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Race of Champions
Loeb beats Kristensen to win ROC Loeb beats Kristensen to win ROCAs expected, a World Rally driver has won the Race of Champions. Sebastien Loeb defeated Tom Kristensen two races to zero in the finals to win the overall title. Light rain made the kilometer long purpose built circuit within Stade de France slippery and Loeb was in his element. Story

Preliminary rounds:

Jeff Gordon (USA) beat Christijan Albers (Ned)
Sebastien Bourdais (Fra) beat Dan Wheldon (GBR) by a huge 3 sec.
Nelson Piquet Jr (Bra) beat Mattias Ekstrom (Swe)
Tom Kristensen (Den) beat David Coulthard (GBR)


Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) beat Bernd Schneider (Ger)
Felipe Massa (Bra) beat Jean Alesi (Fra)
Jeff Gordon beat Sebastien Bourdais
Tom Kristensen beat Nelson Piquet Jr
Marcus Gronholm (Fin) beat Stephane Peterhansel (Fra)
Dani Sordo (Spa) beat Francois Duval (Bel)
Colin McRae (GBR) beat Armin Schwarz (Ger)
Sebastien Loeb (Fra) beat Travis Pastrana (USA)

Kovalainen beat Massa (Bra)
Kristensen beat Gordon (USA)
Gronholm beat Sordo
Loeb beat McRae

Kristensen beat Kovalainen
Loeb beat Gronholm


Loeb beat Kristensen 2 races to 0

New Sprint Car League folds New Sprint Car League foldsToo bad Honda didn't pull out along with Toyota and Chevy so the IRL would fold, as it would have been the best thing to ever happen to IndyCar Racing, i.e. a defacto merger.  Instead that war goes on (with Champ Car).

The good news is that there's one less open wheel racing war in motorsports, as the proposed National Sprintcar League (NSL) has collapsed less than three months after it was formed when the Petty family recently pulled out.

Thirteen teams, including 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser as well as Danny Lasoski, Tony Stewart and the Richard Petty Driving Experience were involved.

Promised of sponsors, TV and more never happened and on Friday the NSL officially ceased operations.

Meanwhile, the original series, the World of Outlaws, have gone forward with Dion Hindi, Jac Haudenschild, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.,  Chad Kemenah and others. That leaves the 13 defectors on the outside looking to beg and crawl their way back in.  We suspect the owners of the WoO will tell them to go pound sand.  Perhaps they will join USAC and the wingless Sprint Car world.

Race of Champions
Champ Car makes first appearance in France Champ Car makes first appearance in FranceUPDATE Bourdais took his Champ Car around the Stade de France for some exhibition runs, the first time a Champ Car has run on French soil. All the drivers participating took great interest in Bourdais' Champ Car, especially fellow Frenchman and rally star Sebastien Loeb who wanted to know the most about it (Pictured below). Could a career change be in his future?

Photos courtesy Stade de France® - Macary, Zublena et Regembal, Costantini - Architectes, ADAGP - Paris

12/02/05 Twenty of the world's top drivers will gather at the Stade de France in Paris this weekend for the 18th running of the Race of Champions – Nations Cup which kicks off at 4 p.m., Saturday December 3. The twentieth and final driver to be confirmed is the recently-crowned Junior World Rally Champion, Dani Sordo. The Spaniard is looking forward to the chance to compete head-to-head with past and present World Rally Champions Sébastien Loeb, Marcus Grönholm and Colin McRae. "I am very excited to be competing in the Race of Champions. It must be fantastic to drive in such a prestigious stadium against so many world class drivers. I am also looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the Citroën Xsara WRC," said the 'protégé' of former rally champion Carlos Sainz. "Two years ago, I won the ROC Spanish Rally Masters and I will be out to go much further in the competition this time round."

Drivers have already begun to arrive in Paris, including two-times World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb, the two-times Champ Car Champion Sébastien Bourdais, Jean Alesi, Jeff 'Mr. NASCAR' Gordon, Stéphane 'Monsieur Dakar' Peterhansel, Tom 'Mr. Le Mans' Kristensen, Travis 'Mr. X-Games' Pastrana and the defending Race of Champions winner Heikki Kovalainen. They will join their fellow competitors at the Stade de France early Friday afternoon for the first free practice session at the wheel of Citroën Xsara WRCs, Porsche 911 GT3 Road Challenges, Renault Mégane Trophys and ROC Cars.

As the countdown to the action enters its final phase, Fredrik Johnsson, IMP President (event organizer) is delighted with the way preparations have gone: "The track has been completed and the drivers are beginning to arrive. Our priority today was to see how the two cars that are running for the first time here at the Stade de France – the Porsche and the Mégane – coped with the circuit. Everything went perfectly, including the jump over the bridge, so there won't be any need to add chicanes this year. And that can only make the show even more spectacular with all these world class champions at the wheel!"

Some 52,000 spectators are expected at the Stade de France on Saturday to watch this annual motor sport extravaganza. But it's not just the racing that will keep them warm: during the pause between the Nations Cup and the Race of Champions, British stunt driver Terry Grant will not only show off his unique 'doughnut' technique but he is also planning to attempt a new world record. American star Travis Pastrana (five times X-Games winner) will perform back flips high in the Parisian sky with his motocross bike, while rallying's acrobatic Jean Ragnotti will perform demonstration laps with the Group B Renault 5 Maxi Turbo that won 1985 Tour of Corsica.

At 9.10 p.m., Renault F1 cars will take front stage for an exceptional demonstration run, with Franck Montagny driving the 2005 World Championship-winning Renault R25 and René Arnoux steering Renault's first ever F1 challenger from 1977, the RS01.

Finally, Frenchman Sébastien Bourdais will drive the 750hp Newman/Haas V8 single-seater with which he recently clinched his second consecutive Champ Car World Series title. Although the USA-based championship takes in four continents, this will be the first time a Champ Car challenger has been seen in Europe this year, and the first time ever in France! zzzz

For reference, the confirmed national teams for the 2005 Race of Champions – Nations Cup to date are:
BENELUX: Christijan Albers (NL/F1) + François Duval (B/WRC). BRAZIL: Felipe Massa (F1) + Nelson Piquet Jr. (GP2/A1GP). FINLAND: Marcus Grönholm (WRC) + Heikki Kovalainen (GP2). FRANCE: Jean Alesi (DTM) + Sébastien Loeb (WRC). TEAM PLAYSTATION FRANCE: Sébastien Bourdais (Champ Car) + Stéphane Peterhansel (Rally-raid). GERMANY: Bernd Schneider (DTM) + Armin Schwarz (WRC). GREAT BRITAIN: David Coulthard (F1) + Colin McRae (WRC). SCANDINAVIA: Tom Kristensen (DK/Endurance) + Mattias Ekström (S/DTM). UNITED STATES: Jeff Gordon (NASCAR) + Travis Pastrana (X-GAMES).
Wild card entries (competing in the individual Race of Champions only): Dani Sordo (E/WRC) and Dan Wheldon (GB/IRL)

Race of Champions
Kristensen beats Bourdais to win Nations Cup Kristensen beats Bourdais to win Nations CupThe Swede-Danish pairing of Mattias Ekstrom and Tom Kristensen, driving for Team Scandinavia (pictured right), won the best of five race superfinal over the PlayStation France team three races to none to win the Nations Cup part of the Race of Champions at the Stade de France in Paris.

The win was thanks largely to Tom Kristensen, who won both of his races against Champ Car titleholder Sebastien Bourdais, who was teamed with Stéphane Peterhansel. Bourdais had been extremely impressive in his early rounds, but lost out to Kristensen in their Porsches and Megane races by inches.

The American team of NASCAR star Jeff Gordon and motorbike king Travis Pastrana did well to make it to the semi-final after knocking out Brazil in the first round, thanks to Gordon's double win over GP2 race-winner Nelson Piquet Jr.

However, they lost to Scandinavia when Gordon lost by inches to Kristensen at the flag, and then Pastrana stalled at the green light in his Xsara race with Ekstrom.

Full Story (Photos Stade de France® - Macary, Zublena et Regembal, Costantini - Architectes, ADAGP - Paris)

Industry news
Ford’s secret deal Ford’s secret dealWhile workers at Ford Motor Co.'s Wixom Assembly Plant cling to new hints that their plant will be spared in Ford's next round of cost cuts, the automaker revealed this week that it reached a secret agreement with the State of Georgia to expand a plant instead of closing it.

Ultimately, though, neither plant may be out of danger considering the automaker's dismal sales performance.

Ford, identified in court documents as "XYZ Corp.," has reached a secret 30-page preliminary agreement with Georgia to keep its Atlanta Assembly Plant open and expand it, in return for incentives such as grants, tax breaks and road improvements.

The deal was revealed during a court hearing in Georgia on Monday.

The incentive package, which remains under a court seal, needs to be approved by the state General Assembly.  More at Detroit Free Press 

NASCAR an afterthought to gamblers NASCAR an afterthought to gamblersOn any given Sunday this fall, NASCAR fans entering the sports book at the Wynn Las Vegas had a tough time finding the race on one of the 25 big-screen televisions in the establishment. That's because odds are that -- at best -- there was only one screen tuned in to the action on the track.

NASCAR undoubtedly has made it to the big time in the world of professional sports, in the same popularity conversation with the NFL and Major League Baseball. But in the world of big-time gambling, the stock-car circuit might as well still be stuck in the back-road moonshine days.

It's an afterthought.

"We bring the races in so that a bettor could put it on in their own carrel, but we're not going to displace NFL games for NASCAR," says John Avello, who manages the sports book at the hottest new hotel on the strip.

Sports bookmakers in Las Vegas say NASCAR betting made up less than 1 percent of the $2.4 billion wagered last year. Execs at online gambling sites peg the percentage even lower, as untold billions from the NFL, NBA and horse racing dwarf the betting interest in motor sports.  More at ESPN.com

Race approved down Vegas strip Race approved down Vegas stripWe don't know if you caught this, but the Las Vegas Marathon will be run tomorrow starting at Mandalay Bay (south end of strip near the airport)and going north down the center of the strip!

This is a first. If a thousand runners can do it, why not 18 Champ Cars? Much different of course, but the fact that they closed down the strip for anything is big news in Sin City.  The site of the proposed Champ Car race is further north in Old Las Vegas, what is called downtown, where the original casinos are.  Traffic in that area is much lighter and those casinos are begging for people to come to their part of town.  A race might just help them.

F1 Saturday news roundup F1 Saturday news roundupAlthough he tried again for 2006, Anthony Davidson will almost certainly not line up on the F1 race grid next year.

Added to paddock speculation at the Barcelona test, Honda - in a statement - referred to the long time tester as the team's 'third driver'. Not only that, England's Davidson was instrumental in the debut of the '06 'Concept Car' -- a job unlikely to be done by a driver bound for another team.

The Honda 'Concept Car' features the complete rear-end of the 2006 contender. The Brackley based team announced that the entire racer - to be called 'RA106' - will be rolled out at Barcelona on 25 January.

On Friday at Barcelona, the last day of the first winter test, rain completely spoiled proceedings. Toyota joined others by leaving the Spanish circuit after lunch. ''There was a real danger of aquaplaning,'' said Ralf Schumacher, who had intended a day in the TF106.

But engine technical director Luca Marmorini said: ''We already have a package that we could race.''

Honda, however, persevered with Davidson and Jenson Button, who gave Honda's V10 engine a final fling. Davidson, meanwhile, said he had been 'pleasantly surprised' by the V8's grunt.

Giancarlo Fisichella endured a slippery return to F1, Friday being his first run since Sunday in Shanghai. Renault's Roman persevered on a 40-lap program so as to get a taste of V8-like power. His V10 was running on 8 cylinders.

The F1 test world now moves to Jerez, where - ironically, given the conditions at Barcelona - the testing of wet tires on an artificially-dampened track will be seen at some stage.

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher will be there, alongside 2006 teammate Felipe Massa and test drivers Marc Gene and Luca Badoer. On Friday, Brazilian Massa wrapped up a lone Valencia test run with a long day testing wet tires.

Also on Friday, Renault announced officially that Finland's Heikki Kovalainen would replace Franck Montagny as 'third and test driver' in 2006. Frenchman Montagny will run for the last time at Jerez, whereafter he hopes to land a racing ride in Champ Cars.

F1's ten technical directors, meanwhile, met to vote on the possible introduction in 2007 of FIA's radical 'CDG' duel rear-wing concept. The vote attracted not a single 'yes'.

TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday
'Winning' (1969)
2:45 A.M.-5:00 A.M. ET, TCM
Mid-Ohio  (9/24/05)
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. ET, SPEED:  Formula Mazda
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET, SPEED:  American Sedan
New York City
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET (Replay) NBC
'Roush Racing - Driver X'
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET, Discovery HD Theater
Stade de France
Paris  (12/3/05)
3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. ET (Replay) HDNet
Part 1  (6/24/05 - 6/26/05)
Chichester, England
4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. ET, SPEED
Lausitz, Germany  (10/9/05)
11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. ET (Replay) OLN

For a complete listing of Sunday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com and Race Fan TV.

Wallace receives award Wallace receives awardRusty Wallace, the 1989 NASCAR Cup champion who won 55 career races and the hearts of millions of fans, has been named the recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association’s 2005 Myers Brothers Award. The award was presented during the NMPA’s annual Myers Brothers Awards Breakfast, held at the Waldorf-Astoria. Wallace, 49, started 706 Cup races, amassing 202 top-five and 349 top-10 finishes in addition to his 55 victories. He was the series’ 1984 rookie of the year, as well. Perhaps not since Richard Petty walked away from the sport in 1992 has a driver with such a fan following stepped away from the sport of his own will. And Wallace did it while at the top of his game, his Penske Racing South team qualifying for this year’s Nextel Chase For The Nextel Cup and finishing eighth in the final standings. Wallace will remain involved in the sport, once again fielding a NASCAR Busch Series team in 2006. NMPA
Police kill Earnhardt’s cousin Police kill Earnhardt’s cousinUPDATE Orange County (FL) Deputies tased a man on the West side, who later died. They say he was likely high on drugs and running into traffic early this morning. Barbara Miller with the Sheriff's Office says the first deputy on scene couldn't calm him down, so he tased Jeff Dean Earnhardt. "He tried it a second time and again it had no effect on the subject. Unfortunately when more deputies arrived, they were able to restrain the subject and he was taken to the hospital by ambulance, but he died at around 7:25 this morning." WDBO has now confirmed Jeff is the first cousin of Dale Earnhardt Junior. WDBO 12/02/05 A cousin of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff, who had been arrested 30 times and lived in a trailer park, was out of control today so the police had to hit him with a taser gun to get him under control, however he died from the incident.   He must have been pretty out of control for the police to hit him that many times with the taser to kill him.  A sad day for the Earnhardt family on the night of the NASCAR Awards banquet. Full Story
’The V10 will soon be forgotten’ - Montagny ’The V10 will soon be forgotten’ - MontagnyRenault has spent the week working at Barcelona to adapt to the demands of the 2006 regulations. Test driver Franck Montagny (right) talks of the restricted engine power and how that affects the setup and driving style.

What are your first impressions of the power levels you tested with this week in preparation for the change in engine regulations in 2006?
"Having been used to the power of the V10 and its aggressiveness at certain points in the rev range, the power reduction can seem a little bit disappointing, it’s true. We will lose around 20% of the engine power, but it is mainly the way we use the engine that is different. It seems more consistent, as we have lost some of the excess power that you sometimes felt at high revs with the V10."

Does the reduction in power have consequences for the car’s handling?
"The engine is a central parameter in the chassis set-up. So any change has an impact, and that is what we have been working on this week. This year, with the V10, we were very much focused on the behavior and wear at the rear of the car, because the high engine power meant that the rear tires were working very hard in the high speed corners. Now though, with the restricted engine, we have seen that the rear is now less critical, and that we are concentrating more on the front end of the car to balance the car."
Is it still just as enjoyable to drive the car, even with this level of power?
"I think so, in spite of the reduced power, and we are only at the beginning of our work. At the start of 2005, when the new aero regulations were introduced, the drivers were all generally a bit disappointed because the cars were more sensitive and harder to drive, but as we brought out new developments through the year, we managed to develop a very quick car – and a quick car is always fun to drive."

"The V10 will soon be forgotten, and the new regulations will certainly shuffle the pack a bit in terms of performance. What we need to do now is understand the demands of this new challenge faster, and better, than our rivals." Source Renault

Kubica and Mondini talk of their F1 test Kubica and Mondini talk of their F1 testAs winner of the World Series by Renault, Robert Kubica (pictured right) was in action for Renault on Thursday morning at Circuit de Catalunya, his first run in an F1 car. The Pole completed 41 laps, and set a fastest time of 1:17.997.

In the afternoon Kubica was replaced this afternoon by Giorgio Mondini, winner of the 2004 Formula Renault V6 Eurocup. The Italian completed 40 laps, with a best time of 1:19.093.

Robert, what were your first impressions of the team?
“I listened to the radio conversations, and observed the Renault F1 Team’s working methods. I also managed to watch the cars from trackside and although I had already seen F1 cars in action, I was very impressed with the cornering speeds.”

And what was your initial feeling when you went out on track?
“I began running on the track when it was very cold. However, I needed to attack quite quickly to get the tires and brakes up to temperature. Honestly, I didn’t expect the performance gap compared to the Formula Renault 3.5 car to be so big. After all, along with the GP2 car, it is the fastest racing car in Europe after F1...” zzzz

What was your verdict at the end of the morning?
“I was pleased with the progress I made. That was what the team was really interested in, more than the absolute lap-times: to see how I worked with them, to give them feedback about the car. I tried to improve with every lap, and make no mistakes. From that point of view, it was a successful day.”

Was your work part of the team’s wider testing program?
“Not really. I was running the R25 with the V10 engine restricted to simulate the power levels of the V8 engine for next year. The team applied a set-up that made the car easier to drive and during the runs, we made some detail adjustments. But there was so much to learn that we didn’t get too far in terms of set-up changes.”

How do you see the future?
“When I look back at 2005, I can it was a good year. I will turn 21 in one week, on 7 December, and my aim is to continue my career in Europe. GP2 seems like the best option, because it will get me a little bit closer to the world of F1.”
Giorgio, how did you approach the test?
“To be driving the world championship winning car is an extraordinary opportunity. My first aim was to enjoy the experience, without making any mistakes. It is not easy to understand how a car like this works in the space of a few hours, but it was really enjoyable…”

What impressed you the most?
“When I got into the car, to think to myself that I was in such a prestigious position was a strange feeling. At the wheel, the braking power and the downforce in the quick corners are what really take your breath away.”

How do you evaluate the progress you made?
“I understood something more each time we put on a new set of tires. There are lots of things that don’t come naturally when you drive the car for the first time, like the traction control. You think you are on the limit, but the electronic systems let you go even further. You need to have the confidence to do it… and that only comes with experience.” Source Renault

McLaren skip final day in Barcelona McLaren skip final day in BarcelonaTeam McLaren Mercedes abandoned the last day of testing of its four day testing program at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain today due to the wet weather conditions; neither Juan Pablo Montoya nor Gary Paffett went out on the track.

The team instead focused on preparatory work for next weeks test in Jerez, Spain, which begins on Wednesday 7th December.

During the three days of testing completed this week Juan Pablo Montoya, Gary Paffett, Pedro de la Rosa and Alex Wurz ran the interim MP4-20B, powered by the new Mercedes-Benz 2.4 liter V8 engine, and between them the four drivers completed 351 laps, covering 1623kms. The program for the week saw the team focus on engine and Michelin tire work. McLaren Mercedes

Honda Team satisfied with concept car debut Honda Team satisfied with concept car debutIn his new guise as a Honda Racing F1 Team driver Jenson Button, along with third driver Anthony Davidson, was at the wheel of the new 2006 Concept car this week as the team's winter testing program got underway in Barcelona.

The three-day test at the Circuit de Catalunya was the first of five tests scheduled prior to the track debut of the new RA106 on 25 January.

Until then the team will run its interim Concept car, combining the 2005 race chassis with the newly-designed 2006 rear end components, including the all-new Honda V8 engine.

Running on Wednesday morning of the test was slightly delayed by the very low early morning temperatures. When he was able to go out on track, Davidson took the Concept car through its first shakedown runs completing 40 laps. Button spent most of his track time in the 2005 car completing 102 laps in total.

Further shakedown running continued in the Concept car on Thursday. Davidson completed 47 laps in the morning session before Button took over in the afternoon for his first run in the car. zzzz

Button completed 37 laps and the car performed well throughout the day. Both drivers also ran through aero and suspension programs in the 2005 car with Jenson completing 58 laps and Anthony completing 30 laps.
Continuous heavy rain and cold conditions prevented any running at the track this morning. Davidson went out briefly at the start of the session in the 2005 car for an installation run completing only four laps.

