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Operation of Turkey track up for grabs Operation of Turkey track up for grabsThe Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ITO) is preparing a Request for Proposal for the operation of the Istanbul Park circuit, which is the park where Formula 1 and MotorGP are being held.  The specifications are expected to be ready within the next five weeks, said Murat Yalcintas, Chairman of the Executive Board of ITO, which has invested $160 million in the Park up to now.  Domestic and foreign companies will be able to bid in the tender for the operation of the Park.
Williams calls back Karthikeyan Williams calls back KarthikeyanWilliams has asked F1's first Indian - Narain Karthikeyan - to do more testing for the Grove team in Spain this week.

The 28-year-old pay driver from Chennai is favorite to land the 'Friday' and official reserve role at the former title winning team, after debuting for Jordan in 2005.

Denmark's Nicholas Kiesa is also reportedly in the running.

Narain was not retained by the Midland-owned 'MF1' team for next year, and instead hawked his $5m in Indian sponsorship to Williams. Sir Frank's beleaguered squad is keen to separately fund the 'Friday' car, after losing backer HP and works supplier BMW.

Reuters quotes a team spokesman as saying Karthikeyan will return to the wheel of the Cosworth V8-powered FW27C at Jerez on Wednesday, and again on Friday.

Ted Christopher and Joao Barbosa land Rolex 24 rides Ted Christopher and Joao Barbosa land Rolex 24 ridesOver the past several years, the Rolex 24 At Daytona has featured an eclectic mix of superstars from all over the racing world in addition to the usual world-class sports car racers who compete in all Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve events.

The latest additions to the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona entry list are NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour star Ted Christopher and veteran sports car standout Joao Barbosa, who have joined forces with one of sports car racing’s most storied teams. Christopher—who will be making his sports car racing debut—and Barbosa have been added to the driver lineup for the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar in the January 28-29 Rolex 24 At Daytona, the opening race of the 2006 Rolex Series Car Series schedule.

The pair joins five-time overall Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Hurley Haywood and JC France, a two-time winner in Rolex Series competition. Despite his limited sports car experience, Christopher was very impressive in a recent private test at Homestead-Miami Speedway, his first time driving for Brumos Racing.

“Man, he was quick,” Brumos regular driver Darren Law said of Christopher’s showing in the test. “We were amazed how quickly he got up to speed.”

Christopher is also expected to join the team for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in June at Watkins Glen International. Christopher “cut back” his racing schedule in 2005, running in 85 races after competing 93 times in 2004.  Over the past four seasons, the Plainville, Conn. driver has raced 327 times. 

“Ted is an unbelievable racer,” said Brumos Racing team owner Bob Snodgrass. “He’s raced more times in the last couple years than many guys have in their careers. I’m very happy to have a fellow Northeasterner on the team for the Rolex 24 and for Watkins Glen.”

Milwaukee Mile news Milwaukee Mile newsReady for his first post-football challenge, former Green Bay Packers nose tackle Gilbert Brown is becoming an investor in the Milwaukee Mile and the track’s director of new business development.

Raised in Detroit, the son of a drag racer, Brown has had an interest in cars and speed for almost as long as he can remember. He attended the Champ Car race at the Mile last June and, impressed by the friendliness of the people involved, he said, began looking for ways to get involved.

"I saw the operation here, and everybody was nice and everybody was courteous to everybody," Brown said. "That’s something you don’t forget.

"It’s something I just want to do, something I think will help the sport of racing. We want to be known as more than just a football player or a basketball player."

Brown will be among the investors with local ties who will spend $100,000 for a share of a new company, Milwaukee Mile Marketing, which will take over racing promotions Jan. 1. The group negotiated a complex, 18-year deal with State Fair Park that also includes the sale or trade of 9.4 acres for development, including a hotel on the property along Greenfield Ave. in West Allis.

Brown, 34, who played for 10 seasons with the Packers, said he likes to tinker with cars and has a collection that includes several late-‘60s and early-‘70s muscle cars like those he remembers from his childhood.

Brown’s addition helps the Mile organization toward its goals for attracting an investor base that reflects the entire community, said Andy Randall, the group’s president. He will open doors to other new investors, sponsors and fans. Journal-Sentinel  [Editor's Note: This is another case of an African-American celebrity becoming involved in motorsports]

Sebring Day 1: Junqueira nips Briscoe Sebring Day 1: Junqueira nips BriscoeThe last time that Bruno Junqueira emerged from a Champ Car, he climbed to the top step of the victory podium in Monterrey, Mexico. Junqueira left Fundidora Park with the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford points lead and high hopes for the 2005 season. But an injury suffered at the Indianapolis 500 later that month derailed Junqueira’s quest for the Champ Car title.

Junqueira returned to the cockpit of the #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone today and once again paced the field setting the fastest time during the first of three days of testing at Sebring International Raceway.

Junqueira showed little rust after spending a long summer recovering from his injuries, setting a fast time of 51.1 seconds during 77 laps on the 1.65-mile South Florida layout. Six other drivers also took to the track with PKV Racing running evaluations of Ryan Briscoe and Ryan Dalziel, Rocketsports Racing running Richard Lyons and the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing testing Jan Heylen, Alx Danielsson and Dan Clarke.

“Today’s one of the best day’s of my career,” said Newman/Haas driver Junqueira. ”I have worked hard for months to get back in the PacifiCare car and we were up to speed quick. I feel great! I’m at 100 percent right now. We had no problems and I finished as many laps as the engineers would let me.”

The PKV Racing duo of Ryan Briscoe and Ryan Dalziel were next of the time charts both turning laps in the 51 second range. Both Briscoe and Dalziel worked through their testing programs under the watchful eye of team owner and 1996 Champion Jimmy Vasser who was pleased with their performances. The test marked the first time Briscoe has driven a Champ Car and is coming off of a Formula 1 test and was excited to get some seat time.

“It has been a busy week,” said the Australian Briscoe. “A Champ Car and a Formula 1 car are very similar. A Champ Car has more horsepower and no driver aids so you have to set it up for the middle of the corner. Both cars are demanding and you don’t want to try and muscle them around. It was a really good day and I know a few drivers are trying for a seat at PKV. I know I’m getting a fair shot and I think things are looking good.”

Mi-Jack Conquest Racing fielded a trio of drivers today, with Belgian Jan Heylen running the fastest of the three at 52.1 seconds. Richard Lyons in the Rocketsports car clocked a best time of 52.3 seconds.

The driver lineup will shake up tomorrow as a group of fresh faces will take to the Sebring track. Katherine Legge will prepare for her PKV Racing test week by shaking down a Rocketsports machine on -Tuesday. Also expected on track tomorrow will be the top-two finishers from the 2005 Champ Car Atlantic Championship. Charles Zwolsman and Tonis Kasemets will both test for Mi-Jack Conquest and Giorgio Pantano will also strap into the PKV Racing machine for an evaluation.

Monday’s Lap Times

1.Bruno Junqueira 51.1 seconds
2. Ryan Briscoe 51.5
3. Ryan Dalziel 51.8
4. Jan Heylen 52.1
5. Richard Lyons 52.3
6. Alx Danielsson 52.9
7. Dan Clarke 53.8

Junqueira turns first laps in 7 months Junqueira turns first laps in 7 monthsPacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira drove a race car for the first time today at Sebring International Raceway since recovering from fractures to his T-12 and L-1 vertebras sustained in an accident in the Indy Racing League-sanctioned Indianapolis 500 on May 29.  It was his first time behind the wheel of a Champ Car since May 22 when he drove to victory in the Tecate / Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico and took over the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford point standings after Round 2 of 14.  He was runner-up to the Champion in 2002, 2003 and 2004 in the Champ Car series. Photo Credit: Dan R. Boyd, PacifiCare Racing

“I felt really good today,” said Junqueira.  “I was able to do more than I planned throughout the day and that was very exciting after being away for so long.  I never thought I wouldn’t be able to drive the car as well as before but it’s nice to actually do it.  I’m really happy with the result and I feel good.  Before the test I thought I would be happy with a 52.5 lap time but I ran a 51.17 so I am very, very happy!”

Junqueira and Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) began testing at approx. 9:45 a.m. ET today in cold conditions on a green race track and completed 42 laps around the 1.65-mile road course at Sebring International Raceway before stopping for a lunch break.  The testing resumed at approx. 2 p.m. ET and Junqueira ran another 25 laps in the primary PacifiCare race car and 10 laps in the back-up car before concluding his first test day with pit stop practice at approx. 4 p.m.  He completed a total of 127 miles of testing and set a best lap time of 51.1.  Team co-owner Paul Newman attended the test.  The team will resume testing on Wednesday.

“Our plan was to just get Bruno back in the car and comfortable today,” said John Tzouanakis, team manager of Newman/Haas Racing.  “He was able to get comfortable in the car and up to speed quicker than we had hoped and now we will try to build on the progress with more seat time on Wednesday.  Everyone was excited for him and all that he accomplished today after being out of the car for so long.  It’s good to have him back in the car.”

Since his accident, Junqueira has devoted his time to returning to his prior fitness regime of cycling, weight training and Pilates and bettered his personal best time on the bicycle last week.  More than four other cars were on track today as drivers were testing in preparation for the 2006 season-opening Champ Car race, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 9, 2006 as well as trying out for various teams.

Sierra Sierra chooses Matos Sierra Sierra chooses MatosSierra Sierra Enterprises announced today the selection of aspiring open-wheel driver Raphael Matos to drive for the team in the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship.  Matos joins Sierra Sierra fresh from his Championship series victory in the 2005 Star Mazda Championship.  Matos eagerly awaits the opportunity to compete for the Atlantic open-wheel series title.

Matos was chosen from a field of accomplished drivers including Hoover Orsi, a talented competitor and 2001 Atlantic series Champion whose seat time in Sierra Sierra pre-season test sessions positions him well for a Champ Car test in early 2006.

“Lap times are critical, and our driver candidates tested very fast last week,” said Sierra Sierra team manager Richard Raeder. “Beyond the stopwatch, Sierra Sierra continues to bring on drivers who stand to gain the most from a competitive opportunity in the Atlantics for the advancement of both their driving skills and careers. We greatly appreciate the fine group of drivers who forwarded resumés and showed a desire to be part of our team.”

"I am glad to be part of Sierra Sierra,” said Matos. “It was great to sit down in the car last week and complete some very fast testing. Dave (Empringham), Gerald (Tyler) and Richard have an incredible depth of knowledge in this sport and they work together like a finely-tuned machine.  I believe this is the best team with the best program in the Atlantics, and we have what it takes to lead in this year’s series.” 

Matos, 24, dominated the 2005 Star Mazda Championship series, including four consecutive wins, to capture the Championship title.  A year earlier, he finished 7th in the 10-race 2004 Mazda Pro Series.  Matos was the 2003 Formula Dodge National Champion and the Formula Dodge Midwestern Series runner-up in 2002, and the Chevrolet Formula Junior Champion in Brazil in 2001. His fast-rising career was launched in karting from 1993 to 2000.

According to David Empringham, Sierra Sierra Driver Development Coach, “We have found a diamond in the rough. Raphael is a natural-born racer, with raw speed, intense focus, the ability to provide accurate feedback, a hunger to win and a great personality.  He is unquestionably championship material and I believe we could not have found a better and more deserving driver to represent Sierra Sierra in our quest for the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship.” Sierra Sierra 

Silverstone taking World Cup clash in stride Silverstone taking World Cup clash in strideFirst the British GP was kicked off its traditional date because the French wanted it, having been kicked out of their traditional date by the United States Grand Prix, and now the soccer World Cup draw has made life all the more difficult with Germany, one of the favorites to win, playing on Friday, England playing its first game on the Saturday, along with Argentina, another strong team and both Holland and Portugal playing on race day.

The Silverstone circuit is hoping it will be OK.

"What an unbelievable weekend of sport", said Richard Phillips, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited. "The British Grand Prix is one of the biggest and most spectacular events on the UK sporting calendar, so with England's opening game of the football World Cup scheduled to take place on the Saturday, sports fans are in for a real treat.

"If last year's F1 season is anything to go by we'll have a fantastic British Grand Prix on the 11 June, in front of another sell out crowd. The main thing is we've avoided the later rounds of the World Cup, when England will hopefully be through to the knock-out stages.

"Let's just hope we have a British winner here at Silverstone, and that England go on to win the World Cup. It'll certainly be a month for sports fans to remember!"

"We are delighted with the rate that tickets have been selling," he added. "Tickets hadn't gone on sale this time last year, so we're benefiting from the opportunity for fans to buy Grand Prix tickets as Christmas presents."

Legge to test for Rocketsports too Legge to test for Rocketsports tooUPDATE Rocketsports Racing will begin testing at Florida’s Sebring International Raceway today and following the announcement that they will be running Richard Lyons during the two-day test came the announcement that Katherine Legge will also have the chance to run in one of the team’s Champ Cars.

The 25-year-old Briton has a bright future ahead of her in the wide world of auto racing. One of Europe’s top female race car drivers, Legge was the first woman to win a pole position in the British Formula Ford Zetec series in 2000. She competed in the British Formula Renault and British Formula 3 championships in 2002-2003. She furthered her racing resume in 2004 by racing for parts of both the British Formula Renault and North American Formula Renault series before getting her break in Atlantics.

Turning many heads during an off-season test for Toyota Atlantic team Polestar Racing Group, she was given the opportunity to run in the Champ Car feeder series backed by PKV Racing. In her first full season of racing professionally, she took the series by storm. Earning her first win in her debut race at Long Beach, Legge became the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North American. She continued a strong run throughout the season to finish third in the championship standings with ten top-ten finishes, eight top-five, five podiums including two additional wins in Edmonton and San Jose.

The Northampton, England resident enriched her racing experience most recently by climbing into the cockpit of a Formula One car testing for Minardi, followed by a test with A1 Team GBR last weekend at Dubai Autodrome in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Legge became the first female to test a Formula One car in over a decade and the first female to step foot in to an A1 Grand Prix series car.

As Rocketsports begins to prepare for the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, the team will be running Richard Lyons during the first day of the test, with Legge expected to make her first run in a Champ Car tomorrow on the 1.72-mile permanent road course in Sebring. Rocketsports

12/12/05 PKV-supported Katherine Legge is to get her first taste of a Champ Car a week earlier than expected - with Rocketsports Racing, autosport.com reports.

The 25 year-old Briton has received a last-minute call up to test for Paul Gentilozzi's team at Sebring tomorrow, seven days before her much-publicized two-day test with rivals PKV Racing at the same venue.

Legge, who tested for A1 Team GBR in Dubai last weekend, left the United Arab Emirates a day early last weekend to fly to the Florida track in preparation for the test.

She will get at least half a day's running in one of the team's cars, as a warm-up to her PKV test which could lead to her securing a full-time ride with the team next season.

Rocketsports is thought to be looking for two drivers in 2006 as Ryan Hunter-Reay is talking to IRL teams and Timo Glock is eyeing a possible GP2 ride. It could be that PKV will have no seats open for Legge if Vasser does not retire and da Matta returns. If she does really well in the Champ Car, Kevin Kalkhoven could look to put her in a seat with another team.

Champ Car drops Trans-Am Series Champ Car drops Trans-Am SeriesAs of today, the Champ Car World Series will no longer be affiliated as the sanctioning body of the Trans-Am Series.

“We have elected not to renew the licensing agreement with the Trans-Am Series. Any further comment on the matter should come from Trans-Am.,” said Champ Car President Steve Johnson.

“Trans-Am had been a mainstay in road racing for many years and has been a popular component of our three-day festivals of speed for the last two seasons. We have enjoyed having the Trans-Am series compete at our events, our fans enjoyed the series and we wish the series, and all its competitors, the best of luck in the future.”

The importance of Honda's new Wind Tunnel The importance of Honda's new Wind Tunnel
Legge victory voted "Top Racing Moment" Legge victory voted "Top Racing Moment"Rookie Katherine Legge's victory in the Toyota Atlantic Championship race April 10 - the first-ever win by a woman in a major, open-wheel race in North America -was named Southern California's "Top 2005 Racing Moment" based on a public vote conducted on lasports.org, the Los Angeles Sports Council web site.

Voting began on Nov.15 and ended Dec. 5.

Legge's award, in one of 16 different sports categories, was announced Sunday evening, Dec. 11 in a star-studded gala award presentation at the Hyatt Regency Plaza Hotel that was televised live.

"It was really just a thrill to be nominated for an award by the Los Angeles Sports Council," Legge said from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where she was testing with an international racing team.

"For the win to actually be named the top moment in Southern California auto racing in 2005 is just a fantastic honor, and winning on the streets of Long Beach in my Atlantic series debut will always be one of the best moments of my career."

Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, accepted the award in her absence, and will present the award to Legge, who is expected to return and defend her race title April 7-9 at the 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Legge's win at the 2005 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend beat out two other nominees in the auto racing category -- Kyle Busch's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Sept. 4 win at California Speedway and Scott Pruett's victory by 0.096 seconds in the April Rolex Series race in Fontana.

Her Atlantic Series victory was no fluke: she went on to win twice more, finished third in the 2005 point standings and received the BBS "Rising Star" Award.

In 2000, the 25-year-old native of Northampton, England, was the first woman to capture a pole position in the British Formula Ford Zetec Series, earning her the British Women Racing Driver Club's "Fastest Lap Speed" Award and the sobriquet of "fastest woman in the United Kingdom."

F1 and GP2 to air on SPEED in 2006 F1 and GP2 to air on SPEED in 2006 

SPEED will be the U.S. television home for the FIA Formula One World Championship™ for the 11th consecutive season in 2006, agreeing to a new deal that also gives the network television rights for GP2 Series™ racing.

“F1 has been a SPEED staple since the network first went on the air in 1996,” said Hunter Nickell, SPEED Executive VP and General Manager. “As we celebrate our 10th Anniversary in 2006, we are excited about the opportunity to elevate our signature Grand Prix coverage. F1 fans are some of the most loyal and passionate fans in all of motor sports, and SPEED has new tools to work with to bring them even more coverage of the sport they love.”

Bob Varsha, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett will continue as the broadcast team, with pit reporter Peter Windsor having an expanded role on-site at each event. The new deal allows SPEED to operate a live camera on the starting grid prior to each race for team interviews.

"I'm always impressed at F1 races by the number of people who come up to me, having watched the TV coverage from both sides of the Atlantic, to say that SPEED's presentation is, in their opinion, the best in the world,” said Windsor, whose weekly column “Windsor’s Wisdom” will be added to SPEEDTV.com in 2006. “That's a great credit to Bob, David, Steve and the team in Charlotte.  If we can expand this with live reports from the F1 grids then I think we can build on that success and provide the North American viewer with even deeper insights into the complex but fascinating global phenomenon that is called F1."

SPEED will air the entire Formula One™ season, with at least 15 of the 19 races being live and exclusive.

STAR Motorsports signs Austin STAR Motorsports signs AustinSTAR Motorsports, Austin Racing Enterprises, and 16 year old Chase Austin proudly announce the formation STAR-TEAM CHASE race team. STAR Motorsports, with a race shop based in Mooresville, NC, is a dynamic new player on the NASCAR scene. A unique blend of motorsports veterans, sports and entertainment executives, MLB, MLS, NBA and NFL athletes, and stars from the music and film industries, STAR will field competitive teams in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, Busch Series and Truck Series as will as Hooters Pro Cup and ASA Late Models. Sean Holley, President/CEO of STAR Motorsports, describes his excitement over partnering with Chase: "We are building this team to be competitive in the long run. To do that, we need a strong foundation. In addition to veteran drivers, STAR wants to secure young drivers with the potential to win at the highest levels for years to come. After extensive scouting, we were able get our top choice; Chase Austin. STAR-Motorsports
Industry News
Motorsports Authentics Completes Merger w/ Action Motorsports Authentics Completes Merger w/ ActionInternational Speedway Corporation and Speedway Motorsports Incorporated today announced their 50/50 joint venture, which conducts business under the name Motorsports Authentics, has completed a merger with Action Performance Companies. The transaction, first announced on August 30, 2005, was approved by Action's shareholders on December 1, 2005. The acquisition was structured as a merger of a wholly-owned subsidiary of Motorsports Authentics LLC into Action. Combined with the September 8, 2005 acquisition of the net assets of Team Caliber, Motorsports Authentics is now the leader in design, promotion, marketing and distribution of motorsports licensed merchandise. Motorsports Authentics has licenses for exclusive and non-exclusive distribution with the top teams competing in NASCAR and other major motorsports series. Its products include a broad range of motorsports-related die-cast replica collectibles, apparel, gifts and other memorabilia, which are marketed through a combination of mass retail, domestic wholesale, trackside, international and collector's club distribution channels. Yahoo Finance
Heikki Kovalainen Q and A Heikki Kovalainen Q and AFollowing the confirmation of his role as third driver at Renault, Heikki Kovalainen talks of his Jerez test last week in which he adjusted to the demands of the 2006 regulations.

