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Castrol will support John Force Racing again  Castrol has committed to maintain one of the longest-running global sponsorship partnerships in motorsports history as it has announced it will continue primary sponsorship on both John and Ashley Force's fuel Funny Cars in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. The sponsorship of JFR will enter its 24th year in 2009. 

Last June, Castrol Global Lubricants announced an exciting new partnership signed with FIFA to be a Primary sponsor for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup soccer championships. As part of that program, Castrol also announced its renewed commitment to its global motorsports activities, the cornerstone of its technological leadership strategy in global lubricants.

This global motorsports strategy, activated in multiple racing venues around the world with many of Castrol's key strategic business partners, will continue to be showcased in North America through the company's relationship with John Force Racing Inc. 

In addition to primary support to John and Ashley, Castrol will continue to provide secondary/associate sponsorship support to Robert Hight, Mike Neff, Britney Force and Courtney Force. In addition, Castrol will be realigning its activation support of John Force Racing in programs to be announced prior to the 2009 season. That realignment, however, will result in the curtailing of Castrol's NHRA contingency program sponsorship and the elimination of Castrol's at-track interactive Midway program. 

"We're very excited about beginning our 24th season in the Full Throttle NHRA series while remaining the major sponsor of John Force Racing," said Lori Anne Gola, Assistant Sponsorship Manager for Castrol. "We'll have some exciting new announcements about our JFR sponsorship in the next few weeks." 
KONI Competitors Set to Participate  Nearly 40 cars will participate in the opening three-day test for the 2009 Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge season, which starts Saturday and ends next Monday at Daytona International Speedway.

The 2009 race season opens Jan. 23 with the Fresh From Florida 200, which incurs a three-hour time limit, at the 3.56-mile track. Defending Grand Sport (GS) class and overall winner Craig Stanton of BGB Motorsports is the only reigning race winner scheduled to participate in the test. He will drive the No. 83 BGB Motorsports Porsche 997, one of 22 entries from the GS class, with rookie Josh Hurley.

Defending ST race co-winner Glenn Bocchino will also participate in the test, but the Delray Beach, Fla., driver has incorporated his operation into that of Kinetic Motorsports and moved into the GS class. He is scheduled to drive with Todd Lamb throughout the 2009 season. More ...

track news
IMS connects with fans  The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is providing news and other information through Twitter, the popular, worldwide social networking and micro-blogging service.

Fans can follow these three simple steps to receive IMS information for free at either their personal Twitter Web page or on mobile devices:

1) Visit the Community section of the IMS Web site, http://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/community .

2) Click on the "Follow Us on Twitter" logo, which will take users to the IMS Twitter page, called IMSTalk.

3) Click on the Follow button underneath the IMS Centennial Era logo to receive the IMS Twitter feed.

IMS plans to provide regular information about events, tickets, promotions, IMS trivia and much more through its Twitter feed, with opportunities for interaction with fans.

Twitter allows its users to send and read other users' updates, often called tweets, which are text-based posts up to 140 characters long. Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them.

The Twitter feed continues IMS efforts to connect with fans through online social networks. IMS also has pages on the hugely popular MySpace and Facebook networks: More ...

F1 medals 'interesting' says runner-up Massa  
Felipe Massa
(GMM)  2008 championship runner-up Felipe Massa has backed Bernie Ecclestone's proposal to install a medals-style scoring system in formula one as an "interesting idea".

But the Ferrari driver believes it is wrong of the media to say he, as the winner of the most grands prix in 2008, is arguably therefore more deserving of the world championship than Lewis Hamilton.

Massa won six grands prix compared with five for McLaren's Hamilton last season, meaning that if the medals system had been in place, the Brazilian would have lifted the title.

"Yes, it is an interesting idea," the 27-year-old is quoted as saying by the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

"We will see what happens.  I know what you want me to say: that with this system, now I would be the champion.

"But that is a false conclusion, because at the beginning of the season we knew what was the (current points) system, and that is the basis upon which we oriented ourselves."

F1 chief executive Ecclestone also rubbishes the suggestion that he believes Hamilton does not deserve the 2008 title because he failed to win the most races.

"Rubbish," he said in an interview with F1's official website.  "He was destined to be a champion and it was just a question of when, not if, he would win."

Title loss would have hurt Hamilton - Schu  
Lewis Hamilton (L) with his father
(GMM)  Had the last lap of November's season ending Brazilian grand prix played out differently, it could have had a major effect on the psychology and career of Lewis Hamilton, according to seven time world champion Michael Schumacher.

As it turned out, a struggling Timo Glock ceded position to the 23-year-old Briton, and Hamilton was declared the winner of the drivers' title by one point over Schumacher's former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa.

But after the way Hamilton's first title bid failed at the last hurdle in 2007, another similar blow might have devastatingly affected the McLaren driver, Schumacher believes.

"Losing this year would have hurt him badly," the German, to turn 40 on Saturday, said in an interview with Italy's La Repubblica newspaper.

"One year it is an anecdote, but two in a row is something statistical," he said.

"If he had lost his championship dream again, and again in the last race, it would be like he is condemned: eternally without the prize."

In November, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo mischievously jibed that, by losing the drivers' title, Ferrari saved Hamilton "from being sent to the psychiatric ward".

Schumacher, still an advisor to the Maranello based team, told Repubblica that the key to his record seven championships was "consistency and continuity".

Bernie welcomes Schu's Superbike snub  
Michael Schumacher tried his hand at bike racing
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has welcomed reports that Michael Schumacher turned down a recent opportunity to make a full-time return to racing.

Schumacher, formula one's retired seven time world champion, contested races of the German Superbike championship in 2008, and was offered a full ride in motorcycling's Superbike world championship by Honda for this year.

"If he wants to, there is a way for him (to do it).  All he has to do is ask us," Honda Racing's Carlo Fiorani was quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport in November.

Schumacher, however, who turns 40 on Saturday, turned down the offer.  "I'm discounting any chance of an appearance in WSB.

"Maybe I'll go to watch.  But that's all.  I'm not going to race," the German said.

Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, welcomed the news.

"It's good news that Michael has ruled out a ride in WSB -- he wouldn't be able to race or ride round just for show, he'd have to give it a real go and that could be dangerous," the 78-year-old told Gulf News.

Rolex Series Set for Three-Day Test  Teams from the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 will get a head start on the 2009 season Jan. 3-5 with three days of testing at Daytona International Speedway.

Known as the "Roar before the Rolex 24," the session is the lone scheduled testing at the speedway prior to the 47th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Jan. 24-25. All three days of the session are open to the public for $10 admission, which includes access to the infield, Sprint FANZONE and garage. Saturday's session also includes fan forums, including drivers from GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Banner Racing and Hyper Sport.

Saturday's schedule opens with Rolex Series practice at 9 a.m., and includes night practice running through 8 p.m. Sunday's schedule runs from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m., with Monday's activities running from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. The Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge will also test all three days in preparation for its Jan. 23 season-opening Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona. More ...

KERS device to be demonstrated  A flywheel Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) to be used in Formula 1 in 2009 will be demonstrated for the first time in public at next week’s Autosport International Show.

The Energy-recovery devices are legal from next season and Silverstone-based firm Flybrid will display its flywheel system at Birmingham’s NEC from January 8-11.

Visitors to the firm’s engineering stand during the show will be able to see a demonstration of some of the inner working of its full 2009-spec specification KERS unit.

While most teams have opted to develop a battery KERS system, Williams is one team that has decided to go down the flywheel route.

This system will use braking energy to turn a steel and carbon fiber flywheel and when extra power is needed the wheels will be coupled up to the spinning flywheel to give a boost in power. More ...

racing news
Ganassi, Rahal show true character  UPDATE AR1.com has learned that despite laying crewmembers off and losing sponsors, Bobby Rahal and Dave Letterman paid bonuses to Rahal Letterman staff as well!

01/01/09 Despite massive layoffs and a season of struggles, car owner Chip Ganassi still paid year-end bonuses to employees, including those who were laid off.  Hats off to you Chip.
LevelFive team enters Rolex 24  Christophe Bouchut will be seeking his second overall victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona Jan. 24-25 when he joins team owner Scott Tucker and Ed Zabinski in the 47th running of the classic.

The trio will be at the wheel of the No. 55 edata Solutions/Supercar Life Racing LevelFive Motorsports BMW Rileyfor the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Cask No. 16 opener.

The trio tested at Daytona International Speedway in October, with Bouchut unofficially shattering the Daytona Prototype circuit record in the brand-new Riley. Bouchut joined Jurgen Lassig, Giovanni Lavaggi and Marco Werner in winning the 1995 Rolex 24 in the Kremer Korsche K8 Spyder. It was a bittersweet memory for the Frenchman, who found out later in the day that his Formula One team had folded. It was his second victory in as many 24-hour races, having won in his first attempt at Le Mans for Team Peugeot. Since thenm, he's win the 24 Hours of Spa-Franchorchamps in his first two attempts, in 2001 and 2002. More ...
#22 NASCAR team looking for sponsors  California businessman Mike Held recently bought out Bill Davis Racing, which has been in NASCAR since 1988. Its flagship car — the #22 that won the Daytona 500 in 2002 with Ward Burton behind the wheel — doesn’t yet have sponsorship in place for the upcoming season. “It’s difficult, there’s no doubt about that,” Held said. “If you think we’re sitting here with something in our back pocket that we’re just not ready to announce yet, I can assure you that’s not the case. ... We’ll keep trying and we’ll keep looking, and we know it’s not going to be easy.” He and BDR Vice President Marty Gaunt have “made the decision, having owned our own teams before, the one thing we both made a pact to do was we would not attempt to do something that is short of funding — it always ends in disaster,” he added. “If we come out onto the track (in 2009 with a Cup team) it’s because it makes good business sense and nothing more.” Rocky Mount Telegram
Another NASCAR business goes belly up  Bluff City, TN Mayor Todd Malone is one of 15,693 people who have filed for bankruptcy this year in the Eastern District of Tennessee, a number that is 28% higher than in the previous year. Attributing his difficulties to a souring economy, Malone and his business which caters to the NASCAR crowd, Race Scan Communications, filed for bankruptcy Dec. 18. He and his company, which Malone shuttered Oct. 22, are seeking Chapter 7 protection, commonly referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy. In his petition, Malone reports having $118,870 in non-exempt assets, about half of which is Race Scan’s store inventory, and $616,000 worth of unsecured debts.

