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Stewart-Haas Racing announces appointments  Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) announced today that two NASCAR industry veterans will take leadership positions with the team. Bobby Hutchens, formerly the vice president of competition at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI), will serve as SHR’s director of competition. Tony Gibson, currently the crew chief for DEI’s #8 team, will continue in the crew chief role, but with SHR’s #39 U.S. Army team and driver Ryan Newman. TSC/SHR PR
Montagny might be AGR's fastest driver  Andretti-Green Racing, who is very pleased with the Frenchman's work with the team in 2008, gave Franck Montagny a second test day in IndyCar, Wednesday 13th of November, on the road course of Sebring, Florida. He shared the wheel of the Dallara-Honda with Brazilian Tony Kanaan, AGR's full time driver in IndyCar Series and 2004 Champion. The two drivers won together the LMP2 class last month in the last race of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) at Laguna Seca.

Franck Montagny :
"Andretti-Green Racing wanted me to test an IRL car on a road course before but it hadn't been possible sooner in the season. I had already driven the car on an oval track, at Kentucky Speedway, in September, and they asked me if I wanted to come to Sebring and help them with the set-up for road courses. This is not easy with just one day of testing, but I think I gave them some direction to follow. It was a little bit difficult for me at the beginning with the car, which is made for ovals above all, with very little downforce, but we changed some things and it was really better from mid-day. We had some good fun with Tony, there was some positive rivalry between us and we set times quite similar. I think the team was happy with this as well as with the work we've done."

Franck doesn't know what the continuation will be. At present he finalizes his program for the 2009 season.

Castroneves asks judge to postpone March trial  UPDATE A federal judge in Miami has rejected requests to delay the tax evasion trial of race car driver Helio Castroneves.  Here are the documents Castroneves used to argue for the delay.

U.S. District Judge Donald Graham on Friday said the March 2 trial date will stand. Lawyers for Castroneves and Penske Racing Inc. had sought a delay until November to ensure he could drive in the 2009 IndyCar Series that runs April to October.

Castroneves is a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner who also won TV's "Dancing With The Stars" competition in 2007. Castroneves is charged with conspiracy and tax evasion involving about $5.5 million in income stashed in offshore accounts. He pleaded not guilty and is free on $10 million bond.

His sister and business manager as well as an attorney are also charged in the case.

11/13/08 Helio Castroneves' attorneys and employer asked a judge to delay his March trial on tax evasion charges until next November so he can continue racing, according to court documents filed Thursday.

Penske Racing, Inc. said if the trial is held between March and October, it will have to change drivers now to avoid the risk that Castroneves will be unavailable for the 2009 IndyCar series, which runs from April to October.

Penske attorneys said Castroneves is under contract with them for 2009 and must be available exclusively for all races.

Castroneves' lawyer said it would be "catastrophic" for him to lose his job and that "a presumed innocent defendant should not face the prospect of losing his career based solely on the return of an indictment," according to court documents. Additionally, one of Castroneves' attorneys had a scheduling conflict in an unrelated case. More ...

93rd Indianapolis 500 tickets on sale Monday  Tickets for the 93rd Indianapolis 500, scheduled for Sunday, May 24, 2009, will go on sale Monday, Nov. 17.

Fans have three methods to buy tickets:

Online: Visit the Tickets section of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Web site, www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.

Phone: Call the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area or (317) 492-6700 locally.

In person: Visit the IMS Ticket Office, located in the IMS Administration Building at the intersection of 16th Street and Georgetown Road in Indianapolis. Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Parking and camping permits for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" also can be purchased online, by phone or at the Ticket Office.

NASCAR weekly cheating report  UPDATE #2 Long-time Gillett Evernham Motorsports technical director Sammy Johns will step in as interim crew chief for the #10 Dodge and driver AJ Allmendinger this weekend. Crew chief Mike Shiplett was suspended from the team activities this week for missing the flight home from Phoenix last weekend.

11/11/08 NASCAR officials announced today that Wally Rogers, crew chief for the No. 9 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge driven by AJ Allmendinger in the Nationwide Series, has been fined $1,000 for a violation of a rule concerning unequal length in lower A-frames.
The infraction was discovered during opening-day inspection on Nov. 6 at Phoenix International Raceway.

11/10/08 NASCAR took a spring from the Nationwide Series car of Braun Racing’s Kyle Busch and another spring from the car of Kevin Harvick Inc.’s Kevin Harvick following the Hefty Odor Block 200 Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway.

NASCAR occasionally takes springs to check them at its research center in Concord, N.C.

Any penalties likely would be announced Tuesday.

NASCAR also confiscated three parts in opening-day inspection, all of which likely will result in penalties or fines. NASCAR took an intake manifold from the Penske Racing car of Justin Allgaier, a gasket from the Robby Gordon Motorsports car of Brian Ickler and the front A-frame from the Gillett Evernham Motorsports car of AJ Allmendinger. Scenedaily.com
NASCAR bans all testing in 2009  NASCAR has suspended testing for 2009 at any NASCAR touring series track, including at Daytona International Speedway in January, sanctioning body officials confirmed this morning at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The suspension of testing will include all touring series tracks, but teams will still be allowed to test at NASCAR weekly racing series tracks. A NASCAR official confirmed the suspension of testing but not the details. The ban will include any track that holds a Sprint Cup, Nationwide, Truck or Camping World East or West Series races.

"I think it's the biggest thing for NASCAR right now," said Gillett Evernham Motorsports crew chief Rodney Childers. "It's going to be the right thing to keep the sport healthy. It will be tough on the teams, but it will keep the sport healthy. It's going to put a lot of thought into what you have to do at the shop. Whether it's seven-post work or wind-tunnel work. It's probably not going to be a bad deal."

Teams say that while they will still test at non-sanctioned sites, the number of tests will most likely decline, and money will be saved.

Jimmy Makar, vice president of racing operations for Joe Gibbs Racing, said that while teams will still test, they won't match the total number of tests of this season. He points out that, as of now, this is simply a one-year moratorium on the traditional testing policy in an effort to keep pace with a struggling economy.

A1GP Germany announces 2008/09 plans  A1 Team Germany has revealed its plans for this season, including its new drivers and management.

The team, which will return to the grid from Taupo will have Andre Lotterer and Michael Ammermuller as its two main drivers. Rolf Beisswanger will head up the team as its team principal.

Ammermuller needs no introduction, having won for Germany in Zhuhai last season, and Lotterer is a former F1 tester who has recently been racing successfully in Japan in Formula Nippon and Super GT Series.

Beisswanger has worked in sports management for more than a decade and has experience in F1, IndyCar, DTM and A1GP. The 40-year-old ex-Siemens manager from Munich will take up the post with immediate effect getting Germany ready for its return in January. More ...

Q&A with Willy Rampf  BMW's tech director Willy Rampf shares his thoughts on the team's 2008 car and their first victory, which they achieved at the Canadian GP.

Q: How would you assess the BMW Sauber F1.08?
This car was something very special. It was not purely a further development; we opted for a very aggressive approach for the F1.08. This was very important given the goals for the season we had set ourselves, but clearly not without risk. Indeed, at the roll-out the car was still far from its full potential. What followed was a very tough, but also incredibly productive time for us - and by the start of the season we had the car very much on track. In Melbourne Robert was only a hair's breadth away from taking pole position."

Q: What was your reaction to the one-two finish in Canada?
You just can't put it into words. When no other car and no other drivers are better than your two, you have reached your goal. And that applies not only to me, but to the whole team. You mustn't forget that many of the people in the team gave everything over a number of years for the independent Sauber team - without any prospect of getting right to the top on their own merits - and have been part of the BMW Sauber F1 Team from its launch. The one-two in Montreal had a big impact on us all, and not only on the Sunday - it had a sustained effect."

Q: Was it not possible to build on this success and step up another gear over the remainder of the season?
Of course, this success raised expectations both within the team and from the outside. We developed several new parts which produced good results in the wind tunnel. When it came to their performance on the track, however, they did not deliver what they promised. Added to which, the optimum set-up window of the F1.08 was very small. It was not easy to adjust the individual parameters to stay within this window all the time. This was a learning experience, which we will utilize again for the 2009 season."

Q: As for 2009: how will technical responsibility be apportioned?
: I have responsibility for the F1.09 concept and, as Technical Coordinator, will also be at the helm for the team's race activities in 2009. The development process and construction of the new car is overseen by Managing Director Walter Riedl, who will continue to head up operations at the Hinwil plant and project management across both locations in 2009. It was important for me to cut down on my workload - this was a personal decision following a long time working flat-out." Source: BMW 

Loeb warms up for Barcelona test  (GMM)  Multiple world rally champion Sebastien Loeb this week prefaced his Red Bull test with a shakedown at Silverstone.

The 34-year-old Frenchman, who made his F1 test debut last year in a Renault, will join the group action at Barcelona next week.

At the British grand prix venue in Northamptonshire, Loeb got used to his custom molded seat and driving position over about 30 laps of the short Silverstone layout, in appalling weather conditions.

In a sponsor tie-in with his Red Bull-backed rally team Citroen, he will test the Renault-powered contender alongside F1's regular stars at the Circuit de Catalunya on Monday.

"I don't have a target for times in Spain," Loeb said after his practice laps.  "I want to go there, enjoy myself and get the most out of the day."

