Tracy to drive truck in TexasUPDATE The month of May found Paul Tracy betraying his open-wheel star status and testing a Toyota Tundra truck for Germain Racing, the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champions. Tracy did more than test; he impressed, which led to him being tabbed to pilot the #9 Germain Racing Toyota Tundra with sponsorship from Bombardier Learjet and Sport Clips.
Initially scheduled to compete in Las Vegas, the date was moved to accommodate Sport Clips, which is a Texas-based company and a former sponsor of Tracy. A native of Toronto, Tracy’s hood will be adorned by Canadian-based Bombardier Learjet.
Tracy, who made his stock car debut in NASCAR’s #2 series in a Sport Clips car in 2006, will return to the oval-track for the Chevy Silverado 350K NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on October 31st at Texas Motor Speedway. This will be Tracy’s first foray into the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, however the 2003 Champ Car Champion is nothing if not versatile. In just the last two years, Tracy has raced open-wheel cars, Grand-Am cars, NASCAR, and off-road trucks.
Often referred to as one of the most colorful, recognized racers in the world, Tracy has been spending his free time consumed with a rigorous training program that has not only kept his body in top physical condition, but has also kept his mind and reflexes sharp. Tracy recorded a record 31 wins in the Champ Car World Series, but since his departure from Forsythe Racing his passion and enthusiasm have intensified. He exhibits a sense of discipline that is beyond what anyone can comprehend.
A pure racer and competitor, Tracy is looking forward to teaming with Germain Racing driver Todd Bodine for a one/two finish in Texas.
First Trucks, Ford also axes Nationwide Series Ford Motor Co. announced today that it has completed a multiyear agreement to continue its partnership with Roush Fenway Racing, but officials say the company has had to decrease its overall NASCAR marketing budget because of current economic conditions.
“It was something we obviously had a small amount of anxiety over with the challenge that the car companies are having and the broader economy,” said team co-owner Jack Roush, who indicated the agreement was a three-year deal with additional options.
“To look at the affiliation that we’ve had with NASCAR and the partnership we’ve had with Ford for really the better part of 40 years in racing – longer than that in business – there was some anxiety on my part to see if the challenge would be met.”
Ford also announced the company will continue its support of Yates Racing and Wood Brothers Racing in the Cup series in 2009 and continue to support its Nationwide and Craftsman Truck series teams with contingency programs and engineering assistance.
But it will discontinue giving money to teams running Fords in the Nationwide and Truck series.
“Our prime goal was really to protect our performance in Cup racing, and with that, we have cut back our support for the supporting series,” said Brian Wolfe, director of Ford Racing Technology. “We have not pulled out of those series.”
Wolf said the total Ford Racing budget is less than last year as part of a decrease in marketing funds overall for the company.
“The total support next year is reduced from what it was this year,” Wolfe said. “Some of it has been deflected to Cup and some of it is part of our overall reductions to meet our budgets.
Daytona teams with Speed on ticket packages The Daytona 500 is nearly four months away, but new ticket packages and promotions are emerging to counter the effects of the economy and sagging attendance across NASCAR tracks.
Daytona International Speedway is expected to offer two new ticket programs using Speed television personalities Kenny Wallace, a current NASCAR driver, and Jimmy Spencer, a former driver according to Michael Smith with SportsBusiness Journal.
A $105 single-day package for the Daytona 500 includes a grandstand seat on the superstretch, a souvenir gift, an appearance by either Wallace or Spencer, an autographed commemorative ticket and a view of Speed’s “RaceDay” on a nearby big-screen video board. The ticket by itself would cost $99. The $159 two-day ticket includes the same value adds plus a ticket to the Nationwide Series Camping World 300. The two-day ticket normally would cost $150.
Additionally, Daytona will offer all-you-can-eat packages for the races leading up to the Daytona 500, but not for the 500 itself, and fans will be able to rent Sprint Fan View devices for $50, a reduction of $20 off the normal price.
IndyCar Series rookie E.J. Viso has been nominated for the Autosport Rookie of the Year award, which will be determined by fan voting at www.autosport.com.
Viso, who had never competed on an oval before, recorded five top-10 finishes in 2008, including an eighth at Milwaukee and 10th at Richmond. He finished a season-best fourth on the Streets of St. Petersburg.
“At Homestead, everything was so new,” Viso said. “By the time we got to Chicagoland for the final race, I was challenging the leaders for the win before a punctured tire ended our day. The ovals are a lot of fun, and as a team we made a lot of progress this season.
“It’s a privilege to be in this category. I really had so much fun this year. I love the series and I want to stay here. My next target is to win the championship.”
Tony George `feels the love' in Surfers, but will it be enough?
Will Tony George turn his back on the long history of IndyCars at Surfers Paradise?
IndyCar boss Tony George has been on the Gold Coast for just a day but he already knows how much Indy means to the city.
At the Premier's official Indy launch last night, Mr. George graciously accepted a souvenir edition of The Gold Coast Bulletin featuring a stylized picture of himself on a specially prepared wrap-around cover.
Asked if he could 'feel the love', Mr. George replied, 'absolutely'.
"Wow, at least you guys get the picture right which is more than they do at home," he said.
IndyCar's head honcho appeared taken with the souvenir edition and even posed for photographs alongside Premier Anna Bligh and Sports Minister Judy Spence with it.
However, Mr. George said he was still uncertain as to when he would meet local Indy representatives to negotiate dates for the Gold Coast's 2009 Indy event.
"I haven't been informed of anything yet," he said. "Plus the rest of the team that has been involved in most of the negotiations is still in a plane on the way here."
Ms Bligh joined The Bulletin in wishing Mr. George 'a very, very special welcome' to the Coast and implored the crowd to make their feelings about Indy known to him.
"Can I ask everyone in the room to make themselves known to Tony George to show him just how much Indy means to the GC -- without monstering him too much," she said.
Ms Bligh said while there was still some uncertainty surrounding the future of Indy on the Gold Coast, the State Government was entering negotiations positively.
Drivers laud Surfers amid push to win over bosses The Nikon Indy 300 has already won the hearts of the drivers, now it must win the minds of the Indy Racing League powerbrokers, according to former Surfers Paradise race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.
The 28-year-old Texan finished eighth this year in the IRL and is hopeful the Gold Coast race will be on the calendar for his championship surge next year.
"This place is the template for all street circuits," he said.
"The way that the event takes place is top notch. But the bottom line for (IRL boss) Tony George and the Indy Racing League is business.
"It has to make business sense. In the drivers' hearts I am sure it is number one. It sure is for me. Indy 500 is of course the ultimate, but when it comes to street racing Indy 300 is the best.
"All the drivers want to come back and the series I am sure wants to come back. It just has to make business sense and I am sure they will work that out."
NASCAR suspends another cheater NASCAR has issued penalties, suspensions and fines to the No. 83 team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as a result of rules infractions found during a Martinsville post-race inspection. The car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used do not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-2.1-D (exterior sheet metal body parts did not meet the specified minimum thickness) of the 2008 NASCAR rule book. As a result, crew chief Kevin Hamlin and the car chief Craig Smokstad have been suspended indefinitely from NASCAR. Additionally, Hamlin has been fined $100,000. Driver Brian Vickers and owner Dietrich Mateschitz have been penalized with the loss of 150 driver and 150 owner points, respectively. NASCAR PR
Jay Frye, General Manager & VP, Red Bull Racing Team, in response to the No. 83's Post-Race Infractions: "As a team we accept full responsibility for the infractions regarding the No. 83's Martinsville car and will not appeal NASCAR's ruling. This approach to racing is against the values of the Red Bull Racing Team, and the necessary steps will be taken to rectify the situation ensuring it does not happen again. It is a privilege to race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and we are taking this penalty seriously. R&D Manager Randy Cox will assume the duties of interim Crew Chief on the No. 83 in Atlanta." Toyota Red Bull PR
Mosley's letter to the FOTA The letter from Max Mosley to the Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA) is as follows:
Costs The FIA believes that Formula One costs are unsustainable. Even before current global financial problems, teams were spending far more than their incomes, insofar as these consist of sponsorship plus FOM money. As a result, the independent teams are now dependent on the goodwill of rich individuals, while the manufacturers’ teams depend on massive hand-outs from their parent companies.
There is now a real danger than in some cases these subsidies will cease. This could result in a reduction in the number of competitors, adding to the two team vacancies we already have and reducing the grid to an unacceptable level. The FIA’s view is that Formula One can only be healthy if a team can race competitively for a budget at or very close to what it gets from FOM.
We should like to hear the teams’ views on this together with comments on the FIA’s proposals (set out below) and other suggestions for the measures which will be necessary if major reductions in cost are to be achieved.
Luca di Montezemolo is hallucinating. Without a driver like Michael Schumacher Ferrari will never beat Lewis Hamilton and McLaren
(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo insists Ferrari is not having second thoughts about its formula one driver lineup.
