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Why the delay in Long Beach? A reader asks, Dear Autoracing1, I’m starting to get the vibe that Dover Motorsports is delaying the Long Beach announcement so they can do it at Indianapolis. If they have already sold out to the IRL, making the announcement during the month of May would maximize the negative impact to Champ Car and probably start a whole new round of “Champ Car is dead” articles. It makes no sense to wait this long. The fans, the business owners and the City of Long Beach have all spoken, and they all want Champ Car. Why else would there be any delay? Renewing with Champ Car is a no-brainer. Mike Bara, Long Beach Dear Mike, We are told the process will take quite a long time. Both sides have made their initial presentations to Dover. Jim Michaelian said it would take 5 to 6 weeks. This of course puts it right smack in the middle of the month of May at Indy as you point out. Mark C.
IRL and NASCAR used Champ Car drivers A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, If the rumors of Patrick Carpentier already being tired of the IRL and Cheever Racing are true, it speaks volumes of just how that company is run. My guess is that he has seen and heard firsthand how business is done in snake land and doesn't like it one bit. I never was sure what the heck he was thinking switching series, but what do I know. I understand he wanted a shot at Indy, but why with Cheever, who everyone knows has a very strong distaste for Champ Car (CC). With Cheever being a CC hater and always being a back marker in the IRL, this relationship had doom written all over it right from the beginning. Perhaps this could lead to Carpentier's return to CC, before it is too late and his career is lost forever. Canada's Eric Jensen is still looking for a driver, with rumors of a Christian Fittipaldi return for one or more races. Maybe PKV would run a third car for Carpentier to get him back, (although that is not Jim McGee's wish).
The bottom line is Patrick Carpentier needs to be back in CC, not for the series, but for himself. If he does not get back ASAP, he will soon be forgotten, thanks to a young man by the name of Andrew Ranger. By the way, Michel Jourdain Jr., I hope you realize this too. You have become almost invisible in record time. Ditto for Christian Fittipaldi. He's become a nobody. The three of you have been used by the IRL and NASCAR for nothing more than publicity as they try to push in on Champ Car's ground. Deke McTeer, Twin Lake, MI
Gil de Ferran glad to be out of the IRL De Ferran's new job (with BAR Honda) is a 180-degree reversal from the Indy Racing League television commentary work he has been doing since retiring from the cockpit following the 2003 season. But in truth, Gil was always somewhat uncomfortable about his association with the IRL, where he was taken for the final two years of his driving career after CART founder Penske made the controversial switch to Tony George's series. ESPN.com
Toyota to build hybrid in USA The first gas-electric hybrid vehicle that Toyota Motor Corp. plans to make in North America will be the top-selling Camry sedan at the company's flagship plant in Kentucky, according to Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's leading business newspaper, citing company sources. Toyota's representatives in North America dismiss the report as speculative. "No decision has been made yet," said Daniel Sieger, a spokesman for Toyota's North American manufacturing operations. He reiterated Toyota's position: A decision is expected by the summer, and if Toyota chooses to assemble a hybrid in North America, it would most likely be at an existing plant. Detroit Free Press
Did NASCAR get Liberatore fired? A shake-up at the top of Fox's Speed Channel is the latest TV shock for NASCAR, and Fox's decision to let Jim Liberatore go as head of the cable channel leaves considerable uncertainty about just what's going on. Liberatore has been running Speed Channel, based in Charlotte, since Fox bought it four years ago. He cites "a difference in philosophies" for his departure. According to one source, Liberatore wanted to diversify Speed Channel again, to include a good mix of all racing. It has become predominantly NASCAR-oriented. There are also reports that the Speed Channel 's NASCAR Nation show will soon be dramatically revamped, in light of generally poor ratings. The show is likely to be cut from an hour to 30 minutes, and its focus is to change from hard racing reports to more soft entertainment features. Winston Salem Journal [Editor's Note: This is further evidence that the NASCAR monopoly needs to be broken up with an antitrust lawsuit. If Liberatore was fired because he wanted SPEED Channel to show a wide range of motorsports, yet the top brass wanted more NASCAR, then it is clear NASCAR is wielding far too much influence in the marketplace and at some point we would not be surprised to see the other racing sanctioning bodies ban together and file an antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR. There is mounting evidence that NASCAR is maneuvering to be the only game in town.]
Darlington race to be a selloutUPDATE Darlington Sellout: Darlington Raceway president Chris Browning had two reasons to celebrate Saturday. It was his birthday and he was assured that NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway would have its first sellout before race day and only the second since the track expanded to 60,000 seats in 1997. Browning said 428 tickets remained for the May 7 Nextel Cup race when he left the track around noon Saturday to celebrate his birthday with his oldest daughter in Columbia. That’s well under the range International Speedway Corporation requires for a sellout. The State04/25/05 Darlington Raceway officials hope to announce within the next two weeks their first sellout prior to race day since the track expanded to 60,000 seats in 1997. Only about 3,000 tickets remain for the first-ever night Nextel Cup race at Darlington on May 7. A sellout would enhance the track’s position to keep its remaining Cup date and make a case for expansion. The only other sellout since expansion came two years ago at the final running of the Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend. Track president Chris Browning is preparing a five-year plan that includes expansion for a presentation at the fall meeting of International Speedway Corporation board. The State
Champ Car, IRL, eye domed oval (No NASCAR)UPDATE #6 American developers planning to build a domed indoor race circuit in Plainfield, CN have received zoning approval for the project from the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission. In a vote on Monday evening the panel voted 3-2 in favor of re-zoning a 900 acre site and including the land in a recently established "resort/recreational development zone." Opponents of New England Raceway LLC's 140,000-seat racetrack plan have vowed to appeal the commission's decision. NER developer Gene Arganese said he planned to move forward with the project despite the prospect of legal challenges. Six appeals have already been filed against the commission's approval last month of the new resort/recreational development zone. Arganese said he plans to have his consultants begin design work early next week. He said the design process should take about five months, and he intends to bring the plans before the commission by January 2006. The $343 million project would include the racetrack, a convention centre, a 700-room hotel and 800,000-square-foot retail complex. He hopes to attract NASCAR, Busch, Indy and Champ Car events to the New England Raceway track, along with drag races, concerts and trade shows. 02/27/05 This Republican-American article has more information about this indoor track. The biggest revelation is that NASCAR has told the developer it would not consider a race there. Bob Lang, the Northeast Regional Director of the National Hot Rod Association, said his drag racing series would bring at least one, maybe two, events to the arena. The Indy Racing League and the Champ Car World Series also have shown interest, according to Arganese. But the big, bad daddy of auto racing -- NASCAR -- recently told The Day of New London earlier this month that it will not host any events at the track. That means no Nextel Cup Series, Busch Series or Craftsman Truck races. Whether or not that changes if Arganese's project is built remains to be seen. 12/29/04 Plans for an indoor NASCAR racetrack in eastern Connecticut are being resurrected. Trumbull developer Gene Arganese, who last month saw his plans for a 140,000-seat domed track rejected by Plainfield's planning and zoning commission, has revised the proposal and resubmitted it. The zoning board accepted two new plans from Arganese Tuesday night and set public hearings for Feb. 3.
The proposals call for adding a provision in town regulations allowing resort-recreation districts and designating 130 parcels off Interstate 395 for inclusion in such a district. A majority of zoning board members ruled that the revised plans are substantially different from the original proposal. Without that ruling, Arganese would have had to wait one year before he could refile the plans. Commission member John Meyer and alternate Sue Hatfield argued that there were no significant changes. "The biggest change is that uses that would be allowed by right will now be allowed by special permit," Meyer said. "But, they're still the same uses."
Arganese is pushing the $343 million plan, which includes the domed racetrack, a convention center, a 700-room hotel and 800,000-square-foot retail complex. Arganese hopes to attract NASCAR, Busch National, Indy and CART events to the New England Raceway track, along with drag races, concerts and trade shows. While Arganese said he was pleased with the commission's decision on Tuesday, racetrack opponents were equally disappointed. "This plan has divided families and pitted neighbor against neighbor," Kenneth Smiley, president of the "Stop the Track" group, said. "Now, we have to go through it all again." Smiley said a recent announcement by International Speedway Corp., which owns or operates 11 of NASCAR's major tracks, that it has paid $100 million to buy land on Long Island for a racetrack "makes it clear NASCAR is not coming here."NBC30.com
12/03/04 The developer of a proposed racetrack here has filed a revised zone-change request less than two weeks after the Planning and Zoning Commission rejected his prior submission. This time the proposed “text amendment” would require that the commission approve a special permit before any project could be built in a commercial/entertainment zone. The prior request, which the commission rejected 3-2 on Nov. 18, contained no such requirement, meaning the commission would have had to approve any project that met the regulations.
The requirement for a special permit is a substantial change, Zoning Enforcement Officer Ryan Brais said. It also means any project proposed for the zone would be subject to a public hearing. It would also give the commission the authority to demand changes to the plan and broad power to reject it, Brais said. A substantial change was required to get the zoning proposal back on the commission's agenda. Without a substantial change, the applicant would have to wait a year. The new proposal will be placed on the agenda of the commission's Dec. 14 meeting, said Brais, who expects the commission to schedule a public hearing at that time, probably for January. The amended commercial/entertainment zone, located in the area of the Plainfield Greyhound Park, would allow a multitude of developments with the approval of a special permit. These would include enclosed stadiums, a car-racing facility, restaurants, campgrounds, nightclubs and other entertainment-related activities. More at The Day
11/20/04 We are downgrading this rumor to 'false.' NASCAR -- or any other auto racing series -- won't be coming to town anytime soon. This northeast Connecticut town's Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday night dealt a fatal blow to plans for an indoor, 100,000-plus seat auto racetrack and convention center, rejecting a change to local zoning regulations that would have allowed the development. Commissioners voted 3-2 against the zoning change at a special meeting attended by about 250 people. Trumbull developer Gene Arganese -- who had initially proposed a track for North Stonington -- had pushed the $343-million plan, which included the domed racetrack, convention center, a 700-room hotel and 800,000-square-foot retail complex. Arganese had hoped to attract NASCAR, Busch National, Indy and CART events to the New England Raceway track, along with drag races, concerts and trade shows. Planning and Zoning Commission Chairwoman Gloria Rizer cast the deciding vote against the zone change, joining members John Dubois and John Meyer. Dennis Jolley and Ron Boisse voted for the racetrack. Rizer said it was the hardest decision she had to make while serving on the board. She agonized for several minutes before voting. Commission members opposed to the racetrack said the proposal would not be consistent with the town's plan of conservation and development. Arganese looked stunned after the vote. "We're going to regroup and see what we do next," he said. "We have other towns in mind. We have a backup location." 11/15/04 A Citizens' group is criticizing plans to build a domed race track in Plainfield, saying job creation predictions cannot be relied on because no agreements have been reached with major racing organizations. Concerned Citizens for the Quiet Corner, one of three groups opposing the track, said information contained in a recent economic impact study isn't accurate because it assumes the track will lure high-profile Tier One racing events. "I would think they would have some sort of commitment in line for Tier One events, but, in reality, they don't have any," said the group's president, Dave Ertsgard. The study, prepared by the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut, predicts the track and surrounding facilities would provide a total of 6,145 jobs at the beginning, and the number would grow to 8,750 jobs by 2007. The survey predicted those jobs would decline to 5,910 by 2025. Ertsgard said 3,784 jobs would be construction jobs that would only last two years. He also said the facility could only support many of the permanent jobs if it got solid commitments for big racing events. 11/07/04 This The Day article says, New England Raceway, which once planned on building its track in North Stonington, expects its proposed stadium in Plainfield to host one NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race, two NASCAR Busch Series races or two Champ Car World Series (formerly CART) races, and two Indy Racing League races annually, according to a presentation made to the Planning and Zoning Commission in September and repeated in the economic impact study.
Arganese has no commitments from any racing organizations, a fact he says is not surprising given the project is in the early, planning stage. Representatives from the Champ Car World Series and the Indy Racing League said they had not heard of the proposed track and had not been contacted by Arganese. NASCAR, the kingpin of car racing, says it has no interest.
“NASCAR has nothing to do with this man or his project,” said NASCAR General Council Gary Crotty. Crotty sent letters to Arganese in December 2003 and June 2004 asking him to refrain from giving the impression NASCAR has any affiliation with the raceway proposal or any commitment to hold races there.
NASCAR has no plans to expand its Nextel Series or Busch Series schedules, Crotty said. If the organization moves any of its races to different venues, they would have to be state-of-the-art facilities located in major metropolitan areas in the northeast, not in towns the size of Plainfield, he said. “Whatever decisions people are making, don't make them depending on any expectation this track will ever hold a Nextel event,” Crotty said.
Other race associations are keeping a more open mind. Though unfamiliar with the New England Raceway proposal until contacted by The Day, Champ Car World Series is interested in the idea, said Joe Chrnelich, executive vice president for development, government affairs and planning. He called the proposal “a huge vision.”
Champ Car World Series wants to establish more East Coast races, and New England has population density, a strong corporate base, strong markets and “rabid sports fans,” Chrnelich said. A domed track would make weather less of a concern for a New England track, he said.
Before Champ Car World Series would sign a contract for hosting a race at a venue like the one proposed by New England Raceway, the racing organization would have to be satisfied the project had the necessary government approvals, met the track and safety requirements of Champ Car races, was located in a viable market and had an experienced promoter, Chrnelich said.
The National Hot Rod Association says it is interested in the proposed raceway in Plainfield because it would include a drag strip. “There are no drag strips in Connecticut, Rhode Island or Massachusetts,” said NHRA Northeast Division Director Bob Lang, who contacted Arganese after learning of his proposal.
But the organization has stopped short of committing to the track, declining to give Arganese a letter of commitment as the developer requested.
Indy Racing League executives have not been contacted by Arganese and were unfamiliar with the New England Raceway proposal until contacted by The Day last month. “We're certainly going to take a good, long, hard look at any facility that is built,” said , said IRL spokesman John Griffin, declining to elaborate further on the point.
Indy Racing League is expanding its schedule, adding a 17th race to the 2005 season and hoping to hold as many as 20 races a year, Griffin said. Indy Racing League has occasionally awarded two racing events in one year to one venue. In 2004 Texas Motor Speedway hosted two of the organization's 16 events. The 2005 season features 17 races at 17 different tracks.
While Arganese has talked of also attracting concerts, trade shows and other events to his domed stadium, car racing is the critical component. A venue dependent on concerts, exhibitions and trade shows instead of racing may or may not be successful, Carstensen said, but there's no way to know unless such plans are studied.
Will Mercedes-Benz remain in F1? Is Mercedes-Benz fully committed to Formula One? New CEO of parent company DaimlerChrysler, Eckhard Cordes, admitted that recent quality problems - including millions of road car recalls - would cost a 'three figure sum in a million euros' to fix.
Slashing F1 partner McLaren's engine program, then, might be a handy way to cover the cost. He told Car magazine: ''We are committed to F1 for 2005. Anything else is pure speculation.''
Cordes, in the interview, also admitted to being primarily a 'numbers man', motivated by the desire to make money. ''If a program does not pay off,'' he explained, ''it is not going to happen. ''But I am ... also a car guy.''
Another new F1 team? Plans are well advanced for a second Australian-owned F1 team. 36-year-old engineer Mark Preston, who has worked for Arrows and McLaren, is compiling an all-new grid attack. The Oxford-based Aussie reportedly has a ready-made team HQ lined up, experienced ex-Arrows and Ferrari man Paul Bowen as chief designer, and is now seeking a financial backer.
'Preston Racing' may attempt Le Mans prior to F1, Motor Racing Australia magazine said. ''I am pretty much hooked on F1,'' Mark commented. ''If it's the same as everything else I've done ... it shouldn't be too much of a problem.''
Montoya return delayed until Monaco? There is much speculation that Juan Montoya will also miss the Spanish GP this coming weekend because he simply has not had enough time to heal, having broke the scapula, a very large bone in the back of the shoulder. To understand why we doubt he will make the is weekend's race after being out just five weeks, read on.
The scapulas are the large, flat, triangular bones that form the back part of the shoulder. They are covered by muscles on both surfaces which attach to the ribs and spine and then to the muscles of the arm.
The scapula and humerus form the glenohumeral joint. This is what you would normally think of as your ‘shoulder joint’. The glenohumeral joint is a ball-and-socket joint, consisting of the head of the humerus (ball) and the glenoid fossa (socket), which is formed by a slightly hollowed portion of the end of the shoulder blade.
The scapula can be fractured in 3 different areas: the body of the scapula; the neck of the scapula or glenoid (which connects the humerus—upper arm bone—to the shoulder joint); or the acromion process (which connects to the acromioclavicular joint bone in the shoulder).
Because a fracture of the body of the scapula is often associated with other, more serious injuries, like those suffered in a motorcycle accident, diagnosis of a fracture of the body of the scapula is often overlooked. It is commonly associated with rib fractures.
If the fracture is not associated with other life-threatening injuries, a sling or shoulder immobilizer may be used for 1-to-2 weeks until the pain subsides. Soon after, light exercises for the shoulder area are recommended.
Many fractures of the scapula result from high-impact accidents, such as being thrown from a motorcycle. Almost nine times out of 10, those with fractures of the scapula also suffer from life-threatening injuries, including rib fractures, lung injuries, head and spinal chord injuries.
If asked to move their arm, patients with a broken scapula cannot do so without extreme pain. If there is no feeling in the arm, physicians will check for nerve injury in the neck and shoulder regions. Dynomed.com
Bremer to test?UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact.' We confirmed with the team that Ronnie Bremer is staying with HVM, and they are testing both of their drivers, Wirdheim and Bremer, this week at Milwaukee. Despite the speculation, they are their drivers for the year! Mark C.05/02/05 Although he's not listed on the Milwaukee Mile roster of Champ Car drivers testing at the famous oval this week, Ronnie Bremer has told Danish sources that he will test on the Milwaukee oval track in the coming days. That’s the first real news since Long Beach that indicates he will stay on with HVM Racing. There was some speculation that Long Beach may have been a 1-race contract deal. Apparently not..
Sauber needs more money Is Sauber another team on the brink of financial ruin? Team boss Peter Sauber says he can't afford to pay for changes necessary to their C24 to improve its performance. "The Michelin tire needs more weight on the front end of the car, so you would design a car with the engine moved forward and with a longer gearbox,” the Swiss revealed. “Michelin tires also require different settings of the suspension which ultimately would lead to another gearbox,” he added, before admitting his squad’s inability to perform such alterations: “All that, given our financial background, is simply not possible to do with the C24."
