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Long predicts cutthroat GT2 in 2010
Porsche recently announced that Patrick Long will again partner long-time teammate Jörg Bergmeister in the American Le Mans Series for the 2010 season, reuniting one of the Series' most successful driving duos at Flying Lizard Motorsports.  Long and Bergmeister, 2009 ALMS GT2 Driver's Champions, will compete in the #45 Flying Lizard Porsche GT3 RSR, in the new ALMS GT class, alongside teammates Seth Neiman and Darren Law in the #44 Porsche. 

Long and Bergmeister had a season for the ages in 2009, winning the Grand-Am Rolex 24 At Daytona to start the year, then winning six of 10 ALMS GT2 races, including a streak of five in a row, then an epic season finale at Laguna Seca. In doing so, they captured Flying Lizard's second consecutive team championship, Long's second driver's championship, Bergmeister's fourth driver's championship, and Porsche's 100th win in ALMS competition.  All tolled, Patrick and Jörg have won 17 races together in their careers, and are anticipating another ultra-competitive season in 2010.

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Johnson named AP Male Athlete of the Year
Jimmie Johnson
The post-season honors keep piling up for California native Jimmie Johnson and once again, the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is making history.

Johnson, who won the Pepsi 500 at the Auto Club Speedway in October and has four Fontana wins — the most by any driver — has been named the Male Athlete of the Year by members of the Associated Press, becoming the first race car driver to win this prestigious award in the 78 years it has been presented.

Johnson made history this season when he became the first driver to win four consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup titles, accomplishing a feat that the likes of Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough were unable to achieve.

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Fontana will offer special ticket package for Danica
The excitement is building for race driver Danica Patrick’s historic appearance at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010.

Patrick announced recently that she will run a limited NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule this next year, including the Stater Bros. 300 in Fontana.

The IndyCar Series driver will drive the No. 7 Go Daddy Chevrolet for JR Motorsports and team owners Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick.

Auto Club Speedway has announced that a limited number of the Dale Jr. and Danica Patrick ticket packages have been released in anticipation of Patrick’s NASCAR debut.For only $88 (a $140 value), the Dale Jr. and Danica Patrick ticket package includes:

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RCR Pit Crew Member D.J. Richardson Passes Away UPDATE Richard Childress Racing pit crew member Donald “D.J.” Richardson, Jr., passed away December 25 in a Massachusetts hospital from complications of the H1N1 virus. He was 37.

Richardson, of Leominster, Mass., contracted the H1N1 virus over the Thanksgiving holiday. He was admitted to Health Alliance Hospital in Leominster for evaluation, where it was determined he was suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome.

“All of us at RCR are saddened by D.J.’s passing,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “D.J. was a gifted tire changer, one of the greatest team players in the business and a valued member of the RCR family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

Richardson joined RCR in July 2009 and finished the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season as the rear-tire changer for the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet Impala SS team. He began his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career with Andy Petree Racing in 1999. He has also worked for Penske Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Braun Racing.

“I am shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of our friend and teammate,” said Matt Clark, director of human performance and leadership development of Richard Childress Racing.  “Anyone who knew D.J. realized that below the tough exterior was a caring father, friend and teammate. He had a huge heart and would do anything to help someone in need. D.J. loved changing tires and was recognized as one of the top pit athletes at the position. I want to extend my condolences to his family and friends.”

Details of memorial services in Massachusetts and North Carolina are pending and will be made available as soon as possible.

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Peugeot vetoes Audi for Sebring
Audi's participation in the 2010 Sebring 12 Hours with an interim version of its R15 prototype has been vetoed by arch rival Peugeot.

The German manufacturer proposed taking this year's R15s fitted with 2010-spec engines to the American Le Mans Series opener in March. The move, which needed unanimous agreement of rival teams, was rejected by Peugeot.

Audi Sport boss Wolfgang Ullrich explained that late confirmation of next year's Le Mans regulations made it impossible to build a revised R15 fully conforming to the 2010 regulations in time for Sebring on March 20.

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track news

No buyer found for unusable Donington UPDATE The Donington Park racing circuit has been handed back to the Wheatcroft Family after the administrators of the defunct Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd failed to find a buyer for the 150-year lease, which was taken out in 2007. DVLL also had a 17-year contract to host the British Grand Prix, but this too is now worthless as the race will now stay at Silverstone. Donington’s future remains in considerable doubt at the moment, although it is likely that someone will take overt he circuit and run it as a business, albeit at a rather lower level than it has been in recent years. Without grand ambitions of F1 the circuit can be a successful business, although repairing the damage done by DVLL will take some investment. Joe Saward Blog

12/24/09 (GMM)  Administrators of the Donington Park operation have not found a buyer, BBC News reported late Thursday.

The previous lease holding run by Simon Gillett went into administration following the failed bid to host the British grand prix beginning in mid 2010.

Administrators had said there was interest in the business, but the long term lease holding will now revert back to the Wheatcroft family.  Tom Wheatcroft died at the end of October.

The Leicestershire circuit is currently unusable, because renovation works in readiness for the formula one race had to be stopped prior to completion.


Ford and Geely agree on Volvo sale
Ford expects to sign a deal to sell its Volvo car unit to China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group by the first quarter of 2010 and close the deal in the second quarter, the U.S. automaker announced Thursday.

Ford said that all of the deal's key commercial terms have been settled. Ford added that work still needs to be done before the deal is completed, such as Geely securing its financing and getting approvals from the Chinese government.

In its statement, Ford said that the prospective sale “would ensure Volvo has the resources, including the capital investment, necessary to further strengthen the business and build its global franchise, while enabling Ford to continue to focus on and implement its core ONE Ford strategy.”

Ford was the only U.S. automaker to avoid bankruptcy and a U.S. government bailout thanks to the $27 billion borrowing program it completed before the crushing decline for the U.S. auto market that began in 2008. More at AutoWeek


E85 makes inroads on cost and availability
Three years ago, we embarked on a Midwest road trip in search of what was then the Holy Grail of fuel: E85. Our findings weren't too positive--there were far more E85-compatible vehicles on the road in 2006 (5 million) than there were E85 pumps to fuel them (about 700 out of some 200,000 fuel stations nationwide). In addition, those burning the mix of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol were paying a pretty penny for their earth-friendly ways, losing about 15 percent in fuel economy while often paying the same price as regular unleaded.

Experts assured us it was only a matter of time before E85 became more available, and at more reasonable prices. So here we are, in 2009, wondering whether those predictions have come true.

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racing news

Tony Stewart rained out down under
Sydney’s inclement weather has forced the postponement of this evening’s Valvoline Australian Sprintcar Grand Prix at Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway.

The event, featuring NASCAR Legend Tony Stewart, four-time World of Outlaws Champion Donny Schatz and All Stars Champion Tim Shaffer, is now scheduled for tomorrow evening (December 27).

The American trio will back up a few days later (Tuesday December 29) for the Hogs Breath Sprintcar International. Tuesday’s event will also feature a Demolition Derby.

On the first weekend in the New Year (January 2 & 3) Stewart, Schatz and Schaffer will be joined by fellow American Jason Johnson and Australia’s best including Brooke Tatnell, Max Dumesny, Robbie Farr, Ryan Farrell and Kerry Madsen to battle for the $50,000 to win Scott Darley race presented by Coca Cola.

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Toro Rosso crash-testing 2010 car STR5
(GMM)  Crash testing of Toro Rosso's new 2010 car is progressing well, technical boss Giorgio Ascanelli has revealed.

Due to the total ban on customer cars, the Faenza based team is for the first time having to design and construct its very own chassis, unlike in the past when it received the basic input of Adrian Newey's efforts at Red Bull Technology.

"We must now stand on our own legs," team boss Franz Tost told Switzerland's Blick.  60 new employees have been taken on in recent times, including 25 for the wind tunnel in Bicester (UK).

Crash testing of the STR5 has begun.  "We are on schedule -- and have already destroyed two million euros!" said Ascanelli.

STR took over from Minardi in 2006 with 80 staff; now there are 257.


USF1 website shows monocoque construction
(GMM)  USF1 has launched an official website, including a video showing progress on its 2010 car.

The new American entry's sporting director Peter Windsor recently denied Bernie Ecclestone's claim that it might not contest next year's world championship.

"F1 has not only survived the global recession, it is expanding still further, with new races in new countries and a 26 car grid," said part of the welcome message.

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Seasons Greetings


NASCAR throws Dale Jr. another bone
NASCAR does everything they can to help make the #1 star shine, but still he fails.
NASCAR is changing the eligibility rules for the Budweiser Shootout - again.

In a memo sent to race teams by NASCAR on Tuesday, candidates for the Shootout will include the 12 Chase for the Sprint Cup participants from the previous season, former Shootout, Daytona 500, and Coke Zero 400 winners, former NASCAR Cup champions and last year’s Raybestos Rookie of the Year.

After the Shootout moved away from rewarding the top qualifiers for the last 30 seasons and imposed amendments to the 2009 rules which included the top six in owner's points for each manufacturer and enabled representatives from all four car make to submit a “wild card“ entrant, the proposed rules for 2010 will be more inclusive and continue to qualify a minimum of 28 participants.

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Q & A with Corvette Racing's Doug Fehan
Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan has seen it all in motorsports, and he had to rely on every element of that hard-earned experience to navigate through a tumultuous 2009 season. In the midst of a global economic storm, Fehan steered Corvette Racing to the team's sixth win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the successful mid-year introduction of the GT2 version of the Corvette C6.R in the American Le Mans Series.

Corvette Racing's 10th anniversary season was a year of transition. The championship-winning GT1 Compuware Corvettes secured a seventh win in the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 21, and made their farewell appearance in the ALMS in Long Beach, Calif., on April 18. The curtain fell on the GT1 era on June 13-14 with a GT1 victory in Le Mans, France, as Johnny O'Connell, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia stood on the top step of the podium. Seven weeks later, two new-generation Corvette C6.Rs made their competition debut in the GT2 class at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

As the team conducted a five-race test program in preparation for a unified GT class in 2010, Corvette Racing posted five podium finishes and notched its first GT2 win at Mosport International Raceway on August 30. In the series' final five rounds, Corvette Racing scored more team and manufacturer points than any other GT2 entry, and O'Connell and Magnussen tallied the most points in the GT2 drivers championship. The season ended with fireworks at Laguna Seca as Magnussen walked away from his battered race car after a high-speed crash on the final lap of the season.

