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DATE News (chronologically)
12/07/08
automotive

Peugeot, Renault Offered government help
PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault SA, France’s biggest carmakers, were asked by the government to avoid plant closures in exchange for subsidies to boost car sales, Le Monde reported today.

While Renault repeated Dec. 4 that there was “no question” of closing French factories, Peugeot has resisted giving such a clear commitment, the daily newspaper reported on its Web site, citing an unnamed government official.

The government is pressing the demand in exchange for a 500 million-euro ($630 million) auto-sector stimulus package announced the same day, Le Monde said. The new measures include a 1,000-euro incentive for consumers who scrap old cars and buy new ones, as well as cheap loans for carmakers’ financing arms.

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12/07/08
ga

AIM Team announces drivers for 2009 Rolex 24
AIM Autosport announces the complete driver lineup in the No. 61 Ford Riley for the 2009 Rolex 24 at Daytona teaming regular drivers Mark Mark Wilkins and Burt Frisselle with Alex Figge and John Farano. Alex and John will be at the wheel of AIM's No. 51 Ford Riley the rest of the season. David Empringham, who anchored the 2007 AIM entry in their maiden Rolex 24, has signed on as a reserve.

Originally planning to run two cars at Daytona with Farano and Figge taking the lead in AIM's new car, the No. 51 Ford Riley, the decision was made to combine resources and put the effort behind the No. 61 which will be running the entire season in search of a series championship in 2009. Farano recently put the 51 car through its paces during the October and November test days at Daytona using the time to become acquainted with Daytona Prototypes.

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12/07/08
racing news

Brits give Brit car award even though it was beat
The British McLaren team's MP4-23 has been voted Racing Car of the Year at this year's British Autosport Awards. The team won the drivers' title this year with Lewis Hamilton and, although they were beaten to the constructor's crown by Ferrari, the car was voted best of the season - following the MP4-22's victory in the same award last year.  So in essence the Brits, who run the show, gave the award to a car that was inferior.

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12/07/08
f1

Vettel voted best rookie
Sebastian Vettel was voted Rookie of the Year at the Autosport Awards on Sunday evening, picking up the prize after a remarkable first full season in Formula 1.

Vettel became Formula 1’s youngest ever race winner at the Italian Grand Prix last September, keeping Heikki Kovalainen’s McLaren at bay during a faultless drive in the wet.

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12/07/08
f1

Lewis named Driver of the Year
Lewis Hamilton was crowned International Driver of the Year at the Autosport Awards in London on Sunday evening.

Hamilton took the prestigious award for the second year in a row, after a monumental season saw him become Formula 1’s youngest ever world champion.

When asked how it felt to receive the award for the second time running, the McLaren star reminisced about his journey to the top. It’s kind of overwhelming,” he said.

"To receive an award, any award, is always a major privilege , and holding this one, it reminds me of all the times I've been to the Autosport Awards before, even my first time.

"To see what a journey it's been and see the number of people that have made it possible for me, makes me very proud."

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12/07/08
nassprint

Johnson hauls in $15.2M
These are the totals for the top 25 finishers in the standings:

Driver Race winnings NASCAR/Sprint Special awards 2008 total
1. Jimmie Johnson $7,354,861 $7,225,603 $590,000 $15,170,464
2. Carl Edwards $8,095,200 $3,094,010 $175,000 $11,364,210
3. Greg Biffle $4,906,164 $2,338,324 0 $7,244,488
4. Kevin Harvick $5,603,654 $2,015,796 0 $7,619,450
5. Clint Bowyer $4,514,595 $1,773,901 0 $6,288,496
6. Jeff Burton $5,542,181 $1,612,637 $111,312 $7,266,130
7. Jeff Gordon $5,944,145 $1,451,373 0 $7,395,518
8. Denny Hamlin $5,494,359 $1,419,121 0 $6,913,480
9. Tony Stewart $6,268,432 $1,368,868 0 $7,665,300
10. Kyle Busch $6,617,595 $1,544,615 $114,515 $8,276,725
11. Matt Kenseth $5,526,955 $967,528 0 $6,494,526
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. $4,611,290 $838,571 0 $5,449,861
13. David Ragan $3,980,813 $806,000 0 $4,786,813
14. Kasey Kahne $6,272,459 $757,460 0 $7,030,099
15. Martin Truex Jr. $4,663,447 $725,400 0 $5,388,847
16. Jamie McMurray $4,056,446 $693,160 0 $4,749,606
17. Ryan Newman $6,179,561 $660,920 $100,000 $6,940,481
18. Kurt Busch $4,469,511 $628,680 0 $5,098,191
19. Brian Vickers $3,630,340 $588,380 0 $4,218,720
20. Casey Mears $3,941,470 $451,360 0 $4,392,830
21. Bobby Labonte $4,668,831 $306,280 0 $4,975,111
22. David Reutimann $3,341,320 $145,080 0 $3,486,310
23. Travis Kvapil $4,250,752 $274,040 0 $4,524,792
24. Elliott Sadler $4,446,243 $257,920 0 $4,724,163
25. Juan Pablo Montoya $4,409,363 $241,800 0 $4,651,163


Note: Mark Martin ($275,920) and Aric Almirola ($128,960) shared the No. 8 team's share of points money; Scott Speed got $8,060 for driving one race in the No. 84 Toyota driven in the remaining races by Brian Vickers.

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12/07/08
formula BMW

Gutiérrez claims pole position for Formula BMW World Final
A second-place finish in the third heat for the Formula BMW World Final 2008 in Mexico City (MX) was enough for Josef Kaufmann Racing's Esteban Gutiérrez (MX) to secure pole position for the climax of the weekend's racing. In the last intermediate heat the local hero could only be beaten by his team-mate, Michael Christensen (DK). Mikael Grenier (CA) finished third for the Apex-HBR Racing Team.

In the points' standings which determine the starting grid for the highlight of the Formula BMW season, Gutiérrez only has five points to his tally, thus leading Christensen by two points. Daniel Juncadella (ES/Eurointernational), who like Gutiérrez had one of Saturday's heats, will line up in the second row of the grid next to Formula BMW Americas' overall winner, Alexander Rossi (US/Eurointernational).

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12/07/08
f1

Japanese media criticize Honda over pullout
Japanese newspapers leveled harsh criticism at cash-strapped Honda Motor over the weekend after its abrupt withdrawal from Formula One.

Honda announced the shock pullout on Friday citing the financial crisis, ending an involvement in the sport which dates back to the 1960s.

Leading F1 commentator Jun Imamiya said Honda had simply given up after performing poorly since returning as a full constructor in 2006.

"Honda, as we knew it in its first F1 period (1964-68) and the second period (1983-1992), didn't give a damn and went on its way, win or lose," Imamiya wrote.

"Fighting right now without calling time is what F1 is all about. Not putting things off. That's what Honda Motor Co. has taught the Japanese people," he added.

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12/07/08
f1

F1 teams undecided over 'medals' proposal
(GMM)  The F1 teams' alliance FOTA last Thursday kicked off discussions about Bernie Ecclestone's proposals for an Olympic Games-style 'medals' scoring system.

The 78-year-old F1 chief executive seems to have jumped the gun recently, when he declared that "all the teams are happy ... and the FIA are happy" to proceed with his idea to ditch the current system of awarding drivers' points down to eighth place.

A discussion among the teams actually commenced only in Geneva last Thursday, meaning it is not known if Ecclestone's concept will have the requisite support when the World Motor Sport Council meets in the coming days.

"We are discussing this issue in FOTA and we have not come to a clear opinion as yet," BMW-Sauber team boss Mario Theissen told DNA India in an interview.

"However, we will soon come to a joint conclusion and respond to Bernie's proposal.  It won't be fair to express an opinion now," the German said.

In the wake of Honda's shock announcement on Friday that it is leaving the sport, FIA president Max Mosley ridiculed the idea of shaking up the points system as akin to worrying about "the color of the wallpaper when you're on a sinking ship".

He subsequently told the Press Association: "I'd be inclined to go for medals, but I'd really like to listen to what everybody says about it because when you make these big changes, sometimes there are unintended consequences.

"My real preference would be to ask the public.  I think we ought to do a bit of market research," said Mosley.

