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Q and A with injured Mark Webber
Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber was injured recently when he collided head on with a four wheel drive while undertaking the cycling section of this year’s Pure Tasmania Challenge. The Aussie racer broke two bones in his right leg and is currently recuperating down under before heading back to Europe in a few weeks to begin his rehabilitation in preparation for next year’s Formula One world championship.

Speaking to the Australian media, Mark explained what actually happened, his recovery schedule and his plans for getting fit for 2009…

What actually happened in the accident?
I steered to try and avoid the car but if I went too far I would end up in a ditch. I did a pretty good job preventing my upper limbs and head from taking an impact but there wasn’t much I could do about getting my legs out of the way because my feet were clipped into the cleats so they took the hit. The pain was pretty bad and I knew straight away that my lower leg was broken.

Who was the first person to reach you?
There were three of our Challenge paramedics on the scene within a few minutes as they had been following the stage. It was just by chance that dad - who was volunteering on the Challenge - was close by. He was aware that there had been an accident and went down to see if he could help out; he had no idea it was me until one of the other volunteers told him.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Raikkonen spending winter in Finland
  • Team heads gather in Geneva for FOTA meeting
  • Davidson set for race return in sportscars
  • GP2 champ Pantano says F1 'abandoned' him
  • Nakamoto leaves Honda F1 team (in disgrace)
  • Trulli and Glock set for Bahrain test

Raikkonen spending winter in Finland
(GMM)  Deposed world champion Kimi Raikkonen has spent much of the time since the last race of 2008 in his native Finland.

Reports from the Nordic country reveal the 29-year-old is in Helsinki, Finland's capital which is a short distance from Raikkonen's birthplace of Espoo.

He was photographed training with a local ice-hocking team, with whom he is friends with some of the players.

The tabloid Iltalehti said that, while in Helsinki, Raikkonen has also organized to sell one of his three houses near the Finnish city.

The eight-bedroom house on the exclusive island suburb of Kaskisaari was reportedly put on the market by Raikkonen, who lives mainly in Switzerland, for 14.5 million euros.

According to the newspaper, some foreign embassies have expressed interest in the property.

Team heads gather in Geneva for FOTA meeting
(GMM)  Formula one team bosses have travelled to Geneva, Switzerland, for Thursday's meeting of the FOTA alliance.

We previously reported that the sport's ten teams intend to discuss Bernie Ecclestone's proposed 'medals' scoring system for the first time, as well as a possible shake-up for the qualifying format.

More pressing on the agenda, however, is cost-cutting, under the threat that FIA president Max Mosley will impose draconian measures if the teams cannot themselves propose worthwhile money-saving proposals.

With Mosley already threatening to proceed with engine standardization, the pressure is on FOTA to put together a cohesive package before next week's meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council.

"A lot has been defined for 2009, more is to come for 2010 and 2011 to reduce costs and improve the show.  These are the leading principles," Ferrari spokesman Luca Colajanni confirmed to The Guardian newspaper.

Believed to be the most radical of the proposals for discussion is a move from 2.4 liter V8 engines for 2011 to fuel-efficient turbo 1.8 liter engines.

This specification, using about 30 per cent less fuel than the current engines, could pave the way for a ban on mid-race refueling.

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GP2 Asia ready for round two
The second season of the GP2 Asia Series opened in Shanghai last October and saw Roldan Rodriguez and Davide Valsecchi win the first two races. Finishing sixth in the sprint race, the Spaniard from Piquet GP scored a further point while his main rival, Dams’ Kobayashi, had to retire.

Although extremely quick on the Chinese track, the Japanese ace lost the feature race following a spin towards the end of the event, meaning that Rodriguez is currently leading the Championship, three points ahead of Javier Villa at Super Nova Racing.

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Badoer to demo F2008 in Bologna
A special event will take place this coming weekend at the MotorSport Stadium track, put up for the 33rd International Motor Show, hosted by the city of Bologna. On Saturday, 6th December, fifteen cars from the Italian series of the Ferrari Challenge Pirelli Trophy will enter the arena used for the show’s on-track events, including a qualifying session, which will be followed by three races to be held during the course of the day.

Apart from the races on the program, the MotorSport Stadium track will also play host to three demonstration runs featuring four of the laboratory-cars entered in the exclusive FXX Program, as well as the traditional appearance from the Formula 1 team.

Luca Badoer will take to the track in an F2008, the car which brought Ferrari its sixteenth Constructors’ World Championship title, the eighth in the last ten years. At the end of the demonstration, Badoer will then get behind the wheel of a Fiat 500 Abarth which, in 2009, will make its competition debut alongside the Italian series of the Ferrari Challenge Pirelli Trophy, apart from the Valencia round, which will be held at the same time the event counting towards the European one-make series.

racing news

Philly race car museum is pit stop for auto fans
Mario Andretti and Fred Simeone
For more than 20 years, Fred Simeone kept his priceless collection of vintage racing cars in a nondescript garage downtown. He'd give private tours to other car collectors and enthusiasts, but the automotive gems remained largely hidden from public view.

Not any more. Simeone now has a museum for his more than 60 rare racers, which span the 20th century and include models by Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Bugatti, Stutz and Hudson.

The cars run from big, boxy antiques to sexy, streamlined sportsters and include winners of prestigious races at Nurburgring, Le Mans and Sebring.

"We have a few real Mona Lisas in here," Simeone said.

Watch Slide Show

Tucked away in a former engine manufacturing plant in an industrial corner of Philadelphia, the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum opened in June and had its formal dedication in November.

The cavernous facility showcases cars in huge dioramas, from a three-dimensional Italian village to a tableau of the Bonneville Salt Flats. Within each setting, the cars are arranged in chronological order to convey what Simeone said is the message behind the metal: how vehicles are improved by the spirit of competition.

An exhibit on Le Mans, a 24-hour endurance race, starts with the 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Le Mans — a high-riding, rectangular vehicle that to the modern eye looks more lumbering than aerodynamic. It ends with the 1970 Porsche 917LH, a low-slung, sleek and curvy racer with a bubble-like cockpit.

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Porsche LMP2 engine designer awarded
Porsche LMP2 at Laguna Seca
Porsche’s Thomas Laudenbach is the recipient of this year’s World Motorsport Symposium Awards for the Race Engine Designer of the Year, presented by the UK published Race Tech magazine. Laudenbach, the head of motorsport development/power train at Porsche AG, for development of direct fuel injection for the Porsche RS Spyder race car.

The power output of the successful championship-winning Porsche increased with the new engine from 476 to 503 hp (370 kW) at 10,000 revs per minute. Maximum torque rose from 370 Nm (273 ft. lbs.) at 7,500 revs to 385 Nm (284 ft. lbs.) at 8,500 revs.

But the most compelling feature of the Direct Fuel Injection version of the successful Porsche 3.4-liter V8 motor is its improved energy efficiency - an important element in endurance racing. Despite an improved power output, fuel consumption was significantly reduced.

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Chitwood expects Goodyear to make good on tire fiasco
Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and Chief Operating Officer Joie Chitwood says that he hopes to talk with Goodyear and possibly NASCAR about doing something for fans after last year’s tire debacle.

With Goodyear’s rubber compound turning to dust and the tires failing after 12 or 13 laps, NASCAR threw the caution about ever 10-12 laps during the 2008 Sprint Cup race so the teams could change tires.

Michelin offered fans free tickets after all of the Formula One drivers who used its tires opted not to compete in the 2005 United States Grand Prix at the track, instead pulling off track after the prerace warm-up. An extensive ticket giveaway such as Michelin’s might not be the answer, but Chitwood wants to explore ways to make amends with the fans. NASCAR estimated that 240,000 people attended the race last year.

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Just 14 cars for Speedcar Series opening round
Speedcar Series' second season begins this weekend at the Dubai Autodrome with 14 cars on the grid. The Speedcars will be run by 7 teams from six countries across Europe, the Middle East and United States.

Two of the current seven teams participated in Speedcar Series last season. They are German Phoenix Racing who also race in DTM, FIA GT and Le Mans 24 hours and the Union Properties team from the UAE. Newer teams include a second UAE team Continental Circus, Italian team Durango with a 28-year racing history in the F3000 and GP2, HPR from the UK that receive technical support from AF Corse (three time FIA GT World Champion), JMB from Monaco and the American team Palm Beach Racing.

Claudio Berro, Operations Director of Speedcar Series said, "We are very pleased with the high level of teams that we have on board at the moment. Our focus this season is to attract professional teams and we are accomplishing that. We are still waiting for a final adjustment to the list of drivers from some of our teams. It will be finalized today and announced tomorrow. However, I can anticipate that our entry list includes seven F1 level drivers: Season 1 Champion Johnny Herbert, Jean Alesi, Heinz Harald Frentzen, Stefan Johansson, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Gianni Morbidelli and Jacques Villeneuve."

The first round of Speedcar Series Season 2 will take place at the Dubai Autodrome on December 4-6, 2008.


Pantano gets screwed by F1 teams
Giorgio Pantano
Despite winning this year's GP2 title over guys like Bruno Senna and Sebastien Buemi, 29-year-old Italian Giorgio Pantano has not found a drive in F1 like other GP2 champions before him.  Meanwhile Senna and Buemi appear headed for a ride.

"I challenge anyone to have a CV as good as mine," Pantano told Autosprint magazine. "I won two karting world titles, three European, three Italian, German F3, GP2 and was always at the front in F3000. But now I don't have a seat in F1, is this a joke?

"That's what it's like now, if you don't get in touch with people, no one looks for you. I feel abandoned.

