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DATE News (chronologically)
12/19/06
cca
Two car program confirmed for Forsythe Two car program confirmed for ForsytheThe team manager for the Forsythe Atlantic team, John Brunner, explains the reasoning for dropping back from 4 cars to 2 cars in 2007.

"We were a four-car program last year. With us returning to the series, all the new excitement surrounding the series last year, when we decided to put a program in place to join with the new car, the Mazda motor, the $2 million prize, all of it really came into play. When we decided to jump back in, we wanted to go all in basically. We did come out as a four-car team.

"With the 2006 season over, we had a good season. We ran up front all year, which was our focus. Going into this year, though, we felt that it was important to focus more on the two cars, work with John and Robert. The series is very strong on its own. We weren't just positive at the beginning of last year. When we made our plans, Gerry wanted to be very active in that new program. And obviously the new series is stronger than ever, stronger than it's been in a long, long time. So this year we will focus on our two cars. The series is in fine shape otherwise."

12/19/06
track news
Belle Isle set for improvements Belle Isle set for improvementsUPDATE Concrete installation for the Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle, which is returning to the city after a five-year hiatus, will begin in April.

There will be 450,000 square feet of concrete poured for a new paddock area and another 130,000 square feet of concrete will be used for race-circuit improvements, according to Bud Denker, senior vice president of Penske Corporation.

Denker helped host a "get re-acquainted" party Thursday night at Hockeytown Cafi for about 250 volunteers who used to work the Detroit Grand Prix. The Grand Prix will return to Belle Isle for an American LeMans Series race Sept. 1 and the headlining IndyCar series race Sept. 2.

The race's return was spearheaded by local businessman Roger Penske and the event will be promoted by the Downtown Detroit Partnership so that all money earned will go to the city.

To enhance television and grandstand viewing, the track will be reconfigured slightly from a 2.4-mile circuit to a two-mile circuit with 14 turns.

Denker said there will be grandstand seating for 26,000 to 32,000, depending on ticket sales, and there will be 40 to 50 hospitality tents. More at Detroit News

12/18/06 More than 550,000 square feet of concrete will be poured for a paddock area and racetrack improvements on the Belle Isle facility that will host the IndyCar Series on Sept. 2, 2007.

Site improvements will begin in April, according to Bud Denker, senior vice president of Penske Corp. The return of open-wheel racing to the facility was spearheaded by Roger Penske and the event will be promoted by the Downtown Detroit Partnership. Revenue generated will be reinvested to continued improvements of the island park.

The Detroit Indy Grand Prix will implement a park-and-ride system similar to the one used during Super Bowl XL at Ford Field in Detroit this year. IndyCar.com

12/19/06
formula bmw
Formula BMW USA to support USGP Formula BMW USA to support USGPFormula BMW USA will return as a support series for the 2007 United States Grand Prix, the fourth consecutive year the development series will race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

IMS is one of seven venues on the 2007 schedule released Dec. 13 by series organizers, with two rounds contested at each venue. The two races during the USGP, June 15-17, will be the fifth and sixth races of the season for Formula BMW. Each race lasts 30 minutes.

Formula BMW USA will race at IMS one week after it supports the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal.

Formula BMW is a leading entry-level championship in worldwide formula racing, with series in 2006 contested in Germany, the United Kingdom, Asia and the United States. More than 80 promising drivers competed worldwide.

The FB02 race car is propelled by a 140-horsepower BMW engine, reaching speeds up to 140 mph.

Formula BMW USA joins the Indy Pro Series and the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin as support series for the 2007 United States Grand Prix.

12/19/06
irl
IndyCar Series receives Innovator in Sports Award IndyCar Series receives Innovator in Sports AwardThe IndyCar Series' groundbreaking use of 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol in 2007 was highlighted during the Inter-American Commission on Ethanol hosted by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Dec. 18 in Miami.

The IndyCar Series and its partner, the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC), received the Akerman Senterfitt Ethanol Innovator in Sports Award. The series is the first in motorsports to have its engines powered by the renewable, biodegradable and environmentally friendly alternative fuel. The 2007 season opens in prime time March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"The IndyCar Series' choice of 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol ... sends a message to consumers that performance and environmental responsibility go hand in hand when choosing ethanol-enriched fuel at the pump," said Tom Slunecka, executive director of EPIC.

Bush will co-chair the commission, whose mission is to promote ethanol use, after leaving office Jan. 2. He called for the United States to boost ethanol use to 15 billion gallons by 2015, about double the requirements set forth in the 2005 Energy Policy Act signed by President George W. Bush.

The United States has a growing corn-based ethanol program that produced more than 4 billion gallons in 2005.

12/19/06
ips
Brian Stewart Racing signs Brad Jaeger Brian Stewart Racing signs Brad JaegerCincinnati native Brad Jaeger will drive for Brian Stewart Racing in the Indy Pro Series in 2007 as the team attempts to successfully defend back-to-back entrant championships.

The 21-year-old, who won the Pacific Formula 2000 Championship in 2004, impressed during two tests with the team.

"We're really looking forward to working with Brad," team owner Brian Stewart said. "He was a front-runner in Star Mazda. Now it's our job to take him as a rookie and make him into a race winner."

No team molds race winners like Stewart's. The team won two Indy Pro Series championships and claimed four race victories with Wade Cunningham the past two seasons. The team was legendary in Indy Lights in the 1980s and '90s, winning 31 races and two titles with drivers such as Paul Tracy, Cristiano da Matta, Bryan Herta and Jaques Lazier. zzzz

"I'm really excited to get on board with Brian Stewart Racing," said Jaeger, who expects to graduate from Vanderbilt University with a degree in mechanical engineering in May. "The program they have is exactly what I need. They've proven themselves as a team that can help a driver progress, get them to their prime - that's what I need."

Jaeger's racing roots developed in the Cincinnati area, including shifter kart events at a Camden, Ohio, track owned by the family of three-time Indy Pro Series race winner Travis Gregg. After competing in a handful of Sports Car Club of America regional events in 2002 "just for fun," he began competitively racing cars in 2003, finishing second in the Sport 2000 National Championship.

This past season, Jaeger made seven starts in the Star Mazda Championship, winning the pole at the season's first race and earning a 10th-place finish at Milwaukee. Jaeger missed the middle of the season after suffering injuries in a multi-car pileup at Montreal. He returned for the season's final two races.

"Getting back for the last two races was a good step back," Jaeger said. "Now, I'm looking forward to competing in the Indy Pro Series. The cars are amazing. My first time on an oval was in a test with Brian Stewart Racing at Nashville Superspeedway last May. That test couldn't have gone better. The car wasn't quite set up right, but I was still only two-tenths of a second off of Wade Cunningham's times. I walked away with a feeling that the Indy Pro Series is where I wanted to be."

Jaeger will participate in a two-day Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb. 20-22 before opening the 16-race season at the 1.5-mile oval on March 24.

12/19/06
irl
Bachelor pool reduced Bachelor pool reducedEarlier this month, Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon proposed to Emma Davies in a New Zealand airport. Now Helio Castroneves of Team Penske is engaged to longtime girlfriend Aliette Vasquez.

Dixon, the 2003 IndyCar Series champion, played it cool and planned it perfectly with the help of his parents, Ron and Glenys. As he and Davies, a former Commonwealth Games middle-distance competitor, were exiting baggage claim, they were greeted by a large banner that essentially popped the question. Dixon followed by presenting her a ring. Outside, champagne corks popped to toast the couple.

"It had to be special for my special girl," Dixon said.

Obviously, Davies was flabbergasted.

"It blew me away; I didn't expect it at all," said Davies, of Wales. zzzz

Castroneves played it by the book. He sought her father's blessing before springing the question over the Thanksgiving holiday. Blending Brazilian and American cultures, Castroneves selected an engagement ring of a band of diamonds (traditional Brazilian engagement rings are simple wedding bands).

"I'm so happy, I just can't put it into words," said Castroneves, 31, who added a November 2007 wedding is planned. "Ali has been a special part of my life for so long, and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with her. She's been so supportive of me on the track, and I am just so excited to start our new life together." IRL

12/19/06
Miscellaneous
Ferrari gets nose job Ferrari gets nose jobIt's a heart-breaking sight for car enthusiasts. This near-new Ferrari received an unwanted nose job when it ploughed into a traffic light in South Perth, Australia on Sunday.

Witnesses said the driver revved the Italian stallion at the lights next to the Windsor Hotel, at the intersection of Mends Street and Mill Point Rd, dropped the clutch and burned off around the corner – but humiliatingly lost control and slammed into the pole around 7pm.

Windsor manager Brian Hopley said the man appeared to be trying to impress bystanders in front of the packed hotel.

“He was waving at everyone in his new Ferrari, revving his engine up and making a big scene and he took off with a screech of rubber and went straight into the traffic light pole,” he said.

12/19/06
Industry News
Morgan Stanley upgrades Ford Morgan Stanley upgrades FordMorgan Stanley analyst Jonathan Steinmetz upgraded Ford Motor Co.’s shares to “overweight” from “equal weight,” Bloomberg News reported today.  Steinmetz cited the automaker’s liquidity, signs of a greater urgency to change the company and a “path” to sustainable cash flow from automotive operations, Bloomberg said.
12/19/06
f1
Clay Regazzoni killed Clay Regazzoni killedUPDATE Clay Regazzoni's funeral will take place on Thursday at the Lugano basilica in Switzerland, before a private burial in the small village of Porza.

12/15/06 Former Grand Prix driver Clay Regazzoni was killed in a car crash in Italy today. He was 67 years old.  The Swiss driver is reported to have collided head on with a truck on the A1 Motorway near Parma, while driving a Chrysler Voyager.  Regazzoni won five races during a career that spanned from the 1970 Dutch Grand Prix to the 1980 United States West Grand Prix in Long Beach, where he suffered spinal injuries in a big accident.
12/19/06
TV News
 A1GP
Chinese A1GP race to be televised Chinese A1GP race to be televisedReminder:  The A1GP race held in Beijing, China on November 12, 2006 will be televised on Wednesday, December 20, 4:00 pm-6:00 pm ET on SPEED.   Beijing's Jingkai street circuit broke new ground for A1GP and China in November as it marked the first time an international motorsport event had been held in the Chinese capital - the city set to host the Olympic Games in 2008.
12/19/06
cca
Genoa Racing To Field 2-Car Champ Car Atlantic Team Genoa Racing To Field 2-Car Champ Car Atlantic TeamINDIANAPOLIS – Bringing championship-winning experience and a wealth of racing knowledge, Genoa Racing today announced that it will field a two-car effort in the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

The announcement serves as a homecoming for the Genoa team, owned by Angelo Ferro, as the squad returns to the Atlantic Championship after competing in the series in the early 90s. Former Atlantic driver and longtime successful open-wheel racing engineer Thomas Knapp will serve as team manager and lead engineer on the reconfigured Genoa squad, while former Champ Car champion and Atlantic standout, as well as current Champ Car PKV Racing co-owner, Jimmy Vasser will be a team consultant.

Ferro, Knapp, and Vasser teamed together at Genoa Racing when Vasser first established himself as a future star, producing six wins and eight poles while finishing second in the 1991 Atlantic Championship. After years of friendship forged while competing together at the race track, the trio found themselves reliving old times and discussing racing in November at Ferro’s 50th anniversary party. There the idea was born to reform Genoa Racing and help develop the next generation of racing talent.

“We’re all very excited to be returning to the Atlantic series in 2007,” said Ferro. “Genoa Racing is in a position to offer two subsidized seats to select, championship-caliber drivers next season, and it’s the team’s intention to challenge for the Atlantic Championship.”  zzzz

“My racing career certainly wouldn’t have turned out the way it did without people like Angelo Ferro, and the opportunities like the one I got at Genoa Racing,” said Vasser. “I’m honored to help the team in whatever way they need as they return to Atlantics and I’m happy to try and help them develop young drivers much like they helped me when I was coming up.”

In addition to Knapp and Vasser, the team has assembled a very experienced technical staff consisting of engineer Dan Toborg, mechanics Simon Morley, Kevin Edgley, Geoff Bushor and Jeff Stevens, along with technician Chris Oldham. Each member of the team brings 15-20 years of racing experience, attained at the highest levels of international motorsport, from Atlantic to Champ Car and Formula One competition.

“Genoa Racing will give our drivers all the tools required for them to run at the front of each and every race,” said Knapp, who managed the 1999 Indy Racing League championship Team Menard program and engineered the pole-winning car at the 2000 Indianapolis 500. “The personnel that the team has assembled brings an unprecedented level of motor racing experience to this effort.”

Operating out of the team’s facility in Zionsville, Indiana – just outside of Indianapolis – Genoa Racing is on the fast track to finalize its 2007 program. The team expects to have a contracted driver lineup in place when its cars hit the track for the first Atlantic series open test session in Sebring, Florida January 27-28, 2007.

“We’re currently looking for the right driver combination. Ideally, we’d like to find one driver with Atlantic racing experience and potentially one series rookie,” added Knapp. “We’re looking for moldable young drivers with a good head on their shoulders. You love raw speed but we are looking for well-rounded individuals who realize they’ve got to do a lot of things well, in and out of the car, in order to succeed.”

For more information and for drivers interested in the Genoa racing program, contact Thomas Knapp at (317) 873-8995 or e-mail him at tkmotorsport@comcast.net or raceshop@theconnorgrp.com.

12/19/06
f1
Participants Hail Second Motor Sport Business Forum Participants Hail Second Motor Sport Business Forum
12/19/06
Track News
Snetterton to be lengthened to 3.3 miles Snetterton to be lengthened to 3.3 milesThe Snetterton circuit in England will get a much-needed facelift, with reworking of two of the track’s most famous corners starting at the end of next season.

The chicane at Russell will be removed and replaced by a hairpin corner which will rejoin the Senna start/finish straight after a new, banked, left-hand turn. Meanwhile, Sear corner will be extended to be wider than its current profile, coming back in a sharp bend to rejoin Revett Straight.

Another extension will be made to the track before Sear, bringing the track up to International length and also creating two circuits which can be used simultaneously - the inner track will be ideal for shakedown tests.

While work on the track will start at the end of 2006, the Snetterton Business Park will be built over a period of the next five years (Details).

  • Circuit extensions to increase track length to approximately 3.3 miles - long enough to hold international race meetings
  • Internal track which can be used at the same time as the main circuit - ideal for shakedown tests
  • Russell chicane to become a challenging hairpin leading into a left-hand banked curve
  • Banking on new final turn to increase approach speed into Riches, creating a new overtaking opportunity
  • New track extension will make Tyrrell's restaurant a place to watch the action
12/19/06
f1
Renault’s facts, figures and milestones for 2006 Renault’s facts, figures and milestones for 2006The Renault Formula One team, who took their second successive double crown in the 2006 championship season, have released their facts figures and milestones from the past year….

2: The number of 1-2 finishes in Renault’s Formula 1 history. The first came in the 1982 French Grand Prix on 25/07/82 when René Arnoux beat Alain Prost. The second was on 19/03/06 when Giancarlo Fisichella led home Fernando Alonso in the 2006 Malaysian Grand Prix.

2 x 2: The Renault F1 Team scored the “double double” in 2006, and is now part of a very select club. Winning two consecutive double championships with the same driver has only been achieved by three other pairings in F1 history: Jack Brabham and Cooper; Ayrton Senna and McLaren; Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. Renault and Alonso are now among the greats.

3: Renault F1 Team scored 3 100% Renault front-rows during the 2006 season (Spain, Canada, China). In total, Renault cars have locked out the front row on 21 occasions since 1977.

4: The Renault F1 Team failed to finish only 4 times in 2006, from 36 starts, which represents a finishing percentage of 89%. In 2005, the team failed to finish 8 times, equivalent to 79%. The 10 percentage point rise in reliability was crucial to the team’s championship challenge. zzzz

8: Since 1977, the Renault Sport factory at Viry-Châtillon has won 8 constructors’ world titles. In those three decades, only Ferrari has done better, with a total of 10 titles. Renault sits ahead of famous names such as Honda (6), Cosworth (3) and Mercedes (1).

11: A Renault F1 R26 started from the front row on 11 occasions in 2006 – compared to 16 front row starts for championship rivals Ferrari. Since 1977, Renault cars have started from the front row a total of 87 times.

15: That’s the number of wins Fernando Alonso has scored in his four seasons with the Renault F1 Team. By coincidence, the Spaniard has also scored 15 pole positions. Coupled with a total of 37 podium finishes, that makes him the most successful Renault driver in F1 history.

19: The team scored 19 podium finishes in 18 Grands Prix in 2006. In 2005, Renault scored 18 podiums in 19 races… Another example of how the team raised its game for 2006.

20: The Renault F1 Team used a total of twenty engines during race weekends in 2006 (10 for each driver). Among these 20 engines, four were A spec units, 7 were B-spec, 4 were C-spec, 4 D-spec and a single E-spec engine for Giancarlo Fisichella in Brazil. Both drivers changed one engine prior to completing its lifecycle (FIS after Bahrain, ALO after Italy).

50: Fernando Alonso’s wet-weather pole position in China was the 50th pole for a Renault car in Formula 1.

