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Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Gracia tips de la Rosa for McLaren seat
  • Ralf sued by former housekeeper
  • Fisichella would consider top test seat
  • Hamilton hopes for tough contest in 2008

Gracia tips de la Rosa for McLaren seat
(GMM)  The highest ranking Spanish motor racing official admits Pedro de la Rosa is facing an uphill battle to be named Lewis Hamilton's new McLaren teammate for 2008.

Carlos Gracia, president of the country's motor sports federation and a World Motor Sport Council member, told Radio Marca that the British team's veteran Spanish test driver is the logical choice to replace the departed Fernando Alonso next year.

He suggests, however, that F1 chiefs often "lack common sense".

"If things are decided by using common sense, then I would say it will be Pedro," Gracia said when asked who he thinks McLaren should replace Alonso with.

He added: "However, often in the world of F1, in some teams, common sense is the least prevalent of the senses."

On McLaren boss Ron Dennis' invitation, Gracia observed Alonso's final grand prix weekend for the team in late October from the Interlagos garage, to ensure the Spaniard was treated fairly for the title finale. More ...

New challenge for Pakistan in China  UPDATE A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, How can A1GP manage to pull off a race in Zhuhai, China and Champ Car can't?  Dave East

Dear Dave, Quite simple - Champ Car is not willing to lose a large sum of money on the event but A1GP seems quite happy to continue to lose large sums of money without blinking an eye.  With the Ferrari name coming on board, perhaps that will change over time.  Mark C.

12/12/07 A1 Team Pakistan face a new challenge this weekend, as the team prepare for the A1GP Zhuhai, China.  Situated close to Hong Kong and Macau, Zhuhai is the first of two visits the team will make to China this season.  A new track on the A1GP calendar, all 22 teams will experience the Zhuhai circuit for the first time when track action commences on Friday.  22 year-old Adam Khan will again take his place behind the wheel for this, the fourth event in the 2007/08 season.

Built in 1996, the Zhuhai International Circuit was the first permanent motor racing circuit in China, and was upgraded in 1999 by the renowned designer Hermann Tilke.  At 4.3 km long, the circuit features 14 corners and several long straights, designed to facilitate overtaking.  With 520 bhp and an extra 30 bhp available with the PowerBoost facility, the 22 A1GP cars are bound to put on a spectacular show. More ...

Melo, Salo Capture AARWBA First Team Honors  

Jaime Melo

Jaime Melo and Mika Salo, who captured the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 championship for Risi Competizione in their Ferrari F430 GT, took first team At-Large honors on the 2007 All-American Racing Team as voted by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters (AARWBA).

Melo and Salo won eight of 12 races in the American Le Mans Series GT2 class last season, winning a second consecutive team championship for Houston-based Risi Competizione. The duo started the season seemingly invincible, winning the first four races including a scintillating last turn bump and lead swap at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring against year-long nemesis Flying Lizard Motorsport in their Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. It resulted in the closest finish in the history of that legendary endurance classic (just .202 of a second). After a mid-season Risi dry spell propelled the Lizards back into the championship race, Melo and Salo closed the season with another four wins in their last five races.

Mika Salo

“Mika and Jamie had an extraordinary year,” said Risi Competizione owner Giuseppe Risi. “They fought back from adversity and delivered a typical Ferrari-like performance the last part of the season. I applaud them and the entire Risi racing team and operation. This is a wonderful honor for an exceptional season.”

Melo and Salo were not the only American Le Mans Series AARWBA winners, however. Earning second team honors were LMP1 champions Allan McNish and Dindo Capello of Audi Sport North America and LMP2 champs Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas of Penske Racing in their RS Porsche Spyder.  Corvette Racing’s Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin also earned second team honors for their dominating GT1 class title.

Risi Ferrari

The AARWBA annual awards dinner will be held Jan. 12 in Indianapolis, IN.

Risi Competizione (www.risicompetizione.com), the 2007 American Le Mans Series GT2 Champion, is a Houston, Texas based racing team sponsored by Boost/Motorola, Michelin, Forza2Motorsport, Putnam Leasing, Tessera, Boardwalk Autogroup, Ferrari of Silicon Valley, and Ferrari of Houston.

Shiplett to serve as Carpentier's crew chief  Mike Shiplett will serve as Patrick Carpentier's team director on the No. 10 Valvoline Evernham Racing Dodge for the 2008 Sprint Cup Series, a Gillett Evernham Motorsports official says.  Keith Barnwell, general manager of Gillett Evernham's Nationwide Series team, confirmed the move for Shiplett from the Nationwide Series (formerly Busch Series) team.
Fisichella hopes he gets nod over Klien  

Giancarlo Fisichella

Even though former Honda tester and Red Bull racer, Christian Klien is hoping he will be the one to secure a the highly sought after opening at the Force India F1 team in 2008, former Renault racer Giancarlo Fisichella is hoping his many years of experience will help seal the deal in his favor instead.

"My objective is to race with Force India," the Italian told Autosprint. "I wouldn't have gone through a shoot-out otherwise, because it's always something very tense. All the drivers at Jerez were there for that, let's not kid ourselves. Even Ralf Schumacher arrived two days earlier, went often around the track to see the trajectories and he was in contact with the pits. He never did that at Toyota. No one came to Jerez to be a tourist of for a stroll in F1."

Ralf Schumacher has already ruled out racing for the Silverstone based squad but, besides Klien and Fisichella, there are several other drivers all in with a chance, including Tonio Liuzzi and Franck Montagny. One thing is certain however, he will know his fate before Christmas….

"I don't think the driver will be chosen based on a possible budget he might bring. They told me they want an experienced driver to team up with Sutil. Well, I'm here for that. Before starting I signed a contract-option as per usual in this occasion. I will have an answer before Christmas."

Chandhok not ready yet: Mallya  

Karun Chandhok

Hoping for an Indian behind the wheels of Force India would be natural but Vijay Mallya, co-owner of the Formula One outfit, believes rookie driver Karun Chandhok is not yet ready for a place in the cockpit.

Mallya said testing with Red Bull must have done wonders to Chandhok’s confidence but the youngster has to do well in the GP2 next year to stake his claim for a seat in the team.

“...he is like a son to me as we have an excellent family relationship. The fact that he tested for Red Bull Racing was fantastic but I think he has a little way to go,” Mallya said.

“...he needs to show me his performance in GP2 next year, and if he is good enough, there can be nothing better than a Force India team, an Indian GP and an Indian driver. That would be absolutely perfect,” Mallya told www.formula1.com in an interview.

Mallya also believes his decision to bid for what was previously known as the Spyker team was as pioneering an effort as Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon.
“I may be copying what Neil Armstrong said when he stepped on the moon but it underlines what a big leap forward this is for India.”

Cabbie keeps silent about Schumi taxi speed  A taxi driver at the centre of a surprisingly international press story has refused to reveal precisely how fast Michael Schumacher drove his cab earlier this week. Tuncer Yilmaz found himself the subject of media headlines after he told the Munich newspaper Abendzeitung that Schumacher, the retired seven time world champion, had given him a 100 euro tip after asking to take over the wheel in order to get his family to the airport on time. The Turkish taxi driver said Schumacher, 38, drove "at full throttle" around corners while overtaking "in some unbelievable places", as his wife Corinna and two children also sat in the Opel mini-van. "It was the coolest ride of my life. And the fastest," Yilmaz, who drives a taxi around Coburg in Bavaria (Germany), said. The story, in which Schumacher had travelled from Switzerland to collect a puppy, was confirmed by his spokeswoman Sabine Kehm and a Ferrari spokesman. But the taxi driver refused to say how fast the German drove his cab. "I don't want him to get into trouble," he insisted to the British newspaper The Sun.
Johnson plans Nationwide Series races  Two-time Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will drive at least three races next season in what will be known as the Nationwide Series, Hendrick Motorsports confirmed on Wednesday.

Johnson will drive the No. 5 Chevrolet in both Nationwide races at Lowe's Motor Speedway and the Aug. 30 race at California Speedway. Johnson has driven three races annually in the series the past two seasons.

"We have races in this season a few times over the last few years and performed pretty well. It's a fun series to driver in," Johnson said. "I want to have fun, but I would like to get a few more victories there."

Carl Haas, Pioneer in Racing award  

Carl Haas in his younger days

Carl A. Haas, one of the most successful team owners and businessmen in motorsports history, has been chosen by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association to receive its Pioneer In Racing Award. Haas will accept at the 38th All-America Team dinner, Saturday, January 12, at the Indianapolis Hyatt.

The Pioneer is one of the most prestigious honors from AARWBA, the country’s oldest and largest organization of motorsports media professionals. The award recognizes long-time dedication and achievement that have made a difference in the sport. Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Andy Granatelli, Kenny Bernstein, the Agajanian family, Les Richter, Hershel McGriff and Robert Falcon are among the previous recipients.

While Haas spent his early years winning races behind the wheel of various sports cars, he attained legendary status as a team owner, with 15 major championships. His All-Star roster of drivers has included Mario, Michael and John Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Jackie Stewart, Paul Tracy, Cristiano da Matta, Alan Jones, Brian Redman, Jackie Ickx, Peter Revson, David Hobbs, Patrick Tambay, Masten Gregory, Chuck Parsons and Skip Scott. This season, Sebastien Bourdais and Graham Rahal drive for him in the Champ Car series. Haas entries, co-owned by Paul Newman, have won seven CART/Champ Car titles, including the last three. Haas teams also won three SCCA Formula 5000 championships, four in Can-Am, and another in Super Vee. He’s also campaigned cars in Formula One and the NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series. Haas, along with Champ Car partners Newman and Michael Lanigan, recently announced a new partnership with Robert Yates Racing for NASCAR competition.

As a racing entrepreneur, Haas also has set a standard. His major sponsors have included blue-chip companies such as McDonald’s, Budweiser, Kmart, Havoline, Beatrice and Citicorp. He’s excelled as a racing car and parts importer and distributor. On an executive level, he’s a former SCCA chairman, CART and Road America director, and promoter at Milwaukee and Houston. Haas has been inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame.

"I'm honored to be recognized by AARWBA as a Pioneer In Racing,” said Haas. “They have had the opportunity to cover the sport and have come to know many people who have made an impact on auto racing both on track and off. I am proud that they feel I have made a contribution. My enthusiasm for racing grew from the first time I was exposed to it as a driver and I have enjoyed being involved as a competitor, team owner, advisor, promoter, and racing car and parts importer and distributor. It was never a job; it has always been a passion."

The All-America Team ceremony will honor 2007’s top drivers from all forms of motorsports. Categories include stock cars, open-wheel, drag racing, road racing, short track, touring series and at-large categories. It is one of the few such dinners open to the public.