Under Fehan's leadership, Corvette Racing has become one of the world's premier production sports car teams. An ardent advocate for the Corvette cause and an icon for legions of faithful Corvette fans; Fehan received the ALMS "From the Fans" award in 2004, 2008, and 2009. In the following Q&A, he looks back at the 2009 season and looks ahead to 2010.

Q: Looking in the rearview mirror, what stands out in 2009?

Fehan: "There were really two parts to the season – our final races in GT1 leading up to Le Mans, followed by the debut of the GT2 program. Our focus was and will always be the 24 Hours of Le Mans. When GM was going through its restructuring, our greatest concern was that some might not understand the importance and significance of that event. It was a heartening moment when we were able to get past that point.

"In spite of many uncertainties, the team focused its energy on running the first round at Sebring, which we knew would be a great test of the engineering improvements we'd made in the race cars. And then going to Long Beach, we fulfilled the second half of our mission, which is marketing the Corvette and Chevrolet brands and representing our team sponsors.

"Everyone felt the importance of writing the final chapter of GT1 at Le Mans. They dedicated themselves to succeed, and it was absolutely amazing to see them embrace that idea. It fueled their fire because they knew the team was undergoing its most significant challenge, and concurrently they were designing, planning and building the GT2 cars. The preparation was almost as much fun as the race."

Q: And the highlight of the GT2 portion?

Fehan: "The win at Mosport. Watching the new cars' first laps at Mid-Ohio and knowing that we'd be competitive was certainly exciting, but the victory at Mosport was overwhelming. It happened much sooner than we expected, and it showed ALMS fans what they have to look forward to in 2010 with competition between Corvette, Ferrari, Porsche, Jaguar, BMW, and Ford.

"I think by any measure, the GT2 Corvette introduction was successful. Our objective was to focus on Corvette Racing's core strengths: preparation, durability and reliability. We've learned that is what scores points – it's not always the fastest car that wins races and championships. In five events, we had zero mechanical issues, and the cars were on pace. That was very encouraging."

Q: Surely one of the highlights of 2009 was your stunning victory over Jan "The Flying Viking" Magnussen in the Tour de Road America Bike Ride to Fight Cancer?

Fehan: "That certainly ranks right at the top, but in a different category (laughs). We had some fun, and the race benefited a good cause, the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I challenge the pit crews to improve continuously, and the bike race demonstrated to our drivers that there is going to be continuous improvement in their level of physical preparation as well. I mean, they ought to be able to keep up with the program manager!"

Q: On a serious note, what were the lessons learned in Jan's last-lap crash at Laguna Seca?

Fehan: "Unfortunately the hardest lessons you learn in this sport are always safety related. You never want to put your safety systems to the test, but when that moment arrives, it's very reassuring to know that they are validated. That's what we learned at Laguna Seca.

"Initially we had concerns about running an aluminum chassis, and we had concerns about how the roll cage was integrated into the chassis. The force of the impact exceeded 50 g's, and yet Jan walked away. When we analyzed the chassis after the crash, the safety systems worked just as they were designed, and the aluminum chassis did a marvelous job of absorbing the energy and protecting Jan from serious injury.

"The extent of Jan's injuries was a broken tailbone, which we attribute to the seat design. We have redesigned that part to prevent a reoccurrence in the future, so that is the upside of the incident. Despite the severity of the crash, the crew had the No. 3 Corvette repaired and fully operational within a couple of weeks."

Q: What is the status of the GT-spec Corvette customer car program for 2010?

Fehan: "We currently have two customer cars under construction, but we don't yet have confirmed buyers for them. There has been tremendous interest in the GT-spec Corvette C6.Rs, and we think with continued improvement in the global economy, the interested parties will be able to make a commitment. We'd be delighted to see more Corvettes racing in the ALMS or overseas."

Q: While there will be a single GT class in the ALMS in 2010, GT1 will continue in the FIA series and at Le Mans. What's your perspective on the two classes?

Fehan: "A year ago, there was general agreement regarding a unified GT class, which we will see in the ALMS in 2010. The intention at that time was to base the FIA GT1 class on GT cars, with limited modifications to the engine and aerodynamics. Since then, however, Europe has encountered the same economic issues that we have faced in the U.S., and many members of the racing community understandably wish to retain their current cars for financial reasons. Consequently some of the older GT1 cars will now be converted to the new regulations, including several privately owned Corvette C6.Rs, and the ACO has invited these cars to participate at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the economic climate improves, I hope that the decision makers will recognize the benefits of running one GT class at Le Mans and other venues."

Q: Corvette Racing will introduce a production-based 5.5-liter small-block V-8 engine in 2010 in place of the 7.0-liter and 6.0-liter engines used previously. What's the outlook for the engine program?

Fehan: "GM Powertrain has completed the initial dynamometer tests of the 5.5-liter small-block V8, and the race team has conducted the first track test with the new engine. We are quite satisfied with its performance level at this point. We plan to continue development and introduce the 5.5-liter engine package in competition at Sebring."

Q: What are Corvette Racing's goals for 2010?

Fehan: "The ALMS GT championship and victory at Le Mans."
(alms press release)


Fenway Sports Group, shifts gears
Fenway Sports Group has no plans to replace departing motorsports chief Brian Corcoran, which will lessen the agency’s sales and marketing role with its race team, Roush Fenway Racing.
Corcoran joined Boston-based Fenway Sports Group last year as executive vice president of motorsports and was charged with streamlining the sales and marketing activities between Fenway Sports Group and the race team, while also seeking cross-promotional opportunities with the Boston Red Sox. Fenway Sports Group and the Red Sox are both owned by John Henry, and Fenway Sports Group is a 50 percent co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing.

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While others falter, Mercedes Accelerates Racing Effort
Daimler AG's decision to double down on Formula 1 racing—a move it reinforced on Wednesday when its Mercedes unit signed on star driver Michael Schumacher—has left many in the auto industry scratching their heads.

Formula 1's inherent excesses, from its premium price tag to its huge carbon footprint, would appear to violate the prevailing Zeitgeist of belt-tightening and conservation. Yet unlike archrivals Honda, BMW AG and Toyota Motor Corp., both of which recently abandoned the racing circuit amid concerns about its image, Daimler is convinced the sport's popularity in key emerging markets and Mr. Schumacher's star power will make the decision pay off.

"It would be a missed opportunity" not to take advantage of the "world stage" Formula 1 has to offer, Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said in a letter to employees last month, defending the company's renewed focus on Formula 1 and investment in a new stand-alone team.

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"Vehicle Electrification - From Oil to the Grid"
More than 40 glitzy cars and concepts, technology of the future, thousands of journalists and top governmental officials are only the front fender to the vehicle that is going to motor the world's economy starting Jan. 11, 2010 when the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) opens its doors. While the place to learn about what the international automakers have planned for the future, the NAIAS is ready to once again be a forum on the industry for top leaders.

As proof, a series of symposiums await the world that will feature a look at the past, present and future of technologies designed to move the industry and a global economy forward.

Initial symposiums planned for Thursday, January 14 at NAIAS on the Detroit Hall Stage (main floor) include:

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racing news

Crocky Wright dies
Ernest Schlausky, A.K.A. "Crocky" Wright, one of midget car racing's most respected historians and a widely beloved icon within the sport, passed away in a  nursing home on the west side of Indianapolis, Ind. on Wednesday, December 23. He was just three weeks short of his 91st birthday. 

A passionate devotee of midget car racing for more than three quarters of a century, the New Jersey-born Crocky probably did more that any other individual to chronicle the history of midget racing on the East Coast. A prolific writer, even into his late 70s, he wrote literally hundreds upon hundreds of articles for a variety of weekly racing papers over a period of several decades (typically, merely in return for credentials at the pit gate) in addition to a number of books. He authored an ambitious six-volume history of East Coast midgets; a stats-filled hard-cover history of the fabulous short-lived late-1930s high-banked Nutley (New Jersey) Velodrome; a 1961 tribute to the life and career of the then recently fatally injured Johnny Thomson (for which Crocky turned all of the proceeds over to Thomson's widow); a similar effort shortly thereafter praising injured driver Rex Easton (turning all of the proceeds over to Easton's family), in addition to a variety of midget racing yearbooks, biographies on other drivers, a history of East Coast three-quarter midget racing, some fiction work, and even his own fascinating and sometimes amusingly irreverent memoirs, which nevertheless contained some surprisingly haunting and tender passages.

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Judge mocks NASCAR and Mayfield
U.S. District Court Judge Graham Mullen either is not happy with the attorneys for NASCAR and suspended driver Jeremy Mayfield or he has a sense of humor. Or maybe a little bit of both.

The judge has scheduled a Jan. 7 hearing over a variety of issues in the case. He scheduled the hearing on Wednesday, a day after NASCAR filed a sealed motion to compel, an action that implies it is not getting all the information it wants from Mayfield’s side.

In his order setting the Jan. 7 hearing, the judge wrote: “The parties, exhibiting a need for adult supervision, are ordered to appear for a status/discovery scheduling conference on January 7.”

Mayfield filed a lawsuit following his suspension for a May 1 drug test that NASCAR says produced a positive result for methamphetamines. Mayfield denies using methamphetamines, claiming the test results were produced by a combination of prescription medicine for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and over-the-counter allergy medication.

He is suing NASCAR and drug-testing laboratory Aegis Sciences Corp. for breach of contract, negligence, defamation, discrimination and unfair and deceptive trade practices. Scenedaily.com


Duno mocks Danica
Milka Duno plans to join IndyCar rival Danica Patrick in the ARCA season opener at Daytona on February, after enjoying a successful first stock car test at the track last weekend.

"I think I adapted to the car pretty quick, although it was not easy," Duno said. "I think the times show that.

"The car moves around a lot and you have to be very gentle. But I'm happy with the result although I think I could have done better on Sunday, if not for a broken piston on the engine."

"Well, she was testing last week at another track," said Duno referring to a private test session Patrick held at Orlando before running at Daytona.

"She ran a lot more laps than I did on Saturday, plus she had two cars at her disposal with all the latest techno gizmos and data acquisition equipment. And despite that she wasn't faster than I was."


Brumos sets lineup
Brumos Racing, which is scaling back its Grand-Am Daytona Prototype effort to a single car in 2010, announced a formidable five-driver lineup to defend its Rolex 24 at Daytona title.

Former Rolex 24 Hour winners Butch Leitzinger and Raphael Matos will join five-time champion Hurley Haywood in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley. They'll join team regulars David Donohue and Darren Law.

Donohue and Law were part of the 2009 winning Rolex 24 at Daytona team, driving the No. 58 Brumos car. Haywood, who plans to retire after the race, was third last year in the No. 59 Brumos car.