After Renault's Fernando Alonso won the Singapore and Japanese grands prix against the odds, the Ferrari president was asked if he looked at Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa and wondered if they were the best selection for F1's most famous team.
"These types of thoughts we had four years ago, now we are very happy," di Montezemolo is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"We are working on the (2008) title with a different driver to our champion of last year," he explained, "and both of them are delivering to us the manufacturers' title.
"If there is one aspect with which we have no problems, it is our drivers," Montezemolo said. "When Raikkonen was having a difficult time in the second part of the season, Massa was in extraordinary form."
Montezemolo, and his FOTA deputy John Howett, met with FIA president Max Mosley in Geneva on Tuesday, where they agreed a raft of cost-cutting measures for F1.
"We have agreed to meet again after Brazil to discuss the chassis rules for 2010 onwards," he said. "And further cost cuts."
Feds probe leaking Ford tires Federal auto safety regulators have launched a probe into more than 1 million Ford Motor Co. cars and trucks over reports of tires leaking air because of bad valve stems made by a Chinese company.
Ford said that its look into the stems, used in a majority of its North American vehicles, uncovered a low rate of problems and no safety risks. But safety advocates said any threat of sudden loss of air to tires should be deemed serious enough for a recall.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had already launched a separate investigation in May into 23 million replacement valve stems manufactured by Shanghai Baolong Automotive Corp. in 2006. The agency has found 4,767 complaints related to those valve stems, including one fatal crash of a 1998 Ford Explorer after a tire failure.
IndyCar drivers keep busy in Surfers IndyCar Series drivers have been busy during the final day of preparations ahead of the Nikon Indy 300 which fires into action on the streets of Surfers Paradise in Queensland, Australia tomorrow.
EJ Viso and Mario Moraes with some of the Bartercard Miss Indy Finalists
While some drivers headed to the beach others tried their hand at driving at the V8 Off Road Buggy Experience before they all converged on the 4.47km street circuit for a track walk with their race engineers.
A selection of drivers joined with their Australian V8 Supercar counterparts and the Bartercard Miss Indy finalists in the traditional Beach Volleyball competition on the Surfers Paradise beach this morning.
Oriol Servia, who will fly the Team Australia flag alongside Queenslander Will Power for the KV Racing Technology team this weekend, was one of the keen participants in the activity.
“The Gold Coast Event is certainly a highlight on any IndyCar drivers schedule, I’ve been here on a number of occasions and every time it has been a huge amount of fun,” said Servia.
A selection of drivers joined with their Australian V8 Supercar counterparts and the Bartercard Miss Indy finalists in the traditional Beach Volleyball competition
IndyCar Series Media
“Once again today’s volleyball game was enjoyable but the serious stuff starts once we get on track.”
As the volleyball was being contested on the beach former winner of the Nikon Indy 300, Ryan Hunter-Reay, was joined by Vision Racing’s Ed Carpenter and AJ Foyt IV in an off road experience with a difference just North of the Gold Coast at the V8 Off Road Buggy facility.
The trio put the V8-powered machines through their paces before being joined by Hunter-Reay’s partner, Beccy Gordon – a regular competitor on the American Off Road scene – behind the wheel.
During the day Hunter-Reay and Gordon, the sister of NASCAR star and former IndyCar driver Robby Gordon, shared their experiences of competing in the famous Off Road event, the Baja 1000, with the Vision Racing pair and the staff at the complex.
Hunter-Reay thoroughly enjoyed the Off Road experience and after spending the past week relaxing on Hayman Island is keen to get behind the wheel of his ethanol-backed IndyCar on the Gold Coast.
Heavy fines expected for another cheating NASCAR team NASCAR is expected to levy what could be record-breaking fines on the #83 Team Red Bull Toyota outfit on Wednesday. After Brian Vickers finished 11th at the Tums QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway, the #83 Toyota was selected as the random car to be further inspected at the NASCAR Technical Center in Concord, N.C., where officials discovered the sheet metal on the #83 car did not meet the minimum thickness requirements. According to sources familiar with the situation, the sides of the car — the doors, fenders and quarter panels — were too thin. The NASCAR rulebook states in rule 20-2, 1D that teams must use a minimum of 24 gauge (0.025 inch thick) sheet steel for their car bodies. Also, the practice of "Acid dipping or chemical milling," which makes the sheet metal thinner, is strictly forbidden. One individual close to the situation said acid dipping would allow a fabricator to make the metal thinner. Once the steel is sanded and painted, it is nearly impossible for NASCAR to detect. FoxSports
Chinese Grand Prix Debrief - Q&A with Timo Glock What is your reaction to seventh place and another two points in Shanghai? It was a satisfying result because before the race it had been a difficult weekend and we had a lot of work to do in order to improve the set-up. I wasn't happy after qualifying but I pushed really hard in the race and we had a perfect strategy. To finish in the points when you start 12th with Formula 1 as competitive as it is at the moment is not easy so I am happy.
What challenges did you face earlier in the weekend? Starting from Friday we didn't really have a good balance in the car and I just didn't seem to get it quite right. At the previous races in Fuji and Singapore we were consistent in terms of a reasonable pace from Friday onwards, but not in China. It was a bit strange because the track should have suited us pretty well. In particular I found that I couldn't get the best out of the soft tires, which explains my qualifying position.
Did you get a strong start? It was not bad but Rubens Barrichello, who started behind me, got ahead in the confusion at the first corner. Jarno was hit by Sébastien Bourdais which meant that I made up two places there, but you don't want to be doing that at the expense of your teammate.
Massa tells Hamilton he thrives on pressure (GMM) Felipe Massa has issued a swift rejoinder to championship challenger Lewis Hamilton's claim that it will be the Brazilian feeling the brunt of the pressure when his home race at Interlagos crowns the 2008 title.
"The pressure from the fans only helps. It's always better to have it," the Ferrari driver said as he touched down from a flight in Sao Paulo, his native city and the scene of next Sunday's Brazilian grand prix.
Massa, 27, won the Interlagos race in 2006, and he was similarly strong last year.
"I've always liked racing at home," he explained. "You can absorb everything positive from the fans and that helps you do your best."
The Brazilian driver also replied to news that his British rival Hamilton consulted with celebrity magician Uri Geller, who claims to have physic powers, about how to go about sewing up the 2008 title.
"I met him and discussed the power of the mind," Geller, 61, is quoted as saying by the Daily Star newspaper.
Massa said: "It doesn't help with the driving, but if it makes you calmer, if it helps your preparation, then it's valid."
Massa admits his chances of beating Hamilton to the title next Sunday, with the McLaren driver needing only to finish fifth, are small.
"The important thing is to always keep up your hopes and do your best, which for me means to win the race.
"Perhaps it will not be enough, but it is the only thing I can control, so I intend to try to achieve it," Massa said.
Details emerge after FIA-FOTA Geneva meeting (GMM) Some details have emerged about what was agreed and discussed in Geneva on Tuesday during Max Mosley's meeting with FOTA officials.
After the FIA president met in Switzerland with the F1 teams' representatives Luca di Montezemolo and John Howett, a joint statement said "significant cost savings for 2009 and 2010" had been settled, but it was not revealed what those measures were.
Anonymous team figures, however, subsequently told media confidantes that one of the chief cost-cutting measures will be the extension of the one-engine per two weekends rule to three races in 2009.
Customer engine packages, meanwhile, will be made available by manufacturers to independent teams for no more than 10m euros per season.
The joint statement on Tuesday also indicated that FOTA would work "urgently on further proposals for 2010 and thereafter".
It is understood that these discussions, to begin taking place with meetings in Brazil next week, will involve expanding testing restrictions, and the future use of customer cars.
It is also believed that, in Geneva on Tuesday, Montezemolo and Howett made clear FOTA's desire for KERS technology to be standardized in 2010 -- which could lead to many teams opting against using their own systems next year.
On the KERS issue, FOTA and Mosley do not see eye-to-eye.
"The FIA intends to keep KERS as a performance differentiator in formula one and, indeed, increase its importance in 2011," Mosley had said before the meeting.
ALMS honors its champions The American Le Mans Series honored its drivers, teams, crews and manufacturers Sunday night at the season-ending banquet in Monterey, Calif,, site of Saturday's Monterey Sports Car Championships presented by Patr¢n. In addition to honoring its champions, the Series also awarded several special awards to deserving recipients.
Doug Fehan and David Brabham were the biggest winners in voting by American Le Mans Series fans. Brabham, Patr¢n Highcroft Racing's star driver, was named Most Popular Driver by both americanlemans.com users and viewers from MotorsTV in Europe. Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager, was the winner of the annual From the Fans award. It goes to the person or group who made the greatest contribution to the Series and sports car racing in the past year, as voted by fans at americanlemans.com.
Intersport Racing's Jon Field won the Founder's Cup as the top gentleman driver in the Series. Scott Sharp, Brabham's teammate, was named Rookie of the Year.
