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Gordy Named SCCA Chairman of the Board  The Sports Car Club of America, Inc. Board of Directors welcomed three new members of the Board this past weekend in its final face-to-face meeting of the year, and appointed R.J. Gordy, of Martinez, Calif., its Chairman for 2008.

Gordy will assume the Chairman duties January 1 from outgoing Chairman Robert Introne, who did not seek re-election. Gordy represents Area 9 (Northern California) on the 13-member Board of Directors, which governs the 50,000-member motorsports organization. Gordy began his three-year term on the Board in 2006.

"I am deeply honored to assume the position as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sports Car Club of America,” Gordy said. “Some significant challenges lie ahead. However, I am confident that our team will overcome these challenges as we continue to offer motorsports enthusiasts the finest venue in which to enjoy their passion." More ...

Bourdais shows good pace  

Sebastien Bourdais at Jerez
Toro Rosso

The four-day Jerez kicked off today for Toro Rosso Ferrari using both contracted race drivers as they continue preparations for next season.

As in Barcelona last month, Sebastian Vettel was driving the car with 2008 electronics, while multiple Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais had the 2007 package with the relevant driver aids switched off.

Vettel’s program therefore focused on development of gearbox and engine control systems, but his day was cut short due to a technical problem. However, prior to that, he did manage to complete a brake system evaluation.

Sebastien Bourdais' sign board
Toro Rosso

Bourdais had a trouble-free day, completing the second highest number of laps.  He worked on a front flap comparison while also carrying out an evaluation of front suspension solutions.

Bourdais was a solid sixth fastest on a 1:20.615s, while Vettel posted the 11th best time on a 1:21.060. Both drivers continue testing tomorrow.  Toro Rosso Ferrari

Former RCR employee, team settle lawsuit  Anthony Corrente, who worked in the Richard Childress Racing engine department and later sued RCR for wrongful firing and breach of contract in September 2006, has agreed to settle his lawsuit against the team.

According to a mediation session report filed Nov. 21 in North Carolina Superior Court, the two parties have worked out an agreement on all issues.

Corrente had claimed he was fired a few months after informing team owner Richard Childress that an engine Kevin Harvick used in the 2006 Budweiser Shootout was illegal. Scenedaily.com

Viso and Battistini complete 2-Day Minardi test  NASCAR officials released the 2008 testing schedule for all three of its national series Tuesday.

Sprint Cup teams will test at Daytona International Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, California Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway, Pocono Raceway and Lowe's Motor Speedway. All races next season will be contest in the model that had been known as the car of tomorrow this season, when it was used in 16 races.

Sprint Cup testing begins at Daytona with half the teams on the track Jan. 7-9, with a rain date of Jan. 10, and the other half will test Jan. 14-16, with a rain date of Jan. 17. More ...

racing news
Art Arfons dies  Three-time world-land-speed record holder and drag-racing legend Art Arfons died Monday, Dec. 3, in his native Akron, Ohio. He was 81.

Although he is known for setting the unlimited Land Speed Record three times, Art Arfons made significant contributions to drag racing, tractor pulling and powerboat racing during a five decade career. At age 65, Arfons was the oldest active driver ever inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Together with his stepbrother, Walt Arfons, Art pioneered the use of World War II aircraft powerplants in race cars. When the original NHRA Safety Safari toured the Midwest in 1953, Art stunned the visiting Californians with a world-record speed of 144 mph from his 6-wheeled, 12-cylinder, rear-engined Allison dragster. That same season, an Illinois promoter promised $500 for an appearance. Since he didn't own a trailer, Art flat-towed the Green Monster more than 300 miles from his native Akron, Ohio, and collected the first significant appearance money ever paid to a drag racer. More ...

Papis to run Sprint Cup road courses  

Max Papis and Rusty Wallace

MOORESVILLE, NC  - Officials of Rusty Wallace Racing announced earlier today that former Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series champion, “Mad” Max Papis, will pilot the team’s No. 64 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS in all three 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series road course events. The ever-colorful Papis will undoubtedly bring even more intensity and personality to the team owned by one of NASCAR’s most intense and personable characters.

Noted team owner and NASCAR legend, Rusty Wallace, “I’m extremely pleased to announce Max Papis as the driver of our No. 64 for the road course events in 2008. When we looked at the 2008 schedule, we wanted to head to the road course events knowing that we had an edge over the competition. That’s why we chose Max Papis to drive the 64 car. His diverse record of longevity and success proved to us that he has what it takes to put our team in victory lane in 2008.”

While unknown to some, the relationship between Rusty Wallace and Max Papis actually originated in the mid-1990’s, when both drove cars sponsored by the Miller Brewing Company. During that time, Wallace wheeled for Penske Racing in NASCAR, while Papis drove in the CART series for Team Rahal. Stated Wallace, “I had a lot of fun with Max back when we both drove for Miller Lite; we did a lot of commercial shoots and appearances together during that time and that’s when I really started to learn about Max and his tremendous background.” More ...

Champ Car contingent attend Autosport Awards  

Robert Doornbos

Robert Doornbos and Graham Rahal capped off their rookie season by attending the annual Autosport Awards this past weekend at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, England. Both drivers had sensational seasons as rookies in the 2007 Champ Car World Series and were recognized for their on-track performance by being nominated for the Autosport Rookie of the Year award.

Doornbos, the Dutch driver who won two Champ Car events (Mont-Tremblant and San Jose) and finished third in the final point standings, and Rahal, who at age 18 finished a very respectable fifth overall in the standings after recording four podium finishes, knew that their chances of taking home the honors were slim as they were up against another sensational newcomer

Graham Rahal

- Lewis Hamilton - who as expected was crowned Autosport 'Rookie of the Year'.

"It would be hard to top Lewis after the season he had," said Rahal, the only American driver nominated. "For me, it was just an honor to be among those drivers being considered for the award. It was also nice to be able to attend the ceremony this past weekend. It definitely was a memorable experience and a nice way to end my rookie season." More ...
track news
ISC: Track Security Measures Examined  There are plans on the drawing board to bring Daytona International Speedway, and all other tracks owned by International Speedway Corp., into the high-tech security era. Speedway officials are reviewing ticket and credentialing systems to see if adding bar codes, even radio frequency identification chips, would help keep sensitive areas around the track more secure.

The staff at Daytona is preparing in all areas of function for a monster crowd of race fans for the 50th running of the Daytona 500 and ancillary events during Speed Weeks 2008. Most race fans abide by the rules, staying clear of highly restricted zones such as the garage area, pit road, gas pumps, inspection stations and the Nextel Cup driver/owner RV lot. But occasionally, one will wander from the herd, which has the potential of causing all sorts of unwanted chaos.

For instance, during practice sessions, drivers will turn off their engines and coast -- sometimes all the way to their garage stalls -- to get a sparkplug check. For someone unfamiliar with garage etiquette, they could be struck down by a race car since most drivers figure knowledgeable pedestrians will get out of the way. One security measure being analyzed is bringing race tickets and credentials "to life" in this digital age.

Power and ISC are researching the use of tracking systems that will tell security guards electronically if someone is allowed in certain areas of the racetrack. "Yes, we are looking at RFID technology and bar codes, but we need to test the process further before we implement it at our facilities," he said.

Power said there's probably not enough time at this point to use such a system for the upcoming Speed Weeks, but some sort of ticket-with-a-chip could be put to use as the 2008 season progresses.

ISC has 18 Nextel Cup dates throughout the season which stretches from February to November. "It's not going to happen tomorrow," Power said. "It's probably not going to happen in early 2008, but it's going to happen sometime."(news-journalonline.com)

Jerez Day 1: Heidfeld quick on slicks  Nick Heidfeld and Jenson Button showed the way on slick tires today when they comfortably topped the testing times using the rubber at Jerez in Spain. Heidfeld's best effort was only six tenths of a second faster than McLaren's Pedro de la Rosa on grooved tires.

Champ Car driver Sebastien Bourdais in the Scuderia Toro Rosso buried his teammate Sebastian Vettel but we don't know if they were in equal equipment (setup-wise).

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team Tires Time Laps
1. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber Slicks 1:19.042 73
2. Button Honda Slicks 1:19.155 65
3. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes Grooved 1:19.712 48
4. Raikkonen Ferrari Grooved 1:20.083 73
5. Piquet Renault Grooved 1:20.366 66
6. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari Grooved 1:20.615 97
7. Paffett McLaren-Mercedes Grooved 1:20.638 50
8. Webber Red Bull-Renault Grooved 1:20.682 65
9. Gene Ferrari Grooved 1:20.832 67
10. Conway Super Aguri-Honda Grooved 1:20.927 87
11. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari Grooved 1:21.086 45
12. Rossiter Super Aguri-Honda Grooved 1:21.246 71
13. Glock Toyota Grooved 1:21.336 69
14. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari Grooved 1:21.424 41
15. Hulkenberg Williams-Toyota Grooved 1:21.556 28
16. Montagny Force India-Ferrari Grooved 1:21.559 65
17. Nakajima Williams-Toyota Grooved 1:21.586 33
18. Asmer BMW-Sauber Grooved 1:21.962 57
19. Kobayashi Toyota Grooved 1:22.186 111
20. Villa BMW-Sauber Grooved 1:23.583 53

industry news
How to Drive $1 Million Worth of Exotic Cars  UPDATE A reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, What a great site, keep up the good work.  I’ve just given a couple of your gift subscriptions to friends that share my passion for racing and today I read your article on ‘How to Drive $1 Million Worth of Exotic Cars’.  I, like the gentleman you quoted, would much prefer to drive such cars on a race track at well above 55 miles an hour.  Driving five exotic cars at the speed limit on open city streets for a few hours at a cost of $1300 is a fair deal but to my mind it is like being invited to a fantastic dinner and only being allowed to smell the food and wine so I thought I would alert you to another program run by Supercar Life that allows you to really drive the cars. 

I recently participated in a full day program with Supercar Life (www.supercarlife.com) for $5000 that was absolutely out of this world.  Not only did I get to drive each of five Supercars, they have two of each, at a race track we had exclusive use of, Sonoma California’s Infineon Raceway, it was at a track that regularly holds professional races (the program visits different race courses around the country) really enhancing my enjoyment of watching races on TV knowing I have driven that very track at speed. 

Additionally, Supercar Life put me and my wife up at a four-star hotel, held a fantastic dinner the night before for all the participants and our guests where we got to spend some quality time one-on-one with the professional drivers that were our driving coaches the next day.  The next morning they picked us up at our hotel and drove us to the track. Then there was a short indoctrination emphasizing that the objective was not only to allow us to experience each of the Supercars at speed but to teach us driving techniques consistent with the school's motto of ‘the key to knowing your limits is to explore them’.  At half day, after having driven three different cars, we broke for lunch that doubled as a classroom session to go over what they had taught us and it was amazing to see how much faster all of us were in the afternoon session.  By the end of the day I had driven all five Supercars, and my favorite the Ferrari F430 twice, learned a lot and had a great time.  I told a friend that races a Porsche GT in SCCA club events about the program and after he attended he knocked two full seconds a lap off his time at Sebring and won his first SCCA event in the six years he has been racing.  Now my wife wants to go back as the driver and me as the guest, though I think she enjoyed dinner with the coaches a little too much, and I’m considering getting her a Homestead Supercar Life day for Christmas.  Sean Kimball, Springfield Missouri

12/04/07 Ever had the keys to a $300,000 Lamborghini dropped into your lap and told, you know, to take it around the block? And while you're at it, how do you like the looks of that red Ferrari F430?

Dream cars: Most of us have at least one automotive ideal that we simply must drive in our lifetime. And unless you're a famous comedian who goes by Jay or Jerry, opportunities are few on the ground.

