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DATE News (chronologically)
Joe Gibbs may hire hot-head Kurt Busch  
Kurt Busch
Joe Gibbs is one of the most respected men in sports, so when he uttered these words on Tuesday—“We love Kurt (Busch)”—the immediate reaction was one of shock and disbelief.

As in, “What the heck is he thinking?” 

That’s what nearly everyone thought when Gibbs declared that he might consider hiring NASCAR’s most controversial driver for his Sprint Cup team next season.

Even after reading those words over and over again, the reaction for many is still the same.

“What the heck is he thinking?” More ...

Static electricity may have caused Williams fire  (GMM)  It is believed static electricity could have sparked Williams' garage fire two weeks ago in Barcelona.

Even in the Monte Carlo paddock, the huge Spanish blaze was still a hot topic.

The British team and the FIA conducted investigations, but there has been no definite finding about the cause of the fire.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reported suggestions simple static electricity, caused by the specific weather conditions and the fact a container was not grounded at the time, was the culprit.

Williams has scrambled to be ready for Monaco, but the only obvious sign of the fire on Wednesday was one missing mechanic, who is still recovering from burns. More ...

IndyCar may ground Lotus  CNBC reporter Darren Rovell reports that IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard told him that the series may not allow the two slow Lotus cars to race in Sunday's Indy 500 for safety reasons.  How much damage will that do to Lotus' reputation?  They saved money going with Judd instead of Cosworth - they saved pennies and now will do immeasurable damage to the Lotus name.  What genius made that decision?
Has Gibbs found NASCAR's black star?  Nearly every major American sport has black stars, including Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Serena Williams, but the top three Nascar national series have none. It is a glaring absence in a sport desperate to attract new fans and diversify its audience. Darrell Wallace Jr., 18, who is scheduled to make his debut in the lower-level Nationwide Series on Sunday at Iowa Speedway, just might be the one to finally break through.

"We really feel that Darrell is a guy that has a gift behind the wheel," said J. D. Gibbs, the president of Joe Gibbs Racing, one of the top teams in Nascar. Gibbs has been searching for Nascar's first black star for nearly a decade, beginning with a collaboration with Reggie White before he died in 2004, and signed Wallace in 2009, when he was 15. "I think it's a real value to this sport if you can kind of have that piece fit in," Gibbs said. More ...

France and Ecclestone agree F1 race 'price', France rushing to complete GP deal  UPDATE #12
France's new sports minister Valerie Fourneyron
(GMM)  France's new sports minister has confirmed there is some doubt the country will return to the formula one calendar next year.

Bernie Ecclestone announced recently that, with a French race having been absent from F1 since 2008, Paul Ricard could - starting from 2013 - share an annually rotating date with Belgium's Spa Francorchamps.

But then the French government changed.

The new sports minister is Valerie Fourneyron, who told RMC: "There was a remarkable acceleration in this issue recently. More ...

Kubica return 'nearly impossible' - source  
Robert Kubica's F1 career may be over
(GMM)  One of F1's most experienced journalists has expressed grave concerns about the chances Robert Kubica will ever return to the sport.

The highly-rated Pole has been missing from the paddock since early 2011, having been seriously injured in a pre-season rallying crash.

Until recently, there were sporadic reports about the former BMW and Renault driver's recovery, and signs his initially horrifically-damaged arm was returning to health.

But the veteran correspondent for Switzerland's Blick newspaper, Roger Benoit, has now reported that information about Kubica has stopped flowing.

"Why has the talking stopped?  Because - unfortunately - a comeback is nearly impossible," he wrote.

Small F1 teams push for V6 rules delay  (GMM)  Many teams are reportedly pushing the FIA to delay the introduction of F1's new engine regulations.

All-new turbo V6 rules are currently scheduled to debut in 2014, but Germany's Auto Motor und Sport and Italy's Autosprint say some of the midfield teams are opposed on cost grounds.

"It is being heard from sources at (engine suppliers) Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault that the development of the turbo V6 is more expensive than expected," said the German report. More ...

IndyCar may give slug Lotus more boost  
Jean Alesi in his slug Lotus.  The engine is so underpowered he can't get out of his own way on the track
IndyCar officials said Friday they have not ruled out continuing to allow Lotus to have extra horsepower.

The consideration is based on safety, they said. The fastest Lotus at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is still 6 mph slower than the slowest Chevrolet and 8 mph slower than the slowest Honda.

More critical to the discussion is the 14-mph deficit to Friday's quickest driver, Marco Andretti, at 227.540 mph.

All engine manufacturers were given extra boost through qualifying -- good for an extra 4-5 mph -- before returning to the previous number for the Indianapolis 500. Staying at the higher level isn't advised in the race given the demands of the long distance. More ...

IndyCar hopes to increase Canadian footprint  UPDATE Wheels may be in motion to add Calgary to the IndyCar racing series, fuelling discussion on the ultimate potential of a replacement track for the now-closed Race City Motorsports Park.

CEO Randy Bernard told Toronto media Monday that the Indy series does have eyes on Canadian expansion and identified Calgary as one three cities being explored.

That came as local motorsports enthusiasts are finalizing a proposal for a multi-million-dollar racing facility on Calgary’s outskirts that Shane Keating has described as an “international stage.”

Reached Thursday, Keating had not heard of Bernard’s comments but said he was intrigued. More ...

Massa could lose seat during August break  UPDATE
Felipe Massa
(GMM)  Felipe Massa has played down reports he is at risk of losing his Ferrari seat soon, insisting he feels fully supported by Ferrari.

The Brazilian has struggled at the wheel of Ferrari's difficult 2012 car so far, scoring just 2 points compared with his teammate and joint championship leader Fernando Alonso's 61.