Heikki, you tested for two days in Jerez. How did it go?
"The first day was really just about acclimatizing to the car with the simulated V8 power, and making some set-up changes to get the handling right for me. On Thursday, I did a long tire program, the car worked well and the tires seemed good. Michelin brought quite different products to Barcelona, and we found some interesting things. I think I had a good first session as an official driver with the F1 team."

How did you find it to be driving with the V8 power levels?
"We worked with the set-up to adjust the car, and found some good things that were better with this power level, in terms of how we prepare the car. The program gave us a lot of good data for the new car, so that the team knows what to expect when the R26 runs for the first time."

Finally, you have stepped from a GP2 car into a Formula 1 car. How big a jump is it?
"It is still a big step up from GP2. Maybe we have less power than before in the F1 car, but don’t be mistaken: driving a Formula 1 car is never easy! To find the last tenths of a second it just as tough as it has always been. What’s more, with less power I think it makes it more difficult: you can’t make so many mistakes because it costs you even more time, and that makes the driver’s job even more challenging." Source Renault

Albers enjoys wet test Albers enjoys wet testOn the final day of testing yesterday at Jerez, Christijan Albers and MF1 Racing completed the day in wet weather conditions. Together with the other Bridgestone teams Albers tested on an artificially wet track.

"It was a very useful day for us. We have been testing Bridgestone tires in wet and extreme wet tires," Albers explained.

"I'm very positive looking back at this five-day test with Midland. The team worked extremely well and we were getting more and more used to each other. I am already looking forward to our next test session." Albers completed 98 laps with a best time of 1:32.373s. Source Albers PR

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Bernie back on F1 board
'Blown away' by F1 contrast
Jerez action takes a break
Cosworth top 20,000rpm
V8 makes F1 tougher - Heikki
Fisichella to race in GP2
Schu friend gets jail term
Fittipaldi turns 59
DC feels 'more pressure'
Alonso favorite - Zanardi
Quote of the Week Quote of the Week"We're going to build the Busch Series like it's never been built before. It's just going to be busting out." -- George Bodenheimer, ESPN and ABC Sports President and Co-Chairman of Disney

What it means: Not only will the IRL now get neglected by ABC and ESPN for Nextel Cup, it will be further neglected because, as the statement above indicates, ESPN is going to market the dickens out of the Busch Series as well. "It is going to be busting out." It already gets higher TV ratings than the IRL by a wide margin. And you thought ABC did a horrible job with IRL until now. Just wait until 2007. NASCAR will be King and the IRL will be looking for a way out of their contract early.

Insight into '07 NASCAR TV contract Insight into '07 NASCAR TV contractFor some insight into the thinking that went on with the new NASCAR TV contract, here is an interview with:
Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO
Jim Hunter, NASCAR Vice President for Corporate Communications
Dick Glover, NASCAR Vice President for Broadcast and New Media
Hunter Nickell, SPEED Channel President
Ed Goren, FOX Sports President
David Levy, Turner Sports President
George Bodenheimer, ESPN and ABC Sports President and Co-Chairman of Disney
John Wildhack, ESPN Senior Vice President, Programming Acquisitions and Strategy
NASCAR fan Bubbaese test NASCAR fan Bubbaese testTo find out how much Southern blood your speech shows, simply choose the words you use in this test, then press "Compute My Score!" at the end. The Alpha Dictionary will compute your score and tell you where you're coming from: are you (all) speaking Bubbaese (NASCAR fans are referred to as Bubbas by many) or are you(se) a Yankee Doodle Dandy? The higher your score, the deeper from the South you are coming.  Take the simple test
Resurrected Champ Car series running smoothly Resurrected Champ Car series running smoothlyThis Monterey Herald article talks about the turnaround the Champ Car series has made since its resurrection from bankruptcy.  Two years ago around this time, a great number of people doubted there would be a Champ Car World Series season in 2004. Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) had filed bankruptcy, car counts were down leaving doubts the grid could be filled and the Indy Racing League ruled the roost of open-wheel racing.

Open Wheel Racing Series, LLC -- formed during the 2003 season by business tycoons Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi -- rode to the rescue, foiled an 11th-hour bid by IRL founder Tony George to purchase the assets of CART and resurrected Champ Car.

Now the pendulum appears to be swinging toward the Champ Car World Series. Bridgestone's (tires) and Ford's (motors engineered by Cosworth) commitment to the series has helped stabilize Champ Car. Previously, and again in 2006, Lola and Reynard have supplied approved chassis. That will change in 2007 when Champ Car will go with a single chassis manufacturer, Elan Motorsports Technology, which is building the Panoz DP01 for use in '07 by all the teams.

For the first time since the last year of CART, Champ Car released its schedule for the following season ('06) prior to the end of the current ('05) -- a further sign of stability.

There is also confidence that all the teams will be back next year, putting 18 cars on the grid once again, and Champ Car driver Jimmy Vasser said a couple of weeks ago that there should be an additional two cars competing next season.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Road America were dropped from the 2005 schedule because of the dismal attendance at both venues and new events at Edmonton, Canada (an airport course) and San Jose (a street course) were added and both were instant hits.

In 2006, Road America is back in the fold in a new relationship with Champ Car that both feel will turn the race around on the fabled road course. In keeping with its trend toward urban festivals, a street race in Houston has been added for '06. One scheduling black eye has been the South Korea race, which has twice been announced, then canceled during the season. It's back on for '06.  More at Monterey Herald

Industry news
UAW announces tentative deal with Ford on health care UAW announces tentative deal with Ford on health careThe United Auto Workers on Saturday announced it has reached a tentative agreement on health care costs with Ford Motor Co. that the union said will require "sacrifices" from workers and retirees.
Details of the agreement were being withheld ahead of a meeting of the UAW-Ford Council next week in Detroit, the union said. The agreement is subject to ratification by active members and court approval.

Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans said the nation's No. 2 automaker didn't plan to comment on the negotiations.

Last month, General Motors Corp. got some relief from its spiraling health care costs as UAW members agreed to pay more of their health costs. The world's biggest automaker had asked the UAW for the concessions this spring as health care costs rose and it lost U.S. market share to Asian competitors.

"Like the UAW-GM health care agreement, this tentative agreement asks every UAW member, active and retired, to make sacrifices so that everyone can continue to receive excellent health care coverage today and in the future," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and Gerald Bantom, who is in charge of negotiations with Ford, said in a statement.

The union leaders said they believe the agreement with Dearborn-based Ford meets their goal of providing the best possible health care coverage and the strongest possible long-term protections for workers, retirees and surviving spouses.

"UAW-Ford workers and retirees have long enjoyed some of the best health care coverage of any industrial workers in America, and they will continue to do so under this agreement," Gettelfinger and Bantom said. More at Detroit Free Press

Gene leads wet tire testing in Spain Gene leads wet tire testing in SpainFifth day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit, in southern Spain. Once again today, Marc Gene was on track, at the wheel of an F2004 M, working on the development of Bridgestone wet weather tires. The Spanish test driver covered a total of 66 laps, setting a fastest time of 1.30.078.

Ferrari resumes testing on Tuesday, still at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit, with Felipe Massa and Marc Gene on track.

Today's Times:
1. Marc Gene - Ferrari - 1:30.078
2. Ricardo Zonta - Toyota - 1:30.212
3. Nico Rosberg - Williams - 1:30.439
4. Christijan Albers - MF1 Racing - 1:32.373

A1 Grand Prix
A1GP just spinning its wheels A1GP just spinning its wheelsUPDATE As can be seen in the photo below right taken Sunday at the start of the feature race, hardly any fans showed up to watch in Dubai, this the home race for series boss Sheikh Maktoum. It just underscores the fact that without any local drivers to cheer for, Dubai fans are not going to show up and watch unknown drivers circulate around a track.  This isn't F1.  

12/10/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I can't find tomorrow's A1 Grand Prix race from Dubai on any TV listings. Now that it is on OLN, when will it be shown? Also, I caught the taped delayed one from Estoril tonight. The cars look slow and where were all the fans? Danny Petito, Brooklyn, NY

Dear Danny, The Dubai race will be tape delayed until next weekend we believe. As for the lack of fans, they don't have many. Why? Because the teams keep rotating drivers in and out. As someone recently noted to me, it reminds them of the folly of one old singing group (Menudo) where the singers were changed when they reached 16 yrs old to have an eternal band. Well people are drawn to personalities not concepts and this idea failed miserably. If they keep changing rosters on A1GP then who are people going to root for? Sure there's something about rooting for the country but this series is not enough to just root for a faceless cause.  The drivers must not rotate out all the time.

NASCAR learned long ago, while it's nice to pit Ford against Chevy against Dodge, in the end, it's the fan's attraction to the drivers and their personalities that count. As in any sport, the 'heroes', i.e. the best athletes attracts fans and these athletes must stay in the sport for many years. One of the strategy's used to kill off CART was to lore away all its big name drivers away with money.

Until Champ Car realizes that they have to keep their best and most popular drivers, and not rotate them out with the next ride buyer that comes along, they too will continue to draw flies at places like Milwaukee, Las Vegas, etc. That is why the IRL did so well with Danica Patrick. She became an overnight household name, and bingo, their attendance and TV ratings went up. Even though she didn't win a race despite her massive weight advantage, the IRL was able to capitalize on her popularity with the fans. As NASCAR says, It's the drivers stupid.

If Champ Car thinks it's going to build up a big fan following with successful 3-day street festivals, they are seriously mistaken. Sure the races must be money-makers, and in that regard the festivals work, but Champ Car has yet to figure out how to convert those 'festival fans' into 'real fans.' Hence until they do that its TV ratings on SPEED will remain atrocious.

Ditto for ALMS, A1 Grand Prix, etc. I don't care if you have many manufacturers (ALMS), or a Team/Country concept (A1GP). Without a parallel strategy to build a fan following on the backs of the drivers, they will simply be spinning their wheels. Mark C.

Champ Car featured in United Airlines Magazine Champ Car featured in United Airlines MagazineFinally Champ Car is quietly beginning to make itself known in various publications. It just needs to do 100 times more.

Insight San Jose - Culture for Success

On a 1.6-mile circuit in the middle of downtown San Jose, boldly colored, high-performance racing machines zoomed up and down tree-lined boulevards at speeds approaching 180 mph. The high-pitched whine of the engines echoing off nearby buildings and buzzing through the palm trees sent a whirlwind of excitement across San Jose.

City officials and race promoters were thrilled with the more than 150,000 fans who lined sidewalks and filled grandstands for the inaugural Taylor Woodrow San Jose Grand Prix in late July. This newest stop on the Champ Car World Series featured 18 international world-class drivers, including homegrown heroes Jimmy Vasser and A.J. Allmendinger. Frenchman Sébastien Bourdais steered his way to a third Champ Car season victory, but as the three-day festival came to a close, everyone was a winner. More at United Airlines Hemisphere Magazine

NASCAR a distant 4th in USA sports NASCAR a distant 4th in USA sportsRound and round NASCAR goes and where it stops in the rights fee game . . .

How about fourth place among the major professional sports? The new NASCAR television deal with Fox, ABC, ESPN and TNT is worth a healthy $560 million a year through 2014.

The undisputed champion, however, is the NFL. It's at $3.74 billion a season beginning in 2006.

And there's more to come. When the sale of the Thursday/Sunday eight-game, second-half package is announced, the NFL will go over $4 billion a season. Of course, the league could choose to keep those eight games for itself and build the value of NFL Network.

The NBA is No. 2 in network rights fees at $767 million per year through 2008. Major League Baseball is chugging along at $713 million per season. It has a new deal with ESPN for 2006-2013. Should Fox, whose deal expires after the 2006 season, ante up a percentage increase similar to what ESPN paid, baseball will leapfrog the NBA for at least a couple of seasons and crack $1.1 billion.

NASCAR did well for itself, increasing its annual TV take by about 40 percent from $400 million.

Left out in the cold, of course, is the NHL, whose deals with NBC and OLN are valued at $68 million.

Here's another way of looking at the rights fee fortunes: The latest deals in place for the NBA, Major League Baseball, NASCAR and the NHL combined, total $2.11 billion a season. That's a whopping $1.63 billion behind the NFL deal that begins next season.  More at Mercury News

Increased TV coverage for ARCA series Increased TV coverage for ARCA seriesAs a preamble to the 53rd annual ARCA RE/MAX Series national championship awards banquet at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, several key announcements took center stage during the annual series press conference in Covington, Kentucky Saturday afternoon.

SPEED Channel Increases Coverage to 15 Events

SPEED Channel, the worldwide leader in motorsports television coverage, has increased its coverage of ARCA RE/MAX Series races in 2006 to 15 events, each scheduled for live or same-day delayed broadcast.

2006 broadcast coverage of the ARCA RE/MAX Series will begin on Saturday afternoon, February 11th at Daytona Int’l Speedway, with live, flag to flag coverage of the 43rd annual Daytona ARCA 200 season opener.

In addition to Daytona, events scheduled for coverage in ’06 include both at Nashville Superspeedway on April 15 and August 12, both at Michigan Int’l Speedway on June 16 and August 18, both at Toledo Speedway on May 21 and September 1 and both at Pocono Raceway on June 10 and July 22. Kansas Speedway on July 1, Kentucky Speedway on July 7, Gateway Int’l Raceway on July 28, Chicagoland Speedway on September 9, Talladega Superspeedway on October 6 and the season finale at the new Iowa Speedway on October 15 will round out the remaining broadcast schedule. zzzz

Team Announcements:

Seven-time ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel announced that the National Pork Board would become the primary sponsor on his #46 Tri-State Motorsports Ford entries for 2006. Kimmel also unveiled a new look for 2006, which featured his #46 car with a new, predominantly blue paint scheme rather than the familiar bright orange.

Brewco Motorsports, which fields NASCAR Busch Series teams for David Green and Greg Biffle, has announced plans to run rookie Brad Coleman in at least 10 ARCA RE/MAX Series races in 2006 beginning with the RE/MAX Series race at Nashville Superspeedway on April 15. Coleman, who turns 18 a few days after the season-opening Daytona ARCA 200 in February, will also compete in a yet-to-be-determined number of Busch races in 2006. Coleman already has an impressive resume competing in karts, open-wheel cars and sports cars including a run in last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran driver Mark Gibson announced that he would step aside as the fulltime driver of his #59 Williams Bros Lumber Chevrolet in favor of Tipp City, Ohio native Ryan Howard, who will drive the car fulltime in 2006. Gibson, who has 303 career RE/MAX Series starts, also said he would drive a second team car in selected events. “Ryan’s going to run the whole schedule for us,” said Gibson. “I’m going to run the two dirt races for sure, maybe more. I could run anywhere from two to 11 races. We’re also proud to announce that Williams Bros Lumber will be returning as primary sponsor on the 59 car.”

Hardcore Motorsports and driver Stan Boyd announced plans to run the full 2006 ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule with a mix of 2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlos and 2005 Dodge Chargers. It was also announced that Keith Montgomery would serve as the team’s crew chief. Additionally, drivers Jason Hedlesky and rookie Nick Clement are both expected to drive in second Hardcore Motorsports entries on a part-time basis in 2006. Hardcore Motorsports fielded cars in 2005 for 2003 ARCA RE/MAX Rookie of the Year Bill Eversole.

Hagans Racing announced that New York native Donny Lia would drive the #9 Hagans Racing Dodge in at least eight ARCA RE/MAX Series races in 2006. Lia, 25, comes to Hagans Racing after a successful three-year stint in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour where he was the 2003 Rookie of the Year. He won a race in both his rookie and sophomore seasons and added two more victories in 2005. In addition, Lia has won some of the top unsanctioned Modified races in the country, including the 2004 North vs. South Shootout in North Carolina and the $10,000 outlaw modified race in Massachusetts. Hagans fielded Dodges for RE/MAX Rookie of the Year Joey Miller in 2005 and finished second in overall points.

Evernham Motorsports and General Mills have announced a well-balanced 2006 schedule for up-and-coming driver Erin Crocker, including a healthy mix of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Busch Series and ARCA RE/MAX Series races in which she will carry the Cheerios and Betty Crocker banners. Crocker is scheduled to race in seven 2006 ARCA RE/MAX Series races. She earned two poles, three top fives and four top 10s in just five ARCA RE/MAX Series races this season for Evernham Motorsports.

BlackJack Racing and driver Dexter Bean announced plans to run the full 2006 ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule and will contend for Rookie of the Year honors. Bean, of Westby, Wisconsin, made four RE/MAX Series starts in 2005 posting two top-10 finishes including a career-best ninth at Michigan Int’l Speedway where he also led five laps. Chris Bires will serve as crew chief for the team. The team, utilizing Chevrolets, is still in search of sponsorship.

Holly, Michigan driver Howard Bixman is gearing up to run eight to 13 ARCA RE/MAX Series superspeedway races in 2006 with primary sponsorship from a national brand marketing partner. Bixman will field his own Fords powered by Yates-Roush engines and crew-chiefed by Jim Pearce.

NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader will compete in at least three ARCA RE/MAX Series events in 2006 at Salem Speedway on April 23, Toledo Speedway on May 21 and the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds on September 4. Schrader, in 39 career RE/MAX Series starts since 1981, has 12 victories and 12 Pork Pole awards among 25 top-5 and 28 top-10 finishes. He has also led 1,490 laps in 23 races.

Series Announcements

DODGE PACE VEHICLE: Officials from the ARCA RE/MAX Series announced that Dodge, and the Dodge Charger, have been named the Official Pace Vehicle of the ARCA RE/MAX Series for the 2006 season. ARCA VP of Marketing & Communications Mark Gundrum unveiled a brand new 2006 Dodge Charger RT during the press conference. (see separate release)

ARCA SAFETY INITIATIVE: ARCA officials announced the formal designation of the ARCA Safety Initiative, a vertically integrated safety program that will take effect beginning with the 2006 racing season. Hardcore Motorsports, a Brighton, Michigan-based high performance parts retail sales company owned by Bill Wells and Nevie Richardson, has signed on as the title sponsor of the program, which will be known as the Hardcore Motorsports ARCA Safety Initiative. The Hardcore Motorsports ARCA Safety Initiative will position a full-time safety director into the ARCA home office in Temperance, Michigan, in the person of eleven-year ARCA race official Marc Williams. Williams’ duties will expand to include coordinating efforts with host speedways’ respective safety teams, as well as working closely with ARCA RE/MAX Series race team personnel and at other ARCA sanctioned racing events. A primary objective of the new Hardcore Motorsports ARCA Safety Initiative will involve information and education, as series officials and supporting entities are planning various seminars and instructional conferences during the course of the year. (see separate release)

NATIONAL PORK BOARD: The National Pork Board will return for a 5th season as an official sponsor of the ARCA RE/MAX Series. The sponsorship includes the continuation of the race-by-race Pork Pole Award ($500 at short tracks, $1,000 at superspeedways), and the Year End Pork Pole Award - upgraded to $10,000 cash for 2006.

A1 Grand Prix
A1GP to try new helicopter rescue system A1GP to try new helicopter rescue systemUPDATE Below are photos of the helicopter rescue operation

Photos courtesy A1 Grand Prix

12/08/05 A1 Grand Prix is set to break new ground yet again by introducing helicopter rescue at the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Dubai, UAE. A mountain rescue helicopter from Switzerland will be experimenting with the removal of crashed or broken down cars from dangerous locations around the circuit. If successful, A1 Recovery may become a permanent feature of the Series.

