Hot News
for your iPhone
for your iPad
Go to our forums to discuss this news
DATE News (chronologically)
Bodine to run 15 Cup races in Toyota Bodine to run 15 Cup races in ToyotaCraftsman Truck Series champion Todd Bodine will drive a No. 03 Toyota in 15 Nextel Cup races for the Germain Racing team.

“Since we started the team in August of 2004, our primary goal has been to be Toyota’s #1 truck team and to win them their first NASCAR championship,” said Germain Racing team owner Bob Germain.

“In 2007, our goal is to successfully defend our truck championship and also be the first Toyota team to win a Nextel Cup race. With the team we have, I think it’s very possible.”

Andretti to go for F1 joyride Andretti to go for F1 joyrideIndyCar Series 'Rookie of the Year' Marco Andretti will experience a Formula One car for the first time courtesy of the Honda Racing F1 Team when he joins the team's test in Jerez next week. The team has invited Marco to drive its 2006 RA106 race car on Friday 15 December, the final day of its scheduled test, in recognition of his achievements in the Honda-powered IndyCar Series this year.

The 19 year old recently completed his first season in the IndyCar Series, driving the #26 NYSE car for Andretti Green Racing. A superb 'rookie' year saw Marco finish second in the 2006 Indianapolis 500, capture his first career victory at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma and finish the season in seventh position overall in the drivers' standings. Marco was further honored with the Bombardier Rookie of the Year Award and the Rising Star Award. Zzzz

Marco is the son of two-time IndyCar Series championship-winning team owner and former CART champion Michael Andretti, and the grandson of racing legend Mario Andretti. He is also team-mates at Andretti Green Racing with Brazilian Tony Kanaan, who also experienced a drive in a Honda F1 car in December 2005, Scotsman Dario Franchitti and Danica Patrick.

Marco will join the Honda Racing F1 Team in Jerez for the final test of 2006 as the team continues its winter development program and evaluation of the new Bridgestone Potenza tires in preparation for the launch of the new RA107 car early next year.

Marco Andretti commented, "I am thrilled that Honda has offered me this incredible opportunity. 2006 was a fantastic inaugural year for me in the IRL and I look forward to fighting for the championship next season. However, as you would expect of any racing driver, when Honda offered me the chance to drive, I grabbed it with both hands - no hesitation! I can only imagine what an awesome experience this is going to be and I'm just going to take my time and enjoy every moment."

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director at the Honda Racing F1 Team said, "We are delighted to have Marco join us in Jerez next week for his first run in a Formula One car. Marco has had an outstanding first season in the IndyCar Series, making a big impact at such a young age. As part of the extended Honda Racing family, it will be a great pleasure for us to give him the chance of his first experience of Formula One."

Crash injures Biffle Crash injures BiffleUPDATE "During a tire test this week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway I cut a right front tire and made heavy contact with the wall.  As a result of the incident, I dislocated my shoulder and have been advised by my doctors to remain in Mooresville today for further assessment of the injury.  It is for that reason that I will be unable to attend this year's NASCAR Busch Series Banquet.  I would like to extend my sincerest apologies to NASCAR, the Busch Series and Ameriquest for my absence.  It was a privilege and a great pleasure for me to continue to be a competitor for Roush Racing, Ameriquest, Brewco Motorsports and Ford Motor Company in NASCAR's Busch Series this season.  I love racing in the Busch Series and I plan to continue to do so for many years." Greg Biffle

12/08/06 Testing tires is pretty boring stuff for most drivers, but this week's two-day Goodyear test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway left Kyle Busch excited and Greg Biffle with a headache. The two drivers spent Wednesday and Thursday testing tires to help the tire manufacturer find the proper tire combination for the new 20-degree banking at LVMS. It will determine which tires Goodyear brings back for the NASCAR-sanctioned test Jan. 29-30 as well as for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup event on March 11. "There are a lot of neat characteristics to the track," said Busch, a Las Vegas native. "It's still pretty wide and a great racing surface. It's wide enough that we'll be able to run two and three wide. The transitions from the corner to the straightaways and then the straightaways to the corners are awesome. It's a great layout." Biffle said Wednesday that he is looking forward to racing on the new layout. But his test ended early on Thursday when he made hard contact with the wall between turns one and two. The impact knocked the fuel pump off the car and made for a fiery scene. Busch, who was closely following Biffle, helped the veteran driver from his car. Biffle wasn't injured, but decided to discontinue testing for the day. "That was a really hard hit and we lost a good car," Biffle said. "But I'm O.K." Unofficially, the drivers were clocked at speeds near 187 miles per hour, but Biffle said that may pick up to closer to 190 once the Nextel Cup teams start qualifying in March. Kasey Kahne holds the track qualifying record of 174.904 mph set in 2004. Tickets for the March 9-11 NASCAR Weekend are on sale by calling 1-800-644-4444 or by logging on to www.lvms.com. Passes for the new Neon Garage and pre-race activities passes also are available through the ticket office. LVMS PR
Waltrip Racing names crew chiefs Waltrip Racing names crew chiefsCORNELIUS, N.C. – Michael Waltrip Racing announced today that Matt Borland, Larry Carter and David Hyder have been named crew chiefs of the organization for the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season.

Borland has been designated as crew chief of the No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry with former champion Dale Jarrett. Carter will reside as crew chief of the No. 00 Toyota Camry co-sponsored by BURGER KING® and DOMINO'S PIZZA® with driver David Reutimann. Michael Waltrip has assigned Hyder as crew chief of his No. 55 NAPA Toyota Camry.

“We are pleased to announce our crew chiefs today,” Waltrip said. “We concentrated on pairing personalities to find the perfect qualified individuals for each position. Matt is a proven winner and we’re proud to have him steering the No. 44 UPS Toyota team. I’ve known David for a while and look forward to him leading the NAPA team. I love his enthusiasm and the way he thinks. Obviously, Larry was vitally important in building our teams and I know he will be instrumental in building David Reutimann’s future while driving his Toyota co-sponsored by BURGER KING® and DOMINO'S PIZZA®. We are fortunate to have all three of them under one roof.” zzzz

Borland led Ryan Newman to 12 wins, 37 poles, 54 top-fives, 83 top-10s in 186 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series starts. The 35-year-old joined Penske Racing South in November 1999 originally as an engineer. In 2001, Borland was then instrumental in his driver’s success as he participated in a combination schedule in the ARCA, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Borland looked on as Newman amassed eight poles, two wins, five top-fives and 11 top-10 finishes.
In Borland’s first full-time season in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series as a crew chief, he claimed one win, six pole awards, 14 top-five and 22 top-10s. Borland, also received trophies from winning The Winston and his driver clinched the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title and finished sixth in the championship standings. After years of success with Penske Racing South, Borland makes the move to Michael Waltrip Racing.

“I’m looking forward to making a new home at Michael Waltrip Racing and working with Dale Jarrett,” Borland said. “Dale is a champion and he has a ton of respect in the garage. He’s obviously proven himself as a driver. Also, Toyota will be great to work with. I think Toyota is one of the most technologically advanced manufacturers.”

“There are a lot of smart, innovative individuals in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and I am thrilled that Michael Waltrip Racing was able to secure one of the best in Matt Borland,” Jarrett said. “He's obviously had a lot of success in the few years he's been in this position. I think Christmas came a little early for Michael Waltrip Racing and myself. This announcement just adds to my excitement about 2007. I think he'll truly be a valuable asset to this #44 UPS Toyota team and will complement Michael Waltrip Racing as a whole.”

“Dale expressed his ideal crew chief was someone like Matt Borland,” Waltrip added. “We were actually able to deliver Matt Borland. Matt’s spirit and determination will permeate throughout our shop.”

Carter aligned with Michael Waltrip Racing after a successful stint as Rusty Wallace’s crew chief at Penske Racing South. Joining Penske in 2004, Carter led Wallace to his 55th career victory in April of that year at Martinsville Speedway, snapping a 105-race winless streak for Wallace. It was only his 10th race with Wallace, whose last NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series win was in 2001 at California Speedway. Carter has been an integral part of Michael Waltrip Racing’s growth.

“We’ve set some realistic goals and assembled a solid team,” Carter said. “David Reutimann is very talented and we’re going to have a lot of fun working with him. He’s been fast at all the tests and I think he’ll do well next year. Fortunately, we were able to run five races last season with Bill Elliott to help prepare us for 2007.”

“I’ve known of Larry for years, but I’ve just recently got to know him,” Reutimann said. “I’m real happy to have him in my corner. I needed a veteran crew chief to help me through everything I will experience as a rookie. We get along great and I know we will have success together.”

“David’s plate will be full this year and Larry’s extensive experience and knowledge of the sport will help David in his first year as a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competitor,” Waltrip added. He will be able to help David’s rookie season run smoothly.”

Hyder brings a different aspect to Michael Waltrip Racing with having nearly 20 years of experience as a Late Model driver with close to 100 victories. In 1999, he stopped driving and building his own cars and joined Petty Enterprises as a mechanic. Almost three years later, he became a car chief for the Petty’s in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. At the end of the 2004 season, he transitioned from being a car chief at Petty Enterprises to becoming a crew chief at BAM Racing with driver Ken Schrader. In 2006, Hyder was named crew chief of the No. 21 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series entry at Wood Brothers. Midseason, the High Point-N.C. native returned to BAM Racing. Waltrip approached Hyder not long after.

“Michael has the same mentality as other drivers I’ve worked with,” Hyder said. “Michael approached me at the end of the 2006 season and asked me what I was going to do the next season. He gauged my interest in being his crew chief. I got really excited about everything he has planned for his race team and I accepted.”

“David was someone that I was interested in from the beginning because he speaks my language,” Waltrip said. “He’s someone that has built and raced cars his whole life. He has a respect and knowledge for engineering, which coupled with Borland’s engineering background, we hope to continue our creation of a strong team atmosphere.”

Forsythe and Red Bull Join Forces Forsythe and Red Bull Join ForcesINDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - Forsythe Championship Racing is pleased to announce a blockbuster partnership with Red Bull, the world's #1 energy drink, that brings two of North America's most promising young drivers to Team Forsythe for an all-out attack on the 2007 edition of the Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

15 year-old American sensation John Edwards and 17 year-old Canadian prodigy Robert Wickens, both products of the Red Bull Junior Team program, have joined the Forsythe squad with primary sponsorship from Red Bull. Edwards, Wickens and the Forsythe Atlantic squad have set their sights squarely on the $2 million dollar prize to be awarded to the 2007 Atlantic Champion.

Jerry Forsythe
Forsythe Championship Racing
"Red Bull has shown an incredible commitment to driver development here in North America, paving the way for young open wheel stars to get the opportunities they deserve. We are honored to be selected as beneficiary of this development program as two of the brightest stars on the horizon have come on board with us for 2007. John and Robert are proven winners, but beyond that they are two incredible young men who have committed themselves to reaching the pinnacle of open wheel racing. We look forward to the 2007 Atlantic season with great anticipation."

John Brunner
Atlantic Team Manager
Forsythe Championship Racing
"We had a chance to test Robert and John in Moroso (Florida) last month and again last week at Thunderhill (California) and they were both quite impressive. Their talent is unmistakable, and when these young men are out of the car it's pretty amazing how mature and focused they are. They're young, but both have a lot of racing experience and when they put their helmets on it's like they become grizzled old veterans instead of teenagers! We’re looking forward to the first series open test in January when we can really see how we stack up against what looks like another incredibly strong Atlantic field for 2007." zzzz

John Edwards
Little Rock, Arkansas – Age 15
Atlantic Team Driver
Forsythe Championship Racing
“It's great to be joining Forsythe for next season. I can tell already that they have one of the best packages, and I can't wait to see how we compare to the others at the first race in Las Vegas. I've enjoyed working with everyone on the team, and it's great to be working with people that understand every detail of the car.”

Robert Wickens
Toronto, Ontario – Age 17
Atlantic Team Driver
Forsythe Championship Racing
"Ever since I can remember I have always looked up to Canadian Forsythe drivers like Greg Moore, Alex Tagliani, Lee Bentham, Jacques Villeneuve and of course Paul Tracy. So to be able to say that I am a part of Forsythe Championship Racing is a real honor to me and a dream come true. I plan on making the most of it. It looks like the Atlantic Championship is once again shaping up to be highly competitive. That being said, I always expect a lot out of myself, and 2007 will be no different. I think if we can achieve consistent top five finishes through out the season, we will have a very good chance of winning the title.”

Forsythe Championship Racing's Red Bull Atlantic squad hit the track for testing November 29-30 at Thunderhill Raceway in Northern California, part of a comprehensive testing schedule for the team leading up to the first event of the 2007 Atlantic Championship on the streets of Las Vegas, April 6-8. For more information about the Atlantic Championship, please visit the official website at www.ChampCarAtlantic.com.


John Edwards
Age: 15
Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky
Hometown: Little Rock, Arkansas

Formula Renault Europe– 3 Podiums, 1Win
Formula Renault Europe – Youngest driver ever granted FIA license (Age 14)
Skip Barber Formula Dodge - Youngest Winner in Skip Barber history at age 12 years (January - Daytona)
Red Bull Worldwide Driver Search Winner (October - Estoril, Portugal)

Robert Wickens 

Age: 17
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario


Formula BMW USA Champion
Formula BMWUSA–3rd Overall
27th to 6th in Formula BMW World Finals (November – Bahrain, UAE)
Sunoco Ron Fellows Formula Senior Kart Champion

A wet track at Jerez A wet track at JerezUPDATE It was a Honda 1-2 today in Jerez. Heavy overnight rain in Jerez meant that the start of running was slightly delayed on the final morning. Drivers went out initially on extreme wets before switching to wet tires as the circuit dried out. During the afternoon, drivers continued with set-up work and longer tire runs on the Bridgestone dry tires.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Barrichello Honda (B) 1:20.008 65
 2. Rossiter Honda (B) 1:20.171 108
 3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:20.325 79
 4. R.Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:20.339 61
 5. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:20.342 84
 6. Kovalainen Renault (B) 1:20.372 70
 7. Fisichella Renault (B) 1:20.390 88
 8. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:20.436 110
 9. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:20.542 87
10. Glock BMW-Sauber (B) 1:20.785 105
11. Kobayashi Toyota (B) 1:20.978 70
12. Webber Red Bull-Ferrari (B) 1:20.985 79
13. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:21.143 46
14. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (B) 1:21.325 63
15. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:21.327 43
16. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (B) 1:21.327 51
17. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:23.600 16

12/08/06 (GMM) True to adverse weather forecasts, Jerez dawned wet for the third day of pre-season testing this week in southern Spain.

Cars threw up huge plumes of spray and dodged deep puddles of standing water at the circuit in Andalusia, but all ten teams present nonetheless fielded cars before lunch.

Making his proper Formula One debut on Friday is Williams' new Japanese test driver Kazuki Nakajima, whose maiden run in the FW28 was for a Toyota demonstration at Fuji.

FIA confirms long-term plans for F1 FIA confirms long-term plans for F1The FIA has confirmed long-term plans for F1 which will make the sport more environmentally-friendly and make it more useful for the road car industry. The World Motor Sport Council met today and agreed a timeline moving forward.2007
- regulations are already published
- (existing 2.4 liter engine remains "frozen");

- regulations as published but possible elimination of aerodynamic appendices (barge boards, winglets, chimneys, etc) forward of rear wheel centerline and behind front wheel centerline (subject to unanimous agreement of competing teams);
- possible sporting regulations to restrict the use of wind tunnels and/or models for use in wind tunnels and/or test rigs (subject to the consent of a majority of competing teams);
- (existing 2.4 liter engine remains frozen)

- energy recovery and re-use from braking
- reduction of 50% of downforce
- aerodynamic and other changes to facilitate overtaking
- existing 2.4 liter engine remains frozen or, possibly, a four-race drive train (engine and transmission) zzzz

- a proportion of waste heat recovered and used to propel the car
- a proportion of waste energy from exhaust gases recovered and used to propel the car
- wholly or partially standardized aerodynamics (or, possibly, new rules to encourage road-relevant research into aerodynamics)
- (existing 2.4 liter engine remains frozen, or, if applicable, four-race drive train remains frozen)

- perhaps a new four-race engine including
- high-efficiency turbocharging
- fuel (energy) flow limits
- direct injection
- downsizing so as to ensure very high (15000+) rpm
- bio fuels (possible freedom to use any bio fuel, with a limited maximum energy flow rate rather than a maximum fuel flow rate)
- perhaps a new approach to the chassis with
- further reductions in downforce
- greater emphasis on cornering performance and handling by means of chassis, suspension, and brake management
- complete freedom to use electronics to make the car more energy-efficient (drive train, etc, management)
- possibly also free up driver-aid electronics
- materials ¨C limitations on materials to bring them more into line with those used in road cars
- other road-relevant technologies

- new engine as above
- It is proposed that the foregoing should be a basis for discussion. There may be other interesting and important technologies as well as areas of research which are not mentioned.

Everything will be on the principle that new technologies, or rather the relevant devices, shall be freely available for sale to any team which wants them at an easily affordable price.

Ho-Pin Tung to take over Chinese car Ho-Pin Tung to take over Chinese carDutch-Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung (24) will make his A1GP race debut this weekend following his successful rookie test. A1 GP team China offered the race seat to Ho-Pin who is anxious to represent China in the World Cup of Motorsport. Ho-Pin Tung: I am very proud to race for Team China in this fantastic race series!".

Despite lack of experience in the A1 GP car, the current Formula 3 champion showed a lot of potential. Ho-Pin who recently tested a Formula Renault World Series car in Valencia left a good impression in the Sentul A1 paddock.