Enter a new breed of outfit that charges customers an affordable fee to pilot a bunch of exotics in a single day. (It's less of a commitment and cheaper than a membership in one of the car clubs.)

So I find myself in an uber-exotic Lamborghini Murciélago, which has scissor doors and looks like an alien fighter spaceship. The thrum of its insane V-12 engine is jangling through my bones. Car reviewer that I am, I still have to admit: This is awfully cool.

I've signed up for the half-day program with World Class Driving, which has provided $1 million or so of foreign hardware to test out.

The price? A very reasonable $1,295, especially considering the five cars include two Lambos, a Ferrari, and a 604- horsepower Mercedes. (Insurance is included, with a $5,000 deductible.)

The cars are tested on public roads, and for today's program the eight guest drivers meet at West Point, New York. WCD doesn't start its drives from a single location; rather it goes on ``tour'' around the country, putting the cars in trailers. (See the company's Web site for the schedule.) This year it will organize about 100 drive days in places ranging from New York to Texas to California.

Legal Speeds

Personally I'd prefer to carve up a race track with these sinful machines, a program that other companies do provide (I'll try one next year). Yet driving exotics at legal speeds, which the company insists on, has a considerable upside.

It's a chance for those without track experience -- that is, most of the world -- to test out high-performance cars in a less fraught environment. (Concentrating on not cracking up a half-million-dollar car on regular roads is worrisome enough; get it up to 120 miles per hour on the track and you'll welcome the everyday stress of your job.)

After all, the company's current fleet includes rare specimens such as the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, which costs nearly a half mil, or the new Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, which accelerates to 124 mph in 11 seconds.  For WCD's schedule, see http://www.worldclassdriving.com . More at Bloomberg.com

Petition calls for John Surtees knighthood  

John Surtees

(GMM)  A petition in Britain is calling for the knighthood of formula one legend John Surtees.

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Knight John Surtees, the only formula one and motor bike world champion," the opening stanza of the petition, located on the website of British PM Gordon Brown (http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Sir-John-Surtees/), reads.

Supporters of Surtees, who is 73, have until May next year to sign the petition.

Surtees won the 500cc championship in 1956, and several successive world motorcycle titles, but four years later, at the age of 26, he switched to four wheels with the famous F1 team Lotus.

The Briton made an immediate impact, finishing second in his second grand prix, scoring pole in his third, and winning the title with Ferrari in 1964.

In the 1970s, Surtees ran his own eponymous team.

Other Britons to receive knighthoods in recent years include Sir Frank Williams, Sir Stirling Moss (both 1999) and Sir Jackie Stewart (2001).

Force India strengthens technical team  The Etihad Aldar Force India Formula One Team is delighted to announce a major restructure of its technical operations at its base in Silverstone, UK. Key to this restructure is the recruitment of Mark Smith and Ian Hall, who join the team from the Red Bull and Toyota teams respectively.

Smith will join the team as Design Director to work under the direction of Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne and alongside Technical Director James Key. Smith will take responsibility for the day to day running of the drawing office and all race car design, while Key will focus on research and development, vehicle science and development projects for the 2009 and subsequent seasons' cars.

Smith joins the team from Red Bull and has previously enjoyed spells at Jordan and Renault with Gascoyne.

The technical staff will be further strengthened by the recruitment of Ian Hall, who will be joining Force India from 1 January 2008. Hall will assume the role of Project Leader for the 2009 car, working closely with Technical Director James Key on 2009 development. Hall was formerly Head of Transmissions with Jordan, working under Mark Smith before moving to Toyota. More ...

tv news
SPEED to broadcast A1GP Malaysia Thursday  SPEED TV will broadcast the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport round held at Sepang, Malaysia, on Thursday, Dec. 6, starting at noon EST.

Jonathan Summerton, the youngest driver to stand on a podium in an A1GP event, drove for A1 TEAM USA at Sepang, the third event of the A1GP season that was run Nov. 23-25.

The Malaysian round will be rebroadcast at 3 a.m. EST on Saturday, Dec. 8, and at 2 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

"We're pleased that viewers will have three opportunities to watch A1 TEAM USA in the A1GP event at Malaysia," A1 TEAM USA owner Rick Weidinger said. "We encourage those who can't watch the broadcast at its scheduled times to set their recorders."

industry news
GM, Ford will slow production  General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. cut their North American production plans for the first quarter of 2008 on expectations that the weak demand for cars and trucks will spill into the new year.

Detroit's biggest automakers announced the lower production levels Monday, as monthly sales figures showed that the overall U.S. auto market shrank by 1.6 percent in November.

The fall was due largely to an 11 percent slide in GM sales. Ford Motor Co. reported a 0.6 percent increase in sales -- its first uptick after 12 months of declines -- and Chrysler LLC reported a 2.1 percent dip. Asian and European auto brand sales were higher overall.

Chrysler did not disclose its production plans, "but next year looks pretty tough," said spokesman Jason Vines. "We'll be adjusting our schedule on a weekly basis."

Executives said demand was particularly soft for big vehicles. Truck sales fell 7.4 percent, while car sales rose 5.5 percent in November, bolstered by the introduction of attractive new models such as the Honda Accord and Chevrolet Malibu.

"The retail decline we experienced in November was entirely in various truck categories," said Mark LaNeve, head of GM's North American sales and marketing. "Almost the entire year-over-year decline can be attributed to full-size pickups and utilities." Detroit News

industry news
Fiat to Build Research Center in Shanghai  Fiat will invest 22 million Euros ($32.2 million) to build its first Chinese research and development center in Shanghai.

The wholly-owned Fiat Powertrain Technology Shanghai R&D Co Ltd, located in Jiading District in west Shanghai, will focus on the development of engines, both gasoline and diesel, and transmissions for cars and commercial vehicles, the subsidiary of Italy's Fiat Group said yesterday.

FPT Shanghai, covering a total of 37,000 square meters, will employ 100 engineers by the end of next year when it officially starts operation.

"Developing anti-pollution engines would be one of the top priorities for FPT Shanghai as environmental protection is emphasized by the state government," said Paolo Emanuele Ferrero, vice president of FPT, product engineering, at the ground-breaking ceremony for the center yesterday.

FPT has established 12 R&D centers worldwide with a major coverage in Europe. The Shanghai center is the first in Asia, a step ahead for the company to fulfill its target to serve local demands.

New engines and transmissions will be developed for Fiat's models in addition to supplying other car makers in China.

Overseas car makers have been setting up R&D centers in China to meet the demand for eco-friendly and fuel efficient technologies.

At the end of October, General Motors Corp said it would spend $250 million to build a campus in Shanghai, including a research and development center for alternative fuels.  source: Xinhua

industry news
Ohio gives Goodyear a tax break  The state of Ohio has approved a complicated financing and tax incentive plan designed to keep Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in Akron for the next 30 years. The plan is intended to kick-start a four-phase $800 million development around the current Goodyear headquarters.

On Monday, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority voted to reduce Goodyear's commercial activities tax (CAT) by up to 27 percent over 15 years in return for retaining as many as 2,900 jobs in Akron. Another state panel, the Ohio Development Financing Advisory Council, voted to give the Summit County Port Authority a $20 million loan with zero interest and no payments for the first five years.

Together, the financial incentives are aimed at persuading Goodyear and the Industrial Realty Group to move ahead with plans to redevelop 280 acres in and around the tire maker's operations.

IRG would buy Goodyear's buildings and most of its property in Akron, construct the new headquarters and lease the building back to the company.

With the deal being nearly completed, state, county and city officials, Goodyear and IRG representatives Please see Tax, A12 talked tentatively about plans to dramatically overhaul a large portion of Akron. More ...

Justin Wilson’s brother wins young driver award  UPDATE Stefan Wilson was announced as the winner of the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award at the 2007 Autosport Awards in London on Sunday 2 December. The prize is designed to recognize and reward the most talented young drivers, and for Stefan this achievement crowns a hugely successful first year in single-seater racing. It also marks him out as one to watch for the future as he joins the ranks of previous winners including David Coulthard, Jenson Button and Anthony Davidson.

At the ceremony a delighted Stefan said: "This is the first time in my life that I have been speechless! I thought I was the underdog, so I was thrilled when I heard my name announced." He was also pleased that he had gone one better than brother Justin, a former nominee for the award. "It's great for me, it's going to separate me from my brother," he said. "It gives me my own identity, and I can get one over him!"

Stefan was one of six finalists for the award, who all went through an on-track evaluation at Snetterton, driving a World Series by Renault single-seater, a DTM Mercedes and a Porsche Carrera Cup car. This was followed by interviews at the McLaren Technology Centre. Despite being the youngest and least experienced of the candidates, Stefan's performance convinced the panel of judges that he deserved to win.

As part of his prize, Stefan receives £50,000 and a test in a McLaren Mercedes F1 car, as well as a GP2 test, membership of the British Racing Drivers' Club and a £6,000 one-off Graham Chronograph Swordfish timepiece. But the prestige and recognition that the award carries with it will really help Stefan as he develops his racing career. He said: "I'm going to see what doors this prize opens before we make any decisions on what happens next year."

At the awards ceremony Stefan had the thrill of seeing his name on the side of a McLaren F1 car, just above that of Lewis Hamilton. "F1 is the highest level of motorsport," he said, "and I'm sure with the right support I can get there one day." Justin Wilson PR

Stefan celebrates with father Keith and brother Justin

12/02/07  Stefan Wilson is the latest recipient of the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, picking up the trophy at the magazine’s awards ceremony on Sunday.

The 18-year-old is the brother of former Jaguar driver and current Champ Car ace Justin Wilson and finished second in the Formula Palmer Audi series in 2007.

He beat off competition from five other young hopefuls to scoop the £50,000 and a coveted test in a McLaren-Mercedes F1 car.

Wilson follows in the footsteps of David Coulthard, Jenson Button and Anthony Davidson in winning the award.

130,000 Alonso fans cry foul  (GMM)  More than 130,000 Fernando Alonso supporters have lodged their dissatisfaction about the Spaniard's 2007 campaign at McLaren with formula one's governing body.

A group of the Spaniard's fans collected the signatures on the petition, which weighed 30 kilograms and numbered 7200 pages when delivered to the FIA's headquarters, after objecting to allegedly "unjust" events relating to the double world champion this season.

Europa Press reports that a letter to FIA president Max Mosley and a cd-rom outlines "many irregularities" relating to Alonso's failed championship campaign.

"We do not expect anything to happen, we just want it known that we are not blind," said one of the group's founders, Marcos Lopez.

They also sent copies of the accusations to Spanish ministers Mercedes Cabrera and Jaime Lissavetzky, and high ranking Spanish motor sport official Carlos Gracia.

Among their complaints are unfavorable McLaren race strategies, alleged sabotage of Alonso's car, unfair penalties, and the FIA's reluctance to similarly penalize his teammate Lewis Hamilton for breaches.

Button rules out Honda race wins in 2008  

Jenson Button

(GMM)  Jenson Button has lauded Honda's appointment of Ross Brawn for 2008, but insists that next year is "too early" to expect race wins.

The British driver, who spoke to the media at London's Wembley Stadium on Monday ahead of the upcoming Race of Champions, will appear for his Japanese team as the final test of 2007 kicks off on Tuesday at Jerez in Spain.

Button, 27, welcomed new team boss Brawn's arrival for 2008 after the team's dismal showing this season.

"We have what we did not have before and that is real technical leadership taking us in the right direction," he said.

"Technically we were very weak.

"We were lacking some quality aerodynamicists but we have them now, and they have come in with some great ideas.

"We could be challenging to win races in 2009, and also challenging for the championship.

"Next year is too early, but we will be looking to make big strides forward and perhaps we could be towards the front end in the second half of the season," Button added. More ...

racing news
Priaulx rues Hamilton saturation  (GMM)  Andy Priaulx says Lewis Hamilton has stolen most of the limelight from any other British driver.

