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Forsythe tests slew of Atlantic Series hopefuls Forsythe tests slew of Atlantic Series hopefulsWILLOWS, California – The dream of competing in the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda burned brightly for several talented young racers this week.

Thunderhill Raceway Park hosted a two-day test session for the Forsythe Championship Racing Atlantic team Wednesday and Thursday and a number of open-wheel racing’s future stars got the opportunity to show their skills with one of Atlantics’ top teams at the road circuit located about 60 miles north of Sacramento.

Among the five drivers that tackled the six-turn, 1.695-mile configuration at Thunderhill was 2006 Star Mazda series champion Adrian “Ace” Carrio (pictured right and above). The 17-year-old native of Monument, Colorado earned the test with the Forsythe squad after scoring a pair of wins and six poles en route to this season’s Star Mazda title. Carrio became the first Star champion to be awarded an Atlantic test after the two series announced an official developmental partnership, in cooperation with Mazda North America, last summer. The up-and-coming driver who hopes to one day compete in the Champ Car World Series made the most of the opportunity by showing steady improvement in the #37 INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Cooper Forsythe car while completing nearly 300 miles under sunny skies and cool temperatures on Thursday. zzzz

“The Atlantic car is a great car to drive and I really want to thank Mazda, Champ Car Atlantic, Forsythe Racing and the Star Mazda series for the chance to show what I can do,” said Carrio. “The car fits my driving style perfectly. It has great balance and we were able to make some changes and I felt I developed some good chemistry with the team. I basically made my decision about a week after the Star Mazda season ended that my goal is to race Atlantics next season and this test only helps support my decision.”

The Forsythe team, which experienced the Mazda development system firsthand after competing with Star Mazda graduate James Hinchcliffe in 2006, was impressed with Carrio’s performance, but not surprised. “Ace did a good job in Star Mazda and we expected that he’d make a smooth transition to the Atlantic car,” said Forsythe Racing Team Manager John Brunner. “He did a great job. He got up to speed quickly and he’s right there time wise with the other drivers we’ve tested this off-season. He’s definitely ready for the next step into Atlantics.”

Carrio was joined on the Northern California track Thursday by two drivers who were enjoying their second consecutive days testing with the Forsythe team. Italy’s Giacomo Ricci, the 2006 F3000 Italian Euro champion, completed more miles than any of the drivers that tested at Thunderhill for the squad. Ricci logged 572 miles over the two-day test and left no doubt where he hopes to be racing in 2007.

“I liked working with the Forsythe team and everything went well over the two days,” said the protégé of fellow Italian and former Champ Car star Max Papis. “For me the Atlantic car was good, like driving the F3000 car, but not quite as much power. But I liked it and I want to be driving in the Atlantic Championship next season.”

Formula BMW USA 2006 champion and Red Bull driver Robert Wickens also excelled in testing on Thursday. The 17-year-old native of Toronto, Ontario, Canada ran nearly 300 miles over two days and completed his third full day of testing overall this off-season with the Forsythe team.

“We tried a lot of different things over the two days and I’m really starting to get used to the downforce on the car,” said Wickens. “The team did an amazing job getting the car the way I liked it and all in all it was a pretty good test.”

John Edwards, another member of the Red Bull driver development program along with Wickens, also tested for the squad as he totaled 166 miles on Wednesday. The 15-year-old from Little Rock, Arkansas has spent the last two seasons racing in Europe, most recently in the highly-competitive Formula Renault series. He’s looking forward to continuing his rapid development in 2007 in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship.

“Overall the test went very well, especially considering the cold and windy conditions we faced on Wednesday,” said Edwards. “The Forsythe team has been great to work with and I was happy with the Atlantic car and the way the new Cooper tires responded.”

Both Edwards and Wickens tested in October with the Forsythe team at Moroso Motorsports Park in Florida along with another Star Mazda standout racer, Ryan Justice of Portland, Oregon.

Ireland’s Patrick Hogan, who’s distinguished himself most recently in World Series by Renault and British Formula Renault competition, also tested for the Forsythe team on Wednesday logging 188 miles at Thunderhill.

Brunner said the team came away from the test impressed with all of the drivers, secure in the knowledge that there’s plenty of interest in the Atlantic Championship and a deep talent pool for teams to choose from for 2007.

“Not only do we feel really good about the Forsythe Racing program for next season, but the Atlantic series overall is going to be very competitive once again,” said Brunner, who added that all five drivers were within three-tenths-of-a-second of each other’s top lap times each day at Thunderhill. “Our team obviously can’t run all of these guys, but there are some Atlantic teams that are going to have some really good, fast kids next season and that’s going to be great for the series.”

Photos by LAT/Champ Car Atlantic.

Tagliani to Race at the All-Stars Karting Classic Tagliani to Race at the All-Stars Karting ClassicCanadian Alex Tagliani is the latest in a line of open-wheel superstars to commit to the All-Stars Karting Classic event, where he will race for the Sodi Racing USA squad.

Sodi team manager Terry Lawrence first approached Tagliani this summer about racing for Sodi Kart in the event and the French-Canadian was excited to return to his karting roots. “I was really happy to be invited to drive in the event by the Sodi Kart team. I’ve been racing karts since I was 10 years old, and to me karting is really the essence of the sport. When you have a passion for motorsports as a kid, and you’re watching racing on TV all the time, the first thing you get to do to go try your hand is to go and drive a kart. I’m really excited for the event.”

Tagliani, who just completed his seventh season in the Champ Car World Series. He will be teamed on the Sodi Kart squad with Stars of Karting ICA rookie sensation James Kennedy and a third pilot to be named soon. zzzz

Lawrence is very excited about the All-Stars Karting Classic lineup he is building, “I’ve been talking to Alex about racing for us at this event since August, and to get him added to our team is big. He and his father (Raymond, of SRA Karting Engines) have such a strong karting heritage that he was a natural fit for the event.”

Tagliani joins racing stars Marco Andretti (IRL), Bryan Herta (IRL), Buddy Rice (IRL) Tomas Scheckter (IRL), Ron Capps (NHRA), Doug Herbert (NHRA), Memo Gidley (Grand-Am), Wayne Taylor (Grand-Am), and Larry Dixon (NHRA) as competitors in the event. The featured teams at the event will be the SSC East, First Kart North America, Trackmagic, Tony Kart USA, Sodi Racing USA, Grand Products-Top Kart, and BTK-Arrow teams from the Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by the IRL.

The racers will utilize karts with the popular 125-cc electric start spec engines that have proliferated the marketplace in recent years. Series title sponsor Snap-on Tools has also stepped up to support the event on multiple levels as have Douglas Wheels and Alpinestars.

Racing action will start at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 14 on a temporary track constructed adjacent to the Convention Center. Show attendees will be able to progress straight from the PRI Trade Show’s Happy Hour directly out to the racing action. Admission will be free to anyone with a PRI Trade Show badge.

racing news
Travis Pastrana to Race for Subaru Travis Pastrana to Race for SubaruSubaru of America today announced that 2006 Rally America Champion and X Games 12 Rally winner Travis Pastrana has agreed to a new, three-year contract to race for Subaru Rally Team USA. Pastrana is the youngest driver to win the Rally America National Championship.

In a ceremony held today at the Los Angeles International Auto Show, Pastrana was awarded the Rally America Championship trophy. Subaru of America, Inc. today also confirmed its future commitment to rally, announcing a two-car team in the Open Class of the 2007 Rally America series. Ken Block, 2005 "Rookie of the Year," will be back to drive in the #43 Subaru Rally Team USA STI for 2007. zzzz

"We are proud to announce that not only did Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana win a gold medal at this year's X Games in the first-ever X Games rally competition, but he also won the 2006 Rally America National Championship for Subaru," said Tim Mahoney, Subaru of America, Inc. Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. "This is a strong validation of our presence in rally, and we are looking forward to X Games 13 and hopefully, another championship in Rally America."

A motorcycle racing star turned rally car racer, Pastrana had been the dominant force this year in the Rally America series, earning three rally victories and four 2nd place podium finishes at an astonishing eight out of nine rounds along with securing the gold medal at the inaugural X Games Rally event where he narrowly beat out WRC legend Colin McRae. 

Subaru Rally Team USA campaigns two Open Class 2006 Impreza WRX STI rally cars in the Rally America National Championship. Pastrana and co-driver Christian Edstrom pilot the #199 Subaru; Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino in the #43 Subaru. Both team cars are prepared and maintained by Subaru technical partner Vermont SportsCar and are based on stock Subaru Impreza WRX STI vehicles.

Renault Barcelona test notes Renault Barcelona test notesThe Renault F1 Team concluded its testing program for the week this afternoon in Barcelona. This first session of the 06/07 winter schedule saw the team makes its debut running Bridgestone tires ahead of the coming season. After three days of extensive running, in which the drivers completed nearly 2500 km, the world champions were pleased with the work they had accomplished, and with the information collected on the Japanese tires.

Heikki Kovalainen ran the new 2007 gearbox for the first time today, taking over those duties from his young team-mate. The team's priority was on driver feeling and feedback with the new unit destined for race use in the coming season. Heikki was pleased with his day's work, setting second-fastest time of the day in 1:16.609 and completing 117 laps. His time was the third fastest of the entire week's testing. zzzz

Across the garage, Nelson Piquet Jr. focused on tire testing and their impact on set-up. The young Brazilian completed his program without problem, and continued to settle in to the team. He finished the day eighth on the timesheets after 95 laps and a best time of 1:17.428.

Heikki Kovalainen:

"This was a good final day for the team. I am pleased because we made good progress this week, and worked very hard on all three days. This is a good starting point, and we have a long winter's work ahead of us, starting next week in Jerez."

Nelson Piquet Jr.:

"These three days of testing were very interesting for me, both in terms of continuing my learning process about Formula 1 and for settling in to the team. I feel at ease now, I am starting to get to know the team and I think I made good progress this week. I now need to continue the same way."

Christian Silk, Chief Test Engineer:

"This was a good last day of testing. When we arrived in Barcelona, our main aim was to understand how to run the car, in collaboration with our new partner Bridgestone. We achieved that, which is very positive. The whole team put in a lot of effort this week, working late into the night to prepare the cars and analyze the data. And I think the progress we have made over the three days shows the effort was worth it. We will now continue in the same direction, and we hope to have made solid progress by the team we conclude testing before Christmas." Renault

SPEED GT Champ Aschenbach tests Champ Car SPEED GT Champ Aschenbach tests Champ CarHOUSTON, Texas – Reigning SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT Champion Lawson Aschenbach was invited to test a Champ Car this week with the Forsythe team at MSR Houston.  Photo Credit: Buddy Pritchett

Stepping into an open-wheel car for the first time since his Formula BMW days in 2004, Aschenbach turned 60 laps around the 2.38-mile road course. The test was one of the final outings in the Lola B2K00 before Champ Car teams switch over to the new Panoz DP01 chassis.

“That was an amazing experience,” Aschenbach said.  “These cars are just incredible, they handle like a dream!  It takes a while to get used to it, especially the braking power that you have at your disposal.  Also, I had never driven a car with downforce, so that took some getting used to. Basically the faster you go the more grip you have.  You get to a point in a corner when you think you are at the limit and then you go faster and the car just gets better and better.” zzzz

Aschenbach approached the test not so much as an audition, but as a once in a lifetime opportunity.  “I had set some goals for myself before the test,” Aschenbach added.  “Basically, I just wanted to make sure I kept it on the track and that I got up to speed in a safe manner.  At the end I gave it all I had and with our last set of new tires I was getting pretty tired.  More than anything, this experience really opened up my eyes to how fit you have to be to race in Champ Car.  It was a lot more physical than I expected.”

The test was not the first time Aschenbach has driven for Forsythe. In 2002, he raced under the Forsythe banner in the F2000 series. Aschenbach has kept in touch with team owner Jerry Forsythe in the mean time and didn’t need to be asked twice when he got the phone call to test in Houston.

“I have to thank the Forsythe Team for giving me this amazing opportunity,” Aschenbach concluded. “They gave me a great car and everybody just made my job so easy. I really appreciate it.”

But the question remains, has SPEED World Challenge lost its reigning SPEED GT Champion to Champ Car? Fear not fans, Aschenbach is confident he’ll be back to defend his crown in 2007.

McLaren test quotes McLaren test quotesComments from the McLaren drivers after the test session at Barcelona

Lewis Hamilton:

"This week has been my first test as an official Team McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 driver and I have enjoyed every moment of it. With the announcement being made last week it has meant that I have been able to come here and really get to grips with driving the Formula 1 car and building a relationship with the team in preparation for the 2007 season."

"It is early days still but this week has been really positive, I have done 920km in the car and the work we have done with the Bridgestone Potenza tires has been really encouraging. I had to spend a little time in the garage on Wednesday whilst team made some changes to the set up, but that is often the case when testing and I need to get used to it." zzzz

Pedro de la Rosa:

"Our first week back on the test track after the winter break has been very productive and encouraging. This was the first test we have carried out with our Tire Partner Bridgestone and so our main focus has been on evaluating their performance with our package and so far we have gathered some positive results."

"We have also been weighing up some aerodynamic packages for 2007 alongside a continuing brake assessment programme. It has been great to get back out on the track and start working towards the challenge of the 2007 season."

Mika Hakkinen:

"It has been an exciting day for me and I have really enjoyed the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car after a five year break, made even more special as it was with Team McLaren Mercedes that I won my two World Championships with."

"I spent the morning really acclimatizing to the environment of the cockpit again and just getting to grips with driving a 2006 car, I didn't expect to be quick straight away, and Barcelona is of course a hard track on both the car and driver. It took several laps before I was up to speed, but we were all expecting this to be the case."

"Although it was great fun today I also had to do some serious work for the team, as any feedback I could give them from today's experience will help them with their preparations for the 2007 season. As a result I was really pushing to try and do the best job that I could to assist them in any way possible. We have done some good work today and got some great results and I am really grateful to the team for this opportunity and the mechanics for working so hard for me." McLaren

Industry News
Kerkorian will sell 14 million more shares of GM Kerkorian will sell 14 million more shares of GMBillionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian says he is further cutting in half his stake in General Motors Corp. to 4.95 percent.  Kerkorian will cut his General Motors Corp. stake by 14 million shares, his second reduction in less than two weeks, according to a regulatory filing.  Kerkorian’s Tracinda Corp. agreed to sell the stock tomorrow, lowering his holdings to 28 million shares, or 4.95 percent. He cut his stake to 7.4 percent from 9.9 percent on Nov. 22.
Sirius announces NASCAR radio broadcasts Sirius announces NASCAR radio broadcastsSirius Satellite Radio announced today that it will present unprecedented live radio coverage of NASCAR races starting in 2007, making listeners feel like they are on top of their favorite team's pit box on race day.

In addition to the live race broadcast, Sirius will take fans into the cars and pits by devoting up to 10 additional "Team Talk" channels that will carry the driver-to-crew communications of up to 10 different race teams during NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races. Sirius will combine the race broadcast with the driver-to-crew chatter on these channels, allowing fans to follow the overall race call and the in-car audio of a driver on a single channel throughout the race. The channels will feature top drivers based on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings. The lineup of drivers and their channel assignments will be available at www.Sirius.com/nascar prior to each race.

Listeners will hear drivers and crew chiefs schedule pit stops and discuss strategy over audio of the overall race broadcast. When the team members are not on the radio the audio of the live race broadcast will come up allowing listeners to follow the entire race uninterrupted. zzzz 

"Sirius will provide NASCAR fans with a true insider's experience on race day, taking them inside the helmets of the drivers and making them feel like a member of the pit crew," said Scott Greenstein, Sirius' President, Entertainment and Sports. "By layering the driver chatter over the race broadcast and alternating between the two, we'll provide a way to follow the race like never before. Fans can stay on a single channel for the entire race and get inside the car while being able through their Sirius radio to follow all the action on the track."

"NASCAR eagerly awaits Sirius' 2007 NASCAR Radio launch for programming just like this," said Paul Brooks, Senior Vice President of NASCAR and President of NASCAR Digital Entertainment. "Sirius will provide coverage of every one of our national series races and will also add exciting, unique channels and programming like these driver channels. NASCAR is committed to setting standards for putting fans inside our drivers' cars, so they can better appreciate the strategy, drama and thrills of NASCAR racing. This will allow avid fans to experience the sport in a new way, while helping to attract new fans as well."

As the Official Satellite Radio Partner of NASCAR starting in 2007, Sirius will broadcast every NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, carrying the live broadcasts of Motor Racing Network (MRN), Performance Racing Network (PRN) and the IMS Radio Network's broadcast from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In addition to live race coverage, Sirius will launch Sirius NASCAR Radio / channel 128 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 show hosted by the two-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion and veteran pit road reporter Matt Yocum. A detailed schedule of programs and hosts on Sirius NASCAR Radio will be announced prior to launch.

Day 2 Forsythe testing Day 2 Forsythe testingANGLETON, Texas -- The 2006 Champ Car World Series Season is now over but the Forsythe Team has not slowed down one bit. This week the blue and white transporters headed south from their Indianapolis headquarters to Houston, Texas where three up and coming young drivers had the chance to put some of the last laps on the Team’s Lolas B2K00 before switching to the new Panoz DP01 for next year.

Andreas Wirth and Richard Philippe spent most of the 2006 season behind the wheel of their Forsythe Atlantic machines in what turned out to be one of the most exciting and competitive years in the history of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship, the premier open-wheel development series in North America. Lawson Aschenbach’s 2006 season was spent competing in the SPEED GT Championship in a Porsche 911 GT3. This week the young trio got a chance to further develop their skills and help the Team prepare for the 2007 Season by strapping on to one of Forsythe’s 750 horsepower turbo-charged Champ Cars and completing a full test day each at the MSR Houston Road Course.

Wirth finished third in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship this year with back to back opening round wins at Long Beach and Houston, 2 Poles, and 6 Podium finishes. He also made his Champ Car debut this year with Dale Coyne Racing competing in the last 2 rounds of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, scoring a 9th place finish in Australia. zzzz

2005 Formula BMW USA Champion Philippe graduated to Champ Car Atlantic at the tender age of 16, becoming the youngest driver in the Series. He went on to become a consistent front runner having his best qualifying effort of third at Cleveland, and scoring his first career Podium at the same event by finishing second.

After successful karting, Formula 2000, and Formula BMW USA seasons Aschenbach competed in the 2006 SPEED GT Championship and became the first ever rookie Champion capturing his first career victory at St. Petersburg, finishing on the Podium three times, and never scoring outside the Top 10. At the same time the 23 year old also managed to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Vanderbilt University in Engineering and Mathematics.

Andreas Wirth

“It’s great to be back in a Forsythe Champ Car and especially around this track that is so much fun and so physical. We were able to test a lot of things for the team, we had an extensive test plan and it all went very well. Unfortunately when we tried to go a little faster we had some problems; I was out with new tires and on my third lap the car started to get very loose, which isn’t normal because usually that’s when the tires grip the most. So I came in and the mechanics discovered that I had picked up a small screwdriver somewhere around the track and it had completely gone through the tire. So we ran out of tires and weren’t able to get the most speed out of the car.

