Bump Day Qualifications will be featured Sunday, May 22.

The schedule (all times Eastern Daylight):

Time, Network
1-2 p.m., ESPN2
5-6 p.m., ESPN

SUNDAY, May 22
Time, Network
1-3 p.m., ABC
5-7 p.m., ESPN2

Todd Harris will serve as host of the ABC telecast of qualifications, with two-time Indianapolis 500 runner-up Scott Goodyear providing analysis. Dr. Jerry Punch is host of the ESPN and ESPN2 coverage, with 2000 Indy 500 pole winner Greg Ray as the analyst.

ABC will televise the 89th Indianapolis 500 live with a pre-race show starting at noon (EDT) Sunday, May 29, with the race starting at 1 p.m. IRL

Kasemets paces 1st day in Monterrey Kasemets paces 1st day in MonterreyIt may be his first time racing in Monterrey, Mexico, but Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK ind./TMI/Redline Oil) certainly didn’t look like a newcomer to the challenging 2.104-mile Fundidora Park road circuit as he claimed the provisional pole for Sunday’s Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama event at the Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans.

The Estonian-born Kasemets led the morning practice session on the challenging and slippery 12-turn circuit and he followed it up by posting a quick lap of 1:27.967 (86.105 mph) on his 15th and final lap to earn a championship point and lock up a front row starting spot for Sunday’s 32-lap event – Round 2 of the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel - Saturday, May 28 at 2 p.m. ET).

The performance had to be particularly satisfying for Kasemets, the only driver in the 13-car Atlantic field this weekend that is not classified as a series rookie with seven starts under his belt. The Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis racer ran well in the season-opening race weekend in Long Beach but experienced mechanical problems early on in the race and was forced to retire after just 15 laps.

To the delight of the Mexican crowd in attendance on the hot and sunny afternoon in Monterrey, hometown racer David Martinez (#7 Roshfrans/Todito Card/Roca Acero/Madisa/Koviva) carded the second-fastest lap of the day with a time of 1:28.498 (85.588 mph). Martinez, who lives in Monterrey and raced on the Fundidora Park course in an Atlantic car in 2002, got up to speed quickly on Friday despite limited testing time with his US RaceTronics team over the last two weeks. He was also second on the scoring charts in the morning practice, but an oversight in qualifying nearly cost the team a strong opening-day result.

Martinez began the 30-minute afternoon qualifying session on practice tires, which is a violation of series rules. He ran the first six laps on the practice rubber before switching to qualifying tires. Series officials disallowed all times established on the practice tires but Martinez’ impressive times for the remainder of qualifying were permitted. In order guard against any potential competitive advantage that may have been gained by the team, officials have mandated that US RaceTronics must use the qualifying tires during the first six laps of Saturday’s practice session ensuring that the wear on the tires is equal for all series competitors.

Coming off a victory in Long Beach in her first Atlantic start, series point leader Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing) had a strong showing in her first experience racing in Monterrey. The 24-year-old native of the UK earned the third-fastest qualifying time of 1:28.864 (85.236 mph).

Finishing with the fourth-fastest lap of the afternoon was Legge’s Polestar Racing Group teammate Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design) who was clocked at 1:29.043 (85.065 mph). Condor Motorsports rookie driver Charles Zwolsman (#11 Condor Motorsports) rounded out the top five qualifiers on the day after posting a lap of 1:29.074 (85.035 mph). Toyota Atlantic

Pruett Takes Second-Consecutive Pole for 6 Heures Pruett Takes Second-Consecutive Pole for 6 HeuresThere’s something about Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant that brings out the best in defending Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett, as the veteran racer turned the fastest qualifying lap today at the historic road course and will start from the pole position for the second-consecutive year in Saturday’s Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant (SPEED Channel, Live, 11 a.m. ET)

While several names appeared at the top of the time chart during a dramatic qualifying session, Pruett once again managed to get the most out of his No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley to score the pole with a lap at 1:29.972 (106.033 mph). It was the team’s third pole position in five races this season and was the 14th pole in 17 races since the CompUSA squad joined the Rolex Series at the beginning of 2004. Last year at Mont-Tremblant, Pruett and then-co-driver Max Papis took the first Daytona Prototype victory for themselves, the Ganassi team and Lexus. It proved to be a catalyst for their championship-winning season, and Pruett hopes for a repeat win tomorrow with co-driver Luis Diaz.

“I’m just having a great time running the Daytona Prototypes,” said Pruett. “This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I guess it just goes to show that I can still teach these young guys a lesson or two every now and then. It’s great working for Chip (Ganassi) and the whole organization. The competition is tight, and you really have to put down a fast lap when you are limited to 15 minutes of qualifying. But I think we might have even left a bit on the table. I got slowed by traffic a few times toward the end, and then the car started to get loose and slide around. I’m totally confident in the guys for the race tomorrow. The CompUSA crew is known for solid, reliable pit stops and I can’t wait to go after it again.”

For the second-straight year, Max Angelelli will start alongside Pruett on the front row at Mont-Tremblant. Angelelli turned a best lap at 1:29.991 (106.011 mph) in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley, missing the pole by just a few hundredths of a second. Angelelli currently shares the Daytona Prototype points lead with co-driver Wayne Taylor, and heads into tomorrow looking for his and the team’s third victory of the season.

“It was pretty close,” said Angelelli of his qualifying run. “When it’s that close, it’s tough to digest. I definitely could do better. The car is good, I just could do better. When I look forward to the race, I have to be good enough for the race. If it’s a clear race, I think we will be there. Approaching a six-hour race, everybody needs to have patience, a lot of patience and wait, because the race is so long. I hope to be one of the people that has a lot of patience. I’m going to try that.”

Sponsor news from Portland Sponsor news from PortlandIntel – Intel will be providing a large tent during race weekend where fans can use wireless WiFi technology. Not only will you be able to test out some of the latest technology, you will be able to tap into the Race Director and conversation between driver and crew members

Chevron – Chevron will be featuring the “Pit crew wants you” contest in over 150 stores in Oregon and SW Washington. The winner of this prize gets a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with PKV racing for a day. Head to Chevron and enter-to-win!.
Hayden Talks MotoGP in the USA with NYC Media Hayden Talks MotoGP in the USA with NYC MediaOne of America’s brightest motorcycle stars returned home this week, as MotoGP rider Nicky Hayden took part in a whirlwind media tour of Manhattan on Wednesday and Thursday to promote the return of the MotoGP World Championship to the United States at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix July 8-10 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.

While the 2002 AMA U.S. Superbike Champion was only in the Big Apple for a little over 24 hours he put his time to good use meeting with several major U.S. media outlets, attending a New York City media screening of the acclaimed MotoGP documentary film “Faster” and even managing to keep to his fitness regimen with a run along the Hudson River near his Tribeca hotel.

“I’ve been to New York before, but I had never gotten to see this much of the city,” said the Owensboro, Ky. native who glimpsed the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero, as well as a quick visit to world famous Times Square.

But most of Hayden’s time was spent talking MotoGP to major national media outlets, giving them a first-hand account of the world’s fastest two-wheel sport and his enthusiasm for racing at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix this July.

“I’m just happy to help out,” said a modest Hayden.  “The people at Dorna (promoters of the MotoGP World Championship), Laguna Seca, Red Bull and the other sponsors have put a lot of effort into doing all the things it takes to bring MotoGP to the U.S. for the American fans.  I’m doing the easy part.

“I can’t wait for July’s race.  MotoGP is an awesome series, I love racing at Laguna, and my brothers (Tommy and Roger) will also be racing that weekend (in the AMA races).”

Hayden arrived in New York via Paris, France, following five straight days on his Repsol-sponsored Honda RC211V MotoGP machine – three days at the French Grand Prix followed by another two days at the Le Mans circuit testing for the remaining 13 races in the 2005 championship.

He left New York bound for his Kentucky family home and rare time off in the midst of a season.  But things get busy again soon, as Hayden heads back to Europe on Memorial Day (May 30) for back-to-back races at the Italian and Catalunyan Grands Prix, followed by yet another two days of testing.

The 2005 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix marks the return of the MotoGP World Championship to the United States for the first time since 1994.  Support events include AMA Pro Racing Superbike, Superstock and Supersport races, as well as the Superstars of Super Karts featuring Grand Prix motorcycle legends Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson and Kevin Schwantz competing in racing karts powered with 250 cc Yamaha engines with semi-enclosed bodywork and rear wings.

Tickets are available for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix by calling (800) 327-SECA or logging onto www.laguna-seca.com or www.ticketmaster.com.  More information on the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, including the weekend’s schedule of events, is available at www.laguna-seca.com

Wellbox announces sponsorship of Philippe Wellbox announces sponsorship of PhilippeWELLBOX announced today that they will sponsor Mi-Jack Conquest Racing’s Nelson Philippe car # 34 during the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.  The #34 WELLBOX / Mi-Jack Conquest Racing, will make its debut this weekend at the 2005 Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix Presented by Roshfrans.

WELLBOX – A truly innovative European product. The 1st body optimizer that brings the best from your body. It’s for health, wellness, beauty, anti-aging, and sport. A breakthrough in personal care: muscle aches rehabilitation, well being and body shaping.  A powerful, complimentary alternative to traditional treatments and cosmetics, that is now available for your home.

Patrick Veg - Wellbox Worldwide Marketing Director: “WELLBOX takes another important step towards consolidating its product branding within the Motorsports world reaching an agreement MJCR Team and driver Nelson Philippe as their spokesperson. We are very proud to be associated with such a young, fitness enthusiast, driven and dedicated driver, and the Champ Car World Series is the perfect stage to showcase our unique partnership. Soon, we will announce our sponsorship with other athletes in golf, tennis and football, stay tuned”...

Eric Bachelart – Team owner: “We are very pleased to have WELLBOX joining MJCR. We have been talking with Wellbox about some good sponsorship opportunities for Nelson Philippe and I am happy we were able to put this new relationship together. MJCR and Champ Car World Series will provide Wellbox with a great marketing opportunity as a platform to reach a global market with all the places we race. This partnership will enable WELLBOX to work closely with the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing to ensure that a variety of WELLBOX specialists will be available to Grand Prix attendees.” said Eric.

Nelson Philippe: “I was one of the first ones to try the Wellbox machine and immediately got one for me. After a day at the track, it helps me with a consistent massage treatment on some muscle tissue and helps me to recover, it’s magic!  For more information: www.wellbox.com

Delphi wins award for earpiece Delphi wins award for earpieceDelphi received the 39th annual BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award on May 20 for the Delphi Earpiece Sensor System. Delphi engineers Erskine Carter, Glen Gray, Andy Inman, Tim Kronenberg and Bruce Natvig accepted the award during a presentation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I just want to thank the Schwitzer Award committee for choosing us this year,” said Gray, engineering manager of Delphi Motorsports. “There are a lot of people involved in this, not just the five of us. You can’t understand how fun it is to work with the IRL from an engineering standpoint because they’ll tell us to go off and do something, and they don’t ask us what it’s going to cost.”

The Delphi Earpiece Sensor System, now mandatory in the Indy Racing League, provides a major advancement in safety. An earpiece with imbedded accelerometers is placed in the driver’s ear. In the event of a crash, it delivers the data necessary to determine the degree of head injury a driver may have experienced.

The system provides actual head acceleration values at the moment of crash impact. These values are used to calculate a Head Injury Criterion (HIC). This HIC number is an important part of the diagnosis, as currently there is no medical test that can detect a concussion other than by a physician’s examination.

Delphi’s system helped doctors diagnose the spinal ligament injury suffered by 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice after he crashed in practice May 11, said Dr. Henry Bock, Speedway and IRL senior director of medical services.

“What we discovered is that after the earpieces were in use is that there really isn’t a big correlation between the degree of the crash pulse in the chassis and the head,” Bock said. “It’s much different. It (earpiece) gives you a completely different picture of how to assess and what to assess on the driver and what to change to try and improve that.”

Award recipients receive $5,000, a plaque and a framed poster from BorgWarner, and their names will be added to the permanent trophy in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. Delphi engineers presented the $5,000 award to the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation.

The Louis Schwitzer Award, named after the dynamic automotive pioneer, has been presented annually in conjunction with the Indianapolis 500 since 1967. It recognizes individuals with the courage and conviction to explore and develop new concepts in auto racing technology.
Indy 500 Qualifying TV Rating Indy 500 Qualifying TV RatingUPDATE The final TV rating for the rained out Indy qualifications on ABC was a 0.7/2 share. 05/16/05 The overnight TV rating for the rained out Indy 500 time trials on Saturday on ABC was a 0.8/2share.  The ratings for the ESPN broadcast on Sunday won't be out until later this week.
Tracy tops practice 2 in Monterrey Tracy tops practice 2 in MonterreyPaul Tracy let it be known that he means business by turning the fastest lap (1:16.890 min.) in the short 15 min. practice session proceeding provisional pole qualifying this afternoon.  Tracy was followed by Bruno Junqueira and Cristiano da Matta.  Provisional pole qualifying is up next.
Bourdais quickest in first practice session Bourdais quickest in first practice sessionSebastien Bourdais turned the fastest lap in Friday morning practice in Monterrey, Mexico for round 2 of the 2005 Champ Car World Series, comfortably faster than Paul Tracy.  Alex Tagliani was a surprise in third followed by Cristiano da Matta and AJ Allmendinger.
Pos  Driver  #  Engine Lap Time  Mph  km/h  Leader  Previous
1  S. Bourdais  1  Ford-Cosworth  1:16.412  99.126  159.527      
2  P. Tracy  3  Ford-Cosworth  1:17.259  98.039  157.778  0.847   
3  A. Tagliani  15  Ford-Cosworth  1:17.932  97.192  156.415  1.520  0.673
4  C. da Matta  21  Ford-Cosworth  1:18.149  96.923  155.982  1.737  0.217
5  A. Allmendinger  10  Ford-Cosworth  1:18.184  96.879  155.911  1.772  0.035
6  M. Dominguez  7  Ford-Cosworth  1:18.237  96.814  155.807  1.825  0.053
7  B. Junqueira  2  Ford-Cosworth  1:18.286  96.753  155.708  1.874  0.049
8  J. Wilson  9  Ford-Cosworth  1:18.394  96.620  155.494  1.982  0.108
9  J. Vasser  12  Ford-Cosworth  1:18.429  96.577  155.425  2.017  0.035
10  R. Bremer  55  Ford-Cosworth  1:18.537  96.444  155.211  2.125  0.108
11  O. Servia  19  Ford-Cosworth  1:18.846  96.066  154.603  2.434  0.309
12  T. Glock  8  Ford-Cosworth  1:19.219  95.613  153.874  2.807  0.373
13  N. Philippe  34  Ford-Cosworth  1:19.239  95.589  153.835  2.827  0.020
14  R. Sperafico  11  Ford-Cosworth  1:19.378  95.422  153.566  2.966  0.139
15  R. Hunter-Reay  31  Ford-Cosworth  1:19.767  94.957  152.818  3.355  0.389
16  A. Ranger  27  Ford-Cosworth  1:20.012  94.666  152.350  3.600  0.245
17  M. Marshall  5  Ford-Cosworth  1:21.498  92.940  149.572  5.086  1.486
18  B. Wirdheim  4  Ford-Cosworth  1:21.710  92.699  149.184  5.298  0.212
19  J. Goeters  52  Ford-Cosworth  1:22.136  92.218  148.410  5.724  0.426
Price Cobb Returns to Porsche Racing after More Than 10 Years Price Cobb Returns to Porsche Racing after More Than 10 YearsLegendary Porsche driver Price Cobb will return behind the wheel of the marque that helped make him a champion this weekend in the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant. After more than a 10-year hiatus from Porsche racing, Cobb will partner Mae Van Wijk in Synergy Racing’s No. 81 Porsche GT3 Cup, sponsored by autobysite.com and pipeservicestt.com, for the six-hour enduro.
Van Wijk was originally slated to team with Synergy drivers David Murry and GT points leader Craig Stanton in the No. 80 Porsche for Saturday’s race, but with a fierce GT points race underway, the team decided maintaining its two-car effort was the best strategy for this weekend’s race.
“Taking a look at the points, we felt this was the best thing for all of our drivers; not just Craig, but all the drivers,” explained team owner Cole Scrogham. “We want to put our team and drivers in the best possible position early on, because we know there’s a lot of competition out there. We want to be smart about the points race to give our drivers every opportunity we can.” 
Cobb, who has worked with Synergy Racing as Director of Racing Operations since 2001, is excited to slide behind the wheel of a Porsche again for a race.  “Of course I’m excited,” Cobb said. “The only reason I don’t race anymore is because I don’t have that ‘need’ to drive that I had when I was younger. I still love to drive though. I truly love every minute inside a race car, and I know I’ll enjoy being back in one this weekend. This will be a hoot.”
Seen at Sebring 5 Seen at Sebring 5UPDATE We can now reveal who Philippe's sponsor is, as the name Wellbox is on the car in Monterrey. 03/23/05 Nelson Philippe has a new sponsor (right) on his car but the product, which is brand new, won't be released until May so for now his car will carry the products logo but with the middle letter missing until May so as not to give away what new product it is.  The paint scheme you see on this car will also be on Andrew Ranger's car in the near future, but with different sponsor logos. Mark C.
Alex Zanardi at the historic 1000 Miglia Alex Zanardi at the historic 1000 MigliaIn Alex Zanardi’s book “My Sweetest Victory” Mario Andretti tells us in the foreword that Daniela, Alex’s wife, once told him that she believed that “the only way he slows down is if I kill him”.  It might be an extreme measure, but she might be right; here are the facts. Last Thursday Alex traveled to Silverstone, England for the 5th and 6th round of the World Touring Car Championship in which he races for Team BMW Italy-Spain. Soon after the race he flew to Estoril, Portugal in order to attend the Laureus World Sports Award where he picked up the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award. On Tuesday he headed back home in Padua, Italy for a quick turnaround in fact, on Wednesday, he traveled to Brescia, Italy for the start of the historic 1000 Miglia.  In a 1957 BMW 507 he will travel to Rome and back with Italy’s BMW CEO Mr. Marco Saltalamacchia.
Zanardi awarded Laureus World Comeback Award Zanardi awarded Laureus World Comeback AwardTwo-time Champ Car titlist Alex Zanardi has won another prestigious award for his amazing courage in returning to racing after losing both of his legs in an accident nearly four years ago.  The 38 year-old Italian was presented the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award at The Laureus World Sports Awards which honors the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen from around the globe. Zanardi’s return to competitive motor racing in the European Touring Car Championship has won him nomination for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award for two years running. Last year’s Award was won by World Cup skiing hero Hermann Maier from Austria.

At the emotional presentation, Laureus World Sports Academy member and former Champ Car and Formula 1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi said: "I would pay special tribute to Alessandro Zanardi. To achieve what he has done and come back to racing is an awesome achievement. Physically it has been challenging, but the mental pressures must have been enormous. I am full of admiration for his courage and his determination".

Zanardi, who won back-to-back Champ Car titles in 1997 and 1998, then moved to Formula One with the Williams team.  In 2001, Zanardi returned to Champ Car with his former engineer Morris Nunn in a season that ended prematurely by his tragic accident at EuroSpeedway.  Two years later, Zanardi returned to Lausitz oval where he completed the final 13 laps of the 2001 event in a specially-prepared Champ Car that featured throttle controls that could be operated by hand. Zanardi averaged more than 194mph during his laps after having just one short practice session the day before.

Zanardi returned to motor racing in October 2003, where he finished seventh in the European Touring Car Championship race at Monza.  Last year, he completed a full season in the championship, racing at speeds of up to 240kmh and has already signed to race again in 2005.  He drives a specially adapted BMW in which the throttle is mounted on the upper part of the steering wheel, the brake pedal has been shaped to prevent the driver's artificial limb from losing the grip and the clutch is actuated through a button on the gear lever.