97: As a percentage, that’s the number of race laps Fernando Alonso completed in 2006 compared to the maximum total. In real terms, that means he completed 1108 of 1137 laps possible – an incredible statistic. And once again, it exceeds the figure from 2005, when he completed 1074 of a possible 1180 laps – equivalent to 91%.

100: 2006 was a year of important centenaries. First of all in Barcelona, where Fernando Alonso’s win at his home race marked the 100th win for the Renault-Elf partnership. Then in Canada, where Fernando took Michelin’s 100th F1 victory – just one day before the 100th anniversary of the first ever Renault-Michelin Grand Prix victory, on 26 June 1906 in Le Mans.

150: When Fernando Alonso swept to pole position in Spain, he took the 150th pole position for a Renault engine in Formula 1. The series began at the 1979 South African Grand Prix, when Jean-Pierre Jabouille put the Renault Turbo P1 at Kyalami.

200: The 2006 British Grand Prix marked Renault’s 200th Grand Prix start as a chassis manufacturer. Fernando Alonso sealed the double century with a win, and it carried added significance because the French manufacturer’s first start came… at Silverstone in 1977. Michelin also started its 200th GP in 2006, at Melbourne – and Fernando won that race too!

299: Fernando Alonso’s 37th and final podium as a Renault driver, in Brazil, was number 299 for a Renault engine in F1… Here’s hoping the triple century comes in Melbourne 2007!

520: Renault cars led 520 laps during the 2006 season – exactly the same number as Ferrari! Closest challenger was McLaren, who led 60 laps, with Honda the only other team in double figures on 25. In comparison, Renault led 452 laps in 2005, while second-placed McLaren led 592!

47,167: That’s the total testing kilometers the Renault F1 Team completed during the 2006 calendar year, from January to the final race in Brazil. In 2007, the voluntary maximum limit will be 30,000 km – a reduction of over 50%... Renault

12/19/06
f1
Q and A with Heikki Kovalainen Q and A with Heikki Kovalainen
Q. Heikki, you have been a key member of the world championship winning team - and still to make your Grand Prix debut. How does it feel?

Heikki Kovalainen: I am really happy for the team and for Fernando, they have done a fantastic job. But personally, I don't want to take too much credit for the achievement. For me, the target was to do the laps, to prepare the cars well for the race, to select good tires – and I think we managed to do that.

On a personal level, I am happy with the job I did, and I improved my driving through the year. In terms of the championship, though, I am pleased for my teammates and to see their hard work rewarded, more than for myself.

Q. You had the unique opportunity to watch the championship campaign unfolding from the inside. What did it teach you?

HK: I learned a lot, and especially in the final three Grands Prix when I stayed for the race. I was able to listen to the radio, to be in all the debriefs, and see how the team and the drivers managed the situation. That was a really good experience, and it was impressive to see how the team reacted to the circumstances and how they bounced back in between China and Japan.

It has been important to be with the team in those times, because I hope to be in a similar situation fighting for the title in the near future. And I now have some reference points about how to handle all the different pressures. zzzz

Q. Your real job happened away from the cameras, on the test track, developing the R26. What were the strengths of the car?

HK: From the start, the R26 was easy to drive and set-up – you could see that at the race weekends. Sometimes, if the drivers were not happy on Friday, the engineers would make a lot of overnight changes – and get back on track very quickly.

In terms of the development, we improved every area – the aero was very strong and the grip too. The engine improved all year with big steps, and they had good pace without compromising the reliability.

And last but not least, Michelin did a great job. They fought back in the middle of the year when they seemed to have lost the advantage, and regained their competitiveness, especially in the race. That hard work and effort was a big strength for us towards the end of the year.

Q. You mentioned that the R26 underwent extensive development. What about Heikki Kovalainen?

HK: I am very happy with what I have done, what I learned and how I improved. This was an important year for me that was full of opportunities to be prepared for the future.

I did a lot of miles, faced a lot of different situations – and had a lot of different jobs to do. So it was a very good learning year, and I approached it knowing that the next step for me was to go racing. I have achieved it, so now I need to make the best possible preparations for Melbourne, to be immediately competitive when we arrive.

Q. The outside world will see you stepping into the shoes of the sport's youngest ever double world champion. That must be extra pressure for you...?

HK: For me, it is not extra pressure – it is a great opportunity to be competitive in my first year, which very few drivers ever get. The team will be strong, and the car will be quick. I need to stay calm and have a cool head.

The first races will not be easy and my philosophy will be to prepare for the worst. Maybe there will be some bad races, but I will focus on things one step at a time, finishing the first race, then the second and so on. There is always pressure, wherever you race. But I have never felt it has affected my driving, and I don't think it will next year either.

Q. Finally, are you already excited by the thought of Melbourne?

HK: I have just seen the 2007 car in the wind tunnel, and it looks fantastic – very aggressive. I am really looking forward to driving it. Renault

12/19/06
nascar
Bodine Bobsled Challenge drivers announced Bodine Bobsled Challenge drivers announcedNASCAR great Geoff Bodine (left), pictured here with 2002 Olympic bronze medalist Brian Shimer, attended a press conference and meet-and-greet event on Saturday (Dec. 16) at the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid, N.Y. to promote the annual Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge. This year’s event will take place Jan. 4-6 on the same track that saw the best bobsledders in the world compete over the weekend. Photo by Charlie Booker

Bodine will be one of the participating race car drivers who will tackle the final 17 curves of this demanding track. Other drivers include:

Boris Said
Kevin Lepage
Todd Bodine
Brett Bodine
Randy LaJoie
Steve Park
Dick Trickle
Phil Parsons
Mike Stefanik
Mike Greenwell
Brendan Goughan
Tommy Johnson Jr.
Melanie Troxel

For more information on the Lake Placid event, please log on to www.bodinebobsled.com.

12/19/06
nascar
Toyota takes first step toward setting up shop in N.C. Toyota takes first step toward setting up shop in N.C.Toyota Racing Development officials met with Rowan County commissioners Monday night about the potential purchase of an 89-acre parcel of land near Salisbury, N.C., about 43 miles north of Charlotte.  TRD president Jim Aust said Toyota plans to build an engineering facility to support its NASCAR teams.
12/19/06
f1
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
F1 racers in the frame for Stoddart's Minardi
FIA signs ex-F1 team boss Purnell
F1 exit is '90% relief' - Schumacher
Schu misses German sports title
Dennis defends decision to snub de la Rosa
Title in 2007 to be 'difficult' - Renault
12/19/06
nascar
Haas CNC boots Ingle Haas CNC boots IngleHaas CNC Racing no longer employs Bill Ingle.  Robert “Bootie” Barker is the new crew chief for the #70 Nextel Cup entry.  Derick Jennings is now the car chief under Barker. 
12/19/06
nascar
NASCAR Busch Series Awards air on TNT NASCAR Busch Series Awards air on TNTUPDATE #2 Reminder: The 2006 NASCAR Busch Series Awards Show will air Wednesday, December 20 (very late Tuesday night), 12:00 am-1:00 am ET on TNT.

12/14/06 Correction, the show will air 12 midnight on December 20th, i.e. very late night on the 19th.

12/13/06 The 2006 NASCAR on TNT season officially wraps up when the Busch Series Awards Ceremony airs on TNT on Tues., December 19 at 12 a.m. ET/PT.  TNT’s Marty Snider will be joined by Lindsay Czarniak to host the event.
12/18/06
f1
Bridgestone happy with tire progress Bridgestone happy with tire progressBridgestone, the exclusive tire supplier for F1 next year, have declared themselves happy with the progress they have made as the 2006 season officially drew to a close at Jerez with a number of teams continuing to get to grips with their new rubber ahead of 2007.

"Our initial impressions of the first three winter tests are very positive. These tires use a new construction and new compounds so all the teams have had to start from the beginning," he said.

"They have had to consider how to exploit the optimum operating window of the tire by adjusting their car set-ups and looking at factors such as camber, toe, weight distribution and tire pressures.

"Initially some teams experienced some rear tire degradation but as the weeks progressed and as the Jerez circuit improved in grip levels over these past two weeks, we saw that the teams improved their car balance and they were able to set some good, consistent lap times.

"Of course, track and ambient temperatures are not that high during winter testing in Europe so our next step is to corroborate these results. Overall, we are very pleased that we have been able to provide a consistent tire whose wide operating window has enabled all the teams to use it."

12/18/06
nascar
Charlotte approves NASCAR office tower Charlotte approves NASCAR office towerUPDATE To right is an artists rendering of the office tower.

12/13/06 Charlotte City Council has cleared the way for construction of a 19-story office tower for NASCAR on the planned NASCAR Hall of Fame site, according to today's Charlotte Observer.  The members "approved a set of agreements" that clear the way for the construction, according to the story. The council unanimously approved NASCAR's 99-year lease on the site and approved other agreements with NASCAR, developer Lauth Property Group of Charlotte and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, which would operate a parking deck there. Scenedaily.com
12/18/06
ga
Southard Motorsports to Run Lexus Riley Southard Motorsports to Run Lexus RileySouthard Motorsports announced today plans to campaign a Lexus-powered Riley in the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve. The No. 3 Southard Motorsports entry will be driven by veteran drivers Shane Lewis and Randy Ruhlman and will carry sponsorship from PLP-Preformed Line Products of Mayfield Village, Ohio.

"It's always a tough decision to make a major change to anything on the race car, especially something as major as the engine." says team owner Steve Southard. "We believe the Lexus engine package has developed into one of the most competitive and reliable packages for the Daytona Prototype class. We also feel that the technical support Lexus is able to provide our team will be especially important with the mandated Bosch ECUs for next year. Last year, we had good success on track and with the change to Lexus we're planning on building on that success to accomplish even more in 2007." zzzz

Shane Lewis, who is starting his fourth year as lead driver of the team and was a part of Southard Motorsports' two podium finishes last year, said, "I'm really looking forward to working with TRD this year. Everyone knows that the Lexus engine has amazing performance, but for me it's about the support and service. The staff at TRD are some of the best in the business. I can't wait to share the podium with them!"

Randy Ruhlman, who competed last year in a Pontiac-powered Riley, added, "As a driver and engineer, I've noticed that when it comes to response and competiveness, with Lexus it's not just about the engines--it's an attitude they bring with them to the entire program. I'm excited by what Lexus has to offer and the technical expertise of TRD will be invaluable."

Earning its first-ever Manufacturer's Championship in 2006, Lexus registered seven victories on the way to capturing the Daytona Prototype crown and scored it's first-ever triumph in the prestigious 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Over the past three seasons and forty Rolex Series events, Lexus-powered entries have taken twenty-one pole positions and won fifteen races

Preformed Line Products (PLP) is an international manufacturer and supplier of hardware and support systems for the communications and energy industries. Products include COYOTE® Fiber Optics and VORTEX® Vibration Dampers used in the telecommunications, cable and energy industries. Manufacturing facilities are located worldwide in the USA, Canada, China, Brazil, Mexico, England, Spain, South Africa, Australia and Thailand.

12/18/06
track news
cc
Bourdais' Long Beach win nominated Bourdais' Long Beach win nominatedLOS ANGELES -- Sebastien Bourdais' landmark win at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has been nominated for the Los Angeles Sports Council's 2006 "Greatest Moment in Sports" in the motorsports category. Bourdais' 2006 season-opening win served as a springboard to the Frenchman's third consecutive Champ Car championship, equaling the series' all-time mark set by Ted Horn (1946-48). Photo by Doug Gifford

Winners in each of 18 categories will be voted on by sports fans throughout Southern California through January 8 at www.lasports.org. The awards are co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Sports Council and FSN Prime Ticket, and include such categories as Dodgers and Angels baseball, Lakers and Clippers basketball, tennis, golf and horse racing, among others.

The award winners will be announced at a gala on Sun., Jan. 21 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, which will be telecast live by FSN PRIME TICKET.

An additional four honors - Sportsman, Sportswoman, Executive and Overall Great Moment - will be chosen by the  L.A. Sports Awards media panel and announced at the gala. 

Last year, Katherine Legge's victory in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Series race during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend -- the first-ever win by a woman in a major, open-wheel race in North America -- was named the "Greatest Motorsports Moment" of 2005.

The L.A. Sports Awards event is an annual fundraiser for the non-profit L.A. Sports Council, which promotes economic development through sports in Southern California.

12/18/06
track news
Infineon gains Toyota sponsorship Infineon gains Toyota sponsorshipUPDATE AutoRacing1.com has learned that Toyota paid a lot more for the Infineon race sponsorship than Dodge and hence got the nod from speedway management.  Can't say we blame them.  It's clear that Toyota will use their deep pockets to gain whatever it wants in the NASCAR world, and Dodge, Chevy and Ford are going to have to spend more money to beat them.

12/18/06 SONOMA, Calif. –  Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A. and the Northern California Toyota Dealers have reached a multi-year agreement with Infineon Raceway to serve as co-title of the annual NASCAR event in the Sonoma Valley, beginning in 2007.

The Toyota/Save Mart 350 [Was Dodge/Save Mart 300] NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series weekend will take place, June 22-24, at Infineon Raceway, which is one of just two road courses on the 2007 NASCAR schedule. The partnership expands Toyota’s NASCAR involvement — the manufacturer will have three teams with seven cars utilizing the Toyota Camry in NEXTEL Cup competition next season and four cars in the Busch Series, as well as defending the manufacturer’s championship in the Craftsman Truck Series.

This marks Toyota’s first title sponsorship of a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event. In addition to entitlement of the 19th annual NASCAR event at the Sonoma Valley facility, Toyota will also become the “Official Vehicle of Infineon Raceway.” zzzz

"Toyota is looking forward to entering the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2007 and to sponsoring the Toyota/Save Mart 350,” said Greg Gollands, National NASCAR Marketing Manager for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. “This partnership between the Northern California Toyota dealers and Infineon Raceway will provide the local dealers with an opportunity to enhance relationships with local race fans and customers alike, as well as to work together with the track on special events. We are looking forward to next season and to another exciting NASCAR race in Northern California."

"We are thrilled to partner with a company as committed to motor sports as Toyota and the Northern California Toyota Dealers,” said Frank Gullum, Vice President of Sales at Infineon Raceway.  “Toyota will be a true asset in continuing Infineon Raceway’s standing as a world-class motor-racing facility."

Some of the elements in the four-year partnership include: 

· Major marketing and promotional component in advance of the Toyota/Save Mart 350.
· Toyota will host a comprehensive, interactive display for race fans during the June event.
· Promotional rights to use the raceway name and logo.

“Infineon Raceway is one of the premier motor-sports venues on the West Coast and our new partnership will enable us to showcase the all-new 2007 ‘Best In Class’ full-size Toyota Tundra pickup and the entire lineup of Toyota vehicles,” said Henry Hansel, president of the Northern California Toyota Dealer Advertising Association.

Toyota will also serve as title sponsor of the raceway’s annual NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series preview show on Fox Sports Net Bay Area. The 30-minute special, which will air a minimum of six times during the month of June, has been nominated for a sports Emmy award in past years.

"Toyota will be an outstanding partner for Infineon Raceway. They build terrific cars and trucks, they have an aggressive, promotion-minded dealer group and they are committed to a strong motor-sports program,” said Steve Page, President and General Manager at Infineon Raceway. “We are excited about this partnership and the association with the Toyota brand."

12/18/06
cc
Aussie invasion of Champ Car continues Aussie invasion of Champ Car continuesThe Aussie invasion of the Champ Car World Series continued today when well-known Australian businessman Paul Stoddart announced be had purchased a controlling interest in the Indianapolis-based CTE Racing – HVM Champ Car team.

To be known as Minardi Team USA, the new-look operation has confirmed a minimum of two cars and a maximum of four for the 2007 season.

While drivers have not been confirmed at this stage, names such as Katherine Legge, former Minardi drivers Jos Verstappen and Robert Doornbos and current team drivers Nelson Philippe and Dan Clarke have been mentioned as possible candidates.

Stoddart is the latest Australian to become involved in the North-American open wheel series which enjoys its most successful event of the year at the Lexmark Indy 300 on Queensland’s Gold Coast each October. zzzz

Other prominent Australians involved in the championship include series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven, Team Australia co-owner Craig Gore and current drivers Will Power and Ryan Briscoe.

Stoddart comes to the Champ Car World Series after five seasons as the owner of the Minardi Formula 1 team, which enjoyed a 21-year F1 run from 1985-2005.

Stoddart will run the team, along with current CTE Racing – HVM owner Keith Wiggins, from the team’s existing headquarters on Indianapolis’ fabled Gasoline Alley.

Stoddart, who made the majority of his fortune in the aviation industry, got a first-hand look at the Champ Car World Series when he was a guest at the Lexmark Indy 300 at Surfers Paradise in October.

“After taking a year off from motor racing following the sale of Minardi, we’ve had a chance to consider our options and examine how we might want to be involved with the sport in the future,” says Stoddart.

“After a lot of deliberation, we’ve come to the conclusion that Champ Car, with its blend of highly competitive, cost-effective racing and relatively level ‘playing field’, offers easily the best way forward.”

Wiggins and Stoddart both have a reputation of “punching above their weight”.

