PRI Trade Show Opens To Big Crowds The 2011 PRI Trade Show opened to big crowds and enthusiastic buyers and exhibitors at the Orange County Convention in Orlando, Florida, on Thursday as the show returned to its traditional first weekend of December date. The event is widely viewed as the three biggest business days in auto racing.
The day began with a packed opening day breakfast as SPEED’s Dave Despain brought a live version of the popular Wind Tunnel program to the day’s festivities. SPEED personality Robin Miller, NASCAR driver Ken Schrader, and a host of guests that included the legendary Don “Big Daddy” Garlits joined Despain on stage.
“We had a very strong opening today,” said Steve Lewis, PRI Trade Show producer. “We had a standing room crowd of more than 3,500 for breakfast. The show floor was packed, the aisles are full and everyone was happy. Our registration people upfront were about ready to pass out from making so many badges. It was a great first day.”
GM willing to buy back Volts General Motors will buy Chevrolet Volts back from any owner who is afraid the electric cars will catch fire, the company's CEO said Thursday.
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, CEO Dan Akerson insisted that the cars are safe, but said the company will purchase the Volts because it wants to keep customers happy. Three fires have broken out in Volts after side-impact crash tests done by the federal government.
Akerson said that if necessary, GM will recall the more than 6,000 Volts now on the road in the U.S. and repair them once the company and federal safety regulators figure out what caused the fires.
Insight Racing Confirms 2012 GRAND-AM Driver Line Up After making an immediate impression at the front of the field in 2011, Insight Racing will look to build on an impressive rookie season of GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competition as the team announced a strong driver line up for the 2012 campaign. The line up for both team BMW entries represents largely known entities to the team, combined with new talent that will progress the teams goals for success in 2012.
Insight Racing will compete in the Grand Sport (GS) class with drivers Martin Jensen (Denmark) and Jeff Wesphal (United States) co-driving the No. 19 Insight Racing BMW M3. Jensen is a proven touring car ace, with Westphal in a full-time seat with the team after showing tremendous speed in a limited schedule of race outings with Insight in 2011.
Earnhardt Jr. Wins Ninth Straight Most Popular Driver Award
Earnhardt Jr. is still riding on Daddy's coattails and garnering Daddy's most popular driver votes
Junior Nation has spoken once again. Fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. voted the Sprint Cup Series driver the NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver for the ninth straight year. Earnhardt Jr. earned the award after receiving the most online fan votes among all eligible drivers throughout the 2011 racing season. The trophy was presented by award sponsor Wheaties FUEL to Earnhardt Jr. at the National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers ceremony Thursday in Las Vegas.
Fans cast nearly 1.5 million total votes throughout the 2011 campaign, voting up to once per day for their favorite driver at www.WheatiesFuelMostPopularDriver.com. The field was narrowed to 10 finalists and the vote counts were reset to zero for the final 10 races of the season. The nine other finalists were (in alphabetical order): Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart.
AT&T Williams today confirmed that Pastor Maldonado will enter his second season in Formula One as Williams’ race driver; and also announced the promotion of Valtteri Bottas to Reserve Driver.
Speaking first of Pastor, AT&T Williams Team Principal Frank Williams said, “Pastor has proven this year that he is not only quick but also that he is able to maintain a consistent and strong race pace. Pastor has been responsible for all of our forays into Q3 in 2011 and his race at Monaco was outstanding. Pastor has also settled into the team at Williams very well, contributing strongly in the factory and with our partners. He will play a critical role in 2012 as we rebuild the team and move forward.”
Newman/Haas announces its withdrawal from the IndyCar series
Paul Newman's death and Carl Haas' (above) failing health spelled doom for the 2nd winningest team in IndyCar history
Newman/Haas Racing announced today that it will not enter cars in the 2012 IndyCar Series.
“The economic climate no longer enables Newman/Haas Racing to participate in open wheel racing at this time,” said Carl Haas, owner and co-founder of Newman/Haas Racing.
Newman/Haas Racing won 107 Indy car races from 1983-2011, a total that ranks second only to Penske Racing's 159 victories since 1971. Chip Ganassi Racing has earned 86 race wins since 1994.
Haas teamed up with actor and fellow SCCA Can-Am series team owner Paul Newman, forming Newman/Haas to enter the CART-sanctioned IndyCar World Series in 1983 with Mario Andretti as the driver. Andretti won the 1984 CART championship.
Mayfield gets Jan. 24 court date in quest against NASCAR
Will appeals court side with Mayfield who is in trouble up to his eyeballs?
Jeremy Mayfield’s next day in court – against NASCAR – is set for Jan. 24 in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will hear the appeal. The panel will decide whether Mayfield has enough evidence for the case to continue. Neither NASCAR nor Mayfield will know which appeals court judges will hear the case until the morning of the hearing.
Mayfield has not competed in NASCAR since the May 2009 drug test, which Mayfield claims was a false positive resulting from a combination of prescription medication for adult-deficit hyperactivity disorder and over-the-counter allergy medication.