During the rookie sessions in which Confu Cheng's replacement was introduced to the A1 GP car, he was 11th fastest. In the official practice session Ho-Pin improved his laptime to 1:18.9 which was good enough for place 15, only 0.9 seconds adrift from the fastest lap of the day set by team France. Unfortunately Ho-Pin went off the track with new tires before he could improve his laptime again.

Ho-Pin Tung: "I am very proud to represent team China in this fantastic race series. The team works very well, the rest of the weekend we will fine tune the car. The first practice was okay, the team worked hard to adjust the car to my driving style. My first impression is that it's different compared to the Formula 3 car but I am still learning. With each run we find more speed and I can improve my lap time. It's a pity I went off when I had a new set of tires because this has cost me a very good lap time. It's important to have as much track time as possible to learn more. Tomorrow during free practice we will adjust some small things to the car before we will start qualifying".

track news
Free admission for IMS bus tour Free admission for IMS bus tourINDIANAPOLIS - The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum is in the giving spirit and offering the public free admission to the museum and the narrated track tour on Friday, Dec. 22.

As part of an Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association holiday promotion - appropriately named the "12 (FREE) Days of (Indy) Christmas" - the Hall of Fame Museum is among a group of leading Indianapolis-area attractions offering free admission to the public for one day. The promotion provides easy access to one of the world's premier collections of race cars, classic automobiles, motorsports artwork and artifacts.

More than 75 automobiles and motorcycles, representing the Indianapolis 500, stock car racing, sports car racing, and vintage luxury passenger models, are on display at the Hall of Fame Museum at all times. zzzz

Cars that are part of the Museum's collection include: the Marmon "Wasp," winner of the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911; A.J. Foyt's four Indianapolis 500-winning cars; Smokey Yunick's famed "side car;" the one-of-its-kind 1957 SSI Corvette; a Benetton F1 car driven by Michael Schumacher; and Tony Stewart's 2005 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard-winning Chevrolet.

Stewart's stock car is part of a larger exhibit featuring cars Stewart drove during his rise to fame, including a USAC Midget and Sprint car and the Home Depot-sponsored car he drove in the 1999 Indianapolis 500.

The Hall of Fame Museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Dec. 22, as it is everyday of the year except Christmas Day. For more information, contact the Museum at (317) 492-6784 or log onto www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.

After browsing the Museum's collection and enjoying the track tour on Dec. 22, shopping for last-minute gift items for Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans is steps away, in the Official Trackside Gift Shop locations in the lobby of the Hall of Fame Museum. Fans can also place ticket orders for 2007 IMS behind-the-scenes "Grounds Tours" as gifts at this time. Information is available at the museum's welcome desk.
Other Indianapolis-area attractions participating in the "12 (FREE) Days of (Indy) Christmas" include: Conner Prairie (Dec. 13), James Whitcomb Riley Home (Dec. 14), President Benjamin Harrison Home (Dec. 15), Indianapolis Artsgarden (Dec. 16), Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art (Dec. 17), Indiana State Museum (Dec. 18), NCAA Hall of Champions (Dec. 19), Morris-Butler House (Dec. 20), Indianapolis Museum of Art (Dec. 21), Indiana Historical Society (Dec. 23) and The Children's Museum of Indianapolis (Dec. 24).

Bitter Richert taking Roush secrets to Toyota Bitter Richert taking Roush secrets to ToyotaDoug Richert, named Wednesday as crew chief for Brain Vickers in the No. 83 Toyotas at Team Red Bull, said Roush Racing's decision to move him out from the role as Greg Biffle's crew chief "hurt" and led to his departure from that company.

In an interview on Sirius Satellite Radio, Richert said when Roush Racing began shuffling its crew chief lineup for 2007 it became obvious that he and Biffle would not remain together. Richert had been Biffle's crew chief since September 2003.

"I thought we had one of the best deals going," Richert said, "and to have it taken away because we only won two races and were 13th in points, that hurt. We're still the same people we were in 2005 when we came 35 points from winning the championship. So, maybe I was a little sour."

Richert said moving to Jamie McMurray's No. 26 team was discussed. "Not taking anything away from Jamie or anyone on that team -- because we all had equal stuff -- but it was probably more of a mental thing for me," he said. "... Going into a situation like that, your head has to be in the game. I didn't feel like my head was in the game to do myself, Jamie McMurray or that team any good."  More at Charlotte Observer

Better Fridays for F1 fans Better Fridays for F1 fansF1 fans who will be at the circuits on Fridays will be treated to one of the most interesting spectacles due to changes made by the FIA to regulations concerning practice sessions and also the use of engines during a Grand Prix weekend. Indeed, spectators will get to see two 90-minute sessions - a good hour more than last year. From 10 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. in the morning and from 2 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. in the afternoon. And that is not all. Drivers will no longer have to limit their laps of the track as the engines used on Friday will not be needed for the following afternoon's qualifying or Sunday's race, but rather engines unconstrained by the two-Grand-Prix rule. As well, while a team may only have two cars on track, it will still be able to use three drivers. Other important news: as all cars will be fitted with Bridgestone tires, Friday's times will be more significant, providing a sharper picture of the real gap between each of the teams. Whether it is hot or cold, dry or wet, everyone will have the same tires for reference.
track news
DeLana International Speedway DeLana International SpeedwayKevin Harvick Inc. and owner DeLana Harvick have dominated the past two Daytona 300 Busch Series races at Daytona International Speedway, winning the prestigious season-opening events with driver Tony Stewart.

With Kevin Harvick Inc.'s success in the Daytona 300, Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig announced that the legendary historic motorsports facility will now carry the name of its team owner -- DeLana -- for the day.

"Kevin Harvick Inc. and its owner DeLana Harvick have won the last two February Busch Series races at DIS," Braig said. "Since they 'own' the track, in their honor, we're going to change the name of Daytona International Speedway to 'DeLana International Speedway' for the day."

On Thursday during NASCAR Busch Series Champion's Week Media Luncheon at the ESPN Club at Disney's Boardwalk, Braig made the announcement and gave a piece of historic pavement from DIS to DeLana Harvick with the new track logo.

The Daytona 300, the premier event in the NASCAR Busch Series season, will kick off the 2007 Busch Series season on Saturday, Feb. 17. The race will also be televised on ESPN2HD, the new television home to the Busch Series.

Industry News
Investors ditch Ford shares Investors ditch Ford sharesShares of Ford Motor Co. plunged again on Thursday as investors fled the company's regular shares in favor of a $4.5-billion convertible bond issue that analysts said offered better returns for less risk -- a view colorfully articulated by a popular TV host.

Ford's shares fell 20 cents, or 2.7%, to $7.16 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. Since hitting $9.03 last month, the shares have lost 21% of their value, shaving about $3.5 billion off Ford's market price.

Renault launch date Renault launch date(GMM)  Renault on Friday confirmed reports that the championship winning team will launch its 2007 car in Dutch capital Amsterdam.

The 'R27', which according to technical director Bob Bell was successfully FIA crash-tested this week, will be launched on 24 January, a statement said.

Prior to the official unveiling, however, the car will actually test for the first time at Jerez on the sixteenth of the month.

The Dutch launch, to take place at an industrial exhibition space in the Oostenburg region, was chosen to mark new sponsor ING's "arrival in the sport as title partner of the reigning formula one world champions", French squad Renault added.

Bell, playing down the fact that the current hybrid car has failed to top a time sheet in pre-season testing so far, commented: "Compared to the design of the (2006) R26, we are definitely ahead of the game at this stage."

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Kimi visits Ferrari at Jerez
Jani says F1 tests still possible
Jerez '97 is biggest regret - Schu
Schu contemplated retiring in 2005
Rosberg 'content' after difficult rookie year
Teams meet for customer car talks on Friday
GB and France set to battle in Indonesia GB and France set to battle in IndonesiaSentul - A1 Teams Great Britain and France look set for a close fight in this weekend's Gudang Garam A1GP Sentul, Indonesia after the two traded fastest times during today's two practice sessions. Competition will be fierce however as the top 15 set times within one second of each other.

Britain's rookie Oliver Jarvis recorded the fastest time during the opening practice hour, just 0.099secs quicker than young French talent Loic Duval. The teams switched positions in the later session on the 4.12km track, with Frenchman Nicolas Lapierre (right) capturing the top spot, a slim 0.048secs quicker than Briton Robbie Kerr.

Jarvis said he pushed himself during the session, despite the challenging humid weather conditions "It's a very challenging circuit, especially the third and fourth corners and it pushes the drivers to the limits. I think as a racing driver you adapt and don't notice the temperatures too much and when you are in the car it is fine, it is when you are back out of the car that you feel it more. As long you drink lots of water before going out there it should be all right out there. zzzz

Jarvis admitted he faced another battle; one with his team-mate Kerr. "I would love to be racing the car but unfortunately Robbie is number one driver at the moment with A1 Team GBR and I am pushing hard, but the team are favoring him at the present over myself. I believer if I keep doing the job I am doing then it won't be long before you see me racing it."

2005/06 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport champion France will be eager to secure its first victory of the 2006/07 season. The team dominated the first year of competition, with 13 wins in 22 races, however have yet to be onto the top step of the podium this year. "Last year I had a very exciting race," added Lapierre, "We won the first one and we were second on the grid and I think the car is pretty good here. We just have to work again as it looks like it will be faster than last year and every track we go to we have to work a little bit harder than last year because everybody is a bit faster so tomorrow morning we will work hard and see how qualifying goes."

France and Britain however face strong competition from Australia's Ryan Briscoe and South African Alan van der Merwe who were just two tenths shy of Kerr in the second session. Jarek Janis, scheduled to race for the first time for A1 Team Czech Republic this weekend, also showed strongly in both practices, setting the third fastest time in the first hour and the fifth in the second.

A1 Team Indonesia started their campaign for a strong result at home with 8th position in the first session and 13th in the second. "I think this track is really easy for everybody to learn so I think it is going to be really close as today we have the top 15 under one second. I think with the new tire we still need to do work a bit but on old tires our car was quite competitive." He admitted the challenge would be hard, "However, Nicolas is very quick and to it will be really, really difficult to get close. Hopefully tomorrow will be dry again. I think for tomorrow the pole could be something like a high 1min 16secs. In Malaysia we were five seconds quicker than last year. Here for qualifying it could be one second quicker, but I don't think we can make five."

With weather conditions for tomorrow scheduled to remain hot and humid with a strong possibility of storms and heavy rain, the information gathered from today's practice sessions will be vital as teams may be forced to make quick set-up changes. After a further free practice session, Qualifying for the Sprint race will take place between 14.15 and 15.30.

Official Practice Session 1 (11.00 - 12.00) - Rookie drivers and developing nations only
A1 Team Driver Time No. Laps
1 Great Britain Oliver Jarvis 1.18.447 18
2 France Loic Duval 1.18.546 8
3 Czech Republic Jaroslav Janis 1.18.869 11
4 Mexico Sergio Perez 1.18.946 13
5 South Africa Alan van der Merwe 1.18.994 9
6 Switzerland Sebastien Buemi 1.19.124 12
7 Canada James Hinchcliffe 1.19.438 18
8 Indonesia Moreno Soeprapto 1.19.455 15
9 Ireland Richard Lyons 1.19.532 15
10 Malaysia Fairuz Fauzy 1.19.546 12
11 China Ho-Pin Tung 1.19.582 18
12 Australia Karl Reindler 1.19.618 14
13 Netherlands Renger van der Zande 1.19.652 14
14 Brazil Tuka Rocha 1.19.850 12
15 Lebanon Alex Khateeb 1.20.574 19
16 Germany Marco Holzer 1.20.604 15
17 Italy Michele Rugolo 1.20.746 15
18 India Parthiva Sureshwaren 1.21.141 14
19 Pakistan Nur Ali 1.26.045 12
20 New Zealand Chris van der Drift 5.17.080 2

Official Practice session 2 (14.00 - 15.00)
A1 Team Driver Time No. Laps
1 France Nicolas Lapierre 1.17.992 15
2 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 1.18.040 22
3 Australia Ryan Briscoe 1.18.149 22
4 South Africa Alan van der Merwe 1.18.244 19
5 Czech Republic Jaroslav Janis 1.18.301 21
6 Mexico Salavador Duran 1.18.383 23
7 Canada Sean McIntosh 1.18.455 24
8 Germany Nico Hulkenberg 1.18.508 23
9 Brazil Tuka Rocha 1.18.634 20
10 USA Phil Giebler 1.18.640 27
11 Switzerland Neel Jani 1.18.671 20
12 Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen 1.18.705 23
13 Indonesia Anada Mikola 1.18.709 24
14 Ireland Richard Lyons 1.18.808 23
15 China Ho-Pin Tung 1.18.907 22
16 New Zealand Jonny Reid 1.19.135 23
17 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 1.19.305 19

Truck team fires Starr Truck team fires StarrDavid Starr, who finished fourth in the Craftsman Truck Series point standings this past season, has been let go by Red Horse Racing because of a lack of sponsorship. He's expected to be replaced by Aaron Fike, who is bringing a sponsor to the team for 2007.

At the season finale in Homestead, Fla., team co-owner Jeff Hammond said the plan was to expand to two trucks, one for Starr and one for a driver to be announced. But when the sponsorship for Starr's team didn't come together, Starr learned he'd be without a ride.

As of Thursday afternoon, Starr didn't have anything set for 2007 but said he may have a ride secured in a NASCAR series within days. And while disappointed, he understands the move made by owners Tom DeLoach and Hammond.

"We had a pretty good year," Starr said. "I was really looking forward to '07, I thought we had a shot at the championship. When I got the news that it was a possibility that we wouldn't run because of the sponsor situation, it was really disappointing.

"But you can't ask for better owners - they're great people and good to work with. But when it comes down to it, you either break even or make a little bit of money, but how many years can you take a loss? From a business standpoint I understand.

"I'm glad they secured something, because it's such a great team and great owners. Even though [it took somebody bringing sponsorship], I'm glad that team's staying together whether I'm driving or not."

Janis to replace Enge Janis to replace EngeTomas Enge has pulled out of this weekend's Indonesian round of the A1GP series.  The Czech driver's absence means that Jarek Janis will step up to the race seat.

Enge will test for the Samax Motorsport team in their MK XI Grand-Am Daytona prototype.

Janis said: "It is great that I have got a chance to race in the A1GP and I am really looking forward to it. I know the car relatively well from the rookie practices.

"I have spoken with Tomas and other team members about Sentul. It seems to be demanding track and there were some problems with tarmac last year. There were small stones off the line, which means poor grip and difficult overtaking."

ESPN2: New Home of the NASCAR Busch Series ESPN2: New Home of the NASCAR Busch SeriesNASCAR Busch Series fans will have a new television destination in 2007.
Beginning Feb. 17, ESPN2 will be the new home of the NASCAR Busch Series with select races to air on ESPN on ABC.
ESPN and ABC Sports president George Bodenheimer has called the NASCAR Busch Series “one of the jewels in the rough of the (full NASCAR) deal,” and fans will notice a new shine on the gem with ESPN’s elevation of the series. With its multi-media platforms and the same standards and quality of production as the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series including use of High Definition cameras, SportVision enhancements and state-of-the-art graphics, ESPN is poised to provide a tremendous experience for viewers.
“We are as excited as the fans to launch our NASCAR coverage starting with the NASCAR Busch Series season-opener at Daytona International Speedway,” said ESPN executive vice president of content John Skipper. “Having the NASCAR Busch Series entirely on one network is really going to serve the NASCAR fan and allow us to tell a story all year long. The strength of the NASCAR Busch Series significantly enhances all of our content offerings and brings tremendous value to ESPN2 and ESPN on ABC.” zzzz
In addition to all 35 NBS races, the networks will telecast practice and qualifying from 17 races, the season-ending banquet and a season preview and review specials.  There will also be a dedicated pre-race program for each race called NASCAR Busch Series Countdown as well as comprehensive coverage of the Busch Series in ESPN2’s NASCAR news and information program, NASCAR Now.  And, for the first time in televised motorsports, all will be produced in High Definition.
To help fans prepare for the new season, NASCAR Now will debut on Feb. 5, marking the network’s first-ever daily program solely dedicated to NASCAR, delivering the latest race news and information. Also on Feb. 5, ESPN Original Entertainment (EOE) will start a countdown of the “100 Defining Moments” in NASCAR history. These 30-second vignettes will lead to ESPN and ESPN on ABC’s airing of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, beginning July 29 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
ESPN’s comprehensive NASCAR Busch Series coverage will extend to ESPN.com, ESPN Deportes, SportsCenter, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPNRadio, ESPN360, ESPN International and EOE, among other ESPN platforms.
“Having ESPN2 showcase the excitement and anticipation of the season-opening Daytona 300 from Daytona International Speedway is the perfect way to open the NASCAR Busch Series season,” said speedway president Robin Braig.  “We’re excited to have ESPN’s multi-media platforms showcase this great event to millions of fans around the world.”
In 2006, Chevy driver Kevin Harvick captured the coveted NASCAR Busch Series season title by a record margin of 824 points over Carl Edwards.
“It is great that ESPN is rejoining NASCAR,” said Harvick. “I think it will help the sport and with ESPN’s full-season broadcast of the Busch Series, I believe it will help owners secure more sponsorship dollars for their Busch programs. I also think that ESPN will bring a lot of new features to their broadcast that will entice more fans to join the world of NASCAR.”
ESPN2 will become the motorsports destination for NASCAR Busch Series fans with more than 500 hours of motorsports programming in 2007.
For more information visit, www.espnmotorsportsmedia.com.
ESPN and ESPN on ABC will have comprehensive, multi-platform coverage featuring telecasts of the final 17 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races including the 10-race “Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup” championship on ABC. Additionally, ESPN2 will be the home of the NASCAR Busch Series all season.
ESPN aired 262 NASCAR Cup Races over a 20-year period starting in 1981. The network's award-winning, live flag-to-flag coverage on ESPN was honored with 17 Sports Emmy Awards, as well as many industry honors. It is widely credited for helping to popularize the sport nationwide. NASCAR races have appeared on ABC for decades, beginning with broadcasts on the award-winning Wide World of Sports program in the 1960s.
A1GP interview from Indonesia A1GP interview from Indonesia
With NY race history, staff leaving With NY race history, staff leavingOn the heels of NASCAR giving up on a race in NY comes word that Justin Johnson, managing director of partnership market in NASCAR's New York sales office, is leaving to take a job with a motorsports marketing firm. Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Daily
Arby's to back Kenseth Arby's to back KensethMatt Kenseth's No. 17 Roush Racing Ford in the NASCAR Busch Series will be sponsored by Arby's in 13 races in 2007.

