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DATE News (chronologically)
12/17/07
nascar

GoDaddy to sponsor Earnhardt
GoDaddy.com will sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr. in six Nationwide Series races next season in the No. 5 Charlotte that is fielded out of JR Motorsports in conjunction with Hendrick Motorsports, with Mark Martin and Ron Fellows also competing in the car.

Go Daddy's No. 5 Earnhardt Jr. designed Nationwide Series race car is scheduled to be unveiled at noon EST Tuesday at www.godaddy.com.

"I'm very proud of this car, and I'm looking forward to driving it and representing GoDaddy.com in select Nationwide Series races this year," Earnhardt Jr. said in a news release. "It's racy and edgy. It's a sharp-looking car, and we are going to have some fun driving it this year."

Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to debut in the car April 5 at Texas Motor Speedway.

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12/17/07
irl
cc

Zanardi and Vasser crash Ganassi's party


Jimmy Vasser and Alex Zanardi pose with the regular Ganassi drivers

The Target Chip Ganassi Racing holiday celebration in Indianapolis was just a bit more joyous this year with the attendance of some very special guests. Team Owner, Chip Ganassi was joined by the team’s first Championship drivers, Jimmy Vasser (1996) and Alex Zanardi (1997-1998) in celebrating the holidays with current team drivers Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon, Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Chris Festa and Alex Lloyd and the team staff for a party at the Pagoda suites at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Alex Zanardi is reunited with his championship winning Target Champ Car as Chip Ganassi and Jimmy Vasser look on

Earlier in the day at the Target team facility in Indianapolis, Chip Ganassi sat for a few hours with his former champions, Vasser and Zanardi, to reminisce in front of cameras belonging to a video crew filming segments for an upcoming documentary DVD on the life of Alex Zanardi.

The three, who had not been reunited this way for many years, talked at length about their favorite moments and stories for the years that help establish Target Chip Ganassi Racing as championship contenders following four consecutive series titles by Vasser (1996), Zanardi (1997-98) and Montoya (1999).

They also recounted thoughts and the fears of nearly losing their beloved friend Zanardi following a horrific racing accident at Lausitzring, Germany in 2001 that nearly cost him his life and ultimately claimed his legs, but more importantly celebrated the spirit that he has shown and inspiration he instills in others. Zanardi’s many accomplishments since that fateful day include a return to racing, a champion for innovations in prosthetics for amputees, and a fourth place finish in the New York City Marathon last month.

The Target team also brought out the Championship Target car, driven and nicknamed “Old Midnight” by Zanardi in 1998, onto the shop floor for the reunion and the team’s winningest driver lost no time in getting back into it in order to pose with Chip Ganassi and his former teammate and friend Jimmy Vasser. Lots of memories and laughter were shared over the course of the day and into the evening with friends and colleagues.

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12/17/07
irl

Darren Manning Returns to Drive No. 14
Make it official. Darren Manning has signed on for another year to drive the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda for A.J. Foyt’s team in the IndyCar Series.

“Last year we came away most weekends wishing we could start the weekend over because we had learned so much about the car and what I want in a car,” said Manning. “With the compressed schedule, we were doing most of our development work on race weekends.

“We now have a baseline to work from for all of the tracks which will help tremendously. Last year was my first year working with A.J. and driving the Dallara chassis with Honda power. There was a lot that had to be learned: A.J. learning what I want, me learning how the Dallara reacts to changes and then the overall communication within the crew. We did learn but the process affected our consistency. I look for all of that to change for the better in 2008.”

Read more & Comment...
12/17/07
nascar

NASCAR's testing schedule released
NASCAR has announced the 2008 testing schedules for its three national series – the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

The schedules encompass nine different venues that will provide the teams an opportunity to prepare for the various track layouts, surfaces and conditions that they will face over the course of the season. NASCAR determined the test schedules based upon the input and cooperation from each of the teams’ crew chiefs.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing sessions begin at Daytona International Speedway with NASCAR Preseason Thunder, starting Monday, Jan. 7 and running through Wednesday, Jan. 9 for approximately half of the teams. Thursday, Jan. 10 is the rain date, if necessary. The following week, the remaining teams will test Monday, Jan. 14 through Wednesday, Jan. 16, with Thursday, Jan. 17 as the rain date. Test sessions at Daytona are scheduled for 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., weather permitting, with an hour lunch break from noon until 1 p.m.

The remaining five tracks that will host test sessions for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series include:

Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Jan. 28-29
California Speedway – Jan. 31- Feb. 1
Phoenix International Raceway – March 3-4
Pocono Raceway – May 27-28
Lowe’s Motor Speedway – Sept. 23-24

“NASCAR received input and recommendations from each of the crew chiefs that was valuable to our decision making process in determining the testing schedule for 2008,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president for competition. “The teams were interested in testing at some of the venues that the new car will be competing at for the first time. This lineup of tests will provide the teams the opportunity to prepare for a successful 2008 season.”

The NASCAR Nationwide Series likewise kicks off its testing schedule with NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway. Approximately half of the teams are scheduled for Friday, Jan. 18 through Sunday, Jan. 20 and the remaining teams slated for Sunday, Jan. 20 through Tuesday, Jan. 22. The remaining testing schedule for the NASCAR Nationwide Series includes:

Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Jan. 30-31
Richmond International Raceway – March 24-25 (rain date March 26)
Lowe’s Motor Speedway – May 12-13 (rain date May 14)

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will also begin its 2008 testing at Daytona International Speedway with NASCAR Preseason Thunder, Friday, Jan. 11 through Sunday, Jan. 13. The remaining testing schedule for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is as follows:

Atlanta Motor Speedway – Jan. 22-23 (rain date Jan. 24)
Martinsville Speedway – March 12-13 (rain date March 14)

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12/17/07
f1

Full FIA transcript on Renault hearing
Today the FIA published this full version of the Renault Spygate hearing transcript (PDF).  FIA president Max Mosley tries to explain why the Renault and McLaren cases are different and why they are being treated differently, but many disagree with him.  To punish McLaren so severely, yet treat Renault with 'kid gloves' is simply preposterous.

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12/17/07
starmazda

Star Mazda Announces Standing Starts for 2008
The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, one of the top open-wheel racing and driver development series in North America, announced today that it will implement standing starts for all 12 races in the 2008 season. 

“We are making this change to keep our series in line with other top open-wheel racing series, including Formula One, Champ Car and Champ Car Atlantic and, all of whom utilize standing starts,” says Star Mazda Championship President Gary Rodrigues.  “In keeping with our mission to provide the best possible training for young drivers on their way up the open-wheel racing ladder, we have made the decision that a well-rounded education must include experience with the same starting format used by the series into which our drivers will graduate.  This new phase in the evolution of the Star Mazda Championship will begin at our season-opener in Sebring on March 14, 2008.” 

The technology to be used in the new standing start format is unique and currently undergoing final testing and development at the Star Mazda Championship headquarters complex in Pacoima, California.  A series of 18 x 18-inch mobile LED panels, all wirelessly connected to the starting computer, will be placed at intervals alongside the starting grid, so that all drivers in the typically large Star Mazda Championship starting field of 30× cars have a clear view.

Read more & Comment...
12/17/07
track news

MIS gets Truck race sponsor
Michigan International Speedway's June 14, 2008, Craftsman Truck Series race will be called the Cool City Customs 200 under terms of a sponsorship agreement with the Lyons, Mich., company that specializes in customizing motorcycles.  The three-year sponsorship deal will extend through 2010, and the sponsorship also makes Cool City Customs the "Official Custom Bike Builder" of the track.

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12/17/07
nascar

More signs NASCAR has worn out welcome - ISC writes Off $50 Million loss
The Motorsports Authentics licensed-products business will lose between $45 million and $50 million in 2007, International Speedway Corp. reported during a conference call Wednesday with financial analysts to discuss 2008 projections.

ISC, which will record a write-off of $25 million to $50 million in 2007 from Motorsports Authentics, projects that the business will break even in 2008.

“While we are clearly disappointed in the magnitude of the [write-off], we continue to believe the sale of licensed merchandise represents a significant opportunity in the sport,” ISC Chief Financial Officer Susan Schandel said.

Motorsports Authentics, a 50-50 partnership between ISC and Speedway Motorsports, has laid off more than 20 percent of its staff and has changed certain operational procedures.

Motorsports Authentics will decrease the number of merchandise trailers at the track in the future and will use a more targeted apparel strategy, Schandel said. MotorsportsNews.net

[Editor's Note:  The more NASCAR tries to monopolize the motorsports market and saturate the airwaves with everything NASCAR, the more race fans will push back with disgust and continue to reject NASCAR in increasingly record numbers.]

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12/17/07
f1

Etihad Airways signs Abu Dhabi GP naming deal
(GMM)  Arab airline Etihad Airways has signed a three year deal to become the naming sponsor of the new Abu Dhabi grand prix, beginning with the inaugural race in the emirate capital in 2009.

The Abu Dhabi-based airline was in 2007 already involved in formula one as the Dutch team Spyker's joint title sponsor.

A press release said the "seven-figure deal" will see the race officially called the 'Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix' until 2011, including trackside advertising and podium branding.

"Securing a title sponsor of this caliber two years out from the first event is further reinforcement that the region is full of excitement and anticipation for the Abu Dhabi grand prix," said F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

Construction of the 5.6 kilometer Abu Dhabi circuit on Yas Island is currently underway.

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12/17/07
nascar

McGill Motorsports looking for ride-buyer
McGill Motorsports is one of the only remaining stand alone NASCAR Nationwide Series (formerly Busch Series) teams, and they now sit one month removed from the Daytona test with no driver and no sponsor.  And, by the way, they are guaranteed a starting spot for the first five races of the 2008 season.     

After entering their first race on July 4, 2003, in Daytona, McGill Motorsports has made steady progress and is looking to continue building the team in a consistent manner that will ensure success.  Proving they are a competitive organization, 2004 Grand Am Champion, 'Mad' Max Papis agreed to drive the #36 Chevrolet in Watkins Glen during the 2006 season. Luring recognized talent such as Papis is not easy, however they proved themselves worthy, as Papis took the green flag in the 43rd position, and when the checkered flag waved he found himself recording a remarkable 14th place finish.  Papis would pick up 29 positions on a road course that afternoon in upstate New York, further proving the ability and potential of the McGill Motorsports team. 

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12/17/07
nascar

Hornish testing at Memphis
Three-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. is scheduled to test the #77 Sprint Cup Series car for Penske Racing on Monday, Dec. 17 and Tuesday, Dec 18, at Memphis Motorsports Park. NASCAR returns to Memphis Motorsports Park in June 2008 with the Craftsman Truck Series, and October 2008 with the Nationwide Series. Season tickets are on sale now at MemphisMotorsportsPark.com and by phone toll-free at 1-866-40-SPEED. Fans can watch testing sessions at the NASCAR oval from Grandstand G at no charge. The garage and infield are not open to the public. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary. MMP PR

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12/17/07
roc

Jimmie Johnson vs. Michael Schumacher UPDATE As expected, Schumacher dusted Johnson.  Seriously, did a NASCAR driver actually think he could beat Schumacher in a car that was not a NASCAR car?

12/14/07 Double NASCAR champion, Jimmie Johnson, has said he cannot wait to pit his skills against the man widely billed as the world’s greatest driver, Michael Schumacher, in The Race of Champions this weekend.
 
The Team USA hero, who has been drawn against the seven-time Formula 1 World Champion for the first round of The ROC Nations Cup, says he has the greatest respect for the European superstar, which motivates him all the more to snatch victory for The United States.
 
"Everyone recognizes Schumacher as a champion, and after winning my
second straight championship in NASCAR I hope I'm perceived in that way,” said Johnson, who took the NASCAR title this season with 10 wins in the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. “Beating him and helping Team USA win The ROC Nations Cup would be a perfect ending to the best year of my career."