Dr. Claudio Costa, who has overseen his rehabilitation since the accident, says: "Alessandro Zanardi is letting all the people in his condition know what they can do. His example sends a message to humanity." Champ Car

Conor Daly to make his 2005 Snap-on Stars debut Conor Daly to make his 2005 Snap-on Stars debutThirteen-year-old Conor Daly will compete in his second Snap-on Stars of Karting event in the upcoming round of the East Division Stars Championship in New Castle, IN. Conor will drive a Margay chassis powered by a Nevoso prepared Maxxter engine. He will also carry newly acquired sponsorship from Cytomax energy drink, a company also known for its support of karting icon Memo Gidley and IRL driver Scott Sharp. Cytomax is a household name in the world of marathons and triathlons but this will be their first foray into kart racing. "We have a product that can help the young athletes achieve maximum fitness and we are proud to have Conor Daly represent our product," said, Iron Montgomery, Director of Marketing, Cytomax, CA. Cytomax is owned by Trans Am driver Greg Pickett.

Conor's commitment to the Stars event will make it a hectic weekend for the Daly family. Conor's Dad, Derek Daly, a former Indy Car and Formula One driver, will cover the second weekend of qualifying for the Indy 500 for local CBS affiliate WISH TV 8 while also overseeing Conor's activities on the same weekend. " I will have to run back and forth between the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and New Castle several times each day and honestly, if I had to pick being at Indy for qualifying or New Castle for the Stars event, I would pick the Stars event," said Derek.

New Castle is Conor Daly's home track where he holds the qualifying record for the Yamaha Junior Super can class. He currently leads the Yamaha Junior Super can championship having won three of the first four races.

State comes through for Charlotte HOF State comes through for Charlotte HOFState financing for Charlotte's NASCAR Hall of Fame bid cleared its first turn Wednesday, but tourism groups say they're prepared to put up a major roadblock if the city doesn't change the way it would handle the money. The N.C. Senate Finance Committee unanimously backed a funding bill that goes to the full Senate today. It would allow Charlotte to increase its tax on hotel rooms from 6 percent to 8 percent to help pay for the hall. That would give the city the highest room tax in the state. Charlotte is working to get a $137.5 million financing plan into NASCAR's hands by a May 31 deadline, and state backing is a key component. Charlotte is competing with four other cities for the hall, including Atlanta and Kansas City. The Florida Legislature's refusal this month to commit $30 million to Daytona Beach hurt that city's bid in many observers' eyes. Charlotte Observer
Olivier Panis to make race weekend return at French Grand Prix Olivier Panis to make race weekend return at French Grand PrixAs the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix enjoys its traditional Friday off, Panasonic Toyota Racing has announced that Olivier Panis will return to race weekend action during July's French Grand Prix weekend.

Panis, who stepped down from Grand Prix racing after the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix will benefit from recently revised sporting regulations to assume control of the third car in Friday free practice at the Magny-Cours circuit on 1 July.

President of Panasonic Toyota Racing, John Howett said of the announcement: "Olivier was not eligible to drive the third car with the regulations as they were at the start of the 2005 season. But now this rule has been relaxed, we felt it would be a good opportunity to ask Olivier to drive the third car for the French Grand Prix, his home race. Olivier's reputation as a quick, technically-minded driver is well documented and he has contributed greatly to the success that we have enjoyed this season. Ricardo has a busy race and test schedule this year, so we believe that this decision will also allow him to enjoy a weekend off before returning for the British Grand Prix the following week."

Olivier Panis said: "I'm really looking forward to returning to the cockpit at Magny-Cours. I first raced at the circuit in 1994 so I have over a decade of knowledge of the track. Now I hope to use that experience to help Toyota at the French Grand Prix. I think it would be a big shame to go through the entire Magny-Cours race weekend without any French drivers. So as well as being productive for the team I hope to give something back to the spectators and to the French TV and press at the race. I hope it will be fun for everybody, productive for the team and I hope to enjoy myself!"

Olivier took part in 158 races over his ten year-long career as F1 race driver. He officially retired from racing following the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix after 33 races with Panasonic Toyota Racing, but signed a new two-year deal with the team in a testing capacity alongside Ricardo Zonta. Toyota F1

Red Bull ’Energy Station’ at Monaco Red Bull ’Energy Station’ at MonacoHere in Monaco, it’s hard to tell if the Red Bull Racing Energy Station is a space ship or a yacht. The team HQ has been given a very special parking place in the cramped Monegasque paddock, as it is floating in the harbor, just outside the paddock gate.

Technically, it is classed as a yacht, taking up no less than three of the highly prized berths in one of the most famous harbors in the world. On Tuesday night, a major storm hit the Principality and the decks of the Energy Station were treacherously slippery and look- outs were posted to watch for icebergs. Rumors that Sporting Director Christian Horner was on the top deck, dressed as legendary Captain Ahab from “Moby Dick,” shouting, “I will go down with my ship,” have been denied.

And the space ship connection? As part of the joint promotion with the latest Star Wars episode, "Revenge of the Sith," the outside of the Energy Station has been given a special livery, featuring a huge image of everyone’s favorite film baddy, Darth Vader, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the team's Technical Director, Günther Steiner. Red Bull Racing

A1 GP - Shootout for Firman, Kerr, Lloyd and Rossiter A1 GP - Shootout for Firman, Kerr, Lloyd and RossiterA1 Team Great Britain Team Principal, John Surtees, has confirmed the four drivers who will take part in a shoot out at Brands Hatch for the chance to represent Great Britain in the inaugural A1 Grand Prix Series, the World Cup of Motorsport. They will be Ralph Firman, Robbie Kerr, Alex Lloyd and James Rossiter.

The Arden International Motorsport team, owned by Christian Horner, and based in Banbury, Oxon, will run the team in the series. For these important track tests, which will be sponsored by Hornby Plc, the team will use one of its Formula 3000 cars, which won the 2004 F3000 Championship, with Ralph Firman and Robbie Kerr driving on Monday, 23rd May and Alex Lloyd and James Rossiter on Tuesday, 24th May.

At the conclusion of the two days John Surtees and Christian Horner will have the difficult task of picking which of these four talented drivers will represent their country against nations from the four corners of the world. They will not announce their decision immediately, but at a press conference at Brands Hatch at the end of day two will be happy to discuss with the media the criteria they will use to pick their driver.
A1 Team Great Britain is offering a British driver a unique opportunity. “Brands Hatch is where I had my first ever motorcycle race on tarmac on the newly surfaced circuit," said Surtees. "It will also be the scene for the inaugural race of the A1 GP Series. The drivers we have chosen have all shown their abilities from karting through to F3 and F3000. It presents a wonderful opportunity for them to join a team dedicated to winning Sheikh Maktoum’s ‘World Cup of Motorsport’, the A1 Grand Prix Series, and in representing Great Britain."

"Unlike other major motorsport series that these drivers would be qualified to drive in, A1 Team GBR is not asking its drivers to bring funding to the team. We are just asking for them to bring their ability and give wholehearted support both on and off the track. In return they will be given a contract with a retainer, full expenses and a generous share of prize money.” A1GP

Heikki Kovalainen on Monaco Pole Position Heikki Kovalainen on Monaco Pole PositionArden International's Heikki Kovalainen will start tomorrow's GP2 series race from pole position after setting a superb 1:24.665 around the streets of Monaco.

In a session filled with tension and excitement, it was the Finn who rose to the top to claim two extra points for his championship campaign, and re-establish himself at the head of the drivers' table.

It was a close finish, however, with the top three drivers covered by less than 0.09 seconds. Kovalainen will be joined on the front row by Gimmi Bruni (Coloni Motorsport), with Adam Carroll (Super Nova International) and Olivier Pla (DPR) making up row two. Scott Speed (iSport International) and local boy Clivio Piccione (Durango) will line up on the third row, with Nico Rosberg (ART Grand Prix) and Giorgio Pantano (Super Nova International) on row four. The top ten is rounded out by Neel Jani (Racing Engineering) and Nicolas Lapierre (Arden International).

The session was full of incident, as the drivers searched for every thousandth of a second around the notoriously tough streets of the Principality. Ernesto Viso (BCN Competicion) came to grief early on, as he touched the barriers at Turn One and spun out.

Olivier Pla, too, ended his session in the barriers. In the closing stages of the session he set the quickest first sector time of the day, but pushed just a touch too hard at Portier and finished his qualifying efforts with a broken car.

Nelson Piquet Jr (Hitech Piquet Sports) also had a tough time. A collision between the Brazilian and Can Artam (iSport International) on the run down to Mirabeau saw Piquet's front left suspension damaged. Piquet was unable to continue, and was left inconsolable.
1st Heikki Kovalainen – Arden International - “It wasn’t a fantastic lap but it was good enough for pole which is important, of course. Everyone will say I could have done a better lap, but there’s so little time for practice that you can’t push to the limit straight away. It’s just important not to make any mistakes. The car was good straight away, and with the new gear ratios it’s working well. I’m looking forward to the race, and to making a good start.”

2nd Gianmaria Bruni – Coloni Motorsport - “It was quite a good qualifying for me. Unfortunately I got some traffic on my quickest lap and lost some time in the final corners as I had to back off. For sure I could be faster, but what you need in Monaco is to be on the front row, so maybe tomorrow we’ll have another good start as we did in Barcelona and you never know. It’s a 45-lap race, so it’s pretty long. I have to say that the new tires are mega. Bridgestone did a fantastic job. You can feel it straight away from leaving the pits, we’ve got more grip than I had last year in F1.”

3rd Adam Carroll – Super Nova International - “We stuck to our plan and did what we had to do, which was to get as many laps done as possible this morning. You have to push to get a feeling for the car, and we made quite a few changes. The track is great. I think if I was here in a Formula 3, then compared to Macau it wouldn’t be so different, it would be quite easy. But because you’re stepping up into one of these things, it makes it more exciting. The car has so much torque in the low gears. It’s just great fun.”

Top ten drivers
1. Heikki Kovalainen 1:24.665
2. Gianmaria Bruni +0.059
3. Adam Carroll +0.086
4. Olivier Pla +0.331
5. Scott Speed +0.740
6. Clivio Piccione +0.818
7. Nico Rosberg +0.829
8. Giorgio Pantano +1.044
9. Neel Jani +1.253
10. Nicolas Lapierre +1.418

Full results to follow... GP2

Latest F1 News in Brief Latest F1 News in Brief
McLaren to rotate 'third' job
DC may bare all
Engine Trulli intact
Safer testing plan backed
EJ slammed
Brakes on in McLaren duel Brakes on in McLaren duelJuan Pablo Montoya has tipped Monaco to be another Spain-like Renault v. McLaren affair.  But the silver-clad star, who disappointed on return from injury at Barcelona a fortnight ago, quietly admitted to not feeling totally at home under hard braking around the Principality.

'F1 CEO' Martin Whitmarsh agreed after Thursday practice: ''It's taking a bit too long to bring the brakes (up) to the temperature we want.''  Nevertheless, Montoya - the 29-year-old Colombian - predicted a battle for victory come grand prix Sunday.  ''The Renault looks pretty good too,'' he asserted, ''so now it is a question of where are we going to be in qualifying.''

Bernie to FIA - 'why? Bernie to FIA - 'why?Ever the ideal sanctuary for a cynic, the F1 paddock posed a single but far-from-simple question when scrutineering Bernie Ecclestone's new FIA job offer.

'Why?' While, on the surface, the banks - without the F1 'supremo' to steer the ship - might decide to sell their 75% commercial stake, either back to Bernie or to the threatening carmakers, there might just be a bit more at play.

''I've heard all the rumors and stories,'' McLaren 'F1 CEO' Martin Whitmarsh told The Guardian newspaper, ''(and) I don't understand the rationale.''

Minardi's Paul Stoddart, a fierce Mosley foe, sees the possible appointment as a step in the right direction for teams and manufacturers that no long appear willing to deal with the FIA president.

He said: ''Perhaps this is a way of unlocking the solution.'' The Australian entrepreneur also said Mosley's hopes of winning the next FIA election with the 'status quo' in tact, would be nigh on laughable. GMMF1Net

Toyota V8 to debut Toyota V8 to debutToyota will become the next F1 engine maker to track debut its 2006-spec 2.4 liter V8 unit. While Honda, and more recently Mercedes-Benz, won the race to first run their new machines, all manufacturers - like Cosworth, who expect a 20,000rpm engine - are ramping up development for next year.

Mike Gascoyne said the Toyota V8 will hit the track in July. ''We've been running it on the dyno,'' the technical director revealed at Monaco, ''and it's progressing pretty well.''

Bernie saved BAR Bernie saved BARWhen BAR return to the track next Friday, team chiefs might want to slip Bernie Ecclestone a quiet 'thank you.' The 74-year-old 'supremo' revealed at Monte Carlo, where the Honda-owned squad will serve out a two-grand prix ban, that he persuaded FIA president Max Mosley not to chase a one-year ban for cheating.

''I told him to come back from that a little bit,'' Bernie said, ''because I was worried Honda might leave (F1). It would also not have been good for the sport.''

Ecclestone also basically admitted that his FIA job offer to liaise with the teams is a Mosley plot to appease damaged-beyond-repair relations. ''Max enjoys confrontation,'' he smiled, ''but I'd rather just get on and get the job done.'' GMMF1

Legge featured on CNN International Legge featured on CNN InternationalToyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama series points leader Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing) continues to receive national, and even international, attention following her historic victory at Long Beach in April.

Legge became the first woman driver to win a major open-wheel event in North America when she came from seventh position to capture the checkered flag in Round 1 of the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship on the streets of Long Beach on April 10. Since earning the victory in her first series start, Legge has garnered an impressive amount of media coverage, both in the U.S. and in her native United Kingdom.

The most recent profile of Legge was featured on the CNN International sports program – World Sport. The feature included a four-minute video segment complete with on-track footage from Long Beach and an in-depth, in-studio interview with the 24-year-old Polestar Racing Group driver. Legge traveled to London to film the interview at the CNN studios recently while visiting her homeland in between Atlantic events.

CNN International can be seen in an impressive 170 million households worldwide including outlets in Europe, Asia, Latin America and North America. The feature on Legge will be aired worldwide throughout the day on both Thursday and Friday. The CNN profile follows a USA Today full-page feature story on the Northampton, England resident that ran in the sports section in early May.

“All of the (media) coverage has been really fun – a bit overwhelming – but really fun,” said Legge. “My goal is to keep winning and, of course, when you’re winning you get attention. But I really enjoy it. I don’t look at it as a chore. I enjoy meeting new and interesting people and racing has helped me do that.”  Legge returns to action this weekend in the Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico. Toyota Atlantic

Max Angelelli Fastest of the Day at Mont-Tremblant Max Angelelli Fastest of the Day at Mont-TremblantThe No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley team was the fastest of the day in all three Daytona Prototype practice sessions at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant. SunTrust driver Max Angelelli posted a best time of 1:30.611 at a speed of 105.285 mph in the final session of the day. Second fastest was Stefan Johansson in the No. 02 Lexus Riley with a time of 1:30.883 at 104.970 mph in Session 2.

Max Angelelli: Regarding setting the fastest lap of the day: "I'm really happy under the circumstances -- in the way that we were just taking it easy and working on the car. So, I'm pretty happy. I didn't expect that."  Regarding the set-up of the car: "I'm pretty happy. We worked on the car just to make it easier because this is the kind of track that you need to have an easy car to drive. I think we achieved that. Now we have to go and make it faster."

First impressions of Monaco First impressions of MonacoThere are but a handful of truly spectacular auto races each year and certainly Monaco must be counted in that elite group.  Arguably the most exquisite of all cities in the world, the small principality of Monaco is the largest collection of wealth and opulence found anywhere.  The blue waters of the Mediterranean are dotted with the largest of yachts set against sun splashed white beaches.  Built into the cliffs surrounding the harbor where the historic 2.2-mile F1 track is laid out are perhaps the most exclusive homes in the world. 

Nothing is inexpensive in Monaco.  Hotel rooms are thousands of dollars a night and one can spend a small fortune on this race weekend.  Unless you live in Monaco, you simply don’t drive there on race weekend.  But there’s no shortage of Bentleys, Ferraris, Porsches, Mercedes and Bimmers driven by some of the most striking people found anywhere.  It truly is the land of the rich and famous.  If there ever was a race for the wine and cheese crowd, this is it. Mark C.

UAW Dodge crew wins Pit Crew Challenge UAW Dodge crew wins Pit Crew ChallengeThe No.9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge pit crew of driver Kasey Kahne topped a stellar field of 23 pit crews to win the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge presented by Motorola Thursday at the Charlotte Coliseum.

In the final round of competition, the No. 9 team defeated the No. 42 Texaco Havoline team of driver Jamie McMurray by 1.69 seconds to secure the championship. Kahne's pit crew completed a four-tire pit stop in 16.14 seconds in the finals to the No. 42 team's 17.83-second stop."

This event is what it's all about," said Tommy Baldwin, crew chief for the championship team. "To see all the smiles on their faces and to see how hard they work day in and day out - this is great. This gives them a chance to excel in the spotlight."

The team received $70,000 in cash, as well as special leather jackets and championship rings.
Thursday washout Thursday washoutPractice for the 89th Indianapolis 500 was canceled May 19 due to persistent rain at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Practice will resume at 1 p.m. (EDT) Friday. The 89th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 29. IMS and Indy Racing League officials announced the cancellation at 3:15 p.m. (EDT) after heavy showers returned to the Speedway area. It was the first Indy 500 practice day completely washed out by rain since May 18, 2001.
News tidbits from the Monterrey paddock News tidbits from the Monterrey paddockWriting from a warm Monterrey, Mexico where the action in the paddock of the 5th edition of the Monterrey Grand Prix had began. With not too many changes from the last race in Long Beach, the teams and cars passed through technical inspection. Some of the drivers showed up for a press conference featuring the Mexicans Champ Car drivers Mario Dominguez and Jorge Goeters, and Toyota Atlantic's David Martinez and Memo Rojas. Also present was the defending champion of the last year race Sebastien Bourdais, his teammate Bruno Junqueira (who looked upset or tired), popular with the Mexican media Oriol Servia, French Mi-Jack Conquest driver Nelson Philippe, awesome Toyota Atlantic rookie Katherine Legge and the director of the Monterrey Grand Prix Jorge Lozano.

The main topic of the press conference was the introduction of the Grand Prix to the Mexican media, it did not say too much. Then all drivers in the conference and the Miss Grand Prix girls went out for the blessing of the track.

Roberto Gonzalez was in the paddock talking to the media, but he does not have a ride.

I asked Jorge Lozano about the extension of the contract for more years in Monterrey. He told me that the negotiations had begun a few days ago and expects that they would take about two months to complete. Also told me that the Champ Car owners are really into it to come back, but it seems that for everyone they will wait for the results. Sold out seats would be a factor to renew it. Lozano also told me that they are going to do an analysis of the five races and then decide. He added that by mid-July we will know, which is when the new Champ Car schedule is due out.

Mexican media were somewhat aggressive trying to made rivalries between teammates Junqueira and Bourdais and Conquest's Ranger and Philippe. Actually Philippe said in the press conference that he is expecting revenge since his own teammate took him out in Long Beach. Hector Serrano
Ralf handed time penalty Ralf handed time penaltyToyota's Ralf Schumacher was ordered to add a half second penalty to his Monaco Grand Prix aggregate qualifying time after a tire error in free practice on Thursday. Stewards summoned the German, younger brother of Ferrari's seven-times world champion Michael, and a representative of the team after Ralf was found to have used a left front tire that had not been officially allocated to him. Supplier Michelin blamed human error. Qualifying is on Saturday and Sunday. The time penalty will be Ralf's second in three races. He lost a point at the San Marino Grand Prix after being given a 25-second penalty for a pit lane offence. Ralf was ninth fastest in free practice on Thursday.
Tornado warning for Indy Tornado warning for IndyA tornado watch has been issued for much of central and southern Indiana Thursday afternoon and evening. The watch is in effect until 9 p.m.
Wallace in, Waltrip out Wallace in, Waltrip outNASCAR veteran Rusty Wallace will join Speed Channel's program "Trackside" as a regular host beginning the second half of the Nextel Cup Series season, Speed officials confirmed Thursday.  In what some might term a surprise move, Wallace will replace Michael Waltrip, a fan favorite, in the show's lineup for the second half of the season, Speed spokesman Erik Arneson said.   Speed Channel recently extended Waltrip's contract to work in the booth for NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races, and the network also confirmed that Waltrip would continue his work on the long-running Monday night show "Inside Nextel Cup."  Wallace, the 1989 Cup series champion, is in his final year of Cup competition and has appeared as a guest TV analyst several times, including with "Trackside," on Fox's "Hollywood Hotel" and in coverage of Busch Series races.  Wallace could not be immediately reached for comment. ThatsRacin
Edmonton race gets title sponsor Edmonton race gets title sponsorOrganizers of the inaugural Grand Prix of Edmonton and West Edmonton Mall (WEM) jointly announced today that West Edmonton Mall has signed on as title sponsor of the Grand Prix, scheduled for July 15 to 17 at Finning International Raceway. The event will be billed as West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton.

