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DATE News (chronologically)
10/02/08
atlantic
Summerton Wins First Career Atlantic Pole  Rookie Jonathan Summerton turned up the heat on championship-leader Jonathan Bomarito in the final qualifying session of the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda by taking the pole position for Friday’s season finale at Road Atlanta in support of the Petit Le Mans Powered by the Totally New MAZDA6.

Driving the No. 36 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy machine for Newman Wachs Racing, Summerton clocked a best lap at 1:14.137 (123.339 mph) to earn the first pole position of his Atlantic career. In the process, Summerton earned a valuable bonus championship point, closing his gap in the championship standings to just seven points behind Bomarito, 224-217. Even more importantly to Summerton, however, was the fact that he earned the pole in the team’s first race since the passing of team owner Paul Newman last weekend. More ...

10/02/08
nassprint
Richard Childress Racing settles lawsuit  Richard Childress Racing has settled its trademark infringement lawsuit with Majestic Mountain Marketing and the Web site prosportsimages.com.

RCR had sued the company in July for selling pictures and posters of drivers Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. without permission. The company has taken down those images for sale from its Web site.

RCR filed a motion to dismiss the suit Monday in U.S. District Court in North Carolina.

Terms of the settlement were not reported.

10/02/08
automotive
Chrysler Doesn't Expect U.S. Industry Sales to Improve  Chrysler LLC, struggling through a 25 percent decline in its U.S. auto sales this year, doesn't anticipate that the industry's prospects in the market will improve in 2009, company President Jim Press said.  ``I don't see any `whys' why it's going to be any better,'' he told reporters today at the Paris Motor Show. ``We're already adjusting to this level pretty well. We're learning how to fight through it. It's hand-to-hand combat. It's tough.''

Chrysler's U.S. sales decline this year is almost twice the industry's 13 percent drop. The Auburn Hills, Michigan-based automaker, owned by Cerberus Capital Management LP, has been hurt by slumping demand for large pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles after gasoline prices hit $4 a gallon. Chrysler relies more on pickups, SUVs and vans than any other major automaker.

``We were given free rein to face reality'' under Cerberus, which bought 80.1 percent of Chrysler from Daimler AG in August 2007, Press said. Chrysler, the third-largest U.S. automaker, has cut sales to rental-car companies and other corporate fleets. The company also halted leasing by its financial arm, saying it would use those resources for incentives for buyers.

10/02/08
starmazda
Star Mazda Road Atlanta Qualifying  
Peter Dempsey
The drivers of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear put on a record-setting performance in this morning's qualifying session for Friday's Round 11 at Road Atlanta and the Petit Le Mans.  The top three cars all qualified under the existing lap record, the top eight cars are separated by just one second and the top sixteen cars all fall within a two-second range.

Unsurprisingly, Irishman Peter Dempsey, who set the pace in practice yesterday, took the pole position with a lap of 1:18.328 (116.740 mph) under near-perfect conditions, cool and dry with not a breath of wind.  Dempsey, who drives the #21 Andersen Racing/ LotusWorks/Allied Building Products Mazda has won four of the last five races and currently leads the championship battle, but this is only his second time starting from the pole (he was on the pole at Trois-Rivières also).

"This is Irish racing weather, minus the rain, so I'm feeling right at home here," said Dempsey.  "I'm really happy to score another pole because even with four wins so far, to only have one pole seems kind of desperate somehow.  Andersen Racing and my engineer gave me a great car with the pace to win the pole and the race, and I really want to thank them and my sponsors for giving me this chance.  I never thought I'd be able to finish the season due to finances, so to be here at this great track on such a famous race weekend sitting on the pole and leading the championship, well, it’s a dream.  A lot of my family is over from Ireland, so I'm hoping to have a good race and put on a good show for them and the fans." More ...

10/02/08
atlantic
35th Anniversary Atlantic Championship All-Star Team Honored  The 10 members of the 35th Anniversary Atlantic Championship All-Star Team were honored in a media luncheon earlier today at Road Atlanta, site of Friday’s 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season finale in support of the Petit Le Mans Powered by the Totally New MAZDA6.

In attendance at the luncheon were Bill Brack, who won the first two Atlantic titles in 1974 and 1975; Claude Bourbonnais, who won 13 races in Atlantic competition; Mark Dismore, the winningest driver in Atlantic history with 15 career victories; and David Empringham, who won the 1993 and 1994 series titles. Other members of the team include A.J. Allmendinger, Patrick Carpentier, Jimmy Vasser, the late Gilles Villeneuve and his brother, Jacques Villeneuve. Allmendinger, Carpentier, Vasser and Jacques Villeneuve were not in attendance due to other business commitments, while Fogarty was unable to attend as his wife, Sara, was scheduled to give birth to the couple’s second child near their home in Bend, Ore. today. More ...

10/02/08
SWC
Milner Gives Aston Martin First SPEED GT Pole  
Tommy Milner
Tommy Milner, of Leesburg, Va., captured his first-career SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship pole position and the first for Aston Martin in preparation for Friday’s Road Atlanta SPEED GT Finale Presented by Foametix®, part of the Petit Le Mans Presented by the Totally-New MAZDA6. Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., will start second.

Milner turned a fastest lap of 1:26.088 (106.216 mph) around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile circuit in the No. 21 Rahal Letterman Racing Aston Martin DB9. Milner previously held the top qualifying mark for an Aston Martin, starting fourth this year at Mid-Ohio in the team’s debut.

Ritch Marziale, of Tempe, Ariz., provisionally held the pole position, but his times were disallowed after post-qualifying technical inspection revealed the wing height on his No. 56 All-Cut Concrete Cutting Dodge Viper was out of spec.

“I felt good about our car going into qualifying,” Milner said. “I felt okay with the balance in qualifying itself, so it wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but it can’t be too bad if it’s on pole.” More ...

10/02/08
alms
Sarrazin and Peugeot fire back in practice 2  
Stephane Sarrazin
Stephane Sarrazin and Peugeot fired back at Audi in Thursday’s second practice session for Petit Le Mans powered by the Totally New MAZDA6. The Frenchman turned the fastest lap of the race week so far at Road Atlanta, a 1:06.952 (136.575 mph) that put the French marque on top of the timing screen for the first time this week.

Diesel-powered prototypes held the top three positions Thursday afternoon. Sarrazin, who will drive with Nic Minassian and Christian Klien, was 0.128 seconds better than Audi Sport North America’s Allan McNish. The Scot was the quickest driver in the morning session in the Audi R10 TDI that he will share with Dindo Capello and Emanuele Pirro.

The second Audi of Marco Werner and Lucas Luhr turned a best lap of 1:07.773 (134.921 mph). They are the newly crowned LMP1 champions, having taken the title at Detroit. More ...

10/02/08
f1
Williams may be slow, but they are "Cool"  F1 backmarker team Williams F1 joined an elite group of the UK’s most revered and recognized brand names as it was officially listed as a 2008/9 CoolBrand, joining the likes of the Tate Modern, wagamama, Cirque de Soleil, Nike, Rolex, Google and Aston Martin among others, following assessment by marketing professionals and the public alike.

Under the auspices of Superbrands Limited, which was launched in London in 1995, CoolBrands is one of three annual programs which are regular barometers of the companies, services, venues and people that the public at large seek to engage with.

To achieve CoolBrand recognition, 1,100 brands are short-listed by an Expert Council, which is constituted of leading media figures, marketing professionals, fashion designers, authors, journalists and commentators. The short-list is then put to the public vote in the form of a YouGov poll. 500 surviving brands are awarded CoolBrand status and 55 brands form the backbone of the Coolbrand proposition, the CoolBrand Annual, published and released for sale following a reception at the Proud Galleries in London on Tuesday night. More ...

10/02/08
nascar
Yes, Virginia, There Is A NASCAR Monopoly  Imagine, if you will, that I am extremely rich. I have enough money to fund the bailout of the bank crisis several times over (not that I would bail them out — they deserve no sympathy for their own stupidity). Instead, I embark on a little lavish stupidity of my own; I build a race track!

Now, the track that I wind up building is the best that ever was. It’s not too long, not too short, and the banking has been precisely calculated to produce the best possible racing in the corners. It’s got a wide, safe pit road, and the surface is so finely tuned that even a Goodyear racing tire could be used without the fear of it coming apart within just a few laps. The oval seats about 200,000 people, and it’s guaranteed to sell out every single time the gates are open. Every driver, from all forms of motorsports, loves to race there, agreeing that no other track in America is its equal. Heck, the place is so exceptional, it is even rumored that on clear, still nights, ghosts of racers past can be seen driving wispy images of cars from other eras upon it. It is known, simply, as the “Mother of all race tracks.”

However, there is just one problem: I want a NASCAR date. Do you think I can get one? The answer, sadly, is “NO.” Why?

Because I am not a member of the France Family.

Instead, my petition for a race date has been awarded to the low-banked, 1.5-mile, lackluster track known as Kansas Speedway, which already had enough dates to begin with (one). The reason for the snub is because Kansas Speedway is owned and operated by that dreaded entity known as ISC. And ISC, while it is a publicly traded company, is controlled by the France family — with Lesa France Kennedy at the helm. Who are the people doling out the race dates for ISC? Well, that would be a private company, NASCAR, with Lesa’s brother, Brian France, as the CEO.

Works out pretty conveniently for them, don’t you think?

Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you decide to look at it) most of the stuff that I have written above is not true. I am not extremely rich and, in fact, don’t have enough money to bail myself out of the local hoosegow when the need occasionally arises. The part about ISC and NASCAR, however, is sadly a fact of life. More at Frontstretch.com

10/02/08
lmes
Embassy Racing closes doors  Embassy Racing has announced today that the doors to its two car Le Mans Series racing efforts have been closed to business due to the global economic downturn.
10/02/08
a1gp
A1 Teams Given Green Light for Zandvoort Race  A1GP World Cup of Motorsport will have a maximum of 18 cars on the grid for its first race of the 2008/09 season, A1GP Zandvoort, The Netherlands.

