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Delphi continues to bleed red ink Delphi continues to bleed red ink[Editor's Note: Don't look for this company to be a sponsor in the IRL much longer, not with these loses. We wonder if Key Liquidators, the company that liquidates most of the IRL teams, will get involved with liquidating their sponsors too. Delphi has lost $4.18 billion since being spun off from GM in 1999 so their IRL sponsorship hasn't helped a bit.]

Since Delphi Corp. filed for bankruptcy in October, it has lost $127 million and spent $23 million on lawyers and other bankruptcy-related fees, according to documents filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

From Oct. 8 to Nov. 30, the nation's largest auto-parts supplier lost $127 million from $2.9 billion in sales. This is the first required monthly report the Troy-based company has filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Delphi, which employs 14,700 workers in Michigan, filed for bankruptcy Oct. 8 after negotiations failed with its unions and its former owner, General Motors Corp., declined to provide a financial bailout. Fearing a potentially crippling strike, GM has since entered negotiations with Delphi.

Delphi said Friday it had cash and cash equivalents of $956 million as of Nov. 30 and liabilities, including pensions and debt, of $20.4 billion. Delphi spokeswoman Claudia Piccinin said the company's financial data are unaudited. More at Detroit Free Press

Industry news
Detroit loses $31.9 billion in one year Detroit loses $31.9 billion in one yearHow bad was 2005 for investors in Michigan's automotive industry? The answer lies in one figure: $31.9 billion.

That's the amount of stock market value that five of Michigan's largest automakers and auto-parts suppliers have lost over the past 12 months due largely to the share prices of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. getting cut roughly in half by investors.

Now, with little faith on Wall Street in Detroit's ability to solve its problems, 2006 might not provide much relief. "There's farther to fall," said Kevin Tynan, a senior equity analyst at Argus Research who covers the auto industry. With GM, "from an investment standpoint, what are you buying? You're not buying any earnings, and you're not buying a whole lot of earnings potential either."

GM lost about $11.7 billion in value last year, while Ford lost $12.6 billion. And the troubles at the automakers trickled down to suppliers. Delphi Corp.'s bankruptcy erased about $5 billion in market value the company had at the beginning of the year. Investors pushed Visteon Corp. shares down 36%, and Lear Corp. shares fell 53%.

Among Michigan's auto titans only one -- DaimlerChrysler AG -- managed an increase in its share price this year, a 6% gain that outpaced the Standard & Poor's 500 Index's meager 3% increase. Two Michigan-based auto suppliers, Borg Warner Inc. and TRW Automotive Holdings Inc., broke through the pack and posted sizable gains due to a diversity of products and reliance on more than just one or two automakers. More at Detroit Free Press

Trulli won't wait long for Toyota decision Trulli won't wait long for Toyota decisionJarno Trulli, who has 1-year left on his Toyota contract, says while his first choice is to re-sign with Toyota, he's not about to wait around and let a good opportunity pass him by while the Japanese manufacturer considers his future.

"I'm a Toyota driver and my first option is to stay with this team," Trulli tells Tuttosport magazine.

"I feel good here; our technical level has improved a lot and I think it can still improve more. The ingredients are all there, as there are the resources to win, so I have no reason to change.

"But it's also true that I've received offers and there are contacts with other (teams). I need Toyota to let me know shortly what they want to do, and then I'll act accordingly."

"I see this trend nowadays of announcing decisions very early," he explained. "There is a race to get hold of the driver who is regarded a winner. I think it's an effect tied to the larger and larger involvement of the car manufacturers.

"I feel it's better to avoid this sort of conduct. If I signed today for any other team, I wouldn't leak any information about it. It's a form of respect which every driver should have for the team he races for."

Sainz wins first leg of Dakar Rally Sainz wins first leg of Dakar RallyFor a first start in a Dakar, what a start it was for Carlos Sainz! (pictured right)  The Spaniard Volkswagen driver flew to an impressive special victory on the 83km of the stage going from Lisbon to Portimao. Sainz clocked the fastest time ahead of Portugal’s Carlos Sousa. Eager to take off this 28th edition of the Euromilhoes Lisboa-Dakar 2006, bike title holder Cyril Despres managed the best time of the day’s 83km special. The surprise however came from the excellent results of the Portuguese privateers with three bikers in the top 10.

The Portuguese fans had gathered in numbers around the starting podium close-by the Jeronimo Monastery, to cheer the first competitors taking off for stage 1 of the event. The first competitor to take off was quad rider Antonio Ventura (BOM – n°252), under the interested eyes of Portugal’s president Jorge Sampaio.

But the real action took place, 186kms further south for the start of the timed special. Taking off last due to his number 1 bib, title holder Cyril Despres (KTM – n°1) managed the fastest time on the muddy tracks of the 83km special, in 58’10”. The Frenchman finished his effort with a big smile on the face capturing the first overall leading position of this Dakar.

Despres’ main rival wasn’t exactly the one that was expected. Indeed Portuguese privateer Ruben Faria (KTM – n°160) certainly managed the performance of his life. Taking off early, the KTM rider had the fastest time for almost all the morning until ‘Monsieur’ Despres showed up. He eventually was beaten for only 4”. His compatriot Helder Rodrigues (KTM – n°55) saw his podium dream vanish when Marc Coma (KTM – n°2) the best rider of the KTM-Repsol team clocked the third best time, at 7”. Like Faria, Rodrigues took advantage of his knowledge of a familiar terrain to finish fourth.

In the leading ten positions were 3 French riders (Despres 1st, Frétigné 6th and Casteu 7th), 3 Portuguese (Faria 2nd, Rodrigues 4th and Goncalves 10th), 3 Spaniards (Coma 3rd, Esteve 5th and Pellicer 8th) and an Australian (Caldecott 9th).

David Frétigné (YAM – n°12), who had clinched victory in the four European stages in the last two editions, indeed had to settle with 6th position on a special a lot longer than those of the past few years.  zzzz

The slight disappointment came from Norway’s Pal-Anders Ullevalseter (KTM – n°5) who captured 32nd place, 6’20 adrift, but the Norwegian will certainly be a lot more comfortable on African soil. The US bikers of the KTM-Red Bull team, Andy Grider (KTM – n°23) and Chris Blais (KTM – n°9) had to settle with 23rd and 31st positions, over 5’ slower than the best time of the day.

The car race saw a newcomer triumph. Indeed Carlos Sainz (VW – n°307) for his first ever kilometres in the event, the two-time WRC World champion proved that he was just as impressive in a bigger rally-raid car. On muddy tracks made for WRC specialists, Sainz made the best of his brand new Race Touareg to clock the fastest time in 56’20”. One man that certainly wasn’t surprised at the Spaniard’s success was Portugal’s Carlos Sousa (NIS – n°311). He indeed had announced that Sainz would be difficult to beat on such a special. The National hero behind the steering wheel of his Nissan Pickup had to settle with a very good second spot but would have loved to thank his many fans on the side of the road by grabbing the win. Sousa finished 1’30” adrift while another former WRC driver, Bruno Saby (VW – n°301) captured third spot at 1’51”, just ahead of Jutta Kleinschmidt (VW – n°303) at 2’24”. Volkswagen impressed with their 5 vehicles entering the leading ten. The two other VW drivers, Giniel De Villiers and Mark Miller were 8h and 10th.

It was a slightly different for the Mitsubishi team. Title holder Stephane Peterhansel (MIT – n°300) stopped to change a punctured tire and finished 3’46 (in 12th spot). The same problem hit Hiroshi Masuoka who however decided to carry on driving despite a puncture (13th at 4’34). The best Pajero driver was Nani Roma, 5th (at 3’12”) ahead of Luc Alphand 6th (at 3’20”).

One of the best performances of the day was that of Guerlain Chicherit. The winner of last year’s ‘Volant Dakar’ competition that allowed him to start the rally in a Bowler, clinched 5th spot of the special. A best ever result for the young Frenchman, now driving an official BMW X3.

In the truck race, four-time Dakar winner Vladimir Tchaguine stormed to stage victory after the 83km of the special. The Kamaz driver clocked a time of 1h12’59”, beating former WRC World champion Mili Biasion and his IVECO truck by over 2’. Third was Brasil’s André De Azeevedo in his Tatra, 3’15” adrift. The big upset concerned title holder Firdaus Kabirov who lost close to 30’ on the day..

American Robby Gordon is 14th in an American-made Hummer which is not expected to beat the German and Japanese brands.

The second stage will take the field from Portimao to Malaga in Spain over 567 kms, including a 115 kms timed leg.

Cars stage 1 classification:
Pos Driver Make Time

 1. Carlos Sainz (Spain) Volkswagen 56:20
 2. Carlos Sousa (Portugal) Nissan 57:50
 3. Bruno Saby (France) Volkswagen 58:11
 4. Jutta Kleinschmidt (Germany) Volkswagen 58:44
 5. Guerlain Chicherit (France) BMW 59:22
 6. Nani Roma (Spain) Mitsubishi 59:32
 7. Luc Alphand (France) Mitsubishi 59:40
 8. Giniel de Villiers (South Africa) Volkswagen 59:48
 9. Thierry Magnaldi (France) Schlesser-Ford 59:50
 10. Mark Miller (United States) Volkswagen 1:00:00
 11. Jean-Louis Schlesser (France) Schlesser-Ford 1:00:06
 12. Stephane Peterhansel (France) Mitsubishi 1:00:42
 13. Hiroshi Masuoka (Japan) Mitsubishi 1:00:54
 14. Robby Gordon (United States) Hummer 1:00:59
 15. Krzystof Holowczyc (Poland) Nissan 1:01:12
 16. Marc Blazquez (Spain) Nissan 1:01:33
 17. Salvador Servia Costa (Spain) BMW 1:02:28
 18. Jun Mitsuhashi (Japan) Nissan 1:02:31
 19. Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) BMW 1:02:34
 20. Alfie Cox (South Africa) BMW 1:02:38

Stewart wins Midget race Stewart wins Midget raceTony Stewart won the USAC midget competition at Fort Wayne's Allen County Memorial Coliseum on Friday night. Dave Darland was second across the finish line, followed by Matt Estep. Stewart, who finished 11th in Thursday's race, was the fast qualifier in both races. Indy Star
Montoya wins Latin-America Driver Award Montoya wins Latin-America Driver AwardMcLaren Mercedes driver Juan Pablo Montoya has been named as the top Latin-American driver of 2005. Montoya, who won the accolade in 2002 and 2003, finished ahead of Indy 2004 winner Tony Kanaan and sports-car racer Luis Diaz in the voting – carried out by a panel of journalists and media representatives from the twelve Latin American nations.

Montoya secured 21 of the 38 votes for first place as he amassed a total of 152 points to comfortably retake the crown from Kanaan on 113 and Diaz on 65.

Felipe Massa was the only other F1 driver to make it into the top ten, as he took tenth place on five points, just ahead of Rubens Barrichello – the man he will replace at Ferrari – who finished in a tie of eleventh place with four points.
F1 race third best in TV data F1 race third best in TV dataUPDATE This TSN.ca article has more info about this news. The 2005 Canadian Grand Prix was the most watched Formula One race this season, according to figures released by global media communications firm Initiative.

The race, held at Montreal's Gilles Villeneuve Circuit, was watched by 53-million viewers worldwide, making it the third most watched sporting event in the world behind only the Super Bowl and UEFA Champions League Final.

Initiative says Super Bowl XXXIX between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles was watched by 93-million people worldwide, although most of them were in North America. Seventy-three million people tuned in to watch Liverpool defeat AC Milan in a shootout to win the Champions League.

The Montreal F1 race outdrew the 100-metre final of the World Athletics Championships, the NBA Finals, World Series and the Tour de France in 2005.

The Spanish Grand Prix was the second-most viewed F1 race with just over 49.6-million, followed closely by San Marino, Brazil and Monaco rounding out the top five.

The U.S. Grand Prix, which featured the Michelin tire fiasco, ranked 13th out of 19 races while two of the sports relatively new races, Bahrain and China, ranked in the bottom five in terms of viewing figures. The Japanese Grand Prix drew the lowest audience at just over 24.5-million viewers (all because of the time of day they were broadcast, i.e. middle of the night for most of the world).

Overall, viewing figures for Formula One were up three percent compared to 2004, however, the increase was attributed to the addition of a 19th race this past season. Viewing figures per race were said to be down three percent.

12/29/05 A formula one grand prix attracted the third-highest global television audience in 2005.

Beaten only by the American Super Bowl and the UEFA Champions League (football) final, June's Canadian grand prix at Montreal drew 51 million viewers.

93 million tuned in to the Super Bowl, and 73 million switched on to the Liverpool-AC Milan match, media buying and planning firm Initiative said in a report.

''I would wager that in Europe people would be a little bit surprised that the Super Bowl is number one because it draws its audience from only one market,'' Initiative analyst Kevin Alavy told Reuters.

By more than a multiple of two, however, the grand prix outpaced the World Athletics' 100 meter final, the NBA final, baseball World Series and the Tour de France.

Meanwhile, the 2006 football World Cup is expected to beat even the 'Super Bowl' in next year's television data.

Stewart's Indy Win is Top NASCAR Story of 2005 Stewart's Indy Win is Top NASCAR Story of 2005DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – He won a race, hugged his family, climbed a fence and kissed some bricks – and in the process fulfilled a lifetime dream of winning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In a result that should surprise no one, motorsports media from around the world have voted Tony Stewart’s victory in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard as NASCAR’s top story of the 2005 season, via several weeks of on-line voting on NASCARMEDIA.com, the sanctioning body’s media site.
Stewart also produced the season’s third-best story, according to the vote – his capturing the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, in the season’s final race.
In between those Stewart stories, at No.2, was Carl Edwards’ March weekend sweep of both the NASCAR Busch Series race and the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a 1-2 punch that propelled Edwards into championship contention in both series.
Media members were given a list of 10 stories and asked to rank that list. Ten points were awarded for a first-place vote, nine for a second-place vote, etc. The Stewart win at Indy accumulated a total of 873 points, 560 coming from 56 first-place votes. Edwards’ sweep added up to 679. (A total of 99 media members participated.)
Following are the rest of the top 10 stories, according to the final vote tally.
  • No. 4 – Greg Biffle finishing second in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup points, and having the most series wins.
  • No. 5 – Jeff Gordon winning the Daytona 500 for the third time.
  • No. 6 – The NASCAR Busch Series hosting its historic first race in Mexico City.
  • No. 7 – Ted Musgrave winning his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship and becoming the oldest national series champion in NASCAR history.
  • No. 8 – Martin Truex Jr. repeating as NASCAR Busch Series champion.
  • No. 9 – Raybestos Rookie of the Year Kyle Busch winning two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup events.
  • No. 10 – Kasey Kahne finally getting his elusive first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory, in the spring race at Richmond International Raceway. NASCAR PR
Petty to run marathon Petty to run marathonKyle Petty, a 26-year NASCAR veteran and son of racing legend Richard Petty, has decided to trade his stockcar tires for a pair of running shoes.  An avid runner, Petty will run in the 2006 Walt Disney World Marathon on Jan. 8.

