ISC set to cause IRL attendance to plummet ''We won't give the exact numbers, but we're down,'' new Chicagoland track president Craig Rust said Tuesday ahead of this weekend's NASCAR race. ''I do not believe we will sell out, but you can get surprised. The phones have been ringing this week, and we're going to keep pushing till the bitter end. We've seen late walk-ups at other tracks. It's a later-buying crowd. Fans are waiting longer to make their purchases, given the economy.''
The available tickets, which range from $195 to $260, are good for both of Chicagoland's racing weekends. Buyers not only receive tickets for the Nationwide race Friday and the Cup race Saturday, but the Track Pack also includes tickets to the NASCAR truck race on Aug. 28 and the IRL IndyCar race on Aug. 29.
Along with other tracks that sell only a bundled race ticket, Chicagoland will consider abandoning that approach for 2010, Rust said.
''We need to do everything we can to get back to a sellout in 2010,'' Rust said. ''The Track Pack provides a lot of value when you look at it. But that's something that needs to be looked at.''
Earnhardt actually thinks he can drive an Indy Car Mediocre NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. would jump at the chance to drive in the Indianapolis 500 if there were not a conflicting NASCAR race on the same day. Rain washed out his plans for a ride in a two-seat Indy car on Thursday. Instead, he strapped himself behind the wheel and received a 10-minute, stationary lesson in Indy driving from former 500 winner Dan Wheldon.
“Any time you’re around a race car and there’s a driver that has driven that car, you’re going to ask what it drives like, what it feels like, what it does, how it works,” Earnhardt said. “I picked his brains as hard as I could.”
Grand-Am brags about miniscule TV rating Grand-Am Road Racing's strategic decision to change the date of the historic Brumos Porsche 250 from Thursday evening to Saturday afternoon, prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, was a huge success. The event not only increased in attendance from previous years, but the live SPEED telecast attracted a viewership increase of 165 percent over 2008 in Round 7 of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.
The decision to run the race as part of a doubleheader with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 presented by Coca-Cola was a strategic move to include Grand-Am Road Racing as part of the NASCAR family. The move gave NASCAR fans the opportunity to experience competitive sports car racing and, in return, sports car fans were able to experience NASCAR Sprint Cup racing.
Busch says Stewart dumped him at Daytona: All is not forgiven in the eyes of Kyle Busch. Busch said he felt he was "dumped" by Tony Stewart Saturday night at Daytona when the two cars collided as the drivers headed to the finish line of the Coke Zero 400. Busch didn't directly criticize Stewart at first, but found a way to make his point when asked what NASCAR should do about last-lap crashes at Daytona and Talladega. "NASCAR can take steps to look at it," Busch said. "If the second-place driver dumps the leader, then black flag his ass. He doesn't get the win. If he's up along side the leader and dumps him, give the third-place car the victory." Busch then was asked if he considered the bump with Stewart "a dump." "Yes, it would be considered a dump," he said. ESPN.com
Andretti thinks Toronto race will be huge success Andretti Green co-owner Michael Andretti purchased the race after it was put up for sale, and he and Toronto driver Paul Tracy have been working non-stop to promote the event.
"I believe one of the main factors of the growth of open-wheel racing back in the 80's was Toronto," said Andretti. "I thought it was very important to keep it on our schedule. When I heard it was available and it wasn't going to be on the schedule, I said 'we have to figure out how to get it back.'
"We think it's going to be a huge event, and huge for IndyCar in general."
Tracy is a two-time winner in Toronto, but has been without a full-time ride since the Champ Car-IRL merger. He says he has been bombarded by fans since arriving in Toronto following a disappointing 20th-place finish at Watkins Glen last weekend.
"It's been a busy week," said Tracy, who will drive for PKV Racing. "I've done a lot of media, a lot of promoting. I'm ready to get in the car and just concentrate on driving."
Surfers race picks up airline sponsor The 2009 Nitro SuperGP has confirmed Queensland company Strategic Airlines as a major event partner and naming rights sponsor of support category Formula Ford for this October’s event, set to hit the streets of Surfers Paradise over October 22-25.
Part of the Strategic Aviation Group, the international airline is Australia’s newest and will be the Official Airline Sponsor of the Nitro SuperGP after extending its partnership following a successful inaugural arrangement in 2008.
This year’s 19th annual event will bring together A1GP World Cup of Motorsport and the home-grown V8 Supercars Championship Series for the first time along with a bumper support category including Strategic Airlines Formula Ford, for four days and nights of action at what is one of the world’s great sporting festivals.
Jaguar XJ revealed Just hours before the official release of the new Jaguar XJ, US internet sites did the usual task of spoiling the surprise with the photos below. The new car gives off a very similar resemblance to the XF in front but ends off with an executive, Bentley feel at the rear, the new car looks remarkably similar to the Cars in Action July edition depiction.
This XJ intends to compete in the class segment led by the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S–Class and Audi A8 and with its new, sleeker style it could claim back some lost respect.
The new Jag is also said to feature a high-tech aerospace-inspired aluminum body architecture for the first time.
Power units will include a 202kW, 600Nm 3-litre twin turbo diesel and the 5-litre naturally aspirated V8. The XJR will probably make use of the 380kW used in the XFR but will have its power increased to compete with the likes of Merc’s S 63 AMG and the BMW 760i.
BMW's Mario Theissen slams Bernie Ecclestone Bernie Ecclestone comments about Adolf Hitler have been condemned as "disgusting" and "wrong" by the BMW Sauber principal, Mario Theissen, who has become the first Formula One figure to condemn the 78-year-old after his remarks praising the Nazi leader for his ability "to get things done." Ecclestone, the sport's commercial rights holder, has since apologized unreservedly.
He is still due to visit the Nürburgring this weekend and it is understood he will issue a further apology but the German team's manager is extremely unhappy with the comments. "It's obviously wrong. Disgusting," said Theissen. "Apparently he was shocked himself when he was confronted by what he had said. He has meanwhile made some comments and, from what I have heard, he will make some more comments as soon as he is here and I think this is necessary."