It has triggered speculation the Maranello based team might replace him, also because Ferrari said after Barcelona it is "expecting" Massa to improve "right away".

Whilst working at Maranello in the driver simulator on Friday, however, Massa insisted he has not been far away from Alonso at recent races. More ...

Briatore writing rules for 'GP1' series - report  (GMM)  Flavio Briatore could be readying to burst back into formula one.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said the ousted and formerly banned Italian is busily writing regulations for a 'GP1' championship.

They could be adopted should the FIA not sign up to the 2013 Concorde Agreement, according to the report.

Apparently, the political rumblings in F1 at present are not limited to the sport's planned floatation, or Bernie Ecclestone's spat with Mercedes. More ...

Alesi may bag Indy 500 attempt because Lotus out to lunch  
Jean Alesi may bag Indy 500 attempt because Lotus is a slug
Former F1 driver Jean Alesi has admitted that it's possible he will abandon his attempt to make the start of the 2012 Indy 500 race after all, over concerns that his car is simply too slow to be safe on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

After Wednesday's practice session, which saw his Lotus Fan Force United car top out at 205.389mph, 10mph slower than the next-slowest car out on track during the six-hour session, Alesi admitted that "I feel very unsafe, being quite slow in the middle of the track." More ...

racing news
Lola going bankrupt  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Lola Cars International Ltd was formed in 1958. In recent years, significant investment has been made in technology and capability in the motorsports business as well as diversifying and creating Lola Composites Limited, serving the defense, aerospace, communications, renewable energy, automotive and motorsports markets.

The latest economic downturn and the decision of HMRC not to pay ongoing R&D tax credits has caused a serious cash flow problem for the businesses. It is with enormous regret that a decision has been taken to issue Notices of intention to appoint an Administrator to Lola Cars International Limited and Lola Composites Limited. This step allows the board to continue its discussions with possible investors and prospective purchasers with a view to securing the best outcome for the staff, creditors and customers of both businesses.

The Lola board have declined to make further comment until Monday 21st May. Lola PR

05/03/12 We are hearing that Lola Cars will soon file bankruptcy as they have suffered greatly from the poor economy.  We also hear the company, which generates most of its revenue from sports car racing,  may be sold.
Conor Daly to sign with F1 team  UPDATE
Conor Daly getting a seat fitting at Force India
This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact' today.  Young American racer and GP3 Series race winner Conor Daly has been chosen by the Sahara Force India F1 Team to conduct aero testing for the squad this week at Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire, the team has announced this morning. The test will take place on Thursday, and will be the 20 year old Indiana native’s first taste of Formula 1 machinery.

“Conor visited the team’s Silverstone headquarters on Tuesday for a seat-fit and to familiarize himself with the systems on the car. It was a chance to meet his engineering crew and run through the functions on a Formula One steering wheel,” the team’s website stated.

Fresh from his race win during the opening round of the GP3 season in Barcelona last weekend, Conor visited the team's Silverstone headquarters on Tuesday for a seat-fit and to familiarize himself with the systems on the car. It was a chance to meet his engineering crew and run through the functions on a Formula One steering wheel. More ...

Senna's seat under threat at Williams  UPDATE
Bruno Senna still riding his great uncle Ayrton's coattails
(GMM)  Toto Wolff has rubbished suggestions Williams might soon replace Bruno Senna with the team's rising reserve driver Valtteri Bottas.

Finnish commentator Mika Salo last weekend said that, following an interview with Sir Frank Williams, he sensed the team was thinking about ousting Senna in favor of 22-year-old Finn Bottas "this season".

"That story is bullshit," Wolff, who is not only a 15 per cent Williams shareholder but also Bottas' manager, told Austria's Sportwoche.

The reports, however, sounded credible, given Brazilian Senna's recent struggle at the wheel of the FW34, which in the hands of Pastor Maldonado won from pole in Barcelona. More ...

Spain, Spa, France, Canada and Russia - race rumors  UPDATE Politics threaten to create "serious delays" in preparations for Formula One's first Russian Grand Prix, an adviser with the Russian Automobile Federation told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

Igor Yermilin insisted that the project is not at risk of collapse and that Russia will deliver the race, scheduled to be held in the Sochi Olympic Park in 2014, a matter of months after the Winter Games.

Very little construction work has been carried out since March after a reshuffle the government of Sochi's region of Krasnodar, Yermilin said.

Among those to lose their positions were representatives of a company named Omega, which is responsible for the Formula One track project, he said.

"In the Krasnodar region there has been have been quite serious changes in the leadership," Yermilin said.

Regional governor Alexander Tkachev has been re-appointed, "but the entire rest of the team has changed, including people from Omega who signed the contract on holding the Russian Grand Prix," he said. More ...

IndyCar to start using standing starts at Toronto  To come into a large market like Toronto and have a downtown race is important to the series. Racing on roads, street courses and ovals gives IndyCar a large demographic, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said Monday in Toronto. Drivers get more passionate about the variety of bumpy concrete-to-asphalt road surfaces on the Exhibition Place and Lakeshore Boulevard site. They start their “cussing games” early, Bernard said. Last year it ended with Power calling eventual winner Dario Franchitti “a princess”.

“It adds to the excitement and shows how much winning here means to them,” Bernard said.

The 150,000 fans around the Exhibition Place course, from 30 different countries, yielding a $45-million economic impact in Toronto, caught him off guard. “I’d forgotten how many race fans there are in Canada.” More ...

Jean Alesi eyeing IndyCar with Newman/Haas, now Tyce Carlson  UPDATE #10
Jean Alesi passes his Rookie test at Indy
Well it appears this team may not be a recipe for disaster after all.  The team has put together a pretty impressive group of guys - so much so that they moved the respected Greg Beck over to crew chief for their Lights cars for the Freedom 100.

