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David Richards to return? (GMMF1.NET) Former BAR-Honda chief David Richards has ruled out a quick return to the F1 pitwall. The Englishman vowed to spend 2005 on company Prodrive's fledgling Aston Martin (Le Mans) project. But, asked if he pined for the Paddock, DR replied: ''It wouldn't be the right thing to do, to return (to F1) immediately, anyway. I won't mind observing from a distance for now, not at all.'' 52-year-old Richards, overthrown by Honda, admitted that - having guided BAR from over-cashed nearlymen to Ferrari runner-up - he ended '04 'burned out. ''Only now ... can I feel the enthusiasm coming back,'' he remarked.
Biffle close to signing contract extension Roush Racing officials said they are close to signing Greg Biffle to a contract extension. Biffle's deal is up at the end of this season, and his public criticism of the company last year gave strong indications that he was considering leaving. ESPN.com/AP
ALMS eyes NY City market In this AutoRacing1.com interview, ALMS President Scott Atherton was asked: AutoRacing1: New York City is a pretty exciting place. NASCAR is making a big effort to try to get a race here. Do you think that maybe someday ALMS could race in the city?
Atherton: Boy I sure hope so. And actually one of the many meetings that we’ve held or were participating in this week was on that very subject. There seems to always be one or two initiatives in play to try and bring a proper race into this market. Whether on a temporary circuit or a purpose built circuit there’s a lot of interest in having us be a part of that for the obvious reasons that we bring a lot of manufacture involvement.
When you talk to the management of Audi or Porsche, and you question them about what’s the most important retail market for you, both of them or all of them really have the same answers - that it’s this northeastern corridor, that there’s a lot of product that’s consumed here.
Therefore, there’s a lot of interest by those manufacturers in securing a race. We love racing at Lime Rock and I don’t see anything changing there. But the opportunity to be anywhere in close proximity to New York City would truly be a home run for anyone.
NASCAR to impound cars next year at Daytona NASCAR announced recently that it will impound the cars following Cup qualifying at about two-thirds of its tracks this season and keep them from the teams until just before the start of the races. Only minor adjustments, made under NASCAR supervision, will be allowed and the cars will have to start on the same tires and with the same fuel load with which they qualified. Now there are rumors sweeping through the garages at Daytona International Speedway that NASCAR will do the same next year before the Daytona 500, holding the cars from the end of qualifying on Sunday until the start of the 150-mile qualifying races the following Thursday. ''That's one of the options we're looking at, but it's too early to tell what we're going to do for next year,'' NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said. AP Story
Gurney lands Grand-Am ride Rumors have it that the #99 Blackhawk/Gainsco Racing Pontiac Riley #016 will debut at Laguna Seca with Alex Gurney driving. Gurney, who raced in the Champ Car ladder system as well as in the European F1 feeder system has been looking to land a full-time gig.
Klien will raceUPDATE Here is the official team press release - Red Bull Racing Friday confirmed that Austrian Christian Klien will partner David Coulthard at the Australian Grand Prix. The 22-year-old Austrian completed his debut season with Jaguar Racing in 2004, scoring 3 points. Reigning F3000 Champion, Vitantonio Liuzzi (24) will fulfill the 3rd Driver testing duties.
The decision has been taken following the conclusion of the team’s intensive testing program at Valencia, Jerez and Barcelona and will be reviewed on an on-going basis.
Sporting Director Christian Horner: “We are very fortunate to have two exceptionally talented young drivers, who have both impressed the team during pre-season testing. I’ve been extremely pleased with Christian’s and Tonio’s development during the past few weeks, as well as by their professionalism and sportsmanship. Christian will undoubtedly benefit from David Coulthard’s considerable experience and will hope to build on last year’s performances.”
Christian Klien: “I’m very proud to have the privilege of starting the first race in Melbourne for Red Bull Racing. I’m honored that the decision has been made in my favor – it’s got me even more motivated.”
Tonio Liuzzi: “I extend my congratulations to Christian, but I’ll obviously be trying to get an opportunity to race myself as soon as possible. It’s great to be with Red Bull Racing - team spirit is excellent. Both Christian and I are benefiting enormously from being able to work with David Coulthard.” Red Bull Racing
02/17/05 (GMMF1.NET) Red Bull has decided, we can reveal, that Christian Klien will line up as David Coulthard's F1 teammate at the upcoming Australian grand prix. Although it won't be announced until the weekend, a source said that Austria's 22-year-old had been a 'logical' choice. He added that the situation will be reviewed in mid-April, where 'third' driver Vitantonio Liuzzi could be given a racing shot at the RB1's wheel.
Had Christian not been selected to race, the 2004 Jaguar racer could not have - under a FIA regulation - slotted into the supporting role. Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz told an Austrian newspaper: ''Christian can (now) demonstrate what he learned (in 2004). We were very satisfied with his performance in winter testing.''
Canadian GP could move to Toronto There is reportedly an effort underway to bring Canada's Formula One race back to Toronto. According to the Journal de Montreal, Russian-born Canadian businessman Alex Shnaider has been asked to lobby on behalf of those interested in shifting the race to Toronto from Montreal. ''It's very recent, we haven't had time to explore it, but on the surface it seems encouraging,'' Shnaider spokesman Ron Fine said from his Toronto office. ''I think it would be a great thing for the city of Toronto.'' Shnaider, the co-founder and chairman of Midland Group, recently purchased the Jordan Formula One team. A spokesperson for the team says Shnaider is interested in bringing the race back to Toronto but would also consider a scenario which would see the event alternate between the two cities. ''It's too early to say what the format would be,'' said Fine. ''Obviously we don't want to harm the sport. Would taking the race away from Montreal harm the sport? We don't know. All these things need to be examined.''
Latest Cosworth making big HP According to reports in Autosport (excerpts), David Coulthard is set to be given a massive boost in his hopes of staging a surprise for Red Bull Racing this year, with high-level sources telling autosport.com that the team's engine supplier Cosworth is about to unleash its most powerful modern-day engine.
Although Cosworth's future in Formula 1 had been subject to doubt following Ford's withdrawal from the sport at the end of last season, the buyout of the operation by Champ Car boss Kevin Kalkhoven and a reorganization of its structure under managing director Tim Routsis appears to have paid dividends.
The sources claim that the TJ2005-specification engine that RBR will start the season with is producing around 910bhp – which is as good if not better than some of the big name manufacturers who are publicly proclaiming how strong their engines are. Further steps are expected by the start of the European season, when Minardi will also have access to the engines.
It is understood that the 910bhp figure is up to 45bhp more than last year's Cosworth engine was producing – at a time when several engine manufacturers have struggled to match last year's results because of the change in engine regulations.
Furthermore, the jump in horsepower has not come at the expense of engine reliability. Although some teams are struggling with reliability, with Honda most famously having yet to complete the magic 1300km distance required for two race weekends, Cosworth engine has already completed 1800km on the dyno – 200km more than its own target of 1600km.
Although no one at Cosworth was available to speak publicly about the figures, one source close to Red Bull Racing said: “Cosworth has developed a Formula 1 engine this season that is in excess of 45bhp up on last year – and we have only had to limit our engines by around 5bhp to achieve engine life. Cosworth is back post-Ford and marching forwards very clearly.”
On the back of the promising results from its 2005 engine, Cosworth has also already put its 2006 V8 engine on the dyno, and initial reports suggest it could be producing around 850bhp – which is almost certain to make it a very attractive proposition for potential future customers. [Editor's Note: 850 HP is significantly above the target the FIA set of around 700 to 750 HP. If the V8 is already making 850 HP, it will be at 900 HP by this time next season, which is about where they are with today's V10.]
Red Sox and Roush to team up?UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Roush Racing Owner Jack Roush “squashed rumors” that he and Red Sox Owner John Henry had discussed a possible ownership stake in the race team, he said, “I’m not interested in buying into the Red Sox and, of course, I know he’s not interested in buying into my team” More at Boston Globe02/17/05 Baseball's champion could be teaming up with NASCAR's. Looking to tap into the popularity of the World Series-winning Boston Red Sox, Roush Racing has had preliminary talks with Boston owner John Henry about forming a possible partnership. Rumors circulating around Daytona International Speedway on Thursday had Henry possibly buying a stake in the lucrative Roush organization. But Roush general manager Geoff Smith said any talks with the baseball owner concerned cross-promotion with the Red Sox. "Jack Roush as long as he lives is going to want to control and operate these race teams," Smith said. "Not to rule out that there isn't a proposition that could be advanced for some sort of affiliation at some time, but right now we like the prospect of an affiliation from a marketing standpoint. Henry did not immediately return an e-mail request for comment. Garage insiders have described Henry as a "racing junkie" who competes in a high-tech computerized NASCAR league on his own personal simulator. He attended last year's NASCAR race in New Hampshire, and was a guest of NASCAR at their December awards banquet in New York City. NASCAR
HVM eyes three driversUPDATE Now hearing that Glock's management has been talking to the Rocketsports team more than anyone. It will be interesting to see where Hunter-Reay ends up if Rocketsports does indeed sign Glock, though at this point that is by no means a certainty. 02/17/05 AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that the HVM team is talking to David Martinez (Mexican) as well as Bjorn Wirdheim and Timo Glock for their 2nd car. As we understand it, the team and Champ Car recognize the need to groom another young Mexican driver, but HVM is also keen to hire drivers who can win races and it's felt that may be more likely with either Wirdheim or Glock.
If Dominguez goes to F1 there will be a real void of top Mexicans in Champ Car but it is uncertain whether Martinez is the guy to fill that void given his past lackluster performance, though the teams he drove for may be part of his problem. Although the team would have preferred to keep Ryan Hunter-Reay (continuity for the team and for RHR is very important and it would be nice to pick up where they left off last year if they could afford him), working in Wirdheim's and Glock's favor is the fact they have more funding behind them than Hunter-Reay and Martinez. Decisions will probably be made soon. Mark C.
NASCAR Might Bench Harvick and JohnsonUPDATE After #29-Kevin Harvick exited the infield care center with an aching chest Thursday, #01-Joe Nemechek nearly hit him with a water bottle. It was a clear display of the anguish Harvick caused during the second of two 150-mile qualifying races for the Daytona 500. Harvick bumped #48-Jimmie Johnson more than halfway through the 60-lap race, starting a seven-car wreck and stirring the emotions of several drivers and their crews. "It's frustrating because I know how much all these guys have put into this, and to have it taken out by someone like him, that's stupid,'' Nemechek said. Johnson, who trailed only three-time Daytona winner Dale Jarrett in pole qualifying last Sunday, was leading the race when he slowed in the second turn and got rear-ended by Harvick. The bump turned Johnson's car sideways and ignited a crash that took out Johnson, Harvick, Nemechek and fellow top contenders Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace. None of them was injured. But some of their cars were badly damaged. Harvick, Nemechek and Wallace were forced to switch to backup cars and will move to the back of the field for NASCAR's biggest race. "It's a shame. He just tore up six or seven good race cars,'' said Johnson, adding that team owner Richard Childress should fire Harvick and NASCAR should penalize him. "This is ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.'' Harvick and Johnson were summoned to the NASCAR trailer after tempers had cooled. Harvick acknowledged fault in the wreck, and NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter warned the drivers that future problems could result in fines or suspensions. "We told them that they need to either work it out for themselves or we'll work it out for them,'' Hunter said. "We just consider it a racing incident. If they get into it again, there could be some severe penalties, like missing a race.'' Hunter added that the drivers shook hands and agreed to meet by themselves Thursday night -- without crew chiefs, car owners or NASCAR officials -- to work through their differences, which began at Phoenix last year. "We want to make absolutely sure that at the start of a new season, there's no carry-over,'' Hunter said. Harvick apologized for his error, but that did little to soothe emotions in the garage area. "I just spun him out, and I feel sorry for the teams and everybody involved,'' Harvick said. ESPN.com/AP02/17/05 The year-long on-track feud between Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick officially came to a head Thursday, and NASCAR made it clear that they've officially had enough. No penalties were levied for the multicar accident that took out Johnson, Harvick, Mark Martin, Joe Nemechek and Rusty Wallace, and also involved Scott Riggs and Dave Blaney. But the drivers, crew chiefs and team owners were summoned to the NASCAR transporter for a stern talking-to from president Mike Helton. NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said that if Johnson and Harvick don't resolve their differences immediately, they could be spectators for an upcoming event. "If they get into it again, there could be some severe penalties -- like missing a race," Hunter said. Hunter said the drivers opted to meet privately Thursday evening, rather than have NASCAR involved in the process. NASCAR
Harvick to Penske?UPDATE Kevin Harvick is rumored to be under consideration for a ride with Roger Penske next season, possibly now the driver to take Rusty Wallace's ride. But Harvick's contract with car owner Richard Childress is reported to run through the end of 2006. Winston Salem Journal02/06/05 The biggest question facing owner Roger Penske this season is signing someone to take Rusty Wallace's place after he retires at the end of 2005. The most obvious answer, of course, is Jamie McMurray, who is already in the Dodge camp and dating Wallace's daughter and driving Wallace's Busch cars. But McMurray is still under contract to Chip Ganassi, whose rivalry with Penske is well-known and who is not going to give up his own No. 1 driver easily. Penske shies away from even talking about McMurray. "I will tell you at this point I have not even had one conversation with Jamie McMurray about driving on this race team," Penske insisted. "Yes, he would be a great driver, but he's already under contract with Chip." One name that has just come up on Penske's tentative list, according to sources, is Kevin Harvick, who has been driving for Richard Childress since Dale Earnhardt's death in 2001. Miller Brewing, a longtime Penske-Wallace sponsor, has been pressuring the team for more results, in light of the impressive performance by Bud-sponsored rival Dale Earnhardt Jr. In fact, Miller execs, according to sources, have wanted Penske to bring Ryan Newman, Wallace's teammate - sometimes estranged teammate, as at the moment - into the Miller sponsorship fold. More at the Winston Salem Journal
Wurz could leave McLaren F1 test driver Alex Wurz could leave McLaren at the end of the year. The tall Austrian, reportedly frustrated that the team blocked a solid racing offer and livid at the 'Friday' job rebuke, is - contractually liberated for 2006 - linked with a move to the so-called 'Dubai F1' camp.
Wurz, who turned 31 on Tuesday and does not fit in McLaren's 2005 MP4-20 model, moved from Benetton to the Woking developmental role in 2000. Dubai F1, it was announced - although it's been all-quiet ever since - could race into F1 next year with Mercedes-Benz power and McLaren support.
Champion Audi adds to star-studded lineup Hearing that the Champion Audi team will soon announce that Tom Kristensen will team with JJ Lehto and Marco Werner for the 24 Hours of LeMans. AutoRacing1.com heard this at Thursday night's ALMS JeanRichard affair (more on that later) at the Tourneau Time Machine in Manhattan from both JJ Lehto (right) and team owner Dave Maraj. Of course Allan McNish will lead the 2nd Champion Audi effort. This could be the first year in a very long time that an American owned team wins the 24 Hour French classic.
Cleveland under threatUPDATE We are downgrading this rumor to 'false.' AutoRacing1.com has done a bit of research on this report/rumor and can reveal - First, this is just a study that the city is doing to look into future uses for the airport...nothing has been decided about its future role. Whenever the study is completed and regardless of its findings, it will not affect the race for either this year or next at Burke Lakefront, and it may not affect it at all. This is obviously an election year for Mayor Campbell and she definitely needs to make sure she's keeping her options open for the airport use so her constituents believe she's doing all she can to maximize this prime area of the city.
The Mayor and her other city executives have assured Champ Car, however, that the Grand Prix of Cleveland is far too important to the community to lose if the worst case scenario from Champ Car's perspective happens and they chose to use the airport property for something different and it can't be used as a summer race venue somewhere down the line. In other words, the race can be run on other city streets if necessary, though no one thinks that will be necessary at this point in time.
This race brings in an estimated 25 million dollars to the local economy and the local officials realize that and know how valuable this event is. The race has actually become even more entrenched into the civic landscape there in Cleveland over the last several years with Mayor Campbell attending many of the Grand Prix functions and new partnerships were just recently announced there with the Cleveland United Way and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission - two civic mainstays in the community. In short, the future of the race is on very solid ground regardless of the findings of this study. Mark Cipolloni
02/16/05 Cleveland’s mayor Jane Campbell has cast doubt over the long-term future of Champ Car racing at Burke Lakefront Airport after initiating a US Federal Aviation Administration air capacity study to decide whether or not it should stay an airport which is used as a race track once a year. Autosport Magazine
No Indy double? A handful of NASCAR drivers took notice when the start of the Indianapolis 500 was moved back an hour, making it almost impossible for them to compete at the Brickyard and in NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart and John Andretti have all attempted "The Double'' in recent years. It was a tough task even when the Indy race began at 11:00am/et because it was still a scramble to make it back to North Carolina in time for the NASCAR event [Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway]. Now that the race will start at noon, Gordon said Indy will be hard-pressed to get any NASCAR drivers in the field. "That's the dumbest decision they could have made,'' Gordon said. "One of the draws of that race these days is seeing what NASCAR stars try to run the double, and I just don't understand why they would take that element out of it by moving the start time.'' Indy officials want to attract a larger television audience with the later start. Tony Stewart echoed Gordon's thoughts. Just him showing up last year on Bump Day drew significant attention as his mere presence at the track added excitement to an otherwise non-eventful day. "I wasn't planning on doing it again, but it's got to be the dumbest thing I've ever seen Indianapolis Motor Speedway do since I've been around,'' Stewart said. "I don't know what their theory was on that. I thought it helped them to have guys doing both races.'' Gordon said Indy officials should have moved the race to Memorial Day instead of trying to draw viewers on the same day as a NASCAR race. "That would be the better move for the Indy 500,'' said Gordon, a former IRL racer. "Not only would they be the only race on TV that day, but all the NASCAR drivers would have the day off and could consider entering the 500. I really think you'd get a lot more of us in the field if the race was run on Monday. You never know who might give it a try.'' ESPN.com/AP
Ferrari to be floated? (GMMF1.NET ) Ferrari appears headed for the Stock Exchange, after parent carmaker Fiat separated it from the sister Maserati brand. The move sees Maserati and Alfa Romeo united more closely. ''(It's) essential for Alfa Romeo's future development,'' said Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. Ferrari, with president Luca di Montezemolo also head of Fiat, formerly owned Maserati, whose racing arm is this week running the impressive MC12 at Paul Ricard, with part time F1 tester Andrea Bertolini at the wheel.
Champ Car Spring TrainingUPDATE #2 We are now hearing that the Champ Car media event will indeed be held and the dates are March 24/25 in Indianapolis as we previously reported. No on-track action is planned. 01/28/05 We are now hearing there probably won't be any on-track Spring Training for Champ Car this year because too many teams are up in the air at this point (Late TV deal, late schedule, no sponsors). If there is an event, it will be a media/fan event in March in Indianapolis. Drivers will be required to attend. 01/19/05UPDATE#2 We are now hearing that Spring Training will not be at LVMS. Firebird south of Phoenix has been mentioned. Pretty desolate, but warm. 01/05/05 Word on the street is that Champ Car Spring Training will probably be in February at either Laguna Seca or Las Vegas, with Las Vegas being in the lead. 11/03/04 According to the Las Vegas Sun, Champ Car World Series officials are believed to be looking at holding their 2005 Champ Car spring training pre-season test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in February. 'We're going to pick a site out in the Western part of the United States that works for the teams and works for us and particularly as a good location for the press," Champ Car president Dick Eidswick said, while declining to elaborate on a specific site. "We're talking about having the spring training and the preview of the season probably the end of February." LVMS general manager Chris Powell acknowledged that the topic of holding the test session and preview in Las Vegas has been discussed, but said the speedway and Champ Car do not have a signed agreement.