Seattle track getting closer Grant Lynch, who runs Talladega Speedway and is heading NASCAR's Northwest search for land and political support for a new speedway, is putting a full-court press on in the Seattle-Portland area. "I've been out there 11 or 12 trips, and we're getting a warm reception from the political side," Lynch said. "The one thing I've learned is the tribes are a big part of their community, and they have a lot of land. We've looked at some tribal lands. "But the site we're looking at most right now is not on tribal land. It's a nice site, within 30 miles of Seattle. And we are looking at other sites, too." The timetable? "If everything fell exactly in place, you might get ready for 2009, but 2010 is a more reasonable option," Lynch said. Winston Salem Journal
FOX and NBC to renew NASCAR’s next TV contract, which will begin with the 2007 season, should be completed by year-end, according to a NASCAR source close to the situation. The source said signs are positive that all of NASCAR current television partners will re-up for a second contract. Look for a substantial increase in $2.4 billion rights fee paid over the six years of the first contract, which runs from 2001-2006. The NFL recently signed a lucrative $8 billion contract extension, and that, combined with strong ratings generated by the first NASCAR Nextel Chase for the Championship last fall, should mean more money for NASCAR this time around. Speed Channel
Russian moguls eye up Rover ruins The future of MG Rover could be decided in Russia following reports that administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers have received approaches from metals mogul Oleg Deripaska and Nikolai Smolenski, owner of sports carmaker TVR. Mr Deripaska - a close friend of the Chelsea football club chairman Roman Abramovich - already owns Ruspromavto, maker of Volga cars, and is said to be keen to expand his business interests in Britain. Yesterday's Mail on Sunday quoted Alexander Yushkevich, deputy chairman of Ruspromavto as saying Mr Deripaska, whose multi-billion dollar fortune is based on his acquisition of Russian Aluminium, was keeping a close eye on developments at Longbridge. The Guardian
Charpentier back to DEI The #14 ppc Racing Cup team is being dismantled, and it's not surprising that crew chief Dave Charpentier has returned to Dale Earnhardt Inc. The #14 team was in existence for just a few months, so don't expect Charpentier to take any of Ford's secrets to Chevrolet. Sporting News
Crate engines proposed for big tracks Detroit executives have proposed to NASCAR that the sanctioning body switch to crate engines at Daytona and Talladega as a cost-cutting measure for the Busch series. Crate engines would be formula engines built to identical standards, IROC-style; they could be mass produced for maybe $8,000 apiece, considerably less than $60,000-plus Daytona/Talladega Busch engines currently used. NASCAR already hands out identical shocks and springs at Daytona and Talladega. Winston Salem Journal
Gambling sites want to sponsor NASCAR teams When NASCAR lifted the hard liquor sponsorship embargo, did it open a Pandora's box? The next wave of sponsors pushing to get into the garage are Internet gambling sites, which have approached several teams with big checks but have not yet gotten the green flag from NASCAR. Sporting News
Car of The Future delay Under pressure from race teams, NASCAR might delay the debut of the "car of the future" until the end of 2007 and the "common" engine until 2008. Many engine builders fear teams could be crushed financially if they're left with large inventories of obsolete engines. But to even the playing field and prepare for Toyota's expected arrival in the Cup series, NASCAR is looking at controlling cars from the tires up. Sporting News
How real is the LA race?UPDATE #2 Another reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, If Champ Car does indeed have serious thoughts about running a race in L.A. then they should move forward with those plans regardless of the outcome in Long Beach. The coverage they would receive in Tinseltown would be much welcomed. Anyone who says that two races held in such close proximity would not work obviously do not comprehend just the enormous amount of people that live in the Southern California area. Champ Car could easily play off of the two races as a real battle between neighbors just as they could with Surfers Paradise and Adelaide, (although the latter two are much further apart). If Champ Car does not get the Long Beach race then they already have the L.A. race in the bank anyhow. If Champ Car misses out on retaining LB, then they could possibly check out Phoenix. Although I do not know how wide or narrow the streets are there, surely they would not be any more narrow than LB. I do know that Phoenix for the last 5-7 years has been the fastest growing city in the U.S. and is located in a nice proximity compared to L.A. (approx. 6 hours), and is absolutely beautiful with fantastic weather. Surely the people of Phoenix would welcome something new to the area other than just oval racing on a short 1 mile track. Hey, if the NHL can put a hockey team there, then street racing, (along with Formula Drifting), should pull in a nice crowd. Champ Car has some good ideas and are on the way up again. If they could find a way to create some real competition between cities it would then in itself create competition between sponsors, meaning some much needed income for Champ Car in the way of race sponsorship, track signage, corporate suites and pure fan attraction. Just a thought. Deke McTeer, Twin Lake, MI Dear Deke, Champ Car's contract with Dover probably precludes them from racing within "X" miles of Long Beach unless Dover was also the promoter of that event as well. Certainly Champ Car is moving ahead with their LA plans, they have to be, just in case they lose LB. However, rest assured if they keep LB, they will drop their LA plans. As for Phoenix, they could go back to that city and replace the IRL on the oval if the rumors of ISC divorcing the IRL at that 1-mile track are true. However, it's more likely a street race in Phoenix would interest them more. Do I see it happening? No. Mark C.04/30/05 A reader adds, Los Angeles Politics and the Entertainment industry are something that TG does not have a clue about! Paul Newman can open just about any door in the City, City Hall and / or the Hollywood Entertainment industry . Not only does Kevin have a key player in Newman, but the potential revenues of a Champ Car event could produce several times any possible IRL event in the area; Long Beach or other. I almost hope that the IRL gets Long Beach to see this thing play out! Richard Bowden Dear Richard, That's crazy. Champ Car is Long Beach and there's no reason to wish they lose it. However, we have little doubt a race could be successful in LA, around the Staples Center for example, but Long Beach has a great history and would be their first choice. Mark C.04/29/05 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Is there really any truth to Kevin Kalkhoven's threat to hold a race in Los Angeles if Champ Car loses Long Beach? Dave Burns, Los Angeles, CA. Dear Dave, Kalkhoven's statement was not a threat against Long Beach. Champ Car loves Long Beach and they hope very much to be back. However, if Tony George is successful in taking yet something else from Champ Car, don't look for Champ Car to just go away and lick its wounds. The nonsense with Tony George taking everything from CART/Champ Car will no longer come down without a counterattack. As Tony George found out in CART bankruptcy court and again recently when he tried to buy Cosworth, the new owners of Champ Car are prepared to go to battle and win. No more bending over and taking it up the you know what.
It is important to understand that Champ Car wishes Long Beach no harm, but that does not mean the city might not become a victim of the crossfire between Champ Car and the IRL. Champ Car didn't start the war, Tony George did, and he will have to deal with the consequences of his actions should Champ Car elect to run a race in the LA market, an important market for any race series.
Los Angeles is a major city and the media coverage in LA will dwarf Long Beach. All the major TV stations in LA hardly take notice of Long Beach. Not so when they have their own race. Can Champ Car pull it off in time? One need look no further than San Jose, which recently moved the entire race track three months before the event, to see what can be done in a very short time. With that said, we're all hoping it does not come to that. Mark C.
Is Porsche looking to go IRL racing?UPDATE Roger Penske usually likes to make a splash when he announces a new racing endeavor. But recently The Captain seemed to go to great depths to downplay his entry with Porsche into the American Le Mans Series. There was a press conference at Road Atlanta but media members in attendance were told there would be no Q & A session because one of the parties "didn't want to answer any questions." Gee, you don't suppose that was Roger do you?
First off, this was a major triumph for the ALMS in its war with Grand Am for sports car superiority. And a major slap in the face to Jim France's series. Penske, still thought to be one of the majority stock holders in International Speedway Corporation, is obviously a partner and confidant of the France family. He sold all his race tracks to them and then gave NASCAR's supposed partner, the Indy Racing League, a big jolt of credibility when he left Championship Auto Racing Teams for the IRL in 2002.
Earlier this year at Homestead, Fla. some of Penske's key people were checking out all the Grand Am's equipment and it seemed a given that the most successful team in American open-wheel racing would be joining this France promotion. But not only did Penske throw in with the enemy, he went with the hobby stocks instead of the late models. Rather than running the full-blooded prototype LMP1 to do battle with Audi, The Captain chose the LMP2 -- which is kinda like going Toyota Atlantic instead of Champ Car or the Infiniti Pro Series instead of Indy cars.
And there's also a faction of folks who believe Porsche's 3.5-liter V-8 may wind up in Penske's Indy car after Toyota leaves. Derrick Walker isn't one of them. "I'd be surprised if the IRL were a fit for them (Porsche) at this time," said Walker, who ran Porsche's CART effort following Al Holbert's death and also competed in the 1989 Indy 500 with the German manufacturer. "I still talk to those people on a regular basis and I think they're getting serious about sports cars again." Walker is much closer to the Porsche folks than most and he also knows plenty about Penske since he worked for R.P. for many years. SPEEDTV.com
04/27/05 We highly doubt this rumor but we publish what we hear. This week's National Speed Sport News has an article that says (key excerpts) - Questions were being asked this week in the wake of the announcement at Road Atlanta that Roger Penske had signed on to introduced Porsche's first prototype in more than half a decade to the American Le Mans Series in 2006 as to whether or not there was anything more to the deal than an ALMS effort.
Earlier this past winter there had been suggestions that the German car maker would also build and race an LMP1 category spyder, a project said to be based largely on its LMP2 entry, but with an up-rated engine, possibly turbocharged. However, more current reports indicate that the LMP1 now is in considerable doubt in the wake of suggestions that Porsche's management would only undertake such a project if it could be "guaranteed" success.
What has attracted the interest of the industry in light of Porsche's reported position is why a team of such stature like Penske Racing, which is known for competing at the highest levels of the sport, should undertake a program that is dedicated to a subordinate category. Many insiders suggest that one possible attraction during the negotiations that led to the agreement could well have been a Penske attempt on the Le Mans 24 Hours; one of the few major events the American has not yet won. However, others suggested that at 3.4 liters, a destroked version of the V8 could bring Porsche back to the Indianapolis 500 under the Penske banner.
While Penske has denied that there is "an IRL future" for the German powerplant, and while Porsche itself has remained silent on the issue, some industry observers [Editor's Note: Who are these so-called Industry Observers? We suspect someone who is concerned about the IRL's future if Toyota and Honda leave is reaching for straws or trying to start a rumor to make Toyota and Honda think twice about leaving] have said that such a scenario might well be possible in 2007, if the IRL provides a place for full, custom-built racing V8s in its new engine regulations scheduled to go into effect that January.
That position is bolstered by the rumored departure of Toyota from the IRL for a NASCAR Nextel Cup program, something that would leave Penske without an engine supplier at that point. Further, while the IRL is said to be studying the option of incorporating Detroit-based push-rod V8s in its new rules, if as an option, or possibly as the sole option, few would deny that the sagging fortunes of the IRL might well be boosted if Porsche were to enter the series. In fact, there are those who have said that the presence of the German factory might well spur Honda, and perhaps even Toyota to remain as part of the IRL family.
At this point, though, all that appears certain is the fact that the cost to Porsche for the design and development of its new LMP2 V8 is large enough to ensure that it has intended uses beyond the second banana LMP2 ALMS division. This plus Penske's prior history is what is fueling the speculation, which probably won't be answered for some time to come.
What’s really going on with engines in F1UPDATE Rumor has it that Red Bull's two-year engine deal with Ferrari, complete with an option to buy further components, such as the gearbox, cost them $20 million per year despite the fact the Ferrari V8 was five million dollars more than a Honda deal, who they were also talking to. Red Bull opted for the Ferrari engines despite the fact Sauber never showed well with Ferrari engines. Clearly there are politics going on behind the scenes and some are speculating that now that Champ Car owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe own Cosworth, neither of whom are in the "F1 inner-circle," there is a political move afoot to remove Cosworth from the F1 paddock by getting each team hooked up with engines that are backed by a major car company. Cosworth engines have no major car company badging their engines like when Ford put their name on them, and without that, their days in F1 may be numbered. 04/24/05 With Red Bull signing with Ferrari yesterday, Sauber will almost certainly be powered by a BMW engine in 2006. Hinwil chief Peter Sauber, after nearly a decade in alliance with the Prancing Horse, revealed that Red Bull will likely be the only customer of Ferrari next year.
BMW motorsport director Dr Mario Theissen, meanwhile, said recently that the probability that a '06 customer engine deal will be penned is 'higher than fifty percent.'
Kalkhoven and his board of directors flew on his private jet to Imola to discuss the future with the Sauber team management, only to arrive on Saturday to find they announced a deal with Ferrari. We hear Kalkhoven was livid at the way Cosworth has been treated - having specifically asked the team whether the trip would be worthwhile.
The Midland team had previously held an option with Ferrari, but that expired on March 31st and they are likely to re-sign with Toyota for less money than Ferrari was asking and their engines make more HP than Ferrari. However, the team is due to meet with Cosworth this weekend.
We should not be too fast to think Kevin Kalkhoven was outmaneuvered in F1, he usually does not get outmaneuvered in anything. He (Cosworth) is in negotiations with Williams which rumors suggest are in the advanced stages.... Moreover, it may be that Red Bull realized if Williams became a Cosworth customer that Red Bull would be the 'Red Headed Step Child' on par with Minardi and only second or third in line for first generation Cosworth engines and updates.
Additionally, Red Bull has quickly become known as a very political team within the industry. The Red Bull/Ferrari deal explains the team's recent attendance at an FIA meeting (thereby siding with Ferrari) boycotted by the other 'group of nine' teams - with the exception of Midland. Let's not forget that Max Mosley and Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz are close friends. Helmut Marko, who is notoriously anti-American yet he has had to get in line with the Mateschitz business mandate to increase brand awareness and sales in their most important market - America, pretty much leads Mateschitz around by the nose.
The assurances and representations made to the senior staff at Jaguar immediately after the purchase proved that Mateschitz's word is worthless with the sacking of two very well respected F1 insiders -Pitchforth and Purnell - that had engineered the turnaround evident at the first race yet it now appears Red Bull Racing is going backwards without their guidance. While Marko currently exerts a tremendous amount of influence on Mateschitz it was Mateschitz that overruled Marko on hiring Coulthard something Pitchforth and Purnell had demanded. Marko fought to keep Coulthard out and now continues to insist they should dump Coulthard at the end of the season, yet the engineering department values Coulthard greatly and many within the team are fed-up with Marko's interference and politics and there is a consensus that Marko is in over his head.
Many industry insiders believe that unless Mateschitz can convince Gerhard Berger to come on as Managing Director, or at least Sporting Director, the team will plummet down the grid. While Mateschitz has been sending his plane for Berger and meetings have been taking place not many believe that Berger will take the job which would be a big relief to Marko as it would clearly leave Marko outside looking in and put him back bullying drivers in F3 and endurance racing at best.
Oh, and by the way Sauber has had Ferrari engines for years at great cost, and the cost to Red Bull is rumored to be even steeper, and what has it done for the competitiveness of Sauber....not much. Therefore, we think Williams will go with Cosworth as their V8 engine is likely to be very competitive. The only sticking point is whether Kalkhoven and co-owner Gerald Forsythe can find an engine manufacturer to badge their Cosworth V8 in 2006. We can't see Williams running without manufacturer support behind them. Mark C.
Overheard in the F1 paddock Word in the F1 paddock is that Honda is now squeezing 930 hp out of its latest V10 and in Imola their new seamless gearshift was worth 0.4 seconds per lap, as a driver shifts seven times from 6th to 7th gear. McLaren runs a similar system while Williams, Ferrari and Renault are said to not be ready with their version until next year. Renault might get theirs out sooner, having recently hired one of the BAR engineers involved in the construction of this gearbox.
McLaren rumors Although there has been no official statement from McLaren it is likely that Alex Wurz will again drive in Barcelona, should Montoya not be able to return from his broken shoulder injury. McLaren tested a revised front suspension in Jerez this week and we hear they are happy with the results. We also hear that Mercedes will have an updated V10 with an extra 12 hp.
Friction developing between Williams teammates The first shots in what could be a war of words was fired by BMW WilliamsF1's Mark Webber at, somewhat surprisingly, teammate Nick Heidfeld. Webber claims that Nick is not trying hard enough and that he takes the easy option during a race rather than pushing hard.
In the Australian media Mark spoke of how he felt that Nick was not trying hard enough. That he would settle for a place rather than pushing his car to fight for that extra place in the results. "Nick just sits there. He's happy to do that. I refuse to sit there. I'm going to try. I don't want to settle for seventh or eighth.
"I don't think I've been beaten by a teammate when I've finished, apart from last weekend. Even in the races where I've had a DNF, I've been ahead of my teammate at the time."
One wonders whether Mark's criticism of Heidfeld is based on the fact that he has yet to achieve a good result for the team, where as Nick has secured a third placed podium finish. Is this becoming a source of frustration for the Australian, especially as Mark has made several driving errors in races, including spinning out in Bahrain and in the last race at San Marino. Sportsnetwork.net
Kenny Wallace team in hot water Kenny Wallace's #00 team could be in big trouble with NASCAR after inspectors at Talladega Superspeedway confiscated a trick rear-end housing from the team, owned by Michael Waltrip. A fine is expected, and some speculate it'll be $50,000, because the design might be considered a safety issue. Winston Salem Journal
Michelin wants to replace Goodyear Michelin, through its B.F. Goodrich subsidiary, has expressed official interest in becoming a tire provider for the major NASCAR series, but the ruling body’s chief operating officer, George Pyne, said, “Nothing is imminent.” Pyne said any change in tire providers would not occur within the next two years, stressing that NASCAR was “loyal to Goodyear.” The tire company’s stock was trading at $11.87 per share on Friday, below the $20 at its 2002 high, but better than most of the years since. J.P. Morgan recently upgraded its investment rating for the company, which announced in February it was projecting a 2005 fourth-quarter profit. Gaston Gazette
Sirius to buy out XM contract NASCAR's new satellite network radio deal with Sirius may kick off sooner than originally planned, according to NASCAR sources who say Sirius may buy out the last year of XM Radio's contract and take over the exclusive NASCAR franchise. Winston Salem Journal
Superfund Series trying to relaunch in Asia Formula Superfund, the single-seater championship built out of the old Euro3000 series, will be relaunched for an Asian market next month. formula-3000.net has learned that Martin Schneider, the head of racing development at Superfund, is currently touring Asia negotiating with circuits for the new championship.
Formula Superfund had originally been planned as a European series, but those plans were abandoned at the start of the year after a major accident in testing set back the development of the car.
Organizers were said to be concerned that by starting the season later, they would be at a disadvantage in the competitive European single-seater market, where there are two formula 3000 championships in addition to GP2 and the Renault World Series.
