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Champ Car and IRL still not close Don't expect the IRL and Champ Car World Series to come together any time soon and create one open-wheel series, something motor sports desperately needs.
Dick Eidswick, the present of the Champ Car World Series, said the two sides have been talking recently but still are far apart on certain core issues. For example, the Champ Car World Series wants to continue to hold more races outside the United States. The IRL doesn't.
He doesn't see any chance of finding common ground in the near future. "Yes, we have our differences," Eidswick said, "But we still have a willingness to talk to see if we can reach the position where we can find some sort of a solution." San Jose Mercury News [Editor's Note: Hence why our proposal works best - each division run separately except for 6 races per year. The domestic/IRL division can stay domestic and the International/Champ Car division can do its international thing. As far as we are concerned, it is the ONLY real solution right now.
Anthony Davidson turns down Newman/Haas rideUPDATE A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Is there any possible connection between the fact that Honda is IRL and BAR in terms of Davidson not going to Newman-Haas? Just a simple connect the dots exercise in my opinion. Werner Fritz, Trevor, Wisconsin Dear Werner, Anything is possible, but if Honda is truly involved with trying to get the IRL and Champ Car back together, why would they do that? Mark C. 06/02/05 BAR-Honda test driver Anthony Davidson has turned down a prime drive in the Champ Car World Series to keep himself in line for a BAR-Honda race drive. The Briton was approached to replace Bruno Junqueira in the multiple championship-winning Newman-Haas squad in the US-based series, after the Brazilian broke his back in the Indianapolis 500 last Sunday. Davidson is believed to have discussed the offer with BAR management before deciding against an opportunity that would have given him access to race-winning machinery. Sources indicate that he was given assurances by BAR-Honda that he is in line for a race drive should a vacancy become available. "I got approached by Newman-Haas to replace Bruno Junqueira," Davidson confirmed to ITV-F1's website. "But I decided not to go forward with it because my main objective is race with BAR-Honda in Formula 1 next year." [Editor's Note: The Newman/Haas ride was for this year whereas the BAR Honda ride for Davidson would be for next year, so who are they trying to BS? There is more to this story than is being told.]
A1 GP eyes San Antonio, Texas In San Antonio, Tom Orsborn reported the A1 Grand Prix, financed by Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum of United Arab Emirates’ ruling family, “has approached the city about hosting a street race next year.” An ’05-06 schedule released on A1’s Web site includes a San Antonio race on February 26, but San Antonio interim City Manager Rolando Bono said, “That’s the first I’ve heard of it.” A1’s North American rep, St. Louis-based motorsports consultant Dan Layton, said, “To my knowledge discussions with the city are ongoing.” Orsborn noted the only other North American races scheduled are Monterrey on February 12 and in Laguna Seca, California on March 12. SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS
Newman/Haas eyes Brack?UPDATE AutoRacing1.com has now learned that word is spreading in Sweden that Paul Newman wants Kenny Brack, but Brack is not prepared to make any comment at this time. Swedish fans are following the progress of Sweden's Bjorn Wirdheim (Champ Car races are broadcast in Sweden) and are said to be keen to see Sweden's biggest racing star, Brack, also in Champ Car. Brack used to drive in Champ Car with Team Rahal before Rahal moved his team to the IRL where Brack was injured in his horrifying accident. (Related article) 06/02/05 Swedish local newspaper "Nya Wermlands-Tidningen" is reporting that Kenny Bräck has been contacted by Newman/Haas as a replacement for Bruno Junqueira after the Milwaukee race. No word on whether Brack is physically able to drive a Champ Car on a road course since his horrifying Texas accident.
Writer predicts Danica will destroy Champ CarUPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com Just want to respond to "Writer predicts Danica will destroy Champ Car." It's been only 3 days since the Indy 500 and already I'm sick and tired of the Danica mania. I think Bob Kravitz needs to give his head a shake. I have two words for him. Katherine Legge, who by the way won a Toyota Atlantic race in her first try, something Danica Patrick wasn't capable of doing an entire season despite driving a Team Rahal car. Bruce Davidson, Toronto, Canada Dear Bruce, Give the IRL PR machine credit for milking Danica Patrick for all she's worth. Their PR department is large and experienced and they are riding this horse as far as it will take them, even if she hasn't won any races yet. Imagine if and when she does! Mark C. 06/01/05 Danica, playing the role of Joe Namath for the IRL, is going to mean the ultimate demise of the Champ Car circuit. It's this simple: The IRL has Danica. The Champ Car folks do not. End of story. [Editor's Note: Champ Car met with Danica and her parents last year. If they gave her a Champ Car ride she would have been in Champ Car this year. Nothing came of that meeting and now their chief competitor, IRL, is reaping the benefits. With that said, let's see what happens. Sarah Fisher was the IRL's most popular driver too (the IRL likes to make their females drivers poster girls) but ultimately she is going to have to start winning races if she is to become a true sports hero. Never have we seen a sports figure become an overnight sensation and not be a winner. The jury is still out as to whether Ms. Patrick is a true sports/athlete hero or just a driver exploited because of her sex to make headlines for a sport so desperate for any PR/headline it can get.]
Now the real media crush will begin, even as Ungar insists the IRL will not alter its marketing schemes. That might be true, but it won't stop Patrick's people from answering the telephone. Danica is going to mean increased TV ratings.
Danica is going to mean more national media attention. (Check it out: She was on the front page of Sunday morning's New York Post with the sexist headline "She'll start your engine.") Soon enough, she may be trading witty bon mots with Regis and Kelly, singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at Wrigley -- that's if the Wrigley folks have recovered from Jeff Gordon -- becoming the kind of star, crossover star, this sport so desperately needs.
Patrick got a small taste of the coming media madness Sunday. At the post-race news conference, she was asked nine of every 10 questions, openly uncomfortable at the way the second- and third-place finishers, Vitor Meira and Bryan Herta, were being ignored. Later, she was taken to the fourth floor of the Pagoda, nearly swallowed by the crowd around her, moving on to do a round of TV interviews. As she spoke, still photographers stood outside the TV booth, shooting away.
Remember the time and remember the place. Danica Patrick didn't just make history this day. She changed it. Indy Star
Mo Nunn Racing closes doors again Rumor has it that Mo Nunn Racing is done for good now. The team let everyone go Wednesday. Remember that Nunn had retired. He only ran a car in the Indy 500 because he was paid well to do so.
What about engines?UPDATE #3 A reader writes, Nice of Honda to initiate merger talks? But what planet is HRD President Robert Clarke on? His statement "I was clear in stating that Honda has no interest in Champ Car by itself. Our only intent is combining the two series. I believe Champ Car does have a vision, but I was quite frank in telling them (when Champ Car met with Honda) that I don't think that vision aligns with Honda's". Kevin K must have been stunned, is it the Honda "vision" to dump hundreds of millions into a series that no one watches and races (other than Indy) that no one has attended for 10 years now? What is up, that statement makes no business sense whatsoever. Brian Kellione, Colorado Springs, CO06/01/05 Honda Racing Development President Robert Clarke told ESPN, "I was clear in stating that Honda has no interest in Champ Car by itself. Our only intent is combining the two series. I believe Champ Car does have a vision, but I was quite frank in telling them (when Champ Car met with Honda) that I don't think that vision aligns with Honda's" (i.e. international expansion is not for "American" Honda - the BAR F1 team is for that, where they never win a race and recently got caught for cheating bringing much embarrassment to Honda as a company). 05/25/05 According to a post on an internet forum from a pretty reliable poster, Honda Performance Development in California has been building and running 2.65 liter turbo engines on the dyno, possibly to make them long-life like Cosworth has done. If true then our premise below that the Champ Car 2.65 liter turbo engine would be best for a unified Champ Car/IRL series begins to take new life. Honda has them. Toyota has them. Cosworth has them. They are reliable, versatile and they sound good. Hmm....Is Honda already testing them just in case? 05/25/05 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I read about Honda getting involved in trying to put Champ Car and the IRL back together again. Great, but the IRL uses normally aspirated engines and Champ Car turbo engines. If they agree on a common rules package, what is your best guess for an engine formula? Rock Morris, Staten Island Dear Rock, We have never heard an IRL or Champ Car fan say they did not like the turbocharged engine. And with turbos becoming more common on passenger cars worldwide, it would seem to us as the logical choice. If everything is going to be new in 2007 anyway, the engine could be anything really.
The easy option? Honda still has their 2.65 liter turbo engine from their CART days. They can simply detune it like Cosworth did to get the high mileage between rebuilds now required by Champ Car and they would be ready to compete head-to-head with Cosworth again without too much effort. The Cosworth could be badged Ford, Chevy, Hyundai or whatever.
Of course they would have to agree to a common set of electronics to prevent the traction control wars of yesteryear. By adopting a high mileage engine and common electronics, Champ Car has significantly reduced costs, but as we said, no engine manufacturer should be able to subsidize a car more than $1 million per year. Insane RPM and manufacturers subsidizing teams and giving away free engines is what drives costs up. Never again should the teams become beholden to the engine manufacturer.
If we had our druthers, we still maintain that a small 1.8 liter twin turbo engine, running on either methanol or ethanol would be the way to go. It's technologically "sexy", not ear-piercing loud, in-tune with the tuner market and able to produce more power and torque at a lower RPM than an equivalent normally aspirated engine. The smaller and lighter engine has many advantages. What would be a disaster is a heavy production based engine that makes the back end of the car too heavy. We all lived through the nightmare of those days in the IRL when the tail-heavy tail-happy cars spun without warning tail first into the walls, breaking far too many drivers backs. There were rumors of the IRL adopting the Grand-Am engines and making them a non-stressed member, essentially sitting freely on motor mounts like a stock car in a tube frame backend of the chassis. We shutter to think anyone would come up with such a preposterous idea for an IndyCar. We see visions of entire engines bounding along the track or up into the grandstands in some of the violent oval track crashes. An open wheel car is supposed to be a state-of-the-art vehicle (within reason).
With that said, I'm sure a suitable normally aspirated engine formula can be agreed to as well. But why? Unless they unmistakingly scream like an F1 engine, the extra noise is just annoying and does nothing to make an IndyCar sound unique.
As for HP goals, take 100 pounds or so of weight out of the cars and a good target for HP would around 700, 750 tops. If the car's track is 6 inches or so narrower than present, and with no traction control, they will be a handful for any driver. With the right turbo boost limit and RPM limit, Cosworth and Honda will be plenty challenged to make that much HP from such a small 1.8 liter engine and still get 1200 or so miles (about 2 or 3 weekends of racing) between rebuilds. Would such a formula keep Toyota involved too? Probably not, but given where the sport is today, just a two engine racing series (Honda vs. a Chevy or Ford badged Cosworth) may be the best that can be hoped for short term. Mark C.
Hunter-Reay for Junqueira?UPDATE #4 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' with the announcement that Oriol Servia got the ride. 06/01/05 Hearing that Christian Fittipaldi may get the Newman/Haas ride, but is he in shape and ready not having been in a Champ Car for so long? 06/01/05 According to this SPEED TV article, Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe, co-owners of Champ Car, signed Hunter-Reay to a contract last winter to keep him from testing with Chip Ganassi's IRL team. They placed the 24-year-old Floridian with Paul Gentilozzi's Rocketsports stable.
After hearing Hunter-Reay was wanted by Newman/Haas, Kalkhoven called Paul Newman on Monday. "Paul (Gentilozzi) and I offered Ryan to Newman/Haas because it would be good for him and good for our series," said Kalkhoven. Hunter-Reay, who along with A.J. Allmendinger is the American future of Champ Car, was understandably excited about the possibility of joining Sebastien Bourdais this weekend at Milwaukee.
"Carl called me today and asked if I'd like to drive at Milwaukee and I said, 'Absolutely,'" said Hunter-Reay, who won the pole and led every lap last year at Milwaukee in the most dominating drive in Champ Car history. "But it's only a race-to-race offer and now Paul (Gentilozzi) doesn't want to let me out of my contract for just one race."
The next race after Milwaukee is Portland, where Hunter-Reay qualified second fastest in 2003, so it might behoove Haas to at least offer a two-race deal. "That would be great," said Hunter-Reay. If Haas, Hunter-Reay and Gentilozzi can't get together, there don't seem to be a lot of viable options. Michel Jourdain, now pursuing a NASCAR career in the Busch series, might be able to run a couple of races but couldn't do the whole season. Memo Gidley, Michael Valiante, Mario Haberfeld, Roberto Moreno and Fittipaldi might also get some consideration. "Whatever we do it's got to be done by Wednesday (today)," said Haas on Tuesday.
06/01/05 Newman and Haas must now decide what is best to do and that will no doubt cause some scrambling amongst the drivers in America to fill what is a very desirable seat in the series. Obviously Newman and Haas do not want to take too big a risk on a rookie and a look down the championship standings suggest that the likes of Cristiano da Matta, Timo Glock, AJ Allmendinger and Ryan Hunter-Reay would all be good targets. All are under contract elsewhere although in such circumstances contracts mean little if drivers are willing to pay to move to a better drive. The option is to bring in an outsider and thee obvious targets for that would be the drivers in and around F1 who are frustrated and looking for a future. There are several who leap to mind, notably Franck Montagny, Anthony Davidson and Antonio Pizzonia. Whatever the case a decision is needed quickly as the teams are racing this weekend in Milwaukee although the logical thing to would be to take on an oval specialist for the one weekend before making a decision about the rest of the year. Grandprix.com05/29/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Our prayers go out to Bruno Junqueira that he may have a full and speedy recovery. Unfortunately, an oval track has injured another fine young man and great racer. The fact remains that Newman/Haas is going to put a replacement in for the injured Junqueira. Why not take this opportunity to put in a driver who has proven his loyalty to Champ Car and proven that if given a fast car he can and will win races, Ryan Hunter-Reay. Paul Gentilozzi could win a lot of friends by offering to loan Hunter-Reay to the Newman/Haas team and at the same time give a very deserving young American an opportunity to show what he can do in a top of the line car. It will be a crime after Ryan showed what he is made of turning down the money to run with a top team in the IRL if some ‘sub’ is given this seat. Gentilozzi can then put a new deserving driver, Ryan Dalziel or Michael Valiante in the 2nd seat that Hunter-Reay currently drives. John Wilkinson, San Jose California Dear John, You are correct in that Champ Car certainly could use the media attention from another American in a competitive car. Hunter-Reay didn't win two races and all of a sudden forget how to drive this year. I also heard he was offered $100K plus 50% of prize money to drive the Indy 500 but turned it down out of loyalty to Champ Car. The next race is Milwaukee where Hunter-Reay annihilated the competition last year leading every lap. Mark C.
Overheard in Indy - II According to this SPEED TV article, Eddie Cheever and Chip Ganassi are convinced that General Motors is NOT going to leave the IRL at the end of this year as previously announced.....There was a recent meeting in Indianapolis between Mario Andretti, Kevin Kalkhoven, Paul Gentilozzi, Brian Barnhart and Tony George but nothing to report yet. Mario is trying to put open wheel racing under one roof with a common engine/chassis formula for 2007.
Andretti to return for 5 to 7 racesUPDATE This rumor is close to going to 'false.' Hearing that ppc Racing is closing down its Nextel Cup team and will not run the #14 team again in 2005. John Andretti was slated to run 5-7 more races in 2005. Jayski 05/06/05 Speed Channel's NASCAR Nation show Thursday night reported that the #14 ppc Racing Ford and John Andretti would return to the track to run 5-7 races in 2005, with the first being at Michigan in June. Plans call for the team to run 15 to 17 races in 2006 and then full-time in 2007. No word on a crew chief for the team as it was reported last week that crew chief Dave Charpentier left and went back to DEI. Jayski
Wheldon eyes F1 Even before he won the Indianapolis 500 Dan Wheldon was looking to a future in Formula 1 racing. His manager Julian Jakobi has been trying to find him a ride in F1 for some weeks as it has been clear since the start of the IRL season that Wheldon is going to be a major player in the series and will thus be in the right place to make a play for an F1 drive next year. Jakobi has been working quietly away at BAR Honda which could be looking for a driver for next season. Jenson Button is likely to be off to Williams (one hesitates to say BMW Williams these days) and that leaves BAR with a hole to fill. The option is to go for an experienced F1 racer such as David Coulthard, Rubens Barrichello or Nick Heidfeld or take a risk and go for a young riskier talent. A racer who is not in F1 is always a risk but a man of Wheldon's experience must be seen as a potential player in the F1 game. Wheldon, who raced Jenson Button and Anthony Davidson in karting in his youth, says he would love to be in F1 but only if it is with a decent team. Grandprix.com
Carpentier to replace Junqueira?UPDATE #2 Patrick Carpentier told Canadian reporters that Tony George found him a brand new tractor for his Joliette, Quebec farm, made by TORO.. A $14,000 tractor, Pat said "I really appreciated that move and I like the guy, Therefore, I'm 99.9% sure I won't go back to Champ Car." [Editor's Note: Every man has his price.] 05/30/05 This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' According to this RDS article, Carpentier had to turn down the Newman/Haas offer because of his contract with Cheever. 05/30/05 Rumor has it that Patrick Carpentier was offered to jump ship and replace Bruno Junqueira in the Newman/Haas car for the rest of the season. Unsatisfied with his Cheever team, and them in him, Carpentier could be considering the offer if Eddie Cheever agrees to release him.
Manufacturers not leaving Billion-dollar losses by the U.S. automakers, sagging sales, loss of market share to foreign manufacturers, soaring health-care costs and high fuel prices. Sounds like trouble for the sport of NASCAR racing, which relies heavily on support from automakers to keep fleets of Fords, Chevys and Dodges on the track. Not so, say the automakers' representatives at the race tracks. "This is the time, when you are in difficult situations, when in fact you rely on racing even more to move your product," said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology. "I don't think racing is in any jeopardy at this point or that the racing program is going to be somehow eliminated. In fact, it's possibly the opposite. When you have programs like racing that work, and you have limited funds, that's when you start to really rely on those areas. Racing works. We know it works. ... It's solid as a rock." Alba Colon, Nextel Cup program manager for General Motors, said her company isn't planning any changes either. "We are very committed to the deal," Colon said. "We are committed to NASCAR, and we have long-term contracts with our teams."
Ray Evernham, who fields Dodge Chargers and is sponsored by Dodge, said he worries about the finances of his sponsor and the other auto makers, but he's confident they'll stick with him and NASCAR. "I still believe American manufacturers realize this is a place where they need to be," he said. "It's still the best bang for the marketing buck. That's why we have so many Fortune 500 companies in NASCAR."
But there is concern in NASCAR about the health of the U.S. auto manufacturers. "The withdrawal of any one manufacturer in the series can have awful consequences throughout the garage," Roush Racing president Geoff Smith said. "If any one decided not to play any more, there would be a number of teams that would immediately be underfinanced to be able to compete with the people that had the budget." Smith said he sees only two scenarios that would cause any of the Big Three or Toyota, which now competes in the Craftsman Truck Series, to leave NASCAR. One would be if global consolidation eliminates a nameplate. The second scenario that could cause manufacturers to leave NASCAR is if one gained a huge competitive advantage on the track. "Historically, if one manufacturer comes in and makes a big investment that the others think alters the playing field, they quit," Smith said. "That is part of NASCAR's challenge, to try to keep the economic playing field somewhat level, with no one party too low or too high." Smith and others say that even with the evolution of NASCAR rules, which has created a type of car that has little resemblance to those on showroom floors, the "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday" adage still applies. Atlanta Journal-Constitution
GM and Ford to cut back output further General Motors and Ford Motor are set to unveil further cuts in their North American vehicle output on Wednesday in conjunction with continued erosion in their sales and market share. Analysts' surveys point to a weakening in the North American car and light truck market in May, with sales falling to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16.5m-17m units, from 17.5m in April and 17.7m in May 2004. There were 24 selling days last month, versus 26 days a year ago. Steve Girsky of Morgan Stanley estimates that GM's sales dropped 4.4 per cent last month, compared with a year earlier, and that Ford's were down 3.9 per cent, while Asian and European brands notched up a small aggregate gain. Financial Times
Michelin may pull out of series Michelin recently suffered the theft of one of its latest-technology tires during a British Superbike Championship event. Having reported it to the police, an investigation showed that this theft appeared to have been professionally carried out. In an effort to safeguard its industrial secrets, Michelin therefore has to seriously consider its involvement in competitive race series outside the MotoGP World Championship. Michelin’s Head of Motorcycle competition, Nicolas Goubert explains:
“Since what used to be the Superbike World Championship went for the one tire brand rule, we, at Michelin, started taking part in the British Superbike Championship. We did that only because we were asked by our long term racing partner Honda Racing Corporation to be there in order to get ready to prepare the Suzuka 8 Hours. We have enjoyed great success together, winning 6 out of the first 8 races of the 2005 season, being involved with a single two bike team.