"The Grand Prix of Edmonton, featuring The Champ Car World Series, is a world-class sporting event with an international profile. The addition of West Edmonton Mall, a facility acclaimed worldwide, as title sponsor, is an association that communicates excellence. The entertainment and marketing expertise that they can share will no doubt enhance our offering," said Greg Macdonald, president and general manager of the Grand Prix of Edmonton.

West Edmonton Mall is The Greatest Indoor Show on Earth, featuring more than 800 stores and services including eight amazing attractions, a world-class hotel, a variety of one-of-a-kind and exclusive stores, spectacular games, 100 dining venues and extraordinary entertainment for all ages. As Alberta's largest tourist attraction, WEM welcomes more than 22 million guests each year.

West Edmonton Mall is the flagship property of Triple Five Group of Companies, which has numerous projects underway or proposed throughout the world. Don Ghermezian, president of West Edmonton Mall Property Inc., said, "We are proud to be the presenting sponsor of this prestigious event. The partnership with the Grand Prix will not only help raise the profile of West Edmonton Mall but of our entire company around the world."

Gary Hanson, West Edmonton Mall general manager, added, "We are proud to step up and make a substantial investment in an event that will be of huge benefit to our city and region. This partnership will assist in promoting Edmonton and Alberta to the international audience who will watch the race this July."

The Grand Prix of Edmonton featuring the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, is the seventh race on the 14-event 2005 schedule and will be staged on a 1.96-mile temporary road course at Finning International Raceway, located at Edmonton City Centre Airport. Champ Cars are open-wheel, single seat racecars capable of achieving speeds of over 380 kilometers per hour (240 mph).

Also on the three-day schedule is the Toyota Atlantic Championship, the premiere development series owned by Champ Car, as well as the Trans-Am Series. The Trans-Am Series last ran in Edmonton in 1973. In the two years the series competed in
Edmonton (1971 & 1973) it featured such racing legends as Mark Donohue, Parnelli Jones, George Follmer, the late Peter Revson and Vic Elford.

"The association between West Edmonton Mall and our event demonstrates the remarkable support the Grand Prix has received from Edmonton, its businesses and its citizens," added Macdonald. "It speaks well for the city and will further augment the reputation and the impact the Grand Prix has locally, nationally and internationally. The stature of our event is growing continually, even before the green flag has dropped."

The Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford features Canadian racing stars Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani, as well as rookie sensation Andrew Ranger. Also competing are 2004 Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira, who compete for Newman Haas Racing, co-owned by legendary film star Paul Newman.

2005 marks Alberta's Centennial. In recognition of this important milestone, the Grand Prix of Edmonton grounds will feature a shopping and information zone designated "All About Alberta" highlighting the unique personality of the province.

Tickets for the Grand Prix of Edmonton are available online at www.grandprixedmonton.com or by calling Ticketmaster at 780-451-8000. While sales are brisk, good seats are still available; 85 per cent of the race track is visible from most seats in the grandstands. Champ Car

Champ Car race live in Brazil Champ Car race live in BrazilSportv (like ESPN in Brazil) announced that they made a deal with Champ Car representatives in Brazil to show Champ Car LIVE on Sportv. The Monterrey race will be shown on Sportv2 (like ESPN2).
IRL's new test dummy IRL's new test dummyContinuing its safety and technical leadership in the world of motorsports, the Indy Racing League (IRL) has awarded the Delphi Corp. (NYSE: DPH) a state-of-the-art THOR-FT crash test dummy for research use at the company's Vandalia, Ohio, Engineering and Test facility.  

The THOR-FT, which stands for Test Device for Human Occupant Restraint - Frontal Technology, is a specially designed high tech crash test dummy that is able to record more than 130 items of data in a single test  - providing improved biofidelity (the ability to react like human tissue) and kinematics (human body movements).

Delphi engineers at the Vandalia facility working with the IRL's technology and safety departments will use the data to evaluate seat belt function along with other safety systems, which will offer a higher level of driver protection in a race car.

In addition, the findings will be used to help develop the next-generation driver safety systems such as improved 5, 6 and 7-point seat belts, head and neck restraints, seat and helmet designs and cockpit surround systems. The data will also be used to optimize "smart" occupant restraint systems.

"We are extremely excited about our new THOR-FT dummy," said Mike Donegan, Delphi engineering manager, Vandalia Engineering and Testing facility. "This dummy will help us continue to develop safety features for the IRL and the rest of the racing industry. We will work with the IRL to utilize every single piece of data from the testing."       

THOR-FT utilizes an iDummy system, which integrates the data acquisition system and instrumentation cabling within the dummy. The dummy's human-like shoulder will also allow engineers to get better results in full-scale racing crashes. In addition, the dummy features advanced instrumentation in the lower extremities, which will allow for research in the foot box area.

IRL senior technical manager Phil Casey said the IRL made the decision to acquire the high tech dummy exclusively for Delphi's use because of the company's emphasis on racing safety.

New Delphi funded safety command vehicle New Delphi funded safety command vehicleWhen Dave Brown says his Chevrolet Tahoe is fully loaded, he's not kidding. He sits in the custom leather seats with the steering wheel-mounted controls for the nine-speaker Bose premium digital sound system at his fingertips. Power-adjustable pedals put the 295 horsepower of the Vortec 5300 V8 engine within easy reach.

It's the wireless, networked laptop computer, four video monitors, satellite TV system with a 360-degree antennae and forward- and rear-facing cameras, among other high-tech gadgetry that sets this vehicle apart from the typical SUV.

As if that's not enough, Delphi, which fully funded the vehicle and its equipment, recently upgraded the SUV with a digital recording device, among other enhancements.

Dave Brown is the track safety coordinator for the Indy Racing League and his new Tahoe Z71 LS serves as the command vehicle for the fleet of medical and safety trucks that comprise the Delphi IRL Safety Team.

For 10 years, the IRL Safety Team has been among the leaders in on-track safety at motorsports events. They are the only motorsports safety team to work at IRL, Formula One, NASCAR and USAC events.

At the beginning of the 2005 IRL season, the team added the Tahoe as the new Command 1 vehicle for the fleet, which consists of three other Chevy trucks.

The electronics that set Command 1 apart from the average SUV are designed to maximize the time and efficiency of safety personnel during an on-track incident.

"Technologically, Delphi has propelled us 10 years ahead of where we were," Brown said.

While Brown and Dr. Henry Bock, senior director of medical services, sit trackside in Command 1 during all IRL events, they listen to the race on Delphi's Roady2 XM Satellite Receiver and they watch ABC/ESPN's clean feed via DIRECTV on the two visor-mounted TV screens. When any type of incident occurs on track, all competitors and safety personnel, including Brown and Bock, are instantaneously notified via a dashboard warning light system. At the sight of the flashing yellow light, Brown activates the strobe lights, puts the SUV into gear and pulls onto the track.

As they speed to the scene, they continue to watch the live TV coverage. The team uses its more than 70 years of combined experience in motorsports safety to work at the scene. If the incident involves an injured driver, the TV replays allow Bock and Brown to anticipate the type and severity of those injuries by reviewing the angle and speed of impact. The installation of the Tivo system will enhance their ability to review specific scenes.

"We can see what the impact looked like, determine the force and angle, and see if it was front end or rear end," Brown said. "If there are multiple cars, we can get a good feel for which vehicles might be more seriously impacted and what type of injuries we might expect."

As they pull up to the scene, Brown points the vehicle at the wreckage. The forward-facing camera will have the capability to transmit video directly to the infield medical center where a team of doctors and nurses prepare to treat the driver.

The camera records on a VHS recorder, allowing Brown and Bock to review the images later.

Bock exits the SUV with two valuable electronic tools. The first, that will be introduced this month, is a hand-held device that plugs into the race car's dataport. In one second, the device downloads the accelerometer reading from the driver's Delphi earpiece sensors, which measure the g-forces the driver's head experiences on impact.

Bock also is equipped with a wireless microphone. With the push of a button, he communicates directly with the personnel in the infield medical center.

In most incidents, where the driver is alert and walks away from the car under his or her own power, Command 1 is utilized for transporting the driver to the infield medical center.

Once the driver is evaluated and treated, Brown and Bock return to their trackside parking spot.

"The wireless network allows us to look at all of the downloaded data from the entire crash box," Brown said. "If we see a spike in the data that we want to further evaluate, we can review another replay to compare the actual site of the hit to what the recorder is showing. The crash box is loaded onto a highly-secure Internet site, that allows us to further review the data. With this information, we may be able to tell the medical team working on the driver about another possible injury we see on tape that they didn't see.

"Delphi gives doctors and rescue workers the advantage of time as well as the gift of hindsight to help ensure we continue to build the safest environment for drivers and crews," said Bock.

Massa over Villeneuve again Massa over Villeneuve againSAUBER PETRONAS drivers Felipe Massa and Jacques Villeneuve finished eighth and 14th respectively after today's first practice sessions for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Jacques Villeneuve: "A lot depends here on when you put the new tires on the car. The track is always dirty at the beginning of a session and the first and last laps you do can vary by as much as four seconds. I was quite happy with the car today. We are in much better shape than we were in Barcelona. I tried to keep my set-up consistent and let the track improve, and I'm okay with what we did this afternoon. Our long run was acceptable. Now we just have to make sure that we make the right tire choice for Saturday."

Felipe Massa: "The car was getting better and better with every run, but on the last the rear end felt a bit soft and the right front tire was quite lightly loaded. I know I didn't make a mistake at Ste Devote, but when I braked hard there the right front wheel locked, the car went sideways, and then I crashed into the tire wall. I'm fine, but I'm not sure what happened. On the positive side, I'm feeling very confident for the rest of the weekend after the way the car went this afternoon."

Willy Rampf (Technical Director): "Felipe said that the rear end of the car felt a little strange before the right front wheel locked up under braking and he went off in the first corner. We will carry out a full investigation to analyze the cause of the incident and the extent of the damage. It was a great shame, because both Felipe and Jacques made satisfactory progress thanks to a good step we made with Felipe's set-up between morning practice and this afternoon's session." Sauber

Ferrari drivers struggle at Monaco Ferrari drivers struggle at MonacoMichael Schumacher is had a bad start at Monaco today. He blamed a vibration for his lack of track time on Thursday after ending the day's free practice sessions in 11th place. "Unfortunately, the car did not run well this afternoon, as I picked up a vibration that got worse as the session went on, he said. "We felt it was best to stop so that we could analyze what was going on. That’s the way it is at this circuit, in that if you have a small problem you lose a lot of track time and because of that it is hard for me to predict what will be the situation in qualifying on Saturday.”

Schumacher's teammate Rubens Barrichello has an even worse first day in Monaco. “I was not very happy with the car today. In the morning, I was unhappy with the set-up on my brakes and this afternoon, it was a more general difficulty with the set-up and other elements of the package. I have every faith in the team and I am sure we can improve the situation. At this track, the driver can make a difference, which is a positive factor, as is the fact we have an extra day now to think about what to do.”

Bridgestone to use same tire Bridgestone to use same tireQuote from Al Speyer, Executive Director, Bridgestone Motorsport: “Monterrey is always a great event, with all of the passionate, knowledgeable fans that come out for the race every year.  As a company, we’re very involved in the Mexican market – in fact, we recently broke ground on a new facility in Monterrey – so this is the perfect venue for Bridgestone to showcase its technical capabilities.  We have a good deal of experience with this track now and we’re certain we’ve found just the right tire to maximize performance and durability here.  The tire we brought here last season performed flawlessly, so we’ve brought the same specification this year.”
Industry news
The Red Bull Driver Search Announces Open Qualifying Winners The Red Bull Driver Search Announces Open Qualifying WinnersOpen Qualifying for the 2005 Red Bull Driver Search concluded earlier this month with 180 aspiring racers from across the country advancing to the Run Offs, phase two of this unparalleled Program to find and support young American racers.
Throughout the month of April thousands of participants from across the country flocked to 60 indoor and outdoor karting centers in the hope of progressing to the next stage of the Program. The winners (listed below) will compete at one of two Run Off events on the East and West Coast during the summer.
On reaching the Run Offs, these young hopefuls will be two steps away from the 2005 Final, and an opportunity to join the Red Bull Junior Team and compete in a junior formula in Europe for 2006.
Thursday round-up from Monaco Thursday round-up from Monaco
Renault: Game on for championship leader Fernando Alonso - perfect P1. Giancarlo Fisichella, a bit bothered under braking, is fourth. ''I don't feel completely comfortable with the car,'' said the Roman.

Jordan: Rookie-in-yellow Narain Karthikeyan learned about Monaco the hard way - by whacking the barrier and damaging the rear suspension. ''It's a difficult track to learn,'' said the Indian, ''I will need more laps.''

McLaren: Juan Pablo Montoya led the morning pace, and just pipped teammate Kimi Raikkonen to fifth for the day. ''I think we're in with a good chance,'' he said.

Williams: ''We're doing okay,'' said twelfth placed Mark Webber, ''we just need a bit more pace.'' Nick Heidfeld ranked sixteenth, but called practice at 'outstanding' and sunny Monaco 'good fun' nonetheless.

Sauber: Felipe Massa provided a little more Monaco carnage when he crashed at Ste Devote. ''I'm fine,'' said the Brazilian, ''but I know I didn't make a mistake.'' Familiarly, Jacques Villeneuve trailed the pace in the sister C24, but he welcomed 'much better' form than in Spain.

Ferrari: Things don't seem to be getting a lot better in the red camp -- Michael Schumacher pulled to a halt with an unidentified vibration. Rubens Barrichello struggled with miserable handling and wandered around in fifteenth. ''Qualifying,'' he said, ''will definitely be tough.''

Toyota: As anticipated, the TF105 may struggle at bumpy Monaco, but Ralf Schumacher (9th) - quicker, unusually, than 2004 Monaco winner Jarno Trulli - vowed to 'do everything' to target a podium. ''I really struggled for grip today,'' said JT, while Ricardo Zonta also grappled with the third car.

Minardi: Patrick Friesacher, although stopping twice with a software problem, ended both sessions ahead of the Jordans. A slow Christijan Albers fared less happily and even clashed with the barrier. ''We have closed the gap to Jordan, our main rival,'' said boss Paul Stoddart.

Red Bull: Twice Monaco winner David Coulthard was third quickest on Thursday, but strongly hinted at a low fuel run. ''Maybe it's possible to move slightly further up than usual,'' the Scot contemplated. Tonio Liuzzi's a solid seventh. 'Third' man Christian Klien, meanwhile, crashed at T4 and damaged the nose.

Q and A with Ryan Dalziel Q and A with Ryan DalzielScotland's Ryan Dalziel, set to pilot the Pacific Coast Motorsport #5 Menards-Yokohama Corvette C5-R in the third round of the 2005 American Le Mans Series this weekend, has taken time out to review life as an ALMS rookie while reflecting on his association with PKV Racing in the 2005 Champ Car World Series. Interview
Alonso sets pace at Monaco Thursday Alonso sets pace at Monaco ThursdayMichelin rubbered cars dominated the top-ten in the second and final Thursday practice session this afternoon at Monaco. Championship leader Fernando Alonso led the way for Renault with a best lap of 1:15.835s, just under a tenth of a second clear of McLaren test driver Alex Wurz. 
P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps
 1. 5 ALONSO Renault M 1'15"835 158.555 Km/h
 2. 35 WURZ McLaren Mercedes M 1'15"912 + 0'00"077
 3. 14 COULTHARD Red Bull Cosworth M 1'16"184 + 0'00"349
 4. 6 FISICHELLA Renault M 1'16"519 + 0'00"684
 5. 10 MONTOYA McLaren Mercedes M 1'16"534 + 0'00"699
 6. 9 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'16"558 + 0'00"723
 7. 15 LIUZZI Red Bull Cosworth M 1'16"640 + 0'00"805
 8. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas M 1'16"914 + 0'01"079
 9. 17 R.SCHUMACHER Toyota M 1'16"989 + 0'01"154
10. 38 ZONTA Toyota M 1'17"046 + 0'01"211
11. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'17"170 + 0'01"335
12. 7 WEBBER Williams BMW M 1'17"422 + 0'01"587
13. 16 TRULLI Toyota M 1'17"487 + 0'01"652
14. 11 VILLENEUVE Sauber Petronas M 1'17"506 + 0'01"671
15. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'17"663 + 0'01"828
16. 8 HEIDFELD Williams BMW M 1'17"667 + 0'01"832
17. 37 KLIEN Red Bull Cosworth M 1'18"815 + 0'02"980
18. 39 DOORNBOS Jordan Toyota B 1'19"526 + 0'03"691
19. 20 FRIESACHER Minardi Cosworth B 1'19"587 + 0'03"752
20. 18 MONTEIRO Jordan Toyota B 1'20"284 + 0'04"449
21. 19 KARTHIKEYAN Jordan Toyota B 1'21"879 + 0'06"044
22. 21 ALBERS Minardi Cosworth B 1'22"162 + 0'06"327
Yokohama to sponsor C2 championship Yokohama to sponsor C2 championshipCelebrating its 17th season as a proud sponsor of the Toyota Atlantic Championship, the Yokohama Tire Corporation announced today that it will expand its sponsorship of the series to include the C2 category this season. In addition to the tire manufacturer and distributor serving as presenting sponsor and Official Tire of the series, Yokohama is also lending its support for the 2005 Yokohama Tire C2 Cup.

“We want to thank Yokohama for their continued support of the Toyota Atlantic Championship,” said Vicki O’Connor, Managing Director of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. “They’ve proven to be a trusted partner for the series over the years and we appreciate the dedication and support that they’ve shown our C2 competitors this season.”

The Toyota Atlantic Championship reinstituted the C2 category in 2004 in an effort to provide competitors with pre-existing Atlantic equipment a more cost-effective opportunity to compete in North America’s top open-wheel development series. The C2 class has really evolved into a championship within a championship with a separate C2 points and prize fund at each event. In 2005, officials expanded the C2 class by permitting more variations of the Atlantic formula in series competition. There were a total of eight C2 entries among 19 cars at the Toyota Atlantic season-opening race in Long Beach last month, led by California native Justin Sofio who finished fifth overall.

As part of is sponsorship of the C2 category, Yokohama will award a championship trophy and $10,000 prize to the class champion at the end of the 2005 season. The C2 winner of each Atlantic race will also receive a set of Yokohama tires for their performance and the second-place C2 finisher at each event that features three or more class entries will receive two new tires from Yokohama.

“We look forward to expanding our role with the Toyota Atlantic series as sponsor of the Yokohama Tire C2 Cup this season,” said Art Michalik, Director of Marketing and Communications for Yokohama. “We wanted to be able to help provide more value to the series and its C2 teams and drivers and this certainly demonstrates the continued commitment that Yokohama has toward the Atlantic series.”

In 2004, veteran Atlantic racer and team owner Cam Binder of Canada captured the C2 championship for Binder Racing, edging rookie Tony Loniewski of Olsson Engineering by 11 points for category’s top honor. Toyota Atlantic

Newman/Haas team running out of time Newman/Haas team running out of timeThe Newman/Haas Champ Car team is running out of time to get their car ready for the Indy 500.  Yesterday was their last day before flying down to Mexico for the Monterrey Champ Car race this weekend, and their cars are still not handling in traffic to their liking.

Bruno Junqueira, No. 36 Team CENTRIX Honda/Panoz/Firestone: "I'm quite happy with the progress of the Team CENTIX car. Today we made a little progress but we still have a ways to go to get ready for the race. We were just working on the race set up and unfortunately I didn't get much traffic except for Sebastien. The car is good when I am alone but when I get close to others, it's not so good. We will keep working to improve the handling of the car in traffic."

