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Earnhardt damages showroom car Earnhardt damages showroom carIt is common for a car dealer to let someone take a new car out for a test drive.

It is uncommon, however, to have that car come back covered in dust and bugs, with a busted right-side mirror and a scrape along one rear fender. That's not to mention a couple hundred miles more on the odometer plus eyewitnesses who report the car was repeatedly being topped out at 130 miles per hour.

"When I found out what happened, I called the guy I loaned it to," said Philip Alderman, the owner of Colonial Chevrolet-Buick in Talladega.

"I asked what kind of insurance he had, and he said, `Man, I'm so sorry. I had no idea that fool (the driver) would smack that car into the wall like that."

The "guy" to whom Alderman lent the car - a 2006 black Monte Carlo - was Rick Humphries, the general manager of Talladega Superspeedway.

The "fool" who smacked the car into the wall was Dale Earnhardt Jr., doing a little "ride and drive" that allowed guest passengers to take a few laps around the newly resurfaced track at Talladega last month.

Newman gets new crew chief Newman gets new crew chiefMichael Nelson has been appointed Ryan Newman's crew chief at Penske Racing South for the 2007 season, and a source says former crew chief Matt Borland may yet be leaving the organization.

David Dembicki will serve as the team's race engineer.

That's the role Nelson held with the team prior to November's race at Phoenix. He served as the team's interim crew chief the last two races as Borland stayed in North Carolina. At the time, Newman said that he'd need a new crew chief as Borland wanted to come off the road to spend more time with his family. Scenedaily.com

Danica Patrick to be new GoDaddy girl Danica Patrick to be new GoDaddy girlGoDaddy.com®, known for its racy commercials and Internet dominance, will introduce its new spokesperson Danica Patrick Tuesday, December 5 at Phoenix International Raceway.  Go Daddy is also expected to make a formal announcement about its Super Bowl® advertising plans at the news conference.

Go Daddy® is sponsoring Andretti Green Racing and IndyCar® auto racing star Danica Patrick next season.  Tuesday, GoDaddy.com CEO Bob Parsons will be in Victory Lane with Patrick to officially welcome her to Go Daddy, display her 2007 Team Motorola IndyCar and take questions from the media during a break from a Go Daddy photo shoot.

The 24-year-old racing phenom captured the world’s attention as the first woman to ever lead the Indianapolis 500® in 2005.  A shining star in a sport dominated by men, Danica was voted the IndyCar Series' 2005 “Rookie of the Year.” zzzz

“Danica thrives on competition, speed and power.  She is edgy, innovative and fun!  All qualities we identify with at Go Daddy,” said Bob Parsons, CEO and founder of GoDaddy.com, the world’s No. 1 domain name registrar.  “She is redefining racing and is appealing, no doubt about it,” Parsons said.  “She is definitely Go Daddy material,” Parsons grinned.
Patrick’s combination of beauty and ability make her a hot commodity, evidenced by a recent feature on HBO’s “Real Sports.”  Parsons promises, “You can expect to see Danica starring in a Go Daddy commercial early next year,” but he has not yet discussed specifics.

Next season, Danica will drive the #7 Team Motorola® IndyCar for Andretti Green Racing®, which is owned by Michael Andretti, Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, and is the winningest team in Indy Racing League history.

HDNet to Present Live Coverage of The Race of Champions HDNet to Present Live Coverage of The Race of ChampionsThe Race of Champions - Nations Cup returns LIVE to HDNet for the third consecutive year, Saturday, December 16th at 11:00 am ET.  The broadcast features the return of 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and his X-Games partner Travis Pastrana as they try to capture a victory for Team USA.

The Race of Champions - Nations Cup is a unique racing competition that pits the world’s best circuit racers and off-road drivers against each other in a rally race format. The premise is simple: by using identical equipment and track, the drivers can prove themselves based on their talent alone.

“Once again, HDNet will be the only place in the US to see live coverage of these accomplished drivers racing to become the Champion of Champions,” said Mark Cuban, Co-founder and President of HDNet.  “We’re proud to bring this unique racing event to our viewers - not to mention that our high-def cameras bring a whole new brand of excitement to the race!” zzzz

This year, sixteen drivers from the worlds of F1, WRC, DTM, WTCC, NASCAR, Champ Car, Rally-Raids and Endurance will compete in a series of knockout heats in their own division to determine the champion of each class.

Then, in a shootout to determine who is the master of motorsport, the winners from the two divisions, rally and racing, go head-to-head in a super final. The winner is rewarded with the title “The Champion of Champions.”

"I’m thrilled about being able to represent Team USA again this season,” said Johnson. "It's a great event that pits the top drivers in Motorsports from around the world from every discipline. Typically, you don’t get the chance to race against the top competitors from Formula One, off-road, rally and Champ Cars, but this event allows you to do it with its creative format. I’m looking forward to getting out there and representing the United States and NASCAR."

Johnson, this year’s winner of the NASCAR Nextel Cup and both this year’s Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400, was a member of Team USA in 2002, claiming America’s first Nations Cup title in the Canary Islands with teammates Jeff Gordon and Colin Edwards. This will be the 31-year old Johnson’s third ROC event.

The 23 year-old Pastrana, perhaps best known for his exploits on motorcycles, competed in the ROC-Nations Cup in 2003, and in Paris last year.  This year, Pastrana has already clinched the North American Rally America series title, and last August, he took the gold medal in the inaugural X-Games Rally 12, beating none other than former World Rally Champion Colin McRae from Scotland.

Other featured drivers for this event are Formula 1 stars Jenson Button, David Coulthard, Rally World Champions Sebastien Loeb, Marcus Gronholm and Colin McRae, Dakar Champion Stephane Peterhansel, Champ Car Champion Sebastien Bourdais, 7-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, etc.

A1GP heads to Indonesia this weekend A1GP heads to Indonesia this weekendThe A1GP World Cup of Motorsport will return to the Sentul International Circuit, Indonesia from 8-10 December 2006 for the fifth round of the 2005/06 season, the series’ third consecutive stop in the Asia Pacific region.
The 4.12km circuit close to the town of Bogor played host to one of last season’s most spectacular Feature races when A1 Team Canada’s Sean McIntosh took the checkered flag after starting at the back of the grid. A1 Team Indonesia however was still the hero of the day, despite the performance of the Canadians as a 46,000-strong crowd packed the grandstands to see their national driver, Ananda Mikola, in action.
For this year’s race, driver Ananda Mikola will be joined by younger brother Moreno Soeprapto, both of whom have prior knowledge of the Sentul track as father Tinton Soeprapto is President-Director of the circuit. Mikola will no doubt be looking to improve on last year’s results, in which he finished 11th in the Sprint race and 14th in the Feature. zzzz
“Last season we had a very large crowd at the track,” commented Tinton, “We hope we’ll have the same amount this year, if not more. We’ve learnt a lot from the previous A1GP race and have made improvements to the highway, security and the toll road to make the operations more efficient. It’s the biggest motorsport event we’ve held here in a long time and we want to make sure everything runs smoothly and to plan.”
“We haven’t had so many high-profile races here at Sentul, we have had MotoGP but that was some time ago, so it’s really important that everything goes well as it’s the World Cup of Motorsport and a big event for the circuit and the country,” said Mikola. “I live very close to the track so I hope I will have a lot of supporters, which will make me more confident. I want to be on the podium but I think that anything can happen. All depends on me and the strategy – we will have to see.”
As well as the surrounding infrastructure, the Sentul circuit has also seen some major improvements since A1GP’s last visit. The circuit, built to F1 standards in 1994, has seen parts of the track re-surfaced and work done on the paddock and garage area. A1GP’s chief executive Bruce Holmes and events general manager, Ron Dickson visited the track today to inspect the progress made.
“I’m confident Sentul will be successful for A1GP and most importantly, well received by the many enthusiastic fans in Indonesia,” A1GP chief executive Bruce Holmes said. “Last season’s A1GP race at the circuit was very well attended, and we are sure that a large crowd comes out in full force to support the race and their national team, A1 Team Indonesia. Based on the turnout in the inaugural season last February, I am more than confident we will have a successful race once again in Indonesia.”
The weekend’s racing action kicks off with the rookie driver and developing nations’ session on Friday 8 December from 11.00 to 12.00. All teams can take part in the later practice session from 14.00 to 15.00. Final practice and qualifying for the Sprint race will take place on Saturday 9 December, with the Sprint and Feature races scheduled for Sunday 10 December at 11.00 and 15.00 respectively.
Richard Lyons to debut for A1 Team Ireland in Indonesia Richard Lyons to debut for A1 Team Ireland in IndonesiaRichard Lyons will drive for A1 Team Ireland in this weekend’s A1GP event in Sentul, Indonesia, the 27 year old making his debut in the series. He will be supported by Test and Reserve Driver John O’Hara and the team’s principal driver so far this season, Michael Devaney, who both will be on hand as the team concentrates on developing the set-up and performance of Ireland’s A1GP car.
Lyons, from Hillsborough but now living in Tokyo, has been a race and championship winner in cars similar to the Lola-designed A1GP machine, having previously won the 2004 Formula Nippon series in Japan. He is currently racing for Nissan in the Japanese Super GT series, for whom he also won the Championship in 2004 and made his debut this year in Australian V8 Supercars.  zzzz
Commenting on Lyons joining A1 Team Ireland, team owner Mark Kershaw said:
“Richard’s agreement to join us for next weekend’s race in Indonesia is important as it will give the team a real opportunity to improve its competitiveness. Under this year’s new rules we have been forced to split practice sessions between drivers while some of our rivals including the series-leading German team have run one driver in all sessions.”
“By putting Richard in the car this weekend he can compete in all the sessions, and he brings with him enormous experience. Since we can only enter one car in A1GP it’s been a tough decision to take given the enormous effort that John and Michael have put in this season, but their reaction has been fantastic - entirely supportive and professional. The whole team understands this is about giving Ireland’s A1GP team the best chance to progress.”
This will not be Lyons’ first visit to an A1GP event with the Irish squad. He advised both the existing drivers and engineer during last week’s A1GP event in Malaysia, a track on which he has excelled in recent years. “I am really looking forward to making my A1GP debut for Ireland,” said Lyons. “I have followed the series very closely since it started in 2005 and was happy to help the team out in Malaysia. The opportunity to race in Sentul was unexpected, but the strategy of being able to run an experienced driver in all the sessions should help us make progress against the opposition and I’m going to be giving it one hundred percent effort to help the team compete to win.”
"Sort of a Homecoming" for Jensen team "Sort of a Homecoming" for Jensen teamFrankie Muniz and his Jensen MotorSport team return to friendly turf this week for 2 days of testing with the Swift 016 Atlantic cars at the MSR Houston circuit in Angleton Texas.
It seems like such a long time since Frankie Muniz started his professional racing career. It is also hard to believe how popular the MSR Houston circuit has become since Jensen MotorSport first visited last in February.
Team owner Eric Jensen states, "We had a fun week of testing at MSR Houston last February. That was Frankie's first time in a race car, so it's incredible when I think about how much progress Frankie has made with his racing since."  Jensen continues, "Also, it's terrific how successful the MSR Houston circuit has become. It's one of the best circuits in the country, but like most businesses, its success is really related to quality people like track operators Leslie & Al Mitchell.
Returning from the BMW World Finals in Spain just last week, Frankie Muniz states, "I am really looking forward to getting back into my Atlantic car. I am so much more comfortable driving the Atlantic car, and with all of our off-season testing, I am excited to see our times relative to my friend Simona di Silvestro whom I raced in the BMW USA series this year."
Driving the #22 Jensen car will be Dubai based driver Christopher Zoechling. This will be Christopher's 2nd Atlantic test, as he tested the team's Swift 014 in September. Christopher (18) has been a front-runner in Formula Renault in both Europe & Asia the past two seasons.
For more details about Jensen MotorSport, or to attend one of our test sessions, contact us via e-mail at team@jensenmotorsport.com
RISI coming back for more RISI coming back for moreFresh off a championship-winning effort in 2006, Risi Competizione’s plans for the 2007 American Le Mans Series are well under way. Already the Houston-based team is planning on not just returning to defend its championship but to increase its efforts with two brand new Ferrari 430 GT Berlinettas.

While the team hasn’t confirmed a two-car assault for 2007, that clearly is the direction in which it would like to go. Talks are also ongoing with Ferrari about dedicating two of its top sports car drivers for the entire season and the class championship chase, say team officials.

In 2006, Risi used upward of 10 drivers to win four times and the GT2 team championship.
Boat racer hopes for smooth transition to IPS Boat racer hopes for smooth transition to IPSPaul Guadagnoli has had his eyes on the IndyCar® Series since he was a young boy. Like most racers with similar goals, he started racing go-karts at age 10. But, that's where the similarities end.

While most young racers progress into formula cars or sprint cars, Guadagnoli took to the water, earning 16 national titles and setting several world records while racing hydroplane boats.

Now, the 19-year-old plans to compete for his share of $3 million in prize money in the Indy Pro Series in 2007 with an eventual step up from the development series to the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.

Guadagnoli took the first step towards that goal by earning his rookie license in a private test with Brian Stewart Racing on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 22. zzzz

Guadagnoli quickly brought the 420-horsepower car up to speed, averaging less than 29 seconds per lap (about 190 mph).

"Paul was very fast at the test, very smooth," said Indy Pro Series technical director Butch Meyer, who issued the rookie license. "The kid's a natural. Everyone was very impressed."

Everyone except perhaps Guadagnoli himself.

"It's a pretty easy transition to make," the Deville, La., native said, downplaying the jump from boat to race car. "After about 15 laps, it all came really slow."

After competing in the highly competitive arena of boat racing where as many as 400 or 500 boats can show up on a weekend, Guadagnoli is happy to get the opportunity to pursue his goal on pavement.

"That's always been my dream since I was about six years old, IndyCars," Guadagnoli said. "When I turned 11, I really started having this drive for them, and I begged my dad and begged my dad, but he wasn't into it. He was into the boats. His dad was into the boats. So I said, 'I want to race something,' so I started racing boats."

Persistence and success have paid off for Guadagnoli who continues to raise sponsorship for the 2007 Indy Pro Series season.
"My goal is to be racing in the IndyCar Series," he said. "I really love the Indy Pro Series. If that's what it takes, to run those two or three years, I'm definitely going to do it. It's really a good place to start."

The 16-race Indy Pro Series season, which features seven races on ovals, seven on road courses and two on street courses, begins March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Crews joins SWE Indy Pro Series team Crews joins SWE Indy Pro Series teamDreaming big has never been a problem for CR Crews. He graduated early from an elite preparatory high school in Dallas and made his Indy Pro Series racing debut just five days after his 18th birthday. Now, he has his sights set on a full Indy Pro Series season in 2007 and possibly becoming the youngest starter ever in the Indianapolis 500.

On Dec. 1, Crews' plans for 2007 continued to take shape when he signed to drive with SWE, formerly Part Sourcing International, to compete in the entire 16-race Indy Pro Series schedule.

"It's great to have been able to put something together so early in the year," Crews said. "We've already had two tests, I'm in the shop every day developing a relationship with the team - it's a good head start to next year. I think we'll be fully capable of winning a handful of races and be able to compete for the championship." zzzz

Crews, who finished ninth in his Indy Pro Series debut last June at Watkins Glen and sixth on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, recently relocated to Brownsburg, Ind., so he can go to SWE's new "state-of-the-art" race shop every day.

Crews' dreams are as big as team owner Steve Eppard's, who formed the Part Sourcing International team midway through the 2006 season.

"After years of being involved with the Indy Racing League in various capacities, from a transmission specialist to an approved manufacturer, I am most excited to participate as a full-time Indy Pro Series team owner in 2007," said Eppard, whose team garnered four top-10 finishes in six starts.

"CR impressed me with his ability to adapt to very difficult situations with new teams and equipment at each event," Eppard said. "CR consistently moved forward to impressive finishes and did not damage any equipment. While he is only 18, his technical and his driving experience are well above anyone else I have ever worked with at his age.

"This team is going to be special, and I believe I have found a driver that is absolutely capable of fulfilling my goal of winning in the Indy Pro Series in 2007."

The partnership may also include an opportunity to compete in the 91st Indianapolis 500.

"We've been approached with a couple of opportunities surrounding the Indianapolis 500," Eppard said.