Jean Alesi, the 47-year-old Frenchman hit a fastest lap of 211.516 after running enough laps consecutively at over the 210mph threshold to complete his rookie orientation program Monday.

Alesi expanded on the efforts from his first few days with the Fan Force United Lotus team. He ran 40 laps on Monday.

"We finished our program for being able to walk," Alesi joked. "I'm happy but I still expect more from the engine performance. We are still far away. The engineers are working on it. The top speeds we are reaching at the moment are still too low to be Lotus. So, they must tune the engine as much as they can to be competitive. With this crew and the Fan Force United team, I'm sure we can make a good race. This team has done such a great job for me so far." More ...

Aston Martin Eyeing Grand-Am  While GRAND-AM has seen new cars from Ferrari and Audi grace the Rolex Sports Car Series grid this year, another high-profile manufacturer could be joining the GT ranks with its GT3-based contender as early as next year.

Aston Martin is currently evaluating the possibility of its new V12 Vantage GT3 for the highly competitive production-based category, while also not ruling out an effort in Daytona Prototype, either as an engine supplier or with brand-specific bodywork as well.

“We definitely want to get more into racing in America,” Aston Martin Racing team principal John Gaw said in a SPEED.com exclusive interview. “We have great products across all the range: the GTE, the GT4 and the GT3. More ...

Dodge is ripe for IndyCar to grab  UPDATE #6 IndyCar's Will Phillips said on Saturday at Indy that INDYCAR is speaking to another engine manufacturer, who could join the competition in 2014.  No word on who would design the engine but speculation is that it would be Cosworth for either Dodge or Ford.

In Las Vegas Dodge unveiled the new Charger it hoped to race in NASCAR.  Now there are real doubts it will never race, and if it does, it could be with backmarker teams only.  Might they be better served with on the rise IndyCar rather than in NASCAR, which is losing fans and sponsorship?
03/28/12 Dodge is going to face a huge challenge if the manufacturer plans to remain competitive in the Sprint Cup Series beyond 2012. The key word there is competitive. Dodge can more than likely find a way to stay in NASCAR's top division next season in the aftermath of Penske Racing's switch to the Ford camp. But the list of organizations available that can match what Penske has brought to Dodge the last two seasons is a short one, leaving 2nd and 3rd tier teams to choose from.

Nearly every top flight Sprint Cup team is locked into a long-term agreement with another manufacturer. Chevrolet has Hendrick, Stewart-Haas, RCR and Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing tied up, Toyota is tightly aligned with Joe Gibbs Racing and the resurgent Michael Waltrip Racing and Ford has its bond with Roush Fenway Racing, that shares an alliance with Richard Petty Motorsports. Unless Dodge is willing to write a check with a significant number of zeroes, it's unlikely the manufacturer is going to pry any of those teams away from their current agreements. More ...

racing news
Does new motorsports head man for VW mean F1?  UPDATE (GMM)  Volkswagen, the German carmaking giant, has played down suggestions it could launch a formula one project some time soon.

"There are always rumors about Volkswagen and formula one," said Jost Capito, who has taken over from Kris Nissen as the head of the Wolfsburg-based company's motor racing boss.

However, he is quoted by Germany's Sport1 as insisting that VW is only concentrating on its world rally program.

"The WRC program is approved from 2013 to 2015," Capito insisted.  "There is no room to think about anything else.

"It (F1) is not on our radar," he is also quoted as saying by France's L'Equipe.  "Our hands are full already." More ...

Brawn's Barcelona absence triggers rumors  
Ross Brawn
(GMM)  A lack of official information has triggered speculation about Ross Brawn's health.

And another rumor is that his absence in Barcelona could be connected with Mercedes' billion-dollar dispute with Bernie Ecclestone over the next Concorde Agreement.

The German squad announced on Thursday that Bob Bell is leading the team in Barcelona because regular boss Brawn is back in Britain on doctor's orders.

Bild newspaper said the 57-year-old was given the advice in hospital earlier this week, following a dizzy spell at his home in England. More ...

Herta to Honda, D&R to Chevy  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today with the announcement that Bryan Herta's team will use Honda power and a previous announcement that Dreyer & Reinbold will team with Panther Racing and use Chevy engines.

04/27/12 Ex-Lotus team Dreyer and Reinbold is expected to land with Chevrolet as early as today and Herta Autosport's is rumored to be switching to Honda engines.
McLaren set to race new higher nose in Spain  (GMM)  McLaren looks set to run a higher nose this weekend in Spain.

Last week, at the very end of the Mugello test, test driver Oliver Turvey debuted a new front wing that featured a conspicuously higher nose tip.

McLaren, the early 2012 frontrunner but having struggled recently in Bahrain, was the only notable team this year to ignore the new design trend for ugly 'stepped' front noses, introduced as arguably the best solution to new nose-height safety regulations.

The MP4-27's new nose does not feature a step element, but the tip is notably higher than its predecessor. More ...

More engine woes for IndyCar (Dragon sues Lotus)  UPDATE #3 AR1.com was able to obtain the full lawsuit Dragon filed against Lotus.  The PDF can be read here.

05/07/12 A reader asks, Dear AR1.com, Why has it gone so wrong for Lotus in IndyCar?  Now teams are suing them to get our of their contract.  It has turned into a fiasco.  Another black eye for IndyCar.  Peter Labinski

Dear Peter, Cosworth gave Lotus the price to do a proper race engine to compete at this level, but were turned down by Lotus who chose to go with John Judd, who really is an endurance racing specialty shop.  History shows that Cosworth was correct and now it's a case for Lotus of "you got what you paid for."  After they do enough damage to the reputation of the Lotus name with that decision, they likely will pull out of IndyCar racing.  Let's hope another manufacturer, like a Ford, hires Cosworth to do the engines for IndyCar.  The only issue will be whether Cosworth can do the rebuilds out of their Torrance, CA facility.  All their top racing people have been let go and that facility now services their aftermarket car parts business. Even in their heyday in CART/Champ Car, the Cosworth engines were always designed in England but serviced out of Torrance.  Mark C.