Greedy Chrysler execs get millions  Chrysler owes the bonuses under its contracts with about 50 executives, based on a retention incentive plan crafted early last year by former German parent DaimlerChrysler, when it was preparing to sell the Chrysler unit.

Nancy Rae, Chrysler executive vice president for human resources and communications, said the move made sense at the time to ensure potential buyers that key Chrysler executives would remain in place after a sale. She acknowledged that the bonuses could be seen as controversial now.

"We all would be smarter if we knew what we know now back in February of '07," she said. "Probably a lot of different decisions would be made."

Chief executives of Chrysler LLC, General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. are expected to testify next week before a House committee on a proposal for $25 billion in low-cost government loans to help keep the companies afloat. Any aid is expected to come with limits on executive pay and bonuses. It is unclear whether those conditions would affect existing bonus plans -- Chrysler's was hatched around April 2007 -- or merely limit future bonuses and golden parachutes. More ...

Van Dam takes pole position for Macau GP  
Carlo Van Dam
Carlo van Dam secured a last-gasp pole position for the Windsor Arch F3 Macau Grand Prix Qualification Race on Friday when he grabbed the top spot on the final lap of qualifying.

The TOM’S driver had seen Manor Motorsport’s Sam Bird move to the head of the timesheets just moments before a red flag was brought out for the crashed car of Kei Cozzolino, who had hit the wall at Fishermen’s Bend with less than four minutes of the session remaining.

It meant that van Dam had just one lap to improve his best effort, and he duly did that – luckily being on the track ahead of a collision between Max Chilton and Stefano Coletti that blocked the track.

“I was confident I would be able to improve,” said van Dam. “On the second last run I hit the guardrail at Turn 9, so on the last few laps my steering wasn’t easy. But we did it – and although the race tomorrow is just another qualifying session, it is looking good so far.” More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Canada GP bailout needed 'very soon'
  • Sponsor Allianz extends Williams deal
  • Raikkonen admits motivation struggles
  • Alonso rated best F1 driver
  • Senna says test is 2009 Honda seat audition

Canada GP bailout needed 'very soon'
(GMM)  Even amid reports of efforts to raise millions to save the axed Canadian grand prix, a bailout needs to be finalized and presented to Bernie Ecclestone "very soon".

"I think we need an answer very soon," Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay, central to any direct negotiations with the F1 chief executive, confirmed to the city's Gazzette newspaper.

It emerged this week that local hoteliers have agreed to raise the standard room tax and pledge the extra $5 million to the organization of the annual race at the nearby Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

That would be in addition to an extra $5m to be jointly contributed by Quebec and federal governments, with Ecclestone demanding about $30m to reinstate the race for 2009.

Some more of the extra money could come from the city of Montreal itself, by way of Tremblay drastically slashing the cost of the lease of the track on the Ile Notre Dame to just $350,000 per year.

But he said the package needs to be presented to Ecclestone immediately.

Referring to the 78-year-old billionaire, Tremblay said: "He's not interested in where the money's going to come from, he just wants to get the money to which he thinks he's entitled."

Sponsor Allianz extends Williams deal
(GMM)  Allianz, the Munich based insurance organization, has extended its sponsorship of the British formula one team Williams.

Williams, eighth in the 2008 constructors' world championship, said the news means the relationship will enter a second decade in 2009.

"There is little which can be more satisfying than enduring relationships of this nature," team boss Sir Frank Williams commented. More ...

tv news
NASCAR Cookoff on Rachael Ray show  UPDATE A reminder that this show will be aired today.

11/10/08 Rachael Ray pairs up with Carl Edwards in the first-ever Asphalt Chef Cookoff this Friday, November 14.  They will compete against two other pair of cooks which will include Juan Pablo Montoya and Bobby Labonte.  Rachael also rides shotgun with Jimmie Johnson at the Texas Motor Speedway.  The time and network for the Rachael Ray show varies.  Please check your local listings for your time zone.
track news
Indy 500 Grill opens at new Indy Airport  With the opening of the new Indianapolis International Airport midfield terminal Nov. 12, air travelers and Indianapolis-area residents have a new dining choice featuring a legendary name: the Indy 500.

The Indy 500 Grill combines a full, eclectic menu offering a variety of appetizers, soups, small plate items, salads, burgers, entrees and desserts in an atmosphere featuring the history, pageantry and excitement of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

"The new Indianapolis airport terminal is the gateway to Indianapolis for millions of travelers, all of whom know about this great city because of the worldwide popularity and 97-year history of the Indianapolis 500," said Joie Chitwood, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief operating officer. "The Indy 500 Grill celebrates the rich tradition of 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing' as IMS begins its Centennial Era, and the restaurant will be one of the focal points of the exciting, state-of-the-art terminal." More ...

track news
Save on '09 Watkins Glen tickets  Opening Day at Watkins Glen International in 2009 is already less than 165 days away and tickets for all of the action at Watkins Glen International will go on sale, this Saturday, November 15.  Fans that buy tickets before Opening Day on April 26, 2009, can save up-to $15 on tickets and the NEW 50/50 Payment Plan gives fans the opportunity to pay half now and the rest in the April.  Gift certificates are also available this holiday season and can be used towards any event at The Glen in 2009.

“We understand that times are tough and have been working hard to make it easier for our fans to enjoy our events,” stated Craig Rust, president of Watkins Glen International. “We appreciate the support we get from our fans and hope that initiatives like our advance prices, kids’ free programs and the new 50/50 payment plan will make tickets more affordable for them and their families.”

The 50/50 payment plan was implemented in 2007 and applied to previous year renewal customers only. This year, The Glen has extended this offer to all race fans that purchase tickets using a credit card between November 15th and April 1st.  Fans will be charged the first half on the date of purchase and then the second half on April 26th.  This will allow fans to both save money and provides extra flexibility when paying for their tickets. For over 20 years WGI has offered fans an advance price as an incentive to secure tickets in advance. Kids 12 and under also receive free general admission tickets when accompanied by an adult, during the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, IndyCar Series weekend and the U.S. Vintage Grand Prix weekends. The “Kids Free” program was introduced in 2008 and will continue into 2009.

Petty team trying to remain independent  
Richard Petty
Richard Petty says Petty Enterprises has talked about mergers with other teams but prefers to stay independent if at all possible.

“We’ve talked to everybody about everything that could be talked about it and we’re still standing here independent,” Petty said Thursday. “We didn’t want to take on anyone else’s baggage. We had enough of our own.”

The team still needs to find sponsorship for its two Cup cars for next year, including veteran Bobby Labonte.

“We’re working on it,” Petty said. “Bobby is out working, I’m working.”

Petty said mergers are a last resort for teams in these economic times. More ...
Day 1: Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals  J.R. Todd and Morgan Lucas put their matching dragsters atop the Top Fuel field after the first day of qualifying at the 44th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, the final event of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series schedule. Todd scorched the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona track with a 3.851 to take the top spot, just four-thousandths ahead of his teammate.

Mike Neff leads the Funny Car field with three qualifying sessions to go after posting a 4.10 while Dave Connolly fronts the Pro Stock pack and Eddie Krawiec, who is locked in a tight championship battle with Matt Smith, heads the Pro Stock Motorcycle field.

It's been a tough season for the Lucas Oil team of Todd and Lucas, so the two pals are probably reveling in their current positions atop the field at the season's final event. Todd's 3.851 leads Lucas' 3.855 by a scant margin as he races toward what he hopes will be his second win of the season. More ...

NASCAR Phoenix TV rating  UPDATE #2 ABC’s coverage of the Sprint Cup event at Phoenix International Raceway earned a final national rating of 3.6, down slightly from the 3.7 earned for last year’s event that also aired on ABC. The telecast averaged 5,656,949 viewers. The final 30 minutes of the race aired on ESPN2 and earned a 3.3 rating, averaging 4,610,804 viewers. The Chase for the Sprint Cup ratings on ABC continue to be essentially even with last year through nine races. ESPN2’s live coverage of the Nationwide Series race at Phoenix earned a 1.3 household coverage rating, up from the 1.1 earned for last year’s race that also aired on ESPN2. The telecast averaged 1,651,486 viewers. ESPN2’s ratings for the Nationwide Series are up 7% from last year. ESPN PR

11/10/08 CORRECTION: ABC earned a 4.6 overnight Nielsen rating during the 7:00-7:30pm ET window for yesterday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix Int'l Raceway before switching to ESPN2 in the Eastern and Central time zones for the last 34 minutes of the telecast. From 7:30-8:00pm ET, ABC earned a 3.8 overnight rating for "America's Funniest Home Videos" in the Eastern and Central time zones, with the Mountain and Pacific time zones continuing coverage of the race  THE DAILY