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 37 Team CENTRIX Honda/Panoz/Firestone: "We are making progress but we have a lot of work to do. The car is okay when I am by myself but it would be good if it was faster. We will continue to work on the Team CENTRIX car to improve it in traffic. Every day is very important so I hope the weather continues to cooperate."

Indy tidbits Indy tidbitsThe diamond grinding at the track is not over. Officials will scrub the surface of the warm-up lanes following Sunday's qualification session. The work is expected to take two days. . . . Drivers completed 2,499 laps of practice Wednesday, making it the busiest day of the month so far. There were no incidents and no engine failures. . . . Former Indy-winning chief mechanic Owen Snyder, now a U.S. Auto Club official, was called out of retirement by Vision Racing owner Tony George to work as the engineer on Jeff Ward's car. He began his new duties Wednesday. Indy Star
HVM launches new website HVM launches new websiteWith a new name and a new look in 2005, HVM is pleased to announce the evolution of HVMRacing.com. A resource for fans, partners and the media, the innovative site provides extensive information about HVM Racing, their drivers Bjorn Wirdheim, Ronnie Bremer and the Champ Car World Series.

“The website is functional from a business point of view and also enjoyable and resourceful for the fans and journalists that follow us. Although websites have become a necessary part of business in the current days, Quik Internet has always done a great job for us in producing our sites and it is a great marketing tool for the team. We look forward to adding new links and information as business develops with partners through the year,” commented HVM co-owner, Keith Wiggins.

In addition to the latest team news, the easy to navigate site includes track information, results, event and television schedules, contests and driver interviews. HVMRacing.com also includes an online media guide detailing the history and accomplishments of its team and athletes, partner information, team bios and a photo gallery. HVM encourages viewer interaction with the submission of questions for the drivers and team in addition to periodic contests.

Earning three victories, and eight podium finishes in just four years; HVM, has enjoyed early success in the Champ Car World Series. With more than 2.2 million people attending Champ Car races annually and a massive worldwide audience, HVM also offers a range of proven marketing and advertising platforms to enhance the business of its corporate partners. For more information on HVM and its partners, visit www.HVMRacing.com.

Follow HVM as they head South of the border for round two of the Champ Car World Series this weekend, May 20-22nd at the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico. HVMRacing.com will be updated daily with notes and quotes from the Monterrey Grand Prix. The Tecate Telmex Grand Prix will be televised in the U.S. on SPEED Channel, Sunday, May 22nd at 11:00 pm ET, live in Mexico (3:00 pm start) on TV Azteca and live on Eurosport. HVM Racing

Blundell to resign from BRDC Blundell to resign from BRDCFirst Chairman Ray Bellm resigned and now Mark Blundell told Autosport-Atlas on Friday that he will stand down as a director of the trouble-hit British Racing Drivers' Club in two weeks' time after choosing not to stand for re-election.  The club has been in turmoil since a public spat between former chairman Ray Bellm and current president Sir Jackie Stewart over the future of the British Grand Prix last year.  Stewart's position was supported by the members in a recent extraordinary general meeting but Blundell has decided to stand down from his role as director because of other commitments.

"I am not standing for re-election," said Blundell, who confirmed he will remain a member. "The only reason why I am standing down in that way is because I am too busy with other businesses.  We have set up a new management company with me and Martin Brundle and we have got to work on that. The BRDC takes up quite a bit of time as a voluntary role, so that's why I am standing down."

Montoya tops first session in Monaco Montoya tops first session in MonacoA fully healed Juan Montoya topped the opening practice session Thursday morning in Monaco.
 P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps
 1. 10 MONTOYA McLaren Mercedes M 1'17"152 155.848 Km/h
 2. 5 ALONSO Renault M 1'17"301 + 0'00"149
 3. 37 KLIEN RedBull Cosworth M 1'17"511 + 0'00"359
 4. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'17"640 + 0'00"488
 5. 6 FISICHELLA Renault M 1'17"869 + 0'00"717
 6. 35 WURZ McLaren Mercedes M 1'18"059 + 0'00"907
 7. 7 WEBBER Williams BMW M 1'18"244 + 0'01"092
 8. 17 R.SCHUMACHER Toyota M 1'18"482 + 0'01"330
 9. 14 COULTHARD RedBull Cosworth M 1'18"669 + 0'01"517
10. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'18"838 + 0'01"686
11. 8 HEIDFELD Williams BMW M 1'18"859 + 0'01"707
12. 9 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'19"055 + 0'01"903
13. 16 TRULLI Toyota M 1'19"255 + 0'02"103
14. 11 VILLENEUVE Sauber Petronas M 1'19"755 + 0'02"603
15. 15 LIUZZI RedBull Cosworth M 1'19"844 + 0'02"692
16. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas M 1'20"180 + 0'03"028
17. 38 ZONTA Toyota M 1'20"979 + 0'03"827
18. 39 DOORNBOS Jordan Toyota B 1'21"511 + 0'04"359
19. 20 FRIESACHER Minardi Cosworth B 1'21"968 + 0'04"816
20. 18 MONTEIRO Jordan Toyota B 1'23"271 + 0'06"119
21. 19 KARTHIKEYAN Jordan Toyota B 1'23"521 + 0'06"369
22. 21 ALBERS Minardi Cosworth B 1'25"664 + 0'08"512
DHL on Glock’s car...finally DHL on Glock’s car...finallyDHL will finally appear on Timo Glock's car this weekend.  The Rocketsports team reports that Ryan Hunter-Reay will drive the #31 Briggs & Stratton car and Timo Glock will pilot the #8 DHL machine on Mexico.

For his part, Glock hopes to make up for his recent crash at Milwaukee that had his team scrambling.  “I am really looking forward to racing in Monterrey.  I watched DVDs of the past races and the track looks very interesting and a lot of fun.  I really want to drive in Monterrey, not just for me, but for my Rocketsports team.  They worked very long hours to put both mine and Ryan’s car back together after the incidents in Milwaukee.  They did a great job getting things ready and I look forward to the opportunity to giving back to them my gratitude by performing well this weekend scoring some points and a podium finish.”

Industry News
Report Predicts 33% Growth in US Motorsport Industry Report Predicts 33% Growth in US Motorsport IndustryAccording to a USA Motorsports Report, the American motorsports industry is expected to grow from $16.5 billion in 2002 to $22 billion in 2007 -- a 33 percent increase over five years. The study, sponsored by the Indy Partnership, Hendricks County Economic Development and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was primarily focused on the state of Indiana and identified more than 400 Central Indiana motorsports companies and recognized the industry as a major area for economic development.

Recognizing the potential growth in this job market, Indiana State Governor Mitch Daniels has implemented a motorsports initiative within the newly formed Indiana Economic Development Corporation. The governor noted that even though Indiana is one of the world's largest motorsports centers, tremendous opportunities still exist for motorsports companies to locate in Indiana. Governor Daniels vowed to aggressively pursue these opportunities by meeting with industry leaders and local officials and through the IEDC create and execute both short- and long-term motorsports economic development plans including new sales tax and investment incentives to encourage growth within the industry. Partnerships will also be forged with Indiana colleges and universities in an effort to coordinate motorsports-related curriculums with the aim of developing more qualified graduates ready to enter the industry. Indiana Department of Commerce, USA Motorsports Report, Indy Partnership

NASCAR to open store on college campus NASCAR to open store on college campusA NASCAR retail store will soon open on Chicago's famed Magnificent Mile shopping district along Michigan Avenue.  The store will be located in Loyola University's Lewis Towers near the historic Water Town in central Chicago.  The store is a joint effort among the University, NASCAR and American Road Retail LLC, an Orlando company that signed an exclusive agreement with NASCAR in April.  The 2,150-square-foot store is scheduled to open by the end of May. NSSN
F1 news tidbits F1 news tidbitsMcLaren, not title dominating Renault, are Ferrari's biggest threat in the world championship, Rubens Barrichello has claimed.  ''They seem to have a very well balanced car,'' the Brazilian noted, ''that is also quick in a straight line.''  The Woking team has opted to alternate Pedro de la Rosa and Alex Wurz in the third driver role on GP weekends. The Austrian has taken over from the Spaniard, who performed Friday duties at Barcelona two weeks ago, at this weekend’s Monaco GP.


Minardi rookie Christijan Albers has denied that Friday, although a lull in Monaco action, is a day off for the F1 crowd.  ''We'll have a debrief about Thursday,'' the young Dutchman revealed, ''and - if there's any time left - I might be able to relax a little.''


BMW-Williams has penned a 'technical' deal with British technology solutions firm QinetiQ.  A statement said the collaboration aimed to unite 'the best of British expertise.'


Brazil's Emerson Fittipaldi expects Fernando Alonso to this season eclipse his 33-year-old record as the youngest ever drivers' world champion.  Now 58, he became the 1972 champion at 25, a tad younger than 1994 winner Michael Schumacher.  ''I think (Alonso) will beat my record,'' Fittipaldi told Marca, ''but the fight will be close.''


David Coulthard may no longer be a McLaren driver, but members of the Woking based team are staying in his swanky five-star 'Columbus' hotel this week.  ''They spend a lot in the bar,'' Red Bull's grand prix veteran laughed.

Franchitti: ’I wish everyone was together’ Franchitti: ’I wish everyone was together’While Sebastien Bourdais adds more luster to the race, the IRL drivers want a chance to race against the best driver from Champ Car.  "For the Indianapolis 500, the more great drivers you get in, the better it is and Sebastien is, one of those drivers," said Dan Wheldon, who has won three of the first four IRL races this year. "Any more people we can get in, the better."

His teammate, Dario Franchitti, used to race in CART before joining the IRL and is anxious to test his skills against Bourdais. "Absolutely, Sebastien is a great talent," Franchitti said. "When I watched him race in Europe, he was pretty impressive and he's a really good guy. His teammate, Bruno Junqueira, is also very fast here. I think it's nice those guys can come over.  I just wish we had everybody over here.  "It would be nice to have everyone together and we wouldn't have this, 'Who is missing and who isn't?'" National Speed Sport News

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Montoya 'ok' for Monaco
Schu denies new Ferrari deal
'Monaco not so special'
Finland's 'secret' recipe
Karthikeyan pulled over
Schu's $8m arm
Flav denies 'too old' quote
Red Bull to decide on Monday
Trulli given wings
Kimi, Fernando, wary
Webber rules out F1 win
JV could've taken F1 checker
Ferrari 'tired' - rivals
Rookies to test Minardi
Indy 500 has been drained of its magic Indy 500 has been drained of its magicThis Las Vegas Sun article says, By now, if you're one of the few who are still following what used to be the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing," the Indy 500 and Indy-car racing in general took a turn for the worse in 1996 when Indianapolis Motor Speedway chief Tony George formed his own series with the once-beloved 500 as its center piece. Ostensibly, if you believe the rhetoric, this was done to protect the sanctity and traditions of the 500, which had become the domain of the now rival and equally irrelevant CART series and its talented drivers with funny-sounding names.

Now, with the exception of Las Vegas resident Paul Tracy, the best CART teams and drivers have either defected to George's Indy Racing League or have returned to cherry-pick Indianapolis.

George's decision to start his own series was like putting a valve in the tires of open-wheel racing and letting all the air out. Maybe it would have happened anyway, but since the split, NASCAR has lapped Indy-style racing in popularity. Lapped it about a dozen times.

And as for those traditions that George promised to protect, well, they've just about gone the way of the Offenhauser engine, if Sunday's pole day qualifications on ESPN2 were any indication.  ESPN2 -- I guess that right there says a lot.

When I was growing up in Indiana, Pole Day was almost as big as the race itself, as crowds of more than 200,000 turned out to watch the world's fastest and bravest drivers pursue a "new ... track ... record," as the husky voiced public address announcer Tom Carnegie used to (and still does at age 85) bellow.

Heck, with 12 qualifying attempts and fewer cars, you could probably put your old man's Country Squire station wagon in the middle of the eighth row at today's Indy.

IRL reporter arrested in Hit-And-Run IRL reporter arrested in Hit-And-RunUPDATE #3 Another reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com: Ok, so now we have proof that the IRL is buying influence with one member of the "objective" press. Are there additional persons or organizations who purport themselves to be legitimate media sources but have also been purchased by the IRL?  Who can I trust in the realm of hard news related to racing?  Why are other media sources not investigating this?  Who else received a truck, money, et al. from the IRL?  Given that the IRL is obviously corrupt in this area of its business dealings, can we assume that all other areas are squeaky clean? Mark Lee, Cincinnati, OH Dear Mark, It's interesting that we published this article on this very subject recently. Mark C.  05/18/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Why was a reporter, who is supposed to be neutral, given a car (i.e. a special favor) to drive by the Speedway?  And then he totals it.  This is ridiculous. Dave Jones, LA, CA. 05/17/05 This WishTV article reveals more on the Bruce Martin incident with the IMS Indy Pace Car vehicle. The car he was driving was totaled. It’s easy to spot the bright yellow pace vehicles around town. The 2005 Chevy SSR's are event cars for this year’s Indy 500 and the Month of May festivities.

Police spotted Bruce Martin, a freelance racing journalist, a contributing editor to ESPN.com and other publications, driving one of the cars around 3:00am. A sheriff's deputy chased Martin west on Kessler and 56th Street for two miles.

The police report says Martin's pace vehicle, assigned to him for the month, was dragging one of its front tires underneath it with sparks flying. The two-mile pursuit ended on West 56th Street, but Martin refused to get out of the car. One deputy broke out a window and used a taser on him. He then failed a field sobriety test registering 0.22, nearly three times the legal limit for alcohol.

“He's facing resisting law enforcement, public intoxication and operating a vehicle while intoxicated,” said Captain Phil Burton, Marion County Sheriff’s Dept.

The manufacturer (Chevy) loans the cars to respected and trusted high-profile individuals. The speedway says it has input as to who receives them [Editor's Note: Martin is one of the IRL's biggest supporters and for years wrote pro-IRL and anti-CART articles, though more recently his reporting was more balanced. No doubt the vehicle was given to him as a payback from the IRL for all the good PR]. “It is a risk in providing support vehicles like this. In any event you run that risk. This is not a new program. It's been going on for years. There is a risk involved in providing cars to individuals,” said Ron Green, IMS spokesperson. Martin allegedly told police he'd been drinking in Broad Ripple. After that, authorities say he was involved in a hit and run accident at Westfield and Kessler which damaged the car, totaling it.

Martin was released from jail without bond around noon. If convicted he faces up to six years in jail and $25,000 in fines. The Speedway says Martin’s car has been returned to the manufacturer (Returned Totaled. Chevy must be fuming).

05/17/05 An IRL and NASCAR reporter for National Speed Sport News has been arrested in Indianapolis for allegedly fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident while intoxicated.   According to a police report 46-year-old Bruce Martin of Mooresville, North Carolina, was driving a courtesy pickup truck with an Indianapolis Motor Speedway plate about 3 a.m. this morning [Editor's Note:  How come a reporter gets the use of an IMS vehicle?  Payment for all the positive IRL stories?].   The report says Martin struck the rear of a car driven by 25-year-old Melissa Yarger of Lafayette at the intersection of Kessler Blvd. and Westfield Blvd. He was later arrested by Marion County Sheriff's deputies on the west side of town.   The pickup truck sustained heavy front-end damage.  Martin writes for National Speed Sport News Magazine and is a writer for other sports organizations including ESPN.  Police say he had a blood alcohol content greater than 0.15. Booking information also shows that Martin has a suspended drivers license. wibc.com
Pamela Anderson Named Grand Marshal for All-Star Challenge Pamela Anderson Named Grand Marshal for All-Star ChallengeNextel Communications announced today that actress Pamela Anderson will serve as Grand Marshal for Saturday's NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway. R&B singer and Charlotte native Anthony Hamilton will sing the National Anthem for the event. Pete McCole
Industry News
SPEED Channel to Latin America SPEED Channel to Latin AmericaFox International Channels announced today the launch of two basic networks in Latin America. SPEED Channel, the network dedicated 100 percent to motor sports and car-themed programming, will be the first to launch, on July 1, throughout Latin America and Brazil.

SPEED Channel is one of the most successful single-sport channels in the US in terms of ratings and distribution, and has a strong relationship with NASCAR. In Latin America, viewers are familiar with SPEED Channel's first-rate programming through the availability of the US feed in certain systems in Mexico and the FX SPEED block on the FX channel.

Fox Life is the second-most watched entertainment channel on Sky Italy (right after Fox). Targeted to Women 18-49, Fox Life will bring a mix of comedy, drama, movies and unscripted programming with Fox attitude and female sensibility. Everything that FX in Latin America is to men, Fox Life will be to women.

Fox Life will launch on the fourth quarter of 2005, as will another basic channel, details of which will be unveiled shortly.

"Successful channels travel well - FX is now the highest-rated entertainment channel targeted to men in the UK, and has already established itself as a distinct brand in Latin America. We expect the same success rate bringing SPEED Channel and Fox Life to the Latin audiences, helped by the promotional machine given by Fox, NatGeo and well as our sister channels, Universal and Fox Sports", said Hernan Lopez, President, Fox Latin America Channels and Managing Director, Fox Channels UK.

"Delivering SPEED Channel programming to areas of the world rich in motor sports tradition is a natural progression for the network," said SPEED Channel Vice President, Business Development & Operations Kevin Annison. "We are happy to work with our friends at Fox International Channels to expand the SPEED Channel brand into Latin America, making it available to some of the most passionate race fans on the planet."

FX, launched in Brazil in January 2005 and in Latin America in April, is expected to end the year with 7 million homes.

Police rap Narain for speeding Police rap Narain for speedingFormula One driver Narain Karthikeyan got into trouble on two wheels in Monaco on Wednesday. The 28-year-old was pulled over by police after doing a lap of the Mediterranean principality’s street circuit on a scooter at a time when parts of the track were closed to traffic. "The cops are not very happy,” grinned the Jordan driver after returning to the paddock. “They wanted my license so I gave them my Indian racing license.”

A household name in India as the country’s first Formula One driver, but as yet an unknown in Monaco, Karthikeyan escaped with a warning: “They said ‘Okay, please next time try and respect the rules or whatever.” The Telegraph

Ferrari drivers meet the press in Monaco Ferrari drivers meet the press in MonacoThe setting might be more glamorous than usual, the day before first practice might be a Wednesday instead of Thursday, but here in Monaco, the routine is the same for the two Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro drivers, as they began their official weekend engagements by meeting the media in the Ferrari motorhome, located on the side of the most famous harbor in the world.

Rubens Barrichello was the first to face the press and had to deal with the usual requests to make predictions about Sunday’s race. “I like meeting you all before the weekend begins,” laughed the Brazilian. “But before we have even been out on track, don’t ask me to predict the result, especially as much of this track has been resurfaced.” The Ferrari man went on to explain why he was in a positive mood about this race: “I think there were several circumstances that affected our last race in Barcelona, specifically that the conditions did not favor us in the way they had done during private testing. So, I prefer to look back to Imola, where we were competitive. The car we have now is better than the one we had there.”

Much has been said about the Scuderia’s difficulties in getting the Bridgestone tires to work well when new, over one quick lap for qualifying and Barrichello admitted this had so far been their weak point. “But we can be positive, because in recent testing we have made some progress in this area, so I am confident that we must think that we have a chance of a win.”

As for the opposition, apart from the fact that Renault won the first four races, Barrichello does not see the Anglo-French team as his main rivals. “McLaren has always been strong here,” he said. “I see them as the main threat in the championship, as they seem to have a very well balanced car that is also quick in a straight line.”