05/07/12 This rumor that AR1.com started last Friday is today upgraded to 'fact.'  The non-stop drama and intrigue surrounding the IZOD IndyCar Series took an interesting turn as SPEED.com has learned Dragon Racing owner Jay Penske has filed a lawsuit against his engine supplier in California, accusing Lotus Cars Limited T/A Lotus Motorsport of "contractual fraud."

Lotus has gone through a rather tumultuous introduction to the series this year, with its late decision to build engines for the new 2.2-liter turbocharged formula triggering a wave of reliability and performance issues it has yet to overcome.  More ...

Shareholders to vote on Mercedes' F1 exit  UPDATE #3 (GMM)  Mercedes' continued participation in formula one could be put to a shareholders' vote at the end of the year.

That is the claim of the respected French commentator Jean-Louis Moncet, writing in his Auto Plus column.

Norbert Haug on Monday denied reports the German carmaker is on the verge of quitting the sport because it is not being offered the same Concorde Agreement deal as rival top teams Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull.

But Moncet's apparently 'well-informed source' said: "The Mercedes directorate will vote on whether to stop the F1 program at the end of 2012, and consequently (Mercedes) will not sign the agreements offered by Bernie Ecclestone." More ...

Other cities covet Edmonton's Indy  Randy Bernard wants to see the Edmonton Indy succeed.

The CEO of IndyCar is willing to do anything in his power to help this year's event.

That includes making a stop in Edmonton on his way back from a business trip in China, after having been in Brazil for the IndyCar race in Sao Paulo on the weekend.

“It’s been a long week for me already, I’ve had two Wednesdays this week,” smiled Bernard at a media luncheon Thursday afternoon. “But I’m glad to be here in Edmonton. I gave (president of Octane Racing Group) Francois (Dumontier) my word that I was going to be here, and then this little trip to China came up.

“But I’ve always enjoyed Canada, I did my internship up here in Canada and I’ve always had a special place for it.” More ...

Red Bull 'all but ready' to re-sign Webber  
Mark Webber
(GMM)  Mark Webber's future in formula one seems secure, after reports this week linked him to two top teams for the 2013 season.

First, Spanish specialist reports said Ferrari is interested in the experienced Australian to replace struggling Felipe Massa next season.

And now, the Australian Sydney Morning Herald newspaper claims Red Bull, 35-year-old Webber's current team, is "all but ready" to extend his contract through 2013.

That would give junior team Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, tipped to eventually replace Webber, "a further season to adjust to the category and prove themselves worthy of the top drive", the report added. More ...

Who will power the 33rd car at Indy?  Who will supply the 33rd engine at Indy.  As it stands they are one short, but we expect Lotus will supply one more car.

5 Andretti Autosport
3 Penske Racing
3 KV Racing Technology
1 Panther
1 Ed Carpenter Racing
1 Dreyer & Reinbold (see rumor)
14 Total

4 Ganassi Racing
2 Schmidt Hamilton Racing
2 A.J. Foyt Racing
2 Dale Coyne Racing
2 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
2 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing
1 Bryan Herta Autosport (rumored)
15 Total

2 Dragon Racing
1 HVM Racing
3 Total

Panther, Dreyer & Reinbold teams to merge?  
Servia happy to get Chevy power
The Izod IndyCar Series will soon see a pair of teams working together like never before.

A unification of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Panther Racing for the upcoming Indianapolis 500 should at least make Dreyer & Reinbold’s transition to the Chevrolet program smoother.

Panther is only four races into this era of Chevrolet, but it worked with the engine-badging company in the past. Dreyer & Reinbold has been with Lotus most recently, confirming the switch in powerplants just about a week ago. Its driver, Oriol Servia, used a Lotus during last week’s race in Sao Paulo, Brazil, finishing 11th.

Confirmation of the pairing has not been announced and apparently can’t be announced until Monday at the earliest due to a variety of factors. But in a sense, Servia and Panther’s JR Hildebrand will be working together, especially as the crews do so in Panther’s Southwest side shop. Indy Star

Will this be the panacea the electric car industry needs?  
Global automakers from the United States and Germany will demonstrate fast-charging technology that will enable the recharging of most electrified vehicles with compatible systems in as little as 15-20 minutes.

Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen have agreed to support a harmonized single-port fast charging approach – called DC Fast Charging with a Combined Charging System – for use on electric vehicles in Europe and the United States. More ...

Newman/Haas Working On Two-Car Return In 2013  With its plans for an Indy 500 return with Lotus ambassador and former F1 driver Jean Alesi now sidelined, Newman/Haas Racing General Manager Brian Lisles confirmed that a few aspects of the Lotus-financed program just didn’t meet the championship-winning team’s criteria.

“Unfortunately, we had to withdraw our entry for the Indianapolis 500,” he told SPEED.com. “We weren’t able to get everything done in time for a sensible entry. We didn’t want to do some mad rush at the last moment, and didn’t have everything in place to feel we could do a credible effort, so we withdrew our entry.”

The hiccup with the Lotus/Alesi program won’t impede any of the other plans the team has in the works, including its first foray into sports car racing and an ongoing effort to rejoin the IZOD IndyCar Series. More ...

Mugello eyes place on F1 race calendar  UPDATE
(GMM)  Vitaly Petrov on Thursday dealt a blow to Mugello's ambitions to join the F1 calendar.

The Russian, who drives for Caterham, said the Ferrari owned circuit in beautiful Tuscany is too dangerous for modern grand prix cars.