Such a success can only be achieved with great bikes, great riders and of course state of the art tires. Unfortunately, during the last event at Mondello Park our Michelin truck got broken into and a single tire went missing. Would a “sneak thief” take all these risks to grab a single tire that he would probably not even know where it can be used? I don’t think so!
Is it the first time ever that a racing Michelin tire goes missing? No, unfortunately not, but it is the first time somebody has broken into one of our trucks on a paddock during a race week-end in order to steal one.
We are obviously very proud of our record in all forms of motorcycle racing and of our technological leadership. Given this sort of incident, we are obliged to seriously consider whether we can afford to participate anywhere outside the MotoGP arena with state of the art products. In the meantime, as we have always done, we will try our best to enhance our technology to make sure we keep our technological leadership in MotoGP.” Michelin
Minardi might test Patrick Rumors suggest that at least two Formula One teams are interested in what Patrick can bring to the sport, the strongest rumor is that Minardi could be giving her a test before the end of the season. The last female to drive in Formula One was Italy’s Giovanna Amati for Brabham in 1992, although she failed to qualify to start in any races. [Editor's Note: We think people are getting a bit out of hand here with Danica Patrick. We are suspect of these rumors at this time. She has never even won a race yet! Not in Barber Dodge, not in Toyota Atlantic and not in the IRL.]
Overheard at the European GP In the same way that a sudden snap of warm weather at the end of winter can fool flowers into blooming early, so too it seems the unseasonably hot conditions at the Nurburgring fooled the F1 world into thinking it was already time for the “Silly Season.” Rumors that usually start in the middle of the summer about who will drive for whom next year were already popping up all over the ‘Ring paddock.'
Nick Heidfeld’s renaissance at Williams has led to suggestions that he will partner Michael Schumacher at Ferrari in 2006, these stories prompted by current Scuderia driver Rubens Barrichello’s refusal to sweep his Monaco row with the world champion under the carpet.
Where would the Brazilian go? A straight swap with Heidfeld is one theory, closely followed by a switch to BAR, which will find itself without Jenson Button, who has a signed contract from Sir Frank Williams in his back pocket for 2006.
This leads us to the question of what engine will power the Williams team in the future. Whispers say that all is not well between the English team and BMW. The German company is reckoned to be buying the Swiss Sauber outfit as Peter Sauber’s supply of Ferrari engines runs out. Apparently BMW motorsport supremo, Mario Theissen wants a new job. “Super Mario,” the man with the Groucho Marx moustache, has dreams of being a team boss and his generous employers might just make his dream come true by placing him at the helm of Sauber.
Sir Frank Williams could end up with Toyota engines and, so the paddock jungle drums would have us believe, Bridgestone tires. There is no doubt that the Japanese rubber company would love to have another top team to help with their test program, as currently Ferrari is their only front running team.
Late on Sunday night in Germany, another driver threw his hat into the ring of potential F1 stars of the future: Dan Wheldon became the first Englishman to win the prestigious Indy 500 race since Graham Hill, back in 1966. And while we are on the subject of US racing, well done to Danica Patrick. The 23 year old became the first woman to ever lead the race and eventually finished fourth.
Silliest story from the Nurburgring concerns our very own Tonio Liuzzi (no surprise there then!). Our Italian lothario is expecting a bed to be delivered to his new home in England and asked team boss Christian Horner for a day off testing duties on the grounds he needs to “test” the new bed! Red Bull Racing
NASCAR planning a touring series? Michel Jourdain was spotted having lunch with Busch Series director Joe Balash, NASCAR Mexico director Chad Little and Canada director Richard Buck at the Speedway Club at Lowe's Motor Speedway last week. The meeting was to discuss a world touring series that initially would draw stock car drivers from the United States, Mexico and Canada and eventually from abroad. "It would be a good idea to have a world series with those types of cars," says Jourdain, a Busch driver who was born in Mexico. "But I don't know what NASCAR's plans are right now." Sporting News [Editor's Note: We could see this happening in NASCAR's off-season as NASCAR begins its attempt to capture a global interest. Related article]
Champ Car and IRL agree to 6 joint racesUPDATE #2 Now Fan 590 Radio, who started this rumor, is backpedaling, so we are close to downgrading it to 'false.' Realistically, this does not make sense until 2007 when everyone could have the same equipment. We say could, because no deals are done yet. 05/30/05 Word is that Cosworth is involved in the negotiations, serving both Chevy and Ford. We hear Chevy may agree to stay in Open Wheel Racing if there is to be a unification. If not, they are gone as previously announced. If Chevy and Ford are in then Honda will be happy. Would it be enough to entice Toyota to stay too? All have 2.65 liter turbo engines on the shelf. As we have previously stated, it would not be hard for Honda and Toyota to detune theirs to get the 1200 or so miles between rebuilds the Cosworth now gets. This is all doable for 2006. 05/30/05 The FAN 590 radio show in Toronto is saying there is a tentative deal in place to run these six Champ Car/IRL races jointly, possibly as early as 2006: Long Beach Indy 500 Toronto Mexico City Chicagoland Dallas (Texas Motor Speedway?)
What engines would they use? Would there be an equivalency formula for 2006 with all new equipment for 2007? Would Toyota and Honda break out their Champ Car 2.65 L turbo engines for these 6 races? Is this why we heard rumors Honda had their Champ Car turbo running on a dyno? Stay tuned.....
Weber and A1 Ralf and Michael Schumacher's manager is involved in a bid to run a German 'A1 Grand Prix' team. A multi millionaire given the brothers' F1 success, Willi Weber said he was sorting out 'the money' for the novel and so-called 'World Cup' of motor sport.
He said at the Nurburgring: ''If the money is not a problem then I will do it.' Also denying that it is a threat to Formula One, and the involvement of the famous siblings, Weber insisted that he would 'leave' the A1 project 'if it is not working.' Confirmation is expected this week. GMMF1.net
Hockey stadium to replace NazarethUPDATE A developer proposing an arena and entertainment complex at the shuttered Nazareth Speedway site estimates his project will generate more than $5 million a year in local government revenue.
Abraham Atiyeh on Wednesday night shared his vision of the Nazareth Family Fun & Entertainment Complex with the township's board of supervisors and stressed he wants to bring in nationally-recognized food and entertainment chains to support his dream.
Atiyeh is seeking state money to pay for half of the $30 million cost of the arena, which he hopes will serve as the home for a professional hockey team. He's also looking at another location in Allentown, but has said the 157-acre closed speedway at Routes 191 and 248 is his first choice. More at Penn-Live
04/24/05 The vision is grand: a $30 million dome that would house minor league hockey and host top performers, with high-end restaurants, luxury condominiums and townhouses nearby. The site: home of the former Nazareth Speedway.
Local developer Abraham Atiyeh said Friday he has signed a letter of intent to buy the 157 acres in Lower Nazareth Township for $19 million to make his vision a reality. The plan hinges on whether he can get public and private financing, and Lower Nazareth zoning approval.
''We think it's going to be one of the best entertainment facilities in the Lehigh Valley,'' Atiyeh said. ''Our mixed-use facility will be different than anyone else's. We're not looking for retail, and it'll be family-oriented. That gives us a special blend.''
Weichert Commercial Brokerage of Bethlehem, hired to sell the property, did not return calls Friday seeking comment. Nor did International Speedway Corp. of Daytona, Fla., which owns the speedway.
On Tuesday, a group of local officials including state Rep. Craig Dally, Northampton County Executive Glenn Reibman and representatives of state Sens. Lisa Boscola and Robert Wonderling met at Atiyeh's request at his Whitehall Manor, an assisted-living community in Whitehall Township. Atiyeh and his associates told them about his plans.
The project centers on an 8,000-seat Monolithic Dome, so named by Monolithic Constructors Inc., the Texas company that builds it. Atiyeh hopes its primary tenant would be an American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Rangers or New Jersey Devils. He expressed confidence the sport would find a fan base in the Lehigh Valley. Morning Call
Williams running light Juan Montoya thinks that the Williams team qualified with a light fuel load for today's race at the Nurburgring. “It’s a bit frustrating and disappointing,” Montoya said when comparing his qualifying time to his teammate Raikkonen. “We’ve been really quick all weekend. I think we’ve done a lot of improvements to set up the car for me a little bit, but I think the track conditions were not great. Look at what Alonso did in qualifying and Fisichella, compared with them, it looks pretty good. Compared with Kimi, not so good.
“I had a big moment in the high-speed chicane and lost about three tenths there. It’s not brilliant, but it’s not terrible. I think my race pace in the last few races has been getting better, and now that we are in a much higher grid position, it could be quite interesting.”
“I think Williams is quite light. I think the Renault is probably going long. It’s hard to say. But what you see on pace it wouldn’t surprise me if Renault is going where we’re going probably, and Williams and Toyota are going shorter. The rest, I don’t know and I don’t care.”
What’s up with the Jensen team?UPDATE This SPEEDTV.com article says that Jensen Motorsport will return for the Toronto race and run a limited schedule, with Michael Valiante as a possible driver. 05/17/05 As we understand it, Jensen Motorsport will not run at Milwaukee and their future is unclear at this time. They have their sponsor deal with Konica Minolta to do the Canadian races, but apparently a couple people who said they were going to fund them for the rest of the races (or at least a large chunk thereof) are seemingly trying to forget their pre Long Beach commitments.
With that said, things are actually looking very bright for the team's future. They have some good new big brand marketers who they are working with, the big decisions is just going to be in what direction they take the team and their programs
Their Formula BMW team is racing this weekend at Mid-Ohio and they really want their youngsters to win at least one of those races this weekend. They were fast enough at Laguna to do so, but they just made rookie mistakes and didn't get it done. Eric Jensen puts a lot into helping develop some young talent, and he wants to see that through to them winning races
Jensen sent two of his crew to run Adam Pecorari in the team's Toyota Atlantic car this weekend at Monterrey Mexico. Adam did very well last year in the seat at Montreal and Laguna Seca (able to run ahead of Danica Patrick and Ryan Dalziel in the race, and when he retired he had the 4th fastest race lap) so Eric figures he's got the goods to win. Eric can't be there as he will be at the Monaco GP schmoozing with potential sponsors.
Since the team has a bigger staff now with the ChampCar team, it's easy to allocate guys in different directions, but of course the Champ Car requires all their best guys, which would have caused a major problem for this weekend since Eric was not going to compromise his 4-car Formula BMW program since those kids have a good shot of winning at Mid-Ohio this weekend (plus the championship if they can rebound from the problems they had in Laguna (i.e. - Herrington crashed trying to pass the polesitter on the race start). Mark C.
Unser’s sponsor to also sponsor races Rumor has it that Al Unser III's sponsor, Bospoker.com, will also sponsor four 2005 Toyota Atlantic races. As you know from out revised feature story on Unser, his deal to drive in the Toyota Atlantic series is not 100% complete yet, but we are assured by his management that it will get done and that it's just a matter of clearing up a few loose ends and details.
Jordan to extend Toyota dealUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. Word in the Nurburgring paddock is that Toyota is close to renewing its customer engine deal with Jordan. Although Ferrari talks came to naught, speculation had linked the 'Midland' owned team with Cosworth or Renault for the 2006 grand prix season. Toyota's team president John Howett, though, told Autosport that he is considering Jordan's 'request' about what a new engine contract might look like. And he said: ''We have submitted an initial proposal ... but if they decide no, they have another offer. 'If they are happy, then fine. I think every one needs to decide quickly because of designs for next year.'' 05/09/05 Will grand prix outfit Jordan/Midland still be powered by Toyota next season? Managing director Colin Kolles revealed that the Alex Shnaider-owned outfit negotiated with Ferrari until the Prancing Horse penned a Red Bull deal. ''We have headed down a different road,'' he said at Barcelona. Although pleased with the Toyota collaboration, Kolles revealed that he is contemplating 'three options' - including the Japanese marque - for 2006. ''Actually we are very content (with Toyota),'' he insisted. ''But we know in this game that everything is an option.'' According to speculation, Cosworth and Renault are top of Jordan's engine 'option' pile.
Jordan, Dallara, fall out Although the Jordan 'buyout' rumor seems to have quieted down, whispers about Alex Shnaider's team persist. Bubbling up again is speculation that 'Midland' - Jordan's new 2006 moniker - may have fallen out with Italian race car builder Dallara.
It is whispered that Dallara may still be involved in the new car but it will be designed and built in England. The news would give credence to reports that Shnaider regrets buying Jordan, mere months after he took the keys from Irish owner Eddie Jordan, and would offload it for a fraction of what he paid.
Montagny and Kovalainen Don't be amazed if a second 'Flying Finn' is soon on the grand prix grid. Indeed, Heikki Kovalainen - a part time Renault tester and GP2 driver - will assume Franck Montagny's official 'reserve' moniker at Indianapolis' 19 June grand prix. Montagny will be at Le Mans.
When the Frenchman comes back for his subsequent home grand prix at Magny Cours, though, it could be as a racing driver. Franck fulfilled the 'Friday' role in a Jordan at the Nurburgring, and is thought to be supported by both Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone in ensuring a Frenchman on the French GP grid.
Jordan's Tiago Monteiro, with a smaller sponsorship haul than Narain Karthikeyan, would be the one to move over. GMMF1net
Could Martin and Wallace share ride? Could Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace — both of whom are in their last full seasons in Nextel Cup — share time together next season behind the wheel of one of Jack Roush’s Ford Nextel Cup cars? It’s a long shot, the principals involved said Thursday, but not impossible. Martin said Thursday he’s contemplating doing a split Cup season next year in a Roush Ford. “If you could share a full schedule with the #6 car with another top driver, that’s never been done before,” said Martin. “Selling that to a sponsor, it would take the right sponsor and it would take a lot of things.” Martin’s car owner, Jack Roush, said the odds were not good that it would happen and the more realistic option is that Martin ends up in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in a Roush Ford F-150. “If you ask me to put odds on that (a part-time Cup deal for Martin next year), I’d say the chances of that are pretty slim, between a 1 and a 30 percent probability,” Roush said. “He’d have to reach an accommodation with Rusty (Wallace) or with another driver and I’d have to put together a sponsor package that would be attractive on a year-to-year basis to fund it at a level of a championship program. I’m not saying I couldn’t do it, but it’s going to be a challenge.” “They’d like me to do that and right now my decision is not to do anything like that,” added Wallace. “Although that’s a very, very attractive offer and it does make a lot of sense.” Speed Channel
Craven to drive No. 6 carUPDATE Craftsman Truck Series racer Ricky Craven was at Texas Motor Speedway Tuesday, testing for the Chex 400 race on June 10. Tuesday also was his 39th birthday. The former Nextel Cup driver joined Roush Racing this year with hopes of getting back to Cup racing. But he doesn't think he will be selected to replace the retiring Mark Martin next season in the #6 Viagra Ford. "I think that's very remote," he said. "At 39, I'm sort of the end of the scale for what teams are looking for. I totally focused on this truck team and winning the championship this season." Martin is ending his Cup career but not his racing career. Craven expects Martin to join him in the truck series as a teammate next year. Dallas Morning News05/17/05 Rumor in NASCAR land is that Ricky Craven may be Mark Martin's replacement in the No. 6 car, currently sponsored by Viagra.
NASCAR to force Toyota to stay in IRLUPDATE A reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I don't know what's going on with NASCAR trying to strong-arm Toyota into staying in the IRL, but I did have a higher-up at TRD tell me recently that "the only reason we're doing trucks (Craftsman Series) and sports cars (Grand-Am) is to get into Cup." I know this isn't news to anyone, but it's pretty much from the horses mouth. Name Withheld by Request05/26/05 NASCAR has listened to the concerns and delayed Toyota's advances from the truck series to Cup. NASCAR also has pressured Toyota to remain in IRL rather than moving lock, stock car and barrel to NASCAR but for different reasons -- it would deplete the strength of the IRL, which runs eight of its 17 races at International Speedway Corp. tracks, which the France family also controls. FoxSports [Editor's Note: If this statement is true, NASCAR has the IRL just where they want them. If NASCAR buys USAC it won't have any need for the IRL anymore, and will crush it like a bug when the time is right. NASCAR will then control the entire grassroots front-engined oval track market. The only grassroots market left after that is the junior open wheel rear-engined road racing series that feeds Champ Car, Grand-Am and ALMS.]
NASCAR to buy USAC Reports say a partnership with -- or a purchase of -- USAC is in the works. Considering that high-profile drivers Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman migrated from the open-wheel racing series, it makes sense to control the grass roots of driver development. In its partnership with the All-American Soap Box Derby, NASCAR is striving to have drivers develop entirely within its realm; a purchase of USAC would complete that dream, as drivers could go from go-karts to midgets, sprints, Silver Crown, the Weekly Series and trucks/Busch and Cup, all under the NASCAR banner. FoxSports
Loss of Long Beach a major blow to IRL "I understand Tony (George) told a lot of potential sponsors they'd be running at Long Beach in 2006 and the reality is that we march quietly, steadily along minding our own business," said Kevin Kalkhoven. "I've got a great group of people who are very smart and very thorough." Champ Car [Editor's Note: Based on comments we heard from the IRL paddock, apparently a lot of IRL teams thought they were going to be in Long Beach in 2006 too.]
Sears to renew with Truck seriesUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact.' Sears has inked a five-year extension of its title sponsorship with NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series, keeping the brand “as the only name the 10-year-old racing circuit has had,” according to sources cited by Larry DiTore of BLOOMBERG NEWS. The agreement is effective through 2010. IEG Sponsorship Report Senior Editor William Chipps estimated the value of the pact at $4M per year. Nextel pays around $70M annually for its title deal with NASCAR’s top series. DiTore reports that under the deal, Sears “will increase its national and local advertising of the Craftsman Series.” Sears will also use its affiliation with Kmart “to promote its involvement in” NASCAR Bloomberg News05/26/05 It is expected that Sears today will announce a five-year extension of its sponsorship with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, through 2010. IEG Sponsorship Report Senior Editor William Chipps estimated the deal’s value at $4M per year. Under the agreement, Sears “will increase its national and local advertising” of the series, and leverage its affiliation with Kmart “to promote its involvement” with NASCAR Bloomberg News [Editor's Note: Champ Car and the IRL could use sponsors that do this sort of promotion of the series.]
Tom Carnegie to make his 60th Indy 500 Indy 500 announcer Tom Carnegie, who plans on calling his 60th consecutive race on Sunday, said he was ”feeling better” after being hospitalized yesterday. He hopes to be released from Memorial Hospital today or Friday. USA Today
Feds could nix Charlotte HOF deal The North Carolina state House is scheduled to take a final vote today on a hotel tax increase to support Charlotte’s bid for the NASCAR HOF, state officials have asked federal highway officials to “examine whether Charlotte can use” $20M worth of land needed for the city’s proposed project. While North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley “is expected to approve” the tax increase after the House vote, state officials have found that the federal government has jurisdiction over the key piece of land. Charlotte Observer
Venezuelan eyes Champ Car A member of Renault's 'driver development' program has been banned from racing at Monaco for life after running over and injuring a marshal in the Principality last week, thereby ending all hopes of ever becoming an F1 driver.