“We cannot blame any of the missing teams for a lack of effort. They all burnt the midnight oil and worked as hard as humanly possible to make the grid, but the car build delays just beat them,” said A1GP CEO, Pete da Silva.

The good news for the Dutch fans is their own A1 Team Netherlands car will be there with Jeroen Bleekemolen at the wheel. The teams also definitely racing, some of whom are testing at Snetterton this week, are from Australia, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Lebanon, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and the USA. The final group of teams who are still working flat out and will have to head straight to Zandvoort are Brazil, China, France, Portugal and Switzerland. Meanwhile Canada, Germany, Great Britain, India and Mexico will have to wait for the second event of the season for their race debuts.

While all the missing teams are obviously disappointed, they appreciate this will not seriously dent their championship ambitions. This is due to the change in the sporting regulations that means they can now drop their worst weekend score and just count their best nine results from the ten events.

A1GP Zandvoort, The Netherlands has, in the A1GP tradition, proved an exciting event with close racing which has always been well received by the enthusiastic Dutch fans. While ticket sales have been strong there are still some grandstand seats left.

10/02/08
GP3
GP3 postponed to 2010  The planned GP3 series wont start, at least until 2010, as suspected when a meeting between F.Master's boss Mauro Sipsz and Bernie Ecclestone was called off at Monza. During the following week Sipsz confirmed that the situation appeared to be quite fluid and, on the TV show Paddock he confirmed that the projected start will move to 2010.
10/02/08
f1
Kimi equals fastest lap record  UPDATE (GMM)  Reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen takes no pleasure in his record-equaling feat of ten fastest race laps so far in 2008.

Despite crashing out of fifth place in Singapore last weekend, the 28-year-old Finn's best tour remained unbeaten throughout the 61 lap night race.

The feat drew even with his Ferrari predecessor Michael Schumacher's 2004 record; a mantle Raikkonen equaled as a McLaren driver in 2005.

But he said on Thursday: "The fastest race laps aren't worth anything, if you don't combine them with the situation when they really count."

Raikkonen, who has conceded he will not be able to re-join the battle for this year's championship with his teammate Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton, said he is "really sad" about his current trough.

"I can't explain this dark period and there's nothing I can do to change what has happened," the Finn added.

"This is definitely not my year.  It seems as if the more we try to improve the situation the less we get in the end."

10/01/08 (GMM)  Despite crashing out and scoring no points, world champion Kimi Raikkonen equaled a record at Sunday's Singapore grand prix.

The Finn set the fastest lap of the sport's first night race; his tenth such achievement in the 15 grands prix so far in 2008.

"In the opening laps, the car was a bit difficult but then it improved a lot," Raikkonen confirmed.

It equals Michael Schumacher's standing record of ten fastest laps in the 2004 season, an achievement 28-year-old Raikkonen also equaled as a McLaren driver in 2005.

10/02/08
f1
Briatore to take lesser role in 2009  
Flavio Briatore
(GMM)  Flavio Briatore on Thursday said he has earmarked an assistant so that he can scale down his role at the helm of the Renault team in 2009.

"Next year I will no longer be responsible for everything," the 58-year-old is quoted as saying by Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Briatore, in charge of the former Benetton squad since the Renault takeover earlier this decade, said a team director will take care of the French team's day-to-day operation.

"I will concentrate on the most important elements," he said.

In the same interview, Briatore suggested Fernando Alonso is likely to stay next year, but was less confident about the future of the Spaniard's current teammate Nelson Piquet.

"Fernando is with us; he presented himself to nobody," he said, adding that the issue will be discussed with 27-year-old Alonso in more detail at the end of the season.

On the struggling rookie Piquet, Briatore said: "He has not had a good season so far.  He does a tidy job until qualifying, but suddenly things do not go as well.  We will see."

10/02/08
f1
Ecclestone wants more night races  
Bernie Ecclestone
(GMM)  Despite previously pushing for a 20-race calendar, Bernie Ecclestone insists the weight of the 2009 schedule is "about right".

"No more races, we don't want any more," the F1 chief executive said in interview with Bloomberg.

"We have too many races; we have to lose some," said the 77-year-old, even though the calendar is expanding from 18 to 19 races next year.

It is believed the new focus of billionaire Ecclestone's calendar efforts is for more night races, following the success of the inaugural Singapore grand prix last weekend.

Australia and Malaysia have agreed to delay their start times to the early evening in order to benefit the European television audience, even though Ecclestone insists the latter venue will "for sure" become a night race in the future.

Future venues South Korea and India, meanwhile, may be persuaded to follow Singapore's lead and install floodlighting, while the American magazine Newsweek believes Abu Dhabi is already in talks to become a night race in 2009.

Ecclestone has declared that he wants Japan to also be a night race, and despite his desire for Korea and China to follow suit, the latter "has never entertained" the concept, Newsweek said.

10/02/08
nassprint
New paint scheme for Jeff Gordon  
New 2009 paint scheme for Jeff Gordon
This morning on NBC’s TODAY show, Jeff Gordon unveiled Team DuPont’s 2009 “FireStorm” paint scheme which will debut on the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 car during Speedweeks leading up to the Daytona 500 in February. Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports and DuPont are the longest currently running driver/owner/sponsor partnership in NASCAR and after 16 years, the new design marks the third primary paint scheme for the No. 24 team designed by renowned motorsports artist Sam Bass.

“I have been most fortunate to have had the opportunity to design the graphics for the DuPont/Hendrick Motorsports/Jeff Gordon race cars since they entered the NASCAR Cup Series in 1992,” said Bass.

“Beginning with the revolutionary 'Rainbow Warrior' paint scheme and transitioning into the now iconic 'Fire and Flames' scheme, I knew the 2009 ‘FireStorm’ paint scheme needed to be special. Utilizing DuPont’s state-of-the-art paint mixtures developed specifically for this project, the idea was to present a classic, yet contemporary look to the car. “The blend of yellow to red flames from the front of the car back into the black makes the car appear to be a flaming thunderball rolling out of the dark clouds. It will be incredibly exciting to see this car on the race track.” More ...

10/02/08
motogp
French MotoGP rights awarded  The AB Groupe and Eurosport France have agreed a three-year deal with commercial rights holders, Dorna Sports, for the television rights for MotoGP across France, until 2011.

Under the deal, digital-terrestrial channel NT1 will broadcast all 18 MotoGP races live throughout the season, including a pre-show for each race whilst cable-satellite channel Eurosport France will offer practice and qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday, followed by all three races live on Sunday. Each channel will create its own individual program for the events.

Deputy Managing Director of Eurosport France, Patrick Goddet, said: “MotoGP is a premium right registered in Eurosport’s genetic code and viewers are very passionate about this extremely spectacular discipline. We are very proud to have concluded this new agreement with Dorna for the next 3 seasons. We will offer our subscribers exhaustive coverage of the 3 championship categories; MotoGP, 125cc and 250cc."

NT1 is one of the top three DTT channels in France and has around twenty million viewers whilst Eurosport France reaches 6.6 million homes, making it the most popular cable-satellite channel in terms of audience in the country.
10/02/08
nassprint
Toyota credits Busch for putting it ahead of curve  
Kyle Busch has been on fire all year
Toyota has made great strides in its second season in NASCAR’s Cup and Nationwide series, wrapping up the manufacturers’ championship in the latter with Denny Hamlin’s win last Saturday at Kansas Speedway.  But Toyota Racing Development president Lee White says that Kyle Busch, Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, is the driver who has made this a special year for the company.

The 23-year-old has given Toyota 19 wins this season—eight in Cup, eight in Nationwide and three in trucks.

“I would have to be extremely honest and say that Kyle Busch probably has us ahead of schedule,” White said. “Even with Joe Gibbs Racing joining our ranks (last winter), no one would have believed that they would have made the transition from 12 or 13 years with another manufacturer to our brand and learned to mesh with TRD and our type of engineering support and had the type of success that they enjoyed early this season.

“Frankly, if you take Kyle Busch out of the equation, our success ratio is just about where everybody would have thought it should have been: win a couple of races, have a shot in more and, hopefully, two or three guys in the Chase. Not to take anything away from any of our drivers or any of our teams— certainly not taking anything away from Tony (Stewart) or Denny, they’re great drivers and everybody has great futures—but Kyle has had an extraordinary year. Yahoo! Sports

“I think anybody you talk to in the industry would agree that he’s had an extraordinary year.”

Busch easily led the regular-season points, but has stumbled out of the blocks in the Chase, falling from first to last in the 12-man playoff after the first three of 10 postseason races.

“He’s had a career year, without question,” White said. “But NASCAR racing, with the Chase format, timing’s everything.”

Asked about winning the title in Nationwide, White said he was proud of the way the Toyota teams bounced back after NASCAR cut back on the horsepower in their engines at midseason.

“I think it really speaks well for our teams that, in spite of a bit of a slap, they were still able to get past that and come back and compete with people and win races,” White said. “Certainly, it’s the first of many. We’re going to be here for a long time and we’re not here to watch, we’re here to participate and, hopefully, have a shot.”

10/02/08
f1
F1 working on passing concern  Neither of the two new Formula One races on the 2008 calendar has been notable for the most important part of racing: overtaking.

A strong case can be made that circuit design militates against passing moves, but for 2009 the design of Formula One cars themselves will change yet again. Backed by the sport's ruling body, the FIA, and in an extraordinary and hitherto unknown spirit of mutual collaboration, design engineers from the three leading teams of 2006 – Ferrari, Renault and McLaren – pooled their knowledge, resources and experience to frame crucial new aerodynamic regulations aimed specifically at creating better overtaking opportunities. The plan was not to make passing so easy that it happens like points in basketball, however.

"Great overtaking," suggests McLaren's Paddy Lowe, who together with Renault's Pat Symonds and Ferrari's Rory Byrne formed the Overtaking Working Group, "is appreciated most where the guy has really worked for it. My personal favorite was when Mika Hakkinen passed Michael Schumacher at Spa in 2000 as both of them overtook on either side of Ricardo Zonta going up the hill to Les Combes." More ...