I’m very thankful that the Forsythe Team chose me again for their testing program and trusted me with one of their Champ Cars. Overall it was a good test, I’m happy. This is where I want to be next year so every test day gets me better prepared for the 2007 season.”

Richard Philippe

“Everything went pretty well; basically we just spent the day testing a bunch of things for the team and not really working on the car that much. But I was actually pretty pleased because I managed to get up to speed pretty quickly and run competitive laps. I had tested a Champ Car for Forsythe during the pre-season and having a full year of Atlantics under my belt has definitely helped me. One of the main things I’ve learned is how to use the aerodynamics of the car; it’s very different than driving a car without downforce. I mean it’s still a huge step but the Atlantics definitely help prepare you for Champ Car. So overall it was a good day, I really enjoyed working with the Forsythe Team and I hope I can get back in a Champ Car soon.”

Lawson Aschenbach

“That was an amazing experience! These cars are just incredible, they handle like a dream! It takes a while to get used to it, especially the breaking power that you have at your disposal. Also I had never driven a car with downforce so that also took some getting used to, basically the faster you go the more grip you have. You get to a point in a corner when you think you are at the limit and then you go faster and the car just gets better and better.

I had set some goals for myself before the test, basically I just wanted to make sure I kept it on the track and that I got up to speed in a safe manner. At the end I gave it all I had and with our last set of new tires I was getting pretty tired. More than anything this experience really opened up my eyes to how fit you have to be to race in Champ Car, it was a lot more physical than I expected.

I have to thank the Forsythe Team for giving me this amazing opportunity. They gave me a great car and everybody just made my job so easy, I really appreciate it.”

Phil LePan, Team Manager

“Overall it was a very productive test for our team. The purpose of this test wasn’t to evaluate drivers; our goal was to test some components that we are working on for next year mostly for our data collection system. The first day we ran one car with Richard Philippe and the second day two cars with Andreas Wirth and Lawson Aschenbach. It was a pretty uneventful test, everything went as planned, we managed to get through our test plan without any complications and now we’ll go back to the shop and evaluate the data.”

track news
Tickets on sale for Allstate 400 Tickets on sale for Allstate 400INDIANAPOLIS - Tickets for the 14th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, scheduled for Sunday, July 29, 2007, will go on sale Monday, Dec. 4, and any fan who buys two tickets before Dec. 25 will have a chance to take a lap around the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

Customers who have renewed or purchased at least two tickets can take a lap around the track as a passenger in a Chevrolet, the Official Vehicle of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for just $25 by calling (800) 822-INDY before Dec. 25. This special offer includes a photo opportunity at the famed Yard of Bricks start-finish line.

Track laps are scheduled for Saturday, March 24 and Sunday, March 25 and are very limited.

Race weekend and Race Day tickets will be available online at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Web site, www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by phone or in person at the IMS Ticket Office. zzzz

The IMS Ticket Office can be contacted at (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area or (317) 492-6700 locally. Ticket Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Ticket Office is located in the IMS Administration Building, at the intersection of 16th Street and Georgetown Road in Indianapolis. Parking and camping permits for one of the marquee events on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule also can be purchased online, by phone or at the Ticket Office.

For group sales information, call (866) 221-8775 or (317) 492-8100, or e-mail groupsales@brickyard.com.

A two-day general admission pass for practice and qualifying Friday, July 27 and Saturday, July 28 is available for just $25, a superb value.

Reigning NEXTEL Cup champion Jimmie Johnson won the 2006 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, the sixth time in the last nine years that the winner at Indianapolis also has captured the series title in the same season.

Badoer fastest in Barcelona Badoer fastest in Barcelona
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:16.317 88
 2. Kovalainen Renault (B) 1:16.609 117
 3. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:16.729 65
 4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:17.077 86
 5. Barrichello Honda (B) 1:17.190 115
 6. Gene Ferrari (B) 1:17.340 82
 7. Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:17.359 92
 8. Piquet Renault (B) 1:17.428 95
 9. Glock BMW-Sauber (B) 1:17.632 100
10. Klien Honda (B) 1:17.774 105
11. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (B) 1:17.876 83
12. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:18.019 72
13. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:18.045 111
14. Karthikeyan Williams-Toyota (B) 1:18.087 78
15. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (B) 1:18.528 95
16. Ammermuller Red Bull-Ferrari (B) 1:18.741 71
17. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (B) 1:18.798 99
18. Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:19.340 77
Rossi again fastest Rossi again fastestValentino Rossi was again fastest on the second day of  testing at Jerez

1. Valentino Rossi ITA Camel Yamaha  Team 1min 40.688 secs
2. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team  1min 40.799 secs
3. Colin Edwards USA Camel Yamaha Team 1min  41.186 secs
4. John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki 1min 41.205 secs
5. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP  1min 41.619 secs
6. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team 1min  41.702 secs
7. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 1min  42.244 secs
8. Marco Melandri ITA Gresini Honda   1min 42.469 secs
9. Shinya Nakano JPN Konica Minolta Honda 1min  42.528 secs
10. Alex Barros BRA Pramac d'Antin MotoGP 1min  43.182 secs
11. Tady Okada JPN Honda 1min 43.316  secs
12. Vittoriano Guareschi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 1min  44.449 secs
13. Jeremy McWilliams GBR Ilmor SRT 1min 45.265  secs
14. Andrew Pitt AUS Ilmor SRT 1min 47.110  secs

Liz Halliday keeping busy with different horsepower Liz Halliday keeping busy with different horsepowerKeeping busy is nothing new for Liz Halliday, who once again is going back and forth from the driver’s seat to horseback.

“When I got back from America at the end of October, I then spent about 10 days at Silverstone filming a reality show called “The Race” where along with David Coulthard I coached the girls team of five celebrities who we taught to race in just a week,” Halliday said. “Obviously there was also a team of five boys, and it was quite the rivalry “ it was a good show in the end!”

From that point it was back to eventing, her other passion. “I am now doing the winter thing which consists of bringing my three horses back into work after their holiday, and also searching for sponsorship for 2007's racing!”

On that note, there are doors open for a return to the American Le Mans Series, where she won three times in 2006 with Intersport Racing in LMP2 and became the winningest female driver in Series history with six.

“I have quite a few offers and obviously that is where I would like to be,” she said. “I am currently waiting to hear the extent of the support that my current sponsors will be bringing and also still searching for new sponsors as well. Basically, until I know what I will be doing with the racing next year, I can't really plan all of my horse plans, but either way I will be doing both sports to some extent. Here's hoping that I will be doing a full season with the American Le Mans Series!”

Jordan blasts Hakkinen's return Jordan blasts Hakkinen's returnFormer team boss Eddie Jordan believes Mika Hakkinen's return to Formula One at Barcelona on Thursday is nothing but a publicity stunt from McLaren. Hakkinen, who last raced in Formula One in 2001, made a comeback at the Circuit de Catalunya on the third day of the winter test session, driving a McLaren F1 car. And although the Finn struggled in the first half of the morning session, by lunchtime he was only 3.205 seconds off the pace. But despite the impressive times, especially considering that the Finn hasn't driven a F1 car in five years, Jordan still believes it's a "cosmetic exercise."  He told Reuters: "I cannot see any logic to it at all otherwise.
"It will take him so much time to understand about the car and all the different technology that he will need far more than one day." However, former Minardi team boss Paul Stoddart has a different opinion, as he doesn't believe McLaren would waste valuable time on a publicity stunt. "I don't think that Ron and (Mercedes motorsport head) Norbert (Haug) are the types to play games," Stoddart said. "I think he (Hakkinen) is doing it for a reason. Don't discount him, just because he's a bit older. "Imagine if Michael (Schumacher) has a couple of years out and then said he wanted to get back in the car. Nobody would laugh at that."
McLaren to run Koni shocks McLaren to run Koni shocksTeam McLaren Mercedes today announced that it will run with dampers provided by KONI during the 2007 F1 World Championship season. The announcement marks the start of a long-term relationship that sees KONI become Official Supplier of Automotive Dampers to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

“We are delighted that KONI is joining our world class group of Official Suppliers by working with us to integrate what we believe is the next generation in damping technology to our race car,” said Jonathan Neale, Managing Director, McLaren Racing. “We have been running with KONI dampers since the San Marino Grand Prix in the 2006 season, and there has been a focus in our test program on collaborative development between ourselves and KONI with regards to FSD dampers. We are looking forward to continuing this relationship into the 2007 Championship.”

“I’m very pleased about our Official Supplier position with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes in 2007,” said Henk Kromhout, Marketing and Sales Director, KONI Worldwide. “Even though KONI has been an official supplier to Formula One racing since 1958, each person in Formula 1 recognizes that Team McLaren Mercedes forms a league of its own. Team McLaren Mercedes’ engagement in the joint development of our breakthrough suspension technology FSD, has been inspiring and our engineering teams have made such impressive progress during the last 6 months, that we expect FSD to be a major differentiator. At the start of the 2007 season KONI will have been in business for 150 years and is looking forward to challenging for victory with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes in this season of our anniversary.” Team McLaren

Glock turns first laps for BMW Glock turns first laps for BMWIt was another cold day in Barcelona on Wednesday and although it was a dry start, rain fell around ten am meaning that the BMW SauberF1 team lost roughly an hour of very vital running time. Regular driver Nick Heidfeld was on duty once again, the German racer continuing to test the car’s new transmission as well as undergoing long and short runs on the new Bridgestone tires. At the end of the session the team was happy with his day’s work.

Meanwhile, teammate Robert Kubica had the same goal, working on the car’s setup on new tires, concentrating on this rather than testing new parts on day two. Both cars practiced starts in the morning session and while Nick has now finished work for the week, Robert will carry on for the third and final day here tomorrow, taking over work on the new transmission.

As previously reported, Nick’s place will be taken by Timo Glock, who will be undergoing his first test with the BMW Sauber F1 Team. Timo will have what the team describe as a ‘normal first day of testing’ which will include becoming acclimatized with the car.

Industry News
$14-billion sale crucial for GM $14-billion sale crucial for GMAs General Motors Corp. attempts to return to profitability, the Detroit automaker is expected to soon close a $14-billion deal that could provide another key piece in its turnaround plan.

In April, GM announced plans to sell a 51% stake in GMAC, GM's financing unit, to a group led by Cerberus Capital Management LP, a New York investment firm. The deal still is expected to close in the fourth quarter, the original target set by the company, GM spokeswoman Gina Proia said Wednesday.

GM has targeted today for transferring GMAC employees to a new benefits plan.

The GMAC sale is crucial because it will give GM a large infusion of money to pay for restructuring the company, analysts say. The sale is expected to provide $14 billion over three years.

After losing $10.6 billion last year, GM slowed its losses to $3 billion through the first nine months of this year and dramatically cut costs.  More at Detroit Free Press

Hakk’s back on track! Hakk’s back on track!(GMM)  For the first time since the 2001 Japanese grand prix, Mika Hakkinen on Thursday morning drove a Formula One car in anger at the Barcelona group test in northern Spain.

The 38-year-old Finn, whose role at the Woking based McLaren team in the future is unspecified, wore plain white overalls and his familiar tri-blue helmet livery with a blue-tinted visor as he completed a handful of installation laps on a clear and chilly morning.

He was also wearing a HANS-device on his helmet and shoulders for the first time, as the head-safety harness was made mandatory in Formula Only after his retirement.

Despite not posting a competitive lap time in his initial runs, the seriousness of Hakkinen's test was apparent with the sight of an aerodynamic recording device mounted on top of the airbox.

Also on Thursday morning, hopeful test driver Timo Glock made his debut for BMW-Sauber.

Moreno Makes Champ Car History in China Moreno Makes Champ Car History in ChinaZhuhai, China  – Roberto Moreno made history today in China as he took the 2007 Panoz DP01 on track at Zhuhai International Circuit, marking the first time a Champ Car has run in China.
Moreno was in Zhuhai with an envoy of Champ Car representatives as officials from the City of Zhuhai, Zhuhai International Circuit and Champ Car announced the 2007 Champ Car China Grand Prix to a collection of local and national Chinese media.
“It was very important to everyone in China that we bring our 2007 Panoz DP01 to the Zhuhai Circuit to demonstrate the excitement of Champ Car,” said Champ Car President Steve Johnson.  “It has been a very beneficial trip for us because we were able to meet with city and track officials as well as starting a media campaign for the Champ Car China Grand Prix. China is a wonderful country and I’m really looking forward to returning here for the race in May.” zzzz
More than 150 local and national media attended the press conference at Zhuhai International Circuit, which included demonstration laps by Moreno.  The Brazilian wowed the media by setting a new track record on his first lap and continuing to lower the mark setting the record at 83.619 seconds.
“I think there is going to be a very exciting race here in May,” said Moreno.  The track has really fast straights and three very slow corners with wide braking zones.  There will be plenty of places to pass and the facility is excellent shape. I hope I get a chance to race here.”
A full fleet of 2007 DP01’s will cross the Pacific Ocean in May for the inaugural Champ Car China Grand Prix for Round Four of the Champ Car World Series.  The series schedule begins on the streets of Las Vegas on April 8 for Las Vegas Grand Prix followed the next week by the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Champ Car
Q and A with Renault’s Rob White Q and A with Renault’s Rob White
Q. Rob, where were you for the final race of the 2006 season?

Rob White - Renault's engine technical director: I was in Renault's Square Com' building in Boulogne, Paris. There were team members from Viry, from Renault and the F1 fan club too. It goes without saying that the atmosphere was wonderful. It was a long, stressful race but we what we wanted at the end. That was a fantastic moment. We proved that Renault F1 Team is a true top team, that knows how to stay focused and motivated under pressure.

Q. Both cars proved reliable: the E and D5 specifications lasted the distance...

RW: Yes, and that was particularly satisfying. We took an unusual decision to use two different engines and it worked out well. Even so, I cannot help thinking of the engine problem we had this season in Monza.

We operate a zero-defect policy. That is one of the mainstays of our development philosophy: we must finish races to win championships. But I think we need to put this incident in relative terms. This was the first season for the V8 engines and overall, our rivals seemed to suffer many more problems than we did. zzzz

Q. The RS26 ran well immediately from the start…

RW: I think its main qualities are a direct consequence of the steps we took during the engine's design process. With the project manager Leon Taillieu, we spent a huge amount of time defining the concepts of the engine, understanding its technical challenges - and assessing its impact in terms of our resources.

We worked very hard on the dyno during the winter, and our communication with the chassis team in Enstone was exemplary. Our engine was not the first to run on track – and we were widely criticized for it – but it was the first V8 to win a race in 2006. That was exactly what we wanted.

Q. How did you develop the RS26 during the season?

RW: The starting point was good initial reliability. From that point, the engine began a normal development path. We quickly designated the areas with the potential to raise the level of performance, and planned our developments. On each occasion, of course, we had to assess the reliability impact of the performance gain and re-design certain components.

Q. Was the entire development path planned from the beginning, or did you have to juggle your priorities as events unfolded?

RW: It is always a mixture of the two. The engine's development is planned from the beginning to end of the season, but this plan can be modified according to many different parameters, be it problems at the track or steps forward in the design office…

Q. Did the failure in Monza lead to some sleepless nights?

RW: I am particularly proud of how Leon Taillieu and his team managed to resolve this incident. After Monza, our initial reaction was one of surprise and disappointment. But we converted that energy into something concrete. We understood the origin of the failure, developed a solution, and approved that solution.

In parallel, we contacted our suppliers and partners to ensure they could meet the deadlines. When we validated the solutions for the final time ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, there were two potential solutions. The first was completely safe and known, the other a little more daring but with a performance advantage. We took the second option! That is typical of our approach.

Q. Was that solitary failure late in the season another proof that reliability can never be taken for granted?

RW: Exactly that. You never stop striving for reliability, and the secret of success is constant vigilance. However, it is wrong to focus solely on being reliable, even at the end of the season. An engine must perform to the maximum too, and the trade-off between these two independent parameters is what we are seeking to improve every day. Our strength was that we found the best compromise.

Q. The cycles of engine use for Fernando and Giancarlo were out of phase from the second race onwards (Fisichella changed his engine after retiring in Bahrain). Was this an advantage or a problem for the team?

RW: Neither one nor the other. It allowed us to introduce certain developments earlier than planned, but doing so often brought with it a huge increase in workload to complete the necessary approvals in time, ahead of the original schedule.

Q. Could you give us some idea of the progress you made in terms of power output and maximum revs during the season?

RW: (smiles) I'm not sure I understood the question…

Q. How would you define a good modern F1 engine?

RW: In my opinion, it is simple. You don't score any points for power, torque or maximum revs. The best indication is given by the number of championship points scored because in the end, all that counts is the combined performance of the chassis-engine package.

Q. In that light, is the collaboration between Enstone and Viry still strong?

RW: Yes. The exchange between the sites is continuous and the processes are now well-established – although improving all the time. We are direct, honest and most importantly, we trust each other.

Q. In 2007, Renault will supply Red Bull Racing. What does that change?

RW: It is a good step, firstly because it will reinforce Renault's presence in F1. We are very much looking forward to starting work with our new partners. It will also help us to reduce the impact of the one of the consequences of the new regulations, which is a significant reduction in engine development activity.

Q. What are your hopes for next year?

RW: It is a little early to begin talking about 2007 in any detail. But we will approach next season just like we have done the previous two years, which means getting the very best from our available resources to achieve the best possible results – while managing the changes better than our rivals! Renault F1

Carmichael takes the wheel Carmichael takes the wheelThe conversion of Ricky Carmichael the championship motocross racer into Ricky Carmichael the stock car driver was initiated at a private practice session here Tuesday.

The five-time Daytona Supercross champion turned about 80 test laps over the half-mile oval at New Smyrna Speedway in a Late Model owned by Nextel Cup Series veteran Mark Martin.

Martin supervised the morning practice session before flying to New York City for NASCAR's Champion's Week festivities. He was not available for comment. Carmichael, 26, signed a driver development deal last month with Ginn Racing, a major racing operation owned by Flagler County resident Bobby Ginn.

Martin, who lives in the area and maintains a race shop locally, signed to drive Ginn's No. 01 Nextel Cup Chevrolet in 22 races next season.

Members of Martin's local race team combined with some of Ginn Racing's crew from Mooresville, N.C., to support Carmichael's practice session.

Jay Frye, Ginn Racing's CEO and managing partner, confirmed the test session and said Carmichael's lap times were comparable to qualifying speeds posted in New Smyrna's recent Governor's Cup event.

"Ricky ran quite a few laps, fast laps," Frye said. "My guys down there reported it was a very successful test. This was Ricky's third or fourth time in a race car but his first real test in a car with that kind of horsepower," he added.

racing news
Motorsport Executive Expands Motorsport Executive ExpandsLAGUNA HILLS, Calif.- Ivor Goodwin, chief executive officer of Motorsport Executive, the global motorsport executive search consultancy, is pleased to announce the openings of two new offices to serve America's two biggest motorsport centers: Indianapolis, Ind. and Charlotte, N.C.

The new offices in Speedway, Ind., and Davidson, N.C. support the British company's United States headquarters in Laguna Hills, Calif., and expand its focus into the American market.