The Air Zermatt helicopter spends its working life in the vicinity of the Matterhorn where Air Zermatt pioneered sling load work 28 years ago. The 1000bhp lightweight helicopter was freighted to Dubai to demonstrate its superiority over the worldwide standard flatbed truck and show that it could not only clear a car away from a dangerous position faster than a flatbed truck but do so with fewer people.

Pilot Samuel Summermatter is convinced that this is the way to go. “I’m a big fan of cars and racing,” he explained, “but I thought that is was crazy that the cars, their engines and their technology become ever more advanced but the way they are cleared off the track has failed to change in 30 years. So I looked for a series that might be open to new ideas, which is where A1 Grand Prix came in and that’s why I’m here in Dubai.”

Summermatter wowed everyone with his skills and the efficiency of this technique in a highly impressive test, flying low over the stricken car while a marshal on the ground looped a nylon rope through his 50 meter long iron chain, then taking off in less time than it would take a crew of as many as half a dozen rescue workers to perform the same task with a flatbed truck. zzzz

By carrying fuel for only one hour, the weight is kept down to a minimum and this not only keeps it maneuverable but also reduces the amount of downwash onto the car and the rescue crew, something that is particularly important in a dusty setting. Furthermore, a helicopter that produces a lot of downwash also disturbs its own load as it flies away.

Asked whether he’d learned much new in this demonstration, Summermatter laughed and said that he’d done between 50,000 and 60,000 lifts, a figure that he has been able to reach as it’s his fulltime job on a beat that usually includes rescuing cars that have fallen off the side of the mountain roads near Zermatt, carrying concrete blocks up the mountain to construction sites or even working with logging companies. “To be good at this,” he continued, “you have to practice every day. I do and I have been doing so for nearly five years.”

It looks as though the organizers of other racing series will have another reason to watch A1GP with interest.

A1 Grand Prix
Jani gives Swiss team first win Jani gives Swiss team first winA1 Team Switzerland took their first win of the season, ending France’s eight race run and putting them on pole for this afternoon’s Feature race. Driver Neel Jani was joined on the podium by Italy and the Czech Republic who benefited from an unusual mistake by the French team which saw Nicolas Lapierre slip down to finish in seventh.

Winning his first A1 Grand Prix race Neel Jani said: ‘It was a great result, but the big race is to come, it’s not over yet. I managed to get a really good start.’ Asked if he thought he could continue the tradition of winning the Feature as well as the Sprint race, Jani commented: ‘Of course I hope we can win, I’ll try my best and see what the outcome is’.

It was another action-packed start for an A1 Grand Prix race with pole-sitter A1 Team Switzerland leading into the first corner. Following was A1 Team Ireland, A1 Team Brazil and A1 Team Great Britain with France in a very unfamiliar fifth having gone wide and lost ground. Not everyone made the first corner cleanly with the first casualty being A1 Team Germany who had to pit at the end of lap one for a new nose cone. More.....

Industry news
Delphi to pay board members Delphi to pay board membersDelphi Corp. will now pay the 12 members on its board of directors in cash -- $140,000 to $200,000 a year -- since it no longer makes sense to continue paying all, or at least half, of their salary in stock.

Shares in the nation's largest maker of auto parts have been essentially worthless since the board took the Troy-based company into bankruptcy Oct. 8.

"The board felt the current plan was no longer appropriate," spokeswoman Claudia Piccinin said Friday, after the change was announced in documents filed with the federal government.

But Delphi's blue-collar workers, who are threatening to strike over the company's plan to eliminate 24,000 of their 34,000 jobs and cut the pay for those who remain by more than half, may see the change as yet another example of their leaders taking care of themselves. More at Detroit Free Press

McLaren racking up miles in Spain McLaren racking up miles in SpainAlex Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa were at the wheel today for Team McLaren Mercedes' final and fourth day of this week's test. Pedro, who was running with a power reduced V10 engine, set the second fastest time of the day with a 1m19.536. Alex was fifth on the timesheets, with a 1m20.217.

"It has been a productive week in Jerez, with myself, Alex and Gary completing in four days over 2,800kms,” said Pedro. “My work yesterday and today has focused on tire comparison with Michelin, as I have been running a V10 engine, and we have gathered valuable data. I am looking forward to the test next week where we can continue the good progress before breaking for Christmas."

With near perfect weather conditions at the Jerez circuit in Spain, the team have completed a successful week in the intensive development program for the new McLaren Mercedes MP4-21. Work for Alex Wurz, Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett during the four days of the test focused on engine evaluation and Michelin tire work in their MP4-20B interim cars. During this four day test the drivers completed 636 laps, which equates to more than 2,800kms. zzzz

Alex had an accident on Thursday which caused some damage to his car, which was repaired by the team over four hours and the Austrian returned to the track. In the afternoon on Thursday, both Gary and Alex had engine failures. Gary's led to his rear wheels locking on the main straight and saw the car spin backwards into a wall causing significant damage to the rear of the car.

"The last two days of testing for me have gone well; only today I covered 500kms with the Mercedes-Benz V8 engine,” said Alex. “We have finished our planned program on both days and have some positive feedback concerning the overall development program. After my incident Tuesday was not a perfect day for myself and the team, as we didn't get in as much running as we would have hoped, but it still has been a good week with lots of laps."

Alex and Pedro were both present for three days and completed 988 and 1,216kms in total respectively. Gary was on track for two days and completed approximately 600kms.

"It was great to put in another two days of testing with Team McLaren Mercedes this week,” Gary said. “I completed in two days over 600kms in the MP4-20B and more than 300km the at one day the week before in Barcelona, which in addition to working on the development program with the team, has continued to provide me with more Formula One experience."

Team McLaren Mercedes will remain at the Circuito de Jerez for the final test before the Christmas break next week, which begins on Tuesday 13th and lasts for three days. Pedro will be joined in Spain by Juan Pablo. During the test sessions in Barcelona starting November 28, and the four days in Jerez, the team accumulated some 3,200kms on their new V8 engine.

ALMS Porsche drivers dominate in Porsche Cup ALMS Porsche drivers dominate in Porsche CupEight Porsche drivers who regularly competed in the American Le Mans Series in 2005 were among the top 10 finishers in the 2005 Porsche Cup, announced Saturday at the manufacturer's annual banquet in Weissach, Germany. Tim Sugden, who drove for J3 Racing in the series' GT2 class, won the annual award that goes to the top private Porsche driver.

The 41-year-old Sugden, a resident of Great Britain, finished sixth in the American Le Mans Series' GT2 drivers championship standings. He finished second - with Nic Jonnson - at the 53rd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in the No. 79 J3 Racing Porsche. Sugden and Justin Jackson were third in class at Mid-Ohio, the third round of the American Le Mans Series.

Sugden also finished second in the FIA GT Championship's GT2 drivers standings. He and Emmanuel Collard won five times in Europe.

Patrick Long, who won the American Le Mans Series' GT2 drivers championship with Jorg Bergmeister for Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, was second in the Porsche Cup standings. He was only a few points ahead of Bergmeister, who was third. zzzz

The two won the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans, along with three other GT2 races during the 2005 season. They finished off of the class podium just once in 10 races. Long, who will be a third driver in one of Penske Racing's Porsche RS Spyders in LMP2 next year, and Bergmeister also finished second in GT2 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Wolf Henzler was the next highest-finishing driver from the American Le Mans Series. The German was sixth in the Porsche Cup after competing in the last half of the series with BAM! in its No. 43 Porsche. Henzler, who teamed with Mike Rockenfeller, finished fourth in the American Le Mans Series' GT2 drivers championship. He and Rockenfeller finished second in class at Portland and third at Infineon, Mosport and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Other American Le Mans Series drivers who finished in the Porsche Cup's top 10 standings include Johannes van Overbeek (seventh), Rockenfeller (eighth), Jon Fogarty (ninth) and Darren Law (10th).

The American Le Mans Series opens the 2006 season with the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, scheduled for March 18 on SPEED Channel. Series teams will have the opportunity to test at the second annual Wheels Down Winter Test from Jan. 23-25 at Sebring International Raceway. ALMS

Ferrari’s fourth day of testing Ferrari’s fourth day of testingFourth day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari, at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit, in southern Spain. Once again today, Marc Gene was on track, at the wheel of an F2004M, working on development of the new V8 engine in collaboration with Shell, while also looking at development of the Bridgestone tires. The Spanish test driver covered a total of 112 laps, the quickest in a time of 1.20.232. The Scuderia continues testing tomorrow, again with Gene driving. Source Ferrari
Bridgestone: 'We are not making direct comparisons' Bridgestone: 'We are not making direct comparisons'Bridgestone Motorsport has been testing this week for the first time with all four of its F1 teams for 2006: Scuderia Ferrari, MF1 Racing, Panasonic Toyota Racing and WilliamsF1.

For the two newcomers to Bridgestone, Toyota and WilliamsF1, the test at the Spanish circuit of Jerez has provided them with their first opportunity to run Bridgestone development tire test programs, having used the previous Barcelona test to learn how their cars and tires work together and to establish a baseline for car set-ups.

Bridgestone Motorsport Test Operations Manager Kaz Hamamura commented today: “This week signifies the real start to our winter test program. Having all four teams working alongside each other at the same venue and running similar tire test programs is an important point for us. They are all working through their programs of the same Bridgestone tire constructions and compounds and once we have completed the test, at the end of next week, we should have a good idea of the overall development direction for the next phase of the program.”

While Bridgestone’s teams will all test the same tires, Hamamura is aware that making direct comparisons between the teams is unwise. Elaborating, he said: “We are not making direct comparisons because the teams are running a mix of new, interim and old chassis and different specification engines too. So our main aim is to focus on tire performance and not a comparison of lap times.”

“We are systematically working through our tire programs with each team and although we cannot draw any conclusions until the end of next week, we have some good early indications on both the construction and compound side. However, it is important that we keep cross referencing our data so that we can gradually begin the process of accurately refining our tire selection. The teams have been disturbed by quite a high number of red flag periods but we have been helped by the good weather this week, giving us consistency of data.”

Hamamura concluded that: “There is a lot of work to do yet but we are also looking forward to conducting our first simulated wet weather test on Sunday as wet tire development is just as important as dry tire development. We did have some rain in Barcelona but it was too cold so Sunday will be our first proper wet tire evaluation opportunity with all four teams.”

Test Dates
Three of Bridgestone’s teams (Ferrari, MF1 Racing and Toyota) will continue the winter test program Saturday, before also being joined by WilliamsF1 on Sunday for a Bridgestone wet tire test.

Ferrari and Toyota will resume testing activities at Jerez on Tuesday (December 13) with Ferrari due to run for four days and Toyota three days. WilliamsF1 will also run for three days from Wednesday (December 14) to Friday. Bridgestone Motorsport

Villeneuve sets the pace at Jerez Villeneuve sets the pace at JerezTen drivers were in action today at Jerez for this week’s final day of testing at the Spanish circuit. Jacques Villeneuve was the fastest driver today, setting an impressive time of 1’18”752 at the wheel of his C24B, powered by a BMW V8 engine.

It was a productive final day of testing with Villeneuve running the best lap time of the day. The Sauber C24B with the BMW P86 V8 engine worked well and without problems all day long.

The engineers concentrated on a tire test program for Michelin and gathered more data on the BMW P86 V8. The engine ran flawlessly, and reached its mileage around noon and therefore needed to be changed. The crew continued testing later in the afternoon.

1. Jacques Villeneuve (BMW Sauber) 1.18.752 - 101 laps
2. Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren) 1.19.533 - 94 laps
3. Ricardo Zonta (Toyota) 1.19.805 - 60 laps
4. Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 1.19.870 - 77 laps
5. Alex Wurz (McLAREN) 1.20.219 - 111 laps
6. Marc Gene (Ferrari) 1.20.246 - 111 laps
7. Markus Winkelhock (MF1) 1.20.856 - 52 laps
8. Roman Rusinov (MF1) 1.21.990 - 29 laps
9. Christijan Albers (MF1 1.22.683 - 25 laps
10. Fabrizio del Monte (MF1) 1.24.350 - 27 laps

Kasemets to test Champ Car Kasemets to test Champ CarIt was only one year ago to the day, that Tonis Kasemets (pictured right) took his first laps in an 800 horsepowered Lola Champ Car at Sebring International Raceway.   The date:  December 14th, 2004; in one of Dale Coyne’s Lola-Cosworths.  

This Wednesday, December 14th, Kasemets fires up another Lola Cosworth on the Sebring short course once again, this time in one of the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Lolas.  Tonis sends his “thanks” to Eric Bachelart “who made this possible.”  

"We are looking forward to having Tonis test with us," said Mi-Jack Conquest Racing co-owner Eric Bachelart. "He showed in Atlantics this season that he is a winner, and he should be up to speed quickly in a Champ Car. Tonis has shown great maturity and determination in his career, and it is good to have so many Atlantic drivers getting to experience a Champ Car."

Tonis isn’t looking for just any ride in Champ Car, he wants to be with a top team.  Even with a couple of unexpected disappointments during the 2005 Atlantic Season, he still managed to finish 2nd in the Championship.  “I’m confident, I belong in Champ Car.  All I need is that one chance to prove to those who’ve always believed in me… that I CAN finish up front.  The fans support has become… totally amazing and unexpected.  Without those who attended every event early, to catch my Atlantic races, I’d probably given up on my dreams by now... but those Champ Car fans have literally kept me going on some days.  When I see them shed a tear over a mishap I’ve had, that touches me deeply.  I must stay in this for them.  This is not just my ‘dream’ any longer.  It’s bigger than that now.”

Truex collects over $3 million as Busch champion Truex collects over $3 million as Busch championMartin Truex Jr., the 2005 NASCAR Busch Series driver champion, will receive a series single-season record payout of $3,123,692. Truex collected over $1.5 million in race winnings ($1,596,404) as well as his share of the series point fund ($1,433,288).

The series’ $7.1 million point fund includes a record $3.7 million contribution from series sponsor Anheuser-Busch. Anheuser-Busch’s commitment to the NASCAR Busch Series will increase again for the 2006 season, exceeding $4 million.

Truex is the first driver in the 24-year history of the series to total over $3 million, and bettered the previous single-season winnings mark he set last year ($2,537,171). In 84 career series starts, Truex has totaled $5,907,470, the most for a driver with so few starts and seventh all-time. zzzz

The balance of Truex’s total – $114,000 – comes via various contingency awards which include: the Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award ($20,000), the Goody’s Headache Powder Award ($5,000), the Goodyear Tire Award ($20,000), the Mobil 1 Command Performance Award ($20,000), the MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award ($16,500), the Sunoco Diamond Performance Award ($12,500) and the WIX Filters Lap Leader Award ($20,000).

In addition to Truex’s record mark in 2005:

Series runner-up Clint Bowyer nearly joined Truex in the $3 million club, earning $2,831,236, a record amount for second place.  A series record 17 drivers exceeded $1 million in winnings this year, including a record three Raybestos Rookies (Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Reed Sorenson).

Jason Keller’s total payout of $1,074,447 builds on his title as the NASCAR Busch Series’ all-time leading money winner with a career total of $10,470,071. He is the first driver in series history to surpass $9 and now $10 million.
The series’ largest-ever purse was paid at Daytona last February – $2,412,152.

Final Race Point Post Race Post Race Career

Pos Driver Winnings Fund Bonus Awards Earnings
1 MARTIN TRUEX JR. $1,596,404 $1,433,288 $3,123,692
$20,000 Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award 
 5,000 Goody’s Headache Powder Award
 20,000 Goodyear Tires
 16,500 MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award
 20,000 Mobil 1 Command Performance Award
 12,500 Sunoco Diamond Performance Award
 20,000 WIX Filters Lap Leaders Award
2 CLINT BOWYER 1,397,948 716,644 2,831,236
3 CARL EDWARDS 1,074,477 635,305 30,000 Busch Pole Award 1,739,782
 20,000 Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award
4 REED SORENSON 1,298,527 501,651 1,800,178
5 DENNY HAMLIN 1,064,212 429,986 1,494,198
6 PAUL MENARD 952,238 358,322 1,310,560
7 KENNY WALLACE 971,010 304,574 1,275,584
8 DAVID GREEN 1,004,809 247,242 1,252,051
9 JASON KELLER 848,734 225,743 1,074,477
10 GREG BIFFLE 911,643 300,632 1,212,275
11 J.J.YELEY 888,064 193,494 1,081,558
12 JOHNNY SAUTER 1,050,181 190,699 20,000 Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award 1,260,880
13 DAVID STREMME 903,527 182,744 1,086,271
14 ASHTON LEWIS 1,027,087 171,995 1,199,082
15 JON WOOD 851,496 164,828 1,016,324
16 STACY COMPTON 802,786 157,662 960,448
17 JUSTIN LABONTE 989,494 82,414 1,071,908
18 KEVIN HARVICK 844,293 242,226 1,086,519
19 RANDY LAJOIE 683,370 75,248 758,618
20 TONY RAINES 518,887 139,387 658,274
27 AARON FIKE 453,613 50,165 503,778
30 JASON LEFFLER 359,282 41,601 400,883
36 JAMIE MCMURRAY 290,770 32,966 323,736
39 TONY STEWART 317,754 30,099 347,853
40 MIKE WALLACE 274,166 4,945 279,111
42 SHANE HMIEL 308,171 35,796 343,967
46 JEREMY MAYFIELD 252,733 21,428 274,161
48 BRANDON MILLER 234,456 91,730 326,186
57 RON HORNADAY JR. 161,666 13,867 175,533
58 JEFF BURTON 105,760 31,532 137,292
59 BILL ELLIOTT 117,390 6,593 123,983
61 RUSTY WALLACE 134,473 14,010 148,483
82 JORGE GOETERS 79,845 13,330 93,175
92 BORIS SAID 61,635 2,795 64,430
105 STEVE WALLACE 19,900 2,472 22,372
109 HANK PARKER JR. 17,635 9,675 27,310
110 BURNEY LAMAR 39,625 6,450 46,075
113 CHAD BLOUNT 19,875 2,902 22,777
 $7,166,440 $30,955,020
TOTALS $21,331,532 $12,899,592 $58,786,348

Briscoe fastest Toyota driver Briscoe fastest Toyota driverPanasonic Toyota Racing today completed the last day of this week's test program at Jerez. Jarno Trulli and Ricardo Zonta were at the wheel for work on set-up and on the team's new Bridgestone tires. Both had productive days, putting in a lot of laps and collecting useful data. Ricardo will return to action tomorrow to take part in a wet tire test for Bridgestone. Toyota is also scheduled to test here at Jerez from Tuesday to Thursday next week (December 13-15) in its final outing of 2005.

Ryan Briscoe (Best lap 1m19.563s, total laps 143)
Jarno Trulli (Best lap 1m19.670s, total laps 225)
Ricardo Zonta (Best lap 1m19.805s, total laps 120)
Ralf Schumacher (Best lap 1m20.454s, total laps 65)
Saturday F1 news roundup Saturday F1 news roundupPlanned changes to F1's technical regulations were ratified by the world motor sport council in Monaco on Friday.

A statement said the sport's governing body intends to 'reduce drastically' the cost of competing in 2008 and beyond, and to change aerodynamics to enhance passing.

''Detailed regulations will be finalised in the week commencing 19 December,'' it added.

The regulations will include a standard ECU, long life components, a single tyre supplier, bodywork restrictions, rev-limited engines 'and other measures'.

Then, on Friday evening, Fernando Alonso and Flavio Briatore collected their drivers' and constructors' title trophies at Monaco's Sporting d'Ete. ''I hope to come back on this stage many times in the future,'' said Spain's 24-year-old Alonso.

''I have achieved my ambition and I need to find new challenges. 2006 will be one of them.''

Elsewhere, it is reported that - after Toyota - Red Bull will become the second team to test their '06 racer.