Venezuelan teen Pastor Maldonado, also banned for the next four race meetings, failed to slow down for yellow flags as he approached a practice crash scene in his 'World Series by Renault' car. Because he can never race at Monaco again a F1 team will never hire him because they cannot afford to lose the points from even one race, Maldonado must now turn his career to Champ Car.
He has tested a Minardi F1 car and was in discussions with Paul Gentilozzi's Rocketsport Champ Car team during the off-season before Timo Glock was signed by the USA squad.
Biagi in F1 link Italian sports car driver Thomas Biagi is knocking on the F1 door. The 29-year-old met with 'a team' in the Monte Carlo paddock, according to the La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. Biagi currently leads the FIA GT world championship for sister Ferrari brand Maserati. He revealed: ''There are concrete possibilities to reach an agreement to do a test and to sign a (F1) contract for 2006.'' Declining to reveal the identity of the unnamed team, however, Biagi did say he'd like to stay 'within the Ferrari orbit' and that a 2005 debut might even be possible. GMMF1.net
How can IRL and Champ Car merge?UPDATE In light of recent events regarding the (again) potential merger, I have a few thoughts I wish to share. First, many of the people I've spoken with, myself included, are extremely excited by the direction the Champ Car World Series is heading. Specifically, the spec chassis, engine, tires combination and the future creation of more "nation" teams (a la Team Australia) is laying the foundation for the creation of the first true auto racing world championship series, pinning nation verse nation to do battle under nearly identical parameters. One could easily insert the word "Olympics" to the title of this format, which sends the mind spinning when contemplating the potential this format could create in terms of marketing, competition, manufacturer involvement, sponsorship, and nation rivalry.
Casual fan recognition of teams and drivers is imperative for this to work. If a merger is completed there will be a huge influx of American teams. How will they be recognized when they all can't be Team America? Easy. Imagine yourself as a casual observer flipping through the channels when you come upon a future Champ Car race. You are not familiar with the drivers or teams and don't know who to cheer for.....you have no connection to any of them. Then, the scoring monitor comes across and reads: Team American-Newman/Hass is P1, followed by Team Brazil-Fittipaldi in P2, Team America-Penske and Team America-Ganassi are P3 and P4, followed by Team Australia-Green.....in last place is Team America-George. Instantly, you know who you want to cheer for. The drivers may not be American, but you know who to cheer for and the sponsors know who they should sponsor. What sponsor doesn't want to be associated with Team America? Even if Team America-Vasser wins the race and the sponsor for Team America-George ends up last, most customers will not recognize the difference and will only notice the Team America part. Hence, the sponsor still benefits if another Team America wins, even if their team finishes last. The same can be said of other nation teams, especially when the Champ Car World Series comes to the race held in their country. I can only hope that this brilliant idea doesn't fall to the wayside in a merger scenario, but embraced. D Hughes, Cincinnati, OH
05/24/05 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I read on your Hot News page that Tony George finally admits some sort of merger of Champ Car and the IRL is required. But the IRL has 18 races and Champ Car will soon have 15 or 16 next year. That is a total of 34 or so races a year. I know of a few weaker races that can be dropped, but how can you force these two together? Plus I think you will see redundant staff get laid off. Joe Mychuck. St. Louis, MO. Dear Joe, In this article we laid out what we believe is the ONLY way to merge the two series and avoid the pitfalls you point out. Brian Barnhart says there must be just one series. We believe our proposal accomplishes that by having one governing body rowing in the same direction, but two divisions with playoffs just like all stick and ball sports have. We believe when they sit down and talk to iron out the details of a merger, they will find our proposal the only workable solution at this point in time. Mark C.
IRL eyes Grand-Am enginesUPDATE #3 This AutoWeek article talks more about the IRL's 2007 engines. Rest assured that if the IRL switches to Grand-Am engines the series will most assuredly fail. Open wheel race fans have no interest in dumbed down formulas. 05/12/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Look for confirmation shortly of the IRL going to a Grand Am (Daytona Prototypes) engine spec as you report. I work for a Grand-Am team, and we have had some contact from a few of the 'Marquee' teams in the IRL about builders, engine sources, etc. The spec will require a change to the current IRL chassis as the Grand-Am engines are non stressed members. The IRL wants to spin this in a positive light, by showing that they have true 'international' participation in their engine program if teams opt for BMW, Lexus and Infiniti engines, even if they won't really be 'factory' programs, rather off the shelf Grand-Am packages. Adrian, Florida 05/12/05 A little research reveals that the Grand Am engines are rev limited well below their potential, intake size is limited, etc. It would be relatively easy for the Grand Am engine builders to make those engines put out a lot more horsepower than they currently do. The Grand Am cars do have real-time telemetry between the car and the pits... everything from fuel mixture to suspension, steering and braking functions. 05/12/05 Rumors in the Indy paddock are that the IRL may very well switch to the production based Grand-Am prototype engines starting in 2007. The rumors say Honda and Toyota are definitely gone and the series is looking to make it cheap to go racing, i.e. as in dumbing down the formula and prestige of the series further. Since the Grand-Am series is so popular with the fans as evidenced by the huge throngs of spectators that show up at their races (not) the IRL must think adopting the Grand-Am formula will win over some of the many Grand-Am fans.
We sit here writing what we heard and can only shake our head in amazement. This can't be true, can it? It may explain why the IRL has postponed their engine announcement until after Indy. If it is true, here are the current approved Grand-Am engines that make about 500 HP and 400 ft-lb of torque.
The following engines have been approved for competition in Daytona Prototypes. BMW S62-B50 32 valve 5.0L V-8 Bore: 3.701″ Stroke: 3.502″ Minimum crank weight: 40 lbs Maximum compression ratio: 11:1 Cylinder heads and intake cannot be ported. Intake valve: 1.377″ Exhaust valve: 1.200″ Piston, rings, pin and connecting rod: 936 gm minimum Maximum camshaft lift @ retainer with zero lash: .445″ Maximum cam duration: 250 ° @ .050″ lift Induction: 8 individual butterflies @ 1.965″ Twin intake air restrictors of 1.875-inch diameter opening into the approved air box. Must use OEM intake manifold RPM limit: 6800 FORD 5.0L V8 Bore: 3.705″ Stroke: 3.543″ Minimum crank weight: 38 lbs Maximum compression ratio: 11:1 Unported OEM cylinder head. Intake valve: 1.496″ Exhaust valve: 1.260″ Piston, rings, pin and connecting rod: 1100 gm minimum Maximum camshaft lift @ retainer with zero lash: .498″ Maximum cam duration: 214° @ .050″ lift Induction: two butterflies @ 2.250″ diameter RPM limit: 6900 INFINITI 4.35L V8 Cylinder bore: 3.661″ Stroke: 3.149″ Minimum crank weight: 34 lbs Maximum compression ratio: 11:1 Cylinder head intake runner maximum volume: 196 cc’s Cylinder head exhaust runner maximum volume: 83 cc’s Intake valve: 1.424″ Exhaust valve: 1.237″ Piston w/rings, pin and connecting rod: 1000 gm minimum Maximum camshaft lift @ retainer with zero lash: .492″ Maximum cam duration: 282°in/320°ex degrees @.050″lift Intake manifold as approved. Throttle body: Ron’s four hole throttle body w/1.875″ butterflies and 2.5″ inch spacer. RPM limit: 7700 LEXUS (TRD) 4.3L V8 Bore : 3.545″ Stroke: 3.300″ Minimum crank weight: 38 lbs Maximum compression ratio: 11:1 Cylinder head intake runner maximum volume: 139 cc’s Cylinder head exhaust runner maximum volume: 81 cc’s Intake valve: 1.356″ Exhaust valve: 1.147″ Piston w/rings, pin and connecting rod: 1053 gm minimum Maximum camshaft lift @ retainer with zero lash: .478″ Maximum cam duration: 260° @.050″ lift Rons 4 hole throttle body with 1.875″ diameter butterflies. Intake manifold TRD (as approved) RPM limit: 8100 PORSCHE 3.99L GT3R Flat 6 Up to 3.99 liter displacement with unlimited components. PONTIAC 5.0L V8 *Can also be branded as Cadillac or Chevrolet Standard Bore LS6 engine block: 3.900″ Stroke: 3.185″ Minimum crank weight: 38 lbs Maximum compression ratio: 11:1 Cylinder heads must be OEM LS6. Intake and exhaust ports cannot be modified. Cylinder head intake runner maximum volume: 230 cc’s Cylinder head exhaust runner maximum volume: 87 cc’s Intake valve: 2.000″ Exhaust valve: 1.550″ Piston w/rings, pin and connecting rod: 1000 gm minimum May use titanium wrist pin. Maximum camshaft lift @ retainer with zero lash: .590″ Maximum cam duration: 260° @.050″ lift Must use with no modifications: OEM LS6 Corvette part number 88894339 intake. OEM Camaro throttle body with 2.950″ butterfly part number 17113647 Maximum RPM: 7100
Monterrey to get upgrades Sources tell AutoRacing1.com that Champ Car is talking to Monterrey officials about a 5-year renewal of their existing contract. We hear that government officials are promising circuit upgrades (resurfacing, elimination of some of the Mickey Mouse turns, etc.), Fundidora Park upgrades, and the possibility of leaving the grandstands up all year long to save money. A renewal is expected.
Ganassi/Penske trade There has been talk in the motorsports world that Penske's IRL effort will become a one-car team in 2006. Speculation is that Sam Hornish either could take over Wallace's #2 car or be sent to Ganassi Racing, in exchange for Jamie McMurray, who would drive the #2. Sporting News
Long Beach - Kalkhoven gets itUPDATE #13 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact.' See the AutoRacing1.com exclusive on our home page. 05/23/05 As for Long Beach, Kalkhoven was guardedly optimistic about the Champ Car World Series returning to the streets of the Southern California city in ’06. The Indy Racing League has made no secret of the fact it would like to sanction the race next year and published reports have Champ Car in negotiations with the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach’s parent company -- Dover Downs Entertainment, Inc. -- to purchase the event. So, what is the status of Long Beach from Kalkhoven’s standpoint?
“I think it is moving along in a very positive manner,” he said. “There’s a process we’re going through . . . (Dover Downs) is a public company, and there are rules and regulations thy have to follow. I think you’ll see in the next month that things should become relatively clear.”
As far as reports of Champ Car’s interest in buying the event outright, Kalkhoven said “We’ve made no secret about (being interested in buying it. If it were to (be sold), we would certainly like to purchase it.”
Although Indy Racing League officials have stated they are only interested in sanctioning the event, it is believed that a group headed by former Champ Car team owner Barry Green -- who promoted the recent IRL St. Petersburg race -- is also taking a look at Long Beach on the IRL’s behalf. Kalkhoven says, however, that Champ Car has a price it is willing to pay for Long Beach and will not engage in a bidding war.
“There is a value that we’ve assigned to it,” he says. “That’s the value we’ve told them and we will not engage in a bidding war.”
Not unlike a few years ago when he, Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi were negotiating to buy Championship Auto Racing Teams, Kalkhoven politely declined to offer much in the way of specifics regarding the Long Beach situation in deference to federal law pertaining to the sale of assets of a publicly held company such as Dover Downs Entertainment.
“I can’t say anything more, because it’s still under a confidentiality agreement,” he said. “We can’t say anything. You have to remember it’s a public company and under rule 404 of Sarbanes/Oxley people like Martha Stewart end up going to jail! So . . . the rules and regulations when you’re dealing with a public company are substantially tighter than with a private company.” SPEEDTV.com
05/14/05 A decision on the future of the Long Beach (Calif.) Grand Prix doesn't appear imminent. Les Unger, national motor sports manager for race sponsor Toyota, said Friday he spoke with Long Beach officials this week and was told it could be a month before a choice is made between Champ Car, which has the race, and the Indy Racing League. Indy Star05/12/05 [Editor's Note: As first reported on AutoRacing1.com and now confirmed in the Press-Telegram] Kevin Kalkhoven, the Australian businessman and major Champ Car owner who made a fortune acquiring telecommunications companies, appears primed for another takeover. His target: The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. "All I know is that Dover (Motorsports) is going to sell Long Beach," Kalkhoven told the Press-Telegram in a phone interview Wednesday. "(Dover) has hired bankers and we're in discussions."
Up to this point, Delaware-based Dover Motorsports, the parent company of the GPALB, was only believed to be determining which series will race the streets of Long Beach next year. The 31st running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 10 was the last of a five-year deal with the Champ Car World Series, the sanctioning body owned in large part by Kalkhoven.
The Indy Racing League the decade-old rival of Champ Car was the only other series considered to be in the running for the new contract. But Kalkhoven's bid to purchase the GPALB certainly changes things.
"Quite frankly, this is one of the possibilities," said Jim Michaelian, the head of the Grand Prix Association. "We are going to do whatever is best for the future of the race. Dover is a public company and it has to review all the alternatives it has in front of it and make the right decision."
Michaelian said if the GPALB is indeed sold, he hopes the new owners would leave the organization intact like Dover did seven years ago. "We have one hell of a team here," he said. "They are a great team that has shown it can run this event effectively over the years. If (a sale) were to transpire, I think anybody would want to retain that capability."
Kalkhoven said he was bound by a confidentiality agreement with Dover, a move that is common when companies start looking at each other's books. Due to the agreement, Kalkhoven said he couldn't go into too much detail on his bid.
He refused to say how much he thinks the GPALB is worth. The Grand Prix Association has been estimated to be worth between $20 million to $25 million. Kalkhoven appears to be the only bidder at this point.
"The IRL is not a bidder," said Ken Ungar, the vice president of business affairs for the IRL. "The IRL is waiting for a response from our offer to sanction the race, but we won't make a bid to buy (the GPALB)."
That marks a change of strategy for the IRL. Tony George, the founder of the IRL and its CEO, told the Press-Telegram in recent months that he'd be willing to purchase the GPALB if given the opportunity.
"This is not unprecedented," Ungar said. "Champ Car is in a position where it needs to promote many of its own events. We don't promote our own events. That's not something we would contemplate doing."
Michaelian didn't say whether Dover officials were leaning toward Kalkhoven's bid to purchase the GPALB or the IRL's bid to purely sanction the race. He said he expects a timely conclusion to the process. More at Press-Telegram
05/11/05 In addition to our rumor update that appeared yesterday, this Long Beach Press-Telegram article talks about the status of the Long Beach race. The author, AJ Perez, was the one who went to the St. Petersburg IRL race anticipating, perhaps tipped off, that the IRL would get Long Beach. That was possible early on by Mr. Perez wasn't aware that Kevin Kalkhoven would put a stop to it, which he did. Despite all the uncertainty that swirled around this year's race, it was the biggest in recent years. His anti-Champ Car rhetoric has been toned down in recent articles. Ditto for the Orange County Register. 05/10/05 AutoRacing1.com has learned that Dover Motorsports is definitely looking to sell the Long Beach GP race. We hear the transaction probably will take until July to complete. Assuming our sources are correct, they tell us they are in negotiations with Champ Car (and we assume the IRL) to buy it, this of course puts Champ Car very much in the drivers seat. Recall our previous report on the City Council meeting that took place right after this year's race, whereby the city attorney stated that if Dover sells the asset (the race) the contract is null and void and the city can then negotiate a new contract with any entity they please. However, the City Council clearly favors Champ Car and will vote to either 1) continue the contract if Dover sells the race to Champ Car, or 2) Void the contract and do a deal with Champ Car if Dover sells the asset to the IRL.
This of course is analogous to "heads I win, tails you lose" in a coin toss. Champ Car appears to be in the catbird seat to get the Long Beach contract assuming they come to an agreement over the price of the asset. Based on his history is anyone better at buying assets that Kevin Kalkhoven and his crack team of attorneys and financial analysts? Having done the deal with a large corporation like Ford to acquire Cosworth, we suspect they will work out an amicable deal with Dover Motorsports for the Long Beach race. Mark C.
04/06/05 Our latest article on this rumor can be found on our Home page. 04/06/05 Kevin Kalkhoven has not bought the rights to Long Beach nor has the IRL. We will have a more complete story on what is really going on later tonight. 04/06/05 We are bumping this rumor up to 'strong.' Word going around Indy is that Kevin Kalkhoven has trumped Tony George again. An IRL official said at the Flag Room last night in Indy that Kalkhoven had bought the rights to the Long Beach GP from Dover and that it was a done deal. This item remains a rumor because an IRL official saying it at the Flag Room doesn't make it official. It does, however, substantiate the original rumor, that Champ Car appears to have the inside track on Long Beach. We will try to get more info this weekend in Long Beach. Mark C. 04/05/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, The Press Telegram does nothing in this town without 1) City ok 2) LBGP ok The Managing editor just does not take on the downtown establishment. Same thing with the university; no matter how bad the coaches are they "support the home team." Often to his staff's chagrin. I can't believe they sent someone to St. Pete. UNBELIEVEABLE. They are so short of sports reporters that they don't send writers to cover local college or pro stuff but wire service or group service things nowadays. In fact, they even have a columnist doing double duty covering local sports for the first time in over 15 years. Name Withheld, Long Beach Dear No Name, What you are insinuating is that the Press Telegram AND the LBGP (Dover) are in cahoots with the IRL to undermine the event and bring the IRL in? On the surface it may appear that way, but it's all speculation at this point. The LBGP appears to be trying hard to promote this year's race (and honor the current contract) but that doesn't mean they have other motives after the race is over. Mark C. 04/05/05 Champ Car could be prepared to enter an unprecedented bid to keep the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on its schedule. A source with knowledge of the negotiations told the Press-Telegram that Champ Car — the series that will headline the LBGP this weekend — might give away the first year of what is expected to be a three-year contract for free to keep Long Beach in its fold. The bid appears to be a pre-emptive strike against the Indy Racing League, which ran its first street race here Sunday.
The Grand Prix Association has chosen not to comment on negotiations until after the conclusion of this Sunday's race, which marks the end of the Champ Car's contract. Dover Motorsports, the parent company of the Grand Prix Association, pays about $2.4 million per race to run Champ Car on the streets of Long Beach. "It could all come down to how munch money Champ Car is willing to forgo not to lose Long Beach, which would be a significant loss," said Dennis McAlpine, an analyst with McAlpine Associates in New York. Champ Car spokesman Eric Mauk said in a phone interview Sunday he didn't have knowledge of any current discussions on the new contract, although he said Long Beach was "a very important race and we will do what it can to maintain our presence there."
Champ Car — formerly known as CART — first ran in Long Beach in 1984 after replacing Formula One. Jim Michaelian, the head of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, said recently that he expects to make a decision along with officials at Dover within 30 days of the conclusion of the LBGP. "I don't like bidding wars, but I think what Dover and Long Beach have to look at is what's best for the event long-term," said Tony George, the president of the IRL. "If I was asked to respond to (a bid), it would certainly have to make sense."
George put the chances of inking a deal with the LBGP at "no better than 50-50." If the IRL does win out in Long Beach, the reverberations could be felt all the way to the Inland Empire. "A lot will depend on promoters interest in us staying," George said when asked if he'd have two races in Southern California. "I can't sit here today and say, 'Yes we will," or 'No we won't' be in Fontana for the foreseeable future."
The IRL has raced at the California Speedway — a track owned by the International Speedway Corporation — since 2002. The race will conclude the IRL's 2005 season on Oct. 16. The Grand-Am Series, which raced over the weekend in Fontana, has also expressed interest in coming to the LBGP as a support race if the IRL wins its bid. Long Beach Press Telegram [Editor's Note: It's plain to see that the Long Beach Press Telegram wants the IRL to take over the race in Long Beach. Why else would they send a reporter to an IRL race in St. Petersburg when in fact there currently is no IRL race in Long Beach? Just as they took sides with the IRL during the CART bankruptcy hearings, this appears to be an underhanded ploy by the local newspaper in Long Beach to create negative press surrounding this year's event in an effort to torpedo it.]