10/02/08
racing news
The US comes to Monaco  US motor sport will have a major presence in Monaco this December with leading figures from across the nation’s racing industry set to participate in this year’s Motor Sport Business Forum.

Tony George
Tony George, Chief Executive Officer of both the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation, will deliver the keynote address on the second day of the Forum.

He will be making his first-ever appearance at the Forum and his participation is further evidence of the event’s growing reputation as the leading conference for the global motor racing industry. As George said: "The Motor Sport Business Forum is the premiere international event to both learn and discuss.”

Having been at the forefront of US motor racing for many years, with his Indianapolis circuit the only track in the world to have hosted rounds of Formula One, MotoGP and NASCAR, George is well placed to talk about the business of the motor racing industry.

He added: “2009 is an important year for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, celebrating its centennial, and for the unified IndyCar Series. I look forward to talking about both, along with the future of MotoGP and Formula One in the United States.”

Set to join George at the Forum will be representatives from NASCAR, the leading motor racing series in the US, as well as the Automobile Competition Committee for the United States (ACCUS), the national governing body for motor sport.

It all adds to what will be a truly global event featuring Formula One teams, global motor racing sponsors, championship organizers, race circuit owners and world class drivers,  from across the motor sport spectrum. Other speakers set for the Forum this year include Vodafone’s Global Director of Marketing David Wheldon, MotoGP Managing Director Pau Serracanta and Force India CEO Vijay Mallya.

The full conference program will be released in the coming weeks and is expected to include even more high profile representatives from the global motor racing industry.  With growing interest from motor sport markets across the world, the event is set to be the biggest Forum yet.

10/02/08
nascar
Mars Acquires Wrigley  In a move that ends more than a century of family control, shareholders of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. approved the company’s $23 billion sale to Mars Inc., which now becomes the world’s largest candy maker. The deal, which bumps Britain’s Cadbury PLC from the top candy-making slot, will offer gums such as Juicy Fruit and Big Red, M&Ms, Snickers and Skittles under the same corporate banner. Under Mars’ ownership, the firm will be able to grow in new directions, Bill Wrigley Jr. said. Wrigley’s is slated to take over control of Mars’ non-chocolate candy, such as Starburst and Skittles. csnews.com
10/02/08
f1
McLaren vow not to repeat 2007 mistakes  (GMM)  McLaren has admitted it will take a 'strategic' approach to the final races of 2008 for fear of again squandering the chance of winning the championship.

Team boss Ron Dennis said in Singapore last weekend, where championship leader Lewis Hamilton finished third, that neither team nor driver will take undue risks in order to protect their advantage in the drivers' classification.

Last year, Hamilton had a 17-point advantage with two races to go, but key errors allowed Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to bridge the gap.

"I think an inherent weakness in the team and Lewis last year was the overwhelming desire to win the races at almost any risk," chief executive Martin Whitmarsh is quoted as saying by The Guardian.

"That is more forgivable in Lewis -- you would like to have that in a young racing driver.  We as a team should have been more disciplined than we were," he added.

Indeed, in the closing laps of the Singapore grand prix, Hamilton was instructed by the pitwall to settle for third place rather than try to pass Nico Rosberg.

In 2007, the British driver slid into the pitlane gravel in Shanghai, before further mistakes in Brazil cost him the title.

"We wanted to win and pushed too hard when we didn't need to," Whitmarsh said, recalling the last races a year ago.

"Championships aren't won like that," he added.

Hamilton, meanwhile, is this week the subject of criticism in the German press, with the broadcaster RTL pronouncing him a "megalomaniac" for comparing himself with the legendary late triple world champion Ayrton Senna.

"I know that I am as good as Ayrton Senna was," the 23-year-old is quoted as saying.

10/02/08
f1
Berger pessimistic about STR future  
Gerhard Berger
(GMM)  Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger sounds pessimistic about his chances of keeping the Faenza based team going into the future.

The Austrian recently denied he "demanded" Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz increase his support rather than vow to sell his 50 per cent share.

Toro Rosso's future is also clouded by the fact that, by 2010, it will only be allowed to compete with a car that is fully designed and built at its own factory.

"I would struggle to carry on alone (without Red Bull)," Berger is quoted as saying by Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I need the backing of a car manufacturer.  Which isn't there," he added.

Following this year's collapse of the Super Aguri team, meanwhile, it is feared that the worsening global financial crisis could compel other competitors to pull out.

"Those teams that are very dependent on car manufacturers for funding and don't have commercial sponsors might be under more pressure," former team boss David Richards told Reuters.

"But there is unlikely to be any knee-jerk reaction.  (Withdrawing) is such a high-profile decision to make."

Williams CEO Adam Parr believes it would be very simple for the new FOTA alliance of teams to find ways to halve annual budgets.

"I know that because, guess what, I know what we are spending.  Why does anyone have to spend more than Williams spend on going racing?" he wondered.

10/02/08
f1
Stewards also hurt McLaren in Singapore  (GMM)  Yet another stewards decision, this time at last weekend's Singapore grand prix, played against the McLaren team.

The Mercedes-powered outfit arrived in the Asian city-state direct from Paris, where it lost an appeal against a verdict at the earlier Belgian grand prix that cost championship leader Lewis Hamilton the race win.

On Sunday in Singapore, the protracted time it took the stewards to penalize Williams' Nico Rosberg for pitting under the safety car arguably hurt Hamilton more than it did Rosberg, who finished the race an unusual second.

"Nico was able to get the hammer down out in front while the stewards were coming to their decision -- which effectively neutered his eventual stop-go penalty," McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said.

He believes Hamilton, who finished in third place behind Rosberg, might have won the race had the Briton also broken the rule about refueling when the pitlane is closed.

"But, in truth, you can't second-guess things like that, and we brought Lewis in as soon as the rules allowed, in good faith," Whitmarsh continued.  "Also, to be fair to the stewards, they had a lot to think about at the time."

Sir Frank Williams also admits the stewards' protracted decision-making in Singapore played to Rosberg's advantage.

"We prayed that the penalty would be announced as late as possible," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, explaining that every extra lap allowed the driver to pull out a gap.

10/01/08
track news
Ex-Ford racing boss to head Miller Motorsports Park  Dan Davis, the former motorsports director for Ford Motor Co., has been named president and chief operating officer of Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City, effective immediately.

Davis replaces Alan Wilson, the track’s designer and original chief executive officer and general manager, who left the company to pursue his interest in a new racetrack-building company, Wilson Sahara Motorsports. Davis, 59, comes to Miller after a 32-year career at Ford, the last 12 of which were spent as the motorsports director. He has extensive experience in many areas of motorsports around the world, including Formula One, NASCAR, IndyCar, sports cars and drag racing.

“I am thrilled to have been asked to become a part of the team at America’s finest motorsports facility,” Davis said. “I appreciate the confidence shown in me by the Miller family, and I look forward to helping Miller Motorsports Park achieve its vast potential in the years to come.”

Greg Miller, CEO of the Larry H. Miller Group, said that Davis will be an invaluable asset to Miller Motorsports Park.

“We are very fortunate to be able to attract a person of Davis’s caliber to take the helm at Miller Motorsports Park,” Miller said. “He is one of the most respected executives in the automotive and motorsports industries, and the perfect choice to take us into the future.”

10/01/08
a1gp
Mexico team to also miss A1GP opener  A1 Team Mexico announced that it will not participate in the opening round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport Season Four that will be held at Circuit Park Zandvoort in The Netherlands, on October 3 - 5.

Unfortunately, the series has had delays building its new A1GP Powered by Ferrari car and this has also affected this team. This has been a situation that will cause the absence of several teams, but we are sure that we will be in round two in China.

With the recent changes to the points' scoring system that allows a team to drop its worst event score, A1 Team Mexico's opportunities of challenging for the World Cup of Motorsport title will not be adversely affected by missing the Zandvoort event.

The series has plans to have a full-grid for the race at Chengdu in China that will be held on November 7 - 9.

10/01/08
alms
Petit LeMans Wednesday notebook  
Liz Halliday
Petit Le Mans powered by the Totally New MAZDA6 marks Liz Halliday’s return to American Le Mans Series competition, and she could not be more pleased. The winningest female driver in Series history, Halliday will drive one of Creation Autosportif’s Creation CA07-AIM factory prototypes in LMP1 with works drivers Stuart Hall and Dean Stirling.

Saturday’s race will be Halliday’s first in the Series since the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in 2007. She has never competed in an LMP1 machine in the Series.

“It’s great to be back racing in America,” she said. “I had forgotten how hard prototypes are on your neck. But the car is really good and really fast. We have a great team and great crew with a lot of experience at this track. The race will be very challenging with a full grid of top cars and drivers, and the Series has continued to improve since the last time that I raced in it, but I am definitely ready to be back.

“As I haven't done much racing in the USA since 2006, I am interested to see how things have improved and developed, specifically the use of cellulosic E85 which I hope makes its way into more areas of motorsport soon. ‘Green racing’ is definitely the future and I am proud to be supporting it as a driver.”

Both Creation entries will be powered by cellulosic E85. More ...

10/01/08
superleague
Bertrand Baguette competing in the Superleague in Zolder  
Bertrand Baguette
This coming week-end, the Superleague Formula, a brand new discipline bringing together some of the top football teams on the planet, will be calling on Circuit Zolder... and Bertrand Baguette will be on hand! "Wim Coekelbergs, who runs the Azerti Automotive team, contacted me this Wednesday telling me that Andreas Zuber was looking to concentrate his efforts on the GP2, which meant that he wished to drop out of this new competition series ", Bertrand explained. "This meant that there was a drive going in the Al Ain FC single-seater car, a top team in the United Arab Emirates. He asked me whether I might be interested and I obviously said yes.."