The 33-year-old from Guernsey won the World Touring Car Championship for the third year running last month, but the achievement rated hardly a mention in the press.

F1's rookie runner-up Hamilton, by contrast, is currently embarking on a saturation of celebrity appearances and plaudits, and on Sunday is odds-on to pick up the BBC sports personality of the year gong.

"I've given up trying to educate people.  I'm just doing this for my own reasons now," Priaulx, who drives for BMW in one of the FIA's three sanctioned championships, told Reuters.

"I get recognition from within the sport and that's enough," he said. More ...

Brawn: No reason to ditch Barrichello  

Rubens Barrichello

Honda team principal Ross Brawn has given his backing to Rubens Barrichello, insisting there is no reason for the Japanese-owned outfit to change its current driver line-up.

There was speculation last week that Honda was planning to move Barrichello, who failed to score a point during the 2007 season, to its B-team Super Aguri in order to make way for double world champion Fernando Alonso.

The rumors were fuelled by a report in a German newspaper that Alonso had visited Honda’s Brackley factory for a seat fitting – a claim that was flatly denied by the team.

In an interview with Formula 1’s official website, Brawn maintains that he has full confidence in both Barrichello (with whom he worked for many years at Ferrari) and Jenson Button.

He reckons the explanation for Honda’s uncompetitiveness does not lie in the driver department.

“Rubens has one year remaining of his contract,” he said.

“I think the past year was very difficult to judge either driver because of the problems with the car.

“Personally I think there is no reason not to continue with them as both have proven that they can win races and they are both on very high standards.

“I don’t have any concerns about the drivers.

“There are much bigger challenges for the team overall and for me than the drivers.”  ITV Sports

Kanaan team take first, second in Granja Viana kart race  2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan teamed with longtime friend Rubens Barrichello to win the 11th Granja Viana 500 on Dec. 2.

Kanaan and Barrichello teamed with Felipe Giaffone, Lucas di Grassi and Renato Russo to claim their seventh victory, just ahead of their second kart, shared with Di Grassi, Antonio Pizzonia and Thiago Camilo. The team of Luciano Burti, Dennis Dirani, Gabriel Dias and Felipe Guimarães completed the podium.

IndyCar Series driver Vitor Meira also competed in the event.

Following the event, Kanaan was among the winners at the 11th Capacete de Ouro Awards in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Kanaan edged two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the voting in the TOP category, which honors the top Brazilian racing in the United States. A panel of Brazilian journalists vote for Capacete de Ouro awards in 13 categories. They are considered the "Academy Awards" of Brazilian auto racing.

Hulkenberg to test for Williams  

Nico Hulkenberg

Formula Three Euro Series driver Nico Hulkenberg will test for Williams at Jerez in Spain tomorrow and Wednesday to evaluate him as a possible test driver.  Hulkenberg dominated A1GP but in F3 has been anything but spectacular.
Industry News
Bridgestone will close Mexico City plant  Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. will close its Mexico City tire manufacturing plant during the second half of 2008.  "This difficult decision was necessary because essential expansion of the plant is not feasible due to its metropolitan location, locked in on all sides by commercial and residential development," say Bridgestone officials.

"Expansion of the plant is critical to the facility’s future profitability through the production of more technologically sophisticated and market-demand driven products."

The factory is equipped to mainly build bias-ply light truck and truck/bus tires, "a diminishing segment of the overall market which is dominated by low-cost producers."

industry news
Honda, Toyota and Nissan have a record November  
Audi down 1.1%
Honda  up 4.7%
Toyota up 0.3%
Lexus down 7.0%
Nissan up 6.1 %
GM down 11.0%
Ford up 0.4%
Industry News
Ford posts miniscule Nov. sales increase  After 12 months of sales declines, Ford Motor Co. posted an increase this afternoon, albeit a tiny one. The automaker sold 182,951 vehicles in the U.S. last month, a 0.4% increase compared to the same month last year. Year-to-date, the company’s sales are down 12%.

In November, Ford saw a 27% increase in sales of Mercury vehicles compared to November last year, fueled by increases in sales of the Grand Marquis and Milan cars.

Overall, the Dearborn automaker credited the increase to sales of crossover vehicles and interest in the hybrid technology and the Sync in-car connectivity system developed with Microsoft Corp.

“It is encouraging to see our newest cars, crossovers, hybrids and industry-first Sync technology resonating with customers,” Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, said in a statement. “Continuing to deliver more quality products that people really want and carefully gauging customer demand in the months ahead will help ensure we stay on track with our plan.” Detroit Free Press

Penske-Taylor Racing to field car in Rolex 24  “I think, certainly from a team standpoint, if you have an opportunity to run a second car, I can’t imagine having it any better than being associated with Roger Penske’s organization,” said Wayne Taylor, the three-time sports car racing champion who co-drove to the 2005 Rolex Series title with Angelelli and founded Wayne Taylor Racing prior to the 2007 season. “It’s going to be a big deal for everybody involved. There’s a lot of work, obviously, in getting this all together. We’re very excited that Toshiba has come on board as title sponsor of the effort. Of course, SunTrust, which has been our lead sponsor on the No. 10 car, will be on both cars, as well, so that’s very exciting, too. The driver lineup and the team Roger has put together are really strong. There are three drivers from three different racing disciplines. Ryan’s driven with us before, so we know him very well. Helio, well, the guy’s a superstar. And Kurt Busch, he’s a NASCAR champion and a very good road racer. It’s certainly a lineup that will draw a lot of attention. And, without question, it gives us two strong contenders for the race win.”

“On behalf of Penske Racing, I am thrilled to be returning to the Rolex 24 At Daytona next month,” Roger Penske said. “I want to thank Wayne Taylor, Toshiba and SunTrust for allowing us this opportunity. We could not be more pleased to have our Penske Racing teammates, Ryan, Kurt and Helio, driving for us at this event.” More ...

industry news
GM sales fall  After three consecutive monthly increases, GM dealers in the United States delivered 263,654 vehicles in November, down 11 percent compared with a year ago, reflecting continuing reductions in daily rental sales and softening industry demand.
industry news
LA rolls out the "Green Carpet" for Chevy Volt  

Chevy Volt

General Motors' extended-range electric vehicle concept arrives in Southern California on Thursday, giving Angelenos a rare, up close preview of the highly-anticipated Chevy Volt. The vehicle will be on display at hot spot locations throughout Los Angeles from December 6 through December 11. Los Angeles is one of only four U.S. cities to host the Chevy Volt around town, providing an opportunity for locals to see the car of the future.

Since its introduction in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Chevy Volt sedan - powered by GM's E-Flex electric propulsion system - has energized car enthusiasts in the U.S. and abroad with its potential to greatly reduce trips to the gas station for many commuters, as well as greatly reduce CO2 emissions.

More than 75 percent of drivers in the United States commute fewer than 40 miles a day1. For these drivers, a fully charged Chevy Volt will use no gas and produce no tailpipe emissions. The Chevy Volt is easily recharged by plugging it into a common 110-volt electrical outlet. A FlexFuel on-board engine that can run on gasoline, E85 ethanol, or a combination of the two, creates additional electricity to extend the vehicle's range up to 640 miles, delivering triple-digit miles per gallon.

To bring the Chevy Volt to production, GM has engaged more than 200 engineers and 25 interior and exterior designers, and is aggressively pursuing battery-development contracts with two leading suppliers. More ...

track news
Bonds to help pay for speedway incentives  A week after billionaire Bruton Smith officially announced he would keep Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, new details are emerging about how local leaders hope to pay for the $80 million incentives package offered to keep him there.
What's in: local bonds and possible increases in the Cabarrus County sales tax.

What's out: a special tax district.

Federal money also may be used to help replace the Rocky River/U.S. 29 bridge. And one project Smith wants -- extending George Liles Parkway from Weddington Road to U.S. 29 -- could be fast-tracked by the state if Concord fronts the money for it. But the rest of the state commitment remains unclear.

Few details of the incentives were offered at the news conference last week at which Smith said he would keep the speedway in Concord, put $200 million of improvements into the speedway and build a $60 million drag strip. The Concord City Council initially opposed the drag strip in October, and Smith threatened to move the speedway elsewhere in the region.

Concord and Cabarrus County each committed $30 million for incentives, and Smith said the state is on board for $20 million. Gov. Mike Easley's office has said only that the state will commit to projects already on the books.

The city and county will need to cover whatever amount the state does not provide, Cabarrus County commissioners Chairman Bob Carruth said. More ...

2008 Champ Car testing schedule  With the new year quickly approaching, the Champ Car World Series and the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda have finalized their pre-season test schedules with the announcement of additional testing days set in 2008 race cities Houston and Portland.

MSR Houston will play host to Atlantic teams March 25-26 with Champ Car teams set to test March 28-29. The 17-turn, 2.38-mile road course is located 13 miles south of Houston, site of the April 27 Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston at JAGFlo Speedway, the second race on the 2008 calendar.

Portland International Raceway, site of the July 27 Champ Car Portland event, will host Atlantic teams May 21-22 as the Champ Car World Series teams prepare for their first of two trips to Europe for 2008.

“We’re trying to give our teams a variety of venues on which to test in addition to giving them the opportunity to test on some of the tracks where we race,” said Tony Cotman, Champ Car’s Race Director and Executive Vice President, Operations. “They’re all excellent facilities for testing purposes and I feel that each circuit has something different to offer in terms of providing conditions that will allow them to prepare for the upcoming races. We’re also happy to showcase our drivers, teams and cars in markets where we’ll race, to give the fans an early taste of the 2008 Champ Car product.” More ...
Valiante Named SunTrust Co-Driver  

Michael Valiante

Max Angelelli and the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac team of Wayne Taylor Racing received an early holiday gift as they prepare for their pursuit of the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series championship. Canadian Michael Valiante, the 28-year-old veteran of open-wheel and sports prototype racing, has been named Angelelli’s full-time co-driver for the entire 14-race campaign, which kicks off Jan. 26-27 with the traditional, season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Valiante, a native of Vancouver, B.C., joins the SunTrust Racing effort with 31 career Rolex Series starts under his belt during the past three seasons. In 2007, as co-driver of the No. 19 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates entry, Valiante recorded a career-best second-place finish at Iowa Speedway and six top-10 finishes in all over 13 events. Prior to arriving on the Rolex Series scene in 2005, he rose through the open-wheel ranks as a perennial championship contender and multiple race-winner in Champ Car’s Formula Atlantic and Barber Dodge development series. Valiante made his Champ Car debut in 2004 at Mexico City driving for Walker Racing. More ...

industry news
GM statement on new energy bill  There are tough, new CAFE standards contained in the energy bill before Congress that pose a significant technical and economic challenge to the industry. But, it's a challenge that GM is prepared to put forth its best effort to meet with an array of engineering, research and development resources. We will continue our aggressive pursuit of advance technologies that will deliver more products with more energy solutions to our customers.
New Honda boss Brawn to attend Jerez test  

Ross Brawn

(GMM)  Ross Brawn will this week make his first public appearance in his new capacity as Honda team principal.

The former long time Ferrari technical director, who started work at the Japanese team's Brackley (UK) base last Monday, is set to attend the first of four days at the last test of 2007 at Jerez.

"Yes, I will be there on Tuesday," Brawn, 52, confirmed on Monday to F1's official website.

"I just want to have a look at the team, to meet them and have a first picture of how it all works," the Briton said.

Coinciding with Michael Schumacher's retirement, Brawn took a sabbatical in 2007, travelling with his wife to holiday and fishing destinations including South America, New Zealand and Russia.