11/10/08 The overnight TV rating for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Sunday on ABC was a 3.4, the same as in 2007 also on ABC, but down from the 4.1 overnight in 2006 on NBC.  The 3.4 rating does not factor in the dismal rating the race received for the last 1/2 hour when ABC switched it to cable channel ESPN2 for the Eastern and Central Time Zones to make way for the America’s Funniest Home Videos show which gets far better ratings for ABC.
track news
Grand Marshal Named for Sunday's Sprint Cup finale  In an announcement linking motorsports history and its future, Edsel B. Ford II— great-grandson of Henry Ford and member of the Ford Motor Company Board of Directors—will serve as Grand Marshal for Sunday’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. As Grand Marshal, Ford will give the famous command, “Gentlemen, start your engines,” and also participate in pre-race ceremonies, driver introductions and post-race activities in Gatorade Victory Lane—most notably, presenting the winner of this year’s Sprint Cup Series season finale. “I'm honored to be named Grand Marshal of the Ford 400,” Ford said. “Racing has always been such an important part of our heritage at Ford, and events like Ford Championship Weekend fit in well with our strategy to use the excitement of our racing program to appeal to millions of race fans nationwide. My great-grandfather understood what racing success could do for a company; he knew that racing could provide benefit in terms of both marketing and technical innovation. And those are the reasons we still race today.” Indeed, it was more than 100 years ago, on Oct. 10, 1901, that Henry Ford made history when he ran his one and only automobile race and defeated Alexander Winton—known as the greatest racer of his era. This upset victory ultimately attracted investors to Ford and helped Henry Ford start Ford Motor Company less than two years later. This race has long since been known as the start of the Ford Racing program. “It’s a perfect fit that a legacy of the Ford Racing program serves as Grand Marshal for the final race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Curtis Gray. “What an honor to have Mr. Ford join us for Ford Championship Weekend.”
NHRA, Goodyear, Ford, SFI, Force test new bead lock wheel design   

A tire and wheel sits attached to the Landing Gear Test machinery at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio prior to a load test.

NHRA, John Force Racing, Goodyear, Ford and the SFI Foundation began testing a new bead lock wheel design for Top Fuel and Funny Car rear tires last week at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. The group spent three days at the facility testing.

The Landing Gear Test Facility at Wright Patterson Air Force Base is one of the most sophisticated in the country and allowed the group to test near-track conditions on the load experienced on Top Fuel and Funny Car rear tires. Additional tests are planned, with the goal to have the SFI Foundation develop a bead lock wheel specification for both nitromethane categories sometime in 2009.

"The high loads on a Top Fuel or Funny Car tire and wheel during a run are difficult to duplicate outside the race track," said Glen Gray, vice president of technical operations for NHRA. "But the Landing Gear Test Facility at Wright Patterson Air Force Base has the type of equipment necessary to complete such a task."

formula bmw
Formula BMW Americas 2009 Schedule  Formula BMW Americas announced today five race weekends as part of the Championship's 2009 schedule. Confirmed are four events in North America with the American Le Mans Series to support the return of the BMW M3 to ALMS competition. For a second consecutive year, the season will end at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Broadening the scope of series and on the heels of the first North American Formula BMW World Final in Mexico City, two venues south of the border are being negotiated to get the sixth season of Formula BMW Americas competition started.

Tentative Schedule
May 15-17    Miller Motorsports Park
July 17-18    Lime Rock Park
Aug. 14-16    Road America
Aug.  28-30  Mosport International Raceway
Oct.  16-18    Brazilian Grand Prix

Andretti Green Racing/AFS Racing Signs JR Hildebrand  Andretti Green Racing/AFS Racing announced that it has signed JR Hildebrand to drive one of its cars during the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season.
Hildebrand finished fifth in the 2008 Firestone Indy Lights championship, earning a victory at Kansas Speedway in addition to eight top-five and 12 top-10 finishes. Prior to the 2008 season he had just two Firestone Indy Lights starts, both coming at Infineon Raceway in 2007.
In 2007, Hildebrand finished seventh in the Atlantic championship standings with two top fives and seven top 10s. Prior to 2007 Hildebrand competed in the Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship where he was the series champion with a record 12 wins in 14 races.

Hildebrand has also driven in the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Cup, Pacific F2000 Series (Zetec Formula Ford), Cooper Tires Championship Series (Zetec FF2000), SCCA Formula Russell Championship Series and Red Bull Driver search. More ...
GM and Ford have illusions of staying in NASCAR  Even though both companies are close to filing for bankruptcy, Ford and GM reps say in this AP article they plan to stay in NASCAR.  Of course these are the motorsports bosses talking but the bean counters in the front office may still decide to cut the NASCAR program.
Barrichello rules out switch to IRL  UPDATE (GMM) Rubens Barrichello has vowed to retire from competitive motor racing if he fails to secure a race seat on the 2009 formula one grid.

The 36-year-old veteran's Honda ride is in serious doubt, as the Japanese team plans to evaluate alternatives Bruno Senna and Lucas di Grassi - both graduates of the GP2 series - at Barcelona next week.

"If they are good they will keep the position," Barrichello, whose more than 270 grands prix makes him the most experienced driver in F1 history, said.

Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger this week did not deny that the Faenza based team is in talks with the Brazilian about working together next year.

But if his F1 options do not materialize, Barrichello said he will not switch to American Indy racing, or another competitive series.

"Either I stay in F1 or I won't race," he said, speaking from his native Sao Paulo.

11/13/08 (GMM) Rubens Barrichello says he'll retire if he fails to find a ride in Formula One next year. The 36-year-old Brazilian driver dismissed the possibility of a move to the Indy Racing League or any other series. "Either I stay in F1 or I won't race," Barrichello said late Tuesday.

Barrichello has competed in the most grands prix (271) of any Formula One driver. He was with Honda this season, but his contract has not been renewed and the team is testing other drivers. Lucas Di Grassi and Bruno Senna, the nephew of three-time world champion Ayrton Senna, are to test next week.

"If they are good they will keep the position," Barrichello said. "But if an empty seat is left, I'll take it."

Hoping to race in his 17th season, Barrichello also has a chance of driving for Toro Rosso.

Barrichello won nine F1 races during six seasons at Ferrari before leaving the Italian team in 2005. This year, his best finish was third at the British Grand Prix.

Allianz confirm Williams team partnership extension  The AT&T Williams team today confirmed that its long-standing sponsorship engagement with Allianz, one of the leading global services providers in insurance, banking and asset management, has been extended, which will take the partnership into its second decade.

Over recent years, Allianz has pursued an award-winning sponsorship activation program, communicating important consumer messages about road safety and risk management built around the engagement Formula One offers. More ...

'Heavy' drivers worried about KERS  (GMM)  F1's heavier drivers are worried about the introduction of KERS technology next year.

Mark Webber, who is 185 centimeters tall, revealed this week that fellow drivers who weigh more than about 70 kilograms may be penalized in 2009.

The introduction of heavy KERS systems, but no increase in the minimum weight of formula one cars, means that smaller and lighter drivers will be better able to play with the positioning of extra ballast.

BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica is also 185cm tall, and last winter embarked on a drastic diet in order to get closer to the weight of his diminutive teammate Nick Heidfeld.

But he still tips the scales above 70kg, and told F1's official website that KERS is "a concern for all the 'heavy' drivers like me."

A1GP Indonesia circuit revealed  Organizers of A1GP Lippo Village, Indonesia have unveiled the circuit design that will be used for the sixth round of this season next February.

The 3.2km street course runs clockwise around the streets of Lippo Village, near the capital city Jakarta. It comprises of 12 turns and was designed by famous track designer Hermann Tilke, from the renowned Tilke Gmbh.

The circuit is designed to meet all of the stringent FIA safety regulations, while still providing a challenging and exciting track with an estimated average speed of 176km/h, and the top speed reaching over 300km/h.

The temporary street circuit is being built within a community setting but has been designed to minimize disruption to the community while showcasing Lippo Village, the surrounding businesses, and areas.

Lippo Village Circuit
Planned additions to the buildings in the famous Pelita Harapan University (UPH) will double up as the pit lane complex during the A1GP event, which outside each year’s race week be utilized as part of the University’s infrastructure. New roads around the township are also to be constructed with the long-term growth of Lippo Village in mind.

“We’ve of course been privy to the plans and are totally committed towards having the race here in Lippo Village for at least the next five years,” said A1GP Asia-Pacific CEO, David Clare. “There is strong commitment from those involved and A1GP will play our part in ensuring this race at Lippo Village is a success.” More ...

Fauzy confirmed for home race  A1 Team Malaysia has confirmed that Fairuz Fauzy will race for the team in its home event in Sepang next weekend.  Fauzy has helped put the team in the lead of the 2008/09 championship with victory in the opening race of the season at Zandvoort. It is a marked contrast to last season – when Malaysia went to its home race running in joint 16th place.

It is the first time in the history of the series that a team will compete on home soil leading the championship.

“After such a brilliant start to the season at Zandvoort, the pressure was on to stay at the front and leaving China with the lead has given me a big confidence boost,” Fauzy said.

“I’m delighted that A1 Team Malaysia has put its faith in me and given me the chance to race for my country in my home race.”

Aaron Lim will continue as the team’s rookie, and will participate in the Friday morning session.

The pair is already in Kuala Lumpur preparing for the event. In addition, the drivers will be joining their team and a band of enthusiastic fans for the A1 Team Malaysia Outreach Shelter initiative this weekend. The volunteers will be painting and redecorating one of the charity’s buildings, a worthwhile diversion from the training and racing that will be the work for the drivers and the team next week.

Detroit's automakers cast a cloud over NASCAR  Dodge Motorsports executive Mike Delahanty says he won't let the financial maelstrom that has struck the auto industry drag down his racing agenda.