Petty ran the Las Vegas Marathon last January, his first, as part of a fundraising effort for his family’s Victory Junction Gang charity.  Running alongside fellow NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip, he finished in a time of four hours and 16 minutes.

The Petty name is already quite familiar with the Walt Disney World Resort.  The Richard Petty Driving Experience at Walt Disney World Speedway has experienced phenomenal growth since its inception in February 1997. Offering race fans and adventure-seekers the ultimate thrill of riding in or driving a race car around the one-mile tri-oval speedway, guests can experience the "real thing!"
Located in several cities throughout the United States, RPDE is utilized not only as a gift by the consumer, but also as a promotional tool for retailers and incentive reward for corporate groups. Many celebrities, such as Dan Marino, Michael J. Fox, Travis Tritt and many others, have also enjoyed the Richard Petty Driving Experience. NASCAR PR

Racing News
EMPA names HOF and Drivers of the Year EMPA names HOF and Drivers of the YearWhen the Eastern Motorsport Press Association holds its annual convention at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center in Trevose, PA at the end of January seven new names will be entered in the EMPA Hall of Fame. During the same convention, attended by more than 100 professional media that cover the sport on a regular basis, NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart will receive the Al Holbert Memorial/EMPA Driver of the Year award for the third time and sprint car racing star Fred Rahmer will accept the Richie Evans Memorial/EMPA Northeast Driver of the Year award. Bobby Allen, winner of more than 251 sprint car races at more than 15 different speedways with a variety of organizations, will top the list of racers being inducted into the Hall of Fame. One of the all-time greats of Modified stock car racing Buzzie Reutimann [David's father] will be inducted along with one of the all-time great Modified car owners Dick Cozze; outstanding Dirt Modified car owner Joe Bullock; ten-time NHRA Pro Stock World Champion Bob Glidden; three time Cup champion Darrell Waltrip and Al Hamilton who has owned sprint cars that have won more than 400 features driven by numerous drivers. Special awards presented during the three day convention set for January 27-29th include a President's Award to six time American Racing Drivers Club champion Ray Bull; a one time EMPA Outstanding Achievement Award to former head of N.J. Motor Vehicles Motorsports Division Capt. John Wyckoff plus the T.Wayne Robertson Newsmaker of the Year Award to Indy Racing League star Danica Patrick and veteran Nextel Cup racer Morgan Shepherd will receive the Junie Donlavey Spirit of the Sport Award. Other awards, to be announced at the convention, will include the Frank Blunk Memorial Award to an outstanding journalist, the Ace Lane Memorial Award to an outstanding photographer and the Art McHugh Memorial Award presented to an individual who works behind the scenes for the good of the EMPA organization. Those planning to attend must make their intentions known before January 15th to Ernie Saxton at 215.752.7797. Motorsports Sponsorship Marketing News
Schuey confident about 2007 Schuey confident about 2007"The best moments on the Formula One track for me in a long time were the tests at Jerez just before Christmas - at last I was able to feel content when I got out of the car afterwards," seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher said on his RTL run website.

Having run the development Ferrari just ahead of the Christmas break, Schumacher is confident that the team will be more competitive than it was in 2005.

"It's not looking too bad, to phrase it carefully. Or, to phrase it a little less careful: there are many things pointing in a good direction," Schumacher continued. "I was quite satisfied during testing at Jerez, even though it is of course way too soon to predict anything, because the configuration of the cars was not comparable. But the two most important new rules for next season shouldn't put us at a disadvantage. As I said, the transition to the V8 engine seems to have worked well for us, the last tests were looking good."

"The lads have been working hard over the winter, at the factory, the test-team, everyone at Bridgestone and all our other partners, and that has paid off in the progress we've made. I would like to thank everyone for that, because this attitude is not something to be taken for granted, especially after a difficult season like this. But most of all I see the same fighting spirit that I feel. We're all on the same page: we want to play a major role in the fight for the title next year."

Symonds wants Alonso at 100% all year Symonds wants Alonso at 100% all yearRenault’s engineering director Pat Symonds is hoping that the 2006 season will see Fernando Alonso drive at 100% all season instead of collecting points, which he did on many an occasion in 2005 to ensure the championship.

"I think what we saw in leading up to Brazil was the conservatism that would ensure his championship. What we saw after Brazil was the real Fernando. What I want to see next year is the real Fernando throughout the year, irrespective of championship positions. That is something I hope he has learned from this year,” Symonds told Autosport. “Now in saying that I am not implying that he did anything wrong, he did exactly what was required, but I think sometimes to defend you need to attack. And I think that is the one lesson that I hope we have all learned from this season, that irrespective of championship positions we just keep going for the wins."

"When a driver wins his first race, it appears and statistically it is shown, that it becomes easier to win after that. And I am sure that is a mental barrier that they break through - and I am sure it is the same with the championship. Fernando looks very calm and he looks like the same guy who started driving for us a few years ago, but deep down inside he knows he can do it,” he said.

"I would not be surprised if he does not have the same objectives that I have - to do it again is more important than doing it the first time. Doing it the first time of course it is great, but a number of circumstances can help lead to you winning. To do it again and to do it consistently shows real class and skill and that is certainly the way I approach it. I think he can go forward from here with the confidence to do it, which makes it so much easier and I suspect even more willing to do it."

Why Intel is in F1 Why Intel is in F1Intel, the world's biggest chipmaker, will launch a major rebranding shortly. The phrase "Intel Inside" is to be dropped and the new motto will be "Leap Ahead". The company will also be changing its corporate logo. This will feature a swirl around the company name and the disappearance of the lowered "e". The aim of all this is to change the perceptions about the company as it moves from being a PC chip supplier to other areas of technology. The details of a new marketing campaign, which will include the F1 deal with BMW, will be revealed at the forthcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Grandprix.com

To the right is the new logo.  Click on it for a depiction of all the variations Intel will use.

Intel, based in Santa Clara, also is announcing that its next-generation processors for mobile computers will be called "Core" rather than "Pentium M." Processors with a single computing engine will be known as "Core Solo," while chips with two engines will be called "Core Duo."

Eventually, it's expected Intel will completely retire the Pentium brand that was introduced in 1993.

The company's logo will also include a tag line, "Leap ahead." It's "a simple expression that declares who we are and what we do," said Kim, who joined Intel last year from Samsung.

The shift toward platform technologies started in 2003, when Centrino technology — consisting of an Intel microprocessor, chipset and communications chips tuned for wireless computing — was launched.

[Editor's Note:  As we rumored long ago, Intel is expected to have some involvement with Champ Car in 2006.  As rival chip maker AMD has made major inroads into the consumer market, Intel finds itself faced with having to market more directly to consumers than ever before.  For a fraction of the cost their F1 program is costing them, Intel could be a series sponsor in Champ Car.  However, because of the split in open wheel racing in the USA, companies are being approached by factions from both sides of the war and many times decide to stay away and go elsewhere to avoid the politics and the confusion.  This is the primary reason why the continuation of the Champ Car/IRL split is so destructive.]

TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday (New Year’s Day) USA TV reminders for Sunday (New Year’s Day)
'Stroker Ace' (1983)
12:30 a.m.-2:30 a.m. ET, SPEED
'A Man and a Woman' (1966)
2:30 a.m.-5:00 a.m. ET, SPEED
Mid-Ohio (9/25/05)
Grand Touring 2
1:00 p.m.-2:00 pm. ET, SPEED
Ensenada-Baja, CA, Mexico
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET, OLN
Portugal to Dakar (12/31/05)
Dakar Rally Highlights will be on every day at the
    same time from January 1 through January 15. 
4:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET, OLN

For a complete listing of Sunday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com and Race Fan TV.

Jeff Gordon early favorite to win Daytona 500 Jeff Gordon early favorite to win Daytona 500DAYTONA BEACH, FL, - As NASCAR fans count down the weeks to the start of the 2006 season, Sportsbook.com lists Jeff Gordon as the early favorite to repeat his winning performance from last year's Daytona 500. Tied with Gordon is reigning NASCAR champion Tony Stewart, both with odds of 9- 2. The top five is rounded out by Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5-1), Jimmie Johnson (8- 1) and Martin Truex Jr. (12-1).  Full odds for the Daytona 500 include:

 Driver: Odds
Jeff Gordon: 9-2
Tony Stewart: 9-2
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 5-1
Jimmie Johnson: 8-1
Martin Truex Jr.: 12-1
Kyle Busch: 15-1
Jamie McMurray: 18-1
Brian Vickers: 20-1
Kurt Busch: 20-1
Carl Edwards: 25-1
Greg Biffle: 25-1
Matt Kenseth: 25-1
Ryan Newman: 25-1
Dale Jarrett: 30-1
Kasey Kahne: 30-1
Kevin Harvick: 30-1
Elliott Sadler: 35-1
Jeremy Mayfield: 40-1
Joe Nemechek: 40-1
Michael Waltrip: 40-1
Scott Riggs: 40-1
Casey Mears: 50-1
Jeff Burton: 50-1
Ken Schrader: 50-1
Bobby Labonte: 100-1
Clint Bowyer: 100-1
Denny Hamlin: 100-1
JJ Yelly: 100-1
Reed Sorenson: 100-1
David Stremme: 200-1
Travis Kvapil: 200-1
:Any Other Driver: 25-1

BMW expanding Sauber facilities BMW expanding Sauber facilitiesBMW is in the process of adding 100 new staff members to the team at Sauber headquarters in Hinwil, Switzerland. These will be mainly engineering staff. In order to house the new staff the team is renting office space in the town but work will soon begin on a new building which will house the expanded team by 2007.

BMW F1 chief Mario Theissen says that the team has a perfect wind tunnel but that it needs to expand its laboratories, testing rigs and assembly areas as the factory, once one of the best in F1, is now small compared to many of the others.

The new building is being built alongside the existing factory and has been designed to integrate with the current facilities. Grandprix.com

Blast from the past: Argentina Blast from the past: ArgentinaBack in 1971 USAC ran an Indy Car race on the 2.75-mile oval in Santa Fe, Argentina called Circuito de Rafaela.  This webpage has some photos and articles from the event.  Imagine racing today on an oval with those guiderails.
Dakar Stage 6: Mitsubishi gets first win of ’06 Dakar Stage 6: Mitsubishi gets first win of ’06
Track News
Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch Expands Track and Program Offerings Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch Expands Track and Program OfferingsPahrump, NV - Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch home of the Spring Mountain Advanced Driving School and race car importer/distributor Radical West Racing has expanded their existing 2.2 mile 10 turn track to include an additional 1.5 miles and ten corners making for a 3.7 mile road course with as many as 18 possible different configurations.   The new West Track, also known as the Radical Loop, was designed specifically with the Radical race cars in mind.  The track expansion consists of off camber and banked turns as well as an elevation dip aptly named “The Drop.”  

Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch has also added a 5000 square foot building to house the Corvette advanced driving school and host corporate events and plans to break ground on a new 8000 square foot facility which will be the home of Radical West Racing. 

The continued success of the Spring Mountain Advanced Driving School had given rise for the need of additional track space.  “The Corvette programs have become so successful that they monopolized most of the available track time on the original 2.2 mile course.  The need was there to develop a new track to expand our corporate events business, offer track rental to our existing clients, and have a dedicated course to run the Radical race cars,” said Dave Petrie, general manager.  “We are very excited for what 2006 has in store.”

About Spring Mountain Motorsports:  Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch and Spring Mountain Advanced Driving School are owned and operated by John Morris and Brad Rambo.  Located just 45 minutes from Las Vegas, Nevada, Spring Mountain Motorsports provides cutting edge Corvette performance driving and corporate entertainment programs as well as sales, distribution, driving instruction, and arrive/drive track events in Radical race cars.

Elliott to drive for MB2 at Daytona Elliott to drive for MB2 at DaytonaMB2 Motorsports announced that its No. 36 entry for the Daytona 500 (Feb. 19) will be driven by Bill Elliott, a two-time winner of NASCAR’s biggest race.

Elliott will also drive the MB2-built No. 36 Chevrolet in the Feb. 11th Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, an invitational race for 2005 pole winners and former Shootout champions. Elliott earned his automatic berth as a result of winning the Shootout in 1987. 

Frank Stoddard will serve as Elliott's crew chief for both races and also oversee Elliott’s Daytona test session next week (Jan. 9-11).

"MB2 has a top-notch superspeedway program and I am looking forward to being part of it," said Elliott, who will team with MB2's full-time drivers Sterling Marlin and Joe Nemechek at Daytona. "Both Sterling and Joe are good on the big tracks and having them as teammates gives us added potential.”

Elliott, the 1988 NASCAR Cup champion, has run a limited schedule the past two years. His last Daytona 500 appearance was in 2003.

"Daytona is a special place and the 500 is a special race," noted Elliott. "I haven't reached the point where I am content to watch this race on television. I would rather be part of the action – it’s the big show."

A 16-time winner of NASCAR’s most popular driver award, Elliott has competed in 25 Daytona 500 races. Along with his two wins from the pole in 1985 and 1987, his Daytona 500 record includes nine top fives, 14 top 10s and four poles. He shares the record for most Daytona 500 poles with Buddy Baker and Cale Yarborough.

“We’re thrilled that Bill will be joining us – he brings a wealth of superspeedway experience to our MB2 Daytona 500 lineup,” said Jay Frye, MB2’s CEO and general manager. “The combination of Bill, Joe (Nemechek) and Sterling (Marlin) on the same team at a restrictor-plate venue brings plenty of excitement and confidence to our entire organization.”

Frye also said that a sponsor for the No. 36 Chevy during Daytona Speedweeks will be announced at a later date.

Ganassi team unveils Rolex lineup Ganassi team unveils Rolex lineupChip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced today a two-car effort for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series’ 44th running of the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona, featuring six drivers representing championships each year dating back to 2003. Scott Pruett, Luis Diaz and Max Papis will unite for the twice-round-the-clock classic to form the driver lineup for the no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley, while CGR Team Target IndyCar pilots Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon join NASCAR NEXTEL Cup stablemate Casey Mears in the no.02 Target Daytona Prototype.

The Ganassi roster is an impressive group of North American motor racing Championship talent, representing the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Championships (Wheldon), the 2004 Daytona Prototype Team and Driver Championships (Pruett and Papis), and the 2003 IndyCar Series titlist (Dixon).

In all, the sextet boasts three championships, 20 wins and 24 poles combined over the past three seasons in Grand American, IRL and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competition.

“I think what you have is a lineup representative of what this team strives for each year, in each series – and that is contending for championships,” said Ganassi of his Rolex Series entries. “We know that Scott and Luis can get the job done, and bringing Max back for this is another bonus for the team. We have, in the past, utilized our drivers from other series to expand our Rolex 24 program, and Casey, Scott and Dan will complement the no.01 car and provide us an excellent chance of winning this race.” zzzz

Daytona Prototype team anchorman Scott Pruett returns to the Rolex 24 in the familiar no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley with 2005 co-driver Luis Diaz of Mexico. The duo, which claimed Rolex Series Runner Up honors in last season’s championship battle, is joined by Pruett’s former CompUSA teammate Max Papis, who together romped through Daytona Prototype grids with 11 poles and four wins en route to the 2004 Team and Driver Championships.