There is frenzied speculation over whether Ecclestone, the sport's commercial rights holder, will make an appearance at the German circuit. There also paddock speculation that CVC capital partners, the investment firm that control's Ecclestone's business, is even more furious at his comments than has been suggested which they feel were not only tasteless but bad for business.
Villeneuve to drive in Montreal race Alan Labrosse, owner of Autodrome St-Eustache and promoter of the Tide 250, is pleased to announce that racecar superstar Jacques Villeneuve has agreed to team-up with Andrew Ranger and Jonathan Bouvrette for the Tide 250, Round 4 of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series to be held Saturday July 11 in Saint-Eustache.
During a press conference Thursday at the VIP Room of the Autodrome, Jacques Villeneuve was introduced to the media as the new teammate of Andrew Ranger and Jonathan Bouvrette.
Following an agreement with Dave Jacombs, owner of Jacombs Racing in Hamilton, Ontario, and Tide and Walmart, sponsors for the race team, these three champions will drive similar Ford Fusions for the 250-lap race event. For Alan Labrosse, uniting these three drivers in one team for a race that he is promoting is a dream come true.
Nationwide crew chief fined $2,500 Nationwide Series crew chief Randy Hood was fined $2,500 for using a non-standard transmission at Daytona International Speedway. Hood, the crew chief for the No. 01 Chevrolet driven by Danny O'Quinn Jr., was penalized on Thursday because the transmission did not meet the minimum weight specifications for the July 3 race at Daytona. The infractions were discovered during post-qualifying inspection.
IndyCar Watkins Glen TV RatingUPDATE The Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen, which aired starting at 1 p.m. Sunday, registered a final 0.87 Nielsen rating nationally, meaning just more than 1 million TV households tuned in. The national rating beat other ABC IRL races at Milwaukee (May 31), which was 0.6, and Iowa (June 21), which was 0.8, indicating IRL fans are beginning to prefer road racing, probably because they now recognize road races put driver talent at a premium.
07/06/09 The overnight TV Rating for the IndyCar Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen on ABC Sunday earned a 0.9 overnight rating, despite being up against Wimbledon. This is better than most of the IRL's oval track ratings (NASCAR rules the oval track market in America), and it dwarfs the IRL's Versus ratings.
NASCAR buys Jeff Gordon's Racing School The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) announced today an agreement to rebrand the former Jeff Gordon Racing School into the NASCAR Racing Experience. The multi-year licensing agreement brings an authentic racing experience to NASCAR fans, its sponsors and business partners at racetracks throughout the country.
The NASCAR Racing Experience (NRE) provides a menu of racing programs from a ride-along as a front-seat passenger to the full racing experience which puts fans behind the wheel of an authentic race car. The program will use current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racecars for all of its programs.
“We have provided more than 200,000 driving experiences to race fans and business partners since 1998,” said Robert J. Lutz, President and CEO of NASCAR Racing Experience. “This new step in becoming an officially licensed NASCAR property further enhances the program to allow it to expand our reach.”
News briefs from the Nurburgring (GMM) Red Bull's technical director Geoff Willis has left the team, just three weeks after the RB5 he jointly penned with Adrian Newey recorded a dominant one-two victory at Silverstone. The Briton joined the Milton Keynes-based squad almost two years ago to the day, having left Honda in 2006. The reasons for his departure are not yet known.
A new leisure centre at the Nurburgring was inaugurated on Thursday, with the centerpiece one of the world's fastest rollercoaster’s that at one point speeds alongside the pit straight. However, the project has also been controversial, as a scandal relating to the financing resulted in the resignation of a politician earlier this week.
For a PR event, world champion Lewis Hamilton drove a 75-year-old Mercedes W25 formula one car around the original Nurburgring 'Nordschleife' on Thursday. Only brave souls dare mention Adolf Hitler at present without rapidly condemning Bernie Ecclestone's Times interview, but it might be noted that the W25 was commissioned with the support of the notorious German chancellor.
Raikkonen not set to quit F1 for rallying (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen on Thursday dismissed the media's link between his future at Ferrari, his growing passion for competitive rallying, and the rumors about Fernando Alonso.
Succinctly, one line of speculation in the Nurburgring paddock will have you believe the 29-year-old Finn is set to depart his Ferrari contract one year early to make room for Alonso and a 2010 switch to the world rally championship.
"You ask the same question (as usual), so I will give you the same answer -- I have a contract with the team," Raikkonen told a member of the international media in the Ferrari motor home on Thursday.
"Maybe you can ask them (Ferrari) if there are any changes planned," he added.
FIA Statement on FOTA situation The governing body of the Formula One Series, the FIA, released a statement in another attempt to explain the ongoing situation with the Formula One Teams Association regarding next year's regulations.
The statement from the FIA follows:
Before the FOTA's decision to walk out of yesterday's Technical Working Group meeting, the President of the FIA wrote twice to the President of FOTA to remind him that any amendments to the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship regulations were subject to the unanimous approval of the five teams that had already entered for next season under the rules as published.
Geoff Willis, the technical director of Red Bull Racing has left the team, with barely half of the season gone. The exact reasons for his departure are not known as yet but Sebastian Vettel confirmed it in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live’s Holly Samos this afternoon. Vettel added that the team would not be destabilized by the departure.
“Geoff did a lot of work and thanks to him we are where we are now. It’s always very difficult if someone leaves but we have a very good harmony in the team and it shouldn’t affect our performance at all. We know what we have to do and where we want to go.”
F1 Circus/PR stunt continues: FOTA 'walks out' of FIA meetingUPDATE #2 A reader writes, Dear AR1, This is just getting silly. I am beginning to think you are correct - these annual controversies are very suspicious and could be fabricated to get free PR. Pat McCune
07/09/09 (GMM) F1's short period of faux-peace ended dramatically on the eve of the German grand prix, and on Thursday the battle via media was back in high gear.