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12/07/08
f1

Q and A with Luca di Montezemolo
It is a very delicate time in Formula One with Honda’s announcement to retire from the Championship hitting home to most of the grid, the economics of the situation proving to be more dire than originally thought, The announcement came just a few hours after the FOTA had unanimously decided further significant cost cuts in the series starting in the upcoming season, making their reasons a little bit harder to fully fathom.

Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo gave an exclusive interview to the official Ferrari website about these very relevant issues...

President Montezemolo, what is your reaction to Honda's announcement to retire from Formula 1?

I'm really sorry to hear this and I am close to the men of the team in this very difficult moment. Unfortunately these things can happen in difficult times like these. Over the years we've seen coming and going several constructors in Formula 1.

The FOTA's executive committee met in London. What decisions have been taken there?

First of all I want to say that I was very satisfied with the meeting's extremely cooperative climate. We unanimously took some very important decisions with short-term and mid-term impact, for the years 2009 and 2010, while we also set out a proposal for a new engine starting in 2011. We gave a further input as far as cost reduction is concerned to help especially the smaller teams over the upcoming season. It's a huge effort from all of us, which is important for two reasons: firstly because it wasn't planned, considering what has been planned a few weeks ago, and secondly, because it happens in a very delicate overall economical situation.

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12/07/08
f1

Button to get $22M severance from Honda
Jenson Button smiling all the way to the bank
Jenson Button will walk away with a massive $22 million payoff when Honda quits Formula One.  Button signed a new £8m-a-year, three-year deal just a few weeks ago.

But his Japanese paymasters want to renegotiate the contract and have left him free to talk with other teams.

Honda’s chairman and chief executive Takeo Fukui confirmed: “We had a deal with Button and we are going to restart the talks to undo that contract.”

Team chief Ross Brawn added: “If Jenson gets an opportunity we will sit down and see what the situation here is and what opportunity he has got.

“If we can keep him here we will be delighted but we also understand that it is very difficult for an F1 driver to miss a season — unlike engineers.

“If the team gets shut down, I’ll go fishing. That’s my favorite hobby anyway.”

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12/07/08
nascar
automotive

NASCAR joins fight to save Big Three
NASCAR chairman Brian France has lobbied Congress to support a financial rescue plan for the struggling Big Three automakers.  Chrysler, Ford and General Motors -- three of the four manufacturers that participate in NASCAR -- are pleading with Congress for a bailout to prevent their companies from going bankrupt.

"I'm writing you as a concerned American who wants what is best for our general country," France wrote. "Of course, the domestic automobile manufacturers play a very important part of the heritage of NASCAR, but more importantly, it is vital for all of America."

The letter, a copy of which was obtained Saturday by the Associated Press, was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell; Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee; and Sen. Richard Shelby, the senior Republican on the Banking Committee. It was dated Tuesday.

Read more & Comment...
12/07/08
tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below.
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Sunday
Hot Rod TV Marathon 
12:00am-5:00am (R) SPEED
Ten 1/2 hour shows
Summer Shootout Lowe's 
12:00pm-1:00pm -Round 1 SPEED
Chasing Baja - 40th Anniversary Baja 1000 
1:00pm-2:00pm (R) SPEED
German Touring Cars -2008 Season Highlights 
3:00pm-4:00pm (R) SPEED
Formula Drift Series Sonoma
4:00pm-5:00pm (9/13/08) SPEED
The SPEED Report 
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
Why We Race: The Mustang Challenge
Season Premiere 
8:00pm-9:00pm Discovery HD Theater
Check local listings for your time zone
PINKS All Outtakes Marathon 
8:00pm-12:00am (R) SPEED
Eight 1/2 hour shows
Monday (Partial)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards New York
2:00pm-4:00pm (R) ESPN2
Craftsman Truck Awards Hollywood, FL 
8:00pm-9:30pm (11/17/08)
All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV programs, see TVRacer.com

Comment
12/06/08
formula bmw

Victories for Gutiérrez and Juncadella
Daniel Juncadella
Esteban Gutiérrez (MX) and Daniel Juncadella (ES) are the favorites for securing pole position for the Formula BMW World Final 2008, after claiming a victory and a third place each in the two heats held at Mexico City (MX) today.

With three points each, the two young drivers jointly lead the points' classification which determines the starting grid for Sunday's final race. Gutiérrez won the first intermediate heat for Josef Kaufmann Racing. His teammate, Michael Christensen (DK), finished second, and is the best-placed Rookie of the day. Eurointernational's Juncadella crossed the line in third after 16 laps. In the second heat, Gutiérrez and Juncadella finished in reverse order with Alexander Rossi (US), who is also racing for Eurointernational, coming second in the middle of the two drivers from Formula BMW Europe.

Esteban Gutiérrez
"I'm really happy about how this day went for me," said Gutiérrez. "We were competitive in both heats, despite taking a rather conservative approach, as I didn't want to risk a promising grid position for the final. One win is in the bag - and I want to add some more tomorrow." Gutiérrez was involved in a thrilling battle with pole- sitter Jim Pla (FR/DAMS Racing) and Christensen. 

At the start he took the lead from Pla, but the Frenchman launched a successful counterattack on lap eight. Christensen worked his way up from fifth on the grid and passed his team-mate on lap 12 before also getting by Pla a lap later. Only on the final lap of the race Gutiérrez managed to take the win away from Christensen by overtaking the Dane. Pla was also on pole position for the second heat. However, a jump start and the resulting drive-through penalty saw his hopes for victory end early in the race. So the way was open for Juncadella.

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12/06/08
automotive

Help from Cerberus unlikely
Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Bob Nardelli on Friday indicated to Congress that he had asked the automaker's majority owner for more money but was turned down.

The revelation came during the second day of hearings over the Detroit Three's request for $34 billion in federal loans to survive the economic downturn.

Lawmakers increasingly questioned Nardelli about why the privately held company should receive the $7 billion in government assistance it is seeking. General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. are seeking $18 billion and $9 billion, respectively. Chrysler LLC's majority owner, Cerberus Capital Management, acquired 80.1% of Chrysler in August 2007 with a $7.4-billion investment.

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12/06/08
track news

Kansas Speedway Withdraws Application for Gaming Facility
Kansas Entertainment LLC, a 50/50 joint venture between The Cordish Company and Kansas Speedway, announced today it has withdrawn its application for Lottery Gaming Facility Manager for the Northeast Kansas gaming zone, with the intent to re-apply upon the re-opening of bidding for the zone. Along with today’s announcement, Kansas Speedway will delay plans for the addition of a road course and potential second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Should Kansas Entertainment be awarded the management contract upon re-application, Kansas Speedway remains committed to pursuing these projects.

When bidding re-opens, Kansas Entertainment’s new application will include a phased development plan, along with seeking realignment of a second Sprint Cup date and building a road course in Kansas Speedway’s infield. Kansas Speedway PR

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12/06/08
f1

Wind Tunnels still important in F1
Modern day Formula One cars are now more sophisticated than ever and to be a successful team requires the use of the latest tools during the design and development stages. The wind tunnel is one of these tools and plays a critical role in a car’s success on the race track. With two tunnels at Williams, we talked to their Head of Aerodynamics, Jon Tomlinson to unravel some of the tunnels’ complexities.

Jon, in basic terms what exactly are wind tunnels and how did they come about?
"A wind tunnel is a research tool which assists in the study of the effects of air moving over and around solid objects. They were originally developed for some of the first experiments in aviation theory, such as determining the lift and drag of various airfoils. The Wright brothers used a simple wind tunnel in 1901 to study the effects of airflow over various shapes while developing their Wright Flyer. Subsequent use of wind tunnels proliferated as the science of aerodynamics and the discipline of aeronautical engineering were established."

And how do they work?
"Wind tunnels work by either blowing or sucking air through a duct equipped with instrumentation where a model is mounted for study. Typically the air is moved through the tunnel using single or multiple fans. Due to the sheer volume and speed of air movement required, the fans need to be extremely powerful. There are several ways in which the air flow can be studied: from simple flow visualization techniques such as using smoke or wool tufts attached to the surface of the body; force measurements using a model mounted force balance (measuring lift, drag, pitching moments); to pressure measurements across the body's surface by use of pressure taps."

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12/06/08
f1

F1 formula is unsustainable
Gentlemen, formula one is becoming unsustainable." That was the top line of a letter sent to the teams by Max Mosley, president of formula one's ruling body, the FIA, in July.