Malone took over Race Scan’s operations in July 2003. The business is best known for supplying NASCAR fans with radio equipment tuned to the frequencies [scanners] used by drivers at the Bristol Motor Speedway. But more recently, Malone said, most of the work involved installing sirens and radios in police cars and ambulances. Malone said he started having cash-flow problems about February or March when high gas prices forced people to curtail their purchases at the race track, especially the headsets he sold through his store. Those high prices and other cost increases also forced local governments to tighten their belts, Malone said, which meant they bought fewer new vehicles that needed sirens and radios. After suffering losses on both fronts, Malone said, he was forced to shut his business down. Bristol Herald Courier
Evernham still wants a role in NASCAR  Ray Evernham called "The Morning Drive" on Sirius NASCAR Radio this past week after his name came up Monday [12-29] while we were talking about the reports that Elliott Sadler will be replaced by AJ Allmendinger in the #19 Dodges next season at Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Evernham no longer has a major day-to-day role in the team he ran after leaving Hendrick Motorsports as Jeff Gordon's crew chief to help Dodge come back to big-time NASCAR competition. He sold most of his interest into the team to George Gillett and his family and has scaled back more and more over the past couple of years.

Evernham wanted to make sure it was clear that he's not down on NASCAR or racing. Evernham wants to be involved in racing. But as a team owner, he discovered that was a job he wasn't going to be able to do at a level he could feel good about. Evernham doesn't have a "good enough" switch. You're talking about a guy whose work as [Jeff] Gordon's crew chief help redefined the way Cup teams compete. Evernham and his "Rainbow Warriors" changed the game, helping bring specialization and a level of attention to detail the sport had never seen before. By the time they were done, Evernham and Gordon had three championships together and Evernham had established himself as one of the sport's greatest all-time crew chiefs. Evernham said Tuesday that "it will probably always haunt me" that he didn't win a championship as a team owner, but he's proud of what he helped build at GEM. He's not sure he agrees with everything that's being done there now, but he also said that it's no longer his call. More ...
Mike Wallace lands ride for Daytona 500  Mike Wallace says he's secured a ride in a "competitive car" for the season-opening Daytona 500, providing he can get through the arduous Daytona qualifying process. But beyond Daytona, Wallace said this week he just doesn't know what's going to happen. "We're still talking to people, and they're still interested in possibly doing something," Wallace said. "The only thing that I'm thinking is that I wish it was, like, three months ago -- because the way they're thinking and the way I'm thinking, knowing how close the beginning of the season is, causes me a little bit of concern." But at this moment, like a lot of other guys and women, if you count drivers like his younger daughter Chrissy, who had meetings planned this week with team owner Bob Germain to determine what the suddenly sponsor-strapped Germain Racing team might be able to do to race with her this season, Wallace just doesn't know exactly what he's doing beyond Speedweeks -- though he'd consider racing any of NASCAR three national tours. More at NASCAR.com
700 jobs lost as recession hits motorsports in N.C.  The economic downturn, dwindling sponsorships and the Car Of Tomorrow have all been blamed for the layoffs plaguing the local motorsports industry in recent months.

For fans around the world, it's been a nail-biting experience to see whether their favorite NASCAR team will survive. It's too early to know what the long-term fallout will be, but the decline of one of Iredell County's biggest industries is going to pack a big punch during the coming year.

Mooresville, known as Race City USA, will absorb the heaviest blow to its work force and economy.

Russell Rogerson, an economic developer for the Mooresville-South Iredell Economic Development Corporation, said that it would take a comprehensive study to determine an exact dollar amount.

Motorsports are a $6.5 billion industry in North Carolina, with the Charlotte region accounting for $5 billion of that figure. More ...

Crisis can't dent F1 - Ecclestone  (GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has moved to play down the impact the global financial crisis may have on the world of formula one.

The Japanese manufacturer Honda has already pulled out, citing the crisis in the car sales industry, but F1's chief executive insists 2009 will be business as usual.

"It's clear that the world financial crisis affects everyone, including the car industry.  But it won't affect formula one seriously," the 78-year-old billionaire said.

Ecclestone said the sport remains a huge draw, with which only the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games can compete.

On a visit to Serbia, he told the local newspaper Press: "As far as I know, all the tickets have been sold for almost every race in the next season.

"Moreover, we signed two huge deals, one with LG and one with DHL," he added.

"It's simple: the big guns who want their ad across the whole world understand that formula one is the cheapest way to achieve it."

Happy New Year  To all our customers - we wish you a very Happy New Year and may 2009 be a great year for you and your family.

The Staff at AR1.com
Pininfarina sports car family loses control  The Pininfarina trademark is as much a part of a Ferrari Testarossa as the V-12 engine, but ownership of the name that spells Italian sports car design has been forfeited in a mountain of debt.

The founding family of Pininfarina has lost its battle to keep control of the design firm and boutique car manufacturer. After months of wrangling, a banking syndicate led by Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit have agreed to reschedule debts of almost €600 million (£575 million), but the family must sell its 50.6 per cent stake in the company.

Potential buyers of the stake are thought to include Vincent Bolloré, the French tycoon who a year ago established a joint venture with Pininfarina to build an electric car. Ratan Tata is also believed to be interested, but the head of the Tata industrial conglomerate is already embroiled in the financial rescue of his recent acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover in Britain. More ...

GM Statement on Receiving the First Federal Bridge Loan  GM has received the first tranche of $4B from the Federal Government and we look forward to working with the government on all elements of the loan agreement and our viability plan. We appreciate the Administration extending a financial bridge to GM at this critical time for the U.S. auto industry.

GM remains committed to providing great cars, trucks and crossovers, as well as leading technologies, to our customers. We are committed to successfully executing the plan we submitted on December 2 and remain confident in the future of General Motors.

Bumgarner inks 5-year deal to race in IRL with Walker  UPDATE Many of those competing in Daytona Kart Week hope to ultimately make a name for themselves in racing.
One of them already has . . . at the ripe old age of 19.

Michele Bumgarner
Meet Michele Bumgarner, a.k.a. the "Asian Karting Queen." Her recently signed contract to run 2009 Firestone Indy Lights, a developmental series for the Indy Racing League, has already increased her profile in the United States.

And she's big back home in the Philippines, where she was voted one of the seven most admired women in her country.

"Some people recognize me (back home) and some don't," said Bumgarner, who has the Filipino flag painted on the No. 06 go-kart she wheeled during the three-day Daytona Kart Week, which concluded Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway.

"I don't mind it. I'm barely home these days anyway."

Bumgarner is emblematic of Danica Patrick's worldwide influence on women in racing. She says her ultimate goal is to race in the Indianapolis 500. More ...

Red Bull duo join Carlin for F3  Red Bull drivers Brendon Hartley and Daniel Ricciardo will join Carlin Motorsport’s Formula 3 teams for the 2009 season. 

19 year-old Hartley will spend his second season with the team as he makes the switch to F3 Euro Series, while Daniel Ricciardo will join the British F3 champions for his first full year of Formula 3.  Hartley completed his first season of Formula 3 racing with Carlin in the 2008 British F3 Series. 

The New Zealander was among the front runners throughout the year, with his five race wins only matched by eventual champion and fellow Carlin driver Jaime Alguersuari.  Hartley set four fastest laps during the season, and his outright speed was reflected by 10 front row starts – more than any other driver throughout the season.  While carrying out an extensive winter test program with Carlin, Hartley has combined his F3 duties with a test in the Red Bull Racing F1 car in December.  More ...

Heitzler Joins TAC Financial Board  TAC Financial, Inc., www.theamericascard.com is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Joseph Heitzler to its Board of Directors.

"We are very fortunate and honored that Mr. Joseph Heitzler has accepted a position as a Director to our Board," said Chairman and CEO, Roy Eder. "Mr. Heitzler's 35 years of business development, management and acquisition experience is exactly what TAC needs to propel us toward capturing significant market share. He has taken Television and Media companies from Analog to High Definition in most major sporting events and venues during his career and has built an excellent reputation among his peers and business associates as a successful builder of large, multi-million dollar enterprises," said Mr. Eder.

Mr. Heitzler boasts tremendous achievements in the sports and entertainment industries including 14 years as Chairman, CEO and Owner of VTE Mobile Television Productions. VTE provided mobile production facilities for ESPN, ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX as well as over 26 regional sports cable channels and was sold after revenues grew to more than $138 million. More ...

Scott Dixon Named in New Zealand Honors List  Scott Dixon, winner of this year’s Indianapolis 500 motor race, has been honored in a New Zealand awards list announced annually on New Year’s Eve.  Dixon, 28, has been made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to motor sport, according to a statement from Government House in Wellington. Dixon, who also took this year’s IndyCar Series title, is from Auckland. He has raced for Target Chip Ganassi Racing Team Inc. since 2003, when he won the series title for the first time.
Chrysler cancels reward meeting for its top dealers  Chrysler LLC canceled its annual reward meeting for top-performing dealers for the first time in decades as it seeks to cut costs in the tough auto market.  The meeting was to include an all-expenses paid trip to the Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, from March 15 through March 19, Chrysler said. The automaker offers such a trip to its top dealers every year.

The suspension, first reported by Dow Jones on Tuesday, was a mutual decision made between Chrysler and its dealers in the fall, Chrysler spokesman Stuart Schorr said. 

"The decision was made between our leadership and our dealer council that, given the state of the market and the financial challenges the company faces, it made sense not to hold this year's reward meeting," Schorr said.

Dave Kelleher, who owns two Chrysler dealerships in the Philadelphia area, said he was invited to the past two reward meetings and would have gone to this one as well.

"You know what, we'll have other opportunities -- hopefully in a much better time to enjoy ourselves," he said.

Heidfeld predicts more shunts  
Nick Heidfeld not sure he is talented enough to avoid taking off his new front wings
Nick Heidfeld has said he believes the wider front wings that will be introduced into Formula One next season could lead to more accidents.

The change to the front wing comes as part of a raft of new regulations coming into effect in 2009 in an attempt to improve the chances of overtaking.

It is hoped that a combination of a wider front wing and a smaller rear wing will allow cars to follow each other more closely without losing as much aerodynamic grip.

However, Heidfeld fears there may well be plenty of contact between cars in the early part of the season as drivers struggle to adapt to the changes.

"I think it might happen more often, especially in the beginning because you need to get used to it," the BMW Sauber driver told autosport.com.

"Sitting in the car, you can't see the front wing. OK, you know it is there, but from previous years you will have got so used to what you had that maybe at the start or in a very quick situation where you have to react without thinking, I could imagine that we would see more wings touching."