Michael Schumacher’s first job was to explain the results of recent private testing: “We worked on a bit of everything,” said the world champion. “We looked at aerodynamics, electronics and tires.” As for the task of trying to win here in the Principality, Michael summed it up as “difficult but not impossible. Renault and McLaren are currently very strong, but here in Monaco, we have an exceptional race in terms of what it demands from a car. In the past, Renault has been very strong here but not elsewhere and maybe this time, Toyota and Williams could also be strong this weekend.” Then came the usual question about tire performance over a single lap. “We know this is our weak point,” said the German, repeating his team-mate’s comment. “But we have worked hard and improved in this area. We face a tough challenge here but we are ready for it.” Schumacher agreed a good grid position was very important on this tight track. ”But it is not mega-important to be on pole. We saw in Imola, that even from 13th on the grid, you can make up positions in the race and even here you can do that.” But, given his poor start to the season, had Schumacher given up hope of retaining his title crown? “No, but it will be difficult,” he admitted. “But it is a long season with 14 races to go, so 140 points on offer. We will have to wait and see if we can do it.”

Finally, the German was asked about rumors that he entered “serious” negotiations regarding an extension to his contract that expires in 2006. “Every weekend you ask me this!” he joked with the journalists. “It is either because the rumor says I am going to retire or because I am going to stay on. There is nothing to tell you yet. But keep asking the question, because one weekend there will be an answer!” Ferrari

Monaco Wednesday press conference Monaco Wednesday press conferenceThe Wednesday FIA press conference, with David Coulthard (Red Bull), Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) and Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber). Transcript
Poll: Favorite race at Indy Motor Speedway Poll: Favorite race at Indy Motor SpeedwayThe State of Indiana official website has a poll asking readers what's their favorite race at the Indy Motor Speedway, the Indy 500, the Brickyard 400 or the USGP. Sadly, the Indy 500 is running a distant third - further evidence the IRL is destroying this once great race.

Wednesday practice speeds at Indy Wednesday practice speeds at IndyIRL IndyCar® Series points leader Dan Wheldon recorded the fastest lap during practice May 18 as teams' preparation for the 89th Indianapolis 500 turned to race setups.  Most of the 22 qualified drivers in the field turned laps on a busy day on the 2.5-mile oval. Wheldon's best lap in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone was clocked at 39.5918 seconds, 227.320 mph, during the afternoon as several cars ran in tight packs.

MBNA Pole Award winner Tony Kanaan was second fastest at 39.7372 seconds, 226.488 mph, in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Adrian Fernandez was third-fastest at 39.7156 seconds, 226.042 mph in the No. 5 Investment Properties of America Panoz/Honda/Firestone.  Kenny Brack and Jimmy Kite turned their first laps of the month. Brack was seventh fastest in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda Firestone with a lap of 39.8628 seconds, 225.774, fastest of the non-qualified drivers.  Teams turned 2,499 incident-free laps on the busiest practice day of the month. The previous high was 1,717 laps on May 12.

Practice Wednesday for the 89th Indianapolis 500 IRL IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine and speed:

1. (26) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 227.320
2. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 226.488
3. (5) Adrian Fernandez, Panoz-Honda, 226.042
4. (55T) Kosuke Matsuura, Panoz-Honda, 225.989
5. (3T) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Toyota, 225.976
6. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 225.865
7. (15) Kenny Brack, Panoz-Honda, 225.774
8. (8T) Scott Sharp, Panoz-Honda, 225.410
9. (16T) Danica Patrick, Panoz-Honda, 225.260
10. (17T) Vitor Meira, Panoz-Honda, 225.098
11. (7) Bryan Herta, Dallara-Honda, 224.710
12. (95) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Chevrolet, 224.621
13. (4T) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Chevrolet, 224.428
14. (6T) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Toyota, 224.090
15. (2T) Tomas Enge, Dallara-Chevrolet, 223.704
16. (70) Richie Hearn, Panoz-Chevrolet, 223.498
17. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Toyota, 223.075
18. (33T) Ryan Briscoe, Panoz-Toyota, 222.408
19. (21) Jaques Lazier, Panoz-Toyota, 221.972
20. (83T) Patrick Carpentier, Dallara-Toyota, 220.898
21. (10T) Darren Manning, Panoz-Toyota, 220.768
22. (51T) Alex Barron, Dallara-Toyota, 220.515
23. (25) Marty Roth, Dallara-Chevrolet, 220.377
24. (14) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Toyota, 220.209
25. (48T) Larry Foyt, Panoz-Toyota, 220.176
26. (91) Jimmy Kite, Dallara-Toyota, 219.266
27. (24T) Roger Yasukawa, Dallara-Honda, 219.152
28. (20T) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Toyota, 217.983
29. (22) Jeff Ward, Dallara-Toyota, 216.636

Monterrey qualifying kicks off Champ Car on SPEED Monterrey qualifying kicks off Champ Car on SPEEDThe Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford picks up the pace on the 2005 season with Sunday’s Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix Presented by Roshfrans, but SPEED Channel viewers will get an early glimpse of the action with Saturday’s Bridgestone Pole Qualifying Show.

The Bridgestone Pole Qualifying Show will accompany SPEED Channel’s coverage of eight of this season’s Champ Car events, and will provide viewers with highlights from both Friday and Saturday qualifying sessions along with interviews and coverage of the $10,000 Bridgestone Pole Award presentation. Bridgestone developed a new pole award for Champ Car competition in 2005, awarding $10,000 ($5,000 for the driver and $5,000 to charity) for each of the 14 race poles with a $30,000 award given at the end of the season to the driver and $10,000 to the driver’s chief mechanic with the most pole positions during the season.

“Sponsoring the Champ Car Bridgestone Pole Qualifying Show is a natural extension for us as sponsors this year of the Bridgestone Pole Award,” said Al Speyer, Executive Director of Bridgestone Motorsport. “Qualifying is the most exciting segment of a race weekend next to the race itself, and we're pleased that the qualifying show will bring that action into the homes of SPEED Channel viewers and serve as an excellent preview to the SPEED Channel race broadcasts themselves.”

In seven of the eight Champ Car races on SPEED Channel, the 30-minute qualifying show will air directly before Sunday’s Champ Car race coverage, with the exception being this weekend’s broadcast of qualifying in Monterrey, Mexico, which will be shown Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time

"SPEED Channel has been looking forward to Champ Car's return to the network since the deal was announced," said Rick Miner, SPEED Channel SVP Programming/Production and Executive Producer. "Opening with a qualifying special from the Monterrey Grand Prix this weekend, SPEED will deliver eight races, including 30-minute qualifying shows, to some of the most passionate fans in motor sports."

The dates and times of the qualifying shows airing on SPEED Channel are listed below:
May 21 – Monterrey, Mexico 8:30 -9:00PM
July 17 - Edmonton, Canada 2:30- 3:00PM
July 31 - San Jose, Calif. 4:00- 4:30PM
Aug. 14 - Denver, Colo. 3:00- 3:30PM
Sept. 25 - Las Vegas, Nev. 3:00- 3:30PM
Oct. 16 - Ansan, Korea 9:30- 10:00PM
Oct. 23 - Surfers Paradise, Australia 4:00- 4:30PM
Nov. 6 - Mexico City, Mexico 3:00- 3:30PM Champ Car

Fox ratings up for year Fox ratings up for yearFox is averaging a 6.2/14 rating through the Dodge Charger 500 at Darlington Raceway, up 5.1% from a 5.9/14 through the same period last year. Races are designated as day (D) or night (N) starts. Where two letters are used, the time of the race changed from ’04 to ’05, and the first denotes the time of the race in ’05.  More....
Bass Pro Shops joins Rocketsports Bass Pro Shops joins RocketsportsRocketsports Racing has announced that Bass Pro Shops, America’s Great Outdoor Store, will be an associate sponsor for the 2005 season. Bass Pro Shops will back Rocketsports in both the Champ Car World Series and the Trans-Am series. Look for the famous Bass Pro Shops logo on the Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone/Lolas driven by series veteran Ryan Hunter-Reay and former Formula One driver Timo Glock in the Bridgestone Present the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford and the Jaguars driven by four-time series champion Paul Gentilozzi, Klaus Graf and Tomy Drissi in the Trans-Am road racing series.

The Springfield, Missouri based outdoor retailer started in 1972 and has grown into 27 outdoor mega-stores throughout the United States and Canada. Bass Pro Shops is the nation’s leading retailer of outdoor gear with 75 million outdoor enthusiasts passing through their doors every year. They are also a huge internet and catalog retailer with millions of customers shopping their www.basspro.com site and ordering through their catalogs annually.

Visiting Bass Pro Shops or attending a Champ Car races are events in themselves. Gorgeous waterfalls, giant aquariums, incredible wildlife mounts, delicious food and more make Bass Pro Shops stores a must-see attraction for sporting families around the world. Fast exotic open-wheel racecars, live concerts, and giant product exhibitions make attending Champ Car events a must see for the whole family.

“Rocketsports is proud to bring Bass Pro Shops into the worlds of Champ Car and Trans-Am,” said Rocketsports owner, Gentilozzi. “Bass Pro Shops has a long association with NASCAR and the teams of Dale Earnhardt Incorporated and Richard Childress Racing. We feel that we will introduce Bass Pro Shops to new customers in North America and around the world.”

Industry News
Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking Weekly Top 20 Driver RankingSPEED Channel Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking.  Updated 5-18-05
Pos. (LW) Driver (Series) Pts
 1. (1) Fernando Alonso (F1) 11.508
 2. (2) Sebastien Bourdais (CCWS) 9.040
 3. (3) Dan Wheldon (IRL) 8.912
 4. (5) Bruno Junqueira (CCWS) 7.784
 5. (7) Greg Biffle (NASCAR) 7.511
 6. (8) Kimi Raikkonen (F1) 7.404
 7. (17) Tony Stewart (NASCAR) 7.173
 8. (16) Kasey Kahne (NASCAR) 7.069
 9. (22) Kevin Harvick (NASCAR) 7.061
10. (13) Ryan Newman (NASCAR) 7.034
11. (18) Elliott Sadler (NASCAR) 6.895
12. (11) Jamie McMurray (NASCAR) 6.884
13. (10) Jarno Trulli (F1) 6.813
14. (14) Paul Tracy (CCWS) 6.735
15. () Michael Waltrip (NASCAR) 6.646
16. (15) Tony Kanaan (IRL) 6.629
17. (NR) Kurt Busch (NASCAR) 6.594
18. (12) Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR) 6.508
19. (NR) Jeremy Mayfield (NASCAR) 6.251
20. (9) Mark Martin (NASCAR) 6.215
Last week's ranking in parenthesis
Provided by STATS Inc.
Historic GP
Rahal To Get Behind The Wheel of Ex-Carlos Pace 1974 Brabham BT-44 Rahal To Get Behind The Wheel of Ex-Carlos Pace 1974 Brabham BT-44Watkins Glen International announced today that the 1986 Indy 500 winner and 3-time CART champion Bobby Rahal, will be living out his “young racer fantasy,” driving this iconic Brabham at The Glen during the newly titled Zippo Historic Grand Prix (HGP). This race will be held during the Inaugural Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Argent Mortgage, September 23-25.  Rahal was a young Formula Atlantic competitor at The Glen in 1974 and was awestruck by the Gordon Murray-designed Brabham BT-44s.  Carlos Reutemann won from pole that year and teammate Carlos Pace was second.  John Watson was fifth in the hexagon entered BT-44.

“I was completely taken with those cars and the whole team,” stated Rahal.  “I was so impressed with Carlos Reutemann that I adopted his helmet design with different colors.  To drive this car at Watkins Glen is proof that dreams DO come true . . .  sometimes.” 

Over 30 authentic Formula One cars will be returning to The Glen to return to the legendary U.S. Grand Prix course at Watkins Glen International.  Tickets are still available for this four-race weekend and can be obtained by calling 866-461-RACE or by visiting www.TheGlen.com.   Of particular interest in the Zippo HGP entry is the 1978 Lotus 79 John Player Special driven to the World Championship that year by Mario Andretti.  The immaculately prepared car is currently owned by Duncan Dayton of North Salem, NY.  He will be a serious contender for the Zippo HGP win.  Competition for the win should come from Charles Nearburg of Dallas, TX in the ex-Alan Jones 1980 Williams FW07B including Bobby Rahal in the ex-Carlos Pace 1974 Brabham BT-44.

Champ Car baseball night Champ Car baseball nightThe Akron Aeros (The Cleveland Indians AA Farm Club) is having Champ Car Night on June 22nd in order to promote the Champ car World Series race the following weekend...AJ Allmendinger and Ryan Hunter-Reay will be on hand for a "meet and greet" session.
Groups to fight NASCAR HOF tax Groups to fight NASCAR HOF taxTwo groups of N.C. hotel operators say they'll aggressively fight Charlotte's plan to own and operate a NASCAR Hall of Fame, arguing city officials can't be trusted to spend state money wisely.
The Hospitality Alliance of North Carolina and the N.C. Hotel and Lodging Association want state appointees to run the proposed $137.5 million museum, rather than Charlotte officials.

The push by the two hotel groups might not be enough to change or delay Charlotte's plan, which is backed by some of the state's most powerful lawmakers. But it ends the united public front Charlotte and N.C. officials have presented to lure NASCAR to the state. Several cities are running well-financed campaigns to win the project, including Atlanta and Kansas City. Proposals are due May 31.

Jim Hobbs, a lobbyist for the hotel groups, argues Charlotte has spent other hotel tax money unwisely, including the decision to pay for an uptown arena that voters didn't support.

The lobbyist said he's seeking state oversight because he wants strict controls on how the money is spent. Mecklenburg would be the state's first county to charge more than a 6 percent occupancy tax for hotel and motel rooms, and hoteliers he represents don't want other local governments following suit. Charlotte wants to boost Mecklenburg's occupancy tax from 6 percent to 8 percent.

Tim Newman, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, said he considers Hobbs' concerns "more of a speed bump than a roadblock," although he acknowledged concerns about all the money going to the hall of fame.

Charlotte's effort to get the state to sign off on $65 million in new hotel taxes and $20 million in cash and other subsidies gets its first formal airing in a N.C. Senate committee today. The rest of the money in Charlotte's hall of fame plan would come from current hotel taxes and private companies. Charlotte Observer

It’s official: Brack to replace Rice It’s official: Brack to replace RiceBuddy Rice was hired by Rahal Letterman Racing initially as the substitute for injured driver Kenny Brack before the 2004 IndyCar Series season. Now, Brack is returning the favor for the 89th Indianapolis 500. (Right, Kenny Brack congratulates Buddy Rice in last year's Indy 500 Winner's Circle.  Buddy replaced Kenny for the 2004 Indy 500.)

The team announced the 1998 IndyCar Series champion and 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner will attempt to qualify May 21 for the 500-Mile Race. Press Conference Transcript

Rice, the defending Indianapolis 500 champion who suffered a concussion and back contusions in a single-car crash in Turn 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice May 11 in his No. 15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda/Panoz/ Firestone, was not cleared to drive by Dr. Henry Bock, senior director of medical services for the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Brack has not driven in an IndyCar Series race since suffering injuries in a crash in the 2003 season finale at Texas Motor Speedway.

Bock said further evaluation of Rice discovered a partially torn spinal ligament in his mid- to lower neck that is essential to maintaining the alignment of the spine. Doctors have recommended rest and rehabilitation and Rice will be re-assessed in about three weeks. Rice will continue his rehabilitation in the Indianapolis area for the next two weeks.

“Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed that I won’t be able to defend my Indy 500 championship,” said Rice, who won the race from the pole position. “I have spent the last several months thinking about, working towards and planning how I would defend my Indy 500 victory. Physically I feel fine, but I have to trust the Speedway and IRL medical team because they are looking out for my safety.

"I am optimistic that I will be cleared for Texas (June 9-11) and will be able to get back in the car. I plan to stay here in Indy and help our team in anyway I can. I think this team can win the Borg-Warner Trophy again and I hope I can assist them in accomplishing that goal.” Indy Car

Champ Car take note Champ Car take noteWe have heard from Champ Car fans that live on the Texas-Mexico border and learned that Champ Car would be very wise to promote the race in the South Texas area (i.e. Rio Grande Valley, Laredo).  We hear there is little or no effort being made there.  Most people in that area have no clue this type of event exists.  Monterrey is only a three hour drive from there and that area is starved for world class sports.  Very popular among local sports fans is Mexican soccer, in particular teams from Monterrey.  There have even been top level Mexican exhibition soccer matches held in the area.  We see no reason why Champ Car could not begin to tap into these fans which already have an ear towards sports in Mexico or other fans that can appreciate world class events.   On another note, Mexico's TV Azteca will be showing the race live based on the cable guide's listings for Sunday.
Diamonds can be a man's best friend too Diamonds can be a man's best friend tooDuring the Monaco Grand Prix weekend McLaren drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Räikkönen will be wearing the most expensive helmets of their class. Their helmets will feature their name in diamonds on it, sponsored by McLaren's new partner Steinmetz.  Today, Wednesday, both Räikkönen and team mate Montoya had their special Monaco helmets presented by the beautiful Natasja Vermeer, star of the HBO series Emmanuelle. After the race, the helmets will be auctioned and all the proceeds will go to charities chosen by the drivers and the Team.
Briatore says Schumacher too old Briatore says Schumacher too oldRenault managing director Flavio Briatore says 36-year-old Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher is the oldest in this year's competition and has made a poor start, trailing Fernando Alonso by 34 points. "I admire his successes - I celebrated his first world title with him 11 years ago, but he's too old," Briatore said. Briatore cast question marks over Schumacher's desire for more success, even pointing to last season's march to the championship. "Last season, while Michael was driving from victory to victory, I didn't have the impression that he was enjoying himself much," he observed.
Rice to miss Indy 500 Rice to miss Indy 500UPDATE Reminder, his replacement will be announced today. 05/17/05 Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice will not compete in the 89th Indianapolis 500 on May 29 due to an injury sustained in a practice crash earlier this month.  Rice was injured May 11 in a single-car accident in Turn 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as he prepared for the Indianapolis 500. Rice sustained a concussion and a severe back contusion.

According to Dr. Henry Bock, Indy Racing League and Indianapolis Motor Speedway senior director of medical services, further evaluation of Rice revealed a partially torn spinal ligament in his mid to lower neck area. The ligament is essential to maintaining the alignment of the spine.

Doctors have recommended rest and rehabilitation, and Rice will be re-assessed in approximately three weeks.

"Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed that I won't be able to defend my Indy 500 championship," Rice said. "I have spent the last several months thinking about, working toward and planning how I would defend my Indy 500 victory. Physically, I feel fine, but I have to trust the Speedway and IRL medical team because they are looking out for my safety. I am optimistic that I will be cleared for Texas and will be able to get back in the car. I plan to stay here in Indy and help our team in anyway I can.

"I think this team can win the Borg-Warner Trophy again, and I hope I can assist them in accomplishing that goal."

Said Bobby Rahal, team co-owner and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner: "This has been a difficult obstacle for Buddy. Our first concern is that he recover physically from the accident, and we have been assured by Dr. Bock that in this case that the time off will be the solution. Our intent is to move forward over the next two weeks with a replacement driver who will qualify and race the No. 15 Argent/Pioneer Honda car."

Rahal Letterman Racing will announce its plans for the No. 15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda/Panoz/Firestone entry in a press conference Wednesday, May 18, at 9:30 a.m. (local time) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Trackside Conference Room.  IRL  [Editor's Note: The high cost of racing open wheel cars on oval tracks manifests itself in many ways.  Not only is there a significant cost for damaged equipment, there's a high price to pay for human injury.  The list of injured IRL drivers over the years has been well documented on these pages.  Some feel that's part of the allure of Indy, the mystique - a driver flirting with death and conquering it.  At least that was the old school of thought.] 