"The Indy 500 is a very realistic possibility at this point," Crews said.

Kodak to back Team Penske Kodak to back Team PenskeEastman Kodak Company will serve as an associate sponsor of Team Penske's IndyCar Series entries driven by two-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves and 2006 Indy 500 winner and three-time IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr.

"Our 2007 racing sponsorship program with Penske Racing will boost our brand visibility with key segments of motorsports fans," said Kodak's Gregory T. Walker, director and vice president, Presence Marketing and Multicultural Marketing, Corporate Marketing Office. "Helio and Sam are both Indy 500 champions with large, loyal followings. We're proud to support their 2007 campaigns."

Kodak's sponsorship on both of Penske's entries competing in the 17-race 2007 IndyCar Series Championship will be its first in IndyCar Series racing. Castroneves and Hornish also will take part in promotional appearances on behalf of Kodak.

 "We are thrilled to expand our relationship with Kodak in 2007," said Tim Cindric, President of Penske Performance, Inc. "Adding Kodak to our list of marquee brands supporting our IndyCar (Series) program further demonstrates the success of our platform."

The sponsorship deal was announced as part of Kodak's long-standing agreement with Penske Racing. The deal also covers the team's involvement in NASCAR with driver Ryan Newman.

Meijer sponsors AGR team Meijer sponsors AGR teamMeijer today announced its sponsorship of Andretti Green Racing, the winningest team in Indy Racing League history, for the 2007 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season. 

Meijer, the Midwest-based retail and grocery supercenter giant, will expand Andretti Green Racing's partnership portfolio as an associate sponsor on the #7 Team Motorola entry driven by 2005 IndyCar Series rookie of the year Danica Patrick. 

"We're proud to welcome Meijer to our team for the 2007 IndyCar Series season," said Michael Andretti, who co-owns Andretti Green Racing with partners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree.  "Meijer has 176 stores throughout the Midwest and the IndyCar Series schedule puts our cars in some of Meijer's most important markets.  We hope to get them into victory lane in 2007."  zzzz

Much like Michael Andretti has done in racing, Fred Meijer has continued his father's legacy by leading Meijer stores to new heights.  With extraordinary selection, low prices and great service, the second-generation Meijer has incorporated his family's ideals into Meijer stores. 

"Meijer is proud to partner with other family businesses like Andretti Green Racing and we know 2007 will be a victory for our families and race fans everywhere," said Stacie Behler, Vice President of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs for Meijer. 

Based in Grand Rapids, Mich., Meijer has always led the pack with innovative thinking and recently announced a free prescription drug program that provides antibiotics, free of charge, with a special emphasis on those most often filled for children.  The no-strings-attached offer is available to all Meijer customers, regardless of insurance, with no card, membership or purchase required. 

Since joining the Indy Racing League in 2003, Andretti Green Racing has claimed 23 IndyCar Series victories including the 2005 Indianapolis 500, four wins in the Pro Series and two IndyCar Series championships.  In 2007, AGR will also field an XM-sponsored Acura-powered Courage in the American Le Mans Series.

Haug predicts McLaren resurgence Haug predicts McLaren resurgenceMercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug says he has “no doubt” that McLaren will return to race-winning form.

“We aimed for first and we ended up being third,” he said in an interview Formula 1’s official website. We were honestly not quite the luckiest guys around and we should have won - in my personal judgment - at least in Monaco, in Hungary and in China, but we ultimately did not.

“The year before we won 10 out of 18 races, six of them in a row.

“There are ups and downs in Formula 1 which not only we experienced.

“Ferrari for example wasn't too strong in 2005 and they won seven out of nine races in the second half of this year's season.

“I have no doubt we will be strong again.”

“We are certainly very proud to have Fernando as the reigning two times world champion and Lewis as an upcoming talent in our team,” he said.

“It is quite easy to explain the philosophy behind our choice: Fernando proved to be the most successful Formula 1 driver in the past two years and Lewis was the most impressive driver climbing up the ladder of talent as we have seen by his winning the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2005 and the GP2 championship in 2006.”

Kodak to sponsor Newman in three Cup races Kodak to sponsor Newman in three Cup racesEastman Kodak Company will serve as primary sponsor of the #12 Dodge driven by Ryan Newman at three Nextel Cup races in 2007. Kodak will also sponsor Newman’s car in seven Busch Series races next year, and will be an associate sponsor of Penske Racing’s IndyCar Series entries driven by Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish, Jr. Plans call for Newman’s Dodge to wear red-and-yellow Kodak colors at Nextel Cup races in Talladega, Fontana, CA, and Watkins Glen, near Kodak’s headquarters in Rochester. At 33 other Cup events, Kodak will be an associate sponsor of the #12 Alltel Dodge. The seven Busch Series races where Newman will drive a Kodak EasyShare Gallery-sponsored car are Bristol, Texas, Darlington, Chicagoland, Watkins Glen, Fontana, and Richmond. Businesswire.com
Teenagers beat F1’s and IRL’s best in real race Teenagers beat F1’s and IRL’s best in real raceYou probably have never heard anything about them, but fifteen-year old Otávio Bonder and his team mates Antonio Ventre, José Eduardo Ventre, Bruno Pacetti and Lucas Rodrigues won the Granja Viana 500 Mil 10th edition on Sunday at Katrodromo International Granja Viana in Cotia, near São Paulo, defeating Formula 1 and Indy Racing League stars Felipe Massa, Rubens Barrichello, Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon, Nelson Piquet Jr., Ricardo Zonta, Luciano Burti and many other national hot-shoes.

The winning squad got the checkered flag with two laps of advantage over Barrichello's mates, after more than 10 hours of a close battle for the leadership in the country's most outstanding karting race.

Polesitter Massa failed to cross the finish line. He lost the first position right after the Le Mans-style start and was running second at the beginning of the second hour, when was unable to avoid a shunt against a kart that had just spun in front of him. A broken axle meant around 30 laps for repairs. Massa still rejoined the race and was taken over by his pals João Paulo Bertuccelli, Ruben Carrapatoso and Rafael Derani, until the last one parked the kart in the garages for the last time with a third engine broken. "There was nothing I could do. When I realized, the guy just a few meters ahead", the Ferrari ace explained. "It was a shame, because our pace was quite good and we were capable of finishing in the top three positions." zzzz 

With 10 laps remaining, Burti's team was second and trying to close the gap to the leaders, when suddenly the kart stopped. "I don't know what the problem was, but everything was perfect until that moment. I know we were not the fastest guys out there, even tough we displayed a steady pace. I liked very much to race against all of these young guys", the former Jaguar and Prost Grand Prix driver explained.

According to Barrichello, the second place was above his highest expectations. "We've got to celebrate, because our kart was not as quick as the ones driven by the drivers that arrived in front of us and even some that we happen to get past. We faced problems with a poor engine all the time", he pointed out. His long-term friend and also six times champion of the race Tony Kanaan agreed in all aspects of his words. "Only the people who don't know the Brazilian karting arena can be caught by surprise with the results. These guys are professionals and know perfectly how to get the job done."

Bourdais is now a father Bourdais is now a fatherEmma Camille Bourdais was born on Saturday, December 2, 2006 at 12:32 a.m to Claire and Sebastien Bourdais.  She weighed 6 pounds and 3 ounces and is 19.4 inches long.  Both Claire and Emma Bourdais are doing well.
Racing News
SPEED Performer of the Year Finalists SPEED Performer of the Year FinalistsSPEED has named six finalists for the inaugural SPEED Performer of the Year, including Fernando Alonso (Formula One), Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR), Nicky Hayden (MotoGP), Sebastien Bourdais (Champ Car), Sam Hornish Jr. (IRL) and Tony Schumacher (NHRA). The winner will be announced in February as part of the one-hour SPEED Performance Awards television special presented by BF Goodrich.

SPEED on-air personalities Bob Varsha, Dave Despain, Tommy Kendall, Ralph Sheheen and Dorsey Schroeder, along with SPEEDtv.com columnists Robin Miller and Tom Jensen led a panel of voters who submitted nominations, trimming the list of finalists to six with a preliminary round of voting. The winner will receive the Mario Andretti Trophy, created by bronze artist Elie Hazak.

SPEED panelist comments on the nominees:  zzzz
Johnson -- “Like the stick and ball sport playoffs, NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship rewards those who peak at the right time, the crucial final weeks of the season.  Jimmie Johnson was great all year, with plenty of wins, including the two big races – the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 – and when the pressure was on, he was superb.  Five straight top-two finishes down the stretch broke the backs of the competition and insured that the right guy won this year’s Nextel Cup. (Dave Despain)

Alonso -- Beating the world’s best F1 driver once is one thing, but beating him twice in a row … and on Michael (Schumacher’s) last year as a driver holds huge merit. (Dorsey Schroeder)

Hayden -- Nicky joined an elite group of American motorcycle road racing world champions with a dramatic comeback in the MotoGP finale in front of a sold-out house in bike-crazy Spain. He built a championship lead in part with a dramatic repeat victory in his home race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California, and then watched that hard-won lead disappear when he was taken out by his Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa in Portugal. That put Hayden eight points down to perhaps the greatest rider in history, seven-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi with just the Valencia round remaining. But Hayden never buckled, qualified on the second row, and finished on the podium while the great Rossi crashed and finished 13th, officially making Hayden the successor to Roberts, Spencer, Rainey, and the other great American riders who took on the world and won. (Bob Varsha)

Hornish -- Won the Indy 500 and the Indy Car Series title in the same season.  He's only the second racer to do so, but by winning his third series title he puts himself even further out there as the best IRL driver to date -- winning more races, more titles, and more money than any other. (Nicole Manske)

Bourdais -- Captured his third consecutive Champ Car crown to tie Ted Horn's accomplishment. Doesn't make too many mistakes and, when he does, he always seems to escape them with a good result. Smart and smooth. (Robin Miller)

Schumacher – Tony’s unprecedented comeback from 336 points down in NHRA Top Fuel after the first ten races of the season would be the stuff of legend in any case. But the way he, crew chief Alan Johnson and the team pulled it out on the final weekend of the season was epic. They went for every available point, and once teammate Melanie Troxel eliminated championship leader Doug Kalitta in the semis, the door was open a crack. Sarge still needed to win the final and set a national elapsed time record to clinch, and with it all on the line in a single pass, they did it, crushing the old ET mark with a 4.428. (Bob Varsha)

In addition to the SPEED Performer of the Year, the February special also will feature the winners of nine fan-voted SPEED Performance Awards, including Best Rivalry, Biggest Hit, Best Finish, Best Victory Celebration, Temper Temper, the Oops Award, Tell it Like it Is, Biggest Upset and the Racer Magazine Rookie of the Year award. Voting for these awards is open on SPEEDtv.com until Dec. 8.

Field pleads guilty to stealing $1.3 million Field pleads guilty to stealing $1.3 millionJon Field, the 51-year-old winner of 11 LMP2 class races in the ALMS, who, along with his family, owned the Intersport Racing team, pleaded guilty in Denver to stealing $1.3 million three years ago. Field and fellow defendant, Paul Butler, were in control of Field Development Group, which was supposed to use the money to build two nightclubs for a retail and entertainment complex. Under a plea agreement, they were ordered to pay $2.5 million to the complex, plus $588,000 to contractors, and were put on probation for 12 years. The grand jury that indicted the pair accused Field of using some of the money for his racing budget. AutoWeek
Industry News
Toyota: No more favors for the Big 3 Toyota: No more favors for the Big 3"Up until now, we've made our Tundras a little smaller than the full size model pickups made by the Big Three. We want the new Tundra to eliminate that worry in an instant and gain recognition as a full-size pickup truck," Chief Engineer Yuichiro Obu said at a news conference to mark the opening of Toyota's new San Antonio plant on Nov. 17.

Toyota's new Tundra, to be made in San Antonio, is 5.81 meters long, 2.03 meters wide and 1.93 meters high, all dimensions significantly larger than the automaker's existing pickup model. It also makes the new Tundra significantly bigger than the Land Cruiser, the largest car Toyota offers the Japanese market.

New Tundras will also pack plenty of punch inside, their 5,700cc engines well in excess of the 4,600cc used in the Lexus LS460, the largest engine Toyota uses in a sedan. The new Tundra is designed to be of a size that allows it to tackle the Big Three head on.

Toyota hasn't always been this way, with its old model Tundras deliberately made smaller than the pickups put out by the Big Three.

"There was a slight feeling of not wanting to tread on the toes of the Big Three," a Toyota executive said on condition of anonymity. More....

Toyota dealers, your redesigned Tundra pickup is ready. But you can't have it yet.

Ready-to-sell Tundras have been creeping down the new assembly line in San Antonio since Nov. 1. But they contain either Toyota's 4.7-liter V-8 or a V-6.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. is adamant that the redesigned full-sized pickup will not launch sales until after its new 5.7-liter V-8 engine becomes available in January from the company's expanding engine plant in Huntsville, Ala. Sales for the pickup are targeted to begin Feb 12.

The wait could have been worse. Originally, the 5.7-liter engine was going to be unavailable until next summer.

"The 5.7 is critical to us," says Ernest Bastien, Toyota's vice president of the vehicle operations group. "We're not shipping any trucks till we get the bigger engines." More at AutoWeek

Jeff Gordon testing Daytona Prototype at Homestead Jeff Gordon testing Daytona Prototype at HomesteadJeff Gordon and Sam Hornish, Jr. will join over 25 Rolex Sports Car Series teams to participate in the Rolex Sports Car Series test at Homestead-Miami Speedway, December 5th and 6th from 9:00am to 12:00pm/et and 1:30 to 4:30pm/et. Gordon will return this time to battle the Speedway's 11-turn road course in a Daytona Prototype - a car that he has never driven before. He is scheduled to share the #10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley with 2005 Rolex Series Daytona Prototype co-champions Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor. Hornish will also be driving a Daytona Prototype for the very first time next week. He will share the #60 Flight Options/Net App Lexus Riley with his Penske Racing IndyCar teammate Helio Castroneves, South Florida resident Oswaldo Negri, and Mark Patterson. Fans are welcome to attend the free Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series test, December 5-6 to catch Gordon, Hornish and other favorite drivers in action. Those who plan to attend should check in at the first-floor lobby in the Homestead-Miami Speedway administration building, and then take the elevator to the Speedway Club on the fourth floor. The Rolex Sports Car Series Linder-Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami and the XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 will return to Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 24, 2007 along with concerts, displays, food, and more. To purchase tickets or for more information please visit www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com or call (866) - 409-RACE. HMS PR
Cope back in the No. 74 in 2007 Cope back in the No. 74 in 2007Derrike Cope, #74-McGlynn Racing and Sundance Vacations will now begin looking at their options to further the team's productivity for next year. Cope adds, "I want to thank all of the crew for their hard work and dedication. They are all giving their time each week voluntarily, with the exception of [a few]. We accomplished a great deal more than people expected us to, although the latter portion of the year was a bit disappointing. For such a small team I personally am pleased with what we were able to make happen [in 2006]." The 2007 race season will bring along another year of hope for McGlynn Racing and Sundance Vacations. Derrike Cope concludes, "I am already looking forward to the start of the 2007 NASCAR season!" PRweb.com
racing news
Lola hires Dr. John Davis Lola hires Dr. John DavisLola Cars International has hired Dr John Davis as the new manager of its technology centre in Huntingdon, a facility which includes a state-of-the-art half-scale, rolling road windtunnel.

Davis is a highly-experienced F1 engineer with a long and impressive list of previous employers, including Team Lotus, for which he developed active suspension back in the 1980s. He then moved to join his former boss Gerard Ducarouge at Ligier before he switched to Pi Research. He then spent time in America with Patrick Racing before returning to F1 with Jordan, moving on to Arrows and Minardi before joining Williams in 2002. He oversaw the construction of the team's second windtunnel before going off to do consultant engineering. Davis replaces Chris Saunders, another former Williams man, who is moving from Lola to strengthen the aerodynamic team at Red Bull Racing. Grandprix.com

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Kimi has not asked for McLaren release
Passing to be harder in '07 - Massa
Schu twelfth in kart race return
Weber wants new protege on 2008 F1 grid
GPDA to inspect Jerez before test
Albers tells Spyker to up its game
Hakk sets sights on second test
Kubica backs BMW role for Glock
Dixon's deal has F1 'out' clause
Industry News
Chrysler has death wish Chrysler has death wishMany Chrysler Group workers, dealers and analysts remain mystified by the automaker's recent overtime production of some important vehicles, such as the Dodge Ram pickup and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV, even as their sales are slumping.