After the eight FOTA teams walked out of a FIA meeting on Wednesday, the governing body hit back with a 700-word press document accusing the Geneva based alliance of not telling the truth in its Wednesday release.
In an article posted on the official Ferrari website, meanwhile, the Italian team cherry-picked the media coverage of the resumption of hostilities to issue a strong rebuke of the sport's ageing figureheads Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone.
A section of a Daily Mail article described the pair as "gruesome" and "awful men" and said they "can't be removed from public life quickly enough".
The Ferrari piece called the British newspaper "incisive" and the verdict "telling".
The FIA was also in fighting mood, insisting FOTA - and "anyone with an elementary knowledge of motor sport governance" - knows that rules can only be amended with unanimity.
"To suggest that FOTA were only made aware of this during the meetings of yesterday is quite simply untrue," said the Paris body. "So is the implicit claim that they were all unaware of one of motor sport's basic principles."
Edwards Visits His “Home Track” The last time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Carl Edwards visited Kansas Speedway, he was putting a bonzai-move on Jimmie Johnson to try and capture his first Sprint Cup Series victory at Kansas Speedway. Unfortunately, the move didn’t work as he had planned and Edwards spent the ensuing press conference explaining why he used the move.
Today, Edwards visited Kansas Speedway for the first time since the race and reminisced with local reporters about the move.
“The last time I was here, I put my car in the fence,” said Edwards, as he walked up to a group of reporters waiting to take a few laps around Kansas Speedway with Edwards in a Ford Mustang, provided by Bonner Springs Ford.
Before the rides, the Columbia, Missouri native conducted several “pre-race” interviews and expressed both his attraction to Kansas Speedway and why he considers it his home track.
Aus GP chief calls on Mosley to quit (GMM) The boss of the Australian grand prix has risked the wrath of formula one's governing body by calling for the head of Max Mosley.
Ron Walker, chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, threatened to axe the Melbourne event if the sport cannot resolve its political problems.
"If the disunity continues Melbourne will seriously consider its position on continuing with formula one," he told Melbourne's Age newspaper from Europe, where he has been in talks with Bernie Ecclestone.
Walker said the ideal resolution would be for 69-year-old Mosley to honor his promise to vacate the post as FIA president.
"In my view Mr. Mosley should walk away from the sport with dignity rather than slowly strangle to death the great brand of formula one," he said.
Timo Glock set to unveil his new look Panasonic Toyota Racing driver Timo Glock will take the wraps off his new-look helmet this afternoon at the Nürburgring, venue for this weekend's German Grand Prix.
Over 170 children responded to the Panasonic 'Kids School' competition to design new helmet colors for Timo to wear throughout the German Grand Prix weekend, before reverting to his usual design for the rest of the season.
The competition was open to school children throughout Germany from the ages of five to 17.
Ecclestone still plans to attend German GPUPDATE Bernie Ecclestone has found himself in even hotter water today after comments he allegedly made to reporters. According to the Daily Mail, the FOM Chairman reacted angrily to being informed that the World Jewish Congress had called for his resignation.
‘It’s a pity they didn’t sort the banks out,’ he is quoted as saying by the Mail.
‘They have a lot of influence everywhere,’ he added.
The sinister nature of Ecclestone’s reported comments – which come days after a furor over his Hitler remarks – will not go down well with German companies ahead of this weekend’s German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. A number of high-ranking German officials have called for Ecclestone not to attend the event because of his words in recent days.
The row surrounding Ecclestone does not bode well for the future of the sport either. The existing management – Ecclestone and FIA President Max Mosley – was already seen to be anachronistic. But teams with squeaky-clean brand images cannot afford to be associated with a condonement of Adolf Hitler, especially if – like BMW and Mercedes – they are German. Rumors that are probably unfounded have linked the German teams to a boycott of the grand prix on Sunday in protest at Ecclestone.
But a spokesman for Germany’s Central Council of Jews called for teams to abstain from working with Ecclestone nonetheless.
‘No team should work with him any more – a boycott would be more than appropriate.’
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone insists he will attend this weekend's German grand prix at the Nurburgring.
The F1 chief executive is embroiled in a scandal regarding his comments in a media interview about Hitler, which has already led to the cancellation of a meeting on Sunday with a German state premier.
It also emerged that Ecclestone, 78, has called off his attendance at an opening ceremony for improvements at the venue, sparking suggestions he may skip the race weekend altogether.
But asked by Bild newspaper if he plans to attend the grand prix, the Briton answered: "Of course. I go to all the races."
NASCAR Daytona TV rating TNT coverage of Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway earned a 3.1 household rating from Nielsen Media Research. The rating was 18.4 percent lower than the 3.8 TNT earned for the race in 2008 as NASCAR continues to fall from popularity.
House panel seeks to protect GM, Chrysler dealers Congress will take up the contentious issue of closing auto dealers this month, after the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment that seeks to overturn the decision by General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Group LLC to close nearly 3,000 dealers. U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Ohio, said the proposal would "force Chrysler and GM to restore franchise agreements that were killed in bankruptcy proceedings or terminated by automakers."
The amendment passed late Tuesday on a voice vote to the Financial Services spending bill, which has the support of Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the House Appropriations Committee chairman.
Another House proposal to hamstring GM's plans to terminate franchise agreements with nearly 1,400 dealers, and seeking to reopen 789 Chrysler dealerships that closed last month, has 202 co-sponsors, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass.
Ontario Honda Dealers support Tracy for TorontoUPDATE
Paul Tracy's Ontario Honda Dealers livery for Toronto
Here is a photo of Paul Tracy's car in his new livery for this weekend's Honda GP of Toronto Indy Car race.
