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Carmakers may delete CD players The dash-mounted CD player could quickly go the way of 8-tracks and quadraphonic sound, a vice president from Siemens VDO said Thursday at the Ward's Auto Interiors Show in Detroit.
And it will be a welcome demise, he said, because it will free up valuable real estate on the dash for all the other cool gizmos drivers lug around these days, like the cell phone, personal digital assistant and music player.
Never-ending advances in digital music devices, the take-them-everywhere cell phones and finicky customers who expect to customize their vehicles with portable devices, will push CD players out of most vehicles as early as 2012, said Frank Homann, vice president of Siemens VDO's Interior Electronics Solutions group.
Many manufacturers already are putting new sound technologies in vehicles.
Glock joins Sutil as possible Ralf replacementUPDATE (GMM) BMW-Sauber test driver and GP2 series leader Timo Glock on Friday issued a hammer-blow to rumors that he might move to Toyota as a replacement for the Japanese team's beleaguered Ralf Schumacher some time soon.
In Montreal as a television commentator, he told the German broadcaster 'Premiere': "I feel very comfortable at the moment at BMW and I am also concentrating on my job in the GP2 (series).
"I was astonished when I read about the rumors on the internet. Where they came from, I have no idea."
06/08/07 (GMM) The speculation surrounding Ralf Schumacher's future continues to hum in the Montreal paddock.
Spyker's Adrian Sutil was already linked with the seat, and now a third German - BMW-Sauber test driver Timo Glock - is apparently clamoring for the ride, it emerged on Friday.
24-year-old Glock impressed in GP2 last year, after racing a few times for Jordan in 2004. He is leading F1's support series this year for iSport.
"With half a good season last year, I created this opportunity (at BMW), so who knows what I can do with a whole season," he said recently.
According to the rumors, either Glock or Sutil could join Toyota even within the next few races, depending on Ralf's performance in North America, although their respective contracts - and also Schumacher's - could be obstacles.
Sutil commented on Thursday: "Of course I don't mind these types of rumors, but it does not mean that they are true.
"I have noticed that there is some more interest in my performances now, but it is too early to say that there are any negotiations," he added.
'09 or '10 for Indian GP (GMM) India will definitely host a formula one grand prix in the near future.
That is the claim of the country's former motor sports federation president Vicky Chandhok, who has reportedly been recruited to find a main sponsor for a street race in Delhi, according to India's Business Standard.
The newspaper said F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has decided to bring his circus to India in either 2009 or 2010.
"Ecclestone is in constant touch," Chandhok revealed.
"It's not a question anymore of whether, it's now a matter of when F1 would enter India."
NASCAR to suspend BuschUPDATE Look for Kurt Busch to be suspended for one race by NASCAR after he almost killed one of Tony Stewart's crew members in an after-race altercation on pit road at Dover Monday. His COT was also found to be illegal after the Dover race so look for some stiff penalties in that regard as well.
06/06/07 So, NASCAR, is safety a priority? If so, Kurt Busch should be suspended for a minimum of two races. His pit-road hissy fit must be dealt with swiftly and leave no room for misinterpretation.
And a six-digit fine, the loss of owner and driver points and being placed on super-secret double probation citing Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the series rule book ain't gonna to cut it.
These aren't the days of frontier justice; Nextel Cup is the pinnacle of stock-car racing. The days of Cale vs. Bobby are long gone, though I readily support the side that says drivers' passion cannot be neutered. It's a fine line -- and one that Busch obviously cannot walk.
Drivers shouldn't let their emotions put others in harm's way. To be blunt, Busch was borderline negligent: Failure to exercise the degree of care considered reasonable under the circumstances, resulting in an unintended injury to another party.
Busch and Tony Stewart have a history of denting each other's sheet metal, but ramming the other's car on pit road -- with crew members over the wall, no less -- is inexcusable. Drivers who retaliated on the track have been parked for potentially far less dangerous situations. NASCAR.com
Halliday back with ConquestUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. New Zealand racing driver Matt Halliday has confirmed his program for the remainder of the 2007 Champ Car World Series in which he has already contested the first three rounds. Halliday was originally signed to a three race contract with top USA based organization, Conquest Racing with sponsorship from high profile New Zealand Vodka company, 42 BELOW.
With the original contract being sealed in a last minute deal, the opening three races proved to be a baptism of fire for Halliday who suffered a lack of preparation time leading into the opening races of the Series. However, he still made a good impression and will now be entered in the final five races of the Series.
Halliday's long term sponsors, 42 BELOW, will again be involved as he looks forward to capitalizing on this year's racing experience to put together a full Champ Car campaign for 2008:
"It is a shame that we can't complete the whole season but on the other hand we will be in a better situation going into the last five races as the opportunity gives us the chance to have some great results to end the year. As far as I'm concerned these will also be some of the best races of the Series, especially the Australian round, as I'm sure we can put the 42 car up the front.
"Eric Bachelart, Champ Car and my sponsors 42 BELOW Vodka, have been great in making the initial deal happen. I'm sure that along with some strong results, we have a good chance of doing the full Champ Car season next year" said Halliday from Los Angeles earlier today.
Conquest Racing Team Principal, Eric Bachelart, is equally enthusiastic about retaining Halliday's services:
"We have been working hard to raise extra funding to allow Matt to compete for the rest of the season but we ran out of time. We have mutually decided to focus on racing together for the last five races of the season. Matt has been great to work with and we will do whatever we can to enter a second car to finish the season with Matt alongside Jan Heylen with the goal of doing the whole 2008 Champ Car World Series together" he declared from the team base in Indianapolis.
The first of the final five Champ Car World Series races for 2007 will be held at Heusden-Zolder (Belgium) on August 26th, followed by Assen (Holland) on September 2nd; Surfers Paradise (Australia) on October 21st; Mexico City (Mexico) on November 11th and Phoenix, Arizona (USA) on December 2nd.
06/06/07 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, look for Matt Halliday to be back with Conquest Racing with a better sponsorship package for the team for the last 4 or 5 Champ Car races. From this one would assume that could mean Conquest would be back to a 2-car team and he would return for the Assen race.
Toyota to axe Ralf, hire SutilUPDATE #4 (GMM) Following the lead of his management team, formula one rookie Adrian Sutil has dealt another blow to speculation that he could replace Ralf Schumacher at Toyota in 2008.
"It is clear that I signed a long term contract," 24-year-old Sutil, who debuted this year for the Spyker team, told the news agency Sport-Informations-Dienst (sid).
He added: "So it is safe to assume that next year I will be here as well."
The young German has, however, cemented his reputation as a rising grand prix star at the wheel of his orange Spyker so far this season not only by regularly outshining Christijan Albers, but by also topping a wet practice session recently in Monaco.
He told the specialist magazine Motorsport Aktuell: "One of my strengths is that I quickly become very comfortable at all the tracks."
Sutil confirmed that his goal for 2007 had been to outclass his more experienced teammate, so that he does not need to spend "more than two years" on the final rows of the grid.
"After then, I want to make the next step into the middle of the field," he declared.
06/04/07 A Toyota insider has warned his F1 bosses to scrap an apparent deadline that could destroy Ralf Schumacher's grand prix career.
According to speculation, chiefs of the Cologne based outfit have told 31-year-old Schumacher that if he doesn't close the gap to teammate Jarno Trulli by the end of the upcoming US grand prix, he will be replaced by test driver Franck Montagny.
But an unnamed Toyota insider told the newspaper Express: "Franck is doing an excellent job for us. But he is not definitely faster than Ralf."
Schumacher, meanwhile, denied that a visit to Toyota's formula one factory after the Monaco grand prix amounted to so-reported 'crisis talks'.
"It was only for technical questions, particularly about how to best prepare the car for Montreal, one of my favorite circuits," Ralf insisted.
His manager Hans Mahr has however now begun negotiating with Toyota about a contract renewal for 2008, and said: "Toyota has so far rejected all of this speculation, and we have nothing to add.
"Ralf has never been worried about these types of rumors anyway."
Meanwhile, Adrian Sutil's management has stepped away from speculation that the Spyker rookie could be at the top of the list to snare a Toyota race seat.
The German press last week linked the impressive 24-year-old with Ralf Schumacher's ride, after it emerged that Toyota could be looking to replace Schumacher as soon as the French grand prix in July.
Alongside the experienced Christijan Albers in 2007, Sutil has emerged as the quicker of Spyker's race lineup and in Monaco sensationally topped a wet practice session.
His manager Manfred Zimmermann told Auto Motor und Sport: "The progress he is making with Spyker is very positive, and we are quite sure that Adrian will be an interesting prospect for other teams in the future.
"But at the moment, we are planning for his future with Spyker."
McLaren to further limit press' access to drivers (GMM) McLaren could further limit the media's access to Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in Canada this weekend, according to reports.
The Spanish newspaper Diario As revealed that the apparent intensified policy, with both drivers available to print reporters just once per day on Friday and Saturday, is a reaction to the mostly British media's coverage of the 'team orders' saga after Monaco.
The news is, predictably, unlikely to go down well with journalists, who were already complaining in Monte Carlo that team boss Ron Dennis was stifling the press' access to the sensational rookie Hamilton.
Dennis responded: "We're not against the media and we are not trying to protect him from the media. We're (just) trying to give him every opportunity to concentrate on his job.
"Don't see this as some heavy-handed McLaren decision. It's not. It is what he wants and it's the same with Fernando."
Some observers, however, will interpret the stronger media crackdown as McLaren's attempt to simply limit the potential damage done by its drivers speaking too openly or frequently with the press.
It was widely reported, for instance - based on post-race interviews - that 22-year-old Hamilton was 'angry' with his team following the Monaco one-two affair.
Mercedes' Norbert Haug told Bild newspaper: "In formula one, it is often better if you keep your immediate emotions to yourself.
"Lewis was naturally disappointed right after the race, but I have personally clarified the situation with both him and his father."
F1's Swiss may lose tax-free status (GMM) Switzerland's lifting of a national ban on motor racing could affect many current formula one drivers' living arrangements in the country.
It is being reported that millionaire foreign Swiss residents, including Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa and Nick Heidfeld, may lose their low-tax status if the legalization of motor racing in Switzerland is ratified by parliament's upper house in the coming weeks.
Presently, due to the prohibited status of motor sport in Switzerland, foreign racing drivers pay little or not tax because they can legitimately declare themselves 'unemployed', according to the German newspapers Express and Bild.
The drivers' Swiss tax relief was already in doubt, we reported earlier this year, after finance ministers met to discuss reforming the controversial system within six months.
I smell a rat A reader writes, I've been reading with great frustration about Champ Car's recent stumble in China. This marks the series' fourth failed attempt in as many years at staging a race in Asia. It's almost become an annual tradition.
However, in this particular case, I smell a rat.
Ansan could, I think, be reasonably put down to the inability to manage the race from half a world away and not paying heed to the people in the know they had available to them. (e.g. David Clare, who has gone on to be COO of A1GP - which has managed to stage six races in Asia in only two years, including three events in China) However, Zhuhai seems to have the hallmarks of outside influence.
