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DATE News (chronologically)
07/31/08
automotive

Big-3 credit ratings plummet again
General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC had their credit ratings lowered one step further into junk status by Standard & Poor's over concern that shrinking U.S. auto sales will reduce cash flow.

The three U.S. automakers are each rated B-, six levels below investment grade, S&P said today. GM's partly owned finance unit, GMAC LLC, was also lowered to the same rating.

``Liquidity for all three automakers is adequate for now, but will be significantly reduced in the second half of this year and during 2009 by continued heavy losses and cash outflows,'' wrote S&P analyst Robert Schulz in a statement.

Comment
07/31/08
automotive

GMAC posts $2.5-billion second-quarter loss
GMAC Financial Services says it swung to a steep second-quarter loss as slumping vehicle sales and a weak credit and consumer environment weighed on its results.  GMAC says it lost $2.5 billion in the second quarter compared with a profit of $293 million in the same quarter last year. It says its Residential Capital LLC lending division’s loss widened to $1.86 billion from $254 million. GMAC also says it took a $716-million impairment charge during the quarter due to slumping vehicle sales and lower used vehicle prices.

Comment
07/31/08
nhra

Arend is named driver of Kalitta DHL Funny Car
To help preserve the legacy of his legendary son, Scott Kalitta, who died as a result of a high-speed racing accident in Englishtown June 21, Kalitta Motorsports team owner Connie Kalitta will continue his son's passion for acceleration by bringing Scott's DHL Toyota Solara Funny Car back into racing action with Jeff Arend as driver.

Kalitta's dynamic life as both a loving family man and a legendary drag racer will never be matched, but the team chose Arend, a 45-year-old resident of San Dimas, Calif., and 12-year Funny Car veteran, from an extensive list of contenders to wheel the nitro-fueled, 7,000-horsepower DHL entry for the remainder of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series beginning with the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis Aug. 27-Sept. 1.

"We wanted to put someone in the car with experience and someone who would appreciate the opportunity and would fit in with our team personality-wise. We found that in Jeff," drag racing icon Connie said. "We had plenty of candidates for the position, but Jeff most possesses the qualities we are looking for.

Read more & Comment...
07/31/08
nastruck

Jimmie Johnson to drive Randy Moss truck at Bristol
Jimmie Johnson, coming off his victory in last Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, has added a pair of races to his 2008 schedule.  In addition to his duties behind the wheel of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, the two-time reigning Sprint Cup champion will make his Truck Series debut in Bristol on Aug. 20 - driving for NFL star Randy Moss. Johnson will drive the No. 81 Kobalt Tools Silverado fielded by Randy Moss Motorsports.

Johnson also will drive the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet fielded by Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen on Aug. 9.

In Nationwide, Johnson has made 88 starts, with his only victory in 2001 - his second and final full season in the former Busch Series - at Chicagoland.

"Watkins Glen and Bristol are two tracks where I really want a win," Johnson said. "I enjoy racing (on the road course) at Watkins Glen and, for some reason always seem to be a little better there than Sonoma. We've had some top-fives, so, hopefully, this will put us in the win column.

"As for the trucks, I am really looking forward to that. I have never run a truck race, so it should be fun. Heck, my brother Jarit has run more than me. But it's going to be a good time."

Comment
07/31/08
f1

Soft and super soft Bridgestone tires for Hungarian GP
Formula One heads to Hungary for the eleventh round of the FIA Formula One World Championship where Bridgestone’s soft and super soft Potenza tires will tackle the tight turns of the 4.38 km Hungaroring circuit.

The Hungarian Grand Prix – ING Magyar Nagydij – takes place at the slowest permanent race circuit on the calendar and it presents a number of distinct challenges for competitors. As the circuit is not used frequently, it is likely to start the weekend very slippery and dirty before Bridgestone rubber is laid down on the track. This makes it difficult to find the ideal set-up as the circuit presents a moving target, but nevertheless, lap times should fall rapidly over the weekend due to the improving track surface.

The tight and twisty nature of the circuit combined with the difficult surface means that front tire graining, particularly on the left hand side, is likely to be a factor, especially early in the weekend. Heat is another issue in Hungary, as this event has frequently been one of the hottest of the year. It’s not always hot however, and in 2006 Formula One visited an exceptionally wet circuit, leading to an action-packed race. Five of the current Formula One drivers have won at the Hungaroring, Rubens Barrichello, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. This will be the 23rd time the Hungarian Grand Prix has taken place at the Hungaroring.

Hirohide Hamashima, Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development, said:
What are the challenges of the Hungaroring?
“The Hungaroring is an interesting circuit, especially as it is not used much during the year. This means the circuit grip levels experienced on Friday are likely to be very different from those experienced in the race. For deciding set-up and tire strategy, this makes things difficult, and competitors will have to work hard. Tire management, particularly with graining, is very important, and qualifying position is crucial as overtaking is difficult.” Source Bridgestone

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07/31/08
nnw

Ranger added to Montreal field
Andrew Ranger
Stock car prospect Andrew Ranger has nudged his way into what was supposed to be an all-Quebec showdown between Patrick Carpentier and Jacques Villeneuve at the NAPA Auto Parts 200.

The 21-year-old from Roxton Pond, Que., is a late addition to the NASCAR Nationwide series race to be held Saturday at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, where he'll be driving the No. 22 Fitz Motorsports Dodge.

That's the same car Carpentier used to launch his NASCAR career a year ago on the same track, where he took pole position and finished second in the inaugural Montreal race. The former Champ Car and IRL pilot had test driven a stock car for the first time less than a week earlier.

``We got a great opportunity,'' Ranger said Thursday as cars were unloaded from their rigs and pushed to their garages. ``NASCAR Canada helped.

``They said no one was available to drive the No. 22 car and they called us to see if we were interested. It's unbelievable to have that drive. I'm so proud. I'll do my best. To finish in the top 10 would be great for us.''

Comment
07/31/08
ga

Gainsco car damaged in Montreal practice accident
Despite getting caught up in a Thursday afternoon practice accident on the opening day of the Montreal 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and reigning Rolex Series Champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty will be back on track and at full strength for tomorrow's 74-lap race on the 2.709-mile circuit.  Round 10 of the 2008 Rolex Series, the Montreal 200 starts at 4:15 p.m. and can be seen later on Friday in same-day coverage on SPEED at 8 p.m. ET.

Just minutes after setting what was then the quickest lap of Thursday's practice, Fogarty was wheeling the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley through Turn 8 on the Isle Notre Dame track in a fast pack of Daytona Prototypes when they come upon a Mazda RX-8 GT race car that had spun sideways and was blocking the majority of the track.

Read more & Comment...
07/31/08
irl

Wilson uninjured in test crash
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing driver Justin Wilson was uninjured during a crash at approx. 2:45 p.m. EDT today while participating in a one-day test at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway from 2:00 to 10 p.m.  It was the first test on an oval for the team since the pre-season test at Homestead-Miami Speedway March 24-25.

After completing an installation run and a subsequent pit stop to analyze the race car, Wilson returned to the track and was near the end of his first run when he lost control of the race car between Turns 1 and 2 and made contact with the Turn 2 wall.  The car, a new chassis which made its racing debut in Watkins Glen where he started second, sustained an excessive amount of damage and is unlikely to be repaired in time for the IndyCar Series Meijer Indy 300 race here on August 9.  Wilson’s other McDonald’s race car is being driven by teammate Graham Rahal at this test while his No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps race car is being repaired after being hit two separate times in Edmonton.  Following are Wilson’s comments:

JUSTIN WILSON, driver of the No. 02 McDonald’s Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  "I had run about eight or nine laps and was just up to speed and was in the middle of Turns 1 and 2 and suddenly I felt the car straightening out.  It no longer went where I was steering.  I’m not sure what broke but I had no steering and I was heading straight into the wall.  Obviously I am disappointed because we didn’t even get any testing done and there is a lot of damage to my good race car that we had determined would be my road racing car.  The plan was initially not to run it here or on the ovals in general and keep it as good as possible but Graham’s only car was damaged in Edmonton so he had to use my oval car at the test while his is being repaired.  The new car was already proving to be faster and I was enjoying it but it didn’t last for long.” NHLR PR

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07/31/08
alms
irl

Manning to contest two rounds in Le Mans Series
Darren Manning, who competed with Embassy Racing in three rounds of the Le Mans Series last year, will rejoin the team to co-drive the LMP2 WF01 for races at Nurburgring in August and Silverstone in September.

Comment
07/31/08
f1

'Shark fin' bodywork to appear in Hungary
(GMM)  Three more teams are considering racing the so-called 'shark fin' engine cover concept in Hungary this weekend.

Red Bull pioneered the aerodynamic concept this year, and it was subsequently adopted for grands prix by sister team Toro Rosso as well as Renault and Force India.

In the Hungaroring paddock on Thursday, versions of the bodywork could be seen in the team areas for Toyota, Honda and Ferrari, who have all recently tested with the anvil-shaped concept.

"I may have it on (the car) tomorrow," Toyota driver Timo Glock said in Budapest on Thursday.

McLaren has also tested the shark-fin concept but currently has no plans to use the engine cover at a grand prix.

"I feel we didn't really feel a difference, so that's why we haven't run it since then," explained Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen.

World champion Kimi Raikkonen said Ferrari plans to run with the engine cover in Hungary.

"I think we will probably run it tomorrow and see how it is," said the Finn, whose teammate Felipe Massa tried the innovation at the recent Jerez test.

Comment
07/31/08
f1

Kovalainen would spend whole career at McLaren UPDATE (GMM)  26-year-old Heikki Kovalainen on Thursday said he can imagine spending the rest of his formula one career at McLaren.

At the Hungaroring on Thursday, the Mercedes-powered team confirmed that Kovalainen will in 2009 race for a second consecutive year alongside teammate Lewis Hamilton.

The Finn currently trails championship leader Hamilton's tally by 30 points, which had raised speculation McLaren might want to replace Kovalainen.

"I want to become a successful driver in this team and hopefully we can announce at some point in the future that I can stay here for many, many years," he told reporters in Budapest.

"I would be happy to finish my career at this team to be honest," Kovalainen added.

07/31/08 (GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen will stay at McLaren-Mercedes in 2009, the team revealed at the Hungaroring circuit near Budapest on Thursday.

The 26-year-old Finn joined the Woking based squad this year.

His contract was for one guaranteed year, but with an option for McLaren to renew.

"We welcomed Heikki on board at the start of the year.  He is under contract and will race for us in the 2009 season," chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said.

Kovalainen trails championship leader Lewis Hamilton's tally by 30 points, which had raised speculation McLaren might want to replace him for 2009.