"The only person behaving fairly has been Ecclestone. I called him a few days ago and after ten minutes he called me back. The only real drives still available are at Honda and Toro Rosso. Bernie told me that if anything moves, I'll be the first to know.

"But I feel total indifference towards me. I read of Senna and Buemi but, really, what have they done? At this point, a guy in my situation must think that being a racing driver is not advantageous, doing another job would be better."

"Money is becoming the priority in order to race, talent doesn't exist any more," he said. "I think I could still do six or seven years in F1 at high levels.

"I would just like someone to let me test an F1 car. Once the test is done, they'd tell me whether I could be a possible world champion or not. That would give me peace of mind.

"I just want a credible test, a real chance that puts me in the conditions of being properly assessed."


KERS may not improve overtaking
Red Bull Racing's technical director Geoff Willis says the introduction of KERS to Formula One next season won't help much for overtaking the car in front of you.

"I think the teams will soon learn how to use and optimize the KERS, but it won't help overtaking so much," he told Italian magazine Autosprint. "It's a technology developed on road cars that will find a limited application in F1.

"The new aerodynamics regulations will be the biggest factor at changing racing by creating new overtaking opportunities.

"The reduction in size of the rear wing will allow the drivers to race more closely, because the loss of downforce won't be as radical while in the slipstream."

"Probably one aerodynamic development will be to disturb the air flow of the following car in order to make your own car less prone to be overtaken," he added.


NASCAR Layoff count UPDATE The recent layoffs at many NASCAR teams have prompted the creation of a networking and resume posting site, www.DontCheckUp.com.

Unveiled on Monday, the site was created for displaced workers in the motorsports industry seeking employment.

Don Gemmell, one of 113 employees recently let go by Dale Earnhardt Inc., conceptualized the site, which will allow displaced workers from DEI and its affiliated Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines to list their name, resume and contact information.

The site can be expanded to include information from former employees of other NASCAR teams as well.

“The outplacement service retained by DEI for us at our termination provided eight hours training,” said Gemmell, who worked in motorsports operations at DEI. “But only about 30 of the 113 have taken advantage of it, so far.

“As I listened to them and talked to others who were also losing their jobs, I started to think of ways we could work together instead of individually. So after input from some of the group, we put together www.DontCheckUp.com to help.”

Team No. Layoffs
Dale Earnhardt Inc 120
Ganassi 71
Bill Davis Racing 60
Richard Petty Driving Experience 45
Roush Fenway Racing 35
Petty Enterprises 30
Wood Brothers 25
Furniture Row 25
Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies 25
Stewart-Haas 16
Richard Childress Racing 15
Hendrick Motorsports 12
JTG Daugherty Racing 12
Michael Waltrip Racing 12
Ernie Elliott Inc [Ganassi engines] 9
Joe Gibbs Engines 5
Hall of Fame TBA
Yates TBA




Q and A with Kazuki Nakajima
Kazuki Nakajima
Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima completed his first season in the pinnacle of Motorsports a month ago and now, as he prepares for his second season with the Grove based squad, the Japanese driver has reflected on the past twelve months, telling the team’s official website of his highs and lows, lessons learned and his goals for 2009….

So, Kazuki, the season finished over a month ago now, have you had a nice break? What have you been up to?

I’ve had a really nice time! When the season ended I went home to Japan for about three weeks for a holiday. It was nice to see my family and friends again as I haven’t seen them for so long. The weather at home was quite nice too which always helps. I’m now back in the UK so I can spend some time in the factory before Christmas and to cover the next two tests in Jerez.

This year was your rookie season in Formula One. How would you summarize it?

I think it was a good first year, although it wasn’t perfect, obviously. It wasn’t easy when the car didn’t suit the track, but I do feel that I’ve developed myself throughout the year, which is a really important thing to do in your rookie year. 

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Ganassi, Penske, Dempsey Head Latest Rolex 24 Entries
The early entry list for the 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona swelled to 34 on Tuesday, with the reception of 22 entries for the Jan. 24-25 running of the sports car classic.

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive victory in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, and Penske Racing were among the teams filing a pair of Daytona Prototype entries.

TRG entered four Porsches in the GT class, Autometrics, Team Sahlen and Stevenson Motorsports entered two-car teams, while Gray's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey will compete under the Dempsey Racing banner.

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates entered a pair of Lexus-powered Rileys, while Penske Racing entered two Porsche Rileys. Drivers on both teams are yet to be announced.

Among the other Daytona Prototype entries, Childress-Howard Motorsports will make its Rolex 24 debut with the No. 2 Pontiac Crawford, driven by Andy Wallace and Rob Finlay. AIM Autosport entered the No. 61 Ford Riley for Burt Frisselle, Mark Wilkins, John Farano, Alex Figge and David Empringham. RVO Motorsports entered the No. 12 Chevrolet Riley for Roger Schramm, Tonis Kasemets, Paul Dallenbach and Bill Lester. No drivers were listed on the entry for the No. 77 Doran Racing Ford Dallara.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Alonso in standard engine quit threat
  • Honda calls off expensive media lunch
  • Kovalainen wants lighter fuel in '09
  • German state convenes Hockenheim summit
  • Alonso not backing title forecast
  • New Renault to debut on January 20
  • Alonso happy grooved tire era over
  • Barcelona paddock to be re-laid

Alonso in standard engine quit threat
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has said he will consider leaving formula one if the sport enforces standard engines from 2010.

The FIA proposal has been highly controversial, particularly among F1's car manufacturers, who have hinted the move might be reason enough to withdraw from the grid.

Former double world champion Alonso, who drives for Renault, agrees with their logic.

"If they approve a single engine, that would be the last straw.  It would be time to start thinking about retirement," the 27-year-old said at a team sponsor event in Spain.

Alonso said standardizing parts like engines would be another "backwards step" for formula one.

He said the last V10 engines with nearly 1000 horse power, before the sport reverted to the current V8s, were "exciting for the drivers -- auto racing at its limit.

"We've gone from a glimpse of the future to cars without electronic aids and no grip (and) which are a visual image of the past."

Honda calls off expensive media lunch
(GMM)  In the grip of the global financial crisis, Honda's formula one team has cancelled its usual annual post-season media lunch.

About 40 lucky guests were set to meet with chiefs of the Japanese squad this week at the plush Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons restaurant, located near Oxford about a half hour drive from the team's Brackley (UK) factory.

However, in the wake of Japanese rival Toyota's decision to forgo an official launch event for its 2009 car, Honda chief executive Nick Fry is believed to have decided to cancel the lunch.

In an email of apology, Fry confirmed that "severe economic pressure" was to blame for the change of plans.

"Honda, like others, has been forced to put production on short-time," he explained.

"In light of this we do not think it would be appropriate to continue with our lunch," said Fry.

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NASCAR R&D Center Wins SAE Motorsports Conference Award
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International Motorsports Engineering Conference Award was presented to the NASCAR Research and Development Center on Tuesday for its efforts towards “designing safer and more competitive vehicles.”

NASCAR’s new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race car, a seven-year project undertaken at the R&D Center, made its debut on the track in 2007 and was fully implemented into the series at the beginning of the 2008 season. The new car was designed with three primary goals in mind: improving driver safety, improving competition, and helping teams be more cost efficient.

Peter Wright, FIA Technical Consultant and the conference’s keynote address speaker, presented the award to Mike Fisher, NASCAR’s Managing Director of the R&D Center.

“The NASCAR R&D Center is honored to receive this award and our thanks and appreciation go out to all of the people in our industry who have been involved with the development of the new car, including the race teams, owners, manufacturers, and the staff here at the R&D Center,” said Fisher. “Safety is our No. 1 priority and is certainly an initiative that we work on every single day.”


McLaren denies Hamilton space interest
Lewis Hamilton reportedly wants to take his girlfriend Nicole, and three members of his family, into space according to reports from the Evening Standard.

The London 'paper said the five tickets on a 2010 flight of the highly exclusive new Virgin Galactic airline would cost the 23-year-old McLaren driver just shy of $1m.

"Lewis thinks it would be the perfect way to say thank you to Nicole and his family for their support throughout his triumphant year," said a source.

While one source believes this is the ultimate adventure for the new champion, a spokesperson from the McLaren Mercedes squad denied such reports.

"We can confirm that Lewis is not, and has not been considering, purchasing tickets for him and his family to go on the space flight..."


40 Kids  Shop with Colts Players, Marco Andretti
On Wednesday, December 3, the Colts and Meijer will join with Andretti Green Racing to host 40 local kids from Concord Neighborhood Center  at the Southport Road Meijer store. The kids will receive a special pizza party, compliments of Papa John's Pizza and Coca-Cola, as well as a  special holiday shopping experience, compliments of Meijer.

Following the pizza party, four Colts players and IndyCar Series Driver Marco Andretti will assist the  youngsters  select new clothes, shoes, toys and any other items on their holiday wish list. Each child will be provided with a $200 Meijer gift card, compliments of Meijer, to purchase their items, as well as an additional $20 to select a toy to donate to another child in need through the Toys for Tots program.

This is the first time the Colts, Meijer and Marco Andretti have teamed up for this holiday shopping event. Meijer is the Official Supercenter of the Indianapolis Colts and has supported several Colts outreach projects this year, including the SACKing Hunger Food Drive, Thanksgiving Shopping Trip and Thanksgiving Basket Delivery program.

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Walkinshaw buys V8 Supercar team
V8 Supercar star Mark Skaife has agreed to relinquish ownership of the Holden Racing Team under a confidential deal which will clear him of what is understood to be a multi-million dollar debt.

Skaife will give up his interest to international motor racing magnate Tom Walkinshaw, who previously owned the outfit before relinquishing control to Holden when he ran into financial troubles of his own.