The promoter of the Zhuhai race is France Corbeil of Sino Sports & Entertainment, Inc., the company that controls the Event and TV Rights for all of China. For no publicly known reason of which I am aware, the original financial backers of the race withdrew their support after paying partial consideration to Champ Car. Monsieur Corbeil was then left to get a new group of investors to underwrite his costs. Once done and paid, a delay then resulted in failure to complete the contractual paperwork with the new group in a timely manner, and the original May race date became doubtful. At this time a change to October was requested, although whether this request was initiated by Champ Car on its own or by Champ Car on behalf of the promoter is not fully clear to me. The original group of investors have filed suit to collect their original payment to Champ Car, who has retained the sum pending completion of the contract with the promoter's new investors.
However, what has not been widely reported is that France Corbeil and Sino Sports & Entertainment are business partners with Bernard Ecclestone. In 2003, they signed a deal to exploit Formula One's unassigned television rights in Asia, and entered into a sponsorship deal with British American Tobacco (then owners of BAR-Honda) to promote F1 in Asian markets where BAT brands were popular. Remember when BAR's equipment was impounded? That was France Corbeil's doing, via another production company.
The really confusing part for me is that we are expected to believe that a business partner of Bernie Ecclestone's failed to anticipate the potential for a conflict with the Chinese Grand Prix when requesting a schedule change for Zhuhai. And are the identities of the new group of backers known? Granted, it's all highly speculative, and the mere fact that Champ Car shares a promoter with Formula One is not entirely odd in the insular world of motor racing. In fact this somewhat mirrors the situation in Montreal with Norman Legault.
But I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn one of the new Zhuhai backers has an office in Knightsbridge. The cost of securing the rights to a Champ Car race is pocket change to a man of Bernard's means. Might he consider this an investment to protect the Chinese GP and/or his new GP2 Asian series from competition?
And as someone who has always believed Bernie had a silent role in the US open wheel Split, perhaps I'm just crying wolf. But as I said, I smell a rat. And it has a bad haircut.
V8 Supercars to boycott GP V8 Supercars in Australia is threatening to boycott next year's Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne due to "unreasonable behavior" by Formula One broadcaster Network Ten.
Supercars Australia chairman Tony Cochrane made the threat after learning that Network Ten had vetoed a request by the Seven Network to drop one of their AFL games on Sunday to offer a live broadcast of the Eastern Creek round of the V8 series this weekend.
Seven is required to transmit a replay of the Foxtel-produced Adelaide v Geelong game from AAMI Stadium for SA viewers, and had requested it do so after showing the V8 series live instead of the Seven-produced coverage of the St Kilda versus Kangaroos game.
The AFL television rights deal dictates that each of Foxtel, Seven, Ten and the AFL must agree to proposed scheduling changes, and Cochrane said that while Seven, Foxtel and the AFL have agreed to the change, Network Ten had answered in the negative.
Plans to change Dover race date may change After Sunday's rainout, NASCAR executives may have to go back to the drawing board and scrap their tentative plans to move the Dover race to April. Dover CEO Denis McGlynn is decidedly cool about the prospect of moving this race to a wetter time of the year. Sunday’s rainout was Dover’s first for this race since May 1975. Winston Salem Journal
Toyota reject Ralf's $30m ultimatum (GMM) Toyota has turned down Ralf Schumacher's exorbitant demands for a new contract, according to rumors in the German press.
The beleaguered 31-year-old's manager Hans Mahr, however, slammed the speculation as mischievous, after reports said the pair had issued a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum for a new (US) $30m 2008 deal -- which would be a $10m pay-rise.
The daily newspaper Bild accused Toyota chiefs of trying to use Ralf as a "scapegoat" for its lack of success, casting the German in a "bad light" before ejecting him from the car and team.
And Mahr said of the $30m gossip: "Nonsense. Someone has invented these rumors.
"We are having talks with Toyota but we have not yet begun to discuss sums of money at all."
Ralf's former long time manager Willi Weber earlier this week advised Schumacher to simply quit Toyota before his bad performances at the wheel of the TF107 "destroys his reputation".
Hans Mahr replied: "The idea of going to another team has already occurred to us."
F1 to take $3.3B loan According to an article in Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal, Formula One is close to borrowing $3.3B according to financial sources. By comparison the NFL has borrowing commitments of $2B and the NY Jets and Giants are borrowing $1.3B to build their new football stadium in the Meadowlands of NJ.
Of the $3.3B, $1B will be to refinance the debt taken to purchase F1 last year by CVC Capital Partners. The remainder it is assumed will be used to help F1 expand in Asia as well as fund the acquisitions of a hospitality firm and a marketing company F1 announced last year.
F1 is so huge it generates an estimated $4B per year in broadcast and licensing revenue alone and its cumulative TV viewership for the year tops 1/2 billion worldwide. Bloomberg reported last November that F1's net income (profit) in 2005 was $312M.
"The reason F1 works is because it has the largest worldwide reach beyond the Olympics and World Cup soccer," motorsports consultant Tim Frost to SportsBusiness Journal. "In addition, you have new markets that are really trying to get into it and will pay to receive it. You have incredible investments by Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Turkey" (not to mention Valencia and Singapore.)
Tracy to help NASCAR succeed in MontrealUPDATE Paul Tracy says he likely won't be at this summer's Busch Grand National race in Montreal. The former Champ Car champion tells the Speed TV program "WindTunnel" that plans for him to drive the No. 77 car for Kevin Harvick Inc. simply fell through due to sponsorship conflicts.
Tracy says he was contacted about a month ago by Kevin Harvick who offered him a competitive ride in his Busch Series car alongside fellow Canadian Ron Fellows. Tracy says both sides could not find a suitable compromise between one of his primary sponsors (Monster Energy Drinks) and Harvick's sponsor, so the deal fell apart.
05/29/07 The biggest star in the Champ Car World Series -- Paul Tracy -- was nowhere near the Indianapolis 500 on the weekend, but he still managed to grab a lot of attention when he revealed that he is just days away from signing a deal to run with a top NASCAR Busch team in time for the series' Canadian debut in Montreal on Aug. 4.
Tracy was testing his No. 3 Forsythe Championship Racing Panoz at Mt. Tremblant, Que., when he let it slip that he had changed his mind about not giving NASCAR another shot.
He had been adamant at the start of the 2007 Champ Car season that he wanted to concentrate on winning a second championship, but that dream ended when he crashed into a concrete barrier at Long Beach, crushing a vertebrae in his lower back and forcing him to miss the race in Houston.
Sources have told Sun Media that Tracy was contacted by his old buddy Richard Childress about the possibility of driving one of his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolets at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
"There was some pressure put on NASCAR by Montreal race promoter Normand Legault to get Tracy a good ride and that's how RCR got involved," the source said.
Most likely it will be the No. 21 Chevrolet -- the 2006 NBS championship team -- that already has been to victory lane this season with defending champion Kevin Harvick behind the wheel. Toronto Sun
Penske flexi-wings?UPDATE The rear wings that failed on Penske Racing’s Indy cars late in last weekend’s race in Milwaukee were made by the team and within Indy Racing League guidelines, chief steward Brian Barnhart said today.
Barnhart said Roger Penske’s team, which fields cars for Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr., had a failure with its aluminum wing pillar.
Standard Dallara wing pillars are made out of carbon fiber. Teams are allowed to make their own pillars out of aluminum, and Barnhart said several teams do.
“(There was) no tinkering,” he said. “They were completely legal.” Indy Star
06/03/07 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, If you needed any further proof that Roger's NASCAR involvement is "rubbing" off on his IRL program now that the teams are under one roof (after all rubbing is racing) all you need to do is tune into ABC to see Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. suffer structural rear wing failures within 10 laps of each other. The funny part is that this never happens to anyone else. Unless of course you have a flexible rear wing assembly that bends at a given speed. I wonder what would happen if such a system failed - oh wait we don't have to wonder. We saw it today! Will the IRL have enough character to punish one of their main teams? I doubt it. Woof! Molly Dog
Free tickets for Mid-OhioUPDATE Honda's Robert Clarke explained to AutoRacing1.com what their strategy is behind inviting all their constituents to the Mid-Ohio races.
"We hope to get somewhere between 40,000-60,000 Honda associates, dealers, suppliers and owners to our Honda 200 and Acura Sports Car Challenge sponsored events. We hope to make the events huge Honda and Acura happenings and let everyone share in our love of racing and the excitement of these events. We could not think of a better way to show our appreciation to all that are part of the Honda family.
"We're not marketing Honda, we're marketing IRL and ALMS racing by sharing the joy of racing with our associates, business partners and fans. Remember, Honda races primarily to develop its people and technology, but also to excite, motivate and engage our associates and business partners. Our activity at Mid Ohio works towards our own, more internal objectives, but also promotes the series we compete in and racing in general to all."
06/05/07 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, My wife (employed by Honda of America, located in Marysville, Ohio), brought home an interesting flier yesterday from work. It states Honda is giving 4 free tickets to each employee for the upcoming race at Mid Ohio. Honda employs somewhere between 8 to 12 thousand people here in Central Ohio. You do the math. Add to this the free Marlboro and Firestone tickets and by golly the IRL mysterious invisible fans that look like bleachers on Friday and Saturday will show up in force again on race day. What I want to know is whether IRL fans ever buy a race ticket? Name withheld to protect wife
Roush team to sign new sponsor Aflac is on the verge of securing a multiyear team sponsorship deal with Roush Fenway Racing, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal reports.
Staff writer Michael Smith also cites sources who say that the company is talking to NASCAR about acquiring official status in the category of supplemental insurance.
Aflac's sponsorship with Roush Fenway is expected to include four Nextel Cup races this year as the primary sponsor on Greg Biffle's No. 16 car. The car is sponsored by Ameriquest, a troubled subprime lender that has been looking to sell off races and get out of the final two years of its deal.
Aflac also will be featured as a primary sponsor for four Busch Series races this year, the story says, and to settle into a full-time Busch Series sponsorship with Roush Fenway for 2008.
Drugs may have caused Wood's headaches A bad reaction to Attention Deficit Disorder medication may be the cause for headaches Busch Series driver Jon Wood suffered this weekend at the Dover International Speedway, forcing him to give up his ride to another driver for Saturday's race.
Furthermore, the driver's apparent and ongoing ADD is a misdiagnosis, according to a statement from his father Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers/JTG Racing.
"Jon Wood got out his car on Friday following Busch Series practice by his own choice due to headaches and not feeling well," Eddie Wood said in the statement issued Sunday. "He is presently being evaluated by doctors for these symptoms. It is believed at this time that he has been misdiagnosed with ADD and is experiencing adverse reactions to the prescribed medications."
Jon Wood, 25, was not at the track Sunday, but crew chief Scott Zipadelli said the driver was resting at home and will return to the Busch car when he is well.
"When Jon feels 100 percent, he's on top of his game and we are consulting with physicians to determine when that will be," said Zipadelli, who will fill in for crew chief Michael "Fatback" McSwain on the Wood Brothers' No. 21 Ford for Bill Elliott in Monday's rain-delayed Cup Series race. McSwain's wife is having a baby. NASCAR.com
Earnhardt Jr. closing in on decision on ’08 rideUPDATE #2 On FoxSports NASCAR pre-race from Dover, Jeff Hammond said sources tell him that Dale Earnhardt Jr, would sign with Joe Gibbs Racing and have sponsorship from VISA, with the announcement coming within the next 10-14 days. Imagine if they switch to Toyota too as the other rumor says.