Comment
07/31/08
nassprint

Manufacturers in NASCAR for the long ride
Dodge doesn't have a Sprint Cup driver with as many victories this season as Toyota's Kyle Busch (seven) or Ford's Carl Edwards (three). But Mike Accavitti, Dodge's director of marketing communications, said he felt as if his company had trumped its rival automakers when he recently saw a truck sporting flags with the Nos. 18 (Busch) and 99 (Edwards).

"I'd rather have that fan driving our $35,000 truck than flying our $5 flags," Accavitti said with a laugh, noting Dodge research shows NASCAR fans are 50% more likely to buy a truck. "It isn't just Dodge fans that buy our product. Like any consumer group, they'll buy the best value."

With four manufacturers each spending an estimated $100 million-plus annually in NASCAR's premier series, the financial benefit of their involvement must be significant. Despite the industry's gloomy economic outlook, automakers still consider NASCAR a showplace for its showrooms, which makes racing expenditures worthwhile.

General Motors will slice some motor sports programs as part of $10 billion in budget cuts, and auto analysts have warned Chrysler might consider bankruptcy protection in the face of declining sales. But industry observers aren't expecting manufacturers to desert the sport as in the 1970s.

Read more & Comment...
07/31/08
atlantic

Atlantic drivers attend bull riding event
A few hours after the checkered flag dropped on the second race of last weekend’s Rexall Edmonton Indy doubleheader, several Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda drivers made their way to Rexall Place to take in Saturday’s final round of a two-day Professional Bull Riders (PBR) elite Built Ford Tough Series presented by Wrangler (BFTS) event in Edmonton. The opportunity for the drivers was made possible by series presenting sponsor Cooper Tire, which is also the official tire of the PBR.

“After such an exciting weekend of Atlantic racing in Edmonton, it was great to have our Atlantic Championship drivers experience one of the fastest growing sports, Professional Bull Riding,” said Chris Pantani, Director of UHP Marketing and Motorsports for Cooper Tire.  “During our double race weekend, PBR stars Sean Willingham, Mike Lee and Cord McCoy were able to get a behind the scenes look at the premier open-wheel development series.”

Read more & Comment...
07/31/08
British F3

Turvey takes first F3 pole at Spa
Oliver Turvey took his first British F3 pole at Spa-Francorchamps today, to head a Carlin 1-2-3-4 qualifying result ahead of round 15 of the 2008 British F3 International Series.  The Racing Steps Foundation driver had been the quickest driver throughout free practice, and confirmed his front running pace with his first pole of the season. Red Bull driver Brendon Hartley put his team mate under pressure however, lapping just 0.08 second slower to take second on the grid.  Jaime Alguersuari was on the pace to take third place, while Sam Abay completed a Carlin top four, to record the team’s first ever 1-2-3-4 qualifying result. 

As qualifying got underway, Carlin’s International Class drivers were the last to leave the pit lane, with ten minutes of the 30 minute session already gone.  Abay was the fastest Carlin driver at the start, taking provisional pole position on his first attempt. 

Team mates Oliver Turvey and Brendon Hartley soon followed suit making it a Carlin 1-2-3 with 15 minutes to go.  Chasing his first F3 pole, Turvey set the fastest lap and just moments later Alguersuari made it a Carlin lockout on the front two rows, setting the third fastest time. 

For the remainder of the session, Hartley looked to be the most likely to steal pole, closing the gap to Turvey to 0.2 seconds then just 0.08 seconds to claim second on the grid.  As the session entered its final stages, Atte Mustonen set the fourth quickest lap, but the time was disallowed as he was deemed to have jumped the chicane.  The final standing was Turvey, Hartley, Alguersuari, with Abay completing Carlin’s best ever qualifying result. A delighted Oliver Turvey said, “I’m really pleased, we’ve been quickest in free practice, but qualifying always seems different, there’s always the possibility that someone will suddenly go quicker.  The car felt good and I think I might even be able to go faster tomorrow.  It’s great to get my and the Racing Steps Foundation’s first British F3 pole, and hopefully we will be able to get the win tomorrow.”

Team principal Trevor Carlin added, “I’m chuffed to bits with Oliver’s performance as this pole position has been on the cards for the last few races, it’s hard to believe that this is his first of the season.  The whole team has performed incredibly to give us the top four in qualifying and it’s a great testament to all the hard work that has been put in since Brands Hatch.  We’ve still got a bit of fine tuning to do for tomorrow’s qualifying and we hope to be as competitive as we were today.”

Comment
07/31/08
f1

A year on, Alonso and Hamilton happier
(GMM)  One year after their relationship spectacularly imploded, former teammates Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton on Thursday said they are happier now.

The zenith of their troubled tenure alongside one another at McLaren in 2007 was at the Hungaroring circuit, host of the same grand prix this weekend almost exactly a full year later.

"In my opinion, after last year here, there was nothing more to discuss," Spaniard Alonso, who negotiated an early end to his three-year contract at the end of the season and switched back to Renault, told reporters in Budapest on Thursday.

After qualifying on pole for last year's race, Alonso was penalized for deliberately holding up Hamilton in the pitlane -- in retaliation for the British driver earlier refusing to swap positions on the track.

After the incident, Alonso and team boss Ron Dennis had a blazing row, when the Spaniard famously threatened to take incriminating emails relating to the spy scandal to the FIA.

One year on, McLaren fittingly chose Hungary as the place to confirm Alonso's replacement, Heikki Kovalainen, for another season in 2009.

"We're having a much smoother year, it's much more relaxed as it should be, there's a nicer environment," championship leader Hamilton, 23, said on Thursday.

"We don't have any excess baggage on our shoulders."

Alonso also said he was happier this year, despite giving up a title-contending car to drive in the midfield with Renault.

"If I was racing for McLaren now, maybe I am in the same position as I am now, without the possibility to win," he explained.

Alonso lived out the final races of his abortive McLaren tenure last season suggesting he was not receiving equal treatment.

He said on Thursday: "At least I am happy to be with Renault with the full support of the team, with everyone working night and day to give me the best car."

Comment
07/31/08
irl
NASCAR

IRL was right not to include more NASCAR ovals
New Hampshire Motor Speedway executive vice president and general manager Jerry Gappens released a statement Tuesday evening regarding the Indy Racing League's decision to leave New Hampshire Motor Speedway off its 2009 schedule.

"I'm extremely disappointed for our fans, who have given us some real positive feedback about the possible return of IndyCar racing to New Hampshire Motor Speedway," Gappens said in the statement. "In fact, in a recent poll on nhms.com, nearly 80-percent of our fans said they wanted to see this exciting form of motorsports return. That's a strong endorsement, and I don't understand the decision not to include our facility on next year's schedule.

"I think it's a slap in the face to our chairman Bruton Smith and to our company who have been very supportive of the Indy Racing League since its inception, and to [former NHMS owner] Bob Bahre, who was first to agree to go with them when they split off [from CART in 1995].

"I sat in a meeting and watched Bruton ask them for a race here, which they seemed extremely interested in doing, pending scheduling conflicts with Japan. In addition, in that same meeting, they asked him to host the series finale in Las Vegas, which he agreed to and even offered the speedway and financial support to do it this year. Having attended that meeting in early June, it's hard to believe that neither is on the new schedule.

"The feedback that has been conveyed to me is that they don't want to add an additional race to the schedule in respect to the cost to the teams. However, I would think that an additional purse and the strength of adding the seventh largest media market in the country would offset those costs and concerns. I think this market and facility have a lot to offer the team and series sponsors.

"I thought that [Texas Motor Speedway general manager] Eddie Gossage, who on behalf of Speedway Motorsports, made an excellent proposal to the league, which included Las Vegas and New Hampshire. I don't want to burn any bridges, but I am upset to be excluded. I am a big fan of open-wheel racing, strongly admire what the Hulman-George family has done for this sport and promise that we would have worked hard to promote a race in this market. They know they would get an excellent effort from our team here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. History has proven that this venue provided exciting races. Now, we'll see what happens down the road."

AutoRacing1.com's position all along was that the IRL should never race at a race track where the number of grandstands seats were built to accommodate NASCAR races when the IRL can only fill 25% or less.  The empty seats would make (and have in the past made) the IndyCar series look like complete losers.  What sponsor wants to get involved with a series that looks like a loser?  Open wheel racing has failed in these markets in the past and they will fail in the future unless huge sums of money are spent in the market to educate and entice potential new fans.  Apparently the IRL went through a similar thought process and came to the same conclusion.

Comment
07/31/08
f1

FIA gives Glock green light to race
Timo Glock cleared to drive
(GMM) FIA doctors on Thursday gave Timo Glock a green light to race in Hungary this weekend.

The German driver spent the night of the Hockenheim race two weeks ago in a local hospital after his big crash.

But even though he quickly recovered and even tested at Jerez last week, the final hurdle to resuming his race cockpit at Toyota was the medical examination at the Hungaroring.

"The only real after-effect was the many, many interview requests," Glock, 26, laughed to the German news agency SID in Budapest.

"The accident looked more spectacular than it felt in the car," he added.

Comment
07/31/08
formula bmw

Young Mexican continues winning streak in Europe
Eight races, six victories: this is Esteban Gutierrez's impressive record in the 2008 Formula BMW Europe season. When the junior series appeared at the Hockenheimring as part of the Formula One weekend, the Mexican once again dominated proceedings, claiming pole position in both races, before going on to clock the fastest laps and win the races.

"A perfect weekend," was how Gutierrez described his double hat-trick. "Although I have now won six times in a row, I am still trying to take it one race at a time. I am putting aside any thoughts of the overall victory at the end of the season." Adrien Tambay (FR) and local hero Marco Wittmann (DE) finished second and third respectively in both races. Gutierrez now has 226 points overall, and has extended his lead over Tambay (180) and Wittmann (150).

Races nine and ten of the Formula BMW Europe series take place this coming weekend at the Hungaroring, where the BMW Sauber F1 Team will be racing in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Comment
07/31/08
alms

Rahal Letterman Racing Adds ESCORT Radar Detectors
The return of BMW to American Le Mans Series competition with Rahal Letterman Racing in 2009 will provide a new showcase of on-track speed for the fabled German manufacturer, and RLR’s newest sponsor partner will provide the latest technologies in measuring those blinding speeds.

ESCORT Inc. and Rahal Letterman Racing today announced the signing of a multi-year partnership where ESCORT will join the Ohio-based team’s ALMS program as an associate sponsor. ESCORT, the world leader in radar and laser detectors will be an integral part of the new RLR BMW M3 Race Car as it makes it full-season debut in 2009.

“Any time that you can build a relationship with a world leader such as ESCORT, it raises the bar for the entire race program,” said RLR co-owner Bobby Rahal. “We look forward to forging a great partnership with ESCORT in the coming years. I am sure that ESCORT’s cutting-edge technologies will be a vital component in measuring the speeds generated by the RLR BMW M3 Race Car as we prepare for next year’s racing season.”

