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Asleep at the wheel? A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Us Champ Car fans are getting restless. When is Champ Car going to start all their positive PR and announcements? The 2006 season is set to start in 6 weeks. No ads yet and only 7 confirmed drivers. They need to get their act together soon and start making some announcements. What are they waiting for? Is it this merger talk that has stalled any planned announcements? The fans need to start getting rev'd up before the season starts. Rod Orlando, FL.
Dear Rod, Champ Car has this new invisible marketing and PR strategy that allows it to operate under the radar screen so its fans don't even know they exist. All kidding aside, as we reported previously, we were told the announcements would ramp up in the month of March and peak in time for the season opener in Long Beach. March is just around the corner so expect to start seeing some announcements. The Atlantic Series Mazda announcement was kept quiet until the day of the announcement and you will see Champ Car announcements handled in a similar manner. Also, while Champ Car has been dormant the Atlantic series has had a lot of buzz. Mark C.
Possible controversy in Mexican teamUPDATE #6 Today a lot of fans felt cheated by the organizers of the A1GP race in Monterrey, who happen to also be the owners of Team Mexico. Even though David Martinez was announced as the official driver for this event, and he even did the practice sessions on Friday, on Saturday Team Mexico yet again changed their minds and sent Duran to do the morning practice session and the qualifying. Many of the fans believed Team Mexico planned to do this all along, and announced Monterrey local David Martinez and used him on Friday to sell more tickets. Martinez was 16th fastest Friday and Duran 14th fastest today. This rumor is now truly 'fact.' Jose Arrambide
02/24/06 Martinez is officially confirmed to be in the Team Mexico car this weekend. "It's David's chance to be the hero," said Salvador Duran. "I'm very happy with the team's decision. It's not a problem."
02/11/06 A1GP Team Mexico changed their mind one more time. After announcing Wednesday that Salvador Duran (pictured right) would drive for the team in the Monterrey race (a decision that didn’t make David Martinez very happy) they changed their decision again. They have announced that David Martinez will be the driver for the Monterrey race. Should we expect any more changes in the next two weeks? The controversy continues......
02/09/06 A1GP Team Mexico VP Julio Jauregui denies rumors that Telmex had anything to do with the decision to run Salvador Duran instead of David Martinez in the Monterrey Race, but the versions are getting a little bit confusing. Jauregui said in an interview with Grupo Reforma (El Norte/Reforma) that they wanted both drivers to fight for the seat in the practice sessions on Friday, but that neither Duran nor Martinez thought it was a good idea (which is a huge understatement) so they decided to go with Duran.
But then, after they questioned Telmex's involvement with the decision, Jauregui said the driver decision was taken exclusively by DAM team director Eric Boullier (DAM is the one who actually does the racing part for Team Mexico), explaining that the last time he tried to express his personal opinion to Boullier he "threw in the towel" and that since that day Boullier and DAM are the only ones who make the racing decisions.
If this is true, why were they going to decide the driver based on the Friday practice sessions? There’s another thing that doesn’t make sense, after the race in Durban Grupo Reforma asked Marked Nadal (Nadal is the Chief engineer of DAM/Team Mexico) about the driver for the Monterrey race, and Nadal said that DAM would not make that decision, that the management of Team Mexico were going to decide it since they are the ones putting up the money. Who made the decision then? Boullier? Jauregui? Telmex?
02/09/06 El Norte published today that David Martinez was not very happy with the decision of Team Mexico to run Duran instead of him in this weekend's A1GP race in Monterrey, Mexico. Martinez went as far as saying that in case Team Mexico asks him to drive for them in the future he will decline the offer. Even though Team Mexico has announced Duran for the rest of the season, checking the schedule, it seems that the A1GP race in Shanghai will be the same weekend of the first race of the season of the British F3 series, the series in which Duran is a driver. Duran can’t be in two different cities at the same time. Martinez said he will not drive for Team Mexico in the future, so who will drive in Shanghai then? The controversy continues......
02/06/06 A spokesperson tells us that the team never announced that Martinez will drive in the Monterrey race. Sources tell us that tomorrow the team will announce that Salvador Duran will be the Mexican team's driver from Monterrey through the remainder of the season. If true, then there is no controversy, just some very disappointed Monterrey fans who wanted to see the local man, Martinez, in action.
02/03/06 The A1GP Mexican team had announced that David Martinez, who is a native from Monterrey, would be the driver for the Monterrey race, as Martinez and Salvador Duran have been alternating the driving for the Mexican team. Not anymore, the Mexican team has announced that they will decide after the Friday practice sessions of the race who will race. Their plan is to let their 2 drivers, Martinez and Duran, fight for the seat. Each one will drive the Mexican car in one of the sessions on Friday and the one with the fastest lap will qualify the car on Saturday and run the races on Sunday.
This is one of the most absurd ideas we have heard. How much do they know about racing? Has anyone let them know that track conditions affect the lap times and that chances are track conditions will be different in every session? What about driver feedback? Practice sessions are important because the feedback of the drivers help to improve the car. What if you get the first practice session? Do you give false feedback so you won’t help the other driver beat you? If they want some kind of controversy to get media attention this is not the way to do it. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico
Kalkhoven and Forsythe to buy another engine company?UPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. AutoRacing1.com has verified that the source of this rumor, J. Wilke, a staunch IRL supporter, was wrong, which was to be expected.
02/22/06 Getting some reports that John Menard is denying such a deal, so take this rumor with a grain of salt right now.
02/21/06 Sometimes being too successful too fast can be a bad thing. Rumor has it that Kevin Kalkhoven and Jerry Forsythe are in talks with John Menard about buying Menard Engine Group (MEG) as Kalkhoven needs a US based rebuilder to help with the large volume of Atlantics engines that must be rebuilt and serviced. Between doing the entire Champ Car grid, the entire 40-car Atlantics grid, plus their commercial business in Torrance, Cosworth might be running at full-tilt says the rumor mill, and just as Honda engaged Ilmor to help with its IRL engine program, might Cosworth absorb John Menard's engine business to help with their workload?
We hear MEG has recently laid off 4-5 employees including Sonny Meyer because they have little work. Sonny was laid off because his son Butch took the IPS engine deal to Speedway Engines. We are told the only thing MEG has going right now is the NASCAR truck engine for one of the female drivers and they are doing Charley Menard's late-model engines, so they may have the excess capacity Kalkhoven and Forsythe might be looking for. Stay tuned as we try to run this rumor to ground.
Newman/Haas eyes Indy 500 again Don't rule out a Newman/Haas car at Indy this year. They have the equipment and there has to be a reason why they tried to hire Meira at the last minute. Did you know the team also bought IRL-only equipment at Panther's auction? I don't think it was to auction off at the next Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fundraiser. Curt Cavin/Indy Star
Papis to drive for Team Italy Max Papis is hoping to wave the flag for Italy by driving for his national team in the penultimate round of the inaugural A1 Grand Prix series at Laguna Seca in a fortnight's time in place of Enrico Toccacelo or Max Busnelli.
"I'm really excited by A1 Grand Prix," he reported when caught wandering around the paddock at Monterrey on Friday. "I'm hoping that I will get the drive. The formula [A1GP] looks really good, as there's not too much technology and not too little." The 36-year-old Champ Car racer turned sportscar ace would bring considerable experience of the Californian circuit, having raced there in Champ Cars before he turned to sportscars after the end of the 2003 season.
If Papis gets to race at Laguna Seca, the former Arrows driver will become the sixth driver with Formula One racing experience to compete in A1 Grand Prix, following in the wheel tracks of Jos Verstappen (A1 Team Netherlands), Christian Fittipaldi (A1 Team Brazil), Ralph Firman (A1 Team Ireland), Alex Yoong (A1 Team Malaysia) and Patrick Friesacher (A1 Team Austria). A1GP
Kazakhstan eyes F1 future (GMMf1NET) Kazakhstan could be eyeing a future on the formula one grid, with news that a race track is to be built in the republic south of Russia.
Malaysia's National News Agency is reporting that Kazakhstan government minister Askar Mamin is in Kuala Lumpur to stage talks about the running of Astana airport.
In a statement, Mamin confirmed that he also hoped to engage the help of Malaysia Airports to establish 'a racing circuit' near the airport in Kazakhstan.
Astana is in the central north of the country.
The news agency said the Kazakhstan delegation was briefed by Malaysian officials 'on the returns of investment from the organization ... of formula one races', its 'benefits to the nation as a whole', as well as 'its international impact'.
Honda's new bike slower than old? While Marco Melandri was emerging as the Honda front-runner, American Nicky Hayden was not trying to hide his frustrations with the stop-start Sepang weather and its effect on Repsol Honda's pre-season.
"It's been a tough three days going from bike to bike," said Hayden after trying to get worthwhile back-to-back runs on the 'old' and new-spec Hondas. And with so many things to test it got a little confusing."
Hayden explained the dilemma he and new teammate Dani Pedrosa have been facing.
"The new bike has a lot of potential," said Hayden, "but as soon as I jump on the other bike you look at the stopwatch and the lap times come a little bit easier. We're not in the best position but we've got a lot of good people around here working hard and we'll get there."
Aguri to retire in 5 years French news agency AFP reports that Aguri Suzuki, the former Formula One driver whose new team Super Aguri will join the premier motorsport circuit from this season, said Wednesday he will retire in five years.
"I am tired," the 45-year-old Suzuki said with a smile in an interview with a small group of journalists ahead of the F1 season.
"I will quit everything when I am 50. I will retire when I am 50," he said. "I want to spend my time doing other things."
What he will do with his F1 and IRL teams at the time remains to be seen.
Toyota dumps Cheever? As we reported Eddie Cheever will be running in the Indy 500. Of course this means Honda Power. Toyota (Lexus) is not pleased we hear. According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Cheever will soon be making an announcement regarding a change of powerplants for his Grand-Am Team. Word is Porsche! Anthony Castaneira
Raikkonen turns down Dennis offer to re-signUPDATE (GMMf1NET) According to reports in the Finnish press, Kimi Raikkonen has turned down a whopping $72 million deal to stay at Ron Dennis' McLaren team.
The reportedly rejected contract, which would have seen the 26-year-old Finn earn $24m per year until the end of 2009, will only intensify speculation that Raikkonen is already (secretly) committed to switch to the Ferrari team in 2007.
But his reluctance to pen a new Woking pact might also be linked with McLaren's less than shining winter season, not to mention his apparent irritation at Dennis' decision to already sign up world champion Fernando Alonso.
02/21/06 According to reports in the Finnish IS Veikkaaja newspaper, McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen has turned down a 3-year $71.5 million deal with Ron Dennis to remain with the Woking based squad after his current contract expires this year.
Turkish GP to be soldUPDATE #2 (GMMf1NET) Turkey's formula one circuit, which staged its inaugural grand prix last year, is for sale, the Chamber of Commerce in Istanbul says.
Confirming the speculation of earlier this month, officials announced that 96.99 per cent of the $192m venue would be auctioned, with up to seven parties reportedly already interested in making bids.
Bids will be open from next Monday until mid-March, with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone then consulted about the victor.
''If the offers do not provide the operational vision that we desire or the sufficient financial conditions, (we) will continue to operate it,'' Chamber of Commerce chairman Murat Yalcintas vowed.
02/09/06 (GMMf1NET) Istanbul Park, formula one's newest venue and scene of the inaugural Turkish grand prix in 2005, appears to be for sale.
According to the business news publication 'Globes', Israeli shipping magnate and billionaire Sammy Ofer has ordered a feasibility study into the possible purchase of the newly Hermann Tilke-penned venue.
'Globes' said the track cost Turkish authorities $152m to construct, but has 'lost money on every event held to date', and contended that the circuit's budget reserves 'will soon run out'.
The Turkish government's 'Privatization Administration' is, indeed, expected to formally put the sale to tender in the next days.
Interestingly, Ofer owns ZIM, a shipping company that is sponsoring Midland's formula one team this year.
02/08/06 According to a report in the Greek media, the Israeli-owned Ofer Brothers group of companies is conducting a feasibility study on whether to take on the operations of the Istanbul Park Formula 1 circuit. The track cost more than $150m to construct and has lost money and the Istanbul authorities are keen to get it off their books. The Ofer Brothers are apparently looking at the venue to see if they can find a way of making the venue cost-effective, given that the government is understand to be paying the fees to the Formula One group.
The Ofer Brothers are a big Israeli company, based in London, which has involvements in real estate, property development, banking, shipping, technology and energy. It is worth noting that its Zim shipping company recently announced that it is be a sponsor of MF1 Racing. Grandprix.com
Komatsu to sponsor Grand-Am raceUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Linder Industrial Machinery Company announced today that it will partner with its distributor, Komatsu, to sponsor the 2006 Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The Linder Industrial – Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami to be held Saturday, March 25, will feature the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve. The March 24-26 weekend also includes the IRL IndyCar Series in the Toyota Indy 300, plus the USAC Silver Crown Series and the IRL Indy Pro Series.
"We are thrilled to be part of the Miami races,” says Ken Holz, Vice President of Linder’s South Florida Operations. “The sponsorship is a terrific way for both companies to gain exposure in the racing world and throughout the Miami area. We are particularly pleased that Komatsu is joining us to sponsor the race.”
02/20/06 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Komatsu, the large construction equipment manufacturer, will sponsor the upcoming Grand-Am race at Homestead. Mark C.
Tracy to switch Busch teams for Mexico City Racing officials say Paul Tracy will drive the team's No. 4 Dodge for the March 5 Busch Series race at Hermanos Autodromo Rodriguez in Mexico City. Geico automotive insurer will serve as the entry's primary sponsor. Financial terms of the sponsorship were not reported. Tracy had previously agreed to drive the Mexico City event for Frank Cicci Racing with Jim Kelly. Tracy, who won the 2003 Champ Car title, made his NASCAR debut in the Feb. 18 Hershey's Kissables 300 Busch Series race. He drove Frank Cicci Racing's No. 34 Chevrolet and finished the season-opening race on the lead lap in 24th place. [but actually did much better, racing from 40th to 10th before John Andretti spun him out] NASCAR Scene
Gary Nelson to resign from NASCARUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' now. Gary Nelson is leaving his position as vice president of research and development for NASCAR to form his own company, Nelson and Associates. "This is something I have wanted to do my whole life," Nelson said Tuesday. "I am really excited about it."
Nelson said his new company will consult with NASCAR and other racing operations, primarily on safety issues.
His first client, Nelson said, is NASCAR. Nelson will continue to work on the "car of tomorrow" project that he has been part of at the NASCAR research and development center in Concord. NASCAR plans to phase the "car of tomorrow," which is taller and wider that the current car used in Nextel Cup racing, in over three seasons beginning in 2007.
Nelson said he's wanted to start his own company from as far back as when he was a crew chief in NASCAR's top series. "Then Bill France called me and asked me to be Winston Cup series director," Nelson said. "I figured I get that caught up and then start my own company. But that job turned into the NASCAR safety project, and that turned into the R&D center, and that turned into the 'car of tomorrow.' More at ThatsRacin.com
02/21/06 SPEED reporter Bob Dillner reports that Gary Nelson, NASCAR’s Vice President of Research and Development, will submit his resignation Wednesday. Nelson has been in charge of the development of NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow …
Rahal to drive for Team LebanonUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' per the team announcement.
A reader adds, With all respect to the Rahal family, this is not in the spirit of A1GP!
I am quite sure Graham Rahal has not got a Lebanese passport , nor has he got a competition license issued by the Lebanese ASN! As far as I know you need to be a citizen (i.e. passport holder) of the country you represent. This is one of the main articles of the A1GP seatholders contract!