Asia is a new market for single-seaters at this level, however it is one which has proven hard to break in the past. Formula Nippon, which is hugely popular in Japan, struggled to attract spectators when it raced at Malaysia's Sepang circuit last season, and this year's calendar has reverted to an All-Japan format. Meanwhile the Australian-based F4000 cancelled it's Asia winter series, which was due to run on two weekends in China. [Editor's Note: We are aware that Schneider is talking to some of the same race promoters in Asia that Champ Car is talking too. If he thinks he is going to run the Superfund Series as a standalone series he's pipe-dreaming. There is no way the Superfund Series will be popular enough to pay for Schneider's ambitious plans. As they failed in Europe, so too will they fail in Asia. The best thing Schneider can do, though we doubt his pride will allow it, is to take all the money he is plowing into starting his own series and do a deal with Champ Car that will see them be the title sponsor of Champ Car. As far as exposure for Superfund goes, it would be much better and the Champ Car series would be called the Superfund Champ Car World Series. In addition, the wonderful car they designed (Screaming Ethanol V10 in a John Travis designed chassis) could form the basis from which Champ Car could start to develop the specifications for their new 2007 car]
Did Harvick get ’The Call’? A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, It never ceases to amaze me how the NASCAR bubbas don't see what I think I see, NASCAR's manipulation of the qualifying times to conveniently give a driver pole. Their latest opportunity was this weekend. Harvick drives in place of Dale Earnhardt, the NASCAR hero that was killed. Earnhardt, who would have been 54 Friday (how convenient, let the bleeding hearts cheer), won nine races at Talladega, making Childress the winningest car owner to compete there. Mysteriously Harvick picked up considerably from his practice speeds Friday with a qualifying lap of 189.804 mph that was virtually unchallenged. It's NASCAR's timing and scoring system. Can they program it to show a qualifying time that would put the driver they want on pole? Hector Rodriguez, Mexico City Dear Hector, Yes, they can program their timing and scoring system to display a time for any driver they want to be on pole. And while it happens quite often, there is no evidence that NASCAR does this so it makes no sense to make accusations without hard evidence. Even if they did, it does not really affect the outcome of the race, it just gives a little free PR where NASCAR might like some. Mark C.
Fittipaldi linked to possible Jensen driveUPDATE Comparing the Champ Car calendar with the Brazilian Stock Car calendar, we discovered that Christian Fittipaldi will be able to run 10 Champ Car races.
NOKIA STOCK CAR SERIES May 1 - Interlagos May 15 - Curitiba June 19 - Rio July 3 - Interlagos July 24 - Curitiba August 28 - Londrina September 18 - Brasilia October 2 - Santa Cruz do Sul October 16 - Tarumã October 30 - Goiânia/Buenos Aires (Argentina) November 13 - Rio November 27 - Interlagos
BOLD are the events that Christian Fittipaldi would be able to run at Champ Car:
CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES
May 22 - Monterrey June 4 - Milwaukee June 19 - Portland June 26 - Cleveland July 10 - Toronto July 17 - Edmonton July 31 - San José August 14 - Denver August 28 - Montreal September 24 - Las Vegas October 16 - South Korea October 23 - Australia November 6 - México City
04/28/05 According to the Toronto Star, Eric Jensen has approached former Champ Car World Series driver Christian Fittipaldi for a one-off drive at the Monterrey, Mexico race in place of Fabrizio del Monte who struggled at Long Beach. "At the end of the day I'm running a business and I have to pay the bills,” Jensen told the Canadian newspaper. “The more money I can bring in the better it is for the team, the better I can make things; I can get more spare parts and do more testing."
“If the conditions were right, I’d love to do it,” Fittipaldi, who drove in the CCWS from 1995 to 2002, told Autosport magazine. “But I wouldn’t be able to do a whole season, because I have made other commitments,” [Editor's Note: He has a contract to drive in the Brazilian stock car series].
Major Announcement Scheduled for Brickyard 400UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Allstate announced a title sponsorship deal for the Brickyard 400. The August race, which will be renamed the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, will have a title sponsor for the first time in its history. Along with the Indy sponsorship, Allstate also announced its official partnership with NASCAR, becoming the official life, home and auto insurance company of NASCAR. The multi-year, multimillion-dollar deal will give Allstate exclusivity in the insurance category. See Hot News page for full story. 04/27/05 Word is that a major announcement of historical and economic significance regarding the Brickyard 400 will be made at 1 p.m. (local time) Thursday, April 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Rumors suggest another race could be added to that weekend's schedule, but that is unconfirmed.
No rest for Newman/HaasUPDATE The Multimatic Technical Centre (MTC) and Dynamic Suspensions North America are located in Markham (i.e. north of Toronto). 04/27/05 It's widely believed that one of the reasons the Newman/Haas team is so successful is their damper program. The Championship leaders are not resting on their laurels. According to reports, a Newman/Haas transporter was seen heading south on Hwy 404 (north of Toronto) on Tuesday evening about 6:30pm. What could it have been doing there, especially north of Toronto? Speculation is that the team was coming back from some 7-post rig testing of one of their Lolas fitted with Multimatic's Dynamic suspension dampers, which Newman/Haas cars used exclusively up until this year. Multimatic has a Toronto Facility.
'Quick' Nick on the move Williams' Nick Heidfeld; as quick as teammate Mark Webber, but not nearly as secure? Grove principal and co-owner Sir Frank Williams told Germany's 'Bild' publication that the 27-year-old - favored by BMW - is a 'fundamental' part of the team. But, on a single year contract, he'll almost certainly make way for the unconfirmed-but-probable Webber/Jenson Button pairing in 2006. ''I am very content with our current driver lineup,'' Frank - no longer an admirer of four-year driver contracts - insisted.
Toyota (not Honda) may raise prices to aid GM and FordUPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false,' Toyota Motor Corp. said on Tuesday it would not raise its car prices to help U.S. rivals, breaking with its chairman's comments a day earlier that voluntary price increases and other steps were in order to help restore health to the U.S. auto industry. "Our basic stance is that prices are something for the market to determine," a spokesman at Japan's top automaker said. "We are not thinking about changing (vehicle) prices in order to help the U.S. auto industry." Japanese brands collectively grabbed a record 30 percent share of the U.S. auto market last year, and some executives have become more sensitive about how their companies' success would play out at the political level At the Detroit auto show last January, Toyota President Fujio Cho and Honda Motor Co. Chief Executive Takeo Fukui said Japanese brands' expansion in the United States should not go unchecked, with Fukui volunteering that the combined share should be kept under 40 percent. "I'm worried not only about GM but about the entire U.S. auto industry," Toyota Chairman Hiroshi Okuda told a news conference on Monday as the head of Japan's biggest business lobby, the Japan Business Federation. "Automobiles are the symbol of American industry, and if things go wrong there may be some kind of impact. Reuters04/27/05 Honda Motor Co., which earns almost two-thirds of its annual operating profits from the United States, said it won't raise vehicle prices in the world's largest vehicle market because it doesn't want to deter customers. "There is no way Honda will increase prices and ignore our customers" in the United States, Honda's executive vice president Koichi Amemiya said at a news conference Tuesday in Tokyo. "Price increases should be decided depending on market conditions."
Amemiya's comment contradicts those made Monday by Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of Toyota Motor Corp., and the Japan Business Federation. Okuda, head of Japan's largest business association, was reported by the Asahi newspaper as saying that Japanese carmakers might raise prices in the United States to give General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group "some breathing space." "I'm concerned about the current situation GM is in," Okuda said, in comments verified Monday by the federation's spokeswoman Hisako Komai. Okuda could not be reached Tuesday to comment. "There are no discussions among Japanese carmakers on this" plan to raise prices, Honda's Amemiya said Tuesday. Detroit Free Press
04/26/05 Toyota Motor Corp.'s chairman suggested Monday the Japanese carmaker may consider raising the prices of the cars it sells in the United States to help support its ailing U.S. peers, Kyodo News reported. At a news conference, Toyota Chairman Hiroshi Okuda suggested the possibility of price increases in the United States after General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. reported weak earnings results last week, Kyodo reported. Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun reported Okuda told reporters that the U.S. automakers' problems could cause a backlash for Toyota and other foreign carmakers. "Although a trade conflict, like ones that happened in the past, may be avoided, there may be some impact because the car industry is symbolic in the U.S. economy," Okuda said.
Phoenix and the IRL headed for divorceUPDATE Phoenix is the latest in a long line of events that the IRL managed to usurp from CART/Champ Car that have since failed, which has to run chills down the spine of the City Council in Long Beach to think what might become of their great race should Dover award it to the IRL instead of Champ Car. 04/27/05 This weeks National Speed Sport News has an article about the unhappiness that has developed between Phoenix International Raceway (ISC) and the IRL. Key excerpts in the article by Bruce Martin - After drawing as few as 8,500 fans for the Indy Racing League race at Phoenix Int'l Raceway in March, there was speculation it might have been the final Indy car race held at the one-mile oval. PIR officials, however, said they expect the IRL to be back, but "it's the last time we'll have them here in March," said a track source. March has become a busy time of year in the Phoenix area with college Spring Break, Major League Baseball Spring Training, a professional golf tournament and a free air show held at Luke Air Force Base all held on the same weekend as the IRL race.
There was also open animosity between PIR officials and several members of the IRL marketing department, including one member who was dismissed of her duties last week by the series. An IRL spokesman said that dismissal was not related to the poor Phoenix weekend but rather failure to meet performance standards.
PIR and its parent company, the International Speedway Corporation, were also livid over the public language used by the band "Velvet Revolver" in the post-race concert that was held at the track. PIR has offered the IRL an August date where it could run a Saturday night race, but it seems unlikely the series would accept that because of its already jammed schedule that time of the year.
IRL officials have said they weren't pleased with the level of effort PIR officials gave to the Indy car race and said the track was more interested in promoting the NASCAR Nextel Cup race which was held this weekend in front of a sold-out crowd of over 100,000. PIR officials criticized the IRL for a variety of promotional issues.
"While we have not had date specific discussions with Phoenix for 2006, we expect to have such discussions in the near future," said Fred Nation, the executive vice president of communications for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation -- the parent company of the Indy Racing League. "We are just beginning planning of our 2006 schedule. Neither PIR nor the IRL was pleased with the results this year and we have an open mind about next year." [Editor's Note: Sure sounds like these two are headed for a mutual divorce. An August date is not tenable for the IRL and ISC knows it. It's their way of politely saying we really don't want you anymore. With just 8,500 in attendance they're both better off shaking hands and walking away.]
NASCAR eyeing expansion in Mexico and Canada Chris Economaki states in this week's National Speed Sport News that reports from Daytona indicate NASCAR, pleased with the success of its recent BGN event in Mexico City, is considering a regional racing series in Mexico. And in Canada, talk among car owners is of a NAFTA-type series for all three countries using no-offset late models. No dates or tracks, however, have been announced. This is of course how NASCAR builds up its grassroots following.
Bobby Hamilton Jr. to be arrested Hamilton, Jr.'s first appearance at the famed Nashville Fairgrounds track (now called Music City Motorplex) in years ended with fist flying and police cars cruising the pits. And the incident could lead to Hamilton, Jr. facing an arrest warrant. The incident that got the fracas started began 10 laps into the All-American Late Model Series Challenge when Hamilton and Mark Day’s cars touched on the back straight, shortly before entering turn three. The incident sent Hamilton’s car into the outside wall, severely damaging the front end. With hampered steering, Hamilton limped his car around the track for more than a lap. His crew later said that he was unable to turn the car into the pits, so he was forced to stay on the track. According to Hamilton, he finally regained enough control to navigate onto pit road, where he made contact with Day's car, which was pitted behind Hamilton's stall. One of Day’s crewmembers, William Scogin, who was checking the left front of Day’s car, was slammed into the pit wall by Day’s car when Hamilton’s car hit it. A brawl immediately ensued, with both crews going after each other. The antics caused a red flag that parked the remaining field on the back straightaway until track officials could gain control of the situation. Scogin, who met with Metro Nashville Police at the track, told MTRN that he was considering swearing out a warrant on Hamilton, Jr. for vehicular assault. Day said that he was surprised by Hamilton’s actions after the incident. Day insisted that the on track incident was a racing accident. Hamilton, who started fourth, was racing Day for second at the time of the crash. Hamilton’s crew later claimed that the damage to Hamilton’s car caused the pit road crash and that Hamilton didn’t intend to hit Day’s car. Middle Tennessee Racing News
Truex to leave DEIUPDATE #3 Martin Truex says he was "flattered" by the attention he received regarding his uncertain status for next season. Dale Earnhardt Inc. has not yet signed Truex for 2006, leading to speculation he would leave the organization. His buddy, teammate and owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr., spoke with Truex last week and says he's "confident" Truex will drive DEI's #1 Chevrolet as a Nextel Cup rookie next season. FoxSports/Sporting News04/23/05 Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t concerned teammate Martin Truex Jr. will be driving for any team other than DEI. Truex, who is in contract negotiations with car owner Teresa Earnhardt said at Texas rumors of him looking to go elsewhere are false. Dale Jr. said “I feel real confident he (Truex) means what he says and he wants to be with us. I don’t want Martin to feel slighted in any way or feel unhappy with it (his contract) so I told him to just take your time and it’ll get done.” Junior pointed out it took six months to get his current contract worked out. Could Truex be headed for the #15 car replacing Michael Waltrip? Dale Jr. doesn’t think so. “I like working with Michael. If Teresa and Ritchie Gilmore are happy with the way he runs this year I don’t see why we can’t have him back. It isn’t his last year I don’t think…he hasn’t announced his retirement to me. They’ve had good cars…they’ve had some accidents and stuff but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’d win races aside from plate races. They should win every plate race they run and they should have a couple of more here and there because they’re that good a team and I think Michael can get the job done." PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show/Sporting News04/19/05 We are downgrading this rumor to 'false' today. There have been reports that Martin Truex Jr. might leave DEI, however at Texas he tried to clear up those rumors telling PRN's Garagepass..."I don't know where these people come up with these things. You know we're in negotiations trying to get our contract signed for the next three years and I guess somebody knows about it and thinks we're out there looking for a ride...I think it's pretty stupid." When asked if he could imagine leaving DEI and Dale Earnhardt Jr., Truex said..."No I never even thought about it to be honest with you...it's just people talking." PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show04/16/05 Reigning NASCAR Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr., who has been considered a lock as a future Nextel Cup star for Dale Earnhardt Inc., is considering other offers for his Cup career, ThatsRacin.com reports. Over the past several months, Truex, 24, has had contact from several Cup teams, including Robert Yates Racing and Evernham Motorsports, regarding his availability next season, sources confirmed Friday. Truex's current contract with DEI and Chance2 Motorsports, co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his stepmother Teresa Earnhardt, expires at the conclusion of the 2005 season. He has not re-signed, team officials confirmed. Truex, through a team spokesman, declined comment on Friday, as did officials with DEI. ThatsRacin.com [Editor's Note: Given DEI's general dismal performance, can you blame him for looking elsewhere?]
GM had to move IRL money to NASCARUPDATE There is some speculation whether Chevy will lose some of its best Nextel Cup teams or drivers to Toyota and Honda. Downgrade to junk status seems certain for GM bonds, which means they may not be able to go toe-to-toe with Toyota and Honda in a bidding war over salaries and team incentives. 04/26/05 [Editor's Note: It's now common speculation that GM dropped their Chevy IRL program after 2005 to move that money to NASCAR in anticipation of a strong effort from Toyota in 2006 (Busch) and 2007 (Nextel Cup). Toyota is also said to be moving their IRL money to NASCAR though no official announcement has been made.] Despite General Motors' quarterly loss of $1.1 billion, the largest deficit since the first quarter of 1992, the newly appointed director of GM racing, Mark Kent, will defend the racing program to stockholders and is optimistic that Chevrolet will be able to compete with Toyota when Toyota enters Cup, which is expected in 2007. Insiders expect Toyota's technology to make it a strong contender immediately. Sporting News
IRL giving Honda excuse to leave series Recall the pop-off valve controversy in CART whereby a big hubbub was made by Toyota and Honda over the Honda clever way of fooling the pop-valve into allowing a higher boost pressure in the intake plenum. Toyota felt CART was too lenient on Honda and Honda was mad at CART for making them change their design, which they felt was within the rules. While it may have been legal within the loosely written worded rules at the time, it clearly was not within the "spirit" of the rules.
As we recall, the biggest gaff in the pop-off valve controversy was that when CART came up with the spacer, they tested it only with Toyota. Honda was peeved, and rightfully so, as it gave Toyota an advantage by gathering data on how the spacer enabled the pop-off valve to measure pressure in the plenum. A lot of work was done by Honda to “trick” the valve into measuring a value that was lower than was actually being achieved in the plenum. With Toyota getting the first use of the spacer, they could get a jump on how to fool the valve. While Honda was not really happy to change their plenum design, the perception was that Toyota received preferential treatment. That, was unacceptable to them. In retrospect, CART should have tested with each engine manufacturer, but we don’t think their intent was necessarily political in nature. We think they just goofed.
CART was stuck between a rock and a hard place as Toyota and Honda, fierce rivals, played one side against the other. They used this incident as one of their excuses for leaving CART and going to the IRL, but the conspiracy theorists are sure they already had made their mind up that they were leaving CART for the IRL and the Oval Track Cartel, lured over with promises of eventual entry into Nextel Cup. While we don't know about this conspiracy theory, we do know that it appears Toyota and Honda are now Nextel Cup bound.
Skip forward now to 2005. Both Toyota and Honda are in the IRL and we have now learned that the IRL is allowing Toyota to in effect break the rules to catch up to the superior Honda powerplant. “We do have some concerns, particularly with our friends at Toyota,” said Robert Clarke, whose HPD factory has taken over most development duties from original engine designer Ilmor. “The IRL have granted Toyota permission to modify certain closed or restricted areas for development within their engine, due to our very strong performance last year. And although the HI5R Honda engine remains strong, we expect the Toyota to show a jump in performance either here at Motegi or at the next event, the Indy 500.” Speaking from prepared notes at a Tokyo press conference designed to promote the upcoming Twin Ring Motegi event, Clarke focused the majority of his attention on Honda's recent successes before noting the possibility of stiffer competition from Toyota in the future. “The IRL technical rules are very strict, and we're finding that big power increases are becoming more and more difficult to find. The HI5R is a more refined, more mature engine than the HI4R, last year's predecessor, with improved power, drivability and fuel economy. Within off season testing and the first three events, the HI5R remains the top performing engine within the IRL series,” said Clarke.
While Clarke did not publicly come out and state his distaste with the IRL for giving Toyota the chance to sidestep the rules, clearly he is not happy or he would not have mentioned it. Why isn't Honda allowed to make the same changes? Here we have the IRL openly bending their own rules for one competitor but not another. It's akin to allowing the last place team's batters in baseball four strikes instead of three for a strikeout. It's just the kind of excuse Honda needs to justify their rumored exit of the IRL to NASCAR. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Mark C.
Fiat looking to Tata for help The troubled Italian industrial company Fiat SpA is in talks with India's Tata Motors to enter into some form of joint venture, which it is hoped will save the indebted Italian firm. The deal is expected to go beyond cars and will probably include trucks, which are an important source of revenue for both companies. Tata is keen to become India's biggest and best known car company and is sponsoring Narain Karthikeyan's F1 program while also providing software and software engineering services to Ferrari. The Tata conglomerate features more than 100 companies ranging from heavy industry to hotels and software. Tata is based on a textile firm established in 1868 and is still owned by the Tata family but in recent years has been shedding businesses in order to concentrate on high technology and automobiles. Grandprix.com
Newey to Williams or out of F1UPDATE #3 McLaren's Adrian Newey will either take a break or retire from Formula One at the end of 2005. That is the logical deduction of the highly lauded technical director and designer's six-month contract extension, reported in Autosport. Newey's existing deal was set to expire mid-year.
Despite earlier speculation of a return to Williams, Newey's actual destination is a well earned sabbatical, such as designing an America's Cup yacht or simply racing in historic car events. ''He said he's going to ... find his life again,'' Frank Williams answered when asked about negotiations with Adrian.
