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Rolex testing Day 1: No. 10 SunTrust fastest  Jeff Gordon is usually turning laps at Daytona International Speedway on the famed 2.5-mile tri-oval in his No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet.

But on Thursday, for the first time in his career at "The World Center of Racing," Gordon was behind the wheel of a sports car tackling the twists and turns of the 3.56-mile road course.

During the first day of the three-day Rolex 24 At Daytona test session, Gordon, a four-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion and three-time Daytona 500 winner, was behind the wheel of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley as he continues preparation for his first start in the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 27-28. More ...

SunTrust Racing Daytona Driver Lineup Announced  The No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley team of newly formed Wayne Taylor Racing announced the final addition to its four-driver lineup during today's opening of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series' annual three-day test at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Denmark's Jan Magnussen - the Formula One, Champ Car and sports car veteran who co-drove the SunTrust Racing machine to victory at Laguna Seca and to the pole position at Infineon Raceway in six appearances with the team last season - returns for this year's 24-hour classic Jan. 27-28 to join regulars Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli, and NASCAR star Jeff Gordon, who will be making his first career Rolex 24 appearance. Magnussen is a two-time class winner with the Corvette factory team at both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans sports car events. It will be his first Rolex 24 with the SunTrust team. More ...

Kenny Bernstein to renew NHRA Funny Car license  LAS VEGAS - Six-time NHRA world champion Kenny Bernstein electrified the drag racing world last September when he announced he was making a comeback to the sport after retiring in 2003*.  Bernstein, who has earned two Top Fuel Dragster championships as well as four Funny Car titles and 69 national-event victories, will return to the driver's seat Jan. 19-21 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the sixth annual Nitro Blast-off test session for professional NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series teams.  Since Bernstein has retired as a driver, he also will have to renew his NHRA Funny Car license in Las Vegas.

A photo of his new Dodge Charger Funny Car, to be sponsored by Monster Energy Drink and Lucas Oil, is not available because it will be unveiled and initially photographed at The Strip at LVMS Jan. 19.  The three-day test session is open to the public and drag racing fans will get a sneak peak at their favorite drivers and the new cars before the 2007 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season begins.

"We will be debuting our Monster Energy/Lucas Oil Funny Car team this season," said Bernstein.   "Because we're a new team, it's important for me to get as much seat time as possible, and for the team to find a comfort zone with the tune-up.

"Also very importantly, I will have to renew my license to drive a Funny Car. In order to renew my Funny Car license, I will have to make two runs of 5.50 seconds or quicker and two runs of 250 mph or faster.  We hope to accomplish this early in the session so we can concentrate on tune-up combinations." More ...

racing news
Goodwin convicted of killing Mickey Thompson  PASADENA, California -- Michael Goodwin, once a high-living motorsports promoter, was convicted of two counts of murder Thursday in the 1988 ambush killings of Mickey Thompson and the racing legend's wife.

The jury also found that special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and multiple murder were true. The prosecution has said it will not seek the death penalty.

Goodwin was a former business partner of Thompson, a posthumous Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee who pursued land-speed records and drove everything from dragsters and funny cars to midgets.

Goodwin, 61, was accused of planning the murders and hiring hit men to commit them. The prosecution has said it will not seek the death penalty.

The killing of Thompson and his wife, Trudy, seemed to be the ultimate "cold case." But Thompson's sister kept the pressure on to solve it.

In the beginning, it seemed to be the perfect crime.

Two unknown assailants on bicycles penetrated the gated confines of Thompson's home, shot him and his wife as they left for work, then escaped through a wooded area where a car could not have traveled. More of AP article

2007 IndyCar Series season around the corner  It seems like only last week when Sam Hornish Jr. was posing with the Borg-Warner Trophy at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Next week his likeness will be unveiled on the iconic slice of sports memorabilia.

The 2007 IndyCar Series season is quickly approaching. The 17-event schedule kicks off with a prime-time race, a first in Indy-style racing on March 24 at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway (8 p.m. ET on ESPN2). Open Tests on Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at Daytona International Speedway and Feb. 21-22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway will give fans a preview of the upcoming season.

Anticipation for another close duel already is growing. Last year, 2005 series champion Dan Wheldon held off the hard-charging Helio Castroneves by 0.0147 of a second, the ninth-closest finish in series history.

"It's a great racetrack, and I've had a lot of success there," said Hornish of Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he has posted three victories in six races. "I look at that track as someplace that I love starting the year out because it seems I usually get a good start in the points. I like the night races and I think it will be a great show there."

Here's a quick recap of the schedule by the numbers:  More ...

Graham Rahal’s 18th Birthday wish  Graham Rahal turns 18 today, but he has already established himself as a talented race driver.  No longer a 'minor', Bobby Rahal's son finally reaches official adulthood. Celebrations have been put on hold for a few days with the young racer traveling to Florida today, ahead of testing at Daytona with Southard Motorsports.

Marking this milestone, Rahal has compiled his birthday wish list.

A Champ Car drive "Fingers crossed I'll be in a new car on January 20th"

Daytona 24 Hours "I hope I'll get another shot at going the distance!"

An F1 test "I've driven all sorts of cars, but not these power rockets!"

Un pilote 24 Heures du Mans  "It's the holy grail of sportscar racing. I need to live the dream.."

Winning "Whatever the car, I just want to be winning!"

Unsurprisingly Rahal is intent on securing his dream job for this season with a drive in the Champ Car World Series. Winter tests with Newman Haas racing have fired up the youngster and his immediate goal is to be behind the wheel of the new Panoz Champ Car at the first testing opportunity in late January.  More ...

Kumho, Intersport team up for 2007  Eager to compete again for class wins and championships in the American Le Mans Series, Intersport Racing and Kumho Tire USA will team together in the Series' highly competitive LMP2 class for the 2007 season. The Kumho-shod, AER-powered Intersport Lola B05/40 will turn its first competitive laps at the 55th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 17.

Kumho and Intersport will join other Series teams and manufacturers at the third annual American Le Mans Series Winter Test from January 22-24 at Sebring International Raceway. Kumho also will supply tires to P2 teams B-K Motorsports and van der Steur Racing.

"We are eager to begin working with Intersport," said Rudy Consolacion, Kumho's motorsports manager. "Intersport is an independent team that has proven it can go head-to-head with the big factory teams. The addition of Intersport to the Kumho mix gives us a good shot at winning races and competing for the class championship in 2007."

Intersport won the LMP2 class championship in 2003 and 2005. The team also won the LMP2 class at the 2004 24 Hours of Le Mans. Competing against the Penske Porsches and the rest of the LMP2 field in 2006, Intersport scored three class wins, including a P2 victory and second overall at Sebring. For 2007, both Penske Motorsports and Dyson Racing will campaign Porsche RS Spyders. There also will be three Acura-powered entries in a class full of depth and world-class quality. More ...

Cedric the Entertainer to Appear on "The Late Show with David Letterman"  Cedric the Entertainer, a partner in Team Minardi USA, will be on “The Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS tonight to promote his new movie Code Name: The Cleaner.  Cedric who earned his first win as a Champ Car team co-owner with Nelson Philippe at Australia this past season, has starred in the Barbershop movies and more recently Be Cool, Madagascar, the Honeymooners and Johnson's Family Vacation.  Cedric had just wrapped filming of Code Name: The Cleaner when he announced a partnership with HVM racing to form CTE Racing -HVM in October 2005. 

Last year CTE Racing -HVM recorded one win and one Bridgestone Pole Award in 2006 with its drivers Nelson Philippe and Dan Clarke.  Philippe used a late season surge to finish a team best fourth in the final points standings.

F1 Update  INDIANAPOLIS - New driver pairings, a talented crop of rookie drivers and new rules, including "Fan Friendly Fridays," are among the changes that will create a different look and add excitement and intrigue to the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship season that includes the United States Grand Prix on June 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Each of the top three teams in 2006 - Renault, Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes - has a different driver lineup in 2007.

Two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso has left Renault to join McLaren-Mercedes this year. He partners rookie Lewis Hamilton, who will be the first ever driver with African-Caribbean heritage to race in F1.

Rookie Heikki Kovalainen has been promoted from his testing role to replace Alonso as Giancarlo Fisichella's teammate at Renault.

Former McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen has signed with Ferrari. He takes over from seven-time World Champion and five-time United States Grand Prix winner Michael Schumacher, who retired after a stellar, record-setting career. More ...

Richard Childress' Brother Dies  Mr. Larry J. Childress, 59, of Pfafftown passed away on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007, at his home. He was born Sept. 5, 1947, to the late Robert Reed and Virginia Harrell Childress. Mr. Childress was a member of Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church, where at one time he was a member of the United Methodist Men's Fellowship.

Racing was his life and joy. He was associated with NASCAR for the past 25 years in many different aspects. He also was affiliated with RCR Promotions and most recently with Childress Properties. He was an avid motorcyclist and loved the outdoors.

He is survived by his loving wife of 38 years, Judy C. Childress; a son, Larry C. Childress; two grandchildren, Carter Jackson Childress, 2 years old and Avery Michelle Childress, 4 months old, two sisters, Linda Cline and husband Thomas of Cherokee and Becky Hodge and husband Johnny of Winston-Salem; two brothers, Richard Childress and wife Judy Kay of Lexington and Ronnie Childress and wife Debbie of Winston-Salem.

A funeral service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, at Hayworth-Miller Silas Creek Chapel, with the Rev. Richard W. Payne officiating. Burial will follow at Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5, at Hayworth-Miller Silas Creek Chapel. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Victory Junction Gang Camp, 4500 Adam's Way, Randleman, NC 27317. Journal Now

Gomez joins Sam Schmidt Motorsports  Sam Schmidt Motorsports added Indiana native Logan Gomez to its 2007 Indy Pro Series driver lineup Jan. 4, signing the 18-year-old to a one-year contract with an option for 2008. Previously, the team signed two-time race winner Alex Lloyd for the season.