Diaz rejoins two-time defending 24 hour race polesitter Pruett in handling the driving responsibilities for the no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley entry after steering the team’s 500hp Daytona Prototype to three wins and four poles last season. The Mexico City native will be making his second Rolex 24 start after piloting alongside Pruett for a top-10 showing in 2005.

Completing the lineup for the no.01 machine will be the likeable, well-traveled racer Max Papis. No stranger to the Chip Ganassi Racing family, the Italian dubbed “Mad Max” will re-up with former teammates Pruett and Diaz hoping to return to the form that brought the team the 2004 Rolex Series Championship hardware. Papis re-joins the CGR driver lineup for the Rolex 24 looking to duplicate his overall win in 2002 and SR class win in 2000 at DIS.

Team Target returns to Rolex Series action with the no.02 Daytona Prototype, making its second-straight Rolex 24 start with the Target Bull’s-eye logo prominently displayed throughout the car’s eye-catching paint scheme.

The Target car made its Grand American debut last season at the Rolex 24, finishing sixth overall at the hands of its trio of drivers (Dixon, Mears and Darren Manning). This year, 2003 IndyCar Champion Dixon and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series ace Mears again return to the Rolex Series fray in the Target machine, bringing with them recently-acquired IndyCar Series steamroller Dan Wheldon. Often seen taking checkered flags and rarely looking in his rearview mirror, the reigning IRL and Indianapolis 500 champ is chomping at the bit to bring his new team owner home another one of the coveted “big races” in all of motorsports.

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Rolex 24 At Daytona Driver Quoteboard

SCOTT PRUETT (no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley) “We had some issues last year here that prevented us from showing how competitive the CompUSA car really was. The Ganassi team has proven it can win poles, races and championships in the Rolex Series, but we still have some unfinished business in the form of this classic 24 hour endurance race. Bringing Max in for the race is a huge boost for the team. All the guys know him and he knows how to wheel a Daytona Prototype around the track, that’s for sure. I’m looking forward to getting started and putting the CompUSA car in the winner’s circle. Hopefully the third time is a charm. ”

MAX PAPIS (no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley) “I can’t tell you how excited I am to be back with Chip Ganassi Racing, Scott Pruett and all the guys for this very special race. I’ve missed a lot of my friends over there the past season, and I expect Scott and I to pick up where we left off after winning the championship in Fontana in 2004. We know that we are going to face a hard challenge and we're going to have to compete against people that have a great history in racing. It’s really all I can think about right now…Champ Car champions, IndyCar champions, Indy 500 champions. All of this motivation is just adding to the excitement to go racing.”

LUIS DIAZ (no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley) “I anticipate having a strong team for the race this year. I was in the team’s second CompUSA car in 2004, so I didn’t have a chance to work directly with Max during that time. We shared information as a team through our engineers, and I think Max is a perfect fit for the team. He knows us, and we know him. He’s a champion and knows how to win with this team. Working with Scott and Max will be great. What more can you ask for in terms of teammates? These guys are winners.”

SCOTT DIXON (no.02 Target Riley) “My first Rolex 24 race was quite the experience in 2004, and I think it’ll be great to have another year of experience coming back this year. It’s a cool race that represents the best of a number of racing disciplines. This is going to be a really fun event, but it’s also going to be ultra competitive out there.”

DAN WHELDON (no.02 Target Riley) “I ran this race last year for the first time with another team and had a blast. But this year it will be different. Anytime you run in one of Chip Ganassi’s cars, you expect to run up front. This time around at the Rolex 24, I have two strong teammates in Scott Dixon and Casey Mears. But actually I have five great teammates if you take into consideration the no.01 car and their experienced driver lineup. These guys all know how to win races, and I look forward to racing with all of them at the end of the month in Daytona.”

CASEY MEARS (no.02 Target Riley) “Getting another shot at a race like the Rolex 24 is a great opportunity for me. It’s an honor to get asked back to join the Target IndyCar drivers, and a win in this one looks great on anyone’s racing resume. I think last year there were over 100 championships represented, and the road racing element is something I’m very familiar with. I’d like nothing more than to get this one under my belt for Chip Ganassi Racing.”

New McLaren debut date set New McLaren debut date setWith the start of the 2006 season just over three months away the F1 teams are busy working on their new technical package. McLaren Mercedes came close to Championship success last year and now they want to go one better. McLaren Racing MD Jonathan Neale discusses the overall development program of the MP4-21.

What is your specific role within the MP4-21 project?
"As Managing Director, I am ultimately responsible for the performance of McLaren Racing; I have to make sure we deliver. My specific role with MP4-21 is to make sure we have a clear set of targets and goals for the car; this doesn’t mean that I can write the specification for the car but that I make sure one is created, which we all believe is competitive, within the McLaren Racing chief engineers system."

"I'm also in charge of making sure the resource is applied correctly and the program is in place to achieve the technical specification. We need to be goal driven in terms of timescale, when do the critical decisions have to be made, on what basis we are going to make them and who makes those decisions."

How has on track testing been progressing?
"On track testing at this time of year is very important to us. We have been running an interim car, which is the 2005 chassis fitted with a version of the Mercedes-Benz V8 engine. Our key focus has been engine development and cooling systems work, alongside significant tire evaluation with Michelin, with reference the change back from tires that run a race distance to tires that operate for a series of short sprints. The program is progressing well, however it is early days, and the specification of the chassis and the engine is changing a lot at the moment as we gather more intelligence." zzzz
"Looking more specifically at on-track work, the test that began on Tuesday 13th December in Jerez, there were a number of suspension items, body work and R&D concepts that we were working on with the interim car, which are very relevant to the baseline specification for MP4-21. After the Jerez test, work continued apace at the McLaren Technology Centre, with Manufacturing and Car Assembly teams having just one and a half days off over the Christmas holiday, along with members of the design team and senior management. Track testing will recommence next Wednesday, 11th January in Jerez."

When did the team first start testing components for MP4-21?
"The reality is that because we are developing and testing general concepts, and specific components, on a continuous basis it is not possible to state a definitive date. The key milestone in the testing would be in September when we debuted the V8 engine at Silverstone."

When do you expect MP4-21 to debut on track?
"Presently, MP4-21 is scheduled to go on track mid-late January, however as always this is subject to change as we finalize the baseline specification."

What is the overall schedule for the testing program in the build-up to Bahrain?
"Following the pre-Christmas tests, we are currently planning to test every available week in the run-up to the Bahrain Grand Prix starting in week two in Jerez. Once the new car has been released, our primary focus will be durability testing, proving the software, the systems and the 11,500 car components, 90% of which have changed from MP4-20. Then we will start to look at phasing in upgrade packages onto the car. For example the aerodynamic specification was set in late October / early November time and since then the aero team has been working on a series of performance upgrades to bring on line and this will take place before the cars leave for the first Grand Prix in Bahrain and then continue throughout the season." Source McLaren Mercedes

Räikkönen early favorite to win '06 title Räikkönen early favorite to win '06 titleUK site betandwin.com has released odds on the coming F1 driver's championship. The list to take the win looks like this:

Kimi Räikkönen: 2.6:1
Michael Schumacher: 3:1
Fernando Alonso: 5:1
Juan Pablo Montoya: 5.5:1
Jenson Button: 20:1
Felipe Massa: 25:1
Ralf Schumacher: 25:1
Jarno Trulli: 25:1
Rubens Barrichello: 35:1
Mark Webber: 40:1
Giancarlo Fisichella: 40:1
David Coulthard: 50:1
Nick Heidfeld: 50:1
Jacques Villeneuve: 80:1
Nico Rosberg: 100:1

There are quite a few interesting points to note here - especially some teammate comparisons.

New Camp Car Autocourse book available New Camp Car Autocourse book availableWhen Champ Car enthusiasts look back at the 2005-2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season many notable moments will come to mind such as: Sebastien Bourdais winning his second consecutive Champ Car title, successful inaugural events in both Edmonton and San Jose, the bitter rivalry that ensued between Bourdais and Paul Tracy, and the unveiling of the 2007 technical package.  If you were one of the nearly 2,000,000 fans to attend a Champ Car event in 2005 or followed the action on NBC, CBS or Speed - this book will allow fans to relive all of these unforgettable moments in vivid detail.

In its 13th year of publication the 2005-2006 Champ Car Autocourse Yearbook chronicles each of the year's three-day festivals of speed - which kicked off with the 2005 season with the 31st Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to Justin Wilson’s victory in Mexico City. Edited by Autocourse veteran Jeremy Shaw, the yearbook consists of race-by-race reviews, driver analysis, and the stories that made the 2005-2006 Champ Car season memorable. The yearbook also features vivacious pictures from LAT Photographic, which highlights the documentation of the events and people that made headlines in 2005.

Champ Car fans can now purchase the collectible 160 page yearbook by visiting our Racing Store (see menu choice on our main menu above) and using the 10% AutoRacing1.com discount code of SGAR52.

Dubai ruler dies Dubai ruler diesSheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and the Emir of Dubai has died. He will be replaced as ruler of Dubai by his brother Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. The family, including two other brothers: Sheikh Hamdan and Sheikh Ahmed have been responsible for building up Dubai both as a business and a sporting centre.

Sheikh Mohammed, the new ruler, is considered to be the major force in the development and is credited with projects such as The Palm, a $4 billion development reclaimed from the sea; the Burj Al Arab hotel and as the man behind the Dubai World Cup, the world's richest horse race. His son Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the man who is behind the development of the Dubai Autodrome.

The founder of the A1 Grand Prix series is Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum, the son of Sheikh Hasher al Maktoum bin Maktoum , Director of Dubai Information Department who is a cousin of the new Emir.

While all of the family connections are very complicated, it is fair to say that the new Emir will probably have a more open view to hosting a Grand Prix in Dubai. More at Grandprix.com

Renault seeking a strong start Renault seeking a strong startUPDATE Reigning world champion Renault's new R26 racer will roar into life at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain next Tuesday. Giancarlo Fisichella, drivers' title holder Fernando Alonso's continuing teammate, will do the honors, making Enstone-based Renault the third - after Toyota and Red Bull - to get a complete 2006 car running.

Shortly after the Jerez roll-out, a second R26 will be ready to join the winter test program.

A Renault team news release suggested that the new car boasts 'daring new bodywork shapes'.

Engineering director Pat Symonds, meanwhile, hinted that the early debut is all about getting off to the same kind of brilliant start that the team achieved last year.

''The first win buoys the whole team,'' said the Briton, ''and confidence grows from there.''

01/04/06 2006 may only be four days old, but the Formula One teams have been planning for the coming season for as long as eighteen months. Defending Champions Renault may not have run their new 2.4 liter V8 engine on track yet, but just before Christmas the RS26 was fired up in the back of the Renault chassis for the first time.

Since then the new R26 chassis has been put through its paces on the dynamic test rig at Enstone, undergoing preliminary checks and set-up work and next Tuesday the team test the new car at Jerez for the first time with Giancarlo Fisichella behind the wheel.

With two months of testing scheduled before the season-opener in Bahrain, Renault aims to ensure the package is both reliable and competitive. In 2005, the early races allowed the team to build a crucial platform in the race for the world championship. The aim will be to repeat that feat in 2006.

“Those early races really set the scene for the year,” Pat Symonds sated. “Each race may be worth ten points in absolute, terms, but that ignores the human component. The first win buoys the whole team, and confidence grows from there. The maths may say the early races have the same importance as any other, but in terms of the team’s self-esteem, I would say they are worth half as much again.” Renault

Button's 'lack of pace' attacked by Irvine Button's 'lack of pace' attacked by Irvine(GMMf1NET)  Controversial former grand prix driver Eddie Irvine has launched an attack on what he describes as Jenson Button's 'lack of pace'.

The Ulsterman, who hung up his Jaguar helmet at the end of 2002, told Motorsport News that 25-year-old JB had been 'burned off' by every teammate he's faced, including Ralf Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella and Jarno Trulli.

''Jenson has been beaten by all of them apart from Takuma Sato and Jacques Villeneuve,'' Irvine, who also raced for Ferrari and Jordan, said.

He added: ''I'd employ Jenson as a No.2 driver.  I just worry about his pace because Trulli killed him and Fisichella killed him.''

Honda 'better' than Ferrari - Rubens Honda 'better' than Ferrari - Rubens(GMMf1NET)  On the cusp of his first Honda test, Brazil's Rubens Barrichello has argued that it is a 'better' team than Ferrari.

The 33-year-old, who spent six years as Michael Schumacher's scarlet clad deputy, was photographed in his new white and red kit beaming from ear to ear.

'Rubinho' says he left multiple world championship-winning Ferrari because he finally spotted a worthy successor in pitlane.

''I never left Ferrari because I thought there was nowhere better,'' Rubens told the Italian-language sports 'paper Gazzetta dello Sport.

He continued: ''But I am now happy to be joining a new team -- at this moment it is better than the red one.''

JV looking forward to working with Heidfeld JV looking forward to working with HeidfeldBMW SauberF1’s Jacques Villeneuve (right) is confident of experiencing a more successful 2006 season and is looking forward to working alongside new teammate Nick Heidfeld.  

“I haven’t really had any previous contact with Nick apart from the usual business at the track,” he said on the team’s official website. “But I like Nick’s personality and I think that he is a good driver too. He has been quite impressive on a few occasions so I am looking forward to working with him.”

“It’s important to be realistic and to consider where we are starting from,” he added. “Sauber finished eighth in the 2005 Constructors Championship so there is a long way to go. I am sure we can do considerably better, but it will take time. The important thing is to see and upward trend."

'Schu can be champ again' 'Schu can be champ again'(GMMf1NET) Nick Fry (right) does not agree that seven time world champion Michael Schumacher has already worn his last title crown.

Honda's F1 team principal disagrees with views like that of 1982 champion Keke Rosberg, who reckon the Ferrari driver's era has been passed to younger rivals like Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso.

''He can be champion again, unfortunately,'' Fry smiled to F1 Racing magazine.

''Michael hasn't lost any of his talent, and Ferrari are a great team who just happened to have a poor year. It would be foolish to underestimate either of them.''

Fry's view is one that is shared by many in pitlane, although there is also a number who agree with Rosberg that F1 has seen Schumacher's finest days.

The signs, certainly, do tip in the 37-year-old German's favor. After all, he utterly dominated just a year ago, and the tire rules are set to return this year to those that seemed to favor Ferrari's supplier, Bridgestone, in season '04.

But it remains the case that Schumacher's latest racer, the F2005, was good enough to win only the ill-fated US grand prix -- where his rivals were his teammate and a couple of Jordans and Minardis.

''Of course Michael still has it in him,'' fellow driver David Coulthard told the magazine.

The Scot, 34, added: ''It's really just a question of whether the design team at Ferrari will give him a package at least the equal of the next best on the grid.''