Although confidentiality is fundamental to its work, the company's executives have matched top professionals with Formula 1 and other European teams for 10 years, working at the highest manufacturer levels. zzzz

The company was established under the Motorsport Executive name in 1999.  Now it is bringing the same top-quality executive search methodologies it has used so successfully in Europe to the United States motorsport arena, where it will provide directors and senior executives in team management, design, manufacturing, engineering and other disciplines.

In conjunction with the two new office openings, Goodwin also announced the appointment of two new regional directors for the company: Mike Collier and Ed McLean.

Collier, well known as the team manager of Bradley Motorsports' former Indy Racing League IndyCar team, is in charge of the Indianapolis office. He served as a consultant to the Indy Racing League for the last six years.

McLean, a 22-year veteran of the Pontiac division of General Motors, guides the North Carolina office.  McLean was part of the team that reintroduced "factory racing" to NASCAR, NHRA, IHRA, IMSA and SCCA road racing during his time at Pontiac.  He also founded the North Carolina Motor Sports Association, an industry trade association.

For more information on the company, see its Web site at motorsport-executive.com. The Indianapolis office, located at 6145 Crawfordsville Rd., No. 142, in Speedway, Ind., 46224, can be reached at (317) 308-1498. The North Carolina office's telephone number is (704) 895-0113, while its mailing address is P.O. Box 2353, Davidson, N.C., 28036. The telephone number for the company's headquarters in California is (949) 460-6446.

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

SCCA Runoffs Topeka
3:00am-4:00am (R) -Formula 500
4:00am-5:00am (R) -Touring 2 SPEED
Indy Motor Speedway Indianapolis
4:00am-5:00am National Geographic
Champions Week on SPEED -NASCAR Takes Manhattan New York
6:00pm-7:00pm (R?)
7:00pm-8:00pm (L) SPEED
Movie: The Gumball Rally (1976)
8:00pm-10:30pm SPEED
2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Awards Ceremony
9:00pm-12:00am (SDD)
Also Dec 3, NBC 2:00pm-3:00pm on NBC TNT
All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.
Track News
Infineon tickets go on sale Friday Infineon tickets go on sale FridayTickets for the 2007 Big O Tires Racing Season at Infineon Raceway will officially go on-sale to the general public on Friday, Dec. 1.

It’s your first opportunity to secure the best seats in the house for all of the exciting motor racing action at the world-famous road course and drag strip, including the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (June 22-24), FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals (July 27-29) and the IndyCar® Series Grand Prix of Sonoma (Aug. 24-26).

In all, there are seven weekends of racing action planned for 2007 at Infineon Raceway, which is the only facility in the country to host the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, IndyCar® Series, Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series and AMA Superbikes. zzzz

A season pass costs just $395 and is one of only two ways to obtain a cold pit pass for Sunday of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup weekend. The season pass also includes entrance into the special VIP area during driver introductions at NASCAR, as well as a permanent parking pass for the entire season.

Other benefits include a cold pit pass at the IndyCar®  Series Grand Prix of Sonoma, as well as access to Thunder Alley, the closest you can get to the drag strip at the FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals.

Ticket prices for individual events range from $10-$140. For  more information, call 800-870-RACE, visit www.infineonraceway.com or www.ticketmaster.com.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Post-season test speeds ahead in Barcelona
Toyota to launch in January
Work on Ferrari theme park to begin
Heikki admits tire switch 'difficult'
Strong Massa 'ready' for next challenge
Gascoyne hints at Spyker podium
Schu offered Ferrari abode in Maranello
Day 2 of Champ Car testing Day 2 of Champ Car testingForsythe Championship Racing, Pacific Coast Motorsports and Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing resumed testing at MSR Houston today as the Champ Car World Series teams continued preparations for the 2007 campaign. 

And while yesterday’s testing featured different methods of getting a team ready to answer the bell, today saw team strategies take center stage as new and established squads alike fine-tuned their teams in anticipation for the April 8 season opener. 

Pacific Coast Motorsports drivers Ryan Dalziel and Alex Figge have already proven their speed in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship, affording them the luxury of making longer runs that tested tire wear and fuel conservation tactics, strategies that will doubtless come into play once the season starts. At the other end of the pit lane, Mi-Jack/Conquest needed to spend the day seeing if their prospective pilots had the speed necessary to run up front – and found themselves more than satisfied with the answers. Meanwhile, the Forsythe squad again spent the day testing equipment instead of drivers, allowing a pair of future Champ Car hopefuls to get some miles under their belts. 

Having spent the better part of the last month testing Rocketsports Lolas, PCM rookies Dalziel and Figge graduated from simply logging laps to running longer stints. Adding to the degree of difficulty in today’s outing, the team’s engineers tested their abilities by changing objectives during those stints in order to simulate race conditions. Zzzz 

"I learned a lot today because we tried a lot of different scenarios during the runs," Figge said. “We worked on fuel conservation, which is tough because it is a challenge to keep your pace up while saving fuel. Our guys would change the emphasis during the run, making us work on different things, and I think it was a valuable day." 

With rain possible for Thursday, it was imperative that teams got quality work in today and Dalziel reported that he definitely got his work done. 

"The plan was to run me into the ground today but I feel a lot better than I expected I would," said the former Atlantic race winner. "We’ve run 108 laps on a tough track over the last two days which was good because I know how important the fitness aspect is to success in the series." 

Meanwhile Mi-Jack/Conquest accomplished its goals with Alex Premat and Guillaume Moreau, with Premat blistering the 17-turn track in a unofficial best time of 71.8 seconds, making the reigning A1GP champion the only driver of the two days to break the 72-second mark. Moreau got under 73 seconds early in the day, wrapping up two days of testing that saw him complete more than 100 laps. 

"We worked very well together and it was really a pleasure to work with this team," grinned Premat after his quick run. "I know they were happy with the speed, and I just hope I get a chance to run against guys like (Justin) Wilson and (Sebastien) Bourdais to see how I do against them." 

The Forsythe team continued working on their equipment, allowing SPEED GT champion Lawson Aschenbach and Atlantic veteran Andreas Wirth to get valuable seat time. 

"This was the most unbelievable experience I have ever had in a race car," said Aschenbach after his day of testing. "These cars have incredible braking capability and everything happens so fast. I didn’t want to go off and do anything stupid so I started slow and worked my way up, and I reached all my goals for the day. I really need to thank Jerry Forsythe and the whole team for this opportunity." 

Wirth relished the opportunity to get back in the Champ Car after running a pair of series events at the end of the 2006 season with Dale Coyne Racing. The German driver was disappointed in his qualifying pace in the Coyne machine, although he finished a strong ninth in his debut, and was satisfied with his efforts today. 

"We did a lot of component testing and tried a lot of different things so it wasn’t like we did a lot of laps at any one time," he said. "I improved my time at the end of our day when the track wasn’t as good, so I am happy. I definitely proved that I’m not a second-and-a-half off of everyone else. It could have been better but I am happy." Champ Car
Carl Russo explains sale of RuSPORT Carl Russo explains sale of RuSPORTFormer RuSPORT owner Carl Russo told autosport.com: "Contrary to certain rumors and stories, I was not selling Calix. We have exciting opportunities there that I have to work on, and it was taking up so much of my time that I couldn't attend some of the Champ Car races in the second half of last year.

"RuSPORT is a team that finished third in the championship in 2005, second in 2006, but we needed someone to be able to take it to the next level, to be challenging for the championship.

"In that situation, it could not be me, because you can burn the candle at one end, but you can't burn it at both ends for very long.

"So I had to make a decision, and I decided to make Calix the best business I can until I run out of skills or run out of inclination, and that isn't going to be any time soon."

However, Russo did not rule out a possible return to Champ Car in future years. "Remember, Jerry Forsythe left motorsport to concentrate on his other business before coming back.

"I love the sport, and I hold out great hope for the Champ Car World Series, the Panoz chassis, and the changing business model that the new chassis brings to bear."

Today Show To Feature Champ Car Medical Segment Today Show To Feature Champ Car Medical SegmentThe medical and safety programs of the Champ Car World Series have long been lauded as the standard in motorsports, and Thursday’s viewers of NBC’s Today Show will get a first-hand look at one of the latest medical projects designed for use in the series.

Today reporters were on hand at MSR Houston for a November testing session where Buddy Rice made his first Champ Car laps prior to the 2006 Champ Car season finale, and filmed a segment where Rice, and then the NBC reporter, drove while wearing a newly-developed athletic heart monitoring device. The segment will air on the popular NBC morning show Thursday morning, and is tentatively scheduled for air in the 7 – 7:30 a.m. time frame.

Physicians and engineers from the world-famous Cleveland Clinic along with Champ Car Medical Director Dr. Chris Pinderski have been working on the device for more than a year, which will monitor heart rates in the harsh environment found in the high-speed world of Champ Car. The device, which is a vest that is worn under the driver’s suit, has been worn during testing and races this year as development continues. zzzz

“This could be a very valuable instrument in terms of seeing what the body goes through during a race,” said Dr. Pinderski. “It can not only help us determine what happens during impact, but could also aid teams and drivers in building fitness levels as well as determining how the body reacts to the different climates and on the different types of tracks that we compete on.”

The segment was filmed entirely at MSR Houston with Rice wearing the vest during a test with Forsythe Championship Racing, followed by the reporter wearing the vest while driving a Ford-powered Panoz sportscar around the challenging 17-turn road course. Champ Car

Striking Goodyear workers to reign on NASCAR's NY parade Striking Goodyear workers to reign on NASCAR's NY paradeStriking Goodyear tire workers and their supporters are demonstrating against the company in New York City, in conjunction with NASCAR's Champions Week celebration.

The action started on Wednesday and is scheduled to continue through Friday, when the awards ceremony is held at the Waldorf-Astoria, according to a press release.

The release asks: "Will defective tires make their way into Goodyear stores or on NASCAR tracks in 2007?"

NASCAR Victory Lap Thrills New York Fans NASCAR Victory Lap Thrills New York FansNEW YORK – It seemed like a normal race morning in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.  The drivers awoke early, attended a meeting with NASCAR President Mike Helton, donned their uniforms, signed autographs, participated in live television interviews, climbed into their race cars and drove off to the cheers of their fans.

But this was no normal race morning.

The setting was Times Square in New York City. The drivers took to the streets of New York for the NASCAR “Victory Lap,” which began with a live national television appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America.

A procession of the Top 10 drivers and cars departed from Good Morning America’s Times Square Studios and ended at the ESPN Zone restaurant, where the drivers met with sponsors and media.

“It’s pretty neat to be able to block off the streets of New York like they did today,” said Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet. “It says a lot for New York accepting what we do and how big our sport has become. It’s great to see all the people watching and participating.” zzzz

Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford) has finished in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 in 16 of the last 18 seasons, including three consecutive appearances in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. His unique, long-term perspective on NASCAR’s visits to New York – which date back to 1982 – gave him plenty of appreciation for this year’s warm welcome from the City.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of [the Chase] for all three years,” said Martin. “It’s gotten bigger every year. It really gives me a warm feeling about our sport, that I love so much, to see the folks here support it the way they have.

Where past champions have gone before … NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet), posed for photos in Times Square after the Victory Lap was completed. During the shoot, a feature of NASCAR’s Champion’s Week in New York for many years, was especially poignant for Johnson – a moment he now shares with dozens of other series champions who came before him.

“The pictures we took in Times Square; I’ve seen those photos with all of the other champions and it was a moment I was really looking forward to,” said Johnson. “We were out there doing the photos and there were fans everywhere, screaming and yelling and getting involved. That really made it fun.

“I think our season speaks for itself,” said Johnson. “I’m more focused on experiencing this moment with my wife, with my team, with Mr. [Rick] Hendrick [car owner], with Chad [Knaus, crew chief] – everything that we have from here on out is revolved around sharing this moment with the team members and with the sponsor.  We are one big family and really looking forward to that.”

With the Victory Lap completed, the countdown continues toward the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony on Friday evening. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has been joined in New York by the rest of the Top 10 drivers, along with 11th-place finisher Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet).

Next up for this exclusive group is the NASCAR / National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Myers Brothers luncheon on Thursday. This prestigious event, at Cipriani on 42nd Street, includes presentations to the special award winners of 2006. In addition, the champions from all of NASCAR’s other series will be recognized.

After Thursday’s luncheon, all of the champions will gather for their annual champions’ photo shoot, at Rockefeller Plaza. On Thursday evening, the group of champions will be treated to an exclusive Champions’ Dinner at the Waldorf=Astoria.

Friday: Johnson and his team will pose for formal photos on New York’s Park Avenue before attending several pre-awards ceremony receptions. Then, Johnson officially will be crowned NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion; the Awards Ceremony begins at 7 p.m. in the Waldorf=Astoria’s Grand Ballroom. SPEED will broadcast a live Awards Ceremony pre-show, “NASCAR Takes Manhattan,” beginning at 7 p.m. (ET), while TNT will air the ceremony at 9 p.m. (ET).

Pit Stop Tour … For any local race fans that missed the Victory Lap, several slower-moving cars will be visible throughout Champion’s Week. In fact, several race cars will be parked on display at many popular New York locations every day this week.

From 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., today through Friday, six city locations will host the Champion’s Week Pit Stop Tour, where fans can view NASCAR stock cars up close. The locations are: Times Square/Military Island (Broadway between 43rd and 44th Streets); Bryant Park (6th Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets); by the News Corp. Building (6th Avenue between 48th and 49th Streets); Madison Square Garden (7th Avenue between 31st and 32nd Streets); at the Tissot Retail Gallery/Tourneau Atrium (57th & Madison Avenue); and the Sprint retail store located at 175 5th Avenue, between 22nd and 23rd Streets.
Fast Facts

What: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony.

Where: Grand Ballroom, The Waldorf=Astoria Hotel, New York City.

When: 7-10:30 p.m. (ET). Friday, Dec. 2.

TV: TNT, 9 p.m. (ET & PT); NBC, Sunday at 2 p.m. (ET)

Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.

Final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Jimmie Johnson 6,475. 2. Matt Kenseth 6,419. 3. Denny Hamlin 6,407. 4. Kevin Harvick 6,397. 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 6,328. 6. Jeff Gordon 6,256. 7. Jeff Burton 6,228. 8. Kasey Kahne 6,183. 9. Mark Martin 6,168. 10. Kyle Busch 6,027.

11th-place driver: Tony Stewart.

Raybestos Rookie of the Year: Denny Hamlin.

Musical Entertainment: Jewel. NASCAR PR, Photo courtesy of Dodge

Poor Danica Poor DanicaIRL driver Danica Patrick was featured in a one-on-one interview Street & Smith’s Motorsports Marketing Forum in N.Y. today.  Speaking of the potential for further marketing opportunities, Patrick wondered why she lacks more feminine-product deals.  Patrick: “I’d be so flattered if I could do a makeup or a hair endorsement. … I’ve been in so many men’s magazines, [but] I’ve never been in Fitness magazine, I haven’t been featured in Cosmo or Glamour.  I think that’s weird.”

Danica, maybe you have not figured it out yet but you have been exploited as a sex object for men and your poses in FHM didn't do anything to dispel that notion.

Bergmeister among series' all American nominees Bergmeister among series' all American nomineesBraselton, Ga. - Simply put, Jorg Bergmeister had a season to remember in 2006, making him one of five American Le Mans Series drivers nominated for the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association's annual All America team in the Road Racing category.

The German captured his second consecutive American Le Mans Series GT2 drivers championship with a terrific late-season surge with teammate Patrick Long. The duo teamed together in 2005 for the class title in the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

Bergmeister won three times in 2006 - Lime Rock Park, Road America and Petit Le Mans - with Long. He also earned six podium finishes and qualified on pole position at Road America. On race weekends, he also routinely took time out of his schedule to entertain groups of children through the Series' Grid Kids program, in conjunction with the Salvation Army. zzzz

For his career, Bergmeister has 16 career victories, 31 podium finishes and 34 top-fives in 47 Series starts. He also has qualified on the class pole five times and has posted five fast race laps in GT2.

Bergmeister also married wife Danielle early in the year, and the two celebrated the birth of their daughter, Lucy, in the summer.

For 36 years, AARWBA has elected the annual All America Racing Team. The team is recognized by the Associated Press, Reuters and major publications as the only team of its kind in motorsports. Each year, two team members are elected in each of seven categories (unless there is a tie, in which case both tying drivers are elected). The driver who receives the most votes is awarded the Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy as AARWBA's Driver of the Year.

This year's All America team will be announced at the organization's annual banquet on Jan. 13, 2007 at the Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis.

Tony Stewart on Sirius Radio special Tony Stewart on Sirius Radio specialBelow is info on this radio show special.

track news
St. Petersburg GP tickets go on sale St. Petersburg GP tickets go on saleTickets for the 2007 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will go on sale to the general public Friday, Dec. 1, at 10 a.m. (EST).  All ticket prices will remain unchanged from 2006 for the 2007 event.

Beginning Friday, three-day reserved tickets will be available, with prices starting at $85 for adults and $55 for children under 12. All tickets purchased between Dec. 1 and Jan. 14 will include a free pass to the IndyCar Series paddock, which carries a value of $55.

The third annual event will be held March 30 through April 1 with race action to be held again on a temporary street circuit in downtown St. Petersburg.  In addition to the IndyCar Series race on April 1, the event will also feature the first American Le Mans Series race in St. Petersburg on Saturday, March 31, giving fans an additional world-class race event to enjoy.

Beginning Jan. 15, single-day reserved tickets will be sold, with race-day prices starting at $40 for adults and $15 for children under 12 with multi-day general admission ticket packages running $45 for adults and $20 for children under 12. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Honda Grand Prix box office at (727) 824-7223 (extension 225), by visiting the event's website at www.gpstpete.com or through Ticketmaster. zzzz

Renewal requests have been mailed out to 2006 ticket holders, which offer them the first opportunity to reserve seats for the 2007 event. Renewal customers have until Jan. 15, 2007, to return a ticket order for those seats. Following that date, any tickets not renewed will be added to the allotment available to the general public.

In addition to individual ticket sales, the Honda Grand Prix is offering a free IndyCar Series paddock pass to groups purchasing 10 or more 3-day reserved tickets.  Group purchases are only available through the HGPSP box office.  Corporate hospitality and sponsorship packages are also still available.

"In only two years, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has become a premier sports event that emphasizes the fan experience throughout," said Tim Ramsberger, vice president and general manager of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. We've had two exciting IndyCar Series events and we're thrilled to have Danica Patrick, Dan Wheldon, Helio Castroneves and Marco Andretti back for another race. And, the addition of an American Le Mans Series event only strengthens the weekend and adds value for all our race fans."

The 2006 Honda Grand Prix race weekend featured more than 20 hours of on-track racing activity in addition to more than six hours of concerts sponsored by XM Satellite Radio and Seminole Hard Rock Hotel.

The 2007 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be the second race on the Indy Racing League schedule.  The weekend will feature a three-hour American Le Mans Series event on Saturday, IRL Pro Series events on both Saturday and Sunday, and the IndyCar Series race on Sunday, April 1.