Star Mazda announces 2012 schedule The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear today announced a departure from tradition with a 2012 schedule featuring 18 races on 10 weekends, most with the IZOD IndyCar Series. Details of a new Mazda Road to Indy television package will be announced at a later date.
On-track action begins with an official Star Mazda Championship series test at Barber Motorsports Park, March 19-20. This will be the first official series test. From the Barber test, teams will head directly for IndyCar's high-profile season-opener, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 24-25, and then return immediately to race at Barber Motorsports Park on the IndyCar weekend, March 31-April 1.
GM’s U.S. Sales Up 7 Percent in November General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) today reported total sales of 180,402 vehicles in November, up 7 percent compared with November 2010.
Retail deliveries were up 15 percent compared with the same month a year ago and accounted for 77 percent of GM sales. Deliveries to fleets were down 14 percent.
“We are seeing a broad spectrum of customers return to the market,” said Don Johnson, vice president, U.S. Sales Operations. “Truck sales showed a very solid increase, as we expected, but the momentum building behind our most fuel-efficient vehicles was even stronger.”
More famous names for Wheldon Memorial race A number of international racing stars have confirmed their attendance for the Dan Wheldon Memorial Kart Race, which is to be staged in Milton Keynes next Monday. The Englishman tragically lost his lift in this year’s Las Vegas IndyCar finale.
Prior to his days in America, the Indianapolis 500 winner of 2005 and 2011 was a popular face on the UK racing circuit, having challenged the likes of Anthony Davidson and 2009 World Champion Jenson Button in go-karts.
Next Monday’s race – organized by sports car star Johnny Mowlem - will take place at the Daytona Milton Keynes karting centre, with professional drivers going up against Wheldon family members plus paying public guests and all funds going towards the Wheldons’ chosen charity, Alzheimer’s Society.
Keselowski and Wolfe get extensions from Penske Racing One of the most successful combinations in NASCAR will continue for years to come at Penske Racing as the organization announced today that both driver Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe have agreed to multi-year contract extensions. Keselowski and Wolfe will continue to lead the #2 team as it pursues the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship in 2012 and beyond.
"The winning combination of Brad Keselowski and Paul Wolfe has been terrific for Penske Racing and we are excited to announce that they will continue to work together," said Roger Penske. "With one NASCAR championship and numerous wins in both the Nationwide Series and the Cup Series to their credit, this has proven to be a special pairing. Although Brad, Paul and the #2 team fell short of winning the Cup Series title this season, we know they will continue to be championship contenders for years to come."
In their first season of working together in 2010, Keselowski and Wolfe teamed up to produce six wins and five poles on their way to winning the Nationwide Series championship for Penske Racing. That team also established a new series single-season record with 26 top-five finishes and completed all but one lap of competition throughout the 2010 season. Penske Racing
Tio Ellinas quickest in Jerez The final 2011 GP3 Series™ post season test kicked off today at Circuito De Jerez in sunny but cool morning conditions. Familiar faces in the paddock included Daniel Abt who was last week’s quickest man in Valencia, and American Conor Daly who joined the German at Lotus ART. Italian Formula Arbath Champion Patric Niederhauser was back after an impressive first test last week with Jenzer Motorsport. GP3 regulars Matias Laine and Marlon Stockinger also returned to the field. New faces included David Fumanelli, who impressed on his first day of testing with MW Arden.
Marko clarifies Red Bull commitment to F1 Helmut Marko has moved to explain a number of rumors that Red Bull may be pulling out of Formula 1 in coming years. The Austrian energy drinks company has been part of the sport since 2005, after it bought out Jaguar Racing, and has now celebrated double title-winning triumphs for two consecutive seasons.
Despite the company’s immense success in recent years, reports have continued to suggest that Red Bull may not be remaining in F1 for a considerable amount of time.
“That’s not entirely true,” company advisor and former driver Marko explained to the official F1 website. “There have been comments from Dietrich Mateschitz (owner of Red Bull parent company) that, should the framework requirements not apply, then there could be second thoughts. Formula 1 is a marketing tool for Red Bull, which means that we permanently evaluate our input and the output of our commitment.
Red Dragon Corvette First DP Entry for 50th Rolex 24 Never mind that the new GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Daytona Prototype has yet to turn a wheel on the racetrack. Stallings filed the first Daytona Prototype entry for the 2012 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona, and will field a No. 99 Corvette DP for Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty.
The "Red Dragon" No. 99 Riley has been one of the most popular Rolex Series cars since its debut in 2005, and was raced to 15 victories and the 2007 and 2009 DP championships by Gurney and Fogarty.
Toro Rosso beefs up technical staff Luca Furbatto and Jon Tomlinson, formerly technical heads of McLaren and Williams, have now partnered at Toro Rosso ahead of the 2012 Formula 1 season.