Kenseth debuts with the sponsor in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway Feb. 17. Arby's also will appear as the primary sponsor on Kenseth's NASCAR Nextel Cup car in the March 25 race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
"It's very exciting to have Arby's on board with us next year on both the Busch and Cup cars," Kenseth said. "It's always great to bring a new sponsor into the sport, especially considering I already ate at Arby's to begin with. Our Busch team had a great 2006 season; we ended the year with two straight wins. Hopefully, we will be able to pick up where we left off and get a win for Arby's at Daytona."

Smedley backs Massa Smedley backs MassaFerrari engineer Rob Smedley says that Felipe Massa will do well against Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.

"Felipe is starting the year a lot stronger psychologically and he has a lot more weapons in his armory now," Smedley told Autosport.

"He is a very, very quick driver. His raw speed was always evident, but it just needed tempering every now and again.

"What's surprised us is his race craft, because he's been extremely consistent.

"Kimi has a great reputation. He's a very strong driver, he has great race craft [also] and he's very consistent throughout the race.

"If you give him a good car and a good opportunity he'll take it, and that's why we're very pleased to be having him."

Smedley said that Massa may have to work his way out from beneath the Finn's shadow, however. zzzz

"In terms of where [Massa] is in the team, it isn't really any different. He's driver B of driver A and B.

"The biggest difference compared with last year is that Felipe is in a much stronger position in terms of where he is in himself."

Lastly the engineer knows that the team in the garage have their own responsibilities to take care of, but sees encouraging signs for next season.

"On our side of the garage we've just got to live up to [the pair]," he admitted. "I think it will be good for Felipe to have another benchmark.

"It is much better having that than a driver who's not quite up to standard."

Post-Season Honors for Atlantic Racer J.R. Hildebrand Post-Season Honors for Atlantic Racer J.R. HildebrandFollowing one of the most dominant and productive seasons in recent motorsports history, Champ Car Atlantic Championship driver J.R. Hildebrand is continuing to be recognized for his performance and talent exhibited in the 2006 Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 series.

Hildebrand, who will compete for Newman Wachs Racing in the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, recently earned two very prestigious honors. The 18-year-old Sausalito, California racer has been named to the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) All-America Auto Racing Team as a first-team honoree. The selection follows last weekend’s presentation of the 2007 Gorsline Scholarship award to Hildebrand at the Autosport Awards banquet in London, England.

In 2006, Hildebrand had a magical season competing in the FF2000 series. He rode a remarkable wave of 12 wins in 14 races to a convincing series championship while establishing records for victories in a season along with most consecutive wins (seven), series poles (11) and most laps led. The former Team USA Scholarship winner, who also established himself in Formula Palmer Audi competition in Europe, made his Atlantic debut in September with the Newman Wachs team at the season finale at Road America. He was then announced as NWR’s first driver for the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic season in mid November.  zzzz

In being named to the 17-member AARWBA 2006 All-America First Team, Hildebrand joins the likes of such notable racing superstars as three-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais, along with NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart and drag racer John Force. It marks Hildebrand’s first selection to the all-star squad. The members of the team will be honored at the annual AARWBA banquet, which will be held on Saturday, January 13 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Indianapolis.

"It's actually quite a surprise to be elected to the AARWBA All-America Team, to be completely honest,” said Hildebrand. “But it’s such an honor to be a part of that group, and to know that my achievements mean so much to those who voted. It's a great confidence builder coming into the 2007 season, and I'm sure it will open up some doors for me along the way."
After winning the Gorsline Scholarship, Hildebrand was presented with the award last weekend in a private reception at the Grosvenor House prior to the Autosport banquet in London. Racing legend Sir Stirling Moss made the presentation of the scholarship, awarded annually by John Gorsline and the Gorsline Company to a young up-and-coming driver that displays the attributes of a future champion. For earning the honor, Hildebrand will have access to several services designed to enhance his driving abilities, including a customized performance enhancement program along with top-notch driver coaching.

"The Gorsline Scholarship is such an exciting award to receive, because it can do so much for my career, as it has already begun to do through the contacts and associations that John Gorsline and the award have brought just in the last few weeks,” added Hildebrand. “Preparation is everything for me, and this award will give me every opportunity I could need to achieve that to the highest degree."
Hildebrand joins a long list of current and former Atlantic racers who have won the Gorsline Scholarship, including Katherine Legge, Ryan Lewis, Rocky Moran Jr., Danica Patrick, Bryan Sellers, Buddy Rice, Anthony Lazzaro and Bryan Herta.

As he prepares to battle for the Atlantic Championship and the unique $2 million champion’s Champ Car bonus in 2007, Hildebrand will continue his off-season testing program with the Newman Wachs Racing team.

For more information on North America’s premier open-wheel development series and to watch all 2006 races on demand, please visit www.champcaratlantic.com.

Hamilton tops Thursday test times at Jerez Hamilton tops Thursday test times at Jerez
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:18.684 78
 2. Fisichella Renault (B) 1:19.685 63
 3. Barrichello Honda (B) 1:19.784 111
 4. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:19.962 105
 5. R.Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:20.024 70
 6. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:20.046 60
 7. Klien Honda (B) 1:20.055 99
 8. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:20.141 64
 9. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:20.167 97
10. Kovalainen Renault (B) 1:20.204 78
11. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:20.461 88
12. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:20.556 107
13. Webber Red Bull-Ferrari (B) 1:20.596 89
14. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:20.701 112
15. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (B) 1:21.134 59
16. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (B) 1:21.276 78
17. Kobayashi Toyota (B) 1:21.292 53
Roush announces lineup for No. 26 car Roush announces lineup for No. 26 carCONCORD, N.C. - Roush Racing announced today the 2007 racing schedule for the No. 26 Ford Fusion driven by Jamie McMurray.  Next year's roster will include 28 races with Crown Royal and 10 races with IRWIN Industrial Tools on the No. 26 Ford.  The first race for Crown Royal will be the season-opening Daytona 500.  IRWIN Industrial Tools will run its first race on March 18th at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"It's great to have Crown Royal and IRWIN Industrial Tools back on the No. 26 car in 2007," McMurray said.  "The commitment and dedication they have shown to this team is beyond words, and everyone on the team is just really excited to have these two great sponsors on board again with us.

"It's been a really rewarding experience to help both Crown Royal and IRWIN Industrial Tools with initiatives such as the 'Safe Rides Home' program.  And with IRWIN Tools I have been able to attend tradeshows and visit some historic factories where the workers love watching and supporting the No. 26 car every weekend.  It's very cool to be a part of these programs, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to help promote these world-class brands to the millions of NASCAR fans." zzzz

IRWIN Industrial Tools was the primary sponsor for 11 races in 2006.  The best finish for McMurray piloting the IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford Fusion came at Dover International Speedway on June 4, 2006, where he posted a season-high finish of second place.

"Everyone at IRWIN Industrial Tools is extremely excited about the 2007 season and continuing our strong support for Jamie McMurray and the entire No. 26 Roush Racing team," said Eric Pinkham, Director of Motorsports, Newell-Rubbermaid.  "We look forward to a fresh start and are already eager to get started."

During the 2006 season, McMurray ran 18 races in the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion.  McMurray's best finish in the Crown Royal paint scheme came at Watkins Glen, where he posted a third-place finish.

"We are excited to have Jamie McMurray behind the wheel of the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion for a second year," said Jim Lorenz, Senior Brand Manager, Crown Royal. "With a new paint scheme, more primary races than ever and exciting programming that will bring more attention to the brand's 'Be A Champion. Drink Responsibly.' message, Crown Royal is primed for an exciting 2007 season."

Below is the lineup for the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season:

2/18 - Daytona - Crown Royal
2/25 - California - Crown Royal
3/11 - Las Vegas - Crown Royal
3/18 - Atlanta - IRWIN Industrial Tools
3/25 - Bristol - Crown Royal
4/1 - Martinsville - IRWIN Industrial Tools
4/15 - Texas - Crown Royal
4/21 - Phoenix - Crown Royal
4/29 - Talladega - Crown Royal
5/5 - Richmond - Crown Royal
5/12 - Darlington - Crown Royal
5/19 - All-Star - Crown Royal
5/27 - Charlotte - IRWIN Industrial Tools
6/3 - Dover - Crown Royal
6/10 - Pocono - Crown Royal
6/17 - Michigan - Crown Royal
6/24 - Sonoma - Crown Royal
7/1 - New Hampshire - IRWIN Industrial Tools
7/7 - Daytona - IRWIN Industrial Tools
7/15 - Chicago - Crown Royal
7/29 - Indianapolis - Crown Royal
8/5 - Pocono - Crown Royal
8/12 - Watkins Glen - Crown Royal
8/19 - Michigan - IRWIN Industrial Tools
8/25 - Bristol - IRWIN Industrial Tools
9/2 - California - Crown Royal
9/8 - Richmond - Crown Royal
9/16 - New Hampshire - Crown Royal
9/23 - Dover - IRWIN Industrial Tools
9/30 - Kansas - Crown Royal
10/7 - Talladega - IRWIN Industrial Tools
10/13 - Charlotte - Crown Royal
10/21 - Martinsville - Crown Royal
10/28 - Atlanta - Crown Royal
11/3 - Texas - Crown Royal
11/11 - Phoenix - IRWIN Industrial Tools
11/18 - Homestead - Crown Royal

Todt vows to 'protect' Ferrari's Kimi Todt vows to 'protect' Ferrari's Kimi(GMM)  Ferrari boss Jean Todt has vowed to 'protect' Kimi Raikkonen when the Finn arrives to replace Michael Schumacher in 2007.

The Italian team's principal said in Maranello this week that he is looking forward to a long term relationship with the Finn, despite the fact that Raikkonen's immediate tenure is for three years only.

Asked by a journalist for the British newspaper The Times whether he thought the hard-partying 27-year-old will fill Schumacher's boots successfully, Todt said: "I don't like to talk too much.  I think the facts are more important.

"People who work at Ferrari have stayed for ten years, so I really hope that Kimi will stay for the next ten years at Ferrari.

"I have a very good feeling with Kimi.  My responsibility, our responsibility, will be to allow him to work as best he can and to protect him."

Todt denied that Raikkonen will automatically enjoy 'number one' status, amid teammate Felipe Massa's insistence that he is not going to play a subordinate role at Ferrari.

The Frenchman said: "Felipe is going to drive for Ferrari, Kimi is going to drive for Ferrari -- there never has been a number one or number two.

"Time will tell who has the best chance to compete for Ferrari for the championship."

Doubleheaders prove to be popular Doubleheaders prove to be popularWhen the Indy Pro Series introduced two doubleheader race weekends in 2006, the intent was to increase the amount of racing while keeping the costs in check. The series also wanted to ensure the competitiveness of both races.
Mission accomplished.

Following successful doubleheader events at St. Petersburg, Fla., and Infineon Raceway in 2006, the Indy Pro Series will add two additional doubleheader events in 2007 - at Watkins Glen International and on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in support of the United States Grand Prix.

"We were very pleased with the success of the doubleheaders in 2006," Indy Pro Series executive director Roger Bailey said. "With track time at a premium, this allows us to maximize our on-track time while reducing costs." The result is a series-record 16 races scheduled for 2007 - conducted during 12 event weekends. zzzz

"The addition of the doubleheaders and the tripling of the prize money have both been tremendous changes," said Brian Stewart, whose team has won the past two entrant championships. "Once you get to a racetrack, the costs only go up a bit to run a second race."

The secondary challenge to hosting a doubleheader race weekend is maintaining the integrity of the competition.

Without two qualifying sessions, the question became how to grid the second race. While other series use the finishing order from the first race, Indy Pro Series officials opted to invert the top six finishers.
"The winner of the first race has already secured 50 championship points," Bailey said. "To put them at the front of the grid in the second race would give them a very good chance of sweeping the weekend and perhaps gain an unfair advantage in the championship. We wanted to balance the competition and make it a bit more difficult for someone to dominate an entire weekend."

The policy led to exciting racing.

"For spectators, the entertainment level of both of our second races last year was great," driver Alex Lloyd said. "In race two, people can do stuff. There's a chance to make some moves.

"I really liked the way the Indy Pro Series used the reverse grid. It's 50/50 for a driver. If you're the quickest car out there, the second race is going to be much harder. It's a bit of a lottery in the second race. The pole sitter for the second race may not be the quickest guy out there. If you start sixth, it's tougher and there are more chances for you to crash."

Lloyd and Raphael Matos had no problem with the reverse grid in 2006. Matos swept the series' first doubleheader on the streets of St. Petersburg. After winning the pole for the first race, Matos led the first 25 laps and 35 laps overall to win the first race. He started sixth in race two, but passed for the lead for good on Lap 8.

At Infineon, Lloyd finished second in the weekend's first race, quicker in his mind than race winner Wade Cunningham, but unable to make a pass in the evenly matched cars.

In race two, however, Lloyd started fifth - one position ahead of Cunningham. The Englishman garnered his second victory of the season, moving past the four cars ahead of him and into first place on Lap 9.

He's looking forward to more doubleheaders in 2007 when he drives the No. 7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry.
"Increasing the number of doubleheaders is great," Lloyd said. "With one or two, there's a better chance that luck will be against you. The more races like this, the better chance to gain the good luck or for it to even out."

Rossi: Puny Pedrosa offers biggest threat Rossi: Puny Pedrosa offers biggest threatValentino Rossi (right) believes Dani Pedrosa will be the biggest threat to him retaining his crown as the king of MotoGP - not Nicky Hayden. In October Hayden stopped Rossi's run of five straight world titles in motorcycling's premier series in dramatic circumstances.

But he singled out the American's youthful Honda team-mate as the man to watch in 2007 after the Spaniard ran Rossi closest in Jerez testing last week.

"Next year Pedrosa is going to be very strong because he has more experience," Rossi told MCN.

"He will be one of the best and strongest rivals, but we already knew this. That bike is very good for him and for his size.

"He will be very difficult to beat and he will be dangerous next year."

Industry News
Mercedes sales rise Mercedes sales riseDaimlerChrysler AG said Wednesday that unit sales rose 5.3 percent in November at its Mercedes Car Group, which includes the Mercedes-Benz and Smart brands, on higher demand in the United States and Germany.  The German-American automaker said it sold 110,800 Mercedes group cars in November compared with 105,200 in November 2005.  Of those, 101,900 were Mercedes cars, compared to 93,500 last year, driven by demand worldwide for its E-Class and S-Class models.
Track News
Talladega expands RV area Talladega expands RV areaTalladega Superspeedway officials announced today that it is making room for even more race fans in its thousands of acres of overnight parking areas, including some areas that are free of charge for ticket holders.

“When it comes to offering amenities to our guests, we firmly believe you can’t have too much of a good thing, and we’ve been told time and time again that our abundance of affordable overnight parking is one of the best things we offer,” said Talladega Superspeedway Vice President and General Manager Rick Humphrey. “These expansions and improvements are just another way to improve the weekend for those who loyally return each year as well as to make room for new guests.”

The areas that have expanded include Family Parks B, C and D, which are located outside of the track on the southern end, near turn two. Spaces in these parks require reservations, and are available for purchase at $80 per space. zzzz

Talladega Superspeedway management has also increased capacity of its North Park, which is located across Speedway Boulevard outside the track’s northern end, closest to turn three. Spaces are free to guests with race tickets in North Park, and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Another area developed for expansion is a new, free South Park, located outside the track to the south of the existing Free Family Park. It will be opened as needed for race attendees.

“Our goal in doing this is that we want all race fans to know that if they want to come and see the most exciting racing on the NASCAR circuit, we not only have a seat for you in the grandstands, but we also want you to stay with us and truly experience the entire weekend the way it should be experienced,” Humphrey said.

Another change to overnight parking at Talladega Superspeedway is that the parks formerly known as Reserved Family Parks I & II located outside of turn one have been renamed Winner’s Walk I & II Reserved Family Parks. Starting this spring, all of Talladega Superspeedway’s overnight parks outside the track will open on Tuesday of race week at 8 a.m.

Talladega Superspeedway will host its first races of the 2007 NASCAR season during the Aaron’s Dream Weekend, featuring the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Busch Series and Aaron’s 499 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races, set for April 27-29. Friday, April 27 will feature NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series practice and The Birmingham News Qualifying for the NASCAR Busch Series. Saturday, April 28 will feature The Birmingham News Qualifying for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Busch Series race. Then on Sunday, April 29, the greatest drivers in the world will compete in the Aaron’s 499 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race. Kids age 11 and younger are admitted free of charge when accompanied by a ticketed adult on Friday and Saturday.