For more information on the 2007 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, please visit www.gpstpete.com.

track news
Bridgestone again on board in Long Beach Bridgestone again on board in Long BeachThe Grand Prix Association of Long Beach is pleased to announce that Bridgestone will continue as the Official Tire Sponsor of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for the next three years - an agreement that will see the tire company maintain that role for 14 consecutive years.

The company, which traces its sponsorship of the legendary 33-year-old street race back to 1979, will have a major presence at the April 13-15, 2007 race, including Bridgestone signage on the pedestrian bridge between Turns 9 and 10 on the 1.97-mile course. In addition, Bridgestone will entertain dealers and clients during the race weekend and will once again  participate in a special promotional program on Friday, April 13.

"The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is the marquee event on Champ Car's North American schedule, and it is situated in a very important market for us," said Al Speyer, Executive Director of Motorsports, Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT).  "We have had a great relationship with the race for 11 consecutive years now, and we couldn't be happier to confirm that we will continue as the event's Official Tire well into the future." zzzz

"Bridgestone Firestone has been a loyal sponsor of our event and we are delighted to continue this long-standing relationship," said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. "We're very proud that they, like many of our other loyal sponsors, continue to realize the value of association with America's premier street race."

This announcement comes on the heels of Bridgestone's multi-year extension of its relationship with the Champ Car World Series as Official Tire and exclusive tire supplier. Champ Car is the headline race event at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

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.

For information or to purchase tickets, call the toll-free ticket hotline at (888) 82-SPEED or visit longbeachgp.com. A handy 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.

John Surtees Q and A – The Season So Far John Surtees Q and A – The Season So FarWith the first four rounds of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport completed, A1 Team Great Britain is riding high from the field of 23 participating countries, sitting second overall in the A1GP Nations Standings trailing current series leaders Germany by just six points, 37-31.

Proving to be as consistent a force as it was last season on the way to an inaugural third place points finish, the British team is the only nation this season to have scored in every Feature race with Oliver Jarvis and Robbie Kerr collecting back-to-back Feature podiums, both second places, in China and Malaysia respectively.

A1 Team Great Britain Team Principal, John Surtees, the only man to have won World Championships on two wheels and four, took time out from preparations for Round 5 in Indonesia next weekend, 8th – 10th December, to review the British team’s progress. zzzz

Q: Four races into the new season of A1GP, are you satisfied with the progress of A1 Team GBR to-date?

John Surtees (JS): “Yes! I think the team has come together extremely well. We’ve not necessarily had the best of fortune but at the same time we’ve come home with some sound results. We were plagued with some technical problems in the first couple of races, not of our making, which required a lot of additional work but we came through them. It obviously disrupted our preparations a little but all things considered our drivers, Darren (Manning), Oliver (Jarvis) and Robbie (Kerr) have all performed very well in the race seat!”

Q: With continuity usually a bonus in motorsport, was the team disadvantaged to run three different drivers over the first three events?

JS: “To be honest we didn’t really have any option for the first race. Our regular driver, Robbie, wasn’t available for Zandvoort so Darren came in, picking up where he had left off at the final round of last season in China. Robbie was back for the Czech Republic and Oliver we opted to run in Beijing as it was a new track for everyone, and therefore more of a level playing field, so we wanted to get the benefit of the additional rookie hour although events didn’t transpire that way with the circuit issues swallowing valuable track time!

“I think to an extent running the three different drivers over the first three events actually helped the team. The engineers reported that the feedback they were receiving from Oliver in the rookie sessions was very good and that helped develop a set-up for the other drivers in their races. We probably emerged stronger as a result.”

Q: What will be the defining factor in selecting the driver for future races given the likes of Oliver and Robbie have both proved themselves as front-runners in the series?

JS: “Well the factor that doesn’t come into it from an A1GP perspective is what programs the drivers put together for the 2007 regular season. Obviously the A1GP calendar will clash with other formulas and potential pre-season test schedules. It’s really then a question of who will be available for A1GP duty!

“Robbie is a contracted driver and we have an arrangement that when he’s available we have the use of Oliver’s services as well. I still think there’s some potential to continue with what we’ve been doing. For as long as Oliver is qualified to run the rookie session, if we’re competing at a brand new circuit then it may be more appropriate for the team to have him run those races having taken full advantage of the rookie hour.”

Q: Were you surprised by Oliver Jarvis’ competitiveness as a rookie in scoring the team’s first podium of the season in China earlier this month?

JS: “Oliver was faced with the challenge of being a new driver on a new circuit. We chose to run him in China as we felt we could benefit from the rookie session but of course that turned out not to be the case with the first sessions being cancelled for track modifications. He was ultimately dropped in at the deep end with very little practice but drove a very sound race to come home second for our first podium. It was a mature drive, there were no fireworks, he kept out of trouble and we were delighted with the end result!”

Q: With Robbie Kerr following up with his own podium in Malaysia last time out, how far is A1 Team GBR from scoring its maiden win and is there a track coming up where you feel it could and should be achieved?

JS: “Well you’ve got to remember that in Indonesia last year Robbie put the British car on pole for the Sprint race! He was extremely quick throughout the Feature and it was only due to mistakes made by the team that he didn’t record a win. We head back to Indonesia next week so obviously that’s a track where it could be real possibility.

“I don’t think you can rule out any of the races though as we’ve been competitive everywhere. There’s even a question mark over whether we should have got the win last time out in Malaysia. The team would contend that the German squad infringed the rules with their push start in the pits during the Feature race, Hülkenberg subsequently took the win ahead of Robbie in the British car!”

Q: What’s the single biggest thing that’s surprised you about this season’s A1GP competition?

JS: “The biggest surprise was how successful the first event was! I think Zandvoort was an incredible testimony to what A1GP can achieve. People supported the Dutch flag and the fact that Jos Verstappen didn’t race proved not to be an issue in the end of the day. Supporting your nation, that’s simply got to be the strength of A1GP. That’s something we have to build upon. We have to make sure that people come to races and support their teams.

“It should also be remembered that China, despite the problems with the track layout in Beijing, created another first for both A1GP and motorsport marking the first time an international race had been held in the capital city. Other surprises include the strength of the competition, there are some very talented young drivers competing this season and that’s reflected in the fact that nobody’s running away with the championship this year. It’s been a very open championship so-far, there have been some exciting races and it could go all the way down to the wire!”

Q: With the final round of the 2006-07 A1GP season taking place on home soil at Brands Hatch in April, what can the British crowd expect to see this time round and based on the experience of last year’s race, what are your expectations for the weekend?

JS: “I think the crowd can expect to see us making a damn good effort to win! We’ll be trying our up most to ensure that our driver and team have all the tools in place to get the job done. I’m sure we’ll be competitive, we certainly were at the opening race last year and I’m confident we’ll be even more so on our return to Brands Hatch!

Massa stays on in Barcelona Massa stays on in BarcelonaCool, damp weather interrupted the morning’s running at the Circuit de Catalunya today. Brazilian Felipe Massa continued to set the pace at the Barcelona circuit.  A clearer sky in the afternoon enabled drivers to put down some faster lap times.

Today's times:
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Massa Ferrari 1:16.406 83
 2. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 1:17.159 72
 3. Badoer Ferrari 1:17.447 71
 4. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1:17.584 77
 5. Panis Toyota 1:17.643 78
 6. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:17.748 47
 7. Barrichello Honda 1:17.922 96
 8. Webber Red Bull-Ferrari 1:18.249 44
 9. Piquet Renault 1:18.312 86
10. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1:18.374 86
11. Klien Honda 1:18.383 79
12. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari 1:18.526 72
13. Kovalainen Renault 1:18.775 51
14. Kubica BMW-Sauber 1:18.778 47
15. Wurz Williams-Toyota 1:19.009 47
16. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth 1:19.114 50
17. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth 1:19.277 66
18. Kobayashi Toyota 1:20.731 81

Toyota test Day 1 Toyota test Day 1Two drivers at the opposite ends of their F1 careers did the running for Panasonic Toyota Racing as the team began its preparations for 2007 at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya today. At the wheel of one TF106B was Kamui Kobayashi of the Toyota Young Drivers Program, enjoying his first day of F1 testing. The 20-year-old winner of the Rookie Cup in the 2006 F3 Euro series and pole sitter at this month's Macau GP spent his day getting used to the car and putting in mileage on various systems. In the other car was Olivier Panis, 20 years older than Kobayashi and conducting one of his last days of testing for Toyota before he retires from F1 at the end of 2006. Olivier concentrated on the Bridgestone tires that the team will use in 2007. Showers interrupted the morning session but the afternoon was dry and both drivers were able to put in some good running. The Toyota team will continue its Barcelona test tomorrow with race drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli. zzzz

Olivier Panis - Chassis TF106/09B
"Following the morning rain the track was damp and the conditions were not ideal, but after that everything went smoothly and we could start investigating the new Bridgestone tires. From what we can tell so far they are very consistent and there are no warm-up issues. Obviously they are harder than the tires we have been running during 2006 so there is less grip than what we have been used to. But it is the same for everyone and the fact that everyone is now on the same tires is good because it means we have a level playing field. This tire will be a good basis for everyone to begin their work for 2007 and now it is up to us to build up our package to make the most of it. I am next scheduled to return for my final test with Toyota in F1 at Jerez in a fortnight's time."

Kamui Kobayashi - Chassis TF106/07B
"I am obviously delighted that Panasonic Toyota Racing has given me the chance to test the Formula 1 car here as part of my role in the Toyota Young Drivers Program. Today was my first F1 test and it was a very enjoyable experience. Everything is completely different from the Formula 3 cars that I have been driving this year - especially the power of the engine and the braking - so I have to concentrate harder than ever. I made a mistake just before lunch and went off but there was no damage and we were able to put in a lot of laps without any other problems. The G-forces are a lot stronger than I have been used to, but my neck doesn't feel too bad so far. Of course, that's only one day and I'm sure I will have to train harder to be able to cope with the forces over longer periods. I still have a long way to go to improve but overall it was a good day. I am next scheduled to test the car next week at Jerez so I look forward to gaining some more experience of F1 there."

Gerd Pfeiffer, Test Team Manager
"Kamui did well today because he had to learn the circuit as well as the handling of the car. He put in a lot of laps and he was very careful in the car and always aware of the other competitors on the track. Both he and Olivier put in mileage on the gearbox and engine and they looked at different weight distributions and software. Of course, the main focus of this week's test is to try out the new Bridgestone tires which we will use in 2007 but it is still too early to judge how the rubber performs. We need consistent conditions to compare and contrast tires and today the circuit was never really stable enough to draw any real conclusions. Tomorrow we will have the race drivers in the cockpit and we will use the track time to get a clearer picture about the new tires and how we can get the package to work at its best."

SIRIUS Satellite Radio to provide NASCAR fans new coverage SIRIUS Satellite Radio to provide NASCAR fans new coverageSIRIUS Satellite Radio announced today that it will present unprecedented live radio coverage of NASCAR races starting in 2007, making listeners feel like they are on top of their favorite team’s pit box on race day. 

In addition to the live race broadcast, SIRIUS will take fans into the cars and pits by devoting up to 10 additional “Team Talk” channels that will carry the driver-to-crew communications of up to 10 different race teams during NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.  SIRIUS will combine the race broadcast with the driver-to-crew chatter on these channels, allowing fans to follow the overall race call and the in-car audio of a driver on a single channel throughout the race.  The channels will feature top drivers based on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings.  The lineup of drivers and their channel assignments will be available at www.sirius.com/nascar prior to each race.

Listeners will hear drivers and crew chiefs schedule pit stops and discuss strategy over audio of the overall race broadcast.  When the team members are not on the radio the audio of the live race broadcast will come up allowing listeners to follow the entire race uninterrupted. zzzz

“SIRIUS will provide NASCAR fans with a true insider’s experience on race day, taking them inside the helmets of the drivers and making them feel like a member of the pit crew,” said Scott Greenstein, SIRIUS’ President, Entertainment and Sports.  “By layering the driver chatter over the race broadcast and alternating between the two, we’ll provide a way to follow the race like never before. Fans can stay on a single channel for the entire race and get inside the car while being able through their SIRIUS radio to follow all the action on the track.”

“NASCAR eagerly awaits SIRIUS’ 2007 NASCAR Radio launch for programming just like this,” said Paul Brooks, Senior Vice President of NASCAR and President of NASCAR Digital Entertainment.  “SIRIUS will provide coverage of every one of our national series races and will also add exciting, unique channels and programming like these driver channels.  NASCAR is committed to setting standards for putting fans inside our drivers’ cars, so they can better appreciate the strategy, drama and thrills of NASCAR racing. This will allow avid fans to experience the sport in a new way, while helping to attract new fans as well.”

As the Official Satellite Radio Partner of NASCAR starting in 2007, SIRIUS will broadcast every NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, carrying the live broadcasts of Motor Racing Network (MRN), Performance Racing Network (PRN) and the IMS Radio Network’s broadcast from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In addition to live race coverage, SIRIUS will launch SIRIUS NASCAR Radio / channel 128 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 show hosted by the two-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion and veteran pit road reporter Matt Yocum.  A detailed schedule of programs and hosts on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio will be announced prior to launch.

track news
Michigan grandstand project begins Michigan grandstand project beginsBROOKLYN, Mich. – Michigan International Speedway’s fan enhancement projects, which were announced by the track in October, are beginning to take shape with the replacing of new grandstands in Turn One.

The old grandstands have been removed and concrete foundations for the new seating are being poured. Southern Bleacher Company has begun the project and is contracting much of the work to various businesses from throughout the Midwest and State of Michigan.

“This is just the beginning of many projects that will improve the overall fan experience at Michigan International Speedway,” MIS President Roger Curtis said. “This is all part of an ongoing commitment to the race fans that support us. We are dedicated to making their experience when they are here one that they will remember.”  zzzz

Two existing grandstands in Turn One are being replaced with new, fan friendly grandstands. The new grandstands will offer race fans premium seating and amazing sightlines of the two-mile oval. Seats in the new grandstands are four inches wider than the seats in the old grandstands, and will allow fans to have more leg room. In addition, all of the new seats are bench-style with seat backs. The new grandstands are also higher than the old grandstands so fans who sit there will have breathtaking views of all the on-track action at MIS — including a fantastic view down pit road.

The new seats will carry Michigan International Speedway’s familiar and distinct yellow and red pattern.

This is just the first of several projects that MIS is doing to enhance the race fans’ experience for 2007. Along with the new Turn One seating, MIS has also announced plans for enhanced tram stops and additional trams for disabled guests, as well as RV camping along pit road. A new parking lot for Skylounge Suite holders is also being constructed next to the AAA Motorsports Fan Plaza.

Deposits for the 2007 season are being accepted until Friday, Dec. 15 by calling the MIS ticket office at 1-800-354-1010. Deposits can be redeemed starting Jan. 3, 2007. Placing a deposit allows customers to purchase tickets after the renewal process but before they go on sale to the public. Tickets will go on sale to the general public beginning on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2007.  For additional information, call the MIS Ticket Hotline at 1-800-354-1010.

Industry News
BMW to launch diesel vehicles in the USA BMW to launch diesel vehicles in the USAWith the launch of its performance-oriented and efficient Diesel engines in the United States scheduled for 2008, the BMW Group announces another step in its strategy for profitable and sustainable growth. The engines which are known in Europe for their unique synthesis of dynamic performance and low fuel consumption will be made available for the US, the strongest-performing single BMW market.

For the BMW Group, the offer of Diesel vehicles in the US is a long-term oriented sustainable commitment. Therefore, an enhanced concept for minimum exhaust gas emissions has been developed for this engine to meet the strict emission standards in effect in California and other states. This makes it possible to simultaneously introduce these new cleaner Advanced Diesels as so-called 50 States (Bin5) models. All potential BMW customers across the US can choose an efficient and future-oriented technology with minimum environmental impact.

While the BMW Group has been offering Diesel vehicles in Europe since 1983 and 67% of the BMW sales there are Diesel models today, the acceptance of this type of engine has been increasing among potential vehicle customers in the US market. zzzz

As in Europe, the BMW Advanced Diesels will establish themselves as the sporty, clean and efficient choice in the US, and will further contribute to the unique reputation they have earned among independent experts.

The jury of the prestigious Engine of the Year Award has already granted this award to the BMW Diesel engines several times, particularly emphasizing their unequaled harmony of dynamic performance, innovative technology, surprisingly low fuel consumption and the smoothness which is so untypical of a Diesel.

The Diesel models for the US are an integral part of the EfficientDynamics corporate strategy which integrates a combination of short-term, mid-term and long-term measures for the continued reduction of fuel consumption and emissions while at the same time enhancing the performance and driving characteristics which are such a hallmark of BMW. For instance, through measures like the introduction of the fully variable valve control VALVETRONIC in 2001, BMW has achieved a greater improvement in fleet average fuel consumption than any other brand on the US market. In the long term, the BMW Group favors hydrogen as a sustainable source of energy.

The type designations and specifications of the BMW Diesel vehicles for the US will be announced at a later point in time.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in briefUPDATE
Official - Hakkinen to test McLaren
Light rain limits action in Barcelona
Dassas cautious on Renault's hopes for '07
Pedro admits frustration at race snub

Teams save dry tires at Spanish test
Renault, BMW, run new gearboxes in Spain
Super Aguri test Honda's 2006 car
British pair win magazine awards
Teams plan tests in Malaysia, Bahrain
Hakkinen to test McLaren this week
Hamilton rejects Coulthard warning
Schu to race go-kart this weekend
Alonso to join McLaren in January - Dennis
Renault play down title 'handicap' for 2007
2006 Nextel Cup Series Champion - Jimmie Johnson 2006 Nextel Cup Series Champion - Jimmie Johnson
• Jimmie Johnson - 31 years old from El Cajon, Calif. – won the 2006 Nextel Cup championship. He became the 28th driver to win the championship on NASCAR’s premier series, winning the championship by 56 points over Matt Kenseth.
• Johnson is the seventh different Nextel Cup Series champion in the last eight years. Only Tony Stewart (2002 and 2005) has repeated as series champion since 1998.
• His championship comes in his fifth full season of Nextel Cup Series competition. Johnson’s previous best season finish of second occurred in 2003 and 2004. He has finished in the top five in points in all five of his full-time seasons.
• Johnson won five races in 2006 (Daytona, Las Vegas, Talladega, Indianapolis and second Martinsville). He has 23 career victories in the Nextel Cup Series.
• Johnson also recorded one Bud Pole, 13 top-five finishes, 24 top-10 finishes this season. zzzz
• Johnson led the standings a four times for a total of 25 races in 2006, including the final three. Johnson took the lead following Race No. 1 (Daytona) and held the lead for the first four races. He then dropped to third for one race, retaking the point lead after Race 6 (Martinsville) for two races. He was second after Race No. 8 (Phoenix) but came back to take the lead for 16 races the next event. He dropped out of the lead following Race No. 25 (California) but retook the lead following Race no. 34 (Texas).
• Johnson’s worst points position prior to the Chase was third following Race No. 5 (Bristol). He began the Chase in the second position and dropped to ninth following a 39th-place finish in the first Chase race (New Hampshire). Ranked eighth entering Charlotte, he posted three second-places finishes and one third to move back into the points lead following Race No. 34 (Texas). Another second-place finish at Phoenix and a ninth at Homestead secured his championship.
• Johnson’s point lead of 124 points over Matt Kenseth following Race No. 22 (Watkins Glen) was the largest by any driver this season.
• Johnson has ranked in the top-10 in the championship point standings for 105 races, the sixth-longest streak in the top-10 since the point system modification in 1975.
• Johnson won the season opening Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400. The winner of the Daytona 500 has won the championship that season eight times. The winner of the Brickyard 400 has won the championship that season six times, including four consecutive years (1998 through 2001) and the past two seasons.
• This is Jeff Gordon’s first Nextel Cup Series championship in his fifth season as an owner. Gordon co-owns the Lowe’s Chevrolet with Rick Hendrick, making this the sixth Nextel Cup owner championship for Hendrick Motorsports.
• This is the first Nextel Cup Series title for Chad Knaus in his fifth full season as a crew chief, all with Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports. Knaus is 35 years old and from Rockford, Ill. NASCAR Statistical Services
Nextel Cup Series Champions Week – Day 2 Nextel Cup Series Champions Week – Day 2New York City traffic gets a makeover, NASCAR style, on Wednesday. The “Victory Lap,” featuring a procession of the Top 10 Nextel Cup Series drivers and their cars, takes the green flag at 8:50 a.m. Wednesday. For fans at home, the event can be seen live on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

It’s a moment not to be missed. The spectacle begins at 44th Street and Broadway, in front of Good Morning America’s Times Square Studios, and finishes at 42nd Street and Broadway, in front of the ESPN Zone – back in the heart of Times Square. In between, the 10 powerful stock cars wind their way through city streets, bringing a taste of NASCAR’s speed and sound to Manhattan residents and tourists alike. The procession will be led by 2006 Nextel Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe’s Chevrolet), who arrived in New York on Sunday.