David Coulthard is to roll out the Ferrari-powered 'RB2' at Silverstone next Friday.
Williams Cosworth fast so far Williams Cosworth fast so farWilliams has been testing this week with the Cosworth V8 engine in the back of its interim FW27C car. Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of any driver in a V8 powered car on Friday, giving the team something to smile about. "We've again made good progress with all the mechanical components and systems checks on the interim FW27C, while Bridgestone have also moved forward since last week's test in Barcelona," said WilliamsF1 technical director Sam Michael. "On Sunday, we will be running a wet tire test before returning to a normal program on Wednesday."

Simon Corbyn, head of F1 race engineering at Cosworth added, "These initial track tests with the interim FW27C chassis are invaluable to Cosworth in terms of identifying any engine, chassis integration and operational problems. As a result of this week's track running, we've added some jobs to our lists and we're now working through them. We have not yet identified any fundamental engine problems and we're making good progress with the new CA2006 V8 in partnership with WilliamsF1."

A1 Grand Prix
Seen in Dubai Seen in DubaiFormer F1 greats were in abundance at the Dubai Autodrome today.  (L to R) Emerson Fittipaldi (BRA) A1 Team Brazil Co-Seat Holder,  Niki Lauda (AUST) Alan Jones (AUS), John Surtees (GBR) A1 Team Great Britain Chairman and Keke Rosberg (FIN).  Photos Courtesy A1 Grand Prix.
A1 Grand Prix
Switzerland team pips France for pole in Dubai Switzerland team pips France for pole in DubaiA1 Team Switzerland has taken pole position for tomorrow's Sprint race at the Dubai Autodrome which threatens to end France's eight race dominance on the top of the podium. After securing pole for the Sprint race at the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Malaysia but just missing out on a win after a 15-lap battle with France, driver Neel Jani (pictured right) is keen to turn things around this weekend. 'We finally got the car as we wanted today and I didn't make any mistakes. We got it all together for qualifying. However, I was on pole in Malaysia but it didn't work out so I'll have to wait and see how it works out in the race tomorrow.' Asked if he thought he could win the sprint race tomorrow, Jani said 'I hope I'm able to give myself a birthday present but for sure it will be very difficult,' he said.

The result came as Switzerland put in the fastest lap time of the session in the fourth segment (1.45.926) after an exciting start to the afternoon's track action. The Mexican car left the track and crashed heavily just minutes into the first segment causing a red flag which meant only A1 Teams USA, India, Australia and Lebanon finished their flying lap. The bad luck continued into segment two for France who failed to record a flying lap time after brake problems saw them go wide and leave the track. However with the skill and determination shown over the season to date, France fought back securing second place on the grid. A1 Team France driver, Nicolas Lapierre said: 'It was very difficult today. The first session was red flagged and we had problems with the brakes in the second after the drive shaft broke this morning. Then we had to put in two safe laps in qualifying segments three and four. It wasn't a great time, but at least we are starting on the first row. I'm quite happy, but I have to make no mistakes tomorrow and there will be a lot of pressure. I'm a little disappointed really, as we could have been faster.'

The close times seen in the morning's official practice sessions continued into the afternoon with A1 Team Ireland taking third place on the grid with a lead of just one hundredth of a second on A1 Team Brazil. A1 Team Ireland driver, Ralph Firman said: 'We've had a good couple of days and have progressed well. I was very disappointed with the first session, as we weren't able to go out. We are near the front for the sprint race at least. The first session was very slippery, but by the end it was fine. Hopefully we will be quick in the race tomorrow.'

A1 Grand Prix reached another milestone today when its 3.4 liter V8 power unit notched up 100,000 mile without a single engine failure. It was A1 Team South Africa's Stephen Simpson who broke through the 100,000 barrier in this morning's third official practice session.

 A1 Team Driver Aggregate Time
1 Switzerland Neel Jani 3.31.918
2 France Nicolas Lapierre 3.32.551
3 Ireland Ralph Firman 3.32.626
4 Brazil Nelson Piquet Jr 3.32.627
5 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 3.32.634
6 Germany Adrian Sutil 3.33.105
7 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 3.33.307
8 Malaysia Alex Yoong 3.33.320
9 Canada Sean McIntosh 3.33.841
10 Portugal Alvaro Parente 3.34.118
11 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 3.34.141
12 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 3.34.233
13 South Africa Stephen Simpson 3.34.252
14 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 3.34.502
15 USA Philip Giebler 3.34.692
16 China Tengyi Jiang 3.34.925
17 New Zealand Matt Halliday 3.34.976
18 India Armaan Ebrahim 3.35.007
19 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 3.35.074
20 Pakistan Adam Khan 3.35.183
21 Austria Mathias Lauda 3.35.981
22 Australia Christian Jones 3.36.276
23 Lebanon Basil Shaaban 3.38.069
24 Mexico Salvador Duran

The Sprint race will be contested over 50 miles lasting up to 30 minutes in duration. With a rolling start at 13.30 local time, tomorrow's race will be run over 15 laps of the 5.39km Dubai Autodrome. The outcome of the race determines the grid position for the Feature race which will start at 15.00 local time with a standing start. The Feature race will be run over 100 miles (30 laps) lasting up to 60 minutes in duration.

TV News
SMI sees new television package positive SMI sees new television package positiveSpeedway Motorsports, Inc.  reacted positively to the details of NASCAR's new eight year, approximately $4.48 billion television package that was announced Wednesday. The agreements run from 2007 through 2014 and provide for the broadcast rights of 36 NEXTEL Cup races and the Busch and Craftsman Truck series events. We understand Fox, ABC/ESPN, TNT and SPEED Channel will carry the events for an average annual rights fee of approximately $560 million - a 40% increase over the current average. The remaining details about the transaction are still under negotiation. "I am excited to see the 40% increase that comes with this new TV deal," said SMI Chairman and CEO Bruton Smith. "In an era where ratings are decreasing for most major league sports and competition is fierce for viewers, this shows the strong and growing value of NASCAR." "This is a positive development for our company and our industry. The 40% increase is a signal that our sport continues to grow. Increased broadcast exposure will increase our marketing opportunities and help us win more fans," said SMI president and chief operating officer H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler. "I'm real happy with the increase of 40% over the current broadcast contracts. A large percentage of our revenues through 2014 will be already contracted. Racing fans will be able to see two thirds of NEXTEL Cup series events on network television with the remaining events on cable. The Busch and Truck series events gain additional exposure as well. Overall, this deal underscores the expanding popularity of the sport." SMI PR
Gordon says he was OK'd to miss banquet Gordon says he was OK'd to miss banquetIn his first public comments since being criticized by NASCAR for failing to attend the year-ending Awards Gala, four-time Cup champ Jeff Gordon fired back Friday, saying NASCAR gave its blessing for Gordon to skip the dinner at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria so he could compete in an all-star race in Paris the following day. Gordon—who was in the Big Apple Friday for a promotional appearance—said that NASCAR initially had no problem with him missing the Champions Week festivities.  “I was in a unique situation where I was 13th or 14th in points, got invited to go over to Paris for that event [the Race of Champions], which I missed out on last year,” Gordon told the Press in an exclusive interview. “I agreed to go, not expecting to be at the banquet for 11th or any other position. And when the conflict came up, I talked to the higher-ups in NASCAR, and they told me, ‘Hey, we understand. You’ve got a commitment and you can’t be here this year.’” Since instituting the top-10 Chase for the Championship two seasons ago, the 11th-place driver has been recognized at the Awards Gala as the highest finishing non-Chase competitor. Gordon’s comments Friday sharply contradict those of NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter, who said Tuesday that that the sanctioning body was “extremely disappointed” in Gordon, along with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and other non-Chase drivers who failed to show.  “I’m pretty disappointed in some of the things that were said,” Gordon said. “I understand that they want to get as many drivers there [as possible], and being a past champion, I want to be there as the champion. But I also want to be there to accept any award that I can.” Long Island Press
WTCC calendar amended WTCC calendar amendedThe Calendar for the 2006 World Touring Car Championship was amended by the FIA as follows:

02-April I  Monza 
30-April F  Magny-Cours
21-May GB  Brands Hatch
04-June D  Oschersleben
02-July BR*  Curitiba**
30-July MEX  Puebla***
03-September CZ  Brno 
24-September TR  Istanbul 
08-October E   Valencia
19-November MO  Macau 

* Subject to the ASN’s approval
** Subject to the FIA homologation of the circuit.
*** Subject to the completion of the modifications required by the safety commission

FIA mandates HANS Device for all categories FIA mandates HANS Device for all categoriesFrom January 1, 2008, an FIA-approved head restraint (HANS) will be mandatory for all drivers and co-drivers in all FIA championships, trophies, cups and challenges. From January 1, 2009 it will be mandatory for entrants in all other events entered on the FIA International Sporting Calendar.  For cars, in which for technical reasons it is considered impracticable to fit the FIA approved head restraint, it will be possible to apply for a waiver to the FIA Safety Commission.
FIA creates new GT3 class FIA creates new GT3 classThe FIA will organize a new series, the FIA GT3 European Championship, starting in 2006. It will be open to non-professional drivers competing in GT cars, which are able to be used legally on an open road and adapted for racing on circuits. The Championship comprises three titles, GT3 European Champion for Drivers, GT3 European Champion for Teams, and GT3 Manufacturers’ Cups for Drivers. It will feature five events in its first season. [Editor's Note: This series is almost the same as the new GT3 class in ALMS, hence making it a worldwide standard. All ALMS classes run to worldwide recognized standards, hence their cars can compete in other series around the world. Contrary to that, the Grand-Am series cars can only be used in Grand-Am. It's a USA-specific standard that may ultimately lead to the series demise, especially if the France family ever decides to pull the plug on their support.]
A1 Grand Prix
Switzerland team tops practice 4 in Dubai Switzerland team tops practice 4 in Dubai
Pos. Team Fastest Gap to 1st. Gap to Prev.
1 SWITZERLAND 1'45.992 - -
2 BRAZIL 1'46.113 +0.252 +0.252
3 GREAT BRITAIN 1'46.201 +0.790 +0.538
4 IRELAND 1'46.459 +1.131 +0.341
5 GERMANY 1'46.489 +1.226 +0.095
6 CZECH REPUBLIC 1'46.539 +1.694 +0.468
7 CANADA 1'46.856 +1.984 +0.290
8 JAPAN 1'46.772 +2.127 +0.143
9 ITALY 1'47.201 +2.484 +0.357
10 MALAYSIA 1'46.934 +2.501 +0.017
11 USA 1'47.312 +2.765 +0.264
12 PAKISTAN 1'47.154 +2.808 +0.043
13 NEW ZEALAND 1'47.569 +2.968 +0.160
14 PORTUGAL 1'47.284 +2.972 +0.004
15 SOUTH AFRICA 1'47.309 +2.980 +0.008
16 NETHERLANDS 1'47.515 +3.288 +0.308
17 INDONESIA 1'47.214 +3.331 +0.043
18 INDIA 1'47.383 +3.332 +0.001
19 AUSTRALIA 1'47.639 +3.901 +0.569
20 CHINA 1'47.547 +5.513 +1.612
21 LEBANON 1'48.373 +5.694 +0.181
22 AUSTRIA 1'48.169 +6.039 +0.345
 FRANCE 1'46.285
 MEXICO 1'48.002
A1 Grand Prix
Lebanon team picks Shabaan over Beschir Lebanon team picks Shabaan over BeschirA1 Team Lebanon, effectively the home team for the A1 Grand Prix of Nations Dubai, arrived at the Dubai Autodrome undecided which of its two drivers it would put forward to contest the races. After the first day of testing and practice, though, Basil Shabaan has been selected ahead of compatriot Khalil Beschir.

Shabaan proved the faster of the two and is very much looking forward to racing in front of an Arab crowd for the first time in his racing career. “I always give 100% in the cockpit,” explained the proud driver, “but I’m sure that having the honor to race on home ground will give me an extra boost.”

Beschir’s natural cheeriness has masked his disappointment at not being selected, but he also acknowledged that his right wrist isn’t yet back up to strength following the injury he suffered in a clash last time out in Malaysia. “My wrist didn’t hurt when I was driving,” he said, “but it swelled up like mad afterwards, so I guess that it still needs more rest.

The A1 Team Lebanon car has been adorned for this meeting with the flags of the 11 other Arab nations on top of its regular red and white livery with the green cedar tree on its engine cover.

A1 Grand Prix
Scalextric to produce A1GP set Scalextric to produce A1GP setThe young and the young at heart are in for a treat as A1 Grand Prix has signed a deal with Hornby for an A1GP Scalextric set. The slot car racing kit will come with a choice of cars, one representing each of the 25 nations taking part in the inaugural A1 Grand Prix series.

“A1 Grand Prix is the most exciting development in motorsport in recent years,” said Hornby’s Chief Executive Frank Martin. “This exclusive global license with A1 Grand Prix is an excellent opportunity for Scalextric. Given the global reach of this new, exciting motorsport format, it’s rapidly gaining a very large following in many nations that are increasingly attracted to international motorsport.”

The prototype A1GP models are now in development by the world-famous slot car racing brand and the boxed set will be launched in September 2006, in time for the start of the second A1Grand Prix series.

A1 Grand Prix
France tops practice 3 in Dubai France tops practice 3 in DubaiDubai - With just over 1.5 seconds separating the top and the bottom of the timing sheet and less than half a second separating the top six, this afternoon's qualifying session will be a hard fought contest for pole position in tomorrow's Sprint race. On a circuit just 18 months old, A1 Grand Prix is setting a new benchmark for lap times, recording speeds in excess of 270kph and a fastest lap time of 1.45.676 set by A1 Team France's Nicolas Lapierre this morning.

Official Practice Session 3 (11.00 - 12.00)
  A1 Team Driver  Time No. Laps
1 France Nicolas Lapierre 1.45.676 18
2 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 1.45.743 19
3 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 1.45.808 22
4 Ireland Ralph Firman 1.45.999 22
5 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 1.46.047 18
6 Germany Adrian Sutil 1.46.154 20
7 Mexico Salvador Duran 1.46.182 19
8 Brazil Nelson Piquet Jr 1.46.206 21
9 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 1.46.283 20
10 Switzerland Neel Jani 1.46.322 21
11 Pakistan Adam Khan 1.46.391 19
12 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 1.46.521 19
13 South Africa Stephen Simpson 1.46.568 19
14 USA Philip Giebler 1.46.573 18
15 Malaysia Alex Yoong 1.46.581 20
16 Canada Sean McIntosh 1.46.613 20
17 India Armaan Ebrahim 1.46.774 24
18 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 1.46.783 16
19 China Tengyi Jiang 1.46.802 18
20 New Zealand Matt Halliday 1.46.841 21
21 Portugal Alvaro Parente 1.46.949 17
22 Australia Will Davison 1.47.106 22
23 Austria Mathias Lauda 1.47.129 20
24 Lebanon  Basil Shaaban 1.47.179 24 zzzz

Nominated drivers for Qualifying
A1 Team A1 Driver
Australia Will Davison
Austria Mathias Lauda
Brazil Nelson Piquet JR
Canada Sean McIntosh
China Tengyi Jiang
Czech Republic Tomas Enge
France Nicolas Lapierre
Germany Adrian Sutil
Great Britain Robbie Kerr
India Armaan Ebrahim
Indonesia Ananda Mikola
Ireland Ralph Firman
Italy Enrico Toccacelo
Japan Hayanari Shimoda
Lebanon Basil Shaaban
Malaysia Alex Yoong
Mexico Salvador Duran
Netherlands Jos Verstappen
New Zealand Matt Halliday
Pakistan Adam Khan
Portugal Alvaro Parente
South Africa Stephen Simpson
Switzerland Neel Jani
USA Philip Giebler

Qualifying consists of four 15 minute sessions with a 10 minute break between each. Only one driver per A1 Team is allowed to take part in Qualifying but that driver must have completed at least three timed laps in an Official Practice session. Each driver is limited to three laps - effectively one "flying lap" - per session and must record at least two times, an aggregate of which will determine that A1 Team's position on the grid for Sunday's Sprint race. The grid for the Feature race will be determined by the outcome of the Sprint race.
TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday
Mid-Ohio  (9/24/05)
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. ET, SPEED:  E Production
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET, SPEED:  Grand Touring 1
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET, NBC
Part 2   (6/24/05 - 6/26/05)
Chichester, England
4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. ET, SPEED
'3: The Dale Earnhardt Story'  (2004)
8:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. ET, ESPN Classic
Round 4  (11/6/05)
Eastern Creek
Sydney, Australia
11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. ET, OLN

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

New racing store open New racing store openUPDATE
It should work automatically, but type in SGAR52 as the promotion code, and it will definitely apply the free shipping being offered until Monday.
12/08/05 AutoRacing1.com is happy to announce our new online racing store in conjunction with Speedgear in time for the Christmas/Holiday Season. The Store button on the top menu of all of our pages will take you to our store. If you click through to Speedgear from AutoRacing1.com we have arranged a 10% discount on all items that will be applied after December 12th. There is free shipping on all items through Monday December 12th.
TV makes ALMS most popular sports car series in world TV makes ALMS most popular sports car series in worldIn seven short years, the American Le Mans Series has built arguably the most comprehensive and widely distributed television motorsports package in the world. Through its international distribution partners - MotorsTV and Greenlight Television - American Le Mans Series races are distributed to more than 100 countries reaching more than 550 million viewer households.

"It has been extremely gratifying to see how well the American Le Mans Series has been received worldwide. That is a tribute not only to the world-class competition but the superior production as well," said John Evenson, series vice president of broadcasting. "To my knowledge, the international reach of our broadcast package is among the most comprehensive in motorsports."

MotorsTV telecasts all American Le Mans Series races live, flag-to-flag, in four languages (English, German, French and Greek) in Europe to more than 45 million households in 30 countries.

In addition, Greenlight Television, one of Europe's leading producers of motorsports programming anthology shows, produces and packages three different weekly programs that are distributed worldwide to literally every continent except Antarctica.

"Our goal is to find those American Le Mans Series fans down on that ice cap and get it to them before very long so we can say we've covered the globe," smiles Greenlight's David Bynum. "We've had some calls." zzzz

Greenlight, formed in 1995, operates from the Isle of Man and covers more than 100 events annually in Europe, North America and Asia. Among its premier shows are Motorsports Mundial, Max Power, and Motorsport Asia.

Says MotorsTV's Frederic Viger, head of programming, "We've been absolutely ecstatic about the response and enthusiasm we get from viewers by bringing the high-quality American Le Mans Series production to Europe. It has been voted as the most popular form of racing on the channel by our viewers."

Combined with the American Le Mans Series' domestic package shared equally by CBS Sports and the SPEED Channel for 2006, the sports car racing series has little trouble laying claim to the most popular, widely distributed sports car series in the world.

Rocketsports to test Lyons Rocketsports to test LyonsThe year 2005 may not yet be over, but Rocketsports Racing is already planning like it is the New Year by scheduling their first test putting race car driver Richard Lyons in the cockpit on December 12-13 to evaluate his talents for a permanent seat to run for Champ Car’s Rookie-of-the-Year title starting at Long Beach in April.

Lyons made his motorsports debut racing karts in 1988, at only nine years old. In 1996, at the age of 17, he was promoted to Formula Ford. That same year, he also competed in the Formula Vauxhall Winter Series and was crowned the champion. The next two years the talented Irishman spent racing in the Formula Vauxhall Junior Series, where he finished as the runner-up in the 1998 season. Lyons moved on to the Formula Parmer-Audi Series the following year and finished second in the points standings. In 2000, he continued running in the Formula Parmer-Audi Series in addition to running in the Formula Renault 2000 Series.

His career was limited to single-seaters through 2000, and then he set his sights on Japan and the Formula Nippon Championship for 2001. That same year, he participated in his first endurance race, the Suzuka 1000km in a McLaren F1GTR. From 2002 through 2005, Lyons continued competing in the Formula Nippon Championship, while adding racing in the Japanese GT Series to his resume. 2004 was a big year, one that changed Lyons name to Champion, not just in one of the series, but both.

“I am very excited to come to America,” said Lyons about his upcoming test. “I have been following the Champ Car World Series for a long time now, and it has been a goal of mine since the start of my racing career to race in the series. I would like to thank Rocketsports Racing for giving me this opportunity, it is an honor to be able to get behind the wheel of one of their cars and finally get a chance to drive a Champ Car. Hopefully, this test will go well and I will be able to impress some people. My goal is to do the best that I can during this test, with the hopes of landing an opportunity for the upcoming season.”