With the holiday season upon us, don’t forget about Talladega Superspeedway gift certificates when shopping for that perfect item for friends and family! Talladega Superspeedway gift certificates are available in a variety of denominations , do not expire, and may be used toward the purchase of tickets, infield admission passes and overnight parking spots for any Talladega Superspeedway events on sale. Gift certificates and tickets are available by calling 1-877-Go2-DEGA (462-3342) Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CDT, or by logging onto (www.racetickets.com). For our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). You may also purchase tickets in person at Talladega Superspeedway’s Ticket Office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT, Monday-Friday.

Another Ferrari Enzo crash victim Another Ferrari Enzo crash victimUPDATE #2 Married Russian TV star Tina Kandelaki on Tuesday defended her squeaky clean image after French police said she was the mystery woman with a Russian billionaire when he crashed his sports car on the Riviera.

A police source in Nice said 31-year-old Kandelaki was treated for minor injuries after businessman Suleiman Kerimov's black Ferrari slammed into a tree. But the presenter said she was at home all the time with her husband and children.

As Kerimov fought in a Marseille hospital to recover from terrible burns he suffered in the crash, scandal enveloped Kandelaki, wife of a wealthy entrepreneur and regularly billed as one of Russia's most glamorous but respectable public faces. The racy tale of wealth and possible indiscretion drove Russia's fast-growing tabloid press into a frenzy. "The billionaire burned, trying to save the presenter Tina Kandelaki," a headline in Your Day newspaper ran. More at Reuters

11/27/06 Below are some photos from the crash sent to us by a reader.

11/27/06 French police are investigating a car crash involving a billionaire Russian parliamentarian who was critically injured when his Ferrari slammed into a tree on the Mediterranean seafront in Nice.
Suleyman Kerimov, 40, a far rightwing member of the State Duma from Dagestan, was said by police to have lost control of the car as he sped on Saturday in rain along the Promenade des Anglais, the Riviera’s most celebrated thoroughfare.

The Ferrari Enzo broke in two on impact and burst into flames. An airport fire engine extinguished the blaze after Mr. Kerimov extracted himself from the wreckage and rolled in the grass. He was flown by helicopter to hospital in Marseilles where he was today in an induced coma on a respirator. Doctors said that he had suffered burns to 70 percent of his body and they would not be able to assess his prospects of survival for 48 hours.

Mr. Kerimov, who is listed by Forbes magazine as the 72nd richest man in the world, was accompanied in the car by Tina Kandelaki, 31, a star personality on Russia’s STS television channel. Ms Kandelaki, who features on men’s magazine covers in her underwear, suffered slight burns and flew back to Moscow on Sunday.

Witnesses told police that the black 12-cylinder Ferrari, which has a top speed of 350 kph (217 mph), had been zig-zagging fast between lines of afternoon traffic. The limit on the busy Promenade is 50 kph (31mph). More at London Times

Melandri undergoes surgery Melandri undergoes surgeryHonda MotoGP rider Marco Melandri has been told he must stay silent for a week after undergoing an operation on his vocal chords.  The 24-year-old, who has only just had surgery on his left arm, had a polyp removed at a hospital in Milan.
Ho-Pin Tung to test for A1GP Ho-Pin Tung to test for A1GPDutch-Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung (24) will drive the Team China A1 car in Friday’s rookie test in Indonesia on the 8th of December 2006. The Formula 3 champion will drive two 25 minute sessions as an introduction to the World Cup of Motorsport. At the moment It's uncertain for the talented driver whether a successful test will result in competing in the forthcoming A1 races for the Chinese squad.

Ho-Pin Tung has won this year's German Formula 3 Championship in dominant fashion and hopes next year will bring him another step closer to his ultimate goal: become the first Chinese winner in Formula 1. For next year he is looking for a race seat in the Renault World Series or GP2. Ho-Pin Tung PR

[Editor's Note: This means that Ho-Pin Tung has been overlooked by Champ Car.]

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
F1 owners to repay $313m debt
Ferrari still in charge as testing resumes
Fisi, Pizzonia, unite in GP2
Schu fans to switch off F1 - Stuck
McLaren to ask for Alonso release this week
Hakkinen may test again - Whitmarsh
Ralf sampled Fuji in F1 racer
Dennis says McLaren nearly debt-free
Valencia wants a grand prix - mayoress
Father relieved at Schu's retirement
Red Bull talks leave Doornbos off track
Industry News
Toyota best at retaining customers Toyota best at retaining customersJapan's Toyota Motor Corp. leads the auto industry in retaining new vehicle buyers, according to a study released by JD Power and Associates on Wednesday.  The automaker's Toyota brand replaced the Lexus in the annual survey, which measures the percentage of new vehicle buyers and lessees who replace a vehicle with another from the same brand. The Toyota brand topped the survey with a 63.9 percent retention rate. Overall industry customer retention fell slightly to 47.9 percent from 49.6 percent in 2005.

"Declining customer loyalty results from considerable improvements in quality, combined with a plethora of choices for consumers," said Neal Oddes, director of product research and analysis at J.D. Power.

"In some instances, new models, such as those in the rapidly growing crossover segment, can have a significant impact on customer retention for a brand."

Rolex 24 Test Notebook – Day 2 Rolex 24 Test Notebook – Day 2
Grand-Am Unveils New Logo Family for 2007 Grand-Am Unveils New Logo Family for 2007As the last on-track activity of 2006 for the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve winds down at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Grand-Am President Roger Edmondson unveiled Wednesday a new logo family for the company heading into 2007.

“I am happy to announce that for the first time we have a family of logos that were designed in unison and fully complement each other,” Edmondson said.  “We certainly were not opposed to this in the past but circumstances never really allowed us to launch a complete collection of corporate logos until now.  The addition of KONI as the title sponsor of the new Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series was the first step in this process and we are also grateful to our friends at Rolex who were more than cooperative in allowing us to move forward with these new designs.” zzzz

The new corporate logos are designed to both simplify and connect the organization’s overall brand, image and its racing series.  The traditional “surfboard” logo has been modernized and features the more concise and popular “Grand-Am” branding.  At the same time, new and complementary logos for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve and the Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series have been introduced, each featuring the new Grand-Am logo.

In concert with the new logo introduction, Edmondson also announced that although Grand American Road Racing Association will remain the legal corporate name of the organization, going forward the company will be referred to simply as Grand-Am.

“We are best known as Grand-Am and that will be reinforced as our name going forward," Edmondson said.  "In an ever expanding and crowded marketplace, short and easy to remember monikers work best and our research has shown us that Grand-Am is our best known name and has the best chance to be popularized in the future."

All logos in the new family replace all existing applications and will be used commencing with the 2007 racing season.  A complete style guide and downloadable versions of the entire new logo family are now available at www.grand-am.com.

Grand-Am is the proper reference for the organization.  Although Grand American Road Racing Association remains the legal corporate name of the organization, Grand-Am is the new general use moniker.  In all usages, Grand-Am is hyphenated.  Grand American should no longer be used.

The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve is the proper and official name of the series and should be used in all first references.  Acceptable second references include the Grand-Am Rolex Series or the Rolex Series.

The Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series is the proper and official name of the series and should be used in all first references.  The acceptable second reference is the KONI Challenge.

Rockingham returns as Silverstone loses out Rockingham returns as Silverstone loses outRockingham returns to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship calendar in 2007 following confirmation that the track has been given the one remaining vacant date on the schedule.

"We are delighted to be able to return to Rockingham," series director Alan Gow said. "Its unique track layout, up-to-date facilities and terrific viewing areas for the spectators all proved a great hit with the drivers, teams, spectators and sponsors when we raced there in 2003.

"In fact, a great many of our fans have constantly been asking me to take the BTCC back to Rockingham, so this is also for them. I'm sure it will receive great support and prove to be warmly welcomed back on our schedule.  Rockingham's inclusion also means that the BTCC will continue to be in action in eight counties, ensuring that the championship remains as accessible as possible for the public in all four corners of the UK."

2007 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship calendar (provisional):

1 April Brands Hatch
22 April Rockingham
6 May Thruxton
3 June Croft
24 June Oulton Park
15 July Donington Park
29 July Snetterton
19 August Brands Hatch
2 September Knockhill
14 October Thruxton

Carpentier Shines in Rolex Test Days Carpentier Shines in Rolex Test DaysPatrick Carpentier had an impressive outing during the two-day Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series pre-season test sessions held Tuesday and Wednesday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida. Carpentier, who had previously tested the 3.701-kilometer (2.3-mile), 11-turn Homestead road course during his 2005 Indy Racing League season and also while he was at Champ Car, was happy with the results and with the performance of the SAMAX Motorsport Pontiac Riley.

Following Wednesday morning's third session, Carpentier led all 20 Daytona Prototypes with a best lap time of 1:14.090 (179.853 Km/h-111.756 mph). However, his reign on top of the time charts would not stand to the assaults of the drivers in the final session in which the Mecachrome-backed driver did not take part. Canadian Michael Valiante, who was also quickest on Tuesday, posted the best time of the two-day affair with a lap in 1:13.884 (180.035 Km/h-112.068 mph). Second fastest was Italian driver Max Angelelli (Pontiac Riley) with a time of 1:13.910, followed by the Ford Crawford driven by Jon Fogarty of Redbud, Oregon. SAMAX Motorsport finished fourth overall. zzzz

The Canadian driver, now living in Las Vegas, was credited with the second quickest lap on Tuesday with a time of 1:14.162 (179.677 Km/h-111.647 mph). Michael Valiante of Vancouver posted the quickest lap, edging Carpentier by only 11 hundredths of second. Third place after the first day went to Jon Fogarty. The second series-sanctioned pre-season test session drew 35 cars, 20 of which were Daytona Prototypes.

 "This is a great team to drive for," said Carpentier who joined the SAMAX Team earlier this fall. "They are very professional in their approach to racing, and they come ready with a well prepared car. The car was great coming out of the trailer. We tested some components, but it did not change much as the car was already well balanced. It's quite a treat compared to my last season in IRL where the package was not competitive."

The final pre-season test will be held at Daytona Beach, Florida January 4 - 6, 2007. The 14-race 2007 season begins January 27 with the 53rd running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series will make its first appearance Friday August 3 at Montreal's Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve for a 400-kilometer race. The Montreal race weekend will feature on Saturday the first-ever NASCAR Busch Series race held in Canada. Patrick Carpentier PR

Andy Lally Continues To Impress Andy Lally Continues To ImpressCONCORD, North Carolina - - “He’s going to be good.” Those words expressed from the voice of respected NASCAR and ARCA RE/MAX Series driver Andy Belmont as road racing ace Andy Lally completed a second stock car test this past Sunday (December 3) at Lowes Motor Speedway.

Last month, Lally, a native of Georgia took his shot behind the wheel of a 3400-pound stock car testing the waters should his career ever take a turn towards the largest spectator sport in the United States.  His times were strong the first time out, but as the ole’ saying goes “second is the best.” zzzz

During the course of the eight-hour session, Lally performed brilliantly. His lap times continued to improve from start to finishing, wowing everyone around the 29-year old.

"This was one of the most exciting things I have ever done in my life. I knew I would love this and Sunday only added to the drive for me to find a way to race here,” said the jubilant Lally.

Before taking to the intimidating 1.5-mile Lowes Motor Speedway, Lally attend Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track Racing, completing with ease the “Classic Oval Course” setting him up for his second-go-around behind the wheel of Belmont’s familiar No. 1 Ford.

"I am very impressed,” stated Belmont, a long-time owner and driver in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. Andy was out there on 50 lap Michigan (Hoosier) tires making extremely fast laps. He hit the marks perfect just about every lap. The feed back was incredible and we were able to make the right changes to get him comfortable. This kid is the real deal. Someone, whomever that is, who gets to pick this kid up will no doubt be successful.”

Longtime Fast Track Racing (FTR) instructor Sheldon Holman kept a close eye on the rookie throughout the day. “I believe Mr. Lally is very talented,” he said. “He was incredibly smooth and he did everything that was asked of him. He was right on the money. I was impressed.”

For Lally, his overview of the team was professional.

"Andy Belmont's team was great in sorting the car out today, we made six or seven changes in the set up and we just kept getting faster,” he said. “Andy (Belmont) was great with the tips he would give me to help me get comfortable and it gave me the confidence to carry the car faster and faster into turns one and three.”

“The times we ran today exceeded what I thought we would do and the best thing is that there is much more left for sure.”  We approached the test conservatively and set a goal of just getting through the day without putting a scratch on the car but we did much more than that,” explained Lally, the only three-time Rolex Grand Am Champion.

When asked about a possible tenure in the ARCA RE/MAX Series or stock cars, Lally was optimistic.

“Anything is possible but there is nothing on the horizon at the moment. I certainly would love an opportunity to do some stock car races in 2007, either on road courses or ovals or preferably both we’ll see,” Lally noted.

Andy Lally soared into his new venue with a successful and impressive resume to his credit. In addition to his Rolex Grand Am Championships, Lally has experience In the 24 Hours of Le Mans, SPEED World Challenge Series, Barber Dodge Pro Series and USF2000 Series. Lally ends his 2006 season on the heels of winning six Grand Am events this year."

Penske Racing Names Nelson Crew Chief Penske Racing Names Nelson Crew ChiefMike Nelson, a race engineer for Penske Racing since 2000, has been named crew chief of the Alltel Dodge team that competes in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

Nelson, who served as the team's interim crew chief for the 2006 season's final two races, assumes his role immediately.

"I am excited and humbled by the opportunity that Penske Racing has provided me and I am looking forward to representing the team when testing begins in Daytona," Nelson said. zzzz

Nelson, 33, joined Penske Racing in 1998 as a data acquisition engineer. He attended Ryan Newman's first test with the team in April 2000 and was offered the opportunity to be the team's first race engineer. Nelson has worked side-by-side with previous crew chief Matt Borland and the Alltel team ever since. 

"Matt has been a big part of our success over the years and we wish him the best in his future endeavors,” said Tim Cindric, President, Penske Performance. “Mike has big shoes to fill, but Roger (Penske) has always been a big believer in promoting from within and Mike is another example of someone that has worked his way up through our organization, He understands the challenge ahead and we are counting on him to take us to the next level.”

Newman noted that due to Nelson's tenure with the team, the two men have a strong working relationship.

"I am very pleased to have Mike serving as my crew chief," Newman said. "We have worked together for many years, and with Mike leading the team the last two races of 2006, we got an early start on 2007."

Rahal fast in Texas Rahal fast in TexasAccording to this SPEEDTV article, Graham Rahal toured the 2.38-mile road course in 1:10.37 in a Newman/Haas’ Lola-Cosworth Wednesday afternoon at Mercedes Sugarland Raceway.  The old mark of 1:11.29 was turned in last winter by former F1 driver Antonio Pizzonia for Rocketsports.  A1GP champ Alex Premat of France turned the quickest lap of 1:11.860 for Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing.

“I just spoke with him on the phone and he’s happy with his progress,” said Bobby Rahal. “He seems to be picking things up nicely and he also had a good test at Homestead.”

Hornish earns AARWBA honor Hornish earns AARWBA honorFor the past two years, the IndyCar Series champion has walked away with the Jerry Titus Award from the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. Reigning IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion Sam Hornish Jr. is a strong contender to make it three in a row.

Hornish, the top vote-getter in the open-wheel category, was named to the organization's All-America Auto Racing first team. He joins NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson and Todd Bodine, NHRA's John Force and Tony Schumacher, and ARCA's Frank Kimmel as drivers eligible for the Titus Award.

The award, given in remembrance of the late racer/journalist, signifies the top vote-getter on the All-America team regardless of category, and is announced at the AARWBA banquet Jan. 13 at the Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis.

Hornish won four races, including the 90th Indianapolis 500 with a dramatic frontstretch pass of rookie Marco Andretti that gave Roger Penske a 14th victory in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Hornish also was nominated for Autosport's International Driver of the Year award and is among the finalists for the SPEED Performer of the Year award.

Dan Wheldon, who came within a few laps of successfully defending his IndyCar Series title, was named to the second team. Hornish's Team Penske teammate, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, was an honorable mention selection.

Irish driver eyes Atlantic ride Irish driver eyes Atlantic rideIrish driver, Patrick “Paddy” Hogan completed a whirlwind trip to the U.S. last week, testing for Forsythe then Brooks Associates Racing.  The former Formula Renault UK Champion adapted well to the Atlantics, showing well at the Button Willow test.

Five teams with eight cars visited Button Willow last week, giving their drivers, both signed and potential, a feel for the Atlantic cars and the new Cooper tires. 

“Paddy did a really good job at Button Willow, running very competitively both days.  He’ll be a great addition to the Atlantic series for 2007 and should be one of the fastest rookies.”  said John Brooks, team owner of Brooks Associates Racing.  “We’ve been talking to a number of drivers for the 2007 seat.  It’s encouraging to see so much interest in the series and from so many rookies from throughout the world.  ChampCar continues to put forth a competitive schedule and the drivers’ interest will make the 2007 season another exciting one.”  continued John.

Brooks Associates Racing continues to talk to drivers about opportunities for 2007 and qualified drivers are encouraged to email John at jbrooksbar@cox.net.

Indy 500 winner to compete Indy 500 winner to competeSome of the top names in motorsports will be at the Orange County Convention Center competing in the PRI All-Star Kart Race, as part of the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show. Although admission to the trade show is limited to only the motorsports industry, the All-Star Kart Race is open to public and free of charge.