The two agreed on Monday for the Scot to assume immediate full ownership of HRT.

But Skaife, a five-time V8 and Bathurst champion, will remain heavily involved with HRT as an ambassador.

And he will also maintain his high-profile role with Holden once he retires from fulltime V8 driving after the final round of this year's series at Sydney's Oran Park on this weekend.

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Four from ALMS make AARWBA selection
Four of the American Le Mans Series’ best received postseason honors from the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. Motorsports journalists from around the country selected Patr¢n Highcroft Racing’s David Brabham and Scott Sharp along with Jorg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler from Flying Lizard Motorsports as AARWBA first-team All-American Auto Racing Team members.

Following a historic 10th Series season, both pairings are invited to celebrate their efforts at AARWBA’s annual banquet on January 10 in Ontario, Calif., where they will receive their respective “Horsepower” awards - Brabham/Sharp representing Road Racing competitors and Bergmeister/Henzler in the At-Large category.

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GM CEO agrees to $1 salary
General Motors Corp. chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will announce later today he is taking a $1-a-year salary, according to a more-than-30-page plan being sent to Congress, as the automaker is expected to report dramatically lower sales in November.

A person briefed on the plan said Wagoner had decided to accept the token salary as part of an effort to share the sacrifice. Wagoner already has seen his compensation cut in recent years and has not gotten a bonus in three of the last four years.

Wagoner had a $1.65 million salary in 2007 and has a $2.2 million salary this year. He took a 50 percent cut in pay in 2006, and his total compensation has been reduced sharply since he took the helm of GM in 2000.


Toyota, Chrysler and Ford sales plummet
Toyota Motor Corp.'s November sales fell 33.9 percent, while rival Ford Motor Co.'s sales dropped 30.6 percent in November compared to the same month a year ago, the companies announced today.

Toyota's sales decline reflects how tough the market has become for every automaker. Only two vehicles showed positive growth for Japanese-based company, the Toyota Sequoia and the Lexus LX, both big SUVs. Toyota's total truck sales dropped 36.1 percent, while its car sales fell 32.3 percent.

Even Toyota's hot selling hybrids stumbled with Prius sales dropping 48.3 percent compared to the same month last year. Prius sales are down 9.9 percent for the year. However, Toyota said it has sold nearly 230,000 hybrids this year and more than 12,000 hybrids last month.

Ford executives said the Dearborn automaker's sales drop was slightly better than the entire market's demise in November, which the company anticipates will be down nearly 35 percent.

"The economy continues to weaken and auto sales reflect this reality," said Jim Farley, Ford group vice president of marketing and communications, in a news release.

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GM submits long-term viability plan to Congress
General Motors Corp. today submitted a plan to use Federal bridge loans to create a leaner, more competitive company, one that is profitable and self-sustaining for the long term.

The plan, submitted in response to Congressional hearings in November, includes a detailed blueprint for a successful, sustainable General Motors. Building on a product renaissance and comprehensive restructuring that has been under way for several years, the plan calls for:

  • Increased production of fuel-efficient vehicles and energy-saving technologies;
  • Rationalization of brands, models and retail outlets;
  • Reduced wage and benefit costs, including further reductions in executive compensation;
  • Significant capital structure restructuring;
  • Further consolidation in manufacturing operations.
  • GM is requesting term loans of up to $12 billion to provide adequate liquidity levels through December 31, 2009. GM anticipates an initial draw of $4 billion in December 2008. In addition to the bridge loans, the company is requesting a $6 billion line of credit to provide liquidity should a severe market downturn persist. GM’s intent is to begin to repay the loans as soon as 2011.

Any draws would be conditioned on achieving specific restructuring requirements in the plan. To help expedite these actions and protect the taxpayers, GM is also seeking the creation of a Federal oversight board to oversee the loans and restructuring plan.

GM is requesting the bridge loans and credit line because of a sharp industry-wide decline in vehicle sales. This decline, due in large part to tight credit and record-low consumer confidence, has led to a corresponding drop in dealer orders that is adversely impacting GM’s first-quarter production schedules, revenue forecasts, and liquidity outlook. Federal assistance would enable GM to weather a credit crisis that has driven U.S. industry sales to their lowest per-capita level in half a century, and help the company emerge fully competitive with all manufacturers operating in the U.S. 

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Firestone Indy Lights schedule finalized
Nine races on the Firestone Indy Lights schedule in 2009 will be held on the same day as IndyCar Series races, series officials announced on Dec. 2.

The 15-race schedule, divided among eight ovals, four temporary street circuits and three permanent road courses, includes three new venues and the series' first two races outside of the United States.

"It is important to Firestone Indy Lights that our drivers and teams can showcase their talents not only to IndyCar Series teams competing on the same track, but to the fans that come to each event," said Roger Bailey, executive director of Firestone Indy Lights.

Same-day races will be held at St. Petersburg 2, Long Beach, Kansas, Milwaukee, Edmonton, Kentucky, Mid-Ohio, Infineon and Chicagoland, while the season-opening St. Petersburg race, Iowa, Watkins Glen, Toronto and the season finale at Homestead-Miami will be held on the day prior to the companion IndyCar Series race.

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Schmidt to be honored by Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
Firestone Indy Lights team owner Sam Schmidt will receive the 2008 Visionary Leadership Award from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Dec. 2 at the Making Magic Happen Gala in Los Angeles.

Schmidt will be recognized for his outstanding professional and philanthropic leadership and will be joined by actress Jane Seymour, who will receive the 2008 Philanthropy Award.

"I am so touched and honored by this recognition from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation," said Schmidt, founder of the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. "Not only was Chris a friend, but he inspired me and so many others to pull through challenging times and move forward with my life."

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Patrick most searched athlete in 2008
Far from the best race car driver, for Danica Patrick, sex sells
Danica Patrick topped golfer Tiger Woods, quarterback Tom Brady and Super Bowl champion Eli Manning as the most searched for athlete in 2008, according to AOL’s annual list of top Web, mobile and video searches.

AOL annually ranks the top searches in 40 categories based on the people, places and topics that received the largest volume of Web and mobile search queries on AOL Search and on Truveo, the company’s video search engine.

Patrick, who raced into national prominence with a fourth-place finish in the Indianapolis 500 in 2005, increased her popularity with several milestones in 2008. Prior to the start of the IndyCar Series season, the 26-year-old graced the pages of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition, an issue that generates more than 69 million readers as well as more than 250 million online visitors.

On the track, Patrick made history in April when she earned her first career victory, the first victory by a woman in an Indy car event. She went on to finish a career-high sixth in the championship.


Dixon, Castroneves, Matos earn First Team All-America honors
Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Raphael Matos have been voted to the 2008 All-America Auto Racing First Team by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. They are among 17 drivers in seven categories eligible for the Jerry Titus Award that will be presented to the Driver of the Year Jan. 10 in Ontario, Calif.

Dixon and Castroneves swept First Team honors in the Open-Wheel category as the top two vote getters. Dixon, the IndyCar Series champion, recorded a record-tying six victories in 2008, including the Indianapolis 500, to win his second series championship by 17 points over Castroneves. Castroneves won twice and set a series record with eight second-place finishes in his pursuit of Dixon. The two of them easily outdistanced the other nominees in the Open Wheel category. Both are now four-time All-Americans, the third time for Dixon on First Team and the first time Castroneves has achieved the top rung.

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IRL will not ban testing like NASCAR
The IRL will not ban testing as NASCAR did recently.

"[That] could have a different effect on our series than it does in Cup," said league competition boss Brian Barnhart. "We're trying to balance sustainability of our existing owners with attracting new owners and new drivers. If a new team or a rookie driver is trying to come to your series and isn't allowed to test, there's not much likelihood that they're going to join your series.

"When you're sitting on 43-plus cars, like Cup is, that's probably not a situation they're too worried about."

Barnhart said IndyCar testing will be curtailed, however. He also expects 22-24 cars at each race in 2009. AutoWeek

[Editor's Note:  Unlike other recent decisions by the IRL (TV package and dropping Surfers), this is the correct decision by the IRL.]


F1 continues to bankrupt race promoters
High costs and empty grandstand seats continue to plague F1 race promoters.  All would be bankrupt if not for tax dollar support.  This year only Canada, Great Britain, Singapore and Brazil could boast full houses, with special circumstances prevailing in each instance.


France: Kansas, not Kentucky will get next Cup date
NASCAR Chairman Brian France indicated Tuesday that it is more likely that Kansas Speedway could get its second date on the 2010 schedule than for Kentucky Speedway to have its request approved for an inaugural race there.

International Speedway Corp. is planning to ask NASCAR to move one of its Sprint Cup dates to Kansas Speedway, while Speedway Motorsports Inc. planning to seek to move a date to Kentucky Speedway.

Neither ISC nor SMI has indicated which tracks they want to move a date from in their realignment requests.

Speaking after an appearance at the Street & Smith’s Motorsports Marketing Forum, France said that NASCAR wouldn’t approve a request without making sure it fits the sanctioning body’s criteria.

“It depends on what they want to exchange it for,” France said. “If they want to leave a smaller market not performing as well, we would look at that favorably. They all understand what that criteria is.

“I would expect Bruton [Smith at SMI] or ISC to ask for it in the way that would get it approved. … We’re not going to take a date that’s working fabulously at one place to move it to a second date anywhere.”

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Roush Fenway names Donnie Wingo
Roush Fenway Racing announced today that Donnie Wingo will serve as crew chief for Jamie McMurray and the No. 26 Crown Royal / IRWIN Industrial Tools team.  Wingo, who has more than 15 years of NASCAR experience, will lead the No. 26 team in the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

“I’m thrilled to be working with Jamie again,” said Wingo, who served as McMurray’s crew chief for three seasons at Ganassi Racing.  “Jamie and I had some good runs together at Ganassi and we were pretty successful on the track.  I’ve seen how well Jamie has performed in the past and I hope with coming over to Roush Fenway Racing we can build on that success.