There was little to be achieved from sending Button out in the Concept car which was confined to the garage for the morning. The track eventually became drivable by mid-afternoon and Button went out to work on engine settings in the Concept car. He completed 23 laps giving the chassis its first run in wet conditions. Button ran through a wet tire evaluation completing 48 laps in total.

Jenson Button
"Testing went really well this week. It was a shame that the weather conditions were not great but even so we were able to progress with the program this afternoon and test the V8 engine. The new engine ran smoothly and we had no issues which was great. I also ran in this year's car to evaluate various aero parts and again this went very well. It was a really good test and gave us a lot of information ready for Jerez next week."

Anthony Davidson
"It was good to get into the new Concept car and run it for the first time. The engine felt good although there are of course areas which we can improve over the next few weeks. I was pleasantly surprised with the power and feeling of the engine and its overall reliability. We did a lot of work on drivability and made some positive progress over the three days. It was also fun to get back in this year's car for the last time to see off the V10 era."

Mark Ellis, Chief Test Engineer
"Despite the tough weather conditions this week, we have successfully run the Concept car for the first time which has proven to be extremely reliable in all areas. The new V8 engine and the 2006 electronics, gearbox and hydraulic systems have run continuously without any major issues which is a good start to our 2006 campaign. With the new engine and new regulations, everything is quite different and we have started the process of adapting and optimizing the chassis, engine and tires accordingly. This has also been the final real test for the 2005 chassis which has been used this week for aero testing."

Shuhei Nakamoto, HRD Engineering Director
"It has been a good first test. We've collected all the data we hoped for and vibrations are at a level within the range expected. We've also identified areas to work on, such as drivability, and will focus on this in the coming weeks." Source Honda

NASCAR does NY City - III NASCAR does NY City - IIIAfter a long and eventful week in the nation’s biggest city, “NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion’s Week presented by Sprint” culminated Friday tonight, with two of NASCAR’s traditional year-end celebrations.

Friday morning, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 drivers and their crew chiefs gathered for the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) / Myers Brothers breakfast presented by Sunoco. The annual get-together, held in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’s Starlight Room, was highlighted by several special award presentations. (Photos courtesy of NASCAR)

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet) and sixth-place Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) took home the lion’s share of the post-season prizes, with Stewart and his No. 20 team hauling in over $500,000 in special awards from MBNA, Clevite, WIX Filters, Sunoco, Goodyear Gatorback Belts, Goodyear Tires and Mechanix Wear.

Among Newman’s accolades was his fourth consecutive annual Budweiser Pole Award, worth $100,000. Since debuting in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2000, Newman has won 35 poles in 152 races – sitting on the pole position for nearly 25 percent of his career. He won eight poles in 2005 and set two new track records.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) was awarded the Chex Most Popular Driver Award for the fourth consecutive year.

The Myers Brothers breakfast is named in honor of the Billy and Bobby Myers, pioneers of NASCAR’s early era whose family is still active in motorsports today. The third generation of the family’s racers, Burt and Jason Myers, compete on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and represented the family on Friday morning, along with Karen and Danny “Chocolate” Myers.

Stewart posed for one more formal photo op, on Park Avenue outside the Waldorf=Astoria, before heading in for the season’s final act: the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series awards ceremony. The gala event features musical performances by singers Gavin DeGraw, Toni Braxton and jazz pianist Eric Lewis. Comedian Jay Mohr also returns to the event for the second year.  zzzz

In addition to honoring Tony Stewart and the rest of the top-10 drivers, the ceremony includes presentations for Raybestos Rookie of the Year Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet), NASCAR’s Most Dramatic Moment Award (determined by fans through a vote on NASCAR.com), the annual Marketing Achievement Award and the Manufacturer’s Championship Award, which went to Chevrolet for the 25th time since 1972.

  • 25 years and counting … Participation in Champion’s Week and the awards ceremony is a privilege reserved for the top 10 drivers in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. This year’s event marked NASCAR’s 25th annual visit to New York, a tradition which began with Darrell Waltrip’s 1981 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title. Many of this year’s honorees have played important roles in NASCAR’s history in New York. Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) has attended 17 of NASCAR’s 25 New York banquets while Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford) has attended 14 times.
  • For Tony Stewart, this year’s visit to New York was another chapter in his incredible racing career. He hasn’t finished outside the top 10 in the point standings since coming to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 1999.
  • Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) and Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWALT Tools Ford) have enjoyed similar streaks in their NASCAR NEXTEL Cup careers, as each made their fourth straight appearances in New York since 2002. Kurt Busch (No. 97 IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford) and Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) made their third visits, while Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford) and Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) were in town for the first time.
  • Celebrity sightings … NASCAR’s top drivers and entertainers Jay Mohr, Toni Braxton and Gavin DeGraw weren’t the only celebrities to grace the red carpet at Friday night’s event. Comedian and actor Will Ferrell, who will star in a NASCAR-themed comedy premiering in summer 2006, was also in attendance at the awards banquet.
  • New season not far away … Not long after the awards ceremony is concluded and the teams and drivers have celebrated the holidays with their families, preparations begin for the 2006 season. Daytona International Speedway will host its first NASCAR Preseason test session Jan. 9-11.
Stewart makes $13.5 million in 2005 Stewart makes $13.5 million in 2005NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet) will collect $6,173,633 in point fund awards – a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point fund award record – along with special awards totaling $517,000. The post-season payouts bring his 2005 season total to $13,578,168, the largest single-season total in NASCAR history. Stewart’s take exceeds the previous single-season record, $10,979,757, set by Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) in 2001. Stewart’s career winnings now total $48,467,449, making him the fifth-highest money winner on NASCAR’s all-time list.

Over $25 million in point fund awards will be distributed to the top 25 drivers in the final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings. Runner-up Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford) will receive over $2.62 million in point fund awards, bringing his season total to over $8.35 million. (Photos courtesy NASCAR)

With over $6.7 million in race winnings this season, fifth-place Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) was the season’s next-highest money winner. Johnson will receive $20,000 in post-season special awards and more than $1.7 million from the point fund, for a 2005 season total of over $8.33 million.

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top Five Money Winners (All-time):
1. Jeff Gordon $74,887,079
2. Mark Martin $53,859,827
3. Dale Jarrett $52,253,898
4. Rusty Wallace $49,741,326
5. Tony Stewart $48,467,449

Hoosier tire test at Homestead for Grand-Am Hoosier tire test at Homestead for Grand-AmAn interesting mix of proven competitors and newcomers of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal will provide the first sneak preview of the 2006 season with the two-day Hoosier Tire Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on December 5-6.

Newly-crowned 2005 Daytona Prototype co-champions Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor head a 20-car Daytona Prototype entry for the test in their No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley. Also on the list are Luis Diaz and 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley, as well as past Rolex Series race winner Andy Wallace in the No. 2 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford.

A handful of other previous race-winners will be testing new combinations in Homestead, as 2005 La Gran Final de la Serie Rolex Sports Car winners Michael McDowell and Memo Gidley will be on-hand to test their new No. 19 Ford Crawford for Finlay Motorsports, while David Donohue and Darren Law will test the brand-new Porsche Daytona Prototype engine in Brumos Racing’s No. 58 Fabcar. zzzz

Other Rolex Series veteran teams on the entry list include Brian Tuttle in the No. 7 Tuttle Team Racing/SAMAX Pontiac Riley, Burt and Brian Frisselle in the No. 8 Rx.com/Synergy Racing Doran with new Porsche power, Marc-Antoine Camirand and 2005 Star Mazda champion Raphael Matos in the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Racing Pontiac Crawford, Chris Bingham and Randy Ruhlman in the No. 15 CB Motorsports Pontiac Riley, and Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr. in the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley for Michael Shank Racing.

Relative Rolex Series newcomers Alex Figge and Ryan Dalziel—who made their respective Daytona Prototype debuts in the Mexico City season finale—will also participate in the test in the No. 89 Pacific Coast Motorsports Pontiac Riley.

While preseason testing provides an opportunity to see what changes established teams have made for the coming year, perhaps the most exciting aspect is to catch a glimpse of new teams as they prepare for their first year in the Rolex Series. The Hoosier Tire Test will be no exception, as there will be no shortage of interesting newcomers.

Leading the way in that regard will be Cheever Racing with its new No. 39 Lexus Crawford to be co-driven at the test by team owner and 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever and 2004 Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winner Christian Fittipaldi. Given its past success in Indy Car racing and a pair of intriguing drivers, this team will undoubtedly garner plenty of attention during its two days in South Florida.

Another Daytona Prototype newcomer sure to be popular in Homestead is Alex Job Racing/Emory Motorsport, which will have Porsche factory driver Mike Rockenfeller and Patrick Long behind the wheel of its No. 23 Porsche Crawford. Big things could be in store for this new program as Alex Job Racing has had considerable success in sports car racing with Porsche.

While the team is not new to the Rolex Series, Finlay Motorsports will test a second brand-new Ford Crawford, with team owner Rob Finlay and former Toyota Atlantic standout Michael Valiante slated to share the team’s No. 27 machine. Another intriguing new entry is the No. 12 Group Four/CCP Racing Ford Multimatic to be co-driven by 2005 Cooper Series F2000 champion Jay Howard and Cooper Series standouts Nick Boulle and Enzo Pottolichio. Testing for Truspeed Motorsports, Rob and Charles Morgan will share the No. 47 Pontiac Riley, another new addition to the Rolex Series ranks.

Other Daytona Prototypes entered with drivers yet to be named include the No. 02 Lexus Riley for Chip Ganassi Racing, the No. 9 Hyper Sport Infiniti Doran, the No. 77 Doran Racing Ford Doran and the No. 91 RVO Motorsports Pontiac Fabcar.

In the GT ranks, nine race cars and some equally interesting combinations have been entered for the Hoosier Tire Test. After a strong finish to the 2005 campaign, the two-car TRG Pontiac GTO.R program returns to the track with GT runners-up Marc Bunting and Andy Lally once again sharing the team’s No. 65 machine and Paul Edwards and Jan Magnussen in the team’s No. 64 car.

Miami-based Goldin Brothers Racing will also be in attendance with its No. 08 Mazda RX-8 in the hands of Scott Finlay and Steve and Keith Goldin. Another South Florida-based Mazda RX-8 that will surely gather plenty of looks is the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 in the hands of 2005 Grand-Am Cup Series Sport Touring (ST) champion David Haskell and the winningest driver in Grand-Am Cup Series history, Sylvain Tremblay.

After a solid 2005 season, Tafel Racing will bring an intriguing driver lineup to the Hoosier Tire Test, as team owner and driver Jim Tafel will share the team’s No. 73 Porsche GT3 Cup with Eric Lux, Robin Liddell, and 16-year-old Graham Rahal—the son of three-time Champ Car champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal.

While the team made its first Rolex Series appearance in the Crown Royal 250 at The Glen paddock in September, Canadian All American Racing has entered its No. 34 Pontiac Grand-Am for the Hoosier Tire Test. The car is slated to be driven by Montreal’s Zave Aberman. The No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup, and a pair of TRG Porsche GT3s (No. 68 and No. 69) have also been entered, although those teams have not yet named their drivers.

The Hoosier Tire Test gets underway on Monday, December 5 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and will be open to media as well as the public. Race fans interested in attending may do so free of charge, and may view the proceedings from the Club Grandstands along the front straightaway.

Champ Car reality show comes to DVD Champ Car reality show comes to DVDForsythe Championship Racing is proud to announce that the fastest reality TV show on Earth will be available soon on DVD!   With the final episode of Superstation WGN’s ground-breaking “Race Car Driver” scheduled for broadcast Wednesday, December 7th at 8pm ET across North America, fans can place their orders now for the gift every racing fan wants to receive this Holiday Season – the entire fourteen-episode season packed into a three-DVD box set priced at $39.95 USD plus shipping and handling.

Race Car Driver follows the 2005 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford racing season.  The most competitive motorsport series on the planet, Champ Car traverses the globe to entertain millions of fans with three-day “Festivals of Speed”.  The Race Car Driver film crew was at each event capturing every moment with featured drivers Paul Tracy and Mario Dominguez of the Forsythe team, Sebastien Bourdais and Oriol Servia of the powerful Newman/Haas team, and veterans Jimmy Vasser and Cristiano da Matta of the PKV Racing team.

With exclusive access to everything from race strategy sessions to VIP parties and off-track private lives, Race Car Driver gives racing fans a compelling look behind the scenes at the top level of motorsport.  Follow the growing rivalry between Tracy and Bourdais as the top two challengers for the Vanderbilt Cup get physical at race after race and a war of words builds to a climax you won’t want to miss.

Race Car Driver is now available for pre-order at Speedgear.com, Champ Car’s official merchandising partner, with the first orders shipping soon.  Get yours before the checkered flag waves!

Audi R8 wins Ecology Trophy Audi R8 wins Ecology TrophyTeam ADT Champion Racing, winner of the 2005 24 Hours of Le Mans, was recently awarded the first Automobile Club de France Ecology Trophy by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and the Automobile Club de France.  This award was created to congratulate the Le Mans competitor whose car was deemed to have best preserved the environment based on thermal efficiency and reduced noise level.   

The ACO insisted on the fact that “being the organizer of an international sporting event was not incompatible with the desire to preserve the environment,” said Daniel Poissenot, the Sports Manager.  “As these values and preoccupations are shared with the Automobile Club de France, these two bodies decided to collaborate to create the Automobile Club de France Ecology Trophy.” 

For the first time in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans the Audi R8, the most successful Le Mans Prototype ever, was awarded the prize for being the most environmentally friendly sports car produced.  Deciding factors were, in this case, the fuel consumption during the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in relation to the vehicle’s weight and average speed and also the lowest possible engine noise.  zzzz  

“This award is truly a testament to how great the Audi R8 really is,” commented Dave Maraj, Team Owner, Champion Racing.  “It not only is competitive, fast and reliable, but the engine was built to be fuel efficient as well. 

At the headquarters of the French Automobile Club (ACF), Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich accepted the "Trophée pour l’Ecologie” on behalf of Champion Racing.

Cheever Racing to Compete in 2006 Rolex Series Cheever Racing to Compete in 2006 Rolex SeriesCheever Racing will enter a team in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve, battling for the 2006 Daytona Prototype championship and a Rolex 24 at Daytona victory, announced team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. today. 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Cheever will drive at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, along with 2004 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall winner Christian Fittipaldi and a third driver, to be announced. Continuing a relationship with Toyota, that began with the 2005 IndyCar Series season, Cheever Racing will compete with a Lexus-powered Crawford entry.

“As a team owner the Rolex Series rules package is comforting,” Eddie Cheever Jr. said. “I appreciate the focus on opening the series to a number of manufacturers and emphasizing controlled costs. For three years, I have been talking with Jim France about this series. I am pleased we are finally ready to go.” The Rolex 24 at Daytona will mark Cheever’s return to driving after a three-year hiatus, with the exception of his eighth place run at the Grand Prix Masters event in Kyalami, South Africa in November. Most notably, it’s a return to sports car style racing where Cheever enjoyed success in the late eighties (1986 to 1988) winning 10 races for Jaguar in the World Sportscar Championship.

Brazilian driver Christian Fittipaldi joins Cheever Racing to drive in all 14 races of the 2006 Rolex Series. His victory at the 2004 Rolex 24 at Daytona is a key factor in the team’s decision to hire him, along with his successful and diverse career which includes Formula One, Champ Car and NASCAR experience.

“I am looking forward to running the full Rolex Series season this time around,” Christian Fittipaldi said. “With Cheever Racing, Lexus and Crawford I am confident we will be a serious contender at Daytona and for the Championship.”  zzzz

“As an American racing company we are very aware of three major U. S. motorsports events that happen every year: The Indianapolis 500, Rolex 24 at Daytona and Daytona 500. Participation in two out of three of these events is not bad. It is a challenge everyone in our company is embracing. We are going to Daytona with the goal to bring home a trophy to sit next to the one we have from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

Before heading to Daytona, Cheever Racing will participate in the two-day Hoosier Tire test at Homestead-Miami Speedway December 5-6. Based in Indianapolis, Cheever Racing opened its doors in 1997 to race in the IRL IndyCar Series. The team went on to win the 1998 Indianapolis 500. A leader in American motorsports, the team is built on owner Eddie Cheever Jr.’s 30-plus years of experience in Formula One, sports cars and open-wheel racing.

Track News
SCCA's loss is MMP's gain SCCA's loss is MMP's gain[Editor's Note: With Steve Johnson leaving SCCA to go to Champ Car and now this, SCCA must be reeling.] Miller Motorsports Park , the new road racing facility under construction outside Salt Lake City , announced recently that Mitch Wright, former Vice President SCCA Pro Racing, will join the Miller management team as Director of Racing.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have Mitch join our executive management team,” said Alan Wilson , CEO and General Manager of Miller Motorsports Park, who also serves on the SCCA Pro Racing Board of Directors. “Mitch is one of the most accomplished and respected professionals in all of American motor racing, and he will use his immense experience and expertise to help Miller grow into the best possible race facility.” zzzz

Wright is a championship winning race driver, a highly-respected race car builder and developer, and the architect of the SCCA World Challenge racing series’ rise to prominence.  He will play a major role in Miller’s development of regional and club level car racing.  Wright will also oversee the operation of Miller’s major event schedule, which in 2006 will include AMA Superbikes Thunder Run, the ALMS/SCCA World Challenge Utah Grand Prix, the Historic Sportscar Racing Heroes of Speed, and the Grand Am SunChaser 9-Hour.

Wright will take a lead role in the direction of all racing and competitive activities; including karting, motorcycle racing, solo and autocross competition, race schools, track drive activities and safety management.

An accomplished and active karter, Wright will be a welcome addition to the Utah motor sports scene and an important factor in its development onto the national motor sports stage. Wright will assume his position in Salt Lake City on January 2, 2006

Industry News
Action's buyout of firm approved Action's buyout of firm approvedShareholders of Action Performance Cos. have approved the company's acquisition by Motorsports Authentics, a joint venture between Speedway Motorsports Inc. and International Speedway Corp. The transaction is slated to close Dec. 9. Charlotte Business Journal
Hamilton tops final GP2 test of 2005 Hamilton tops final GP2 test of 2005Briton Lewis Hamilton was the fastest man of the final day of GP2 Series testing this season at a rain-shortened day at the Paul Ricard circuit.

1) Lewis Hamilton, ART Grand Prix, 1:28.173
2) Nelson Piquet Jr., Piquet Sports, 1:28.489
3) Olivier Pla, DPR, 1:28.834
4) Lucas Di Grassi, Super Nova International, 1:29.294
5) Ernesto Viso, iSport International , 1:29.322
6) Andreas Zuber, BCN Competicion, 1:29.541
7) Luca Filippi, Coloni Motorsport, 1:30.384
8) Danilo Dirani, Campos Racing, 1:30.408
9) Alexandre Negrao, Piquet Sports, 1:30.475
10) Ferdinando Monfardini, DAMS, 1:30.597
11) Mike Conway, DPR , 1:30.777
12) Jose Maria Lopez, Racing Engineering , 1:30.785
13) Adrian Sutil, Super Nova International, 1:30.936
14) Bruce Jouanny, Coloni Motorsport, 1:31.520
15) Hayanari Shimoda, ART Grand Prix, 1:31.880
16) Matthew Halliday, DAMS, 1:31.951
17) Javier Villa, Racing Engineering, 1:32.074
18) Alvaro Barba, Campos Racing, 1:32.279
19) Tristan Gommendy, iSport International, 1:32.948
20) Franck Perera, Arden International, 1:33.349
21) Jason Tahinci, Durango, 1:33.511
22) Davide Valsecchi, Durango, 1:33.875
23) Christian Montanari, BCN Competicion, 1:34.128
24) Nicolas Lapierre, Arden International, 1:36.239

Three-straight for Dale Jr. Three-straight for Dale Jr.Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won his third straight Chex NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award. The announcement was made today during the National Motorsports Press Association's (NMPA) Myers Brothers Awards Breakfast at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City that a record number of fans nationwide have again voted the North Carolinian as the most popular driver in the most popular form of motorsports in the United States. "It's a huge honor to win the Most Popular Driver award just one time, but to win it three times in a row is pretty overwhelming. I just want to thank the fans, and I want to thank Chex and the National Motorsports Press Association for the award," Earnhardt said.

"This one probably means more to me than the others because of the kind of year we had. It's one thing to have fan support when you're riding high and winning races. It's another thing to have it during the rough times," he continued. "No matter what we went through this year, I never once felt like my fans were turning on me and the Budweiser team. It's amazing to have that kind of support. It makes the team want to work that much harder and me drive that much faster. I can't thank the fans enough for what they've meant to me in my career."