The first-ever race will be held in the parking lot of the convention center's North/South Building, where a 12-turn sweeping and twisting purpose-built track will showcase this exciting wheel-to-wheel racing.
Some of the competitors in the race include:

2004 Indy 500 Winner Buddy Rice
2006 Indy 500 Runner-Up Marco Andretti
IndyCar Standouts Tomas Scheckter and Bryan Herta
NHRA Funny Car Star Ron Capps
NHRA Top Fuel Star Larry Dixon
Porsche Factory Driver Patrick Long
Sun Trust Racing's Wayne Taylor
Finlay Motorsports' Memo Gidley zzzz

Thursday, December 14, 2006
7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Orange County Convention Center
Parking lot adjacent to the North/South Building, accessible from International Drive or Universal Blvd.
Open to the public and free of charge
Additional information on the PRI Show and All-Star Kart Race is available online at www.performanceracing.com.

Danica officially a Go Daddy girl Danica officially a Go Daddy girlUPDATE This Arizona Republic article talks about how Go Daddy is trying to figure out how to work Danica Patrick into their ads, possibly even their Super Bowl ads. 

"Will Danica be in it? Maybe," Parsons said. "She's definitely Go Daddy material. I haven't decided on which concept we'll use yet. We may use a concept with Danica, with Candice (Michelle, the current 'Go Daddy Girl) with both of them or with neither of them."

The irony of this is that their Super Bowl ads always feature very buxom woman and unfortunately Danica, though cute and attractive, does not fit that mold. 

In a recent interview, Patrick said she turned down magazine shoots with Playboy and Maxim because she wanted to "go with the good, go with the wholesome."

So industry observers say it's curious the racing phenom would align herself with Go Daddy, who is sure to exploit her sexually as all their ads do.

12/05/06 SCOTTSDALE, AZ - GoDaddy.com®, known for its racy commercials and Internet dominance, introduced its new spokesperson Danica Patrick today at Phoenix International Raceway.  Go Daddy® also announced its Super Bowl® advertising plans at today's news conference.

"I've been a Go Daddy customer for a while and I'm thrilled to join the team.  It'll be fun to be in a Go Daddy commercial and be a part of Go Daddy's innovative marketing campaigns," said Patrick.

"Go Daddy will definitely have an ad, maybe two, in the 2007 Super Bowl!  It's the all-time top-rated television event in broadcast history and we have every intention of advertising in the game - again," said Bob Parsons, CEO and founder of GoDaddy.com, the world's leading Internet domain name registrar. zzzz

Thirty-seconds of Super Bowl commercial time goes for close to $3 million during the February 4th broadcast.  Parsons has been using his blog, www.BobParsons.com, to collect ideas for this year's ad.  He says he will use Go Daddy Productions and the Shine Advertising Company to produce the pricy spot.

Go Daddy Productions created last year's commercial, which drew controversy after network officials refused to approve the first thirteen submissions.  The Shine Advertising Company is based in Madison, Wisconsin and works with major brands, such as Harley-Davidson®.  They have already created several different "GoDaddy-esque" concepts.

"Will Danica be in it? Maybe.  She's definitely Go Daddy material. I haven't decided on which concept we'll use yet, but you can bet it will be GoDaddy-esque - fun, edgy and slightly inappropriate," Parsons told news crews at today's event.

Go Daddy is sponsoring Andretti Green Racing and IndyCar® auto racing star Danica Patrick next season.  Parsons was in Victory Lane today with Patrick to officially welcome her to Go Daddy and show off her 2007 Team Motorola IndyCar during a break from a Go Daddy photo shoot.

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.

Johnson Among Candidates For Athlete Of The Year Johnson Among Candidates For Athlete Of The YearDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The acknowledgments continue for 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet), who was honored during last week’s annual Champion’s Week festivities in New York City.

Johnson, who drives for Hendrick Motorsports, is among the candidates listed for the 2006 United States Sports Academy Athlete of the Year presented by USATODAY.com and MSNBC.com.

The ballot for male athletes includes South Korean speed skater Hyun-Soo Ahn, Ethiopian runner Kenenisa Bekele, Italian soccer star Fabio Cannavaro, Swiss tennis player Roger Federer, Johnson, golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, swimming star Michael Phelps, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Albert Pujols, Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith and Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young.

Voting, done online, began Dec. 1 and ends Dec. 25. An overall winner will be selected, along with male and female athletes of the year. Federer was the 2005 overall winner.

Sports fans worldwide can vote online at http://www.usatoday.com/sports/front.htm, http://athleteoftheyear.msnbc.com or http://www.ussa.edu/aoy/index.asp.

Q and A with Spyker’s James Key Q and A with Spyker’s James KeyQ. Firstly, how would you sum up the 2006 season?

James Key - Spyker F1 technical director: "Mixed, I suppose! Obviously it was disappointing not to score a point, because I think we deserved one by the end of the season. But it was very competitive, the V8s were very reliable, and the rate of development for everyone was very high.

I guess it's indicative of how competitive the grid is now. But equally it was positive in that we did make quite a bit of progress during the season, considering where we started from and where we were in 2005. In terms of turning things around and getting us started on an upward slope, I think it was good. And it was all home grown stuff, as we did it ourselves. It was very positive in that respect."

Q. Was a rebuilding process still going on?

JK: "We called 2005 a transitional period between Jordan and Midland, which it was, and there was a lot of rebuilding during that time in preparation for the M16. And that rebuilding really went on into '06, so that transitional period actually spread further.

It was the first proper new car we'd had out for a couple of seasons, and much of it was designed by people new to the team, so it was a building year. But the fact that we were able to make the steps that we did was a very good effort from all concerned." zzzz

Q. The occasions when you got a car into the last 16 in qualifying must have been highlights. Do you agree?

JK: "Yes. The first really competitive performance was in Monaco. There was the problem at the start of the race, but our lap times were strong, particularly in the race, and we just sat in a long queue of cars. That suggested that we were catching up. And then at Silverstone we got a car into the top 16, and really after that we expected to do it, and we did it fairly regularly.

So that was pretty good. What was frustrating was that our start performance wasn't the best, and we'd lose positions, which meant we didn't do our qualifying positions justice. Our race pace always tended to better than it appeared, but we lost places and we were sitting in a queue! That was frustrating."

Q. The team has new owners in Spyker, and new investment. How encouraged are you by developments?

JK: "It's good to have that stability. Spyker have made their intentions clear, and they want to succeed, which is what we want to do as well. They are very enthusiastic people. We've got a good long-term opportunity ahead of us, and we've got to treat it as long-term as well. They understand that we won't be able to flick a switch and qualify in the top five."

Q. You have more resources to put into the new car than this time last year. What difference does that make to the way you've approached the winter?

JK: "It's going to make a massive difference. Budgets are obviously improved, and we're better able to go through a system controlling how we plan things. So investment wise it has got better, and of course we've got the wind tunnel upgrade that will be completed in the early part of next year, and various other plans that require more investment."

Q. Are there things that you had to put on hold last year, and now you're in a position to pursue them?

JK: "The options have certainly opened up. We've still got to be careful about what we do, and make sure our priorities are right, but there are more options available that we can pursue. Again, we're thinking longer-term, and we are putting things in place now which will perhaps have an impact later on."

Q. How is the new structure working out, with Mike Gascoyne now on board?

JK: "Mike has been here for a month now, and it's been very good. We have a pretty good working relationship, and he's in a position where he can take a step back and take a long look at things, because he's fresh to the team. That works fine. I'm still doing the nuts and bolts work, and he has a kind of overview. It's obviously a different situation for him compared with Toyota, so he probably has to work in a slightly different way."

Q. Have you been relieved of some of the routine responsibilities that you had previously, such as administration and so on?

JK: "Yes. I had a lot of planning and paperwork to do - essential parts of the job, and being a small team, somebody's got to do it. I'm still in that situation, but I've got someone I can discuss it with now in technical terms, and that makes life easier. My desire is to get much more back to the technical side on a day-to-day basis, which is beginning to happen now.

And some of the very big decisions, which were on my shoulders, and I can now share. Mike can give a guiding hand, or make those decisions himself, as necessary. It certainly helps a lot from a personal point of view in that respect, but I'm still very, very busy!"

Q. Has it been interesting dealing with the new engine supplier?

JK: "It has been. We've been over to Maranello a few times for various meetings, and they've been very accommodating and very flexible. They understand that our time scale has been short because of the relatively late agreement, but they've understood that situation and been very supportive. They are a huge, championship-winning team, and I wasn't sure what to expect, but it's been very good."

Q. What can you tell us about the new car?

JK: "We're taking a reasonably conservative approach at the start of the year to allow ourselves to make bigger gains at a later date. We don't expect to go out there and make a massive step forward straight away.

Again, longer-term planning has come into play, with Spyker being on board and Mike being here. We're following some of the philosophies we set up with the M16, but we're improving them. And obviously we have a new engine installation, and we have to do all the cooling. So there will be quite a few visual changes."

Q. The other teams started testing this week. Are you a little bit envious of the fact that they are out there running?

JK: "We're not going to test before the launch of the new car, simply because the Ferrari engine installation is so different from the Toyota. An interim car would have had to be almost completely new, and doing that while designing the new car would have been quite tricky.

It would be nice to go out and test, but we're happy getting on with things in the factory and concentrating on the new car, so all our efforts are going in one direction. We know Bridgestone, and while the tires will be very different, it's not like we're coming from Michelin."

Q. Does the late start of the season take a bit of the pressure off?

JK: "I think that's what allows us to do things a bit later. You've potentially got tests in March, shakedowns and so on, so there's still plenty of time."

Q. Next year there is one tire supplier and an engine freeze. Do you think that will give you a better chance?

JK: "I think the tires will level the playing field, and there won't be so much variability there. It's going to make qualifying perhaps a little more representative of where people are, because before one or other of the suppliers might have a better tire for qualifying or the race.

Everyone will be on the same compounds now. And it's much the same with engines, especially with the 19,000rpm limit. Overall I think it's good for us." Spyker F1

SPEED and FOX to team for Rolex 24 SPEED and FOX to team for Rolex 24SPEED and FOX Sports will offer team coverage of the 45th running of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona on Jan. 27-28, adding Sports Car racing to the growing list of events benefiting from expanded audience reach in 2007. In addition to the Rolex 24, SPEED and FOX Sports also recently announced they will work together on coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for the next eight years and Formula One™ for the next three years.

“The Rolex 24 At Daytona is one of the coolest events in all of motor sports,” said Hunter Nickell, SPEED Executive VP & General Manager. “Over the last few years, it has really grown in stature, with more and more drivers from various global disciplines lining up to participate. To be able to team with our partners at FOX Sports and Grand American Road Racing for the first 90 minutes in 2007 will give even more fans a chance to tune in to a true endurance classic and give casual viewers an opportunity to get a taste of American Sports Car racing.” zzzz

Veteran motor sports broadcaster Bob Varsha will host the coverage, with former racers David Hobbs and Dorsey Schroeder providing analysis and Leigh Diffey handling the play-by-play. Brian Till, Calvin Fish, Chris Neville and Mike Johnson will be reporting from the pits.

"Coverage of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on SPEED and FOX literally gives us the best of both worlds and marks another growth milestone for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve," said Grand-Am President Roger Edmondson.  "The opening programming on FOX will expose Grand-Am to an unprecedented amount of viewers and will draw more potential fans to the Rolex Series as well as our anchor coverage on SPEED.  The SPEED telecasts of the Rolex 24 the last few years have been the best in the business and adding FOX to the mix will only add to already outstanding Grand-Am race programming."

In November, SPEED added 597,000 Households according to Nielsen Media Research, putting the network in 69,062,000 U.S. homes, with an additional five million in Canada. SPEED has added more than 4.5 million U.S. homes in the last year. The FOX universe estimate is more than 111 million U.S. homes.

In addition to live television coverage of the Rolex 24, SPEED will offer in-depth previews and on-going analysis, reports and highlights throughout the event on SPEEDtv.com.”

Staten Island ditched. So what? Staten Island ditched. So what?DAYTONA BEACH -- Staten Island scratched? So what?  Investors and Wall Street analysts appeared unfazed Tuesday by International Speedway Corp.'s decision to cancel its track construction project in that New York City borough.

Shares of the motorsports company rose 93 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $53.51 in moderate trading on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, and seven out of 11 analysts who monitor the company's stock continued to rate it a "buy" or a "strong buy."

"All in all, this pulling out of Staten Island is a good thing," said Kevin Tynan, an analyst at New York-based Argus Research Group.

"This has been dragging on for so long that it affected the stock. I think now the stock will take off," said Tynan, who rates the ISC a "strong buy" and forecasts the stock price rising to the $60 level.

Tynan speculated ISC will dust off an earlier plan to build a track in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in New Jersey. "The Meadowlands is event-oriented, it has all the other sports there, it has the transportation and no one's going to care about noise and traffic," he said.

A previous ISC bid for a Meadowlands parcel was rejected in 2002 in favor of the Xanadu project, a mammoth complex that will include a minor league baseball park, an indoor ski slope, a renovated basketball arena and various stores, offices and theaters. Construction of that project began earlier this year.

Tynan said there's plenty of room to put a NASCAR track somewhere else in the Meadowlands.  More at Daytona Beach Journal

[Editor's Note: The NASCAR mouthpieces can spin it positive any way they want, the fact of the matter is that NASCAR was run out of town in Denver, Portland, Washington/Seattle and is now run out of town in NY City.  Its TV ratings are dropping and it's bringing in Toyota which will hasten its demise (by driving away its hardcore redneck fans).]

Richert new crew chief for Vickers Richert new crew chief for VickersAt the ripe age of 20, Brian Vickers became the youngest-ever NASCAR title holder in winning the 2003 NASCAR Busch Series driver’s championship.  Likewise at 20, Doug Richert became the youngest crew chief to win NASCAR’s elite Cup Series championship back in 1980, the first of Dale Earnhardt’s seven titles.   As of today, Brian and Doug now have something else in common.  Together they’ll make up the driver-crew chief tandem for Team Red Bull’s No. 83 Camry entry in the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.


DOUG RICHERT – No. 83 Crew Chief “The Cup series has gotten so much more competitive these days.  Starting from scratch is no easy task, but once the team gets some chemistry and momentum going, we’ll hopefully be able to do some exciting things.” BRIAN VICKERS – No. 83 Driver “Doug has worked with practically a Who’s Who list of drivers in this sport and he knows what it takes to be consistently successful at this level. What an awesome feeling to know he’s in my garage now.”

Ferrari dominates in Jerez Ferrari dominates in JerezFerrari drivers Felipe Massa and Luca Badoer dominated the opening day of testing at an unusually damp Jerez in southern Spain today.

Although he completed just over 50 laps, Massa was still nearly a full second quicker than the first non-Ferrari on the timing sheets, with test-driver Badoer just over two tenths of a second behind the Brazilian. The pair concentrated on trying out new engine components and conducting set-up work on the 248 F1.

1. Felipe Massa Ferrari-Ferrari 1min 19.463secs 51 laps
2. Luca Badoer Ferrari-Ferrari 1min 19.702secs 83 laps
3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1min 20.238secs 80 laps
4. Christian Klien Honda-Honda 1min 20.404secs 94 laps
5. Franck Montagny Toyota-Toyota 1min 20.409secs 87 laps
6. Anthony Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1min 20.425secs 53 laps
7. Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1min 20.439secs 66 laps
8. James Rossiter Honda-Honda 1min 20.721secs 98 laps
9. Heikki Kovalainen Renault-Renault 1min 20.782secs 71 laps
10. Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1min 20.955secs 83 laps
11. Mark Webber Red Bull-Ferrari 1min 21.038secs 72 laps
12. Robert Kubica BMW-Sauber 1min 21.078secs 75 laps
13. Michael Ammermuller Red Bull-Ferrari 1min 21.142secs 76 laps
14. Giancarlo Fisichella Renault-Renault 1min 21.274secs 50 laps
15. Kohei Hirate Toyota-Toyota 1min 21.429secs 96 laps
16. Vitantonio Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth 1min 21.957secs 97 laps
17. Sebastien Vettel BMW-Sauber 1min 22.068secs 79 laps

Weather/Track conditions: Wet then drying.

all times unofficial – courtesy of McLaren Mercedes

NASCAR's ratings drop in its top markets NASCAR's ratings drop in its top marketsAlmost across the board NASCAR TV ratings in the top USA markets dropped in 2006. Notice how low their ratings are in the top two markets (NY and LA) and the huge drops in the #3, 4, 5, and 6 markets. This tells us that NASCAR is not popular in the biggest markets and is losing popularity in most of the other top 10 markets. Fans are getting tired of the managed racing and over saturation of media hype.

Market (rank) 2006 Rating 2005 Rating Percent Change 
Atlanta (9) 7.6/14 10.2/18 -25.5%
Dallas-Ft. Worth (6) 4.5/9 5.3/10 -15.1%
Washington, D.C. (8) 3.9/8 4.5/10 -13.3%
Boston (7) 3.6/8 3.4/7 5.9%
Philadelphia (4) 3.2/6 4.0/8 -20.0%
Chicago (3) 2.7/6 3.4/7 -20.6%
Houston (10) 2.6/5 2.9/6 -10.3%
Los Angeles (2) 2.1/5 2.3/6 -8.7%
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose (5) 2.0/6 2.4/6 -16.7%
New York (1) 1.9/4 1.8/4 5.6%

DirecTV announces special NASCAR deal DirecTV announces special NASCAR dealUPDATE EL SEGUNDO, Calif. & NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 6, 2006--Setting another new benchmark in TV sports programming, DIRECTV will produce a world's first for NASCAR fans by taking them deep inside America's fastest-growing spectator sport, allowing them to ride shotgun with their favorite drivers, through a new television service - NASCAR HOTPASS(TM) only on DIRECTV. DIRECTV and NASCAR signed a three-year deal to offer the service exclusively to DIRECTV customers.