The Mechanic of the Year awards went to Joe Geldert of Autocon Motorsports in LMP1, Patr¢n Highcroft Racing's Joel Svenson in LMP2, Mike West of Corvette Racing in GT1, and Flying Lizard Motorsports' Rogerio Reis in GT2. IMSA's Pit Lane and Technical staff voted for the awards.
Economic minister won’t rule out bailout for F1 race If it makes cold economic sense for taxpayers to bail out the Grand Prix du Canada, the Quebec government is willing to help, Quebec Economic Development Minister Raymond Bachand said Tuesday.
On his way out the door to join Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay and former Conservative Minister Michael Fortier on a rescue mission to London, England, to meet Formula One guru Bernie Ecclestone, Bachand said he has been combing over the numbers associated with the event for a week now.
Refusing to show his cards on what amount he would be willing to pour in before the meeting, Bachand made it clear any government help has to make sense.
Wilson & Rahal Aim for 3rd Street Course Win of 08
Sebastien Bourdais in 2007
Each time Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) has competed on the streets of Surfers Paradise Queensland, Australia, they have had to consider the effect the outcome of the race would have on their season-ending standing or, as was the case in recent years, their fight for the title and run a semi-conservative strategy. The goal of their 18th appearance at this year’s Nikon Indy 300 will still be to win but since this event is a non-points, exhibition race the annual affair could produce even more surprises than usual for an event that has seen only one repeat winner – former NHLR driver Sebastien Bourdais -- in 17 years.
“There’s not a championship on the line this year going to Surfer’s Paradise but that doesn’t mean that the drivers don’t still want to win really bad,” said Justin Wilson, driver of the No. 02 McDonald’s race car and the most recent winner on a street course after having won in Detroit. “There certainly is no added pressure from a championship standpoint but it means so much to win at this track so it’s a very important race for the drivers. To have a win here on your resume means you’ve overcome a lot of odds.”
The seaside venue is the site of many fond memories for NHLR as Bourdais and the team clinched the last three of their eight titles and won three of the past four races here dating back to Bruno Junqueira’s win in 2004 and subsequent 1-2 finish with Bourdais who also earned dramatic title clinching wins in 2005 and 2007. Wilson is no stranger to these results as he was the team’s biggest challenger and went on to finish third in the season-ending standings to both NHR drivers in 2005 and second to Bourdais in 2006 and 2007 before being hired to replace the Frenchman who moved to Formula One. Wilson is the highest finisher from the 2007 to return this year and is hoping to continue the momentum of a win in the previous Indy car street race in Detroit.
McLaren upgrades could bury Ferrari in Brazil Lewis Hamilton raced to glory in China last weekend taking pole and fastest lap along the way. This result sees the young Brit seven points clear of title rival Felipe Massa with just one race remaining. However, Lewis will be using an engine on its second cycle, so the team will do everything in their power to make sure the car lasts the distance, including adding a few aero improvements….
Lewis reveled in the balance of his MP4-23 in Shanghai last weekend - were there any particular reasons why the car proved so competitive? The reality is that we strive to make MP4-23 well-balanced in every race, but sometimes we are able to achieve better results at certain tracks than at others. While both drivers and their engineers worked hard to bounce back as convincingly as possible from the disappointments of Fuji, the groundwork had already been done back at the McLaren Technology Centre and at Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines. The engineers were able to provide the race team with a very focused set of performance parameters around which they were able to refine the car for the racetrack with the minimum of difficulty. And that’s the approach we will take into Brazil next week: methodical and iterative analysis and evaluation of the data to eliminate the rogue variables that could distract from our core focus. It may not sound exciting, but it’s the number-crunching that ultimately allows you to win races.
Kimball hails new US team Charlie Kimball is in no doubts about how talented the people are behind the new US squad in A1GP this season, proclaiming them a force ‘to be reckoned with’ following their performance at Zandvoort.
Crack US single-seater team Andretti Green Racing was confirmed as the new force behind the USA entry just prior to the season-opener round at Zandvoort, having built and prepared the new A1GP Powered by Ferrari car in just a matter of days.
The team called up circuit ace Kimball to race for the team in Zandvoort, however it has since announced that it will use its star IndyCar drivers Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick for the rest of the season.
Kimball scored fastest lap in the Feature race shortly before spinning off into retirement, and believes the engineering team behind the operation are so skilled that Patrick and Andretti will be well placed to help the USA become a championship challenger this season.
V8s don't need IndyCars Locally-based V8 Supercar driver Russell Ingall says the Gold Coast motor racing event can survive without IndyCars.
Ingall, who was speaking at Main Beach at the unveiling of the surfboard trophies for the Gold Coast V8 round yesterday, believes the unique Ford versus Holden racing rivalry is enough to keep the crowds coming back should Indy Racing League bosses decide against bringing a race to Australia next year.
"I'm pretty biased because if it's just V8s that's just fine," he said.
"At the end of the day we are the last race on Sunday so that sort of puts us as a feature race really -- I think V8s can stand alone anywhere they go.
Jenkins, Goodyear, Beekhuis to call the action for Nikon Indy 300 Bob Jenkins, Scott Goodyear and Jon Beekhuis will call the action from Surfers Paradise, Australia for ESPN.
Jenkins, a veteran motorsports announcer who has anchored the Firestone Indy Lights broadcasts for the last two seasons, will call the play-by-play. He also did the play-by-play for the IndyCar Series race at Edmonton in July.
Goodyear, a former driver who has been part of the broadcast team for seven seasons, will provide the color analysis.
Beekhuis will report from the pits, which he also did from Edmonton.
The race will air live on ESPN Classic at 10:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 25 and will re-air on ESPN2 at 11 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 26.
Australia offers unique opportunities For the 24 IndyCar Series drivers competing in the Nikon Indy 300 Oct. 26 at Surfers Paradise, Australia, the race presents a unique opportunity. With no points at stake toward a championship, it’s a chance to end 2008 on a high note and get some early preparation in for the beginning of the 2009 season, which will open with street course races at St. Petersburg, Fla., and Long Beach, Calif.
Four drivers in particular are looking at the Nikon Indy 300 as an opportunity to acclimatize themselves to new teams. Dario Franchitti will make his first start with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Vitor Meira will debut with A.J. Foyt Racing, Dan Wheldon moves to Panther Racing and Alex Tagliani will attempt to solidify a spot with Conquest Racing after driving for the team in the final two events of 2008.
“There’s two things (we want to accomplish),” said Wheldon, the 2005 IndyCar Series champion who returns to Panther Racing after winning 15 races with Andretti Green Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing over the past six seasons. “It’s a good time for us to get a feel for one another under race conditions. When you test, that’s great, but it’s always a bit more laid back. I think it’s good to see how people perform under pressure. We’ll definitely utilize that time to get to know one another and hopefully for them to get a good feel for what I need on a road course and vice versa.
New 2.5-mile road course track gears up for spring opening The developers of a new motorsports facility for sports car and motorcycle enthusiasts have given it a new name as the project continues toward a "soft opening" in the spring.
Behind the change to Bluegrass Motorsports Park, which broke ground this year as Bluegrass Motorsports Club and Road Course, was a revision in the business model.
"We see just being able to do better things under that umbrella," said Brad Poppell, president of Bluegrass Motorsports Park. "I don't want people getting the impression it's just a private club for members only and they're not allowed to visit the track."
BMW work on F1.09 in full swing The 2008 Formula One season is drawing to a close, with the final Grand Prix in Brazil being held on 2nd November. BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen talks about the work awaiting the BMW Sauber F1 Team over the coming days and weeks.
Although Robert Kubica had to wave goodbye to his hopes of winning the Drivers' World Championship after the Chinese Grand Prix, the members of the team from Munich and Hinwil are certainly not twiddling their thumbs. Their main focus now lies on development work for next season's car.
According to Theissen, there will not be any new developments on the BMW Sauber F1.08 for the Sao Paulo race. "Developments is the wrong term," says the German. "Of course we will be taking certain aerodynamic alignments with us, which will look different in Brazil to those seen in Shanghai. We will once again be attempting to get as much out of the package as possible."
The development of the BMW Sauber F1.09, on the other hand, is in full swing. "I believe we are well on our way," says Theissen. "The design work is running to plan, and we are also on track to finish our aerodynamic development on schedule." The tests on the Kinetic Energy Recovery System KERS are also progressing nicely: "We have tested KERS in recent weeks. Not on the track, but on the straight in Miramas. That work is ongoing." Source BMW Sauber
Q&A with Martin Whitmarsh With Lewis Hamilton delivering a perfect drive in China last week-end - including pole position, fastest race lap and victory - the McLaren team is already looking forward to the final Grand Prix of the season in Brazil.
However, the Chinese GP performance was offset by a problem with the hydraulic system aboard Heikki Kovalainen's MP4-23, forcing the Finn to retire.
In the drivers' standings, Hamilton will be taking on Brazil's Interlagos circuit with a seven-point advantage. On the other hand, McLaren holds an 11-point deficit on Ferrari for the constructor’s crown.
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula 1 of the McLaren team, looks back at China and ahead to Brazil.