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07/31/08
f1

No STR driver decisions until September
(GMM)  Gerhard Berger on Thursday said Toro Rosso will not be making any decisions about its 2009 driver lineup until September.

The Austrian former grand prix winner, who co-owns the Faenza based squad with Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz, told the news agency APA that Fernando Alonso is the key to the driver market at present.

At the wheel of STR's Ferrari powered single seaters this year is Sebastian Vettel, who is bound for Red Bull Racing next year, and the struggling French rookie Sebastien Bourdais.

"If Alonso moves," Berger said, "then there could be drivers with experience available."

Presumably, he is referring to the fact that if Alonso moves to Honda next year, then Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello may be on the market.

And if the double world champion sees BMW-Sauber as his new team, then Nick Heidfeld could be the experienced driver looking for a seat.

Berger continued: "There are also good new-generation Red Bull drivers, and Toro Rosso is aligned with the new generation.

"Ideally we would like to have a young driver next to an experienced one.

"We also have to see how Bourdais develops over the second half of the season," he added.

Comment
07/31/08
f1

Max Mosley has full agenda of goals
Q: You’ve survived a lot of calls for your resignation; how do you feel now?

Max Mosley: The idea that has been put around that if someone is the head of a big company they would have to resign – that was true 20 years ago but if you take someone like Lord Browne, the head of BP, I don’t think he had to resign because he was gay and had a rent boy, as they call it; he had to resign because he told a lie about it. You mustn’t lie about what you have done.

People are interested in whether you can do the job. If someone is the right man for the job and there’s no one around who can do it better you’d be crazy to throw him out because of something he does in his private life. Times have moved on.

Q: What about the manufacturers (Honda, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and BMW) who called for your resignation in the days following the first News of the World story?

MM: The four manufacturers put out their statements but it was all based on the Nazi thing, and what annoyed me was that they didn’t pick the phone up and say, ‘Is this true?’

One of the first things you learn when you run any kind of organization is that when someone tells you something that seems outrageous and you are really annoyed with somebody, you’ve always got to haul the somebody in because it is never quite how it was told to you – and they didn’t do that.

Q: What was your thought process when the story broke in News of the World?

MM: My immediate reaction when it happened was that it was completely outrageous. When something like that happens your immediate reaction is to counter-attack and that’s what I did.

People said to me that I should resign, but it was for the FIA to decide that. Bernie Ecclestone said it would be terrible if I lost the vote, but I was prepared to accept that.

If the majority of the members of the FIA thought I should stop then I would have stopped. But when a substantial majority said go on then for me it was a question of attacking the News of the World.

Winning the case was good because it stopped all the nonsense about Nazism and in terms of my ability to do the job, now with the Nazism thing out of the way, it will have no effect at all on me.

Read more & Comment...
07/31/08
alms

Porsche LMP2 engine has Direct Injection
Following in the footsteps of the street Porsche Cayenne and 911, the sports prototype Porsche RS Spyder now profits from direct fuel injection technology (DFI). The new engine, with which Porsche underlines its role as technology leader in energy efficiency, celebrated its race premiere with an LMP2 victory in the American Le Mans Series as Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) took the class win at Mid-Ohio earlier this month. The power output of the successful 2006 and 2007 championship winning Porsche, which has so far claimed victory from four of the six races run in this year’s ALMS, increased with the new engine from 476 to 503 hp (370 kW) at 10,000 revs per minute. Maximum torque rose from 370 Nm (273 ft. lbs.) at 7,500 revs to 385 Nm (284 ft. lbs.) at 8,500 revs. The most compelling feature of the DFI version of the successful Porsche 3.4-litre V8 motor is its improved energy efficiency – an important element in endurance racing. Despite an improved power output, fuel consumption was significantly reduced.

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07/31/08
f1

Mosley downplays KERS incidents
Max Mosley thinks KERS accidents are just the teams pushing the envelope a bit too far.
Max Mosley believes that the new Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) which are set to be introduced into Formula One next season are safe, despite several incidents over the past few weeks.

Some believe that there are safety problems with the KERS after two separate incidents – Red Bull Racing were forced to evacuate their factory when a fire alarm was activated after a battery experiment went wrong. A few days later a BMW-Sauber mechanic was given an electric shock (see video) during a test session after he touched one of the cars which had been fitted with a KERS device.

“For us there are two main areas,” he explained. “There’s what we call the health and safety area, which is in the factory and basic precautions of the car, and then there’s the operating of it - does it cause a danger to the drivers, the marshals, the mechanics and so on? And we’re interested in the operating it bit.

“What happened with BMW was, on the face of it, very surprising because you would think they would either insulate the electrical system or they would earth the car. I don’t know what went wrong, so I can’t comment on it but these are very elementary problems.

“With road cars I think a Toyota Lexus has a 600-volt system, but you don’t get a shock from it.”

Read more & Comment...
07/31/08
automotive

GM warns of dismal 2Q results to be announced Friday
General Motors Corp. plans to report its second-quarter financial results on Friday, the company announced today.

The company is expected to report a “significant second-quarter loss,” GM CFO Ray Young said on July 15 when the automaker outlined its plans for conserving and raising $15 billion through 2009 to improve its cash on hand and convince Wall Street that it is not headed for bankruptcy. Young said then that the second-quarter loss would be, “driven in part by the previously disclosed negative impact of the American Axle and local union strikes in North America, as well as the continued weakness in the U.S. auto market and adverse vehicle segment mix.” Detroit Free Press

Comment
07/31/08
f1

FIA gives Hamilton engine all-clear
(GMM) McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes-Benz engine got the all-clear on Thursday following a routine and thorough inspection at the Hungaroring, the FIA confirmed.

It emerged late last week that F1's governing body would inspect the V8 power-plant, which propelled the championship leader to victory at Hockenheim two weeks ago.

The inspection was the first of its kind this season, part of a process to ensure that all manufacturers are complying fully with the current so-called 'freeze' on most engine development.

Comment
07/31/08
f1

Latest F1 news in brief
  • Alonso agrees - engine freeze has hurt Renault
  • F1 news briefs: Thursday
  • Orgy setup to be revealed soon - Mosley
  • Montezemolo to head new F1 teams' alliance
  • Piquet working harder now - engineer
  • Schu involved in pedestrian crash in UK

Alonso agrees - engine freeze has hurt Renault
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso backed team boss Flavio Briatore's claim this week that Renault has fallen back because of its rivals' unfair approach to the so-called 'freeze' on engine development.

Briatore said that while the French squad conformed with the spirit and letter of the development moratorium, "others took another course and are far ahead of us now".

Alonso, the former double world champion who turned 27 this week, agreed when he addressed Spanish reporters this week.

"Two years ago the R26 was a very good car, in the corners and on the straights.

"Did the freeze harm us?  Perhaps, yes.  Renault has always had a good engine and this year we realize that we are a little bit behind.

"It is always a difficult thing, going to the limits of the legalities.  Maybe we have been more legal than the other teams and have lost 20 or 30 horse power for that reason," the Spaniard added.

Alonso also expressed concern that Renault is one of the teams that is yet to run a version of the KERS system that is allowed in F1 from 2009.

"To spend so long without testing it is not a good sign," he said.

"On the other hand BMW is already using it at the test tracks so I see them with an advantage at the moment."

F1 news briefs: Thursday
(GMM)  The F1 drivers' football team, captained by Michael Schumacher and with opera tenor Placido Domingo as honorary coach, played a charity match against a Hungarian all-star team in Budapest on Wednesday.  The final score was 6-6, watched by 10,000 spectators.

-

F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella's race team, already operating in GP2 and Formula BMW, will also run the football squad AS Roma's entry in the forthcoming inaugural Superleague Formula series.  Roman Fisichella, who drives for Force India, is a lifelong Roma fan and personal friend of captain Francesco Totti.  The first race of the championship across Europe takes place at Donington on August 31.

-

The failed suspension piece that caused Timo Glock to crash heavily at Hockenheim was damaged in incidents that occurred at Silverstone two weeks earlier, Toyota confirmed this week.  The Japanese team said it has "revised its inspection processes" as a result.

-

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali insists the Italian team is not in crisis, despite the uncompetitive showing at Hockenheim two weeks ago.  At the Jerez test last week, it is understood tire-related issues were identified as the cause of the German grand prix slump.  "I think we understand the problems we had," Brazilian driver Felipe Massa said.

Read more & Comment...
07/31/08
tv news
NASSprint

Jimmie Johnson on Live with Regis and Kelly UPDATE A reminder that Jimmie Johnson will be a guest on the "Live with Regis and Kelly" show on Friday, August 1.

07/27/08 Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR driver and winner of Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, will be a guest on the "Live with Regis and Kelly" show on Friday, August 1.  Check your local listings for your time zone.  The network varies.

Comment
07/30/08
irl

IndyCar confirms Australia race for '08, '09? UPDATE #2 Former deputy premier and Gold Coast Indy chairman Terry Mackenroth said he was pleased the contract for this year's race had been finalized.  "We went there earlier this year and they agreed to a six-year deal," Mr. Mackenroth said.  "The actual contract for this year's race we have finalized."

But when IndyCar officials announced next year's 18-race lineup and a longer season that stretches into October, there was no mention of an Australian event.

Mackenroth said the Australian organizers would negotiate with IndyCar officials regarding the status and timing of next year's Gold Coast event.  "Our board has put that on hold until this year's event," he said.  "We want them to see how great this year's event is."

A naming rights sponsor has been finalized and will be announced next week.

07/30/08 In today's IndyCar media conference the IRL's Terry Angstadt was asked how likely is Australia for '09?

"We are in active conversations regarding '09," said Angstadt.  "We are keeping a couple of slots open for them. And we're hopeful it can be announced. When we conclude those we'll certainly let everyone know.  But we're hopeful we will get them included for '09. But just can't indicate that as yet."

07/30/08 The IndyCar Series will travel to Surfers Paradise, Australia for the Gold Coast Indy 300 on Oct. 26, the first IndyCar Series event in the country.

"We are pleased to announce that the IndyCar Series will hold its first event in Australia this October to celebrate the completion of a successful first season of unified open-wheel racing," said Terry Angstadt, president, commercial division for the Indy Racing League. "Dating back to 1991, the Gold Coast Indy 300 has been labeled the race with the hottest cars, the hottest parties and the hottest beaches, with one of the world's most famous beach-side cities, Surfers Paradise, hosting 96 hours of non-stop excitement on and off the racetrack.

