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Bernie attack won't split FOTA - Howett  (GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone's angry rejoinder to Luca di Montezemolo recently could be an attempt to split the unified F1 teams' alliance.

That is the suspicion of John Howett, president of the Toyota team and also Montezemolo's deputy in the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA).

Ecclestone, F1 chief executive and in charge of the sport's commercial rights, lashed out at Montezemolo after the Ferrari president revealed his desire to see F1 restructured.

Bernie, 78, said Ferrari is hypocritical to ask for more money because it receives "$80 million more" than another team for winning the world championship.

But Howett suggested that if Ecclestone's desire is to split FOTA, which is currently unified and therefore influential, revealing Ferrari's preferential commercial deal is not the way to do it.

"He may be trying to (split FOTA) but all the information that was given is very transparent and openly shared among the members, so it was a bit of a non-event because everybody is aware of the historic status (of Ferrari)," he told The Times.

FIA president Max Mosley believes FOTA's unity is yet to be tested fully.

"I think the teams are more united now because there are outside pressures on formula one," he told F1's official website.

"The real tests of unity will come when there is a significant difference of opinion or when vital interests are threatened," he added.

Toyota to stay in F1, cut costs  (GMM)  Toyota has countered speculation it may join its Japanese rival Honda in withdrawing from formula one.

Not yet three weeks after Honda said it would no longer contest grands prix, Toyota admitted it is set to record its first operating loss since before World War II.

"We have absolutely no plans to withdraw from formula one," a spokeswoman told the British newspaper The Guardian.

She intimated, however, that Toyota is set to implement its own measures to reduce its annual spend on formula one, over and above the regulated FIA cost-cutting.

To reporters in Japan, Toyota Motor Corporation president Katsuaki Watanabe added: "To keep it up at the current level is extremely difficult."

Another spokesman said: "The financial results don't change anything for us in the formula one team.  Our situation has not changed."

The Cologne based team's president, John Howett, backed fellow FOTA luminary Luca di Montezemolo in calling for a greater than 50 per cent share of the sport's commercial revenue for the teams.

"I believe in the Champions League it is upwards of 96–97 per cent of revenues that is redistributed depending on where you finish, whereas at the moment we receive 50 per cent.

"So given the current circumstances people would like to reopen that discussion," he said.

Fiat pays $10.6m in Iraq settlement  Fiat, Italy’s car and truck maker, on Monday admitted to “regrettable incidents” in its trade with the former Iraqi regime under the United Nations’ oil-for-food program and agreed to pay $10.6m to settle accusations of kickbacks investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC said in a statement that Fiat and CNH Global, a subsidiary, paid more than $4.3m to Iraqi officials in the Saddam Hussein regime from 2000 to 2003 for the sale of “humanitarian goods”, including vehicles, equipment and parts. The kickbacks were disguised as “after sales service fees”.

As part of the settlement, Fiat and CNH did not admit or deny any wrongdoing. Germany’s Siemens last week agreed to pay fines to settle bribery allegations, in part involving Iraq.

“The settlements close a regrettable incident which happened in the long-ago history of the Fiat Group,” a Fiat spokeswoman in Milan told Reuters news agency.

The SEC alleged that money was diverted from the UN escrow account and “into Iraqi-controlled accounts at banks in countries such as Jordan”. A Dubai-based firm, which was not named, acted as a front company for Iraq.

Fiat’s Iveco truck subsidiary arranged the kickbacks from its Egypt office, the SEC said. Agents’ fees of 15 per cent to 25 per cent of the total UN contract price were funneled back to Iraq as kickbacks, the SEC said. A line item on Iveco documents was identified as “pay-back”, it added.

Case France, a subsidiary of Fiat’s CNH Global, also engaged in kickbacks after armed Iraqi officials entered its Baghdad offices demanding payments, the SEC said. A second CNH Global subsidiary, New Holland, also paid kickbacks on the sale of tractors, it said.

As well as paying two penalties totaling $10.6m, Fiat was ordered to return $5.3m in profits and $1.9m in prejudgment interest. In making the settlement, the SEC said it took into consideration “remedial acts promptly undertaken” by Fiat and CNH Global.

Fiat’s kickbacks were paltry compared to the billions that were funneled illegally to the Iraqi regime under the oil-for-food scheme which was riddled with corruption, involving officials of various governments. Much of Iraq’s oil was sold to the US, which was one of several countries in charge of supervising sanctions against Iraq before the invasion in 2003. FT.com

Triad Racing Technologies Acquires Triad Racing Development  Triad Racing Technologies (TRT) announced today that the company will acquire Triad Racing Development, a major supplier of engines, chassis and bodies for NASCAR Camping World, Nationwide and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams.

In addition to the acquisition of Triad Racing Development, the owners also purchased a majority interest in Bill Davis Racing.

“This is an exciting time for us,” said Marty Gaunt, co-owner of TRT.

“With the changing economic landscape, we see this as an opportunity to service existing Toyota teams and build the business by providing cost effective engine support and chassis production to all racing teams regardless of manufacturer association.” Gaunt along with business partner, Michael Held, entered into the agreement to purchase Triad this week. More ...

Bernie whips Max in Christmas card  UPDATE Added photo of Bernie's Christmas Card mocking Mosley below.

Bernie's Christmas Card
12/22/08 (GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone's mischievous sense of humor has returned in the latest edition of his personalized annual Christmas card.

Last year, the F1 chief executive poked fun at the McLaren-Ferrari spy scandal, depicting a nervous Ron Dennis being handed a gift-wrapped present by former chief designer Mike Coughlan.

And now, despite pushing for Max Mosley to quit amid this year's sex scandal, the FIA president is the butt of Bernie's latest Christmas joke.

The cartoon shows Mosley whipping an F1 team member, as his pitwall monitor depicts a woman in fishnet stockings and high heels.

Other F1 personnel are seen clutching sore bottoms, the Daily Star newspaper said, while 78-year-old Bernie brandishes Band-Aids.

The message inside the card reads: "Usual team punishment, just a special for Christmas.  Have a happy one.  Bernie."

Asked if he thinks Mosley will be offended, Ecclestone said: "I don't know.  We'll see."

Ferrari hires former Toro Rosso Team Manager  Ferrari has hired Scuderia Toro Rosso team manager Massimo Rivola to oversee sporting activity and logistics, and giving Kimi Raikkonen a new race engineer in Andrea Stella.

"The operations direction disappears and Mario Almondo has become responsible for quality at Gestione Industriale (the road car division)," team principal Stefano Domenicali told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Massimo Rivola, previously at STR, will manage the sporting activity and logistics, regulations and circuits. Production and quality will go under the technical direction of Aldo Costa.

"We'll also have some changes on our on-track organization, still led by Luca Baldisserri. Andrea Stella - who already worked on Raikkonen's car as performance engineer - has been promoted to race engineer, while Chris Dyer (Raikkonen's former race engineer) has been appointed to a coordinating role over the engineers, including the test team. He will respond to Baldisserri.

"Diego Ioverno will be responsible for assembling, with the aid of (former Super Aguri team manager) Mick Ainsley-Cowlinshaw. We also have a man responsible for KERS development: it's Thierry Baritaud."

Dalziel Confirms 2009 Season with Alegra  Scotland’s Ryan Dalziel heads into the Christmas period eagerly anticipating the New Year and a brand new challenge in 2009.  The 26-year-old has now finalized his plans to return to the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Presented by Crown Royal Cask No.16 competing for the Miami-based Alegra Motorsports squad – the former ‘Rolex 24 at Daytona’ GT Champions graduating up to the Daytona Prototype class next season.

Dalziel’s first competitive outing for the team, headed by owner-driver Carlos de Quesada, will be the 47th edition of the ‘Rolex 24 at Daytona’ hosted at the Daytona International Speedway, Thursday 22nd – Sunday 25th January 2009.  Piloting the team’s BMW-Riley Daytona Prototype entry, Ryan’s team-mates for the famed event, where he finished runner-up in 2007, will be the aforementioned de Quesada (US), Chapman Ducote (US), Jean-Francois Dumoulin (CAN) and Tomas Enge (CZH).

Alegra’s new-look line-up will take to the track for the first time at the scheduled Daytona test days, Saturday 3rd – Monday 5th January, where preparations for the 2009 season begin in earnest for the entire Grand-Am field.  More ...

NASCAR looking to fill four sponsor categories  NASCAR will go into 2009 with openings in at least four categories - rental car, quick-service restaurant, home improvement store and digital photography - while five other sponsors renewed their official status deals. The biggest defection comes from Home Depot, which has spent the last 10 years as NASCAR's official home improvement warehouse. It is one of four official partners that decided not to renew its league deal amid budget constraints. Enterprise, Domino's Pizza and Kodak also elected to let their official status deals expire. These agreements, which normally range from three to five years in length, typically go for the low seven figures annually. Jim O'Connell, NASCAR's vice president of corporate marketing, characterized the departures as "companies that are leaving the sport entirely. They all had bad years, earnings-wise, and they're looking at tighter budgets." Domino's and Kodak also vacated team deals in the past year - Domino's at Michael Waltrip Racing and Kodak at Penske Racing. Among the sponsors that renewed with multiyear deals are Mars, Office Depot, Tylenol, Unilever and Craftsman. The overall reduction going into 2009 leaves NASCAR with 38 official partners, including the four auto manufacturers, about 10 fewer than three years ago. Another pair of sponsors remain in limbo as 2008 comes to a close. DuPont is in negotiations to extend its contract with the sanctioning body, as is Sony. Sports Business Journal
Mars candy renews with NASCAR  Mars North America announced today that it will extend its contract as an official NASCAR partner.

The multiyear sponsorship designates Mars as the official chocolate of NASCAR (M&M's brand), official chocolate bar of NASCAR (Snickers brand), official cheese-filled snack of NASCAR (Combos brand) and official pet food of NASCAR (Pedigree brand).

"The relationship between Mars and NASCAR is a win-win," said Suzanne Beaudoin, vice president, sponsorships and sports marketing, Mars North America. "Whether tailgating at the Talladega infield or having friends over to watch qualifying at Bristol, Mars wants to be part of every race experience. Being an official NASCAR partner illustrates our dedication to the fans, our drivers and the sport, while driving brand affinity and excitement for our brands."

The multiyear partnership aligns Mars with its existing contracts with Joe Gibbs Racing, continuing a relationship that began in 2008. More ...

Bill Davis sells championship NASCAR truck team  NASCAR owner Bill Davis, struggling to keep his team afloat during a fruitless search for sponsorship, has sold majority ownership of both his race team and his engine company. Mike Held, a California businessman, and Marty Gaunt, an executive with Bill Davis Racing, purchased majority interest from Davis. The duo said they've also taken control of Triad Racing Development, which supplied engines, chassis and bodies for all three of NASCAR's top series. Davis, who has been in NASCAR for more than 20 years, won the 2002 Daytona 500 with Ward Burton and the Truck Series championship this season with Johnny Benson. But he lost his Cup team sponsor and has been unable to secure funding for 2009.  Associated Press
Zipoli and Gandolfi sign up for Formula Two  
Marco Zipoli livery
Pietro Gandolfi Livery
Italian drivers Marco Zipoli and Pietro Gandolfi have become the latest two names to sign up for the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship.

18 year-old Marco Zipoli moves to F2 after just two full seasons of car racing. In 2007, he took six victories on his way to securing the runner-up position in the Formula Azzurra Championship, before graduating to Italian F3 in 2008 with Team Minardi. The Genoa-based driver finished sixth in the championship after scoring one podium.