McLaren bid farewell to Wurz McLaren bid farewell to Wurz(GMMf1NET)  Woking based grand prix team McLaren has offered a fond farewell message to long time test driver Alexander Wurz.

The lanky Austrian, 31, has switched to Williams' 'Friday' role after - reportedly - Ron Dennis-led McLaren preferred the combination of Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett.

Wurz, who incidentally co-owns a mountain bike team, also negotiated with BMW Sauber, but plumped for Sir Frank Williams' squad because it probably offered him a contract 'option' to slide into a '07 race cockpit.

''Everybody at Team McLaren Mercedes would like to thank Alex for his contribution over the past five years,'' read the message on the team's official website, ''and wish him all the best for the future.''

Wurz raced in 53 grands prix, scoring one podium for Benetton in his rookie season (1997) and another - in the rapid MP4-20 - while filling in for the injured Juan Pablo Montoya at Imola last year.

New Honda 'looks good' - Barrichello New Honda 'looks good' - Barrichello(GMMf1NET)  Rubens Barrichello says he is looking forward to his first test as a works Honda driver next week.  The Brazilian, 33, won nine races in a six year career for Ferrari, during which time teammate Michael Schumacher only failed to win the F1 title once.

Now, the last days of his Maranello-signed contract finally past, 33-year-old 'Rubinho' - who has also driven for Jordan and Stewart - aims to take on 2006 cohort Jenson Button with a multi-season deal.

Referring to his maiden Jerez (Spain) run, Barrichello said: ''I hope to cover as many kilometres as possible, to make comparisons and be completely prepared.''

He also told La Gazzetta dello Sport that what he has seen of the new 'RA106' Honda racer 'seems good'.

Audi R10 to debut in LA Audi R10 to debut in LAThe Audi R10 will celebrate its premiere in the USA two-and-a-half months before its race debut in Sebring (Florida) on 18 March. The first sportscar in history with a diesel power unit, which aims for overall victory at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans, was one of the attractions during the "Audi Designers´ Tuesday”. Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich and Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen unveiled the R10, which is powered by a 650 hp V12 TDI-engine, to the prominent people gathered among the 350 guests invited before the opening of the Los Angeles Motor Show.
"Audi tries to do something with the R10 which no other manufacturer has attempted in motorsport,” explained Dr Ullrich during an interview with presenter Désriée Nosbusch. "The diesel project is the greatest challenge ever to have been given to Audi Sport.”
Tom Kristensen, who was recently voted as "Sports Personality of the Year” in his homeland Denmark for the second time, is the first of a total of six drivers, who will compete in Sebring and Le Mans with the Audi R10, to be confirmed. The 38-year old celebrated his seventh victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 2005 and is, as a result, the most successful Le Mans driver in its history. zzzz
"It was very important for us to be able to continue this long and successful partnership, particularly in such a demanding project,” said Dr Ullrich. "The R10 project is a very special challenge for which the best drivers are required – and Tom is without a shadow of a doubt one of the world’s best.”
The Dane has been driving for Audi since the 2000 season. He celebrated five of his seven Le Mans victories at the wheel of the R10 predecessor, the R8. In 2002 Kristensen won the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) with the R8. Furthermore, since the beginning of the 2004 season, the Dane has been competing for Audi in the DTM, in which he finished third overall in 2005.
"I’m absolutely delighted to be a part of this fantastic team again,” explained Tom Kristensen in Los Angeles. "We won everything there was to win with the R8. This era has come to a close. Now it’s a question of turning the new R10 into a winning car. Because we are dealing with a completely new vehicle concept, everybody in the team must give their maximum. As a racing driver you can’t wish for anything better than to be involved in such a project from the very beginning.”
The R10 was flown back to Germany immediately after the presentation at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. An intensive test program is scheduled before the first race at Sebring.
Racing News
Hill and Shelby to Receive Eagle One-Shav Glick Award Hill and Shelby to Receive Eagle One-Shav Glick AwardLos Angeles, CA, -- Motor racing icons Phil Hill and Carroll Shelby have been selected co-recipients of the seventh annual Eagle One-Shav Glick Award, based on voting by a panel of national and California motorsports writers.

Presented by car-care products company Eagle One in honor of the long-time motorsports writer for the Los Angeles Times, the award will be presented to Hill and Shelby during pre-race ceremonies at the NASCAR Auto Club 500, February 26, at California Speedway.

Hill, in 1961, became the first American to win a Formula One world championship. He also won the 24 Hours of LeMans three times, the 12 Hours of Sebring three times and numerous other national and international racing events.

Shelby, who was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1992, has gained fame as a driver, designer/builder and team manager. In 1959 he won the24 Hours of LeMans and also set land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats. After health problems caused his retirement as a driver in 1960, the Cobra sports car he designed and built became the first American-conceived car to win the World Manufacturers Grand Touring Championship in 1965. As a team manager he helped Ford GT win the World Grand Touring title. Said Glick of both icons, "Hill and Shelby are both products of that era in the 1950s and 60s that has become known as the glory years of sports car racing, a time when ingenuity and industry were rewarded in the racing fraternity. Both were winners and both carried the California trademark with great success on the world racing scene."

Previous winners were Dan Gurney, Wally Parks, Parnelli Jones, Rick Mears, Les Richter and J.C. Agajanian.

Doran to carry Kodak colors Doran to carry Kodak colorsDoran Racing is pleased to announce that the Kodak EasyShare System will sponsor its DORAN JE4 Ford in the 2006 Grand American Rolex Series presented by Crown Royal.

The Lebanon, Ohio-based team is also pleased to announce that its two primary drivers for 2006 will be the driver with the most Rolex Series class victories in history, 2003 Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borcheller, and promising rookie Harrison Brix.

The car will be called the Feeds the Need/Doran Racing Kodak EasyShare DORAN JE4 Ford and it will carry the number 77.  SIRIUS Satellite Radio will be one of the entry's associate sponsors.

Feeds the Need Racing's Forest Barber will join Borcheller and Brix behind the wheel for the series' three longest races of the year, including the prestigious 44th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Jan. 26-29.

Kevin Doran, the president of Doran Enterprises, also said that the entry's fourth driver for this year's Rolex 24 will be Michel Jourdain Jr., who is most famous for his many accomplishments in the Champ Car World Series.

FIA vow to resolve engine 'equivalency' worry FIA vow to resolve engine 'equivalency' worry(GMMf1NET) F1's governing body has reportedly 'promised' to adjust the thorny issue of V10 equivalency prior to the season opener this year.

'Sources' close to the Midland-owned MF1 team say that the FIA has guaranteed that Scuderia Toro Rosso's performance-limited engine will not outpace its V8-clad rivals, according to a fan website.

The news follows reports that Silverstone-based MF1, STR's main rival in 2005 in Paul Stoddart's Minardi guise, showed in a study that the current restrictions leave the V10 with a whopping 80-100hp more grunt than the carmakers' V8s, including MF1's customer Toyota power plant.

''The FIA has promised to redress the issue prior to the start of the season,'' the team source told the 'Midland F1 Online' fan site.

''So we'll see what happens.''

Alonso no fan of tabloid press Alonso no fan of tabloid press(GMMf1NET)  Fernando Alonso is not a huge fan of the 'paparazzi' or tabloid press.  Early in 2005, en route to his first drivers' title triumph, the Spaniard switched on a television to find that an army of photographers and journalists had laid siege to his parents' house in Spain -- in the hope of catching a glimpse of the young hero.

In more recent times, newspapers and magazines have published 'spy' photos of the ace driver on a beach with a new girlfriend.

''I sometimes work 12 or 14 hours a day,'' the 24-year-old Renault driver explained to Marca, ''and then in the evening I have people trying to take a photo of me as I eat dinner.''

He said: ''Journalists, who do not know me, want an interview -- and if they don't get it, they threaten to write bad things about me.''

Dakar Day 4: Sainz wins again, Gordon falters Dakar Day 4: Sainz wins again, Gordon falters
Chinese pick McLaren Chinese pick McLarenThe Chinese website sohu.com conducted an annual online poll reviewing the 2005 Formula One season, with some very positive results for Team McLaren Mercedes with five main categories of which McLaren won four.

The Driver of the Year was awarded to Kimi Raikkonen who dominated the category with 54% of the votes while the Best Team of the Year was won by Team McLaren Mercedes with 59%. Ron Dennis won the title of Team Boss of the Year with 49% of the votes, and The Best Car of The Year was won with a staggering 73% of the votes by the McLaren MP4-21.

Finally the Japanese Grand Prix, at which Kimi started from 17th on the grid and took victory on the last lap when he passed Giancarlo Fisichella, won the Most Unforgettable Race of the Year. McLaren Mercedes

Sigalsport names Rolex 24 drivers Sigalsport names Rolex 24 driversLos Angeles, California -- Sigalsport BMW Team will campaign two BMW M3s in the GT class of the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. The first Sigalsport BMW M3 Alhadeff Motorsports entry No. 05 will be co-driven by one of the most successful drivers in Grand-American history, former Rolex Series GT champion and BMW factory driver, Bill Auberlen, and young, talented Matt Alhadeff. The second Sigalsport BMW M3 entry No. 04 will be co-driven by team owner Gene Sigal and Peter MacLeod.

Two former PTG BMW winning drivers, Tom Milner Jr. and Justin Marks, will join the dream Sigalsport BMW team at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and will co-drive the No. 05 Alhadeff Motorsports entry with Bill Auberlen and Matt Alhadeff.

Sigalsport BMW team will test additional drivers for the Rolex 24 at Daytona this week at the tests to complete the drivers' lineup for car No. 04.

Industry news
China growth continues unabated China growth continues unabatedIn case Champ Car had any doubt why Bernie Ecclestone has F1 racing in Shanghai, yet it's still just a wet dream for Champ Car - China's gross domestic product grew 9.8% for 2005 the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The statement is the first official government forecast of full-year GDP growth for 2005, which have shown that China's growing services sector plays a much larger role in the economy than previously thought. In addition, China last month raised its estimate for the total size of its economy in 2004 by 16.8%. The upward revision suggests that the world's fastest growing economy is less reliant on manufacturing and exports for growth than had previously been believed.

In other China news Hainan Airlines will offer the first non-stop flights between Boston and China, officials said. It will be the first non-stop service between China and the US for the low-cost carrier. Hainan is China's fourth-largest airline and is in the process of changing its name to Grand China Airline.

U.S. trucking giant Yellow Roadway Corp. is planning to operate its own trucks in China later this year as part of a global expansion plan. Yellow Roadway will change its name to YRC Worldwide Inc. to avoid any negative connotations. The company's global expansion comes amid cargo backups for US manufacturers and retailers in China because of unreliable trucking service there.

Finlay Motorsports Announces Driver Line Up For Rolex 24 Finlay Motorsports Announces Driver Line Up For Rolex 24MOORESVILLE, NC. --- Finlay Motorsports announced earlier today the team’s driver line up for this year’s running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Joining owner/driver Rob Finlay and Canadian sensation Michael Valiante in the No. 28 Make-A-Wish/Z-Line Designs/Air Force Reserve Ford-powered Crawford Daytona Prototype will be open wheel veterans Bryan Herta and Buddy Rice. Herta, A regular in the Indy Racing League, finished eighth in the IRL Championship picking up a win at Michigan International Speedway.

“I’m really excited to join Finlay Motorsports for the Rolex 24 at Daytona,” said Herta. “I enjoyed my experience in the race last year and look forward to getting back behind the wheel. I’m really comfortable with the driver line up and feel that we’ll be able to challenge for the victory.”

The 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner, Buddy Rice also like the team’s chances of becoming the next Rolex 24 winner. zzzz 

“Finlay Motorsports just seemed like an easy fit for me,” explained Rice. “I’ve worked with several of the guys on the team before and I’ve even raced with a few of the drivers. I was looking for a team to race with that I felt had a good shot at winning the 24 and I think this might just be that team.”

The team’s second Daytona Prototype will be driven by Grand American regulars Memo Gidley and Michael McDowell. They will be joined by another Indy Racing League standout, Alex Barron, who will be making his Rolex 24 debut behind the wheel of the No. 19 machine.

“I’m really looking forward to my first Daytona 24 hour race,” said Barron. “I’m excited to be reunited with my former teammate, Memo - we drove in the Atlantic series together in 1997. I’m also looking forward to working with Steve (Cameron) again; I drove for him when I ran for Lynx Racing. This team won the last race of the season last year and I feel that they’re definitely capable of winning the Rolex 24.”

In only its second year of competition, Finlay Motorsports has already proved that they have what it takes to challenge for the championship, scoring 11 top-five finishes, three podiums, one pole and walking away with a victory in Mexico City last season.

Finlay and Steve Cameron, President of Finlay Motorsports are extremely enthusiastic about their team’s chances of taking home the Crown Jewel of American sports car racing, the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I think that we’ve managed to put together a competitive line up,” said Cameron.

“Both cars have a realistic opportunity to challenge for the win. I’m excited to be working with drivers that have achieved so much in racing and it’s nice to have worked with them all in some stage or another.” The Rolex 24 at Daytona is scheduled for a 12 p.m. start on Saturday, January 28th and will be aired by Speedvision starting at 12 p.m. (EST). 

Michael Shank Racing Announces New Partnership Michael Shank Racing Announces New PartnershipMichael Shank Racing (MSR) is pleased to announce a new partnership has been formed to operate and manage the #6 Riley-Lexus for the 2006 season. MSR will team up with Canadian based Fusion Racing in an arrangement which will see MSR manage the day-to-day team operations while Fusion manages the business behind the scenes, including sponsorship and marketing for the team.
MSR owner Michael Shank said this type of partnership is a first for him, but he feels it will benefit the development of both organizations as it gives everyone the ability to concentrate on their areas of expertise.
“The partnership with Fusion Racing and MSR is very exciting,” said Shank. “Both groups bring certain strengths to the partnership which we see as a winning combination.”
New to the Grand American road racing scene, Fusion Racing is a Canadian company involved in many aspects of the motorsports industry such as providing sponsorship opportunities, organizing and hosting corporate hospitality events, racecar development and manufacturing and racing equipment distribution. The company’s focus is providing and managing motorsports sponsorship opportunities for Canadian companies doing business in the United States. 
Fusion Racing managing partner Dennis Bainbridge said he was impressed with the results as well as the heart behind Michael Shank Racing’s efforts last season and he is happy to have the opportunity to work with Mike Shank and his crew.
“Forming a partnership with MSR made sense for us,” said Bainbridge. “Mike puts a top quality, professional product on the track and that allows us to focus on the business side of motorsports. I feel we have a great package here and I look forward to an exciting 2006 season for the #6 car.”
Bainbridge added he had started looking at the Rolex Sports Car series in 2003 and was impressed with the rapid growth and support from the series owners to develop the series into something a lot bigger.
“In two seasons the series has seen increased team participation, sponsorships and media coverage and my team felt it was the best option for Fusion and the sponsors we are working with,” Bainbridge said. “In Canada as well as the US, we are seeing a growing interest in Grand American road racing and we are going to do our best to increase that interest on both sides of the border.”
Industry News
DaimlerChrysler sells Diesel unit DaimlerChrysler sells Diesel unitAutomaker DaimlerChrysler AG said Wednesday it is selling diesel-engine maker MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH to financial investor EQT as part of a drive to focus on its core vehicles business.  DaimlerChrysler said the two sides valued its Off-Highway business unit at $1.9 billion in U.S. dollars. Besides MTU Friedrichshafen, the sale includes the off-highway activities of the Redford Township, Mich.-based Detroit Diesel Corp.