This will be the first time Lyons gets behind the wheel of a Champ Car, but the Rocketsports team is thrilled to give the 26-year-old driver from Northern Ireland an opportunity to test one of its 750-horsepowered machines on the 1.72-mile permanent road course at Florida’s Sebring International Raceway. Despite his rookie status, the team anticipates a good test knowing Lyons’ solid racing pedigree and its ability to produce reliable racecars. zzzz

The third-year Champ Car team demonstrated its reliability during the 2005 season with Timo Glock by finishing second to two-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais in laps completed, finishing 1,285 out of 1,310 laps possible. Glock competed in all 13 rounds of the championship scoring ten top-ten finishes, two top-fives, and one podium with a second place result in Montreal. He earned 202 points in the Champ Car championship, finishing as the top rookie earning the Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year title and eighth overall in the championship ranks. The Rocketsports driver was one of only two rookie drivers to finish in the top ten of the drivers championship.

Bobby Hamilton Nets New Sponsor Bobby Hamilton Nets New Sponsor2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Bobby Hamilton has joined forces with the Fastenal Company, a Minnesota based industrial and construction supply company with over 1,700 stores in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Singapore and the Netherlands. Hamilton will pilot the No.18 Fastenal Dodge in 2006 and 2007, switching from the No. 04 he drove in 2005.  

“We are thrilled to be working with a great company like Fastenal,” Hamilton said.  “We use their products on our race trucks and so the fit is perfect.  After we met with them one time we thought they were a great match for us.  They have the exact outlook with their people and their company as I do with mine. I noticed right off the bat they are laid back, but yet very driven people just like us at BHR.”

In addition to his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship in 2004, Hamilton has 10 wins in 99 series starts. Hamilton won two races in 2005, season-opener Daytona and Mansfield en route to his sixth place finish in the final NCTS standings. Hamilton also has four NASCAR Nextel Cup wins and one NASCAR Busch Series win over the course of his career.

“We’re thrilled about the opportunity and see a lot of great things this year for Fastenal and BHR,” Hamilton said.  “We are building several more trucks right now and testing them at tracks and the wind tunnel.  Our team is capable of another championship, so this year will be exciting.”

JV does not expect fast times from interim car JV does not expect fast times from interim carJacques Villeneuve on testing at Jerez where the BMW Sauber team has not been particularly fast: "We had a minor technical problem today, but this is something normal with an interim car. We don't expect the car to be very fast, but our long-runs were quite good and we are happy with that. The engine ran well today, too. We - the Sauber crew and the people from BMW - were also still about getting used to each other. However, overall we were making some progress today."
MF1 Racing Day 3 of 5 at Jerez MF1 Racing Day 3 of 5 at JerezTiago Monteiro and Christijan Albers were in action today for the third day of testing in mild and dry conditions at Jerez, completing 68 and 66 laps respectively. They shared the driving duties in both an EJ15B and an interim EJ15B powered by the new Toyota V8 engine. The MF1 Racing team continued the test program as well as doing some Bridgestone tire work. Both drivers compared different set-ups and added more mileage to the V8 car. The test will continue tomorrow with Christijan Albers at the wheel of the interim car and Markus Winkelhock, Roman Rusinov and Fabrizio del Monte driving the EJ15B.

Tiago Monteiro said: "I am happy with the way the day went today, especially as we had a few issues yesterday. We did a lot of running in both cars and it was very interesting to compare them but above all to try to set up the V8 car better. Now I have tomorrow off before conducting a wet tire test on Sunday."

Christijan Albers commented: "I think we had a good day today and I am quite happy as every time we are finding some little things to improve the car. I feel also more at home everyday and this is a good sign. This is very nice to work with the team and get more experience with the car. Tomorrow is a new day and we will continue with our program."

James Key, Technical Director added: "We had a productive day with both cars and both drivers. We have been able to add a lot more mileage to the Toyota V8 which has once again run very well today. We overcame the issues we had yesterday which allowed us to add kilometers to the interim car. We still have a few issues to resolve but in general we are happy. Both drivers went through a program and gave us some valuable feedback. We also did some good work with the control systems on the V8 which has proven to be quite different from the V10 as we expected. We had a good day with understanding how the V8 differs from the V10 in terms of balance and set-up with less power."

Scott Dixon to try A1GP Scott Dixon to try A1GPUPDATE Scott Dixon (pictured right) drove the A1GP car today and basically said it was underpowered such that front-end grip was not an issue. He said it drove like no other car he ever drove. Others have called the car a handful..  12/08/05 Scott Dixon is a guest of A1 Team New Zealand at the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Dubai Autodrome. The Indy Racing League frontrunner is taking advantage of the two additional practice sessions tomorrow, Friday, to try the 520bhp single-seater for the first time.

Matt Halliday, one of A1 Team New Zealand’s two regular drivers, is penciled in to race to contest both of the meeting’s two races, so the extra sessions are simply an opportunity for Dixon to get a taste of the car, possibly with a view to contesting one of the six remaining rounds, all of which will be held at the start of 2006.

Never one to miss an opportunity to be close to racing, Dixon’s manager Stefan Johansson – fired up again by contesting the recent Grand Prix Masters event in South Africa – is in attendance at the impressive Dubai Autodrome to watch his charge in action.

World Council approves F1 changes World Council approves F1 changesThe FIA’s World Motor Sport Council has rubber-stamped the governing body’s plans to “drastically reduce the cost of competing” in Formula 1 and to “make it easier to overtake without increasing cornering speeds.”

At a meeting in Monaco today, the council agreed the basis of the 2008 technical regulations, which will be finalized later this month.

The new rules package will include the following:

* A standard electronic control unit (ECU)
* Long life engines
* Long life gearboxes
* A single tire supplier
* Restrictions on the ability of the teams to change their aerodynamics during the season
* Rev-limited engines

Most of these changes have been on the table for some time, but confirmation of the fine details is eagerly awaited by teams and fans alike.

It is hoped that the standard ECU, a device that engine manufacturers have previously been wary of, will allow the eradication of driver aids such as traction control, by removing fears that electronic trickery cannot be effectively policed.

The staged introduction of long life engine rules has already begun, with teams having to make each engine last two races from 2005.

The impending switch to a single tire supplier has long been taken for granted, with Michelin likely to withdraw before 2008 due to its objection to this principle.

Friday test times from Jerez Friday test times from JerezRunning a V10 engine McLaren’s Pedro de la Rosa comfortably set the pace today at the Jerez circuit in Spain. Over 1.5 seconds behind the Spaniard but quickest among V8 runners was the Cosworth-powered Williams of Nico Rosberg.

1) Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren-Mercedes (M), 1:17.703, 77 laps
2) Nico Rosberg, Williams-Cosworth (B), 1:19.174, 24
3) Jenson Button, Honda (M), 1:19.365, 122
4) Jarno Trulli, Toyota (B), 1:19.670, 89
5) Mark Webber, Williams-Cosworth (B), 1:19.684, 55
6) Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (B), 1:19.859, 60
7) Jacques Villeneuve, BMW-Sauber (M), 1:19.864, 86
8) Tiago Monteiro, MF1-Toyota (B), 1:19.952, 70
9) Alex Wurz, McLaren-Mercedes (M), 1:20.105, 77
10) Anthony Davidson, Honda (M), 1:20.106, 102
11) Marc Gene, Ferrari (B), 1:20.981, 79
12) David Coulthard, Red Bull-Cosworth (M), 1:20.114, 104
13) Christijan Albers, MF1-Toyota (B), 1:22.684, 63 

A1 Grand Prix
France team again tops A1GP charts in Dubai France team again tops A1GP charts in DubaiUPDATE A1 Grand Prix’s home race got off to a flying start today when 24 A1 Teams took to the track earlier than usual with two extra test sessions. A1 Team Great Britain made history when Katherine Legge became the first female driver to get behind the wheel of an A1 race car and the ground-breaking trend of the weekend continued when the FIA approved the use of the helicopter recovery system tested at the Dubai Autodrome yesterday.

The usual practice sessions were held in the afternoon with all the A1 Teams working on their set up for tomorrow’s qualifying. A1 Team France’s Nicolas Lapierre, who recorded the fastest lap of the day said: ‘We had a very good day, during the first session the track was very dirty, but in free practice we worked on the car and we were improving every time. The track was getting faster too, so it was hard to see where the time was coming from. The track is really nice, there are a few good corners. It’s quite a long track though, so I think it will be hard to get a perfect lap in qualifying tomorrow, as it is easy to make mistakes.’

Ralph Firman, driver for A1 Team Ireland, who was just over one tenth of a second off France’s pace said: ‘There was quite a lot of dust, but by the last lap it was fine and the temperature was dropping too as the sun set, which made a big difference.

The track looks smooth but there are lots of ripples in it which can throw the car off balance, but it’s the same for everyone. I’m confident with the car, and hopefully I’ll be doing the rest of the races now so we will be able to make steps forward.’

A1 Team Switzerland’s Neel Jani also spoke about the challenges of the Dubai Autodrome: ‘There are quite a lot of corners where you can go off and as soon as you get off the racing line the car starts to slide.’

The three fastest lap times were all recorded in the second official practice session as drivers got to grips with a track that is brand new to many. The second practice session was red flagged as A1 Team Malaysia split oil on the track, after damaging the oil sump on a curb. zzzz

Speaking of the significance of A1GP’s home race, A1 Grand Prix’s CEO Tony Teixeira said: ‘Every race has been significant as they have all been a first, but Dubai is especially significant as it is the home of Sheikh Maktoum and the city where we visualized the concept of A1 Grand Prix’. Commenting on the A1 Recovery trial, Tony said ‘We are delighted that we have been given the green light to use this system, should it be needed over the weekend. Should cars go off the track between corners two and 10, they can now be removed by helicopter. It is another new innovation from A1 Grand Prix.’

Representing the Arab world, A1 Team Lebanon is also viewing the Dubai race as their home event. Seatholder, Tameem Auchi said: ‘We’ve been working hard to increase interest in A1 Grand Prix in the Middle East, as there is not a lot of awareness about single seat racing in our region. We’ve had a really good reception and more and more people are supporting us. We are very proud to be representing the Arab world, and have the flags of all the Arab nations on our car this weekend.’

Basil Shaaban who will drive for A1 Team Lebanon in tomorrow’s qualifying sessions said: ‘I will be racing for the rest of the weekend, and so will have the honor of racing here. This is particularly special as I grew up in Abu Dhabi. In general it feels better to be racing here, nearer to home and in a country where people speak your own language.’

12/09/05 Practice times from Dubai
Official Practice Session 1 (13.00 – 14.00)
  A1 Team  Driver  Time  No. Laps
1  France  Nicolas Lapierre  1.46.734  4
2  Czech Republic  Tomas Enge  1.47.072  10
3  Italy  Enrico Toccacelo  1.47.271  16
4  Ireland  Ralph Firman  1.47.348  11
5  Switzerland  Neel Jani  1.47.377  10
6  Germany  Adrian Sutil  1.47.546  14
7  Brazil  Nelson Angelo Piquet  1.47.552  14
8  Netherlands  Jos Verstappen  1.47.817  9
9  Portugal  Alvaro Parente  1.47.884  18
10  Japan  Hayanari Shimoda  1.47.988  14
11  Mexico  Salvador Duran  1.48.005  17
12  New Zealand  Matt Halliday  1.48.021  22
13  South Africa  Stephen Simpson  1.48.032  12
14  Canada  Sean McIntosh  1.48.053  17
15  Pakistan  Adam Khan  1.48.144  11
16  Indonesia  Ananda Mikola  1.48.181  14
17  China  Tengyi Jiang  1.48.205  6
18  Austria  Mathias Lauda  1.48.208  15
19  Great Britain  Robbie Kerr  1.48.234  12
20  Malaysia  Alex Yoong  1.48.256  17
21  Australia  Will Davison  1.48.666  20
22  USA  Philip Giebler  1.48.736  19
23  India  Armaan Ebrahim  1.49.201  25
24  Lebanon  Khalil Beschir  1.49.783  21
Official Practice session 2 (16.00 – 17.00)
  A1 Team  Driver  Time  No. Laps
1  France  Nicolas Lapierre  1.46.073  17
2  Ireland  Ralph Firman  1.46.209  23
3  Switzerland  Neel Jani  1.46.541  20
4  Great Britain  Robbie Kerr  1.46.753  18
5  Italy  Enrico Toccacelo  1.46.766  16
6  Japan  Hayanari Shimoda  1.46.855  15
7  Pakistan  Adam Khan  1.47.018  23
8  Czech Republic  Tomas Enge  1.47.067  12
9  Canada  Sean McIntosh  1.47.280  24
10  Germany  Adrian Sutil  1.47.292  22
11  New Zealand  Scott Dixon  1.47.341  18
12  Netherlands  Jos Verstappen  1.47.416  18
13  Portugal  Alvaro Parente  1.47.426  22
14  Indonesia  Ananda Mikola  1.47.463  6
15  South Africa  Stephen Simpson  1.47.548  21
16  China  Tengyi Jiang  1.47.563  18
17  Brazil  Nelson Piquet Jr  1.47.574  17
18  Mexico  Salvador Duran  1.47.585  7
19  Australia  Will Davison  1.47.745  20
20  Malaysia  Alex Yoong  1.47.849  13
21  Austria  Mathias Lauda  1.47.924  21
22  USA  Philip Giebler  1.48.151  13
23  India  Armaan Ebrahim  1.48.595  22
24  Lebanon  Basil Shaaban  1.48.638  24
A1 Grand Prix
Legge makes A1GP history Legge makes A1GP historyUPDATE In Dubai, the home town of A1 Grand Prix founder Sheikh Maktoum, Katherine Legge made history by becoming the first female A1 driver in the A1 Team Great Britain car. Katherine's two 20 minute sessions were taken up with running in a new engine and bedding in new brakes so it wasn't a case of sheer speed - but an intelligent drive to get the best from a new engine and her valuable feedback on the handling of the car. The day continued well with regular driver Robbie Kerr finishing fourth overall in the two one-hour official practices. 

Katherine Legge: "This has been a fantastic experience and I'm very grateful to John Surtees for the opportunity. It's interesting to get to drive different single-seaters and the A1 car is obviously one of the top racing cars in the world. It was good to do my bit for the British team - I've really enjoyed working with them. The track here is awesome! Very challenging and very well designed. A1 is a great concept and now that I've been involved I can see how well it's doing. All in all I'm very happy to have been here." 

John Surtees: "Katherine did absolutely everything that was asked of her. She didn't have an easy task coming to drive an unfamiliar car on a new circuit. Obviously the times were relatively slow to start with because of the sand on the track and by the time we'd gone through the routines for running a new engine and prepared sets of brake parts for the weekend there was little time left for Katherine to extend herself. What was most important was her excellent feedback about the characteristics of the car which fitted extremely well with the data. Any future drives will depend on opportunities arising and circumstances. Of course we have Alex Lloyd as part of our team too but when it comes to reviewing the situation for next year's program she'll certainly be considered." GB Team

12/09/05 Katherine Legge became the first female to compete in an A1 Grand Prix car in Dubai on Friday morning when she drove for Arden-run Team Great Britain.

"The last few weeks have been crazy, really great," she told autosport.com. "I've had the opportunities of a life time, I've been pinching myself everyday and realized how lucky I've been."

"In the first session we were running-in a new engine, and in the second we were bedding brakes, and there was a red flag, so it was difficult circumstances really. I took it very easy, because I wasn't worried about setting quick times, it was all about the car. I feel it went according to plan."

She was 23rd and 22nd in the two sessions respectively, and her best time was 3.687secs slower than the fastest time.

"The track is awesome," she said. "The car is certainly different from anything I've driven before. But I got on with it, and think I did a good job." (Legge, right talking to team owner John Surtees)

Regular driver Robbie Kerr will now take over for the rest of the weekend, while Legge returns to the USA to test a Champ Car for PKV Racing before Christmas.

Gascoyne praises Briscoe work Gascoyne praises Briscoe workRyan Briscoe continued his return to an F1 cockpit for the Panasonic Toyota racing team at the Jerez circuit on Thursday, filling in for the ill Olivier Panis, the Australian driver completing a full day of work on set-up, weight distribution and tires. Unfortunately he suffered with a hydraulic problem but still managed to complete a total of 65 laps to set a best time of 1:19.563.

"That was another productive day of running for me, and it was enjoyable to have more time in the new car,” he said. “The TF106 is a very different car from the last Toyota I tested a year ago because there have been a lot of changes, most notably the V8 engine and the Bridgestone tires. The new engine obviously has a bit less horsepower than the V10 - but not a massive amount, which is a good sign.”

“Apart from that the car has made big improvements since I last drove it. The team has improved a lot in all the small details. Things like the electronics are working smoother than I remember and it all means the car is very smooth to drive. Today we had one stoppage with a throttle problem but overall it has been a useful return to action for me."

Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director, has hailed it as a ‘constructive day’ and was very happy with the Ryan’s performance over the past two days…

‘Both cars ran very reliably and we only had one small mechanical issue when Ryan stopped with a hydraulic problem. Even so, he completed most of his program. I have to say that considering Ryan has not driven an F1 car for a year and that this was his first time since his huge shunt in the IRL he's done an excellent job over the two days, both in terms of consistency and speed. So I congratulate him for conducting an excellent two-day test program at very short notice.”

Panasonic Toyota Racing's Ricardo Zonta will take over from Briscoe for the rest of the week. Toyota

Skoda pulls plug on World Rally program Skoda pulls plug on World Rally programSkoda has confirmed that they will not run a factory team in the WRC in 2006. Instead the Czech manufacturer will be represented by two private teams - one with backing by Red Bull, while a second Czech team of Jan Kopkecky will also run with the Fabia.

"We believe that this is the most cost-effective way in which to maintain Skoda brand's presence in the series," Skoda Auto chairman, Detlef Wittig told BBC Sport Online.

Harald Ludanek, Skoda's head of research and development, added though that there exit was by no means permanent.

"We will continue to observe the development of the championship and its regulations, and will decide at some point in the future [whether we come back with a factory team]," he added.

NBC to air NASCAR Year In Review Sunday NBC to air NASCAR Year In Review SundayNBC presents the NASCAR Year in Review, hosted by NASCAR on NBC & TNT play-by-play commentator and pre-race host Bill Weber from Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters in Huntersville, N.C., Sunday, 3:00-4:00pm/et. The Year in Review is a special look back at the "Race to the Chase" and the "Chase for the Nextel Cup," including Tony Stewart's dramatic win at the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and his championship run. Other features include a last look at "Rusty's Last Call," the final season for former Cup champion and legendary driver Rusty Wallace. NBC PR
Chaffin to drive No. 92 Chaffin to drive No. 92Chad Chaffin, who landed a part-time job in the Nextel Cup Series in 2005 with #92 Front Row Motorsports of Denver, N.C., has hired Chaffin to run the full Nextel Cup schedule in 2006. Front Row has yet to land a sponsor, but owner Bob Jenkins said he is committed to running all 36 races without one if necessary. "We may not be in the top 20," Jenkins said of his fledgling race team, "but we plan to grow and progress." Jenkins owns two North Carolina companies, one that manufactures vinyl gloves, the other a food franchise. He chose Chaffin for the full-time job next season "because Chad's a good driver and he knows how to communicate with the pit crew. That's very important." The team raced Chevrolets this season and is debating going to Dodges next year. In addition to his full Cup schedule, Chaffin also will compete in the NASCAR Busch Series for Goodlettsville-based Wayne Day Enterprises. While Front Row plans to run all 36 Cup races, Chaffin said he may turn the car over to a substitute driver for the two annual road-course events. Tennessean
Léon Taillieu 'We are on target with the V8' Léon Taillieu 'We are on target with the V8'The RS26 Project Leader Léon Taillieu speaks about how work is progressing on next year’s engine. The Renault V8 is already looking promising...

Léon, when did the V8 program begin?
"We began our initial studies in September 2004."