“Not only do I get to work with Jamie, but I get to work with four other really good crew chiefs here at Roush Fenway Racing.  With the support of them and everyone at Ford Racing, I’m really looking forward to next season.”


Jim France buys the bank
The vice chairman of NASCAR has acquired a 72% controlling interest in CenterBank of Jacksonville N.A. James C. France, who is also chairman of Daytona-based International Speedway Corp., said he made the investment based on the potential for growth in the Jacksonville market.

“With port development activities and the potential of adding an aircraft carrier to the naval base at Mayport, we see Jacksonville as poised for exceptional growth,” said France. “We’re glad to be a part of a bank that will help that growth happen.” France is the son of Bill France Sr., the co-founder of NASCAR.

The France family has a history of banking in Florida. Bill France Sr. was a shareholder in American National Bank. CenterBank President and CEO Raymond K. Mason Jr. was president of American National Bank. “I’ve known Jim and his family for more than 30 years and am looking forward to having him as a partner,” said Mason. Jacksonville Business Journal

formula bmw

Formula BMW World Final draws closer in Mexico City
This weekend, the "Aut¢dromo Hermanos Rodríguez" in Mexico City (MX) will play host to the spectacular highlight of the Formula BMW season: 21 talented young drivers from around the world will compete at the Formula BMW World Final for a chance to take a Formula One test drive with the BMW Sauber F1 Team.

Philipp Eng (AT), who came through to win last year's World Final, will enjoy his big moment as early as Thursday. The 18-year-old will head out onto the track in a Formula One car for the first time in his career. "I can hardly wait," says Eng. "Of course I have done some special preparation for this test. The strain on the neck muscles will be much greater than I am used to. However, I feel I am well equipped. My aim is to make a good impression and to enjoy the time in a Formula One car."

Mexican motorsport fans will see the BMW Sauber F1 Team in action on numerous occasions over the course of the weekend. Regular Formula One driver Robert Kubica (PL) will alternate with BMW Team Germany's Augusto Farfus (BR) from the World Touring Car Championship, who will make his second outing during the World Final weekend at the wheel of an F1 car since 2007. BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen will also attend the thrilling event in Mexico. Farfus' fellow BMW WTCC driver, Félix Porteiro (ES) from BMW Team Italy-Spain, will also travel to Central America.

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Ford submits $9B loan request to congress
Ford Motor Co. submitted its plan to Congress today seeking a loan of as much as $9 billion, saying it expects to break even or be profitable before taxes in 2011.

The automaker said it doesn’t anticipate a “liquidity crisis” in 2009, barring a bankruptcy by a competitor or a more severe economic slump. Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally said he would work for a $1 annual salary should Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford need to access the loan.

“Government loans would serve as a critical backstop or safeguard against worsening conditions,” Mulally said in a statement. The company said it hopes to avoid having to tap the requested financing.


GM Ceasing Corporate Aviation Operations
GM today announced that it is ceasing operations at General Motors Air Transportation Services (GMATS) at Detroit Metro Airport.

Due to significant cutbacks over the past months, GM travel volume no longer justifies a dedicated corporate aircraft operation.

GM is currently exploring options for transferring its aircraft to another operator. The company is pursuing sale of four of the aircraft so it can terminate the leases.

GM will shutter the facility at Metro Airport effective January 1, 2009. GM will work with the airport to seek a tenant for the balance of the lease, which expires in 2009.


Crestani signed by Monteiro team
Fabrizio Crestani will be in charge of the second single-seater at Ocean Racing Technology when the team makes their debut in the GP2 Asia Series this coming weekend in Dubai. The 20 year old driver won the two last races of the EuroSeries 3000 in Magione (Italy) bringing his tally to three victories. Fabrizio's presence on the podium was regular and despite the handicap of missing the first third by the championship, he finished just 11 points behind the champion.

Added to this, Fabrizio took part in three rounds of the Formula Master and several testing sessions with the teams in GP2 Series, the Italian's results gaining the attention of Tiago Monteiro. “Fabrizio is a young driver with potential. He quickly came to grips with the Euro Series 3000 and his performances were solid. He now has to take this new challenge as he has never raced with such power before. He is motivated and that is important when entering such a competitive championship that all the young drivers aiming to join."

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BMW, Mercedes, urge German GP solution
(GMM)  The two German car manufacturers involved in F1, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, insist the country must be represented on the sport's annual calendar.

Currently, Germany hosts a single race per year, alternated between the loss-making Hockenheim and Nurburgring circuits.

Cash-strapped Hockenheim, however, said this week it will only continue to host grands prix with unlikely state support.

"Germany is an important market for BMW, where we have a big fan base," a BMW spokesman told Duetsche Press-Agentur.  "Formula one should not lose its traditional arenas.

"A solution has to be found here," he added.

Canada and France recently dropped off the 2009 calendar, as the sport looks increasingly to Asia and the Middle East.

Mercedes' motor racing chief Norbert Haug said: "Of course we are interested that German formula one fans have at least one grand prix in Germany, especially as until recently they had two per season."

There are five German drivers - a quarter of the grid - in formula one, while the Toyota team is based in Cologne.


A1GP deal signed in record time
It was during a tour of pit lane Sunday that one of the A1GP international bosses said bringing the event to the Gold Coast was a dream come true.

A1GP's general manager of franchise and special projects, Paul Cherry, said bringing A1 cars to race the streets of Surfers Paradise was hugely satisfying for him and open-wheel racing legend and Gold Coaster Alan Jones.

"I've been here on many occasions with CART and Champ Cars and it's a fantastic situation to bring A1 here and to bring one of the iconic names of motor racing, Ferrari, to race around the streets of Surfers and race in tandem with the V8 Supercar series -- probably the best touring car series in the world," said Mr. Cherry.

"We have a world-class event moving forward." 

Mr. Cherry joined Sports Minister Judy Spence, A1 Team Australia seat holder Alan Jones, chairman of the formerly named Indy 300 Terry Mackenroth and V8 Supercars chairman Tony Cochrane in Surfers' pit lane yesterday to mark the new relationship with the A1GP which has signed a five-year deal to replace the slower IndyCars on the Coast from 2009.

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Rahal Team Successfully Completes First BMW M3 Test
Rahal BMW M3
The all-new BMW M3 that signals the return of BMW to American sportscar competition in 2009 successfully completed its first test sessions on American soil last week, as BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team and BMW Motorsport put nearly 1,400 miles of work in at Road Atlanta and Sebring International Raceway.

The tests were the first outings with the newly-developed M3 race car and the Ohio-based BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team took the opportunity to work with nearly every component of the car that will do battle in the GT2 class of American Le Mans Series competition this season.

BMW Touring Car stars Jörg Müller, Andy Priaulx and Agusto Farfus put the M3 through all of its paces at the two tracks, as numerous configurations and changes were tested in the never-ending quest for speed. Tire testing was conducted in the search for a compound that would deliver speed and reliability, and the engineers and mechanics changed and adjusted everything from shocks to brakes and springs over the five days of track time.

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racing news

Dan Gurney against spec cars
"The rules have become such that the factories are the only ones that are allowed any creative input," Dan Gurney told Gordon Kirby in April of '06. "Since Toyota and Honda started racing in CART in the nineties and the IRL in 2003, you have to sign a release from them that you cannot look inside the engine. You can't do anything. In effect, they passed a rule that said you're not allowed to compete with them.

"When they started doing that I said, 'Why would you do that? Why stop innovation? Why stop creativity? What effect does that have on young people coming along and wanting to learn about those things?' The answer is it bleaches them out. So the social consequences of the way the manufacturers have control of the rules really bothers me. If these mega outfits aren't pushed to do something, nothing new will happen. Maybe the hundred mpg carburetor that everybody jokes about is out there, but we won't find it the way the rules are written today.

"You're not allowed to do what you want anymore," Dan added. "You're darn near classed as a criminal because you might want to continue to be creative against the bureaucratic rules. The freedom to be creative is what I liked so much about the sport and it's just been wrung out of it by the bureaucrats."


Firm touts motor oil made from animal fat
Someday maybe fat from humans can be used for motor oil too
A Connecticut startup said it expects to deliver a car engine oil this month that is made without the typical multi-millennium waiting period for fossils to become fuel.

Green Earth Technologies Inc. says it has found a way to make a substance chemically identical to crude oil from animal fat, a slaughterhouse byproduct this is typically discarded en masse.

The company is already using the process to make 2-cycle and 4-cycle engine oil, which is marketed as G-Oil.

Green Earth's engine oil would enter a market that hasn't changed much since Mobil 1 synthetic oil debuted in 1974.

"The oil we're selling is better than anything out there," said Mat Zuckerman, GET's technology chief, who says he began working on the process several years ago when studying emu oil.

"There is a big push to replace petroleum distillates with an alternative source," said Doug Kingman, an agricultural sciences professor at Sam Houston State University. "It's really nice to take animal fat that we'd normally throw away and turn it into something useful."

A quart of GET's motor oil will retail for about $5.99 to $6.99, depending on location. A quart of Mobil 1 10w30 synthetic oil -- which GET sees as a main competitor -- retails for about $6.50.

GET's small engine oil is already being sold by retailers like The Home Depot, but Zuckerman and Jeff Marshall, a former venture capitalist who helped start the company in June 2007, are waiting for final marketing approval from the American Petroleum Institute.