Corvette announces 2008 program  The most successful team in the history of the American Le Mans Series will be building on its legacy in 2008. Corvette Racing announced its intentions to compete in all 12 Series rounds with its familiar two-car factory effort in GT1. At stake next season are its eighth consecutive manufacturer and team championships along with another win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“Corvette Racing was. conceived as a long-term program to showcase the performance, technology and value of Chevrolet’s world-class sports car,” said Mark Kent, director of GM Racing. “Since the team's competition debut in 1999, Corvette Racing’s success in top-tier road racing has produced a strong return on our investment, paying dividends in marketing, engineering, technology transfer, personnel development and other areas of our business. Corvette is now a performance icon that's recognized around the world, and Corvette Racing’s continued participation in the American Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be an important element in the global celebration of GM’s 100th anniversary in 2008.”Corvette Racing has won seven consecutive GT1 manufacturers and team championships and six straight drivers championships in American Le Mans Series competition. The team holds the Series records for class victories (57) and 1-2 finishes (40). More ...
2008 IRL TV schedule  ESPN will continue its longstanding relationship with the IndyCar® Series by providing television coverage during the 2008 season.

The entire 16-race IndyCar Series season, including the 92nd Indianapolis 500, will appear on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC. The 2008 schedule, ESPN’s 13th as the IndyCar Series television partner, includes seven events each on ESPN2 and ABC and two on ESPN. The networks also will cover Indianapolis 500 qualifying May 10-11 and 17-18.

“ABC and ESPN have played a significant role in the advancement of the IndyCar Series,” said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division of the Indy Racing League, sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series. “With innovations, such as side-by-side and Sportvision, our broadcasts offer viewers a unique motorsports experience.”  More ...
Rossi has no plans to retire  Seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi says he is planning to stay in MotoGP for at least five more years, killing any rumors that he plans to retire soon.

"It's 100 percent certain I will race in 2009, unless I win every race next year," the Italian told Motosprint magazine.

"I've never considered quitting, otherwise I would have done that in 2006 and maybe I would have gone to Formula One. But I didn't, and it's not just for one or two years.  I'm staying, I hope, for at least five years."

Joel Miller Signs with JDC MotorSports  The ’08 edition of the Star Mazda Championship has added its newest rookie to the competitor line-up as reigning series champion JDC MotorSports is proud to announce that Joel Miller will drive for the team during the upcoming 2008 Star Mazda schedule.

Miller joins the JDC MotorSports squad having recently completed a successful test with the team at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in California. Thanks to funding via Mazda Motorsports’ driver development program, the reward for winning the 2007 Skip Barber National title, the teenager from California will contest the entire 12-race Star Mazda schedule this coming season. Working with newly re-signed race engineer Rick Cameron, Miller will be part of a multi-car team, partnering with yet-to-be-named drivers. Miller, 19, becomes the third consecutive Skip Barber National champion to enter the Star Mazda Championship, following in the footsteps of Gerardo Bonilla and Jonathan Goring. The personable pilot will be seeking to provide JDC with its second consecutive, driver, team and rookie championship titles. More ...

racing news
Mario Andretti Joins SPEED Voting Panel  

Mario Andretti with nephew John Andretti at Indy in May

Racing icon Mario Andretti has agreed to join the nominating/voting panel for the annual SPEED Performer of the Year, an award honoring the top performer in all of motor sports each racing season. The winner earns the Mario Andretti Trophy, created by bronze artist Elie Hazak.

“As long as I can be the walking talking personification of this award, I’ll do it proudly,” Andretti said. “I love watching young stars rise and achieve success.  I am honored SPEED would institutionalize those things that were unique about my contribution to the sport and create a trophy bearing my name.  I am full of pride just looking at that trophy.  It will be an absolute pleasure for me to help them select a winner and I'll do it with sincerity and enthusiasm.”

“The Andretti name is synonymous with racing excellence across multiple disciplines, and we truly appreciate Mario’s desire to share his experience and passion in building this award into one of the premier honors in all of motor sports,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell.”

Andretti joins a panel that includes "Wind Tunnel" host Dave Despain, veteran broadcasters Bob Varsha and Ralph Sheheen, SPEEDtv.com writers Robin Miller and Tom Jensen and versatile racers Tommy Kendall and Dorsey Schroeder.

Two-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was the inaugural winner of the award last year and leads a diverse group of nominees for this year’s trophy, including back-to-back World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz, AMA Supercross champ James Stewart, IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, four-time Champ Car World Series titlist Sebastien Bourdais, MotoGP champ Casey Stoner, Formula One rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, USAC National Midget Series champion Jerry Coons Jr., USAC sprint car driver Jon Stanbrough, F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen and NASCAR Nextel Cup Series runner-up Jeff Gordon. The winner will be announced on the one-hour SPEED Performance Awards special on SPEED in February along with the winners of the fan-voted SPEED Performance Awards.

racing news
Nissan Suspending All North American Racing  Nissan and Nissan Motorsports (NISMO) will not be sponsoring or officially participating in any motorsports activities in North American on the verge of bringing over the GT-R, the most ferocious sports car from Nissan ever for North America. Earlier in the day we reported on a rumor that Nissan was getting out of American motorsports and we now have confirmation from Nissan. According to Scott Vazin, Director of Product Communications for Nissan Motor Company, though they're getting out for [Fiscal Year] 2008, "we'll keep a presence around the world."

Vazin went on to say "It's not all or nothing, we're certainly reviewing it against a larger motorsports strategy, but for 2008 we're taking a pause." He wouldn't give a reason for doing so, other than saying they're working on strategy, but he did deny that it was at all a financial decision. Jalopnik.com

V8 Supercars signs up new sponsorship  Beer brand XXXX GOLD agreed a three-year deal with V8 Supercars Australia to become a Platform sponsor of the V8 Supercar Championship Series.

Under the deal, XXXX GOLD will be the beer on tap at all twelve Australian V8 Supercar events.

Tony Cochrane, Chairman of V8 Supercars Australia, said :“We welcome XXXX Gold with open arms and are enormously excited about the cross-promotional elements the partnership will bring for both sides.”

“Our truly national V8 Supercar Championship Series will provide a tremendous platform for this great brand to extend itself across the nation.

Q and A with Nico Rosberg  

Nico Rosberg

News has been doing the rounds recently that Nico Rosberg, who was already confirmed with the Toyota powered Williams team for the 2008 Formula One season, had actually lengthened his contract even further and as such will be remaining with the Grove based squad through to the end of 2009.

Speaking to the team’s official website, Nico talks about this recent development and his aims for the new season…

Nico, congratulations on your new contract with the team!

Thank you. I am really pleased to be staying with Williams for the next two years. I have taken this step because I believe in the team's capabilities to move forward and I get on well with everyone in the team. Naturally my salary was also adapted and being in such a central role as the lead development driver also motivates me. I first tested for Williams when I was 17, so our relationship is now five years old, and I'm happy to maintain this relationship and have the chance to help push the team further towards the front of the grid.

Why is playing a role to push the team on important to you?

My relationship with Williams started with an extremely difficult year in 2006. 2007 was a big improvement, we have been growing together and improving and it's motivating that I'm playing a central role in this progression. Williams aren't at the front right now, but are steadily getting there. I want to contribute to this process, especially now I have another season's experience to draw on. It is right that as I develop as a driver that step by step I should take more responsibility. More ...

Pemberton to Penske  Crew chief Ryan Pemberton has left Dale Earnhardt Inc., and the team said Doug Richert will replace him beginning Wednesday. Pemberton was scheduled to lead the #8 Chevy that will be co-driven next season by Mark Martin and Aric Almirola. Associated Press/ESPN.com
Report rates value of NASCAR sponsorships  Miller Brewing Co. is getting a high rate of return on its sponsorship of driver #2-Kurt Busch, at least when it comes to broadcasters and Busch himself mentioning one of his sponsors on the air, according to research released by SportsBusiness Journal. Busch ranked second among NASCAR drivers for on-air audio mentions of Busch and a sponsor, reflecting a monetary value for the media exposure of about $3.64 million. That was the conclusion of a recent report that captured and assessed the more than 96,000 sponsor impressions through NASCAR's 37-race Nextel Cup Series schedule, including the Nextel All-Star Challenge. Nearly 400 sponsors were tracked, analyzing primary and secondary car and driver partners, all race venue signage, and the myriad graphics and audio mentions from the races' TV broadcasts. As far as audio mentions, Busch ranked second in NASCAR with 124 "detections" equating to 10 minutes and 20 seconds of air time. Jeff Gordon, driving the #24 Du Pont Chevy, ranked the highest with 178 detections, equaling 14 minutes and 50 seconds of air time valued at $5.07 million. Busch didn't rank among the top five when both audio and video detections were evaluated. Nextel Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, driving the #48 Lowe's Chevy, was the top driver with 7,845 detections valued at $55.98 million. Among the beer brands, Miller Lite lost out to main rival Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.'s Budweiser brand, an official sponsor of NASCAR. Miller Lite had 2,099 detections valued at $18.48 million, compared with Budweiser's 3,024 detections valued at $45.54 million. Milwaukee Business Journal
Industry news
Chrysler to idle 2 plants, cut shift  The lingering slump in Chrysler LLC auto sales will give workers at two factories an unexpected break in January.

The Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit and Windsor Assembly Plant will shut down for part of January as the Auburn Hills automaker appears to be lowering production in response to forecasts of declining 2008 vehicle demand.

Jefferson North, which produces the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Commander, will shut for three weeks beginning Jan. 14; and Windsor Assembly Plant, which produces the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, is scheduled to close for two weeks starting on the same date, union officials at both locations confirmed Tuesday.

In another development, Chrysler will eliminate the second shift at Jefferson North on Feb. 4, according to a memo to workers obtained by The Detroit News. Last month, Chrysler said it would cut shifts at five North American plants, including Jefferson North. More ...

Industry News
Ford freshens up Mustang with wide, tinted glass roof  

Factory-installed glass roof

Hot on the heels of the new Ford Bullitt Mustang and the new Shelby GT500KR, America’s favorite muscle car drives into its 45th anniversary year sporting a new factory-installed glass roof.

The 2009 Ford Glass Roof Mustang provides a third roof option for customers and responds to their growing desire for more natural light. Production of large sunroofs has increased nearly 200 percent in North America since 2003, according to Just-auto. The growth is driven, in part, by consumers’ daily commute time. The number of consumers with commutes lasting more than 60 minutes grew by almost 50 percent between 1990 and 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Factory-installed glass roof

The new glass roof will be available as an option on both the V-6 Mustang and Mustang GT beginning next summer.

At $1,995, the new roof provides customers a less expensive option than a convertible, without compromising the coupe’s versatility, headroom or climate-controlled environment. More ...

Race of Champions announces official partner  Chinese brand making its presence felt in the motorsport world by linking up with end-of-season spectacular.

For the first time in the company's history, McLaren Formula 1 sponsor aigo - the leading brand for MP3/MP4 players and digital cameras in China - has been announced as an official event partner by joining forces with the end-of-season Race of Champions showdown.

One of the most intense head-to-head challenges in the world of motorsport, the RoC will for the first time on 16 December be held on British soil, as 16 of the world's very best drivers from a wide variety of disciplines go up against each other in a series of knockout heats in identical cars. They will do battle around a specially-designed, one-kilometer parallel circuit in the brand new, state-of-the-art Wembley Stadium in London to see who really is the 'Champion of Champions'. More ...

Coulthard criticizes tire blanket ban  

David Coulthard

(GMM)  Formula one veteran David Coulthard has criticized the decision to ban tire-warming blankets from 2009.