On Thursday, F1 teams are concluding their third consecutive day of rare in-season testing at the high speed circuit near Florence.

"I'm not sure the track is right for today's F1 cars," Petrov is quoted by the Ria Novosti news agency.

"You get very close to the walls and it's maybe a bit small for the cars now." More ...

Of course the Indy 500 will have 33 starters  A reader asks, Dear AR1.com, With MSR now out of the Indy 500 that only leaves 32 drivers to qualify for the Indy 500.  This is progress?  A short Indy 500 field?  Dave Beamer

Dear Dave, Don't believe all those stories you read, journalists are just writing to fill dead space before the 500.  Of course there will be 33 cars starting the Indy 500.  There are plenty of teams that have backup cars and rest assured come bump day some team owners will put a driver in the car and qualify.  Even last place in the Indy 500 is not a bad payday.  Everyone wishes we could return to the heyday of CART when Bump Day really meant something and 200,000 showed up for pole day qualifying, but Tony George thought he had a better idea, destroyed it all, so we must make do with what we have.  The series is on a slow upswing so that is a positive sign.  Mark C.

Shank releases Howard  UPDATE This rumor is now 'fact'.  “We are working every possible opportunity to make this happen and continue to hold our entry for the Indianapolis 500,” said Michael Shank. “But at this point, we've not made the progress that we need to in terms of having our package finalized and having an agreement with a motor manufacturer. I know firsthand how hard it is to have the opportunity to race in the Indianapolis 500, and the last thing in the world I want to do is to hold Jay back from getting the chance to do that.”

“I was really looking forward to working with Mike and helping him finally get into IndyCar,” said Howard. “For me personally, I have to keep moving forward and I remain committed to IndyCar and competing in this year's Indy 500. I remain optimistic that IndyCar and the engine manufactures will continue in my corner so we can collectively fill that 33rd spot this year. Thank you to the fans for the their support and to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for continuing to provide a dream we all continue to work towards.” More ...
No engine, no Shank for Indy 500  UPDATE
Michael Shank
MSR Indy's Michael Shank has not signed an engine lease deal for the upcoming Indianapolis 500, which could leave the event with only 32 car-and-driver combinations just 10 days before Indianapolis Motor Speedway opens for practice.

"That went away a week ago," Shank said Wednesday of a team-imposed deadline to finalize arrangements. "People just keep saying, 'Give us another day,' but I don't know how much longer I can go. I can't handle it emotionally."

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard, who has been trying to help Shank, is in China securing details for the August race in Qingdao.

Shank, a one-time Indy Racing League driver and owner of the sports car team that won the 24 Hours of Daytona in January, has a driver (Jay Howard), a collection of sponsors and a car for the 500. He wants a Chevrolet or Honda engine lease, but both manufacturers are not interested in expanding their programs. More ...

IndyCar returning to Kentucky Speedway?  
Kentucky drew reasonable sized crowds for IndyCar, but they were getting smaller each year
Kentucky Speedway general manager Mark Simendinger was front and center Saturday for a pair of “Ask the GM” sessions as part of Ford Fan Day.

Much of the discussion centered on traffic and parking, but Simendinger did touch on some racing-related matters.

He was asked when the IZOD IndyCar Series would return to Kentucky Speedway. The speedway was an annual stop for the series for 12 years, but dropped off the schedule after last season.

“I don’t know when IndyCar is coming back. The door is obviously wide open,” Simendinger said. “But we’re in business here. As much as I love what I do, and it’s a fun job, at the end of the day we’re here to make money. And, so, from an economic standpoint it’s got to make sense for us and them, both.

“I think they’re kind of working on their schedule a little bit and seeing how ovals fit into their schedule and what their business model is going to be on ovals. I think that when the time comes and they get that squared away, I would think they would want to come back here. But, you know, quite candidly, we had some financial issues related to that race….I’m a big IndyCar fan and I’d love to have them come back. It’s just got to work for everybody.” Cincinnati.com

track news
Could a dragway or dirt track be in the speedway’s future?  Could a dragway or dirt track be in the Kentucky speedway’s future? Parent company Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) operates dragways near Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Charlotte, Las Vegas and Texas Motor Speedway also have separate dirt tracks.

“I think what’s more likely is we will probably redo that garage area,” Simendinger said. “I think if we hadn’t had the major traffic issues last year, and had to devote as much money this year into that - we spent a lot of money - I think we might have actually...been reworking the garage area this year.

He continued later: “A drag strip, maybe, down the road. You know, Bruton (Smith, SMI chairman) loves drag racing and he built the only four-wide dragway at zMAX Dragway down in Charlotte. But before we do that, and before we ever do a dirt track, I think there’s still some things that we need to do here.”

Is Sunoco's sponsorship of NASCAR in jeopardy?  UPDATE Bob Owens, Sr. VP of Marketing for Sunoco, has published a letter to distributors indicating: "This corporate ownership change should be transparent and seamless. The iconic Sunoco brand, and our support of NASCAR will continue, as we strive to 'keep people moving'."

04/30/12 Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. and Sunoco, Inc. announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement whereby ETP will acquire Sunoco in a unit and cash transaction valued at $50.13 per share, or a total consideration of approximately $5.3 billion, based on ETP's closing price on April 27, 2012. This combination will create one of the largest and most diversified energy partnerships in the country by expanding ETP's geographic footprint and strengthening its presence in the transportation, terminalling and logistics of crude oil, NGLs and refined products. By acquiring Sunoco, ETP will also own Sunoco's general partner interest and the incentive distribution rights (IDRs) in Sunoco Logistics Partners, as well as Sunoco's 32.4 percent interest in Sunoco Logistics Partners' limited partner units and Sunoco's branded retail business, which generates additional stable cash flows from a portfolio of approximately 4,900 retail locations in the U.S. Sunoco's logistics and retail businesses will continue to maintain headquarters in the Philadelphia area consistent with their current operating presence. In addition, under the merger agreement, Sunoco will continue its plans for exiting its refining business as previously announced, as well as continue its plans for the proposed refinery joint venture being discussed by Sunoco and The Carlyle Group. The transaction has been approved by each company's board of directors and is expected to close in the third or fourth quarter of 2012, subject to approval of Sunoco shareholders and customary regulatory approvals.(in part from  sunocoinc.com), no word on how or if this will affect the sponsorship of NASCAR and use of Sunoco Racing Fuel in NASCAR.
Will Massa also make move to IndyCars?  UPDATE Rubens Barrichello said that he was full of confidence that Felipe Massa will stay in F1, and said his visit to Sao Paulo was purely social.