The automaker said it expected a cash inflow of some $1.2 billion from the sale. It forecast a $355 million boost to net profit.

Sale of the unit had been widely expected. DaimlerChrysler bought out the minority shareholders of MTU Friedrichshafen in September and later said it was in talks with several potential buyers.

DaimlerChrysler shares were up 1.3 percent to close at $51.68 in Frankfurt trading.

TRG to field four Porsches at Daytona TRG to field four Porsches at DaytonaPetaluma, California --  TRG will campaign two new Porsche 997s and two 996s in the upcoming Grand American Rolex Series Presented by Crown Royal Reserve 24 Hours at Daytona.  Keeping in tradition the California based team has had a great deal of interest in its program based on their excellent track record in the series and particularly the 24 Hours.

“We have assembled a strong driver lineup in our Porsches for Daytona this year,” said Kevin Buckler, team owner.  “I really like our Porsche program this year.  We have a nice mix of guys who have won the race, with also a few first-timers and those with a lot of experience in other series.  Our Porsches have a legitimate chance at winning the GT class in three weeks, our first goal is to get all four cars across the finish line after 24 hours.  This will be our 11th Rolex 24 and last year we finished all four of GT cars in the top 10.   A bunch of these guys are close friends and I am glad to have them on board to share this incredible experience.  TRG has made a big commitment to the race and with all the stresses associated with this event, I am looking forward to racing with these guys.”  ZZZZ

#66 TRG Porsche 997
Steve Johnson 
Robert Nearn 
Cyrille Sauvage
Stephane Ortelli
The number 66 lineup features a strong driver lineup that is sure to be a threat for class honors come the morning of January 29th.  Steve Johnson and Robert Nearn will run the complete Grand Am schedule in 2006; leaning on the experience they gathered running select events in ‘05.  The duo have added sporstscar star Stephane Ortelli and open-wheel/Porsche Cup driver Cyrille Sauvage to their car for the 24.  Ortelli brings a wealth of experience including 24 hour race wins at Le Mans and three Spa 24 wins.  Sauvage is a front runner in the Porsche Cup series and sports a substantial open-wheel background.

“The 66 car is carrying our lead number by tradition”, said Kevin Buckler.  “This has to be one of the strongest lineups in the field.  My friend Steve Johnson and I talked about what it would take to win this event and we agreed to get it done. Steve drove really well last year and is very fast at Daytona-add in three more pros like Robert, Stephane and Cyrille and this is one strong program. As a little added insurance we assigned the 66 number to this car.  That number has done pretty well here so I hope to continue the tradition.  Everyone is very excited.”

#67 Porsche 997
Marc Bullock
Bohdan Kroczek 
Bill Keith 
Pat Flanagan
Dave Master – posthumously
Marc Bullock returns to TRG after making two starts in ’05 at Barber Motorsport Park and Watkins Glen.  Bohdan Kroczek had one start last year at Mont Tremblant finishing in the top 12.  Pat Flanagan brings both GT and Daytona Prototype experience to the team with seven starts last year and a best finish of fourth at California Speedway.  Bill Keith brings a strong mix of sprint and endurance racing experience in SCCA, IMSA and HSR.  Dave Master, long time TRG driver, was slated to run the 24 Hour again this year.  Dave died suddenly on December 12th of a heart attack.  The team will pay tribute to Dave by having him be the fifth driver of the #67 all month.

#68 Porsche 996
Jim Pace 
Jim Lowe  
Revere Greist 
Jim Pace will quarterback the number 68 entry.  Jim is a former winner of the Daytona 24 Hours overall in 1996.  Jim Lowe will be making his first Grand Am start and has gained his racing experience in several Skip Barber Racing Series events.  Revere Greist is the 2004 Skip Barber Midwest series champion.  The 68 entry carries sponsors Bernie Robbins Fine Jewelry, Neuromonitoring Technologies, Inc, Surgical Reimbursement Specialists, Barry Feldscher and Associates - Healthcare Managers and Consultants, Century 21 O'Donnell, Kelly's All Pro Landscaping and Healthcare Technology Systems, Inc.

#69 Porsche 996
Josh Vargo 
Jake  Vargo 
Mark Herrington  
Brady Refenning  
Josh Vargo is a veteran endurance racer, making his ninth Daytona 24 hour start.  Brother Jake also has many miles at Daytona, in addition to his historic and Porsche racing endeavors.  Mark Herrington is a self proclaimed gentleman driver with experience in the Panoz racing series as well as three years of HSR experience.  Brady Refenning is an accomplished endurance and historic racer with wins at the 24 Hours of Moroso; he will be looking to improve on his best Daytona finish of sixth.

The TRG Porsche Brigade will take to the track for the 24 Hour at Daytona test days, January 5th thru 7th.

Top 10 moments on SPEED Channel Top 10 moments on SPEED ChannelAs SPEED celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year, the network put together a panel of motor sports producers and on-air personalities to determine the Top 10 Motor Sports Moments captured on SPEED over the network’s first 10 years on the air. A network retrospective, entitled Ten Years at Speed: A Decade of Excellence, is tentatively scheduled for May 2006.  Below are the results of the internal voting:
  1. Formula One driver Michael Schumacher milestones. The Ferrari phenom’s records for most F1 championships (seven) and most F1 wins (84) were set on SPEED. SPEED has been the American television home for Formula One since the network debuted in 1996.
  2. American motorcyclist Nicky Hayden wins his first career MotoGP race in 2005 at Laguna Seca, starting from the pole for the first time in his career. It was the first MotoGP race in the United States since 1994 and the first-ever live broadcast of a MotoGP event on American television.
  3. The three-way photo finish between drivers Rick Crawford, Travis Kvapil and Robert Pressley at the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season opener from Daytona. It was the first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race aired on SPEED and Crawford won by 0.027 seconds over Kvapil and Pressley.
  4. Sports Car acrobatics -- In 1999, at Le Mans, a Mercedes-Benz CLR piloted by Mark Webber went airborne on the Mulsanne Straight in dramatic fashion during morning warm-ups for the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car also had flipped during qualifying, but Mercedes, making its first run at Le Mans in decades, believed they had solved the aerodynamic issues. Five hours into the actual race, however, the CLR repeated the stunt, as Webber’s teammate Peter Dumbreck flipped end-over-end in the air before landing amongst tree tops just off the track. Webber’s car immediately withdrew from the event and Mercedes has not returned to Le Mans.  A year earlier, at the inaugural Petit Le Mans on SPEED, Porsche factory driver Yannick Dalmas survived a similar back-flip in a LMP1-98. 
  5. Dane Tom Kristensen wins the 2005 24 Hours of Le Mans in an Audi R8. Kristensen’s seventh victory at the historic endurance event breaks the record held by Belgium’s Jacky Ickx. Kristensen scored all seven of his victories on SPEED.  zzzz
  6. Corvette wins the overall title at the 2001 Rolex 24 at Daytona with drivers Ron Fellows, Chris Kneifel, Franck Freon and Johnny O’Connell. NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt along with son Dale Jr., joins Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins in a second Corvette that finishes second in class and fourth overall.
  7. Kenny Roberts Jr. wins the Moto Grand Prix 500cc Class World Championship in 2000 on a Suzuki, becoming the first second-generation champion in series history. Kenny’s father won the title three consecutive times from 1978-80.
  8. At the 1997 European Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher led Jacques Villeneuve in the championship standings by one point, 78-77.  On lap 48, as Villeneuve was passing Schumacher, the pair got together, damaging Schumacher’s Ferrari enough to knock it out of the race. Villeneuve continued, finishing the race in third place and winning the 1997 Formula One Drivers Championship by three points. Schumacher was disqualified from the Drivers Championship for causing what was determined to be an avoidable collision.
  9. Citing fears their Michelin tires would not perform at speed through Turn 13 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 14 Formula One drivers pulled their cars off the track and into the pits after the formation lap, leaving six cars to compete in the 2005 U.S. Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher went on to win the debacle -- the only F1 race in the U.S. -- on Bridgestone tires.
  10. Tommy Kendall wins 11 consecutive events in 1997 en route to his fourth Trans-Am championship. Kendall’s dominant performance earns the California driver Driver of the Year honors
Racing News
'06 Goodwood Festival dates set '06 Goodwood Festival dates setIt is now confirmed that the 2006 Festival of Speed will take place on July 7.8.9. The theme for 2006 will be ‘Racing for Glory – a Century of Grands Prix’, celebrating the great sporting accolades to which drivers have always aspired. It’s 100 years since the first Grand Prix, a century since the first Targa Florio road race and 40 years since the great TransAm and CanAm series were founded.

To honor these superb motoring milestones, the selection of machinery on the hill will include a spectacular array of Grand Prix cars, representing everything from the first winning Renault in 1906 to last season’s championship winner from the same company. Most of the World Championship-winning models from 1950 onwards will also be in action. In addition, expect to see a whole host of Targa Florio winners, plus some wonderful entries coming over from the USA to support the fabulous TransAm and CanAm series. It should be another truly exciting and memorable weekend.

Entry into the event will again be by advance ticket only, so please ensure that you book in plenty of time as there is likely to be a great demand for the limited number of available tickets.

The change to an advance ticket policy was implemented two years ago in order to preserve the Festival’s unique relaxed atmosphere following a period of sustained growth. Our aim is to ensure that all visitors enjoy excellent views of the action and the best possible experience at the event.

To book your tickets for the Festival, please either telephone the Ticket Hotline on +44 1243 755055, fax +44 1243 755058 or you can now buy on-line by visiting the Online Shopping & Tickets section of this site.

Tiago Monteiro's 2005 season book available Tiago Monteiro's 2005 season book available"Tiago Monteiro - Best of Formula 1, 2005", is the name of the first book devoted to the F1 career of the Portuguese driver, who was crowned best rookie of the year in 2005 in the motor racing category. The book is illustrated by many photographers from World Racing Images, who followed Tiago throughout the season on the 19 circuits that made up the world championship season.

The selection of pictures retained for the book reflects the talent and the professionalism of the three artists of the agency, Jad Sherif, Jean-François Galeron and Laurent Charniaux. The written work also comprises comments from Tiago Monteiro himself with comments from every round. The book is available in any FNAC and has been published in both English and Portuguese.

"The photographs are really spectacular and I thought that it would be the best gift that I could make in this end of the year to all those who have followed my career and to all my supporters who have helped me to be stronger," explained Tiago. "The final result corresponds perfectly: the book is simple but is of great quality. I think that anyone who reads it will be more than happy to add it to their collection."

The book, as well as other official merchandise, can be purchased on Tiago's official site: www.tiagomonteiro.com

Track News
SPEED World Challenge
SPEED World Challenge replaces Trans-Am at LB SPEED World Challenge replaces Trans-Am at LBUPDATE A 50-minute timed race would commence minutes after the conclusion of the Champ Car race on April 9, 2006.

The Sports Car Club of America the series' sanctioning body has positioned the Speed World Challenge as a relatively low-cost production-based series. The series had success luring sponsors and different makes to the series. Last season, Porsches competed alongside of Pontiacs, Cadillacs and other cars recognizable to even the most pedestrian of race fans. About 20 cars are expected to compete in Long Beach.

The LBGP was added to the schedule the same time SCCA officials announced its lower-horsepower touring car class would run with at Champ Car's Denver race in August, which pushed the Speed World Challenges' schedule to 10 races. The series will run alongside the IRL a weekend before the LBGP in St. Petersburg, Fla., and has seven dates with the American Le Mans Series.

Michaelian told the Press-Telegram last week that there were some doubts as to whether another support series would fit into the LBGP's already packed schedule. Champ Car, Atlantics, drifting and the Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona prototypes had taken up much of the track time during the three-day weekend. Press-Telegram

12/20/05 Race fans attending the 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 7-9, 2006, will be witnessing a "first."  

An event-record SIX racing series will be scorching the pavement of America's favorite street course thanks to the addition of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT Championship, which opens its 10-race season with races in Sebring and St. Petersburg, Fla. before journeying to Long Beach.

The SPEED GT joins another new race on the Long Beach schedule - the Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes - as well as the Champ Car World Series, 30th Anniversary Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, Drifting and the Imperial Capital Bank Champ Car Atlantic race.

"We're delighted to have the opportunity to showcase the always-exciting SPEED World Challenge GT at Long Beach," said Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.  "The wide variety of cars and close competition will create tremendous interest for our fans and also provide us with a great concluding race on Sunday."

"We're very excited to add the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to our 2006 SCCA SPEED World Challenge schedule," SCCA Pro Racing Acting President Garret Mudd said. "Southern California is a huge market for our brand of racing, which has proven to be the most popular and relevant form of production-based racing in North America." zzzz

More than 20 race-prepped marques are eligible for competition in the SPEED GT, including Aston Martin, Audi, Cadillac, Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper, Ferrari, Ford GT and Mustang, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru and Volvo, among others.  Series drivers are a who's who of sprint and endurance format sports car racers, including at least two former winners on the Long Beach circuit in the Trans-Am Series.

For further information on the SPEED GT Series cars and drivers, log on to world-challenge.com.

Andy Pilgrim, driving the #8 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose/On Star Cadillac CTS-V, won the 2005 SPEED GT championship by six points over 2004 titleholder Tommy Archer (Dodge Viper).

Pilgrim started the season with five straight Top-5s, and went on to become only the second driver since the series' inception in 1990 to win the title without winning a race.  Cadillac added the series' Manufacturers Championship.

The 50-minute SPEED GT race follows the Champ Car race on Sunday, April 9, and will conclude on-track activities at the 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Tickets for the Grand Prix can be purchased from the Grand Prix ticket office by calling the toll-free ticket hotline at (888) 82-SPEED.  A handy ticket brochure - which includes circuit map, grandstand and parking locations, ticket prices and order form - can be obtained by calling the ticket hotline. Tickets are also available online at longbeachgp.com or ticketmaster.com.

Ticket prices range from $35 for Friday/Saturday general admission up to $115 for a three-day ticket that includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seats in upper levels of the grandstands.  Pre-paid parking packages are also available when ordering through the Grand Prix Ticket Office. Handicapped seating, Bosch Champ Car Garage passes, super photo tickets and a variety of hospitality club packages will also be available.

Power named to top-10 list Power named to top-10 listTeam Australia's Will Power has been voted by Australian motor racing magazine, Auto Action, as one of the top ten drivers of 2005.  It is the second year in a row that Toowoomba-born Power has been selected in the elite group of drivers.  This year's top ten drivers included world champions Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Loeb, dual Champ Car title holder Sebastien Bourdais and NASCAR champion Tony Stewart.