To ensure continuity, McLaren reportedly requested that Newey start work on the MP4-21 and then hand over to a successor. ''I want to have a better quality of life,'' Autosport magazine quoted Newey as saying.
01/25/05 As reported last week, rumor is rife that lauded designer Adrian Newey will likely return to Frank Williams' F1 team in July 2005. McLaren's 'F1 CEO' Martin Whitmarsh denied they would lose the Briton to a rival squad. He admitted: ''But (Adrian) might want ... to pursue other things.'' Should Newey leave, or just take a well-earned sabbatical - perhaps to design an America's Cup yacht - Whitmarsh insisted that Woking-based McLaren have a 'strong engineering team' to succeed him. 01/19/05 Adrian Newey, the most sought-after design brain in the business, will likely leave McLaren and rejoin Frank Williams' Formula One squad in July, we can reveal. Neither team would comment on the rumor, but last year the Brit declined to confirm whether he'd still be under Ron Dennis' Woking-based wing beyond a set-to-expire contract. ''You do find yourself looking for a new stimulus,'' he admitted in 2004, ''or worrying about where the next (design) idea is going to come from.'' Newey worked for Williams from 1990 to 1996 and, despite speculation of needing a break, his return to Grove could convince 30 per cent co-owner and former technical director Patrick Head, 58, to sell the stake and retire. 12/29/04 McLaren technical director Adrian Newey is being linked increasingly strongly with a move away from the team in 2005. Newey’s McLaren contract expires in July and sources have suggested he may be intending to leave F1 altogether, possibly for a role designing racing yachts, a passion of his. Newey came close to leaving McLaren in 2001 for Jaguar Racing but McLaren boss Ron Dennis convinced him to stay on. Autosport Magazine
Baumgartner to return? Hungarian driver Zsolt Baumgartner popped up in the Imola F1 paddock last weekend. With the rule now slightly freed, the former Minardi and Jordan driver reportedly 'met with several teams' about filling a vacant 'Friday' role, Autosport magazine said. Sauber and Minardi, at present, have vacancies, although Hinwil's Peter Sauber was heard to not want a 'pay driver (to) just roll around.
''We ... need a driver who can contribute (to) setup,'' he insisted, ''or sort ... new parts. 'There are not so many ... available.'' Minardi, meanwhile, are thought close to a deal with China-domiciled Marchy Lee Yin-Kin, who may test at Mugello. GMMf1NET
'Changes' to strike F1 A trio of F1-owning banks appear primed to make 'management' changes. Having won power in a settlement with 'impresario' Bernie Ecclestone, a spokesman for Bayerische Landesbank confirmed the speculation in a Bloomberg report. ''(They) are ... about to sort out how they want to run their business,'' motorsport director for BMW - among a group threatening to leave F1 - added.
But Sir Frank Williams allayed fears that Ecclestone, 74, is likely to be removed as chief executive. ''I expect they'll want Bernie to represent them,'' he insisted. Bernie, meanwhile, earlier told UK's 'Independent' newspaper that the banks 'don't get on' with one another. He said: ''There is a level of mistrust.'' GMMf1NET
Another open wheeler gone south? Buddy Lazier will try his hand at a NASCAR truck in an open test Tuesday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway. With nothing available full-time in the IRL (he does have an Indy ride with Byrd Brothers/Panther Racing #95), Lazier is rumored to be giving trucks a look.
DEI speculation Considering that the drivers who will be available after the 2006 season are far superior to those who will be available at the end of this year, it would be advantageous for DEI and NAPA, the #15's primary sponsor, to maintain the status quo. According to Gilmore, one driver who won't be jumping into the #15 any time soon, especially if NAPA remains on the car, is Shane Hmiel. Hmiel has close ties with DEI; the company must approve any deal for him to race with another team. Hmiel wouldn't suit NAPA. Sporting News
Yates to start 3rd Cup team Robert Yates is cranking up plans for a third Ford team next season, and every top NASCAR crew chief worth his salt is looking at that opportunity - particularly if Yates can snare a hotshot driver. The top two drivers mentioned so far are Martin Truex Jr. [denied he is looking, working on contract with DEI, denied by Yates] and Reed Sorenson [under contract with Ganassi]. Yates is expected to go after at least one of Chevrolet's top crew chiefs to run the team. Two men he has his eye on are Tony Eury Jr., at Dale Earnhardt Inc., and Todd Berrier at Richard Childress Racing. Yates, however, may be battling rival car owner Ray Evernham of Dodge for both driver and crew chief. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Truex's teammate and friend at DEI, said he has talked with Truex, who still doesn't have a contract. "I asked him how he felt, and I feel real confident he means what he says, and that he wants to be with us," Earnhardt said. "My contract took about six months to work itself out. You want everything done today or tomorrow, but you have to understand it takes time. It's good to be patient in this situation. I'm sure it will get done." Winston Salem Journal
Red Bull rotation could bench Coulthard Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has confirmed he will continue to rotate his drivers this season and that could spell bad news for David Coulthard. Red Bull test driver and Formula 3000 Champion Vitantonio Liuzzi will be swapping places with regular driver Christian Klien throughout the season, with the first switch having taken place at this past weekend’s San Marino GP. Horner plans to reverse that swap after race six, the Monaco GP, in late May as he continues working on grooming two stars of the future.
"We are not afraid to use the Chelsea-style rotation system but the driver line-up is fixed for the next three races,” he said. “This is a building year for Red Bull." But if both Klien and Liuzzi excel, Coulthard could find he has no place at Red Bull in 2006.
The Scot claims Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz was "misquoted" when he was reported earlier in the season to have revealed that Klien and Liuzzi will be Red Bull’s two race drivers next year. However, Coulthard, whose points-scoring run came to an end on Sunday at Imola, does admit that his future is unclear. "The truth is that I don't have a contract for next year," the 34-year-old said. "That was my choice when I signed up, because there was no better options at the time. At the right time we will talk about the future and if we come to an agreement we will make an announcement." Planet F1
Rahal pans the IRL, eyes Champ CarUPDATE #2 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I'm so glad you had that article on the Rumors page about what Graham Rahal said during the Star Mazda Series race at Sebring. I watched the replay today, it's not a rumor it's 'fact.' His father Bobby Rahal must be seething about what Graham said -- not to mention David Letterman, Buddy Rice and others. I especially liked Graham's comment about the Indy 500 not being that important anymore. Graham sounds like a very intelligent young man with a mind of his own, i.e. not an IRL puppet just because his father sold his soul to the devil. Janice Marks, Austin, Texas Dear Janice, Like most other CART teams who left Champ Car for the IRL, they did so not because they liked the IRL better, but because they were so dependent of the engine manufacturer money for survival, they followed their money to the IRL rather than try to scrape by staying in Champ Car. If the rumors are true that Toyota and Honda will leave to go to NASCAR (we still fail to believe the rumors until we hear something more official) it will be interesting to watch these teams follow the money right to NASCAR. When in doubt, follow the money. Mark C.04/25/05 Reminder - The Star Mazda Series race at Sebring will be replayed on SPEED Channel at 2:00 p.m. ET on Monday, April 25, and 4:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday, April 26. 04/24/05 The tide is beginning to turn in Champ Car's favor it seems. Even the youngsters don't want to be bouncing off walls in front of empty grandstands of the IRL. If you caught the Star Mazda race at Sebring you would have seen the interview with Graham Rahal to find out where he wants to eventually race. He said he would love to race in F1, but he doesn't want to pay to race there. They asked him what his next step is after Star Mazda. He said "Champ Car, Grand Am or the American Le Mans Series." They asked if he plans to race in the IRL or at Indy. Graham said, "I would much rather race the 12 Hours of Sebring or Le Mans, because Indy is no longer the pinnacle of motorsports." Psst, someone tell Tony George that if he continues to maintain the split in Indy Car racing the Indy 500 will continue to plummet lower in status until it really is just another race.
Ferrari 'breakthrough'? Ferrari 'breakthrough' or magic Bridgestone? Whether one or the other, the reigning title winner left 2005 championship leader Renault a little worried at Imola. Fernando Alonso struggled with a damaged and de-tuned Renault engine throughout the weekend in Italy, but Pat Symonds said that doesn't explain an up to 2-second per-lap deficit to Michael Schumacher. ''Their car is obviously quick,'' the engineering director said, ''(and the) Bridgestones were ... working well.''
You won't, though, sense a lot of panic from within the blue-and-yellow grand prix camp. Barcelona, scene of the next outing, is 'everything (Imola) isn't,' Symonds insisted. BAR's Nick Fry, meanwhile, had no doubt Ferrari's pace was 'the tire, not the (F2005) car.'
Champ Car to add more events Fueled by the overwhelming success and obvious spectator enjoyment of the drifting that Champ Car, Formula D (www.formulad.com) and Champ Car's Mediawide Marketing brought to the 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, AutoRacing1.com inside sources tell us that drifting is now being taken very seriously and will likely join the party at more 2005 Champ Car events than just Long Beach, Milwaukee, Portland, Cleveland and San Jose - at places like Toronto, Edmonton, Denver, Montreal, Korea or Mexico City.
Facing skepticism, or worse, from many chat room flunkies and media members before its arrival in Long Beach, drifting proved an instant hit with the crowds such that even race promoter Jim Michaelian and Paul Tracy were smiling and praising Champ Car's newest support series!
When we got wind of this rumor we made a few phone calls. When asked where else drifting will join Champ Car, MediaWide principal Peter Stark was uncharacteristically reserved, saying instead that "Long Beach was, to speak without permission on behalf of my team, the ultimate validation of something Tracy (McCarthy, MediaWide), Jim (Liaw, Formula D), Ryan (Sage, Formula D), Michaelian, Kevin (Kalkhoven) and I believed in and worked very hard to make possible. Among its other noteworthy and historical firsts, The Inaugural Long Beach Drifting Challenge was the first time the sport has ever played to a non-endemic audience. We knew going into the event that we were bringing the sport's A-game in terms of drivers, cars, teams, media support and all that; The only aspect we had absolutely no direct control of, the only variable, was crowd response. And on that, let's just say that I did not expect to see women my mother's age standing, cheering and screaming at the sight of a crossed-up Nissan! So I guess my answer to the question is that my expectations weren't the only ones exceeded by the drifting at Long Beach. When contracts are signed, press releases will be released." Mark C.
Gonzalez eyes Champ Car return Our sources in Mexico tell us that Roberto Gonzalez is close to a sponsorship deal that will see him re-start his Champ Car career in Monterrey. His management team is hoping to hear some good news this week. Meanwhile, word is that Rodolfo Lavín is still hoping to be in a Corona sponsored car in Monterrey.
Ford Taurus in 2005, Fusion in 2006UPDATE #2 Ford Taurus Ends Production Ends in March 2006: The last Ford Taurus will roll off the assembly line in the first three months of 2006, ending a 21-year run that has racked up nearly 6.7 million total U.S. sales. The news was relayed to employees at Ford Motor Co.'s Atlanta plant in an April newsletter distributed by United Auto Workers Local 882. With its jellybean shape, the debut 1986 model helped revolutionize American car design and pull Ford out of a financial tailspin. By 1992, it was the country's best-selling car -- a title it held for five consecutive years. But in recent years, as sales have waned, Ford has been pushing the Taurus out of its retail lineup and into the fleets of rental car companies. It is being replaced in dealer showrooms by the Ford Fusion, which debuts this fall. The end of Taurus production robs Ford's Atlanta assembly plant of its last product. Production of the Mercury Sable, a Taurus twin, ends this month -- and no new product has been earmarked for the plant, which opened in 1947 and employs nearly 2,000 hourly workers. Ford would not confirm when Taurus production will end and declined comment on Atlanta's future. Detroit News12/14/04 This Autoweek article shows spy shots of the 2006 Ford Fusion, rumored to be headed for Nextel Cup. 10/09/04 Ford is expected to continue racing the Taurus in NASCAR for 2005, though that car will be relegated largely to fleets, as the 2005 Ford Five Hundred sedan becomes the company's focus for the passenger-car market. Ford will not race the Five Hundred, but is expected to race the 2006 Ford Fusion, a Taurus-sized sedan based on the Mazda6 platform. That car was originally called the Ford Futura, but Pep Boys, the parts supplier, used the Futura name for its line of tires, and Ford and Pep Boys could not come to an agreement, even though the Futura name was used by Ford for a Falcon model. Ford already uses the name "Fusion" in Europe. Orlando Sentinel
Champ Car makes its pitch to DoverUPDATE We are hearing that Dover is trying to get the IRL and Champ Car to talk in the hopes of reaching some sort of agreement. Champ Car has reached out and in fact Tony George finally met with Kevin Kalkhoven in NY City (SPEED News reported) when both were in town to meet with Dover Motorsports and make their pitch for the Long Beach race. So far the meetings with Tony George have proved fruitless, but at least there is a dialog. We still maintain that this article's proposal is the best way forward for now. Mark C.04/21/05 The buzz builds on what happened at a meeting Wednesday in New York. Kevin Kalkhoven, the most influential of the three team owners who own Champ Car, Long Beach Grand Prix Association chief Jim Michaelian and representatives from Dover Motorsports, the Grand Prix Association's parent company, were all a part of the gathering. Sources with knowledge of the meeting said Champ Car made its pitch to stay in Long Beach. Kalkhoven could not be reached for comment and the Grand Prix Association declined to comment on the meeting. The IRL has also been in discussions with Dover. "They are aware of our continued interest and our offer to sanction the event, and we are awaiting their response," said Ken Ungar, the IRL's vice president of business affairs, on Wednesday. What happened at the Wednesday meeting is certain to quickly become a part of a rumor mill. Press-Telegram
Benson to test Toyota Busch carUPDATE #2 Toyota officials have made inquiries about the deadlines for submitting new car and engine designs for next season, but have so far made no formal submissions, NASCAR Busch series officials confirmed. Any manufacturer wishing to submit a new car model must due so by July 1. All testing and final approval is required by Sept. 1 to compete the next season. Recent published reports have indicated Toyota was considering beginning a program in the Busch Series before moving on to any Nextel Cup participation. ThatsRacin.com04/18/05 Garage sources say Toyota has two Busch cars built and will be ready for competition in 2006. Bill Davis Racing, which has been without factory support in Cup for nearly two years, is expected to field teams, as is Chip Ganassi Racing. The other manufacturers have personal services contracts with most drivers; Toyota, though, is expected to hold the drivers' contracts, rather than the car owners, to maintain control over the program. Sporting News/FoxSports04/18/05 Toyota is getting closer to a Nextel Cup effort, according to sources, who say that it's only a matter of time before Toyota executives finally pull the plug on their $98-million-a-year Indy Racing League operation and begin moving that cash to NASCAR, first for a Busch effort in 2006. Johnny Benson is reported to be set to test a Toyota Busch car at Michigan soon and at an unnamed short track. Winston Salem Journal [Editor's Note: It's interesting that the Toyota to pull the plug on their $98 million IRL program rumor is also in the NASCAR paddock. Where there's smoke, there's fire. Toyota spending a whopping $98 million a year and getting beat by little Honda must not sit well with the Toyota brass in Japan. ]
F1 testing limit agreement about to break down Ferrari's performance in Sunday's San Marino GP whereby Michael Schumacher's Ferrari was some 2 seconds per lap faster then everyone in race conditions was no doubt the result of their massive testing effort. Whereas the other 9 teams have agreed to a self-imposed 30-day per year test limit, Ferrari has already run 20 days and the season is young. Ferrari makes the argument that because they are the only Bridgestone tire team, they must test more than anyone to gather the same amount of data as Michelin does from their nine teams. A valid argument and underscores just how expensive a tire war makes racing.
Given Ferrari’s dominating performance on Sunday, look for the other teams to start to break their self-imposed testing limit to now catch up to Ferrari. “I don't think Ferrari's competitors can just sit there and accept them driving into the distance," Toyota president John Howett told Autosport-Atlas. "I think the [30-day] agreement has already started to break down. Either Ferrari must join the remaining teams or we need to find some sort of compromise where there is an equivalence. Otherwise people will start to test remorselessly,” he added. “It is a question of common sense."
Button may lose 3rd place resultUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' "Immediately following the end of the race the car was weighed in the configuration it had finished and was above the minimum weight limit," the stewards said in a statement issued by the governing FIA. "It was subsequently drained of fuel and then re-weighed and found to be underweight. The stewards after hearing the explanation of the competitor's representatives and studying all the available documentation decided that the matter requires no further action." 04/24/05 Jenson Button's BAR Honda has failed post-race inspection after finishing third in Imola today. We are hearing the car was underweight. No word yet on what action the race stewards will take. If he is disqualified, Alexander Wurz will be elevated to third.
Seen at Imola - II Ex-Formula One driver Alex Zanardi (pictured right with Mark Webber) was mobbed everywhere he went on Saturday afternoon. He has exciting plans, and if a suitable hand control for the brakes can be sorted out, he will demonstrate a Williams at Indianapolis later this year.
His old IndyCar sparring partner Gil de Ferran was in fine form, newly installed as sporting director at BAR, while new US racer Ryan Briscoe dropped in on old friends at Toyota.
Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg were overseeing their sons’ GP2 debuts, while other Formula One faces from the past included former Minardi racers Paolo Barilla and Pierluigi Martini. The latter is now making ice cream but is also very keen to learn more about GP Masters after hearing of it for the first time this weekend.
Cosworth owner Kevin Kalkhoven flew in from America despite personal injuries suffered while skiing recently, and fellow Champ Car owner and Rocketsports proprietor Paul Gentilozzi also took his first look at Formula One racing in Europe.
Former Brabham and Fondmetal designer Sergio Rinland was on hand acting as a consultant to Coloni Motorsport. Famed designer Peter Stevens was McLaren’s guest, while Sauber entertained Michel Kratochvil, Switzerland’s third-rated tennis seed.
On-track, the GP2 series got off to an interesting start amid some new-car problems, with Heiki Kovalainen winning the inaugural race for Arden International ahead of Jose-Maria Lopez, Scott Speed, Formula One refugee Gianmaria Bruni and Britain’s Adam Carroll, who was in with an excellent chance of victory until he had to make a third pit stop for a pit lane speeding infringement.
One of the other biggest talking points in the Imola paddock has been Red Bull’s impressive new ‘energy station’ hospitality facility, already dubbed by some the ‘pachinko palace’ because of its resemblance to one of the Japanese games parlors.
Red Bull Energy Station
Stretching to three levels, this impressive structure looked down even on McLaren’s opulent grey edifice. The plan is to float it in the harbor at Monaco. Formula1.com
What’s really behind the France/NFL rumors It seems the rumors of Brian France buying an NFL team and leaving NASCAR are not true, but why is he even talking to the NFL? Because he wants NASCAR to piggyback on the NFL's popularity. NASCAR has sold itself to potential sponsors by comparing itself to the NFL. NASCAR CEO Brian France, instrumental in crafting a $2.8-billion deal with NBC, TNT and Fox in 2001, had long wanted the season-ending Nextel Cup race to be a prime-time, made-for-TV show like the Super Bowl. He apparently got his wish when Homestead-Miami Speedway, host to the final weekend, received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to erect lights for a twilight race.