Both men started work at Toro Rosso on Thursday, although Furbatto will be appointed Chief Designer on 1 April and reporting directly to Technical Director Giorgio Ascanelli. Having worked with McLaren since 2000, he now replaces Ben Butler who will return to work with Red Bull Technology in Milton Keynes.
Tomlinson has been a key factor in Williams’ recent Grand Prix cars, but left the Grove outfit when Technical Director Sam Michael made his exit. He now joins Toro Rosso’s wind tunnel team in Bicester, taking up the position of Deputy Head of Aerodynamics and reporting to Nicolo Petrucci. Prior to his Williams days, Tomlinson was a member of staff at both Jordan and Renault.
As so-called ‘customer cars’ were banned in F1 from the start of 2010, Toro Rosso was presented with the challenge of designing its own car completely from scratch for the first time. Previously, the chassis were designed by subsidiary company Red Bull Technology, which also takes care of the sister Red Bull Racing cars.
After MLR71, the first new entry for the 2012 season, Auto GP keeps attracting the interest of the best teams in international motorsport. While the outfits that are already part of the Series are confirming their commitments and in some cases are willing to increase the number of cars they line-up, other top-notch teams from different championships are targeting an entry in Auto GP.
Team Ghinzani is one of them, as team boss Piercarlo Ghinzani revealed in an official press release from the team: "Entering Auto GP would be a great opportunity, as I strongly believe that nowadays the championship is the best value for drivers that are exiting from F3 and looking for the next step of their careers. Enzo Coloni and his staff managed to create a sort of little World Championship, and it's having quite a big impact on drivers. Furthermore, we know the car very well as it's the same we used as Team Italy in the first three season of A1GP, clinching wins, podiums and pole positions. That's why I think that entering the Series is the right choice for us".
Dalziel enters Continental Cup with Starworks in Ford Mustang Grand-Am Rolex race-winning driver Ryan Dalziel has set his sights on a dream season with Starworks Motorsports.
Orlando-based Ryan finished the season in stunning fashion with a dramatic win in Mid-Ohio and has now revealed he will line up with the Fort Lauderdale team in the #8 Starworks Ford Daytona Prototype for the 2012 campaign.
Ryan, 29, will also team up with Venezuelan ace Enzo Potolicchio for the 13-round series, which starts with the 50th Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.
But the dynamic duo will also be pushing for wins in the Continental Tires GS class in a Starworks Ford Mustang.
At the Press Conference of the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show Honda introduced a new engine series, new concept cars and the new Asimo. Tokyo saw the world premiere of the small sports EV Concept model, the EV-STER, a completely new next-generation EV sports model Honda is proposing.
Also introduced were Honda's unique concept models of motorcycle and automobile electric mobility. A new next-generation engine and transmission series under the name "EARTH DREAMS TECHNOLOGY" will be applied first to the N BOX, a new mini-vehicle model that Honda also announced at the Tokyo Motor Show, and then will gradually expand the applications.
By combining it not only with gasoline engines, but also with diesel engines, and the new CVT series, Honda will strive to be number one in fuel economy in each category within the next 3 years. The spotlight was also on the all-new ASIMO humanoid robot which is now equipped with the world's first autonomous behavior control technologies
Ford Racing announces ‘Tournament of Ovals’ It has been a banner year for Ford Racing. As the ‘Blue Oval’ celebrated the 110th anniversary of Henry Ford’s historic win in Sweepstakes, its drivers in NASCAR, NHRA, action motorsports and road racing have been carrying on Henry’s tradition of excellence in their Ford-powered competition cars.
Now fans and followers of Ford Racing’s Facebook page can help celebrate 2011 by crowning a Facebook Fans’ Driver of the Year in Ford Racing’s first Tournament of Ovals.
The Ford Racing Facebook Fans’ Tournament of Ovals features a field of 34 drivers, including brackets dedicated to Ford Racing North America’s primary programs – NASCAR (Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series), NHRA Drag Racing (Funny Car, Pro Stock and Sportsman), action motorsports (World Rally Championship, Rally America, Global RallyCross, Formula Drift and Lucas Oil Off Road short course truck racing) and road racing (Grand-AM and Speed World Challenge).
Dixon Takes a Break from Testing at Auto Club Speedway
IZOD IndyCar Series driver Scott Dixon talking with a young INDYCAR fan after autographing his hat during the Hard Card event with Auto Club Speedway season ticket holders.
Two-time IZOD IndyCar Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon summed up his expectations on the series returning to Auto Club Speedway in 2012 with an enthusiastic: “Under the lights in California, it couldn’t be any better.”
After a seven year absence, INDYCAR is once again set to bring excitement to Auto Club Speedway in 2012 and on Tuesday at the Hilton Garden Inn, Fontana, the official hotel partner of Auto Club Speedway, Hard Card season ticket holders were treated to the first of many Hard Card events. Scott Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda, took time out from his testing schedule to meet with fans, sign autographs, pose for photos and give them the inside “scoop” on what to expect when INDYCAR returns in September under the lights at Auto Club Speedway.