“This is an exciting progression for our company, which will allow us to take it to the next level” added Wiggins.

“It puts together all the elements we have established at HVM, continues the progress with the CTE program and adds the resources and talent that Minardi brings. The chemistry between Paul and I is extremely good and I am looking forward to the stable long-term future.”

The newly-christened Minardi Team USA is coming off of a resurgent campaign in 2006 in which Philippe finished fourth in the series points, a high-water mark for the team even dating back to its years as Bettenhausen Racing.

Ironically, the team’s best performance came at the Lexmark Indy 300 when Philippe took his maiden Champ Car win.

The announcement comes two days before the team, along with the rest of the Champ Car World Series, will take delivery of their first Panoz DP01 Champ Cars.

“The addition of an owner with a proven racing background like Paul Stoddart only strengthens the series,” said Champ Car President Steve Johnson.

“Combining his experience and resources with a team that showed last year that it can win races, provides even more reason to be excited about Champ Car’s future.”

Information concerning the formation of Minardi Team USA, including drivers and sponsors, will be released in the coming weeks as the team prepares for the first open test of the 2007 season, which takes place on January 23-25 in Sebring, Florida.

12/18/06
IndustryNews
Ford to sell two plants Ford to sell two plantsFord Motor Co. says it has entered into agreements with two companies to sell auto parts plants it owns in Michigan and Mexico.

Flex-N-Gate Corp. agreed to buy an operation in Milan, about 35 miles southwest of Detroit, that produces automotive grills and bumpers and employs about 700 people. They include salaried employees leased from Visteon Corp. and United Auto Workers union hourly employees leased from Ford, the automaker said today.

Flex-N-Gate is a privately held company based in Urbana, Ill., with manufacturing operations in several countries.

The plants were once a part of Visteon, Ford’s parts wing that was spun off into a separate company in 2000. But Ford took some plants back in October 2005 and formed Automotive Components Holdings LLC with the intent of closing or selling them.
12/18/06
Racing News
PitFit announces scholarship winners PitFit announces scholarship winnersIndianapolis, IN – PitFit Training (PitFit) today announced winners of the PitFit Training Driver Memorial Scholarship. The winners are Peter Minnig, Karting; Jeff Oleen, Formula Car; Kerstin Smutney; Formula Cars; Miranda Throckmorton, USAC; Shannon McIntosh, USAC; and Joel Miller, Karting/USAC. Stars of Karting Champions Brett Smrz, who won the West and East Coast Divisions, and Carlos Munoz, National Champion, are also recipients of the Scholarship award.  

"Every year we seek out the best candidates, it gets more difficult,” noted PitFit President, Jim Leo on the quality of scholarship applicants. “While I am always pleased with those who win, it is never pleasant to eliminate interested applicants. Without a doubt, this was the highest-scoring group we have ever had. These winners exhibit the high levels of academics, community service and driving skill as the drivers the award is dedicated to."
12/18/06
alms
Atherton: LMP1 class not dead Atherton: LMP1 class not deadScott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series, offered this statement following today's announcement regarding Dyson Racing's plans for the 2007 season with Porsche and two of its RS Spyders:

"This is a tremendous development for Dyson Racing, Porsche and the American Le Mans Series. As everyone is aware, Porsche's customer program in GT2 is second-to-none, and from the beginning we received commitments from Porsche that its LMP2 program would be a replica: a world-class manufacturer providing top-notch customer service with a very competitive race car. The groundwork was laid in 2006 and with this announcement we are seeing the leading edge of fulfillment in this program."

"At the same time, we are aware of the potential effect this could have on our LMP1 class. While Audi has not finalized its plans for 2007, we fully expect the diesel-powered R10 TDIs to be actively competing in the American Le Mans Series. We are proud and pleased to see the commitment of Michael Lewis and everyone at Autocon Motorsports for their two-car LMP1 effort for next season. In addition there also has been significant interest from Creation Autosportif following its tremendous showing at Road Atlanta and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and the same can be said about Zytek and its potential participation next year. Needless to say we believe the content and quality of our premier class will continue to be a focal point and featured element of the American Le Mans Series."

12/18/06
cc
Stoddart joins Champ Car, HVM becomes Minardi team Stoddart joins Champ Car, HVM becomes Minardi teamUPDATE Here is a transcript of today's Minardi Team USA announcement with the key quotes in bold text.

12/18/06 INDIANAPOLIS  – The lights were turned up even higher on what is already a bright future for the Champ Car World Series Monday when Paul Stoddart announced that he had purchased a controlling interest in the Indianapolis-based CTE Racing – HVM Champ Car team.

Stoddart comes to the U.S.-based Champ Car World Series after five seasons as the owner of the Minardi Formula 1 team, which enjoyed a 21-year F1 run from 1985-2005. The Australian-born Stoddart will run a multi-car Champ Car team, along with current CTE Racing – HVM owner Keith Wiggins, from the team’s existing headquarters on Indianapolis’ fabled Gasoline Alley.

“After taking a year off from motor racing following the sale of Minardi, we’ve had a chance to consider our options and examine how we might want to be involved with the sport in the future,” says Stoddart.  “After a lot of deliberation, we’ve come to the conclusion that Champ Car, with its blend of highly competitive, cost-effective racing and relatively level ‘playing field’, offers easily the best way forward.” zzzz

“This is an exciting progression for our company, which will allow us to take it to the next level” added Wiggins. “It puts together all the elements we have established at HVM, continues the progress with the CTE program and adds the resources and talent that Minardi brings. The chemistry between Paul and I is extremely good and I am looking forward to the stable long-term future.”

The newly-christened Minardi Team USA is coming off of a resurgent campaign in 2006 in which Nelson Philippe finish third in the series points, a high-water mark for the team even dating back to its years as Bettenhausen Racing. The announcement comes two days before the team, along with the rest of the Champ Car World Series, will take delivery of their first Panoz DP01 Champ Cars.

“The addition of an owner with a proven racing background like Paul Stoddart only strengthens the series,” said Champ Car President Steve Johnson. “Combining his experience and resources with a team that showed last year that it can win races, provides even more reason to be excited about Champ Car’s future.”

Information concerning the formation of Minardi Team USA, including drivers and sponsors, will be released in the coming weeks as the team prepares for the first open test of the 2007 season, which takes place January 23-25 in Sebring, Florida. Champ Car

12/18/06
nascar
Busch Beer to drop NASCAR involvement Busch Beer to drop NASCAR involvementAnheuser-Busch and NASCAR officials confirmed that the Busch brand’s title sponsorship of the NASCAR Busch Series will end after the ‘07 season. NASCAR will actively seek a replacement for the Busch title sponsorship, said to command as much as $30M per year.

Rather than spend so much money in NASCAR A-B, which also sponsors the No. 8 Earnhardt car with the Budweiser brand, will branch out into other sports. A-B VP/Global Media & Sports Marketing Tony Ponturo said, “Busch’s withdrawal will allow the brand to spread out its marketing dollars, as opposed to investing nearly all of it into NASCAR. ... We’re starting to dilute ourselves with Bud and Busch. In this day and age of competition, the last thing you want is to dilute your own effort”

12/18/06
Industry News
Chevrolet Releases Sneak Peek of 2008 Malibu Chevrolet Releases Sneak Peek of 2008 MalibuDETROIT, Mich. – Chevrolet today released an advance image of the exterior of the all-new 2008 Malibu, which will be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January and will arrive at Chevrolet dealerships later in 2007. The photo was released in conjunction with the announcement of a $208 million investment in the Fairfax, Kansas Assembly plant to prepare for production of the car.

The image reveals a partial shot of the front of the car featuring a dual-port grille, which is described as representing the “new face of Chevrolet.”

“The 2008 Malibu design is expressive and brings new proportions and a fresh perspective to the mid-size market,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet General Manager. “The new Malibu boasts a poised, wheels-at-the-corners stance with a longer hood and shorter deck appearance that conveys motion, agility and attitude.”

Chevrolet previously released a sneak peek of one of the car’s available two-tone interiors, which demonstrates a much more upscale look and feel with more premium materials and a new level of refinement in the extremely competitive mid-size car segment.

12/18/06
f1
Purnell returns to F1 as FIA Technical Consultant Purnell returns to F1 as FIA Technical ConsultantTony Purnell, the former team principal of the Jaguar Racing and Red Bull Racing Formula One teams, has been appointed as a Technical Consultant to the FIA.

Purnell’s main role will be to assist the FIA in developing Formula One technologies that will be road-relevant and which will help to improve the racing on the track. Working closely with FIA Technical Consultant Peter Wright and Head of the FIA Formula One Technical Department Charlie Whiting, Purnell will liaise with manufacturers, oil companies and key universities to identify the latest trends in vehicle technology developments.

Max Mosley, FIA President said,

“I am delighted that Tony will be working with the FIA on this important new Formula One project. Everyone who has worked with Tony knows him to be one of the most pragmatic and technically astute minds in the sport.”

Purnell has a strong academic and professional background in engineering and motor sport. After studying Mechanical Engineering at Manchester University, he won the Kennedy Scholarship at MIT where he completed his Masters Degree. His dissertation was on the subject of Formula One Aerodynamics.

This was followed with a period of research at Cambridge University, where he began work on wind tunnel analysis software. He later founded Pi Research and by the late 1990s had built the company into a highly successful global electronics business.

In 1999 this company was purchased by the Ford Motor Company and Purnell was appointed to head Ford's Premiere Performance Division, a role which was followed by his senior positions in Formula One. FIA

12/18/06
alms
Dyson to run Porsche RS Spyders in 2007 Dyson to run Porsche RS Spyders in 2007
12/18/06
dtm
alms
Audi signs Lucas Luhr and Mike Rockenfeller Audi signs Lucas Luhr and Mike RockenfellerLucas Luhr (27) and Mike Rockenfeller (23) will strengthen the Audi driver squad in both the DTM and in sportscar events with the revolutionary Audi R10 TDI Diesel sportscar during the forthcoming 2007 motorsport season.
 
Both Germans are products of the Porsche "Star of Tomorrow” scheme. Lucas Luhr made his breakthrough in 1999 after winning the Porsche Carrera Cup. In the following seven years, the youngster from Koblenz developed into one of the world’s best sportscar drivers.
 
Mike Rockenfeller is of one Germany’s greatest future talents. In spite of his young age, the new Audi factory driver from Neuwied can already look back on an impressive career. He also won the 2004 Porsche Carrera Cup – at the age of 20, the youngest driver ever. Numerous victories followed in sportscar races around the world. zzzz
 
In 2007, Lucas Luhr and Mike Rockenfeller will make their debut in the DTM, the most popular international Touring Car series. Both youngsters have not only been signed by Audi with a view to the DTM. "It is important to us that our drivers can also make a valuable contribution to the sportscar project with the Audi R10 TDI,” stresses Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "Lucas and Mike can do this. I’m convinced that they are a strong addition to our driver line-up and will fit in at Audi very well.”

Lucas Luhr strengthens Audi driver squad
 
German Lucas Luhr will strengthen the Audi driver squad in both the DTM and in sportscar events with the revolutionary Audi R10 TDI Diesel sportscar during the forthcoming 2007 motorsport season.

The 27-year old is a product of the Porsche "star of tomorrow” scheme. He made his breakthrough in 1999 after winning the Porsche Carrera Cup. In the following seven years, the youngster from Koblenz developed into one of the world’s best sportscar drivers. In 2002 and 2003, he won the GT title in the American Le Mans Series, and the LM P2 championship in 2006. The Monaco-based German is one of the most successful drivers in the US sportscar racing scene with 23 class wins to his credit. Furthermore, Luhr won the FIA GT Championship in 2004 and is record holder at the Sebring 12 Hours with five class victories. He has also already mounted the top step of the podium at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

"At Audi I finally get the chance to fight for overall victories,” says Lucas Luhr. "I’m incredibly pleased about the DTM, the Audi R10 TDI and the opportunity to work with Audi Sport. It is a special honor for me to be able to drive for such a fascinating and successful marque like Audi.”

"Lucas has shown over the last few years that he is just as fast at the wheel of a GT car as he is with a Le Mans Prototype,” explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "I’m convinced that he is a strong addition to our driver line-up and will fit in at Audi extremely well.”

Audi signs young talent Mike Rockenfeller
 
Audi has succeeded in clinching the signature of one Germany’s greatest future talents for its motorsport program: 23-year-old Mike Rockenfeller celebrates his debut in the most popular international touring car race series with an Audi A4 DTM during the 2007 season.

In spite of his young age, the new Audi factory driver from Neuwied can already look back on an impressive career. In 2003 at the age of 19, Rockenfeller went down as the youngest driver to win a Porsche Supercup race, a Formula 1 supporting event. Rockenfeller won the Porsche Carrera Cup only one year later – again as youngest driver ever. With numerous victories, he was the dominating driver and the one to beat in the Porsche one make series. Many wins followed in sportscar races around the world, including class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Man, at Spa-Francorchamps and the overall victory in the Nürburgring 24 Hours.

"I’ve realized a dream by securing a factory contract with Audi,” explains Mike Rockenfeller, who is known to his friends as "Rocky”. "The DTM is a tremendous target and excellent alternative to Formula 1 for every young German racing driver.”

The "star of tomorrow” has not only been signed by Audi with a view to the DTM. "It is important to us that our drivers can also make a valuable contribution to the sportscar project with the Audi R10 TDI,” stresses Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "Mike has demonstrated impressively at the wheel of the LM P2 Porsche and in the Grand-Am Series that he also possesses the necessary talent for this car.” Audi

12/18/06
f1
Montezemolo eyes future in politics Montezemolo eyes future in politics(GMM)  Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo says he would contemplate a future in Italian politics.

Asked about whether he would consider a role in government, the 59-year-old revealed in a television appearance for the Italian broadcaster 'Rai' that one should "never say never".

As well as already being chairman of Fiat and president of the Federazione Italiana Editori Giornali, Montezemolo also heads the influential industry group Confidustria and has in the past been touted as a future minister for industry.

Asked about politics, he said: "It is important that one does his tasks well and with a passion."

12/18/06
ga
Grand-Am eliminates traction control Grand-Am eliminates traction controlDaytona Prototype teams in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series spent the majority of their first two official winter tests adapting to the new series-standard Bosch 4.3 Engine Control Units (ECUs).  The ECU – which can no longer be modified by individual teams – will be mandatory on all Daytona Prototypes for 2007.

Bosch engineers are pleased with the progress of the ECU.  One of those engineers, Charles Vogel, was confident that no major changes needed to be made, “The new customers that are here with us are very happy.  What we have here we'll run at the 24 Hours of Daytona.”

For most teams, the small problems with the ECU weren’t the biggest challenge.  For them it was the new rule Grand-Am instated between the Daytona and Homestead tests removing all traction control programs from the prototype ECUs.  This traction control ban was established by Grand-Am as a cost cutter after teams began arranging tests and hiring specialists just to improve their traction systems.  Team engineers kept busy at the Homestead test, as they worked to compensate for the absent traction control by refining their chassis setups.

Chief engineer on CITGO Racing’s #11 Riley-Pontiac, Steve Challis, was one of those engineers.  “We just lost the traction control, and I'm sure everybody is struggling with that,” Challis said.  “I think that changes the setup quite a bit, and so we are trying to figure out how we are going to race without traction control – which is a big deal.”

12/18/06
arca
ARCA testing wraps up at Daytona ARCA testing wraps up at Daytona
12/18/06
nascar
Bodine Daytona 500 deal falls through Bodine Daytona 500 deal falls throughGeoff Bodine said Wednesday he hasn't been able to find a team to run a car in February's Daytona 500 Nextel Cup race. Bodine, who has been in retirement for the past season or so, said in November he has a sponsor -- energy drink Mona Vie -- that wants to put him in a car during NASCAR's season-opening Cup race. "It's the hardest thing to find a Cup car and team to do it, so I've pretty much written off a Cup deal," Bodine said. "I'm going to try and pursue another angle." Geoff said he's exploring rides in the other series running at Daytona, along with non-race options. "I'm looking to try to get something so I can to be there at Daytona," Bodine said. Bodine will travel to Lake Placid, N.Y., this weekend to watch the World Cup Bobsled event and make some runs of his own on the bobsled track with his NASCAR sled. From Jan. 5 to 7, Bodine will host the second annual Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge at the Verizon Sports Complex, an event to help raise money for the U.S. Olympic Bobsled team, which uses Bo-Dyn sleds developed through Bodine. Elmira Star Gazette
12/18/06
nascar
Millsport hires Mike Mooney Millsport hires Mike MooneyMillsport, the sponsorship consulting and activation division of The Marketing Arm, today announced that Mike Mooney has joined its motorsports practice as vice president, account director. Mooney will be responsible for client strategic direction and activation development, as well as building a communications capability for Millsport Motorsports. Prior to Millsport, Mooney was the director of marketing communications for Sprint Nextel. In that role, he developed the marketing communications platform to support the launch of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series sponsorship as well as its numerous sponsor partnership, industry and NASCAR-specific product roll-out initiatives. Mooney will be based out of Millsport's offices here [Concord NC]. Millsport serves as the motorsports agency for companies including Elizabeth Arden, Sunoco, Tylenol and XM Satellite Radio. Millsport/The Marketing Arm PR
12/18/06
nascar
NASCAR no panacea for Canadian teams NASCAR no panacea for Canadian teamsUPDATE It has been more than three months since the Sept. 12 announcement that racing giant NASCAR had joined with retailing behemoth Canadian Tire to start a series that would launch [Canada's] stock car racing teams into the big time. But several of those teams are now telling the Sun that they are struggling to put together a financial plan with prospective sponsors because of a lack of information on how the new NASCAR Canadian Tire Series will work, where the races will be held or even how many races there will be in its inaugural season. To be fair NASCAR's international director Robbie Weiss told the Sun that some of the former CASCAR teams may have had unrealistic expectations for the new series. "Certainly Nov. 1, and I don't know where that date came from, would be very ambitious for us," Weiss said. "For us getting involved in the first year there is a lot of work to be done." Ottawa Sun

12/14/06 It has been more than three months since the Sept. 12 announcement that racing giant NASCAR had joined with retailing behemoth Canadian Tire to start a series that would launch this country's stock car racing teams into the big time.