"He came here because I invited him," explained Barrichello. "It was a pleasure to receive him. He stayed on the pit wall with the team radio, living a totally different experience compared to F1. And different to what many people think, he was not here looking for a job. This guy will race a lot more in F1. To face a problem, you have to smile and be happy with yourself before handling the situation. The important thing is what is inside him, and he seems relaxed. He was happy to be here."

04/29/12 With a lot of pressure for him to be replaced as Fernando Alonso's teammate, Ferrari driver Felipe Massa stopped by the Anhembi circuit to give a boost to his Brazilian friends ahead of Sunday’s Sao Paulo IndyCar 300.

Massa was in Rubens Barrichello’s pit for most of Saturday’s practice and even participated in one of the Brazilian’s meetings with his engineer. Barrichello joined IndyCar this year after a 19-year career in Formula One. More ...
Rumors fly after Sauber sponsor 'teaser'  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Rumors that a top English premier league football club is entering formula one as a sponsor have proved correct.

Ever since Sauber has been running teaser 'Out of the blue' and 'True blue' graphics on its engine cover livery in China and Bahrain, speculation about the identity of the forthcoming sponsor have been swirling in the F1 paddock.

We reported the rumor that the deal could be with the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, to promote his football club Chelsea.

Swiss F1 team Sauber confirmed the "new and innovative partnership" on Monday.

"The C31 sporting the blue logo of Chelsea FC will be seen for the first time at the Spanish grand prix," the Hinwil based team announced in a media statement. More ...

A1GP to be resurrected?  UPDATE Seeing is maybe believing......According to their website we are only weeks away from the introduction of the new A1GP somewhere in the Netherlands or Germany.  We can only wonder who the wealthy person is that has been duped this time into thinking the A1GP concept can work.

01/16/12 A group of mainly Dutch investors is preparing a relaunch of the A1 Grand Prix series under the name A1 World Cup. The website has a clock www.a1worldcup.com, with another 28 weeks until something happens. Furthermore, the plan's still fairly unclear.

Behind the initiative is the Dutch company Primrose. A spokesman for the company said "Unfortunately, I currently have little say. Over the coming months, A1 World Cup will present itself the press with the information it intends to make available, when this is appropriate."

"The role of Primrose I can explain - We invested with a group, mainly Dutch investors, for the restart of the A1 Grand Prix. This group looks like a Dutch initiative to resurrect A1 Grand Prix races in 2013. This was done before with A1P, but this time we plan to run it for a profit, not a loss."

Genii to buy Group Lotus  UPDATE #2
Genii is currently primary sponsor of the Lotus F1 team
(GMM)  Rumors that F1 team owner Genii is contemplating buying the Group Lotus sports car company are continuing to gain steam.

That is despite Genii's Gerard Lopez confirming recently that the Enstone based team has ended its sponsorship deal with the carmaker, even though the team will continue to carry the Lotus name.

But subsequent media reports indicate that the newly Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom owned Group Lotus is for sale.

"Genii ... is thought to be interested, and its boss, Gerard Lopez, is said to have had talks with Hicom, but also with (Group Lotus chief) Mr. (Dany) Bahar about a possible management buyout," read a report in the Independent newspaper. More ...

Reports link James Key with Ferrari move  
James Key
(GMM)  James Key could be the next formula one engineer to join F1's struggling giant Ferrari.

Multiple media sources, including the authoritative Italian specialist newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, say the Maranello based team is interested in Key, a 40-year-old Briton.

Key's career dates back to the Jordan days, continuing through the transition to Force India, and he eventually joined Sauber in 2010. More ...

Brabeck to be Formula One chairman?  Peter Brabeck, the chairman of Nestle, is reported to being lined up to become the chairman of Formula One if the planned flotation goes ahead in Singapore this summer. He is already a member of the board of Delta Topco Limited, the holding company of the Formula One group.

He became CEO of Nestle in 1997 and chairman in 2005. He stepped down as CEO in 2008 but remains chairman. He is also a board member of Credit Suisse, L’Oreal and ExxonMobil. The appointment would clearly be designed to allay fears about the succession to Bernie Ecclestone, although he would remain as CEO of Formula One, without an obvious successor in that position.

Brabeck is 67, Ecclestone 81. Joe Saward

Force India sat out practice to save money  (GMM)  Another theory about Force India's absence from a practice session in Bahrain last weekend has emerged.

Word has it the Silverstone based team sat out the second session on Friday because staff were spooked by a Molotov cocktail incident and didn't want to be returning to their hotels in darkness.

Officially, Force India said the decision to skip a practice session was for "logistical reasons".

"None of the other teams seem to have a problem," said Bernie Ecclestone last weekend.  "Maybe (it's) nothing to do with being in this country, maybe it's something else." More ...