Kite to replace injured Dana Kite to replace injured DanaJimmy Kite will be looking to make his fifth career start in the Indianapolis 500 this weekend when he attempts to qualify the No. 91 Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone for the 89th running of the event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Kite will drive for the injured Paul Dana, who suffered a fractured spine during an incident in practice last Friday.     Kite, 29, from Stockbridge, Ga., finished 13th in the Indianapolis 500 in 2003.  He also qualified for the race in 1998, 1999 and 2000.  He is currently in his rookie season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and, for the last three years, has competed in the United States Auto Club (USAC) Silver Crown Series.  "Over the years, Hemelgarn Racing has built a great heritage at Indianapolis and I am honored to be asked to drive the car at Indy," Kite said.  "I know Paul really wants to be in the car and I am going to do my best to make everyone associated Team Ethanol proud of our effort."    Team officials indicated Kite will be in the car when practice resumes at the Speedway on Wednesday.   "I am excited to have Jimmy part of our team as the substitute driver for Paul Dana in the No. 91 Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing car," said Ron Hemelgarn, owner of the team.  "I have known Jimmy since the late 1990s and he has always done a great job here at Indy.  He is truly a driver that deserves a break.  We can't wait to get him on the track and we are looking for a great showing from the Ethanol car at this year's race.”
IRL opening NY office IRL opening NY officeThe Indy Racing League is opening an office in New York City, just a few blocks from NASCAR’s office.   Smart move.
Atlantic: Monterrey preview Atlantic: Monterrey previewUnless Estonian-born racer Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK ind./TMI/Redline Oil) has his way this weekend, a rookie driver will win Round 2 of the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama at the Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans, May 20-22 (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel - Saturday, May 28 at 2 p.m. ET).  Kasemets enters this weekend’s action as the only non-rookie in the Atlantic field, making the odds pretty favorable that a first-year driver will capture the checkered flag Sunday at the 12-turn, 2.104-mile Fundidora Park permanent road circuit. But even Kasemets, who currently resides in Mundelein, Illinois, has not made a start in his Atlantic career in Monterrey.

Only three drivers in this weekend’s field have a history of racing in Monterrey, but all of those competitors certainly do have a chance to make the most of their experience in an effort to find their way to Victory Circle on Sunday. Canadian rookie Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design) of Polestar Racing Group is coming off a second-place finish in the Atlantic season opener at Long Beach in April. After pacing both rounds of qualifying, winning his first Atlantic pole and leading the first 26 laps of the race in Long Beach, Bessette saw his Polestar teammate - Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing) wrestle away the lead over the final three laps for her first series victory. Bessette finished half-a-second behind Legge and trails her by a single point in the championship standings (32-31) entering Round 2. Bessette can search his memory banks for an advantage this weekend, however, as he ran in Monterrey with the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2003. After qualifying third that season, Bessette went on to finish 13th in the race after suffering some damage during a first-lap accident.

One of the newest addition to the ’05 Atlantic lineup, Mexican racer David Martinez (#32 Roshfrans), is another driver with experience in Monterrey and he’s proven that he knows how to get up front and stay there at the Fundidora Park circuit. After making his lone Atlantic start at Monterrey with Condor Motorsports in 2002 while finishing 15th, Martinez also competed in the same Barber Dodge Pro Series event as Bessette in 2003. Martinez had a dream weekend at that race, qualifying second and overtaking polesitter Leo Maia for lead on Lap 1. He led every lap en route to his lone Barber Dodge victory that season in front of the raucous fans in his hometown of Monterrey. In his debut for the US RaceTronics team this weekend, Martinez hopes to recapture a little bit of that old magic.

Fellow Mexican Memo Rojas (#10 Telmex) is final driver in this weekend’s field with Monterrey experience. Rojas also raced in the ’03 Barber Dodge event and produced a podium result coming in third place, just under half-a-second behind Martinez and Maia, who finished second. Competing for the Brooks Associates Racing team, Rojas will look to run up front again in Monterrey in his first Atlantic start on Sunday.

Of course all eyes will also be on Legge, the series leader who recorded the first-ever, major open-wheel racing win for a woman in North America at Long Beach last month. She demonstrated the ability to focus and, after coming from seventh position to take the checkered flag in Round 1, she proved she could make up ground quickly on a course that’s new to her. The British ace will need to show those same qualities this weekend as she looks to maintain her championship lead and make it two wins in a row to start the season.

Running for Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis, Kasemets ran well in qualifying at Long Beach before contact in Turn 1 and an electrical problem brought his season debut to an abrupt ending. Kasemets is anxious to get back to it this weekend as he looks to make up for a frustrating 15th-place finish in Round 1.

Brooks Associates Racing’s Andreas Wirth (#8 KBE/Profine/Wurges Windows and Doors) will also be rooting for a rebound in Monterrey. Wirth, the German rookie who captured the Formula BMW USA title in 2004, started second in Round 1 but never made it through Turn 1 in the race after mixing it up with another competitor at the green flag. It’s safe to say he’s hoping for continued speed but a better result this weekend.

Dutch driver Charles Zwolsman (#11 Condor Motorsports) will look to build on an impressive performance in Long Beach as he makes his first Monterrey start. The rookie appeared to have earned the Long Beach pole position before his car failed a post-qualifying technical inspection. Coming from the very back of the pack following the infraction on race day, Zwolsman diced his way through the field, eventually finishing third for his first Atlantic podium result.

First-year championship entrants Kyle Kelley (#24 UP Racing.com/Pauline's Antiques/Toyota of Huntington Beach/T. Christy), Tom Nastasi (#23 USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools) and Ben Johnston (#96 Win Fuel/TrimSpa/Media Brokers International) will also be seeing their first action in Monterrey. The 19-year-old Kelley had a solid series debut, finishing eighth at Long Beach, and he will try to improve on that result Sunday when he lines up for McAtee Motorsports. Both Nastasi and Johnston, teammates for Blackforest Motorsports, experienced mechanical problems on race day in Long Beach as each driver did not take the green flag. Both racers are back and ready to go at it again in Round 2.

American Adam Pecorari (#2 Konica Minolta/Penn Capital) will see his first action in Monterrey this weekend as he makes his ’05 Atlantic debut. The 20-year-old Pecorari competed in the final two events of the 2004 season for Jensen Motorsport and the talented young racer returns with the Jensen team this weekend. Toyota Atlantic

Wilkesboro and Charlotte HOF Location Wilkesboro and Charlotte HOF LocationWilkes County leaders have started a campaign to get NASCAR to pick North Wilkesboro Speedway as the site of its proposed Hall of Fame.  "We just thought it would be a shame not to have a chance to have this in Wilkes County, where NASCAR has its roots," said Bert Hall, a town of North Wilkesboro commissioner. "NASCAR has abandoned a lot of the smaller tracks, and it might be a chance to redeem itself."  Hall and N.C. Rep. Tracy Walker, R-Wilkes, sent their proposal in an e-mail Friday and followed it up yesterday with letters to Gov. Mike Easley and track owners Bruton Smith and Bob Bahre. Hall and Walker asked for face-to-face meetings. Winston Salem-Journal
25 Governors Declare NASCAR Day 25 Governors Declare NASCAR DayNASCAR Day is receiving national support in 2005, as 25 Governors' Offices from across the United States are expected to officially proclaim May 20 as NASCAR Day in their respective states.  NASCAR Day is the largest annual charity event of NASCAR. For a $5 donation, fans can purchase a NASCAR Day lapel pin and have the option of wearing their favorite NASCAR apparel to work on May 20. All proceeds go to the three NASCAR Day designated charities -- Speedway Children's Charities, Victory Junction Gang Camp, and Speediatrics. Fans may participate by visiting NASCAR.com and following the link to NASCAR Day. Pins are also available at all AutoZone stores nationwide and all SunTrust Bank branches in the southeast. NASCAR
Industry News
Judge Denies Case for Bruton Smith Judge Denies Case for Bruton SmithThe U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling that said auto racing and car dealership magnate Bruton Smith had no basis to sue the federal government over his loss of millions of dollars in the 1990 failure of North Carolina Federal Savings and Loan.  The high court's decision, filed Monday without any additional comment on the case, likely brings to a close the 13-year-old suit, in which Smith sought $28 million in damages and $3 million in restitution.  Smith, 78, is chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns Lowe's Motor Speedway outside Charlotte and five other NASCAR tracks, as well as Sonic Automotive Inc., with 195 automotive retail franchises and 40 collision repair centers nationally. Star-Telegram
Trial Beings on Drunk Driver that killed NASCAR Crew Chief Wife Trial Beings on Drunk Driver that killed NASCAR Crew Chief WifeA man involved in a 2003 wreck on Interstate 40 that left three Davie County sisters dead appeared to have been under the influence of alcohol, witnesses testified during the first day of testimony in the man's trial yesterday.  Jeffrey Niles McFayden is charged with driving while impaired and three counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Tara Howell Parker, 29; Mysti Howell Poplin, 24; and their half sister, Megan Elizabeth Howell, 16. Parker was married to Shawn Parker, who was a NASCAR crew chief. Winston Salem-Journal
Industry News
Trouble at Action; cuts out distributors Trouble at Action; cuts out distributorsShares of Action Performance, the Phoenix-based auto racing merchandiser, crashed 21% to $9.35 on Tuesday after it swung to a loss and suspended the quarterly dividend. "The market for die-cast collectibles is soft and a lot of it is Action's own fault," says Dennis McAlpine, a principal at the independent research boutique McAlpine Associates. "It flooded the market to keep sales going. Action saturated it with new versions of the same things. Instead of one Jeff Gordon #24 car with one paint scheme, it put out four or five paint schemes to get the collectors to buy them all, and it outlasted the collectors' ability to buy." In addition to the metal replicas of NASCAR cars, Action markets t-shirts, hats and other racing memorabilia. It blamed the disappointing results on lower sales of die-cast collectibles to mass merchandisers and, to a lesser extent, lower apparel sales to wholesalers. Domestic sales of die-cast cars fell 21% to $23.8 million, with the biggest area of weakness in the mass merchandise space, where sales plunged 43% to $7.8 million. Apparel sales slid 7% to $30.5 million, driven by a decline in sales of Jeff Gordon merchandise.  Action recently announced plans to cut out distributors, keeping their cut for itself. It's also trying to restore its product's appeal by limiting supply, in the hope that the resulting scarcity will restore prices. Sources indicate Action will retain a key merchandising contract with racing star Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The deal, which expires at the end of the year, accounts for 26% of the company's revenues. Smartmoney
Gordon offers Dakar seat to Armstrong Gordon offers Dakar seat to ArmstrongRobby Gordon has invited cyclist Lance Armstrong to ride with him during the Dakar Rally. The rally, perhaps the most grueling event in motor sports, begins Dec. 31 and lasts two weeks. Off-road vehicles will race from Portugal to the city of Dakar in Senegal, a country on the west coast of North Africa. Along the way, drivers will bounce through terrain that ranges from mountains to deserts. The rally is organized by a company called ASO, which also organizes the Tour de France. Armstrong will retire after trying to win his seventh Tour next month. In an interview with Velo, a French cycling magazine, that was excerpted on the English-language velonews.com Web site, Armstrong said of Gordon's invitation, "I get propositions like this all the time, and it could be an interesting program for Discovery." Armstrong's cycling team is sponsored by the Discovery Channel. USA Today
Wallace Busy Wallace BusyRusty spent all day Monday (May 16) doing promotional work in the Chicago area. Among the activities he enjoyed was throwing the first pitch at the Chicago White Sox/Texas Rangers Major League Baseball game. Texas won the game 7-6 on Kevin Mench's solo drive in the ninth inning, his second home run of the game. "It was a pretty good pitch that I threw, I thought," he said on Tuesday. "The biggest thing was to get out there and not embarrass myself. They all said I did just fine and that was all I wanted to hear. We had a really fun time and you can have a blast visiting Chicago."  Miller Brewing Company will be celebrating Rusty's final season racing by inviting legal drinking age race fans to Lowe's Motor Speedway on Saturday (May 21) for a landmark free concert by the Black Crowes. As part of the Miller Lite Rock'n Racing Concert Series, the show is set for Saturday at 3:00 p.m. in the Lowe's Motor Speedway infield between Turns 1 and 2. Rusty will be present at the concert, addressing his loyal fans and introducing the Black Crowes. TRPR
Champ watches from Tower Champ watches from TowerKurt Busch spent Friday night's Busch Series race in the scoring tower at Richmond for an inside look at what officials do during a race. Was Busch genuinely interested in seeing how it all works? Or was he just kissing up to NASCAR in the wake of his most recent outburst? "I hope he was genuinely interested," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of communications. "He appeared to be. I think he clearly understands that his behavior under the conditions at Darlington was inappropriate, was just wrong — and especially wearing the champion's crown."  Busch was penalized during the May 7 race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway for not lining up in the correct position behind the pace car for a restart. Already frustrated by a first-lap crash that caused severe damage to his car, Busch boiled over about the penalty. He made profane remarks directed at NASCAR officials over his in-car radio, revved his engine in anger after officials ordered him to turn it off and threw a water bottle in the direction of an official standing next to his car. Addressing the media earlier in the day Friday, Busch said, "I'm not there to bend any of the rules. I'm there to abide by them and as the champion to represent the sport." USA Today
BMW WilliamsF1 Team and QinetiQ in technology partnership BMW WilliamsF1 Team and QinetiQ in technology partnershipMonaco & Farnborough, UK, May 18, 2005. The BMW WilliamsF1 Team today confirmed details of a new technical partnership with QinetiQ (www.QinetiQ.com), the technology solutions company privatized from the UK's government's defense and evaluation research laboratories.

The partnership is designed to inject groundbreaking British technologies into the development process of world-beating race cars and bring together the best of British expertise.

QinetiQ is today a specialized technology organization, which applies its wealth of defense technologies to create solutions for the aerospace, transport, health, security and environmental sectors. Specific solutions include novel trim panel speakers for aircraft, an early diagnosis system for breast cancer, hybrid drive technology for trucks and biodegradable car components.

This unique array of technology expertise will assist the BMW WilliamsF1 Team in a number of key areas, including materials science, predictive aerodynamic disciplines and the application of GPS technology for data acquisition at tests.

For its part, QinetiQ will use its Formula One partnership to communicate its unique technology offering to the global commercial marketplace and emphasize the strength and importance of British innovation.

On the announcement of the partnership, BMW WilliamsF1 Team Principal Frank Williams said, "A significant part of our success is drawn from the skills of our partners, and I have little doubt that QinetiQ's rich talent pool of British scientists and technology experts will make a real difference to our competitive performance. I am delighted that they are joining the team and we hope to be able to assist in the international promotion of their competencies."

 Sir John Chisholm, QinetiQ's Chief Executive reflected that, "Formula One is a business which adopts the world's most innovative technological developments well ahead of other businesses. A technical partnership with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team is a natural association for QinetiQ, where we can jointly demonstrate the power of British innovation to an international audience. We hope QinetiQ can make a substantive contribution to results on the race track and showcase the best of British technology." Williams F1

Piquet expects a tough Monaco weekend Piquet expects a tough Monaco weekendFollowing his second-place finish in Barcelona just over a week ago, Nelson Piquet Jr will head this weekend to the notorious Monaco street circuit to compete in round five of the 2005 GP2 Series.

The Formula One weekend in Monaco is world-famous for its glitz and glamour, and for the well-known faces it attracts. Piquet will get a taste of the electrifying atmosphere when the GP2 grid put on their show on Saturday afternoon, as the main support race to F1. So far the new championship has seen four different winners from four races, and due to the individual nature of the Monaco race, and the inch-perfect maneuvering it requires, it is anyone’s guess what could happen during round five.

The 3.370km Monaco circuit twists through the famed streets of the Principality and, as a result of the track characteristics, average speeds will be lower than at most races and the road surface will be less abrasive. In view of these differences, GP2 tire partner Bridgestone has designed a one-off super soft compound tire specifically for this race, which they hope will help to keep the racing exciting as drivers will be able to continue to push to the limit.
“Monaco is a completely different challenge to any other race on the calendar and it’s going to be difficult," Piquet admitted. "I don’t know the track, and street circuits are not my strong point, but I’ll try hard and my goal is to score some points. If I can get some points it’s great because it means I can keep up in the championship, but realistically I’m not expecting a win."

"Maybe if the weekend was two races I could have a different strategy but as we only have one race it’s just going to be really important to qualify well because, once the race starts, it’s going to be pretty impossible to overtake," Piquet continued. "I’ve always watched the Monaco GP, but have never raced on the circuit so it’s going to be really exciting driving in that kind of atmosphere on such a famous track. The car performed well in Barcelona and so I hope Monaco is going to be good.” Piquet Sports

New 'Desert Fuel' for Ferrari in Monaco New 'Desert Fuel' for Ferrari in MonacoFerrari will use a new fuel this weekend at the Monaco Grand Prix. Shell V-Power ULG60 is one of a generation of 'desert fuels' that the company is currently developing for Ferrari. In Monaco, engine temperatures are higher than usual as the close running and tight track limits airflow through the car's radiators.

Especially blended to cope with high temperatures without weathering the fuel will perform consistently in the heat that usually sees the lighter chemicals in a blend evaporate and rob the engine of its responsiveness.

When starting a car after a long period of inactivity, it often feels sluggish and un-responsive. This is often because the fuel has weathered.

The lighter of the 200+ chemicals found in a fuel will evaporate over time or with an increase in temperature.

To prevent its Formula One fuels from weathering, Shell seals each 200 liter drum with nitrogen before transit and ensures that the fuel is kept in sealed drums or rigs throughout the weekend.

Some fuel weathering in the car is inevitable to an extent, but can be limited by using a blend that features less light components - as long as the fuel retains its power and efficiency. Shell

The technical challenge of Monaco The technical challenge of MonacoThe Monaco Grand Prix is not just famous because of its history and its picturesque setting, but also because of the unique technical challenge it presents the drivers and engineers.

Quite frankly, if the race organizers applied to run a race through these twisty streets today for the first time, there is no way the governing body would sanction the event: a narrow bumpy track, peppered with road markings, drains and manhole covers does not fit with the sanitized world of F1 in the 21st century, while the facilities for VIP guests and, until the arrival of a new paddock last year, the teams, cannot match the modern facilities we encounter today. More.....

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Schu screamed at soccer rival
'I'll get a '06 ride'
Another Bridgestone jab
Want to fix F1?
Quali 'must' change
Darth Vader in Monaco
Monaco moist
Updated in Monte Carlo
Ferrari, Schu, drive on
Sauber needs more money - JV
Frank unsure of BMW plans
Flav, Fernando, to 'talk'
May 18 - Schlesser
Industry News
Mickey Thompson murder trial update Mickey Thompson murder trial updateUPDATE #6 Oft-heard reports that Toyota will show up with a NASCAR Busch Series car were denied by Toyota PR specialist John Procida. He made it crystal clear, saying, “We are not going Busch racing.” Furthermore, he added, “We’ll be back here in the IRL next year,” meaning the Indy 500. National Speed Sport News 05/09/05 [Editor's Note: We are dropping this rumor back to 'speculation.'  See our other rumor that says the Car of Tomorrow delay may delay Toyota's entry into Busch or Cup.]   Since the day that Toyota came on the NASCAR scene in the truck series, speculation has continually bubbled about when the Japanese automaker will invade the Cup and Busch ranks. The speculation picked up in recent days with stories citing NASCAR sources as saying that Toyota is working on a car to race in the Busch Series next season and that Toyota has joined Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford in discussion with NASCAR over the development of its "Car of Tomorrow" and "Engine of the Future" for the Cup Series on down.

Those stories were accompanied at Talladega last weekend by word through the garage area that Johnny Benson, who drives for Toyota in the truck series, has tested a Toyota stock car with a Solara body at his short track in Michigan. Patrick Wall, manager of Toyota Racing Development in High Point, confirmed that Toyota has participated in the discussions about the "Car of Tomorrow" and "Engine of the Future" which could bring as early as 2007 significant changes from the cars and engines used now. But, he said, Toyota's plans hinge on the timetable for implementation of the rules changes and that the only series Toyota will race in next year is the truck series. "We currently race trucks and we are looking at racing cars," Wall said. "We are doing an investigation into the best path for Toyota to get into car racing, and we are waiting on NASCAR to give us the timetable for the 'Car of Tomorrow' and 'Engine of the Future' before we determine what the best plan for us will be."