Menezes joins Team Pelfrey in 2012 Team Pelfrey has added another piece in its pursuit of top honors in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, signing returning series standout Gustavo Menezes for the upcoming 2012 season.
The Californian, who will be part of a talented multi-car effort by the Florida-based squad, joins England's Jack Hawksworth as part of the lineup for the series' reigning Team Champion.
"We are thrilled to welcome such a talented young driver to our team," commented Team Pelfrey team manager Geoff Fickling. "Gustavo is a great kid with a ton of talent, and we're very excited to begin working with him. I couldn't be happier with how our team is shaping up heading into the new year."
The 17-year-old Menezes joins Team Pelfrey having stood on the podium once, finished in the top-five twice and earned nine top-10 finishes en route to eighth in the Star Mazda Championship title fight in his inaugural season of car competition.
IndyCar manufacturers get back on track in California Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe systematically ran through a list of aero objectives Nov. 29 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., as engine manufacturer testing continued in preparation for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
"It was a productive day," said Dixon, who was behind the wheel of the Honda-powered Dallara DW12. "There was a long list of things to do and that we got done. Handling is still an issue, but I think and hope we are making progress.
"Tomorrow and in the future we need to work on weight distribution. We need to somehow get more weight up front and make the car not as loose going into the corners. I think with time that will come."
Some key 2011 TV stats for IndyCarUPDATE For the second consecutive year, the IZOD IndyCar Series saw an increase in television viewership and attendance.
The 2011 season averaged 402,000 viewers per race on VERSUS -- up 10 percent over the 2010 average of 365,000 viewers - while ABC saw a 28 percent increase in viewership, averaging more than 3 million viewers. Overall, the series saw a viewership gain of 28 percent, reaching more than 18.2 million homes --- an average of 1.4 million households per event.
VERSUS, which will be re-branded NBC Sports Network in January, had four of its most-watched races -- Edmonton, Baltimore, Texas and Toronto -- with the July 24 Edmonton Indy topping the list with almost 650,000 viewers.
F1 boss gives Austin circuit organizers till Wednesday to strike dealUPDATE Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has given organizers of next year's U.S. Grand Prix another week to save the Texas race by proving they have the finances in place. Ecclestone had wanted organizers to sign a contract by Wednesday, but extended his deadline to next Wednesday when the World Motor Sport Council will ratify the 2012 calendar.
"The deadline hasn't been met so we are still trying to make it happen," Ecclestone told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Wednesday. "They need to get some money and a pen ... as soon as possible. They know full well. Deadlines are terrible things because people always go to the end of the deadline. But if it isn't all signed before the World Motor Sport Council meeting it can't happen. We can live with it until then. I don't want any more last minute deadlines because it has been going on for months."
11/28/11 Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has given Austin F1 organizers until Wednesday to guarantee a race's long-term finances or lose the race for 2012, according to The Associated Press.
Speaking to reporters in São Paulo, Brazil, on Friday, Ecclestone said he isn't optimistic about the race taking place next year despite circuit organizers' assurances Thursday that they are ready to pay the sanctioning fee.
"They might pay something now, but it's the future we are looking for. We are not looking for (a) short term (solution)," Ecclestone told reporters ahead of this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix. "They haven't gotten enough security. We are looking for security in the long term."
Bobby Kelley Wins Mazda Road to Indy Scouting Combine After two challenging days of business training, mock media interviews and on-track experience, Bobby Kelley of Riverside, Calif., has been selected as the winner of the inaugural Mazda Road to Indy Scouting Combine.
The 19-year-old, representing the International Karting Federation, will have the opportunity to compete in the two Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda races at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March.
“I am at a loss for words,” Kelley said. “This is an amazing program to win, and I can’t wait to get on the track and show you what I can do. This is the first step to my formula car career so we will use this opportunity and try to move up the ladder. I was very surprised to win with all of the great talent here this week. I am very thankful to have won the first Mazda Road to Indy Scouting Combine.”
TRG Motorsports Working on Plans for 2012 TRG Motorsports #71 Ford announced today that it has temporarily scaled back on some payroll costs while still continuing to search for sponsorship leading into 2012. TRG Motorsports will continue looking to secure funding to race competitively in 2012 while enhancing their competition side with additional excellent talent in light of all the current layoffs at the major race teams. In addition, TRG is keeping their options open with several winning drivers looking to secure a competitive seat for the upcoming 2012 Sprint Cup season including the upcoming Daytona 500 in February. TRG has some really strong and promising leads as well as some current sponsors heading into next year and will keep working hard on those.