Gomez was one of only two 17-year-olds to have competed in the Indy Pro Series. The Crown Point, Ind., native finished 10th in the Liberty Challenge on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in June.
"I couldn't be more pleased with our program for this coming season," Gomez said. "This will be the best environment for me to pursue my dream of competing at the Indianapolis 500. The team has won two of the past three driver championships in the Indy Pro Series and is the most successful team in the series' history. Everyone within the team is very professional and easy to get on with so I am sure we are going to have a lot of fun and a lot of success." More ...

Finley to lead No. 36 team  Bill Davis Racing (BDR) announced today that Derrick Finley will serve as crew chief for the No. 36 OTC 360 team and driver Jeremy Mayfield. In addition, the team has added several key employees to its organization.

“Derrick has been an important part of the Bill Davis Racing organization for several years,” stated team owner Bill Davis. “We look forward to once again giving him the opportunity to utilize his abilities both as an engineer and as a leader. He and Jeremy have had the chance to get to know one another over the past couple of months and we think the two of them will make a powerful and successful combination.” More ...

Track News
Blair promoted to VP at LVMS  LAS VEGAS - Chris Blair, who has served as senior director of drag-racing and dirt-track operations at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the past five years, has been promoted to vice president of racing operations.

LVMS also announced the promotion of Jodi Allen to director of ticket services and Julian Hernandez to housekeeping manager.

In his new role, Blair will oversee the operation of the Bullring and will continue his management of The Strip and the half-mile dirt track.

"Chris has done an outstanding job in helping make The Strip the premier drag-racing facility in the country," said Chris Powell, LVMS general manager. "In his five-plus years here, he has developed our Midnight Mayhem program, brought world-class drifting to the speedway and made the dragstrip a favorite among race fans and competitors. And we're confident that Chris's efforts will be equally effective at the Bullring." Allen and Hernandez are longtime employees of LVMS. More ...

Monster Energy joins forces with Robby Gordon  CORONA, Calif. – Monster Energy and Robby Gordon Off-Road have entered into an agreement that will team Monster Energy with Gordon’s world-wide off-road racing efforts including the famed Dakar Rally and the team’s SCORE International Trophy Truck program.

The Dakar Rally, arguably the world’s most demanding and grueling motorsports event, will start Jan. 6 in Lisbon, Portugal and end Jan. 21 in Dakar, Senegal – 6,500 miles and seven countries later.  The SCORE International Off-Road series consists of six races, including the Baja 500 and the granddaddy of all off-road races the Baja 1000. 

Gordon, who last month teamed to win his third Baja 1000, will drive the Monster Energy Hummer H3 in the Dakar Rally with co-driver Andy Grider and will be a co-driver in the Monster Energy Trophy Truck in the Baja 500 in June and the Baja 1000 in November.  Monster Energy and a Team Gordon driver will compete for a SCORE Series championship in 2007. More ...

Krohn Racing prepares for Rolex 24 test  The two-car Krohn Racing Daytona Prototype team will utilize the opportunity to test this week in the annual Daytona Test Days on January 4-6, 2007 at Daytona International Speedway. Test days are scheduled for January 27-28, 2007 as preparation for Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series 45th Annual Rolex 24 At Daytona race.

After winning the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Driver’s Championship last year and finishing second in the Team Championship, the Krohn Racing team will be watched closely by the other competitors. The impressive driver line-up includes team owner/driver Tracy Krohn and Nic Jönsson in the No. 75 entry. Rolex 24 teammate Boris Said will not be at the test due a previous obligation. Driving the No. 76 Krohn entry will be the sensational young Colin Braun, former Grand-Am Driver Champion Max Papis and endurance hotshoe JJ Lehto.

Tracy Krohn:
Regarding the Krohn Racing drivers for 2007:
“We have drivers on this team that know how to win and do not have to prove they can. This makes it easy to manage because everyone wants to win and has the patience to do so. My co-driver, Nic Jönsson, is as quick as or quicker than anyone out there, but doesn’t feel as though he has to put the car at risk to prove it. Max Papis is the same way and again has nothing to prove. Colin, although young enough to be my grandson, is also a champion and probably would have shared the driver championship last year had it not been for the unfortunate requirements that prevented him from contesting three events.  Having said that, he has a maturity about him that cannot be denied. JJ Lehto has also won championships in many different formats, and like our other drivers, has nothing to prove. Although I had only met him once before, I was immediately impressed by his quiet confidence and demeanor. He is yet another world-class driver that will enhance this team in its quest for another championship.” More ...

BAM Racing solidifies 2007 plans  BAM Racing announced today that Mike Bliss will return as driver of the No. 49 WhatsOnline.com Dodge heading into the 2007 Nextel Cup Series season. In addition, the team is pleased to welcome veteran crew chief Lee McCall to lead the team into what promises to be its best season to date.

Bliss, a Milwaukie, Ore. native, has built an impressive resume across NASCAR’s three elite divisions. He has captured wins in both the former Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series, including a championship title. He last competed in the Nextel Cup Series on a full-time basis in 2005. That season, he earned five top-10 and 10 top-15 starts with a total of two top-10 and nine top-15 finishes.

Bliss joined BAM Racing toward the end of last season amidst restructuring efforts for the team. In just seven attempted starts with BAM Racing, he qualified on time for six events with an average starting position of 27.0 and an average finish of 32.8. He garnered attention in Atlanta and Charlotte by nearly capturing top-10 finishes in both events. More ...

tv news
ESPN signs Office Depot as sponsor for NASCAR coverage  ESPN is revving up its ad sales efforts as it returns to the NASCAR field this year.

The cable sports giant has already signed Office Depot to a marketing partnership involving NASCAR and is close to several deals to sell key on-air sponsorships.
NASCAR draws the second-highest rating of any sport on TV. Last year, its ratings on broadcast and cable were up more than 10 percent, but its remarkable six years of acceleration showed signs of slowing as ratings for the final 10 Nextel Cup races were down about 10 percent from the prior year.

Despite that, NASCAR was able to sign rich new television deals in December with Fox (including FX and Speed Channel), Turner Sports and ESPN/ABC, which is replacing NBC Sports in the driver's seat. The new deals will bring in $4.5 billion for the eight-year period, up 40 percent. ESPN is paying about $270 million a year for its part of the package. More ...

tv news
Rolex 24 on FOX and SPEED  SPEED and FOX Sports will offer team coverage of the 45th running of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona on Jan. 27-28, adding Sports Car racing to the growing list of events benefiting from expanded audience reach in 2007. In addition to the Rolex 24, SPEED and FOX Sports also recently announced they will work together on coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for the next eight years and Formula One™ for the next three years.

“The Rolex 24 At Daytona is one of the coolest events in all of motor sports,” said Hunter Nickell, SPEED Executive VP & General Manager. “Over the last few years, it has really grown in stature, with more and more drivers from various global disciplines lining up to participate. To be able to team with our partners at FOX Sports and Grand American Road Racing for the first 90 minutes in 2007 will give even more fans a chance to tune in to a true endurance classic and give casual viewers an opportunity to get a taste of American Sports Car racing.” More ...

Nannini and Herbert join Masters  The Grand Prix Masters series is gathering strength and pace with the announcement today of four new drivers, a new engine deal and a switch from Avon to Michelin tires.

The series, which is likely to feature four races around the world this year, will welcome former Grand Prix winners Alessandro Nannini and Johnny Herbert as well as Roberto Moreno and Raul Boesel.

Italian Nannini was destined for further success, and rumored to be moving from Benetton to Ferrari, when he was involved in a helicopter accident that severed one of his hands. In an operation involving micro surgery the hand was re-attached but his top level racing days were finished. Since then he has raced touring cars but this will be his first return to single seater racing cars.

The cars will run this year with Mecachrome engines, as opposed to the original Cosworth units, thanks to a deal put together by driver Eddie Cheever, and with Michelin tires via an arrangement brokered by French veteran Rene Arnoux.

Races are scheduled on a street circuit in Bucharest, Kyalami in South Africa, the Losail circuit in Qatar, and at one other ‘surprise’ venue yet to be announced.

Series Director Bob Berridge said “"It's all a manifestation of a series that is now moving into an established position after all the normal start-up fire-fighting and cavalry charges, and we are now ready to really begin to exploit the potential of the Grand Prix Masters concept."

Fisichella admits pressure on for 2007  (GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella has refused to shy away from reports that 2007 is probably his last chance to shine in a front running F1 racer.

The Roman scored two wins compared to former Renault teammate Fernando Alonso's fourteen in the past two seasons, and it is suggested that Flavio Briatore only extended Fisichella's contract for 2007 to ensure continuity as rookie Heikki Kovalainen joins the team.

"I am under pressure," Fisichella, who turns 34 later this month, admitted to F1's official website, "because I have to lead the team."

He said: "I am comfortable with pressure and I have lived with it all my life so for me it is just another challenge, that's all."

Fisichella thinks he can push for the 2007 championship, even though in the pre-Christmas tests so far, young Finn Kovalainen usually set the Renault-powered pace.

But the Italian rhetorically quipped: "Badoer was (also) quicker than Massa at Ferrari (but) do you think that Luca is going to replace Felipe just because he was quicker at the test?"

Champ Car Sets New Commercial Television Exposure Records  After a new television package delivered record-setting exposure for its commercial partners in 2005, the Champ Car World Series spent much of its preseason planning for ways to increase its return on investment for its ever-growing list of corporate partners and sponsors.

The 2006 year-end Joyce Julius Sponsor Report showed that the efforts paid large dividends for North America’s top open-wheel series, with exposure value, sponsor mentions and exposure time all setting new records for the Champ Car World Series.

