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Wyoming company to provide ethanol to IRL Wyoming company to provide ethanol to IRLA worldwide racing first, the IndyCar Series is poised to open its 2007 season on March 24 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway with the debut of the new 3.5-liter Honda Indy V-8 engine fueled by 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol.

The ethanol industry is proud to be involved in the most significant racing fuel change in recent history. The cutting-edge technology developed for this series has performed flawlessly in extended testing. The combined efforts of the ethanol industry and the IndyCar Series have helped drive consumer awareness of ethanol and its performance and environmental benefits.

The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) is responsible for providing the fuel and has contracted Renova Energy, based in Torrington, Wyo. to supply ethanol to the IndyCar Series throughout the 2007 season.

"At the highest level of auto racing, ethanol proved safer and faster and has proved what auto enthusiasts have known for years," said Tom Slunecka, executive director of EPIC. "Renova Energy produces ethanol the same way, whether for an IndyCar Series car speeding around the track at 220 or a family sedan traveling 25 mph on Main Street."
Several IndyCar Series engineers worked with Dan Schwartzkopf, senior vice president of Renova Energy, who not only oversees his plant's ethanol production process but also races several dragsters that are fueled on E85, 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. zzzz

"The process of transitioning to100 percent fuel grade ethanol has been seamless from the beginning" said Les Mactaggart, senior technical director for the IndyCar Series. "EPIC, Honda and Renova have been true partners during the process that culminated with successful tests at Daytona International Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Iowa Speedway in September and October."

The Ethanol-IndyCar Series partnership dates back to 2005 and has advanced from ethanol being a team sponsor to working with the league to introduce an ethanol-methanol blend in 2006 to next year's introduction of 100 percent fuel grade ethanol. The 17-race 2007 IndyCar Series schedule opens in March, runs through September and includes the Indianapolis 500 on May 26.

IndyCar Series drivers Sam Hornish Jr., Tony Kanaan, Vitor Meira and Jeff Simmons each had an opportunity to try out the new 3.5-liter Honda Indy V-8 engine-100 percent fuel grade ethanol combination during the post-season testing sessions.

"There's a difference, and it's all been positive so far," Simmons said. "It's great to be one of the guys to have the chance to run the new motor next year with the 100 percent ethanol. It seems to me, so far, we've got a broader power band. We're going through the corners better. It allows us to do some things with gearing whereas you had to be really precise with the gearing last year. We're able to pull some really good speed even if we're a little off on the gearing."

Renova Energy currently produces 10 million gallons of ethanol per year with construction start-up for a 20 million gallon plant in Heyburn, Idaho. Renova Energy Idaho will be online for production in the fall of 2007.

"The Renova Energy Racing team has been using ethanol as a high performance race fuel for more than a decade with great success," said Schwartzkopf, senior vice president of Renova Energy. "We are very excited about our partnership with EPIC and the IndyCar Series and we see this as an excellent platform to promote the use of ethanol as a motor fuel to the wider public."

Roush swapping Nextel Cup Series crew chiefs Roush swapping Nextel Cup Series crew chiefsRoush Racing drivers Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray will swap crew chiefs for the final two races of 2006. Edwards will get to work again with crew chief Bob Osborne - whom he had worked with in 2005 and the start of 2006 - while Wally Brown will move to work with McMurray, said a team spokesperson.
Andretti nominated for rookie award Andretti nominated for rookie award2006 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Marco Andretti is among the contenders for the RACER Rookie of the Year Award which will be awarded during the inaugural SPEED Performance Awards.

Nominees for the inaugural RACER Magazine Rookie of the Year include Andretti, Colin Braun (Grand Am), Dan Clarke (Champ Car), Bryan Clauson (USAC), Denny Hamlin (NASCAR) and Robert Kubica (F1).

"We're excited that the Rookie of the Year presented by RACER will be an important part of the inaugural SPEED Performance Awards," RACER editor Andy Hallbery said. "RACER magazine prides itself in having its knowledgeable readers vote auto racing's rising stars into the spotlight. The 2006 season has given us some amazing rookies across a wide variety of championships, and when the votes from RACER's readers and SPEED's viewers are in, we know the winner will be truly deserving."

The RACER Rookie of the Year winner will be featured in the April edition of the magazine. Beginning the week of Nov. 20, SPEED will air nominees for the fan-vote categories, allowing SPEED viewers to vote for their favorites at SPEEDtv.com. The winners will be announced as part of a 60-minute special in February.

Sharp, Patrón join Rahal Letterman Racing Sharp, Patrón join Rahal Letterman Racing1996 IndyCar Series co-champion Scott Sharp will drive for Rahal Letterman Racing in 2007 the team announced on Nov. 9.

Sharp whose No. 8 Honda-powered Dallara will be backed by The Patrón Spirits Company, will join Jeff Simmons who will return to pilot the No. 17 Team Ethanol Honda-powered Dallara.

"The addition of Scott Sharp gives Rahal Letterman Racing an experienced driver to team with Jeff Simmons," said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Racing. "Scott has demonstrated over the years to be one of the most consistent drivers in the IndyCar Series and he is a proven race winner and someone who will be an outstanding representative for our organization and for Patrón Spirits. As an organization we are fortunate to be able to pair this driver combination with two world-class corporate partners giving us a foundation for a successful 2007 season and beyond." zzzz

"Scott Sharp is a winning veteran, and the perfect compliment for a talented young driver like Jeff Simmons," added RLR co-owner David Letterman. "It's exactly what Rahal Letterman Racing needs. The men and women of RLR have been working hard in the off-season to prepare the team for an exciting, competitive 2007."

Sharp, a consistent performer who has finished nearly 75% of his races in his 14-year career comes to RLR as the career leader in IndyCar Series starts (129) and with nine wins and 35 top-five starts to his credit. Sharp, the only driver to compete in each of the previous 11 IndyCar Series seasons, and has posted eight top-10 championship results in his career.
"I'm very excited to join Rahal Letterman Racing," Sharp said. "The team has been at the front of the open wheel scene ever since it's inception and has proven to win races with different drivers, chassis and series. I can't wait to work with Bobby, the entire team, and with Jeff. I expect us to be a formidable combination. I'm equally thrilled to represent Patrón and expose their highest quality tequila to a very ripe fan base. It should be an exciting year both on and off the track."

Patrón is the world's #1-selling ultra-premium tequila and is imported and marketed by the Las Vegas-based Patrón Spirits Company. This will be Patrón's second season in the IndyCar Series, but its first as the primary sponsor.

"At Patrón, we're motivated every day by the desire to be the very best at everything we do," said Ed Brown, president and CEO of The Patrón Spirits Company. "From producing our top-selling tequila, to sponsoring and supporting high-profile organizations and events, nothing short of perfection will do. Scott Sharp and Rahal Letterman Racing share this same goal, and we're proud to put the Patrón tequila name on their IndyCar (Series car)."

Simmons, who started 12 races for the team in 2006, will return for his first full season in the IndyCar Series. The Hartford, Conn., native finished second in the Bombardier Rookie of the Year competition, collected a team best four consecutive top-10 results and finished 16th in the championship.

"I came to RLR under difficult circumstances, but the team has been extremely supportive and I think as a team we started to come to grips with the Dallara towards the end of the season," Simmons said. "I am looking forward to starting on equal footing with the rest of the field and entering the season with a full winter of testing. The addition of Scott [Sharp] in the Patrón car is a real plus for RLR. Scott brings a lot of experience and that is another great resource for me to draw on as we prepare for the 2007 season."

"Jeff Simmons has great capabilities on and off the track," said Tom Slunecka, executive director of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC). "As a driver, he took the Team Ethanol car to six top-10 finishes in the last seven races in his rookie year. As a spokesperson for Ethanol, he has the ability to communicate the values of ethanol to all types of consumers. We're proud to have him demonstrating the extreme performance that ethanol can deliver to drivers across this country." IRL

Holiday Inn expands Busch deal Holiday Inn expands Busch dealHoliday Inn® Hotels and Resorts will expand its winning NASCAR Busch Series program with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) in 2007 to a full season of competition with co-drivers Jeff Burton and Scott Wimmer.  The program is the next step of this season’s 10-race program with Burton behind the wheel of the No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. In those ten starts, Burton earned one victory (June 3 at Dover International Speedway in Delaware), five top-five and seven top-10 finishes.  Wimmer is also scheduled to drive RCR’s No. 33 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, with sponsorship from Holiday Inn, in this season’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season finale, Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“It’s an honor to be able to continue and grow our relationship with an American icon like Holiday Inn,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “Jeff Burton, Pat Smith (crew chief) and the entire team have done a solid job on the competition side and the folks at Holiday Inn have done a great job in promoting their program to their customers.  We’ve had pretty good success the past couple of years running a two-driver program and we think that will only continue with the Holiday Inn team in 2007.”

formula bmw
Formula BMW USA gears up for World Final Formula BMW USA gears up for World FinalThe DELL Formula BMW World Final is now firmly on the agenda of the Formula BMW USA drivers and teams. For the nine drivers from the US series that have chosen to accept the challenge, the World Final will provide a unique opportunity to pit themselves against the best drivers from the four international Formula BMW series held in Germany, the UK, Asia and the United States. Five teams from Formula BMW USA will find their way to Spain to support the young aspiring racing talents in their battle for the ultimate championship in its class.

From November 24-26, the second DELL Formula BMW World Final is to be held on the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo in Spain. Racing in a tournament format, 37 young drivers from 16 countries will be competing not only for the US $60,000 prize money, but also for the winner's award: a test with the BMW Sauber F1 Team.

The international flavor of Formula BMW USA is readily apparent as not only drivers from the USA will fly to Spain's Mediterranean coast, but also talented racers from Canada and Colombia will make their appearance at the World Final to compete with other drivers from all over the world.

The 2006 Formula BMW USA championship was decided at Mosport International Raceway at the beginning of September with BMW Junior driver Robert Wickens (17), from Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada taking the title. Wickens, who finished sixth in the inaugural Formula BMW World Final last year, is one of the favorites heading toward Valencia, driving for his team EuroInternational. He will, however, face strong competition not only from the other three regional Formula BMW champions, but also from drivers he faced season-long. zzzz

Formula BMW USA runner-up Matt Lee (17), from Syosset, NY, finished the season only six points behind Wickens. He will line up with Team Autotecnica. Winning two races including the final Round at Mosport, Lee will challenge the competitors with his remarkable determined driving style.

Formula BMW USA Rookie Champion Daniel Morad (16), from Markham, Ontario Canada, who was already awarded with a BMW Junior scholarship towards 2007 participation in Formula BMW USA, will compete with AIM Autosport alongside Canadian Philip Major (17) from Ottawa. Major finished the Formula BMW USA season 21st in the championship points.

Team Gelles Racing will run five cars in the World Final with four seats taken by drivers from Formula BMW USA. They are Sebastian Saavedra (16), from Bogotá, Colombia who finished second in Rookie points; French-Canadian BMW Junior driver Maxime Pelletier (16) from Longueuil, Quebec who finished third in the Rookie championship; Ryan Phinny (17) from Carmel Valley, California who finished tenth overall and 11th place finisher Canadian Adrien Herberts (17) from Coquitlam, British Columbia.

Frankie Muniz (20) from Los Angeles, California will compete with his team Jensen Motorsport. He finished 30th in Formula BMW USA, his first season of open-wheel competition in Formula BMW USA this year.

Wickens, who is testing with his team in Italy, proved himself in last year's World Final as a potential candidate for motor racing's top echelon. In the final race in Bahrain, he performed an impressive charge and worked his way up from the 25th starting position to finish sixth. Remembering his performance he states, "I think that the competition for the 2006 World Final will be just as strong as last year or maybe even stronger. I am happy that there are more drivers coming from the US championship this year." And he adds, "I think my chances of doing well are extremely good. A lot of people are probably expecting me to be fast because I am one of the four champions attending. I'm confident that if I can show the speed I did last year and use the experience that I gained, I will have a very good shot at the Formula 1 test."

Morad says, "I am really looking forward to this great opportunity to compete with some of the best drivers from around the world, and I have no doubt the competition will be fierce. This has become a very high profile event, not only for its ultimate prize, a Formula One test, but also for the great opportunity to perform in front of the who's who of motorsports." The Rookie adds, "This being my first year in auto racing, it has been a tremendous learning experience for me; and I feel comfortable and confident in myself that, with the help of my team, I can be one of the front runners."

Muniz states, "The experience in Valencia should be amazing. It's a great way to close out my year in Formula BMW. Since the final Formula BMW USA race, I have tested my Champ Car Atlantic race car for 10 days, so I am going to push and try to make the top-10 at the DELL Formula BMW World Final now that I have so much more experience."

Constructed in 1999, Valencia's "Circuit de la Comunitat Ricardo Tormo" is an ideal host for the DELL Formula BMW World Final. With its mild winter temperatures and unique stadium-style surroundings the Ricardo Tormo circuit is a spectacular facility characterized by a never-ending burst of tight corners connected by short straights that promise exciting race action.

Sirius Hires Producers of NASCAR Programming Sirius Hires Producers of NASCAR ProgrammingSIRIUS Satellite Radio announced that Daniel Norwood and Paul Pabst have joined the company as Executive Producers of SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, launching in 2007. They report to Steve Cohen, SIRIUS' Vice President of Sports Programming. Norwood, formerly of WFNZ Radio in Charlotte, N.C., and Pabst, formerly of ESPN, will be responsible for creating and overseeing the day to day operation of SIRIUS' NASCAR channel, which launches in January. The channel will air 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will include live races, plus daily and weekly talk programs, including Tony Stewart Live, a two-hour radio show hosted by the two-time and reigning Nextel Cup Series champion. Starting in 2007, SIRIUS will be the Official Satellite Radio Partner of NASCAR, broadcasting all Nextel Cup Series, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series races live. Click on www.sirius.com to listen to SIRIUS live, or to purchase a SIRIUS radio and subscription. Sirius Satellite Radio PR
track news
Milwaukee Mile ticket renewal offers Milwaukee Mile ticket renewal offersThe Milwaukee Mile, America’s oldest active motor speedway, is letting its loyal customers save money, get in on some cool prize packages and show their support for America’s Legendary Oval.

New for 2007 will be a first-time offering to renewal customers of a 25-percent payment by December 15th.  Their remaining amount will be applied in installments in early 2007, freeing up some holiday spending cash while securing their seats to witness a return to tradition when the ABC Supply / A.J. Foyt Indy 225 IndyCar Series race will take the green flag on June 3rd, the Sunday following the Indy 500. zzzz

A hot ticket this summer will be the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and NASCAR Busch Series action, once again on back-to-back nights June 22nd and 23rd.  A Stock Car Package is also in the offering, which encompasses both of the popular NASCAR races and the August 24-26 Milwaukee Mile Governor’s Cup races, featuring the ARCA RE/MAX Series, ASA Late Model Series and grass roots stock car divisions.

For the first time, package renewal ticket holders will become instant, free members of the Milwaukee Mile Legacy Club, a new exclusive club for season ticket and ticket package holders that will have year-long benefits, including an exclusive Legacy Club merchandise gift pack.

“Being a Milwaukee Mile season ticket or package holder has never been better,” Milwaukee Mile President & CEO Andy Randall said.  “We feel we have very attractive pricing and incentive opportunities for our loyal fans who have been so supportive of The Mile.  For sports fans considering attending one or more of our world class events in 2007, we encourage them to take advantage of our affordable season ticket and Stock Car Package options available.”

A special Return to Tradition VIP IndyCar Package of four tickets to the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500 and Milwaukee Mile VIP hospitality passes will be awarded to one lucky renewal customer who elects to provide full payment for their 2007 seats by December 15th.

Renewal statements are now being sent out to existing customers of The Milwaukee Mile.

Gift certificates in any dollar amount, season tickets, Stock Car Package tickets and individual tickets are now on sale by calling The Milwaukee Mile ticket office at (414) 453-8277.

Ganassi holding Wheldon back from NASCAR Ganassi holding Wheldon back from NASCARChip Ganassi is holding Dan Wheldon back from a switch to NASCAR in the near future so he doesn't add to the rush of open wheel stars out of Indy Car racing and to NASCAR. "We often talk about NASCAR, but I know Dan has some goals he still wants to achieve in open-wheel racing," said Ganassi.  "When he accomplishes those goals, we'll take another look at it.  Dan knows that if he ever wants to, the opportunity is there for him to do it," he said. "He's one of the people who has a keen eye on Montoya to see what happens."
Hornish to make NASCAR debut Hornish to make NASCAR debutAs the march of open wheel stars to NASCAR continues, Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish will attempt to make his NASCAR debut in this weekend's Arizona Travel 200 Busch Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. The three-time Indy Racing League champion will compete in the No. 39 Penske Racing South Busch car in the final two races this season, sites of a combined five IRL career wins. Two of those came at Phoenix, the latest in 2005. "I've completed a lot of laps at Phoenix in an IndyCar the last several years," Hornish said. "Hopefully, that experience will transfer to our preparations this week with the Busch car."
Newman's Crew Chief to take sabbatical Newman's Crew Chief to take sabbaticalMatt Borland, crew chief for Ryan Newman, will miss the final two races of the 2006 Nextel Cup season. Borland is taking "some personal time off," and team engineer Mike Nelson will lead Newman's efforts this weekend at Phoenix and next weekend at Homestead, a Penske Racing South spokesperson said Wednesday.  Newman and the No. 12 team have struggled this year. Newman, who made the Chase For The Nextel Cup the last two years, is 18th in points with no wins and two poles.  In his first four full seasons from 2002-2005 with Borland guiding his team, Newman never finished lower than seventh in points and collected 12 wins and 34 poles.

There are rumors Borland is moving to a Toyota team in 2007 so he may be done with Penske.
track news
Miller named Motorsport Facility of Year Miller named Motorsport Facility of YearMiller Motorsports Park was named “Motorsports Facility of the Year” today by the Professional Motorsport World Expo at a gala event held in Cologne, Germany.