F1 to race in Cancun - MaybeUPDATE #15 The Mexican Grand Prix could be back on despite the local authorities in Cancun saying they have not given the necessary planning permission for construction to begin on the 940-acre site at Mantarraya. The industrialist Jose Chapur Zahoul has since stepped in and says that he will switch the venue to an area south of the airport where there is not environmental issue and will place the track close to the Moon Palace hotel and golf resort which boasts more than 2000 rooms which he owns with his brother Roberto. The two men made their fortune in lotteries and have played an active role supporting electoral campaigns in the region, including that of the local governor Joaquin Hendricks. The hotel, which cost $60m to build, was opened in 1999. Chapur Zahoul said that he will contribute of the land necessary for the project in order to avoid the dispute with the local government over environmental issues. The Grand Prix will be funded by the government of the state of Quintana Roo and by the federal ministry of tourism. The Mexicans signed a five-year deal with Formula One Management last year, to host races between 2006 and 2010. Their aim was to boost tourism in Cancun, which badly hit by the decline in the number of Americans traveling internationally since the terrorist attacks of 2001. Grandprix.com02/10/05 (GMMF1.NET) 70's and 80's F1 driver Hector Rebaque has admitted that the planned 2006 Mexican grand prix is in trouble. A member of the organizing committee, the Mexican admitted that 'some problems' - relating, we revealed, to a land dispute - may delay or even call off the Cancun project. Another report said authorities have no more than a fortnight to find an alternate site, and FIA president Max Mosley agreed that the race 'doesn't look likely. ''But I wouldn't be surprised to see a race in Mexico ... before 2008,'' he told the media in London. Max, though, added that if Mexico can't get their act together, Narain Karthikeyan's F1 debut may reignite plans for an Indian grand prix. 02/10/05 As reported yesterday, the Mexican Grand Prix at Cancun scheduled to run from 2006 could be in doubt as land needed for the construction of the purpose built $80m facility remains unavailable for use. Reports from the French AFP agency this morning state that time is running out for the race organizers if they are to get the circuit built and ready for a race next year. "We have a 15 days deadline,” admitted the Secretary of State to tourism of the province, Dario Flota Ocampo. "If we do not manage to have the grounds to this date, the Grand Prix in 2006 will not be able to be held here, because we will not have time.” Last October Mexican officials announced a five year contract with Formula One Management to host a Grand Prix from 2006 to 2010 but legal disputes between the existing land owners in the province of Quintana Roo and the local authorities could take up to a year to reach a conclusion. With work yet to get underway, the chances of Mexico staging a Grand Prix in 2006 are diminishing quickly. 02/09/05 Plans to hold the Mexican Grand Prix at Cancun in 2006 have hit problems with French AFP sources stating that the land required for the building of the new state of the art facility is not available for construction work to begin. On Tuesday Mexican authorities announced that a dispute between local authorities and the former land owners is ongoing with no resolution expected in the short or medium term. The town of Latifa Muza Simon remains unavailable for development as planned with project promoters looking to purchase additional land but coming up against environmental issues which restrict which areas can be developed. In October it was announced that Cancun would hold a Grand Prix from 2006 to 2010, bringing Formula One back to Mexico for the first time since Mexico City 1992. French AFP01/15/05 Reports here in Mexico say Mario Dominguez is worried about the delay in the start of construction of the track in Cancun. Recall in this rumor AutoRacing1.com reported that the Cancun track will probably never happen. Dominguez also said that if the race in Cancun never materializes, his ride in F1 will probably never happen. Hector Serrano reporting from Mexico11/06/04 This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation,' and may soon go to 'false.' Gerald Forsythe said in Mexico City that he asked the Mexican government for the $20 million necessary to build the track but the government said they did not have it. When Forsythe informed Bernie Ecclestone, Bernie's response was "then leave Cancun for the tourists." Unless Carlos Slim funds this deal, this project is dead. Mark C.10/27/04 In this SPEED TV article, Robin Miller writes, Speaking of Forsythe, he had a tentative plan to put on a Champ Car race in Cancun but now that popular Mexican city has signed up Formula 1 for five years on a new track that will cost $70 million. "I'll believe it when I see it," said Forsythe. "That city couldn't come up with $3 million for us, how can they afford F1? You know Bernie (Ecclestone) isn't spending any money." Psst, someone tell Mr. Forsythe to read AutoRacing1.com more carefully, for below in this rumor he would have read that Carlos Slim is behind the deal and Slim is one of the top 5 richest men in the world. You should also know that it was not really Forsythe that had the deal with Cancun, it was Ron Dickson's D3 Motorsports company that had the deal, but that deal was within the city limits of Cancun and the F1 deal is outside. At the time, Dickson had an exclusive deal with Forsythe. In reality we do not see this venue as being that successful. Few people live in Cancun and the race will have to rely on a lot of people coming great distances. F1 might do OK, but if the IRL were to go there it's likely a recipe for certain failure. Mark C.10/26/04 Mexico's Caribbean beach resort of Cancun will host an annual Formula One race for at least five years starting in 2006, organizers said on Monday. The race will be held on a new $70 million track designed by German expert Hermann Tilke, who also designed Shanghai's circuit. "This track offers some very, very high speeds with sharp curves that make cars brake at speed," said Tilke's representative Dirk Schneider. He said the track would accommodate average speeds of 220 km/hour (125 mph) and top speeds of about 300 km/hour (186 mph). Mexico has not been part of the Formula One circuit for more than a decade since the last race in Mexico City in 1992. The Cancun site was chosen over at least five others, including one in Russia. The announcement comes as Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone appears to be looking for a new grand prix venue after falling out with the owners of Britain's Silverstone track. Ecclestone said last week that the Silverstone race, listed provisionally on the 2005 F1 calendar, would be axed after a breakdown in negotiations with the circuit's owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club. Luis Silveira, whose company Grupo Promotor Inversiones Caribenos is involved in the Cancun deal, said the site was not being viewed as an alternative to Silverstone. "That is not the intention," he said. "The issue was not even raised of taking the place of existing dates. What was discussed and what came out was a new date, a new commitment, not a substitution." Ecclestone has said repeatedly that the sport's future lies increasingly in the developing world. Cancun and Formula One have agreed for the time being to run the race from 2006 to 2010, with an option to renew for another five years. ABS-CBN News10/25/04 This Reforma article says, (loosely translated)This morning there was an official announcement in Cancun where the future race organizers and the Cancun government officials made official the five year contract with F1 starting in 2006. The governor of the state of Quintana Roo, Joaquin Hendricks, and the Tourism Secretary, Rodolfo Elizondo, made the statement along with the promoters of the race. They said that the name of the investors will not be revealed for now because the investors will do a statement later. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico10/25/04 This AP article reports that Mexican officials confirm the deal is done with Bernie and that a press conference will be held this afternoon, supposedly with Bernie in attendance. 10/25/04 Sources are saying that the track in Cancun is a Bernie Ecclestone/Tony George partnership and that we will see the IRL also racing in Mexico by 2006. Presumably the IRL will use the oval track. If this rumor can be believed, Bernie and Tony were able to get around the deal Forsythe signed with Cancun by building the track outside the city. If true, it will be another step by Tony George to undermine Champ Car at every turn. Adrian Fernandez has been working hard to help get the IRL into Mexico, and this may be the fruits of their labor. We shall see. 10/24/04 Bernie Ecclestone will travel from Brazil to Mexico on Sunday night to sign a seven-year contract for a Formula One grand prix at Cancun. An official in Mexico last week revealed that a mid-2006 event would be run at a purpose-built $80 million circuit, pending the arrangement of final information. To the right we include a track layout of the proposed Cancun complex (here is another view which shows where track is to be located). The racetrack that will be built in Cancun will be something like the Twin Ring Motegi track. There will be a 1.5-mile tri-oval and inside the oval will be part of the grand prix race track. The F-1 complex/pitlane will be located outside the oval and the grand prix track will have two tunnels where it crosses under the banking of the tri-oval twice. Unidentified businessmen (rumored to be billionaire Carlos Slim and Gerald Forsythe among others) will invest $100 million in a new circuit at Cancun under a five-year contract between the Quintana Roo state government and Formula One, state tourism minister Artemio Santos said. Ecclestone didn't immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment. "This is very good news for Mexico and the state of Quintana Roo," Santos said in a telephone interview from Cancun. "Formula One will promote both." There are rumors Champ Car could race on the oval track for a third Mexican race, though we hear the IRL wants in. If Gerald Forsythe is involved with this project as rumored, that will never happen. Mark C.10/22/04Bernie Ecclestone will be in Brazil this weekend for the latest round of negotiations over the future of the sport (and for the Grand Prix) and will then be heading off on Sunday evening to fly north to Mexico for the official launch of the new Mexican Grand Prix at Cancun. The Mexicans have been trying to secure a race for some time and the deal that has been leaked out by the local government seems to secure the funding for an all-new race track and the kind of fees that Ecclestone likes to see these days. It will also strengthen F1's position in the American time zones as the fourth race in the time zone. It is believed that Ecclestone wants a fifth event as well but at the moment there is no hint of one being in the pipeline. The future of the Brazilian GP may not be in Sao Paulo, which is looking ever more shoddy, and we hear that the race will be moving to a new facility in Rio de Janeiro in 2006. It is likely that the Mexican and Brazilian events will be twinned in the F1 calendar to give the teams a second trip to the Americas in October to support the US-Canada foray in the spring. This probably explains why Brazil has been pushed forward in the 2005 calendar, allowing the Japanese and Chinese GPs to be at the end of the calendar. The announcement will help to attract Mexican drivers and sponsors and it is believed that at least one Mexican company is already considering an investment in F1 as a sponsor. Grandprix.com10/21/04 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Mexican authorities announced Wednesday evening that Cancun, Mexico will host a Formula One race in October 2006, AFP France report. Local Governor Joaquin Hendricks made the announcement after concluding a series of negotiations with Formula One Management President Bernie Ecclestone. The brand new venue will take place in October 2006 and the new facility will cost in the region of 80 million US dollars and will be spread over 300 hectares. An official announcement is scheduled for next Monday. F1-Live.com10/20/04 The rumor in the Mexican racing community is that the man behind Cancun’s efforts to host an F1 race is none other than Carlos Slim. This mogul is considered to be one (if not the most) of the most powerful businessmen in the country, considered by some to be a sort of Mexican King Midas (whatever he touches turns into gold). If true, then Cancun is a lot closer than everyone thinks, and although Slim is always connected to a lot of rumors, this one seems to be true. José Arrambide10/14/04 According to this article in today's Reforma, Cancun, Mexico will host an F1 race in 2006. José Abed, the representative of FIA in Mexico said that Cancun will have a race in 2006. He was quoted after the FIA meeting in Paris, “ I was with Mr. Ecclestone and he signed the contract already”. According to the article Bernie Ecclestone was questioned about Cancun, and he only smiled and said, "wait, wait." Recall that AutoRacing1.com reported a long time ago that Gerald Forsythe owned the rights to host a race in Cancun and he was talking to Bernie Ecclestone. Jose Arrambide
British woman eyes GP2 Ex-EuroBoss racer Sarah Kavanagh hopes to become the first woman to race in GP2. The Briton, who claims she is close to raising a full budget, said: “Ellen MacArthur’s recent achievement in sailing is inspirational and proves that women are taking on the toughest and unlikeliest of challenges and succeeding. There is nothing to prevent a woman from one day becoming a champion driver.” Autosport Magazine
Silverstone alone, Bernie wins againUPDATE Well it looks like all the F1 venues are in Ecclestone's camp. British Grand Prix bosses have rebutted claims that they have specifically failed to back Bernie Ecclestone over the long-term future of F1 after sources close to the Australian GP promoter Ron Walker suggested that Silverstone was the only track “saying it will not join the campaign.” “We have entered into a five-year contract with FOM which we are happy with,” said Ray Bellm, the chairman of Silverstone Holdings Ltd, the operational arm of the British Racing Drivers’ Club. “Any views about GPWC are academic until they come up with detailed plans.” BRDC chief executive Alex Hooton added: “I would say that I am slightly puzzled by these suggestions.” Autosport Magazine02/15/05 (GMMF1.NET) It's understood that every current grand prix circuit, except one, have lined up to back Bernie Ecclestone in the GPWC dispute. The lone venue, we can reveal, is a long-time Ecclestone antagonist -- Silverstone, home of the recently embattled British grand prix. We reported earlier in February that Ron Walker, key Bernie ally and promoter of the Australian grand prix, lobbied every F1 track, urging them to snub the breakaway. [Editor's Note: End result, where will the GPWC race? Bernie has all the best tracks locked up. As for Silverstone - look for Bernie to announce a London GP, effectively putting Silverstone out of business. This whole GPWC threat is just Ron Dennis and his cohorts posturing to get as much money out of Bernie as they can.]
Sauber eyes switch to BMW engines According to this week's Autosport Magazine, Sauber may get a customer supply of BMW engines next year. The deal would mark the end of Sauber’s relationship with Ferrari, which started back in 1997. It would also reduce Ferrari’s political influence over F1. Peter Sauber said: “Our current two-year engine contract with Ferrari will run out at the end of 2005, which will be the ninth year of co-operation. The partnership between Sauber Petronas and Ferrari has been, and still is, excellent. However, there will be completely new engine regulations, including the use of cheaper components, as of 2006. As a result, there might be different opportunities for our team. I will begin to evaluate all potential options, which naturally include Ferrari, at the beginning of next season . It goes without saying that I have informed Jean Todt accordingly.”
A BMW spokesman confirmed that supplying engines to Sauber was a possibility. “We have not yet made a decision as to whether or not we will supply customer engines,” he said. “I can confirm that we have had an approach from Sauber – and indeed also from Red Bull – but nothing has been decided. There have been talks and there will be more talks.”
Champ Car at LeMansUPDATE #2 In this Grandprix.com article, Jacques Regis, the president of the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile (FFSA), the promoter of the French Grand Prix, told reporters that the FFSA was paying Bernie Ecclestone $11.9m for the right to host the event. This year, in launching the event, he was not as forthcoming with information, explaining that that things would be just as difficult this year as last but refusing to talk about the numbers, except to say that the price being charged by the Formula One group had been increased by 10%. This means that the FFSA is paying $13m this year. .....The FFSA organization, which is run by Eric Barbaroux, a former manager at Prost Grand Prix, has worked hard to keep down the costs of the event but Regis says that it is not going to be easy to break even in 2005. "We are going to be on the limit," he said. "I think this is the case with all the race organizers. It is a real problem." Regis added that if F1 gets to be too expensive France might have to look elsewhere and commented that rumors that Le Mans might hold a Champ car race were "quite possible" given that Sebastien Bourdais comes from the town. "Motor sport is quite popular in France," he said. "The problem is accessibility. People would like to see it but they cannot afford it." 12/06/04 Sebastien Bourdais said in an interview Sunday on RMC INFO radio that he is involved in a project for a Champ Car French Grand Prix. If everything goes right, the race could be added to the 2005 championship, but the chances are not high. He said he tried to get the race on the Portland date but was not successful. Now it appears a September date is possible. Preliminary 2005 Champ Car schedule. 11/11/04 Autoracing1.com has learned that a race promoter has stepped forward and expressed an interest in promoting a Champ Car race on the Bugatti circuit at famous LeMans (map at right courtesy of e-tracksonline). The Bugatti circuit (shown right) is a 9-turn 2.655 mile circuit that uses the best parts of the longer 24 Hours of LeMans track. LeMans Location map.
Glock to test Champ CarUPDATE This rumor was never updated to 'fact' but it is now since test did happen with Rocketsports. Now it remains to be seen if Glock finds a Champ Car drive. 01/31/05 There are rumors that Jordan Grand Prix's Timo Glock may not stay in Formula 1 this year and could be seen testing a Champ Car in the next few days. Glock had been expected to be one of the team's drivers this year thanks to his backing from the DHL-supported Motorsport Academy but the change of team ownership may have upset that deal and the German youngster could end up in America where you can get a great deal more for your money. Grandprix.com
Where will Glock and Pizzonia fit in?UPDATE #2 Sources tell us that Ryan Hunter-Reay will soon be confirmed in the 2nd Rocketsports seat, meaning that as impressive as German Timo Glock may have been in testing, he still can't find an open seat in Champ Car unless another team picks him up. We await an official announcement from Rocketsports announcing its 2005 driver lineup. 02/04/05 A RuSPORT spokesperson tells AutoRacing1.com, "RuSPORT will not be running a third car for Timo Glock (right). One of the primary reasons we made our team/driver announcement back in November was so that we could put those distractions aside and really focus on our 2005 program and winning races this season. With AJ and Justin in place, that is now the direction RuSPORT is actively pursuing." So then, where will Glock and Pizzonia fit in? 02/04/05 Our inside sources within Champ Car tell us that Ryan Hunter-Reay will drive for Rocketsports alongside Alex Tagliani. If so, where does that leave guys like Timo Glock and Antonio Pizzonia (right), both of whom can really pedal a car and are said to have money behind them? We could see Pizzonia in a third Newman/Haas car with Brazilian Petrobras backing. Could that be why his manager was spotted flying to Chicago today? Newman/Haas is headquartered just outside of Chicago.
If Glock is as fast as everyone said today, could we see him in a third RuSPORT car, which Carl Russo has told us he would do in the right situation. We live in interesting times as this most intriguing of Silly Season rumbles on.
de la Rosa to drive third McLarenUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Pedro de la Rosa will complete the three-man McLaren Mercedes driver line-up at the first three Grand Prix of the season the team confirmed today, as he takes on the role of Friday tester for the Woking-based squad.
McLaren had a difficult season last year with the MP4-19 and by the time the 'b' specification car was introduced mid-season, there was little chance of much championship success. Despite a win in Belgium, McLaren Mercedes finished fifth in the Constructors' championship and is therefore eligible to run a third car in Friday practice. It is this role that Pedro de la Rosa is hoping to make the best of.
Pedro de la Rosa will run the third MP4-20 in Melbourne, Sepang and Bahrain. Following those first three races the team hope to have the option to use Alex Wurz whose running in the MP4-20 has was curtailed early on as he was unable to fit comfortably into Adrian Newey's latest charge. With modifications, McLaren expect to have the Austrian back in the latest equipment from the team.
Pedro de la Rosa joined McLaren in 2003 after losing his Jaguar Racing ride at the end of the 2002 season. With 63 starts to his credit de la Rosa will undoubtedly help McLaren this year as he takes on a similar role of that enjoyed last year by Anthony Davidson at BAR. McLaren
02/15/05 Spanish driver Pedro de la Rosa says he will drive the third McLaren on Friday for the first three races of the F1 season. "It's true that I've been guaranteed the seat for Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain," de la Rosa told Spanish daily As. "For the next races they will decide if it's Wurz or me. But at the moment I'm only thinking about those three races." We await a confirmation from McLaren.
Dominguez signs deal with Midland-JordanUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. AutoRacing1.com spoke to Mario Dominguez today in Mexico. "To clear the record, yes, I have signed a letter of intent to drive for the Midland Jordan team in 2006," said Dominguez. However, It is not vital that I bring money to get the ride, because the team and the series knows that if I am in the series there will be great interest in F1 from Mexican sponsors. However, with a lot of other drivers bringing money I am competing against them. I will do whatever I have to do get the sponsors I need.
"I was offered a deal to be the third/Friday driver for 2005 and it did not require that I bring any money. However, that would have been a full-time commitment to travel to all the races and do testing. I had to turn it down because I have a contract with HVM in Champ Car for 2005, a good contract that pays me well and I intend to honor it. What everyone must understand is that F1 is a dream for me. When I drove the Jordan last week it was the first time in 12 years that a Mexican drove an F1 car, and although my test was cut short due to weather and Tiago Monteiro crashing the car in the morning, it was still a great experience and I am thankful for the opportunity.
"In September Midland will have the new Dallara ready for testing and I may do some more testing at that time," added Dominguez. "I think by me getting involved with F1 will bring good exposure to my sponsors in Champ Car this year, as well as my team and Champ Car." Mark Cipolloni
02/15/05 Our sources tell us that in order to be a test driver for Jordan, Dominguez has to bring $10 million (USD) in sponsorship for 2005. If he does well enough and lands a full-time ride in 2006 it will be contingent on him bringing even more sponsorship money. Whether he is able to raise that much money remains to be seen, and we'll believe it when we see it. 02/15/05 AutoRacing1.com sources at HVM tell us that they expect Mexican Champ Car driver Mario Dominguez to drive for the Midland/Jordan team in 2006 and test on occasion with the team in 2005, when there are no Champ Car conflicts. He will definitely drive in Champ Car in 2005. While he may have inked a deal with Jordan, he is probably not assured of a drive and could be relegated to test driver or third driver (Friday). He will have to earn a regular drive by beating both Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan, who will be the team's regular drivers in 2005. Whether or not there will be a F1 race in Mexico will probably be a factor as well, as we're sure his sponsors, as well as Bernie Ecclestone, would want that. Currently that deal is being held up by a land acquisition dispute for a track outside of Cancun. Mark C.
LB program to be incomplete Rumor has it that the race program for the Long Beach GP must go to print soon and it will do so with only the 9 or so drivers currently confirmed for 2005. The Champ Car series has a lot of unsponsored teams with deals that are close.
Why is everything so late? It's due in large part because the TV deal was delayed so long. Instead of being signed and announced in June/July when it could have been, it was delayed until December and January, long after companies lock in their advertising/marketing budgets for the following year (That is done in July/August). The excuse was that it was delayed in order to get Long Beach on network TV. A firm isn't going to pay huge sums of money to sponsor a car with no TV exposure. With a Champ Car program not a line item in their budget, the best a team can hope to do is land money out of a sponsor's contingency fund. So the scenario now is that teams are hoping to combine what little sponsorship they can find with money a driver can bring. Hence why teams are testing so many drivers, in hope that the driver's sponsor will step up and do a deal for the Champ Car series.
And so we wait.....as do the promoters, the teams, the drivers, and everyone else involved in the series.....wait for the very last minute and scramble to put 18 cars on the grid for Long Beach. We hear that even the media event in Indy (that we rumored) has had to be nixed because too many teams can't have their paint schemes and uniforms made in time, another golden opportunity to get some positive media coverage for the series lost. The current administration isn't the only one to blame, we have seen the same scenario played out for the past five years.
The good news? The new TV deal is for multiple years, so next year's schedule and TV details should be announced by June or July and hopefully we won't see a repeat of this year. There is other good news coming too, once the series can get 2005 out of the blocks.