The Red Bull racer expressed his concern after the recent Jerez tests, where the blanket ban along with slick tires and reduced downforce - all part of the 2009 regulations package - were tried together for the first time.

Coulthard, 36, thinks ridding the sport of tire blankets is not only unsafe, but will drive up testing costs.

"We would have to do more laps than is currently necessary just to bring the tires up to a representative temperature," the Scot told ITV.

"I think it is a ludicrous idea to ban them," he added.

It is understood that F1's Technical Working Group originally proposed the ban as a way of slowing the cars, because Bridgestone will be forced to produce tires able to operate at lower temperatures.

The blanket-less tires will also be safer because they will be designed to not lose as much pressure during safety car periods, the TWG is understood to have also found.

Coulthard disagrees, recalling that running too-cold tires may have contributed to Ayrton Senna's fatal crash in 1994.

Singapore night race set for 8pm start  (GMM)  The first ever floodlit formula one night race will begin at 8pm local time in Singapore late next September, organizers of the fledgling event have confirmed.

A source who lives on the island nation explained that it is completely dark at 8pm in September.

The unusual start time will ensure not only an unique spectacle, but an ideal daytime live television slot for European viewers.

"It will be great fun for the people of Singapore and formula one, but I hope they have checked all the safety issues," Williams' Nico Rosberg told the local Electric New Paper.

Singapore is one of three street circuits on the 2008 calendar, along with Valencia and the famous Monaco grand prix.

"I always like visiting somewhere new and learning a new track and the fact this will be the first ever night race means it will be particularly special and memorable," said F1 veteran David Coulthard.

Renault has bigger budget for 2008  (GMM)  Renault has upped its budget for 2008 in a bid to return to the winner's rostrum, team boss Flavio Briatore revealed to the Italian press.

"We have strengthened our technical structure, increased our budget by 30 million Euros, and Alonso wants to win races with us again in 2008," he told the sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Briatore has high praise for his former protégé, who after securing his second consecutive title for Renault in 2006 switched to McLaren for what turned out to be one unhappy year.

"Alonso is the best in the world, together with Michael Schumacher," the 57-year-old Italian said.

"Actually he makes even fewer mistakes than Michael.  When we were apart, neither of us won."

Briatore is hopeful that, with Alonso again at the wheel, Renault can shine in 2008.

"I am sure that we will have a fast and competitive car and in 2008 be among the frontrunners," he said.

It's full speed ahead for CART champ Zanardi  

Alex Zanardi

Alex Zanardi returns to Indianapolis this week to celebrate the shining moments of his racing career.

While the two-time CART champion never got to compete in the Indianapolis 500 because of the open-wheel split, he said he harbored no ill will or regrets.
“My attitude is to always enjoy what I have and try to evaluate what I have in my hands rather than what either was slapped away or I never got my grip on,” he said in a phone interview earlier this week. “Of course, it would have been fantastic to race at Indy, but I got my chance to get around (the track).

“I paid my dollar and rode the (tour) bus in 1996.”

Zanardi, CART’s champion in 1997 and ’98, has never been one to dwell on his mirrors, part of the reason he won 15 races in a three-year span that earned him a ride with one of the better Formula One teams of the time (Williams). It’s also the reason he didn’t quit living his life in the aftermath of the 2001 accident that by all accounts should have killed him.

Zanardi lost both legs in the Champ Car accident at EuroSpeedway in Lausitz, Germany. But he still has an outlet for his competitive instincts. He finished fourth in the handcycle class of the Nov. 4 New York City Marathon.

Zanardi has used the three-wheeled bike to raise awareness and financial support for children who need prosthetic limbs, making him a hero in Italy, his native country.

Zanardi’s new charity, Bimbi in Gamba, which in Italian means “Kids on Legs,” has already raised more than $150,000. The program is working so efficiently that it has more resources than requests. More at Indy Star

track news
GP Assoc. of Long Beach Hosts Salvation Army  For the 13th consecutive year, the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach will be "Holiday Joy Headquarters" for many needy families in Long Beach.

The GPALB is again assisting the Salvation Army with its "Operation Christmas Adopt-A-Family" program by providing extensive warehouse space for gift distribution as well as adopting a local family by giving them food for their Christmas dinner and gifts for the family's children.

GPALB's warehouse will be open Tuesday, Dec. 18 for companies and individuals that have adopted a family to drop off their donations. This year, more than 150 families will be "adopted" in Long Beach, and the rear half of the Grand Prix Association's warehouse - normally used to house materials and equipment used to build race grandstands - will be packed with holiday goodies. Among the items: toys, games, sports equipment and, most noticeably, bicycles. Annually, about 300 bicycles for kids are staged for pickup. More ...

O’Connell joins Riley-Matthews Motorsports for Rolex 24  Riley-Matthews Motorsports closed out the 2007 Rolex Sports Car Series season with a convincing win at Miller Motorsports Park, and the team is making strides towards getting 2008 off to a similarly fast start in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona

Johnny O’ Connell

Bill Riley confirmed on Tuesday that GM factory racer Johnny O’ Connell has signed on to complete the Riley-Matthews Motorsports driver line-up as the team prepares for the 46th running of the endurance classic at Daytona International Speedway. O’Connell, who won the 2001 event overall in a Chevrolet Corvette, will look to share a second triumph in 2008 with co-drivers Jim Matthews, Marc Goossens, and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

“We’re really excited about adding Johnny to our line-up for the 24,” said Riley. “He knows what it takes to win this race and even though he had never run in a Daytona Prototype before today, he was quick right out of pit box here in testing. Jim, Marc, and Ryan work really well together and obviously are a fast combination, so Johnny is going to fit right in.” More ...
First day of Goodyear testing at Las Vegas  Several NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams are testing tires today and tomorrow for Goodyear at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, 2003 champion Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, Kasey Kahne and Travis Kvapil are taking part in the two-day test session to help determine which tire will be used in the 2008 UAW-Dodge 400 at LVMS on March 2, 2008.

NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow (COT) will be utilized at all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tracks in 2008.  The tire test is important since the COT - which has never been raced at LVMS - and its numerous design changes present new handling and aerodynamic challenges.

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 9 Dodge for Evernham Motorsports, thought the first day of tire testing with the COT at LVMS went well.

"Actually, it felt pretty good," said Kahne, at the end of the sunny afternoon. "We tried a lot of different Goodyear tires and that's the main goal - to find something that will be really raceable when we come back in March.  I think we made some gains on that.  We're gonna do some more (testing) tomorrow.  We'll see what happens.  The COT seemed like it handled pretty good here.  I think it's gonna be a good race when we come back here.  I'm looking forward to it as long as we get the right tires." More ...

Ford and NHRA Team Up on Safety  Accelerating safety development in the sport of drag racing, the NHRA and Ford Racing jointly announced today that all cars in the Funny Car and Top Fuel classes will be outfitted with the Ford Racing “Blue Box” crash sensors for the 2008 season.

“Ford, like the NHRA, is committed to continuously improving safety.  It’s important to further improving our passenger cars and trucks and also to what we’re doing in racing,” said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology.  “We’re supplying Blue Boxes – at no cost – for all nitro cars for next year.  It’s the right thing to do for the sport and the millions of customers who will benefit from whatever we learn on the track.”

The announcement comes after seven months of initial testing and data analysis of the Blue Boxes on the Mustang Funny Cars of John Force Racing (JFR).

Ford Racing offered the crash sensors and engineering support for their use after the death of JFR driver Eric Medlen in a testing accident in March, which led JFR, in cooperation with Ford Racing, NHRA and the sport’s suppliers, in August to launch “The Eric Medlen Project,” a wide-ranging program designed to further improve safety in the sport. More ...

McRae rally car wins ’Idea of Year’ award  

Barry Reynolds from the McRae Enduro Team, left, and Dave Parker, Dagenham Engine Plant Manager.

The McRae Enduro rally car, powered by a Ford-assembled engine, has won the prestigious ‘Idea of the Year’ at the 2007 Autocar Awards, and been dedicated to the late Colin McRae by the team behind it.

The rally car, which will be competing in races including the 6,000 km cross-Saharan Dakar Rally, is powered by a 2.7–liter V6 turbo, 220 horsepower diesel engine built at the Ford Dagenham Diesel Centre in Essex.

The award was announced by Chas Hallett, Autocar’s editor to an audience of 480 global motor industry leaders and celebrities.

Receiving the award, Christopher Bibb, commercial director for the McRae Enduro operation based at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex, said: "Rally driver Alister McRae, the younger brother of Colin, is our chief test driver."

"As soon as testing started, Colin was keen to drive the Enduro, but for many reasons that never quite happened, and sadly now never will. We therefore dedicate our award to Colin McRae – one of Britain's greatest sportsmen." More ...

A1GP driver changes for Zhuhai  Edoardo Piscopo will enter the two A1GP Races at Zhuhai for Team Italy. The former F.3 Euro Series driver will be in charge for the Chinese round, replacing Enrico Toccacelo, and was back from the USA where he had his first test with a Champ Car Atlantic Car.

Danny Watts will be entered by Great Britain in the Chinese Grand Prix of Nations at Zhuhai. Watts is currently racing in the British Porsche Carrera Cup. Mexico will also switch 19-year-old Champ Car Atlantic driver David Garza on the main seat, replacing Michael Jourdain.

Patrick Long to drive for Penske team  

Patrick Long

Porsche’s lone American factory driver is set to return to the American Le Mans Series in 2008. Patrick Long will be part of the Penske Racing roster for the coming season and will pilot one of the team’s two Porsche RS Spyders in LMP2. Long, 26, teamed with fellow factory mates Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas for a class win and runner-up overall finish at Petit Le Mans in October.

Now living in Tampa, Fla., Long has scored nine Series victories in just 34 starts and has at least one win in each of the last three seasons. He won the 2005 GT2 championship with Jörg Bergmeister at Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, and was instrumental in helping Bergmeister win a second title in 2006 while finishing third in the standings.

Aside from driving for Penske at Road Atlanta, he also drove three times in GT2 in 2007 and finished on the podium each time. He helped Tafel Racing finish third at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and drove to runner-up class finishes with Flying Lizard Motorsports and Darren Law at Long Beach and Detroit. All three came in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. More ...

Forums up  Our discussion forums are now back on line.
Champ Car World Series Building its Hispanic Fan Base  With its 2008 schedule in place and no fewer than five races in heavily Hispanic markets, the Champ Car World Series has tracked an increase of attendance in the percentage of Hispanic fans throughout all of the Series’ events this past season.

In a new study recently conducted by Scarborough Research, a firm that analyzes demographic and audience figures, the percentage of Hispanic attendees at Champ Car events has increased from 17.9 percent in 2006 to 21.3 percent in 2007. The new study also shows that those attending Champ Car races are 47 percent more likely than the national average to be Hispanic.

A breakdown of the study shows that 35.1 percent of Hispanic Champ Car attendees are between the ages of 25 to 34. Where TV is concerned, 30.5 percent of the Hispanic viewers are between the ages of 18 and 24. More ...