Alan Wilson, CEO/General Manager and track designer, accepted the award at the gathering of racing professionals from all over the world.  Miller Motorsports Park was on a short list for the prestigious award that included Las Vegas Motor Speedway (USA), Cranfield University (UK) and Paul Ricard HTTT (France).

“This award is a great honor for Miller Motorsports Park, especially so since it has come to us in our inaugural year,” Wilson said. “It takes a whole team of people to make this happen, and I want to thank everyone involved - staff, volunteers, race fans, the Tooele community, the corner workers, and so many more.  We couldn’t have done it without such total support.  Larry Miller (owner) has brought something extremely special to Utah.” 

The competition was judged by well-known racing professionals such as Michael Andretti of Andretti Green Racing, Trevor Carlin of Carlin Motorsport, and motor racing writer David Tremayne. Approximately 1,500 people attended the event.

Miller Motorsports Park opened in April 2006 and hosted a full slate of America’s best road racing during its inaugural season; including the AMA Superbike and Supermoto series, the American LeMans Series, Grand American Road Racing, Historic Sportscar Racing, and AHRMA vintage motorcycle racing.

The 2007 season schedule will include all the major events of 2006, plus more.  The full schedule will be released soon. MMP

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday USA TV reminders for FridayCourtesy of TVRacer.com

The Chase is On -Phoenix Preview Phoenix
7:00am-7:30am (R) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Phoenix
4:00pm-5:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying  Phoenix
5:00pm-7:00pm (L) SPEED
Trackside Phoenix
7:00pm-8:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck  Phoenix
8:00pm-10:30pm (L) SPEED

All times listed are ET.  For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Berger says Toro Rosso to build own car
Toro Rosso plan new Italian factory
Kimi not Finland's top racer
McLaren poach Renault man
Bernie says Alonso not yet 'great'
Passing to be harder in 2007 - Heidfeld
Prodromou starts work at Red Bull
Fuji expect big crowd for 2007 GP
track news
Fuji Speedway announces details for F1 race Fuji Speedway announces details for F1 raceFuji Speedway's  Hiroaki Kato, President, announced today arrangements for the holding of the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship (F1) Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix. Under the basic theme "Endless Beauty, Unlimited Excitement -F1 Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway”, the event will be organized according to three major policy guidelines: 1) providing services based on advanced safety and high quality, 2) offering a variety of ways to enjoy F1, and 3) contributing to and encouraging participation by the local community. More.....
Road Racing Ace Lally Steers Towards Stock Cars Road Racing Ace Lally Steers Towards Stock CarsCONCORD, North Carolina  - - When Andy Lally straps himself in the No. 1 Ford Taurus this Thursday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, he’ll take one of the biggest leaps in his young and talented racing career by making his transition into stock car racing.

Lally has teamed up with veteran racecar driver Andy Belmont who will guide the three-time and 2006 Rolex Grand Am Champion towards a smooth and successful transition to oval racing. Belmont is no stranger being a mentor as he has filled the role in the past for drivers like Pierre Bourque, Christi Passmore, Sunny Hobbs, Brack Maggard, Dustin Maherg, Ryan Vos and Casey Dean.

Lally soars into this new venue with a successful and impressive resume to his credit. In addition to his Rolex Grand Am Championships, Lally has experience In the 24 Hours of Le Mans, SPEED World Challenge Series, Barber Dodge Pro Series and USF2000 Series. During the course of the 1996 and 1997 racing season, Lally heads to LMS on the heels of a commanding six wins in the Rolex Grand Am Series.  zzzz

"I’m excited to have a chance to test with Andy,” said Lally. “I have raced at Charlotte before but in a light weight formula car which is very easy to hold flat around there. This will be a new experience for me. From time to time I get to do some oval racing and would love to do more but my opportunities keep coming in road courses. I’m trying to change that and really give a good push to get myself involved in more stock car racing, on both oval and road courses.”

Belmont, who spent the 2006 season competing in the ARCA RE/MAX Series and NASCAR Nextel Cup Series sees a bright future for Lally and is excited about the test.

“Andy is a great kid,” stated Belmont. “His credentials are very impressive and we’re utilizing the test to allow him to get as comfortable as he needs to before we exercise or entertain any options for further oval racing for him during the 2007 season. I’ve worked with a lot of talented drivers, but Lally is one that will make a name for himself and will be in the world of stock car racing for a long time to come, I guarantee it.”

Thursday’s test at Lowe’s Motor Speedway will be a joint effort between Belmont and Fast Track Racing, owned by fellow colleague and close friend Andy Hillenburg.

“Lowe’s is a fast track,” added Belmont. “We’re looking for consistency from Andy on Thursday. I know he has what it takes, but I don’t want to rush things. His lap times should be pretty accurate compared to the ARCA level and I think once he is comfortable with the car and track, he’ll really shine.”

“When asked about his expectations for the test, Lally gave a modest answer “None,” the 29-year old explained.   I’m just going to have a feel and enjoy myself a bit. I’d like to have Andy (Belmont) baseline the car for me and then just take a smart, methodical approach to getting up to speed in it without taking any risks. To be totally honest, as much as I’m sure I will be tempted to go fast I only want to complete the test trouble free and have something to reference in case there are future opportunities.”

For further information on Andy Lally, please logon to http://www.andylally.com

Industry News
Ford Fusion lands on cover Ford Fusion lands on coverFord Motor Co. scored some bold play with its new bold moves. The Ford Fusion sedan, launched in September of 2005, landed the cover of Consumer Reports' influential new car and truck preview for 2007. While the Fusion plays center-stage, it shares the cover with the Toyota Yaris subcompact car.

What's more, twenty-one Ford models are recommended buys in the 2007 model-year guide, up from 17 a year ago, according to an edition of the guide obtained by the Free Press at a local Borders Books & Music one day before its official release date.
Industry News
Cooper Tire posts gain Cooper Tire posts gainCooper Tire & Rubber Co. posted net sales of $716 million for the third quarter of 2006, an increase of more than 28% over the same period last year. While Cooper's revenue increased, it took an operating loss of $7 million during the quarter versus operating income of $14 million for 3Q 2005. Factors contributing to the loss included:

* $10 million in unabsorbed overhead due to reduced production levels associated with Cooper's efforts to slash inventory in North America; * $5 million in severance costs relating to former Chairman, CEO and President Tom Dattilo, who left the company in August;

* $2 million in restructuring expenses associated with the shuttering of the Findlay, Ohio-based tiremaker's factory in Athens, Ga.;

* the reorganization of Cooper Tire Europe's management structure; zzzz

* escalating raw material costs. Cooper notes that its loss during 3Q 2006 was a "sequential improvement" over the $26 million loss it suffered during the second quarter of 2006.

The firm's North American Tire operations achieved sales of $552 million during the third quarter, up 8% versus the same period last year.
track news
SPEED World Challenge added to Long Beach weekend SPEED World Challenge added to Long Beach weekendLONG BEACH, Calif. - With the addition of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship to its weekend lineup, race fans attending the 33rd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 13-15, 2007, will again enjoy the high-speed action of SIX big races.

The SCCA SPEED GT joins the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford (featuring the sleek new Panoz DP01 chassis), American Le Mans Series, 31st Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, EZ Lube Team Drift Challenge and the Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

The SCCA SPEED GT, which will run on Sunday afternoon, April 15, as the climax to weekend activities, made its Long Beach debut last year on the famed 1.968-mile, 11-turn seaside circuit, with Canada's Ron Fellows scoring an exciting win in his Cadillac, passing Michael McCann two corners from the finish and holding on to take the checkered flag. zzzz

"The SPEED World Challenge GT proved a highly competitive and popular addition last year," said Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.  "We're glad to have them back as the final segment of what is sure to be a fabulous weekend of racing."

Gaining rapidly in popularity, the SCCA SPEED GT features a wide variety of racing marques and powerplants, including the Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911, Aston Martin DB9, Cadillac CTS-V and Dodge Viper, among others.

"We're excited to again be a part of one of the biggest racing events in North America in 2007," SCCA President and CEO Jim Julow said. "Our brand of racing utilizing recognizable, production-based cars is geared not just toward race fans, but automobile fans, and we're certain that the series will again be a favorite for fans at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach."

In the series' recently completed 2006 season, Porsche won the Manufacturer's Cup Presented by RACER Magazine by just three points over Dodge, while rookie Lawson Aschenbach of Gaithersburg, Md., won the driving championship and Piloti Rookie of the Year honors driving his AXA Financial Porsche 911 GT3.

Aschenbach scored top-10 finishes in every race to win the title, outdistancing Lou Gigliotti, Andy Pilgrim, Ricardo Imery and Tommy Archer.

For information about the series or the 33rd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, log on to world-challenge.com or longbeachgp.com.

Ticket prices for the 33rd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach range from $20 for  Friday general admission up to $120 for a three-day ticket that includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seats in upper levels of the grandstands.  Pre-paid parking packages are also available when ordering through the Grand Prix Ticket Office.

To purchase tickets, call the toll-free ticket hotline at (888) 82-SPEED.   A colorful ticket brochure - which includes circuit map, grandstand and parking locations, ticket prices and order form - can also be obtained by calling the ticket hotline. Handicapped seating, Bosch Champ Car Garage passes, super photo tickets and a variety of hospitality club packages are also available.

Record 2006 for ALMS Record 2006 for ALMSBraselton, Ga. - When history looks back on the 2006 American Le Mans Series, it likely will be seen as the watershed year for the Series. Recognized as not only the fastest growing motorsports series in North America but perhaps also the world, the American Le Mans Series showed increases in most all categories including attendance, TV viewership, manufacturer participation and corporate sponsorship revenues.

"With most every significant benchmark up this past season, I cannot begin to tell you how enthused we are about the 2007 campaign," said American Le Mans Series President and CEO Scott Atherton as he assessed the recent performance of the Series while looking ahead to next season. "With new teams from Acura and Porsche coming to the grid along with others to be announced during the off-season, coupled with increased corporate partner involvement, there is truly reason to celebrate as we prepare for Winter Tests and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring."

With an enhanced television package in 2006 that included a 50/50 split between network TV (CBS) and cable (SPEED), the Series had 40 percent more viewers than it had a year earlier. This coming season's campaign adds not only two more races but also another network - NBC. The American Le Mans Series adds races at Long Beach, CA; Detroit, MI; and St. Petersburg, FL. CBS is scheduled to televise four races, NBC one, and SPEED seven, including the growing popularity of the final four "Race to the Championship." zzzz

"Our new races impact seven of the top 10 and 12 of the top 20 media markets in the country," said Atherton. "We are certainly taking the premium brand of motorsport racing to venues where we can showcase our product."

TV viewership increased internationally as well. With MotorsTV and Greenlight Productions leading the way, the American Le Mans Series now boasts one of the most widely distributed motorsports series in the world with a potential viewing audience of more than 520 million homes to more than 100 countries.

"During a year when many sports showed declines in television viewers and ratings, we were gratified that our fan and viewer base continued to improve," said Atherton.

In addition to television viewers, the American Le Mans Series showed a solid 6 percent increase in attendance, highlighted by new benchmarks at both the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda CX-7. The Series, renowned for its diversity of manufacturers, added Aston Martin, BMW and Ferrari back to the grid this season and looks forward to a three-team Acura effort as well the addition of a few other new marques for 2007. Corporate involvement also grew with the Series increasing revenues by nearly 16 percent.

The International Motorsports Association (IMSA) also played a vital role in the enhancement of American Le Mans Series race weekends. This past season it added IMSA Lites to its group of development series that supports both the Series' prototype and grand touring classes. It now sanctions the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin, Formula BMW USA, IMSA Lites, Panoz Pro Series and Star Mazda.

Industry News
GM chief meets with Toyota, Isuzu and Suzuki GM chief meets with Toyota, Isuzu and SuzukiGeneral Motors Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner held separate meetings in Japan Wednesday with leaders of Toyota, Isuzu and Suzuki, GM said.

The meetings were scheduled in advance of Wagoner’s trip to Japan and were held to discuss “areas of mutual interest,” according to a GM statement.
The company would not reveal specific issues the leaders discussed, but said GM has long-standing business relationships with all three Japanese automakers.

“As a matter of policy, and because the meetings were private, we do not comment publicly what subjects were discussed,” the GM statement said.

The meetings come a day after Toyota Motor Corp. announced it would buy a 5.9% stake in Isuzu Motors Ltd. as part of a new deal for the manufacturers to collaborate in engine technology. GM sold its entire 7.9 percent stake in Isuzu back in April. Detroit Free Press

Champ Car Pre-Race Mexico quotes Champ Car Pre-Race Mexico quotes
Jeff Gordon Weds Jeff Gordon WedsJeff Gordon wed Belgian model Ingrid Vandebosch in a private ceremony in Mexico on Tuesday.
The newlyweds will "honeymoon" in Phoenix, Arizona, and Miami, Florida – the site of the final two events of the 2006 NASCAR season -- before attending the NASCAR Nextel Cup Banquet in New York this December. Their official honeymoon will take place in an undisclosed location once the season ends.
Vandebosch, 37, began modeling at age 16 and has appeared in magazines like Elle, Marie Claire, Vogue, and Glamour. The aspiring actress has had bit parts in films such as Going Greek and Taxi, in which Gordon also had a cameo.
Petty named Grand Marshal for Rolex 24 Petty named Grand Marshal for Rolex 24Seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty will serve as grand marshal for the Rolex 24 sports car race at Daytona next January, the track announced Wednesday.

The event is the 24-hour race for the Rolex Sports Car Series at Daytona International Speedway that traditionally kicks off the international motorsports calendar.

Petty is a 13-time NASCAR winner at Daytona, including a record seven Daytona 500s. He will give the command to start engines before the Rolex 24.

"Any event at Daytona is a special event, and the Rolex 24 is one of them," Petty said. "It was always a great track for us, and this is a chance to give back to a place that has given us so much. I'm looking forward to be a part of one of the opening events of the speedway in 2007."

6 of 11 SPEED World 2007 races 6 of 11 SPEED World 2007 racesSCCA Pro Racing has announced six of the 11 venues that will compose the 2007 SCCA SPEED World Challenge Championship season, with the remaining dates to be released shortly.

The 2007 schedule is a mix of exciting new venues and World Challenge classics ready to thrill race fans across the continent.

For the sixth season in-a-row, SCCA SPEED World Challenge will open its season at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring with the American Le Mans Series. As in years past, the SPEED GT and Touring Car races will be the featured races on Friday, March 16, at Sebring International Raceway in Florida, leading into the classic 12-hour ALMS race on Saturday.

The SCCA SPEED GT cars will then trek across the country to the streets of Long Beach, Calif. For the second year in-a-row, the GT cars will go solo as part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, an extravagant festival of speed with the Champ Car World Series and ALMS, April 13-15. zzzz

Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City, Utah, will have an earlier date in 2007. SCCA SPEED GT and Touring Car will reunite May 17-19 for their second appearance at the nation’s longest road course to take part in the Utah Grand Prix with ALMS.

Canadian fans will have twice the opportunities to see SPEED World Challenge in 2007. The series travels across the border and to the streets of Exhibition Place, July 7-8, for its first visit to the Grand Prix of Toronto with the Champ Car World Series. Ontario’s race fans will also have an opportunity to see both series on a traditional road course as well at Mosport International Raceway. The 2007 Grand Prix of Mosport trades the Labor Day weekend of seasons past for an August 25-26 date, where the series will make it’s 17th appearance—more than any other racing venue.

For the ninth-straight year, Road Atlanta will host a stop on the tour, with the Petit Le Mans event, October 2-6. SCCA SPEED GT and Touring Car take their traditional place on the week-long event headlining Friday, with the ALMS endurance classic taking place on Saturday.

For updates on the 2007 SPEED World Challenge season visit www.world-challenge.com
2007 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Championships Schedule of Events

Date  Venue  With 
March 14-16  Sebring International Raceway, Sebring , Fla.  ALMS
April 13-15  Streets of Long Beach, Long Beach, Calif.  CCWS
May 17-19  Miller Motorsports Park , Tooele , Utah  ALMS
July 6-8  Exhibition Place, Toronto, Ontario, CAN  CCWS
Aug. 24-26  Mosport Int'l Raceway, Bowmanville , Ontario , CAN  ALMS
Oct. 2-5 Road Atlanta , Braselton , Ga. ALMS 

*Additional events to be added at a later date.

Atlantic car nominated for award Atlantic car nominated for awardFans across the globe got a chance to see the superior performance of the new Swift 016.a Atlantic chassis in action this season in the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship. This week, some of the world’s top motorsports experts are recognizing the current Atlantic racing machine, designed and manufactured by Swift Engineering.

The Atlantic car, powered by the 2.3-liter, 300-horsepower Mazda-Cosworth engine while riding on Cooper Tires next season in the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, has been nominated in the Chassis Development of the Year category at the Professional Motorsport World Expo Awards. The expo takes place November 8-10 in Koln, Germany and the awards ceremony will be held this evening.

The Swift chassis is competing against some of the other top race cars in the world in its award category, including entries from the Renault Formula One team, the Ford Focus World Rally car and the Super Aguri F1 squad. zzzz

“Swift is honored to be considered as nominees at the Professional Motorsport World Expo Awards, especially in a category with such esteemed company,” said Chris Norris, Chief Design Engineer for Swift Engineering. In addition to the chassis design nomination, Norris is also a finalist for the Design Engineer of the Year Award at tonight’s ceremony.

Builders of Atlantic chassis since 1987, Swift Engineering took on a massive project last year. Charged with the task of creating a bigger, more powerful Atlantic car that would better prepare the future stars of open-wheel racing for their transition to the 750-horsepower rockets of the Champ Car World Series, the company designed and manufactured 40 of the new Atlantics and delivered them to series teams all in a span of only 226 days. The result was an affordable, yet durable and race-ready machine that helped produce one of the most competitive and exciting seasons in the 33-year history of the series in 2006.