Read more & Comment...
12/17/07
f1

Latest F1 news in brief
  • Karthikeyan still eyeing F1 future
  • Cabbie to sell famous 'Schumi taxi'
  • Schu to stay as Ferrari advisor
  • Spy effects could taint McLaren's '08 - Montoya
  • Bernie finds humor in McLaren spy saga
  • Chandhok wants F1 debut in 2009
  • Piquet looks to secure future on F1 grid
  • Kovalainen expects equal treatment in 2008

Karthikeyan still eyeing F1 future
(GMM)  Narain Karthikeyan has refused to rule out the possibility of one day returning to formula one, describing the highest category of open wheel racing as "unfinished business" for him.

The Indian, who raced for Jordan in 2005 before spending two seasons as Williams' secondary test driver, on Sunday won for the first time in the 'A1GP' category in China.

It was his first trip to the top step of the podium since before he entered formula one; a statistic that until now has given fuel to his detractors' claims that he does not belong in the elite categories of international motor sport.

Ahead of 2008, Williams has replaced him as a test driver by Nico Hulkenberg, an up and coming German youngster.

"It's good to win and it sends out the signal that I am far from finished," he said.

"Whether anyone likes it or not, I have won at every level I have competed except F1.  I never bothered about what some people were saying, I knew what I was up to," Karthikeyan, who is 30, told DNA India.

"But formula one is still unfinished business for me and while Williams is not happening, there is something for me there."

Karthikeyan has not featured strongly in F1's 'silly season' ahead of 2008, but the Indian insists that he is up to the task of performing in the sport's new traction control-free era.

"I deserve another shot at F1," he said.  "I am fast and I have always driven well without driver aids."

Cabbie to sell famous 'Schumi taxi'
(GMM)  The cabbie made famous for relinquishing the drivers' seat of his taxi to Michael Schumacher is now considering offers to sell the Opel mini-van.

Since the nine-seater made international headlines for getting a seven time world champion and his family to a German airport on time, it has doubled in value, the newspaper Bild am Sonntag claims.

"More than ten people are interested in buying it," the taxi driver, Tuncer Yilmaz, confirmed.

"One has offered 63,000 euros, and I need the money -- because of the Schumi-Ride I could be in big trouble with the police," he confirmed.

Coburg traffic authority chief Kai Holland confirmed to Bild newspaper that he will meet with Yilmaz, because the story appears to be "an offence against the Personnel Transport Act".

Schumacher, meanwhile, faces the prospect of a small fine.

"It would be ridiculous to heavily punish the taxi driver after he kindly helped Michael.  Wouldn't we all prefer to have helpful taxi drivers?" Schumacher's long time manager Willi Weber marveled.

At the Race of Champions event in London at the weekend, Schumacher himself suggested that the tale had been blown out of proportion.

"You just have to laugh about it," he smiled.

Read more & Comment...
12/16/07
f1

Kovalainen refuses to play second fiddle to Hamilton


Kovalainen is delusional if he thinks he will get equal treatment to Lewis Hamilton at McLaren

Heikki Kovalainen, the new McLaren Mercedes teammate of Lewis Hamilton, said this weekend that he is convinced the troubled Woking-based team can now move on after one of the worst years in their history, dominated by feuding drivers and allegations of cheating.

Heikki Kovalainen, the new McLaren Mercedes teammate of Lewis Hamilton, speaking on the eve of the Race of Champions at Wembley Stadium yesterday, the Finn said that McLaren are ready to turn over a new leaf. “Before I signed the contract, I asked about the issue [the McLaren/ Ferrari “Spygate” scandal] and all I know is that it is not going to affect our performance next year,” Kovalainen said.

“I haven’t been involved in that case . . . but for me, and for McLaren as well, the intention is to make everything clear as soon as possible. We want to leave everything behind, make sure everyone is happy about the situation and move on.”

Kovalainen, who made his debut at Renault this year, starting poorly but improving as the season progressed, faces an unenviable task as Hamilton’s teammate. Ringing in his ears will be recent comments by Martin Whitmarsh, the embattled chief operating officer at McLaren, who made it clear that the team’s principal target next year will be to make Hamilton world champion. “Lewis is already McLaren’s main focus,” Whitmarsh said.

Read more & Comment...

12/16/07
racing news

Quotes of the week
ROBIN MILLER, Veteran Open Wheel Racing Journalist
"Mr. Forsythe has evidently changed his mind about the price or maybe the length of Paul Tracy's contract [four years remaining at an estimated $2.5 million a year], which is certainly within his rights. But it's the wrong time, the wrong guy and the wrong message. Because, to be completely honest, Tracy is all that Champ Car has left with the fans, general public and what little of the mainstream media that still pays attention to this series. If it somehow survives the next couple years, Graham Rahal will emerge as the poster boy but, right now, it's just the crazy Canadian. Tracy still packs star power and still sells tickets because he still hangs his ass out at speed, still takes chances and, bless his heart, still says whatever comes to mind. In the worst case scenario, PT refuses to renegotiate, gets cut loose by Forsythe and is out of Champ Car. Can you imagine having three races in Canada without Paul Tracy? The Toronto promoter can't. The best case scenario for Champ Car is that Paul Newman, Carl Haas and Mike Lanigan sign him to replace Sebastien Bourdais and team with young Rahal. But, if I was Tony George, I'd do whatever it took to get Tracy into an Indy Racing League ride. Honda always had a good relationship with him and maybe they'd help with his salary like they have other drivers. Because, if the heart of Champ Car ends up in the IRL, this insane, costly, brutal open wheel war would be over. Game, set and match."

RON DENNIS, Team Principal, McLaren F1 team
"I will not be forced out of Formula One.  I'm not going to quit.  That is 100 per cent," Dennis said.  "I know there are people out there who want me to retire, but I'm not.  I do not think it would be in the best interests of the team," he said.  (Ron Dennis has defiantly rejected claims that the conclusion to the Stepneygate scandal could cost him his job.  After his team last week issued a groveling apology for not knowing how far Ferrari secrets had penetrated its Woking headquarters, and voluntarily freezing aspects of its 2008 car, some sections of the press surmised that the logical next step would be for Dennis to retire.)

Read more & Comment...
12/16/07
cc

Former Miss Indy moves to Miami with Philippe


Former Miss Indy Sarah Buller (she was blond before) and her motor-racing beau Nelson Philippe now live in Miami, Florida

One week after handing over her title of Bartercard Miss Indy, Sarah Buller packed her bags and moved to Miami, Florida, to live with her beau, motor-racing ace Nelson Philippe, winner of 2006 Lexmark Indy 300.

So far life in the US has been incredible for Sarah who likens her new home-town to the Gold Coast. Sporting a new hairstyle, Sarah was excited by her life ahead.

Early last month, Sarah travelled to Mexico City with Nelson where he competed in the final round of the Champ Car Series.

Sarah also managed to spend time with the Face of Champ Car finalists, including Australia's newly crowned Bartercard Miss Indy, Kate Hockly.

Following Mexico, Sarah flew to Houston, Texas, where Nelson drove a double-seater Formula One car for Minardi.

A self-confessed adrenalin junkie, Sarah could not resist the offer to be a passenger with Nelson in practice.

Back in Miami, Sarah has been busy teaching at a local primary school in Key Biscayne and in her spare time has even managed to squeeze in a photo shoot on Miami Beach with a local photographer for a fashion/lifestyle magazine.

She is now preparing to spend Christmas with Nelson and his family before returning to Australia where she will catch up with her family in Bunbury, WA, to see in the New Year. Goldcoast.com

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12/16/07
roc

Ekström beats Schumacher to The Race of Champions title

Michael Schumacher and Mattias Ekstrom celebrate

Reigning Champion of Champions Mattias Ekström pulled off the seemingly impossible at Wembley Stadium today, beating the ever-dominant Michael Schumacher in The Race of Champions final.

Taking the battle down to the wire, both motorsport heavy-weights claimed one win each in the best-of-three final. As thousands of fans held their breath, the last heat saw Ekström build up a small lead over Schumacher who pulled out all the stops to respond. It was not to be however, as the German spun his car in a dash for the checkered flag.

England fans cheered on local hero Andy Priaulx all the way to the semi-finals whilst Jenson Button lost out to an unwavering Schumacher in their second England versus Germany come-together of the day, after the earlier ROC Nations Cup.

Read more & Comment...

12/16/07
f1

Ferrari will be all-new for 2008
Ferrari's 2008 car will be 'completely new' technical director Aldo Costa has revealed.  Costa told Gazzetta dello Sport: "It will be completely new, even though you can't make radical changes because of the regulations.

"The front of the car will be different, as far as the monocoque is concerned, with differently shaped sidepods, and the wing will be new too.

"Electronics change completely, with the single ECU that forced us to work on engine and gearbox. This will have to be used for four races in 2008.

"The first tests at Barcelona and Jerez were positive, we simulated four races with no problems. There will be new components in the suspensions and the gearbox, with even quicker shifts."

"Our intention is to start 2008 strongly," he said. "We will push to the maximum during the winter break in order to show up at the start of the season in good conditions.

"What happened in 2007 has to be judged based on what our rivals were doing: if they improved mid season it means they worked better. But we carried on with development by making a lot less errors.

"However, besides being more consistent, we will need a more reliable car."

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12/16/07
cca

Muniz lists a Sunset Strip-area home for sale


This 3-bedroom Muniz home once owned by Paul Lynde, located in the Hollywood Hills, was designed by John Woolf, and was built in 1926.

If there is one thing actor and Champ Car Atlantic driver Frankie Muniz likes as much as driving a professional race car, it's dealing in real estate.  At 22, he already has bought and sold several houses.

When he was 19, he wound up with two houses in the same Westside neighborhood because he couldn't wait to sell one home before buying another with a fingerprint-recognition front door -- a feature that sounds like something straight out of his "Agent Cody Banks" spy films.

Now the former star of the sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle" is dabbling in the market again. He has listed his home in the Sunset Strip area at close to $3.9 million. Muniz has owned it since January 2006.

The traditional-style 1941 home was "completely upgraded," according to the Multiple Listing Service. The one-story house has five bedrooms and four bathrooms in just under 2,000 square feet. The master-bedroom suite has a pitched ceiling with skylights, two walk-in closets and an infinity tub. There's also a deck with city views. Other features are a basement, a breakfast nook, a pool and a spa.

Muniz took a break from acting in 2006 to become a race-car driver but recently appeared in an episode of the CBS drama "Criminal Minds" and is in the film "My Sexiest Year," which had its world premiere in October at New York's Hamptons International Film Festival. Muniz began collecting race cars before he could drive. LA Times

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12/16/07
roc

Germany wins the ROC Nations Cup


Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher celebrate their win

Fans at Wembley Stadium witnessed history in the making today as Team Germany, with Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, claimed The ROC Nations Cup for the first time in the history of The Race of Champions.

Motorsport’s best drivers gave the crowd plenty to cheer for as they fought relentlessly over two hours, some pushing the limits to the very extreme like Mattias Ekström and Travis Pastrana who both had close shaves with the concrete barriers.

England versus Germany at Wembley brought the crowd to fever pitch, re-enacting every football fans’ nightmare with the German pair knocking out local heroes Jenson Button and Andy Priaulx.

Every heat was breath-takingly close but none more so than in the Team Germany versus Team Finland final when Schumacher, having stalled on the start line, found himself having to drive defensively with last year’s winner Heikki Kovalainen only centimeters behind.

Read more & Comment...

12/16/07
industry news

Toyota to raise 2008 global output
Japan's top carmaker Toyota Motor will raise its projected global production to almost 10 million vehicles next year, and could soon outpace US rival General Motors to become the world's biggest automaker.  Toyota plans to raise its output projection for 2008 to 9.95 million vehicles worldwide from 9.90 million projected for the current year, the Nikkei business newspaper said. It did not say where it got the information.