A record 4,157,443 votes were cast in 2005, a huge jump for an award which never had more than 400,000 votes in a year prior to General Mills sponsorship. Chex began sponsorship of the award this season, replacing Grands! Biscuits, which had sponsored it since the beginning of the 2002 season. Earnhardt, Jr. has led the voting since the start of the 2003 season, and easily captured enough votes in the record-setting 2005 year to again win the award. He finished with 1,403,544 votes, which is also an all-time record.  zzzz

"The fans have pretty well made a statement in regards to their favorite driver in this era," said Kenny Bruce, president of the NMPA. "They have also made a statement as to the importance of this award. We appreciate every fan who voted, and we really appreciate Chex for its sponsorship."
"On behalf of Chex and General Mills, I want to congratulate Dale Earnhardt Jr. on winning this award for the third straight year," said Chex Marketing Manager Trevor Bynum. "We also want to thank the millions of fans who voted and made this award possible with their continued strong support."

Jeff Gordon finished second in the voting at www.mostpopulardriver.com with 594,434 votes. Kasey Kahne was third with 343,154; 2005 Champion Tony Stewart fourth with 246,026; and retiring Rusty Wallace fifth with 214,026. Rounding out the top 10 were Kevin Harvick, Michael Waltrip, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett and Jimmie Johnson.

The NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award dates back to 1956, making it one of the oldest and most traditional awards in NASCAR racing. It began as a simple poll of the drivers and later grew to incorporate all NASCAR Nextel Cup competitors. Later, it included all NASCAR members. Today, it is a prestigious award voted on by racing fans throughout the world. Through the years, voters' choices have ranged from the obvious to the surprising. Bill Elliott's 16 most popular wins tops all drivers. He is followed by Richard Petty, who has won nine times. Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s win last year made him the fifth driver in NASCAR history to win the award in consecutive seasons, while his win in 2003 made him and his father, the late Dale Earnhardt, the only father-son combination to have won. Other past winners have included such notables as Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip. Williams Company PR

Three Grand-Am teams announce 2006 plans Three Grand-Am teams announce 2006 plansWith preparations for the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve season officially getting underway with the Hoosier Tire Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway next Monday and Tuesday, December 6-7, and the green flag dropping for both the Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup Series just seven weeks from now at Daytona International Speedway, three teams used the Performance Racing Industry trade show at the Orange County Convention Center on December 1 to reveal their plans for the upcoming campaign.


The defending Daytona Prototype champion No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley announced a two-year extension with SunTrust Bank as its title sponsor, with potential agreements beyond 2008.  Winning five races in 2005—including the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona—co-drivers Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli will again pilot the machine in 2006.

“The car, the team and the drivers have exceeded all of our expectations,” said Tom Kuntz, Chief Executive Officer of SunTrust Bank, Florida.  “We believe that these drivers give us the best chance at winning races and championships, and the entire team represents the bank with the utmost class and professionalism.  We look forward to continuing this relationship.”

“SunTrust has truly made all of our dreams come true,” said Taylor, who is also the car’s owner.  “When I got back into racing, I always told myself that I wanted to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona and a championship in this series.  SunTrust made that possible this year, both in the same season.”  zzzz


While the team announced that it was switching to Porsche power for its No. 8 Rx.com/Synergy Racing Doran in October, the team confirmed on Thursday that Burt and Brian Frisselle will once again co-drive the car for the 2006 Rolex Series season.

“I’ve been extremely pleased with both Burt and Brian since the day we met,” said Cole Scrogham, co-owner of Synergy Racing.  “From their demeanor in the paddock to their racing potential, having these two young men in the car is great for us.”

“Everyone at Synergy Racing and Rx.com has been great to work with this year,” said Burt.  “We’re excited to return next season and race the new Porsche-powered machine.”

The duo combined for three top-10 finishes in 2005, with a best result of seventh in the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in August.  Burt led a total of 27 laps—nine at Homestead-Miami Speedway and 18 at California Speedway—while Brian led three laps in the CompUSA 200 at The Glen.


Following the announcement of a brand-new Pontiac GTO for competition in the Grand-Am Cup Series in 2006, Spirit of Daytona Racing officially unveiled the car Thursday at the Crane Cams booth at the PRI trade show.  Crane Cams will be the official sponsor of the car.

“Spirit of Daytona and Crane Cams is a perfect marriage,” said Troy Flis, President of Spirit of Daytona Racing.  “We are very fortunate to use their name on our car, and they’ve given us an ideal opportunity to develop a team in the Grand-Am Cup Series.  We look forward to using this opportunity to provide drivers with world-class sports car experience, with the hope of competing in the Rolex Series in the future.”

“With this partnership, we can provide the team with research and development for the program and Troy will be able to put our products to the test,” said Roger Wilson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Crane Cams. “We are looking forward to supporting and competing with the GTO in all of 2006 and are expecting a successful season.”

The car, which will be on display throughout the three-day event, will begin testing on Wednesday, December 8.

In addition to the Spirit of Daytona Pontiac GTO, several other Grand American Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup Series cars are on display this weekend at the PRI trade show.  In the Grand American Road Racing Association booth, the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Fabcar and the No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R show cars are on display.

The No. 20 CITGO-Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford show car is on display in the CITGO booth, the No. 4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford is located in the MoTeC booth and the No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup is on display in the CDOC booth.

Additionally, Blackforest Motorsports is displaying one of its Ford Mustangs in the Jongbloed Racing Wheels display, and the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 is located in the Sparco display.

Renault confirm Kovalainen Renault confirm KovalainenRenault has confirmed that it is to have Heikki Kovalainen as its third driver in 2006.  As expected he will replace France's Franck Montagny, who stop testing at the end of the year. Montagny's future is less than certain at the moment and he may end up in Champ Car next year, if there is a drive available.
Williams cancels auction Williams cancels auctionWilliams has cancelled its planned auction of cars and memorabilia on December 13/14 after an un-named private investor bought the lot for a "substantial sum" of money.  The collection, which included one of the FW14Bs that helped Nigel Mansell win the 1992 Formula 1 world championship, formed part of Williams' reserve collection from its museum at its headquarters in Grove.

“I would like to thank Bonhams for securing this sale," said team owner Frank Williams.  "I am delighted with this outcome against the background of interest in other recent Formula One auctions.

"As much as securing an important sale, I am also thrilled that there is plenty of interest in Williams which has enabled us to sell every last item in the catalogue."

Bourdais stays busy Bourdais stays busy
Sebastien Bourdais, a native of LeMans, returned home to France on Wednesday to participate in his third European Race of Champions, to be held on December 3.  His first appearance was in the Canary Islands in early 2002 after becoming the 2001 F3000 champion.  This will be his second consecutive year of participation in the event which moved to the Stade du France in Paris, France beginning in 2004 and follows his back-to-back Champ Car titles in 2004 and 2005.  Many of his French fans will have their first opportunity to see his No. 1 McDonald's Ford-Lola-Bridgestone race car in person as the drivers will pilot their championship-winning machines into the stadium during the opening ceremonies. HDNet will televise the event. 
Bourdais will return to the U.S. for a mere 24 hours to attend Newman/Haas Racing's holiday party on December 10 near the team's base of Lincolnshire, Ill. before returning to France the following day and will remain there until mid-January. NHR
Rain wipes out final day for Toyota Rain wipes out final day for ToyotaThe final day of Panasonic Toyota Racing's four-day test at the Circuit de Catalunya dawned wet and the elements continued to disrupt the team's program. With no sign of an improvement the team abandoned the test after lunch and will now concentrate on next week's program at Jerez.

Ralf Schumacher - Chassis TF106/02
Friday best lap time: Installation laps only
Friday total laps: no laps
Friday total distance: 0

"It was simply too wet to do anything meaningful today. Sometimes the conditions allow you to test wet tires but there was too much surface water today. There was a real danger of aquaplaning and so we had to do the sensible thing and end the program early."

"I was hoping to have two full days with the new car and the Bridgestone tires but the weather meant that it wasn't possible. Even so, I was able to get a positive impression from driving the car on Thursday. It is good to be out early with the package we will develop for the first race in Bahrain and I am impressed with both the team's organization and the potential of the TF106. We have an intensive winter schedule and we will learn more at Jerez next week."

Ricardo Zonta - Chassis TF106/01
Friday best lap time: Installation laps only
Friday total laps: no laps
Friday total distance: 0

"There is not much to say today, I'm afraid! We did some electrical checks and then another exploratory lap to see if the conditions were improving enough to allow us to test anything better, but it wasn't possible. We would have liked to do wet tire testing but there was so much rain today that it was impossible to run at full throttle, even on the straight."

"You can't rely on the weather at this time of year but we learned enough from the first three days to go away feeling very positive. We not only managed to confirm some of our simulation work on the Bridgestone tires but also to try some different compounds."

With the final day's testing at Barcelona washed out, some might wonder why F1 teams - particularly Panasonic Toyota Racing, in its first test on Bridgestone tires - stay in the pits when it rains, and then artificially dampen race tracks, as will happen at Jerez next week. But, as Chief Race Engineer Dieter Gass pointed out, not all water is the same...

"There was simply too much rain today and when you can't even use full throttle in a straight line, you are taking risks and could easily have an accident. The reason that we artificially wet tracks is so that we can conduct tests in controlled conditions that are the same on every run. When you have natural rain you never get consistent conditions, which makes it very difficult to do a tire comparison. At a race you have to cope with the conditions that confront you, but at a test you want consistency.

"Overall this was a very good test. We did some work with the Bridgestone tires but we still have to get used to them and there is a big program to work through. There were a lot of other positives. We had no major issues with the new car, which was very important, and the performance looked promising."

As well as assessing the new TF106, with its latest specification front suspension and new rear end, key aspects of this week's Barcelona test for Panasonic Toyota Racing have been the first running on Bridgestone tires and evaluating the latest specification of the 2.4-litre RVX-06 V8 engine.

Head of Research and Development, Pascal Vasselon, outlined some of the main considerations behind the team's first run on Bridgestone's Potenza tires:

"We had to make sure that in terms of weight distribution and downforce, we stay balanced. One of the key things is to be able to anticipate the ride height, taking into account the inevitable differences in stiffness and deflection. We can anticipate that and model it, so that when we put the tires on the car they see working conditions that are acceptable. That is what we found but it is a little early to make assessments because so far we have only seen the Bridgestone tires in very specific, cold conditions."

Technical Director Engine, Luca Marmorini added:
"We learned a lot and confirmed some of the things we tested at the factory but the weather on the last day prevented us from doing more mileage, which was a shame. The next test is just a few days away but this is an important time because we have just three weeks before the Christmas break. This is when we have to define the engine parts with long manufacturing times that we will take to the first race in Bahrain. At the January and February tests it will be too late to react in time for Bahrain, and so that is the reason you don't want to lose any test days at this time.

"We are still analyzing the issue Ralf had with the engine on Thursday but it's not serious because the engine had already done 900kms. In terms of performance and durability we have had a very positive response by all three drivers. We already have a package that we could race. We are still working on more engine improvements and whatever we can apply without taking too many risks, we will do so."
Super Aguri now aiming for 2007 Super Aguri now aiming for 2007UPDATE #2 Some are now speculating that this team will not make it to the grid until 2007 which will give them time to design their own car and to use the next 15 months to test and be ready. 12/02/05 'Super Aguri' has not given up its quest to make the 2006 F1 grid. Although the team led by Japan's Aguri Suzuki was left off the official 2006 entry list, the latest reports make no mention of the Honda-backed squad's supposed failure to lodge a $48 million bond with the ruling FIA.

Rather, news agency 'Reuters' said the team that has set itself up at Arrows' old Leafield HQ 'failed to complete the required paperwork'.

Ex-GP driver Suzuki said in a statement: ''Based on talks with the FIA we have decided to begin the registration process again.''

His business partner, Fumito Akita, added that he had spoken on the phone to Max Mosley, the president of the FIA.  ''(But he said) the other teams have to say okay. 'That could be a little difficult.''

Akita explained that agreement was unlikely because a twenty-two car grid means less TV income per team.

12/02/05 Only three spots remain unconfirmed in the driver selections: two at Toro Rosso and one at Red Bull Racing. It seems very likely that Christian Klien will remain at Red Bull while Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed should drive for Toro Rosso.

2006 Formula One Championship entry list
1. Fernando Alonso (E) - Renault F1 Team
2. Giancarlo Fisichella (I) - Renault F1 Team
3. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) - McLaren Mercedes
4. Juan Pablo Montoya (CO) - McLaren Mercedes
5. Michael Schumacher (D) - Scuderia Ferrari
6. Felipe Massa (BR) - Scuderia Ferrari
7. Ralf Schumacher (D) - Panasonic Toyota Racing
8. Jarno Trulli (I) - Panasonic Toyota Racing
9. Mark Webber (AUS) - WilliamsF1 Team
10. Nico Rosberg (D) - WilliamsF1 Team
11. Rubens Barrichello (BR) - Honda Racing F1 Team
12. Jenson Button (GB) - Honda Racing F1 Team
14. David Coulthard (GB) - Red Bull Racing
15. TBA - Red Bull Racing
16. Nick Heidfeld (D) - BMW Sauber F1 Team
17. Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) - BMW Sauber F1 Team
18. Tiago Monteiro (P) - MF1 Racing
19. Christijan Albers (NL) - MF1 Racing
20. TBA - Scuderia Toro Rosso
21. TBA - Scuderia Toro Rosso

Legge wins Gorsline Scholarship Legge wins Gorsline ScholarshipBritish rising racing star Katherine Legge hopes to continue to build on the skills she displayed this season while competing in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama and improve as a driver after being named this year’s recipient of the prestigious Gorsline Scholarship award.

For the 13th consecutive year the Gorsline Company is providing the Scholarship to help develop and enhance the skills of a talented, young racing star both on and off the track. Awarded annually to an aspiring driver “who consistently displays exceptional talent and a professional respect for motorsport,” the Gorsline Scholarship is designed to help its recipients refine their skills as they continue to grow their racing careers. The Gorsline Company is a longtime provider of insurance and financial services for corporate and professional clients, including many in the motorsports industry.

While becoming the first woman to ever win a major open-wheel event in North America by claiming three Atlantic victories and a third-place championship finish in 2005, Legge displayed both the talent and professionalism that embody the Gorsline Scholarship. In being selected as this year’s winner she joins an impressive list of Gorsline Scholarship awardees, including many with ties to the Champ Car Atlantic Championship. Previous Scholarship winners and Atlantic graduates include: Bryan Herta, Anthony Lazzaro, Buddy Rice, David Besnard, Bryan Sellers, Rocky Moran Jr. and Danica Patrick.

Legge will be presented with the Scholarship at this weekend’s Autosport Magazine Awards celebration in London, England. Racing legend Sir Stirling Moss will make the presentation of the award to Legge, the 25-year-old native of Great Britain.  zzzz

Legge will also be recognized for the Scholarship during the annual American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) banquet and 50th anniversary celebration of the organization this Saturday in Indianapolis. Pam Griffith, co-owner of Legge’s Atlantic team, Polestar Racing Group, will accept the award on Legge’s behalf at the AARWBA festivities. Charles Zwolsman, the 2005 Atlantic series champion, and Legge will also be honored at the banquet for being named to this season’s All-American Auto Racing Team.

“Katherine had an outstanding season in 2005 on many, many levels, not just in her driving skills,” said John Gorsline, President of the Gorsline Company. “She did a tremendous job competing and representing the best development series in the world today in the Atlantic championship.”

For earning the ’06 Scholarship, Legge will participate in two unique development programs designed to further her skills as a racer. She will undergo training and counseling in both the Speed Secrets and Lyn St. James driver development initiatives, which feature both mental and physical workshops and coaching and mentoring specifically tailored for Legge’s career enhancement. Champ Car Atlantic

Honda team confirms first test date for new car Honda team confirms first test date for new carThe Honda Racing F1 Team will run the RA106 - its new challenger for the 2006 season - on 25 January during the first day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.  The team will announce further details in the New Year.
Rain in Spain cuts short testing Rain in Spain cuts short testingMcLaren and Toyota left Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya track on Friday morning after rain spoiled the final test day in Spain.

It was to be the last of the five day test session, which was the first major group test of the winter period.

Renault and Honda, however, waited out the morning in the hope that the drizzle would abate, with only test driver Anthony Davidson (Honda) hazarding a few laps.

Badoer in Bologna Badoer in BolognaLuca Badoer will show off Ferrari's United States grand prix-winning 'F2005' F1 racer at the Bologna Motor Show in Italy this Sunday.

The Maranello based team's Italian test driver is to appear in the 'Arena circuit' in the afternoon, to do 'a series of demonstration laps, including tire-changing stops', a press release said.

F1 rival Williams, meanwhile, announced on Friday that a planned auction of F1 'cars and related collectibles' has been called off because an anonymous buyer snapped up the lot.

The collection of over twenty Williams cars, including Nigel Mansell cars from 1985 and 1992, Damon Hill's title winning FW18 model, and more recent contenders driven by Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, was sold 'for a substantial undisclosed sum,' the Oxfordshire team said.

''As much as securing an important sale, I am also thrilled that there is plenty of interest in Williams,'' said team principal Sir Frank Williams.

Swift Engineering on Target to Meet Deadline for New Atlantic Cars Swift Engineering on Target to Meet Deadline for New Atlantic CarsSan Clemente, Calif. - Swift Engineering has set itself an ambitious goal of delivering 40 Atlantic race cars in time for testing and ultimately, racing competition at the 2006 Long Beach Grand Prix. Cars will be ready for delivery to race teams on March 8.

Swift earned the contract to build the brand-new chassis, which the engineering and design firm created from a clean sheet of paper. The car, Swift 016.a (‘a’ for Atlantic) is the “15th race car Swift has designed,” according to Kristen Helsel, Director of Sales, Marketing and Corporate Communications for the company.

“The achievement of delivering 40 open wheel race cars at one time, under extremely tight time constraints, and at a price point that has seen a significant reduction from previous models, is extraordinary, especially when we’re dealing with more than 20 different customers,” Helsel stated.

This new-generation Atlantic car will help Champ Car chart its future direction of this important development series, and the car’s importance, to all participants, and to Swift, is clearly evident. Swift first entered Atlantic competition in 1986, and the manufacturer has produced more race-winning cars (170) than any other chassis designer in the 32-year history of Atlantics. Since 1998, Swift has served as the exclusive car designer. The Swift 016.a will make its competitive debut at Long Beach, April 7-9, 2006. zzzz

“It’s important to stress that the new car, 016.a, is designed and built in the U.S.,” Helsel added. “I truly believe the success of this car will bring further attention to Swift’s capabilities in terms of both vehicle design and manufacture.”

Because of the strong ties Swift has with the Atlantic series, Helsel noted that the company was committed to investing time and effort into the car and the series. “We wanted to bring the price point down, in order to make the car more affordable, and hopefully, help attract new entrants to the series,” she said, adding that the all-composite car will only cost owners $79,500 each, a decrease of $28,500 from the previous model.

“In spite of the lower price, the design and construction of 016.a is, like everything we do at Swift, achieved through exacting standards,” Helsel declared. “We have the capability of building the same components repeatedly, with exact tolerances each time. Our quality control is very demanding, and we are strong proponents of elaborate documentation, using process books and tracking to identify parts and assembly for post-production scrutiny and during vehicle testing.

“The cost reduction is due in part to Swift’s ‘Lean Manufacturing’ process — part of what we are calling ‘Swift Thinking,’” Helsel explained. “In order to finish these cars in time for testing and delivery, which gives us just 98 days from today, we have to apply a fair amount of ‘Swift Thinking.’ But, with the dedicated engineers, designers and builders we have on site, we are absolutely confident we’ll meet these tight deadlines.

“The Swift 016.a is important to all of us, as it returns Swift to the forefront of motorsports design,” Helsel said. “Today, Swift offers much more in terms of our capabilities, with 100 employees working on many different assignments — from prototyping to industrial and mechanical design, to working with the U.S. government and the aerospace industry, Swift Engineering is expanding its horizons.

“But it’s also important to remain close to our roots, and that’s racing. Being a part of the Atlantic series is a part of what Swift is.” Swift Engineering 

Red Bull to launch before Christmas Red Bull to launch before ChristmasFollowing Toyota's lead in getting their 2006 car out early, Red Bull Racing are all set to reveal their RB2 at Silverstone on 16th December. An early launch will maximize development time on the car before the season opener in Bahrain. Although the "official" Launch party of the 2006 Red Bull Racing car will be held in the week leading up to the first race of the 2006 season in Bahrain, the RB2 is all set to break free its Milton Keynes birthplace on December the 16th.

This pre-Christmas date will see the car at the Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire. The car will be put through a series of shakedown tests to check the core elements of the car work in harmony before the serious work of fine tuning and setting up the car start in the new year. Such an early start to the season will maximize the development work that can be done prior to the start of the 2006 season in March.