Delahanty said he is looking for a strong Dodge finish to the NASCAR season at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend and looking forward to Daytona in February, where the Dodges will have new, more aerodynamic noses for the first Sprint Cup points race of 2009, the Daytona 500.

The 54-year-old Novi resident isn't burying his head in the sand, however, as news of the country's economy seems to worsen each day.

Delahanty knows Chrysler and his Detroit racing rivals, General Motors and Ford, are in grave danger unless they receive significant financial aid from Washington, and the sooner the better. Without it, Delahanty realizes millions of jobs across America could be lost, and the face of NASCAR could change.

Delahanty, senior manager of motorsports programs, was one of several racing insiders who spoke to the Free Press this week about the challenges facing NASCAR as the Big Three automakers bleed cash.

Les Unger, Toyota Motorsports national marketing manager, weighed in on the economic calamity and its racing fallout following Toyota Motor Corp.'s announcement of major third-quarter losses. Northville's Jack Roush, team owner of Ford's premier Cup outfit, Roush Fenway Racing, agreed it was crunch time for NASCAR and time for its race teams to take action.

"We've been beaten to the ground, kicked and stomped before, but the teams will get back on the track and do it again," said Delahanty, a former national drag racing record-holder and class champion. "These are difficult times, and there are a lot of things we have to do, so let's take our eye off of all the doom and gloom and get to work." More at Detroit Free Press

Mortara takes provisional pole position  
Edoardo Mortara charges around the tight Macau circuit
Edoardo Mortara snatched provisional pole position for the Windsor Arch F3 Macau Grand Prix in first qualifying on Thursday afternoon – but was left frustrated at ending the session with a damaged car after he crashed into a rival.

The Italian had been fastest in morning practice and maintained such form throughout the incident-filled qualifying session as he steadily improved his lap time.

But his qualifying came to an abrupt end when, with just more than one minute to go, he could not avoid hitting the stranded car of Masaki Matsushita, who had spun into the middle of the road after hitting the barriers at Police.

Edoardo Mortara
Although delighted at his speed, Mortara could not hide his frustration at the incident – which damaged the nose of his car and brought the session to an early close as the track was totally blocked.

“It was really disappointing,” said Mortara. “I was right behind him when he went off, and there was no warning and nothing I could do. Luckily I hit him square on, so the only damage is to the nose. The car should be repaired for the morning.”

Japanese F3 champion Carlo van Dam was second fastest, and well aware of how much work there was still to do before he could feel satisfied with the result. More ...

A1GP Chengdu Paddock Round Up  
The finish of the feature race in Chengdu was this close
While all the thrills of A1GP World Cup of Motorsport continued on the track in Chengdu, China, there was also plenty of action going in the paddock and in the build up to the race last weekend.

The week kicked off with a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. With many drivers and teams finding the time to visit the centre, none of them were left disappointed at getting the chance to see these much loved creatures up close.

The giant panda is an endangered species with the latest World Wide Fund for Nature survey estimating only 1,600 pandas living in the wild. Over 80 per cent of the world's Giant Pandas live in Sichuan Province and the work done by the scientists here hope to increase the captive population of Giant Pandas and ultimately reintroduce the animals to the wild, with the help of artificial breeding.

China’s Ho-Pin Tung and Congfu Cheng, Australia’s John Martin and Portugal’s Filipe Albuquerque were just a few who had the unique chance to hold one of the one-year old giant pandas being reared in the centre.

Tung said: “It has been a very special experience. It was the first time I had held a Panda or had one sitting on my lap and I really enjoyed it!”

“When I was a kid my mum used to take me to the zoo in Beijing to see the Pandas but they were always behind glass,” Cheng commented. “To be given the opportunity to see them here and to hold one has been a phenomenal experience!”

Motorsport also met the world of football last week, kicking off with a selection of drivers taking on the Chengdu Blades in a friendly match. The Chengdu Blades is a professional football club competing in the Chinese Super League (equivalent of the British Premier League) and owned by British club, Sheffield United FC.

A selection of its star players including Li Tie, a former Everton F.C player and Ma Ming Lu, the former captain of the National Chinese football team, took time out to take part in a football skills training session and friendly match against the A1GP drivers this morning at the Sichuan University in Chengdu. The drivers eventually lost out on penalties but in return the team members and executives were invited to the A1GP race on Sunday.

Chengdu Blades coach Don O’Riordan, a former Republic of Ireland youth player, was particularly excited to be given a warm welcome by A1 Team Ireland, getting the chance to experience the atmosphere of the grid ahead of the races and meet Adam Carroll on pole position ahead of the Sprint race.

Sheffield United’s Group Executive Director, Mike Farnan, and Group International Marketing, Mike Hall-Taylor, both who A1 Team Ireland seat holder Mark Gallagher knew beforehand, also joined the team at the track before inviting the Irish squad to join them at Chengdu’s Irish bar, the Shamrock, to celebrate their successful weekend later that night.

A1 Team Mexico arrived in Chengdu having had no testing and, despite the efforts of the team working through the night, was not quite ready for practice on Friday morning. A1GP organized an extra practice session to give Mexican David Garza some seat time ahead of Saturday’s practice and qualifying. Unusually, this extra time was courtesy of championship-winning team A1 Team Switzerland as, in a unique sporting gesture, it let Garza borrow Neel Jani’s racer to get a feel for the Chengdu International Circuit. More ...

Barrichello to reveal Ferrari truths one day  (GMM) Rubens Barrichello has hinted he might eventually write some revealing memoirs about his formula one career.

Speaking from an awards night in Sao Paulo, the 36-year-old Brazilian was reacting to a recent controversy that highlighted the tense relationship he shared with Michael Schumacher and Ferrari as a race driver with the Italian team.

"The public does not know even half of the story about what I experienced with Ferrari," the Honda driver is quoted as saying.

"Perhaps they will be able to read the truth one day in a book," Barrichello, whose future is in serious doubt following the expiry of his Honda contract, hinted.

He said the "right time" for him to reveal the details of his experiences "will come".

Modified F1 cars give glimpse of 2009  
The look of things to come in F1
(GMM) Formula one observers this week got a clearer glimpse of the appearance of next year's grand prix racers.

Earlier this year, eyebrows were raised when Williams became the first team to test a rear wing designed to the specifications of the radically different 2009 aerodynamic regulations.

The thin and high wing returned to the track this week, when the 23-year-old British driver Jonathan Kennard made his formula one test debut with the Grove based team at the Kemble (UK) airfield.

The car featured not only the radical rear wing, but a 2009-specification front wing, which according to the regulations is bigger and wider.

The modified Williams will be tested properly and publicly at Barcelona next week.

Elsewhere, at Ferrari's private test circuit Fiorano, Luca Badoer got down to work in the Italian team's interim car F2008K.

The machine does not yet feature the 2009 wings, but it is equipped to carry extra ballast to simulate a KERS system, and at Fiorano it is reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport that some of the components for the energy-recovery technology are already aboard the F2008K.

Gazzetta said Ferrari's KERS system will be located near the floor in the middle of the chassis.

Badoer's car has also been stripped of all the extra bodywork appendages, like flip-ups and winglets, which are not allowed in formula one from next year.

Massa wins third Capacete de Ouro award  (GMM) Felipe Massa this week won his third successive Capacete de Ouro (Golden Helmet) award in his native Brazil.

The prize, handed out annually by the motor racing magazine Revista Racing, goes to Brazil's top driver of the year.

Ferrari's Massa, 27, failed to win the 2008 drivers' world championship by one point, despite winning this month's season finale in his native Sao Paulo from pole position.

Rubens Barrichello received the silver prize and a special trophy for this year becoming the most experienced driver in the history of the sport.

Brazilian rookie Nelson Piquet took the bronze prize in the F1 category.

GP2's Lucas di Grassi received the prize as the best Brazilian in the international series category, despite trailing his countryman Bruno Senna in the final drivers' standings by one point.

The awards are voted by dozens of journalists of the Brazilian specialist media.

Teams look outside F1 paddock for KERS  (GMM) Formula one teams are looking outside of the paddock for assistance with the looming KERS era.

It emerged this week that McLaren intends to collaborative with Freescale Simiconductor, a Motorola spinoff, from F1's second year of the energy-recovery technology in 2010.

At the same time, it was being reported in the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport that Bosch, a major German technology company, is working on an electronic KERS system for deployment in the world of motor racing.

A spokesman confirmed that discussions with teams from various racing series are taking place.

Meanwhile, it is believed that the Fiat subsidiary Magneti Marelli is working with F1 teams including Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull and Toro Rosso on KERS systems.

These developments coincided with Ferrari president and FOTA chairman Luca di Montezemolo's renewed criticism of the deployment of KERS in formula one for 2009.

"The future looks very complicated with these new regulations," he is quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

The Italian said the costs related to KERS development are "prohibitive", and insisted that the technology will not flow directly into the road car industry.

IndyCar picture looks bleak for 2009  As predicted, the results of the IndyCar Versus TV deal is beginning to take effect as a large number of drivers are out of a ride for 2009 unless something breaks sponsor-wise, which they won't because of the Versus TV deal and the anticipated plunge in TV ratings.