Lewis reveled in the balance of his MP4-23 in Shanghai last weekend - were there any particular reasons why the car proved so competitive?
"The reality is that we strive to make the MP4-23 well-balanced in every race, but sometimes we are able to achieve better results at certain tracks than at others. While both drivers and their engineers worked hard to bounce back as convincingly as possible from the disappointments of Fuji, the groundwork had already been done back at the McLaren Technology Centre and at Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines. The engineers were able to provide the race team with a very focused set of performance parameters around which they were able to refine the car for the racetrack with the minimum of difficulty."
"And that's the approach we will take into Brazil next week: methodical and iterative analysis and evaluation of the data to eliminate the rogue variables that could distract from our core focus. It may not sound exciting, but it's the number-crunching that ultimately allows you to win races."
Wilson Named Crew Chief for RCR's No. 33 Richard Childress Racing has named veteran NASCAR crew chief Shane Wilson to head up its No. 33 Cheerios®/Hamburger Helper® team for the 2009 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Wilson will call the shots for Clint Bowyer, who was announced in August as the driver for RCR’s fourth Cup Series team next year after completing this season with its No. 07 team.
“Shane brings a great deal of knowledge and success to the Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team, much of which he has earned since coming to RCR in 2006,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “He will be able to hit the ground running since he’s already familiar with and has been a part of the organization for the past three years. He and Clint have worked together a little bit and I’m confident they will complement each other in this new program.”
FIA, F1 teams agree 'cost savings'UPDATE (GMM) F1's governing body, and the alliance of the ten competing teams, on Tuesday agreed "significant cost savings for 2009 and 2010".
The parties, represented by Max Mosley for the FIA and Ferrari's Luca di Montezemolo and Toyota's John Howett for FOTA, met in Geneva.
"FOTA are working urgently on further proposals for 2010 and thereafter," an extremely brief joint statement added.
No further details were provided.
10/20/08 Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo traveled to Switzerland on Tuesday for talks with Max Mosley on the motorsport chief's cost-cutting proposals for Formula One.
Montezemolo, who represents the newly founded Formula One Teams Association, was accompanied by Toyota's John Howett.
Several F1 teams, including McLaren and BMW Sauber, said last weekend they oppose Mosley's idea for standardized engines and chassis parts as a means of reducing costs during the global economic crisis.
German magazine Auto Motor und Sport reported that the proposals caught teams by surprise, prompting them to cancel their participation in the Geneva meeting and send Montezemolo in their place to show a united front.
The Italian was expected to present Mosley with an alternative cost-cutting plan, which could include longer engine lives and a $6.7 million cap on the cost of engines supplied to smaller teams.
Mosley had described the sport's combined $1.6 billion spending in 2008 as "unsustainable," saying the teams were relying too heavily on the goodwill of rich individuals and corporate sponsors.
"There is now a real danger that, in some cases, these subsidies will cease," Mosley said in a statement Monday. "This could result in a reduction in the number of competitors, adding to the two team vacancies we already have and reducing the grid to an unacceptable level." .
IRL wants to stop revolving door of top talent Tony Stewart and Sam Hornish Jr. made the leap from Indy Racing League champion to NASCAR's Nextel Cup. It's something the IRL does not necessarily like to see, IRL commercial division president Terry Angstadt said Thursday, in one of the league's first meetings in conjunction with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The league has no control of where drivers go. Stewart has won two IRL crowns (1996 and '97) and NASCAR titles in '02 and '05. Hornish won the 2006 IRL crown and has struggled in his first full season of Nextel Cup this year. Dario Franchitti won the '07 IRL title, went to NASCAR, and has said he will be back with the IRL next season.
"I think most drivers will tell you they really like driving IndyCar," Angstadt said. "If you're going to make $8 million versus $2 (million), OK that's hard to challenge. If we consistently have guys making great income doing what they like to do, we'll keep more of them.
"You've got guys who have been racing three, four, five, six, seven years in some cases. Fans follow and recognize them and they're now names. We haven't had that in a long time."
It's imperative, Grand Prix CEO Jim Michaelian said, for the top names to participate.
"In the past, if you were buying a ticket to Long Beach, you weren't sure how many cars, how many drivers, who was going to be there, all that stuff," he said. "The value of continuity cannot be underestimated." SGV Tribune
Atlantics out at Long Beach The Atlantic series, which has been a staple at Long Beach for nearly all of its 34 previous years, is out, replaced by the IRL's Indy Lights development series.
"There was no doubt about it," Michaelian said. "It goes all the way back to Gilles Villeneuve and Kiki Rosberg. and they went off the Linden Leap. They were here a long time. They were a support series for the headliner. We have a new alliance, we have a new agreement and a new partner here. For us to not showcase their series would have sent the wrong message to the racing community."
The American Le Mans Series, Formula Drift and Toyota Celebrity races will all be back. The World Challenge also may return.
"It's the perfect mix," he said of the current alignment. SGV Tribune
Also Webber says Kubica deserved title (GMM) Another formula one driver says Robert Kubica, not either of the remaining contenders, deserves the 2008 championship.
The Pole's title campaign ended mathematically in China, when a weekend of struggling with the balance of his BMW-Sauber meant he could finish just sixth.
"He has not been in as good a car as either Felipe or Lewis yet he has produced a season without mistakes," his former teammate, 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, said last week.
Mark Webber, who drives for Red Bull, also believes 23-year-old Kubica has been the best driver of the season.
"He's probably been, at every single venue, the best and most consistent driver with the least errors," the Australian, who has been critical of Lewis Hamilton's driving of late, wrote in his column for the BBC.
He added: "But, out of Hamilton and Massa, I'd say Lewis deserves the championship."
But Webber, 31, believes Hamilton's character is the Briton's biggest obstacle.
"For motor sport enthusiasts in Australia, his abruptness and sureness doesn't come across brilliantly.
"They would probably like to see him a little bit more humble but, on the other side of the coin, Australians like winners as well, and he's been doing a lot of winning," Webber said.
GM bans unscheduled overtime General Motors Corp. has told local union officials at two factories that make its hotter-selling small and midsize cars that it will not allow any more unscheduled overtime, a move seen as a way to further cut costs.
GM is burning through about $1 billion in cash per month and has promised to raise $10 billion through cost cuts and another $5 billion through asset sales and borrowing as it tries to outlast a U.S. auto sales slump that could run into 2010.
Union officials at factories in Orion Township, Mich., which makes the Chevrolet Malibu and Pontiac G6 midsize cars, and Lordstown, Ohio, where GM makes the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5, each said they
The officials did not know if the ban affected just their plants or if it was companywide.
Auto racing deserves another chance in SavannahUPDATE #2 Below are some recent photos courtesy of Midweek Motorsport Report (found at www.radioleman.com) that give you some idea of what this track looks like from a drivers perspective. Safety could be an issue given the Armco.
Lots of fresh Armco in place, and some being installed. No grandstands, and no pit facilities at all. Some painted curbs. It looks like it will be a fast track, with no turns tighter than 90 degrees and a number of fast sweepers, and two fairly long straights. 10/20/08 This is the track that Green Prix USA wants to hold its first race.
1.965-mile 10 turn Savannah road course
An aerial view of the track on Hutchinson Island
View from the island back at downtown Savannah
Start of 1997 CART Indy Lights race
Mauricio Gugelmin drives his Hollywood Champ Car down pit lane in 1997
Turn 1 is a cross between an oval and a road course
Time to pop the clutch on auto racing again, Savannah. And this time, let's start in first gear and work our way through the box. (See related AutoRacing1.com article "Why Champ Car needs to look at Savannah" where in 2004 we proposed Champ Car take a look at this venue)
Racing returns to the taxpayer-funded road course at Hutchinson Island this fall with the Hilton Head-Savannah Historic Races. The two-day event is more a festival than a competition: Antique car collectors in driving goggles and white scarves will chase each other around the two-mile loop.
Helio Castroneves, the last driver to win a race on Hutchinson Island, won't be on hand to defend his turf. He won the 1997 Indy Lights Series Dixie Crystals Grand Prix, went on to twice win the Indianapolis 500 and is now one of the few open-wheel superstars left, at least in the Western Hemisphere.
Yet what they lack in star power the historic races make up for in promise.
Even with Castroneves thrilling 30,000 spectators with his win 11 years ago, racing stalled in its Savannah debut. The local organizing group, Colonial Motorsports, lost more than $3 million on the inaugural race, and didn't have the cash reserves to keep creditors from filing lawsuits.
Had Colonial been able to stage a second and third race - as its contract with the Indy Lights folks stipulated - the group likely could have paid its debts and staked its claim to a bigger event.
Colonial went bankrupt instead. Other marketing companies and other race series, including NASCAR, flirted with the track over the next few years.
None followed through, and the track became nothing more than parking space for the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, and a venue for illegal street racing, mostly among motorcyclists. The "Fast and the Furious" crowd forced Chatham County, which maintains the road, and the Georgia Ports Authority, which owns the land it sits on, to put up barriers and essentially close the road to the public.