Rahal to announce 2nd car soon  UPDATE #7
Luca Filippi likely to land in 2nd Rahal seat.  If not Sarah Fisher's team will likely get Rahal's 2nd engine deal with Honda
Luca Filippi's planned IndyCar debut at the Indianapolis 500 is in serious doubt as the season's showpiece event draws closer. The 2011 GP2 runner-up originally signed a deal with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for this year, which was meant to start with the Indy 500. However, reports surfaced earlier this month that former Champ Car racer Michel Jourdain Jr. could land the seat, and the team yesterday confirmed a one-off deal for the Mexican.

"We are still working on the Indy 500, but it's not going to be easy," said Filippi. "But the goal is to make sure that once I jump in a car it is until the end of the season, so I have a proper program, a proper chance, and not just a one-off.

"I want to race in IndyCar as soon as possible, and the Indy 500 is a dream. I want to do it one day, but it doesn't need to be now."

"From one point of view it would be nice to do Indy this year because as a rookie it will be tough," he said. "So if you do it now then next year you go back with some more knowledge. But on the other hand, maybe I can put myself in a better position if I start on a road course and I can get closer to the front. Once I have a chance I will jump in a car, wherever it is. But it is not in my hands." More ...

Lotus to quit racing?  UPDATE #9 This report by Joe Saward shines more light on the rather dire financial straits of Lotus.  There has been much rumoring in recent days about Group Lotus and DRB-Hicom has now announced that it has not decided to sell the Norfolk-based sports car company and says that it does not know the source of speculation about the possible sale of the company to China’s Youngman. DRB-Hicom has also once again denied that it is going to put Group Lotus into administration.

The source of the Youngman rumors appears to be documents that were filed at Companies House three days before the announcement that DRB-Hicom was buying Proton from the Malaysian government, when Group Lotus registered a new UK company called Lotus Youngman UK Automotive Company Ltd.

There were also filings with the Bursa Malaysia on April 12 which revealed that a company called Lotus Youngman Automotive Co Ltd has been set up in Malaysia. More ...

Tony George broke?  This comes from an anonymous source, and hence is deemed a rumor until proven true:

Apparently Tony George held a garage sale recently at his 8000 Spring Mill resident.

A magnificent piece of property, completed fenced with horse pastures and a magnificent long drive leading to an equally impressive house. 

The sale was in the horse barn, which is larger than my first two houses and in some respects nicer! More ...

Overheard at Long Beach - Sunday  UPDATE #3 In this rumor below we said that Michel Jourdain Jr would drive for the Rahal team at Indy with backing from Office Depot of Mexico.  That rumor was confirmed in today's announcement.

04/15/12 Word is that attendance for the race weekend was 170,000 despite Friday's heavy rain.

04/15/12 Word is that the Honda cars are down on mid-range power to the Chevies and that is why Honda wants a turbo update.....Ran into ex-Champ Car President Joe Heitzler who told us he battling cancer of the tongue, and he never smoked.  Good luck to him with that battle.........Chatted briefly with Townsend Bell and Michel Jourdain (will Office Depot of Mexico sponsor him again?) and both sound confident that their Indy 500 deals will come together.......Ran into former CART team owner Bruce McCaw who had not been to Long Beach in years.  McCaw, who lives in Seattle said his wife won't let him start an IndyCar team again......Ran into former Cosworth operations boss in Torrance, CA.  He is working another job not affiliated with racing whatsoever.

04/15/12 A perfect day weather-wise Sunday for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  Today's race should be quite exciting with so many top drivers shuffled back 10 grid positions due to early engine changes.

Lotus swapped engines in the Nos. 6 and 22 cars driven by Katherine Legge and Oriol Servia, before the first IZOD IndyCar Series practice session this weekend.

In addition the engine was changed in the No. 7 Lotus Dragon Racing car driven by three-time Long Beach Indy car race winner Sebastien Bourdais following the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 1, and of course Chevrolet changed out engines in its 11 entries in a precautionary move April 12. More ...

Baltimore Grand Prix looking more doubtful by the day  UPDATE #7
It's not time to stick a fork in the Baltimore GP just yet. “I think there's a 50 percent chance they can pull it off.  But that window closes every day,” said Baltimore City Councilman William Cole.
Organizers are running out of time to try and save the Baltimore Grand Prix.

More than 100,000 people packed the streets of Downtown Baltimore for the inaugural event last year; but financially -- it turned out to be a bust.

A new group called “Downforce Racing” formed back in February, replacing “Baltimore Racing Development,” which organized last year’s race.  The new group includes Baltimore businessmen Dan Reck and Felix Dawson, along with Dale Dillon, a contractor from Indianapolis with a long history in IndyCar racing.

“To be a part of this and have this available to us, we're truly excited,” Dillon said during a news conference on Feb. 15.  “Dan, Felix and I couldn't think of a better opportunity and a better place to put on an IndyCar race, and truly look forward to what we can provide both IndyCar and the city and the fans.”

That was then, but as of right now a web site put together by the group is completely inactive -- not selling tickets for this year's Baltimore Grand Prix.  It’s scheduled for Labor Day weekend, just over four months away. More ...

Besides political issues, all those empty seats means Bahrain's demise  Political issues aside, with a massive number of empty seats seen during Sunday's Bahrain GP, rumors are already beginning that the Bahrain GP will eventually go away because the race promoters are losing their shirt financially.  This would be a relief for Bernie Ecclestone who must find room on the 2013 schedule for the NJ and Russian races.

When Formula One drivers performed their usual parade around the circuit on the back of a flatbed truck ahead of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, the seats they were waving at were empty.  Few inside the Formula One bubble had any contact with the demonstrations in villages around the capital, which saw nightly clashes between demonstrators hurling Molotov cocktails and police firing teargas and birdshot.

Demonstrators denounced the Grand Prix as a lavish publicity stunt for a government that crushed Arab Spring protests. Their banners depicted race car drivers as riot police. Bahrainis mostly just stayed away. More ...