Overall exposure value for series and team sponsors totaled $120,677,985 in 2006, an increase of nearly 22 percent over last year’s record-setting numbers. The exposure value calculated by the Joyce Julius reports is based on exposure time and mentions multiplied by an estimated cost per 30-second commercial rate. The rates were also calculated to reflect the network airing the broadcast, which in 2006 included live broadcasts on NBC, CBS Sports and SPEED as well as race replays on SPEED.  More ...

racing news
Todt, Loeb honored by France  Ferrari's team chief Jean Todt and three-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb have been awarded the prestigious Legion d'Honneur, France's highest award.

Todt, who had already been named Commandeur of the Legion d'Honneur in 2001, will now be titled Grand Officier by the Prime Ministry.

Grand Officier is France's second highest honor, behind Grand-Croix and ahead of Commandeur, Officier and Chevalier.

Loeb will get the Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur title by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Martin's early 2007 schedule announced  Mark Martin, who will run a limited Nextel Cup schedule for the first time since 1987, will once more run the Bud Shootout and the Daytona 500. Martin's Ginn Racing team announced the first 14 races of the 47-year-old driver's limited 2007 Cup schedule Tuesday. Martin will compete in the #01 Army-sponsored Chevy in 2007, sharing the ride with rookie Regan Smith. Martin returns for both the Bud Shootout and Nextel All-Star Challenge non-points events. In addition to the season-opener at Daytona, he'll also compete at California Speedway (Feb. 25), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 11), Atlanta Motor Speedway (March 18), Texas Motor Speedway (April 15), Phoenix International Raceway (April 21), Richmond International Raceway (May 5), Darlington Raceway (May 12), Lowe's Motor Speedway (May 27), Dover International Speedway (June 3), Pocono Raceway (June 10) and Michigan International Speedway (June 17). Due any unforeseen circumstances, when Martin skips the March 25 race at Bristol Motor Speedway, he'll snap a string of 617 consecutive starts dating back to Feb. 14, 1988. Martin's first "car of tomorrow" race will be at Phoenix. Smith will compete at Bristol Motor Speedway (March 25), Martinsville Speedway (April 1) and Talladega Superspeedway (April 29). The remainder of Martin's schedule will be announced later this year. SceneDaily.com
Cup teams to test at Kentucky  #19-Elliott Sadler, #10-Scott Riggs and #55-Michael Waltrip were scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway on Wednesday, Jan 3rd and #21-Ken Schrader and #21-Jon Wood are scheduled to test there on Tues. January 9th. Fans can watch from the Turn 3 Fan Center at no charge. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary. Kentuckyspeedway.com
Industry News
Goodyear to offer buyouts to cut 400 workers  Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. will offer buyouts of as much as $40,000 to cut their work force by as many as 400 to reduce labor costs.  The buyout offers will be made by February. Employees who accept them get a one-time cash payment equal to $2,000 for each year they worked at the company, with a maximum payment of $40,000 and a minimum of $8,000. The workers will be eligible for health-care benefits granted to retirees.

The retirement incentives will be offered at four union plants and are part of a new three-year contract union workers ratified last week, said United Steelworkers of America spokesman Wayne Ranick. The accord ended a three-month strike.

Webber's F1 winning potential unknown  (GMM) Former F1 racer Mark Blundell has questioned Mark Webber's ability to emerge from the midfield and become a grand prix winner.

40-year-old Blundell, whose most famous tenure in F1 was with McLaren in 1995, noted Webber's highly rated talents but said the Australian has yet to prove himself in Minardi, Jaguar and Williams cockpits.

Webber, 30, will be David Coulthard's teammate at Red Bull in 2007, where the Renault-powered 'RB3' has been penned by championship winning designer Adrian Newey.

"Webber still has a strong set of results behind him but nothing, as yet, to say he is a potential grand prix winner because he hasn't been in the right car," Blundell is quoted as saying by the major Australian broadsheet Sydney Morning Herald.

Former Champ Car race winner Blundell, however, described the Webber-Coulthard-Newey combination for '07 as "strong".

Webber, meanwhile, told the Italian magazine Autosprint that - after racing for Mercedes-Benz at Le Mans - McLaren boss Ron Dennis ended his hopes of entering F1 with the German carmaker.

He said: "Nowadays Mercedes probably has more power in the management of the F1 program, but it wasn't this way until a few years ago.

"Mercedes had a lot of respect for my work, they believed in my potential, but at McLaren the drivers never came under their discussion."

Briatore predicts ’07 struggle for F1 rivals  (GMM)  Flavio Briatore is predicting a difficult season for Renault's main F1 rivals; McLaren and Ferrari.

Despite his French squad's loss of back to back world champion Fernando Alonso to bitter enemy Ron Dennis, 56-year-old Briatore said McLaren should nonetheless expect a "tough" 2007.

The Mercedes-powered team rarely failed to win a single grand prix with Kimi Raikkonen at the wheel this year, and Briatore doubts that his former protégé Alonso, 25, is a silver bullet.

The Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "(McLaren) always have fantastic drivers, but this year their book of excuses has come to the last page."

Raikkonen, meanwhile, has moved to Ferrari, but Briatore questioned whether the Finn will be an adequate plug for the huge hole left by Michael Schumacher and the similarly departed technical director Ross Brawn.

"Ferrari without Schumacher and Brawn will be less competitive," he predicted.

"That's normal when you lose people like them."

Nurburgring notches up $22m loss  (GMM) This season's German GP venue, the Nurburgring, has recorded a nearly $22 million loss for the period in 2004 and 2005.

Reports suggested that the alarming figures, released officially on Wednesday, had been blamed on the high cost of hosting the formula one race.

Starting in 2007, Nurburgring GmbH will alternate the annual privilege of running the German grand prix with Hockenheim, which also ran into financial trouble during the course of last year.

Reports indicated that exorbitantly high wages might also be an explanation for the Nurburgring's losses, although it is true that formula one spectator figures have recently been in decline.

Referring to the criticism, circuit boss Walter Kafitz told 'dpa': "For us this is nothing new.

"With the exception of formula one, we are in the black for all of our other activities."

[Editor's Note: As we have always said, every F1 race prompter loses their shirt while Bernie rakes them over the coals.]

Industry News
Toyota developing technology to stop drunk drivers  Toyota Motor Corp. is developing a fail-safe system for cars that detects drunken drivers and automatically shuts the vehicle down if sensors pick up signs of excessive alcohol consumption, a news report said today.  Cars fitted with the detection system will not start if sweat sensors in the driving wheel detect high levels of alcohol in the driver’s bloodstream, according to a report carried by the mass-circulation daily, Asahi Shimbun.

The system could also kick in if the sensors detect abnormal steering, or if a special camera shows that the driver’s pupils are not in focus. The car is then slowed to a halt, the report said.

The world’s No. 2 automaker hopes to fit cars with the system by the end of 2009, according to the report. Calls to Toyota’s headquarters in Nagoya rang unanswered on Wednesday, a public holiday. More at AP article

Industry News
Ford edges out Toyota as No. 2  Ford Motor Co. held off Toyota Motor Corp. as the No. 2 U.S. vehicle seller in December despite a nearly 13 per cent sales drop compared with December of last year. Ford sold a total of 231,900 light vehicles in December, with Toyota just below the Dearborn-based auto maker at 228,322, the auto makers reported Wednesday. But Toyota's sales for the month, continued to increase, up more than 12 per cent when compared with December of last year.

Like Ford, the world's largest auto maker General Motors Corp. reported December sales fell 13 per cent. It sold to 334,501 vehicles last month compared with 384,620 in the same month of 2005.

Some analysts had expected Ford's sales would drop enough in December for Toyota to take the No. 2 spot. But even though truck sales declined dramatically for the month, car sales rose enough to stay ahead of the Japanese auto maker.

Toyota beat Ford in July and November, and some analysts have predicted that it will overtake Ford as the No. 2 seller of automobiles in the U.S. in 2007.

For the year, Ford's sales were down about 8 per cent to 2,918,674, due largely to a decline in truck and sport utility vehicle sales and the end of production for the Taurus sedan.

For the year, GM sales dropped 8.7 per cent from 4,454,385 to 4,065,341. More from Associated Press

Porsche factory builds special car for Grand-Am  SANTA ANA, Calif. - For the first time since it started building 911 Cup race cars more than 15 years ago, Porsche Motorsports has built Cup cars to specific series rules.

The factory has constructed 12 - 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars to for the 2007 Rolex Grand-Am series customers in accordance with current Grand-Am GT rules. The cars should be delivered to the teams which ordered them by the January 4 - 6, 2007 Grand-Am test days at Daytona International Speedway.

"Our Grand-Am customers have worked hard in the past modifying our Cup cars to meet Grand-Am specifications, so when we asked if they would like to purchase a car that was a turn-key racer for the series, we received a very positive response," said Uwe Brettel, president of Porsche Motorsport North America, the subsidiary of the factory responsible for selling race cars and competition parts for the Porsche factory in the U.S. and Canada. More ...

skip barber
Skip Barber professional development series publishes 2007 schedule  LAKEVILLE, Conn. The Skip Barber National has released its 2007 schedule, a seven-weekend, 14-race championship that opens mid-March at the Mobil 1 12-Hours of Sebring. Six of the seven National events - there are two 30-minute races per weekend - are in support of big spectator shows: one with Champ Car, two with Grand-Am, one with ALMS, a NASCAR Busch East round and one with the emergent NASA street stock series.

Also, as part of the just-announced long term partnership between Skip Barber Racing and Mazda North American Operations, the 2007 champion of the Skip Barber National will be awarded a full  season in the 2008 Star Mazda Championship – a significant increase in value from the $100,000 Career Enhancement Award of years past. And arguably the single most valuable reward offered by any development series in the world.

Todd Snyder, vice president of racing for Skip Barber, said, “The National already has a solid reputation for introducing and developing star talent to the racing world,” citing A.J. Allmendinger, Scott Speed and Marco Andretti as the most recent proof.  “Drivers succeeding on the Mazda ladder that now starts with Skip Barber, stepping up to Star Mazda and then the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, is an incredibly efficient, not to mention exciting, system for developing the next generation of racing stars.” More ...