Power, 24, began the year by winning races in the World Series by Renault Championship then moved onto a podium finish in the inaugural A1 Grand Prix at Brands Hatch in England before starring with Team Australia on the Gold Coast in his Champ Car debut.

While racing a variety of categories throughout the year Power demonstrated to race fans across the globe, including Team Australia co-owners Derrick Walker, Craig Gore and John Fish, he has certainly matured as a driver and has the ability to keep his cool under pressure – but can also be aggressive when required.

"Over the past couple of years I have been looking for young, talented and maturing drivers to be a part of Team Australia," said Gore.

"In just a couple of starts with Team Australia, Will has proven to me that he has the potential to be a star of the future and his inclusion in the top 10 is justification of my thoughts.

"Will's performance during his Champ Car debut on the Gold Coast and then in the final round in Mexico, was extremely impressive and capped off a superb year for him.  I look forward to some exciting times with him in 2006."

Power has recently spent the festive season in his home town of Toowoomba and will return to America next month to begin preparations with Team Australia for the opening round of the 2006 Champ Car World Series on the streets of Long Beach in April.

Zanardi voted Driver of Year Zanardi voted Driver of YearIn an annual poll, organized by the popular German motor racing weekly Motorsport Aktuell, readers caused a major surprise in the Touring and Sports Car Racing category by voting former Champ Car star, and double amputee, Alex Zanardi as Driver of Year.

18.9 percent of the 23,343 readers that took part in the poll voted for BMW Team Italy-Spain’s Zanardi, who crowned his comeback in August 2005 by winning the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) round at Oschersleben, Germany.

The 2004 (Mattias Ekström, 15.6 percent) and 2005 (Gary Paffett, 14.4 percent) DTM Champions had to make do with second and third places respectively.

Another go around for NASCAR track in Seattle Another go around for NASCAR track in SeattleSince Frank Kenny launched a chainsaw-art business south of this timber town, he's noticed people aren't always proud to claim it as home.
College kids rarely return to the economically depressed spot. "For Lease" signs hang in empty storefronts and on roadside snack trucks painted like the American flag.

A proposed NASCAR speedway nearby could change that, Kenny said, drawing nearly 200,000 fans each summer and sparking a tourism gold rush.

"Why does only Seattle deserve to have a couple of stadiums?" asked the owner of Kenny's Northwest Experience, a coffee shop, art gallery and carving school eight miles south of the Kitsap County speedway site. "The state would be foolish not to grab it."

But the proposal that legislators are expected to consider in the upcoming session will have to overcome deep and widespread suspicion about using public dollars to finance another sports complex.

Florida-based International Speedway Corp. has proposed to roughly split the cost of a $345 million motor sports racetrack with a public speedway authority, which would essentially use a slice of state sales tax revenue collected in Mason, Kitsap and Pierce counties to pay back construction bonds. International Speedway has an option to buy about 950 acres south of the Bremerton Airport. It abandoned a site in Marysville a year ago after it proved too expensive. If the racetrack company's financial projections are correct, the state's $166 million investment would be more than repaid by new money that out-of-town racing fans spend on hotels, gas, headphones and hot dogs.

"You're not going to pay a red cent for this unless you choose to attend a race," said Van Vlist, a NASCAR booster and president of Dick Vlist Motors in Port Orchard.


The deal proposed by International Speedway Corp.:

  • The company would pay $166 million to build a $345 million NASCAR racetrack. It would pay for construction cost overruns and lease the facility from a public speedway authority.
  • The state would give up a small percentage of sales taxes to finance an additional $166 million in construction bonds, betting that revenue from racing fans would repay that investment. The percentage has not yet been set.
  • Kitsap County would give up much of its admissions tax revenue to repay another $13 million in bonds. Because the speedway would be publicly owned, Kitsap County would also forgo property taxes. More at SeattlePi
Giebler hoping to test Champ Car or Indy Car Giebler hoping to test Champ Car or Indy CarPhil Giebler told SPEEDTV.com that he hopes to test a Champ Car or an IndyCar this off-season. “I’m hoping to do tests in Atlantics and Infiniti Pro Series. I’m also looking to do a Champ Car test and an IndyCar rookie test. I believe that by late February I’ll have a clear idea of what else will I be doing in ‘06.

“Basically I’d like to be in a race car all year long. Do some preseason testing, too… I’d love to do some sports car racing, and I’ll also try some stock car stuff and see how that goes.”

2006 F1 launch dates 2006 F1 launch datesUPDATE #1  A few updates to the F1 launch dates
January 14 Toyota
January 16 BMW
Late January Ferrari (date TBC)
January 25 Honda
January 27 Williams
January 31 Renault
February 3 Midland
March 9 Red Bull
March 9 Toro Rosso
TBD McLaren
TBD Super Aguri

Renault: January 10 (Track)/January 31 (Launch)
Toyota: January 14
BMW Sauber: January 16/17
Ferrari: January 23 (Tentative)
Honda: January 25
Williams Cosworth: January 27
McLaren: TBD
MF1 Racing: Early February
Red Bull Racing: Bahrain Race weekend
Scuderia Toro Rosso: Bahrain Race weekend
Super Aguri: TBD

F1's Joie Chitwood F1's Joie Chitwood(GMMf1NET)  If you scour a good F1 history book closely enough, you might find the name 'Joie Chitwood'.  The American qualifies for his eternal F1 entry by finishing fifth in the 1950 Indy 500 -- when the race counted towards the series' world championship.

He is credited for being the first driver to ever wear a seat belt at the fabled event, but made his money with a stunt-driving show.  Chitwood himself was often known to drive a normal road car around on two wheels.

He died 17 years ago today, aged 73.

In 2006, the name lives on in grandson Joie Chitwood III, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and very much involved in the running of the US grand prix.

Alonso voted third best 2005 champion Alonso voted third best 2005 champion(GMMf1NET) F1 title winner Fernando Alonso has finished just third in a ranking of the world's best sports champions of 2005.

The Spaniard, at 24 the youngest ever drivers' champion in the grand prix series' history, was beaten to the honor by Swiss tennis player Roger Federer and MotoGP's Valentino Rossi.

The 'Champion of Champions' label is determined by a vote of journalists for the French sport daily L'Equipe.

World number one Federer earned 676 points, ahead of Italy's Rossi, with 387. Not far behind was Renault's Alonso, 24-years-old like Federer, collecting 324 points.

Ethiopian runner Kenenisa Bekele came fourth, followed by footballer Ronaldinho. World Rally's Sebastien Loeb finished ninth best.

Wheldon dazed by F1 price tag Wheldon dazed by F1 price tag(GMMf1NET)  You would be forgiven for thinking that England's Dan Wheldon felt a little forlorn over his Christmas turkey.  The 27-year-old - who in 2005 triumphed at the Indy 500, conquered America's premier open wheel series and earned nearly $4 million - negotiated with Honda, Williams and BMW-Sauber ahead of the new F1 season.

The closest he came to a deal was with the latter team, but they ultimately refused to guarantee him a race drive -- even if he agreed to spend the whole of 2006 as test driver.

In F1, Wheldon has found a sport that he says defies logic in signing drivers based on how much money they can bring to a team, rather than how much talent runs through their genes.

But he told UK's The Times daily newspaper that he enjoys a very happy and successful career across the Atlantic.

He said: ''It astonishes me that people pay up to $5 million for a (F1) test drive.

''It makes no sense to me.  Of course, I want to try formula one but I have learnt from being in America that it is not the end of my career.''

Rubens ready for Honda debut Rubens ready for Honda debut(GMMf1NET)  Rubens Barrichello is preparing to kick off his new Honda powered career.

On Sunday (1 January), the Brazilian's 2006 contract moved into first gear, after Ferrari refused to release him for the November-December tests.

''Ideally we would have liked him to have started before Christmas,'' Honda boss Nick Fry admits, ''but sadly that hasn't been possible.''

33-year-old Barrichello, following a six-season stint as Michael Schumacher's number two, will make his Honda test debut at the Jerez circuit next week, at the wheel of a V10-powered BAR-Honda car.

His new contract gives him equal number one status with Brackley incumbent Jenson Button.

Fry said: ''Rubens brings with him the experience of not only being a nine time race winner but also of six years with a championship winning team.''

Schu defends F1's new champion Schu defends F1's new champion(GMMf1NET)  Fernando Alonso has found a friend in Michael Schumacher, despite ending the German's five-year run as world champion in 2005.

The Ferrari driver, who turns 37 on Tuesday, was asked by the Independent newspaper whether he thought Alonso would ever win another drivers' triumph.

Ever since 24-year-old Fernando, of Renault, held the crown aloft in Brazil, many observers have turned to McLaren rival Kimi Raikkonen as a more deserving winner.

''Please don't ask if Fernando is a good driver,'' Michael said in the e-mail interview.  ''Of course he is.

'''Hey, he is world champion!  You don't achieve this by chance.

''I have said very often that I have a big respect for what he did together with his team.''

However, even the champion himself - Alonso - can admit that last season was not the dawning of a Michael Schumacher-style 'Alonso-era'.

Fernando told Autosport that he thought F1 would be hotly contested in the next years.

But the champion vowed: ''I will try, and whatever happens, I have proved that I can do it.''

Williams is Wurz's 'lifeline' - report Williams is Wurz's 'lifeline' - report(GMMf1NET)  Williams is a lifeline, rather than an alternative, for Alex Wurz.  That is the claim of Germany's 'Bild' newspaper, which reported on Monday that the long-time McLaren tester, 31, only switched from McLaren because Ron Dennis no longer wanted him at Woking.

His replacement at the silver team is DTM champion Gary Paffett, to be joined in the role by Pedro de la Rosa.

A more conventional view in F1 circles was that the 'Friday' role at Williams could be a precursor to the lanky Austrian's return to the racing grid in 2007.

Speculation said Wurz nearly switched to BMW Sauber, but the deal was scuppered because the Munich carmaker did not agree to sign Wurz's '07 'race' option.

However, 'Bild' contends that Wurz had to settle for Williams because his long legs did not fit in the new Sauber, designed to accommodate the diminutive Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve.

Former 10-time grand prix winner Gerhard Berger thinks Sir Frank Williams has pulled off a coup.

With Wurz, renowned for his technical know-how, will come invaluable data about the fastest car - the MP4-20 - of '05.

''But I don't think he has been signed to replace (Mark) Webber or (Nico) Rosberg,'' Wurz's countryman told ORF television.  ''Rosberg is one of the fastest of the new generation of drivers.''

Another son on road to F1 Another son on road to F1(GMMf1NET)  Yet another son of a grand prix driver could be carving a path to F1.  Hoping to follow in the footsteps of Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Nelson Piquet Jr or Nico Rosberg, is Conor Daly -- the 14-year-old son of Irish 49-grand prix veteran of the seventies and 80s, Derek Daly.

Daly, 52, is now a F1 and Champ Car commentator for America's racing coverage.

''Conor is so much better than me at that age,'' Derek told the Daytona Beach News Journal.  At Daytona, Conor is competing in the hugely competitive 'KartWeek' go-kart races.

It has raised Dad's hopes that, one day, he might be screaming the words 'My son wins the world championship!' from the commentary box.

''That would be so cool,'' Daly said. ''That would just be so cool.''

Schu’s era is over - Rosberg Schu’s era is over - Rosberg(GMMf1NET)  Michael Schumacher's era of dominance is over for good, according to a fellow drivers' world champion.

1982 title winner Keke Rosberg, whose 20-year-old son Nico will be wheel-to-wheel with Schumacher this year, reckons 2005 - with Fernando Alonso (24) and Kimi Raikkonen (26) on top of things - marked the beginning of the younger drivers' time.

Schumacher, the oldest driver in pitlane at 37, won seven titles between 1994 and 2004, but his grand prix tally of 84 was only bolstered by a single win last year -- the farcical United States folly.

''He won't win another world championship,'' Finland's Keke Rosberg told F1 Racing magazine.  ''The world - and the world championship - now belongs to the young ones.''

IRL superstar Patrick picks up yet another award IRL superstar Patrick picks up yet another award[Editor's Note:  Forget Dan Wheldon and all the other drivers who smoked Danica Patrick week in and week out all year long in the IRL.   They are meaningless, even if they are better drivers.  She is the IRL superstar, make no doubt about it.] 

IRL IndyCar® Series Bombardier Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick has picked up another award. Patrick, who became the highest-finishing woman and the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500, was named Female Athlete of the Year by the United States Sports Academy after dominating a world-wide internet election hosted by  USATODAY.com.  Tennis champion Roger Federer of Switzerland was the top overall vote getter and was named the 2005 Outstanding Athlete of the Year while Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong was named Male Athlete of the Year for the second straight year.

Tennis star Kim Clijsters finished second in the women's balloting, followed by the 2003 Female Athlete of the Year, LPGA golfer Annika Sorenstam. PGA golfer Tiger Woods finished second for Male Athlete of the Year, followed by San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan.

Others nominated for the award: Tom Brady, Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, Jermaine Dye, Matt Leinart, Peyton Manning, Bode Miller, Asafa Powell, Aaron Peirsol and Tony Stewart. The female ballot included Natalie Coughlin, Tirunesh Dibaba, Yolanda Griffith, Gao Jun, Deena Kastor, Nastia Liukin, Paula Radcliffe, Irina Slutskaya, Venus Williams and Yelena Isinbayeva.  zzzz

The Athlete of the Year is the culmination of the Sports Academy's yearlong Athlete of the Month program, which recognizes the accomplishments of men and women in any sport around the globe on a monthly basis.
In addition to the USSA award, Patrick was runner-up in media voting for the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year, trailing only golf superstar Annika Sorenstam. Patrick also ranked No. 6 among 30 athletes in fan voting at ESPN.com in the "Who Was The Ultimate Face of 2005, SportsNation?" poll and was named "Newsmaker of the Year" by the Eastern Motorsports Press Association.

Other athletes receiving votes behind Sorenstam and Patrick in the AP voting included tennis players Maria Sharapova, Williams and Clijsters, golfer Michelle Wie, swimmer Natalie Coughlin and basketball player Sheryl Swoopes.  The ESPN.com poll asked fans to vote on the athletes who made the biggest headlines in 2005. The only athletes to finish ahead of Patrick were, in order, NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens, Armstrong, Bush, basketball player Ron Artest and football coach Charlie Weis.

In another salute to Patrick's performance at Indianapolis, FOX NASCAR analyst Darrell Waltrip named the 89th Indianapolis 500 as the Race of the Year in his year-end column for foxsports.com.

Three-time NASCAR champion Waltrip wrote: "We've all talked about the exciting races of the year in NASCAR, but one of the most exciting races that I saw in 2005 was the Indy 500 with Danica Patrick leading and finishing fourth. It was as good as it gets. She spun out and had trouble in the pits, but she was there at the end of the day when it was time to decide who was going to win the race. She battled it out with eventual race winner Dan Wheldon and three or four of the top drivers in the series to see who was going to go to victory lane. It was as good a race as I've seen. Of course, the IRL cars put on an incredible show any time they go to the mile-and-a-half tracks, but Danica's Indy 500 was one race that got me really excited."