Leilani Münter May be the best of the female lot UPDATE Leilani Münter was 7th quick in her #59 NextEra Energy Resources Dodge on Sunday afternoon testing at Daytona International Speedway with a speed of 181.77 mph. Mark Gibson Racing gained valuable information that they hope to bring with them back to Daytona for the race on February 6. The team tried out several different suspension packages throughout Saturday and Sunday and finally found a set up they liked on Sunday afternoon.

"I was happy with the test overall. We were able to make a lot of changes to the car, some worked others did not. But that is why we go to the test," said team owner Mark Gibson, "We still have a lot of work to do before the race to close the gap on the Toyotas. I feel the engine program is our strong point. Now we just have to get the areo package worked out on our Dodges. After seeing the bodies on some of the top ten cars I realized we have some work to do. As a team I thought we worked very well together. We had some new crew members along with people who have worked for MGR for years. Everyone fit together as if they had worked with each other all along."

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racing news

New poll
The results of our last poll were as follows:
Who will win the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup title?
Jimmie Johnson 41%
Mark Martin 11%
Jeff Gordon 7%
Tony Stewart 9%
Kurt Busch 2%
Juan Montoya 27%
Greg Biffle 0%
Ryan Newman 0%
Kasey Kahne 1%
Carl Edwards 1%
A new poll is now posted on our Home page and asks, Should women have their own racing league?


Ecclestone predicts 'jaw dropping' 2010 for F1
Bernie Ecclestone is ecstatic that Schumacher is back
Bernie Ecclestone says the return of Michael Schumacher will make 2010 a 'jaw-dropping' season for F1 after a period of negative PR, not the least of which was the departure from the sport of Honda, Toyota and BMW.

Schumacher's comeback with Mercedes, Fernando Alonso's switch to Ferrari and McLaren's pairing of world champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button has left the 2010 title hunt wide open.

"I always said that Formula 1 is a strong brand," Ecclestone told the official F1 website. "It has demonstrated time and again that it can pull itself up by its own bootstraps. And yes, all indications point to a jaw-dropping season. Fans will love it.

"I think it is fantastic for Formula 1 that [Schumacher] turned into a comeback kid. But at the same time I also think that it's good for Michael.

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Schu helps Hockenheim sell tickets, Merc sell cars
Schumacher already having a positive effect
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has ensured a good Christmas and New Year for Mercedes-Benz and Hockenheim.

In the wake of the seven time world champion's decision to return to formula one in 2010, the German news agency DPA reports that tickets for next July's German GP are selling fast.

So fast, in fact, that Hockenheim-Ring GmbH has reportedly called off the Christmas vacation of a female employee so as to handle the unexpected influx of ticket orders.

Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, is expecting the excitement generated by the Schumacher-led German Superteam to sell "a great many cars" in 2010.

Norbert Haug told ZDF television that the 40-year-old's presence will also "draw a great many people's attention to the quality of the (Mercedes) star."


Budweiser Shootout eligibility rules change:
NASCAR announced Wednesday a revision to the 2010 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona format that provides fans with a strong lineup of drivers highlighted by last year's top performers and a collection of previous winners at the sport's most-storied race track. The 32nd annual season-opening event launches Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 6 with green flag set for 8:10pm/et. The new criteria are based upon the following qualifications, with eligibility based on a driver having competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series within the last two seasons:

" The 12 drivers that qualified for the 2009 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup
" Past NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions
" Past Budweiser Shootout champions
" Past Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 champions
" The reigning Raybestos Rookie of the Year

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Q&A with Michael Schumacher
With the exciting news of Michael Schumacher returning to Formula One via Mercedes GP comes a lot of questioning and wondering about what exactly sparked the sudden decision to mount a comeback. Schumacher answered questions from the press while he and Mercedes announced the three year deal.

What has motivated you to come back?
The motivation I think is pretty straightforward - the call I got from Ross [Brawn] at the end of November concerning the chance in my hand to go racing. Having this phone call from him, and the circumstances of Mercedes-Benz being involved as the owner, I felt great.

I never left the race track. I was tired of F1 by the end of 2006...but after three years of absence I have been getting back all the energy that I am feeling right now. I played around with motorbikes, and I feel ready for some serious stuff now.

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Video: Schumacher on his F1 return


Kudos to AR1.com!
A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Congratulations on being the first to report that Jenson Button would go to McLaren, Kimi Raikkonen would leave F1 and Michael Schumacher had signed with Mercedes GP.  This is why I am glad to pay for my AR1.com subscription every year, I live for the inside news on racing.  It makes the sport just that much more exciting. I like many others must check the site 10 times a day.  Jeremy Freehausen, Atlanta, GA 


Brawn happy to have Schumacher driving for him again
Mercedes Grand Prix team principal Ross Brawn announced on Wednesday morning he will be reunited with seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher as of next season. Brawn and Schumacher claimed a total of seven championship titles while working together and Benetton and Ferrari. Brawn has said he is looking forward to work with Schumacher again. "I am delighted that we can confirm today that Michael will make his much-anticipated return to Formula One next year and drive for our Mercedes Grand Prix team," Brawn said. "As seven-time World Champion, Michael's outstanding record in Formula One speaks for itself and I am looking forward to working with him again.

"With the completion of our driver line-up, I believe that we now have the most exciting partnership in Formula One with Michael and Nico, who provide the perfect mix of talent, experience, speed and youth.

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Schu confirms plan to stay in F1 until 2012
By 2012 look for Schumacher to have broken the magical 100 F1 win barrier and to add his record 8th (or more) F1 title.  Records that no one will ever break.  If he can do this in his 40's there will no longer be any doubt he was the greatest driver of all time.
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher on Wednesday said he does not intend to return to formula one for one year only.

It was announced earlier that, after a three-year 'retirement' following a 16-year grand prix career, the seven time world champion will be Nico Rosberg's teammate at Mercedes GP in 2010.

He then told international media during a teleconference - whose quality was compromised due to the sheer number of global participants - that the intention is for more than the one-year contract that has been signed.

"We are talking about a three year deal," said the 40-year-old German.  "It is not a one-off thing.  We are obviously looking for continuity."

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Luca di Montezemolo swipes at Mosley
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has taken a thinly veiled swipe at out-going FIA counterpart Max Mosley by using his end-of-season address to criticize what he saw as the Briton's desire to homogenize Formula One.

Speaking to journalists at a dinner to mark the end of the 2009 campaign, di Montezemolo did not refer to Mosley by name, but make it plain that he did not agree with his rival's desire to introduce common parts for all F1 cars, even if the proposal was made in the name of cost-cutting.

“A complicated year from a political point of view is coming to an end and we now clearly want to look to the future,” he insisted, “The previous management of the FIA did a great deal of good, especially in such crucial areas as safety, but, in most recent times, there were too many problems which led to serious consideration being given to Ferrari leaving F1 – that was the feeling of our main board – and, along with the other teams in FOTA, there was a move towards establishing a different race series.

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Kobayashi visits Sauber for seat fitting
Kamui Kobayashi
(GMM)  Kamui Kobayashi has visited Sauber's Hinwil headquarters to be fitted for the Swiss team's 2010 car.

With exclusive photos of the event published by Switzerland's Blick, the 23-year-old - who so impressed with his two races in 2009 prior to Toyota's withdrawal from the sport - also met in the factory with the team's boss and founder Peter Sauber.

"I'm not 100 per cent Japanese, I've been living for six years in Europe," said Kobayashi, who revealed that he has a French girlfriend.

"I had other offers, but when I was shown Mr. Sauber's unique factory and wind tunnel, I knew from his handshake that we had made a contract.

"His confidence is very important to me.  His philosophy about racing convinced me immediately," added Kobayashi.

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Teams scrap plans for common 2010 car launch UPDATE (GMM)  The F1 teams association FOTA has confirmed that plans for a common car launch for formula one teams at the end of next month have been scrapped.

To cut costs, the FOTA teams association was earlier reported to have agreed to stage a single event for the unveiling of the 2010 cars.

It was to take place on the last weekend in January in Valencia, just prior to the first group test of the pre-season at the nearby Ricardo Tormo circuit, with a budget of around 2m euros.

It was rumored, however, that the smaller teams were concerned that the spotlight and international coverage would not have been on them, and Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reported that logistical reasons were cited for the cancellation.

The publication said the clinching problem was the fact that not all teams - notably the new ones Lotus, USF1, Virgin and Campos - would have had a 2010 car ready to launch.

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Gascoyne building strong teams at Lotus
Mike Gascoyne
Experienced Formula One designer and engineer Mike Gascoyne has admitted that he is relishing the challenge of reintroducing the Lotus name to the top flight, especially having been involved in helping to build the team from the ground up

An unashamed fan of the marque from his youth, Gascoyne confesses that there is a personal elements to his latest role, as chief technical officer of Team Lotus F1, and admits that it is nice to find a home after a turbulent few years in the sport. Nicknamed 'the Rottweiler' by his peers, Gascoyne has a no-nonsense approach to the sport, but insists that he has been unfairly pictured as a difficult employee, particularly having parted company with both Toyota and Force India in recent years.

"I think, after my last two jobs, it became pretty clear that no-one wanted to employ me, so I thought I'd better set up my own team," he told the official F1 website, "I don't think I have a confrontational approach, but I am very straightforward and I say what I believe. At Toyota, the direction I wanted it to go technically wasn't where the management wanted, and that's fine. It's their choice, so we went our separate ways.

Despite the acrimony that accompanied the split from Toyota, however, Gascoyne admits to a tinge of disappointment at seeing the Cologne-based program curtailed this season.

"I do have mixed feelings about them leaving," he conceded, "In one respect, I'm very disappointed. When I went there in 2004, it was a fantastic opportunity to take the team forward, to win the world championship and, in 2005, I exceeded the goals that were set for me.

"They wanted to score a podium and reach 40 points - we scored five podiums and 88 points. The idea was to move on to score the first race win in 2006, and then the championship in 2007. But it was clear the senior management wanted the company to operate in a way I didn't feel would bring them the results. The bottom line was that they didn't get the results. In some ways, you could say ‘I told you so’ but, in other ways, I feel it is a terrible shame for the people out there. Really, my overriding feeling is of disappointment."

Among the benefits of Toyota's demise - and to some extent that of Renault - is that staff from both who previously worked under Gascoyne's leadership are now looking to rejoin him in his latest venture.

"One of the great things here is the number of people coming on board who want to work with me," he confirmed, "At Jordan, Renault and even Toyota, I built some very strong teams. That was resented at Toyota because the management didn't see that as the way to go, so it's nice that a lot of those people are coming over to Norfolk now."