But several of those teams are now telling Sun Media that they are struggling to put together a financial plan with prospective sponsors because of a lack of information on how the new NASCAR Canadian Tire Series will work, where the races will be held or even how many races there will be in its inaugural season.

Most teams in the old CASCAR Super Series who are expecting to be part of the NCTS expect they will need a bare minimum budget of $250,000 to field a one car team.

Some of the elite teams spent as much as $1 million to put together an 11 race CASCAR schedule in 2006.

Almost all of that budget must come from sponsors like Home Hardware, Snap-on Tools and Dodge who have long supported the old CASCAR series. More at The Winnipeg Sun

12/18/06
racing news
Walkinshaw buys Australian sportscar company Walkinshaw buys Australian sportscar companyAustralia’s sports car maker Elfin has been acquired by Walkinshaw Performance Pty Ltd headed by none other than now defunct Arrows F1 team boss, Tom Walkinshaw and a division of the high-performance automotive engineering group who conduct Holden’s V8 Supercar Racing Operations, the niche Manufacturer Holden Special Vehicles business and the large Adelaide based fitment centre for Holden Sport Accessories.

Walkinshaw Performance Director Chris Payne said the company had been working closely with Elfin Sports Cars for the past eight months, providing expertise in production engineering, ADR compliance and marketing.

“Elfin has done very well under the stewardship of previous owners Bill Hemming and Nick Kovatch for the past several years, with the development of its new Elfin MS8 Clubman and Streamliner range,” he said. “But all parties felt it was time for Elfin to take the next step to fully realize its potential. To achieve this, the business had to be re-organized and embrace a more modern niche production company with wider sales opportunities, backed by the necessary technologies and resources to take it forward. An alliance with Walkinshaw Performance was the ideal fit. While we have the necessary resources to propel the Elfin brand forward, the Elfin sports cars are complimentary to existing Walkinshaw business interests, sharing similar exciting values and enthusiast appeal.”

12/18/06
alms
Wolf Henzler wins 2006 Porsche Cup Wolf Henzler wins 2006 Porsche CupATLANTA - Wolf Henzler (right), from Nuertingen, Germany, on the basis of wins in both the American Le Mans Series and the Grand American Rolex Series, has won the 2007 Porsche Cup - the trophy awarded annually to the most successful driver in privately-run race cars, by Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, in Stuttgart, Germany.

Henzler, 31 years old and the 2004 Porsche Michelin Supercup champion, has had considerable success in his short U.S. racing career, not only winning the Indianapolis Motor Speedway rounds of the 2004 supercup series, but winning races in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge (2005), and ALMS and Grand-Am GT races in both 2005 and 2006. The Cup winner receives the sought-after silver-gold trophy as well as 37,000 Euros ($48,100) in prize money. The Porsche Cup is endowed with prize money totaling 153,000 Euros ($198,900).

In scoring the most amount of points among the 178 customer Porsche drivers who earned Cup points, Henzler pulled his co-drivers up into the top four Porsche Cup point stands as well. Johannes van Overbeek (right), from San Francisco, who co-drove with Henzler to an ALMS GT2 win at Mid-Ohio in their Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT2 RSR and second overall in the ALMS standings, is second in the 2007 Porsche Cup points. Robin Liddell, from Edinburgh, Scotland, co-drove with Henzler to Grand-Am GT wins at Virginia International Raceway, Laguna Seca Raceway, Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio, and Sears Point in their Tafel Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, is fourth in the Porsche Cup points. zzzz

Third in the Porsche Cup results is Jorg Bergmeister, who won the American Le Mans Series GT2 drivers championship this year in his Petersen/White Lightning Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with the help of co-driver Patrick Long. Long, like the other Porsche factory drivers in 2006, was not eligible for Porsche Cup points as the factory drivers all agreed that they did not want to compete against customer team drivers as allowed in the past (when factory drivers drove for private teams). The drivers approach Porsche Motorsport as a group, and the company accepted their proposal.

Other top American Porsche drivers in the top-ten Porsche Cup point results include Darren Law - seventh (Flying Lizard Motorsports - ALMS and Brumos Racing - Grand-Am); Seth Neiman - eighth (Flying Lizard Motorsports - ALMS); and Marcel Tiemann - tenth (Alex Job Racing - ALMS).

A banner year in North America

Besides the Bergmeister/White Lightning Porsche championship in ALMS mentioned above, Porsche Motorsport had both factory-support and privateer successes in north America in 2006.

Perhaps the most visible was the championship won by Penske Motorsports in the American Le Mans Series' LMP2 class. The factory Porsche RS Spyders, which won seven of the ten ALMS LMP2 class competitions, gave Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen the year-end championship, Penske Motorsports the team championship, and Porsche the engine and chassis manufacturers championship.

In the ALMS GT2 class, in addition to Bergmeister's title, Porsche also won the manufacturers title, the company's seventh such title in the eight years of the series.

In the SPEED World Challenge, where Porsche was nosed out by Cadillac with one lap to go in the 2005 battle, Porsche came back strong in 2006, with rookie Lawson Aschenbach winning the drivers title in his Jon Groom Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, and guiding Porsche to the manufacturers title over Cadillac and Dodge.

In Grand-Am Cup, Spencer Pumpelly and Andy Lally finished second in their Porsche 911, but they had enough podium finishes to help Porsche edge BMW for the manufacturers title.

Porsche Cup winners 1970 - 2006

1970 Gijs van Lennep (Netherlands) Wihuri
1971 Erwin Kremer (Germany) Kremer
1972 John Fitzpatrick (Great Britain) Kremer
1973 Clemens Schickentanz (Germany) Kremer
1974 John Fitzpatrick (Great Britain) Kremer
1975 Claude Haldi (Switzerland) Haberthur
1976 Bob Wollek (France) Kremer
1977 Bob Wollek (France) Kremer
1978 Bob Wollek (France) Kremer
1979 Klaus Ludwig (Germany) Kremer
1980 John Fitzpatrick (Great Britain) Barbour
1981 Bob Wollek (France) Kremer
1982 Bob Wollek (France) Joest
1983 Bob Wollek (France) Joest
1984 Henri Pescarolo (France) Joest
1985 Jochen Mass (Germany) Joest
1986 Klaus Ludwig (Germany) Joest
1987 Volker Weidler (Germany) Kremer
1988 John Winter (Germany) Joest
1989 Bob Wollek (France) Joest
1990 Bernd Schneider (Germany) Kremer
1991 John Winter (Germany) Joest
1992 Oscar Larrauri (Argentina) Joest
1993 Edgar Dören (Germany) Freisinger
1994 Price Cobb (USA) Kelly Moss
1995 Lilian Bryner/Enzo Calderari (both Switzerland) Stadler
1996 Bruno Eichmann (Switzerland) Roock Racing
1997 Franz Konrad (Austria) Konrad Motorsport
1998 Franz Konrad (Austria) Konrad Motorsport
1999 Cort Wagner (USA) Alex Job Racing
2000 Mike Fitzgerald (USA) G&W Motorsports
2001 Wolfgang Kaufmann (Germany) Paco Orti Racing
2002 Kevin Buckler (USA) The Racer's Group
2003 Marc Lieb (Germany) Freisinger Motorsport
2004 Stéphane Ortelli (Monaco) Freisinger Motorsport
2005 Tim Sugden (Great Britain) Gruppe M Motorsport/J3 Racing
2006 Wolf Henzler (Germany) Tafel Racing/Flying Lizard Motorsports

12/18/06
f1
McLaren put brakes on Kimi's early test McLaren put brakes on Kimi's early test(GMM)  Ron Dennis pushed for Fernando Alonso's early test debut but did not allow Kimi Raikkonen to similarly drive before Christmas, according to a report in the Spanish press.

The newspaper El Mundo Deportivo claims that while Raikkonen seemed unbothered about whether or not he would win an early release from his McLaren contract, Ferrari chiefs actually did ask their McLaren counterparts for clearance for a 2006 test.

"Ron Dennis did not give his approval," the Spanish nationwide daily sports newspaper read.

El Mundo Deportivo quoted Dennis, Woking based McLaren's chairman, as recently saying that negotiations for Alonso's release from his Renault contract would likely differ from the talks with Ferrari.

The Briton reportedly said: "(That is) because the relationship between McLaren-Mercedes and Renault is very different to the relationship between McLaren and Ferrari."

12/18/06
Track News
Barcelona to modify F1 layout Barcelona to modify F1 layout(GMM)  One of the fastest corners at Spanish grand prix venue Circuit de Catalunya is to be changed in the name of safety, a spokesman for the Barcelona venue confirmed on Monday.

The second to last corner, the fast right hand sweeper called 'Europcar', has been tightened, he said.  Additionally, instead of leading into the similarly sweeping final bend, the corner now leads into a new ninety-degree left corner before connecting to the existing 'New Holland' curve.

Another safety improvement is the asphalting and enlargement of some run-off areas, while the spokesman also revealed that the F1 paddock would be made bigger ahead of the race in May of next year.

Work on the third significant modification at Circuit de Catalunya, which opened in 1991, is to begin in January.

12/18/06
f1
Ferrari play down pre-season struggle Ferrari play down pre-season struggle(GMM) Felipe Massa has played down suggestions that Ferrari struggled to keep up with its Formula One rivals at the last two tests of 2006.

Despite the fact that Ferrari set the pace at Barcelona in late November, world champions Renault, and notably McLaren, arguably shone the brightest as Jerez hosted December's two tests.

"So far we have been consistent," Brazilian Massa, to be joined at the Maranello based team in 2007 by Kimi Raikkonen, told the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Ferrari, however, ended its on-track calendar for 2006 on a low note last Friday when tester Luca Badoer went just seventh quickest and endured an engine failure. zzzz

His colleague at the southern Spanish circuit, Marc Gene, was twelfth and in the company of runners for Super Aguri and Toro Rosso.

Ferrari's apparent lack of competitiveness so far has surprised some observers who expected the Italian marque to adapt quickly to Bridgestone's control tires.

Massa insisted: "I have adapted well to the new tires, and the new gearbox, which Luca has been testing, is not giving us any problems.

"The others have been faster, but we are working according to a different philosophy than Barcelona -- we always work with a race setup and with a lot of fuel in the tank."

Pre-season testing resumes in mid January.

12/18/06
f1
No tire advantage for Toyota in '07 - Trulli No tire advantage for Toyota in '07 - Trulli(GMM) Jarno Trulli says Bridgestone's existing tire partners will not have an advantage in 2007.

Top squads including McLaren and Renault have had to switch to the Japanese supplier following Michelin's departure at the end of the season, but 32-year-old Trulli insists that the new 'control' tire is vastly different to the Bridgestone product of 2006.

"The tires are so much harder and so different that we have all started from zero again," the Italian, who drives for Toyota, told the Spanish news agency EFE.

Trulli, however, does expect Cologne based Toyota, which switched to Bridgestone at the end of 2005, to have a better season next year. zzzz

"With these new tires we have eliminated the blistering and the graining that we experienced with the very soft compounds this year," he said at Jerez.

"The new tires have increased the braking distances and that should favor overtaking, but we still can't really draw any conclusions about that."

On the subject of his former Renault boss, Flavio Briatore, Trulli said he preferred to abstain from answering questions, but he was happy to admit that he is still friends with world champion Fernando Alonso.

In a glancing blow to Ralf Schumacher, Trulli also said his preferred teammate in F1 is Alonso, with whom he shared a Renault in 2003 and part of 2004.

Admitting, meanwhile, that his favorite for the title is Ferrari, Trulli said about next season: "I hope first of all to have a reliable car, because that is something I did not really have this year."

12/17/06
Track News
New Bakersfield Track Approved New Bakersfield Track ApprovedThe Kern County Planning Commission gave the green flag to a long anticipated race track west of Bakersfield, which means NASCAR is coming to Bakersfield. It’s been over a year since Kern County lost its only paved raceway to new development. Now the men responsible for 30 plus years of racing at that track have a green light to move forward with the future of racing in Kern County.(California)
“It’s kind of like dying and going to heaven,” said Mesa Marin Founder Marion Collins. “I’m going to be in heaven and I don’t even have to leave Bakersfield.”

The Collins and Destefani families plan to build a half mile tri-oval track designed to host NASCAR races and community events. The go ahead from the Planning Commission signals the end of the final lap in planning and construction could begin as early as next month.

“We were thorough in addressing any concerns and I can’t wait to start construction,” said Larry Collins. “It’s going to be a real show piece for our county.”

Revving up support was a seemingly simple task as dozens offered praise at the meeting, not only for the proposed development but also the families involved.

“It is my belief that this will improve the quality of life for the people of Bakersfield, because they’ll once again have a new Collins family operation,” said Mayor Harvey Hall.(kget.com)

12/17/06
nascar
Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital opens Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital opensConcord, N.C. - The Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital at NorthEast Medical Center was officially opened to the public Saturday under sunny skies during an outdoor ribbon cutting ceremony.

Flanked by four children, hospital and community leaders, four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon helped open the children’s hospital by cutting the ceremonial ribbon. Prior to the ribbon-cutting, Gordon, wife Ingrid Vandebosch and Gordon’s parents toured the children’s hospital and talked with the medical staff about the services that would be offered to the children in the community.

"NEMC offers great care to those in need, and this new children’s hospital will offer the very best in health services to children, "said Gordon. "With Ingrid pregnant, it gives us peace of mind to know that some of the very best care for children in the Southeast region is located right here in Concord." zzzz

The new children’s hospital has 33 beds—including five in a specialized Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and offers patients and their families a healing environment complimented by the use of a nature theme that employs unique lighting, water elements and the application of soothing colors.

At a cost of almost $10.3 million, the 27,000 sq. ft. facility will receive its first patients early Monday morning from NEMC’s current Pediatric Department in a carefully monitored relocation process.

Perhaps seven year-old Adeline Brady, one of the child ribbon-cutting participants on stage with Gordon, best summed up the historic community event.

"Let this be a place of caring, where compassion shines on faces, hands and feet," said Brady.

About The Jeff Gordon Foundation

The Jeff Gordon Foundation was established in December of 1999 by the four-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion to support children and families in need. The Foundation is a non-profit 501c (3) organization that benefits The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, The Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Marrow Foundation in partnership with the Hendrick Marrow Program and Riley Hospital for Children. For more information visit www.jeffgordonfoundation.org.

About NorthEast Medical Center

NorthEast Medical Center, www.northeastmedical.org, is a regional 457-bed, not-for-profit medical center, with a reputation for excellence built on advanced technology, medical staff talent, quality, and compassionate care. Solucient, www.solucient.com, a leading healthcare information company, has named NorthEast Medical Center to its 100 Top Hospitals list under the category of "Teaching Hospitals". In addition, Health Grades, www.healthgrades.com, has rated NEMC "Best in the Region" for overall cardiac services, while simultaneously naming the medical center as "Best in the Region" for cardiac surgery over each of the past five years.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) has proclaimed NorthEast Medical Center as the 58th facility in the U.S. and Europe to officially achieve "Magnet Hospital" status. Following the completion of an 18-month construction project, the Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital has now opened for patients on the main medical campus. Based in Concord, North Carolina, NorthEast Medical Center has 4200 employees serving in more than 30 facilities located throughout the region.

12/17/06
Industry News
Chrysler banking on Minivan resurgence Chrysler banking on Minivan resurgenceSoccer moms and dads, take note: Rumors of the minivan's death have been greatly exaggerated.

Even as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. plan to ditch their minivans in favor of newly popular crossover vehicles, Chrysler Group, which invented the minivan in 1984, is preparing to unveil its next models, and it's counting on high-volume sales.

The automaker will offer a peek at its 2008 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan at the 2007 North American International Auto Show at Cobo Hall in just a few weeks.

Even if you're not a fan of the van, Chrysler and analysts and suppliers who've seen it or been told about it say you should plan to be impressed.

"Chrysler's new minivan (Photos) is, from what I can tell, a dramatic departure from where they've been," said auto analyst Erich Merkle of IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids. "It's a more hard-edge, upright, industrial design than the current jellybean look. ... Chrysler is taking some risk here. They're taking their No. 1-selling product and they're laying it on the line. That shows some machismo when you can take your No. 1 product and turn it upside down. I think it will hit a home run."