Each week during the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR HOTPASS(TM), only on DIRECTV, will put race fans behind the wheel, in the pits and around the track with their favorite NASCAR drivers and teams, by offering five fully-produced channels allowing fans to follow five different drivers from the green to the checkered flag during every race. Each of the five dedicated driver channels will offer multiple camera angles, real-time statistics, in-car audio communication and a dedicated announcer team. The new HOTPASS service, combined with race day telecasts and nascar.com coverage, will give fans the most comprehensive and powerful NASCAR experience possible. zzzz

While the NASCAR viewing experience to date has focused predominately on the race and the ongoing battles taking place on the track between teams, the new DIRECTV service will bring to life the drama that exists within each racing team as they execute the decisions that make or break a race. Much like in football where the play-by-play decisions of coaches provide drama for the millions of "armchair" quarterbacks as they predict and analyze what the team will do next, such is the case with NASCAR HOTPASS only on DIRECTV(TM) as fans are privy to the dialogue and strategy involved in every critical move.

"NASCAR fans are the most passionate and committed fans in all sports," said David Hill, president, DIRECTV Entertainment. "Their depth of knowledge of what it takes to win is matched only by their commitment to their favorite driver. We're giving the fans of five drivers a race, the chance to live the entire race sitting next to their favorite driver. They'll hear driver conversations with the spotter and crew chief, they'll hear and experience every decision, and watch every move they make--right or wrong. For NASCAR fans, this is the ultimate thrill ride. Like the crew chief, they'll know where the driver stands in the field because both the network broadcast and the driver cameras will be on the same screen. It's a whole new way of looking at NASCAR."

"NASCAR is always breaking ground in presenting new ways for our fans to become fully immersed in the NASCAR experience. DIRECTV is a company consistently on the leading edge of sports television innovations, so this was a perfect fit," said Dick Glover, vice president of Broadcasting and New Media, NASCAR. "We're thrilled to have DIRECTV as the exclusive distributor of this exciting new programming service and are confident that together we will make NASCAR HOTPASS(TM) a must-have for every race fan. Research shows that products like this increase both the number of people watching a race and the time they spend viewing."

A team comprised of 70 professionals with sports' broadcast experience will bring DIRECTV's exclusive NASCAR HOTPASS(TM) to life each week and will offer fans the following features for the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Season:

Five dedicated driver channels, each channel dedicated to broadcasting one NASCAR driver throughout the race

Multiple screens on each driver channel devoted to the following:

  • Live national broadcast of the race
  • Drivers point-of-view camera looking out of the front windshield, with select telemetry readings
  • Additional camera angles including an overhead cam, pit box cam and corner cams
  • Live audio of the two-way communications between the driver, crew chief and spotter
  • Dedicated announcers for each driver channel
  • Real time statistics

DIRECTV customers can purchase NASCAR HOTPASS only on DIRECTV(TM) beginning Dec. 13. The full-season price of the package is $99, but customers can take advantage of an Early Bird offer by purchasing the package between Dec. 13 and Jan. 31, 2007 for $79. The exclusive service is also available on a pay-per-week basis for $29.99. More information is available on www.directv.com/hotpass.

In 1994, DIRECTV broke new ground in televised sports by partnering with the NFL to launch the exclusive NFL SUNDAY TICKET(TM) service. NFL SUNDAY TICKET(TM) and subsequent sports programming packages with Major League Baseball, the NHL, NBA and NCAA among other leagues have firmly established DIRECTV as the leader in specialized sports programming. DIRECTV has continued to utilize sports to drive the evolution of advanced television services, most recently with the exclusive 2006 US OPEN INTERACTIVE service and the NFL SUNDAY TICKET SUPERFAN service, an optional interactive tier for NFL SUNDAY TICKET customers that launched in 2005. It's fitting that this year DIRECTV continues its leadership in specialized and interactive sports programming bringing it to NASCAR, the number-two ranked sport in terms of national television ratings, trailing only the NFL.

DIRECTV is an official sponsor of NASCAR and an official sponsor of Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and the # 07 car.

12/06/06 DirecTV today will announce that its ’07 NASCAR Nextel Cup coverage will include five separate Hot Pass channels -- “each complete with its own announcers and cameras -- dedicated to individual drivers.”  The feed from the 19 cameras used will be available to regular TV coverage.  More to follow......
Piquet "I'm not ready yet" Piquet "I'm not ready yet"Nelson Piquet Jr. admits he is not ready for a full F1 ride yet.

"Once you are in Formula 1, people are judging you on your talent and the ability you have to do the job, nothing else," he insisted.

"From my point of view, I don't have any expectations apart from just learning my job, learning about the team and beginning to understand (the sport).

"Lots of people seem impatient to talk about racing, but that is still a long way off for me," he explained in an interview with formula1.com.

"Of course (my father) has been a big help and influence on me," he continued, "but the last few years he has not really been that involved, he could see I was working well with the team so didn't need to be so involved.

"He doesn't come to many races though and he doesn't get involved on the technical side."

"Obviously, my long-term ambition is to be racing in Formula 1, but I still have a big step to make before I am ready for that."

Earnhardt canned Earnhardt cannedKerry Earnhardt has been released from ThorSport Racing in 2007, the team announced this week. Earnhardt drove the No. 13 Chevrolet Silverado entry for ThorSport Racing throughout the 2006 Craftsman Truck Series season.

"I want to thank ThorSport Racing for the opportunity they've given me to drive the No. 13 Silverado in the Craftsman Truck Series this year," Earnhardt said. "I have truly enjoyed getting to know all the team members from ThorSport Racing. We had a young and aggressive group of rookies on the No. 13 team this year, including myself that accomplished many of the goals we set out at the beginning of the year."

Affordable marketing materials for Atlantic racers Affordable marketing materials for Atlantic racersManifest, a strategic marketing and creative services agency specializing in motorsports marketing serving clients such as Champ Car, the Grand Prix of Denver and RuSPORT, today announces the release of two new marketing packages aimed at the Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda and junior formula racers.
The first is specifically for Champ Car Atlantic racers and teams in the form of pre-produced marketing collateral materials to aid in the search for commercial partnerships.  The principal collateral consists of a 12-page book covering all the fundamental marketing aspects of the Series including background and history, 2007 schedule, and an overview of marketing opportunities with demographic and statistical information to support it.  The materials can then be semi-customized to add driver and team information. Visit manifestsites.com/atlantic to view samples.
The goal is to create premium, professional marketing materials similar to what top race teams use at a cost more in line with the Atlantic Series budgets. Starting at $2000, Atlantic Series entrants can have access to collateral materials that would be several times more expensive if they were to be unique one-off productions. zzzz
"By standardizing the design and content we are able to offer materials similar in quality to what we would do for bigger budget operations but at a more reasonable cost.  It's not the same as a truly customized piece, but it is very powerful nonetheless," said Manifest's Aaron Justus a former Atlantic racer in his own right.  "I wish something like this would have been available when I was racing."
The materials have received the thumbs-up from Atlantic Series Managing Director Vicki O'Connor.
"Manifest has produced some truly wonderful materials for the Champ Car Atlantic Series and we are encouraging every team and driver searching for sponsorship to contact Manifest for their marketing materials," said O'Connor.
The second offering is available to racers or teams of any level in the form of pre-built web sites.  Using the same philosophy of standardizing the framework and basic design with two options to choose from that can then be semi-customized, Manifest has been able to dramatically reduce the price of a high quality web site.  Included in the site is Content Management System that enables the site owner to update content as necessary in a foolproof system with no web design skills required. 
The sites come with all the fundamental web components such as an image gallery, news, about, schedules, results and more.  Additional components can be added as well.
Formula 2000 stalwarts Cape Motorsports were the first to purchase a new pre-built site. (capemotorsports.com)
"The Manifest pre-built site is just perfect for us and fits within a budget that is very reasonable for us.  There are others out there who are offering similar products but the Manifest site really looks the part of an expensive, big-time site," said Cape co-founder Nicholas Cape.
Manifest is a strategic marketing and creative services agency that specializes in motorsports.  Clients include Champ Car, RuSPORT, Lime Rock Park, SCCA, Grand Prix of Denver and A1GP Team USA among others. To learn more about Manifest and the any of these materials visit manifestgroup.com.
Nextel Cup Year in review Nextel Cup Year in review
• Top Performer of the Year

Jimmie Johnson – Johnson won the coveted NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship for the first time in his career after finishing in the top five in the standings all five of his years in the Cup Series.  Johnson had a series best Driver Rating of 101.9 enroute to posting five victories and 24 top 10 finishes during the season.  Johnson erased a 165-point deficit with seven races remaining in the Chase to claim the championship.

• Comeback Driver of the Year

Jeff Burton – After missing the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup the past two seasons, Burton rebounded to crack the top 10 and even lead the point standings for four straight weeks following his victory at Dover (9/24).  That was his first win in nearly five years.  Burton finished seventh in the standings, with one win, 20 top -10 and seven top- five finishes. zzzz

• Top Breakthrough Performance of the Year

Rookie David Gilliland turned in a breakthrough performance by winning his first NASCAR Busch Series race at Kentucky Speedway (June 17).  Gilliland parlayed the victory into landing a seat later in the summer in the No. 38 M&M’s Dodge at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series level for Robert Yates Racing and will be racing fulltime for that team in 2007.

• Top Team Owner of the Year

Richard Childress – After winning six NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championships with the late Dale Earnhardt, Childress’ teams had slumped over the past five years.  In 2006, Childress placed two drivers in the Chase – Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick – and Harvick dominated the NASCAR Busch Series enroute to winning his second series title.

• Top Races of the Year

Jimmie Johnson wins the Brickyard 400 and becomes only the second NASCAR driver to win both the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same year
Jeff Burton breaks a five-year winless drought with a victory at Dover
Jimmie Johnson passes Matt Kenseth on the last lap to win the UAW-Daimler-Chrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Kevin Harvick passes Kurt Busch in the grass to win at Watkins Glen

• Top Rookie of the Year

Denny Hamlin – Hamlin swept both races at Pocono and became the first rookie to make the Chase.  Hamlin finished third in the point standings – the second highest finish ever by a rookie in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship standings.

• Most Dominating Performance

Kevin Harvick – Harvick dominated the NASCAR Busch Series by winning nine races and clinched the series title with four races remaining.  His 824-point margin of victory over runner-up Carl Edwards was the largest in the 25-year history of the NASCAR Busch Series.  Harvick also chased history towards the season’s stretch run, as he attempted to become the first NASCAR driver to ever win both the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and NASCAR Busch Series in the same season.  Harvick finished fourth in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. NASCAR

SPEED to Broadcast A1GP SPEED to Broadcast A1GP
Action at Jerez! Action at Jerez!(GMM)  Testing kicked off at a chilly Jerez circuit on Wednesday morning, with the 'GPDA' understood to have shelved its threats of a boycott after an inspection of safety improvements.

The Cologne based team's new test driver Franck Montagny strolled the pitlane in plain black overalls after receiving a late call to test for Toyota.

Red Bull's Michael Ammermuller was also spotted in the paddock and in action on the southern Spanish tarmac, as the German hit the headlines with news of his GP2 contract for 2007.

He will race for Nicolas Todt's 'ART' team.

Another notable face at Jerez - alongside regular runners for Ferrari, BMW-Sauber, Toro Rosso, McLaren and Renault - was F3 driver and Japanese debutant Kohei Hirate, getting his first run for Toyota.

Williams' Nico Rosberg is also back in action, and he told the news agency Sport-Informations-Dienst that he thought the switch to Toyota would not be a silver bullet for the beleaguered team.

"It will surely be a good engine, and reliable, but I do not believe that it is a huge jump over the Cosworth.

"However, we had to look elsewhere."

Fans shocked by A1GP prices Fans shocked by A1GP pricesComplaints have been pouring in to motoring.co.za's email inbox since the announcement of ticket prices for the Durban round of the A1GP series in February 2007 – many of which have doubled since the previous event in January 2006.

The general admission price for the Friday and Saturday practice sessions has gone up from R35 to R100 and admission to the unreserved picnic area for Sunday's races has been increased from R85 to R160.

Admission to the platinum grandstand for Saturday's qualifying sessions will cost R350 (R260 last time) and a platinum seat for Sunday's races will set you back R850 compared to the previous R515. Admission the unreserved area on race day has been increased from R85 to R160. zzzz

Entry to the silver stands on race day has been increased from R230 to R450.

But the race fans facing the biggest increases are those confined to wheelchairs – entry to the disabled areas for qualifying on Saturday has gone up from R90 to R250 and for Sunday's races from R90 to R450 – five times as much!

Dana Cooper, CEO of Team South Africa in the A1GP series, told motoring.co.za that ticket prices had been increased to cover greatly increased costs incurred for an environmental impact study of the site – she quoted R250 000 for that alone – for better crowd control and to meet demands from a representative of disabled spectators.

She said the demands to cater for disabled people "were excessive" but included "better access ramps and toilet facilities, liquid soap and equal treatment"
Entry to the disabled area for Sunday's races has g0one up from R90 to R450.

"They have requirements that come at enormous costs," she added.

Cooper also blamed greater spending on crowd management, numbered seats, more grassed areas and ticket readers for the higher ticket prices and pointed out that the provision of multi-day tickets at large discounts not only offset the higher daily prices but could be shared provided only one person was present at the track at any given time.

"We have tried hard to provide a superior experience," she said before flying off to watch this weekend's races in Indonesia.

A weekend pass covering admission to the unreserved area on all three days will cost R220, a saving of R140 or 39 percent.

Three-day admission to the silver stand or "disabled" area is R550 and to the platinum stand R1000 – a saving of R400 or 28.5 percent. More at motoring.co.za

Kovalainen picks Raikkonen to win title Kovalainen picks Raikkonen to win titleRenault rookie Heikki Kovalainen is betting on Kimi Raikkonen, not Fernando Alonso, to win the 2007 F1 Drivers' Championship.

Although Alonso is the current holder of the title, having won it in 2005 and again in 2006, Kovalainen believes the Spaniard's move to McLaren could cost him a third successive Championship in 2007.

Instead, he says the honor will go to Raikkonen, who is in leaving McLaren and heading to Ferrari at the end of the year.

"Kimi is the biggest favorite," Kovalainen told Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat.

"Alonso is also strong but only if McLaren will get their car working properly. Massa can also be good."

Industry News
Despite incentives, Ford sales down Despite incentives, Ford sales downFord Motor Co. offered the biggest incentives of any major U.S. carmaker in November, but that failed to translate into better sales.

Now, the Dearborn automaker is ratcheting up discounts again in a bid to end the year on a high note. On Tuesday, Ford added $1,000 in year-end bonus cash on 12 more models, including the Mustang coupe and Explorer SUV.

Ford is now offering the bonus cash on 19 models Lincoln and Mercury models. Customers can use the bonus cash on top of existing rebates or interest-rate deals.

While Ford spent $4,231 on average to sell its cars and trucks in November -- a 50 percent increase from a year ago -- the month's sales were down 10.6 percent.

Ford ended November with a 93-day supply of unsold vehicles, compared to 90 days at General Motors Corp. and 76 days at DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group.

Johnson and Lowe’s team up for Rolex 24 Johnson and Lowe’s team up for Rolex 24Newly-crowned NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Champion Jimmy Johnson will compete in the 2007 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona with Riley-Matthews Motorsports.  Johnson, who will be bringing his Nextel Cup Series sponsor Lowe’s, will partner Rolex Series regulars Jim Matthews, Marc Goossens and open-wheel standout Ryan Hunter-Reay aboard the No. 91 Lowe’s Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype.  In addition, Johnson will also compete in the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona with the team.

"This is going to be a lot of fun," Johnson said. "I wanted to do this deal for several reasons. First I want to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the experience will help me in road course racing and the Rolex Series is just a fun place to race. Lowe's has been such a great sponsor in NASCAR that it's pretty cool that I can go sports car racing with them." zzzz

"One of the coolest things I have ever done in my career is watching the sun come up over the Daytona Speedway at daybreak from behind the wheel of a prototype. That was such a beautiful sight and such a peaceful, cool feeling. I'm going to make sure I am in the car when the sun comes up this year."

"Lowe's is proud to have Jimmie back behind the wheel of a Lowe's car," said Bob Gfeller, Lowe's senior vice president of marketing and advertising. "Jimmie's fans in NASCAR and sports car fans all across the world are going to pay close attention to the Daytona 24, and we hope when it is over Jimmie and Riley-Matthews can add another trophy to their already crowded trophy cases."

"This has to be my best shot ever to win the Rolex 24, coming in with Jimmie, Marc, Ryan and teaming up with Bill and Bob Riley. I hope to win one of the famous Rolex Daytonas this year," said Jim Matthews.

"The Rolex 24 is a pretty special event to me and my family and the company," said owner Bill Riley. "We are very serious about winning and went out to find the best driver we could find. I think it is safe to say that when it comes to drivers we aren't going to do any better than Jimmie Johnson."

Indonesia beckons for A1GP Indonesia beckons for A1GP
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
McLaren toyed with lower-profile debut for Hamilton
Spyker play down test absence
F1 stars to contest another kart race
Schu enjoying F1 retirement
Clouds to greet teams at Jerez
Ralf targets maiden Toyota win in 2007
Button to keep lid on Honda hype
Bernie, Schu, on Swiss rich list
ART confirm di Grassi, Ammermuller ART confirm di Grassi, AmmermullerThe ART Grand Prix team have confirmed Lucas di Grassi and Michael Ammermuller will be their drivers for the 2007 season.

The duo will be in charge of defending both of ART's championship crowns.

"I am happy that Lucas and Michael join us for the coming season," said team boss Nicolas Todt.