McFarland to drive Earnhardt's Busch car McFarland to drive Earnhardt's Busch carMark McFarland, the 2003 Dodge Weekly Racing Series national champion, has been picked by Dale Earnhardt Jr. to be the first Busch Series driver for his Mooresville, N.C.-based company, JR Motorsports.  McFarland will pilot the No. 88 NAVY Chevrolet in his quest for the 2006 Busch Series title and Rookie of the Year award.
Harvick names Rice for his Truck team Harvick names Rice for his Truck teamKevin Harvick Inc. has named Chris Rice crew chief of its No. 33 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team and two-time Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday for the 2006 season.  Rice previously worked as crew chief for Busch Series driver Stacy Compton at ST Motorsports.

"Joining KHI and to have the opportunity to work with Ron Hornaday and entire No. 33 team is an honor," said Rice. "I've been racing all my life and I'm really looking forward to a successful 2006 season."

"I've known Chris for a number of years," said Hornaday. "He is the last piece to the puzzle to make this race team complete. We are going to go out and run this 2006 season like we did last year, racing as hard as we can for every spot week after week. Chris has the knowledge to lead this team to a championship run."

WilliamsF1 confirms Wurz WilliamsF1 confirms WurzWilliamsF1 today confirmed the appointment of Alex Wurz as the team’s official test and reserve driver for the forthcoming Formula One season. Alex will support Mark Webber & Nico Rosberg in their testing duties and, as official reserve driver, will deputize should either race driver not be able to fulfill racing duties for any reason. However, Wurz’s most significant contribution will be as the team’s Friday driver, assisting with the vital preparation and set-up of the FW28 prior to each Grand Prix. Alex brings three full seasons of racing experience with Benetton and five years of senior testing credentials with McLaren to the team, significantly augmenting the depth and breadth of talent and skill in Williams’ 2006 driver line-up.

At the conclusion of contractual negotiations today, Frank Williams said, “I am delighted with the agreement we have reached with Alex. Everyone at Williams believes he will bring significant improvements to the team’s performance, on Grand Prix Fridays in particular, and to our testing program in general.”

For his part, Wurz commented, “Ever since I met Frank Williams during an International Touring Car meeting in 1996, I have wanted to drive for his team and I am delighted that the opportunity has now arisen. I feel full of energy to be part of Williams’ 2006 season attack and look forward to working closely with Mark and Nico, they are quick drivers and I believe that together we will achieve great results. The testing and Friday driver role is a responsibility I am familiar with and I will throw all my experience into it. I cannot wait to start.” WilliamsF1 

[Editor's Note: Wurz, who debuted in F1 for Benetton in 1997 and 1998, met the wheelchair-bound team principal in 1996, at a touring car meeting.  ''I am delighted that the opportunity to drive for his team has now arisen,'' the tall former grand prix racer said.

Some observers are already speculating that Wurz's new deal probably includes an 'option' for 2007, when Mark Webber's race contract will be up for renewal.  Alexander neared a similar deal with BMW-Sauber for 2006, but the Munich paymasters declined to agree to the 2007 option.

It is also expected that Wurz is not paying for his Oxfordshire appointment, after the historically successful team considered plumping for the pay-drive cash of Narain Karthikeyan.

F1 rookie Nico Rosberg fills the other race seat.]

Dakar Day 3: Schlesser wins special Dakar Day 3: Schlesser wins special
Goodyear tire tests at Atlanta and Texas Goodyear tire tests at Atlanta and TexasGoodyear will get a head start on its track tire development when it tests January 10-11 with Carl Edwards at Atlanta Motor Speedway and January 24-25 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Bobby Labonte at Texas Motor Speedway. Neither track has changed dramatically, but Goodyear engineers want to gather feedback on new compounds, tire designs and mold shapes. Sporting News [Editor's Note: No doubt to improve their tires so they don't blow out all the time.  These two tracks are hard on tires.]
Robby Gordon on 2nd Stage of Dakar Robby Gordon on 2nd Stage of DakarRobby Gordon is racing in the Dakar Rally, the world’s most grueling and logistically challenging auto race, started Dec. 31 in Lison, Portugal and heads approximately 6,500 miles south through Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar and into Morocco. From there, the race turns rugged as the field of more than 500 vehicles makes the incredible journey through Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Senegal.

The car 'special' segment was again made for WRC specialists: hilly tracks, slippery curves where pure driving skills were requested to grab victory. Carlos Sainz clinched his second success in a row. This time it took the Spaniard 1h34’28” to cover the 115km, beating Luc Alphand by only 25”. A good performance from the Frenchman who finished runner-up of last year’s event. Third position went to Nasser Al Attiyah, another WRC specialist (winner of the Pan- Asian championship) who seemed to have forgotten his disappointing 13th spot yesterday. The following three spots were for the Mitsubishi drivers with Masuoka fourth at 1’01”, Roma fifth at 1’02” and Peterhansel sixth at 2’25”. The title holder who again was forced to stop because of a puncture. Local hero, Carlos Sousa this time had to settle for an 8th position, over 3’ off the winning pace. Robby Gordon's time of 01:38:18 left him 3'50" off the best time of the day and gave him a 13th position in the special. Overall Gordon retained his 14th place classification and is 8'29" off the best mark set by Sainz.

Gordon's quotes: “I’m on a ferry crossing over from Europe to Africa. All systems with the H3 are good. The truck is performing flawlessly. The roads on the stage today were tight and narrow. The smaller vehicles definitely have had an advantage. Stage one and two have been more like a World Rally race but that’s going to change when we get to the full throttle terrain in Africa. We came to Dakar knowing this race is neither won or lost in Europe. We are gauging our performance off Stephane Peterhansel who has won this event the past two years. Right now we are a minute and forty two seconds back of him and by no means out of this race. As long as we are in touch with the leaders we are going to have a shot. Right now we are just plugging along with no real dramas.”

Schu turns 37 Schu turns 37(GMMf1NET)  F1's most successful driver, Michael Schumacher, will celebrate his thirty seventh birthday on Tuesday.

The German, with seven drivers' titles, 84 victories and 142 podiums, is also currently the oldest and most experienced driver in pitlane, with 232 total grands prix, 1248 points, 69 fastest laps and 64 pole positions.

''I don't feel fear,'' the Ferrari driver said in an email interview with UK's Independent 'paper.

''I feel respect sometimes, but I am absolutely in my element when in a cockpit and behind a steering wheel.  I cannot even imagine this sensation ever stopping.

''I just love it.''

Schumacher's contract runs out at the end of this year, and so far the media has entertained every possibility -- retirement, a new Maranello tenure, even a switch to a rival team like McLaren or Red Bull.

He continued: ''Really, I am a happy man -- I have a wonderful family.  And I had a wonderful hobby, which turned into a great job.''

Industry news
Ford to introduce new safety features Ford to introduce new safety featuresFord is reaching back to take safety technology a major step forward. Inflatable safety belts and BeltMinder™ for backseat passengers are among the innovative safety features found on concept vehicles to be unveiled by the company at the 2006 North American International Auto Show.

"Ford is raising the bar on second-row occupant protection by expanding and adding new technologies to vehicles," says Priya Prasad, Ford's safety technical fellow. "These concepts provide us with the platform to explore the possibilities of these technologies."

Inflatable Safety Belts

Air bag technology traditionally has been focused on the front of the vehicle, where occupants are at greatest risk for injury during a front impact.

Ford, however, is also paying attention to what happens in the backseat during an accident. Using advances in air bag inflation and construction, Ford engineers have developed a small, tubular-shaped inflatable bag that can deploy inside a shoulder belt in the event of a crash. This patent-pending inflatable safety belt system has potential to cover the entire bodily area where the belt makes contact with the torso. The expected result is a further reduction in head and neck injury risk.

The inflatable safety belt technology is unique in many ways:

  • The inflated portion of the safety belt across the shoulder and upper chest may be able to limit motion of the head in a crash, with the potential to reduce head and neck injuries.
  • Inflating the area alongside the torso belt may provide many of the same benefits as pretensioner devices – tightening the shoulder and lap belts before crash forces are transmitted, positioning the person in relation to other safety devices in the vehicle.
  • The broader contact area of the inflatable safety belt has the potential to spread impact forces across the chest, further reducing the changes of injury.  zzzz

This technology offers promise along many fronts and goes a long way in offering advanced second row occupant safety," says Prasad.

BeltMinder™ for Second-Row Occupants

Ford's concepts will also contain an advanced version of its innovative BeltMinder™ system – one that extends into the backseat.

The company's patented BeltMinder™ technology goes farther than the federally required safety belt reminder chiming system. In Ford vehicles, the driver or front passenger who remains unbuckled is regularly reminded to buckle up.

The system chimes and flashes a warning lamp for six seconds every 30 seconds for five minutes, or until the driver buckles up, whichever comes first. The second-row BeltMinder™ technology will now be able to alert the driver when second row passengers have not buckled their safety belts.

BeltMinder™ works. Research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed that safety belt use was five percentage points higher in vehicles with BeltMinder. And, government research shows that more than 3,000 lives could be saved and thousands of injuries could be prevented annually if the nationwide safety belt use rate climbed to 90 percent. According to recent data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, today's safety belt use is 82 percent.

"Our BeltMinder™ technology helps remind customers to buckle up," says Prasad. "It's a simple reminder that makes a big difference in saving lives. It only makes sense for us to look at ways of expanding this technology to cover additional seating positions in a vehicle"

Many other safety technologies will be featured on Ford concept and production vehicles at the North American International Auto Show including:

  • A Lincoln teaser will feature an innovative lighting technology. Ford’s Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS) represents an industry breakthrough in front lighting technology and addresses nighttime driving safety, one of the most dangerous driving conditions in the United States. The Lincoln lighting system uses LEDs to allow drivers to see better around the curve than they do with current cornering adaptive lighting systems – making for safer nighttime driving.
  • A Ford concept will feature Ford’s frontal crash enhanced underride protection - BlockerBeam™. The first in the industry to introduce this system, BlockerBeam™ provides enhanced frontal crash compatibility with cars on the road – without compromising the vehicle's usefulness.
  • By the end of the year, Ford will have more than half a million vehicles equipped with AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control – Ford’s exclusive stability technology – on the road. This number will grow as Ford Motor Company adds two more vehicles to its product line-up that are available with AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control.
  • Two new Ford Motor Company products will feature Ford’s Personal Safety System®. For passive occupant protection, Ford’s Personal Safety System® features dual-deployment front air bags, energy absorbing safety belts, load limiting retractors and pretensioners, all which will help to create one of the safest cabins in its segment.
South Korea says no to F1, yes to Champ Car South Korea says no to F1, yes to Champ CarSouth Korea has cancelled its plans to hold a Formula 1 race. The Koreans did a feasibility study for a 3.5-mile race track with seating for 100,000 and decided they would lose their shirt (like every other F1 race promoter does because the sanction fees are so high) and the plan was cancelled.

After Champ Car announced a race in South Korea, Bernie Ecclestone got the city of Pusan, South Korea to sign a memorandum of understanding in 2003 with his Formula One Management group for a race in 2009. The Champ Car race, further north near Seoul has yet to come off successfully, but Champ Car is way ahead of the game given the track is already built, and our sources tell us the 2006 round should happen as planned. zzzz

11/21/03 A press statement released today stated: "The Memorandum opens up the possibility of hosting a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship for the country which has played host to the Olympics and co-hosted the 2002 World Cup. "A new facility will be constructed on a 327 acre site reclaimed from the sea at Jin Hae, ten minutes from the major city Busan, which boasts both an international airport and one of the region's largest container ports. "The project is a joint venture between private business concerns, and has the backing of both the Central Government and that of the local Gyeongnam Provincial Government. The development will be a comprehensive sports resort, comprising hotels and other facilities as well as the race track itself. It will benefit from the existing comprehensive infrastructure and close proximity to Busan, which has a population of 3.9 million. "Plans are underway to continue the highly successful International Formula 3 Korea Super Prix, the year-end season closer which is now in its fifth year, up to 2009 when the country hopes to host its first F1 event. "In addition, the new Sang Am street circuit will host a round of Champ Cars in October 2004. "Domestic motorsport is also developing quickly in Korea, a major automobile manufacturer, with three circuits currently in use and two under construction. Over 40 domestic racing events, plus some regional race meetings, are on the calendar for 2004, and the Korean motorsport governing body the Korean Automobile Racing Association (KARA), is implementing a driver development program to bring youngsters in to the sport. "The Taebeck and Everland Circuits are currently hosting events on a regular basis, while the Sang Am Stadium Circuit and You Joo Speedpark will be completed next year. Two rallies and various off-road events are also held in South Korea annually. "As well as Korean drivers, two of whom have competed this year in the inaugural Formula BMW Asia series, KARA is also actively developing its own motorsport officials and marshals. Several Korean youngsters have competed in Formula Renault this year at China's Zhuhai International Circuit."

10/22/03 - This Autosport article talks more about this race.

10/21/03 - As AutoRacing1 reported exclusively this past weekend, CART will be racing in Seoul, South Korea starting in October, 2004. Now comes word (from Korea Times) that F1 will likely follow CART into South Korea five years later. The South Kyongsang (spelled Gyeongsang on map to right) Province government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Formula One Management (FOM) for the hosting of the Korea Formula One Grand Prix World Championship in the town of Chinhae in October 2009. The Province Governor Kim Hyuk-kyu reached the deal with Bernie Ecclestone, FOM president, in London on Oct. 17. The contract for the hosting is planned to be completed in South Korea within six months. South Kyongsang is on the opposite end of South Korea from Seoul where CART will race, so the two should not interfere with each other. The town of Chinhae is just west of Pusan (spelled Busan on map to right). Meanwhile, the 5th International Formula 3 Korea Super Prix will be held in Changwon, South Kyongsang (Gyeongsang) Province, from Nov. 18 to 23. of this year.

F1 testing to resume in earnest F1 testing to resume in earnestAfter a 2-week lull for the holidays, F1 testing will be back in earnest next week in Jerez.  Four teams will kick off the Spanish test a week from today - Red Bull, Ferrari, Renault and Toyota.  On Wednesday McLaren, Honda, Toro Rosso, BMW and Williams will join the action.  Jerez is expected to see action every day for ten straight days.  One team, Toyota, will test seven days in a row.  Red Bull, BMW and Ferrari will only test three days at Jerez.  Ferrari will move onto another circuit to continue their program, probably in Italy.
Webber upbeat about 2006 Webber upbeat about 2006Williams driver Mark Webber says that the atmosphere within the team is a lot more at ease since engine partner BMW left and Cosworth came in. "The atmosphere is certainly calmer," Webber admitted in the Australian press.

"We have a lot of work to get through this summer but we've set ourselves big targets and I'm sure we can deliver," he added. "The first test in Barcelona was a little bit too good to be true, to be honest. Considering we had a completely new rear ending, new engine, transmission, hydraulics, electronics and new tires, the reliability was pretty good."

Remembering Rodriguez Remembering RodriguezThe tale of the Rodriguez brothers is a sad one for formula one.