06/03/07 Depending on who one believes in the Nextel Cup garage, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is headed either to Ginn Racing with sponsorship from Budweiser or Joe Gibbs Racing with backing from credit card giant Visa. Either way, expect an announcement next month. “We're trying not to comment too much on how things are going or what's going on until we can really have something to say, but I can tell you that things are positive,” Earnhardt said after qualifying on Friday. “I've just been overwhelmed with the personalities that I've met, with the owners and the individuals working at each company. There are certainly a lot of great people out there with good morals and good values and with great attitudes about the sport and about what they want to accomplish. It makes me feel good about where the sport's going to be in the next 5-10 years with some of these individuals I've met.” SPEEDtv.com
06/01/07 I've drawn a pretty good bead on where I want to be, with respect to a small handful of teams," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. "It's been weird. I've always been gracious and tried to be respectful. I want to give everybody an opportunity, and I feel really uncomfortable saying that.
"I want to hear what these other guys say when it comes to every team, but there's really within reason a good trio or three or four teams that we're looking at and talking with extensively."
Earnhardt Jr. reiterated his stance about remaining with Chevrolet, which automatically narrows his choice to Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Ginn Racing and Hall of Fame Racing.
"Things are looking good," Earnhardt Jr. said. "We are making forward progress every day. I'm getting really excited. The time that Kelley wants something done is going to be OK. ... I thought it would take a lot longer than that, but I'm bad to sit on a decision and waste a lot of time trying to make sure I make the right one. The horizon's pretty clear on what I feel like I need to."
Earnhardt Jr. said an announcement could be made within a month.
Gibbs team to switch to ToyotaUPDATE Joe Gibbs Racing is negotiating to remain a Chevrolet team, but team president J.D. Gibbs would not deny that his team has been approached by Toyota.
"We sat down last week with GM, had some long conversations," Gibbs said Sunday prior to the Autism Speaks 400. "All GM teams are up at the end of this year. So we're going through the process of working on that. There's nothing new or interesting to add to that whole deal."
JGR has been a General Motors team (starting out with Pontiac) since its inception in 1992.
"Really no comment on a lot of that [Toyota speculation] other than to say we've been with Chevrolet for a long time, and we just sat down with them recently here and [we are] going over with them talks for the future as well," Gibbs said.
When asked specifically if his team has talked with Toyota, Gibbs said:
"I can't really say for us because we're in the process of sitting down with GM ... and looking at their proposal," he said. "That's where we are now, reviewing it."
It all would be settled if JGR hires Dale Earnhardt Jr. - then JGR would have to continue to field Chevrolets.
"We're not even far along down that to go into that yet," Gibbs said. Scenedaily.com
06/03/07 SI.com reports that Toyota is pursuing Joe Gibbs Racing hard and that Gibbs is indeed interested. Officially, the Gibbs team denies any contact with Toyota:
“It’s news to us,” team spokesman Mike Arning said.
Toyota, as a matter of policy, does not comment on contract negotiations. The potential deal is a delicate subject for Gibbs and Toyota. Gibbs’ contract with Chevrolet, which runs out at the end of the year, stipulates this is a non-negotiating period with other manufacturers. Is contact to determine interest negotiating? You’d have to read the fine print and then get a clarification from an arbitrator to determine that. But sources say there definitely has been communication between Toyota and Gibbs. SI.com
Dover to rain out? With a 90% chance of rain today in Dover as the remnants of the tropical storm that his Florida yesterday moves up the east cost look for the Nextel Cup race to be rescheduled to Monday.
IRL field back up to 20 at TMS Today's Indy-car race has 18 cars, the fewest of the season. Two more Indy participants -- Jon Herb and rookie Milka Duno -- will return to action next weekend at Texas. Indy Star
’08 IRL schedule to mimic ’07 The IRL has sent a tentative 2008 event schedule to its promoters. It essentially reflects this year's 17-race lineup, according to Terry Angstadt, the president of the league's commercial division. The final schedule isn't expected to be released before next month. Indy Star
Menard to leave DEI?UPDATE John Menard, the wealthy businessman who is helping bankroll Teresa Earnhardt’s DEI operation for racer-son Paul, may be ready to pull out, too. Menard could wind up back working with struggling #7-Robby Gordon — the two have long been business partners, and Gordon is trying to get his team righted again. Winston Salem Journal
06/01/07 Childress is trying to work things out with Dale Earnhardt Inc., from which Dale Jr. is leaving at the end of the season. But there seem to be more problems at DEI: John Menard, the wealthy businessman who is helping bankroll Teresa Earnhardt’s operation for racer-son Paul, may be ready to pull out, too. Menard could wind up back working with struggling Robby Gordon — the two have long been business partners, and Gordon is trying to get his team righted again. Winston Salem Journal
Kvapil likely to run Busch race for ailing Wood Travis Kvapil likely will replace the ailing Jon Wood in the No. 47 Wood Brothers/JTG Racing car for the Dover 200 Busch Series race Saturday at Dover International Speedway. Wood, suffering from severe headaches, missed the second practice session Friday. Mark Martin practiced the car, but having already run the truck race Friday, he didn’t want to pull triple-duty.
So team officials have tapped Kvapil, a Roush Fenway Racing driver in the trucks who also has Busch and Cup experience, to be on standby. Team co-owner Tad Geschickter was not optimistic Friday night that Wood, who has struggled this year and sits 22nd in points, would be ready for the 3 p.m. race Saturday. Wood] is just having real bad headaches,” Geshchickter said. “Travis Kvapil is going to run it. … He’s a Ford guy and Jack [Roush] is a good friend to help us out and be on standby.”
If Wood does not get better, Kvapil will qualify the car Saturday morning and then race it in the afternoon. Scene Daily
NASCAR to make Busch Series announcement NASCAR to Make Busch Series Announcement Friday Morning: From Jerry Bonkowski's Trading Paint column at Yahoo! Sports: "NASCAR is expected to make a major announcement Friday morning at Dover that either will reveal the new series sponsor or announce plans on what types of body styles the Busch cars will have next season. I've been hearing various reports that the COT may become the primary chassis in the Busch circuit next season. That would be contrary to other reports that NASCAR is planning to introduce cars like the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro as the series' primary vehicles." Yahoo! Sports
Logano could run some Busch Races in ’08 17 year old Joe Gibbs development driver Joey Logano has wheeled every kind of racing vehicle imaginable in the last few years, including a short stint in a Mark Martin Racing Pro Series Truck. After spending time with Logano, Martin said the youngster was fully capable of racing a Nextel Cup car. Martin made that statement almost two years ago. A driver must be 18 to race in a NASCAR national series (Nextel, Busch, truck), so Logano is getting as much big-track experience as possible before he becomes of age. When this kid gets a big-league NASCAR license, he's expected to quickly blossom into a big-time racing driver. "I know they've been talking about a Busch car next year sometime," Logano said. "Not real sure when or what car I'm going to drive yet. I know I have a long-term relationship with Gibbs. We'll see how it goes." Daytona Beach News-Journal
Earnhardt Jr. move down to three teamsUPDATE Many drivers seem convinced that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will accept an offer to drive for Bobby Ginn Racing, even though Ginn, a Florida real- estate developer, is new to the sport, with less than a year on the circuit. Ginn has been spending lavishly to turn the Jay Frye-run Chevy team into a top-flight operation. Driver Mark Martin led the Nextel Cup standings early this season and even after missing three of the year’s 12 races he’s still 15th in the points. Martin may return to the Nextel Cup tour full-time in 2008, according to sources. But Martin’s teammate #14-Sterling Marlin is planning to cut back to a partial schedule, and Ginn said that would open the 14 car and its top-35 exemption for Earnhardt. Winston Salem Journal
05/25/07 Dale Earnhardt Jr. appears all but certain to be headed to one of three Chevrolet teams next season - Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Childress Racing or Ginn Racing - according to comments made by his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, on XM Satellite Radio's "Dialed In" show.
In an interview broadcast Wednesday evening with XM's host, Claire B. Lang, Elledge, who serves as president of Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports, said "anybody can read through the lines" to see there are three choices for Earnhardt Jr.
"When we say we want to be with the top competitive Chevrolet organization anybody can read through the lines there and know there’s only three that really you can fit in that category, so if that’s our No. 1 directive, that’s what we want to do," Elledge said during the show broadcast live from JR Motorsports.
Asked if she honestly felt there was no room at Hendrick Motorsports right now, Elledge replied: “Yeah, I mean, they have drivers and sponsors under contract until 2008 so I don’t see any situations that would work there.
"You know, that would be an awesome place to be because they’re at the top of their game right now.” She continued, “But you know in this sport you never know who is going to be on top of their game. Gibbs is right behind him Richard (Childress) is right behind him. Richard has stepped up his program in the last several years, Ginn Racing has stepped up their program with Bobby coming on board there and getting involved with that team." ThatsRacin.com
Heylen to drive for ConquestUPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' based on this announcement.
05/31/07 We hear the Heylen deal with Conquest Racing is done and he will race for the team from Portland onwards. Still no word on whether Halliday will be in a 2nd car.
05/30/07 Eric Bachelart's Conquest team is close to announcing that Jan Heylen will drive for the team the remainder of the Champ Car season. Bachelart is in Belgium and reports are that the deal could be closed as early as today. Belgian race promoter Meindert van Buuren and Roger Dejaeghere are said to be part of the meetings. Having a Belgium driver in Champ Car will help the Zolder race sell a lot of tickets. No word on whether Matt Halliday has found additional monies that will allow him to run the 2nd Conquest car after driving for the team during the first three races.
05/17/07 Belgian Jan Heylen is just a few days from being confirmed as an entry for Champ Car's race at Zolder, Belgium this August - but is hopeful that he can return to action as soon as the fourth round, next month in Portland reports autosport.com.
"We're very, very close. I was hoping that we'd be able to confirm it here but there are still a couple of things that need to be done.
"I need to thank the organizers of the Zolder race - in particular Meindert van Buuren [President and CEO of the Belgian event] and Roger Dejaegeren, Director of Zolder. Between us we've all pushed really hard for this to happen and Champ Car has been giving a lot of support too."
"If the sponsorship deal that we're waiting on can be done soon, it will be with Conquest. That will be a good fit, very appropriate, because Eric Bachelart [Conquest team owner] gave me my first ever test in Champ Car two years ago.
"Also, I come from the Flemish part of Belgium, he comes from the French part so it makes perfect sense in terms of promoting the event. I would be very happy to compete for him. He's a good racer with good people working for him.
"So for now, we're able to announce today that I will be here for the Belgian race, and I'm really happy to be part of it and to be racing in front of my home crowd.
"I have been the face of Zolder, like an ambassador, for the last three years, so it is the ideal situation for us all. But of course I'm hoping it's something more, that I can get racing Champ Cars again from the next race."
New sponsor for Dominguez? Rumor has it that Mexican company Barcel will sponsor Champ Car driver Mario Dominguez. Barcel is a maker of tortilla, potato chips and other snack foods. It is a unit of Grupo Bimbo created in 1950. We do not yet know who he will drive for. Oriol Servia is taking his seat at Forsythe Championship Racing at least for Portland.