And a few hours later Baguette found himself in charge of a single-seater bearing the purple and white colors…but in fact in no way related to the RSC Anderlecht colors. In the meanwhile, what is this so called single-seater in the Superleague Formula? "The car appears to be highly competitive, but not quite as intense as the Formula Renault 3.5", Baguette continued. “Élan Motorsports Technologies designed the chassis, an American company run by no less than Don Panoz, who has a pretty solid know-how in such competitions as the IndyCar, the Champ Car, and others. This aesthetically well designed single-seater is powered by a V12 4,2 liters engine built by the British company Menard, producing no less than 750 bhp. This promises to be good fun at Zolder..." More ...

10/01/08
nassprint
Jeff Gordon to Appear on Thursday’s ESPN First Take  NASCAR star Jeff Gordon will be a guest on the Thursday, Oct. 2, edition of ESPN First Take. The news and information program airs at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN2.

Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports for his entire career as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver, will tell host Dana Jacobson why his car will have a new look in 2009. Gordon also will discuss the upcoming AMP Energy 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race airs live Sunday, Oct. 5, at 1 p.m. ET on ABC.

10/01/08
starmazda
Dempsey tops both Star Mazda sessions  
Peter Dempsey
Putting an exclamation point on his fastest time from the morning session (1:19.254 / 115.376 mph) Irishman Peter Dempsey turned the fastest lap in the afternoon session as well.  Under near-perfect racing conditions, cool and dry with a slight breeze, Dempsey turned a 1:18.496 (116.490 mph) in the #21 Andersen Racing/ LotusWorks/Allied Building Products Mazda.  Dempsey leads the Star Mazda championship battle with four wins in the last five races. 

Second-quick, after trading fast laps several times during the 45-minute session, was MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder scholarship winner Joel Miller with a lap of 1:18.625 (116.299 mph) in the #20 JDC Motorsports / Mazda / K&N Air Filters Mazda.  Miller, currently second in the championship battle, is the 2007 Skip Barber Pro Series Champion and MAZDASPEED Motorsport Driver Development Ladder scholarship winner.

Both times were under the fastest recorded lap of Road Atlanta by a Star Mazda Championship car; a 1:18.640 set (on much softer compound tires) by Scott Jenkins in 2005, but are not regarded as an official new lap record, which must be set in qualifying or the race. More ...

10/01/08
irl
IRL TV ratings revved up  In the first season of open-wheel racing unification, the Indy Racing League registered viewership increases on its telecasts on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2. For the 17 races on the IRL schedule this year, race viewership averaged 1.7 million across the three networks, which was a 21.4 percent increase over the 2007 season, according to New York-based Arbitron Inc.

Separately, ABC averaged 2.7 million viewers for its seven IRL races, up 10.1 percent  for the same number of races in 2007; ESPN averaged 707,000 viewers for four races, up 27.2 percent compared to the five races run in the 2007 season. ESPN2 averaged 892,000 viewers for its five races in the 2008 season, which was a 53.5 percent increase over the 2007 average. 

IRL officials announced multi-year multimedia partnerships with ABC and Versus in August and the 2009 broadcast schedule recently was unveiled. Versus, the Indy Racing League’s new TV partner, will air next year’s opening race on April 5, and will air three consecutive races before ABC kicks off its five-race coverage, beginning May 24 with the 93rd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

ABC will air five races, produced by ESPN, within a seven-race period before Versus televises the final eight races, including the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which has been moved up one day to a twilight race on Oct. 10. The entire 2009 IRL television package will be available in high-definition television.

Following races at St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Kansas on Versus, ABC will air five of the next seven races, including four that it carried last season. ABC will air the Indianapolis 500 for the 45th consecutive season, followed by the races at The Milwaukee Mile, Iowa Speedway and Watkins Glen International. ABC also will televise the IRL’s first visit to Toronto. IBJ.com

10/01/08
a1gp
AGR to run Team USA  
Michael Andretti - It is rumored that the Team USA A1GP team will give his IndyCar drivers Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick some additional road racing experience
A name that stands for American racing royalty will join forces with A1GP World Cup of Motorsport for Season Four. Andretti Green Racing (AGR), the most successful team in Indy Racing League history, announced today it will run the US entry in A1GP beginning at Circuit Park Zandvoort, The Netherlands this weekend.

"We are very proud to be representing the United States on the level and competitive playing field that is provided by A1GP," said team co-owner, Michael Andretti. "Andretti Green has been fortunate to enjoy a reasonable amount of success in just six seasons of operation and we're looking forward to joining the world stage of A1GP."

Andretti, who is a racing legend himself, will be on hand at Circuit Park Zandvoort to announce the team's Season Four driver lineup. More ...
10/01/08
alms
Audi strong in early going  Eager to keep its unbeaten streak at Road Atlanta, Audi held the top spot in testing Wednesday at Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans Powered by the Totally New MAZDA6. The No. 2 Audi R10 TDI of Marco Werner and Lucas Luhr set the fastest time in a two-hour session, a 1:07.091 (136.292 mph) for the American Le Mans Series’ newly crowned LMP1 champions.

The time was a staggering 1.815 seconds under Werner’s record-setting time in qualifying for last year’s 1,000-mile/10-hour classic. The 10 fastest cars were under the existing record, which is in considerable danger of falling Friday in qualifying.

What’s more, the top six cars were within 0.94 seconds of each other. Peugeot’s diesel-powered factory 908 was second quickest at 1:07.275 (135.920 mph). Stephane Sarrazin, Nic Minassian and Christian Klien will drive the closed-top prototype. More ...

10/01/08
f1
Williams team keeps same driver lineup  The AT&T Williams team today confirmed an unchanged driver line-up for the 2009 Formula One season, with Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima retained as the team’s race drivers, while Nico Hulkenberg will take up duties as the team’s official test driver for a second year. With continuity a key consideration, the team is confident in the abilities of Nico Rosberg to apply his talent and experience to lead the important introduction of the FW31 next season.

Kazuki Nakajima has built on his consistency to improve steadily throughout the season. It is the team’s expectation that Kazuki will be able to build his natural pace on this firm foundation next season. Nico Hulkenberg, who is currently leading the Formula 3 Euroseries, will continue to play an important role for the team next year with a significant shift in the technical regulations and the increased onus this will place on testing and development.

Commenting on the driver line-up for 2009, AT&T Williams Team Principal Frank Williams said, “I am delighted we are able to maintain continuity with our drivers going into 2009. Nico Rosberg continues to be one of the most capable drivers in the sport. Kazuki is getting stronger all the time and has more to offer and Nico Hulkenberg is developing well.” 

10/01/08
Miscellaneous
Joke of the day  What's the difference between a pigeon and a stockbroker?  

A pigeon can still make a deposit on a Ferrari.
10/01/08
automotive
Auto sales plummet in September  The sales declines continued for automakers in September, with Ford Motor Co. leading the pack.

Ford reported a sales drop of 34.6 percent in September, followed by Toyota Motor Corp., which saw its sales fall 32.3 percent. Honda Motor Co.'s sales dropped 24 percent and General Motors Corp. reported a 15.8 decline.

Companies blamed the weak economy, cautious consumers and growing credit problems combined to give the company its worst sales month in 2008. 

Ford sold 116,734 vehicles in September; GM sold 284,300; Toyota sold 144,260; and Honda sold 96,626 cars and trucks. More ...

10/01/08
irl
Hunter-Reay helps open ethanol plant in Ohio  Ryan Hunter-Reay, who drove the No. 17 Team Ethanol car to its first victory in 2008, participated in the grand opening of POET Biorefining’s new Ethanol production facility Sept. 30 in Fostoria, Ohio. The facility is the second to open in Ohio, and its state-of-the-art refining process will yield 65 million gallons of ethanol each year and also will create POET’s high-quality livestock feed grain, Dakota Gold.

“I am very pleased to be able to be here today to help open the plant, and to further the cause of ethanol,” Hunter-Reay told the crowd that included congressman Bob Latta and the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Robert Boggs. “In the IndyCar Series, we have done a lot to dispel the negative myths about the performance of ethanol, and I look forward to doing even more in the years to come.”

10/01/08
irl
Firestone completes two-day tire test at Indianapolis  "Any time that I can be out at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you’re going to see a smile on my face.”

While it was 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon who said it, the sentiment could be attributed to any of the six drivers who tested on the famous 2.5-mile oval Sept. 29-30. The sentiment is also shared by representatives of Firestone, who requested the test session to prepare for the 93rd Indianapolis 500 next May.

“We’re testing at Indy because we’ve run the same spec tire here for the last two years,” said Paige Mader, general manager of race tire development for Firestone. “Preparing for ’09 there are some tires we couldn’t really make exactly the same as we made them in the past, so we’re looking at some changes, trying to get the good balance between grip and a good, safe, fast tire. We have both construction and compound specs that we’re evaluating.”

Feedback on the performance of the various tires came from Wheldon, 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice and 2008 winner Scott Dixon, as well as Ryan Briscoe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan. More ...

10/01/08
irl
Briscoe eager to race in home country  Ryan Briscoe was born and raised in Sydney, Australia – about 600 miles south of Surfers Paradise, site of the Nikon Indy 300 on Oct. 26. Despite winning three national karting championships as a youth, Briscoe has done very little racing in his home country.

“I really haven’t done a lot of racing in Australia,” said Briscoe, who took over the No. 6 Team Penske machine this season, earning two victories and three poles en route to a fifth-place finish in the championship. “I started out in go-karts, but moved to Europe at 15 and really raced in Europe and America my whole career. I’ve only done the Champ Car race (in 2006) and a support class race for the Australian Grand Prix in 2002. They’re the only two races I’ve ever done in my own country outside of the junior go-kart level.”

The opportunity to race in Australia affords the 27-year-old an opportunity to see friends and family while away from the track and to get a jump start on the 2009 season on the track. More ...

10/01/08
nassprint
Robert 'Bootie' Barker to join Michael Waltrip Racing in 2009  Michael Waltrip Racing announced today that Robert “Bootie” Barker will become the new crew chief on the No. 55 MWR Toyota for owner/driver Michael Waltrip for the 2009 season.