"After two exceptional years, we are well aware the challenge to do as well as we did in 2005/06 will be very difficult, but I'm convinced drivers such as Lucas and Michael, thanks to their GP2 experience and their records, can help us to reach our goals."

Twenty-year-old Ammermuller will compete in the series for the second year running after finishing in 11th place with the Arden team in 2006, having scored one win and three podiums. zzzz

Brazilian di Grassi, 22, will also be in his second year of GP2. In 2006, he raced for the Durango team and finished in 17th position.

ART's Frederic Vasseur added: "Our aim for 2007 is to win both championships for the third time in a row and to achieve this end we wanted to run with two experienced drivers.

"Michael and Lucas have shown that they have  what  it  takes to handle the  pressure and to win races in a very competitive environment.

"We believe that both are potential championship winners. Many thanks to Red Bull and Renault for having made this 2007 project of ours possible."

GP2 launches 2007 car GP2 launches 2007 carThe GP2 series is today proud to unveil the final incarnation of its debut challenger. The 2007-spec car is the latest and last version of the original Dallara-designed single-seater with which the series was launched in 2005 and, following extensive testing by the GP2 series organization, will be raced by all 13 GP2 series teams during the forthcoming season.

The GP2 series promised from the outset that it would substantially revise its car for the start of each new season, and after the move from grooved to slick Bridgestone tires between 2005 and 2006, and a subsequent reduction in rear-end downforce to compensate for the increased grip the new tires created, an all-new aero kit has been designed for 2007. This new kit includes an engine-cover-mounted mid wing, new sidepod-mounted exhaust chimneys and “T wings” and an all new rear wing assembly. The principle behind the annual reinvention is to maintain the challenge of the series for teams and drivers alike, whilst ensuring that the racing spectacle remains enthralling for the series’ ever-expanding legion of fans watching at the tracks and at home on television. zzzz

The 2007-spec car is making its first public appearance today at the 2006 Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco, to coincide with the appearance of the series at this important industry event for the very first time. GP2 series organizer Bruno Michel will address the assembled delegates on Thursday December 7 on the topic of “the establishment and success of the formula one feeder series.”

GP2 Series Organizer, Bruno Michel:
“I am proud and happy to see the latest revision of the GP2 series car make its first public appearance here in Monaco at the Motor Sport Business Forum. We have been very happy with the way it has run in testing and I am sure that these latest updates will ensure an exciting new challenge faces our teams and drivers at the start of the 2007 season.

“The GP2 series continues to go from strength to strength. In just two years the GP2 series has become the best place for the finest up-and-coming young driver talents to catch the attention of the Formula One world. Indeed, in 2007 we will see four of our graduates line-up on the F1 grid, amongst them our first two champions Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, as Heikki Kovalainen makes his F1 race debut for the World Champion Renault F1 Team.

“As the first three-year cycle of the GP2 series enters its final season, we must pay tribute to our partners Renault and Bridgestone for the faith and commitment they have shown to the series and its ideals. Together, we have created a strong and viable feeder category for Formula One.”

Industry News
Bridgestone-Bandag deal Bridgestone-Bandag dealIf Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc.'s (BSAH) acquisition of Bandag Inc. goes through, it will give The Big Three -- Bridgestone, Michelin North America Inc. and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. -- a whopping 83.5% combined share of the United States truck tire retread market, according to Modern Tire Dealer research. Presently, Bandag alone enjoys 45% share of the U.S. retread market. Earlier today, Dec. 5, BSAH announced it intends to acquire the Muscatine, Iowa-based retread franchiser for $1.05 billion in cash. The deal is expected to go through near the end of the first quarter or the start of the second quarter in 2007.

Behind Bandag, Goodyear enjoys the second largest share of the U.S. truck tire retread market at 26.5%. Michelin's share of the market totals 12%. zzzz

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s Oliver Retreading Systems subsidiary enjoys 9% market share, while Marangoni Tread North America Inc.'s market share totals 1.5%. Miscellaneous systems make up the remaining 6%.

BSAH's acquisition of Bandag will give it more than 900 franchise locations throughout the world. The deal also includes Bandag's Tire Distribution Systems Inc. subsidiary, and majority ownership of truck quick lube chain Speedco Inc.

BSAH intends to acquire outstanding shares of each class of Bandag's stock for $50.75 per share

Southard Motorsports returns for '07 season Southard Motorsports returns for '07 seasonSouthard Motorsports will be returning to the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, combining the team's experience with some new additions for the 2007 season. Southard Motorsports is one of the only teams to have competed in every Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series event since 2004, and announced the signing of top drivers Shane Lewis and Randy Ruhlman to pilot its newly designed No. 3 Southard Motorsports/Preformed Line Products Daytona Prototype.

Shane Lewis, already a four-year veteran of the team, was a part of Southard Motorsports' two podium finishes last year. Randy Ruhlman, returns to the Daytona Prototypes following a successful career in the Trans-Am Series, bringing along long-time Daytona Prototype and Trans-Am sponsor Preformed Line Products of Mayfield Village, Ohio. zzzz

"We're very excited about our team's growth and prospects for the 2007 season," says team owner Steve Southard. "Last year, we had good success on track and we're building on that to accomplish even more. We're excited to have such a great driver lineup for this year, with Shane and Randy as our full time drivers for 2007. We're expanding all aspects of the team, to give our sponsors the best package possible. From the car and its performance, to our new driver line up, and a new updated marketing image, we'll continue to develop our program to stay one of the top teams in Grand American racing. We are very enthusiastic about the upcoming season!"

"I'm really looking forward to being back with the Southard team for a fourth season. They're like family to me," says veteran driver Shane Lewis. "We had some really strong runs last year, and now with Randy on the team for this year-it's going to be great. He and I have spent some time together and have already clicked. He comes with a lot of experience and success from his Trans-Am days, which will be a huge help. And he ran Daytona Prototypes last year, so all of that means--we should be pretty quick right out of the box. We have a lot of great things planned for this year, and one of them is standing on top of the podium."

"I'm pleased Southard Motorsports has given me the opportunity to run with them in 2007," says Ruhlman. "This will be a great experience for me to work with a new team, after having been at Derhaag Motorsports for so many years. Southard Motorsports did a great job last year. They've made the commitment to becoming a top team in the series and give their drivers every chance of winning. I'm also really excited to be teamed up with a driver of Shane's caliber. We both excel at keeping the car going for the long-term, and that's what it takes to succeed at these endurance races. Shane's proven that he knows the way to the front, and together, I think we'll be able to give the team what they are looking for in 2007."

The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve is the nation's hottest sports car series around, with a who's who of driving talent from former Formula 1 drivers to the top sedan and NASCAR talent. And last year, Southard Motorsports scored two podium finishes in the impressive field of Daytona Prototypes, a third at the infamous Long Beach Grand Prix and another third at Phoenix International Raceway.

Based in Powell, Ohio, Southard Motorsports reflects the goals and dedication of its owners, Steve and Martha Southard, both former drivers themselves in Historic and Professional racing. One of the only teams to have competed in every Grand American Rolex Sports Car event since 2004, they have shown the continuity and commitment that are hallmark to all winning programs. This experience was highlighted in last year's successful Daytona Prototype season, when the team captured two podium finishes, a third at the prestigious Long Beach Grand Prix and another third at Phoenix.

Shane Lewis is widely considered one of the sports leading development drivers and has competed in twenty-two 24 Hour Races--eight-times in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, three-times at Le Mans and twice at Nürburgring. Always a fan favorite, Lewis earned two Daytona Prototype podium finishes with Southard Motorsports in 2006, at the Long Beach Grand Prix and Phoenix. He has multiple wins in the Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series and was the 1998 Professional Sports Car Racing Rising Star award winner. Along with co-driving the Southard Motorsports Daytona Prototype, Lewis will compete for the Honda America Racing Team in the 2007 Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series.

Ruhlman has been a professional driver since 1990 and has extensive racing experience, predominantly in road racing in the Trans-Am Series, as well as in IMSA, ASA and the NASCAR short track series. Last year, Ruhlman drove the No. 40 Preformed Line Products Daytona Prototype for Derhaag Motorsports. Ruhlman was the top American driver in the 2005 Trans-Am Drivers' Championship, holding the points lead throughout the season and scoring a pair of wins--the season opener at the Long Beach Grand Prix and the Cleveland Grand Prix. Ruhlman was named the 2005 BBS "Most Improved Driver of the Year" and makes the record books as fourth in Top Ten finishes in Trans-Am history. Grand-Am

Grand-Am Homestead testing - Day 1 Grand-Am Homestead testing - Day 1
Montagny to test this week Montagny to test this weekNewly signed Toyota test driver Franck Montagny, was not initially scheduled to take part in the Cologne based squad’s off season testing program while they are still running with the hybrid TF106B package, however, they have now reconsidered this decision and decided that it would be very profitable for them to have the Frenchman take part after all.

"I will drive tomorrow and I am very happy about it! I did not expect this because the schedule had stated otherwise. I was in Barcelona last week, to meet with the team and see how they operate, to make a few connections etc, and the good news is that they contacted me the day after my visit to Catalunya to ask me to drive to Jerez,” he explained on his official website. “I am delighted for two reasons: on one hand to begin testing with Toyota, and on the other because it is important to drive with the setup of the new rules on track with everyone else."

industry news
Honda to add turbos and diesels to lineup Honda to add turbos and diesels to lineupWell, so much for Honda not producing a turbocharged 2.65L IndyCar engine because they don't sell passenger cars with turbos.  They do now.  And they are going to start making diesel engines too (maybe they finally realize that hybrids may not be the answer to everything).

Honda's Ridgeline, Pilot and Odyssey and Acura's MDX are candidates to get a clean V-6 diesel engine that Honda Motor Co. is developing, says CEO Takeo Fukui.

Fukui declined to specify which Honda or Acura vehicles will get a diesel engine. But he identified those four light trucks as "the Honda products that would need this kind of technology."

During an interview with Automotive News, Fukui also said:

Honda turbos are also possible. The Acura RDX SUV, which went on sale in August, is the first Honda or Acura vehicle in the United States that uses a turbocharger. But although Honda aims to differentiate Acura cars and trucks from Honda models, Fukui rejects the idea that turbos might be limited to Acuras.

"We don't have any intention to keep turbos just dedicated to Acura," he says. "In the future, it's possible that they will be adopted in Honda products as well."  In part from AutoWeek

racing news
Former 500 driver dies Former 500 driver diesUPDATE This Portland Oregonian article gives a great account of Len Sutton.  He survived driving open wheel cars in the '50s and '60s, an era that saw drivers killed weekly.

12/05/06 Len Sutton, a race car driver who appeared in seven Indianapolis 500s, including a second-place finish in 1962, died Monday in Portland, Ore. He was 81.  Sutton finished 11.5 seconds behind Rodger Ward in the '62 500. He also won the Milwaukee 200 in 1960. IndyStar
Industry News
Chrysler's top sales exec. leaves Chrysler's top sales exec. leavesChrysler Group Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing Joe Eberhardt will be leaving the company to return to automotive retailing within the Mercedes- Benz network in the United States, Chrysler Group CEO Tom LaSorda announced today.

The Senior Vice Presidents and Vice Presidents of Sales, Marketing, International and Service will report directly to LaSorda until further notice.

Eberhardt, who joined the Chrysler Group in 2003, has been unpopular with Chrysler dealers who say he has launched ineffective promotions and was responsible for building a sales bank of more than 100,000 vehicles that no one had ordered earlier this year.

The sales bank and excess inventory has been blamed for Chrysler’s $1.5 billion loss in the third quarter and a forecast full-year loss of $1.3 billion.

tv news
Brad Daugherty shifts to NASCAR for ESPN Brad Daugherty shifts to NASCAR for ESPNBasketball fans know Brad Daugherty as an accomplished and well-known NBA and college basketball star, but few may know of Daugherty’s lifelong passion of NASCAR racing.

Daugherty’s racing interests date back to his childhood when he met Richard Petty at the Daytona International Speedway in 1977. Daugherty would later choose to wear Petty’s number – 43 – throughout his NBA career with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Now, Daughterty has joined the ESPN and ABC team of hosts, analysts and pit reporters in 2007 to provide what he describes as the “fan’s perspective” in the network’s comprehensive, multimedia coverage devoted to NASCAR.

“I’m just really excited about being able to get involved on this level,” said Daugherty. “I have a little bit of technical and ownership experience, but mostly, I am a fan.” zzzz

In his second year in the NBA, Daugherty took a serious interest in racing and in 1987, co-founded a late-model stock race team with driver Robert Pressley in Asheville, N.C. The team raced in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the NASCAR Racing Series, winning the regional championship in 1987 and 1988. In 1989, they joined the NASCAR Busch Series and earned the team’s first major victory at the Orange County Speedway in North Carolina.

While continuing to play pro hoops, Daugherty supported and mentored several up-and-coming drivers as an owner in the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, explaining that he wanted to nurture their talents and see their careers grow. Drivers included the late Kenny Irwin Jr., Wayne Anderson and Kevin Harvick. Irwin won two Craftsman Truck Series races driving for Daugherty in 1997, the first at Homestead-Miami Speedway in March and the second at Texas Motor Speedway in June.

"I hope to draw in a new audience,” he added. “NASCAR is a sport that business-wise, has to continue to grow and go international. It needs to broaden horizons and I hope my presence gives fans even more reason to turn it on and watch.”

A long-time fan of the sport, Daugherty will sit alongside fellow commentators on two new shows -- NASCAR Countdown and NASCAR Now. NASCAR Countdown will immediately precede all NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series races televised on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, while NASCAR Now, the network’s first-ever daily program solely dedicated to NASCAR, will deliver the most up-to-date news and information each weekday. NASCAR Now will debut on ESPN2 on Feb. 5, 2007.

“It’s like taking a fan out of the stands and into the booth,” said Daugherty. “I’m as interested in the stories and sagas as the competition. I know those little pieces that nobody talks about.”

Daugherty played eight seasons in the NBA for the Cavs, who selected him as the No. 1 pick in the 1986 draft. A five-time NBA All-Star, Daugherty averaged 19 points and 9.5 rebounds a game during his pro career.  He shot 53.2 percent from the field and 74.7 percent from the line, marks rarely seen by other centers. 

In 41 NBA playoff games, he averaged 19.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.  At 6’11” and 245 pounds, Daugherty was widely known as one of the best passing big men in professional basketball during his playing days.

The Black Mountain, N.C. native’s career with the Cavaliers was cut short due to recurring back problems. He sat out the last part of the 1994 season, and missed all of the following two years, before retiring from the NBA.

Daugherty left the racing business in 1999, but remained an avid fan of the sport, and is thrilled with his new role as an analyst for ESPN and ABC.

A 1986 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Daugherty‘s basketball career took off as a Carolina Tar Heel where he began as a 16-year-old freshman. By his senior season, he was a first-team All-American selection, averaging 20.2 points and nine rebounds per game, while shooting 64.8 percent from the floor. He also scored in double figures in 32 of his team’s 34 games.

Daugherty previously served as a college basketball game sideline reporter and analyst for ESPN and ABC (1999-2001), covering the ACC conference telecasts.

Before ESPN, Daugherty served as a game analyst for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers from 1996-1998 on the Hometown 43/Cavaliers Television Network and in those same years did limited work as an analyst for the San Antonio Spurs.

ESPN and ABC will have comprehensive, multi-platform coverage featuring telecasts of the final 17 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races including the 10-race “Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup” championship on ABC. Additionally, ESPN2 will be the home of the NASCAR Busch Series all season.

ESPN aired 262 NASCAR Cup Races over a 20-year period starting in 1981. The network's award-winning, live flag-to-flag coverage on ESPN was honored with 17 Sports Emmy Awards, as well as many industry honors. It is widely credited for helping to popularize the sport nationwide. NASCAR races have appeared on ABC for decades, beginning with broadcasts on the award-winning Wide World of Sports program in the 1960s. ESPN PR

Danica Patrick Joins XM Satellite Radio Lineup Danica Patrick Joins XM Satellite Radio LineupDanica Patrick is the latest racing superstar to join the on-air team at XM Satellite Radio, the nation's number-one satellite radio company with more than seven million subscribers.

The IndyCar Series driver is now officially a member of the Andretti Green Racing (AGR) team, the winningest team in Indy Racing League (IRL) history.  Patrick will co- host the exclusive XM Radio show "The Andretti Green Racing Hour" with AGR teammates Marco Andretti, Dario Franchitti, Bryan Herta, and Tony Kanaan, as well as AGR co-owner and IndyCar racing legend Michael Andretti.

The weekly, one-hour show debuts spring 2007 on the sports talk radio channel XM Sports Nation (XM Channel 143).  zzzz

XM is also the exclusive home for radio shows hosted by NASCAR 2006 Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and NASCAR megastar Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

"I am thrilled to become part of both the Andretti Green Racing and XM Satellite Radio teams," said Patrick. "'The Andretti Green Racing Hour' promises to be much more than a racing show, featuring the team's experiences both on the track and off. My experiences as the newest member of AGR are guaranteed to be interesting."

Winner of the Rookie of The Year trophy at her first Indianapolis 500 in 2005, Patrick has become an international sensation, appearing everywhere from the covers of Sports Illustrated and TV Guide to the new music video for Jay-Z's "Show Me What You Got," which features Patrick racing alongside Earnhardt and Jay-Z in Monaco.

"Danica is one of the most popular competitors in sports today," said Eric Logan, executive vice president, programming, XM Satellite Radio.  "XM is the exclusive home of racing's biggest stars, and we're proud to welcome Danica to the family."