What was your philosophy?
"We have not taken any major risks with this engine. That means we are building on what we already know – the RS26 will benefit from everything we learned on last year’s championship winning engine. The targets we set were the same as for every engine: to make it powerful and reliable, to optimize injection and combustion."

With such a long-term project, how do you manage to stick to a timetable that specifies the exact day when the engine must run?
"It is a question of planning and organization. In modern F1, that can really make the difference. In this area, computer tools bring vital assistance: they allow us to minimize the risk of making a mistake. When we push the button for production of parts in a known domain, we know that the mathematical models are accurate and we have total confidence. If, however, we are dealing with an area that we are less confident in, we need to use testing to recalibrate our models. We also conducted specific testing with our V10. That was a big help in this project." zzzz
In terms of how the engines are run, what will be the differences between the 2005 V10 and the 2006 V8?
"First of all, we should note that Renault will go from a 72° v-angle to the 90° now imposed by the regulations. That will allow us to lower the centre of gravity. Our rivals were already using a 90° engine and are unlikely to see a difference in this area. Secondly, the engine is no longer allowed to use variable inlet trumpets, which allowed us to adjust the engine acoustics and optimize combustion at different engine speeds. As a result, the V8 will feel less torquey for the drivers next year."

We have heard a lot about vibrations on the new engines. Why is that?
"With every engine, you need to distinguish between internal and external vibrations. The former concern principally torsional vibrations of moving parts in the engine. They are central to the engine’s reliability development, and they depend on the firing order that we select, which also has an impact on the engine performance. From this point of view, we need to choose the firing order that gives the best reliability-performance compromise. The latter are partly a result of the first choice, and can be minimized by the balancing of the crankshaft. In the car, the chassis components and the driver primarily feel the second class of vibrations."

So how does this link to the V8?
"In terms of the V8, the compromise we have made does not generate greater vibrations than those we experienced with the V10. They are concentrated in different ways, but the efforts involved are comparable. Each component therefore needs to be designed with this in mind. The poor reputation of the V8 engines in terms of vibrations comes from the fact that in the 1980s, comparisons were made between V8 and V12 engines of the same capacity, which means the reciprocating masses in the V8 engine were much larger and harder to control. Now, we are comparing a 2.4 liter V8 with a 3 liter V10, with the same reciprocating masses."

In terms of the project timing, what is the current status of the RS26?
"We are on time, and on target. We have almost completed our initial phase of performance development, and encouragingly we have attained our targets." Source Renault

Button the fastest V8 runner Button the fastest V8 runnerIt was another sunny day in Jerez yesterday for the second day of Honda Racing F1 Team’s three-day test.

Jenson Button has now joined the test team, taking over from Anthony Davidson in chassis 078-07, and spent the morning session running through some early set-up work, completing 52 laps.

Button spent the afternoon working through a Michelin tire evaluation, looking at various compounds. He completed a total of 70 laps today and set the second fastest time, a 1:19.087s – the fastest time of the V8 runners.

James Rossiter continued his running in the new 078-08 car. He ran through a chassis set-up program, completing 37 laps in the morning and a further 31 laps in the afternoon session. Source Honda

A1 Grand Prix
Lapierre tops first practice in Dubai Lapierre tops first practice in Dubai
Pos Team Driver Time Laps
 1. France Nicolas Lapierre 1:46.734 4
 2. Czech Republic Tomas Enge 1:47.072 + 0.338 10
 3. Italy Enrico Toccacelo 1:47.271 + 0.537 16
 4. Ireland Ralph Firman 1:47.348 + 0.614 11
 5. Switzerland Neel Jani 1:47.377 + 0.643 10
 6. Germany Adrian Sutil 1:47.546 + 0.812 14
 7. Brazil Nelson Piquet 1:47.552 + 0.818 14
 8. Netherlands Jos Verstappen 1:47.817 + 1.083 9
 9. Portugal Alvaro Parente 1:47.884 + 1.150 18
10. Japan Hayanari Shimoda 1:47.988 + 1.254 14
11. Mexico Salvador Duran 1:48.005 + 1.271 17
12. New Zealand Matt Halliday 1:48.021 + 1.287 22
13. South Africa Stephen Simpson 1:48.032 + 1.298 12
14. Canada Sean McIntosh 1:48.053 + 1.319 17
15. Pakistan Adam Khan 1:48.144 + 1.410 11
16. Indonesia Ananda Mikola 1:48.181 + 1.447 14
17. China Tengyi Jiang 1:48.205 + 1.471 6
18. Austria Mathias Lauda 1:48.208 + 1.474 15
19. Great Britain Robbie Kerr 1:48.234 + 1.500 12
20. Malaysia Alex Yoong 1:48.256 + 1.522 17
21. Australia Will Davison 1:48.666 + 1.932 20
22. USA Philip Giebler 1:48.736 + 2.002 19
23. India Armaan Ebrahim 1:49.201 + 2.467 25
24. Lebanon Khalil Beschir 1:49.783 + 3.049 21
Formula BMW
The countdown is on for the first Formula BMW World Final The countdown is on for the first Formula BMW World FinalThe curtain is about to go up on the first Formula BMW World Final. From December 13 to 16 at the Bahrain International Circuit, 36 young racing drivers will be vying for the crown in BMW's junior talent promotion scheme. The starting signal will be given at 12 o'clock local time on Tuesday, when the drivers head out onto the 3.596-kilometer Paddock Circuit of this state-of-the-art race track for their first Free Practice session.

The incentive among the drivers to succeed in the desert emirate of Bahrain is considerable: awaiting the winner of the World Final will be a test drive for the BMW Sauber F1 Team. "The Formula BMW World Final is a tremendous opportunity for me," says the winner of the German Formula BMW ADAC Championship, Nicolas Huelkenberg (GER). "It's my dream to race in Formula One some time. If I win here, I'll be one step closer to my goal."

But Huelkenberg isn't the only driver keen to make his mark as a potential candidate for motor racing's top echelon. The best drivers of the four Formula BMW series held in Germany, the UK, Asia and the USA will be taking part in the World Final. Appearing alongside Huelkenberg in this spectacular closing event of the season will be the champions of the Formula BMW series in the UK and Asia, Dean Smith (GBR) and Salman Bin Rashid Al Khalifa (BAH). zzzz

At the latest since his appearance in the Race of Champions in Paris on December 3, Robert Wickens (CAN) - who came third in this year's Formula BMW USA Championship - also ranks among the favorites to win the World Final. In the Formula BMW invitation race at the Stade de France, the 16-year old managed to prevail against Huelkenberg, Smith and Al Khalifa before a crowd of more than 50,000 spectators. In Bahrain, Wickens plans to carry on from where he left off, "I'm really looking forward to the World Final," he says. "Although I am in no doubt that it's going to be difficult to repeat my victory in the Race of Champions. But I have proven that I can keep up with the three champions from the other series - and that gives me a great deal of self-confidence."

On the Hermann Tilke-designed circuit, contestants have three Free Practice sessions and one Qualifying event lined up as well as five races. That means the winner will have to deliver repeated evidence of his racing prowess to claim the title of "Best Formula BMW Driver of the Year". For the fans, this competition format promises racing action galore. The support program also has plenty to offer: the BMW M3 GTR, for example, with which Team BMW Motorsport took two one-two victories in succession in the Nurburgring 24-Hour Race, will be in action out on the track. Also revving up in the desert will be the BMW V12 LMR, winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1999, and the BMW M1 Procar.

The World Final marks the close of an exciting Formula BMW season 2005. No other globe-spanning entry-level series is as effective as Formula BMW when it comes to introducing young talents who have outgrown their go-karts to the world of professional motor racing. All four of this year's champions took part in the BMW Education and Coaching Program before claiming their titles.

Meira: Can't see more than 16-car IRL grid Meira: Can't see more than 16-car IRL gridIndianapolis 500 runner-up Vitor Meira said he is talking with the Panther, Dreyer & Reinbold and Andretti Green teams about IRL rides, but nothing has materialized.

"Everybody seems to be struggling on money," Meira said. "Can you see more than 16 cars (for the season)? I can't right now." Indy Star

Andretti lands Busch ride Andretti lands Busch rideForced to sit out most of the 2005 Nextel Cup season after his team's sponsorship dried up, John Andretti will drive in the Busch Series with the same ppc Racing team in 2006.  Owner Greg Pollex has lined up sponsors for two full-time entries in the Busch Series and one in the Craftsman Truck Series.  Andretti, 42, who will team with fellow veteran Kenny Wallace, has made just one Busch Series start.
A1 Grand Prix
Dubai A1 Grand Prix drivers Dubai A1 Grand Prix driversThe following drivers have been named for the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Dubai, UAE.
A1 Team - Driver 1 - Driver 2
Australia - Will Davison - Christian Jones
Austria - Mathias Lauda - 
Brazil - Nelson Piquet Jr - Tuka Rocha
Canada - Sean McIntosh - 
China - Tengyi Jiang - 
Czech Republic - Tomas Enge - 
France - Nicolas Lapierre - Alexandre Premat
Germany - Adrian Sutil - 
Great Britain - Robbie Kerr - Katherine Legge
India - Armaan Ebrahim - 
Indonesia - Ananda Mikola - 
Ireland - Ralph Firman - Michael Devaney
Italy - Enrico Toccacelo - Massimiliano Busnelli
Japan - Hayanari Shimoda - 
Lebanon - Basil Shaaban - Khalil Beschir
Malaysia - Alex Yoong - 
Mexico - Salvador Duran - 
Netherlands - Jos Verstappen - Jeroen Bleekemolen
New Zealand - Matt Halliday - Scott Dixon
Pakistan - Adam Khan - 
Portugal - Alvaro Parente - Joao Urbano
South Africa - Stephen Simpson - Gavin Cronje
Switzerland - Neel Jani - 
USA - Philip Giebler - 
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Honda lose aero man
More sun for Jerez run
MF1 to test del Monte
Shaken Badoer goes home
JV hails V8 era
A third shunt at Jerez
Monday to resolve Spa future
Alonso to collect F1 crown
TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Mid-Ohio (9/24/05)
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: Formula Continental
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: D Sports Racer
Roush Racing - Driver X
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET (Replay) Discovery HD Theater
Ensenada-Baja California, Mexico
11/18/05 - 11/19/05)
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET, NBC
Lowe's Motor Speedway
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: Round 1
4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: Round 2
Estoril, Portugal
Round #3, 10/23/05
6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ET (Replay) OLN
'The Great Race'  (1965)
8:00 p.m.-11:30 p.m. ET, SPEED
Ensenada-Baja California, Mexico
6/3/05 - 6/5/05
10:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. ET, OLN

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

Racing News
Al Unser Christmas ornament for CARA Charities Al Unser Christmas ornament for CARA CharitiesOne of the open-wheel fans’ best racing Christmas gifts cost only $20.00 and features a design of one of their favorites or celebrities.

The annual CARA Charities Christmas Ornaments, a series of specially designed Christmas tree adornments that began in 1992, has been a popular holiday gift and this year’s edition with four-time Indy 500 champion Al Unser’s new “snowmobile holiday landscape” is the perfect present for the racing enthusiast. 

Unser’s design incorporates “Big Al’s” love for the mountains of New Mexico and his need for speed in all types of motorsports.  His holiday ride in 2005 is a snowmobile.

Or you can collect the whole set of racing ornaments from CARA Charities.  Each legend has designed his ornament for one of the most unique racing gifts.

Here is the list of racing legends that have designed their personal Christmas Ornament for CARA Charities:

1992 – Johnny Rutherford;  1993 – Rick Mears;  1994 – Mario Andretti;  1995 – Al Unser Jr.;  1996 – Emerson Fittipaldi;  1997 – Bobby Rahal;  1998 – Arie Luyendyk;  1999 – Michael Andretti;  2000 – A.J. Foyt;  2001 – Paul Newman;  2002 – Alex Zanardi;  2003 – Helio Castroneves;  2004 – Gil de Ferran;  2005 – Al Unser.

Jacques Villeneuve makes his return Jacques Villeneuve makes his returnBMW Sauber started another week of testing today at Jerez, this time with Jacques Villeneuve behind the wheel of the C24B. The team’s program focused mostly on engine and systems testing. It was Villeneuve’s first test with the BMW V8 engine. The Canadian completed a total of 64 laps, his best in 1’21”684.

Jacques Villeneuve “It’s always nice to get into the car after the break. Furthermore, it was the first time for me with BMW and the V8 engine, and this was nice. Of course, it’s hard to compare the V8 with the V10, but I was expecting a bigger loss of power and more vibrations. It was not too bad and actually quite nice to drive. In fact you do feel a little loss of power, but it doesn’t make driving less fun.

“The speed in the corners seems to be the same while you are going slower on the straights. Nevertheless, the driving will still be exciting and physical. Hopefully since we are all going less fast on the straights this will give us a bigger tow and this could mean more overtaking in the future.”

BMW Sauber will continue testing tomorrow at Jerez, once again with Jacques Villeneuve driving a C24B. BMW Sauber

Renault’s final day of testing for this week Renault’s final day of testing for this weekThe Renault F1 Team concluded testing for the week in Jerez today, with Heikki Kovalainen and Franck Montagny continuing to rack up the miles testing solutions in preparation for 2006. In spite of numerous red flags, both drivers completed over 100 laps. Heikki finished the day third fastest, with Franck fourth.

Franck's day focused solely around extensive brake testing and development. His running was composed of long runs on old tires, as he compared different solutions.

On the other side of the garage, Heikki focused on tire testing with technical partner Michelin, testing solutions for 2006 on both short and long runs.

In total, the two cars completed 1941 km during their two days at Jerez. The team will return to action at the same circuit, from 14 – 17 December, with the final day used as a wet tire test.

Christian Silk, Chief Test Engineer "We had another very productive day in Jerez. Both drivers were able to start running quickly, and progressed well with their programs. Our technical solution for these test sessions, using a known R25 package to establish a good baseline for tire and vehicle development, is so far proving extremely useful as we are completing very high mileages every day, and making solid progress for 2006. We hope to continue in the same manner next week." Renault F1 Team

Industry News
Mercedes drops brake-by-wire system Mercedes drops brake-by-wire systemMercedes-Benz is discontinuing the twice-recalled Robert Bosch GmbH braking system on the E-Class and CLS-Class sedans next summer in a move that is a blow to automotive brake-by-wire technology.

Mercedes will drop the Sensotronic Brake Control system from the E-Class in June 2006 when it introduces the car's midterm face-lift. At about the same time, the E Class-derived CLS also will lose the system. Both cars will have a conventional hydraulic braking system. "We can now offer all the comforts of SBC in a conventional system," said a Mercedes insider. "SBC was a very expensive system."

But the source also acknowledged that customers had lost confidence in the system.  More at AutoWeek

PKV testing news - Add Pantano PKV testing news - Add PantanoUPDATE #2 This SPEEDTV.com article talks more about Pantano's test. [Key excerpts] It seems every off-season since his successful F3000 days - when he was runner-up to Sebastien Bourdais in 2002 - Giorgio Pantano’s name always ends up linked to a possible Champ Car ride for the following year, a rather strange phenomenon since the Italian had never even strapped himself into a turbocharged Lola-Ford in his entire life.

That, however, changed this Thursday morning when Pantano, 26, stopped by at Methanol Lane in Indianapolis, specifically to do a seat-fitting at PKV Racing, ahead of a two-day test at Sebring next week.

Q: How did the opportunity to test for PKV come about?

“The team invited me to a two-day test at Sebring next week [December 12-13]. We did the seat-fitting this morning and should be headed down there on Monday. So far, I know that Ryan Briscoe and one other driver will also be there.”

Q: This will be your first-ever Champ Car test, right?

“Yes, it’s the first time I have come close to coming to Champ Car. I did have some talks with teams in the past but I landed the Jordan Formula 1 seat last year, then after that I tried to go into GP2 to win the championship this season. Unfortunately, since it was a new series, we had a lot of problems with the car…”

Q: Is another season in GP2 something that you would consider?

“No, that is not a possibility at all. I’m looking to become a professional next year, in fact I’m looking to stay here in the United States, where I think the racing is a lot more professional [than in GP2].”

Q: What about the IRL?

“At the moment I don’t have anything lined up there, but of course if a good chance came up we would consider it. But since Champ Car has more road and street courses, that’s where I am more interested in driving - I’m a road course, not an oval, driver.”

12/06/05 Giorgio Pantano is knocking on Champ Car doors. The Italian driver will leave for the USA on December 7th to PKV headquarters to make his driving seat of a Lola-ford. Next week he will drive the PKV car at Sebring: "This is not a simple test, but a serious effort to land a ride in Champ Car next year. IndyCars were also a target, but Chip Ganassi hired Wheldon and with Toyota gone they are running less 1 car. Chip is still evaluating other options for me..." explained the former F1 Jordan driver. [Editor's Note: We assume that means Grand-Am.  Like we have been saying, there are so many drivers looking for a Champ Car ride, Champ Car needs the top teams to all run a third car in 2006.] 12/06/05 PKV Racing has two tests lined up at Sebring. The first test is a three day affair beginning on December 12th and the team will run Ryan Briscoe and Ryan Dalziel.   Katherine Legge will be in action with the team with Jimmy Vasser on December 22nd and 23rd. For Legge, who recently tested with the Minardi F1 team, this too will be her first Champ Car test.  The team could also be testing another driver although this has yet to be confirmed.
Track News
Formula D kicks off Round 1 in the Streets of Long Beach! Formula D kicks off Round 1 in the Streets of Long Beach!Need For Speed Formula Drift announced today that for the first time ever a Need For Speed Formula D Championship round will be played out on real city streets! With support from the City of Long Beach and the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, Need For Speed Formula D will once again make an unprecedented move in the progression of drifting in the US.
The event is scheduled to be run on turns 9, 10 and 11, a compound area of the existing Long Beach Grand Prix street course.
This is all part of a bigger joint agreement which will feature a Need For Speed Formula D competition to be held at the 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach the following week in Downtown Long Beach.

Special promotional combined weekend ticket packages, for both Need For Speed Formula D and the Grand Prix of Long Beach, will be available at a discounted rate for FD and LBGP fans on the FD website shortly.

2006 Need For Speed Formula D Championship Schedule

Round 1: Streets of Long Beach, S.CA  April 1-2, 2006

Round 2: Road Atlanta, GA  May 12-13, 2006

Round 3: Chicago Soldier Field, IL  June 9-10, 2006

Round 4 : Infineon Raceway, N.CA July 7-8, 2006

Round 5: Evergreen Speedway, WA  August 19-20, 2006

Round 6: Wall Speedway, NJ  September 8-9, 2006

Final Round: Irwindale Speedway, S.CA TBA

George's position gets weaker by the day George's position gets weaker by the dayWith dwindling sponsors, a shrinking car count, and departing engine suppliers, there's huge trouble on the horizon for the Indy Racing League that even the pixie smiles of rookie driver Danica Patrick won't be able to fix.

Although Patrick's sex appeal boosted the series popularity this season, it wasn't enough to keep Toyota from leaving the fold and heading to NASCAR. With Chevrolet already having announced its departure last year, Toyota's decision leaves only Honda as an IRL engine manufacturer and puts the series' future in considerable doubt.

The time has come for Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner and IRL founder Tony George to start some serious negotiations to reunify his series with Champ Car, because if history is any indication, the IRL will have a difficult time surviving in the post-Toyota era.

George only has to look at the results of the manufacturers jumping from the old Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) to the IRL after the 2002 season. When Toyota and Honda left Ford as CART's sole engine supplier, it precipitated the series' painful slide into bankruptcy.

While it struggled to get enough cars onto the starting grid in 2004, Champ Car successfully made it through its important first season under new management. By the end of the first year, the owners also secured the series' engine and electronics supplies by purchasing Cosworth and Pi Engineering. This year, the Champ Car owners also secured the rights to its flagship Long Beach race.

While Champ Car may not be completely out of the woods and the owners admit there remains lots of work to do, it is solidly on track and exceeding expectations

Unfortunately for the IRL, it now faces an economic reality similar to the one that killed CART: Without the manufacturer money pouring in from Honda and Toyota, teams will have to make up the difference elsewhere. That means going to their sponsors for more cash, reducing the number of cars they field, or asking for a handout from George.