"This is a great opportunity to expose a country with a rich open-wheel racing heritage to the faces of the IndyCar Series. And with drivers such as Will Power, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon hailing from the South Pacific, it makes for an even better homecoming after the end of the season."

The 2.75-mile, 14-turn street circuit in Queensland has hosted Champ Car and CART events since 1991. Following the event at Surfers Paradise, the IndyCar Series will continue its post-season celebration with a championship banquet in Las Vegas.

Said Greg Hooten, general manager of the Gold Coast Indy 300: “The excitement of bringing the first IndyCar Series race to the Gold Coast has been building over the past months. As part of the planning for this year's Gold Coast Indy 300, which is well underway, we will see track construction begin in two weeks. While we look forward to welcoming all of the faces of the IndyCar Series to town, of particular interest for our fans will be the Australian contingent of drivers racing on their home turf."

The 2008 Gold Coast Indy 300 will run from Oct. 23-26.

Comment
07/30/08
automotive

GM to cut 15 pct of US, Canadian salaried workers
General Motors Corp. plans to cut 15 percent of its U.S. and Canadian salaried work force -- or around 5,100 jobs -- by Nov. 1 as part of a plan to slash billions of dollars and help the automaker ride out a slump in U.S. sales. A GM official declined to confirm the specific numbers but indicated they were generally accurate. The official asked not to be named because the company had not planned to release the numbers until later.

Word of the cuts came two days before GM plans to release its second-quarter earnings. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial are predicting a loss of $2.63 per share amid plummeting truck and sport utility vehicle sales.

GM said in mid-July that it would cut white-collar costs in the U.S. and Canada by more than 20 percent as part of a larger cost-cutting plan, but it wouldn't say how many workers would leave.  Yahoo! Finance

GM President and Chief Operating Officer Fritz Henderson said at the time the company hoped most of the cuts would be made through attrition, retirements and buyout offers, but that the company would consider involuntary layoffs.

Comment
07/30/08
irl

Reactions to '09 IndyCar schedule
IndyCar Series drivers

Justin Wilson (Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing): “It’s great to have the schedule out early for next year. Having entered this season with a limited amount of preparation, this will enable us to be much more prepared for 2009. The flow of the schedule looks a lot better as far as changing from ovals to road racing and back again as well as the number of consecutive weekends. That will help the team out in terms of preparation as well as the fact that there are a couple more weekends off to recharge. It's great to have a unified series and have Long Beach on the schedule as well as Edmonton and Toronto. I'm also happy to see that we are going back to Surfers Paradise this year, and I would like to see it make the schedule for future years as well.”

Townsend Bell (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): “I applaud the Indy Racing League for getting the schedule announced so early. It goes a long way towards working on our programs for 2009. I’m excited about the schedule. We’ve got a lot of great marquee events on there, and I’m looking forward to seeing packed houses at all venues next year.”

Buddy Rice (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): “It’s great that we’re adding road races and getting back to some of the places that open-wheel racing has been a part of with Long Beach and Toronto. It’s also great to have an extra Canadian round since the fans there are always fun and knowledgeable. It’s definitely interesting to see Homestead and Japan so late in the schedule. It’ll be weird not going to Japan before Indy. Hopefully the weather is nicer in Japan in September. Having four weeks be the longest stretch is a great move. Going six straight is a bit hard on everybody. It’s very challenging in terms of personnel, even if you don’t have any issues. That’s very good to see. I’m looking forward to it.”

Read more & Comment...
07/30/08
irl

AGR happy its race opens '09 IndyCar season
The Indy Racing League announced today the schedule for the 2009 IndyCar Series, which will open with the fifth-annual Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, April 2-5, 2009. Andretti Green Promotions has owned and operated the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg since 2004 and ran its first event on the downtown streets of St. Petersburg in April 2005. The following are comments related to today’s Indy Racing League announcement.

Kevin Savoree, co-owner and managing director, Andretti Green Promotions and Andretti Green Toronto; co-owner, president and chief operating officer, Andretti Green Racing:

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to see the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg move up to the season-opening slot on the 2009 IndyCar Series schedule. We’re heading toward our fifth-annual event and this certainly promises to be the most exciting one yet as the kick-off to what will no doubt be another very competitive IndyCar Series season. Each year we try to make the Honda Grand Prix a ‘must’ on the calendar in St. Petersburg and 2009 will be no exception.”

Tim Ramsberger, vice president and general manager, Andretti Green Promotions:

“We are very excited about having the ‘world’s fastest spring break party’ kickoff the 2009 IndyCar Series season in St. Petersburg. We have become known for many historic IndyCar Series ‘firsts’ in our relatively short history and this will just add to the list.

”One of the real strengths of our event is the community itself and we’re confident that all of our fans here will give the rest of the venues on the schedule something to shoot for in terms of how to celebrate a big weekend like this.”

Comment
07/30/08
irl

Detroit offers Canadian fans discount package
The 2008 Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will truly be an international affair. Racing fans know no boundaries when it comes to supporting motorsports. Building on a unique partnership that was established in 2007, the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is working with the City of Windsor to make it easier and more affordable than ever for Canadian race fans to enjoy world-class auto racing and family fun Labor Day weekend at Belle Isle Park.

The Grand Prix is proud to offer “Canadian Fan Prix” ticket packages at the August 29-31 event through a collaborative effort with the City of Windsor, the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Windsor Essex County and Pelee Island, itravel 2000 Vacations and Canada’s VIA Rail train system. Through these unique packages, a dedicated grandstand of Canadian race fans will be created at the Grand Prix. Prime race viewing in Grandstand 2, located at the start/finish line, will come alive with hundreds of Canadian fans on Grand Prix weekend.

“The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is a tremendous event for entire region,” said Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis. ”Windsor and Detroit have demonstrated in the past just how successful our events can be when we work together to showcase our ‘two-nation destination.’ We want to pack the Canadian Grandstand for all three days of the Grand Prix and show our pride and enthusiasm to the world.”

Read more & Comment...
07/30/08
irl

HVM's Keith Wiggins comments on the 2009 schedule
“First, I have to commend the Indy Racing League officials for creating such a fair and balanced schedule for 2009.  I think any progress towards a closer stability between road courses and ovals is welcome, as it is for HVM Racing, and I suspect most people feel the same way.  Teams, drivers and most importantly, the fans, will be happy to see a more even mix, and this allows for a better job of encompassing open wheel racing. 

“This is a series with fans spanning all over the globe and the schedule is allowing for growth of our sport.  When you race at venues like St. Petersburg, Toronto, Long Beach along with Indianapolis- it naturally creates a better environment and greater interest.  This can only move our sport and therefore teams like HVM Racing to the next level.”

Comment
07/30/08
f1

Ex-F1 drivers unsure of Piquet Jr pedigree
(GMM)  Two contemporaries of his father are unsure Nelson Piquet has done enough in his rookie season so far to secure his future on the formula one grid.

The Brazilian newcomer secured his maiden podium at Hockenheim nearly two weeks ago, but Alan Jones, the 1980 world champion, and British driver Derek Warwick, are still not convinced of Piquet's talents at the wheel of the 2008 Renault.

"Compared to the achievements of other drivers such as Raikkonen, Massa, Kubica, Alonso or Hamilton, Piquet has delivered too little," Warwick, who contested more than 160 grands prix in the 80s and 90s, is quoted as saying by Die Welt.

In the 80s, 23-year-old Piquet's father and namesake won three drivers' world championships.

Australian Alan Jones, the title winner in 1980 - 13 points ahead of Piquet Snr - is also unimpressed with Piquet Jr's performances so far alongside Fernando Alonso.

"In Piquet's (Snr) first season in 1979, he had his own teammate Niki Lauda, also a twice world champion then, until control," Jones remarked.

Jones said of Piquet Jr: "He's a good driver, but the strength, the determination, the aggression, not to mention the outstanding talent of his father, seem to me to be missing."

Piquet, always with his father's status, support and money behind him in his formative racing days, has endured his fair share of criticism as he struggled in the R28 in 2008.

But Pat Symonds, Renault's engineering chief, thinks the Hockenheim podium might have been a turning point.

"Very often when a driver has had a difficult start to their career, they get a good result and after that nothing seems to stop them," he said.

Symonds continued: "It's fair to say that he has found the pressure quite difficult this year, but the result in Hockenheim is the perfect response from him."

Comment
07/30/08
irl

No Grand Prix of Cleveland on 2009 IRL schedule
The Indy Racing League has announced its 2009 schedule, and Cleveland has not made the list.

The Grand Prix of Cleveland at Burke Lakefront Airport is not part of the 2009 circuit, although IRL is leaving the door open to add the race in future years.

An August race at Mid-Ohio is on the 2009 schedule.

Mi-Jack Promotions, which organizes the Cleveland event, and the IRL are now in negotiations for bringing the race back to Cleveland.

"We recognize that there is a rich history of open-wheel racing in Cleveland," said Terry Angstadt, president/commercial division, Indy Racing League, said in a statement.

"However, due to contractual obligations and our desire to grow the schedule in a way that will work for all involved, it was impossible to add all of the races we would have liked for 2009. We are looking forward to continuing to work with Mike Lanigan and MJ Promotions on the possibility of racing at Burke Lakefront Airport in the future."

"But Cleveland is a great city with a proud racing tradition, so we are very optimistic for 2010. . . . Our company remains committed to the future of racing on the shores of Lake Erie."

"We are disappointed that the IRL was not able to include us for next year," Lanigan, CEO of MJ Promotions said in a statement. "But Cleveland is a great city with a proud racing tradition, so we are very optimistic for 2010. . . . Our company remains committed to the future of racing on the shores of Lake Erie." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Comment
07/30/08
Superleague

AS Roma and Fisichella join Superleague Formula
Current Coppa Italia winners AS Roma are ready for an assault on the inaugural Superleague Formula championship – teaming up with lifelong fan and three-time Formula 1 race winner Giancarlo Fisichella's race team.

Fisichella Motor Sport International will run the Rome club's entry in the new motor racing championship which brings together the colors of the world's leading football clubs at key race tracks across Europe.

The race team currently compete in GP2 and the International Formula BMW Championship. A madly passionate Roma fan, Fisichella is a personal friend of star striker and club captain, Francesco Totti

AS Roma becomes the second Italian football team to line up on the Superleague Formula grid behind northern Italian rivals, AC Milan.

Read more & Comment...
07/30/08
f1

Mosley to attend Italian GP in September
(GMM)  Max Mosley has scheduled to attend the Italian grand prix in mid-September.

The FIA president has been embroiled in a sex scandal so far this season, and had to cancel his planned visit to the race in Bahrain in April.

He then made an ultra low-key and unofficial visit to the Monaco grand prix, where he declined to speak to the media and only fleetingly dashed across the paddock in between meetings.