Johnson has taken the busy schedule in stride and says he’s looking forward to a reunion with his crew members and fellow competitors later in the week. Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus, has also relished the time in New York and his new title of championship crew chief. “It’s been a good experience so far,” said Knaus, who was brought into racing by his father, John, a standout NASCAR Late Model driver at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway and a 1994 NASCAR regional champion. zzzz

A view from the top … Jimmie Johnson’s view from the top of the racing world matched his view from the “Top of the Rock” observatory, on the 70th floor of the historic 30 Rockefeller Center building on Tuesday afternoon. Johnson visited the high-rise landmark for a photo shoot, before adjourning to the Waldorf-Astoria to appear on the nationally-syndicated “NASCAR Live” radio show on the Motor Racing Network (MRN). Following the Victory Lap on Wednesday, preparations for the Awards Ceremony and the slate of activities continues. The schedule includes:

Thursday: The NASCAR National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon at Cipriani on 42nd Street will honor the Nextel Cup Top 10 drivers, champions from NASCAR’s other series and all Nextel Cup drivers who are receiving seasonal awards. Afterward, all 2006 series champions will gather for the annual champions’ photo shoot, at Rockefeller Plaza. On Thursday evening, the group of champions will be treated to an exclusive Champions’ Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria.

Friday: Johnson and his team will pose for formal photos on New York’s Park Avenue before attending several pre-awards ceremony receptions. Then, Johnson officially will be crowned Nextel Cup Series champion; the Awards Ceremony begins at 7 p.m. in the Waldorf-Astoria’s Grand Ballroom. SPEED will broadcast a live Awards Ceremony pre-show, “NASCAR Takes Manhattan,” beginning at 7:00pm/et, while TNT will air the ceremony at 9:00pm/et.

Pit Stop Tour … For any local race fans that missed the Victory Lap, several slower-moving cars will be visible throughout Champion’s Week. In fact, several race cars will be parked on display at many popular New York City locations every day this week.

From 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., today through Friday, six city locations will host the Champion’s Week Pit Stop Tour, where fans can view NASCAR stock cars up close. The locations are: Times Square/Military Island (Broadway between 43rd and 44th Streets); Bryant Park (6th Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets); by the News Corp. Building (6th Avenue between 48th and 49th Streets); Madison Square Garden (7th Avenue between 31st and 32nd Streets); at the Tissot Retail Gallery/Tourneau Atrium (57th & Madison Avenue); and the Sprint retail store located at 175 5th Avenue, between 22nd and 23rd Streets.

Running for a cause … Although he didn’t finish in the top 10 and won’t be in New York, Kyle Petty (#45 Wells Fargo/Tire Kingdom Dodge) has a very important event on his calendar this weekend. The Victory Junction Gang Camp, founded by Kyle and Pattie Petty, has teamed up with Runner's World columnist John Bingham for the inaugural Victory Junction Run Half Marathon and 4.5K run on Sunday, Dec 3. Petty, an avid runner who completed the Walt Disney World Marathon in January, is planning to compete in the run while his father, seven-time series champion Richard Petty, will serve as Grand Marshal. NASCAR PR

Johnson signs perfume deal Johnson signs perfume dealElizabeth Arden, Inc. announces that Jimmie Johnson, 2006 winner of the Nextel Cup Series and reigning champion of its premiere race, the DAYTONA 500, has signed on with the company as national spokesperson for the DAYTONA 500 Fragrance for Men.

"The DAYTONA 500 fragrance leverages the prestige and popularity of the great American race," said E. Scott Beattie, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Elizabeth Arden.  "As the winner of the 2006 Nextel Cup Series championship and reigning champion of the DAYTONA 500, Jimmie Johnson is the very embodiment of the DAYTONA 500 fragrance.  There is no better individual to communicate the brand message than Jimmie." 

DAYTONA 500 Fragrance for Men captures the thrill and exhilaration of the DAYTONA 500. Elizabeth Arden introduced the DAYTONA 500 fragrance, produced in partnership with the International Speedway Corporation, at the running of the 48th annual DAYTONA 500, won by Jimmie Johnson, in February of 2006. zzzz

"When you hear 'Start your engines' at Daytona each year, it's all about power, intensity and adrenaline for the next 500 miles," comments Johnson.  "The DAYTONA 500 fragrance has energy and confidence -- both great to have on or off the track."

Jimmie will be featured in national advertising, promotional packaging, in-store displays, sales promotions, and public relations activities.  The television advertising campaign, featuring Jimmie along with his wife Chandra, will underscore the brand's message 'Live DAYTONA 500.  Every Day.' The television campaign begins in December, geared for the holiday fragrance-buying season.

The DAYTONA 500 fragrance is available at JCPenney, Sears, Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl's, CVS/pharmacy, Rite Aid and other fine fragrance retailers.

Industry News
It's do or die for Ford It's do or die for FordFord Motor Co. is going all in on a bet-the-company financing strategy that will put virtually all of its U.S. assets -- including factories, office buildings and technology -- up as collateral in a multibillion-dollar credit deal designed to buy time to execute a North American restructuring.

The struggling automaker hopes to obtain $18 billion in financing to fund its turnaround and shore up its liquidity as protection against unanticipated events, such as a recession, the company said in a statement Monday.

The financing will include up to $15 billion in secured loans, which will be backed by most of Ford's domestic assets, as well as all or part of the stock it owns in subsidiaries such as Ford Motor Credit Co. and Volvo.

This is the first time Ford has put its assets up as collateral. Doing so gives it access to much-needed funding, but also translates into a big increase in debt-servicing costs. More critically, the company's future is on the line if it fails to execute a turnaround.

"This is Ford's one last shot to get it right," said Wall Street analyst John Casesa of the Casesa Shapiro Group LLC. "If the restructuring plan is not executed flawlessly, the company will lose its independence. Management is staking the entire future of the company on successfully executing this plan."  More at Detroit News

Industry News
DCX, VW to team up on diesel DCX, VW to team up on dieselDaimlerChrysler AG, Volkswagen AG and its Audi unit will announce tonight in Los Angeles that the automakers have agreed to jointly use a clean diesel technology developed by Mercedes-Benz as they seek to comply with stricter U.S. emissions standards, company officials said Monday.  The automakers will make the commitment to use and market Bluetec, which Mercedes-Benz debuted in three of its U.S. models last month. Another model will use the technology next year.

With their Bluetec pact, the automakers jointly brand a "green" technology as they attempt to answer the success of other companies' hybrid vehicles, especially Toyota's.

At an event today at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, one day before the city's auto show opens, DaimlerChrysler, VW and Audi are expected to show off Bluetec-equipped vehicles that are to be brought to the market by 2008.

Bucharest to host major races Bucharest to host major racesRomania's capital Bucharest will host an important international car event that includes five competitions next May, of which FIA GT European Championships and Grand Prix Masters are the most important ones, General Mayor Adriean Videanu announced here on Tuesday.

The general mayor signed a contract on the day, at the Bucharest City Hall headquarters, with Hartmut Beyer in his capacity as organizer and Scott Poulter, managing director of GP Masters.

According to the contract, starting 2007, the street circuit around the Parliament Palace will host a stage of the Grand Prix Masters circuit. Car lovers will have the opportunity to watch former F1 world champions Nigel Mansell and Emerson Fittipaldi and Italian Ricardo Patrese. zzzz

The other competitions are the FIA GT3 European Championship, British F3 International and Dacia Logan Cup.

"It is a great pleasure for me too that we are approaching the finish line of the road we started one year ago, namely the organization of a car event in Bucharest. Therefore, Romania's capital will enter the gallery of big organizers of such events and we will not stop here," said Mayor Videanu.

The cost of the car event scheduled for May 2007 amounts to some 15 million euros, a sum covered by the organizer, Bucharest Ring company. Around the 3.5 km-long-circuit the stands will be capable of seating over 100,000 spectators.

Grand Prix Masters, organized upon the model of Masters golf and tennis tournaments, started in 2004 with a single race and in 2007 the program includes six races in Qatar, England, Germany, Romania, South Africa and Australia. The 16 participating drivers, representing eight countries, have similar cars so that the competition is heralded to be very tight and spectacular.

GP Masters unfolds according to F1 racing, with training sessions on Friday and Saturday, the official qualification session on Saturday and the proper racing set for Sunday.

The three-day tickets for the five competitions included by the car event will range between 20 and 75 euros.
Romania's capital hosted in 1904 the first international car race. Source: Xinhua

RuSPORT is sold to Dan Pettit RuSPORT is sold to Dan PettitUPDATE Jeremy Dale told AutoRacing1.com that the name of the team will remain RuSPORT.

11/28/06 AutoRacing1.com spoke to RuSPORT President Jeremy Dale who confirmed the sale of the team to Dan Pettit effective November 24th. 

"Dan has purchased the team and will be the sole owner of RuSPORT," said Dale.  It has been a long and difficult process but this is good for RuSPORT, good for Champ Car and good for Carl Russo the previous owner.

"That was the first step that we had to get done.  Next we will work to try and renew Justin Wilson and then our driver for the No. 10.  We are of course looking at Cristiano da Matta who wants to get back to racing as well as Ryan Briscoe, who did a good job for us in the two races, and also Adam Carroll who tested well for us.  Our goal is to have both drivers signed before the first test in January.

"Engineer David Brown has indeed left RuSPORT as you rumored.  It was a mutual agreement.  There have been some other staff changes, but a lot was in motion before the ownership change.  The new car is a new model, so much more simplified, so less people are needed. We did a major fine tuning of staff fueled by the new car, and I think it is natural for any team, to review how they did the previous year and make necessary changes."

As for the rumor that Dan Pettit would no longer have ownership in PKV Racing, Dale said, "Dan is the sole owner of RuSPORT.  I am not aware of his contracts with PKV.  I am not privy to how he unwinds from that."

Press Release

RuSPORT has had a busy off-season welcoming their new owner and preparing for the arrival of the new for 2007 chassis, the Panoz DP01.  Dan Pettit, previous co-owner of PKV Racing, became the sole owner of RuSPORT as of November 24, 2006.  Dan looks to bring both his racing background and business expertise to the team.  RuSPORT will remain based in Loveland, Colorado, campaigning the #9 and #10 cars in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. zzzz

Dan Pettit has been involved with Champ Car racing since 2004 when he and partners, Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven founded PKV Racing.  Dan has served as CFO and President of European Operations for JDS Uniphase Corporation and has seen multiple companies through the transition from privately held organizations to public corporations traded on the NASDAQ. 

“I want to start by saying that Carl Russo has built RuSPORT into an excellent and competitive Champ Car team,” ascertained Pettit.  “After discussing my options with Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser at PKV Racing and Champ Car management, we decided that this purchase would be a good fit for both parties.  I will be working with Kevin in the future to ensure the success of both teams.  I want to thank Carl for all of his work and efforts, Kevin Kalkhoven, Jerry Forsythe, Paul Gentilozzi and Champ Car for their full support of RuSPORT and of my future ownership plans.  We look forward to building upon the championship culture and traditions that Carl and the entire RuSPORT team have already established.”

Jeremy Dale, RuSPORT President added “I would like to start by thanking Carl Russo for all of his support and vision these last four years.  He gave all of us a great opportunity and has been a great supporter of Champ Car.  We are all very thankful for that.  I’m very excited about Dan Pettit and his ownership position with the team.  With what Carl has created and with Dan’s vision looking forward, we will continue to flourish.  We are all very excited about the 2007 season, new Panoz chassis, new event venues and an individual like Dan Pettit leading the team.  Dan’s involvement with RuSPORT in 2007 and beyond will make things very exciting.”

Carl Russo remarked, “Obviously I have mixed emotions, on the one hand, Calix, the business I have the privilege of leading, is growing rapidly and commands my attention, but on the other hand that means I am unable to devote the energy to RuSPORT that the team deserves.  However I have no mixed emotions over the new leadership and direction of RuSPORT.  In addition to being a veteran race-winning owner, Dan Pettit is an accomplished technology industry executive and brings a high level of financial acumen that will help the team achieve a championship in this new era of Champ Car’s Panoz DP01.”
RuSPORT looks forward to the first series test of the new Panoz DP01 chassis in Sebring, Florida which will be held in late January, leading to the first race of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford 2007 season on the Streets of Las Vegas, Sunday, April 8th, 2007.  Las Vegas kicks off an exciting sixteen race season of the Champ Car World Series. 

Premat tops Champ Car test in Houston Premat tops Champ Car test in HoustonIt was a good day for the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Team today during testing at the MSR Houston track. Frenchman Alex Premat, who is testing with the team, was the quickest after the first day of on track action. The GP2 driver who only went out to shake down the car and to make sure everything was ready for his full day of testing tomorrow surprised everyone by putting in the quickest lap of the day on only his third lap of his third outing. Also testing with the Conquest Team was Guillaume Moreau. The F3 Euro Series graduate was immediately up to pace as well and only a few tenths off of his fellow Frenchman’s time.

With today’s performance Team Manager Chris Mower is looking forward to tomorrow after Premat gets a whole day of testing under his belt. “We got a glimpse of what Alex could do today with only about 35 miles in the car. I can’t wait to see what he will do tomorrow. I think we will get to see his true potential. Guillaume also did a good job, he gave us good feedback and got up to speed quickly. Tomorrow should be another good day with both drivers feeling they can improve the car and be quicker.”

After getting their first taste of a Champ Car today, Moreau and Premat will be back on track tomorrow morning for a final and full day of testing. More....

Rossi tops Jerez testing Rossi tops Jerez testingThe Jerez test is the third outing since the end of the 2006 racing season and marks the final opportunity for MotoGP track time before the winter test ban, which lasts from December 1 to January 20. World champion, Nicky Hayden, is missing the test to undergo shoulder surgery

1 Valentino Rossi ITA Camel Yamaha Team 1min 41.745 secs
2 John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1min 42.161 secs
3 Colin Edwards USA Camel Yamaha Team 1min 42.293 secs
4 Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team 1min 44.030 secs
5 Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 1min 44.307 secs
6 Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1min 44.394 secs
7 Marco Melandri ITA Gresini Honda 1min 44.876 secs
8 Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team 1min 45.574 secs
9 Shinya Nakano JPN Konica Minolta Honda 1min 46.200 secs
10 Jeremy McWilliams GBR Ilmor SRT 1min 47.216 secs
11 Andrew Pitt AUS Ilmor SRT 1min 48.518 secs
12 Vittoriano Guareschi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 1min 50.386 secs
13 Alex Barros BRA Pramac d'Antin MotoGP 1min 59.078 secs

Renault test notes from Tuesday Renault test notes from TuesdayThe Renault F1 Team today began a three-day test session in Barcelona with Heikki Kovalainen and Nelson Piquet Jr. at the wheel of the R26.
This sessions marks the Renault F1 Team's debut using Bridgestone tires, and the objectives for the week are to learn as much as possible about the tires and to give the drivers the opportunity to adapt their driving to them.

The latest testing agreement also provides for a reduction in the number of tires used by the teams during testing, to avoid the need for Bridgestone to manufacture and transport excessive quantities of tires. Both drivers therefore had access to three sets of tires each for their running today.

This first test since the team's double championship victory will also be used to complete reliability running on new components to be used in 2007.

Heikki Kovalainen began preparations for his Grand Prix debut next March in Melbourne in diligent fashion. He completed a substantial 91-lap program without any problems, setting a fastest lap of 1:19.188. zzzz

As for Nelson Piquet Jr., he continued to learn about the team and the car while running the first laps with the new 2007 gearbox in a 'hybrid' R26 chassis. He finished the day 9th fastest with a best time of 1:18.848.

Heikki Kovalainen:

"We had a very interesting first day at Barcelona running the Bridgestone tires, and I think we collected a lot of important data. The tires are very different to those I have used so far in Formula 1: there is less grip overall*, and we need to be a bit more careful in how we drive as well as adapting our style. But I am already confident I can adapt to them quickly, and that the team will have no problems understanding how to get the best from them."

Nelson Piquet Jr:

"This was my first day of F1 testing at Barcelona, and I completed my program without any problems and did a lot of laps. I am quite pleased with this first day because my aim was simply to run as much as possible to continue learning about the car."

Christian Silk, Chief Test Engineer:

"This was a good first day back at work for the team and the drivers. We primarily focused on learning about the new Bridgestone tires, going about the work in our usual methodical way without worrying about topping the timesheets. It is always important to learn and understand how we need to work with a new partner. We began that process today at the track, and will continue to develop our partnership throughout this week of testing."

* The 2007-specification tires were expected to provide less grip than those used during the 2006 season, as they are generally made of harder compounds, as well as providing a wider operating window than the 2006 products to enable every team to extract maximum performance from the tires. Renault

Kanaan, Wheldon try for Granja Viana 500 three-peat Kanaan, Wheldon try for Granja Viana 500 three-peatIndyCar Series champions Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon will attempt to win their third straight 500  Milhas Granja Viana this weekend at Kartódromo Da Granja Viana near Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Kanaan, Wheldon and Formula 1 star Rubens Barrichello will share two karts as they try to defend their title. The trio will join race host and IndyCar Series veteran Felipe Giaffone in one kart and with World Touring Car driver Augusto Farfus in another.

"Karting is my passion, and I always have a lot of fun racing, especially with a lot of friends wheel to wheel," said Kanaan, who along with Barrichello have won six of the previous nine 500-mile races.

IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves and Vitor Meira are also listed on the pre-race entry list. Meira will share a kart with Christian Fittipaldi and Mario Haberfeld, while Castroneves will drive with Cristiano Federico, Renato Russo and Daniel Serra.

Indy Pro Series driver Jaime Camara will drive with Giaffone, Carlos Barrichello and Otavio Mesquita.

Indy Pro Series teams test drivers Indy Pro Series teams test driversThree Indy Pro Series teams tested nine drivers at Homestead-Miami Speedway during Thanksgiving week. Six of the drivers, who were in an Indy Pro Series car for the first time, were granted their rookie licenses.

Brian Stewart Racing, which won the entrant championship the past two seasons, put five drivers behind the wheel of the 420-horsepower cars: Paul Guadagnoli, Brad Jaeger, Shane Jantzi, Patrick Larmour and Andre Villarreal.
Dave McMillan Racing and Part Sourcing International each tested two drivers: Gian Maria Gabbiani and Paet Hidalgo, and CR Crews and Jon Brownson, respectively.

Gabbiani, Guadagnoli, Hidalgo, Jantzi, Larmour and Villarreal all passed the rookie test on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval. Brownson passed his rookie test in October, while Crews competed in four Indy Pro Series events in 2006, recording two top-10 finishes. Jaeger passed his test last year. zzzz

"All of these guys were turning laps in the 29 second range, which is good for around here," Indy Pro Series technical director Butch Meyer said. "Three or four of them really stand out and could be front-runners right away in 2007."  Unlimited private testing from the end of the season until Feb. 18 is vital to teams as they look for drivers for 2007 and as they strive to develop a competitive edge on the competition.

Team owner Brian Stewart, a member of the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame, utilized the test to give an opportunity to two Canadian champions among others.

Jantzi, of Ayr, Ontario, won his fourth Ontario Formula Ford championship since 2000, recording 11 wins and three seconds in 14 races. Stewart also rewarded Larmour, winner of the Brian Stewart Racing Karting Championship. The 19-year-old from Woodbridge, Ontario, has been karting since age 13.

"That's my obligation to Canadian racing is to help out Canadians," said Stewart, who won several championships as a driver in the 1960s and '70s. "There are others out there working hard for drivers from other countries. I do it for the Canadians. Shane and Patrick are examples of guys who can benefit from this. Once you have a license, who knows what can happen."

Guadagnoli, who lives in Deville, La., has raced power boats since 2001 and is hoping to transition to racing cars. Jaeger, a Cincinnati native, made seven starts in the Star Mazda Championship in 2006. Villarreal, a Miami native, has competed in Stars of Karting, Skip Barber regional series and the USAC Ford Focus Midget series.

"Paul and Andre, they're both only 19. They're using this test to feel out other avenues of racing," Stewart said. "With Brad, this was more than just a rookie test. I tested him last year, so this was more of an opportunity to do a proper test - make changes to the car, really see what he can do."

Gabbiani has competed mostly in Europe, including as a test driver in A1GP. Hidalgo, a California native, has competed in Sports 2000.

The Indy Pro Series will conduct a pre-season Open Test for all teams and drivers Feb. 20 and 22 at Homestead-Miami. The first of 16 races in 2007 will be held at the facility on March 24.

Patrick to receive March of Dimes award Patrick to receive March of Dimes awardOne of the IndyCar Series' brightest young driving talents, Danica Patrick has blossomed into one of the country's brightest sports stars.

On Nov. 29, Patrick will receive the Sportswoman of the Year award from the March of Dimes (New York State Chapter) at its 23rd annual luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Noted journalist Frank Deford will introduce Patrick.

The Sports Luncheon, which raises funds for March of Dimes support programs for mothers and babies, also will honor tennis great Andre Agassi as Sportsman of the Year, WNBA president Donna Orender with the Sports Leadership Award and HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg with the Corporate Leadership Award.

Since the season ended at Chicagoland Speedway, Patrick has continued to race around. She was in Monaco to film the recently-released Jay-Z video from his comeback CD, has been promoting winter car care tips through her PEAK Antifreeze sponsorship, and has been featured in GQ and PINK magazines.

Patrick, the 2005 Bombardier Rookie of the Year, will make her debut in an Andretti Green Racing car at an Open Test Jan. 31 at Daytona International Speedway. The first of 17 IndyCar Series races will be under the lights March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

IndyCar Series trio nominated for honors IndyCar Series trio nominated for honorsSam Hornish Jr. headlines a trio of IndyCar® Series drivers on the ballot for the 2006 Auto Racing All-America team.

Hornish, a three-time IndyCar Series champion and 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner, is joined by 2005 IndyCar Series titlist Dan Wheldon and two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves as nominees in the open-wheel category. All three drivers have been previously honored as members of the team.

Others nominated in the open-wheel category are Sébastien Bourdais (Champ Car), A.J. Allmendinger (Champ Car), and Justin Wilson (Champ Car).

Balloting for the team will be conducted by the more than 300 members of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. The annual vote selects two nominees from each of seven categories for the first team, which is honored at the annual AARWBA banquet Jan. 13 in Indianapolis. The winner of the Jerry Titus Award also will be announced at the banquet.  The Titus Award honors the team's top driver - the one earning the most votes in the balloting regardless of category. The last two IndyCar Series champions -- Tony Kanaan (2004) and Wheldon - also won the Titus Award.

NASCAR season finale TV rating plummets again NASCAR season finale TV rating plummets againUPDATE The final rating for NASCAR's season finale Ford 400 Nextel Cup race at Homestead on NBC was a 4.7/9 share, down 20.4% from last year's 5.9/11 share.  And last year was down from 2004's 6.2/13 share.  Not a good way for NASCAR to end their big season finale.

11/20/06 The overnight TV rating for the season finale NASCAR Nextel Cup Ford 400 at Homestead Sunday was a 4.3/7 share, down 10.5% from last year's 4.8/9 share and down a whopping 24% from the previous year's 5.6/11 share. Brian France likes to cover-up NASCAR's downfall on NBC's last year of their contract but the fact remains that this race is down 24% from just two years ago, and as NBC pointed out when they called France a liar, three of the four races that have seen higher TV ratings this year were on NBC. So the fact remains that NASCAR has been down all year, even on FOX, and the brass in Daytona are fearful their money-making bubble is about to burst so France lashes out to the media that it is their fault and NBC's fault.

Carburetors? Dad, what's a carburetor? I hear NASCAR uses them.  Son, that is something they used in the early 1900's when they invented the internal combustion engine. It is the most primitive way of delivering air and fuel to the engine. They do still use them on lawn mowers, but even farm tractors are fuel injection these days. Dad the NASCAR announcer yesterday said Toyota was bringing their technology into Nextel Cup next year. Son, there is nothing on a NASCAR car that is technical. Toyota will have to dumb-down their engineers so they don't try to apply anything technical on their NASCAR cars or they will be called for cheating.  Related NY Times article on NASCAR's downfall.
TV News
Top 10 NASCAR Cup drivers on Good Morning America Top 10 NASCAR Cup drivers on Good Morning America
On Wednesday morning, November 29, the top ten NASCAR Nextel Cup Series drivers featuring champion Jimmie Johnson will be guests on Good Morning America.  The show airs from 7:00 am-9:00 am on ABC in most time zones.  Please check your local listings.
Massa tops Tuesday testing in Spain Massa tops Tuesday testing in SpainF1 teams returned to testing action today in Barcelona with Felipe Massa leading the way for Ferrari. Several drivers were with their new team for 2007 including Hamilton, Webber, Piquet, Davidson and Kovalainen.

Webber's first outing with Red Bull was interrupted by a couple of minor problems, while Coulthard got through his entire program. "It was good to be driving again and nice to see so many familiar faces in the team," commented Webber. Both men are back in action tomorrow, while Thursday sees David joined by Michael Ammermuller.

Tuesday Times

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Massa Ferrari 1:17.160 52
 2. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1:17.455 68
 3. Badoer Ferrari 1:17.555 77
 4. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 1:17.651 62
 5. Barrichello Honda 1:17.932 82
 6. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:18.239 63
 7. Kubica BMW-Sauber 1:18.519 46
 8. Rossiter Honda 1:18.678 85
 9. Wurz Williams-Toyota 1:18.691 94
10. Piquet Renault 1:18.852 93
11. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1:19.112 93
12. Kovalainen Renault 1:19.187 93
13. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth 1:19.216 78
14. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth 1:19.380 66
15. Webber Red Bull-Ferrari 1:19.439 45
16. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari 1:19.692 75

New medical directors named New medical directors namedDr. Geoffrey Billows and Dr. Michael Olinger have been named directors of medical services for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League, respectively, after serving for more than a decade under retiring medical director Dr. Henry Bock.

Billows and Olinger are responsible for administering all medical activities for their respective organizations. They replace Bock, whose retirement as senior director of medical services for IMS and the IRL is effective Jan. 1, 2007. Bock will remain as an advisor.

"The medical services needs for IMS and the IRL continue to grow as we constantly work to meet the unique demands of motorsports and this facility," said Joie Chitwood, IMS president. "We're confident Geoff and Mike will work together to continue Dr. Bock's great legacy while furthering the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's reputation as a worldwide leader in motorsports safety."

Said Brian Barnhart, IRL president and chief operating officer: "As we continue to refine existing procedures and explore new avenues of motorsports safety and medicine, the role is better suited to two physicians. Dr. Billows and Dr. Olinger are the ideal doctors for this position since they both worked closely with Dr. Bock for a long time." zzzz

Billows is the medical director of LifeLine Air Medical Transport Service and also serves as an adjunct clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine in the Emergency Medicine and Trauma Center of Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

He has extensive, award-winning experience in emergency medicine, serving as an emergency physician from 1995-2005 at Methodist after serving his residency there from 1992-95. Billows has written reports about emergency medicine in several medical journals and is a member of a variety of medical organizations, with a concentration on emergency medicine and air medical transport.

Billows also has a vast array of motorsports medicine experience. He has served as an emergency physician in the Clarian Emergency Medical Center at IMS since 1995 and has been an IRL Safety Team physician since 1998. Billows also has served as the chief medical director at many racing events, including the United States Grand Prix in 2006 and the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard in 2005 and 2006, and numerous IndyCar Series races.

"It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to work with Dr. Bock and Dr. Olinger over the past years," Billows said. "I respect them for their wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of motorsports medicine and truly value their friendship.

"I consider it an honor and a privilege to be afforded the opportunity to assume the responsibilities of medical director for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and am looking forward to working with Dr. Olinger to continue to improve upon safety and injury prevention in motorsports."

Olinger is the director of the Division of Out of Hospital Care in the Department of Emergency Medicine and also serves as a professor of clinical emergency medicine, both for the Indiana University School of Medicine.

He has 15 years of level-1 trauma center experience, working on the Emergency Medicine staff at hospitals in San Antonio, Denver and Indianapolis. Olinger also has served as the medical director for the Indianapolis Fire Department and Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services since 1991, for Marion (Ind.) County's Urban Search and Rescue Task Force since its inception in 1993 and has been a gubernatorial appointee to the Indiana EMS Commission since 1993. He also has done medical work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency during a variety of disasters.

Olinger also written reports about emergency medicine in numerous journals and is a member of a variety of medical organizations.

Like Billows, Olinger also brings extensive motorsports experience to his new role. He has been a deputy medical director at IMS since 1992 and has been an emergency physician for all three events at IMS, the Indianapolis 500, United States Grand Prix and Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

Olinger has served as deputy medical director for the IRL since 1995, traveling to races as an on-track physician. He was recognized with the Safety Award from the Championship Drivers Association in 2003.

"It's a really exciting time for the IRL, and I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead," Olinger said. "I'm glad Dr. Bock is staying around for guidance and help as we proceed forward. I really enjoy working with Dr. Billows and have great respect for his knowledge and skill, and we will work well together to further the goals of the IRL and IMS in motorsports safety and emergency medicine."

Davis says Ford will be in NASCAR a long time Davis says Ford will be in NASCAR a long timeUPDATE Ford Racing Technology’s Greg Specht said this week that the automaker is not panicking in the face of defections by Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler to rival manufacturers, and has absolutely no plans to leave NASCAR. Specht said he has been assured by corporate management that Ford will remain a viable part of NASCAR, and that adequate funding will be allocated to keep the automaker competitive with Chevrolet, Dodge and Toyota. Ford CEO Edsel Ford made similar comments on MRN Radio two weeks ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Motorsports Soapbox

11/24/06 For the three full-time Ford teams in the Nextel Cup Series, it was a bad season. Ford drivers won only six of 36 races -- all by Roush Racing, with Matt Kenseth taking four of those -- and the Blue Oval finished third in the manufacturers' standings.

However, the season ended on a high note at the appropriately named Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway as Roush Racing Fords swept the Cup, Busch and Truck series' finales (see related rumor on how these things always seem to conveniently happen in NASCAR).

"We're going to be fine," said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology. "Racing has been a big part of Ford's overall marketing program for a long time and we expect to be here for a long time in the future. zzzz

"Our teams have a good foundation and we have some very good, young drivers moving up through our system," he added. "It's just going to take some time."

"I know people are going to ask about Ford losing another marquee driver to a competitor," Davis said after Martin agreed to a part-time ride with Ginn Racing -- which fields Chevrolets. "All I can say is that every situation is different."

"We feel we support our teams as well as any other manufacturer and that our business model has worked as far as winning championships and being competitive," Davis told The Associated Press.

"We don't like it when drivers leave, especially when they're the quality of Mark. But the climate of NASCAR is changing and we've, unfortunately, felt the brunt of it this season."

FIA President to deliver keynote address FIA President to deliver keynote addressMax Mosley, President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, motor sport’s world governing body, will deliver a Keynote address at the 2006 Motor Sport Business Forum.

Mosley will offer an invaluable insight into the future of the FIA Formula One World Championship, one which will involve one of the biggest technological advancements in the sport’s history. With the inclusion of new ecologically-friendly regulations, it is a future that promises many benefits for all those involved from drivers and manufacturers to the sponsors and the fans.

Mosley said: “Formula One now finds itself on the threshold of a new era of technological relevance.

“Energy-efficiency has already been earmarked as the future of the multi-billion dollar global automotive industry and Formula One will now help to accelerate this process. It is a move that will affect every industry involved in Formula One and will change the whole ethos and outlook of our sport.”

This keynote address will be delivered on the morning of the second day of the Forum. This year’s Forum will take place on 6-7 December 2006 in Monaco

TV news
SPEED to broadcast 9 hours of Runoffs SPEED to broadcast 9 hours of RunoffsPut down that turkey sandwich and turn on SPEED, where five rounds of Runoffs racing await you this week.

Starting on Tuesday, Nov. 28, catch the first Touring 3 National Championship race in SCCA history at 12 p.m. ET. Watch as teammates Rick Gilhart, of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Scott Shelton, of Los Angeles, Calif., put on a clinic for the rest of the field in their Mazda RX8s. When the checkered flag flies, one of them will have earned his first National title.

Then stay tuned for Formula Ford action at 1 p.m. ET. Three-time National Champion Thomas Schwietz, of Winchester, Va. leads the field to the green flag, but will have his hands full with James Hakewill, of San Jose, Calif., and John Robinson II, of St. Cloud, Fla. Could a Formula Ford title be the latest addition to Schwietz’ impressive Runoffs resume?

If you miss Tuesday’s airings of the Touring 3 and Formula Ford races on SPEED, you can catch them again Wednesday morning at 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. ET respectively. zzzz

The show continues on Thursday, Nov. 30, at 12 p.m. ET with GT-3. John Saurino, of Tulsa, Okla., seeks to defend his GT3 title against former champions Collin Jackson, of Langley, British Columbia and John Black, of Olympic Valley, Calif., all piloting Nissan 240SXs. The winner will cross the finish line over 16 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, but which previous Runoffs champ has what it takes to master the new Heartland Park Topeka circuit?

Stay put for a wild Formula 500 race at 1 p.m. ET, where a lap two incident shakes up the leader board and promotes Clint McMahan, of Covington, Ga., and Bryan Golay, of Avon, Ohio, to the head of the field after starting 12th and eighth respectively. Golay appears to have McMahan’s number, but mechanical problems for Golay make for an unpredictable race to say the least.

This week’s Runoffs broadcast comes to a close with the Touring 2 race at 2 p.m. ET. He may start fourth, but defending T2 Champion Chuck Hemmingson, of Des Moines, Iowa, wastes no time leapfrogging his Subaru Imprezza WRX STi into the lead, leaving Kristian Skavnes, of Sparta, N.J., Will Turner, of Amesbury, Mass., and Robert Schader, of Boulder, Colo., to battle for second, a fight likely to distract you from Hemmingson’s dominating performance.

The Formula 500 and Touring 2 races will also be rebroadcast the following morning, Friday, Dec. 1, at 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. ET. SCCA

Legge to appear at SAE conference Legge to appear at SAE conferencePKV Racing driver Katherine Legge -- the first female racer to run full-time in the Champ Car World Series -- will make an appearance at the SAE Motorsports Engineering Conference Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 5 p.m.

Legge scored a victory in her first Atlantic race (Long Beach, 2005), making her the first female driver to win a major open-wheel race in United States. In that same year, she tested a Champ Car, Formula 1 car and an A1GP car in the off-season before signing with PKV Racing.

In addition to Legge's appearance, 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. zzzz

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.

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

Along with Legge and 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 Scot 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.

For more information on the SAE Motorsports Engineering Conference & Exhibition, please visit www.sae.org/events/mec/ . sae.org

Champion’s Week, day one report Champion’s Week, day one report National Media Appearances highlight Jimmie Johnson's busy Monday

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The whirlwind officially began for 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) on Monday, as he kicked off one of the busiest and most exciting five days of his career.

The reason? NASCAR is celebrating its 26th annual Champions Week in New York City this week, marking the beginning of Johnson's year-long reign and the recognition of all the sport's 2006 champions.

Included in this week's very busy and wide-reaching itinerary are national media appearances, activities with the other NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 drivers and the crowning moment -- Friday night's awards ceremony.

Johnson, who clinched his title in the series' season finale last week at Homestead-Miami Speedway, arrived in New York on Sunday evening, where he enjoyed a welcome dinner with NASCAR and Sprint Nextel executives at the sport's longtime Champions Week headquarters -- the historic Waldorf=Astoria Hotel. zzzz

"It's been a great journey for us," said Johnson. "We feel like we were in contention last year and the year before to win the championship but came up a little short. In racing there's only one winner; one champion. To be a champion is so difficult to do."

Johnson's Monday began with his appearance on ESPN's Cold Pizza, followed by guest stints on radio shows and an early-afternoon appearance on FOX News Live. He also was scheduled for afternoon interviews with Forbes.com, XM Satellite Radio and Associated Press interactive.

Johnson, who won his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title in only his fifth season, hopes this week's activities won't be his last as a series champion.

"I really feel we are coming into our prime as a team," he said. "I am hopeful that as time goes on we can stay in that championship mindset and win a couple more."

Champions Week, Part II ... Jimmie Johnson's Champions Week gets busier as the hours tick by. Here's a quick glance at some of what the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion will experience over the next four days:

Tuesday: More national and New York media interviews, visits and a prime photo shoot at one of the Big Apple's Art Deco landmarks -- Rockefeller Center's observation deck, or, "the Top of the Rock." Later that night, Johnson appears on the nationally-syndicated "NASCAR Live" radio show on the Motor Racing Network (MRN).