Mosley had just emerged victorious from his privacy action at the High Court in London. Champagne might have been the order of the day. He recognized that for him in his personal predicament and F1 in its financial crisis, the champagne days were over. It was time to put the kettle on. F1 could no longer afford itself.

Mosley has been banging the cost-cutting drum for the past five years introducing any number of initiatives from long-life engines to development freezes. It is a recurring theme in the fastest show on earth. Twenty years ago, when F1 was last in the grip of global financial ruin and down to half a dozen teams, its creator Bernie Ecclestone stripped the cost out of competing overnight by introducing normally aspirated engines to run alongside the ultra expensive turbo monsters favored by the big spenders.

Thus in 1988 March pitched up running one normally aspirated car at a cost of $1.5 million for the season. McLaren spent $20 million to send Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost into turbo-charged wonderland. Within two years the turbos were gone and teams were flocking to the sport once more.

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12/06/08
irl

IndyCar driver gets 10-page article in Sports Illustrated
Here is an article in Sports Illustrated on new IndyCar driver, Stanton Barrett.  He's jumping to IndyCar with Team 3G next year, running all 18 races, and still planning to enter 19 to 21 Nationwide events with Rick Ware Racing.

We can't remember a time when an IndyCar driver had a 10 page article in Sports Illustrated.  The Swimsuit Issue does not count!

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12/06/08
Formula BMW

Pla claims Super Pole for BMW World Final
Jim Pla
Jim Pla (FR) secured an excellent starting position for what he hopes will be a successful Formula BMW World Final campaign. In single-lap qualifying at Mexico City's "Aut¢dromo Hermanos Rodríguez", the DAMS Team driver set a fastest lap time of 1:35.807 minutes, thus relegating the two Eurointernational drivers, Alexander Rossi (US) and Daniel Juncadella (ES), to second and third. Local hero Esteban Gutiérrez (MX) took fourth for Josef Kaufmann Racing.

"I have to admit I didn't expect to be on pole," said 16-year-old Pla after the single- lap contest. "On my best lap I didn't make a mistake so the time was there and I am very happy. Tomorrow I hope for good races and maybe to win the Formula BMW World Final. I shall be careful in the heats but also keep an eye on the opposition. In any case it will be really exciting."

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12/06/08
nassprint

Wood Brothers team to cut back to 12 races in 2009
The legendary #21-Wood Brothers organization will run only 12 Sprint Cup races next season. Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing, said tough economic times have forced the organization to enter only the season-opening Daytona 500 and mile-and-a-half tracks with Bill Elliott, the 1985 Cup champion. The mile-and-a-half tracks were picked because Ford's program is strongest there. "We could run up to 20 but we decided to do 12 and do it right," Wood said Saturday. "We're going back to doing it the way we did it years ago." The organization used to pick and choose races in the early years. It ran only 18 races in 1973, with David Pearson, who won 11 of them. Wood said the organization, which lost Air Force as a sponsor to Gillett Evernham Motorsports, had to let 22 employees go to reduce the team to about 40. ESPN.com

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12/06/08
automotive

Emergency aid for US carmakers reached
Congressional Democrats and the White House have reached agreement on emergency aid for US carmakers of between $15bn and $17bn, two senior congressional aides said on Friday.

The outline of the package was reached after car executives pleaded with lawmakers for help and US data showed employers axed more than 533,000 jobs in November, the highest monthly job-loss in 34 years.

“Congressional Democrats and the White House have reached an agreement,” a senior congressional aide said. Another source said negotiators had “agreed in principle to moving ahead but details have to be worked out.”

The amount is far less than the $34bn requested this week by General Motors, Ford Motor, and Chrysler, but it would keep them going into next year.

Earlier, Nancy Pelosi, US House of Representatives speaker, had dropped her insistence that aid come from the $700bn financial services bailout fund that the Bush administration had refused to use for automakers.

Comment
12/06/08
f1

Latest F1 news in brief
  • Senna to seek 'other options' for 2009
  • Honda to stay in IRL, motorbikes
  • Other carmakers committed to F1
  • Button could test Toro Rosso next week
  • David Richards eyes axed Honda F1 team

Senna to seek 'other options' for 2009
(GMM)  Bruno Senna may now turn to the Toro Rosso team to fulfill his desire to join the formula one ranks in 2009.

With Friday's shock news that Honda is pulling out of the sport with immediate effect, so disappeared the 25-year-old Brazilian's best hope of making his grand prix debut next year.

Senna's chances at Toro Rosso have also throttled back in recent days, after his late uncle Ayrton's close friend and former McLaren teammate Gerhard Berger withdrew his 50 per cent stake.

"We'll have to look around and see what other options are open to us," Senna told motorsports-magazine.com in the wake of the Honda announcement.

"These things happen.  It's never been easy to get into formula one -- you just have to keep plugging away and see what turns up."

One option for Senna is to hope the Brackley based Honda team finds a buyer before the Australian grand prix.

"I'm not burning any bridges there, but I can't wait forever.  On the other hand, the financial situation is tough everywhere at the moment and it is difficult to see where things are heading.

"So in the circumstances, you have to be very flexible," said Senna.

Honda to stay in IRL, motorbikes
(GMM)  Honda on Friday announced its immediate withdrawal from formula one, but the Japanese marque's commitment to the US IndyCar Series and premier motorcycling remains intact.

Honda is also closely involved with America's premier open wheel category, but the California-based Honda Performance Development (HPD) told us the manufacturer's US-based activities "are expected to continue in 2009 ... and beyond".

IndyCar team boss Mark Johnson, meanwhile, explained that Honda's racing model in the US series is fundamentally different to F1.

"HPD is charged with making money; it is a revenue-generating company," he is quoted as saying by the Indianapolis Star.

Honda's motorcycling programs, including in superbikes and MotoGP, also seem unaffected by the F1 decision.

Honda Racing's Neil Tuxworth told BBC Radio Lincolnshire: "Car and motorcycle racing are run by different divisions so this will have no effect on the motorcycling side."

Honda president Takeo Fukui, meanwhile, said on Friday the 2009 Japanese grand prix, to be held at the Honda-owned Suzuka, will take place as scheduled.

The manufacturer is also involved in other series, including through its Acura badge in Le Mans racing.

Fukui said: "Regarding other categories, we start thinking now as to what we should do."

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12/06/08
ga

Spirit of Daytona Racing Enters Rolex 24
Spirit of Daytona Racing has officially entered the 47th running of Rolex 24 At Daytona with drivers Scott Russell, Jeff Ward, and Jason Pridmore posted to drive the No. 09 Porsche V8-powered Coyote at Daytona International Speedway in the season-opening event for the 2009 Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal.

While the Rolex 24 event will mark the first appearance in the twice-around-the-clock classic for Russell, Ward, and Pridmore, the trio of motorcycle champions each have several chapters of success already to their names at Daytona in two wheel competition and will look to add a new one on four wheels as they take on 24 grueling hours on the World Center of Speed’s 3.56-mile road course.

In the 2008 running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the No. 09 Porsche V8-Coyote took the highest finish for any Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype with its run to tenth in class.

Campaigning a limited 2008 schedule, the V8 Porsche-powered Coyote made significant progress with Spirit of Daytona Racing as the new chassis-motor combination was deployed into competition for an extensive development program. The No. 09 will now wear the latest in Coyote bodywork for the 24, which will be preceded by the “Roar Before the 24” test days on January 3-5.

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12/06/08
f1

Honda not cancelling Japanese GP yet
Honda CEO and chairman Takeo Fukui said that next year's Japanese Grand Prix at the Honda-owned Suzuka would go ahead.

"The Suzuka GP takes place as planned, and the work has started. We are sorry we are not going to be there."

However, like all race promoters in F1 they take a financial bloodbath and it won't be many years before they decide enough is enough.

Comment
12/06/08
irl

Honda will stay in IRL
Honda's decision to withdraw from Formula One will have no bearing on its participation in the Indy Racing League, according to a statement released Friday by the company's U.S. motor sports arm.

"It is unfortunate that current global economic challenges have necessitated the cessation of Honda's participation in Formula One racing," said the statement from Honda Performance Development in Santa Clarita, Calif. "However, Honda's U.S.-based motor sports activities are expected to continue in 2009 . . . and beyond."