The production increase reflects booming sales in China, the Middle East and other emerging economies, the Nikkei said.

Toyota officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the report.

Toyota reported in November its worldwide production totaled 7.05 million vehicles in the first nine months of this year, just short of 7.06 million vehicles sold by GM for the same period.

Read more & Comment...
12/16/07
nascar

'08 NASCAR Camping World Series Schedule
Several new tracks join a list of historic venues that will make up the 2008 NASCAR Camping World Series schedule, as the top developmental series in NASCAR presents a stronger, more geographically diverse mixture of short tracks, speedways and road courses across the United States. Also today, NASCAR announced that beginning in 2008, Camping World would be the new title sponsor for the sport’s long-standing Grand National Division, East and West Series.

The NASCAR Camping World Series calendar will run on 23 tracks in 16 states, including a return trip to Iowa Speedway for a combination race between the East and West on the 7/8-mile tri-oval in Newton, Iowa. Last year’s event drew almost 25,000 fans that witnessed an epic battle in which 17-year-old Joey Logano, the eventual 2007 East champion, outdueled 2007 Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick to claim the victory.

Five NASCAR Camping World Series events will run in conjunction with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekends in 2008. Additional companion events are scheduled with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the Grand-Am Rolex Series.

Read more & Comment...
12/16/07
nascar

Franchitti Racking Up Awards as Daytona 500 Nears


Dario Franchitti

After a combined six starts in ARCA, NASCAR's Craftsman Truck and Busch Series, and his debut in the 2008 Sprint Cup Series' Daytona 500 looming in the distance, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates' (CGRFS) Dario Franchitti has been racking up the accolades over the holiday season both in the United States and abroad.

Franchitti's feats in winning the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar title won him the Sports Personality of the Year at the Scottish Sports Awards in early December. The announcement was made at a ceremony held at the Glasgow Hilton Hotel for Franchitti, who became the first Scot to win since Jim Clark in 1965.

While overseas, Franchitti was presented a Gregor Grant Award during the annual Autosport Awards in London. The award, named after Autosport's founding editor, was presented in recognition of outstanding achievement in motorsport. Previous recipients include world rally champion Carlos Sainz, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and Formula One World Champion Jack Brabham. The 1966 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year and fellow Scot Jackie Stewart presented the award to Franchitti.

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12/16/07
nascar

Construction begins on NASCAR office tower UPDATE Lauth Property Group has begun erecting the steel for the 20-story NASCAR Plaza office tower next to the planned NASCAR Hall of Fame uptown on Caldwell Street.  Company officials said construction of the first floor will take about five weeks, but after that the building will rise at the rate of a floor a week. The 390,000-square-foot "green" building is to open in March 2009, about a year ahead of the NASCAR museum.  The office building is poised to be the first one occupied among more than a half dozen new office projects under way in the center city.  NASCAR Images and NASCAR Licenses will occupy about a third of the space. The rest is available for lease. ThatsRacin.com

01/11/07 Plans are finalized for an exciting first event for the one and only NASCAR Hall of Fame and NASCAR Plaza Office Tower. The groundbreaking will be the 'grand finale' of the annual NASCAR Nextel Cup Media Tour hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedway on Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 3:00pm/et at the site of the new NASCAR Hall of Fame and NASCAR Plaza bordered by Brevard, Caldwell, Stonewall and Second streets in Charlotte, NC. NASCAR PR

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12/16/07
nascar

Hylton to give Daytona 500 another shot


James Hylton

Nostalgic race fans had best take advantage of their opportunity to see James Hylton in action during Speed Weeks 2008. The 73-year-old says this season will be his last.

"I know I've said that in the past," Hylton conceded Saturday between ARCA Series test runs at Daytona International Speedway. "But I'll be 74 in August, and I don't see any reason to push 75.

"I'm just gonna enjoy the rest of the year, however it turns out, and look back over my (career) and be happy."

One of the bittersweet junctures of Hylton's career came in February, when he narrowly missed becoming the oldest driver to make the Daytona 500.

Using a Chevy acquired from longtime friend Richard Childress, Hylton appeared poised to earn a Daytona 500 starting spot with eight laps to go in the first Duel 150 qualifier.

But a faulty clutch following a late-race caution ended his bid -- much to the disappointment of the over-60 set so inspired by Hylton's efforts.

"I knew we'd draw some attention," said Hylton, who made his Daytona 500 debut in 1966. "But I did not have any earthly idea it was gonna escalate to what it did. It brought my generation of people back into the sport that were kind of fading away.

"When the (qualifier) was over, ESPN interviewed me and I made a promise to all these race fans I was gonna come back and do it again and that's what I'm gonna try to live up to -- to give it another shot for my race fans." More at News-JournalOnline.com

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12/16/07
a1gp

Reid: ’It was a racing incident’

Jonny Reid

A1 Team New Zealand's Jonny Reid believes the incident he had with Malaysia's Alex Yoong was a racing incident.

It was the second contact between the teams in as many meetings, after the pair collided in the Feature race in Sepang, Malaysia last month.

Yoong spun into the barriers and retired as a result of the first-lap contact, but Reid kept going and eventually climbed up the order to finish second.

Yoong was critical after the incident and planned to speak to Reid to get his version of events. However, the New Zealander said he has nothing to say on the matter.

'That's racing, I'm afraid,' Reid said. 'If you are going to hang around the outside and squeeze me, then my rear tire touches the curb, then he is going to get touched. If it gets that tight then things are going to happen like that.

Read more & Comment...

12/16/07
a1gp

Yoong slams Reid after clash

Alex Yoong

Alex Yoong was fiercely critical of A1 Team New Zealand's Jonny Reid following the pair's second controversial collision in as many meetings in Zhuhai.

Yoong and Reid collided in the opening laps of the Feature race in Sepang, and they touched again in the first few corners of today's Feature race in China.

Yoong spun into the barriers and retired as a result of the contact, but Reid kept going, and eventually finished second.

'I haven't seen the replay or spoken to him yet, but from my point of view he just took me out,' Yoong said.

'We were going side-by-side through a corner that was very wide and had plenty of room. We had contact, I'm off into the dirt and into the barrier.

Read more & Comment...

12/16/07
a1gp

USA mechanic uninjured
The A1 Team USA mechanic who was knocked over in the pit lane in today's Feature race suffered no major injuries.

Orlando Ledesma, a mechanic on the 'We the People' car fell down in rather dramatic style when he was caught by the air gun which had attached itself to A1 Team France's car when Duval left the pits.

However, Ledesma suffered only minor bruising, and was fit enough to work on the second pit stop as part of the USA squad.

'I saw him coming so I tried to get out of the way,' Ledesma said. 'I tried to pull the hose out but, he just caught it and pulled the whole thing from under me.

'I did the next pit stop and I wasn't worried. It is just part of motor racing. It's the same for the drivers who do not worry about crashing. And if it does he just puts it behind him. It's the same for mechanics.'

Read more & Comment...
12/16/07
a1gp
cc

A1GP succeeds where Champ Car fails UPDATE #2 A reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I remember how many times your publication urged Champ Car to hire Narain Karthikeyan to take advantage of the large Indian population both here and abroad.  Now that he has won the feature race in China today, A1GP gets yet another feather in their cap.  Since A1GP signed their deal with Ferrari everything is falling into place for that series.  Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is for A1GP to buy Champ Car.  Then maybe we will have one heck of a properly run global series to challenge F1.  George Wilson, Charlotte, NC

12/16/07 As the feature race is about to begin in 5 minutes, the entire main grandstand and other viewing areas around the Zhuhai track are packed with enthusiastic Chinese race fans.  Champ Car will regret letting this race get away for decades to come.

The China team gets the packed grandstands cheering

12/15/07  A1GP arrived in Zhuhai, China this week to put on their inaugural race.  Opening ceremonies saw the Chinese team car, driven by Marchy Lee, put in some demo laps before a packed grandstand.  Whereas Champ Car failed to have its Zhuhai event materialize, the A1GP weekend started off without a hitch.

After Lee sped around the track for two laps, the A1 Team China race car stopped right in front of the grandstand in the middle of the two rows of flag bearers. Marchy Lee then undid his seatbelts and stepped up from the car. He removed his helmet and waved to the crowd. The crowd responded enthusiastically, in an instant, the grandstand was full of people waving the Chinese national flag and cheered A1 Team China.

Federation of Automobile Sports of China (FASC) chairman Mr. Yan Jian-Chang, Zhuhai's Vice Mayor Mr. Jin Zhan-Yang, Zhuhai Sports Council Chairman Mr. Jiang Jian-Cheng. A1GP Asia Pacific CEO Mr. David Clare, A1 Team China chairman Liu Yu, ZIC Board Director Mr. Huang Gong-Bo, ZIC President Dato' Lim Hock-San walked to the car as A1 Team China's starting ceremony officially began. At the singing of the Chinese national anthem, everyone including the guests and fans stood up respectfully as they witnessed the arrival of the A1 Grand Prix - World Cup of Motorsport's arrival at the Zhuhai International Circuit.

After the flag raising ceremony, the flag was given to Zhuhai's Deputy Mayor Mr. Jin Zhan-Yang from A1GP Asia Pacific CEO Mr. David Clare, witnessed by FASC chairman Mr. Yan Jian-Chang. A1GP is now officially an alliance of the Zhuhai International Circuit, signifying another international event's arrival at ZIC. This is another confirmation that Zhuhai's enthusiasm for motorsport and motorsport culture has been recognized internationally. The huge number of motorsport fans and the motorsport culture nurtured by ZIC, has helped enormously in achieving the allegiance with A1GP.

Comment
12/16/07
a1gp

Germany Wins as China Takes Home Race Podium
China - Pole sitter A1 Team Germany's Michael Ammermüller raced to his first A1GP victory in this morning's inaugural Zhuhai Sprint race at round four of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season while China's CongFu Cheng put in an incredible performance on home soil, taking a fantastic home race podium.

German rookie Ammermüller dominated the race from lights to flag, holding off Neel Jani to cross the line just over half a second ahead of title leader Switzerland who finished second. The packed grandstand roared when home nation China's CongFu Cheng made a sensational move past Ireland's Adam Carroll on lap 10 to grab third place. The 23-year-old from Beijing went on to take the first podium finish of his career and China's first of the season.

Czech Republic, Great Britain and India finished fifth, sixth and seventh while France and the Netherlands crossed the line in eighth and ninth place respectively.

Read more & Comment...
12/16/07
f1

Finn queried McLaren before signing deal


Heikki Kovalainen

(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen clarified McLaren's stance on the 'Stepneygate' scandal before committing to a long term contract with the British team, the Finn admitted on Saturday.

While gearing up for Sunday's Race of Champions event at Wembley Stadium, the newly-signed former Renault driver said he was concerned that the espionage case involving Ferrari might affect his new team in 2008.

Not only was Woking based McLaren excluded from the 2007 championship, the team has frozen development of three areas of its 2008 challenger while admitting that the damage to its image affected investment far beyond the $100 million fine.

"We respectfully request that the members of the (World Motor Sport) Council consider the significant disruption that has occurred within the team as a consequence of this matter," chief executive Martin Whitmarsh wrote in a letter to the FIA body recently.

"Apart from the morale sapping consequence within the team, its ability to continue its task of generating investment has, as I am sure anyone can imagine, been made virtually impossible," he added.

Britain's The Times newspaper, however, claims that McLaren officials reassured Kovalainen that the team would re-emerge in 2008 still as a highly competitive force.

"Before I signed the contract I asked about the issue, and all I know is that it won't affect our performance next year, and that was enough for me," Kovalainen said in London.

Comment
12/16/07
f1

Dennis rejects calls to quit McLaren
(GMM)  Ron Dennis has defiantly rejected claims that the conclusion to the Stepneygate scandal could cost him his job.