04/04/05 It looks like the IRL is still trying to wrestle Long Beach from Champ Car. The IRL is in "serious discussions" with officials from the Long Beach (Calif.) Grand Prix for a race in 2006, according to Ken Ungar, a league vice president and its lead schedule-maker. Long Beach's contract with the Champ Car World Series expires after next week's race. Indy Star04/03/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I sure hope this rumor pans out. My many Champ Car fans and I love Long Beach and would miss going if the IRL stole the race. We won't go if it is an IRL race. Jenny Moore, San Diego, CA04/02/05 We are hearing rumors that Champ Car will remain in Long Beach after 2005, the last year of the current contract. We hear that they took a page out of the Tony George/IRL book of "free" sanctioning fees and will forego the current $2 million fee for the first year of a new multi-year agreement, something we assume that the IRL was willing to offer as well. IRL insiders told us that Tony George paid all the sanction fees for all the IRL races up until recently.
It would have been very risky for Toyota and for Dover Motorsports to switch horses and change the race over to an IRL event and risk ruining a great event for all involved. Champ Car fans are adamant about not supporting the IRL and we hear they flooded the Long Beach offices with mail supporting Champ Car and stating clearly they would not support an IRL race, but in the end what matters most to Dover is to turn a profit for their shareholders and until Champ Car gets back to the strength they enjoyed back in the 90's, they are willing to work with Dover to ensure the continuation of their marquee event.
Monterrey race to moveUPDATE Fans were not very happy at Monterrey, a lot of them left the grandstands before the race was over because they couldn’t take the heat anymore. Many were complaining to any newspaper or TV network they could find. Either change the race back to March or April, or many of these fans will not be coming back. One fan told me that he bought 2 tickets, but after going to qualifications on Saturday with his little kid, he decided to go alone on Sunday. More than a hundred fans had to be treated for sun burns, heat stroke, etc. May in Mexico? Just plain stupid. Jose Arrambide reporting from Monterrey.05/22/05 Word in the Champ Car paddock is that the Monterrey race will probably move to March or April in 2006. It appears that a few cities are trying to land a date May - New York, Miami, Houston, and Buenos Aires among others (it seems that Houston is also in the running for May). We would not hold our breath on these just yet though. Jose A.
The future of NASCAR's All-Star race Fans were handed buttons as they walked through the gates at Lowe's Motor Speedway that read, "Racing was built here. Racing belongs here." Even as local and racetrack officials intensified their efforts to keep the Nextel All-Star Challenge at the 1.5-mile speedway, speculation continued to grow it might be moved. The merger between Nextel Communications and Sprint, which will be finalized later this year, triggered a lot of talk the race could be moved around on a rotating basis. Fueling the speculation is the fact NASCAR is owned and controlled by the France family - the same people who own International Speedway Corp. Lowe's is a member of rival Speedway Motorsports Inc., while the tracks in Richmond and Kansas City are owned by ISC. In short, the France family would make millions by moving the all-star race to one of their tracks. Nextel officials, however, still love Charlotte. They are impressed with the community's passion for the sport and the way speedway officials have fought to keep back-to-back races in the area in May. The decision to keep the race at Lowe's doesn't belong to Nextel. "That's one of things that's NASCAR's call," said Michael Robichaud, Nextel's senior director of sports and entertainment marketing. "We expect it to stay here, we expect it to continue to grow as an event, to grow and learn from what we learned this year and take it a few steps forward. Hopefully it will be here next year, but I haven't been privy to next year's schedule. These are the best fans, they love the sport. We love it here. It's been great to us here." Nextel officials not only aren't part of the scheduling process, they apparently aren't even given a preview of the schedule. Nextel didn't learn its all-star race was returning to Lowe's until the schedule was released to the public last May. Augusta Chronicle
Overheard in Mid-Ohio A rumor making the rounds at the ALMS Mid-Ohio race this past weekend was that Champ Car may be coming back to Mid Ohio in 2006 if not 2006, then in 2007. Supposedly Champ Car and Mid-Ohio are working out the details. . The track will be repaved we hear, but if it is not widened too, it will remain nothing more than a follow-the-leader track.
Overheard in Monaco - II Word in the Monaco paddock was that Americans Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Speed may be the drivers for the Red Bull F1 team next year. Another rumor making the rounds was that next year will be the last year for the F1 race at Indy. F1 is pulling out and the race will be in Cancun Mexico on a track to be built. We shall see about that one....
Overheard in Indy We hear that with the FCC cracking down on salty talk on the radio between the drivers and the pits the FCC will send people to races and listen in and try to catch the drivers or crews swearing and the fine is $5000 a pop. We hear that the Andretti/Green team has gone digital for this reason so that no one can listen in on them Including teams who may want to spy on them).
Overheard in Monaco Although Bernie Ecclestone charges a hefty sanctioning fee for a Formula One race, as high as $30 million per year for some races, he collects nothing for the Monaco GP. The city takes all the profits. Why? Because 1) Monaco is very prestigious, and hence brings a lot of notoriety to F1, and 2) almost all sponsors are wined and dined in Monaco because it is THE place to be entertained and Bernie understands the value of keeping all the sponsors happy. He more than makes up for it from the other races. Mark C. reporting from Monaco
Monterrey to sell out IAutoRacing1 went to the ticket booth just outside of the track to see how ticket sales were going. There were lines of fans trying to get tickets, however, most grandstands are already sold out. Grandstands along the main straight are all sold out, sections 15 16 and 17 are all sold out, all general admission tickets are all sold out. In fact there are only 4 sections that still have tickets remaining. You don´t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out this race is going to be a sold out event on Sunday. Jose Arrambide
Monterrey race likely to continue Talk at the track is that this will not be the last race held at the track, (this has been reported by AutoRacing1 many times, there will be more races here) but that organizers have been using the strategy that they might be going out of business, to make people think this will be their last chance to see the Champ Cars. They expect a big turnout for this year's event and then announcing that because of the big number of fans they have decided to extend the race a few more years, making the fans feel they had something to do with it. True or not, this is the perception of the fans, and you know what they say, sometimes perception is reality. Jose Arrambide reporting from Monterrey
Tony George hopes for no bumping Rumor in the Indy paddock is that IRL President Tony George hopes there are just 33 cars attempt to qualify for the Indy 500 because his two Vision Racing cars are the slowest on the track and would probably be bumped.
Russian trying to sell Midland-Jordan teamUPDATE #2 Eddie Irvine was wandering around the F1 paddock on Friday in Monaco chatting with various team owners and introducing them to a wealthy Russian who is considering buying a Formula 1 team for Irvine to run. Irvine's mysterious friend is none other than Roustam Tariko, a 43-year-old Russian who is estimated to be worth something in the region of $870m.
Tariko is the chairman of Russian Standard Bank but has a background in the vodka trade. Tariko started out importing expensive chocolates into Russia in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He then switched to importing luxury alcohol brands for the Russian market, selling Martini, Johnnie Walker and Bacardi to the new rich of Russia. In 1998 he launched his own brand of vodka, called Russian Standard and it quickly became one of the country's best selling brands, with sales of around $75m a year. Not content with this he then bought an inactive bank called Agroopttorgbank and renamed it the Russian Standard Bank and started offering consumer loans in Russia in 2000. His plan was to create a brand and offer a variety of different services, as a sort of Russian version of Richard Branson's Virgin. In the middle of last year it was announced that BNP Paribas, France's second largest bank, was going to buy the Russian Standard Bank for around $300m. Soon after the deal was agreed, however, Tariko went cold on the deal and appeared to change his mind and the deal has since fallen apart.
Tariko controls his empire through a British Virgin Islands company called Roust Holdings Ltd. The word is that Tariko will buy Alex Shnaider out of Jordan. Grandprix.com
05/19/05 Eddie Irvine is in Monaco to discuss the possibility of buying Jordan, the rumor mill is yelling. The former Ferrari and Jaguar driver, who made his F1 debut for team founder Eddie Jordan, is reportedly backed by an unnamed Russian businessman. Earlier, separate speculation hinted that Russian-Canadian Alex Shnaider regrets buying the Silverstone based operation.
Indeed, he narrowly averted a recent winding up petition courtesy of an unpaid creditor, and stalled on due payments for the Brackley wind tunnel to the point that Eddie Jordan ordered locks to be changed.
Irvine, 39, stayed away from the F1 paddock since he retired in 2002, but - this year - has now shown up at Imola, Barcelona, and (on Sunday) Monte Carlo. He appeared on a recent Irish rich-list as wealthier even than countryman Eddie Jordan, who sold the team last season. 05/19/05 The word on the street in Monaco is that Jordan F1 owner Alex Shnaider is trying to get rid of the team, after just a few months of ownership. It seems that Shnaider is not very keen on pouring large sums of money into the team and we hear that he is in the process of trying to sell the operation to another Russian businessman. The big question being asked in the paddock at Monaco was which of the Russian new rich will be taking up the burden of running the team which was founded by Eddie Jordan. Grandprix.com
Mario Andretti and Jeff Gordon dealUPDATE Four-time NASCAR Champion Jeff Gordon announced today he is opening a driving school in a joint venture with four-time Champ Car National Champion Mario Andretti.
Both drivers were on hand for the announcement today in the Media Center at Lowe's Motor Speedway, where the school will begin operations in August of 2006.
The Jeff Gordon Driving School will use authentic NASCAR-style stock cars actually raced by top NASCAR drivers. The Mario Andretti Driving School, which opened in 2004, offers fans a chance to drive Indy-style cars.
The Jeff Gordon Racing School and the Mario Andretti Racing School will operate under the same parent company - Driving 101.
The Jeff Gordon Driving School will offer fans seven different packages ranging in price from $75 for a pace car ride to $2,999 for a 70-lap, day-and-a-half driving program.
Anyone 18 years of age with a valid driver's license can drive at the Jeff Gordon Racing School. For more information, visit andrettigordon.com
05/18/05 A day before the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon and Mario Andretti will unveil a new venture. Jeff Gordon is a four-time NASCAR Champion, taking top honors in 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001. Mario Andretti won just about everything: The Daytona 500, the Indy 500, the Formula One World Championship and the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. He won the Champ Car National Championship four times and was a three-time winner at Sebring. Together they are two of the most popular drivers in the world and this new venture will garner a lot of attention. Check for updates late Friday here and at www.andrettigordon.com. The rumor mill says it can be a stock car driving experience much like the Petty Driving Experience or the current Andretti open wheel version.
Piquet Jr. to Minardi Nelson Piquet Jr was lurking around Minardi for most of Thursday in Monte Carlo and team sources say that the Brazilian, who is currently racing in GP2 wants to try to break into F1 next year. Minardi will probably have seats available as team boss Paul Stoddart makes no bones about the fact that he will take the drivers who have the money he needs to keep the team running in 2006. The word on the street is that the going rate for a Minardi drive in 2006 is around $6m, depending on the Euro-dollar exchange rate at any given moment. Grandprix.com
Again no bumping at Indy What fans see is apparently what they will get for this year's Indianapolis 500. With one day of practice remaining prior to the resumption of qualifying, a review of the teams competing for the 33 starting slots indicates there will be minimal changes to the previously announced car-and-driver combinations.
Unless a current driver is injured before the May 29 race or rookie Arie Luyendyk Jr. -- who was added to the participation list Wednesday -- fails to complete the mandatory four-stage newcomer test, the two final days of qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway might not produce much drama. Rain took away Luyendyk's first opportunity Thursday. He is expected to be on the track this morning before official practice begins at noon. More at Indy Star
Lexus to F1? Toyota has joined the frame of potential engine suppliers to Williams in the near future, as speculations continue that current Grove engine partners, BMW, may acquire the Sauber team in the next few months and make it its works outfit, perhaps as early as next year.
As the BMW-Sauber rumor has been afloat for quite a while, other engine manufacturers such as Honda and Cosworth - which will lose its current main customer, Red Bull, due to a Ferrari switch next year - have emerged as future Williams suppliers. Formula 1’s manufacturers have all committed to, if necessary, sell engines to one additional team besides their “official” entry.
Toyota’s name has now come to the fore for two reasons: first, it reportedly no longer wants to have Jordan as its customer team. The Japanese manufacturer sees little marketing value in being linked to the Silverstone-based backmarkers, so much so that there are no mentions to Toyota in the current EJ15’s livery.
Second, and perhaps most important, Toyota’s association with Williams would be backed by a strong marketing plan. The Japanese auto giant is currently in the process of turning its once American-only brand, Lexus, into a global brand.
Lexus’ worldwide expansion includes its introduction into the domestic Japanese market (where its cars were previously sold as Toyotas), and partnering it with a proven squad such as Williams would provide it with a strong marketing platform. In addition, a Williams-Lexus could help the premium marque to get past the conservative image it holds in several major markets, the U.S. included. SPEEDTV.com
Ilmor to Honda? Mercedes' Mario Illien could be about to switch to F1 rival Honda. That's the latest murmur in the always bubbling, harbourside Monte Carlo paddock. Illien, co founder and chief of the Ilmor company that builds Mercedes' engines for McLaren, is understood to be stalling in the early negotiations to renew his contract. Fellow Ilmor founder Paul Morgan, the latter 'mor' in the Ilmor moniker, died when the plane he was piloting crashed in 2001. Illien's deal expires in December. GMMF1Net
BMW to stay with Williams Williams has warned F1 rival Sauber not to expect an exclusive engine deal with BMW. It is rumored that the undoubted link between Munich and Peter Sauber's Hinwil team may extend as far as a buyout and BMW-Williams split. But Grove's technical director Sam Michael called the six-year collaboration 'strong.'
''Both (Williams and BMW) want to win,'' the 31-year-old Australian remarked, ''and both agree on how they want to go about their winning.'' Michael said: ''We fully expect to continue with BMW.'' GMMF1
Schu 'number two'? Ralf Schumacher has denied he is standing on the cusp of becoming an unwilling 'number two' at Formula One employer Toyota. The German, 29, has been generally outpaced by teammate Jarno Trulli so far in 2005.
''Unlike some other teams,'' Schumacher told Spanish newspaper Marca, ''Jarno and I can have the exact same equipment. There is so need for a number one, number two driver.''
Ralf's elder brother, Michael, enjoys 'number one' status at Ferrari, including perpetual assignment of the spare car and - just quietly - the joyful end of team orders. Schumacher Junior also predicted that regular wins for the Cologne based squad are at least 'one more year' away. ''It's a gradual process,'' he said. GMMF1
F1 qualifying rules to change A new qualifying system could be installed as early as next Sunday's grand prix in Nurburg. Bernie Ecclestone informally met with each F1 team boss at Monaco on Thursday and pushed for the removal of the current 'aggregate' system, played out on Saturday and Sunday morning. A formal meeting is scheduled for Saturday. Reports said the new format would be a single one-lap system, with race levels of fuel. ''It is obviously a very, very good idea (to change),'' said one grand prix team member.
Haberfeld to stand by for Rocketsports Brazilian Mario Haberfeld will standby as a possible replacement this weekend in Monterrey should Timo Glock not be able to fulfill his duties due to injuries (concussion) suffered in a recent Milwaukee crash. “They wanted someone who could step in and do a good job immediately, someone who knew the car and the track,” Haberfeld revealed. “I don’t know yet whether I’ll race or not, buy I’m glad for being remembered by the Rocketsports team,” Haberfeld said.
What's up at Penske South?UPDATE #2 Now that Roger Penske owns all of Penske Racing South, crew chief Matt Borland has been signed to a contract extension and driver #12-Ryan Newman is in negotiations for a similar extension, the focus shifts to finding a replacement for Rusty Wallace. Penske bought the 48% share of the team owned by Wallace, Don Miller and John Erickson this week, giving the racing magnate complete control of the three-car [#2, #12, #77] team. Wallace has announced he'll retire at the end of this season, and many believe Jamie McMurray, whose contract with Chip Ganassi Racing ends this season, will climb into the #2 Miller Dodge. McMurray, who is dating Wallace's daughter, is trying to avoid all the speculation. "Last year I got to talking about my contract," McMurray said. "I'm not going to talk about that at all." Newman has talked with Roush Racing and Evernham Motorsports about a future, but he's leaning toward staying with Borland and Penske. Augusta Chronicle05/16/05 Ryan Newman has another year on his contract with car owner Roger Penske, but Ford's Jack Roush, Dodge's Ray Evernham, and Chevy executives have all been making a run at Newman, who is the hottest qualifier on the stock car tour. Winston Salem Journal05/14/05 Penske Racing South is working to cement its future around current Nextel Cup Series star Ryan Newman and his crew chief, Matt Borland. Borland has signed a new five-year contract to remain with the organization, team co-owner and president Don Miller confirmed Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. In addition, Miller said, the team is close to working out a new contract with Newman.
"The whole idea is to keep us all together for a few more years," Miller said.
Although Newman's contract status has not been widely reported, he has received offers from at least two other organizations, including Roush Racing and Evernham Motorsports, sources confirmed. Last weekend at Darlington, S.C., Newman was seen leaving a meeting in the motorhome lot with all five of Roush's Cup drivers. ThatsRacin
Bernie to swap F1 jobUPDATE "Effectively we need someone to take control of Formula One full time from the FIA point of view," Max Mosley said. "It's just taking so much of my time that I can't afford to go on like this really. I want to spend more time with matters in Brussels, with road cars, and instead I am fighting fires in Formula One. It's really done to try and unload the burden. The thought did occur to me that if Bernie could be persuaded to get out of the commercial side, why shouldn't he deal with the FIA side, deal with the teams and banks and so on. He knows the business better than anyone." Max Mosley05/19/05 F1 'supremo' Bernie Ecclestone is considering an offer to quit as commercial rights holder and accept a job at the FIA. Max Mosley has asked the 74-year-old to take over his role dealing with the 'problems' within Formula One.
''He hasn't said yes and he hasn't said no,'' the FIA president revealed at a Monaco lunch.
Ecclestone confirmed that accepting the job would involve 'removing myself' from dealing with the commercial side of grands prix. But he said: ''I am seriously considering the proposition.''
It is expected that Ecclestone's appointment in the F1-specific job might mollify the dreadful relations between the teams and Mosley. And there might be another power play at work, too.
With the uninterested banks left to do Bernie's job, they might simply decide to sell their 75 per cent stake to the group of unhappy F1 carmakers, or back to Ecclestone.
Big deal coming down in F1 According to this Grandprix.com article tomorrow morning there may be news regarding the future of Formula 1 with what is rumoured to be a major shift in the current alliances in Grand Prix. At the moment however details are sketchy. Whether or not this is a positive development remains to be seen because it is hard to find easy solutions which do not lead to additional problems. We will keep you posted as and when things develop.
Hamilton could face criminal charges NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Bobby Hamilton Jr. could faces criminal charges in Tennessee after a wild melee at the Music City Motorplex in Nashville this past week. Hamilton was making a special guest appearance in the All-American Late Model Series Challenge.
Just 10 laps into the race, Hamilton and series veteran Mark Day got together on the track. The resulting crash sent Hamilton into the wall, ending his night. But as he was bringing his wrecked car down pit lane, he smashed into Day's car sending one of Day's crew members flying across the front of the car. Then crews from both teams starting throwing punches creating a situation that forced the track to red flag the race and call in local police to stop the fighting.
Hamilton told the Nashville Tennessean that the incident was a carryover from a highly publicized rift between Day and former Challenge Series driver Deborah Renshaw. Renshaw quit racing at the track because of the controversy and now drives in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for Bobby Hamilton Sr. "Day ran off Deborah because he couldn't beat her," Hamilton said. "And now he pulls something like this."