Honda has been involved in CART or the IndyCar Series since 1994 and is committed to supplying engines to IndyCar teams through 2010. Honda officials have been involved in talks with the IRL in shaping engine configurations that take effect in 2011.

There are fundamental differences between how Honda's F-1 and IndyCar programs are structured. Honda owns, operates and funds its two-car F-1 program; it leases engines to IRL teams through HPD.

"HPD is charged with making money; it is a revenue-generating company," said Mark Johnson, the general manager of Indianapolis-based KV Racing Technology, an IndyCar team that uses Honda engines. "Honda's Formula One team is the only one (in the series) without a sponsor, and it is funded internally. It spends money."

The investment in the F-1 program is estimated at nearly $300 million annually. The IRL's program has been described as "self-sustaining," with expenses incurred offset by revenue from leasing engines to teams for $1 million per season. Indy Star

Comment
12/06/08
racing news

Economaki Champion of Champions' 10 Finalists
Ten incredibly talented, championship-winning race drivers have been selected as the finalists for the 6th Annual Economaki Champion of Champions Award, presented by Speedway Motorsports, Inc., and America’s Weekly Motorsports Authority, National Speed Sport News.

The 10 contenders have been profiled in the current issue (Dec. 3) of National Speed Sport News, and the winner will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 11, at 3:00 p.m. at the PRI Trade Show in Orlando.

The 10 finalists are:

Justin Allgaier, ARCA RE/MAX – The 22-year-old pro ended Frank Kimmel’s reign of eight consecutive ARCA titles Johnny Benson, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series – Benson took the championship by a mere seven points Jerry Coons, Jr., USAC Silver Crown, USAC National Sprint Car Series – Coons became the fifth driver in USAC history to win the Triple Crown during his career Billy Decker, Advance Auto Super DIRT Series – Decker scored 10 wins on his way to the top prize Scott Dixon, IndyCar Series – Dixon became the fourth consecutive IndyCar Series driver to win the Indianapolis 500 and the driving championship in the same season Jason Johnson, American Sprint Cars on Tour – A former crew member for Steve Kinser, Johnson won 21 races in 2008 Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – He is only the second driver (joining Cale Yarborough) in NASCAR history to win the championship three years in a row Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas, Grand-Am Rolex Series – Another strong season for this duo of talented drivers Donny Schatz, World of Outlaws sprint cars – Schatz raced to his third-consecutive World of Outlaws championship, winning 18 races in the series Tony Schumacher, NHRA Top Fuel – Dominant is the best word to describe Schumacher’s 2008 campaign as he earned 15 victories in 24 events.

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12/06/08
f1

Cosworth wins FIA engine tender UPDATE #2 The new engine is said to be a V10 mated to an XR gearbox provided by Xtrac and Ricardo Transmissions to provide a complete low-cost power train.

12/05/08 The one-size-fits-all engine would cost teams around £5m a year, a 10th of the current cost of developing a power train themselves. Teams, however, will have the option of building their own engines to an identical specification if they wish.

Teams have until next Thursday to agree to Mosley's engine proposal.

'The teams have been wasting money,' said Mosley. 'It cannot go on. If it does, I expect one or two other teams to leave the sport. We must show that we are determined to cut costs to £30m or £40m.'

Cosworth owners Gerald Forsythe (L) and Kevin Kalkhoven (R).  Kalkhoven told AR1.com on Wednesday to watch the F1 news front for some interesting announcements later this week.  Now we know what he meant.
12/05/08  Cosworth has won the tender to supply a low-cost engine and transmission package in 2010 and beyond, formula one's governing body announced on Friday.

In the wake of Honda's shock departure from the sport, the FIA said in a statement that the news confirmed its fears about the current financial format, and sent a letter to team bosses.

It is revealed that the cost to teams wanting to use the un-badged Cosworth engine option will be $2m euros, plus 5.5 million euros each season.

"The engine will be a current Formula One engine while the transmission will be state-of-the-art Formula One and a joint effort by two companies which already supply transmissions to most of the grid," said Mosley.

"The cost to each team taking up this option will be an up-front payment of £1.68M (€1.97M) and then £5.49M (€6.42M) per season for each of the three years of the supply contract (2010, 2011, 2012). This price is based on four teams signing up and includes full technical support at all races and official tests, plus 30,000 km of testing.

"The annual cost will reduce if more teams take up the option, for example to £4.99M (€5.84M) per team with eight teams. It will further reduce if less than 30,000 km of testing is required. Neither engine nor transmission will be badged."

Teams not wanting to use the standard engine have "the right to build an engine themselves", or a de-tuned version of their current 2.4 liter V8s, but must use a standard transmission supplied by Ricardo Transmissions, a British company.  Other engines will not be allowed to have better performance than the standard engine.

Mosley said the measures will help small teams survive, and also pave the way for the replacement of more outgoing manufacturers, "as seems likely" to be necessary.

He wants four teams to sign up the scheme by next Thursday, or the price may go up.

Comment
12/06/08
irl
karting

Amazing Pro Driver Lineup for All-Star Karting Classic at PRI UPDATE The names of the drivers, who have thus far committed to the Snap-on All-Stars Karting Classic to run Dec. 11, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, in conjunction with the 21st Annual PRI Trade Show, reads like a ‘who’s who’ of contemporary racers.  With two Indy 500 winners, an NHRA champion, and IndyCar, NASCAR, ALMS, Grand-Am and NHRA newcomers and veterans alike, the entry list continues to grow on a daily basis.

The drivers ready to compete in this year’s All-Star event:

  • Dan Wheldon, 2006 Indy 500 winner
  • Buddy Rice, 2004 Indy 500 winner
  • Ed Carpenter, IndyCar
  • Michael Valiante (last year’s All-Stars winner), Grand-Am
  • Will Power, IndyCar
  • Marco Andretti, IndyCar
  • Antron Brown, NHRA
  • AJ Allmendinger, NASCAR
  • Max Papis, sports cars
  • Cristiano Da Matta, sports cars
  • Oswaldo Negri, Jr., open wheel
  • Raphael Matos, open wheel
  • Scott Speed, stock cars
  • Bryan Herta, sports cars
  • Townsend Bell, IndyCar
  • Jamie McMurray, NASCAR
  • Nelson Philippe, open wheel
  • Jan Heylen, open wheel
  • Joey Hand, Grand-Am
  • Alex Lloyd, IndyCar
  • Vitor Meira, IndyCar
  • Ron Capps, NHRA
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2008 Indy 500 Rookie-of-the-Year 

    Read more & Comment...
12/06/08
gp2a
speedcar

Dubai races cancelled
Heavy rain hit Dubai late on Friday night causing floods in and around the Dubai Autodrome. Speedcar Series' second race to be held on Saturday afternoon along with GP2 Asia Series and GT3 at the Grand Racing event has therefore been cancelled.

The Dubai Autodrome released an official statement this morning stating that the weather conditions had forced officials to cancel the final race day. The FIA and Stewards of the meeting confirmed the same in a statement that read, "Following a track inspection by the race directors of the FIA GT3 Championship, GP2 Asia Series and Speedcar Series, it is their collective view that the volume of water on the track and the likelihood of there being any improvement during the day would make it impossible to run the races safely."

Hamish Brown, Dubai Autodrome General Executive commented on the situation, "We accept and agree with the decision of the Stewards and the FIA to cancel the final day of Grand Racing. It is a sad situation as we know thousands of fans were looking forward to this final day, numerous teams and their personnel have out in a big effort to be here to race and of course a large number of support staff have been on hand to make this event possible."

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12/05/08
f1

Mercedes wants F1 costs cut by 50 per cent
The German carmaker Mercedes says Formula One teams must cut costs by at least 50 percent over the next two years although its own financial position remains solid.  Meanwhile Formula One supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, says he knows two parties interested in taking over Honda's interest and is relaxed despite the world financial situation.

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12/05/08
f1

More bad news for F1 sponsors
The economic crisis that has engulfed the western world is hitting companies in many different fields. Williams sponsor AT&T, for example, has just announced 12,000 job cuts (4% of its workforce) in an effort to significantly reduce costs. The Texan company said that the cuts are necessary because of the changing financial environment. Another Williams backer, Philips, has warned that it will be making less money because of the economic downturn and there have been similar profit warnings from its rivals Sony and Toyota sponsor Panasonic.