According to this SPEEDTV.com article the following drivers may be on the sidelines next year:
  1. Justin Wilson appears to be out of a ride at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
  2. Will Power will almost certainly be out because of the loss of the Surfers race.
  3. Power's KV Racing teammate Oriol Servia has no sponsor as well.
  4. With the fallacy of ethanol finally rearing its ugly head, Ryan Hunter-Reay's ethanol sponsorship is on this ice.
  5. Throw in Paul Tracy, Bruno Junqueira, Tomas Scheckter and Darren Manning and the IndyCar grid could be down to 18 cars again in 2010.
Surfers race to be dubbed 'Gold Coast 300'  Prepare the green and the gold -- next year's Surfers Paradise motorsport event, dubbed the 'Gold Coast 300' for now, could be the most patriotic yet, on and off the track.

A1 Grand Prix organizers yesterday promised fans they would not be disappointed by the transition from Indy cars to A1 open-wheelers and revealed plans to smash Indy's on-track and off-track records to cement next year's inaugural race carnival as one of the top international motorsport events.

The 2009 event will look different, with Indy's trademark big-name clashes scrapped, but organizers said the racing series, touted as the 'world cup of motorsport', would deliver patriotic battles between competitive nations.

Former Indy general manager Greg Hooton, who will now manage the Gold Coast 300, said the event would follow the Gold Coast tradition of open-wheelers and V8s but with the added spice of country versus country competition.

"It's not about creating a different event -- it's about making sure we have great racing on track and the same party atmosphere that everyone loves off-track," he said.

"The biggest change will be the country versus country concept and we believe it will help drive more people and different crowds to the event."

However, the loss of the Indy brand juggernaut has prompted fears popular off-track events, including the Miss Indy competition and the Indy Undy Ball, will be scrapped.

After 18 years, the Indy trademark must be scrubbed from the Gold Coast vernacular and there is no finalized replacement as yet.

Mr. Hooton said the event would be nicknamed the Gold Coast Indy 300 until a formal name was minted, but he denied any Indy-linked events would be lost.

"The use of the Indy name will have to change but once we have a new name all the events will take on that new persona," he said. More ...

A1 boss says Surfer's is a deal  A1 GP management have confirmed their commitment to a five-year deal on the Gold Coast and expressed excitement at being able to include the Surfers Paradise race on its calendar.

A1GP chairman Tony Teixeira yesterday said the Surfers Paradise track was one of the most exciting street circuits in the world.

"We wanted to go back to Australia and this is the ideal venue for our series," said the South African businessman from London.

"A lot of people have worked hard on putting this deal together, and now it has come to fruition it is very exciting.

"I am aware we are being given a perfect opportunity to showcase our series to the Australian fans who have been great supporters of both the series and their own team." More ...

IRL Drivers participate in Ball State-Miami football game activities  IndyCar Series drivers Graham Rahal and Will Power and Firestone Indy Lights driver Travis Gregg traveled to Oxford, Ohio, Nov. 11 to participate in an array of IndyCar Series promotions surrounding Miami’s nationally-televised football game against undefeated and nationally ranked Ball State University.

The trio participated in a pre-game autograph session and an on-field gift exchange, presenting school officials with specially designed Miami race helmets and receiving football jerseys in return. In addition, the IndyCar Series street-legal two seater spent the day traveling around campus with Miami coaches taking rides and passing out hats and flyers to promote the game. The two-seater and another show car were also on display nearby as fans entered the stadium.

Rahal, a native of New Albany, Ohio, is a big fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes, but as an Ohio native, he came to root for the underdog Redhawks. More ...

Luyendyk headed to Iraq with goodwill tour  Firestone Indy Lights driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. will join NASCAR drivers Geoffrey Bodine and Scott Wimmer and NHRA drag racer Hillary Will on a tour of United States military bases as part of the Racing Heroes 2008 Goodwill Tour.

The tour, which begins Dec. 9 and concludes Dec. 20, will include visits to U.S. military bases in Iraq and Kuwait.

The program focuses on raising spirits and providing inspiration to servicemen and women serving abroad.

"The drivers’ visit will have a tremendous impact on the troops," said David Chavez, president of Pro Sports MVP, which organized the tour. "We are certain that the tour will be very entertaining and a welcome and needed break from the routine."

The participants will attend autograph/photograph sessions, lead clinics and demonstrations, hold meet and greets, and visit hospital patients and staff.

"I'm looking forward to going over there and meeting the troops," said Luyendyk, who finished fourth in Firestone Indy Lights points in 2008 with a win at Chicagoland Speedway.

Indy Racing Experience to open at Walt Disney World Speedway  The Indy Racing Experience, which provides fans an opportunity to ride in a 2-seat IndyCar Series car or drive an authentic IndyCar machine, is expanding its operations to the Walt Disney World Speedway at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., beginning Nov. 17.

"Since we first began the Indy Racing Experience, fans have traveled the globe to feel firsthand what it is like to race around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - the Racing Capital of the World," said Indy Racing Experience co-owner Scott Jasek. "Millions of people also descend on the Orlando area annually for its renown attractions, including Walt Disney World, so we feel our Indy Racing Experience is both a unique and fitting addition to this exciting landscape."

Walt Disney World Speedway is a 1-mile, paved tri-oval located just outside the gates of the Magic Kingdom. The track's three corners are uniquely banked, with the first turn at 10 degrees, the second at 8.5 degrees, and the third and final turn at 7 degrees. The IndyCar Series competed at the track from 1996-2000. Davey Hamilton, who will drive the Indy Racing Experience 2-seater in the opening weeks, was one of five drivers to christen the track in a "Flying V" formation during the facility's first test on Nov. 28, 1995.

"The Walt Disney World Speedway was actually home to my first IndyCar Series race, so obviously that track is special to me and I'm anxious to get back there," said Hamilton, who has finished in the top 15 at the Indianapolis 500 the past two seasons.  "Disney is a unique design that is different from any other track out there.  It's not your typical oval or tri-oval; the corner banking and elevation change in the back makes this track a thrill to drive."

The Indy Racing Experience has given more than 12,000 rides to celebrities, media, race fans and thrill seekers over the past eight years. It will share track hours daily with the popular Richard Petty Driving Experience and operate on a first-come, first-serve basis.

A season of memories for Dirk Werner  
Dirk Werner
To be sure, the 2008 American Le Mans Series was a season to remember for Farnbacher Loles Racing’s Dirk Werner. The 27-year-old German was the lead driver for the team’s first full season with a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in GT2, the deepest class in the Series.

The results were admirable for Werner and the first-year team: a class victory at Road America, two pole positions and a fifth-place finish in the GT2 team championship.

Two memories stand out to Werner. First was the return to Sebring, site of his Series debut in 2007. Second was his first victory at Road America in August.

“I returned to Sebring, to the only track I have previously raced on, and I felt prepared going into this race,” he said. “Sebring is the kind of track you need some time to get along with because it is very demanding physically.” More ...

McLaren to take on new KERS partner  McLaren Electronic Systems will take on a new partner in Freescale Semiconductors to help develop the team’s Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) from 2010.

KERS units can be introduced into Formula 1 from the start of the 2009 season and will offer drivers a push-to-pass function by recovering energy otherwise lost under braking and converting it into a power boost.

McLaren's new partnership is aimed at improving its F1 KERS unit as well as fulfilling the FIA’s ambition of enhancing hybrid drivetrains on road cars, where Freescale is a market leader.

“This joint KERS development project with McLaren Electronic Systems is on the cutting edge of automotive technology,” said Steve Wainwright, vice-president of Freescale.  As the leading supplier of automotive semiconductors, Freescale can help McLaren Electronic Systems make a difference in their quest for advanced powertrain control technology and energy-efficient systems.

“Formula 1 is one of the most exciting and fastest moving laboratories for automotive technology.

“We will work hard to help ensure that the technologies developed in concert with McLaren Electronic Systems will rapidly find their way into mainstream cars to the benefit of consumers and our automotive customers eager to receive energy-efficient solutions.”

Vickers and Speed swap cars at Homestead  Red Bull Racing Team’s No. 83 and No. 84 drivers will swap cars for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Brian Vickers, who’s normally behind the wheel of the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, will pilot Scott Speed’s No. 84, and Speed will pilot the No. 83.   

“We already have two talented drivers under our roof, so we chose to switch drivers for one race and change the momentum for this team,” said Jay Frye, RBRT Vice President and General Manager. “Brian’s a team player and wants to help the No. 84 see the same success the No. 83 has had this year. Scott’s a rookie and we wanted to take some pressure off of him and let focus on just driving the car. This organization is a team effort and we're treating it that way by finding a solution that works for everyone."  Red Bull PR
Singapore GP, Tost voted the best  UPDATE (GMM)  Singapore's formula one street circuit, scene of the first ever floodlit grand prix in September, has been named the motor sport facility of 2008.

The prize was handed out at the annual Professional Motor Sport World awards in Cologne on Tuesday night.

"We have received a great many compliments from around the world since the running of the race, but this is an award given by our peers, the professionals who work in motor sports.

"It therefore is especially gratifying," said Singapore GP spokesman Jonathan Hallett.

The Marina Bay circuit beat fellow nominee Valencia, scene of the European grand prix this year, as well as Toyota's new chassis engineering building and a new facility in Sweden.