Hourly workers who make the company's core models -- pickups, SUVs and minivans -- say they regularly have been working overtime even when nearby storage lots are full. This weekend, for example, Chrysler planned to pay UAW members overtime to make Grand Cherokees in Detroit, Dodge Durangos in Delaware and Rams in St. Louis.

All of these models already have supplies that experts see as excessive -- and possibly understated.

But many analysts say plant closings are inevitable and that the recent overtime raises more questions than answers.

"I don't understand what they've been doing," said Joe Langley, an auto industry analyst at CSM Worldwide in Northville. "They've been doing this for months. The inventory is up. The incentives are up. And they're running overtime. It's an absolute mystery to me."  More at Detroit Free Press

Industry News
Toyota goes way over budget in Texas Toyota goes way over budget in TexasToyota Motor Corp.'s new Texas Tundra factory will cost at least $430 million more than planned because of rising construction costs and late upgrades in plant technology.

The San Antonio plant, targeted to cost $850 million, will end up at $1.28 billion, the company says. The bill is still being tabulated even though production began Nov. 1.

Toyota executives declined to reveal the nature of the more expensive technology. But Convis said the San Antonio plant is now "our most technologically advanced."

The company shielded large areas of the factory from a tour of reporters and photographers this month to try to protect what managers called "proprietary technology" in the stamping and welding areas [Read that robots].

The original San Antonio plan changed after its 2003 kickoff. Originally slated to produce 150,000 Tundra pickups a year and cost $800 million, the factory's mission was expanded in 2005. While construction was in progress, Toyota decided to produce 200,000 pickups there at a cost of $850 million.  More at AutoWeek

racing news
2006 Autosport Awards 2006 Autosport AwardsThe valets at the Grosvenor House Hotel are used to parking exotic machinery, but never had they been tossed the keys to a £250,000 WRC car until Finland's Markus Gronholm swerved into their drive. The rally star had come straight from the forests of Wales where he had won the Rally of Great Britain, taking Ford's first WRC title in 27 years, and stripped from his race suit to reveal his dinner jacket for tonight's glamorous Autosport Awards.

Caning a full-fat rally car down London's Park Lane certainly caught the attention of west end traffic, as Gronholm's lairy Ford Focus diced with buses and black cabs before skidding onto the red carpet.

Britain's newest Formula One driver, Lewis Hamilton, first attended the Autosport Awards in 1995 to collect a karting trophy, and used the opportunity to talk to the McLaren team principal, Ron Dennis. "It's strange to be standing here 11 years later," said Lewis as he collected the Rookie of the Year award. "I was wondering about getting autographs from some of the drivers. I didn't know who Ron was, my dad just told me to go up to him and introduce myself. I told him that one day I'd be in Formula One". Having blitzed the competition in GP2 this year, the 21 year-old will become the first black grand prix driver next year. "I first met Lewis on a bus in Macau in 2003", recalls former team boss Eddie Jordan. "I told him what Ron first told me when I arrived in Formula One: 'Welcome to the piranha club'". zzzz

"He's earned this opportunity and a lot of detractors will shortly be eating their words", says Hamilton's boss, Dennis. "He is our best option for next year. There were more experienced drivers available, but they just didn't have Lewis' level of commitment." The International Racing Driver of the Year award went to Fernando Alonso, but the 2006 F1 season will go down in history as the final chapter in Michael Schumacher's career. Former rival and 1996 World Champion Damon Hill, who lost out on the title in 1994 after a collision with the German, was on hand to honor the seven-times champ. "He has left an indelible mark on the sport, and on my car a few times as well!" The biggest names in motorsport were at the Grosvenor, and Jenson Button commanded the most attention. Having accused Jenson of being a no hoper last year, compare Steve Ryder was forced to eat humble pie. Literally! Having scored his first grand prix win in Hungary four months ago, Jenson went up to collect his award for best British competition driver brandishing a meat pie that had been purchased in a petrol station mini-mart en route to the capital. Legendary commentator Murray Walker was on hand to reveal where he'd been when Button took his historic victory in the wet.

"My wife had persuaded me to go on a cruise to Greenland. I asked one of the stewards, who was German, to find out who had won the Hungarian Grand Prix. Nothing interesting ever happens at the Hungaroring, I thought. He came back and told me the winner was Jenson Button. I told him "In English there's an expression called "a wind up'"!" The final award of the night, the hotly anticipated McLaren Autosport BRDC award, went to 19 year-old Oliver Turvey from Cumbria. The Formula BMW UK racer's future seems assured with a £50,000 cash prize and, best of all, a test in a McLaren Formula One car next year.

Echoing past winners of this award, Jenson Button and David Coulthard, it seems likely we haven't seen the last of Oliver.

Premat again fastest Premat again fastestUPDATE Added a photo of Premat in the Mi-Jack car at MSR Houston.

11/29/06 After topping the timing sheet yesterday, despite doing only 15 laps, Frenchman Alex Premat was back on track aboard the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Lola today at MSR Houston along with fellow Frenchman Guillaume Moreau in the team’s second car. For their first time in a Champ Car both drivers didn’t disappoint. Premat, was once again the quickest of the drivers on site and he was followed very closely by Moreau.  

Premat, an A1GP champion, a GP2 driver and an F1 test driver only had good things to say about his day with the Conquest Team and about the car. "I’m very happy with how my test went. The car is so good to drive, it’s completely different than an F1 car but really good to drive. I was impressed by the stability of the car and I thought it was a lot of fun being behind the wheel of it. I’m really happy to have done a test in Champ Car. I think the Series is incredible and the mechanics are great. I hope to not only be in Champ Car next year but to be with the Conquest Team. They did such a great job and it was a pleasure to work with them." Zzzz  

Also enjoying his experience with the Team was Guillaume Moreau who raced in the F3 Euro Series this past season. "It was a good day for me but a little difficult physically. It’s a big gap between an F3 car and a Champ Car, they are so powerful. I had a lot to learn in a short time. I was pushing a lot and at the end I was a little tired and couldn’t take advantage of the good track conditions. That was a little disappointing but overall it was great. The car is fantastic and I like this category of racing a lot. The Conquest Team was very professional to work with and I hope to have the chance to work with them again."  

The drivers were not the only ones happy with the test. Eric Bachelart, co-owner of the Mi-Jack Conquest Team was more than pleased with the performance put in by the two Frenchmen. "Alex and Guillaume did an outstanding job. They were both quick and worked really well together. They definitely showed that they have the potential to be in Champ Car next year. Unfortunately Guillaume was tired at the end of the day, which just goes to show how physical this sport really is, and he was unable to improve his lap time but he still did a great job. Not only were they good on track. It was a pleasure to work with them and seeing their reaction, I think they also enjoyed themselves these last two days. The team and the engineers also did some excellent work. It was our first visit at MSR with our Champ Car team and we collected important data that will help us for the Open Test here in February."  

Rainy Monday for Atlantic Test
Vasilis Zahos of Greece was not as fortunate as Premat and Moreau in the Champ Cars. Zahos was testing in Conquest Racing’s Atlantic car on Monday but his test session was cut short by rain. Despite the short amount of track time, Zahos still enjoyed his first experience aboard an Atlantic car. "I didn’t do very many laps but I still liked it very much. It was a good experience for me. The team helped me a lot and they made me feel comfortable. It was very different to what I am used to driving. There is so much more speed and the braking is incredible."
Brabham to wheel Highcroft Acura Brabham to wheel Highcroft AcuraDanbury, Conn. - David Brabham is returning to prototype racing, having signed with Highcroft Racing to drive its Acura-powered LMP2 entry for the 2007 American Le Mans Series. It is the first prototype ride for the Australian star in the Series since 2003.

Brabham, a winner 12 times in the Series, will join a yet-to-be-named partner for the full season in Highcroft's Acura-powered Courage LC75. He turned his first laps in the car Tuesday and Wednesday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"I can't even begin to tell you how I feel at the moment," Brabham said. "Working with Highcroft and Acura on this new venture is a fantastic opportunity. It is an amazing program and I'm delighted to be part of this new era in sports car racing."

Highcroft is one of three teams that will field Acura-powered LMP2s for the 2007 season. Andretti Green Racing and Lowe's Fernandez Racing are the others. Team owner Duncan Dayton, who will drive the car at Sebring, Petit Le Mans and the Monterey Sports Car Championships, expects to make another announcement shortly to name Brabham's full-season partner for the 2007 season. zzzz

"After being away from Prototypes for two years, I'm really looking forward to getting out there on the track and mixing it up with everyone," Brabham said. "After being in GT cars for the last couple of years, it was nice to get back into a Prototype, push the car to its limit, and then work with everyone at Highcroft and Acura to extend that limit. It's a great program to be part of."

Brabham is one of only a handful of drivers to have at least one victory in seven of the eight Series seasons to date. He has 12 career wins: seven in prototypes and a combined five in GT1 and GT2. He is the only driver to post wins in three different classes.

His most recent triumph came in March at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring where he won with Scott Maxwell and Sebastien Bourdais in a Panoz Esperante GTLM. He also won there in 2005 with Aston Martin.

"I'm thrilled to have David on board to help Highcroft Racing develop our new Acura Courage LMP2 package," said Dayton. "He's not only an extremely talented driver, but his extensive experience working with so many different marques will be a great help with our chassis development program."

"I'm very pleased to have David as part of the Highcroft team," added Danny Sullivan, the team's senior advisor. "Duncan and I are trying to build a professional, first-class team with our partners, Acura/HPD. David will be a great asset to that team. He brings experience, professionalism, development capabilities, and a winning spirit to our organization."

Brabham's impressive resume includes class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Petit Le Mans and the Rolex 24, as well as an overall victory in the Bathurst 1000. He drove for both the Brabham and the Simtek Formula 1 teams in the 1990s.

Brabham also has driven the ACEMCO Motorsports Saleen and the Krohn Barbour Lamborghini in the Series in 2004. In 2003 he drove the Prodrive Ferrari and for Team Bentley.

Prior to that he recorded several successful seasons in LMP900 for Panoz, primarily paired with Jan Magnussen. He has had other factory rides with BMW, McLaren, Toyota and Jaguar in the past.

The 41-year-old son of two-time Formula 1 champion Sir Jack Brabham and the brother of former IMSA star Geoff Brabham said he is delighted to be joining Highcroft Racing.

"After being away from Prototypes for two years, I'm really looking forward to getting out there on the track and mixing it up with everyone," he said.

"The team is very professional," he added. "Its facility in Connecticut is amazing; it's one of the nicest race shops I've ever seen. It's a fantastic facility for the team to be based out of. I'm really excited about the upcoming season."

Born in England, Brabham grew up in Australia and is an Australian citizen, although he now resides in Maidenhead, England.

Sullivan said additional announcements would follow concerning other key personnel the team will add prior to the Series' annual Winter Test at Sebring on Jan. 22-24.

Rossi team loses sponsor Rossi team loses sponsorHaving switched its backing from Honda to Yamaha at the start of the year, Japan Tobacco International has announced an end to its affiliation with the team and they will depart the MotoGP scene just as most tobacco companies are discontinuing sports sponsorship. The only one continuing is Marlboro. Although their name won't be on Penske's IRL cars and the Ferraris in F1, they will be very active in the paddock trying to sway race fans to smoke their cancer sticks.

Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards rode the Camel-backed machines during the 2006 season and while both remain with the team for the new campaign, Yamaha will be hunting for a new title sponsor as MotoGP heads into the 800cc era.

"Following Camel's recent announcement, Yamaha Factory Racing would like to express its thanks to Camel and Japan Tobacco International for their partnership and support over the 2006 MotoGP season," a statement issued by Yamaha read.

"Our thanks go out to all those involved in the project; they have formed an important part of our team over the past year. It has been a great honor for Yamaha to work with such an experienced sponsor and Camel's enthusiasm throughout the season has been greatly appreciated by the entire Yamaha Factory Racing Team and the Yamaha Motor Group."

Racing News
Quotes of the Week Quotes of the Week
PAT SYMONDS, Executive Director of Engineering, Renault F1 team
"Any system that puts the best car at the front inevitably spoils the racing. Equally, if it’s too contrived, it isn't good," Symonds says. The GP2 Series adopts a reverse grid for its second race, where the top eight finishers from Saturday's race are reversed. "What about reverse grids, or semi-reverse grids? People are always saying GP2 is full of great overtaking, but of course it bloody is, because the guy who's quickest is eighth on the grid. Whatever, it just takes a bit of a change of mindset, and that's not something we’re very good at in F1." (Renault's Pat Symonds believes Formula 1 could do with a change in mindset and should adopt more radical rules to mix up the grid)

EDDIE JORDAN, former owner of Jordan Grand Prix F1 team
Jordan believes Mika Hakkinen's return to Formula One at Barcelona is a "cosmetic exercise." He said, "I cannot see any logic to it at all otherwise. It will take him so much time to understand about the car and all the different technology that he will need far more than one day." (Former team boss Eddie Jordan believes Mika Hakkinen's return to Formula One at Barcelona is nothing but a publicity stunt from McLaren)

PAUL STODDART, former owner of Minardi F1 team
Paul Stoddart has a different opinion about Mika Hakkinen's return to Formula One as he doesn't believe McLaren would waste valuable time on a publicity stunt. "I don't think that Ron and (Mercedes motorsport head) Norbert (Haug) are the types to play games," Stoddart said. "I think he (Hakkinen) is doing it for a reason. Don't discount him, just because he's a bit older. Imagine if Michael (Schumacher) has a couple of years out and then said he wanted to get back in the car. Nobody would laugh at that." zzzz

CRISTIANO da MATTA, Champ Car driver, former F1 driver
“I hadn’t been away from the race tracks since I was six, so this has been very hard for me,” Cristiano said. “The doctor made me promise I wouldn’t be thinking about my future, because it would be bad for my recovery, but I don’t think I’ll be able to keep the promise! I’m almost 100% [back to normal]. I feel very well physically, almost ready in fact,” he added. “But I can’t risk hitting my head again now, so I’ll have to wait a little longer. I'm very exited about going back to racing." (Cristiano da Matta’s recovery continues and he revealed his intentions to go back racing)

JEFF GORDON, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR driver
"I think it could become the biggest disaster NASCAR has faced in a long time," the two-time Nextel Cup champion said. Stewart nicknamed the car the "flying brick" a few weeks ago, and he picked up on that theme Thursday. "Look at it," he said. "There's nothing attractive about the car. It looks like something that came straight from [Sports Car Club of America]. When we run them on road courses, I think they'll look really cool. But when you run them on ovals the other 36 weeks of the year, I don't think they're going to look too good." (Commenting on NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow)

DALE EARNHARDT, Jr., Dale Earnhardt Incorporated, NASCAR driver
"It doesn't look racy, it doesn't look exciting, it doesn't make me want to go buy a Chevrolet tomorrow," he said. "It doesn't make me excited about walking up to it. You take show cars [race cars used for display] to a gas station to get people excited to stop and buy gas and look at the car. With that thing, nobody's going to pull over." (Commenting on NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow)

The IRL’s Field of Dreams The IRL’s Field of DreamsUPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, The grandstands at that Iowa track look so small.  Looks like another big IRL sellout!   If the IRL wants to race in the cornfields of Iowa, more power to them.  They can wine and dine the Ethanol lobbyists who sold the American public on their white elephant.  Ethanol can sponsor the race and if the Ethanol car wins it will be a perfect scenario. Dean White, Seattle, WA.

12/03/06 In this SPEEDTV.com article Jeff Olsen makes fun of the IRL's Field of Dreams race in Iowa.  He closes by saying that most IRL markets are lukewarm to their IRL race or have competing events. You will be the only show in town on June 24. It’s not hunting season or Drive Your Tractor to Work Day or Ashton Kutcher's birthday.  We’ll be there. All 14 of us. And possibly a few deer with political aspirations.
Gronholm makes it look easy in GB Gronholm makes it look easy in GBFord ended its FIA World Rally Championship winning season by claiming its first Rally GB victory for 27 years today. Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen led the three-day event from start to finish through the muddy forests of south Wales to triumph by 1min 35.5sec in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. It was the seventh victory of the season for the Finnish duo, and the eighth for the BP-Ford World Rally Team - making it Ford's most successful rally season ever.