"We can't really solve the world's fuel problem this way, because there's not enough fat," Zuckerman said. "But we can solve the world's lubrication problem."

In 2007 about 6 million gallons of lubricants were sold, according to the Energy Information Administration.

GET has 52,000-square-foot facility in Oklahoma that gets animal fat from a nearby slaughterhouse. It can produce 5 million bottles of the oil per month.

"There is not enough oil from animals in the U.S. to displace an entire industry, but maybe (GET) will discover something we didn't know," Houston said. "Every gallon we can make out of animal fat is a gallon we're not taking out of the ground or importing from someone else." Detroit News


Team Ireland to make Race of Champions debut
Adam Carroll with his A1GP Team Ireland car
The Race of Champions will feature a team from Ireland for the first time when the 2008 event is held at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, December 14. One of the country’s brightest young motor racing stars, Adam Carroll, will be joined by rally ace Gareth MacHale, in the team.  Both will participate in the ROC Nations Cup and The Race of Champions.

Carroll currently leads the prestigious A1GP World Cup of Motorsport series for Ireland, so the five-times race-winner in the F1-supporting GP2 series is no stranger to The Race of Champions' nation versus nation format.

"I am really looking forward to competing in the Race of Champions,” comments Carroll, "because not only will it be great fun but also really interesting to drive so many types of vehicles against such an impressive lineup of competitors. It's a unique opportunity to perform in such a famous venue as the new Wembley Stadium and to give motor sports fans a lot of entertainment over the course of one day. From a driving point of view, I am particularly looking forward to driving the World Rally Car and the buggies."

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ING committed to Renault F1
Alonso's ING backed Renault
After receiving a Euro10 billion bailout from the Dutch government, ING, the Amsterdam-based bank that is Renault F1's title sponsor, stated that it will complete its three-year contract in F1. Head of F1 marketing Isabelle Conner said the bank is committed to the deal at least until the end of next year.

"This sponsorship is the best thing that ever happened to ING," she said. "Now we're in year two. It's strategic, it's a growth driver, it's a revenue generator for us. We're in it for three years, we've always said that, that's our commitment. You bet we're continuing this, because it works."

ING is also the title sponsor of the Australian, Belgian and Hungarian Grands Prix and a highly active trackside advertiser at other events.


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Nurburgring wants to keep F1 race
  • Villeneuve to race Speedcar in 2009
  • No place for Rossi at Renault - Briatore
  • New McLaren to launch on 16 January
  • Alonso requires 'winning car' - Briatore
  • Schu shrugs off Barrichello bitterness
  • No plans for more Bortolotti tests
  • Hamilton wants to jet into space

Nurburgring wants to keep F1 race
(GMM)  Walter Kafitz, the boss of the German formula one circuit at the Nurburgring, has rejected suggestions the country could soon be permanently unrepresented on the sport's annual calendar.

The Nurburgring currently alternates the privilege of staging a single annual grand prix in Germany with Hockenheim.

But it has emerged that, without state support, Hockenheim will not host races in 2010 or beyond.

Although carrying similar financial losses, however, the Nurburgring is happy to continue to organize grands prix into the future, Kafitz told the German news agency SID.

"The Hockenheimring is clearly in a worse situation to us," he said.

He revealed that even in Hockenheim's absence, the Nurburgring will seek a new contract, covering the period beginning in 2011, to host formula one every two years.

"We regard a race every two years as a good compromise between the benefits to the region and what it costs us," Kafitz said.

Rejected by F1, too slow for NASCAR, thought he was too good to return to Champ Car, Villeneuve has to now settle for the lowly Speedcar series
Villeneuve to race Speedcar in 2009
(GMM)  1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve has signed up to contest the full 2009 season of the Speedcar series.

The 37-year-old French-Canadian, who contested the last of his 165 grands prix in 2006 with BMW-Sauber, will drive for the Italian-based GP2 team Durango.

Villeneuve contested a couple of races during the inaugural Speedcar series, won by fellow former F1 race winner Johnny Herbert, last year.

The second season begins this weekend in Dubai.

No place for Rossi at Renault - Briatore
(GMM)  Renault boss Flavio Briatore says he would not offer Valentino Rossi a formula one race seat.

"I would not give him a car," fellow Italian Briatore confirmed to the newspaper Il Riformista.

Rossi, 29, flirted seriously with a switch from MotoGP to F1 with Ferrari a few years ago.

Recently, after another Ferrari test to celebrate his latest title, he left the door open to racing in formula one after he retires from motorcycles, perhaps in 2011.

Briatore said: "He belongs to the world of bikes.  There, he is without an equal, and some say that without him MotoGP would not be half of what it is."

Briatore, however, confessed that Rossi's flamboyant personality would be "very good" for formula one.

"He appeals to everyone, as a rock star does."

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IRL thumbs nose at USA ethanol producers UPDATE #5 Indiana corn farmers are deeply disappointed that the Indy Racing League (IRL), headquartered in Indianapolis, has decided to promote foreign-made ethanol from Brazil.

IRL officials are expected to sign a major contract with the Brazilian government to use the race car series to promote the country’s ethanol starting with the 2009 season.

This move by the IRL - which for the last three years has promoted itself as the only major racing series to use American-made ethanol - comes as American farmers and the U.S. ethanol industry are struggling with lower margins and a credit crunch.

“It is unfortunate that the IRL has chosen to promote imported ethanol at a time when we, as a country, are working hard to lessen our dependence on foreign sources of energy and have an industry that has the capacity to meet all U.S. ethanol needs,” said Mike Shuter, president of the Indiana Corn Marketing Council (ICMC). “The U.S. ethanol industry and U.S. corn farmers have been strong supporters of the IRL - not only promoting the series as it moved towards ethanol but also pumping funds into it.”

“While the IRL maintains that U.S. ethanol will be used in 2009, we seriously doubt that the Brazilian government would be committing millions of dollars to the series unless the promotion of Brazilian ethanol was a major component of the sponsorship,” added Shuter.

“It’s very frustrating that the IRL made this decision without giving U.S. corn growers any prior notice of their plans,” said ICMC farmer-director Mike Nichols who also sits on the National Corn Growers Association’s ethanol committee. “It’s hard to imagine that the Indianapolis 500 will be promoting an imported fuel next year and possibly running on Brazilian ethanol in future years.”

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track news

Tickets to Infineon Raceway Now on Sale for 2009
It's all about access during the 2009 Big O Tires Racing Season at Infineon Raceway.  Tickets are now on sale for the 2009 motor-racing season, highlighted by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, IndyCar Series and AMA motorcycles.  It's one of the most comprehensive motor-racing schedules in the country.

In addition to individual event tickets, Infineon Raceway will also offer a variety of ticket packages in 2009, many of which are designed to get race fans closer to the action than ever before. The all-new Platinum Pass will be introduced at NASCAR and driver Kevin Harvick® will be the headliner. The Richard Childress Racing driver, a native of Bakersfield, will be featured in an intimate Q&A session that will include the opportunity to win a personalized replica autographed helmet and diecast car. All Platinum Pass holders will also receive a Pit and Track Pass that allows access to "cold pit" and pre-race festivities, both on Sunday morning. Only 200 of these NASCAR Platinum Passes will be sold.

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Durango to tackle Speedcar with Villeneuve.
Durango Corse (GP2 team) have announced they will supplement their GP2 Asia program this winter by entering the Speedcar Series with former Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve at the helm.

The Canadian, who hasn't raced full-time since he left Formula 1 in 2006, has tried his hand at sportscar and stock racing recently, but while he enjoyed a brief foray in NASCAR and Speedcar, his success has been limited.

Nonetheless, the 1997 F1 World Champion will line-up on the first Speedcar grid of the season at Dubai with GP2 race winners Durango, who will enter two cars this season to celebrate their 25th anniversary since being formed.

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McLaren drivers prepare for winter training camp
Engineers from the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes are busily preparing for the 2009 season in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart. Meanwhile, the test team has been readying two cars for December outings to Jerez, Spain, and the new Autodromo Internacional do Algarve circuit in Portugal.

Elsewhere, Lewis Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen, Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett are preparing for an outing of a different kind; limbering up for a five-day pre-season training camp at the Kuortane Sports Institute in western Finland.

The human performance partner of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, Kourtane has helped train some of the world’s top athletes, including Finland’s Olympic hopefuls, for more than 40 years. The training camp also acts as a useful team-building exercise, with mechanics and engineers joining the drivers for group exercises and tests at the Kuortane campus.

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New Porsche Museum to be opened on January 31, 2009
Porsche Museum nears final phase
Final preparations are being made on the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany for the opening on Saturday, January 31, 2009. Now that the scaffolding has been removed, it is possible to see to the full extent the bold architecture of the building at the head office premises of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG in Zuffenhausen: The 5,600 square meters of exhibition space are supported on just three so-called cores of reinforced concrete – hence just seeming to hover in space. Inside the building the majority of approximately 80 exhibits are already in place.   

In the other areas of the new building – amongst them the museum workshops, the museum shop, the Porsche archive, an exclusive restaurant, a bistro and the capacious event areas – a team of experts is busy putting the finishing touches. Three days after the ceremonial opening, which takes place on Wednesday, January 28, 2009, the doors of the new Porsche Museum will be flung open to welcome the first visitors. The exhibition can be viewed daily for an admission price of eight Euros (reduced price on Mondays: four Euros). Children up to the age of 14 get free admission when accompanied by an adult.

The restaurant on the second floor – which has both a view through the glass facade onto the Porscheplatz  as  well  as  through  the  glass  partition  into  the  exhibition  itself  –  has  its  own separate entrance and is also open at hours different from those of the museum itself.