XM is the sports leader in satellite radio with more than 5,000 live sporting events in 2006, including every IndyCar Series race.  XM has Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, NBA games on ESPN Radio, NASCAR, PGA TOUR, college football, and college basketball.  XM also offers the most sports talk on satellite radio, including the newly-launched XM Sports Nation channel, ESPN Radio, ESPNews, and Fox Sports Radio.

Q and A with Pat Symonds Q and A with Pat SymondsQ. Pat, how do you look back over the 2006 season?

PS: To win a world title is always an honor for the people involved. But to do the same again the following year, with a double championship victory, is an achievement that really deserves recognition. It proves that the previous year's success was in no way lucky. These results are the consequence of a clearly-defined strategy, and unstinting work from the whole team.

Q. What is your assessment of your rivals' performances?

PS: Performance is a relative concept that includes the idea of competitiveness. When you are at the front, that's good performance, and it is clear that our rivals this year changed. In 2005, it was quite easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses of McLaren.

In 2006, we were up against a team with no Achilles Heel. So we had to complete revise the way we approached our campaign. We had to be much more aggressive. Ultimately, we attacked harder, for longer. zzzz

Q. How did your approach change from 2005 to 2006?

PS: Our only rivals this year were Ferrari, and they have always enjoyed exceptional reliability. So managing our lead, or going conservative, were never an option. We had to go on the offensive. We knew that the level of performance of the Ferrari was similar to our R26 and that most of the time, the differences came from differing tire characteristics.

There was no way of knowing, before the race weekend, if we would have the upper hand. And the balance of power between Michelin and Bridgestone could change literally overnight. That meant we needed to be adaptable in our approach.

Q. In your opinion, were the cars the product of different design philosophies?

PS: I don't think so. The philosophy is always the same: maximize aerodynamic efficiency and tire performance, make it lighter, make it stiffer... There may be different ways of achieving those objectives, but I don't think the Renault and Ferrari cars were that different. The contrasts may have been greater with the engines, as I got the impression that the maximum revs of the Ferrari were lower than ours.

Q. You have said this season was among the toughest of your career. Why?

PS: First of all, the battle on track was tough. Really tough. Our rivals didn't seem to have any weaknesses, or almost none. We had to seize every little opportunity. And it was a difficult season politically as well. It was hard to come to terms with events like the mass damper affair and Fernando's penalty in Monza.

Q. Did the banning of the mass dampers, and the Court of Appeal hearing that followed, mean the team took its eye off the ball in preparing for the races?

PS: Yes, to some extent. During a fortnight in August, I focused almost exclusively on preparing documents for the FIA hearing. Other engineers worked on the subject too, when they could have been working in different areas - performance development, for example.

The whole affair used up resources that could have been exploited elsewhere, and also brought a major performance penalty on track. We re-optimized the car for the final races, of course, but the R26 would have been a quicker car at Interlagos with the system fitted.

Q. The R26 only took one victory after Montreal. Did the removal of the TMD play a role in that?

PS: Of course. We never fully returned to the level of performance we had achieved beforehand. What's more, it was at that point that Bridgestone made some major performance gains that helped Ferrari.

Q. What was Ferrari's greatest strength?

PS: Without a shadow of a doubt, it was their qualifying pace. This didn't come from the car so much as the tires. It sometimes led us to change our strategies for qualifying. There is no shame in saying that, at some races, Bridgestone had superior products.

Q. Did you need to take many risks to cope with the threat of Michael Schumacher?

PS: I never take risks in that sense. We took some strategic decisions, but always with the same assessment of risk: to bring us benefit if they paid off, and not to penalize us if they did not. In Imola, for example, we knew we would finish second if we didn't try something with Fernando's strategy. So we stopped him two laps earlier than planned. In the best case scenario , he would have won. In the worst case scenario, he still finished second…

Q. If you could start the season again, what mistakes would you want to avoid?

PS: I would make sure we redesigned the wheel nut mechanism before Budapest, not afterwards! And I would not have changed Fernando's front tires in China. Those two mistakes cost us two wins. But in terms of our approach, our philosophy and how we went racing this year, I wouldn't change a thing.

Q. The team seemed to cope with the pressure though. How did you keep the motivation high?

PS: We worked very hard to keep everybody motivated. We explained the situation to them, and made sure everybody remained confident. They were already world champions, and there was no reason why they could not do it again.

Q. Finally, Fernando Alonso has now left the team. He was exceptional this year…

PS: I want to pay tribute to his contribution to our success. He is a great driver. He gave 100% to achieve the results, just as we did to give him the best possible car. I like it when things are working like that. What's more, Fernando has some exceptional abilities, particularly in terms of understanding the race.

Instinctively, he knows whether he needs to looks after the tires, whether to attack or defend. He knows what the key moments are in a race. And in the last two years, he has made almost no mistakes. In 2005, he hit the wall in Canada. In 2006, he was penalized for braking in front of a competitor. That's pretty remarkable, isn't it? Renault F1

Injured Button to miss another test Injured Button to miss another testUPDATE (GMM)  A spokeswoman for Honda said on Tuesday that Jenson Button's two cracked ribs are 'healing well', despite the fact that the British racer is to sit out a second week of testing.

Button, 27, is to miss the three day session beginning on Wednesday at the Circuito de Jerez, the spokeswoman confirmed, after he also skipped last week's Barcelona test due to injuries sustained whilst karting.

The spokeswoman said she did not know if Button will be fit for the final pre-Christmas test, also at Jerez.

"At this time, Jenson will miss this week's test in Jerez in order not to aggravate his rib injury which is healing well," she said.

"We are taking things one week at a time, therefore I'm afraid I won't be able to advise you about next week until next week."

12/05/06 (GMM)  After sitting out the Barcelona test with cracked ribs, Honda racer Jenson Button will also miss the Jerez session this week, according to reports.

Numerous sources revealed that the 27-year-old Briton is not yet recovered from injuries sustained recently in a karting shunt.

It is suggested that Button could also miss the other pre-Christmas test at Jerez, located in the south of Spain, in order to guarantee his fitness for the crucial January runs with Honda's new RA107 car.

Doctors will reassess his injury at the end of the week.

A team spokeswoman said late on Monday: "We decided we shouldn't rush him back into the car and risk aggravating the condition."

With Button out of action, test duties at Jerez will again likely be fulfilled by his teammate Rubens Barrichello, alongside 2007 test lineup Christian Klien and James Rossiter.

track news
Tilke to design new circuit in Madrid Tilke to design new circuit in Madrid(GMM) Renowned F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke has traveled to Pinto, in the southwest of Madrid, to evaluate the proposed site for a new grand prix circuit in Spain, according to reports.

The newspaper 'Diario As' claims that the track could become another venue for Formula One testing, alongside the popular Spanish destinations at Barcelona, Jerez and Valencia.

The test circuit would also be in addition to the new Spanish venue at Monteblanco, near Seville.

An official in charge of the project said: "We will build a special facility -- something that is able to welcome all types of motor sport but something that is also unique."

Raikkonen listens to no one - Dennis Raikkonen listens to no one - Dennis(GMM)  As the final days of Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren contract wind down, Ron Dennis has fired a parting shot at the Finn.

Ahead of the 27-year-old driver's $51m switch to replace Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, McLaren team principal Dennis accused Raikkonen of spurning advice during his five year stay at Woking.

The pair's relationship is understood to have fallen under strain following Raikkonen's well-documented exploits in the tabloid headlines.

"It would have been helpful if Kimi had listened to those who tried to advise him," the 59-year-old Briton, Dennis, was quoted as saying by Spain's Diario As newspaper, "but I suspect that there is not a single person in the world to which he listens."

Raikkonen joined Mercedes-powered McLaren in 2002, winning nine grands prix.

Samsung Plaza eats Word on Ferrari Raffle Samsung Plaza eats Word on Ferrari RaffleA simple mistake could have cost Samsung Plaza an unexpected 123 billion won in a promotional lottery event, as 440 people showed up claiming they had won the first prize - a Ferrari F360. The sports car is priced at 280 million won apiece.

``We have agreed with all 440 winners that we will give only three Ferraris to them after having another draw tomorrow," said Lee Sang-hyun, public relations official of Samsung Corp., which operates the shopping mall chain.

The department store, which is located in Pundang, south of Seoul, held a lottery for customers with three Ferraris as the top prize. A silver one was on display in its lobby, luring passers-by to join the draw.

Customers had to pick six numbers out of 26 on the lottery ticket, which were covered invisible with a silver coating. The possibility of winning the first prize was calculated as 0.0004 percent, or one in 230,230. However, in some way, 440 out of 39,000 participants showed up with the right six numbers scratched out. Some suspect that they used a clever method to see through the silver coating.

The ticket stated that only up to three Ferraris will be up for the prize even if there are more winners. But on the promotion catalogue, the clause was omitted. Korea Times

tv news
ESPN to make first foray into Europe ESPN to make first foray into EuropeUS media group Disney is to acquire the North American Sports Network in a bid to expand the reach of its ESPN channels.

A pan-European broadcaster, NASN holds the rights in many European sports leagues including the National Football League, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League. It has distribution deals in the UK, Germany and Russia.

Disney wants to broadcast American sports in Europe and expand the reach of ESPN. It will acquire the channel from its owners, private-equity company Benchmark Capital Europe and Setanta Sports Holdings Ltd.

Biffle/Kyle Busch to test Goodyear tires at Vegas Biffle/Kyle Busch to test Goodyear tires at VegasLas Vegas Motor Speedway's new high banks will be tested by Nextel Cup cars for the first time this week. #5-Kyle Busch and #16-Greg Biffle will participate in a two-day tire test for Goodyear on Wednesday and Thursday. It will mark the first time Nextel Cup cars have turned hot laps on the superspeedway since the banking in the turns was raised from 12 degrees to 20 degrees and the entire tri-oval was repaved. Goodyear engineers will use this test to help determine a tire compound to be used in the March 11 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. This test also will determine the tire race teams will use during the NASCAR-sanctioned test for all Nextel Cup teams Jan. 28-29. Tickets as well as Neon Garage and pre-race activities passes are available for the March 9-11 NASCAR Weekend by calling 1-800-644-4444 or by logging on to www.lvms.com. LVMS PR
Creation AIM for the future Creation AIM for the futureCreation Autosportif has agreed an exclusive engine partnership deal with AIM Industries, a Japanese specialist engineering resource company. The multi-year partnership will see the exclusive supply to Creation of an all new 90o V10 engine for use in Creation’s Le Mans prototype sportscar chassis.

AIM Industries, a company providing engineering resource services to the Japanese automotive industry, has declared its intention to win the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans with a car powered by an AIM engine. AIM, whose ethos is captured with the statement “Dash to grant our dreams”, will be working in collaboration with Engine Developments Limited to design, develop and campaign the new power plant.

AIM’s Chairman and founder, Mr. Yukinori Suzuki, said, “The link with Creation was the final critical element in our plan for our engine to be competing in the toughest endurance race in the world. Creation has shown that they can successfully design and construct a quick and reliable racing car and compete at the highest level with success.” zzzz

Michael Jankowski of Creation said, “We are obviously delighted with, and very excited by, this new partnership. The multi-year structure of the partnership recognizes the reality that development and testing go hand-in-hand with success. We are honored to be working with a company that, like us, has ambition and expertise to compete at the highest level – and succeed.”

This is a completely exclusive deal. AIM is proposing an entirely new engine, the design of which will accommodate Creation’s desire to cross over into the use of bio fuels in the future. As AIM has not previously been known for engine development and design, they have sought the assistance of Judd (Engine Developments) for this project.

2007 will be a year of testing and development with the engine. In 2008, the Creation AIM partnership plans to contest the 12 Hours of Sebring, the entire Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Two Creation chassis will be entered – both powered by the AIM engine. One chassis will be driven by an all-Japanese lineup while the other will be crewed by a team of drivers selected by Creation. The partnership continues at least until the end of 2010.

Further details about Creation’s 2007 racing plans will be released in due course.

Alonso pips Schu to award Alonso pips Schu to award(GMM) Just as he did in the 2006 drivers' championship, Fernando Alonso pipped Michael Schumacher to the post for the 'International Driver of the Year' prize at the prestigious Autosport Awards on Sunday.

The Renault driver's 'R26' also won Car of the Year, presented to the French squad at London's Grosvenor House in glitzy Park Lane.

The inimitable sixteen season career of retiring 37-year-old Schumacher, however, was honored by his former fierce rival, 1996 champion Damon Hill.

Eleven years after meeting Ron Dennis at the very same event, the GP2 champion and 2007 McLaren racer Lewis Hamilton was named Rookie of the Year.

"I didn't know who Ron was (in 1995)," the 21-year-old recalled, "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." zzzz

The centerpiece of the evening, meanwhile, was the unveiling of the up-and-comer Oliver Turvey, 19, as the winner of a McLaren F1 test next year. Among the former recipients of the award, who were also present in the British capital last Sunday evening, are David Coulthard and Jenson Button.

Honda's Button has been nominated on a shortlist of ten Britons for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. The 27-year-old, who scored his breakthrough win in Hungary this season, is among stars in the worlds of tennis, golf, boxing, cycling, cricket, equestrian, darts and gymnastics.

The winner will be announced on Sunday.

Don’t call me ’baby-Schu’ - Vettel Don’t call me ’baby-Schu’ - Vettel(GMM)  BMW's teenaged 'Friday' driver Sebastian Vettel has rejected any comparison of his meteoric rise through the motor racing ranks to Formula One to that of his newly retired countryman Michael Schumacher.

Wearing a traditional Swiss costume at the German squad's end of year party in the Alps, the 19-year-old driver asked German reporters to scrap his media nickname 'Mini-Schumi'.

"I find the comparison simply incorrect," he told the newspaper Kolner Express in Flims Laax, although admitting that, like Schumacher, he will soon be a resident of Switzerland.

Amid Jacques Villeneuve's departure from the BMW-Sauber team in mid-2006, Vettel moved into the Friday test seat to replace Robert Kubica.  Despite the axing of third cars next year, he has retained the role for 2007. zzzz

Having narrowly missed the F3 Euroseries title this season, Vettel continued: "(Schumacher) represents the absolute maximum you can achieve in this sport, so I find comparisons with him a little presumptuous.

"I do not consider myself as a baby-Schumi or whatever, nor do I see myself as his successor.  I am simply Sebastian and my goal is to win races and become the world champion."

Alongside his F1 role in 2007, Vettel will also race in the World Series by Renault.  And if Kubica or Nick Heidfeld are unable to race at any point next year, Vettel will make his grand prix debut.

But he insisted: "Of course, you never wish for something bad to happen to anyone."

New car to be ’100% Super Aguri’ - chief New car to be ’100% Super Aguri’ - chief(GMM) Super Aguri managing director Daniele Audetto has moved to calm speculation following the Japanese team's use of a 2006 Honda chassis in winter testing last week.

Calling the repainted machine the 'SAF1 Team Interim Car', Leafield based Aguri raised concerns when - in the hands of 27-year-old former Honda test driver Anthony Davidson - the car lapped at Circuit de Catalunya close to the best times of the team's works partner.

While the regulations for 2008 and beyond will allow the use of customer cars, the practice is still to be fundamentally prohibited next year. zzzz

Referring to the 'Interim' car, Audetto told Reuters: "(It) will gather all the information regarding the new tires which we will bring to the new SA07, which we will probably present at the beginning of February.

"It will be a Super Aguri (car) 100 percent."

He nonetheless admitted that Honda's support in the future is to be 'very strong', and made no secret that Super Aguri then intend to use the '08 rules to full effect.

"We (will be able to) share the same car," Audetto insisted, "and then what will count is the drivers, the racing team, the strategy.

"Potentially a small team with a very good car, with good drivers and strategy and a little luck could eventually win a grand prix in 2008."

racing news
RWI announces leadership change RWI announces leadership changeRusty Wallace, Inc. (RWI) announced today that former banking executive, Rob Williams, has been named the company’s Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.  Williams will report directly to President and Chief Executive Officer, Rusty Wallace.  Noted Wallace, “I’m very excited to announce the new addition to our organization.  Rob is a very bright individual and I have a lot of confidence in his abilities.  He has been around the racing industry for quite some time now, so I feel sure that he’ll be able to step in and contribute almost immediately.”

In assuming his new post, Williams fills the role formerly held by Dick Paysor, Wallace’s longtime business manager who recently resigned his position.  “As excited as I am about Rob, this move is almost bittersweet,” Wallace stated, “Dick is a great friend of mine.  He’s a very talented businessman and has done a great job for us.  His family is very important to him and I’m happy that he can now spend more time with them.  He’s going to be able to pursue some of his other interests and I wish him the best.” zzzz

Williams comes to RWI from Wachovia Bank’s Wealth Management group, where he served as financial planner to many NASCAR drivers.  A native of Concord, NC, Williams earned a B.S. in Business Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and is a Certified Financial Planner.

In his new role, Williams will oversee the operations of RWI and its various affiliates, including RWI Racing, LLC, its NASCAR Busch Series team and RWI Promotions, LLC, its promotional show car business.  Williams will also serve as Wallace’s personal business manager and oversee his other interests, including his six automotive dealerships located in eastern Tennessee.

In a separate, yet related, move, RWI also announced that Morey Herendeen, former RWI Racing Shop Foreman, has been named the team’s General Manager.  Herendeen will report to Williams and oversee the day to day operations of RWI Racing, assuming duties also previously held by Paysor.  Said Wallace, “Morey has done a great job in getting the team organized over the past year and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do in his new role.  I have no doubt that he’ll do a great job.”

Hot News Archives
2000 2001 2002 2003

Search Hot News
Search Help
AutoRacing1 Inc. BBB Business Review