After his team last week issued a groveling apology for not knowing how far Ferrari secrets had penetrated its Woking headquarters, and voluntarily freezing aspects of its 2008 car, some sections of the press surmised that the logical next step would be for Dennis, 60, to retire.

The Observer headlined on Sunday: "Apology leaves Dennis with nowhere to go".

The newspaper said Dennis' earlier plan was to gradually relinquish control of McLaren, but that the spying admission must now "hasten his departure".

Dennis, however, angrily retorted: "I will not be forced out of formula one.

"I'm not going to quit.  That is 100 per cent," he told the British tabloid News of the World.

"I know there are people out there who want me to retire, but I'm not.  I do not think it would be in the best interests of the team," he said.

Comment
12/15/07
a1gp

USA's Summerton to start 7th in Feature at Zhuhai
ZHUHAI, China--Jonathan Summerton qualified seventh, the best starting position of the season for A1 TEAM USA, Saturday for the Feature race in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport at Zhuhai International Circuit in the Republic of China.

"I am really excited about lining up seventh in the 'We the People' car for the Feature race," Summerton said. "We have a good chance at finishing in the top five. I am also pretty pleased with qualifying 11th for the Sprint, but I made a few mistakes and we lost a few tenths (of a second) and we dropped about four places at the end." Summerton had his fastest lap of the weekend in the second 15-minute qualifying session for the Feature, running 1:23.992 on the 2.7-mile, 14-turn circuit.

The 19-year-old from Kissimmee, Fla., an 1:24.459 in the first Feature session running on previously used Cooper tires. The team saved its final fresh set for the second Feature session. Summerton's first run in the Sprint qualifying was ruined by running through oil put down from a support race. But in the second session, on new tires, Summerton ran 1:24.104 for 11th in the 22-car field.

A1 TEAM USA fitted new brakes to the car following Friday's practice. In the one-hour practice Saturday prior to qualifying, Summerton built up speed steadily searching for the best line and approach to each corner. The team made several setup changes to increase traction. Late in the session, the team decided to test the setup with new tires and Summerton put the "We the People" car second on the timing monitor at 1:24.342, over a half second quicker than Friday's practice. "We did a very good job to find the speed we needed to start in the top 10 in the Feature," A1 TEAM USA owner Rick Weidinger said.

"Jonathan and the team worked well together and made significant progress. We're just out of the top 10 for the Sprint and we have a fast car. We are positioned to challenge for top-five finishes in the two races." Sunday's 20-minute Sprint and 70-minute Feature are being streamed live on A1GP.com.

Comment
12/15/07
f1

Hamilton to work closer with Kovalainen
Lewis Hamilton says he is looking forward to working closer with Heikki Kovalainen in 2008 for the benefit of McLaren after the team announced the two would be team mates next season.

"As soon as the checkered flag went in Brazil I began to count down the days until Australia," said Lewis. "I am really looking forward to 2008 and working with Heikki as my teammate. Together with the team we will do everything we can to ensure that our Championship challenge is as strong and focused as possible."

"My first year in Formula 1 was incredible and I was so fortunate to spend it with McLaren Mercedes and I hope that Heikki will enjoy his first year with the team as much as I did mine," he added.

Comment
12/15/07
nascar

NASCAR allows Penske to swap owner points between Busch and Hornish
NASCAR has approved Penske Racing's request to transfer the owner points from Kurt Busch to [highly over-rated] Sam Hornish Jr., a move that locks the three-time IndyCar Series champion into the first five races of next season.

Hornish publicly thanked Busch for giving him the points at the Penske holiday party on Friday night. Bud Denker, senior vice president of Penske Corp., confirmed Saturday that the team would swap the points with NASCAR's approval.

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, said the sanctioning body had signed off on the transfer.

"This would obviously help Sam as he prepares to run the first five races instead of prepares to qualify for the first five races," Denker said. "With a champion like Kurt Busch and the opportunity to utilize (the points), anyone would be foolish to not take care of the situation."

Hornish, a former Indianapolis 500 winner, is leaving that series for NASCAR next season. But his No. 77 Dodge won't be one of the 35 cars locked into the first five races of the year. As the 2004 series champion, Busch has a provisional position that he could fall back on should he fail to qualify on speed. ThatsRacin.com

Comment
12/15/07
PF2000

Hulse Joins DFR for 2008
Fullerton, Calif. – Reigning Pacific F2000 Masters champion Chuck Hulse announced this week he will contest the 2008 Pacific F2000 Championship with Dave Freitas Racing. Hulse has every intention of successfully defending his Masters title (for drivers aged 51 or older) while still remaining a serious front-runner for overall honors.

“I am very excited to race for DFR and feel the team’s focus on the series and hands-on approach will be just the tune-up my program needs to put me on the podium regularly in this very competitive series,” stated Hulse, who scored eight Masters wins from 12 races in 2007 and scored a best overall finish of second at Miller Motorsports Park while driving for Team G.FRO.

Read more & Comment...
12/15/07
eurof3

Carlin to enter F3 Euro Series in 2008
Championship winning British F3 team Carlin Motorsport will enter the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2008, it was announced today.  The Hampshire based squad, who have taken the title in Britain on three occasions since 1999, will join the European championship for the first time when the season kicks off at Hockenheim in April next year. Following the team’s first full season of racing in 1999, Carlin have won 79 races in British F3, to become the most successful team in the history of the championship. 

Famous names such as Narain Karthikeyan, Takuma Sato, Anthony Davidson and Jamie Green have all won scores of F3 races with the British team on their way to highest echelons of the sport.

Read more & Comment...
12/15/07
f1

Cabbie Schu in Coburg police probe
(GMM) Michael Schumacher and a newly-famous taxi driver might soon face the consequences of their high speed ride in a nine-seater Opel minivan earlier this week.

Tuncer Yilmaz sparked a frenzy of international headlines when he revealed that Schumacher, the retired seven time world champion, gave him a 100 euro tip after asking to take over the wheel of his taxi in order to get his family to the airport on time.

Yilmaz, originally from Turkey, said the former Ferrari racer drove "full throttle" around corners while overtaking "in some unbelievable places" in Coburg, central Germany, as his wife Corinna and two children also sat in the cab.

The Coburg newspaper Neue Presse now reports that both Schumacher and Yilmaz are being investigated by police and state prosecutors.

"We are looking into precisely what happened," spokesman Jurgen Hannecke confirmed.

Comment
12/15/07
nascar

Brewco Motorsports now Baker Curb Racing
Nashville businessman Gary Baker and record executive Mike Curb have officially joined forces to take over full ownership of the NASCAR Nationwide Series team formerly known as Brewco Motorsports, the team announced in a news release.

Baker originally announced his purchase of controlling interest of what is now called Baker Curb Racing in September but has now completed a total acquisition and partnership with Curb's CA Racing which is affiliated with Curb's longtime motorsports partner Cary Agajanian.

Baker formerly owned both Bristol Motor Speedway and Nashville Speedway.

"I am excited about the vision we are bringing to the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Nashville," Baker said. "I am also encouraged by my partnership with Mike Curb and all of the leadership attributes and connections he will bring to the table. We are looking forward to creating a winning professional sports team that NASCAR and the city of Nashville can be proud of."

Comment
12/15/07
arca

ARCA Testing Begins at Daytona
Forty-one teams kicked off a three-day ARCA RE/MAX Series test session on Friday at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the ARCA 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series race scheduled for Feb. 9.

Among the drivers in attendance include 2007 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Champion Dario Franchitti, five-time ARCA 200 At Daytona winner Bobby Gerhart, Formula One driver turned stock car rookie Scott Speed and nine-time ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel.

Erik Darnell, driving a Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, was the fastest after the first day of testing with a speed of 179.935 mph. Rounding out the top five were Dominick Casola (179.569), Matt Carter (179.269), Richard Childress Racing’s Alex Yontz (179.269) and Chad Blount (179.023).

Read more & Comment...
12/15/07
industry news

Toyota recalls Tundra pickups
Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 15,600 new Tundra large pickups because a rear driveshaft can separate and cause the wheels to stop turning, a setback in the company's challenge to U.S. rivals' dominance in such trucks.

The recall covers four-wheel drive versions of the 2007 Tundra, Toyota said Friday. There has been one occurrence of the problem, with no accidents or injuries, the company said.

The flaw follows an earlier announcement by Toyota that it would replace V8 engines in 20 of the 2007 trucks because of defective camshafts. The revamped Tundra also failed to win top safety scores for all model types in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tests.

Friday's recall is "small in terms of numbers, but when you look at the number of incidents Toyota has had on the Tundra, it begins to add up," said Dennis Virag, president of Automotive Consulting Group in Ann Arbor. "Pickups are a different breed of animal. Toyota is still on a learning curve." Detroit Free Press

Comment
12/15/07
f1

Dennis should pay the price for McLaren wreckage

Ron Dennis

It is hard to find the right words to describe the season that McLaren Mercedes and Ron Dennis, their embattled team principal, have endured this year. A shambles, a disaster – take your pick.

The proud Woking-based Formula One team have stumbled from one crisis to another, culminating this week in having to issue a humiliating public apology to their rivals, fans and the FIA, the sport’s governing body, in an attempt to stave off further sanctions for conduct that amounts to cheating.

It had all looked so bright and beautiful in the McLaren garden this time last year. Lewis Hamilton was about to make his debut, the team had secured the services of Fernando Alonso, the double world champion, and a glorious season in Dennis’s 60th year seemed on the cards. Who knows, he could even have been on his way to Buckingham Palace for a knighthood by the end of this month, but not any more.

Instead, we are left to ponder how on earth it all went wrong and why Dennis and possibly also Martin Whitmarsh, his right-hand man and chief operating officer, have not already resigned or been fired. If their chosen field had been politics or football, for example, both would have been forced out months ago.

Consider the charge-sheet. Quite apart from McLaren not winning a drivers’ World Championship since Mika Hakkinen’s in 1999 and a constructors’ title since a year before that (in football this would have been enough on its own to have sent Dennis and Whitmarsh packing), this season has seen a truly extraordinary catalogue of failings under their “watch”.

Ron Dennis and Fernando Alonso

They completely failed to meet the challenge of managing Alonso, who ripped the team apart as his own frailties in the face of Hamilton’s quality on the track led him from disillusionment to destructive anger. In trying to handle the Spaniard, Dennis stumbled from one row to another, each with more damaging consequences, until the two refrained from speaking to each other at all.  More at the England Times

Comment
12/15/07
nascar

Waltrip team announces three crew chiefs
Michael Waltrip Racing announced its 2008 Sprint Cup Series crew chief lineup with the recent hiring of Paul Andrews, Bill Pappas and Ryan Pemberton. Andrews will serve as crew chief for Michael Waltrip and the #55 Napa Auto Parts Toyota Camry team. Pappas is assigned to the team, which will field the #44 UPS Camry for Dale Jarrett then become the #00 team at Martinsville when David Reutimann takes over the #44 UPS ride. Pemberton is the crew chief for David Reutimann, who will race the #00 Aaron’s Toyota Camry for five races before switching to the driver of the #44 UPS team. Pemberton and Reutimann will remain together through the transition. Jerry Baxter remains as crew chief of the #99 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry driven by David Reutimann in the Nationwide [was Busch] Series. Michael Waltrip comments on 2008 crew chief lineup: “My vision of Michael Waltrip Racing becoming one of the elite organizations in NASCAR has not changed since the day I started this team. Over the past four months we have made significant moves to position ourselves for success with the addition of my new business partner Rob Kauffman, our Technical Director, Dr. Eric Warren, and EVP of Business Operations Cal Wells. Our logical next phase was to bring in race and championship winning crew chiefs to lead our teams. And we have done that with the addition of Paul Andrews, Bill Pappas and Ryan Pemberton. The degree of difficulty in our monumental start up in 2007 was evident and standing flat-footed heading into 2008 was not an option for us. I could not be more proud of the recent developments. MWR is here to stay and I think these moves show our commitment to long-term success.” MWR PR

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12/15/07
alms

Tafel Racing re-signs Henzler, Farnbacher
Tafel Racing announced today that Wolf Henzler and Dominik Farnbacher will return for 2008 to drive the team's new No. 71 Tafel Racing Ferrari F-430 in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).