At the same ceremony, Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost was named team principal of the year.

11/12/08 The SingTel Singapore Grand Prix celebrated yet another success on Tuesday, with the event and the Marina Bay circuit winning the title of world-wide Motor Sport Facility of the Year.

The first-ever floodlit night race venue in F1 history won the accolade at the Professional Motor Sport World annual awards ceremony in Cologne on Tuesday.

The 5.067km circuit was commended for the revolutionary track lighting and the spectacular way in which it weaves the track through the heart of the city.

The other candidates were the European Grand Prix venue at Valencia in Spain, the new Toyota Racing Development chassis engineering building in Cologne and a new start-of-the-art motor racing facility at Sturup in Sweden.

Ferrari plan Rossi test in 2008  UPDATE Valentino Rossi will drive the F2008 car, the car used by regular drivers Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen in the GP races this year.

The test will take place next Thursday and Friday (November 20th-21st), less than a week before Rossi returns to the more familiar world of two wheels for the MotoGP Official Test in Jerez.

11/01/08 (GMM) Valentino Rossi will test Ferrari's formula one car at an Italian circuit before the end of the year, a spokesman for the famous team said at Interlagos on Saturday.

"He's a friend of Ferrari, we are friends of his and it's a nice way to celebrate his world championship and fantastic career," he is quoted as saying by Reuters.

Rossi, the flamboyant Italian MotoGP rider, said recently he wanted to celebrate his sixth title by reprising his Ferrari tests of a few years ago.

The 29-year-old Yamaha rider is no longer considering switching to F1, but he said he has mixed feelings about his flirt with the premier four-wheeled category in 2005 and 2006.

"Regret is not the right word, but I'm a little sorry because I'm still curious to know what I would have done," Rossi recently said.
Montezemolo critical of KERS  Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has spoken out against the introduction of the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) in F1 next season. The Italian says the systems are too expensive and he doesn't believe they'll be very useful at all for improving road cars.

"The future looks very complicated with these new regulations," di Montezemolo told Autosprint. "We feel introducing KERS this year was already a mistake, even though we're supportive of F1 being a technology proving ground. However, the energy recovery systems for our race cars will be very different from road car systems."

"The costs are very high," he added. "We've studied proposals with FOTA to meet the FIA's fair requests regarding spending cuts and the engine costs should be halved next year compared with 2008."

Van der Garde to test for Renault  (GMM)  Dutch driver Giedo van der Garde is expected to test with the Renault team in Barcelona next week.

The Dutch website f1today.nl reports that the 23-year-old, who last year was involved in a test contract dispute with Spyker and Super Aguri, has won the drive as a prize for dominating the World Series by Renault.

His manager Jan-Paul ten Hoopen would not confirm the news: "Let's just wait and see.  Later today there will be a press release with all the details.  Then there will be more clarity."

IndyCar owners not happy, want change  The Indy Racing League got together last week in Las Vegas for its annual awards banquet but, prior to the gala to honor champion Scott Dixon, the car owners assembled twice privately to discuss their concerns and ideas for 2009 and beyond.

“It wasn’t a revolt and there wasn’t any bad sentiment, it was just kind of a meeting to pull everyone in the same direction,” said Jimmy Vasser, who co-owns KV Racing Technology with Kevin Kalkhoven.

Longtime owner/driver Bobby Rahal said: “We shared our concerns about the economy and our frustrations with certain things, because everyone wants to make sure we keep 26 cars on the grid. But I didn’t hear anything hostile.” More at SPEEDTV.com

Johnson, Hendrick speak out on ABC's decision  NASCAR Sprint Cup Series viewers in two time zones were somewhat surprised to see Sunday's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway moved to another network before it was concluded. After a pair of red-flag periods delayed the race, which had engines firing for the start at 3:52 EST, ABC officials made the decision to shift the conclusion of the race to ESPN2 in order to show the regularly-scheduled "America's Funniest Home Videos" to viewers in Eastern and Central Standard Time zones.

One major newspaper columnist wrote afterward that ABC's decision ends the argument as to whether NASCAR is a major sport once and for all. The end of an NFL game doesn't get handed off from network television to second-tier cable. Networks, broadcast or cable, usually don't bail out on playoff games -- especially if the option is a piffle of a program like "America's Funniest Home Videos."

The sport's leadership has basically handed control of the sport over to television in exchange for billions of dollars. TV sets the starting times. NASCAR will let it's television "partners" push around the timing of the green flag if a baseball game leading in goes to extra innings or if a football game goes to overtime. Qualifying and practice coverage is shuffled off to other cable outlets, shown on bizarre tape delay schedules or omitted entirely.

Race winner Jimmie Johnson and team owner Rick Hendrick were surprised to hear of the switch following the event. "It doesn't say very much," team owner Rick Hendrick said when asked what the move said about the Chase.

"I didn't know that. That's where my mother is. I'm glad my phone went dead at the end of the race." Johnson laughed in his response, but admitted his own surprise. "Well, I thought it went dark and nobody could watch it," he said.

"So the fact that it was on another television channel was, I mean, it's better. It's still somewhat on a prime channel of course on ABC, but to go to America's Funniest Home Videos, that one hurts, no doubt. I thought we have a lot of characters. Why do we need that show?"

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • STR to test hopeful trio in Spain
  • Hartley tests F1 car again
  • Meeting eases F1 'war' threat
  • '09 rules maybe not enough - Purnell
  • Button hopes for wins in 2009
  • Speedcar wants to support F1 races
  • Williams expects better Nakajima in 2009
  • '09 title charge realistic - Heidfeld
  • 5m euro engines not 'cap' for big teams
  • Ferrari test car called 'F2008K'
  • Glock also victim of internet racism

Bourdais (L) could still get the axe from team boss Gerhard Berger (R)
STR to test hopeful trio in Spain
(GMM)  Three contenders for a Toro Rosso race seat next year are set to test with the Faenza based team next week.

The Ferrari-powered outfit confirmed that incumbent Sebastien Bourdais, Red Bull test driver Sebastien Buemi, and Japanese veteran Takuma Sato will all appear in the STR3 over three days at the Circuit de Catalunya next week.

"I hope that the highlight of my 2008 is yet to come," Bourdais is quoted as saying in the German press, "because I am waiting to see if I can continue to drive for the team next year."

Bruno Senna has also been linked with the partly Red Bull-owned team, and he will be in action for Honda at Barcelona.

25-year-old Senna, as well as fellow GP2 driver Lucas di Grassi, are believed to be in contention for the race seat occupied in 2008 by Rubens Barrichello.

The veteran Brazilian has therefore been linked with a role at STR.

The test in Spain begins on Monday.

Red Bull youngster Brendon Hartley
Hartley tests F1 car again
(GMM)  19-year-old Red Bull junior driver Brendon Hartley was recently back in action in a formula one car.

His father Bryan told New Zealand press that the F3 star, who has previously tested with Toro Rosso, ran for the senior Red Bull team at Silverstone prior to the Chinese grand prix.

Hartley, in Macau for this weekend's famous F3 race, finished this year's British F3 series in third place.

His father hinted that Brendon will step up into another category in 2009. More ...

Poll Results: Will the new IRL Versus TV deal help IndyCar?  
Yes, definitely 13%
Too soon to tell 19%
No, ratings will drop 68%
See our latest poll on our Home Page.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway sets test dates for NASCAR  Las Vegas Motor Speedway has set 2009 test dates for both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. The Nationwide cars will test on the 1.5-mile superspeedway on Wednesday, Jan. 28 and Thursday, Jan. 29. NASCAR has not announced a testing policy for the Sprint Cup teams for next year, but LVMS will be available to all Sprint Cup teams on Monday, Jan. 26 and Tuesday, Jan. 27 if testing is allowed by NASCAR. Race teams who test at LVMS will be preparing for the March 1 Shelby 427 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and the Feb. 28 Sam's Town 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series event.
Daytona Prototype Testing at Daytona - Day 1  The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 is testing Nov. 11-12 at Daytona International Speedway, sporting the new 2009-specification Pirelli P Zero tires. Here you will find Daytona Prototype news on the drivers and teams participating in the test. Times will not be released either day.

Wallace Happy With Childress-Howard Effort (Updated Tuesday at 4:45 p.m.)

Childress-Howard Motorsports tested at Daytona International Speedway for the first time on Tuesday, with Andy Wallace and Rob Finlay sharing time behind the wheel of the No. 4 Pontiac Crawford in preparation for the January 24-25 Rolex 24 At Daytona, the opening round of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.

"I think it's come quite far," said Wallace of the effort, which had its lone outing in the Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen International in August. Wallace finished 19th, co-driving with Andy Lally. More ...

GP2 Testing: Paul Ricard  The last test session of 2008 opened this morning at Paul Ricard on a 3D configuration wet track that only dried at the very end of the session. Davide Valsecchi once again confirmed his good form at the wheel of his Durango car setting the quickest lap time in a 1:18.496 just before the checkered flag.

The Italian was half a second clear from Dams’ Jerôme d’Ambrosio. Ending in the Top Three was Luca Filippi on Super Nova ahead of Romanian Michael Herck on DPR. The second Dams car posted the fifth lap time with Kamui Kobayashi at the wheel, ahead of British Oliver Turvey on iSport, Luiz Razia on FMS, Koudai Tsukakoshi and Vitaly Petrov on the two Campos cars. Newcomer Fabio Leimer on Trident completed the Top 10.

Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi set the fastest lap time of the day in a 1:15.434. More ...

Wallace does not rate Dale Jr.  Former champion Rusty Wallace says he hasn't seen a big change in Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s performance this year after Earnhardt's move from Dale Earnhardt Inc. to Hendrick Motorsports.

The big change in the move is that Earnhardt made the Chase this season after missing it last year at DEI. Still, after a strong first half, he's struggled. He has three top-10 finishes in the last 16 races.

"Junior's a good driver and he's probably doing what I expected him to do," said Wallace, an analyst for ABC/ESPN. "He's not the greatest driver. Junior is good. When I think of these drivers nowadays, I think of Jeff Gordon, I think of Jimmie Johnson, I think of Carl Edwards, I think of Tony Stewart. Those are the four that just pop in my head.

"Do I look at (Earnhardt) as a top four? I don't look at him as a top four right now. I really thought performance-wise, I personally think he did every bit as good with his old team as he's doing with his new team.

"The only thing that is better is he hasn't broke down this year. Last year, he broke down a lot, blown motors. This year he hasn't had the blown motors and he's higher in the points and he's in the Chase."

[Editor's Note: He left off Kyle Busch who arguably is the best driver in NASCAR right now.  He certainly has buried his teammate Tony Stewart.  As for Dale Jr. - given the equipment he has and his performance with it, we rate him about 15th best in NASCAR.]

Sponsor cuts force NASCAR team to part time status  Furniture Row Racing officials announced today that the NASCAR Sprint Cup team is planning to run a limited 2009 schedule with driver Joe Nemechek.

"This has nothing to do with our on-track performance," President Joe Garone said. "This is simply a business decision by Furniture Row of balancing priorities in a tough economy [that], from all appearances, looks to be getting even tougher."

In its third year as a Sprint Cup Series team, Furniture Row Racing qualified for 31 out of 35 races, earning a pole position at Talladega. The team is outside the top 35 in owners points and must make each race based on qualifying time.

As a privately held entity, Furniture Row Cos. - the team owner, primary sponsor and one the nation's largest furniture retailers - does not make its sales figures public. But the company is looking at retail sales trends and is tightening all expenses as a result.

"Running a limited schedule is simply a cautionary measure," said Tom Faulkner, president of Furniture Row Cos. "While we've been faring significantly better than most in our category, it's no secret that our business is tied to the health of the economy - in particular, housing starts and real estate sales."

Track News
Penske Racing announces AAA deal  Penske Racing today announced the establishment of a multi-year agreement for its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series program with the Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) and its affiliated clubs.

Starting in 2009, the Auto Club will be displayed as primary sponsor for select events on the Penske Racing South No. 77 Dodge Charger, driven by three-time IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Hornish will debut the No. 77 Auto Club Dodge in February at the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, Calif.

In addition, the motor club will serve as primary sponsor of the No. 77 Car in Sprint Cup Series events at Kansas Speedway in October and Texas Motor Speedway in November, and as co-primary sponsor for Hornish and the Car No. 77 team, alongside Penske Truck Rental, at the April Talladega Superspeedway and June New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sprint Cup Series races. 

“We are very proud to welcome the Auto Club as a significant sponsor with Penske Racing for 2009 and beyond,” said Roger Penske. “The Auto Club, with it’s affiliation with AAA is a great brand and company and has served as an alliance partner with Penske Truck Rental for the past decade.  We look forward to having the Auto Club and AAA brand represented with the No. 77 team.”

The Auto Club will serve as a major associate sponsor of the No. 77 team for all other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races with Mobil 1 serving as the primary sponsor for these races.

”We are excited to join the Penske Racing Sprint Cup team,” said Thomas V. McKernan, Auto Club CEO. “This agreement is much more than a race car sponsorship – it is an extension of our long-standing partnership with the Penske Corporation. We have had a long-term relationship with Penske through the Penske Truck Rental member discount program and through some of its auto dealerships that are part of our vehicle purchasing program. This is just the latest addition. We see it as part of a larger package that includes member and employee benefits and discounts and community outreach, too.”   

tv news
ABC proves it does not care about NASCAR  If ABC were not losing their shirts on the NASCAR TV deal it might be one thing, but Sunday's actions by ABC (moved the finish to ESPN2) when the Phoenix Sprint Cup race ran late proves that ABC is not as keen on NASCAR as NASCAR would lead one to believe.

The following excerpts from sports writers around the country were compiled by "The Daily."

In Orlando, David Whitley writes, "I regret to inform you that one of the great sports debates of our time is over. NASCAR is not a major sport." What makes ABC's switch from the race "doubly depressing for NASCAR" is that "next to nobody seemed to care." Whitley: "As far as TV is concerned, you might as well be the WNBA. It comes down to leverage, and NASCAR doesn't have it" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 11/11). A BIRMINGHAM NEWS editorial states NASCAR coverage on TV is "already such a nightmare that it's a miracle ratings are up," as no one "ever knows from week to week when races start anymore." Races might "start anywhere from" 11:00am-4:00pm CT. The editorial: "It's all because NASCAR lets the networks do as they please whereas the NFL has anti-Heidi language written into its TV contracts" (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 11/11). In Dallas, Barry Horn wrote, "Let's get this straight: CBS doesn't abandon NFL games to go to '60 Minutes' but ABC left a NASCAR playoff race for a AFHV, a show with no redeeming social significance other than to fill an hour of air time" (DALLASNEWS.com, 11/10).

The AP's Jenna Fryer noted ABC's swap had "ramifications, particularly the perception of how it views NASCAR." Fryer: "Yep, the network that promised to broadcast the final 10 races of the season on ABC as part of its estimated $270[M] a year contract dumped the closing laps of a championship Chase race for home video hijinks. Nice 'partner,' NASCAR" (AP, 11/10). In Roanoke, Dustin Long writes this is not the idea NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France had when he said he wanted to "minimize change" this year. Long: "Where was NASCAR? ABC is seen in about 160 million homes. ESPN2 is in close to 100 million homes. How can such a move late in a race be acceptable to fans, advertisers and the sport? While NASCAR doesn't need to severely admonish the network for the change, even a statement expressing disappointment might at least show fans that the sanctioning body is willing to fight for them and keep this from happening again" (ROANOKE TIMES, 11/11). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes leagues, "not their TV middlemen, are responsible for protecting their sport and fans," and if leagues want "certain guarantees, like events staying on the same channel until they finish, they should get it in writing." They should also be "willing to accept less TV money." Hiestand: "Could ABC have stuck with the race and ended up with a higher rating? Disney got to make the call. If it was important to NASCAR, they should have made it their business" (USA TODAY, 11/11).

NASCAR hires Lynch for Green initiative  For the first time, a green car will pace the field to the green flag at the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday. The high-profile laps by a Ford Fusion Hybrid showing off a next-generation hybrid system at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' championship race is one more signpost toward a greener future for the sport.

As NASCAR develops an industry-wide initiative to address the environment, the sanctioning body has taken an even bigger step in hiring Dr. Mike Lynch to head up a new Green initiative.

"Mike will be developing and coordinating an industry strategy to ensure we are embracing green as an opportunity for all of us," said NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France. "He'll be working with teams, tracks, and our partners to develop and environmental plan that's right for the sport and all its partners, one that can include and mobilize our fan base in this important issue."

Mike Lynch, whose title is Managing Director, NASCAR Green Innovation, discusses his new role and plans for helping the industry "go green." More ...

IndyCar to move forward with '09 schedule as-is  The IndyCar Series has confirmed that it will move forward with its previously announced 2009 schedule after it was unable to come to agreement on a long-term scheduling solution with representatives of the annual Gold Coast Indy event in Surfers Paradise, Australia.

The IndyCar Series made its debut at Surfers Paradise last month in a non-points race where Ryan Briscoe claimed victory. During the race weekend, IndyCar Series executives met with event organizers and government officials to discuss various date and commercial options for 2009 and beyond. The Gold Coast event, along with the Edmonton race, was added to the 2008 IndyCar Series schedule after the unification of North American open-wheel racing was confirmed in February, less then a month prior to the start of the 2008 schedule.

On July 30, the IndyCar Series announced its 2009 schedule featuring 18 races, including two new destinations, bookend dates for the state of Florida marking changes to the season-opening and closing venues, and expanding the season-long championship by a month. The announcement was the earliest release of its schedule in IndyCar Series history. More ...

Hakkinen turns driver manager  (GMM)  1998 and 1999 world champion Mika Hakkinen has embarked on a new career as a driver manager.

The 40-year-old Finn, who retired as a McLaren race driver in 2001, is now part of the Monaco based Aces Group, which is run by his own long-time manager Didier Coton.

Hakkinen will identify and develop new driving talents.

"From my own experience I understand what it takes to arrive at the top and how vital it is to a sportsman's career to have a close group of trusted professionals around him," he said.

Hakkinen's early career was supported strongly by 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg, whose sister is married to Coton.

Coton also handled the F1 careers of Olivier Panis and Alex Wurz.