The RB2 will be the first true Red Bull designed car. The RB1 was a legacy of the Jaguar design department. The RB2 has been designed by ex-Renault man Mark Smith. It will further benefit from the scrutinous eyes of Adrian Newey when he joins Red Bull from McLaren at the end of February.

IRL won't change chassis because of Panoz IRL won't change chassis because of PanozIRL president Brian Barnhart said no unification talks are in the works with Champ Car officials. And the fact Panoz will be making cars for both series in 2007 is purely coincidental. "We're not going to change our chassis," he said. "If anything, it will be a continuation of our chassis."   Toyota's early departure from the IRL is being negotiated by lawyers, which keeps Barnhart from commenting on it. But he said it will be easier to get 33 cars for the Indianapolis 500 if there is one manufacturer leasing engines at a lower cost. IndyStar [Editor's Note:  It will be easier to get 33 cars because the IRL stands to make a big windfall from Toyota as a settlement for leaving the series one-year early.  Hence there will be a full grid of 33 cars in 2006.]
Renault set launch date Renault set launch dateRenault will launch its 2006 car on the last day of next month, the world champion constructor said Friday.

The R26 is to be formally unveiled in Monaco on 31 January, it was announced in a statement, even though the team will have already debuted it at Jerez on 10 January.

Cologne-based Toyota also confirmed on Friday that the TF106 - the first and only complete 2006 car to be already clocking up test miles - would be launched on 14 January at a manufacturing facility in France.

Industry news
Best Ever November Sales for Toyota USA Best Ever November Sales for Toyota USAToyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., today reported best-ever November sales of 169,665 vehicles, an increase of 5.6 percent over last November. Calendar-year-to-date (CYTD) sales total 2,057,017, up 10.3 percent over the same period last year.

"As the market rebounds and consumer confidence goes up, buyers are returning to showrooms," said Jim Press, TMS president and COO. "The holiday buying season is off to an encouraging start and I believe we'll see improvement right through the end of the year."

The Toyota Division posted best-ever November sales of 144,016, up 5.2 percent. The Lexus Division reported best-ever November sales of 25,649 units, an increase of 7.7 percent over the same period last year.

Toyota Division passenger cars recorded best-ever November sales of 81,315, up 6.3 percent over the same period last year. The Avalon full-size sedan recorded November sales of 8,225, up 248 percent. The Prius gas-electric hybrid mid-size sedan enjoyed best-ever November sales of 7,889, an increase of 29.1 percent. zzzz

Toyota Division light trucks reported best-ever November sales of 62,701 units for the month, an increase of 3.8 percent over last November. Light truck sales were led by Tundra, which posted best-ever November sales of 10,892 units, an increase of 20.3 percent over the same period last year. Tacoma reported sales of 13,878 units, up 19.4 percent. The Highlander Hybrid gas-electric mid-size SUV, which launched in early June, reported sales of 2,353 units in November. The Highlander and Highlander Hybrid posted combined November sales of 9,676 units.

Scion reported best-ever November sales of 11,763 units. All three Scion models reported best-ever November sales, with the tC sports coupe leading the way with sales of 5,542 units, an increase of 50.5 percent over last November. The xB posted November sales of 4,244 units, an increase of 9.1 percent, while the xA recorded November sales of 1,977 units for the month, up 1.0 percent.

Lexus passenger cars posted best-ever November sales with 14,001 units, an increase of 31.6 percent. Sales momentum remained strong with best-ever November sales of the GS 300 and GS 430 models, which posted combined sales of 2,619 units. The GS 300 recorded best-ever November sales of 2,223 units and an increase of 424.3 percent, while the GS 430 posted sales of 396 units, an increase of 317.8 percent. The IS luxury sport sedans, which debuted in October, enjoyed a best-ever overall sales month of 4,447 units, an increase of 633.5 percent over the same period last year. The IS 250 reported sales of 2,899 units, while the IS 300 and IS 350 enjoyed combined sales of 1,548 units.

Lexus Division light truck November sales totaled 11,648 units for the month. The 2006 RX 400h luxury hybrid SUV reported November sales of 1,722 units. The RX 330 and RX 400h posted combined November sales of 8,060 units.

Sales of North American-built vehicles accounted for 61.6 percent of total November sales. There were 25 selling days this sales month compared to 24 last November.

New NASCAR History Book/DVD coming New NASCAR History Book/DVD comingRichard Petty's record setting 200th career win. Dale Earnhardt's triumphant Daytona 500 victory. Carl Edwards' back-to-back NASCAR Busch and NEXTEL Cup victories. These are just a few of the one-hundred landmark moments chronicled in the upcoming book and DVD collection titled Speed Guts & Glory by New York Times bestselling author Joe Garner. The Fall 2006 release, published by Warner Books, also includes an interactive DVD containing the actual race footage of the historical NASCAR moments hosted by four-time NASCAR Cup champion and driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet Jeff Gordon. From broadcast news to famous films, sports to comedy, Joe Garner, whose seminal multimedia works We Interrupt This Broadcast, And The Crowd Goes Wild, and Stay Tuned have sold nearly two million copies, has sought to capture and chronicle the times we live in. In addition, he explores our collective past with passion and commitment few contemporary authors can match. More at garnermedia.com
Busch eager to win back peers, fans Busch eager to win back peers, fans2004 Nextel Cup Champions Kurt Busch was a full participant in Thursday's season-ending activities, dismissing all speculation that he would be excluded from NASCAR's festivities following the controversial close to his championship reign. He was suspended by his former team for the final two races of the year after a run-in with Phoenix police. Although he was only charged with reckless driving -- reports that he was drunk were proven false when police said his blood alcohol limit was well below the legal limit -- Busch was lambasted for his belligerent attitude toward the officers. It cost him his reputation and much of the respect he had been working hard to earn across the garage. Clearly contrite, Busch says he's eager to move on.

"Everybody has a circumstance that comes up in life where you want to press the reset button and this is one of those," he said. "What has to happen is the real me has to come out. The fans have to get to know the real Kurt Busch better. I think you will see a difference, it's just going to take time, like everything does." Busch chose to take the high road Thursday when asked about [former owner Jack] Roush, and indicated he would reflect upon his accomplishments with the team in his Friday night speech. "I think we've had a great career together," he said. "I'll leave with my head high and pride that I developed in that #97. Once we get through all this, it's going to be a lesson learned for me," he said. "It will be great to turn over a new leaf next season." ESPN.com/AP

USGP notebook USGP notebookFelipe Massa has given his support to the new regulations for 2006, especially the all new qualifying system. Massa believes this new type of qualifying will showcase driver talent well and is what the sport needs:

"The new qualifying format is a positive move. For the first two runs at least, the car can run empty, with the minimum amount of fuel on board. This is every driver's dream."

The new Ferrari driver is also very excited about racing with the new tire and engine regulations in place:

"I think that reintroducing tire changes during races will be useful, above all regarding safety, especially considering the problems of last year. Similarly, limiting the performance with the new V8 engines is a good thing. Each year we have been seeing an increase in power that has been difficult to control."

The young Brazilian does not however think that these new rules will change the sport significantly or hurt the racing action:

"There shouldn't be much change in driving. Probably the speed in taking curves will be lower but we may brake later and so the style we have will be more or less the same. What will certainly change is the work of the engineers who will have to find the right balance for the car as the engines will be lighter." zzzz

Jacques Villeneuve, 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner and the 1997 Formula One World Champion, will drive for the BMW Sauber F1 Team in the upcoming 2006 season that includes the United States Grand Prix on July 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

After spending his first three seasons in F1 with Williams, Canada's Villeneuve then drove for the BAR-Honda team from when it was formed in 1999 through 2003. He sat out most of the 2004 season and then signed to drive for the privateer Sauber team in 2005. Now that BMW has bought Sauber, Villeneuve is looking forward to helping build the team.

"Between 1999 and 2004, I experienced firsthand the difficulties and complexities involved in setting up a new team," Villeneuve said, "but I've never been afraid of a challenge. Sauber was already a good team, and now we also have the resources of BMW behind us. I will do everything I can to contribute to the success of the BMW Sauber F1 Team."

Villeneuve's 2005 season with Sauber Petronas had mixed results, but BMW Motorsport Director Dr. Mario Theissen said Villeneuve's performances in the latter half of the season warranted keeping him on the team in 2006.

"We took a close look at Jacques' performance level at the end of last season," Theissen said. "After an extremely tough first half of the year, which showed that even a former World Champion cannot come back after a period away and be competitive from day one, he got closer and closer to his teammate over the second half of the season. We are in no doubt that Jacques will make the BMW Sauber F1 Team stronger."

Nick Heidfeld, who finished on the podium three times in 2005 driving for Williams-BMW, will be Villeneuve's teammate.

Heidfeld already has begun testing an interim car, a modified Sauber C24B chassis fitted with a 2006 version of the BMW P86 V8 engine. Villeneuve's testing duties start Dec. 8 at the Jerez circuit in Spain.

Alonso takes number 1 from Schumacher: Newly crowned World Champion Fernando Alonso will carry the prestigious number 1 on his Renault in the United States Grand Prix on July 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and for the entire 2006 FIA Formula One season. His teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella, will carry number 2.

For the first time since 1999, seven-time World Champion and four-time United States Grand Prix winner Michael Schumacher begins a new season without the number 1 on his car.

In accordance to F1 policy, the rest of the numbers for the 2006 season are assigned in the order that the teams finished in the previous year's Constructors World Championship.

Thus McLaren-Mercedes drivers Kimi Raikkonen and 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya will use the numbers 3 and 4, respectively, as their team finished second in the Constructors' points last year.
Since Schumacher didn't win the championship and Ferrari finished third in 2005, Schumacher will use number 5 in 2006. His new teammate, Felipe Massa, will carry number 6.

The official 2006 entry list, released Dec. 1 by the FIA, contains several team name changes from 2005.

Now that Honda has acquired 100 percent of BAR, the team has been renamed Lucky Strike Honda Racing F1 Team.

Having bought the Minardi team, Red Bull has renamed it Scuderia Toro Rosso, which is Italian for Team Red Bull.

Sauber-Petronas becomes BMW Sauber F1 Team now that BMW has bought the privateer Swiss team.

The former Jordan team is now called MF1 Racing as its takeover by the Midland Group, owned by the Russian-born Canadian citizen Alex Shnaider, is complete.

Just three of 20 available driver's seats are open on the entry list. The teammate to Red Bull Racing driver David Coulthard has not been named, and both drivers for the Red Bull-owned Scuderia Toro Rosso have yet to be named.

Driver nominations may be changed at any time until March 9, the day before the first practice session prior to the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 12.

2006 USGP tickets: Ticket information for the 2006 United States Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, July 2, is available online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, or by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area

Racing News
Best positioned to penetrate China Best positioned to penetrate ChinaWhich sport is best positioned to successfully penetrate the China market?

NBA 64.53%
PGA Tour 9.36%
MLB 6.90%
LPGA 3.45%
ATP 2.46%
NFL 2.46%
MLS 2.46%
IRL 0.49%
NASCAR 0.49%
NHL 0.49%
None of the above 3.45%
No response 3.45%

Which league enjoyed the best year in landing new sponsorship deals? 
AFL 0.82% 
MLB 18.78% 
MLS 3.27% 
NASCAR 24.49% 
NBA 3.67% 
NFL 27.35% 
NHL 1.22% 
IRL 0.41% 
PGA Tour 4.90% 
MISL 0.00% 
Other 1.63%
 No Response 13.47%

Source: Turnkey Sports. Turnkey Sports is the owner of the Turnkey Sports Poll - the industry's ongoing survey of the most senior-level sports industry owners and executives.  No Champ Car mentioned because Champ Car is not a name that registers with 99.9999999% of the world population, hence why we have been saying for a very long team the wrong name was chosen for the series, but what do we know.

ISC to publish magazine ISC to publish magazineISC is launching "Racing One," a NASCAR lifestyle magazine.  The premiere edition will be out next summer and be mailed to 250K names from its massive database of race ticket buyers.  The glossy book will be around 100 pages and will have limited newsstand sales.
Toyota to launch in France Toyota to launch in FranceAlthough Panasonic Toyota Racing is already testing its TF106 car in Barcelona, the team will still hold a pre-season launch event for the media on Saturday 14 January at Toyota's manufacturing facility in France.  The team will use the opportunity to showcase the TF106 with race drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli, as well as other key members of the team.
Williams Cosworth conclude first tests Williams Cosworth conclude first testsIt was a case of all change for the Williams team this week as they conducted their first test of the off-season with a new tire supplier in Bridgestone and a new engine supplier in Cosworth.

The team admit to the inevitable teething troubles, but did manage to notch up an impressive 1337km of running with Webber setting the third best V8 time of the day.

The test team now pack up and will be back in action at Jerez next week.

Mark Webber
"We’ve had a raft of new elements at this test, including the engine, tires, hydraulics and electronics, to name just a few. There’ll all new factors, and potential show stoppers at this early stage, but we’ve enjoyed reasonable reliability this week. Of course, we haven’t even scratched the surface with Bridgestone yet in terms of the philosophy of their tires in comparison with Michelin, and we’re still getting used to the new V8 and working on its different characteristics. It’s been a pretty positive test though and an encouraging start for us."

Nico Rosberg
"It’s been great to finally get back in the car again this week after quite a long preparation period. The test went really well overall, we didn’t experience too many problems, although those that we did all seemed to happen on my car! The Cosworth engine was very impressive and very powerful. We had no problems with it which is good considering this test was its first time out on track. The new gearbox we’ve been running was also good. The Bridgestone tires seemed to work well, but it’s difficult to make comparisons. Obviously, we still need to do some work on tire development, and spend some time adapting them to the car. For me, I feel very comfortable in the car. It feels great to drive and I’m really confident for the forthcoming tests."
Sam Michael, Technical Director
"This week was a fantastic first test for the new Williams, Cosworth and Bridgestone partnership and it is a great credit to everybody in Grove and Northampton to have been able to conduct such a thorough first test together. Although we experienced the normal teething problems, the mileage we’ve achieved and the progress we’ve made on set-up and understanding the tires and how the car responds to the V8 has been really good. Mark worked on set-up changes today and did some tire testing for Bridgestone, while Nico spent this morning on set-ups but we lost some time on his car repairing a gearbox problem. Both Mark and Nico will be driving in Jerez next week."

Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth
"The new Cosworth CA2006 V8 enjoyed a successful track debut with Williams in Barcelona. Ambitious performance and reliability targets have been set throughout the new V8 engine program & we are on course to deliver against them. This is a testament to the huge effort put in by everyone at Cosworth and the excellent working relationship we have established with the Williams team."

Kaz Hamamura, Test Operations Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport
"We are satisfied with our first test session with the WilliamsF1 Team. Our engineers have been working with the team to match the car to our tires and we having being getting to know everyone. The initial feedback has been positive and we are already planning our next session together in Jerez where we can start to evaluate different specifications together." Source Williams Cosworth

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Black flag for Super Aguri
Monteiro on '06 entry list
'Honda' unveil new team name
Ralf's new Toyota blows up
Button stays on top
Bourdais wanted BMW ride
BMW opt to keep JV millions
Ferrari in 'fine form' - Gene
Monza appeals noise ban
V8s would be better - Fisi
Montoya and Raikkonen
Graham Hill
FIA wing to get 'no' vote FIA wing to get 'no' voteThe FIA's radical 'duel rear wing' concept is unlikely to be voted in for the 2007 season.

Officially called the 'Centerline Downwash Generating Wing', the idea - championed by Max Mosley - aims to replace the traditional rear wing and boost the downforce of a following car, to inspire overtaking.

Although likely to be enforced in 2008, F1's technical director-comprised 'technical working group' will meet on Friday, and an 80 per cent vote would green-light the wing's arrival for '07.

It was claimed that Adrian Newey has been working on the wing's design details for the FIA.

''I am positive about (the wing),'' Renault's Pat Symonds - a member of the formula one 'technical working group' - told Autosport.

''But although it is not a knee-jerk reaction as such ... it is very radical and there is an awful lot to explore.''

Pat Symonds suggested that the FIA wing would probably not be voted through by the TWG.

An FIA spokesman, however, said: ''A detailed presentation of the ... wing will be made to the team experts.''

TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday

Stade de France, Paris
11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. ET (Live) HDNet
Mid-Ohio  (9/24/05)
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: Formula 500
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: Touring 2
'Race Car Driver'
Episode 14: Mexico City
Episode 13: Australia
6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. ET (Replay) WGN
Laguna Seca  (10/15/05)
6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. ET (Replay) SPEED
Brands Hatch   (9/25/05)
6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ET (Replay) OLN
'Stroker Ace'  (1983)
8:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. ET, SPEED

For a complete listing of Saturday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com and Race Fan TV.

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday USA TV reminders for Friday
Adelaide, South Australia
3:00 a.m.-4:00 a.m. ET (Replay) SPEED
NASCAR Takes Manhattan
7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ET (Live) SPEED
The Gumball Rally (1976)
8:00 p.m.-10:30 p.m. ET, SPEED
New York City
9:00 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET (SDD) TNT
Bourdais says Montagny can do well in Champ Car Bourdais says Montagny can do well in Champ CarFrenchman Sebastien Bourdais revealed to AFP on Thursday that Franck Montagny can do well in Champ Car in 2006 if he lands with the right team.

How do you feel about the probable move of Franck Montagny in Champ Car next season?
“He would deserve his place in Champ Car and with a competitive car he would be able to battle for wins. But it is not easier to find a place in Champ Car than in Formula One!  If Christian Fittipaldi didn’t leave a spot empty at Newman/Haas, I wouldn’t be there today!”

Bourdais says Briatore hurting French drivers in F1 Bourdais says Briatore hurting French drivers in F1Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais revealed to AFP on Thursday that he was in talks with BMW to become Nick Heidfeld’s teammate in 2006.

Bourdais, who won the Champ Car title for the second consecutive time in 2005, didn’t succeed in his attempt to join BMW, the team announcing earlier today that Jacques Villeneuve’s initial contract with Sauber – good until the end of 2006 – will be honored, the Canadian now confirmed as the second BMW Sauber driver.

Did your second Champ Car title help to negotiate with F1 teams?
“It didn’t hurt but the opportunities in F1 are limited. I was optimistic with BMW because it’s a new, ambitious team. Unfortunately, Villeneuve’s contract was more difficult to break than expected. So I re-signed with Newman/Haas in Champ Car for 2006 because there was nothing serious in F1. As a matter of fact, I signed for two more years but with a ‘get-out’ option at the end of 2006 if something opens up in F1.”
How far did you go with your contacts at BMW?
“I talked a lot with Mario Theissen. First by phone, then in person. The first time by phone at the end of September, I really felt some interest on his side. But when we met it was clear that they could not break Jacques’ contract. There was still the possibility to be the third driver but this solution could only be considered with a guarantee of being a race driver in the team in 2007. But this kind of guarantee was impossible and Mario knew that I had too much to lose to take this risk. So he did not even talk to me about it.”

You only want to drive in F1 with one of the best teams?
“The problem is more simple. Actually there are only two, or even only one team (Midland) where we need to bring money. All the other teams are interesting. But Ferrari and McLaren will never want a driver with no F1 experience and Renault will not take me, Sebastien Bourdais. And I am not part of the Red Bull program so...”
Is Renault F1 Team’s Managing Director Flavio Briatore blocking you from going there?
“At Renault, yes! Faure (Renault F1’s President) and Briatore believe that none of the French drivers are good enough to be in F1. It’s amazing when we see the number of French drivers winning in other series. They (Faure and Briatore) didn’t even mention the good work that we are all doing. So if there is an opportunity in F1 for Bourdais, it won’t be at Renault! With them, we are being put down in front of everybody for no reason so it is better to forget about it and look for real opportunities.”

Kubica and Mondini get F1 taste with Renault Kubica and Mondini get F1 taste with RenaultRobert Kubica and Giorgio Mondini today enjoyed their first taste of Formula 1, as both took the wheel of the world championship winning Renault R25 for half a day at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.

Not only were both drivers making the big step up from the World Series by Renault to Formula 1, they also had to cope with difficult conditions at the Spanish circuit. Cool ambient temperatures kept track temperatures low, which made running difficult early this morning and towards the end of the afternoon.

As Christian Silk explains, both drivers impressed with the maturity of their approach, making good progress and steadily improving their lap-times as they came to terms with the demands of a Formula 1 car.

“Robert and Giorgio have done a very solid job today, taking a mature approach to their first runs in a Formula 1 car. It should never be underestimated how difficult it is to drive one of these machines for the first time: the controls are very complicated, and although they are capable young racing drivers, both were surprised at how much faster the car was than anything else they had driven.”