I feel very sorry for both Basil Shaaban and Khalil Beschir, as they have done a very good job so far and are now being sidelined by a 'so called' Lebanese driver! Its unacceptable ! I think you should mention this in one of your articles about this particular issue !
Especially for Basil Shaaban, who studied at the University of California in Berkeley from 1997 onwards and lived in California for more then 6 years, its very disappointing he can't race at his favorite circuit, Laguna Seca! (www.basilshaaban.com)
I trust to have informed you well and I hope you will be able to write something about this on www.autoracing1.com. Pieter Slinger
02/21/06 More than a few readers are probably baffled by this rumor, being totally unaware that Bobby Rahal is of Lebanese ancestry, so we point this out in case you did not know.
02/20/06 Graham Rahal is to race for Team Lebanon in the A1GP series. The 17-year-old American, son of Bobby Rahal, tested a Formula 3000 car at Misano last week and did well and is expected to be named as the driver for Team Lebanon for the rest of the year. The word from America is that Rahal will be moving into GP2 next year if all goes well this year in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship and it seems has the ambition to become an F1 driver. Bobby Rahal had similar ambitions in the 1970s and raced for the Wolf F1 team in Canada and the United States in 1978 but then went back to America to become one of the leading names in the sport. Rahal returned to Europe in September 2000 to become the chief executive of the Jaguar Racing F1 team but fell victim to Ford politics less than a year later. Grandprix.com
Bank of America and ISC to announce 5-year deal Rumor has it that Bank of America today will announce it has entered a five-year, multi-track sponsorship agreement with Int’l Speedway Corp. (ISC). Beginning this season, BofA will serve as the official bank of ISC’s California Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Phoenix Int’l Raceway and Watkins Glen Int’l. Financial terms of the deal were not released. In addition to signage and display space throughout the four speedways, the agreement also entitles BofA to place ATMs at those tracks.
As early as today, the company could also announce that Dover Int’l Speedway’s MBNA 400 will become the Neighborhood Excellence 400 presented by Bank of America. That race entitlement, which was made possible because of the merger of BofA and MBNA, will give increased awareness to one of the bank’s major corporate philanthropy initiatives.
Cheever to drive in Indy 500UPDATE This rumor is now 'fact' with today's announcement by Cheever Racing. 02/21/06 Eddie Cheever Jr. will return to the cockpit of an IRL car after a three-year absence, sources confirmed Monday night. Cheever, 48, will announce Tuesday that he will compete in at least the first four races of the IRL IndyCar Series season, including the 90th Indianapolis 500, in a car fielded by his Cheever Racing team. SPEEDTV.com [Editor's Note: Another entry for the Indy 500, which is desperate to fill the 33-car field, something that has been an issue since Tony George decided he had a better idea and started the IRL.]
Alesi eyes team boss jobUPDATE It was announced today by Direxiv that Jean Alesi will join the company as Senior Executive Director. See Hot News page. 12/08/05 Former grand prix winner Jean Alesi says he is still involved in planning for a 'b' McLaren team.
Currently in the DTM championship, the 41-year-old Frenchman would reportedly line up as 'sporting director' of the theoretical Mercedes-powered team, that would be backed by Japan's 'Direxiv'.
''I would very much like to be a team boss,'' former Ferrari and Sauber driver Alesi told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport 'paper at the Bologna Motor Show this week.
''It would be an unique experience!'' He warned, however, that the prospective 2007 debut is by no means certain. ''It appeals to me a lot.
''It would be extraordinary!''
So, as boss, who would Jean put at the wheel? Alex Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa are surely front runners, as non-racing McLaren drivers. ''Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen,'' Jean Alesi smiled.
''But seriously, the thing that is missing in formula one is emotion, is passion. Someone like Valentino Rossi should be there -- I really hope he moves to four wheels.'
Dominguez to be sponsored?UPDATE Mario is fully sponsored by INDECK. INDECK enjoys significant corporate and marketing benefits from sponsoring Champ Car entries. It just happens to be owned by Forsythe! Mark C.
02/20/06 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, What happened to the "fully sponsored" part of the Dominguez announcement? Will they announce additional sponsorship later? Mark Shriver Dear Mark, We were told that Mario Dominguez would be sponsored, but today's announcement by Forsythe made no mention of a sponsor. Mario Dominguez claims that the World Cup of soccer in 2006 is attracting most of the Mexican sponsors and there is not much left for racing. Even the Mexican drivers in NASCAR are feeling the effect. With that said, there is still time to make such an announcement, including the upcoming Spring Training media event.
"I think the biggest problem for this year that we faced, and that is a huge problem, is that the soccer World Cup is going to be happening this year. So that takes a lot of the attention and a lot of the money from every company that I know, and they all want to put their money into it.
"It's always the same thing every time there's a World Cup year. So we just have to fight against that and show the sponsors and show the people that we are probably a better investment opportunity for the kind of people they are trying to reach. So that's what we have to keep working on and working hard on it."
It's one excuse or another every year. With Champ Car's horrible TV coverage in Mexico the last couple of years, sponsorship has all but dried up for Mexican drivers. We will watch with interest to see if Dominguez gets sponsorship like we heard. Mark C.
Forsythe driver lineup setUPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement. See Hot News page for full story. 02/18/06 The announcement of Mario Dominguez has been moved up to Monday. 02/17/06 AutoRacing1.com has learned that Forsythe will announce their driver lineup a week from now and expect to see the Dominguez car fully sponsored.
02/04/06 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Mexican star Mario Dominguez will again line up alongside Paul Tracy for Forsythe Racing. According to our Mexican sources there is a good chance some other Mexican drivers could land a Champ Car ride in 2006.
Hearn to stick with just Formula BMW for '06 Hearing that Richie Hearn is now planning to only run a 3 car Formula BMW team in 2006 after expressing a desire to have a Formula Atlantic team too. He has sold off all his Formula Mazda stuff and will prepare to run 2 cars in the Atlantic Championship in 2007. We hear he decided to wait until next year mostly because of the late delivery of the new cars and the uncertainty of the budgets.
Move over DanicaUPDATE #3 An O'Brien Racing team spokesperson told AutoRacing1.com when asked about their rumored Atlantic Series entries, "We are currently partnered with Unico Racing Team USA to run Atlantics and are considering the running two to three additional cars ourselves."
02/17/06 Mexico City-based UNICO Racing plans to expand its operations and contest the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama, and it has signed 17-year-old CR Crews of Dallas, Texas as its first driver. The team will join Tommy O'Brien Racing of Dallas for the effort, running under the banner Unico Racing Team USA. UNICO is new and O'Brien is moving over from IRL-IPS and if you see their website you will see they had plans to just do an IPS and Star Mazda program, but with Mazda now in Atlantics, it appears they prefer to stay aligned with Mazda. They have ordered three Atlantic cars.
We believe only one car will run as UNICO ( with CR Crews). We hear the other 2 cars, with Maryeve and Rob Thurmond, will run as O'Brien, but not sure about this. All three cars would be prepared under one roof.
02/15/06 We spotted Maryeve Dufault at Tuesday evening's Atlantic Series announcement in Los Angeles. Of course sex appeal should not matter, but for those of you who think Danica Patrick is a knockout, expect to be bowled over when you meet this gorgeous voluptuous bombshell, a former Miss Hawaiian Tropic. She was turning many a head in Los Angeles Tuesday night, and if she can drive like Katherine Legge, she'll be an instant sensation. It appears she is now leaning toward the Atlantic Series rather than the IPS.
01/24/06 Move over Danica Patrick, if our sources are to be believed, there's a new sex-symbol about to burst onto the IRL scene and she will turn heads. She is the stunning 23-year old French Canadian Maryeve Dufault, who will drive in the IndyPro Series in 2006 even though she was a backmarker in the Star Mazda Series. Oops, we forgot, no talent required in 100% throttle racing, so she'll be fine. Maybe she'll surprise us, but at least she'll be great to watch.
2006- Indy Racing League Infiniti Pro Series
2005- Star Mazda Championship Series
2004- ESPN Formula Russell Series
2002- Miss Hawaiian Tropic International
As an international model and actress Maryeve draws a crowd wherever she goes. Maryeve will supposedly be competing in the Indy Racing League Infiniti Pro Series in 2006, for O’Brien Racing.
The three year strategy for Maryeve and O’Brien Racing begins in the Infiniti Pro Series in 2006 and continues through 2008 in the Indy Racing League.
Lester couple Cup attempts in 2006? Car owner Bill Davis said his team might have a sponsor in place to give Bill Lester a ride in selected Cup races this season. Lester could make his first career Cup start at Atlanta next month. If so, he would become the first African American to start a Cup race since Willy T. Ribbs started three races in 1986. News-Record
Champ Car to launch major team benefit Sorry to be a bit vague on this rumor but we are sworn to secrecy right now. However, we will whet your appetite with a few clues. Champ Car is going to launch an innovative idea in the coming weeks that is going to have a major impact on their teams ability to land new sponsorship in coming years. It is a genius move in our opinion and another example of how the owners of Champ Car continue to lay the foundation for their future success. Mark C.
No sponsor or crew for Shelmerdine Kirk Shelmerdine was still searching for a sponsor and a pit crew Saturday, one day before the biggest race of his career. "We're shaking the bushes," said Shelmerdine, a former crew chief for Dale Earnhardt and a surprise qualifier for the Daytona 500. Shelmerdine said few big-time sponsors have shown interest. As for a pit crew, he said paying a Busch Series team was an option, but that many of them had tight schedules because they have to travel to California next week and then Mexico. ESPN.com/AP
Mears could get Indy 500 shot Victory in the 48th Daytona 500 on Feb. 19 could get Casey Mears a ride in the 90th Indianapolis 500 on May 28.
Mears, the son of former Indianapolis 500 starter Roger Mears and nephew of four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears, confirmed that he has discussed that possibility with his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series team owner Chip Ganassi, who also owns a high-profile team in the IndyCar Series.
“If I win the Daytona 500, I’m going to run the Indy 500,” Mears said. “If I don’t win the Daytona 500, I can’t see us making a big effort to run the Indy 500 because it will be very difficult to do it with the time change. But that would be well worth it if we win the Daytona 500.
No one will drive Earnhardt’s No. 3 againUPDATE NASCAR team owner Richard Childress said he agrees with Teresa Earnhardt and hopes NASCAR will retire Dale Earnhardt's #3. NASCAR never has retired a number. Dallas Morning News
02/14/06 Teresa Earnhardt doesn't believe anyone -- including her stepson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- will bring the No. 3 the late Dale Earnhardt made famous back to Cup racing. "Contrary to popular belief, everyone cannot be replaced," Teresa Earnhardt said. "Legends live on forever. I don't think the No. 3 will ever be driven by anyone else." The rare public comment from Teresa Earnhardt comes from a one-hour television show, "NASCAR Five Years Later," that will air tonight on Speed Channel.
NASCAR HQ Moving to NC?UPDATE Brian France, CEO of NASCAR, debunked one rumor very quickly this afternoon. France said quite forcefully the rumors suggesting NASCAR would be moving its headquarters to the Charlotte area were unfounded. France did say the sanctioning body was continuing to increase its presence in the Queen City however, the headquarters would stay in Daytona. CircleTrackplus
02/17/06 Might NASCAR be moving its headquarters from Daytona Beach, Fla., to Concord? That's the speculation here, with NASCAR buying more land in the Concord area, where it already has a significant presence, with its research-and-development center. Any such NASCAR move could be related to its plans for a Hall of Fame near Charlotte. Winston Salem Journal
FIA to reinstate 110 percent rule The FIA have decided to bring back the 110-percent rule for Formula One qualifying this year. According to autosport.com, there were concerns expressed that teams might adopt a "go-slow" approach to the final 20-minute qualifying session in an attempt to gain a refueling advantage for the start of the race.
Under the new qualifying system, teams will be allowed to refuel at the end of the final qualifying session. The amount of fuel which is put back into the cars is determined by the number of laps each driver completes. According to autosport.com, teams could get a strategic advantage by burning off less fuel in qualifying than FIA expects.
There was also a safety issue raised with drivers going around the circuit slower and encountering someone else attempting to set a flying lap.
Teams have now reportedly been told by FIA that if a driver sets a lap which is more than 110-percent of his previous fast lap, that lap will not count towards his final tally which is used to calculate final refueling figures.
Jourdain to PKV Racing? According to this article, Mexican Michel Jourdain Jr. is in negotiations with PKV Racing for the 2006 season. However, he needs to get out of his contract with ppc Racing in the NASCAR Busch series and is required to bring some sponsorship money. Not a complete sponsorship program but some.
Champ Car owners happy with new car We are hearing that the Champ Car team owners visit to the Panoz factory near Atlanta this week went over very well. The new car is already making 5200 pounds of downforce in the wind tunnel and 5500 pounds of total downforce, most of it from the underbody, is the goal. We hear the team owners can all afford the new car because the car is much less expensive to maintain than the current Lola. Teams will save $500K per year in crash damage parts and $50K per year with the new carbon brakes.....among other savings. That coupled with the attractive financing make the new car very attractive.
New 2006 Champ Car team looking for sponsors If you are looking for a top marketing program this new team may be what you are looking for. Top world famous engineer, world famous team manager. All principals very much sought after. Several marketing partners in place. In order to receive information, you must sign a confidentiality agreement. IEG Sponsorship forum, posted 1/17/06 at 7:36 AM
Editor's Note: We heard there is a team from Europe coming, but we're not sure this is it.
Winnipeg eyes Champ Car race AutoRacing1.com has learned today that the City of Winnipeg in Canada wants to host a Champ Car. As we understand it they inquired about whether they can get the Montreal date. As of now Montreal has the date, but their contract is up at the end of this year and it is not known whether it will be renewed or not. We suspect Champ Car will attempt to negotiate a renewal with Montreal before switching to Winnipeg.
New Atlantic car to be slowerUPDATE #2 We are downgrading this rumor to 'false' as we now have some more accurate data. The old car had 240 HP, not 275 and weighed 1290 pounds with driver and 25 pounds of ballast, vs. 1400 pounds for the new car with driver and ballast. The new car has 300 HP so the power to weight ratio of the new car is actually better than the old car.
In addition, whereas the old car generated 1750 pounds of downforce, the new car generates 2350 pounds. We learned today that already the new car was lapping Firebird 3/4 sec. per lap faster than the old car.
02/16/06 The previous car weighed 1,265 pounds (with 275 HP) with the driver, vs. 1,400 pounds (with 300 HP) with driver now. The HP/Weight ratio was 0.217 but has now dropped to 0.214 with the new car. It will be interesting to see the performance numbers of the new car vs. old in race qualifying conditions. In our opinion, the new car needs about 50 more HP. Time for Cosworth to work its turbo magic, because that's about the only way to get 50 more HP from the normally aspirated engine given the piston speeds are already right up there with an F1 car. 02/16/06 As nice as the new Champ Car Atlantic car is, expect it to be slower than the car it replaces. The new car is bigger, but in an effort to reduce cost, it is also very heavy. The new car with driver weighs 1400 pounds with a 165 pound driver and 25 pounds of ballast. That is not much lighter than the new 165 pound lighter 2007 Champ Car. With just 300 HP vs. 800 HP for the Champ Car, expect lap times to be slow.
To reduce cost things like the sidepods are fiberglass instead of carbon fiber. The rear wing end plates are wood with carbon fiber lamination instead of all carbon fiber. Add in the bigger car and this all adds up to a heavy car. While it is not bad to get a driver used to a heavier car before reaching Champ Car, it's clear the series needs to bump up HP in future years to something around 350 or 400. Might a turbocharger be in this car's future?