Even the oil companies, which were booming a few months ago, are now under pressure with oil prices tumbling to four-year lows, with crude oil hitting $43.96 a barrel, the lowest level since the start of 2005. A barrel was selling at $147 in July. And there may be worse to come. Merrill Lynch has published a new report suggesting that oil prices could fall to $25 a barrel next year if the global recession continues. Japan's top oil refiner, Nippon Oil has announced that it is merging with smaller rival Nippon Mining Holding in an attempt to survive the weak demand. Gulf Oil chief executive Joe Petrowski said that he believes oil will go to $20 a barrel.

Banks around the world have been cutting their interest rates in an effort to stimulate cash flow but retailers are reporting that business is slow as they go into the most important period of selling in the year in the run up to Christmas. Grandprix.com

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12/05/08
nascar

NASCAR to partner with Kevin Costner
NASCAR announced a year-long partnership with actor and director Kevin Costner that will see the Academy Award winner participate in several NASCAR initiatives, including the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards banquet, narration of a new NASCAR movie and the exclusive debut of the latest music video for Kevin Costner and Modern West on NASCAR.COM. “As a long time NASCAR fan, I’m very excited about this partnership,” said Kevin Costner, who has starred in several sports-themed movies. “They have tremendous fans, which are truly the most passionate in all of sports.” Costner kicks-off the partnership with a special guest appearance at the Sprint Cup Series’ annual Champions Banquet at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on December 5 (9:00pm/et on ESPN Classic). Costner narrates a special tribute to the 60th Anniversary of NASCAR. Additionally, Costner and his band, Modern West, will debut the music video for their newest single, “Backyard,” exclusively on NASCAR.com beginning on Monday, Dec. 8. Costner will also serve as the voice of the latest NASCAR film. “The Ride of Their Lives,” narrated by Costner, is a first-person account of the history and heroes of NASCAR brought to life through the men and women who lived the dream. The film includes new, exclusive interviews with famed NASCAR personalities Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, and tells the story of how family dynamics weaved a thread through a half-century of racing. Produced by CMT Films and NASCAR Media Group, “The Ride of Their Lives” premieres Dec. 13 on CMT [9pm/et]. Rogers & Cowan PR

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12/05/08
irl

Rahal does some reporting for ESPN Magazine
Check out Graham Rahal's interview of other IRL drivers about holiday season gift giving (scroll down to bottom of page).

Comment
12/05/08
nassprint

Drugs being sold at Dale Jr's Charlotte nightclub
Police have charged a bouncer at an uptown Charlotte bar with selling drugs to undercover officers. Anthony Ortega Rodriguez, 28, was arrested on Tuesday after police received complaints about drugs being sold at Whiskey River. The bar – located at the new EpiCentre -- is owned by NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Police say that when they arrested Rodriguez he was carrying 12 bags with 15 grams of cocaine. News 14

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12/05/08
atlantic

Atlantic Graduates Enjoy Another Great Year in 2008
For the past 35 years, it has been well documented that graduates of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda are extremely prepared to be successful at the highest levels of motorsport all over the world.

Through the years, Atlantic graduates have gone on to win Formula 1 World Championships, Indianapolis 500s, IndyCar races and championships, as well as races and titles in the world’s most prestigious sports car series. The 2008 season was no exception, as Atlantic grads once again proved that the experience they gained in the North America’s longest-running open-wheel driver development series prepared them for fruitful careers.

Here’s a quick look at what several former Atlantic competitors did this season:

Indy Racing League
By choosing to compete in the Atlantic Championship, it only stands to reason that many drivers would aspire to reach the top of American open-wheel racing, and the 2008 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series saw impressive performances from several graduates of Atlantic.

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12/05/08
atlantic

'08 Atlantic Engineer of the Year Joins Newman Wachs Racing
Newman Wachs Racing (NWR), in keeping with their pledge to improve on their third place Championship run in the 2008 Atlantic Championship, is pleased to announce that 2008 Atlantic Engineer of the Year, Nick Harvey, will be joining the Chicago-based team.

Nick's racing career began in 1976, as a driver, behind the wheel of a Kart in England. His driving career spanned Karts, FF1600, Sports 2000, Ferrari Challenge, Skip Barber Racing Series, Trans Am and Toyota Atlantic over the next 16 years.

Following his most successful Atlantic season to date, Harvey was the engineer behind the 2008 Atlantic Champion, Markus Niemela, and scored two wins on his way to clinching the title at the season ender at Road Atlanta. This will be Harvey’s 13th season in the Atlantic Championship and has earned 5 wins and 4 poles with the current Swift 016.

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12/05/08
irl

IRL video on crash testing
This video gives you an inside look at the crash testing going on by the IRL to improve the headrests in their IndyCars.

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12/05/08
alms

ALMS Notebook
As the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida inches closer, BMW and Rahal Letterman Racing are continuing their efforts to debut their two-car factory-sponsored program with the next-generation M3.

"The American Le Mans Series and BMW have a lot in common, I think," Martin Birkmann, Motorsports Manager for BMW North America, said in an exclusive video interview with americanlemans.com. "It was a logical fit for us to go there."

American Le Mans Series President and CEO Scott Atherton expressed nothing but praise for Audi following its announcement that it will depart after the first event of the 2009 season, calling Audi's near-legendary accomplishments and technological advancements "the pinnacle of achievement in sports car racing."

"I cannot say enough about how great a partner, competitor and participant Audi has been since it first competed in the Series in 1999," said Atherton about the auto manufacturer that literally rewrote the record books for the world's premier sports car series. "We understand that the economic climate is forcing many companies to make very difficult decisions. We will welcome Audi back to the American Le Mans Series stage at the appropriate time to compete against our world-class group of race teams and manufacturers.

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12/05/08
f1

Honda calls off pre-Christmas tests
(GMM)  Jenson Button on Friday reacted to the news he could be without a formula one cockpit for the 2009 season by travelling to Honda's Brackley factory.

It was business as usual at the UK facility, on the outskirts of the town in south Northamptonshire, even though in a best-case scenario many of the 700-strong workforce may be laid off.

"We need to stay positive ourselves and as one team because if we are not, no one will be interested in taking it over," the 28-year-old British driver said, according to AP.

One group of designers were said to already be working on accommodating a different engine in the 2009 car, after Honda said from Tokyo it did not want to be "half in and half out" of the sport by remaining as a mere supplier.

The race is on to find a serious buyer before Christmas, and - if that is the case - Honda is willing to keep the factory running and staff fully paid up so that a deal can be finalized in time for the first grand prix of 2009.

"I believe we have got a front-running car already designed," said boss Ross Brawn, although it is believed he has called off the team's attendance at the two Jerez tests before Christmas.

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12/05/08
speedcar

Spectacular Dubai debut for Liuzzi
Ex-Formula 1 racer Vitantonio Liuzzi won the opening round of the second Speedcar season after a dramatic encounter at the Dubai Autodrome.

Despite his obvious pace throughout the weekend, poleman Liuzzi (UP Team) found himself under attack on both sides at the rolling start. Former grand prix winner Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Phoenix Racing) made it round the outside, while Durango's Christopher Zoechling went down the inside.

Fortunately for Liuzzi, Zoechling ran in too deep, forcing Frentzen wide and allowing the polesitter to sneak back through into the lead. Gianni Morbidelli (Palm Beach-Al Futtaim) then dived past Frentzen into the hairpin at the end of the back straight and while he fought Zoechling for second Liuzzi pulled clear.

The ex-Red Bull F1 driver pulled out a lead of over three seconds during the first two laps, but his efforts came to naught after the safety car was called. Jean Alesi (HPR-Bouygues) tried to pass the experienced Stefan Johansson for fourth, but the pair made contact and Johansson's Palm Beach machine spun. As he tried to recover he moved into Marcel Tiemann's car and Johansson flipped over.

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12/05/08
automotive

BMW sales plummet
Global sales at BMW, the world's top premium carmaker, plunged by a quarter in November, and Honda backed out of Formula One racing on Friday as the economic downturn exacted a mounting toll on automakers.

With even well-heeled consumers keeping a tight grip on their wallets, group vehicle sales at BMW fell 25.4 percent to 96,570 units, led down by a 26.2 percent drop at the flagship BMW brand, it said.

Car sales across the globe have plummeted as consumers curb spending in the face of mass layoffs and a credit crunch, pushing big U.S. carmakers to the brink and heaping pressure on their foreign rivals, too.