Schumacher turns taxi driver  Michael Schumacher can add the unofficial title of Germany's fastest taxi driver to his other achievements after taking over behind the wheel to get his family to the airport on time.

The retired Formula One champion drove the cab back to the airport himself after a trip out to the village of Gehuelz, near Coburg in southern Germany, left the family short of time to make their flight home, the Muenchner Abendzeitung newspaper reported.

"It was crazy having Schumi driving, with me in the passenger seat," the taxi driver was quoted as saying.

The seven-times world champion, who stopped racing last year but is still involved in the sport as an occasional tester for Ferrari, gave the driver a 100 euro ($146.6) tip on top of the 60 euro fare, the newspaper said.  Reuters

Mallya to pick drivers 'before Christmas'  Force India co-owner Vijay Mallya says he will decide on the team’s 2008 driver line-up before Christmas and that the selection will “balance talent with experience”.

The newly renamed team tried out a host of drivers for a seat at the team last week at Jerez, with Giancarlo Fisichella, Ralf Schumacher, Christian Klien and Tonio Liuzzi all auditioning for a drive.

Mallya says he will assess who best to offer the drive to over the next two weeks before making an official announcement at the start of 2008.

“I will decide who we will sign,” he told The Mail on Sunday newspaper.

“I need to balance talent with experience, and I need to find out how the engineers feel on driver feedback.

“I’ll decide before Christmas – but there won’t be an announcement until the new year.”

“The team will have $100m (£50m) a year to work with,” he said.

“[But] The bottom line is that money cannot buy performance.

“Equally, there’s only so much research and development you can do in one year.”

Albers to test DTM with Audi teams this week  

Christijan Albers

(GMM)  Former 2007 Spyker racer Christijan Albers will test a DTM car this week.

Dutch media report that the 28-year-old, who left formula one earlier this year due to a sponsor problem, is to drive a 2006-spec Audi at the Almeira circuit, in Spain.

Albers raced in Germany's premier touring car series with Mercedes-Benz between 2001 and 2004, winning five races and finishing runner-up in 2003.

He debuted in formula one for Minardi in 2005, subsequently switching to the Midland/Spyker outfit.

Albers is believed to be in contention for a non-works Audi race seat in the 2008 DTM series.

The Dutch magazine Formule 1 Race Report says he will test for the Audi-powered teams Futurecom-TME, run by Spyker F1 boss Colin Kolles, as well as Phoenix.

Meanwhile, Renault's new test driver Romain Grosjean, the newly crowned F3 Euro Series champion, will switch to the GP2 category with the ART team in 2008.

industry news
Analysts Cut Estimates for Ford  Two analysts on Monday cut earnings predictions for Ford Motor Co. after completing reviews of the automaker's finances and projected automotive demand heading into 2008.  Deutsche Bank's Rod Lache lowered his 2008, 2009 and 2010 estimates for Ford, citing expectations of higher losses from the automaker's financing arm and a continued decline in market share.

The analyst now expects the following: A loss of 65 cents per share for 2008, down from a projected loss of 48 cents; a profit of 97 cents per share in 2009, down from a projected profit of $1.15; and a profit of $1.13 per share in 2010, down from a projected profit of $1.42. Lache also cut his price target for Ford to $13 from $14.50, but maintained his "Buy" rating.

"The change in our market share assumptions is a result of adjustments to our outlook for U.S. industry mix," Lache wrote in a note to investors. "We continue to recommend Ford shares based on UAW and non-UAW cost reduction plans and additional opportunities." More at Yahoo.com

racing news
Kneifel starts track consulting firm  Former Champ Car Chief Steward and race car driver Chris Kneifel, has started a track consulting business.  His website touts their firm as "builders of superior race tracks" and indeed the Las Vegas Champ Car street circuit was the best street circuit in the world.  Too bad the race was ruined by mismanagement by the race promoter and Champ Car.  They actually thought they could schedule a race on Easter Sunday and many fans would actually show up.  Amazing.
Singapore GP update  

Singapore night skyline

Preparations for the first-ever night race in FORMULA 1 history have been steadily building up with in-principle approval received for the Singapore street circuit, as well as the bespoke state-of-the-art lighting system.  The biggest sports event the Republic has ever hosted to date, the inaugural FORMULA 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix is set to be a truly unique event when the cars line up on the starting grid on 28 September 2008. More... (PDF)
Police officer was driver of flipped Ferrari  A California Highway Patrol officer was the driver and owner of the 1993 Ferrari Testarossa that crashed in Los Angeles yesterday. Derek Midollo, 39, died at the scene, as did his passenger, David Bjorklund, reports the LA Times. The Ferrari went out of control on a residential street, flipped over, and hit a pole, according to witnesses. Midollo was an officer from Woodland Hills and was a member of the special enforcement teams used to enforce speed limits on hillside roads, according to ABC7. "I heard it coming. I heard the engine revving high," one witness told the Associated Press. Police officials told ABC they were trying to determine if speed was a "factor." Our perspective: When a Ferrari ends up on its roof, speed is always a factor.
Richie Gilmore Back at Work  Richie Gilmore has returned to work and to his new job full time. Gilmore, Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s former vice president of competition, had suffered a mild stroke in early October. He is back at work as chief operating officer of Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies. SceneDaily.com
Ammermuller to race in Zhuhai  

Michael Ammermuller

Michael Ammermuller will return for A1 Team Germany at Zhuhai in China.

The 21-year-old proved quick in practice on his debut in Sepang, Malaysia last month, qualifying in the top four. However, his races did not go according to plan, receiving penalties in both for on-track incidents with other cars, and ultimately not scoring any points.

However, the team is convinced of his potential, and has opted to recall him over Christian Vietoris, who raced for Germany in the first two meetings at Zandvoort and in Brno.

A1 Team Germany seat holder Willi Weber said that with the team lying 11th in the championship, it would have to be aggressive in Zhuhai if it wanted to successfully defend its 2006/07 crown.

‘It’s really unfortunate that we lost ground to the leading nations in the standings in this manner,’ said Weber. More ...

January shakedown for new Renault  The Renault F1 Team finished its 2007 test program on the Jerez circuit last week and in accordance with the agreement reached last year between all the teams, a total of 30 000 kilometers private testing is allowed per team per season, so more than ever it is vitally important to optimize every lap.

In January 2008, everybody will start from scratch and all the teams will again have a quota of 30 000 kilometers for the year. Below is the team’s schedule between now and the Australian Grand Prix.

- January 22-24: Valencia (first shakedown of the R28),
- February 1-3: Barcelona,
- February 12-14: Jerez,
- February 25-27: Barcelona

The ING Renault F1 Team has scheduled 8 sessions as follows - bearing in mind the fact that weather or technical priorities may lead to a change of plan. More ...

Hamilton hopes for less politics in 2008  

Hamilton with his McLaren boss Ron Dennis

(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton hopes politics play a much smaller role in the 2008 season.

This year's championship runner-up and rookie admits to becoming "frustrated" as espionage scandals and his rocky relationship with Fernando Alonso took centre stage in 2007.

The British tabloid Daily Express quotes Hamilton, 22, as hoping for "a much smoother" second season on the grid.

"(The 2007 season) has been an amazing rollercoaster and I am very happy and proud to have been part of it.  But in terms of all the politics, it has been frustrating in that sense.

"I am just a racer," said the Briton, who is still waiting to know if his 2008 car will be declared legal by the FIA.

Hamilton said it is impossible to avoid politics in formula one.

"That comes with the whole game and you just have to deal with it in the best way you can.  Hopefully next year we will have a much smoother year and can have fun," he added.

He said he hoped his team, McLaren, is able to focus fully on the challenge of next year, despite the tumultuous 2007 season and the persisting effects of the famous 'Stepneygate' saga.

"My concern is that the concentration and determination of the team is not affected.

"I just hope they keep in mind that we still are the best and can win the championship," Hamilton added.

Fastest State Trooper in the West  In most of the United States there is a policy of checking on any stalled vehicle on the highway when temperatures drop to single digits or below.  About 3 AM one very cold morning, Montana Sate Trooper Allan Nixon #658 responded to a call there was a car off the shoulder of the road outside of Great Falls, Montana.  He located the car, stuck in deep snow and with the engine still running.  Pulling in behind the car with his emergency lights on, the trooper walked to the driver’s door to find an older man with an empty bottle of vodka on the seat beside him .  The driver came awake when the trooper tapped on the window.  See the rotating lights in his rearview mirror, and the state trooper standing next to his car, the man panicked.  He jerked the gear shift into drive and hit the gas.

The car’s speedometer was showing 20-30-40 and then 50 MPH, but it was stuck in the snow, wheels spinning.  Trooper Nixon, having a sense of humor, began running in place next to the speeding (but stationary) car.  The driver was totally freaked, thinking the trooper was actually keeping up with him.  This goes on for about 30 seconds, then the trooper yelled, “PULL OVER!”

The man nodded, turned his wheel and stopped the engine.  Needless to say, the man from North Dakota was arrested and is probably still shaking his head over the trooper in Montana who could run 50 MPH.

Who says troopers don’t have a sense of humor?

September 2008 tickets on sale today  


As the second race in the “Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup,” the Monster Mile has been known to throw a high-banked wrench into the 10-race championship playoffs. The concrete, one-mile oval has become a track most of the “Chasers” worry about surviving, while fans in the stands have come to know Dover's Sept. race as one of the most entertaining and exciting races in the Chase.

Beginning today, fans can secure their seats for the Sept. 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Sept. 20 RoadLoans.com 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race and Sept. 19 Sunoco 150 NASCAR Grand National Division, East Series race by calling 800-441-RACE or by clicking here. More ...

Wallace to drive Germain's No. 7 Nationwide entry  Germain Racing officials announced Monday that Mike Wallace will drive the team's No. 7 Nationwide Series Toyota in 2008, with sponsorship from GEICO.  Wallace and GEICO move from Phoenix Racing, which fielded the No. 7 Chevy for Wallace this season. Wallace finished 11th in the Busch Series points standings in 2007.

Germain Racing General Manager Mike Hillman said Bruce Cook would serve as Wallace's crew chief. Germain also fields Toyota Tundras in the Craftsman Truck Series, winning the series title in 2006 with driver Todd Bodine.

"I've raced with Mike Hillman in the past, and we have a mutual respect for one another," Wallace said. "We are both no nonsense, hard-nosed racers, and we understand and respect one another."

Johnson no longer a Gillette 'Young Gun'  Two-time NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and Gillette have "severed ties on the 'Young Guns' program," and Johnson is looking for "an agency to help him market his on-track success," according to Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal.  The story in this week's issue says the Hendrick Motorsports driver wants to capitalize on winning back-to-back Cup titles "with the type of off-track deals that will broaden his appeal and take his endorsement reach beyond the race track."  According to the story, Wasserman Media Group and CAA have emerged as finalists to represent the driver after Johnson met with up to eight agencies. No deadline has been set on selecting a firm.
Heidfeld favors return to slicks  

Nick Heidfeld

"I never understand why they (slicks) were abolished," Heidfeld said on the BMW team’s official website. "I'm absolutely in favor of the return of slicks. The only area where the cars are slowed down by the grooved tires are the slow corners while this isn't the case in fast sections where it would be vital for safety. Furthermore, I think that overtaking would become somewhat easier again on slicks."
Ganassi team announces 8-driver roster for Rolex 24  Defending Grand-Am Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced today a two-car effort for the Rolex Sports Car Series’ 46th running of the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona, featuring eight drivers representing some of the best talent the motor racing world has to offer. Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas will unite for the twice-round-the-clock classic to form the driver lineup in the No.01 TELMEX/Target Daytona Prototype, while Team Target IndyCar pilots Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon join Salvador Duran and Alex Lloyd in the No.02 Target/TELMEX Daytona Prototype.