Pietro Gandolfi began his racing career in Italy, completing five races in the Italian Formula Renault Championship in 2006 before joining the Formula Renault 2.0 Suisse Championship for two seasons.

Marco Zipoli said: “I chose F2 because I think it offers me the best chance of progressing through the racing ranks. I have a lot of belief in the F2 format and the prize of a test with the AT&T Williams F1 team is a great motivation. I’m really excited about racing at tracks like Spa-Francorchamps, one of my favorite circuits, and at other great international tracks like Brands Hatch and Imola.”

Pietro Gandolfi said: "I’m very excited about the car, which should be fantastic. For me it will be a step up from Formula Renault, but that just makes me even more motivated. It is great that all the cars are built to the same specification, which means it will all come down to the driver. I’m realistic enough to know that it’s going to be very tough, but I’ve always wanted to compete at the highest level and for me right now the highest level is Formula Two.” More ...

First time Michigan w/o open wheel race in 40 years  Last week's decision to cancel the IndyCar Series Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix for the '09 season leaves Michigan without an open-wheel race for the first time in four decades.
Toyota forecasts $1.66-billion operating loss  Toyota Motor Corp. slashed its earnings forecast again today, projecting that it would report its first operating loss ever for the fiscal year through March on waning global demand and a surging yen.

"The change that has hit the world economy is of a critical scale that comes once in a hundred years," President Katsuaki Watanabe said at the company's Nagoya office. The drop in vehicle sales over the last month was "far faster, wider and deeper than expected."

Japan's top automaker forecast an operating loss of $1.66 billion for the fiscal year ending March 2009 — the first such loss since Toyota began reporting operating figures in 1941. Operating income reflects a company's core business performance and does not include income taxes and certain other expenses. Last fiscal year, Toyota had an operating profit of 2.27 trillion yen.

Sinking sales in the United States in the wake of the financial crisis have dealt a heavy blow to Japanese automakers. But Watanabe said that emerging markets, which had held up in the beginning, were also slowing down now.

The surging yen has battered profits as well by eroding overseas earnings when converted back to yen. The dollar has fallen to 13-year lows of about 90 yen recently.

Japan's top automaker also lowered its net profit forecast to just $555 million for the year through March 2009 — a tiny fraction of the nearly $19 billion it earned last year.  Detroit Free Press

Briatore: 70% cut in costs is possible  Renault boss Flavio Briatore says that Formula One’s image and popularity will not be damaged by drastic reductions in teams’ spending amid the global economic crisis.  The FIA unveiled a radical package of cost-cutting measures earlier in the month with estimated budget savings of around 30 per cent in 2009.

The options for 2010 and beyond – including the availability of cheaper Cosworth engines to smaller teams and the standardization of major components – are expected to slash costs further still.

“The time for looking around the garage for different ways to cut costs is gone,” he told F1 Racing this month. “We have to take an overall look at Formula One.”

“I believe it’s possible to have the same show, or better, for 70 per cent less than we spend now.”

“Fans want to see racing,” he said, “I don’t think they’re interested in what your suspension is made of. We need to keep technology, but races are too predictable”

“Every time we have a good race it’s because something happened with a Safety Car or the weather. We need more fights between drivers.”

“The races should be held at a better time as well - 2pm on a Sunday night is not right. We need to be starting 6pm or 7pm.”

track news
Donington aim to restrict air traffic  Organizers of the 2010 British Grand Prix at Donington are looking to limit the level of air traffic flying in and out of the nearby East Midlands Airport on race day to primarily F1 traffic.  Donington boss Simon Gillett said, “We are working with them to ensure we minimize their traffic,” Gillett told the Loughborough Echo. We don’t necessarily have to fully close them, but we are thinking when the race is on, no one is going to be flying in or out.  The idea is that at peak times the airport has exclusive use for Formula 1 and us.  We’re looking to charter a lot of planes anyway. We would bring people in ourselves from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol, Manchester, London, France, Belgium, Germany, all over Europe.”
Theissen hits back at KERS criticism  
Mario Theissen hits back at KERS critics
(GMM)  Mario Theissen has hit back at his F1 team colleagues who are critical of the deployment of KERS technology in 2009.

BMW-Sauber has been named by fellow competitors as the only team that vetoed plans to delay the use of controversial energy-recovery systems next year.

KERS is an unpopular buzzword in the F1 paddock, as drivers bemoan the safety implications and teams including Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes criticize the expense and lack of road-relevance.

BMW motor sport director Theissen, however, has hit back, insisting that KERS has been scheduled to debut next year "for quite a long time".

In the German news magazine Spiegel, he hit back at the opposition to the technology, saying "that argument not only speaks of a lack of competitiveness but also a reluctance to play a role in the bigger picture."

FIA president Max Mosley recently criticized Ferrari's stated opposition to KERS.

"Could you imagine the great F1 engineers like Chapman or Duckworth saying 'I can't do that because it is too complicated'?" he said.

From Dancing Shoes to Leg Shackles  On September 27, 1997,  race-car driver Helio Castroneves, 22, was standing before a podium at a victory banquet at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California, having just finished second in the tightest points battle in the history of Indy Lights racing. The young Brazilian thanked everyone in an emotion-charged response, finally breaking down in tears of joy and acknowledging the love of a sister.

About 11 years later, on October 3, 2008, Helio Castroneves, 33, again was at a podium, again in tears, his sister behind him. This time his legs were shackled and his hands cuffed, facing a judge to plead not guilty in Miami to charges that he, his sister, and his attorney willfully failed to pay taxes on $5.5 million in income.

Released on $10 million bond, the next day he co-drove a bright yellow Penske Racing, DHL-sponsored Porsche RS Spyder to a class victory at the 1000-mile Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta.

The two-time Indy 500 champion, and a 2007 winner on the smash television show Dancing with the Stars, Castroneves was the Indy Racing League’s potent No. 2 personality behind Danica Patrick. Now he faces 35 years in the slammer, back taxes of $2.17 million, penalties, interest, fines, and, not to mention, the loss of his career. And did we mention deportation?

Breaking down the charges, Castroneves is accused of evading taxes on (a) $550,000 of a personal sponsorship deal (deposited into a Panamanian corporation, with some monies diverted to another Swiss corporation) from 1999 to 2001; (b) $5 million on a “Deferred Royalty Contract” (with a company in the Netherlands) from 2000 to 2002 from his Penske Racing retainer; and (c) under-reporting his income in 2003 and 2004. More at Car & Driver

Ambrose voted Australian Driver of the Year  Marcos Ambrose has been voted as the Australian Driver of the Year by Australian motor racing magazine Auto Action for the second-consecutive year. Ambrose, who is currently at home with his family in his hometown of Launceston, Tasmania, won the award by receiving 41 percent of the vote, which was decided by readers of Auto Action as part of the magazine's annual 'Racer of the Year Awards' issue. Marcos Ambrose PR

[Editor's Note: Let's see, IndyCar drivers Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe, both born in Australia, won races, and in fact Dixon won the title and the Indy 500, yet Ambrose who won, well...er....nothing except a rain effected race in Montreal in the Nationwide cars running on rain tires, and Ambrose gets Australian Driver of the Year!  We're at a loss as to how the magazine could rationalize such a travesty.]

racing news
Quotes of the week  
Luca di Montezemolo calls for Bernie's head
“I think sooner or later he [Ecclestone] has to stop. We now have to look at the future and mainly what we want to do after 2012.  We have to open an important page with Ecclestone and [Donald] Mackenzie [co-founder of CVC Capital Partners, the main owners of Formula One], not only in terms of quantity of money but in terms of how to do many things — circuits, spectators, hospitality, television, types of track and timing of races.  Do you think it is normal that we don’t have one race in North America? Do you think it is normal that we understand from the newspapers that the Canadian Grand Prix is over? Do you think it is normal that we see important sponsors decide to leave the small and moderate-sized teams? Do you think it is normal that we pay unbelievable amounts for hospitality to promote ourselves at the races? Do you think it is normal that we cannot discuss the timing of races? There is no professional sport in the world where the players get less than 50 per cent of the total cake. We want to know more about the revenues." Luca di Montezemolo, President of Ferrari, has dropped heavy hints that he believes that Bernie Ecclestone’s reign as king of Formula One is coming to an end and that it is time for a new approach to the sport in the wake of the cost-cutting deal agreed by the teams and the FIA, the sport’s governing body. 

Bernie Ecclestone exposed Ferrari's little secret and slaps its President down to size
“The only thing he [Luca di Montezemolo] has not mentioned is the extra money. Ferrari get above all the other teams and all the extra things Ferrari have had for years – the ‘general help’ they are considered to have had in Formula One. Ferrari get so much more money than everyone else. They know exactly what they get, they are not that stupid, although they are not that bright, either. They get about $80 million (about £54 million) more. When they win the constructors’ championship, which they did this year, they got $80 million more than if McLaren had won it. They were the only team that broke ranks with the other manufacturers – why did they break ranks? That’s where the $80 million comes in. We ‘bought’ Ferrari. We ‘bought’ Ferrari’s loyalty. Our deal with Ferrari was that we ‘bought’ them so they would not go to the others. They have the right to send people into the company and search for everything. Ferrari in particular, more than anybody, from day one, have had the right and they’ve never done it. We have bankers here and we’ve got CVC (CVC Capital Partners, the principal owners of Formula One) checking every single solitary thing. So anybody that starts saying that we’ve done anything wrong, I’ll sue the a*** off them. What he should do, rather than asking for money, with all the extra money Ferrari gets, he should share all that amongst the teams. It’s a shame he’s not in touch with people that seem to run the company as opposed to what he does – work as a press officer." Bernie Ecclestone, President and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Association
Toyota's president cancels plan to attend Detroit show  Toyota Motor Corp. President Katsuaki Watanabe has canceled plans to attend the North American International Auto Show next month, company sources said.

Watanabe, a regular visitor to the show since becoming president and CEO of Toyota in 2005, had intended to come to the 2009 show, where Toyota will unveil the next Prius hybrid as well as a hybrid for the premium Lexus line.

The company had no immediate comment on his change of plans.

But the number of executives from foreign companies attending the show appears to be down.

Briatore plays Santa in Kenya  (GMM)  Flavio Briatore should have been wearing a Santa's beard when he touched down for Christmas on the cost of Kenya.

The Renault boss, who has arrived in east Africa to spend the forthcoming holidays at his resort Lion In The Sun, had a Christmas gift in store for the local football team Zege FC.

Italian Briatore, 58, who co-owns the London club Queens Park Rangers, gave new uniforms and balls to the players.

"I saw these players playing bare feet at Mayungu when I walked around and promised to assist them with sports equipment," he is quoted as saying by the local Daily Nation newspaper.

He also said a container full of sports equipment for local schools and institutions is en route.

"This is just something small that I brought with me.  Many more items are coming in one months' time," Briatore, who said a partnership between Kenyan teams and Queens Park Rangers could be set up, revealed.

Q&A with Giancarlo Fisichella  
Fisichella in 2007 when he still drove for the Renault team
For its first season under the Force India guise, the team formerly known as Spyker, Midland and Jordan spent much time at the back of the grid this year, but there were a few high points of improvement as the season progressed.

Although neither Giancarlo Fisichella nor Adrian Sutil brought points home, ending in the top 10 in Spain and reaching the Q2 phase of qualifying at the fast Monza track in Italy gave reason for the team to celebrate. At one point, Fisichella even found himself leading the race during the maiden and Safety Car-perturbed Singapore GP.

For Italian veteran Fisichella, better times should lay ahead: the team recently confirmed that he and Sutil will return next year for another season, and the elaborate partnership signed between Force India and McLaren Mercedes can only help bring the team to the next level.