The automaker needs to knock it out of the park with the new minivan because the seven-seat people-and-stuff mover is to Chrysler what the F-series pickup is to Ford. It's the company's biggest seller and is responsible for nearly 20% of its annual sales.  More at Detroit Free Press

12/17/06
racing news
No Fear founder Marty Moates dies at 49 No Fear founder Marty Moates dies at 49LA COSTA, Calif., Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Marty Moates -- a motorcycle champion who was later a founder of the No Fear sportswear firm in California -- has died at 49 in an apparent suicide.

Moates' wife, Heather, found him in his car near their home in La Costa, north of San Diego, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Friends said Moates was living in great pain from old motorcycle-related injuries.

Moates' upset victory in the 1980 U.S. Grand Prix of Motocross at Carlsbad Raceway was a landmark moment in American motorcycle racing history. No American had defeated the more experienced European riders in 10 years of the U.S. round in the 500cc world championship series.

His infectious smile and prankish sense of humor made him one of the sport's best-liked figures, the Times said.

With fellow racers Mark and Brian Simo, he later helped found No Fear, a clothing brand that appealed to adventurous young sportsmen. Moates was also president of FMF International, a spin-off of No Fear that specializes in motocross gear.

The FMF Web site said Wednesday Moates would "be greatly missed."

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Dakota.

12/17/06
Racing News
Quotes of the Week Quotes of the Week
JEAN TODT, CEO, Ferrari
"I cannot just abandon the ship during this period of transition," Todt revealed.  "Not everyone likes me, but that is partially my fault because I don't necessarily want to be liked by mediocre people," he said.  "I know I can be unpleasant."  Todt riled at Flavio Briatore's recent suggestion that Felipe Massa scored his Ferrari seat because he is managed by his son, Nicolas.  "Coming from him, it makes me laugh," Todt Sr. said, "but I am not surprised.  "Felipe has demonstrated that he can handle the pressure of driving for a great team like Ferrari and being at Schumacher's side."  (Jean Todt says the departure of Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn and Paolo Martinelli is not the "right time" for him to also leave the Ferrari team.)
 
LUCA DI MONTEZEMOLO, President, Ferrari and Chairman, Fiat
"The death of Clay Regazzoni has robbed us of a man of courage and generosity who lived his life demonstrating those values. I remember him not only as one of my drivers during unforgettable times, but also as a true supporter of Ferrari. For him, races had to be tackled with boldness and on the limit, from the first to the final lap. I celebrated a first World Championship win with him and Niki in 1975, and I will never forget his great victories at the wheel of our cars, both in Formula 1 and sports cars. This is a very sad moment for me, especially as his 'Swiss-Neapolitan' character meant he was also a unique person away from the race tracks and so many memories of him now come to mind."  (Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has paid tribute to Clay Regazzoni following the death of the former Ferrari driver.) zzzz 
 
DAN DAVIS, Director, Ford Racing Technology
 “If I had wanted to back an international series,” says Dan Davis, “it wouldn’t have been Champ Car.”  (It seems that Ford Motorsport boss Dan Davis is not enamored that Champ Car may be branching out more overseas.   It appears it's time for Champ Car to find someone other than Ford to badge its Cosworth engines.)
 
GREG BIFFLE, Roush Racing, NASCAR driver
"I don’t know what happened. The guys heard the tire blow in the pits, in the garage. Boom!, they heard it. Then four seconds later they heard it hit the fence and I went all the way around the corner unconscious before I woke up. I woke up on the backstretch...I crashed in turn one you know so it was big. We don’t know what happened to the tire, they are obviously looking at it. Did it cut, did we run over something on the racetrack, did the tire fail? You just don’t know. Problem is with issues like that when they blow out and hit the fence and they catch on fire there’s nothing left to inspect. The right rear tire looks fine and all the left side tires look good, so we don’t know. You can’t blame the tire until you really analyze what might have happened."  (There have been a plethora of crashes in NASCAR in recent years as a result of Goodyear tire failures.) 
 
OSCAR B. GOODMAN, Mayor of Las Vegas
"I drink to excess," the flamboyant Mayor of Las Vegas said.  "I didn't think anything could take the place of Bombay Sapphire gin in my life, but that was really awesome.  I think I'm going to watch from the 10th floor of City Hall, feeling very secure."  (To kick off the ticket drive for the inaugural Vegas Grand Prix, Champ Car drivers Ryan Dalziel and Alex Figge made a lively street demo in their Champ Cars in front of the Celebrity Theatre in Las Vegas.)
12/17/06
cca
formula bmw
Track Record Testing Performance at Gelles Racing Track Record Testing Performance at Gelles RacingFront Royal, Virginia – Testing season for Gelles Racing is in full swing with five drivers having tested last week in Savannah and more to come this week in Houston. The team is very busy getting both the Champ Car Atlantic and BMW USA race cars ready for new drivers and the results have been very exciting thus far. Team owner Bob Gelles will not announce any drivers before the Holiday Season; some already signed while negotiations are almost completed for others in both series. Meanwhile, there are still seats to be filled and more interesting drivers to evaluate.

˝ It’s amazing how well those young drivers are ready, said Bob Gelles. They come to us physically fit with years of experience in Motorsports. Within a session they are racing at full speed and clocking unbelievably fast times. This was the story in Savannah with the five drivers we had. Overall the weather was perfect for Jonathan Goring, Philip Major, Ian Costa and Pier-Luc Ouellette logging in more than a thousand miles in the FB02 machines while Jesper Wulff Laursen took the helm of the Swift .016a single seater and was flirting with the lap record by end of the first day.

Our driver line-up is rapidly coming together but it is too early to announce a final team of drivers but we know we will be very competitive in both Formula BMW USA and Champ car Atlantic.” zzzz 

Goring, Major, Costa, Ouellette and Laursen
2006 Skip Barber National Champion, Jonathan Goring was very impressive. Jonathan adapted to the BMW FB02 race car extremely well, he was quick within the first eight laps and was at the track record by lap 12. ‘’I have been watching Jonathan closely and attended several of the Skip Barber National Championship races watching with high interest this fine young man, added Gelles. He is amazingly mature and has a sparkle in his eye that I rarely see. Jonathan knows how to win and has the full support of his family, having grown up surrounded by racing machines. His father has a fine collection of racing cars and clearly Jonathan has what it takes. A Champion is always a Champion.’’

Jonathan quoted as saying regarding his experience with Gelles. “This Team is highly structured, well organized and very fast. They worked swiftly and made me feel very welcome upon my arrival. The BMW race car was very balanced and I really liked driving it. It suited my style very well and I know I can go even faster. I feel a personal connection with Gelles; it was as if I was a part of the Gelles Team for a long time but really only a brief time and this is where I want to be winning a Championship in 2007. I would like to stay with a team and build a relationship that carries my career all the way to Champ Car and I can do this with Gelles.’’

Philip Major did an exceptional job; he was at the track record quickly and maintained his pace the balance of the test while finishing the test at the track record on his last lap on the final day. ‘’I was thoroughly impressed by Philip’s conditioning, said Gelles. He drove a spotless Indy 500 equivalent over the two days, remained focused each and every lap with amazing consistency. The eloquence of his feedback was remarkable; I look forward to working with this impressive driver for the next seasons.’’ Major quoted: “I was very impressed by the Gelles Race car and preparation. I had no mechanical issues and my engineer was outstanding. When I completed a session and requested some changes, my car was always better, never did it slip back, something which I have never experienced before.’’

Ian Costa showed why he was a 2007 BMW USA Scholarship Award recipient. Ian approached his testing exactly as he was trained by the BMW Staff in Valencia during his licensing and shoot-out evaluations. ‘’Ian’s technical merit is well founded, believed Gelles. He approached the test in a very deliberate manner and made continual progress constantly improving his times. I know he will prove BMW USA they made a fine choice in their award. Ian is scheduled to continue testing with Gelles in January as we refine his skills to win the Rookie Championship together.’’

Pier-Luc Ouellette did a good job steadily improving his times. He showed why he was the karting champion in Quebec last season. Pier-Luc possesses a lot of talent and with more testing can be very competitive in his Rookie year in BMW USA.

Jesper Wulff Laursen was everything expected from a Champion. Formula Renault has been the proving ground for successful drivers and the Great Dane is another fine example. ‘’Jesper proved is country proud, held Gelles. He was very technical and professional in his approach to the Swift .016a. In top physical condition, Jesper was capable to pace quickly on par with the data we secured last week at Savannah. We have made great strides with the Cooper tires and I look for Gelles to continue at the forefront of Champ Car Atlantic.’’

A pause for the Holiday Season
There will be another two-day session this week at Houston MSR facility before the crews take a break for the Holiday Season. ‘’We have been in full swing the last month, as if the race schedule had begun, concluded Gelles. The ten-day break will give us some time with our families before we take to the track in Sebring on January 2nd. Meanwhile, I wish the Motorsports community the very best at this time of the year and a very competitive 2007 racing season.’’

There will be more sessions added to this calendar for the drivers who want to get their hands on either of these beautiful BMW or Swift racing machines. We still have some openings for those who want to inquire about the upcoming sessions or others that we are about to release.’’

Coming testing sessions
December 21 & 22 MSR Houston, Texas
January 2 & 3 Sebring, Florida
January 6 & 7 Savannah, Georgia
January 13 & 14 MSR Houston, Texas Gelles Racing PR

12/17/06
f1
Last test of 2006 concludes at Jerez Last test of 2006 concludes at Jerez(GMM) Ahead of a four-week Christmas break, Jerez on Friday hosted the final day of testing for 2006.

World champion Fernando Alonso tested a McLaren for the first time, but his speed in the unbranded MP4-21 was a point of contention -- a Renault statement said he was fifth quickest, while the Mercedes-powered squad listed him as third best of the fifteen runners.

Marco Andretti, wearing the familiar family silver helmet livery, had a solid F1 test debut, while Toro Rosso pointed out that Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais ended his three days in the car actually quicker than the 2006 race lineup of Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed.

Speed, however, sat out much of Friday's running, and then the Race of Champions event in Paris, after hurting his hand in a mechanical breakage on Thursday.

Referring to the American's hand, the team said "nothing was broken" in the shunt.

A BMW-Sauber statement, meanwhile, read: "The test team members will now have some well earned holidays."
12/17/06
arca
nascar
On debut Toyota leaves Chevy, Ford and Dodge sucking wind On debut Toyota leaves Chevy, Ford and Dodge sucking windStock car history is being made this weekend during the ARCA test at Daytona International Speedway.

Josh Wise, who was just crowned USAC's sprint car national champion, is testing a full-bodied Toyota over the 2.5-mile tri-oval course and already his lone Toyota beat all the Chevys, Fords and Dodges on track.

The No. 22 Eddie Sharp Racing Camry is the first Japanese-based race car to turn laps at Daytona in an American stock car series. The NASCAR Nextel Cup Toyotas will test here next month.

Wise, who saw Daytona for the first time Friday, has not absorbed the historical significance of his testing efforts.

"I have so much on my mind that I'm just thinking about keeping it nice and smooth around there," said the 23-year-old driver from Riverside, Calif. "Yeah, this is pretty cool, but I don't ever think about things like that."

The No. 22 is a research and development team for Michael Waltrip Racing, which will field three Toyotas in 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series competition. zzzz

"This is very cool," said Rick Lantz, Toyota's Busch Series program manager. "This is something we've been looking forward to since the start of the program -- getting a car on the track at Daytona and getting to see how well it performs."

ARCA considers this a rare honor to debut a new manufacturer and its stock car. Generally, car manufacturers like to showcase a new entry in the Daytona 500 and Budweiser Shootout.

Pos. No. Name Best Laptime Speed Make
1 22 Josh Wise 49.471 181.925 Toyota
2 87 David Green 49.678 181.167 Chevy
3 98 Erin Crocker 49.726 180.992 Dodge
4 50 Chase Pistone 49.786 180.774 Dodge
5 5 Bobby Gerhart 49.833 180.603 Chevy
6 42 Phillip McGilton 49.900 180.361 Chevy
7 2 Michael McDowell 49.966 180.122 Dodge
8 11B Bryan Silas 50.037 179.867 Ford
9 19 Keven Wood 50.038 179.863 Ford
10 5A Brad Coleman 50.041 179.853 Chevy 
11 7C Brian Smith 50.085 179.695 Chevy
12 7 AJ Henriksen 50.211 179.244 Chevy
13 3 Jeremy Clements 50.285 178.980 Chevy
14 72 Gabi Dicario 50.321 178.852 Chevy
15 61 Steve Wallace 50.412 178.529 Dodge
16 64 Josh Allison 50.454 178.380 Dodge
17 14 Michael Faulk 50.455 178.377 Dodge
18 9A Tim Russell 50.461 178.356 Dodge
19 85 Greg Barnhart 50.553 178.031 Ford
20 66 Tony Ave 50.581 177.932 Chevy
21 12 JR Heffner 50.584 177.922 Chevy
22 37 Michelle Theriault 50.594 177.887 Chevy
23 25 Billy Venturini 50.650 177.690 Chevy
24 05 Leilani Munter 50.663 177.644 Ford
25 24 Benny Chastain 50.712 177.473 Chevy
26 9 Matt Hagans 50.715 177.462 Dodge
27 97 Skip Cummins 50.742 177.368 Chevy
28 75 Billy Tanner 50.746 177.354 Ford
29 41 Josh Clemons 50.748 177.347 Ford
30 00 Ed Kennedy 50.749 177.343 Chevy
31 1 John Graham 50.761 177.301 Ford
32 7B Eric Holmes 50.827 177.071 Chevy
33 30 Terry Jones 50.858 176.963 Dodge
34 58 Damon Lusk 50.860 176.956 Dodge
35 7A Justin Algaier 50.902 176.810 Chevy
36 03 Shane Brafford 50.908 176.790 Chevy
37 05 Ian Henderson 50.967 176.585 Ford
38 12B Mario Gosselin 50.988 176.512 Chevy
39 60A Patrick Sheltra 50.988 176.512 Chevy
40 7A Tony Marks 51.042 176.325 Chevy
41 97 Brent Cross 51.128 176.029 Pontiac
42 6 Dexter Bean 51.196 175.795 Chevy
43 4 Justin South 51.286 175.486 Dodge
44 07 Gerry Bruce 51.479 174.829 Chevy
45 35 Chuck Barnes 51.528 174.662 Chevy
46 14 Ron Young 51.559 174.557 Dodge
47 27 Dicky Williamson 51.634 174.304 Ford
48 64B Josh Allison 51.924 173.330 Dodge
49 29 Brian Keselowski 51.964 173.197 Ford
50 0 Butch Jarvis 51.974 173.164 Chevy
51 66 Brian Weber 52.196 172.427 Ford
52 56 Chris Cockrum 52.363 171.877 Chevy
53 34 Darrell Basham 52.584 171.155 Chevy
54 1 Andy Lally 53.074 169.575 Ford
55 48 Nick Tucker 54.547 164.995 Dodge
56 48 Roger Carter 54.752 164.378 Dodge
57 1 Ted Olswefski 55.315 162.705 Ford
58 79B James Roberson 55.658 161.702 Pontiac
59 79A Mike Koch 61.631 146.030 Chevy

12/17/06
Industry News
Jury puts big hit on DaimlerChrysler Jury puts big hit on DaimlerChryslerA Portland jury on Friday issued what's believed to be the largest punitive damages award in state history, finding truck maker Freightliner liable for intentionally shifting assets among several of its divisions in an effort to avoid a legal judgment.

The 12-person jury at Multnomah County Circuit Court determined the Portland company should have to pay at least $488 million -- and possibly much more -- to a rival truck maker under the terms of a 2005 British court decision.

The jury also slapped Freightliner and its parent company, DaimlerChrysler North American Holding Corp., with a combined $350 million in punitive damages for acting with "malice" and "bad motive" in what it said was a fraudulent attempt to avoid its legal obligations by hiding assets.

The punitive damages award appears to be far and away the largest such verdict issued by an Oregon jury. It easily outdistances a $150 million punitive verdict issued against tobacco company Philip Morris by a Multnomah County jury in 2002. zzzz

Freightliner's lead attorney, Stephen Walters of Stoel Rives in Portland, declined to comment late Friday. The company's chief operating officer, Roger Nielsen, sat through the trial but referred comment to a company news release.

Paul Hurd, Freightliner's in-house counsel, who frowned and shook his head as Judge Henry Kantor counted the jury's votes, also declined comment.

"We are obviously extremely disappointed by this verdict," spokesperson Amy Sills said in a statement shortly after the decision. "We plan to vigorously pursue an appeal of this verdict, and are confident that we will ultimately succeed in proving that there was absolutely no wrongdoing on the part of Freightliner."