The Hilton Head-Savannah Historic Races give the track a chance to start over.
The organizers pledge to fund the races privately. Those taxpayers, still sore over the $4 million in county funds used to construct the track 15 years ago, won't be asked to contribute another cent.
Race backers will pay the county to remove the barriers and make necessary repairs to the road.
And assuming the historic races are a success, Savannah could shift gears down the road. Many professional race teams pass through this area. They test at Bloomingdale's Roebling Road Raceway. Champ Car Atlantic teams owned by Eric Jensen and Gerald Forsythe are there this weekend.
Jensen openly talks about how he'd like to see Champ Car return to Hutchinson Island. Then known as CART, Champ Car was the parent organization of the Indy Lights Series.
He points to the island's development since the 1997 race - the Westin Hotel, the Savannah Harbor golf course and the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center have all opened since - as reasons an event now has a better chance to succeed financially than a decade ago.
Pull off an open-wheel event or two, and Savannah could even court the stock cars. NASCAR is reaching out globally, now staging two races beyond our borders with plans for more. But bringing in those markets means incorporating grand prix-style racing.
And that means the development circuits, from Hooters Pro Cup and ARCA to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, will need quality road-course venues.
The FIA believes that Formula One costs are unsustainable. Even before current global financial problems, teams were spending far more than their incomes, insofar as these consist of sponsorship plus FOM money. As a result, the independent teams are now dependent on the goodwill of rich individuals, while the manufacturers' teams depend on massive hand-outs from their parent companies.
There is now a real danger than in some cases these subsidies will cease. This could result in a reduction in the number of competitors, adding to the two team vacancies we already have and reducing the grid to an unacceptable level. The FIA's view is that Formula One can only be healthy if a team can race competitively for a budget at or very close to what it gets from FOM.
We should like to hear the teams' views on this together with comments on the FIA's proposals (set out below) and other suggestions for the measures which will be necessary if major reductions in cost are to be achieved.
2013 The FIA would like to see a modern high technology power train in 2013. We envisage a down-sized DI engine with exhaust energy and heat recovery, coupled to an electrically actuated gearbox.
However, we are completely open to new ideas. The only preconditions are:
(i) that the costs of development, maintenance and unit production for the power train must be an order of magnitude lower than is currently the case and (ii) power trains must be available to independent teams at minimal cost.
NASCAR refuses to listen NASCAR officials are saying they plan no significant changes to the current Sprint Cup cars next season, despite complaints from drivers and crews about ill-handling characteristics, which many say make it tough to pass. But drivers seem a bit taken aback by that stance. Jimmie Johnson, who struggled with this new car much of the season, particularly at the mid-sized tracks, says that NASCAR shouldn't be so quick to say no. "A lot of us have ideas for changes we'd like to see them put in," he said. "As the season has gone on, we've all gotten smarter and 'helped' the car. But there still are some things I feel should be looked at and considered." Johnson says he is "hopeful that something would change, definitely." Drivers are mindful of the chewing out they got in June from NASCAR president Mike Helton for their continued criticism of the new car. Nevertheless Johnson says that if NASCAR would make some changes the racing could be better. -- Winston-Salem Journal
(GMM) Alex Wurz has played down the use of team orders in formula one, as the latest controversy continues to simmer.
Kimi Raikkonen slowed to let his championship contending teammate Felipe Massa finish second in last Sunday's Chinese grand prix.
The move caused some to recall the FIA's ban, dating back to the furor of the Austrian grand prix six years ago, on team orders.
"It is a team sport; the drivers work for the team," Wurz, a grand prix veteran and now Honda test driver, told the Austrian broadcaster ORF.
"If you ask for my opinion, it is not a topic we need to discuss," he said.
Because of the rule, however, team orders is a delicate topic. Massa reacted awkwardly when questioned in Shanghai, labeling the moment at which he passed the sister Ferrari as the "good part of the race".
Interestingly, McLaren-Mercedes chiefs hinted they were not comfortable with their championship challengers' actions in China.
Chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said: "I think they have to take a view on what is right. That is all I can say on the matter."
Norbert Haug added: "I am with Mercedes-Benz, not with the FIA, so it's not for me to say."
In July of this year at Hockenheim, Heikki Kovalainen pulled over to let his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton past -- a moment then described as a "tremendous sporting gesture" by team boss Ron Dennis.
"You don't remember what happened in Germany between Kovalainen and Hamilton?" Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali pointed out when asked about his drivers' similar Shanghai swap.
(GMM) Ferrari and Felipe Massa's hopes of securing the 2008 drivers' title is basically now over, the Italian press mourned after the Chinese grand prix.
By finishing just second to Lewis Hamilton's dominant McLaren last Sunday, Massa's points deficit blew out to 7 points -- meaning the Briton only needs to finish fifth at the season finale to be champion, irrespective of what his Brazilian rival achieves.
"Massa's dream for the world championship now comes down to hoping for a mistake by McLaren," said the sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Corriere dello Sport remarked: "Ferrari took a step back in Shanghai, and Massa has every reason to feel unhappy.
"Only a miracle can save his title now."
Tuttosport also agrees that Massa's gloom after Shanghai was justified.
"Massa is not the kind of driver to write an unforgettable chapter in formula one history, but he is an intelligent guy. He knows that this was his biggest chance to realize his dream of the title," the Turin based sports newspaper said.
However, La Repubblica believes the majority of the pressure is now with Hamilton, particularly after he went into last year's season finale with an identical 7-point championship advantage.
"Hamilton and the ghosts of the past," the headline exclaimed. "He can now only lose the title."
Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali acknowledges that even if Massa is able to capitalize on a Hamilton mistake in Brazil, the F2008 needs to bounce back to top form.
"We cannot be fighting for the titles in Brazil if our car is less competitive and with such a big gap to McLaren," he said after China, where Hamilton was utterly dominant.
Mosley rejects standard KERS system for Formula One
Mosley proposes standard engines to reduce cost, but individual KERS to differentiate the teams. In this way F1 teams will put an emphasis on KERS and F1 can appear to be more "green." Mosley may be on to something, but can he convince the manufacturers?
Formula One teams will in future gain their competitive edge from new technology rather than expensive engines, FIA president Max Mosley said on Monday. The International Automobile Federation head, who will meet the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) in Geneva on Tuesday to discuss urgent cost-cutting measures, highlighted the importance of the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) as one such example.
"KERS will be essential on all road-going vehicles in the future, irrespective of their means of primary propulsion," said Mosley.
"The FIA therefore intends to keep KERS as a performance differentiator in Formula One and, indeed, increase its importance in 2011.
"This will give Formula One far more relevance and credibility than the use of vastly expensive racing engines or extremely light and sophisticated gearboxes, both of which are almost entirely irrelevant to modern road transport."
The governing body last week said it intended to change the rules to force the 10 teams to use a standardized engine from 2010 as part of measures to combat the effects of the global credit crunch.
Mosley made clear the FIA would resist a standard KERS system, which uses the heat generated by the car's brakes for additional power. The manufacturers are all working on their own systems for introduction next year when the rules undergo a major revamp.
"To standardize a new technology which is directly relevant to the biggest single problem confronting road transport -- energy efficiency -- while allowing continued development in wholly irrelevant areas such as Formula One aerodynamics, is not rational," said Mosley.
"Further thought would seem to be desirable."
"Technologies like KERS, as well as the recovery and re-use of exhaust energy and heat, should be the future performance differentiators in Formula One, not old or useless technologies such as ultra-high speed engines or Formula One-specific aerodynamics."
More bad news for NASCAR truck series On the heels of Ford's withdrawal from the NASCAR truck series (and Dodge before that) comes word that officials with SS-Green Light Racing say the team plans to field one full-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entry next season instead of the two it runs this year.
“Teams that are proactive in their decision-making process will be poised to be successful in changing times,” team president Ken Smith said in a news release. “We must be frugal in our spending and prove to our potential sponsors that we will be diligent in our attempt to provide conservative spending to capitalize their return on investment.”
Team USA wins FF Festival in EnglandUPDATE A UK reader writes, I think you are not telling the whole story with regards to Newgarden and Daly’s success at Brands Hatch. Team USA was taking part in the ‘Kent’ event which is not the main part of the FF Festival. The Duratec and Zetec classes are above the Kent class so in reality they competed in the 'C' class of the event. It was a terrific achievement nonetheless but you are overstating it a touch. Declan Brennan
10/19/08 Josef Newgarden made a little bit of history today as he became the first American driver ever to win the famed Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch. Past winners of the event, which dates back to 1972, include current Formula 1 stars Mark Webber and Jenson Button.
Team USA Scholarship teammate Conor Daly also played a starring role, rising from the back of the grid in his heat race to finish a sterling sixth in the 25-lap Final.
The two American teenagers confirmed they had every right to display optimism following what might best be described as a character-building time during their Heat races on Saturday.