"Bringing Bootie on as my crew chief is part of a larger plan that enables Bobby Kennedy to move into a critical management position,” said Waltrip.

Barker, a journeyman crew chief who has worked the pits in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing before with drivers Dave Blaney, Jason Leffler, Mike Bliss, Jeff Green and Scott Riggs, says he is thrilled at the opportunity to join the two-time Daytona 500 winner’s organization.

"I really appreciate the confidence that Michael has in me," said Barker. "He has accomplished a lot in his racing career, and the fact that he wanted me to be his  crew chief goes a long way for me personally.”
10/01/08
atlantic
Cameron Leads Opening Practice at Road Atlanta  Dane Cameron may be considered a rookie in the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, but he is one of the drivers with the most previous experience at Road Atlanta, which he used to his advantage in the first official practice in preparation for Friday’s Atlantic season finale in support of the Petit Le Mans Powered by the Totally New Mazda 6.

Cameron posted a lap at 1:14.963 (121.980 mph) in the No. 19 MAZDASPEED/Finlay Motorsports/Lynx Racing machine for Genoa Racing to lead the day’s lone practice session for the first Atlantic race at Road Atlanta since 1993. Cameron’s previous experience on the 2.54-mile permanent road course came in Star Mazda and Formula Ford Zetec competition. He is hoping that experience will enable him to take his second pole position of the season and his first career Atlantic victory this weekend.

“It’s always nice to come to a new track for the series and have some experience in different cars,” Cameron said. “I raced here in Star Mazda last year and Formula Ford 2000 the year before, so I’ve been here quite a few times. It’s one of my favorite places, since the first time I ever came here. I was really looking forward to coming here in the Atlantic car, especially, and it’s really great to start the official weekend off being quickest in the first session. We made the car better and better all day yesterday, and we’re pretty happy with it now. We’ll keep making it better. It’s pretty close up at the top right now, but we’ll see if we can get another pole tomorrow. I’d like to start this race on the front row and try to win it and end the season right. More ...

10/01/08
irl
HVM Team Owner Comments on 2009 TV Schedule  It’s been nearly 24 hours since the IndyCar Series announced their 2009 television schedule that includes both a strong network and cable presence.  IndyCar Series partner ABC/ESPN will again produce and televise the famed Indianapolis 500 to a worldwide audience and also air the debut of the IndyCar Series to the Streets of Toronto.

Meanwhile, new league cable partner, VERSUS, steps in to not only broadcast 13 events in 2009, but will feature at least three hours of programming on race day and a one-hour preview show the day before each race.  The announcement of the schedule has HVM Team Owner Keith Wiggins feeling positive as the team continues to prepare their plans for the 2009 season. 

“We’re in a time period where we are focused on building our race program to be bigger and better in all aspects for 2009,” said Wiggins. “Any time you’re working four, five or even six months ahead with commercial partners, it’s good to know that a solid television broadcast schedule is in place.  A package that includes ABC televising the Indianapolis 500 and a new cable partner who is excited about the product makes it easier for us to talk to current and potential partners.” More ...

10/01/08
nassprint
JTG-Daugherty Racing merges with Michael Waltrip  JTG-Daugherty Racing announced today it has chosen to field Toyotas during its inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup campaign in 2009, after forming a technical alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) and Toyota Racing Development (TRD).

JTG-Daugherty, co-owned by Tad and Jodi Geschickter and former NBA All-Star and current ESPN broadcaster Brad Daugherty, will enter the #47 Toyota Camry sponsored by primary sponsors, Kingsford Charcoal, Clorox Laundry and Household Products, and Little Debbie’s Snack Cakes.

JTG-Daugherty will move its Sprint Cup operation into MWR’s 140,000-square foot facility in Cornelius, North Carolina, and receive cars, engineering, mechanical and other technical support from MWR’s existing infrastructure.  TRD will support the JTG-Daugherty team with engines from its Costa Mesa, California, facility, and vehicle engineering support from its Salisbury, N.C., facility.

Co-Owner Tad Geschickter commented, “We are extremely excited that Toyota chose to support us as we move to the Sprint Cup Series.  Their engineering expertise and commitment to excellence is sure to expedite our development into a competitive Cup team.”

Frank Kerr has been named crew chief of the #47 car. More ...

10/01/08
automotive
Bush signs $25B auto loan bill  President Bush signed a $634 billion spending bill Tuesday that includes funding for $25 billion in low-cost government loans for the auto industry.
The landmark loan program will allow automakers to borrow money to retool plants to build advanced technology vehicles that are at least 25 percent more fuel efficient than currently required.

The program gives preference to plants at least 20 years old and sets aside 10 percent of the funds for companies with 500 or fewer employees -- such as startup electric carmakers and some suppliers.

"We commend the Congress and the President for their action at a critical time in the auto industry's transformation," GM spokesman Greg Martin said late Tuesday "Now, we need the rulemaking process to keep pace with the urgency in which we're developing new technologies."

Bush signed the bill Tuesday evening and issued a written statement but did not specifically mention the auto loans, reflecting a split among his advisors on whether to back funding for the program. The White House ultimately refused to take a position.

10/01/08
ama
Spies to Yamaha World Superbike  Ben Spies is going to World Superbike.  The three-time AMA Superbike Champion signed a one-year commitment with Yamaha Motor Italia to team with young Brit Tom Sykes, during a trip to Italy last week.

“I’m very excited about joining Yamaha in World Superbike,” Spies said in a statement released by Yamaha. “This is a positive step for the direction of my career. I’ll have a great opportunity to race on many of the top road racing circuits in the world. Riding with a company as passionate about racing as Yamaha is going to put me in a good position to contest for a world championship right from the start.”

Spies joined the Suzuki domination of the Superbike class when he moved to the class in 2005. Racing alongside Mat Mladin, the greatest rider in the history of the class, Spies finished second his first year before stringing together three in a row, including this year’s title which he was awarded when the appeal of Mladin’s disqualification from his double victories at Virginia International Raceway was denied. At last Sunday’s season finale, Spies made the point that he would have won the title even if Mladin had kept the wins.

10/01/08
nassprint
Gordon sues investment banker/adviser over failed GEM merger  NASCAR Sprint Cup driver/owner Robert (Robby) Gordon is suing McLaren Capital Advisors, Inc.; Matt Doherty looking for relief on the of the $1 million fee in connection with the failed sale of Gordon's NASCAR operating assets to the GEM team. Gordon claims that the failed transaction was fraudulently induced.
10/01/08
atlantic
Skerlong injured in testing  With two pole positions and seven top-five finishes including his first victory, American standout Carl Skerlong’s 2008 Atlantic season has come to an end.  Set to finish in the top-four in the Atlantic Championship, Skerlong suffered a concussion in a high-speed accident at Road Atlanta yesterday, while testing for this weekend’s final round of competition.  Skerlong, driving the #14 King Taco car was running first at the time of the accident, “The car was good.  Our lap times were improving each lap and we were quickest until I lost it in turn one.  We rolled off with a quick car; I think we had a car that could win the race.”

The 2008 Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda saw Skerlong score his first pole position (Edmonton – race two) and his first victory (New Jersey – from pole), in his second season of Atlantic competition.  He had three race results out of the top-five but those were due to either contact or mechanical issues…he finished inside the top-five in every other race, including four podium finishes.  “I was so excited to fight for a top-three finish in the Championship this weekend.  I am quite sore from the accident but not being able to race is much more painful!  I want to thank King Taco for their continued support, also my engineer Burke Harrison for giving me fast cars all season and thanks to Shane, Tyler and the entire PCM/USRT crew, they are terrific and it has been a good season.”

10/01/08
f1
Sato's second child born  (GMM)  Former F1 driver Takuma Sato, a candidate for a seat at Toro Rosso next year, has become a father for the second time.

The Japanese's partner Chiharu, who had their first son just before Christmas in 2005, gave birth to a baby girl at Monaco's Princess Grace hospital on Tuesday.

Weighing 2.74 kilograms, the child is in "good health", as is her mother, 31-year-old Sato's management confirmed.

10/01/08
f1
Coulthard at Moscow track ceremony  (GMM)  David Coulthard was present at a ceremony on Wednesday as work on a formula one-standard circuit near Moscow began.

The veteran of nearly 250 grands prix planted an oak tree at the Moscow Raceway site in Volokolamsk, some 80 kilometers west of the Russian capital.

Construction of the 3.9 kilometer layout, at a cost of $215m, is being overseen by Hans Geist, formerly of F1 projects in Austria and Bahrain, with Hermann Tilke in charge of design.

10/01/08
irl
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Completes Texas Test  Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) completed a one-day test at the 1.5-mile oval at Texas Motor Speedway yesterday and both McDonald’s driver Justin Wilson and Hole in the Wall Camps driver Graham Rahal were extremely happy with the progress the team has made since racing here in June.  Both drivers ran considerably faster than the average speed each ran in qualifying for the Bombardier Learjet 550 held here in June and completed a combined total of 400 miles.

“It was a very good test,” said Wilson.  “We learned a lot of things and worked on the 1.5-mile oval setup.  It was a lot better than what it was when we raced here straightaway.  The setup we came here with was a big improvement and shows the progress we have made during the season.  And we made improvements during the day as well so I am very pleased with the progress.  I think we’re going in the right direction so everyone can be very proud.  It was the first test since Paul passed away so it was difficult.  Everyone kept working away and doing what they do best under difficult times.  We just want to go out there and do the best for Paul.  He always followed our progress during tests and had been known to come to many of them over the years.  I think he would be happy about our progress.” More ...

10/01/08
a1gp
British team to skip A1GP opener  Due to the delay in the new A1GP car build schedule, A1 Team Great Britain will not be ready to participate in the 2008/09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport Season Opener at Zandvoort, Netherlands on 4-5 October 2008.