“They were faced with a very big jump to adapt to the car, and to get their brains processing the information fast enough to cope. But they adapted well, working with their engineers to understand and improve the car, and taking a mature approach to the job in hand. They ran in difficult conditions with cold temperatures, but neither made any mistakes.”

“Today was not about lap-times, and it is worth saying that any direct comparison is meaningless – Robert reached the end of his test as track conditions were at their best, while Giorgio was coming to understand the car better as the track temperature fell and conditions became more difficult. We tried to be as fair as possible in giving them an equal share of the available track time, and they have acquitted themselves well.”

Robert Kubica, Morning, 41 laps, 1:17.997
“Robert had a difficult start to his test as track temperatures were very low this morning. That made it hard for him to build his confidence in the car as the tires were not working at their best, but he simply got on with the job. He made no mistakes, and took a very methodical approach, improving his lap time with each run. In the end, I have to say we were pretty impressed with his time – especially as he said his neck muscles were tiring, and he lost his last run after a blown engine from a rival team dropped a lot of oil on the racing line just before lunch.”

Giorgio Mondini, Afternoon, 40 laps, 1:19.093
“Giorgio also had to adapt to changing conditions during his running this afternoon, with the circuit going away from him as his confidence with the car grew. But the main thing we look for on this first test is not a lap-time, rather how the driver makes progress with the car, and how he adapts to the demands of Formula 1. Giorgio made steady progress with each run, and his lap-times became gradually more competitive. Ultimately, he has done a reasonable lap in difficult, cooling conditions.”

Race of Champions
TAG Heuer Acts As Official Timekeeper of ROC TAG Heuer Acts As Official Timekeeper of ROCOn Dec. 3, 2005, TAG Heuer will act for the second time as official timekeeper for the 18th Race of Champions – Nations Cup in the 65,000-seater Stade de France in Paris.

Since its creation in 1860, TAG Heuer has been actively involved in three of the main motor racing events: the Formula 1 World Championship with Team McLaren Mercedes, the Indy Racing League with its legendary Indianapolis 500 and the Race of Champions – Nations Cup 2005.

Today, TAG Heuer can boast undisputed precision-driven expertise after providing the official timekeeping for almost 200 Formula 1 races, first with Scuderia Ferrari from 1971 to 1979 and since 1985 with Team McLaren Mercedes. In 1966, TAG Heuer was the first to develop instruments capable of measuring to 1/1,000th of a second and it can now guarantee precision and optimum reliability in motor sports timekeeping to 1/10,000th of a second.

“To be chosen as the official timekeeper for this internationally renowned event is not only an honor for TAG Heuer, but also the sort of technical and human challenge which our brand has taken on with passion in the world of top-level sport for more than 140 years, and which has helped forge its reputation,” explains TAG Heuer Worldwide President and CEO Jean-Christophe Babin. zzzz

“For more than two years, our partnership with the Indy Racing League and the Indy 500 has provided us with the opportunity to master time to 1/10,000th of a second. Our new project with The Race of Champions will mean that we can offer organizers the latest technological innovations and our experience in processing results,” adds Jean Campiche, Director of TAG Heuer’s Timing Division. In the Stade de France, 15 engineers will be responsible for ratifying the times and gaps between the best drivers in the world, and in addition this year, for measuring the lap record, again to 1/10,000th of a second.

“When the best drivers in the world race head-to-head in the Race of Champions, most legs are decided in fractions of seconds. On the Stade de France racetrack, the margin between victory and defeat will be even more minute than usual. It is therefore vital to have the best timekeeping in the world and we are delighted to have TAG Heuer’s experienced team as one of our loyal partners,” announced Fredrik Johnsson, President of the organizers IMP and founder of The Race of Champions – Nations Cup with Michèle Mouton, the best female rally
driver of all time.

With identical cars and track, it’s talent that makes the difference …

The Race of Champions - Nations Cup 2005 will bring together 20 drivers, all champions, from Formula 1, the World Rally Championship, the American NASCAR Championship, the Indy Racing League, ChampCar and various international championships. They will race individually (Race of Champions) and in teams of two in their national colors (Nations Cup).

The final event of the season, the Race of Champions - Nations Cup is now the only competition where drivers from different countries and motor sport disciplines agree to race in absolutely identical cars (ROC Cars, Renault Mégane Trophy, Citroën Xsara WRC and Porsche GT3 Road Challenge) and on two parallel, one kilometer-long asphalt tracks intersecting on a bridge in the centre of the stadium.

Top billing at the race will go to the TAG Heuer ambassadors, Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR champion, and Sébastien Bourdais, Champ Car world champion in 2005 for the second consecutive year.

''I am delighted that TAG Heuer has invited me back to the Stade de France. It has become a leading event on the international calendar and a unique opportunity to thank the French public for its incredible support. The atmosphere last year was unbelievable and I can’t wait to return to the track to be part of the show and go as far as I can in the competitions,'' says Sébastien Bourdais.

Other famous friends of the brand will rub shoulders at this, the only event of its kind in the world. They include Formula 1 drivers David Coulthard and Felipe Massa (Schumacher’s future partner with Ferrari team), Marcus Gronholm (double World Rally champion and Race Of Champions Nations Cup finalist in 2004), Sébastien Loeb of course (recently crowned World Rally Champion for the second consecutive year), Dan Weldon (IRL champion and this year’s winner of the Indy 500) and Tom Kristensen (seven victories in the Le Mans 24-hour race).

Montoya returns Montoya returnsJuan Pablo Montoya returned to testing duties with Team McLaren Mercedes at the Circuit de Catalunya today, alongside Pedro de la Rosa.

The team's program with two MP4-20B interim cars continued at the Spanish track and there was further progress made. However, there were a number of red flag interruptions during the day from incidents involving other teams. Juan Pablo had a minor off after another car had suffered a problem ahead of him on the track, but avoided causing any damage to his car.

Pedro set the fifth fastest time of the day with a 1m17.447 and Juan Pablo took seventh position on the timesheets 1m17.762. Both Juan Pablo and Pedro completed 145 laps in total, covering over 670kms.

Juan Pablo will be joined in Barcelona by Gary Paffett tomorrow for the final day of the test, with the team moving to Jerez next week. McLaren

Daniel Herrington gets taste of DP car Daniel Herrington gets taste of DP carDaniel Herrington, fresh off his ST class victory at VIR last month, took another step forward in his career development with a successful one day DP test with ADi in Danville Va. last week.       
Despite being limited to only 20 laps in extremely cold weather producing tires well below optimal operating temperature, Herrington was able to pilot the ADi Motorsports BMW powered Picchio chassis around the 2.7 mile VIR full course in the high 1:49's - quicker than any of the other drivers participating in the two days of testing before Thanksgiving. 
"Daniel did a remarkable job of becoming familiar with our Daytona Prototype as well posting the fastest time of the day,” says ADi driver and technical director Shawn Bayliff. “He has definitely shown us his natural ability- harnessing that natural ability with testing, coaching and the right financial breaks Daniel could go all the way to the top. I look forward to helping him in anyway that I can."  zzzz
Herrington, an engineering freshman at NC State, started his racing career just two years ago with rookie season championships in the NASA and Skip Barber racing series.  This summer he competed in the Formula BMW USA series before taking the Compass 360 BMW Z3 to the top podium spot in the Grand Am Cup season finale. 
“It was a tremendous experience to get behind the wheel of the Team ADi Daytona Prototype,” says Daniel.  “Shawn Bayliff and the whole ADi team have done a great job with the car and I am confident it will be running up at the front at the 24 Hours of Daytona.  I just want to thank Hassel Moran and Shawn Bayliff for giving me this opportunity and hopefully it is just the beginning of my involvement in Grand Am Rolex racing.”
Herrington is currently hoping to compete in a combination of Formula Mazda and Grand Am Cup races for the 2006 season; although based on his performance last week in Danville, he will be anxious to build DP racing into his future as well.
The Pawns The PawnsUPDATE Another reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1, I believe the other reader did miss someone. I have thought for a long time that when the deal for NASCAR to race at Indy was in progress, Bill France Jr. must have put his arm around a then young and impressionable Tony George and said "We'll help you get rid of those pesky CART team owners too." Tony George was one of Billy's Pawns as well. I also believe now that those team owners and Tony are all back together and they all deserve each other.  Unification of the original combatants has already happened.

If the "Pawns" minus George had originally stood their ground the Open Wheel war would now be over, because no one would be racing in the IRL. But in hindsight, a purge would have been important anyway and their defection have played a critical role in Champ Car’s burgeoning new health that we would have never got it with the "old guard" in place. The IRL must fail and TG must abdicate.

With Champ Car's strategic race acquisition, “the handwriting is on the wall." The fans must force the sponsors and the backers of George to dictate to him to be only a race promoter and seek a Memorial Day weekend date on the Champ Car calendar. That is the only scenario by which open wheel racing survives in the USA. Otherwise it won't be long before the Indy 500 will be a stock car race, the France family's victory complete, and Tony George's legacy of destroying an entire sport written in the history books. Niles Anders, Topeka, Kansas

12/01/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I have composed a list of pawns that fell for the ruse to support the IRL. They were sold on the idea to support Tony George and the oval track cartel, which played right into the hands of the France family. The resulting split destroyed IndyCar Racing. I remember in the mid-90's CART had far more total corporate sponsorship than NASCAR. Then the split.....and the resulting destruction, and in parallel, NASCAR's meteoric rise.

The Primary Pawns
Honda  - Take a bow please
Toyota  - Take a bow please
Roger Penske  - Take a bow please
Chip Ganassi  - Take a bow please
Michael Andretti  - Take a bow please
Bobby Rahal  - Take a bow please 
Kim Green  - Take a bow please
John Barnes  - Take a bow please
Eddie Cheever  - Take a bow please
Morris Nunn  - Take a bow please
AJ Foyt  - Take a bow please
Adrian Fernandez  - Take a bow please
Marlboro  - Take a bow please
Target  - Take a bow please
Pennzoil  - Take a bow please

Did I miss any? Take a bow gentlemen, you were pawns and you blew it. You should have stayed united under CART. Now the IRL, which you supported, is failing and the carnage left behind has to be one of the biggest examples of stupidity in the history of racing. Will open wheel racing be able to survive? Some say it's too late. Mordichai Rosen, Los Angeles, CA

Second day of testing for Ferrari Second day of testing for FerrariSecond day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari, working at the Valencia and Mugello circuits. On the Tuscan track, Marc Gené was again in action, at the wheel of an F2004 M fitted with a V8 engine. The Spanish test driver completed the planned program, covering 32 laps today with a best time of 1'26''789.

Meanwhile, on the Iberian track, Felipe Massa continued with the Bridgestone tire development program begun yesterday. The Brazilian covered a total of 29 laps, the quickest in 1'12''168. The Scuderia and Massa continue testing at Valencia tomorrow. Ferrari

Briatore knows a thing or two about F1 Briatore knows a thing or two about F1
Flavio, many people were impressed by the team spirit at Renault this year. How was it from the inside?
“As Patrick Faure has said, we are all very proud. On the technical front, we gave the drivers a car that was capable of being competitive. Everybody has recognized what Fernando achieved, but we should not forget Fisico. We won the constructors’ title with Fisico’s points as well. We have a great team spirit, and you could see that when our drivers were happy to be on the podium together. I think their enthusiasm showed the strength and spirit of the Renault F1 Team.”

When Fernando became Renault’s test driver in 2002, you said then that he had ‘something special’. Did you expect him to be able to win so much, so quickly?
“When we decided to put Fernando in the car, we knew he was a special guy. Everybody said he was very young, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that he started very young too – he was a 20 year old with 14 years of experience. To win a world championship, you need everything to be working right. This year, Fernando made nearly no mistakes and achieved the car performance with his engineers. Also, he has demonstrated he can motivate people. So when we took him in 2002, yes, I was sure he was ready for the Renault car and to be competitive. At the time, I had let Jenson Button leave and many people that I knew nothing about Formula 1. Now I think we have shown I understand a little bit.”

The next season also means news technical regulations. Do you think that they will improve the Formula 1 show as well ?
“Of course I hope that the new regulations for 2006 will improve the show because that is one of the key elements for our audience. Concerning our ambitions for the next season, needless to say we are working very hard to try and win more races, to stay at the top and to improve even more. For sure, next year we will be aiming to fight for both world titles once again.” Renault F1 Team

BMW hails first test as success BMW hails first test as successBMW motorsport director, Mario Theissen has hailed their first test since taking over the Sauber team a success.  Speaking following their three-day outing at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain, with Nick Heidfeld piloting the Sauber C24B, powered by a BMW V8 engine, Theissen added that while there is still much work to do, the different elements of 'BMW Sauber' are starting to gel.

"This was a successful first joint test," he confirmed.  "It was important that we could run the BMW P86 engine in the Sauber chassis at this early stage, in order to integrate all technical systems.

"This is the beginning of the testing season, and there is naturally a lot of work to be done.  The co-operation at the track as well as the preparation of the interim chassis went very well - it was the first joint task of the new team. This test was the first one of our four that we will be conducting with the interim car before launching the 2006 contender in January."

Track News
Humpy's mother dies Humpy's mother diesA funeral service for Kathleen Wheeler, mother of H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway, and David Wheeler, the track's director of interior maintenance, will be held at 11:00am/et Saturday, Dec. 3, at The Basilica at Belmont Abbey in Belmont, NC. Wheeler, 95, a Belmont native, passed away Wednesday night, Nov. 30, at the Courtland Terrace assisted living center in Gastonia, NC. A visitation and rosary for Wheeler will be conducted at 7:00pm/et, Friday, Dec. 2, at McLean & Sons Funeral Home, 515 N. Central Ave., in Belmont, NC. Wheeler is survived by four children, H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, David Wheeler, Mary Plexico and Angela Wheeler; nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Her husband, Howard A. Wheeler, passed away in 1968. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations in memory of Kathleen Wheeler be made to the Belmont Community Organization, P.O. Box 1248, Belmont, N.C. 28012. LMS
Track News
Record no. of students at Mid-Ohio school Record no. of students at Mid-Ohio schoolThe Mid-Ohio School, the high-performance driver instruction program operated by TrueSports, Inc., based at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and sponsored by American Honda, set records for class dates and student enrollments in 2005.

Nearly 2,300 participants took part in at least one of the school's ten performance-driving programs in 2005, besting the previous high mark set in 2004.  Since 2003, enrollments have grown by more than 50 percent.  The Mid-Ohio School has now produced more than 19,000 alumni in its 13-year history.

The school presented 124 class days during the season, eight more than the previous one-year record.  It also held a record number of Corporate Driving Experience programs in 2005.  The program provides a unique entertainment alternative for companies, and teaches high-performance driving and team-building skills to corporate groups and their guests.

"It's been an outstanding year from a number of standpoints, and the enrollment, class date and corporate program records certainly bear that out," said The Mid-Ohio School Director Steve Bidlack.  "We're operating at about 95 percent of our capacity, which is a sign not only of our growth over the past few seasons, but also of the hard work our corporate partners, instructors and staff put in year after year.  With four new courses on our 2006 schedule, we're poised for further growth next season."

The school's Honda Teen Defensive Driving Program continues to be its most popular offering.  The class teaches fundamental car control through classroom sessions and a series of drills behind the wheel.  Approximately 800 teens went through the program this past season, including a number of first-time traffic offenders who took part in the program through a partnership with the Knox County (Ohio) Juvenile Court.  The three year-old program utilizes the teen course as an educational measure, and has reduced repeat offenses by more than 75 percent. zzzz

Founded in 1981 and headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, TrueSports, Inc. is a privately held motorsports entertainment enterprise.  The company owns and operates Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and The Mid-Ohio School, and promotes a wide variety of motor racing, driver instruction, corporate, and family entertainment events throughout the year.

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a 2.4-mile, 15-turn permanent road racing circuit in Lexington, Ohio.  Located 60 miles north of Columbus and 75 miles south of Cleveland near Mansfield, the track has been called the most competitive in the U.S. and annually hosts a diversity of locally, regionally and nationally sanctioned racing events for amateur, club and professional riders and drivers.

The Mid-Ohio School provides high-performance driving instruction to licensed drivers, corporate groups, emergency service professionals, and amateur and professional racers.  The school's 14 different driving programs vary from Honda Teen and Adult Defensive Driving Programs to a Competition Course, and include a series of Acura High Performance Courses.  Students enjoy classroom sessions, skill drills, private instruction and lapping on the same track that challenges the world's top racers.  Led by an instructor corps of professional racing drivers, The Mid-Ohio School has graduated more than 19,000 students since 1993.

NASCAR helps USA Bobsledders NASCAR helps USA BobsleddersAfter the first two stops on the FIBT World Cup bobsled season in Calgary, Canada and Lake Placid, N.Y., the United States bobsled teams have achieved startling results with help from NASCAR.

In six total races spanning women’s bobsled as well as two and four-man bobsled events, the United States has captured one gold, four silver and two bronze medals. That's seven medals out of 18 that have been distributed to date. It is a streak eerily reminiscent of Tony Stewart’s torrid run to the checkered flag this past summer when he won five of seven starts en route to his Cup title.

Another startling factor is that four different American drivers have won those medals. In addition, never before has the U.S. had two different men on the podium at one time in a World Cup until recently at the Verizon Sports Complex in Lake Placid when the men took silver and bronze medals in the two-man race. The United States has three women’s bobsled athletes in the top five of the World Cup standings and three U.S. men’s sleds in the top 10 of the World Cup. As a result, the team has moved to the head of the leaderboard in Nations points.  zzzz

This early success is being impacted by a combination of factors.

"We have superior athletes who are peaking for the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy,” said Geoff Bodine, a former NASCAR driver who started building Made In America U.S. team sleds in 1992. “And on top of that, my sled design guys, Chassis Dynamics, have built some great sleds. The guys at Chassis Dynamics knew this new design was going to be fast even before it hit the ice during the national team trials in October."

Prior to that, American athletes raced in sleds that were rejected by the Europeans. That ended, happily, when Bodine entered the picture along with Bob Cuneo of Chassis Dynamics of Oxford, Connecticut. Cuneo has a 30-year relationship with Bodine building auto racing chassis for Bodine in his early days of success on the modified tour. Cuneo, initially, had a lot to learn about bobsledding, but he noticed that it did have many similarities to NASCAR.
 "It took us a while to figure out the intricacies of the sport, but after 13 years we are confident that we have now come up with a design that is fastest in the world,” said Cuneo of the Bodine Bobsled Project. “More importantly, we are extremely proud that these are Made In America sleds. When we see those athletes get up on the podium to receive medals, it makes it all worth while. This is about Americans helping American athletes on their way to the Olympics.”

To continue America’s drive to the podium, Bodine is hosting a fundraiser for his Bodine Bobsled Project. This event will involve 10 NASCAR drivers piloting specially-made bobsleds in Lake Placid January 5-7, 2006 at the Verizon Sports Complex, site of the 2003 and 2009 FIBT World Bobsled Championships.

According to Bodine, "The sleds my colleagues will be driving will look exactly like our Bodine-designed sleds on the FIBT World Cup tour. After testing a sled on November 8 in Lake Placid, the guys are going to love the speed and thrill of the bobsled."

Many drivers have lent their name to the event, but it is still to be determined who will compete. Boris Said is one driver who has roots in bobsledding and is confirmed in Lake Placid. His father, Bob Said, was a bobsled driver in the 1968 and 1972 Winter Games.

Said describes bobsledding as, "the greatest thrill I have ever had without an engine." Other drivers who have indicated to Bodine their desire to attend if their schedules permit are Cup winner Stewart, Todd Bodine, Ken Schrader, Kyle Petty, Randy LaJoie, Kevin Lepage, Debra Renshaw and Steve Park.

For more information on the Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, go to the www.bodinebobsled.com.

IndyCar Series Teams Begin Use Of Ethanol-Blended Fuel IndyCar Series Teams Begin Use Of Ethanol-Blended FuelA pair of IRL IndyCar® Series teams will conduct the first on-track test of the league's new ethanol-blended fuel on Dec. 7 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Bryan Herta of Andretti Green Racing and Buddy Rice of Rahal Letterman Racing will use the fuel as part of a one-day test with manufacturers Honda and Firestone.

In March, the Indy Racing League announced it had partnered with the ethanol industry to become the fuel supplier beginning with the 2006 season.

Teams will use a 90 percent methanol and 10 percent ethanol for the test and during the 2006 season. In 2007, the fuel will be 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol in IndyCar Series cars.

"The transition between methanol and ethanol in our cars should be very smooth," said Phil Casey, the Indy Racing League's senior technical director. "Our cars won't sound differently, smell differently or run differently than they have in the past. There will be a seamless transition from methanol to ethanol in our cars." zzzz

Ethanol is an alcohol derived primarily from grain. As a clean-burning and renewable fuel that is non-toxic and 100 percent biodegradable, it reduces harmful air pollution and improves racing's environmental

Its high octane rating delivers strong engine performance by helping engines resist detonation so they can run higher compression ratios.