One of Day's crew members, William Scogin, was slammed into the pit wall by Hamilton's car. Scogin, who met with Metro Nashville Police at the track, said that he was considering swearing out a warrant on Hamilton for vehicular assault. Toronto Sun
Penske's ALMS drivers While there has been rumors that Toronto's Paul Tracy is interested in teaming up with his old boss Penske in the P2 Porsche, it's likely going to be the experienced sports car pairing of Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr -- former ALMS GT champions -- who will get the ride. Toronto Sun
Brack to replace RiceUPDATE #2 This rumor is now 'fact.' See hot news page for story. 05/17/05 Brack said this to SPEEDTV.com - "I don't know what you're talking about," said Brack late Tuesday night, trying to sound surprised. "But if something like that happened it would be a twist of fate wouldn't it?" 05/17/05 According to this SPEEDTV article, Rahal/Letterman Racing is holding a press conference Wednesday morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to announce its plans for the Argent Panoz/Honda and Kenny Brack is expected to get back in his old seat. Brack, the 1999 Indy winner, suffered serious injuries in the 2003 IRL finale at Texas and opted not to run in 2004 -- being replaced by Rice.
Lazier out of ride after Indy Panther Racing owner John Barnes holds little hope of being able to provide a car for 1996 Indy winner Buddy Lazier beyond this month. "I wish we could use him more, but I'm having a hard enough time getting money for the other two," said Barnes, whose regular IRL drivers are Tomas Scheckter and rookie Tomas Enge. Lazier will start ninth, followed immediately by Enge and Scheckter. Indy Star
Arie Jr and Casey Mears to have a goUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Arie Luyendyk, Jr. was named to pilot the No. 98 CURB/Agajanian/Beck Motorsports machine in The 89th Indianapolis 500; the rookie will have to undergo a special rookie orientation before attempting to practice and qualify the Dallara-Chevrolet. No word on Mears yet. 05/16/05 Beck Motorsports, which has yet to put a car on the track, is expected to debut this week with rookie Arie Luyendyk Jr. at the wheel. He'll need to pass rookie orientation. Meanwhile, Casey Mears, nephew of four-time Indy winner Rick Mears, was at the track Sunday rooting on his Ganassi Racing brethren. Mears, who drives for Ganassi's NASCAR team, isn't satisfied just coming to Indy as a spectator. "Chip knows I really want to run," he said. "Hopefully, that will happen soon." Indy Star
NASCAR confirms talks withToyotaUPDATE #6 Oft-heard reports that Toyota will show up with a NASCAR Busch Series car were denied by Toyota PR specialist John Procida. He made it crystal clear, saying, “We are not going Busch racing.” Furthermore, he added, “We’ll be back here in the IRL next year,” meaning the Indy 500. National Speed Sport News05/09/05 [Editor's Note: We are dropping this rumor back to 'speculation.' See our other rumor that says the Car of Tomorrow delay may delay Toyota's entry into Busch or Cup.] Since the day that Toyota came on the NASCAR scene in the truck series, speculation has continually bubbled about when the Japanese automaker will invade the Cup and Busch ranks. The speculation picked up in recent days with stories citing NASCAR sources as saying that Toyota is working on a car to race in the Busch Series next season and that Toyota has joined Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford in discussion with NASCAR over the development of its "Car of Tomorrow" and "Engine of the Future" for the Cup Series on down.
Those stories were accompanied at Talladega last weekend by word through the garage area that Johnny Benson, who drives for Toyota in the truck series, has tested a Toyota stock car with a Solara body at his short track in Michigan. Patrick Wall, manager of Toyota Racing Development in High Point, confirmed that Toyota has participated in the discussions about the "Car of Tomorrow" and "Engine of the Future" which could bring as early as 2007 significant changes from the cars and engines used now. But, he said, Toyota's plans hinge on the timetable for implementation of the rules changes and that the only series Toyota will race in next year is the truck series. "We currently race trucks and we are looking at racing cars," Wall said. "We are doing an investigation into the best path for Toyota to get into car racing, and we are waiting on NASCAR to give us the timetable for the 'Car of Tomorrow' and 'Engine of the Future' before we determine what the best plan for us will be."
Wall said he expects NASCAR to announced the timetable for the future car and engine by the end of this month. The "Car of Tomorrow" is expected to incorporate more safety features, including a bigger greenhouse (area from windows on up). The "Engine of the Future" is expected to provide a common engine platform for all manufacturers. "It takes such a financial commitment to develop cars and engines that we want to see what direction NASCAR is going," Wall said. He denied that Toyota is developing a car to race in the Busch Series next year. "We are not working on any Busch cars," he said. He said that it did not make sense financially to develop a car now if the rules are to change significantly in the near future. "When you look at the cost involved, it takes a couple of years to get a payback on that investment," Wall said. He also denied that Benson or any one else has tested a Toyota stock car. "I can assure you that there has not been a Toyota-bodied stock car or a stock car with a Toyota engine [maybe a Ford or Chevy engine?] on a track anywhere on the planet since we raced in the NASCAR Dash Series with Robert Huffman in 2003," Wall said. High Point Enterprise
05/03/05 We are bumping this rumor up to 'strong' today and it will go to 'fact' around July 1st. According to this SPEED TV article, NASCAR has confirmed that Toyota intends to compete in the Busch Series in 2006 and is an active participant in discussions about the next generation of Nextel Cup cars and engines, which are slated to debut in 2007, or perhaps 2008. 05/02/05 The key issue in the NASCAR Cup garage at the moment is Toyota's apparently imminent step up to the Busch series next season, with an expected Nextel Cup debut in 2007. Toyota's NASCAR model is expected to be the Avalon, though some are looking at the Solara, too. Toyota, according to sources, wants to field two Busch teams next year, with engines provided by the company, as it has done with its NASCAR Truck program. However, NASCAR officials are reported to have told Toyota that it would have to provide support to at least five or six teams. Toyota is also reported to be bidding for some big-name NASCAR teams for its Busch effort, the biggest name mentioned being Chevy kingpin Rick Hendrick. GM executives insist they've got firm contracts with Hendrick for the next several years. However the Hendrick-Toyota questions have persisted, in part perhaps because Hendrick is one of the country's biggest Lexus dealers. Adding fuel to the Toyota-NASCAR issue are reports that Toyota plans to drop its IRL support at the end of the season (the company is spending nearly $100 million this year on its Indy-car program) and that Honda executives have indicated to IRL boss Tony George they don't plan to stick it out either if Honda is to become the only engine supplier to that series. Winston Salem Journal04/30/05 NASCAR Nextel Cup Director John Darby confirmed Friday that Toyota is participating in discussions with NASCAR about the new engine and so-called “Car of the Future,” both of which are expected to be introduced in 2007. This is the strongest indication yet that the giant Japanese automaker likely will enter the Nextel Cup Series, probably in 2007, though publicly it has not committed to doing so — yet. But at the very least, Toyota seems committed to the Busch Series for ’06, as Darby said. Toyota intends to submit a new car and engine to NASCAR by July 1, Darby said, the first steps necessary for Toyota to compete in the Busch Series next year. “They’re involved in our engine conversation,” Darby said of Toyota. “There’s an anticipation of them joining us in the Busch Series next season. I know they’re working on a car right now for submittal.” Asked if he thought Toyota’s arrival would be good for the sport, reigning Cup champ Kurt Busch said, “Definitely. They’ll bring in more sponsorship dollars, more interest. When we got these new tracks for two dates — Phoenix, Texas, California — people are familiar with Toyotas. They know what they’re about.” Busch’s car owner, Jack Roush, is adamantly opposed to Toyota’s presence in NASCAR, however, and privately, team owners are worried that the Japanese automaker will drive up the price of racing. Speed Channel04/27/05 There are no really outrageous salaries in NASCAR as there are in some other professional sports. Not that any of the drivers is really complaining. Hanging over the sport is the effect that Toyota might have when it enters stock-car racing. Toyota executives may handle all driver contracts at the corporate level, instead of leaving it up to individual team owners. And Toyota has considerable cash in the bank for whatever it might want to do, because the company is the most profitable of the automakers at the moment. Might Toyota come in and spend whatever it takes to get whichever driver it wants? Executives at Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler may have to ante up themselves to keep prized drivers in the fold.
Toyota appears to be cranking up things for a 2006 Busch effort, with a Nextel Cup project planned for 2007 - and it may need some drivers. And not just one or two, because NASCAR is expected to insist that Toyota back at least six teams when it steps up. Cary Agajanian, one of auto-racing's top agents, negotiated a blockbuster contract for Stewart in 2003 that runs through the end of 2009 and is reported to be worth $10 million a year in straight salary, plus ancillary income. Agajanian's other NASCAR clients are Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Green, Jason Leffler, Dave Blaney and Jamie McMurray, with McMurray perhaps the biggest name that Agajanian has in play for a new contract.
Agajanian said that NASCAR doesn't have any influence in driver contract negotiations. "I don't think NASCAR has anything to do with it, seriously," Agajanian said. "Each team negotiates what it thinks is a fair salary. Owners can set percentages of what they need to pay, and it's not just for drivers but also crew chiefs and tire changers. Everyone gets paid somewhat similarly. It's a true laissez-faire system, and the better drivers get paid more."
Perhaps a lot more if Toyota comes in. Toyota is spending $98 million on its Indy Racing League program, and that money, maybe more, is expected to be moved to the NASCAR account soon. Toyota may march to a different drummer.
"If a corporate sponsor is willing to overpay market-value by 30 or 40 percent, they can turn the garage into a have-and-have-not situation, that can't be overcome. "NASCAR will have to keep a very close eye on this, to ensure no one upsets the balance. And the economic conditions in the auto industry, of the four players in the sport right now, only one has this giant surplus of cash that could be used to alter the dynamic of our sport - Toyota, which is in the strongest cash and marketing position in the world. That's a red flag for me, and I'm sure it is for GM, Chrysler and Ford, too. We all try to spend at relative levels and not drive costs up." Excerpts form Winston Salem Journal
04/26/05 Toyota executives may handle all driver contracts at the corporate level, instead of leaving it up to individual team owners. And Toyota has considerable cash in the bank for whatever it might want to do, because the company is the most profitable of the automakers at the moment. Might Toyota come in and spend whatever it takes to get whichever driver it wants? Executives at Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler may have to ante up themselves to keep prized drivers in the fold. Toyota appears to be cranking up things for a 2006 Busch effort, with a Nextel Cup project planned for 2007 - and it may need some drivers. And not just one or two, because NASCAR is expected to insist that Toyota back at least six teams when it steps up. Toyota is spending $98 million on its Indy Racing League program, and that money, maybe more, is expected to be moved to the NASCAR account soon. Winston Salem Journal
Coffee to be banned?UPDATE You can bet Red Bull will not be pleased. Look how much caffeine is in a single can! Red Bull must contravene the doping regulations for all the other stuff it has too! Could be the shortest team ownership in history. 05/18/05 Believe it or not, grand prix drivers may soon face a ban on coffee. Recently, the FIA agreed to adopt World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules for Formula One and other motor sport.
And, according to a press report, 'WADA' is considering banning caffeine after discovering that some athletes may be swallowing caffeine tablets to enhance performance. The WADA laboratory in Australia, in particular, recorded an increase in caffeine use among athletes since a ban was lifted 18 months ago.
WADA director-general David Howman described the increase in caffeine misuse 'troubling'. He told the 'AAP' news agency that the matter will be referred to the 'list committee.' ''They are ... considering what should be on the (banned) list for 2006,'' Howman revealed. GMMF1
Ferrari to offer Schumacher contract extension Ferrari are reportedly willing to offer seven-time champion Michael Schumacher a one-year extension to his current contract, according to a report in TZ magazine. Schumacher is contracted with Ferrari until 2006 but the Italian team are prepared to offer him another 12 months on his 30 million euro a year deal. Schumacher trails Renault's Spanish sensation Fernando Alonso by 34 points in the championship race but Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn believes the German is determined to put things right. "Michael is the only person who will decide when he wants to stop," Brawn told TZ. "He is obsessed at solving problems and getting us back on the winning track."
Iran Grand PrixUPDATE And you thought we were pulling your leg with this rumor did you? Interestingly, the respected NY Times ran this related article. 05/18/05 Iran, neighbor of war torn Iraq, is scrabbling to squeeze onto the ever expanding F1 calendar. The Middle Eastern country has established a Motor Sports Federation, according to a report of the 'Iranian' publication, which met for the very first time last Sunday.
The meeting apparently canvassed 'the foundation of the country's first Formula One motoring piste (racetrack).' Iran's Motor Sports Federation also began planning for 'the construction of national ... motoring teams,' 'Iranian' added.
Elsewhere, there are also reports of a visit of Bahrain grand prix boss Martin Whitaker to Greece, where he seemingly looked for a site to host a future F1 race there. One source, though, discredited the reports by explaining that Whitaker, on Monday - the day of his supposed Greek visit - was giving a speech at the Gulf Retail 2005 conference, at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Bahrain.
Wellington V8 Supercar race won’t happenUPDATE The saga surrounding the future of the V8 Supercars in New Zealand has taken a fresh twist. Last week Wellington ruled itself out of contention, because of difficulties obtaining resource consent. The decision appeared to spell the end of hopes of the series being staged in this country. However Defense Minister Mark Burton has today attended a meeting in Wellington, to discuss the possibility of holding races at Auckland's Whenuapai airbase.
Mr Burton has not been available for comment, but his spokeswoman Debbie Hannan says it was a constructive meeting, and although no decisions have been made, but the minister and his officials now have a lot to think about. While keeping quiet on the details of the proposal, one of its authors, Pete Sinton says he is pleased with today's discussions. Mr Sinton says officials in Wellington will now review the proposal to decide whether to put together a fresh bid. Supercar organizers AVESCO say they know nothing about the Whenuapai proposal. NZ City
05/16/05 Wellington's longest serving councilor is criticizing the city's mayor, after plans to bid for the V8 Supercars race were shelved. Mayor Kerry Prendergast is blaming difficulties in getting resource consent for the decision, but Helene Ritchie says it was irresponsible to even consider the bid, which has cost Wellington ratepayers around $175,000. Ms Ritchie says it was unfair to have raised the expectations of race enthusiasts to the point where they thought the city could host the race. NewstalkZB
Raikkonen and Ferrari F1 young guns Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso have deflected talk they are the likely heirs to world champion Michael Schumacher's Ferrari crown. Both are linked with a future switch to the team in scarlet.
''The most important thing for me,'' Finland's Raikkonen - last start winner in his McLaren - said, ''is to drive for the best team. For the moment I feel very happy with McLaren Mercedes.''
Renault's 23-year-old Alonso, on the other hand - tied to the blue and yellow outfit until the end of 2006 - conceded that his future beyond next year is not certain.
The Spaniard said in Istanbul on Sunday: ''I don't worry about Ferrari, whether Michael Schumacher will retire or if Ferrari want me.'' He added: ''I have confidence to win with Renault.'' GMMF1.net
Did Foyt steal Mayer's sponsor? Scott Mayer ran a rather expensive, yet poorly written ad in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that read more like an obituary than a thank you. He had flunked the rookie test at Indy earlier in the week. He had brought a rather sizeable sponsorship from the ABC Supply Company to the AJ Foyt team in return to run one of Foyt's cars in the 500. On Saturday Foyt announced a multi year deal with ABC backing to run his grandson and also to become a sponsor of the Milwaukee IRL event which had been named after Foyt. Isn't this just a little too cute? Did Foyt set up Mayer to steal his sponsorship? Is there more to this story than is being reported?
Rumors we hear in the industry are that the oval track cartel gives rebates to sponsors through the back door such that in some of its divisions a sponsor gets almost a free ride. While this rumor may have no merit, if true it accomplishes two things - 1) It makes it look like the cars are sponsored and the series is successful to lure in other sponsors, 2) It keeps potential sponsors away from competing series making it hard for them to land a paying sponsor when the competition is giving it away virtually free. Because the oval track cartel has huge amounts of money flowing in from other sources, the rebates are nothing more than a tax write-off until such time as the competition starves and dies off.
Just another conspiracy theory, though one that may have some merit. For example, how else do you justify all those sponsored cars in the Grand-Am Series with near-zero attendance and TV ratings? The economics just don't work unless the sponsorship is dirt cheap.
Ganassi to lose McMurray? Jamie McMurray gets asked every week if he's going to replace Rusty Wallace in the #2 Miller Lite Dodge next year. "Sometimes you get asked questions and just don't know what to say," McMurray said. "Last year, I talked about my contract, but I'm not going to do that this time. I don't want to get any more rumors started. I just want to go on and not worry about it." McMurray, who drives the #42 Havoline Dodge, has one year remaining on his deal with Chip Ganassi Racing. It hasn't stopped speculation that he will take over for the retiring Wallace at Penske Racing South. "I've been reading the stuff about it," McMurray said. "It's better to be in the rumor mill than not be in it. As long as they're talking about you it's a good thing." Dallas Morning News
Penske buying out Wallace, hmm....UPDATE #3 This rumor is now 'fact' with today's announcement. See Hot News page. 04/23/05 Wallace, driving his final full season in Nextel Cup, said Penske has offered to buy out his share of the team, as well as his longtime friend Miller's share. But Wallace said the ongoing fuss with Newman will not play a part in that decision, when he makes it. "Again, I want to stress I haven't made that decision,'' Wallace said. "I've got an offer to do that. I lay awake at nights wondering if that's what I should do.'' ESPN.com/AP04/23/05 It's no secret that teammates #2-Rusty Wallace and #12-Ryan Newman have not been best of friends since their cars collided last fall during a race at Martinsville Speedway. Because Wallace is a co-owner of the team, along with Roger Penske and Don Miller, there was considerable speculation Wallace would make an effort to patch up their differences during the off-season. Instead, the relationship has grown, if anything, colder. At least part of the problem is their differing racing philosophies. The 48-year-old Wallace is an old-style, seat-of-the-pants racer, while 27-year-old Newman is a graduate engineer who likes to depend on technology and information from his engineers to set up his cars. "It's really two separate teams, totally,'' Travis Kvapil, the third member of the Penske team, races the #77 Dodge. "The 77 and 2 share, every tire pressure, every shock, every piece,'' Wallace said. "The 12 car is totally off limits. It's totally a separate team. They're at one end of the shop, and it's unfortunate. I'm resigned to the fact. I'm tired of wearing myself out trying to fix it. I'm just going to do my deal and drive my guts out and give it everything I've got. ... I've beat this 12 thing to death forever, and they've got a whole different train of thought and that's fine.'' ESPN.com/AP04/16/05 Rumor has it that Roger Penske is buying out the 48% share of Penske South that is owned by Rusty Wallace and his long-time business manager Don Miller. Could the rumors be true that the IRL's Sam Hornish Jr. may be moved to NASCAR? Rumors say that Wallace will take the money and start his own team. Might we see Wallace run a Dodge team and Penske South become a Toyota team when Toyota enters Nextel Cup in 2007? It's expected that Toyota will try to steal a couple of existing Nextel Cup teams as well as possibly starting a new team, or bringing one up from the Busch or Truck series. Some people are speculating that when Honda enters NASCAR they will take the Andretti Green IRL team with them. The team relies on significant support from Honda and the rumormongers say they will follow the Japanese money right to NASCAR. Interesting times.....
Mexican to drive 3rd PKV car in MonterreyUPDATE This rumor is now 'fact' based on story on our Hot News page. 05/16/05 Word here in Mexico is that Mexican Jorge Goethers (pictured right) will drive the third PKV car at the Monterrey Grand Prix. Goethers drives in the Desafio Corona, the Mexican stock car series, this year and he had a taste of the NASCAR Busch series at the Mexico City race this year winning the pole. The PKV third drive was originally offered to Michel Jourdain but a deal did not come together. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico
Lack of support may doom Portland race Lack of support may doom Champ Car race Andy Giegerich Business Journal staff writer A lack of support from city and state officials could spell the end of the popular Champ Car Grand Prix in Portland.
Race boosters, who want the city and state to become the event's title sponsor, say Portland Mayor Tom Potter's reluctance to contribute to the cause could help drive the 22-year-old event from Portland before Champ's current three-year contract expires. The issue arises as business leaders seek ways to appease Champ Car, which stands to lose money from the June 19 race. The Champ Car Business Coalition has received only $225,000 toward its goal of collecting $500,000 from the business community. It has another $75,000 in "informal" commitments.