Ford puts Volvo unit up for sale
Ford Motor Co. said this morning the economic decline and tight credit markets have forced it to consider the sale of its Volvo Cars unit.

Ford said the possible sale of Volvo is part of its "strategic review" to try and strengthen its balance sheet. Last year Ford sought buyers for Volvo, but later said the company wasn't for sale.

Today's announcement comes as Ford and its cross-town rivals, General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. prepare plans to present to Congress outlining how they would spend $25 billion in emergency loans to help them weather one of the worst auto markets in decades. Congress is seeking specific actions from the companies, including brand sales, further work force reductions and other measures, before it will approve loans.

Volvo already has cut some 6,000 jobs worldwide, with more than half in Sweden.

"Given the unprecedented external challenges facing Ford and the entire industry, it is prudent for Ford to evaluate options for Volvo as we implement our One Ford plan," Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally said in a statement. "Volvo is a strong global brand with a proud heritage of safety and environmental responsibility and has launched an aggressive plan to right-size its operations and improve its financial results. As we conduct this review, we are committed to making the best decision for both Ford and Volvo going forward." Detroit News


Swedish government cannot bail out Saab and Volvo
The Swedish government confirmed today it is in talks with General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. after a report that the U.S. automakers are seeking support for their struggling Swedish brands Saab and Volvo Cars.

"We are obviously in talks with Saab, Volvo, GM and Ford all the time, considering the difficult situation," government spokeswoman Lisa Warn said.

Warn declined to give details on the talks, but said the European Union's tough competition regulations restrain the options for the Swedish government should it wish to support the Swedish-based car industry.

Officials at GM-owned Saab and Ford-owned Volvo weren't immediately available for comments.

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NASCAR sponsors lead IRL
The newly released Joyce Julius sponsorship value numbers for NASCAR are pretty sobering. They dwarf those of the Indy Racing League.

Lowe’s, the primary sponsor for this year’s NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, garnered television exposure valued at $200 million. Johnson’s victorious season also earned Chevrolet $67.8 million in exposure.

By contrast, Target was tops in the IRL, with $16 million, and Motorola was second with $6.9 million.

During the 10 races comprising the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Johnson’s sponsors garnered a combined $201 million in TV exposure. The only NASCAR sponsorship group better were those on the car and uniform of the driver who finished second in the standings, Carl Edwards, who earned his sponsors $225 million in exposure during the Chase.

The top 10 IRL sponsors (in terms of TV exposure) combined don’t match the $510.2 million in value Johnson earned for his sponsors.  IBJ.com

racing news

iRacing Presents Paper at Racing Technical Meeting
SAE International, the global mobility engineering organization, begins its 2008 annual Motorsports Engineering Conference tomorrow in Concord, NC.  As part of the conference iRacing.com will present a paper, entitled “Development of a Low-Cost, Effective, Internet-based Motorsport Driver Simulation,” on the use of simulation as a driver-training tool during Thursday afternoon’s technical session.

“From the start, our simulation software was designed to be a training tool for real-world racers, with the cost of development partially amortized across the larger market of racing enthusiasts and fans, for whom our software has an entertainment application,” said the paper’s lead author, Dave Kaemmer, iRacing’s chief executive as well as chief technical officer. “But the current economic crisis has put pressure on racing budgets, leading to substantial reductions in testing, sometimes even mandated by new rules imposed by sanctioning bodies.  As a result, already existing team and driver interest in the use of virtual-world technology has taken on an even greater urgency.”

According to Kaemmer, the accuracy of the track and vehicle models in iRacing’s internet-based simulation service is the key to providing a virtual experience that has application and benefit in the physical world.  “Drivers and teams have been paying attention to this technology for quite a while now,” Kaemmer said.  “But so far, truly accurate simulation has been out of reach to all but the top Formula One teams. We know, both anecdotally and from our company’s own survey research, that many drivers have experimented with video games as a way of learning new tracks, but, for the most part, they didn’t find them sufficiently helpful.

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SunTrust Enters Rolex 24
Wayne Taylor will be seeking his third overall victory in the 47th Rolex 24 At Daytona, entering the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara for the January 24-25 classic.  Taylor will be joined by his regular drivers, Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle, for both the Rolex 24 and the January 3-5 Roar Before the Rolex 24 testing at Daytona International Speedway.

Taylor and Angelelli won the 2005 Rolex 24, one of five victories en route to sharing the Daytona Prototype championship. Angelelli scored his 12th Daytona Prototype victory last year at Infineon Raceway - the first triumph for the Dallara chassis. Frisselle scored his first two Rolex Series victories last year at Montreal and Watkins Glen, driving for AIM Autosport.

Taylor also won the 1996 Rolex 24, joined by Scott Sharp and Jim Pace, driving an Oldsmobile-powered Riley & Scott MkIII.

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Williams F1 extends deal with Allianz
2008 Williams with 2009 wing package
Williams F1 extended its long-standing sponsorship deal with Allianz, the Munich, Germany-based global insurance, banking and asset management provider. The length and value of the contract extension were not disclosed.

"Allianz has built extremely effective international awareness campaigns about road safety and risk management around the themes Formula One provides," said Allianz head of marketing communication Steven Althaus. "These campaigns have directly and positively impacted our core business activities and this is why our program with AT&T Williams endures."

racing news

2008 Auto Racing All-America Team Selected
The polls have closed for voters choosing 2008 All-America Auto Racing Team and five drivers with landslides of more than 70 percent of the vote are contenders for the Jerry Titus Award — the team’s Driver of the Year.

Who those five are is not revealed until the All-America ceremonies in Ontario, Calif., on Jan. 10 but they will come from among the 17 drivers named to the First Team by the voting members of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association.

Three former Titus winners are on the team this year — Indy Car champions Tony Kanaan (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005), and NHRA Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher (2006) but only Schumacher bids to repeat this year.

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Yokohama signs as official tire supplier for GT3
Only days after announcing a new title sponsor for its Porsche GT3 Cup-based championship, the International Motorsports Association has secured leading tire manufacturer Yokohama as presenting sponsor and official tire supplier for the Patr¢n GT3 Challenge by Yokohama. One of North America’s largest one-make championships, the series will start its season at Sebring International Raceway in March.

Yokohama is one of the most well-known names in road racing and has a long history with IMSA and its sanctioned series. It services and competes in a number of the world’s top-flight professional as well as amateur races and championships.

“As one of the world’s most renowned producers of high-performance tires, we are pleased to see Yokohama join in the support and promotion of the Patr¢n GT3 Challenge by Yokohama,” said Tim Mayer, IMSA’s Chief Operating Officer. “The success and history Yokohama has compiled in road racing throughout the world puts it in elite company. We are confident that this partnership will result in the further growth of both the championship and Yokohama.

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baja 1000

Two Firsts for a Woman in SCORE Baja Racing History
Heidi Steele's Toyota
Heidi Steele and team finish second at 41st annual SCORE Baja 1000 and she becomes first women to win a SCORE truck class championship

Steele will also be the first ever woman to receive the Toyota True Grit award for completing every SCORE race mile in 2008.

With the championship in view the Desert Assassins mid size truck team went to the 41st annual Baja 1000 with a plan, fight the battle but win the war.

The war was the class championship for modified mid size trucks known in Baja as class 7sx. The Lucas Oil/Yokohama Tire FORD Ranger team of Heidi Steele/Rene Brugger/Danny Street Jr. took the green flag with an 8-point lead in their class after recently winning the 40th annual SCORE Baja 500. They would work the plan to shadow their main competitor but still be aggressive enough to put them in position for the race win even though that was by far the less important of the goals to finish up the season.

Heidi Steele
In 2005 Heidi earned her first class championship after winning the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 in class with her team. That was her first year of racing and after winning handily out of the gate she felt the pain of learning a new class when she moved from buggies to the coveted truck classes. Her first full year in a truck was 2007 and although the team found the podium they were not winning which is always frustrating.

For 2008 Heidi’s husband Cameron, a 20 plus year veteran of Baja, decided she had learned enough and the team made the commitment to make their FORD Ranger as competitive as possible and put forth a complete effort in the goal of winning the SCORE Championship. SCORE is the organization that hosts premiere desert races in Mexico and the US including the granddaddy of all Off Road events the Baja 1000.

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GAINSCO, Shank, SpeedSource, Banner File for Rolex 24
The 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Daytona Prototype champions and the 2008 GT champions and class winners of the Rolex 24 At Daytona were among the eight entries received at Grand-Am headquarters for the Jan. 24-25 running of the sports car classic.

GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing entered the No. 99 Pontiac Riley for 2007 Daytona Prototype champs Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty. They will be joined by 1996 Champ Car titlist Jimmy Vasser.

Michael Shank Racing will be looking to continue its Rolex Series winning streak by entering a pair of Ford Rileys. New Jersey winners Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri will be joined by Ryan Hunter-Reay in the No. 60, while John Pew - winner of the 2008 finale at Miller Motorsports Park - will co-drive the No. 6 with Michael Valiante and AJ Allmendinger. Shank captured both front-row starting positions for the 2008 Rolex 24, with Negri on the pole and Allmendinger on the outside.

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track news

Texas Motor Speedway announces $2 million in alteration
Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage on Monday announced plans for a $2 million project that will see the track tear out an estimated 21,022 backstretch seats to make way  for a luxury motorcoach park.

The new area, to be known as Burnout Alley, will consist of 74 sites with amenities for fans who bring motorcoaches to NASCAR and IndyCar Series race weeks at TMS. Each gated courtyard will be 30 by 60 feet and include full-service water hook-ups, electric and live race feeds, concierge service that will include grocery shopping, catering options, wireless internet and 24-hour restroom access.