The opportunity to rebuild the Lotus brand clearly energizes Gascoyne, and he is confident, not only that the team will have two cars on the grid in Bahrain for the 2010 season-opener, but also that it won't be disgraced.

"This is obviously a unique challenge, because it's setting up a whole team from scratch, not just the car, and it's a team that has the Lotus name," he reflected, "It's a daunting task, but the advantages are clear. We haven't got any baggage to deal with and we can set the team up to operate in a lean and efficient manner.

"You can't bring the Lotus name back into F1 without pressure - from Group Lotus and all the fans. And that's how it should be - we don't shy away from it. As F1 is changing and becoming less of a spending competition, hopefully now it's more about innovative engineering. And that's what Colin Chapman's philosophy always was, so if we can bring some success that would be a fantastic result. How quickly can we become competitive? A small, efficient operation has to look at doing so in three to five years, and that's our aim.

"The simple fact is we will be ready for Bahrain, it's just a question of how ready. We've said we want to be the best of the new teams, and I'm confident we'll be able to give that a good go. But I think it's not just about Bahrain, it's about our development pace three months from now, and where we are six months from now. I think we'll put on a good showing in Bahrain for a team that got such a late entry." Yahoo! Sports


Ferrari unveils new Formula 1 simulator
Ferrari test driver Marc Gene looks like a nerd in the Ferrari simulator
The Ferrari Formula 1 team unveiled the team's brand-new simulator in Maranello. Tuesday's ceremony took place in the structure built to accommodate the new machine. The first virtual laps at the wheel of Ferrari's simulator were driven by Ferrari's Andrea Bertolini. It's an important day for us as the completion of this project means we will now be able to tackle with confidence some of the challenges that make up modern-day Formula 1, while putting Ferrari at the cutting edge in terms of this technology," said Ferrari F1 team boss Stefano Domenicali. "Furthermore, I am pleased that such a complex project as this, which got underway around two years ago, has been completed on schedule thanks to the efforts of all those who worked on it."

The first virtual laps at the wheel of the simulator were driven by Andrea Bertolini, who worked with the Prancing Horse engineers on the development of the project, having gained a great deal of experience over the past few years, working on the simulator at the FIAT Research Centre. 

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racing news

Kenseth, Earnhardt Jr., Gordon Among Drivers To Appear
Daytona 500 champions Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are among the drivers that will appear at NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fests at historic Daytona International Speedway on Friday, Jan. 15 and Saturday, Jan. 16.

Race fans can get their sneak peek of Speedweeks 2010 with numerous activities with their favorite drivers from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series in the Sprint FANZONE located in the heart of the "World Center of Racing."

Among the activities planned for both days include:

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Schumacher signs Mercedes contract for 2010
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has now signed a contract to return to formula one next year with Mercedes, according to multiple authoritative sources.

AutoRacing1.com, Germany's Bild newspaper and the BBC in Britain say the seven time world champion, who turns 41 in early January, has signed a one-year deal.

Bild, valuing the contract at 7 million euros, said the German's decision is the "biggest comeback in sports history".  Schumacher reportedly signed the deal at Brackley, with an announcement to be made on Tuesday.

His spokeswoman Sabine Kehm would not comment, but Schumacher's friend Sebastian Vettel said he was happy to hear the news.

"This is his own decision for his own reasons but it makes me happy that he is going to be there.  I hope he is still fit enough for his age to ride along with us," the Red Bull driver is quoted as saying by RTL Nachtmagazin.

Bild said Mercedes is seeking special permission so that Schumacher can test the Brawn car in January.


Preparations Well Underway for 2010 Atlantic Championship
While there are still a few more days left in 2009, all involved with the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda are already focused on the 2010 season, which is set to kick off at Sebring International Raceway on Friday, March 19 as part of the festivities for the prestigious 58th Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh From Florida.

The Sebring event leads off a 12-race schedule that was announced last month and includes stops at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Lime Rock Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, New Jersey Motorsports Park, Miller Motorsports Park, Autobahn Country Club, the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières and Road Atlanta. The possibility of a 13th event still exists, with a decision expected shortly.

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track news

Langhorne Speedway reunion planned
The long and storied history of Langhorne Speedway will be brought to life at the Motorsports 2010 presented by StreetBlaze 100 Race Car & Trade Show at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pa., on Friday, January 22 through Sunday, January 24..

A large part of show space will be devoted to the one-mile legendary track, which operated from 1926 through 1971 and was labeled “the home of the brave” as it was considered one of the toughest and most dangerous tracks in the United States.

Race fans are invited to bring their Langhorne Speedway scrapbooks and memorabilia to share with other attendees.

Also, fans of past and present will have an opportunity to meet with many of the racing stars who made Langhorne Speedway a legendary race facility.

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EMPA names Johnson Driver of Year
The awards keep coming for NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson as the Eastern Motorsport Press Association has voted him the Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the Year.

EMPA is made up of members who are journalists, photographers and broadcasters that cover motorsports on a regular basis.

Johnson will have his award presented at the annual EMPA Convention being presented at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center in Trevose, PA, January 15 thru 17th. The presentation will take place during the NASCAR/EMPA Hall of Fame Dinner.

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USF1, Campos, say they will race in 2010
(GMM)  Bosses of the USF1 and Campos teams have played down Bernie Ecclestone's claim that they are unlikely to be on the F1 grid in 2010.

The F1 chief executive said this week that of the sport's four confirmed new teams, he has doubts about the aforementioned two.

"I'm surprised Bernie said that," USF1 sporting director Peter Windsor told BBC Sport.  "We will be there.  We're in good shape.

"Everything is going well and we are looking forward to the year," he added.

"We've just finished the chassis and are now in the hands of (engine supplier) Cosworth."

Windsor said there is no set deadline for completing the car at the American team's North Carolina base.

It was reported this week that USF1 is close to announcing the signing of Argentine driver Jose Maria Lopez, because he has now belatedly completed an $8m sponsorship package.

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Brian Stewart Racing to field USF2000 team
Two-time Firestone Indy Lights championship winning entrant Brian Stewart Racing announced plans to field a team in the Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda in 2010.

The new team will serve as a development step for the team's Firestone Indy Lights program, which claimed back-to-back entrant championships in 2005 and 2006.

"Since 2005, we have sponsored the Brian Stewart Racing Karting Championship (BSRKC) in an effort to enable all young people to be able to participate in a competitive karting series while developing their driving skills," said team founder, Brian Stewart. "Now we want to take our Driver Development Program one step further by establishing a new stepping stone between karting and our Firestone Indy Lights team. The decision to enter a team in the USF2000 Series also helps us to support the 'Road To Indy' ladder program that was recently announced by the Indy Racing League."

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Tony Stewart doing sprint cars "down-undah"
Tony Stewart
"Down Undah Mate"
photo by Paul Carruthers
Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart has arrived in Australia for an end of year holiday. He will be combining this holiday with four nights of racing in a sprint-car at Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway with his first night of racing coming on December 26 in the Valvoline Sprintcar Grand Prix. He will then contest the Hogs Breath International on December 29 followed by the $50,000 to win Scott Darley Memorial Race on January 2nd and 3rd.

After landing in Sydney yesterday morning, Stewart met with several members of the Australian media on the Sydney Harbour in front of two Australian icons, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Q: Welcome to Australia, it has been a long time since you've been here. How did this all come about?

A: I got a chance to come over for vacation is how it started and then having Donny Schatz come over be running the sprint-car over here, it was a situation where I could be coming to watch him. So why not come over and what him at the same time?

Q: It has been a long year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Season for you, talk us through the year. I believe it has been a couple of hears since you've had a holiday.

A: Yeah, it was. Having the start of Stewart-Haas Racing during the off-season I spent a lot of time in Charlotte and didn't get much of an off-season, so basically it was like having one gigantic long season that went through two years. It is nice to get a break to be able to come over here and come over here to enjoy myself.

Q: How would you rate your first year as a driver/owner in the top level of NASCAR?

A: I think considering we got both of our cars in the chase I was pretty excited about that. It was something that no other organization got 100% of their cars in the chase, for Ryan and I to both get in there I thought was pretty good. We won five races. Ryan got two poles for us. For a first year team I thought that was a pretty good season.

Q: You're such a busy man. You're a racecar driver, a race team owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the World of Outlaws and USAC, you are the owner or co-owner of several tracks, how do you keep up with it all?

A: (laughs) It's hard to. Days like today we're doing media stuff and that's part of it. You know that there are a lot of commitments that take up a lot of time. It's all about having good people around you that you can trust, that's half the battle. That's why I'm able to come here on vacation, knowing that I've got a good group of people back in Charlotte that are taking care of the race team while I'm gone.

Q: Sprintcar racing is obviously a huge passion for you. What does it mean to you to get back on the dirt track?

A: I get to race dirt late model three or four times per year and sprint-car two or three races per year so to come over here and run four nights in a two week period is something that I don't normally get a chance to run that many races so close together so I'm excited about it. It's a great opportunity to run with Donny (Schatz) as a team-mate and anytime you're team-mate has won the World of Outlaw title for four straight years and four Knoxville Nationals in a row, it is somebody that you want for a team-mate.

Q: Speaking of team-mates, the Tony Stewart Racing operation in the World of Outlaws recently announced Steve Kinser will be joining the team.

A: Yeah, to have a different team-mate for Donny is pretty exciting. To have the winningest driver in World of Outlaws history as Donny's team-mate is something that we're excited about. I feel as though we've got the two best drivers in the series, there is no better way of upping your odds to win races or championships than to have those two guys behind the wheel.

Q: For those that don't know about sprint-car racing, what is it about the sport that keeps you coming back?

A: Most of the time, we have got more horsepower than what we can use and that is what makes it fun and makes the drivers do their job behind the steering wheel, you can just hold it to the floor and drive around. I mean you have to pedal these cars. Anytime that you're running a car that has 850 horsepower that only ways only 1200 pounds, that's a huge power to weight ratio and makes it hard to control. You just look at them, I mean they don't look like something that just rides around real easy.

Q: Do you like getting back onto the dirt?

A: I love dirt, I always have. You know that's what I did when I came over here in 95, I think I ran 10 or 11 dirt races when I was here. That was definitely the highlight of my trip.

Q: You are used to the big crowds and the big money, I'm still not quite sure why is that your coming to a local speedway in Australia?

A: Why not?

Q: Is it just the love of dirt racing and sprint-car racing?