However, the German refused to be drawn on whether he thought the new rules will make overtaking easier.

"With the wings that we have it's no secret should be less affected by wind and therefore might be a bit easier to drive," he added. "But at the moment it is difficult to tell." Sky Sports

track news
Tulare City [CA] Council OKs motor sports complex  The Tulare City Council, in a split 3-2 vote, approved late Monday night the proposed Tulare Motor Sports Complex, a 711-acre project that calls for the construction of a race track, a drag strip and commercial and retail development in south Tulare, near Fresno CA, approx 250 miles from Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA.

Tulare Mayor Craig Vejvoda, Vice Mayor Phil Vandegrift and councilman Richard Ortega voted to approve the project, while councilmen David Macedo and Wayne Ross casted a “no” vote. Fresno-based developer Bud Long, who is fronting the project, said he was excited about the outcome. The vote came at the end of a lengthy, three-and-a-half hour, single-issue special meeting held at the Tulare Senior Center, drawing an estimated 240 people. The project will now go before the Tulare County Local Agency Formation Commission in about a month’s time. The Tulare Planning Commission had already approved the project at a meeting earlier this month. Visalia Times-Delta

Red Bull announces staff change  Red Bull has announced that Eric Silbermann will relinquish his role as Head of Communications at Red Bull Racing, but will remain in charge of the communications at Scuderia Toro Rosso, where he will work with Fabiana Valenti and Marieluise Mammitsch, formerly of Toyota.

Red Bull Racing will be represented by existing press officers Katie Tweedle and Britta Roeske.

track news
Strategic alliance to help develop Indian motorsports infrastructure  Derek Daly Design (DDD) is pleased to announce a strategic alliance with Van Diemen International Racing Services for the specific purpose of helping develop the club and pro level motorsports infrastructure in India.

Van Diemen is currently manufacturing a new “world car” chassis with flexible engine options. The car will have either a “H” pattern or sequential gearbox. After extensive local training provided by Van Diemen, all manufacturing will be carried out in India.   

“We are fully supportive of Van Diemen’s initiative to build their “world car” in India. With customers of ours who wish to build new race tracks in India, to have access to new cars and therefore new championships  at their new facilities, only makes sense” …said Derek Daly, founder, DDD. More ...

formula bmw
Eurointernational wins 17 times in 2008  The end of the year offers the opportunity to look back at the incredible racing season of the Eurointernational Group, competing in Americas in the FBMW Americas and the Formula Atlantic Championships, and in Europe in the FBMW Europe and Superleague Formula Championship.

2009 Record
4  Championships, 12 race cars, 2 Continents : 52 races with a record of 17 wins, 15 second places, 4 third places, 39 Top 10, 25 fastest race laps, 19 Poles, and the Third consecutive Team and Driver Titles in the FBMW Americas Championship and the FBMW World Final win, bringing to 66 the total wins.

"I can only be proud of all of us", said Owner Antonio Ferrari - "from the drivers to all our engineers, technicians, sponsors and technical partners.  It has been a long season that ended in the best way possible with the fantastic win of Alexander Rossi in the FBMW World Final in Mexico City and the close second of Antonio Pizzonia in the last round of the Superleague Formula Championship. The season highlights include  the 10 wins and the FBMW Americas title of Alexander Rossi, the two wins and four poles of Daniel Juncadella in the first year of the FBMW Europe Championship, and the great performances of Daniel Morad as the Team debuted in the Formula Atlantic." More ...

Kid racer battles brain cancer  The battles 9-year-old Tyler Luttrull faces on the race track are nothing compared with those off it. KUSA reports.

racing news
Dallara Entry Level ‘Formulino’ Range is now Complete  
Pro Version
Dallara today released further information about its entry level range of cars titled the Formulino (Little Formula in Italian). The latest addition is the Pro version which completes a 3 step range of cars, the Base, Plus and Pro, which can take a driver from a simple no wing or diffuser car up to a car close in specification to a Formula 3 car.

The primary objective behind the Formulino concept was to offer the best price/performance ratio in the single seater market. Conforming to the 2008 F3 FIA crash test regulations the car is as safe as a Dallara F3 car and with the same suspension layout the car offers a sufficiently wide range of suspension and aerodynamic (Plus and Pro) configurations to allow a driver to learn about car set up and its effects.

Dallara's full range
The Formulino is a robust, durable, economic and extremely safe entry level car that bridges the gap in the Dallara range from Go-Karting to Formula 3 and on through World Series by Renault, Gp2 and to Indy Car. The car gives a driver the opportunity to experience a modern carbon monocoqued race car in an affordable, safe and sensible way. More ...
Mika defends Bernie, Kimi  (GMM)  Two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen has leapt to the defense of two of formula one's leading figures.

The 40-year-old Finn, who retired as a McLaren race driver in 2001, said his countryman Kimi Raikkonen will bounce back to form after a lackluster season with Ferrari this year.

"Kimi did not have a good year, but in 2009 he will attack again and win races," Hakkinen told laola1.at.

"He knows what went wrong and will stop it from happening again."

Hakkinen also backed the sport's 78-year-old chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, following suggestions the time for the so-called 'supremo' to step down may be nearing.

"In the past decades he was the one who moved formula one forwards," the winner of 20 grands prix insisted.  "He is absolutely the right man for the job."

Meanwhile, Hakkinen tipped 21-year-old Sebastian Vettel, the youngest ever race winner following his 2008 Monza victory, for a F1 title within a "few years".

"Vettel has the right stuff," he said.  "He is still very young, but exceptionally fast, performing like an old hand.  Certainly in the next few years he will take the title."

Hamilton made MBE by Queen  (GMM)  2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton has been made an MBE (Member of the British Empire) by the Queen.

The 23-year-old McLaren driver, who last month became the youngest ever formula one title winner, and the first from Britain in twelve years, said he was "humbled" by the recognition in Her Majesty's New Year Honors.

"It is the most amazing culmination to what has been quite a year for me and something I am very appreciative of," he said.

The British Olympic cyclist Chris Hoy received a knighthood, and his mother Carol was given an MBE for her work as a nurse for sleep disorders.

Teenage swimmer Rebecca Adlington received an OBE (Officer of the British Empire), which is one category higher than MBE.

996 people in total were honored.

Jay Leno test drives the new ZR1 Corvette  Jay Leno bought the very first 2009 Corvette ZR1 - serial number 001.  Here he gives you an inside look at the car.

AJ Ready for Rolex 24 With Michael Shank Racing  For the fourth consecutive year, Michael Shank Racing has signed AJ Allmendinger to be a part of the Columbus, Ohio-based team's assault on the biggest jewel in North American endurance racing, the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The team has two entries in the top Daytona Prototype class. The Rolex 24 event also has a GT class field as well, making the 24 hour race something akin to running a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the same time, on the same track, as a Nationwide race.

The 47th running of the famed race, which will start at 3:30 PM ET on January 24th, is staged on the 3.56-mile combined oval and road course at Daytona International Speedway. AJ sat on the outside pole for the race last year, and very nearly won the race in his first run with Michael Shank Racing in 2006, coming up just under three miles short after 24 hours of hard running to take second overall with Mark Patterson, Oswaldo Negri, and Justin Wilson. More ...

racing news
Brown Named New PR Director  As the world readies to ring in a new year, the O'Reilly All Star Family of series is preparing for an exciting 2009 season. Today the series announced that Kelly Brown will be taking over as Public Relations Director. Brown arrives to the O'Reilly All Stars with a wealth of talent and a background that combines public relations experience with several disciplines of racing.

Brown grew up in the hotbed of sprint car racing in Indiana. She spent most of her childhood in the infield at the Terre Haute Action Track, so dirt track racing was a love of hers from an early age. A graduate of Indiana State University, Brown began her foray into racing while pursing a Masters Degree in Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations. While earning her degree Brown integrated auto racing into her studies by interning at Lincoln Park Speedway, Daytona International Speedway Communication Department and pit reporting for the Indy Racing League. Brown also served as a co-host on a regional racing radio show.  More ...

Final 2009 F1 calendar  
Date Country Circuit Grand Prix Location
29 March AUS Albert Park Australian Melbourne
05 April MAL Sepang Int'l Malaysian Sepang
19 April CN Shanghai Int'l Chinese Shanghai
26 April BRN Bahrain Int'l Bahrain Sakhir
10 May E Catalunya Spanish Barcelona
24 May MC Monaco Monaco Monte Carlo
07 June TR Istanbul Park Turkish Istanbul
21 June GB Silverstone British Northampton
12 July D Nurburgring German Nurburg
26 July H Hungaroring Hungarian Budapest
23 August E Valencia Street European Valencia
30 August B Spa-Francorchamps Belgian Francorchamps
13 September I Monza Italian Monza
27 September SGP Marina Bay Singapore Singapore
04 October J Suzuka Int'l Japanese Suzuka City
18 October BR Interlagos Brazilian Sao Paulo
01 November UAE Yas Marina Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi*

* Subject to the homologation of the circuit.
Sam Schmidt signs Colombian  
Gustavo "Tigrillo" Yacamán
Sam Schmidt Motorsports has announced today that it has signed its first driver of the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series season - Gustavo "Tigrillo" Yacamán.

Yacamán, who will become 18-years of age on February 25th, comes from Santiago de Cali, Colombia, and will join the championship as a rookie.

"I'm very excited to enter the series," Yacamán said.  "The new experience of racing on ovals is something I'm looking forward to.  I'm also very pleased to drive a car with so much horsepower.  In addition, being with Sam Schmidt Motorsports makes me even more motivated because of its legacy as the most successful team in the Firestone Indy Lights Series." More ...
Lawsuits fly between DEI, Ginn and Hendrick teams  Dale Earnhardt Inc. claims that former NASCAR team owner Bobby Ginn is responsible for paying off any termination fees of Ginn Racing’s engine leasing contract with Hendrick Motorsports.

Both DEI and Ginn have been sued by Hendrick in North Carolina Superior Court over $1.5 million in fees that Hendrick claims is owed under the termination agreement signed when DEI bought Ginn Racing in July 2007.

In its response to the suit filed Dec. 22, DEI claims that DEI and Ginn have a signed agreement that DEI would not be responsible for any claims or payments under the engine lease termination agreement. DEI asks the court to rule that Ginn is responsible for any payments.