06/23/09 Canadian Paul Tracy’s KV Racing Technology car will be sponsored by the Ontario Honda Dealers Association, and will support Wounded Warriors.ca., at the Honda Indy Toronto, July 12 on the streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Tracy, the 2003 Champ Car World Series champion, is one of the most successful and exciting drivers in the history of open-wheel racing. The native of Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, will pilot the #15 Ontario Honda Dealers – Wounded Warriors.ca – KV Racing Technology Honda/Dallara/Firestone machine.
“We are extremely pleased that Paul Tracy will pilot a KV Racing Technology entry with sponsorship from the Ontario Honda Dealers Association in support of Wounded Warriors.ca,” said KVRT co-owner Jimmy Vasser. “Having Paul drive in front of his countrymen with an organization like Wounded Warriors.ca on the sidepods of a KVRT car is an honor and a privilege. I personally want to thank the Ontario Honda Dealers Association for making this possible.”
Peugeot commits to race at Petit Le Mans, no word on Audi Peugeot’s next race will be at Road Atlanta, three months after it won June’s 24 Hours of Le Mans ahead of archrival Audi. The French manufacturer confirmed that it will field a pair of its 908 HDi turbo diesel prototypes in the Petit Le Mans 1,000-mile endurance event. Audi also confirmed that it scrapped its plan to enter the next round of the Le Mans Series in Europe in Portugal.
Peugeot Sport team manager Serge Saulnier explained that it is vital that the team keeps racing as it gears up to defend its Le Mans crown in 2010.
“If we are to run at Le Mans next year, and we should know [if we are] in a few weeks, it is important to keep running, keep developing the car and keep improving as a team,” he said. “We need to maintain the momentum of the program.”
Two new videos We have added two new videos to our Home Page. In the first Toyota F1 driver Timo Glock previews his home GP in Germany and in the 2nd is a feature on the Day In The Life of an F1 driver at Williams.
Billionaire Bruton gets $37M from poor taxpayers in Kentucky The hood of a pace car parked in victory lane at Kentucky Speedway was Gov. Steve Beshear's desktop during a ceremonial signing Wednesday of an incentives bill designed to help attract a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race to the track.
Beshear presented the pen that he used to Bruton Smith, the chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which bought the track in December.
"He got the pen," Beshear said. "We're going to get the race."
That's the hope. Beshear signed House Bill 3 into law June 26 after it passed the Senate and House during last month's special session.
The bill includes a provision that offers Kentucky Speedway as much as $36.7 million in sales tax credits over the next 20 years. The tax break would help SMI pay for what could be a $100 million expansion, but is contingent on Kentucky Speedway hosting a race featuring NASCAR's marquee series.
"I think this sends a very strong message to NASCAR that Kentucky is ready, willing and able to step up and do everything possible to make this track a success and to make a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race here a big success," Beshear said. "We've shown we know how to put on big sporting events successfully with the Kentucky Derby every year.... We know how to do this."
After win at Watkins Glen, Wilson bullish on Toronto After his popular victory at Watkins Glen last Sunday Justin has been on the go all week, fulfilling many and varied media commitments as the IndyCar Series heads to Canada for the next two events. First up is this weekend's Honda Indy Toronto around the streets of Exhibition Place.
"It's exciting to be back here in Toronto," said Justin. "There's a great atmosphere here, the fans are really into open wheel racing and it's a fun event for the drivers. As street tracks go, there's an interesting mix of high and low speed corners, some elevation changes and a mix of surfaces which adds to the challenge."
Breakaway plans 'not buried yet' - Howett (GMM) The threat of a breakaway series remains a viable "alternative", FOTA vice-chairman John Howett insists.
Shortly before the conflict between the eight rebel teams and the governing body reignited on Wednesday, the Toyota team principal suggested that a resumption of hostilities could again lead to the threat of exodus.
The Briton is quoted by the Financial Times Deutschland as saying FOTA's breakaway plans have "not been buried yet".
Howett said he hopes the Paris peace accord becomes a reality, "however if anything was to happen, we do have alternatives".
On Wednesday, Howett's doubts rapidly materialized, when during a meeting in Germany the FIA's Charlie Whiting provoked a FOTA walkout by saying that non-FOTA teams, including the three new 2010 entrants, must consent to next year's amended rules.
British newspapers then reported the curious moment when, as Jenson Button arrived at Dusseldorf airport for the Nurburgring event, his team boss Ross Brawn was speeding through departures to return to London for emergency FOTA talks.
"What a shameful mess," said the Daily Mail, echoing widespread dismay that, as at Silverstone, another race weekend of political reporting seems on the agenda.
Said the Daily Telegraph: "Yet another race weekend is set to be overshadowed by off rather than on-track pyrotechnics."
Britain's Guardian newspaper senses the wily hand of controversial FIA president Max Mosley, attempting to prolong the saga so that FOTA will run out of "time to organize a breakaway series".
An unnamed team insider said giving the new teams power over next year's rules is "extremely provocative", adding: "Max really seems to have gone out of his way to wind everybody up on this issue.
"Most of us think that they should not be allowed a vote on these matters, although by all means let them attend the meetings and listen to what is being discussed," the insider said.
A reader of the American website speedtv.com neatly observed: "Time for FOTA to put up or grab their ankles."
CNBC's "Inside Track: Refueling the Business of NASCAR"UPDATE A reminder that this program will premiere tonight, Thursday, July 9 at 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm and 10:00 pm - 11:00 pm ET, and early Friday morning, July 10 at 1:00 am - 2:00 am ET on CNBC.
07/05/09 CNBC's "Inside Track: Refueling the Business of NASCAR" hosted by Emmy-Nominated CNBC Sports Business Reporter, Darren Rovell, examines a sport that was once seemingly unstoppable. Infamous for its ties to southern bootleggers and famous for filling some of the largest venues in the world - 200,000 fans at some speedways – a decade of growth made it the fastest growing sport in America. But the rise of the 90s has given way to a new century recession. An imploding car business and shrinking sponsorship budgets are threatening the corporate dollars that are the sport's very lifeblood. NASCAR is now feeling the pressure of the economic implosion as the companies whose names are decaled on the cars are reconsidering their investments. Owned and controlled by the France family, NASCAR is looking at ways to weather the storm. "Inside Track: Refueling the Business of NASCAR" will premiere on Thursday, July 9th at 9:00pm, 10:00pm and 1:00am and re-air on Sunday, July 12th at 10:00pm and Monday, July 13th at 10:00pm.