A: Oh yeah, I get a vacation and I was going to come and watch Donny race on my vacation, so why not race myself? If I'm already going to be here, I might as well race too. I mean it was literally that simple. It's not a difficult equation for me to figure out. At home this (weather) would be 70 or 75 degrees and when I left yesterday it was snowing, I think I'd rather be here. I think if I'm going to be here and there is going to be sprint-car races, I think I'd like to go sprint-car racing. It's pretty easy for me to decide.

Q: How many people are you travelling with?

A: Just the three of us.

Q: You'll all be racing?

A: Two of us, myself and Donny Schatz will be racing.

Q: I've got to ask about Australian racing, have you seen any of the Australian racing, not just sprintcars but more so I guess but our premier class, V8 Supercars?

A: We get a little bit of it over there that we get to watch, it wasn’t televised as much this year as it has been in the past but every time it has come on and I’ve had a chance to watch I enjoy watching it.

Q: There's no drivers that you can recall, we've had Jamie Whincup who has on two straight championships. There was some talk about him following Marcos Ambrose, obviously you don't know enough about him to know if he can do it or not.

A: nah, no idea.

Q: Do you like the Australian racing?

A: Yeah, it's fun. I mean, what is it - Bathurst that goes up the Mountain, that's one that I'd like to see in person. I've seen it on TV, it looks like a pretty cool event to go watch, looks like it is one of those events that you can't really appreciated it until you go live and see it once.

Q; How would you rate the performance over the past few years of Australian Marcos Ambrose in the NASCAR ranks?

A: Marcos has really done a great job. You can tell he wants to not just be there, but be successful there. And he’s done that. He’s won Nationwide Series races on the road courses, and he’s also gotten better and better on the ovals. Each year, you see him up front more often. He’s very motivated, and that’s the way you have to be in order to find success.

Q: How do the sprint-cars compare to what you are used to with the NASCAR, I guess you're not exactly a stranger to sprint-cars?

A: I get to run a sprint-car two or three times per year, so you know this trip I will double what I've got to do all season this year. It’s nice being in a car that you know is a third of the weight of our cup cars and has the same horsepower but I get to do it on dirt and have a wing that I can have control of in the car and have the ability to do it adjust it back and forward and go from there, so it's nice to be on a surface that I don’t get to race every week.

Q: Tony, you're 37 years old now.

A: 38 unfortunately, I like your number better though.

Q: Here in Australia in our V8 Series most drivers are pensioned off by the time they are your age. You still seem to be very competitive over in America. What are your thoughts about the longevity of racecar drivers?

A: I think it's how good car you take care of your self and passion and desire, you know all pro sports in the United States it seems like the ages are getting younger and younger of when guys are retiring but Mark Martin is a perfect example of our sport that you can go to you are 50 if you want. With that being the case I could race 12 more years and still if I take care of myself and don't have any major injuries that would allow me to still be competitive, I think it is a matter of as long as you still have that passion and desire, the racing itself isn't the gruelling part, it is the schedule that you keep, the media sessions, being at the race track three days per week, test sessions, commercial shoots, photo shoots, all of the things that go into it that don't necessarily pertain to driving a race car, that's the stuff that wears on you. It finally gets a chore and eventually gets it to a point where it is not fun anymore.

Q: As well as owning a team, you own a few race tracks and co-own a few race tracks. Can you tell me a bit about what it is like to own a track like Eldora.

A: I love it. My passion has always been dirt track racing and I love what I do with the NASCAR side of things but I love going back and some of the best times of my life was when I was racing sprint-cars and midgets, now I get to drive dirt late models and winged sprint-cars every now and again, which I never ever got a chance to do before I came here. The first time I ever ran a winged car was here in 95, it's something I’m passionate about I love being able to carry on the tradition that Earl and Denise Baltes has built and you know hopefully I can make it the next 50 years better than the first 50 years of the speedway.

Q: You've won 80 million dollars in prize money over your career, a) why do you still live at home and b) what do you want for Christmas this year?

A: (laughs) I’ve already got what I wanted for Christmas, I got to come here. That's my Christmas present, I still own the house that I grew up in in Indiana and I also own 400 acres outside of town that I'm building a log home on. It's home to me, I didn't get caught up like some of the guys moving to New York or Florida. I'm right at home where I am, and am one of those guys who enjoys being home in my t-shirt and jeans in my tennis shoes, it is who I am and who I've always been and I'm proud of that. It's just what I'm into and what I like.

Q: You've got two and half weeks here, is it just Queensland and Sydney that you'll be travelling round?

A: I'm going with Donny, Donny is the tour guide. I got in the hotel a minute ago and started unpacking and stuff, he said wait a minute we're not staying here. I was like where are we going? He said just pack your bag back up, I don't even know where I'm going today. We checked in and checked out already (within the hour).

Q: Here in the V8 Supercar it is always talk about going it to be like NASCAR. Do you have any thoughts on what is need to take it to the same level as NASCAR?

A: I would have no idea because I haven't been here since 95 and you know when I was here I was strictly running dirt cars at that time. I think the thing that has made NASCAR so popular is marketing, getting corporate sponsors involved has definitely been a huge key in helping to grow NASCAR to what it is but at the same time getting the fan interest to what it has, those two keys have contributed to making NASCAR what it is.

Q: I see you're sponsored by Old Spice, can you measure what your driving achievements has done for that brand?

A: I know the numbers that they tell me. It boils down to advertising, it has to make sense to them. There is a budget that they spend with the race teams, they have to recoup that costs and make more to make that program work for them. It's not just an easy deal where you just throw a corporate sponsor on the side of the car, there are a lot of obligations you make for them - photo shoots, promotional shoots. Like I mentioned earlier, things that don't pertain to making the race cars go fast but it's part of what you do.

Q: How much does it cost to run a NASCAR team?

A: A lot.

Q: How confident are you of you sweeping all four races in Sydney?

A: I would say that it is highly unlikely, if I could win one I would be happy. You’ve got to remember this is a type of car that I think I've ran a total of about maybe 18 races in my career in these cars. I only get to run them two or three times per year but the good thing is I've got our driver that won the World of Outlaw championship for us as a team mate. I've got the best team-mate you could have to ask advice to and he'll make me better than what I am.

Q: What are you looking forward to most while you are here in Australia?

A: Just having fun, I don't car what we do, just as long we are having fun doing it.
(press release)


Target Chip Ganassi Racing featured on VERSUS program
NFL linebacker Junior Seau smelled the ethanol, got his hands dirty and lifted a few tires during his weekend with the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew for Scott Dixon during the Infineon Raceway race weekend in August.

What he learned and experienced will be shown on "Sports Jobs with Junior Seau" on VERSUS. The first airing of the pit crew episode is 10 p.m. (EST) Dec. 23.

Seau, a 19-year veteran who played with the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, experiences a different sport each episode of the show, trying behind-the-scenes jobs that make the athletic activity possible.


Castroneves ready to welcome new member of Penske Racing
Team Penske's Helio Castroneves and his girlfriend, Adriana Henao, are preparing for a very special gift this holiday season.

The couple is expecting their first child - a little girl that will be named Mikaella - over the holidays and they could not be more excited. The baby is due shortly after Christmas.

"Adriana is doing great and we are just waiting for the little one to arrive," said Castroneves, the three-time Indianapolis 500 champion with Team Penske. "Like we do at Team Penske, we are trying to make sure we are well prepared for the big race. We have been working on her room and getting everything ready - basically just making sure we are set to go when we get the green flag."

The expectant mother and father are in Atlanta, where the baby will be born and where Henao and her family reside. They have prepared the baby's room with all the necessities, including a beautiful crib and all the stuffed animals a newborn could possibly need.

"It has been a crazy year but this is the best ending we could hope for in 2009," said Castroneves. "Adriana and I are so happy and we are looking forward to the best Christmas present of all!"


Briscoe Weds Manske in Hawaii
IZOD IndyCar Series driver Ryan Briscoe was married to ESPN anchor Nicole Manske in Maui, Hawaii, Dec. 19.

The couple kicked off their tropical wedding celebration Dec. 18 by treating each of their 100 guests to a traditional luau celebration. The following day, the Team Penske driver and Manske said their vows during a cliff-side ceremony under the Hawaiian sunset.

Following the ceremony and a beach-side dinner, guests were treated to a club-like "after party" that featured a 12-foot ice martini bar, an ice cream sundae bar and the couple's favorite indulgences: french fries for Manske and salt and vinegar chips for Briscoe.

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SKUSA announces schedule
Now entering its third season of competition, the SKUSA Central States Challenge (SCSC) is proud to release its schedule for the 2010 campaign. The Superkarts! USA regional program has grown continually over the last two years and is expected to see more expansion in the coming year. Working around the new SKUSA Pro Tour schedule and making sure that competitors will have ample time between events, the SCSC has scheduled seven races over five weekends from May to September - counting the best five results toward each class championship. Three venues will return in 2010, while two new locations have been added to help expand the regions base.

The opening round of the 2010 season will be a double-header weekend at the New Castle Motorsports Park in Indiana on May 15-16. The SCSC made its first visit to the New Castle facility in 2009 with great success and looks to repeat that popular outing. The weekend will be the opening two rounds of the seven-race championship with a full slate of racing (Qualifying, Prefinal, and Final) to take place on both Saturday and Sunday.

This coming season will also mark the return to the Gateway International Raceway. The opening venue in ’09, a temporary sprint track constructed within the facility’s oval and road course will be host to the third round of the series on June 26-27. For the one-race weekends, such as this early summer trip to Gateway, practice and qualifying will take place on Saturday with the Prefinals and Finals commencing on Sunday. The series will break for the month of July as the series organizers will to turn their focus to helping host the second round of the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour - the SummerNationals - in the St. Louis area over the July 16-18 weekend (location to be announced).

The first of two new tracks on the SCSC 2010 schedule is the challenging USA International Raceway in Shawano, WI. The August 6-8 event at the northern Wisconsin facility will be the second doubleheader weekend of the season, bringing rounds four and five of the program to the undulating circuit. The addition of USAIR will help build northern support in the Central States area. The second new track to the series is the Precision Driving Center in Kansas City, MO. The new facility will host round six on August 21-22. The final round of the 2010 schedule will take the series back to the St. Louis area at the I-55 Raceway in Pevely, MO on September 11-12.

“The 2010 season is projected to be our best yet,” stated SKUSA Central States Challenge Director Pam Freund. “Coming off the growth of our first two years and the addition of the SKUSA Pro Tour to our area, we should see the entry numbers and competition increase more than what we saw in 2009. Tom Kutscher and his SKUSA operation continues to be a great relationship for us and with the new Pro Tour, I see nothing but great things for the future.”