Ginn has not yet responded to the suit. Scenedaily.com

GEM announces new director of sales  Gillett Evernham Motorsports announced the hiring of John Cowart as the NASCAR Sprint Cup team’s director of sales. Cowart, 43, will begin his duties with the Statesville, N.C. team effective immediately. “John brings a wealth of motorsports sales experience that will enhance Gillett Evernham Motorsports’ value to our current and future partners,” said De Cordell, GEM chief sales and marketing officer. “We are happy to welcome John and believe he will play a major role in the team’s quest to become the marquee team in motorsports.” Cowart, a Huntersville resident and University of Alabama graduate, said he looks forward to a new challenge. “Gillett Evernham Motorsports offers an opportunity that is challenging and ultimately will be rewarding,” he said. “NASCAR and Gillett Evernham Motorsports allow great brands the opportunity to market their product or service in a unique and interactive environment that connects with its passionate fans and provides a win-win for everyone involved.” Cowart has served in various sales and management capacities throughout the NASCAR industry since the start of the 2000 season. GEM PR
Karting Shoot-out: Vernon, Karam Win Top Prizes  At the 12th annual Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out at Sebring International Raceway, 51 star karters spent three days driving Skip Barber F2000 open-wheel race cars in hopes of winning seat-time scholarships for 2009. In what the judging panel claimed was one of the most closely contested Shoot-outs in its decade-plus existence, four drivers earned scholarships.

The competition was so close, in fact, that an unprecedented award scenario played out: Not one but two paid seasons in the 2009 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda were presented, each with a value approaching $50,000: Court Vernon, 16, of Key Biscayne, Fla., and Sage Karam, 13, from Nazareth, Pa., will both race under the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development ladder system banner. Karam is the youngest driver to win the Shoot-out’s biggest prize. More ...
GM announces discounted financing  GM today announced new reduced rate financing as low as 0% APR for up to 60 months on select new cars and trucks. The reduced rate financing is available to qualified buyers today through January 5, 2009 on many 2008 and select 2009MY vehicles (see list below). Of note, many of the vehicles listed below have stackable bonus cash and/or dealer cash ranging from $500 to $4,250.

"We're very excited to offer this reduced rate financing through GMAC to encourage our customers to get back into the game," said Mark LaNeve, vice president, GM North America Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing. "This enables even more qualified customers to finance through GMAC at their local GM dealership, and provides additional financing capacity with conventional and reduced rate APRs for our dealers to make sales. With GM's Financing That Fits, and the Red Tag Sale now underway that offers supplier pricing, customers have an opportunity to get a variety of extremely attractive offers through the end of the year." More ...

Several tracks still seeking Sprint Cup race sponsors  Five NASCAR Sprint Cup race track operators don’t have race entitlement sponsors for next season. Races at Darlington, Watkins Glen, Michigan (August), Kansas, and the two Dover events still need sponsorship.

A race sponsorship goes for $1M to $2M dollars.  “It’s a very nice piece of revenue for that event,” Watkins Glen President Craig Rust said. “And from promoting your event to partnering … it is important.”

Darlington’s race was sponsored by Dodge, Watkins Glen’s race was sponsored by Centurion Boats, Michigan’s August race was sponsored by 3M, Kansas’ race was sponsored by Camping World and Dover’s races were sponsored by Best Buy and Camping World. Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where UAW/Dodge was the sponsor, has been replaced by Shelby Automobiles.
No new Red Bull until March - Buemi  (GMM)  Red Bull Technology's 2009 formula one car, to be used by the energy drink company's two teams next year, will not roll out of the Milton-Keynes factory until March.

That is the revelation of Sebastien Buemi, Red Bull Racing's test driver who is expected to step up to the Toro Rosso race seat for the forthcoming season.

Citing Buemi's information, the French sports daily L'Equipe said Red Bull Racing, the senior team, will therefore have "only one test session" to prepare the car for the season opening Australian grand prix.

L'Equipe said Faenza based Toro Rosso will also have to wait until March to receive the new car.

The new Red Bull had been expected to make its track debut in mid February.

Italian figures welcome Alonso news  (GMM)  Italian motor racing figures have welcomed reports that Fernando Alonso is headed to Ferrari in the future.

Gabriele Tredozi, formerly technical chief at Minardi and Toro Rosso and now a commentator for Sky, believes the 27-year-old Spaniard is the right driver for the Maranello team.

"It's like putting another Schumacher in the house," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.  "Alonso is quick, technically strong, very bright, and his consistency is unparalleled.

"More than anything, he needs to feel the support of the team, without ambiguity.  And in return he can give you a lot."

Gian Carlo Minardi, the Faenza based team's founder, also rates the former double world champion very highly.

"I haven't seen him since the Italian grand prix, and even then we did not talk about his future, but there is no doubt that he would be a great Ferrari driver.

"I have the feeling that with an equal chance he can easily beat Hamilton," Minardi added.

Cesare Fiorio, the former Ferrari team boss who granted Alonso his debut F1 test with Minardi in 1999, thinks the Renault driver is the best in formula one at present.

"Engineers can have an intuition about who is the best, and from my perspective there is no doubt I would prefer to have Alonso in my team.

"For me he is the best at the moment, stronger even than Lewis Hamilton," he said.

"Those two are similar in speed, but Fernando is less prone to mistakes.  Ferrari and Fernando would be an exceptional combination.

"Winning the constructors' title, Maranello showed that in the pits and at the factory they are the best.  But if you do not win the drivers' title, it must be at least a little bit the fault of the driver, no?"

Ferrari did not comment.

Button should skip 2009 - Ecclestone  (GMM)  Jenson Button should consider sitting out the 2009 season rather than racing for an uncompetitive team.

That is the advice of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, after the 28-year-old British driver's career was thrown into doubt by the shock withdrawal of Honda.

Button had just committed to the Japanese manufacturer for another three years, but now faces the prospect of waiting for a buyer of the Brackley based team, or switching to a team like Toro Rosso.

"He should be in any of the top teams," Ecclestone told the Daily Telegraph.  "I'd rather see him wait to get a seat in one of those than race in an uncompetitive car."

Button said earlier this month that he would "rather not" miss the 2009 season.

AJ Foyt and Vitor Meira talk about 2009  AJ Foyt talks about his new #14 driver Vitor Meira.

IndyCar Series Tribute to Paul Newman  A tribute to Paul Newman, and his many years of racing, and as team owner.

Japanese scientists show 800 hp, 230 mph electric car  Hiroshi Shimizo, a professor at Keio University in Japan, talks about the Eliica, an electric car powered by lithium ion batteries he has developed which has greater acceleration than a Porsche 911. Eight wheels, 800 hp, 0-60 mph in four seconds and a top speed of 230 mph. But we may never see the car: There is no investment for production and even if it were produced, the car is estimated to cost more than $300,000.  View the video here.
Kerkorian sells off the rest of his stake in Ford Motor Co  Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, who began amassing shares of Ford Motor Co. in the spring, eventually amassing a 6.5% stake, has sold all of his remaining shares, a company spokesperson told the Free Press today.  In all, Kerkorian’s Tracinda Corp. spent $995 million on 141 million shares of Ford, an average of $7.07 per share.
Newman to run 6 Nationwide races  Ryan Newman will enter at least six Nationwide Series races in a Kevin Harvick Incorporated Chevy in 2009. Newman’s debut for Harvick came in a KHI owned truck at Atlanta Motor Speedway last October. It was also Newman’s debut in a Truck; he won the event.

The races Newman is currently scheduled to drive are:

Las Vegas on February 28
Talladega, March 25th
Darlington, May 8th
Bristol, August 21st
Dover , September 26th.
Lowes, October 16th

Newman competed in two Nationwide races in 2007, eight in 2007 and six in 2006. Overall he has seven wins, 14 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes.

TV News
SPEED TV extends Motorcross deal  SPEED has reached an agreement with Feld Motor Sports, Inc., to extend its broadcast rights deal for the Monster Energy® Supercross Series, an FIM World Championship, through at least 2013, with new deals also in place to air events from the AMA Arenacross Series, USHRA Monster Jam® and International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Nitro Jam.

“This new deal with Feld Motor Sports delivers a diverse collection of racing properties for our viewers,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell.

“It is a great blend of competition and entertainment … a mix that already has proven to resonate with a large number of race fans.” SPEED will open its 2009 racing season with LIVE coverage of the Monster Energy® Supercross season opener from Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Jan. 3 at 10 p.m. ET. The SPEED supercross broadcast team will be led by Ralph Sheheen (play-by-play), Motorcycle Hall of Famer Jeff Emig (analyst) and Erin Bates (pit reporter). Contracts for the AMA Arenacross Series and Monster Jam run through at least 2012, while the IHRA contract is a one-year deal for the 2009 season. More ...
Dane Cameron To Race Rolex GT in 2009  Continuing his climb up the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder, rising racing star Dane Cameron has signed to co-drive the #30 Racer's Edge Mazda RX-8 in the full 2009 Rolex Series GT season.  Sonoma, California native Cameron and his co-driver, veteran competitor Doug Petersen, will make their series debut in the 2009 Rolex 24 at Daytona, January 22 – 24.

Cameron arrives at this major step in his career via an accomplished climb up the open-wheel ladder.  Driving for Genoa Racing in the ultra-competitive 2008 Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, Cameron started from the pole once and scored two podium and five top-5 finishes to finish seventh in the championship during his rookie season.

In 2007, he was both series champion and Rookie of the Year in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear with three wins, six pole positions, five podium finishes and two top-5s.  He won the championship in Round 11 at Road Atlanta, one race ahead of the season-ending event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.  Cameron was the 2006 F2000 Rookie of the Year and finished second in the championship.  As a Team USA Scholarship driver, he won the 2006 Palmer Audi Winter Championship in Europe.  In 2005, he was the SCCA Formula Jim Russell Series champion and Rookie of the Year.  His karting career, beginning in 2000, was similarly successful, including the 2003 Jim Russell Karting 80cc Junior Shifter Championship and a 2004 finalist in the Red Bull Driver Search. More ...

Alonso pens deal with Spanish F1 broadcaster  (GMM)  Fernando Alonso has inked an agreement with Spain's new formula one broadcaster from 2009.

La Sexta will next year take over from Telecinco in broadcasting the sport within Spain.

Alonso, 27, already had a preferential agreement with Telecinco, involving grid interviews and other special access to the former double world champion.

The Spanish sports newspaper Marca reports that the La Sexta deal is for 6 million euros over the next five years, which is a slight increase in the Telecinco deal.

Marca said the new contract was signed by Alonso a few weeks ago.