Oklahoma City eyes street raceUPDATE #3 Another reader writes, In your comments about the IRL being a better fit for OKC I have to disagree. Corn is not a big part of the farming community in Oklahoma, it's more about cattle ranching. Also oil and natural gas are big parts of the economy. I lived in OKC for many years and I would personally like to see Champ Car take on this venture, seeing as they have nailed down the 3 day festivals of speed concept. Please also note that this will have to be a early spring or fall event, fall is better than spring even due to the heavy thunderstorms that roll in over the plains in the spring. John Liebhaber
05/31/07 The Oklahoma City race would take place in the bricktown section of OKC. This is the main social-entertainment section in Oklahoma City. Mayor Mick Cornett told KOCO TV that the race would be helped if the state legislature next year considers a sales tax rebate law to help offset the cost of putting the race on. Mayor Cornett said the race could still happen without the sales tax rebate, as all of the infrastructure is in place and only slight modifications would be needed. Having a race in Bricktown is a piece of the puzzle in making Oklahoma City a "Big League City". Oklahoma City has also started relocation talks with the Seattle Supersonics of the NBA about locating their franchise to OKC.
05/30/07 Mayor Mick Cornett (right) revealed to television station KOCO that he visited the Champ Car Long Beach Grand Prix to see how they put on their street racing event. The story also said that they are going to meet with representatives of the IRL. [Editor's Note: Oklahoma City might be a better fit for the IRL and its ethanol campaign.]. The story also did not rule out Champ Car's involvement in the possible event. Cornett mentioned the large number of Oklahomans that attend races at Texas Motor Speedway, and that the motorsports fans in Oklahoma are underserved. Mayor Cornett played a large role in Oklahoma City landing the New Orleans Hornets following Hurricane Katrina. The Hornets Played in OKC the last two seasons in the NBA. Television station KOCO in Oklahoma City is going to have more information on their ten o'clock news about the pros and cons of having this possible event.
05/30/07 According to KOCO TV in Oklahoma City, the mayor and a local businessman have had opening discussions about bringing a street race to downtown Oklahoma City. The story said that either the Champ Car World Series or the IRL could put on the race.
Sprint Nextel going to ask NASCAR for refundUPDATE A reader adds, So poor little Sprint Nextel are all upset over a change of logo on a car. "The immense loyalty and goodwill that Sprint Nextel has earned and protected among NASCAR's 75 millions fans already is being eroded."
Sprint's top dog chief marketing officer states that with the recent ruling allowing AT&T to appear on the car this will cause "the telecommunications company most associated with NASCAR would likely change from Sprint Nextel to AT&T." Well if that should happen it would simply prove that Sprint Nextel and their marketing officer are doing a really lousy job.
Come on, a half billion dollar campaign will be eclipsed by the logos on ONE car. Are they kidding?
But more ironic still is the fact that if Sprint/Nextel and NASCAR had kept their big mouths shut in the first place not one person would have noticed!
I also have to think that this storm in a teacup is not going unnoticed by current and potential sponsors. What with the cheating, race fixing and TV audience decline the good old boys in Daytona could find themselves on a very slippery slope. What happened to good old fashioned competition? Obviously Sprint/Nextel just can't stand the heat. And they call this a sport! More like the battle of the brands. Quick....throw a yellow! Ray Masters, Hawaii
05/30/07 In its appeal of a federal judge's recent ruling, Sprint Nextel is reiterating its stance that having AT&T logos on the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing car impairs the value of the sponsorship of the Nextel Cup Series.
Sprint Nextel filed its brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals over the injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Marvin H. Shoob, whose May 18 ruling allowed the switch from Cingular to AT&T logos on the car.
"Every time the RCR No. 31 car is permitted to race with AT&T's brand, Nextel's return on its NASCAR investment is immediately and profoundly diminished," Sprint Nextel's brief states. "The marketing significance of such a change in branding would be difficult to exaggerate. Cingular is a major brand but it is both new, having been born this decade, and limited, as it represents only wireless.
"The AT&T brand is entirely different. The AT&T brand originated in 1885, and the AT&T blue and white globe is one of the most recognizable marketing symbols in the world."
"The immense loyalty and goodwill that Sprint Nextel has earned and protected among NASCAR's 75 millions fans already is being eroded," the Sprint Nextel filing states. "As Sprint Nextel's chief marketing officer testified, if this is permitted to continue, 'the telecommunications company most associated with NASCAR would likely change from Sprint Nextel to AT&T.'
"The harm to Sprint Nextel's NASCAR investment that would be caused by destruction of its vested, long-term right of exclusivity at the hands of the largest company in its industry would be great, immediate and irreparable."
Ginn to build test track in SC First, Roger Penske announced he was planning to build a NASCAR test track near his shops in Mooresville, NC. Now, fellow car owner Bobby Ginn says he plans to build a NASCAR test track, probably a 11/2-miler, somewhere in South Carolina. And the new owners of Virginia International Raceway (VIR), the road course near Danville, are considering adding a flat track specifically for NASCAR’s Nextel Cup testing. Winston Salem Journal
F1 in peril, carmakers could quit - Mosley (GMM) If formula one does not act, car manufacturers could quit and the very existence of motor sport could be under threat.
That is the belief of FIA president Max Mosley, who in an interview with the newspaper Welt am Sonntag justified his tough stance on modernizing the rules for the future.
Talks with the carmakers have already begun about revolutionizing the rulebook for 2011, with things like biofuel-powered V6 engines on the table.
The last carmaker to pull out of F1 was Ford at the end of 2004, but Mosley insisted: "We must continue to cut the costs.
"My experience is that if one manufacturer decides it has become too expensive, another one could also say goodbye very quickly. We have to remember that the people sitting on these companies' executive boards are not necessarily F1 fans."
He admits that recent rule changes like longer-life engines and the new 'engine freeze' in 2007 had not dramatically altered the manufacturers' willingness to spend money.
"Only two of them have actually reduced their budgets," Mosley said.
"Instead of enjoying the cost savings they have continued to spend exactly the same sums, to develop maybe three or four more horse power -- and that's crazy."
Along with cost, Mosley is also desperate to make the rules of the future more road-relevant and environmentally friendly, particularly when he fears a looming world oil crisis.
Denying reports that he is considering introducing 'standard cars', Mosley did admit that the chassis rules will be changed.
He asked rhetorically: "Do you know how much carbon dioxide is blown into the air when top teams run two wind-tunnels 24 hours a day, day after day?
"We are talking about thousands of tons, and then at the end of the day the races are boring.
"And cars that use 75 liters of fuel to go 100 kilometres are no longer acceptable."
Mosley warned: "If we do not act, the very existence of formula one will be under threat. We do not live on another planet so we have to face reality."
Melbourne to drop F1 raceUPDATE #2 (GMM) Australian officials have again denied speculation that plans are already being made for formula one night racing in Melbourne.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone recently warned that flood-lighting the Albert Park track next year might be the only way the country could extend its grand prix contract beyond 2010, and it now emerges that the state government has set aside an additional $16.6 million for its tourism budget for 2007-8.
But tourism minister Tim Holding is quoted as saying by the news agency AAP: "This has got absolutely nothing to do with a night grand prix."
Victorian premier Steve Bracks also rubbished the rumors, telling reporters: "They have to be joking.
"There's no proposals that have been developed for a night grand prix and therefore nothing has been expended, spent or developed."
05/19/07 Speaking to the Australian publication, Ecclestone revealed that if the organizers of the Australian Grand Prix don’t host the race under lights, then there is a good chance that it will be moved from its current Albert Park location
"When the contract comes up, we have to have a look and see exactly what we will be doing with Melbourne," he said. "Unless they (organizers) can come up with something satisfactory, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be able to continue there. I would like to make sure we can watch (the race) in Europe and other parts of the world at a respectable time rather than having to get up at three or four in the morning."
Melbourne’s contract expires in 2010 and there is a new venue making itself known near the Gold Coast in Queensland (see related rumor), close to the ChampCar track at Surfers Paradise, that could be the new host as it is said to be installing lights to accommodate for night events from the start. For Melbourne, the cost of doing this would be inhibitive and the local residents would not appreciate the thunder of F1 engines at 9 pm.
05/19/07 (GMM) Organizers of the Australian grand prix have been told to stage a night race next year or forego a contract extension after the event in 2010.
The Adelaide newspaper Sunday Mail will on Sunday quote F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone as warning that only a floodlit race held after 9pm at Albert Park next March may be enough to satisfy the sport's officialdom.
"Unless they (organizers) can come up with something that's going to satisfy us I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be able to continue there," he said, not long after inking a deal with Singapore for the first ever night race in 2008.
The news is just the latest installment in the flagging fortunes of the Melbourne race, which has suffered growing losses and declining crowd numbers and local sponsorship in recent years.
Ecclestone said GP boss Ron Walker knows about his demands for a night race.
"Ron is not stupid and he knows exactly what is at stake," the 76-year-old Briton said, although an insider at the Australian Grand Prix Corporation warned that it is unlikely to happen.
"To have formula one cars hooning around Albert Park at 9pm won't go down well with the locals and it's a family event, so afternoon is obviously the ideal time," the unnamed insider said.
A Victorian government spokesman, however, insisted: "We will be seeking to keep the event in Melbourne."
BMW considers buying Ford’s VolvoUPDATE Ford Motor Co. officials denied rumors in published reports that it was in talks to sell its Volvo division.
At least two reports in European media outlets suggested that Ford was in discussions with Germany’s BMW regarding the possible sale of Volvo, which has its headquarters in Sweden.
In a statement released Tuesday ,officials at the Dearborn automaker said, “Ford Motor Co. is not in discussions with BMW or any other company regarding an interest in the Volvo Car Corp. We have seen this kind of speculation for the past year, as Ford Motor Co. has been assessing our operations and portfolio – as any good company does and we will continue to do.”
05/29/07 Bayerische Motoren Werke AG is considering buying Ford Motor Co.'s Volvo Cars unit, according to a report on the Financial Times' Mergermarket Web site.
On the report, shares of BMW rose 1.7 percent, or 85 cents, to 50.60 euros in Frankfurt, putting the company's value at about 32.8 billion euros ($44.2 billion).
BMW has reviewed Volvo Cars' financial data and is "exploring" an acquisition of the Swedish unit, the Mergermarket Web site said late on Friday. The reported cited unidentified people "close to the situation." Other companies have also reviewed Volvo's finances, the Financial Times site said.
Valencia F1 deal for 2008 signed - reportUPDATE #6 The European Grand Prix in Valencia is no longer conditional on election results. The ruling Partido Popular dominated the polls in the Valencia region winning a landslide victory. The city's mayor Rita Barbera became the official with the highest ever level of support with a vote in her favor of 56.68% and 21 of the possible 33 councilors are her supporters. The regional government, headed by Francisco Camps, was also returned with a huge majority and this means that the Valencian authorities can now push ahead with their plans for a Grand Prix next year. The work on the planned circuit will begin shortly. Grandprix.com
05/11/07 (GMM) An opposing political party has lodged an official complaint against plans for a grand prix in the Spanish port city of Valencia.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone explained on Thursday that the seven year deal was conditional on regional leader Francisco Camps' re-election later this month.