It also ensured Grönholm became the most successful Finn ever in the WRC. His 25th win moved him ahead of Tommi Mäkinen and into equal third in the all-time standings. Victory also means that BP-Ford, crowned manufacturers' world champions on the previous round in New Zealand* last month, set a new points record under the current scoring system. The Blue Oval's previous Rally GB success was in 1979, the same season in which it last claimed the world title. zzzz

The rain-soaked gravel roads provided a stern challenge for the world's best drivers on this 16th and final round of the season. The muddy tracks proved too much for many of the 111 starters, the largest entry of the season, who tackled 355.92km of competition. Today's final leg took competitors north-west of the rally base in Cardiff to the Brechfa Forest complex. Always technically demanding and slippery, heavy overnight rain made conditions treacherous in the four speed tests, covering 112.00km.

Grönholm built up a 1min 18.8sec lead during the opening two days and the 38-year-old could afford to take no risks in the mud and rain today. He eased through the final special stages to return to the finish inside Cardiff's Millennium Stadium having extended his advantage to 1min 35.5sec. However, even he was caught out by the conditions and dropped a handful of seconds on the second stage when he spun. "I entered a downhill hairpin a little too quickly and spun the car. I had to reverse back onto the road and dropped a few seconds, but it wasn't such a big drama," he said.

"It's fantastic to win again and this ends a great season in perfect style. It has been a long three days in the Welsh forests but we were able to drive cautiously today on what were the most difficult stages of the event. It was made easier for me yesterday when Petter Solberg had problems and since then I have had the rally under control.

"In terms of rally wins, this is my best season and I'm delighted to deliver this win for the team. I can't believe I have moved ahead of Tommi to become the most successful Finn ever. That is an achievement I could never have dreamed of when I started in the sport," he added.

BP-Ford team director Malcolm Wilson was delighted to end the season in style. "It was good to come to Rally GB with the title already settled and give the drivers the opportunity to drive flat out with no pressure. It's 27 years since Ford won Rally GB and to end the season with eight victories for the new Focus RS WRC is a fantastic achievement. It has been a dream year."

Ford TeamRS director Jost Capito said: "It's perfect to finish the season with a convincing win in Rally GB and confirm the manufacturers' championship. It strongly underlines the dominance of the new Focus regarding reliability and performance in its first season of competition."

Manfred Stohl (Peugeot) claimed his best result of the season in second, holding off the challenge of Petter Solberg (Subaru). The Norwegian dropped20 seconds after puncturing and spinning on the second stage this morning. Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford) claimed a career best result in fourth ahead of Xevi Pons (Citroen), who spun in the same stage as Solberg. Chris Atkinson (Subaru) rounded off the top six.

Final positions
1. M Grönholm/T Rautiainen FIN Ford Focus RS 3hr 20min 24.8sec
2. M Stohl/I Minor A Peugeot 307 3hr 22min 00.3sec
3. P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza 3hr 22min 20.0sec
4. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 3hr 23min 01.9sec
5. X Pons/C Del Barrio E Citroen Xsara 3hr 23min 44.7sec
6. C Atkinson/G MacNeall AUS Subaru Impreza 3hr 23min 52.3sec
7. D Sordo/M Marti E Citroen Xsara 3hr 24min 33.1sec
8. F Duval/ P Pivato B Skoda Fabia 3hr 24min 47.4sec
9. H Rovanperä/R Pietilainen FIN Skoda Fabia 3hr 28min 25.1sec
10 J Kopecky/F Schovanek CZ Skoda Fabia 3hr 28min 52.6sec

1. S Loeb 112pts
2. M Grönholm 111pts
3. M Hirvonen 65pts
4. M Stohl 54pts
5. D Sordo 49pts
6. P Solberg 40pts

1. BP-Ford 195pts
2. Kronos Citroen 166pts
3. Subaru 106pts
4. OMV - Peugeot Norway 88pts
5. Stobart VK M-Sport Ford 44pts
6. Red-Bull Skoda 24pts

* subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA

Stage Times

Stage 14: 1. P Solberg 16min 25.8sec; 2. Sordo + 7.7; 3. Grönholm + 15.5; 4. Atkinson + 15.8; 5= Latvala, Stohl + 16.1.
Overall: 1. Grönholm 2hr 30min 36.9sec; 2. Stohl + 1:19.4; 3. P Solberg + 1:53.2; 4. Pons + 2:32.9; 5. Latvala + 2:35.9; 6. Atkinson + 3:26.2.

Stage 15: 1. Sordo 16min 19.3sec; 2. Latvala + 8.1; 3. Atkinson + 13.0; 4. Stohl + 15.5; 5. Ostberg + 20.6; 6. Grönholm + 22.8.

Overall: 1. Grönholm 2hr 47min 19.0sec; 2. Stohl + 1:12.1; 3. P Solberg + 2:05.7; 4. Latvala + 2:21.2; 5. Pons + 2:51.7; 6. Atkinson + 3:16.4.

Stage 16: 1. P Solberg 16min 33.1sec; 2. Grönholm + 6.5; 3. Latvala + 8.7; 4. Sordo + 9.1; 5. Atkinson + 10.2; 6. Stohl + 17.7.

Overall: 1. Grönholm 3hr 03min 58.6sec; 2. Stohl + 1:23.3; 3. P Solberg + 1:59.2; 4. Latvala + 2:23.4; 5. Pons + 3:03.6; 6. Atkinson + 3:20.1.

Stage 17: 1. P Solberg 16min 22.2sec; 2. Grönholm + 4.0; 3. H Solberg + 7.7; 4. Atkinson + 11.4; 5. Sordo + 13.5; 6. Stohl + 16.2.

Overall: 1. Grönholm 3hr 20min 24.8sec; 2. Stohl + 1:35.5; 3. P Solberg + 1:55.2; 4. Latvala + 2:37.1; 5. Pons + 3:19.9; 6. Atkinson + 3:27.5

Hamilton enjoys week with McLaren Hamilton enjoys week with McLarenIn just over a week Lewis Hamilton has been confirmed a race driver for McLaren Mercedes in 2007 and has put in three days of running in Barcelona alongside Pedro de la Rosa and Mika Hakkinen...

How has your first test as an official Team McLaren Mercedes driver gone?
"I have absolutely enjoyed every moment, I love getting in the car and every time the engine starts up I still have a huge grin on my face. I am living my dream and I couldn't be happier. On a more technical note I have already completed four test days for Team McLaren Mercedes at Silverstone and Jerez but this week there has been a bit of weight lifted off my shoulders and it has been really positive, as I have been able to work together with the team and Pedro to really concentrate on developing the car. The work with the Bridgestone tires has been positive so far and we have seen some improvements when trying different setups, so it is all going in the right direction at the moment." zzzz

Did it feel different walking into the garage on your first morning?
"Yes it did feel a bit different. The tests that I had done before I had only just finished in GP2, there was nothing announced and I didn't know if I was going to be a test or race driver so it was just a great opportunity. But to come here as the new race driver for 2007, it has meant that I can really knuckle down and work on bonding with the team, my engineer and getting on top of the car and up to pace."

Has the fact that you will be a Team McLaren Mercedes race driver sunk in yet?
"It hasn't fully sunk in as it never really hit me at once to be honest. I would say this is a good thing though, as I think it is better for it to just sink in gradually. I am just really enjoying this time at the moment."

There are four months to go until the first race, what is your program to ensure that you are ready?
"This time before Christmas is the period when I will be trying to learn as much as I can about the car and about the Bridgestone Potenza tires. We will be testing at tracks that I know so it will be all about getting as many miles in the car as possible, so that I can really be learning all the controls on the cars. It is really important that everything starts to become second nature to me. I will also be concentrating on learning about the setup of the car and what suits me and really just getting to know the team as much as possible."

Has Formula 1 changed your life?
"I feel the same really to be honest and I am still just a young driver. My aim was always to drive in Formula 1 and nothing has really changed. The main difference is the interest in me has increased but basically I am just focusing on the job I have to do and really enjoying it all as I have always done." Source McLaren Mercedes
Gronholm still leads halfway thru Sunday Gronholm still leads halfway thru SundayAfter a Sunday morning spin in Great Britain, Ford Focus driver Marcus Gronholm has decided to protect his head and cruise to victory. With just 2 stages remaining the standings are:

Pos Driver Make Time
 1. Gronholm Ford 2h47:19.0
 2. Stohl Peugeot + 1:12.1
 3. Solberg Subaru + 2:05.7
 4. Latvala Ford + 2:21.2
 5. Pons Citroen + 2:51.7
 6. Atkinson Subaru + 3:16.4
 7. Duval Skoda + 3:49.7
 8. Sordo Citroen + 3:56.2
 9. Rovanpera Skoda + 6:45.4
10. Kopecky Skoda + 7:03.1

Gronholm leads thru Saturday in Britain Gronholm leads thru Saturday in BritainClear blue skies greeted the 103 surviving competitors as they left Swansea this morning for the second leg of this 16th and final round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Twenty-two of those are competing under SupeRally after retiring yesterday. Ahead of them all lies two identical loops of three speed tests surrounding the Epynt military land in the Brecon Beacon mountains, followed by a spectacular final special stage inside Cardiff's Millennium Stadium – a total of 104.30km of competition.

Overnight rain ensured the gravel forest tracks remained slippery this morning while a strong breeze in the mountains ensured temperatures felt colder than the recorded 4°C when the action began. BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen restarted with a 25.8sec lead in their Focus RS World Rally Car. The Finns opted for BFGoodrich's soft compound tires, with small cuts hand carved into the rubber to match the conditions.

Grönholm was second fastest on the opening 19.47km Crychan stage before setting fastest times through both the 13.76km Epynt and the 18.37km Halfway tests. He returned to service in Swansea having extended his lead to 62.4sec, closest rival Petter Solberg dropping time on the opening stage after sliding into a ditch. zzzz

"It was really slippery but there was no rain on the stages so conditions weren't too bad," said 38-year-old Grönholm. "The first cars on the road have an advantage in these conditions but there's nothing to worry about where I am. The surface is hard so the roads aren't cutting up and they should be OK for the second pass. I made no mistakes and was able to ease off a little when I heard that Petter had gone off.

"I will try to keep driving steadily and pushing because I don't want to have to fight hard tomorrow. The roads are difficult and the weather forecast is bad. My lead is comfortable and the car has been perfect so I'm happy," he added.

Leaderboard after stage 9 of 17
1. M Grönholm/T Rautiainen FIN Ford Focus RS 1hr 43min 52.4sec
2. P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza 1hr 44min 54.8sec
3. M Stohl/I Minor A Peugeot 307 1hr 44min 58.6sec
4. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 1hr 46min 07.4sec
5. X Pons/C Del Barrio E Citroen Xsara 1hr 46min 12.5sec
6. C Atkinson/G MacNeall AUS Subaru Impreza 1hr 47min 07.4sec
7. F Duval/ P Pivato B Skoda Fabia 1hr 47min 10.3sec
8. D Sordo/M Marti E Citroen Xsara 1hr 47min 56.4sec
9. H Rovanperä/R Pietilainen FIN Skoda Fabia 1hr 48min 30.2sec
10 J Kopecky/F Schovanek CZ Skoda Fabia 1hr 49min 15.1sec

BMW’s season finale in Switzerland BMW’s season finale in SwitzerlandFrom the BMW Sauber F1 Team’s perspective, Switzerland is far from neutral territory but actually home from home so it was no surprise that around 500 guests from around the world celebrated the successes of the 2006 season at the BMW Motorsport Party held in Flims Laax.

The Flimx Laax Falera ski resort unfurls some 150 kilometres southeast of Zurich. Its highest point is the Vorab glacier at 3,018 meters above sea level. These soaring heights bring with them the guarantee of snow, and the timing of the party between the end of the racing season and Christmas made for a very relaxed atmosphere.

Formula One drivers Nick Heidfeld, Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel, along with the recently crowned World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx and his fellow BMW contesters of the WTCC, Duncan Huisman, Jan Magnussen, Dirk Müller, Jörg Müller and Alessandro Zanardi, entertained the Swiss with sporting contests such as guessing different sorts of cheese and cocoa-stirring races. After this the squad of drivers presented the local specialties to the public with Hans-Joachim Stuck acting as host.

In the evening, tribute was paid to the various successes of the BMW drivers in the 2006 season, but not only those of the works drivers. It is a tradition at this closing event of the season to turn the spotlight on men and women who have competed in sporty BMW models on a private basis. The BMW Sports Trophy has been presented for four decades now and, as of this season, is worth a quarter of a million euros.

Conway tops final afternoon in Valencia Conway tops final afternoon in ValenciaMike Conway has given his chances of landing a plum GP2 series ride in 2007 a massive boost by finishing the final afternoon of 2006 testing at the top of the times. The Englishman's lap of 1:18.737 was enough to beat the Durango of Clivio Piccione into second place on the Monegasque driver's return to the Italian team with which he won the 2005 Sunday GP2 series race at the Nurburgring.

Third and fourth in the times were the Arden pairing of Bruno Senna and Luca Filippi, with both men continuing their hugely impressive and quick showings of the winter months.

Javier Villa completed one of his best two-day test sessions to date in fifth place, with Roldan Rodriguez sixth.

The fastest laps of the entire test however were set this morning by Andreas Zuber. He and team-mate Timo Glock's pace in this final test of 2006 was a warning shot, if one was needed, of just how sincere they and the iSport team are in their intentions towards the 2007 titles.

 Driver Team Time Laps
1 Mike Conway ART Grand Prix 1:18.737 32
2 Clivio Piccione Durango 1:18.828 32
3 Bruno Senna Arden International 1:18.836 43
4 Luca Filippi Arden International 1:18.861 22
5 Javier Villa Racing Engineering 1:18.888 36
6 Roldan Rodriguez Piquet Sports 1:19.019 34
7 Borja Garcia BCN Competicion 1:19.140 34
8 Giorgio Pantano Campos Racing 1:19.144 33
9 Timo Glock iSport International 1:19.160 22
10 Antonio Pizzonia Petrol Ofisi FMS International 1:19.185 38  zzzz
11 Alberto Valerio Durango 1:19.221 37
12 Nicolas Lapierre Dams 1:19.268 23
13 Jose Maria Lopez BCN Competicion 1:19.302 31
14 Michael Ammermuller ART Grand Prix 1:19.404 31
15 Kohei Hirate Trident Racing 1:19.434 26
16 Kazuki Nakajima Dams 1:19.526 31
17 Alvaro Parente Super Nova International 1:19.615 40
18 Ernesto Viso DPR 1:19.629 22
19 Luiz Razia Racing Engineering 1:19.633 39
20 Xandi Negrao Piquet Sports 1:19.889 35
21 Pastor Maldonado Trident Racing 1:19.943 35
22 Jason Tahinci Petrol Ofisi FMS International 1:20.147 22
23 Andreas Zuber iSport International 1:20.239 19
24 Ricardo Risatti Campos Racing 1:20.389 24
25 Christian Bakkerud DPR 1:20.721 29
26 Adrian Zaugg Arden International 1:20.828 13
27 Sam Bird Super Nova International 1:21.170 21

Zuber tops final morning in Valencia Zuber tops final morning in ValenciaAndreas Zuber and Timo Glock put iSport International at the top of the timesheets this morning as the final day of 2006 testing got underway in Valencia. The Austrian's lap of 1:18.432 was enough to beat Timo into second by the slightest of margins... just 0.03 as the session ended.

The two iSport drivers were followed closely by Antonio Pizzonia in the FMS International car, while Kazuki Nakajima continued his fine testing pace with Dams to sit fourth. Roldan Rodriguez had one of his best GP2 series sessions to date for Piquet Sports in fifth with Mike Conway an impressive sixth for ART Grand Prix.

The session gets going again at 14:00 local time, and will run until 17:00 at which time the 2006 GP2 series will official come to its conclusion as the teams pack up for the Christmas break.