With that in mind, Fisichella reviews his 2008 season and looks forward to the many changes coming into effect with the 2009 championship.

Q: What's your overall feeling on the season?

"It was a difficult season, and we knew it would be. Actually at the beginning of the season in some places we were very close to getting to the top 16 and also reasonably close to the points, quite close to manufacturer teams such as Honda and to other people. It was actually a tough season. We went in the right direction sometimes, but we lost a bit of direction later in the season, and in the last few races we stopped development of the 2008 car so it was very difficult to keep pushing." More ...
Marco Andretti knows he cannot rest on family laurels  
Marco Andretti scored a podium result in the Malaysia A1GP race last month.  It was smart for Andretti to race in A1GP this off-season.  Racing in A1GP will certainly help to improve his road racing skills in the IndyCars, and it will help him to determine how well he matches up against some pretty good international talent.
Some might figure Marco Andretti got an early Christmas gift when he recently re-signed with Andretti-Green Racing, the high-profile IndyCar organization headed by his father Michael.

But the 21-year-old Nazareth native has a few other things on his wish list as he looks ahead to 2009.

He's looking for consistency from his team, his car and from himself.

Andretti wasn't pleased with his 2008 season on the Indy racing circuit. It gnaws at him that he was only seventh in the point standings with no wins and just one pole.

It started with so much promise, a second-place finish in the first race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He even led there for 85 laps.

But that was followed by a snapped half-shaft and a DNF (did not finish) at St. Petersburg and the inconsistent pattern was set.

''I've had two not-so-good years as far as results are concerned and I wasn't thrilled at all with last season,'' Andretti said earlier this week. ''We led in a lot of races and in all different types of circuits. We were competitive and then something happened. It was something different every time. More ...

Vettel questions safety of KERS  Sebastian Vettel has voiced concerns over the safety of KERS ahead of its introduction to F1 cars for the 2009 season. His concerns centre on the safety of the special batteries used to store the energy used in the device.

"My personal concern for next season is the safety aspect of the KERS system," Vettel told the official F1 site. "My question is whether it will be safe enough to race. For a team racing with KERS the expectations are clear - it has to be quicker and one hundred per cent reliable."

"But I think there's one thing people underestimate at this stage - is it safe enough?" he added.

In testing this week BMW suffered yet another problem with its KERS device which curtailed running.

racing news
New poll  Our home page now has a new poll  - Who is the best driver in F1 today?  Below are the results of our previous poll.
Surfers Poll
Will losing Surfers help or hurt the IndyCar series?
Hurt 82%
Not Sure 9%
Help 9%
tv news
Weekend USA TV Reminders  UPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below.
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Summer Shootout Lowe's 
12:00pm-1:00pm -Round 3 SPEED
Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup 2008 Season 
2:00pm-3:00pm (R) SPEED
Formula Drift World Championship
3:00pm-4:00pm (R) Irwindale
4:00pm-5:00pm (R) Long Beach SPEED
Movie: Cars (2006)
3:30pm-6:00pm ABC Family
Check local listings for your time zone
Atlantic Championship 
5:00pm-5:30pm (8/10/08) Road America
5:30pm-6:00pm (8/17/08) Trois Rivieres SPEED
Why We Race: The Mustang Challenge 
5:00pm-6:00pm (R) Discovery HD Theater
Check local listings for your time zone
The Motocross Files 
6:00pm-6:30pm -Gary Jones
6:30pm-7:00pm -John DeSoto SPEED
Shaken & Stirred: Racing Classic Astons at SPA 
6:00pm-7:00pm (R) Discovery HD Theater
Check local listings for your time zone
USAC Lucas Oil Turkey Night Grand Prix Irwindale 
6:00pm-7:00pm (11/27/08) VS
Why We Race: The Mustang Challenge 
8:00pm-9:00pm (New) Discovery HD Theater
Check local listings for your time zone Discovery
Movie: Cars (2006)
8:30pm-11:00pm ABC Family
Check local listings for your time zone
Mille Miglia: The Spirit of a Legend Italy 
9:00pm-11:00pm Discovery HD Theater
Why We Race: The Mustang Challenge 
11:00pm-12:00am (R) Discovery HD Theater
Check local listings for your time zone

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV programs, see TVRacer.com
Volkswagen Wants EU10 Billion in State Guarantees  Volkswagen AG has applied for 10 billion euros ($14 billion) in credit guarantees from the German government to ensure the carmaker has access to cheap financing, Der Spiegel said, without saying where it got the information.  The guarantees would allow Volkswagen to offer customers cheap purchasing and leasing conditions, the magazine reported. Volkswagen’s move may prompt Daimler AG and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG to also apply for the funds, according to Der Spiegel.
tv news
Atlantic Series at Road America and Trois-Rivières on SPEED  Tune into SPEED on Sunday afternoon to catch Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda action from the exciting 2008 season! This weekend’s coverage will feature a pair of races from August, Round 7 from Road America and Round 8 from Trois-Rivières, Quebec.

The Road America race, which was the second half of a doubleheader at the beloved four-mile road circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wis., will air beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday. The Road America coverage will be followed immediately at 5:30 p.m. ET by the triumphant return of the Atlantic Championship to the streets of Trois-Rivières for the first time since 2003.

Indian carmaker to sponsor Ferrari  UPDATE Ferrari is pleased to announce the extension of its collaboration with Tata Consultancy Services. TCS, a world leader in the field of Information Technology consultancy, has been a partner of the Maranello Company since 2004, in the capacity of Official Supplier.  This new agreement means that the TATA logo will be present on the Ferrari Formula 1 cars for the next three years.

12/17/08 (GMM)  Despite the global financial crisis, Ferrari has inked a new sponsorship deal with a car manufacturer.

The famous Italian formula one team will add Tata, an Indian multinational, to its roster of backers in 2009, president Luca di Montezemolo told Italian media on Wednesday.

"For the first time an Indian brand will appear on the Ferrari," he said.  "It's historic."

A Ferrari spokesman confirmed the deal, with the details set to be announced in due course.

Tata was associated with the Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan's formula one career, first with Jordan in 2005 and subsequently at Williams.

Video: NASCAR Drivers Thank the Fans  Click here to watch the video (1 minutes, 7 seconds )
Logano Takes First Laps Around Daytona  Joey Logano is only 18 but is about to attempt a rare Daytona double.

Logano, who has never raced at Daytona International Speedway, will make his first two starts on Saturday, Feb. 7 when he races in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series season opener followed by Budweiser Shootout All-Star race.

On Friday, Logano, who will replace Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Home Depot Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, kicked off a three-day ARCA RE/MAX Series test with close to 50 other cars at “The World Center of Racing” as he prepares to pull off the Saturday night doubleheader.

“I’m doing it,” Logano said of his busy DIRECTV Speedweeks 2009 schedule. “I’m running both races and then I’ve got the Nationwide race with the Game Stop Toyota and then running the Cup race with the Home Depot Toyota. Between all that, I’ve got my hands full.”

Toss in the Gatorade Duel At Daytona 150-mile qualifying races, Logano will be racing five events during DIRECTV Speedweeks.

“I’m just getting as many laps as I can and learn as much as I can,” Logano said. “I’ve got a big year ahead on the Cup side . . . whatever I can do to make myself better.”

Logano, who was signed to Joe Gibbs Racing’s driver development program back in 2005, has generated plenty of buzz since he began racing at the age of six. He has already amassed a long list of accomplishments including most recently winning in his ARCA RE/MAX Series debut in May at Rockingham and winning 2007 Camping World East championship. More ...

Corvette will race 1/2 year in ALMS  Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan was quick to reconfirm Corvette Racing’s GT1 program in the first half of the 2009 American Le Mans Series.

“The primary focus of the race team is the 12 Hours of Sebring, Long Beach and, of course as it always has been, the 24 hours of Le Mans,” Fehan said. “We tested the GT1 car at Sebring in November. And we will be utilizing Sebring and Long Beach to put the final touches on the Le Mans effort. We’re continuously developing the car and package for fuel mileage, efficiency and new materials from our various suppliers. We want our last GT1 appearance at Le Mans to be successful. The team understands the importance of a victory at Sebring, Long Beach and Le Mans to close the GT1 program.”

The highly anticipated GT2 Corvette is still scheduled to debut at Mid-Ohio in early August, Fehan added.

“Engineering and fabrication continues to focus on the GT2 program,” he said. “We expect the first actual race car to be completed in early February and will be testing that car in the spring.”

racing news
Walker remembers Bob Carlson  "I had the pleasure of working with Bob Carlson during the Porsche Indy Car back in 89-90. Bob was a gentlemen, professional, always a loyal Porsche man but most of all he was just a really nice guy who shall be sadly missed. Our sympathies go out to Debbie."  Derrick Walker, owner of Walker Racing
Andersen Racing Signs Daly for 2009 Star Mazda Season  Andersen Racing is pleased to announce that it will field a car for Conor Daly in the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear.

Daly, of Noblesville, Ind., earned the 2008 Skip Barber National Championship with five victories. As part of his winnings he was awarded $350,000 from Mazda towards the season's budget in the 2009 Star Mazda championship.

After testing with Andersen Racing, which won the 2008 Star Mazda team championship, he chose to work with the Palmetto, Fla.-based team in the new year.

Daly, who turned 17 on Monday, also distinguished himself this year as one of two recipients of a Team USA scholarship. In November at Silverstone, England he became the first American ever to win the Walter Hayes Trophy, considered the world's most prestigious Formula Ford race. He was the youngest winner ever of that prize as well. More ...

Coulthard expects to sit on the bench in 2009  Now in an advisory role for Red Bull Racing, David Coulthard will see a lot less time behind the wheel. Although the Scotsman isn't expecting much, especially with the testing ban coming into effect next season, as most mileage that could be done will most likely be run by the race drivers, Mark Webber and Sebastien Vettel.

Coulthard told 'ITV': "Well, the in-season testing ban will obviously reduce the opportunities for me to drive the car, and I may not end up having much, if any, seat time.

"Once the new car comes in February the race drivers will be in that all the time, so at this stage I don't expect to do a great deal of running outside of promotional events."

Toyota strive for 100% reliability  Resigned to the fact it is never going to beat Ferrari, Mercedes or BMW, the slower Toyota team with a huge budget will be aiming for 100 per cent reliability of its cars in 2009 as it strives to take its first F1 race victory having finished the 2008 season fifth overall and making it onto the podium again.

"Toyota's goal in F1 is to win and we didn't achieve this in 2008," Toyota team principal Tadashi Yamashina said (nor did they in the five years before that). "We also had other disappointing results when we expected more, for example at Fuji."

"Our reliability record compared to the other teams was good, but we still lost points on several occasions due to problems and we must strive to eliminate any reliability problems because lost points can be very costly in terms of the championship."

"We will target 100 per cent reliability even if we know it's an ambitious target," he went on.

Former NASCAR official happy with settlement  The former official who filed a $225 million racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit against NASCAR is very pleased with her settlement and looking forward to moving on, her attorney said Friday.

Mauricia Grant reached a confidential settlement with NASCAR following 12 hours of mediation earlier this month in New York. The session was suggested by U.S. District Court Judge Deborah A. Batts after the first court appearance in what was expected to be a yearlong battle between the two sides.

"She'd been out of work a long time. We thought it was in the best interest of our client not to drag this out two to three years," said Benedict P. Morelli of New York-based Morelli Ratner PC.

"She needed closure. She's a young woman, and when you make the sort of allegations she did, it's difficult to move forward and get on with your life."

Settlement terms were confidential, and neither side admitted liability or wrongdoing.

"She's very, very happy with the resolution," Morelli said. "And I don't think NASCAR wanted to leave it out there. They wanted to put this behind them, as well."