A1 Team Great Britain has today confirmed that it will be one of the A1GP teams absent from Round 1 of the 2008/09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport taking place at Circuit Park Zandvoort, Netherlands this weekend, 4-5 October 2008.  Despite huge efforts from the entire squad to get the British entry ready to compete in the season opener, the delays in the new A1GP car build schedule has unfortunately meant that this has not been possible.

The challenging 4.63km Dutch track holds good memories for A1 Team GBR.  A year ago, the team started the 2007/08 A1GP season in style with a dominate victory in the Feature Race, courtesy of Oliver Jarvis.  The team's competitiveness continued throughout the season, and GBR went on to finish third in the Championship.  A1 Team GBR is the only national team to achieve top three Championship standings in all three A1GP seasons to date.

10/01/08
speedcar
Speedcar announces new calendar  After a successful first season, Speedcar Series is unveiling new and exciting changes ahead of Season 2 scheduled to flag off in December this year.

Former F1 drivers will be back behind the wheel this season along with a host of other new teams and drivers battling it out for a substantial prize pot of 3 million US dollars.

The provisional calendar for the '08-'09 season is as follows:

Date

Circuit Country Event
05-06 December Dubai UAE Grand Racing
23-24 January Sakhir Bahrain Grand Racing
27-28 February Dubai UAE Grand Racing
04-05 April Sepang Malaysia F1 Grand Prix
18-19 April Sakhir Bahrain F1 Grand Prix
24-25 April Dubai UAE Grand Racing

This season will see Speedcar Series run at the Malaysian and Bahrain F1 Grand Prix as well as in stand alone events in conjunction with GP2 Asia under the Grand Racing banner. More ...

10/01/08
f1
Toro Rosso records rare profit  (GMM)  Just as it emerges that Williams is running up debts, London's Evening Standard newspaper reports that another midfield F1 team, Toro Rosso, has recorded a profit for the first time in years.

One race after team driver Sebastian Vettel drove to victory at Monza, the paper's business section says the newly lodged 2007 accounts for Scuderia Toro Rosso show a $720,000 profit.

Reportedly, this involves more than $50 million in investment by the Red Bull energy drinks company, whose supremo Dietrich Mateschitz co-owns the team with Gerhard Berger.

The profit is the first for Faenza based Toro Rosso, previously known as Minardi, in more than ten years.

10/01/08
f1
McLaren planning upgrade for final race  With just three races remaining in the 2008 F1 season, and McLaren ahead marginally in both championships, the team is still pushing development of its car and according to team boss Martin Whitmarsh will bring a significant upgrade package to its car at the season ending Brazilian Grand Prix.

"Ordinarily, the Singapore weekend would have been our last big upgrade package of the season," Whitmarsh said. "But we've now got an upgrade package focused on Brazil and will be looking to see whether we can pull any of those improvements forwards."

"There will still be little bits and pieces brought to the car for the two Asian races [Japan and China] but the package of upgrades won't be as big as the one we brought to Singapore," he added.

10/01/08
automotive
Toyota, Nissan Lead Drop as Japan Sales Fall to 34-Year Low  Japan's fiscal first-half auto sales slumped to the lowest in 34 years as rising unemployment and decade-high inflation sapped demand for new vehicles.

Sales in the six months through September fell 2.9 percent to 1.54 million vehicles, the lowest since 1974, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said in a statement today. The total excludes minicars. Sales of cars, trucks and buses in September fell 5.3 percent to 310,992 from a year earlier.

Nissan Motor Co.'s sales dropped 5.3 percent in the six- month period as rising food and gasoline prices left consumers with less money for large purchases. The drop in domestic demand comes as Japan's largest manufacturers turned pessimistic about their prospects for the first time in five years as the deepening U.S. financial crisis stifled demand in the country's export markets.

``Current economic conditions are getting worse, which doesn't help car sales,'' said Yasuhiro Matsumoto, a credit analyst at Shinsei Securities Co. in Tokyo. ``Carmakers are coming out with new minicars, the only models that seem to sell.'' More at Bloomberg

10/01/08
nassprint
Kenny Wallace in the #00 at Talladega  Michael Waltrip Racing announced that Kenny Wallace will attempt to qualify the #00 Champion Mortgage Toyota at Talladega Superspeedway for the Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy 500 on Sunday. Michael Waltrip Racing made the decision to make a driver change starting this weekend. The team is regrouping after failing to qualify last weekend at Kansas Speedway.

The status for the remaining six races this year is being determined. Michael McDowell, who has five top-25 finishes in 20 starts during his rookie season, is still an option. Each event will be determined by who may be able to best help the #00 Champion Mortgage Toyota team reach their goal of finishing the season in the top 35 owner points standings. "We have a singular focus with the #00 team now and that is to get it in the top 35 in owner’s points when the checkered flag falls at Homestead-Miami," Waltrip said. "This is not about an individual, it is about an organization. Kenny has a lot of experience restrictor plate racing and a lot of friends who trust him, which is critical at that race. He has a great record at Talladega and we felt like he was our best shot at scoring maximum points. More ...

10/01/08
automotive
GM stops internal common stock sales  General Motors Corp. has temporarily suspended the sale of its common stock to employees in two internal stock purchase plans because of "recent unexpectedly high demand" for the stock at its historically low price.

The trading blackout on sales of shares through GM's savings-stock purchase plan and personal savings plan began unexpectedly Tuesday because the plans have issued all of the shares of stock they had been allotted at the beginning of the year.

"The demand significantly exceeded the usual volume and exhausted the supply of registered stock more quickly than the administrators of the plans foresaw," GM said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Because of this, GM was not able to provide advance notice of the suspension of purchases of common stock under the plans or of the trading blackout."

09/30/08
atlantic
Three-Way Battle for Atlantic Championship  
Can American Jonathan Bomarito wrap up the crown on Friday?
Imagine a championship game that has three teams fighting for one title. While that is impossible in stick-and-ball sports, that is exactly the scenario in front of drivers Jonathan Bomarito, Jonathan Summerton and Markus Niemela—as well as their teams—as the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda concludes a dramatic, 35th Anniversary season on Friday afternoon at Road Atlanta in support of the Petit Le Mans Powered by the Totally New Mazda 6.

By virtue of his eight-point lead in the championship standings over Summerton (224-216) and his series-leading three victories on the 2008 Atlantic season, Bomarito and his Mathiasen Motorsports team must be considered the favorites heading into the weekend. The series veteran from Monterey, Calif. has finished inside the top 10 in nine of his 10 starts this season in the No. 26 Del Taco/Stone Brewing/Discount Tire/RLM Investments machine, including victories in the first race of doubleheaders at both Edmonton and Road America and at Trois-Rivières in mid-August, which vaulted him into a 28-point lead over Summerton with three races remaining. More ...

09/30/08
speedcar
Villeneuve demoted to Speedcar  
Fired from F1 for being too slow, Villeneuve is finding his star doesn't shine bright anywhere now
After turning his nose up to Champ Car and IndyCar because he thought he was too good, and then trying his hand at NASCAR and failing miserably, 1997 Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve has made a move that will see him back amongst his retired out-to-pasture racing colleagues after signing on to race in the 2008/9 Speedcar series.

Although the official calendar for the second season has not yet been confirmed, Jean Alesi has revealed that they will once again be racing as part of the support races at the 2009 Bahrain and Malaysian Grand Prix and the Frenchman is thrilled that Villeneuve will be lining up on the Speedcar grid.

“Johnny Herbert will be back to defend his title of course and we are pleased to add Jacques Villeneuve to our shores for the entire season,” Alesi said. “I am really thrilled to have Jacques join us. I raced against him in F1 and he is certainly the kind of driver we need to make a great spectacle for the fans and win races in Speedcar.”

The series will kick off in Dubai on the fifth of December.

09/30/08
automotive
GM to cut contractors  General Motors Corp. says it has notified several employment agencies that it intends to cut contract jobs as it continues to shrink its work force to match lower U.S. sales.

GM spokesman Dan Flores wouldn’t say how many contract workers would be cut. He says the cuts began in March and will be made across GM’s U.S. facilities.

The cuts come as part of GM’s plan to reduce its U.S. white-collar costs by more than 20%. The company had about 32,000 salaried workers in the U.S. at the end of last year.

GM has been cutting vehicle production as its sales have slumped. It plans to close four pickup and SUV plants and says it is working on further cuts at stamping and powertrain factories.

We are seeing Chevrolet dealers that have been around since the 1950s shutting down.  Things are bad but given the plethora of gas guzzling trucks these dealers had in inventory, their destiny was set.

09/30/08
f1
Red Bull throws Coulthard a bone  
Red Bull throws Coulthard a bone to keep him in the fold
David Coulthard has confirmed that he will still be a travelling member of Red Bull Racing next year.

After a 15 year career spanning 13 grand prix victories, the 37-year-old Scot is stepping down as a team racer at the end of 2008.

But he is staying on as a consultant and part-time test driver, and told reporters in Singapore on Thursday: "I am enjoying being here as I will enjoy being in Melbourne next year, but in a different capacity.

"It is the natural journey of life," Coulthard said, insisting that he is happy to be moving on to his next challenge.

He will be replaced in 2009 by Sebastian Vettel, who at Monza two weeks ago upstaged Red Bull's main team by winning for the junior squad Toro Rosso.

Coulthard and teammate Mark Webber, however, said in Singapore that they are not embarrassed that a 21-year-old driving for a less-funded team is carrying the torch for Red Bull. More ...

09/30/08
track news
Alan Wilson Steps Down from Miller Motorsports Park  
Alan Wilson (L) and Nigel Mansell
Alan Wilson, the man who designed Miller Motorsports Park and stayed on to become its first CEO and General Manager, has announced that he is stepping down from his post, effective immediately.

Wilson, 62, who is widely regarded as one of the world's premier racetrack designers and a very respected individual in national and international motorsports, will now devote his time and attention to a new racetrack-building company, Wilson Sahara Motorsports, established between himself and Sahara Inc., the builders of Miller Motorsports Park.