At a press briefing in Monaco this week, the 68-year-old said his focus had now returned to his job, after the High Court victory against the News of the World, and his instructions to his lawyers to begin proceedings against other European outlets.

But asked what his next movements will be prior to heading to Monza for the formula one race there, Mosley smiled: "I'm going to take most of August off."

Comment
07/30/08
f1

Mosley still planning to step down next year
(GMM)  In the wake of the sex scandal, Max Mosley has reinforced his intention to step down as FIA president at the end of his current term.

The 68-year-old Briton won the right to continue in the role at the FIA confidence vote in June, but he has always said he will nonetheless not stay beyond October of next year.

On the eve of the vote, however, Bernie Ecclestone warned that if Mosley survived the scandal, "he will run again".

"I am 100 per cent certain about that; no, one million per cent certain," the F1 chief executive said.

But speaking in Monaco on Tuesday, Mosley said his plans to go next year are still on track.

"I don't want to stand again in 2009 because I don't want to go to work every day," he said.

"I don't feel old but I feel that there is more to life," Mosley added.

Comment
07/30/08
NASSprint

Kiefer Sutherland named Grand Marshal at Pocono
Actor Kiefer Sutherland will serve as grand marshal of the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway and will give the "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines" command. Sutherland will star in the movie "Mirrors," along with Paula Patton and Amy Smart. The movie will be also featured on J.J. Yeley's #96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry during the race. In "Mirrors," which opens in theatres everywhere Aug. 15, Sutherland portrays a troubled ex-cop who must save his family from an unspeakable evil that is using mirrors as a gateway into their home. The movie will be shown nationwide in a digital format at select theatres on DLP Cinema projectors. DLP leads the cinema movement from film to digital movie theatres powered by DLP Cinema Technology with over 6,700 screens in more than 40 countries.

In addition to "Mirrors," Sutherland has starred in "The Lost Boys," "A Few Good Men," "Stand By Me," "Young Guns" and "A Time To Kill." In addition to his incredible movie career, which includes more than 50 films, Sutherland stars as Jack Bauer in the popular FOX show, "24." He won an Emmy for "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" in 2006 for his work on the show. "This will be a pretty cool weekend for everyone at DLP and Hall of Fame Racing," Yeley said. "It's exciting to have 'Mirrors' on the DLP Toyota and we're going to show Kiefer a good time. I'm a big fan of his work and I'm looking forward to meeting him and seeing the movie." Brandon Igdalsky, President of Pocono Raceway, said he is looking forward to hosting Sutherland at beautiful and scenic Pocono Raceway. "We are very proud to have Kiefer Sutherland as a guest of Pocono Raceway for the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500," Igdalsky said. "He is a terrific actor and we look forward to seeing 'Mirrors' when it comes out in theatres on Aug. 15."

The Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 begins at 2pm/et with live, high-definition coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at 1pm/et. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128 and MRN Radio. Tickets are still available for the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 online at www.poconoraceway.com or by phone at 1-800-RACEWAY. Use Promocode: REDCROSS and 10% of your ticket price will be donated back to the American Red Cross, in addition, you will receive a FREE pre-race pit/paddock pass and souvenir program with collectible die-cast car (while supplies last). Pocono Raceway PR

Comment
07/30/08
f1

Raikkonen pans Bridgestone
Kimi Raikkonen said that there is a huge difference in the tire batches Bridgestone take to race weekends. He said that one tire can work well on the setup and the other be absolutely horrible on the same setup.

Raikkonen said that Bridgestone doesn't have to go to great extents with its resources to secure the quality of their F1 tires because there are no competitors for the F1 tire market anymore, which is very disappointing.

"Two years ago when we had two tire brands and there were no problems like this" Raikkonen added.

Comment
07/30/08
f1

Hungary GP tech file
The Hungaroring offers plenty of challenges to drivers and engineers alike. The circuit features no high-speed corners, leading the team to run the highest possible downforce levels, while the primary concern for the engine team is ensuring good cooling in the usually hot conditions. The high summer temperatures also make life difficult for the drivers, who need to be in peak physical condition to cope with a race that gives them very little respite over its 70-lap distance.

Aerodynamics
The twisting, 14-corner layout of the Hungaroring features just one legitimate overtaking opportunity per lap, into turn 1. Apart from this straight of just over 700m, the circuit is filled with sequences of low to medium-speed corners, with short braking distances which make overtaking nearly impossible. The result is that the teams all run with maximum downforce levels, similar if not identical to those used in Monaco, in order to optimize not just cornering speeds, but also braking and traction. Maximum speeds achieved on the main straight rarely exceed 300kph with the V8 engines.

Suspension
Mechanical grip is an important factor at a low-speed circuit such as this, and teams will generally try to run the car with softer settings all round to improve mechanical grip. The drivers want a responsive car in the low-speed sections, with good traction on corner exit, which will usually lead the teams to a forward mechanical bias (stiffer front/softer rear) in terms of set-up. However, rear tire wear must be monitored very carefully, particularly to avoid overloading the softer compound available this weekend.

Read more & Comment...
07/30/08
track news

Indy Speedway attendance capacity
After decades of secrecy about Indy attendance figures and wild guesses as high as 500,000, the Indianapolis Star spent six months in 2004 (and probably a lot of intern lunch hours) counting all 257,325 permanent seats. Adding in the infield mounds and camping and workers and journalists, the total possible attendance, according to The Star is 267,925.

Comment
07/30/08
automotive

Automakers, lenders back off leases for gas guzzlers
Automotive leasing took a series of body blows on Tuesday, as Detroit automakers and other lenders back away from certain leases.

Ford Motor Co. told some U.S. dealers that it's increasing the prices on leases for large pickups and SUVs. GMAC LLC, the affiliate of General Motors Corp., said it would stop offering discounted leases in Canada.

And JPMorgan Chase & Co., the second-largest U.S. bank by assets, will stop offering automobile leases for Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands as of Friday, the same day Chrysler Financial ends its leasing program.

Ford notified the dealers about the changes, effective Friday, in a bulletin Monday, said Miles Kearney, sales manager of Gene Butman Ford in Ypsilanti. Michigan is an active area for leasing, he said Tuesday.

The geographic extent of the changes wasn't immediately available. Dealers in Texas and Georgia contacted by Bloomberg News said they hadn't been notified of the revisions. Brenda Hines, a spokeswoman for Ford Credit, declined to confirm the bulletin.

Ford last week reported a $2.1-billion pretax write-down on truck leases for the second quarter, contributing to a record $8.7-billion net loss.

Comment
07/30/08
nnw
nassprint

Boris Said Looking to Close the Deal in Montreal
Boris Said
Boris Said's part-time NASCAR schedule gets busy in the next two weeks, beginning with Saturday's (Aug. 2) Nationwide race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

The Canadian road race will be the second Nationwide event of the season for Said, who will drive the No. 25 No Fear Energy/Advance Auto Parts Ford Fusion under the Team Rensi Motorsports banner.

Known for his road racing prowess, Said will also compete the following week in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide races at the Watkins Glen International road course in upstate New York.

"The next two weeks give us a great opportunity to turn around our season," offered Said. "We have the equipment and the crew to do some good things in Montreal and Watkins Glen."

Said's immediate focus is the challenging Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, named after the legendary French Canadian Formula I driver.

"This is a really technical course where breaks are going to play a key role," noted Said. "We will have our Performance Friction Breaks, which are the best in the business. As I said, we're bringing the best of the best to Canada."

Read more & Comment...
07/30/08
irl

2009 IndyCar Schedule - No Australia
The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will open the 2009 IndyCar season April 5, taking the opening race held by Homestead-Miami Speedway since 2002. Homestead will shift to the finale Oct. 11, extending the season a month longer than the past two seasons.

The IRL will make its first visits next year to the streets of Long Beach, Calif., (April 19) and Toronto (July 12), which will be followed by Edmonton (July 26) for back-to-back stops on temporary circuits north of the border.

"St. Pete will be a great opener," Angstadt said. "It's a big-event feel, festive, well-attended and shows well on TV."

Angstadt said the series wanted a warm-weather oval such as Homestead as its finale. The 1.5-mile superspeedway also plays host to the November season finales of NASCAR's three national series.

"That gives Homestead an opportunity to market themselves as a venue of champions," Angstadt said.

The series won't return to Nashville Superspeedway, and the Surfers Paradise, Australia, event also is missing from next year's schedule, which was released today. Angstadt said there's a possibility Australia, which will hold a non-points IndyCar race on Oct. 26, could be added in '09.

"We're optimistic," he said. "We've given them a couple of time slots. It may take a little while." 

The problem is that a September 27th tentative date for Australia means it will be a bit cooler than normal since Surfers will just be coming out of its winter season with September 27th being just 1 week into their spring.  Motegi and Surfers could have been pushed a bit later but the FIA blocked the IRL from racing in Japan within 3 weeks of the F1 Japanese GP.

Date  Track 

  1. April 5 — St. Petersburg, Florida (street)
  2. April 19 — Long Beach, Calif. (street)
  3. April 26 — Kansas Speedway (oval)
  4. May 24 — Indianapolis 500 (oval)
  5. May 31 — The Milwaukee Mile (oval)
  6. June 6 — Texas Motor Speedway (oval)
  7. June 21 — Iowa Speedway (oval)
  8. June 27 — Richmond International Raceway (oval)
  9. July 5 — Watkins Glen International (road)
  10. July 12 — Toronto, Ontario, Canada (street)
  11. July 26 — Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (street)
  12. August 1 — Kentucky Speedway (oval)
  13. August 9 — Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (road)
  14. August 23 — Infineon Raceway (road)
  15. August 29 — Chicagoland Speedway (oval)
  16. September 6 — Belle Isle Park, Detroit (street)
  17. September 19 — Twin Ring Motegi, Japan (oval)
    Sep. 27 Surfers Paradise (Street - Might be added)
  18. October 11 — Homestead-Miami Speedway (oval)

*Saturday night

Angstadt said "IndyCar isn't ready for Las Vegas' 142,000-seat grandstands. For us to put 50-60,000 fans in a place like that, it's almost not good for either side," Angstadt said. "We want to keep an open dialogue. We've also had very positive conversations with Cleveland and Houston, which are both very viable locations. We're not assuming these venues will stay interested forever. We know there's a great window of opportunity, and there's a lot of urgency."

Angstadt said IndyCar is aiming for a 20-race schedule, possibly by 2011.

Comment
07/30/08
f1

Hot and dry weather for Hungarian GP
(GMM)  A hot and probably dry weekend of racing awaits formula one teams ahead of the Hungarian grand prix.

Local weather reports predict a humid and possibly thundery Thursday on the eve of opening practice at the Hungaroring, which is located about a thirty minute drive from the centre of Budapest.