So far, the numbers don't look good. Cheever Racing and Panther Racing lost their sponsors at the end of the season and quickly let go most of their staff. Cheever has already announced plans to field a Grand-American Sports Car team in 2006. While Panther's plans remain unclear, most feel it will struggle to return to the IRL grid next season. Hemelgarn Racing's ability to bring back its one-car effort also remains less than 100 per cent certain.

The two cars belonging to Fernandez Racing also remain question marks although Japanese driver Kosuke Matsuura may be a good candidate to return provided his backer Aguri Suzuki isn't putting all his cash toward his Formula One plans. Fernandez's other sponsor, auto parts maker Delphi, filed for bankruptcy protection in early October.

Chip Ganassi Racing and Rahal Letterman Racing will each cut one of their three cars in 2006. Andretti Green insists that it will continue with four cars in 2006 but that will be difficult without its huge Honda backing. It is thought that Honda funded about three-quarters of the team's $40-million budget.

Team Penske should also be back with its two cars and Vision Racing, owned by George and piloted by his stepson driver Ed Carpenter, will definitely field one car. The final grid spot belongs to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

With only a dozen confirmed entries for 2006, many are also questioning whether George's flagship Indianapolis 500 will be able to attract the traditional 33 cars to the racetrack in May, let alone have that number start the Memorial Day race.

After seeing CART implode when it was thrust into exactly the same situation three years ago, George must realize that his series is on a crash course.

While previous negotiations with the Champ Car owners failed to progress because George steadfastly insisted on maintaining complete control after a merger, that position is no longer viable.

With the Indianapolis 500 set to become less than the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" and the IRL's position weakening every day, George needs to swallow his pride and make some serious concessions to the Champ Car owners before it too late.  More at Globe and Mail

Track News
Long Beach sponsor signs on for 3 more years Long Beach sponsor signs on for 3 more yearsThe Grand Prix Association of Long Beach announced today that ITLA Capital Corporation (NASDAQ - ITLA) with its wholly owned subsidiary, Imperial Capital Bank (ICB), has signed on for three more years as a major sponsor of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The Company will again be title sponsor of the Imperial Capital Bank Champ Car Atlantic race, part of the premier open-wheel development series in North America, which will take the green flag on Sunday, April 9. (Photo right by Rob Grasso, GPALB) 

In addition, the highly visible Imperial Capital Bank Bridge, located near the entrance to pit road near Turn 11, will transport race fans across the Shoreline Drive front stretch.

George W. Haligowski, chairman, president and CEO stated that: "We are pleased to be involved with an event that brings Grand Prix racing action to the streets of Long Beach and Southern California. These races are some of the most exciting in the world and Imperial Capital Bank is honored to be a part of it."

The tie-in with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is a natural for Imperial Capital Bank, which has been racing and winning in the highly competitive California market since 1974.  ICB prides itself on rapid decision-making, speed of execution and the personal touch it offers customers. 

"We're absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to continue our relationship with ITLA Capital Corporation for another three years," said Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association. "They have been extraordinary sponsor partners and bring a great deal of added value to our event."

With total assets of $3 billion at September 30, 2005, ITLA is the largest diversified bank holding company headquartered in San Diego, California. ITLA conducts its operations through Imperial Capital Bank, a California state chartered commercial bank, and the Imperial Capital Real Estate Investment Trust.

Industry News
Detroit big-3 could fall further Detroit big-3 could fall furtherWithin just five years, General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and the Auburn Hills-based Chrysler Group will make only about half of the cars and trucks sold in the United States, several top automotive experts told the Free Press.

It would be an almost unheard-of blow for U.S. automakers, which are clinging to 57% of the U.S. market today. And with China gearing up to sell cars in America, some say that number could even dip to 45% or less.

Experts are revising their numbers downward as the companies continue losing ground to foreign competitors.

It's a sign of these global, changing times. Forty years ago, the former Big Three made and sold nearly all of the cars and trucks bought by U.S. consumers. GM had 51% of the U.S. market.

It is difficult to emphasize enough just how important every point of U.S. market share is for automakers and workers. One percentage point represents more than 168,000 car and truck sales, and it keeps a lone assembly plant and several parts factories in operation. What's more important, it keeps thousands of salaried and hourly workers employed, feeding their families, sending their kids to school and supporting their communities.

But this steadily dropping domestic market share has some wondering just where rock bottom is for the troubled local auto industry.  More at Detroit Free Press

Racing News
Les Richter honored Les Richter honoredUPDATE #2 The Fabulous Fifties honored California native Les "Coach" Richter with the Lindley Bothwell Lifetime Achievement Award during their annual banquet at the Petersen Automotive Museum on Wednesday evening, December 7.

Guests honoring Mr. Richter included Ram's teammate Merlin Olsen, Dan Gurney on Riverside International Raceway, Greg Penske on early California Speedway, California Speedway President Gillian Zucker on NASCAR, George Follmer on IROC, Andy Porterfield on SCCA and Shav Glick of the Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Richter currently serves as vice president of special projects for International Speedway Corporation (ISC) and based at California Speedway. He was instrumental in the development of the two-mile, state-of-the-art superspeedway, overseeing the project for builder Roger Penske from demolition of the historic Kaiser Steel Mill, to its transformation into a world-class racing facility. The opening of the Speedway marked the return of professional oval track auto racing to the Southern California region. Mr. Richter served as the first Grand Marshal for the inaugural California 500 presented by NAPA on June 22, 1997.

A veteran motorsports executive, Mr. Richter's name is synonymous with motor racing in Southern California. In 1959, he became the executive director of Riverside International Raceway (RIR). Two years later, he became the president and general manager of RIR, a position that he held until 1983. He is credited with making RIR consistently profitable through his nationally known innovations and creativity, including the creation and promotion of the NASCAR Motor Trend 500 in 1963, and the planning and execution of the raceway's $3.6 million improvement plan in 1969.

Mr. Richter is the chairman of the board for the International Race of Champions (IROC). Known to many as auto racing's "All-Star Event", IROC is open only to the world's twelve best drivers, who are selected and invited to participate in one of motor racing's most unique competitions.

Mr. Richter's 11-year association with the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) began in 1983, and in 1986, he became NASCAR's executive vice president of competition. In 1992, Mr. Richter was named senior vice president of operations for NASCAR. He is arguably the most respected individual throughout the NASCAR Garages.

A native of Fresno, California, Mr. Richter graduated from Fresno High School, where he served as student body president and captain of the football team. Mr. Richter graduated from the University of California at Berkeley where he was valedictorian of the 1952 graduating class. As an All-American linebacker, Mr. Richter's football heroics led to his eventual election to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Richter was the first player chosen in the regular draft of the National Football League in 1952. The New York Yankees Professional Football Club, who moved to Texas that year to become the Dallas Texans, selected him. On June 13, 1952, the Los Angeles Rams traded 11 players and draft choices to the Dallas Texans for the rights to Les Richter - an NFL record. Mr. Richter went on to play for the Rams for nine years, making all-pro as a linebacker for eight years.

Mr. Richter served in the United States Army during the Korean War as a 1st Lieutenant of the 44th Infantry Division.

Affectionately known as "Coach" - from his days coaching an army football team while stationed at Fort Lewis Washington and later as a Player/Coach with the Rams - he resides in Riverside, California, with his wife Marilyn, and is the father of a son, Jon, and a daughter, Anne. 12/08/05 We failed to mention that Alice Hanks was the wife of Sam Hanks who won the 1957 Indy 500. 12/08/05 The Fabulous '50s Club of Southern California had its 18th Annual Christmas Party at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles on Wednesday night December 7th. Les Richter was honored with the Lindley Bothwell "Lifetime Achievement Award". He was feted by Carroll Shelby, Dan Gurney, George Follmer, Dick Bass (former LA Rams teammate), Greg Penske and Gillian Zucker. Pictured is Scooter Patrick (L) with George Follmer (R).

(L to R) Greg Penske, President of Penske Automotive Group, Gillian Zucker, President California Speedway, Phil Hill with Alice Hanks, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Les Richter (Honoree) and Billy Krause

 Stories and photo by Steven Levinson/AutoRacing1.com.

Honda hopes to retain Davidson Honda hopes to retain DavidsonHonda Racing team boss Nick Fry has admitted that he is hoping to retain the services of British driver Anthony Davidson for the 2006 season. Davidson, and former BAR team-mate Takuma Sato, have both been linked to race seats with the Super Aguri F1 team – which is still attempting to take its place on the grid for next season after an initial entry was rejected by the FIA.

"We are hoping that he's going to be our third driver," Fry told Reuters. "I think that a combination of Jenson, Rubens and Anthony will be absolutely top line.

"Clearly we've got a moral and legal obligation to allow Anthony to race if someone else offers him a race drive, but we're hoping very much he stays with us because he'll have a great year and learn a lot from Jenson and Rubens and they'll be a great team.

"If he's given the opportunity the following year, once Aguri has had the chance to get up to speed, then I think that will be great for him."

A1 Grand Prix
A1GP series comes home to Dubai A1GP series comes home to DubaiDubai plays host to its home grown championship this week when A1 Grand Prix celebrates the mid point in its inaugural season at the Dubai Autodrome. Under the royal patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and UAE Defense Minister, the race will focus the eyes of the world on Dubai as an anticipated global television audience of 10 million viewers tune in to watch the action.

The five events to date have provided spectacular racing and series Founder, President and Chairman, Sheikh Maktoum took the opportunity to announce prior to his home event plans for the future. There are now five new Franchises available for 2006/2007, so bringing the total number of national teams to 30. The Dubai event is the only one where there will be no national team racing, but this will be rectified as the UAE is planning to enter a team for next season. The training of six drivers for this team is already well advanced and there are plans to set up both a junior and a senior team.

Despite no local A1GP team, the interest in Dubai could not be higher for the race and its participants. A series of promotional events are being held in and around the city with the drivers having already visited the Class 1 World Offshore Powerboat Grand Prix dry pits ahead of their race on Friday. After the race an A1 car will be on display at the Dubai Motor Show and A1 Team Lebanon drivers, Khalil Beshir and Basil Shaaban will be visiting. zzzz

Even before a car had hit the track A1GP was trying a new innovation in motor sport - a helicopter to lift abandoned cars off the track. In the first trial of this system today (Thursday) a single-engined Swiss helicopter from Air Zermatt demonstrated the speed with which a stricken car could be removed. Piloted by Samuel Summermatter, a veteran of 50,000 lifts, the helicopter had a fifty meter iron cable slung beneath it and removed a test car in a fraction of the time that conventional tow vehicles would have taken. This system known as A1 Recovery is now being studied for possible inclusion in the series.

In Dubai there will be some new helmets in the cars. For two additional Friday morning practice sessions A1 Team Great Britain is introducing the first female driver to the series, Katherine Legge, who has already tested for the outgoing Minardi Formula One team. John Surtees, the only man to have been world champion on both two and four wheels, now Team Principal of A1 Team Great Britain said: 'We are taking the opportunity of the extra test sessions in Dubai to assess Katherine in the car. By doing so, we'll have the opportunity of broadening our driver line up and strengthening our team. I am very pleased she will be joining us.' Meanwhile A1 Team New Zealand will also take the opportunity to run a new driver to the series during these Friday morning tests. Scott Dixon, a former IndyCar Series Champion, will be having his first taste of an A1GP car. Despite being a New Zealander, the 25-year-old who lives in Indianapolis in the USA was born in Brisbane, Australia.

A1 Team USA will also be running with a new driver, their third to date. Phil Giebler is now racing in the USA, but in 2001, 2002 and 2003 raced in Formula 3 and Formula 3000 in Europe. Rick Weidinger, seat holder for A1 Team USA said: 'Phil is a great driver and has had much success racing in Europe and we are looking forward to his performance on December 11. Bryan Herta is still with the team and will compete for us again in the spring.'

While the original A1GP schedule included 12 races, several of them were provisional depending on track licenses, etc. Unfortunately, the Brazilian race in Curitiba planned for 12 February has had to be cancelled. Currently an alternative venue is being investigated but there is no news on where this could be.

As the midway point of the season approaches, competition remains intense. A1 Teams Switzerland and Brazil, separated by only five points, will be fighting for second place in the Series, and hoping to close down the gap to A1 Team France, which has a 27 point lead after eight consecutive race wins. Further down the field A1 Teams Malaysia, Netherlands, Ireland, Portugal and Australia are separated by just six points and are all battling to move up the championship table.

A1 Teams Lebanon, India and Pakistan are viewing the Dubai race as their home event. While Lebanon and India will be fighting to score their first points of the Series, the historic competition between India and Pakistan will be intensified following the A1 Grand Prix of Nations in Malaysia when a collision with A1 Team India saw Pakistan retire to the pits.

Sheikh Maktoum said: 'This will not only be a spectacular weekend for A1 Grand Prix but for Dubai itself. Fashion, film, cars and adrenaline filled sports will descend on the region and we will provide some of the most amazing, close motor racing that Dubai has ever seen. I hope everyone will come out and support the A1 Grand Prix series.'

Spectators from all over the region are expected to attend the event from the 9 - 11 December and are encouraged to sport their national colors in support of their local A1 Team. The first 100 'Best Dressed' fans representing each national team will receive free entry on race day. Simply by turning up to the main ticket booth dressed to support a national team, 100 race goers will be able to watch the best wheel to wheel racing free of charge.

After all the racing concludes for the winter recess, an A1 Grand Prix car will be on display at the Dubai Motor Show which opens to the public on Monday 12 December. A1 Grand Prix drivers will also be on hand to talk to members of the press about being involved in the inaugural series of the first World Cup of Motorsport.

Trulli has productive day Trulli has productive dayJarno Trulli made an early start to his final test of 2005 at Jerez today, flying in to take over where Ralf Schumacher left off yesterday, after Schumacher fell ill with a hurt back. Trulli arrived at lunchtime and put in a packed afternoon's work on the TF106, following on from his first run in the new car last week at Barcelona. Ryan Briscoe continued his return to an F1 cockpit in the other car, completing a full day of work on set-up, weight distribution and tires. Panasonic Toyota Racing's Ricardo Zonta will take over from Briscoe for the rest of the week.

"I was originally scheduled to start my test here tomorrow, but the change of plan meant we were able to fit in some extra running today," Trulli said. "I only arrived in Jerez at about noon so it was a very busy afternoon for us. Just as last week in Barcelona, the new TF106 felt well balanced and we got through a lot of laps. So it was a very positive day overall. We made it through a lot of set-up comparisons so this has been a useful starting point for the next two days when I will continue to test here."

Technical director Mike Gascoyne commented, "That was a constructive day. Both cars ran very reliably and we only had one small mechanical issue when Ryan stopped with a hydraulic problem. Even so, he completed most of his program. I have to say that considering Ryan has not driven an F1 car for a year and that this was his first time since his huge shunt in the IRL he's done an excellent job over the two days, both in terms of consistency and speed. So I congratulate him for conducting an excellent two-day test program at very short notice. Jarno started his program earlier than we expected, replacing Ralf. He, too, was able to complete his whole day's program with no worries. He was working with Bridgestone on their reference tires, looking to get a better balance and he made some useful progress."

Maury Kraines dies 1920-2005 Maury Kraines dies 1920-2005UPDATE Indy Speedway Press Release: Maury Kraines, the winning Indianapolis 500 car entrant of 1992, died Nov. 29 of heart failure in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He was 84.

Kraines, whose Kraco car stereos have been world renowned for several decades, participated in the "500" for the 13 consecutive events held between 1980-92, first as a sponsor and later as a team entrant.

Beginning modestly with Larry "Boom Boom" Cannon and a 33rd-place finish in 1980, Kraines became a car entrant for the first time in 1983. Mike Mosley qualified for the middle of the front row that year, only to suffer wall contact while running fifth with only 30 laps to go.

Geoff Brabham and rookie Michael Andretti came on board in 1984, Andretti making his first five Indianapolis starts for the Kraco team. Four of those resulted in top-10 finishes, a fourth place in 1988 being the highest.

"Maury was just a great guy," Andretti said Dec. 8. "I loved the guy. He was a fun guy to be around. He gave me my big break to run the Indy cars. He became a good friend, and he's going to be really missed."

Kevin Cogan was Andretti's teammate for 1985, after which Kraines elected to field one driver only. Bobby Rahal replaced Andretti in 1989. The next year, Kraines merged his team with that of Rick Galles so that Rahal and Al Unser Jr. became teammates. Rahal and Unser placed second and fourth, respectively, in the 1990 Indianapolis 500.

Evidently deciding to quit while he was ahead, Kraines retired after the 1992 season in which Unser and Danny Sullivan finished first and fifth, respectively, in the Indianapolis 500. Galles assumed control of the team.  zzzz

Kraines founded Kraco Enterprises in 1954. He was actively involved in the company until his death. Kraines served in the Army Air Force in World War II and the Korean War as a B-29 bomber pilot.

Survivors include his wife, Yasuko Kraines; sons, Larry, Steve, Dan and Ted Kraines; sister Anne Firestone; eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service took place Dec. 7 in Rancho Mirage.

Contributions can be made to Chabad of California, c/o The Kraines Family Early Childhood Education Center in Los Angeles.

12/01/05 Maury Kraines, car owner of the Kraco CART team that gave Michael Andretti his start in Champ Cars and also gave rides to drivers like Bobby Rahal, has died at the age of 85. Services are at 1:00PM today at Shalom Memorial Park in Sylmar, CA.  He died in Rancho Mirage, CA  at home.
Randy Ruhlman tests Daytona Prototype Randy Ruhlman tests Daytona PrototypeRandy Ruhlman, fresh from his ground breaking Trans-Am season in the #49 Preformed Line Products Corvette, jumped into testing in a Daytona Prototype car at Miami-Homestead Speedway Monday and Tuesday.  Running in the #15 CB Motorsports Riley-Scott Pontiac, Ruhlman easily made the transition from big front engine, rear wheel drive sedans to the rear engine prototype Grand American series car and put in some fast lap times, while learning some of the subtleties of Prototype racing.

The Grand American Series is the fastest growing road racing series in the world.  Its beginnings and continuing ties to the NASCAR family of racing series affords it great visibility and longevity. The series, which hosts over 45 Daytona Prototype entrants, has a full Television package on the SPEED Channel with the majority of races shown live or same day coverage.         

Ruhlman said, "I have always loved driving in the Trans-Am series and we had a great season in 2005, coming just short of winning the Driver's Championship.  Last week while we were in South Africa, the opportunity came up for me to drive at this Grand-Am DP test here at Homestead. Now, as we are coming to find out down here, the future of Trans-Am has become increasingly questionable. The timing of this test gives us the opportunity to experience Grand Am DP first hand and evaluate the series as a good direction to pursue."

"The DP car was easy to drive, and fun to go flat out on the high banking on Turns 3 and 4.  I have always been really good on equipment and tires, and this endurance style of driving should suit my strong points. So, while one chapter of racing may be closing for us, this certainly opens an exciting new direction. We are going to go home and find out what is and isn't possible for the 2006 season, and then get out there and start getting ready for the new year," finished Ruhlman.

Double digit return for ALMS sponsors Double digit return for ALMS sponsors In a year where it saw significant growth in multiple areas, the American Le Mans Series can boast yet another high-watermark for 2005. Series corporate partners realized a 13 percent increase in television exposure values and more than $50 million in advertising, according to data from Joyce Julius & Associates.

During the 10-race 2005 season, the American Le Mans Series delivered more than $109,647,000 of value to those associated with the series through its television and broadcast coverage, an increase of more than 11 percent from a year ago.

More telling, the American Le Mans Series' 13 corporate partners garnered 46 percent of that total. On a per-race basis, those same partners saw an average of $5 million in exposure, again up from 2004.