Michael Schumacher had a similar exclusive arrangement with the German broadcaster RTL.

Schu's Ferrari role not guaranteed beyond 2009  (GMM)  Discussions with Michael Schumacher will take place during 2009 to decide if his contract with Ferrari is to be renewed, team boss Stefano Domenicali has revealed.

Schumacher, who stepped down from his race role with the Italian team as a seven time world champion in 2006, has subsequently served as an occasional test driver, ambassador and advisor.

But whether he will continue his roles beyond next year is to be the subject of discussions, Domenicali told the Italian magazine Autosprint.

He said Schumacher will remain involved with the F1 team and Ferrari's road car department in 2009.

"However, and I'm just saying this from a personal point of view, it's clear that everything must be assessed for what it can bring.

"So, during the season we'll have discussions to understand whether this collaboration will keep on going," said Domenicali.

Woking victory parade for Hamilton called off  (GMM)  A victory parade for Lewis Hamilton on the streets of McLaren's local town has been called off.

It is reported that civic leaders in Woking, located in the English county of Surrey, baulked at the $160,000 bill to provide security for the event.

"Given the council's financial position and the national and global economic climate, Woking Borough Council is unable to fund an event that would enable members of the public to safely participate in the celebrations," a town hall spokesman is quoted as saying by the Daily Star.

The last time Woking based McLaren crowned a new formula one world champion, thousands thronged the streets to see 1998 title winner Mika Hakkinen drive his Mercedes-powered single seater through the town.

McLaren did not comment.

Cicconi Jr. smokes Tony Stewart  Lou Cicconi Jr. couldn’t wait to celebrate.

So he yanked the steering wheel, stomped the throttle and began a dizzying series of 360-degree spins -- right there in the middle of the second turn, no more than two seconds after the checkered flag waved, with traffic bearing down on him.

The 44-year-old East Coast standout reached a personal goal Saturday by beating NASCAR star Tony Stewart to win the 60-lap midget feature that capped the final night of the 11th annual “Rumble in Fort Wayne.”

Forget champagne. Cicconi wanted donuts.

“I was so excited,” the driver known as Liquid Lou said, still effervescent a half-hour later. “I’ve been thinking about this for a year -- beating Tony Stewart.”

Stewart, the winner here on Friday, finished nearly a third of a lap behind in a race that went green all the way after a caution on lap 12. Jon Stanbrough finished third, giving Rick Daugherty the Rumble Series car owner championship, with Mike Fedorcak and Dave Darland completing the top five on the 1/6-mile indoor track at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center. More ...

Classless Stewart spins out leader in route to victory  
After being smoked by his faster NASCAR teammate Kyle Busch all year, an apparently over the hill Tony Stewart can't win without spinning out the leader of a race
Tony Stewart won his third consecutive ‘Rumble in Fort Wayne’ in Fort Wayne, Indiana Friday night. But the win didn’t come without a bit of on track bumping from the two time NASCAR champions that sent the leader spinning and gave Stewart the lead.

Stewart took the top spot with 21 laps to go in the 60-lap feature by shoving leader Lou Cicconi Jr going into turn four and sending him spinning.

Cicconi had taken the lead from pole sitter Dave Darland after Darland crashed into Mike Fedorcak.

Stewart held onto the lead to score the victory. Cicconi continued the race but dropped out before the finish with engine trouble.

“It was my fault for screwing Lou up,” Stewart told the Fort Wayne News Sentinel after the race. “I wanted to get into him, but not that much. I made that mistake, so this was probably Lou’s win. I kind of stole it away from him there.

“I wasn’t trying to screw him up,” Stewart added. “I wanted him to know that I was putting the pressure on him to try to get him to make a mistake. I just got into him too hard.”

For his part Cicconi was able to smile after it was all over.

“He just hit me and spun me out,” Cicconi said. “It was a hit with love. We’ve been through this a hundred times. It’s no big deal.” Cupscene

tv news
Weekend USA TV Reminders  UPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below.
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Summer Shootout Lowe's 
12:00pm-1:00pm -Round 4 SPEED
Trippin' on Two Wheels Scotland
3:00pm-4:00pm SPEED
Grand Am Year in Review 
4:00pm-5:00pm SPEED
Atlantic Championship 
5:00pm-5:30pm (9/21/08) Tooele, UT
5:30pm-6:00pm (10/3/08) Road Atlanta SPEED
Formula BMW USA -Season recap 
6:00pm-6:30pm SPEED
Mille Miglia: The Spirit of a Legend Italy
6:00pm-8:00pm (R) Discovery HD Theater
Check local listings for your time zone
Why We Race: The Mustang Challenge 
8:00pm-9:00pm (R)
9:00pm-10:00pm (R) Discovery HD Theater
Movie: 199 Lives: The Travis Pastrana Story (2008)
9:00pm-11:00pm ESPN2
Check local listings for your time zone
All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV programs, see TVRacer.com
Montezemolo demands re-think on F1 tracks  
As predicted, this year's manufactured off-season controversy to keep F1 in the news would be a war of words between Luca di Montezemolo and Bernie Ecclestone.  Here the Ferrari boss slams Ecclestone's street circuits
Luca di Montezemolo has once again taken issue with the amount of "touristic tracks" on the Formula One calendar.

The Ferrari president was highly critical of the Singapore street circuit in the aftermath of F1's first-ever night race, saying the track would be better off "staging a circus".

The other new street circuit on the 2008 calendar, Valencia, also didn't quite live up to expectations and was largely processional.

Di Montezemolo believes "real tracks" should provide a lot more overtaking opportunities.

"Having two or three Monte Carlos is too much," he said. "Next time we can race inside the Coliseum, or maybe inside the Papacy. This is not racing. More ...

NHRA Year in review, Part 1  In a season in which old records were broken despite new rules that were in play and a year where new alliances were formed and old friends were lost, NHRA Drag Racing rose to meet challenges both old and new in a remarkable season of competition.

In the first of three installments of an annual NHRA.com feature, we take a look back at the year's top headlines. Today: January through April.

Jan. 2: Bob Gilbertson announced that Nicky Boninfante Jr. will rejoin the Terminator Motorsports team as crew chief for the 2008 season.

Jan. 5: NASCAR road course specialist Boris Said beat Top Fuel pro Morgan Lucas by 1.07 seconds in the final round of the NASCAR vs. NHRA Challenge to claim glory for the roundy-round set at the Olympic Bobsled Course in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Jan. 8: Canidae All Natural Pet Foods, a leading manufacturer of super premium dog and cat foods, announced that it will be the primary sponsor on Jim Dunn Racing's Chevrolet Funny Car for the 2008 NHRA POWERade season.

Jan. 9: Torco Racing Fuels announced an interruption for its 2008 racing season. The break will include sidelining all Knoll Gas Motorsports teams, including those owned by Evan Knoll and sponsored by Torco Racing Fuels.

Jan. 10: NHRA announced modifications to the NHRA POWERade Countdown to the Championship, expanded the playoff fields to 10 drivers in each class, up from eight in 2007, and changing the playoffs to one six-race format instead of the previous two-tiered schedule.

Jan. 10: Team owner Don Prudhomme and owner/driver Tim Wilkerson announced an alliance for the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season that will create the ability for the two teams to share resources and discuss tuning decisions, while generating new opportunities for their sponsors.

Jan. 11: In an effort to maintain a high level of communication between race officials and participants, the NHRA announced the formation of a Sportsman Racer Advisory Council to provide a means for discussing and evaluating rules and regulations pertaining to Sportsman racing at NHRA events. More ...

2009 F1 launch schedule  The 2009 season looks set to be the most unpredictable season in over a decade thanks to the biggest overhaul in the technical regulations within the same timeframe. Thanks to the rule changes car launches this year will take place later than usual, with the earliest announced launch to date scheduled for mid-January. 2009 also sees a change in the way cars are launched, with just one team expected to unveil their car at an old-style launch ceremony. Thanks to the cost cuts, low-key roll-outs of the 2009 challengers has become the norm.

The earliest of the announced launches to date will take place on January 15th, with Toyota unveiling their TF109 to the media on the Internet, the first launch of its kind in F1. The first outing of the new car will be in Portugal at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao, where the team will complete a three-day test.

Toyota's mid-January launch will be followed a day later by McLaren's unveiling at their Woking headquarters on 16th January. To date, McLaren is the only team to confirm an official launch ceremony, although they have confirmed that the launch will be a much more low-key event than previous years. More ...
GM sues bankrupt auto parts supplier  General Motors Corp. is suing a bankrupt automotive supplier based in Troy for immediate access to specialized parts and equipment, arguing that a delay would hamper the launch of the new Chevrolet Camaro, disrupt GM's assembly operations and cause millions of dollars in damages.

In a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, GM accused Cadence Innovation LLC of "holding hostage" the parts and tooling equipment the automaker needs, and said Cadence was breaching the terms of an agreement signed with the automaker in August. The suit was filed Christmas Eve.

Cadence, which GM once hailed as its 2006 supplier of the year, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August, and began liquidation proceedings earlier this month. The automotive supplier makes door panels, air bag covers, consoles and other parts at plants in Clinton Township, Chesterfield, Fraser and Hillsdale. In addition to GM, it supplies parts to Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC.

GM wants immediate access to the parts and equipment so it can have a new supplier in place to begin making components by Jan. 12 to avoid a major disruption to its assembly operations.

"Even one day's disruption in supply of certain component parts could cause a shutdown of GM assembly operations, disrupting not only GM's business, but the operations of countless suppliers, dealers, customers and other stakeholders," the lawsuit said. Detroit Free Press

Fed's move boosts GM shares  Shares of General Motors Corp. ended the week on a high note, jumping 12.6% Friday as investors reacted to the Federal Reserve's move this week to allow the automaker's financing arm to become a bank. That decision, announced Wednesday, could make it easier for GM customers and dealers to access loans in the future.

GM's stock rose 41 cents, to close at $3.66 on Friday, reflecting investors' relief that a bankruptcy of GMAC is now less likely to derail a GM turnaround, which is being fueled by a loan of up to $13.4 billion from the federal government.

"People are connecting the dots that if GMAC has bank powers it will allow them to be more of a willing lender," said David Sowerby, portfolio manager at Loomis Sayles & Co. "And that will be a catalyst for car sales."

In an emergency move Wednesday, the Federal Reserve allowed GMAC to become a bank. The move opens the door to GMAC to several new sources of money, including access the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program. GMAC has applied for TARP money. At this point it's unclear how much it would receive. CreditSights Inc. estimates that GMAC could receive as much as $6.3 billion through that program. More ...