Curiously, he said he never intended to return to the Ferrari team, and denied that the espionage scandal motivated him to eye a different challenge.  More ...

racing news
Bahrain set to host Motor Sport Business Forum in 2008  The Motor Sport Business Forum is to expand with a new conference and exhibition in the Middle East.  Set to coincide with round three of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Kingdom of Bahrain will play host to a regional version of the two day conference on April 1-2, 2008 in the days leading up to the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. This will be the first year of an exclusive five-year agreement.

Founder Simon Berger said: “Hosting the event in Bahrain is a significant step forward for the Forum and one we are very excited about. Motor sport provides a unique platform for businesses to build and leverage their products and as the sport continues to grow globally reaching new markets so do the opportunities for companies to get involved.

“This is especially relevant to the Middle East where motor sport is gaining more attention and rapidly growing in popularity year on year. Focus is being placed on the sport in the region because businesses are very aware of its global impact and commercial opportunities.”  More ...

Ambrose ‘can step up to NASCAR elite’  

Marcos Ambrose

NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt jnr says Australia’s Marcos Ambrose is ready and capable of making the most of his opportunity at the sport’s top level next year.

Two-time V8 champion Ambrose’s US odyssey steps up next year when he competes in 12 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup after an impressive season in the second-tier Busch series this year.

Earnhardt jnr, NASCAR’s most popular driver and the son of the late seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt snr, is holidaying in Australia and was in the crowd at the V8 Supercar final round at Phillip Island yesterday.

He believes Ambrose has adapted well to oval-track racing after two seasons in NASCAR’s lower tiers. More ...

Instead of taking blame, France blames Earnhardt  

Brian France and Mike Helton refuse to take blame for NASCAR's downfall

So, after much tap dancing and tango, and after much soft shoe and spin, NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France admitted that, yes, the sport's TV ratings are down. But there's a real good reason: Dale Jr. had a bad year.

Talk about putting the weight and the burden for carrying the sport on one guy among 43 who race for their daily bread 38 weekends a year, and ignoring the obvious — which we'll get to in a moment.

Here's what Sir Brian, speaking to a Reuters media forum in New York on Thursday, had to say about Dale Jr. and the roughly 13 percent fall in ratings: "It would have helped if he (Dale Jr.) would have been competitive. He didn't win an event, and he certainly didn't make our playoffs. And that's unhelpful if you're trying to build ratings." More ...

Johnson will represent USA In ROC  For this year's Race of Champions, Team USA pairs 2007 and 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) with the Subaru/Vermont SportsCar driver and 2006 Rally America champion Travis Pastrana. Both American drivers are previous entrants in the ROC, Johnson is a former off-road racer and aided in achieving the Nations' Cup win in 2002 for the American team.
Only top driver could replace Rosberg - Head  

Nico Rosberg

(GMM)  Williams would only contemplate letting Nico Rosberg go if the British team could secure a top-class replacement, co-owner Patrick Head has said.

It is widely known that the 22-year-old German sits atop McLaren's wish list to fill the departed Fernando Alonso's seat in 2008, but Rosberg is firmly under contract for next year to the Oxfordshire based team run by Sir Frank Williams.

Head, Williams' engineering veteran and also the team's joint owner, says the Grove outfit needs a driver of Rosberg's caliber to steer its return to the front of the field.

"I don't think it would be the death of the team if Nico left," Head, 62, told the American sports network ESPN, "but as a competitive force, until we found somebody who could replace Nico, it would certainly be very difficult."

It has been reported that Ron Dennis is prepared to pay as much as $20 million for Rosberg's 2008 contract, but so far Williams has resisted the temptation to let him go.

"And obviously it wouldn't give the right message to people inside our team either, in terms of people that we have put in significant positions, if we didn't have a driver whom they felt could make good use of the work they are doing," Head continued.

"So it (letting Rosberg go) is something that neither Frank nor myself are even contemplating," he added.

Schumacher misses Massa’s wedding day  (GMM)  A representative for Michael Schumacher has played down speculation that he may have fallen out with his former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa.

In the presence of many of his Ferrari colleagues, 26-year-old Massa married his fiancee Rafaela Bassi, who is 27, in Sao Paulo last Friday, according to reports from Brazil and Italy.

Among the 800 guests were team bosses Jean Todt and Stefano Domenicali, as well as Mario Almondo, Aldo Costa and Luca Baldisserri -- but not Schumacher, his 2006 teammate.

Massa's countryman Rubens Barrichello also attended, reports said.

Days earlier, the former seven time world champion, Schumacher, won a karting event hosted by Massa in the southern Brazilian city of Florianopolis.

The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag said Schumacher had celebrated Massa's impending marriage with his former teammate and friend in the days prior.

A representative for Schumacher said: "Michael is currently in the United States for a family vacation."

tv news
Helio and Julianne on Rachael Ray show  "Dancing with the Stars" winners, Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough, will be guests on the Rachael Ray show on Tuesday, December 4.  The time and network varies.  Please check your local listings for your time zone.
racing news
Quotes of the week  
BERNIE ECCLESTONE, President and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Association
"I think the difference is that, in the McLaren case, information flowed to someone on nearly an hourly basis.  The Renault case is only about a mountain of drawings, and that's it," he added.  (Bernie Ecclestone has suggested that the 'Stepneygate' affair was more serious than the new allegations involving Renault.  Details leaked by McLaren last week of the affair involving engineer Phil Mackereth indicated that the scandal could be on the same scale as the one that led to the Woking based team's $100m fine and championship exclusion.)

GIANCARLO FISICHELLA, Formula 1 driver, Renault
"You [Bernie Ecclestone] are the father of Formula One and like a father you have talked about your children, including me," Fisichella said.  "I wanted to remind you dear daddy, I mean dear Bernie, that I am the one who won the first Grand Prix in Melbourne in 2005 with Renault and therefore I was the one who first discovered the R25 as a winning car," he added.  Fisichella also seemed to suggest that he was a victim of "the strategies of my team" alongside title winner Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006, explaining that, "given the circumstances I believe I could not do any better".  (Fisichella has hit back at Bernie Ecclestone for suggesting he quit Formula One.  He took exception to Ecclestone's claim that he should have done a better job in the past few seasons at Renault.)

CARLOS GRACIA, FIA Vice President and President Spanish Motorsport Federation
"I cannot say anything about this matter," Gracia said.  "The only thing is that this sort of thing has always happened in Formula One.  I don't know whether you can call it espionage or not.  It used to be called exchanging documents and now it is spying, but historically it has always existed in the sport," he added.  "Something like that could make Fernando change his mind," Gracia admits of the prospect of a huge fine, "but the impression I get is that he does have other options."  He added: "What I want is that Fernando chooses the best option for him, and I hope that can happen."  (It has been suggested that a penalty on the scale of McLaren's $100m fine this year could convince Renault to pull out of Formula One.) More ...

McLaren beats Ferrari to car of the year  

Lewis Hamilton wins for McLaren in Melbourne

McLaren’s turbulent year has ended on a bright note after its MP4-22 was voted Racing Car of the Year at the Autosport Awards.

The Woking squad lost the constructors’ championship to arch rival Ferrari after it was stripped of all of its season’s points and hit with a record fine for its part in the ‘Spygate’ controversy.

But despite Ferrari winning both titles, McLaren’s sleek MP4-22 beat the Italian team’s F2007 to the gong after winning eight of the season’s 17 races.

"It was a very, very fantastic year," said its engineering director Paddy Lowe on accepting the trophy.

"I really enjoyed it and, despite the politics, the team did a fantastic job."

"We are so proud to take this prize," he added.

"Clearly we came away without any official silverware but this is fantastic and we will really appreciate it back in the office." More at ITV Sport

Hamilton sweeps Autosport Awards  Lewis Hamilton may have narrowly missed out on this year’s Formula One world title, but the reception he received at the Autosport Awards this evening was regal. The 22 year-old arrived at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane behind the wheel of a £300,000 McLaren Mercedes SLR roadster to collect prizes for Best British Competition Driver, Best International Racing Driver and Rookie of the Year. The awards were voted for by readers of Autosport magazine. The ceremony will be broadcast on ITV1 on Tuesday 4th December at 11:20pm Hamilton was left speechless after a moving presentation by Viviane Senna, sister of Lewis’ hero Ayrton, who flew to the Awards from Sao Paulo especially to congratulate Britain’s racing star.

“He reminds me of Ayrton, as a pilot. And he has the same kindness in his eyes”, she said. This wasn’t the first time Lewis was honored at the glamorous Autosport Awards, for back in 1995 ten year-old Lewis was up on stage to collect more silverware. “I’m just as nervous standing up here now as I was then”, said Lewis. “This has been an incredible year for me. To get to my first grand prix and get on the podium was amazing, and it just got better and better.

By the mid-point of the season I realized I had a chance and that I shouldn’t mess around”. More ...

Davidson thinks Aguri team can move forward  

Anthony Davidson

Anthony Davidson is confident Super Aguri can build on the successes from its 2007 season and enjoy an even stronger year in 2008.

The Leafield-based squad raced for the first half of last season in Formula 1’s midfield with Honda’s year-old RA106 car, regularly outperforming the Japanese manufacturer’s main squad and scoring four points.

However it slipped back towards the rear of the grid from mid-season as the bigger budgets of its closest rivals began to tell.

Davidson, who completed his first full season as an F1 race driver after years in a test role, reckons the team can sustain stronger form in 2008.

“It has been a fantastic year as I finally got to race,” he said at the Autosport Awards on Sunday.

“Unfortunately we didn’t quite have the momentum all year after what we did at the start, but next year I’m hopeful we can do that.

“It has been my job for the last couple of years to really develop a car, and given the support that we have, I think that we can [move forwards].” ITV Sport

Fittipaldi to Contest All-Stars Karting Event  

Christian Fittipaldi

Champion Racing - Intrepid is proud to announce the addition of Christian Fittipaldi to its driver lineup for the 2007 Masters Division team at Snap-on All Star Karting Classic on December 6 in Orlando, FL. The addition of Christian adds strength to the line-up for Champion Racing - Intrepid that includes Tyler Dueck in the Karting class.

Christian is a multiple time karting champion during his youth in Brazil. In addition, he has enjoyed a successful professional driving career in Formula 3000, Formula 1, Champ Car, Grand Am, NASCAR. For 2008 Christian will contest the American Le Mans Series with the Andretti Green Racing Acura prototype as teammate to Bryan Herta. This event is a perfect way to end the 2007 season and race with his 2008 teammate Herta in preparation for their assault on the ALMS championship.

Hamilton targets eight title career  

Lewis Hamilton's ego makes him think he can surpass Schumacher's 7 World titles.  Too funny.

(GMM) Lewis Hamilton wants to bounce back from his rookie championship defeat in 2007 to become the most successful driver in the sport's history.

The 22-year-old finished runner-up to Kimi Raikkonen in 2007 but earned widespread acclaim for a meteoric debut season at the pinnacle of motor sport.

Hamilton, a Briton, told the Sunday tabloid newspaper News of the World that he intends to be even stronger with McLaren in 2008.

"I have time on my side to win many titles," he said, then referring to Michael Schumacher's record of seven drivers' championships.

"If I get the opportunity to break Michael's record then I will go for it," Hamilton added.

"I want to be the best driver there has ever been."

F1 fans will get their first chance to see Hamilton on the same circuit as Schumacher next week, as they both test at Jerez in Spain.

Hamilton said he is no longer thinking about the disappointment of the last two races in 2007, when his 17-point advantage over Ferrari's Raikkonen was overcome.

"I get better every year and I don't see why next season will be any different," he continued.

"I am going to be fitter, stronger and more experienced, ready to take that next step up and be champion," Hamilton said.