The new Atlantic cars continue to see action in testing this off-season and the machines will be put to the test again in 2007 with a host of new series competitors in the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

track news
SMI reports record quarter SMI reports record quarterSpeedway Motorsports Inc. today reported record third-quarter earnings of $4.7 million, or 11 cents per diluted share, up 7 percent from $4.4 million, or 10 cents per diluted share, in the same quarter of last year.

The Concord, N.C.-based track operator said revenues increased 6 percent to $84.8 million thanks to increases in sponsorship, luxury suite rentals, advertising, camping, track rentals and attendance at Bristol Motor Speedway's NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series events These record results demonstrate that SMI's solid earnings and cash flows continue to grow and are increasingly resilient to factors such as the poor weather and rising fuel prices that surrounded several of our major NASCAR event weekends earlier in the year," said SMI President and Chief Operating Officer Humpy Wheeler, chief operating officer and president.

The company said net income for the first nine months of the year increased to $82.4 million or $1.87 per share from $73.9 million or $1.67 per share in the same period last year. Revenues for the nine-month period were $419.1 million, compared to $390.4 million in the same period last year.

SMI owns and operates Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, Infineon Raceway in California, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway near Fort Worth.

AGR sponsor cutbacks AGR sponsor cutbacksAndretti Green sponsor NYSE Group Inc., the operator of the New York Stock Exchange, on Wednesday said it will cut more than 500 jobs as part of a strategy to trim $200 million in expenses within the next two years.
The world's largest stock exchange said the reductions will help eliminate duplicate services from last year's acquisition of electronic exchange Archipelago. Layoffs also come as the NYSE attempts to transform itself into an electronic marketplace, scaling back the need for floor specialists to execute trades.

A spokesman for the exchange would not comment on the layoffs, which will effect 400 employees and 120 full-time consultants.

Sete Gibernau retires Sete Gibernau retiresFormer double MotoGP World Championship runner-up and nine-times grand prix winner, Sete Gibernau, has announced his retirement from racing.  An emotional Gibernau confirmed the conclusion of his ten-year MotoGP career during a press conference in Barcelona, saying:

"I have decided to retire from world championship motorcycling. It has been an incredible experience and given me many unforgettable moments. I'm proud of what I've achieved, I dreamt of being world champion and went through some difficult moments, but those just made me appreciate the good times more. I'm very pleased to have won races in both 500cc and MotoGP, to have led the world championship on several occasions and to have fought to the end to become a world champion."

Nextel Cup team owner arrested and jailed Nextel Cup team owner arrested and jailedUPDATE #5 Gene Haas, owner of Haas CNC Racing, is now scheduled to go to trial for alleged tax fraud on Sept. 18, 2007. Haas has pleaded innocent to the charges, which were part of an investigation that started in 2001. The company has stated that a former employee is to blame and that it has paid the taxes at issue in the case. The trial date was set during a hearing Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

06/27/06 NASCAR team owner Gene Haas pleaded not guilty to charges of tax fraud and witness intimidation Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

"We know this is going to be a long fight, but we feel that the government has been overzealous in pursuing this case," said Haas attorney Kenneth Barish in a statement last Friday when Haas was released on bail. "Mr. Haas looks forward to going home and going back to work running Haas Automation and his other businesses.

"But more than anything else he wants to prove that he is innocent."

06/24/06 A NASCAR team owner accused of defrauding the government of more than $20 million in taxes was released on $10 million bail Friday.

Gene Haas, the 54-year-old owner of Oxnard-based Haas Automation and NASCAR's Haas CNC Racing, based in Harrisburg, N.C., was arrested Monday for investigation of conspiracy, filing false tax returns and witness intimidation.

Charges filed by the U.S. attorney's office accuse him of orchestrating a plan to list $50 million in bogus expenses that could be written off as business costs and save the company $20 million in taxes.

Haas, of Camarillo, was ordered to turn in his passport at a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Patrick J. Walsh.

The judge said Haas can travel to NASCAR races and to his business in North Carolina with the court's prior permission. Walsh overruled the government's objections to the bail conditions.

"The government's assertion that Mr. Haas is a flight risk was based entirely on conjecture and hearsay," Haas' attorney, Kenneth M. Barish, said in a statement. "Mr. Haas has no prior record or criminal history and has never posed a threat, physical or otherwise, to any witnesses or the community at large."

Walsh ordered Haas to have no contact with potential witnesses in the case. More at NASCAR.com

06/22/06 The arrest this week in California of Gene Haas, owner of Haas Automation, will not affect plans to build a $40 million wind tunnel in Concord or stop the race shop's move to Kannapolis, said a company spokesman. Joe Custer, general manager of the Harrisburg race team Haas CNC Racing, said the company's assets have not been frozen or affected by the arrest. He also said Haas CNC and the company for the wind tunnel, Wind Shear, are actually separate entities from Haas Automation. "We're not implicated in the indictments and we are not being investigated," Custer said. "We're not financially in trouble, never have been and don't plan to be." Custer said regardless of the investigation and Haas' legal troubles there won't be any impact on any of the Cabarrus County projects. Haas announced in May that he will construct a $40 million wind tunnel in Concord. John Cox, CEO of the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce, talked Wednesday during a motor sports symposium held at Lowe's Motor Speedway "We have called the Haas folks to show our support," Cox said. "Our prayers are that Mr. Haas will be exonerated." Cabarrus County provided a three-year tax incentive grant for the project and the City of Concord offered to provide electrical infrastructure at the site. The city, which planned to build a $4 million electrical substation near the Concord Regional Airport, said they will move up that project to accommodate the wind tunnel's construction schedule.  More at the Kannapolis Independent Tribune

06/21/06 NASCAR team owner Gene Haas remains in a California jail with no bond, while the details of the events surrounding his indictment slowly come to light.
According to the government filing, Haas and his attorneys used a civil case filed in 2003 in a California court in order to gain information from a former employee. That employee, John Phillips had been part of an alleged scheme by Haas and his associates to exact revenge of the Federal government.

Several years ago, Haas lost an $8.9 million patent infringement suit and blamed the Federal judge who presided over the case. Sometime in September 2000, Hass ordered Phillips and Denis Dupuis to set up a tax fraud scheme in order to get the $8.9 million back plus legal fees.

Among the schemes set up by the pair, Federal prosecutors allege, one involved laundering money by the use of bogus invoices through a company operated by Charles Todd.

The monies paid to Todd and others were listed on Haas’s books as expenses when in fact 98% of the money was returned to Haas. By being listed as expenses, Haas avoided paying nearly $20 million of federal income tax.   More at CupScene.com

Related links of court papers (PDF Files):

Indictment against Gene Haas

Defendant Charles Todd plea agreement

Motion filed to have Haas held without bail

06/20/06 Nextel Cup team owner Gene Haas was arrested Monday on federal tax fraud charges, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The charges allege that Haas orchestrated a scheme in which approximately $50 million of bogus expenses were put on his Haas Automation's books in an attempt to avoid the payment of more than $20 million in federal income taxes.

Haas is the owner of Haas Automation and owns Haas CNC Racing, which operates the No. 66 Nextel Cup car with driver Jeff Green and the No. 00 Busch Series car with driver Johnny Sauter.

"We believe that Mr. Haas is innocent of any and all charges," Haas Automation general manager Robert Murray said in a statement. "These IRS issues revolve around the activities of a former Haas Automation employee, and we are certain that, in the days ahead, the charges against Mr. Haas will be determined completely unfounded.

"It is well [known] that Mr. Haas has paid millions of dollars in taxes over the past years. While these current circumstances are very frustrating for Mr. Haas, they will have no impact on the day-to-day or long-timer operations of Haas Automation Inc."

Haas was being held without bail after his arraignment in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, according to a story in The New York Times.  More at SceneDaily.com
Renaults Chevrier reviews the season Renaults Chevrier reviews the seasonDenis Chevrier, the Renault F1 Team's engine race engineering boss, casts an eye back over the 2006 season -- and explains the challenges faced by the new V8 engines this season.

Q: Denis, what are your strongest memories of 2006?

Denis Chevrier: In all the time since I have been working in F1, I have rarely lived through such a tough, fascinating and demanding season. The tenacity of our rivals forced us to push ourselves to the limit all the way through the championship. Trying to beat Ferrari isn't really like beating any other team...

Q: What is your best memory of the year?

DC: Without a doubt, the opening laps in Hungary, in the wet. Fernando gave a master class in driving an F1 car, and the only comparison I could find was with Ayrton Senna at Donington in 1993. It was an exceptional performance, he was on another planet. Even in the midst of the race, it felt like we should have been applauding this virtuoso drive.

Q: And the worst?

DC: When I saw smoke coming from Fernando's car in Monza. Initially, I was stunned. You watch the TV images, you scan the telemetry... and you suddenly realize that it's not a dream, that it has happened. Immediately, you need to react, to try and understand why the engine failed, to work out how to get the engine back to the factory as quickly as possible... It only took a few seconds before we went into 'crisis mode'.

Q: Rob White admitted that the failure led to the team working night and day...

DC: That's exactly how it was. The calendar gave us a fortnight to react, given that the next race was in China in three weeks' time. From that moment, the whole company was mobilized to understand what had happened, to find suitable solutions, to approve them, and then to decide which option to take. No part of the company was spared: suppliers, the design office, the production team, our R&D specialists, the dyno team, the assembly workshop... At dawn, we were inspecting parts that had been tested through the night...

Q: What general assessment can you make of the first season with V8 engines?

DC: The cars were clearly under-powered relative to the level of grip they had. That made life very tough for the engines this year, and much more severe than it had been for the V10s. The period of time spent at full throttle jumped significantly, the demands on the engine were much greater and all the engine manufacturers did a fantastic job to meet the challenge of the new rules. The V8s are wonderful engines. They were running at or near 20,000 rpm and you couldn't afford even the smallest lapse... Renault

Things to look for in Mexico City Things to look for in Mexico City
We have a hat trick – Newman/Haas Racing's Sebastien Bourdais became the first driver since Ted Horn (1946-48) to win three consecutive Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford championships with his eighth place finish in Surfers Paradise, Australia.

Best in Mexico - In his second start with Rocketsports Mario Dominguez posted his best finish this season in Surfers Paradise. During the final laps of the race the Mexican was able to pull within 0.728 seconds of the lead, but had to settle for the second position. Dominguez holds the distinction of having best finish for a driver from Mexico in a Champ Car race in Mexico City which happened in 2003 when he finished in the third position.

At Home for his Debut –Atlantic Series standout David Martinez will be making his first Champ Car start this weekend in Mexico City. The young Mexican made his debut in the Champ Car Ladder System in 2002 making one start in the Atlantic Championship in front of his home crowd in Monterrey, Mexico.

Mexican Mentors - In the first race at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez three drivers from Mexico competed in the event (Daniel Muniz, Juan Carlos Bolanos and Michel Jourdain). Since then there has been at least two drivers that call Mexico home in the field each year. Other Mexican drivers that have competed in Champ Car in Mexico city include: Josele Garza (1981), Michel Jourdain (1981), Michel Jourdain Jr. (2002-2004), Mario Dominguez (2002-2005), Luis Diaz (2002-2003), Adrian Fernandez (2003), Roberto Gonzalez (2003 and 2004), Rodolfo Lavin (2003-2005),  and Homero Richards (2005). zzzz

Throwing Rice – This weekend Buddy Rice will be making his first Champ Car start, but in no means is he a rookie in open wheel racing.  Rice began his career in Formula 2000 and then moved up to the Champ Car Atlantic series where he competed from 1998 to 2000 winning the championship in his last year in Champ Car’s development series. The Arizona native continued climbing the ladder and went on to win the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 from the pole in 2004.

Phenomenal Philippe – Nelson Philippe became the youngest driver ever to win a Champ Car race, by winning in Surfers Paradise at the age of 20 years, two months and 29 days, eclipsing the mark previously held by Scott Dixon by more than six months.

$10K Per Step – Behind the title contenders, a fierce battle goes on for spots six through 10 in the final Champ Car point standings. Mario Dominguez currently holds sixth and Bruno Junqueira holds seventh, separated by two measly points. While eighth place Will Power, ninth place Andrew Ranger and tenth place Alex Tagliani are separated by four points with each position being important as each step up to fifth in the standings pays an additional $10,000 in year-end bonus money.

Wilson Returns - Justin Wilson will be attempting to make his first start this weekend since he suffered a broken scaphoid bone in his right wrist during a practice session in Surfers Paradise. The Brit had surgery on his wrist and has been approved to drive by Dr. Chris Pinderski, Champ Car Medical Director. Relief driver Adam Carroll will be on hand to fill in if needed.

France First – Nelson Philippe’s victory in Australia clinched the Nation’s Cup for France, marking the second consecutive year that France has won the prestigious award. Currently England holds the second position with the United States, Canada and Brazil rounding out the top five.

Final round of rookie battle – Will Power has been the most consistent rookie this season on the Champ Car circuit and as a result currently leads the battle for Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year, over fellow rookie Dan Clarke. Power celebrated the first pole position of his career and increased his lead in Surfers Paradise picking up an extra eight points, to increase his lead to 15 over the Brit with one race remaining.

Zwolsman Zipping along - In Surfers Paradise Charles Zwolsman brought his car home a career best seventh and recorded his seventh consecutive top-ten run, which currently is the  most by a rookie contender this season. In last year’s race in Mexico City the 2005 Atlantic Champion made his first Champ Car start.

Rookies on top - Four different rookies led laps during the event in Surfers Paradise two weeks ago, marking the first time that four rookies led in a single event since 1983. The last time it happened was at Michigan International Speedway in 1983 when John Paul Jr., Teo Fabi, Al Unser Jr., and Don Whittington led laps.

MotoGP finalized its 2007 calendar MotoGP finalized its 2007 calendarThere will be 18 rounds, one more than in 2006, with the extra race coming in San Marino on September 2. The season finale will take place in Valencia on November 4.

10 Mar Qatar (Losail)
25 Mar Spain (Jerez)
22 Apr Turkey (Istanbul)
6 May China (Shanghai)
20 May France (Le Mans)
3 Jun Italy (Mugello)
24 Jun Great Britain (Donington Park)
30 June Holland (Assen)
15 Jul Germany (Sachsenring)
22 Jul United States (Laguna Seca)
19 Aug Czech Republic (Brno)
2 Sep San Marino (Misano)
16 Sep Portugal (Estoril)
23 Sep Japan (Motegi)
14 Oct Australia (Phillip Island)
21 Oct Malaysia (Sepang)
4 Nov Spain (Valencia)

CARA contributes $10,000 CARA contributes $10,000INDIANAPOLIS - Thanks to CARA Charities, every child admitted to Methodist Hospital of Indianapolis receives a toy of their choice. Despite the grief of entering the hospital as a patient, every child's face lights up when the CARA Toy Cart is rolled into his or her room.

Founded in 1988, the CARA Charities Children's Fund has given $10,000 annually to Methodist Hospital for its Adolescent Child Life division for the purchase of gifts presented to each child at hospital admission and for birthdays, funds for holidays, parties and special events.

The dollars donated to the Children's Fund are proceeds from the sale of the annual CARA Charities' racing car drivers and owners designed Christmas Ornaments. This year's designer is Danica Patrick, the 2005 Indy 500 and IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year.  Patrick was the first women driver to lead a lap at the Indianapolis 500 when she paced 17 laps in the 2005 500-Mile Race.  zzzz

Over the past 18 years, a variety of famous racers have designed their own CARA Christmas Ornament including Rick Mears, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Jr., Mario and Michael Andretti, Paul Newman, Helio Castroneves, Emerson Fittipaldi, Arie Luyendyk, Bobby Rahal and Gil de Ferran.

"Without CARA Charities the Adolescent, Child Life Program at Methodist Hospital would be nothing," said Debra Bussard, Adolescent, Child Life specialist for Methodist Hospital. "Because of this fund children in the hospital are comforted and can play due to the toys CARA and the Adolescent, Child Life Program can provide." In addition, the annual CARA Indy Fashion Show produces additional funding for the Methodist Hospital Children's Fund.

In February 2000 and in respect for the driving force behind the Children's Fund, the fund's name was changed to honor the late Shirley Bettenhausen, a former CARA Charities president. Bettenhausen was a longtime CARA member who participated in a variety of charitable activities each year.

Children's health and safety issues have been a primary focus for CARA Charities since the motor sports charity organization was formed in 1981.

CARA Charities is currently in the planning stages for its 2007 fundraiser's and will announce its charity programs in the near future including the Shirley Bettenhausen Methodist Hospital Children's Fund.

For further information on CARA Charities, call (317) 299-2277 or go online at www.caracharities.org.

Clarke has outside chance to beat Power for ROY Clarke has outside chance to beat Power for ROYBritish rookie Champ Car World Series driver, Dan Clarke, arrives in Mexico City this week ahead of the final round of the season at the South American track. The rookie of the year title remains his aim and with 15 points separating the young driver from Will Power, who heads the table, Clarke is full of determination to achieve his goal.

Clarke has repeatedly shown his potential this season and as the only rookie to score a podium finish, the Champ Car paddock has been impressed with his debut year. Heading to Mexico City, Clarke knows he needs to finish with a top five result to end the season with a strong impression and prove that he’s going to be a favorite of fans and teams next year.

He says, “I know what the deal is for Mexico. I need to be one of the front-runners all weekend, straight out of the box. We have the team to do it; I have the ability to get on the pace within a matter of laps, so it’s an achievable goal. As at most circuits this season, there’s a core of drivers who’ve driven here before which is a small advantage, but I’ve also shown that I can be a match for these more experienced drivers, and I’m definitely going to be taking the fight to them this weekend.” zzzz

The British driver is the only rookie of this year’s field to earn a podium finish and was the first rookie to score pole position. With top six finishes in three of the last four races, he’s eager to finish on a high note. He adds, “Apart from the race in Australia, we’ve had a string of good race weekends, posting good times and finishing high up in the points. With such close competition in Champ Cars every point counts and can make a big difference in the overall points standings. We’ll be all out to collect more this weekend and to take that rookie crown is the ultimate goal.”