Karthikeyan has no interest in backmarker team  UPDATE (GMM) Narain Karthikeyan has ruled himself out of a return to formula one with countryman Vijay Mallya's Force India team.

The 31-year-old raced for the Silverstone based outfit's former Jordan guise in 2005, but current owner Mallya suggested recently that Karthikeyan is not good enough to now come back and fly the flag for their country.

Hitting back, the A1 GP driver slammed Force India as little more than the remnants of his former uncompetitive employer.

"I spent a frustrating time with Jordan, where I had a car that just could not perform. I have no desire to be with another pedestrian team that is low on performance and loud on talk," Karthikeyan said.

"I have never even approached Mallya. The vibes from the camp have been extremely negative and I want to make it clear that I am not interested in driving for Force India."

Karthikeyan also made a jibe about formula one, claiming "machine matters more than man" at the pinnacle of single seater racing.

Asked to respond to Karthikeyan's outspokenness, billionaire Mallya said: "Everyone is welcome to their views."

12/24/08 Overlooked by the team, Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan, has said he was never interested in joining the Force India Formula One team. Karthikeyan was the Silverstone based team's driver in 2005 when the team was still called Jordan.

"I spent a frustrating time with Jordan, where I had a car that just could not perform. I have no desire to be with another pedestrian team that's low on performance and loud on talk," Karthikeyan told the Hindustan Times. "I never even approached Mallya. The vibes from the camp have been extremely negative and I want to make it clear that I am not interested in driving for Force India."

Karthikeyan furthermore revealed he was offered a chance to join the team again in 2007. "Spyker offered me a drive in August 2007. I declined as the team was going nowhere. Except in F1, where machine matters more than man, I have won races in every championship that I have participated in."

Alonso voted best driver of 2008  Fernando Alonso has been named the top formula one driver of the 2008 season by one of the leading media outlets covering the sport as well as the readers of AutoRacing1.com (see poll on Home page).

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport, the daily sports newspaper, said the Spaniard outclassed both Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa, despite the latter duo occupying first and second spots in the final drivers' classifications.

"Why Alonso? Because he was driving a Renault, which did not begin as the best machine, but in the last 6 grands prix no-one scored more points than him," the publication said of the 27-year-old. This also was the sentiment of AutoRacing1.com (AR1.com) readers.

"In wise and close collaboration with his engineers, he gradually improved to a level of high competitiveness that allowed him not only to win two races, but to do better than everyone from September onwards: 43 points for him versus 33 for Massa and 28 for Hamilton.
Algarve circuit gets thumbs up from F1 drivers  
Main straight
Algarve is very hilly
The new Algarve circuit, due to be hosting A1GP on 12 Apr, 2009, has been hailed as “fantastic” by Formula One drivers following their maiden test at the Portuguese track earlier this month.

Formula One made its debut at the Iberian track with a three-day test attended by the Ferrari and McLaren teams.

“It’s a fantastic track, it looks like a roller-coaster,” McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa was quoted as saying by Autosprint magazine.

“It’s enjoyable, especially for a test driver who normally always runs on the usual two-three tracks.

“From a physical point of view it’s not very demanding: I’d say it’s about as demanding as Jerez. However it’s possible that when the grip will increase because of the rubber laid on it, then it will be more demanding.”

Teammate Gary Paffett added: “This track is a constant challenge because it’s an alternation of uphill and downhill sections and it’s hard to find the braking point, just like it’s difficult to find the best line.

“With the track being slippery we didn’t make a big effort to find the optimal set-up, we used the settings used at Montmelo and Jerez, knowing that they would have worked fine.”

Circuit director Juan Alvarez said, however, that the track was yet to make a profit.

“We’ve put a lot of effort to improve the track but, considering the permanent structure required by F1, you need at least 20 test days in order to begin making a profit,” he said. “At the moment we have only eight testing days confirmed for 2009, and that’s not enough.”

Construction on the new track was finished two months ago, and A1GP will be the circuit’s first international race meeting, occurring on April 12, 2009.  Next year's GP2 season finale will also be held at the new Algarve International Circuit.

racing news
Steckly Adds Canadian Flavor To Toyota All-Star Showdown  
Scott Steckly
Scott Steckly, the 2008 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion, has secured a ride for the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown providing international flavor for this one-of-a-kind all-star event.

Along with the 13 drivers from the NASCAR Camping World Series, who secured a guaranteed starting position in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown by winning a series event in 2008, each of the champions from NASCAR’s other developmental series also have a guaranteed slot in the main event. This truly makes the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, considered to be the ‘Daytona 500 of short-track racing,’ more than just any all-star event. It brings together the finest short-track racers from all over North America.

The prestigious postseason event, slated for Jan. 23-24 at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.). It will feature two days of racing and will air live on SPEED beginning at 7 p.m. PT both nights.

Steckly’s record-setting 2008 season in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series was, at times, dominating as he collected his first NASCAR championship. He posted a series-record four victories en route to the title. He also notched four runner-up finishes. All told, the driver out of Milverton, Ont., finished in the top five nine times. He took the points lead after winning the season-opening event at Cayuga Motor Speedway and did not loosen his grip on the top spot the rest of the way. More ...

Despite test ban, NASCAR fans can still see drivers  Although there will be no Daytona testing for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck series next month due to NASCAR’s test ban, fans will nevertheless have a chance to get their first racing experience of 2009. NASCAR will hole a Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona on Jan. 16-17, with autograph sessions, show cars, interactive fan forums, and ride-and-drive packages provided by the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Tickets can be ordered by calling 1-800-PITSTOP, and are $15. Autograph sessions are limited to 100 people per driver in advance.
Montezemolo calls KERS intro a mistake  
Luca di Montezemolo says KERS introduced too soon
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo says that the introduction of KERS to F1 in 2009 is a mistake, especially as he believes it will not have a use in road cars in the immediate future.  We believe he is saying it because Ferrari started late on their KERS design and are behind the 8-ball.

"It's not possible to do everything overnight," Montezemolo was quoted as saying by Autosport. "It's a process from year to year. The KERS is a mistake. Whatever we discover there's nothing in common between the KERS in F1 and that for road cars."

"However for 2012 KERS could be an important part of a new package that properly addresses environmental concerns," he added. "But for 2009, KERS is the biggest part of F1 spending."

"I'm not against the principle, but the way it is at the moment is a mistake," he added. "It needs to be a package for the future and have three or four years to work on the whole engine-KERS package."

Max Mosley raises the stakes over invasion of privacy  It is already shaping up to be one of the most sensitive court cases of 2009, opening up a close-to-the-bone debate about the use in Germany of Nazi or wartime symbols.

The case is part of the world motor-sport boss Max Mosley’s campaign to set the record straight on a secretly filmed sadomasochistic sex session that – in video footage and still photographs shown in Germany as well as Britain – depicts him being beaten by women in uniform. The president of the FIA, the body that oversees Formula One racing, was awarded £60,000 by a High Court judge in summer for breach of privacy by the News of the World.

The hearing in Germany, pitting Mr. Mosley against the mass-circulation Bild and its online offshoot, is to be held early next year and is already provoking discussion about the limits to privacy. More ...

2009 Race Schedules  Our 2009 race schedule page is now live.  You can access it via the schedule button on our main menu.
Ferrari wrecked by Arab prince  A city worker claims he is £100,000 out of pocket after a Kuwaiti prince hired his prized Ferrari — and wrote it off.

The 190 mph supercar exploded into a fireball when the fuel lines ruptured after it smashed into a lamppost.

Gleaming ... Andrew Hobb with Ferrari

Gleaming ... Andrew Hobb with Ferrari

The driver and passenger did a runner outside the Kuwait Embassy in London’s posh Knightsbridge after the 5 am crash.


And last night Andrew Hobb, 40, said: “He must have been driving the car like a maniac.”

The financial adviser had agreed to let out his gleaming 360 Modena through a hire car company for £1,500.

But after the crash he had to turn DIY detective when hire car company Simply Smart became cagey over the ID of the driver.  More ...

A crime......  A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, In this Sports Illustrated article Joe Posnanski wrote hailing 2008 as an historic year in sports, and yet mentions nothing of Lewis Hamilton. He mentions other sports that have no American in the picture, or that are even watched by many (or any) Americans. He does mention, among other things, Jimmie Johnson's championship, but nothing of Lewis Hamilton. 

People need to tell this guy and SI that they need to give racing its due. This is a socially significant sport with deep roots. It is quite possibly the only sport that has a direct impact on our society. This year especially, with the KERS system, F1 puts itself on the cutting edge of the world's challenges. 

I would think this to be especially significant in the same year we see our first black President. 

He is a full-time staffer at the Kansas City Star, and also writes for SI. 

His email is jposnanski@kcstar.com

All AR1 racing readers need to mention this grave omission to him personally...don't you think?   Scott Morrison
track news
Singapore GP made impact  2008 was a great year for Singapore sports. From the Formula One trackside to the Olympic arena, it was a year of historic achievements.

The Olympics silver medal won by the women's table tennis trio of Li Jiawei, Wang Yue Gu and Feng Tianwei brought huge celebrations. Their victory also broke a 48-year Olympic medal drought for Singapore.

The country also won the bid to host the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010, beating off competition from sports powerhouse Russia in the final round. Work has started to deliver a memorable event, the largest multi-sport games Singapore will host. More ...
Riley Technologies announces new Grand-Am cars  
Riley Track Day Car (TDC)

While many are taking a break and slowing down for the holidays, things are racing ahead full speed at Riley Technologies as several programs continue to move from development to fruition for the Mooresville-based organization. After starting the 2008 season with Riley products winning both the GT and Daytona Prototype classes in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Riley Technologies went on to score a remarkable fifth consecutive Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Manufacturer Championship.

The winning genetics behind that rich on-track legacy of success will now be available to a select group of drivers when the Riley Track Day Car (TDC) is released in late February. With the first two chassis already sold, the innovative new entry in the market has attracted significant interest well before it hits the track.

Taking everything the company has learned in competition and focusing it on the Track Day Car, the new Riley TDC will deliver a straightforward driving experience, with speed, safety and easy maintenance key factors in the design. With a GM “Crate” motor providing the base powerplant option starting with 500 hp mated to the GA46 sequential shift gearbox from EMCO Gears, the low-weight TDC has impeccable performance credentials. More ...