But Friday will be sunny and dry, before some cloud but temperatures in the low-thirties (C) predominate for qualifying on Saturday and then Sunday's grand prix.

The chance of rain on both latter days is very low -- between 5 and 10 per cent.

Comment
07/30/08
f1

Engine freeze loopholes frustrate Briatore
(GMM)  Flavio Briatore has expressed frustration with how some of Renault's formula one rivals have handled the current so-called 'freeze' on engine development.

The Renault boss told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday that the French team conformed with both the spirit and the letter of the rules to halt costly development of the current 2.4 liter V8 engines for several years.

"We were done in," he said.

"Others took another course and are far ahead of us now," Briatore insisted.

It is not clear which teams Briatore is referring to, but earlier this year we reported that a leading outfit may have found a way to creep ahead in the horse power department by requesting changes to its engine on the grounds of improving reliability.

"No-one complained about it," an unnamed engineer told the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, "for fear that they might also genuinely need to do the modification."

It is interesting that Briatore's comments come just days after it emerged that the FIA is now to begin a process of randomly and thoroughly inspecting the manufacturers' 2008-specification engines.

Comment
07/30/08
f1

German company buys Super Aguri assets
(GMM)  A German tool design and construction company already involved in formula one has this week bought the fixed assets of the defunct Super Aguri team.

Formtech GmbH said in a statement that it will use the former Honda-powered team's Leafield base to open its first UK operation.

The company said it hoped the move would lead to the forging of "business relationships within all areas of motorsport, including the provision of composite parts to formula one teams".

"We shall be employing a number of ex-Super Aguri staff who are experienced in the field of composite design and manufacturing," said managing director Franz Hilmer.

Formtech also bought Super Aguri's race equipment on Tuesday and hopes to sell it to someone wanting to run a team.

Comment
07/30/08
f1

Mosley turns focus back to F1 matters
(GMM)  Max Mosley, the FIA president who has been embroiled in a sex scandal, has this week turned his focus back to matters regarding formula one.

He is under pressure not only from the teams, but also from CVC, the 75 per cent owner of the sport's commercial rights, who Mosley says wants to sell up.

To do so, CVC - whose F1 chief Donald McKenzie met with Bernie Ecclestone and bosses of the ten teams at Maranello on Tuesday - need Mosley to sign off on a new and modified Concorde Agreement.

"They tell me they are in no hurry (to sell)," Mosley, 68, told the Financial Times, on the same day as he also gave an interview about formula one to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Mosley said: "If a sovereign wealth fund came along with a huge amount of money, then they'd (CVC) be tempted."

The stumbling block for CVC according to the current arrangement is Mosley's veto over who can buy the controlling share of the commercial rights.

"I would never give (the veto) up because you might find someone who was a complete disaster coming in, but we could soften it if the company has less say over what happens at a grand prix," he explained.

"Eventually I think we'll agree a compromise with CVC where they abandon a lot of the control they have over the sporting side of the event.

"In return we will give them much greater freedom to sell the business to whomever they want.  At the moment it is not a problem with Bernie there," Mosley said.

He also told Auto Motor und Sport that he thinks - and hopes - an agreement over the new Concorde is now not far away.

Comment
07/29/08
automotive

Chrysler's Credit Rating Cut by Fitch
Chrysler LLC's credit rating was cut further below investment grade by Fitch Ratings, which cited ``restricted access'' to competitive financing for its auto sales.

The issuer default rating on Chrysler, the third-largest U.S. automaker, was lowered to CCC, eight levels into junk status, from B-, Fitch said in a statement today. The New York- based ratings company kept its outlook at ``negative.''

Chrysler Financial, the automaker's finance arm, is renewing its borrowings, and ``the higher costs associated with any renewal will make it more challenging to provide competitive and economic financing of retail sales,'' Fitch said in the statement. With other lenders unlikely to take up all the slack, Chrysler may have to reduce production, the ratings company said.

Chrysler's U.S. sales already fell 22 percent in the first half, the most of any major automaker and double the industry's 10 percent slide. The Auburn Hills, Michigan-based automaker said on July 25 that Chrysler Financial would stop offering leases on Aug. 1.  Bloomberg.com

Comment
07/29/08
ga

Canadian Drivers Seek Home Advantage in Montreal
A trio of Canadian drivers will be looking to win in their home country Friday when the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 visits Montreal and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the Montreal 200 (SPEED, 8 p.m. ET Friday).

Mark Wilkins of Toronto, Michael Valiante of Vancouver and Marc-Antoine Camirand of Quebec will be competing in the series' premier Daytona Prototype class, while Montreal native Sylvain Tremblay, Jean-Francois Dumoulin of Trois-Rivieres and veteran Toronto driver Ron Fellows lead a group of Canadians racing in the GT division.

The only Canadian team in the Grand-Am Rolex Series, AIM Autosport, has been one of the most improved teams in the paddock in 2008. The team has raised its sights, finishing a career-best fourth at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and has five top 10s, though none have come in the last two races. The team would like for that to change this weekend.

The team flexed new-found Ford muscle at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, when each of the team's drivers had the car in the lead at the end of their opening shift. The team ran with the leaders until several nighttime incidents dropped them out of contention.

Since then, AIM Autosport has been a frontrunner, finishing in the top eight in five of the following six races and ran seventh in the team standings. Wilkins won the team's first pole at Daytona in July, while in the most recent event, Brian Frisselle passed series front-runners Scott Pruett and Alex Gurney late in the race and led 15 laps, only to have his engine fail with 13 laps remaining.

Read more & Comment...
07/29/08
irl

No Las Vegas for Indy Car in '09
The IndyCar Series will announce its entire 2009 schedule on Wednesday, but the Las Vegas Motor Speedway will not be a part of it.

Indy Racing League officials said last month they were interested in ending the 2009 season at LVMS, but an agreement couldn't be worked out.

The IRL wanted to use the 1.3-mile road course outside of Turn 1 in the LVMS parking lot instead of the 1.5-mile oval that seats 150,000 spectators.

Officials for Speedway Motorsports Inc., the parent company for LVMS, had no interest in using the road course for the IndyCar event and IRL officials didn't want to use the oval track.

"We will continue to keep the Las Vegas facility on our radar screen for the future," said IRL vice president John Griffin. "We have open lines of communication with them." ESPN.com

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07/29/08
ga

Fittipaldi Rejoins Cheever Racing
Christian Fittipaldi returns to Cheever Racing this weekend at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to co-drive the Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Pontiac Coyote Daytona Prototype after stints with the team in 2006 and 2007.

Fittipaldi, who is making his first Rolex Series appearance of the season, is scheduled to drive the remainder of the 2008 season with Cheever Racing.

"It's rare that a driver of Christian's caliber becomes available mid-season," said team manager Dave Meehan. "Although Tom Kimber-Smith has done a fine job, in the best interest of the team, we felt that a driver with more experience in our series could deliver the best results for the Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Race Team."

Fittipaldi is excited about his return.

Read more & Comment...
07/29/08
nnw

NASCAR tries to hide fact it failed in Mexico
The Nationwide Series race in Mexico City will be replaced on next year's schedule after just four events at the famed 2.518-mile Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course.

NASCAR officials said the original goal of taking the Nationwide Series international in 2005 was to further develop stock-car racing in Mexico, something they said has been achieved.

"Well, we have accomplished what we set out to do and that was to create a NASCAR presence in Mexico and the NASCAR [Mexico] Series is very successful now," said Ramsey Poston, managing director of corporate communications for NASCAR. "We've got capacity crowds, 14 events at nine different venues, full fields, 30-plus cars in every event.

"In evaluating the progress, we really feel like we are on our way to having a great established NASCAR in Mexico."

When asked if the Nationwide event in Mexico was ever to be a permanent date, Poston said, "No, it was part of the strategy to really bring the Nationwide event down there to really showcase NASCAR and to introduce the sport to racing fans who are largely open-wheel ... Clearly we've seen NASCAR racing become more popular."

NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton defended the move. More at NASCAR.com

[Editor's Note: This is doublespeak for we failed in Mexico with dwindling crowds every year but the spin is that we have a NASCAR Mexico series that sells out a few thousand seats at 14 events.]

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07/29/08
nassprint

SPEED adds eight NASCAR Sprint Cup practice sessions
SPEED will add eight additional NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice sessions to its 2008 programming lineup (subject to change):

Pocono (Aug. 1, Noon ET)
Watkins Glen (Aug. 9, Noon ET)
Dover (Sept. 19, 11 a.m. ET)
Kansas (Sept. 27, 12:30 p.m. ET)
Martinsville (Oct. 18, 11:30 a.m. ET)
Atlanta (Oct. 24, 3 p.m. ET)
Atlanta (Oct. 25, 10:30 a.m. ET)
Homestead (Nov. 15, 1:30 p.m. ET)

Comment
07/29/08
nassprint

Scott Speed testing in team's Sprint Cup cars
Former Formula One driver and current Red Bull Racing development driver Scott Speed is participating in his first test with cars in the Sprint Cup Series this week, team officials confirmed.  Speed, who won last weekend's Automobile Racing Club of America race at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich., is testing a Cup car at Nashville Superspeedway Tuesday and Wednesday, team general manager Jay Frye said.

Comment
07/29/08
nassprint

Despite boring race, Indy TV Ratings break ESPN record
ESPN had a final household coverage rating of 5.1 for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, a 3% increase from last year's 4.9. Household impressions were 4,888,964, up 5% from last year's 4,657,433. Viewership 6,667,729, up 1% from last year's 6,573,536. This race is ESPN's most-viewed auto race ever. The NASCAR Nationwide Series ORP event was on ESPN and had a final rating of 1.5, up 6% from last year's 1.4 on ESPN2. For NNS season on cable (ESPN and ESPN2), they are up 17 percent from last year.  ESPN PR

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07/29/08
nassprint

Ryan Newman Talks Dirt…Tracks
Ryan Newman gets down and dirty on this week’s Alltel Racing Podcast, talking about where it all began for him as a driver- dirt track racing. As the 2008 Daytona 500 Champion returns to his home state of Indiana this weekend for the Brickyard, he discusses the impact that dirt track racing has had on his career.

“As a driver, when you it make it to the top level, you have had dirt track experience,” said Newman who plans to race a late model dirt car in Charlotte this fall. 