Wednesday: The third annual Victory Lap -- a procession of the Top 10 drivers in their show cars -- will thunder through Manhattan beginning at 44th Street and Broadway in front of ABC's Good Morning America studio in Times Square and finishing at 42nd Street and Broadway in front of ESPN Zone. Later, expect a photo shoot at Times Square's Military Island.

Thursday: The NASCAR/National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Myers Brothers Luncheon at Cipriani on 42nd Street will honor the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 drivers, champions from NASCAR's other series and all NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers who win seasonal awards. Afterward, all 2006 series champions will gather for the traditional champions' photo shoot at Rockefeller Plaza.

Friday: Johnson and his team will pose for formal photos on New York's Park Avenue before attending several pre-awards ceremony receptions. Then, Johnson officially will be crowned NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion; the awards ceremony begins at 7 p.m. in the Waldorf=Astoria's venerable Grand Ballroom. TNT will air the ceremony at 9 p.m.

Fast Facts

What: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony

Where: Grand Ballroom, The Waldorf=Astoria Hotel, New York City.

When: 7-10:30 p.m. (ET). Friday, Dec. 2.

TV: TNT, 9 p.m. (ET & PT).

Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.

Final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Jimmie Johnson 6,475. 2. Matt Kenseth 6,419. 3. Denny Hamlin 6,407. 4. Kevin Harvick 6,397. 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 6,328. 6. Jeff Gordon 6,256. 7. Jeff Burton 6,228. 8. Kasey Kahne 6,183. 9. Mark Martin 6,168. 10. Kyle Busch 6,027.

11th-place driver: Tony Stewart.

Raybestos Rookie of the Year: Denny Hamlin.

Musical Entertainment: Jewel.  NASCAR

Action in Barcelona Action in Barcelona(GMM) The first test of the 2007 pre-season kicked off at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya on Tuesday morning.

Former Williams driver Mark Webber wore plain black overalls as he tested a 2006 Red Bull for the first time, while many runners appeared to be using slick Bridgestone tires.

The interim Hondas of James Rossiter and Rubens Barrichello appeared in a striking all-black livery, while the team's former long time test driver Anthony Davidson debuted for Super Aguri.

Honda's new tester Christian Klien watched from pit lane.

McLaren, whose newly appointed race driver Lewis Hamilton was spotted being towed back to the pits after an early mechanical problem, was also in action, as were runners for BMW-Sauber, Renault and Williams.

tv news
Carl Edwards to appear on TV Carl Edwards to appear on TVLate Wednesday night, Carl Edwards will be a guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. The show airs at 12:35 am-1:35 am (early Thursday morning) on CBS.  Please check your local listings.
Alonso, Raikkonen, absent as tests resume Alonso, Raikkonen, absent as tests resume(GMM) Despite recent negotiations involving the Renault, McLaren and Ferrari teams, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen will be notable absentees as post-season testing kicks off in Spain this week.

The pair, who are respectively switching from Renault and McLaren, remain under contract to their current squads until the last day of next month, having failed to secure premature releases.

They will thus only reappear on test circuits in the new year.

Sport Bild reported that, without Raikkonen's release from McLaren to replace the retiring Michael Schumacher at Circuit de Catalunya, Ferrari is scheduled to run with Luca Badoer and Marc Gene.

Spanish reports maintain, however, that negotiations will continue between Alonso's management and Renault in order that the Spaniard may debut for Woking based McLaren in mid December.

If the 25-year-old is able to test early, McLaren may then decide to release Raikkonen.

RTL, meanwhile, quoted BMW-Sauber principal Mario Theissen as saying of the upcoming Spanish tests: "Tires will be the number one topic."

And while the Japanese tire supplier has vowed equality in the paddock, BMW's race driver Nick Heidfeld added: "I can imagine Ferrari keeping a small advantage next year due to their long association with the Bridgestone company."

Alonso voted best driver of 2006 Alonso voted best driver of 2006(GMM)  Spain's leading racing magazine, Grand Prix, has perhaps unsurprisingly named Fernando Alonso as the best driver of 2006.

More than fifty per cent of the voting readers plumped for the 25-year-old world champion from Oviedo, with Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen respectively attracting just 11.4 and 1.8 per cent of the votes.

Ferrari, however - despite failing to win the constructors' title - pipped Renault to the post in the categories for best car, best engine and best race strategy.

"(Alonso) is a very special guy," said McLaren boss Ron Dennis, who added this week that he was looking forward to welcoming the Spaniard to the Woking team in January.

"He does not seek fame and he is just passionate about driving racing cars.  He is even more passionate about winning."

BMW not expecting wins in 2007 - Heidfeld BMW not expecting wins in 2007 - Heidfeld(GMM) Nick Heidfeld says he does not expect BMW-Sauber to produce a race-winning car for next year.

"It is naturally our goal to win," the 29-year-old, unusually sporting a full beard at the Valencia circuit for the 'World Finals' Formula BMW event last weekend, said.

"But we do not expect that yet even though we are going in the right direction. For 2007 we have high expectations but we also know Formula One well enough to realize that you don't become world champion in one year or two.

"You don't win just because you put a BMW sticker on the car." zzzz

BMW, having acquired Peter Sauber's Swiss-based team in late 2005, finished this year's constructors' world champion in fifth.

Heidfeld, to resume testing at Barcelona this week, says it was a good result, and thinks the personnel and driver movements elsewhere in pitlane could work in BMW's favor.

But he warned: "Today's Formula One is unlike the past, when only three teams were capable of winning. There are no more small teams.

"We are going to improve even more, but I would be content if we rose by one place to finish fourth (in 2007)."

Nakajima makes test debut for Williams Nakajima makes test debut for Williams(GMM) Williams' new engine supplier, Toyota, has published photos of Kazuki Nakajima making his Formula One test debut at the weekend.

On a damp Fuji circuit in Japan, Williams' newly signed 21-year-old test driver - with a red 'Toyota' logo sewn onto his blue and white overalls - completed several laps of the circuit in a regularly-livered 'FW28' single seater.

Grove based Williams was powered by Cosworth engines in 2006.

Meanwhile, a statement issued late Monday by Super Aguri revealed that the small Japanese team is nonetheless planning a comprehensive program of testing for the pre-Christmas period.

The Leafield based squad said it had, notably unlike Spyker, built an interim car that will test on all nine days of scheduled November-December running at Barcelona and Jerez.

Anthony Davidson will drive the Honda-powered car at Circuit de Catalunya this week.

ARCA crew member killed ARCA crew member killedUPDATE Below are the funeral arrangements for Daniel Becker, 19 and his mother (who also perished in the accident) Pamela Becker, 42
Calling hours will be from 1:00-8:00PM on Thursday, November 30 at the Penwell-Gabel Funeral Home, 203 N. Washington, Junction City, KS  66441. 
Family visitation from 6:00-8:00PM and Rosary at 7:30PM on Thursday. 
The Funeral Mass will be at 11:00AM on Friday, December 1 at St. Xavier's Catholic Church, 218 N. Washington, Junction City, KS  66441.
Condolences can be e-mailed to the family via www.PenwellGabel.com

11/22/06 On the eve of Thanksgiving, where members of the Fast Track Racing team should be preparing for a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends, the team is in mourning of the unexpected and tragic passing of 19-year old Dan Becker, who lost his life Tuesday (November 21) evening in an auto accident outside of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Becker, the right front tire changer of the No. 11 Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the ARCA RE/MAX Series was a tremendous asset to the Fast Track Racing team and will be deeply missed. 

The entire Fast Track Racing team extends their sincere condolences to the family. At this time, funeral arrangements are pending.

Track News
Construction underway at the Monster Mile Construction underway at the Monster MileAt Dover International Speedway, the roar of cars has been replaced by the sounds of construction crews, as work on a new skybox complex and infield media center is taking shape at the one-mile track. The additions will be completed in time for the June 1-3, 2007 NASCAR race weekend in Dover.

The new skybox complex will include 12 new suites, each with a premium view of pit road, victory lane and the entire concrete oval. The structure will connect to the existing skyboxes near the start/finish line at the one-mile track. Footers were in place before the September 22-24, 2006 race weekend, and construction of the steel infrastructure has been steady since the haulers pulled out of Dover after race weekend.
The complex will add two tiers to the top of the grandstands, measuring the same height of the existing skyboxes, and includes “Velocity,” a luxury suite for individual race fans. zzzz 

Velocity is a new 90-person, all-inclusive suite option that offers fans a chance to experience a race at the Monster Mile like never before. Velocity offers fans a blend of modern conveniences and impressive amenities. Positioned above the frontstretch, and boasting a premium view of the entire track, a ticket to Velocity provides guests with access for all three days of race weekend, including qualifying; multiple state-of-the-art viewing screens with superb audio and video; convenient premium parking and private restrooms; unlimited gourmet food selections; in-seat beverage service, with non-alcoholic, beer, wine and spirit options; a trackside tour that puts guests on the track on Sunday of race weekend; and much more.

Tickets for Velocity cost $ 1,500 for the entire race weekend and are expected to sell quickly. More information can be obtained by calling the Dover International Speedway ticket office at 800-441-RACE, or by clicking here.

Along with the skybox construction, a 2,000-square-foot addition to the infield media center is also underway to accommodate the news media that report on Dover’s races. Because Dover International Speedway is within driving distance of many major metropolitan markets, including Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and New York City, the expansion will provide necessary workspace for the many local, regional and national media that cover NASCAR events in Dover.

The infield media center expansion will add approximately 60 seats for public relations representatives and photographers that attend race weekends in Dover; 18 flat-panel televisions; a revamped dining area; two new interview rooms and an office; additional bathrooms; and a new work area for Dover PR staff.

In May 2006, Dover International Speedway announced plans for a “Monster Makeover,” a five-year capital improvement project that will provide new offerings and upgraded amenities for fans, competitors and the media. With the construction of the skybox complex and infield media center expansion underway, this is just the start of new things to come at the Monster Mile.

NASCAR returns to Dover International Speedway on June 1-3 and Sept. 21-23, 2007. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 800-441-RACE or visit www.DoverSpeedway.com.

Vegas Grand Prix ticket sales to begin Dec. 11 Vegas Grand Prix ticket sales to begin Dec. 11LAS VEGAS – Tickets will go on sale for the first Vegas Grand Prix on Dec. 11, 2006.  Tickets will be available at www.vegasgrandprix.com, or by calling 1-877-795-RACE (7223).

The three-day festival of speed and entertainment will feature the season-opening race in the Champ Car World Series, a Historic Grand Prix race, along with support racing events, boxing matches, concerts, expos and a celebrity poker tournament.  The April 8 Champ Car World Series race will feature open-wheel cars reaching speeds of up to 180 miles per hour  around a 2.44-mile, 14-turn temporary street course on and around “Glitter Gulch” in the heart of downtown Las Vegas.

In addition to the on-track activity, Vegas Grand Prix will present a free street party with headlining entertainment downtown, as well as host a charity gala, celebrity poker tournament and boxing events during race week. More details will be released on the star-studded lineups for these events and separate tickets will be available for purchase in the near future for the charity gala and boxing events. zzzz

Admission into the event site is free.  To access the seating areas with premium views of the race track, to view Jumbotron video boards of live race action and enjoy daytime concerts, patrons will need to be in a ticketed grandstand area.  All grandstand seats on the Fremont Street Experience side of downtown are general admission and the seats on Grand Central Parkway, by the World Market Center, are reserved seats with pit and paddock access. General admission seats when purchased in advance are priced at $12 for Friday, $29 for Saturday and $44 for Sunday, or if purchased at the gate tickets are $14 for Friday, $32 for Saturday and $47 for Sunday. A three-day general admission advance purchase ticket price has been set at $70 or $78 if purchased at the gate. Three-day reserved grandstand purchase tickets are priced from $140- $175 and include pit and paddock access; advance pricing not available.

“Most aspects of this three-day festival of speed and entertainment are free to the public, but we have a variety of ticketed options and prices for specific and preferred seating for all events during the weekend,” said Vegas Grand Prix President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Freudenberg.

2006 Champ Car highlights 2006 Champ Car highlightsWith the 2006 The Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford campaign in the books, there are a number of unforgettable moments that will come to mind as the volume of Champ Car history is recalled. 

SPEED has taken some of these moments on and off track, and are giving fans an opportunity to voice their opinions on what were the best moments of the season in all forms of auto racing. Eight of the show's 10 awards will be decided by an open fan vote letting them have the last word when it comes to the network's inaugural SPEED Performance Awards. Champ Car fans can vote for their favorite moments of the year by visiting SPEED where they can also view videos of the most unforgettable moments in racing this year before letting their voice be heard. 

Currently fans can vote for their favorite Champ Car moments in the following categories: Best Rivalry - Sebastien Bourdais and A.J. Allmendinger, Biggest Upset Win – A.J. Allmendinger’s win in the G.I. Joe’s Presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland, Biggest Hit – Katherine Legge at the Grand Prix of Road America, Oops Award – Mario Dominguez gets into teammate twice, Temper Temper Award – Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani at the Canary Foundation Grand Prix of San Jose Presented by Taylor Woodrow. On December 4th more nominees will be revealed and fans can begin voting for the following categories: Best Victory Celebration, Best Finish, and Racer Magazine Rookie-of-the-Year.

The results of the ballots will be revealed during the SPEED Performance Awards Show which is slated to air on SPEED on February 8, 2007 at 8:00 pm Eastern time, with the 90-minute special culminating with the presentation of the Mario Andretti Trophy to the inaugural SPEED Performer of the Year. Champ Car
track news
Gateway gets new manager Gateway gets new managerLenny Batycki Appointed Vice President and General Manager of Gateway International Raceway Madison, IL. - Gateway International Raceway is pleased to announce the hiring of veteran motorsports executive Lenny Batycki as Vice President and General Manager. Batycki (Bah-tick-ee) will assume responsibility for all day-to-day operations and staff at the multi-purpose motorsports facility near St. Louis.

In the shadow of the famed Gateway Arch, the 1.25-mile Gateway International Raceway plays host to NASCAR's Busch and Craftsman Truck Series, as well as the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals. The track begins its 11th  season of operations in 2007. Batycki comes to Gateway International Raceway with more than 15 years of experience in senior motorsports management. He was most recently team president of Biagi DenBeste Racing, owner of the No. 4 NASCAR Busch Series team. Batycki handled all of the team's business affairs, contract negotiations, and directed their public relations efforts and website. Before joining Biagi DenBeste Racing, Batycki was the owner and lead consultant of Strategic Advisors, a sports marketing consulting firm. He also spent several years at the vice president level with Doug Herbert Performance Parts, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, Richard Childress Racing, and North Carolina Motor Speedway.

"Lenny has a proven track record at the executive management level," said Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. "His in-depth knowledge of all aspects of the motorsports industry will provide great leadership and direction for Gateway International Raceway for years to come." Batycki will relocate to the St. Louis area from Charlotte with his wife Annette and son Jake.
Super Aguri F1 winter test dates Super Aguri F1 winter test datesSUPER AGURI F1 Team will commence its preparations for the 2007 season this week when it will join the first Formula One test of the winter season at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.  SAF1 Team race driver Anthony Davidson will conduct the driving duties in the team’s interim car for the three days of the Spanish test.  SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM will be conducting a further six days of testing before the Christmas break at the Circuito de Jerez from 6th-8th and 13th-15th December.
Alonso wedding rumors denied Alonso wedding rumors deniedIn Spain the media is excited about Fernando Alonso's wedding at the Maldives. According to the Spanish media Alonso flew to the Maldives with his girlfriend Raquel del Rosario and their family. What was just a little news item because a big story in Spain. Now Alonso's manager got tired of it and slammed the Spanish press. "Fernando Alonso and Raquel del Rosario did not get married in the Maldives as some national media said in the past few days."

He furthermore said: "It is sad that after years defending the colors of his country and carrying the name of Spain all over the world to receive such a treatment from his own country."

Wallace Returns to Dyson Racing Full-Time in 2007 Wallace Returns to Dyson Racing Full-Time in 2007POUGHKEEPSIE, NY  - Andy Wallace will be celebrating his thirteenth year with Dyson Racing by partnering with Butch Leitzinger full-time in the team's #16 entry for the 2007 season.  Replacing recently retired James Weaver, Wallace  is the only driver who has won all of the "big four" sportscar races: the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Daytona 24 Hours, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Petit Le Mans.  He has won Le Mans once, Daytona three times and Sebring twice. Additionally, he has five class victories in these world-class events, twenty-one over all podiums, and four class podiums.

"I know it is an over worked word, but it really is an honor to be chosen for this seat," said Wallace.  "I drove with James for a dozen years at Dyson Racing and no one was quicker in a sportscar. This is a special team - family would be a better word, and to be back full time with the guys is a great early Christmas gift.  Like most drivers for Rob Dyson, I have had a great enduring relationship with fond memories. Rob gives you the tools to do the job right  and as a driver, you cannot ask for more." zzzz

Wallace co-drove with Leitzinger and Weaver this year at the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans, adding another Sebring class podium to his record. In recent years, Wallace shared the teams' #20 car with Chris Dyson. In 2003, Wallace assisted in Chris Dyson's LMP675 (now LMP2) championship, scoring three wins, four seconds and a third with the American.

"I am thrilled to have Andy back with us full-time," noted Chris Dyson.  "He is one of the great sportscar drivers.  Andy is smooth, quick, consistent and unselfish as a team member. He has been part of our family for a long time and like James Weaver, is unparalleled on feedback and car setup. He has contributed much to our success over the years. There really is no one better out there. It was a decision that made itself." The expanded twelve-race 2007 American Le Mans Series kicks off with the Winter Test January 21 - 24 at Sebring, FL, and the first race of the season will be the 55th annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17th.

tv news
SPEED teams with FOX for F1 coverage SPEED teams with FOX for F1 coverageSPEED is teaming with big brother FOX Sports on a new multi-year deal with Formula One Management to provide complete coverage of the FIA Formula One World Championship™ racing through 2009, with FOX broadcasting four events each season, including live coverage of the U.S. Grand Prix and Canadian Grand Prix. SPEED will air the remaining 13 events live, including the famed Grand Prix of Monaco.

“SPEED has served F1 fans for 11 consecutive seasons with live coverage of racing, practice and qualifying, but this new deal will bring unprecedented consistency and exposure to the North American television audience,” said Hunter Nickell, SPEED Executive VP and General Manager. “With FOX adding muscle to the North American events and the experienced SPEED announce team calling the entire race season, it will be the coolest year ever to be an F1 fan on this continent.”

"Just as NASCAR grips America, Formula One grips the rest of the world,” said FOX Sports chairman David Hill. “FOX Sports is thrilled to be working with our brothers at SPEED to broadcast four of the world's best open wheel races to 110 million Americans for the next several years."