After winning the 2006 and 2007 events, CGRFS will look to become the first team in history to win three consecutive overall titles in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

“Everyone knows how special this race is and how much of a team effort it takes to win at Daytona,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. “I’m extremely proud of the effort put forth by our organization the last two years, and we have another great opportunity this year with the addition of Dario and Alex to the lineup.  It is a tremendous feeling to know that we have this many talented drivers on our teams to pick from.” More ...

12 Hours of Sebring gets a new sponsor  Sebring International Raceway announced today "Fresh from Florida" as the presenting sponsor for the 56th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. America's premier sports car endurance race runs Saturday, March 15, 2008 at the famed raceway in central Florida.

The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by "Fresh from Florida" is the opening race of the prestigious American Le Mans Series. For six decades Sebring has played host to the most important endurance race in North America, a key prelude to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France.

"This is the second consecutive year that the 'Fresh from Florida' campaign has sponsored this high-profile event," Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said. "As they did last year, this year's winning team will toast their victory with Fresh from Florida orange juice in the winner's circle while racing fans worldwide look on via television." More ...

Forums Down  For those readers who use our discussions forums, the server has been down for several days.  We are working to rectify the problem.
tv news
ARCA, SPEED extend partnership through 2011  Officials of the ARCA RE/MAX Series and SPEED have announced a four-year agreement under which SPEED will continue to televise ARCA RE/MAX Series events through 2011.

“SPEED and ARCA have a strong relationship dating back to 1997,” said Rick Miner, Senior VP Production & Network Operations. “And in 2008, we look forward to continuing that relationship. The ARCA RE/MAX Series provides great racing with wonderful storylines, already scoring some of the best motorsports ratings on the network. With more live racing in 2008, we believe the fans will support this series like never before. We expect this to be a classic ‘win-win’ for ARCA and SPEED.”

The agreement also calls for a minimum of 10 events to be aired each season with continued efforts to grow the number of televised races. The number of televised events in 2008 has already increased to 11.

Sierra Sierra signs American Jonathan Bomarito  

Jonathan Bomarito

In conjunction with this evening’s Mazda North America Operations holiday party and 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Rotary engine, Sierra Sierra Enterprises announced that it has signed Jonathan Bomarito to contest the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.  Bomarito and team owners Dennis and Diane Kottke were present at the Mazda celebration.

Bomarito brings a strong record of success to Sierra Sierra Enterprises with 31 career Atlantic starts, two victories, one pole position and a total of eight podium finishes.  In 2007, Bomarito finished fifth in the championship with a victory after starting from the pole position in San Jose, and he is looking to be a front runner in the championship sprint for 2008 first place title.

Jonathan Bomarito

“When I received the call from Richard [Raeder, Sierra Sierra Team Manager] I was thrilled,” Bomarito said.  “I’m so excited to start working with the team and to test in the spring.  This was the best news I could have hoped for.” 

Bomarito joins American rookie Dane Cameron, the 2007 Star Mazda Champion, on the two-car Sierra Sierra Enterprises team, which claimed its first Atlantic championship in 2007 with driver Raphael Matos.  Both Bomarito and Cameron hail from California. More ...

track news
Silverstone pit lane wall construction to begin  Construction of a new Pit Wall at Silverstone is set to get underway on Monday 17 December when the existing wall will be replaced. Taking up to six weeks to build, the new Pit Wall will fully comply with the latest FIA regulations and has been designed to withstand considerable impact loadings and speeds of more than 250kph.

The new wall – built with 10km of steel reinforcing bars; 1000 cubic meters of concrete; 330 meters of debris fencing and rear tubular handrail; and movement joints to control thermal expansion and contraction – is being worked on through the Christmas break by the construction team to ensure it is completed by the end of January 2008.

Circuit bosses have also confirmed that construction of the new Pit Wall is a separate project to the Silverstone Master Plan (the British Racing Drivers’ Club’s long term plan to redevelop the circuit), but is evidence of Silverstone’s commitment to continue to invest in the circuit and its facilities to benefit competitors, teams and fans.

ING welcomes Fernando Alonso  

Renault F1

As it prepares for a second season as title sponsor of the ING Renault F1 Team, ING welcomes the confirmation of Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr as race drivers for the team.

Commenting on the news, ING's Head of Group Marketing, Isabelle M. Conner said:

"With a successful first year sponsorship behind us, we're very much looking forward to the new season and welcome Fernando and Nelson as the 2008 drivers.  Their combination of talent and experience will help the resurgent ING Renault F1 Team through 2008, as ING drives its own sponsorship activity, both on and off the track".
"We're especially pleased to see a double world champion, in Fernando Alonso, return to help support ING's successful activation of our three-year sponsorship."

The 2008 season will see ING aim to build business revenues via the F1 sponsorship, by increased promotional and marketing products tied to F1, across the firm's global banking, asset management and insurance product base.

During 2007, independent research amongst 16,000 consumers globally showed considerable increases in ING's global brand awareness and perception through its F1 sponsorship activities. Crucially the research also showed that the consumers were 38% more likely to buy ING's financial products because of the link with Formula 1.
racing news
2007 All-America Auto Racing Team Selected  With voting completed for the 2007 All-America Auto Racing Team, five drivers emerge as contenders for the Jerry Titus Award. Tony Schumacher, the 2006 Titus winner, is bidding to be only the third driver ever to win the award in consecutive years, after Mario Andretti in 1977-78 and John Force in 1999-2000. For the second consecutive year Schumacher won the NHRA Top Fuel championship on the final run of the season, claiming his fifth career championship and his fourth in a row. The Titus, given in remembrance of the late racer/journalist, signifies the top vote-getter on the All-America team regardless of category, and is not announced until the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association's banquet Jan. 12 at the Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis, which is open to the public. Challenging Schumacher, are the champions of both major open-wheel series, four-time Champ Car World Series titlist Sébastien Bourdais and Indianapolis 500 winner/Indy Racing League champion Dario Franchitti. Also in the hunt are Jimmie Johnson, the 2006 and 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup champion, and Ron Hornaday Jr., who won his third NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship. Nextel Cup champion Johnson easily led the Stock Car category, with his teammate and Cup runner-up Jeff Gordon easily taking the other First Team slot. NASCAR Busch Series champion Carl Edwards was joined by Clint Bowyer on the second team. In Touring Series it was Craftsman Truck Series champion Hornaday and nine-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel who dominated the category. Young phenom Joey Logano, who won the NASCAR Busch East title at age 17, was joined on the Second Team by USAR Hooters Pro Cup champion Bobby Gill. AARWBA PR
British F3
Dallara Launch new F308 F3 car  

Dallara F308

For 2008 we present to you a completely new Formula 3 car, the DALLARA F308.  This entirely new car forms the basis for the new generation of our Formula 3 car which will take us from 2008 to 2010.

Interest in the car has been intense with orders expected to reach around 70 cars for the 2008 season. This is a consequence of growing grids in the Euro Series and the British and Japanese Championships plus the fact that the Italian and Spanish Championships will allow new cars in their series next year. In the past week deliveries of cars has already started so as to allow teams to commence off season testing.

Dallara F308

We have strived to build a car that will up hold the values of the Dallara brand, in that it will be highly competitive on track, incorporate the latest safety features and have the highest levels of build quality. The car is the result of significant effort and investment in research and development as we know this is the only way to maintain our position at the forefront of this highly competitive and challenging formula. More ...
Renault confirms Alonso, Piquet for 2008  (GMM)  Renault on Monday confirmed that Fernando Alonso will return to the team in 2008, with Brazilian rookie Nelson Piquet Jr as his teammate.

The French outfit's all-new driver lineup intensifies speculation that Heikki Kovalainen will indeed move to McLaren to fill the seat vacated by Alonso after just one year of his curtailed contract.

Renault also said French-Swiss rookie Romain Grosjean, the reigning 2007 F3 Euroseries champion, will replace Piquet as test driver next year.

The statement did not mention the term of the former double world champion's new deal, but reports indicated either a one or two-year contract.

The Enstone based team's 2008 car will be launched at Renault's corporate communications headquarters in Paris on 31 January, a week after the R28 is tested for the first time in Spain, Renault also revealed.

Alonso, 26, said: "I would like to thank all the other teams for their interest to have me work with them."

A1GP goes where Champ Car fails  A1GP will manage to hold a race at Zhuhai while Champ Car's was cancelled in 2007 (leading to much embarrassment to the organization) and was not included on its 2008 schedule.

Zhuhai, China – After a sensational event at Sepang, which saw Switzerland secure a double victory and steal the championship lead from New Zealand, A1GP World Cup of Motorsport returns to Asia to make the first of two visits to China this season, as 22 nations prepare to take on the Zhuhai International Circuit for the first time this weekend (14-16 December).

The series is set for a thrilling debut at Zhuhai on a level playing field as none of the teams have ever driven the 4.3 km circuit in anger and all 22 A1GP drivers will be taking on the unknown, keen to learn the new track as fast as possible. The teams will have no previous data to rely on when setting up the car, putting a lot more emphasis on the rookie driver and developing nations’ practice session on Friday morning.

Zandvoort Feature race winner Oliver Jarvis is no longer eligible to represent A1 Team Great Britain in the rookie session, as he has competed in more than the limit of six races that participation in the session allows. For Zhuhai, GBR has recruited a new rookie in Danny Watts, 2002 Formula Renault UK champion and a race winner in British Formula Three and the Porsche Carrera Cup. Although this will be his maiden outing for the British squad, Watts has a wealth of racing experience and is not completely new to A1GP, having tested the biofuel-powered development car in the off-season. More ...

Skip Barber
Skip Barber Karting Shootout Scholarship  Skip Barber Racing today announced the names of the 12 karters who, based on their accomplishments, assessed potential and other attributes, have won scholarship invitations to the 11th annual Skip Barber Karting Shoot-out, January 31 – February 1-3, 2008, at Sebring International Raceway. By virtue of being selected, each of the 12 talented drivers has been awarded a scholarship covering the cost of a Skip Barber Three Day Racing School, the completion of which is required in order to enter the Shoot-out.

This elite group of 12 will join 38 other karters in hopes of earning sponsorship dollars to compete in one of the four Skip Barber Regional Race Series and/or the 2008 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda. These Skip Barber championships form the foundation of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder System: Skip Barber, Star Mazda, then Champ Car Atlantic Powered by Mazda.