Johnson, Earnhardt Jr. lead drivers for first test  Reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and top-10 finishers Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne lead the group of 24 drivers scheduled for the opening test session that begins Monday at Daytona International Speedway.

The first group of Cup teams is scheduled to test Monday through Wednesday, with Thursday as a rain date.

The second group, which includes runner-up Matt Kenseth and top-10 finishers Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Mark Martin and Kyle Busch, will test Jan. 15-17, with Jan. 18 scheduled as a rain date. A total of 30 teams are scheduled to test in that session, including heralded rookie Juan Pablo Montoya, the former Indy 500 winner and Formula One driver from Columbia who will compete for Chip Ganassi Racing.  Scenedaily.com

industry news
Home Depot CEO resigns abruptly  Bob Nardelli abruptly resigned Wednesday as chairman and chief executive of The Home Depot Inc. [Tony Stewart sponsor] after a six-year tenure that saw the world's largest home improvement store chain post big profits but left investors disheartened by poor stock performance. Nardelli has also been under fire by investors for his hefty pay and is leaving with a severance package valued at about $210 million. He became CEO in December 2000 after being passed over for the top job at General Electric Co., where Nardelli had been a senior executive. Home Depot said Nardelli was being replaced by Frank Blake, its vice chairman, effective immediately. Blake's appointment is permanent, Home Depot spokesman Jerry Shields said. What he will be paid was not immediately disclosed, Shields said. Associated Press
Rudd to run No. 88 for Yates  Sources close to Robert Yates Racing told ESPN.com Wednesday that Ricky Rudd's Snickers Ford will carry the #88 in 2007. An announcement is expected as soon as this weekend, one source said. Since the mid-December announcement that Rudd would return to Nextel Cup Series racing following a year layoff, considerable speculation has centered on what number his RYR Ford would carry. Team officials were undecided and a bit evasive during a conference call following the announcement, leading many to speculate the number would switch to# 28 -- the number carried by Yates' first-ever Cup Series entry from its inception through 2003, when the car was switched to #38. Asked his preference, Rudd said he'd take the #28, which he drove for Yates from 2000-2002, posting three wins and 34 top-five finishes. But he'll get the #88, a decision made based on a 2002 agreement between RYR and Texaco/Havoline, sources said. The agreement, sources said, was that RYR could keep the #28 when Texaco left for Chip Ganassi Racing [#42 Dodge], but that Yates would wait several years to run the number. Yates and Masterfoods -- Snickers' parent company -- wanted to run the #28, but couldn't reach the required agreement with Texaco to do so, sources said. ESPN.com
Kerr named Reutimann’s crew chief  Frank Kerr will replace Larry Carter as crew chief for #00-David Reutimann at Michael Waltrip Racing. Carter recently left MWR to become the crew chief for #26-Jamie McMurray at Roush Racing. "Frankie has been running our testing and Reutimann has been our test driver because everybody else has been busy," Waltrip said. "They've had some wonderful tests and have worked real well together." An official announcement is expected over the next few days. Kerr, a former car chief for #7-Robby Gordon and crew chief for Travis Kvapil in the Busch Series, will join Matt Borland (#44-Dale Jarrett) and David Hyder (#55-Waltrip) as crew chiefs for MWR's three Nextel Cup teams. ESPN.com
Andersen Racing adds co-owner, engineers  Dominic and Nicholas Cape have joined to the staff of Andersen Racing's Indy Pro Series entry for 2007, team owner Dan Andersen announced on Dec. 26.

Andersen also announced his brother John, a veteran race official and his long-time business partner, has become co-owner of the racing team.

John Andersen, who was most recently director of race operations for the Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 series, will serve as team manager for the effort while Dominic and Nicholas Cape will be chief engineer and chief mechanic, respectively.

"I've known the Capes for over 15 years," Dan Andersen said. "They fielded cars in the Formula Ford 2000 series when I was the administrator of it, and I've also raced against them as a team owner. They have had a great deal of success in the sport, including running J.R. Hildebrand this year when he dominated the Cooper Tires F2000 series. John has also worked with them closely for the last five years, and we both think they'll be great assets to Andersen Racing."

Foyt to drive Vision's 3rd car  Tony George's Indy-car team is expanding with one of the sport's more familiar names.
George will hire A.J. Foyt IV to drive his team's third car during the upcoming Indy Racing League season. Foyt, the grandson of the legendary driver, said today he expects to sign the contract later this week and will move to Indianapolis to be near the Indy-based team.

Vision Racing, which George founded in 2005, also will employ Ed Carpenter and Tomas Scheckter this season, which begins March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"I've kind of been hounding him (about a ride) for quite a while," said Foyt of George. "At this point, I don't even know who the sponsor is or what the car number is." More at Indy Star

industry news
Chrysler Group posts modest sales gain  Bucking an expected trend among U.S. automakers, the Chrysler Group today posted a 1 percent uptick in December sales. The Auburn Hills-based company wooed year-end purchasers with hefty incentives to clear out excess inventory.

Its parent, DaimlerChrysler AG, reported an overall U.S. sales decline of 1 percent for December. That contributed to an overall drop of 5 percent for 2006. The company's Mercedes-Benz USA unit ended 2006 up 11 percent over the prior year despite a 10 percent sales slump in December.

Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. are widely expected to report sales declines compared to December 2006, largely due to waning truck sales.

Analysts predict gains by overseas manufacturers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

Audi of America Inc. said it set sales records in December and for 2006 overall with 90,116 units sold. Detroit News

New home for Panoz Factory effort in 2007  Santa has delivered Panoz fans a unique gift for 2007 with the announcement today that three of the biggest names in North American sportscar racing – Panoz, Multimatic and Team PTG – will jointly launch an assault on the 2007 American Le Mans Series.

Virginia-based Team PTG will take over the day-to-day running of the two-car entry in the American Le Mans Series with Multimatic continuing to provide engineering support from its Toronto base.

PTG drivers Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand will drive one of the two entries in 2007 with 2006 Le Mans 24 Hour GT2 winner Tom Kimber-Smith joining the driver line-up for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Drivers for the second PTG Panoz entry are yet to be determined. More ...

Briatore predicts tough year for McLaren and Ferrari  Renault boss Flavio Briatore believes Formula One rivals McLaren will continue to struggle in 2007 despite signing world champion Fernando Alonso.  "It will be a tough year for them," he said, after McLaren failed to win a Grand Prix last season.

"They've always had fantastic drivers like (Kimi) Raikkonen.

"They always announce them early to demonstrate they're changing, but this year the book of excuses has come to its last page."

Briatore also suggested Ferrari will struggle after losing seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher and technical director Ross Brawn.

"Ferrari without Schumacher and Brawn will be less competitive," added Briatore.

"That's normal when you lose people like those."  BBC Sport 

track news
Vegas Grand Prix Enters New Era in Ticketing  The first-ever Vegas Grand Prix Fueled by Visa signed an agreement with New Era Tickets, the ticketing subsidiary of Philadelphia-based sports and entertainment firm Comcast-Spectacor, to be the exclusive phone and internet provider for selling tickets to this highly-anticipated, must-see event, April 6-8, 2007.

“While most aspects of this three-day festival of speed and entertainment are free to the public, we have a variety of ticketed options and prices for specific and preferred seating for race events during the weekend,” said Vegas Grand Prix President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Freudenberg.

“New Era Tickets offers an incredibly personalized service to our customers,” added Freudenberg. “It’s important for us as organizers of this terrific race to provide our fans with the ultimate entertainment experience and that begins with the ticket purchase. That’s why it was so vital for us to select New Era Tickets to sell our tickets. They have a terrific way of providing a much-needed service to us.” More ...

As expected, Franchitti re-signs with AGR  Andretti Green Racing, the winningest team in Indy Racing League history, has announced that Dario Franchitti will return for the 2007 season. Franchitti will return to the IndyCar Series with major sponsor Canadian Club® Canadian whisky in the #27 entry.  Canadian Club, in its second season of partnership with AGR, will also be an associate sponsor on AGR's IndyCar Series entries driven by Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick. 

Franchitti will be one of the team's four full-time drivers in the IndyCar Series.  He will also team with Bryan Herta and his brother, Marino Franchitti, in the XM Satellite Radio-sponsored Acura-powered Courage as AGR ventures into the American Le Mans Series LMP2 class in 2007. 

Franchitti, who owns four IndyCar Series victories and three poles, is the winningest British driver in American open-wheel history.  He has 14 victories and 14 pole positions in his open- wheel career.  This will be Franchitti's 10th season involved with the Andretti Green family.  He spent five seasons with Team Green before joining Andretti Green Racing in 2003. 

This will be the second season for Canadian Club's involvement in the IndyCar Series after the brand joined AGR at the 2006 Indianapolis 500 and for the remaining races of the 2006 schedule.  A member of the Beam Global Spirits & Wine family, Canadian Club is one of the largest and most prominent Canadian whisky brands in the world.  The brand features Canadian Club 6-year old, Canadian Club Reserve, Canadian Club Sherry Cask and Canadian Club Classic® 12. 

The season-opening race on the IndyCar Series schedule is Saturday, March 24, from Homestead-Miami Speedway.  Franchitti can also expect to see some time in the #26 XM Satellite Radio ALMS car at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the first event on the 2007 ALMS schedule.  Canadian Club will also be an associate sponsor of the #26 XM Satellite Radio ALMS car.

Bergmeister joins Flying Lizard  With an eye toward contending for another GT2 championship in the American Le Mans Series, Flying Lizard Motorsports has signed two-time class title winner Jorg Bergmeister for the full 2007 season. Bergmeister, GT2 champion in 2005 and 2006, will join Johannes van Overbeek in the team's No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

The California-based team is fielding two new 997 RSR racers from Porsche in the 12-round season. In the No. 44 entry, team principal Seth Neiman will team with last year's teammates Darren Law and Lonnie Pechnik.