Well of course she is happy.  She's now probably a multimillionaire, something she never would have been had she pursued any other career.  We predicted this one would never go to court and it did not.  NASCAR wanted to sweep this controversy under the table as quickly as possible.

Ethanol is worst form of renewable energy  A fascinating new study ranks alternative energies from best to worst -- and showing up last is ethanol.  It's time to ban all federal subsidies for this wasteful taxpayer investment in Midwest farmers and this inefficient use of corn to power vehicles across America. 

Meanwhile, the federal government and all state governments that mandate increased uses of ethanol (including Missouri) should rescind those requirements.

The new study is by Mark Jacobson, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University. He has degrees in civil engineering, economics, environmental engineering and atmospheric sciences, plus a PhD in atmospheric sciences.

His report looks at the effects of air pollutants from energy systems on climate and air quality, in an attempt to show which renewable energy sources the country should be pursuing.

Here is an excerpt from the study, which shows the final rankings: More ...

Lucas Oil to Sponsor ARCA Opener at Daytona  Lucas Oil will sponsor the season-opening ARCA RE/MAX Series event at historic Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 7, President Robin Braig announced.  The 80-lap, 200-mile event that serves as a prelude to the Budweiser Shootout NASCAR Sprint Cup Series non-points All-Star event will be known as the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 At Daytona.

"We're thrilled to welcome Lucas Oil as the sponsor for the ARCA RE/MAX Series season opener," Braig said. "The Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 will kick off the stock car portion of DIRECTV Speedweeks and showcase racing's future stars. Combined with the Budweiser Shootout, it's going to be an exciting Saturday night doubleheader for race fans at Daytona." More ...

Cup champion Johnson returns to Rolex 24  Reigning three-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will return to GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing for the 2009 Rolex 24 at Daytona, reuniting this year's all-star lineup of Johnson and fellow champions Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Jimmy Vasser. The season-opening Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race takes place at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 24-25.

GAINSCO's drivers finished second in the 2008 Rolex 24 and will return in 2009 with the same team and key crew personnel. The team is back with the No. 99 Pontiac Riley.

"To know the faces, the car, the equipment, the teammates, it makes those four days of the race weekend so much easier," Johnson said. More ...

Ecclestone slaps Montezemolo down to size  
Bernie Ecclestone exposed Ferrari's little secret and slaps its President down to size
Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One commercial rights-holder, launched a stinging attack on Luca di Montezemolo yesterday, effectively telling the Ferrari president to mind his own business, in the wake of the latter’s criticisms of the way Ecclestone is running the sport.

Speaking at the Ferrari factory in Maranello, Italy, this week, Di Montezemolo said that Formula One was not being run in what he called a “normal” manner, that the sport did not need a “dictator”, in a remark taken as a reference to Ecclestone, and that teams wanted more of the sport’s vast income and greater transparency from Ecclestone about the extent of that money. “We want to know more about the revenues,” he said.

An angry Ecclestone told The Times that Di Montezemolo should be the last person to be complaining about how much income the teams receive. “The only thing he has not mentioned is the extra money Ferrari get above all the other teams and all the extra things Ferrari have had for years – the ‘general help’ they are considered to have had in Formula One,” Ecclestone said. More ...

NHRA hard hit by sponsor exodus  NASCAR teams have laid off hundreds of workers, and teams have merged or are trying to.  Some speculate Sprint Cup races will not be able to field traditional 43-car fields at all races next year.  But the racing series headed for the biggest hit is NHRA professional drag racing.

Sometime this week it’s expected that Caterpillar will announce it is pulling sponsorship of the David Powers Motorsports Top Fuel team. That means Las Vegas resident Rod Fuller is out of a ride.

Fuller said he heard Saturday that Powers was shuttering the team. He heard it from an Internet reporter before he heard it from Powers. A call by Fuller to Powers confirmed it.

Also out of Top Fuel rides are Hillary Will and David Grubnic. Will drove for the team owned by Las Vegan Ken Black and operated by Kalitta Motorsports, which also owned the car Grubnic drove. More ...

Stillman Named Crew Chief for Roush Fenway No. 60  Roush Fenway Racing has announced that Dan Stillman has been named the new crew chief for Carl Edwards and his No. 60 Nationwide team.

"When the decision was made to move Drew (Blickensderfer) to the Cup shop, Dan Stilman's name came up pretty early in the process as a possible replacement,” said Roush Fenway general manager Robbie Reiser.

“Dan’s got the kind of experience we're looking for and he was the best candidate for the job. Carl is one of the most talented drivers out there so between the two of them we look for a successful 2009 season with the No. 60 Roush Fenway Nationwide entry." More ...

ALMS hopes Detroit returns in 2010  The American Le Mans Series looks forward to making its return to the Motor City and continuing its participation in the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, one of North America’s premier motorsport weekends. The event has been postponed for 2009.

“In just two years, the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix fulfilled its promise of bringing world-class racing back to the Motor City, a key market for our teams, manufacturers and marketing partners,” said Scott Atherton, Series President and CEO. “These are exceptionally challenging times, especially for the city of Detroit and the many automotive and related companies that call Detroit home. We salute and support the leadership shown by Roger Penske, Bud Denker and the entire staff of the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. Of course we are disappointed to lose this event from our 2009 schedule, but we are confident in their abilities to continue promoting and growing this fantastic event and eagerly anticipate our return to Detroit in the near future.” More ...

Well-known mechanic in Grand Am and ALMS killed  UPDATE Correction: the murder happened on December 8th, not this week as originally thought.

Eduardo Cademartori hugs friends Courtney Ford, left, and Cam Amici during happier times in DeLand. Cademartori, who was in Wisconsin for training with the race-car team he worked for, was severely beaten in downtown Madison, Wis. Police have arrested two men, and are looking for a third.
Cam Amici
The son of a local artist died earlier this week after he was beaten by three men in Wisconsin, officials said.  Eduardo Cademartori, a 27-year- old successful race car mechanic who was raised in the San Gabriel Valley, died Tuesday at a hospital after being assaulted Sunday while leaving a Madison, Wis., bar, Madison police officials and family members said.

His father, Hector Cademartori of La Verne, CA is a renowned painter of race cars and motorcycles.

"He was a delightful, happy, really nice kid," said Hector Cademartori. "He was a wonderful young man."

Two men were arrested in connection with the attack, officials said.

Eduardo Cademartori moved to Wisconsin a week before the attack to begin a new job working on a race car prototype for a company called Level Five Motorsports, his father said.

Hector Cademartori said Eduardo was thrilled about the new opportunity.  More ...

Detroit GP confirms cancellation  UPDATE The IndyCar Series today released the following statement from Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division for the Indy Racing League, regarding the Belle Isle Detroit Grand Prix:

“This is unfortunate news but something that Roger Penske and his group have kept us abreast of for some time. The people of Detroit welcomed the IndyCar Series with impressive crowds the past two years and we support the Detroit Grand Prix’s efforts for a possible return in 2010.

“The current economic climate is a challenge for all of us, but as we look ahead to 2009 and beyond we remain bullish on the opportunities ahead for the unified IndyCar Series. There is little doubt that the IndyCar Series offers considerable value opportunities for current and potential partners of the series and its teams and tracks.

“Any decision on what we might do with a valuable asset like a Labor Day race weekend either short or long-term will not be decided upon quickly.”

12/19/08 Officials for the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix announced today that the 2009 event will be cancelled due to the difficult economic conditions prevalent in southeast Michigan and across the nation.

“The economic environment that our region, state and country faces, both today and in 2009, is difficult,” said Roger Penske, Chairman of the Downtown Detroit Partnership. “It is unfortunate that we must postpone the 2009 Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix as sponsorship opportunities and support has proven to be very challenging for the event in the near term.”

The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix has brought tremendous benefit to Belle Isle Park and to the region since the event returned world-class auto racing back to the Motor City for the first time in more than six years in 2007. Both the 2007 and 2008 races established themselves as one of Detroit’s most popular summertime events, featuring both the American Le Mans Series and the IndyCar Series. More ...

No Force India testing until March  (GMM)  F1 test action will resume in mid January, but Force India will not get back up to speed until March, it has emerged.

Following the Silverstone based team's Barcelona outing in November, the outfit was not seen again, as designers turned their attention to the new McLaren-Mercedes collaboration for 2009.

Force India will next year benefit from extensive McLaren input, including the powertrain, gearbox, hydraulics, KERS and even chassis components.

The team's German driver Adrian Sutil, however, admitted that sitting out the tests until March, less than a month before the 2009 season starts, is "a problem".

"But I can't change it," he told F1's official website.  "And if I'm honest, it's better to start in March with a good car than to test in February with a bad one."

Tony George cuts staff  SPEEDTV.com reports that Tony George laid off 12 members of his Vision Racing team last week and is currently seeking sponsorship in order to keep Anthony Foyt IV on track. There were also cuts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League, but no number was available.
Barrichello hopes new Honda F1 owner will retain him  Rubens Barrichello is eager to continue racing in Formula 1 with the new owners of the Honda Formula 1 team. The team is currently for sale and according to the latest reports talking to three different possible buyers. The team's 2008 race driver, Rubens Barrichello, is still without a contract for next season but hopes to stick with the Brackley based team. "I told Ross, right now I am into the situation where I am not old and I can still use this as a learning emotion. I am so fired up," Barrichello told Autosport.com. "I told him again that it could be a good time for me to say goodbye and start shouting bad against people for what they have done bad to me, but no. I am ready to race. I have lost half the weight of what I need to lose, and am eager to keep going.

"I don't think it is coincidence that I won the two kart races back in Brazil. Of course, it is at a level of competition that is much lower than F1, but it shows that I am up to it. I think I can use my mentality, plus my speed and my focus on the right stuff right now to really help the team carry on. And I don't want to sign just for one year. I want to sign for two or three years. I also started my career on slicks and I definitely want to finish my career on slicks." More ...

Ed Peper confident of Chevy's chances  
Ed Peper
Chevrolet fought back to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship this year after it appeared Toyota and Kyle Busch might bury Ford, Dodge and the bowtie brigade midway through the season.

Chevy's scrappy revival and Jimmie Johnson's stirring performance in winning the drivers title for Hendrick Motorsports didn't surprise Ed Peper, GM North American vice president of Chevrolet.

Peper realizes the Detroit Three are in a battle to survive as they await a rescue package from the Bush administration, but he also is looking forward to the 2009 Cup season, which starts at Daytona in February.

The Detroit Free Press caught up with Peper and asked about the coming season and the challenges facing racing in an era of economic uncertainty.

Question: As defending Sprint Cup champion, how is Chevy placed with Daytona just a couple of months away?

Answer: We obviously have some of the greatest teams: Hendrick and its stable of drivers; (Richard) Childress (Racing), which has been outstanding; and Tony Stewart-Haas Racing, which we feel will be very good. With DEI there, too, Chevy always has a chance to win. Tony (Stewart) never forgot where his heart was, and he is back with Chevrolet, where he always wanted to be. More ...

Female F2 driver is Buemi's cousin  
Natacha Gachnang
(GMM)  The first woman in the newly launched Formula Two series, Natacha Gachnang, is likely to have a relative on the F1 grid next season.

Gachnang, the 21-year-old Swiss with experience in Formula BMW and F3, this week signed up to race next year in F2, the FIA's new low-cost feeder category for premier grand prix racing.

Her cousin is Sebastien Buemi, the 20-year-old Swiss driver who is hotly tipped to make his F1 debut with the Toro Rosso team in 2009.

Gachnang finished the Spanish F3 championship third in 2008, and the prize for winning in Formula Two is a fully-fledged F1 test with Williams.