Tander wins V8 Supercar Championship  

Garth Tander

Toll HSV Dealer Team withstood the amazing highs and lows of the year to triumph over a gallant Jamie Whincup in the closest finish in the history of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at the Dunlop Grand Finale at Phillip Island today.

In an incredible finish to the Series, Garth Tander found himself in all sorts of situations in the final race including being sandwiched between his two TeamVodafone rivals Whincup and Craig Lowndes to survive the intense pressure.

He won his maiden Championship by a mere two points from Whincup who had to find one place in the final race, he finished second behind Holden Racing Team’s Todd Kelly, to gift his team a second successive V8 Supercar Championship Series title.

It also gave Holden the coveted Manufacturer’s title and Toll HSV Dealer Team the prized Team’s Award for 2007. In all it was a clean sweep for the Red team.

“Look it certainly hasn’t sunk in,” Tander said.

“Obviously a fantastic result considering how low I felt on Sunday night at Tasmania and to fight back from those lows to come back from a bad qualifying to win two races and set ourselves up so we could manage the third race if we needed to. More ...

NASCAR sends Earnhardt down under to win over Aussie fans  One of the biggest names in world motorsport wants to race in the V8 Supercar Championship Series in the future after giving Australia’s premier category a massive endorsement at Phillip Island today.

Dale Earnhardt Jnr, recently voted in the top five of America’s five biggest sporting names, was so impressed with the sport that he now wants to drive. Earnhardt is a veteran of America’s second biggest sport, NASCAR, and the son of legend Dale Earnhardt.

He was at the Dunlop Grand Finale at Phillip Island today to start a two-week Australian holiday with friends to escape his crazy world back home. He had one request during his time – to see V8 Supercars first-hand having been a devoted viewer on Speed Channel in the US.

“We’ve become fans of V8 Supercars from watching on television. This series has come a long, long way since I started watching it. I would be quite proud to showcase this off to anyone,” said Earnhardt.

“In a perfect world I would come and race fulltime in the V8 series for a year. I believe I would enjoy it. I like the format over the weekend as far as the rounds go.

“It is definitely different to how we approach the weekend. I would definitely enjoy coming here and racing and dedicating solely to that.

“I could probably talk to the right people and make that happen. I would definitely entertain that. I am going to run my butt off in the Cup cars until I can’t anymore and maybe I’ll move to Australia and race the V8 cars as long as there’s a ride for me.” More ...

Minardi test for British hopeful  

Dillon Battistini

British hopeful Dillon Battistini will make his ChampCar World Series test debut next week after sealing a deal with Minardi USA.

Battistini, who will turn 30 on the day of the test, is a virtual unknown to British race fans, but is the current Asia-Pacific Formula Three champion and has firmed up a try-out for Paul Stoddart's outfit at Sebring in Florida.

"After a few years in F3, I am looking to progress to something different for next season so I am excited about the potential that this test has for my career," said Battistini, who spent the first few years of his racing life in the British Caterham championship.

"This is a very exciting opportunity for me. Champ Car is obviously a step up from what I have been doing for the last couple of seasons but, despite my successes in F3, I didn't expect to be given the chance to test a DP01 Champ Car quite so soon. More ...

industry news
Better quality may save Ford $300M  Ford Motor Co. may save as much as $300 million on warranty costs next year because of improved design standards and manufacturing technology, the company's top quality executive said Friday.

That will be in addition to $900 million in expenses Ford trimmed this year because of fewer dealer repairs after cars and trucks leave the factory, Vice President Bennie Fowler said in an interview.

"The numbers that we're targeting, probably another $200 to $300 million, would be in line, certainly in line with the substantial improvement we made this year," Fowler said of prospects for savings next year.

Ford is trying to win back buyers and end 11 consecutive years of U.S. market share declines. A survey commissioned by the Dearborn-based company found that its five-year effort to improve quality was cutting problems to near the level of Toyota Motor Corp., the industry's perceived leader.

Industry news
Toyota employee ’worked to death’  A Toyota employee died of overwork after logging more than 106 hours' overtime in one month, a judge ruled on Friday to reverse a ministry's earlier decision not to pay compensation to his widow.

The Toyota Labour Standards Inspection office, a local branch of Japan's labor ministry, refused to pay the widow the usual compensation for a spouse's work-related death. The company claimed he had logged only 45 hours' overtime in the month before he died, Japanese media reported.

But the court ruled that the employee had worked far more than that, said Yomiuri Online, a Japanese news website  The Nagoya District Court in central Japan said the ruling overturned the labor ministry's decision.

"We want to think how to respond to this ruling by discussing it with relevant agencies," an official at the Toyota Labour Standards Inspection Office told Reuters. More ...

track news
Earnhardt Jr. Speedway releases new site plans  Officials representing Alabama Motorsports Park released an updated site plan Friday for the 2,200-acre motorsports and entertainment complex. The track, billed as a Dale Earnhardt Jr. Speedway, is a property of Gulf Coast Entertainment, LLC. The updated plan reflects changes to land use on the north and west sides of the property in Mobile County, Alabama. We made the site plan changes as part of the ongoing NEPA process in which we are working in close cooperation with the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies,” said Mike Dow, former Mobile mayor and managing member of Gulf Coast Entertainment.

The focal point of the plan is a 7/10ths-mile D-shaped asphalt speedway. The property will also include a 3-mile road course and karting track. The road course includes a straightaway that runs through the “Race City” retail area, providing a traditional road course and street circuit combination.

The complex is expected to be fully operational in 2010. SceneDaily.com

BMW to test Asmer and Villa  During next week's test in Jerez the BMW Sauber F1 Team will give young drivers Marko Asmer (23, Estonia) and Javier Villa (20, Spain) a chance to drive the BMW Sauber F1.07.

Test schedule:

Tuesday, 4th December:
Nick Heidfeld will drive all day. The other car be will be driven by Javier Villa in the morning and Marko Asmer in the afternoon.

Wednesday and Thursday, 5th and 6th December:
Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica will drive all day.

Friday, 7th December:
Robert Kubica and Marko Asmer will drive all day.

Granja 500 starting lineup  Here is the line-up for the Granja 500 karting race in Brazil this weekend.

1- 77 ˆ Win Brasil ˆ 56s915 ˆ André Nicastro
2- 41 ˆ Targh 400/Dolly ˆ 57s129 ˆ Oswaldo Negri`
3- 19 ˆ GTP/Massa ˆ 57s246 ˆ Felipe Massa
4- 110 ˆ MG Pneus ˆ 57s248 ˆ Dudu Ventre
5- 40 ˆ Targh 400/Dolly ˆ 57s282 ˆ Douglas Hiar
6- 04 ˆ Piquet Sports ˆ 57s315 ˆ Clemente J£nior
7- 29 ˆ Petrobras/Carcasci ˆ 57s403 ˆ Luciano Burti
8- 03 ˆ Piquet Sports ˆ 57s446 ˆ Nelson Piquet Jr
9- 63 ˆ Sabiá/Studio W ˆ 57s465 ˆ Sérgio Jimenez
10- 23 ˆ NOS/Enigma ˆ 57s468 ˆ Nicolas Costa
11- 777 ˆ Win Brasil ˆ 57s518 ˆ Beto Monteiro
12- 01 ˆ Fittipaldi ˆ 57s563 ˆ Vítor Meira
13- 72 ˆ HSBC/Caras ˆ 57s600 ˆ Rubens Barrichello
14- 28 ˆ Piquet Sports ˆ 57s618 ˆ Tuka Rocha
15- 71 ˆ HSBC/Caras ˆ 57s694 ˆ Tony Kanaan
16- 87 ˆ GTP ˆ 57s729 ˆ Dudu Massa
17- 92 ˆ Loctite ˆ 57s943 ˆ Nonô Figueiredo
18- 34 ˆ Bomix ˆ 57s954 ˆ Rafael Daniel
19- 108 ˆ MG Tyres ˆ 57s992 ˆ Connor De Phillips
20- 74 ˆ Loctite Henkei ˆ 58s096 ˆ Antonio Urbano
21- 971 ˆ Speed 500 ˆ 58s502 ˆ Aloísio Coelho
22- 177 ˆ WebMotors ˆ 58s659 ˆ Felipe Giaffone
23- 13 ˆ Spirit Sports ˆ 58s897 ˆ Denis Navarro
24- 38 ˆ Tejofran ˆ 58s969 ˆ Bruno Miloni
25- 45 ˆ MV Marba/Qualy ˆ 59s269 ˆ Paulo Freire

Asmer, Villa, to test BMW-Sauber at Jerez  (GMM) Young hopefuls Marko Asmer and Javier Villa will test for BMW-Sauber at Jerez next week, the German team announced on Saturday.

Asmer, a 23-year-old Estonian, and Spanish 20-year-old Villa, are scheduled to make their first appearance on Tuesday, when they will share a F1.07.

Asmer will then reappear for a full day's testing on Friday, BMW-Sauber added.

The Hinwil based team is in the market for a primary test and reserve driver for 2008, after Timo Glock signed a multi-season contract to race with Toyota next year and beyond.

Villa won three GP2 sprint races this year, while Asmer - who made his F1 test debut in a Williams as a teenager in 2003 - is the new British F3 champion.
Montoya wins Rookie of Year  UPDATE
Click pn photo to watch video

Click photo to watch video

Click on Juan's photo to the right to watch video of him receiving the rookie of the year award followed by his comments afterwards.

11/19/07 Juan Pablo Montoya won the 2007 Raybestos Rookie of the Year award after finishing 15th in Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  The former Champ Car and Formula One driver earned one win, three top-five and six top-10 finishes in his debut NASCAR Nextel Cup season. Driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, he finished the year 20th in the standings.

"I think it went pretty good," he said of his season. "It's a bit of everything, you know. Off and on, I think that everybody at Ganassi did an amazing job. It's one of those deals ... I think it was more ours to lose than win. So I think [it] came out pretty good.

"I think more important, we had a race win. ... For record books and stuff, it's pretty good that I won the Raybestos Rookie of the Year."

While Montoya has won the Indianapolis 500 and Formula One races, as well as rookie honors in other series, he admits it felt a little odd to come into NASCAR and be as experienced a driver as he was, but also to truly be a rookie.

"Being a rookie with the experience I had, is very different," he said. "I had no stock-car experience, but from my open-wheel background, I've raced about everything you can race in."

Fans vote mediocre driver most popular again  UPDATE #2
Click to watch video

Click photo to watch video

The video to the right is Dale Earnhardt Jr. receiving his most popular driver of the year award and his comments afterwards.

A reader adds, I just want to start out by saying that I am not a Junior fan. If he doesn't perform next year with Hendrick Motorsports, I hope we quit hearing about Junior every time we watch a race, because it will then be a fact that he is not the superstar his dad was, just a complete wanker. Tim DeCesaro

11/29/07 The final race has been run, and the checkered flag has fallen on the NASCAR racing season; but before it was all over, race fans answered the call to vote for their favorite driver. Not the best driver by a very wide margin, and still riding on his daddy's coattails, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was voted the 2007 NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver for the fifth consecutive year and was presented with the award today at the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Media Luncheon in New York City.

“I’m extremely honored to win this award again, because it puts me with a very select group of drivers who I have a lot of respect for,” Earnhardt, Jr. commented.

“When I became a Cup driver in 1999, I never would’ve imagined that we’d be talking about five consecutive Most Popular Driver awards. I have a special place at JR Motorsports where I put the MPD trophies, so I’m honored to add another one to the collection. I don’t want it to sound like a cliché, but this award really does mean a lot to me after all we have been through this year,” continued Earnhardt, Jr.. More ...
Earnhardt "pissed off"  

Earnhardt Jr. isn't the best driver, but he's NASCAR's most popular

Dale Earnhardt Jr. should have been relaxed as he sat in a director's chair outside of Cipriani, a posh restaurant in Grand Central Station. He'd just won NASCAR's Most Popular Driver award for the fifth straight year and was hours from a vacation that will take him far away from the pressures that have engulfed his life the past year.