The team paired the two speedy Germans for the final two ALMS races of 2007 at Petit Le Mans and Laguna Seca resulting in two second place finishes. Team owner Jim Tafel was happy with the performances and will keep the duo together for 2008.

"When we put Dominik together with Wolf the chemistry was immediate," Tafel said. "They both share similar driving styles and as a pair will be contenders for a championship in 2008. It was one of our goals to retain the combination for 2008."

Wolf Henzler enters the second year of a multi-year contract with the team.

Read more & Comment...
12/14/07
nascar

Truck series rookie of year out of ride
Willie Allen, the 2007 Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) Rookie of the Year, will not return to the #13 ThorSport Racing truck for the 2008 NCTS season. ThorSport Racing has terminated their agreement with Allen for 2008. "We are currently looking for other opportunities for next season," explains Allen. "We had a successful year with ThorSport Racing but I'm hearing another driver is bringing in a substantial amount of money. I have a letter exercising ThorSport's option on my contract for 2008, so I don't know how this could happen. I hope that we can put something together with a team in one of NASCAR's top three divisions very soon." For more information on Willie Allen, visit www.willieallen.com. Modern Management PR

Comment
12/14/07
f1

The full FIA report on McLaren spygate episode
Here is the full FIA report (PDF) on the McLaren/Ferrari spygate investigation, which led to McLaren issuing an apology that they did indeed use Ferrari secrets.....which of course places an asterisk next to all of Lewis Hamilton's wins as they came using a cheater car.

Comment
12/14/07
nascar

As ratings tumble, NASCAR loses two more sponsors
Two of NASCAR's official sponsors, Callaway and NewPage, say they will not renew when their contracts run out at the end of this year. Callaway owned the title of official golf club of NASCAR, while another Callaway brand, Top-Flite, was the official golf ball.

Comment
12/14/07
cc

Bourdais and Rahal Receive Accolades for 2007 Season
Sebastien Bourdais and Graham Rahal have received accolades for their success during the 2007 Champ Car World Series season while driving for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.

Bourdais piloted the No. 1 McDonald’s entry to eight wins and seven poles en route to an unprecedented, history-making fourth consecutive title while Rahal drove the No. 2 Medi | Zone entry to four podium finishes including a second place in Houston that earned him the distinction of becoming the youngest podium finisher in series history at 18 years old.

Bourdais earned a spot on the 2007 American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) All America team for the fourth consecutive year.  Two team members are elected in each of the seven categories with the driver earning the most votes being eligible to win the Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy and be named AARWBA’s Driver of the Year at the annual banquet in January.  In addition to Bourdais, other Titus contenders include two-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, reigning IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti, five-time NHRA champion Tony Schumacher and three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr.

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12/14/07
f1

Q and A with new McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is pleased to confirm that Finn Heikki Kovalainen will team up with Formula 1 World Championship runner-up Lewis Hamilton for the 2008 season. Here follows an interview with Kovalainen:

How does it feel to be a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver?
"It feels fantastic thank you. The team has always been popular in Finland because of both Mika and Kimi’s involvement, so when I was growing up there was a massive awareness of McLaren Mercedes especially when Mika won the World Championship twice. I am so happy to be part of this team. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but I can’t wait."

When did you start talking to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes about a race drive?
"Once I had been informed by Renault about their driver plans my management and I began to explore a number of options in Formula 1. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes was obviously an incredibly attractive opportunity and we began talking and here we are…..I am pleased it all worked out."

You will be teammates with Lewis Hamilton – how well do you know Lewis?
"I don’t know Lewis that well but we have spoken on a number of occasions during 2007. From what I have seen and heard he is a nice guy."

Read more & Comment...

12/14/07
gp2

Valerio joins Durango for 2008 seasons
Brazilian Alberto Valerio will compete in the GP2 Series in 2008 for the Durango team. The twenty-two year old has been confirmed at the Italian squad for both the GP2 Series and GP2 Asia Series. Alberto has been a regular fixture at GP2 Series tests in recent years, running for Durango, Racing Engineering and Trident among others. After much work then, 2008 will finally see the talented youngster grab his GP2 chance.

Durango Team Principal Ivone Pinton was delighted with his new charge. “We were already close to signing Alberto in the 2006 season,” he confirmed. “I’m very satisfied to welcome this driver, who we believe is ready to race in a demanding category like GP2 after his important experience in F3 in 2007. The kilometers of tests that we did together a month ago confirmed the driver’s ability to the team and made me look forward to 2008 with enthusiasm.”

Read more & Comment...
12/14/07
gp2

Grosjean confirmed at ART Grand Prix
The much vaunted signing of Romain Grosjean by ART Grand Prix was confirmed this morning. The Frenchman dominated the 2007 F3 EuroSeries with the ASM F3 team, and rumors had placed him at the sister ART squad in GP2 since the end of the season.

Grosjean follows in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton as an F3 champion with ASM to step immediately into the ART GP2 team, and both team bosses Nicolas Todt and Fred Vasseur are confident that he can follow in the Briton's enormous footsteps.

"Romain  is  the  second driver  after  Lewis  Hamilton who  symbolizes the synergy  between GP2  and  the F3 Euro Series  within  the ART  Grand  Prix  team," said Todt.

Todt was quick to reference this important element of parity. "It  was  important  for  ART  Grand  Prix  to  continue  working  with  the  Renault Driver Development Program," he confirmed, "and  we are  thrilled that  Romain cements this profitable collaboration.  The  choice  of  Romain  continues ART  Grand Prix’s  tradition of securing  the best drivers in the advancing formulas of the support series and to help them succeed on the highest level."

Fred Vasseur was clearly delighted with his new driver. "ART Grand Prix and Romain are already well known to each other after having dominated the  F3  Euro  Series  championship  in  2007," he enthused. "The  speed  the  technical  knowledge  and  the dedication of Romain in his work is a guarantee that ART will have one of the best drivers of his generation. The fact that he knows our team so well will smooth the progress of his adaptation to a very demanding championship."

Romain meanwhile, echoed the words of his team bosses, and admitted he can't wait to get to work. "I  am  very  happy  that  Frederic  Vasseur  and  Nicolas  Todt  have  given  me  the  chance  to evolve  in  the  best  GP2  team  and  I  hope  to  be  able  to  pay them  back with  some good results. I am  also very happy  to continue working  with the same team that  brought me to the title in the F3 Euro Series. The objective will be to repeat this result in GP2."

Comment
12/14/07
ga

Proto-Auto Commences Lola Testing for 2008 Season


Lola's first Daytona Prototype

Proto-Auto completed the first Lola Daytona Prototype chassis test for the customer Krohn Racing this week. Representatives from Proto-Auto, Lola Cars and Krohn Racing conducted initial testing with a brief and successful shakedown at Road Atlanta. The operation then moved to Savannah for testing.
 
Proto-Auto, a partnership of Krohn Racing and Lola Cars, is the official constructor of the Lola chassis. The newly designed chassis, with a CRD-prepared Pontiac engine, performed well at the Savannah test, completing over 100 laps with one hundred percent reliability during the first day of testing.

TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner/No. 75 Driver:
“In Miami, Martin Birrane and I proudly announced this program. Since then, our groups have worked together, with our suppliers, to produce an excellent vehicle. Martin and I are very grateful to everybody for the hard work that has gone into this program. Track testing is just another step in the process of producing a winning car and meeting the expectations of our potential customers.”
 
MARTIN BIRRANE, Executive Chairman, Lola Group:
“I’ve kept in touch with the progress at the track and am delighted with the updates I’ve been receiving. I’m sure the Lola will be a fine reward for the outstanding effort that has been made in producing the car. I’m looking forward to working closely with Tracy Krohn and his team in 2008 and beyond. I anticipate an exciting start for our new partnership at Daytona next month.”

Read more & Comment...

12/14/07
f1

McLaren plan subdued 2008 car debut
(GMM) McLaren on Friday said it currently has no plans to launch its 2008 car, the MP4-23, with a traditional official presentation.

Marking the beginning of double world champion Fernando Alonso's ultimately ill-fated switch to the team in 2007, McLaren launched its championship campaign with a million-dollar fanfare on the floodlit streets of Valencia.

A year on, battered by the 'Stepneygate' espionage affair, the 2008 car will make a subdued first appearance at an exclusive Jerez test in the second week of January.

"The team will provide the media with photographs and further details about the car when it runs," the team said on Friday.

Comment
12/14/07
f1

McLaren confirms Kovalainen for 2008
(GMM)  McLaren completed its 2008 race driver lineup on Friday by confirming that Heikki Kovalainen has been signed to team up with fellow rookie Lewis Hamilton.

The 26-year-old Finn made his formula one debut this year, and - as he also did at Renault in 2007 - replaces Fernando Alonso, on a long-term contract.

He will begin testing for McLaren in early January.

"We had a number of options open to us and as always we want to make sure that we have the most competitive driver lineup and I think that Lewis and Heikki will be a formidable combination," McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said.

"I am confident that they will push each other on track and work well together off track," he added.

A statement issued by the Woking based team also announced that Pedro de la Rosa will stay in 2008 as third driver, with Gary Paffett to test "when required".

Kovalainen's best finish last season was his second place, behind Hamilton, in Japan. Following Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen, he will be the third Finn to race for McLaren in recent years.

"After the 2007 season I don't think there can be any doubt that the team is totally committed to equality amongst its drivers and I like that," Kovalainen, who made his first visit to the McLaren factory a few days ago, said.

Asked if he thinks he can win the championship in 2008, he answered: "Any driver has to enter into a race and a world championship believing he can win it so of course I do."

Comment
12/14/07
tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

Saturday
Le Mans Endurance Series
3:00am-4:00am (R) Valencia
4:00am-5:00am (R) Nurburg SPEED
German Touring Cars Lausitz
12:00pm-1:00pm (5/20/07) SPEED
Australian V8 Supercars - PlaceMakers V8 Supercars Pukekohe Park
1:00pm-2:00pm (4/22/07) SPEED
Mazda MX-5 Cup Cleveland
2:00pm-2:30pm (6/22/07) - Race 1
2:30pm-3:00pm (6/23/07) - Race 2 SPEED
World Series of Off-Road Racing 
3:00pm-4:00pm SPEED
Championship Off-Road Racing Chula Vista
4:00pm-5:00pm SPEED

Sunday
Back in the Day with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
7:30am-8:00am (R) SPEED
Movie: World's Fastest Indian
12:30pm-2:45pm Showtime
Check local listings for your time zone
Porsche Rennsport Reunion - Daytona
4:00pm-5:00pm (11/2007) SPEED
Risk Takers - Race Track Rescue
Race car drivers & track rescue workers
4:00pm-5:00pm (R) Discovery HD Theater
Check local listings for your time zone
Monterey Historics Laguna Seca
5:00pm-5:30pm (R) - IMSA GT Cars
5:30pm-6:00pm (R) - Can-Am
6:00pm-7:00pm (R) - Indy Roadsters SPEED
The SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED

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

Comment
12/14/07
racing news
nascar

Budweiser tops Miller in value of NASCAR sponsorships
Milwaukee brewer Miller Brewing Co. is getting a high rate of return on its sponsorship of NASCAR driver 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, who drives the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, 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.

The research was conducted by Kansas City, Mo.-based sponsorship measurement firm Image Impact and SportsBusiness Journal, an affiliate publication of The Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee.