Friesacher to complete Minardi lineupUPDATE #6 This rumor is updated to 'fact' with today's announcement that Friesacher will complete Minardi's lineup. See story on Hot News page Our 2005 F1 Silly Season Page is now complete.. 02/15/05 Ex-Formula 3000 racer Patrick Friesacher is set to be announced as Minardi's second driver after Danish driver Nicolas Kiesa's proposed budget for the seat collapsed. Friesacher, who is managed by Thomas Frank, promoter of the Hungarian Grand Prix and consultant to the team behind this year's new race in Turkey, has been in discussions with team boss Paul Stoddart since September, although the role under consideration was as third driver. With the collapse of Kiesa's support it is believed that Friesacher will obtain the seat on a budget which is a third of that proposed by the Dane. Autosport.com02/12/05 Austrian Patrick Friesacher could drive for Minardi this season after the Formula One team said they would make an announcement in the country next week. While no names were given ahead of the news conference near Klagenfurt, 24-year-old Friesacher has been in the frame to fill the third driver test role on Fridays before grand prix weekends. However, sources suggested he could still be handed the race drive alongside Dutchman Christijan Albers if Denmark's Nicolas Kiesa, being lined up for the second seat, proved unable to raise the required sponsorship. Reuters02/11/05 With three weeks to go before the start of the 2005 season the Minardi team is likely to announce Patrick Friesacher on the 15th of February. The Austrian could sign as Minardi's third driver. Friesacher would then join Dutchman Christijan Albers at Minardi probably on the Friday of each Grand Prix weekend only. Who will become Albers' race teammate is not announced yet. 02/10/05 (GMMF1.NET) A long delay has cast into doubt the speculated Formula One return of Danish driver Nicolas Kiesa. As a result, 2004 Minardi pilot, Zsolt Baumgartner - albeit linked with a switch to Champ Car - might be back in contention for the Faenza drive. Minardi's second-driver confirmation had been expected early in the week. The new speculation brings into focus a 'hint' about the identity of Christijan Albers' new teammate, uttered recently by team chief Paul Stoddart. Paul said: ''He's European ... he's raced in F1 before and he's driven for Minardi before.'' 02/10/05 Nicolas Kiesa was due to be confirmed as a Minardi driver this week but nothing has been heard about the Danish driver and thus it is safe to assume that he is still trying to get the necessary money together to fund the drive. The team is unlikely to sit around waiting for Kiesa and is now understood to be talking once again with Hungary's Zsolt Baumgartner, who appears to be second in line to the Minardi "throne" alongside Christijan Albers. The team is also believed to be in discussion with another Dutchman, Robert Doornbos about a deal as he is believed to have some money available having lost out on a drive at Jordan. Grandprix.com02/07/05 According to our F1 sources, Nicolas Kiesa will get the 2nd seat and Friesacher the third seat (Friday test driver) for Minardi this year. With Albers already announced, that will complete the Minardi lineup for 2005 as well as the grid. The only questions left standing are who will start for Red Bull (Klien or Liuzzi) and Jordan (Monteiro or Karthikeyan).
TMS could lose 2nd Cup race For years, Texas Motor Speedway lobbied NASCAR for a second race weekend. Now that the speedway finally has it, the onus is on to fill the massive track. It never has been a problem selling out the spring race, with crowds of 200,000-plus at TMS. This year, the setup is better than ever for that race. The Samsung/Radio Shack 500 has been pushed back a few weeks to April 17, giving it a better shot at avoiding the rain and cold that have dogged the Nextel Cup event in the past.
But Texas has a second Nextel Cup race in 2005, the Dickies 500 on Nov.6, and NASCAR will keep a close eye on ticket sales. "The second Cup race is good for one year," said Tom Krompitz, the speedway's general counsel. "Another race in 2006 depends on us selling out the speedway in 2005."
TMS officials are asking the city of Fort Worth to contribute $500,000 to help with marketing. Early indications are that the city will kick in the money. The speedway will throw $2.8-million into marketing this year. "It makes a lot of sense to come to a market as big as Dallas-Fort Worth twice," said Jeff Gordon, a four-time series champion, "but everyone is clamoring for a race, and NASCAR wants to spread them across the country." St. Petersburg Times
Valiante could get drive This Edmonton website article says that Michael Valiante will be competing in the Edmonton Champ Car race. Do they know something we don't? Perhaps Edmonton has raised sponsorship for Valiante to compete at Edmonton because he is Canadian and comes from nearby British Columbia.
Midland signs engine deal with Ferrari Rumors suggest that the Midland F1 team (now Jordan) has done a deal to use Ferrari engines in 2006. This of course is not good for Cosworth because Red Bull is also shopping. If they jump ship too, Cosworth will be down to one team, Minardi. This could all change if Cosworth can produce an engine to perform on par with the big boys, but the big boys are spending a lot of money to stay ahead.
Fontana won’t sell out A reader writes to inform us, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I just wanted to let you know about a couple of things going on out west here...
I walked into the office this morning to my weekend mail, included in it was a promotional flyer on buying tickets for NASCAR's Auto Club 500. The offer was essentially, buy one overpriced ticket for Sunday's race, and get tickets for Friday and Saturday, and half off a paddock pass. With only 12 days or so before the race, there must be big number of unsold tickets, which has made the promoters nervous. Very unusual for NASCAR. Maybe it was the moving of the date, who knows!
Also, as a long-time staunch supporter of Champ Car, I was happy to see the pit rule changes for 2005! All I can say is, Thank God! What in the world were they thinking last year with that silly rule (seriously, I know the rule was implemented partly because they wanted the fastest cars out front dicing for the lead without fuel economy runs). In my opinion, last year's rule was trying to micro-manage the event too much (didn't work). I love the possibility of a team that doesn't have a chance to win on outright speed, using every resource they have, to outmaneuver the top teams and win an occasional race. There have been incredibly exciting "fuel-run gamble" races over the years (Long Beach Andretti Victory, Max Papis Podium Laguna Seca, Mark Blundell at Detroit years ago, and of course the famous Portland three cars across the line at one time finish). I think it takes a sometimes boring follow-the-leader race, and makes it interesting to watch! Charlie Frank, Westlake Village, CA
IRL finds replacement for ChevyUPDATE #3 AutoRacing1.com has learned that any new IRL engine supplier won't be badging a Cosworth engine, so if there is any truth to this rumor, they will have to design their own engine or go to perhaps Ilmor. We are downgrading this rumor to 'speculation' for now. 02/08/05 Speculation is rampant that the company who may badge the Cosworth IRL engine is Hyundai. How ironic that Champ Car will race in South Korea this year and can't land a South Korean company to badge their Cosworth engine but the IRL, who doesn't race in South Korea and is supposed to be everything 'American," can. Will Honda and Toyota stick around to beat up on Hyundai? Time will tell. 02/02/05 Doesn't amount to a hill of beans unless that 'Asian' engine manufacturer is agreeing to supply the entire field, and even if so they will certainly not be throwing the kind of money at teams Toyota and Honda are and therefore the teams will not have sufficient budgets to run.....Toyota has publicly stated that they prefer an AMERICAN manufacturer in the IRL for them to compete against. Chevy has said it will not compete, even with Cosworth building the engines, beyond 2005. 02/02/05 Rumor has it that the IRL is close to a multi-year deal with another Asian engine manufacturer to badge the Cosworth engines that Chevy was badging in the IRL starting in 2006. If the rumor is to be believed, supposed several IRL teams have been approached about running the engine in 2006., giving the IRL a full field of Asian engines. After that it is anyone's guess what will happen to any of the manufacturers in the series as a new engine formula will be in place by then. If rumors are to be believed, Cosworth may be the only IRL engine supplier.
New Canadian Champ Car team formedUPDATE #3 Team owner Eric Jensen met with Kevin Kalkhoven and sat in on the owners meeting at Sebring last week. His deal is a go. Our connections at Jensen Motorsport tell us the team's first race will be Toronto. Right now they will be running Reynards unless more sponsor money is found. They have been in contact with a number of drivers, but most drivers are looking for a full-time ride, hence are waiting to see what else they can find (full-time) before possibly doing a deal with Jensen Motorsport for a partial season. Mark C.11/06/04 After a hectic 2004 racing season - which included events in Europe and throughout North America - Jensen MotorSport is poised to graduate to the Champ Car series in 2005. Meanwhile, we plan to continue (and expand) our efforts in both the Toyota Atlantic and Formula BMW USA series. The team has had considerable interest from our existing corporate partners, and some exciting new programs are coming along, so for sure 2005 is the year to graduate to the higher profile series. The move is especially important for the commercial side of Jensen MotorSport, which has for years been managing successful client events and branding programs at races both in the Champ Car and Formula One series. It is our plan to commit to run the Champ Car in just five (5) races in the 2005 season, with a focus on the CANADIAN market. It should prove quite a unique niche for the team, since we will be the first Canadian based team to compete at such a high level professional racing series in more than twenty (20) years. Jensen Motorsports11/06/04 This Toronto Star article says, It is my pleasure today to announce the formation of a new, Canadian-based, Canadian-owned and Canadian-operated, open-wheel Indy-type racing car team that will contest at least five races in the Champ Car World Series in 2005. Eric Jensen of Newcastle, owner and operator of Jensen Motorsport, which campaigned two cars in the 2004 Formula BMW Series and one car (and sometimes two) in the Toyota Atlantic Series, told me this week that his company is a go to run one car in all four of Champ Car's Canadian races next year (Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal) and at least one in the United States (probably San Jose). I know, I know: a Molson Indy Vancouver isn't on the Champ Car schedule yet. But it will be. Trust me.
And here's something really refreshing: he says he has the budget to hire a driver, rather than taking on a chauffeur who would bring money to his team. "I'm going to be able to get the best driver available," Jensen said, adding that his sponsorship deal is nearly complete and an announcement is expected later this month. "A lot of owners in Champ Car have paying drivers, but I don't want to go that route. This way, I can test a few people and then choose the fastest without having to worry about the economic implications."
Jensen's entry will be the first uniquely Canadian team since David Billes's Canadian Tire entry in the old CART series back in the mid-1980s. Jacques Villeneuve, brother of Gilles and uncle of the world champion, was in the cockpit. Jensen is a nationalist and would like to hire a Canadian to drive the Champ Car — he's got a couple of young tigers in mind — but says he'll stick to his guns when it comes to a final evaluation of the talent: "The fastest driver will get the seat."
The Champ Car division will not be occupying all of Jensen's attention next year. He intends to continue with his two-car entry in Formula BMW and he'll likely continue to run at least two cars in the Atlantic series. I say "likely" because he has some questions about the economic viability of that series. "I have some issues with the engines," he said. "The four-cylinder Toyota engines they use in the series are really only reliable for about 500 miles (800 km) before you have to pay for a rebuild. When you average it out, it costs about $20 a mile to run them. I'd like the series to take a hard look at those engines.
"Having said that, no other junior-level series is anywhere close to Atlantic when it comes to professionalism. And it's a great series in that it goes to all the big venues, so it's great for the sponsors. But, as noted, it's expensive." Jensen was at Shannonville Motorsport Park much of the time in recent weeks, testing several potential Atlantic drivers. Antoine Besssette of Montreal and Adam Pecorari of Philadelphia will likely do the series with him next year, although he's optimistic that something might be worked out that would allow him to sign 13-year-old protégée John Edwards, of Little Rock, Ark., who won last month's Red Bull Driver Search showdown test in Estoril, Portugal.
"The problem with the Formula BMW Series, which would be good for John," said Jensen, "is that their insurance policy doesn't cover anybody in the cars under the age of 15. So he can't go there. The Red Bull people have recommended that he spend another year in karts, but I think that would be a waste. He's ready to move on."
A Champ Car team, even if it is only for five races, plus full Toyota Atlantic and Formula BMW programs would appear to be a very full plate. But Jensen insists he isn't worried. "Jensen Motorsport is ready for this," he vowed. "We have been slowly building to get to this point (he formed his first Atlantic team in 1997) and we've got a good platform on which to grow through 2005 and beyond. "To be honest with you, this is a really cool thing we're doing. There hasn't been a Canadian-owned open-wheel team in a top series since the '80s. Brian Stewart's done a great job in his area of the sport (Indy Lights, Infiniti Pro) but hasn't gone any further. We'll start out slowly next year, to make sure we don't bite off more than we can chew. But we're going forward."
Jensen said he also thinks things on the Champ Car front are looking up. "I have to admit I was worried in the spring of 2004 (when Champ Car won a court fight with the Indy Racing League for the rights to the bankrupt CART's races) but I'm not worried any more. "The fact that they announced the schedule this early is good (14 races confirmed, with Edmonton being an addition) because it helps all the teams in their hunt for corporate dollars. Everybody had a hard time this year because things got going so late.
"Demographic studies show North Americans who like open-wheel racing prefer road or street races. I think CART before, and Champ Car now, knows that if you want people to go to your races, you take the races to the cities. The white-collar people are in the cities, and that's who come to races. "I don't ever see a merger. I think, in the end, one of these series will just go away. I think I can safely say it will be the IRL that will go away." 09/06/04 We are hearing that a new Canadian Champ Car team is forming. Stay tuned....
FIA to bar Minardi from Australian GPUPDATE Paul Stoddart says he will take motorsport's governing body to court if it bars his Formula One team from the Australian Grand Prix. Stoddart told Melbourne radio station SEN on Monday: "If that was to happen we would race under protest. Were a protest not to be entertained at the track, it certainly would in the Victorian Supreme Court."
"We've taken some pretty solid legal advice and, if necessary, we will be asking for injunctive relief to race under protest for a case that we know we would win ultimately," Stoddart said.
"Have no fear, Minardi will be there and they will be competing in the 2005 Australian Grand Prix. For were they (the FIA) to do it (ban Minardi), I suspect that nobody would be competing in the 2005 Grand Prix."
02/13/05 While it's all typical F1 posturing and political wrangling to grab the media spotlight, Minardi could be barred by the FIA from taking part in the first F1 race of the year Melbourne, Australia. F1 is great at making a mountain out of a molehill and this is yet another example to cause a controversy as the Australian Grand Prix is considered the Minardi team's "home" GP, given Paul Stoddart is Australian.
Stoddart wants to race his 2004 car adapted to '05 safety standards - but not to this year's technical regulations at the first three races on the 2005 calendar . To do that all other nine F1 teams must agree. Minardi has obtained the green light to race last year's PS04B from eight of the remaining nine F1 teams, but Ferrari has yet to give its OK to Stoddart. Ferrari's non-acceptance would cause Minardi's cars to fail technical inspection in the Melbourne pitlane.
The PS04B would be technically illegal as it would not comply to 2005 rules. Minardi claims it has preferred to focus its efforts on an all-new '05 challenger, and thus could not spend the money necessary to adapt the '04 car.
“All of the teams with the exception of Ferrari have supported us. We believe the cars will be running to legal regulations. If Ferrari and the FIA wish to make an issue of this then it is up to them,” Stoddart complained to Autosport.
FIA president Max Mosley stated: "If there was no prior agreement and Minardi presented to us the 2004 car, that would be illegal under the current regulations. So the Scrutineers would not put a sticker on it and it would never go out of the pit lane.”
Stoddart responded: “We say the cars do comply and if the Scrutineers say no then we would protest, and I would be surprised if we were not allowed to race under protest.”
Stoddart has expressed his displeasure with Max Mosley and has threatened to run against him in the FIA elections for President later this year. Mosley would probably like nothing better than to show him who is boss by barring his cars from the first three races, which is likely to cause his team to lose its sponsorship. In the end, it will be all worked out and the world will have witnessed yet another F1 media ploy to grab headlines where in reality yet another issue was blown well out of proportion. What will be the "hot topic" next week? Mark C.
Smith to Red Bull? Former Renault and Jordan man Mark Smith might now join Red Bull, according to a paddock whisper. Smith, after mere weeks at Jordan, left the team upon confirmation that it had been taken over by the 'Midland' Group. But, rather than - as expected - flee immediately to Toyota, speculation now says the ex-Renault designer could wind up 'deputy technical director' at the former Ford-owned Jaguar team, next to Gunther Steiner. Jordan race engineer Gerry Hughes, meanwhile, also switched from Jordan to Red Bull.
Fisichella to own F3000 team (GMMF1.NET) Giancarlo Fisichella may follow F1 rival Kimi Raikkonen into the world of race team ownership. The Renault driver, with manager Enrico Zanarini, is reportedly contemplating a foray into Italian Formula 3000. ''Nothing is decided so far,'' the 32-year-old Roman told Autosport.
Ranger eyes step up to PanAm series [Editor's Note: With Ranger as of yet not able to land a ride in Champ Car because the teams want more money than he currently has, look for him to possibly end up in the PanAm series driving the V6 cars that are a step up from the Toyota Atlantic cars he drove in 2004.] Andrew Ranger will be the first driver to test the new Renault PanAm V6 race car that was delivered to Gelles Racing less than a week ago. The rising star, who won the Fran-Am 2003 championship only to become the Formula Atlantic 2004 Rookie of the year, was deservingly the best possible driver to take this exciting race machine for its maiden test session in North America, namely Road Atlanta in Georgia.
“We are very happy to have Andrew test with us, declared team owner Bob Gelles. We understand this young phenom is still looking for a seat in Champ Car but a full day of testing in the V6 will demonstrate how exciting the PanAm series is going to be this year and how the careers of young drivers can really benefit from the experience. Furthermore, the winner of the PanAm Racing V6 series will be awarded a full ride in the World Nissan Series for 2006 and a testing session with Renault in Formula One. We even invited some staff from David Price Racing to assist our engineers and crew. We want this session to be as productive for Andrew and for us. We will get a second V6 this week and we have more test days coming in the next weeks.”
While Andrew will have his seat fit early in the morning, other young drivers will be on location to test their racing machines. Brandon Thomas will drive a Renault FR2000: Brandon is the highest returning driver in this series and will be looking for podiums this season.
Four other drivers will test Formula BMW. For the next two days. They are BMW scholar Justin Moon from California, Renato Jader-David from Brazil, Maxime Soulet from Belgium and South African native nor living in the USA, Darin Marcus.
“Justin (Moon) will drive for us this year, continued Gelles, and he has his work cut out until the season starts. Renato (Jader-David) was driving with us last year and he was among the fastest in FR2000: look out for this 20 year-old in BMW this year. Maxime (Soulet) comes to us with high credentials; he was surprised because some of our crew speak French. Darin Marcus was part of the BMW training program in Spain and no doubt he is a driver with a lot of potential.” Gelles Racing
Dominguez not going anywhereUPDATE #2 [Editors Note: We are close to bumping this rumor up to 'fact' as there are simply too many reports that are saying the same thing AutoRacing1.com reported last week - that Dominguez will be in Champ Car in 2005 driving for HVM.] There were reports last week that Mexico's Mario Dominguez was going to pop up testing for Jordan. These stories were initially denied by the team but then Dominguez turned up on Friday and did one single installation lap on Friday before the test was cut short because of the foggy conditions. Dominguez then flew off back to the United States. Our spies south of the border say that the Midland team had serious talks with Dominguez about a deal in 2005 but that he decided to stay in Champ Cars for the coming season because his team is dependent on the sponsorship he brings and pulling out would do the team serious damage. Dominguez may end up as a Jordan test driver on occasion in 2005 and is thought likely to be a strong challenger for a seat in 2006. Grandprix.com02/03/05 Mario Domínguez is not going anywhere, well that’s what he says in the column that he wrote for the Universal Online. He says that 2005 has started with new things for his career. He is glad to know that Midland-Jordan is after him, but at the same time he says that the loyalty with Hernandez Pons is more important. Also, HVM has signed the contract with its new sponsor. He says that he now has a commitment with HVM and the sponsor. "I could get into problems if I leave now," he wrote on the 29th of January. 02/02/05 Our F1 sources tell us that Mario Dominguez will be testing for Midland-Jordan next week at Silverstone; obviously to see if he can drive an F1 car and qualify for the super license. That is good news for Roberto Gonzalez as his seat in Champ Car with HVM will be more secure, but if he gets the F1 ride it will be bad news for Champ Car as another top Mexican driver leaves the series and Mexican sponsors will look to F1 and NASCAR instead of Champ Car. Mark C.
F1 to lose 90% of downforce in '08 Speaking to journalists in London, FIA president Max Mosley has stated that he wants Formula 1 to be drastically different in 2008 with 90% reductions in downforce and an increase in mechanical grip. High downforce aerodynamics in modern F1 is blamed for a lack of overtaking.
“If we get to the stage of sensible racing with proper cars and it is all working, then I think the sport will revitalize itself,” he said. “The racing hasn't been that brilliant. One of the things that we are looking at very carefully is having a huge reduction in downforce and a very big increase in mechanical grip. There is a lot of evidence from simulations that if we go really extreme on this, then it will improve the racing dramatically to help overtaking. It is something that really needs looking at.”
Mosley believes that downforce may be cut back to as little as 10 percent of the current level, with increased mechanical grip from wider tires.
“I was completely delighted and astonished to see that with no contact from us, they (Ferrari) had come to the same view that if you want to improve overtaking then you need to do this step,” added Mosley. “I think the other teams will eventually come around, the rational teams will sign up with Bernie, between four and six of them, and they will sit down and do these rules. The others will huff and puff on the outside and say that we will do this or that, and then we will be in a position that F1 is the best championship and they will calm down. It will be easier doing the nitty, gritty with quiet rational people.”