With the creation of the SKUSA Pro Tour and the new class structure format for 2010, the SCSC will be revamping their class structure to mirror the organization’s changes, and they are also excited about the addition of the new national licensing system. The reorganized shifter classes will see unparalleled simplicity with the presentation of S1, S2, S3, S4, S5 and G1 categories. The Stock Moto categories, along with the Masters open division, offer plenty of options for drivers of any experience, including the popular S5 Junior Shifter category that has exploded in the area. The S1 category will be the ‘Expert’ division for the Stock Moto package for those holding the SKUSA ‘A’ license. The ‘Amateur’ level drivers will compete in the S2 class for those carrying a SKUSA ‘B’ license - where all current S3 competitors will be automatically placed. Those new to the SCSC and/or SKUSA program will need to apply for either the ‘B’ or ‘A’ license if they wish to compete in S2 or S1, respectively. The new class that is expected to see growth at the regional level is the new S3 category, reserved for ‘Novice’ drivers carrying the ‘C’ license. The S4 category will remain roughly the same as the Masters Stock Moto division.

The TaG Senior, TaG Masters and TaG Junior divisions return, adjusted to the technical regulations SKUSA has previously released for the ‘Touch and Go’ engines. Additional classes to run with the SCSC as Local Option will be the Yamaha Senior SuperCan, Yamaha Junior SuperCan, TaG Cadet, Yamaha Junior Sportsman, and Kid Kart.

The SKUSA Central States Challenge has already signed on a number of supporters as class sponsors for the 2010 season: Corrida Karting, Crockett Motorsports, Farmer Insurance - Rick Freund Agency, Unique Heating & Cooling, Ostrom Painting & Sandblasting Inc., Margay Racing, Desloge Foot & Ankle - Dr. Christopher Sloan, and Mates Concrete. To find out more about being part of the 2010 SKUSA Central States Challenge or if you questions on the new class structure and licensing system, visit www.centralstateschallenge.com or contact Pam Freund at 636-262-7678 or else email pamelafreund@att.net

2010 SKUSA Central States Challenge Schedule

Date    Track    Location

May 15-16        New Castle Motorsports Park    New Castle, IN

June 26-27        Gateway International Raceway  Granite City, IL

August 6-8        USA International Raceway        Shawano, WI

August 21-22    Precision Driving Center            Kansas City, MO

September 11-12          I-55 Raceway    Pevely, MO
(press release)


Radon unveils new chassis
The first images of an innovative new F2000 car, the Radon Rn.10, were released today. At least four cars have been sold and will contest the 2010 F2000 Championship Series season, which begins in April at VIR.

"We started with a clean sheet of paper," according to Dr. Nathan Ulrich, Technical Director of Radon Sport.

Radon Sport introduced an aero package for the Van Diemen chassis during the 2009 season, which resulted in significant lap time improvements and race wins. Ulrich felt the Rn.10 was the logical next step: "After testing a Van Diemen F2000 in the wind tunnel in August, we realized we had exhausted the potential of that chassis and a completely new car was necessary."

A team of designers from the US and the UK took on the task. Ulrich credits Ken Anderson for much of the innovation in the new car:

"Ken guided the Rn.10 suspension design and shared his experience in several other key areas,” commented Ulrich. “He was concerned that we not repeat the mistakes made by other small formula car constructors, and his ideas resulted in several novel features."

Miqdad Ali and Robert Perry, aerodynamicists with extensive experience in motorsport, including Formula 1, were responsible for the aero design.

Ali explains: "There are many CFD packages available, but few are capable of accurately simulating formula car aerodynamics. We are using state of the art CFD software and practices, the same used by several championship F1 teams. The final design is a very significant improvement over previous F2000 cars."

At least four Radon cars will be campaigned in the 2010 F2000 Championship Series, starting at VIR in April. GTP Motorsports, a former F2000 series championship team, will field two Rn.10 cars.

The New Rn.10 F2000 chassis. (click for high-res)
"After working with Radon Sport last year with their Van Diemen aero project, we are excited to help develop the Rn.10 into a race winning car," said Glenn Phillips of GTP. "We provided lots of input in the areas of quality and serviceability during the design phase. We know the car will be very fast, but it will also be more reliable and a lot easier to work on."

The first production run of Rn.10 chassis has been sold and is currently in build. The design is fully compliant with SCCA 2010 Formula Continental regulations.

The 14-race, seven-weekend 2010 F2000 Championship Series gets going on April 9th at VIR, followed by Road Atlanta in May and Mosport in June. Then it's Watkins Glen with IRL and Lime Rock with ALMS in July before Road America in August and the season finale at Mid-Ohio over Labor Day. The F2000 Series posted the highest average car count on the open wheel development landscape in 2008 and 2009 with an average of 30 entries per race.

Radon Sport LLC is a new company comprised of talent drawn from motorsport, aerospace, and manufacturing. Facilities include three CFD computing clusters, extensive solid modeling and FEA tools, over 40,000 square feet of manufacturing space, 3 and 5-axis CNC machine tools, and unique composites manufacturing capabilities. Customers include aerospace, military, transportation, and medical companies, as well as constructors at all levels of motorsport, including Formula 1. For more information, visit http://www.radonsport.com or email info@radonsport.com. (press release)


Acura/Honda and De Ferran sever ties
Honda Performance Development, Inc. announces an amicable and successful conclusion to the agreement under which de Ferran Motorsports served as the primary testing and development team for the Acura sports-car program.

The de Ferran team spent the past two motorsports seasons testing and developing Acura’s ARX-01b and ARX-02a prototypes for American Le Mans Series competition. In 2009, de Ferran Motorsports played an integral role in helping Acura become the first manufacturer to win ALMS LMP1 and LMP2 prototype championships in the same season.

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Henkel, Mercedes, settle F1 sponsorship dispute
(GMM)  The sponsorship dispute between the Mercedes GP team and Henkel, a German adhesives and liquids company, has been settled.

It emerged last week that, after a Henkel official agreed a 90 million euro deal for 2010 and beyond with Brawn GP earlier this year, the company's CEO and board did not approve the contract and were not prepared to honor it.

Henkel was reported to have also filed a suit against the Brackley based team, which was sold to Mercedes after the end of the 2009 season.

But Mercedes announced in a statement on Tuesday that the dispute has been "resolved by mutual agreement", with "all potential claims" and court proceedings dropped.

The rogue former Henkel staff member, meanwhile, is the subject of an embezzlement and fraud investigation, and Mercedes said it will "cooperate with the prosecutor's office".


Alonso: I am at peak of my career
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso says he is joining the Italian team at the peak of his career.

"I'm really looking forward to the start of next year," Alonso said during a PR event in Asturias on Monday.

"I'm joining the best team in the world, Ferrari, and I'm arriving at the best moment of my career. Right now I feel like I've never felt before. I think I'm at my best moment as a driver and as a person.

"I hope that joining Ferrari means winning titles to share with Asturias and Spain."


GP3 announces 2010 calendar
2010 GP3 calendar
Barcelona May 8-9
Portimao June 19-20
Valencia June 26-27
Silverstone July 10-11
Hockenheim July 24-25
Budapest July 31-August 1
Spa August 28-29
Monza September 11-12

2010 GP3 teams' entry list
Addax Team
ART Grand Prix
Atech CRS Grand Prix
Jenzer Motorsport
Manor Racing
Mucke Motorsport
MW Arden
Status Grand Prix
Tech 1 Racing

Skip Barber

6 karting drivers awarded Skip Barber entries
The Championship Karting International (CKI) and WSK North American Series would like to congratulate their six deserving drivers for being awarded entries to the annual Skip Barber Scholarship Shootout. Drivers will be competing for over $255,000.00 worth of seat time in various Skip Barber programs throughout the United States with the top prize of two fully funded rides in the Skip Barber National Championship.

With the list of forty drivers being presented at the annual Performance Racing Industry trade show this past weekend, CKI names like Neil Alberico, Remo Ruscitti, Spencer Pigot, Tristan DeGrand, RC Enerson and Trent Hindman could be seen scattered throughout. All six of these drivers competed in CKI action in the 2009 season showing strong results.

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Tony Stewart lands down under
Stewart will pilot the Garry Rush-owned #14 car at Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway
Paul Carruthers
Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart landed in Sydney, Australia today ahead of his four-night campaign at Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway over the next fortnight.

Stewart, 38, is one of the world’s most successful motorsport drivers having won not only in the highest level of Stock car racing but he was also crowned the 1997 IndyCar Series Champion.

His visit this year, which coincides with a well-earned end of year holiday, will see him take to the famous Parramatta dirt oval track against some of the world’s best drivers behind the wheel of an 800-plus horse-powered SprintCar.

The past 12 months has been one of the busiest periods in Stewart’s life having completed his first year as a driver/owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Stewart-Haas Racing and he is using his Australian trip to relax while combining it with some racing.

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racing news

Six drivers in Final Day battle to secure dream “prize”
Six drivers go in to the fourth and final day of Future Driver Search 2010 program at the Infineon Raceway on Tuesday (22 Dec).

Two drivers will win fully-funded drives in the 2010 Jim Russell Championship Series.

Almost 40 drivers began the Selection Process on Saturday (19 Dec) with 20 progressing in to today’s (MON) program. Judges selected the following after further on- and off-track evaluation today:

  • Bastien Graber (18), from Niddatal, GERMANY
  • James Kovacic (16), from Forresters Beach nr Gosford, AUSTRALIA
  • Felipe Polehtto [nee Poletto Bastos] (20), from Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL
  • Gary Carlton (23), from Marysville, California, USA
  • Alex Ellis (18), from St Catharines, Ontario, CANADA
  • Jeffrey Westphal (23), from San Carlos, California, USA

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SPEED again to broadcast F1 races in the USA
SPEED and Formula One Management have reached an agreement to extend a relationship that dates back to 1996, the network’s first full season on the air. SPEED will continue to offer its long-running live coverage of the FIA Formula One World Championship, including live coverage of qualifying and practice sessions.

“The global Formula One fan base is one of the most passionate in all of motor sports,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “In America, fans gather at all hours of the morning -- with races coming in from places like Malaysia, Singapore and Monaco -- to watch SPEED and cheer their favorite drivers and constructors. We look forward to continuing and expanding our relationship with these fans, both on air and through SPEEDtv.com.”

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Road America announces NASCAR race
Road America and NASCAR have announced that the Nationwide Series will headline a four-day race weekend, at the legendary road course, June 17-20, 2010. The Nationwide Road America 200 will run on Saturday, June 19, 2010. Historically, the track has held two NASCAR races, a 1956 Grand National division race and the 2001 Re/Max American Challenge.