The ruling Socialist Party in Madrid (PSOE) said the promise contravenes electoral rules and accused Camps, of the Partido Popular party, of timing the announcement for political gain, according to Reuters.
"This is an insult to the people of Valencia who are above these sort of conditional offers," said Inmaculada Rodriguez-Pinero, the PSOE's secretary of politics, economics and employment.
05/10/07 (GMM) Despite announcing the Valencia GP deal on Thursday, Bernie Ecclestone admitted to the attending media that the contract has actually not yet been signed.
The F1 supremo explained that the deal, bringing a street race to the Spanish port city next year - probably in August - depends on regional government chief Francisco Camps winning re-election later in May.
"I'm sorry to have to say this now, but I really didn't have the courage to say to the president, when I met him this morning, that we are not going to sign this contract until (then)," Ecclestone is quoted as saying.
Valencia's regional and local elections take place on May 27.
Bernie continued: "Everything is in place, we have the contract ready, the circuit is planned, the safety has been improved and everything is in perfect shape."
He also had to defend against criticism that, after forcing Germany to annually alternate its two races from 2007, he has contradicted himself by adding a second Spanish event to the calendar.
"People keep asking me, 'Why are we here ... why two in Spain?'," Ecclestone acknowledged.
"The reason is simple, it's because we have here what you call an urban circuit -- we call a street circuit.
"When you look at the circuit, as it's laid out, it's better than many of the permanent circuits that we have."
05/10/07 (GMM) A seven year contract to ensure formula one racing in the Spanish port city of Valencia was announced officially by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone on Thursday.
But the arrangement, with the race to be called the European grand prix in 2008 and beyond, is subject to the regional government's president Francisco Camps winning the local elections next month, 76-year-old Ecclestone said in a press conference.
The rear wing of BMW-Sauber's F1.07 single seater at Circuit de Catalunya will this weekend read the words 'www.active-steering.com' instead of the usual 'BMW Power'.
BMW AG board member Dr Klaus Draeger explained that the message is to promote BMW's Active Steering technology for its road cars.
"There are plans to present other messages in this way during the course of the season," a statement read.
Ferrari's latest innovation was clear to see for all paddock dwellers in Barcelona on Thursday -- an impressive new three-storey motor home.
05/10/07 The Spanish city of Valencia has signed a contract with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone to host a grand prix for the next seven years.
Ecclestone has confirmed the deal following a long courtship from the city’s officials, with the 76-year-old joined by the Valencia government’s president Francisco Camps, and mayor Rita Barbera in making the announcement.
The race is another coup for the Mediterranean city, currently playing host to the 32nd America’s Cup.
Although Valencia has a test track, the European Grand Prix as it will be known, will be staged on a bespoke street circuit running close to the port area.
The race means Spain will now play host to two events for the next few years as the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, which this weekend stages the Spanish Grand Prix, has a contract that runs through until 2011. The Post
05/10/07 Valencia's place on the 2008 formula one calendar is expected to be revealed to the world with a media conference on Thursday.
The governor of the autonomous Spanish region, Francisco Camps, will appear alongside F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone in the city, where a street race is to be announced, according to the Spanish newspaper 'Marca'.
It is not expected that the race is a threat to Spain's existing grand prix in Barcelona, and some sources even suggest that the Valencia event could be staged only once every two years.
Meanwhile, the feature of the 4.3km circuit - which has been designed by Spanish engineers with input by Hermann Tilke - is a temporary bridge, which will link the two sides of the Valencia port.
05/09/07 (GMM) A definitive deal for a new formula one street race in the Spanish city of Valencia has now finally been signed.
That was the claim on Wednesday of the private radio network 'Cope', which said Bernie Ecclestone's circus would race at a second Spanish venue next year.
It is suggested that the existence of the contract could be announced by the F1 supremo at Barcelona as early as during a press conference on Thursday.
The descriptor 'European Grand Prix' is tipped to be used, as it will be free because of the rotation of F1's two German venues.
Next year's Hockenheim event, following the race at the Nurburgring in 2007, will instead be called the German GP.
Alltel to challenge NASCAR for more leeway Communications giant AT&T’s victory in its lawsuit against NASCAR that allowed the company to change the branding on its car could reportedly spark similar moves from wireless brand Alltel.
A court ruling this weekend allowed AT&T to rebrand the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet and refused NASCAR’s defense that it was protecting the rights of series sponsor, mobile phone company Nextel which agreed a high degree of marketing control to sponsor the Cup series.
Now Alltel is also reportedly thinking about challenging the restrictions placed on its NASCAR team sponsorship. Because it is a wireless company that competes directly against Sprint Nextel, Alltel can't set up interactive displays, can't title sponsor a race and is effectively limited to branding its mark on driver Ryan Newman and its car.
Sprint Nextel has said that the ruling diminishes its exclusivity in the sport.
Alltel said it had always been very respectful of Nextel's rights, but now wanted clarification and a better understanding of how far-reaching those rights are.
Night races to be tested elsewhere - FIA (GMM) F1's governing body may sanction night racing only if it is first tested in a junior category.
FIA president Max Mosley is believed to have had GP2 or the Renault World Series in mind when he told the Italian magazine Autosprint that floodlit races are not likely to debut at the very pinnacle of motor sport.
"My suspicion is that we would want to see how it goes with another category before we committed to it for the world championship," Mosley said.
Meanwhile, in Monaco, the Briton had warned: "We will not sanction night racing if it does not fulfill all of the safety conditions."
Hamilton to Ferrari? (GMM) Just five races into his young career, British rookie Lewis Hamilton is already being linked with a shock switch to Ferrari.
The 22-year-old, after making the most successful start to a debut season in the history of formula one, is now at the centre of the Monaco 'team order' storm.
Hamilton has even been mentioned as the instigator of the pending FIA investigation, after suggesting to reporters last Sunday that he had been ordered to finish second to Fernando Alonso because he is "the number two driver" at McLaren.
But even though team boss Ron Dennis groomed Hamilton through racing's junior classes at huge expense, not to mention the existence of a long term contract (to about 2011), British newspaper The Times said there is now "a raft of speculation" hinting at a future link between Lewis and F1's famous Italian team.
"Paddock wags (are) suggesting that his route to Ferrari is already being 'lawyered', on the assumption that Kimi Raikkonen is shown the door," motor racing correspondent Edward Gorman wrote.
Gorman added that Hamilton's annual salary could potentially rise from about $500,000 in 2007 to up to $40m "or more" with Ferrari.
The rumor is backed by another British newspaper - the Daily Mail - and its claim that Hamilton was unashamedly "angry" in Monaco when it became clear that he was being asked to sacrifice his lead of the drivers' championship and settle for second.
CDW could be bought outUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. CDW Corp. on Tuesday announced that the distributor of hardware, software and technology accessories has agreed to be acquired by a private equity company in a $7.3 billion deal.
Under the agreement with Chicago's Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, CDW shareholders will receive $87.75 in cash for each share of common stock, CDW said in a news release issued after the close of business.
CDW said that's a 16.1 percent premium over the Vernon Hills-based company's $75.56 closing share price Friday and a premium of approximately 31.4 percent over the average closing share price during the previous 90 trading days.
Earlier Tuesday, CDW's shares rose to $83.11, a seven-year high, after The Wall Street Journal reported it was in talks to be acquired.
John A. Edwardson, CDW's chairman and chief executive officer, said in the release that the buyout represents a new chapter for the company.
"We are pleased to partner with the world-class investment firm of MDP, whose investment goals are closely aligned with our strategy and long-term objectives," he said. More at Yahoo.com
05/29/07 Shares of CDW Corp. rose 9 percent early on Tuesday following a report that the computer technology retailer may be a takeover target from private equity firms.
CDW shares, which have already climbed about 28 percent since early March, rose to $84.69 in pre-open trade on NASDAQ.
Private equity firms are in talks for a buyout of CDW, which has a market capitalization of about $6 billion, The Wall Street Journal said on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources. Madison Dearborn Partners is considered in the lead to buy CDW.
The talks are at a sensitive stage and could fall apart, the paper said, adding that the buyout firm might also face some late competition.
CDW, based in Vernon Hill, Illinois, and Madison Dearborn were not immediately available for comment. Reuters
Winkelhock or Klien to Spyker, Albers to Champ CarUPDATE #2 Latest rumor has Honda test driver Christian Klien possibly taking Albers' seat at Spyker. Rumors say that Albers may have missed some payments to Spyker.
05/27/07 We wouldn't be at all surprised if Monaco is Albers last race in F1. Already at the Champ Car press conference in Amsterdam we heard a rumor about this and that his management is in 'secret talks' with a top Champ Car team ..... Both European races are very interesting venues for all of his sponsors (most of them being Dutch companies) and with no F1 race in The Netherlands, the Champ Car connection is not such a bad idea. For his many sponsors it would be much better value for money as well!
05/27/07 (GMM) Spyker reserve driver Markus Winkelhock in Monaco refused to comment specifically on speculation that Christijan Albers' days are limited in the Dutch squad's race lineup.
In the Principality, Albers has again been outperformed by his rookie teammate Adrian Sutil, reinvigorating rumors that team boss Colin Kolles could install another young German alongside Sutil before long.
"I do not know anything about Christijan's future," Winkelhock told the broadcaster 'Premiere' in Monte Carlo.
"All I know is that I am the spare driver at every race."
26-year-old Winkelhock also did not take the opportunity to knock his Spyker colleague, albeit admitting that Albers' teammate Sutil is "usually faster" in 2007.
Winkelhock, who recently substituted for an injured driver in the German touring car series, said of Albers: "He is a really good driver -- in DTM he was always in front."
FIA out to stop cheating Red Bull teamUPDATE According to a report on Autosport.com, Up until now, the FIA has checked the rear wings with a pull-back test, where a 500 Newton force is applied horizontally across the wing span to ensure it does not deflect more than 5 millimeters.
But from the Canadian GP onward, the FIA will also apply a vertical load of 500 Newtons to each side of the rear wing - and it will be stricter than ever on how much the wing can deflect.
Although most deflection tests have currently allowed a tolerance of 5mm, Whiting has told the teams that the FIA will allow just two millimeters of movement on the rear wings from now on.
05/23/07 (GMM) F1's governing body will respond to the saga involving Red Bull's bendy Barcelona rear wing by further intensifying the static scrutineering tests, according to a report on Wednesday.
The specialist publication Auto Motor und Sport claims that, after viewing the footage from David Coulthard's rearward-facing camera in Spain, the FIA's Charlie Whiting is concerned that the wing of the RB3 is indeed flexing illegally.
A new static test, requiring the development of bespoke equipment, is being devised for the upcoming Canadian grand prix, and for the time being Whiting has apparently ordered that both Coulthard and teammate Mark Webber's cars be again fitted with the rearward-facing onboard cameras in Monaco this weekend.
Speed’s future a bit more certain? (GMM) Scott Speed (who right, looks, acts and talks like an unprofessional goofball at times) in Monaco staked a claim on a longer future in formula one by impressing his Toro Rosso boss Gerhard Berger.