Newman says, Newman tells listeners that if he were in charge of NASCAR he would add Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio to the Cup Series because it’s more enjoyable for both the drivers and the fans. To hear more of Newman’s podcast visit http://www.alltelracing.com:80/

Comment
07/29/08
nastruck

NCTS Makes it 10 in a Row on SPEED
SPEED coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race from Indianapolis scored a Nielsen Rating of 0.81 (590,000 households), a 72-percent increase over the numbers from the same event in 2007 (0.47; 335,000). It marks the 10th consecutive NCTS event on SPEED that has seen significant ratings increases from a year ago.  “The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers are kicking ass this year and the audience is responding,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “These races can be absolute brawls, with points battles that consistently go down to the very last race of the season … it’s still early, but I think the NASCAR fans sense another battle brewing in the Truck Series. The Indianapolis event peaked at a full 1.00 rating (724,000 households), up 75 percent from last year’s peak of 0.57 (404,000 households). Again driven in large part by increases among younger viewers, the Men 18-49 Nielsen Rating was up 83 percent (0.55 vs. 0.30) and the Men 18-34 number was up 208 percent (0.40 vs. 0.13).  Year-to-year, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on SPEED is up 23 percent, averaging a Nielsen Household Rating of 0.90 against last year’s average of 0.73.

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07/29/08
f1

Stefano Domenicali does not see crisis Ferrari is in
Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen have scored six and eight points respectively over the last two events at Silverstone and Hockenheim, but still remain right in the championship battle behind Lewis Hamilton and ahead of Robert Kubica.

The German Grand Prix in particular was a disappointment for the Ferrari team with neither Massa nor Raikkonen able to challenge for the race win. Team Principal Stefano Domenicali however dismisses talk of the team being in trouble.

"Despite the fact the last two races have been negative for us, the Scuderia is definitely not in crisis," Domenicali stated. "The team is still leading the Constructors' Championship and theoretically, one of our drivers could again be back at the top of the Drivers' classification on Sunday night."

"We are on a similar points tally to last year, we have won half the races so far and indeed, taken half the pole positions," he continued. "Just as we never felt we were unbeatable after our French GP victory, so too, we do not feel all is lost after the British and German events."

Ferrari remain 16 points clear of BMW Sauber in the constructors' championship while Massa and Raikkonen trail Hamilton by four and seven points in the drivers’ championship.

Comment
07/29/08
f1

F1 teams form alliance at Maranello
(GMM)  At a meeting at Ferrari's Maranello headquarters on Tuesday, F1's ten teams agreed to establish a Formula One Teams Association.

In a press release circulated by the famous Italian marque, Ferrari described the meeting, in the presence of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone and CVC's Donald McKenzie, as "extremely productive".

The association will "work with the FIA and FOM to agree upon regulations and commercial conditions which will provide a framework for a strong and dynamic sport", the statement outlined.

Among the bosses present was Flavio Briatore, who earlier told the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport that F1 is missing the contribution of FIA president Max Mosley in the wake of the sex scandal.

"His absence is felt as there's no project for F1," the Renault chief said.  "The teams feel abandoned."

Comment
07/29/08
nassprint

3 drivers to share backmarker #45 car
Petty Enterprises, the winningest organization in NASCAR history, announces its driver lineup for the No. 45 Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge through the August 17th NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the Michigan International Speedway.  Chad McCumbee, Kyle Petty and Terry Labonte will each compete in one event over the next three weeks.

“Chad, Kyle and Terry will be competing at places where they have all had success in the past,” said Petty Enterprises Vice President of Race Operations Robbie Loomis.  “That should put the No. 45 team in the best position possible to gain points on the teams in front of us in owner points.  Everyone at Petty Enterprises is committed to doing whatever it takes to get this team back inside the top-35.  That is one of our highest priorities as an organization.”

McCumbee, 23, will attempt to make his first Sprint Cup start of the season this weekend at the Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.  He made his first career Sprint Cup start at Pocono in 2007, finishing 25th.  McCumbee also picked up an ARCA RE/MAX Series victory at Pocono last year.  He currently competes full-time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series where he is 12th in points.

Petty will return to the seat of the No. 45 Dodge for the August 10 event at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.  This will be the first start for Petty since the Coca-Cola 600 in May.  His hiatus included at six-race stint in the TNT Sports booth where he covered the Sprint Cup Series.

“We’re all excited to see Kyle back in the No. 45 Marathon Dodge at Watkins Glen,” said Loomis.  “He has been a great road course racer throughout his career.  I know he is looking forward to it as well so we are going up there with a lot of confidence that we will have a solid run.” 

Labonte, who has competed in seven races in the No. 45 Dodge this season, will make his eighth start at the Michigan International Speedway on August 17th.  He owns seven top-fives, 13 top-tens and two poles in his career at Michigan. 

Comment
07/29/08
f1

Hungarian GP: A lap with Alex Wurz
Hungaroring
"The Hungarian Grand Prix is an enjoyable race because Budapest is a beautiful city and the Hungaroring is a super-cool track. There are no proper straights on the lap and many of the corners are inter-linked, so if you make a mistake in one, you're still paying for it three corners later.

"The track picks up quite a lot of grip as more rubber goes down, which results in you going about five seconds per lap quicker during the race than was the case during Friday morning practice. When you combine that with the heat, it becomes seriously hard work for the drivers! The change in the grip level also makes it difficult to evaluate set-up changes, but that's part of the challenge.

"You brake for Turn 1 from 290kph and shift down to second gear. You accelerate out, pass through a kink and brake again for Turn 2, a long left-hander. It is second or third gear, depending on gear ratios, and it's a bit bumpy on entry so you have to be careful not to lock a wheel. At the exit you need to keep hold of the car because Turn 3 is a flat-out right-hander where you need to carry as much speed as possible because it's followed by a short straight.

"Turn 4 is a very fast fifth gear left-hander. The entry is blind and the exit is very narrow, so it's easy to make a mistake. If you have a good rhythm, you can carry speed through here and make up a lot of time. Usually fast corners aren't the place to make time, but you can through here because this corner punishes car-driver combinations that aren't in tune with each other.

Read more & Comment...
07/29/08
irl
nascar

Sirius and XM complete merger
SIRIUS Satellite Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) and XM Satellite Radio today announced that they have completed their merger, resulting in the nation’s premier radio company.  The new company plans to change its corporate name to Sirius XM Radio Inc.  The combined company’s stock will continue to be traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “SIRI”.

SIRIUS XM Radio begins day one with over 18.5 million subscribers, making it the second-largest radio company, based upon revenue, in the country; and, based upon subscribers, the second largest subscription media business in the U.S.  With under 10% penetration of the home and car market, the opportunity for continued growth is significant.

“I am delighted to announce the completion of this exciting merger between SIRIUS and XM,” said Mel Karmazin, CEO of SIRIUS XM Radio. “We have worked diligently to close this transaction and we look forward to integrating our best-in-class management teams and operations so we can begin delivering on our promise of more choices and lower prices for subscribers.”

Read more & Comment...
07/29/08
nassprint

Allstate 400 called the worst race in the history of the sport
When talking about the worst races in the last 50 years of NASCAR you're going to have to put the 2008 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard in the conversation. Bet Allstate's glad they sponsored this one -- though, in truth, Allstate's about the only monolithic corporate entity that escaped brutal criticism this weekend.

If you missed this race, go hit yourself in the head with a hammer. (Gently.) There, now you've gotten the same amount of pleasure that the rest of us got out of this race.

Rather than screaming about how we're done with NASCAR -- really, we promise, we're not kidding this time -- fans should be paying extremely close attention to what NASCAR and Goodyear do in response to this mess. If they get proactive and start projecting out possible problems like this weeks or months in advance, if they mandate testing and tweaks to the Car of Tomorrow to accommodate different tracks, if they stand up and admit that this just wasn't acceptable competition for a major American sport, then they'll blunt a lot of the criticism. If they do nothing, if they get secretive, if they blame the fans for not appreciating linked-sprints-as-racing, NASCAR's going to continue shedding both prestige and fans. Just like the rubber Sunday. Yahoo! Sports

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07/29/08
automotive

Bailout of Big 3 pushed
[Editor's Note: The mental midgets that manage the Big 3 automakers in Detroit have pretty much run their companies into the ground.  Now they want the federal government to bail them out.]

Michigan's congressional delegation is mounting a major push to help Detroit's Big Three automakers get about $27 billion in federal aid over the next five years.  The behind-the-scenes efforts come amid growing concerns about the fate of the struggling domestic automakers. General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC are paring back salaried staff, closing plants and dramatically cutting expenses at a time when the economy is in turmoil and auto sales could hit their lowest level in 17 years.

Many Michigan congressional members think that if they don't start a concerted effort now to win significant financial support for automakers, it will be harder to do so later. Some of the proposals under consideration are the most generous considered since the 1979 Chrysler bailout, though they face long odds from a largely skeptical Congress.

The chiefs of staff and top auto policy aides to most of Michigan's 17-member congressional delegation met privately Friday to discuss a broad set of policies to help the industry. The meeting was organized by the office of Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee, which has jurisdiction over many auto issues. Topics included subsidies to cover one-third of automakers' losses, government-issued loans, loan guarantees and bigger tax credits for the industry and consumers.

The Detroit News obtained a one-page summary of the proposal discussed at the meeting that calls for $5 billion in direct loans over five years; $3 billion a year for five years to help speed the retirement of 1.5 million older, less efficient vehicles; and $2 billion over five years in tax breaks for advanced vehicles.

The group also called for $800 million over three years to develop an "advanced battery trust fund" to help build three domestic battery manufacturing facilities and for working in 2009 to block California from being able to impose its own emissions standards.  Detroit News

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07/29/08
automotive

GM cuts production of 117,000 more vehicles
General Motors Corp. announced Monday it is cutting production of 117,000 vehicles as the company adjusts to falling consumer demand for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles.

Meanwhile, the automaker and the Canadian Auto Workers union reached an agreement to boost the number of vehicles produced at a new plant in Oshawa in a deal that helped resolve a dispute over a planned truck plant closure.

The production-cut decision comes less than two weeks after GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner outlined a series of cost-cutting measures designed to boost cash flow by $15 billion.

"This is the detail of how we're getting there," company spokesman Tony Sapienza said. "We're balancing our production based on what consumers are telling us they want." 

[Editor's Note: We have been saying this for years.  The mentality of the mental midgets that run the USA auto companies has always been to announce incentives and give cars away with zero profit to keep production numbers up instead of cutting production to meet demand.  It took them this long to figure that out.  And for this they get paid millions of dollars a year.  Imagine that!]

Comment
07/29/08
automotive

Saab cuts warranty program
General Motors Corp.'s Saab division is reducing the maximum warranty period by half to 50,000 miles for engines, transmissions and related parts on vehicles sold in the United States to reduce costs.

The so-called powertrain coverage starting with 2009 Saabs will become part of the bumper-to-bumper warranty of 50,000 miles or 4 years, the division's U.S. general manager, Steve Shannon, said in a July 25 letter to dealers. The powertrain warranty had been 100,000 miles.