During the first 15-lap Semi-Final race this morning, Newgarden made a superb start, vaulting from fourth on the grid to second on the opening lap, and followed that with an opportunistic pass for the lead on Lap 2. He then checked out, posting fastest race lap at 50.508 seconds (85.43mph) and finishing over four seconds clear of his nearest challenger – a country mile in the ultra-competitive world of Formula Ford.
Standard engine just one 'option' - FIA (GMM) F1's governing body has responded to reports it is trying to impose a standard engine formula for 2010 and beyond.
After the FIA announced it has put out to tender plans for a third party to supply an engine and transmission design, it was interpreted that the Paris body envisages this controversial route as the future of the sport.
But in documentation released to the media on Monday, the FIA made clear that the plans for 2010-2012 are only intended as a possible "interim" solution ahead of a totally new engine formula for 2013.
Moreover, the documents say that another "option" for F1's manufacturers is to supply powertrains to small teams "for less than 5 million euros per team per season".
Quotes of the WeekUPDATE "Lewis was in another league. He was driving fast, consistent, and we couldn't even think of attacking him. What we said in our pre-race briefing was to try and attack Lewis above all at the beginning of the race, but we couldn't do it because he was so fast." Stefano Domenicali, Director, Ferrari Formula 1 team, commenting on Lewis Hamilton's win at the Chinese Grand Prix
10/19/08 "All weekend we've had God on our side as always and the team have done a phenomenal job really. We came here and the car felt fantastic all weekend - I owe so much to the guys, not just at the track but at home. The car is really a dream to drive. It was a fantastic team effort so a big thanks to them. I just had to keep it under control, it wasn't tough at all. When you are at the front and you've got a gap and you can push a bit more. It is quite comforting, about keeping your head and keeping calm." Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 driver, McLaren Mercedes, winner of Chinese GP and contender for the 2008 World Drivers Champion
"He [Fernando Alonso] was a double world champion who came to the team and got beaten by a rookie. That says it all. When someone has been winning, then another driver comes in and takes over, then they are not going to be happy about it." Denying he has been drawn in to a round of mind games, Hamilton said "I don't believe in them. There is no need to, because we can do the job. It [his unpopularity among his fellow drivers] is because I'm winning. When you are a winner, when you are doing well, that is the game." Lewis Hamilton
"You should tell him [Lewis Hamilton] that he is a Formula One driver, not a Martian. He is not Muhammad Ali. He is a good driver but you see good drivers also taking results home. There are good (football) forwards who always hit the post or the bar and the ball never goes in. Then there are those that score and he hasn't scored yet. Hamilton has learnt nothing. We saw that in Japan." FlavioBriatore, Managing Director, Renault
"This is a great result for the team, less so for me. Today's race was a difficult one. We were not quick enough to fight against Hamilton. Losing two points does not mean that I have lost hope. I will continue to fight right to the very end and I can't wait to race in Interlagos in front of my home crowd. I will try my luck there - it will be the first time for a Brazilian - which will be a further incentive. The team is united and has faith. That is very important and nice too." Felipe Massa, Formula 1 driver, Ferrari, contender for the World Drivers Championship, commenting on his 2nd place finish in the Chinese GP
2009 British F3/GT Provisional Calendar The 2009 provisional calendar for the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series and the Avon Tires British GT Championship has been unveiled, with more international races for both championships.
For British F3 there will be an additional overseas event with a round at Hockenheim, which will join the established international trips to Monza (TBC), Spa and Bucharest. It has still to be decided whether British F3 will support the FIA GT Spa 24 Hours in July or travel to Belgium with British GT a week later.
British GT will also leave the UK for the first time since 2006 with an event at Spa in August and the championship will be returning to Knockhill in Scotland for a standalone event.
Brabham Voted Double Fans Most Popular ALMS Driver
Scott Sharp (L) and David Brabham (R) at the ALMS Awards Banquet
David Brabham scooped no fewer than two Most Popular Driver Awards at the American Le Mans Series Awards Banquet in Monterey, California, on Sunday 19 October following the final round of the season at Laguna Seca. The charismatic sports car veteran and double Le Mans 24 Hour GT1 class winner was confirmed as the fans favorite ALMS driver worldwide, by capturing both the ALMS and Motors TV Most Popular Driver Awards, while Brabham also collected his second-place LMP2 championship trophy alongside teammate Scott Sharp.
“There are so many great drivers in this series that it is a privilege to have won these awards and obviously my heartfelt thanks go out to all of the fans that voted for me,” said Brabs. “It’s been an incredible season for me personally, not only with the level of success I’ve enjoyed in the American Le Mans Series but also winning the GT1 class in the Le Mans 24 Hour for the second consecutive year. I am immensely proud to have received both awards here tonight.”
Hamilton was a class apart, says Ferrari boss Lewis Hamilton was today hailed as being in a league of his own by the boss of his world championship rival, Felipe Massa.
The extraordinary praise from Stefano Domenicali, head of the Ferrari Formula One team, is bound to sap the morale of Massa, who must make up a seven-point deficit if he is to beat Hamilton to the title in the final race of the season in Brazil a week on Sunday.
Domenicali's comments came in the wake of a commanding victory by Hamilton in the Chinese Grand Prix. Brazil's Massa finished a distant second with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, of Finland, third. Hamilton was totally dominant in Shanghai, leading from pole position to the checkered flag in his McLaren Mercedes and setting the fastest lap in the process. Massa simply couldn't match him.
Applauding the performance of the 23-year-old, aiming to become the ninth Briton to claim the drivers' crown, Domenicali said: "Lewis was in another league.
"He was driving fast, consistent, and we couldn't even think of attacking him. What we said in our pre-race briefing was to try and attack Lewis above all at the beginning of the race, but we couldn't do it because he was so fast."
Chengdu Prepares for A1GP Work is well underway in preparation for A1GP World Cup of Motorsport’s inaugural visit to Chengdu next month, the first major international motorsport event to take place in the Sichuan Province. The series has strong ties with China, having raced there five times in the last three seasons, but this will be a new challenge for the A1GP Powered by Ferrari cars when they take to the track for round two of the championship, 7-9 November 2008.
Earlier this year, an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale struck Wenchuan County in the south-western Sichuan Province. The rescue and relief efforts have been on-going since the disaster struck.
Chengdu City is the capital of the Sichuan province, while the track, which lies 16 kilometers south west of the city centre, is 3.367 kilometers (2.019 miles) long and features 14 turns running in a clockwise direction.
Ron Dennis does not care if Massa wins in Brazil. He just wants Hamilton to score enough points to clinch title
Dennis happy to see Ferraris win in Brazil (GMM) McLaren boss Ron Dennis says he would not mind if Ferrari records a dominant one-two in Brazil, so long as Lewis Hamilton is crowned world champion.
In Shanghai on Sunday, Hamilton drove to an easy victory, ensuring a 7 point advantage over Ferrari's Felipe Massa with just the Interlagos finale in two weeks to go.
The mathematics of the points standings means that, even if Massa wins at Sao Paulo and the other Ferrari finishes second, 23-year-old Hamilton will still be champion if he secures fifth place or higher.
"We have no problem with Massa coming first and Kimi coming second," Dennis, when asked about the last race, told reporters before leaving China.
"It doesn't really worry us. We will compete fiercely through practice and qualifying, see where we are and take a view from there," he said.
In his post-race message of congratulations to Hamilton over the radio in China, Dennis praised the British driver for his "discipline".
Now Dennis is asking for one more show of calm.
"To win the world championship, we have to finish the next race, it's as simple as that. I think for everybody it will be very exciting, but our objective will be to make it boring for everybody," he smiled.
"The most important thing will be to stay out of trouble."
After losing last year's championship at the last hurdle despite a similar advantage, and with his mistake of the recent Japanese grand prix in mind, Hamilton indicates that he agrees with Dennis' advice.
"We know what we have to do," he said.
"We will use a similar approach to what I had this weekend, which was better than I had last year coming here; a bit calmer, a bit more confidence in the package and what we have to do," Hamilton added.
Canadian GP calls Ecclestone a liarUPDATE (GMM) Organizers of the Canadian grand prix have strongly denied Bernie Ecclestone's claim that the 2009 race was axed because of a growing debt dating back three years.
The F1 chief executive said last week that he cancelled Montreal's formula one contract because of monetary shortfalls "for the past three years".
But in a statement issued by the promoter Grand Prix F1 du Canada, race official Paul Wilson rubbished the "allegations", claiming that the dispute relates only to 2008.
"We were working hard to resolve the matter in order to meet our 2008 obligations when Mr. Ecclestone, without notice, surprised everyone by unilaterally dropping the Canadian grand prix from the 2009 FIA schedule," he said.
He claims that Ecclestone's allegations could tarnish the "reputation" and "integrity" of the Canadian grand prix.
"It is totally untrue to suggest that our organization has defaulted on payments owed for the past three years," Wilson charged.