The race takes place at the challenging Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit. This year will mark the fifth anniversary of the Champ Cars running in Mexico City, in what has become one of the highest-attended racing events anywhere in the world. The event has averaged nearly 350,000 per event since its inception in 2002.

More Q and A with Mexican David Martinez More Q and A with Mexican David MartinezDavid Martinez, driver of the No. 3 Forsythe Championship Racing INDECK Ford-Cosworth/Lola, makes his Champ Car debut in his home country. A consistent driver in the Atlantic Series, Martinez finished fifth in the Atlantic Series Championship Title standings with five podium finishes.

DAVID MARTINEZ – NO. 3 FORSYTHE CHAMPIONSHIP RACING – AFTER TWO YEARS OF RACING FOR U.S. RACETRONICS, YOU ARE GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO RUN IN CHAMP CAR. WHEN DID YOU DECIDE THAT YOU WANTED TO RACE IN CHAMP CAR? “It pretty much started when I came back from Europe in 2004, where I raced in the Renault V6 Championships. And I thought of Champ Car as my next step, but was difficult because of the sponsorship problems in Mexico, so the most logical thing seemed to go to the Atlantic Series and ended up racing two years with U.S. RaceTronics. Now, finally I have a great opportunity and I’m very excited to have and thankful of the Forsythe team.”

ONE OF THE DIFFERENCES THAT I’VE HEARD ATLANTIC DRIVERS MENTION WHEN MAKING THE JUMP TO CHAMP CAR WAS ADDING PIT STOPS… “Well (laughs), fortunately, when I did the V6 in Europe we had pit stops where we changed rear tires every race weekend, so that helps. I also raced in the A1GP for a couple of races, so it won’t be a total new experience. But obviously, it’s going to be one of things I’m focused on to not making mistakes on race weekend. And the physical aspect, I think, is one of the most important things and fortunately I’ve been preparing for a while and that won’t be any issue either.” zzzz

WILL THIS BE YOUR FIRST RACE IN MEXICO CITY? “No, I think I raced there somewhere around three or four times, it was a couple of years ago, though. There are some different configurations of the track and I haven’t raced on all of it, but I know some of the corners. So it is going to be easier for me, since I’ve been there before.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE MAKING YOUR CHAMP CAR DEBUT IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY? “It’s huge! It has its pros and bad things, but I’m going to try and take the good things and get some motivation going and hopefully give a good show to the fans, which are pretty passionate back in Mexico. I think it’s going to be a heck of a weekend.”

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR MEXICO CITY? “I’m in a pretty hard situation, going into the last race of the season. Obviously, Champ Car has some of the best drivers in the world and certainly will be going into a big car like this in the last race and winning a race. I have a big team behind me, I’m going to try and take it step-by-step and learn everything as fast as possible. I want to learn from Paul and Buddy, hopefully no mistakes are done, and by the end of the race we can be as far front as possible.”
IS YOUR MEXICO CITY DEBUT IN CHAMP CAR A PREVIEW FOR 2007? “I think that’s a pretty interesting question. I hope so, I think this is a very good chance for me to prove I can do the job and I hope, certainly, this will open some doors and potential sponsorships for next year. But definitely, this is where I want to be next year so hopefully things will work out. I’m glad to be in Champ Car and hope I can stay.” Ford Racing

More Q and A with Buddy Rice More Q and A with Buddy RiceBuddy Rice, driver of the No. 7 Forsythe INDECK Ford Cosworth/Lola, makes his Champ Car return in Mexico City. Rice, an experienced open-wheel and sports-car racer, talks about his future in Champ Car, goals for the race and his new teammates. 
BUDDY RICE – NO. 7 FORSYTHE CHAMPIONSHIP RACING -- HOW DOES IT FEEL TO RETURN TO THE SERIES SINCE WINNING THE ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2000? “It is a bit of a homecoming. It’s going to be exciting, too. Since my season ended with the IRL, I’ve been looking for where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. My number one focus and goal has been to make sure I put myself in the most competitive ride that I can and to where I can run up front again. With the opportunity Jerry Forsythe has given me with his team, it’s an excellent opportunity and I’m extremely excited to get back there, and some of the guys on that team are guys I saw in Atlantics and it’s definitely exciting.”

FORSYTHE HAS BROUGHT YOU IN FOR THE FINAL RACE OF THIS SEASON; WILL MEXICO CITY SERVE AS A PREVIEW FOR 2007? “I’m not 100% sure. I think there’s still are a lot of decisions and things that are going to be made at Forsythe and in what they want to do. As Jerry has said, he’s called it an audition; we’ll see how we get on. I tested in Houston and we’ll carry on and go down into Mexico and see what happens. It’s obviously a bit of a learning curve, because I haven’t driven a turbo’d car since 2000, and I also don’t know Mexico City’s track at all. But, I think that with as good as this team is and their resources, we should be quite competitive, and we should have exciting and very fun weekend going down in there.” zzzz

WHAT ARE YOU GOALS FOR THE RACE? “We are just going to have to wait and see. Following [A.J.] Allmendinger’s string that he’s had in last couple of months is going to be hard to follow. Like I said, I’ve never driven in Mexico City, I have a little bit of a learning curve with the turbo car and understanding all the little nuances of Champ Car with their different tire compounds and qualifying situations and such. I think we can go down there and be quite competitive and run towards the front. I don’t see any reason why we can’t be able to do that. I’ve driven on road courses in the last couple years, I’ve been driving sports cars and stuff, so it’s not like I’m not totally out to lunch on it. So, I think the Houston test geared me up and we’ll see what happens in Mexico. I think that we definitely have a potential to run up front.”

YOU ARE JOINING A SUCCESSFUL TEAM WITH MANY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE, ESPECIALLY PAUL TRACY. FORSYTHE ALSO ANNOUNCED THAT DAVID MARTINEZ, WILL RACE FOR THE TEAM THIS WEEKEND. HAVE YOU MET WITH THEM TO DISCUSS STRATEGY FOR THE RACE? “Well, with David, I met him last week for the first time. I hardly knew his name – I know he’s from Mexico and he’s driven in the Atlantics. But with Paul, I’ve known him for a long time. When the deal was coming down, I called and talked to Paul for quite a while. He offered assistance if we needed help in Houston or wherever we ended up testing. I think with my discussions with him, he’s been quite helpful, for sure. He’s got a tremendous amount of resources and knowledge of both the car and track and kind of what we need to do. We’ll just see what happens, but definitely, Paul has been very helpful so far.”

ALLMENDINGER HAS NOT BEEN THE FIRST TO MOVE FROM OPEN-WHEEL RACING TO NASCAR. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON DRIVERS MOVING TO STOCK CAR RACING?  From a driver’s perspective, is NASCAR the way to go? “You know, I think it’s just the way the climate is right now. I think everybody’s situation and what everybody wants to do is different. And I think that’s the biggest thing they need to do is stand back and look at it as ‘Where do you want to be in the next few years?’ I think a lot of it depends on people’s age and the people they have themselves surrounded in and where they want to be. To be honest, I really don’t know. Everybody’s situation is completely different. I don’t know if it’s the way to go, maybe for some guys they feel that that is their way they need to go, so I think everyone’s situation is unique. Also with the split [IRL and Champ Car], I don’t think that helps the situation very much.” Ford Racing

Q and A with Matt Kenseth Q and A with Matt Kenseth
Champ Car to allow Wilson 10 laps Thursday Champ Car to allow Wilson 10 laps ThursdayChamp Car officials will allow Justin Wilson to complete ten laps of the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City on Thursday so the Briton can judge his fitness ahead of the final round of the Champ Car World Series season.

Dr Terry Trammell, the Indianapolis-based orthopedic surgeon, has prepared a carbon fiber brace for the RuSPORT driver to wear this weekend, while Wilson has also been working on the strength in his left arm, which is going to have some significant compensating to do around the bumpy 2.7 mile course. For 2006, the final section of the track has been altered to bring back the famous Peraltada, the fast, banked right-hander leading on to the start-finish straight, which should be easier to contend with for Wilson than the chicane it replaces.

"I'm hoping that I'll have enough movement with the brace inside the car to be competitive", he said. "But to be honest, until I get out on track on Thursday I won't know for sure. There's a lot at stake in the championship, and it would be good to finish the season on a high for the CDW RuSPORT team, so I'll be giving it my best shot."

SPEED adds NASCAR Homestead programming SPEED adds NASCAR Homestead programmingSPEED will open its coverage of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series finale Nov. 16 at 2 p.m. ET with live coverage of the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship press conference from the famed Doral Golf Resort in Miami. The show will kick off nearly 30 hours of coverage from the Homestead-Miami area as titles are decided in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.

“Last year, we expanded our coverage from Homestead to give the weekend the major national championship coverage it is due,” said Chris Long, SPEED VP of Production. “As we continue to push ourselves to give NASCAR fans the most comprehensive coverage anywhere, we will deliver the top talent and the most relevant stories of the race weekend.”

The Chase is On, with Steve Byrnes and NASCAR driver Carl Edwards will report beachside Nov. 16 at 9 p.m. ET, to introduce the weekend’s top stories. zzzz

Highlighting the four-day coverage will be live coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series finale Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Three-time NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip will join Rick Allen and former driver Phil Parsons in the booth, while Ray Dunlap, Krista Voda and NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler report from the pits.

Special editions of The SPEED Report (Nov. 17, 10:30 p.m. ET; Nov. 18, 10 p.m. ET and Nov. 19, 8 p.m. ET) will wrap up the seasons for all three major NASCAR series, with Dave Despain taking his Wind Tunnel team to Homestead to discuss the state of the sport for a Sunday morning special (10 a.m. ET).

On Nov. 19, SPEED will open the day with a special Breakfast at Homestead program at 9 a.m. ET with Byrnes, Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond and NASCAR driver Elliott Sadler. The NASCAR RaceDay team of John Roberts, Jimmy Spencer, Kenny Wallace, Wendy Venturini, Bob Dillner and Rutledge Wood will take over at 11 a.m. ET and deliver a three-hour pre-race show, returning after the race for NASCAR Victory Lane.

Racing News
FIA's Watkins to Address SAE Conference FIA's Watkins to Address SAE ConferenceDEARBORN, Mich. -- Professor E. S. Watkins, President, FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety, will deliver the opening keynote address at the SAE Motorsports Engineering Conference & Exhibition, Dec. 5-7, 2006, at the Hyatt Regency Dearborn, Dearborn, Mich.

Commonly known as "Professor Sid," Dr. Watkins is an internationally known neurosurgeon with more than 25 years experience as the FIA Formula One Safety Delegate and Medical Delegate, head of the Formula One on-track medical team, and first responder in case of a crash.

The FIA credits Watkins for the modernization of medical standards in Formula One.

In 2004, the 100th anniversary of the FIA, Watkins became the first president of the FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society, as well as the first president of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety.

Watkins has written or co-authored a number of books on racing safety, including "Life at the Limit: Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One."

In addition to Watkins, International Motorsports Hall of Famer Bobby Rahal will be the conference's banquet speaker. Among other motorsports professionals participating in the conference are Champ Car's Scott Elkins, NHRA's Don Taylor, Nick Hayes of Richard Childress Racing, as well as two of SAE's most famous members, Neil Ressler and Peter Wright. SAE

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
GPMA rejects reports of Renault split
Williams 'don't listen' to drivers - Webber
Trulli does not regret Renault switch
Glock hoping for F1 role in 2007
Pizzonia sees GP2 as road back to F1
Veterans debate Ferrari decline
Honda to name new tester next week
Bridgestone warns teams to expect change
Honda slams BMW's third driver decision
'Trust' returns to F1 with Spyker
Trust to sponsor Spyker F1 team Trust to sponsor Spyker F1 teamSpyker F1 Team is pleased to announce another important addition to their 2007 Formula One World Championship sponsor portfolio. Trust International will make a calculated return to the team three years since their last F1 partnership with Jordan Grand Prix. As part of long-term relationship the familiar and distinctive Trust logo will appear on the 2007 Spyker F1 cars and drivers.

This is a welcome return to partnering Trust International for Spyker F1 driver Christijan Albers who enjoyed tremendous success with the Dutch company whilst driving in DTM. Christijan Albers will carry Trust branding on his helmet and race cap throughout the 2007 Formula One World Championship.

Trust International is an independent Dutch company with 20 years of experience in manufacturing affordable products with advanced technology aimed to the consumer IT and portable peripheral markets. The Dutch brand entered Formula One with Jos Verstappen and the Minardi Team in 2003. zzzz

Michel Perridon, Chairman of Supervisory Board Trust International:
"We are very happy to have closed this sponsorship deal with the Spyker F1 Team. Trust has a long history in sponsoring Formula 1 teams. In 2003 Trust became official sponsor of Jos Verstappen racing for the Minardi F1 team. As this turned out to be very positive for our company, Trust continued it's presence in Formula 1 by sponsoring the Jordan Grand Prix Team in 2004. In that same year, Trust also became sponsor of the Mercedes-AMG DTM team, with Dutchman Christijan Albers as one of the successful drivers. When Chris joined the new Dutch-owned Formula 1 team of Spyker in September this year, the decision to return into Formula 1 was easily taken; Trust always supported Dutch drivers in F1 and continues to do this. And with the new Ferrari V8 engines and tremendous motivation of the Spyker F1 team, we have very high expectations for 2007!"

Colin Kolles, Team Principal Spyker F1 Team:
"The fact that Trust International have decided to return to F1 with the Spyker F1 Team is extremely indicative of the optimism that everybody involved with the team is beginning to feel. As a technical organization we adopt a great deal of electronic innovation so partnering a company so well known for the manufacture of quality products will be beneficial throughout all levels of Spyker F1. Work on the new car at the factory in Silverstone is intense and progressing well. Announcing our partnership with Trust International will spur on all of our personnel and fans as we look towards 2007."

Michiel Mol, Director of Formula One, Spyker Cars NV:
"Trust is an important name in Dutch and international autosport. Every young talent dreams of getting the support of Trust as a sponsor. Outside this Trust is a very successful IT-company selling computer products in more than 35 countries. This fits our new positioning very well. We look forward to teaming up with Trust as a sponsor and we will do everything to make the brand even more well known and successful than it already is. The comeback of Trust in F1 is a major victory for Spyker F1 Team. I am really proud that the Trust brand name will be on our racecars in the years to come."

Christijan Albers, race driver Spyker F1 Team:
"I'm really happy to have Trust back as my sponsor. They've sponsored me in DTM and it was great working together. I really like the people and their products and I'm very proud and thankful to have their support".

About Trust International:
With more than 20 years of experience, Trust is Europe’s only independent manufacturer of advanced technology, affordable, peripheral products for PCs, notebooks, iPods, MP3 players and the PSP intended for the consumer market. The wide and innovative range of approximately 250 different products is continuously updated by the company's own Research and Development units in Europe and Asia in order to meet the latest market trends and the latest technological developments. Every product is carefully developed with the focus placed on functionality, quality and ease of use, combined with unprecedented value for money. In addition to this, consumers benefit from high-quality products with a two-year warranty; an easy to understand website and an international service centre that provides (technical) support.

Trust International B.V. (www.trust.com) has more than 200 professional employees working in 14 branches in Europe and Asia and is active in more than 30 different countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The products are available via all national and pan-European retailers, resellers and distributors.

Champ Car Sizzles at SEMA Show Champ Car Sizzles at SEMA ShowIf you visited your local auto parts store or repair shop last week, chances are there were some key people noticeably missing. They were likely in Las Vegas attending the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week. What is commonly referred to as the SEMA Show (Specialty Automotive Manufacturer’s Association) is a Las Vegas extravaganza of enormous proportion that clearly puts a strain on local transportation logistics and explains why it may not be practical to host a Champ Car event the same week.

The combination of the American Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) at the Sands Convention Center, the International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE) at Mandalay Bay Convention Center and Congress of Automotive Repair and Service (CARS) at the Mirage, and SEMA, has made this the largest gathering worldwide of any industry including the Consumer Electronics Show usually held throughout Las Vegas each year in January.

While I could digress on show specifics and statistics, I’d like to focus more on what Kevin Kalkhoven, Steve Johnson and his Champ Car staff have clearly accomplished in their maiden year at the show. If you are one of the thousands of attendees that take the monorail to the Las Vegas Convention Center you couldn’t miss the Champ Car display adjacent to the escalators -- a very strategic location also very close to the main registration area. A closer visit prompts your photo taken with two CC grid girls and a “hard-card” giving you access to their website to see your picture. Most of the series marketing collateral was there for the taking (including the 2007 schedule). Champ Car lanyards were in abundance but the quantity unfortunately was inadequate to cover demand as the week progressed. The new DP01 was also on display, as well as a full-size cutaway of a Champ Car chassis. It would have been nice to see an area dedicated to showcasing the various series sponsors, drivers and teams. You can never go wrong educating potential fans and spectators about this form of entertainment, especially at a place like SEMA. zzzz

The Champ Car Atlantic Championship took center stage opening day (Tuesday) with the unveiling of the new Cooper Tire Atlantic Series Logo and several Cooper corporate announcements. CCAC Managing Director Vicki O’Conner gleamed with excitement as the events unfolded. The enthusiasm for this new relationship was truly contagious with all those in attendance. O’Connor has definitely earned her stripes in keeping her beloved series headed in the right direction. The 2006 Atlantic season has proven to be an excellent business model for Champ Car’s 2007 DP01 debut. The 2007 CCAC looks to be turning up the after burners with more news conveniently spaced between SEMA and the debut of the 2007 season in Las Vegas. Champ Car’s management were busy all week in various locations and exhibit halls, providing the kind of service sponsors relish.  