NASCAR to implement New Bumper for Talladega NASCAR is working on a new front bumper for its race cars it hopes will be ready by the April race at Talladega. The bumper would be softer and deprive the drivers of the ability to bump or slam draft without harming the bumper and the car's aerodynamics. Florida Today
Shelmerdine to sell Daytona 500 ride? Kirk Shelmerdine in his sixth long-shot try made the field for the Daytona 500. Shelmerdine, 47, was NASCAR's top crew chief in the 1980s and early 1990s, winning four championships with Dale Earnhardt. He abruptly left the Richard Childress team after 1992, went into semi-seclusion, and began pursuing a somewhat quixotic career as driver. This week, Shelmerdine's #27 entry amounted to a last chance. "If we didn't make it, I didn't know what I was going to do next week," he said after the heats. I was going to have to sell a bunch of stuff. I'd have had to sell the car and a lot of my old Ford stuff from last year." Basically put him out of business? "Yep," Kirk said. "But I didn't have much to lose." However it falls right now, Shelmerdine seems to have a lot to gain. Last place in the 500 pays about $275,000, and the bundle could go much higher if, say, Valvoline, which was shut out of the race when Scott Riggs failed to meet criteria, decides to buy Shelmerdine out [Jayski NOTE: Riggs runs a Dodge, Shelmerdine is a Chevy, have to use the same car]. Shelmerdine smiled his cat smile. "My lawyer's here, they can come talk to her," he said. "I don't know what we're going to do. The plan was to get through today in good shape. Now it's time for a new plan." Speed Channel
AND Thursday night, as Shelmerdine continued a massive effort to control his emotions, that #27 Chevrolet looked like a Rolls Royce. Beginning today, it might as well be. A few decent sponsors, and at least one prominent one (Valvoline, which bankrolls Scott Riggs' #10 car), might be ready to deal for a little logo placement in Sunday's big show. "The quarterpanels are open," said Shelmerdine, who smiled broadly and added, "the price has gone up." Daytona Beach News Journal
Mansell eyes own team Speaking at a press conference to announce that his former F3 sponsor Unipart would add its name to the efforts of his sons Greg and Leo in FBMW this season, Nigel Mansell hinted at possibly starting his own race team as the boys progress.
"The F3 test was to give them a taste of power so that, when they step back into the FBMW, they'll have more time to control the car and to drive it," Mansell told journalists, "For me, personally, I wanted to see what they could do, as I had a few things that I needed to make my mind up about - and they made my mind up."
"It's exciting, I have to say," he admitted, "Having let them do karting and seen how they were straight out of the box, with no experience at all, but with just a tremendous amount of raw talent, they have developed really quickly. I have to say that, now, they are far better race car drivers than they were kart drivers, because they stepped into an F3 car for two days and were far quicker straight off than I thought they would be - and they're not daunted at all.
What is the GPMA up to? The Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association is saying nothing about the latest ideas which have put into the public domain by FIA President Max Mosley. What is perhaps more interesting is the fact that none of the team principals involved have made any public statements about the proposals, particularly the idea that entries for the 2008 season will open and close within the next three months.
The unusual silence in all these matters suggests that there are other things more important being discussed at the moment and we hear that the silence may be because the manufacturers are close to a commercial deal with CVC Capital Partners, the new owners of the Formula One group, the commercial rights holder of Formula 1. If such a deal were to go through it would leave the FIA in a very uncomfortable position as it could then appear to be the only thing standing in the way of long-term stability for the sport. Grandprix.com
Super Aguri to sport all-Japanese lineupUPDATE #7 With yesterday's announcement, this rumor, which we already had as 'fact' back on January 27th, is no longer rumor, but news. 01/27/06 Takuma Sato has not yet signed a contract to race for the newly-confirmed 'Super Aguri' Japanese formula one team.
But team chief Aguri Suzuki's long time business partner, Fumito Akita, said from Tokyo that 'final negotiations' were now on.
And he admitted to 'CBS SportsLine': ''Sato will probably drive in the team's number one car.''
Regarding the other seat, Akita said the Leafield (UK) based team, which will be administered from Japan, was negotiating with Japanese, European and North American drivers, but AutoRacing1.com knows that the 2nd driver will also be Japanese.
01/18/06 We can now confirm from various sources that Super Aguri will definitely carry an all-Japanese lineup. We await the official announcement.
01/16/06 According to reports in Autosport, Japanese driver Yuji Ide will travel to the Leafield headquarters of Formula one’s new eleventh team, Super Aguri Racing, where he will undergo further discussions with team bosses later today followed by a seat fitting tomorrow.
01/03/06 According to this week’s Autosport magazine, Yamamoto is now the favorite – although the team is also wary of opting for rookie drivers in its first season. Super Aguri MD Daniel Audetto is quoted as saying: “One of the attractions is that Yamamoto would allow us to secure commercial agreements with Japanese backers for the year, but we have to balance that against our need for a driver with some experience. “We can’t afford to lose many cars through accidents.”
Yamamoto has driven a Formula 1 car before, having tested a Jordan last year and then impressing in a one-off outing as the team’s third driver at his home grand prix at Suzuka.
The most qualified candidate for the second seat is long-time BAR-Honda test driver Anthony Davidson, and Audetto hinted that the Briton may be drafted in to Super Aguri mid-season, when the team plans to introduce its own chassis to replace the revamped Arrows A23 with which it will start the year.
“At the start of the year it is not likely we will be fully competitive and it is better for Anthony to carry on with his role developing the Honda F1 car,” said Audetto. “But that may change when we have our new chassis.”
12/26/05 Formula Nippon driver Yuji Ide (right), 30, has launched into contention for the second Aguri race seat. He is understood to carry the backing of a major Japanese sponsor - Mobilecast, to the tune of $14 million per year. Sakon Yamamoto and Kosuke Matsuura are also linked with the ride, while Takuma Sato is now believed to have already signed a contract.
12/24/05 Super Aguri F1 will run Takuma Sato in 2006. The news has not yet been confirmed but Sato is one of the reasons that the team exists and it would be amazing if he did not drive. The big question therefore is who will drive the second car and while there is the normal talk of Anthony Davidson and other BAR contracted drivers, it is much more likely given the funding that the team will run two Japanese drivers and that the second man will be Aguri Suzuki's longtime protégé Kosuke Matsuura. Some say that he has not raced on road courses for a couple of years, which is true, but prior to that he did all his racing on road circuits and presumably has not forgotten how to do it. Grandprix.com
12/20/05 In another Aguri-related rumor, Japan's Sakon Yamamoto (pictured right) - who tested for Jordan in 2005 - is being linked with the fledgling team's second seat. Countryman Takuma Sato is almost guaranteed the first contract for 2006, while another Japanese - and Super Aguri's 2005 IRL driver - Kosuke Matsuura, is also a distinct possibility. If true, this leaves Anthony Davidson up a river without a paddle.
F1 mulls 2-tier systemUPDATE Durango GP2 team co-owner Ivone Pinton says Max Mosley's idea of a promotion-relegation system for Formula One is "completely unworkable".
"Today you can spend up to four million euros for one season ," Pinton told Gazzetta dello Sport. "To move to 100 millions to race in F1, assuming you won the GP2 championship, would be like a jump into the void.
"Who can find, between the end of October and January, 100 million euros, and transform the structure into a company with at least 70 employees, with the addition of a wind tunnel?
"I would do it if I had the guarantee - which no one will give me - of a free supply of engines, plus a contribution from the FIA or Ecclestone of 20-25 million euros. Otherwise I wouldn't take that risk. Mosley's proposal is curious, but completely unworkable."
02/14/06 Motorsport chief Max Mosley has said that promotion and relegation are likely to be introduced to Formula One in two years time. Mosley is keen to bring financial stability and reduced costs into the sport - and then add some new interest and a better structure.
"It is one of the new things we are looking at and it would be nice because it is necessary," said Mosley.
"Promotion, and relegation, would add a huge amount of new interest."
Mosley's plan would see Formula One relegating its bottom team, or two, to a 'second division' competition created out of the current GP2 series, which would, in turn, supply replacement promoted teams.
"It is natural and it would be very stimulating for everyone," said Mosley, who is president of the sport's governing body, the FIA. BBC Sport
Manufacturer to ditch breakaway series (GMMf1NET) Another 'manufacturer' is on the cusp of joining Bernie Ecclestone's growing band of 2008 'Concorde' agreement signatories.
That's the information straight out of the mouth of FIA president Max Mosley, sparking fresh speculation that Renault, Honda or Toyota could be about to follow Ferrari's lead in breaking GPMA ranks.
It would be a killer blow to the carmakers' alliance, which could ultimately be left with only McLaren-Mercedes and BMW Sauber - both German manufacturers - to fill a 'breakaway' grid.
Scoffing at their apparent plans, Mosley was quoted by the 'Sport Bild' publication as saying three more private teams 'and a manufacturer' are currently making enquires about siding with the Bernie/FIA camp.
With six teams already poised to sign Concorde, if Mosley's additional four follow suit it would give the FIA F1 world championship a credible grid of twenty cars for 2008.
'Sport Bild' contends that David Richards' Prodrive, Roger Penske and Craig Pollock could be the private entries alluded to by Mosley, while cost-minded Renault - with FIA-supporter Flavio Briatore at the helm - is the most likely carmaker.
But F1's Japanese contingent, Toyota and Honda, are also uncomfortable about the current paddock dispute.
Italy's 'La Gazzetta dello Sport' quoted Mosley as saying that Bernie has already signed up the 'most important team' -- Ferrari.
''We also have Williams,'' he told the newspaper, ''(which is) a very prestigious and successful team.'
NASCAR to outsource Timing and Scoring NASCAR will likely use an outside vendor for its timing and scoring in 2007. Swiss watchmaker Tissot entered into a partnership as NASCAR's "official timekeeper" to develop a new timing system that could be implemented in 2007. "We'll test some of their products," NASCAR vice president of corporate marketing Steve Phelps said. "If that works out well, and we think they can improve the timing of NASCAR, they will be our timing and scoring partner starting in 2007." Tissot is currently the official timekeeper of the MotoGP World Championship. And Omega, a corporate cousin to Tissot, does timing for the Olympics. Currently, NASCAR uses software from a Dutch company, AMB i.t., to time qualifying and races. NASCAR Scene
Knaus to be suspended longer Although NASCAR will wait until next week to decide on its final penalties for Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the #48 Lowe's Hendrick Motorsports team, Johnson hinted Thursday that he expects Knaus to be missing from the team for the next few races. Knaus was ejected from Daytona 500 Sunday after NASCAR inspectors discovered he had altered a rear jack bolt to move the rear window on the #48 in an attempt to improve aerodynamics. After busting Knaus, NASCAR sent him back to North Carolina for the remainder of Speedweeks and said that it may levy additional penalties to the team next week. Johnson met with press for about 10 minutes prior to Wednesday’s first Daytona 500 practice sessions. Twice he hinted that Knaus’s suspension would extend beyond Daytona. Referring to Darian Grubb, the team’s lead engineer and fill-in for Knaus at the Daytona 500, Johnson said, “Darian Grubb’s … been our engineer for the race team, he’s been on the (pit) box. He was going to be on the box next to Chad through this year, but now he’s going to be solo on the box for the first few races.” Later, Johnson added of Knaus, “Unfortunately, he stepped over the line. It’s something that he admits, and feels terrible about. He’s at home going crazy over this … He’ll be back after just a couple of weeks at home.” Speed Channel
NASCAR ticket sales soft in Mexico There are still tickets available for every section of the Hermanos Rodriguez track for the upcoming NASCAR Busch Series race in early March. Because of this organizers are now discounting all tickets 30%. And not only that, if you use a credit card to buy your tickets they will split the cost in three different payments and charge you in 3 different months. What about the fans that bought their tickets before this discount? Will this not be a sold-out event in NASCAR's second year in Mexico City?
In an effort to boost sales, race organizers are having Jorge Goeters, last year's race pole sitter, drive his car in one of the busiest avenues of the city. This Sunday at 12:00 PM CST Goeters will drive from the National Auditorium to the Angel of Independence statue and then back to the National Auditorium. Jose Arrambide
Will Star Mazda move under Champ Car wings? A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, With Mazda announcing that they will be supplying engines and sponsoring the Champ Car Atlantic series, wouldn't it make sense to move the Star Mazda Series under the Champ Car ladder such that there would be a step below Atlantics for drivers coming out of karting? Jeff Perkins, Philadelphia, PA
Dear Jeff, While certainly there is some merit to that proposal, it may benefit Mazda to keep the Star Mazda Series under ALMS if for no other reason than to give the Mazda brand expose in more markets. With that said, let's see what happens. Mark C.
Laguna Seca A1GP race in doubtUPDATE #4 A1 Grand Prix organizers have restricted teams to only one “spec” Lola chassis in order to cope with a shortage of spare parts, but the move has not quelled rumors that the new series faces cash-flow problems.
The rumors began when a South African court ordered all 50 A1 GP chassis temporarily impounded at Durban Airport after the Jan. 29 race. The order came as a consequence of unpaid insurance premiums. An A1 GP statement, issued when the teams arrived in Indonesia for the Feb. 12 race at Sentul (see Scoreboard), outlined the process by which teams will decommission their second chassis but said nothing about the series’ financial situation. AutoWeek
02/08/06 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca still maintains that the A1GP race will come off as scheduled. We hear from another source that A1GP officials, who are renting the track, have reserved a large number of grandstand tickets, for free giveaways no doubt. There is no appeal for A1GP in the USA so to think Americans would buy a lot of tickets themselves for this event is pure folly. Sheikh Maktoum and his business partners have deep pockets and are throwing a lot of money at the series this first year in the hope of success in future years. However, once you give away free tickets in a market, that market is dead for any 'real' future ticket sales.
02/08/06 This rumor is being upgraded back to 'speculation' as we have received word that there is a chance the A1GP race at Laguna Seca may indeed be cancelled, possibly soon. We never could figure out how they expected to sell any tickets to this event when fans won't even support Champ Car and ALMS at this track.
01/01/06 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' with the announcement of the race by Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, though it still remains to be seen whether the race comes off as planned. When in doubt, follow the money......
12/28/05 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca website now lists the March 10-12 A1 Grand Prix race as "To be Confirmed" and the event has been moved to their track rental page. With the series bleeding cash profusely, and with no payment for this event from the track (i.e. it's a rental deal) the series will have to rely on ticket sales to pay for the millions of dollars it takes to fly the cars and teams over to the USA. Ticket receipts will be negligible so unless Sheikh Maktoum or his South African investors are willing to lose more money, we suspect this event, like the one they originally announced in San Antonio, Texas, will be a non-starter.
Super Aguri signs new Concorde Agreement According to rumors out of Europe, the new Super Aguri team has signed the new Concorde Agreement with Bernie Ecclestone......which is another nail in the GPMA coffin.
Newman team closing in on two driversUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' tonight as Joe D'Agostino was announced as one of Newman Wachs' drivers. He brings no money but won the ride based on his impressive test.
02/14/06 Word here in Los Angeles is that America's Joe D’Agostino and New Zealand's Daniel Grant are close to landing the two Newman Wachs Atlantic seats. Paul Newman gets it, we need more Americans in Champ Car.
02/12/06 According to this Champ Car article, Eight drivers. Three days. Two seats. One tough decision.
Those were the vital numbers from last week's shootout in Florida to determine the lineup for the newly-formed Champ Car Atlantic team of Paul Newman and Eddie Wachs.
"It was good and it was interesting but it's really going to be hard to pick just two because three of them were so equal," said Wachs, who spent last Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday with Newman judging talent at Morosso Park outside of West Palm Beach.