"We have known Jorg for so long that it is hard to believe this marks the first time he will drive as a Lizard," Neiman said. "We are counting on his experience and competitiveness to help drive the team and again exceed our past limits. All signs point to a fierce year in GT2 with new Porsche competitors, at least two Ferrari teams, development of the 911 GT3 RSR to its full potential and an expanded schedule. It's going to be fun." More ...

Kubica scoffs at ’new generation’ claims  (GMM)  Polish rookie Robert Kubica has dismissed suggestions that he is among F1's "new generation".

The 22-year-old, who replaced Jacques Villeneuve in the BMW-Sauber race seat mid-way through last season, scoffed at claims that some of his young rivals are also shaping up as the future of the sport.

"These terms are used mainly by the media," Kubica told the EUROSPORT MotorMagazin.

He added: "There have always been young drivers with potential who enter formula one."

Kubica insisted that grouping promising drivers together as representing a "new generation" is oversimplifying the truth.

"For example, Kovalainen and Vettel are not of the same generation."

Kubica continued: "Each of us has a different car, a different team.  I find these comparisons are not useful."

He played down his meteoric rise in 2006, including a maiden podium and labels as a champion of the future, despite having only six grands prix under his belt.

"I don't think about it," Kubica insisted, "I just try to give my best.

"I simply consider myself lucky to be with BMW and I don't waste too much time having thoughts about the future."

Toyota should sign Schu as 'advisor'  (GMM)  Toyota should employ Michael Schumacher as a highly paid "advisor", according to a former racer.

Jochen Mass, who was Germany's top grand prix racer before Schumacher hit the scene, said the Japanese squad need more than Michael's brother Ralf and a mammoth budget to succeed in formula one.

"(At Toyota) too much money is senselessly spent," Mass, 60, told the EUROSPORT MotorMagazin.

He added: "Perhaps they should give Michael Schumacher $50 million to be their advisor.  Maybe he can make something happen for them."

Toyota debuted in F1 in 2002 and is yet to win a race.  Schumacher, who turned 38 on Wednesday, will be used by Ferrari as an "assistant" to team chief Jean Todt this year.

LNS Motorsport Porsche 997 campaign  Chicago, Illinois -- Bob Heniff and Mike Johnson were announced today as the drivers of the LNS Motorsport Porsche 997 to be campaigned in the 2007 Koni Challenge Grand Sport class. Both drivers have experience in the German marque and will be hoping to convert that success into strong results in the very competitive series.

Mike Johnson, owner of Archangel Motorsports, brings with him a wealth of motorsports knowledge, both as a driver and team owner. Johnson has scored five Rolex Championships serving as Team Manager for various teams including Archangel. Johnson's own driving career has at times been overshadowed by his success as a team manager. Over the years he has accumulated strong success including two professional wins in the Motorola Cup. As recently as 2006 Johnson scored a podium finish at the Petit Le Mans driving a LMPII class car. More ...

NASCAR spec engine on display  For two days in mid-January, the Exploring Motorsports Expo in Winston-Salem will seek to discuss both the technical and business aspects of the sport and to showcase career and educational opportunities in the industry. Of particular interest will be the display of NASCAR’s new “spec” motor currently used in the Grand National Series.

“The spec motor has been extremely successful in the Grand National Series, and we believe that could lead to similar programs in NASCAR’s other divisions - such as the Late Models or the Modifieds,” said Gary Nelson of Provident Race Supply which manufactures the spec motors.

NASCAR’s Bob Duvall will be on hand Sunday to answer questions about the spec motor. Duvall will also deliver a seminar on sponsorship as the keynote speaker for the expo. As NASCAR’s Director of Weekly and Contingency Programs and a former short track promoter, Duvall is well-equipped to speak on the importance of sponsorships in the modern era of short track racing. “Sponsorship dollars are so important these days,” said Duvall. “Anything I can do to help drivers and teams secure dollars is time well spent.”

The two-day Exploring Motorsports Expo will take place on Saturday, January 13 from 10:00 to 6:00 and Sunday, January 14 from 11:00 to 5:00. The event will be held at the LJVM Coliseum Complex in Winston-Salem, NC. General Admission for each day is $10. Who Won

Hylton to drive RCR car in Daytona 500  In 1966 James Harvey Hylton was named “Rookie of the Year” in NASCAR’s Grand National Division [now Nextel Cup], starting an amazing career that would span five decades. During his career, Hylton would go on to finish second in NASCAR Grand National points in 1966, and repeat that performance during the 1967 and 1971 seasons. He would also score wins in the 1970 Richmond 400, the 1970 NASCAR Grand American Citrus 250 and the 1972 Talladega 500 along with capturing four pole positions in NASCAR Winston / Nextel Cup competition. During his career, Hylton recorded 140 Top-Five finishes and 301 Top-Ten finishes in NASCAR Winston / Nextel Cup and in 2006, he finished 18th in points in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. More ...
V8 Supercars
Price and Perkins move up to V8 Supercars  JACK Daniel’s Racing will elevate V8 Supercar rookie sensations Shane Price and Jack Perkins to fulltime drives in the main V8 Supercar Championship Series for the team in the 2007 season.

The duo, who debuted in the V8 Supercar Development Series in 2006 with great success, finished second and third respectively in the feeder series and will line up in a pair of all new VE Commodores
currently under build at the Perkins Engineering workshops in Melbourne.

Perkins Jr. will assume the famous #11 numberplate run by his famous father and team boss Larry, while Price will drive the #7 Jack Daniel’s Racing Commodore.

Team boss Larry Perkins said that he had considered other experienced V8 Supercar drivers to join his outfit, but in the end decided to opt for youth, which he feels is a strong long-term strategy. More ...

V8 Supercars
Steve Richards returns to Ford with FPR in 2007  Ford Performance Racing (FPR) is delighted to formally announce that highly experienced V8 Supercar driver Steve Richards will return to Ford in 2007 and has signed a long term contract to drive for the Prodrive team.

Richards, 34, replaces Jason Bright who left the team at the completion of the 2006 season. Richards was the seventh placed driver in the 2006 Championship and has been a regular V8 Supercar contender for ten seasons. Richards has forged a solid reputation during this time for his uncompromising speed, technical knowledge and consistency.

The new FPR Falcon driver’s career has included no fewer than twelve Bathurst 1000 campaigns, with Richards racing to the top step of the Mount Panorama podium on two occasions in both 1998 & 1999. Richards’ detailed motor racing resume also includes two second places and one third place finish at Bathurst, along with many successes in other motor racing categories including Super Touring, Super Speedway and Formula Ford. More ...

Alonso can match Schu's records - engineer  (GMM)  Back to back title winner Fernando Alonso can match the achievements of F1's retiring seven time world champion Michael Schumacher.

That is the belief of an unnamed engineer, who - according to the Spanish sports newspaper El Mundo Deportivo - worked with both Alonso, 25, and Schumacher during his career in formula one.

Among others, Germany's Schumacher holds records for the number of titles, wins, pole positions, points and fastest laps, but Alonso is the youngest ever winner of two drivers' championships.

The engineer said: "I believe Fernando can equal all of Schumacher's records, if he wants to race for that long."

Alonso, however, has now officially joined McLaren, despite achieving so much with Renault.

But his predecessor at Woking based McLaren, Kimi Raikkonen, is quoted as suggesting that his own failure to win the title in a silver car may not thwart Alonso's ambition to continue winning in 2007 and beyond.

Ferrari's Raikkonen reportedly said: "I am sure that McLaren can build a winning car (this year)."

Alonso to paint 2007 helmet silver  (GMM) Fernando Alonso will replace most of the blue on his current helmet livery with the colors silver or chrome in 2007, we have learned.

It is understood that the move may have been at the behest of McLaren, as light blue is closely associated with the Spaniard and twice world champion's former team, with whom Alonso won fifteen races.

Although 25-year-old Alonso included the color on his helmet to represent his home region of Asturias, past Renault single seaters have been painted light blue for more than a decade in deference to departing title sponsor Mild Seven.

Alonso's wore an unbranded white helmet when he tested a McLaren for the first time last month.

Renault backs push for lower costs in F1  (GMM) Renault boss Flavio Briatore has backed Luca di Montezemolo's push to cut costs in formula one.

Montezemolo, the president of Ferrari, told an Italian newspaper this week that reducing spiraling expenditure is "crucial" to the sport's future.

The Milan-published Corriere della Sera said Ferrari's budget in 2006 was more than $330m.

By the German news agency 'sid', Montezemolo's countryman Briatore is quoted as saying that Renault is already "trying" to reduce costs.

He added: "In numerous areas we are beginning to use less workers than some other teams do.

"In addition we put young drivers under contract," Briatore insisted, referring to the replacement for 2007 of back to back champion Fernando Alonso with the rookie Heikki Kovalainen.

A1GP launches new website  A1GP World Cup of Motorsport today unveils its new look website, www.A1GP.com. The new and improved site offers motorsport fans around the world even greater access to the thrills of the sport which pits driver against driver and country against country for the first time in motorsport history.

New additions include an opportunity to view exclusive, never been seen before 30-second footage edits of individual teams’ race week performance on teams’ respective sites. On the main A1GP site fans can also view live streaming of each race over an event weekend, complete with full commentary from A1GP commentators Ben Edwards and John Watson and access to key statistics from the Sprint and Feature races.

A1GP.com includes a new ‘Fan Zone’ section dedicated to the fans that have made the sport a success to date. Fans can sign up to the ‘Fan Zone’ to access blogs penned by their local A1 teams and drivers, as well as A1GP forums where fans are invited to take part in debates with other supporters around the world. More ...