"It is gratifying to see those who put so much into our series get this type of return on their commitment and investment," said Scott Atherton, American Le Mans President and CEO. "There is no question that the series delivers a very unique motorsports product - one that appeals to both viewers and sponsors. While the priority of all our race broadcasts is to entertain, it also is important to integrate the needs of our partners within each telecast. Our television partners have done a marvelous job to position our racing as some of the most exciting and competitive on the planet while at the same time involving our sponsors in very meaningful and relevant ways."  zzzz

Among series corporate partners, Porsche again led the way with more than $11.2 million in exposure. The German manufacturer saw an increase of more than 20 percent over the year-end figure from 2004. Other premium automobile marques Audi ($7.57 million) and Chevrolet ($6.16 million) were next.

Tire manufacturers Michelin and Pirelli each garnered more than $5.5 million in mentions. Overall, the diversity of series sponsors is reflected in the rankings. Premium auto and tire manufacturers, high-end fashion firms and other elite companies offering more specialized wares are among those who have partnered with the American Le Mans Series.

"These are high-end corporations that are receiving unmatched returns from the premium brand of motorsports in North America," said Atherton. "We have never had a better year, and the level of commitment from our sponsors is a significant reason why. Having the best television package in our series' history next year will only continue to grow these kind of results for our partners."

The results certainly will continue their upward trend in 2006 with a television package that features five consecutive series broadcasts on CBS, along with five races on SPEED Channel.

American Le Mans Series telecasts often break the mold when it comes to unique coverage aspects, including elements such as high-end aerial coverage for all events, telemetry, personality profiles, up-close-and personal features, direct radio communication with the drivers and promotions. All are designed to entertain and inform the series growing fan base.

"While the actual dollar value of this exposure is constantly debated, the methodology and measurement standards are uniform for all the series that Joyce Julius monitors," Atherton noted. "With that said, when the American Le Mans Series is compared with virtually any other series, the 'value equation' makes us a clear winner by every measure. We are a world-class platform that also provides tremendous value to all involved."

In addition to its double-digit growth on ROI for its corporate partners, the American Le Mans Series has witnessed similar increases in attendance, corporate sponsorships and manufacturer participation.

But there is much more than just broadcast results that makes the series attractive to some of the most elite partners in all of motorsports. The American Le Mans Series impacts nine of the top 20 markets in the United States, as well as the No. 1 market in Canada, providing valuable customer exposure to its corporate partners.

"With this type of exposure and these types of increases and returns on investment, if the American Le Mans Series were a stock, every broker in the country would be recommending 'buy'," Atherton said.

Day 2 of 5 testing for MF1 Racing Day 2 of 5 testing for MF1 RacingTiago Monteiro and Jeffrey van Hooydonk continued MF1 Racing's test program today in Jerez, making steady progress and completing 25 and 80 laps respectively. Van Hooydonk spent part of the day familiarizing himself with the EJ15B car and tested control systems as well as collecting aerodynamic data. He set an encouraging time of 1:21.61. Monteiro, who was driving the interim EJ15B V8, had a difficult day as he lost a considerable amount of time during the day with some car problems. Testing will continue tomorrow with Christian Albers and Tiago Monteiro.

Tiago Monteiro said: It was a difficult day for me today but I guess this is what winter tests are for. We had several different problems which prevented us from doing the work we wanted. Unfortunately I was unable to complete as many laps as we had planned. Today was also the first time I have tried the Toyota V8 and obviously there is a big difference. We have a lot of work to do as this changes the balance and the electronics of the car as well as the driving style. Tomorrow I am going to drive both the V8 and V10 cars so it will be interesting to compare them. Although we had a lot of problems, the team has done a great job fixing the car as quickly as possible and I thank them for that." Jeffrey van Hooydonk commented: I am really happy with the way the day went today. It was a tough day as this morning it took a long time for the tires to warm up because of the cold temperature of the track. Then my program was constantly interrupted by red flags, which made it harder to keep up the pace as I was sometimes sitting stationary in the car for a long time. I was not feeling very comfortable in the car because normally when you do a seat fitting you need time to get used to it. Now I am used to it but unfortunately the day is over. However, I am very satisfied with my first test and now I know exactly what it is all about and I hope in the future I will have another opportunity."

Dominic Harlow, Chief Race & Test Engineer, added: For the second day of the test here Tiago got his first taste of the V8 car and we continued with our test program. We had one or two issues that delayed us for a while and there were a lot of red flags with so many cars on the track today. However that is what testing is about though and we have collected more data to work on tonight. Jeffrey did a good job today covering 80 laps in his first major F1 test, and working well with the engineers and the team. We completed some control systems testing and aerodynamic data collection as well as proving some development components. It is always interesting to work with different drivers and we have developed a program that allows the driver and the team to get a lot of valuable information out of these test days."
Driver Team Time
J. van Hooydonk MF1 Racing 1:21.61
T. Monteiro MF1 Racing 1:24.34

Ford Racing Signs Truck Championship Team Ford Racing Signs Truck Championship TeamIt’s already the No. 1 truck in the marketplace. Now, the No. 1 truck in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is a Ford F-150.
Ultra Motorsports, which fields the No. 1 truck that was driven to the 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship by Ted Musgrave, signed a multi-year contract with Ford Racing, starting with the 2006 season.
“The addition of Ultra Motorsports shows the level of commitment Ford Racing is making to improve its truck program,” said Greg Specht, Manager, North American Racing Operations, Ford Racing Technology. “Ultra Motorsports is a championship-level team with a long history of success in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.  They had several very successful years with Ford, and we are elated that they’re returning home to our program.” zzzz
Ultra Motorsports owner Jim Smith – one of the founding members of the truck series, campaigning Ford F-150s from 1995-2000 – said he is pleased about reuniting with the manufacturer.
“I’m excited to be reunited with Ford Racing,” said Smith. “We started in this series running a Ford, and the F-150 with the Roush-Yates engine package looks to be the ticket for 2006. Team ASE/Ultra Wheel looks forward to defending the Craftsman Truck Series Championship in a Ford.”
Ultra Motorsports, which won 10 races in six years with Ford Racing the first time around, has produced at least one victory each year throughout the history of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (1995-present).
Musgrave, who has competed in all three of NASCAR’s top-tier series, won his first-ever championship at any level in 2005, clinching the title with a 20th-place finish in the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.
“In the Cup Series I ran Ford quite often, and I still see familiar faces now today when I’m coming back,” said Musgrave, who drove Ford Thunderbirds and Tauruses in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series from 1992-2001. “I’m very familiar with the folks at Ford and know the support that they give to their teams in the sport. As they say, they’ve been in racing for 100 years, and I think I’ve raced 100 years with Ford.
“It’s pretty exciting to go back. In racing, everybody has to pick the best thing that they can to go out and win races and win championships. The time was here to make the change and try to do that again.”
Musgrave is among the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series’ all-time leaders in victories, top-fives, top-10s, poles and money won. Prior to winning the championship last year, he finished second in the standings in 2001, and was third in 2002-04. Winning another championship, this time in a Ford F-150, he says, is not out of the question.
“If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t be here or I wouldn’t be racing,” he said. “I can’t see why we wouldn’t be able to defend the championship. You can’t stick your chest out and say that you’re going to, because you know how Lady Luck can wrong you. But I’m going to have the people and the tools to be able to do it, that’s for sure.”
The addition of Ultra Motorsports also gives Ford the most successful 1-2 lineup in the truck series in 2006. Ultra Motorsports’ 36 victories are the second-most in series history, trailing only Roush Racing (37), another Ford Racing-backed organization. Ford Racing
Villeneuve compares V10 vs. V8 Villeneuve compares V10 vs. V8Jacques Villeneuve: "It's always nice to get into the car after the break. Furthermore, it was the first time for me with BMW and the V8 engine, and this was nice. Of course, it's hard to compare the V8 with the V10, but I was expecting a bigger loss of power and more vibrations. It was not too bad and actually quite nice to drive. In fact you do feel a little loss of power, but it doesn't make driving less fun. The speed in the corners seems to be the same while you are going slower on the straights. Nevertheless, the driving will still be exciting and physical. Hopefully since we are all going less fast on the straights this will give us a bigger tow and this could mean more overtaking in the future."
Travis Kvapil Permitted To Pursue Other Opportunities Travis Kvapil Permitted To Pursue Other OpportunitiesWith the recent decision by Penske-Jasper Racing and Eastman Kodak Company to not field the No. 77 Kodak Dodge in the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season, 2005 rookie Travis Kvapil is permitted to seek other driving opportunities.

“I want to thank Travis for what he has provided to Penske-Jasper Racing during this year,” said Roger Penske. “Travis is a talented driver and an excellent ambassador for our team and our sponsors. While it is unfortunate that we will not field the Kodak Dodge in 2006, I am confident that Travis will find the opportunity to drive another car next year.”

Kodak, which will continue as an associate sponsor with the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, intends to re-enter the No. 77 Kodak Dodge in the 2007 NEXTEL Cup season.

Ferrari confirm mechanical failure Ferrari confirm mechanical failureSecond day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari, at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit, in Andalusia. Once again today, the two official test drivers, Luca Badoer and Marc Gene were on track. The Scuderia’s session was interrupted just before midday after Badoer, at the wheel of an F2005, suffered an off-track excursion as a result of a mechanical failure at the front right corner of the car.

The driver was unhurt, but the team decided not to continue with the planned test program until the cause of the breakage, which occurred in the same way as yesterday’s, was identified.

Up until that point, Badoer had done 15 laps, the quickest in a time of 1.18.223. At the wheel of an F2004 M, fitted with a V8 engine, Gene had done one lap less than his team-mate, with a best time of 1.21.121. Source Ferrari Press

Tough day for McLaren at Jerez Tough day for McLaren at JerezWinter testing continued for McLaren at the Circuito de Jerez today with Alex Wurz joining Gary Paffett in Spain. Alex's day was affected following an incident early in the morning session, when the Austrian had an accident. Although Alex was unhurt his MP4-20B chassis was badly damaged and as a result he did not return to the track until shortly after 14:00. The team are currently investigating the cause of the incident.

Gary completed his morning program; however it was interrupted by frequent red flag stoppages. His running was cut short following an engine failure just after 15:00, which happened on the main straight and as his rear wheels locked, the car span backwards into a wall. The British driver covered over 310 kilometers in total during the day and was ninth on the timesheets with a 1m20.482.

Pedro de la Rosa will return to the test tomorrow to partner Alex Wurz. McLaren Mercedes

Ferrari fastest in Jerez Ferrari fastest in JerezDespite his 2nd crash in as many days, Ferrari test driver was the fastest in testing Thursday at Jerez.  Badoer was shaken and taken to the hospital for observations.
1. L. Badoer - Ferrari V10 - 1'18"237 (+0"000) - 13 laps
2. J. Button - BAR Honda V8 - 1'19"094 (+0"857) - 71 laps
3. F. Montagny - Renault V10 - 1'19"219 (+0"982) - 105 laps
4. H. Kovalainen - Renault V10 - 1'19"287 (+1"050) - 110 laps
5. R. Briscoe - Toyota V8 - 1'19"563 (+1"326) - 65 laps
6. J. Trulli - Toyota V8 - 1'19"935 (+1"698) - 59 laps
7. M. Webber - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1'20"343 (+2"106) - 44 laps
8. N. Rosberg - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1'20"464 (+2"227) - 25 laps
9. G. Paffett - McLaren Mercedes V8 - 1'20"484 (+2"247) - 69 laps
10. J. Rossiter - Honda V8 - 1'20"603 (+2"366) - 68 laps
11. D. Coulthard - Red Bull Cosworth V10 - 1'20"854 (+2"617) - 47 laps
12. A. Wurz - McLaren Mercedes V8 - 1'20"895 (+2"658) - 29 laps
13. C. Klien - Red Bull Cosworth V10 - 1'21"008 (+2"771) - 10 laps
14. M. Gene - Ferrari V8 - 1'21"122 (+2"885) - 13 laps
15. J. Van Hooydonk - MF1 Toyota V10 - 1'21"625 (+3"388) - 78 laps
16. J. Villeneuve - BMW Sauber V8 - 1'21"684 (+3"447) - 64 laps
17. T. Monteiro – MF1 Toyota V8 - 1'24"367 (+6"130) - 23 laps
Racing News
State offers incentives to woo NASCAR race teams State offers incentives to woo NASCAR race teamsIndiana has Tony Stewart, NASCAR's champion driver, living within its borders. Now state officials want a NASCAR team to move here too.
The motor sports development director for Gov. Mitch Daniels confirmed Wednesday one Nextel Cup team considering relocation recently visited Indianapolis, and a second, whose driver finished in the top 10, will do so Dec. 15.

"We're concentrating on all types of motor sports," said Matt Steward, who in January became the state's first director of motor sports development. "But when you're talking about getting a big hitter, you're talking about a Cup team. We want one."

Most of the top NASCAR teams are deeply rooted in North Carolina. But Steward said Daniels, a first-term governor, is committed to attracting a Cup team.

"If the deal is right, we will be very aggressive with tax incentives," Steward said.
Financial breaks could provide the impetus for a team to move north.

"Have them call me," said Jay Frye, CEO, general manager and part-owner of MB2 Motorsports, which will field Joe Nemechek and Sterling Marlin in 2006. "Indy is the easiest place to be if you're not in Charlotte. There is a built-in infrastructure with capable engineers, mechanics and racing people. It would work."  More at IndyStar.com

A bad day at Jerez A bad day at JerezJerez, in coastal southern Spain, was the scene of a formula one scare or two on Thursday.

On day two of the busy group test, McLaren tester Alex Wurz emerged unhurt after smashing his interim MP4-20 into the barriers. The shunt was caused by unspecified mechanical failure, initial reports said.

Not long after, Ferrari's Luca Badoer suffered a huge accident. Sources explained that, not long before lunch, the Italian test veteran was taken to the medical centre after his scarlet car nearly rolled in the gravel before burying itself in a tire barrier.

A bruise or two aside, Badoer is apparently unhurt.

Also having a bad day is Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, whose first lap at the wheel as BMW Sauber's continuing race driver ended as he rolled to a stop.

Industry News
BMW sales surpass 2004 already BMW sales surpass 2004 alreadyThe BMW Group has announced sales of 1,211,177 BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce cars in the period up to the end of November 2005. This marks a rise of 10.8% over the same period last year (1,093,380). This means that in the first eleven months of 2005, more vehicles were sold than in the whole of 2004 (1,208,724). In November 2005, the BMW Group sold 114,044 automobiles. This is a 9.5% increase compared with the same month last year (104,174).
First laps for Albers at MF1 Racing First laps for Albers at MF1 RacingMF1 Racing began a two-car test at Jerez, Spain, Wednesday with Christijan Albers and Thomas Biagi driving. For his first proper test in an F1 car, Biagi spent time familiarizing himself with the EJ15B car and completed 91 laps. He focused on the electronic software development and Bridgestone tire development and set an encouraging time of 1:21.82. Albers was at the wheel of an interim EJ15B V8 car for the first time and conducted all the necessary system checks.

He completed 51 laps with a fastest lap of 1:23.19 and was able to provide some very useful data to the team. The test will continue with Tiago Monteiro and Belgian driver Jeffrey van Hooydonk.

Christijan Albers “I think it was a reasonable day today but we still have a lot of work to do. It is nice to get to know the team and work together. We have been trying to get the car to suit my driving style, however, this is not easy and it takes time. We had some little issues today but I think this is normal with a new engine and a new package. I am quite happy and hopefully it will get much better by the end of the week.”

Thomas Biagi   “I am happy with the result of this test. For the first time in my career, I have done a lot of kilometers in a Formula One car. I was working step by step with the team and all the engineers helped me understand the car. We have tried different settings on traction control for instance, which is something new for me. I think my performance today was quite good but for sure, if I had been running tomorrow, I would have improved my lap times still further. Since August, I have been preparing hard physically with my trainers from the ISO Kinetic centre in order to be ready for this opportunity and I would like to thank him for that. I also want to thank MF1 Racing my sponsors and my manager Eva for that great experience.”

James Key, MF1 Technical Director  "We have run the V8 car for the first time today and we did not have any major issues with it which is positive. The installation that we did for the interim car has been good, the engine has performed as we expected and hoped and has proved reliable."

"We have a few issues we have to solve for tomorrow but nothing fundamental. Christijan’s feedback has been very useful. He picked up on a few things which we can work on tonight to improve his set-up. We also have some work to do with Bridgestone on the new tires for next year in the next few days. Thomas has done a great job today with some good lap times. He did not have any problems adapting to an F1 car and has contributed well to our efforts today. All in all, we are pleased with the progress.“ MF1 Racing

Badoer crashes Ferrari again at Jerez Badoer crashes Ferrari again at JerezFerrari test driver Luca Badoer has been taken to the Jerez circuit's medical centre following a huge accident on the second morning of testing. The Italian, who was returning to action in a new chassis today following a crash at the hairpin on Wednesday, suffered an almost identical accident at 11.46 am this morning. Ferrari's second test driver Marc Gene visited Badoer in the medical centre and told autosport.com the Italian was shocked but otherwise not hurt. Autosport.com

Along with most of its rivals, Ferrari hit the testing trail yesterday at Jerez.

The team had its two official test drivers, Luca Badoer and Marc Gene on track, the former at the wheel of an F2005, fitted with an engine modified to conform to the 2006 technical regulations.

Badoer worked mainly on the development of Bridgestone tires, but the session ended early because of a mechanical failure on the right front corner of the car. Up to that point, the Italian had covered 40 laps, the quickest in a time of 1.20.840.

Gene drove an F2004, carrying out reliability testing on the new V8 engine, in conjunction with Shell. The Spaniard covered a total of 84 laps, setting a best time of 1.19.692.

Testing continues at this circuit today, again with Luca Badoer and Marc Gene on track. Source Ferrari

A1 Grand Prix
A1 Team Malaysia's Fairuz To Skip Dubai A1 Team Malaysia's Fairuz To Skip DubaiA1 Team Malaysia's Fairuz Fauzy will miss this weekend's A1 Grand Prix of Nations round 6 in Dubai as he prepares for his coming wedding this month. Fairuz presented his lovely fiancée, Dara, for the first time at the Malaysian A1GP round in Sepang 3 weeks ago (right). Despite, his current pre-occupation for his marital plans, we have no doubt that Fairuz will be glued to his TV set at home to cheer the Malaysian team and Alex Yoong on.
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Midland make track debut
Briscoe in for ill Panis
A sunny day in Spain
Narain in Williams spin
'Rosberg Jr' defends Williams
FIA revamp contentious court
Aguri has 'even' chance
F1 split on road to repair
Alonso ignores title critique
Rally star wants Ferrari test
'STR' to race own car
FIA tweak 'knockout' format
Injured Ralf quits test
Otto new Crew Chief for No. 49 Otto new Crew Chief for No. 49Ron Otto has been named crew chief for the #49 BAM Racing Dodge of rookie driver Brent Sherman. Otto was promoted from car chief. "We are very excited that Ron Otto will be leading our race team in 2006, and working with Brent Sherman," said Beth Ann Morgenthau, who owns BAM Racing along with her husband, Tony. "Brent's potential as a driver and Ron's experience in working with rookie drivers, not to mention his talents and skills mechanically and as an organizational leader, will lead to a great year for our race team," Ms. Morgenthau said. The 41-year-old Otto is a native of Gahanna, Ohio, just outside of Columbus, but has been working in NASCAR racing since he began has a fabricator for Bobby Dotter. Otto is a former car chief for Richard Childress Racing, where he worked with Dale Earnhardt, and has worked with Terry Labonte and Mike Skinner in the past. As crew chief for the startup of Tommy Baldwin Racing in the 2004 Busch Series, Otto began a team with just four people, competed with seven different drivers - including two rookies who had never been in a Busch car - in a single season. "Yeah, that was an experience," Otto laughed, "but one that could help in working with Brent this year. If nothing else, I have an idea of what to expect and areas where I can be the most help. All indications are he has a tremendous amount of potential, and I like the fact he wants to race hard. This is a great opportunity for me and I really appreciate Beth Ann, Tony and (General Manager) Eddie Jones having the faith in me to do this," he continued. "I've watched this team grow and improve over the years, and I know they are solid and headed in the right direction. I know I am not the only one here looking forward to a really bright future." Otto is engaged to Renee Sanders, and has two sons, R.J. and Kacey. Williams Company
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