"We've got a Frenchman, an American and a New Zealander and you could throw a blanket over them so Paul and I are going to have to have our own shootout on the phone to decide.
"Or maybe we'll just run all three of them."
Whether it's France's Simon Pagenaud, America's Joe D’Agostino or New Zealand's Daniel Grant (or all three), the announcement will be made this Tuesday in Los Angeles when Champ Car unveils the new Atlantic chassis.
But, since the revamped Atlantic series figures to be the deepest and most competitive since the '70s, Wachs and Newman opted for a shootout instead of a buyout.
Champ Car headed to Asia We have it on good word that Champ Car President Steve Johnson and others will soon be headed to South Korea and Beijing to 1) make sure everything is on target for Ansan this year, 2) continue discussions with the Beijing officials. We hear that Zhuhai may now be the preferred location to hold the Champ Car race until the Olympic site is ready. Mark C.
Are A1GP tickets selling well in Mexico? The Monterrey, Mexico A1GP organizers have announced that tickets are selling so well they are going to build an extra grandstand at the end of the main straight so they can sell 5,000 more tickets. They built less grandstands for this race than the Champ Car race, but still this is a good sign.
If they are putting more seats on the track we're fairly certain they are expecting a sold-out event, but what confuses us is that today an AutoRacing1.com source purchased a couple of tickets for the race. With their race tickets they also received a couple of tickets for the main concert on Saturday night. The concert is going to be at the Arena. Monterrey organizers said that they would give away the tickets to the first 15,000 customers that bought a sitting ticket (no freebies to the buyers of general admission tickets). If this informant got tickets today for the concert then it means they haven’t sold 15,000 tickets yet.
In other ticket news, Milenio, which is the second largest newspaper in Monterrey after El Norte, has announced that they will give 2 seats (tickets) to everyone who subscribes to their newspaper for at least 6 months. Jose Arrambide
Atlantic teams approach Roshfrans We are hearing that a few Atlantic teams have contacted Mexican company Roshfrans to use their lubricant for the 2006 series. The companies are not asking to get the oil for free but are willing to pay for it. Roshfrans is the official lubricant of Champ Car, and every Champ Car team used Roshfrans oil last year as part of the sponsorship of the series. It seems that Roshfrans is an example that sponsorship in the motorsports world could be beneficial. Jose Arrambide
Martinez close to landing Atlantics ride Someone who is well connected told AutoRacing1.com that Mexican David Martinez is about to finalize a deal with a Mexican company to get sponsorship for the whole season of Atlantics with US RaceTronics. Part of the deal is that his uncle "Capi" Martinez will be the engineer for his car (Martinez comes from a family of drivers, his uncle, his dad, and his late brother were all drivers). We hope for the series sake this rumor turns into fact helping Atlantics and Champ Car get more Mexican sponsorship. Jose Arrambide
Standing starts for Atlantic carsUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' based on today's announcement. 02/04/06 Rumor has it that about 1/2 of this year's Champ Car Atlantic races will be a standing start. We hear that the season opener in Long Beach will be a rolling start because of the track configuration, meaning the start straight might not be wide enough. Where there is room they will doing a standing start we are told.
Legge to move up to Champ Car in ’06UPDATE #5 We are upgrading this rumor to 'fact' as we have confirmed that Legge will be announced tonight. We will have a story after the announcement. 02/13/06 In a rumor first broke by AutoRacing1.com on January 6th below, look for Katherine Legge to be announced as a PKV Champ Car driver in Los Angeles tomorrow night. Robin Miller heard about this today and writes a similar story on SPEEDTV.com. How did AutoRacing1.com know about it way back on January 6th? Let's just say our sources run deep and wide.
Of course we also heard at that time that Oriol Servia would drive alongside her at PKV, but more recently we heard Franck Montagny was high on Jim McGee's list, with Servia possibly going to HVM. Mark C.
01/13/06 PKV Racing officials have refused to confirm mounting speculation that British racer Katherine Legge has signed to race for their Champ Car squad in 2006. The team emphasized to autosport.com that all the drivers that they have been testing in the off-season are targeting two seats with the team and an announcement of their line-up won't be made until February 14. Autosport.com [Editor's Note: We shall see if our sources are correct on this one - Servia and Legge to PKV. Legge is definite, Newman/Haas could still take Servia.]
01/12/06 Speculation is rampant at the Autosport Show going on in the UK this week that Katherine Legge will move up to Champ Car in 2006. Of course AutoRacing1.com readers knew about this rumor last week, so it should come as no surprise to you if it happens.....but for now, officially, it's just a rumor......
01/09/06 Champ Car has to do something to a) attract attention to itself this season and, b) counter Danicamania, which does not appear to be going away. Just this week, Patrick was named Female Athlete of the Year after dominating a worldwide Internet election by usatoday.com.
While Paul Tracy is back for another year in Champ Car, it is obvious he would rather be someplace else and there are now more stories floating around about Tracy and NASCAR than about Tracy and Champ Car. Ditto Sébastien Bourdais, who is back for another season of marking time. He will either go back to Europe next year or else he could go to NASCAR too.
Justin Wilson, Bruno Junqueira, A.J. Allmendinger and Oriol Servia are good drivers and nice guys but just don't have the ol' charisma when compared to Tracy and Bourdais.
So Legge will likely become the fresh face of Champ Car, simply because they don't have anybody else. And the media focus on her battle with Patrick to be the first to win a race will be nothing less than positive publicity for both series.
Postscript: If Vasser and Kalkhoven opt for Briscoe, Dalziel or Pantano over Legge, they're crazy. She can sell the series; any one of the other three would just join a long list of pay-to-race drivers who are perhaps capable but, in the end, obscure and eminently forgettable.
The other reason she should advance is that Legge was a star in Atlantics last year, in part because the fields were small and the talent did not run particularly deep. If it's true that there will be upwards of 30 cars in Atlantics this season, and the talent level improves accordingly, she could be swept away. Not likely, but it is a possibility.
Her time is now. A move up would be a win-win for both her and Champ Car. More at Toronto Star [Editor's Note: And as we rumored, we expect this to happen.]
01/06/06 Atlantic sensation Katherine Legge looks set to drive a Champ Car for PKV Racing in 2006 according to AutoRacing1.com sources. We had been embargoed from making that statement, but another driver who is planning on a move to Champ Car in 2006, Dan Clarke, let the cat out of the bag in an interview today, "I've also heard that my old karting rival Katherine Legge will be taking part in the Championship. I have great respect for what Katherine has done in the USA - she has definitely got the full attention of the boys! I'm sure she'll be one of the drivers to beat."
As for the other driver at PKV, it will be.......sorry, that news is embargoed too, but let's just say that PKV is most likely looking at a whole new Champ Car driver lineup in 2006.
Champ Car owners to meet AutoRacing1.com has learned that all the Champ Car team owners will meet in Atlanta, Georgia this Wednesday and Thursday. Rumored to be on the agenda is a visit to the Panoz factory and a glimpse at the design and fabrication of the prototype for the next generation Champ Car. Also on the agenda is a discussion on what drivers will be on which team and how the 18-car grid will look this year. March will soon be upon us and most teams and their drivers have yet to turn a single lap of testing since the final race in Mexico City.
Champ Car also has a series of announcement slated for March and early April, as do the teams, and those announcements must be orchestrated and coordinated as the series builds up to its season opener in Long Beach in April. Newman/Haas and RuSPORT appear to have their drivers and sponsors lined up. Teams that have yet to complete their driver and sponsor lineup include: - Dale Coyne Racing - Team has been dead silent - Eurointernational - Team owner Antonio Ferrari recovering from surgery, no word if they will answer the bell after saying they would. - Forsythe Championship Racing - Assumed to be Paul Tracy and Mario Dominguez - HVM Racing - Has Cedric The Entertainer helped them land a sponsor? - Mi-Jack Conquest Racing - Will it be Andrew Ranger and Nelson Philippe again? - PKV Racing - Who will be teammate to rookie Katherine Legge? - Rocketsports Racing - Team tested a couple of drivers, but there have been a lot of layoffs. - Walker Racing/Team Australia - rumors have Will Power and Alex Tagliani as teammates, with Ryan Briscoe also in the running.
Kimi to Ferrari unlikely According to F1 commercial rights boss, Bernie Ecclestone, Kimi Raikkonen’s team choice for the 2007 season rests largely on the decision of Ferrari’s number one, Michael Schumacher.
Fernando Alonso will leave Renault at the end of the year and join rivals McLaren for the 2007 season, with one of Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya having to make way. Ecclestone believes the only way Raikkonen would leave McLaren for Ferrari is as Michael Schumacher’s replacement and he is not sure that the seven-time Champion is ready to leave just yet.
"It all depends on what Schumacher will do. If he quits F1, what I don't think he will, Raikkonen will join Ferrari. But if Schumacher stays Raikkonen should stay at McLaren and become a super-couple with Alonso.”
“Or perhaps Kimi can join Renault to fight for the title there."
Ecclestone also took a stab at predicting the outcome of the 2006 season, saying he believes Michael Schumacher could end up on top again.
"Ferrari will have a great year I think. Testing is going well for them. I wouldn't be surprised if Schumacher would clinch the title again. He might be getting old but he is still very fast. McLaren and Renault are also doing very well." PlanetF1
Marshall back to Champ CarUPDATE The current issue of Australasian Motorsport News reports that Marcus Marshall has signed with Paul Cruickshank Racing V8 Supercars team for 2006, so unless his contract has an out clause, he won't be racing in Champ Car in 2006.
02/05/06 Our sources in Australia tell us that Marcus Marshall, who was let go by Team Australia late in the 2005 season, may return to the Champ Car World Series in 2006, possibly with Dale Coyne Racing. While he could possibly drive in V8 Supercars, we hear his family has business interests in the USA and they may want him racing stateside instead.
The Marcus family are major commercial and residential property developers in Australia and we hear they want to expand that business to the USA. Their business website is www.nolimit.com.au. With Rocketsports looking for drivers and team owner Paul Gentilozzi in the commercial real estate business, this would seem to be a potential good partnership, but what do we know? Add in Michael McDowell's sponsor, Commercial Defeasance, and you might have a match made in heaven - i.e. Michael McDowell and Marcus Marshall as teammates at Rocketsports in 2006. Pure speculation on our part because we were told Marshall was talking to Coyne and of course McDowell is driving in Grand-Am as far as we know.
Jourdain to switch to TV Commentator Will Michel Jourdain Jr. find other work while he tries to find sponsorship to race in NASCAR or possibly Champ Car? It seems like it. Mexican TV broadcaster Televisa is airing commercials for their different sports programs and in one of the ads they mention Jourdain will be their expert motorsports analyst.
What about Red Bull? A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I saw the rumor you had that Red Bull was not going to sponsor a car in Champ Car. I am really disappointed; what about Atlantics? Rex Reed, Houston,Tx.
Dear Rex, Our source said they were not going to sponsor a car in Champ Car. We never said anything about Atlantics not having some Red Bull sponsorship. In fact we heard way back in Denver last year that they would probably sponsor the Atlantic Series. I guess we'll find out Tuesday night. This would of course be a major shot in the arm for the series, but if not Red Bull, you will see other significant announcements. Mark C.
Breakaway teams could be locked out of sport Teams threatening to break away from Formula One risk losing their place on the grid if they do not take advantage of a 10-day window of opportunity next month to commit to the sport. Max Mosley, president of the sport's world governing body (FIA), told reporters he hoped the five 'rebel' manufacturers would announce they will stay with Formula One after the sport's Concorde Agreement runs out at the end of 2007.
However, he warned Renault, Honda, Toyota, McLaren-Mercedes and BMW-Sauber they would not be guaranteed one of the 12 team slots if they failed to sign up in time.
"From 2008, nobody has either a right or an obligation to enter the championship," Mosley told reporters.
Six teams - Ferrari, Williams, Midland F1, Red Bull, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Super Aguri - have committed to F1 post-2007. Others have said they are prepared to join Formula One if costs are slashed.
"We are going to stick to 12 teams because of safety and all the pits now are arranged for 12," Mosley said.
"There are six in there, there are three possibly four people talking about entering and there are five GPMA (Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association) teams.
"It makes sense to open entries soon and then to close them again quickly. Then we can discuss with the people that have entered refinements to the regulations before the deadline of the end of June."
Ford outsold Chevy? Ford fans stand proud: Chevrolet might not be America's best-selling brand after all. Ford Motor Co. began calling the results of the 2005 brand contest -- which has had Chevy claiming victory -- into question Sunday after registration data from R.L. Polk & Co., a Southfield-based auto research firm, shows more Fords than Chevys were registered last year.
In 1998, a similar dispute between Lincoln, which is owned by Ford, and Cadillac, which is owned by General Motors Corp., ended with an apology.
At the time, GM executives sent Ford a letter saying the company was sorry for fabricating its sales numbers in its zeal to take the crown as the top luxury maker in the United States.
Ford executives came short of accusing GM of fudging its numbers this time around, saying only that it intended to investigate the matter.
Al Giombetti, president of Ford, Lincoln Mercury marketing and sales, declined to elaborate on the discrepancy.
GM spokeswoman Deborah Silverman said the automaker stands by its sales results. "We're confident Chevy was the sales leader for 2005," she said. More at Detroit Free Press
Prilosec to sponsor Daytona polesitter Burton Procter & Gamble’s Prilosec OTC heartburn relief medication today is expected to announce that they have become a promotional partner with NASCAR and an associate sponsor of Richard Childress Racing’s No. 31 Chevrolet driven by Jeff Burton. SportsBusiness Journal
NASCAR may implement anti-bump drafting rule The Budweiser Shootout race was a typical restrictor-plate free-for-all from the outset, with plenty of banging and bump-drafting going on throughout the 21-car field, leading to the event’s first yellow flag on lap 14 when Brian Vickers tapped Ryan Newman, setting off a six-car wreck that collected Kasey Kahne and Scott Riggs.
The beating and banging continued to take its toll.
Two-time Shootout winner and defending Daytona 500 Champion Jeff Gordon was forced to drop out after damaging the oil cooler on his no. 24 DuPont Chevy running into the back of Matt Kenseth on lap 23 – the result of contact between Mark Martin and Kyle Busch which sent the whole field scrambling to check up.
The aggressive pace led to some harsh criticism from several drivers after the race.
"We're gonna kill somebody," Stewart said. "Somebody else is gonna die at Daytona or Talladega with what we're doing right here. I hope I'm not around when it happens."
“It got real hairy there at times,” said Earnhardt. “Tony turned me sideways off of (turn) two. He’s lifting, but he can’t help it because the guy behind him is pushing him. It’s a dangerous situation. We probably crashed 15 or 20 times tonight, but the 500 won’t be like that. We’ll be a lot more patient. But this is the Shootout. That’s the way it’s going to be.”
Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice-president for corporate communications, said that although it would be too much of a knee-jerk reaction for the governing body to change the cars by next week, the problem will be looked into for the next restrictor plate race at Talladega.
"The drivers have to control bump-drafting but it has become a problem," Hunter said. "We know there is a problem and any solution that we have looked at before today, I don't know if it would make the cars less safe rather than more safe.
"Tony can be emotional at times, but when Tony speaks we are certainly going to listen to him. But he was very rational in his thoughts tonight but we will certainly do everything we can.
"We will continue to have discussions with Tony and others to try and find a better solution that will penalize for bump drafting especially at a place like Daytona or Talladega. We'll continue to have discussions with him.
"We have to make sure that whatever we do to the cars is scientific. We will ratchet up the research but I don't think that will happen before the Daytona 500."