In Germany, Europe's biggest auto market, new car sales are expected to hit post-reunification lows this year and next before recovering somewhat in 2010, the VDA auto industry association forecast this week.

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12/05/08
gp2a

Kobayashi powers to victory in Dubai
Kamui Kobayashi
Dams’ Kamui Kobayashi stormed to the win in today’s Dubai feature race after he dominated the first part of the event. He then lost the lead after a late pitstop to Vitaly Petrov and was later passed by Roldan Rodriguez, but a strong drive and great overtaking maneuvers put him back on the top spot and the Japanese ace claimed his first victory of the season.

Behind Kobayashi, the fight for the second place was fierce. When the lights went off, Durango’s Davide Valsecchi blitzed his way from fifth to second, quickly followed by Rodriguez. Both men passed Sakon Yamamoto and Vitaly Petrov in the process. Rodriguez put great pressure on Valsecchi, but the Italian managed to hold him off while Kobayashi pulled away. However, the Durango racer lost positions after his mandatory pitstop. It was Campos’ Petrov who inherited second place and then first place once Rodriguez and Kobayashi observed their pitstop. The Russian eventually entered the pits just as Nunes and Buurman violently collided. Both men were fighting for 6th place. Petrov rejoined just ahead of a slow Kobayashi who later was also passed by Rodriguez.

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12/05/08
alms
irl

Audi pulls out of ALMS as well (head to IRL?)
As a result of its newly aligned motorsport program Audi offers its motorsport customers a bespoke vehicle concept for the first time: Audi Sport developed the new R8 LMS specifically to suit the user-friendly and cost-effective requirements in the production-based GT3 class in international motorsport. The powerful 500 hp plus race car based on the Audi R8 is due to be delivered in order to prove itself on track throughout the 2009 season.

The American Le Mans Series involvement will not be continued. Audi entered the American Le Mans Series in the year 2000 and has been instrumental in building up this championship ever since. The championship developed to become one of the most fascinating motorsport series within a few years, which offered and still offers the ever increasing fan community exciting motorsport. The ALMS is also recognized internationally and is regarded as the world’s best sportscar championship. "The decision to withdraw was a very difficult one also for these reasons. Furthermore, with the Champion racing team we also had a partner that operates at the highest level. The extraordinary dedication and precision of Team Champion was the key to Audi’s victories over the last few years in America. We achieved an unprecedented winning series together. Since the 2000 season Audi has won the LMP1 title nine-times in succession in this high-caliber sportscar championship. Our brand dominated proceedings last season by taking seven wins in eleven races. TDI in racing supported the market launch of Audi TDI technology in the USA perfectly," says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich positively of the AUDI AG involvement in the ALMS. 

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12/05/08
automotive

Wagoner admits to 'Plan B:' Bankruptcy
The chairman of the Senate Banking Committee , Chris Dodd, D-Conn., got it right Thursday: "We're looking at a death sentence here if we don't respond intelligently and prudently."

Day One of Round Two in Detroit's automakers go to Washington may have been blessedly light on cheap political theatrics. But it was heavy on the preliminary what-if deal-making that could determine whether General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC can wrest a combined $25 billion from Congress to make it past New Year's Day -- or not.

This much is clear:

Read more & Comment...
12/05/08
f1

Honda apologizes to Button
Honda's chief executive apologized to driver Jenson Button after Japan's number two carmaker pulled the plug on its Formula One team on Friday.

Button, a winner for Honda in Hungary in 2006, is in danger of being left without a drive next season, though some teams have yet to confirm their lineups.

Brazilian Bruno Senna, the 25-year-old nephew of the late triple world champion Ayrton, had also been tipped to take the place of compatriot Rubens Barrichello at Honda in 2009.

"It's a real shame and I feel deeply sorry for Jenson Button," the CEO of Honda Motor Takeo Fukui told a news conference. "We had no choice in the current financial conditions."

"I didn't speak to Jenson so I don't know his reaction," Oshima told reporters. "Ross Brawn and Nick Fry were of course extremely disappointed but were very professional.

"They understood the economic climate and Honda's reasons for closing down the operation."

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12/05/08
irl

ESPN ranks IndyCar drivers
This ESPN.com article ranks the best IRL drivers for 2008 as follows.  Ryan Hunter-Reay was ranked as the best American driver (4th overall) which could put him in the running for the Helio Castroneves seat at Penske Racing should Helio Castroneves be sacked due to his pending tax evasion lawsuit.  Should Castroneves lose he faces possible huge fines, jail time and deportation out of the USA, his right to work and live in the USA revoked.  Imagine the boost to the IRL should an American land the coveted Penske seat. Hunter-Reay would win often and contend for the title immediately.

Rank Driver
1. Scott Dixon
2. Helio Castroneves
3. Ryan Briscoe
4. Ryan Hunter-Reay
5. Tony Kanaan
6. Oriol Servia
7. Dan Wheldon
8. Justin Wilson
9. Marco Andretti
10. Hideki Mutoh

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12/05/08
f1

Mosley letter to F1 teams
Mosley gives teams low cost alternative.  Teams will be 'stupid' not to use the standard engine because the cost is very low and no other engine will be allowed to have better performance than the Cosworth engine.
Further to my letter of 18 November (copy attached for convenience), we have completed the tendering process and are now in exclusive negotiations with Cosworth together with Xtrac and Ricardo Transmissions (XR) to supply a complete Formula One power train starting in 2010. The engine will be a current Formula One engine while the transmission will be state-of-the-art Formula One and a joint effort by two companies which already supply transmissions to most of the grid.

The cost to each team taking up this option will be an up-front payment of £1.68M (€1.97M) and then £5.49M (€6.42M) per season for each of the three years of the supply contract (2010, 2011, 2012). This price is based on four teams signing up and includes full technical support at all races and official tests, plus 30,000 km of testing. The annual cost will reduce if more teams take up the option, for example to £4.99M (€5.84M) per team with eight teams. It will further reduce if less than 30,000 km of testing is required. Neither engine nor transmission will be badged.

As suggested in my letter of 18 November, teams participating in the 2010 Championship would then have three options:

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12/05/08
f1

Honda out of F1 completely
As first reported by AutoRacing1.com yesterday as 'fact' , Honda Motor Company chief Takeo Fukui in Tokyo confirmed on Friday afternoon that the Japanese manufacturer is withdrawing from formula one ahead of the 2009 season.

He said the decision was taken as a result of the prevailing conditions in the automotive sales sector, including a near-unprecedented decline of more than 30 per cent in its biggest market, the United States, last month.

Fukui also revealed that Honda will not even remain involved in F1 as an engine supplier, despite attempts to sell the Brackley based team as a going concern before the 2009 season commences in late March.

Instead, it is understood that Honda team boss and former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn has arranged that a buyer of the Brackley outfit will be powered by 2.4 liter Ferrari V8s.

2008 constructors' world champions Ferrari have the capacity to supply an extra team next year, given the switch of customer partner Force India to Mercedes power.

According to early speculation, one potential buyer of the team could be Dubai International Capital (DIC), which came close to buying Super Aguri when Honda pulled its support for the satellite team earlier this year.

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12/05/08
tv news
nassprint

NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Banquet Live on ESPN Classic UPDATE A reminder that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series awards banquet will be televised live tonight at 9:00 pm - 12:00 am ET on ESPN Classic.

12/01/08 Surrounded by the glitz and glamour of New York City, Jimmie Johnson will officially be crowned as the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion during the series’ annual awards banquet Friday night, December 5, at the Waldorf-Astoria. ESPN Classic will have live coverage at 9:00 pm - 12:00 am ET.

In addition to Johnson and the Hendrick Motorsports team, the rest of the top 10 NASCAR drivers of the season also will be honored. The banquet will feature a musical performance by Matchbox 20, stand-up comedy from John Pinette and a special historical segment with actor Kevin Costner.

Dr. Jerry Punch, lead announcer for ESPN’s NASCAR racing coverage, will be the onstage master of ceremonies for the banquet.

Read more & Comment...
12/04/08
f1

Hakkinen backs 'medals' concept for F1
(GMM)  Mika Hakkinen has backed Bernie Ecclestone's proposal to introduce an Olympic Games-style system of colored medals for the scoring of the drivers' world championship.