Michael Andretti in 2001 after winning the Toronto race for record 7th time
An auto racing event on the streets of Toronto was first staged in 1986 as part of the PPG/CART IndyCar World Series. Then known as the Molson Indy Toronto, it marked the first time that open-wheel cars raced in the English-speaking part of Canada since the United States Auto Club sanctioned races on the Mosport road course about an hour north of Toronto in 1977 and '78.
The Toronto course is a combination of public streets and roads that wind their way through the Canadian National Exhibition Centre, a permanent fairgrounds area five minutes from downtown.
From the start, the 1.721-mile circuit was considered an exciting and challenging street course; the sharp, right-hand Turn 1 and the Turn 3 hairpin at the end of the back straight (known most of the year as Lakeshore Drive) provide excellent passing opportunities. The rest of the course is tight and technical, with the exception of the fast left-hander that closes the lap. That corner was modified in 1994 after Bryan Herta crashed and suffered leg injuries during the 1993 race.
Hometown race for Hinchcliffe For the past month, James Hinchcliffe has been fielding calls and been solicited via e-mail and Facebook for tickets to the inaugural Honda Indy Toronto.
" 'Hey, James, haven't spoken with you in a while but do you have tickets to the Indy this year?' " the gregarious Firestone Indy Lights driver says. "I wish I had a huge chunk I could give to everybody but we're limited and we still want the race to be supported so go and buy the tickets. They're very reasonable and worth every penny because it's a good show."
Partly, that's why the weekend event is so popular - it's a good show as Torontonians shed the layers of clothing and lap up the summer sun along the Lake Ontario circuit. Hinchcliffe, a Toronto native who was born the same year the city hosted the first open-wheel race on the streets (1986), also will have the opportunity to compete on the course. He'll drive the No. 7 Hinchtown/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car in the Grand Prix of Toronto on July 11.
Q&A Toronto race boss Charlie JohnstoneUPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, Not sure who your "source" regarding the Toronto marketing is, but he must be living under a rock! I have lived in Toronto all my life and have not seen this much marketing and activation in all the years that Molson was involved. Honda has had dealership promotions with show cars going on for at least three months and are running lots of Indy based television commercials. Their salespeople are even wearing Indy Car shirts in the dealerships. Budweiser had a huge display in The Beer Stores all during June. I even bought a case of Bud that had the Honda Indy logo on all the cans and a sweepstakes card inside to win tickets (I didn't win!). Even the majority of the bars around town have Budweiser Honda Indy signage on display. Schick even has a TV commercial featuring Hideki Mutoh's car.
As far as Andretti Green not promoting, why wouldn't they want to put in the effort and make money? I've never heard anything about them being guaranteed money from the government and think that is just an urban legend. By the way, I just came from a huge Honda Indy display at Yonge Dundas Square that was put on by Andretti Green. It far outclassed any street party Molson ever did. And there are street banners advertising the Indy all over Toronto. The Toronto Sun has been full of Honda Indy ads for the past two months.
Sounds like your "source" is full of Champ Car flavored sour grapes. I miss the Champ Cars as much as the next guy, but it's great to have the Indy back. Let's save our criticisms for after the race and see if it is really a success. Ross Davies, Toronto
Dear Ross: Source was a Toronto based journalist, but the person is known to have a NASCAR bias, so that could explain it. Mark C.
07/07/09 Charlie Johnstone has been a part of Indy-style racing in Canada since he toured Ontario in a van to promote the inaugural Molson Indy Toronto in 1986.
Johnstone has since worked with former race promoter Molstar Sports and Entertainment and served as driver Paul Tracy's manager/agent for six years. When the Champ Car World Series took over promotion of the Toronto event in 2007, Johnstone was tabbed as vice president and general manager, and he maintains that position in the run-up to the first race under Indy Racing League sanction.
Johnstone talked to indycar.com about the re-christened Honda Indy Toronto on July 12 on the temporary street circuit.
Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman discuss Allstate 400 THE MODERATOR: We have two great drivers coming in here in the middle of the summer for a race. Ryan and Tony are here to talk about the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, and we're very appreciative of them coming to do that.
Tony, we're going to start with you. You've been talking a lot lately about the success of your team, and it's surprising a lot of people. When you looked at the schedule for this year and set expectations, did the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard jump out as one of the goals for the team?
TONY STEWART: You know, honestly this was a project that was so big that I'm not sure that we really actually set goals other than what I had instilled in Bobby Hutchens and Darian Grubb and Tony Gibson and Ryan. I wanted us to go to the racetrack each week, give 100 percent, and our competition meetings are on Monday. I wanted us to go back on Mondays and sit down and discuss everything that happened during the weekend; talk about the things we did right, talk about the things we did wrong, and talk on both of those sides how we can make things better for the next week. So that was my goal, was just to make progress every week.
You know, the success that we've had up to this point of the season has come much quicker than any of us I think would have dreamed, but we're very pleased with it, very excited about it. I feel fortunate about it.
Massa: A lot depends on tires “I arrived back in Europe earlier this week, having spent the longer than usual break since the last race, at home in Sao Paulo.
It was an enjoyable time, but rather quiet, as I just wanted to enjoy spending some time with my wife, who is pregnant, expecting our first child in November. Perfect timing from us for the baby to arrive conveniently after the end of the Formula 1 season! Everything is going well and it is a nice feeling knowing I am soon going to be a “papà.” Apart from that, I took part in a karting race with some friends. It was nothing serious, just some fun, driving a small 125 cc kart. Well, with an extra week in between the Grands Prix I had to get some racing done!