Team owner Kevin Buckler commented, "I'm sad to announce the layoffs, but reiterated that the TRG Motorsports business model has always been lean and efficient which allows us to have competitive advantages in these difficult economic times. Buckler also noted, "Like many other teams in the sport, these seasonal layoffs are unfortunately necessary with the present economic environment. We have kept our core shop, key business leaders, and the administrative staff, all in place and have actually enhanced our Sales and Marketing side---all in an effort to come back efficient, strong and funded in 2012. With many of the teams in front of us-- downsizing or closing all together, we are even hoping that we could gain a position and re-take a spot in the Top 35, which would be fantastic." TRG Motorsports
RCR Racing Operation to Conduct Surplus Auction Iron Horse Auction Company, Inc. of Rockingham, N.C. will conduct an auction of surplus racing equipment for the Richard Childress Racing Organization on December 6, 2011 at 10:00 am. The auction will include racing cars, racing engines, parts, accessories, equipment and much more. The auction will be held on site at RCR Racing Complex. Iron Horse Auction Company, Inc. and its principals are recognized on an international level for their knowledge and experience in the sale of NASCAR racing equipment. For further information, go to ironhorseauction.comIron Horse Auction Company
Worsham joins Kalitta Motorsports as Funny Car crew chief NHRA team Kalitta Motorsports on Wednesday announced that Del Worsham has joined it as the crew chief for Alexis DeJoria and the Tequila Patr¢n-sponsored Toyota Camry Funny Car team. Former Funny Car and Top Fuel driver Worsham--who won the 2011 Full Throttle Series Top Fuel championship for Al-Anabi Racing--retired from driving earlier this month after claiming his one and only NHRA professional title after 21 years behind the wheel.
"I started working on Funny Cars before I was 10 years old," Worsham, now 41, said. "My dad [Chuck] and I tuned our family-owned Funny Car from 1990 until I joined the Al-Anabi team in 2009. Dad and I won 22 races together, so hopefully I can draw from that experience and knowledge in this next phase of my career.
IndyCar confirms organization changes INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard announced today organizational changes in the commercial and operations/competition divisions of the sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights effective Jan. 1.
Terry Angstadt has resigned as Commercial Division President and will be succeeded by Marc Koretzky, who joined INDYCAR in May as Director of Corporate Business Development. Angstadt will assist with the transition.
Also, because of increasing demands on the Competition and Operation division, INDYCAR will split the responsibilities of President of Operations and Race Director into separate positions. Brian Barnhart will remain President of Operations, overseeing the operational and logistical areas, while INDYCAR is reviewing candidates to fill the position of Race Director.
Penske Racing Teams Up with ADP, Inc. ADP®, a leading provider of human resource outsourcing, payroll services, benefits administration and integrated computing solutions for vehicle dealers, today announced it has teamed up with Penske Racing to become an official sponsor of that winning organization.
One of the world’s largest providers of business outsourcing solutions, ADP will become the official payroll service of Penske Racing under the terms of the new agreement.
“ADP is an industry-leading company that brings over 60 years of experience in creating effective business solutions,” said Roger Penske. “We are pleased to have them join the Penske Racing family and we look forward to working with them and developing this relationship for the future.”
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing makes changes to NASCAR Sprint Cup program Earnhardt Ganassi Racing has confirmed that Steve Hmiel, Tony Glover and Ed Nathman have been released from the NASCAR Sprint Cup organization. Hmiel was the competition director for the team while long-time employee Glover was the team manager. Nathman was the lead engineer before John Probst was named technical director earlier this season.
Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray drive the organization's entries in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Both drivers were winless in 2011, with Montoya finishing 21st in the standings and McMurray 27th. [Montoya, a great driver with enormous talent, is essentially a backmarker in Ganassi's Cup cars. Sad, very sad, to see.] Fox Sports
Drew Blickensderfer named crew chief for Jeff Burton Drew Blickensderfer, crew chief for Roush Fenway Racing’s David Ragan since September 2010, has taken over as crew chief for Richard Childress Racing driver Jeff Burton, RCR announced in a news release.
Blickensderfer replaces Luke Lambert, who had the job on an interim basis after Todd Berrier was released in July. Lambert will remain with the organization.
Childress also announced that Slugger Labbe will remain as crew chief for Paul Menard next season. The team had previously announced that Shane Wilson would replace Gil Martin as crew chief for Kevin Harvick.
NASCAR stops the bleeding, at least for one year The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been losing more and more TV viewers every year since 2006. Finally in 2011 they saw a slight gain. Will this trend continue in 2012?
Las Vegas Motor Speedway to host free NASCAR Fanfest on Fremont Street Las Vegas Motor Speedway will kick off NASCAR Champion's Week in Las Vegas with the NASCAR Fanfest at the Fremont Street Experience on Nov. 30. The event, free to the public, will be the first involving the 12 Chase drivers during this year's celebration of the NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. The highlight of the event will be a Newlywed Game-type show involving the 12 Chase drivers.
"We think this is going to be the best event of Champion's Week," said LVMS president Chris Powell. "It not only gives the fans a chance to get close to the 12 top drivers in NASCAR, but it also allows the fans to see them in a much more relaxed environment without their fire suits and helmets. This is one of the best fan events in NASCAR. We really appreciate the assistance of Boyd Gaming, Sprint and Coca-Cola for helping make this event happen."