"Waaaaaay over the water," he said with a smile.

But Earnhardt wasn't relaxed. He squirmed as he answered questions about a season that saw him break ties with the company his father built and go winless for the first time since he began competing full time in the Nextel Cup Series in 2000.

He took offense when it was suggested that his new owner, Rick Hendrick, didn't expect him to win right away.

"Bull crap," Earnhardt said. "I'm expected to win every year I'm in this sport. I mean, I'm an Earnhardt. That's the way it is. I'm deeply disappointed in being winless last year. I'm shocked. That's why I want to race tomorrow.

"I don't want to be winless all through the offseason. I want to get one in there."

"I'm pissed off we didn't win a race," he said. "That's going to bother me for a while. That bothers me every day. I think about it every day." More at ESPN.com

industry news
Goodyear recalls defective tires  Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is conducting a precautionary customer satisfaction campaign to exchange certain size P215/70R14 tires sold under a variety of names in the United States and Canada.  The tires were made from 2003 to 2006 under 23 names of Kelly, associate brand and private label tires including Douglas, Kelly, Mohave and Republic.

The company estimates approximately 400,000 of these tires might still be in use. The tires will be replaced with the Goodyear Regatta II.

"This precautionary campaign is in response to our internal analysis and review of early warning data we monitor on our tires," says Sim Ford, manager of Goodyear's government and customer compliance.

"The company has determined some of these tires have experienced adverse service conditions that have led to a tread separation, and in the interest of customer satisfaction has decided to replace qualifying tires.

"After an exhaustive analysis, no design or manufacturing defect was found in the tire."

The replacement tires were sold through a variety of locations. The tires were predominantly made for application on older-model compact pickup trucks and minivans which mostly were manufactured in the mid-1990s.

A complete list of the private label brand names involved in the program can be seen at Goodyear's Web site, www.goodyear.com.

Consumers can have their tires checked at any Goodyear dealer location, or at their original point of purchase.

Sale of ISC property on Staten Island canceled  International Speedway Corp. officials announced Friday the termination of an agreement to sell its property on Staten Island.

ISC agreed to sell the 676-acre Staten Island property on Oct. 19 to ProLogis, a Maryland real estate investment trust, for $100 million. ProLogis terminated the agreement on Tuesday, ISC said, before the "expiration of the due diligence inspection period."

"While it is unfortunate that ProLogis elected not to complete the transaction, we are confident that, on a timely basis, we will agree to terms with a buyer interested in redeveloping this site, which will provide economic benefit to Staten Island and New York City as a whole," said Brian K. Wilson, ISC Vice President of Corporate Development.  Scenedaily.com

Corvette to pace 2008 Daytona 500  
Corvette Z06

The 2008 Corvette Z06 Daytona 500 Pace Car is unveiled at the Central Florida International Auto Show Thursday, November 15, 2007 in Orlando, Florida. This special anniversary gold design commemorates the 50th running of the Daytona 500. It is the fifth consecutive year that the Corvette has been chosen to lead the race.
Negrão completes two-day Champ Car test  

Alexandre Negrão

Alexandre “Xandi” Negrão successfully completed a two-day test with Rocketsports Racing at the Mercedes-Benz of Sugarland Road Course in Houston, Texas this week.

The two-day test, which was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday this week, gave Negrão an opportunity to get behind a Champ Car and try out a true America-road course. It also gave Rocketsports the chance to evaluate Negrão as a driver and some testing time in the off-season, as the team prepares for the 2008 Champ Car World Series.

Negrão completed about 150 laps at 2.38 miles per lap for a total of about 350 miles of trouble free running. The team spent the first morning allowing Negrão to familiarize himself with the track and check that all of the car systems were ready for the test. They made small adjustments to the car during this period to get the car ready for the rest of the test. The afternoon was spent with Negrão learning more about the track and a Champ Car, while the team worked more on the chassis setup to suit the car to the track and to his driving style. Negrão worked at being more aggressive in the corners and shortening his braking distances. More ...
industry news
Yokohama Tire to Adjust Prices  Due to the continued record increases in the cost of raw materials and energy, Yokohama Tire Corporation announced it will increase prices on its consumer tires up to seven percent; medium truck tires and light truck commercial tires up to four percent; and Off-The-Road (OTR) tires up to five percent, effective January 1, 2008.  All three divisions will include in-line adjustments, which will be announced at a later date.

“In addition to raw materials, we’re also seeing record-high transportation and energy costs,” said Dan King, Yokohama vice president of sales. “Unfortunately, Yokohama’s pricing must reflect these costs.”

“In this difficult business climate, Yokohama continues to improve efficiency while leading the way in environmental responsibility among tire makers,” said Jim MacMaster, Yokohama executive vice president, Business Division.

Evel Knievel dead  Evel Knievel, the hard-living motorcycle daredevil whose jumps over Greyhound buses, live sharks and Idaho's Snake River Canyon made him an international icon in the 1970s, died Friday. He was 69. He had been ill for years due to contracting Hepatitis C from a blood transfusion 15 years ago, and also suffered from diabetes and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Knievel's death was confirmed by his granddaughter, Krysten Knievel.

Gary Bettenhausen
Photo courtesy IMS

Evel sponsored the entry driven by popular veteran Gary Bettenhausen in the 1977 Indianapolis 500.

Bettenhausen started 21st and finished 16th in the No. 98 Agajanian/Evel Knievel Dragon/Offy, dropping out with clutch problems after completing 138 laps.

Bettenhausen's car was painted in the familiar red, white and blue, star-spangled paint scheme that Knievel used on his motorcycle during his daring jumps over such landmarks as the fountain at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Bettenhausen's racing suit also resembled the famous leathers worn by Knievel during his stunts.

The colorful, outspoken Knievel captured the attention of the world during the 1970s through his death-defying motorcycle jumps. Perhaps his most outlandish stunt came in 1974 when he attempted to jump Snake River Canyon in Idaho in a rocket-powered "Skycycle." The jump failed.

IRL starting to capitalize on Castroneves fame  UPDATE A reader writes, I think it's great the IRL is attempting to capitalize on Helio's win on Dancing with the Stars. I'm sure there is a lucrative untapped market of gray-haired 50 to 60 year old bespectacled women who just love ballroom dancing and open wheel motor racing. Not to disparage Helio, I like him, but to think his recent fame amongst the nation's retirees is going to do much for the IRL is wishful thinking at best.  Patrick Harte

11/30/07 Castroneves said his associates are trying to organize sponsorship packages to capitalize on his fame, but no deals have been finalized. The Indy Racing League is already capitalizing on Castroneves. In an attempt to elicit votes for Castroneves this fall, the IRL distributed posters, yard signs and T-shirts. The league also placed advertisements in the Sports Business Journal and the entrances of Menards hardware stores.

As the 2008 season nears, the IRL will work with ABC and ESPN to promote racing, "Dancing" and Castroneves. The idea of having the driver's dance partner, Julianne Hough, sing the national anthem at the 500 has also been discussed.

"We absolutely can and will continue this (pursuit) through the beginning of the season," said Terry Angstadt, the president of the IRL's commercial division. "It's a unique opportunity that 22 million people have been watching (him) twice a week for 10 weeks." Indy Star

ALMS to use E85 Bioethanol  The American Le Mans Series should become the first championship in the world to use second-generation bioethanol fuel. The ALMS will introduce an E85 fuel option in 2008 in place of the E50 it originally planned to bring in this year but never did. It will incorporate a second-generation bio element sometime during next season.  The sanctioning body says it takes less energy to manufacture the second-gen, or cellulosic, bioethanol than traditional grain-based ethanol; because it can be made with waste matter, it is less disruptive to the food chain. AutoWeek
Viso and Battistini to test for Minardi Team USA  Just three weeks after the final race of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season in  Mexico City, Minardi Team USA will be in action again next Monday and Tuesday, at Sebring International Raceway, when it tests two up-and-coming young drivers.  Former GP2 driver, Ernesto Viso, and Asia Pacific F3 Champion, Dillon Battistini, are both looking for a full-time seat in the Series in 2008, and will have their first experience of the Champ Car DP01 chassis at the Florida track. The pair arrived in Indianapolis on Thursday for their seat fittings, as well as meet-and-greets with the engineers and crew.

Twenty-two year-old Ernesto Viso, from Venezuela, has spent the last two years in the highly competitive GP2 Series, finishing sixth in the overall standings in 2006, and taking a win at that season’s Imola round.  He combined his GP2 duties with testing for the Spyker F1 team. He is looking forward to his first taste of driving a Champ Car, after having been an interested spectator at the Series’ season finale, in Mexico City, earlier this month.

Ernesto Viso:

“I’m very excited for this test and am looking forward to working with everyone at Minardi Team USA. I am sure it will be a very productive test and we can then evaluate our options for next year. I think it would be a positive move for me and my career to be in Champ Car in 2008, and hopefully that will happen.” More ...

Capps, Legge Join Karting All-Stars  The Motorama Kart Parts – Birel team will field NHRA star Ron Capps, Champ Car front runner Katherine Legge, and former NASCAR driver and world karting champion Lake Speed for the Masters class at the 2nd Annual Snap-on All-Stars Karting Classic. The MKP – Birel team In addition, the MKP – Birel team will also field Bill McLaughlin Jr. for the Karter class.

Don Schumacher - Brut Racing NHRA Funny Car standout Ron Capps is a driver who is always looking for new worlds to challenge. Whether it is in a sprint car, on a motorcycle, or in a go-kart, Capps has a passion for competition in multiple motorsport disciplines. The opportunity for Capps to challenge himself against some of the best road and oval track racers was too much to resist. Look for Ron to surprise many with his abilities to turn left, right, and brake.

Dale Coyne Racing Champ Car driver Katherine Legge is very familiar with the harsh confines of closed course urban racing environments, after two seasons in the Champ Car World Series. More ...

Stewart says no to early contract renewal  Joe Gibbs Racing (and Toyota) wants to sign Tony Stewart to a new contract, even though his current contract runs through 2009. But Stewart said Thursday he doesn't plan to negotiate during the offseason.  "It's flattering they already want to do this and get it done and out of the way, but I'm taking this off-season off. I need it desperately."

You can bet that Stewart also wants to see how well the team will perform with Toyota before making a decision to renew.
Industry news
Former GM Chairman Roger Smith dies at 82  Roger B. Smith, former Chairman and CEO of General Motors Corp., died Thursday after a brief illness. He was 82.

Smith led GM in the 1980s, retiring on July 31, 1990.Smith directed GM during a time of new environmental and safety standards and increased competition from import auto brands.

During Smith’s tenure as chairman and CEO, GM introduced its first front-wheel-drive midsize cars, formed the NUMMI joint venture with Toyota to manufacture cars in California, created the Saturn brand, and acquired Electronic Data Systems and Hughes Aircraft Corp.

“Roger Smith led GM during a period of tremendous innovation in the industry,” GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said in a statement today. “He was a leader who knew that we have to accept change, understand change, and learn to make it work for us. Roger was truly a pioneer in the fast-moving global industry that we now take for granted.”

During Smith’s tenure at the top of GM, he also led the company through a downsizing that spurred filmmaker Michael Moore to produce the polemic documentary “Roger & Me,” chronicling the negative economic impact of Smith’s changes on the city of Flint.

Smith was born in Columbus, Ohio, on July 12, 1925, and he received his formal education in Michigan.