Lasoski to try NASCAR World of Outlaws star Danny "the Dude" Lasoski told MRN Radio's Sirius Speedway host Dave Moody he would like to have a shot at NASCAR. "I love World of Outlaws racing but I might have to talk to Tony (Stewart) and see if he can do something for us here next year. These things are challenging to drive and I love a challenge." Lasoski is in Daytona practicing for the Crown Royal International Race Of Champions event February 18th. He also is running Tony Stewart's World of Outlaws sprint car at Volusia Speedway Park, East of Daytona, Friday and Saturday night. MRN Radio/Sirius Speedway
Nextel Cup name may stay The merger of Nextel and Sprint will produce a company called Sprint-Nextel, but that doesn't necessarily mean the name of the Nextel Cup series will change. "No decision on that will be made probably until the August time frame,'' Mark Schweitzer, senior vice president of Nextel, said Thursday. "We're going to be careful and cautious about that. We spent a lot of money building it out in the first year. The industry and fans have embraced it. So we'll study that decision carefully. The Nextel brand assets are a really important part of the merger.'' The $35 billion merger was announced in December and still has to receive approval through the regulatory process. That could take several more months. Schweitzer said decisions haven't been made on whether any Nextel and Sprint products and services will retain their current identities or receive a combination name. He pointed out that after the Exxon and Mobil oil companies merged, they kept separate brand identities for their service stations. "We're in that process of evaluating the brand equities of the two companies, and we're being open-minded and letting the research and the discussions manage the process vs. going in with an agenda.'' Schweitzer said the new company will remain committed to NASCAR and that spending on marketing should increase. "They [Sprint] spend three times what Nextel spends in advertising, so in helping build the awareness of the sport - the sponsorship certainly, but the sport more generally - that should translate into more positive investment.'' If the sponsorship name does change for 2006, it would be the second change in three years. Nextel Cup replaced Winston Cup at the start of the 2004 season. Tampa Tribune
Monterrey race woesUPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement. See Hot News page. 02/04/05 We are hearing again that the Monterrey race will move to Sunday and it will now probably be shown on SPEED rather than NBC. The reason for moving it to Saturday in the first place was so the race could be on network TV. 01/31/05 We are upgrading this rumor to "very strong" as our sources tell us the promoter of Monterrey, Mexico is in full revolt and the race will be moved from Saturday back to its normal Sunday date. Reasons are given in this rumor below. Mark C.01/22/05 Word on the street in Mexico is that moving the Monterrey race from Sunday to Saturday is going to have a negative impact on attendance in a big way. Instead of being a weekend event, the move makes the race a defacto one-day ordeal. Asking poor Mexican fans to buy a 3 day pass when most people can’t attend Thursday and Friday because of their jobs will make it difficult this year. Also fans who viewed the race as a complete weekend fun event will now be faced with the decision of just going to the race on Saturday.
Our sources on the ground in Mexico tell us to expect a decrease in attendance, and expect everyone who is against Champ Car to declare the Monterrey event dead after this 5th event. Local organizers have declared that they haven’t received this notice officially and are disappointed that they had to read the news on the official Champ Car web page. Our sources tell us that if Champ Car is trying to kill this race, they are doing a great job, alienating fans and local organizers. [Editor's Note: We don't make the news, we just report it.]
Wallace having seconds thoughts? Rusty Wallace is busy preparing for his "Last Call," but the St. Louis native might be willing to keep the bar open a little longer. Wallace said Thursday he is having second thoughts about retiring at the end of the 2005 NASCAR season and will consider running further Nextel Cup races beyond the upcoming schedule. His final go-round is being touted as Rusty's "Last Call," and already is being heavily promoted as the Daytona 500 approaches. Of his second thoughts, Wallace said: "People who are retired told me it will pass. I'm hoping halfway through the year the thing that forced me into retirement, the 36 races every year, will make me say it's the right decision. ... If there had been 30 races, I wouldn't have retired. STLToday
Trouble at Spa (GMMF1.NET) All is not well, again, in the world of Spa-Francorchamps' Belgian grand prix. An argument about money, according to a whisper, threatens to disrupt running of September's race in the green Ardennes. In 2003, Spa lost its spot on the F1 calendar following a dispute about local anti-tobacco advertising. This time, though, it's reportedly the circuit promoter and the surrounding regions at loggerheads. The F1 track winds through the towns of Malmedy and Stavelot -- and, according to an unofficial report, the respective mayors are arguing about their share of the race's ticket admission sales. The parties will meet on 23 February.
F1 calendar to expand to over 20 races (GMMF1.NET) Bernie Ecclestone will not be satisfied until there are more than twenty grands prix on the F1 calendar. The 74-year-old supremo said 2005's unprecedented scheduled of 19 events 'is a pretty good start. ''But we're not finished yet. ''We've got Istanbul now,'' he added, ''and we're working really hard on Russia. I think we can manage twenty or twenty one (races), can't we?'' Race number 21, he revealed, could be a city grand prix, perhaps in London. ''Or Vienna,'' he chimed. Ecclestone continued: ''Imagine it -- a big city, a grand prix car winding between historic buildings. I think people would like that. I would.''
Stoddart for FIA president (GMMF1.NET) Incumbent Max Mosley may not go unchallenged at the upcoming FIA presidential election. 'F1 Racing' magazine reported that many non-Ferrari teams are gravely concerned about apparent prejudice and the way in which a new regulation is introduced. ''Now,'' said effective Group of Nine spokesman Paul Stoddart, ''Max ... is acting counter to (F1's) best interest.'' Might Australia's Stoddart put himself forward as a candidate for the presidency? The Minardi owner answered: ''If the job were to be split up (into a vice F1-specific role) ... that would certainly interest me.'' Someone mentioned the Stoddart rumor to Max Mosley at Thursday's media lunch in London. He grinned: ''(Paul) and Minardi know more than anyone about slowing a car down.''
Red Bull to run blank livery (GMMF1.NET) Red Bull will race a nearly blank F1 livery throughout the '05 season. At the Jerez test, David Coulthard & co. are at the wheel of a revised, darker paint job for the RB1 -- featuring nearly no non-Red Bull sponsorship. Team principal Christian Horner denied that the blank livery indicates that Red Bull will be starved for cash. ''We have a sensible budget to do the job,'' he told Autosport, ''(and team owner Dietrich) Mateschitz likes the livery of the car as it is.'' Only Michelin and Red Bull associate Rauch are also represented on the RB1 uniform, with Horner insisting that the Anglo-Austrian team would welcome 'the right' commercial support.
Another F1 team in takeover talks Formula One could see another independent team change ownership after the recent takeovers of Jordan and Jaguar, FIA president Max Mosley hinted on Thursday. "I think there are negotiations going on with one of the remaining independent teams as I understand it," he told reporters. Minardi boss Paul Stoddart said his team was not for sale. Sauber were not available for comment. Jordan were bought by the Midland Group of Russian-born Canadian businessman Alex Shnaider last month while Red Bull purchased Jaguar from Ford in November and changed the name.
Asked about the chance of new manufacturers coming into the sport with their own teams, Mosley said: "I think they will be watching Toyota very carefully. If Toyota start to succeed in the next year or two, I think that might encourage one or two others to come. "But if they find it difficult, I think people will be more inclined to come in through a team."
Toyota are the last carmaker to come into Formula One with an entirely new team, making their debut in 2002. So far they have struggled, beating only Minardi and Jordan in the championship despite spending huge sums. Reuters
Bernie's offer to teams the same There are reports today that Bernie Ecclestone has upped his offer to the Formula 1 teams to as much as 50% of the total income of Formula 1 from 2008 onwards, but the reality is that this offer is much the same as was on the table before when there were previous discussions about money. The teams are in any case not going to decide anything until they hear what the GPWC's package will include. This will be revealed to them next week by iSe, the company which the GPWC has appointed to put together a new series. Ecclestone is also talking about bonus payments for teams which sign up before the end of the current agreement, which is designed to be attractive to teams that are short of money in the short term.
FIA President Max Mosley has been voicing his support for Ecclestone and says that Ecclestone has long-term contracts with the race promoters. This is true but it ought to be pointed out that both sides have obligations under such contracts. Promoters have to pay Ecclestone and he had to deliver them cars. If he does not have bona fide F1 cars, he does not have a contract. Mosley also said that Ecclestone controls the Formula 1 brand. This is partly true although all that is necessary for someone to add TM to the end of an expression is an application for a trademark. The granting of the trademark is a rather more complicated issue. The FIA owns the right to "Formula One", which is not the same as Formula 1. The other point that should be remembered is that the three banks who are partners in the Formula One group are currently challenging Ecclestone for control of the company and so it is not Ecclestone who has the contracts and brands. It is the company. If the banks control the company Ecclestone might end up with very little say in the matter, still less if the banks did a deal with the GPWC and put iSe in control of the commercial side of the business. More at Grandprix.com
Baumgartner eyes Minardi and Champ CarUPDATE #2 Nicolas Kiesa was due to be confirmed as a Minardi driver this week but nothing has been heard about the Danish driver and thus it is now understood to be talking once again with Hungary's Zsolt Baumgartner, who appears to be second in line to the Minardi "throne" alongside Christijan Albers. The team is also believed to be in discussion with another Dutchman, Robert Doornbos about a deal as he is believed to have some money available having lost out on a drive at Jordan. Grandprix.com02/07/05 According to our F1 sources, Nicolas Kiesa will get the 2nd seat and Friesacher the third seat (Friday test driver) for Minardi this year. If true, then Baumgartner is shut out of F1 for 2005. Will he turn to Champ Car? 02/06/05 Hungarian driver Zsolt Baumgartner has told Sky Sports that, with only one F1 seat remaining to be filled before the 2005 season starts, he remains hopeful he can land it. (We would say his chances are slim and none.) The 24-year-old revealed that he has recently held talks about a return to Paul Stoddart's outfit as a partner to Dutch driver Christijan Albers - but that negotiations are currently at stalemate. "My management is still having talks and I would love to join my ex-team Minardi, but to achieve this goal many conditions must be fulfilled," he said. "They had an offer for us a couple of weeks ago, but the conditions weren't present in this approach. "Since then we haven't started new talks with them," he added.
Baumgartner also mentioned the possibility of an F1 test contract or even pursuing his career in the US Champ Car series. But he has not given up hope of being on the starting grid in Melbourne on March 6. "Many people ask what will happen to me and some of them simply say that my F1 career is over," he said. "It's not a fact, it's just a question and I would like to ask for more patience from the media and the public," he told Sky Sports.
Road courses wearing on HornishUPDATE Sam Hornish Jr. participated in Wednesday’s test sessions wearing a brace on his right hand, the result of a tendonitis in his thumb. “It doesn’t hurt anymore,” Hornish said. “They just want me to wear this for three weeks so it doesn’t come back. It’s like a repetitive-motion injury. I got a bit of a sprain in it from not having enough room (in the car). I kept going with it and didn’t do anything about it soon enough.” Surgery is not expected on the injured thumb, and Hornish does not expect to be wearing the brace for the IRL opener March 6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. SPEEDTV.com01/26/05 Word on the street is that Sam Hornish Jr. has tendonitis in his right wrist from all the shifting he has been doing trying to get up to speed with road racing for the upcoming IRL season. We also hear that when he was testing one of Team Penske's old Champ Cars he was a bit tight in the cockpit. The car was originally set up for Gil de Ferran or Helio Castroneves. Mark C.
Berger set for F1 return (GMMF1.NET) Former GP winner Gerhard Berger might soon be ready to return to the F1 paddock. The 45-year-old, who left a role as joint BMW motor sport director in September 2003, said he's spent the time away from racing 'refreshing my brain' and getting business and family life back on track. He said: ''Maybe soon I'll be hungry again for a job in racing.'' But Austria's Berger, remember, recently turned down a job at friend Dieter Mateschitz's new 'Red Bull' team. He probably, though, won't resume the post alongside Mario Theissen, after criticizing Williams' engine partner for allowing the recent driver 'turmoil' - like the loss of both Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya and the late naming of Mark Webber's teammate - to occur.
Sepang to open '06 season (GMMF1.NET) Australia is likely to shake-up next year's F1 calendar. Melbourne's 'Grand Prix Corporation' chairman Ron Walker said he'd shortly travel to London to meet with Bernie Ecclestone and request a date change for the 2006 event. Unlike since 1996, Walker - to avert a clash with the Melbourne Commonwealth Games - wants to give up the season-opening slot for a late-April date.
''It's not going to bother us,'' Walker told Australian media. ''It may bother them ... '' Ron hinted that Malaysia's round could be promoted to the opening spot for one year. A football spokesman, meanwhile, admitted that the 'AFL' might adjourn Melbourne-based games between April 28-30, to subsequently avert their own clash.
Fernandez might drive Busch carUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Adrian Fernandez will run for Hendrick Motorsports in the Busch Series race in Mexico City, and only for this race. His sponsors will be Lowe’s and Telmex. Jose Arrambide and Hector Serrano01/28/05 Unwilling to have anything but an overwhelming success in its first south-of-the-border venture, NASCAR is believed to be working at securing Mexico’s biggest auto racing star, Adrian Fernandez, a one-off ride for the upcoming Busch Series race at Mexico City. Fernandez, who was shut out of an IndyCar ride this year due to lack of sponsorship dollars - he preferred to focus on his ownership role at Fernandez Racing, which will campaign cars for Scott Sharp and Kosuke Matsuura - could join his former Champ Car colleague Michel Jourdain Jr, so far event’s biggest fan-drawer. Jourdain has signed a deal with ppc Racing to contest the full 2005 Busch Series season. Mexican touring car standouts Carlos Contreras and Jorge Goeters have already been confirmed to race at the inaugural Telcel-Motorola 200 at the famed Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. SPEEDTV.com01/23/05 In a Miami Herald article, Adrian Fernandez, who helped facilitate NASCAR's deal with his longtime sponsor, Telmex, to hold the Busch race in Mexico City in March, said he would consider racing a Busch car for that event. He has been approached by Busch teams, but only wants to do it if he's with a good team that has a shot to win.
Will the Superfund Series ever materialize?UPDATE A reader writes, It sounds to me like OWRS should be talking to the Superfund people to form The Superfund Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. They seem to have problems getting started and Champ car needs new cars! Kelly O'Connor, Altoona, Iowa02/09/05 The Formula Superfund Series could relaunch itself as an Asian-based winter championship, says series boss Martin Schneider. The launch of the 600bhp GP2 rival, originally scheduled for May, was postponed earlier this year. Now it could take on the A1 Grand Prix series by running over the winter. Schneider said: “Asia is a very interesting market for Superfund. We believe in the concept of this series and we are working hard to make it succeed. We hope to announce our plans in May.” The Austrian company has held talks with the Coloni-run Italian F3000 series about a title sponsorship arrangement. Autosport Magazine [Editor's Note: There are simply too many series out there and not enough sponsor dollars for everyone to be properly funded. Don't hold your breath on this one.]
BMW says no to Red Bull This Grandprix.com article says (excerpts), The word on the street in Munich is that the management of BMW Motorsport has already told Red Bull Racing that it will not be supplying them with engines in 2006. If true, this is interesting as it either suggests that BMW is not keen to supply another team or it means that the company has done a deal with another team.
Cosworth is looking to continue in F1 with the aim being to supply Minardi with the new V8 engines which will be introduced next year. Cosworth may also want to keep Red Bull Racing as well if the Austrians cannot find a good alternative.
Cosworth has been undergoing restructuring in recent months with a new company called Cosworth Racing taking over the assets of the old Cosworth Racing. In addition Cosworth Racing's boss Tim Routsis has recently been given the job of looking after Pi Research, in addition to running the engine business. Both are now owned by Champ Car bosses Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe.
Germans eye ALMS,LMESUPDATE We are upgrading this rumor to 'fact' today. Motorsport News reports today that Porsche will enter a works LMP2 car at Petit LeMans this year and also make a privateer package available. Porsche also has given the green light in the boardroom for a new works LMP1 in 2006. 02/04/05 At least one, possibly two German LMP entries are rumored to be eying the ALMS series for 2005. Announcements could come any day.
A1 GP to add Mexico race Word in Mexico is that the A1 Grand Prix series will run somewhere in Mexico next year, February 16th to be precise. The track wasn't revealed yet, but they are coming to Mexico said the organizers of the race in a press conference today. The possible tracks are the "Cancun F1 track" and of course the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, but NOT Monterrey. The Mexican team must have a Mexican driver behind the wheel of the Team A1 Mexico entry. They have talked with Mario Dominguez, Luis Diaz, Memo Rojas and Piero Rodarte. The cost of the franchise will be $8 million. We await the formal announcement from A1 GP. Hector Serrano reporting from Mexico
Tony George to start IPS team too Rumor has it that Tony George will not only start an IndyCar team just for his stepson Ed Carpenter (no one else will run him), but he will also announce Tuesday he will run an IPS team because of so few cars in that series this year. This of course confirms just what a mess Tony George has made of open wheel racing in the USA. Compare where the sport was under CART in 1995 (including the support series) and where it is now 10 years later. The damage to the sport is simply unconscionable and Tony George must be held primarily accountable for its destruction.
Champ Car to eliminate Pit WindowsUPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Regarding pit windows, wouldn’t tire warmers greatly reduce the strategic need for stretching fuel mileage and staying out longer than one’s competitors? I agree that pit windows are a bit awkward, but anything is better than fuel economy runs where no one can afford to try a pass. If you eliminate pit windows but don’t do anything about cold tires (and the precious time lost on them), I suspect the Push-to Pass-button won’t be used much and parades will be the norm. Lando Magee, Houston, TX Dear Lando, The advantage gained by fuel economy runs is typically as a result of trying to eliminate one pit stop, a huge advantage if the track stays green. If Champ Car were to eliminate the maximum fuel allocated for a race (Neither F1 nor NASCAR stipulate max fuel usage) and give them all the fuel they want, teams would be more apt to run all out to win a race and make full use of the P2P button. With no engine competition in Champ Car and, therefore, no runaway HP race, Champ Car should do away with silly minimum fuel mileage requirements and let them race. Sure a team can gamble and try to eliminate a pit stop in any given race, but they run the risk of the track going yellow, the cars bunching up, and a driver in 2nd or 3rd who has plenty of fuel, blowing them off on the restart and beating them to the checkered. We say eliminate both pit windows and fuel restrictions. And yes, give them tire warmers so skipping a pit stop doesn't give you as much of an advantage as it does today. 100% all-out driving should be encouraged. If they burn up their tires, that's the gamble they take, but the Bridgestone tires have proven to be quite durable. Mark C.02/08/05 This Champ Car article says, One thing Tony Cotman views quite differently than his predecessor (John Lopes) is the mandatory pit windows that have been a feature of the Champ Car World Series, albeit in various guises, since 2003. The pit windows -- which specify the maximum laps cars may run between pit stops -- were instituted to discourage teams from trying to win races on the basis of fuel mileage rather than outright speed. Although the windows put the emphasis back on speed, many -- Cotman included -- think the “fix” is worse than the ailment. Here is one instance where Cotman thinks having been “out” of Champ Car racing since 2002 is a positive.
“Granted, I haven’t been in the series the past two years,” he says “But from a fan or spectator or a television point of view, I have had no idea what’s going on with the pit windows. And if I don’t have any idea what’s going on, how do we expect the regular fan in the stands to know what’s going on? The goal is to take it out of the hands of the officials and put the onus back on the teams. There’s definitely more than one way to win a race, and if one of them happens to be one team outsmarting everybody on fuel mileage, that’s just part of racing.
“Maybe teams can look at their strategies in a different light. I’m not saying we should all sit there saving fuel all day because that’s not necessarily going to be the way to go. But I believe there’s more positives than negatives by far.” [Editor's Note: Until this rule change is announced, it is listed as a rumor.]
Jordan to carry Toyota branding Based on the Toyota decal that the new Jordan is now sporting, word is that in exchange for giving the team "low-cost" engines Toyota will get their name on the car with decals that read "powered by Toyota" for the entire season.
Ford re-ups with Champ Car Our sources tell us that Kevin Kalkhoven, Dick Eidswick and Paul Gentilozzi met with Ford's Dan Davis on Saturday at Daytona and ironed out a final deal that will see Ford once again sponsor the Champ Car series in 2005 with Ford on the engines cam covers. We hear Ford wanted a three year deal but Kalkhoven wanted to do a one-year deal because he may have another manufacturer(s) to co-badge the Cosworth engines in 2006 and beyond. We have not heard what length deal was finally agreed to, but before the meeting Dan Davis was miffed at Champ Car because the negotiations were so protracted. However, after the meeting Davis was all smiles and said everything was ironed out. We await a formal announcement from Ford and Champ Car. Mark C.