The case stems from alleged accounting fraud in the late 1990s at ERF, a British subsidiary of Canadian truck maker Western Star Holdings Ltd. A German manufacturer, MAN AG, bought ERF from Western Star in March 2000, but claims it didn't discover the accounting problems until the following year. The Oregonian

12/17/06
irl
IRL signs with MainGate IRL signs with MainGateThe IRL has signed up MainGate, Inc., a merchandising and marketing firm out of Indianapolis, to operate an on-site mobile retail store at each of the venues on the IndyCar schedule beginning in 2007.  MainGate will pay IMS, which handles all merchandising for the IndyCar Series, a royalty on each sale.  MainGate will also manufacture much of the goods, such as T-Shirts, caps, and other apparel.  They will also purchase other good from IMS to sell in the mobile units.  As part of the deal MainGate will construct a retail store at each venue with about 3,600 SF of space.  The climate controlled store travels in an 18-wheel truck and unfolds on site to give the fan the feel of a store, not a tent.
12/17/06
a1gp
Preparations begin for 2nd Durban race Preparations begin for 2nd Durban racePreparations for the second A1GP street race in Durban, scheduled for February 25, 2007 are well in hand and spectators can look forward to an even bigger and better event than the award-winning one this year, says Ms Dana Cooper, CEO of A1 Team South Africa.
 
This year’s event in January was a sell-out success and was voted the best round of the 11-race 2005/06 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport by the competing nations’ team principals. South Africa is one of 23 countries contesting the second series of this unique motor sport competition that pits nation against nation in identical cars.
 
“Although we only had two months in which to organize the event and construct a brand new street circuit from scratch, we attracted 105 000 spectators over the three days – the biggest sporting crowd Durban has seen,” said Ms Cooper. zzzz
 
“Construction of the circuit started on November 23 and the first of the 25 grandstands was up by November 25. Once again we are working very closely with the management teams of the eThekwini municipality and KwaZulu Natal province and we are committed to doing the job with as little inconvenience as possible to Durban residents.
 
Ms Cooper indicated that there would be no road works between December 8 and January 5 next year in deference to Durban’s busy holiday period and influx of visitors.
 
“In addition, we will be delaying road closures, which started in early December last year, until the last possible moment in 2007.
 
“Ticket sales, which started on December 1, are going very well despite there being no advertising at this stage.
 
“Last year’s race was a great success, but it was our first attempt at staging an international street race in Durban and we learnt a great deal,” said Ms Cooper. “For the second race in February we aim to ensure that everyone who buys a ticket gets what they paid for. Grand stand seats will be numbered and there will be greater control over accessing these seats.
 
“We will be using ticket readers which will prevent the same ticket being used by different people to gain entry to the same grand stand. We will be able to ensure that the right person gains access to the seat they paid for.
 
“We’ve also taken steps to ensure that crowd control will be more efficient. With global
 
“We’ve also taken steps to ensure that crowd control will be more efficient. With global television coverage, start times have to be strictly observed and we cannot have a repeat of last year’s delayed start, which was as a result of some spectators being in a restricted area that compromised their safety as well as the safety of the drivers and race officials.
 
“The introduction of a weekend pass will allow fans to save money by buying tickets for all three days (in the case of grand stand tickets) and for both Saturday and Sunday (general admission).
 
“Disabled fans have again been provided for in designated viewing areas . One minder per disabled patron is allowed into the viewing area and minder tickets are being sold at the same price as disabled tickets.”
 
Ms Cooper added that the success of the inaugural A1GP street race in Durban was the result of a massive team effort involving many people. “We have to thank KwaZulu Natal premier Sibusiso Ndebele, eThekwini municipality mayor Obed Mlaba and Durban city manager Dr Mike Sutcliffe and their teams. “We are making excellent progress with preparations for the 2007 race and everyone is pulling very well together.”
 
Mayor Mlaba said the City of Durban was pleased and proud to again be hosting the South African round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. “It is a fantastic opportunity to showcase our city – its culture, its history and its people – to the rest of the world. It is a chance for us to compete with the other great cities of South Africa for the attention of the outside world.
 
“The unparalleled success of this year’s race put Durban on the map in world motor sport and resulted in a massive boost to the local economy,” he said. He thanked the provincial leadership under Premier Ndebele as well as the central government for their support and encouragement in KwaZulu Natal and eThekwini acquiring the right to stage the South African round of the A1 GP series until 2008.
 
The second street circuit in this year’s A1GP World Cup of Motorsport calendar – the first was in Beijing in November, the 3,7-km Durban circuit will once again start opposite Natal Command in Snell Parade, between Natal command and the beach, then run in a clockwise direction down Snell Parade, around a tight hairpin in Snell Parade and back towards Natal Command, then west into Argyle Road, north along NMR Avenue, east along Battery Beach Road and under the M4 freeway, and finally south past the Suncoast Casino and back into Snell Parade.
12/17/06
roc
Wembley stadium to host 2007 "Race of Champions" Wembley stadium to host 2007 "Race of Champions"The new Wembley stadium will host the 'Race of Champions', an annual motorsport event involving drivers from various championships including Formula One and rallying, next December.

"We've been talking to some of the world's most prestigious stadiums," organizer Fredrik Johnsson told the event Web site (www.raceofchampions.com) on Saturday. "The 20th anniversary event will take place next year at the new Wembley stadium."

Sweden's Mattias Ekström, winner of the 2003 German DTM touring car championship, won Saturday's race at the Stade de France in Paris after beating Champ Car's champion Sebastien Bourdais and world rally champion Sebastien Loeb.

12/16/06
f1
Clay Regazzoni honored by President Montezemolo Clay Regazzoni honored by President MontezemoloMaranello - Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo honored Clay Regazzoni - Ferrari driver for six years from 1970 to 1972 and from 1974 to 1976, who was killed today in a car crash - with the following words:

"The death of Clay Regazzoni has robbed us of a man of courage and generosity who lived his life demonstrating those values. "I remember him not only as one of my drivers during unforgettable times, but also as a true supporter of Ferrari. For him, races had to be tackled with boldness and on the limit, from the first to the final lap.

I celebrated a first World Championship win with him and Niki in 1975, and I will never forget his great victories at the wheel of our cars, both in Formula 1 and sports cars.

This is a very sad moment for me, especially as his "Swiss-Neapolitan" character meant he was also a unique person away from the race tracks and so many memories of him now come to mind.

12/16/06
nascar
JEGS enters contingency program with NASCAR JEGS enters contingency program with NASCARJust days after announcing its sponsorship of veteran NASCAR racer #78-Kenny Wallace, JEGS Mail Order has unveiled a comprehensive contingency program for the country's most popular form of auto racing. The Delaware, Ohio-based, high-performance parts company will also sponsor 60 local NASCAR-sanctioned racetracks across the country. Beginning in 2007, NEXTEL Cup teams displaying a JEGS sticker on their cars will be eligible for contingency money depending on where they finish on the 43-car grid. Each race winner will receive contingency as will other drivers finishing in random positions in the final order. The Auto Channel
12/16/06
nascar
MRN may move to Charlotte MRN may move to CharlotteMotor Racing Network Inc. is considering moving its offices from Daytona Beach, Fla., to the Charlotte area, and the transition could come as early as next summer, the Charlotte Business Journal reports.

MRN Radio, which employs about 40 people, is owned by International Speedway Corp. and broadcasts all of NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series races as well as the majority of Nextel Cup and Busch series events. The story states that the company could move into the NASCAR Hall of Fame complex in the recently approved office tower, though that facility isn't scheduled to be completed until 2010.

"We've done an analysis, and we're interested," MRN Radio President David Hyatt said of a potential move to the area, declining to comment further to the Business Journal.

12/16/06
f1
Super Aguri sign van der Garde as third driver Super Aguri sign van der Garde as third driverUPDATE Added photo of van der Garde below.  Why are so many doors opening for Dutch drivers and sponsors in F1 this year even though F1 does not race in Holland?  Probably because Champ Car is going to race there and Bernie never misses an opportunity to divert attention to F1.  He leaves no detail unturned.

12/15/06 Honda-backed Super Aguri have signed Dutchman Giedo van der Garde as their reserve driver for next year, the Formula One team said on Friday. The 21-year-old competed most recently in the F3 Euroseries, a junior category. He has also been part of McLaren's young driver support program. "He is a young driver with much potential," said team boss Aguri Suzuki.
12/16/06
TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

NASCAR Angels
1:30pm-2:00pm Check local listings for your time zone ABC
2006 Race Of Champions - Nations Cup Paris
2:30pm-6:30pm (R) HDNet
The SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
Michael Waltrip Racing: A New Era
10:00pm-11:00pm -#3 ESPN2
Also Wednesday - AIGP China
4:00pm-6:00pm (from 11/12/06) SPEED

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.
12/15/06
irl
Penske names Tom German Penske names Tom GermanLong-time Penske Racing engineer Tom German has been named Technical Director of Penske Racing, Inc. German, who joined Penske Racing in 1997, has been race engineer for the #6 team since 2000 when he worked with two-time CART Champion and 2003 Indianapolis 500-mile race winner Gil de Ferran. He will continue as race engineer for three-time IndyCar Series Champion and 2006 Indianapolis 500-mile race winner Sam Hornish, Jr. As race engineer, German guided the #6 team to 16 wins, including two Indianapolis 500-mile race victories, 22 pole positions and three championships. “I’m looking forward to continually improving our competitive position in the IndyCar Series as Technical Director of Penske Racing, Inc.” said German. “I think that the 2007 season will be a challenge, but we certainly have the right people in place to meet our goals next year.”
12/15/06
irl
Castroneves gets engaged Castroneves gets engagedWhile things on the track may have slowed down a bit for Helio Castroneves during the off-season; his life off of it has been just the opposite. This past weekend, the 31 year-old Brazilian was in his native country to announce some very important news about his personal life.

The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner traveled to Brazil to tell his family and friends that he is engaged to Aliette Vazquez, his girlfriend of five and a half years. A November 2007 wedding in Miami is planned.

Castroneves proposed over the Thanksgiving holiday and played it by the book the entire way. Before he popped the question to Aliette, a Miami resident, he did the right thing by making sure he had her father’s blessing. Castroneves took the time to check with dad and make sure he supported the couple before proposing to the bride-to-be. Castroneves also selected the perfect engagement ring to blend the Brazilian and American cultures. It’s a tradition in Brazil to propose with a simple wedding band rather than one with diamonds as is customary in the United States. In order to create a compromise, Castroneves selected a band of diamonds and meshed the two cultures together.

“I’m so happy, I just can’t put it into words,” said Castroneves. “Ali has been a special part of my life for so long and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her. She’s been so supportive of me on the track and I am just so excited to start our new life together.”

12/15/06
scca
Wildberger Named SCCA Pro Racing President Wildberger Named SCCA Pro Racing PresidentSCCA Pro Racing’s Board of Directors announced that it has hired Bob Wildberger to be its next President.

Wildberger comes to SCCA Pro Racing after a colorful motorsports career at DaimlerChrysler, which saw him last serve as Senior Manager of Dodge Motorsports before his retirement earlier this year.

“Bob Wildberger brings a great mix of motorsports operations and marketing to SCCA Pro Racing,” SCCA Pro Racing Board Chairman Brian Holtz said. “We’ve been working with Bob as a consultant for the last several months and he is an excellent fit for the company as it moves forward.” zzzz

After beginning his automotive career at American Motors Corporation in the 1970s, Wildberger joined Chrysler in 1987. In his tenure, he led Chrysler’s development of motorsports from a minor presence in the early 1990s to a major force by 2001. Wildberger developed programs in many top racing series, including SCCA Pro Racing (World Challenge), SCORE, IMSA, NHRA and led the launch of Dodge’s NASCAR program.

“Having been involved in SCCA Pro Racing and the SPEED World Challenge series both in the early 90s when I led the Eagle Talon program and recently as a consultant, I know what great potential exists with the company,” Wildberger said. “We’ve got great products and many superb partners and participants. Together, we will help SCCA Pro Racing realize its full potential and growth in the motorsports marketplace.

A current Lake Orion, Mich. resident, Wildberger will relocate to SCCA Pro Racing’s headquarters in Topeka, Kan.

12/15/06
ga
irl
Sharp, Rice team up for Rolex 24 Sharp, Rice team up for Rolex 24IndyCar Series veterans Scott Sharp and Buddy Rice will join Brumos Racing teammates David Donohue and Darren Law for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.  Sharp, the 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion and Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner, will co-drive the No. 59 Red Bull Porsche Riley in the twice around-the-clock sports car event on Jan. 28.  "We are excited to have such eminent racers with such notable records join the Brumos Racing Team," said team owner Bob Snodgrass.
12/15/06
irl
Kanaan featured in magazine Kanaan featured in magazineTony Kanaan is driven.  That's the storyline of a cover article in the current issue of Key Biscayne magazine featuring the 2004 IndyCar Series champion. The Andretti Green Racing driver calls Key Biscayne, Fla., home with his wife Daniele.  "For me, to be able to do what I love, have a talent to do what I love, and make money, it couldn't be a better scenario," Kanaan says in the article. "I see people that are not very happy with their jobs and they wake up every morning saying 'My God, I gotta go to work.' And if I can call what I do work, because I have a gift, a talent you either have or you don't have. I feel very fortunate in some ways, and very unfortunate in other ways. But that's how life is. Life will give you something and take something away from you."
12/15/06
tv news
FOX picks up Voda for pits FOX picks up Voda for pitsKrista Voda, who spent most of last season in a variety of roles with Speed Channel, has been hired as a new pit road reporter for Fox's broadcast of Nextel Cup races beginning next season, The Charlotte Observer has reports.
12/15/06
irl
Unser was humiliated, but is acquitted Unser was humiliated, but is acquittedUPDATE A jury has acquitted four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Sr. on misdemeanor charges of resisting and disobeying police.  Closing arguments in the trial in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court wrapped up Friday, and jurors deliberated for about three hours before coming to a verdict.  Charlie Daniels, Unser's attorney, said the only reason Unser was arrested was because he objected "to the abusive way he was being treated by police.  We were glad to see that justice was done," Daniels said. "We knew that once anybody looked at the real evidence instead of the accusations that they would see it as we did."

12/15/06 Four-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Sr. testified Thursday he has suffered public humiliation and financial loss because of his August arrest on misdemeanor charges of resisting and disobeying police at a roadblock in his hometown. "Wherever I go, people want to know if I'm a jailbird," the 67-year-old race car driver said.

He testified on his own behalf in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court on misdemeanor charges of resisting and disobeying police.

Closing arguments are set for Friday. Unser was arrested Aug. 9 near his home after authorities cordoned off a road named after the famous racing family. The roadblock, at an intersection close to the Unser family's property, was part of a SWAT situation as officers were trying to arrest a man who led them on a high-speed chase and fired shots at police.

Unser said that since the arrest, he has lost speaking engagements and work as a consultant, his police mug shot has appeared in racing magazines and his case was even the subject of Jay Leno's late night television show.

"People won't hire you, speaking engagements seemed to go away," he said. More at SI.com

12/15/06
alms
Pirelli drops ALMS program Pirelli drops ALMS programPirelli will no longer supply tires to the ALMS Aston Martin and Panoz teams. "It is an expensive proposition to supply tires to just one or two teams," said Pirelli Racing boss Paul Hembrey.
12/15/06
cc
Pagenaud blisters timesheets in first Champ Car test Pagenaud blisters timesheets in first Champ Car testSimon Pagenaud marked himself as a quick study this season on his way to the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship, often taking pole position the very first day he ran on tracks he’d never seen before.
 
So it was no surprise that despite having to adjust to a car with more than twice the horsepower of anything he’d ever driven before, Pagenaud emerged as the quickest runner in a test with Forsythe Championship Racing at MSR Houston in Texas this week.
 
“I want to thank Jerry Forsythe for giving me this opportunity to test with a championship-winning team,” said Pagenaud. “Everyone on the team helped me to get the best out of the car and out of myself. I was already confident about my move to Champ Car next season, but now that I have experienced the car and set the times that I did, I know I am ready to compete in the Champ Car World Series.”
 
“There’s definitely a huge difference between the Atlantic cars and the Champ Cars, but I feel like my time in Atlantics prepared me for the step up in power and downforce. The car was just great to drive, and now I am really looking forward to driving the new Panoz.”
 
Pagenaud is working to find the best environment for his Champ Car World Series rookie campaign, and has been in communication with a number of teams. With a clear capability of getting up to speed quickly no matter what the track or the car, and with the $2 million champions check toward his 2007 Champ Car rookie season, Pagenaud’s phone has been ringing often.
 
“I am optimistic that Champ Car is going to help make sure that the Atlantic champion is racing with a competitive organization,” said Pagenaud. “ I am happy I was able to get this test completed before Christmas and I feel as though I am ready for the first test in January in Sebring. I am completely focused on my next step in racing, so no vacation time for me this year! I am training every day and the test confirmed that I have the speed and the conditioning to be competitive next year. I just can’t wait!”

We do hear that all three drivers (Pagenaud, Howard and Carroll) did low 72's.. Although Pagenaud was slightly faster for the lap. Jay Howard won big balls of the weekend! He carried the highest speed of the weekend through all the fast corners.

12/15/06
nascar
Team supports suspension Team supports suspensionWoodard Racing officials say they have indefinitely suspended NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series crew member Derek Lusk, who was indefinitely suspended by the sanctioning body earlier this week after failing a substance abuse test in November.