Audi adds LMES program in 2008  AUDI AG makes a clear commitment to motorsport for the 2008 season with the most extensive factory involvement in the company’s history. In addition to defending the DTM title with the new A4 and the entry of three diesel-powered sportscars in the 24 Hour of Le Mans, Audi Sport plans the continuation of its involvement in the American Le Mans Series and its entry in the Le Mans Series in Europe.

As a result, Audi competes on a factory level in a prospective 30 races and three championships with two different types of car in 2008. The near 460-hp race version of the new Audi A4 celebrates its debut in the DTM. The third generation of the revolutionary R10 TDI diesel sportscar is developed by Audi Sport in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.

"Without its successes in motorsport, Audi would not be the most sporting and fastest growing brand in the premium segment,” stresses Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of AUDI AG. "Everybody at Audi knows just how important motorsport is for the brand. We will continue to concentrate on racing series that bear a close relationship to production and which accelerate the development of our production car range. This is the case with the DTM and the Le Mans sportscars.” More ...

Fisichella hits back at Ecclestone jibe  (GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella has hit back at Bernie Ecclestone for suggesting he quit formula one.

In an open letter to the F1 chief executive, reproduced on the front page of his personal website in both Italian and English, the grand prix veteran took exception
to Ecclestone's claim that he should have done a better job in the past few seasons at Renault.

"You are the father of formula one and like a father you have talked about your children, including me," Fisichella, who is 34, said.

"I wanted to remind you dear daddy, I mean dear Bernie, that I am the one who won the first Grand Prix in Melbourne in 2005 with Renault and therefore I was the one
who first discovered the R25 as a winning car," he added. More ...

industry news
Diesel trumps E85 and hybrids  Anything's better than ethanol blend E85, even ordinary gasoline, a new cost-benefit analysis of alternative fuels by researcher John Graham at the Pardee Rand Graduate School finds.

Diesels scored highest, surprising even the researchers. "We were kind of expecting that hybrids would outperform diesels when we went into the study. It's close, but the advanced diesel" provides better performance and fuel economy for the price, he says.

Compared to gasoline, a driver could spend as much as $1,600 more on fuel over a vehicle's life burning E85, a mix of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, Graham calculates, while a diesel could save as much as $2,300.

Diesels are just creeping back into the USA as automakers introduce clean-burning models that meet new pollution rules.

The study, which Graham plans to discuss today at a National Academy of Sciences roundtable in Washington, undercuts E85 at a time Detroit automakers are lobbying Congress for ethanol-supportive legislation and fuel-economy credits for building E85-compatible vehicles. More ...

Schumacher’s new house done  

The Schumacher Mansion

The checkered flag is finally in sight for Formula One legend Michael Schumacher’s new home – after nearly SIX YEARS and £30MILLION in building costs.

It is a residence that only a man who earns more than £50 million a year could own. The 7,000sq ft mansion built by Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher on the shores of Lake Geneva boasts rooms decorated with the finest Italian marble, exotic woods and terracotta tiles from Mexico.

Schumacher has even installed a filling station so he doesn't have to nip out to top up the fleet of Mercedes, Ferraris, Aston Martins and Bentleys he can store in his heated, 30-car, underground garage.

But if Schumacher was looking for a quiet retreat where he could invite his neighbors, who include Phil Collins, Sir Roger Moore, David Bowie, Celine Dion and former British F1 ace Sir Jackie Stewart, he has been disappointed.

"Schloss [Castle] Schumi" - and its conspicuous show of his wealth - has made the former motor racing champion an unwilling pawn in a Swiss political row. More ...

Singapore hospitality packages  Corporate hospitality packages for the inaugural FORMULA 1TM SingTel Singapore Grand Prix are now available for sale via race promoter Singapore GP Pte Ltd.

A total of 9,000 corporate hospitality tickets will be made available during phase one. Each of the 180 corporate hospitality suites will be able to house 50 guests over the 3-day race weekend for companies who wish to entertain their clientele at one of the most prestigious events on the Singapore calendar. Larger suites will also be available.

The prestigious corporate suites will be available above the major grandstands at seven locations around the circuit park. These include the Pit Grandstand (opposite the Pit Building), Pit Entry and Exit, Turns 1, 2 and 3 and opposite One Raffles Link. Prices range from SIN $3500 to S$6500 (1600-3000 euro; £1,200-£2,200) per person for a three-day pass. More ...

British driver headed to stock cars  British driver Ed Tilley is set to launch his bid to join the NASCAR grid after securing the chance to take part in the 2008 ARCA series. Tilley, team principal of aspiring touring car entrants Encke Sport, will take part in his debut test at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on December 7th at the wheel of a Chevy Monte Carlo in preparation for the 2008 season. "All my life I've had one interest, racing cars and winning," he said. "To be given a chance to prove myself in the ARCA series is a very special opportunity that I could not turn down." Tilley will be mentored initially by former NASCAR driver Randy Baker who said he was looking to help the Briton make an impact in his American move. "We are very excited about working with Ed," he said. "His career has been on hold over the past year as Ed took some time out due to a family bereavement, but we are looking forward to working with him and his sponsors to help him reach his goals in motorsport. We have a great team around us here to point him in the right direction and achieve great things." crash.net
Bernie denies musing McLaren points penalty  

Bernie Ecclestone

(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has denied saying McLaren could be forced to start the 2008 season with a negative points score.

In a transcript still showing on the website of the German-language magazine Auto Motor und Sport this week, F1's chief executive was asked: "If it turns out that McLaren used Ferrari information for its new car, should they be concerned about beginning the season with a penalty?"

FIA president Max Mosley was last month asked a similar question; namely, if the Woking based team could be excluded after FIA investigators inspect the team's 2008 car.

"It would be more likely that they would be given a negative point allocation," he answered.

Ecclestone, meanwhile, answered to Auto Motor und Sport: "I hope not, but it could happen."

An English version of the Auto Motor und Sport transcript, posted on F1's official website, is now showing a different question posed to the 77-year-old, who is commonly referred to in F1 circles as the sport's 'supremo'. More ...

Raikkonen may attend wife's equestrian event  (GMM)  The wife of 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen will next weekend fight for her own title.


Jenni Dahlman-Raikkonen, a model and former Miss Scandinavia who married Ferrari's Finnish driver in 2004, is listed as one of the 165 international entrants of the prestigious Munchen-Indoor equestrian event, to be held at the Olympiahalle in Munich.

The German newspaper TZ speculates that Raikkonen, 28, may attend, even though he is allergic to horses.

"With Kimi you never know," his manager Steve Robertson is quoted as saying.

Jenni owns four horses, three of which were reportedly bought for her by Raikkonen.  They are stabled in Riesenbeck, Germany.

"Of course I support my wife," Kimi said recently.

"You can see the passion in Jenni for her own sport.  The same passion which I have for racing -- although I do have more horsepower," he joked.

"I have tried riding with Jenni but I'm so badly allergic to horses that I couldn't really do it," Raikkonen added.

industry news
Pirelli open factory in China  Yanzhou, China – Pirelli has begun manufacturing high-performance car tires in China at the Group’s second factory in the Shandong Province. The new industrial facility, which is located in the same area as the factory for truck tires which opened in 2005, was inaugurated in the presence of Riccardo Sessa, Italian Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Marco Tronchetti Provera, Chairman of Pirelli, Francesco Gori, CEO and General Manager of Pirelli Tire, Niu Yshun, Chairman of Yinhe Group, and Chinese authorities.

The factory occupies a covered surface area of 70 thousand square meters and has a manufacturing capacity of about 3 million pieces per year, with areas sufficient to contain manufacturing expansion up to 10 million pieces per year. Employees, nearly all of local origin, number 1,000. The investment made by Pirelli to build the factory amounted to nearly 100 million dollars. Production will be destined for China and the main markets in the Asia-Pacific area. More ...

tv news
Weekend USA TV Reminders  UPDATE The full Saturday and Sunday TV listings are now shown below.


Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Porsche Supercup
Bahrain, Barcelona, Monaco, France
12:00pm-12:30pm - Rounds 1-3
12:30pm-1:00pm  - Round 4 & 5 SPEED
24 Hours of Le Mans Highlights (2007)
1:00pm-2:00pm SPEED
Movie: Born to Run (1993)
4:00pm-6:00pm FOX Movie Channel
Desert Racing Series - Las Vegas 300 (Trucks) Las Vegas
6:00pm-7:00pm The Outdoor Channel
SportsCentury: Jeff Gordon 
8:00pm-8:30pm (R) ESPN Classic
2007 NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon
8:30pm-9:00pm ESPN Classic
2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Awards Show 
9:00pm-12:00am (L) ESPN Classic More ...
Milk and Cereal Formula 1 Scott Speed/Colin Fleming  Not good enough for F1, in this video Americans Scott Speed and Colin Fleming try to prove they can sing even if they can't drive fast.

Carl Skerlong Tests the PCM Champ Car  Pacific Coast Motorsports gave Atlantic standout Carl Skerlong his first taste of the 750-hp Champ Car yesterday at Buttonwillow Raceway in central California.  Skerlong completed 107 trouble-free miles on the 1.86-mile permanent road course.

Skerlong, 19 of Seattle, Washington earned two podium finishes in his rookie season of Atlantic competition.  His talents caught the eye of PCM team director Tyler Tadevic, and Skerlong was named to the PCM Jr Team, a program which recognizes and develops future open-wheel stars. “Carl did an outstanding job in his first outing in the PCM Champ Car,” commented team director Tyler Tadevic.  “His speed improved progressively throughout the day, and his feedback and ability to adapt not only to the extra horsepower but also to all of the additional features and functions of the Champ Car were impressive. Carl proved that he will certainly be ready to step up to big leagues in 2009 and I am sure he will fight for the 2008 Atlantic title with the King Taco car.” More ...

Perera testing for Forsythe/Pettit Racing  

Franck Perera

Champ Car Atlantic Championship Rookie of the Year Franck Perera has been selected by the newly combined Forsythe/Pettit Racing to test its Champ Car at MSR in Houston today and Friday.
"We are happy to give Franck the opportunity to drive the Champ Car.  It gives us a chance to evaluate him and at the same time help the team with some testing items," said Neil Micklewright, V.P Forsythe/Pettit.
"With Toyota F-1 I did a lot of shakedown and some official testing and I am excited to work with Forsythe/Pettit for their testing this week and get time to know the car and present myself to the team and the series for a Champ Car drive next season," said Franck Perera. More ...
Fan support, not talent won for Helio  Fan support is just as critical as fancy footwork when it comes to winning "Dancing With the Stars."  As a pure dancer, Spice Girl Melanie Brown was easily the most polished finalist, consistently wowing the judges with her versatility and flair. She and her partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, were the highest-scoring couple throughout the hit show's fifth season.

But on Tuesday night, viewers snubbed Brown and gave the mirrorball trophy to race-car driver Helio Castroneves. The fourth consecutive man to win the contest, Castroneves' personality, enthusiasm and flashing smile — combined with an effortless quickstep on his final performance — clearly resonated more with voters.

"It's not only about dancing, you know? It's about popularity," Castroneves said after the show. "That's what I'm actually very happy about."

His partner, Julianne Hough, also had won last season's competition, with speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno. "She has an incredible fan base," Castroneves said.

The only female winner has been Kelly Monaco, who took the crown during the first season in 2005.

Despite her talents, Brown was unable to break the streak. She said that losing "was a horrible feeling. I'm not going to deny it."

Earlier Tuesday, Marie Osmond was the first finalist to be eliminated. She probably deserved it after a doll-inspired freestyle dance that was panned by judges and bloggers alike. Osmond came into the finale in third place. Castroneves was in second, just one point behind Brown.

At age 48, Osmond's frisky days were behind her, especially compared with young hotsteppers like Scary Spice or Sabrina Bryan of the Cheetah Girls. But Osmond said voters kept her afloat during the 10-week contest as she endured the death of her father and fainting on stage.