10/19/08 Contrary to allegations made by Bernie Ecclestone regarding money owed by Grand Prix F1 du Canada for past hosting rights, the organizers of the Canadian Round of the Formula 1 World Championship would like to make clear that Mr. Ecclestone has received and accepted the terms of payment that were fully agreed to for the 2006 and 2007 events. According to Paul Wilson, Vice-President Marketing Grand Prix du Canada: "It is totally untrue to suggest that our organization has defaulted on payments owed for the past three years."
As reported this past week, Mr. Wilson continued: "It is true that we have a commercial disagreement regarding our monetary obligations, but only for 2008. This is the result of an historical difference within the contractual understanding between the two parties. We were working hard to resolve the matter in order to meet our 2008 obligations when Mr. Ecclestone, without notice, surprised everyone by unilaterally dropping the Canadian Grand Prix from the 2009 FIA schedule last October 7."
"We believe that it is important to shed the light on this matter and to clarify any allegations that could tarnish the reputation of our organization. We do not accept that the integrity of the Grand Prix du Canada should be called into question, when it is evident that the table is being set for new negotiations with different levels of the Canadian government," concluded Mr. Wilson.
Ticket sales up for Long Beach race The blending of Champ Car World Series into the Indy Racing League in February has already had a positive influence on the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which on April 19 will run for the 35th time on the streets of Long Beach.
Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, this week said ticket renewal sales are up from last year, current economic circumstances notwithstanding.
"There is much stronger, much greater stability," Michaelian said about the unified IRL coming to town. "There is no question as to who is coming, how many are coming. Now there is some continuity. There is a recognition as to who the players are. We were very interested to see how the renewals would go.
"If you were buying a ticket before (the merger), let's be honest, you weren't sure how many cars were coming, which drivers."
The mix of former Champ Car drivers now in the IRL - such as Graham Rahal, Will Power and Justin Wilson - as well as veteran IRL drivers Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick - give the IRL lots of star power.
Castroneves may not be around come April, however. He was recently indicted on tax evasion and tax fraud charges. If convicted, he faces prison time.
"He is one of our top stars, arguably our top star," Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division for IRL, said Thursday during a luncheon at Shoreline Village. "Absolutely, it will have an effect if Castroneves is otherwise occupied." Long Beach Press Telegram
Ford drops out of NASCAR truck series Ford Racing has reinforced the importance of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series to the manufacturer under tough economic times by reaching a five-year deal to remain with Roush Fenway Racing.
But Ford will pull its financial support in the Craftsman Truck Series beginning next season.
Team owner Jack Roush assured that Ford has not pulled support from the Cup program.
"Ford has made us a commitment for five years going into the future that we feel is adequate to our needs for the support that comes from manufacturers," Roush said before Sunday's race at Martinsville Speedway. Roush has been with Ford since he got into NASCAR in 1988. His organization owns five of the eight Cup teams currently funded by the manufacturer and has an alliance with two more at Yates Racing.
The single-car team of the Wood Brothers is the only other one that runs fulltime in NASCAR's premiere series, although Yates plans to expand to three teams in 2009.
The withdrawal of financial support in the Truck Series was purely an economical decision. It is the second big hit for that series, which lost Dodge support earlier this year. ESPN.com
Family watched race champ die The fiancée and father of a champion racing driver watched in horror as his car became airborne and slammed into a concrete wall, killing him. The death of Scott Darley in the Australian sprint car race at Parramatta City Raceway is the first fatality in the class since 1971.
Darley, 28 - a former Australian liter car champion who swapped to sprint car racing about four seasons ago - was killed when he lost control of his 800-horsepower sprint car during Saturday night's event.
He was one of the front cars in the 21-lap qualifying CT Main race when his Maxim sprint car veered off the track while he was negotiating a left hand bend about 8.45pm.
The car became airborne before landing on its side and crashing into a concrete wall.
Among the 2000 spectators watching the race was Darley's father Bruce.
Darley's fiancée Belinda Loudoun - the daughter of prominent Sydney sprint car racer and Darley's teammate Ian Loudoun - was also believed to have been trackside.
Statement On The Passing Of NASCAR Official Steve Lawson Steve Lawson, 51, a NASCAR official for more than 10 years, passed away Sunday morning in Martinsville, Va. Lawson was in town working the NASCAR events at Martinsville Speedway. Lawson, a native of Rockford, Ill., worked as a safety inspector in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. NASCAR made the following statement regarding Lawson's death:
"The entire NASCAR family is saddened by the loss of one of its own - Steve Lawson. He provided outstanding service to our sport. And, while our officials are certainly keeping Steve's family and friends in their thoughts and prayers, they are preparing to officiate today's race with the quality and efficient manner that Steve would want them to."
Canadian writer and Marty Roth rip into the IRL This Wheel.ca article rips apart of the IRL for parking Marty Roth after this season. The article calls the IRL biased on who it picks and chooses to bench. Why isn't Milka Duno benched because she is perhaps the slowest driver that ever strapped on a racing helmet?
Liverpool and Al-Ain score victories in Estoril Liverpool and Al-Ain may have taken the race victories at the Estoril round of the Superleague Formula championship, but championship leader Beijing Guoan came away from Portugal with the biggest smile on their faces after extending their championship lead.
After his race two Zolder victory, Beijing's Davide Rigon held a 14 point lead heading into Estoril but has now extended that out to 35 points with two rounds remaining.
Beijing finished fifth in both races and now leads PSV by 35 points with Liverpool FC a single point behind.
FC Porto's Tristan Gommendy had a heartbreaking day after retiring from race one with an engine problem while running in fifth place. Despite 30 bus loads of Porto fans making the trip to Estoril, Gommendy was unable to compete in the second race after the team ran out of time to make an engine change.
Renault have new way of heating tires An interesting idea that Renault now came up with is to actually use part of the hot air exhaust gases to heat up the rear tires. The R28 now features a modified rear wheel shield with an aerodynamic tunnel in it. This catches air from the inside of the shield and churns it out again just above the rear tire. Such device prevents the tire from being cooled by airflow, but allows a more constant temperate, hence improving its grip.
Kimi Raikkonen said he had no qualms about handing second place to his Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa in Shanghai, despite out-pacing the title-chasing Brazilian all weekend.
Out-going champion Raikkonen was the only man who could get close to dominant winner Lewis Hamilton in Shanghai, but had to back off and relinquish second to Massa after the final stops so the latter could stay within seven points of Hamilton going into the season finale.
"We know what we want as a team, and that's what we did - it's normal in this situation," said Raikkonen.
"I know what the team expects and what we wants for our results. I have nothing to lose or win, I'm driving for the team."
He admitted that Ferrari simply didn't have the speed to beat McLaren this time.
Indian Firm Confirms Talks with Chrysler In a few years time, your "All-American Jeep" maybe manufactured in India if Chrysler LLC gets its way and finishes a deal with Indian contract auto manufacturing firm, Argentum Motors. But unlike this past weekend's reports about a possible merger between Chrysler LLC and GM that were never actually ratified, this story has been officially confirmed by the head of corporate communications for Argentum Motors, Colonel Bhagwati Prasad Suman. Suman told Just-Auto that Argentum Motors is currently in negotiations with the Chrysler Group about an outsourced manufacturing deal adding that the Indian firm is busy retooling its plant to assemble larger vehicles.
"Right now the work is going on to augment the assembly lines which were made to manufacture small cars," said Suman. "Soon they would be big enough to handle an SUV. Any foreign car company would save at least 15% in the production cost if we manufacture their vehicles. Early birds would have the best deal as we are ready to work on a cost-to-cost basis," he added.
Chrysler has yet to issue a statement on the matter.
Trulli points finger at Bourdais After lining up in seventh position for the start of the Chinese Grand Prix, it would prove to be a short race for Jarno Trulli as he and Sebastien Bourdais made contact at the first turn.
Trulli and the team blame the Toro Rosso driver for the incident that would eliminate the Italian veteran from the race but the race stewards on this occasion took no action against the Frenchman. Timo Glock used a one stop strategy to salvage two points for the team.
Sebastien Bourdais has yet another race where a potential good result was not to be
Jarno Trulli "Away from the line I was side-by-side with Sebastian Vettel but I had to give up on him because he had the inside line. Then Sebastien Bourdais suddenly hit the right side of my car at the rear and damaged it. It is frustrating because he did this once before this year at Spa, where he also ruined my race at the first corner. Today I couldn't carry on which is a pity because we had a very good chance of more points. Still, there is one more race to go and we will push to the end to try and finish the season on a high in Brazil."
Sebastien Bourdais “I’m not sure what happened with Trulli at the first corner. I guess he didn’t see me. I was halfway alongside him and he turned in. I was right under Sebastian’s rear wing and of course we are all very close in the first corner. We touched, he spun and I went really wide, dropped to the back and that was my race spoilt. It was a shame because after that, every time I was in clean air I had a good pace and passed around half a dozen cars. Finishing 13th, having been last is not a bad result, but it’s disappointing, given we started eighth with a car good enough to score points today.”