With a planned 4 p.m. start and early evening finish at Homestead the race could run into pre-game NFL shows or an 8 p.m. kickoff, which would boost NASCAR's ratings even higher in the final hour. NBC's NASCAR deal ends after 2006, but NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said he expects a deal will be worked out whereby NBC will show the NASCAR finale and then have it lead right into the NFL game on NBC that night. Piggy-backing with the NFL can only help NASCAR, Hunter said, in luring fans of both sports.
"I think there's a tremendous amount of crossover," he said. "That's why we think it's such a plus. We make the transition from one exciting sport to the next exciting sport. People have always asked the question if we'd like to replace the NFL. We don't even talk about that, we just say we'd love to have the number of people watching our event that the NFL has and that's something, certainly, to aspire to." Conclusion - Brian France buying into an NFL team is just his way of making friends with the NFL so he can piggyback on them without too much resistance.
'Go9’ may break down - Brawn Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn has defended the team's decision to test unrestricted in 2005. The Briton admitted at Imola that the highly charged topic, with Ferrari on one side and a disgruntled 'group of nine' on the other, is 'emotive.'
''I'd prefer if there wasn't the friction ... on this aspect,'' said RB. ''But we tried to find a solution and ... they stopped inviting us to their meetings.''
Maranello-based Ferrari, then - with two private test circuits - decided to run as much as they want. Ross also hinted that the 'group of nine' appear to be straining. ''There's a dispute between them,'' Brawn revealed, ''as to whether a V8 (2006 engine) test is in their 30 days or not. ''Several of them say it's not, some say it is.''
Imola renews through 2009 Reports in the Italian media suggest that Bernie Ecclestone has just done a new deal with SAGIS, the company which promotes the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. SAGIS is a subsidiary of the Automobile Club di Bologna and has been struggling to find the money to upgrade the circuit facilities. The good news is that the Italian Minister of Infrastructure Pietro Lunardi has agreed to provide around $13m to help fund the construction of a new paddock. Grandprix.com Meanwhile - Sluggish ticket sales that have made the San Marino Grand Prix an uncertain fixture on the F1 calendar show no sign of picking up. "Formula chaos, the public flee; Unpopular rules and grandstands empty," Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport said in a headline Saturday. The paper noted that the stands at the Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit were emptier than ever during the previous day's practice sessions, estimating 3,000-4,000 spectators. It blamed high ticket prices and rule changes that include pushing the final qualifying round to Sunday morning - meaning that those who watch on Saturday will go home without knowing who will be in pole position. AP Story
Seen at ImolaUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact.' Billionaire racing team owner Dietrich Mateschitz was in a very jolly mood at Imola, having announced a new engine deal with Ferrari for 2006 and 2007. The Red Bull Racing team will be supplying Ferrari with a big chunk of cash and Jean Todt and his customer engine division at Ferrari will be putting the money into the Ferrari piggy-bank to make up for earnings which will be lost next year because of poor results so far this season.
Billionaire engine company owner Kevin Kalkhoven was rather less chirpy on Saturday afternoon when he flew in to Imola from America to have talks with Herr Mateschitz about Red Bull Racing using Kalkhoven's Cosworth Racing V8s in 2006 and discovered that the Red Bull magnate had failed to mention that he would not be needing Cosworth's help next year.
Billionaire racing promoter Bernie Ecclestone was no doubt pleased with the outcome of the deal as Ferrari gets some more income and Red Bull gets a competitive engine. Grandprix.com
04/23/05 Rumors out of Imola suggest that Kevin Kalkhoven and possibly Paul Gentilozzi were spotted in the paddock at Imola. We do know that Kalkhoven's plane departed for Europe last night. First stop was supposed to be London, but perhaps with the Red Bull to Ferrari announcement they decided to go to Imola first. Kalkhoven has to shore up Cosworth's diminishing F1 business.
Mears hopes to re-sign Casey Mears is waiting to see if car owner Chip Ganassi wants to pick up the option on his contract for the 2006 season. Mears says “right now all indications are we’re going to run next year [with Ganassi]. All the feedback that I get is they’re happy with what I’m doing and happy with the improvements that we’ve got. I don’t think about that stuff a whole lot, I just want to go out and do the best job I can and if the team I’m with doesn’t want me at the end of the year I’ll do something else…if they do want me then great because I’m happy here." PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show/Sporting News
The Chinese are coming to AmericaUPDATE A fierce rivalry is brewing between the Chinese and Japanese for worldwide supremacy in the automobile market. Certainly Japan has a big lead now, but the Chinese are coming, and they are coming in a big way. In fact, AutoRacing1.com sources tell us they are seriously eyeing the racing scene and speculation is that one or more of the Chinese manufacturers could badge the Cosworth engine in Champ Car. Champ Car can deliver Chinese companies decent exposure both in the USA and abroad. Champ Car is the perfect racing series for the Chinese to make their mark in racing.
If this were to happen, we would expect that Toyota and Honda will immediately have some interest in Champ Car again. Why? Because they are afraid that the Chinese will make a dent in their USA market sales and will want to try to beat up on them in racing just as they like to beat up on the American car companies on the race track. If Champ Car is able to land the Chinese and/or the Korean car companies, it will be perhaps their most significant strategic move to date.
How fierce is the Chinese vs. Japanese rivalry? Consider this - Japanese automakers insist that rising anti-Japan sentiment in China isn't crimping sales, but consumers at a major Chinese auto show that opened Friday cast a wary eye at Japanese brands. So far this month, anti-Japanese protests have hit at least 10 cities in China, and mobs in several of the protests vandalized cars with Japanese brands. "Some car owners are putting tape over the Japanese logos of their cars. Or they put a sign on the car saying, 'We are patriots,' " said Mo Wenhui, 26, a magazine advertising salesman who was perusing the Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. exhibit at the Shanghai 2005 auto show.
Relations between China and Japan -- rivals for power in East Asia -- are freighted with tensions despite soaring trade. Chinese remain deeply angry with Japan for its brutal occupation of China in the 1930s and '40s.
01/23/05 A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, Just finished watching the "2005 North American International Auto Show" on HDNet. Mentioned during the auto show was all the recent interest of new foreign manufacturers becoming a part of the show and how the show has grown because of it. Adding more gas to the fire about your "China will be in play eventually rumor," it was said that there is a lot of interest from China in the North American Market and that within 24 months China will also be a part of the North American Auto Show. Rod Orlando, FL.
Mike on the move, again? Mike Gascoyne might again be on the move. The highly lauded technical man, who oversaw Renault and now Toyota's rise to the front of the grid, is currently wanted at Williams, according to a rumor in the Imola paddock. England's 'Telegraph' newspaper said the job would include a 'hefty pay rise' on Mike's bulging $7m per-year deal. He admitted to the publication that, with Toyota in Germany and his young family in Oxfordshire, working for an English team is easier. Gascoyne continued: ''People say I never stick around to finish things off. But look at it this way -- I've never failed.''
Rosberg to test for WilliamsUPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact.' Nico Rosberg has moved closer to his aim of following his world championship winning father Keke into Formula One after signing to join Williams as their second test driver. Rosberg, who currently competes in the GP2 series which supports Formula One, will continue racing but also join third driver Antonio Pizzonia, of Brazil, in a new role to help the team move forward. Mario Theissen, who is motorsport director of Williams engine suppliers BMW, said: "(Rosberg) is signed as a second test driver, second to Antonio. I don't know when he is in the car, it could well be (next week)." 04/22/05 The BMW Williams team is to use GP2 driver Nico Rosberg to do some of its testing in the next few weeks. The deal is only a one-off at the moment and not a longer-term agreement with the young Finnish driver, who is the son of Keke Rosberg, who won the World Championship for the team in 1982. We understand that Nico will do some basic systems tests for the team at Silverstone. Grandprix.com
Coulthard may get axeUPDATE The Red Bull Formula One team have reassured Briton David Coulthard that he can still hope to race for them next season. Team boss Christian Horner dismissed as 'totally inaccurate' media reports suggesting that owner Dietrich Mateschitz had decided already on Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi and Austrian Christian Klien for 2006. "David's doing a great job for the team, it's far too early to even contemplate next year and we won't until the latter part of the summer but the team's very happy with David," he told Reuters at the San Marino Grand Prix. "He's an integral part of the team...and he's part of the success that we've had so far." Reuters04/07/05 Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz may have only been trying to please the media on Vitantonio Liuzzi’s home country, but the Austrian mogul’s declaration to Milan newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, claiming that Tonio and Christian Klien will be RBR’s 2006 racers, has left at least one person puzzled: David Coulthard. Previously defined by sporting director Christian Horner as “Red Bull’s biggest asset,” DC sits a strong fourth in the 2005 driver’s point standings, after being the only driver besides Fernando Alonso to score in every race so far this year. The veteran Scot stopped short from firing back at his boss, but told Autosport-Atlas that he would like to have a chat with Mateschitz. "I haven't decided anything about my future," DC said during a break at this week’s Barcelona F1 testing sessions. "If he [Mateschitz] said it, then I want to clarify my situation." SPEEDTV
China to grab majority of car production With labor costs 1/20th that of the USA and 1/30th that of Europe, China threatens to put North America and Europe completely out of the automobile industry. This Detroit Free Press article says, DaimlerChrysler AG hopes to make compact cars in China for sale in the United States, a company executive said Thursday. The company's China chief, Ruediger Grube, said the compact would be a totally new car and wouldn't affect production of current DaimlerChrysler, Jeep or Dodge vehicles in the United States. Grube said China's low labor costs figured heavily in the decision.
DaimlerChrysler, the world's fifth-largest automaker, is looking at producing the cars in southern China in a joint venture with Fujian Motor Industry Corp. Grube declined to say more about the vehicle, saying the company is working out details with its Chinese partner. "China today has a big, big, big advantage insofar as labor costs are concerned," Grube said. While German autoworkers earn an average of 38 euros an hour ($49.78) in wages and benefits, and U.S. autoworkers earn 28 euros an hour ($36.68), "the same worker in China gets 1.5 euros," or about $1.96 per hour, he said.
Global automakers are pouring tens of billions of dollars into their Chinese plants, creating a glut of manufacturing capacity in the world's fastest-growing automotive market. Auto analysts say overcapacity and low labor costs are among the reasons automakers want to build vehicles in China for export around the world. "One potential scenario has it that China will, more quickly than anyone can imagine, turn into an export base for cars globally," said Michael Dunne of Automotive Resources Asia, a consultancy with offices in Bangkok, Thailand, and Shanghai.
Who is buying Dover stock? Volume on Dover Motorsports stock (NYSE: DVD) has been up to nine times higher per day than the historical average. Is someone buying Dover stock to influence the Long Beach race decision? Tony George? Kevin Kalkhoven? Gerald Forsythe? Bill France Jr? Roger Penske? Hmm....
SMI to announce ticket dealUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Speedway Motorsports Inc. has chosen Ticketmaster to manage ticket marketing and distribution at its six speedways. They are Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord; Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga.; Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn.; Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.; Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas; and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Ticketmaster's automated ticketing system will manage advance and onsite tickets, suite ticketing, special ticket packages and group ticketing. Ticketmaster will also manage SMI's ticket sales through the speedways' Web sites and through ticketmaster.com. The California-based company will also provide the six speedways with local and national marketing programs. 04/19/05 Sportsbusinessdaily.com reports that SMI and Ticketmaster will announce today that the ticketing company will become authorized ticket dealer for all six SMI speedways. SMI Exec VP/National Sales & Marketing Marcus Smith said that three of the tracks previously had deals with Tickets.com, two with Ticketmaster and one with Paciolan. The six speedways covered in the agreement are: Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway.
New Cosworth twisting at 20K RPM Cosworth Racing says that it regularly runs its 2,4-litre V8 development engine for next year at 20,000rpm, while the current V10 is running to 19,000rpm. While this does not necessarily mean that the new engines will produce more horsepower than the current 3-litre V10s it will mean that power outputs will not be anywhere near as small as the regulations are designed to make them. In part this is due to the fact that the crankshaft of the new engines are shorter than those being used at the moment and that means that they have less problems with torsional twisting. The cost of development of the new 2.4-litre V8s has been huge. Grandprix.com
Schumacher won't retire Just when everyone thought he might retire, Michael Schumacher is talking to Ferrari about staying on after 2006. Asked whether team boss Jean Todt had talked to him about eventual replacements, the 36-year-old German told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper on Thursday that the main discussion had been about his own future. "To tell you the truth, Jean at the moment is talking with me about extending my contract," he said. "Sometimes we talk about drivers, but in very general terms." "I don't think Michael will stop in 2006," Germany's Bild quoted his father Rolf as saying recently. "I have a feeling he will carry on."
Singapore: F1 out, Champ Car in?UPDATE #3 As we have reported for a number of years, there is plenty of room in the world for another GP series because F1 simply can't add anymore races and demand far outstrips supply. Champ Car has finally wised up and began to satisfy the need adding races in Beijing, South Korea, Japan (soon), Argentina and perhaps Brazil. But the world demand is still not satisfied, the latest example being yet another Asian country, Singapore. The lure for Champ Car is the fact that Singapore is in the Asian market Champ Car is targeting for expansion.
Bernie Ecclestone has thrown cold water on speculation that Singapore is poised to grab a F1 grand prix. The F1 supremo, 74, told local magazine 'Today' that the already swollen calendar cannot accommodate a new race. ''Now we've got 19 races,'' Ecclestone said, ''which I've got to try to reduce to seventeen. 'Until we can ... get the teams to agree to twenty races, we can't add any more.''
And Singapore, it seems, wouldn't bag pole position for that elusive twentieth slot, anyway. India, Russia and Mexico are all higher on Bernie's priority list. But he did scotch the myth that Singapore is a no-go because it's too close to Malaysia. ''(We) don't have a problem with (that),'' Ecclestone insisted. The question is, however, will Champ Car step in and add Singapore to its repertoire since it is one of the biggest cities in the world, rich in contrast and color where you'll find a harmonious blend of culture, cuisine, arts and architecture, and close enough to Brisbane (Surfers) to pair up the two races?
. 04/20/05 You'd be forgiven for being confused about whether Singapore is likely to feature on a future F1 calendar. But the local 'Electric New Paper' publication is adamant that the small country is in with a shout. Earlier, the paper revealed plans for a Monaco-style street race, although an actual Formula One bid was denied by Motor Sport association president Matthew Lee. However, on Tuesday, the Singapore Tourism Board said: ''(We have) been actively looking at the development of a motorsport event in Singapore.'' And, although backing Lee's GP denial, the statement added that the Board 'does not rule out' a bid 'in the future.' 04/18/05 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Don't believe everything you read, warned the man supposedly at the helm of a 'Singapore grand prix.' Matthew Lee, president of the Motor Sport Association there, said recent media articles left him 'surprised.' Contradicting supposed statements, Lee said he hasn't met with the Tourism Board since 2003. ''We could hold a grand prix,'' he conceded, ''but whether we'd get permission is something else. And the SMSA is too small to be a F1 promoter.'' Meanwhile, Singapore prime minister until 1990, Lee Kuan Yew, said he regretted not building a grand prix F1 track. ''(F1) makes no sense to me,'' he said at a business forum, ''but I am sure it would have made Singapore buzz.'' 04/11/05 Singapore grand prix Singapore is devising plans for a Monaco-like street grand prix. Matthew Lee, president of the Motor Sports Association there, said he met late last year with the Singapore Tourism Board. He told the Electric New Paper: ''And we've knuckled down the exact roads for a possible ... (3.8 km) circuit.'' An F1 debut is slated for 2007. But, first, money must talk to Bernie Ecclestone. The race would reportedly cost Singapore $13.1m every year, and about $43 million in year-one. Lee said: ''From a driving point of view, Singapore has the potential to be one of the best and most exciting street circuits in the world.''. With that said, F1 has no room in its schedule so Champ Car may have to step in and take it.
Will healthcare costs bankrupt GM? General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers union appear headed for a historic clash as spiraling health care costs seemingly threaten the very survival of the world's largest carmaker. GM reported Tuesday it lost $1.1 billion in the first quarter, its largest quarterly loss in more than a decade, and it cited the cost of providing health coverage for its workers and retirees as a main culprit. GM didn't provide details of what it spent in the quarter for medical expenses, but it has said the bill for covering its 1.1 million employees, retirees and family members is likely to approach $6 billion in 2005, up 15 percent from last year's tab of $5.2 billion. "Addressing health care is our top objective," GM chief financial officer John Devine said Tuesday. But it may be years before any concrete results are evident. That's because the current four-year labor agreement with the UAW runs through 2007, and union leaders said last week they have no intention of renegotiating the current contract. Instead, they said they'd do what they could within the agreement to help GM reduce health care spending. AP Story
Bernie to propose new qualifying format Bernie Ecclestone is seeking an urgent overhaul of Formula 1’s qualifying system, according to a report in this week’s Autosport magazine. Ecclestone is rumored to be ready to present a proposal for a streamlined format to team owners at this weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix. He is understood to want the existing aggregate system, which is widely regarded as too complicated and a turn-off for armchair fans, to be scrapped in favor of a single session on Saturday – possibly as soon as mid-season.
Washington in lead over Oregon for track Plans to build a superspeedway capable of playing host to NASCAR Nextel Cup races in Oregon are on hold as officials with developer International Speedway Corp. pursue opportunities in Washington. Grant Lynch, president of ISC subsidiary Great Northwest Sports, said Tuesday that previous progress and investments are leading ISC to focus on Washington for a project in the Northwest.
ISC has spent more than $1 million in lobbyists and other efforts to site and build a facility within 30 miles of Seattle. We're just kind of in a holding pattern right now to see how things work out in Washington," Lynch said. "I think it's safe to say with all the effort we've put in Washington, we're focusing up there."
ISC announced last fall that it had chosen a site near Marysville, Wash., but by November the deal was off. Since then, Lynch has toured and researched dozens of sites in Washington and Oregon.
Neil Handy, co-chair of a campaign to bring the speedway to a tract of land occupied by the shuttered Reynolds Aluminum plant in Troutdale, said Lynch told him and other members of the Cascade Speedway and Sportsplex Committee of ISC's plans last Thursday. Earlier that day, Lynch had been in Salem meeting with representatives of the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department and Gov. Ted Kulongoski's office.
"We'll keep working on it and be ready in case it falls through again," Handy said. "Everything's still in place to go forward." But for now, any such complex in the Northwest probably will be built in Washington. A site in Kitsap County south of the Bremerton National Airport is considered the frontrunner. Portland Oregonian
No promoter for Milwaukee races Who will be the promoter at the Milwaukee, Wisconsin State Fair Park this year? The Fair has booked Champ Car, IRL and NASCAR events for its famed Milwaukee Mile, but has had no success in finding a promoter. Negotiations are said to be ongoing with former operators the Giuffre Brothers, who report race-team-owner John Menard and short-track promoter John Kaishian have signed on with them, and with local businessmen Mike Sweeney and Mike Welsh. Prospects, however, seem dim as the State lost $3.6 million on 2004 racing events which the Fair promoted. Will Champ Car and the IRL have to promote the races themselves. In part from National Speed Sport News
Marlboro on Ferrari until 2010? Marlboro is apparently willing to go on funding Ferrari until at least 2010 (despite the anti-tobacco legislation and a 2001 agreement between the tobacco companies that they would stop sponsorship of sports in 2006). Much will depend on the legislation but it may be that Marlboro will continue to buy the space on the cars and if there are legal problems will sell it on to other sponsors, such as Vodafone. Grandprix.com
Will Fiat be forced to pull plug on Ferrari? Ferrari is sticking to its guns in F1 politics at the moment, having negotiated itself a very favorable deal with Formula One Management for the period 2008-2012. The problem is that none of the other teams want any part of the same deal. Ferrari has long had its budget topped up by Fiat - the majority shareholder in the team - but things are becoming more difficult all the time.