Race car engines operating on ethanol have demonstrated excellent performance due to the fuel's high octane content.  IndyCar Series cars have run on methanol fuel since the late 1960s. Internal dynamometer testing has shown that there are no technical barriers to replacing methanol with ethanol.

Ethanol is the only proven commercial scale renewable transportation fuel currently available in the marketplace. The 2006 season will not be the first time ethanol fuel has powered a car in the famed Indianapolis 500. At the 1927 race, a car driven by Leon Duray was fueled by ethyl (grain) alcohols.

Are they serious? Are they serious?From the we can't believe what we are reading department.  2005 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick is one of  27 athletes nominated for the United States Sports Academy's 2005 Athlete of the Year award. Balloting for the award, which is held in conjunction with USAToday.com, began Dec. 1 and runs through Dec. 24. [Editor's Note: Are not athletes of the year supposed to be the best of the best, i.e. winners in their discipline?  What has Patrick won?  Excelled at?  We must be missing something. We wonder how Dan Wheldon feels about this, you know the athlete that blew Danica in the weeds all year long yet wasn't even nominated.]

The 2005 male ballot includes Lance Armstrong, Ole Einar Bjoerdalen, Tom Brady, Reggie Bush, Tim Duncan, Jermaine Dye, Roger Federer, Matt Leinart, Peyton Manning, Bode Miller, Asafa Powell, Aaron Peirsol, Tony Stewart and Tiger Woods.

This year's female ballot includes Patrick, Kim Clijsters, Natalie Coughlin, Tirunesh Dibaba, Yolanda Griffith, Gao Jun, Deena Kastor, Nastia Liukin, Paula Radcliffe, Irina Slutskaya, Annika Sorenstam, Venus Williams and Yelena Isinbayeva.

As in years past, the male or female athlete receiving the most votes will be named the Academy's Athlete of the Year. Past winners include Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Mia Hamm, Michael Jordan, Annika Sorenstam and Tiger Woods. In addition to the overall winner, a Female Athlete of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year also will be selected.

To submit your vote, please visit http://www.usatoday.com/sports/front.htm or http://www.ussa.edu/aoy/index.asp

Blaney Rejoins BDR, Hamlin Assumes Crew Chief Duties Blaney Rejoins BDR, Hamlin Assumes Crew Chief DutiesBill Davis Racing confirmed its future plans for the No. 22 team Thursday, announcing that Dave Blaney has returned to the racing organization to drive the No. 22 Caterpillar car in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, with Kevin Hamlin joining him as crew chief.

“In the last couple of years, we just haven’t seen the performance we know the No. 22 CAT Racing team is capable of, so change was not a choice—it was a necessity,” said Bill Davis, team owner and president of Bill Davis Racing.  “Dave is not only a talented and consistent driver, but he is someone I respect and have always enjoyed working with in the past.  This will be my first time working with Kevin Hamlin, but I have long admired his work and accomplishments in this sport.” 

Blaney, a Hartford, Ohio, native, first drove for Bill Davis in 1998 and 1999, when he piloted the No. 93 Pontiac in the NASCAR Busch Series.  After running a part-time NASCAR Cup schedule in 1999, the team decided to turn its focus to running full-time in the Cup Series in 2000 and continued the effort through 2001.  Sponsorship changes and the development of other opportunities led to Blaney’s first departure from BDR in 2002. 

“I have always understood Dave’s need to pursue other avenues in this business, but it also was understood there were never any bridges burned between us,” Davis said.

Panther Racing puts Dallara on eBay Panther Racing puts Dallara on eBayPanther Racing is placing its back-to-back IndyCar Series Championship winning No. 4 Pennzoil Dallara on internet auction site eBay today, with the top bidder set to collect one of the most successful race cars in open-wheel racing history.

The chassis, which started 18 Indy Racing League events with Scott Goodyear (4) and Sam Hornish, Jr. (14), is completely assembled and prepared to run. Of the car’s 18 career starts, 12 were podium finishes, and included five victories and two Indianapolis 500 appearances. It led a total of 637 laps during its tenure, and helped collect a total of $2,090,725 in prize money.

“This is going to be a hard car to part with,” Panther co-owner John Barnes said. “We had somebody that was interested in buying it and the deal didn’t go through [AutoRacing1.com has learned that Sam Hornish Jr. was going to buy it, then decided against it], so we had already had it in our minds that we were going to sell it. Plus, we’ve got five owners over here that are in love with it and it wouldn’t be any good split into five pieces.” zzzz

Goodyear drove the car to its first victory at Texas Motor Speedway in 2000, and Hornish recorded four of his team-record 11 wins behind the wheel.

“2001 and 2002 were dream seasons for Panther Racing and Sam Hornish Jr. This car represents a huge part of our heritage and winning ways,” Panther co-owner Doug Boles said. “What makes it really special is that this particular car crossed the finish line in 2001 (at Chicago) and 2002 (at Texas) to clinch championships, and with Scott Goodyear at the wheel to clinch second place in the 2000 championship.”

A pair of those victories included two of the three closest finishes in IndyCar Series history, and both featured Hornish out-dueling former two-time Indy 500 Champions.

eBay ad

You can own one of the most successful Indy-cars in the history of the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series.

This is the Pennzoil Panther No. 4 Dallara driven to five race wins in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series with legendary open-wheel pilots Scott Goodyear and Sam Hornish, Jr. Hornish drove this car to back-to-back IndyCar Series Championships in 2001 & 2002 and was behind the wheel of this chassis for four of his team-record 11 race victories with Panther Racing.

This Dallara is completely assembled, ready to run and was put together by some of the same mechanics that helped Hornish become the only driver to win consecutive championships in league history. You could purchase this racecar, hop in the cockpit and go 220 mph. Everything has been re-installed as the car was after its final race in 2002 - from the livery to the steering wheel. It even has Hornish's seat still in the cockpit.

The Chevrolet Indy V-8 engine in the car is the same power-plant Hornish used to hold off two-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves at Texas Motor Speedway to clinch the 2002 championship by just 0.0096 of a second – the third closest finish in IndyCar Series history.
In case that’s not close enough for you, this car was also involved in Hornish’s win over another two-time Indy 500 winner – Al Unser, Jr. – who Hornish defeated by 0.0024 of a second, which is the No. 1 closest margin of victory in the history of the Indy Racing League.

Synergy Racing signs Frisselle brothers Synergy Racing signs Frisselle brothersSynergy Racing announced today at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Show it has inked a deal with brothers Burt and Brian Frisselle, of Aventura, Fla., to pilot the team's Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype in the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series. It will mark the second Rolex Sports Car Series season with Synergy Racing for the young brothers, ages 23 and 21. They piloted the team's Rx.com No. 8 BMW Doran JE4 entry throughout 2005.

"We have been very impressed with Burt and Brian's performances this year," said Cole Scrogham, Synergy Racing co-owner. "We are enthusiastic to sign them to drive our Rx.com Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype next season. They have been a frontrunner at nearly every race this season, and we think they are the perfect drivers to carry our new Porsche-powered entry to the front next season. With Burt and Brian's talent and with the assistance from Porsche Motorsport North America, Synergy Racing and Rx.com look to not only be a consistent frontrunner, but also a regular presence on the podium in 2006." zzzz

The 2005 season marked Burt's second in the Rolex Series, while younger brother Brian entered as a rookie. Despite being relatively new to the series, the Frisselle brothers made their presence known early in the season, putting the Rx.com Daytona Prototype into the lead in round two. Since that race in Homestead, both brothers have taken turns at the front of the field in races at California Speedway and Watkins Glen International.

"Everyone at Synergy Racing and Rx.com has been great to work with this season," Burt said. "We're excited to return next season and race the new Rx.com Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype. With Gary Grossenbacher and Price Cobb's knowledge and experience with Porsches, I'm confident they'll give us a car we can take to the front again next season."

"My rookie season has been great with Synergy Racing and Rx.com," Brian said. "In addition to having a team of experts to work with and learn from, the team has consistently provided us with a fast car. And now with the assistance from Porsche Motorsport North America, I can't wait to drive the new Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype next season."

2005 Rolex Series Champions Honored 2005 Rolex Series Champions HonoredWith more than 300 people in attendance at Orlando’s World Center Marriott on Wednesday evening, the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series champions were honored for their outstanding performances in the Rolex Champions Banquet.
The night’s biggest presentation came at the end of the three-hour program, when Daytona Prototype co-champions Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli, as well as GT champion Craig Stanton were presented with specially-engraved Rolex Daytona Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph watches. The evening also served as the official unveiling of the impressive new “Championship of the Americas” trophy, which will be on perpetual display at DAYTONA USA and will be engraved with the names of Taylor and Angelelli, as well as future Daytona Prototype champions.
Taylor and Angelelli were honored for an impressive season in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley, in which the duo earned a series-leading five victories, including a triumph in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. For both drivers, it was their first Rolex Series championship. As car owner of the No. 10 SunTrust machine, Taylor and Riley Motorsports president Bill Riley were also presented with a $100,000 bonus check for their performance through the Hoosier PaceSetters program, and were honored as the 2005 Daytona Prototype team champions. zzzz
In making the presentation, Grand American Road Racing Association President Roger Edmondson also announced that the 16 Daytona Prototype teams and four GT teams that competed in every 2005 Rolex Series event will be part of the Hoosier PaceSetters program in 2006. Those teams will be eligible for substantial bonuses through professionalism and performance on and off the race track.
Taylor and Angelelli stole the show with an entertaining acceptance speech. Both drivers thanked their families, team members and sponsors for the support they have received over the years before sharing a few anecdotes on each other and their impressions of the Rolex Series and the Daytona Prototype category.
“I’ve been doing this for 32 years, and I am happy to have this championship with a guy who’s on a different level,” Taylor said. “Two years ago, when SunTrust and I got together, I was totally stressed at the Daytona test. There were so many cars lined up to go through tech, and my co-driver said, ‘this car is ugly.’ I said to him, ‘Max, this is the best deal we’ve ever had.’ The end result was that he brought us the championship. Max and (Rolex 24 co-driver) Emmanuel Collard are the two best sports car drivers that exist. Grand American Road Racing is so great. You talk to people in other forms of racing and all they want to talk about is what we’re doing here. So many young guys have come into the series and there really is a future here.”
“I wasn’t really captured by these strange-looking cars at first, but Wayne was right,” Angelelli added. “This is great racing, and I want to come back and do it again next year and every year for a long time.”
For his part, Stanton was thrilled to pick up the 2005 Rolex Series GT title, co-driving the No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup for most of the season with long-time friend, David Murry. It was his second Grand American championship in two years, as he also earned the Grand-Am Cup Series Grand Sport (GS) title in 2004. Stanton is looking forward to many more years of Rolex Series competition.
“What an exciting time for road racing in America,” Stanton said. “The Rolex Series is fast, exciting and easy to follow. I’m here to stay. David is an amazing guy, aggressive, competitive, he is a warrior. We just know each other. Each and every person I worked with did a great job this year. To win a championship is pretty darn awesome and I’m very proud.”
The evening also featured the inaugural presentation of the Jim Trueman and Bob Akin Awards, honoring the achievements of the top sportsman drivers in the Rolex Series. No. 3 PAP-Parts/OZEXE BMW Riley driver Darius Grala earned the Jim Trueman Award in Daytona Prototypes, while Will Nonnamaker took home the Bob Akin Award for his performance in the GT class. The Trueman and Akin Award trophies—which are busts of both men—were also unveiled, and will also be on perpetual display in DAYTONA USA like the new Championship of the Americas trophy.
“I am loving this concept of sportsman awards,” Grala said. “It’s given guys like me something to shoot for and to live up to what these gentlemen stood for.”
“When I found out that I won the Bob Akin Award, I thought about the Porsche 962 that Bob Akin won the 12 Hours of Sebring in, and I read that they won that race with no tire on the last lap which is just amazing,” Nonnamaker said. “It’s a very special honor to be the 2005 recipient, not only because it’s the inaugural award, but because I did it in a similar red Porsche.”
Also among the honorees were No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz for their second-place performance in the Daytona Prototype driver’s championship, and Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson, who finished third in the Daytona Prototype title chase in their No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford. Chip Ganassi accepted the second-place team owner’s trophy in Daytona Prototypes, while team co-owner Rick Howard accepted the third-place team trophy on behalf of the No. 4 Howard-Boss Motorsports team. For the second year in-a-row, No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford co-drivers Milka Duno and Andy Wallace earned the season-ending “SunTrust Improve Your Position Award” and a $6,000 prize.
No. 65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R co-drivers Marc Bunting and Andy Lally were honored for the second-place performance in the GT championship, finishing just one point behind Stanton. Likewise, Murry was honored for his third-place performance among GT drivers.
While Bunting and Lally narrowly missed the GT driver’s championship, the No. 65 TRG team earned the GT team championship, which was accepted by team owner Kevin Buckler. Picking up second place in the GT team championship was the No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup team, while the No. 14 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup team—with co-drivers Leh Keen and Cory Friedman—earned third place honors.
The Daytona Prototype engine manufacturer’s title went to Pontiac for the second-consecutive season. Likewise, Riley Technologies earned its second-straight Daytona Prototype constructor’s championship, and Porsche picked up its first Rolex Series GT manufacturer’s title and its second Rolex Series title overall. Porsche also earned the 2003 Daytona Prototype engine manufacturer’s crown.
The evening began with the official announcement that Crown Royal Special Reserve has become the presenting sponsor of the Rolex Sports Car Series.
SunTrust Bank Extends Team Agreement Through 2008 SunTrust Bank Extends Team Agreement Through 2008In a press conference at the PRI Show in Orlando, Florida today, SunTrust Bank announced that it has extended its agreement with Wayne Taylor and his Surrey Sport LLC company for sponsorship of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley Mk.XI team for two more years, through the 2008 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season.

“SunTrust continues to be extremely pleased with its relationship with Wayne Taylor and the program and people he’s assembled to run the SunTrust racing team,” said Chief Executive Officer of SunTrust Bank, Florida, Tom Kuntz.  “We have been so thrilled with the race program for the last two years that even before the third year has started, we wanted to show our commitment to Wayne and the Grand American Series and extend our contract two more years, bringing our commitment to five years, with an option on a sixth.”

“The relationship that I have enjoyed with SunTrust over the past few years is not just a sponsorship, it’s a real partnership,” said car owner/driver Wayne Taylor, a veteran road racer. “What they bring to the table as a business partner is second to none. Their level of commitment, support and business savvy has elevated this partnership and helped us achieve far more than we expected in such a short time.”  zzzz

Part of the success has been the growth of the SunTrust Sports and Entertainment Banking, which reaches out to the sports and entertainment communities to serve their special financial needs.

"We are delighted by SunTrust's commitment to Wayne Taylor and the championship-winning No. 10 team," Grand American Road Racing Association President Roger Edmondson said. "They have proven they are a premier team in the series, and we are pleased that they will continue to be part of the Rolex Sports Car Series for years to come."

Since 2004, SunTrust has been the “Official Bank” of Grand American Road Racing.

A1 Grand Prix
Giebler to race for Team USA Giebler to race for Team USAAutosport reports that Phil Giebler is to join A1 Team USA for the Dubai round of the A1 Grand Prix series. He will take the place vacated by Indy Racing League front-runner Bryan Herta, who is not scheduled to return to the series until next spring.

"It's a real honor and privilege to be able to drive for A1 Team USA, and I am excited to represent my country in this exciting new racing series," said Giebler. "I've been following this series since its inception, and I was ecstatic when I got the call to come drive for A1 Team USA.

"Over the past few years, I've raced against at least 25 percent of the drivers in the series and on many of the same tracks that we'll be racing in the A1 Grand Prix," he added.

"This is still a new series, so no one team should have a leg up on us due to experience. With the team that is already in place for A1 Team USA, I am confident we can go out there and score points in Dubai."

Piquet tops GP2 test Piquet tops GP2 testNelson Piquet Jr has taken his Piquet Sports entry to the top of the timesheets with a last-gasp lap to topple GP2 series new boy Timo Glock from the top of the standings. Nelson’s lap of 1:15.799 was almost three tenths quicker than Timo’s best on the German's first ever outing in a GP2 series car. Timo made a great impact on his first and only day of GP2 series testing in 2005. He hands his ART Grand Prix car over to Formula 3 EuroSeries champion Lewis Hamilton tomorrow.

Macau F3 Grand Prix winner Lucas di Grassi (Durango) made up for a disappointing morning with the third quickest time this afternoon, with Andreas Zuber (BCN Competicion) fourth, Borja Garcia (BCN Competicion) fifth and Franck Perera sixth (DAMS.)

The afternoon session was highly competitive once again, with the whole field covered by only three seconds.

Pos Name Team Laps Best Time
1 Nelson Piquet Jr Piquet Sports 25 1:15.799
2 Timo Glock ART Grand Prix 31 1:16.069
3 Lucas Di Grassi Durango 25 1:16.139
4 Andreas Zuber BCN Competicion 38 1:16.222
5 Borja Garcia BCN Competicion 20 1:16.313
6 Franck Perera DAMS 41 1:16.373
7 Hayanari Shimoda ART Grand Prix 33 1:16.414
8 Milos Pavlovic Super Nova International 39 1:16.618
9 Olivier Pla DPR 27 1:16.673
10 Luca Filippi Coloni Motorsport 19 1:16.680
11 Alexandre Negrao Piquet Sports 28 1:16.737
12 Alvaro Parente Arden International 25 1:16.757
13 Stephen Kane iSport International 21 1:16.777
14 Michael Ammermueller Arden International 31 1:16.938
15 Mike Conway iSport International 32 1:17.097
16 Fernandino Monfardini DAMS 44 1:17.159
17 Bruce Jouanny Coloni Motorsport 29 1:17.206
18 Juan Cruz Alvarez Racing Engineering 40 1:17.215
19 Alvaro Barba Campos Racing 35 1:17.265
20 Sean McIntosh DPR 45 1:17.477
21 Javier Villa Racing Engineering 30 1:18.191
22 Jason Tahinci Campos Racing 49 1:18.479
23 Thomas Biagi Durango 37 1:18.620

* In line with GP2 series technical regulations, this morning’s pace setter Jose Maria Lopez has had all of his lap times from today taken away, after his Super Nova International car was found to be underweight in scrutineering.

Tracy's focus remains Champ Car Tracy's focus remains Champ CarThis TSN.ca article says, Paul Tracy (pictured right) wants to try stock cars, but he says Champ Car road racing will remain the focus of his driving career.  There are six major NASCAR events before the 2006 Champ Car World Series begins in April.

If Tracy can wrangle a ride, he'd be able to test the oval waters without backing away from the series that has been his bread and butter.

So, he'll be busy this winter doing tests in a variety of machines. The Toronto driver heads to Florida for runs beginning Monday.

"My plan right now is to do as much as I can over the winter," he said during a Wednesday news conference to promote the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto next July. "But my focus is on the Champ Car World Series and trying to win the championship in 2006."

He's not foolhardy enough to quit a top-paying job with Forsythe Racing to be a backup driver in another form of motor racing.

"The best thing to do is go and try to get into some (NASCAR) races and get some experience and see if it's what you want to do before you dive into something head first," he explained. "I've made a commitment to Champ Car and I've got the latitude to try to do some things and see what it's all about."

Tracy's desire to get into stock cars derives from his belief NASCAR will add a Canadian race in 2007, and he wants to be part of it. More....

FitzBradshaw Racing announces new Crew Chief FitzBradshaw Racing announces new Crew ChiefFitzBradshaw Racing announced today that it has hired Butch Hylton as crew chief for driver Joel Kauffman and the No. 12 Supercuts Dodge Charger.

Hylton has an impressive Busch Series record as crew chief which includes seven wins and 11 poles. Equally as impressive, he has earned one top-five finish in the driver points standings (2004) and two top-five finishes in the owner points standings (2002-2003), capturing the championship in 2003. Hylton has worked with many of NASCAR’s top drivers including Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin.

“I am excited to join FitzBradshaw Racing and have the opportunity to work with a rising young talent like Joel Kauffman,” said Hylton. “He has shown everyone that he has potential and talent, and I hope we can build a team to help him capture the Rookie of the Year title next season.”

New name, new face for Honda F1 team New name, new face for Honda F1 teamHonda Racing F1 Team is the new name chosen by Honda for its Formula One team following the acquisition by Honda Motor Co. Ltd of the full 100% shareholding in B·A·R Honda.

The name has been selected to reflect Honda's rich and successful heritage in the sport - a theme which will permeate every element of the team's new identity.