Massa 'optimistic' for title finale (GMM) Robert Kubica has dropped out of the hunt for the 2008 championship, but the two main contenders are primed to take their battle to the wire in Brazil in two weeks.
Lewis Hamilton completed a dominant weekend in Shanghai on Sunday, following a run of first positions in practice, supreme pace in qualifying, and the fastest lap and victory.
But even though Ferrari's Felipe Massa had a bland run to second in China, aided by his number two teammate Kimi Raikkonen, the Brazilian is buoyed by the forthcoming home advantage of the season finale at Interlagos.
"I think we can have a much better car in Brazil than we had here. Today it was very difficult to follow this guy and fight with him," said Massa, sitting alongside winner Hamilton after the race.
Hamilton's 5 point advantage became 7 at Shanghai, meaning he needs to finish just fifth in Brazil to wear the crown, irrespective of 2007 race winner Massa's result.
"I'm very optimistic, for sure, and we need to be," Massa continued. "Always when you play at home you usually play better. I have had very good experiences in Brazil for the last two years, so hopefully we can repeat that and have a great experience again."
Meanwhile, as the micro-analytical world of F1 prepared to censure the 'team orders' that went on between the two Ferrari drivers towards the end of Sunday's race, world champion Kimi Raikkonen insisted his actions were entirely "normal" at this stage of a championship.
McLaren's Hamilton agreed. "They're a team and I know if it was in my position, if Heikki (Kovalainen) was leading, we would probably do the same thing.
"It's playing together as a team and they obviously did a great job," the Briton said.
Rossi romps to victory in Sepang Valentino Rossi took victory number nine of his 2008 season in the Polini Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, escaping from the clutches of Dani Pedrosa in the final third of an exciting race at the Sepang circuit.
The 2008 MotoGP World Champion had started from second on the grid, but held onto the tail of Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda RC212V as his rival attempted to make an early breakaway. After taking the lead from the Spaniard on lap ten Rossi set about creating an advantage of his own, and as the race entered the final third the biggest problem for the Italian was the threat of rain.
With the option open to come in and change bikes, the Fiat Yamaha man -and indeed all the other riders so used to the changeable nature of conditions in Sepang- elected to stick out the light rainfall, a decision vindicated when the rain passed and the high temperatures quickly dried up any residual wetness.
Davide Valsecchi wins Shanghai sprint race It seems like Davide Valsecchi is making Sunday wins his specialty. After he dominated the last race of the GP2 Series in Monza last month, he drove from pole to victory in this morning’s sprint race in the opening event of the GP2 Asia Series. However, he had to hold on great pressure from My Qi-Meritus.Mahara’s Bamber. The young Kiwi once again left a really strong impression after another great start and an impressive pace that allowed him to finish second hence snatching his first GP2 podium.
As usual, there was much action and drama first with Mika Maki stalling on the pre-grid and then Sakon Yamamoto failing to launch when the lights went off. However, all eyes were on poleman Valsecchi who held off Van der Drift while Earl Bamber found a way to overtake the Trident racer. On turn 4, Diego Nunes span and although no car touched him, Kamui Kobayashi whose start had not been good lost another couple positions. Further back, Iaconelli and Ricci came together, ending both of their races prematurely.
Soon enough, Javier Villa overtook Petrov for 4th while Valsecchi and Bamber pull away thanks to a slower Van der Drift holding up the rest of the pack. Another rookie showed his overtaking skills: Sergio Perez. Starting from 24th, the youngest driver of the grid made his way up to 7th. On the other hand, the race went from bad to even worse for Japanese ace Kobayashi as his car was damaged in a small collision. He unfortunately retired in the final stages of the event. His teammate on the other fought his way back to 5th notably through a strong move on Petrov. The Russian later had to retire on what seemed to be a fuel delivery problem. At the chequered flag, a ecstatic Valsecchi took victory ahead of Earl Bamber and Javier Villa in spite of a small mistake in the second-to-last lap. Van der Drift took fourth, d’Ambrosio fifth while yesterday’s winner Rodriguez grabbed the remaining point.
Porsche wins 2 of 4 ALMS classes Porsche entered today’s Monterey Sports Car Challenge, the final round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series, with the LMP2 prototype drivers championship and the GT2 production-based drivers championship already clinched, but the manufacturers titles in both classes were still up for grabs. But, when the checked flag fell on the four-hour sports car classic early Saturday evening, a Porsche race team in each class scored a third point finish – good enough for the marquee to win both manufacturers championships.
In a race which featured 13 yellow flags and a racing surface which lost its grip due to excessive gravel on the track from the many racing incidents, the 2007 and 2008 LMP2 drivers champions, Romain Dumas (France) and Timo Bernhard (Germany), overcame an off- track incident of their own to guide their Penske Porsche RS Spyder to a third-place finish – just high enough to edge Acura by a single point in the final standings. Porsche ended up with 214 points, and Acura, with its one-two finish at Laguna, finished second with 213.
Penske Racing had previously clinched their third straight LMP2 team title, In the production-based GT2 class, Porsche had a more comfortable lead of 15 points going into the last event, but a strong contingent of Ferraris threatened to overcome those points with a sweep of the top position in the four-hour finale. But the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Patrick Pilet (France)/Johannes van Overbeek (USA) finished fourth in class to seal the manufacturers championship, 220 – 215.
Originally, Dirk Werner (Germany)/Bryce Miller (USA) in the Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR had finished third, but the car was excluded at post-race tech for a ride height violation due to a broken right front spring. Previously, Joerg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler (both Germany) had clinched the drivers championship in their Flying Lizard Porsche, and Flying Lizard Motorsports had sealed the team title – their first. Hartmut Kristen, head of Porsche Motorsport, couldn’t have planned the season any better for the final result.
Team Australia adds 2nd car for Surfers race There will be a two-pronged attack from Team Australia on the Nikon Indy 300 with the green and gold livery of the Aussie Vineyards-backed team running on two cars at next weekend’s race around the streets of Surfers Paradise in Australia.
The cars of KV Racing Technology were unveiled in the pit lane of the Nikon Indy 300 circuit today, with Will Power on hand to unveil the two thoroughbred IndyCar racing machines of the Indianapolis-based team.
Power, driver of the #8 Aussie Vineyards – Team Australia car, will be joined by team-mate Oriol Servia in the colors of Team Australia for the big event, held October 23-26.
Servia’s #5 car has run in a silver, orange and blue livery this season, before switching to a red and white livery for the Chicago event last month. But for the Gold Coast race, the Spaniard will join Power in flying the colors of the home team.
“I think its great Oriol and I will both be flying the flag for Aussie Vineyards and Team Australia at the Nikon Indy 300 next week,” said Power.
Hamilton bites back after week of jibes (GMM) Near the end of a weekend of jibes, Lewis Hamilton has hit back hard at his staunchest critics.
The championship leader, who could wrap up the 2008 title in Shanghai, served up a biting reply to Fernando Alonso, his former McLaren teammate who has vowed to help Felipe Massa to emerge with the spoils.
"He was a double world champion who came to the team and got beaten by a rookie. That says it all," Hamilton, 23, told reporters in China.
"When someone has been winning, then another driver comes in and takes over, then they are not going to be happy about it," he added.
The Briton said he is not upset he is not invited to play cards at grand prix circuits with a band of his competitors, including Alonso and BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica.
"I don't play poker," he said. "Some drivers get together, I'm here to race."
Hamilton denied he has been drawn in to a round of mind games.
"I don't believe in them. There is no need to, because we can do the job."
He believes the reason for his unpopularity among his fellow drivers is obvious.
"It is because I'm winning," Hamilton said. "When you are a winner, when you are doing well, that is the game."
Weekend USA TV RemindersUPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below. Courtesy of TVRacer.com Sunday Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix Shanghai 2:30am-5:00am (L) SPEED NASCAR Now 10:00am-11:00am ESPN2 NASCAR in a Hurry Martinsville 10:30am-11:00am SPEED NASCAR Raceday Martinsville 11:00am-1:00pm SPEED NASCAR Sprint Cup TUMS QuikPak 500 Martinsville 1:00pm-1:30pm (L) -Pre-race 1:30pm-6:00pm (L) -Race ABC ALMS Monterey Sports Car Championships Laguna Seca 2:00pm-4:00pm (10/18/08) NBC Formula 1 Replay Chinese Grand Prix Shanghai 2:30pm-5:00pm (R) SPEED Star Mazda Road Atlanta 5:00pm-6:00pm (10/3/08) SPEED MotoGP World Championship Malaysian Grand Prix 6:00pm-7:00pm (SD) SPEED SPEED Report 7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED NASCAR Victory Lane Martinsville 8:00pm-9:00pm SPEED Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain Jeff Burton (NASCAR) Erik Berkman (Honda Racing Development) Steve Matchett (F1 Analyst) 9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED NASCAR Now 10:00pm-11:00pm ESPN2 All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV programs, see TVRacer.com
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