The last female formula one driver was Italian Giovanna Amati, who in 1992 failed to qualify for three grands prix with Brabham.

Schu gave millions to Clinton foundation  (GMM)  Michael Schumacher has emerged high on a list of donors to the humanitarian foundation run by former American president Bill Clinton.

Clinton made the list public this week to avoid any suggestion of conflict of interest as his wife Hillary prepares to become secretary of state in the new Barack Obama administration.

It was revealed that the retired Schumacher, F1's most successful driver in history, gave between $5 and $10 million to the William J. Clinton Foundation, whose stated aim is to "strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence".

Some of the projects funded by the foundation include initiatives to tackle AIDS and climate change.

With Schumacher in the $5-10m donors category is the government of Norway.

New race engineer for Raikkonen  (GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen will work with a new race engineer in 2009.

Ferrari's team principal Stefano Domenicali told the Italian newspaper La Stampa that Chris Dyer, the Finn's engineer this year, is moving up to a new role in charge of track engineering.

"His role has been assumed by Andrea Stella," Domenicali said.

It is believed Stella worked as a support engineer on Raikkonen's car ever since the Finnish driver joined Ferrari in 2007.

Australian Dyer also engineered for Michael Schumacher towards the end of the German's record-setting F1 career.

NASCAR to begin tougher drug testing in January  NASCAR will test drivers for performance-enhancing drugs next month under a tougher policy that also bans using illegal drugs and abusing prescription medications. NASCAR likely will test drivers the third week of January, and crew members must submit results from an approved lab by Jan. 16, according to documents obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

A NASCAR memo sent to teams lists specific banned substances for which crew members must be screened. No similar guidelines were issued for drivers, as NASCAR reserves the right to test competitors for anything. Under the old policy, NASCAR had the right to randomly test based on suspicion of abuse. Under the tougher guidelines first announced in September, everyone will be tested before the season begins, and random testing will continue throughout the year. NASCAR expects to randomly test 12 to 14 individuals per series each weekend in 2009.

The memo, dated Dec. 8, is the first time the new policy has been laid out in writing and specifies who falls under the guidelines. Those who must be tested before Jan. 16 include: pit crew members, including "over-the-wall" crew members, the crew chief, car chief, team members responsible for tires, fuel and pit crew operation, spotters and race-day support personnel that includes engineers, engine tuners, shock specialists, chassis specialists and tire specialists.

Among the substances those participants must be tested for are:
- Seven different amphetamines, including methamphetamine and PMA, a synthetic psychostimulant and hallucinogen.
- Three drugs classified under ephedrine.
- 13 different narcotics, including codeine and morphine.
- Ten different benzodiazepines and barbituates.
- Marijuana, cocaine, zolpidem, nitrites, chromates and drugs that can increase specific gravity.
No such list exists for the drivers, but spokesman Ramsey Poston confirmed NASCAR will test for performance-enhancing drugs. The driver testing, which will be administered by NASCAR, had been scheduled for preseason testing at Daytona next month. But because testing has been suspended for 2009, NASCAR likely will screen drivers when most are in Charlotte next month for the annual media tour of race shops. Associated Press

Schumacher accepted the possibility of death  In an interview with the German magazine Die Zelt, Michael Schumacher discussed the danger he accepted as a race car driver.

The seven-time F1 World Champion also discussed what remains the most difficult moment of his long career in racing: "It was the accident which cost Senna's life in 1994."

"That woke me up," he shared. "I told myself that it could happen to anyone, anywhere. If you don't accept that, you have a problem. I never left home with the fear of not returning, but only with the hope of winning the race.  The important thing is to know at which point the risk-taking cannot be calculated," Schumacher explained.  "I always go up to the limit, but sometimes there can be bad luck, like at Silverstone," he added, referring to the leg he broke at the British Grand Prix in 1999. 

"Have I made a will? Of course, and I recommend that everyone do the same."

"I do not have any particular objective with motorcycles because I started too late. I have my professional career behind me now and I only look at enjoying myself," Schumacher said.

Hyundai Genesis raises eyebrows  The 16th annual North American Car of the Year jury announced the Hyundai Genesis as one of the three finalists in its annual quest to name the most outstanding and significant new car. Hyundai's flagship vehicle bested competitors such as Nissan GT-R, Audi A4, Dodge Challenger and BMW 1-Series for this year's awards competition. (See video - Home Page)

The finalists for the 2009 North American Car of the Year honors are the Ford Flex, Hyundai Genesis and Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Finalists for the 2009 North American Truck of the Year award are the Dodge Ram, Ford F-150 and the Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTEC.

Alan Johnson team moves to Brownsburg  Veteran NHRA Top Fuel crew chief Alan Johnson announced today that Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Motorsports will locate its team headquarters in Brownsburg, Ind. creating more than 40 new jobs in the next three years.

Johnson's current company, Alan Johnson Racing has partnered with Qatar-based Al-Anabi Racing to form Alan Johnson Racing Al-Anabi Racing, a two-car team that will invest more than $6.2 million to site its new operations in the suburban Indianapolis town's Pace Motorsports Complex.

The team will field a Top Fuel Dragster and a Funny Car, both of which will debut when the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle

Drag Racing Series begins in February, 2009. Del Worsham, a 22-time NHRA winner, has been named the team's Funny Car driver; the Top Fuel driver has not yet been selected. More ...

Italian dairy boss gets 10 years  The founder of former Nelson Piquet F1 sponsor Parmalat, Calisto Tanzi, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for fraud relating to the collapse of the dairy group.  Tanzi was accused of manipulating the share price, hindering auditors and helping with false accounting.

Parmalat collapsed in 2003 with a 14bn euro ($20bn; £13bn) hole in its accounts in what remains Europe's biggest bankruptcy.

The other seven defendants, including executives and bankers, were acquitted.

Another eight defendants settled out of court in September.

NASCAR settles $225M bias lawsuit  NASCAR has settled a $225 million lawsuit filed by a former official who said she was subjected to racial discrimination and sexual harassment during her two-plus years working for the stock-car organization, The Associated Press has learned.

The suit was settled during a mediation held in New York between Mauricia Grant and NASCAR. Settlement terms were confidential.

“We’re glad to have the case settled on mutually acceptable terms,” NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said today. “NASCAR remains dedicated to maintaining a professional work environment for all employees at all times, and we wish Ms. Grant well in her future endeavors.”

Atherton on the loss of Bob Carlson  American Le Mans Series President and CEO Scott Atherton issued a statement today in the memory of Bob Carlson, a long-time public relations manager with Porsche Cars North America. Bob passed Thursday morning in Atlanta after a brave battle with cancer.

“The American Le Mans Series is deeply saddened at the passing of Bob Carlson. He was truly an icon of the auto industry and especially motorsport. Bob was an enthusiast, a true ‘car guy’, but also a consummate professional and above all - a loyal friend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Debbie and the Carlson family. He will be missed by all who had the pleasure to know him.”

Scott Atherton
President and CEO
American Le Mans Series

S&P: Sell your GM shares  Standard & Poor’s today reiterated its recommendation to sell shares of General Motors Corp.  “Based on further deterioration we see in automotive demand, we are cutting our '09 sales forecast for GM and more than doubling our projected loss per share to $23.17 from $10.12,” S&P auto analyst Efraim Levy wrote in a report. “We expect sharply lower production will crush operating margins, especially in first half.”  In addition, Levy said, S&P expects any immediate government funding to be followed by further requests.
Corvette team to skip LeMans  Chevrolet will not return to the Le Mans 24 Hours next season, according to this week's Autosport magazine.  The American manufacturer's Corvettes have won at La Sarthe four times since 2000 but has been told to reduce its racing budget next year.  The GT1 program has been scrapped so Chevrolet can concentrate on the new GT2 Corvette, which will be introduced in the second half of the 2009 season.
Andretti leads Driver’s Edge program  
Marco Andretti
Marco Andretti knows that whether he’s buckled in an IndyCar Series car traveling 220 mph or his passenger car on city streets, safety is the first priority.

The Andretti Green Racing driver drove home that point to almost 200 young drivers (ages 15 to 21) recently in Las Vegas as part of the Driver’s Edge program.

Driver’s Edge is a free classroom and behind-the-wheel program for young drivers that teaches real life emergency avoidance and response techniques and overall driver safety. Driver’s Edge was developed to address the high number of young driver automobile collisions and fatalities that occur each year.

“The thing that’s cool about being a guest instructor for Driver’s Edge is that I get to use my experience to help people my age become safer and better drivers out on the road – maybe even help save a life,” the 21-year-old Andretti said. More ...

ABC Supply extends contract with A.J. Foyt Racing  
Meira drove the ABC Supply car in Surfers
ABC Supply Co. Inc. has extended its contract with A.J. Foyt Racing to sponsor the No. 14 IndyCar Series machine driven by Vitor Meira. The contract locks in the sponsorship for the 2009-2010 seasons with an option year for 2011.

As part of the agreement, the company will again sponsor the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 IndyCar Series race at The Milwaukee Mile on May 31.

“We are thrilled to have ABC Supply on board for the next two seasons,” said A.J. Foyt, who inked the deal earlier this month with America’s largest wholesale distributor of roofing, siding and windows. “We’ve had a really good relationship with everyone at ABC Supply for the last four years and I’m very happy that it will continue. They have been an important part of our being able to turn this team around, and I believe they will see that it has been worth it. I think 2009 is going to be a great year for us.”

“This will be our fifth year sponsoring racing legend A.J. Foyt and the A.J. Foyt Racing team,” said David Luck, president and chief executive officer of ABC Supply. “The values and work ethic that have served this racing dynasty are the same values that fuel ABC Supply, and we are excited to team up with A.J. once again.”

Ashley Force gets married  On Saturday, Dec. 13, Ashley Force and Daniel Hood tied the knot in beautiful Lake Tahoe. The Funny Car driver wanted a winter-wonderland theme for her wedding, and her wish was granted as snow began falling the day of her wedding, creating a magical backdrop for the guests, who included Brandon and Tracey Bernstein, Del and Connie Worsham, and the Tim Wilkerson family.

"It was snowing on my wedding day, and my photographers said they didn't care, that we were going to go out and take pictures outside in the snow," said Force Hood. "I am glad they did that now, but at the time, I was freezing, and I would have liked to have been in my firesuit.

"It was kind of fun to wear a dress. I thought I might not like it as much as I did. I loved the dress I picked, but I was kind of dreading being in a dress and heels all night. I was thinking, 'This is going to stink, and I am going to be so miserable and uncomfortable,' but I think that since it is your one day in your life that you do that, you try and enjoy it. I snuck in and wore not race boots but Ugg boots, kind of the same style. That made it a lot easier to take off the heels after a while and slip on those boots."

After spending an entire race season planning the big day, Force Hood was pleased with both her season finish and her wedding day.

"It was really my dream wedding. I look back, and there is not one thing that I really think that went wrong. Everything went as we had hoped. All the bridesmaids and the groomsmen got along. I can't believe that we pulled it off. I had so many people telling me it wasn't going to go perfectly and things would go wrong. My memories of that day are everything did go perfectly. I can't wait to see the pictures and to have those memories with our normal family and our race family. It was a fun experience, and I am so thankful that it went as perfectly as it did. We were really, really excited." NHRA.com

track news
IMS unveils Centennial Era-themed event logos for 2009 season  
Indy 500
Allstate 400
Red Bull MotoGP
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway recently unveiled the logos for all three motor racing events in 2009 at the legendary Brickyard, the 93rd Indianapolis 500, 16th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and second Red Bull Indianapolis GP.