Rossi clears path to F1 switch?UPDATE #2 (GMMf1NET) Multiple MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi is on the verge of deciding to switch full time to F1 in 2007.
After the flamboyant Italian tested at the Valencia group test recently, the 'Motorcycle News' publication quoted a friend of Rossi's as saying that the 26-year-old is 'very close' to saying yes to Ferrari.
But just as the seriousness of his F1 foray escalates, Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper said that Rossi's switch very much depends on what Michael Schumacher decides to do.
The press report said Maranello based Ferrari, undoubtedly interested in also signing Kimi Raikkonen, would not 'risk' taking on two entirely new drivers next year, if Schumacher finally retires.
La Gazzetta's article is the latest in a wave of new headlines speculating about Rossi's future, with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone - for one - musing that it might be difficult for the rider to abandon his lucrative status on two wheels.
World champion Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, told the Spanish 'Sociedad Espanola de Radiodifusion' that he doesn't think Rossi is capable of winning in F1.
''He did do quite well (at Valencia),'' said the 24-year-old, ''but we don't know exactly what setting his (Ferrari V10) engine had.''
02/10/06 Valentino Rossi is seriously considering a switch from MotoGP to Formula 1 in 2007 following his impressive test with Ferrari at Spain’s Valencia circuit last week.
Motorcycle News cites a “close personal friend” of Rossi saying the Italian surprised himself with how competitive he was against F1’s established stars – leaving him with a genuine dilemma over where his future lies. The friend claimed Rossi is now “very close” to moving to F1 and that Ferrari has redoubled its efforts to lure him to Maranello.
Rossi’s performance at Valencia suggested he has the potential to emulate Britain’s John Surtees and make a successful transition from two wheels to four. His best lap time at the twisty Spanish circuit of 1m12.3s, set in a Ferrari F2004 with 2004 downforce levels, compares with Michael Schumacher’s benchmark of 1m10.2s in a similar car last year.
However, Rossi was using a restricted V10 engine developing 200bhp less than the car used by Schumacher, thought to account for a time loss of about 1.5s. Taking the different engine specifications into account, Rossi was only around 0.7s slower than the seven-times world champion on his fourth outing in an F1 car.
“For the first time I didn’t feel like a visitor, I felt like a member of the team,” Rossi is quoted as saying by MCN.
“I learned a lot in the three days and we have to keep working in this way.” ITV.com/F1
12/29/05 Valentino Rossi's Yamaha team in MotoGP has split with long time cigarette sponsor Gauloises.
Some observers think the Italian rider just doesn't want to power tobacco logos around the motorcycle tracks of the world. But he has proved happy to test the heavily Marlboro-sponsored Ferrari formula one car.
So, other observers are making the link between Altadis' blue-clad cigarette brand and that of rival Altria's Marlboro.
It is likely that 26-year-old Rossi will spearhead his Yamaha duties next year with a comprehensive Ferrari test program -- and therein, perhaps, laid the troublesome tobacco clash.
It was even reported in August this year that Altria had asked Rossi to sever his ties with Altadis-owned Gauloises.
Hockenheim demise is imminent (GMMf1NET) F1's 2006 calendar could drop to just seventeen grands prix this week, with Hockenheim now believed to be financially unable to run a German GP.
With Belgium's axed Spa Francorchamps reducing the schedule from nineteen grands prix last week, it is now expected that Hockenheim's July 30 date may be imminently scrapped.
The local 'Mannheimer Morgen' newspaper in Germany has now quoted a participant of recent crisis meetings at the circuit as saying that, 'without new money', Hockenheim does not have the means to continue organization for the race beyond February.
Hockenheim mayor and circuit chief Dieter Gummer, however, reportedly rejected the claim, saying that a solution to the crisis is still being worked on.
Champ Car to drop all ovals Milwaukee in June may be Champ Car's last hurrah on ovals for quite some time. "In my opinion if people want to watch oval racing they're going to watch NASCAR," says Kevin Kalkhoven.
"How do you compete with the spectacle of 40 stock cars charging around an oval track? It's a spectacle, but it's not a 3-day festival.
"Ovals are part of the heritage of the series and I personally hate to see them disappear, " he added. "What is clear at the moment, however, is that oval racing fans want to watch NASCAR. You can see from the other series that go oval racing that there's not a lot of interest in it. Road racing has a different set of fans." Road and Track
Champ Car rebuilding will take time "We've got to attract new teams and new sponsors," says Kevin Kalkhoven about the Champ Car World Series. "We've got to create new heroes and we've got to make them marketable commodities. Can you do that in 18 months? No, it's just not going to happen. NASCAR's been around for 50 years, and making our own heroes is going to take some time, but with some continuing solid steps forward, we can get there, absolutely.
"We're lucky that we have a history and are not having to establish a new product. I think that's key. There's nothing more difficult than establishing a new product. That's why sometimes doing turnarounds is a much better way to go. A product that needs evolving and refining like Champ Car already has 2 million fans. We'll continue to build on that base." Road and Track
Champ Car to add one new race per year "Clearly we need races in the Southeast and on the East Coast, no doubt about that at all," says Kevin Kalkhoven. "We've added a new race in Houston this year and we're learning how to make these events work and we're looking for the right venues to make additional events happen. I anticipate that over the next several years we'll add one more race per year." Road and Track
Champ Car expects new teams in 2007 "I'm not surprised by Champ Car's momentum," says Gerald Forsythe on Champ Car's turnaround. "A number of teams from other series have approached us and I'm very confident that you're going to see several teams join the Champ Car World Series in 2007."
Ovals or not, Kalkhoven is excited about the next few years. "I'm absolutely sure that we'll have new teams in 2007," says Kevin Kalkhoven. "There's a huge interest in '06 but there are so few Lolas around and they're not going to build new cars just for one year. It's just too expensive. So I don't know that we'll have any new teams in '06 but I think there will be new teams placing orders for the '07 car and they will start to build them from June on. Then of course there are the Atlantic teams, two of which have already indicated they are ready to move up in '07. Road and Track
Biaggi to get another MF1 test Max Biaggi looks set to get more time behind the wheel of an F1 car with Midland seemingly very keen to see how the Italian runs. Biaggi, better known for racing on two wheels and not four, was in action for the MF1 team in Silverstone recently where he was watched by team boss Colin Kolles.
"Maybe he will have another try in Spain," Kolles told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.
Kolles, a Romanian national, would not confirm or deny any possible test role for Biaggi but did say they were still working on the idea. ”I hope this situation will become clearer in the following days."
NASCAR team limit cap won't happen Jack Roush won't be the only car owner with five teams on the Nextel Cup circuit this season. Rick Hendrick will have five, too. So where does that leave Brian France's proposal to limit owners to just two or maybe three Cup teams? The stock-car world is still wondering just what France, NASCAR's CEO, was thinking when he announced, rather suddenly last September that he wanted to limit team ownership, ostensibly to open up the sport to more newcomers. But with the multimillion-dollar economic barrier to entry in his sport, France almost appeared to be thinking about an earlier, simpler era in its history. Five weeks after proposing a two- or three-team limit, France reset the number at four. And now it appears that everything has essentially been put on hold, at least until current sponsorship contracts run out, say in 2009. And it has become, in Kyle Petty's words, "a non-story." "If they limited us all to two, that would have made sense," Petty said. "Or three. But with four, it's not even an issue." Winston Salem Journal
MF1 Racing could get solar backing Strong speculation says that MF1 Racing could soon be powered by solar energy. The Russian team could soon sign up another big sponsor to a full-year deal. The logo of Dutch company Soldius already appeared on Albers' helmet at Jerez during recent testing (See photo to right). Albers' sports marketing agent GR8 Industries confirmed they are negotiating a deal with the company that supplies products to provide people with the ability to use solar energy for charging their everyday electronic devices.
Zytek wants another 24 Hours of LeMans entry Rumor has it that Zytek is petitioning for an additional entry in this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans (We assume this is on top of one they'd already have pre-qualified for). Drivers would include Johnny Herbert and Guy Smith. No other details at this time.
Rio to take Spa's place on 2006 calendar? Rio de Janeiro is ready to step in and fill the void created by the cancellation of this season's Belgian Formula One Grand Prix, according to the city's mayor.
Cesar Maia said on Thursday that the Brazilian city, which hosted the country's leg of the Grand Prix calendar from 1981 to 1990 before the Brazil GP moved to Interlagos in Sao Paulo, could fill in after Belgium was forced to call off its Grand Prix on Wednesday.
“We know that Belgium has cancelled its meeting and we want to put ourselves at the service of the sport to organize our own,” said Maia.
Jourdain has no NASCAR ride for 2006 Michel Jourdain said in an interview with the Record (a Mexican all-sports newspaper) that he doesn’t know why the ads for the Busch Series race in Mexico City and different press releases from organizers mention him as one of the Mexican drivers confirmed to run the race. Jourdain said that although he has a contract with Ford he has not found enough sponsorship to run in the Busch series. He went on to say that only a miracle would put him in the drivers seat in Daytona for the season opener, but he is working to get enough sponsorship to run at least a few races, hopefully Mexico being one of them. Jose Arrambide
Meira saves Panther RacingUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement. See Hot News page.
02/10/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. The past few months have been a struggle for Indianapolis-based Panther Racing, but officials said Thursday that the future is getting clearer. The race team will continue in the Indy Racing League, although it will scale back to a one-car operation in 2006. Vitor Meira signed Thursday to drive the No. 4 car that will still carry Pennzoil sponsorship in some form. Gary Pedigo might not remain a part of the ownership group, but the team, which had a public auction earlier this week to improve its cash flow, will keep its name, its building on the city's Southwestside and its small-team determination.
Pedigo said the predicament is tied to the popularity of NASCAR, which fields more than 130 teams among its Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck divisions. "It sucks up every sponsorship that's out there and leaves only a few crumbs for (open-wheel racing), and that's the problem," he said. Panther likely needs at least $5 million to participate in the IRL this year with one car. Indy Star
[Editor's Note: Earth to Pedigo - Ask Tony George why he split Indy Car racing in half by creating the IRL, thereby, destroying it, when in 1995 under CART the sport was as big or bigger than NASCAR. Meanwhile the Top NASCAR teams are SOLD OUT when it comes to space. You literally cannot get any more space on a Childress, Hendrick, Roush, or Evernham car unless they field a new car.]
02/09/06 Rumor has it that tomorrow Panther Racing will announce they have been saved (some say by Vitor Meira who is rumored to come with enough cash in a suitcase) and the team will run a 1-car effort in 2006 rather than folding. Some speculate that Tony George may also be helping the team secretly.
Will Penske/Porsche juggernaut kill LMP2? Rumors are beginning to circulate that indicate that the privateer ALMS LMP2 teams are ready to bolt if the Penske Porsche factory LMP2 car isn't restricted. Historically factory entries squash the privateer teams and why we see car counts very low in ALMS and LMES. Meanwhile Grand-Am, which does not use a factory team model, is flush with entries and on a roll.
Renault eyes Montoya (GMMf1NET) According to reports in the Spanish press, Juan Pablo Montoya could be eyeing a future at Renault. The 'Marca' newspaper says 30-year-old Montoya's manager, Julian Jakobi, has already staged 'some meetings' with the Enstone based team, after McLaren declined to take up an option on his current deal for 2007.
However, the sports publication added that Jakobi - of the CSS Stellar management company - has not yet met with Renault's influential F1 principal, Flavio Briatore.
It is possible that Renault would see Montoya, a Colombian who debuted in F1 for Williams in 2001, as an ideal replacement for McLaren-bound Fernando Alonso.
Spanish-speaking 'JPM' would also fit in well with Renault's existing sponsors, such as major Spanish backer Telefonica.
Yuji Ide on pole for Aguri seat (GMMf1NET) Sakon Yamamoto is no longer in the running to land the second race seat at new Japanese formula one team Super Aguri.
Like Kosuke Matsuura, who removed himself from the running by signing for an IRL team, the Japanese appeared in a Thursday press release which confirmed that he will race in Japanese 'Super GT' with the Nissan team.
With BAR-Honda refugee Takuma Sato a dead-certainty for the lead ride, Yamamoto's demise leaves 30-year-old Formula Nippon driver Yuji Ide (pictured right) in the box seat.
''Our driver line up for 2006 will be announced shortly,'' press and driver liaison officer Emma Bearpark said.
Boris Said to drive some Busch races Road racing ace Boris Said is rumored to drive an Evernham Motorsports Dodge entry in both NASCAR Busch Series road races this season, The Charlotte Observer reports. A formal announcement of the two-race deal will be made Friday at Daytona International Speedway.
Charlotte looking good to land HOF NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France indicated that Charlotte has “two critical advantages” in bidding to land the sport’s HOF over Atlanta and Daytona: “Lots of guaranteed money and superstar drivers and racing teams in its backyard,” according to Walter Woods of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. The North Carolina state Legislature has “already approved a hotel/motel tax and a $20[M] land gift that will guarantee funding for nearly all” of Charlotte’s proposed $137.5M facility. The state of Georgia is “only now putting together” $32.4M million in public money for the hall, which organizers “expect will cost about” $92M. Corporate support and bank loans will “cover the balance, a fact that seemed to give France pause.” France, on Atlanta’s financial effort: “I think they’ll get there.” But he added that Charlotte’s money is “all wrapped up.” France indicated that Charlotte being the home base for several NASCAR drivers and teams is “key for rotating fresh exhibits through the [HOF], and getting racing’s superstar drivers on the red carpet” for an annual induction ceremony. But, when asked if Charlotte “had the edge,” France replied, “I wouldn’t say that.” Woods notes Daytona’s “effort may have the same financial disadvantages as Atlanta” ATLANTA CONSTITUTION
Belgian GP is offUPDATE #5 "The race has not gone forever, and I'm happy that they've decided to do the re-building work," Ecclestone told The Daily Telegraph.
"Spa has not been up to scratch for quite some time, and they need to spend a bit of time and money on improving the paddock facilities and building new grandstands. If they get their work done on time then there will be no problem at all and the race will be back in 2007, without question."
02/08/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See Hot News page for story.
01/27/06 A local government minister has added another nail to the coffin of the seemingly doomed Belgian grand prix.
Jean Claude Marcourt, economy and employment minister in the historic Spa Francorchamps circuit's region of Wallonia, told parliament on Thursday that the race will indeed be axed by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
He said the main problem was making Bernie's requested circuit modifications in time for the scheduled September race.
For whatever reason, however, the grim messages coming out of Belgium about the race do not match up with what Ecclestone himself, and the sport's governing FIA, are saying on the matter.
75-year-old Bernie explained in the 'Het Niewsblad' newspaper: ''The Belgian grand prix can take place in 2006.''
01/22/06 According to Belgian reports Bernie Ecclestone will be organizing the Belgian Grand Prix himself starting from 2007. It more and more looks like it that we will not have a race this year at the famous Spa-Francorchamps track. The Walloon government and Ecclestone are apparently not talking about 2006 anymore, but about the period 2007-2012. Ecclestone would be organizing the race himself, without interference of the Walloon government. All the government has to do is pay back a damage fee of 18 million euros and invest 15 million euros in the track per the contract.
01/21/06 F1's governing body has refused to verify claims that the 2006 Belgian grand prix at historic Spa Francorchamps will be axed.
Local politician Serge Kubla told parliament on Friday that he had been given the unhappy news by Bernie Ecclestone, despite the F1 supremo's recent hint that he may assume the bankrupt promoter's role.
But a journalist for the British 'Daily Telegraph' broadsheet wrote in a column on Saturday that the FIA 'were not taking (Kubla's) claims seriously'.