Road America will offer NASCAR fans the unique perspective of a multiple-turn road course. The 4.048-mile circuit's 14 turns, three high-speed straight-aways and dramatic elevation changes provide constant competitive action. "The NASCAR Nationwide Series is an exciting addition to our diverse 2010 schedule. The spectator experience at Road America is like none other and we expect both our loyal and new fans to enjoy watching their American race heroes tackle our challenging natural road course," stated George Bruggenthies, Road America President and General Manager.

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F2000: Under the Eyes of the Team USA Scholarship
For the 2010 season the aspiring drivers of the F2000 Championship Series will continue to be under consideration for prestigious Team USA Scholarships. The program provides end-of-season opportunities at the Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy events in England for talented American drivers rising through the ranks of the open wheel ladder system. Drivers also enjoy a number of opportunities to visit manufactures and teams, including Lola Cars and the McLaren Technical Centre. F2000 Series champion Chris Miller and rookie of the year Benjamin Searcy were among the 2009 nominees.

“Outright speed is obviously important for anyone looking to move up auto racing ladder, but in this sport it takes much more than that to be successful,” commented Team USA Scholarship President and founder Jeremy Shaw.

“For most young drivers, obtaining outside funding is essential, and to do so requires a wide variety of skills. Quite frankly, in that regard, racing isn't really much different than any other career. The more you put into it, the more likely you are to reap rewards."

2009 F2000 champ Chris Miller was among the 2009 Team USA nominees. (click for high-res).
The scholarship winner list reads like a who's who of road racing and includes: A.J. Allmendinger, Conor Daly, Paul Edwards, Memo Gidley, Joey Hand, Bryan Herta, J.R. Hildebrand, Andy Lally, Josef Newgarden, Tony Renna, Buddy Rice, Bryan Sellers and Jimmy Vasser.

"If you look back through the list of past Team USA Scholarship winners, I think what stands out is that they are as accomplished off the track as they are on it,” Shaw said. “For example, I am proud to say that all of those who have gone on to build successful careers -- which is the vast majority -- not only have expressed their gratitude for the opportunity that was presented to them through the scholarship, but have actually dug into their own pockets to ensure the program is able to continue."

F2000 drivers will be monitored by Shaw's network of correspondents looking for promising young drivers.

"I have been a firm believer in Formula Ford 2000 for many years," said Shaw. “The cars are relatively affordable to run, and provide an excellent platform for teaching drivers how to maximize the potential of both themselves and their cars."

As for funding the scholarship, a wide variety of motorsports-related companies, teams and drivers contribute to the program which sends young American hopefuls to do battle on race tracks overseas.

"The scholarship has been a labor of love for many years now, and I hope we will be able to continue it for a long time to come,” Shaw added.

“It is made possible by help from a wide variety of sources -- companies and individuals -- who all share the same goal: to help foster young talent. I am especially grateful to the likes of vintage F1 racer Doug Mockett and the Road Racing Drivers Club, and its president, Bobby Rahal, for keeping the dream alive."

The scholarship was founded in 1990 and has awarded some 32 young American drivers deserving opportunities overseas.

The F2000 Championship Series season starts on April 9th at Virginia International Raceway. (press release)


Get your garages ready
Even Toyota is working on a plug-in version of the Prius because with the current you cannot drive the current Prius without polluting the environment because the gasoline engine kicks in all the time.  Plug-in electric cars getting their recharges from Nuclear Power plants or Wind Mills generate zero carbon and, as with the Volt, will be EPA rated at 230 MPG. 
Whether you realize it or not, you will eventually be buying a plug-in electric car as pollution and cancer causing fossil fuel burning cars go the way of the dinosaur.  Fossil fuel motors will only run as generators should your batteries need recharging while on an extended trip or commute.  Otherwise your electric car will emit zero carbon emissions while running on battery.  No worries about performance, electric cars will soon smoke today's cancer causing dinosaurs.  Some already do.

So if you are building a new house, or upgrading your garage, you would be wise to have a 240-volt wire run from your main home circuit breaker box to your garage.  However, we would recommend that you just have the wire capped and placed in an outlet box with a blank face plate until you determine which 240-volt outlet you require.  Unlike 120 volt outlets, there is no standard 240-volt outlet.  There is a plethora of them.  In many cases the service may get hard-wired directly into your cars wall mounted charging system.

General Motors was the first automaker to reveal new charging equipment (pictured right) that complies with the latest automotive industry standards for charging plug-in electric vehicles established by the Society of Automotive Engineers. GM's fast charge unit can work with any new electric vehicle under the new SAE standard. It is wall-mounted using 240-volts to charge the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle in about three hours. It was unveiled at the Plug-In 2009 conference held Aug. 10-13 in Long Beach, CA.

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Yoong slams Petronas' Lotus snub
(GMM)  Former F1 driver Alex Yoong has slammed Petronas' decision to become title sponsor to the Mercedes GP team.

Yoong, who contested 18 grands prix for Minardi in 2001-2, has joined the new Malaysian-owned Lotus team as its head of Asian driver development.

Team Lotus, a joint initiative of the Malaysian government and Malaysian entrepreneurs, had hoped to secure the backing of Petronas, the state-owned oil company.

But after a long association with the Swiss team Sauber, Kuala Lumpur-based Petronas has instead signed a new long term deal to be the rebranded Brawn team's title sponsor.

"Words fail me," Yoong, now 33, wrote on his Twitter page.

"Mercedes (is) a good team, no doubt, but what Lotus is doing is completely ground breaking and brave and Petronas not seeing that fills me with shame," he added.


2010 Chevrolet Equinox named Urban Truck of the Year
2010 Chevrolet Equinox
Today, the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox was named the Urban Truck of the Year by On Wheels Media. The Equinox was selected as the best new truck for urban and suburban drivers by On Wheels Media and an independent panel of 15 automotive journalists.

Randi Payton, On Wheels Media's president and publisher said, "The Urban Vehicle of the Year resonates with the majority of new car buyers who live in urban and suburban areas, who drive on crowded road conditions. The vehicles chosen are cost and fuel efficient, and have the performance and safety characteristics that are relevant to the consumers in Metropolitan areas."

Chevrolet will accept the award for Best Urban Truck of the Year at the 14th Annual Urban Wheel Awards, January 12, 2010, during the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). 

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New report reveals the state of F1 in the downturn
  • Total revenues drop by $200m to $4.6m as team owner spending takes a sharp decline
  • F1 Group grows race fees, broadcast revenues and series sponsorship
  • Teams suffer in the economic decline as their sponsorship revenues fall by 8% 

Formula One’s total revenues dropped by US$200m this year as the sport grappled with the economic downturn, but it still generated revenues of US$4.6bn, according to research contained in the new edition of Formula Money, the industry monitor for F1.

The new report breaks down the sources of revenue for the sport, including team sponsorship, race revenues, TV rights and car maker spending. Eight chapters cover sponsorship, trackside advertising, teams, drivers, races, media, GP2 and an overview of the sport, containing data such as a valuation of every current team sponsorship deal to the typical budget for a Grand Prix – invaluable data for executives preparing for the new season in 2010.

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racing news

2010 Jim Russell seat up for grabs
Twenty drivers will spend the next two days trying to earn themselves one of two, fully-funded “seats” up for grabs in the 2010 Jim Russell Championship Series as the inaugural Future Driver Search program reaches its climax.

Almost 40 drivers, representing 10 different countries, have participated in the four-day selection process at the Infineon Raceway, Sonoma (CA) since Saturday (19 Dec).

Britain’s double Le Mans 24 Hour race winner, Allan McNish, and his fellow judging panel members, have now chosen 20 drivers who progress after two-days of detailed evaluation – today’s (SUN) phases taking place in changeable weather conditions. 

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Danica nervous about stock car debut
Danica talks to Tony Eury Jr. who will mentor her
Danica Patrick, who announced Tuesday that she will drive a limited NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule in 2010, admitted she's a little apprehensive about making her stock-car debut.

"I'm definitely nervous about next year running in the Nationwide Series," said Patrick, who was in Dallas as part of Time Warner Cable's launch of its Road Runner Mobile network. "It's going to be really difficult and it's going to be a real challenge. Obviously with the primary focus being on the IndyCar Series, it's not as if my core focus is on it. I'm going to give it all I have. I don't doubt I have a great team around me in the Nationwide Series."

"It's done this way on purpose," said Patrick, who will test her ARCA car next week. "No. 1, I can feel it out and get a feel for whether I really like the car. Also I can start small and see if it really goes from there. I like the structure. Everyone around me wants me to be successful if I make it to Sprint Cup one day. Their advice to me is to start small."

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Vettel beaten to German sports award
Sebastian Vettel
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel has been beaten to the sportsman of the year title in Germany's "Sportlern des Jahres 2009" awards.

In front of 750 guests during the gala in Baden-Baden, the 22-year-old Red Bull driver - who finished the drivers' championship 11 points behind Jenson Button - lost out to swimmer Paul Biedermann.

At this year's world championships, 23-year-old Biedermann beat Ian Thorpe's 2002 world record for the 400m freestyle that had stood since 2002.

He also set a new world record for the 200m event.

Biedermann's 2009 feats attracted 3,569 votes, compared with Vettel's 2,034.  German discus thrower Robert Harting placed third, 597 votes behind Vettel.


Mercedes signs Petronas as title sponsor
This is how the Petronas name will appear on the cars, which will be painted Mercedes Silver
(GMM)  Contrary to recent reports, Petronas has decided to remain a formula one team sponsor in 2010 and beyond.

After many years of backing Hinwil based Sauber, it was announced on Monday that the Malaysian oil company is to become Mercedes' title sponsor.

The long term agreement will see the Brackley based team become officially Mercedes GP Petronas formula one team.

The new livery and 2010 Mercedes single seater will make its track debut at Valencia on 1 February.

"Daimler, our premium brand Mercedes-Benz and Petronas will work together both on and off the track and I am sure that everybody involved will guarantee their absolute dedication to success," said Norbert Haug.

Full Press Release

Stuttgart/Kuala Lumpur - Mercedes GP is delighted to announce the signing of a long-term agreement with PETRONAS which will see the Malaysian national oil and gas company become the title partner to the new Silver Arrows works team. 

From 2010, the new team will compete in the FIA Formula One World Championship as the Mercedes GP PETRONAS Formula One Team and will carry the distinctive PETRONAS branding across the car and team liveries. 