AJ Foyt Commentary in USA Today of Watkins Glen Race Let me begin by saying congratulations to team owner Dale Coyne and his driver Justin Wilson on a well-deserved victory at Watkins Glen! I had already left the track but if I'd been there I would have congratulated him personally.
His team has come a long way in the 25 years since he himself first began driving Indy cars in 1984. Like me, Dale has seen a lot of changes in the sport and he has managed to weather them all. His team's first win will be the most popular one of the season without a doubt.
The weather at Watkins Glen International was the best they've had since we've been racing Indy cars there. I was glad to get out of Houston where it was 104 degrees and rising. With temperatures in the 60s on Saturday, it was even a little chilly for this old Texan but it felt good. On race day the weather was in the mid-70s and it was really nice. More....
Heidfeld - 'I almost switched to Brawn' (GMM) With a little twist of fate, the man at the wheel of a Brawn this year could have been Nick Heidfeld.
Last year, we reported strong speculation that the German, who ultimately signed a one-year extension to stay with BMW-Sauber in 2009, was in talks with the Brackley based team's predecessor Honda.
The 32-year-old was ultimately relieved to keep his works cockpit, but if he had reached a deal with Honda, he would no doubt now be at the wheel of the BGP001.
Heidfeld admitted to the Suddeutscher Zeitung newspaper in Germany that he sometimes thinks about how his season would be going had he signed to switch camps.
"Of course I think from time to time what would have happened. In 2008 I was in contact with them," Heidfeld, twelfth in the standings while Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello are first and second, said.
However, when he heard about Honda's decision to withdraw from the sport, Heidfeld admits he was initially relieved before "suddenly they (Brawn) win race after race".
The German also said he is disappointed that politics have all but taken over the media coverage of formula one.
"These days, if I read an interview with someone from F1, I no longer say 'that's interesting'. Instead I ask 'I wonder why is he saying that?' I find that pretty sad," added Heidfeld.
Ross Brawn has been presented with the Award for the Most Outstanding Contribution to the Motorsport Industry by the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) this week. The engineer and team principal of Brawn GP was handed the prize on Monday night, when described as an 'inspirational' and 'exceptional' talent.
A championship winning contributor with both the Benetton and Ferrari teams on eight occasions in total since the mid 1990s, Ross Brawn's BGP 001 car of 2009 is also proving to be an exceptionally strong contender for the title and, as a result of these successes, he joins a long list of motorsport personnel - including Bernie Ecclestone, Jackie Stewart, Stirling Moss, Professor Sid Watkins and Frank Williams - as a winner of the award.
Germany: Bridgestone preview Bridgestone returns to the circuit of Nurburgring after a year's absence where the medium and super soft compound Bridgestone Potenza tires will be used for the German Grand Prix on July 10-12. Last year's race in Germany took place at Hockenheim, so this will be an interesting return to the venue which provided a very exciting wet weather race in 2007. The medium and super soft allocation is the same as used earlier this season in Australia, China and Bahrain.
This is a location which has good historical importance for Bridgestone. The first major European race win on Bridgestone tires occurred here on the Nordschleife circuit in April 1981, when Thierry Boutsen crossed the line first in his BMW-powered March 812 in the Formula 2 championship.
Mosley - five teams can block F1 peace deal (GMM) Max Mosley has reminded formula one teams that next year's budget cap rules can only be overturned if they unanimously agree.
After the World Motor Sport Council meeting late in June, when peace with the rebel FOTA teams was declared, the FIA said the "rules for 2010 onwards will be the 2009 regulations".
But shortly afterwards, FIA president Mosley said in an interview that amending the published regulations actually depended on FOTA striking "an agreement with the Williams and Force India teams and the three new teams".
The 69-year-old Briton has now clarified this point in writing, suggesting that the five teams outside the FOTA alliance can actually block the scrapping of the budget cap due to Article 66 of the International Sporting Code.
Mosley said "no change can be made to the published regulations without the agreement of all confirmed entrants".
In theory, this could be a major problem for FOTA, given not only that the five non-FOTA teams signed up for the budget cap, but that some of the new entrants may be unable to join the 2010 grid without the radical cost reductions.
We reported on Tuesday that all thirteen 2010 teams will meet for technical discussions at the Nurburgring on Wednesday.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Reaches Midpoint Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart needed little time to grasp the driver-owner concept. At the season’s midpoint, he has already:
* Won two races (Pocono and Daytona), becoming the first driver-owner to win a race since Ricky Rudd in 1998, and the first to win multiple races since Rudd in ’97;
* Captured the points lead, the first driver-owner to do so since Alan Kulwicki in 1992;
* Put both of his Stewart-Haas Racing cars in the top 12 in points.
Stewart’s surprising success highlights a season filled with compelling storylines. Competition is strong and balanced, as illustrated by the 11 different race winners this season. There were 12 different winners in all of 2008, including seven drivers who have yet to win this season. In other words, last year’s mark will likely be passed.