Jourdain to drive at Daytona Mexican newspaper Reforma is reporting that Michel Jourdain will start the 2005 season in Daytona. Apparently OCESA, PPC Racing, and his sponsor asked NASCAR to allow him to run in Daytona. To arrive at the decision NASCAR reviewed his Champ Car performance in the past at Superspeedways such as Michigan and Fontana. NASCAR said yes over the weekend. Now Jourdain will prepare to run in the February 19th 300-miler the day before the Daytona 500. We await a formal announcement from the team or NASCAR. Héctor Serrano reporting from Mexico
Sebring test notesUPDATE #6 CORRECTION Glock's time as recorded by Cosworth was 51.75 sec on 50-mile old tires in cold weather. Like we said, he created quite a stir. 02/06/05 We heard that Glock turned a 52.8 sec. lap on Friday, the fastest of the day. It was much, much colder Friday than Saturday and people were impressed with him. 02/05/05 AutoRacing1.com has confirmed that Dick Eidswick and Kevin Kalkhoven will show up at Sebring this weekend. Paul Gentilozzi is already there. Not sure about Forsythe. They are stopping over at Daytona. Could a meeting with the Frances be in order, or are they going to show support for the Champ Car drivers competing in the Rolex 24? 02/04/05 First day of testing has wrapped up in Sebring and we will have a full report a bit later. Paul Gentilozzi did show up and was seen in deep conversation with RuSPORT boss Carl Russo. Timo Glock continued to turn heads on pit road laying down some fast laps despite a sometimes unorthodox line. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Nelson Philippe were getting seat adjustments in preparation for Saturday. We are still hearing that all three OWRS owners will be in town sometime Saturday. Are they going to be at Daytona Saturday for the start of the Rolex 24? Is some other big meeting coming down with the France family? We do know that all three are meeting in Indy Sunday where some important decisions are being made, including the key AOL deal. More later.... 02/04/05 From a cold Sebring - Spotted at Sebring so far today was Jouanny and Halliday testing with Mi-Jack Conquest. Timo Glock is fastest so far and has really impressed the Rocketsports guys. Ryan Hunter-Reay is hanging out with the Rocketsports team and will be on track tomorrow. Cristiano da Matta just made his first appearance in his new PKV ride. The Newman/Haas truck is here but buttoned down tight. Ryan Dalziel is also here. Alex Figge will test with the Mi-Jack team both Saturday and Sunday. Rumor has it that Kevin Kalkhoven, Dick Eidswick, Paul Gentilozzi and Gerald Forsythe will make an appearance sometime this weekend. 02/03/05 French single-seater ace Bruce Jouanny gets his first Champ Car World Series test at Sebring this week. Jouanny, a former British Formula 3 Championship race winner and World Series by Nissan frontrunner, is getting a run with Conquest Racing – the team that ran Justin Wilson last season. Among the others testing with Conquest are believed to be Jouanny’s fellow Frenchman, Nelson Philippe, New Zealander Matt Halliday (a former Indy Lights ace) and Toyota Atlantic racer Alex Figge. Jouanny said: “Eric Bachelart [the Conquest team owner] would not give me the test if there was no chance of a drive. I’m looking to put something together, but it depends on the test and the money.” Autosport Magazine01/31/05 ALMS is testing at Sebring through Thursday. Then the Champ Car teams move in on Friday, Saturday and possibly Sunday. We hear Walker, RuSPORT and Mi Jack Conquest will be there (among others). As reported by SPEEDTV, Mi-Jack Conquest will test Nelson Philippe, Alex Figge, Matt Halliday and Bruce Jouanny. They already tested Romain Dumas and Ricardo Sperafico. PKV has signed Cristiano da Matta as their second driver. The team may be running a three-car operation but the latest rumors are that the new general manager Jim McGee is not too keen on that course of action and so the others who had been hoping for the ride may now have to look elsewhere. The list includes Ryan Hunter-Reay, Bjorn Wirdheim and Ryan Dalziel. Mark C.
Toyota to Busch in '06, Cup in '07 Rumblings in the garage have Toyota testing the Busch Series waters next season before jumping to Cup in 2007, the first year all teams could be running NASCAR's new engines. Those engines will be constructed on common platforms but still will maintain manufacturer identities. Toyota's possible entry into the Busch Series also might accelerate the learning curve for Honda, which could be racing in the truck series as early as 2006. The Big Three U.S. automakers have expressed concern that if Toyota and Honda are given the specifications of this new engine now, the Nextel Cup Series soon could resemble the IndyCar series, meaning Detroit would be severely outspent and unable to compete. FoxSports/Sporting News
Gascoyne's job on the line After Cristiano da Matta was released early by the Toyota F1 team he stated that the 2004 Toyota TF104 was a step backward from the previous TF103, that the car, not the driver was to be blamed for the teams poor performance. Well it looks like Mike Gascoyne and company have designed another losing car in the 2005 TF105. So far the TF105 has shown a good potential but there is one worrying aspect that needs to be drastically improved: consistency over the long runs.
"The car appears to be fast but not over long distance," said Jarno Trulli to the Gazetta dello Sport. "It's not a weight distribution problem but we don't know if it is related to aerodynamics or mechanical."
"There is too much rear tire wear," explained the Italian. "We still have three weeks [before the Australian Grand Prix] to find a solution."
Jarno Trulli analyses the TF105's reaction, which seems to be similar to another car he drove a few years ago... that was also designed under the supervision of Mike Gascoyne. "The car becomes more difficult to drive after just three laps, which reminds me of my old Jordan. It's too bad because it is easy to drive and the engine is now reliable."
With all the money Toyota is sinking into F1 we doubt they are going to have much patience for a car that reminds their drivers of a lowly Jordan. If indeed the TF105 can't be fixed, look for their design boss, Mike Gascoyne to be replaced.
NASCAR's White Elephant The cost for ISC to build a 3/4-mile 80,000 seat race track in Staten Island, NY is estimated to be $600 million, making it the most expensive race track in the world. However, at just 3/4 of a mile in length and able to seat just 80,000, the chance for ISC to ever recoup their $600 million investment is slim to none. By comparison, Speedway Motorsports built Texas Motor Speedway for $250 million but that facility seats twice the number of spectators. So why would the France family build a track that can't hope to turn a profit for over 25 years? In the coming TV negotiations "having a New York City track would be a big plus," Marcus Smith, son of Bruton Smith, said. "But if we didn't have it, I don't think it would hinder us. NASCAR has shown we've got a great growth model; our ratings are steadily increasing. And, compared to all the other properties out there, that's a great story to tell to the networks." Mark C.
The sale of Sauber There are stories circulating at the moment that Peter Sauber might sell his team. No-one seems to have noticed the fact that Peter Sauber actually does not own the team, which he sold to partners in 1994. The original deal with Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz in 1994 was for 51% with Peter Sauber owning 24.5% and Fritz Kaiser owning 24.5%. When Kaiser left the team his shares were split between the two other partners, leaving Sauber with 36.75% of the business and Mateschitz with 63.25%. The pair later fell out over drivers and as a result Mateschitz sold the shares back to Sauber. Peter then sold them on to Credit Suisse and the plan at the time was to pass some of these on to other investors. There has been no word since as to whether that actually happened and it is assumed that Credit Suisse still owns the 63.25% that once belonged to Mateschitz. Sauber retains the voting shares in the team and, according to our sources, has no plan to sell the team. More at Grandprix.com
Aero problems for new BAR According to reports in Autosport, the new BAR007 may is suffering from aerodynamic issues and engine problems, despite setting some decent times in testing last week. “The car is lacking in downforce and there is a basic lack of aerodynamic grip,” a team insider told Autosport. “So far the car has been reliable and I have not had any problems,” the Japanese driver Sato told the British publication. “I have no problems with the balance of the car, the handling is okay, but some of the other cars are quicker. I know we have got a rev-limit on the engine and we have not made the best use of the tires we have been given, but it is true to say that there is some grip missing – there is much less than we had hoped for. When I saw the Renault time my jaw dropped and when I saw the McLaren it dropped even further.”
Tracy flies American flag A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Hey what is the deal with Paul Tracy wearing an American flag on his uniform for the Rolex 24? Fittipaldi is appropriately flying the Brazilian colors. Dan Thomson, Canada Dear Dan, Paul Tracy now lives in Las Vegas. Perhaps he has become fed up with Canadian companies not stepping up to sponsor him and other Canadian drivers and has decided to fly the American flag. We are only speculating, but can you blame him after the Canadians have basically thumbed their noses at him and others? Mark C.
The Champ Car/Grand-Am connection A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1, You mention today the three amigos will be in Sebring, and speculate if a meeting with the Frances might be a reason for all of them being there. If such a meeting were to take place, what, in your opinion, would be some possible reasons? There has been much to do about IRL/NASCAR oval track conspiracies, and much above board co-operation between the two. I see the IRL as a cart (no pun intended) before the horse operation economically speaking, and their business model (which evidently entails spending HUGE amounts of money for little, if any, return) appears doomed.
OWRS, on the other hand, while lacking in some areas (marketing, and marketability, to name two) is now owned by people who are all very successful businessmen and are running the operation in a lean and mean ground up fashion that offers, at least to my instincts, a more likely model for success.
NASCAR is pursuing the global market. The global market at the moment is not keen on oval racing, hence NASCAR is racing at the Autodromo in Mexico City as well as sniffing around the Montreal F1 and OWRS venue. Could it be that NASCAR is looking for a globally established road racing partner (OWRS) who don't have their heads up their a**es? (referring of course to a certain Indianapolis Emperor with no clothes) Perhaps they are looking for a partner to Grand-Am. What are your thoughts, wildest speculation encouraged? Thanks, Patrick in San Francisco
Dear Patrick, As you know Gerald Forsythe has helped get NASCAR and Grand-Am into Mexico City, thereby helping thaw the frigid relationship that had developed between CART and NASCAR. Since ALMS wants to be their own headline event and doesn't want to share weekends with Champ Car, and with Grand-Am struggling to get any fans in the grandstands, we suspect there is an opportunity for OWRS and the Frances to do more business. Champ Car can help get Grand-Am into some of its "urban" markets (more doubleheader weekends?) and in turn the France family can help Champ Car with its vast wealth of connections and media influence. We live in interesting times. Mark C.
RuSPORT team to beat in 2005 RuSPORT has made a slew of improvements in the off-season and appear poised to knock Newman/Haas off their No. 1 perch in Champ Car. Led by David Brown as their Chief Engineer, who has two F1 world titles to his credit. In the off-season they hired away Paul Tracy's engineer, and they also have the ex-head of Jag F-1's 7 Post Rig effort. Justin Wilson has said, perhaps in jest, that his car has more engineers assigned to it than he had crew last year. Their car rolled out for testing at Sebring this morning with strain gauges all over it. Every conceivable device that could yield data is being utilized. Their entire front wing has been radically developed over the off-season. They are using laser ride height sensors, tire temperature sensors, and they had their tires wrapped in tire warmers. RuSport is the closest thing Champ Car has to an F1 effort.
For those of you who don't know what a strain gauge is, it is a small device that is glued onto a car to measure local strain (elongation and contraction) and stress. What the engineers are trying to do is completely understand how the car is stressed under loading so they can improve the car under race conditions. Coupled with all the 7-post rig testing the team has been doing and the resources of Carl Russo, and it's easy to see why everyone is talking about RuSPORT these days. Mark C.
HVM to announce sponsors Word out of Mexico is that HVM will be announcing their sponsors in the coming days. They are all Mexican and the condition to sign them was to have Mario Dominguez behind the wheel as its number one driver. That is the commitment that Dominguez was talking about in the interview with The Universal Online, and the same commitment he mentioned in the telephone interview with Reforma. He will have a sneak peak of F1 with Midland-Jordan on February the 10th in Silverstone as everyone is reporting; He says that he wants "a taste of the cake." It would be the first time a Mexican drove an F1 car since 1992 when Roberto Guerrero drove one in Pembrey, England. Hector Serrano reporting from South of the Border
Where will Hunter-Reay land?UPDATE Word is that Hunter-Reay will probably land at either Forsythe, HVM (Herdez), or Rocketsports, but why is he being strung along when he could be out there testing with his team and getting ready for the '05 season? Obviously, the best place for RHR to be, for both the series and Hunter-Reay, would be in the most competitive seat available -the one vacated by Patrick Carpentier- as Ryan is an established star, a proven race winner, and fan favorite. One would think Champ Car would avoid putting the few Americans they do have in the series behind the eight ball, hence lessening their chance for success, but as with the late TV deal which hurt the series because it was so late, putting off even the most important decisions like Hunter-Reay to the last minute appears to be SOP (standard operating procedure). 02/04/05 After turning down a ride with Chip Ganassi in the IRL Ryan Hunter-Reay has been trying to firm up a ride in Champ Car. The only seat still open that appears to have Hunter-Reay's name on it is Rocketsports alongside Alex Tagliani. However, with news that the team is testing Timo Glock in Sebring this weekend who is rumored to have a fistful of cash, it may be that Rocketsports won't have room for Hunter-Reay either. Hunter-Reay has no financial backing so it is possible the American could see himself without a ride in 2005. A third car at Forsythe is also a possibility but the team has no confirmed sponsors so far and is looking for funded drivers to fill their 3rd and 4th slot. With all the European and Brazilian drivers out there with some cash, Hunter-Reay's Champ Car career, that saw him win a race in his rookie and sophomore years, could be short-lived.
Ranger to test again We have it on good word that Andrew Ranger has another multi-day test scheduled with Walker Racing in the next two weeks. Other teams will be testing as at the same track as well. Ranger is still trying to do a deal with Walker Racing, the holdup being Ranger currently has money for about 2/3 of the season and Walker is waiting to see if he can find a driver with full season funding.
Grand-Am to team up with Champ Car?UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today based on the announcement from Champ Car. See Hot News page. 11/08/04 Although next year's Grand-Am calendar shows a race in Mexico City in December, we have it on good word that talks have begun between Champ Car and Grand-Am about the possibility of the Grand-Am series being the headline Saturday event on the Champ Car Mexico City weekend next year on November 5th, with Champ Car the headline on Sunday November 6th. Mark C.
Will Klien get nod over Liuzzi Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi were signed as equal number two's at Red Bull alongside number one driver David Coulthard. Klien is rumored to be in the 2nd seat for the first few races until the F1 circus returns to Europe because Klien has experience on those circuits whereas Liuzzi, who raced in F3000 and knows the European circuits, does not. Once Europe rolls around Liuzzi will be in his element and we expect he will get the nod at San Marino, home of the "2nd" Italian GP.
New Swiss Watch for ALMS Word has it that JeanRichard Swiss Watches will unveil a limited-edition American LeMans Series Timepiece on February 17th in commemoration of the 53rd Annual 12 Hours of Sebring.
Where's 'team Dubai F1'? (GMM) Whatever happened to new-for-2006 'team Dubai F1'? Ever since the October announcement, the headlines have barely uttered a word regarding the supposed project of royal family member Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum. McLaren and Mercedes-Benz were purportedly involved in the team. Now, Woking's chief Ron Dennis confirmed the recent legitimacy of 'team Dubai F1' by revealing that he once met with representatives of the Dubai government. The Briton, though, said 'a final decision' about the venture must be made by the middle of 2005. ''We are in constant contact (with Dubai F1),'' Ron explained.
GPDA to meet (GMM) The Grand Prix Drivers' Association will stage a meeting in Melbourne next month, we can reveal. Australia's Mark Webber is a director of the group. Last year at the opening F1 event, the GPDA - comprised also of Jarno Trulli, David Coulthard and world champion Michael Schumacher - held a competition, with the prize a guided tour of the Albert Park paddock.
Chinese to buy Red Bull stake (GMM) A Chinese consortium may have switched its interest from Jordan to Red Bull, we can reveal. With the former team sold to naturalized Canadian Alex Shnaider, Mr. Jak Guo - the consortium's chief - is apparently now looking into buying a slice of the old Jaguar camp. Newly bought by Austrian energy drink magnate Dietrich Mateschitz, 'Red Bull Racing' might sell the Chinese an initial minority 10-25 per cent share for an undisclosed sum, we were told. Furthermore, part of the consortium's deal could involve on-car advertising space.
Asia TV for Champ Car We are hearing that Champ Car will have TV deals in South Korea and China and they are working on India, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan. In other words they will have the key Asian countries covered for 2005, the best that can be expected given the turmoil in the region caused by the tsunami. Mark C.
Champ Car TV shaping up in Latin America Rumor has it that Champ Car will be on Fox Sports Latin America, and are close to separate deals at the local level in Chile (terrestrial), Argentina (final result will depend on the race or not), a live deal in place with RedeTV in Brazil, and we now hear Champ Car has struck a TV deal in Ecuador. It will be important for Champ Car to get this news out once the deals are done.
Champ Car to change TV broadcasters in MexicoUPDATE #2 We are now hearing that Champ Car will be on TV Azteca in 2005 in Mexico, but supposedly all the races will be shown live in their entirety this time. 11/05/04 This rumor appears close to becoming 'fact.' Televisa (the major TV network in Mexico) launched a special web site for the Mexican 2004 Champ Car GP. TvAzteca, the current broadcaster, also did one, but Televisa hasn't done one until now and theirs is much better and has much more information. TvAzteca does it because they have the rights for the race so we find the Televisa move most interesting indeed. Champ Car is returning to full coverage on network TV in Mexico next year. As the original rumor we posted way back in August, we heard Televisa was getting the 2005 deal and now we have to believe this big splash they are making for this race means it's pretty much a done deal. We await a formal announcement. This is a major coup for Champ Car because until now, Televisa focused on F1. 08/13/04 Rumor in Mexico is that Televisa (TV Azteca rival and biggest broadcasting organization in Mexico) is already finalizing the details of a TV deal for 2005 with Champ Cars. There´s a meeting supposedly scheduled for the Mexico City race where the contracts will be signed. Televisa is asking for the rights of South America, and Champ Car wants a clause that stipulates that all the races have to be live. Televisa is also thinking about sponsoring Mario Dominguez in 2005. --Jose Arrambide--
ISC/IRL rumorUPDATE #4 This week's National Speed Sport News reports - The United States Auto Club, which celebrates its Golden Anniversary this season, will experience unprecedented expansion of its premier racing series in 2006. Development and realization of the recently unveiled futuristic USAC Silver Crown Championship race car will allow for racing at new high-profile venues for America's most competitive motorsports series. Homestead-Miami and Kansas Speedways are among tracks expected to be a part of the expanded 2006 racing calendar, with discussions in progress for new events at Kentucky and Nashville Speedways, in addition to already-existing Silver Crown venues. The series’ presence at these high-profile facilities and its potential inclusion with major traditional racing weekends is expected to generate increased exposure for the series through major media outlets and television. Accelerated prize money for events at tracks longer than one mile in length is also an element of the 2006 Silver Crown Series slate. 01/31/05 There is a long-standing rumor in the United States that there will soon be a joint announcement involving the International Speedway Corporation (NASCAR's sister organization) and Tony George. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation (IMSC) and ISC are already partners in The Motorsports Alliance, which ensures that their activities in circuit ownership do not conflict with one another. NASCAR uses Indianapolis Motor Speedway for one of its biggest events of the year and the IMSC-owned Indy Racing League regularly race on ISC circuits across the United States. This is in the interest of the ISC that the IRL remains healthy. The problem is that no one is quite sure what is going to be announced although logically ISC must see open-wheel racing as a good way to develop in the future now that NASCAR is reaching saturation point and international expansion is being considered. It may be that the parties consider that to be too a big a step and want to increase their hold on the racing scene across the United States. ISC has already made a foray into sports car racing with the Grand-Am championship, which it established in 1999 to bring stability to professional endurance road racing in America. This has been a big success and there has been speculation that ISC may now try to do the same thing with IRL, in league with George. It should be remembered that Grand-Am was one of the companies that showed interest when CART's assets were up for sale at the start of 2004. Grandprix.com01/21/05 It turns out the Jan. 29 announcement at the Copper World Classic in Phoenix has little to do with the IRL. International Speedway Corp. will detail its plan to stage five of the U.S. Auto Club's reworked Silver Crown races in 2006. USAC has developed a prototype speedway car that will allow the Silver Crown division to race on tracks larger than 1 mile in length. Previously, the series only raced on shorter tracks that have slower cornering speeds. According to USAC president Rollie Helmling, the Silver Crown series in 2006 will add three 1.5-mile tracks -- Homestead, Kansas and Chicagoland -- to go with the two ISC-owned tracks it currently utilizes (Phoenix and Richmond, Va.). 01/18/05 Other possibilities are the re-establishment of a 500-mile Triple Crown series of races paying a big purse. This speculation makes the most sense as it can involve ISC tracks. Recall that Bill France Jr. mentioned ISC, not NASCAR, as doing something with the IRL. 01/16/05 Bill France Jr. popped in the Daytona Speedway press room the other day and said the ISC could have some interesting Indy-car news in the next few weeks. Tony George's Indy Racing League has been struggling. The France family's ISC has a major interest in a viable IRL. Winston Salem Journal ........And he did offer the tease that some Indy-car news might be breaking out in Phoenix later this month at the Copperworld Classic. Winston Salem Journal [Editor's Note: We suspect one of three things are in the works - 1) either the France family is going to buy the struggling IRL and bring it under the NASCAR family name and put their billions of dollars of marketing might behind it , or 2) the IRL is going to adopt the NASCAR engine formula after 2006 when the current formula expires, 3) NASCAR executives have already floated a proposal for a new "common" engine for the Nextel Cup series, looking toward the 2007 Daytona 500, the same date the IRL will have their new engines in place. With Honda and Toyota clearly on their way to Nextel Cup, and Chevy already in both, how convenient it would be to have an engine that is the same for both series. We do know that Toyota has proposed to NASCAR that they adopt the IRL engine as their future powerplant, but that was rejected because the existing engine builders would have to scrap their existing parts. However, it is going to have to happen sooner or later (new NASCAR engine formula) and doing it at the same time the IRL does it makes a lot of sense.]