Leveraging Mercedes-Benz's rich motorsport heritage and the long-standing involvement of PETRONAS in Formula One, the new title partnership also paves the way for future collaborations between the two companies. For PETRONAS, the partnership will enable the oil and gas giant to generate sustainable business growth, particularly in their downstream lubricants market, through the strategic partnership and business alliance with Mercedes-Benz, one of the most prestigious global automotive brands. 

The Mercedes GP PETRONAS Formula One Team's challenger for 2010 will make its track debut in its new livery at Valencia on 1 February 2010 for the first of the pre-season tests ahead of the 2010 Formula One season. 

PETRONAS will continue to be the title sponsor of the PETRONAS Malaysian Grand Prix, scheduled to be the third race of the new season, which will take place at the Sepang International Circuit on 4 April 2010. 

Norbert Haug, Vice-President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsports, said: "We are very pleased to begin our long-term partnership with our new title partner PETRONAS. Daimler, our premium brand Mercedes-Benz and PETRONAS will work together both on and off the track and I am sure that everybody involved will guarantee their absolute dedication to success. PETRONAS' home base in Kuala Lumpur is located in the middle of a fast-growing region for the automotive industry which makes this new partnership even more valuable. Within the limits of the new Formula One resource restrictions, the Mercedes GP PETRONAS Formula One Team will be well positioned to achieve our goals. We will all strive to present efficient success in the future knowing at the same time that the new Formula One season with some fundamental rule changes will be a particularly challenging one." 

Ross Brawn, Team Principal of the Mercedes GP PETRONAS Formula One Team commented: "Everyone at Mercedes GP is delighted to confirm our long-term agreement with PETRONAS and we look forward to working closely with our new partner in the future. The collaboration of the premium automotive brand Mercedes-Benz and a company as prestigious as PETRONAS gives our team a fantastic base from which to achieve our ambitions of competing at the top level of Formula One and building on the success of 2009 which saw the team achieve the Constructors' and Drivers' Championships. Our plans for the new season are progressing well, as is the development of our 2010 challenger, and we look forward to seeing the car run in the new Silver Arrows and PETRONAS livery at the Valencia test in February."


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Grosjean still hoping for Renault race seat
  • Montezemolo wants cost cuts but freer rules
  • F2 champion Soucek struggles to find F1 seat
  • Schumacher is 'super-fit' - manager
  • Citroen's Quesnel says no to Renault role - report

Grosjean still hoping for Renault race seat
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean has not given up on retaining his race seat at Renault.

The Swiss-born Frenchman made his formula one debut following Nelson Piquet's ousting only seven races ago, but similarly failed to impress alongside Fernando Alonso.

Renault's future has since been secured by the majority Genii buyout, and 23-year-old Grosjean told L'Equipe that he hopes clarity about his own future is to shortly follow.

"Now we know who is Renault's new partner and we know that the brand will continue in grands prix, I trust them to not let me down after all the work we did together since 2006," he said during his first race weekend of the Andros ice-racing trophy.

"I gained a great deal of experience last season with the seven grands prix as Fernando Alonso's teammate.  We couldn't manage to take victory, but for me Fernando was the best driver of the year.

"To be three tenths behind him, I'm not ashamed in terms of my performance against his.  It gives me great confidence for my future," Grosjean added.

As well as the vacant cockpit at Renault, there are also potential vacancies on the 2010 grid at Sauber, Toro Rosso, Mercedes, Campos and USF1.

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Briatore to sink yacht in Bernie's Christmas card
Clients, partners, colleagues and friends, Thanks for your invaluable support in 2009, and here’s to an even more successful 2010. I hope you enjoy this reproduction of Bernie Ecclestone’s Christmas card.  Given his laissez-faire attitude to trademarks and broadcasting and the like, I’m sure he won’t mind ...
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone's mischievous sense of humor has returned yet again in the latest edition of his personalized annual Christmas card.

In 2007, 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.

Last year, at the end of the Max Mosley sex scandal, the cartoon showed the former FIA president whipping team principals, while a pitwall monitor depicted a woman in fishnet stockings and high heels.

The 2009 edition depicts Mosley, BMW's Mario Theissen and Toyota's John Howett setting sail in a yacht, while the other team bosses happily wave farewell from the harbor.

In an approaching dinghy bearing a pirate's flag, however, the banned Flavio Briatore is seen pointing a rocket-launcher at the yacht, while several sharks circle.

In the distance is 79-year-old Ecclestone, sitting in a lifeguard's station with a Baywatch-style floatation device at the ready.


Manager denies split with Schumacher
(GMM)  Willi Weber has denied reports he is set to part ways with Michael Schumacher.

With the seven time world champion on the verge of confirming his return to formula one, the German weekly Der Spiegel claimed that Schumacher's career will no longer be handled by his long time manager.

But 67-year-old Weber, who spotted Schumacher in Formula Ford in the 80s and now also manages Williams newcomer Nico Hulkenberg, hit back at the report.

"Rubbish," he said.  "To say I will not be Michael's manager any more is completely invented.  Absolute nonsense."

Der Spiegel and other publications had speculated about Weber's future after he admitted he is in the dark about whether Schumacher will return with Mercedes in 2010.


It's an all-girls assault on stock car racing
Milka Duna waves for the AR1.com cameras
Danica Patrick may be getting the majority of media attention during the ARCA test at Daytona International Speedway, but a close look at the entry list shows 10 women drivers getting track time.

"Most of the media here, the only female they will talk to is Danica, and I have total respect for her," driver Leilani Münter said. "She's a great girl and (I'm) happy to see her succeed, but there are other girls in the garage hoping to make it."

Münter, 33, is driving the No. 59 Mark Gibson Racing Dodge in this test as a prep for the Feb. 6 Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200. Gibson grew up here. He fields a team out of Georgia.

"When I got some funding, I gave Mark a call and his car was still available and here we are," Münter said.

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Williams seeks 10m pounds from Icelandic bank
(GMM)  Williams is seeking 10m British pounds sterling (11.2m euro) from its 2009 sponsor Hamleys, according to the Sunday Times newspaper.

Early this year, the Grove based team's Icelandic backer Baugur Group applied for court protection from its creditors.

On-car sponsor Hamleys, a London toy shop, was one of Baugur's brands, but the newspaper reports that the failed Icelandic bank Glitnir guaranteed the sponsorship payments.


Button to receive MBE from Queen
(GMM)  In the footsteps of his new McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton, reigning world champion Jenson Button is to become a Member of the British Empire (MBE).

The honor will be announced in the Queen's traditional New Year list, according to the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

Fellow Briton Hamilton, 24, received his similar prize a year ago, after winning the 2008 world championship.

The news will be officially confirmed next week.

The MBE is the initial chivalry class of the Order of the British Empire.


Observations from Danica's Daytona ARCA test
Danica Patrick in the No. 88 GoDaddy car
AutoRacing1.com is live here in Daytona where Danica Patrick and host of other newbie’s are trying out ARCA stock cars.  Looking at these cars, compared to, say an ALMS, IndyCar or F1, we feel like we went back in time about 20 years.

They do have tons of aero telemetry on them though.  The JR team must have about 100 airflow tubes and sensors all over the car. There are about 6 on the rear wing, and about 20 in the rear window and deck. So there is some tech here, but they obviously don’t allow it in the racing. You can tell that is the difference between the teams though.

For what it's worth, Danica has two cars and all the goodies, and Milka Duno is with a small team that seems to have about 1/10 the crew and staff, and her car doesn’t have any of those aero sensors at all.

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Final 2010 GP2 calendar
The GP2 series is proud to unveil the 2010 calendar and is happy to report that eleven rounds have been confirmed for next season. Twelve teams will take part of this new challenge with Piquet GP renamed Rapax.

The Series will see its season once again begin in Barcelona where the Formula One Championship will open its European season. This event will be our first of ten weekends as the official Formula One support series – one more event than the previous year. Portimao will host again the stand-alone event which will take place mid-season on 19-20 June and will be supported by the new and anticipated GP3 Series.

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Ferrari told Alonso to be a team player
Fernando Alonso
(GMM)  Luca di Montezemolo has admitted Ferrari was concerned Fernando Alonso might not be a team player.  Speaking with international reporters at a Christmas dinner on Friday, the Ferrari president was asked about the Spaniard's reputation and personality, including how his relationship with McLaren so badly broke down in 2007.

"I spoke about these elements with (Stefano) Domenicali maybe 1000 times, not 100, 1000 times, and I spoke with Alonso," he said.

"I told him: 'If you come to drive for us, you drive for a team, you drive for a group, you don't drive for yourself.

"If you want a team, then you do your own team, fantastic, like John Surtees.  In Ferrari we want to put you in the best condition to win.  If not, we will never hire you," said Montezemolo.

He also clarified that Santander, Ferrari's major new Spanish sponsor, did not demand that Alonso join the team, as was suggested in an interview this week by Kimi Raikkonen.

"Certainly, they (Santander) are happy, but it is not the sponsors that choose the drivers: we have never operated like that and we never will," said Montezemolo.


Montezemolo reveals Schu to race Mercedes in 2010
[Editor's Note: We already have an exclusive rumor rated 'fact' that Schumacher will drive for Mercedes in 2010.] 

Luca do Montezemolo will be seeing red every time Schumacher wins in 2010
(GMM)  What began as a wild rumor has slowly edged towards near-fact: Michael Schumacher is returning to the formula one grid.

The hardening speculation has been all but confirmed by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, with whom the 40-year-old German won five of his seven world championships until 2006.

The Italian told international reporters at a Christmas dinner on Friday that, during a conversation with Ferrari adviser Schumacher earlier this week, "he told me there is a very strong possibility" he will race a Mercedes next year.

Montezemolo joked that, after Schumacher renewed his consultancy contract for three additional years at Monza in mid September, the German set to be Nico Rosberg's 2010 teammate is the Ferrari legend's "twin".

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Adam Christodoulou Completes Successful First Atlantic Test
As the holidays rapidly approach and 2009 draws to a close, 2009 Star Mazda champion Adam Christodoulou got his first taste of the Mazda-Cosworth-powered Swift 016.a utilized in the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda in a two-day test with Team Stargate Worlds at Buttonwillow Raceway on Thursday and Friday.

The 20-year-old British driver logged nearly 400 miles over the two days in cool weather conditions aboard the same No. 78 machine that Simona De Silvestro piloted to four victories and third in points in the 2009 Atlantic Championship. The team, which is based at Buttonwillow, reported that Christodoulou managed to work up to speed quickly and rarely put a wheel wrong over the two days.

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