''(Bernie) Ecclestone, perhaps significantly, was unavailable for comment,'' the journalist, Kevin Garside, added.
01/20/06 The 2006 Belgian grand prix, at highly-popular Spa Francorchamps, is off.
That's the unhappy revelation of Belgian radio station 'Bel-RTL' and local (Wallonian) politician Serge Kubla, who told the parliament on Friday that he was informed officially by Bernie Ecclestone's company.
With the race's promoter broke, Ecclestone, 75, had been tipped to take over the organization of Spa's historic event. But while the 2007 grand prix should be ok, Bernie is reportedly refusing to sanction the September race because work on a new pit and paddock complex will not be finished.
St. Pete tickets sales strongUPDATE #2 Below is a comparison of how many grandstands St. Pete had when CART raced there vs. now with the IRL there. Looks like they have removed some grandstands since the CART days.
Left the CART grandstand layout, Right the IRL grandstand layout.
02/03/06 A reader adds, Dear Autoracing1, My brother works for a company providing services for the race and just this week they were told to put more laborers on because the promoters are adding additional grandstands. I can't tell you how much I detest TG and the IRL but how did Champ Car let this race get away from them? Talk about city festivals and great locations - St. Pete is right along the water in a vibrant city. Tampa is a stones throw, Orlando and the surrounding areas are the perfect demographic of affluent college educated young families perfect for Champ Cars business model and attracting sponsors. I won't buy a ticket but they gave away the store on this one and someone should be shot. Steve Callahan Naples, Fla.
02/03/06 We are hearing that ticket sales for the St. Pete IRL race are strong. Recall this was a Champ Car race and when CART decided not to go back, instead of picking up all the wall and fencing that they owned, they gave it to the city for free. The city in turn gives it to Andretti Green promotions to use for free for their IRL race. What would have been a great season opening race for Champ Car each year, is now a great race for their opposition.
Red Bull to sell to 'Pepsi'? (GMMf1NET) Dietrich Mateschitz, owner of two formula one teams, has reportedly denied speculation that he might sell Red Bull to soft drink rival PepsiCo.
Austria's 'NEWS' magazine claimed that Mateschitz, a multi billionaire, had held discussions with the New York-based Pepsi company, on the back of speculation that it was keen to capitalize on the small but lucrative market of energy drinks.
Meanwhile, it is reported that 61-year-old Mateschitz has bought a 5 square-mile Fijian private island - called 'Laucala' - for $10m.
Spa replacement to be 'discussed' (GMMf1NET) The axed Belgian grand prix will almost certainly not be replaced in 2006, it is reported in the Italian press.
But La Gazzetta dello Sport, the well-connected sports newspaper, quoted a source close to the FIA as nonetheless admitting that 'discussions about the opportunity for a new grand prix' will be held.
In reality, however, the F1 paddock - although disappointed to see the drivers' favorite Spa-Francorchamps go - heaved a sigh of relief at news that the calendar will be shorter than the unprecedented 19-race schedule of last year.
But the Belgian axe will not be welcomed by drivers, who - apart from the fact that they'll now mostly have to go testing in the free week preceding Spa's blank weekend date - always list the track as one a favorite.
''It's a shame,'' Red Bull driver and F1 veteran David Coulthard agreed to the BBC, ''but (formula one is) a business and you've got to get on with it.''
Schwan's to sponsor Petty Schwan's Home Service Inc. officials say the company will sponsor Petty Enterprises' No. 45 Dodge driven by Kyle Petty for the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season. A business unit of The Schwan Food Co., Schwan's Home Service Inc. will be featured as primary sponsor on Petty Enterprises' No. 45 Dodge for four races. Financial terms of the sponsorship were not reported.
Indian A1GP team going bankruptUPDATE I cannot understand why the Indian team cannot find a sponsor. There are hundreds of computer companies that depend on India to keep their bottom line out of the red, by exporting programming and technical support jobs to India. One would think that with those kinds of relationships, one would see a Computer Associates or a Dell, or Gateway, or even a Microsoft or any of the hundreds of other tech companies.
I would think it would be pretty easy to leverage their value and position to gain such support. After all, sending the jobs there is not a matter of charity. India has a technical post-secondary education system that is on par with any nation in the world. Many argue it is in fact superior.
So as they obviously have a value, and account for huge savings for companies in industry segments that has as many thin margins as it does big profits. I have a hard time understanding why the support could not be found. It is amazing how many people get into the sport and write the big checks, and really don't seem to understand how to make their racing business work. After all, there are big racing teams with far less resources than some of the billionaire owners of less successful teams out there, and they find the dollars and they win races. One would think that with more resources, there would be more results. In fact, the opposite seems to be more often the case. Lance Freespeed, Miami, FL.
Dear Lance, The real issue is dilution of product. There are so many racing series out there vying for media attention and racing sponsorship that they are ALL, except for F1 and NASCAR, barely keeping their head above water. They are all diluting their efforts insuring that they will never become a huge success. How can they when an infomercial gets as good or better TV ratings. With NASCAR and F1 sitting atop the perch with big TV ratings, the France family (NASCAR) and Bernie Ecclestone (F1) smile with joy as they watch all those other series cut each others throats to pick up the leftover crumbs that they cast aside.
We see new racing series popping up all the time because someone thinks they have a better idea. And for each new one that pops up, we see another go under. There simply is not much commercial value in these bottom feeders as the series principals are finding out. There is a real need for consolidation in the industry if these other series are going to amount to anything. They need to combine their resources and their talent to create a commercially viable product. We said it about Champ Car and IRL, Champ Car and A1GP, ALMS and Grand-Am, and it applies to every series out there. United we stand, divided we fall, was never more applicable. Mark C.
02/07/06 The Indian A1 GP team is in the process of being disbanded as South African-based franchise holder Atul Gupta has run out of patience with the team's lack of performance. The major problem seems to be one of funding as the Indian business community has not jumped to support the team as Gupta had been hoping. The team started out being promoted by Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, who was named as one of the franchise-holders, but even that has not helped. Results have been poor as the driver Armaan Ebrahim, son of team principal Akbar Ebrahim, has not scored any good result. It seems that for the moment the only driver in India who is capable of raising big money is Narain Karthikeyan, who has used his connections and experience to get backing to become the fourth driver at Williams this year. The concept of A1 Grand Prix was to trade off national pride and if India cannot raise the kind of money needed there must be fears for other teams.
It is also not very good for the dream of an Indian Grand Prix as such an enterprise is going to cost tens of millions of dollars and the A1 team was not even able to raise $8m. Grandprix.com
[Editor's Note: We said a long time ago that Shaikh Maktoum should take the billion dollars he is spending on A1GP and merge with Champ Car, which has aspirations of international expansion. Together they could make a formidable pair. Divided they exist.]
Foyt buys car at Panther Auction Word is that AJ Foyt bought one of Panther Racing's IRL cars at the liquidation auction. One of the cars that brought the most money was, ironically, an old Lola Champ Car.
Pocono to keep Cup dates Don't place much stock in rumors about the world of stock car racing. That's the message from Dr. Joseph Mattioli, owner of Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Tunkhannock Township, PA, on Friday dismissed published reports that he is considering selling the NASCAR track or the rights to either or both of the two Nextel Cup races it hosts each year. A column published this week on the Internet in Yahoo Sports noted that Bruton Smith, owner of Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada, might try to buy Pocono Raceway from Mattioli. The reasoning runs that owning two racetracks would give Smith more options to schedule races and other events. Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosts just one Nextel Cup race per year. Mattioli said no one has approached him recently and in any case he's not interested in selling the raceway. "No, I've never heard of that and no one has discussed it with me," Mattioli said Friday. "Why would I do that?" he added, chuckling. "It makes no sense." Speculation that Smith or other rival track owners might try to buy Pocono Raceway has persisted for years. Published reports from 1999 describe almost the same scenario that was mentioned in the online column this week. Renewed speculation on the future of the raceway ran rampant among the Poconos' political and business communities after the Yahoo column appeared this week. Pocono Record
Biaggi's only hope for '06 is F1 Max Biaggi will not ride in this year's World Superbike Championship after he was left off the final entry list. The Italian, without a ride in MotoGP after being axed by Honda, had talks with Superbike team Alstare Suzuki.
Biaggi blamed the breakdown in negotiations on the lack of equal equipment on offer.
"There aren't the necessary technical guarantees that would allow me to fight on equal terms in a very competitive championship," he told his website.
Biaggi could now test again for Formula One team Midland following his run at Silverstone last month.
Horse race firm could run Brit GP (GMMf1NET) A horse racing company, with no experience in motor sport, may take over the running of the British GP at Silverstone.
A 25-year lease for Northern Racing is proposed by the circuit's owner, the British Racing Drivers' Club, along with plans with St Modwen Properties to totally revamp Silverstone and safeguard the future of the historic formula one race.
''We're not ... equipped with the financial and other resources to undertake a development of the size and complexity required,'' wrote BRDC chairman Stuart Rolt in a letter to club members.
Members will get to vote on the plan later this month, but some are reportedly already opposing what they believe could jeopardize the track's future.
Glock to Super Aguri or GP2UPDATE #2 Timo Glock is giving up his career in America to return to European racing with the aim of getting back into F1. The German will be competing this year with BCN Competicion with backing from Deutsche Post. He will be partnered by Japanese driver Hiroki Yoshimoto. Grandprix.com
BCN team principal Enrique Scalabroni confirmed that negotiations were underway with Glock, and hoped a deal could be finalized later this week.
"Yes, there have been talks, but nothing is signed yet," Scalabroni told autosport.com. "Maybe we will make an announcement on Friday or at the start of next week."
AutoRacing1.com sources still say he's signed already. We shall see....
02/06/06 It looks like Champ Car has indeed blown it and lost one of the few real sponsors a team had. According to our European sources Timo Glock signed with the BCN team in GP2 today, though there may be an out-clause if he lands a last-minute F1 seat with Super Aguri. Hopefully we will hear something official soon as to where, F1 or GP2, Glock will race in 2006. We have removed Glock from our 2006 Champ Car Silly Season Page.
02/04/06 Our sources in Europe tell us that Timo Glock (pictured right) will have a seat fitting for the Super Aguri team on Monday. From what we hear neither Japanese driver is signed. For Takumo Sato it's an issue of money, and for Yuji Ide it's an issue of his ability to perform. Although Ide would be bringing $10 or $20 million to the table, he is still recovering from a very serious accident at the end of last year and the team is having its doubts whether physically he can drive an F1 car.
The team must qualify for every race with two cars or it forfeits its $48 million bond it put up to enter F1, so it's important the team have drivers who can get the job done and not crash the car in qualifying resulting in the car not making the race. Apparently the team is on a shoestring budget and having enough backup cars will be an issue.
We also have learned that DHL is willing to give Glock more money than he would get in Champ Car if he lands an F1 seat. The same source says DHL is not happy that Glock could not get a seat with Newman/Haas, so there is a good chance they won't be back in Champ Car and hope this Super Aguri deal works out for Timo.
New 2-car IRL team in worksUPDATE #2 Question: What is your take and what do you know about Yellow Ribbon Racing? (Matt from Decatur, Ind.)
Answer: I still have seen nothing that shows me legitimacy. OK, so there is a group of individuals interested in forming an IRL team, but to my knowledge they have no sponsorship, no equipment, no shop, no drivers, no employees and no chance of being ready to compete anytime soon. If they're farther along on any of these points, they need to contact me (or the IRL office) with proof. Curt Cavin, Indy Star
01/28/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See announcement on our Hot News page.
01/17/06 Yellow Ribbon Racing plans to field two cars in the upcoming 2006 IRL season. The livery on these cars will represent the four major branches of our Armed Services. This team will represent the first ever, non-profit professional sports team in history. Its purpose is to show our Troops the support that they undoubtedly deserve. For more see their website. [Editor's Note: Wonder who is paying for this team - the Hulman George Foundation? They are asking for donations. Oh my.]
A new cloud over British GP?UPDATE St Modwen's senior executive director, Richard Froggatt, has told the Northampton News that the deal will not jeopardize the future of the BRDC.
"I can understand why some people might jump to conclusions about the BRDC's future with the track," Froggatt said, "but there's no way we could force them out. They're the custodians of Silverstone and they forever will be. We're looking to take the worldwide reputation Silverstone has already got and build on it. We want to get the technology park running properly and look at how we can turn Silverstone into a year-round operation. We'd be hoping to secure a couple of hotels and some residential development would help with financing the work required for circuit improvements."
01/31/06 (GMMf1NET) A grey cloud is once again threatening to move above the British GP.
With news that a $1bn developer, St Modwen Properties, is on the verge of signing a 125-year lease of the Silverstone venue, a group objecting to the plan has emerged within the track-owning British Racing Drivers' Club.
The St Modwen contract must first be ratified by the BRDC at a February 22 (2006) meeting.
Former British F3 champion and BRDC member Harry Stiller is leading the group of objectors, who argue that the formula one race - costing the club some $21m every year - should not be safeguarded at any cost.
''We are being asked to vote on an agreement that could put our club in jeopardy and as yet we know nothing of the detail,'' he told England's Daily Telegraph.
''Under the proposed deal it is my belief that we could lose control of the property entirely.''
Renshaw probably won't race in 2006 Truck Series driver, Deborah Renshaw, may not race in 2006. "Unfortunately, it looks that way," Renshaw said yesterday from her home in Bowling Green, Ky. "I haven't given up entirely. I'm still making phone calls, but I'm not very optimistic. The season is less than three weeks away and I don't have a ride." Renshaw, 30, has been racing since her teens. For the past two years she competed in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series. She is the only female driver to lead a race in the 10-year history of the series. Last season she finished 24th in the points standings and won $221,975. At the end of the year she lost her sponsor, and with it her ride at #8-Bobby Hamilton Racing. Said Bobby Hamilton, the 2004 truck series champion who assisted Renshaw's racing efforts the past two years: "I'm a huge Deborah Renshaw fan and I'm sorry she's having trouble. She is a hard worker who listens to advice and tries to learn. I've always admired her determination and her toughness." Renshaw is pondering her career options. She holds a degree in business and an associate degree in marketing. Her father owns several Kentucky car dealerships and she said she may enter the automotive field. "It's sad to give up on something you've wanted so badly and worked so hard for, but I frequently receive letters or e-mails from little girls or young women who say I've inspired them to race," she said. "That makes it all worthwhile for me. I know that one of them will make it eventually." More at the Tennessean
[Editor's Note: Just because she is a woman this makes the news. If she isn't good enough for the big leagues, which she is not, she has no business there. She has not shown us one iota of brilliance that would indicate she has what it takes.]
Champion Audi team to miss SebringUPDATE #3 Sources are now telling us that it is quite possible the Champion crew was working with the Joest crew on the R10 at the recent Sebring test to learn about the car because the Champion team will soon take delivery of an R10, perhaps in time to race it at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
What we have heard is that there will be two R10's at Sebring, after which Audi will return to Europe and focus on getting the R10 ready for the 24 Hours of LeMans. There will be one R8 campaigned at Houston and Mid-Ohio, but it is unclear to us whose name will be on it. The R10 effort is supposed to return after the 24 Hours, hopefully in time for Lime Rock. We're not sure if the R8 will continue after the R10 returns, or if it simply to keep Audi in the Championship while the R10 is away.
02/02/06 Further research tells us that Audi has refused support of the R8 so that they can ensure that no R8 (pictured right) will beat the new R10. So basically, they told Champion they cannot have an R10, and they are not allowed to run an R8 either. So it is our assumption that Audi effectively made that decision to lock Champion out of the game altogether, at least until later in the year. We hear Dave Maraj is not the least bit happy and is considering his options.