Dodge will stay in NASCAR with minimal effort  Woe to the poor teams who stuck with Dodge.  Dodge has confirmed that it will continue to support teams racing in NASCAR sanctioned stock car races in 2009 despite the dismal state of the automotive industry. “We’re not going to pull out,” Mike Accavitti, Dodge’s head of motorsports, told Reuters. “We are going to throttle back (30% or more).  NASCAR is not exempt from anything else that we do to market and promote vehicles.

“We have to reduce our spending,” he added. “We have to get our expenses in line with our revenues. The market right now for automobiles is at a low point that hasn’t been seen in decades. As we resize the company and resize our expenses, our NASCAR spend is not exempt.”
Chevy has already announced that it will cut its motor sports spending (eliminating NASCAR track sponsorships), and Ford will stop commitments next year to the lower-tier Camping World Truck and Nationwide series.

Toyota has already said that while their budget is still under review, they have no immediate plans to significantly reduce their spending in NASCAR for 2009.

Dodge teams were already backmarkers.  With 30%+ reduction in their effort.....woe to the hapless Dodge teams that remain.  Of course NASCAR does need field fillers.  Chip Ganassi saw the light and got out while he could.

Ron Hornaday Sr. dies  Ron Hornaday Sr. has died after a long battle with cancer this past Sunday.  Hornaday Sr., father of Truck series regular Ron Hornaday Jr., was a two-time champion in the NASCAR Camping World Series West, when it was known as the NASCAR Winston West Series – winning back-to-back titles in 1963 and 1964.

He made 17 NASCAR Grand National/Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup) starts between 1955 and 1973, mainly on the West Coast. Hornaday Sr. was inducted in the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in its first class in 2002. He was 77.

racing news
Foster Campbell dies  Foster Campbell, Four Times Rocky Mountain Midget Racing Association (RMMRA) Champion has died. Campbell won RMMRA Driving Championships in 1956 through 1959, and was Champion Mechanic a total of 10 times, perhaps best known for his expertise on tuning, and later restoring, Offenhauser engines. He won a total of 24 RMMRA features, plus others with AAA and CARC. Campbell was inducted in the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame, Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame and the Belleville High Banks Hall of Fame.

Preceded in death by his wife, Mary, daughter, Shirley Fitzpatrick, and grandson, Brett Fitzpatrick. Father of Bobby Campbell; grandfather of Ryan (Rayleen) and Mandy Fitzpatrick. Beloved uncle of numerous nieces and nephews. Brother-in-law of Fred Johnson. Visitation, Wednesday, 12PM- 2PM.  Service, Friday, 12:00 Noon, both at Highland Mortuary. Interment, Highland Cemetery.

Stats on Foster Campbell: More ...

Solberg embarrasses himself in front of Italian fans  Petter Solberg at the Bettega Memorial 2008 in Bologna......talk about making yourself look like a dork!


STR confirms new team manager  The Scuderia Toro Rosso confirmed Gianfranco Fantuzzi as their new team manager. Fantuzzi, previously the team's general manager, will replace Massimo Rivola who joined the Scuderia Ferrari. Although the Faenza-based team announced this reshuffle, the outfit still has to confirm its drivers for the upcoming season.
Ferrari to be first to reveal 2009 car  
Ferrari to launch in January
(GMM)  Ferrari looks set to be the first team to unveil its 2009 car, according to reports in the Italian press.

La Gazzetta dello Sport claims the Maranello based outfit will reveal its new single seater at Fiorano in the middle of January.

The most likely date is January 15, the same day that Toyota is scheduled to reveal images of its TF109.

On the following day, the new McLaren will be launched at its Woking headquarters, and on January 19 the 2009-specification Williams and Renault cars will be test-debuted in Portugal.

On January 20, BMW-Sauber's F1.09 will run for the first time at Valencia's Ricardo Tormo circuit.

Red Bull does not plan to begin testing its RB5 until February, and Force India will wait until March.

Force India links with junior team  (GMM)  Force India, the F1 squad owned by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya, has teamed up with the World Series by Renault outfit Draco.

The collaboration, revealed when Draco's 2009 car was in Brescia (Italy) unveiled in Force India colors, will see Mallya's team "observe the emergent drivers" from the junior single seater series.

"The world of F1 has changed, drivers are recruited very young and this project with Force India is ideal for both," said Draco team owner Adriano Morini.

Bernie wants Chandhok on F1 grid  
Karun Chandhok
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has rejected team owner Vijay Mallya's claim that an Indian driver is not yet ready for formula one.

Indian billionaire Mallya, who owns and runs Force India, wants a countryman at the wheel of his car but for the moment has ruled out both Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok.

He said that Karthikeyan, who raced with the Silverstone based team (then Jordan) in 2005, "doesn't fit" his criteria, while Chandhok did not sufficiently impress this year in GP2.

But F1 chief executive Ecclestone, who plans to add India to the grand prix calendar in 2011, disagrees.

"The time is getting closer for F1 to be in India, which is something I am really enthusiastic about, and hopefully Karun will be part of it," the 78-year-old told the local Hindustan Times.

"His place is in F1," Ecclestone added.

Karthikeyan, who as recently as last year was a test driver with Williams, was not mentioned by the British billionaire.

Atlantic Championship Notebook – December 23, 2008  
Since winning the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda title at Road Atlanta in October, Finnish driver Markus Niemela has been busy working on a program for 2009.

Immediately after the Atlantic season finale, Niemela returned to Europe for a GP2 test and an end-of-season fan party. Within a few days, Niemela was called back to the United States for Indy Lights tests at Putnam Park near Indianapolis and also at Kentucky Speedway. Niemela then joined Mercedes for a DTM (German Touring Car) test at Italy’s Mugello circuit. Niemela has now returned to Finland for the holiday season.

“I’ve never driven so many different cars in such a short time,” Niemela said. “It has been busy and great to get to drive all these cars, especially as all of the tests went very well. My next year is still quite open and no decisions have been made, but there are some interesting opportunities. We are still evaluating different options and waiting for all the cards to be on the table before making any decisions.” More ...
Mosley willing to bend somewhat on standard engine  Max Mosley has conceded that his plans for a standard engine in Formula One are unlikely to be endorsed by the teams, but the FIA President says he still wants to introduce an independent engine supplier in case more manufacturers decide to follow Honda out of the sport.

With the teams rigorously opposed to the idea of a standardized engine, a compromise is expected to be reached with the FIA whereby the manufacturers would make their engines available to the smaller teams at a reduced cost from 2010.

“This is still under discussion, but I think we will end up with a frozen engine, regulated in such a way that independent teams can obtain inexpensive supplies,” Mosley told the official Formula One website.

Adding that he hoped to see some sort of independent engine supply from 2010 onwards Mosley said: “I think we ought to try to have at least one independent outside engine supplier, because of the risk that we will lose another manufacturer or even two.” More ...

Formula BMW
Rahal Letterman Racing To Assume Management of Formula BMW  Continuing to build upon a long and storied racing tradition, Rahal Letterman Racing announces today that the Ohio-based team will assume the management of the Formula BMW Americas series beginning on January 1, 2009.

The world’s leading entry-level open-wheel racing series, Formula BMW provides young drivers with a safe, competitive and challenging car in which to hone their skills, while giving the youngsters exposure to many of the world top circuits and events. In 2008 the three Formula BMW series: Formula BMW Europe, Formula BMW Pacific and Formula BMW Americas, competed in the key motorsport markets of Europe and pan-Asia as well as in North and South America.

Today’s announcement means that a single team will both partner with BMW of North America in the American Le Mans Series with its two BMW M3 racers and oversee the Formula BMW series in America.

“We are pleased to have found in Rahal Letterman Racing a professional, well integrated partner with great experience in US motorsport,” commented BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. “The Formula BMW races held in support of the ALMS will generate synergy effects in terms of PR, marketing and logistics. Lapwing Management already set the bar high last year as far as the organization of the series is concerned, and we thank them warmly for their work. The concept is also proving a success from a sporting perspective, as demonstrated not least by Alexander Rossi. The US driver recently backed up his Formula BMW Americas title triumph with victory in the Formula BMW World Final. We are hoping that the expansion of the race calendar into Mexico as part of the World Touring Car Championship event there will further increase interest from all the Americas in the line-up for 2009.” More ...

Alex Brundle to compete in F2  
Alex Brundle
Alex Brundle is the latest driver to confirm his participation in the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship.

Brundle – son of former F1 driver and BBC commentator Martin – joins after graduating from the Formula Palmer Audi championship. In his second season of FPA, Brundle scored three podiums on his way to taking sixth overall in the 2008 standings. Brundle also claimed a pole position on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit – a venue that will be visited by the FIA Formula Two Championship in 2009.

Alex Brundle said: “Formula Two is the right choice for my career. Driving a car designed by a Formula One team is fantastic. I have experienced the way in which MotorSport Vision runs a championship, and I trust MSV to run a professional and fair operation so I can show my full potential. The level of competition will be huge but I see that as an opportunity not a threat. I just can’t wait to get in the car!” More ...

tv news
SPEED Sets January NASCAR Schedule  SPEED will open its 2009 NASCAR coverage with the first episode of NASCAR 39/10: Reviewing the 60th Season on Jan. 7. The series of 10 three-hour specials, loaded with race highlights and extensive pre- and post-race interviews, will premiere Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 3 p.m. ET and run for five weeks, leading into the network’s extensive NASCAR programming schedule from Daytona Speedweeks in February.

“January is all about getting jacked up for Daytona,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “We’re going to give race fans a chance to relive their favorite moments from 2008 in a unique way, while at the same time, setting the stage for the new season … it’s a very cool time for all of us.”

The specials, produced by NASCAR Media Group, will air in High Definition and feature NASCAR Sprint Cup Series footage not seen in the original race broadcast, as well as interviews, sync scanner sound and 16mm film footage.

In addition, SPEED also will kick off its annual NASCAR Preseason Thunder coverage on Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. ET, with 17 original 30-minute shows and a one-hour special from Daytona Fan Fest on Jan. 17.

The popular Trackside Live with Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond and Steve Byrnes will open the 2009 season with five consecutive shows from Daytona, airing Jan. 19-23 at 7 p.m. ET.

Live NASCAR racing returns to the track with live coverage of qualifying for the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown Jan. 23 at 10 p.m. ET and live race coverage Jan. 24 at 10 p.m. ET. Mike Joy and Phil Parsons will be in the booth, with Dr. Dick Berggren and Jim Tretow reporting from the pits.