“Our demand for motorhome space – even this year during a downturn economy – has continued to rise each and every year, and our fans have indicated to us that there was a need for this type of project,” Gossage said. “We pride ourselves at Texas Motor Speedway for providing what our fans want as well as our creativity, and Burnout Alley is a product of both.

“Once we got involved in the development of this project, we wanted to make Burnout Alley the ultimate RV area of any speedway race fans will ever visit.”


LeMans test day cancelled by ACO
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest always listens attentively to the manufacturers’ needs, and so in agreement with teams that may be invited to the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours, the Club, remaining faithful to its firmly-held objective to reduce costs, has taken the decision to cancel the test day scheduled for 31st May 2009, and to rethink the format of the Le Mans Series events.
The Le Mans 24-Hours race has always been in tune with the times and when motor racing shows signs of disquiet linked to the economic situation, it is the ACO’s duty to take preventive measures while respecting the sporting regulations.

Thus, in keeping with the cost reductions already begun with the 2009 ACO regulations, and the new orientations in 2011, the test day originally scheduled for 31st May 2009 has been cancelled.

On the other hand, all the entrants invited by the ACO will have to take part in free practice on Wednesday before Thursday’s qualifying session on 11th June to be allowed to start on Saturday 13th June at 15h00.

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Corsa retains Mowlem
Announced today is that British racing star Johnny Mowlem will remain with the Corsa Motorsports team with full factory support from Zytek Engineering for the 2009 racing season. He will drive the LMP1 in the North America-based American Le Mans Series.

Mowlem started the 2008 season with the Corsa team’s GT2 Ferrari entry. Mid way through the season team owner Steve Pruitt linked up with the Zytek factory and switched into the prototype category. The team raced its P1 car twice at the end of the 2008 season, Mowlem qualifying and finishing an excellent third in LMP1 at the season finale in Laguna Seca.

As far as 2009,the team’s initial expectations are realistic.  “We think it's important that we don't set too high an expectation for ourselves.” said Steve Pruitt, “It is evident from the amount of Formula 1 press at the moment, that this technology that we're adopting is not easy and is very cutting edge, so we don’t really know exactly what pit falls await us. I am putting in place the right people and ingredients so this team and concept can win races, and Johnny is a part of that. Obviously we need to continue the development work, but we were already among the leaders at Laguna Seca with Johnny and Stefan (Johansson), and we will be competitive next season.”

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Surfers to redesign pits for A1GP and V8 Supercars
The great street circuit at Surfers Paradise on Australia's Gold Coast will be graced by an expanded pit facility when the A1 Grand Prix Series makes its inaugural visit in 2009, it was revealed when the two parties' respective heads got together to formally 'launch' their relationship.


Red Bull team announces driver/crew chief lineup
No. 83 driver Brian Vickers will have a new crew chief for his third season with Red Bull Racing Team, as Ryan Pemberton leads Vickers’ charge to his first Red Bull victory and a spot in the 2009 Chase.  Teammate Scott Speed will return for his rookie NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. He’ll drive the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota under the watch of returning crew chief Jimmy Elledge. 

“We’re entering our third Sprint Cup season with driver and crew chief pairings that have what it takes to consistently compete at a high level,” said Jay Frye, RBRT Vice President and General Manager. “Brian and Ryan are each at a point in their respective careers where they can bring home wins and make a run for the championship. Scott earned his Sprint Cup ride by exceeding our expectations in ARCA and trucks. He has a great asset in Jimmy, who has experience working with both rookies and open-wheel drivers.” 

Pemberton, 39, inherits a No. 83 team that earned a pole, three top-five and six top-10 finishes before Vickers finished 19th in points. His most recent crew chief role was with the No. 44 Toyota, guiding driver David Reutimann to four top 10s in 2008. 

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Diageo happy with McLaren sponsor deal
  • Feisty Barrichello wins Massa kart event
  • FOTA to discuss 'medals' idea this week
  • Updated official Hamilton book on sale
  • Vettel says Ferrari deal would be 'dream'
  • Governments cost Canada F1 race - Ecclestone
  • Nicolas Prost targets Ferrari F1 test

Diageo happy with McLaren sponsor deal
(GMM)  Multinational drinks company Diageo has no plans to sever its ties with the top formula one team McLaren.

To advertise its Scotch whisky brand Johnnie Walker, Diageo commenced a reportedly $23 million per year sponsorship deal with the Mercedes-powered team in 2005.

Diageo's chief executive Paul Walsh insists the deal is worth it.

"It is a lot of money but you have 400m people watching a two-hour grand prix and all the other races around the world, it's a great opportunity to promote the brand to the right demographic," he told The Times.

"And, of course, it's now part of the championship-winning team, and that's worth a lot in itself," Walsh added.

Feisty Barrichello wins Massa kart event
(GMM)  Rubens Barrichello, who is fighting to remain in formula one, on Sunday won the charity 'International Challenge of Go-Kart Champs' race.

The 2008 Honda driver won the event, organized by Felipe Massa in the southern city of Florianopolis, by beating Lucas di Grassi in race one and finishing the other race in fifth place.

Fellow Brazilian di Grassi, also in the running for the Honda race seat next year and having secured pole position, finished the event second overall, just a single point behind 36-year-old Barrichello.

"Can we quickly send this tape to Honda?" Barrichello joked to Globo TV.

He also complained about 24-year-old di Grassi's driving.

"Everybody wants to win this," Barrichello said, "but we can't go around hitting other people on the track, this is a charity event."

Barrichello's former Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher finished fourth in the first race and retired from the second.

Barrichello, also critical of the German's style, said: "It seemed like Schumacher thought he was in a war.  Maybe he forgot that he is in Brazil now."

12,000 spectators attended the event, also contested by F1 faces including Luca Badoer and Vitantonio Liuzzi, and former drivers Luciano Burti and Antonio Pizzonia.

In the southern region of Brazil, massive flooding and mudslides have cost more than 100 people their lives.

Massa, who won race two, donated 50,000 Brazilian Real ($22,000) to the cause.  "I am giving 50,000 Real from my pocket, plus a signed suit to be auctioned.

"It's the least we can do for these people," the Ferrari driver said.

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A1GP Sepang Paddock Round Up
As the excitement continued on the track and Switzerland and Ireland took the spoils, the action continued in the paddock as A1GP enjoyed its last outing before the Christmas break in Sepang, Malaysia last week.

The week kicked off with another animal-themed outing, this time the drivers getting the chance to meet the Asian elephants at the world famous Kuala Gandah National Elephant Conservation Centre outside Kuala Lumpur.

Drivers from seven nations were given a rare opportunity, thanks to Tourism Malaysia, to ride an elephant in the jungle with the help of an elephant guide, or mahout, and help feed them.

Portugal’s Filipe Albuquerque, France’s Loïc Duval, India’s Armaan Ebrahim, Lebanon’s Jimmy Auby, New Zealand’s Chris van der Drift, Indonesia’s Satrio Hermanto and local Malaysian drivers Fairuz Fauzy and Aaron Lim all had the chance to visit the sanctuary.

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racing news

PRI Trade Show Update
As the clock ticks toward Opening Day, Dec. 11, 2008, for the 21st Annual PRI Trade Show, expectations run high among exhibitors and pre-registered attendees for a solid show.  All indicators point that way, as space continues to fill up in the one million square foot exhibition hall at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, where the show will take place Dec. 11-13, and nearby hotels are reporting at or near capacity.

“We’re looking forward to another great show. The dynamic racing marketplace is based on the passion of racers, and that keeps the racing industry strong,” declared Steve Lewis, Producer of the PRI Trade Show.  “We’ll leave for Orlando with our preregistration numbers actually above last year’s figures. With the latest advances in racing on display by 1,400 companies, you can’t afford to miss this trade show if you make your living in auto racing.”

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Conor Daly Tests with World Speed Motorsports
Daly in the wet in his Star Mazda test
Conor Daly the 2008 Skip Barber champion and winner of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports scholarship continued his preparations for the 2009 season when he tested on the incredibly challenging Infineon Raceway course with World Speed Motorsports.

The beginning of the day allowed Daly to get accustomed to the track, before the rain started to fall. "We ran a little in the dry, and a ton on the wet," stated Team Owner Telo Stewart. "It all went very well; Conor drove hard and smart and never put a wheel wrong even as the conditions got treacherous."

World Speed Motorsports Team Manager John Olsen had this to add, "It was easy for us to see how Conor has won the Skip Barber championship and the Mazda scholarship; he is a true talent and will be immediately competitive in the '09 Star Mazda Series. Conor worked very well with the team, and he worked hard to keep improving his driving and his set-up throughout the day. We were very impressed with his ability to take feedback and immediately apply it."

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Longin and Kumpen victorious in San Luis

Winning Saleen of Longin and Kumpen
Every run of bad luck must come to an end, and for Belgian duo Anthony Kumpen and Bert Longin it happened in Argentina, when their Saleen S7R finally showed what it could do, crossing the finish line just 0.5 seconds ahead of the Phoenix Carsport Corvette of their former teammate Mike Hezemans and 2004 Champion Fabrizio Gollin.  A good day for Belgium was competed by the presence of SRT in third place, their Corvette C6R having been shared by Maxime Soulet and Argentine newcomer Christian Ledesma, who had already finished on the podium in the TC2000 race earlier in the day.

The San Luis circuit is built right into the mountains
“It was a terrible season but to finish the last race in first place is very important for us two, as this is important for next year.  The car and tires worked very well, and for the first time we were really competitive, and neither Anthony nor myself made any mistakes,” Bert Longin commented. 