In between the Main Hall and South Hall, the Champ Car Pace Car Team were putting on a display of their own at the Motor Week Proving Ground. They took guests on fast laps of this closed course, the slalom stretch on the North side drew many spectators as engines roared and tires squealed when their Mustangs tried to stay between the cones. This was indeed a big step for Champ Car but for someone that attends the SEMA show on a regular basis, it was a key step in the right direction. Mick Long

New Dallara for Cooper Tires FF 2000 Series New Dallara for Cooper Tires FF 2000 SeriesPalmetto, Florida –– Formula Motorsports Inc., promoter of the Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship, revealed today that it will celebrate the Formula's 25th year in style with the introduction of a state-of-the-art carbon fiber Dallara FF07USA chassis in time for the 2007 season. Dallara Automobile of Varano Melegari, Italy is one of the world leaders in the design and production of open-wheel racing cars. Since its formation in 1972, Dallara has produced cars for virtually every single-seater series on the planet, including Formula 1, the current F1 feeder series GP2, World Series by Renault and 10 different national Formula 3 championships, plus the IRL and Indy Pro Series in North America .

"We at Dallara are extremely pleased to bring a new chassis to North America, and play a role in the long successful history of Formula Ford 2000. It is our intention to work closely with the teams and drivers and FMI to ensure the quality and service that our company is known for around the world,” said Gian Paolo Dallara. zzzz

The new FF2000 design will be very similar to the car that has dominated Formula 3 since its introduction in Europe. The car also will incorporate an ultra-modern sequential no-lift shift 6 speed gearbox, FIA safety seat and of course, the Ford DOHC 2.0 Liter/Zetec engine which has proven to be so reliable and cost-effective since being introduced to Formula Ford 2000 in 2002 by Formula Motorsports. The FF07USA chassis is the result of extensive research and development including aerodynamic wind tunnel testing, 7 post shaker rig testing, rigorous FIA crash testing procedures, and the particular attention Dallara pays to the build quality of the finished product.  Consequently each rolling chassis has a retail price of over $100,000 US dollars.  FMI, however, has two new partners on board, who in order to launch the series will be able to offer the 1st twenty six chassis at a significantly subsidized price of $67,500 to ease the equipment change for clients.

"This is an important step for the Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship," said Jon Baytos, president of Formula Motorsports Inc., "and we are so excited to have such a fantastic machine as the Dallara-Ford available to us for 2007. The current breed of cars has served us extremely well and will still be featured strongly in 2007 with junior championships based on both the East and West Coasts, but we felt it was important to upgrade our technical package for the National Series to include a new carbon chassis and the very latest sequential shift gearbox so it will provide an even better motorsport experience for our drivers and teams who are looking to move up into the Champ Car Atlantic Championship and the Champ Car World Series. When it became clear that we had to upgrade our chassis, we looked at many different options but it always came back to Dallara. Their reputation around the world for safety, quality and service speaks for itself. Our fans, teams and drivers are in for a ride when they get a look at this little carbon chariot.

Fight breaks out after NASCAR race, Curione suspended Fight breaks out after NASCAR race, Curione suspendedUPDATE #2 Statement from James Rocco – Valvoline Evernham Racing, Designated Team Owner: “After a comprehensive internal review of the post-race incident between Kevin Harvick and a member of the #10 team, Valvoline Evernham Racing supports NASCAR’s decision to indefinitely suspend the involved crew member. We apologize to Kevin and DeLana Harvick, NASCAR, our partners and our fans for this incident. The behavior demonstrated by the involved crew member was in violation of the Valvoline Evernham Racing Employee Code of Conduct and will not be tolerated. We concur with NASCAR’s ruling and will not appeal the suspension or fine.” Evernham Motorsports/Clear!Blue PR

11/07/06 NASCAR has indefinitely suspended Craig “C.C.” Curione, the front tire carrier for Nextel Cup driver Scott Riggs’ No. 10 Dodge, for his participation in a postrace altercation Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway, the Observer has learned.

Curione was identified as the member of Riggs’ Evernham Motorsports crew who shoved driver Kevin Harvick from behind while he and his wife, DeLana, were walking from pit road toward the garage area after the Dickies 500, multiple sources confirmed.

The Harvicks and NASCAR official John Sacco all fell and landed in front of the No. 10’s crash cart, with the cart hitting Sacco and leaving him with a sprained ankle. The Harvicks were not hurt.

“NASCAR has been looking into this postrace incident since it occurred. It’s something we take very seriously,” series spokesman Kerry Tharp said. “An announcement regarding a course of action could come as early as Tuesday.”

On Lap 332 of the race, Harvick and Riggs were racing for position exiting Turn 4 when Harvick hit Riggs from behind, knocking him hard into the wall and demolishing his car. Riggs was not hurt. ThatsRacin.com

11/06/06 Emotions definitely flowed over to the post-race activities as the guys walked to the garage area. After the Dickies 500, the #10 and the #29 teams were coming down the entrance way to the garage area where all of the teams bring their pit boxes. There was an altercation between the #10 team and Kevin and DeLana Harvick. Apparently, Kevin and DeLana both got knocked down. NASCAR's Jim Hunter told me they are investigating the situation wholeheartedly and expects that there will be fined and penalties either Tuesday or Wednesday. "After the fact, right out of the moment, everybody's pretty hot-headed (and) got to running their mouth a little bit," Richard Childress Racing Director Mike Dillion said. "That's about all it was. Somebody got shoved, and they're sorting it out now. But they shoved Kevin and his wife down in front of the pit box is what was bad. Everybody out here has done it in their racing career at some point in time. It's just unfortunate. The guys need to let the drivers handle it. One of the NASCAR officials got hurt trying to stop the box," Dillion continued. "That's pretty bad, too. Hurt his ankle so they took him to the infield care center." A lot of people were called to the NASCAR trailer after this race, including Rodney Childers, the crew chief for Scott Riggs and the #10 team. He's responsible for the actions of everybody. DeLana and Kevin Harvick were both brought in as well. Several eyewitnesses were brought in. In fact, Roger Penske was up there talking to NASCAR President Mike Helton and Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby and everybody that was looking at the incident. FoxSports
Industry News
New chiefs announced for VW and Peugeot New chiefs announced for VW and PeugeotVolkswagen's chief executive Bernd Pischetsrieder is to leave Europe's biggest carmaker at the end of this year. He will be replaced by Audi's chief executive Martin Winterkorn. The news is a big surprise as Pischetsrieder had a contract extending to 2012. Winterkorn is a protégé of VW chairman Ferdinand Piech, who has been at odds with Pischetsrieder for some years. No reason for the change has been given. The board of the company will meet later this month to confirm Winterkorn's appointment.

French automaker Peugeot Citroen has named former Airbus chief executive Christian Streiff as its new boss. The current CEO Jean-Martin Folz is standing down soon after 10 years in the job and Streiff, who resigned from Airbus last month after just 99 days in the job. Now 52, Streiff worked with the Saint-Gobain construction materials company in his early career rising to become deputy chief executive before moving to Airbus in July this year. During his time with St Gobain he worked in many different fields in different countries including automotive supplies, composites, packaging, pipelines, abrasives, ceramics and high performance plastics. Grandprix.com

Industry News
Ghosn to speak in Detroit Ghosn to speak in DetroitCarlos Ghosn, whose turnaround of Nissan Motor Co. has sparked talk of him rescuing General Motors Corp. or Ford Motor Co., will speak to the Detroit Economic Club on Nov. 16, the club announced today.  Ghosn, president and chief executive of Nissan of Japan and Renault S.A. of France, will deliver a speech entitled "Inside the Alliance: The Win-Win Nature of a Unique Business Model" at Cobo Center in Detroit.
Rocketsports team aims for another good result Rocketsports team aims for another good result
Rolex 24 testing wraps up Rolex 24 testing wraps upThe final day of the two-day Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve test session at Daytona International Speedway brought more than just on-track action to the “World Center of Racing,” including the announcement that two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and defending IRL champion Sam Hornish, Jr. will join Michael Shank Racing in the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona. More....
Grand-Am video game contract announced Grand-Am video game contract announcedFusion Interactive announced an exclusive relationship with the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series for worldwide rights to develop, publish and distribute Grand-Am-branded interactive racing games through 2009.
This agreement allows Fusion Interactive to create interactive games on a number of gaming platforms, including PCs and consoles, using Grand-Am properties. Fusion Interactive will release the first title, “Grand-Am Racing 07”, at the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan 27th. “Grand-Am Racing 07” will be released as a PC game for 2007 and then we will expand to the console platform in 2008. zzzz
“We are excited by the relationship with Grand-Am,” said Fusion Interactive CEO Dennis Bainbridge. “We believe in the product Grand-Am is putting on the track and look forward to helping them expand their fan base.”
“Grand-Am Racing 07 is also going to break new ground on online gaming, marketing and distribution,” added Bainbridge. “We have created a unique online marketing and distribution model that will allow the race teams and sponsors to participate in the revenues. Our online gaming will also have some unique features not found in any other game currently on the market.”
“As a series, we have been focused on expanding our market,” said Grand American President Roger Edmonson. “The gaming industry is a very important part of our overall growth strategy. Additionally, Fusion Interactive was a natural choice for us. Their background in our series as well as their technical and management abilities will help Grand-Am reach its goals”
Fusion Interactive, LLC develops, markets, publishes and distributes interactive software racing simulation games for various platforms.  The Company was formed as a limited liability company under the laws of Delaware in 2006. Company operations are currently conducted through offices in Washington, D.C. and Vancouver, BC.
Rice hopes Mexico City race leads to full-time ride Rice hopes Mexico City race leads to full-time rideFormer Indy 500 winner Buddy Race has nothing set for next year and hopes that his results in this weekend's Champ Car race in Mexico City will lead to a full-time ride in 2007.

"My door has been wide open to the whole thing obviously. I want to stay in open wheel racing. That's been my whole thing. This is obviously an excellent opportunity for me to go drive a very competitive car in Champ Car, and basically that's been my whole goal is to make sure I put myself in a very competitive open wheel car so I can go run up front. Jerry Forsythe has given me that opportunity. There's definitely a lot of things that can happen here, and everything is wide open right now. I don't have anything set in stone.

"I definitely want to drive open wheel cars, and this would be a good fit for me. We'd have to see what everybody else thinks within the team and what Jerry thinks and what they're looking at for the future, but I'm definitely excited to be doing this, and this is, like I said, a huge opportunity."

track news
Texas tickets on sale this week Texas tickets on sale this weekThe first opportunity to purchase individual tickets for the IndyCar Series' annual visit to Texas Motor Speedway begins at 9 a.m. on Nov. 8.

Tickets for the Bombardier Learjet 500k IndyCar Series event on June 9 will be available for purchase at the speedway's main ticket office, online at www.texasmotorspeedway.com, by calling the speedway ticket hotline at (817) 215-8500 or at participating Ticketmaster locations.

"We already have the momentum going for what will be a very exciting season in 2007, and I encourage our fans to get their tickets early," TMS President Eddie Gossage said. "Those choice seats will go fast."

Cunningham joins A1 Team New Zealand Cunningham joins A1 Team New Zealand2005 Indy Pro Series champion Wade Cunningham joins New Zealand's A1GP World Cup of Motorsport team in China this week to fill the recently created Friday test role in the lead-up to the third round in Beijing Nov. 10-12.

Under an initiative introduced to encourage franchises to give promising young drivers A1GP experience, drivers under the age of 25 can test with their national team on the Friday before an event up to three times.
Cunningham, a 22-year-old Auckland, New Zealand native who won the World Karting Championship in Italy in 2003 and the Indy Pro Series championship in 2005, was invited to join A1 Team New Zealand at the pre-season test at Silverstone in the United Kingdom in late August, and with his experience on ovals and temporary courses in the United States was considered the ideal candidate for the Friday test role on the temporary Beijing street circuit.

"From the map, it looks fairly standard for a temporary circuit - plenty of 90 degree corners, one fast sweeper and one very long straight," said Cunningham, who led the Indy Pro Series with four victories in 2006. "Something else that may well be a factor is the weather. I've been keeping an eye on the temperatures over there and by the look of things it is going to be freezing."

Lopez quickest at wet Jerez Lopez quickest at wet JerezJose Maria Lopez was fastest at the end the second day of testing in Jerez in wet conditions.

Bruno Senna had excelled in torrential conditions during the morning session to be quickest at the lunch break. The

Afternoon times:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Jose Maria Lopez BCN Competicion 1.32.894 40
 2. Lucas Di Grassi ART Grand Prix 1.32.948 33
 3. Luiz Razia Racing Engineering 1.33.231 33
 4. Bruno Senna iSport International 1.33.431 30
 5. Christian Bakkerud Super Nova International 1.33.872 32
 6. Andy Soucek ART Grand Prix 1.33.989 28
 7. Timo Glock Trident Racing 1.34.092 37
 8. Javier Villa Racing Engineering 1.34.616 32
 9. Adrian Zaugg Arden International 1.35.349 32
10. Vitaly Petrov BCN Competicion 1.35.500 32 zzzz
11. Luca Filippi Arden International 1.35.695 35
12. Antonio Pizzonia Petrol Ofisi Fms 1.35.804 11
13. Mike Conway iSport International 1.35.841 16
14. Nicolas Lapierre Dams 1.36.033 13
15. Alexandre Negrao Piquet Sport 1.36.553 31
16. Kohei Hirate Trident Racing 1.37.034 30
17. Stephen Jelley DPR 1.38.110 27
18. Ricardo Risatti Campos Racing 1.38.210 32
19. Gavin Cronje DPR 1.38.461 15
20. Bruce Jouanny Super Nova International 1.40.244 25
21. Kazuki Nakajima Dams 1.42.884 32
22. Roldan Rodriguez Piquet Sport 1.42.887 31
23. Hiroki Yoshimoto Durango 1.44.592 28
24. Jason Tahinci FMS International 1.44.768 24
25. Giorgio Pantano Campos Racing 1.44.863 11
26. Alberto Valerio Durango 1.45.409 16
27. Dani Clos FMS International 1.46.489 8

Morning times:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Bruno Senna   iSport International   1:45.050 19
 2. Giorgio Pantano   Campos Racing   1:45.449 13
 3. Antonio Pizzonia FMS International   1:45.743 13
 4. Andy Soucek   ART Grand Prix   1:45.826 21
 5. Lucas Di Grassi   ART Grand Prix   1:45.952 23
 6. Mike Conway   iSport International   1:46.408 10
 7. Kazuki Nakajima   Dams   1:46.521 21
 8. Gavin Cronje   DPR   1:46.696 11
 9. Nicolas Lapierre Dams   1:46.755 25
10. Stephen Jelley   DPR   1:46.938 20
11. Hiroki Yoshimoto Durango   1:47.020 18
12. Timo Glock   Trident Racing   1:47.053 22
13. Alexandre Negrao Piquet Sports   1:47.108 25
14. Vitaly Petrov   BCN Competicion   1:47.201 16
15. Luiz Razia   Racing Engineering   1:47.606 21
16. Kohei Hirate   Trident Racing   1:47.693 16
17. Javier Villa   Racing Engineering   1:47.809 22
18. Christian Bakkerud Super Nova International 1:47.934 21
19. Alberto Valerio   Durango   1:48.430 17
20. Jason Tahinci   FMS International   1:48.586 17
21. Ricardo Risatti   Campos Racing   1:48.750 21
22. Bruce Jouanny   Super Nova International 1:48.863 20
23. Jose Maria Lopez BCN Competicion   1:50.419 9
24. Roldan Rodriguez Piquet Sports   1:50.535 18
25. Adrian Zaugg   Arden International   1:52.594 9
26. Luca Filippi   Arden International   1:53.714 9

Grand-Am announces rules for next generation car builders Grand-Am announces rules for next generation car buildersBuilding on a foundation that has seen the Daytona Prototype division of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve produce some of the best sports car racing in history, Grand American Road Racing President Roger Edmondson revealed today plans that will lead the organization’s premier class into its next generation of competition and growth.

Edmondson made the announcements on the last of two days of testing at Daytona International Speedway where 40 Rolex Series teams and more than 75 different drivers began preparations for the 2007 season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 27 – 28.  After debuting in the 2003 running of the 24-hour classic at the “World Center of Racing,” the Daytona Prototype class has grown to be the biggest and most competitive class in top-tier North American sports car racing.  The category will begin its fifth season with the 2007 Rolex 24, but much of the ground work for the following five years of competition was recently finalized in a Daytona Prototypes constructors meeting at Grand American headquarters last month.

“We have been incredibly pleased with the amazing growth and wide-spread acceptance of the Daytona Prototype division since its introduction just a few years ago,” Edmondson said.  “Not only was the Daytona Prototype formula the success we knew it would be, it also grew quicker than we originally anticipated.  This is due primarily to the great competition and close racing the category produced from its onset, and we must work hard to maintain this same balanced platform for success in the future.  The first five years of any business cycle are critical and a key part in the final phase of that time span is properly planning for the next five-years of operation.  We believe we have done a good job in preparing for the future with some of the rules and regulations unveiled today.” zzzz

Existing Daytona Prototype Constructor Agreements will conclude at the end of the 2007 season to make way for the next five-year agreement period that will span from 2008 through 2012.  Only constructors that have at least one entry in one race in 2007 will be eligible for renewal, while the new agreement period that commences in 2008 calls for each manufacturer to have at least two representative entries in each event in order to maintain approved status for the duration of the agreement.  

Prior to the new agreement period, existing constructors may request approval to transfer their license to build Daytona Prototypes to another entity by September 1, 2007.  However, all existing race cars and designs will remain eligible for competition from 2008 through 2012, regardless if an existing constructor continues in an approved capacity in the next agreement period.