Massa slams wages cuts idea  Felipe Massa has slammed calls for Formula One teams to cut the wages of their drivers in a bid to help cut costs.  The Ferrari driver, who finished the 2008 drivers' championships in second, just one point behind Britain's Lewis Hamilton, is reported to earn £8 million, around a third of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen's salary.

"I'm not inclined to it," Massa said when asked about Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali's proposal to reduce driver earnings.

"In a competitive sport like this, the driver plays a fundamental part and the cost of the drivers are small compared to the total budget of the teams.

"The more people work to reduce costs, the better it is going to be for everybody."

Massa has also said he disagrees with the plan to introduce a standard engine, which FIA president Max Mosley wanted to see implemented by 2010 to drive down the running costs of teams estimated to be around £300 million mark.

"I do not find this idea interesting," said Massa. "The fight to diminish costs is important but a standard engine gets away from what F1 is all about - and it cannot happen.

"A Ferrari running with another engine - that is not a Ferrari. It is the same for Mercedes, Toyota or Renault." Yahoo Sports

[Editor's Note:  F1 needs a standard Cosworth engine for the privateer teams. We recall when the F1 grid was dominated by standard Cosworth engines that gave the likes of Ferrari a run for their money.  It made the sport better.  Massa needs to take a reading comprehension class as he does not understand the proposal.  Mosley's proposal is for a standard engine for any team that wants to use it and if Ferrari, Mercedes, Toyota, and BMW want to do their own engine, that is fine, but those engines cannot outperform the Cosworth.  They can spend $100M a year on their own engine or $10M on the Cosworth.  They won't go any faster, but for an extra $90M they can have the privilege of putting their name on the cam cover.  Chump change in Massa's book it seems.  What is his IQ?] 

Despite economy BMW still raises prices  BMW of North America, LLC announced today an average price increase of 0.7 percent for BMW vehicles sold in the U.S. effective January 1, 2009. This action is driven by the ongoing structural and economical changes in the market place. It will ensure revenue generation for the company’s U.S. operations and help to protect the quality of business.

Pricing for the new Advanced Diesel vehicles remain unchanged. The all new 335d and X5 xDrive35d were launched recently and have begun arriving at BMW Centers this month.

In addition, BMW announced pricing for the new 2009 7 Series that debuted recently at the Los Angeles International Auto Show. The base price for the 750i is $81,125 and the 750Li is 85,025 (including $825 for destination and handling). Both models began production in November and will arrive at BMW Centers in the spring.

Leilani Münter tested by James Hylton Motorsports  What was scheduled as a weekend of last minute Christmas shopping turned into a weekend turning laps at the most hallowed track in stock car racing for Leilani Münter.

After receiving the call Monday afternoon that James Hylton Motorsports had a race car without a driver, the week was a mad rush to prepare for Leilani to drive Hylton Motorsports’ 2005 Ford Taurus. Münter fitted her La Joie racing seat into the car on Tuesday and only two days later, she was on her way to Daytona.

It was Leilani’s first time back in a stock car in two years. In 2007 Münter became the fourth woman in history to race in Indy Lights, the development league of IndyCar. It did not take Münter long to get back into the groove of stock car racing. When the team left the track at 3pm on Saturday they were listed 20th quick of 56 race cars testing with a speed of 179.551 mph. More ...
Bayliss wants $2m to race Rossi  World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss has put a price tag of $A2.1 million for a proposed match race against world MotoGP titleholder Valentino Rossi.

Rossi is reportedly keen on the challenge but Bayliss has been firm in his decision to walk away from motorcycle racing completely.

Bayliss retired at the end of this season after clinching his third Superbike world crown and is eyeing a possible switch to V8 Supercars.

But he has left a small window open to the Rossi suggestion and believes the Italian Yamaha star could easily be competitive on the different machine.

"I spoke with Valentino and he told me that he wants to race me really badly,'' Bayliss told motorcyclenews.com. "Yamaha have got a strong bike so it would be no problem at all for him to get up to speed. More ...

Webber says 2008 season boring  Mark Webber has admitted some races this year were so boring even the most ardent fan would have nodded off.

And the Australian is not convinced that rule changes for 2009 aimed at making the sport more competitive will have the desired effect.

"There are many changes next year - slick tires on the cars and the aerodynamic regulations are very aggressive - and we haven't seen changes like them for many years," Webber told the BBC.

"The main thought behind them is to make overtaking easier. More ...

First for Neel Jani, A1 Team Switzerland  
Neel Jani
FIRST time you knew you wanted to be a racing driver:

“Well, for me it was actually very early. I think I was three year-old or something like that. Obviously my dad was racing, so I was always at the race track and then at five I got my first go kart. I had started before, playing with the little Formula One toys or Scalextrics."

FIRST time you raced something (not necessarily a car)?
“That was downhill karting. We lived on a hill, and we went down that hill with go karts. You know, the ones where you have to peddle? I raced with my neighbors, my sister, everybody. We were racing each other all the time. I lost all my baby teeth in one crash, once. I could not eat for several weeks. We also did sledging races when we were small, down in front of our house. We were racing all the time, basically."
FIRST car you bought?
“I never bought a car so far. I have always just had one. My very first one was actually an MG, an English car – an MG F convertible. Then afterwards I always had a Renault because I got cars from Renault so I always had actually cool cars like Clio sport or Megane sport."
FIRST CD you bought?
“I am not so much into music much, actually. I never remember one song; I just listened on the radio.”
FIRST word you said?
“My parent’s told me once but… I can’t remember. I will have to ask them.”
FIRST racing crash?

“It was in go karts when I was seven. I remember it well. Because at the time when you are small, under 10 or so, you are driving with your own go karts. And obviously some of them didn’t know how to drive and I was always quicker than the rest, so I had a shunt once with one of them and I flipped and went into the forest. I was scared for about one minute and cried I think. Then my sister drove and was quick, and I thought that I can do that too and so I came back."

FIRST pet?
“We didn’t really have any in my family. I am not too much an animal fan. I don’t mind them but I am not too big a fan of them. Too much work.”
FIRST kiss?

“Cybil. I think that’s what I remember at least. What do you mean by kiss? It’s a big spectrum. The first one I remember really was the one which I…my first girlfriend was 14, Cybil.”

FIRST race win?
"I was 16 and it was in my first year of cars. It was in Formula Lista Junior. It was like Formula BMW is now."
FIRST thing you do in the morning?
“I have a… well, I go to the toilet. Well, I get up anyway.”
Carmichael Tries His Hand At Stock Cars During ARCA RE/MAX Series Test  
Ricky Carmichael prepares to take some laps during ARCA RE/MAX testing Friday at Daytona International Speedway. Carmichael will run some NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races in a third truck for Kevin Harvick Incorporated in 2009
Ricky Carmichael has raced motorcycles and sports cars at Daytona International Speedway.

This weekend, Carmichael, a five-time Daytona Supercross By Honda champion, added stock cars to the list as he participated in the three-day ARCA RE/MAX Series test in preparation for the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 during DIRECTV Speedweeks 2009.

"This is what it's all about. When you hear about Daytona, it's stock car racing," Carmichael said. "I'm having a great time here. This race track has a lot of character and a lot of history. This is what I want to do. I've been around here in a sports car and obviously a motorcycle a time or two. I'm just glad to be in a stock car. This is a dream of mine and I'm glad to have the opportunity to do that."

Carmichael, who has retired from Supercross and is now pursuing a NASCAR career, is a Supercross and Motocross legend and is nicknamed G.O.A.T – the Greatest Of All Time. More ...

Toyota All-Star Showdown will be a homecoming for Hornaday  
Ron Hornaday after his win in Texas this year
For drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Series, the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown is a chance to showcase their talent in the biggest event of the year. For Ron Hornaday Jr., it will be more of a homecoming.

Hornaday – who prior to becoming a three-time champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, spent much of his life in and around the NASCAR Camping World Series West – recently announced plans to compete in next month’s all-star event at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.).

The prestigious postseason event, slated for Jan. 23-24, is considered the ‘Daytona 500 of short-track racing.’ It will feature two days of racing and will air live on SPEED beginning at 7 p.m. PT both nights.

Hornaday’s father, Ron Sr., was a two-time champion in the NASCAR Camping World Series West, when it was known as the NASCAR Winston West Series – winning back-to-back titles in 1963 and 1964. The younger Hornaday made 46 starts in the series between 1989 and 2001, nearly winning the championship in 1994. More ...

NASCAR Announces Three Vice President Promotions  

(left to right) Karen Leetzow, Paula Miller and Sue Schandel.

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR)  announced today the promotion of Karen Leetzow, Paula Miller and Susan Schandel to vice president positions.

Leetzow has been named vice president/deputy general counsel; Miller has been named vice president of human resources and organizational development; and Schandel has been named vice president/chief accounting officer.

All three promotions are effective immediately.

“These are well-deserved appointments,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. "I'm proud of the expertise and talent we have throughout NASCAR. These appointments further strengthen our leadership team.”

Leetzow, previously assistant general counsel for the stock car sanctioning body, has worked for NASCAR since 1999. She is a graduate of The American University, Washington College of Law.

Miller joined NASCAR in October, having previously worked as managing director of corporate and human services for International Speedway Corporation (NASDAQ:ISCA). Prior to that she worked for 13 years with General Electric in human resources. She is a graduate of Ohio and Purdue universities.

Schandel came to NASCAR in February – being named chief accounting officer – after 15 years at International Speedway Corporation, where she rose to senior vice president. Prior to joining ISC she worked for Ernst & Young. Schandel is a graduate of Penn State University.

GM and Ford move deeper in 'junk' status  General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., the two largest U.S. automakers, had their debt cut further below junk status by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service.

GM’s unsecured debt was trimmed one level to C, or 11 grades below investment quality, by S&P. Moody’s lowered its rating on $26 billion in Ford debt by two grades to Caa3, or nine below investment quality.

The moves reflect unease over effects on debtholders of the $13.4 billion emergency U.S. aid plan for GM and Chrysler LLC, which comes with conditions including labor-cost cuts. S&P said unsecured lenders can expect “negligible recovery” should GM default, and Moody’s said Ford will need to restructure debt to win union concessions similar to those at GM and Chrysler.

The risk of bankruptcy remains high for U.S. automakers even with the loans announced by the U.S. and Canadian governments, S&P said in a separate release.

GM lost 97 cents, or 22 percent, to $3.52 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, the shares’ biggest percentage decline since Nov. 10. Ford fell 36 cents, or 12 percent, to $2.59 for its largest drop since Nov. 19.

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