"Woodard Racing is a professional organization, and Derek has been suspended from performing any duties on behalf of Woodard Racing until he is reinstated by NASCAR," team owner Rick Woodard said. "We will not tolerate any employee who chooses to violate one of the company's non-negotiable guidelines, and we support NASCAR 100 percent in their decision. We look forward to putting this negative attention of our team behind us and concentrate on the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series."

12/15/06
roc
Race Of Champions to be broadcast worldwide Race Of Champions to be broadcast worldwideUPDATE Reminder: The Race of Champions Nations Cup will be broadcast live in the USA on Saturday, December 16, 11:00 am-3:00 pm ET on HDNet.

12/13/06 With only days remaining before Saturday's The Race of Champions – Nations Cup, ticket sales have already exceeded 47,000. A number of grandstand seats enjoying panoramic views of the entire circuit are still available, but motor sport fans not fortunate enough to be at the Stade de France will still be able to follow the action from The 2006 Race of Champions – Nations Cup live on a long list of television networks across the world, as well as on the internet thanks to a special agreement with Eurosport. Broadcasters in Europe, Asia, Oceania, the Middle East and the USA will carry live action from The Race of Champions and/or The ROC-Nations Cup, while viewers in many other countries will get the chance to watch extended highlights after the event (see below for provisional list of broadcasters). Meanwhile, thanks to a groundbreaking operation in association with Eurosport's on-line division, those not covered by the above list will be able to log onto one of the international sports specialist's national or international websites (www.eurosport.com, .es, .de, .it, .fr, .co.uk, .ru and .cn) to obtain comprehensive coverage of the action in Paris.

"Eurosport is proud to be able to offer fans across the world the opportunity to see this year's The Race of Champions live over the internet," says Laurent-Eric Le Lay, President of Eurosport. "The 2006 ROC at the Stade de France is the only event of the season that brings together great champions like Sébastien Loeb (WRC), Sébastien Bourdais (Champ Car), Andy Priaulx (WTCC), Bernd Schneider (DTM), Travis Pastrana (X-Games), plus other stars like F1's David Coulthard, Heikki Kovalainen, WRC's Marcus Grönholm, seven time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen and many others in a truly amazing competition." zzzz

The complete entry list features two new names following the last-minute withdrawals of England's Jenson Button and the USA's Jimmie Johnson owing to injury. The former is suffering from cracked ribs sustained in a karting accident, while the 2006 NASCAR champ broke his wrist in a fall from a golf cart.

"It was a fluke deal," relates Johnson, a member of the 2002 ROC-Nations Cup winning squad. "I was in a golf cart and the driver took a sharp turn. I wasn't holding on tight enough, landed awkwardly on the ground and heard a little pop. It's disappointing that I can't compete in The Race of Champions. But I'll still be in Paris to cheer on Team USA and provide any support I can."

"It is with enormous regret that I won't be competing in this year's The Race of Champions," admits Button. "Although the recent rib injury I sustained at a karting test is healing well, we decided that it was best that I didn't aggravate the condition. Because of this, I will not be able to participate in the last F1 test of the season and sadly I will have to miss The Race of Champions also. It was an event I was very much looking forward to and I wish everyone well, particularly my friend Andy Priaulx who was going to be my team-mate. I very much hope this opportunity presents itself again in the future because it's something I would really like to do. Good luck to everyone taking part!" Their places in motor sport's annual end-of-season extravaganza have been filled by the United States Formula 1 star Scott Speed and England's multiple BTCC Champion and WTCC front-runner James Thompson.

"It was a surprise to be invited to say the least," admits 23-year old Scott Speed who drove for the Toro Rosso F1 team in 2006. "I definitely wasn’t expecting to replace Jimmie Johnson in The Race of the Champions this year. Of course I’m really excited and I can’t wait to race against all these guys. I'm also really happy to be getting back together and teaming up with my old friend Travis, who I know from the Red Bull days."

For reference, entries for The 2006 Race of Champions – Nations Cup are: Sébastien Bourdais (France/ChampCar), David Coulthard (Scotland/F1), Mattias Ekström (Sweden/DTM & WRC), Marcus Grönholm (Finland/WRC), Heikki Kovalainen (Finland/F1), Tom Kristensen (Denmark/Endurance & DTM), Sébastien Loeb (France/WRC), Colin McRae (Scotland/WRC), Yvan Muller (France/WTCC), Travis Pastrana (USA/XGames), Stéphane Peterhansel (France/Rally-Raid), Andy Priaulx (England/WTCC), Nani Roma (Spain/Rally-Raid), Bernd Schneider (Germany/DTM), Armin Schwarz (Germany/WRC), Scott Speed (USA/F1), Dani Sordo (Spain/WRC) and James Thompson (England/WTCC).

Broadcasters scheduled to show live action from The 2006 Race of Champions - Nations Cup: Eurosport (Europe), Euro 1080 (Europe), RTBF (Belgium), IBC (Iceland), Sport Italia (Italy), 7TV (Russia), Al Jazeera (Qatar, Middle East), Eurosport Asia-Oceania (Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar), Astro (Malaysia) and HD Net (USA).

Broadcasters scheduled to show recorded highlights of The 2006 Race of Champions - Nations Cup: TYC (Central and South America), ESPN International (Latin America, Israel, Africa, Oceania), RTL7 (Holland), Cable Monegasque (Monaco), Pro Active (worldwide), Max Power (worldwide), ESPN 2 (USA), Aires Media (Macedonia), RTL (Hungary), CYBC (Cyprus), AB3 (Belgium), TF1 (France), M6 (France).

12/15/06
f1
Hamilton fastest, Bourdais faster and Andretti debuts Hamilton fastest, Bourdais faster and Andretti debutsUPDATE IndyCar driver Marco Andretti joined the Honda Racing F1 Team in Jerez today for his first drive in an F1 car. The team offered the opportunity to Marco to drive the RA106 race car in recognition of his achievements in the Honda-powered IndyCar series this year. Marco began running shortly after 9am this morning with an installation lap, followed by several short runs to familiarize himself with the car and get used to the controls. He completed 33 laps before the morning session came to a close.

Marco was back on track at the start of the afternoon session and continued to steadily improve to his lap times as he completed a further 35 laps for a total of 68 laps today.

Marco Andretti
“First of all I couldn’t have had more fun today and it’s a shame that it was only a day! It took me a little while to get used to the traction control and the brakes but once I got to grips with them, the times were more and more consistent. I would like to say a big thank you to the Honda Racing F1 Team on how professional and welcoming they have been this week, and I’m sure that they will have a good season next year.”

Gil de Ferran - Sporting Director
“It’s been great to have Marco with the team and in the car today. He did a good job and acclimatized himself well to the unfamiliar surroundings in the very short time that a one-day test provides. Marco looked comfortable straightaway with the car and the track, and overall it was a good first experience in a Formula One car.” Honda

12/15/06 Lewis Hamilton was the fastest Friday during testing at Jerez in Spain. Wearing a plain helmet and driving an unmarked car, his new McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso was third.

Champ Car driver Sebastien Bourdais ended up 12th overall with a best lap of 1:21.277 to end his three days of running with Scuderia Toro Rosso and showed a good improvement over all three days to prove he definitely is F1 material.

IRL rookie of the year Marco Andretti completed 67 laps for Honda Racing and was 14th quickest.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:19.493 100
 2. Kovalainen Renault (B) 1:19.586 92
 3. Alonso McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:19.750 95
 4. Fisichella Renault (B) 1:19.798 100
 5. Klien Honda (B) 1:19.835 121
 6. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:19.894 125
 7. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:19.899 38
 8. Vettel BMW-Sauber (B) 1:20.069 117
 9. Liuzzi Red Bull-Ferrari (B) 1:20.191 72
10. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:20.854 104
11. Gene Ferrari (B) 1:21.015 98
12. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Cosworth (B) 1:21.277 100
13. Wurz Williams-Toyota (B) 1:21.368 64
14. Andretti Honda (B) 1:21.888 67
15. Speed Toro Ross-Cosworth (B) 1:23.315 14

12/15/06
Racing News
Infineon sells Jim Russell Racing school Infineon sells Jim Russell Racing schoolOfficials from Infineon Raceway today announced the sale of the Jim Russell Racing Schools to a London-based automotive marketing group.

Emotive Group, whose United States division operates the Formula BMW USA Series, has purchased the property. The school, which was founded in 1957 by British racing champion Jim Russell, was the world’s first training facility for racecar drivers and has been based at Infineon Raceway since 1996. The raceway had purchased the school in 2005.

The purchase is part of a worldwide project by Emotive Group, which will provide driver training for the champions of tomorrow. The group will bring substantial industry experience, as well as world-class marketing and advertising experience to the current Jim Russell Racing Schools business model. The school will remain based at Infineon Raceway.

Drivers who have honed their skills over the years at the Jim Russell Racing Schools include current Formula One driver Scott Speed, 1995 Indianapolis 500 champion Danny Sullivan and two-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Tony Stewart, among others.

Emotive Group will unveil its plans, as well as a substantial launch, during the 2007 motor racing season. All questions for Emotive Group should be directed to info@emo.tv.

12/15/06
nascar
Brian France in car accident, admits to drinking Brian France in car accident, admits to drinkingUPDATE #4 NASCAR CEO Brian France admitted to officers he had been drinking the night a woman followed him to his condominium after she observed him driving erratically on U.S. 1. But because police never interviewed France until he was inside his residence, they could not arrest him for DUI, an internal affairs investigation released Thursday shows.  Regardless, Police Chief Mike Chitwood said that once his officers knew who was involved in the incident, they went the extra mile to make sure they followed the law and gave France no special treatment.  More at Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL

12/13/06 Officers who responded to the riverfront condominium of NASCAR President Brian France after a witness reported a man driving "at a very reckless speed" last month, handled the case properly, the State Attorney's Office has said. A letter from the State Attorney's Office sent Friday to Daytona Beach police came after an internal investigation to determine whether officers gave France special treatment the night they went to his Marina Pointe residence. On Nov. 6, a motorist called 911 after spotting a man in a Lexus racing down Ridgewood Avenue, Orange Avenue and Beach Street. The caller, store clerk Shirley Hill of Daytona Beach, followed France to the guard shack of his condo while she spoke to the dispatcher and described how the man was driving on curbs, struck a parked car and then scraped a tree. Hill had no idea the driver she was pursuing was the NASCAR CEO until a condo security guard told her. When questioned, France told officers he was driving and drinking a soda when he "bumped into something," the initial report states. When police checked the inside of his four-door car, they saw evidence of a spilled soft drink. The 44-year-old France was not cited and he was not given a field sobriety test. Police at the scene said he did not smell of alcohol, Chief Mike Chitwood said at the time. However, the same week the incident occurred, Chitwood ordered an internal-affairs investigation into how the officers handled the case. The chief said he asked the State Attorney's Office to weigh in on the matter because he wanted to know whether his officers should have leveled some kind of charge against France. But in a two-sentence letter dated Dec. 8, Assistant State Attorney Robert J. Bobek wrote: "Based on the report you provided, we believe the officers took the appropriate action." Results of the internal affairs investigation were not released Tuesday and Chitwood could not be reached for comment. Daytona Beach News Journal

11/10/06 According to this USA Today article, there are allegations that Brian France may have been driving drunk and was given preferential treatment by the police to cover it up.

11/09/06 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Interesting that Brian France was driving a Lexus. Was it a freebie from Toyota or does Brian just appreciate Lexus' renowned quality and refinement so much that he spent his own money on one? Beats a Chevy, that's for sure. Name Withheld

11/09/06 According to a Daytona Beach police report, Brian France crashed his Lexus four-door sedan into a tree just outside his condominium on Marina Point Drive. Police said Magnolia Avenue resident Shirley Hill saw France enter the parking lot of the Chart House restaurant just after 9pm/et. Monday and plow into a tree on the property. At that point, the 44-year-old France backed up his car and slid into the underground parking garage of the nearby Marina Point condominium, where he has a unit, the report shows. Hill called police and reported the wreck. Police Chief Mike Chitwood said officers called France downstairs that night to ask what had happened. France did not return a telephone call to The Daytona Beach News-Journal on Wednesday, but the report shows he told police he was drinking a soda and driving when he "bumped something" and the drink spilled in his car. Officers inspected the interior of the car and found the remains of the soda on the dashboard and front seat, the report shows. They also spotted debris from a palm tree on France's passenger door, but no damaged tree in the Chart House parking lot, the report states. It is not clear why Hill was driving behind France on Beach Street and what France actually struck. Hill could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Chitwood said officers at the scene did not ask France to perform a field sobriety test because, "He did not smell of alcohol or anything like that." Daytona Beach News Journal
12/15/06
alms
JEANRICHARD expands Autocon sponsorship JEANRICHARD expands Autocon sponsorshipAutocon Motorsports and Tradema of America today announced the timepiece brand JEANRICHARD will be the team's primary sponsor during the 12-race 2007 schedule that comprises the American Le Mans Series, the leading sports car racing platform in the world.

"Every year we've explored new ways to leverage our sponsorship programs, and Autocon always proves inventive and totally committed to helping us build the brand and drive sales," explained Tradema of America President and Chief Executive Officer Ronald Jackson. "This coming year's effort takes advantage of what's worked best, and mixes in some new twists." zzzz

A noticeable differentiator will be dressing the team's assets in JEANRICHARD brand colors and imagery. In the past two years, the brand was positioned as an associate sponsor for Autocon and Miracle Motorsports. Autocon's Lola EX257, its transporter and paddock area, driver and crew uniforms, web site and materials will be fitted with a look developed by ESBG Design.

"Applying the brand to a team in a comprehensive way will help make a connection between the brand and the fans who tend to follow their favorite cars and drivers," said Team Owner and Driver Michael Lewis. "I can't think of a better time (with the arrival of more big name teams to the series) than this coming year to become a visual fixture and fan favorite in the series."

In addition to the team partnerships, for the past three years, JEANRICHARD has been the official timekeeper of the American Le Mans Series and has generated excellent commercial media value through that arrangement.

"The best way to be involved is as an official series partner, and as the lead sponsor for a team. The combination provides national exposure through the vast media assets of the series, and connectivity with the emotions of the fans through the car and drivers," added Jackson, who said an announcement about JEANRICHARD's series involvement is due out soon.

Driver Chris McMurry will wear the JEANRICHARD helmet he wore throughout the 2006 schedule, which makes 2007 the first year he hasn't arrived at the season's first race, the 12 Hours of Sebring, with a new look for his lid. The helmet's dramatic, detailed graphic design depicts JEANRICHARD's in-house manufactured watch movement know as the JR1000, which is the heart of the timepieces produced by the factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

"Ron and I have talked about tweaking the design a little, just to keep the streak of new helmet designs alive. But, we've also said to ourselves, ‘why mess with a good thing?' After all, we led our first ALMS race ever as a team with that helmet, and managed a couple of podium finishes against the stiffest prototype competition in the world," said McMurry, whose helmet was painted by leading motor sports graphic design firm Troy Lee Designs. Seven limited edition helmet replicas were produced and used as part of a watch sales promotion in 2006.

12/15/06
nascar
Johnson wins Economaki award Johnson wins Economaki awardORLANDO, FL – Consistently among the top 10 NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers in terms of on-track performance and fan appreciation, Jimmie Johnson, winner of this year’s Nextel Cup championship, was selected as the recipient of the 2006 Economaki Champion of Champions Award presented by Rockett Brand Racing Fuel and America's Weekly Motorsport Authority, National Speed Sport News.

Chris Economaki, legendary editor of National Speed Sport News and namesake of this special trophy which recognizes the racer who best excels in his role as a leader of the sport, announced Johnson as the winner at the 19th Annual Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Orlando, FL. Unfortunately, Johnson was unable to attend, as he was traveling to this weekend’s Race of Champions Nations Cup in Paris where he had been scheduled to compete. A broken wrist eliminated him, but he will attend as a consultant to Team USA. zzzz

Johnson was informed earlier of his selection as this year’s winner, the fourth recipient of the Economaki Champion of Champions award, and prepared a statement:

“It’s an honor. I just wish I had enough time in the off-season to go to each one of these events and tell them how honored I am that they selected me for their award. Our media and fans are so important to the health of our sport, and any time I can give a little bit back, I like to do that.”

The winner of 23 Nextel Cup races in only five seasons at the top level of NASCAR, Johnson wrapped up his first driver’s championship last month and was honored at the annual series awards ceremony in New York. His successful season capped a whirlwind year for Johnson, who won the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 en route to the title.

In addition to honoring the individual who has made a valued contribution to racing, the Economaki Champion of Champions Award celebrates the passionate spirit of the award’s namesake, Chris Economaki, and the passion he has instilled in the world of racing through his legendary broadcasting and publishing career. - more -
2-2-2-2

“Jimmie really deserves this award as he has been one of the most exciting drivers to watch in all of motorsports,” noted Economaki, in announcing Johnson’s win. “We wanted to recognize Jimmie for his success in racing and for the respect his fellow racers have for him.”

NASCAR Vice President of Communications Jim Hunter has been quoted as saying that Johnson is the “kind of person NASCAR needs its champion to be. He's well spoken and a passionate racer, who is goal-oriented," Hunter said. "He's just an all-American guy."