TV News
A1GP Indonesia race to be shown on SPEED  The Indonesia A1GP race run on December 10, 2006, will be aired on Wednesday, January 3, 4:00 pm-6:00 pm ET on SPEED.
racing news
Jurors to resume deliberation in Thompson case  UPDATE #3 Michael Goodwin, brash creator of the motor sport of super-cross and a relentless self-promoter, was certainly a "jerk," his lawyer conceded recently.

He was also an "egomaniac." A "braggart," too, she said.
But the question, which jurors return to this week, is not Goodwin's character but whether he killed his former partner, racing legend Mickey Thompson, and Thompson's wife, Trudy.

As jurors resume deliberations after a holiday break, they will do so without some of the most intriguing evidence the defense and prosecution tried to present about the slayings.

The judge excluded as irrelevant, confusing or prejudicial the sighting of a long-haired blond man near the scene of the killings and possible links to the earlier slaying of Thompson's nephew.

Prosecutors also dropped a witness who had testified that Goodwin bragged about getting away with murder.  More at LATimes.com

12/21/06 Jurors deliberating in the Mickey Thompson double-murder case asked Wednesday to have testimony by seven witnesses read back to them.

The panel asked to hear again testimony from four prosecution witnesses and three defense witnesses in the case against Michael Goodwin, 61, a former business partner of Thompson.

The request for readbacks decreased the likelihood of a verdict this week. The jury was scheduled to return to court Thursday. If no verdict, deliberations would not resume until Jan. 2. The jury also requested a half-day on Jan. 2 because of a juror's appointment.

12/20/06 Jurors began deliberations Tuesday in the case against a man accused of having racing legend Mickey Thompson and his wife murdered nearly 19 years ago.  The jury deliberated for several hours before retiring for the night. Talks were to resume Wednesday.

12/19/06 The prosecution and defense each gave their closing arguments Monday. The prosecution will give their rebuttal Tuesday morning and the case will then go to the jury.
PASADENA, Calif. - A prosecutor fell to his knees in front of a jury Monday and held his hands up to imitate a pose an eyewitness described of racing legend Mickey Thompson's wife pleading with a killer for her life moments before she and her husband were gunned down more than 18 1/2 years ago.

Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson told jurors in his closing argument that Michael Goodwin, Thompson's former partner, is guilty of the murders even though he was not present at the scene and did not pull the triggers.

Arguing for acquittal, defense attorney Elena Saris told jurors that the prosecution had created "a Hollywood version of events" that could not be supported by evidence. More ...

AIM Autosport announces full season Rolex campaign  AIM Autosport announced plans today for a full-season Daytona Prototype campaign in the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve, commencing with the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. The Toronto-based team made one Rolex Series start in 2006 to prepare for the 2007 season, and will compete with the potent Lexus-Riley combination.
AIM Autosport has proven itself as a front-running team in a wide variety of open-wheel categories since its inception in 1995, and has tapped into a driver roster with a similar background for the Rolex campaign. Longtime AIM Autosport driver Mark Wilkins, who most recently impressed while competing a partial season in the Star Mazda Series, will anchor the full season effort from behind the wheel.
Wilkins will share the driving duties throughout the year with brothers Burt and Brian Frisselle, who will alternate rounds co-driving with Wilkins.  The Frisselles will both race in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and the 24 effort will be further boosted by the addition of two-time Toyota Atlantic Champion David Empringham to the roster. The Rolex Series program will operate out of the AIM headquarters outside of Toronto, and will be run in conjunction with the multi-car Formula BMW USA and Star Mazda programs already in place. Wilkins, who will be balancing his driving duties with completing his studies in automotive management, has also taken a hands-on role in the day-to-day operations at AIM and is eagerly anticipating his rookie Rolex campaign. More ...
Paul Tracy’s New Year comes with renewed commitment  Las Vegas, Nev. – It was with great joy that 2003 Champ Car Champion, Paul Tracy watched the New Year’s Eve countdown hit midnight because that meant that a new year had begun.  While he leads the Champ Car series with 30 wins and over 4000 laps led and is, undeniably, the face of Champ Car, Tracy felt he needed to re-focus for 2007.  His passion for driving and winning would not let him just sit idle during the off-season. 

Tracy has spent his entire off-season training and preparing himself for the 2007 season in order that he will spend more time on podiums than he spent last season.  2006, while exciting for Tracy, found him spread thin among different racing series, including NASCAR. 

One thing is certain in the upcoming season and that is Tracy is focused on his #3 Forsythe Championship Racing entry in the Champ Car World Series.  In late October, Tracy announced that he was abandoning plans to participate in NASCAR in 2007 and remain loyal to Champ Car and focus on winning races for Gerry Forsythe and the Forsythe team.  Last season, Tracy signed a five-year extension with Forsythe Racing and felt the best way to reciprocate the gesture from Gerry Forsythe was to offer his full time and attention to putting his #3 Indeck car in Victory Lane in 2007.  More ...

tv news
SPEED kicks off NASCAR Season  SPEED will begin its NASCAR season with coverage of NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing days on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. ET. The 30-minute highlight shows will feature testing coverage from the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series sessions at Daytona International Speedway, giving NASCAR fans their first looks at new drivers, new teams and new race cars.

“This is going to be a huge year for SPEED and NASCAR fans,” said Hunter Nickell, SPEED Executive VP & General Manager. “High-profile events, including the Duel 150’s and the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge come to SPEED for the first time, SPEED continues as the home to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and we’ll continue to deliver the most experienced and entertaining NASCAR event coverage every weekend of the entire season.”

NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing shows on SPEED (subject to change; check local listings):
Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. ET – NASCAR Nextel Cup Series testing
Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. ET – NASCAR Nextel Cup Series testing
Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. ET – NASCAR Nextel Cup Series testing
Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. ET – Testing highlight show
Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. ET – NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series testing
Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m. ET – NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series testing
Jan. 15 at 6:30 p.m. ET – NASCAR Nextel Cup Series testing
Jan. 16 at 6:30 p.m. ET – NASCAR Nextel Cup Series testing
Jan. 17 at 6:30 p.m. ET – NASCAR Nextel Cup Series testing
Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. ET – Testing highlight show
Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. ET – NASCAR Busch Series testing   More ...

Wilson to fill champion's seat  Brian Stewart needed to replace a champion. To do so, he looked no farther than another champion. Bobby Wilson will replace Wade Cunningham as driver of the No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing entry in the Indy Pro Series in 2007.

“I’m extremely happy that Bobby is joining the team,” said Stewart, a legendary team owner who was inducted into the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2005. “He was high on our list of drivers who we would like to have driving for us. He raced for us in 2005 and sat on the front row at Infineon. Last year, he won at Watkins Glen. He’s a shifter kart champion, a (Formula Ford) Zetec champion. He’s a proven winner.”

Stewart thinks the addition of Wilson can lead to a third consecutive entrant championship for his team. Cunningham, the 2003 CIK-FIA World Karting champion, drove the team to the past two, recording four victories and 21 top-five finishes in 24 starts.

“Bobby’s extremely capable of filling Wade’s shoes,” Stewart said. “Winston Churchill said, ‘Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.’ That’s what we plan to do with Bobby. We’ll give him the car, and he’ll do his job.”  More at Indycar.com

Penske named "Man of Year"  Roger Penske received one more accolade for 2006. Automobile Magazine named the IndyCar Series team owner the auto industry’s “Man of The Year.”

“In selecting Roger Penske, we are not only celebrating his career accomplishments, but acknowledging that his impact will be felt within and outside of the automotive industry for years to come,” said Gavin Conway, the magazine’s editor in chief. “Those accomplishments are in addition to his hero status in the city of Detroit, where he chaired the recent Super Bowl committee.”

With driver Sam Hornish Jr., Penske team won the IndyCar Series championship for the first time and the Indianapolis 500 for the 14th time. He has been the driving force behind the resurrection of racing at Belle Isle. The IndyCar Series will compete on the road course on Sept. 2 for the first time. Indycar.com

Ward Burton to drive for Brewco, Kleenex® Racing  Brewco Motorsports Inc. today announced that 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton will drive the No. 27 Kleenex® Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Busch Series in 2007. Burton will drive 20 races for Brewco and Kleenex® Racing, beginning with the Daytona 300 on February 17, 2007 at Daytona International Speedway.

“I’m excited to be working with Brewco, team owner Clarence Brewer Jr., and crew chief Stewart Cooper,” Burton said, “as well as a great long-running sponsor like Kimberly-Clark. I’m also excited to be back in the Busch Series, especially with a stand-alone Busch Series team. I know Clarence is giving us the resources we need to have competitive cars each and every week.”

“We’re thrilled to have a veteran like Ward in the No. 27 Kleenex® Ford in 2007,” said Crew Chief Stewart Cooper. “We got a bit off track in 2006 and didn’t get the results we know we’re capable of. The whole Brewco team has worked extra hard this off-season to get our cars ready for 2007 and with the commitment of our guys, the support of Kimberly-Clark, and Ward’s experience and track record, we know we have the tools to win.” More ...

Endurance Karting 24 Hours of America  One of motorsport’s most challenging and exciting events is coming to Moroso Motorsports Park. The Endurance Karting 24 hours of America.

Endurance Karting will host its first-ever 24-hour race Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 6-7, 2007, at Moroso Motorsports Park in West Palm, Fla.

This world-class event has already drawn interest from competitors in America and beyond, making this truly an international event that will showcase the best endurance kart racers in the world.
Anyone who has competed in a 24-hour event knows such events test skill, patience, wits and strategy, and leave participants with an unmatched sense of accomplishment.  Part of the challenge of this event will come from the track itself.  Moroso Motorsports Park’s 13 turns, 8/10 of a mile (1,280 meters) will test the abilities of even the most proven racer.   This is not a “professionals-only” event.  Racers of all skill and experience levels are encouraged to race.  This is a great chance for professional endurance racing teams to prepare and practice driver rotations for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.  Amateur racers can gain experience and find out what it’s like to compete against the best endurance racers in the world.  However, realizing the demands this event will have on a driver, all competitors will have some experience in order to participate.  