Recently signed to multi-year contracts with SPEED, the on-air team for both networks will be lead by veteran broadcaster Bob Varsha, with analysis from former F1 driver David Hobbs and former F1 mechanic Steve Matchett. Formula One journalist Peter Windsor will provide reports from the pits and starting grid. zzzz

In 2007, FOX will provide live coverage of the U.S. Grand Prix and Canadian Grand Prix, plus taped coverage of the British Grand Prix and French Grand Prix. SPEED will provide live coverage of qualifying and practice for the entire season.

“The combination of SPEED’s unequaled expertise in Formula One and Fox Sports’ clear-cut position as the leader in innovative motor sports coverage will come together to present F1 at a level to match the incredible competition on the track,” said Rick Miner, SVP Production and Executive Producer of Formula One™ on SPEED.

The 2007 Formula One™ television schedule (all races to be shown live except French GP and British GP):

March 18 – Australia (SPEED)
April 8 – Malaysia (SPEED)
April 15 – Bahrain (SPEED)
May 13 – Spain (SPEED)
May 27 – Monaco (SPEED)
June 10 – Canada (FOX)
June 17 – United States (FOX)
July 1 – France (FOX)
July 8 – United Kingdom (FOX)
July 22 – Germany (SPEED)
Aug. 5 – Hungary (SPEED)
Aug. 26 – Turkey (SPEED)
Sept. 9 – Italy (SPEED)
Sept. 16 – Belgium (SPEED)
Sept. 30 – Japan (SPEED)
Oct. 7 – China (SPEED)
Oct. 21 – Brazil (SPEED)

In addition to coverage of Formula One, the new agreement also includes SPEED coverage of GP2 Series™ racing, as well as broadband rights to the USGP for SPEED On-Board Pass access to on-board cameras.

NASCAR Junkies Get Off-season Fix NASCAR Junkies Get Off-season FixNow that NASCAR has wrapped up another season, NASCAR junkies can get their off-season fix with a collectible DVD gift set that retraces the sport’s untold, colorful past.

Hailed as “…the finest NASCAR documentary ever made,”* American Stock: The Golden Era of NASCAR 1936-1971, offers a completely uncensored rearview mirror look at the rags to riches rise of NASCAR, and the average Joes, moonshiners and WWII heroes who pioneered what has become the fastest growing sport in America.

Produced by John Warner, one of Virginia’s favorite sons, the 4 1/2-hour, 4-volume DVD series has been applauded for its painstaking authenticity and the filmmaker’s revved-up-with-speed Ken Burns-esque storytelling style.

Unlike books and other films on NASCAR, Warner captures the emotional, human side of racing. He takes viewers on a trailblazing ride through NASCAR’s pre-commercial glory days by interviewing more than 50 early NASCAR legends and their families. zzzz

The series also includes special bonus profiles of Wendell Scott, long considered to be the Jackie Robinson of NASCAR, and Curtis Turner, one of NASCAR’s most notorious early drivers.

The series pays homage to the sport’s WWII founding fathers and is appropriately dedicated to the men and women of today’s U.S. Armed Forces.

This was a father/son collaboration -- Warner’s father, U.S. Senator John W. Warner III (R -VA), who is Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, narrates the series.
Packaged in a keepsake vintage-inspired film canister, the series includes Army weight dog tags embossed with American Stock’s motto Drive Loud Journey Proud and a 31-page album of previously unpublished racing photos.

A true labor of love for the former professional racecar driver turned filmmaker, Warner spent five years and $3 million of his own money capturing NASCAR’s early, gritty history on film so that it is never lost. Seven personalities who appear in the series have already passed away.

Video clips of the series can be previewed at http://www.americanstock.us.
Retailing for $59.95, the series can be purchased at http://www.americanstock.us or by calling 800-405-9514. It is also available at http://www.amazon.com.

track news
2007 Mid-Ohio schedule 2007 Mid-Ohio scheduleDUBLIN, Ohio – Six main attractions, the return of open-wheel racing and two long-standing grassroots races highlight the 2007 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course schedule, unveiled today by TrueSports, Incorporated.

New for 2007 at the Lexington, Ohio road course, is the highly anticipated combined American Le Mans Series and IndyCar Series event (July 20-22). The technological marvels of the American Le Mans Series are the featured attraction during the Acura Sportscar Challenge on Saturday, while the IndyCar Series will challenge the historic facility for the first time as it hits the track for The Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio on Sunday. This combined event is poised to be the largest and most significant motorsports event in the state of Ohio.

Among the traditional events in the track’s 2007 lineup will be the EMCO Gears Classic presented by KeyBank, featuring the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series and the Triple Crown Tuner Challenge (June 22-24), the Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio (June 29-July 1), Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire (August 3-5), the National Auto Sport Association Championships (September 14-16), the AMA Road Race Grand Championships and Motocross Manufacturers Cup (September 21-23) and the AMA Superbike Shootout (September 28-30). zzzz

“We continually strive to offer our spectators and sponsors the best collection of motorsports events possible,” said Michelle Trueman Gajoch, president of TrueSports, Inc. “The 2007 season will once again deliver excitement and diversity as we highlight more series and showcase more racing than any year in the history of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. We’re looking forward to another exciting season.”

The Grand American Road Racing Association’s Rolex Sports Car Series will run a new split-class format during the EMCO Gears Classic presented by KeyBank (June 22-24). The traditional Saturday evening endurance race will be reserved for the Series’ Daytona Prototypes and a Sunday afternoon race will be run for the GT machines. The three-day event will also feature the Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series, and the top tuner cars in the Midwest will return for the Triple Crown Tuner Challenge.

Celebrating the history of motorsports and sportscar racing, the Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio (June 29-July 1), will bring 50 years of auto racing history to the track, including the annual Concours d’Elegance and British Car Showdown. The ‘Cars of Italy’ will be the featured marques.

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course’s traditional summer Cycle-Fest begins with the thirteenth annual AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days (July 27-29). This historic event will feature vintage road racing, motocross and time trial events, bike shows, vendors, guest speakers, seminars, new model demo rides, auctions and the largest motorcycle swap meet in North America.

Completing the ten days of two-wheel action will be the Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire (August 3-5), the country’s largest stand-alone AMA Superbike Championship race. In an event that is one of the best and most popular on the calendar, Ben Spies will attempt to defend his 2006 sweep of the Wiseco Superbike 100 Doubleheaders.

Sports cars and sedan racing will be back for one final time in September when the top amateurs from across the country will vie for national titles at the National Auto Sport Association Championships (September 14-16). The NASA Championships will feature amateur road racing, time trials, autocross, and drifting competitions in multiple classes.

The AMA Road Race Grand Championships and Motocross Manufacturers Cup (September 21-23), will bring the country’s major motorcycling associations and their amateur riders to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to vie for 34 national championships. At the same time, marquee motocross manufacturers and their riders will be competing in an invitational to determine who goes home with the Manufacturers Cup title.

The AMA Superbike Shootout will again be the season finale for both the AMA Superbike Championship, and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and will include four unique Dunlop Tire Qualifying Heat Races and a consolation race. The event will also crown champions in AMA Supersport, Superstock and Formula Xtreme classes.

Season passes and individual tickets are available now by calling 1-800-MID-OHIO or by logging on to www.midohio.com.


June 22-24 EMCO Gears Classic presented by KeyBank  (Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series) Triple Crown Tuner Challenge
June 29 – July 1 Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio
 Feature: The Cars of Italy
July 20-22 Acura Sportscar Challenge
 (American Le Mans Series)
 The Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio
 (IndyCar Series)
July 27-29 AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days
August 3-5 Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire
 (AMA Superbike Championship)
September 14-16 National Auto Sport Association Championships presented by Toyo Tires
September 21-23 AMA Road Race Grand Championships
 AMA Motocross Manufacturers Cup
September 28-30 AMA Superbike Shootout
 (AMA Superbike Championship)

Young Greek hopeful to test with Mi-Jack Conquest today Young Greek hopeful to test with Mi-Jack Conquest todayIndianapolis, Indiana – A lot of young race car drivers could only dream of driving an Atlantic car. For Vasilis Zahos that dream is becoming a reality. As a young Greek driver, Zahos was selected to test with the Mi-Jack Conquest Atlantic Team in order to develop his skills in view of the Athens Champ Car race project in 2008. The test, which will take place at the MSR Houston track today, will also be the first one conducted under the watchful eye of new Team Manager Steve Ragan.

“The Greek Champ Car project is very exciting and with that project in perspective, I’m glad that we have the opportunity today to evaluate a young Greek driver like Vasilis. He’s a perfect fit with our Atlantic Team and our philosophy of developing young drivers,” said Eric Bachelart, co-owner of Mi-Jack Conquest Racing.

Zahos, a 22-year-old from Athens, may have little experience in open-wheel cars but he is glad to have been chosen to test with the Conquest Atlantic Team and he sees today’s test as his first step toward his dream of racing in the Champ Car World Series. zzzz

“I’m very excited about testing with the Mi-Jack Conquest Atlantic Team and also a little nervous because it will be the first time that I drive an Atlantic car and I want to do well. It will be a special experience for me. My goal for this test is to get used to the car, learn as much as possible and to do my best,” said Zahos, who spent this week at the Conquest race shop in Indianapolis. “I love to race and I hope to be able to race here (in the United States) one day soon.”

Like most drivers Zahos’ passion comes from racing go-karts. He started at the age of nine and through his eight years in that type of racing he accumulated countless victories and won six Greek go-karting Championships. In 2003, he made the switch to cars. He participated in the Toyota Yaris and the Nissan Micra Cup and won top rookie honors in both series.

The last few seasons the Athens-native won a couple of Championships; in ’04, he was crowned Nissan Micra Cup Champion and in ’05 he was the MG ZR Cup Champion. For 2006, he continued to race cars but took up English lessons in July and made the move to the United States about a month ago to pursue a ride in North American open-wheel racing.

Bank of America becomes official bank of NASCAR Bank of America becomes official bank of NASCARThe Bank of America agreed a deal to add US stock car racing series NASCAR to its portfolio of sports sponsorships.

Under the five-year deal, reported to be worth between $15 million and $20 million, Bank of America becomes the official bank of NASCAR.

Bank of America will be NASCAR's exclusive sponsor for banking and related financial services, including checking and savings accounts, credit and debit cards, mutual funds and securities brokerage services. The company gets the right to use the NASCAR logo and name in marketing and advertising promotions through 2011.

The deal marks a change in how NASCAR lines up sponsors, reducing its sponsor base by consolidating deals and seeking opportunities to cover entire industries in one deal.

Bank of America already has an "official bank" deal in place with baseball.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in briefUPDATE
Glock hopes for BMW test role
BMW wants first win in 2008 - Theissen

Vietoris to test BMW-Sauber next year
Zanardi wants second BMW-Sauber test
Hamilton to be Button rival - Hill
'Marlboro' defends staying on F1 grid
Kerpen rejects proposal to honor Schu
Spyker eye first win in five years
Gene in Barbados
Carlin to enter GP2 in 2007 Carlin to enter GP2 in 2007Carlin Motorsport is entering the GP2 series in 2007 in a joint venture with DPR. Trevor Carlin will head the operation and Dave Price is staying with the team, which will enter under the name of Carlin DPR.

The new team is relocating to the former Brabham F1 factory in Chessington, Surrey, which Carlin bought earlier this year. The GP2 program will be assisted by the use of the in-house wind tunnel which is also being used for F3 development.

Trevor Carlin commented, “I’m absolutely delighted that we are moving into GP2 next season. Dave and I have come to an agreement which is beneficial to both of us and having him involved will be invaluable. I am confident that the team will be able to build on the successes that DPR has achieved in its last two years in GP2.”

Dave Price said, “Trevor and I have known each other for over twenty years and we’ve always worked well together. We’ve been discussing this for several months and now the time is right from both of our perspectives to form this alliance. It puts the top on the Carlin pyramid of race series, from the 15 year-old drivers entering the sport, right through to the door of F1.”

2007 BMW and Mercedes F1 unveiling dates 2007 BMW and Mercedes F1 unveiling datesOn the 16th January 2007 the BMW Sauber F1.07 will be unveiled to the public in Valencia. Drivers Nick Heidfeld, Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel, BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen, Technical Director Willy Rampf and Peter Sauber will all be on hand.  McLaren Mercedes will be holding its presentation in Valencia the day before.
Industry News
Toyota exec dies doing plane stunts Toyota exec dies doing plane stuntsDavid W. Hermance, Toyota Motor Corp.'s U.S. executive engineer for hybrid-electric autos and other advanced technology vehicles, died Saturday when a small plane he was piloting crashed into the Pacific Ocean. He was 59.

Hermance, a licensed pilot who competed in aerobatic competitions, was performing stunts off the coast of Long Beach, Calif., when his Interavia E-3 aircraft may have stalled, Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said.

Calls to the Federal Aviation Administration and Los Angeles County Fire Department weren't returned.

Hermance joined Toyota's U.S. unit in 1991 to evaluate the company's engines for compliance with federal and California emissions regulations after 26 years as a General Motors Corp. engineer. In 2000, he became the Toyota City, Japan-based company's top North American engineer for the gasoline-electric system used in the Prius and other hybrid models.

"He was an eloquent spokesman for their hybrid program," said Thad Malesh, an Automotive Research Group analyst in Moorpark, Calif., who served on panels with Hermance.

"This is a huge loss for Toyota from an engineering standpoint and from a public relations standpoint." Detroit News

Track News
Races pump up local economy Races pump up local economyFast Track to Riches Study finds racetracks generate big bucks for Illinois community. In case you have been on a space shuttle the last 10 years, you may not have heard that National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and its estimated 75 million fans generate big money in local communities. Not only does NASCAR play large among its traditional southern base, but now the endorsement-laden racing industry is making an economic impact up north—Joliet, Ill., to be exact.

A recent study by Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, a professor in the Departments of Geography and Economics as well as director of the University of Illinois' Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) examined the “direct, indirect, and induced economic activity” generated around Joliet’s Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway for the years 1997-2003. Chicagoland Speedway has a seating capacity of 75,000; Route 66 Raceway has a seating capacity of 32,000. REAL found that Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway, which feature NASCAR and National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) races, respectively, provided an overall economic activity of $755.6 million.

Other highlights:

  • 9,750 jobs, all full-time equivalent jobs from construction and annual operations of the facilities and affected businesses in the area;
  • $275 million in payroll and benefits for people who are directly or indirectly employed as a result of construction or events at the facilities;
  • $20 million in taxes paid in 2003 alone to federal, state, and local governments; and
  • 1.626 million in the total spectators that have attended more than 380 event days over the last six years. Annually, an estimated 160,000 motel and hotel rooms were rented in Will and Cook counties by out-of-state visitors.

REAL was assisted in the study by the Wilmette-based Frost Motorsports LLC, a consultant to the racing industry. [Editor's Note: Strange that the study does not mention the tracks IRL race. Perhaps it generates no local economic benefit]

industry news
NASCAR manufacturers continue to bleed red ink NASCAR manufacturers continue to bleed red inkNASCAR's current three car manufacturers GM, DaimlerChrysler AG (Dodge) and Ford -- reported third-quarter losses.

• GM lost $115 million but the loss was significantly smaller than the $1.7 billion the automaker lost in the same year-ago quarter.

• Chrysler lost $1.5 billion in the quarter, pretty much ensuring a loss for the full year.

• Ford lost $5.8 billion -- its biggest loss in 14 years -- and is predicting an even bigger loss in the fourth quarter.

What does this have to do with NASCAR? If the Big Three aren't turning profits, cuts will follow and ultimately racing budgets will be affected. Why be in NASCAR if it does not help car sales one iota?

Angry NY residents run NASCAR out of town Angry NY residents run NASCAR out of town
Priaulx gives up on F1 Priaulx gives up on F1Double WTCC Champions Andy Priaulx admitted he stopped chasing his dream to become a Formula 1 race driver. The Briton, who has won several touring car series, was testing with BMW Williams last year but gave up on an F1 career for the future. "I have beaten lots of guys who are racing in F1," the Guernsey-born Priaulx told BBC. "I would rather be seen as one of the best drivers in the world at what I do than a Formula One test driver."

"Who wants to drive around a rainy circuit three days a week with nobody even watching? At least I'm racing week in, week out - fighting for championships.

"The buzz of driving a Formula One car is great but I love racing. I'm a racer. That means more than pounding around Silverstone in the winter. I have been through the whole process, and at least I was in the boxing ring with blood on my face having a go.

"The fact that I am racing at all gives me great satisfaction as I have never had much money behind me and it is still a rich man's game. I have been with guys who have been rated as some of the best around but are now doing nothing. So I'm delighted to be one of the few that is working professionally and fighting for world titles."

NASCAR Tradition Continues in New York NASCAR Tradition Continues in New YorkDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR will crown Jimmie Johnson as the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion next week in New York, but he won’t be the only one sporting a 2006 championship ring at the world-famous Waldorf=Astoria Hotel.

Along with Johnson, the champions from all of NASCAR’s 11 other racing series are invited. They’ll take part in the festivities and have their own dinner celebration on the eve of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Awards Banquet.

For the past several years, NASCAR had gathered its champions for a commemorative photo opportunity, which was usually held at the site of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season finale. In 2002, this gathering was moved to New York and for the champions, it became the experience of a lifetime. zzzz

The 2002 champions posed for photos with members of the Fire Department of New York, an especially poignant moment as NASCAR and the nation remembered the Department’s fallen heroes from the Sept. 11 tragedy the year before.

The following year, “horsepower” took on new meaning as the champions assembled in New York’s Central Park, for a photo with one of the Park’s trademark horse-drawn carriages. A light snow began to fall during the photo shoot, creating a picture-perfect memory of the Holiday season in the City.

The snowy Central Park shoot was also a first in the lifetime of one champion. Auggie Vidovich, a native of Lakeside, Calif., and that season’s NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series champion (now racing in the NASCAR Busch Series) had never seen snow before that day.

In 2004, the champions were brought to another City landmark, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. On board the former U.S.S. Intrepid, that season’s champions paid homage to military history and NASCAR’s visit to New York by posing for photos on the deck of the massive aircraft carrier.

Another first – the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion owner, Jack Roush, joined in the photo. It was also Kurt Busch’s second all-champions photo shoot. As the 1999 Southwest Series champion, Busch had gone to Atlanta Motor Speedway for that year’s photo op.

In 2005 the group stayed indoors for photos with NASCAR President Mike Helton, at the Waldorf=Astoria, but the moment was nonetheless a special one. At no other time during the year are all of NASCAR’s champions together in one location.

This year a new gathering is planned, at another New York City landmark. Following the NASCAR/NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 30, the champions will convene for photos at Rockefeller Plaza.

2006 Champions…
TODD BODINE | NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
ERIC HOLMES | NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series
MIKE OLSEN | NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series
MIKE STEFANIK | NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
JUNIOR MILLER | NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour
TIM SCHENDEL | NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series
GARY LEWIS | NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series
J.R. NORRIS | NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series
RIP MICHELS | NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series
PHILIP MORRIS | NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series

Johnson photo from Live with Regis and Kelly Johnson photo from Live with Regis and KellyLive with Regis and Kelly hosts Regis Philbin (right) and Kelly Ripa congratulate NASCAR Nextel Cup championship driver Jimmie Johnson on the show airing Friday, Nov. 24, 2006. Photo credit:  Buena Vista Television
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