Read more & Comment...
12/14/07
nascar

Despite stumbles, Speedway expects rise in profits in '08
International Speedway Corp. warned of more trouble ahead for its ailing sportswear and collectibles business Wednesday but predicted its profits per share will climb 11 to 14 percent next year.

Speed Weeks should give the company a strong start for 2008, said Lesa France Kennedy, president of the motorsports giant. Special events planned for the 50th running of the Daytona 500 race are driving a double-digit percentage increase in advance ticket sales, she said.

"While we continue to keep a close eye on national economic trends and their impact on consumer spending, we expect to post increases in all of our major revenue categories," France Kennedy said.

After twice lowering its profit estimates earlier this year, company officials said the fourth quarter, which ended Nov. 30 on ISC's fiscal calendar, shaped up better than expected. It now expects to report full-year earnings per share of $2.75 to $2.80 per share, a nickel more than its previous estimate.

For 2008, earnings per share are expected to grow to the $3.05 to $3.15 range, with a figure in the lower half of the range more likely, said Susan Schandel, the company's chief financial officer.

Read more & Comment...
12/14/07
irl

AJ Foyt sponsor could be heading to jail


Last July in Michigan Jeff Bucknum, A.J. Foyt and Ed Okun announce new marketing partnership

Okun poses with Foyt team

A Miami Beach businessman is accused of squandering $160 million from investors. He signed an agreement that let him keep his two multimillion-dollar homes.

From his waterfront estate on Hibiscus Island, Edward Okun oversaw one of the nation's fastest-growing tax-shelter companies -- a haven for wealthy investors looking to save big money on real-estate ventures.

The flashy 59-year-old businessman amassed a reported personal fortune of $659 million -- with all the trappings: a 130-foot yacht, a fleet of luxury cars, a helicopter and several private jets. But the empire Okun built is now unraveling amid a federal investigation, lawsuits and claims by hundreds of investors who say they were fleeced of $160 million in one of the largest business collapses of its kind.

The company Okun was trying to build into a national name is now in bankruptcy and his possessions, including his lavish Mediterranean estate, are for sale. At an October court hearing, a court-approved fiduciary told a New York bankruptcy judge that Okun had siphoned the money from his clients. ''He has betrayed the trust of many, many people and has hurt them very deeply,'' said Edward Moran.

Okun told The Miami Herald he is misunderstood. But he won't talk about his situation further because of his mounting legal problems.

''I'm dying to tell what happened,'' he said. ``Nobody knows the truth.''

Read more & Comment...

12/14/07
industry news

Ford's sales fall short
Ford Motor Co.'s November U.S. retail sales fell below the company's own forecast, according to its latest internal report card, which was distributed to employees late Wednesday.

The worse-than-expected U.S. sales underscore the challenge posed by a weakening economy and declining demand for cars and trucks to the Dearborn automaker's North American turnaround plan.

However, the document -- a copy of which was obtained by The Detroit News -- does show that the company is meeting its material cost-reduction goals, which had been a challenge for Ford in light of rising raw materials costs and widening problems with U.S. suppliers.

According to the latest report card, Ford's share of the U.S. retail market dropped to just 12.4 percent in November -- well below the 13 percent goal the company has set for itself, and a significant decline over the previous month.

Ford blamed the slump on a quickening shift in consumer demand toward smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

"November industry sales shifted to cars and crossovers. SUV and pickup truck sales weakened. The shift was greater than expected," Ford said in the document, which was released to employees late Wednesday. "Consumers reacted to concerns about fuel prices and the economy. Ford has relatively lower segment market share on cars than trucks. As a result, an industry shift toward cars results in a lower total share for Ford."

But this shift is nothing new. Ford has already blamed the failure of its first Way Forward plan in 2006 on a faster-than-expected shift away from the big trucks and SUVs that had been the foundation of Ford's portfolio. More at Detroit News

Comment
12/14/07
f1

McLaren admit cash shortage
McLaren have admitted their cash shortage from the Stepneygate crisis is even worse than first feared.

Already fined $100m by the FIA for their part in the spy scandal that threatened to derail the 2007 World Championship and which cost the team the Constructors' Championship, McLaren have been further rocked by the implications of their groveling public admission that 'Ferrari information was more widely disseminated within McLaren than was previously communicated'.

In a highly revealing passage in Martin Whitmarsh's letter of apology to the governing body, the McLaren CEO wrote that: 'Apart from the morale-sapping consequences within the team, its ability to continue its task of generating investment has been made virtually impossible. Consequently, the long-term damage to the team's previously outstanding record and commercial capability is significantly greater than that potentially envisaged by the fiscal penalty imposed.' 

Read more & Comment...
12/14/07
f1

Ferrari to continue legal actions
Although McLaren publicly apologized themselves for the espionage affair and although the FIA decided to drop the February-scheduled hearing, Ferrari will push true with the criminal actions and the civil cases in Italy and England.

"The written and verbal statements issued by senior McLaren personnel both at the World Council meetings of the 26th July and 13th September and through the media have thus been publicly proved wrong. Therefore it is admitted that confidential information which was the property of Ferrari was disseminated within the structure of the English team and this also confirms the seriousness of the behavior of those involved over the past few months.

In the light of McLaren's apology and the guarantees it has presented, Ferrari respects the proposal of the FIA President to cancel the extraordinary general meeting of the WSMC scheduled for 14th February coming, thus bringing this incident to a close from a sporting point of view. However, it is confirmed that criminal actions underway in Italy and civil ones in England are still continuing."

Comment
12/14/07
cc
f1

Rahal to drive BMW F1 car
When the BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park visits Las Vegas in the U.S. state of Nevada from 7th to 10th January 2008, the world-renowned entertainment capital won't be alone in celebrating a Formula One comeback. On this special occasion the American Rahal family of racing drivers will also be re-entering the orbit of motorsport's crowning discipline. Graham Rahal (US), the son of U.S. motor racing legend Bobby Rahal (US), will for the first time get a taste of driving the BMW Sauber F1 Team racing car in the Pit Lane Park.

"It's a great thrill for me to be driving a Formula One car even though it's not on a proper racing circuit," said the 18 year old. "It has been a dream of mine to drive an F1 car and I can't thank BMW enough for giving me this opportunity.

Rahal's formula racing career began in 2004 with Formula BMW USA. He led the Toyota Atlantic series in wins and poles in 2006 before graduating to the Champ Car World Series in 2007 - and putting in a convincing performance from the start. In only his third race, he finished second to become the youngest driver ever to claim a podium place in this series. He finished fifth in the series, becoming the youngest driver ever to finish in the top-five in the Champ Car championship standings. The BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park driver line-up will be completed by Daniel Morad (CA). The 2007 Formula BMW USA champion will drive the Formula BMW car.

Read more & Comment...
12/14/07
a1gp

Ireland Sets Pace in Friday Practice at Zhuhai
China - A1 Team Ireland took charge in the second of today's two free practice sessions at Zhuhai International Circuit as all 22 drivers experienced the Chinese circuit for the first time in an A1GP car, kicking off round four of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season.

Twenty-five-year-old Irish rookie Adam Carroll, who finished fifth fastest in the morning session when the top 12 nations were separated by less than one second, clocked a best lap of 1m23.279s around the 4.3km circuit this afternoon in warm and sunny weather conditions.

Carroll, who is feeling a lot more comfortable in the emerald green car after extensive work on his seat, was encouraged by his team's start to the weekend and is aiming for a strong qualifying performance tomorrow afternoon:

'Obviously it was only practice but it was a good way to start the weekend. We got a pretty good lap on new rubber but I'm sure everyone's going to catch up tomorrow. I'm hoping we can carry the pace all the way through the weekend and get up the front and stay there. I've had some major issues with my seat and we've had to make seven so far. I find it quite hard to get comfortable in the car but now I can really concentrate on driving the car rather than being in pain so it should make a lot of difference.'

Read more & Comment...
12/14/07
cc

Power wins Jack Brabham award


Will Power

Team Australia Champ Car driver Will Power has been awarded the prestigious Sir Jack Brabham Award at the CAMS Australian Motorsport Awards in Melbourne, Australia tonight.

Power, who is still in the United States preparing for next season’s Champ Car World Series, sent messages of thanks to the dinner, truly humbled by the prestigious honor.

The Sir Jack Brabham Award is for outstanding achievement by an Australian in international competition. Last year the award went to Cody Crocker and Ben Atkinson for winning the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.

For 2007, the Board of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) selected Will Power to be the recipient of the Award in recognition of his successful year in the Champ Car World Series with Team Australia.

Read more & Comment...

12/14/07
f1

Latest F1 news in brief
  • Mosley moves to end McLaren spy affair
  • Williams tabs Hulkenberg for test role
  • Light test puts Albert Park night race back on agenda
  • Rodriguez applies for F1 superlicense
  • FIA could scrap slick tire return - Mosley

Mosley moves to end McLaren spy affair
(GMM)  Following what the British press described as a "groveling" apology by McLaren, FIA president Max Mosley has moved to end the so-called Stepneygate spying scandal.

Although the Paris body is yet to agree, Mosley has "asked the members of the World Motor Sport Council for their consent to cancel the hearing scheduled for 14 February 2008", a statement on Thursday said.

The February hearing had been scheduled in the light of a report filed by FIA technical inspectors showing that McLaren's 2008 car is indeed infected by Ferrari intellectual property.

But given McLaren's undertaking to freeze certain aspects of development of the MP4-23, Mosley said the matter should be closed "in the interests of the sport".

A statement issued by Ferrari, however, confirmed that the Italian team intends to go ahead with criminal and civil actions in Italy and England relating to the case.

Ferrari added: "In the light of McLaren's apology and the guarantees it has presented, Ferrari respects the proposal of the FIA president" to cancel the upcoming hearing.

But while the matter may soon be closed from a sporting point of view, it may signal the end of Ron Dennis' long career as team boss, the British newspaper Daily Mail observed.

The 60-year-old "was fighting for his formula one life last night" after the admission of "cheating and corruption", the newspaper said.

Williams tabs Hulkenberg for test role
(GMM)  The British team Williams on Thursday announced that Nico Hulkenberg has been signed as official test driver for the 2008 season.

The 20-year-old German, who is managed by Michael Schumacher's long time agent Willi Weber, made his formula one test debut in the team's Toyota-powered FW29 recently at Jerez.

"To have represented myself sufficiently well to have been appointed as the team's official test driver is the most amazing news and for me, Christmas has come early," he said.

Alongside the F1 test role, Hulkenberg will again contest the F3 Euroseries next year.

Read more & Comment...
12/13/07
ga
cc

Wilson and Rahal join Michael Shank Racing

Wilson and Rahal with race winner Sebastien Bourdais in Edmonton
LAT Photo

Following up the announcement of Michael Shank Racing’s 2008 full Rolex Sports Car Series season driver lineup, team owner Mike Shank announced today that Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal will join Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford-powered Riley in the 46th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona this January.

“I’m excited to have Justin back with us and we’re really looking forward to Graham being part of the team as well,” said Shank. “Justin is quick in anything he gets into and was a big part of our success in 2006. We expect some big things out of Graham as well - he tested with us last season and I am happy he could be a part of this effort. We are really excited about our package with Ford behind us. Our drivers really liked the new Pirellis and while there is a lot of work ahead for us, this whole team is really pumped up about the 24.”

Wilson, who raced in Formula 1 with Minardi and Jaguar before coming Stateside and emerging as a top competitor in Champ Car, made a remarkable debut in the Rolex event in 2006, sharing the podium with Patterson, Negri, and AJ Allmendinger after taking second place overall. Wilson made his second Rolex Sports Car Series start this September as he rejoined the team in the final race of 2007, co-driving with Negri and Patterson at Miller Motorsports Park.