 Driver Teams Time Laps
1 Andreas Zuber iSport International 1:18.432 38
2 Timo Glock iSport International 1:18.465 42
3 Antonio Pizzonia Petrol Ofisi FMS International 1:18.472 25
4 Kazuki Nakajima Dams 1:18.607 34
5 Roldan Rodriguez Piquet Sports 1:18.621 34
6 Mike Conway ART Grand Prix 1:18.667 31
7 Michael Ammermuller ART Grand Prix 1:18.703 37
8 Borja Garcia BCN Competicion 1:18.717 39
9 Kohei Hirate Trident Racing 1:18.932 29
10 Giorgio Pantano Campos Racing 1:18.947 33  zzzz
11 Nicolas Lapierre Dams 1:19.004 27
12 Bruno Senna Arden International 1:19.089 32
13 Pastor Maldonado Trident Racing 1:19.109 37
14 Adrian Zaugg Arden International 1:19.124 27
15 Jose Maria Lopez BCN Competicion 1:19.167 24
16 Xandi Negrao Piquet Sports 1:19.186 38
17 Nico Hulkenberg Super Nova International 1:19.295 44
18 Ricardo Risatti Campos Racing 1:19.380 38
19 Ernesto Viso DPR 1:19.424 26
20 Alvaro Parente Racing Engineering 1:19.459 38
21 Luiz Razia Racing Engineering 1:19.489 46
22 Jason Tahinci Petrol Ofisi FMS International 1:19.523 30
23 Alberto Valerio Durango 1:19.602 34
24 Clivio Piccione Durango 1:19.629 29
25 Luca Filippi Arden International 1:19.682 17
26 Christian Bakkerud DPR 1:21.152 40
27 Sam Bird Super Nova International 1:21.592 38

racing news
HANS device wins AARWBA award HANS device wins AARWBA awardBob Hubbard and Jim Downing, founders of HANS Performance Products, manufacturers of the internationally award winning HANS Device, are the recipients of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association's (AARWBA) inaugural Auto Racing Safety and Humanitarian Service Award.

The award will be presented at the AARWBA's 37th All America Team Banquet in January, where Jack Roush will be giving the keynote address. Jim Downing said, "Our educational programs have led the head and neck restraint industry for over 25 years. We are tireless in our desire to help all racers and rule makers understand the safety benefits that head and neck restraints, such as HANS Devices, can provide." zzzz 

The AARWBA committee, comprised of professional motor sports journalists and photographers, were given a list of organizations and people who met certain criteria for the award. Part of the criteria required acts of kindness of heroic proportion without regard to the consequences.

Bob Hubbard said, "When we entered this business, we set out to make a difference, not a profit. And still, to this day, the HANS Device continues to make a difference in racing communities all over the world. We appreciate the AARWBA recognizing our hard work and dedication to the safety of racing."

Details and information about AARWBA are available on their website www.aarwba.org or by calling 818-842-7005.

Details and information about HANS Performance Products are available on the company's website www.hansdevice.com or by calling 1-888-HANS-999 or 770-457-1046.

Successful surgery for Hayden Successful surgery for HaydenMotoGP champion Nicky Hayden has had successful surgery at the Freemont Clinic in California on the injured right shoulder that forced him to miss this week's testing session at Jerez.

Dr Art Ting, shaved some bone off the Repsol Honda rider's injured shoulder bone to encourage improved healing of the fracture, and the rotator cuff was repaired. At the same time the metal plate on the 25-year-old American's right collarbone was replaced with a smaller plate.

"I actually feel pretty good already," Hayden admitted from the clinic. "I'll be off bikes for a while but Aldon Baker, my trainer, is going to get me back doing some cardio work next week and I'm definitely looking forward to that. It's obviously been a great year all round and I'm glad I've had the shoulder fixed because it means I can now begin to prepare for the defense of this title.

"I'd like to thank Dr Ting and the staff at Freemont, and all the fans who've given me great support this year. See you all in 2007!"

formula bmw
Gelles Racing announces testing season Gelles Racing announces testing seasonFront Royal, Virginia – While Gelles Racing just arrived back from Spain attending the Formula BMW World Final in Valencia this week, team owner Bob Gelles announced today part of their Winter testing program for both ladder series, Formula BMW USA and Champ Car Atlantic. For the last two months, Gelles Racing has discussed with many drivers from around the globe and the first session is next week in Savannah, Georgia. Our competent staff has all the cars ready for testing and the team is revving up for the next season.

“Our presence at the BMW World Finals is like a reward at the end of a long season for our drivers, declared team owner Bob Gelles, it was an incredible experience; but preparation for 2007 starts just around the corner as we come back to America. The Champ Car Atlantic schedule is phenomenal with so many exciting new venues and BMW USA is set to release their 2007 plans this week. As soon as our plane touched ground, the 2007 season started for our Team. We will be heading to challenging race venues and our driver prospects will be able to really get the best out of their machines. Our engineers look forward to these tests as the first step toward winning next season.’’ zzzz 

Savannah, MSR and Sebring

Testing sessions will start at the newly re-paved Savannah for three different stints; the new MSR racing facility near Houston, Texas was chosen along with historic Sebring in Florida. “Seems like we will spend part of the Holidays around race tracks, continued Gelles, but this is what the off-season is all about. There will be more sessions added to this preliminary calendar for the drivers who want to get their hands on either of these beautiful BMW or Swift racing machines. We still have some openings for those who want to inquire about the upcoming sessions or others that we are about to release.’’

December 5 & 6 Savannah, Georgia (booked full)
December 14 & 15 Savannah, Georgia
December 21 & 22 MSR Houston, Texas
January 2 & 3 Sebring, Florida
January 3 & 4 Buttonwillow, California
January 6 & 7 Savannah, Georgia
January 13 & 14 MSR Houston, Texas

In 2007, Gelles Racing is well positioned to fight for victories in both Champ Car Atlantic Championship and the Formula BMW USA Championship. Western Union, BMW of Sterling, HI-REV Skincare and Hebert & LeBleu sponsor the team. To schedule your test or for more information, Bob Gelles may be contacted at (703) 926-2474 or by email bob@gellesracing.com

karting news
Felipe Massa grabs pole Felipe Massa grabs poleSao Paolo, Brazil--Ferrari Formula 1 pilot Felipe Massa secured the pole position for the Granja Viana 500 karting event with a 56:784-second lap on the 1.2-kilometer track.  Oswaldo Negri (pictured right) will start from third on the grid after posting a 57:081-second lap at the Kartódromo Da Granja Viana near Sao Paolo, Brazil.. Negri will share the driving duties with Pedro and Paulo Gomes.
The “Super Qualifying” session featured a one-lap format for the large and enthusiastic crowd, as some of the biggest names in the sport have convened to compete in the twelve-hour event. The Granja Viana event first ran in 1997 with Felipe Massa, Tony Kanaan, Rubins Barrichello, and Dan Wheldon among the list of winning drivers.
Negri has made several starts in the Granja Viana 500, with a career best-finish of second place in 2004 when he partnered with countrymen Vitor Meira, Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves. Negri will partner with Castroneves in two months’ time for the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona in the Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley.
“I must say that I am having a blast!” said Negri. “The qualifying was so intense and such a thrill because we each had the track to ourselves, and the crowd was really pumping everybody up. This is just a fantastic event and it gets better every year.”
Unofficial Qualifying Top Six, Granja Viana 500:
1-Felipe Massa 56:784
2-Eduardo Ventre 57:029
3-O. Negri 57:081
4-Felipe Leite 57:137
5-Victor Meira 57:236
6-Tony Kanaan 57:260
Other notable entries
12-Luciano Burti 57:618
14-R. Barrichello 57:808
16-Felipe Giaffone 57:923
17-Nelson Piquet Jr. 58:135
20-Ricardo Zonta 58:788 Sunday Group Management
More on Champ Car’s Zhuhai demo More on Champ Car’s Zhuhai demoUPDATE More photos from the Champ Car Zhuhai demonstration.  Photos courtesy of the Champ Car World Series.

11/30/06 On 30th November 2006, the latest Panoz DP01 Champ Car made its first runs at the Zhuhai International Circuit (ZIC) in front of hundreds of officials, guests and reporters.

The car was transported to ZIC to help launch the Champ Car World Series (CCWS) event at the venue, the event will be held from 18th to 20th May 2007. Zhuhai Vice-Mayor Ms. Deng Qun-Fang, FASC vice-chairman Wan He-Ping, Zhuhai Sports Council chairman He Qing-Ming, ZIC Board Director Mr. Huang Gong-Bo, Champ Car World Series President and CEO Mr. Steve Johnson, Champ Car World Series' representative in China, Formula Racing China's Mr. Elliot Friedman and test driver Roberto Moreno were all present to give their support to the forthcoming event.

Zhuhai vice mayor Ms. Deng, along with FASC vice-chairman Mr. Wan, expressed their sincerest welcome to the CCWS.

ZIC Board Director Mr. Huang said, "ZIC has worked very hard to bring CCWS to Zhuhai and they will be made very welcome here. In addition, ZIC will strive to bring more top level motorsport events to China."

Mr. Friedman said, "Champ Car has had nearly 100 years' motorsport history and next year, it will race in China for the first time. We are very excited about this opportunity and hope to bring unprecedented excitement to the Chinese motorsport fans."

After the speeches came the moment that everyone has been dreaming of: a Champ Car lapping the Zhuhai International Circuit. Brazilian former F1 and Champ Car driver Roberto Moreno drove the DP01 onto the track and gently started lapping the circuit.

The American built single-seater, powered by a Ford Cosworth 2.65 liter V8 turbo engine, lapped the circuit in 1:23.612 seconds, setting a new lap record at ZIC. A full 6 seconds faster than the previous lap record set by Karun Chandhok in qualifying for the Formula Asia V6 by Renault 1:30.033.

Roberto Moreno said, "I have driven in Macau before but I have never been to Zhuhai. This is my first time in China and it is a real honor to be here. It is very nice to drive on this circuit and I feel very positive about the race next year."

The Champ Car World Series is scheduled to be held at Zhuhai International Circuit from 18th to 20th May 2007.

Albers fires parting shot at Toyota Albers fires parting shot at Toyota(GMM)  Spyker racer Christijan Albers has fired a parting shot at departing engine supplier Toyota, after the Dutch team inked a switch to Ferrari power for next year.

The 27-year-old Dutchman suggested to magazine 'Formule 1 Race Report' that the Silverstone based squad only started to question its Japanese supplier in the second year of their collaboration, 2006.

Albers said: "Toyota's ten cylinder was one of the strongest in formula one, but the V8 was clearly not as good.

"This fact was already clear to us at the beginning of the season."

Albers' best race finish this season was tenth, at the rain-affected Hungarian grand prix.  Teammate Tiago Monteiro also did not score a point.

Symonds calls for change in mindset Symonds calls for change in mindsetRenault's Pat Symonds believes Formula 1 could do with a change in mindset and should adopt more radical rules to mix up the grid.

"Any system that puts the best car at the front inevitably spoils the racing. Equally, if it’s too contrived, it isn't good," he says in F1 Racing magazine.

The GP2 Series adopts a reverse grid for its second race, where the top eight finishers from Saturday's race are reversed.

"What about reverse grids, or semi-reverse grids? People are always saying GP2 is full of great overtaking, but of course it bloody is, because the guy who's quickest is eighth on the grid.  Whatever, it just takes a bit of a change of mindset, and that's not something we’re very good at in F1."

Bridgestone changes gears in F1 Bridgestone changes gears in F1Bridgestone Motorsport Technical Manager Hisao Suganuma claims the Japanese tire manufacturers have been forced to change their priorities since the withdrawal of rivals Michelin. Bridgestone’s choice of tires is now aimed at providing a “level and fair” playing field to all the teams, with the tires having a wider operating window than the 2006 specifications.

“Our priorities have now changed from winning races to providing safe, fair and durable tires to the whole F1 grid,” Suganuma revealed.

“Following initial feedback and analysis, it looks like we have produced a good one-make tire with consistent performance. It probably would not win any races in a competitive tire supply situation but that situation is now behind us,” he explained. zzzz

Following this week’s three-day test in Spain, Suganuma said he was “delighted” with the successful start to this new era.

“The first test has progressed well this week with the teams learning how to run the same specification of tire,” he said.

“We have worked with a lot of the teams and personnel before so they are not strangers to us. They have been quick to adjust to the tires and over the winter they will have the opportunity to fine-tune for optimum performance.”

Kinetic Motorsports to Make Grand American Debut Kinetic Motorsports to Make Grand American DebutKinetic Motorsports is heading for the Grand American Koni Challenge in 2007 with some impressive cars and driver support. BMW M3s will be the chosen platform, powered by Sunbelt engines, the same engines that won the Championship in '06 and will be anchored by Boris Said and Kinetic's own Nic Jonsson. Kinetic will compete in the Grand Sport class within the series made up of cars capable of 405 horsepower with performance modifications and full safety systems. The effort will be run out of the 42,000-square-foot Kinetic Speed Shop, owned by Russell Smith and Jonsson, based just outside of Atlanta.

"I am extremely impressed with the business that Russell and Nic have put together," said Said. "I feel the program we are all embarking on will reflect the exact same image that Kinetic Speed Shop is already known for. I have had a lot of experience driving BMWs and look forward to supporting this new team during 2007 and beyond." zzzz

Since its inception, Kinetic Motorsports set about bringing together a team of experienced, seasoned professionals from different racing backgrounds. The organization currently employs drivers with world championship experience, NASCAR, Nextel and Busch Series team management history and 24 Hours of Le Mans and Rolex 24 Hour winning crew and mechanics. The perfect lineup for success.

"For the last two years I have been a Crew Chief for other teams and I am looking forward to doing the same with our own program," said General Manager, Ed Hall. Working with two pro drivers like Nic and Boris gives us a legitimate shot of doing well and running up front. I would like to bring my NASCAR background to the team in order to make the program both exciting and successful. Things are looking good so far and I think we are on pace for a good first year."

Jonsson, who currently competes in the Grand Am Rolex Series with Krohn Racing, added his thoughts about the new Kinetic endeavor.

"I feel very excited about being able to put together a pro effort for Kinetic," said Jonsson. "For me personally it has been a dream of mine for a very long time to do this with Kinetic and take it into professional racing. I hope that I can bring my years of experience to the program and help it be successful. I am thrilled to have my friend Boris Said on the team which will add to our competitiveness on and off the track. With BMWs, all powered by the Championship winning Sunbelt engines, there will be great opportunities for me to work with some great drivers and for Boris and I to pass on some of our knowledge to some up and coming drivers that will want to race with us. The positive energy is already flowing around the shop and I know that we are all eager to go racing in 2007 with Grand Am."

Toro Rosso to debut Ferrari engine in January Toro Rosso to debut Ferrari engine in JanuaryVitantonio Liuzzi has revealed the Scuderia Toro Rosso team won't be running with Ferrari V8-engines until the end of January. In the meantime the team will continue to run the restricted Cosworth V10 engines. Speaking to F1.com Liuzzi said: "It is not possible at the moment to confirm a precise date, but we expect the new car and the new engine to be ready at the end of January.

"The expectations are high. The name Ferrari is a guarantee of success and it would be a huge satisfaction to see an Italian team, with an Italian car powered by an Italian engine, making a big step forward together."

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

NASCAR Beyond the Wheel Dover
9:00am-9:30am (R) SPEED
7 Days -Doug Richert
9:30am-10:00am (R) SPEED
2:00pm-2:30pm Check local listings for your location and time zone ABC
2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Awards New York
2:00pm-3:00pm NBC
The SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.
New track tested… and approved! New track tested… and approved!With a little more than two weeks remaining until the 2006 ROC, it's all systems go at the Stade de France where construction of the 1.2km purpose-built track has been completed.

IMP's Michèle Mouton has given the thumbs up to the all-asphalt track which has already been laid at the Stade de France in Paris in readiness for The Race of Champions-Nations Cup on December 16th. Construction of the circuit – which has been significantly re-penned since the 2006 event to guarantee even more spectacular action and side-by-side racing – began immediately after the France-Argentina rugby union test match on November 25th.



"I'm delighted with the result," enthused Michèle after her first trial laps on Thursday evening (November 30). "Testing a new track design for the first time is always a little stressful but I have to say it lives up every bit up to our expectations. We knew the areas we wanted to take a close look at in a car following the transformation of our basic ideas from paper to the real thing. For example, the long straight before the cross-over bridge promises to be especially spectacular, with the cars getting up to maybe 150kph and having to shed speed fast before turning onto the bridge. And with the descent followed by a straight instead of a tight turn, that will certainly be a lot smoother too. All in all, it's been built very well and I am sure it will look great from the grandstands."