“My initial understanding with Larry Miller was that I would be here for three years and I intended to leave at the end of 2007,” Wilson said, “but I stayed an additional year to help get the HANNspree Superbike World Championship event established. I’ve really enjoyed my time at Miller Motorsports Park, but I’m very excited about some of the projects that I have on the horizon and the prospects for Wilson Sahara Motorsports.” More ...

09/30/08
irl
'500' veterans help Firestone Racing develop tires at Indy  Indianapolis 500 winners Scott Dixon, Buddy Rice and Dan Wheldon, and fellow "500" veterans Ryan Briscoe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan turned laps during a two-day Firestone Racing test Sept. 29-30 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In the first IndyCar Series testing at IMS since the 92nd Indianapolis 500 on May 25, teams and drivers helped Firestone find the right balance between speed and grip in the Firehawk tires in preparation for the 93rd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 24, 2009.

"The priority is for Firestone and trying to find a new tire for the Indy 500 in 2009," Briscoe said. "We're looking for consistency from the tire and for performance. Also, it's a great chance for us to be running here and just getting a few miles. You can never run too much around this place." More ...

09/30/08
irl
Start time for Watkins Glen race moved up  Officials at Watkins Glen International announced today that the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen, July 5, 2009 will be broadcast live on ABC.  The race is also scheduled to start at 1:00 PM, approximately 2.5 hours sooner than the 2007 and 2008 races.  The start time has been moved in support of the feedback that the track received directly from race fans.

“We are very pleased that we were able to work with the IndyCar Series and ABC to establish a green flag time that our fans requested.” said Craig Rust, president of Watkins Glen International.  “Having our race remain on ABC showcases the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen to the entire nation, and allows us to continue to expose new fans to the excitement that takes place at Watkins Glen International during the 4th of July holiday weekend.”       

The 2009 IndyCar Series schedule will feature a total of 18 races with five being broadcast on ABC and the other 13 being broadcast on the cable network VERSUS.    The 93rd Indianapolis 500, The Milwaukee Mile, Iowa Speedway, and Toronto will join the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen on ABC.     

09/30/08
nassprint
Menard rejects DEI for Yates Racing  Paul Menard will leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. and drive for Yates Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series beginning in 2009.

Menard carries the sponsorship of his family-owned Menards home improvement store chain over from DEI to Yates, which could field three teams next year.

Yates already has drivers Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland but has pieced together sponsorship for those cars throughout the year and still needs to solidify sponsorship for them next year. The Yates teams are affiliated with Roush Fenway Racing, which helps with marketing and sponsorship.

“This is a great opportunity, and I’m glad to be joining the Yates Racing organization next season,” said Menard in a news release issued by his publicists. “I think a lot of what Doug Yates and Max Jones are doing over there building for continued success. I’m excited to be a part of their future and excited to work with Travis and David.

“You look at what Doug and the Ford Motor Co.  have done in this sport, they’ve created a lot of horsepower and hoisted quite a few trophies over the years. I’d like to help continue that for both of them.” More ...

09/30/08
f1
Ferrari retains entire F1 driver team  (GMM)  Ferrari's entire team of formula one drivers is staying together for 2009.

Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa will head the challenge in the race cockpits, while Spaniard Marc Gene announced at the weekend that he has extended his test driving deal for another year.

Subsequently, a Ferrari spokesman confirmed that primary test driver Luca Badoer is also staying put.

And the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell said occasional contributors Andrea Bertolini and Michael Schumacher will also feature on the test tracks in 2009.

09/30/08
f1
Ferrari title not over yet - Gene  (GMM)  Despite suffering a serious setback in Singapore, Felipe Massa's title charge is not over yet, Ferrari test driver Marc Gene insists.

The Spaniard, whose contract along with test colleague Luca Badoer's has been renewed for 2009, wrote in his column for the newspaper El Mundo that F1's first night race "dealt a severe blow" to the Scuderia's hopes.

But even though McLaren is boasting about its prospects should adverse weather strike at any of the last three races, Gene insists that Ferrari's F2008 is a championship-winning car.

"We cannot afford any more setbacks, but Felipe is only 7 points behind," the 34-year-old said.

"We are not the favorites but it is not over yet," Gene continued.

"There will be a great equality between the Ferrari and McLaren in Japan and China," he insisted.  "And in Brazil I think we will be superior."

09/30/08
f1
No more updates for 2008 Renault  (GMM)  Renault's Singapore grand prix-winning R28 car received its final update ahead of the F1 night race.

Among the last developments for the 2008 single seater, driven by Singapore winner Fernando Alonso and his teammate Nelson Piquet, was a new front wing.

Team engineering chief Pat Symonds explained that, in previous years, wind tunnel developments for the following season's car could often be applied to the existing racer.

"But it's not the case this year because the aerodynamics for next season are so different," he said, referring to the sweeping rules changes for 2009.

"So this really is the end of the updates, other than any changes that may be made for reliability," Symonds added.

The story is different for the title contenders, however, with McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh admitting that an update is scheduled for the season finale.

"We will be looking to see whether we can pull any of those improvements forwards," he said.

"There will still be little bits and pieces brought to the car for the two Asian races but the package of upgrades won't be as big as the one we brought to Singapore."

09/30/08
f1
Teams propose $1m Friday 'show race'  (GMM)  Among the new FOTA alliance's possible proposals for the future of formula one is a Friday "show race" for prize money, it has emerged.

The German portal motorsport-total.com reports that the idea, offering not points but $1m to the winner, is one of the F1 team association's plans to spice up the show.

Ever since Friday qualifying was scrapped in the mid-90s, Friday has staged only F1 free practice, and crowd numbers and media interest is often low.

It is suggested that at the most recent FOTA meeting in Singapore, chaired in Luca di Montezemolo's absence by McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh, the idea of a 45-minute Friday show race was discussed.

"It would be a good start to the weekend, give the press something to write about, and be completely separate to Sunday's race," Whitmarsh is quoted as saying.

Another apparent proposal is to scrap Friday's action altogether.

More discussions are slated to take place at Fuji or Shanghai.

09/30/08
f1
Hamilton hoped for title patriotism  (GMM)  Lewis Hamilton hoped patriotism would help him stretch out even more of a championship lead in Sunday's Singapore grand prix.

The McLaren driver finished third in F1's first ever night race, extending his lead over title rival Felipe Massa to a solid 7 points.

But Hamilton, 23, rued getting "stuck behind" his British compatriot David Coulthard, a Scot who drives for Red Bull.

"I hoped my fellow Brit might help me out, but he was in the points and wanted a good result," he told The Times.

Coulthard, 37, finished the race seventh.

09/30/08
nassprint
Knaus named Wypall crew chief of the Kansas race  Chad Knaus, crew chief of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson, has been named the Wypall Wipers crew chief of the race after Sunday’s victory in the Camping World RV 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Johnson started on the pole and led a total of 124 laps. He also was able to fend off a final-lap pass by Carl Edwards to pick up his fifth victory of the season.

The 2008 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge is a season-long contest to determine the best crew chiefs in the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage. The honor doesn't necessarily go to the crew chief who goes to victory lane but to the one deemed by a panel to have made the biggest difference for his team.

09/30/08
f1
Williams F1 team bleeding red ink  Williams made a loss of 21.4 million pounds in 2007 compared to a deficit of 27.7 million pounds the previous year, according to accounts filed by the Formula One team on Tuesday.  Winners of 113 grands prix and nine constructors' championships since 1979, Williams are the only team in the sport not to be owned either wholly or in part by a car manufacturer or billionaire.

The 2007 and 2006 figures compare against a registered profit of 36 million pounds in 2005.

However that figure was inflated by deferred taxation and a one-off compensation payment for releasing British driver Jenson Button to Honda.

Williams chief executive Adam Parr told Reuters the 2005 and 2006 figures needed to be taken together to show a more normal break-even over the period.

"Given the greater resources of our competitors we aim to maximize revenues and then match our budget to that number. Right now we cannot afford to make a profit any more than a loss," he said.  More ...

09/30/08
nassprint
Skinner and Speed to replace axed Allmendinger  
Scott Speed
Red Bull Racing Team announced Mike Skinner and Red Bull development driver Scott Speed to replace AJ Allmendinger in the #84 for the rest of the 2008 Sprint Cup Series season. The #84 currently sits 33rd in owners’ points. "The schedule we put together is in the best interest of both Red Bull Racing Team and AJ's plans for the future,” said RBRT Vice President and General Manager Jay Frye. Allowing Mike Skinner and Scott Speed to share the #84 for the balance of the season helps our team continue developing our program for the future.”

Mike Skinner, who drove the #84 Red Bull Toyota for five races earlier in the 2008 season, will take the reins of the #84 at the NSCS races in both Talladega and Charlotte. Red Bull development driver Scott Speed will drive the #82 Red Bull Toyota at Charlotte on October 11 – the same weekend he attempts to clinch the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship in Toledo. Speed will then take over driving duties of the #84 at Martinsville, Atlanta, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead. RBRT PR

09/30/08
f1
Rivals disagree over Singapore success  (GMM)  Sunday's first ever F1 night race beat the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony to become Singapore's most watched television spectacle, it has emerged.

Local reports say an average of 789,000 locals were tuned into Singapore's Channel 5 as Fernando Alonso took the checkered flag, compared with the 765,000 for the Olympics last month.

"In terms of ambience, facility and backdrop it was just fantastic," McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh heralded on Tuesday.

But the British team's championship rival, Ferrari, does not agree.  The Italian marque's president Luca di Montezemolo slammed the event as a "circus" track at which only the appearance of the safety car lottery could spice up.

"All this is humiliating for F1 and it is an aspect I want to talk about with the other teams in the next few weeks," Montezemolo, the chairman of the formula one teams' alliance FOTA, told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

After weeks of speculation, he also confirmed that world champion Kimi Raikkonen will take a supportive role to Felipe Massa's title charge at the final three races of 2008.