The Finn, who still would have won his titles in 1998 and 1999 under the F1 chief executive's proposed system, said he believes medals rather than points would better motivate the drivers.

"I have thought about it and I must say I think the concept is very good," Hakkinen, 40, told motorline.cc on a visit to Austria.

"Sometimes when you are in a grand prix and in fifth place, you think 'ok, a few points'.  But with the medal system you would be under more pressure to move forward to get a medal," he said.

Hakkinen, therefore, believes the system would spice up the racing beneath the top three finishers, amid some commentator's view that they will be unmotivated because of the lost incentive of points down to eighth place.

"Instead they would have a bigger goal and there would be more fights," he insisted.

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12/04/08
f1

Dani Clos to test Williams again
(GMM)  Dani Clos, a young Spanish racing driver, will reappear at the wheel of a Williams at next week's formula one test at Jerez.

The 19-year-old F3 Euroseries competitor from Barcelona was among the rookies in action at the Spanish circuit in September for the formula one 'Young Driver Day'.

Clos will drive on Monday, as teams gather for the last two weeks of testing before Christmas.

"It is another great opportunity to demonstrate my abilities," he is quoted as saying by the Spanish sports newspaper Marca.

"I have been working closely with the team and we have a really good relationship now," Clos added.

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12/04/08
a1gp

Andretti looking forward to Surfers return
Michael Andretti won in Surfers in 1994
One of the most famous racing families in world motorsport will again be in Surfers Paradise next October for the Gold Coast 300 – and it cannot wait!

Michael Andretti was the inaugural pole sitter for the Gold Coast race back in 1991 and went on to win it in his first ever start in a Reynard chassis in 1994.

Andretti’s son Marco raced on the Gold Coast for the first time in October as part of a one-off Indy Racing League event and is set to be a starter in 2009 if he gets his way.

After an 18-year association with American-based open-wheel racing, it has been announced that the Gold Coast 300 will be highlighted by a round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in 2009 as well as the home-grown V8 Supercar Series.

Andretti Green Racing recently took up the US team franchise for the A1GP Series and Marco made his debut in China before his second A1GP race weekend (held in Malaysia, November 23) saw him take his first podium finish.

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12/04/08
alms

ALMS Winter test still on
Despite reports to the contrary, IMSA and the American Le Mans Series will hold its annual Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway from January 26-28, 2009. Teams from the American Le Mans Series, the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear and IMSA Lites presented by Hankook each will have the opportunity to gather at the site of the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida.

The deadline for teams to register during the "early period" is January 2, 2009. In addition to the three days of testing, a four-hour window for media opportunities on Tuesday, January 27 is part of the schedule.

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12/04/08
f1

Fukui to confirm Honda exit in Tokyo UPDATE #2 (GMM)  Honda Motor Company has confirmed that chief executive and president Takeo Fukui will front a media briefing on the topic of formula one in Tokyo on Friday afternoon (1.30pm Japanese time).

No more dreams for Honda
It is widely expected that the Japanese manufacturer will announce its withdrawal from the sport, and the closure of the Brackley (UK) based racing outfit should a buyer not be found in the coming weeks.

Spokespeople for the F1 team and the manufacturer would not confirm the speculation, both instead insisting more information will not be available until Fukui's briefing.

The unofficial news, however, led to shares in Honda Motor Company rising 0.2 per cent.

A financial analyst in Tokyo told the Bloomberg news agency: "A withdrawal by Honda would highlight just how awful the situation surrounding the auto industry is."

Staff of Honda's Brackley factory anonymously said their pay will be guaranteed only to the end of March, and sources at other formula one teams report they were flooded with enquiries about jobs as the news broke.

Sources close to Toyota, meanwhile, flatly denied suggestions it might follow Honda out of formula one, amid similar troubles for the Japanese manufacturer due to the economic downturn.

12/04/08 (GMM) Honda is expected to announce on Friday morning its shock withdrawal from formula one.

The more than 700 staff at the Japanese team's Brackley (UK) headquarters were informed by bosses Ross Brawn and Nick Fry on Thursday, and fellow teams learned of the decision at the FOTA meeting in Geneva.

A public statement from Tokyo, grappling with news of plummeting sales of road cars, is expected early on Friday, amid rumors the outfit is up for sale and faces complete closure should a buyer not be found by January.

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12/04/08
ga

Penske and Porsche announce full Rolex program
Penske Racing today announced that the organization will campaign the No. 7 Penske Porsche Riley Daytona Prototype in the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, continuing one of the most successful and enduring partnerships in all of motorsports – Penske Racing and Porsche.  Porsche’s history with Penske Racing dates back to 1972, and since the relationship started, the two organizations have shared more than 35 wins and five championships. 

“We are proud to continue our long-standing relationship with Porsche,” said Roger Penske, founder, Penske Racing.  “We look to continue our considerable sports car success and our team is working hard to prepare for the first event in Daytona.” 

Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, Porsche factory racers and multiple sports car series champions, will be the primary drivers of the No. 7 machine. 

Bernhard and Dumas, co-driving for Penske Racing and Porsche since 2006, have shared 14 wins and two driver championships. Both Bernhard and Dumas have experience in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, highlighted by their individual successes in the legendary Rolex 24 at Daytona.  Of his six starts in the day-long race (2002 – 2005, 2007 – 2008), Bernhard posted an overall win in 2003 and a class win in 2002.  Dumas has competed four times in the Rolex 24, with a best finish of third in class in 2002 and 2008. The No. 7 Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype is a Riley Mk. XX, created at Riley Technologies, which is located near Penske Racing’s headquarters in Mooresville.  The powerplant is a four-liter “flat” six-cylinder engine, similar to the Porsche 911 street cars.

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12/04/08
nassprint

Earnhardt Jr. Wins Chex Most Popular Driver Award
NASCAR fans across the nation have once again made a statement about their favorite driver.  After tallying over one million votes, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the recipient of the 2008 NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver Award. 

Throughout the race season, fans voted daily for over 40 of their favorite drivers online at http://www.chexmostpopulardriver.com.  Earnhardt Jr. was presented with the award today at the National Motorsports Press Association’s Myers Brothers Media Luncheon in New York City.  The award is Earnhardt Jr.’s sixth consecutive win since 2003.  Only Bill Elliott (1991-2000) has more consecutive wins.

The NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver Award has been given annually since 1956 and today is the only award for NASCAR’s top drivers given by the fans.  The six wins by Earnhardt Jr. moved him past Bobby Allison and now only behind Richard Petty (9) and Bill Elliott (16) for most total awards. 

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12/04/08
gp2

Hulkenberg graduates to GP2
ART Grand Prix have confirmed that Formula 3 Euro Series champion Nico Hulkenberg will graduate to GP2 with the team next season.

"ART Grand Prix and me, that sounds like a good combination to me," said Hulkenberg. "We know each other very well and we have worked great together so far.

"I had four days of testing with the team in the GP2 car and I feel comfortable with everything up to this point. Next year will be a tough one because GP2 is extremely competitive with great teams and great drivers, but I think we have a good package ourselves."

"Some tracks I don't know and the single practice session every round is very short, but we have to set our target high," he said. "We might not be able to fight for the podium in the very beginning, but it is my aim - as well as the team's - to climb up there and try to get a win or two."

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12/04/08
nassprint

Testing at Nashville
Gillett Evernham Motorsports tested Wednesday, Dec. 3rd at the Nashville Superspeedway with Reed Sorenson and Dennis Setzer as the drivers on the 1.33 mile Superspeedway. The test was closed to the public.

Chip Ganassi [Earnhardt Ganassi Racing] was scheduled to test Thursday, but it is raining at the track. Nashville Superspeedway PR

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12/04/08
gp2a

Kobayashi snatches pole in Dubai
Kamui Kobayashi has won the pole position for race 1 of the GP2 Asia event in Dubai .

"There was a lot of traffic, so it was difficult to get a time," said Kobayashi. "I think I was quite lucky."

Sakon Yamamoto (ART) made it an all-Japan front row with an even later effort, 0.184 seconds down.

Race 1 is Friday and Race 2 is Saturday.