All three event logos share a similar design element in the bottom section, incorporating the words "Centennial Era" in reference to IMS' celebration of the 100th anniversary of the facility in 2009 to the 100th anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500 in 2011. A similar design theme is found at the bottom of the Centennial Era logo unveiled earlier this year.

The IMS Creative Services department created the Indianapolis 500 and Allstate 400 at the Brickyard logos while Red Bull, with input from IMS, designed the logo for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP.

"We're excited to showcase these logos to the fans and motorsports community," said Dawn Dyer, IMS director of Creative Services. "All three event logos share a common thread of a vivid tribute to the facility's centennial in 2009 while having recognizable design elements unique to each event."

The red-and-blue design of the Indianapolis 500 logo has a traditional, historical feel. The sleek, bold design of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard logo features two different shades of blue: navy and sky. The "Allstate" and "Good Hands" logos also appear in the design. The Red Bull Indianapolis GP logo has a fresh, modern look while incorporating the primary design colors of red, white and blue.

Logos will be used in marketing and promotional materials around the events, including tickets, advertisements, multimedia, merchandise and more.

"The Indianapolis Motor Speedway's logos are some of the most recognized and valuable assets in all of sports," said IMS President and Chief Operating Officer Joie Chitwood. "The logos for our 2009 events certainly continue that great tradition."

tv news
SPEED Signs Despain to Multiyear Deal  
Dave Despain
SPEED signed veteran motor sports broadcaster Dave Despain to a new two-year deal, keeping the popular host of the Sunday night program Wind Tunnel on the team through 2010.

“Very few people can step from one motor sports discipline to another with the ease and proficiency that Dave manages on a weekly basis,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “Dave has worked hard to become one of the true icons in racing and SPEED is privileged to have him continue as part of our team.”

Closing in on 450 episodes of his popular fan-participation show Wind Tunnel, Despain has interviewed everyone who is anyone in the world of racing. Three-time NASCAR champ Darrell Waltrip has made the most guest appearances (9), followed by Jeff Gordon (7), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (7), Funny Car king John Force (6) and open-wheel veteran Paul Tracy (6). Longtime motor sports writer Robin Miller has enjoyed the most co-hosting appearances at 13. More ...

Airwaves to become title sponsor of Yamaha team  Chewing gum brand, Wrigley’s Airwaves, extended their association with GSE Racing to become the title sponsor of the Airwaves Yamaha team for the 2009 British Superbike Championship season.

Under the deal, Airwaves will receive a host of benefits such as brand building opportunities throughout the team, excellent hospitality opportunities, ‘money can’t buy’ experiences plus access to both the team and riders and commercial opportunities with the GSE Group and Yamaha.

Toby Baker, Wrigley’s Marketing Director, said: “Airwaves has had four fantastic years as title sponsor of GSE Racing and we’re looking forward to continuing our association as Airwaves Yamaha in 2009.

“The Airwaves Yamaha sponsorship is a superb fit for our brand values and ‘KICK UP A GEAR’ vision. We’ve worked hard in activating our sponsorship for the benefit of everyone involved in the sport and are looking forward to continuing this relationship.”
Tony George makes prediction  
IndyCar visionary Tony George goes out on a limb to make the bold prediction that the economy will dominate the picture in 2009
As a businessman [and great visionary - i.e. Vision Racing] whose family's heritage and future are interwoven with motorsports, Tony George doesn't hesitate when asked what story will dominate the sport in 2009.

"The economy. That will be the big story in sports business," he said.

Like George, the Indy Racing League founder and CEO who also is an IndyCar Series team owner, other owners are small businessmen who daily are reminded of the bottom line. From sponsorship to travel costs and ticket sales, economic factors will impact all forms of motorsports in the new year.

In an effort to continue the growth of the series since open-wheel unification was realized in February and react to economic downturns, team owners and sanctioning body officials have met collectively on three occasions to share ideas and information. Additional meetings a planned for 2009. More ...

New Williams to debut in Portugal  (GMM)  Williams has confirmed that its 2009 car will make its track debut in Portugal on January 19.

The event is set to take place at the new Algarve Motor Park circuit, on the same day that Renault is set to unveil its R29.

It emerged recently that Williams' event will not be a traditional launch, and the British team on Thursday confirmed the debut of the FW31 will simply coincide with a pitlane photocall and interviews.

The car will be running a winter test livery, with the full colors to be unveiled prior to the Melbourne season opener.

Schumacher backs new F1 rules  Michael Schumacher has added his voice to support the new F1 rules for 2009 and the radical cost-cutting plans.

"The new rules go in the right direction in my opinion and have the potential to improve the show further," Schumacher said. "The moves to increase mechanical grip are ideal."

"F1 will change a bit, but it will stay the pinnacle of motorsport," he added. "It's also clear that some action had to be taken in light of the current financial situation around the world. I'm happy the FIA and teams have taken the first steps together."

Skinner Visits Local Speediatrics Unit  
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Mike Skinner presents a gift to a Speediatrics patient at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla
Several of Halifax Health Medical Center’s pediatric patients got a special treat today when NASCAR driver Mike Skinner and his wife Angie, along with members of the Speedway Ambassadors, showed up to the Speediatrics Unit bearing gifts and holiday cheer.

Halifax Health – Betty Jane France Center for Pediatrics-Speediatrics – is a 36-bed unit that cares for more than 2,000 children annually, with another 400 or more receiving critical care in the area’s only Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The Speediatrics environment provides a much-needed diversion to young patients undergoing intensive treatments, taking away the intimidation factor that often comes with hospital visits. Speediatrics provides the colorful thrills of auto racing, making hospital stays more comfortable for young patients.

NASCAR Driver Mike Skinner credits Betty Jane France and the dedicated people around her for making the Speediatrics Unit at Halifax Health Medical Center very special. More ...

Portion of freeway named in honor of Richard Childress  
Richard Childress at the dedication ceremony
Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett today joined N.C. Board of Transportation member Nancy Dunn and other state and local officials to dedicate a 5.5-mile section of I-85 from U.S. 64 to Lake Road (State Road 2085) in Davidson County as the Richard Childress Freeway, in honor of the former NASCAR driver and current team owner Richard Childress. A ceremony officially naming the highway for Childress was held at Richard Childress Racing in Welcome Tuesday morning.

“Richard has been a great contributor to the sport of automobile racing, North Carolina’s growing wine industry and the economy of Davidson County,” Tippett said. “Naming this stretch of I-85 for him is a fitting tribute to the many ways he has given back to this state and its communities.”

Childress is the president and owner of Richard Childress Racing. His race team, based in Welcome, has won 12 NASCAR championships including six Sprint Cup, five Nationwide Series and one Craftsman Truck series. More ...

Roush team names Blickensderfer Crew Chief  Roush Fenway Racing has named Drew Blickensderfer crew chief for Matt Kenseth’s No. 17 DEWALT Sprint Cup team for the upcoming 2009 season.

“We are really looking forward to Drew coming on board with the No. 17 DEWALT team,” said Kenseth. “Drew brings a great work ethic and high level of enthusiasm to our team. He has been waiting for the opportunity to become a crew chief in the Sprint Cup Series and I know he’ll make the most of it.

“I had the chance to work with Drew for a couple of years in the Nationwide Series and he is one of the hardest working guys in the garage. He has a passion for the sport, and I know he will be a great addition to our No. 17 team.” More ...
GP2 heads for Qatar night race  Qatar will replace the second Dubai event on the GP2 Asia Series 08-09 calendar

The GP2 Series organization is pleased to announce that the fourth round of the GP2 Asia Series 08-09 Championship will now take place in Qatar instead of Dubai as previously scheduled for the end of February 2009. The GP2 Asia Series circus will now compete at the Losail International Circuit on February 6th and 7th.

Qatar is not only a new addition to our calendar, but it also marks a historical event for GP2 as the entire race weekend will take place at night, providing a new challenge for all thirteen teams and twenty-six drivers in the series. It will also be the first time that the Losail International Circuit organize a single-seater night race.

Series Organizer Bruno Michel commented: “I am very pleased to report that we will be having a night race weekend in Qatar. It is a very exciting new challenge, and one that GP2 is happy to take up. The Formula One Grand Prix in Singapore prove to be a success, generating tremendous interest among both media and fans all over the world: we are confident that the GP2 Asia Series will offer the same kind of dramatic action in Qatar in true GP2 style. I am really looking forward to that fourth round.”

The timetable will be announced at a later date.

Hamilton fifth best champ - L'Equipe  (GMM)  F1's new and youngest ever world champion Lewis Hamilton is among the top five sportsmen of 2008, editors of the French sports daily L'Equipe have declared.

After assigning the sportsmen points for their achievements, the famous publication's more than 200 editors named Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt its twenty-eighth 'Champion of Champions'.

Bolt scored 832 points, ahead of American swimmer Michael Phelps (694), tennis number one Rafael Nadal (413), MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi (203) and McLaren driver Hamilton (162).

Ferrari doors stay open for Alonso  (GMM)  Luca di Montezemolo will not rule out one day securing the services of Fernando Alonso for Ferrari's formula one team.

Spaniard Alonso, a former double world champion, is regularly linked with the Maranello based outfit, but Ferrari remains committed to Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa for at least the next two years.

"I regard Fernando Alonso as a great driver, a genuine team leader and a nice chap," Montezemolo, Ferrari president, is quoted as saying by Spain's AS newspaper.

He revealed that Ferrari came close to signing Alonso before he moved to Renault and achieved back-to-back titles earlier this decade.

"I could have taken him under contract when he was still sitting in the Minardi -- but life is long," the Italian insisted.

Montezemolo said he rates other drivers as well.

"Of course I would like to have a driver like Hamilton, like Alonso.  But that will be in another life, because in this life I have Michael (Schumacher), Kimi and Felipe.

"Maybe in two years I will tell you something different, but at the moment I am very, very happy."

Milner and Müller fill BMW M3 seats  
BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team filled its remaining full-time seats for the 2009 season.
Tommy Milner and former American Le Mans Series class champion Dirk Müller will fill out the full-season lineup for BMW Rahal Letterman Racing team, Rahal Letterman and BMW of North America announced Wednesday. The pairing will join Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand as the drivers for the team's inaugural two-car effort with the new BMW M3 in the Series' GT2 class for 2009.

"With the high level of competition already established in the American Le Mans Series' GT2 class, the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team is moving into a very fast lane," said Martin Birkmann, BMW of North America Motorsports Manager. "Previous BMW M3 and American Le Mans Series GT racing experience were critical parameters in our driver selection process. The addition of Tommy Milner and Dirk Müller to Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand gives us a highly qualified driver lineup." More ...
Ferrari says KERS expensive  At the pre-festive meeting in Maranello the Scuderia Ferrari technicians spoke about the KERS, the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, where electrical regenerative brakes will be used, and which is part of the 2009 regulations. "It's a great challenge," the technicians said, but as the cost "has exceeded our expectations." Technical Director Aldo Costa, Engine and Electronics Director Gilles Simon and Planner Nikolas Tombazis said: "As far as the engine and the electronics are concerned costs went down, but with the KERS we spent much more than we had planned."

"We're working a lot on the energy recovery system. We're a bit behind on our schedule, but our goal is to be ready with a working KERS for the first race, which will be held in Australia. Meanwhile we're also appraising the car without KERS."  Ferrari  PR

Car and Truck of Year candidates announced  The polls are closed and jurors' votes for the 2009 North American Car and Truck of the Year awards are being counted with the finalists scheduled to be announced Thursday.

The 50 journalists who serve as jurors for the awards finished voting on Dec. 10. The three car finalists and three truck finalists will be announced at the Detroit Economic Club's annual auto show luncheon on Dec. 18.