A1GP Heads to Surfers Paradise  A1GP World Cup of Motorsport will be racing on one of the most exciting street circuits in the world when it returns to Australia for Season Five. The series has signed a five year deal with the organizers of the street circuit in Surfers Paradise and will go there in 2009 for its first race.

“We wanted to go back to Australia and this is the ideal venue for our series. A lot of people have worked hard on putting this deal together, and now it has come to fruition it is very exciting. I am aware we are being given a perfect opportunity to showcase our series to the Australian fans, who have been great supporters of both the series and their own team. Australia has a rich motorsport heritage and I know our TV fans worldwide will be delighted to have this spectacular race on our calendar,” said A1GP Chairman, Tony Teixeira. More ...

BMW not worried about new engine regulation  

The engines at the rear of the two BMW Sauber F1 Team cars will have to contest one race more in the coming season. The decision by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) means that the same engine must now be used for three race weekends in a row.

On the one hand, this change to the regulations is intended to reduce costs in Formula One. On the other hand, the FIA wants to challenge and promote technical reliability among the teams. The BMW Sauber F1 Team shone in this department in 2008, as Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica sailed through the season without a single withdrawal due to a technical fault.

The team from Munich and Hinwil is faced with the problem of integrating slicks into its race operation, whilst at the same time coping with the revisions to the engine regulations. Furthermore, the BMW Sauber F1 Team engineers must also grapple with the Kinetic Energy Recovery System KERS, which will make its debut in Formula One this coming season.

Q&A with Heikki Kovalainen  Speaking at the annual Mercedes-Benz Stars & Cars event in Stuttgart on Saturday, Heikki Kovalainen talked about 2009, his winter testing plans and how he hopes to watch some skiing in the next few months.

Heikki Kovalainen
How would you sum up your performances this year, and are you happy with them?
"I think the fact is I didn't make any big mistakes this year, but the season was quite difficult. We didn't finish all the races, there were also some things happening with me, and with my car, technical issues, that prevented us from a few results. But I think I'm much better prepared now for next year, and I'm looking forward to starting work for next year. Hopefully we can finish more races, without any problems, and get some better results."

What is the status for the drivers next year, does Lewis have number one status?
"I think it is quite clear that we have the same chances."

Has this year prepared you well enough to compete with Lewis next year?
"Yes, I think so. Even this year, the potential was there to get much better results. In terms of ultimate pace, there's never been a problem. If you look at some of the qualifying sessions this year, if you really measure the speed, it's quite positive. So I think we just need to keep working on the details. So to answer your question, yeah, I think I can do a much better season next year. We don't know at the moment how it is going to go, and what kind of package we are going to have, but thinking ahead, and suspecting that we're going to have a good car, then I will do the maximum to be in a position to have a better season." More ...
Top Wall Street analyst targets GM shares at $0  UPDATE General Motors Corp.'s shares plunged as much as 31 percent to their lowest level in 60 years Monday after analysts said they were pessimistic about the automaker's future -- and shareholders' ability to recoup any money -- even if the company gets federal aid.

GM and Detroit's other automakers have asked Congress for additional aid. But that money would dilute GM's equity, leaving almost nothing for shareholders who would have to wait in line behind debt holders, the government and a union-managed health-care trust, analyst Brian A. Johnson of Barclays Capital said Monday.

Another analyst called GM's collapse "inevitable" without federal aid. Rod Lache of Deutsche Bank said GM may otherwise run out of cash before the end of the year.

The dire warnings sent GM shares tumbling to $3.02 a share at one point Monday -- down $1.34 a share -- before closing at $3.36, down 23 percent.

GM might not have enough cash to operate its business by mid-2009, which renewed analyst concerns about GM -- and perhaps Ford Motor Co. -- filing bankruptcy.

"The only thing that can save the American automakers from this fate is government intervention, and that is by no means a certainty," said analyst Aaron Bragman of IHS Global Insight.

According to Deutsche Bank, GM needs $10 billion in government loans to survive until 2010. But Lache said that any government bailout would sharply drop the value of GM's stock, which he lowered to sell and put a price target of $0 a share.

11/10/08 A key Wall Street analyst slashed his target price for General Motors Corp. shares to zero today, saying the company could run short of cash by December and that even with government aid, shareholders are likely to lose their investment.  Even if GM is able to secure immediate U.S. government support, we believe that GM’s predicament has the potential to set in motion a sequence of events that would be bankruptcy-like,” said Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache, who lowered his rating on GM shares to “sell” from “hold.”

Lache said GM’s U.S. cash could fall to $5 billion by December, which would not be enough to pay the supplier bills for U.S. operations that come due in January. He said that government aid would likely crowd out unsecured investors such as shareholders.

GM shares plunged more than 17% in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Champ Car fans let down by IRL  UPDATE Another reader writes,  Dear AutoRacing1.com, Done.  I am done with IndyCar Racing as long as it continues under IRL management, and unfortunately I am done with any subscription that involves this sport, including AR1 (thanks for the good times).  Tony George and his team continue to devastate this sport with horrible management, and between the decision to drop ICR's 2nd biggest race, to do NOTHING with the momentum gained through the "merger", and now Lee White's comments essentially saying the IRL needs to return to the very thing TG felt needed to be destroyed confirms my suspicion this sport has NO FUTURE under Tony George and the IRL.  I didn't watch the last 4 points races of the season, but did watch Gold Coast, and while watching the IRL is like trying to watch a dumbed down version of Canadian Football, at least the venue rocked.  Perhaps when I attend ALMS at Belle Isle next season I will make it a point to seek out Tony George and give him a piece of my mind, but if you run into him before that, will you please tell him that for me?

Thanks again for your excellent coverage of ICR, and best of luck in having a sport to cover in the future.  Andy Fogiel, Lansing, MI

11/11/08 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Why did Tony George want to merge with Champ Cars if he is going to continue to kill the sport? I didn't like the merger but believed it was needed for the sport to survive.

But so far since the merger TG has failed. Basically it is looking more and more like he wanted to merge just to get the Long Beach race and expand into Canada. Losing the Gold Coast race is a big slap in the face to the Champ Car fan base that will now start to turn their backs on Indy. To some Champ Car fans the Gold Coast race was even better then the Long Beach race but it was a definite second to most.

I really thought TG wanted to reverse the damage he did to the sport and make amends with the fans by blending both Indy & Champ Car and making it into a better product for the fans (both Champ Car & Indy fans). After this major blow to our sport I now also have no hope that he will introduce a new chassis/car but instead will probably continue to use the same Crapwagons we currently have.

I'm probably not the only Champ Car fan that feels betrayed by this. Oh yeah, and say goodbye to another ex-Champ Car team in Aussie Team Australia. Rod Orlando, FL.

Dear Rod, We suspect the IRL was not keen on the fact that the IndyCar race was the support race to the Super V8 cars in Surfers, and not the main event.  Rather than race before 97,000 (Sunday) in Surfers they are talking about racing before 25,000 to 30,000 in Cleveland or 15,000 to 20,000 in Portland.  That's real growth.  Negative growth, but growth nonetheless.  Mark C.

Also Irvine dismisses F1 racism furor  
Eddie Irvine
(GMM)  Former Ferrari racer Eddie Irvine has added another dismissive voice to the renewed racism debate involving Lewis Hamilton.

Following the uproarious reaction to Bernie Ecclestone's claim that incidents involving blacked out faces at Barcelona were a joke, F1 drivers David Coulthard and Mark Webber defended the sport's chief executive.

And even though the instances of anti-Hamilton racism were serious and not one-offs, Irvine has joined the calls for calm.

"The world is full of people who are racists and we are never going to change that," the 43-year-old Ulsterman said in his column for Virgin Media.

"The world is full of people who like black people and people who like white people.  Who cares? More ...

Industry News
Indy Speedway has big expansion plans  UPDATE #7 Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials are in talks to move their Hall of Fame Museum from the interior of the oval to a spot just outside the south end of the track, an area that could also house a new Speedway hotel. An announcement could come as soon as early next year.

That move could fuel a flurry of commercial developments that Speedway town officials hope to start unveiling in the first quarter of 2009.

The museum move would be done in conjunction with the Speedway Redevelopment Commission’s plans to revitalize the areas immediately south and west of the track and along Main Street in the town on the west edge of Indianapolis.

Planned expansion area
Speedway redevelopment officials want the museum and hotel to anchor an entertainment and retail district at the southwest corner of the track. The Redevelopment Commission’s plans call for vacating parts of 16th Street and Georgetown Road to make it happen.

“At this point, with our hotel and museum, we’re in serious discussions,” said IMS Chief Operating Officer Joie Chitwood. “The hotel is a top priority. The museum now is in a great location, but who knows what the future holds. We’re looking at all our options.”

The new and expanded museum and Speedway hotel wouldn’t be the only attractions in the area.

Moving the museum from the track’s infield to a prominent place near a jazzed-up entrance would lift the image of the facility and dramatically increase traffic there, said Tim Frost, president of Frost Motorsports, a Chicago-based motorsports business consultancy.

“It’s about visibility, and right now the Speedway’s museum doesn’t have any,” said Frost, who recently completed a study on motorsports museums. “Unless you’re seeking it out, you’ll never see it where it is on the interior of the track. I think moving it to a more prominent location and into an enhanced space would be a tremendous benefit to the Speedway.” More ...

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