“We made it clear to the constructors and competitors that made a commitment in the beginning that Daytona Prototypes would be eligible for a long period of time,” Edmondson said.  “At the same time, we feel the need to allow approved constructors to introduce certain bodywork changes or an entirely new body design within the existing parameters of the rules in order to keep the designs fresh and contemporary.”

To that end, each approved constructor for the 2008 through 2012 period may submit for approval new or modified body designs by the same September 1, 2007 deadline.  Any approved changes or new designs must be available from the constructors to all customers for use in competition by January 1, 2008.  Current Daytona Prototype chassis will remain unchanged and any new or modified body designs must comply with current regulations and fit the existing chassis.

Another feature element of the next generation Daytona Prototype agreement is the provision for approved engine manufacturers to submit exclusive body designs to run with a single chassis of their choice.  “Manufacturer” body designs may only be used in combination with the manufacturer’s engine and only one such option per automaker is allowed.  September 1 of next year is also the deadline for any manufacturer to submit designs.

“As the Daytona Prototype category has grown in popularity, we have been approached by several top automobile manufacturers from around the world who have expressed an interest in running like race car and engine combinations,” Edmondson said.  “Although our approved partners will remain the only constructors eligible to build Daytona Prototype chassis, the fact that manufacturers can now submit identifiable bodywork to complement their engines has been met with preliminarily positive feedback.”

In other Daytona Prototype developments, Sabre Innovations has been approved as a new chassis constructor commencing with the 2008 season.  Sabre plans to build its design that was originally submitted in 2003 and must comply with the minimum two entries provision throughout its first season to maintain approved status.  Sabre has also been granted a provision to submit any new body designs by September 1, 2008 which will keep them consistent with the opportunities offered to existing constructors.

Sabre will be the first constructor to be added to the list of approved Daytona Prototype chassis constructors since the initial group of seven in 2003.  That list includes Riley Technologies, Doran Designs, Crawford Race Cars, Fabcar Engineering, Chase Competition Engineering, Picchio and Multimatic. Grand-Am

Industry News
Mercedes sales off 3.5% Mercedes sales off 3.5%DaimlerChrysler AG said today that sales of vehicles from its Mercedes Car Group dipped 3.5% in October, dragged down by a drop in demand for its two-seat Smart car.

The German-American automaker said that in October, it sold 102,500 vehicles under the Mercedes, Smart and Maybach brands, with buyers in North America and Asia countering the downturn.

In North America, DaimlerChrysler sold 22,600 vehicles in October, up 11.8 percent from the same time a year ago. In Asia, 9,300 vehicles were sold, up 2.4 percent from October 2005.

But in western Europe, the Mercedes Car Group sold 64,100 vehicles, down 10.2 percent from October 2005.

During the first 10 months, vehicle deliveries from the Mercedes Car Group to customers increased by 4.8 percent to the record figure of 1.03 million from 989,300 in the first 10 months of 2005.

By brand, the company said that the Mercedes-Benz brand sold 94,200 passenger cars in October worldwide, matching the figure from last year, driven in part by demand for its E- and S-class models.

In the U.S. market last month, Mercedes-Benz registered a sales increase, rising 12% to 20,600 cars sold. In the January-October period, deliveries rose by 13% to a record 197,600 cars.

The Smart brand delivered 8,300 vehicles to customers worldwide in October 2006, down 31 percent on the year, as customers waited for the model changeover in 2007. Detroit Free Press

Industry News
GM reports less losses than thought GM reports less losses than thoughtGeneral Motors Corp. said today that its third-quarter loss was $24 million less than previously reported because of additional loan sales by its financing arm.  In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the world’s biggest automaker said it lost $91 million in the three months ending Sept. 30. On Oct. 25, GM said it lost $115 million in the quarter.  “The reduction in net loss is attributable to additional loan sales that had not been previously reported” by General Motors Acceptance Corp., GM said in its filing.  GM’s sale of a 51 percent stake in GMAC is pending.
Industry News
Toyota to buy stake in Isuzu Toyota to buy stake in IsuzuToyota Motor Corp. is buying a 5.9 percent stake in Japanese truckmaker and former General Motors Corp. ally Isuzu Motors Ltd. as part of a new deal for the manufacturers to collaborate in engine technology, officials said Tuesday.  Isuzu had long been tied to GM, but the cash-strapped U.S. automaker sold its entire 7.9 percent stake in Isuzu in April, although the companies have maintained some partnerships.

Toyota and Isuzu plan to work together in researching and developing small diesel engines, including cooperating on emission-control technologies as well as alternative fuel technologies, they said in a statement.

Toyota is buying 100 million Isuzu shares -- 60 million owned by Mitsubishi Corp. and 40 million from Itochu Corp., both Japanese trading companies.

Greg Moore award nominees announced Greg Moore award nominees announcedThe 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season has seen a number of new talents and fresh faces emerge in the top level of open-wheel racing, but as the season comes to a close it is fitting that the series continues to recognize those that helped make Champ Car one of the most popular forms of racing in the world.

The annual Greg Moore Legacy Award is one way that Champ Car pays homage to its past, honoring the mercurial Canadian star that lost his life during a 1999 race at California Speedway. The award, now in its seventh year, honors the driver who most typifies Moore’s distinctive combination of on-track talent and dynamic personality that led him to become a favorite among the fans, the media and everyone involved with Champ Car racing. zzzz

The award winner is determined by a select board of Champ Car personnel, along with media and fan voting, with the honoree being chosen from a list of four nominees.

Champ Car World Series stars Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Nelson Philippe (#4 CTE Racing – HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) were selected as this year’s nominees from the series along with Champ Car Atlantic Championship competitor James Hinchcliffe (#3 Emexis/INDECK).

A seven-year veteran of the Champ Car, Tagliani was part of the same Player’s/Forsythe program that Moore raced with, although the two never competed directly against each other. Tagliani has been one of the driving forces in Team Australia’s success in the last two seasons, earning four podium finishes including a popular third-place finish in Australia two weeks ago. The Canadian driver can secure a top-ten berth in the final standings this weekend in the season finale despite the fact that he missed a race for the first time in his career, sitting out the Milwaukee event after an accident in practice.

Wilson, like Tagliani, has battled back from an injury this year as he returns to his RuSPORT machine for the season finale after missing the Australia race with a broken wrist. Wilson scored a win in Edmonton this year and needs to finish seventh or better in the finale to move into second place in the standings.

Philippe has had a breakout season in 2006, just one year after being named the winner of the Bosch Most Improved Driver Award. The flamboyant Frenchman became the youngest driver in Champ Car history to win a race – an honor once held by Moore – when he took the checkered flag in Australia two weeks ago, giving CTE Racing – HVM its first win in more than two seasons.

Hinchcliffe is the one of the latest Canadian open-wheel prodigies to follow in Moore’s footsteps, scoring a victory in Portland and taking the pole in Montreal in his first season in Champ Car Atlantic competition with Forsythe Championship Racing’s new Atlantic squad. The popular driver has also displayed his skills off the track as well in 2006, serving ably as the color analyst on the international Champ Car race broadcasts.

Fans can participate in the voting for this year’s Greg Moore Legacy Award by visiting the official website of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcar.ws. The voting will take place in the ‘fan poll’ section on the front page of the website. Voting will close on the website at noon Eastern Time, Monday, November 13.

Michael Shank Racing signs Penske drivers Michael Shank Racing signs Penske driversThe 2006 debut for the Flight Options Lexus Riley of Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson went nearly perfectly to plan, as the two opened up the season with a strong second place in the Rolex 24 At Daytona with co-drivers A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson.
Negri and Patterson went on to take a fine first victory at Miller Motorsports Park to close out the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series season.  The professional driver and gentleman racer combination are looking to make it to the top step of the podium once again, this time in the biggest race of the year.
To that end, team owner Mike Shank announced today the signing of Penske Racing teammates Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves to co-drive the No.60 Flight Options Lexus-powered Riley entry with Negri and Patterson in the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Hornish and Castroneves have three Indianapolis 500 victories between them, and will be looking to add a Rolex 24 At Daytona win to their already impressive racing resumes.
The assembly of winning drivers is a kind of homecoming on several fronts for the Columbus, Ohio-based team. zzzz 
Hornish, a native of Defiance, Ohio, ran for Shank in Toyota Atlantic competition in 1999 on his way up the ladder towards success in the IndyCar Series, winning one race and taking “Rookie of the Year” honors.  Hornish made his Rolex 24 debut that same year, co-driving with Shank in the team owner’s final race outing as a driver.
Hornish recently raced on the 3.65-mile infield road course at Daytona in June, taking fifth in the IROC Series return to road racing. Hornish, who won his first Indianapolis 500 win and his third career IndyCar Series championship this year, is hoping to get his 2007 season off to a competitive start.
“Winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona would be a great way to kick off the 2007 season,” said Hornish. “The list of people that have won the Rolex 24 and the Indianapolis 500 is pretty short. It would be pretty special if Helio and I were able to add our names to that list. I am also excited to race with Mike (Shank) again. The team’s recent success and their experience in the Rolex Sports Car Series will prove to be invaluable as we attempt to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona.”
Castroneves and Negri have known each other since their karting days as young men with big dreams back in Brazil and despite their divergent paths in the sport, the two Miami-based Brazilians have remained friends. The Rolex event will mark the Rolex Sports Car Series debut for Castroneves.
“I’ve been talking with Mike (Shank) for a long time, and I am really happy things worked out for me to be racing with this team. They have a lot of experience in this kind of racing and can teach me what I need to know,” said Castroneves.  “I am good friends with Oz, and I’m looking forward to having a good time with all the drivers, but I’m more focused on going for a win. We race on a lot of tracks with banking, but Daytona is like nothing you can imagine, so I’m really glad to have this opportunity.”
In his first full season of Rolex competition, car owner Patterson scored the Trueman Award in 2006 as Grand American recognized the best-performing gentleman racer. The South African-born businessman relished his debut on the Rolex 24 podium last year, but is looking to make it to the top step this time around.
“There is an incredible amount of preparation that goes into a race like the 24, and Mike showed last year that this team can go wheel to wheel with some of the biggest names in the sport, and just like at Miller Motorsports Park this year, we want to claim the victory spot at Daytona,” said Patterson. “Sam and Helio are going to be an important part of this effort, and we are excited that they are teaming up with us.”
The 2007 event will mark the 45th running of the twice around the clock classic, and will once again see the best of the best from across the motorsports spectrum take on one of the greatest challenges in the sport. 
“Finishing second last year really put us on the map and after winning the last race of the season, we are really focused on success in the 24,” said Patterson. “It was satisfying to finish the race with such a strong result, but of course we want to go for the win and know we have all the ingredients we need to achieve that.”
With a fourth place finish in the DP class in 2004 and 2006’s second place result, Michael Shank Racing knows what it takes to get to the finish of the grueling event and is focused on going one better in 2007.
“I’m just really excited about our lineup and the whole team has a lot of confidence not just from how we ended the season, but also from how we were able to perform in this race last year,” said Shank.  “This race is a huge challenge for everyone involved and you never know what you are going to be fighting, but we feel like we’re going down there with our guns loaded.”
A1GP first to race on streets of Beijing A1GP first to race on streets of BeijingBeijing - In its second season of competition A1GP World Cup of Motorsport continues to push the traditional frontiers of motorsport. This week, A1GP will become the first-ever motorsport series to race in Beijing when the cars take to the street circuit in the south east of the Chinese capital.

The third event of the 2006/07 season will take place on a 3.1km street circuit around the Jingkai exhibition centre in the industrial area of Beijing’s Economic and Technological Development Zone, approximately 20 minutes’ drive from the city centre from 10-12 November. The circuit, which has been provisionally approved by FIA Race Director and Safety Delegate, Charlie Whiting, features long straights and a tight hairpin bend that allows just one car at a time. With a new surface and dusty conditions, there could be some spectacular racing as teams fight for position on the narrow track.

With the Olympic Games scheduled to take place in Beijing in 2008, the historic race is one of the first steps in a long-term plan to host major, high-profile events to establish the city as a centre for international sports to realize sustainable growth in the post-Olympics economic period. With a capacity for 25,000 people in the grandstands alone, the race will be the biggest motorsport event the capital has ever witnessed. zzzz

The race has received significant backing from the Chinese government, the General Administration of Sports China (GASC) and the Automobile & Motorcycle Sports Administration Centre. “We couldn’t have hosted the race without the considerable support and guidance of the GASC and Chinese authorities,” A1GP chief operating officer David Clare commented, “The race is a fantastic opportunity for all involved: for Beijing to promote itself as a world-class sporting venue and for Chinese fans to have another opportunity to see a top racing series. The race will also broaden A1GP’s reach and audience. To hold two races in one of the fastest-growing economies in the world is a significant marketing and business tool for the series and its teams.”

The third race of the A1GP season takes place in the onset of the Chinese winter and conditions are expected to be variable – expect anything from rain, sleet and freezing temperatures to bright, crisp sunshine. It’s also highly possible that the temperatures will be just above freezing: the climate can still be harsh as the winds come down from the Arctic over the desert steppes.

The second season of A1GP has so far been as unpredictable as the Beijing weather. With three different winners from four races, competition has been fierce and the championship is still wide open. South Africa and Germany scored a win apiece in Zandvoort, with Malaysia’s Alex Yoong sealing a double win in Brno, the first clean sweep of event wins for a team since Mexico won both the Sprint and the Feature race in Laguna Seca last March.

Yoong will face tough opposition however to score a third straight win, as Zandvoort Sprint race winner, 19-year-old Adrian Zaugg of South Africa, returns to the Vulindlela car in Beijing. German rookie, Nico Hulkenberg, will also be eager to hold Germany’s overall lead in the team’s championship, however he faces a steep learning curve as Beijing will only be his second-ever street race.

The weekend’s racing action kicks off with the rookie driver and developing nations’ session on Friday 10 November from 11.00 to 12.00. All teams can take part in the later practice session from 14.00 to 15.00. Final practice and qualifying for the Sprint race will take place on Saturday, with the Sprint and Feature races scheduled for Sunday 12 November at 11.00 and 15.00 respectively.


Olympic glory – Beijing will host the 2008 Olympic Games next summer in a spectacular new stadium christened the Bird’s Nest due to its distinctive ‘hatched’ construction, and a swimming complex nicknamed the Watercube. On Thursday 9 November A1GP drivers will have a truly VIP opportunity to see the Watercube when they will be given a behind-the-scenes tour of the building. The access is usually reserved for members of state and visiting dignitaries – so best behavior boys!

The old and the new – From Beijing onwards the first official practice session will be open to rookie drivers under 28 or those from developing motorsport nations to allow more track time to inexperienced pilots and teams. The session will also take place at the slightly earlier time of 11.00-11.25 and 11.35-12.00 to give more time to analyze performance and optimize set-up. The new ruling has opened up the session to more drivers, including Fairuz Fauzy of Malaysia and Marcel Fassler of Switzerland, who makes his A1GP debut this weekend. There’s also a new qualifying format for the Feature race; as per last year, the results of the Sprint race will determine the grid for Feature race.

We are the world, we are the people – Ryan Hunter-Reay will also make his A1GP debut this weekend when he races for A1 Team USA. The 25-year-old from Dallas, Texas, has previously been competing in the Champ Car World Series in the States, in which he won two races.

Home run – Chinese driver Congfu Cheng will have a special impetus to do well this weekend; it’s the 22-year-old’s home race. Congfu, or ‘Frankie’ as he’s known in racing circles, hails from Beijing. He’s never raced in his home town before however, as he moved to the UK to further his racing career in 2001. Frankie’s had considerable success in Europe, becoming Vice Champion of the Formula Renault UK Winter Series, and the first-ever Chinese driver to win a race in the world’s most competitive junior single-seater category. He also became the first Chinese McLaren F1 driver when he drove a lap of the Brno circuit in 2004.

Bringing motorsport to the masses – Surveys conducted by A1GP’s media buying agency have shown that 16.4 per cent of the Chinese population are motorsport fans. With the Chinese population rated at 1.3 billion people, that’s more than 20 million people who could be interested in the race!

Points mean prizes – It’s tough at the top; there has been 15 changes of leader in the four races so far. Over 56 per cent of teams have opened their championship account too; scoring points in one of the four races.

Birthday boy –Adrian Zaugg of South Africa celebrates his 20th birthday on the day before the race. Happy birthday Adrian!

Racing News
New racing coaching start-up New racing coaching start-upStanding Start is a new company offering high level coaching services to racecar drivers looking for the unfair advantage. To succeed in any sport requires coaching, and racing is no different. Standing Start offers at track coaching that covers all the bases. The company focuses on racing, testing, marketing, sponsorship, networking, fitness, mental preparation skills as well as giving a driver-side understanding on vehicle and team dynamics.
Standing Start will be headed up by General Manager John Olsen. For the past two race seasons, while acting as Speed Secret’s Coaching Services Manager, Olsen has been coaching Ace Carrio in the World Speed Motorsports Pro Formula Mazda. “Having John work with Ace and the team has been extremely beneficial,” said Team Owner Telo Stewart. “We knew that we would like to work with John even after Ace moved up through the ranks, and as soon as his current contract was up we began discussing working with him on a more permanent basis.” zzzz

“Olsen has assembled an elite group of coaches who can be made available at any event or location, and this is something our drivers have been asking us for,” stated WSM Team Manager Mark Milazzo. As Olsen’s team and plan was being formed the WSM management team began discussions to see how they could help. After a few meetings it became clear that Olsen’s plan was solid and only required some administrative assistance to get off the ground. ITS Enterprises, LLC the parent company of World Speed Motorsports made an offer to Olsen to assist with all administration, logistics, and branding. As part of the partnership Standing Start will provide full time coaches to the 2007 World Speed Motorsports Star Mazda North American Championship team.