The largest available award at the Shoot-out – a paid season in the Skip Barber National, valued at approximately $45,000 – is sponsored by Mazda North America’s racing arm, MAZDASPEED Motorsports.  Including the Mazda Scholarship, $130,000 in total will be awarded at the Skip Barber Shoot-out. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Hamilton misses top British gong
  • US GP collects F1 award
  • Ferrari to test at Menorca this week
  • Mallya not disappointed by Ralf's comments
  • No Williams reserve role for Hulkenberg
  • Todt to attend some F1 races in 2008
  • Schu won't lead testing of new Ferrari
  • Sutil's 2008 seat still in doubt
  • Racing driver killed at Interlagos

Hamilton misses top British gong
(GMM)  Hot favorite Lewis Hamilton has been beaten to one of Britain's top annual sporting plaudits.

The McLaren rookie was strongly tipped to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year, but the award instead went to 35-year-old Joe Calzaghe, who is the world super-middleweight champion.

The Welsh boxer attracted more than 28pc of the public vote compared to Hamilton's 19pc.  In his debut season of formula one, the 22-year-old won four races and failed to win the drivers' title by a single point.

"He's a worthy winner.  I just wish he was here so I could meet him," Hamilton said at the awards evening, after Calzaghe was presented with his trophy in Las Vegas.

The British tabloid Daily Star, tongue-in-cheek, observed: "Sports fans proved they love a winner".

US GP collects F1 award
(GMM)  Indianapolis will not host a formula one race in 2008, but June's United States grand prix has been named among the best races of the season.

Promoter Tony George and F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone failed to agree terms for a new contract next year, after the race was staged at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 2000.

The US GP nonetheless accepted the annual Race Promoters' Trophy for 2007, given out by Formula One Management, at the FIA Awards gala in Monte Carlo last Friday.

An FIA statement confirmed that the trophy is awarded "to the promoter who has proved most helpful, in the most difficult conditions". More ...

Racing News
Sperafico killed  UPDATE #2

Emergency personnel tend to Sperafico.  Notice the rather small roll-cage steel tubing.  Sperafico never had a chance in that car.

Dale Coyne had this to say about Sperafico's tragic death:
"All of us that knew Rafael, his brothers and all of the Speraficos know they were a great racing family.  The brothers and even their father Dilso were all race car drivers.  They all were a loving and supportive family of each other.  All of us at Dale Coyne Racing and the entire Champ Car community offer our prayers and thoughts during this the most difficult of times."  Dale Coyne

12/09/07 Brazilian stock car racer Rafael Sperafico was killed in an accident Sunday during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. The 26-year-old lost control of his car on the sixth lap, slamming into the tire wall and bouncing back on to the track. His car was then struck by the car driven by Rentao Russo, who was in serious, but stable condition with head injuries.  Watch Video

Sperafico died from massive head injuries followed by cardiac-respiratory failure, Dr. Dino Altman said in an interview on television.

The accident occurred on the same stretch of the Interlagos track where Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber were involved in an accident during the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix. ESPN/AP

12/09/07 Rafael Sperafico was killed in a stock car race in Brazil. More later....
racing news
Quotes of the week  
ROBIN MILLER, Veteran Open Wheel Racing Journalist
"A source at Forsythe Racing tells me that Paul Tracy received an e-mail a few weeks ago saying, 'If you don't renegotiate your deal with Gerry Forsythe, he's going to cut you loose for 2008 because he needs to save money and we're trying to trim the budget and blah-blah-blah.'  Well Tracy signed a 5 year deal last year, kids, and guess what?  It's an ironclad contract.  He said, 'No more NASCAR.  I'll just concentrate on Champ Car.  I want to finish my career here.'  They had a big press conference.  Gerry Forsythe was only at three races this year.  He never went to a race after April.  Tracy hasn't talked to him since Cleveland.  Paul says, 'All I know is I have an ironclad contract.  I'm committed to Champ Car.  I don't know what's going on.  I just read the internet.  So I'm committed to Champ Car, but I don't know if they're committed to me.' "

"Champ Car barely registers on the national media map now.  You've got Paul Tracy and Graham Rahal.  That's about the only people anybody knows in the local media around cities.  So what happens?  The promoter at Toronto is already a nervous wreck because he said, 'If I don't have Paul Tracy, we won't have a race in Toronto.'  And this would be one of the biggest in a long line of PR disasters for Champ Car.  It's one thing they could not imagine.  This is their most visible, most successful, most popular driver, and they're going to try and jack this guy around and not give him his contract?  I mean Gerry Forsythe, to me, has lost his mind!"  (Commenting on rumors that there is a possibility Paul Tracy's ride at Forsythe Racing is in jeopardy.) 

"I don't think it [Spygate] has done any damage," Mosley said.  "In fact, it has raised the public awareness. That is the paradox. What is important is that people believe the spying has stopped and will continue to be stopped.  If we want a level playing field, we have to be sure as far as we are able that the 2008 McLaren does not incorporate any Ferrari intellectual property that has been illegally acquired. I know that top teams are being super careful, revising their procedures and emphasizing to all their people that this sort of thing must not happen."  (Mosley is reported to have authorized a "forensic examination" of McLaren's computers. Should any Ferrari material be discovered then the FIA could order the team to design a new car from scratch - a time-consuming and debilitating process that in itself would effectively rule them out of the championship. Alternatively, the Woking outfit could be thrown out of the championship.)

"It's not up to me to say," Mosley said when asked whether McLaren team principal Ron Dennis should resign.  "The thing is I really don't have a problem with Ron, contrary to popular belief. I really don't.  All I want, in each team, is somebody who tells us exactly what is going on, is open and truthful.  Life is too short to go through the procedures we have had to go through with this.  I couldn't pretend they told us the truth on the 26th of July (at the first hearing)," remarked Mosley.  "And there is reason to suppose they may not have told us the whole truth on the 13th September either, and that does make it difficult.  In the end, we are trying to run a sport, and we don't have the resources of the police, the Secret Service and these elements.  We have very limited time, and it is extremely annoying to go through hundreds and hundreds of pages produced by lawyers who are being paid by the amount of time they can spend on the case.  It completely detracts from what we are supposed to be doing in the sport, but on the other hand we cannot allow people to - to put it crudely - cheat."  More ...

Industry News
Toyota cuts production of Tundra at US Plants  Toyota has sharply scaled back production of its flagship Tundra pick-up truck in North America, joining the three Detroit-based carmakers in adjusting to softening demand.

Toyota produced close to 18,300 of the big pick-ups at plants in Texas and Indiana last month, a 29 per cent drop from October and almost a quarter below the August-October average.

The Japanese carmaker described the reduction as normal because January and February are normally slow selling months.

However, the cut in Tundra output is significantly bigger than for other Toyota vehicles. Production of the Tacoma light pick-up and the Camry saloon was 12 per cent lower last month than October.

In an effort to boost sales, Toyota is offering low-interest financing or cash rebates of $2,000 on 2008 Tundra models. The rebate on a 2007 model is typically $3,000.

“The Tundra isn’t immune to a softening economy,” said Erich Merkle, analyst at IRN, a Michigan-based consultancy. Mr. Merkle noted that Tundra sales have slid from a peak of 23,150 in July to 15,000 in November.

Champ Car smokes IndyCar  Bridgestone held a one-day tire test at Homestead, Fla.  last Tuesday.  The PKV team from Champ Car shared the track with the Indy Racing League's Andretti-Green stable for a Bridgestone/Firestone test.

Oriol Servia and AGR teammates Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick ran together on the 2.3-mile, 11-turn road course inside Homestead-Miami Speedway.

SPEEDTV.com reports that no official times were released but witnesses said Servia's Panoz/Cosworth was about three seconds a lap quicker than AGR's Dallara/Honda, mainly because of the long straightaway.  SPEEDTV.com

AutoRacing1.com sources say the difference was 3.2 seconds, with the Champ Car smoking the IndyCar.

Three theories we can think of why they shared the same track:
1.  Bridgestone wants to save money by making one tire for both series.
2.  They wanted to compare cars and tires under the same conditions to see if they can possibly run together.
3.  It was just 2 teams sharing the track for testing.  A common occurrence. 

racing news
Mario Andretti awarded Gold Medal  

Max Mosley presents award to Mario Andretti

Mario Andretti was honored with an FIA Gold Medal at the governing body’s end-of-year gala in Monaco on Friday. The medal is awarded to an individual who, either through exceptional success or outstanding effort, has made a substantial contribution to motor racing. Andretti joins an elite group of former winners including Michael Schumacher and Sir Stirling Moss.

The charismatic Italian-American is one of the most accomplished and versatile drivers in the history of the sport, having been successful in all its major disciplines. He is the only driver to have won the Formula 1 world championship, the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s showpiece Daytona 500.

In a career spanning a remarkable five decades, Andretti won races in sports cars, sprint cars and stock cars; on road circuits, ovals and drag strips; and on dirt and asphalt.

“I was full of pride when I learned I would be the recipient of the FIA Academy gold medal,” said Andretti, who was presented his award by Prince Albert of Monaco. “This is a relatively new award but carries an extremely high level of prestige in motor sport and I’d like to thank the FIA Academy for acknowledging my part in racing history.

“To receive this gold medal 13 years after my retirement from the sport offers me a wonderful opportunity for reflection.

“Everyone knows that racing was my work, but also the absolute joy in my life. More ...
John Henry Involved in Development of Racing Simulator  One after another, young drivers from every imaginable racing series punched up their favorite racetracks and turned laps in the heart of the Orange County Convention Center. No helmets or firesuits required for these races at the Performance Racing Industry trade show. The high-speed runs were on two advanced racing simulators set up by iRacing.com. These are not video games but technically sophisticated computer equipment that are powered by state-of-the-art software. Up until now, this kind of high-tech racing simulation has been restricted to big dollar Formula One teams, such as McLaren Racing and Ferrari. While iRacing.com's software is not cheap, it is affordable compared to say hauling a stock car several hundred miles to test a rookie driver for a couple of days. The company was co-founded in 2004 by programmer Dave Kaemmer and John Henry, who owns the Boston Red Sox. Henry bought half of Roush Racing this year. Now that the software has been perfected, iRacing.com is beginning the hard sell in the motorsports community. All levels of racing have been targeted, from Late Model racers all the way up to Sprint Cup. Among those who tried their hand at the PRI simulator Friday was David Gilliland, who drives the # 38 Yates Racing Ford. The company is negotiating with several Cup level teams right now. Once accepted into stock car racing, iRacing.com hopes its software will become standard equipment at all NASCAR race shops. Daytona Beach News-Journal
Dale Jr. Sports Century on DVD  ESPN’s Critically Acclaimed SportsCentury Series Profiles One of NASCAR’s Most Popular Drivers – SportsCentury Greatest Athletes: Dale Earnhardt Jr. on DVD. Two Hours of Candid Bonus Features and Interviews Provide Insight into Dale Jr.’s Relationship With His Legendary Father Dale Earnhardt Sr. and More. ESPN Home Entertainment, in conjunction with Genius Products, LLC, to release the much-anticipated SportsCentury Greatest Athletes: Dale Earnhardt Jr.; on DVD Tuesday, December 11, for $16.95 SRP. SportsCentury Greatest Athletes: Dale Earnhardt Jr. provides fans with a unique and rarely seen look into the life of the man who continues the Earnhardt legacy. The DVD includes in-depth interviews providing insight into his relationship with his father, the legendary Dale Earnhardt Sr.; also featured - the press conference announcing Dale Jr.’s departure from DEI, updates since his departure and its impact on NASCAR. More info at espnshop.com
Perera big hit for Forsythe/Pettit in testing  Forsythe/Pettit Racing literally put Champ Car Atlantic Rookie of the Year Franck Perera to the test and he passed with flying colors.