Read more & Comment...
12/13/07
industry news

North American Car and Truck of the Year Finalists Announced
Four General Motors vehicles, a Honda and a Mazda were the six vehicles voted as finalists for the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. Finalists for the 2008 North American Car of the year are the Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Malibu and Honda Accord. Finalists for the 2008 North American Truck of the Year are the Buick Enclave, Mazda CX-9 and Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid.

Comment
12/13/07
f1

Mosley calls for closure
Due to McLaren’s public apology in regard to the ongoing spy affair that has rocked the Formula One world this year, the President of the FIA, Max Mosley has called on the world council to cancel the hearing scheduled for February next year in regard to the team’s 2008 car, and called for closure in the matter in the best interests of the sport.  The hearing into the team’s new car was meant to be undertaken earlier this month, however due to certain findings by the technical investigators that detected Ferrari information could be in use, the hearing was delayed until a month prior to the season opening Australian Grand Prix.

Comment
12/13/07
nascar

Darlington to host historic race car festival
Darlington Raceway officials say the track will host the inaugural Darlington Historic Racing Festival on Labor Day weekend in 2008.  The festival, which will take place Aug. 30-31, will feature legendary cars and drivers from various racing series, including NASCAR and Indy Car, from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Racing personalities who have agreed to participate include former NASCAR driver and car owner Junior Johnson, Daytona 500 winner Buddy Baker, three-time NASCAR Cup champion Darrell Waltrip, former NASCAR driver David Pearson, championship car owner Bud Moore and former driver Cotton Owens.

"We are absolutely thrilled to bring more than 100 vintage race cars to Darlington Raceway on Labor Day weekend," said Chris Browning, Darlington Raceway president. "Auto racing fans are incredibly proud of the sport's history, and we feel there is no better venue than Darlington Raceway to bring the sports legendary drivers and cars back together for a weekend of celebration and fun."

Comment
12/13/07
nascar

Craftsman wanted out of its NASCAR deal early
Craftsman isn't leaving motorsports, Scott Howard insists, but it will terminate its title sponsorship of the NASCAR truck series at the end of 2008, two years before the end of its current five-year deal.  Craftsman is the only title sponsor the series has had since its inception in 1995.

Howard, manager of marketing partnerships for Sears, said Craftsman's departure also will bring an end to its status as the official tool of NASCAR. The current agreement was supposed to run through 2010, but Craftsman exercised a termination clause for the end of next season.

Whether the next move involves a track deal, a team sponsorship or some other media play, Howard isn't sure yet, but whatever Craftsman does, he wants it to be "disruptive."

"We want to elevate and change the perception of the brand," he said. "We don't want to just do what everybody else is doing, but we want to make it bigger and better. We're looking for ways to break through, be a little more disruptive. We're going to be playing in positions that you might not expect to see the brand."

Read more & Comment...
12/13/07
f1

Ferrari supportive of Mosley action
Ferrari announced this evening that it notes the apology offered today by the McLaren Group, following the investigations carried out by the FIA Technical Department, as presented to the WSMC on 7th December last.

The written and verbal statements issued by senior McLaren personnel both at the World Council meetings of the 26th July and 13th September and through the media have thus been publicly proved wrong.

Therefore it is admitted that confidential information which was the property of Ferrari was disseminated within the structure of the English team and this also confirms the seriousness of the behavior of those involved over the past few months. In the light of McLaren’s apology and the guarantees it has presented, Ferrari respects the proposal of the FIA President [Max Mosley] to cancel the extraordinary general meeting of the WSMC scheduled for 14th February coming, thus bringing this incident to a close from a sporting point of view.

However, it is confirmed that criminal actions underway in Italy and civil ones in England are still continuing.  Ferrari  PR

Comment
12/13/07
irl

Lloyd begins prep work for 2008 debut
The last time reigning Indy Pro Series champion Alex Lloyd tested an IndyCar Series car, it was an audition with Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

On Dec. 17, Lloyd will make his official debut as a Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver, testing alongside 2005 IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon at Sebring International Raceway. The test will cap an eventful week for Lloyd, who was named to the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association's All-America team on Dec. 10 along with IndyCar Series titlist Dario Franchitti.

Read more & Comment...
12/13/07
irl

Castroneves to join Dancing With The Stars Tour
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will join the "Dancing With The Stars Tour" this winter making seven appearances along with his professional dance partner Julianne Hough.

Castroneves, who teamed with Hough to win the fifth season of the celebrity dance competition, will perform at shows beginning Jan. 18 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

“After the show ended, I began preparations for the 2008 IndyCar Series season and even a chance to get back in a race car. But I realized that I’ve got one more week of the quickstep and that infamous yellow suit left in me,” Castroneves said . “I can’t wait to hit the road with Julianne and the entire cast – and perform live for our fans -- without the judges this time.”

Read more & Comment...
12/13/07
industry news

Honda to build new engine plant in China
Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co. will spend about 270 million dollars to build an engine factory in China, a report said Wednesday.

Honda will build the new factory in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou and start production in 2009 with capacity of 200,000 units a year, the Nikkei economic daily said without naming its sources.

The automaker plans to invest 30 billion yen (270 million dollars) in the new plant, which would increase its output capacity for automobile engines by 40 percent, according to the report.

The move would enable Honda to eventually double its production of finished automobiles in China to 700,000 units a year, it said.

Honda, the fourth-biggest carmaker in China in terms of production, aims to close the gap with top-ranked Volkswagen AG of Germany, it said.

Comment
12/13/07
cc

Carl Skerlong Champ Car Q&A


Carl Skerlong

Mukilteo, Washington – Seattle’s Carl Skerlong tested one of Pacific Coast Motorsports 750bhp Champ Car World Series entries two weeks ago at California’s Buttonwillow Raceway and the 19-year-old acquitted himself well, seizing the opportunity to showcase his talents after finishing 10th overall in his rookie season in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship.

Carl took time out from studying for his term finals to reflect on his maiden Champ Car run:

Q:  What had you done to prepare for driving a 750bhp Champ Car and what advice did Pacific Coast Motorsports give you before heading out on track?

Carl Skerlong (CS):  “I’d heard from several people that it was obviously a very physical car to drive.  With that in mind I spent as much time as I could in the gym.  I was focusing on keeping my diet and work-out schedule pretty strict in advance of the opportunity.  It was tough as I’m at school at the moment and I’ve been doing some driver coaching and traveling so it was challenging to prepare but it all worked out well.  I wasn’t fatigued mentally or physically during the test which was good.  The team told me what to expect, they covered everything from hitting the pit box to feeling what it’s like going at 180mph!  It’s obviously a different beast from the Atlantic car I’m used to!”

Carl Skerlong

Q:  Did you expect the opportunity to test a car as powerful as the Champ Car after just three, albeit very accomplished, seasons of racing in open-wheel?

CS:  “We actually talked about this at the test!  Three years ago my first ever racing car test was at Buttonwillow in a Formula Renault 1600.  It’s funny to think that I’d be back testing a Champ Car there three seasons later.  It’s always been a goal of mine to test a Champ Car but I didn’t think it would happen as quickly as it did.”

Read more & Comment...

12/13/07
cc

Martinez hopeful he can land full-time Champ Car ride

David Martinez

Monterrey, Mexico  – After having a strong showing for the second year in a row in front of his countrymen at the Champ Car Season Finale in Mexico City, David Martinez goes into the holiday season with high hopes as he prepares to fight for the 2008 Champ Car Rookie of the Year title. 

The Monterrey native has spent most of the off season at his home town following a strict workout routine which he will maintain throughout the winter in order to keep up with the physical demands of the 750 horsepower DP01 Champ Cars.  Last Saturday he also had time to relax as he celebrated his 26th birthday by competing in a 3 hour endurance Rotax race, and later that night by performing in a concert with his band where he plays lead guitar.

Martinez is a product of the Champ Car Ladder System and has quickly become the new young Hispanic face of Champ Car, enjoying undertaking multiple promotional activities, especially around the Mexico City event.  This year he contested the last two rounds of the Season with Forsythe Championship Racing, finishing tenth in Australia and narrowly missing a top five result in Mexico due to a mechanical problem.

David Martínez
“From the moment I got out of the car in Mexico City this year I began preparing myself both mentally and physically for 2008.  Being able to run comfortably at the front with guys like Paul Tracy, Simon Pagenaud, Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal in only my third start gave me great confidence and now that I’ve ran the DP01 for two races I have high expectations for next season.

Read more & Comment...

12/13/07
cc

Pacific Coast Motorsports Reflects on Rookie Season
Just over one year ago, Pacific Coast Motorsports announced they would return to open-wheel racing with a two-car effort in the Champ Car World Series; North America’s premier open-wheel racing league.

What a year it has been!  The 2004 Atlantic championship winning team entered the Champ Car arena as a rookie team with rookie drivers.  Combined with the introduction of the brand new DP01 Champ Car, some might have thought the odds were stacked up against the California-based squad, but PCM thrives on challenges. 

Team Director Tyler Tadevic commented on the team’s transition and inaugural Champ Car season, “I am proud to have our first season of Champ Car under our belt.  This was a big step up for us and we learned a lot this season. I certainly believe to a certain extent, that we underestimated some elements of Champ Car.  The level of competition is so high, and we certainly didn’t know what it would be like to compete against a team like Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing with over 100 race wins!”  Tadevic continued, “Our crew did an unbelievable job all season long. I am excited for our sophomore season and building upon what we did right, and fixing what we didn’t.”

Read more & Comment...
12/13/07
f1

Hamilton named Sportsman of the Year
Lewis Hamilton's record breaking first season as a Formula 1 driver was acclaimed by Britain's sports journalists yesterday when he was named as their 59th Sportsman of the Year. The awards were the result of a poll of the members of the Sports Journalists Association - writers, photographers, broadcasters - and were presented at a gala lunch in the City of London attended by nearly 300 from the worlds of sport, celebrity, politics and the media.  Lewis was also awarded with the Best International Newcomer award.

Comment
12/13/07
ga

Rolex series returning to VIR
Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Daytona Prototypes will be running the fourth race of their 2008 season at VIRginia International Raceway. Returning once again to America’s Motorsport Resort, the sleek prototypes have staged some of the most memorable races in the series’ history.

The Daytona Prototype series is on the track’s calendar for the weekend of April 25, 26 & 27.  “We certainly look forward every year to the return of the Rolex Sports Car Series,” said track managing partner Connie Nyholm. “It’s a great race, with some really great competitors driving the most exciting sports cars we see every year. This year’s addition of the Formula SAE competition will make the weekend even more special.”

Joining the Daytona Prototypes this year will be the SCCA SPEED Challenge Touring cars, plus the MOTO-ST motorcycles; Skip Barber National series and Star Mazda formula cars and new for VIR, the Formula SAE Collegiate Design Challenge. FSAE pits university students against each other in a competition to design and build the best formula race car. Attracting entries from across the continent, plus some international schools, FSAE is the training ground for race and street car engineers of the future.

Read more & Comment...
12/13/07
f1

Hulkenberg lands Williams test seat


Nico Hulkenberg

The AT&T Williams team today confirmed that the twenty year old driver, Nico Hülkenberg from Emmerich in Germany, has been contracted as the team’s official test driver for the forthcoming 2008 season.

Hülkenberg, who tested for the team last week in Jerez, made a positive impression and conducted himself with maturity over the two days and 425kms of development work. Following the detailed assessment of his capabilities both in and out of the cockpit, he has been awarded the official test driver role which will commence in 2008.

On the confirmation of his appointment, Nico said, “The two days of Formula One testing with the AT&T Williams team last week in Jerez were the realization of an ambition that has driven me ever since my first kart race back in 1997. When I actually got out on track in the FW29, it fulfilled every expectation and more. So to have represented myself sufficiently well to have been appointed as the team’s official test driver is the most amazing news and for me, Christmas has come early.”

Read more & Comment...

12/13/07
f1

McLaren propose freeze to halt spy secrets
(GMM)  McLaren has proposed to freeze development of certain aspects of its 2008 car, after acknowledging that Ferrari secrets penetrated more deeply into the British team than was previously thought.