"I expect Raikkonen to show he is world champion in the remaining races, to help Massa, to race for the good of the team and to finish in front of the McLarens," Montezemolo said.

09/30/08
AMA
Q&A with DMG's Roger Edmondson  This is a transcript of the press conference held last Thursday by DMG's Roger Edmondson at Laguna Seca Raceway:

Roger Edmondson
I appreciate you all being here. I certainly didn't expect to see quite so many folks. We're here to announce our schedule for 2009. The folks from the racetrack are handing them out, so all the detail is there. So I'm just going to go over things in general and tell you that we're very pleased that every single promoter of an AMA road race in 2008 has renewed their contract with us for 2009, and we're also hopeful to add two additional facilities - two new facilities - pending a visit and evaluation by the rider safety committee. In the next few days, and now that the schedule's in place, we will start to fill in the pieces, and start announcing the hiring of personnel, the addition of staff, some of the details that you're looking for, including the final class structure. We've been working with the manufacturers over the last few days. I know that's what you all want to talk about this morning. But I'm not going to talk about this morning, because that's in a very sensitive stage, and I have agreed with them that we would handle this in a mature and adult way, and that means that both sides - assuming there are still sides; I like to believe we're all coming together - but I think it's important that we not put any pressure on any of the parties, from the manufacturer group or from my group right now, to take a position. We all have the same goal, and that's a unified series that will be as strong as possible in the United States. So, with that in mind, that said, any questions?

Q Do all of the tracks have signed contracts?

A No. Typically we would not announce a schedule that did not have signed contracts, because that's been our policy at Grand-Am, and luckily over the years we've never had a cancellation. But in this case, we have letters of intent, and I have given these promoters multiple opportunities to back out, knowing that we were going to make this announcement today, and having a long-standing relationship with virtually every one of them, I'm quite comfortable that we have a schedule that we're going to keep. We expect to be at all those places. More ...

09/30/08
irl
Stars flock to Paul Newman tribute  Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks will be among the A-list stars who will pay tribute to movie legend Paul Newman at a benefit gala for the late actor's California kids camp The Painted Turtle.

Sean Penn, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Willis, Danny Devito, Warren Beatty, Annette Bening and Billy Crystal will also take the stage at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, California on October 27.

The stars will perform a stage reading of The World of Nick Adams, an adaptation of a number of Ernest Hemingway's autobiographical stories, written by Newman's longtime pal A.E. Hotchner.

09/30/08
tv news
NHRA
John and Ashley Force on ESPN's E:60  The next edition of ESPN’s prime-time newsmagazine E:60 on Tuesday, September 30, at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm ET, will include a look at NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series stars John and Ashley Force.
09/30/08
automotive
Mercedes SLR 722 S Roadster  
McLaren ‘722 S’ SLR
Mercedes has confirmed that McLaren will build a special-edition ‘722 S’ version of the SLR roadster.

Deliveries will start in January, and only 150 versions will be built. Prices haven’t been confirmed, but it’s a fair bet that the 722 S will be sold at a substantial price premium to the standard £346,500 SLR Roadster.

Mercedes is also known to be working on a hardcore, ultra-low volume SLR Speedster as it prepares to bring its relationship with McLaren to a close.

Mercedes and McLaren are set to become road-car rivals as each launches the next generation of their ultra-fast offerings – we’ve already seen the gullwing-doored Mercedes SLC, and McLaren is known to be working on a new supercar.

The 722 S roadster gets reworked suspension compared to the basic SLR, with unique springs and dampers that lower ride height by 10mm. Power is provided by the SLR’s familiar supercharged 5.4-litre V8 in the same state of tune as the earlier 722 Coupe.

That means 650bhp and 605lb ft torque, with the roadster being good for a 3.7 second 0-62mph time and a claimed top speed of 208mph. Autocar

09/30/08
alms
Acura pads its talent lineup for Petit LeMans  Acura Motorsports will have one of the most prestigious driver lineups in American Le Mans Series history when the green flag drops Saturday, Oct. 4, at 11:15 a.m. (EDT) for the 11th annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

The list of talented drivers gives Acura a solid foundation in the manufacturer’s quest for its first ALMS engine, chassis, driver and team championships. With two races remaining in the 11-event series, Acura is in a tight battle with Porsche for the titles.

In Acura’s second season in ALMS racing, the car marque has been sensational in the second half of the 2008 ALMS tour with four LMP2 class wins in the last five races and two overall victories [Lime Rock and Detroit].  In addition, Acura drivers have totaled three overall pole positions in the last five events with the smaller-horsepower prototype machines. More ...

09/30/08
tv news
Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC  
The Chase is On: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Live from Talladega on ABC

NASCAR races at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway feature close competition, multiple-car drafting packs and the added tension of the “big one,” the multi-car crashes that often occur on the 2.66-mile track. NASCAR’s version of the playoffs continues this week with the fourth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as the series visits Talladega. ESPN on ABC’s high-definition telecast of Sunday’s AMP Energy 500 begins at 1 p.m. ET with NASCAR Countdown. ABC will have live coverage of all 10 races that make up the Chase.

Dr. Jerry Punch will be lead announcer, joined in the booth for analysis by 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Jarrett and two-time champion crew chief Andy Petree. Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake will be pit reporters with two-time champion crew chief Tim Brewer in the ESPN Tech Center.

The pre-race NASCAR Countdown show from the ESPN pit studio will be hosted by Allen Bestwick, with 1989 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Rusty Wallace and analyst Brad Daugherty. The studio team will interact with the booth during the telecast of the race.

The race will re-air Monday, Oct. 6, at 2:30 a.m. on ESPN2, and at noon on ESPN Classic. More ...

09/30/08
f1
Grand Prix a boom for Singapore's high-class escorts  Big spenders in Singapore for the city state's first ever Formula One Grand Prix last weekend boosted business for high-end social escort agencies by a fifth, a local paper reported Thursday.

"This is the best weekend this year," Prince Wong, owner of Singapore Escort Services, told The Straits Times newspaper.

Wong said he has received five bookings for the weekend -- including one for a local starlet at a fee of S$40,000 ($35,000) for six hours of work.  Wong, who said his clients are foreign bosses in the gas and banking industries, declined to reveal the identity of both client and escort.

The owner of The High Society Club agency expected business to be boosted by 75 per cent, while Singapore Model Escort is advertising on its website a 50 percent discounted "Singapore F1 GP Special offer," the Straits Times reported. More ...

09/30/08
f1
Formula 1 and the world economy  Amid all the fun and games of Singapore, FIA consultant Tony Purnell was doing the rounds talking to the Formula 1 team bosses about the current economic problems in the world and whether or not they will have an effect on the funding of the sport. There is no doubt that money will be harder to find but whether this will cause teams to fail remains to be seen. It probably means that there will be fewer buyers on the market, but most of the current teams seem committed to the sport - or at least say they are - for the mid-term at least. There have been few big new sponsors in the last 18 months but it will be interesting to see whether or not Honda can attract business with the environmental image it has adopted. If this works others will follow. What was noticeable in Singapore was the number of teams that had an abnormally high number of sponsorship acquisition staff on hand. And they were busy trying to convince their guests that F1 is a great place to invest.

"It would be foolish to think that the external environment doesn't affect our business," said Williams chief executive Adam Parr, "but I think what is important, as with any business, is to prepare and we are trying to do that, some perhaps harder than others. We need within FOTA (Formula One Teams' Association) to get on and identify ways to reduce our costs." More ...

09/30/08
f1
I was seeing red spots says Alonso  After winning his first grand prix in a year, a very hot and sweaty Fernando Alonso climbed onto the top step of the Singapore rostrum to listen to the Spanish national anthem and be handed his sparkling winner’s trophy.

However, there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm present, no whoops and jumps of joy, but this wasn’t because the former world champion wasn’t happy, instead it was due to utter exhaustion after the extremely demanding 300 kilometer race.

"I was tired on the podium. I wasn't feeling like doing many gestures because I was a little bit weak,” he told the Spanish press. “This race was very long. In Monaco we do 260 kilometers and here we did 300. The water system wasn't working as usually happens in the most demanding races. On the podium I was seeing red spots and couldn't even recognize people. There were direct lights aimed straight at your eyes, so it was hard to enjoy.”

09/30/08
f1
Nick Heidfeld's engine to be inspected by the FIA  The BMW P86/8 power unit in Nick Heidfeld's car is the next engine on the Formula One grid to be inspected by the FIA, this will be done prior to the Japanese Grand Prix. And this comes as no surprise, as the FIA is simply checking to make sure that all engine manufacturers comply to the current powertrain freeze under the current sporting regulations. Other engines which have been previously inspected have been from Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari.
09/30/08
racing news
Father of former Indy 500 winner Danny Sullivan dies  The father of 1985 Indy 500 winner Danny Sullivan, Dan Sullivan Jr., died Sept. 24 in Louisville, Ky. He was 84.

Sullivan ran a Louisville construction business, Sullivan & Cozart, and was still active with the company even in semiretirement.  He attended the University of North Carolina and Babson College. He was an Army Air Corp veteran of World War II and a member of Louisville Country Club & BBS Club. He was preceded in death by his wife of 57 years, the former Peggy Mullin Sullivan.

Sullivan was a former football player and outdoorsman. Danny Sullivan, whose given name is Daniel Sullivan III, said his father didn’t like his racing pursuits initially, but came around and was very supportive of his career.

“He was obviously a big race fan and came to all the races,” Danny Sullivan said.

Sullivan, famous for overcoming a 360-degree spin to come back and beat Mario Andretti at Indy in 1985, is now principal of TForce Motorsports, a Baja team, and occasionally gets behind the wheel himself.

In addition to Danny, Sullivan is survived by children Susan, Tracy and Tommy.

09/30/08
irl
David Letterman Tribute to PLN  On his website David Letterman has a wonderful video paying tribute to Paul Newman that was the opening segment of the Late Show with David Letterman on Monday night.  A must see.
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