Perera completed two days of testing with the team at MSR Houston, a 17-turn, 2.38-mile road course located 13 miles south of Houston and site of the Series final test dates in March 2008.

"Over the two days of running, we laid out some very stringent tests and performance requirements for Franck," said Tom Brown, technical Director for Forsythe/Pettit Racing. "Running flawlessly both days, it was extremely encouraging that Franck met and exceeded each requirement set for him. He is a consummate professional with a rare touch and feel for the car."

Perera quickly learned the car and track and was immediately be up to speed, providing valuable feedback to the engineers who gathered suspension, braking and aerodynamic data through a battery of testing procedures.

Perera posted some extremely competitive lap times, giving Forsythe/Pettit Racing something to ponder after observing one of Champ Car's rising young stars for two days.

"I want to thank the entire team for everything, especially Mr. Forsythe and Mr. Pettit for giving me this chance," said Perera. "The Atlantic Cars are great, but being in a Champ Car is why I came from Europe to America to race. It was really fun to be in a fast car again like the F-1 and to help Tom Brown and all the engineers prepare the car for next season. I was also glad to show that I was very competitive compared to the testing here last February and I wanted to go even faster for sure, but in the end the team was here to test the car and I stuck to the plan."  AHN

[Editor's Note: See 2008 Champ Car Silly Season page]

Ralf, Fisi, want race seat says Gascoyne  (GMM)  Mike Gascoyne has rejected Ralf Schumacher's suggestion that he only tested for Force India last week as a "friendly service" to the team.

Before clocking the slowest lap of the day at Jerez on Thursday, Schumacher - the out-of-work former Toyota racer - insisted that he only decided to travel to the Spanish circuit because of an earlier "promise" to his friend and team owner Vijay Mallya.

But referring also to Schumacher's fellow beleaguered F1 veteran Giancarlo Fisichella, Gascoyne said: "I don't think they were here to be benevolent to us.

"They want to be involved in the team.  But pounding around in winter testing isn't glamorous, so we were looking for someone who's got the desire and commitment," the Briton, who is the Silverstone's based team's chief technology officer, is quoted as telling the Daily Mail.

Gascoyne suggested that, among the younger contenders, both drivers are still in the running for the seat.

"The younger guys will get in the car for free and drive to their limit.  But can they compete at the same level?  When you've won races, like Ralf and Fisi have done, you've proved your ability," he added.

"There could be a trade-off between youthful exuberance and experience."

Mallya, the Indian billionaire who recently bought Force India from Spyker, says he will decide the team's 2008 lineup before Christmas.

"But there won't be an announcement until the new year," he explained.

"I need to balance talent with experience, and I need to find out how the engineers feel on driver feedback."

Garza to drive for Team Mexico  While the A1 Team Mexico was taking the decision of who would be the one to drive Mexico’s car in the next race of the A1GP, the driver from Monterrey, Mexico, David Garza Perez traveled to South Africa to take part in a successful race program called Sunshine Testing looking to adapt as soon as possible to a similar car as the one he would drive in case of being selected to represent his country. After two excellent and profitable days of testing, in which the race crew of the “Sunshine Testing” and the Team Manager of A1 Team Mexico, Les Jones supervised the performance of David, the decision was taken for David to be the driver who will represent Mexico on the December 14-16 race in Zhuhai. The young Mexican racing sensation not only met the expectations but also surprised Jones after posting his best time really close the track record under less optimal weather conditions. “King David” posted a time of 1´29.100 only .500 hundredths of a second from the best time for a V6 in the Phakisa track (made in October under cooler weather conditions by a driver who knew the car and the track).

“We’ve taken a very tough decision here today in South Africa”, declared Les Jones. “Michel (Jourdain) have been doing a good job so far and it wasn’t easy to take this decision, but on the other hand, after what David has shown us this last few days here in the Phakisa track, I think he (David) deserves the opportunity to represent his country in the A1GP” explained the Technical Director of Team Craft, (organization that provides technical, logistical and mechanic support to A1 Team Mexico). “David has shown a lot of courage and resources especially in the high speed corners that are extremely important in A1GP”, he added. “He has the speed and the necessary talent to do a good job, but especially he is committed and wants to do it, and that’s very important”, he emphasized. “He is a very professional young man, with a lot of knowledge of the car. He knows how to listen, he learns fast and he is open to any suggestion, so this makes me calm with the decision that we’re taking”, finalized Jones. 

After knowing the decision taken by the Team Manager, Garza Perez said that, “he was delighted and very excited for the opportunity to represent his country in an international category of such level”. “I can no longer wait to get into the car in China”, he declared. “Before I came here I felt certain uncertainty for not knowing the track, nor the car, the people, or what they were expecting from me, but after these few days I can declare myself happy and satisfied with what we’ve achieved”, he assured. “I want to thank Les (Jones), Greg (Canny), Alan (Eve) and the whole crew of the Sunshine Testing because without them this would have never been possible”, he assured. “We came to South Africa and I didn’t know what to expect, but we found an excellent group of people, a great car and a very good track in where we did 127 laps (533 km) without a single problem and in a very professional way”. And he finished saying that “The most difficult part is still to come, but without a doubt my Champ Car Atlantic experience plus the extra mileage gained here will help me to give the best of me and to represent México the way is should be next week in China”.

David Garza will travel tomorrow to Hong Kong to take a ferry to Zhuhai where the Mexican driver will have the privilege to represent Mexico on December 14-16.
Brundle hits back over libel writ  (GMM)  Martin Brundle has hit back at the FIA for legally pursuing a newspaper column he wrote earlier in 2007.

The former grand prix driver turned F1 pundit fears his FIA accreditation credentials may now be under threat, but remains adamant that the FIA is guilty of "blatant double standards" over the McLaren and Renault spy cases.

In Monaco last Friday, the World Motor Sport Council cleared the path for the FIA to pursue the Sunday Times, a British newspaper, for libel.

Brundle had described the Stepneygate espionage scandal as a McLaren "witch hunt" waged by the FIA.

In a new column, he now says the decision to not penalize Renault for a similar or worse case of spying "makes no sense".

Brundle also described the French writ for his earlier article as "a warning sign to other journalists and publications to choose their words carefully" over the Renault verdict.

"The timing of the writ is significant, in my view, given the FIA's decision to find Renault guilty of having significant McLaren designs and information within their systems, but not administering any penalty," Brundle, who raced 158 times in formula one, wrote.

"I expect my accreditation pass for next year will be hindered in some way to make my coverage of F1 more difficult and to punish me.

"Or they will write to ITV again to say that my commentary is not up to standard despite my unprecedented six Royal Television Society Awards for sports broadcasting.  So be it," he added.

Rosberg signs with Williams through 2010  (GMM)  Nico Rosberg has signed a new contract to keep racing for Williams until at least the end of 2010, a German newspaper revealed on Sunday.

"Oh yes, thank you," the 22-year-old responded when congratulated on the new two-year deal by Bild am Sonntag.

"That was supposed to be a secret," he laughed.

"I am looking forward to two more years here with Williams."

Rosberg had been linked with a switch to McLaren, but was always firmly under contract to his Oxfordshire based employer for 2008.

The young German admits that his deal for next season, signed before he made his grand prix debut last year, is not particularly lucrative.

"I wanted to come into formula one at any price," Rosberg said.  "Now Williams has decided to make me a great offer for 2009, and I have accepted it."

He says the financial terms of his new deal have improved "considerably".

Cup qualifying changes announced  NASCAR is changing its qualifying system for next year. Instead of a draw to determine the qualifying order, teams outside the top 35 in the owner points will qualify together at the beginning of the session leaving the top 35 to qualify after. The theory is that track conditions should be the same for teams competing for the eight available starting spots.
USGP wins promoters award  The United States Grand Prix won the annual Race Promoters' Trophy for the best run F1 race, which was given out by Formula One Management at last night's FIA Awards dinner in Monaco.
Raikkonen crowned in Monaco  After a season packed with thrills, controversy and some excellent racing, Kimi Raikkonen was officially crowned Formula 1 World Champion in Monaco on Friday night.

The Finn claimed the title by a single point from Lewis Hamilton, with defending champion Fernando Alonso finishing his year in third position.

“I am very happy to be here to receive this trophy that comes with winning the World Championship," Raikkonen said.

"This has always been my goal and I am particularly pleased to have achieved it in my first year with Ferrari, which is a fantastic team of people who are extraordinary, both professionally and from the human point of view.

“This victory is the result of the efforts of a group that never threw in the towel, even when all seemed lost. I also want to thank my family, my wife Jenni and everyone who has been close to me since the start of my career.” More ...

industry news
Chrysler Recalls 600,000 Vehicles  Chrysler said Friday it is recalling nearly 600,000 Dodge trucks and vans to address concerns that the vehicles could shift out of park without the key in the ignition.  The recall affects 576,417 2001-2002 Dodge Dakota trucks, Dodge Durango sport utility vehicles and Dodge Ram vans and the 2002 Dodge Ram pickup. In some cases, long-term wear on the gearshift assembly could erode the height of the shift blocker, creating the potential for the vehicle to shift out of park.  Chrysler spokesman Max Gates said there have been nine incidents involving injuries connected to the issue. No fatalities have been reported, he said in an e-mail.

Owners will be notified beginning in January 2008 and dealers will replace the gearshift blocker and bracket assembly. In the interim, vehicle owners are advised to use the parking brake at all times when the vehicle is not in use, Gates said.

industry news
Russians select Renault over GM  General Motors Corp. has lost out to French rival Renault SA in the bidding to acquire a major stake in Russia's largest automaker, OAO AvtoVAZ.  The deal gives Renault a boost in the rapidly growing Russian market and leaves GM on its own to increase its manufacturing presence in the region.  A Renault spokeswoman said Friday that a deal had been agreed to with state-controlled AvtoVAZ.  Renault's CEO, Carlos Ghosn, was expected to attend a press conference today at AvtoVAZ headquarters in the Russian city of Togliatti.

"I can confirm that AvtoVAZ has selected Renault," said Claire Martin of Renault in Paris.

Details of the acquisition were not made public, but Russian media reports said that Renault would buy a 25 percent stake in AvtoVAZ, valued at about $1.4 billion.  There was no comment from GM, which had said Tuesday that it was interested in a significant stake in AvtoVAZ. More at Detroit News

industry news
Demand for Challenger could drive price through the roof  

Dodge Challenger SRT8

Sure the sticker price for the new 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is $37,995, but good luck finding that price on a showroom floor.

Several dealers are saying to expect to pay more -- much more -- if you want to be taken seriously to purchase the new muscle car that comes out next spring.

Chrysler has said it will sell fewer than 10,000 of the Challenger SRT8s -- the first model in the return of the classic nameplate.