The coalition wants the city and state to cover the remaining $200,000 and become the title sponsor of the June 19 race. Asked whether Potter would approve a request for $100,000 from an obscure economic development fund, Rochelle Lessner, Potter's policy manager, replied, "Given that we're filling more than a $15 million budget hole, and there are a lot of competing demands for scarce resources, the mayor has determined that this isn't going to be a priority for the use of those funds."
The possibility that the city of Portland won't contribute to the Champ cause won't threaten the race's 2005 status, organizers said. But without that commitment, Karen Whitman, president of the Oregon Sports Authority, believes Champ Car may lose patience with the process. Champ Car reportedly has an out clause if the event loses money, and Whitman believes its leaders may be losing patience with the race.
"They are very attractive to other cities, and there are always out clauses," she said. "If they don't see strong evidence of Portland's interest," Champ could explore other options, she said.
Champ Car President Dick Eidswick didn't return phone calls seeking comment. The public-participation concept mirrors an arrangement used in Long Beach, Calif., where public entities contribute money to a race in exchange for promised economic benefits. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski is a bit warmer to the idea than Potter, but is just as noncommittal, said spokeswoman Anna Richter-Taylor. The group said it has several state funding options, including tapping an Oregon tourism fund. More at Portland Business Journal
Haberfeld exploring his options Ex-Champ Car driver Mario Haberfeld from Brazil (now living in the USA) is exploring his options for this year. Reports from Brazil tell us that the IndyCar Series IS NOT a preferred option for him, now or in the future. He simply does not believe in all those dangerous high-speed ovals. He has made contact with some NASCAR teams (he was in Charlotte, NC recently) about a possible ride, and if not there, he is working to run this season in some series just to stay sharp. He, like most others, believe that a Champ Car and Indy Car unification is the only way for Open Wheel Racing to survive in USA given NASCAR's strength and domination.
Yates, others to expand to 3-car teams Robert Yates, is expected to add a third Cup team in 2006, if current Busch sponsor CitiFinancial is willing to make the move. "We'd like to develop a young driver and advance him to Cup," Yates Racing G.M. Eddie D'Hondt says. Three seems to be the magic number for most Cup organizations. Evernham Motorsports and Dale Earnhardt Inc. (#1-Truex Jr.) also are expected to expand to three full-time cars next season. Sporting News
USG to replace Tropicana at ChicagolandUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Chicagoland Speedway has signed Chicago-based building materials manufacturer USG Corp. as title sponsor for the track’s July 8-10 NASCAR weekend, according to Scott Warfield of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Friday’s qualifying session has been named USG Pole Day, Saturday’s Busch series race has been titled the USG Durock 300, and Sunday’s Nextel Cup event is now the USG Sheetrock 400. The Nextel Cup race was formerly sponsored by Tropicana. Terms were not disclosed, but sources peg rights to the entire race weekend “in the mid-seven figures annually.” Chicagoland Speedway VP & GM Matthew Alexander said that the deal is a “multiyear commitment from USG.” Warfield notes Ford, which sponsors Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, “is the only other company to have an entire weekend to itself” 05/15/05 We have it on good word that USG will probably be sponsoring both Busch and Nextel Cup races this year at Chicagoland Speedway. Tropicana has sponsored the events for the last four years. Rick Schenk reporting from Chicago
Montagny to replace Monteiro?UPDATE Though Indian race sensation Narain Karthikeyan's future with Jordan is more or less secure, his teammate Tiago Monteiro might lose his seat to Renault test driver Franck Montagny, according to media reports here. Though happy with his association with Renault, Montagny has made it clear that he would rather prefer to race and speculation is rife that the Frenchman will drive a Jordan Toyota for his home Grand Prix at Magny Cours. And it may happen as soon as the Canadian Grand Prix on June 12, reports say. This would be a huge disappointment for Monteiro who was just showing signs of coming out of the shadow of his better known teammate Karthikeyan who he pipped in the Spanish Grand Prix. DeepikaGlobal05/12/05 Renault test driver Franck Montagny is rumored to be taking over Tiago Monteiro's seat at Jordan Toyota for his home Grand Prix at Magny Cours. Recall in a recent interview at Magny Cours to promote the French GP Bernie Ecclestone said that he would like to see a French driver on the grid this summer now that Olivier Panis, the last French driver in the field to race, is busy in his Toyota testing role. Narain Karthikeyan's seat at Jordan Toyota is said to be locked in for the season, but the rumors say that Montagny could take over Tiago Monteiro's seat in the team as soon as the Canadian Grand Prix.
Patrick getting "The Call"?UPDATE Another reader writes, There is a fair amount of talk around here (Indy) on Danica and the IRL allowing higher revs for her. She will probably get the pole, but the revs likely will be dropped for the race. Great PR move...people will actually watch the race, at least for the start. Name Withheld by Request05/15/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, After Katherine Legge's Toyota Atlantic win in Long Beach garnered Champ Car so much attention I have to believe that Danica Patrick will get "The Call" to win today's pole position in Indy. She could not even win a Toyota Atlantic race, why is she all of a sudden so fast? My theory is that she is either getting a special Honda engine or the IRL Timing and Scoring is putting out "special" times for her in true NASCAR style. This is 100% throttle racing so there is no way she is that much faster, over 1 MPH this morning. This is the IRL's latest hoax to get some media hype for the Indy 500, a race in desperate need of it. Someone should put a stopwatch on her during qualifying to see if her real times jive with what Timing and Scoring is putting out. Jeff Moore, Huntington Beach, CA Dear Jeff, Danica is a good driver, having learned well in Champ Car's Toyota Atlantic Series and from racing in England in Formula Ford. Her team also has a good setup for Indy because her teammate, Buddy Rice, won the pole and the race last year and Honda has the engine to beat. Is she getting "The Call"? We'll never know, but we should not take away from her big moment of glory with unproven conspiracy theories. AJ Foyt to the other 32 drivers - "You just got beat by a girl." Mark C.
Will Molson Coors sell-off racing assets? Molson Coors Brewing Co., the world's No. 5 beer maker, will consider whether to sell assets, including its minority stake in the Montreal Canadians hockey team, during the next year as it focuses on beer operations. Also, the company has completed a preliminary assessment of its troubled Brazilian operations to be presented to its board of directors today, chief executive Leo Kiely said at the company's annual meeting Wednesday in Montreal.
Molson Coors, created by the $3.4 billion merger of Golden-based Adolph Coors Co. and Molson Inc. in February, owns 19.9 percent of the Canadians, one of hockey's more storied franchises. Montreal-based Molson Inc., which bought the Canadians in 1978, sold control of the team to Colorado businessman George Gillett for $220 million in 2001.
Besides the Canadians, Molson Coors' non-beer assets include Molson Sports & Entertainment, which promotes sports events and rock concerts. In November, Molson canceled its 15-year sponsorship of the Vancouver Champ Car World Series auto race. Bloomberg News [Editor's Note: Although there is currently no hint that they will be selling off their Champ Car assets, we would not be surprised to see Kevin Kalkhoven snatch them up as OWRS is getting wise and playing like the France family in NASCAR - own the series as well as many of the key races so you can control your own destiny.]
Richards to return to BAR According to reports in the People, former British American Racing boss Dave Richards will return to the team in an attempt to help put the Brackley based squad back on track. Apparently Richards has been in discussions all week regarding his return and it is expected that the team will confirm his return at next weekend’s Monaco GP.
"This is fantastic news for the team and a sure sign they are sparing no effort to make BAR the most professional team on the grid,” a source close to the team told the People. "With Richards' wealth of experience we can look forward to a calming influence that will get the results we need to keep Button in the team." [Editor's Note: Where does this leave de Ferran?]
Schu and Rossi to Red Bull If you think the Ferrari team’s current slip in form will be the biggest surprise to hit Formula 1 over the next season or two, don’t you believe it, as the latest (June) issue of F1 Racing magazine, can exclusively reveal. How about the possibility that Michael Schumacher will switch teams and see out the final season of his career with Red Bull Racing? Or, just as amazing, the possibility that he’ll have Valentino Rossi – the current MotoGP world champion and possibly the greatest motorcycle racer ever – as a team-mate?
An investigation by the magazine has uncovered the ambitious plans of Red Bull Racing’s success-hungry new owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, the billionaire founder of the Red Bull drinks empire. Not only are RBR already courting Rossi, they will be using Ferrari rather than Cosworth engines for the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
However, that two-year deal marks only the beginning of Mateschitz’s interest in the Maranello team. Ferrari’s owner, Fiat, are a failing motor-industry giant who currently need all the financial help they can get, so there’s a distinct possibility that Mateschitz’s bottomless pockets will be needed to offset the cost of running a very expensive F1 team. Acquisition of a generous share of Ferrari themselves is therefore likely to be the first step in a much bigger game that has Michael Schumacher and the entire Ferrari team as its ultimate prize.
For all the details, read the June issue of F1 Racing, on sale from this week. ITV-F1
Two drivers eyed to replace Dana Rookie driver Paul Dana remained in Methodist Hospital for a second night Saturday with a concussion and fractured T-7 vertebra (mid-back) from a crash Friday. Owner Ron Hemelgarn has yet to name a replacement, with Indy veterans Roberto Moreno and Jimmy Kite among the candidates. Indy Star
Newman/Haas backup plans One rainy day is a headache for Newman/Haas Racing. One more could be a disaster. With drivers Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira required to be in Monterrey, Mexico, for a Champ Car World Series race next weekend, the Newman/Haas contingent needs a clear day and two clean qualifying runs today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway or it will be forced to pull out its emergency plan.
"We have a few ideas of what we would do, but we're putting a lot of effort and time into getting the cars into the race," Tzouanakis said. "If it doesn't happen, then we'll worry about those other options." Based on practice speeds, Bourdais and Junqueira should have little trouble being among the 22 Indy 500 qualifiers today.
Bourdais said the rainout could be a blessing because it gave the team another day to tinker with the cars, and neither he nor Junqueira had a realistic shot at the pole, anyway. "I would be really happy to be in the top 11," Bourdais said, "but the important thing is to qualify." Any emergency plan would require putting other drivers into the cars to qualify them next weekend, but Tzouanakis said nothing like that has been arranged. "Some things have been discussed," he said, "but hopefully we'll get both cars in and we won't have to worry about (it)." Indy Star
Rossi targeting F1 in 2007UPDATE Valentino Rossi’s team boss has denied reports that the MotoGP superstar has a Formula 1 deal lined-up for 2007. Yamaha team director Davide Brivio was quoted in the Italian press as saying that Rossi would only be renewing his contract with the team for one more year because Valentino “will be in F1” in 2007. Brivio now insists that he was misquoted, but still did not rule out the possibility of the four-time MotoGP champion switching from two wheels to four in the near future.
“I was asked about any plan Valentino might have to drive in Formula 1 and I said that would be Valentino’s decision and it might happen,” said Brivio. I certainly did not say that he would be in F1 from 2007. From Yamaha’s side we hope that we will still be riding for us, but I cannot predict Valentino’s future.”
05/13/05 Valentino Rossi (pictured right with Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher the day he tested a Ferrari) has won just about everything on motorcycles that only his rivals can dream of. With six championships already to his credit, the Italian Moto GP sensation has his eye on 4-wheels. Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport Yamaha team boss Davide Brivio stated that Rossi will extend his current contract another season taking him to the end of 2006 and will then try his hand at Formula One. "We have already agreed on a one-year contract and we know that from 2007 he will be in Formula One," Brivio said.
Ancient Artifacts find could delay NY NASCAR site A group of anthropologists have discovered artifacts possibly dating back to 10,000 B.C. at the site of a planned NASCAR track on Staten Island. The International Speedway Corporation was hoping to build an 80,000-seat race track on land in Bloomfield that has been used as an above-ground oil tank farm for more than 70 years. The City Council has yet to vote on the proposal. The president of the New York Institute of Anthropology says the site was once a village and home to Lenape Indian burial grounds. The ISC has reportedly told anthropologists that they are concerned about preserving the site and that they are willing to cooperate. The two groups are expected to meet in the next couple of weeks. NY1News
Lavin closes on Monterrey deal According to a report on ESPN International's RPM Semanal in Mexico Rodolfo Lavín will race (80% chance) in Monterrey for HVM. How can that be when they already have their two drivers, Wirdheim and Bremer, unless they are prepared to field a third car.
BMW quitting F1? BMW have denied rumors that they’re on the verge of pulling out of Formula One. Rumors arose that the German luxury carmaker were considering quitting after yet another disappointing start to the season with Williams.
"If we are always driving at the back, the money is badly invested," German magazine Der Spiegel quoted works council chief Manfred Schoch as saying. The magazine added that BMW spends well over 200 million euros ($257 million) a year on F1.
However, the company’s chief executive, Helmut Panke, has denied the reports, "We are not satisfied with the sixth and seventh places and we are in intensive discussions on how to do better, but Formula One and BMW belong together," he told Reuters.
Australia and New Zealand TV coverage lackingUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false,' at least for Australia. Australia will not miss any of the race coverage, nor post race interviews/wrap on channel Ten. Their program slot is 2-hours for every round and can be extended if the coverage dictates it, i.e.: race delays etc. Champ Car is broadcast in Australia every Monday evening after each round. This is the first available time-slot for them due to time zone differences with the northern hemisphere. Mark C.05/12/05 Champ Car's TV coverage Down Under this year isn't looking so good. New Zealand gets no Champ Car TV coverage we hear and TV Ten in Australia is only showing 30-minute race highlights of the Monterrey race in the wee hours of the morning when everyone is asleep (per this TV schedule). Assuming this isn't a publishing error, this is an excellent way for fans in Australia and New Zealand to forget Champ Car even exists.
Rudd to retire Ricky Rudd knows what he'll do, or at least not do, when he retires. It's just that he doesn't know if this will be his last NASCAR Nextel Cup season. A season besieged by accidents and mechanical woes have pinned him deep into the points standings heading into Saturday night's Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway. That's raised the question of the 48-year-old Chesapeake native's status. When asked about retirement in January, he said that if he doesn't run well this year, "then you probably won't see me the next year." So, is this Rudd's last ride? He says he'll decide sometime this summer if he'll join Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin in making this his final Cup season. Both, who announced their retirements last year, are having solid farewells. Martin is sixth in the points and Wallace 14th but only 42 points behind Martin. When Rudd decides to retire, he says he won't follow the paths other veterans have taken. He doesn't want to do a full-season farewell tour just to sell special souvenir items as many have done. Rudd also says he won't run a partial schedule as Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte are doing. While Martin has hinted at running a full season on the Craftsman Truck series next year, Rudd won't. "I see myself not traveling so much, going off and seeing family that I've neglected for years," said Rudd, who made his Cup debut at age 18 in 1975 at Rockingham. "I've got a lot of catching up to do in my personal life." Although Rudd says that he'll spend a year away from racing once he retires, he admits there's one thing that could draw him back. "Something in the back of my mind that I wanted to do was LeMans," he says of the world famous 24-hour race. "I would drive there. That race has probably lost a lot of prestige over the years in this country, but as a kid growing up and being into go-kart road racing, that was a race I used to dream about." Roanoke Times
Toyota in trouble Missing paperwork could lead to Toyota losing second place in the drivers' and constructors' F1 championships. It is reported in the unpublished June edition of F1 Racing magazine that the Cologne based team did not have a valid national 2005 license - therefore an FIA superlicense - until last Sunday's Barcelona grand prix.
''This has now been resolved with the German authorities,'' team president John Howett confirmed, ''and the revised documents have now been submitted to the FIA.''
He added: ''This was a genuine administrative mistake.'' Although a heavy sanction, if any, is unlikely, the FIA said it is investigating the matter.
Adelaide to win F1 back South Australian premier Mike Rann has enjoyed a cup of tea with F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone. The pair met in London and no doubt discussed the speculated return of the Australian grand prix to Adelaide.
Adelaide hosted F1 for a decade until 1995, when it moved to Victorian capital Melbourne. ''We were very happy in Adelaide, super,'' Ecclestone, 74 - with a Melbourne GP contract until 2010 - told the Australian media. He added: ''If anything happened, if Melbourne sunk into the sea or something, we'd be back to Adelaide for sure.''
Victorian premier Steve Bracks, however, played down the significance of Mike Rann's audience with Ecclestone. ''(Bernie) knows that (Melbourne) has increased the patronage and the viewing audience (of the grand prix) around the world.''
Jourdain to run Mexico racesUPDATE #8 This SPEEDTV article sheds more light on the Jourdain deal and why it has not been announced yet. 05/12/05 We are hearing that there will be a driver announcement coming out sometime today (Thursday). We assume it will be Jourdain running Monterrey for PKV. 05/05/05 Published reports in Mexico say that Michel Jourdain is very close to signing a deal with PKV Racing so he can run at the Monterrey Grand Prix. According to the reports, he has a 90% chance of running at Monterrey in a third car with PKV Racing. Jimmy Vasser was quoted as saying that having a third car in the race would provide PKV great feedback. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico04/28/05 The Monterrey GP website also makes mention that Jourdain may drive a third PKV car for the upcoming Tecate Telmex Monterrey GP. 04/12/05 Sources are saying that Jourdain will likely drive a third car for PKV Racing in Monterrey. Another team that has the capacity to run a third car would be Forsythe Racing. 04/10/05 Hernandez Pons, one of the owners of HVM, gave an interview to El Norte/Reforma group, in the traditional (paper) version of El Norte, stating that HVM is looking for a Mexican driver for the Monterrey race, and if possible, for the rest of the season. When asked how does he feels not to have a Mexican driver in a team using the Mexican colors he said, "Don’t ask me, ask the Mexican companies that are not supporting us. We are working on this issue, so don’t stop supporting us, because we will have news soon and it will be before the Monterrey race." If HVM gets a Mexican for the race there will be 3 Mexican drivers for the race, Mario, Jourdain, and whoever gets the HVM seat for the race. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico04/10/05 We are hearing Jourdain will also run the Mexico City race. 04/10/05 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today as Kevin Kalkhoven said in Long Beach Saturday night that Michel Jourdain will drive in Monterrey, Mexico. Since Adrian Fernandez is not driving this year, someone should get him to dust off one of his old Lolas to race in Champ Car's two Mexico races. He could use the exposure to bolster his fading career in Mexico and Champ Car could use his popularity. 04/09/05 According to Mexican Newspaper El Norte, Will Pappas, Michael Jourdain's manager in the NASCAR Busch series, was in Long Beach yesterday meeting with Kevin Kalkhoven to discuss a deal that would see the Mexican drive in the upcoming Monterrey race.
Villeneuve eyes USA return The May issue of F1 Racing magazine has a small sidebar story entitled "JV readies U.S. escape plan". It stated, "Despite the refusal of Jacques Villeneuve's manager, Craig Pollock, to acknowledge that the Sauber driver's seat is under threat, the latest pit-lane rumor is that Pollock has asked several USA teams about the possibility of JV racing in the U.S..." He has been rumored to possibly want to try NASCAR but our bet is Champ Car. Now that Champ Car is adding more big overseas events such as Beijing, and becoming a mini-F1 series without all the politics and techno gizmos, perhaps JV will no longer think it's below him.
Red Bull and Bridgestone The latest rumor in F1 circles is that Red Bull will be enticed into the Bridgestone camp next year. The fledgling team, presently Michelin clad and Cosworth powered, recently signed a contract with Ferrari for customer V8 engines from 2006.
Ferrari, struggling on the Japanese made tire, is Bridgestone's only top outfit and now not-so-secretly keen to share the development burden. Scarlet principal Jean Todt gave the rumor short thrift in the Circuit de Catalunya paddock.
''There are still fourteen races left to go in this season,'' the Frenchman insisted. 'Let's finish the year and then we'll see.''