Fiat's shares were suspended in trading yesterday on the Italian stock exchange after they dropped more that 10% in value. The shares were trading at their lowest level in nearly 20 years. The sudden fall in value came as European investors digested the latest results from General Motors, allied to the weak car market in Europe and fears about Fiat's cash flow. There were fears that GM might miss its final payment to Fiat of $718m which is due at the end of May, following their decision in February to dissolve their joint ventures and annul a deal for GM to buy Fiat.
If all goes to plan by September Fiat will come under the control of lending banks when a $1.5bn loan will be converted into equity. And, as F1 has discovered in recent times, banks are interested in money rather than making sure that sporting adventures operate properly. Grandprix.com
Feedback on IRL Champ Car unification talkUPDATE #5 Another writes, Dear AutoRacing1, As a die-hard Champ Car fan and a casual IRL fan (hey I have to watch something on the off weeks) I have been following the discussion with great interest. I like the idea of two separate series that meet for a select number of combined races. The problem arises in fitting all of the cars on the track. Sponsors will not support a team that doesn't make the show, ask John Andretti. We could run all the combined races on the super speedways, but the field still needs to be raised to about 38 cars. That's getting a little too crowded for open wheel races. That's my two-cents. T. Fischer, NJ Dear Mr. Fischer, the joint races suggested should be able to accommodate 30 to 33 cars. Yes, some would go home early. Happens every week in NASCAR. Mark C.04/19/05 Yet another reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I saw the headlines on the rumors page and for a moment I dared to hope that common sense might have been applied by either one or both parties in this mess....sadly looks like we'll continue to have two series for the foreseeable future. It's hard to believe that 10 years ago the PPG CART IndyCar series was the best open wheel racing series in the world- 25-30 car grids, packed grandstands, good TV viewing figures, massive corporate interest..all of that has dribbled away because of one man's vision and both sides inability to do the right thing for a sport they all claim to be working in the best interests of. Frankly neither series will flourish if the other exists, I wonder how long Champ Car can continue with ageing equipment and little or no corporate interest, as for the IRL, well if Honda and Toyota do both decide to leave then I can't see how it can continue at all, unless Cosworth comes to the rescue and supplies 20 odd cars with the same engine (now that would be ironic). I suspect the future of Indy Car racing is in the hands of the men from Japan, not with Tony George or the owners of OWRS. In the meantime I'll continue to hope that somehow this can be put back together again, so I can see the best drivers from both series competing against each other on the same track. It will never return to the glory days of 1991-95 but it would be a start. Derek Parkinson, UK04/19/05 Another reader adds, Dear Autoracing1.com:I am a long time CART/Champ Car fan and hate the current state of open wheel racing in the United States. Yes, I blame Tony George for destroying the sport. Yes, an all oval series is very boring. Yes, the IRL cars are overweight and ugly. However, the IRL today is now looking more and more like the old CART with all the same teams and drivers and this year's entry into street racing. If a merger or some type of understanding could occur it would be great for the sport. I get the feeling that Autoracing1.com and some Champ Car fans do not want the merger to happen if it involves Tony George and IRL. I really think that we as Champ Car fans need to keep an open mind and encourage the merger before both series become completely irrelevant. LIFE IS WAY TOO SHORT. Ten years is way too long. We need to try and forgive Tony and try to work with him (as hard as that might be to do) because to remain bitter and for us to stay angry at TG is just spiteful and counterproductive. Tony has shown that he can change. (i.e., his opinion on engine leases, non-American drivers, street courses etc.....) He doesn't have everything figured out but at least he is not too proud to change his tune. And sure, TG may reject the olive branch and if he does SO WHAT. Champ Car can continue to move on, but if something can be done and a merger is possible, to try and discourage the merger would in effect amount to cutting off our collective noses to spite our collective faces. We all (Champ Car/IRL Fans) need to move on and remember we are on the same side and we have more things in common than things we disagree about. We have to try to save open wheel racing in America before NASCAR is racing at Long Beach. Peter M. Romero, Esq. 04/18/05 Another writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I thought I smelled a rat with this talk of reunification until I found out it was Champ Car that instigated the talks. This truly puzzles me as to why Champ Car would do this. Speaking purely from a Champ Car fan's perspective, there is no going back. This was a very messy divorce and I have never seen nor heard of one that was mended. As a Champ Car fan I despise Tony George for what he did. I am disgusted with and would not enjoy supporting the likes of Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi, Bobby Rahal, Michael Andretti and Adrian Fernandez. If this were a marriage, they cheated on me and I'll never forgive them for it. I believe it will be easier to mend the fences with ownership then it will be with the fans. Herein lies the problem, because the only people who love and have kept open wheel racing alive in America, hate the rival series. How will you mend the fences without losing half or all of your fan base? We all need to face the cold hard reality that one series will die and the other will live. When this will happen, no one knows but it will happen. I for one, could not and will not support a series that has anything to do with Tony George unless he is completely out of the picture. If the IRL is serious about reunification then have them announce they will not go after Long Beach. Until then, it's only wishful thinking by fans who miss the past. Arno Fritz, Milwaukee, WI04/18/05 Another writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Well, where do I begin? All this unification crap popping up, give me a freaking break. For the last ten years Tony George has done nothing but badmouth and try to destroy CART/Champ Car. He thought his dream came true a little over one year ago when CART filed for bankruptcy, but Champ Car was born thanks to three men who had a real vision and a real plan. They go about their business signing new drivers, new teams, new venues, new sponsors and so on, and it's working. Why would they for one single second think of unifying with an arrogant SOB who still only wants to buy them out and keep open-wheel racing trapped in the NASCAR world known as The United States? So don't believe for a second that three very smart businessmen would fall for all of this, they won't. It is clear as day that the IRL is sinking faster than the Titanic, and I for one say let Captain Tony go down with his crappy ship. He started this whole mess with dividing open-wheel racing and letting the glorified station wagons (NASCAR) nearly monopolize the U.S. and NAFTA market. I have NO pity for him. Furthermore, what good would it really do for Champ Car? In fact, I believe it would actually hurt them and set them back ten years. Patrick Carpentier's comments on Wind Tunnel last night were the perfect example. He said he would like to see the two sides unify and run the way it used too, with an equal mix of street circuits, road courses and ovals run in the U.S.. Well guess what? Things are a little different now. NASCAR pretty much owns the U.S. market (as far as oval racing anyway). Any open-wheel race on an oval now (including the Indy 500) is a waste of time, energy and money. Nobody cares! This is why CC is moving away from those events and hosting more road and street races in other counties. Tony George and the IRL offer almost nothing (with the exception of about 10 fans). Also, George is so despised by the ever loyal CC fans that CC might risk facing a backlash by joining Tony, whether or not it is as one division or two. I for one want absolutely nothing to do with the man, and neither should CC. Deke McTeer, Twin Lake, MI04/17/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I personally believe it is great that both sides are talking. Unfortunately, it still appears, after 10 years, that George still has to be "the man." I, for one, am very excited about the way Champ Car is heading and am very excited, after many patient years of waiting, to see the new and improved Champ Car chassis and engine. I can't wait!!! But, if a merger, although I believe best for both series, means ditching the new chassis and engine for another dumbed-down or seriously OVERWEIGHT current chassis/engine combo, I just can't deal with that. Now, if there was some way to unite the two series and still get the new Champ Car chassis and engine, I'm all for it, definitely.
Most of us devoted and loyal Champ Car fans have remained very patient through these very trying years. You could actually say it was us, the fans, that actually saved Champ Car. That being the case, I believe all of us have been holding on dearly because we remember the glory days of Champ Car: when our heroes piloted those awe-inspiring 900+ hp rockets and F1 was quivering at its knees at their performance. It is that future (and better!) that I finally can see once again for Champ Car and I'm damn excited about it. To have that ruined, once again, by the man who started this mess would be unconscionable. We (Champ Car) have come through too much over the past few years to have progress stifled once again. As the article states, like the phoenix rising from the ashes. Derek Hughes, Florida Dear Derek, If there were to be a merger, which is difficult at best, there will have to be some compromises from both sides. I have yet to hear any fan say they prefer the look or the sound of an IRL car. The Champ Car is still a better platform, but a new chassis is necessary with more safety for the ovals because the current Champ Car chassis was designed years ago. One of the reasons an IRL car is so hideous looking is because of the way the sidepods are designed to protect a driver when he crashes into a concrete wall at high speeds. If high speed ovals are to remain a part of both series then the cars will always be a compromise. Mark C.
OWRS and Tony George to talk unification UPDATE #8 This Indy Star article says a lot of the same rhetoric on this topic. Brian Barnhart said a few things that make it clear the IRL would prefer to run the sport into extinction rather than work toward a compromise solution. It's time for the fans to put an end to this war. It's now clear which side is preventing any sort of unification and it's not the Champ Car side. It will be interesting to see whether the fans (i.e. the paying customers who generally recognize that a unification is needed) now show the IRL who is boss by boycotting IRL races, thereby breaking George's will to fight. George couldn't be reached for comment Monday, but IRL president Brian Barnhart pointed out what he considers flaws in the idea on several levels. "How are you going to sell sponsors on that?" he said. "How is that going to lessen the confusion that's in the marketplace? "That doesn't begin to fit the criteria of merger or unification." [Editor's Note: Read the groundwork for talks here Brian Barnhart.] Barnhart said George left the meeting with Eidswick and Champ Car executive vice president Joe Chrnelich with the impression little new ground had been covered. Barnhart said the problems with open-wheel racing are larger than the excitement level of the competition. Still, television ratings have declined while sponsorship packages are becoming more difficult to secure.
Champ Car and the IRL are on different travel schedules, too. Kalkhoven's plan is an international series that predominantly utilizes street circuits. George wants the IRL to be mostly a North American series heavy on ovals tracks such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which his family owns.
"Anything that keeps the two series going does nothing to fix the problem with open-wheel racing," Barnhart said. "Equipment is not what has separated these groups for the past 10 years. It's philosophical issues. It's where do you run, who makes the decisions, things like that. We're still in the same place we've been for 10 years."
Kalkhoven said the assumption that one side has to relinquish control to the other is "completely invalid." But he did not say how the series can survive long term apart. "Neither side has to win or lose; the fans should be the ones that win," Kalkhoven said. "There is a very large international following (that) really enjoys the American interpretation of open-wheel racing because it's closely contested, unlike Formula One. There's good action and parity in (engine) horsepower. It's like Harley-Davidson: It's not a great invention, but it's a great American interpretation of (the motorcycle)."
Barnhart's frustration is born out of timing -- the Indy 500 opens for practice in three weeks, and he thinks this is a distraction to the 89th running of the event. "There was absolutely nothing new put on the table at that meeting, and there was certainly nothing that's of interest to us," he said. "It's the same (stuff), and the worst part is that it comes right before the start of the month of May. It happens every year. How can that be a coincidence?" [Editor's Note: Hogwash. Why does Barnhart not want a unification and views yet another Olive branch by Champ Car negatively. Perhaps he fears he would lose his job under a unified series.]
04/19/05 The final additions have been made to the transcript, taking you to the end of the show. Will this dialog get Tony George to change his mind and lead to a unification? We doubt that will happen unless both Toyota and Honda withdraw of the IRL and Tony George has no more engine manufacturers. 04/18/05 We have added to the transcript from Sunday night's Wind Tunnel discussion on this topic. 04/18/05 We are downgrading the rumor the report that Champ Car and the IRL will come to some sort of agreement to 'false.' Yes they talked, and Robin Miller's report is accurate except for the part about Dick Eidswick saying Tony George made an offer to buy Champ Car. We have confirmed that Tony did not say that to Dick. Dick Eidswick told AutoRacing1.com that he was trying to see if something could get done before both sides solidified their positions on a 2007 plan which is coming up in the next two months. They just agreed to disagree. It didn't work, end of story. Once again Champ Car extends an Olive branch and once again Tony George rejects it. C'est la vie! The "war" goes on. 04/18/05 Since the rumors that Champ Car and the IRL may be talking about a possible way to form some sort of unified body or run under a unified set of rules has really got the race fans excited and started a lot of conversation on the discussion forums, we thought you would like to read exactly what was said by Dave Despain, Robin Miller and Tommy Kendall on SPEED Channel's Wind Tunnel last night. It's important that the facts and statements are as accurate as possible on this topic. Transcript04/17/05 This SPEEDTV article sheds more light on the talks (key excerpts) - I called Tony for a meeting and, in my opinion, we didn't get anywhere or make any progress but he was very cordial," said Dick Eidswick. "While we openly disagree of how to go forward, we don't do it with any anger. I sense that he believes in having only one series and he's tired of the way things are going but we have different ideas on how to approach things." George, who said he didn't want to get into the details of their discussion, did offer this: "So far nothing has been talked about that excites me." And this would include Champ Car's apparent desire of a common chassis and engine -- starting in 2007 when both series are due for news cars and motors.
"The goal is not to get us together, I mean that would be nice but it probably isn't ever going to happen, so our goal is to have four big shows together. Indy and three others," said Cotman. "But if we don't do it for '07, we never ever will."
Car owner Paul Newman offered: "If we could run four or five races together, that's a beginning. I don't think it would take long before we came together."
But George isn't buying that as a slam dunk solution. "First of all, if we still have two separate series and we come together for a few races one of the challenges is how do we as individuals, teams and a business, go out and sell sponsorship? We can't spin that to look like one and nobody is going to be any more interested in supporting a fragmented group. Besides, both of us have pretty reliable packages that work so the question is: is one of them worth changing? I fail to see how having common engines and chassis allows us to get together or eliminates confusion. I don't know the definition of unification but I don't think it's two individual series."
George said even if they agreed on common rules, that hardly opens the door. "Engines and chassis are the easy part," he said. "The philosophical issues, that's the challenge."
Eidswick said George's solution to unification is to buy Champ Car but that doesn't fly with Open Wheel Racing Series owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe. "Dick tells me Tony still wants to buy us out and only wants to run races in North America so, in my mind, that's the end of the discussion," said Kalkhoven, who owns 45 percent of OWRS along with Forsythe (Paul Gentilozzi owns the other 10 percent). "I'm not here to let this series be driven into the dust and neither is Gerry. We've got some good things happening, our strategy is laid out and if Tony wants to join us, that's great."
Forsythe echoed his partner's thoughts. "We met three times last year and he (George) wanted to buy us out so obviously nothing has changed," said Forsythe. "I have no problem with Tony being our partner but he doesn't seem to want a partner. I have no problem with giving Tony some playing cards but I don't want to sell him Champ Car. I think three or four good business people are stronger than one person."
Asked about how long he and Forsythe are willing to spend millions of their own dollars to keep Champ Car afloat, Kalkhoven responded: "The amount of money we're spending is very little overall and I can afford to run this thing forever."
But the Indianapolis Motor Speedway president is convinced that one series is the only way to restore open wheel's fan base, sponsorship and television ratings. "Anything short of that doesn't accomplish the objective of growing open wheel racing," said George. [Editor's Note: We agree with Tony on the point that staying two separate series is not a good thing. Our proposal was a merger under one organization with Tony and OWRS working together and managing two equal divisions with a playoff type system like stick and ball sports. This way Tony has full control of his division and OWRS theirs, but they meet together for the common goal of growing the sport. The key would be neither division, neither side, stealing races and sponsors from the other. There would have to be some ground rules established that everyone, teams included, abide by. Common marketing and PR departments would be essential
04/17/05 AutoRacing1.com spoke to Kevin Kalkhoven tonight who said "Yes a meeting or discussion did take place on Friday and I was as surprised as anyone about it. It took place without my knowledge and there appears to be discussions going on at the lower levels and we will see it they go anywhere and if they get to my level. Dick Eidswick, who met with Tony, tells me Tony still wants to buy us out and only wants to run races in North America so, in my mind, that's the end of the discussion," said Kalkhoven. A Marlboro representative initiated the talks." Mark Cipolloni 04/17/05 Speculating, the attempt here is perhaps what we suggested should happen for years now and again most recently, i.e. why not have the two sides unite under one umbrella with two divisions, called American and National, or whatever? Tony can run his division and OWRS their division, but the two sides can come together for some sort of playoff or triple crown.....turn the negative rivalry into a positive rivalry like we see in stick and ball sports. This is only possible with a common set of rules, cars and engines. Champ Car has big plans in the works. So does the IRL. Both have gotten too big with too many races and too many teams to just merge into one division. Two divisions would be necessary and in fact better since it would create the friendly rivalry between the two sides that the sport needs. Stay tuned for more..... 04/17/05 Robin Miller reported on Speed News Tonight that Champ Car President Dick Eidswick initiated a call to IRL President Tony George this weekend to discuss what it would take to unite the two series. Supposedly Mario Andretti is the driving force behind an initiative for a common engine/chassis formula so that if CCWS and IRL do not unite, they can at least run some big events together. Recall what we wrote recently - it's now or never to find common ground. Champ Car is moving to a new engine and chassis in 2007 and so is the IRL. If anytime was right, now is the time. And if the rumors are true that Toyota and Honda may leave the IRL, Cosworth can supply engines for everyone, unless other manufacturers step in.
Miller says that Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi are fine with Tony George as a partner provided he is not the main man - i.e. equal partners of some sort. Miller says that Tony George is suggesting that things could happen if he can talk directly to the three OWRS principals...but then reportedly is playing coy about it. We have seen Tony jerk CART and Champ Car around in the past. Could he be sincere this time? Miller will be on Wind Tunnel tonight to discuss more details.
Can the Indy 500 be far behind?UPDATE It's now fact that the NFL's "Monday Night Football," a hallmark of television sports programming since the days of Howard Cosell, is leaving ABC after 35 years for ESPN starting with the 2006 season. The NFL's new broadcast deal also brings football back to NBC for the first time in six years. NBC will take over the Sunday night games previously broadcast on ESPN, and plans to use a flexible scheduling model that ensures meaningful games will be played in that slot late in the season. The "Monday Night Football" move to cable is expected to cost ESPN $1.1 billion per year over eight years, two sources familiar with the deals told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity. NBC will get the Sunday night package for $600 million over six years, according to the sources. The network also will get the Super Bowl in 2009 and 2012 as part of the deal, one of the sources said. AP Story If Monday Night football, who's ratings dwarfed that of the Indy 500, are moving to cable TV, can the Indy 500 be far behind? 04/15/05 Disney would like to move "Monday Night Football" from its ABC network to cable channel ESPN, the New York Times reports Thursday. The move, the Times report states, would give the cable network a prime time sporting event on a night when no other games are going on. It also states Sunday night games would be aired on ABC. Walt Disney Co., of Burbank, would pay the National Football League $1.45 billion for the switch, the report states. ESPN also is a unit of Disney. The report states ABC loses about $150 million annually from "Monday Night Football." If ABC wants to move Monday Night Football to ESPN, what does the future hold for the Indy 500, which last year only garnered a 4.1 TV rating and is headed for the 3's? Might the next TV contract for the Indy 500 see it moved to cable TV? If Tony George continues with the split from Champ Car, continues the destruction of open wheel racing, bank on it.