Rumors from Montreal According to an article in La Presse written by Réjean Tremblay, Normand Legault, principal of the Grand Prix du Canada, is taking over from Alan Labrosse to whom he had sold the rights for the Champ Car race last year. Poor attendance and a large deficit caused Legault to be back in the saddle for the August race. Rumors have it also that the IRL would like to have a race at the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit in 2007 after the Champ Car contract is terminated. Legault and Tony George hold the rights for the only two grand prix in North America. Another rumor has it that NASCAR is also looking for a race in Montréal, which of course we have heard before. NASCAR opened an office in Canada for a reason, and just as they are doing in Mexico, will work to eventually monopolize that market as well.
Peugeot ponders return The French manufacturer, Peugeot, which won Le Mans in 1992 and ’93, is exploring ways to continue in top line motorsport after it pulls out of the World Rally Championship at the end of this season. The WTCC was believed to be its most likely target, but the idea of returning to Le Mans with an LMP1 prototype appears to be gaining momentum within the company.
Sources suggest that an evaluation of an LMP1 design to take on Audi’s successor to the all conquering R8 has already begun. One option is for the car to be powered by a diesel engine. Another scenario is that Peugeot could dovetail two programs. The prototype project would be masterminded from its Vélizy headquarters near Paris, while importer-backed teams, such as Peugeot Sport Engineering in Denmark, would take care of the World Touring Car Championship campaign.
Other possibilities include building a GT car, most likely a ground-up design in the mould of Maserati’s MC12, or an entry in the German based DTM touring car series. A decision on which path to follow could be made as early as the end of this month and by the end of spring at the latest. Outgoing Peugeot motorsport boss Corrado Provera refused to speculate on which path the car builder would follow. “I have nothing to say,” he said. “Frédéric Saint-Geours [Peugeot’s managing director] has not even been given any proposals.” Autosport Magazine
Dalziel gives up on Champ Car, moving to..... Cristiano da Matta’s signing spells the end of the Champ Car hopes of Toyota Atlantic runner-up Ryan Dalziel, who had been banking on a graduation to the senior series with PKV. He is likely to sign for an American Le Mans Series team in the next few days. “I’m pretty sure that Champ Car is dead in the water for me this season, but I still want to get there,” said the Scotsman. Autosport Magazine
Tiago Monteiro to get 2nd Jordan seatUPDATE The new Midland-Jordan Formula 1 will announce this afternoon that it has signed contracts with India's Narain Karthikeyan and Portugal's Tiago Monteiro. We are upgrading this rumor to 'fact' now ahead of the announcement. 02/01/05 Rumors out of Europe suggest that Tiago Monteiro might be close to signing a deal for the other Midland Jordan F1 seat alongside Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan, though the team has not confirmed the claims by Narain that he has already signed. Others in play for the seat include Anthony Davidson, Mario Dominguez and Robert Doornbos.
Indian to get Jordan Midland seatUPDATE #3 The new Midland-Jordan Formula 1 will announce this afternoon that it has signed contracts with India's Narain Karthikeyan and Portugal's Tiago Monteiro. 02/01/05 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today with an announcement that the first Indian driver will be on the grid in F1 in 2005. Story to follow on Hot News page. 02/01/05 Narain Karthikeyan is on pole position to snare a 2005 seat at Midland-owned F1 team Jordan. The 28-year-old, who would become India's first ever grand prix hero, revealed that he's received an 'offer' from Trevor Carlin, Midland's sporting director and an old F3 contact. A PTI press report quoted him as saying: ''I'm 90 per cent hopeful of making it.'' Karthikeyan - who's tested for Jaguar, Jordan and Minardi in the past - also admitted that the offer involved a request for several million in sponsor cash. He's backed by Tata, J K Tire and Bharat Petroleum. GMM01/26/05 India’s top racing driver is closing in on his dream of becoming the first man from his country to compete in the Formula 1 World Championship. Narain Karthikeyan, a front-runner in the World Series by Nissan for the past three seasons, looks set to join the Midland-owned Jordan team in 2005.
The Madras-born 28-year-old has strong links with Midland sporting director Trevor Carlin. After working his way up the junior ranks in Britain, in 1999 he gave the Carlin Motorsport team its first two wins in British Formula 3 and in 2000 scored the squad’s first international win in the Korean Super Prix. He returned to Carlin to compete in the World Series in ’03.
Steel conglomerate Midland, the new owner of the Jordan team, has big interests in India, a country which F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has long been keen to exploit. Karthikeyan tested for the Jordan (below) and Jaguar F1 teams in 2001 and has since had a run-out for Minardi. He has a reputation in the sub-F1 categories for being one of the fastest drivers around and extremely good in the wet, but for also having a propensity for unforced accidents. Autosport Magazine
Dana to be 21st IRL entryUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Hemelgarn Racing, the 2000 IRL IndyCar® Series championship and 1996 Indianapolis 500-winning team, will participate in a teleconference on Thursday, Feb. 3 to make a team announcement. Team owner Ron Hemelgarn and driver Paul Dana will be available. 01/22/05 Paul Dana said he will make it 21 when he attends next month's test at Phoenix. Dana will drive for Hemelgarn Racing, likely with Toyota power. Indy Star
G.I. Joes to back Champ Car race again The Portland Tribune reports that Norm Daniels, G.I. Joe’s president, writes to say he hears nothing about a movement to bring NASCAR to Oregon, but that “G.I. Joe’s is involved in the Champ Car event this year; we have committed to (promoter) Global Events that we are back and they are lining up additional sponsors, so we don’t know our position, yet.” The company refused to open its wallet last year, and Daniels went on vacation during the race.
F1 still might go to single tire supplier Formula One could revert to a single tire manufacturer as early as next year, BBC Sport has learned. Motorsport boss Max Mosley said he was "strongly in favor" of the move, according to the minutes of a high-level meeting seen by the BBC. Mosley agreed with Ferrari, the only other team at the meeting, to discuss the idea with F1's tire suppliers. Ferrari also backed the idea of a significant reduction in testing as part of proposals to cut costs. Mosley, the president of the sport's governing body the FIA, said he would discuss these proposals with the tire manufacturers as well. "Among other proposals, the FIA is strongly in favor of a single tire supplier and an FIA-regulated restriction on testing."
It would end the current "tire war" between Michelin and Bridgestone, significantly cut costs and remove questions about whether Ferrari are winning because they have better tires. Having only one tire manufacturer would also make it easier to keep cornering speeds under control, as the company could be asked to supply only harder, less grippy, tires for all teams. Mosley has called another meeting of all the teams for April 15th. BBC Sport [See minutes of Ferrari and FIA meeting]
Does Marlin have a ride? Sterling Marlin, a regular on the circuit since 1987, wants to drive for a couple of more years and wants to remain with Chip Ganassi so he can close his career with a team that was owned by Felix Sabates when Marlin joined it in 1998. That scenario is far from a lock. Marlin is in the last year of his contract with Ganassi and is winless since 2002. He knows to be asked back he will have to show improvement over the three top-fives and a 21st-place points finish of 2004. Ganassi bluntly called the performance of Marlin's team disappointing in prepared remarks to the press during last week's media tour stop at a mammoth new building that houses the cars of Marlin and teammates Jamie McMurray and Casey Mears. "I don't know if we're going to renew," Marlin said. "I talked to Chip about re-upping a month ago to see what we're going to do and Coors is going to do." Marlin indicated that Ganassi didn't close the door. "Chip was open to extending," Marlin said. "I'd like to stay here. I've got a lot of friends here and they've built a really nice shop. I've driven for Felix a long time. So I'd like to retire here if I can." High Point Enterprise
Ganassi might move team out of IndyUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. The response from a Ganassi Racing spokesperson - "The answer is NO, the IndyCar team is NOT being relocated to Charlotte. Not now and not ever. The IRL operation is Toyota and the NASCAR operation is Dodge. Two very separate entities. We have staff in both locations that work on both programs (administration namely). The team just opened a new larger NACSAR shop in Charlotte and that may be the source of your rumors as they had a media day there last week and perhaps that question was asked. The IRL and Grand Am programs are in Indy and will remain in INDY." 02/01/05 We first posted this rumor many months ago and then forgot about it. Out of the blue today we heard from our Indy sources that Chip Ganassi is contemplating moving his entire Indianapolis IRL operation to Concord, North Carolina and house the IRL effort out of the same complex that houses his NASCAR Nextel Cup effort. If this rumor is to be believed, it says that Chip will relocate all the employees as well, at least those that are willing to relocate. We are trying to get a statement from the team on this rumor. On the surface it seems a bit farfetched, but in reality the money saved by combining the two operations can be plowed back into the company.
Rusty looking at Gaughan for a few races Rusty Wallace said on Tuesday that he has some unresolved slots on his Busch Series roster this year, and he hopes Brendan Gaughan can fill the gaps. Gaughan was Wallace's teammate at Penske Racing last year. Wallace, who fielded Busch cars under the Rusty Wallace Inc. banner in 2004, says he is trying to add Gaughan to a long list of drivers of the No. 64, including Jamie McMurray, Jeremy Mayfield and himself. "I've got some races I've got to get filled in yet and I plan on calling Brendan and ask him to do it. I've got that much confidence in him," Wallace said. NASCAR.com
Dane's in at Minardi - report (GMM) In a Minardi, Denmark's Nicolas Kiesa will almost certainly return to the F1 grid in 2005. Team owner Paul Stoddart said he's settled on a teammate for Dutch youngster Christijan Albers, with an announcement due within a week. He told f1racing.net: ''I can give you three hints. First, he's European. ''He's raced in F1 before and he's driven for Minardi before -- that's all I can say.'' Stoddart also told the website that Faenza-based Minardi's 2005 car - to be race-debuted in May - will feature a radical nose section. ''The nose is a good opportunity for new aerodynamic solutions,'' said the Australian. ''Our aero department really did a great job.''
Champ Car Ambassadors AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that Champ Car is going to institute a "Champ Car Ambassador" program with the likes of Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, Bobby Unser, Alex Zanardi, Nigel Mansell (perhaps) and other past Champ Car champions. These individuals will be given certain privileges and will act as an Ambassador for Champ Car, getting involved with fan activities, VIP guest activities, perhaps event promotion and the like. Our view? It's about time.
Briatore to quit (GMM) In mid-2005, Renault managing director Flavio Briatore may walk away from the team and Formula One. The charismatic Italian admitted at the launch of a new car in Monaco that the R25's speed in Melbourne would likely influence a final decision. He said: ''Sixteen years in F1 is a long time -- I have to decide if I want to relax now.'' Speculation said Briatore is not keen to continue at a team without the absolute support of the owner, French car manufacturer Renault. New chief Carlos Ghosn is not an F1 fan.
“I don't know where this comes from,” said Patrick Faure, referring to reports that Ghosn does not like F1. “I have discussed it with him very clearly and he has said, ‘go on'. He said he is interested if we have results. If we have good results then we are there, especially if we can find a way of reducing costs which we have started now. But he is not pro or anti F1 – he is pro good results for Renault which happen to be a good investment. Nobody can be sure about 2008. The only thing I am sure is that for the moment nothing is clear about what is happening after 2008 – so let's clarify what will happen, see what championship we are going to have and then we will discuss the participation of teams like Renault, Honda and Ferrari.” [Editor's Note: AutoRacing1.com sources have told us that Renault may indeed be on the way out of F1 before long. Ghosn wants results. How many races is Renault going to win?]
Last minute rush expected for remaining Champ Car seats There are a whole host of wanna-bee F1 drivers scrambling to fill the few remaining open seats in F1 for 2005. Once they are all filled we expect to see a scramble by the drivers who don't land an F1 seat to try and grab one of the remaining Champ Car seats. Only two seats remain in F1, one at Minardi and one at Midland Jordan (see F1 Silly Season Page). In Champ Car 9 to 11 seats remain (see Champ Car Silly Season Page) Coyne (1), Forsythe (2 or 3), HVM (1), Mi-Jack Conquest (1 or 2), Fittipaldi (Maybe 1), Rocketsports (1) and Walker Racing (2). As can be seen on both Silly Season pages, there is no shortage of drivers looking for a ride, but whether enough have sponsors behind them to land one of the empty seats is the question?
AGR picks up another from Champ CarUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See Hot News report to follow..... 01/28/05 We are getting reports that John Anderson did indeed give his resignation at Champ Car and AGR is his new home. 01/27/05 Word on the street is that Andretti Green Racing has picked up another Champ Car refugee, John Anderson who worked under John Lopes. He takes the place of Tony Cotman who went to Champ Car to take the place of John Lopes who went to Andretti Green Racing. Got all that? It's like a revolving door comedy show. Mark C.
Corona may not back Lavin The word from our Mexican sources is that Corona is in, except they might not be with Rodolfo Lavin. Our sources were told they want a driver that can win races and probably will not take an option on him for 2005. They are main sponsors in the NASCAR Mexico series and also in WRC with Subaru. And of course, now the fashion in Mexico is NASCAR (just as we predicted would happen) so sponsors are looking at them since IRL and Champ Car are fighting all the time and nobody seems to like that. They want stability. As we have written on numerous occasions, NASCAR has an office in Mexico with staff working day and night seeking sponsors and promoting their product. Champ Car has none and will eventually lose the Mexican market to NASCAR.
Quaker State in litigation with Fernandez The word from our Mexican sources is that Quaker State of Mexico dropped Fernandez Racing and was sued by and countersuing Adrián. Quaker State was Adrian's last real Mexican sponsor. Apparently in October there was an Executive Board change at the company. Their board consists of five people, two of them the Flores brothers, but the other three guys are new. The new guys got together, out-voted the brothers, and decided to get out of the IRL since they feel it is money that doesn’t have great return. Instead they started a promotional campaign where if you buy two liters of oil you can win a Porsche (three given away), and if you don’t you get a Hot Wheels car.
Telmex decided to focus on racing series that run in Mexico, that's why they quit sponsoring Adrián for 2005, although Carlos Slim told our source that they would review this if the IRL came to race in Mexico. They will sponsor the Mexico 200 Busch race, plus a team and do some personal sponsorships with drivers.
Tecate left IRL because they sponsor the Champ Car races in Mexico and they don't want the IRL, but they still say they will have the Tecate GP in Monterrey this May. They have the idea that sponsoring a racing series or events is much more fruitful than individuals or teams. This is the same thinking by Roshfrans, which now sponsors the Busch Mexico 200 (Associate sponsor) and the NASCAR Mexico, plus they will keep some money with HVM (Herdez Comp.)
Martin may start Truck team Mark Martin hinted on Monday that he is leaning towards fielding his own trucks in the Craftsman Truck Series, a decision that would keep him closer to home in 2006. Martin has long said that he plans on making the Craftsman Truck Series a part of his post-Nextel Cup life. His current employer, Roush Racing, fields two full-time trucks and could easily make room for whatever schedule Martin plans to run in 2006. "I am looking very hard at the Craftsman Truck Series next year," Martin said. "Initially, the talks were to be a part of Roush." But Martin spent last weekend racing with his 13-year-old son Matt, and Martin said that he hopes he can remain close to his Daytona Beach home after his retirement from a full Nextel Cup schedule. NASCAR
'Hybrid' engine for F1? Toyota are investigating using their innovative fuel-electric 'hybrid' engine technology in Formula One. Fitted to the road-going 'Prius' model, the car - using far less fuel than a normal passenger vehicle but producing comparative power - is propelled by a combination of engine, electric motor and battery. And, according to Toyota's F1 engine designer Luca Marmorini, the technology could be adapted for use in grands prix. But he told 'Motor Trend' publication that hybrid engine design is forbidden in the FIA technical regulations.
From the too funny department Champ Car last week hosted the annual Promoters meeting in Indy. The meetings were at Conseco Fieldhouse, Home of the Indiana Pacers, with the final nights activities including a Pacers game against the Detroit Pistons.....Yes the two teams that had a brawl in their meeting in Detroit. Rumor has it that as the promoters entered the concourse of Conseco Fieldhouse they were greeted by two IRL cars.... And those that arrived early were also given a gift pack courtesy of the IRL....Yes, the Champ Car promoters were attending a Pacers game and it was IRL Night. Although we find this hilarious, let's hope Champ Car and its promoters learned something from the IRL promotion and apply it in arenas near their venues. Mark C.
Champ Car signs wireless deal for fansUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Story to follow on hot news page. 01/25/05 Rumor has it that the Champ Car World Series has signed a three-year agreement with Digital Orchid to provide real-time racing information to fans through wireless technology. The deal will be announced later today or tomorrow. Digital Orchid has created Champ Car Everywhere, which will provide real-time Champ Car information to fans via wireless applications. The service will provide video and audio from the racetrack as well as updated leaderboards, standings, schedules, driver information and Champ Car-themed products such as ring tones and wallpaper. Digital Orchid is a San Diego-based private company that has developed similar technologies for NASCAR and the NHL. The deal includes multiple options to extend. Financial terms were not disclosed. The Daily
Williams to announce Heidfeld on MondayUPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact' today. Williams has named Nick Heidfeld as its second driver alongside Mark Webber in 2005. The news was announced this morning in Valencia in Spain. More to follow on Hot News page. 01/26/05 Rumor has it that on Monday the Williams BMW team will name Nick Heidfeld to partner Mark Webber in 2005, with Antonio Pizzonia relegated to test driver after being beaten by Heidfeld in just about every head-to-head test they had. The fact that Heidfeld is German also pleases German engine supplier BMW.
Priaulx could test again European touring car champion Andy Priaulx could get more track time in Williams' F1 machine. The Briton, who last week tried a grand prix car for size at Valencia, impressed the Grove-based team with both ultimate lap time and composure. It's reported that technical director Sam Michael hinted to the BMW driver that he would 'bear (Andy) in mind' for future F1 activity. Priaulx told Autosport: ''I think I could dovetail it quite nicely into my (touring car) program. ''(But) it will be down to them, really.''
Jordan may retain BH Despite new ownership, Jordan might race into the 2005 season with its customary bright-yellow paint job. EJ's squad landed the B&H tobacco deal, through parent company Gallaher International, in 1996. ''We are confident,'' Jordan's new owner - Midland Group - said in a statement to atlasf1.com, ''that Benson & Hedges ... will continue to see the value of its partnership ... '' B&H, though, have not yet committed formally. Europe-wide, a F1 tobacco advertising ban descends in July. GMM
Midland to clean house? Did Midland buy the Jordan team to avoid the steep F1 initiation fee? Numerous British sources report that some of Jordan's personnel have left the team: mechanics, engineers and even the new Technical Director, Mark Smith. Smith is rumored going to work with Mike Gascoyne at Toyota. "We are planning to use Russian aerodynamic experts and engineers ... they are specialists involved with MiG (fighter jets) and Sukhoi (Russian aircraft manufacturer) ... anything from our group of companies that can help," he told the Toronto Star on Monday.
Fittipaldi to drive Stock CarsUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. After two unsuccessful seasons in NASCAR, former Champ Car and Formula 1 driver Christian Fittipaldi has decided to return to Brazil to race stock cars. Fittipaldi had been looking for work since his deal with NASCAR's Petty Enterprises collapsed because of a lack of sponsorship. "For various reasons I didn't have the success I was hoping for," Christian Fittipaldi told Radio Jovem Pan on Saturday. "But I'm glad I got the opportunity in Brazil, where everybody knows stock car racing is growing rapidly." Fittipaldi, nephew of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi, started 16 races in NASCAR, failing to finish better than 24th. The 34-year-old Brazilian signed a contract to drive for team Avallone Motorsport beginning in May. San Francisco Chronicle/AP12/05/04 Yesterday was the first time Christian Fittipaldi tested a Stock Car Brazil. He was not surprised with the performance of the car. " The car was kind of what I was expecting and the brakes were better than what I thought" said Christian. Fittipaldi believes that the experience he had in NASCAR Cup races helped him with the Stock cars in Brazil. " The two categories are completely different" he assured. "NASCAR Cup cars are stronger and faster , they have 700 hp engines. The Stock car Brazil is more like the DTM European cars," added Christian. Fittipaldi tested for the WWB Texaco Motorsports which has Wilson Fittipaldi as one of the co-owners. After some titles in Kart, Formula Ford, Formula 3 and Formula 3000, dad and son may be back together for one more challenge. Christian will be deciding his future in the next 15 days. He said there's a 50% chance for him to be driving in the Brazilian Stock Car Championship in 2005.
Da Matta could go to PKV Racing or N/HUPDATE #4 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. AutoRacing1.com has learned that PKV Racing has signed Cristiano da Matta for 2005 and beyond. We will update our 2005 Champ Car Silly Season page (see link above). Mark C.01/25/05 Cristiano da Matta was asked on a Grand-Am media teleconference today what his plans were for 2005. He replied, I'm planning to race in Champ Cars again. Obviously my main target is to try to race with Newman/Haas Racing, trying to put a deal together. We depend a little bit on some sponsorship deals that are still to be finalized. I'm anxiously waiting on these things to happen. I'm looking forward to be on the racetrack again with Champ Cars. I think my chance to be back with Champ Cars is pretty high. What I'm not sure is where I'm going to be driving at. That's a slightly more difficult question. All these sponsorship deals, they depend on big companies, and sometimes the decision takes longer than we think it's going to take. Sometimes it's shorter than we think it's going to take. But the process is always complicated, so it is difficult to judge. But I'm pretty sure I'm going to be on the grid for next year." Paul Newman commented on a question about a third Newman/Haas entry for 2005 - "We are working very hard on that. It's not completed yet. We'll just have to wait and see how it plays itself out." 01/18/05 As Jim McGee himself says, his arrival at PKV Racing means the team will have no excuses this year. McGee has added some of his own people and technical programs to the mix at PKV and with his leadership Jimmy Vasser and his yet-to-be-announced teammate will be expected to win races and even challenge for the championship.