This “All-American guy” grew up in El Cajon, CA, and began winning races at age 8. Yet, the NASCAR Nextel Cup championship has eluded him, despite his strong performances year after year, until now. Johnson joins previous Economaki Champion of Champions winners NHRA’s Tony Schumacher, World of Outlaw’s Steve Kinser, J.J. Yeley (who represented USAC at the time of his award).

“To be included with some of my racing heroes is something that I never dreamed of, and to say it is a thrill is an understatement,” Johnson went on to say. “I love our sport and its history and to know some day 100 years from now that my name will be listed as one of the Economaki Champion of Champions winners is something that makes me very proud.”

“We’re proud of Jimmie and delighted to have him join this important group of racers,”
said Corinne Economaki, publisher of National Speed Sport News. “Obviously, Jimmie is a champion and extremely dedicated to both the sport and race fans in general. He’s a perfect choice for the Economaki Champion of Champions.”

“On behalf of all the Rockett Brand Racing Fuel employees and customers, we congratulate Jimmie and salute his fantastic season,” added Jack Day, president of Rockett Brand. “He truly deserves this award.”

With more than 50 years of motorsports knowledge and experience, Rockett Brand Racing Fuel, a privately held company, specializes in performance racing fuel formulation. Every gallon of Rockett Brand 100, 111, 114 and 118 octane gasoline has been developed to deliver unbeatable performance advantages and unwavering consistency born from a continuing commitment to be the world’s best performing racing fuel. For additional information, call 1-800-345-0076, or visit www.rockettbrand.com. Rockett Brand will be exhibiting at PRI Trade Show, booths 5543, 5545.

Since 1934, National Speed Sport News been the authoritative voice of motorsports, providing race coverage that is timely, accurate and colorful. Edited since 1950 by the legendary Chris Economaki, and written by some of racing’s most talented reporters and columnists, National Speed Sport News covers every series, every track, every week. The newspaper is the must-read for serious fans, drivers, crew members and industry leaders alike. National Speed Sport News is the only motorsports periodical on Library of Congress microfilm.

For more information, contact National Speed Sport News, P.O. Box 1210, Harrisburg, NC, 28075, or call 704.455.2531; toll-free at 866.455.2531; fax: 704.455.2605, or visit the website at: www.nationalspeedsportnews.com.

12/15/06
score
Plans for 40th SCORE Baja 1000 announced Plans for 40th SCORE Baja 1000 announcedTIJUANA, Mexico—Starting the launch of a nearly year-long anniversary celebration, plans for next year’s 40th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race were unveiled today during a media conference at the Caliente Racetrack in Tijuana, Mexico. With major festivities planned in Tijuana and Ensenada along with a 1,200-plus mile race to the tip of the Baja California peninsula in Cabo San Lucas, the 2007 granddaddy of all desert races will be held Nov. 10-16.

In making the announcement, Sal Fish, SCORE CEO and President, praised the efforts of government and tourism officials in both states of Baja California and Baja California Sur, saying, “We would not be here today if it were not for the coordinated efforts and cooperation of both of these Mexican states and its counties. This anniversary celebration is a monumental undertaking and it will be the most memorable in the long and storied history of the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in large part due to the dedicated efforts of the people of the Baja Peninsula.”

Starting with special festivities in the heart of Tijuana on Saturday, Nov. 10, and a unique parade of vehicles, and all of the colorful traditional pre-race pageantry will once again be held in Ensenada on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 11, and all day Monday, Nov. 12). zzzz 

The green flag will drop in Ensenada on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 13 and the last checkered flag will drop in Cabo San Lucas during the early morning of Friday, Nov. 16. In between Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas, the 1,200-plus mile course will traverse much of the ruggedly majestic Baja California peninsula.

Nearly 500 sturdy adventurers, from over 40 U.S. States and 20 countries, are expected to compete 28 Pro and 5 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“The SCORE Baja 1000 continues to draw interest from all over the world and we now find second and even third generation racers appearing at the starting line with their family patriarchs cheering for their children,” said Fish. “This event continues to be the focal point of the SCORE Desert Series each year and to celebrate our 40th anniversary may just add the most colorful chapter to the legacy of the SCORE Baja 1000.”

Among the festivities planned for Saturday (Nov. 10) in Tijuana are: a special SCORE Baja Leap competition at the Tijuana River bed. At the Tijuana City Hall Plaza a SCORE Baja Pit Crew Challenge will be held, followed by a Xtreme MX Acrobatics show.  Concluding Saturday’s pre-race celebration will be a memorable SCORE Baja 1000 40th Anniversary Welcome party on Revolution Avenue.

On Sunday (Nov. 11) Tijuana pre-race celebration will culminate with a historic parade of SCORE entries from Tijuana’s Bull Ring (where the legend began in 1967) through the main streets of Tijuana down the Toll Road to Ensenada, starting at 11 a.m. and arriving at 2 p.m.

Once in Ensenada, all of the popular and traditional pre-race activities will be held. On Sunday, Nov. 11, the arrival fiesta of the race entries will be held at the Ventana al Mar from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. with autograph sessions, photo opportunities, a vendor village and live music.

Also on Sunday, racer registration will be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the San Nicolas Hotel.
 
Monday’s pre-race activities (Nov. 12) in Ensenada will continue with racer registration at the San Nicolas (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and the colorful SCORE manufacturer’s midway, contingency and tech inspection of all race vehicles from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. adjacent to the San Nicolas.  The pre-race driver/rider briefing will be held at 7 p.m. in the Cathedral Room of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center.

The magnificent start of the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 will once again be on Blvd. Costero starting with motorcycles and ATVs at 6:30 a.m. followed by the cars and trucks at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13.  The start will once again include the extremely popular and spectator-friendly run up the Ensenada Wash.

While exact details of the race route are still being finalized, SCORE officials said it will be similar to the 2006 SCORE Baja 1000 before heading over to Todos Santos and then to an amazing three-day long finish line SCORE Survivor’s Celebration in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur.
   
For more information regarding SCORE International, contact 818.225.8402 or visit the official website of the SCORE Desert Series at www.score-international.com.

12/15/06
Industry News
Mulally shakes the tree at Ford Mulally shakes the tree at FordNew Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally is showing his influence at the Dearborn automaker. More executives will directly report to Mulally, who will take control of international and global operations. The changes also address Mulally's desire to make a more responsive management structure.

Mulally also promoted Derrick Kuzak, 55, as the new global product development chief for Ford. Kuzak is one of the executives who will report directly to Mulally, who took over in October. Kuzak's primary job is streamlining product development and engineering systems worldwide.

The executive moves announced Thursday came the same day Merrill Lynch upgraded its recommendation on Ford's shares to neutral from sell. The brokerage is pleased with Ford's successful financing project, which has made $25.45 billion in cash available to Ford as it restructures. Ford shares closed at $7.11 Thursday, up 23 cents, or 3.34% Detroit Free Press

12/15/06
f1
White helmeted-Alonso tests at Jerez White helmeted-Alonso tests at Jerez(GMM) Fernando Alonso made his test debut in an unbranded McLaren at Jerez shortly after 9am on Friday.

The Spaniard, who remains under contract to Renault until the last day of 2006, strolled into pitlane wearing a plain white racing suit, jet black boots and - due to the chilly morning weather - a black jacket.

His 2006-spec MP4-21 car - used by countryman Pedro de la Rosa at Jerez before the last-minute deal with Flavio Briatore was struck - had all sponsor decals removed, and 25-year-old Alonso pulled on a white helmet with a dark visor.

Photographers huddled at the exit of the garage for his first installation lap, and members of McLaren's pitlane neighbor - Renault - also peered left for a glimpse of their back to back champion in a silver racer.

12/15/06
TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

World Supercross Vancouver
3:00am-4:00am (R) SPEED
NASCAR Beyond the Wheel Lowe's
9:00am-9:30am (R) SPEED
7 Days -Robert "Bootie" Barker
9:30am-10:00am (R) SPEED
2006 Race Of Champions Nations Cup Paris
11:00am-3:00pm (L) HDNet
24 Hours at the Nurburgring -2006 Highlights Germany
2:00pm-3:00pm SPEED

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

12/15/06
cc
Las Vegas mayor revved up over Grand Prix Las Vegas mayor revved up over Grand PrixMartha & the Vandellas meet Oscar Goodman.

If you're wondering why the World's Happiest Mayor is downright giddy this week, it's because he has been dancing in the streets.

This past Sunday, Hizzoner set his alarm so he wouldn't miss the New Las Vegas Marathon, which for the second year was run up and down the Strip. Somebody even said they saw him sipping on a Red Bull at the crack of dawn, although I'm sure his was probably spiked with Bombay Sapphire.

The next morning, Oscar Mayor had made his way downtown, where doughnuts were being served for breakfast. Only these weren't the Krispy and Kremey kind. They were the really loud and smoky kind.

To kick off the ticket drive for the inaugural Vegas Grand Prix, which will be April 6-8, Champ Car drivers Ryan Dalziel and Alex Figge squeezed into their magnificent flying machines and began spinning their wheels in big, looping arcs - at the intersection of Ogden Avenue and Third Street in front of the Celebrity Theatre. Drivers who win auto races call this visceral display of rubber meeting road "making doughnuts."

When Figge's car nearly jumped the curb, I thought we were going to lose one Las Vegas celebrity. Mayor Goodman was standing a little too close to the yellow crime scene tape, which was somebody's idea of a protective barrier.

"I drink to excess," the World's Shakiest Mayor said upon being introduced at the news conference. "I didn't think anything could take the place of Bombay Sapphire gin in my life, but that was really awesome.

"I think I'm going to watch from the 10th floor of City Hall, feeling very secure."  More at Las Vegas Sun

12/15/06
f1
Faces at Jerez: day three Faces at Jerez: day three(GMM)  Michael Andretti, Ayrton Senna's abortive McLaren teammate in 1993, arrived at the Jerez circuit on Thursday to prepare for his son's F1 test debut.

Impressive Indycar rookie Marco Andretti, 19, will test for Honda on Friday, and while team chiefs have played down the significance of his debut, Nick Fry said yesterday: "Clearly if he enjoys himself and we think there's a spark there, there's the opportunity to do more."

Andretti was also spotted behind the spectator fences at the Spanish test venue in conversation with Honda's sporting director Gil de Ferran, who retains close ties with the American race scene.

As one F1 career blossoms this week, another ends -- 40-year-old veteran Olivier Panis completed just 27 laps as he tested for the last time.

The Toyota driver picked up a cold while ice racing last week and had to stop early.  "I did not feel good today," the Frenchman said.

As the Cologne based team started its three day session alone on Tuesday, it now departs Jerez to leave nine teams in action on Friday.

Another Frenchman, Champ Car star Sebastien Bourdais, matched the pace of Toro Rosso's 2006 lineup Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed on his second day at the wheel.

He drives again on Friday.

12/15/06
f1
Ferrari deny January date for '07 car debut Ferrari deny January date for '07 car debut(GMM)  A spokesman has denied reports that Ferrari will give its unnamed 2007 single seater a track debut on 16 January -- the same day as the new Renault's maiden test.

"No, it's not true," Ferrari's head of the motor sport press office, Luca Colajanni, said from his office in Maranello.

The famous Italian squad's veteran test driver Luca Badoer, meanwhile, said at Jerez on Thursday that retired seven world champion Michael Schumacher is keeping up to date with Ferrari's pre-season progress.

"He receives in real time on his computer the information that we gather, and he can see at any moment the data from the telemetry," the Italian told the sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I keep talking to him regularly, and because I know him well I am not at all surprised that he keeps on being interested in things."

Badoer, however, insisted that it is "too soon" to expect Schumacher to test a red car in the near future.

12/15/06
f1
Alonso to test for McLaren on Friday Alonso to test for McLaren on Friday(GMM) Fernando Alonso traveled to southern Spain last night ahead of his surprise test debut for McLaren on Friday, the website of Spanish newspaper Diario As reports.

As.com claims that Renault boss Flavio Briatore gave the green light for a contract reprieve at lunchtime on Thursday, allowing the back to back world champion to drive an unbranded white MP4-21 on the last day of 2006 testing.

Alonso will take over Pedro de la Rosa's test car, which set the fastest lap of the nineteen runners on day two.

'As' says Alonso spoke personally with Briatore about the issue at the FIA awards last Friday, after they received their trophies for winning the drivers' and constructors' titles this year.

Alonso's personal manager, Luis Garcia-Abbot, subsequently met with Briatore in London this week, ahead of a last-minute decision to allow the driver to test. Alonso had checked into the nearby Montecastillo Hotel on Thursday without knowing if he would test.

Alonso's old Renault teammate Jarno Trulli, meanwhile, warned the reigning champion to expect a tough season in 2007.

The Toyota driver told Diario As: "Even a champion cannot win without a good car, and at the moment McLaren are behind Renault and Ferrari."

12/15/06
f1
Spyker wins allies for customer car fight Spyker wins allies for customer car fight(GMM) Colin Kolles says he has recruited the support of three crucial formula one allies in his crusade against illegal customer cars.

The Spyker chief recently wrote a letter to his team principal colleagues about the issue and then organized a meeting that was held in Monaco last Friday.

Kolles is concerned that Super Aguri and Toro Rosso, respectively tied closely to 'parent' teams Honda and Red Bull, intend to break the rules in 2007 by racing cars that they did not design and build.

He told the Dutch magazine 'Sportweek' that Toyota, Williams and McLaren strongly support his argument.

"Last year it was me by myself," he said, "but now Red Bull have Adrian Newey doing their car and Honda have won a race.

"The situation has changed."

Kolles suggested that if an acceptable solution to the teams' complaint is not found, as a last resort they could refer the matter to "arbitration".

He said Spyker is particularly sensitive to Toro Rosso and Super Aguri's questionable tactics because only the top ten constructors get access to F1's multi million dollar television revenue.

12/15/06
ga
Synergy team announces Rolex 24 lineup Synergy team announces Rolex 24 lineupSynergy Racing will have an all-star Porsche GT line-up behind the wheel of its No. 81 Porsche GT3 Cup at the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 27-28. European Porsche racers Patrick Huisman, Richard Westbrook and Richard Lietz will join American Steve Johnson for the historic endurance race.
 
Dutchman Huisman is a four-time Porsche Michelin Supercup champion (1997-2000) with a wealth of endurance racing experience, including GT victories in 24-hour races at Le Mans (1999), Nurburgring (2000) and Zolder (1997-98), as well as a win in the 12 Hours of Sebring (1999).
 
Westbrook scored podium finishes at every Porsche Michelin Supercup race last season securing his spot in history as the first-ever Englishman to take the series championship. The 31-year-old racer's resume also includes the 2004 Carrera Cup Great Britain championship after finishing as runner-up to the championship in 2002 and 2003.
 
Austria's Lietz burst onto the Porsche Michelin Supercup scene as a rookie in 2006, finishing third in the championship standings with three victories. The 22 year old had past success in the Carrera Cup Germany, finishing third and fourth in the championship standings in 2005 and 2004, respectively. He also took the Formula 3 German championship in 2002.
 
Rounding out the driving foursome is Virginia-resident Johnson, whose first all-star appearance came on the football field instead of the racetrack. A former member of the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys, as well as an All-American Honorable Mention from Virginia Tech, Johnson turned his focus to the racetrack in 2003. Last season, he finished seventh in the Rolex Series GT championship as a rookie driver.
12/15/06
ga
$100K race purses for 2007 $100K race purses for 2007The 2007 Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series will offer the richest purses in series history with today’s announcement at the 2006 Grand-Am Cup Series Awards Celebration that each of the 12 races will pay out $100,000 per event, including up to $10,000 for a victory in the Grand Sport (GS) class.

The GS winning team will earn a minimum of $5,000 for a race victory, but could double its winnings to $10,000 if the team uses KONI shocks. Second place in GS will pay $3,750 for teams not using KONI shocks or $7,500 for teams using KONI, with $2,500 going to the third-place finisher in GS without KONI or $5,000 for teams using KONI. zzzz

The Street Tuner (ST) class has a similar structure, with $3,750 going to the class winner if the team does not use KONI and $7,500 for a winning team with KONI, followed by $2,500 or $5,000 for the second-place finisher and $1,750 or $3,500 for third in ST. Both classes will pay out to the top-20 positions, with double the purse for any top-20 finisher using KONI shocks.

“Clearly, our competitors are already seeing the benefits of KONI’s new sponsorship of the KONI Challenge Series,” said Grand American Road Racing Association President Roger Edmondson. “Teams will have until the 2009 season to convert their race cars to KONI shocks, but the opportunity to double their earnings by using KONI should be tantalizing to a considerable number of our competitors. Certainly, KONI’s involvement in the series has been significant in allowing us to offer the largest purses we’ve ever had.”

Prior to the 2007 season, the Grand-Am Cup Series purses were based on a percentage of fees from entries that started each race. As a result, this number fluctuated throughout the season depending on the number of cars that took the green flag in each individual race. At no time in series history, however, did the race purse total anywhere near $100,000, which is guaranteed for 2007.

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