Beijing design almost done Our Beijing sources tell us that plans for the expansion of the Goldenport track are getting closer to reality. BAMSA, the government owned company that Champ Car signed the agreement with, has assets of approximately 1.2 billion Yuan, and it looks to our sources like they are pretty well gung-ho to have the event there at Goldenport (recall the race may move to the Olympic Village in 2009 and a street race in Beijing was apparently considered even before that). There have been a couple more revisions to the track extension, and we hope to see a diagram in a week or so, and that should be the final draft. The Aussie designers will be there next week, we believe, to finalize the design.
Our Beijing informants also tell us the Chinese contingent came back from Long Beach very impressed (giddy is how it was described to us) with what they saw and the "insider" view they were given. Even more impressed than the F1 race in Shanghai that they attended.
Meanwhile, some potential support races have emerged for the headline featured Champ Car race. The A1 Grand Prix Series has paid a visit to Goldenport. Sheikh Maktoum himself dropped by and took a look and had a chat, and it seems that he would like the Chinese stop on the circuit to come to Beijing, rather than Shanghai. They will also be back at some point to take a look at the expansion and to engage in serious discussions regarding a race there. This Thursday evening, a representative of the Superfund F3000 Series is arriving. Mark C.
Canadian GP ’scandal’UPDATE Further research reveals that this has nothing to do with the Canadian Grand Prix. Actually, all those clowns are in court as we speak, its the Gomery commission, live on TV in Québec. The short story is the Liberal government gave a lot of money to some publicity firms for Canadian exposure at the F1 Grand Prix and a lot of other events. These firms would buy a lot of tickets, charge a big markup and the money didn't end up where it was supposed to. Its a scandal there and they are actually bored of hearing about it. It's everywhere in the news and been so for months. The big story is that these firms charged way too much for way to little. The Liberal government is also in big trouble and federal elections are set for June after just one year in power since the latest elections. 04/19/05 Canadian grand prix 'scandal.' That's how one Montreal newspaper described 'falsification of paperwork' ahead of the 1998 F1 race there. 'Canadian Press' said two GP vice presidents 'conspired' with 'Groupaction' to 'shower (F1) tickets' on the advertising firm. They reportedly admitted to a federal inquiry that 'Groupaction used (a $200,000) boost in funding to buy the tickets.'
Jordan to start MotoGP team? Far-fetched or not, here's the rumor. Eddie Jordan, too young to retire but having sold his Silverstone-based F1 squad to Alex Shnaider, may set up a MotoGP team. So said F1 Racing magazine, although a more plausible job is driver or sports management. How about a hand-in-hand role with 'supremo' Bernie Ecclestone? In the British magazine, EJ denied that he and the grey-haired impresario had discussed 'anything in detail.'
''But we agree that Formula One could do with a bit more pizzazz, a bit more rock'n'roll.'' So, what's the likelihood that Eddie Jordan will pull on a white shirt and black pants? EJ said it all depends on 2005. ''If it's entertaining,'' he speculated, ''nobody will worry about (it). If not, then maybe I'll get involved.''
More HP coming from Menard engines A highly placed source close to Robby Gordon's #7 team has admitted that John Menard's engine shop in England, which supplies engines to Gordon's Cup and Busch efforts, has "found something" which definitely will allow their engines to produce more horsepower and turn people's heads – especially those at Hendrick Motorsports, whose Chevy engines are currently best in class. FYI: Menard's engine works is a former F1 engine manufacturer that was used to build race engines capable of running more than 17,000 rpm and producing 1,200 horsepower. Was there any question they would get a Cup motor right? Now we know why Gordon has been so adamant about hanging in there with Menard. Yahoo Sports [Editor's Note: 1,200 hp? This guy is mistaken.]
What is Pook up to?UPDATE #2 We made an error in reporting Pook's salary. It is $455,000 not $45,000. That is a significant amount of money and is draining the remaining assets of CART, Inc. (stock value), money that would otherwise be going to shareholders and creditors. If he isn't working 16 hours a day five days a week for that big a salary the shareholders are being ripped off. 04/18/05 CART, Inc's. SEC 10-K (Annual Report) filing of April 15, 2005 for the fiscal year through December 31, 2004, provides some additional insight. Pook remains as the sole Director, President and CEO of CART, Inc. at a 2004 salary of $45,500 plus $28,745 in other compensation (insurance, car allowance, etc.). Tom Carter, CART, Inc's. CFO also remains employed. The filing specifically indicates "As of March 31, 2005, we had two employees. In connection with our intention to dissolve the Company in the future, we have retained these employees for the purpose of executing the dissolution process, including winding down the Company and Raceworks, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary." Both Pook and Carter have employment contracts that run through June 30, 2005, for a 2005 combined estimated contractual obligation of $330,000.
On an unrelated note, this morning at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Indiana, Judge Frank Ott is hearing a settlement agreement between the CART Liquidation Trust and 88 Corp (California Speedway). 04/15/05CART, Inc's. SEC 8-K filing of December 8, 2004, indicates Pook's employment contract with CART, Inc. has been extended until June 30, 2005. From that, it is safe to assume that he is still on CART's payroll. So, is he helping Champ Car retain the Long Beach race? Pook is shown right talking to Carl Haas on the grid at last weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo by Adriano Manocchia We believe Chris Pook is still the CEO, or whatever executive title, of CART, Inc. Since the business affairs of CART, Inc. are still not wrapped up, we assume that CART, Inc. needs to have someone for signatures, etc. on the finalizing documents relating to the bankruptcy and finally dissolving the company.
Renault to introduce B-spec engine Rob White, Renault F1’s Engine Technical Director has looked back over the past three events of the 2005 season where the French based squad has taken three successive victories, explaining how engine usage has changed this year as drivers are forced to use the same engine for two consecutive events.
“Overall, the way we use the engines in 2005 is an evolution of how they were used in 2004 – but the life cycle is now twice as long. The chassis and engine engineers agree how much running will be done before each weekend, and in what conditions that will be done – usually in the week running up to the event,” he explained. “We then manage our program according to these decisions, and new information that arrives during the weekend: for example, we may adjust our programs to accommodate changing weather conditions. Finally, the use of the engine's «potential» – for example, the number of laps run at high revs – is managed with the aim of getting the best racing results over both events in which the engine is used.”
But, does this mean engine use has become more strategic?
”It is certainly more complicated now! The first point is that the increased engine life is technically difficult to achieve, but after that, we use the engine differently in practice, qualifying and the race,” Rob said. “Only three years ago, we could use a different version of the engine in each session – a ‘qualifying special' for example, optimized for a much shorter life span, and then a race spec for Sunday. Now, we must make choices on how we use a single engine, and its performance, in each of the sessions across two weekends.”
Has the first races given him an opportunity to assess the performance of the RS25 relative to its competitors?
”In isolation, we were pleased with the performance of the RS25 when it first ran on the dyno – despite very late rule changes, we hit all our performance targets before the season. However, the isolated performance of the engine is not what matters – we always take a car-wide view of performance, and look at the V10 as part of the whole. This prevents us from making direct comparisons of absolute engine performance relative to the competition. But we are certainly pleased with our engine's contribution to the performance of the R25 – and with the performance of the R25-RS25 package relative to its competitors.”
In an unusual twist, while Fernando Alonso took victory in Bahrain, teammate Giancarlo Fisichella suffered an engine failure early in the event. So, following this, Giancarlo may race with a ‘B' specification engine in Imola. Here Rob updates us on the status of the new engine…
”One of the purposes of the new regulations was to slow down the rate of performance development, and they have succeeded: it is now more difficult to approve new parts for introduction, and we only have a limited number of opportunities at which to introduce these parts,” he said. “Our approach for 2005 will be to introduce performance developments in packages, and the ‘B' spec is the first in a series of planned evolutions, that was initially scheduled for introduction in Barcelona. Following Giancarlo's engine failure in Bahrain, we saw the opportunity to accelerate the build of a race engine to this spec to fit in his car. However, the final decision on its use will depend on dyno tests, and the detailed analysis of results from testing last week in Paul Ricard. It is important to stress that we will not be taking any short-cuts in the approval process in order to race RS25B at Imola instead of Barcelona.” Renault
Briatore want to bring F1 to streets of Big Apple Enthused by yesterday’s successful demonstration in Rome, Renault boss Flavio Briatore has floated the idea of running his Formula 1 cars through the streets of New York. An estimated 25,000 Romans braved miserable weather conditions to watch their fellow citizen Giancarlo Fisichella drive his R25 around the Eternal City’s fabled Circus Maximus. It was the latest stop in Renault’s Formula 1 road show, which has already visited Lyon, Moscow and Madrid and is scheduled to visit other European city centre destinations later this season. Now Briatore has set an even more ambitious goal of taking F1 to the Big Apple. “My dream is to have a road show on the streets of New York,” he told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport. Briatore sees his team’s road show concept, together with similar events like last summer’s Regent Street parade in London, as an important means of F1 teams and drivers reconnecting with the fans, as well as introducing the sport to a wider public. “Formula 1 needs to get closer to the people,” he declared. “At the circuits there are barriers and walls which keep spectators away, so days like these are important, besides being very difficult to organize.” ITV.com/F1
Bridgestone to enter Nextel Cup with Toyota There is a new twist to the Toyota-NASCAR game plan: according to sources Toyota is already testing NASCAR-style tires for Bridgestone-Firestone, with the implication that when Toyota does step up to the Nextel Cup series, it plans to do so with Bridgestone-Firestone. Since Goodyear has an exclusive contract with NASCAR, the questions are obvious - are Toyota and Bridgestone going to challenge that exclusivity, or is NASCAR going to open up the Cup tour to competition between the two tire giants? Winston Salem Journal
Ralf 'annoyed'? Toyota's Mike Gascoyne has downplayed fears that the Cologne-based grand prix team could fall off the pace at Imola. ''I don't see why,'' he said in an interview. Previously, Toyota - with a new diffuser, front wing and sidepods for Imola - has struggled to get its F1 car to effectively ride the Italian circuit's infamous curbs. But Gascoyne dismissed the 'issue.' ''When your car is off the pace,'' he explained, ''you tend to use the curbs to compensate.''
Mike also denied that podium-getter Jarno Trulli has an 'edge' on teammate Ralf Schumacher. ''In many ways,'' Gascoyne tempered, ''Ralf's drive in Bahrain was stronger than Jarno's. ''Ralf is not annoyed ... because he can see the potential. He's not worried.''
Biffle downplays switch rumors Reports say that Greg Biffle, driver of Roush Racing's #16, may again be in play, although Biffle says he hopes to stay with Roush if terms can be made satisfactory. Biffle, rumored to be a top choice to replace Wallace, told reporters that an extension with Roush was "in final discussions. I haven't talked to anybody, and I don't plan to until I have exhausted every possible resource [for] staying at Roush Racing." Speed Channel
Burton may try Indy 500 With rumblings that the Nextel Cup Series "Silly Season" of driver hirings and firings could be ready to kick into gear, Ward Burton made an appearance at Texas Motor Speedway yesterday. The South Boston, Va., native was announcing a new marketing partnership between his wildlife foundation and Beretta that will promote firearm safety for kids, but he also spent several minutes answering questions about his NASCAR future. An Internet report yesterday linked the 43-year-old with possibly replacing Jason Leffler in the #11 Chevrolet of Joe Gibbs Racing. With the impending retirements of Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin, and the expected departure of veterans such as Sterling Marlin from established teams, several other quality rides could be open by the end of the year. Burton, who has stayed busy managing his Halifax County preserve, doing charity work and developing an outdoors show for TV, said he wasn't in serious discussions with any team. He reportedly has been offered rides in the Cup, Busch and Truck series. "I won't come back if the right situation isn't there," he said. "I won't say Cup is my only choice, but it's the only one I'm considering." Burton said he also had been contacted about attempting the Indianapolis 500. Richmond Times Dispatch
Ferrari ’sign’ Alonso?UPDATE #3 This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' Ferrari's Jean Todt quashed speculation Ferrari were interested in signing Fernando Alonso and said he had his eye on other talented young drivers. "I certainly don't have a 'stand-by-Schumacher' who could suddenly jump in (if Schumacher retires)," Todt said. "But we're not sleeping. There are several talented drivers. They all have contracts.
"Who keeps saying we want Alonso?" Todt said. "He's got talent, okay. But there are other drivers, even very good ones. I can tell you this: Alonso is not at the top of our list.
"Even if this may not sound very respectful to Alonso, I consider a young man who drives for a German-English team to be the better choice," Todt said. When asked by Bild am Sonntag if he meant McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, Todt laughed and said: "Next question." Reuters
04/12/05 Fernando Alonso will never drive for Ferrari so long as seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher is in the cockpit, Renault team chief Flavio Briatore said today. Alonso has been linked with a move to the Italian team but Briatore insists the 24-year-old is not willing to play second fiddle to German Schumacher. "While Michael Schumacher is there, Alonso will never drive for Ferrari," Briatore told Motorsport Aktuell magazine. "Ferrari is not the only team that Fernando could go to. Indeed Renault can hold on to Alonso by providing him with the most competitive car." 04/05/05 We are hearing that Ferrari were very keen on acquiring the future services of Fernando Alonso, but there was only one thing preventing them from signing him - Flavio Briatore, his manager. The powers that be within the team absolutely did not, for whatever reason, want to deal with him. For this reason, this rumor could go to 'false.' 04/04/05 F1's man-of-the-moment, Fernando Alonso, may already be destined for a scarlet future. The Spaniard, contracted to rapid Renault only to the end of 2005, is rumored to have already signed an open-ended 'option' to join Ferrari in 2007. Why '07? Because, then - for the first time in more than a decade - Maranello could be without 'wunderkind' Michael Schumacher.
''No, we don't (have a contract),'' a source close to the 23-year-old's management replied to the speculation.
Ferrari boss Jean Todt, though, is now an open and public admirer of the little Spaniard, who on Sunday won a second GP on the trot. The Frenchman told Spanish newspaper ABC: ''We will have to see if he drives with us in the future.''
Tony George may field Rolex entry Indystar.com reported recently that Tony George is looking to field an entry at the 2006 Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona. George said he hopes to field a sports car for next year's 24 Hours of Daytona now that he owns a race shop (the former home of Kelley Racing). He also confirmed he's the sole funding source for Vision Racing.
LB journalist thinks race will switch horses This Long Beach Press Telegram article says, It's the hunch here that Jim Michaelian and Dover Motorsports will wind up switching their Long Beach Grand Prix allegiance to Tony George and the Indy Racing League. It will be a reluctant decision because an overwhelming preponderance of Grand Prix patrons prefer Kevin Kalkhoven's Champ Car series and particularly despise George and the role he played in the bitter breakaway from CART that left that organization hemorrhaging in red ink and has left open wheel racing lagging far behind NASCAR.
But the feeling here is that the corporate muscle George's group has behind it Target, 7-Eleven, Toyota, Honda, Firestone, Marlboro as well its commitment to American venues 15 of its 16 races are in this country will be the decisive factors in ultimately gaining the IRL the Long Beach race. [Editor's Note: Marlboro is gone after 2006 due to tobacco regulations, Chip Ganassi and Target are rumored to be leaving, Toyota is rumored to be leaving and if they leave Honda won't be far behind. It will be interesting how this all plays out. Are the rumors true? If yes, is Dover smart enough to see that?]
Actually, I would like to see the status quo remain, because I think Kalkhoven has the Champ Car circuit on the upswing and that it will continue to make significant strides in the upcoming years. But, unfortunately, it will stage seven of its 14 races this year outside of American territory, which will not help its badly needed marketing in these parts. [Editor's Note: This is nonsense. What is the marketing doing for the IRL? 8,000 fans at Phoenix! Horrible TV ratings! George seriously damaged open wheel racing by creating the IRL. It's going to take years to rebuild. With NASCAR's stranglehold on the USA, Champ Car has decided, for now, to retain only key USA markets and branch out worldwide to become a 2nd F1 series, which will bring worldwide notoriety to Long Beach and their race as fans tune in around the globe in increasing numbers to watch the league's premier event.]
I think the Long Beach race can do without George's legendary arrogance and one keeps hearing many of the teams and drivers aren't exactly bursting with joy working under his tentacles.
But it's the goal of Michaelian and Dover Motorsports to maximize the potential i.e., profits of the Long Beach Grand Prix. Back-to-back race-day crowds of 75,000 although certainly respectable haven't exactly met their expectations [Editor's Note: Many say the attendance was actually much higher than that]. Jim Michaelian insists no decision has been made and I believe him. But the reality is that the IRL, detested by so many in the racing community, simply holds too many decisive advantages.
FIA threatened with lawsuit Max Mosley, the president of the FIA, the governing body of international motor sport, yesterday escalated the war with the rebel Formula One teams by signaling his intent to move forward with new 2008 F1 rules despite the boycott of his meetings by the rebel teams.
Repeatedly the FIA have scheduled meetings to discuss the rules. As well, they have solicited opinions in writing from the rebel teams. The FIA has given them every opportunity to have input into the new rules.
As such, in a court the judge will laugh the rebel teams right out of the court room for claiming Mosley is contractually bound by the existing Concorde Agreement to give all of the stakeholders who comprise the Formula One Commission - including the teams - a say in the formulation of the rules before they are presented to the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC). He has given them every chance to have input, they refused.
The remaining rebel teams, led by head antagonist Paul Stoddart, argue that Mosley intends to destabilize their unity and pre-empt their own proposals for the new regulations.
At the FIA's headquarters in Paris, Mosley and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone were joined only by Ferrari and representatives of Red Bull Racing and Jordan from among the rebel teams, Mosley said the first draft of the 2008 Formula One technical regulations will be finalized no later than May 27th for submission to the World Motor Sport Council meeting, to be held on June 29th, and that subject to WMSC approval a draft would be circulated on July 1st to all the main stakeholders in Formula One.
Angry rebel team principals may now finally be considering legal action against the FIA. Max Mosley, being the excellent attorney that he is, will relish that day in court where he will make fools out of the rebels. Bernie Ecclestone has been attending the FIA meetings, not the rebel GPWC meetings.....so you know which side will ultimately win.
Chevy courting Newman The hottest news on the corporate front is that Chevrolet executives may be making a run at Ryan Newman and crew chief Matt Borland, according to NASCAR sources. Newman apparently has one more year left  on his driving contract with Roger Penske but Borland's contract is reported to be up at the end of this season. Now comes word Chevrolet is offering to set up a team for Newman and Borland for 2006, reported to be with engines supplied by Hendrick Motorsports. Winston Salem Journal [Editor's Note: This may support the rumor that Rusty Wallace, who is being bought out by Penske South, will take over Penske's Dodge program with Penske South becoming a Toyota team. Ganassi is also being courted by Toyota. Might Penske and Ganassi become the two primary Toyota teams? Might Newman prefer to go with a tried and true Chevy program that wait years for Toyota to become consistent winners?]