Former grand prix winner Berger, who owns 50 per cent of the Faenza based team, has been recently critical of the Californian, amid rumors that both Speed and Vitantonio Liuzzi are unlikely to be retained beyond 2007.
The speculation surrounding youngster Speed has even hinted at his STR exit before the current season is out, but that probability waned on Sunday when he raced conspicuously from eighteenth on the grid to ninth.
"It is the first race after which I do not have to say that I expected more," said Berger, who clearly wasn't referring to Liuzzi because Speed's Italian teammate crashed on lap 2.
Berger told the news agency APA: "That was Scott's best race for us."
Speed was asked about the rumors surrounding his F1 future on Sunday, but he answered: "I am thinking positively and looking forward to the next race."
IRL to introduce new car in 2009? No. 77 Chastain Motorsports Team owner Thomas Chastain had not raced since 1998, but the retired 64-year-old electrician who started with a race shop in a Noblesville barn was determined to take his best shot this May against the "big boys." Most of his team's $600,000 budget came out of his pocket, from his Miller-Eads electrical company.
As Sunday afternoon's showers pelted the hospitality motor coaches, the Chastain area was quiet, as if the tight-knit group of family and friends was in mourning. Moreno was at Methodist Hospital after complaining of upper back pain.
"That's racing," his wife Carol said.
Next year, he said, will be his last shot.
"I can't justify the amount of money spent, but you only go around once," Chastain said. "I've got one more bullet to put in my gun because after that, the cost of racing will be completely out of my reach." In part from Indy Star
This either means he has been told that the IRL will introduce new cars in 2009, or they are listening to the rumors in the IRL paddock that Champ Car will fold by then and the strong teams that remain will move over to the IRL and push teams like Chastain, who are field fillers for this one race a year, out of the sport because he would no longer be guaranteed a spot in the field like he is right now.
Tryson close to a deal with DEI Pat Tryson, who was fired by Roush Fenway Racing last week, is close to a deal with Dale Earnhardt Inc. Richie Gilmore, the director of motorsports at DEI, hopes to have Tryson signed within the next two weeks. "He's looking at a couple of other options, but right now we're at the top of his list,'' Gilmore said before Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. DEI officials also are narrowing their search for a driver to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is leaving the company his father built after this season. They have a list of five candidates and could have that narrowed even further by the end of this week. They are looking not only at drivers currently inside the Nextel Cup garage but drivers who have been champions of other series. "The testament to this organization and what the company stands for is reflected by the high level of interest from people across this entire sport,'' said Max Siegel, the president of global operations at DEI. ESPN.com
Long Ferrari to blame for Monaco struggle? (GMM) After finishing a minute behind the McLarens, two time 2007 race winner Felipe Massa on Sunday would not speculate as to why his Ferrari might be simply unsuited to circuits like the narrow Monaco streets.
It was suggested earlier this weekend that the F2007's notably longer wheelbase than its rivals - which proved to have suited the new single-tire formula on faster tracks - could make the red car not nimble enough to cope with the twists and turns of Monte Carlo.
"I would be amazed if it proves detrimental," the team's former technical director Ross Brawn said last week.
Massa, however, was oddly off the pace here, sparking suggestions that Brawn had been wrong about the Ferrari's misgivings at slow speeds.
"I don't know. I think it is difficult to say exactly what the difference was," the Brazilian said. "I hope it is something related just to this track.
"The only thing you need to say is that they were much better today and our car was slow."
Tellingly, Massa said he expects Ferrari to be back on the pace on the long straights in Montreal and Indianapolis for F1's upcoming trek to North America.
He said: "We are confident in our package for (there) so hopefully we can have a great car and try to be in the front again."
Renault could drop F1 program Renault will not stay in Formula One long-term as mere participants, chief executive Carlos Ghosn said on Sunday.
"What is important for me is the trend," he told reporters at the Monaco Grand Prix, won by Renault last year with Fernando Alonso before the Spaniard left for McLaren.
"If I am in a situation where we are number four or number five and we have no hope to do better, be part of the show or win again, then I say why are we participating?
"We are not going to be here to say 'me too, I am also in Formula One'. We don't want to do that. But ups and downs, we are used to it."
"I am very confident that the team are going to do a much better second half of the season than the first. And again we want to continue to be part of the show at the best level," continued Ghosn.
"We are here to win. To perform. But I cannot reasonably ask (team boss) Flavio (Briatore) to win every year. I am asking him but at the same time, I cannot expect that every single year the team is going to be number one.
"But you have to be always part of the show. You have to be always part of the two or three teams that can make it for the year. That is very important."
"There is another reason," he added. "We put all our resources to decide the championship last year. We won, we prevailed. The small price to pay is maybe we did not dedicate as much attention to the next season."
"Renault is the only (top) team with one wind tunnel," the Italian declared. "Last year, to make races more interesting, there was some handicap for Renault with the mass damper.
"With this handicap we needed to develop the car right to the last race. We didn't want to lose the 2006 championship. So we compromised."
Newman to Gibbs? Ryan Newman’s name has surfaced prominently in early Silly Season rumors, most notably in connection with a possible move to Joe Gibbs Racing. But Penske Racing officials have said Newman is under contract through the end of the 2008 season, and the driver said Saturday that neither he nor the team are distracted by the Silly Season rumors. “A lot of names are in the hat right now,” said Newman, who will make his 200th NASCAR Nextel Cup start on Sunday. “I guess it’s a good thing being in the hat, being considered. At least someone thinks you have talent, but I’m happy where I’m at and I’m happy doing what I’m doing. We’ll just play it like that. It doesn’t distract me. I don’t think it distracts the team. It’s all about confidence whether it’s confidence qualifying the race car and putting it on the edge or having confidence in me. That doesn’t change.” At Joe Gibbs Racing, #18-J.J. Yeley was told last week by J.D. Gibbs that he controls his own destiny, team officials said. Yeley, who is in the final year of his contract as driver of the #18 JGR Chevrolet, needs to improve his results if he wants to keep that ride next season, according to a JGR spokesman. But if he does that, he’ll be back. SPEEDtv.com
No Gibbs for Earnhardt Junior Can't Bring Budweiser to Gibbs Team: If Dale Earnhardt Jr. ends up at Joe Gibbs Racing, team officials are adamant it won't be with sponsor Budweiser. Bobby Ginn, however, has no problem with a beer sponsorship and is still hotly pursuing NASCAR's most coveted free agent. And Richard Childress? He had nothing to say on the subject Saturday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. With Hendrick Motorsports apparently out of the Earnhardt sweepstakes - Hendrick has four drivers under contract and claims he isn't looking to drop any of them - three other Chevrolet teams have emerged as the front-runners to sign NASCAR's most popular driver. JGR could be the leading candidate, but owner Joe Gibbs insisted Saturday night he won't accept a beer sponsorship at his family business. Earnhardt is closely associated with Budweiser, his longtime sponsor, and the company can leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. with him at the end of the season. "For me personally, and my background and everything that has happened to me, it wouldn't fit me," Gibbs said. "It doesn't mean it's not fine for everybody else." Gibbs officials also said they won't be expanding to four teams in 2008. That means they'd have to dump a driver to sign Earnhardt, and #18-J.J. Yeley could be on the hot seat. Ginn, meanwhile, has room for Earnhardt and has planned to expand to four teams since taking over majority ownership of the team known as MB2 Motorsports last season. Ginn said Saturday he's had "exploratory conversations" with Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, but has yet to speak to Earnhardt himself. He said he never would have taken it this far if he didn't think his organization was a perfect fit. Childress, who said Friday he had yet to speak to the Earnhardts, wouldn't give an update Saturday on any discussions. With three cars under the RCR roof, he said he'll be at four in 2008 with or without Earnhardt behind the wheel. Associated Press
Champ Car team to run Rahal at Indy?UPDATE Graham says he wants to race in the Indianapolis 500 in the coming years. In fact, he's a big proponent of as many Champ Car teams as possible making a serious effort to compete in next year's Indy 500.
"It's a dream of mine to race at Indianapolis," he remarked. "I was talking to my dad recently about the father-son combinations who have won this race and we think the Unsers are the only ones. So it would obviously be awesome to be the second family to do that. So personally, there's great motivation for me to race at Indianapolis."
Rahal believes some Champ Car teams could sell additional sponsorship based on competing at Indianapolis.
"I think the idea of Champ Car going to Indy next year with five or six drivers, or however many it may be, would be great for the Champ Car World Series," he said. "It would be good for the sponsors involved with those drivers because they would get the best of both worlds. They would get the Indy 500, which is the best in the IRL, and they would get Long Beach, Las Vegas and all our big events in Champ Car."
Will it be F1 or Champ Car first into Greece?UPDATE #2 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Champ Car is sending an official to Greece (departing today we hear) to inspect the proposed street circuit in Thessaloniki and report back to Champ Car's Tony Cotman as to its suitability. We hear negotiations on a contract will begin soon.
04/27/07 As we reported during the Long Beach weekend, the Champ Car race in Athens, Greece is probably not going to happen. Olympic Property site in Greece (old airport), was only able to sign a three year contract. They are turning the site into a park and hotel complex, plus a water park where they had the canoe races during the Olympic Games. The limit of three years made to this location financially not feasible. We now hear that a Champ Car race in the 2nd largest city in Greece, Thessaloniki, is under consideration. The race would be called the Grand Prix of Thessaloniki.
We hear that the governor of Thessaloniki, Mr. Psomiadis, has worked very hard to accomplish this. The city of Thessaloniki and the whole region are behind this project we hear. In 4 to 6 years the city is going to build a permanent road course that will also include an oval and a drag strip. In the interim, a street race utilizing the Port of Thessaloniki and some of the surrounding streets is planned. The site is right by the water, and said to be very nice.
Thessaloniki is Greece's second-largest city and the capital of the Greek region of Macedonia and the periphery of Central Macedonia. it comprises 16 municipalities and according to the 2001 census it has a population of 800,746. The Thessaloniki prefecture has a population of 1,058,000 (2001).
Thessaloniki is a busy, vibrant city and it is Greece's second major economic, industrial, commercial and cultural center as well as a major transportation hub in southeastern Europe. Its commercial port is of a great importance for Greece and for its southeast European hinterland. The city has two state universities that host the largest student population in Greece. As a cultural center, it is renowned for its large number of monuments of Byzantine architecture as well as for some main Ottoman, and Jewish structures. The city is famous for its International Trade Fair which takes place at the beginning of every September and it is the place where the Prime Minister of Greece gives a major speech to announce the governmental plans for the year to come. Thessaloniki is also renowned for the Thessaloniki International Film Festival which is characterized as the most significant cultural event in South Eastern Europe, attracting local and international celebrities of both cinema and theater.
01/20/07 Greece's plans to host Formula One races moved closer to completion this week with the signature of a decree setting out minimum track requirements, the Greek Automobile Club (ELPA) said on Saturday.
The decree signed by Greek President Karolos Papoulias will enable investors to claim support funding from the Greek development ministry, said ELPA Chairman Vassilis Despotopoulos.
"This decree enables investors to build something and subsequently apply for funding... it is not specifically linked to Formula One racing, but it facilitates... those wishing to build Formula One tracks," he told AFP.