McGee says PKV may run 2002 Champ Car champion Cristiano da Matta in its second car if Newman/Haas decides it is unable to run three cars. But if da Matta drives for Newman/Haas either Wirdheim or Dalziel will become Vasser's teammate.
"Dalziel and Wirdheim are certainly fast guys and we've got a great interest in both of them," McGee says. "A lot depends on the direction of Newman/Haas. If Carl isn't going to run three cars we certainly have a big interest in Cristiano da Matta. I think he'd be great for our team and he'd be great for the series. He'd be a great teammate for Jimmy and bring a lot to the party. More at Champ Car [Editor's Note: If Carl Haas does not want to pay da Matta's big salary then they should run a third car for Wirdheim, Dalziel, Hunter-Reay, or Valiante.] 01/07/05 We have it on good word that Cristiano da Matta, long rumored to be going to Newman/Haas Racing in 2005, is talking to PKV Racing now. We hear da Matta wants $2 million to race with Newman/Haas but $3 million from PKV Racing. We assume he will take less from Newman/Haas because his chances of winning are greater. We hear Carl Haas almost swallowed his cigar, started perspiring profusely and needed oxygen when told da Matta wanted $2 million (Carl doesn't part with his money easily). If da Matta doesn't get the seat at PKV Racing, we hear that Ryan Dalziel is the next in line. We hear Jim McGee still wants a European trained driver even though Champ Car Toyota Atlantic trained Dalziel smoked his hand-picked European trained driver Bjorn Wirdheim in a head-to-head test at Sebring. We have updated our 2005 Champ Car Silly Season page, check it out using link above. Mark C.
Audi may skip 2005 "After winning the Manufacturer and Driver Championships in 2003 and the Manufacturer Championship in the 2004 SPEED World Challenge GT Series with our Audi RS 6 race cars, 2005 is a year for us to look to the future. The RS 6 was a limited edition car in North America and no longer sold here. We are therefore in the process of evaluating a new entry for the SPEED World Challenge Series based on an upcoming production car. " - Audi of America The Racersite
Is Marco Andretti F1 material? A reader asks, It seems as though Marco Andretti to this point is the real deal. With Mario's ties to Ferrari and Frank Williams along with Michael's ties to Honda, it appears he could have a great chance to become the next American in F1. It would create a new excitement in F1 and would be great for the USA. With his talent and name there is no doubt he will be hot property in a couple years and I could imagine sponsors, engine manufacturers and team owners will be lining up for his services. Matt Jones, Phoenix, AZ Dear Matt, Yes Marco appears to be talented, at least up to this stage in his career. He won't be the next American in F1. That will probably be Scott Speed or Ryan Hunter-Reay. It appears Marco Andretti is IRL bound. If so, any chance of him excelling in F1 will be gone. He can't develop as a driver going around tracks in circles at 100% throttle and there is zero chance his skill level will keep pace with other drivers who stay on the road course path, especially the young Europeans. Yes the IRL is doing a few road courses in 2005, but that simply is not enough. If he really wants to try F1 and do well at it, his career path must be Star Mazda (2005)-->PanAmerican-->GP2 or Champ Car-->F1 (at the age of 21 or 22). Mark C.
Concern for IRL’s futureUPDATE There must be real problems under the facade of the IRL because now even Bruce Martin, one of the IRL's staunchest supporters, is writing negative things about the IRL in National Speed Sport News. In his latest column he writes (excerpts), As the Indy Racing League begins its 10th season of on-track competition, the series attempted to present a positive image at its annual Media Day last Friday, but private talk from some of the teams showed frustration.
That frustration stems from the IRL's inability to attract more sponsors, create opportunities for more teams, generate higher television ratings and attendance and to show a coherent plan for the future.
Last week's open test and Media Day was held at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Friday was the day to showcase the series to the media, but there was little if any buzz of activity. The Credential office for the media had just one person on duty and he appeared quite lonely because he was on the only one in that side of the office.
Inside the interview room, the IRL and its team said all the right things, forecasting another exciting season of racing, but team members and a few team owners admitted outside that room they aren't happy with some of the business decisions made by the IRL.
There are only eight team owners in the IRL right now. Teams such as Andretti Green Racing, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing and Rahal Letterman Racing are propping up the car count with three or more drivers on each team. But the IRL lost one of its top drivers from 2004 when Adrian Fernandez lost his Mexican sponsorship, forcing a three-time winner to step out and serve as team owner for his two sponsored drivers -- Kosuke Matsuura and Scott Sharp. Team owner A.J. Foyt has already indicated he will not compete in the three street and road-course races that are new in 2005.
Penske Racing returns with its high-profile lineup of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and two-time IRL champion Sam Hornish, Jr., but it won't expand to three cars. Andretti Green Racing returns with a four-driver lineup -- the most in the IRL -- led by 2004 champion Tony Kanaan, with Dario Franchitti, Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta also piloting Honda-powered Dallaras.
Ken Ungar is the IRL's director of business affairs and was a key figure in luring Toyota and Honda to the Indy Racing League. When the two Japanese engine manufacturers signed up, the IRL was expected to take off. What took off was the cost to be involved in the sport, which led most of the home-grown IRL teams to take off from the series.
One of the reasons Doug Duchardt of Chevrolet mentioned as reasons to leave the IRL at the end of 2005 was the microscopically low TV ratings. Ungar admits that is a major problem for the series.
"Ratings present a challenge for us," Ungar said. "With that comes an opportunity. So between now and the start of the season, there will be several ground-breaking announcements in terms of both the production and the promotion of the television product."
None of that will matter if the viewers aren't tuning in. The IRL has created a new marketing slogan called "Adrenaline Amplified," but a crew chief for a high-ranking IRL team said, "When you figure out what that means, please tell me."
Another disgruntled team owner said, "The IRL keeps hiring people that don't know anything about auto racing or marketing. How are we ever going to make progress like that? When it comes to driver appearances or promotions, we're better off doing it ourselves than to let them (the IRL) do it. They hold events to promote the series and then don't let anybody know about it."
They are the ones adding the most cars with the high-profile sponsors who attempt to sell their drivers and create interest for the IRL. But the public continues to pay little attention to the series which has created a potentially critical problem for the league.
If the business side of the IRL doesn't begin to produce, the series could fall further off the radar screen of the American sports landscape, making its 10th birthday something with little to celebrate. [Editor's Note: As stated on numerous occasions, when Tony George created the IRL and split the sport, he dealt Indy Car Racing a fatal blow and it's dying a slow and painful death.]
01/14/05Question: Does Tony George or anyone in the IRL feel a bit uneasy with the future of open-wheel racing? I'm a big fan of open-wheel racing, but your recent comment about the Indy 500 not having 33 cars struck a nerve. I see the series as hanging on and not growing, just like Champ Car. It's hard to imagine why two sides that are so "passionate" about open-wheel racing can't reach a common ground to ensure that the sport doesn't fade away. Maybe they know something that the average fan doesn't, but I'm saddened and not very optimistic about the future of open-wheel racing. Bill from Dumfries, Va. Answer: I couldn't agree with you more. Tony George and his top brass continue to show a positive public face, but among the lower types there is genuine concern. Indy Star [Editor's Note: The damage that has been done to the sport of Indy Car/Champ Car Racing in the USA since the creation of the IRL in 1995 is unconscionable.]
IRL loses big sponsor to Champ Car If you looked carefully at the photos we published recently of Paul Newman's car for the Rolex 24 you would have noticed that Centrix Financial was a sponsor. We have it on good word that Centrix has dropped their sponsorship of the Rahal Letterman IRL team. Could this mean we will see Centrix sponsoring a Newman/Haas Champ Car in 2005? That is what AutoRacing1 sources are speculating. Mark C.
Champ Car to return to GermanyUPDATE #5 We are downgrading this rumor to 'false' today. We confirmed with Champ Car that there is no truth to this rumor. Mark C.01/26/05 A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, I know that the rumor about a possible Champ Car street race in Hannover, Germany popped up numerous times. The latest news here in Hannover seem to strengthen this rumor again. A local paper had a story on Monday which revealed details of the possible race which could happen as soon as 2006. The paper claims that event organizers have already talked to the Champ Car owners.
According to the paper, Jakub Andreas Grajewski (remember, he contemplated fielding a Champ Car team at one time) and the City of Hannover will be the co-promoters of the race. Grajewski was quoted as saying that he was really looking forward to the race and that it would be a great opportunity for the City of Hannover. The major of Hannover, Herbert Schmalstieg, was stressing the economic benefits for Hannover that would come with a race.
The title sponsors would be German brewery Hasseröder and energy giant E-on/Ruhrgas. The city is expected to cover the remaining expenses. The paper provided no graphical track layout, but said that the race would take place at the EXPO 2000 exhibition place. The paper is usually very reliable and given the details on this race and the quotes of various key persons, I rate the possibility of a street race in Hannover as very probable. Rolf Meier, Hannover, Germany
05/20/03 This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' After an inspection of the course submitted by the organizer Andreas Grajewski, Mayor Herbert decided the city could do without the disputed event and killed it. The course would have required too much resurfacing, drainage improvements and the relocation of trees. It was decided to keep the Expo area strictly for what it was originally intended - Expos. 5/20/03 - This Hanover.de article says that the long rumored race in Hanover Germany around the Expo area is proposed for September, 2004. This would mean CART would be making a 2nd trip to Europe each year, one in May and one in September. We could see May being Brands/EuroSpeedway/Estoril and the September trip being Hanover and Imola (yes, F1 will drop Imola soon). The organizer, Andreas Grajewski, wants to deliver a Champ Car race. The town councilors want to know about traffic congestion and logistics. The roadways must get a larger angle of inclination and other improvements. Klaus Timaeus sees the meeting as a chance to promote Hanover's image as a sport city country wide. Grajewski speaks of a good business for the region, if hotels were occupied and restaurants were full. However, others are against the race. A decision is expected in a few weeks. Mark C.11/30/02 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, next week when Chris Pook travels to Europe, one stop on his agenda will be to meet Andreas Grajewski in Hannover to talk about his CART team and his proposed race around the Expo area for 2004. On his last visit to Europe Pook already toured the Expo area and, with Grajewski, had a meeting with the mayor of Hannover, Dr. Herbert Schmalstieg (pictured right). Schmalstieg, during a visit to Shanghai's Tongji University recently, predicted that Shanghai, with its vitality and economic opportunities, would possibly win its bid to host the 2010 World Expo. Dr. Schmalstieg emphasized the opportunities presented by the expo, noting that Hannover has greatly benefited from hosting the 2000 World Expo. According to the mayor, the 2000 expo created about 40,000 jobs, placed Hannover on the worldwide stage, and helped it to forge closer ties with other parts of the world. Now he wants to take it one step further and hold a race that is televised worldwide. We will keep this rumor as 'speculation' for now because it is still a far way from reality. 11/27/02 - We did a little research on Hannover, Germany. Basically, it would be a decent place for the race because they need far less preparations there in comparison to a street race somewhere downtown. No major traffic detours necessary, and some of the streets in the expo area are pretty wide. You must know, everything there was planned and built too big even for the expo, so it would be oversized for the CART Race. But that can be an advantage, the concrete barriers in most of the turns could be placed up to 50 feet away from the racing groove, that's good for safety and for driver sight lines. And if you think the corners there are simply 90 degree corners, they are not, some streets have wide sweeping fast turns. With an intelligent layout they can build a track that's partly fast, partly slow and very, very physical. Could be a successful race. Hannover is in the center of the northern half of Germany, you can reach it on the "autobahn" from any region easily. However, now the bad news - the financial problems in Hannover. Many of the German cities comparable to Hannover or bigger are close to filing bankruptcy and the German government filed bankruptcy some weeks ago, no money at all, the socialists and the green party did not say anything before the election, but two weeks after their win they did, and economy in Germany will go further down. Some years ago the government gave money to Lausitzring, but financial help for anybody to set up a race is near impossible now and may be impossible in the future. Same thing with industry, remember Telekom or Deutsche Post F1 pullout some days ago, unexpected. Many German companies are cutting down their sports sponsorship programs, some are planning to cancel everything, because they expect lower costs from breaking contracts than from continuing the sponsorship. We also learned that one of the sponsors Grajewski wants to bring to CART is a manufacturer of heating plants for houses. They sell in Germany and in Europe, but nobody can buy the stuff in the USA we hear. Remember "Hasseröder" some years ago (Arndt Meyer)...... You can buy "Tecate" everywhere in the states, but "Hasseröder"? The weather in may in that region can be very good, warm around 20 degrees Celsius and dry, but in some years they have very unstable weather conditions. Sometimes weather patterns in April can extend to the first half of May, with rainy days and temperatures around 10 degrees Celsius. Mark C.
AOL and Champ Car We heard several rumors that at the Thursday Champ Car Promoters meeting in Indianapolis that AOL made a presentation to all the promoters there to tell them about a new program that AOL is working on with Champ Car to both help promote the Champ Car Series through AOL, and drive new members to AOL through Champ Car and many of the Champ Car partners and sponsors. Assuming this deal gets done it will be another shot in the arm for Champ Car as they continue to lay their foundation in 2005 for a 2006 breakout year.
NASCAR popularity waning in CaliforniaUPDATE Among the rumors at the Nextel Media Tour here in Charlotte, N.C., is that one of California Speedway's two NASCAR dates could be in trouble. Mind you, it's strictly something said and repeated but never finding its way into print. After all, it's rather silly to even think about. Absurd is perhaps a better adjective.
NASCAR, track owner International Speedway Corp. and the controlling France family went to great lengths to realign the schedule in 2004 to give Fontana its Labor Day Sunday night event. To even propose such a thought after one race is unthinkable.
However, it indicates someone somewhere is concerned about whether NASCAR will ever catch on in Southern California. Apparently, selling 93,000 seats or so, not to mention another 15,000 in the infield, isn't enough for some.
There have been published reports in various Southern newspapers that California Speedway is encountering problems selling tickets for the Feb. 27 Auto Club 500. Some have gone as far to speculate that president Bill Miller might just paper the house in order to look good after the season-opener at Daytona. More at Whittier Daily News
01/12/05 There are reports that early-season ticket sales are worrisome at several NASCAR tracks, particularly California Speedway. According to some, one reason is high ticket prices. Last September's Labor Day race at the Fontana track was a difficult sell; some NASCAR insiders said that a number of tickets were actually giveaways, or pushed on sponsors. The California race was sponsored by General Mills' Pop Secret division; this year's 500 has no sponsor. That September race in California was such a tough sell that at least one NASCAR executive is reported to be pushing to revive the Southern 500 at Darlington as a Labor Day race and to move the California race to a different weekend. Winston Salem Journal
USA government issues Mexico warning In a move that could affect Champ Car's two Mexico races, the State Department on Wednesday issued a travel warning for Americans visiting Mexico, saying violent criminal activity, including murder and kidnapping, has increased in its northern border region. "U.S. citizens should be aware of the risk posed by the deteriorating security situation," the department said in a public announcement. It added that the great majority of victims are Mexican citizens. The announcement attributed the increased crime to a war between criminal organizations struggling for control of the lucrative narcotics trade. It said the leaders of several major criminal organizations have been arrested, creating a power vacuum. "This has resulted in a wave of violence aimed primarily at members of those trafficking organizations and criminal justice officials," the announcement said.
Jarrett to retire in three years Dale Jarrett at yesterday's NASCAR Media Tour - "A lot of good things have happened at Robert Yates Racing in the last year after Mike Ford came in and reorganized everything. Our focus for 2005 is clearly to get back to victory lane...I've given it a lot of thought and I've seen a lot of the guys my age getting ready to retire, but they started earlier than I did, so I am going to stay at it a little longer. My contract is for two more years, but I'd like to stay around a little longer. If Robert and Doug Yates and UPS would have me back, I think I would look at racing through probably 2007. I have a minimum of two years and probably three left." Pete McCole
Todt Jr to run ’Ferrari Jr’?UPDATE At the same time there are stories suggesting that the ART team, which consists of Frederic Vasseur of ASM and Nicolas Todt (son of Jean Todt and manager of Felipe Massa), will be appearing in Ferrari red with sponsorship from Vodafone and some other companies with links to Ferrari. Todt Jr incidentally runs a website company which looks after the Rubens Barrichello official website plus websites for Nico Rosberg, Franck Montagny, Felipe Massa, Jean Todt's favorite charity, Sabelt, Olympus, Vodafone and TAG Heuer. Word on the street is that ART will run Rosberg Jr and Alexandre Premat. Grandprix.com01/27/05 Nicolas Todt has denied that his GP2 team will be a 'junior' squad for Formula One's Ferrari. The Frenchman, son of Ferrari general director and team principal Jean Todt, is commercial director at the new 'ART' outfit. Todt Jr admitted that ART and Ferrari will, though, share a sponsor or two -- like Vodafone. He told Motorsport News: ''But there will not be a direct link between (ART and Ferrari).'' ART has the involvement of successful French F3 outfit ASM.
Briscoe's F1 career over Toyota test driver Ryan Briscoe has signed to drive in the IRL for at least two years with Ganassi Racing, and despite what he claims he was told by Ganassi and Toyota (i.e. they would try to get him back into F1) it now looks almost definite that he has been put out to pasture. It appears Toyota is looking for new blood for their future F1 drivers. And why would Toyota send one of their young guns to the IRL to drive in circles when in fact that will only dull his reflexes and not prepare him in any way, shape, or form for F1?
This Grandprix.com article says, We hear from Germany that the Toyota Formula 1 team is planning to announce some new young drivers for its Toyota Drivers Academy now that Ryan Briscoe has gone off to the United States to race with Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the Indy Racing League. The program was run until the middle of last year by Ange Pasquali but he has since departed and the scheme was taken over by Richard Cregan although no mention of it was made at the recent F1 launch.
However our spies tell us that Spain's Borja Garcia, winner of the Spanish Formula 3 series in 2004 with Racing Engineering, will be named as one of the new Toyota men. Garcia is expected to be seen racing in GP2 this year with the Racing Engineering team, although this is still to be officially confirmed.
NASCAR team to open engine shop in UK This Grandprix.com article says, NASCAR's Evernham Group is to establish an Evernham Advanced Engine Technology company in Northampton, England. It will be headed by American Mark McArdle, a man with considerable experience in open-wheeler racing before he became involved with Evernham in 2003. Our spies tell us that Evernham will a part-owner of the business but that there will be other partners, some of them ex-Ilmor engineers. Evernham represents Dodge in the NASCAR Nextel Cup while Ilmor builds F1 engines for Mercedes-Benz. Both Dodge and Mercedes are owned by the DaimlerChrysler group but there is no sign that there is any connection between Evernham and Ilmor.
The move is interesting for a number of reasons not least because it is the first time that a NASCAR team has openly gone to Europe looking for technology. There were rumors a few weeks ago that Chevrolet is getting help from an Italian engine technology company with links to Ferrari.
Evernham made his name as the crew chief of Hendrick Motorsport, guiding Jeff Gordon to three Winston Cup titles in the 1990s. At the end of 1999 Evernham was hired by Dodge to lead the company into NASCAR and within 18 months had his team up and running with driver Bill Elliott. By the end of the 2000 season the team had won its first race. Elliott, Jeremy Mayfield and Kasey Kahne have all been frontrunners for the team since then and Evernham Engines has become a strong contender as an engine builder. McArdle joined the team in 2003. He started working on racing cars in his teens in Formula Super Vee and Formula Atlantic and then moved to CART in 1987 with Kraco Racing. He worked at Truesports and then joined Penske Racing as an engine builder, the start of an involvement which resulted in three Indy 500 victories. He joined Ilmor as director of US development and production engine building in 1994 and stayed until 1999 when he moved to NASCAR with PPI Motorsports, and then had a spell at Yates Racing Engines.
While the primary purpose of the new operation seems to be to build successful NASCAR engines, doing that in England is odd and one has to ask whether there is more to this than meets the eye. We heard some time ago that a number of Ilmor engineers were starting a new breakaway with the intention of building a new V8 engine for Formula 1 and we are wondering if perhaps there may be some plan for F1 engines. It is no secret that Red Bull Racing has been looking for an engine supplier for some time and has always wanted a link with an American manufacturer.
Cleveland Mayor wants to rip up Champ Car track The “Action Plan” of Cleveland Mayor Mary Campbell calls for bringing a casino to her Ohio city and the possible shuttering of Burke Lakefront Airport, site of the annual Champ Car road race. She cites the desire of developers to close the airport and devote its 450 acres to housing. National Speed Sport News
Sirius and XM in merger talksUPDATE FORBES.com reports that Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin today “scoffed” at the N.Y. Post’s report that the company has been talking to XM Satellite Radio about a merger. Karmazin: “I have not met with the chairman or CEO [of XM], so I have no idea where any of this came from” FORBES.com Meanwhile, XM Satellite Radio VP/Programming Operations Chance Patterson said, “This is the same news organization that last fall reported on its cover Dick Gephardt was named John Kerry’s running mate. So consider the source” BIZJOURNALS.com01/26/05 The N.Y. POST reports that Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio execs “have been meeting lately to discuss the possibility of a merger.” Since Sirius hired Mel Karmazin as CEO in November, “the issue has gained renewed urgency.”