Candidates for the 2009 North American Car of the Year are the: Audi A4; BMW 1 Series; Cadillac CTS-V; Dodge Challenger; Ford Flex; Honda Fit; Hyundai Genesis; Jaguar XF; Lincoln MKS; Mazda6; Nissan GT-R; Pontiac G8; Toyota Venza; and Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

Candidates for the 2009 North American Truck of the Year are the: BMW X6; Chevrolet Traverse; Dodge Ram; Ford F-150; Honda Pilot; Infiniti FX35/50; Kia Borrego; Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTec; Nissan Murano; Subaru Forester; and Volkswagen Tiguan. More ...

Mansfield cancels Truck race  Due to the economic times that we are all facing, Mansfield Motorsports Park will not be hosting the 2009 NASCAR Truck Race. We will begin processing refunds immediately. Please accept our apologies and please be patient while we are going through the refund process. We apologize for any inconvenience. Mansfield Motorsports Park PR
Lumber Liquidators drops Germain Racing  The #30 Tundra team needs to finalize primary sponsorship for 2009. Lumber Liquidators has informed team officials they will not return as the primary sponsor for the truck, which has Germain Racing and driver Todd Bodine searching for the right fit to take over title sponsorship on the #30 Tundra. Bodine and the #30 Tundra team brought Toyota it's first Truck Series championship and the team has earned more wins than any other Tundra team. "Given the caliber of this team and its performance over the past four years, we're confident that we can find support for the #30 Tundra program with champion driver Todd Bodine. We will be at Daytona to defend last year's win…hopefully with a new primary sponsor who understands the tremendous value of the Camping World Truck Series and a championship team like Germain Racing," said owner Bob Germain Jr. Germain Racing PR
Iowa Speedway to host NASCAR Trucks in 2009  The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) announced today that Iowa Speedway will host a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on September 5 in place of the event that was originally scheduled May 23 at Mansfield Motorsports Park. The realignment of the race was a result of Mansfield's request that the event be moved from its track because of its inability to meet the requirements necessary to remain a NASCAR sanctioned facility. "It is always exciting to go to a new venue and show the fans what the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is all about," said NASCAR's Vice President of Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell. "The Midwest has some of our sport's most loyal fans and Iowa Speedway produces some incredible racing as we've seen with the NASCAR Camping World East and West Series. We look forward to racing there this season." In addition to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, Iowa will host the NASCAR Nationwide Series, as well as the NASCAR Camping World East and West Series in 2009. "We are extremely pleased to continue our strong relationship with NASCAR with the awarding of yet another NASCAR series race to Iowa Speedway," said Iowa Speedway CEO Stan Clement. "We know from past experience that fans here in the Midwest will support this exciting new event." NASCAR PR
Chrysler, Ford Idle Plants; GM Halts Engine Factory  Chrysler LLC will shut all 30 of its plants for at least a month starting Dec. 19 as unsold cars and trucks pile up at showrooms.  Ford Motor Co. said it will idle most of its North American assembly plants for the first week of January, while General Motors Corp. said a new factory making engines for the Chevrolet Volt electric car is being delayed to conserve cash.

The cutbacks showed how far automakers are going to save money and prune output in a year in which industrywide U.S. sales are poised to fall to their lowest levels since 1991. GM and Chrysler say they may run out of operating funds in just weeks without emergency U.S. aid.

“Vehicle manufacturers are going to closely align their demand with supply,” said Michael Robinet, an analyst at CSM Worldwide Inc. in Northville, Michigan. “You are finding that these inventory correction actions are not only taking place at Chrysler but with all the vehicle manufacturers.”

Montezemolo calls for Ecclestone to resign  
Luca di Montezemolo calls for Bernie's head
Luca di Montezemolo, the president of Ferrari, has dropped heavy hints that he believes that Bernie Ecclestone’s reign as king of Formula One is coming to an end and that it is time for a new approach to the sport in the wake of the cost-cutting deal agreed by the teams and the FIA, the sport’s governing body.

Speaking at the headquarters of Ferrari in Maranello, northern Italy, Di Montezemolo implied that the 78-year-old Formula One commercial rights-holder, who has vowed never to retire and to die in the job, will have to consider moving soon. “I think sooner or later he has to stop,” Di Montezemolo, who earlier praised Ecclestone for transforming Formula One during his long tenure, said.

Di Montezemolo, who also heads the Formula One Teams Association, wants radical change in the sport and he repeatedly advanced arguments suggesting that Ecclestone and Donald Mackenzie, the co-founder of CVC Capital Partners, the main owners of Formula One, lack the progressive and creative thinking the championship requires if it is to reinvent itself. More ...

Gulf Arabs doing utmost for F1  The oil-exporting Gulf Arab region cannot do more than it is doing already to support Formula One, a leading member of the sport's governing body said on Wednesday.

'The contribution is massive already,' said International Automobile Federation (FIA) vice-president Mohammed Sulayem, a United Arab Emirates rallying champion, in answer to questions about the economic crisis battering car manufacturers who dominate the sport.

The start in Bahrain in 2004
'Who would have thought we would have two Formula One races so close together, 40 minutes apart (in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi),' he told reporters.

'Who would have thought we'd have a situation where a percentage of McLaren would be owned by the Bahraini government?' The island kingdom of Bahrain, which owns 30 per cent of McLaren, became Formula One's first Middle East circuit in 2004 while Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, will host the season-ending race next year. More ...

Genoa Racing Impressed with Karjalainen  The staff of Genoa Racing was very impressed with the performance of 22-year-old Finnish driver Henri Karjalainen during a two-day test in one of the team's Atlantic cars last week at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla.

Karjalainen placed 17th in his rookie season in the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda this year while running as a member of another team. His best finish was a tenth on the street course at Trois-Rivières, Quebec.

Genoa Racing's management feels confident they can help Karjalainen improve on those results in 2009, and offered him specific suggestions he can work on during the off-season.

"We were impressed with Henri, both in and out of the car," said Thomas Knapp, team manager and chief engineer. "He never put a wheel wrong, and was responsive to our direction. He hadn't driven at Sebring previously, and met our performance targets over the two days. We would like to complete a deal for the season, and develop him into a consistent threat for the 2009 Atlantic championship."

The Atlantic test was in addition to the team's recent Firestone Indy Lights test at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.  The team plans to field
cars in both series in 2009.

Wright Motorsports Announces Its Rolex 24 Lineup  Wright Motorsports owner John Wright is pleased to announce that his Batavia, Ohio-based racing team will enter a 2009 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car sponsored by Phillips Way Racing in selected Rolex Series races in 2009, beginning with the prestigious Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. on Jan. 24-25.

Wright has assembled an impressive roster of four drivers for that brutal test of drivers, teams and cars: car owner/driver Phillip Martien of Finksburg, Md.; veteran B.J. Zacharias, a native son of Cincinnati; and two factory Porsche stars, Sascha Maassen, a native of Aachen, Germany now living in Lontzen, Belgium, and Patrick Pilet of Le Chesnay, France.

Two classes of cars compete in the Rolex 24: Daytona Prototypes and GT cars.  Wright Motorsports' entry for 2009 is in the GT division.

The white Wright Motorsports Porsche will carry the number 33 in the annual twice-around-the-clock enduro. Its sponsor, Phillips Way, Inc., is a $100 million construction company based in Finksburg, Md., that Martien founded and owns. It specializes in providing quick but complete and on budget construction and reconstruction for the health care and institutional industries. (See phillipsway.com.) More ...

Howe Now: New feature on ALMS website  A new feature starts today on americanlemans.com with the launch of "Howe Now." Series reporter Jamie Howe, a broadcast regular on SPEED and American Le Mans Radio, will blog her latest thoughts on a variety of aspects within the Series and sanctioning body IMSA. In fact, that's the topic of her first commentary on americanlemans.com.

It is no secret to anyone that the motorsports industry is feeling the same economic struggles as auto corporations today. Just by looking at all the various types of auto racing series in existence around the world, you can see the fate of most companies are either on the verge of non-existence or on the path toward permanence.

That being said, sanctioning bodies are feeling the same effects of what could be the most cumbersome timeline ever seen by auto racing. More ...

Caldarelli completes Panasonic Toyota Racing test  
Andrea Caldarelli
Panasonic Toyota Racing brought the curtain down on its 2008 testing program by introducing a new face behind the wheel of the TF108, with Italian youngster Andrea Caldarelli completing his first official Formula 1 test.

The 17th and final test of the year for Panasonic Toyota Racing saw the team continue its work at the Bahrain International Circuit, taking advantage of the good weather conditions to ensure its annual 30,000km test allowance was fully used.

Andrea is 18 years old and hails from the same Italian city as Jarno Trulli, Pescara. He was given the chance to test a TF108 thanks to the Toyota Young Drivers Program (TDP) which has supported his career since 2007. More ...

Jerez Wednesday: Vettel tops Buemi  Today was the final day of testing this year and both Red Bull drivers had good days, with Vettel quickest at the end of the session.  Both  drivers  worked on evaluating  various mechanical set-up changes in conjunction with the  2009  specification  Bridgestone  slick  tires  and  the  team  leaves  southern  Spain  with plenty of data and a good understanding of next season's rubber. The RB4s ran completely reliably all day and overnight work on Vettel's car meant it was more to his liking today.

At the end of the day, Vettel said. "We've had pretty smooth running at this test and have completed  a  lot  of  mileage  before  the  end  of  the  year.  I  think  we've  done  everything  we could here, learning about the tires and next year's regulations and hopefully we will start next year with a car strong enough to challenge the big boys."

For the third and final day of testing the BMW Sauber F1 Team used two interim cars, which were based on the 2008 chassis with some of the bodywork from the 2009 regulations. In Jerez the team came as close as could be to the test kilometers and sets of tires allocated for the 2008 testing season.

In the morning Christian Klien drove the KERS' equipped F1.08B. Working on different energy strategies, the team continued the development work as scheduled. "We made good progress today", Klien said. "We still have a lot of work to do on the KERS system. But the promising test results show we are moving in the right direction."

Robert Kubica in the sister car, but without KERS, tried numerous set-up solutions aiming to improve on the results from using the new slick tires. For the afternoon session, according to the plan, he switched to the KERS' equipped car, but due to a mechanical failure he had to abandon the scheduled  program. Kubica then got back into the conventional F1.08B and continued testing for the rest of the day.

Today's Times
1. Sebastian Vettel RB4 - 05 1:16.617, Laps: 107
2. Sebastien Buemi RB4 - 02 1:16.998, Laps: 92
3. Robert Kubica BMW Sauber F1.08B-06 1:19.013 Laps: 100
4. Christian Klien F1.08B-03 1:19.066 min Laps: 38

track news
Martinsville Speedway retains 1 sponsor, loses another  Despite the current tough economic times one of NASCAR’s oldest venues is able to report some good news. Martinsville Speedway has signed a two-year sponsorship agreement with pharmaceutical manufacturer Glaxo Smith Kline to retain their primary event sponsor for the next four races.

“The best thing that we have going for us is that our two cup events are sponsored. We’re fully sponsored for ’09,” track president Clay Campbell told the Martinsville Bulletin. “We’re fortunate that our major entitlements are sold for the next two years — now is not a good time to be out on the street looking for sponsors — and we’re good with that.”

The March 29 Cup race will be called the “Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500.” On Oct. 25, the track will host the “TUMS Fast Relief 500,” part of the last 10 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup races.

One sponsor who won’t be returning to Martinsville is General Motors. The long time provider of official vehicles, pace cars and signage decided not to renew their contract when it expired this year.