The construction of this year's track design called for 1,800 tons of asphalt, 2,200 tons of underlay and the positioning of a 100-tonne cross-over bridge. It took a team of 30 people five days to erect and it will three days to dismantle the track.

Top engineers honored Top engineers honoredThe dominance of Renault and Ferrari in Formula 1 this year was recognized at a special awards ceremony in London, with senior engineers from both teams receiving awards which recognized their talents. 

John Iley, Head of Aerodynamics at Ferrari F1, and Rob White, Deputy Managing Director (engines) at Renault F1, received their trophies at an awards dinner held at the RAF Museum in London as part of the World Motorsport Symposium. 

Deutsch UK, a name well known in the motorsport industry, was the recipient of the inaugural Most Innovative New Motorsport Product 2006 award, for its groundbreaking double density connectors. zzzz

"I am pleased to accept the Racecar Aerodynamicist of the Year award on behalf of the aero department at Ferrari F1," said John Iley, on receiving the special trophy from Soheila Kimberley, publishing director of 'Race Tech' and 'Bernoulli' magazines. "Along with the entire team, we have all worked very hard this year to ensure we remain as competitive as we have been and giving both drivers the chance to win races." 

Rob White also paid tribute to his engine team, saying that he was accepting the trophy on its behalf. "I am proud to be a part of the team that has provided Fernando Alonso with his second consecutive World Championship. Everyone at Renault F1 has worked very hard to maintain our superiority over our competitors. I am pleased to accept the Race Engine Designer award on behalf of everyone in the department." 

On receiving his award from Danny Lopez, executive director of marketing at UK Trade & Investment (the host sponsor), Dave Watters, head of autosport at the company, said: "Deutsch is name that is very well known to motorsport engineers and I am honored that we have been recognized for the innovative range of double density connectors that has been especially developed for the motorsport industry." 

The World Motorsport Symposium took place at the RAF Museum in London on 29/30 November, with the special awards dinner taking place in the Milestones of Flight Hall on the 29th. The first day of the Symposium was dedicated to racing engine technology and the second day to aerodynamics, with attendees from around the world.

Toyota tested alone on Friday Toyota tested alone on Friday(GMM)  With every other team leaving Barcelona on Thursday evening, Toyota race drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli stayed at the chilly Catalunya circuit for another day of pre-season testing.

"(The team) had the circuit to itself," a statement on Friday confirmed.

Chief engineer Dieter Gass said: "We put in some quite quick lap times and the circuit was for sure in a very good condition after the three-day test this week."

With the exception of Spyker, the entire F1 circus resumes running next Wednesday at the Jerez circuit, also in Spain.

Track News
LBGP at LA Auto Show LBGP at LA Auto ShowThe 33rd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is lending a decidedly "race-y" flavor to the 100th Anniversary Los Angeles Auto Show, running now through December 10 at the L.A. Convention Center.

The Grand Prix exhibit in the 600 Row of Kentia Hall will feature a Lola Champ Car from Tecate, a major sponsor of the April 13-15, 2007 racing weekend through the streets of Long Beach. 

Special features of the Grand Prix display will be the appearance of the three finalists from the 2006 Tecate Miss Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Pageant, who will be available for photos and autographs from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2, 3, 9 and 10. zzzz

Also on Saturday, Dec. 9, Pacific Coast Motorsports Champ Car drivers Ryan Dalziel and Alex Figge will be on-hand from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to sign autographs and discuss their perspective on Champ Car's 2007 season.

And, members of the now-legendary Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach "Committee of 300" will be available to answer questions and distribute information about the 2007 race weekend. As always, visitors to the Grand Prix booth can enter to win FREE race tickets. Drawings for free race tickets take place several times throughout each day.

The 100th Anniversary L.A. Auto Show is open from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thur.,  11 a.m. -10:30 p.m. Fri., 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat. and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.

Renault notebook Renault notebookWhile the Renault test team is hard at work in Spain, the engine technical group at Viry is gearing up for 2007 -- and a special anniversary. The 2007 season will mark a significant change in working practice for the engine development groups throughout Formula 1. With the pending introduction of engine homologation rules, the teams will, for the first time in many years, not be designing a brand new engine for the coming season. Instead, all teams will run with versions of their 2006 engine, modified to meet the new 2007 rules. Rob White, technical deputy managing director at Viry, explained how work is progressing.

Q: Rob, the team at Viry-Châtillon has won consecutive world titles with two very different engines. How big a source of pride is that? zzzz

Rob White: Every single person at Viry is extremely proud of what we have achieved over the past two seasons. To become the final champions of the V10 era, and the first of the V8 period, is a unique achievement. Some elements of our approach for 2006 were criticized, but the engine won its first race. That was a powerful statement. And by the end of the year, the RS26 had proved itself to be a top-line F1 engine in the only way that matters: by scoring more points than any other during the season. That reflected not only the hard work we had done at Viry, but also the constant improvements in communication and collaboration with our colleagues at Enstone.

Q: The focus is now firmly on 2007. How is the program progressing?

RW: The program for 2007 is significantly different to previous years. It will be year two of the V8 engine regulations but most importantly, we will not be designing a brand new engine.

Q: Is that a major change for you?

RW: Very much so. Since 2001, Viry has produced a significantly different engine each season. For 2007, though, the regulations impose the use of the unit we ran in China/Suzuka as the basis of our new engine, with a rev limit fixed at 19,000 rpm. Initially, our task is to re-optimize the RS26 to meet this new restriction. Subsequently, we are allowed to work on optimizing the engine's installation in the chassis.

Q: What are the major milestones for this project?

RW: There are two. By 15 December, all the engine manufacturers must submit to the FIA a declaration of the modifications to their engine relative to the Suzuka 2006 version. Then, by 1 March 2007, they must supply the FIA with an example of the modified engine. We are working with these two key dates in mind.

Q: The team will also supply Red Bull with engines in 2007. What impact has that had?

RW: It is a positive move for Renault, and for the team at Viry. Firstly, it will reinforce Renault's presence in the sport in association with a high-profile competitor. Secondly, it allows us to compensate for some of the impact of the reduction in engine development activity brought about through the regulations. Obviously, the agreement has also had an impact on the structure of our trackside support operations, as we prepare to run four engines at every race and test rather than just two. Those changes are now being finalized, with a view to the beginning of our engine supply agreement in January 2007.

Q: Will supplying two teams be an extra burden for the team?

RW: No. The teams at Viry have extensive experience of supplying multiple teams, and it forms part of Renault's F1 tradition as well as our core skills. Our customer engines have won 80 Grands Prix in the past. Red Bull will use units to the same specification as the works team. We will seek to take advantage of that during our pre-season preparations, as we will have twice as much data from track testing than we would otherwise have had.

Q: Finally, Viry-Châtillon celebrates its 30th anniversary this week...

RW: There is great pride in the heritage of Viry-Châtillon and its achievements over the past thirty years. This is the place that introduced the turbocharged engine to Formula 1 in 1977, took six consecutive constructors' titles from 1992 to 1997, and has become only the fourth driver-team combination in history to achieve the 'double double' of world championships. Looking back over the last thirty years, Renault has won eight constructors' world championships -- second only to Ferrari. It is a formidable achievement that commands real respect, and a testament to the hard work and competitive spirit of all our personnel.

30 years of innovation and expertise

This week, the Renault F1 Team's engine factory in Viry-Châtillon celebrates thirty years in Formula 1. Sitting proudly above the A6 autoroute just south of Paris, the site welcomed Renault Sport in 1976. Before than, the sporting arm of the French manufacturer had been based in Dieppe, in western France.

In its first years, the factory -- which was significantly smaller than now -- produced both the chassis and engine of the Renault Turbo cars, which were driven by Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Rene Arnoux. These walls housed the knowledge and determination that earned Renault its first successes in Formula 1. Driven by innovators such as Bernard Dudot, Gerard Larrousse, Francois Castaing and others, the story had begun.

As the 1990s approached, the Viry-Châtillon site became home to another technology that Renault would make its own: the V10 engine. This famous unit won drivers' world championships in the hands of Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve, and took six consecutive constructors' championships from 1992 to 1997 with the Williams and Benetton teams.

Today, after two consecutive world title successes in 2005 and 2006, the Renault F1 Team's engine base is proud to have won eight constructors' championships in its twenty five seasons in the sport. During the thirty years since Renault's F1 debut, only Ferrari has won more titles, and this exceptional track record is testament to technical expertise of the highest order.

"Renault has been a benchmark in Formula 1 for thirty years," commented Rob White. "Our successes today are built on the foundations laid by the turbo pioneers three decades ago, and supported by the might of the entire Renault Group. We are proud to be the guardians of this heritage, and are working flat out to ensure we can continue our success in the coming years."

To the victors, the spoils

After a season of world championship success, it is only appropriate that the men and women responsible should receive recognition for their achievements. Race Engine Technology magazine has elected the RS26 V8 engine as its 'Grand Prix Race Engine of the Year 2006' while Rob White was named '2006 Race Engine Designer of the Year' by RaceTech magazine, during a ceremony held this week in London.

Industry News
Chrysler and Toyota sales up, Ford down Chrysler and Toyota sales up, Ford downDaimlerChrysler AG announced today vehicle sales rose 4.7 percent in November.

Sales at DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group rose 2.9 percent from November 2005 to 164,556, while Mercedes-Benz sold 22,079 vehicles, its third highest performance and a 21 percent jump from a year ago.

Overall, DaimlerChrysler said U.S. sales were 186,635 in the month. More detailed figures for Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz will be released later today.

Ford Motor Co.'s November vehicle sales dropped 10 percent compared with November 2005, company officials announced this afternoon in a news release. zzzz

The company said it delivered 182,259 vehicles to dealers in November, roughly 18,000 fewer than the same time last year. However, the hot selling Ford Fusion continued to climb the sales charts, increasing sales 66 percent over last year's numbers.

Overall, Ford's car sales dropped 2.6 percent and truck sales dropped 12.9 percent.

Toyota Motor Corp. reported its best-ever November sales numbers and for the second time this year outsold Ford Motor Co. in the U.S. market.

Toyota said its overall division, including the Lexus and Scion brands, sold 195,695 vehicles in November, a 15.9 percent increase over last November. Ford's six brands sold 182,259 units in November. This is only the second time that Toyota has sold more vehicles in a month than Ford in the U.S.; the last time was July.

F1 week in review F1 week in review
Speed, other F1 drivers back on track: California native Scott Speed and many other Formula One drivers are back on the track as the teams begin preparing for 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship season that includes the eighth annual United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, June 17.

The testing ban that has been in place since the 2006 season finale Oct. 22 in Brazil is over, and all of the F1 teams except Spyker headed to Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya for a three-day test session that ended Nov. 30.

Speed racked up a total of 206 laps over the three days in his Scuderia Toro Rosso. That equates to more than three full Grand Prix distances at the Spanish circuit.

In 2007, all teams will use Bridgestone tires. This was the first chance that teams running Michelin tires in 2006, including Toro Rosso, had to try out the new Bridgestones.

"Our aim was to understand all the implications of switching to a new tire supplier," Toro Rosso Chief Engineer Laurent Mekies said. "Bridgestone seems to be making a big effort despite the lack of competition.

"We carried out some fairly basic tests as it was our first run on these tires, and there were no bad surprises. It was vital to try and separate the results of car performance and tire performance, in order to understand what data will still be relevant when we run with next year's car.

"The drivers also had to adapt their driving styles to suit the new rubber."

There will be two more test sessions before the end of the year, Dec. 6-8 and Dec. 13-15, at the Jerez track in Spain. zzzz

Ferrari quickest: Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, who won two races and finished second in the United States Grand Prix in 2006, set the quickest lap times on the first two days of the Barcelona test.

Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer posted the fastest time on the third day.

McLaren signs rookie Hamilton: McLaren-Mercedes has signed rookie Lewis Hamilton, 21, to partner two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso in the 2007 season.

"Having the best driver alongside you is going to be the best position to be in for any driver," Hamilton said of Alonso. "He is very experienced, very talented, and he is a few years older than me. He is going to have a lot to give the team, and also for me to learn from. I am looking forward to the challenge. I am ready for it and looking forward to the first race."

Hamilton's paternal grandparents immigrated to England from the Caribbean island of Grenada. He is the first driver of African-Caribbean heritage to race in F1.

A McLaren-Mercedes protégé for the past nine years, Hamilton won the Euroseries Formula 3 Championship in 2005 and the GP2 Championship in 2006.

"Obviously, as a Grand Prix team, we exist to win," said McLaren chairman Ron Dennis, "and having an expectation for Lewis to win next season is not unrealistic if we have a strong car performance. But certainly that will not be in the early part of the season. That is obviously far too high an expectation.

"One of his greatest qualities, which many of us have witnessed, is his ability never to give up. That is the spirit I expect to see, no matter where he qualifies or where he finishes."

Pedro de la Rosa, who replaced 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya at McLaren for eight races after Montoya switched from F1 to NASCAR earlier this year, remains with McLaren as a test driver.

Hakkinen back in F1: Mika Hakkinen, World Champion in 1998 and 1999 and winner of the 2001 United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, drove a F1 car in earnest for the first time since he retired from F1 at the end of 2001.

He spent Nov. 30 at Barcelona testing with his old team, McLaren-Mercedes.

"It has been an exciting day for me, and I have really enjoyed the opportunity to drive a F1 car after a five-year break," said Hakkinen, 38. "I spent the morning really acclimatizing to the environment of the cockpit again and just getting to grips with driving a 2006 car.

"I didn't expect to be quick straight away, and Barcelona is, of course, a hard track on both the car and driver. It took several laps before I was up to speed, but we were all expecting this to be the case."

Hakkinen set the slowest time of the 18 drivers on the track that day but did a respectable job considering he has been out of F1 for five years and the cars have changed considerably in that time.

He may test for McLaren-Mercedes again, and while there are no plans for him to race in F1, he may become a consultant for the team.

Davidson to race: Anthony Davidson, who has worked as a test driver for the Honda (formerly BAR) team since 2001, will race for the Super Aguri F1 Team in 2007 alongside teammate to Takuma Sato. Davidson will not be considered a rookie since he competed in three Grands Prix as a substitute driver for the Minardi and Honda teams.

Schumacher remains involved with Ferrari: Seven-time World Champion and five-time United States Grand Prix winner Michael Schumacher will continue his association with Ferrari.

He drove for the team from 1996 until he retired at the end of the 2006 season. His new role at Ferrari will be as an advisor to the F1 team, including assisting in driver choice, and as a consultant on Ferrari's road car design and development.

"Even if he won't be inside the cockpit, his experience and his professionalism will be very useful for the future of Ferrari," Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo said. "I'm very happy that Michael will continue to work with us and to share our choices and contributing to them and this is important. Michael will be (Jean) Todt's de-facto super assistant for certain things."

At the moment, Schumacher is taking it easy and enjoying his retirement.

"The last 16 years of my life have been completely organized and planned out," he said, "so now I'd just like to go with the flow for a while."

Wedding bells: Spyker driver Christijan Albers has married his fiancée, Liselore Kooijman.

Charity run: Members of the Renault F1 Team raised more than $4,500 for the Children in Need charity in England by conducting a marathon X-Biking relay in the team's gym facility.

2007 USGP tickets: Reserved Race Day and three-day "Season Passes" for the 2007 United States Grand Prix, June 15-17, are on sale to all customers.

The first 2,500 customers to purchase at least two Race Day reserved tickets or a pair of four-day "Season Pass" tickets from Nov. 1-Dec. 15 will be mailed the Official Formula One Season Review 2006. This is the only opportunity for fans in the United States to get this special full-color book - a $40 value - that features a detailed recap of all 18 Grands Prix in this exciting season, including the USGP.

2 IMSA GT3 races to support USGP 2 IMSA GT3 races to support USGPThe IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin will conduct two support races June 16-17 during the 2007 United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A 30-minute race is scheduled for Saturday, June 16 and Sunday, June 17 on the 2.605-mile IMS road course. The two races are part of an 11-round schedule for the series.

The largest single-make series in North America, the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge gives top semi-professional and gentlemen drivers from the United States and North America the opportunity to compete in the world's most successful GT3 sports car - the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racer. Fields in 2006 exceeded 45 entries, and series organizers expect at least 50 entries for each race in 2006.