"We knew every single week that we were here because of them," she said after the finale. "Obviously, I'm not the best dancer. We know that." ThatsRacin.com

industry news
Dodge will start taking orders Monday for Challenge  Monday, Dec. 3, is the first day Dodge dealers can take orders for the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 coupe.  The cost is  $37,995, including shipping charges, the Dodge boys said on Thursday. Cars will start arriving at dealerships next spring.  Dodge plans several trim levels and powertrains--V6 and smaller-displacement V8 models--for the Challenger, but initially will offer only the high-performance SRT8 model. That means the car is packing a 6.1-liter Hemi V8 under the hood.
Krohn Racing Announces 2008 Drivers  Krohn Racing returns to the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series in 2008 for its third season as an independent race team of owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn.  Ricardo Zonta and Eric van de Poele Join Krohn Racing.  As 2008 Teammates to Tracy Krohn and Nic Jönsson The driver line-up, beginning at the 46th Annual Rolex 24 At Daytona, will include Krohn paired with endurance sports car veteran Eric van de Poele in the No. 75 Pontiac-powered entry. The No. 76 car will pair team regular Nic Jönsson with former Formula One star Ricardo Zonta for the season.  Darren Turner and Oliver Gavin Join Krohn Racing for 2008 Rolex 24.  At Daytona English sports car ace Darren Turner will be added to the Krohn No. 76 entry with Jönsson and Zonta for the Rolex 24 effort in January. Fellow Brit Oliver Gavin will join Krohn and van de Poele in the No. 75 car for the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic.
Jerez MotoGP Test – Day 3  The Repsol Honda pairing of Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden finished the final MotoGP test of the year in first and second positions as the Spanish sun finally faded on the 2007 season. Both riders improved their lap times again today and, with the latest Michelin qualifying tires fitted, were well inside the pole position time set by Dani Pedrosa at the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez in March.

Pedrosa rode exclusively on the 2007 RC212V as he conducted a full day’s tire testing for Michelin. The 22-year-old Spaniard completed 72 laps gathering comparison data which the French manufacturer will use for development purposes during the winter break. The culmination of Pedrosa’s tire test was two hot laps on qualifiers with which he set the two fastest times of the day, the fastest one a scorcher that stopped the clock at 1m 38.582s.

Nicky Hayden also had a profitable final day and he too impressed on qualifiers, setting a time of 1m 38.848s on the 2008 RC212V, which was the quickest lap achieved on the new machine over the three-day test. The 2006 World Champion also completed a long run of 24 laps in order to test the durability of Michelin’s latest batch of race rubber. Hayden then clocked some quick laps with a final run on the 2007 machine and finished the test in positive mood as he heads home to America for the winter break. More ...
tv news
Motorsports forum to be webcast live from Monaco  Some of the biggest names in motor sport will be participating at the event, which will take place in Monaco on December 5-6. FIA president Max Mosley, BMW motor sport boss Mario Theissen, Formula One’s newest team owner Vijay Mallya and Honda Racing CEO Nick Fry are just a few of the major industry players taking part in the conference program.

Eurosport agreed a deal to be the Platinum Broadcast Partner for the Forum, a deal which will enable motor sport professionals worldwide to follow the conference via a live webcast for the first-time. A full camera crew will be on the ground to film the event bringing the latest news and views, plus on-the-spot interviews with the motor sport industry's most influential people.

Jacques Raynaud, Vice-Chairman, Eurosport, said: "The Motor Sport Business Forum is a natural fit for us. The Forum is the leading event for the motor sport industry and Eurosport has a deep involvement in televising and promoting major motor racing championships. We are delighted to bring our cutting-edge technology and webcasting know-how to this important industry event."

Densham plays down new gearbox rule  (GMM)  Renault's Tim Densham has played down the impact that new gearbox rules will have in 2008.

To further reduce costs, the FIA has introduced a regulation requiring every driver to use the same gearbox at four consecutive grands prix next season.

Only damaged gears can be replaced without penalty, while a full gearbox change will drop the driver five places down the grid.

But while the rule change appears significant, Densham - the French team's chief designer - said the challenge is not an "insurmountable problem" for Renault.

"To begin with, the technical regulations already impose a large number of parameters that we have no choice but to comply with.  And this year our gearbox's reliability has been nothing short of excellent," he said.

Densham revealed that the gearbox design for Renault's R28 will not be significantly different from this year, and nor should it be used more carefully.

"That's not at all part of our intention," he explained.  "It should be as quick as the one used this season."

Glock to make Toyota test debut at Jerez  (GMM)  BMW-Sauber has given permission for Timo Glock to make his test debut for Toyota at Jerez next week.

A spokesman for the 25-year-old's new team confirmed on Thursday that Glock, who has signed a multi-season Toyota contract beginning in 2008, will run in last year's TF107 at the Spanish circuit on all four days.

The German, who will reportedly wear an unbranded helmet and overalls, remains under contract to BMW until 31 December.

Glock is scheduled to run alongside his expected 2008 teammate Jarno Trulli on Tuesday and Wednesday, before Toyota's new test driver Kamui Kobayashi takes over from the Italian on the last two days of the final 2007 test.

Oscars of F1 to announce the next Lewis Hamilton this Sunday  Motor racing might be taking its winter break, but six young British drivers are as fired up as ever as they face their biggest challenge yet: the Autosport Awards and its famous 'star of the future' prize, the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.

The McLaren Autosport BRDC award recognizes young British racing talent, and the winner will be announced at the glittering annual awards event at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Sunday 2 December at 8pm.

The ceremony will be broadcast on ITV1 at 11:20pm on Tuesday 4 December.

Along with the kudos that comes with winning this coveted title in the presence of the Autosport Awards' distinguished and influential guests, the winning driver also receives £50,000 to further his racing career; a test drive in Lewis Hamilton's Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 car; and membership of the British Racing Drivers Club, along with the Chris Bristow trophy. More ...

British F3
Abay to drive for Carlin in F3  

Sam Abay

Former Formula BMW racer Sam Abay will join Carlin Motorsport for the 2008 Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series.  The 20 year-old Australian, who finished eighth in a competitive season of Formula BMW UK this year, has already completed a number of test days with the British squad. Prior to racing in the UK, Abay competed in Formula BMW Asia, where he finished runner-up in the 2006 season following 15 impressive podiums and five race wins. 

Abay will follow in the footsteps of fellow countryman Mark Webber when he lines up for his first F3 race in March.  Webber is one of many F1 stars who learnt their race craft in BF3, drivers such as Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button, David Coulthard and Takuma Sato - who won the championship with Carlin in 2001 - have all competed in British F3 before reaching the highest level of the sport.  More ...

BMW ready for 20-race schedule  BMW boss Mario Theissen is looking for more efficiency from his Grand Prix team as the F1 calendar expands one round to 18 races next year and F1 bosses are in talks about possibly holding 20 races in the future.

"20 races is a lot and will place a heavy burden on the whole team, especially those who travel to the races and tests," Theissen warned. "However, this is something we can live with."

"At the end of the day, we put a huge amount of resources into racing in Formula One," Theissen added. "And if we do end up with another two races on the program, it will mean that these resources are actually being used more efficiently. Having said that, we do need to think about how we organize such a packed season and, from a logistics point of view, how the travelling schedule can be structured as efficiently as possible."

Regan Smith tests at Kentucky  Rookie-of-the-Year hopeful Regan Smith laid the groundwork for his first full Sprint Cup Series season by testing his new Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI), machine at Kentucky Speedway on Wednesday [and is scheduled to test Thursday also]. Smith will compete in the #01 Chevy in 2008 and is part of a new five-driver DEI Sprint Cup line-up that also will include Paul Menard in the #15 and Martin Truex, Jr., in the #1. Newcomer Aric Almirola and Mark Martin will split time in the team's #8 entry. Smith also was joined on the track by his teammate Menard and USAC star Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who turned laps in a Roush Fenway ARCA RE/MAX Series car with guidance from 2003 Craftsman Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil. Kentucky Speedway PR
France blames NASCAR’s downfall on Earnhardt  Overall NASCAR television ratings were down about 13 percent in 2007 as compared to 2006.  But NASCAR chairman Brian France said during a Reuters Media Summit in New York Tuesday that he was not worried NASCAR's popularity is slowing. (Note: Attendance at the track and merchandise sales dropped too, But Brian France conveniently skipped those topics). 

“The margin of error for all the sports to manage their business smarter is more narrow," France said.

But France also pointed to the failure of NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., to have a strong season hurt the sport's television ratings.

"It would have helped if he would have been competitive," said France. "He didn't win an event and he certainly didn't make our playoffs. And that's unhelpful if you're trying to build ratings." More ...

France reiterates NASCAR not for sale  NASCAR Chairman Brian France reiterated his company’s stance on Tuesday again saying that the France family would not sell any part of their racing holdings.

We're committed to the business," he said, adding that he still wants to add new tracks in several U.S. cities to fuel growth.  It’s the same denial that France issued at the season ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway several weeks ago.

Talk of a possible sale began in Europe with a report from ESPN.com and fueled by reports that a European investment firm was interested in buying NASCAR from the France family. France has said the death earlier this year of his father, Bill France, who helped build the sport's national following, sparked the speculation. More ...

industry news
GM to produce hybrid cars in China  General Motors Corp will begin producing a hybrid car in China from next year, in time for the Beijing Olympics in August, the US automaker said on Wednesday. Shanghai GM, one of GM's local Chinese joint ventures with SAIC Motor Corp, will disclose details closer to the undisclosed model's launch, a spokesman for GM Asia-Pacific said.

Demand for hybrids is negligible in China, where fuel economy figures little in consumers' purchasing decisions. Hybrid cars are also expensive since the government offers no incentives on their purchase.

Toyota Motor Corp is currently the only carmaker that builds a hybrid car in China. It sold just 2,000 of the Prius hybrid last year.

Assembling fuel-saving hybrid cars in China, one of GM's most important markets, is another step in the US automaker's efforts to paint a more environmentally friendly image of itself as consumers increasingly look for better mileage amid record-high energy prices.

In other efforts, GM is planning to launch a plug-in hybrid car, the Chevrolet Volt, by the end of 2010, becoming the only automaker to provide a timeline on production for the rechargeable vehicle. China Daily

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • McLaren not driver-hostile team - Dennis
  • Dennis not rushing to name second driver
  • Liuzzi on Force India training camp
  • Hamilton in London paparazzi race

McLaren not driver-hostile team - Dennis
(GMM)  Ron Dennis has rejected suggestions that McLaren is perhaps the least driver-friendly team in formula one.

After Fernando Alonso ended his new McLaren tenure after a tumultuous single season in 2007, former team driver Juan Pablo Montoya said he sympathized with the Spaniard.

"I understand where Fernando is coming from.  I felt the same," he said.

But Dennis, the Woking based team's long time boss, denies that the Alonso and Montoya examples prove that McLaren is difficult to work for.

"I don't think we have more problems with drivers than other teams," he told the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.

"Actually, the only relationship that ended badly was with Fernando, but that is over now, there is nothing to do about it, and we are thinking completely about 2008."

McLaren's relationship with former grand prix winner Montoya, who has since switched to NASCAR, imploded in mid-2006.  F1 historians cite an eight-car pileup at his last race at Indianapolis, after which he was named an instigator, as the final catalyst for the split.

El Tiempo quotes Dennis as branding Montoya "a fool" for allowing recriminations after the incident to color his decision to immediately quit the sport.

"We have an agreement to not criticize one another," the Briton explained.  "However, I believe he was unwise to leave formula one over one incident.  He is a good driver and a good person.

"But I can understand it (Montoya's decision), because his position within the team was complicated and it became very difficult, especially with the technical group," Dennis explained. More ...

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