Some other statistics gleaned from the first half:
Grubb Named Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Darian Grubb, crew chief for the #14 Burger King Chevy driven by Tony Stewart, has been named the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race following Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. After qualifying was rained out, the #14 team was able to pick the first pit stall by virtue of acquiring the pole position as the points leader. Great track position and a strong car that needed very few changes throughout the evening gave the team an advantage over the rest of the field. Stewart led the most laps in the race and resided in the top-three for nearly all of the 400 miles completed. In addition to the $1,000 check, the winning crew chief will receive signage to announce the win on their pit box the following week. The crew chief with the most weekly wins will be honored as the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and will be presented a $20,000 check at the season finale in Homestead. Wypall
NAPA extends with MWR Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced that NAPA Auto Parts has signed a multi-year contract to continue its primary sponsorship with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organization, and has named two-time Nationwide Series champion and 2007 Chase participant Martin Truex, Jr. as its driver. Starting in 2010, the car number on the NAPA Auto Parts Toyota will be the #56, a number that has been in the Truex racing family for three generations. MWR co-owner Michael Waltrip, the only full-time driver NAPA has had since joining the Sprint Cup division in 2001, will drive a limited schedule, to include the 2010 Daytona 500 driving the #55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota - an event in which Waltrip and NAPA have shared two memorable victories. Waltrip will retain the number 55. The owner points earned during the 2009 Sprint Cup campaign will be transferred to Truex's full-time effort. MWR PR
ISC reports drop in admissions revenue International Speedway Corp. has seen revenues drop 13.6 percent and has reported a loss for the first six months of its 2009 fiscal year - the loss mostly attributed to a write-down of $55.6 million for struggling merchandise arm Motorsports Authentics. In releasing its financial statement for December 2008-May 2009, ISC said it has seen admissions revenue drop 16.5 percent, motorsports-related revenue drop 8.7 percent and food, beverage and merchandise revenue drop 33.7 percent. Admissions revenue for March-May (including NASCAR Sprint Cup weekends at Martinsville, Phoenix, Talladega, Richmond and Darlington) were down 18.2 percent. The track operator has had a net loss of $6.5 million for the first half of the year, compared to a profit of $62.25 million in the first half of last year. SceneDaily
Goodyear conducts tire test at Bristol Drivers from NASCAR's top three series were at Bristol Motor Speedway Tuesday for a closed-session tire test to help Goodyear determine the best compounds for the upcoming August races. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular #07-Casey Mears tested tires for the Aug. 22 Sharpie 500, while Jason Keller and Steve Wallace ran laps on behalf of the Nationwide Series competitors who will race in the Aug. 21 Food City 250. Past Camping World Truck Series champions Todd Bodine and Ron Hornaday were on hand representing that series. After spending the morning hours working rubber into the track, the drivers began to get a feel for what to expect in August. Bristol Motor Speedway PR
Wheldon giving Earnhardt Jr. IndyCar Two-Seater Ride at IMS Two of the National Guard's biggest racing stars will be sharing a ride in an IndyCar this Thursday when Panther Racing driver, and former Indianapolis 500 winner, Dan Wheldon will give NASCAR Sprint Cup star #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. a ride in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Earnhardt Jr. is in Indianapolis to promote the upcoming July 26th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and Wheldon is traveling to Canada immediately after Thursday's event for the Honda Indy Toronto IndyCar Series race, which will be held on Sunday. Earnhardt will also turn laps in the historic #16 Noc-Out Hose Clamp Special that Mauri Rose and Floyd David co-drove to victory in the 1941 Indianapolis 500. Panther Racing PR
Truex: Too Many questions at EGR to stay Martin Truex, who won two championships in what is now the Nationwide Series with Chance 2 Motorsports (a division of Dale Earnhardt Inc.) and then became a full-time Cup driver for DEI in 2006, said he believed the future of Michael Waltrip Racing was much more solid than that of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, the result of a merger between DEI and Chip Ganassi Racing after last season. “For me, there was a lot less in question at EDR,” said Truex, who won one race and made the Chase with DEI in 2007. “They were able to answer more questions. It was easier to see where they were heading. The picture was just a lot more clear for me. … It’s solid." SceneDaily
Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes; nor does success fall into the laps of most new race programs. It’s the very nature of things for start-up race programs to face a steep learning curve, one made all the more challenging by the fact that there are usually some very worthy competitors who have already learned plenty…and who aren’t about to stop learning to enable the new kids on the block to catch up.
Case in point, the GT2 class of the American Le Mans Series, circa 2009. The competition features a couple of manufacturers, teams and at least one tire manufacturer who have become quite accustomed to winning in recent years. Do the names Flying Lizard, Risi Competizione, Porsche, Ferrari and Michelin ring any bells?
Dixons welcome arrival of new daughter Scott and Emma Dixon are happy to announce the arrival of their new daughter Poppy Davies. Scott returned to Indianapolis in time for the birth of his baby daughter after finishing third in the Camping World at The Glen on July 5. Photos of Poppy Davies Dixon and her proud parents on IndyCar.com.
(GMM) As at Silverstone, the weather could again play into Red Bull's hands this weekend as its drivers try to close the points gap on championship leaders Brawn.
Temperatures for the Nurburgring circuit are forecast to stay below 20 degrees (C) for the three-day event, which would not suit the BGP001 car or the smooth driving style of Jenson Button.
Rain is also a distinct possibility in the fickle Eifel region.
At cool Silverstone nearly three weeks ago, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber finished first and second, with Vettel able to bite 7 points out of struggling Button's lead in the drivers' standings.
But some observers believe the high-speed nature of Silverstone meant that Brawn was not able to display its superiority under braking, and that Red Bull will be hard pressed to repeat its British dominance at the Nurburgring.
Opponents of GM plan move to block deal Two groups opposing the sale of General Motors Corp.’s assets to create a new company have asked a judge to have their appeals bypass the U.S. District Court and go directly to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
If that does not happen, one of the groups — the Ad Hoc Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants — has asked the court to temporarily halt the deal.
“In the event this Court does not certify the appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals, this Court should stay the sale order until the District Court has an opportunity to hear the appeals,” the asbestos group said in court filings.
The asbestos group said it and tort claimants will “suffer irreparable harm absent a stay … because the closing of the sale may well moot the issues for appeal.”
Roundtrip shuttles available for Allstate 400 The Town of Speedway is facilitating roundtrip bus service for Allstate 400 at the Brickyard fans Sunday, July 26 at three convenient locations, including two in downtown Indianapolis and one at Indianapolis International Airport.
Service will be provided by Transportation Management Services (TMS) and the Free Enterprise System, Inc. Both companies will serve fans with air-conditioned shuttles and handicapped-accessible vehicles on all routes. Shuttle details:
Stewart’s Team Claims Tissot Pit Crew Award in Daytona Tony Stewart’s crew won the Tissot Pit Road Precision Award in Saturday night’s (July 4) NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway.