This is what happens when manufacturers are allowed to call the shots, they can eventually destroy a racing series. Grand-Am, controlled by the France family, has the right idea, i.e. they call ALL the shots, and the fields this year are flush with Prototypes and sponsored teams.
It is stuff like this that drives teams away. Much like the case with the Corvette that was sold by Pratt & Miller to Pacific Coast. It was not the same car they were running when they had it, and they certainly were not going to make it possible that the car could beat the newer bigger Pratt & Miller Corvette factory effort. Where is Pacific Coast now? In Grand-Am. We rest our case.
02/01/06 We are hearing now that the team isn't in trouble, just that they wanted to have an Audi R10 (pictured right) for Sebring and were told no and are not happy after winning the LeMans 24 Hour and the ALMS championship for Audi last year. The guy that owns Champion, Dave Maraj, also owns Champion Porsche and Champion Audi the BIGGEST Porsche and Audi dealers in the world.
Will he stay with Audi, or switch to Porsche, which has Penske? We hear he is also looking at other possibilities.
02/01/06 Rumor has it that the defending ALMS Champion Audi team is in trouble and will miss the biggest ALMS race of the year, the 12 Hours of Sebring. They were not at the recent test and there has not been a peep out of ALMS about its marque team. We are investigating.
Toyota's Plans for the Busch Series are Low-Key Toyota's entrance into the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and Craftsman Truck Series were both made with a lot of fanfare, but the Japanese automaker isn't making a lot of noise about its Busch Series plans. "The company doesn't really have a particular interest in Busch," Toyota Racing Development Senior Vice President and General Manager Lee White said. An announcement of Busch Series teams should be made in the coming months. "It'll probably be 5 or 6 cars over the next couple years that will end up running in the Busch Series as Toyotas." NASCAR Daily Scene [Editor's Note: When you race in NASCAR you do what NASCAR tells you to do. They want all manufacturers to support not only Cup, but Busch and Trucks. You either abide by their wishes or you don't race.]
Biaggi to test more with MF1 Racing Ex-MotoGP champion Max Biaggi will most likely test again for MF1 Racing as he looks to possibly follow fellow MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi into F1.
"I've read that Max Biaggi (right) would like to give F1 driving lessons to Valentino Rossi. Well, we'll try to meet his wishes," MF1 Racing's managing director Colin Kolles told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"We've known Biaggi for many years, we knew of his wish to measure himself in F1, so we contacted him for the first test.
"Unfortunately the test was made incredibly difficult by the weather conditions, hence the idea of giving him a second chance, which will have to be a real test, probably in Spain. At the moment we're working in that direction."
"Max wants to get in the car in order to test his sensations and measure himself with something he's attracted to but knows little about, and on top of that the guy is thinking about his future and is looking around," added Kolles.
"Besides the quip about driving lessons for Valentino Rossi, we are available for him. That's why in the following weeks there might be some surprises.
"On top of that, the rivalry between them is extremely exciting; who knows, we might be able to have them face each other on a Friday before a Grand Prix. There's nothing definitive for now, but we're working and in the next few days some situations might develop which I can't talk about now."
"I'm in a transitional period," Biaggi said. "At the moment we are assessing various opportunities, but I will definitely not be either in MotoGP or in Superbikes, which is about to start. However, I hope to be back in 2007.
"To drive the Midland F1 car was a fantastic and exciting experience, even though the track conditions were abysmal, as it was raining and it was very cold. But after all, at Silverstone in January, you couldn't expect much.
"These are two very different worlds, everybody knows that, but I'm glad Midland appreciate my collaboration. At the moment, however, I'm not able to make programmes for the future. Maybe we'll decide to do some more tests but there isn't anything officially decided.
"I noticed that Valentino Rossi has been good on the Ferrari. Of course, it's easy to make mistakes in the wet and at the beginning he had some problems. To be competitive immediately on four wheels is hard."
Ford may want Tagliani in V8 Supercars Been told by an insider that Ford Oz would be willing to pay money to get Alex Tagliani into a Ford V8 Supercar and that this may happen in 2006 or 2007. Recall he drove in one race last year and must have made a good impression.
The Team Australia Champ Car team could possibly run two Australian drivers (Briscoe and Power?) which would leave Tagliani looking for another seat. If our insider is correct and Ford Oz is that impressed with Tagliani, who knows what might happen, though as we understood it, Team Australia was already in contract negotiations with Tagliani. Rest assured that the V8 Supercar Series would probably love to do some promotion stuff with Tagliani's beautiful wife, Bronte, who just happens to be Australian.
Will Champ Car be able to leverage Art Car parade What began in 1988 with 40 decorated vehicles and a handful of onlookers is now the Worlds Largest and Oldest Art Car Parade. The May 13th Houston, Texas event (Same day as Champ Car race) event features over 250 Art Cars, 200,000 plus live spectators and media from all over the world, making Houston ground zero of an international phenomenon. Scores of lowrider, classic cars, costumed rollerskaters, musicians on floats, art bicyclists, hot-rodders, and hard-to-classify rolling contraptions join in and shine in the spotlight.
It will be interesting to see whether Champ Car will be out in force at this parade handing out flyers to the 200,000 plus car-nut people who will line the downtown route in hopes of getting some of them to the race that same night.
Toro Rosso V10 illegal? MidlandF1’s managing Director Colin Kolles has spoken out against the Scuderia Toro Rosso team, formerly known as Minardi, who plan to use restricted VB10 engines in 2006.
"Obviously I have a very clear opinion. This engine does not belong in F1 any more," he said. "It is not the regulation. It has been accepted due to a financial reason for Minardi and this is not any more the case. For me it is not understandable – Red Bull spending hundreds of millions, having two teams and bullshitting the world, basically. The car is not legal. That is the point. It is very clear.”
"If they are in front of us then they will have a problem because I will not be very happy with this and I am very clear about this," he said. "I trust the FIA. It is in the hands of the FIA. We are looking at it, but we are looking very carefully at it."
"It is not a question of making the engines slower. It is a question that the regulations state a V8 engine, and not a restricted V10 engine," he said. "It was an exception for Minardi due to financial reasons. For us it is not only a V8/V10 the power, it is also a financial matter. A V8 engine is much more expensive than a V10 engine and if it is restricted you can run much longer and be more reliable. It has more torque. It is not just restricting the engine, it is a completely different world."
Honda took care of their IRL teamsUPDATE AutoRacing1.com sources now tell us that Honda owned the cars for every IRL team that ran with them the past few years, which underscores their level of financial commitment to the series. Now we are beginning to understand how the teams were able to afford all that crash damage yet keep on functioning.
The key was because they owned the cars, they could keep all the aero advances they made in-house. If you left Honda, you couldn't take the car. Guesstimates say Chevy and Toyota spent a total of $70 million per year combined, but Honda spent a whopping $100 million per year alone.
02/04/06 Word on the street is that Honda invested around $20 million the last two years to help their IRL teams develop their chassis which enabled them to dominate. Of course the Honda HP did not hurt either. And although Honda will no longer be favoring any teams going forward, the teams that gained an advantage will maintain it....i.e. they are not going to just throw away the bits and pieces and knowledge that made the cars go faster.
If this is true - $20 million just for chassis development - it stands in stark contrast to the rumored $500K Ford is giving Champ Car to badge all their engines, and the rumored $1 or $2 million per year to support the program.
Da Matta to A1GP According to our sources, Cristiano da Matta will drive in the Monterrey A1GP race for Team Brazil. Da Matta is the driver with the most wins at the Fundidora Track, and is the most recognized international driver in Monterrey. Because of that we are told the Mexican fans will support him and to look for a successful race weekend." Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico
Berger may return to F1UPDATE #2 Gerhard Berger has refused to deny Bernie Ecclestone's recent claim that he is considering setting up a formula one team in 2008.
The veteran of 210 grands prix, and BMW motor sport director until 2003, told Austrian sports magazine 'Kicker' that he would 'gladly come back' if the conditions were right.
''It is an idea that is in my head,'' Berger, 46, admitted.
Much like fellow hopefuls David Richards and Roger Penske, however, Berger said his plan would very much depend on Max Mosley's proposed 2008 regulations, where minimum budgets should plummet to around $50m a year.
Berger said: ''At the moment, (starting) a truly independent team is not really realistic.
''But if it was more accessible, more affordable, I'd think about it.''
02/01/06 Gerhard Berger has responded to speculation that he is eying a return to formula one.
But the former driver, who left his role as joint BMW motor sport director nearly three years ago, seemed to reject Bernie Ecclestone's claim that he was considering running his own team in 2008.
Instead, he hinted that a role within Dietrich Mateschitz's Red Bull F1 empire would be more likely.
''I have known him for nearly twenty years,'' Berger, 46, told the Austrian 'Trend' magazine. ''It would be a good opportunity to work with a good friend.
'However, right now, the timing is not right.''
Berger, who raced for teams including Ferrari, McLaren and Benetton until he retired in 1997, suggested that he is too busy enjoying his family to work '24 hours a day' in a F1 job.
He advised: ''But I could wake up one morning and have the feeling that I need to live that life once again.''
01/25/06 Former ten-time grand prix winner Gerhard Berger could return to the grid -- as a team boss.
The 46-year-old Austrian, who also retired from his role as BMW motor sport director, was mentioned by Bernie Ecclestone as a possible new entrant for the sport's near future.
''After 2007, more teams will come,'' the F1 supremo said at an Austrian ski event on Sunday.
Bernie continued: ''Roger Penske wants to return, if we can bring down the costs, and the same is true of David Richards and Gerhard Berger.''
Vegas trying to woo IRL back According to this Yahoo! Sports article, Bruton Smith plans to make an offer in the coming days to purchase drag racing's top sanctioning body, the National Hot Rod Association, and relocate it to Las Vegas. He's also trying to woo the Indy Racing League back to LVMS for a second try at success there.
Penske likely to run Intrepids at some tracks After Kurt Busch tested both a 2004 Dodge and an '05 model at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Penske Racing South expects to field '04 models for both Ryan Newman and Busch at California Speedway and Las Vegas.
"We're going to use whichever car our team thinks is the better performer," team president Don Miller said Wednesday. "Right now, that looks like it's going to be the 2004."
Dodge introduced the Charger nameplate last season, replacing the Intrepids it used from 2001-04. Both the '04 and '05 models are approved for use by NASCAR.
Ray Evernham said his team plans to stick with Chargers for drivers Jeremy Mayfield and Kasey Kahne. While details have not been finalized, a number of Dodge teams are trying to schedule a group test at Nashville to see if they can come to a consensus before presenting an '06 Charger to NASCAR to see if it can get a new nose approved. NASCAR Daily Scene
Newman/Haas might run a 3rd carUPDATE We are downgrading this rumor to 'false.' Our sources tell us that Newman/Haas will once again remain a 2-car team as the necessary sponsorship never materialized and it is now too late to hire good people for a third car. The team wants to do it right, or not at all.
08/29/05 Carl Haas has not made a decision yet as to whether he will run a third car for Bruno Junqueira in November in Mexico City. That is the race Junqueira is aiming to make a comeback he said this weekend in Montreal. Haas can run him in one of his two backup cars, but who would service the car? There are still rumors out there that the team could expand to three cars in 2006 but we have heard those rumors before but they never have done it.
Lucky Strike to follow Mild Seven, Marlboro to stay Gary Carey, head of sponsorship for British American Tobacco, has confirmed to Autosport.com, that Lucky Strike will definitely exit the sport at the end of 2006, but says Marlboro could remain as Ferrari's sponsor.
Autosport: Having sold your remaining 55% shareholding (in BAR) to Honda, BAT have obviously exited Formula One from an ownership situation. But what about Lucky Strike? Is the brand looking to exit Formula One?
Autosport: That's definite?
Carey: "That's definite. I mean, the reason for that is that we signed up to the International Marketing Standards (in September 2001), which is a self-regulatory agreement between ourselves and Philip Morris (Marlboro) and the other tobacco companies, in which we all agreed to pull out of all motorsports sponsorships by the end of 2006.
"The agreement is a means of regulating our industry, our own code of conduct. There are many, many different areas where we can continue in sponsorship outside of motorsport, but by continuing with Ferrari, Philip Morris have obviously decided to tear up the agreement. It is within their rights to do so; they are not breaking the law.
"We have decided to market to adults in other ways, communicating with our customers in more targeted ways, depending upon what countries they are in, and what the local laws are. I think the most important thing is that we will always respect local laws, even where others don't. That is why we are not branded here in Spain."
[Editor's Note: Rest assured that if Marlboro remains in motorsports beyond 2006 after originally announcing their withdrawal along with the other tobacco giants, it will result in numerous lawsuits against the company worldwide, especially in Europe where the EU has strong laws against any form of tobacco branding in sports.
The European Union is threatening legal action against member states that try to bend the rules and the World Health Organization (WHO) treaty now has 127 countries that are party to the deal. A further 47 are signatories but have not yet ratified the treaty. These include the United States of America, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, the Czech Republic, Argentina and the Ukraine.
If the USA does not ratify the treaty that may leave a loophole for Marlboro to remain as a sponsor on the Penske IRL team as well. If the USA ratifies it between now and 2007, the Marlboro sponsorship for the Penske IRL team will be history. WHO is putting a lot of pressure on the USA to ratify it, and we expect this issue will become a political hot potato in 2006 as Altria, Marlboro's parent company, will line the pockets of many a politician to ensure the USA doesn't ratify it so they can continue to kill many people with their cancer-causing product.
We applaud NASCAR for ridding its sport of this disgusting product by not keeping Winston as its series sponsor, a deal that was very lucrative to NASCAR. NASCAR took the high road, but if rumors can be believed, Marlboro and Team Penske will continue with the Marlboro branding even though it has been proven beyond a shadow of any doubt their product kills. Some people will do anything for money.]
New fears encircle Monteiro’s seatUPDATE #2 We already told you that Monteiro has the other MF1 Racing seat for 2006. Now Tiago Monteiro has confirmed that he will be in England this Friday.
Usually, that would not be interesting news, but the Silverstone-based MF1 team is set to launch its 2006 grand prix car. And Monteiro, unlike likely teammate Christijan Albers, has not yet been officially nominated as a race driver.
''Tiago Monteiro and ... Albers ... will be present ... as the wraps proudly come off the new M16,'' read a statement of the Portuguese driver's PR team.
The information coincides with the Midland-owned team's praise of customer engine supplier Toyota. Sporting director Adrian Burgess called the Cologne based outfit's service 'second to none'.
''You couldn't go and buy a better package than what we've got,'' he said.
MF1 also announced a new '06 sponsor -- Italian tailor Cesare Attolini.
01/15/06 We are downgrading this rumor to 'speculation' today. We caught up with Tiago Monteiro today and asked him about his status with MF1 Racing for 2006. He told AutoRacing1.com, "My contract was signed on the 3rd of November. So I don’t see why those rumors persist. I am a Midland (MF1 Racing) driver in 2006."
Tiago isn't sure why MF1 Racing has not announced him as the official driver, which is why we are not making this rumor 'false' just year. Christijan Albers is listed, but not him. Perhaps Monteiro's sponsors have not made their first payment yet, which could be delaying the announcement. Another possibility is that the contract can be bought out by a driver who brings a lot more money. With that said, Tiago seems confident the ride is his, so......
01/13/06 (GMMf1NET) With the launch of a new official website, new fears about Tiago Monteiro's unconfirmed spot at the Midland-owned 'MF1' team have arisen.
Not only is the Portuguese driver missing from the team profile section, unlike confirmed driver Christijan Albers, his backers - including 'Galp' - is not featured in the sponsor area. The new website can be found at http://www.midlandf1.com.