[Editor's Note: Who is to say it is not for the rumored Champ Car track at the old Greece airport? Won't the F1-centric European press who wrote this be surprised when they find out? However, whenever Champ Car makes a move into a country Bernie Ecclestone always tries to beat them to it. We shall see what he has up his sleeve this time. Meanwhile this rumor spells out Champ Car's hoped for a race in Greece. Looks like Champ Car had better move fast to close that deal before Bernie gets the rumor mill churning again about an F1 race in Greece. But who can afford Bernie and F1 as there isn't a single F1 race promoter that doesn't lose money, big money.]
Greek developers have been clamoring for a local Formula One track for decades, arguing that a Grand Prix would enhance Greece's appeal to visitors and boost tourism, which is a leading source of national income. Interest in Greece rose further following the successful debut of a course in neighboring Turkey in 2005.
"I've personally been involved in this debate since 1968," Despotopoulos said, adding that a 'basic' track would cost 60-80 million euros and require two years to complete.
Traction control to return? Max Mosley has said that traction control could make a comeback in 2011 due to the proposed regulation changes for that year. The driver aid has been banned for 2008 and 2009 yet Mosley believes that traction control could play a fundamental part in the energy recovery technology expected for 2011. It's going to be difficult to have those very sophisticated electronics that go with an energy recovery system without traction control," Mosley told reporters in Monaco.
"It's a very interesting discussion, whether and how much it matters. The classic position always is that traction control is bad. But the drivers like the traction control in all sorts of ways, contrary to what you might think. They love driving without it, but they say Formula One is actually better because of it."
F1 will bankrupt Dutch car company Dutch Formula One constructor Spyker Cars NV is pressing ahead with a refinancing package to fund deferred payment for its 2006 F1 team acquisition and working capital requirements.
According to www.autoindustry.co.uk, Spyker has retained Booz Allen & Hamilton to draw up a future strategy document to support its borrowing requirements.
Spyker said that short-term cash flow had been secured by an extended credit line from a bank, and a €7.5m loan from an existing shareholder, the report said.
Dutch press reports have also revealed that Spyker’s road car intellectual property rights were pledged to the Friesland Bank as part its initial F1 funding arrangements in 2006.
According to a press release from the company, this is "common business practice" although some observers believe the move shows that the ‘writing is on the wall’ for the sports car brand.
Spyker become the first Dutch company to run a Formula One racing team, with its purchase of Midland from Russian-born Canadian Alex Schnaider for some €84m.
No-go for night races yet - Mosley (GMM) FIA president Max Mosley insisted in Monaco that F1's governing body has not yet sanctioned Bernie Ecclestone's plans for night racing.
Ecclestone, the F1 supremo, has busily been organizing floodlit events in Singapore and possibly Malaysia and Australia for as soon as next year, but Mosley said on Thursday that the FIA must give the final go-ahead.
"There is still no criteria for it," the Briton said, explaining that if a formal request for night racing is ultimately made, it could be the decision of the World Council to sanction or disallow it.
Mosley added: "We will not sanction night racing if it does not fulfill all of the safety conditions."
The Briton did, however, offer full support for Ecclestone's desire for more street circuits, but insisted that they must all satisfy the safety requirements of normal permanent venues.
Only Monaco, Mosley said, is the exception.
"Monaco has been a part of formula one for 70 or 80 years," he said, "but we can't tear down the buildings so that the run-off distances are better.
"New city courses (however) must fulfill the same criteria as any other circuit, in terms of safety."
He also revealed that Ecclestone has not yet requested a grand prix date for the Japanese circuit Suzuka next year, contrary to suggestions that the popular circuit could return.
Biffle/Tryson could reunite at DEI? Pat Tryson doesn't know where he'll work next, but he hasn't ruled out a reunion with driver #16-Greg Biffle. Fired as Biffle's crew chief at Roush Fenway Racing this week, Tryson said on Thursday at Lowe's Motor Speedway that he's been contacted about a job from officials at Dale Earnhardt Inc. He also acknowledged that Biffle has had ongoing conversations with DEI even before Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced he was leaving the organization that his father built. "I know if they want to keep Greg Biffle, Roush better get some stuff together,'' Tryson said during practice for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. "I don't think Greg's shopping himself. I also don't believe he's going to rush to sign.'' Biffle's contract with Roush Fenway runs through 2008 and he's in the middle of negotiations on an extension. While he's said that an extension is his first choice, he wouldn't be the first person to get out of a Roush contract a year early. Kurt Busch left a year after the 2005 season to join Penske Racing. ESPN.com
Newman to leave Penske teamUPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Well, you called that one correct (below)! Newman on the pole, and 5 Dodges in the top 10 including the fastest three cars. Not only is it amazing how Newman suddenly regains his qualifying form right when it appears he wants out of Penske, it's also amazing how these two top tier Dodge teams have suddenly improved their form. Penske and Evernham have looked lost all season yet suddenly, right after Chrysler is dumped by Daimler and their participation in the "sport" becomes tenuous at best, these two Dodge teams suddenly jump to the top of the field. What isn't amazing is that the political manipulation by NASCAR is so transparent. It's a farce. Mika Malehorn, Annandale, Virginia
05/17/07 It might be difficult to see a ride better than with Roger Penske, one of the most famous names in racing. But Ryan Newman’s name is suddenly out in the rumor mill. It’s been a while since Newman, a Purdue grad, was making headlines. Newman’s last tour win was back in late summer of 2005, although he comes to Charlotte with three straight top-10 finishes, at Talladega, Richmond and Darlington, perhaps heralding a turnaround. And he did win the All-Star race back in 2002. So Newman will be one of drivers under the gun here the next two weeks, before the stock-car tour heads out across the country. Winston-Salem Journal
If the pattern holds, the NASCAR Timing and Scoring Computer will soon pop up with Newman on the pole for an upcoming race.
Changes coming to Almirola team? Joe Gibbs Racing will "re-evaluate" its part-time Nextel Cup program for Tampa native Aric Almirola before allowing the 23-year-old to attempt to qualify for a second race, JGR vice president and development head Steve De Souza said.
Almirola's No. 80 Chevrolet was removed on Monday from the entry list for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600, De Souza said, because the team was not able to adequately prepare a replacement for the car he wrecked attempting to qualify for the Nextel Open at Lowe's Motor Speedway last weekend.
"We're not sure what happened, " De Souza said. "He's had a loose car all day and they thought they'd made some adjustments, but it didn't fix it. You could see from what happened it was nothing that would be a driver's fault.
We felt like we're not able to produce the effort we needed which would give him the opportunity to do the best he can, " De Souza said. "We want to do it properly. We'll look at everything involved, who's in charge, everything."
Suzuka could return in 2008UPDATE (GMM) Suzuka could return to the formula one calendar in 2008, after the Japanese grand prix was replaced this year by Fuji.
The specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport claims that there could be two races in Japan next season, following Bernie Ecclestone's realization of the true popularity of the figure-of-eight Suzuka layout and also pressure from its owner, the Honda Motor Co.
Ecclestone criticized Suzuka's ageing facilities before axing it for 2007, much to Toyota's delight after the carmaker refurbished the Fuji Speedway at considerable cost.
Suzuka's return next year would reinstate the Pacific Grand Prix; a term last used in 1995 when the circuit was twinned with a race in the Japanese city of Aida.
Auto Motor und Sport said Honda has agreed to "pay the bill" for Suzuka's return to the calendar -- a reputed $30m.
10/07/06 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone made a rare appearance at the Suzuka circuit this weekend, sparking paddock speculation that the Japanese venue might one day soon return to the calendar.
However, amid rumors of a 'Pacific Grand Prix' here perhaps in 2012, or a Germany-like alternating scheme before then, McLaren boss Ron Dennis slammed the circuit for not doing enough to fend off the advances of Fuji.
''In life if you want to hold on to something you have to work at it,'' the Briton told reporters, as he revealed that his room at the circuit hotel 'smells'.
F1 future bright in Malaysia, dark in Aus (GMM) The prospects for future grands prix in Australia continue to wane, but organizers of the F1 event in Malaysia insist that they are not also baulking at the thought of night racing.
Like the race at Albert Park, Malaysia's current GP contract expires in 2010.
But Sepang organizers have already received a draft of a five-year extension, which includes conditional clauses requiring Malaysia to floodlit the track near Kuala Lumpur.
"We are actually studying what kind of light that would be suitable, the security aspects - which will certainly be our top priority - and a few other things before anything can be firmed up," said Sepang chairman Mokhzani Mahathir, who explained that other upgrade works at the circuit are already in the pipeline.
The sentiment coming out of Australia, however, is vastly different, and worsened further on Wednesday when an auditor-general's report tabled in state parliament claimed that the benefits of the grand prix were now outweighed by the costs.
Victoria's deputy premier John Thwaites also suggested that the state government has not responded kindly to Bernie Ecclestone's pressure for a night race.
"He's trying to push the government in a particular way and the government's not prepared to just simply respond on the basis of being pushed," he insisted.
COT full time in 2008?UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today' announcement by NASCAR See Hot News article.
03/31/07 NASCAR isn't ready to decide after one weekend whether the Car of Tomorrow will be used for all tracks in 2008. NASCAR's current phase-in plan includes racing with the car of tomorrow in 16 races this year, 26 races in 2008 and then for the full schedule in 2009.
"What we do know is that it's terribly hard and it's very frustrating to run two different programs throughout a year," Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby said Friday. "So for most of the mechanics and the crew members and even a lot of the crew chiefs in the garage, they would prefer just going, just making the decision now.
"But for the same reason that the original rollout of the new car was three years - a three-year period, will be the same reason that ultimately decides whether '09 is gone and we're all in for '08 or not. That reason is the team owners, the guys that are writing the checks to build these things."
02/28/07 NASCAR officials won't rule out the possibility that the "car of tomorrow" might run full time in 2008 instead of another partial Nextel Cup season. With more than 50 Nextel Cup teams testing at Bristol Motor Speedway today in preparation for the new model's debut in the 2007 race, talk about the difficulty of teams and drivers competing with two models is growing. NASCAR officials have been hearing that for some time, and speculation has been rampant that the series would move up the schedule for running the model in all series races. The car of tomorrow will be used in 16 races this season and is currently slated for 26 of the 36 points races in 2008. "We're hearing a lot of talk already about it and understandably so," Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby said of changing to a full schedule with the model in 2008. "It's difficult to run the two programs. It's difficult for our side to run two programs knowing what rules apply to what car." Would the sanctioning body consider making that change? "If the garage says, 'Look we're all in,' we're all in," he said. SceneDaily.com
IRL turning blind eye toward cheatersUPDATE Dreyer & Reinbold Racing has been fined $25,000 for an illegal fuel mixture used in one of its cars during the first day of Indianapolis 500 qualifications.
Chief steward Brian Barnhart says the suspected team's explanation for the fuel violation was plausible, but he didn't accept it was unintentional.