Duncan Ende to Join Silicon Tech/Dempsey Racing Just two weeks after the announcement of the new Silicon Tech/Dempsey Racing collaboration and its full-season participation in the 2012 American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the team announced today the signing of Duncan Ende to partner lead driver and Silicon Tech Racing Founder and Principal Henri Richard as co-drivers in its Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) entry.
Ende, 26, is no stranger to success in the ALMS and joined Richard for a convincing GTC class victory in the 2010 Petit Le Mans, in addition to teaming with Richard in that year’s season-opening race at Sebring. Ende followed up 2010’s strong end-of-season result with three victories and an overall second-place finish in this year’s GTC championship.
Juncos Racing Adopts Team Davey Hamilton Racing Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear team Juncos Racing has expanded its presence in the Mazda Road to Indy program by adopting the Firestone Indy Lights team of Davey Hamilton Racing.
With three years of experience in the Star Mazda Championship-including a record-breaking championship title-team owner Ricardo Juncos is eager to grow his team and move up to the next rung on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder in 2012. Juncos' passion for the sport and commitment to this exciting decision have also inspired him to move home and headquarters to Brownsburg, Indiana, just outside of the "racing capital of the world", Indianapolis.
Jean, are you excited about the news that Kimi Raikkonen is returning to F1 next year with Lotus Renault GP?
It’s fantastic news. Kimi has more natural speed than just about anyone who has ever raced a Grand Prix car, and if he’s coming back it’s because he wants to do it, he misses F1, and he believes he can do well. He has had a short break, which was a little bit forced by Ferrari. I think he was fed up with the system and wanted to take time out, which I can totally understand. But now he’s coming back, with Lotus, so it’s really exciting.
Kimi’s speed was never in question, but there were concerns he failed to develop the car as Michael Schumacher had done before him. Is that a concern for you now?
Michael was brilliant at that, but it isn’t working for him now at Mercedes and I think this is a reflection of how F1 has developed in recent years and re-prioritized. Now you just need to focus on having a quick driver, someone who does the job. The great thing with Kimi is he extracts the maximum from a quick car. When the car was good at McLaren and Ferrari he was always winning. LRGP will expect him to extract the maximum from the Lotus as well.
Tony Stewart’s unprecedented five-win run in the Chase to capture the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title … Sebastian Vettel’s record-setting performance in Formula One … Casey Stoner’s total domination of MotoGP … and that’s just three names on the list.
Stewart, Vettel and Stoner are joined by Ryan Villopoto (Supercross/Motocross), Dario Franchitti (IndyCar), Scott Pruett (Grand-Am) and Kyle Larson (USAC/WoO) as nominees for the Sixth Annual SPEED Performer of the Year award. The winner receives the Mario Andretti Trophy, a 100-pound bronze sculpture created by artist Elie Hazak, to be presented as part of a special edition of SPEED Center.
Renault gives Petrov 'stay or go' deadline - manager
Petrov on the hot seat
(GMM) Vitaly Petrov's manager on Tuesday confirmed speculation that the 27-year-old's place at Lotus Renault GP might not be secure for 2012.
Russian Petrov has a contract for next season, but manager Oksana Kosachenko was reported to be heading to the team's Enstone headquarters this week for urgent talks.
Her trip coincides with the announcement of Kimi Raikkonen's return to F1 next year with the team.
"After today's decision was announced, I was given a very short amount of time, literally ten days. We have until December 10 to decide if Vitaly stays or leaves," Kosachenko told the Moscow news agency Ria Novosti.
Europe 'finished' as F1's spiritual home - Ecclestone (GMM) European races are a dying breed on the formula one calendar, Bernie Ecclestone said on Tuesday.
At present, there are eight European rounds on the 20-event 2012 schedule, with the majority of the season therefore taking place throughout Asia, the Far and Middle East and the Americas.
And Europe should prepare to shed even more events in the future, said Ecclestone, with the F1 chief executive telling Spain's Marca that the continent - currently gripped in a worsening economic crisis - is "finished".
"I think in the next few years Europe will be left with only five races," he said.
"I think Europe is finished. It will be a good place for tourism but little else. Europe is a thing of the past," added Ecclestone.
Tickets to the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Go on Sale December 1 Tickets to the 2012 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will go on sale December 1. The event returns to the streets of downtown St. Petersburg March 23-25 and will mark the start of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season for the second year in a row, ushering the global debut of the new IndyCar chassis and the much anticipated return of competition among engine manufacturers.
The marquee race will continue to be the IZOD IndyCar Series and will mark the eighth year of racing on the streets of St. Petersburg. The event will serve as home race to a number of Florida residents including Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves, who is the only two time winner in St. Petersburg. Other drivers to compete include former winners Dario Franchitti, Will Power, Ryan Briscoe and Graham Rahal, along with fierce competitors Marco Andretti and Scott Dixon, among others. Support series races rounding out the schedule will be announced at a later date.