Wall said he expects NASCAR to announced the timetable for the future car and engine by the end of this month. The "Car of Tomorrow" is expected to incorporate more safety features, including a bigger greenhouse (area from windows on up). The "Engine of the Future" is expected to provide a common engine platform for all manufacturers. "It takes such a financial commitment to develop cars and engines that we want to see what direction NASCAR is going," Wall said. He denied that Toyota is developing a car to race in the Busch Series next year. "We are not working on any Busch cars," he said. He said that it did not make sense financially to develop a car now if the rules are to change significantly in the near future. "When you look at the cost involved, it takes a couple of years to get a payback on that investment," Wall said. He also denied that Benson or any one else has tested a Toyota stock car. "I can assure you that there has not been a Toyota-bodied stock car or a stock car with a Toyota engine [maybe a Ford or Chevy engine?] on a track anywhere on the planet since we raced in the NASCAR Dash Series with Robert Huffman in 2003," Wall said. High Point Enterprise

05/03/05 We are bumping this rumor up to 'strong' today and it will go to 'fact' around July 1st.  According to this SPEED TV article, NASCAR has confirmed that Toyota intends to compete in the Busch Series in 2006 and is an active participant in discussions about the next generation of Nextel Cup cars and engines, which are slated to debut in 2007, or perhaps 2008. 05/02/05  The key issue in the NASCAR Cup garage at the moment is Toyota's apparently imminent step up to the Busch series next season, with an expected Nextel Cup debut in 2007. Toyota's NASCAR model is expected to be the Avalon, though some are looking at the Solara, too. Toyota, according to sources, wants to field two Busch teams next year, with engines provided by the company, as it has done with its NASCAR Truck program. However, NASCAR officials are reported to have told Toyota that it would have to provide support to at least five or six teams. Toyota is also reported to be bidding for some big-name NASCAR teams for its Busch effort, the biggest name mentioned being Chevy kingpin Rick Hendrick. GM executives insist they've got firm contracts with Hendrick for the next several years. However the Hendrick-Toyota questions have persisted, in part perhaps because Hendrick is one of the country's biggest Lexus dealers. Adding fuel to the Toyota-NASCAR issue are reports that Toyota plans to drop its IRL support at the end of the season (the company is spending nearly $100 million this year on its Indy-car program) and that Honda executives have indicated to IRL boss Tony George they don't plan to stick it out either if Honda is to become the only engine supplier to that series. Winston Salem Journal 04/30/05 NASCAR Nextel Cup Director John Darby confirmed Friday that Toyota is participating in discussions with NASCAR about the new engine and so-called “Car of the Future,” both of which are expected to be introduced in 2007. This is the strongest indication yet that the giant Japanese automaker likely will enter the Nextel Cup Series, probably in 2007, though publicly it has not committed to doing so — yet. But at the very least, Toyota seems committed to the Busch Series for ’06, as Darby said. Toyota intends to submit a new car and engine to NASCAR by July 1, Darby said, the first steps necessary for Toyota to compete in the Busch Series next year. “They’re involved in our engine conversation,” Darby said of Toyota. “There’s an anticipation of them joining us in the Busch Series next season. I know they’re working on a car right now for submittal.” Asked if he thought Toyota’s arrival would be good for the sport, reigning Cup champ Kurt Busch said, “Definitely. They’ll bring in more sponsorship dollars, more interest. When we got these new tracks for two dates — Phoenix, Texas, California — people are familiar with Toyotas. They know what they’re about.” Busch’s car owner, Jack Roush, is adamantly opposed to Toyota’s presence in NASCAR, however, and privately, team owners are worried that the Japanese automaker will drive up the price of racing. Speed Channel 04/27/05 There are no really outrageous salaries in NASCAR as there are in some other professional sports.  Not that any of the drivers is really complaining.  Hanging over the sport is the effect that Toyota might have when it enters stock-car racing. Toyota executives may handle all driver contracts at the corporate level, instead of leaving it up to individual team owners. And Toyota has considerable cash in the bank for whatever it might want to do, because the company is the most profitable of the automakers at the moment.  Might Toyota come in and spend whatever it takes to get whichever driver it wants? Executives at Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler may have to ante up themselves to keep prized drivers in the fold.

Toyota appears to be cranking up things for a 2006 Busch effort, with a Nextel Cup project planned for 2007 - and it may need some drivers. And not just one or two, because NASCAR is expected to insist that Toyota back at least six teams when it steps up.  Cary Agajanian, one of auto-racing's top agents, negotiated a blockbuster contract for Stewart in 2003 that runs through the end of 2009 and is reported to be worth $10 million a year in straight salary, plus ancillary income. Agajanian's other NASCAR clients are Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Green, Jason Leffler, Dave Blaney and Jamie McMurray, with McMurray perhaps the biggest name that Agajanian has in play for a new contract.

Agajanian said that NASCAR doesn't have any influence in driver contract negotiations.  "I don't think NASCAR has anything to do with it, seriously," Agajanian said. "Each team negotiates what it thinks is a fair salary. Owners can set percentages of what they need to pay, and it's not just for drivers but also crew chiefs and tire changers. Everyone gets paid somewhat similarly.  It's a true laissez-faire system, and the better drivers get paid more."

Perhaps a lot more if Toyota comes in. Toyota is spending $98 million on its Indy Racing League program, and that money, maybe more, is expected to be moved to the NASCAR account soon.  Toyota may march to a different drummer.

"If a corporate sponsor is willing to overpay market-value by 30 or 40 percent, they can turn the garage into a have-and-have-not situation, that can't be overcome.  "NASCAR will have to keep a very close eye on this, to ensure no one upsets the balance.  And the economic conditions in the auto industry, of the four players in the sport right now, only one has this giant surplus of cash that could be used to alter the dynamic of our sport - Toyota, which is in the strongest cash and marketing position in the world.  That's a red flag for me, and I'm sure it is for GM, Chrysler and Ford, too. We all try to spend at relative levels and not drive costs up." Excerpts form Winston Salem Journal 

04/26/05 Toyota executives may handle all driver contracts at the corporate level, instead of leaving it up to individual team owners. And Toyota has considerable cash in the bank for whatever it might want to do, because the company is the most profitable of the automakers at the moment. Might Toyota come in and spend whatever it takes to get whichever driver it wants? Executives at Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler may have to ante up themselves to keep prized drivers in the fold. Toyota appears to be cranking up things for a 2006 Busch effort, with a Nextel Cup project planned for 2007 - and it may need some drivers. And not just one or two, because NASCAR is expected to insist that Toyota back at least six teams when it steps up. Toyota is spending $98 million on its Indy Racing League program, and that money, maybe more, is expected to be moved to the NASCAR account soon. Winston Salem Journal
Monterrey ticket sales up 200% Monterrey ticket sales up 200%UPDATE The most expensive tickets for the Monterrey Grand Prix are almost sold out. How do we know? We went to ticketmaster to buy other tickets and asked the clerk to show us the different options still available for the race.  Main straight tickets are already sold out.  Two of the four pit sections are already sold out, and the S section is almost sold out. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico 05/10/05 Champ Car Monterrey ticket sales are up by 200% over this time last year, that is what Jorge Lozano director of the Monterrey Grand Prix stated to the media. Tomorrow there is going to be a press conference featuring Mario Dominguez, the only Mexican confirmed to run in the race (so far Michel Jourdain's deal has not materialized) . This edition of the Monterrey Grand Prix will feature the twice Monterrey Grand Prix Race Champion Cristiano da Matta, who is not confirmed to be in the tomorrow's press conference. There is going to be a parade next Sunday on the main streets of downtown Monterrey showing about 25 vehicles, Champ Cars, Atlantics and other support series cars will be in the parade. The parade is going to start from Cuahutemoc Brewery (Tecate's) at 5:30 PM. Hector Serrano reporting from Mexico

PREVIEW: Rolex Series Ready For Six-Hour “Sprint” PREVIEW: Rolex Series Ready For Six-Hour “Sprint”After three-straight “sprint race” barnburners, the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series heads north of the border to Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant for Saturday’s 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant (SPEED Channel, Live, 11 a.m. ET).

Since the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, the margin of victory in Rolex Series events has not exceeded 1.198 seconds in 250-mile races at Homestead-Miami Speedway, California Speedway and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Included in the run was the closest finish in Rolex Series history when defending Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett drove his No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley across the finish line just 0.096 seconds ahead of Max Angelelli in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley to secure his first victory of the season. More....

News bits from Mexico News bits from MexicoWhile the USA gets the race tape-delayed on SPEED TV, Canada actually gets the Monterrey, Mexico Race live! It's on TSN at 4pm EST.  
Despite what they reported from Mexico, there is no "Face of Champ Car" beauty contest in Monterrey.  But the organizers did try. No doubt there's a Miss Grand Prix contest there, but the winner will not be feeding into the finals in Mexico City. However, the organizer from Australia, will be there to solidify the deal for next season.
NASCAR Richmond TV Rating NASCAR Richmond TV RatingFX garnered impressive television numbers for both races. The Chevy American Revolution 400 was the highest rated cable sports event of the weekend (4.4 versus the next closest event, Sunday's NBA playoff match up between Phoenix and Dallas on TNT, which pulled a 3.7 rating) and also attracted the most viewers among cable sports events (3.77 million). Those numbers represent a ratings increase of 16% from the 2004 race (4.4 vs. 3.8) and a whopping 20% jump in households (3.77 million vs. 3.16 million). Total viewers also increased by 11%, from 5.05 million in 2004 to 5.58 million on Saturday.

The Chevy American Revolution 400 FX broadcast also attracted the most households for a spring NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway (3.77 million vs. 3.75 million for the 1997 race). That household rating ranks second in track history to last September's Chevy Rock & Roll 400, which was seen by 3.82 million households. The Chevy Rock & Roll 400 was the 26th event on last year's schedule and set the field for the inaugural Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. The track again occupies the same position on the schedule this season.

On the NASCAR Busch Series side, the FUNAI 250 also had excellent numbers against last year's event in rating (1.9 vs. 1.4, a 36% increase), households (1.602 million vs. 1.189 million, a 35% increase), and viewers (2.09 million vs. 1.6 million, a 24% increase). Only the September 2002 NASCAR Busch Series race has had a higher rating and household number than Friday's FUNAI 250.

NASCAR catches, fines more cheaters NASCAR catches, fines more cheatersNASCAR officials announced Tuesday fines have been issued to two NASCAR Busch Series crew chiefs resulting from rule violations during opening day inspection at Richmond International Raceway on May 12.  Teddy Brown, crew chief of the No. 34 Chevrolet driven by Randy LaJoie and Gordon Gibbs, crew chief for the No. 57 Chevrolet driven by Kyle Busch, were each fined $2,500 after being found in violation of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-4-CC (unapproved gear ratio).
Said to run Nextel Open Said to run Nextel OpenThe NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star weekend was not on Boris Said's latest schedule of 2005 Cup races. But that slate recently changed after rain cut short last Tuesday's test session at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the MB/Sutton Motorsports team. Said, whose part-time Cup schedule includes the May 29th Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's, felt he did not have enough time to acclimate himself to the 1.5-mile oval during the rain-shortened test session. "Since we didn't run a full test session, coupled with the top 35 drivers in points are already guaranteed a spot in the (43-car) field, we felt more seat time was needed to have a realistic shot of qualifying for the Coca-Cola race," offered Said, driver of the #36 CENTRIX Financial Chevrolet. "Our main purpose for this weekend is to take advantage of the practice sessions and use them as a test and tune for next week's race. I need more time and the crew also needs more time to find the best setup for Lowe's. We knew going into this race that it would be difficult to qualify. And not having the full test session last week made it even more difficult." Though Said will be in a test mode this weekend, it doesn't mean he will not be at full throttle when the green flag drops for Saturday night's NEXTEL Open. The winner of the Open will transfer into the main feature -- The NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. MBSuttom Motorsports
Industry News
Stewart to co-host Wind Tunnel Stewart to co-host Wind TunnelTony Stewart will co-host this week's edition of Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on SPEED Channel (9 p.m. ET). This week's lineup:

Guest Co-Host   Tony Stewart (2002 Nextel CUP Champion)

Featured Interview Paul Kruger (Chairman & CEO, DIRT Motorsports)

Expert Analysts Robin Miller, reporting from Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Steve Matchett, in-studio analysis of Monaco Grand Prix

Topics of Discussion Nextel All-Star Challenge 
                                         Formula One in Monaco
                                         Champ Car in Mexico
                                         Indy 500 Bump Day
                                         AMA at Pikes Peak
                                         ALMS at Mid-Ohio 
                                         Rolex Series at Mont Tremblant
                                         ...and much more!

Lehto, Werner seek to repeat at M-O Lehto, Werner seek to repeat at M-OOf the nine tracks on the American Le Mans Series' schedule for 2005, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a rarity. Since the first ALMS race there in 2001, no driver has won more than one overall title. With the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio set for May 20-22, JJ Lehto and Marco Werner have their chance to break the string.

The Champion Audi duo are 2-for-2 in the ALMS this year in their No. 1 Audi R8. In addition, they have won eight of the last 10 series races dating back to last year's event at Mid-Ohio. The task won't be easy with challenges coming from the two-car Dyson Racing team and a factory Zytek from the U.K. entered for the two-hour, 45-minute race.

"Dyson won the pole and was on the front row last year. So I expect it will be the same situation this year," said Werner, who has won 13 races in 20 starts. "We are not the quickest car on the track so like Road Atlanta, the teamwork and pit stops will be very important. We cannot make any mistakes."

Playa Del Racing Adds Sponsor Playa Del Racing Adds SponsorAction Gaming, the leading inventor and provider of video poker products in the gaming industry, today announced a major associate partnership for the Indianapolis 500 on the No. 21 Playa Del Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone driven by Jaques Lazier, of Vail, Colo.

Playa Del Racing, which loosely translated means “Beach Racing” in Spanish, is a new Indy Racing League IndyCar Series team founded on old principles: To have fun and go fast. Although the 2005 Indianapolis 500 will be the team’s first race, it is made up of seasoned professionals that have years of racing experience, with numerous wins and championships on their resumes.  Playa Del Racing Vice President and Co-Owner, Susan Schafer, along with Co-Owner Gary Sallee, believe the addition of Action Gaming brings another exciting partner to the PDR team.

“Action Gaming is the leader in its industry,” stated Schafer. “Founder and President Ernie Moody is a dynamic businessman and sportsman whose knowledge and experience bring added value to our growing relationship. Playa Del Racing looks forward to a rewarding and fun on- and off-track experience for everyone involved.”

Moody is bringing his love of competition to automobile racing for the first time. His horse racing venture, Mercedes Stables, has been a key player in the highest levels of that sport for years.

“I have a love for and attraction to competing in historic races,” an enthusiastic Moody explained. “My horse, Rock Hard Ten, recently won the Santa Anita Handicap! I couldn’t be more excited to bring that love of competition to IndyCar racing and to the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” as part of the Playa Del Racing team. Gary Sallee and Susan Schafer have assembled a team that appears to be ready to join the fight for victory.”

Action Gaming is dedicated to the design, creation and innovation of video poker games and other games of chance. Founded in 1997, Action Gaming has brought to market, with its manufacturing and distribution partner IGT, hundreds of video poker games. Some of these games include Triple Play Draw Poker, Five Play Draw Poker, Hundred Play Draw Poker, Super Times Pay Poker and Five Play Multi-Strike Poker. Action Gaming products are represented in virtually every North American gaming jurisdiction and are exclusively distributed by IGT. Playa Del Racing

Practice resumes Wednesday at Indy Practice resumes Wednesday at IndyPractice for the 89th Indianapolis 500 resumes Wednesday, May 18, as teams and drivers either continue the search for speed to earn a qualifying spot during the second weekend of qualifications or work on honing their car setup for Race Day.  Gates open at 9 a.m. (local time) Wednesday with practice scheduled for noon-6 p.m. General admission tickets are $5, with children ages 5 and younger admitted free.

Teams and drivers will attempt to earn the final 11 positions in the Indianapolis 500 field during Third-Day Qualifying on Saturday, May 21. Bump Day, the final day of qualifications, is set for Sunday, May 22.  As part of the new qualifying format introduced for the 2005 Indianapolis 500, positions 1-22 were filled during the first weekend of qualifications, and spots 23-33 will be filled on the third day, and bumping within those positions can take place once the field is full. The slowest car in the field - regardless of the day it qualified - can be bumped on Bump Day, the fourth and final day of qualifying.  Tony Kanaan, driver of the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Andretti Green Racing, scored his first Indianapolis 500 MBNA Pole Award on May 15 with a four-lap average of 227.566 mph.

Monkey see, Monkey do Monkey see, Monkey doTo celebrate the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500, the race's 33 qualified drivers will visit New York on May 23 for a unique photo and interview opportunity in Times Square.  The 33 drivers, in race day uniform, will line up in the traditional 11 rows of three, for a photo on Times Square's Military Island. IRL  [Editor's Note: Was this not an Adam Friedman Traveling Light Media production just a year ago with Champ Car?  These guys are intent to steal any and every great idea from Champ Car.  Will they have their logo on the Jumbotron?  The Champ Car logo was up, so we're sure IRL will as well. The Monkey sees, and the Monkey does as the IRL morphs into CART.]
Rojas added to Monterrey field Rojas added to Monterrey fieldIt may only be Tuesday, but it’s already been a good week for Mexican driver Memo Rojas. The skilled 23-year-old racer became the newest addition to the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship field when it was announced today that Rojas will join one of the top teams in the series to compete in front of an expected capacity crowd in his home country of Mexico at this weekend’s Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel - Saturday, May 28 at 2 p.m. ET).

A native of Mexico City, Rojas has raced within the Champ Car driver development system and he joins the Atlantic series for Round 2 of the championship this week at the 2.104-mile Fundidora Park road circuit in Monterrey, Mexico. Rojas will step in for Brazilian Fernando Rees in the #10 championship entry for Brooks Associates Racing, with support from his longtime Mexican sponsor Telmex.

“I really developed my career racing in the U.S. series and I’m excited to be back and running in Toyota Atlantics,” said Rojas, who spent the 2004 season competing in Europe. “I wanted to come back with the experience I had from racing in Europe and run in my home country in front of the Mexican fans. I want to thank (team owner) John Brooks for helping me work this out and thank you to Telmex for continuing to help my racing career.”

After honing his racing skills in the Mexican Formula 3 and the U.S. Formula Ford 2000 championships in the late 90s, Rojas continued to shine while entering the Champ Car system in the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2002-2003. He finished fifth in the final series standings in 2002 and posted victories at both Toronto and Montreal while finishing as series runner up in 2003. Rojas wound up the ’03 season just 60 points behind Barber Dodge Pro Series champ Leo Maia in the final rundown. Last season, Rojas raced in the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup, recording two top-five finishes in his first taste of European competition. He finished third at Donington and produced a fourth-place result at Dubai.

Rojas already has one start on the Monterrey road course under his belt as well. He finished on the podium in the 2003 Barber Dodge race, taking the checkered flag in third place, just under half-a-second behind the winner. Rojas knows the driver that won that race very well – fellow Mexican and Monterrey native David Martinez (#32 Roshfrans) – who also joins the ’05 Atlantic lineup this weekend, competing for the US RaceTronics team. Rojas and Martinez are good friends off the track but they’ve had an on-track rivalry brewing since they ran against each other in the Mexican Formula 3 series. The friendly competition continued in the Barber Dodge series and last season in Europe and it will heat up again in front of the Mexican faithful this weekend.

As one of only three drivers in the Atlantic field with experience racing in Monterrey – Martinez and Polestar Racing Group’s Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design) are the others – Rojas feels that he could produce a strong result in his series debut, if he can adapt to running an Atlantic car quickly during the course of the weekend.

“The experience I have at this track is an advantage, but I haven’t tested in the Atlantic car and I don’t really know the team, my engineer or the car very well,” said Rojas, who hopes to continue racing for the Brooks team after Monterrey. “We’re going to have to work very hard in those first few practice sessions.” Toyota Atlantic

Bucknum to drive Mid-Ohio with eye on Indy Bucknum to drive Mid-Ohio with eye on IndyAmerican Le Mans Series (ALMS) driver Jeff Bucknum will be doing his day job Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, but he’ll likely spare a thought for his moonlighting effort at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

Bucknum, 38, who will drive an LMP2-class Miracle Motorsports Courage during the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio this weekend, also put a Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara-Honda in the field for the Indianapolis 500 last Sunday.  While his average qualifying speed of 221.521 miles per hour is currently the 21st-fastest in the 33-car Indy 500 field, the event’s notorious Bump Day could force Bucknum and his team to defend their position after he parks his prototype at Mid-Ohio. 