Pedro was the elder - by two years - of the Mexican siblings, but he was beaten to the grand prix grid by Ricardo, who debuted as a teenager at Monza in 1961, qualified a brilliant second, but retired with engine failure.

A year later he became the youngest driver to score points, but was tragically killed in a practice shunt for his home grand prix in Mexico.

Brother Pedro then made his debut F1 appearance in 1963, going on to drive 55 grands prix and win twice.  But in 1971 the Le Mans winner would suffer the same fate as his younger brother, dying after a crash in a 1971 sports car race in Germany (Norisring).

January 2 is the 39th anniversary of Pedro Rodriguez's first win in a Cooper-Climax, at Kyalami in South Africa. GMM

Berger says no to F1 return Berger says no to F1 returnF1 legend Gerhard Berger says he is still not ready to return to the pinnacle of motor sport.

The Austrian, who won ten grands prix in a 13-year F1 career spanning the 80s and 90s, was reportedly inundated by offers to remain in pitlane following his decision to quit as a BMW motor sport boss three years ago.

Most recently, he was linked with a Red Bull role, as well as VW's almost annual F1 rumor. Berger is also reportedly enthusiastic about BMW's full purchase of the Sauber team, which has rejuvenated talk of a return to his former camp.

''I am always happy to get offers,'' the 46-year-old told the Austrian 'ORF' television.

''But at some stages in life you want to work, and at others you want to go skiing,'' Berger smiled.

''At the moment, I am in the skiing stage.

''If anything changes, I will be very happy to take up one of those offers!'' GMM

Renault won’t go sour on Alonso - Berger Renault won’t go sour on Alonso - BergerFernando Alonso's status within the Renault team will not fade because he has signed to switch to McLaren for the 2007 season.

That's the opinion of 210 grand prix veteran Gerhard Berger, the Austrian who also won 10 races and jointly led BMW's formula one project earlier this decade.

Berger, 46, explained that if Renault went sour on the young 24-year-old Spaniard, and started to favor teammate Giancarlo Fisichella, the team would only be spiting itself.

''Alonso is absolutely the team's number one,'' he told Austrian TV ORF's Sport am Sonntag.

''If Renault want to win, they must win with Alonso. So I don't see any problem in that area.''

More hazy, however, is Berger's outlook on how the new season will pan out. ''I think we have to wait to see which tire manufacturer produces the better tire,'' the Austrian opined.

Gerhard Berger added: ''If Michelin have the upper hand, Raikkonen is surely the favorite. If it is Bridgestone, then I would put money on Michael (Schumacher) having the best chance again.'' GMM

2006 cars ’easier’ to drive - Heidfeld 2006 cars ’easier’ to drive - HeidfeldThe 2006 rulebook has made driving a grand prix car easier, according to Nick Heidfeld.

BMW-Sauber's new 28-year-old driver for 2006 and beyond says he will miss the V10 engines.

''Formula One with V10s was certainly more fun,'' the German admitted.

He told F1 Racing magazine: ''With a V8 the car is easier to drive, because traction is not so much of a topic.'' GMM

Ralf, Toyota, target ’06 win Ralf, Toyota, target ’06 winToyota has targeted a grand prix win and third in the 2006 constructors' championship.

The team's German driver Ralf Schumacher, and team manager Richard Cregan, both agree that - for the Cologne based marque's fifth year on the grid - 'ambitious' goals are needed.

''We want to be within the first three in the championship,'' 30-year-old Schumacher told Sport Bild, ''and I want to win a race in '06.''

Team manager Richard Cregan certainly doesn't argue with Ralf's big plans.  He answered 'no question' when asked if Toyota had really targeted third.

''I think there will be two teams out there for us to beat (this season),'' the Irishman told Setanta, ''and that's Renault and McLaren.

''We're definitely going for a race win.  We want more points and more podiums.  It will be more difficult, but at the same time this will be our fifth season in F1 so the target is to win a race and more than one if possible.''

Ralf, meanwhile, has had a bit of a swagger in his stride since trying the new TF106 car.  Like the 'b' 2005 model, it is no longer plagued by the understeer of its predecessor.

''The handling is much more suited to my driving style,'' 'Schu Jr' admitted.  ''I can now brake significantly later and turn in faster.'' GMM

Early switch shows lack of respect - Trulli Early switch shows lack of respect - TrulliJarno Trulli has seemingly joined the debate about his former teammate's controversial switch to McLaren.

The 31-year-old Toyota driver, who left Renault amid acrimony at the end of 2004, hinted that his close Spanish friend - and Ron Dennis' team - should have kept the bombshell about 2007 quiet.

McLaren boss Dennis has been accused of maliciously announcing the Alonso coup with more than a year to spare, so as to destabilize Renault and perhaps aim a touch of spite at his opposite number, Flavio Briatore.

It also takes the shine off Renault's historic title double, with the young champion obviously not committed in the long-term to his championship winning squad.

Jarno Trulli thus refers to the 'respect' a F1 driver should have for his current GP employer.

He agreed in the Italian Tuttosport publication: ''I feel it's better to avoid this sort of conduct. It's a form of respect which every driver should have for the team he races for -- for the people who work there, and for commercial necessities.'' GMM

Toyota plays down Japanese ’pressure’ Toyota plays down Japanese ’pressure’Toyota's team manager has denied that 'pressure' from Japan is a factor in the carmaker's assault on F1. Irishman Richard Cregan, 45, played down paddock gossip that Cologne based Toyota - with one of the mightiest annual budgets - is weighed down under the expectations of the check writers in Tokyo.

He told Setanta: ''I think we probably generate more pressure internally to succeed than we ever get from Japan.''

It is also thought that one of the F1 team's motivating factors is beating Honda, Toyota's arch-rival carmaker, a fellow Japanese giant, and now also a 100 per cent grand prix team owner.

But Cregan insisted: ''The fact that there is another manufacturer involved, and in particular a Japanese manufacturer, doesn't really make any difference to the effort that we put in.''

Even so, Toyota is utterly determined to make the F1 project work, and was internally very hard on itself when third to Ferrari went begging in '05.

However, pole positions and podiums gave Toyota 'confidence in our own ability to produce a winning car,' Cregan added.

He also rejected that driver animosity might be a problem to a serious title charge, saying that Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli get along just fine.

''Personally, they get on very well,'' the team manager said, ''they have no issues.'' GMM

’Ralf’s in the running’ - Rosberg ’Ralf’s in the running’ - RosbergKeke Rosberg, who has seen it all in F1, has told the racing world to keep a keen eye on Ralf Schumacher in 2006.

Between 1978 and 1986, Rosberg - now 57 - drove 114 grands prix, winning five times and securing the 1982 title.

Later, as a manager, he brought future twice world champion Mika Hakkinen onto the grid. And now, in 2006, the original 'Flying Finn' has a new perspective -- the Dad of an F1 rookie.

But as well as predicting a bright future for 20-year-old Nico, Rosberg sees another German-born star who is set to shine.

''Ralf's body language at the winter tests radiated self confidence,'' Keke told Sport Bild.

'Schu Jr' himself has enthused about Toyota's new TF106 car, which features the same basic front-end and suspension layout as last year's 'b' version. Although struggling early in the season, Ralf led teammate Jarno Trulli as soon as he got his hands on the revised racer.

Rosberg predicted: ''We will see a different Ralf than the one we saw in 2005.

''We must factor both him and Toyota as in the running.'' GMM

Daytona Delight for Conor Daly Daytona Delight for Conor DalyCytomax driver Conor Daly showed remarkable speed and control during the World Karting Association’s Daytona Kart Week World Championships, (December 27th – 29th ) where he qualified on the front row of the grid for both of his Yamaha events (from 57 entries), and finished on the podium with a 3rd and 2nd place finish in two events (Yamaha & Junior ICA).

His 2nd place finish in the Junior ICA event was one of the highlights of Kart week.  Having failed to turn in a qualifying lap (a Dad mistake), he came from the back of the grid to finish 9th in the pre-final and turned in an outstanding drive in the final  to come within 2 seconds of winning, while setting fastest lap of the race.

14 year old Conor Daly is an 8th grader at Heritage Christian School, Indianapolis. He is a second generation driver with his Dad Derek, having raced in Formula One and Indy Cars. Conor’s next event will take place at the Lowe's Motor Speedway, Charlotte, NC, March 10th – 12th.

Racing News
Radio show back on-air Wednesday Radio show back on-air WednesdayMidweek Motorsport is back for the new year on Wednesday, January 4th.  They are kicking the year off with a bang with an interview with some of the key men at Ferrari. John Hindhaugh will be chatting to  Michael Schumacher, Jean Todt and Luca Badoer about the preparations for the upcoming season.

As usual the show will be broadcast at 8pm GMT (3 PM ET) on Wednesday night and can be heard on the web at www.yoursportradio.com and www.radiolemans.com or at Channel 907 on the Sky Digital platform.  We should have details of more guests prior to the broadcast on Wednesday.

Dakar Day 2: Sainz widens lead Dakar Day 2: Sainz widens lead
Alonso not favorite to retain title Alonso not favorite to retain titleFernando Alonso (pictured right) is only third favorite to win the 2006 world championship. That is the declaration of sports bookmaker 'betandwin', which is listing both '05 title runner-up Kimi Raikkonen, and third-placed Michael Schumacher, ahead of the sport's Spanish idol.

McLaren's 26-year-old Raikkonen (pictured left) is fetching 2.6 to 1 to dethrone Alonso, with Schumacher at 3/1 to win back the trophy in his red Ferrari.

Next up, the youngest ever F1 title winner - Alonso - at 5/1 to defend his drivers' crown. Kimi's teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya, is listed at 5.5/1, followed by Jenson Button (20/1), Felipe Massa, Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli (all 25/1).

A tasty outsider bet might be Williams rookie Nico Rosberg, 100/1.

President Bush appoints Kahne President Bush appoints KahnePresident George W. Bush announced his intention to nominate three individuals and appoint seventeen individuals to serve in his Administration: The President intends to nominate Alexander A. Karsner, of Virginia, to be Assistant Secretary of Energy (Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy). Mr. Karsner currently serves as Managing Director for Enercorp, LLC. Prior to this, he served as Director of Development & Senior Development Manager for Wartsila Power Development & Wartsila Diesel Development Ltd. He also served as Chief of Staff for the Honorable Moses Cheng Mo-Chi, former Member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. Earlier in his career, Mr. Karsner served as International Project Director for Tondu Energy Systems. Mr. Karsner received his bachelor's degree from Rice University and his master's degree from Hong Kong University. The President intends to nominate Donald R. DePriest, of Mississippi, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority, for a term to expire on May 18, 2009. The President intends to nominate Vince J. Juaristi, of Virginia, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, for the remainder of a five year term expiring February 8, 2009. The President intends to appoint seventeen individuals to be Members of the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation, for two-year terms, including Kasey Kahne, driver of the #9 Dodge for Evernham Motorsports. White House website
American Le Mans Series launches new world class look American Le Mans Series launches new world class lookFor the first time in its history, the American Le Mans Series today unveiled a new look for the 2006 season and beyond.  The new visual identity is the result of a comprehensive year-long brand positioning and strategic communications analysis commissioned by the Series and conducted by Haymarket Worldwide. The study affirmed that the seven-year-old American Le Mans Series has become one of the fastest growing race series in North America as well as worldwide and is perceived by all constituents as the "premium brand" of motorsports.

The Haymarket Worldwide analysis extended to the many and varied 'publics' involved in the Series, including automobile and tire manufacturers, team owners, business and broadcast executives, corporate partners and fans. In the end, the Haymarket project concluded in both quantitative and qualitative terms that the Series was unique among the many top-level motorsports series because it reflects certain important attributes not commonly found in motorsports properties. Words such as premium, luxury, authentic, sophisticated, high tech/leading edge, endurance, prestigious, romantic, style, élan and exotic were all frequently used to describe the American Le Mans Series.

The Haymarket analysis established three major Series-related points:

· The American Le Mans Series has established itself as a pedigree sports car racing series - THE luxury brand of North American motorsports, born from the roots of the world's most prestigious and renowned auto race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

· The American Le Mans Series embodies the creation of a unique competitive platform featuring aspirational automotive and related brands, directly addressing the needs and interests of fans and the associated lifestyle.

· The American Le Mans Series delivers ultra-high performance and high-technology auto racing competition via its four-class structure - a unique format that addresses both the need for cutting edge technology with the prototype classes and the relevance of GT racing with its direct link to the showroom floor.  zzzz

"The American Le Mans Series has seen tremendous growth since its inception in 1999 when Dr. Don Panoz convinced the ACO that America needed an elite sports car series based on the 24 Hours of Le Mans rules and brand," said American Le Mans Series President and CEO Scott Atherton. "However, a lot has happened in the past seven years, both with the American Le Mans Series and with motorsports in general, and we felt it was critically important to confirm our positioning.

"The results of the branding study provided us with the foundation we and our stakeholders were looking for. We thought we were on the right track, but this study confirmed it. The next step was for us to define our look - not just a revised logo, but also a color pallet, a type font and a proprietary structure to everything we do. We are very pleased with the results, and while change at any level is always challenging, I think people will agree this provides us and all our partners with a world-class look and feel."

Haymarket's study concluded the Series is one of the few motorsports brands outside of Formula One that has sufficient upscale cachet to compete for status with golf, tennis and sailing.

"The stakeholders (manufacturers, sponsors, fans, etc.) of the American Le Mans Series clearly have upscale tendencies, characteristics and aspirations," said Paul Pfanner, President of Haymarket USA. "There is an aura about the world's most sophisticated sports cars and marks that this series delivers like no other.

"When we designed the updated logo, we were looking for a symbol that reflected sophistication and elegance yet would be symbolic to the industry. The modified oval logo reflects the sophisticated rounded curves of the sports car and its lights and mirrors, with a leading edge technology look."

All future Series materials will display the new graphics. All media outlets will be provided with the new logo specifications and encouraged to switch to the new Series look. In addition, teams, manufacturers and corporate partners will be provided with a graphics manual pertaining to proper usage of the logo and other branding guidelines.

"This is more than simply a new logo," said Atherton. "Everything we do in terms of marketing, promotions, broadcasting, advertising and race event activities is intended to reflect the American Le Mans Series as a brand of classic sophistication and authenticity - all done in a world-class manner.

"As a result, the Series will continue to aggressively develop upscale corporate partnerships and related opportunities with lifestyle publications and activities that reflect our upscale demographics and brand position."

The Series' world-class look will be further enhanced by the many new state-of-the-art technologies and race cars that have recently come to the Series. "The diesel powered Audi R10, the Porsche RS Spyder prototype, the next generation Corvette C6-R as well as Aston Martin, Maserati, Saleen, BMW, Lexus, Mazda, Lola and Panoz are all premium brands in their own right," added Atherton.

"This is an excellent way for us to kick-off 2006 and our eighth season. I fully expect this to be the best overall season in the history of the American Le Mans Series, and today's announcement is just the first of what will be many more positive developments to follow."

An inaugural application of the American Le Mans Series branding and look is evidenced in its 2006 calendar that is offered online at the Series' official Web site.

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