During its first two generations of Formula One competition - from 1964 to 1968 and from 1983 to 1992 - Honda won eleven world titles in both the Constructors' and Drivers' championships with a total of 71 race wins.

Taking inspiration from these historic Honda cars, the Honda Racing F1 Team car entry for the 2006 season will be the RA106 and the new V8 Honda engine will be the RA806E, consistent with the nomenclature from its previous two generations of F1 competition. zzzz

The team's full competition entry name will be Lucky Strike Honda Racing F1 Team. Whilst founding partner and former shareholder British American Tobacco has agreed to sell its equity in the team, 2006 will see a continuation of its innovative Lucky Strike title sponsorship program and the brand identity will continue to form the basis of the race car livery next season.

Commenting on the new team name, Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer, said: "Over the past few weeks I have been delighted to observe the progress we have made in the transition to Honda ownership. The name change is perhaps the clearest manifestation of the fact that we are now all part of Honda. It creates a focal point for the team culture going forward, and with an eye towards Honda's proud heritage, the name reminds us all that we have the depth, determination and resource required to fulfill our racing ambitions."

Although the team's 2006 race car livery will have a familiar feel, the team has unveiled an exciting new look for its '06 Concept car, which the team began testing this week in Barcelona. Honda Racing White provides the base canvas, a color which has been synonymous with the Honda motorsport identity since the RA271, driven by Ronnie Bucknum, marked Honda's F1 debut at the Nürburgring in 1964. The more familiar red, combined with elements of the Lucky Strike brand's color palette, complete this striking new livery, which will be used throughout the winter testing period leading up to the track debut of the RA106 race car.

The '06 Concept car combines this year's B·A·R Honda 007 race chassis with the newly-designed 2006 rear end components, including the all-new Honda V8 engine. The Concept car plays a vital role in the development of next year's car, allowing for the early running of the new powertrain, gearbox and rear suspension assembly.

Whilst the Concept car livery is already on show at the Circuit de Catalunya, the new team name was confirmed by the FIA today in its publication of the official 2006 team entry list and will be introduced with immediate effect.

In addition, the FIA has published the 2006 driver entry list, which confirms that the team's driver line-up of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button will compete with driver numbers 11 and 12 respectively. The allocated driver numbers reflect the team's position in the 2005 Constructors' Championship, with Jenson relinquishing his right, as the incumbent driver, to the lead entry number and handing it to Rubens after learning how special the number has been to him throughout his career. Honda

Honda 1-2 in Barcelona Thursday Honda 1-2 in Barcelona Thursday
1 . J. Button - BAR Honda V10 - 1:14.145 (+ 0.000 ) - 94 laps
2 . A. Davidson - BAR Honda - 1:15.273 (+ 1.128 ) - 78 laps
3 . R. Zonta - Toyota TF106 V8 - 1:16.647 (+ 2.502 ) - 60 laps
4 . M. Webber - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1:17.282 (+ 3.137 ) - 66 laps
5 . P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes MP4-21B V8 - 1:17.449 (+ 3.304 ) - 79 laps
6 . F. Montagny - Renault R25 V10 - 1:17.592 (+ 3.447 ) - 86 laps
7 . J. P. Montoya - McLaren Mercedes MP4-21B V8 - 1:17.763 (+ 3.618 ) - 61 laps
8 . N. Rosberg - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1:17.805 (+ 3.660 ) - 44 laps
9 . R. Schumacher - Toyota TF106 V8 - 1:17.982 (+ 3.837 ) - 48 laps
10 . R. Kubica - Renault R25 V10 - 1:17.997 (+ 3.852 ) - 41 laps
11 . D. Coulthard - Red Bull Cosworth V10 - 1:18.318 (+ 4.173 ) - 85 laps
12 . S. Speed - Scuderia Toro Rosso RB1 V10 - 1:19.053 (+ 4.908 ) - 82 laps
13 . G. Mondini - Renault R25 V10 - 1:19.093 (+ 4.948 ) - 40 laps
14 . R. Doornbos - Red Bull Cosworth V10 - 1:19.114 (+ 4.969 ) - 110 laps.
Lexus latest manufacturer to join ALMS Lexus latest manufacturer to join ALMSCulminating an unprecedented week of competitor growth, the American Le Mans Series announced today Lexus as the second of two elite manufacturers that in a three-day span have made commitments to field a two-car, factory-backed racing program for the 2006 season.

For its "Passionate Pursuit of Perfection," Lexus will compete with a pair of IS 350 sport sedans in the American Le Mans Series' GT2S class.

"Much like we hope the new IS will become, we view the American Le Mans Series as an aspirational series," said Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Bob Carter. "It's an ideal fit for Lexus because it celebrates the technology and performance inherent in the best cars."

Scott Atherton, president and CEO of the American Le Mans Series, echoed those thoughts.

"The Lexus brand coming into the American Le Mans Series is as close to a natural fit as we could ever imagine," Atherton said. "When anyone mentions Lexus, many of the same attributes that are associated with the American Le Mans Series come to mind - words like luxury, high performance, leading-edge technology, style and quality describe both brands. On behalf of the series, and its manufacturers and competitors, we are proud and honored to welcome Lexus into our competitive ranks." zzzz

Lexus is the second premium manufacturer to announce its participation in the American Le Mans Series this week. Tuesday, BMW confirmed its plan to bring two factory-backed M3s to the series grid starting at the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March.

Lexus will join with its racing partner Team Lexus, which will build, develop and campaign the new cars with technical assistance and backing from Lexus. Work already has started on preparing the IS 350s for the 2006 American Le Mans Series, and driver lineups will be announced at a later date.

"Developing and racing two brand new cars in a series new to us will be a major challenge but one that we relish," said Team Lexus owner Chuck Goldsborough. "We've been building our team along with the new cars this year and are looking forward to some of the most exciting and competitive road racing in North America."

One by one, Atherton's promises of delivering new manufacturers and teams to the American Le Mans Series in his September "State of the Series" address at Petit Le Mans are materializing. And with an outstanding 10-race schedule that impacts nine of the top 20 markets across North America, the best television package in the series' history and 2005 season results indicating double-digit increases in sponsorship ROIs, times have never been better.

"The American Le Mans Series, with its 'premium brand of motorsport' platform, is experiencing an unprecedented level of growth and expansion, and Lexus has recognized this," Atherton said. "This represents more than the addition of another prestigious manufacturer to our ranks. Lexus will bring another wave of elite sponsors, high-end clientele and a level of activation that we expect will establish a new benchmark. Lexus' involvement in the American Le Mans Series will have a positive impact by every measure. But the best part is that there still is more good news to come."

Cars competing in GT2S are not eligible for the 24 Hours of Le Mans at this time. However, GT2S entries will be classified in the GT2 class of the American Le Mans Series and will be eligible to score championship points. Series officials are working closely with the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) to evaluate the involvement of GT2S cars in the American Le Mans Series with the possibility of making them eligible for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the future.

A1 Grand Prix
A1 team announces Legge test, possible drive A1 team announces Legge test, possible driveUPDATE The test session represents just one facet of a very busy December for Katherine Legge, who earned the 2005 BBS Rising Star Award for her outstanding Atlantic rookie season driving for Polestar Racing Group. Legge will accompany Kalkhoven, whose PKV Racing team sponsored Legge’s Atlantic efforts this season, to the Race of Champions event this weekend in Paris, France. Legge will then attend the Autosport Awards celebration in London on Sunday evening. After her test session in Dubai, Legge will fly to the United States where she will spend two days testing a PKV Racing Champ Car under the watchful eye of PKV co-owner and former Champ Car series champion Jimmy Vasser at Sebring International Raceway, December 20-21.

“I’m really excited about the Champ Car test with PKV as well,” said Legge. “Things couldn’t get much better for me at the moment.”

12/01/05 A1 Team Great Britain is to give Katherine Legge an outing in its A1 car at the Dubai circuit next week. Taking advantage of two additional test sessions at the forthcoming round of A1 Grand Prix of Nations, the 25-year-old from Northampton will be the first woman to drive an A1 car and will do so just two weeks after being the first female to drive a full F1 test in over a decade. Katherine has had a successful rookie season in Formula Atlantic, claiming three wins and finishing third in the championship and will be assisting the A1 Team Great Britain with the running in of a new car and engine. 

Driver strategy for A1 Grand Prix is proving to be like no other formula. Some teams have one driver while others have a pool of several to draw from. Following the driver shoot out pre-season to determine the two core drivers for A1Team.GBR, this is the first opportunity for the team to assess other potential drivers to add to the Robbie Kerr and Alex Lloyd line-up. 

John Surtees, A1 Team Great Britain: "I'm very pleased to be bringing a first to both A1 Team Great Britain and A1 Grand Prix by having a female driver in the car. It's by no means a first for Surtees which has at various times run ladies such as Davina Galica, Lella Lombardi and Desire Wilson in F1 cars. Katherine was one of the drivers on our list that we couldn't test before the season so we're taking the opportunity of the extra sessions in Dubai to assess her in the car. By doing so we have the chance of broadening our driver line-up and strengthening the team." 

Katherine Legge: "It's a fantastic opportunity to gain experience and represent my country. I'm massively grateful to John Surtees and the Arden team for the chance. It will be interesting to see how the A1, Champ Car and F1 cars compare. I've been watching the races with interest and am looking forward to getting behind the wheel. I've never been to the Middle East before and so I'm excited by the prospect. From my research into the circuit which will be new to everybody I hear the conditions will be a bit sandy! When I was testing with the Formula Atlantic car near Vegas we had sand on the track and it proved to be very slippery for the first few laps."

NJ Nets 'NASCAR Night' NJ Nets 'NASCAR Night'The Nets hosted their first-ever NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Wednesday Night, presented by Pocono Raceway, for their game against the Pistons. Drivers Rusty Wallace, Jeremy Mayfield and Carl Edwards (pictured right with fans, photo courtesy of NASCAR) attended as part of the Championship Week celebration in N.Y. Nets Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Brett Yormark was NASCAR VP/Corporate Marketing before joining the team in January. The Daily
NBC's Today Show covers NASCAR in NY NBC's Today Show covers NASCAR in NYNASCAR Nextel Cup Champion Tony Stewart and the nine other drivers in the Chase for the Nextel Cup were featured on NBC's “Today” show Wednesday morning. The drivers discussed the playoff and drove a “victory lap” around Manhattan. NBC's Al Roker acted as the grand marshal, introducing each driver from a mock starter's podium and giving the "Gentlemen, start your engines" charge.  Each driver had a passenger; Stewart's was NBC's Ann Curry.   NBC covered the drive by overhead views and Curry's reports from Stewart's car. The Daily
Racing News
Highlights of Motorsport Marketing Forum - Day 2 Highlights of Motorsport Marketing Forum - Day 2The sixth annual Street & Smith’s Sports Group Motorsports Marketing Forum continued Wednesday morning at the N.Y. Marriott East Side with a one-on-one interview with Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs. Gibbs, on managing sponsor relationships: “You are only as good as your last race and your last year. And the sponsors know that. For us that is such a big deal; taking care of the group [of sponsors] we represent on the track.”

More Gibbs: “At the end of the day, you have to perform on the racetrack. ... On top of that, you also have to make sure you take care of the sponsors’ needs. Each sponsor is different. For some the key is hospitality. For some the key is the print media and TV commercials. For some it is using that driver in appearances and for some it is a combination of everything. So each sponsor has something different they want to get out of the sport, so you have to tailor what you do for that sponsor.”

A panel session titled, “The NASCAR Chase for the Nextel Cup and the Impact on Sponsor Visibility,” included NASCAR VP Corporate Marketing Steve Phelps, UPS VP/Sponsorship & Event Marketing Patrick Guilbert, Sprint Nextel's Chad Willis and Office Depot Dir of Strategic Alliances Lynn Connelly. Willis, on the Chase: “We were fortunate that The Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup coincided with the entry of Nextel into the sport. A new format came in. A new sponsor came in. It synched up perfectly for us and the results we got were far greater than we ever anticipated.”

Connelly, whose company is primary sponsor of the No. 99 Ford driven by Carl Edwards, on marketing challenges of the Chase: “The challenge that I am finding with it is just the fact that you don’t know. It is hard to build a pretty robust activation plan if applying your budget against that when frankly you don’t know if they are going to be in or out. And it’s kind of late in the game when you really get the green light. So I find that a little bit challenging.”

NASCAR parade irks New Yorkers NASCAR parade irks New YorkersYesterday's NASCAR parade has Manhattan in an uproar.  New Yorkers generally are not 'car people' or race fans, so when NASCAR ran their cars through the streets of Manhattan yesterday, causing massive traffic jams, quite a stir was created.

“I’m impressed.  But knowing the congestion it’s caused, man, there’s a lot of upset people on this island” – NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Jimmie Johnson, on the Nextel Cup promotional drive through Manhattan N.Y. DAILY NEWS

NASCAR runs 24-page ad in USA Today NASCAR runs 24-page ad in USA TodayFlush with sponsors/advertisers, NASCAR has run a large 24-page supplement/ad in the USA Today newspaper, which has the largest circulation in the USA.
Yates fires Parrott Yates fires ParrottRobert Yates Racing GM Eddie D'Hondt told Sirius Satellite Radio's "Sirius Speedway" that Todd Parrott is no longer with RYR. D'Hondt said, "It was a very difficult decision to make, and it was made with a heavy heart, but we can't be sitting on our hands. We need to get both cars in the Chase next season, and to do that, some changes had to be made." D'Hondt said new crew chiefs "Slugger" Labbe and Tommy Baldwin are already on the job, and that the team has a full testing schedule between now and the end of the year.
Hornaday rounds out Harvick's Busch team Hornaday rounds out Harvick's Busch teamKevin Harvick Inc. announced that Ron Hornaday, who drove KHI's Craftsman Truck Series entry this season, will do so again in 2006, which has added 13 Busch races for KHI in its No. 33 Chevrolet next year.  Hornaday joins KHI co-owner Kevin Harvick, two-time Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart and road racing ace Ron Fellows who will all take turns in the No. 33, which will be sponsored by The Outdoor Channel.
Racing News
National Sprintcar League moving forward despite loss of Petty National Sprintcar League moving forward despite loss of PettyUPDATE #2 Richard Petty Driving Experience announced that it has withdrawn its support of the National SprintCar League effective immediately. "We formed this series with the intention of rebuilding and growing winged sprint car racing," said Kyle Petty. "We had a clear vision about how to undertake this. Unfortunately, our vision for the future of sprint car racing was not shared by all of the key stakeholders in the sport. We believe that a prolonged battle over control of the sport is not in the best interest of anyone involved. Hopefully, by stepping aside at this point, there is time for a common vision to emerge. We still believe that sprint car racing can thrive in the United States and we hope that the tracks, drivers, teams and sanctioning bodies will put their individual interests aside and work towards some common ground to unify this great motor sports platform. We appreciate everyone who supported us in this endeavor." Richard Petty Driving Experience /Williams Company PR 11/30/05 Australian Brian Healey, who is the leading official for NSL, acknowledged the challenges to National Speed Sport News, but said the series is moving forward. "We are acutely aware that the fans want answers now," said Healey. "The reality is that starting a major touring series takes a cooperative effort of many sprint-car racing's major players, and sometimes that takes longer than we all want it to take."

He acknowledged scheduling races is difficult. "Many pieces are in place to succeed," Healey said. "We just need the full support of a few key race promoters to take our next step."

Despite the wishes of the teams to continue on and the possibility of other investors coming aboard to help keep the series going, many believe this may be the first step toward a calming of the situation as track promoters have been playing the waiting game in deciding whether to book dates with the NSL or the long-standing World of Outlaws, which had retained six of its drivers from last season, while the others had announced intentions to race with NSL.

One major race-track promoter told NSSN, he thinks the competitors underestimated DIRT's overall position in the short-track world. "The drivers totally underestimated their value and they underestimated the value of the other properties, which DIRT MotorSports owns," he said on Friday following Thanksgiving.

In addition to the World of Outlaws Sprint Series, DIRT also operates the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, the DIRT Modified Series, the United Midwest Promoters, which sanctions late model and modified racing at countless tracks across the country, the Mid American Racing Series regional late-model division, Rolling Wheels Raceway, Volusia Speedway Park and Lernerville Speedway.  zzzz

As a result, some promoters were reluctant to book NSL dates for fears they may lose the chance to book events with other DIRT-operated divisions.

While the dispute is not over, DIRT Motorsports CFO and Vice President Brian Carter believes the Petty's withdrawal is a significant development on the sprint-car racing front.

"The preliminary plan communicated by the NSL was very reliant upon the marketing and organizational strengths/infrastructure of the Petty family and the Petty Driving Experience," Carter said. "This is a significant blow to those plans that will make it even more difficult to obtain the sponsorship and media coverage required to be successful. I think they said it best "overwhelming demands in getting a start-up series off the ground. The withdrawal of support from the Pettys only makes a very difficult task nearly impossible."

Carter says DIRT's scheduling of WoO events is nearly complete.

"Our scheduling process is well underway and nearly complete," Carter said. "The process has been way too slow and has cost us and the promoters valuable time needed to prepare for next season. We will be finishing up the schedule over the next week or so as we wrap up the television schedule and expect to announce some significant developments in the schedule shortly."

11/28/05 National Sprintcar League officials learned Tuesday (November 22nd) that the Richard Petty Driving Experience, and Richard and Kyle Petty would no longer be a part of the NSL. Citing overwhelming demands in getting a start-up series off the ground, the Pettys informed the NSL of their decision. Despite the loss, the National Sprintcar League is moving forward with plans to race 410 winged sprintcars in 2006.

“Sure, we regret that the Richard Petty Driving Experience has decided to withdraw from the new series. They’re good race people and we’ll miss them, but that is the only thing that has changed”, said Steve Kinser. The 20-time World Champion driver continued, “We look forward to forming the kind of relationships between tracks, race teams, drivers, sponsors, and most importantly the fans to carry 410 winged sprint car racing into the next decade.”

The National Sprintcar League is in constant communication with major track promoters in a continued effort to finalize a 2006 racing schedule. “We are acutely aware that the fans want answers now”, said Brian Healey, NSL official. “The reality is that starting a major touring series takes a cooperative effort of many of sprintcar racing’s major players, and sometimes that takes longer than we all want it to take.”  zzzz 

The National Sprintcar League is working on not only the 2006 racing schedule but also the details of a new website, and naming of a series sponsor. A television package is also part of the NSL master plan.  “Many pieces are in place to succeed”, said Healey. “We just need the full support of a few key race promoters to take our next step.”

Teams and drivers committed to the NSL in 2006 include Steve Kinser Racing (Steve Kinser), Tony Stewart Racing (Paul McMahan), Kasey Kahne Racing (Joey Saldana), Elite Racing Team (Jason Meyers), Roth MotorSports (Danny Lasoski), TW Racing (Brandon Wimmer), Rudeen Racing (Shane Stewart), Selma Shell Racing (Lucas Wolfe), P&P MotorSports (Brian Paulus), Sides MotorSports (Jason Sides), Parsons MotorSports (Tim Shaffer), and Carnahan MotorSports (Jason Solwold).

NASCAR does NY City - II NASCAR does NY City - IIMidtown Manhattan traffic got a new look on Wednesday morning, when 10 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series cars rumbled through the streets for the “NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Victory Lap presented by Sprint.”

The promotion featured a parade of the top 10 cars, with their drivers in full uniforms. The Victory Lap began at Rockefeller Center, where the drivers were interviewed on NBC’s The Today Show. The drivers passed through Times Square and a few side streets before finishing at 375 Park Avenue, the site of NASCAR’s New York office.

The Victory Lap was a highlight of “NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion’s Week presented by Sprint”, which celebrates the 2005 season and concludes Friday with the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series awards banquet at the historic Waldorf=Astoria Hotel.

With a police escort, the drivers navigated the route in about 20 minutes. Fan viewing areas were staged along the streets and the drivers were welcomed at the finish by a large gathering of fans and media.

Among the top 10 drivers was veteran Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge), who finished eighth in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings for his best finish in the point standings since 2002. When Wallace won the 1989 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title, the banquet was held in New York – but a procession of race cars through the streets was unheard of.

“It’s the last awards banquet for me as a driver,” said Wallace “It’s kind of bittersweet. It feels good to be in the top 10 in the last year I’m going to run. It’s been a great career.”  zzzz

According to NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Marketing Steve Phelps, who oversees the sanctioning body’s New York office, the event signified NASCAR’s ever-growing presence in New York.

"NASCAR has been celebrating our champion in New York City for 25 years,” said Phelps. “We've had our corporate marketing headquarters here since 1998.  On any given weekend, New York is one of NASCAR's biggest markets, with fans as passionate as anywhere.  The sport's fans in New York deserve a special treat and we're grateful to Sprint Nextel and our top 10 ‘Chasers,’ the New York City Sports Commission, the City's Department of Transportation, and New York's Finest for helping to bring these loyal fans another unforgettable Victory Lap."