Hezemans was philosophical about his Championship loss: “With 90 kg in the car it was always going to be difficult. We were in the lead but I made a little mistake coming into the first corner.”  Having started from the back of the grid, SRT’s third place was a fine reward for the Belgian team.  Fourth went to local heroes José Maria Lopez and Esteban Tuero in the ACA Argentina Ferrari 550 Maranello, with the new Champions Bertolini and Bartels fifth.  Fâssler and Risatti were classified sixth and last, in a high attrition rate around this magnificent circuit.

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track news

St. Pete GP tickets on sale Monday
Today was the first ad in the St. Petersburg Times advertising the Honda Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg and the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg... April 3-5..the ad was a colored 1/2 page on the back of the College Extra section. It features pictures of Graham Rahal and Danica Patrick. There is also a picture of the #15 Lowe's Acura ARX. Tickets go on sale December 1st. The web site is www.gpstpete.com .  The phone number is 727 898 INDY.  The title of the ad states: World's Fastest Spring Break Party


Jordan thinks Adam Carroll is the real deal
Adam Carroll
Adam Carroll is the best driver Ireland has produced since Eddie Irvine, according to ex-team boss Eddie Jordan.

Carroll has claimed two victories so far in the current A1GP season, with Ireland top of the overall standings at present.

"Adam has the ability to drive in Formula 1 - he is a rare talent," Jordan insisted to the Irish News of the World.

"On the evidence we have seen to date, you would have to say he is the best driver we have produced since Eddie Irvine.

"But because he is not going to get the money himself to be able to give to a team to start him in F1, he needs to do it with pure, raw talent."

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With lower gasoline prices, ethanol uncompetitive
Ironically the IRL signed a deal with a Brazil ethanol producing, and in the process stabbed the USA ethanol industry in the back.  Now comes word that Brazil's biofuel industry, that just months ago was being flooded with billions in new investments for vast new sugarcane plantations and gleaming distilleries that churn out the cheapest ethanol on earth, is in trouble.

The global financial crisis has put the brakes on that boom, drying up foreign investment and domestic credit, stalling new projects and prompting cash-strapped ethanol producers to indefinitely postpone expansions. In addition, now that gasoline prices have plummeted, who wants or needs more expensive ethanol that produces horrible fuel mileage?

With oil below $50 per barrel, down more than 60 percent since July, biofuels have become less competitive. But U.S.-made corn ethanol is more expensive than Brazil's sugarcane-based fuel: Oil must top $50 a barrel for it to be cheaper than gasoline. In contrast, Brazilian ethanol companies insist, their fuel is competitive as long as oil sells for more than $40 a barrel.  Not when you factor in the lower fuel mileage it isn't.

"I'm still ready to play ball, but the ball disappeared," said former Brazilian Agriculture Minister Robert Rodrigues, whose plans for an ethanol startup were recently put on hold as foreign investors withdrew cash amid fears that a global recession would slow demand for fuel.

One large ethanol maker filed for bankruptcy last week to restructure $100 million in debt it could not pay. Analysts and sugarcane growers predict others will follow, and a leading industry association says 50 percent of new equipment orders have been canceled or postponed.

"We're going to see more bankruptcies," said Eduardo Carvalho, director of the ethanol and sugar unit of conglomerate Odebrecht SA, one of Brazil's biggest companies.


Every Racer's dream - 108,920 hp
The Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C turbocharged two-stroke diesel engine is the most powerful and most efficient prime-mover in the world today.  The Aioi Works of Japan's Diesel United, Ltd built the first engines and is where some of these pictures were taken.

It is available in 6 through 14 cylinder versions, all are inline engines.  These engines were designed primarily for very large container ships.  Ship owners like a single engine/single propeller design and the new generation of larger container ships needed a bigger engine to propel them.

The cylinder bore is just under 38" and the stroke is just over 98".  Each cylinder displaces 111,143 cubic inches (1820 liters) and produces 7780 horsepower.  Total displacement comes out to 1,556,002 cubic inches (25,480 liters) for the fourteen cylinder version.

Some facts on the 14 cylinder version:
Total engine weight: 2300 tons  (The crankshaft alone weighs 300 tons.)
Length: 89 feet
Height: 44 feet
Maximum power: 108,920 hp at 102 rpm 
Maximum torque: 5,608,312 lb/ft at 102rpm 

Fuel consumption at maximum power is 0.278 lbs per hp per hour (Brake Specific Fuel Consumption).  Fuel consumption at maximum economy is 0.260 lbs/hp/hour.  At maximum economy the engine exceeds 50% thermal efficiency.  That is, more than 50% of the energy in the fuel in converted to motion.

For comparison, most automotive and small aircraft engines have BSFC figures in the 0.40-0.60 lbs/hp/hr range and 25-30% thermal efficiency range.

Even at its most efficient power setting, the big 14 consumes 1,660 gallons of heavy fuel oil per hour.


racing news

GM dropping Tiger Woods could be ominous sign for racing
Turns out, Tiger Woods wouldn't really rather have a Buick.  At least not anymore.

When Woods ended his nine-year relationship with General Motors Corp. on Monday -- a mutual decision between a megawatt celebrity who doesn't need the work and a teetering corporation that needs every penny -- it offered yet another snapshot of how badly the American economy has deteriorated.

Woods is the world's most marketable athlete with an estimated $100 million in endorsements a year. If his agreement with one of the world's most active sports sponsors dissolved, some experts wonder if any endorsement or sponsorship deal is really ironclad in these tough times.

"The real story here isn't Tiger," says Marc Ganis, the president of Sportscorp Ltd., a Chicago-based sports consulting firm. "It's the auto industry. ... There are a lot of parties who are going to have some difficulties finding sponsors to substitute for what the auto industry used to provide." Detroit News


Desperate GM looks to sell real estate in England
General Motors Corp. said Friday it would sell and lease back some of its non-manufacturing operations in Europe as part of its efforts to raise cash quickly.

The company's European division has retained real estate agent Jones Lang LaSalle to help identify potential buyers. The company has the potential to raise about $257 million.

"Investigations are under way as to what would be viable," said Denis Chick, spokesman for GM's United Kingdom and Ireland division in an e-mail Friday.

According to Chick, properties in the U.K. that could be sold include its headquarters in Luton, a parts warehouse in Luton and an engineering site in Millbrook.

GM has also delayed multiple projects, including new vehicles and engines, in order to cut costs. Earlier this month the company said it would sell its 3.02 percent stake in Suzuki Motor Corp. for $230 million.

The company is burning through cash more rapidly than it is making money, and may be at its minimum cash levels by the end of the year. GM is banking on swift congressional approval of taxpayer-backed bridge loans. Company executives are currently preparing a viability plan to present to Congress by Tuesday. Detroit News


Young charger impresses at debut Ferrari test
Salvatore Cicatelli, Mirko Bortolotti, Edoardo Piscopo and Andrea Bertolini
(GMM)  The top three finishers in this year's Italian F3 series this week made their formula one test debuts at Ferrari's local Fiorano circuit.

In a joint initiative of the Maranello based team and the Italian governing body ACI-CSAI, Mirko Bortolotti, Edoardo Piscopo and Salvatore Cicatelli all got turns at the wheel of the constructors' championship-winning F2008 on Wednesday.

F3 champion Bortolotti, who is just 18, achieved the extraordinary feat of beating the fully competitive benchmark lap time - just over 59 seconds - set by regular Ferrari test driver Andrea Bertolini.

Mirko Bortolotti prepares to try out Ferrari F1 car
"I was able to get comfortable very quickly," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport, "because this car keeps giving you confidence.

"At the end I captured the record, so it could not have gone better," he added.

Piscopo's best lap was a 1.00.3, while Cicatelli's best was a 1.01.2 after 33 laps.

racing news

Dialma Zinelli wins the Aerodynamicist of 2008 award UPDATE Added photo of Dialma Zinelli below right.

Dialma Zinelli
11/26/08 In a ceremony at the Oxford Town Hall on Thursday night 20th November, Dialma Zinelli was awarded the prestigious World Motorsport Symposium award for Racecar Aerodynamicist of 2008, which has now been renamed the Dino Toso award in honor of the much loved Head of Aerodynamics of Renault F1, and winner of the inaugural award in 2005, who very sadly passed away earlier this year. This moment was heightened by the fact that it was awarded to Zinelli by Nathalie Toso the wife of the late Dino Toso.

Zinelli joined Dallara in after graduating from the Polytechnic of Milan in 1989 with a degree in aeronautical engineering and is now the Head of Aerodynamics in charge of a team of 45 engineers and technicians utilizing 2 on site wind tunnels, a CFD department, Rapid Prototyping and model shop. He has worked on Dallara’s in house projects for Formula One, IndyCar, Gp2. F3, World Series by Renault as well as consultancy programs for clients including Ferrari, Honda, Toyota, Audi, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and KTM.

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tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below.
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
PINKS Marathon 
12:00am-5:00am (R) SPEED
Ten 1/2 hour shows
Hot Rod TV 
7:00am-1:00pm (R) SPEED
Twelve 1/2 hour shows
2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season Review 
10:00am-10:30am (R) ESPN2
2008 Nationwide Season Review 
10:30am-11:00am (R) ESPN2
NHRA Awards Los Angeles 
11:00am-12:00pm (11/17/08) ESPN2
Nationwide Series Awards Orlando 
12:00pm-1:00pm (11/22/08) ESPN2
Ultimate Factories Marathon 
1:00pm-12:00am (R) SPEED
Eleven 1 hour shows
SuperClean Modified R&L Carriers Western Regional Blythe, CA 
3:00pm-4:00pm (11/8/08) VS
All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV programs, see TVRacer.com

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