Race 1 Lineup

Pos

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 K. Kobayashi DAMS 01'41"091 - 13
2 S. Yamamoto ART 01'41"275 00'00"184 12
3 V. Petrov Barwa Campos 01'41"341 00'00"250 14
4 R. Rodriguez Piquet 01'41"376 00'00"285 15
5 D. Valsecchi Durango 01'41"472 00'00"381 15
6 Y. Buurman ORT 01'41"549 00'00"459 14
7 G. Van Der Garde iSport 01'41"557 00'00"466 15
8 D. Nunes Piquet 01'41"593 00'00"502 15
9 S. Perez Barwa Campos 01'41"768 00'00"677 15
10 J. D'Ambrosio DAMS 01'41"777 00'00"686 14
11 A. Zuber FMS 01'41"798 00'00"707 14
12 P. Maldonado ART 01'41"838 00'00"747 13
13 R. Van der Zande TTA 01'42"054 00'00"963 15
14 J. Villa Super Nova 01'42"062 00'00"971 13
15 J. Jakes Super Nova 01'42"066 00'00"975 15
16 E. Bamber Qi-Meritus 01'42"068 00'00"977 15
17 L. Razia TTA 01'42"204 00'01"113 14
18 G. Ricci Trident 01'42"351 00'01"260 14
19 H. Al Fardan iSport 01'42"367 00'01"276 15
20 A. Valerio Trident 01'42"540 00'01"450 15
21 A. Yoong Qi-Meritus 01'43"026 00'01"935 14
22 M. Herck DPR 01'43"102 00'02"011 14
23 F. Crestani ORT 01'43"315 00'02"225 14
24 C. Van Der Drift Trident 01'43"393 00'02"302 15
25 M. Dalle Stelle Durango 01'45"603 00'04"512 15
26 K. Nai Chia Chen FMS 01'48"410 - 16

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12/04/08
f1

Bourdais, Buemi to also test for STR
(GMM)  It has emerged that the other contenders for seats at Toro Rosso next year will also appear at the next formula one test.

Out-of-work hopeful Takuma Sato, who dropped off the grid with the demise of the Super Aguri team early in 2008, is set to test for a third time with Faenza based STR at the Jerez outing next week, it was confirmed on Thursday.

The news indicates he is still strongly in the running for a race seat, but a team spokesperson on Thursday confirmed that he will not be alone in action at the wheel of a STR3 at the southern Spanish track.

Like 31-year-old Sato, his main contender Sebastien Bourdais is also scheduled to run for two days at Jerez.

The Swiss youngster Sebastien Buemi, meanwhile, who will almost certainly replace Sebastien Vettel at the team in 2009, will test on all three days of the test.

Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz said recently an announcement about STR's drivers will be made before Christmas, but the spokesperson said no such deadline applies.

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12/04/08
lmes
alms

Audi scraps LMS program
Audi motorsport boss Wolfgang Ullrich says in this week's Autosport magazine that the manufacturer will not attempt to defend its Le Mans Series title next season with the new R15 TDi.

"We will not participate in the LMS," he said. "We all have to face that the economy is moving and everyone has to put something into their pocket to save money.

"The LMS has grown quite significantly but you have to face the fact that to make the best out of less money, there is no choice but to cut parts of the program."

The Le Mans 24 Hours is, so far, the only confirmed outing for the R15 beyond the American Le Mans Series season-opener, the Sebring 12 Hours, in March.

But Ullrich says a decision about a tenth consecutive full ALMS campaign is still to be made.

"We are still in discussion about the American program," he said. "There has to be a board decision to do it, but we are all working on it very hard."

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12/04/08
irl

Versus 10-year plan focuses on younger male audience
Bloody noses. Smashed mouths.

Comcast Corp.'s Versus has gone mano a mano in its entertainment to boost ratings on the national sports network.

On Dec. 3, the 24-hour channel will present a new episode of The Contender, a reality boxing show previously on NBC and ESPN. The Contender will join mixed-martial-arts cage fighting and NHL games in prime time.

"We are trying to find the programming that hits our audience, no pun intended," said Marc Fein, executive vice president for programming, production and business operations at Versus.

There are also bull riding and Indy racing and the Tour de France. On Friday nights and weekend mornings, Versus Country shows hunting and fishing for a legacy hard-core audience from its days as the Outdoor Life Network.

This year, Comcast moved the channel's top executives and managers to Philadelphia from Connecticut and hired a new president, Jamie Davis. Versus' live studios remain in Stamford, Conn., and public relations in New York. The operation employs 115.

Davis, a former Fox Sports executive who joined in September, said he wouldn't be creating a "me-too ESPN" or ESPN3.

"Stats and data are a commodity. That's not what we want," Davis said. "We don't want to be in every sport."

Versus needs an attitude or a "glue that holds the sports together," said Jeff Shell, president of the Comcast programming group in Philadelphia, adding that he was thrilled with the channel's progress since its new direction two years ago. Average viewership has doubled to about 250,000 homes a night, he said.

Versus won't likely catch the category killer, ESPN, but executives say it can be a respectable general-sports brand in the loudmouth field of Fox Sports, TNT, NBC Sports and niche channels, such as the NFL Network.

Two years ago, Comcast realized it had a big problem with the Outdoor Life Network. The typical viewer was older than 50, and hunting and fishing had a narrow advertiser base. More at Philly.com

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12/04/08
speedcar

F1 drivers line half the grid at Speedcar Series opener
The opening race to Speedcar Series Season 2 begins tomorrow at the Dubai Autodrome. 14 drivers will take to the grid representing seven professional teams at the 2-day race weekend.

The list of drivers participating in the Series this year include some of the big F1 names including Johnny Herbert (reigning champion of Speedcar Series Season 1), Jean Alesi, Jacques Villeneuve, Stefan Johansson, Gianni Morbidelli, Heinz Harald Frentzen and Vitantonio Liuzzi who will be making his Speedcar Series debut this season.

They will be pitted against talent from other fields of motor sport including Mathias Lauda, the strong Austrian driver who proved to be a serious contender in Season 1 finishing the championship in 7th place after only having competed in 3 rounds out of 5. Also in the line-up is UAE driver Hasher Al Maktoum, Frenchman Eric Charles, Chinese driver Marchy Lee, Damien Pasini from France, German FIA GT driver Marcel Tiemann and young Austrian Christopher Zoechling a resident of the UAE.

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12/04/08
f1

Sato to test again with Toro Rosso
(GMM)  Takuma Sato will test again with the Toro Rosso team at Jerez next week.

It will be the Japanese veteran's third outing with the Ferrari-powered team, indicating he is still firmly in the running to return to the formula one grid next year.

A statement released by the 31-year-old's management said Sato, who raced 93 times with Jordan, BAR and Super Aguri, is to appear on December 10 and 11 at the southern Spanish circuit.

"We obviously see this as a positive step but still nothing is decided for the 2009 racing season," said Sato's commercial manager Matthew Winter.

Swiss rookie Sebastien Buemi is the favorite to replace Sebastian Vettel at Toro Rosso next year, with Sato and Sebastien Bourdais the most likely candidates for the second race seat.

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12/04/08
irl

IRL's Ethanol debate still burning hot
Debate over the Indy Racing League’s decision to partner with a Brazilian ethanol provider is still burning white hot. The one thing the IRL might have overlooked is that the in-fighting in the ethanol industry is as much about corn vs. sugar cane growers as it is about American vs. foreign producers. A story in this week’s IBJ print edition has sparked reaction on numerous fronts.

First from Terry Angstadt, president of IRL’s commercial division: “The [IRL] is proud to be fueled by ethanol, a renewable energy fuel. For the last three years, ethanol has been the official fuel as a result of a sponsorship agreement with the ethanol producers and EPIC, the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. The ethanol producers recently notified the IRL that it would not be renewing the agreement for 2009 and beyond and EPIC is ceasing operation. No one from any other part of the American-based ethanol community stepped forward with a substantial proposal. Soon after, the [IRL] and APEX-Brasil reached a preliminary agreement.

"As part of that agreement, we plan on starting our 2009 season with American-produced ethanol. Opportunities still exist for American ethanol companies and organizations to continue involvement in the [IRL]. The [IRL] is pleased to continue to be the only major American racing series fueled by 100 percent fuel grade ethanol. APEX will use the [IRL] platform to promote a variety of Brazilian products, services and opportunities, including ethanol. We look forward to working with American producers and Brazilian producers of ethanol to promote ethanol as a renewable energy source and part of the solution to lessen the United States’ reliance on Middle Eastern oil.”

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