Hometown holiday parade will honor Tony Stewart Tony Stewart's central Indiana hometown will celebrate his winning of a third NASCAR championship as he takes part in the city's Christmas parade. Columbus officials announced that Stewart would be a guest of honor during its annual Festival of Lights Parade that begins at 6 p.m. Saturday. Columbus held a parade in Stewart's honor in 2005 after he won that year's Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Stewart also won NASCAR championships in 2002 and 2005. Associated Press
Front Row Motorsports driver lineup for 2012 not set Front Row Motorsports owner Bob Jenkins has been pouring millions into Front Row as it seeks major sponsorship. Staying in the top 35 could help, as could recruitment of a driver such as David Ragan (who is under the Ford umbrella but was phased out at Roush Fenway), David Reutimann or Brian Vickers. Team manager Jerry Freeze said he expected the team's crewmembers and drivers to be settled by early January (#34-David Gilliland, #38-Travis Kvapil and #55-J.J. Yeley are not under contract for 2012). "It's such an unusual time to have a fairly good crop of drivers that are out there and available," Freeze said. "Not to mention the guys that drove for us last year." USA Today
Another newspaper drops NASCAR writer While many in NASCAR travel to Las Vegas for this week’s banquet, I’m headed on a different path -- Dustin Long
My position as Landmark’s motorsports writer will be eliminated, and I will not be retained. Thursday is my final day. This is my final blog entry.
Thank you for everything. It’s been a heck of a ride the past 13 seasons. I hope I enlightened and entertained you with my coverage.
Before I go, I want to pass along one hope for you. No matter what you do, enjoy life. Our lives are shaped by the experiences and people we meet. I’ve been fortunate to hike the Grand Canyon, watch John Williams conduct an orchestra and attend various sporting events with fellow writers, among other things.
Raikkonen insists F1 passion and motivation intact
Raikkonen in his Lotus Renault jacket
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen on Tuesday insisted he "never lost passion" for racing in formula one.
The 2007 world champion, who left F1 two years ago for world rallying and NASCAR, also denied he might not be sufficiently motivated ahead of his return to the sport with Lotus Renault in 2012.
"The main reason for coming back to F1 is I never lost the passion for racing except for maybe all the things around it," the 32-year-old said.
The former McLaren and Ferrari driver explained that he began to think about a comeback whilst competing recently in NASCAR, when he got a feel for wheel-to-wheel combat after many contests merely "against the clock" in rally.
"I got a call from certain people in F1 and all sorts of things happened. In the end we managed to have a nice conversation with the people at Lotus Renault and made a deal."
Donington Park to host Britain's Le Mans Series round in 2012 Donington Park will host Britain's round of the Le Mans Series next year, taking over Silverstone's spot as the championship's British round.
Silverstone's AUTOSPORT 6 Hours has been a permanent fixture on the LMS calendar since 2007, but is moving to form part of FIA World Endurance Championship next year instead.
Donington, which last hosted the LMS in 2006, and also hosted an FIA Sportscar round earlier in the decade (pictured), will be the scene for the third race of the championship on July 15.
Hendrick says seat came loose in plane crash Rick Hendrick’s seat came loose during the Oct. 31 plane accident in which he suffered four broken ribs and a broken shoulder when a Hendrick Motorsports plane lost its brakes and skidded off the runway in Key West, Hendrick said Monday.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the Gulfstream G150 lost its brakes on landing. It crossed a 600-foot overrun, impacted the far side of a ditch, crossed a dirt road, cleared another ditch and came to a stop 820 feet from the departure end of the runway. Hendrick’s wife, Linda, suffered some bruises to her leg while Rick Hendrick spent a week in a North Carolina hospital.
Hendrick said Monday that he spent three weeks sleeping in a chair and still has daily therapy sessions, but is doing better.
Some ALMS teams get automatic invite to 2012 LeMans 24H The rewards for champions in the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n continue to roll in. Six ALMS teams earned a total of eight automatic entries into the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) announced. The ACO is the sanctioning body for Le Mans, the world’s greatest sports car race.
By way of the ALMS’ official relationship with the ACO, Series teams have multiple ways to earn automatic invitations to Le Mans. Class champions and the runners-up in the LMP1 and GT classes for 2011 received berths for next year’s race, as did class winners at the 14th annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda, and LMP and GT winners of the season-long MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge. The ALMS qualifiers include:
Blickensderfer Named Crew Chief of RCR's No. 31 Richard Childress Racing has named Drew Blickensderfer as the crew chief for the No. 31 Caterpillar/Wheaties Racing team with driver Jeff Burton for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Luke Lambert, interim crew chief during the latter part of the 2011 season for the No. 31 team, will assume a yet-to-be announced new position at RCR.
Blickensderfer begins his RCR career after nearly a decade with Roush Fenway Racing. He spent the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season leading the No. 6 team and has been a crew chief, in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, since 2007.
NASCAR suspends another drug user NASCAR has suspended Truck Series driver Jack C. Smith for violating the substance abuse policy. The suspension is indefinite. NASCAR announced the discipline Tuesday.