“I really would like to thank ITS and WSM for partnering with me to get Standing Start off the ground. They have been a big help to me by providing the infrastructure to get the program up and running. Now the Standing Start coaches and myself can really focus on what we do best – develop championship winning drivers” commented Olsen. “My time working at WSM coaching Ace has been a fantastic two years, I am looking forward to continuing out partnership next season and beyond” “WSM is the complete race team, and they provide the best tools and environment for a driver to reach his goals. It is an honor for Standing Start to partner with WSM” stated Olsen.

For more information on Standing Start visit: http://www.standingstart.com

Industry News
GM sees little threat from Toyota trucks GM sees little threat from Toyota trucksGeneral Motors Corp. Vice Chairman Robert Lutz said Toyota's redesigned Tundra pickup, hitting showrooms in February, is likely to be a strong seller, but GM doesn't expect to cede much market share to the Asian automaker.

"They'll do well," Lutz said in a brief interview with reporters Monday in Washington, but he doesn't think the Tundra will steal much from GM's full-size truck sales, which add up to about 1 million units annually.

Toyota Motor Corp. will open an $850 million, 2.2-million-square-foot manufacturing facility next week in San Antonio, where the Japanese automaker will begin building the pickups, which are bigger than previous versions of the Tundra and more competitive with GM, Ford and Dodge trucks.  With the new Tundra, Toyota is taking on Detroit's Big Three in one of the most profitable vehicle segments, one they have long dominated.

Ford's F-series sales -- 901,000 in 2005 -- rose 3 percent in October but are off 10.2 percent for the year. Chevy's big pickup sales are down 10.8 percent through October. zzzz

In September, Don Esmond, senior vice president of automotive operations at Toyota Motor Sales USA, told The Detroit News the automaker wants to double Tundra volume with the 2007 model.

Sales of the current Tundra rose 17.1 percent in October, to just over 10,000 units.

Lutz said Toyota was relying on heavy incentives to sell the pickup.

GM's new 2007 Silverado, meanwhile, got off to a strong start with sales up 104 percent last month. The vehicle debuted in mid-October.

"The customers will decide," LaNeve said Monday. "I do know that we have done a sensational job of listening to our customers."

Toyota spokeswoman Denise Morrissey agreed the market will decide, but said the automaker expects to sell 200,000 Tundras next year, up from about 126,000 in 2005. Through October, Toyota has sold about 100,000 Tundras.

Morrissey noted that when Dodge launched a redesigned Ram in 1994, sales tripled as 215,000 buyers switched to Dodge. Detroit News

Industry News
Another exec leaves Ford Another exec leaves FordMarketing executive Martin Collins has left Ford Motor Co. to join the auto dealer chain Group 1 Automotive Inc., becoming the latest in a series of high-level executives to leave the automaker.
Collins, 43, was executive director of marketing for the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands. He was a major force behind Ford's "Bold Moves" marketing campaign, as well as the just-launched "Lincoln Dreams" campaign.

A number of other senior executives have left Ford since Chairman Bill Ford Jr. in September hired Boeing Co. executive Alan Mulally to replace him as chief executive officer and lead a corporate turnaround.

They include Anne Stevens, former chief operating officer of Ford's Americas group, and Steve Hamp, who was Bill Ford's chief of staff.

Ford has offered buyout packages to 85 percent of its white-collar employees and hopes to eliminate 10,000 salaried jobs over the next year. Detroit News

Industry News
Toyota reports record profits Toyota reports record profitsToyota Motor Corp. reported this morning record profits and sales for the first six months of its fiscal year, driven largely by increased demand for its vehicles in North America.

Toyota’s profits increased 36.2% to 777.2 billion yen, or $6.6 billion, for the six months ended Sept. 30. For that period, Toyota sold 4.15 million vehicles worldwide, an increase of 312,000 vehicles from the same time a year ago.

In North America, sales reached 1.46 million, an increase of 219 thousand units.

“For the first half, Toyota posted record consolidated results across the board,” Toyota Executive Vice President Mitsuo Kinoshita said in a statement. “Our first half revenues exceeded ten trillion yen and operating income exceeded one trillion yen for the first time. We believe our efforts to build a solid operational foundation contributed to these results.” Detroit Free Press

Racing News
Jeff Ward wins AMA Championship Jeff Ward wins AMA ChampionshipJeff Ward won the AMA Supermoto championship Sunday with a victory in the season finale on a temporary track at the Queen Mary.  Ward, ridding a Troy Lee Designs Honda CRF450R, finished second to Mark Burkhart in the first race and beat Doug Henry in the second.  It marked the second AMA Supermoto title for Ward, a 45-year-old veteran racer from Newport Beach. He also won the championship in 2004.

"It's been a great season," said Ward, who won a gold medal in the X-Games this summer and was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame. "After losing the championship in the last race last year, I dedicated myself to winning it back. I've got to take them while I can. At 45, I probably don't have too many chances left."

Ward is a former AMA Motocross and Supercross champion and was the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 1997.

Renault vow to stay in F1 Renault vow to stay in F1(GMM) Renault has pledged to stay in Formula One for the long haul.

The French squad, having won the drivers' and constructors' double with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006, was only a short time ago rumored to be eyeing the sport's nearest exit.

Whispers of the story resurfaced in recent months amid reports that the carmaker's road car profits fell up to 25 per cent in 2006.

But having vowed to sign the new 2008-2012 Concorde agreement and also pull out of the 'GPMA' manufacturers' alliance, Renault chiefs are keen to spread the news that the Enstone and Viry-based team is here to stay.

"For Renault, this is an investment -- and an investment that aids the growth of the Renault brand and Renault's products," said company CEO Carlos Ghosn.

He added that Alonso's back-to-back crown 'justifies the investment' of the Boulogne-Billancourt based French manufacturer.

Meanwhile, the F1 team's president Alain Dassas told Speed TV on Monday that Renault will be on the grid 'for good'.

BMW confirm Vettel to drive at GPs in 2007 BMW confirm Vettel to drive at GPs in 2007(GMM) BMW-Sauber has confirmed reports that Sebastian Vettel will appear in a third Formula One car for the team at grands prix in 2007.

The rumor was first aired at the Brazilian Grand Prix, despite the demise of the rule allowing test drivers to use an extra car in practice sessions on Friday.

With only two cars allowed in each of the two 90 minute Friday sessions at races next year, it is therefore likely that Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica will take turns at vacating their race cars for the teenage German.

Theissen is understood to have ruled out switching drivers between cars during the sessions.

"We will see how much time we give him," motor sport director Mario Theissen said.

"From a team perspective it is important to have the three drivers up to the game because if anything happens to the race drivers (Sebastian) has to step in immediately and perform.

"From a team's perspective, it is not disruptive, it is a help."

Vettel's involvement with the Formula One team at races will almost certainly preclude him from racing in the GP2 championship in 2007, which is held mostly on the grand prix weekends.

Fisichella aims for 2007 title Fisichella aims for 2007 title(GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella says he will be among the top challengers for the world championship next year.

The veteran Roman, who was title winner Fernando Alonso's teammate in 2005 and 2006, is to be partnered at the Renault squad next year by Finnish rookie Heikki Kovalainen.

"I'm confident of winning the world championship," he told the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I will be a main player along with Raikkonen and Alonso."

33-year-old Fisichella is confident that the departure of Alonso to McLaren could be to his benefit.

He added: "I'm aware that next year I will have at my disposal a great car and a great team, who I've already worked with for two years so I know them well."

BMW rejects Ralf rumor again BMW rejects Ralf rumor again(GMM)  Mario Theissen has repeated his denial that formula one team BMW-Sauber would like to put Ralf Schumacher in a Hinwil-built car in the near future.

Although the German squad has already confirmed Robert Kubica alongside Nick Heidfeld for the 2007 season, speculation persists that team boss Theissen is keen to some day reunite Schumacher with BMW.

Ralf, 31, raced a BMW-powered Williams between 2000 and 2004.

Theissen dismissed the latest press reports by saying: "I can't imagine the writer was having his readers on, so I guess somebody was having the writer on."

How the Chase contenders faired How the Chase contenders fairedThe penultimate race in the 2006 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Sunday’s Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, sets the stage for the season-finale Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks. It also will begin with a new standings leader – Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) – at a flat, tight track favored by many Chase participants.

• For the second time in the 2006 Chase, all 10 competitors switched positions – this time following last Sunday’s event at Texas Motor Speedway. The previous instance occurred after the first Chase event, at New Hampshire International Speedway. Only 105 points separate the top five drivers.

• Johnson is the fourth driver to lead the 2006 Chase standings. He leads second-place Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWalt Power Tools Ford) by 17 points. Johnson finished second at Texas; Kenseth, 12th. Johnson had trailed Kenseth by 26 points prior to last Sunday’s event at Texas.
• This is the second-closest margin between first and second place – with two races remaining – since the current point system took effect in 1975. The closest such margin came in 1979, when Richard Petty held an eight-point lead over Darrell Waltrip with two races remaining. zzzz

• Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) jumped one spot to third following a sixth-place finish at Texas. He trails Johnson by 78 points and Kenseth by 17. Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet), who fell one spot to fourth, trails Earnhardt Jr. by only two points.

• Fifth-place Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) and sixth-place Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) each gained a spot to remain in contention for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series title. Harvick finished third at Texas and trails Johnson by 105 points. Gordon finished ninth and trails Johnson by 157 points.

• Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet) lost the most spots (two) following an accident-marred 38th-place finish at Texas. He fell to seventh, 184 points behind Johnson.
• Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet) gained the most spots of any Chase participant, climbing two positions to eighth following a fourth-place Texas finish. He trails Johnson by 233 points.

Rolex 24 testing underway at Daytona Rolex 24 testing underway at DaytonaA total of 25 teams and 40 cars from the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve took to the 3.56-mile, 14-turn road course of Daytona International Speedway Monday for the first of a two-day test session in preparation for the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

The test was designed so that teams could get acclimated to the new BOSCH electronic control unit (ECU), which will be mandatory on all Daytona Prototypes beginning next season and on all GT machines by mid-year. Turning laps at Daytona Monday was a mix of Rolex Series regulars and potential newcomers, looking to solidify deals for January’s twice-around-the-clock classic.

Italian hotshoe Max Angelelli—the 2005 Daytona Prototype co-champion and Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winner—turned the fastest lap of the day in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley with a 1:43.728 (123.554 mph) in the afternoon session. Patrick Long turned the second-quickest lap in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Porsche Crawford for Alex Job Racing with a lap time of 1:44.202 (122.992 mph). In the GT class, Germany’s Wolf Henzler turned the fastest lap, a 1:52.982 (113.434 mph) in the No. 72 Tafel Racing Porsche GT3.

Testing at the “World Center of Racing” will continue Tuesday, with cars scheduled to be on-track from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with an hour-long break for lunch at 12 p.m. noon. zzzz

Champ Car World Series rookie Katherine Legge made her first laps in a Daytona Prototype on Monday, running in the No. 84 Robinson Racing 74 Ranch Resort Pontiac Riley.

“Obviously, it’s one of those races that no matter where you are in the world you’ve heard of,” Legge said. “It’s definitely something I’ve wanted to get involved in. I’m very fortunate to be here right now. They’re interesting looking cars. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever driven. It will be a good experience for me. At the end of the day, driving anything you can get you hands on is always good experience, and it adds to making you a better driver.”

Legge plans to co-drive in the Rolex 24 with brothers Paul and Wally Dallenbach, along with owner-driver George Robinson. Paul Dallenbach also spent time in the car on Monday before Legge spent the bulk of the afternoon behind the wheel.

“It was a lot of fun,” Legge said of her first experience in a Daytona Prototype. “I’m taking it easy at this stage. I don’t want to do anything stupid. I’m getting used to the car and which way the track goes. I like the track. The car’s a lot of fun to drive. It’s very different to what I’m used to. The team is doing a great job, and obviously Paul’s (Dallenbach) being very helpful with all of his experience.”

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor Bill Lester was back at Daytona International Speedway Monday, turning laps in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley. Lester turned his first laps aboard a Daytona Prototype earlier this year also at the “World Center of Racing.”

The team announced last month that Ian James and Henri Zogaib would pilot the No. 60 Lexus full-time in 2006, but still has a slot or two available for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Lester hopes that his performance during the test could turn into a ride.

“Grand-Am has such a good formula,” said Lester. “I like the fact that teams don’t have to necessarily outspend everyone to win, and this Mike Shank Racing team has shown that. My roots are in road racing and this race has been on my mind for quite some time now. I just hope they’ll be pleased with my performance enough to ask me back for the race.”

Brazilian Oswaldo Negri Jr., who scored his first-career Rolex Series win alongside Mark Patterson in the 2006 Rolex Series finale at Miller Motorsports Park in MSR’s sister No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley, was impressed with Lester’s adaptation to the car.

“It was amazing how quick he got up to speed,” said Negri, who turned the fastest lap of the morning session. “In my time in the series, I’ve seen many drivers climb into these cars and take a long time getting used to the feel. Bill got into a rhythm pretty quickly.”

Michael Shank Racing will unveil its Rolex 24 At Daytona driver lineup for the No. 60 machine in a press conference on Tuesday morning.

Panther Racing signs Matsuura Panther Racing signs MatsuuraTwo-time IndyCar Series champion Panther Racing announced a partnership with Super Aguri on Nov. 6 to run former Indianapolis 500 and Bombardier Rookie of the Year Kosuke Matsuura during the 2007 season.

Super Aguri Panther Racing will field Matsuura in the No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Honda Dallara alongside talented veteran Vitor Meira, who finished fifth in the championship standings last year. Matsuura earned both the Chase Rookie of the Year honors and Bombardier Rookie of the Year honors in 2004, and has collected 17 top-10 finishes in an IndyCar Series career highlighted by a personal best finish of fourth place at Kentucky Speedway in 2004.

“We are absolutely thrilled with this partnership with Super Aguri and the opportunity to run Kosuke Matsuura in the IndyCar Series next season,” Panther CEO and co-owner John Barnes said. “Kosuke is a great talent and we feel like we have the people to teach him how to finish what he does in his races. I’m excited to get him into the Panther way of life and watch him grow into the great racecar driver we know he is going to become. This is a great time for us; everybody here knows Super Aguri, Panasonic and Kosuke just made Panther Racing a much better team.” zzzz

The 27-year-old Matsuura is originally from Aichi, Japan and entered the IndyCar Series after successful stints in the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup Championship and German Formula 3 Championship. Last season, he finished 13th in the 2006 IndyCar Series standings, with a total of six top-10 finishes and a best result of sixth at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I am very happy to have an opportunity to race in my fourth season in IndyCar Series and realize that it is a big responsibility,” Matsuura said. “Panther Racing has won a series championship in 2001 and 2002, so I am very thrilled to be able to join the champion team in this new partnership. I will do the very best and aim to win.”

Industry News
GM betting on China growth GM betting on China growthGeneral Motors Corp. intends to keep investing in China's fast-growing market and is confident its sales will outpace the industry average, GM's chairman Rick Wagoner said Monday.

"We are willing to invest ahead of demand here because we are very bullish that demand is going to keep growing here," Wagoner told reporters after taking a ceremonial spin, with Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng, in GM's hydrogen fuel cell-powered Sequel.

GM's China sales jumped 36.7 percent in the first three quarters of this year, helped by strong demand for newly launched models such as the Buick LaCrosse. That was roughly in line with the industry average.

Wagoner said GM expects its sales growth in China this year to outpace the industry average of about 20 percent. More at Detroit News

Renault says goodbye to Michelin Renault says goodbye to MichelinAfter six seasons of shared Endeavour, Michelin and the Renault F1 Team concluded their F1 relationship as champions. The secret? Trust. The French tire manufacturer believes there is no need to continue in a sport where no real tire competition is allowed in the next few years. It is however extremely happy to have won F1 again with its French companion Renault.

As the skies darkened above the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo two weeks ago, the women and men of Michelin left the F1 paddock for the final time with a feeling of satisfaction. The Renault F1 Team’s double championship win meant ‘mission accomplished’ for the team from Clermont-Ferrand, and it was testament to an exemplary partnership. During six seasons spent working closely together, the two partners acquired the shared instincts and working methods needed for real, collaborative success. The result was mutual trust, and victories across the globe. zzzz

“Motor sport is part of the company culture at Michelin, and we enjoyed a genuine partnership with them,” explains Renault F1 Team’s Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds. “Michelin have a deep understanding of both competition tires and racing cars. Gradually, we managed to establish very close links between our organizations.”

From 2001 to 2006, the two partners rose up the F1 field hand in hand, via more-focused, better-performing products. After twice finishing fourth in the constructors’ championship (2002, 2003), then third (2004), Renault achieved its ultimate aim in 2005 with double championship victory. The key to their success?

“It had three main stages in my opinion,” explains Michelin’s F1 program director Nick Shorrock. “Development, exploitation and human qualities. Our work began far upstream when we needed to understand the dynamic characteristics of a particular car, and develop tires to suite. Once the tires had been produced, we needed to test them rigorously and methodically, then choose the best among them. After that, it’s the quality of the communication that makes the real difference.”

After this dramatic success in 2005, just three years after Renault’s return to the top level of motor sport, the two partners tackled a new challenge: retaining their titles in 2006. During a season where tires were often the deciding factor, the French manufacturer never once gave up the fight – right the way to the final race! In Brazil, Bibendum celebrated an historic success with nostalgia, as they left the paddock for the final time… Thank you Michelin! Renault F1

Q and A with fast man Pizzonia Q and A with fast man Pizzonia
GP2 Series: Antonio, easily fastest in the first day testing at Jerez. It looked easy for you out there today: was it?
Antonio Pizzonia: It was okay, you know. We did some set up work this morning to try and improve the car, mainly on new tires, and we were looking quite good already but you have one lap on the new tires then that's it, and I had one lap with a red flag and another with traffic, so we lost our best laps. But I think the pace was already there, so we did another 20-25 laps to try and work on the car for the new sets, and then in the afternoon we did 2 short runs, the first one on old tires and the second one on new tires, and it was good. zzzz

GP2 Series: How big a difference is there between the tires at this circuit?
Antonio: It was three seconds, but the tires don't really last that much: it was probably only the first lap that is pretty good and then there is a drop off for the next three or four laps, and then after that they're gone, so after that it is really freaky to judge where you can use the tires because the balance changes completely. Basically the rear ones are the worst; the front ones the grip is always there, but the rears don't last very long. So it's pretty tricky to set up the car really, because you do a lot of work on the old tires and then with the new tires the balance is really different, and you never know what to expect.