Todt also hammered a nail in a dodgy rumor that Grove based Williams may also buy Ferrari engines if dumped by BMW. ''It's not even a question,'' he fired back, ''that could occur.''
Team Manager for Penske ALMS effort After ten years serving the CART-Champ Car paddock representing both Reynard Racing Cars, and Lola Cars International, we hear the time has come for Jeff Swartwout to accept a new challenge. Effective May 23, 2005 we hear he will assume the role as Team Manager for the newly announced Penske Motorsports Inc. Porsche ALMS team.
Doornbos received offer to race at Midland The Midland F1 team has offered Jordan's third driver Robert Doornbos a race contract for next season. The Dutchman currently shows his potential every Friday at the Grand Prix weekends. Next season the Jordan team will be renamed to Midland F1 and Doornbos could become one of their drivers.
Doornbos' manager Marco Zecchi told Dutch newspaper AD: "Midland's offer is not too bad. It's not a superb contract but it isn't bad either to be honest. Robert still has to bring in money though." Before Zecchi will sign the deal he wants to know what Midland F1's plans are for next season. Doornbos agrees with Zecchi: "We first have to hear from Midland what their plans are for next season," Doornbos told F1Racing.net "If they show some positive plans then I would gladly become their racing driver next season."
"At Jordan I don't have to prove myself every week anymore," continued Doornbos. "We now just have to work really hard to get the maximum out of the car. I'd love to do some more miles though than just during the practice sessions on Friday. I hope we will do some testing soon again to cover more miles." [Editor's Note: Where does this leave Mario Dominguez, and current Jordan drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro? Four drivers for two seats. Champ Car will be beckoning two of them.]
Six more F1 teams underweight? BAR believe that six of its nine F1 team rivals also ran a potentially underweight car at Imola. A document released publicly by the banned Brackley squad revealed how team manager Ron Meadows had, in the event that BAR's fuel system was deemed illegal at the circuit, prepared multiple protests.
''We believed,'' Ron wrote in a court submission, ''that (their) fuel systems ... were similar to ours ... and would have ... contained fuel after being weighed.''
He added, however, that no other car's fuel system - although near identical - was also checked by the FIA for illegality. Meadows' protests, though, never saw light of day as stewards deemed the 007 system legal -- until the FIA appealed. GMMF1
NASCAR manufacturer support may take a hit Given the choppy financial outlook for the Big Three automakers, some NASCAR team executives are beginning to wonder whether the cascade of financial and technical support they receive from Detroit will begin to run dry. Does it really make sense for General Motors, which lost $1.1 billion in the first quarter of this year, and Ford and DaimlerChrysler, which saw profits slip 30% or more, to maintain estimated nine-figure NASCAR budgets? "It's a legitimate question that a shareholder would ask," says Jim Andrews, editorial director of the IEG Sponsorship Report. "But there's also a danger in saying, 'The company's doing badly, let's just start dumping stuff.' " Executives representing automakers' racing programs say sales slumps make NASCAR more important than ever. While manufacturers are beginning to find ways to spend money more efficiently in racing, executives rule out wholesale cutbacks that would jeopardize their teams' ability to compete. Andrews notes that GM actually is expanding its sports marketing budget, having signed a deal with Major League Baseball earlier this year. "I doubt very much that these companies are looking at NASCAR racing and saying, 'We should be getting out,' " Andrews says. Andrews believes automakers' support of NASCAR is more "defensive" than anything else; they're racing because their competitors are racing. "If they weren't there, other companies would say, 'Why aren't you there?' "
Automotive industry consultant Peter DeLorenzo, publisher of the autoextremist.com Web site, estimates each manufacturer spends at least $125 million a year on NASCAR and doesn't get its money's worth. While automakers still use racing to train young engineers, it has been decades since advances made in NASCAR — which limits technology to control the cost of racing — applied to passenger cars. Beyond that, drivers' personalities and connections to other corporate sponsors have been marketed so aggressively that DeLorenzo says the kind of car they drive is an afterthought. Most important, DeLorenzo says, being in NASCAR does nothing to help domestic automakers overcome what he calls their biggest challenge: winning over foreign car buyers. NASCAR fans already buy domestic cars and trucks. "Detroit is spending a lot of money to preach to the choir," DeLorenzo says.
Manufacturers' executives tell a different story, one of positive media exposure and fan demographics. "We absolutely believe that it's a great return on our investment, from the standpoint of getting exposure," says Bob Wildberger, senior manager of NASCAR operations for Dodge Motorsports. Mark Kent, director of GM Racing, says GM is in NASCAR for the "long haul." But Kent says they have cut back on travel expenses and are working with Chevy teams to consolidate research and development projects. "Obviously, like anything else in our business, we're looking to do more with less," Kent says. USA Today
F1 working on global mobile phone rights deal Bernie Ecclestone's FOA is currently considering a number of tender offers from companies wishing to secure the mobile telephone rights to Formula 1 racing, which is understood to include the potential to send video clips, timing and so on to mobile telephones and other similar devices. The deal was put out to tender for a two month period and the closing date for bids was March 31. The rights on offer only go as far as 2007 but we believe that the deal is a global one and would allow the rights holder to sub-license the rights in individual countries. This process is obviously one which could be worth many millions of dollars to FOA and it will be interesting to see what happens. The offers are now being considered but there may be further competition if the FOA thinks it can get more. Grandprix.com
Nextel happy with NASCAR sponsorship Indications are that Nextel is happy with their first year sponsorship of the NASCAR Cup series. They signed up 29 million new customers in 2004 and the average new customer spends upwards of $500 per year on cell phone expenses. You do the math.
Not surprisingly, this year's Bill France Award of Excellence went to NASCAR title sponsor Nextel Communications, Inc. The award is presented to a person, corporation or organization that has made outstanding contributions to the growth of NASCAR's flagship division.
NASCAR may lose some of its military sponsorshipUPDATE The Army’s annual $140-million advertising account is up for grabs. One could thus conclude its current ad agency has been put on notice. Question: Are those involved NASCAR team owners beginning to sweat? NSSN04/27/05 Chris Economaki reports in this week's National Speed Sport News - Despite reports that more than 19,000 leads were produced for the National Guard via its NASCAR sponsorship, the Federal General Accounting Office (GAO) is questioning the efficacy of the service’s recruiting programs at auto races. All four branches of the military plus the National Guard and Coast Guard are currently represented in NASCAR. The Army sponsors Joe Nemechek’s Chevy in Nextel Cup and is the “official military service of NASCAR,” an estimated $8 million combination. The National Guard backs Greg Biffle’s Nextel Cup Ford at a cost of $6 million. The Air Force is an associate sponsor ($2.2 million) on Ricky Rudd’s No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford, while the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard have Busch Series programs. The collective cost is $22 million says the GAO, questioning its advisability as volunteers have fallen below Defense Department needs. [Editor's Note: Why does the military put all its eggs in one basket? Each branch should have sponsorship in a different series - Champ Car, the IRL and ALMS perhaps. As it is today, they are all competing for the same customer base.]
Irvine and Minardi Eddie Irvine, we can reveal, will attend a third grand prix on the trot at Monaco next weekend. It, perhaps, gives credence to an odd rumor in the Barcelona paddock -- that the Ulsterman and former Ferrari driver has a keen eye on Minardi.
Although current Faenza owner Paul Stoddart sat out Spain with a nasty 'flu, speculation whispered that 39-year-old Irvine - with a personal fortune outpacing even countryman Eddie Jordan - may buy the back-of-the-grid squad.
Irvine, 39, has - until now - seldom showed a face in the Paddock since retiring in 2002. He said in January: ''The idea of owning a (grand prix) team is interesting, but the way it is at the minute, the sport is not owner-friendly.''
Years ago Irvine said on a number of occasions that he would like to start a Champ Car team, but that was before Tony George created the IRL and brought the entire sport of Indy Car Racing to its knees and near death.
Gordon to star in reality show? Scott Woolley, who owns Five Star Productions in South Florida, recently inked a deal with a new Chicago-based network, Always Free TV, that's on the slate to launch in the fall. It's a home shopping channel, but with a twist -- every purchase is accompanied by a freebie of some shape or size. It's also exploring other types of production. Earlier this year, Woolley set up a subsidiary, Five Star Pictures, in Santa Monica, Calif., to drum up independent film shoots for the new Boca studios. So far, Woolley's formula for success has been to concentrate on making and marketing half-hour magazine-type shows focusing on special interest niches, such as business, the environment and health. The programs are usually sponsored by a corporate client, who buys much of the national commercial slots. Woolley's latest concept is a reality program starring NASCAR headliner Jeff Gordon, who will seek out and shape the next star race car driver. More at the Miami Herald
Busch faces possible fine from NASCARUPDATE No fine for Busch...this time. #97-Kurt Busch crashed on the first lap of Saturday's race at Darlington Raceway, forcing him to retreat to the garage area for repairs. He eventually re-entered the race but later ignored officials' instructions during a caution period on where he should line up for a restart. Busch was ordered to pit road to serve a penalty. Busch responded with offensive language over his in-car radio communications system, revved his engine when officials ordered him to shut his car off and threw a water bottle that hit an official standing in his pit area. Roush Racing President Geoff Smith says Busch was frustrated by the crash, which left him nursing a damaged, uncompetitive car around a narrow, difficult track for the rest of the night to gain championship points. Busch has been involved in a total of seven on-track incidents this season, tied for third-most in the series this year, according to USA TODAY database research. Smith says Busch lost his temper after officials assessed a penalty Smith called "questionable. So he fought it — and lost, of course," Smith says. Smith doesn't expect Busch to receive further penalties from NASCAR this week. "I think he is definitely aware of where he stands today," NASCAR vice president of communications Jim Hunter said in an e-mail. "Without going into any further detail, he certainly knows NASCAR is not going to tolerate any future temper tantrums. President Mike Helton made our position very clear." Says Smith: "He's now on notice. So if there's anything else, there's going to be a penalty associated with it." USA Today05/08/05 Kurt Busch hit the [inside] wall on the first lap at Darlington Raceway. Then he hit an official with a water bottle, bad-mouthed NASCAR over his radio and ended up in a closed-door meeting with series officials. "His actions were certainly not befitting of a champion,'' NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said after the Dodge Charger 500. "He said things that are not fit for print.'' Busch knew it was going to be a bad night seconds after the race began. He had started 11th, but didn't even get a full lap in before he spun out coming out of the fourth turn and hit the inside retaining wall. He took the #97 Ford into the garage so his crew could make enough repairs for Busch to continue racing. Later in the race, NASCAR said Busch moved into the wrong position on the track under caution. Officials ordered him to stop and get in line where he was supposed to be, but Busch refused. He was sent into the pits for a two-lap penalty, and NASCAR officials took offense to the language he used over the radio. They ordered him to turn his engine off, and he responded my revving it. He also tossed a water bottle out of his window that hit the official in his pit. Busch was then summoned to meet with NASCAR after the race. Although series officials looked less than pleased with the champion, Busch emerged from their hauler with a huge grin on his face, but nothing to say. ESPN.com/AP
BMW rumour on the grow Williams co-owner Patrick Head refused to answer speculation that engine partner BMW may buy into team rival Sauber. It is suggested that Frank Williams, principal at Grove, has already commenced dialogue with Cosworth to safeguard the team's F1 future.
''Whatever happens,'' Head told The Guardian newspaper, ''I am sure we will have competitive engines next year.''
On a happier note, BMW-powered racer Nick Heidfeld turned twenty eight on May 10. On this day in 1967, though, leading Italian driver Lorenzo Bandini succumbed to burns after crashing three days earlier at the Monaco grand prix. The 1959 Monaco grand prix was held on May 10, with Australia's Jack Brabham atop the podium, while Jochen Rindt - of Austria - won on the street circuit on May 10, 1970.
NASCAR to slam Waltrip and Green An ongoing on-track feud between Michael Waltrip and Jeff Green that started at Martinsville Speedway last month continued Saturday night at Darlington Raceway, prompting NASCAR to summon both veterans to the hauler for a post-race discussion.
Eight laps into the Dodge Charger 500, the Owensboro, Ky., natives were racing one another down the backstretch and got together, sending Waltrip into the Turn 3 wall.
"I just got up on the outside of him and he decided he needed to turn right, and I had a foot on him and tried to get on the brakes and he turned himself into the fence," Green said.
Waltrip went to the garage for repairs to the front end of the No. 15 Chevrolet and returned to the track seeking payback. On Lap 207, he exercised it, bumping Green exiting Turn 4, then hitting him twice more before spinning him out on the front stretch.
"It's pretty obvious," Green said. "He tries to wreck me all the way down the back straightaway and I'm fast enough not to let him. Then finally he gets a run on me there and wrecks me, and I guess (NASCAR) didn't do anything to him. If I did anything to him it wasn't intentional. I've got to race these guys every week. I don't want to race like that."
Waltrip disagreed. Waltrip and Green also had a run-in at Martinsville, when Green got into Waltrip, wrecking him.
NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said he's uncertain whether any penalties await the drivers. "Everybody that was in the hauler tonight left with a clear understanding of how we stand and where we stand," Hunter said. "Whether or not any penalties will be forthcoming, I honestly don't know at this point. I would say possibly. "Mike Helton made it pretty clear that these kinds of deals are over and won't be tolerated." NASCAR.com
F1 V8's to twist above 20K RPM With Honda having run its V8 at Mugello recently, the race is on for other new engines appear and we hear that the first Mercedes-Benz V8 will be running in the back of a car in the week before Monaco, when the team does its pre-Grand Prix shakedown test at Elvington Aerodrome, near York.
It is expected that some of the current V10s may get up to 1000 horsepower by the end of the current season. A basic calculation means that cutting off two cylinders of a 3-litre V10 will produce the foundation for a 2.4-litre V8. This means that it is fairly easy to calculate the horsepower per cylinder and say that the new V8s ought to be beginning development at around 800 horsepower.
However, the engine designers are very confident that the reduction in the length of the crankshaft will reduce torsional twisting problems which have to date limited the revs and so the V8s will rev higher and thus produce more power, which means that the 2006 season could see the new engines starting off producing in the region of 830 or more at over 20,000rpm. Grandprix.com [Editor's Note: It looks like all the new F1 V8's next year will turn over 20,000 RPM due to the shorter crank, hence HP won't drop as much as planned - the fallacy of switching to a V8 instead of just downsizing and staying with a V10.]
F1 for Wheldon? Dan Wheldon is doing very well at the moment in the Indy Racing League but the young British driver is still keen on breaking into Formula 1 and at the weekend Wheldon's manager Julian Jakoby was busy chatting to teams in Barcelona to see what jobs might be available. Wheldon is a big favorite with Honda in the United States and with the Japanese firm rumored to be stopping its IRL program, it could be that Wheldon may try to get into F1. BAR will almost certainly have a vacancy as Jenson Button will leave to join Williams and the team needs a replacement. Several other drivers are already talking to the team about deals. Grandprix.com
Engine change could delay Toyota’s entry into NASCARUPDATE We are bumping this rumor up to 'strong' today based on comments from Toyota documented in this rumor. 05/03/05 With the rumor recently that NASCAR may delay its Car of The Future until 2007 and its common engine until 2008, comes speculation that Toyota will delay its entry into Nextel Cup until 2008. Why build all those new engines for teams in 2007, the year Toyota was expected to enter Nextel Cup, when in 2008 they will be trash?
FIA considers further penalties for BAR language The FIA has threatened to throw Jenson Button and his BAR Honda team out of the rest of the season as a reprimand for painting the sport in a bad light. Honda was one of five carmakers that have called into question the independence of the court of appeal that sentenced BAR to a two-race ban. But the FIA, in a press release today, gave warning that it could invoke a full six-month ban, which had been suspended for a year, after hearing comments made by the team in the aftermath of the court decision last week that found BAR Honda guilty of concealing a hidden fuel tank. [Editor's Note: The hidden fuel tank as depicted in the diagram above right is a clear attempt to cheat the rules and BAR Honda deserves to be banned for the entire season if they keep mouthing off about their innocence and lobbying other manufacturers to ban together against the FIA. It's amazing what cheaters will do to try and save face and there really is no other way to characterize what BAR Honda did but to call them cheats.]
The FIA statement came only hours after the car makers BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Honda, Renault and Toyota announced they were establishing a new group, the Engine Manufacturers' Association, to represent their interests and called for "new governing principles" from any future administration.
The FIA has noted the statement issued today in the name of BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Honda, Renault and Toyota. Its reference to “events of the past week” is understood to concern penalties imposed on BAR Honda for a particularly reprehensible breach of the rules.
The FIA will continue rigorously to enforce the rules of Formula One. It will also continue to allow competitors access to a Court of Appeal whose standing and independence has repeatedly been recognized by the civil courts, most recently (March 2005) by the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris.
No manufacturer, however large, will be allowed a concealed or unfair advantage. Those unable or unwilling to accept this have no place in Formula One. They should also understand that any sport is likely to impose further sanctions on a competitor which attacks the integrity of the governing body when caught breaking the rules.
Statements attributed to the management of BAR Honda are currently under investigation in the light of the team’s obligation to do nothing “prejudicial to the image and dignity of Formula One racing” or “prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally”.
The manufacturers concerned came into Formula One for their own reasons. They were not invited - they invited themselves. Each of them accepted the rules and structures of the sport as they had done on many previous occasions. FIA
Biffle to stay at Roush? Greg Biffle says he has been too busy to solidify his plans for next season, but he was expected to meet with his agent last week and still intends to stay in the #16 car at Roush Racing. "We're not any closer because we haven't had a chance to talk," Biffle says. "They're going to take care of me because that is where I want to be. It would be crazy for me to want to go somewhere else because I might lose the next whole season getting geared up with a new team." Biffle is the only driver in the top 10 whose contract expires at the end of 2005 without an option, which is another reason--besides a stellar 2005 performance, including his victory Saturday night at Darlington--he is in high demand. Sporting News
No more buying tires?UPDATE Goodyear officials confirmed that NASCAR has proposed a "lease" situation under which teams would not buy tires, per se, but would instead lease them from Goodyear. The idea is to limit the number of tires available to teams for testing, and thus to reduce testing, period. Teams still would pay the going price for a set of tires, about $1600, but all tires, used and unused, would be returned to Goodyear after each race. A similar rule is in place in IRL/IndyCar, for similar reasons. Teams often hoard unused tires for future track tests, with testing being a major expense. Speed Channel05/06/05 A NASCAR spokesman confirmed Thursday that the sanctioning body could require teams to lease tires instead of buy them during race weekends, with the long-term purpose of limiting testing. NASCAR representatives have been in contact with Indy Racing League officials about a similar policy it uses in the IndyCar Series, spokesman Jim Hunter said. Under current IRL rules, teams are supplied with between seven and nine sets of tires for an event, depending on its distance, and a maximum of 35 sets for Indianapolis 500 activities during May. At the end of each event, teams must return all of those tires. For each of four open tests and three engine test dates allowed under IRL rules, teams can lease tires from Firestone. Again, all tires must be returned at the end of the tests. If NASCAR teams weren't allowed to buy tires from Goodyear specifically for testing and couldn't keep the ones they bought during race weekends, either, that would be one way to restrict testing to limits set by the sanctioning body. Hunter said NASCAR is still only considering such a move and added it would not be something it would adopt in the middle of a season. ThatsRacin.com
Long Beach to be Champ Car race Our sources at the Grand Prix tell use Dover Motorsports has not yet decided who will get the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, but if their website can be believed, it will be Champ Car. We suspect the Champ Car logo indicating it will be a Champ Car race was just a webmaster error.
Jordan in football link Former flamboyant grand prix principal Eddie Jordan is linked with a $190m takeover of football team Manchester City. Speculation, although denied by a City spokesman, says the Irishman and Bryan Richardson are heading a consortium's proposal. ''We have received no contact from ... Jordan,'' the spokesman said.