If he gets shut out of F1, it will be interesting to see whether Monteiro takes what sponsorship he does have and comes back to Champ Car.
Fauzy and Lopez reunited at SuperNova? Jose-Maria Lopez and Fairuz Fauzy, team-mates at DAMS in 2005, could be team-mates again this season if rumors of both drivers signing for SuperNova prove to be correct.
Last week SuperNova boss David Sears denied that Lopez had already signed for his team for 2006, although the Argentinean Renault Development driver tested for the squad at the end of last year. Now it is thought Fauzy, who brings substantial personal sponsorship, may also sign up.
Fauzy recently quit the Malaysian A1GP team to concentrate on preparations for GP2 this season.
2006 will be the second season in GP2 for Lopez, but he had already completed a season in F3000 with Coloni, effectively making this a third season at this level. Lopez wouldn't be the first Renault Development Driver to race for SuperNova. Tiago Monteiro drove for David Sears' quad in 2002. Formula-2.net
Cleveland GP to be soldUPDATE #4 Illinois-based Mi-Jack Promotions has signed a five-year ownership deal to run the Grand Prix of Cleveland Champ Car race, starting with this summer’s 25th running. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Grand Prix managing director Rena Shanaman said the deal means a “long-term, secure future for the race,” which has been operated by Champ Car for the past two years. The event previously was under the ownership of Cleveland-based IMG.
Mi-Jack Promotions is an arm of Mi-Jack, an equipment and transportation business that also owns Champ Car’s Houston Grand Prix. Mi-Jack president Mike Lanigan will be introduced as the Cleveland race’s new owner at a local reception next week.
“This is an individual and an organization that is extremely committed to Champ Car and to Cleveland and to turning the Grand Prix weekend into Cleveland’s biggest festival,” Ms. Shanaman said. “What we’re doing is really reinventing the event.”
Mi-Jack’s ownership and contacts, Ms. Shanaman said, also should help boost sponsorships for the race, which has run without a title sponsor since 2002.
“Whether we’ll get a title (sponsor) in 2006, I don’t know,” she said. “I do know we’ll get much more corporate support.” Crain Communications
02/01/06 We can now confirm that the press conference will indeed be on February 9th. Rumored to be in attendance are Mike Lanigan, from Mi-Jack Promotions, and Chuck Kosich. 12/21/05 We hear from or sources that the press conference scheduled to announce this sale has been rescheduled for February 9th in Cleveland.
12/17/05 More info on this rumor from this Cleveland Plain Dealer article.
12/16/05 Rumor has it that Champ Car is close to an agreement to sell the Cleveland Grand Prix. The deal, said to be for 5-years, is expected to close in early January. No word yet on who the buyer is, but reports are that it is a group with local Cleveland interests. Perhaps it is Mi-Jack, who own the Houston race and also who have business interests in Cleveland. By owning two races they can share the cost of grandstands, etc. Of course, who would want to use Cleveland high-school grade inferior grandstands is beyond us. Hopefully by sharing the costs between multiple races, they could afford professional grandstands....if indeed it is Mi-Jack that is the buyer.
Porsche to P1? Sources close to Porsche’s RS Spyder ALMS P2 program run by Penske hinted that a step up to the top class might be in the cards for 2007. Porsche’s official story is that it is dedicated to a customer-friendly P2 campaign, but both Wolfgang Dürheimer, Porsche’s executive vp of research and development, and Roger Penske admit that once the car is fast, reliable and successful, it will be sold to customers and they will evaluate future options. They have not ruled out a move to P1. “I want to compete at the highest level, obviously,” Penske said. A decision might be made by this season’s halfway point. AutoWeek
Smith wants to buy NHRAUPDATE #2 Speedway Motorsports track owner Bruton Smith says SMI will make a formal presentation in the next seven to ten days to purchase the National Hot Rod Association [NHRA]. The proposal was to be made last week however due to the death of the wife of NHRA director Wally Parks the meeting was postponed. “I hope that (the presentation) will mean something”, said Smith, "but we haven’t bought it yet. I expect to buy it but when I don’t know. They approached me about selling to me…that was the first indication and of course I got interested and so I’m still interested. They do what we do but in a different way…they forget to turn left…they go straight but they sell tickets and that’s what we do. If I buy it we’ll be doing the same thing.” If SMI completes purchase of the drag racing series Smith says the headquarters would be moved from Glendora, California to Las Vegas. PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show
[Editor's Note: Another example of the rich oval track cartel acquiring and taking over all forms of racing in the USA. Will they slowly kill off drag racing and funnel those sponsors toward NASCAR too? If so it will further feed the conspiracy theory that there are too many forms of racing and in the end there will only be NASCAR, just as there is one MLB, NHL, NBA and NFL]
04/06/05 A source close to the scene, who preferred to remain anonymous, gave Racing Milestones a little background: “Smith won’t be building any more tracks for NASCAR competition. If any are built, it will be ISC doing it. So that leaves SMI with no growth opportunity. That means there’s nothing to spike the stock, not a good position if you want to grow.” Racing Milestones source went on. “So what’s the next best option? NHRA. Why? Because Smith not only would get NHRA, but their tracks, too. I don’t see a sale of NHRA, but the sanctioning body might unload a couple of tracks in a hurry.” How many millions will he have to part with for NHRA? Who knows? A little history. When former racer and track owner Billy Meyer bought IHRA from Larry Carrier back in 1988, all he got was contracts for the various races and Drag Review. There were no tracks included in the sale. Then Meyer became interested in obtaining NHRA or merging the two sanctioning bodies. So maybe if Smith wants to learn the obstacles he faces in obtaining a non-profit sanctioning body such as NHRA and turning it into a for-profit deal, he might contact Meyer. And what does NHRA have to say about all this? It’s probably best explained in a release by Jerry Archambeault, the sanctioning body’s vice president of communications and public relations, which is simply: “NHRA is not in discussions with Bruton Smith regarding the purchase of NHRA.” Racing Milestones
04/03/05 Bruton Smith, president and chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports, said last week he wants to acquire the National Hot Rod Association, a California-based drag race sanctioning organization. The association presents 23 national drag racing events, including the O’Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. It also conducts a racing series for import cars and 47 regional races, and it sanctions more than 100 drag strips across the country. "This is something I’m very interested in," Smith said. "If the powers that be decide we can buy it, we want to buy it. I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls from racers who said they would appreciate it if we did that, and I think it fits with what we do." When asked about a sale, NHRA’s vice president of public relations and communications, Jerry Archambeault, read a brief statement in which he denied the association was talking to Smith. But Smith said he recently talked about a deal with Wally Parks, the organization’s founder and a member of its board of directors. Smith said he also discussed the possibility with association President Tom Compton last year. In addition to Bristol Dragway, Speedway Motorsports owns NHRA drag strips in Las Vegas and Sonoma, Calif. NHRA owns and operates drag strips in Gainesville, Fla.; Pomona, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis and Atlanta. Any purchase would include the tracks, all racing series, sanctioning agreements and a television agreement with ESPN. Bristol Herald Courier
Zim to sponsor MF1 Racing An Israeli shipping company called Zim is to sponsor MF1 Racing this year. The company will appear on the nose of the new M16 chassis. The company has plans to become a global shipping and logistics company. Zim is owned by the Ofer Brothers, some of the richest Israeli entrepreneurs, who are based in London. It is believed that the deal involves commercial deals between Zim and Alex Shnaider, the owner of Midland as both are heavily involved in shipping. Shnaider spent part of his youth in Israel and now owns the Dan Michzur metal recycling business based in Israel. Grandprix.com
Japan tobacco to withdraw from F1UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact.' See Hot News page for statement from Japan Tobacco. Can Marlboro be far behind? 01/31/06 Japan Tobacco will announce later today that it is withdrawing from Formula 1 at the end of the 2006 season. The company has been involved in the sport since 1992 when its Cabin brand sponsored Tyrrell and it switched to Benetton in 1994 with Mild Seven. The company has been the major sponsor of the team ever since, despite the fact that it was sold to Renault. The company says it is withdrawing in order to keep its commitment to the International Tobacco Products Marketing Standards which defines the minimum restrictions which the companies agree to place on themselves worldwide. This was agreed in September 2001 by representatives of Philip Morris, British American Tobacco (BAR) and Japan Tobacco (Renault) when they meet in New York to create a common code of advertising and sponsorship standards which included an agreement to end sports sponsorships on December 1 2006 on the understanding that the sport involved requires "above-average physical fitness for someone of the age group of those taking part".
"It has always been the greatest pleasure to work with such a committed partner as the Renault F1 team," says Seigo Nishizawa, the head of the company's tobacco business. in a copy of the release obtained by Grandprix.com. "Thanks to the team's remarkable achievements with their expertise and cutting edge technologies, the Mild Seven brand name and its Blue wind logo are now among the most recognizable brands in the world. I wish the team great success in 2006 and also for many years to come." Grandprix.com
Renault exit still unclear (GMMf1NET) In Monte Carlo on Tuesday, the reigning champion Renault team converged to launch an 'aggressive' defense of its 2005 grand prix crowns.
The fully liveried R26 racer, dubbed 'evolutionary' rather than radical and wearing the coveted number one, was on display for the world's media.
But with rumors of a possible exit from motor sport's biggest stage hanging in the air, many eyes and ears pointed towards Carlos Ghosn, the new CEO of Renault who is renowned for ruthlessly cutting costs.
But while there were no hints of an imminent quit strategy, he didn't exactly offer an iron-clad guarantee that the French carmaker is committed to plugging away on the grid.
Ghosn said: ''As long as we continue to perform well, we offer a good show, and obviously we are at the top level, then there are not questions about the future in formula one.''
He also referred to 'uncertainty' about the post-Concorde period, and advised that a carmaker is only interested if 'good, fair returns' can be assured.
A less polite team boss Flavio Briatore, on the other hand, slammed journalists for spreading 'false information' about Renault's speculated exit.
''These journalists need new jobs,'' the Italian fumed to the 'Evening Echo'.
''Renault want to stay in formula one under certain conditions which is the same as Mercedes, BMW, Honda and Toyota. Five of us want certain conditions.''
Elsewhere, at the Valencia test, Valentino Rossi bumbled around in the Ferrari garage but at the lunch break had still not turned a lap due to rain.
Red Bull eyes Champ Car, to drop CheeverUPDATE #11 We are downgrading this rumor to 'speculation.' According to AutoRacing1.com sources, don't expect to see Red Bull sponsor any car in the Champ Car World Series this year. After dumping their IRL Cheever Racing program, and based on the Red Bull boss' Helmut Marko's comments below, that was the assumption. However, NASCAR appears to have come in and stole the show. We are told they'll still do their personal sponsorships with drivers like Buddy Rice and A.J. Allmendinger, but won't sponsor any teams in open-wheel racing as they focus on the NASCAR side.
If true this may explain why there has been no announcements coming from the RuSPORT team and why their website has removed all mention of its sponsors except for series sponsors Ford and Bridgestone.
Could this mean they will sponsor the Atlantic series? We shall see, but as long as open wheel racing remains split in the USA, NASCAR and F1 are going to continue to take sponsors away from them. Many sponsors do not want to choose sides and marketing and sales types from both camps continue to undermine each other by saying "we're better than them." Many sponsors choose to not get involved in the battle and simply choose the peace of NASCAR or F1.
11/22/05 Our sources tell us to look for Red Bull to become the title sponsor of AJ Allmendinger's car at RuSPORT in Champ Car in 2006 - the energy drinks company really has their eye on AJ and they may sponsor his Champ Car for the next year or two in return for Carl Russo letting him out of his contract to go to the Red Bull Minardi team. Red Bull would very much like to have both Scott and AJ together in F1, depending on how each fares next year.
11/02/05 We hear that RuSPORT is poised to make some major sponsor announcements for next year. We assume the sponsors would be Red Bull, Intel and CDW, all of which we previously rumored. We also wonder if Western Union is still in the mix. If that is the lineup of sponsors, the team should run three cars in 2006. Unfortunately their shop space is limited because they still have not moved. Champ Car is in desperate need of more teams and/or cars for 2006 because supply won't equal demand. As we stated previously, that is limited by the availability of Lola chassis.'
10/29/05 Perhaps more evidence Red Bull is headed to Champ Car, we are hearing that Red Bull might pull their sponsorship from the Rolex Series’ Brumos Racing’s #58 Porsche-Fabcar DP next.
10/28/05 According to this Brazilian website, Red Bull, having dropped the Cheever IRL team, will become the primary sponsor of the RuSPORT Champ Car team in 2006.
Renault eye F1 exit?UPDATE #8 We are downgrading this rumor to 'false' - see Carlos Ghosn interview on out Hot News page.
01/07/06 Regarding Renault letting their popular champion Fernando Alonso out of his contract so easy, Paul Stoddart had this to say - "The message that sends out is; 'what are Renault's intentions for 07?' as a lot of people have been making predictions - rightly or wrongly - that they may get out of the sport at the end of 06 or 07," Stoddart said. "This move shows me that Renault were willing to let him go and that would not have happened without quite a lot of serious thought..."
01/04/06 A sign of Renault's attitude towards the value of F1 came in a press statement this morning giving details of the firm's sales figures in the last 12 months. The results show that the firm dropped 4.1% in Europe but made up for this with a 21% hike in international sales, which meant that overall the company increased sales by 1.7% to 2.53m vehicles.
It is perhaps significant that no mention was made of the value of Fernando Alonso's World Championship nor the Constructors' title while much was made of the success of the Dacia Logan. The only hint that there might be some effect from F1 was in the increase in sales of Renault cars in Spain, which were up 3.5% compared to France (2.7%) and Germany (1.9%). Elsewhere the numbers were down with Switzerland (minus 7.6%), Holland (minus 7%) and UK (minus 4.7%).
The company says that its top priority is profitability but intends to continue its international expansion at the same time. The company will present its medium term plans on February 9. Grandprix.com
Boris Said without a ride in '06? Boris Said hasn't heard his phone ring, so he is assuming he has no deal with sponsor Centrix and MB2 Motorsports for this year. The veteran road racer drove in nine races for the team in 2005. He said he was scheduled to run the Daytona 500 before the team was able to land Bill Elliott for that race. "The last I talked to Centrix, they shook my hand and said we're doing the Daytona 500 and haven't returned a phone call since," Said said Jan. 27. "I don't really know. I'm pursuing and looking for sponsors. I have something to offer to do a partial season and a chance to win two races, with a sponsor that maybe wants to get their feet wet. Maybe Centrix will return my calls, but right now, I don't know what to think but it's not good." Said will compete in the two Busch Series road course events with a "really great" team, he said. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
Peace is near in F1 (GMMf1NET) The prospect of peace in formula one took a further step forward late last week, when Bernie Ecclestone met with the remaining members of the carmakers' 'GPMA' faction.
It is suggested in the German press that representatives of Mercedes, Renault, BMW, Honda and Toyota sat down with the F1 supremo, as the likelihood of a 'breakaway' series for 2008 continues to diminish.
Ferrari, Williams, Red Bull's two teams and Midland (MF1) are already signed up to 75-year-old Bernie's new Concorde agreement for the five year period commencing after 2007.
Of the remaining teams, it is suggested that both Japanese carmakers, plus Renault, are ultimately likely to follow suit within time, leaving the hardliners - BMW and Stuttgart-based Mercedes-Benz - with no option.
With much of the money row seemingly settled, the final dispute is apparently about Max Mosley's intended 2008 rules.
''We are seeing some signs of getting closer, some compromise and some good discussions,'' Honda board member Yasuhiro Wada revealed last week.
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