Smith made six starts this season with a best finish of 11th at Atlanta. His last race was at Texas, where he crashed and finished 26th.
He has run 17 races over four seasons in the Truck Series without ever finishing in the top 10.
Smith also was suspended last season following an arrest for fraudulently attempting to obtain a controlled substance.
NASCAR takes over Las Vegas You’ll find no clocks in any Las Vegas casino, but come late November and early December, everyone knows what time it is anyway. It’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week, a championship celebration that has risen in both stature and anticipation in a town known for marquee events – Las Vegas, Nev.
Now in its third year in Las Vegas, the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week both honors the champion of the sport’s premier series as well as regales a loyal and passionate group of folks – the fans.
NASCAR’s annual week-long celebration culminates with the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony on Friday, Dec. 2 at one of the world’s premier resorts, Wynn Las Vegas. SPEED and MRN Radio will once again provide same-day coverage starting at 9 p.m. ET. Other details regarding the event, such as entertainment planned, will be announced at a later date.
New 2012 IZOD IndyCar Official Calendar Now Available
United Medical Providers, Inc. (UMP) is proud to announce the release of the official 2012 IZOD IndyCar wall calendar.
For the first time in history, proceeds of the calendar will benefit three racing-related charities: Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, Racing for Kids and Racing for Cancer. By purchasing the popular calendar, fans are doing their part to support all three organizations.
Now renowned throughout the paddock, the official calendar has become a must-have for any racing enthusiast. The twelve-month, 12”x9” (12”x18” open), photographic wall calendar features some of the hottest stars of the IZOD IndyCar Series, including Dario Franchitti, Will Power, Marco Andretti, Simona De Silvestro, Helio Castroneves and more!
Addington joins Tony Stewart Steve Addington, winner of 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races as a crew chief, has been named to the same position for three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart and the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 team of Stewart-Haas Racing effective immediately. The Spartanburg, S.C., native is only the third crew chief Stewart has had during his 13-year Sprint Cup career, and it comes just a week after Stewart captured the 2011 Sprint Cup title. Addington replaces Darian Grubb, who served as Stewart's crew chief since the inception of SHR in 2009. "Darian was a very important part of the success we've had at Stewart-Haas Racing," Stewart said. "I'm very proud of everything he helped accomplish, especially this year when we all rallied to win the championship. He's a great person and I know he'll continue to be successful in this sport." TrueSpeed Communications/Stewart-Haas
John Force undergoes successful knee surgery Fifteen-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force confirmed that he underwent successful postseason surgery to repair a damaged anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee after the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Series banquet.
"This knee never affected my driving, but it became more of a nuisance the past year because I was working out and irritating it," Force said. "It began to affect my everyday life, so the timing was just right to get back to normal. I had polio as a kid and then I banged my knee up playing football.
Daly to test with ART Grand Prix in Jerez After topping the time charts in the final GP3 session in Valencia for Carlin last week, Conor Daly will move to ART Grand Prix for the first day of this week’s official GP3 sessions in Jerez, Spain, Dec 1st – 2nd. He will then return to Carlin for the final day of winter testing.
Having impressed many during the 2011 racing season with his raw speed in the races, Daly will get the opportunity to sample the team who has won the first two GP3 championships with Mexican, Esteban Gutierrez and Finn, Valtteri Bottas.
"I am very much looking forward to testing with ART", said Conor. "You can't help but be impressed with their results over the years and I'm interested to match what I've learned during the 2011 season with what they know. Most of all during these winter test days I want to keep learning as much as possible when I'm in and out of the car".
First 12-Hour Race at Yas Marina Circuit Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management and Driving Force Events Limited announce an agreement to stage the first 12-hour race at Yas Marina Circuit. Scheduled for January 20th, 2012, the GULF 12 HOURS will feature cars from around the world in the GT2, GT3, Porsche Cup and Prototype categories competing in two 6-hour races. During the break between races, the teams will have just 40-minutes to work on the cars.
“The Gulf 12 Hours is a great platform for introducing endurance racing to Yas Marina Circuit,” said Richard Cregan, CEO of Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management. “It provides an internationally recognized event where local stars can compete with drivers from around the world on one of the best motorsports circuits. I can confirm that Yas Marina Circuit will be entering our own Aston Martin GT4 to be driven by Saeed Al Mehairi, Sheikh Hasher al Maktoum, and Mohammed al Mutawa, three of the best Emirati drivers in the U.A.E.”
Schumacher (center) celebrates Race of Champions win in 2010
Now that his day job in the Formula 1 world championship is out of the way for 2011, the world’s most successful racing driver Michael Schumacher is raring to go for the next date in his diary: the Race Of Champions.
Schumacher heads to Düsseldorf’s ESPRIT arena this weekend aiming for a record fifth consecutive ROC Nations Cup victory alongside countryman and fellow F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel. And now he is urging race fans to come along and pack out their home stadium as he can’t wait to provide yet more thrills…
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