Midland also eyes Davidson Jordan, who have been taken over by Canadian billionaire Alex Shnaider's Midland group, have no drivers for the new season that starts on 6 March. "Davidson is one of my favorite drivers," said Midland F1 managing director Colin Kolles. "He is also one of the favorites of team manager Trevor Carlin, but it's not only our decision." Davidson, who is the BAR team's official reserve driver, raced for Carlin in British Formula Three. "We were looking at Davidson for a long time but we will see if we can find a solution. It's not that easy," added Kolles. It's not a question of him being expensive, that's not a problem." The Englishman was offered a test with Williams this winter but was unable to take it following a contractual dispute between Williams and BAR. Midland, who took over Jordan on Monday after buying all the team's shares, are also interested in bringing in Mexican Mario Dominguez, who races in the US-based Champ Car series. BBC Sport
Car of the future....three years away The car of the future — NASCAR’s so-called “car of the future” is at least three years away, according to competition official Robin Pemberton. “I could see us starting to implement some of the changes next year,” said Pemberton. “The car of the future isn’t going to be implemented at one time. It will be at least a year away before we make any changes, and it will probably be implemented over at least a three-year period, in which various aspects are implemented partially each year in order to hold down the costs associated with the changes. That’s so that teams don’t have to build new cars all at once and incorporate all the changes at once.” The “car of the future” is a project of NASCAR’s Research and Development Center. The concept involves different methods of construction designed to make racing safer. Gaston Gazette
Russian President may attend Midland launch Vladimir Putin may attend the launch of the Midland F1 team in Moscow next month. Alex Shnaider’s company finally bought out Jordan on Monday – and the Russian-born entrepreneur seems determined to stamp his identity on the team straight away. The company plan to hold the ceremony in Red Square. And a team spokeswoman confirmed that Putin would be on the guest list. She said: "He (Putin) will be invited, naturally, but whether he can attend is another matter." Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who tried to bring a grand prix to the Russian capital, is also likely to be invited. However, the team will continue to race under the name Jordan this season, before switching to Midland F1 in 2006. ITV-F1.com
Champ Car could lose Dominguez nowUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' AutoRacing1.com sources say that Mario will stay in Champ Car in 2005 with HVM, because of loyalty to HVM and to Enrique Hernandez Pons, but he also likes the possibility of fighting for the Champ Car title. Mario was first offered the possibility of being a test driver in 2005 and a racer in 2006, but because of Midland acquiring Jordan, Midland offered Mario a possibility of running in F1 in 2005. Mario said he decided to wait until 2006 and just be a test driver in 2005 while also driving full time with HVM. Mario explained that HVM has a real possibility of fighting for the title in 2005. Mario is confident that with Midland buying the team, they can be a real contender in 2006. See other rumor about Indian driver possibly being his teammate. 01/26/05 Healthily-backed Champ Car driver Mario Dominguez is now strongly linked with a 2005 F1 debut. The Mexican, already slated for a 'Midland' drive in 2006, will travel to Canada (Toronto) on Thursday to meet with new Jordan owner Alex Shnaider. And manager Henri Luzet told Autosport: ''There's a great chance for Mario to get up to speed ... with Jordan.'' Dominguez is contracted to Keith Wiggins' Herdez-backed Champ Car team in 2005, although a (F1-specific) 'get-out' clause is thought to exist.
ALMS might bend rules for new Maserati The controversial Maserati MC12 should be cleared to race in this year’s American Le Mans Series in the next few days. A deal brokered by IMSA, the sanctioning body of the ALMS, could be agreed as early as this week to allow the V12-engined supercar to race in America, even though it does not conform to the series’ regulations. The move would then be announced at next week’s official ALMS pre-season test at Sebring.
The MC12 is wider than the two-meter maximum allowed under Le Mans GT1 rules and Maserati was told it would have to build a narrower version if it wants to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours and the series that run to its rules. IMSA is known to have worked tirelessly over the winter to persuade the Le Mans organizers to allow the car into the ALMS under the same rules that let it compete in the FIA GT Championship.
IMSA now appears to have successfully argued that the participation of the Maserati is vital to the health of the ALMS. Not only would the car provide opposition to the dominant Chevrolet Corvettes in the numerically-weak GT1 class (formerly GTS), but it would bring extra prestige to a series that is racing increasing competition from its rival, the Grand-Am Championship.
A deal is expected to be worked out in Paris this week at a meeting of GT racing’s technical working group rules think-tank. Under the agreement, the hi-tech MC12 would be subject to extra checks and measures if its performance outstrips that of more conventional cars such as the Corvette and the new Aston Martin DBR9.
IMSA boss Doug Robinson said: “We are working closely with the Le Mans organizers on this. I would say there is a 90 per cent chance that we will see the cars racing in America this year.”
This agreement would not cover the Le Mans 24 Hours. The organizers are insistent that the MC12 will not be allowed to compete in the big race until a narrower version of the car has been homologated.
Should the MC12 get the go-ahead to race in the ALMS, there is almost certain to be one car on the grid for the opening race at Sebring on March 19. It would be entered under the banner of long-time series entrant Risi Competizione whose boss, Giuseppe Risi, is North America’s biggest Ferrari and Maserati dealer. Autosport Magazine
Champ Car or F1 could race at new Rio track The consortium that is behind the plan to tear down half of Rio de Janeiro’s Jacarepaguá circuit has confirmed it will build a new, three-mile track designed by Hermann Tilke’s company. The marketing director of Rio Sports Plaza consortium claimed on Brazilian TV last week that he will meet the presidents of the country’s car and motorsport confederations. Autosport Magazine
Emmo to drive again Two-time F1 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi’s return to racing after an absence of eight seasons remains on course. The 58-year-old, who hasn’t driven competitively since 1996, looks likely to race for the Bell Motorsports outfit in one of the mid-season Grand-Am enduros at either Mont Tremblant or Watkins Glen. Tentative plans for him to drive Bell’s Doran-Pontiac in next month’s Daytona 24 Hours have been abandoned. Autosport Magazine
ROC may move from France to England The Race of Champions could run at the all-new Wembley Stadium next year. The organizers of the event, held at the Stade de France in Paris last December, are known to be considering numerous venues across the world in an effort to increase the profile and appeal of the annual event. In addition to London, cities in North America and Asia are also under discussion. Britain’s 90,000-seater national stadium is still being built, but will be finished by May 2006, in time for football’s FA Cup Final. It has no other events planned at present.
“Everything is feasible,” said a Wembley spokesman. “However, I am not aware of any approaches to hold such an event at this time.”
Event organizer Fredrik Johnson confirmed his interest in the venue, saying: “It is definitely something we are looking at, because it would be an exciting venue, but we have had a lot of people contacting us about hosting an event. At the same time we were very happy with the Stade de France last year, so we have many options. It is always nice to have choices, and we will consider them all – I am not going to close any doors – but it is a question of making the right decision.”
Johnson also confirmed that he will be meeting with representatives from the Stade de France within a month to discuss holding the 2005 event in the stadium again. “We learned a lot,” said Johnson. “Wherever we choose to have the event we know that we can use that experience to good effect. Once we have met with the stadium officials we hope to be able to make a quick decision on where and when the event will be held.”
Prior to last year’s Paris-based event, the meeting which brings together the highest profile drivers and riders from all disciplines of global motorsport, had been staged on Gran Canaria. Autosport Magazine
Toyota 'spied on'? Toyota may have been spied on during a factory 'open day' at the weekend. That's the claim of German-born F1 team driver Ralf Schumacher. To raise money for the German Red Cross' tsunami relief effort, for the first time ever, Cologne swung open their F1 HQ and donated every dollar. But Ralf, 29, reckons some F1 rivals probably sent along a sly photographer or two. ''Actually, I'm surprised that Toyota opened the door at all,'' said the younger Schumacher. He added: ''I asked myself at the time if there could be someone from Ferrari or Williams there.''
Vienna eyes street race The mayor of Vienna would love to welcome Bernie Ecclestone's grand prix circus to the Austrian city. Mayor Michael Haeupl said the event would bring a giant 'economic and image-promoting' advantage to the region, particularly in context of the loss of the Austrian grand prix. Fellow politician Heinz-Christian Strache is another supporter. ''If they can do it in Monte Carlo,'' he asked, ''why can't we do it in Vienna?'' The possibility exists that Vienna could do a Champ Car race in the streets instead of F1. Champ Car is getting good at doing street races and are there to fill in for F1 when F1 simply can't fit a new race into their already big 19-race schedule and soon to be 20-race schedule. This may also explain 3-time F1 champion Niki Lauda's sudden interest in Champ Car for his son Mathias, who of course is also Austrian. It may also explain Champ Car boss Gerald Forsythe's sudden interest in wanting to invest in Mr. Lauda's career....according to his manager, Niki Lauda's other son. Mark C.
No VW for SauberUPDATE If you ask (CEO) Dr. Bernd Pischetsrieder when Volkswagen will join the F1 grid, you'll hear a variation of the word 'never.' But, at the Kitzbuehel charity ski event in Austria, attended notably by 'impresario' Bernie Ecclestone, the f1.com website tried again. Bernd replied: ''First I have to bring the house in order and then I am ready for new challenges.'' McLaren's Mansour Ojjeh, the FIA's Herbie Blash, and former grand prix drivers Gerhard Berger and Niki Lauda, also showed up on the Austrian ski slope. Asked if key F1 decisions are made at the annual event, founder Berger grinned: ''After drinking some schnapps with Bernie, many things look ... ready for a decision.'' 01/23/05 Peter Sauber was quick to scotch rumors about Volkswagen entering Formula One. Despite his team being linked with the car manufacturer Sauber thinks that Ford's departure will also terminate the German manufacturer's interest.
"I think Ford is the first of many to leave," Sauber prophesized to Autosport. The car industry is not in a situation where it can spend a lot of money." "I have talked with manufacturers many times - those already in the sport and those who are not. Sooner or later Sauber may go with a manufacturer but I don't think at the moment there are any new ones to come in... I don't think Volkswagen are in a situation to do that."
18-Year Old Mexican eyes Champ Car This Esto Mexican newspaper article reports that 18 year old Antonio "Tormentita" Pérez-Garibay is working to get a ride with HVM this season. He will test in February, and supposedly Mario Dominguez is helping him to get the ride. The article says that Dominguez wants a young Mexican driver to stay in case he goes to F1 next year, and that is something Adrian Fernandez never did, i.e. help a Mexican driver.
Champ Car return to RA doubtful The chances of Champ Car racing at Road America took a major step backward today when the Toyota Atlantic series announced they will team up with ALMS in August. If Champ Car were returning to America's greatest road race venue Toyota Atlantic would have been one of the support races. One can bet the Toyota Atlantic folks knew Champ Car was not going to race at Road America in May so they did the deal with ALMS in August. It would have been too cold in May so it is better Champ Car not return and avoid another sparsely attended event.
As Champ Car migrates away from these great circuits in exchange for Mickey Mouse street circuits, the series ceases to become a good training ground for F1 (just ask Sebastien Bourdais who could not even get a F1 test). Once that happens, drivers with money from Europe and South America who have F1 as their goal will take their checkbooks elsewhere. Perhaps that is the plan - to make Champ Car a final destination rather than a feeder series. Mark C.
Report: Raikkonen exposes private partsUPDATE Last year Raikkonen was also dogged by reports of drunken behavior at a nightclub in the Canary Islands and he could now be disciplined by the team. "I'm aware of the media coverage that Kimi received over the course of the weekend," said McLaren F1 chief executive Martin Whitmarsh. "Certainly that's not a welcome thing, either for Kimi or the team. "Even if they (the reports) are not entirely true, the perception is extremely negative and that's something that we have to take seriously," he added. "We've got a whole range of multi-national brands that are associated with our team and they don't invest in Formula One for this sort of imagery," said Whitmarsh. "We'll take whatever steps to ensure that Kimi understands the seriousness of the situation. I think he does and perhaps there was a touch of naiveté about what happened here and he's learning that as a reputation starts to develop, you've got to be ultra-sensitive about having fun in a public place." 01/23/05 [Editor's Note: If this tabloid newspaper report is true, we suspect Kimi Raikkonen could lose his F1 ride. What sponsor is going to be involved with a driver who exhibits this sort of behavior, and it's the 2nd time of reports he has gotten stone drunk. For now we list it as a "rumor."]
This People tabloid rag says, F1 star Kimi Raikkonen was chucked out of a lap dancing club after putting on an obscene display that shocked staff and customers. The married Formula One driver and his pals had spent more than £5,000 on booze and table dances when he suddenly, WHIPPED OUT his manhood in front of two lap dancers, and PLAYED with himself in front of the busty blonde and brunette, and WAVED AWAY the horrified manager who tried to stop the sordid scene.
The manager of trendy London Mayfair club For Your Eyes Only told The People: "I was gob smacked. "I thought I'd seen most things in the lap dancing game but when I saw one of the world's top racing drivers sprawled there with his trousers undone I couldn't believe it."
Finnish-born Raikkonen, 25, who drives for McLaren Mercedes and is the major rival of F1 legend Michael Schumacher, arrived at the club on Wednesday night with two pals. They got through bottle after bottle of Cristal champagne at £600 a time and dozens of dance vouchers at £20 each.
The party transferred to a VIP area and Raikkonen - who married beautiful Finnish model Jenni Dahlman last year - was enjoying dances from a blonde and a brunette when he decided to give them a show of his own. The sozzled Finn unzipped his designer jeans, pulled out his manhood and began fondling himself. The manager, called UJ, said: "I was working downstairs and got a call there was a problem.
"I raced up and at first I thought there was nothing wrong. Then I looked again and Kimi's hand was there on his crotch with his trousers undone and his body exposed. I shouted 'What the hell are you doing, get out now' but he waved me away. Fortunately it was nearly the end of the night and the house lights came on. I sent away the two girls, Kimberly and Brody, and managed to get his group downstairs. It was too much. He was drunk as a skunk and didn't care who saw what was going on."
An astonished eyewitness said: "Raikkonen was very arrogant and loud when he arrived - flashing his credit card for everyone to see but he didn't even use it and let mates pay the bill. "The girls were halfway through a dance and were about to remove their G-strings when the management spotted the driver with his trousers undone. Every now and then you do get guys going over the top with the girls but you don't expect anyone to expose themselves - especially when they are a world famous millionaire racing car driver."
Another member of staff told The People: "The girls are used to men coming on to them but Raikkonen overstepped the mark. “The poor girls were so embarrassed they didn't know where to look. I feel sorry for his wife if that is the kind of thing she has to deal with."
Raikkonen, nicknamed the Iceman for the cool style in the cockpit which has won him two Grand Prix, is no stranger to controversy. He was pictured last year collapsed on a pavement in Gran Canaria, Spain, after a bust-up with wife Jenni, 25, a former Miss Scandinavia.
The randy driver, who owns homes in Chigwell, Essex, and Finland had been smooching with other women. After another drunken escapade in Finland, Raikkonen - reported to be on an £80 million contract - said: "You can't stay at home all the time. You have to live your life" But club manager UJ said: "It doesn't matter how famous he is, it doesn't excuse his shocking behavior." When The People spoke to Raikkonen's agent Steve Robertson yesterday he dismissed the claims as rubbish but admitted he had not spoken to the star.
Then the driver's best friend Christian Vine, who was in the club with him on Wednesday night, phoned to protest Raikkonen's innocence. He said: "I'm sitting with Kimi now but I can't put him on the line because you will quote him. "But it's absolute rubbish that he exposed himself. It's not appropriate for an F1 driver to speak to a newspaper about something like this especially on a Saturday afternoon when he is off duty."
Champ Car to hire Andretti Green manUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's Tony Cotman announcement. See Hot New Page. 01/22/05 Rumor has it that Tony Cotman, Andretti Green Racing's team manager last season and Dan Wheldon's strategist, has left the team. He is expected to take a position with Champ Car in Operations. Whether he will replace Senior VP John Lopes, Chief Steward Chris Kneifel, or one of the Race Stewards remains to be seen. AGR got John Lopes from Champ Car and it appears Champ Car will return the favor.
Forsythe's possible 4-car team The pressing issue for Forsythe is how many cars he'll field out of his Indianapolis shop. In the past few weeks we've heard Ryan Hunter-Reay, 18-year-old Canadian Andrew Ranger, Formula One vet Jos Verstappen, Mathias Lauda and Rodolfo Lavin might be paired with Paul Tracy.
"I'm prepared to run as many as sponsorship will allow but I'm not going to fund them," declared Forsythe, who ran three cars in 2004. "Kevin and I made a commitment to Ryan to keep him in Champ Car and we're going to make it happen.
"Niki Lauda called me last Monday and he's working diligently to get his son in Champ Car but it all comes down to sponsorship. He's very interested and if the money was there I think they'd already be signed.
"Andrew Ranger tested for us and did a good job. Neil Mickelwright (team manager) was in awe of the kid and said if there was any way to get him in a car but it takes $6 million to do it right and his people don't have that kind of money."
Forsythe is frustrated with Canada, in general. Despite having great passion and attendance in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver (replaced by Edmonton this year), they haven't found any funding for 2003 CART champ Tracy.
"For whatever reason, there's no Canadian money. We took Paul and a show car to Edmonton to meet some of the largest companies and there seemed to be a lot of interest and we're still talking to people but nothing yet."
Whether it's dealing with potential sponsors or tracks, buying Cosworth or negotiating with promoters, Gerry Forsythe has quietly become a major player in American motorsports. Maybe not by design, but rather by desire. Champ Car
HVM will announce two Mexicans Our sources tell us that HVM has already signed Mario Dominguez to one car and are very close to signing another Mexican, David Martinez, to the 2nd car. Previous rumors published here suggest that one of the cars will be sponsored by Mexican Oil giant Pemex.
Ecclestone to offer teams $3 billionUPDATE Bernie's new scheme will provide 40M a year to each team from 2008 thru 2012..... 5 years.... (40 x 5 = $200M). $200M plus a signing bonus of 35M plus 7 to 9 million bonus to make up for shortfalls occurring before the renewal (200+35+9+ = 48.8M). That is $48.8 MILLION dollars a year to each team guaranteed! Call it $50M a year after all is said and done in that this is his opening offer. The sanctioning body will provide 50M a year to each team guaranteed for 5 years. Then the teams add on their own revenue streams from sponsors, merchandising, partners, etc. Currently, only the winning team receives that much. This offer provides a sum to every team that currently only the winning team enjoys. In Champ Car it may cost 10% of what it takes to run an F1 team but if the sanctioning body would guarantee each team 5 million dollars a year you'd quickly have a very healthy series. Perhaps in five years if the TV ratings are what they should be...... 01/22/05 Bernie Ecclestone, the billionaire owner of the commercial rights to Formula 1, will offer the sport's 10 teams $3bn of guaranteed revenues over five years, if they sign up to a new agreement to participate in F1 until 2012. At a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Ecclestone will offer each team a minimum of $40m per season starting from the end of 2007 - the year the current "Concorde" agreement ends - until 2012.
In addition, each team will be offered a signing-on fee of more than $35m plus a further $7m to $9m currently held in an escrow account as a reflection of Ecclestone's view that they should have been given more for the 2004 season.
Currently the teams with the least points at the end of each season receive about $15m. That rises to about $50m for the winner of the Constructors Championship - which goes to the team picking up the most race points over a season. But under the terms of the new Concorde agreement, the most successful team could get more than $100m. The deal will cost Ecclestone about $3bn between 2008 and 2012.
All the teams have been campaigning for a bigger slice of the $900m+ per-year profits generated by F1, the bulk of which currently goes into Ecclestone's own pocket. His improved offer is designed to kill off a rival racing franchise being set up by GPWC - a consortium of F1 manufacturers that includes BMW and Mercedes.
In a highly controversial move last week, Ferrari broke ranks with the other GPWC members and announced that it would sign up to Ecclestone's new Concorde agreement after clinching a $100m signing on fee. Ecclestone believes Ferrari's show of allegiance to his flag will force the other teams to fall into line rather than hold out in the hope of securing a better deal from GPWC.
At Tuesday's meetings the teams will say that they are not happy with what they see as the preferential treatment shown to Ferrari by Ecclestone. Telegraph.co.uk
Max Papis to NASCAR? Defending Grand American Rolex Series Daytona Prototype co-champion Max Papis has become a fixture around NASCAR garage areas, and has even tested cars for owner Ray Evernham, among others. Last week at Daytona, Papis said he had established a relationship with owner Cal Wells, and Thursday Wells confirmed he'd love to put a program together for the personable Italian. "I'd love to run him in the two road course races," Wells said of the driver who was named to the 12-man field for the IROC Series on Wednesday. NASCAR
Kentucky race loses sponsor The Kentucky IRL race appears to have lost its sponsor. This year its called "The Bluegrass Indy 300," named after the Bluegrass state of Kentucky. The old race sponsor, Belterra Casino Resort & Spa will maintain its status as the “Official Hotel and Casino of Kentucky Speedway” through 2007 under the terms of a marketing partnership announced in December. The resort property will receive category exclusivity with the speedway as well as a luxury suite, track signage, tickets and other advertising and promotional considerations. Belterra also will continue to extend promotional offers to speedway guests through event ticket advertising. Full financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.
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