Spectator tickets are $13 while kids 11 and under are FREE.

For more information, please call the track office at (561) 622-1400 or visit the website at www.MorosoMotorsportsPark.com.

tv news
Motorsports This Week on ESPN2  

ESPN2 will air back-to-back new episodes of Michael Waltrip Racing: A New Era, Sunday, Jan. 7, starting at 10 p.m. ET. In episode five of the documentary series, Waltrip races a Toyota for the first time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and the driver and his future teammates end the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season with a difficult weekend at the Florida track. The sixth episode airs at 11 p.m. ET and features Waltrip attending the NASCAR awards banquet in New York City. Teammate Dale Jarrett gets hand surgery and David Reutimann tests the new intermediate track Toyota at Kentucky Speedway.

A repeat episode will air earlier in the day at 10 a.m. as part of ESPN2 Garage.

Michael Waltrip Racing: A New Era is an 11-episode series that chronicles Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota’s new partnership in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.


Truck Stop, Chopper Nation and Autotrader.com DRIVE in HD, all part of the new ESPN2 Garage block of programming, will debut this weekend. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  UPDATE
Ferrari boss wants lower costs in F1
Schu splashes out on rare supercar

Fourth Spanish test track ready for F1
Ferrari 'friendlier' than McLaren - Kimi
Brawn hopes for Ferrari return in 2008
Alonso third best champ in '06 - L'Equipe
Schu exit could help rallying - Rohrl
Hamilton "ready" for McLaren - de Ferran
F1's Ecclestone is 'powerful pensioner'
Kovalainen warns Alonso  New Renault driver Heikki Kovalainen has warned world champion Fernando Alonso that he will not be intimidated and will instead fight tooth and nail with him in his rookie season.

The 25-year-old Finn is replacing Alonso at Renault this year after the Spaniard moved to McLaren, and he has already told him to keep an eye out in his mirrors for his blue and yellow car.

"I've already spoken to Fernando about next year and I've told him I'll be fighting with him," Kovalainen told the Sunday Mirror.

"He told me not to worry, he'll attack too. It's going to be healthy competition. I'm looking forward to it. Every driver in Formula One thinks they're the best and yes, I think that, too. I believe I can fight them all." More ...

P.J. Jones to sub for Robby Gordon  Robby Gordon will have a dramatically different look in 2007. Gordon will drive a Ford Fusion, and Monster Energy Drink, Micron Technology and Motorola will sponsor his No. 7.

Verizon makes its debut on Gordon's Busch Series effort beginning with the Daytona 300 on February 17. Gordon is scheduled for at least 10 NBS races in 2007. With the exception of pit crew coordinator/jackman Scott Honan, the complexion of the pit crew has changed entirely.

Gordon will have to wait until Las Vegas to test with his new crew because he'll miss Daytona testing while competing in the Dakar Rally. His factory Hummer (funded by GM) was shipped to Lisbon on Christmas Eve. P.J. Jones will sub for Gordon at the first test. Sporting News

Car of Tomorrow inspections smoother  NASCAR's Brett Bodine says the Car of Tomorrow inspection process is running smoothly. More than 50 cars were certified before the holidays.

"Everyone has the process down," Bodine says. "Cars have been passing with no problem. Any time there are changes, we can expect hiccups, but we're dealing with very smart people who build these cars." Only minor issues, such as metal thickness--nothing blatantly intentional--have slowed the process."

Bodine adds that, with two different models being raced this season, NASCAR wanted to keep new development to a minimum.

Although Toyota had to construct two different versions of the Camry, Bodine says Toyota has not experienced any significant problems. The certification process has changed inspection dramatically, though, with nine RFID (radio frequency identification) chips installed in every chassis. Reader downloads will allow NASCAR to ensure a competing chassis is the same one that was approved. Any damaged chassis will have to be recertified before it's allowed to race. Sporting News

Haug: Too early to make predictions for '07  According to Mercedes boss Norbert Haug, speaking to German Sport1, it is much too early to be making any sort of F1 title predictions for 2007.

“No one knows who the favorite is at the moment, not respective team bosses or outside observers,” he said. “The favorite is the one who does the best work during the winter, is best prepared when testing in the spring and makes the most progress during the season. Ferrari was certainly not the favorite for 2006 after coming off a weak 2005, but nevertheless, they won almost 80 per cent of the races in the second half of the season and over the year more than every other team, just as we did in 2005, when we were not the favorites."

Heidfeld has no thoughts of retirement  At the age of 29, BMW SauberF1 driver Nick Heidfeld has contested a grand total of 117 GP events and as such is one of the most experienced drivers on the current Formula One grid. However, the young German driver isn’t even thinking about retirement.

“Regarding my age and my experience, I am in a very good position at the moment,” he told the team’s official website.

During his time in the pinnacle of Motorsports, Nick has secured five podium finishes and one pole position and instead of thinking about retirement, Nick is still aiming for his maiden victory, and after that, who knows? Maybe he will stay around for as long as Michael did….

“If things go well I hope to be able to continue racing in F1 for another ten years, on top of the years that already lie behind me.”

This year Nick will continue with the BMW powered outfit alongside new teammate, Robert Kubica, who made his very impressive debut at the Hungarian Grand Prix last year. Robert is young and ambitious and has motivated Nick even further. As far as the German racer is concerned, the internal competition between the two of them is a positive situation to be in.

“It’s better for me to compete against someone with a certain amount of speed, rather than against a slow driver,” he explained. “When you’re up against a slow driver can’t compare anything, you won’t receive any tips or hints, you are always on your own.”

The team will unveil the new challenger that Nick hopes will take him to even greater heights on the 16th of this month at the Valencia circuit in Spain.

Mario happy with grandson's F1 debut  "I think Marco performed well in the test," proud grandfather Mario Andretti told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport. "The most important thing is that he made no mistakes.

"Michael updated me on the test every 15 minutes with a string of [text] messages. We kept going on until three in the morning.

"His physical build is well suited to F1, and in Jerez he got within half a second of James Rossiter (the regular Honda test driver that day). Not bad, is it?"

"At the next test I'll come along as well - and in fact I would like to try out a modern F1 car myself.  Yes, the cockpits are tighter nowadays, but I haven't become too wide...to fit."

A young American to watch  Pat Barrett enjoyed a very successful first full season of formula car racing. He won sixteen races in three different open wheel series in 2006. Pat claimed his first auto racing championship and won his first two professional races in his initial outing.

Now Pat is ready to take on the 2007 Pacific F2000 Championship Series with his new team, PR1 Motorsports. Bobby Oergel’s team has won three Formula Ford F2000 championships since 2002. Pat will compete in a British built Van Diemen open wheel formula car equipped with a 2-litre Ford Zetec motor. Winter testing with PR1 got underway in early December and will continue until the first race of the season in early March.

Pat captured the 2006 SCCA Formula Russell Championship title, Rookie of the Year honors and the single season win record with twelve victories, four seconds, one third and six poles as well as five track records and seven fast race laps in seventeen starts. He wrapped up the championship in August and took his eleventh win in September as he broke Scott Speed’s season win record. The  Formula Mazda series, based at Infineon Raceway near Sonoma, California, has claimed as it’s recent champions American Formula One ace Scott Speed and current Cooper Zetec Formula Ford 2000 champion J.R. Hildebrand.  More ...

Malaysia GP has to give away tickets to draw crowd  The response for the discounted grandstand tickets for the Formula One Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix in April has been overwhelming – with all 500 on offer at the website yesterday snapped up within five hours. Sepang International Circuit (SIC), the organizers of the Malaysian GP, offered grandstand tickets at RM99 ($28 i.e. essentially for free) on their website.

SIC head of ticketing Noraini Nekmat said that within the first two hours, they sold more than 400 tickets.

“After five hours, all 500 tickets were snapped up,” she said.

SIC are targeting 120,000 spectators for the Malaysian GP from April 6-8.

Among the steps taken by SIC to reach the target is to offer discounted prices for Citrine grandstand tickets. SIC intend to offer 2,000 tickets at discounted prices to promote the event. The normal price for the tickets is RM500.

Yesterday, SIC offered the first block of 500 tickets at RM99 through their website www.malaysiangp.com.my More ...

Grand-Am partnership support reaches all-time high  The unparalleled on-track action in both the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve and the Grand-Am Cup Series was matched by an unprecedented level of partnership support for both series in 2006.

The renewal of existing partners combined with the addition of new ones made 2006 a record year for Grand-Am. The year began with the addition of Crown Royal Special Reserve--which joined the Rolex Series as a team sponsor in 2005--as the first presenting sponsor of the Rolex Series. In fact, before the 2006 Rolex Series had even turned a wheel in competition, Grand-Am added two more partners to its roster, as Bernheim Group became the largest contingency sponsor of the Grand-Am Cup Series, while Performance Drink signed-on in support of both the Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup. More ...

2007 V8 Supercar schedule  
Round 1  March 1-4       Clipsal 500              Adelaide
Round 2  March 23-25     Perth V8 400             Perth
Round 3  April 20-22     PlaceMakers V8 Supercars Pukekohe
Round 4  May 18-20       Winton Motor Raceway     Winton
Round 5  June 9-11       Eastern Creek Raceway    Sydney
Round 6  June 22-24      Hidden Valley Raceway    Darwin
Round 7  July 20-22      Queensland Raceway       Ipswich
Round 8  August 17-19    Oran Park Raceway        Sydney
Round 9  September 14-16 Betta Electrical 500     Sandown
Round 10 October 4-7     Bathurst 1000            Bathurst
Round 11 October 18-21   V8 Supercar Challenge    Surfers Paradise
Round 12 Nov. 1-3        Bahrain Int. Circuit     Bahrain
Round 13 Nov. 16-18      Tasmania Challe          TAS
Round 14 Nov. 30-Dec. 2  Grand Finale             Phillip Island
Stewart tops Ft. Wayne race – again  FT. WAYNE, Ind. – Second verse, same as the first.