Penske move: What does it all mean? A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, Is the announcement that Roger Penske is going to race in the ALMS rather than Grand-Am a break in the oval cartel? Penske going to ALMS is certainly big news...snubbing the low-tech "NASCAR" sanctioned Grand-Am series. Obviously Porsche is tossing a wad of cash at him, but what do you think this will mean for sports car racing? Could the fans (in the case of Grand-Am the lack of fans) actually be a factor in making a motorsports decision? Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of dumbed-down open-wheel and sports cars! Bob Lowe, Woburn, MA
Dear Bob, It's a bit too early to know for sure what Roger's move means, if anything. The ALMS has made some significant manufacturer gains this year which bodes well for the future of that series. Just as CART was always the superior Indy Car series, ALMS is the superior sports car series. As we have often written, road racing fans have zero interest in dumbed down NASCARized road race cars, hence why the Grand-Am series races attract near-zero race fans despite a valiant effort by its staff. We have told the Grand-Am their model is wrong, but they didn't want to hear it. So while the France family is pumping millions of dollars each year into the series, they might as well pump it down a rathole. When a company has a product the customer doesn't want, the company either makes radical changes or it goes belly up.
Whether Penske's move has anything to do with the rumors that Toyota is leaving the IRL we're not sure. Only Roger knows and he's not talking. Mark C.
DaimlerChrysler to be broken up? There are some interesting reports doing the rounds that DaimlerChrysler shareholders are being approached by private equity firms seeking to buy the company and break it up into different companies. Deutsche Bank, the leading shareholder with 10.4%, has received a number of approaches, as has the Kuwait Investment Authority, which owns 7.2% of the stock. No-one is admitting to the approaches but it is clear that the investment community believes the company makes more sense if it is broken up. The company currently has a market capitalization of around $41bn.
This has reduced significantly since it started trading on the New York Stock Exchange in 1998 when the market capitalization was $84bn. At the time the architect of the merger with Chrysler, Jurgen Schrempp, said that the firm would become the world's most profitable car manufacturer. Today that seems an empty boast as Toyota accelerates away with a market value of $126bn. Investors are less than happy at the developments but it is not yet clear whether they will be tempted by the idea of a break-up. Grandprix.com
Did Bernie make "The Call"? Martin Brundle, who manages David Coulthard, said he was surprised when Peter Sauber elected to hire Jacques Villeneuve, especially since he was told the team was looking at developing younger talent. "The whole thing with Sauber confused me," explained Brundle. "I was talking to Peter on behalf of David and he said, 'No, I'm going to go for a young driver, I'm going to go for youth.' And then he signed Jacques..." "Jacques has been a great driver in Champ Cars and is a great driver in Formula 1; you don't win a lot of grands prix and a world championship if you're not a great driver end of story. Now I think he's fallen off the ledge and I don't think he's got any safety ropes to climb back on."
So why did Sauber go with Villeneuve, who has performed poorly at the last two teams he drove for - BAR and Renault? Speculation is that Bernie Ecclestone requested it, and when Bernie speaks, people listen. His friend Normand Legault, who promotes the Canadian GP, needed a Canadian driver on the grid to help sell tickets and pay Bernie's over inflated F1 sanctioning fee prices. And so it was done......
Goodyear's days numbered? NASCAR is having a lot of tire issues, and it seems like it's all over the board. Drivers are cutting down tires, blowing out sidewalls and tearing up the insides. Some are afraid to blame Goodyear. We're not. They have been making junk tires for years. Blown out of the water by Bridgestone/Firestone, Michelin, Dunlop, and other manufacturers because their tires are inferior, now they're putting NASCAR drivers at risk with tires that blow without warning. Goodyear has an exclusive deal with NASCAR. If there was competition they would be gone by now. Blame also lies with some of the teams. We hear some run low tire pressures of 5 to 8 psi cold at some tracks. And they wonder why they have tire troubles.
Who will replace Mark Martin?UPDATE #3 Virtually everywhere Ricky Craven goes, fans continually ask whether he'll be back in Nextel Cup racing soon. He already has turned down one marginal opportunity this season and instead chose to stay with Roush, as he feels it's the best place for him to be at this point in his career. There indeed will be opportunities with Roush at the Cup level, as Mark Martin is retiring at the end of this season. Craven delicately sidesteps rumors that he may replace Martin in the Roush-owned #6 Ford or take over for Carl Edwards in the #99 if Edwards is tabbed to replace Martin next year. "Jack and I have had conversations, but our primary conversation and objective is to battle for the championship in the 99 truck," Craven said. "I still think there's an opportunity for me, but that's all predicated on us meeting our goals this year. ... If that happens, then I'll have made a pretty good argument for a year in a Roush Cup car. That's really only as far as it goes." Yahoo Sports04/14/05 Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Roush Racing Ford, is no longer slated to replace Mark Martin [retires from Cup at end of 2005] in the No. 6 after this season. "It's pretty obvious he's found a home in the 99," Smith says. "We're going to have to fill the 6 with someone else, and we don't know who that someone else might be." Smith says they will look at current Roush truck series driver Ricky Craven, a former Cup veteran, for the ride. But he expects other drivers in the garage to be interested: "That's a fantastic ride that's going to be available." USA Today10/17/04 Jack Roush said the driver and sponsor status of the #6 Viagra Ford is uncertain after Mark Martin's 2005 retirement. One candidate is Jon Wood, who has struggled to a 15th-place ranking while racing an unsponsored Roush Racing entry in the Craftsman Truck Series this season. Roush is allowing Wood to test with other Busch teams but still would be interested in bringing the Stuart, Va., native back into the fold if he leaves. Richmond Times Dispatch10/17/04 After Mark Martin leaves Cup racing in 2005, who will replace him as the driver? Jon Wood, the son of Wood Brothers Racing co-owner Eddie Wood, is among the drivers being considered as Mark Martin’s replacement for the #6 Roush Racing Nextel Cup entry in 2006. Martin, 45, announced on Thursday that the 2005 season would be his last running a full Nextel Cup schedule. Roush Racing president Geoff Smith said the organization isn’t close to naming a replacement, but mentioned Wood as a possibility. Smith also said Wood, who drives for Roush Racing in the Craftsman Truck Series, would be allowed to pursue an opportunity to drive in the Busch Series for another Ford team that he declined to name. That would allow the organization to evaluate Wood and at the same time keep him under contract with Roush. Wood’s truck ride is without a sponsor. “We’re very much keeping an eye on Jon,” Smith said. “We’ve got a lot of money invested in Jon we haven’t recouped yet.” Smith also acknowledged that Martin could team with another driver and split the Cup schedule in 2006. He said Martin would not run a part-time schedule alone because it would be difficult to put together a first-class team not competing for a championship. Smith said the most likely scenario now is that Martin will drive a full-time schedule in the truck series. The State
Some teams may attend Max’s meetingUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact.' Jordan and Red Bull Racing will attend Friday's meeting with the FIA to discuss future rule changes, Autosport has learned, despite claims last week that only Ferrari would join in the discussions about 2008 rules. According to an exclusive report in this week's Autosport, the two teams are keen not to align themselves too strongly with the plans for a manufacturer breakaway championship and may have been tempted to the FIA talks by the promise of discussions over changes to the 2005 qualifying format. 04/13/05 There are indications that one or more of the F1 teams may attend the FIA meeting on Friday to discuss the federation's plans for 2008 and beyond. Ferrari, of course, will be in attendance but there seems to be a possibility that one or two of the other teams might also turn up in order to maintain their position as neutral in the current dispute. This does not mean that they are switching sides although no doubt that will be the conclusion drawn by those who are keen to promote the idea that the union of the nine teams is flaky. Our understanding is that Red Bull Racing is probably one of the teams and Jordan may be the other. Significantly, Jordan's new owner Alex Shnaider made an appearance at the meeting of the teams and manufacturers last week, having decided to take a look to see the lay of the land. Grandprix.com
Champ Car to renew with Monterrey While AutoRacing1.com has been telling its readers that Champ Car will renew its contract with Monterrey, Mexico when it expires after this year's race, there have been reports by misinformed Mexican reporters that Champ Car will not be returning after this year. We checked with Champ Car boss Gerald Forsythe, who has a financial stake in the event, who said these reports are lies and in fact, the Monterrey folks want to do more with the event, some of which is impossible due to space constraints. This rumor is marked as 'fact' to underscore its validity and to dispel the 'false' rumors being spread in Mexico. Mark C.
Red Bull to switch to Honda enginesUPDATE #2 Red Bull Racing has hinted that it could carry on with current engine supplier Cosworth beyond the end of this season. Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz said: “We must not forget that Cosworth have done an extremely good job this year and performed beyond anybody’s expectations. They really are an option for 2006.” 03/31/05 Red Bull-Honda -- get used to it. But, no matter how likely an '06 deal with the Japanese carmaker might appear, Dieter Mateschitz insists a final decision won't be made until April. The Austrian billionaire told 'Motorsport Aktuell' that he could - if he wanted to - sign a new engine contract with Cosworth, or switch to Ferrari. Honda, though - although he also mentioned BMW and Toyota - is a likely shoe-in. ''But we aim for more,'' said the energy drink magnate. ''We want a cooperation, rather than to just be a customer.'' He insisted that staying with Cosworth would provide 'the biggest level of independence.' 03/09/05 Autosport reports that Red Bull Racing are close to securing the supply of Honda V8 engines for next year's Formula One World Championship, according to sources close to the team. Paying Cosworth in excess of 20 million dollars per year will sap the team's resources and that's why Mateschitz has been shopping around, trying to secure a deal with an engine manufacturer.
Although he denied any deal had been done, Honda's F1 Project Leader, Takeo Kiuchi, admitted "some teams are interested in having our engines for next year and I know they have approached our president on that matter.
"Personally I would prefer to concentrate all our efforts into the relationship with BAR, but I'm not the one who decides on these matters and I can see us supplying a second team next year, in the best interests of the sport and as a mean to support the independent teams."
From Red Bull's side there was also no official confirmation of the deal, although Christian Horner, the 31-year old Sporting Director, said that, "there are two or three manufacturers that have shown interest in supplying engines to a team like ours, but we're also very happy with the work Cosworth has done so far.
"We're considering our options but I expect a decision to be reached soon. We are trying to secure the best possible future for Red Bull Racing and forging a partnership with an engine manufacturer is definitively the way to go to move closer to the front of the field."
GP2 team eyes F1 According to this week's Autosport Magazine, Ex-Ferrari designer Enrique Scalabroni wants to take his BCN Competición outfit into Formula 1 by 2008. Speaking at the GP2 official launch at Paul Ricard last week, Scalabroni said that moving his Spanish-based team into F1 was a logical progression. “Of course Formula 1 is the next step for this team,” he said. “I believe it could be possible for us to be on the grid in 2008. I’m not yet sure if we would set up the team from the bottom, but for sure it would be easier for us to become involved in an existing team.”
Honda leads F1 power race Honda's RA005Eengine is believed to be the most powerful in F1, according to figures seen published in Autosport Magazine. Honda V10: 955bhp Renault’s RS25: 940bhp BMW: 938bhp Ferrari: 935bhp Toyota: 935bhp, Mercedes-Ilmor 920bhp Cosworth: 915bhp The figures have been obtained through sonic monitoring of engine notes. This system measures the pitch of exhaust notes, from which maximum rev and power figures can be extrapolated.
Signature team eyes 2006 entry According to this week's Autosport Magazine, the French Signature team is eyeing a place on the 2006 GP2 grid, even though its plans for this year were ultimately frustrated. The front running Formula 3 Euroseries outfit missed out on getting into this year’s championship, but team boss Philippe Sinault attended the GP2 launch at Paul Ricard last week with a couple of his sponsors, whom he hopes to persuade to back his project next year. “We will be on the 2006 GP2 grid for sure,” he said. “We came close this year, and we are continuing to push very hard.” GP2 boss Bruno Michel said he wasn’t sure if the championship would be opened up to more than 12 teams next year. “There are many considerations with the Formula 1 paddock that we have to look at,” he said.
Dickerson to DEI Former Hendrick Motorsports chassis director Eddie Dickerson will interview with Dale Earnhardt Inc. this week. DEI is starting an in-house chassis program, and Dickerson could use his magic to develop better-handling cars for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who complains about the drivability of his cars. FoxSports/Sporting News
Beijing race to integrate with Olympics Champ Car's Beijing race will run at Goldenport, a natural terrain road course just outside of Beijing, for the first three years (2006 thru 2008) but then, when the 2008 Olympics are over in the summer of 2008, the Champ Car race will move to a more downtown location and be run around the new Olympic Park starting in 2009.
As we have always said, if you understand Chinese politics you will understand the great rivalry between Beijing and Shanghai. All major decisions in China come down from Beijing, and Beijing is not going to be outdone by Shanghai. So if you think Shanghai's F1 race and facility are grandiose, wait until the Champ Car race moves to the Olympic Park in Beijing in 2009. If the Shanghai race draws 200,000 spectators, you can bet Beijing will get at least 200,001. To say this race could become the biggest in the world someday is not an understatement.
BSAM chairman Li Aiqing said: “We are working with the Beijing Sports Bureau to build Beijing into the sports capital of China and to be recognized worldwide as a leader in hosting international sports events. “We believe the Champ Car World Series will provide Beijing and China with a platform for tremendous worldwide exposure leading up to the 2008 Olympics. “The race will also allow BSAM to leverage our investments in the Olympic facilities by integrating the race into the Olympic Park for the years after the Games.” BSAM is a state-owned company.
Beijing Olympic Park will, according to plan, be made the largest comprehensive community of Beijing after the 2008 Olympic Games conclude. Multi-functional, combining business and trade, office, exhibition, sports, exposition and entertainment in one, the park will become a city part in token of Beijing's urban construction in the new century.
Beijing Olympic Park will sit at the north end of the axis of the metropolis. The axis, the most important cultural vein of the city, masterly presents a blend of urban artificial sights with natural scenery.
Besides, the Olympic Park will give a full play to high and sophisticated technology. digital wide-band network communication, wireless transmit, electronic information technology, Internet technology, intelligent technology, etc, will be widely used in the Park.
Grand sports facilities are now under construction in the park and other venues newly constructed and rebuilt will provide Beijing residents with many new places for exercises and entertainment after the 2008 Olympic Games. In addition, they will also provide more high-level hardware to China and Beijing for handling other domestic and international events and with these Beijing will be helped on the way to be built into a world metropolis.
Four Great Buildings to Shape Olympic Beijing
Beijing has both excellent and classical architecture but few distinguished modern buildings.
National Swimming Center--exquisite and exciting "Water Cube" - A semi-transparent "cube", with "bubbles" spread out all over its surface, is a shape very similar to the structure of "H2O", the outlook for the National Swimming Center at the 2008 Olympic Games. After the games, it will become a recreational water park open to the public.
National Stadium--natural "Bird's Nest" - "Bird's Nest" is jointly designed by Herzog and De Meuron Architekten AG, Switzerland, and China Architecture Design Institute. It gained high praise and also aroused most controversy. Some people think the design is too avant-garde and trendy, and not in keeping with acceptable traditional ideas. However, insiders think "Bird's Nest" has properly expressed a new architectural vernacular. Such schemes can not work out without an understanding of Chinese philosophy and the Chinese idea of good timing, geographical convenience and harmonious human relations. As the main stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games, the National Stadium is located in the Olympic Park, northeast of the city axis line, covering an area of 204,100 square meters and forming a construction area of 258,000 square meters. During the 2008 Olympics, the National Stadium is designated to host the opening and closing ceremony, the track and field competition and the soccer games, etc.
The National Stadium accommodates 100,000 spectators of which 20,000 are with temporary seating. After the 2008 Olympics, the National Stadium will be converted to an 80,000-seater stadium suitable for large-scale sport competitions and other non-competitive events. The National Stadium will become a large-scale venue for sports, recreation and entertainment for the people of Beijing.
New CCTV site--unconventional "Z crisscross" - While elaborating on his design concept, Ram Koolhass, designer of "Z crisscross" said: "It's the architecture that China needs -- I bring it to you now!" Wu Yaodong, vice general architect of Tsinghua Architecture Design Institute, pointed out "The open attitude shown in selecting design schemes of this high caliber has surpassed the architecture itself."
National Grand Theater--Paul Andrew's "Eggshell" According to French architect Paul Andrew, after the construction is completed, the Grand Theater will look like a huge green park with an oval and silver grand theater encircled by green water. The shell, made of titanium metal and glass together with day and night lights will add radiance and beauty to each other, and have fast-changing colors. The surroundings of the Grand Theater are semi-transparent, golden netted glass walls. People can see the sky inside the building through its dome. Some people describe the complete Grand Theater as "a crystal drop of water", other people call it a "big egg shell" or "boiled egg".
What's up with Midland? The Midland F1 organization has not exactly been pouring money into Jordan Grand Prix in recent weeks and this has been rather confusing for observers who believed that the Russians would invest heavily in an effort to build the team up. It is hard to understand why team boss Alex Shnaider is not attending more events and not increasing investment. Standing still in F1 is going backwards and now is the time that the team needs to be building up its organization in preparation for 2006. The fact that Dallara is building the 2006 chassis in Italy may be one of the reasons for the apparent lack of activity at Jordan, although we hear that in an effort to keep some of the technical staff at Silverstone, Shnaider has decided that the 2006 gearbox will be designed and built in England. Although there is still no official confirmation there are still rumors that a Ferrari engine deal is on the cards. If the team wants to be taken seriously in F1 it needs a decision within a month so that work can push ahead on the design of the 2006 car. Dallara can do as much work as it likes in preparation for the new season but until it knows for certain what engine will be used, the team cannot hope to be in a position to get good results in 2006 as modern cars are all about the careful integration of the engine and the chassis. Grandprix.com
Mexican GP delayed until 2007 According to a report on Autosport-Atlas, The planned return of the Mexican Grand Prix to the Formula One calendar now looks certain to be postponed until 2007 following delays in the construction of the country's new track. Gabriela Rodriguez, the minister for tourism for the Quintana Roo region, said: "There have been problems, but the plans will now go ahead and for sure we will be ready for the 2007 season." The delay in beginning the work on the new track is understood to have been related to officials purchasing the necessary amount of land around the circuit. This issue has now been resolved and work is due to begin in July.
'LG' to sponsor F1 team? Electronic giant 'LG' may become a F1 team sponsor in 2006. BAR is the favorite, according to speculation, with McLaren also in with a shout. LG, already the main sponsor of British broadcaster ITV's GP coverage and last year's F1 car parade in Regent Street, admitted they are 'dipping our toe in' this year. The spokesperson told the April edition of F1 Racing magazine: ''If (the ITV sponsorship) is successful, we will look at our options.'' 'LG' appeared on the Minardi car, back in 2001.
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