All competitors in the series, entering its third season, will field the new Type 997 cars from Porsche in 2007. The purpose-built race cars, based on the Porsche 997 body style, will have sealed engines and transmissions, providing for close racing where the driver's talents are exemplified.

Johnson pockets over $15M Johnson pockets over $15MNEW YORK – NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams and drivers have competed all season long for this. It’s time to present the final point fund awards and this year’s total is another record-setting amount for NASCAR.

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) will collect a point fund award of $6,785,982, bringing his 2006 season total winnings to $15,770,125 – a new single season winnings record. Johnson has won more than $44 million during his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup career.
And that’s just the beginning.

The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 drivers will share $22,081,489, the largest top 10 point fund payout in series history. Each of the Top 10 will receive over $1 million, and they aren’t the only million-dollar winners at year’s end. zzzz 

Eleventh-place driver Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet) received a $250,000 bonus for finishing 11th and his total point fund award is $1,143,888. Stewart also receives $310,000 for winning three special awards – the Bank of America Card Services Mid-Race Leader Award, the USG Improving the Finish Award and the WIX Lap Leader Award – bringing his 2006 total to $8,739,169, the third-highest season total in the series.

Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWALT Power Tools Chevrolet), who finished second in the standings, receives $2,841,047 from the point fund and $75,000 for the Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award – to go along with his regular-season race winnings of $6,608,919 for a 2006 total of $9,524,966. It is $102,202 more than he won in 2003, when he was the series champion.

Sixth-place Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), the series’ all-time money leader, collects $1,495,574 from the point fund for a season total of $7,471,447. With this payout, Gordon’s career winnings now total $82,838,526.

The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 – those drivers who participated in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup – gain the greatest rewards for their efforts, but the point fund is shared among many more drivers, down to 30th place in the standings. In total, more than $30.4 million will be distributed to the top 30 drivers.

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 – Point Awards and Season Totals:

Driver Race winnings  Special Awards Point Fund  Total
1.Jimmie Johnson $8,909,143 $75,000 $6,785,982 $15,770,125
2. Matt Kenseth $6,608,919 $75,000 $2,841,047 $9,524,966
3. Denny Hamlin $4,389,222 $50,000 $2,168,710 $6,607,932
4. Kevin Harvick $6,201,578 $100,000 $1,929,828 $8,231,406
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. $5,466,104 $1,645,635 $0 $7,111,739
6. Jeff Gordon $5,975,873 $1,495,574 $0 $7,471,447
7. Jeff Burton $5,008,882 $1,356,113 $0 $6,364,995
8. Kasey Kahne $6,204,222 $201,000 $1,316,156 $7,721,378
9. Mark Martin $4,282,548 $1,286,200 $0 $5,568,748
10. Kyle Busch $4,821,093 $1,256,244 $0 $5,537,337
11. Tony Stewart $7,285,281 $310,000 $1,143,888 $8,739,169
NASCAR’s Champions Revel in New York Visit NASCAR’s Champions Revel in New York Visit
Haas CNC to run 2 cup cars Haas CNC to run 2 cup carsHaas CNC Racing beginning in 2007 will compete in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series with two full time cars. Currently the team fields the #66 entry and in 2007 Haas will add the #70 to complete the two car program. Jeff Green (#66) and Johnny Sauter (#70) have been contracted to provide driving services.
Forsythe to test dynamic trio Forsythe to test dynamic trioForsythe Championship Racing will head back to the MSR Houston Road Course December 11th-12th to continue its testing program in preparation for the 2007 Champ Car World Series Season.  Adam Carroll, Simon Pagenaud and Jay Howard have been selected by the Forsythe Team to drive their Lolas B2K00 around the challenging 2.4 mile Texan facility.  

Adam Carroll is no stranger to Champ Car; he tested this year with the RuSPORT Team and was selected to be a reserve driver for Justin Wilson at the Champ Car Season Finale in Mexico City.  He was Honda Racing F1’s test driver in 2005 and 2006 and also competed and won races in the GP2 Series.  zzzz  

At the beginning of the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Season nobody could’ve predicted who was going to take home the $2 million dollar prize for winning the Championship.  In an extremely competitive field, Simon Pagenaud’s speed and consistency paid off as he was able to clinch the Championship at the season finale with 1 Victory, 6 Podiums, 1 Pole Position and 9 front row starts.  Pagenaud previously competed in the World Series by Renault in 2005 and was a runner up in the Formula Renault European Championship in 2004.  

Jay Howard won the Pole for his first ever Indy Pro Series race at Homestead, he went on to win the 2006 title by 4 points, the closest margin in series history.  His Championship run was highlighted by 2 Victories, 5 Podiums, and 2 Pole Positions.  Howard’s career also includes championships in the U.S. (2004) and United Kingdom (2003) in Formula Ford Zetec.  

Adam Carroll
"I feel great about having the opportunity to test with a team like Forsythe.  I’ve been working really hard on my physical training lately so I can be in top shape and give it everything I’ve got.  Next week I’ll travel to Indianapolis to visit the team at their shop and it will be a good opportunity for everybody to get to know each other and spend some time together before we get out on the track.  Champ Cars are a lot of fun to drive, it’s a good driver’s car and you really have to hustle it around.  This year I’ve gotten to know the Champ Car World Series up close and it is definitely the championship where I want to be next year."  

Simon Pagenaud
"I'm honored that the Forsythe Team has decided to give me this opportunity.  I know many of the members of the Team and I am very aware of how hard they work, I want to be able to show them that I can do the job well and that I can give them good feedback so we can have a successful test.  MSR Houston is a very physical track but I know I’m fit enough to drive the car so I’m not worried about that, more than anything I’m just going to have to get used to the speed and to the brakes of a Champ Car.  It’s great to be able to get some testing in before the Christmas break, I’m just going to do my best and we’ll see what happens."  

Jay Howard
"For me this is a great opportunity, I mean as far as I see it the Forsythe Team could get anybody they want whenever they want to test their car and they chose me so I think that speaks volumes of what they think of me and it reflects on what I’ve done over the years and I’m very happy about that.  I know I’ll do as good a job as I do with everybody else and I’ll be the fastest guy on the track.  I’ve never driven a car like this before so I’ll have to figure out the bits and pieces and where the limit of the car is.  I’m fitter and stronger than I’ll ever been, basically I’ve been preparing for this call for the last six months, I know I’ll be good."  

Phil LePan, Team Manager
"This will be a good opportunity to get back on track and help the team continue its preparations for next year.  We still have some miles on our engines so we want to make sure that we can get as much track time and test as much as possible before we get the new Panoz cars.  We will continue working on the test plan that we started this week so we can get the most amount of data in."
Pacific Coast completes another test Pacific Coast completes another testOxnard, CA - The 2007 season has started for Pacific Coast Motorsports; they completed their second Champ Car test on Thursday, in preparation for their 2007 series debut.  PCM drivers American Alex Figge and Scot Ryan Dalziel logged 490 miles each, driving the Rocketsports Lola’s.    

It was the second test in as many weeks at Houston MSR, the PCM crew had a specific test plan to complete, including work on tire management, distance running, fuel conservation, and the analysis of the car’s handling with changing fuel loads.  Despite inclement weather, which forced the team to wrap the test early on Thursday, team director Tyler Tadevic was pleased with the outcome, "these tests have been extremely worthwhile for our drivers and engineers. They’ve allowed us to simulate different race conditions, work on strategies and scenarios, but most importantly, they’ve given the drivers an incredible amount of valuable seat-time.  We ran almost 1,000 miles combined over the two days and both drivers are quick, they’re confident and they are working very well with their engineers." Zzzz  

  While other teams used the test days as an audition for their coveted 2007 Champ Car seats, Figge and Dalziel took advantage of the on-track traffic in their race simulations and preparation for the highly anticipated ’07 season. Driver of the #29 car, Alex Figge commented, "Houston MSR is such a fast race-track.  Our goal this week was to do long-distance running and it was great to have a few other cars out there. Part of the training for race-distance testing is mental focus and car handling. The extra cars created an important element for us.  In addition, I feel great, which is a relief because I have spent most of the fall in the gym!"   

Teammate Ryan Dalziel, driver of the #28 car also achieved his goals for the test, "It was the first time that I have really done a long run or a bunch of long runs while testing.  We did three long runs the second day and I wasn’t tired, so that was a personal goal that I realized and I am pretty happy with the outcome."  

  What’s Next: Pacific Coast Motorsports will complete their final test using the Rocketsports Lola next Thursday, December 7th and Friday, December 8th at the California Speedway road course in Fontana.  "We are going to structure and approach the Fontana test like a race weekend and run a race simulation on Friday afternoon," said team manager Michael Harvey.  "We will run a 1.5 hour practice Friday morning.  We’ll then stop through to the early afternoon, make the changes necessary to the car and then run a simulated qualifying session.  We will finish the day working on pitstops.  Friday morning we will build up toward a complete race distance, which we plan for Friday afternoon.  It will be another great opportunity for our drivers and engineers; we are looking forward to it."  

Meet Champ Car’s Newest Stars at the LA Auto Show:  Pacific Coast Motorsports driver and Champ Car’s lone ambassador for the Stars and Stripes, Alex Figge and teammate Ryan Dalziel will be greeting fans at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach booth at the 2007 LA Auto Show.  Figge and Dalziel will be on hand, signing autographs and photos Saturday, December 9 from 11:00 – 4:30 pm.  The 2007 LA Auto Show is at the Los Angeles Convention Center and the Long Beach Grand Prix booth is in the Kentia hall, row 600.  For more information visit www.pcmracing.com
Industry News
GM sales up for November GM sales up for NovemberGeneral Motors dealers in the United States sold 297,556 new cars and trucks in November, a 6 percent increase compared with last year. Beginning with the 2007 model year in September, retail sales are up 13 percent and while retail sales for November were up 11 percent compared to a year ago.
Alonso confirmed McLaren move on Brazil podium Alonso confirmed McLaren move on Brazil podiumRon Dennis has revealed it was on the podium of the 2005 Brazilian GP where Alonso gave him the nod to join McLaren.

"Our first conversation took place on the podium in Brazil, after he won his first world title," Dennis told Spain's As Newspaper in an interview. "We scored a one-two in that race and he finished third.

"He talked to me about how much he liked our car and I asked him if he wanted to be part of our family. He said he did, that he would like that.

"Two weeks later we met in secret in Japan. And three weeks after that race, he signed the contract with us. It was all very fast and easy."

Glock fastest in Valencia Glock fastest in ValenciaTimo Glock set the fastest time of the day in GP2 testing at Valencia Friday.  He set his fast time in the cooler morning session and that time held up all day.

Morning times:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Timo Glock iSport 1:18.541 27
 2. Antonio Pizzonia FMS International 1:18.793 22
 3. Andreas Zuber iSport 1:18.825 30
 4. Nicolas Lapierre Dams 1:18.841 34
 5. Javier Villa Racing Engineering 1:18.936 25
 6. Giorgio Pantano Campos Racing 1:18.949 27
 7. Jose Maria Lopez BCN Competicion 1:19.035 18
 8. Xandi Negrao Piquet Sports 1:19.052 34
 9. Michael Ammermuller ART Grand Prix 1:19.096 19
10. Mike Conway Super Nova 1:19.215 22
11. Kazuki Nakajima Dams 1:19.242 37
12. Alvaro Parente Super Nova 1:19.253 26
13. Kohei Hirate Trident Racing 1:19.258 32
14. Borja Garcia Durango 1:19.293 18
15. Alberto Valerio Durango 1:19.295 29
16. Andy Soucek DPR 1:19.368 24
17. Roldan Rodriguez Piquet Sports 1:19.400 32
18. Sergio Jiminez BCN Competicion 1:19.529 29
19. Adrian Zaugg Arden International 1:19.555 22
20. Bruno Senna Arden International 1:19.598 32  zzzz
21. Ben Hanley Racing Engineering 1:19.690 30
22. Pastor Maldonado Trident Racing 1:19.905 38
23. Ernesto Viso DPR 1:19.916 16
24. Ricardo Risatti Campos Racing 1:20.044 25
25. Jason Tahinci FMS International 1:20.220 30
26. Lucas di Grassi ART Grand Prix 5:48.695 2 

Afternoon times:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Luca Filippi Arden International 1:18.680 34
 2. Nicolas Lapierre Dams 1:18.689 24
 3. Borja Garcia Durango 1:18.705 30
 4. Andreas Zuber iSport International 1:18.743 40
 5. Jose Maria Lopez BCN Competicion 1:18.899 29
 6. Giorgio Pantano Campos Racing 1:18.956 32
 7. Michael Ammermuller ART Grand Prix 1:19.007 37
 8. Lucas di Grassi ART Grand Prix 1:19.011 27
 9. Antonio Pizzonia FMS International 1:19.055 22
10. Xandi Negrao Piquet Sports 1:19.093 30
11. Andy Soucek DPR 1:19.229 27
12. Timo Glock iSport International 1:19.255 23
13. Kazuki Nakajima Dams 1:19.315 29
14. Ben Hanley Racing Engineering 1:19.371 40
15. Javier Villa Racing Engineering 1:19.417 33
16. Roldan Rodriguez Piquet Sports 1:19.428 27
17. Sergio Jiminez BCN Competicion 1:19.469 41
18. Nico Hulkenberg Super Nova 1:19.495 45
19. Kohei Hirate Trident Racing 1:19.518 41
20. Ricardo Risatti Campos Racing 1:19.693 31
21. Mike Conway Super Nova 1:19.925 34
22. Ernesto Viso DPR 1:19.981 25
23. Alberto Valerio Durango 1:20.113 17
24. Jason Tahinci FMS International 1:20.232 26
25. Bruno Senna Arden International 1:20.539 23
26. Pastor Maldonado Trident Racing 1:21.450 14
27. Adrian Zaugg Arden International 1:21.572 2

Cheating NASCAR crew chief wins award Cheating NASCAR crew chief wins awardCaught cheating at Daytona and suspended for five races, Chad Knaus accepted the Nextel Cup Series Championship Crew Chief Award at the NMPA Myers Brothers luncheon Thursday at Cipiriani restaurant.

"Have you ever had a dream that has stuck with you your whole life?" Knaus said. "I truly have. I've always loved cars, and as a child, I dreamt of being a crew chief in the Nextel Cup Series. I'm lucky. My dream actually came true."

"The biggest thing I learned is I could not do it myself, as much as I tried," Knaus said. "I have the best team in the business at Hendrick Motorsports, and it took all 560 team members at Hendrick Motorsports to make this championship season happen."

Gibbs signs Coleman Gibbs signs ColemanJoe Gibbs Racing has signed 18-year-old Brad Coleman to drive in 17 Busch Series races with the team next season.  Coleman will share the No. 18 Chevrolet driven this season by J.J. Yeley.  The other 18 races will be split between Aric Almirola and Tony Stewart. A sponsor for Coleman's 17-race deal with JGR will be announced within a week, the driver said.   The deal was signed Thursday afternoon in New York.  "I feel very blessed to be with the Gibbs organization," Coleman said. "I have great respect for the way they run their race teams and their lives. I'm just honored to be a part of their family."
FIA release car numbers for 2007 FIA release car numbers for 2007F1's governing body, the Paris based Federation International d'Automobile, has published an official entry list for the 2007 season.

There are no obvious surprises, but it is notable that Honda has not named a replacement as title sponsor for the departing Lucky Strike.

Also interestingly, Toro Rosso is the only team listing 'TBA' (to be announced) for both of its race driver slots, despite Gerhard Berger saying recently that Scott Speed will retain his seat alongside Vitantonio Liuzzi.

The Faenza-built cars, meanwhile, are to be known in 2007 as 'STR-Ferraris', and Super Aguri hinted that it is on the hunt for a title sponsor by prefacing its official title 'Super Aguri F1 Team' with the descriptor 'TBA'.