In fact, he revealed, Jordan may already be a 'shareholder' of the Manchester United football team. Meanwhile, fellow Irishman and ex-Jordan driver Eddie Irvine popped up again - his second appearance in two races - in the Barcelona F1 paddock. ''I'm into a wide range of projects,'' the Ulsterman, who also raced for Ferrari and Jaguar until 2002, told f1.com, ''including real estate.''
Button to switch with Heidfeld? Germany's Bild newspaper has floated the possibility that Jenson Button will not return to the grid in 2005 -- at least with currently-banned BAR. The tabloid said a 'switch' with Williams' Nick Heidfeld might be a real option.
Jordan-Dallara on the rocks Italian race car builder Dallara is still part of the Midland (Jordan) F1 project, sporting director Trevor Carlin has insisted. A rumor bubbled up at Imola a fortnight ago that the pair had fallen out. Carlin put the chitchat down to a 'mischievous Italian journalist.' ''It's all totally untrue,'' he told Autosport magazine, adding that the 'b' Jordan EJ15 - to debut in July - was produced with Dallara's input. And the 2006 car, to be called a 'Midland', will be Dallara's all-inclusive effort, although Jordan will help out after EJ15's GP launch.
Button on road back to Grove? The 'BAR saga' has made Jenson Button's return to Williams more likely. Grove technical director Sam Michael didn't quite go that far, but he did admit to having an eye on the Englishman's contract 'option' to remain at BAR in 2006. Button, 25, must race another year at Brackley if he is within 75 per cent of the title leader's points tally in August.
If not, he's Frank Williams' boy. Sam, whose employer gave JB his F1 debut in 2000, told Reuters: ''It's still mathematically possible (for Button to fulfill the requirement). ''It's not something I'm really ready to discuss,'' he added.
Trouble at the top? They're top of the pile, but Spain's provisional front row - Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso - might be nursing car problems. Trulli said his Toyota developed a 'problem with the engine' in pre-qualifying practice, while Alonso - in the race winning Renault - also grappled with a 'little problem.' "'It's not anything special,'' the Spaniard downplayed, ''and we've sorted it out now. Everything is fine.''
Also concerned is Kimi Raikkonen, who might have snared top spot if not for a mistake in Saturday qualifying. Last time out, at Imola, the Finn's McLaren broke down - a CV joint failure - whilst leading.
''We do need to improve in that area,'' said the 25-year-old when asked about reliability. At least we seem to have the speed now.''
Schrader to retire after '06 Ken Schrader said he wants to race one more season after 2005 in the #49 Schwan’s Home Service Dodge before moving to the Craftsman Truck Series full-time in 2007. The Morning News
McGehee is unlikely to race at Indy Indianapolis is again on Robby McGehee's itinerary this month, first for a fund-raiser and later a fashion show in conjunction with the Indianapolis 500. As for the race, the St. Louis native who has made five Indy starts is not likely to be in the mix. McGehee has not raced competitively since finishing 22nd at the Brickyard in 2004, and he doesn't have anything in the works to make a run when qualifying begins May 14. "I've put myself in the position of being semi-retired," he said. "The last couple of years just driving in the Indy 500 hasn't been what I'd consider a smart thing in terms of longevity of my life. Driving once a year is like asking a major league pitcher not to do it all year and then show up at the World Series." STLToday
Sauber engine decision in JuneUPDATE #3 BMW expect to finalize by the end of June a deal to supply Sauber with Formula One engines next year, BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen said on Saturday. Talks between the German carmaker, who currently work solely with British-based Williams, and the Swiss team started earlier this year and Theissen said they were constructive and well advanced.
"It's not just about money, it's much more about how to co-operate and how to make it work," Theissen told reporters at the Spanish Grand Prix. It's not that easy. Some problems have to be solved to make our engine work in their car next year and that's why its not completed yet. We are making progress, I don't see us under time pressure and I expect an agreement before the end of June probably," added Theissen. I think there is quite a high probability that we end up with a deal." Reuters
04/04/05 (GMMf1NET) As reported earlier, the probability that BMW will supply a second F1 team in 2006 is more than '50 per cent.' Dr. Mario Theissen agreed that Sauber is top of the pile, but also - in an interview with 'Speed TV' - admitted contact with Red Bull. ''The decision should be made by the end of June,'' said the Munich carmaker's racing director. Germany's Theissen ruled out a free supply, but also said BMW probably would not make money through a customer deal, rumored to cost around 10m euro. And, if signed, Sauber or Red Bull would enjoy the same-spec V8 as works team Williams, Dr. Mario suggested. 04/03/05 BMW motorsport boss Mario Theissen says that Sauber and Red Bull are in play for BMW engine supply in 2006. “One of the teams we are talking to is Sauber,” said Theissen. “And today I would say the probability of supplying a second team next year is higher than 50 percent. No decision has been made so far. The decision should be made by the end of June. Basically in the course of the year we are asked by everybody, and we’ve certainly spoken to Red Bull as well.
“It won’t be money, probably. If you take this seriously you won’t earn money by supplying a second team. It is at least as costly as you are paid for it if you take it. It is about how the operations will fit each other, how the way of thinking of operating the team and running the engine fits. And if you are confident to have the right partner.
“An F1 engine is a very complex thing. You can easily make it blow up with wrong boundary conditions. It’s not just about the stability of the engine itself, but very much about the integration into the car and the operation during the weekend, so you really have to be confident to have a partner who can do the job. I would favor to do the same spec. I wouldn’t favor doing two different engine programs at the same time. Basically all I can say is that we wouldn’t do two different engines.”
03/23/05 The Red Bull Company's F1 advisor to Red Bull Racing Helmut Marko has said that finding an engine supplier for 2006 and beyond is a key priority for the team. Speaking on Austrian TV's "Sport on Sunday" programme following the Malaysian Grand Prix, former F1 driver and F1 advisor to Red Bull, Helmut Marko, said that finding an engine partner to power the team in 2006 and beyond was a key priority. A decision is expected by the end of April so that the new engine can be an integral part of the design on the 2006 RB2 race car.
BAR to break test pact BAR, banned for cheating, may opt out of the nine-team 'gentlemen's agreement' on testing. Team 'CEO' Nick Fry said the Brackley outfit will be disadvantaged by missing out on two grands prix of track action.
''Clearly we will have that debate,'' Fry, when asked how other teams might react if BAR-Honda went pedal-to-the-metal on the test track, revealed. He added: ''But we will be (not) be doing that by (making) some independent decision.''
Fry also indicated that the court of appeal's punitive verdict is already having repercussions along pitlane, such as some teams 'thinking twice' about their own cars' legality. ''I know,'' he continued, ''there are a lot of thought provoking discussions going on.'' GMMf1NET
IRL engine costs to skyrocket The word in Indy is that engine costs for the month of May will go up substantially and Honda and Toyota will have to build more engines for free (yes free because they are freebies to some teams). With bumping now far more possible, no one will be immune. Each car is allowed 12 attempts to qualify. Yes, you read that right, 12. That means we are going to see a lot of drivers putting in a lot of laps during the four days of qualifying trying to string together that perfect 4 laps during happy hour. If you think you are in the field with one car, you will be out there pounding out laps in your backup car in practice and then in qualifying because no one may be immune to bumping, not even the polesitter. With the drivers putting in so many more laps that increases the chance they will lose control and pulverize one of their cars against the unforgiving walls, resulting in higher costs to the teams as well.
"Before, if you qualified eighth or ninth on the first day, that was a pretty solid run," said Mike Hull, Ganassi's managing director. "You'd say 'This is gravy' and watch to see where everyone ended the day. Now, what do you do? Are you going to withdraw your time and go again? I think you are."
"What it needs is 60 or 70 cars, that's what always made Indy what it was," said Tony Stewart. "If the changes make it exciting for the fans, then it's a good thing. If it's just another gimmick, I'm not sure it will help. But at least they're willing to try."
"It will be interesting to see," said Ganassi, who qualified five times for the race as a driver. "I think the new format has the ability to use up a lot of engines."
"Now, if you're in the eight, nine, 10 or 11 spot, you have to hope you don't get bumped," Manning said. "But you're still going to have to keep going out and be ready to requalify. It's going to be exciting."
Panoz, Dallara and of course Firestone have their cash registers ready, Ca-Ching. Ca-Ching. Ca-Ching. 12 attempts. Imagine that! Quotes from AP article.
Ban to cost BAR $19 million Bar's Nick Fry said "The advice we are getting from the lawyers is we cannot do anything in time and we have taken the decision that to prolong this battle will be counter productive to everyone. This is going to cost a huge amount of money. "I haven't calculated what it is at the moment. In terms of our obligations I can confidently say this is going to add up to £10 million (almost $19 million) at least," (in lost sponsorship, legal fees, fuel tank redesign, etc.).
Expert predicts the end of GM and Ford Automotive icons General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. fell into junk-bond status Thursday for the first time in either company's history, as the nation's leading credit-rating agency said the combination of plunging SUV sales and rising health care costs made it nervous about the automakers' futures.
Though widely expected, the decision by Standard & Poor's Corp. to downgrade both automakers is a historic marker on Detroit's bumpy road. In the short term, it could make borrowing more difficult and more costly for GM and Ford at the same time they are losing market share at home to Asian automakers, seeing sales of their most-profitable vehicles soften, and trying to deal with some of the largest retiree and health care debts in the country.
Beyond the obvious financial impact on GM and Ford, the downgrade has some psychological impact on them and the entire Detroit auto industry, said auto and financial experts. "This downgrade is just a confirmation that these are two very poor companies. This is the beginning of the end of the U.S. auto industry as most people have come to know it," said Sean Egan, managing director of Egan-Jones Rating Co., an independent credit-rating agency outside Philadelphia. It's really a tragedy is what it is. GM and Ford's managers have for too long avoided butting heads with the union and making tough decisions. The center of the auto industry has begun moving away from Detroit." Detroit Free Press
George wants 60 percent in merger Kevin Kalkhoven was on 1260 AM radio in Indianapolis Thursday evening, and he didn't sound very hopeful that there will be a merger of the Champ Car and the IRL in the near future. The sports radio announcer speculated that Tony George wants 60 percent and Champ Car to have 40 percent, but Kalkhoven said 50-50 is the best business solution.
Changes coming for Atlantic SeriesUPDATE #2 We are hearing that Toyota is out and Ford is in. Look for a new 4-cylinder more powerful engine to replace the old Toyota engine in the Toyota Atlantic series starting next year. The new Ford Atlantic Series (or whatever they decide to call it) may stick with the current chassis for now to keep costs down. Word is that Vicki O'Connor will oversee the new Ford Atlantic Series.
Champ Car is also looking to formally re-establish a lower rung on the ladder, be that a return of and official sanctioning of the Formula BMW Series, or another formula. Currently Formula BMW has a deal with IMSA, though it's not clear whether that is for more than one year.
11/18/04 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I just read your rumor on the Atlantic Series changes. I think it would make sense, if the series would be based on a F3 platform, to open up the competition for all current F3 chassis manufacturers. Keep a spec engine. If a F3 team from Europe wanted to compete in the Atlantic Series they could come over, just change the engine and run their equipment. Would make sense to me. That, of course, depends on what is meant by: on a Lola F3 platform. Is it just the tub and the rest all new body parts? Robert Kleine, Germany. Dear Robert, We have long maintained that the Atlantic series be based on the F3 or F3000 platform for the very reasons you point out. It makes zero sense for the Atlantic series to be unique and exclusive. It discourages participation instead of encouraging it. The next-gen Atlantic car should be 100% F3. We would probably call it American F3 vs. British F3, German F3, etc. As for the engine, it should be equal to all the others in terms of HP. All this doesn't prevent Champ Car from awarding the entire contract to Lola and Cosworth. Mark C.11/18/04 Rumor has it that Toyota is definitely out of Toyota Atlantic Series after 2005 and the new series owners, OWRS, are keen to make major changes. Look for a new engine from Cosworth making around 300 HP and a new chassis based on the Lola F3 platform. The goal is for the cost per year to run one car to be at $500,000. What car manufacturer will badge the engine remains to be seen, but OWRS is determined to make this series far better than it is today so as many new drivers as possible can have a chance to show their talents. Mark C.
FIA to 'strip' F1 racer If BAR's F1 ban isn't enough inspiration, the governing FIA may thoroughly inspect a point-scoring car at all grands prix. Max Mosley said he hoped the Brackley based team's punishment is a deterrent to any other potential race cheats. ''The message this sends,'' the governing body's president added, ''is that we insist everybody races to the same rules.''
To enforce the point, he said one car in the top eight places could be 'taken to bits' - to ensure its legality - after each F1 event. ''Maybe we should (do that),'' Max wondered.
One possible downside to the plan, though, is the amount of time - six hours at Imola - it would take before the official race result is declared. GMMF1
Button must give trophy to Wurz The governing body FIA stripped Jenson Button of his podium at Imola and suspended BAR for the next two races for a breach of the regulations. That handed Alex Wurz only the second top three finish of his career, the other coming with Benetton at the 1997 British Grand Prix. The Austrian test driver was only a stand-in at Imola for Montoya, who is returning from injury in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix. Rumor has it that the FIA will demand that Jenson Button give his third place San Marino GP trophy to Wurz. All other drivers behind Wurz also moved up one spot in the standings in Imola.
Is NASCAR eyeing Road America?UPDATE A reader adds, Road America has been in discussions with NASCAR about holding some type of event, on and off for quite a few years. The dilemma has always been about how to modify this magnificent course to accommodate these bathtubs on wheels. I was able to see some preliminary planning drawings at Road America several years ago that showed some proposed track modifications where the track would make a left turn halfway down the long straightaway that drops down into the hard braking zone for Turn 5. The new cut-off would have rejoined the track somewhere around turn 7, make the cars turn right (heading toward current Turn 6 against current traffic pattern) and down the hill from the Corvette Bridge to Turn 5 but at an angle toward the infield to rejoin the circuit just before Turn 14 (the last corner before the long uphill front straight).
This would have kept the stockers out of the Carousel and Canada Corner as well. The dilemma, as shown in the accident on Tuesday, is: What to do with a horde of NASCAR cars trying to race on the current track configuration. Highly skilled road racers in Open Wheel and Sports Cars already have a hairy time getting through Turn 5 in the heat of racing, who knows what would happen with the Bumper Cars trying to crowd through, going from Top Speed to Nothing, plus downshifting AND turning left? I'm sure that quite a bit of brightly painted bodywork would wind up in more than one spectator's lap - but hey, they love the carnage, don't they? Name Withheld by Request
05/05/05 Was this a test to see how well the Nextel Cup cars will race at Road America? NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Kurt Busch crashed into an ambulance at Road America during a mid-Tuesday morning track test session. Busch drove through a tire barrier and hit an ambulance. Although two ambulance personnel were taken to the hospital for minor injuries, Busch was not hurt in the accident. According to Busch, a loose brake fitting caused break failure as he went into the downhill turn five. The incident is under review by the Road America Safety Team. Jayski
F1 field to shrink There are currently 20 cars on the grid for each F1 race, but that number will drop to 18 if BAR is banned the rest of the season. The sport's commercial director Bernie Ecclestone said on Wednesday. "We'd have to run as it is. You can't suddenly make people run more cars," he told reporters at a lunch to promote this year's French Grand Prix. "If they didn't enter the championship it would be a different story."
Carpentier ready to quit Team CheeverUPDATE #3 We are downgrading this rumor to 'speculation.' Carpentier is trying to mend fences with the owner of his Indy Racing League team after the pair squabbled over the performance of their Red Bull Racing Toyota at Motegi, Japan, this past weekend. Carpentier claimed during the weekend that team owner Eddie Cheever was not allocating enough funds to make the team more competitive on the IRL circuit. A frustrated Carpentier even told Le Journal de Montreal on Monday that he considered quitting the team after this month's Indianapolis 500. But yesterday Carpentier told The Toronto Sun he had a long talk with Cheever about the problems he was experiencing and was promised that a solution would be found. "Eddie said he has called a meeting for the team this week at which time I will tell them what I think is wrong," Carpentier said. "Eddie told me that he too is frustrated at running in the back of the grid." Toronto Sun05/03/05 AutoRacing1.com sources tell us Team Cheever will probably lose their Red Bull sponsorship after this year and the future for the team looks sketchy. We believe Tony George will take from the family coffers and support Cheever rather than let him fold because Eddie backed Tony and the IRL through thick and thin. Some sources say Red Bull will move to another IRL team, while others think they're Champ Car bound in '06. 05/02/05 Upon hearing this report Gerald Forsythe was asked today whether he would take Carpentier back after he left for the rival IRL series. His response was, "It's too late for this year, but maybe something can be worked out for 2006." Mark C.05/02/05 According to this Journal de Montreal article, former Champ Car driver Patrick Carpentier is not happy in the IRL and with Team Cheever. Carpentier says he is fed up with Team Cheever, who has blamed him for his poor performance and even went as far as writing him a letter stating so, and is ready to bolt after the Indy 500. He says Cheever is under pressure to perform because his Red Bull sponsorship is coveted by other teams and they may lose it after 2005. Montréal base Mechacrome pays Carpentier's salary and the team has a small budget that puts pressure on everyone. With the Indy 500 approaching the team is under even more pressure. Carpentier is another in a long list of ex-Champ Car drivers who have ruined their career jumping ship.
BAR face F1 banUPDATE #4 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today as BAR is facing a possible ban. In court this morning that is what the FIA is seeking. See Hot News page for more. 05/02/05 The charges against BAR are no accident, for it has emerged that stewards who spent five hours examining Button’s car after his third-place finish in the San Marino Grand Prix the weekend before last had been tipped off about what to look for by two former BAR engineers who had left for another team.
The FIA refused to comment before the hearing, but it is understood that the stewards had precise instructions on the fuel system that is believed to have been deemed illegal by the organization’s senior technical staff. So certain were they that it was against the rules that they have effectively overruled their stewards to appeal against the post-race decision to clear BAR of wrongdoing.
A copy of the FIA dossier is with BAR to give the team time to prepare a defense that could be crucial to their existence. BAR are understood to have hired one of Britain’s leading barristers because a ban, even for one or two races, would be a serious blow to the team and their sponsors, who will not want to be associated with accusations of cheating. Times Online
04/27/05 Rumors in Europe are now saying that BAR may have been running a hidden fuel tank for over a year and it was just now discovered. If true, this would explain BAR's sudden increase in performance last year. Also if true, and BAR is found guilty, it will bring much shame to Honda in Japan and put further pressure on a sometimes strained relationship between BAR and Honda just when Honda bought out BAT's shares. Look at what happened to Toyota in Rallying and why they were banned for five years. Would the FIA take such drastic action against BAR Honda. Probably not but we bet arch-rival Toyota would get a chuckle out of it if they did. 04/27/05 This team is owned by two blue-chip international corporations with huge integrity," Reuters report BAR Honda CEO Nick Fry as saying. "Does anyone really think that we would deliberately do anything against the rules? We've hidden nothing."
"Given the political situation in the sport we are concerned about everything," Fry continued. "We are hanging on to the basic belief that right will prevail at the end. At no time was the car light and I don't think that we've done anything wrong.”
04/26/05 BAR-Honda are 'surprised' the FIA want to further investigate their allegedly underweight car. Imola stewards opted to take no action on Sunday, despite finding that - all fuel drained - Jenson Button's 007 weighed less than the minimum 600kg.
While Button holidays in Florence, 'insider' speculation says the car masks a second, secret, fuel tank, for the purpose of adding illegal ballast - specifically for scrutineering - at the final pitstop. Article 6.1.1 of the regulations states that the tank 'must be a single ... bladder.'
BAR noted that the stewards are 'FIA-appointed.' ''(We are) confident (we) can prove once again that the car was fully compliant ... throughout the San Marino grand prix,'' said CEO Nick Fry.
Brackley-based BAR face a loss of points, and - if found to have knowingly cheated - championship exclusion or multiple race bans. ''Our car seemed to attract much more attention (in parc ferme)'' a cynical team 'insider' told The Guardian newspaper.
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