With the FIA still to rule on the legality of the MP4-23 following the 'Stepneygate' scandal, a McLaren statement on Thursday revealed that the governing body's recent investigation did indeed uncover that "Ferrari information was more widely disseminated ... than was previously communicated".

"McLaren greatly regrets that its own investigations did not identify this material and has written to the World Motor Sport Council to apologize for this," the team said.

The letter, to FIA president Max Mosley, acknowledged that the Ferrari secrets spread within McLaren further than its chief designer and drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Fernando Alonso, contrary to the team's argument at the September hearing.

The World Motor Sport Council is due to meet again on 14 February, where further sanctions could be added to McLaren's $100m fine and 2007 constructors' championship exclusion.

In a bid to avoid additional penalties, the team has offered to "impose a moratorium on development" of three separate systems that may have been infected by the Ferrari secrets.

The letter to FIA president Max Mosley seeks discussions "as to a moratorium of an appropriate length" on the use of "quickshift, fast fill and CO2 as a tire gas".

Comment
12/13/07
f1

Hamilton teammate to be known in one week
(GMM)  The race to be declared Lewis Hamilton's McLaren teammate for 2008 has whittled down to two candidates, Pedro de la Rosa said on Thursday.

The British team's Spanish test driver said in Madrid that he is one of the candidates, but declined to name the other, according to the news agency EFE.

"Right now the seat is between two and I suppose we will know soon who will be the second driver; less than one week," de la Rosa said.

It is widely believed that Heikki Kovalainen, who was left out of Renault's race lineup for next year after debuting in 2007, is also in contention for the seat.  McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh recently mentioned Gary Paffett as another possible contender.

De la Rosa refused to rate his own chances of landing the job.

"I do not know," he insisted, "and I prefer to be cautious and not have illusions.  There were many suitors and now not so many.  I assume that everything will be known within a week.

"Last year with Fernando Alonso coming I was aware that having two Spanish drivers would be difficult, but this time it is not the case."

Comment
12/13/07
imsa

2008 IMSA Lites schedule
The International Motor Sports Association has released the 2008 schedule for IMSA Lites presented by Hankook as the prototype feeder series looks to continue the momentum it has created since its first season in 2006. Now in its third year, the series has produced a schedule that is a mirror image of this past season.

Six of the best permanent road course venues in North America will play host to two IMSA Lites rounds per event as it plays a supporting role with the American Le Mans Series. As is the case with North America’s premier brand of motorsport, IMSA Lites will feature multi-class racing. It presents a dimension of competition as drivers must be aware of the class’ distinctly different speeds as they navigate the race tracks. It is the same challenge American Le Mans Series drivers face.

“IMSA Lites has, without a doubt, exceeded expectations we laid out for it when it was formed three years ago,” said Tim Mayer, IMSA Chief Operating Officer. “It is an ideal platform for developing the next wave of prototype competitors in the American Le Mans Series, and the events we have selected for 2008 will help us continue to do just that.” 

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12/13/07
IMSA

2008 IMSA GT3 Cup schedule
A record number of venues, a season-ending endurance race and another appearance with Formula 1 highlight the 2008 schedule for the IMSA GT3 Cup by Michelin. A full field of Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars will compete in 14 rounds at seven of the most prominent venues in North America.

Since its inception in 2005, the top semi-professional and gentlemen drivers from around the world have tested themselves in the largest single-make championship in North America. The series’ fourth season won’t prove to be any easier with stops at famed circuits such as Sebring, Mid-Ohio, Road Atlanta and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with the American Le Mans Series. The highlight, however, will be two races at the Grand Prix of Canada at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. It will mark the second straight year that will see the IMSA GT3 Cup by Michelin supporting an F1 event.

The series also will close its season with a one-hour, 15-minute endurance race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The balance of the 2008 schedule remains the same as 2007, a key point in the scheduling process.

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12/13/07
f1

Spanish sponsor leaves McLaren
(GMM)  A Spanish sponsor has followed the example of countryman Fernando Alonso by leaving the formula one team McLaren after the first of a multi-year contract.

Mutua Madrilena, an insurance company, has broken its two-season deal and is now tipped to re-join Alonso in 2008, Spanish media reports on Thursday said.

We reported that officials for the Spanish sponsor travelled to the British team's Woking base in late November to negotiate the contract split.

Mutua Madrilena, whose sponsorship value is estimated at $5m per season, followed Alonso, 26, from Renault to McLaren at the end of 2006.

The deal included branding on the 2007 McLaren car's front wing endplates, drivers' sleeves as well as helmets.

Mutua Madrilena was the first Spanish company to sponsor formula one, entering the sport with Renault in 2005.

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12/13/07
industry news

Toyota expects sales to grow 3% in ’08
Despite a shaky U.S. economy and the prospects of slower auto sales through the first half of 2008, a top Toyota Motor Corp. sales executive said the automaker expects its U.S. sales to grow another 3% next year.

Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales, also said Toyota expects to come close to its goal of selling 200,000 Tundra full-size pickups this year, even though that will require selling almost 23,000 this month.

Lentz, appointed in November, said Toyota expected the industry to sell about 16.1 million cars and light trucks this year in the United States, a decline of about 2.5% from last year's total of 16.5 million, because of the collapse of the housing market, high oil prices and the decision by Detroit automakers to limit sales to rental fleets.

"It feels like it's going to be around the same as this year," Lentz told reporters at an event in Washington. "It's a relatively challenging industry." Detroit Free Press

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12/13/07
Racing News

Unser starting drifting team
Robby Unser announced today that he will take over all aspects of Enjuku Racing as related to the motorsports division of the company. The new team will be called Robby Unser Racing and utilize the new Nissan 350Z platform that was unveiled at the SEMA show last month. Unser will field a two car team for drift competition in 2008. Equipment and team personnel from last years Enjuku Racing team will remain the same but will utilize Unser’s many years of racing experience to be more efficient for the 2008 season. Unser will also form a Drift racing school to fill the demand of the many young drivers looking at a professional career in the sport of drifting. The Drift school will also cater to the novice driver that just wants to experience drifting in a controlled environment.

As a member of one of the winningest families in motorsports history, Robby needs no introduction. INDY Racing League, Pikes Peak, 24Hrs of Daytona, 12Hrs of Sebring, and Nurburgring 24Hrs fill his resume. The young and diverse fan base for the sport of drifting may know drivers’ names such as Gushi, Hubinette, Millen or Foust but will be seeing a new name emerge as a fierce competitor. Robby stated, “The potential of the sport of drifting is huge and after just getting my feet wet last year, I wanted to take the next step and own my own team. Team Enjuku did a great job in 2007 and we have the opportunity to build on that success. As a team owner I want to bring in some of my Indy marketing partners and manufactures to take our team to the next level.

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12/13/07
a1gp

USA picks Summerton for Zhuhai


Jonathan Summerton

Jonathan Summerton will again race for A1 Team USA in Zhuhai, China this weekend, after scoring the team’s first point of the season last time out.

Summerton secured tenth in Malaysia’s Feature race, raising hope that the squad’s disappointing start to the season was at an end.

‘We want to score points in both the Sprint and the Feature races this weekend,’ Summerton said. ‘It's an achievable goal for our team. We've been in the points in 50 per cent of our races together and we want to increase it considerably in the remaining seven events this season.

‘We're going for two podiums at Zhuhai and, at the very least, we want to improve our finishes from Malaysia.’

Charlie Kimball will again act as the team’s rookie, as he has all season.

‘Jonathan and I have similar ideas on how to set up the car and I can help establish a baseline on the 'We the People' car to give the team and Jonathan a good start to the weekend,’ Kimball said.

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12/13/07
a1gp

Canada sticks with Wickens


Robert Wickens

A1 Team Canada is to keep faith with Robert Wickens in Zhuhai, China this weekend after his superb debut performance in Malaysia last month.

Wickens was voted Driver of the Day by A1GP.com readers after finishing third in his maiden A1GP race in Sepang - a track he had no experience of.

With Wickens still eligible to compete in the Friday morning rookie session, he will remain in the car throughout the weekend.

‘Zhuhai seems like it’s a pretty fast track,’ said Wickens.  ‘Obviously I don’t know too much about it having never raced there but it looks like it’s got some fast corners. In particular the last one leading onto the start-finish straight looks quick.

‘We’ve all got plenty of practice time over the weekend so the fact that none of us have raced there before won’t be a factor. You can pick up the characteristics of a track pretty quickly.

‘Hopefully we’ll get the results the team deserves.  Malaysia went well for us, we scored points and reached the podium so hopefully we can build on that and stay consistent.’

Wickens’ rival for the drive, James Hinchcliffe, will again accompany the team in China to help with race set-up.

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12/13/07
nascar

No easy answers for fixing Nationwide Series
The problem with NASCAR's Nationwide Series is it has become a playground for the rich and famous from the elite Sprint Cup Series.

The problem with that is there is no simple solution.

"The problem is the issues you might want to fix are at opposing angles to each other," said Allen Bestwick, a veteran racing broadcast journalist and a pit reporter for ABC and ESPN's NASCAR telecasts.

"The biggest problem with the series that NASCAR has to decide is what it wants it to be. Does it want it to be a developmental series for young drivers or does it want it to be an open series, America's No. 2 motorsports series where people test themselves against the best?"

NASCAR can't have it both ways, and yet it does. Unfortunately, the solutions are varied, everyone's got an opinion on how to fix things and everyone's got an opinion on everyone else's opinion.

Options being tossed around include limiting the points invading Sprint Cup drivers or Sprint Cup-backed teams can earn toward the Nationwide Series championship. But like nearly all the proposed solutions, this one is not unanimously supported or opposed.

"You want to find a way to make sure that young guys still have a chance to come into the series and develop and get decent sponsorship money and grow and get good equipment, but your championship has to be legitimate," Bestwick said.  More at Florida Today

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12/13/07
nascar

GM's Jim Covey wins engine designer award
After scoring 14 victories in 31 Nextel Cup events since its debut, the new Chevrolet R07 engine and its development team are already being recognized with a prestigious global award. Jim Covey was recently named the 2007 Race Engine Designer of the Year for his efforts in overseeing the development of the new Chevrolet R07 engine that debuted in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series this season.

Covey, the NASCAR engine technical manager for GM Racing, was in Oxford, England on November 29 to receive the award at the 2007 World Motorsport Symposium. Covey accepted the award on behalf of the GM Racing engineering team who utilized GM’s in-house technical resources to develop the first purpose-built NASCAR racing engine. Jim has been an extraordinary leader working alongside a very talented group of GM Racing engineers who have devoted years to building the Chevrolet R07 engine,” said Mark Kent, director of GM Racing. “Everyone at GM Racing is extremely proud of Jim and the GM Racing team for successfully beginning a new era for the GM small-block V-8 engine.”

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12/13/07
f1

Renault F1 Finding added horsepower despite freeze
Given the current engine freeze enshrined in the regulations, it is still possible to find a few extra horsepower by optimizing combustion and limiting friction as the Renault F1 team explains….

Fuels - a limited framework
The Formula 1 technical regulations are very strict. For several years now the fuel formula has been confined within a very precise framework by limiting the amount of hydrocarbons in the composition of the final product. Today, an F1 car has to run on lead-free petrol, which must meet draconian pollution restrictions. Furthermore, 5% bio fuel will be added to the mixture in 2008. There is still a tiny window for maneuver, though, and this is what interests the petrol companies.

The combustion process must be increasingly rapid to release the power. The petrol has to vaporize very quickly in a homogeneous fashion, and the flame spread has to be almost instantaneous. The aerodynamics of the combustion chamber, the flow from the injectors, the design of the plugs and the electronics all play their part. It is the same thing for the quality of the fuel, which is formulated on a bespoke basis for each engine.

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