1. Fernando Alonso (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes)
2. Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes)
3. Giancarlo Fisichella (ING Renault F1 Team)
4. Heikki Kovalainen (ING Renault F1 Team)
5. Felipe Massa (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro)
6. Kimi Raikkonen (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro)
7. Jenson Button (Honda Racing F1 Team)
8. Rubens Barrichello (Honda Racing F1 Team)
9. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber F1 Team)
10. Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber F1 Team)
11. Ralf Schumacher (Panasonic Toyota Racing)
12. Jarno Trulli (Panasonic Toyota Racing)
14. David Coulthard (Red Bull Racing)
15. Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing)
16. Nico Rosberg (AT&T Williams)
17. Alexander Wurz (AT&T Williams)
18. TBA (Scuderia Toro Rosso)
19. TBA (Scuderia Toro Rosso)
20. Christijan Albers (Spyker F1 Team)
21. TBA (Spyker F1 Team)
22. Takuma Sato (TBA Super Aguri F1 Team)
23. Anthony Davidson (TBA Super Aguri F1 Team)

racing news
Penske honored by RBS Penske honored by RBSThe Royal Bank of Scotland has presented Roger Penske with an RBS Outstanding Achievement Award for his contribution to the motorsport industry in the course of the last 40 years. The award, which has been created to acknowledge outstanding business acumen and achievement within the motorsport industry, was presented at the second Annual RBS Motorsport Dinner in London last night. 
Bourdais nominated for Economaki award Bourdais nominated for Economaki awardWhen Sebastien Bourdais made racing history by becoming the first driver since Ted Horn to win three consecutive Champ Car World Series titles, he knew the awards and accolades would pile up. This week another was bestowed upon Bourdais as he was nominated for National Speed Sport News’s Economaki Champion of Champions Award Presented by Rockett Brand Racing Fuel.

In its fourth year The Economaki Champion of Champions Award is unique in that it takes champions from racing series throughout North America and decides who is truly the “Champion among the Champions.”

During 2006 Bourdais had a banner year in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, capturing not only his third consecutive series championship, but he also led the series in wins (7), poles (7), podium finishes (11), and laps led (522).The Frenchman showed early in the season that he would be the favorite for the title as he went out and captured four consecutive wins to start the season. zzzz

This year’s nominees for the award also include: Jorg Bergmeister (Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype and the American Le Mans Series GT2 classes), John Force, (NHRA Funny Car), Kevin Harvick (NASCAR Busch Series), Sam Hornish Jr. (Indy Racing League), Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR Nextel Cup), Tony Schumacher, (NHRA Top Fuel), Donny Schatz (World of Outlaws) and Josh Wise (USAC).

The Economaki Champion of Champions Award will be presented at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show which takes place in the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida on December 14th by National Speed Sport News Editor Chris Economaki at the National Speed Sport News booth.

This award is named in honor of Chris Economaki, the world's best-known reporter on the auto racing scene and legendary motorsports broadcaster, who also founded National Speed Sport News and has been the Editor and Publisher Emeritus of the publication for more than 50 years. Champ Car

Red Bull, STR, still using old power Red Bull, STR, still using old power(GMM) Red Bull and Toro Rosso are not yet working with their respective engine suppliers for the 2007 season.

Toro Rosso ran at the Barcelona test this week with its usual Cosworth V10 setup, despite inking a deal to use Ferrari power next year.

"We have tested with the 2006 STR1 (car) and the Cosworth engine," a spokeswoman confirmed on Friday.

"We do not know yet when the new STR2-Ferrari will be ready to be tested."

Sister squad Red Bull Racing, meanwhile, will use the title winning Renault V8 next season, but had to be content with its usual Ferrari engines at Circuit de Catalunya as the new agreement does not begin until the New Year.

In contrast, the formerly Cosworth-powered team Williams is already testing its new Toyota units.

"The (Red Bull) agreement has had an impact on the structure of our trackside support operations," Renault's engine chief Rob White said, "as we prepare to run four engines at every race and test rather than just two.

"Those changes are now being finalized, with a view to the beginning of our engine supply agreement in January 2007."

TNT to televise NASCAR’s award banquets TNT to televise NASCAR’s award banquetsUPDATE Reminder: The NASCAR Awards Banquet will be televised Friday night, December 1.

11/28/06 The 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony will be televised on TNT on Fri., December 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, culminating this year’s NEXTEL Cup Series season and showcasing highlights of the year’s top drivers.  Hosting the event will be TNT's Bill Weber, joined by comedian Jay Mohr and musical guest Jewel.  

The Busch Series Awards Ceremony will air on TNT on Tues., December 19 at 12 a.m. ET/PT. 

DATE              TIME              EVENT
Fri., Dec. 1       9 p.m. ET/PT  2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony Waldorf Astoria in New York, NY
Tues., Dec. 19 12 a.m. ET/PT 2006 Busch Series Awards Ceremony

Rinaldo Capello and Allan McNish nominated Rinaldo Capello and Allan McNish nominatedBraselton, Ga. - Rinaldo Capello and Allan McNish rewrote not just the record books in the 2006 American Le Mans Series but in all of motorsports. It's a large reason why they have been nominated to the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association's annual All America team in the At-Large category.

The duo combined for eight LMP1 victories - Sebring, Houston, Mid-Ohio, Lime Rock, Portland, Mosport, Petit Le Mans and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca - to set a new Series standard. They also finished on the class podium in each of the Series' 10 races as they clinched the class drivers championship with two races remaining. zzzz

Five of their victories came with the diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI, including a historic victory at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Tom Kristensen. The trio also finished third overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Between Sebring and Le Mans, Capello/McNish won three times with the Audi R8, which went into retirement with an emotional overall race win at Lime Rock Park.

McNish won his second Series championship to go along with the championship he won in 2000. In 2006 he was the fastest LMP1 qualifier three times and posted the class' fast lap of the race three times. For his career McNish has 15 victories and 22 podium finishes in just 30 starts.

Capello is now the Series' all-time leader in overall career victories with 21. After finishing second in the championship twice and third on another occasion, his title with McNish was particularly satisfying. In 41 Series starts he has 22 class wins, 33 podium finishes, eight pole positions and three fastest race laps.

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

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

Some big names to test for Rolex 24 Some big names to test for Rolex 24While the month of December is traditionally “down time” in the world of motorsports, Homestead-Miami Speedway will be a hotbed of activity next week as the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve will converge on the South Florida circuit for testing in preparation for the 2007 season, and more specifically, the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Twenty-two Daytona Prototypes and 15 GT machines have been entered for two days of testing on the 2.3-mile road course on Tuesday and Wednesday, December 5-6. Among the drivers slated to participate in the test are four-time NASCAR Cup champion and three-time Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon, as well as three-time Indy Racing League IndyCar Series and 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. zzzz

Gordon and Hornish will use the sessions to familiarize themselves with the Daytona Prototypes they will drive in the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Gordon will share the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley with 2005 Daytona Prototype co-champions and Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winners Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli in what will be his first appearance in the twice-around-the-clock event.

Hornish, meanwhile, will return to the Rolex 24 for the first time since 1999, sharing the No. 60 Flight Options/Net App Lexus Riley with his Penske Racing IndyCar teammate, two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, as well as Rolex Series regulars Oswaldo Negri Jr. and Mark Patterson. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Hornish, as he will be reunited with Michael Shank Racing, for which he drove in the 1999 Toyota Atlantic championship before moving into IndyCars.

In addition to Angelelli and Taylor, two other Daytona Prototype champions have been entered for the Homestead test. Scott Pruett, the 2004 co-champion, is entered in the familiar No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley. Jörg Bergmeister, the 2006 champion, has been entered in a different car than the one he drove to the title, as he is listed in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford alongside co-driver Patrick Long.

The entry list features an additional eight cars with drivers that have at least one overall victory in Rolex Series competition. Three-time race winner Milka Duno is entered alongside Champ Car and IndyCar veteran Patrick Carpentier in the No. 11 SAMAX Motorsport Pontiac Riley, while two-time winner Jack Baldwin will share the No. 12 RVO Motorsports Pontiac Riley with Roger Schramm. No. 16 Thetford/Norcold Pontiac Crawford co-drivers Chris and Rob Dyson have both visited Rolex Series victory lane, as has No. 20 Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford driver Andy Wallace.

No. 39 Cheever Racing Porsche Crawford driver Christian Fittipaldi is another two-time Rolex Series race-winner, including the overall victory in the 2004 Rolex 24 At Daytona. David Donohue, who is sharing the No. 58 Red Bull/Brumos Racing Porsche Riley with Darren Law, owns three career Rolex Series victory, while their teammates in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar, Hurley Haywood and JC France, have two Rolex Series wins. Haywood is also a five-time overall winner of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. George Robinson earned his lone Rolex Series overall win at Mid-Ohio in 2000, and is entered to co-drive the No. 84 Robinson Racing Pontiac Riley with Shane Lewis at the test.

Ten of the 15 GT cars also feature drivers with at least one class victory in the Rolex Series, including the No. 06 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP of co-drivers Paul Edwards, Kelly Collins and Leighton Reese, the No. 15 Blackforest Motorsports Ford Mustang Cobra GT in the hands of Tom Nastasi, Champ Car veteran Alex Tagliani and the ever-popular Boris Said, and the No. 17 Doncaster Racing Porsche GT3 entry of Dave Lacey and Greg Wilkins. A few past class winners are listed in multiple entries, including Wayne Nonnamaker, who has been entered in the No. 41 Team Sahlen Porsche GT3, the No. 42 Team Sahlen Chevrolet Corvette and the No. 48 and No. 49 Team Sahlen Pontiac GTOs, alongside co-drivers Will Nonnamaker, Joe Sahlen and Joe Nonnamaker. Dominik Farnbacher and Leh Keen are entered in both the No. 85 No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Porsche GT3.

Industry News
GM closes GMAC sale GM closes GMAC saleGeneral Motors Corp. sold a majority of its General Motors Acceptance Corp. finance unit to a group led by Cerberus Capital Management LP on Thursday, raising $7.4 billion in cash and completing a transaction that began in April.

GMAC will be able to borrow at a lower cost by separating from its parent, cutting GM's cost to sell cars to customers. The sale of a 51 percent stake meets a goal of CEO Rick Wagoner as he works to recover from last year's $10.6 billion loss.

GM will take a $2.7 billion distribution from GMAC as part of the transaction, meaning it will get a total of $10.1 billion for the stake this year. GM will get another $4 billion over the next three years, the automaker said in a statement Thursday.

"We're delighted they got this deal closed and it's great to see everything was essentially as advertised," Pete Hastings, a fixed-income analyst at Morgan Keegan & Co. said Thursday. "The $14 billion will definitely be helpful."

Industry News
Despite huge incentives Chrysler sales drop Despite huge incentives Chrysler sales dropIn a bid to end a difficult year on a strong note, the Chrysler Group has launched a massive direct mail campaign targeting more than 3 million Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler owners and consumers who drive competing brands.

The Auburn Hills-based division of DaimlerChrysler AG is mailing coupons worth $1,000 to consumers that can be used in combination with existing incentives on many 2006 and 2007 model year vehicles.

"That's some very aggressive stuff," said Jim Sanfilippo, a senior analyst with AMCI, a West Bloomfield-based automotive marketing firm.

The direct mail offers, which are good through Jan. 2, come atop already heavy discounts on Chrysler vehicles.

In November, Chrysler plied customers with $4,224 per vehicle in average incentives, nearly double the industry average, according to Edmunds.com, a research Web site for car buyers.

Despite deep discounts, Chrysler sales are down 6.8 percent this year through October. Chrysler is expected to see more declines when November sales are released today.  More at Detroit News

Camry to make NASCAR debut in Bud Shootout Camry to make NASCAR debut in Bud ShootoutThe Toyota Camry will make its NASCAR Nextel Cup Series debut in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway during Speed Weeks.  Brian Vickers and Dale Jarrett, who will be wheeling Toyotas in 2007, are both eligible for the invitation-only sprint race.  In order to gain a starting position, a driver must have earned a pole position from the previous season, or be a past winner of the Shootout
Top NASCAR driver calls COT a flying brick Top NASCAR driver calls COT a flying brickLike it or not, NASCAR is set to start phasing in a new race car next season.  Some top drivers are making it abundantly clear they don't like it.

The "car of tomorrow" - taller, wider and safer - has come under increasing criticism. Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. voiced some of the strongest concerns yet Thursday during informal interviews after the National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers awards luncheon.

Drivers say they're happy about the car's safety enhancements, such as the relocation of the driver's seat four inches closer to the center, but Stewart says the design is ugly, and the changeover is placing an undue hardship on the teams.

"I think it could become the biggest disaster NASCAR has faced in a long time," the two-time Nextel Cup champion said.

Stewart nicknamed the car the "flying brick" a few weeks ago, and he picked up on that theme Thursday.

"Look at it," he said. "There's nothing attractive about the car. It looks like something that came straight from [Sports Car Club of America]. When we run them on road courses, I think they'll look really cool. But when you run them on ovals the other 36 weeks of the year, I don't think they're going to look too good." TBO.com

Jeff Gordon a nobody in NY City Jeff Gordon a nobody in NY CityJeff Gordon says one of the reasons he likes spending time in New York is he can move around without being recognized too often.  But he had a story Thursday about one time he did get recognized while walking with his now-wife, Ingrid Vandebosch, past Central Park.

"Somebody yelled out the window, 'Jeff, Jeff,'" Gordon said. "I thought I recognized the voice. I turned around, and he's like, 'What's up? What's up?' and it's [filmmaker] Spike Lee.

"He thought I didn't recognize him, but I did. He stuck his head out the window and says, 'Spike Lee. What's up?'" TBO.com

IRL President tries to paint rosy picture IRL President tries to paint rosy pictureStill lacking the sponsorship it needs to flourish, its IndyCar Series is struggling to keep and attract teams. Talks of an open-wheel merger have cooled, and the rival Champ Car World Series has joined its ABC/ESPN family of television networks, once an IRL advantage.

Even the news on the track is tempered. Popular driver Sam Hornish Jr. emerged from a crowded pack to win his third championship, but the Penske and Ganassi teams won 86 percent of the races (12 of 14) and led 83 percent of the laps. And now Hornish is driving a stock car on a part-time basis.

IRL president Brian Barnhart acknowledges the challenges that lie ahead, but he also sees promise for the 12th season. He addressed a variety of topics in a recent interview.  Interview with Brian Barnhart at Indystar

Toyota appoint another F1 chief Toyota appoint another F1 chiefToyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) announced today that Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) Managing Officer Tadashi Yamashina, who oversees motorsport-related activities, has been appointed the Vice Chairman of Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG), based in Cologne, Germany, effective from 1 December.  The aim is to strengthen Toyota's Formula 1 technical development and race strategy structures in advance of the 2007 F1 season.

As a TMC managing officer as well, Yamashina will remain in charge of both TMC's Motor Sports Division and Motorsport Business Management Department.

TMC Executive Vice President Kazuo Okamoto said: "As we head into the 2007 season, TMG needs to strengthen its organization, so we have decided to send Yamashina to head up the technical development.  He not only has technological knowledge but also a wealth of overseas experience, thus we're looking forward to the leadership he will bring to TMG." zzzz

TMG Chairman Tsutomu Tomita said: "With the addition of Yamashina as vice chairman, the three of us, including (TMG President) John Howett, will challenge to lead our team to its first victory."

Tadashi Yamashina Profile
Tadashi Yamashina joined Toyota in 1977. He was made project general manager of the Component & System Development Center's Vehicle Engineering Division in 1998, before being appointed general manager of the Vehicle Evaluation & Engineering Division 2, Vehicle Development Center 2, in the same year.  In 2001, he was seconded to Toyota Technical Center, U.S.A., Inc. as president.  He was made a managing officer in 2003.  After being responsible for technical administration and development of fuel cell technologies, he was assigned in 2006 to handle technology R&D and business activities related to motorsport.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Bridgestone deny Ferrari advantage
Hakk slow as Barcelona test winds up
Ex-F1 racer scales eighth highest mountain
Aguri wants Friday driver rule change
New Brits boost Silverstone sales
Da Matta 'happy' after crash recovery
Dennis asks Spain to 'respect' Alonso
Alonso could test in December - Dennis
Pedro warns McLaren to expect difficult '07
BMW boss defends Villeneuve axe
TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

Pike's Peak International Hill Climb Colorado Springs
1:00pm-2:00pm (R) Outdoor Channel
Baja 500 Baja
2:00pm-3:00pm NBC
Classic Adelaide Rally
-Recorded 2002 Adelaide, South Australia 2:00pm-3:00pm SPEED
IHRA Drag Racing Rockingham
6:00pm-7:00pm SPEED

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.

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