The fast pit stops by the No. 14 crew helped Stewart win the 160-lap, 400-mile race. Stewart’s Chevy Impala SS spent the least amount of time on pit road – 238.890 seconds.
"The guys on this Burger King/Old Spice/Office Depot/U.S. Army Chevrolet team did an awesome job,” said Stewart. “They had great stops all night long. They were just consistent.”
The No. 14 over-the-wall crew consists of: Jeff "Gooch" Patterson (gasman), Scott Radel (catch can), Rick Pigeon (jackman), Kelly Kellis (front tire changer), Todd Drakulich (front tire carrier), Daniel Smith (rear tire changer) and Mike “Shrek” Morneau (rear tire carrier). The team's crew chief is Darian Grubb and the pit crew coach is Joe Piette Jr.
Conquest Racing and King Tut Together Again After a successful venture together at this year’s Indianapolis 500, Conquest Racing and the Rubicon Sports Agency are thrilled to announce an extension of the partnership with the King Tut exhibition “Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs and exhibition organizers Arts and Exhibitions International to include next week’s Honda Indy Toronto.
“Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs” will make its exclusive Canadian appearance at the Art Gallery of Ontario from November 24, 2009 to April 18, 2010, marking the first time in 30 years an exhibition of King Tut’s treasures has visited Toronto. As in Indy, a golden image of the boy pharaoh will once again be featured on the cockpit of the #34 Conquest Racing car of Montreal driver Alex Tagliani with additional King Tut branding on the front wing.
MWR Press Conference live on SPEED Michael Waltrip Racing and NAPA Auto Parts press announcement will be televised live on SPEED today, July 7,and streamed on SPEEDtv.com starting at 12:30 p.m. ET. At that press conference, MWR is expected to announce that Martin Truex Jr. will drive the #55 NAPA Toyota next season, as team co-owner Michael Waltrip will focus on management responsibilities. More at SPEEDtv.com
German Grand Prix Preview Q&A with Timo Glock What is your history with the Nürburgring? The first time I went there was in 2000 when I was racing in ADAC Formula Junior, during my first season of car racing. Since then I've been there quite a lot, particularly before I reached Formula 1 in 2004 as basically all my racing was in Germany. So it feels like a second home to me. It's also a race where I have generally always had success; I won or was on the podium in almost every race I've had there.
What is your best memory of the track? I have a lot of good memories but the best is probably from GP2 in 2007. The year before I was not in a competitive car and I struggled in the midfield, which is basically my only bad memory of the track. But when GP2 went back there in 2007 I was with iSport so it was a different story. I qualified on pole by more than half a second and won the feature race, then finished fifth in the sprint race. That was a really good weekend for my championship and it's the last time I raced at the Nürburgring so I hope I can keep up the good record!
Is it special for you to race there? Nowadays it is a great feeling to race at the Nürburgring because I am in my own country, with lots of my fans in the grandstands and some family and friends around as well. It's also one of Toyota's home races so that makes it special for the team too. But I have to say until I started competing in Formula 1 or GP2 it wasn't unusual at all to be racing on home ground because I grew up in German racing so every event was a local one! Once I moved into international competition I only raced in Germany once or twice a year, if at all, so then it became a really special thing for me.
Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC The NASCAR Nationwide Series races in prime time on Friday night as it makes its only appearance of the season at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. ESPN will have a live, high definition telecast of the race on Friday, July 10, beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET with NASCAR Countdown. ESPN2 is the home of the NASCAR Nationwide Series all season, with selected races on ESPN and ABC. The race re-airs Saturday, July 11, at 2:30 a.m. on ESPN2 and again at 1 p.m. on ESPN Classic.
Also this weekend, live coverage of NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying airs Friday at 3 p.m. on ESPN2, while coverage of final practice airs Thursday, July 9, at 7 p.m.
German Grand Prix Preview Q&A with Adrian Sutil The next Grand Prix takes place on your home soil in Germany. What does it mean to race in front of your home crowd? The German Grand Prix is always a special event for me and to race at the Nurburgring has a great feeling. The atmosphere is really special there as the big Nurburgring, the Nordschleife, has so much racing history, it's perhaps one of the most famous circuits in the world. Everywhere around the circuit is just about racing - go into a restaurant and you see a lot of pictures of cars or drivers. It's a great place to be, and to race there as a German gives a special feeling, like you're stepping into the history.
The old Nordschleife was a fearsome track, have you driven it? I've driven round the Nordschleife a few times: normally you go on the Wednesday before the race in a normal road car. It really opens your eyes as it's just an incredible circuit. It gives you ultimate respect for the people who did drive it. You can really compare it to a rollercoaster going up and down - it's just unbelievable. It doesn't matter which car you use, the track is just really impressive. Unfortunately we only drive on the small circuit now but still there is a special something you can feel even on this version.
Shamed Ecclestone goes on 'sorry' offensive (GMM) After describing the outrage sparked by his Hitler comments as a "big misunderstanding" in the German press, Bernie Ecclestone has now turned to the English-speaking media to apologize for the affair.
Jewish groups called for the F1 chief executive's resignation following his controversial Times interview, while a German state premier cancelled a meeting this weekend to discuss the future of the F1 race at Hockenheim.
"First, an apology," the 78-year-old wrote in a column in the same British newspaper on Tuesday.
Ecclestone insisted he does not "support Hitler's atrocities" and admits he was "unwise ... to articulate my points so badly".
In another interview, with the Jewish Chronicle, the Briton said he is "just sorry that I was an idiot", revealing that he actually cried when he once visited the Yad Yashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
"What I regret is people who have taken this the wrong way and have been offended, I'm really, really sad about because I have done an awful lot for the Jewish community, charities and whatever," Ecclestone said.
But in a third interview, for the American news agency Associated Press, he hit back at World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder and others for calling on him to quit.
"I think the people who are saying that haven't got the power to say these things," Ecclestone said, going on to criticize the Council for failing to "sort the banks out" amid the global financial crisis.
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