“We’re extremely confident in our qualifying speed at Indy, so we’ll be able to give our full attention to a winning weekend at Mid-Ohio,” said Bucknum.  “I’ve had a lot of success at Mid-Ohio in the past, and we’ll be doing everything we can to see that that continues.”

Bucknum previously has won ALMS and Barber Dodge Pro Series races at the Lexington, Ohio, track, and will team with co-driver Chris McMurry for this weekend’s ALMS event.  The duo won their class in the famed 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this season. 

Multi-tasking in motorsports is no novelty to Bucknum, who’s competed in several open-wheel development series as well as in sports cars.  It’s the same kind of driving diversity that marked the career of his famous father, Ronnie Bucknum, who also enjoyed success in several series, including Formula One and Indy cars. 

“Being able to cross racing disciplines demonstrates true talent in my mind,” said Bucknum.  “I’m enjoying sports car racing, and it’s brought me a lot of happiness and success, but I’ve always wanted to try Indy cars.  This month is really a dream come true for me, and I’m looking forward to competing at Mid-Ohio and representing the ALMS well in the world’s greatest race.” 

Bucknum will participate in practice at Indianapolis on Wednesday and Thursday this week.  He and his teams have yet to decide where he will drive on Friday.  He plans to be at Mid-Ohio for qualifying on Saturday, and will return to Indianapolis on Sunday immediately after the ALMS race if necessary. 

Audi team previews Mid-Ohio Audi team previews Mid-OhioTeam ADT Champion Racing enters the third round of the American Le Mans Series at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio facing two challenges: 1) continue their winning streak in the American Le Mans Series and 2) utilize this weekend’s track time to simultaneously prepare for the upcoming 73rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in June.

Defending ALMS Driver Champions and current LMP 1 point leaders JJ Lehto (Finland) and Marco Werner (Germany), will focus primarily on continuing their winning streak in the No.1 Audi R8. With the recent win at Road Atlanta, Lehto matched the winning record previously set by Sascha Maasen for the most wins in ALMS history, 22. A victory at Mid-Ohio would make Lehto the all time winningest driver in ALMS history. Lehto’s teammate, Marco Werner, also has created quite a stir in the series as Werner made history by earning the best winning percentage (13 wins in 20 events) of any driver who has run more than one season in the American Le Mans Series. A win at Mid-Ohio would run Champion Audi No. 1's streak to three and place them among the favorites going into the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Frank Biela (Germany) and Emanuele Pirro (Italy), drivers of the No. 2 Audi R8, hope to break their streak of bad luck and effectively challenge the sister car on the 2.25 mile, 13-turn road course. The No. 2 Audi R8 has just been shy of a win in the previous two races and now looks to earn their first victory in order to keep Biela and Pirro’s hopes alive for this year’s ALMS Driver Championship. It is just a matter of time and a little bit of good luck until the talented and skilled duo of Biela and Pirro prevails and brings home the checkered flag.

Two Audi Stars and Cars promotions will be held prior to the weekend race schedule. Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro will meet Audi guests at Sunnyside Audi on Wednesday, May 18th and JJ Lehto and Marco Werner appear Thursday, May 19th at Fred Baker Audi. Both Audi dealerships are located in the Cleveland area. For more information on these promotions, please contact Sunnyside Audi at 440-243-5588 and Fred Baker Audi at 440-232-4700.

The American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio is set for noon EDT May 22 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. CBS Sports will broadcast the event from 1 to 3 p.m. EDT, and live coverage will be available on American Le Mans Series Radio at www.americanlemans.com.


JJ Lehto (Fin).
Age: 39. Born: Espoo, Finland. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:
One pole: Sebring Two wins: Sebring and Road Atlanta

“Mid-Ohio is a great circuit. I like it very much as I have raced both formula cars (former CART series) and sports cars there. We won last year so obviously we’d like to repeat that this year. The Dyson team is always strong there so we will need to do a little bit better than last year in performance to beat them again.”

Marco Werner (D). Age: 38. Born: Dortmund, Germany. Lives: Ermatingen, Switzerland: Two wins: Sebring and Road Atlanta
“Dyson won the pole and was on the front row last year. So I expect it will be the same situation this year. We are not the quickest car on the track so like Road Atlanta, the teamwork and pit stops will be very important. We cannot make any mistakes. Since this is only my second time driving at Mid-Ohio it would be great to first earn the pole and then win the race. That is my aim.”

Frank Biela (D). Age: 40. Born: Neuss, Germany. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:
2nd place finish: Sebring 3rd place finish: Road Atlanta
“While Mid-Ohio is a nice circuit, it is also difficult to drive because of the bumps and tight corners. The car gets very light in some places and therefore is very challenging. It is also a short track so you do lots of laps and there is no strait to rest. It is also time to change the winning order. It is time for us (No. 2 car) to see the checkered flag. This is very important if Emanuele and I are to stay in the Driver Championship fight. Of course the main goal is for Champion Racing to win but the internal fight for the Driver’s Championship is also important to me.”

Emanuele Pirro (It). Age: 43. Born: Rome, Italy. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:
2nd place finish: Sebring 3rd place finish: Road Atlanta
“Mid-Ohio is another beautiful race track. This is the third event in the Driver Championship which still has not seen the No. 2 car first. I want to see that at Mid-Ohio so our target is to win the race and keep our Championship hope alive. We will try our best to achieve the best possible result.”

Russian team to run Aston Martin Russian team to run Aston MartinRussian Age Racing will become the first private team to run the Aston Martin DBR9 in the FIA GT championship. Having seen the factory run cars take a one-two finish in the RAC Tourist Trophy, Rob Schirles Cirtek Motorsport team has announced it is to run a DBR9 from the Spa 24 Hours next month, with the car then competing in the remaining rounds of the FIA GT championship.

Russian Age regulars Christophe Bouchut, Nikolai Fomenko and Alexei Vasiliev will form part of the driver line-up at Spa, with a fourth driver to be named at a later date.

In partnership with the East Anglian Aston Martin distributor Stratton Motor Company, new purpose-built technical facilities are currently under construction and Schirle said he was delighted with the partnership with the company and its managing director Roger Bennington.

"I am delighted with this latest progression for Cirtek and to be working in partnership with Roger," he said. "The commencement of the Aston Martin DBR9 race program gives Russian Age Racing added awareness and credibility on the world motorsport stage."

Bennington himself was also pleased with the announcement. "Both companies have very substantial investment in motorsport staff, equipment and facilities," he said. "In discussing the DBR9 racing car and how we would operate it, it made perfect sense to align our interests. I am delighted that with our long history of association with Aston Martin, Stratton Motor Company now houses a high profile international racing program."

Villeneuve says Sauber needs more money Villeneuve says Sauber needs more moneyFormer world champion Jacques Villeneuve says that Sauber lacks the budget to compete at the top level of F1.  Sauber is one of the few in Formula One without the backing of a major car manufacturer.  "The infrastructure is there, we just need bigger budgets now. We have a lack of resources," said Villeneuve.
Bourdais likes historic events Bourdais likes historic eventsAt its simplest, automobile racing is people rushing to get back where they started, but Sebastien Bourdais is determined to enjoy each mile and every stop on his journey.  Born in a clinic on a corner of the fabled sports-car course in Le Mans, France, Bourdais has set about on a tour of the world's greatest race courses:

In addition to his hometown circuit, he has competed on Europe's best, the Nurburgring, Spa-Francorchamps, Monza and the tight and unforgiving streets of Monte Carlo.  Then after winning the 2002 championship in international Formula 3000 competition, Bourdais moved to the United States to further his career with Newman / Haas in the Champ Car World Series.

The move also brought sports-car opportunities in Sebring, Fla., home of the 12-hour endurance race that's an American legend, and in the 24-hour race in Daytona Beach, Fla. And earlier this year, Bourdais ran the Daytona oval for the first time in an International Race of Champions stock car.  Now, after watching teammate Bruno Junqueira race last year in the Indianapolis 500, Bourdais is part of a full Newman / Haas effort this year, and his circle is nearly complete (pictured right at Indy courtesy of Honda).

"I'm kind of an old-fashioned guy," said Bourdais, 26. "I like to discover the classics of racing. I did Sebring, Daytona. Indianapolis is still to come, the race, but I just love it, driving here and getting the experience of different cars.  It will be a very special feeling every time we get to one of these historical places. It's something else.  You have people here even for free practice, and they're very knowledgeable. Everywhere you look are real classic names. It's just a different atmosphere." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

News from South Korea News from South KoreaThe Champ Car track being built in Ansan, South Korea is taking shape nicely and everything is on schedule for the October race.  They have managed to start their Korean website for the event, with more information to follow.  The Vice-Mayor of Ansan will be in Monterrey with about 22 people as they begin to learn more about Champ Car and how successful events are run. Mark C.
Indy Front Row Indy Front Row 

Photos courtesy of Honda and Toyota

Indy by the numbers Indy by the numbers
229.880 mph - Fastest lap of the month, produced by Danica Patrick during pre-qualifying final practice May 15. It also was the fastest lap ever turned by a woman at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

6 - Career pole starts for Tony Kanaan. His last came at Pikes Peak International Raceway in August 2004.

1991 - Last time the front row was composed of former series champions (Rick Mears, A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti).

3 - U.S.-born drivers among the first four starting spots for the Indianapolis 500.

4th - Starting position for rookie Danica Patrick. It is the highest starting position for a woman and best start for a rookie at Indianapolis since 2003 when Scott Dixon qualified fourth.

Hornish gamble paid off Hornish gamble paid offPenske's gamble pays off for Hornish: Sam Hornish Jr. thought there was more speed in his No. 6 Toyota-powered Dallara after his initial qualifying run produced 10th place in the field for the 89th Indianapolis 500.

So, under the new qualifying format that affords each car three attempts per day, Marlboro Team Penske withdrew the time and put it back in the qualifying line at 3:20 p.m. (local time). It was a gutsy move, but team owner Roger Penske hasn't won 13 Indianapolis 500-Mile Races by being timid.

The decision worked in Hornish's favor as he was able to put together a four-lap average of 227.273 mph - good for the middle of the front row. The time (2 minutes, 38.3997 seconds) stood the remainder of the session.

Hornish, who was coming off a pole start in the Indy Japan 300 on April 30, secured his highest starting spot in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" in six attempts. His previous best start was seventh in 2002.

"We were just looking at it," said Hornish, third in the IndyCar Series standings. "We were like, 'If we can get up to 226.5 mph average, that is going to move us up to, I think at that time, it was inside the top six or fifth.' That is a big amount for what we had to gain. We had a lot to gain, and we only had a little bit of time that we really needed to get up there. It was a lot of reward that we had to get and not much as far as risk.

"After our first run, we were like, 'We may be out there running again.' We wanted to make sure that it was not raining. It actually brightened up for a little bit. We were like, 'Hey, this is going to be good for us, we're going to get out there and get some practice in.' The guys just did an awesome job getting the car turned around and everything." IRL

Earnhardt Jr. on Today show Earnhardt Jr. on Today showDale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet, will be featured on the NBC early-morning news program, TODAY, in a feature piece entitled "Live For Today". The Live for Today segment is a month-long series in which TODAY fulfills the dreams of its viewers. Miechel Bassett, a 33-year-old mother of two from Evansville, Ind., dreamed of driving a stock car at a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup venue.

With the help of NBC news anchorman Brian Williams and fellow Nextel Cup driver Tony Stewart, Earnhardt Jr. was able to fulfill Miechel's dream at Richmond International Raceway this past weekend. Miechel, an avid Dale Jr. fan, turned laps with both Nextel Cup stars, and even took a turn behind the wheel herself. On Saturday night, she served as an honorary pit crew member for the #8 Budweiser team.

The "Live for Today" segment will air Tuesday morning, May 16, during the 8:00 - 8:30 a.m. timeslot. Miechel's wish was one of 60,000 received by TODAY as part of its month-long series.

McDonald’s begins to activate Champ Car sponsorship McDonald’s begins to activate Champ Car sponsorshipUPDATE In its first full season as the Official Fast Food Restaurant of Champ Car, McDonald’s is using its new relationship with Champ Car to bring joy to children and their families. The primary sponsor of the #1 McDonald’s Newman/Haas Racing machine of Sebastien Bourdais, the fast-food giant will be taking Champ Car drivers on visits to a number of Ronald McDonald Houses in race markets to visit sick children and their families. The Ronald McDonald House program is one of the world leaders in giving aid to the families of children that have been stricken with illnesses that requires lengthy hospital stays. Champ Car 05/09/05 The McDonald's Champ Car activation is beginning to move ahead quite well. There are a lot of things happening in Monterrey..store visits by Sebastien Bourdais, events with school children at the track, Ronald McDonald is coming to the track, plus they are a sponsor of the race itself and are helping the promoter promote the event in their stores. We may begin seeing a mobile McDonald's restaurant at the US races beginning soon and they have purchased TV advertising for all race broadcasts. They are also working with various other promoters such as Cleveland and Denver. They are fired up and like the program. Mark C.
Wheeler's annual All-Star picks Wheeler's annual All-Star picksContinuing an annual tradition, Lowe’s Motor Speedway President and General Manager H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler announced his prediction on who will walk away with a check for a million dollars as the winner Saturday night’s 21st running of the NASCAR Nextel All Star Challenge.

Wheeler has correctly predicted the winner of the annual all-star event nine times in the past 16 races. This time, he hedged his bets by picking an old favorite – Jeff Gordon.

Wheeler has chosen Gordon as his predicted winner five times before, but only once has Gordon delivered – winning the 1995 edition of the race.

Wheeler believes this year, thanks to Gordon and his team’s extensive testing on the track’s newly re-surfaced turns, the four-time Nextel Cup Champion and three-time all-star winner has a decided advantage.

"Jeff Gordon has this place figured out," Wheeler said about Gordon's understanding of the track's levigated racing surface. "He knew more about what we did to the track than anybody and he even picked out the little secret things we did.

"Jeff has shown an ability to adapt to new tracks as fast or faster than any driver I have ever seen," Wheeler continued. "In fact, he might have found a groove nobody knows about. Is he going to show that groove during qualifying? I don't think so. I don't think we'll see it until that final 20-lap segment."

Wheeler said his decision came down to Gordon and Greg Biffle.

"Greg Biffle is the hottest driver on the circuit and, if you look at what he's done recently, he would normally be my choice," Wheeler explained. "I believe very strongly in the 'sweet spot in time' that athletes go through and I think Biffle's having his right now.
"But they're bringing a brand new car for this race, and that tipped the scales in Gordon's favor."

This year, instead of a dark horse selection, Wheeler’s going with a pair of sentimental favorites - Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace.

"This will be the final time these two guys compete in the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge and that'll be extra incentive for them to get up on the wheel," Wheeler said. "Rusty's bump-and-run of Darrell Waltrip in the 1989 race was a defining moment that literally changed his career while Martin had fans on their feet when he swept around Gordon's sputtering car on the final lap to win the 1998 race.

"It would be a very popular victory if either of these guys can claim the $1 million first prize." Pete McCole

Chicagoland lands USG as sponsor Chicagoland lands USG as sponsor
Monaco - GP2 - Preview Monaco - GP2 - PreviewThe GP2 series arrives in Monte Carlo for Round Five of the 2005 season, with just one race to be run over the course of the weekend on Saturday at 16:00 CET. The championship standings after Barcelona see Heikki Kovalainen and Scott Speed sharing the lead in the drivers’ championship on 20 points. Gimmi Bruni is just two points behind them on 18 with José Maria López on 17, Adam Carroll on 13 and Nelson Piquet Jr on 10. In the teams’ championship Arden International lead the way on 24, with iSport International on 20 and Coloni Motorsport in third on 18.

Kaz Hamamura, Bridgestone Japan Technical Manager
"Monaco poses a unique challenge as it is the only street circuit on the GP2 calendar. The average speeds are much lower and the road surface is not particularly abrasive. As a result, we have decided to provide the GP2 field with a one-off super soft compound tire which will only be used next weekend and is supplementary to the other three specifications of dry tire which have been selected for use this season. We believe all the GP2 drivers will be able to push hard with more confidence and safety with this compound and this will, we hope, provide more exciting racing."

Bernard Dudot, GP2 series Head of Engineering
“Monaco is traditionally tough on two main areas of the car: transmission and brakes. This weekend all GP2 series cars will be fitted with new gear ratios, specific to Monaco. We tested these ratios at Paul Ricard before Barcelona and are happy with the choice. The cars will also feature a new cooling system on the rear and front brake calipers and uprights.”
Bruno Michel, GP2 series Organizer
“In the four races we’ve had so far, we’ve seen four different drivers on the top step of the podium. There has been seen some great racing, and some great overtaking. All in all I’d say we’ve had a very promising start to the season and it’s exactly what we were looking for. Looking at the performance of the car in Spain, I think it would be fair to say that we have reacted well to the issues we encountered in Imola. We made some important evolutions and upgrades for Barcelona and, as Bernard has said, we have made more changes between Barcelona and Monaco."

“No other motor racing series other than Formula One, has received better coverage than the GP2 series. Obviously this makes me happy, and it is great to see the figures rising. We’ve put agreements in place with Eurosport in over 50 countries. Major European terrestrial companies have also chosen to promote the GP2 series this year. Our website is getting over 30,000 hits a day during our race weekends, and more and more people are catching the GP2 bug. Also, the press at large has been very quick to pick up on the GP2 series and its potential. As the season progresses, I am confident that our championship will gain more and more fans.” GP2 Series

Renault preview of Monaco Renault preview of MonacoRenault heads to the Monaco Grand Prix with an 18 points advantage over their nearest rival Toyota. Coincidentally, Fernando Alonso also enjoys the same points gap over Jarno Trulli, the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix winner. More....
Schumacher expects a tough Monaco weekend Schumacher expects a tough Monaco weekendMichael Schumacher is preparing for the prestigious race at Monte Carlo and as usual, the weekend of racing begins on Wednesday, because there is no practice on Friday - this is the only time the Formula One calendar goes by this schedule.   Due to the events at the Barcelona race, the world champion will have to take to the track as one of the first drivers during qualifying, a disadvantage that is made even worse by the road surface - it is a well known fact that the race at Monaco takes place on regular street pavement. So the circumstances are less than perfect, but Schumacher remains calm.

"The rules call for that," Schumacher said. "And we will naturally try to make the best of it. We may be going through somewhat of a weak phase right now, but that's the way it is in sports: there are always ups and downs.  We were doing extremely well for an unusually long period of time, and now we're having to struggle a little bit. But we know what the reasons for that are, and that's the most important thing. We'll have to see how we can work our way back to the top now."
"The good thing is that none of us are giving up, everyone is continuing to do their work. Small steps also show their effect and we've already made some good progress - even if it may look differently from the outside."

Monaco is a special race on the Formula One calendar and Schumacher does not expect an easy weekend ahead.  "I have so many fond memories, I always enjoy coming here," Schumacher said. "It's just a lot of fun to wind your way through the streets here. Even though it will be difficult for us this time, because the position on the starting grid at Monaco is somewhat decisive for the outcome of the race: but that does not diminish my excitement. We are looking forward to taking on this challenge. Giving up is not an option, but giving up before you try is completely out of the question. Like I said: this is sports, and in sports anything is possible." Ferrari

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Toyota dodge FIA slap
Schu and Richards
'Fed up' in Monaco
Kimi should expect a fight
Mercedes' Monaco landmark
Schu's Monaco setback
Bellm quits BRDC
'F1 fight will be resolved'
McLaren 'difficult' - Montoya
Human error caused Wurz crash
Priaulx at Rockingham
GP chief in tax scandal
Fisi - 'I love Monaco'
Industry News
Schu beaten to sport award Schu beaten to sport awardProving that he can't win a trick in 2005, F1's Michael Schumacher has missed out on the prestigious Laureus world sport award.  Although the Ferrari driver did it last year, tennis' number one Roger Federer won the 2005 men's prize, also outpacing cyclist Lance Armstrong and Valentino Rossi.

At the award ceremony in Estoril, Portugal, though, motor racing did not miss out.  Former F1 and Champ Car star Alex Zanardi, who lost his legs in an horror 2001 shunt, scored the 'comeback' gong for returning to the touring car track with a hand-controlled racer.

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