Some dealers are telling customers that only 4,500 will be made; others tell the Free Press they've been told around 5,500. The company isn't saying.

Chrysler LLC says more than 6,000 people have already pre-ordered the vehicle at dealerships across the country.

One Dodge dealer in New York already has bidding up to $50,000 on the online auction site eBay. Other dealerships are simply asking customers: How much are you willing to pay over sticker price?

"Be the first one in your neighborhood to own the all new redesigned 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8!!" Brian Hopper of Friendly Dodge in Penn Yan, N.Y., wrote in his ad on eBay.

Hopper told the Free Press he was inspired by how prices went sky high when special editions of the Ford Mustang first came out.

"We've had a lot of calls," he said.  Other dealers already have bids or are asking for $15,000 over the MSRP. More at Detroit Free Press

Brother tells Ralf to retire  

Ralf Schumacher

Michael Schumacher

(GMM) Michael Schumacher says he encouraged his younger brother to quit formula one rather than race with Force India in 2008.

Ralf Schumacher, six years younger than his ultra-successful sibling, tested for the newly-acquired team this week at Jerez, and was not only two seconds slower than Michael's Ferrari, but at the very bottom of the time sheets.

The six-time grand prix winner has not been retained by Toyota for 2008 following a disappointing three-year tenure at the team, and eleven years in total on the grid.

"I don't know what his intentions are, but before he came here with this car - I don't know what it is called - I told him that he shouldn't do it," Schumacher, 38, told Auto Motor und Sport following the final day of testing for 2007 on Friday.

After his disappointing test on Thursday, Ralf suggested for the first time that his formula one career may now be over.

His brother, who retired as a seven time world champion last year, continued: "I said to him a long time ago that there are so many other things in life that are fun."

Schumacher insists that his younger brother is still good enough to perform at the sport's highest level.

"Yes, but he doesn't have the right options at the moment," Michael added.

FIA releases '09 and '10 rally schedules  
2009 FIA World Rally Championship:

Ireland 01-Feb
Norway 15-Feb
Cyprus 15-Mar
Portugal 05-Apr
Argentina 26-Apr
Italy 24-May
Greece 14-Jun
Poland 28-Jun
Finland 02-Aug
Australia 06-Sep
Spain 04-Oct
GB 25-Oct

2010 FIA World Rally Championship:

Monte Carlo

Sweden 14-Feb
Mexico 07-Mar
Jordan 11-Apr
Turkey 25-Apr
New Zealand 16-May
Indonesia 20-Jun
Russia 18-Jul
Bulgaria 08-Aug
Germany 22-Aug
Japan 12-Sep
France 10-Oct

Q&A: Bridgestone Boss gearing up for '09 with slicks  Bridgestone Potenza slick racing tires made a return to Formula One cars for the first time in ten years as Bridgestone Motorsport completed its final test of the 2007 season after four days of running at Jerez.

Bridgestone Potenza slick prototype tires were used alongside the 2007 specification medium compound dry grooved tires by all eleven teams at the Spanish circuit. Teams used the 2008 specification ECU which means there was no traction control and a number of teams conducted runs with the slick development tires simulating the 2009 regulations of lower downforce and no tire blankets.

Three sets of slick tires were available to all the teams to use over the course of the four days. Runs undertaken using these tires did not count towards the 2007 testing agreement and valuable data was gained by the teams and Bridgestone.

Bridgestone Potenza Formula One tires are scheduled to next be in use at a group test in 2008, where the medium compound dry grooved tire will be in action at Jerez on January 14-16.  More ...

Mosley doubts McLaren  FIA president Max Mosley has accused McLaren of not telling the whole truth throughout this year's long-running spy saga. It is a damning attack from Mosley, with the McLaren team facing the real threat of expulsion from next year's Formula One world championship.  The World Motor Sport Council met in Monaco on Friday to discuss the FIA Technical Department's report on the validity of McLaren's 2008 car.  The report will be discussed in February amidst serious doubts about McLaren. 

Ron Dennis

When asked whether team principal Ron Dennis should resign, Mosley replied: "It's not up to me to say.

"The thing is I really don't have a problem with Ron, contrary to popular belief. I really don't.  All I want, in each team, is somebody who tells us exactly what is going on, is open and truthful.  Life is too short to go through the procedures we have had to go through with this."


It was then suggested to Mosley the problem this year is that McLaren have not told the truth and he potentially does not trust them.

"I couldn't pretend they told us the truth on the 26th of July (at the first hearing)," remarked Mosley.  "And there is reason to suppose they may not have told us the whole truth on the 13th September either, and that does make it difficult.  In the end, we are trying to run a sport, and we don't have the resources of the police, the Secret Service and these elements.  We have very limited time, and it is extremely annoying to go through hundreds and hundreds of pages produced by lawyers who are being paid by the amount of time they can spend on the case.  It completely detracts from what we are supposed to be doing in the sport, but on the other hand we cannot allow people to - to put it crudely - cheat."  Sky Sports

racing news
New race teams building shops in Indy  With the new David Powers Motorsports headquarters in Brownsburg now open for business, construction is underway nearby on a new facility for Kenny Bernstein Racing.

“Brownsburg and the west side of Indianapolis have become for drag racing what Charlotte is for NASCAR,” said Ted Yerzyk, public relations manager for Powers Motorsports.

Other top drag racing teams moving to Brownsburg in recent years include those of John Force and Don Schumacher. Powers and Bernstein’s firms received 10-year tax abatements from the town, incentives used to attract companies. More ...

Racing News
Short ignites fire at Bruton Smith house  Firefighters put out a small fire about 9 p.m. Friday at the home of the Lowe's Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith.

An electrical short in the wire of outdoor Christmas lights caused a spark that lit the shrubbery in front of Smith's south Charlotte house, fire officials said. A passerby saw the flames and flagged down a police officer, who called firefighters.

Battalion Chief Tom Link said Smith was home at the time of the fire, but "he actually didn't know (about the fire) until we tried to get to the door."

Smith declined comment tonight.

The 11,000-square-foot home on Sharon Lane has an assessed tax value of $2.1 million. Smith's son, Scott Smith, has said his father lives there with his dogs, a big bull mastiff and several German shepherds. Charlotte Observer

Racing News
Penske Names VP of Marketing  Penske Performance has appointed Jonathan Gibson as Vice President of Marketing, a newly created position within its organization. In this role, Gibson will oversee the sponsorship management, media and public relations, licensing as well as other marketing functions for Penske Performance, which includes its teams in NASCAR, the IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans Series. Gibson was most recently Vice President for Pierce, a sports marketing and experiential marketing division of Omnicom's, The Radiate Group. Formerly, he led the Miller Lite brand's sports marketing investments, which included its long and prosperous relationship with Penske Racing. Penske Racing PR
Goodyear Tire Testing at Atlanta  In preparation for the Kobalt Tools 500 weekend on March 7-9 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bobby Labonte and Ron Hornaday, Jr. will be tire testing for Goodyear at the 1.54-mile track on December 11-12 for the Sprint Cup Series and Craftsman Truck Series respectively. The session is closed to the public both days. AMS PR
Champ Car’s Graham Rahal Joins The Stars of Motor Racing  Graham Rahal flew to England this week to attend two of the major motorsport industry awards events. The prestigious Autosport Awards held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, England, was his first stop, swiftly followed by the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) Annual Awards Lunch at the renowned Savoy Hotel, also in London.

The Autosport Awards evening, in its 19th year, celebrates the achievements of drivers, teams and personalities from the world of motor racing, attracting a star-studded who’s who of the industry, from rallying to sportscar racing, Champ Cars to Formula 1. This year Rahal had been nominated for the Rookie of the Year title, an achievement in itself as one of only nine drivers competing for the accolade. The fans voted for F1 rookie, Lewis Hamilton, to take the award home, along with two others, the first time that any driver has won more than one award. More ...

OMP to become Official Safety Equipment of Grand-Am  Roberto Percivale, founder and President of OMP Racing and Grand-Am President Roger Edmondson announced today the leading Italian manufacturer of racing safety equipment and tuning accessories will be the “Official Safety Equipment” of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 and the Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series commencing in 2008.

“A year ago at the PRI Show we announced OMP’s renewed commitment to the US market, and the results obtained since then are very positive and incredibly encouraging,” Percivale said. “Today’s announcement is a further and significant step toward our final objective to have a strong presence in this country with which we share the same passion and determination.”

As part of the partnership, OMP will supply Grand-Am officials with fire suits and other safety equipment for use on pit lane and around the racing facilities that the series visits each season. The announcement comes as the Italian company expands their presence at motorsports events throughout North America. More ...
Nationwide COT to use different suspension package  NASCAR Nationwide Series Director Joe Balash said Thursday that the car scheduled to be used in the series in 2009 will have a different front suspension package than the Sprint Cup version.

The Nationwide car of tomorrow will have a spring package like the one used in current cars, Balash said. Sprint Cup cars, which will all be the model formerly known as the COT beginning in 2008, use "bump-stops" on the front suspension instead of the "coil-binding" setup on current Nationwide cars.

"We want the car to drive different," Balash said at ESPN Club during media day for the final Busch Series awards banquet. The Busch Series becomes the Nationwide Series in 2008.

"We've gone down the path of having two very similar cars and very easily taking the technology that makes the car turn both aerodynamically and with suspension interchange between the garages.

"As we go forward, we want more difference there. We want to have our cars use a more conventional spring setup. We're not going to use the bump-stops on the cars."

Balash also said plans call for the Nationwide COT to be rolled out in all races in 2009. Nextel Cup teams ran the new car in 16 races this year, with the older version used in 20.

The Nationwide cars also will use a different body style, with a higher hood and shorter deck lid. Manufacturers are still deciding what model to use, though it appears likely Ford will run a Mustang, Chevrolet a Camaro and Dodge a Challenger. Toyota likely will stick to the Camry, sources said.

Balash said all four manufacturers have been involved in the design of the new car. The car has one more round of wind tunnel tests before NASCAR can lock down the ¹09 rules, Balash said.

Balash said the new rules package will likely be announced in January.  Scenedaily.com

Busch champ Edwards earns $2.4 million payday  

Carl Edwards

Carl Edwards, the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series driver champion, received a payout of $2,485,582, an amount that ranks fourth all-time among series title winners.

Edwards collected over $1.2 million in both race winnings ($1,241,985) and his share of the series point fund ($1,218,597).

The series’ $8.4 million point fund this season included a record $4.5 million contribution from outgoing sponsor Anheuser-Busch. In its 26 years as series sponsor A-B contributed over $18.4 million to the NASCAR Busch Series point fund, growing from $50,000 in its inaugural season in 1982.

The 2007 season marked the second consecutive year that every race purse exceeded $1 million. Fifteen drivers earned $1 million or more in total winnings including series regulars Jason Leffler, Bobby Hamilton Jr., Stephen Leicht, Marcos Ambrose and Mike Wallace.

In 105 career starts, Edwards – the 19th and final champion under the Busch brand sponsor banner – has totaled $6,139,648. His 2007 total marks the first time he has surpassed $2 million in series earnings. More ...

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