As Champion’s Week draws to a close, the schedule intensifies with two major media events and the awards banquet on Friday evening. The following is an overview of Thursday and Friday morning’s events:

  • NASCAR opens NYSE … At 8:45 Thursday morning, The New York Stock Exchange will share in the Champion’s Week activities. The top 10 drivers, Sprint Nextel Chairman Tim Donahue and NASCAR Chief Operating Office George Pyne will ring the bell to start the trading day at the New York Stock Exchange.
  • France to deliver ‘State of the Sport’ address … NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France will address the media during NASCAR’s annual press conference and luncheon, Thursday afternoon at Cipriani on 42nd Street. France will share his thoughts on the recently-completed racing season and will be available for a question and answer session with the media. Tim Donahue will also address the media, discussing his company’s second year as title sponsor of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Champion Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet) and the rest of the top 10 drivers along with Raybestos Rookie of the Year Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet), NASCAR Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) will be available for media interviews at this event.
  • Champions gathering … It’s Stewart’s week to celebrate his second championship, but he isn’t the only title-winner in town. Along with national series champions Stewart, Truex and Musgrave, the 2005 champions from each of the NASCAR’s regional touring series and the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series are in New York. They’re enjoying a VIP experience and are scheduled to attend the awards ceremony on Friday. The champions, including Andy Santerre (Busch North Series), Mike Duncan (West Series), Tony Hirschman (Whelen Modified Tour), Junior Miller (Whelen Southern Modified Tour), Justin Diercks (Midwest Series), Jeff Jefferson (Northwest Series), Jeff Fultz (Southeast Series), Jim Pettit II (Southwest Series) and Peyton Sellers (NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series) will join Stewart, Truex and Musgrave for the annual NASCAR champion’s group photo, on Thursday at Cipriani. It is the only time during the year when all of NASCAR’s champions are brought together.
  • Star-studded breakfast … Friday’s schedule begins with the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) / Myers Brothers Breakfast, in the Starlight Room at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel. The event kicks off the final day of Champion’s Week with several special award presentations – which altogether represent over $750,000 in prize money. The awards include: Budweiser Pole Award (Ryan Newman, No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge), Clevite Engine Builder Award (Mark Cronquist, Joe Gibbs Racing), Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge Award (Ryan Newman), Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award (Tony Stewart), MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award (Tony Stewart), Mechanix Wear Pit Crew of the Year Award (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet crew), Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Year Award (Ryan Newman), Commit Lozenges Commit to Win Award (Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge), WIX Filters Lap Leader Award (Tony Stewart), USG Improving the Finish Award (Elliott Sadler, No. 38 M&M’s Ford) and the Sunoco Diamond Performance Award (Tony Stewart). Two award winners have yet to be announced and will be unveiled on Friday morning: the Chex Cereals Most Popular Driver Award and the NMPA’s Myers Brothers Award.
Crown Royal on Busch Crown Royal on BuschCrown Royal would have disassociated itself from Kurt Busch after his run-in with the law even if Busch had been leading the Nextel Cup standings with two races left in the season, a company representative said Tuesday. "Our position would not have changed," said Dan Sanborn, director of sports marketing for Diageo North America, the parent company of Crown Royal whiskey. "We do not condone that sort of behavior." Roush Racing subsequently suspended Busch for the season's final two races. In a Tuesday session about spirits sponsorships in NASCAR at the Sports Business Journal/Sports Business Daily Motorsports Marketing Forum, Sanborn and other liquor company representatives said Busch's reported behavior would have been sufficient for them to end a relationship with him. "We would have done exactly the same thing," said John Hayes, brand director for Jack Daniel's. "It would have been two-faced for us to be speaking about being responsible and then turn our cheek to that." Charlotte Observer
Stewart to get in shape Stewart to get in shapeTony Stewart went on a shopping spree last week that he hopes will lead to a new and improved Nextel Cup champion. "I went out and bought $17,000 worth of exercise equipment for my house," Stewart said Wednesday as he prepared for yet another of the dozens of media events this week in New York, leading up to Friday night's NASCAR awards ceremony at which he will collect checks for more than $5.8 million. Most of that goes to his Joe Gibbs Racing team, but Stewart will certainly keep more than enough of it to consider his latest shopping trip pocket money. And, he said it will certainly be worth it as an important next step in his maturation process. The 5-foot-9 Stewart, who probably weighs at least 20 pounds more than the 185 listed in the NASCAR media guide, admittedly loves fast food and has often made himself the brunt of his own jokes about how out of shape he is. FoxSports
ISC announces Washington track financial details ISC announces Washington track financial detailsA Florida racetrack developer will ask Washington state taxpayers to pitch in 52 percent of the estimated $345 million cost to build a NASCAR speedway near Bremerton. International Speedway Corp. (ISC) Wednesday unveiled the financing proposal it will try to get lawmakers to agree to when the state Legislature convenes Jan. 9 in Olympia. Under the proposal, the state would borrow $166 million to help fund the track, ISC would pay $166 million and $13 million would come from a Kitsap County admissions tax on speedway tickets. The plan immediately drew skepticism from Margarita Prentice, chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and the state Treasurer Mike Murphy. Murphy has earlier said numbers ISC is using to calculate the track's economic benefits are "hokey." But ISC projections show the state general fund would pay nothing and reap $43 million after 25 years because of the additional tax money the track would bring in. Seattle Times  zzzz

Official Release: International Speedway Corporation  announced today that its subsidiary, Great Western Sports Inc.  has released its financing proposal for a $345 million motorsports facility in Kitsap County, Washington, approximately 20 miles outside downtown Seattle. The financing plan proposes a public-private partnership where GWS will pay $166 million, or nearly half of project costs, plus any construction cost overruns and costs related to the regular maintenance and operation of the facility. Kitsap, Pierce and Mason Counties will form a tri-county Public Speedway Authority (PSA), and will issue bonds to help finance construction of the track. The bonds will be repaid through a sales tax credit issued by the state to the PSA, and from a local tax on the facility. "The financing proposal is a major step forward in our efforts to develop a premier motorsports facility in the Seattle area," said Lesa France Kennedy, President of ISC. "This significant investment demonstrates our commitment to bring motorsports entertainment to this underserved market. We believe our proposal represents a win/win opportunity for all parties involved, including the local communities which stand to benefit from the economic gains associated with our project. We will continue with our project due diligence, including the introduction of necessary state legislation early next year, and we remain optimistic that we will be racing in Washington in 2010." GWS plans to introduce state legislation to create the PSA and authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds to help finance the project. The Washington Legislature convenes in January and concludes in March 2006. ISC PR

Wilson warns Champ Car against making car narrower Wilson warns Champ Car against making car narrowerUPDATE A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, I've been thinking about the possible repercussions of a narrower 2007 Champ Car, especially regarding the cornering speeds. We all can see the visual speed differences between a F1 car taking a corner and a Champ Car, as the current Champ Car doesn't look nearly as aspiring. Yes, there have been discussions about sidewall height and others. While that may show a more visually impressive weight transfer as the car corners or negotiates successive corners, it doesn't address the 'speed gap' problem. With the 2007 Champ Car being narrower, the problem could potentially get worse. I was wondering, is there any talk about Bridgestone producing a generally 'stickier' tire to not only make up this difference but improve upon current cornering speeds? We all know how much the lap times have dropped in F1 due to the current tire war. D. Hughes, Cincinnati, OH

Dear Derek, Bridgestone already supplies a softer 'Alternate' tire and in 2006 it will be available at all tracks except the oval in Milwaukee. The key to speed is weight.  As long as Champ Car wants to compromise its product to race on one or two oval tracks per year it will always be heavy for safety reasons.  Although the 2007 car will be faster than the current car because it will be about 150 pounds lighter, it would have been even faster yet had they not made it narrower. Mark C. 

11/30/05 Justin Wilson is the tallest driver in Champ Car and although he believes in the overall concept of the '07 Champ Car, he's a little concerned about making the car smaller and narrower.

"All in all, I think it should be a good, positive move for the championship," Wilson says about the '07 car. "Obviously, I personally hope they don't make it much smaller, mainly the cockpit size. But also, I've driven narrow track cars and I've been a little bit disappointed whenever I've gone from wide track to narrow track cars. It's not as nice to drive, not as pleasing, and more nervous and probably slower through the corners. So it's harder to overtake. You lose a lot of mechanical grip by going to a narrow track.

"So I hope they don't go to too narrow a track. But I think some of the things they've suggested are going to make the racing better and more entertaining." ChampCar.ws

Alonso 'like Senna' - Faure Alonso 'like Senna' - FaureRenault president Patrick Faure says Fernando Alonso sometimes reminds him of the great Ayrton Senna.

''(Senna) wanted to win races and the rest was secondary,'' said the Frenchman at an event in Paris to hail the team and its Spanish driver's triumph.

Oviedo-born Alonso, however, is uncomfortable with the plaudits, insisting that - despite grand prix immortality - he's still the same as the shy 19-year-old who debuted for Minardi in 2001.

But he admitted to still having a killer instinct to win.

''I want to beat the competitors in whatever I do -- whether it is F1 or beating people playing tennis.''

According to recent speculation, Fernando copped a tasty bonus - on top of his staple $9m a year - when he wrapped up the 2005 drivers' crown.

So what has he splashed out on?

''I didn't buy anything,'' he smiled.

''I come from a modest family and I don't like the life of rich people so I didn't want to buy anything expensive because I don't know how to use it.''

BMW Sauber retain Villeneuve BMW Sauber retain VilleneuveIt's now official: Jacques Villeneuve will line up alongside Nick Heidfeld for the BMW Sauber F1 Team in 2006.

As BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen explained: "We took a close look at Jacques' performance level at the end of last season. After an extremely tough first half of the year - which showed that even a former World Champion cannot come back after a period away and be competitive from day one - he got closer and closer to his teammate over the second half of the season. We are in no doubt that Jacques will make the BMW Sauber F1 Team stronger." "Between 1999 and 2004 I experienced first-hand the difficulties and complexities involved in setting up a new team," said Villeneuve, "but I've never been afraid of a challenge. Sauber was already a good team and now we also have the resources of BMW behind us. I will do everything I can to contribute to the success of the BMW Sauber F1 Team." Now living in Villars, Switzerland's adopted son will start work for the new team in the first testing session in Jerez on 8th December.

Villeneuve was crowned Formula One World Champion faster than any other driver before or since after making his debut in the series. In 1996, his rookie year, the Canadian finished second in the overall standings behind his then Williams Renault team-mate Damon Hill. The following year, he fended off the challenge of Michael Schumacher to go one better and take the title for the same team. zzzz

On 22nd June 2005, BMW made public its commitment to head its own team in Formula One after taking a majority interest in the Sauber team from 2006. The signing of Nick Heidfeld was announced on 16th September, followed by confirmation of the official team name and the identity of key positions in the team - with Willy Rampf (Chassis/Hinwil) and Heinz Paschen (Powertrain/Munich) as Technical Directors - on 14th November. The partnership with Petronas was then finalized and announced on 24th November.

Testing with the Sauber C24B interim chassis (modified for the BMW P86 V8 engine) got underway on 28th November. At the same time, the development of the V8 engine and 2006 chassis has continued apace in Munich and Hinwil respectively.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
New Bull to test in December
V10 gives STR 'big' boost
'New' Toyota is F1 trick
Alonso takes home F1 racer
Button keeps V10 on song
Toyota to solve Trulli issue
Renault v. McLaren in '06
Berger spurns 'GP Masters'
F1 to hit TV as comedy
Schu - 21-time F1 champ?
V8 leaves DC 'disappointed'
Zonta softens V8 slam
GPMA open talks with F1 owner
Toyota positive after first tests Toyota positive after first testsSince the surprise reveal of the TF106 car on Monday, the Toyota Racing team has been busy stretching the legs of its new 2006 car at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. Comprising a new rear-end, modified front suspension, new specification RVX-06 engine and new Bridgestone tires, the entire team faced a series of unknowns in Spain, but midway through this week's four day test session, initial results have proven encouraging.

With three months to go before the opening race of 2006 in Bahrain, the Cologne-based team is under no illusions as to how much development still needs to be done, but is confident that the early launch of the TF106 will prove advantageous in the long-run. A similar strategy was used in 2005 to good effect, highlighted by the consequent string of podium results and Toyota's most successful season to date.

After two days of testing, Jarno Trulli has amounted an impressively reliable and relatively trouble-free 147 laps and leaves Barcelona buoyed by the work of his team and the positive initial results of the TF106. zzzz

How was your feeling in your first day testing the V8?
"In general it was very positive. I was extremely surprised by the car handling and the engine power and the general feeling of the car. In the straight away the car was correct. It was running well and it was competitive. A very good start!"
What about the new tires?
"It was a very good, very positive start. We have done several laps which have been consistent, reliable. The first feeling has been good. We still have some work to do with the front suspension in terms of response. But I am confident as the engineers are already working on these matters since a long time for fixing at the tests. We hope to solve this before the first race."

Ricardo Zonta, recently confirmed as Panasonic Toyota Racing's third driver for 2006, is only halfway through his testing program for the week. After a strong first outing, Ricardo's second day was hampered by a fuel pump problem that cut his running short. Not a man to be kept down for long, Ricardo was soon back out on track in the afternoon and is confident that normal service will resume tomorrow.

Ricardo, what were you concentrating on today and yesterday?
"Yesterday I have tested tire set-up and today I have not made so many laps. We still have a lot of work to do but I am here until Friday."

Why did you not drive many laps today?
"I had some difficulties with my fuel pump and the team has decided to change it. As it takes some time, I was not able to drive in the morning."

What was the first impression of the V8 comparing to the V10? Do you feel less power?
"It was very positive. Barcelona is a good track for testing the V8 with fast corners where we do not feel the lost of power."

What is the summary of testing new car, new engine and new tires?
"I am very impressed with the job done on the new car until now and of course we need to work hard to understand how all these 3 points work together."

The Barcelona test sees Panasonic Toyota Racing test for the first time with Bridgestone tires and initial results are looking promising.

Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director, Chassis: What were the main programs of the two first test days?
"We did not really have any major mechanical problems. Jarno especially had two reasonably trouble free days running. On Ricardo's car we had hydraulic leak on the first day and problem on the second day with a development fuel pump, but nothing that really affects our test program. Over all the cars have been very reliable for the two days."

What were the conclusions of the tests?
"The conclusion for us is it was very positive. We have made good progress. The lap times look competitive, which is pleasing, but I think there is still a lot to come from improving the car further."

Could you tell in this stage that the Bridgestone tires are fitting with the new TF106?
"In general we worked with Bridgestone, our technical partner, to understand the tires. We still have a lot of work to do, but on the other side we did not have real problems to achieve a balance on the car with the new tires."

What is the advantage to test a new car before the competitors?
"For us the fact that we are testing early we can work on the reliability of the new car and the V8 engine, and we've got time to fix any major issues. Plus the fact that our development work with Bridgestone is with the new car, which will avoid any further changes. I think this gives us a good advantage over our competitors, combined with the ability to introduce last minute changes up to the first race."

Ricardo Zonta will be joined by Ralf Schumacher for the remaining two days of this week's Barcelona test, when the German will get his first taste of the TF106. Toyota

Solid start for BAR Honda Solid start for BAR HondaBAR Honda’s winter testing program kicked off yesterday morning at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. Jenson Button and Anthony Davidson are driving for all three days of the test. The weather in Barcelona was cold and sunny, with the very low early morning temperatures preventing much running before 10.30am.

Davidson drove the V8 2006 Concept car for its first shakedown run. He completed a total of 40 laps with a satisfactory first day of running for the new chassis. Button alternated his time on-track between this year’s 007-06 chassis and the 006-06 chassis from the 2004 season. He completed 75 laps and 27 laps respectively in the two cars. Davidson continues driving the Concept car today, with Button in chassis 007-06. Source BAR Honda

Fernando Alonso gets his title winning R25 Fernando Alonso gets his title winning R25Following Renault's historic double world championship victory in 2005, the first Formula 1 titles won by a mass-market automotive manufacturer, the Renault F1 Team this evening took the opportunity to celebrate among friends in the historic heart of the company, Boulogne-Billancourt, south-west of Paris.

Amidst an evening for team members, partners and Renault employees which included acrobatic displays, speeches and a special surprise gift for Fernando Alonso, Renault Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn explained the importance and impact of double world championship victory for the Renault brand.

"This victory is important because it comes at a moment of transition for Renault, as the company prepares to enter new markets. We must associate this winning car and team to our products on the road, transposing strong Formula 1 values such as reliability and technological excellence. It is also important to capitalize on our success in markets where Renault is little known, such as China, Russia and others into which we are expanding, to tell them that Renault are champions."

The event also marked an important opportunity to acknowledge the unstinting commitment and support of Renault in the team's success, both in terms of technical collaboration but also passionate motivation.
"The impact of this victory has been enormous," explained Renault F1 Team President Patrick Faure. "We have seen it every day within the Renault family, which extends from our employees to our dealers, our suppliers and of course our customers throughout the world. Now, we must exploit this success. In the short term, by traditional methods: communication, advertising and a strong F1 presence in the tens of thousands of dealerships across the globe. But in the medium term, this means a range of products and sporting accessories that can forge closer links between Formula 1 and the Renault product."

Celebrations naturally focused on the successes in 2005, but also highlighted the team's road to victory since Renault returned to Formula 1 as a works manufacturer in 2002. From fourth place in the constructors' championship in its opening season, the team has made rational, solid progress each year, hitting its objectives while honing its competitiveness.

In 2005, Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella seized their opportunity with the R25, which married race-winning speed with exceptional reliability, to bring Renault its first world championship success as a 100% works team.

To conclude the evening, Carlos Ghosn offered Fernando Alonso a special gift: his championship-winning R25, to mark the historic relationship between the young Spaniard and the French manufacturer. "I saw a big box when I arrived this evening, but to have this car at home is really a dream come true!" enthused Fernando. "It is a fantastic present!" Renault

Shell announced as official fuel Shell announced as official fuelShell and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), organizer of the “24 Heures du Mans”, are very proud to announce a major technical partnership that will introduce Shell as the official fuel supplier to the legendary motor race from 2006.

The three-year deal means that for the first time, Shell’s high performance V-Power fuel technology will be put to the test through 24 hours of the world’s most grueling motor racing. With an unrivalled racing history, covering over five decades of on-track success at the top-level of international motorsport, Shell was chosen by the ACO for its pioneering fuel technology and its ability to develop more environmentally sustainable racing fuels.

The “24 Heures du Mans” is widely regarded as the ultimate test of performance and endurance, setting a unique challenge to drivers, engineers and scientists. As a result, it is the perfect testing ground for proving the outstanding performance of Shell V-Power fuel technology - already chosen by countless drivers around the world and by the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One race team.

With increasing attendance, TV viewership and press interest in the race, the “24 Heures du Mans” is bigger and better than ever. Now, with Shell on board, and major improvements to the circuit itself, 2006 is set to be one of the most exciting years yet, in what will be the ACO’s centenary.

Track News
Aussie GP signs up three new sponsors Aussie GP signs up three new sponsorsThe Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) is pleased to announce and welcome three new sponsors for the 2006 FORMULA 1(TM) Foster's Australian Grand Prix.

Dodo Australia is an Official Sponsor of the 2006 FORMULA 1(TM) Foster's Australian Grand Prix and the Official Sponsor of the Dodo Formula 3s at the 2006 FORMULA 1(TM) Foster's Australian Grand Prix. This great involvement adds to Dodo's commitment to motor sport in Australia, with the Dodo Racing brand involved in Australia V8 Super Cars and Rally competitions. Dodo Australia is proud to be the 2006 Telecommunications provider to the Australian Grand Prix Corporation. This is a proud achievement for Dodo Australia, which confirms Dodo as a true competitor in the telecommunications market.
www.dodo.com.au/grandprix   zzzz

Repco is proud to be an Official Sponsor of the FORMULA 1(TM) Foster's Australian Grand Prix for the first time in 2006. Repco's involvement in Australian motor sport spans more than 80 years and the AGPC is delighted to welcome Repco as the naming rights sponsor of the Repco Historic Paddock and the Repco Historic Demonstration.
www.repco.com.au and www.repco.co.nz

PaperMate Sharpie is the leading supplier of writing instruments worldwide and the Official Sponsor of the Sharpie Autograph Stage at the 2006 FORMULA 1(TM) Foster's Australian Grand Prix. PaperMate Sharpie is renowned internationally as the celebrity autograph marker of choice and is delighted to offer fans the chance to get up close with all the big names in racing at the Sharpie Autograph Stage.

Racing News
GM wins 16 championships, sweeps NASCAR GM wins 16 championships, sweeps NASCAR
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