“We’ve been with General Motors for, gosh, the biggest part of our existence. Our contract with GM was up this year, and they chose not to renew it, which we fully expected,” Campbell said.

Wickens to F2  After little success racing in the American Atlantic Series, Red Bull will enter young Canadian driver Robert Wickens in the less difficult Formula Two Championship next season.

"For me, the decision to be in F2 is a no-brainer," he said. "The design of the cars and caliber of the prize means it will be one of the most competitive series around.

"It's also hard to see any other series competing with F2 at the moment in terms of price, so it's a great move for me in all senses. I would love to follow Jacques Villeneuve and be the next Canadian in F1, and hopefully I can achieve that through success in F2."

2009 Formula Two calendar

May 31 Valencia, Spain
June 21 Brno, Czech Republic
June 28 Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
July 19 Brands Hatch, UK
August 16 Donington Park, UK
September 6 Oschersleben, Germany
September 20 Imola, Italy
November 1 Barcelona, Spain

Toyota delays new Prius plant  Toyota Motor Corp. indefinitely postponed production of its popular Prius hybrid car at a plant under construction in Mississippi, underscoring the difficulties affecting all automakers competing in the weak U.S. auto market.

Toyota's widely anticipated announcement follows production cuts at its existing North American plants, and similar measures taken by its Japanese rivals to align their output with a drop in demand to 25-year lows.

Honda Motor Co. announced a further reduction in its North American vehicle output Friday, including cuts in production of small Civic cars at a new plant in Indiana. Nissan Motor Co. also has cut production and offered buyouts earlier this year to workers at two plants in Tennessee.

The combined North American production of Japan's three biggest automakers is expected to drop to 4 million vehicles this year, from 4.35 million in 2007, according to CSM Worldwide, a forecasting firm in Northville. It predicts their output will fall further in 2009, to 3.67 million cars and trucks.

2009 MotoGP entry list:  The FIM has published the official entry list for the 2009 MotoGP season, which will feature just 19 riders.

2009 MotoGP entry list:

3. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team
4. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Repsol Honda Team
5. Colin Edwards USA Tech 3 Yamaha
7. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
14. Randy de Puniet FRA LCR Honda MotoGP
15. Alex de Angelis RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini
21. John Hopkins USA Kawasaki Racing Team
24. Toni Elias SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini
27. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team
33. Marco Melandri ITA Kawasaki Racing Team
36. Mika Kallio FIN Pramac Racing
46. Valentino Rossi ITA FIAT Yamaha Team
52. James Toseland GBR Tech 3 Yamaha
59. Sete Gibernau SPA Grupo Francisco Hernando
65. Loris Capirossi ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
69. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Marlboro Team
72. Yuki Takahashi JPN Scot Racing Team MotoGP
88. Niccolo Canepa ITA Pramac Racing
99. Jorge Lorenzo SPA FIAT Yamaha Team

Ferrari team rates Massa over Hamilton - Montezemolo  (GMM)  Four or five more teams, as well as Ferrari, would have followed Honda out of the sport had the FIA imposed a standard engine formula.

That is the revelation of Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, who as chairman of the F1 teams' alliance FOTA oversaw the cost-slashing compromise solution with the FIA president Max Mosley.

"If one engine for all the teams had come in, at least four - maybe five - teams would have left.  And I mean four or five in addition to Ferrari," the Italian is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Instead, FOTA and FIA came to a compromise where millions of euros will be cut out of annual budgets by de-tuning the current engines, and introducing radical measures including a total in-season testing ban.

Montezemolo also responded to Lewis Hamilton's recent claim that he has no desire to ever switch to Ferrari.

"Without doubt, he is a great driver, able to fight for the title in his first year and then win in the second.

"But, with all due respect, I would not swap him for Felipe Massa."

As for Hamilton's apparent lifetime Ferrari snub, Montezemolo added: "Usually, it is Ferrari that makes the choices.

"Kimi Raikkonen came to Ferrari and won the championship.  And it was because of our mistakes that Massa did not win this year."

racing news
Global Race Car Auction attracting Global Interest  
Damon Hill in the GH2 Formula 1 car  at Goodwood
Jim Houlgrave
Interest is mounting from both buyers and sellers around the globe for the first race and rally car auction of 2009 which will take place in Manchester on 18-19 February. With the current world economic climate taking a dive, many competitors are cashing in their assets in the hope that the more affluent society will purchase their pride and joy. Vehicles being entered range from a Mini UK challenge car to Formula 1 machinery, with particular interest coming from the world of rallying.

One of the 'star' vehicles on offer is the only complete example of the famous GH2 Formula 1 car which, sadly, was never to race after Graham Hill, up-and-coming grand prix star Tony Brise and two team members were tragically killed in a light aircraft on their way back from testing at Paul Ricard. This beautiful working example was built in 1975, and in 2005 Damon Hill drove the car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Further details of The Race Car Auction -

Tel: +44(0)1625 874290
eMail: info@racecarauction.co.uk

Former McLaren spy scandal designer gets new job  McLaren designer, Mike Coughlan, who was sacked from the Woking based squad after his participation in the 2007 Ferrari spy affair was revealed, is now working for Ricardo Transmissions, the company that will be supplying the standard transmission to the Formula One grid alongside the new standard Cosworth engine deal.

"I can confirm that Mike Coughlan is working as a contractor to Ricardo,” a spokesperson from the company told us. “However, I can also confirm that this is in the company's automotive consulting business and his activities are completely unrelated to the Ricardo motorsport business."

Ricardo is the largest transmission engineering and design consultancy in the United Kingdom and their combination of key technologies from both motorsport and mainstream automotive applications has enabled development of cutting edge capability. This philosophy and “right first time” approach has resulted in an enviable track record in all forms of competition at the highest levels.

Formula Two welcomes first female driver  
Natacha Gachnang is the first female driver to sign up for the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship
Spanish F3 frontrunner Natacha Gachnang has today (12/17) become the first female driver to sign up for the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship.

21 year-old Gachnang, who is the cousin of GP2 star and Red Bull F1 test driver Sebastien Buemi, has experienced success on both sides of the Atlantic.  She joins Formula Two after finishing third in the 2008 Spanish Formula 3 Championship and second in the Copa de España.  In 2007 she raced in the American Star Mazda series, recording an unbroken string of top ten finishes, as well as finishing fourth in the Austrian Formula 3 Championship and competing in selected F3 Euro Series races.

Natacha Gachnang said: “I’m delighted to be doing Formula Two next season because it brings me that much closer to achieving my dream of getting into Formula One. To be honest, I try not to think about being a woman in a male-dominated sport. At times it has probably helped me, but I think it has also been hard to get people to really believe in me as a driver, especially as I climb the motorsport ladder. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Richards turning focus to F1 bid
  • Mallya says no to Karthikeyan return
  • Hamilton measured for wax statue
  • German chief wants Ecclestone meeting
  • Vodafone pulls sports sponsorships
  • F1 cuts to cost jobs - Haug
  • Vettel plays down Red Bull winter dominance
  • Prost says France is 'anti-cars'
  • F1 to return to North America - Dennis

Richards turning focus to F1 bid
(GMM)  In a twist of fate, Subaru's withdrawal from the world rally championship could pave the way for David Richards to re-enter formula one.

The Japanese carmaker had collaborated with Richards' Prodrive motor racing company.

And with Richards already eyeing the purchase of Honda's F1 team, he told the British newspaper The Sun that this week's developments "clears the decks and gives me a bit of spare time to think about it".

"The new structure for F1 from 2010 onwards, with new regulations coming and very significant cost cutting programs, certainly make it more appealing and far more suitable for a company such as ours," he added.

"What's on the table today makes it far more feasible."

Richards, who formerly ran the Benetton and BAR teams, almost brought Prodrive into F1 this year but baulked at the 'customer car' situation.

Mallya says no to Karthikeyan return
(GMM)  Even with their nationality in common, Vijay Mallya has ruled out reviving the F1 career of the Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan.

Karthikeyan, now 31, became the first Indian to contest grands prix with Jordan in 2005, and after a spell as Williams test driver now drives in the A1 series.

But despite perpetual speculation linking him with Mallya's Force India team, the billionaire told the Asian Age that Karthikeyan "is not meeting (the) criteria".

"In my F1 context, Narain doesn't fit in," he added.

Another Indian racer Karun Chandhok has tested F1 cars and in 2008 raced in the second-tier GP2 category, but despite their closeness "I have not let my personal relationship come in between", Mallya said.

"Only the lack of suitable replacements has forced (us) to retain the same team for 2009.  The normally expected GP2 graduation didn't happen this time," he explained.

Mallya also confirmed that team chiefs Colin Kolles and Mike Gascoyne were recently ousted because they failed to meet their targets.

"We had a review meeting to see what went wrong.  We were given certain assurances that didn't happen.

"So we had no other choice other than revamping the think tank by sacking (them)," he said. More ...

GM to suspend work in 3 Mexican factories  General Motors of Mexico says it will temporarily idle three factories because of the worst auto sales slump in a quarter of a century.

The company says its plant in the central state of Guanajuato will shut down from Dec. 22 to Jan. 7, and its plants in the northern states of San Luis Potosi and Coahuila from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2.

Monday's statement said employees will be laid off temporarily. It didn't say how much production would be cut.

On Friday, parent company General Motors Corp. said it will temporarily close 20 factories across North America and make production cuts.

Nearly all automakers who sell in the U.S. are mired in the worst sales slump in 26 years. GM reported a 41 percent drop in sales in November.

Europeans shun bankrupt bound GM cars  European car sales fell 26 percent in November, the biggest monthly drop since 1999, as a global recession and tighter credit hurt purchases and people shunned vehicles made by bankruptcy-threatened General Motors Corp.

Registrations declined to 932,537 from 1.26 million a year earlier, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said in a statement today. Sales slumped 39 percent at GM and 56 percent at Chrysler LLC after the U.S. companies told Congress they were running out of cash. Volkswagen AG fared best among major automakers, with deliveries down 16 percent.

European business and consumer confidence fell to a 15-year low in November as advanced economies suffered their first simultaneous recession in more than 60 years. The U.K. and Spain had the steepest drops among major markets, with East European sales also weaker. Eleven-month registrations slid 7.1 percent, accelerating from a 5.4 percent decline through October.

“This clearly demonstrates the weakness of European carmakers,” said Georg Stuerzer, an auto-industry analyst at UniCredit in Munich. “Talk of bankruptcy at GM wouldn’t have helped sales.”

A case for euthanizing NASCAR  By Robert Weintraub

As the proud owner of a Honda and a Toyota, I've been following the to-bail-or-not-to-bail dance between the federal government and the Big Three automakers from a slight reserve. Forgive me, but as I've worked as a producer on a television show about NASCAR and written lots of articles about the sport in recent years, I'm most concerned about the fate of Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Given the brutal financial climate, I should, out of pure self-interest, support whatever measures will preserve NASCAR. Nevertheless, I can't help but think that Detroit's version of the Troubles is the right time to put the sport out of its misery.

I don't recommend euthanizing NASCAR lightly. This is the sport that gave us sporting icons like Dale Earnhardt, Cale Yarborough, and the King, Richard Petty. I appreciate NASCAR's cutthroat competition, consider it a major sport, and think of the drivers as world-class athletes. But let's face facts—even if Ford, GM, and Chrysler get the cash they want from the taxpayers, they are going to have to pull back heaps of sponsorship dough from stock-car racing. Brian France, the CEO of NASCAR and grand pooh-bah of the sport, wrote a letter to Congress lobbying for the bailout, but that won't be nearly enough to win favor with the automakers, who will be slashing costs with a band saw, not a scalpel. More ...

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