Ecclestone invites McLaren onto F1 board - report  (GMM)  McLaren will join top-team rivals Ferrari and Red Bull on F1's board.

It had emerged last month that only Ferrari and Red Bull had been offered the special deals for the new Concorde Agreement, including the right to nominate directors for the sport's holding company.

But new reports on thisismoney.co.uk and in the Daily Mail, by the respected F1 business news writers Christian Sylt and Caroline Reid, say McLaren has also been given a seat on the board by F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

The report said the move could "dilute opposition" to Ecclestone's plans to float formula one on the Singapore stock exchange.

Sources said the floatation plans must be approved by the board. More ...

FOM boycotts Force India on Saturday - Bernie denies it  UPDATE #2
Ecclestone denies the F1 TV cameras purposely missed Paul di Resta's Force India car in not one, not two, but three qualifying sessions
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has denied Force India was deliberately ignored by F1's television cameras on Saturday.

Journalists on Twitter speculated that the reason for the apparent snub by the Ecclestone-controlled Formula One Management could be because the team sat out Friday's second practice session over security fears in troubled Bahrain.

Ecclestone, however, denied the charge that Force India had been blacked out.

"Not at all," the 81-year-old is quoted by the Calcutta newspaper Telegraph.

But Britain's Sky channel appeared to confirm that Scot Paul di Resta's qualifying performance, including a run all the way into Q3, had been missed.

"For those asking, we have no control over who is being shown on the world feed, sorry you didn't get to see any of di Resta's lap," the broadcaster said on Twitter. More ...

Petty could switch to Dodge engines  Richard Petty Motorsports is trying to negotiate a deal to stay with Ford and retain its relationship with Roush Fenway Racing.

But team namesake Richard Petty isn't totally ruling out a return to Dodge, the manufacturer with which he became a racing icon as a driver.

"Right now, we've got our sponsors pretty much lined up for next year,'' Petty said Friday at Kansas Speedway. "Where we go with the cars and engines and things like that ... we've got a plan, but I don't know if anybody is going to go along with it.'' More ...

Honda to dominate Indy?  Apparently the Chevy IndyCar teams are very unhappy that Honda was allowed to make a change to their turbochargers starting with the next race in Brazil.  Rumor has it that on the dyno at 100% throttle, which is the case at Indy and Texas where the cars are wide open pretty much all race, the single turbo allows the engine to make 20 additional HP over the dual turbos.  One rumor we hear is that there is less overall back pressure with the single turbo over the twin turbos allowing the engines to make more top-end power.  The two smaller twin turbos give better mid-range performance, which would explain why the Chevy teams have dominated the first three races.
Fearful Force India could skip second practice in Bahrain  (GMM)  Force India might skip Friday's second practice session in Bahrain.

Two of the Silverstone based team's staff members returned to the UK earlier this week after a Molotov cocktail incident.

The BBC is reporting rumors that other members are the team are now refusing to travel from the circuit back to their hotels after dark.

That would mean Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg will not be able to practice in the second 90 minute session scheduled for 2pm local.

The BBC said the rumor ties in with Force India's drivers unusually running soft tires in the initial practice session on Friday.

And F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone called the team's deputy principal Bob Fernley off the pitwall during the initial practice session for talks.

Force India said it "wouldn't want to comment".

F1 team Mercedes to lose Aabar ownership  (GMM)  Mercedes GP could be set to lose a major shareholder.

Citing informed sources, the German 'Manager Magazin' reports that the Abu Dhabi investment vehicle Aabar is in talks to end its involvement with the Brackley based team as well as Mercedes' parent Daimler.

Daimler and Aabar did not immediately comment.

Aabar owns 40 per cent of Mercedes GP, but recently watered-down its Daimler involvement from 9 to just 3 per cent.

New Jersey race in 2013 in doubt?  UPDATE
Oh shit, I signed too many contracts for 2013!
This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today......unless of course Bernie Ecclestone committed to too many races and he now has to pay NJ $millions to delay their race a year. 

Organizers of the New York street race have hit back at Bernie Ecclestone's claim the inaugural 2013 date might be delayed a year.

The F1 chief executive had announced a race on the streets of New Jersey for 2013, and recent photos showed that work on the main pit building is well underway.

But Ecclestone told the BBC this week: "Maybe the New York race will be 2013.  It's a (question of) when.  2013 or 2014."

Some sensed that the surprise news might be a diversionary tactic by Ecclestone, who is under intense pressure to cancel this weekend's highly controversial Bahrain grand prix. More ...

Indy 500 will have cars to bump on Bump Day  There are a few seats that have yet to be filled for next month’s Indianapolis 500, but after speaking with the three engine manufacturers who are providing engine leases for the 96th running of the legendary event, filling the 11 rows of three shouldn’t be a problem.

Despite a report that came out during the Barber round that claimed reaching 33 entries at Indy would be a challenge, Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus provided SPEED.com with an accurate minimum and maximum total number of cars the group will collectively power around the 2.5-mile oval.

“We’re working through those details (last weekend at Long Beach), but we’re going to be up in the 14 to 15 range,” said Chris Berube, Chevy’s new IndyCar Program Manager. More ...

Audi to announce purchase of Ducati  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Volkswagen's Audi division said it agreed to buy Italian motorcycle maker Ducati, adding a 12th brand to the German auto maker's portfolio of passenger cars, trucks and ultra-luxury vehicles. The 20-member supervisory board of Europe's largest car maker approved the purchase on Wednesday, Audi said in a statement. It did not disclose details of the deal, though sources told Reuters on April 17 that Audi agreed to buy Ducati for about 860 million euros ($1.13 billion).

Ducati, which has won 13 rider's Superbike World Championships since 1988, will extend Audi's long-standing rivalry with Bayerische Motoren Werke to superbikes. More ...
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