GP2 Series: The guys do a lot of testing in Paul Ricard: how much of a difference does it make to come to a different track like this?
Antonio: Since I was testing for Williams we always thought this was a better track to test at than Ricard, because Ricard has a lot of wind and the tires always react in a different way there, so for me this is a much better test track for sure, and whatever we do here I think everyone can take to a race weekend: whatever people do at Ricard I think just stays there.

GP2 Series: You seem to be getting on well with the FMS guys, and you've been testing a lot with them: can we read anything into that?
Antonio: Obviously there is a possibility to race for the next year: that is one idea, and on the other hand there is Champ Car, which is a totally different thing. But I think the decision will be made soon, in the next week or ten days. Whatever I do obviously I want to have a chance to win races and, hopefully, the championship: if I think here is the place I can win the championship then I will stay here, and if I think that Champ Car with Rocketsports or another team is where I can win then I'll look at that. There are a lot of different things to think about: if I go to America then obviously it will be for a long time and I will build my future there, and if I stay here then it will be to look for an opportunity in Formula One. I think it's going to be a difficult decision, and at the moment I really don't know what I'm doing next year, but hopefully I will make the best decision.

Pizzonia flies at Jerez Pizzonia flies at JerezAntonio Pizzonia has once again shown himself to be well suited to the intricacies of the GP2 series by setting the pace on the opening day of testing in Jerez. The Brazilian took his FMS International car around the circuit in a best of 1:27.184, almost three quarters of a second faster than his closest competitor, Franck Perera. The Frenchman was again on fire with Durango, finishing the session as the only other driver in the 1:27s, as Giorgio Pantano took third for Campos Racing almost a second off Pizzonia's ultimate pace.

British F3 Champion Mike Conway was fourth for iSport International, with Jose Maria Lopez fifth for BCN Competicion. The Dams duo of Nakajima and Lapierre were next in the classification, split by 0.05 seconds, as Lucas di Grassi took his iSport to eighth. This morning's pace-setter Pastor Maldonado finished the afternoon session ninth for BCN while Xandi Negrao and Christian Bakkerud slotted in behind him, both setting an identical 1:28.974.

 Driver Team Time Laps
1 Antonio Pizzonia Petrol Ofisi FMS International 1:27.184 11
2 Franck Perera Durango 1:27.893 23
3 Giorgio Pantano Campos Racing 1:28.163 17
4 Mike Conway iSport International 1:28.228 22
5 Jose Maria Lopez BCN Competicion 1:28.299 27
6 Kazuki Nakajima Dams 1:28.630 26
7 Nicolas Lapierre Dams 1:28.664 27
8 Lucas di Grassi iSport International 1:28.722 19
9 Pastor Maldonado BCN Competicion 1:28.796 34
10 Alexandre Negrao Piquet Sports 1:28.974 21
11 Christian Bakkerud Arden International 1:28.974 31
12 Ernesto Viso ART Grand Prix 1:28.988 25
13 Luiz Razia Racing Engineering 1:28.990 39
14 Luca Filippi Super Nova International 1:29.001 30
15 Jason Tahinci Petrol Ofisi FMS International 1:29.145 24
16 Borja Garcia Super Nova International 1:29.233 28
17 Bruno Senna ART Grand Prix 1:29.241 30
18 Kohei Hirate Trident Racing 1:29.325 23
19 Alberto Valerio Arden International 1:29.429 12
20 Sergio Jiminez Racing Engineering 1:29.456 17
21 Vitaly Petrov Piquet Sports 1:29.729 27
22 Gavin Cronje DPR 1:29.770 34
23 Bruce Jouanny Durango 1:29.892 29
24 Stephen Jelley DPR 1:30.236 36
25 Markus Winkelhock Trident Racing 1:30.372 22
26 Karun Chandhok Campos Racing 1:30.889 28

Zipadelli Wins Crew Chief of the Race Award Zipadelli Wins Crew Chief of the Race AwardJUSTIN, Texas – For the second straight weekend, Tony Stewart and Greg Zipadelli made everyone racing for the championship glad that the No. 20 wasn’t a part of the Chase.  Stewart’s Home Depot Chevrolet dominated the action of the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, leading a race-high 278 laps in route to the checkered flag. Zipadelli’s efforts earned him the WypAll® Wipers Crew Chief of the Race award.

Three judges, including a member of the local media, Tony Eury Sr. and a Wypall® Wipers representative, agreed that Zipadelli deserved Crew Chief of the Race honors.  “The (No.) 20 team had this race covered,” said Eury.  “No one was even close to them.  They were in a league of their own.  Zipadelli had the car ready to go and his crew did an awesome job in the pits.  They never missed a beat and finished strong.” zzzz 

“Everybody at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) did an amazing job,” said Zipadelli.  “The Home Depot Chevrolet was great today.  We hardly adjusted on it.  We actually tightened it up as the sun went down, just a little bit there and everything worked out…the good Lord was with us for sure today - you don’t have a car that’s like this without that.”

Stewart's performance set a new standard at Texas Motor Speedway.  He led more laps in the race than any driver in the history of the speedway, a mark previously set by Greg Biffle in April of 2005 (219 laps). “I thought we had a perfect car all day and we really did,” said Stewart about his team’s win.  “The pit crew had awesome pit stops today and everybody on this Home Depot team did an awesome job with this Monte Carlo SS; it was just unbelievable today.  I mean, in your career, I’ve been racing 27 years and I can count on two hands the cars I had like today.  You just don’t get them very often, so days like today are when you appreciate it.”

For winning the Crew Chief of the Race award, WYPALL® Wipers presented Zipadelli $1,000.  At the end of the season, the Nextel Cup crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned the WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Year.  This was Zipadelli’s second Crew Chief of the Race award, which ties him for fourth- place in the standings with Mike Ford, Scott Miller, Roy McCauley and Chad Knaus.   Doug Richert, Philippe Lopez, Frankie Stoddard, Alan Gustafson, Kevin Hamlin and Greg Zipadelli are tied for fifth-place, all with one win.  Todd Berrier and Tony Eury Jr. are tied for third-place, both with three wins.  Kenny Francis is in second place with four wins and Robbie Reiser is in first-place with five wins.

Attendance down for NASCAR Attendance down for NASCARAn estimated crowd of 165,000, “the smallest crowd ever for a Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway,” attended Sunday’s NASCAR Nextel Cup Dickies 500. Inclement weather “obviously played a part in the reduced attendance, but the drop-off is on par for many Cup events this season” ESPN.com
Racing News
Newman to co-host Tony Bennett special Newman to co-host Tony Bennett specialPrior to the 2006 Champ Car World Series season finale in Mexico City, Mexico Nov. 10-12, Newman/Haas Racing co-owner Paul Newman will co-host a special event honoring Tony Bennett's 80th birthday with George Clooney, Billy Crystal, Jack Nicholson and Bruce Willis on November 9th at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.  Music sensations Kelly Clarkson, Marc Anthony and Rascal Flatts will perform at this event that will benefit Newman's Association of Hole in the Wall Camps. More.....
Racing News
PitFit scholarship applications due PitFit scholarship applications duePitFit Training (PitFit), the recognized leader in developing driver-specific fitness, nutrition and human-performance programs to expressly address the physical and mental demands of the motorsports industry, today announced it is in its final weeks of accepting applications for the PitFit Training Driver Memorial Scholarship, formerly known as the Tony Renna Memorial Scholarship.

Applications for the Scholarship will be accepted until December 1, 2006.  zzzz Winners will be announced by December 15, 2006 with Scholarship rewards beginning January 1, 2007. The selection criterion is stringent with a varied focus on race performance, community service, academics, and ability to maintain a focus on fitness. Applicants must submit an application which includes two essay questions on current topics of interest from today’s news. Those in consideration for the scholarship must be between 12 and 20 years of age and have completed at least one year of racing competition. Stars of Karting Champions in the 80cc and 125cc divisions are automatically awarded scholarships.

Scholarship winners will receive 10 months of the online training program, E-PitFit, two complete fitness evaluations, up to two training sessions per month at PitFit headquarters in Indianapolis, Theraband® products, a Bodyblade® Classic, a neck strengthening device, training gear and a bio on PitFit’s web site with a link to their own.

The program was developed and introduced in 2005 as a way of giving deserving young drivers the opportunity to bring their racing fitness to optimal levels. The 2006 Scholarship winners are Alexander Rossi, Formula TR Pro Series; Lynsey Tilton, Ford Focus Midgets; CJ Litner, Karting; Elliot Bachelart, Karting; Gilles Fortier, Karting; and Kyle Nicholas, USAC Sprint/Silver Crown.

To learn more or for a scholarship application go to www.pitfit.com and click on programs.

Tost assesses Toro Rosso’s first year Tost assesses Toro Rosso’s first yearScuderia Toro Rosso's Franz Tost gives his assessment on the team’s efforts in 2006:

”When Red Bull bought Minardi, we had to restructure the team. We built up a new organagram and brought in new people and I would say that from the beginning to where we are today, we can see signs of improvement and we operate quite well as a solid team unit. The job we did this year is not too bad, because we finished the majority of races. We suffered just one technical failure that occurred on Scott’s car in Barcelona.”

“As for the rest of the races, on the reliability front the results were good with the drivers seeing the checkered flag most of the time. In total there were six times a driver did not finish a race because of a spin or an accident,” he said on the team’s official website. zzzz

“However, we are not yet where we should be, which means we will have a lot of work to be done during the coming winter months. But on the positive side, I can see that the team itself has a lot of potential. I am convinced that with a handful of new people joining us, we can move up a notch and reach a standard where we will be able to participate in a more competitive way in this sport.”

“If I had to single out a best moment from this our first year in F1, it definitely came in Indianapolis, when Tonio picked up the first ever point for Scuderia Toro Rosso. Another highlight came courtesy of Scott in Australia, when he produced a very good performance in only his third ever Formula 1 race. He finished in the points until the Stewards took his eighth place away. In any case, he had shown an excellent turn of speed that day and again in the final race of the season, he had a very strong race. These were the highlights of our year.”

Industry News
Another example of Big 3 stupidity Another example of Big 3 stupidityWorkers at the plants that make some of the vehicles that the Chrysler Group is having the hardest time selling were scheduled to be hard at work Saturday, earning overtime to build more.

The OT might make their paychecks a little bigger, but workers at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit and across the river at Windsor Assembly say it worries them that they continue to build more vehicles just like those that already crowd storage areas near their plants.

Jefferson North builds the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Commander. Windsor builds the Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country.

Sales of the Jeep Commander, which was new last year, were up in October with the help of incentives of as much as $8,000, but they continue to fill inventories, dealers say. The Power Information Network reports that Commanders that sold in October sat on dealer lots for an average of 157 days -- more than five months -- before the sale. Detroit Free Press

Roush promotes Max Jones Roush promotes Max JonesMax Jones, who has led the Craftsman Truck and Busch series programs at Roush Racing the past two years, was named general manager of the Nextel Cup program yesterday. Richmond Times Dispatch
Yates back in garage Yates back in garageRobert Yates was back in the Nextel Cup garage at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, a weekend after health concerns kept him home from the Bass Pro Shops 500 at Atlanta.

Instead of being at the track, Yates made a pair of hospital visits back in North Carolina, being treated for stress. I don't think I have stress, but other people think I do," Yates said Saturday. "Some medication fixed me up, I just needed some help last week. I had a little similar deal about a year-and-a-half ago. Really the same thing and the same [medication] cured it. Maybe I learned and won't let it get back in that situation. I feel good now, but I had a couple of rough days."

After his first trip to the hospital, Yates doesn't even remember leaving to return home. That experience really caught his attention.

"I went back as soon as I woke up - I didn't want to die at home, so I went back," Yates said. "I drove to the hospital twice and they kept sending me home. But then when I got back the second time, I had a hard time getting out. I had to go find the doctors [via phone] at the soccer field somewhere to get out of there on Saturday.

"But I feel good now. I was planning on going to Atlanta; I wanted to go because I felt like our cars were going to run good, and they did. But I had to take care of my system and I think I've got that straightened out." Scenedaily.com

NASCAR costs skyrocket NASCAR costs skyrocketThe cost of playing NASCAR poker is going up again. To meet NASCAR's car-of-tomorrow challenge, Richard Childress is laying out very expansive production plans. He said he'll build three 30-car fleets of 2007 NASCAR stock cars for his three Cup teams, plus a fourth fleet of maybe a dozen cars of tomorrow for a fourth, limited-schedule team, essentially a design-and-test team to take the burden off his top three Nextel Cup operations.

And Childress' fellow team owners are expected to follow suit.

Most NASCAR operations have 18-car fleets for each team, so the expansions will be significant and expensive, adding perhaps $2 million or more to the bottom-line costs of fielding a team next season.

That doesn't take into account the behind-the-scenes wrangling over new, tighter inspections. zzzz

Joe Gibbs recently became one of the first owners to take a race-ready car of tomorrow to NASCAR's Charlotte research-and-development plant for the rigorous inspections. That model failed in the fuel-cell area by a very slight 60-thousandths of an inch, according to sources. When Gibbs' men asked for that much leniency, they were turned down, even though they said they had already built six similar cars of tomorrow. Greg Zipadelli, the crew chief for Tony Stewart, demurred when asked for specifics about that part of the project, saying of NASCAR only "They're not making it easy."

Mike Dillon, Childress' general manager, said that the three crew chiefs, Todd Berrier, Scott Miller and Gil Martin, have taken the reins of the car-of-tomorrow project. Brian Robertson has been hired, with Robertson's staff, to build Childress' new chassis "to bypass the learning curve," Dillon said.

"We've built eight cars of tomorrow already, but only three ready to race. The first four or five were learning projects, which were obsoleted by some rules changes, but we expected that.

"We want a separate group to test the car of tomorrow, so we don't wear out our regular crews. We'll be sending that group, with Scott Wimmer, to test at Milwaukee, Iowa, Florida, anywhere we can, to get laps.

"Our budget next year will be for 30 cars per team." Winston Salem Journal

Heidfeld says no plans to retire Heidfeld says no plans to retire(GMM)  German Formula One driver Nick Heidfeld says he has no plans to follow countryman Michael Schumacher into retirement.

The 29-year-old admitted that with all the hype about seven time world champion Schumacher's exit after a sixteen-year career, he has found himself thinking about the future.

"But I don't get very far on that score," Heidfeld, who drives for BMW-Sauber, told the 'Emagazine' of team sponsor Credit Suisse.

He added: "It's basically way too soon for me.  And I don't have any plans as yet."

Hinwil based BMW made steady progress throughout the 2006 season, and ultimately finished the constructors' championship fifth, ahead of Toyota, Red Bull and Williams.

Heidfeld, whose teammate next year will again be Robert Kubica, said he was feeling 'really good' about next year.

"I'm convinced we'll make further progress in 2007," he insisted, "but today things are really difficult because there are only big teams, really.

"In 2007 we need to take that a step further, but you shouldn't expect miracles."

He admitted he gets on with Polish rookie Kubica better than the departed Jacques Villeneuve, even though Heidfeld insists he did not clash with the 1997 champion.

"To that extent things are more fun now, but that's not really what counts," Nick commented.  "It's important for me to have a fast teammate who I can benchmark myself against.  Having two quick drivers is a good thing for the team."

Ralf's wife hopes for non-racing future Ralf's wife hopes for non-racing future(GMM)  Ralf Schumacher's wife says she hopes their future is away from a race track.

29-year-old Cora, who herself dabbled at professional racing in recent years, also has an alternate plan for Toyota-driving husband Ralf.

"When my husband retires from driving some time in the future, I want to run my own fashion shop," she told 'Revue'.

"I will be in charge of the (fashion) collections, and Ralf can keep the books."

Soccer club 'fails' to woo the Schu Soccer club 'fails' to woo the Schu(GMM)  Retired formula one driver Michael Schumacher has reportedly turned down the recent plea of local football team 'FC Echichens' to help save the Swiss club from the bottom of the Swiss league.

After the 37-year-old German failed to appear at the final match of the season at the weekend, Germany's 'Bild' newspaper reports that Schumacher also will not be training with the third division club in the near future.

The popular tabloid said coach Patrick Ferrari 'failed' to woo the seven time world champion.

"(Schumacher's) physician Dr. Johannes Peil advised him to take a break," the report added.

Hamilton confident of F1 debut in 2007 Hamilton confident of F1 debut in 2007(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton sounded confident at the weekend as he appraised his prospects of lining up alongside Fernando Alonso at McLaren next year.

The GP2 champion is shaping up for a winter test shootout against Pedro de la Rosa, as the Mercedes-powered team consider a second driver for the 2007 season.

At the traditional 'Stars & Cars' event in Stuttgart on Saturday, 21-year-old Hamilton answered to reporters: "I think my chances are good.

"I am hoping to race in Formula One next season."

Webber leads own race in Tasmania Webber leads own race in Tasmania(GMM)  Australia's only Formula One driver led his own 'Mark Webber Challenge' on Sunday after the first of six days.

In Tasmania, the 30-year-old's four-man team pulled out a lead of six and a half minutes over their eleven rivals as the arduous cycling, hiking and kayaking contest began.

The charity event ends in Hobart on Friday.

"It was a fantastic first leg and really diverse," Red Bull driver Webber said.

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