Saab's U.S. sales fell 29% this year through June, the second worst performance among GM's divisions after Hummer, which GM is considering selling.

Comment
07/29/08
f1

Vijay Mallya Q&A
Force India Chairman and Managing Director Dr. Vijay Mallya looks ahead to the forthcoming Hungarian Grand Prix and looks back on the first half of the season. Mallya is adamant that the team has made good progress this year...

Hungary is the last race before a three-week break. Will you be looking for a good result to give the team confidence for the second part of the season?
"Of course, we need to keep the momentum going we developed in Germany with the two car finish. We will also be running the seamless shift gearbox in Friday practice, so I think we have to use this as an opportunity to see how it performs in pressurized conditions, then go back to Silverstone, look at the findings and improve for the second part. We need to be reliable and consistent, and continue to progress as we have done with the aerodynamic improvements."

We're now at the mid-season 'break' so to speak. How would you review your first half of a season as a team owner?
"It's been every bit as good and as frustrating as I expected it to be. I'm very proud of what this small team has achieved, and how we are pulling together to show some good progress and showings that no one in the field expected us to do. On the other hand there have been challenges, as I knew there would be, and disappointments, but the good far outweighs the bad. 

I have no regrets at all about becoming involved in the team, and am really looking forward to the second part of the year."

Have you been satisfied with the progress the team has made?
"Let's look at the hard facts. We've had a 12th placed finish and a 10th placed finish. We've had double finishes and very competitive races - just look at Monaco. We've raced with teams whose budgets are twice as much as ours, with manufacturer support, and we've finished ahead of them. You can't take this away from us."

"What I am really pleased about however is the progress that we have made in the times relative to others. I can honestly say that we are the most improved team on the grid: last year we were four seconds off the front and two seconds from the rear of the field; in Germany 2008 we were just one second from the top five. No other team has found two seconds from last year, so clearly this is a reason to be satisfied."

Comment
07/29/08
f1

Toro Rosso picked Vettel over big names
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has confirmed the team had discussions with "big names" before signing Sebastian Vettel on a long-term contract.

Horner says it was a "straightforward decision" to bring the German in.

"Well, after David informed us in Canada that he intended to retire at the end of the season, it naturally triggered a discussion with Sebastian, who is on a long-term contract with Red Bull," he told the official Formula One website.

"It was a very straightforward decision, especially when we took into consideration the potential he has shown in the last eight months.

"There were the means to make it happen very quickly, there was a very short discussion with Sebastian and then, internally, everything was put in place to make his switch happen."

Red Bull, though, held talks with several other candidates, but ultimately opted for Vettel.

"We had a few discussions with 'big names' but we are very comfortable with the pairing of Mark (Webber) and Sebastian," Horner said.

"It is a good blend of youth and experience and Sebastian's potential looks quite exciting. And I hope that we can provide him with the right environment to help his potential flourish."

Comment
07/29/08
f1

Force India delays new gearbox until Valencia
(GMM) Force India has opted to delay the introduction of its new seamless shift gearbox.

The back-of-the-grid Silverstone based team ran the unit at the Jerez test last week, and has long targeted the Hungarian grand prix this weekend for its race debut.

But technical boss Mike Gascoyne revealed on Tuesday that, despite the test's positive results, the team has decided not to race the seamless gearbox until Valencia, after the three-week August break.

"We need to accrue more mileage before racing it, but we will run it on the Friday in Hungary," Gascoyne said.

It is true that, as Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil's current gearboxes are only three races into their mandatory four-race cycle, debuting the new unit in Hungary would have accrued penalties.

Comment
07/29/08
f1

KERS Q&A with Luca Marmorini
There has been a lot of talk about the new KERS system aimed at being introduced in the 2009 Formula One Championship season, especially after the recent shock received by one of the BMW Sauber mechanics during testing at Jerez. Several drivers, including Red Bull’s David Coulthard, claim the system is unsafe and even though it is not compulsory, teams should not take chances by introducing it next year.

The following is a question and answer session conducted by the Toyota press office with their engine man, Luca Marmorini, who explains a few of the fundamental questions often asked about this new development…

Read more & Comment...
07/29/08
alms

Marcel Fässler drives Audi R10 TDI in America
Marcel Fässler
The Swiss racing driver Marcel Fässler (32) gets the chance to contest two races in the American Le Mans Series with the Audi R10 TDI. The former DTM driver starts at Road America (9 August) and Detroit (30 August) for Team Audi Sport North America as team-mate to Emanuele Pirro.

"We have the task of rejuvenating our sportscar driver line-up," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "We have already successfully integrated Lucas Luhr, Alexandre Prémat and Mike Rockenfeller in the sportscar project. We now continue this route with Marcel Fässler."

The Swiss made a strong impression during tests with the 650 hp plus diesel sportscar from AUDI AG and now gets the opportunity to gather race experience with the Audi R10 TDI. "It’s a great honor for me that I can drive the R10 TDI for Audi. The car is very impressive. What most impressed me during the tests was just how quiet the engine is from inside the cockpit. Because of this you don’t feel the true sensation of speed. I immediately realized the hi-tech level of this car."

For the father of three who lives in Gross, Switzerland, the two races in the American Le Mans Series are a double premiere: "I was never in America and therefore also contest my first race on American soil. Anyway, I’ll be bombarded with a huge amount of new impressions: The circuits and the people in the team are all new to me, I’ll also have to familiarize myself with the procedures in the American Le Mans Series. I’m not putting myself under pressure, but of course I’d like to make as good an impression as possible and be quick."

Read more & Comment...
07/29/08
nassprint

Latest on defective Indy Tires
Goodyear officials will most likely test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway before this year ends in an effort to remedy the tire problems that marred Sunday's Allstate 400 Sprint Cup race at the track. After Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Juan Pablo Montoya each had tire problems early in the race, NASCAR officials opted to continue to use competition cautions to check the tire wear. The sanctioning body had announced prior to the race plans to throw the caution flag on lap 15, then continued the practice throughout the event, with the final competition caution coming on lap 150. Goodyear officials said that the combination of the Indy track surface and NASCAR's new car caused the tires to wear quickly and that they'll look into the problem.

"Obviously, the tread wear didn't improve as we thought it would for the first of the afternoon," Goodyear spokesman Greg Stucker said. "Actually we don't have the answer as far as why that didn't happen, so we've got to go back and look at that and try to figure out how to make it better." He noted this was the same compound that teams used in this event a year ago. Sunday's race marked the debut of NASCAR's new car at the 2.5-mile track, though it is the 20th series race featuring the model.

"This was the same compound we raced last year and the wear improved over the course of the day last year to the point where we could run the full stops," Stucker said. "That didn't happen today, so we need to understand why." He said Goodyear will work to assess the cause of the problems. "We're going to do our best to try to turn it around, we're going to talk with the race track, figure out what can we do about the race track, try to understand a little bit more, try to work with NASCAR and try to figure out what to expect from the car and the teams," he said.

"We're the tire supplier, we take it onto our shoulders, we've got to improve it, but … it's the package, so we need to understand the whole thing together and try to make it better." He pointed out that nobody was at fault for the problems, but that this is something the group will work diligently to resolve. Goodyear held a tire test at the track in April, but opted not to bring the tire from that session because of concerns about grip. Last year, the Cup drivers had a full-field test at the track, but the lack of that this season was not an issue, Stucker said.

"We had full-scale testing as far as we're concerned, I mean we had a tire test," he said. "We didn't have an open test like we did last year, certainly we didn't have as many cars on the race track as we did last year, so again that's a difference. But you try to use all that [in] your decisions." SceneDaily

Comment
07/29/08
atlantic

YouTube Atlantic Series video website
Here’s a link to the YouTube channel created for the Atlantic Series, which currently has six videos from the weekend in Edmonton.

Comment
07/29/08
automotive

Two new Ferrari Stores launched in the USA
Ferrari is continuing the expansion of its Ferrari Stores by opening two new retail stores in the United States, in Miami, FL and in Honolulu, HI.

The Ferrari Store of Miami, of about 2,150 square feet, is located within the Aventura Mall, an upscale retail area featuring the most prestigious international brands, while the Honolulu store is located inside the Royal Hawaiian Centre, and exceeds 3,230 square feet, on two floors.

These two retail stores are in addition to the other two stores already located in the United States in Las Vegas and Los Angeles: they bring the total number of the Ferrari Stores in the world to 22, of which 8 in Italy and 14 abroad.

The development strategy of the Ferrari Stores foresees other openings in the most important cities in the world. The next opening will be next Fall at the already disclosed location in the heart of London, on Regent Street.

The Ferrari Store concept reflects the purpose to not only be a store, but also the gathering point of the history and of the spirit of the Ferrari brand, displaying here its double core values: racing and luxury.

Comment
07/29/08
f1

Latest F1 news in brief
  • Newspaper admits Mosley orgy not Nazi
  • Ferrari set to race 'shark fin' in Hungary
  • Valencia to host spectacular GP - racer
  • Montoya has no plans to launch F1 return
  • Berger rules out Zuber for Toro Rosso seat
  • Ferrari insists Schu did not crash test car

Newspaper admits Mosley orgy not Nazi
(GMM)  As Max Mosley's lawyers confirmed the FIA president has launched further legal action against the News of the World, the British scandal newspaper retracted its claim his orgy had a Nazi theme.

Mosley, 68, last week won a privacy lawsuit in the London High Court, following the newspaper's front-page claim he engaged in a "sick Nazi orgy".

But despite defending the Nazi assertions in court, the News International-owned newspaper on Monday agreed with the judge that the claim was proved to be untrue.

According to the news agency Associated Press, News of the World said in a statement that the orgy "was not intended to be, and was not Nazi in character".

Additionally, in a response to the High Court verdict, the News of the World said in a new article: "The judge disagreed with our claim that Mosley engaged in Nazi role-play, although he acknowledged that we had an honest belief that he had."

Ferrari tested the ugly fin last week in Jerez
Ferrari set to race 'shark fin' in Hungary
(GMM)  In Hungary this weekend, Ferrari will debut the so-called 'shark fin' engine cover it tested at Jerez last week, according to the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The newspaper said the concept, pioneered by the Red Bull teams and then copied at races by Renault and Force India, succeeded in improving the stability of the F2008, which is raced at grands prix by title contenders Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa.

McLaren, Toyota and Honda have also tested 'shark fin'-style engine covers, but there is no indication the teams intend to yet use the innovation at races.

It is understood Ferrari intends to also use the shark-fin engine cover at Valencia late next month, but perhaps not at the following high speed Spa and Monza circuits.

"The fight for the title is still very open and we will leave nothing to chance in pursuing our objectives," Massa, who tested the engine cover last Friday, said before leaving Jerez.

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