Well, not exactly, but USAC “Triple Crown” winner Tony Stewart did what many of the sellout crowd wanted – win Saturday night at the Ft. Wayne Memorial Coliseum. And just like he did in Friday’s campaign, he battled from midpack to take the point early.

On Saturday, he started ninth, one spot behind where he was Friday, but it took him one less lap to get to the front. He stayed in eighth after the first lap, then picked off four cars on the second and was past Rich Corson – whom he took the lead from Friday – on Lap 7 on the inside of Turn 2 and ran away.
Without any hesitation, it may also be noted.

In fact, Stewart’s position was never in question. After taking the lead, he put a straightaway between his No. 2 Our Gang Poker Club Munchkin/VW and that of Corson’s Stealth/Fontana by Lap 10. Within three more laps, the Rushville, Ind. native had begun lapping the tail end of the field, and had half the field lapped by Lap 25. More ...

F1's owners to anger business world  (GMM)  F1's majority owner, CVC Capital Partners, could be about to embark on a round of controversial "hostile takeover bids", according to reports.

The London based broadsheet Daily Telegraph claims that the private equity house, which bought its shares in the world of grand prix racing from Bernie Ecclestone and banks, could anger publicly quoted companies by trying to take them over without the support of their management.

CVC has controversially "changed the terms of agreements with its investors", the newspaper wrote.

The Telegraph added: "(CVC's) decision ... is highly unusual.  CVC declined to comment."

Lyn Jeffers dies  Lyn Jeffers passed away last night, December 30, 2006 at the VA Mountain Home Nursing Center, in Johnson City, TN due to complications from a cancerous brain tumor.

Lyn worked for ESPN, FOX, NBC, and TNT for the last 24 years, handling duties in the booth as stage manager while coordinating the placement of in-car cameras for ARCA, Craftsman Truck Series, Busch Series, and formally the Winston Cup, now Nextel Cup Series. Early on in Lyn's career he handled public relations duties for Joe Rutman's #75 Pet Dairy ride, and Brad Teague's #31 Slender You machine in the early 80;s and 90's. He was a part of many various activities that were race related, including contributing writer for DieCast Digest.

Lyn was a pleasant face in the garage area for many years, who had a love for stock car racing that stemmed from when he was a child growing up in Greenville, TN.

Funeral arrangements are being performed by Tetrick Funeral Home in Johnson City, TN. In lieu of flowers Lyn has asked for donations to be made to The Victory Junction Gang Camp or to The Tug McGraw Foundation
Lepage looking for ride  After a week in the Islands and a week in Vermont spending time with family and friends and presenting checks to the Vermont Cancer Society and the Vermont National Guard Readiness Program from the 4th annual Kevin Lepage Charity Golf Tournament, NASCAR driver Kevin Lepage is waiting to see what the 2007 season will bring him. Lepage is not under contract with any team and would like to continue driving in any of the three NASCAR series. Lepage finished up the 2006 season with Front Row Motorsports.
Elliott and RJ Racing to attempt Daytona  It looks like the #37 R.J. Racing team and driver Bill Elliott will attempt the races at Daytona in February 2007, the Budweiser Shootout, Duel 150's and Daytona 500. The team is looking for sponsorship for the race and the 2007 season. rjracing.us
A1 Team Australia sets its sights on Sydney  After a successful and exciting start to the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport’s second season, A1 Team Australia has proven its determination and placed itself amongst the top contenders for the 2006/07 championship.

Having notched two podium finishes in the first three races and recording increasingly impressive qualifying times at each event, A1 Team Australia’s drivers have proven that they are ready for the fierce competition already unfolding.

However the past few races have thrown a variety of challenges at the team, as Seat Holder Alan Jones sees it, “A combination of a little bad luck and some dire weather unfortunately hampered the team’s fantastic efforts, and it did take away some of the momentum we had worked hard to build. More ...

A1GP’s mid-season review  In its second season of competition, the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport has become into one of the most unpredictable and exciting racing series on the sporting calendar. Five Sprint races and five Feature races have produced seven different winners, with South Africa, Germany, Malaysia, Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland and New Zealand each notching up wins.

A1 Team Germany has been the revelation of this season so far, with lead driver Nico Hülkenberg firmly establishing himself as a competent, quick driver. Despite his young age, at 19 years old he’s one of the youngest pilots on the grid, and relative racing inexperience, the youngster from Emmerich on the German-Dutch border has been consistently fast all season.

Hülkenberg recorded the fastest time at the pre-season Silverstone test, even though the 550-bhp A1GP car was a huge step up from the Formula BMW machine he’d been driving until that point. His early pace set him out as one to watch and he certainly matched up to the public, and manager Willi Weber’s, expectations when he recorded the fastest time in the opening Zandvoort practice session. He delivered on the promise with a controlled, measured driver in the same weekend’s incident-filled, unpredictable Feature race to secure his nation’s first A1GP victory. More ...

Industry News
Another Ferrari Enzo bites the dust  UPDATE A reader writes, Yes there is a design flaw in the Enzo.  There is no device that tells an unqualified driver to "get out" and "please step away from the car."  Michael Kottke

12/31/06 Is there a design flaw in this car?  Another Ferrari Enzo bites the dust (the 10th this year and the 15th ever), this time in Abu Dhabi. Ironically its none too-expert owner lost control and hit a palm tree.
Formula BMW
Gelles Racing opens new shop in Indy  Indianapolis, Indiana –  Gelles Racing team had an interesting visit from Santa Claus for Christmas but the boys were able to open the big box only when they got to Indianapolis. In fact, the big box was the gift as the teams will inaugurate a new racing facility next Tuesday close to some of the legends in Motorsport in Indianapolis. Meanwhile the crew is getting ready for more testing at Savannah next weekend with new drivers testing Champ Car Atlantic and Formula BMW USA preparing for the coming season.

"I don’t know who the guy was in the red suit but the boys sure appreciated the gift, said team owner Bob Gelles. We have advanced our entire operation into a 12,000 square-foot building in the racing capital of North America; we will have plenty of room for our racing gears and engineering brain trusts to corroborate. We have always moved forward in the last several years establishing our racing teams as front-runners in BMW USA and Champ Car Atlantic. We started with our shop in Virginia and now we need to be closer to the action and the Champ Car headquarters. We have more quick hopefuls testing for both series, some of them returning and others come to us for the first time; we know we will have a strong bullpen in 2007." More ...
Andre Villarreal passes rookie test  MIAMI -- There never was any doubt in Andre Villarreal's mind that he would pass his Indy Pro Series rookie test on the first try. Invited to take the wheel of one of the 420-horsepower cars over Thanksgiving weekend, Andre left the track with a new license.

Driving one of Brian Stewart Racing's cars, the 19-year old driver took to the banked oval like a fish to water. "Andre performed admirably during his 150-mile test, taking instruction very well," said BSR Team Manager Douglas Hoy. "He gradually built up speed until he became comfortable in what was a new experience for him. His progression throughout the test was good and right on target for a rookie driver."  More ...

Boy’s privacy invaded when pictured In NASCAR brochure  A Joliet, IL man says his minor son had his privacy invaded when the Chicagoland Speedway used pictures of him to advertise its events in a brochure. In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Raceway Associates and Chicagoland Speedway, David Fremouw claims his son's photo was used approximately 17 times in an advertising brochure the defendants mailed out. On July 8, 2005, David Fremouw took his son, Mathew, to the Chicagoland Speedway, where the minor was photographed via video or camera, the suit said. Mathew Fremouw appeared on the cover of the defendants' brochure, which was used as ‘Exhibit A’ in the suit. A photocopy of the cover depicts a race car in the foreground and blurred images in the background. Because of his use in the brochure, Mathew Fremouw feels humiliated and embarrassed, the suit claims. David Fremouw is seeking an undisclosed amount in damages. wbbm780.com
Benny Parsons struggles to breathe  UPDATE The lung specialist put Benny in CMC hospital the day after Christmas with blood clots in the right lung and behind his right knee. They have Parsons on complete bed rest and will not allow him to get up at all and Parsons will be at CMC from 5 to 7 days. The doctor has started Parsons on blood thinners to dissolve the clots, which were caused from the aggressive radiation from treating the lung cancer, to email Benny, go to BennyParsons.com or goprn.com.

12/16/06 Benny Parsons is having a hard time breathing after radiation treatment on the cancerous tumor in his left lung has destroyed it.  Parsons’ right lung is healthy and strong, and doctors believe Parsons’ body will eventually adjust to having just one healthy lung. But until then, the former Winston Cup Series champion driver will need to use oxygen to assist his breathing.
Merc would employ German racer - Haug  (GMM)  Mercedes-Benz can imagine seeing a German-born driver behind the wheel of a silver formula one car, Norbert Haug said this week.

The Stuttgart-based marque's competition director told 'Sport1' that while a cooperation with Michael Schumacher never came about, he would not rule out succeeding at the pinnacle of motor sport with a different German.

For the past fifty years, a German has not steered a works Mercedes in formula one, but Haug denied that it is a deliberate policy.

German rivals BMW, though - in contrast - already features on the payroll two countrymen; Nick Heidfeld and young test driver Sebastian Vettel.

"I see no reason why we should not have a German driver in the cockpit," Haug said, "as soon as the opportunity arises and it makes sense."

Haug, 54, added that most current German race and test drivers had some affiliation with Mercedes-Benz in the past.

McLaren-Mercedes will contest the 2007 world championship with Spaniard Fernando Alonso and rookie Lewis Hamilton, who is a Briton with Caribbean ancestry.

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