The car had such a high percentage of methanol — 27 percent when none is allowed — that Brian Barnhart, chief administrator of the Indy Racing League, said the action couldn’t automatically be considered intentional. Barnhart said officials of the team claimed an inexperienced crew member used an old container of fuel to prior to the car practicing in the middle of the day on May 12. The presence of water in the fuel would support that, he said. More at Indy Star
05/21/07 Robin Miller reported on SPEED's Wind Tunnel Sunday night that Honda (not the IRL tech inspectors mind you) found some teams were cheating by injecting methanol into the engine. Robin claimed that the person who told him said it was not one of the 3 big teams (Penske/Ganassi/Andretti), but he would not say who it was.
Dave Despain asked the obvious question "If this was NASCAR, they'd be fining or excluding teams and making an example of them by holding a press conference and putting the engines up on display for all to see. Why is the IRL keeping a lid on it?" Robin's answer suggested that the IRL did not want to upset sponsors.
Honda apparently sent letters to all the teams telling them they were aware of the cheating and that if any further evidence of tampering was found to their engines, they'd lose their engines as they are all leased to the teams from Honda.
The question is how long was this cheating going on and why didn't the IRL make an example of these cheaters? Some say it must have been the AJ Foyt team, who the IRL treats with kid gloves. Recall AJ was one of the people encouraging Tony George to create the IRL, which has destroyed the sport. AJ is Tony's Godfather.
"All I'm going to say is that we saw methanol in the fuel and there was also some water involved so obviously it was to help create more power," said Robert Clarke, president of Honda Performance Development.
"I'm not going to say who was doing it or how they were doing it but we stopped it by removing the air temperature sensors from everybody's car.
Malaysia may also host night raceUPDATE "Staging an F1 race is an expensive affair for the Malaysian government... we have to see how well we can benefit from the event and what kind of development it can bring to motorsport in the country," said Azalina Othman Said.
"Ultimately our dream is to see more Malaysian F1 drivers in Formula One racing."
Mokhzani Mahathir, chairman of Sepang International Circuit, told Malaysia's Bernama news agency that they were already looking into the possibility of holding a night race (for fear of losing their F1 race because of pressure from Bernie Ecclestone).
"We are actually studying what kind of light would be suitable, the security aspects, which will certainly be our top priority, and a few other things before anything can be firmed up," he said.
05/12/07 (GMM) Malaysia could join F1 newcomer Singapore in hosting a floodlit night race as early as next season.
"Night races are among the new conditions in the contract," said the Sepang circuit's chairman Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir yesterday, according to the newspaper Straits Times.
It is reported that negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone for the new contract, ensuring the grand prix near Kuala Lumpur until 2015, were recently concluded, and it should be signed within a few weeks.
Mokhzani also played down Malaysia's widely-reported objections to the staging of a second F1 race in the region.
He said: "For Malaysia, the races will be held at the beginning of the season, while Singapore will have its towards the end of the season."
Prodrive-McLaren decision expected soonUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today as AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that the deal is done between Prodrive and McLaren. We await the formal announcement.
05/22/07 (GMM) A final decision about the likely linkup for 2008 between Prodrive and McLaren-Mercedes is expected within "two to four weeks".
That is the information of part time F1 test driver Gary Paffett, who is hoping to benefit from his association with Ron Dennis' Woking based team to make his grand prix debut.
The 26-year-old Briton is currently racing for Mercedes-Benz in the German touring car series (DTM).
David Richards is expected to publicly announce Prodrive's package for its first season of formula one - including partners and drivers - at the British grand prix in July.
Paffett suggested that Prodrive would benefit from signing him if Richards' new squad uses the current McLaren MP4-22 next season.
"I could race it without needing to do much testing," Paffett told the newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten.
He added: "I have known David (Richards) for a long time and he knows what I am capable of."
Chrysler sale may slow China deal Soon-to-be-single Chrysler is counting on international partnerships to develop a global presence, but the Auburn Hills automaker may be encountering difficulties with its first deal.
Chrysler is likely to face delays and may have to renegotiate an agreement with Chery Automobile Co. Ltd., a Chinese automaker that was to supply Chrysler with low-cost cars.
"When Feb. 14 happened, they were a little bit concerned," Chrysler spokesman Mike Aberlich said Monday, referring to DaimlerChrysler AG's mid-February declaration that it was considering a sale of Chrysler. It announced last week that Chrysler would be sold to Cerberus Capital Management.
The German newspaper Handelsblatt reported Monday that Chery wanted to re-examine the deal in light of the sale of Chrysler.
But Chrysler officials are confident that they'll keep the negotiations on track. "We're talking to Chery, and in the next week, we'll be talking to them quite a bit," Aberlich said. "We're confident that we're going to get things done, but perhaps we'll need a little extra time for introductions." More at Detroit News
DEI to keep Bud sponsorship? Speculation is that if Dale Earnhardt Jr. does indeed move to RCR next year to drive his father's black No. 3 Goodwrench Chevy then Budweiser could strike a new contract with DEI to stay with that team but at a reduced cost of course. With ratings and attendance flat or falling, NASCAR would like nothing better than for Jr. to be back in the No. 3.
Champ Car to switch to ethanol in 2008UPDATE #2 A reader writes, I find that I strongly agree AND disagree with your stand on Champ Car and E85. I totally agree that corn-based ethanol in not a tenable alternative fuel source. However, I DO believe that cellulose-based ethanol, may one day be an alternative to crude oil based fuels, but that will be years and millions of investment dollars from now. I do believe that E85 makes sense as a short term solution for Champ Car for reasons that you may not have considered. The most obvious is that it is at least less exotic than methanol, and potentially less corrosive. Since E85 is being touted by automakers and gasoline producers, a switch might help to bring a much needed associate sponsor into the series, and its hard to argue with anything that can do that. Obviously, E85 is not a long-term solution for anyone. I would be shocked if you will be able to find it at the pumps in 5 years, but who knows where Champ Car will be 5 years from now? Unless Cosworth is working on a turbo diesel engine, it may well be a good short term idea. Al MacKrell, San Antonio, TX
05/21/07 An opposing view to Gerald Forsythe and the IRL pro-ethanol faction.
05/21/07 Gerald Forsythe, the longtime Champ Car team owner and co-owner of the Champ Car organization is a champion of ethanol. Forsythe wants Champ Car to switch next year to ethanol E85 rather than the 100 percent ethanol which the IRL has adopted this year.
“I’m glad you picked up on the subject because it’s right in front of us,” Forsythe commented. Forsythe says there’s no debate that E85 (85 percent ethanol) is the blend that will dominate the market. “I don’t know why people are talking about E10 or E55, or even E100,” he remarked. “None of that is on the market. E85 is what’s going to be on the market. That’s what’s going to be promoted and I think that’s what Champ Car should be going to. It smells good and it’s more pleasant than gasoline or methanol and it’s going to be the most heavily marketed alternative fuel for quite a few years to come.”
The United States and Brazil are the world’s leading ethanol producers. In 2006, the USA surpassed Brazil to become the globe’s largest ethanol producer, manufacturing 4.8 million gallons compared to Brazil’s 4.5 million. Forsythe has an economic interest in ethanol’s success because he owns an interest in fourteen of the nation’s 116 biofuel processing plants.
“We have an interest in fourteen plants,” Forsythe commented. “We don’t own any of the plants outright. We have anywhere from ten to close to fifty percent interest in those plants. We don’t want to be the only owner because there’s an issue on the supply of corn. If you don’t have the farmers invested in it, there’s no obligation on their part to bring the corn to you.
Earnhardt Jr. to drive Daddy's No. 3 With NASCAR ratings sagging one rumor that's been circulating since Earnhardt announced he wouldn't return to Dale Earnhardt Inc. next season is that he could end up at Richard Childress Racing. Dale Earnhardt Sr. raced for Childress, which has fueled the speculation and what better way to grab more of daddy's fans than to be reunited with the black No. 3 car. RCR still holds the rights to the No. 3 and some think it was planned all along that Junior would eventually drive it.
"Dale is like family to me," Childress said. "I remember him from a kid growing up. He knows I'm always there for him. I want to give him the best advice and I'll support him wherever he goes. I'll support whatever he wants to do. We haven't talked since he made his decision. I just want him to take some time and look at whatever is out there. The time will come right when we'll talk. And if it's in the cards, whatever will be will be.
"Anyone would love to have Dale Jr. drive for them. I know that he would fit in our organization. Our drivers, I've talked to them. I know they would fit with him and the crew chiefs. It has to mix. It has to be positive not only for Dale Jr. to come over but for all our sponsors, all of our race teams, for everyone involved. And that's the same wherever he goes."
F1 season could start Feb. 1st Melbourne has an F1 deal until 2010, with options beyond that, but the deal is weighted heavily in Ecclestone's favor because of the demand that exists elsewhere for F1 events. Ecclestone says that he wants Melbourne to do something so "we can watch in Europe and other parts of the world at a respectable time rather than having to get up at three or four in the morning".
This is not as hard as it sounds. The Grand Prix Corporation in Melbourne says it is planning a feasibility study into a night event but that process has yet to begin and there is a difference between a race in the evening and one at night. The current Grand Prix start time in Australia is 1400, which means that it is 0500 in most of Europe and 0400 in the UK. A switch to a start time of 1900 would create a European start time of 1000, a much more civilized hour. A Grand Prix can only last a maximum of two hours. The problem is that sunset in Melbourne in March comes at 1930 and while there will be light for another half an hour to an hour, the race could not be guaranteed to finish before it was dark.
Should NASCAR be split into two divisions? Greg Erwin is one of the classic new-breed NASCAR crew chiefs, a full-fledged engineer (Clemson), as well as a graduate of stock-car racing’s School of Hard Knocks the past decade, a father of three and now facing what looks like a turning point in his upward-bound career.
It’s almost June, and NASCAR crews have been through the wringer the past several months. Even drivers are showing the distinct signs of burnout, coming remarkably early this year, an ailment that usually doesn’t strike hard until late July or early August.
So, Erwin is not alone in reassessing his life on the Nextel Cup trail. And he said that it’s time for NASCAR executives to consider reformatting the Cup tour to make it more user-friendly for the several thousand crewmen, officials, drivers and truckers who make it all happen.
Erwin, the crew chief for Robby Gordon and now his chief engineer, suggested that NASCAR create a two-division series - an American League/National League tour - with half the sport’s teams in one division and the other half in the other. That would open up the sport to more teams and more sponsors and more tracks, Erwin said.
NASCAR/Penske to lose Alltel? Alltel Corp. announced that it has signed a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by TPG Capital and GS Capital Partners (“GSCP”), in a transaction valued at approximately $27.5 billion. Alltel’s Board of Directors has unanimously approved the merger agreement after a comprehensive review of the company’s strategic options, and has recommended the approval of the transaction by Alltel’s shareholders. Completion of the transaction, which is currently expected to occur by the fourth quarter of 2007 or by the first quarter of 2008, is contingent upon customary closing conditions, including approval by Alltel's shareholders and certain regulatory approvals. Shareholders will be asked to vote on the proposed transaction at a special meeting that will be held on a date to be announced. Scott Ford, Alltel’s chief executive officer, will remain in his current role. Business Wire
Foyt may try to qualify A.J. Foyt Racing Team Director Larry Foyt underwent a driver's physical this week at Clarian Emergency Medical Center at IMS. Foyt drove in the last three Indianapolis 500's before stepping out of the cockpit this year to manage his father's team.
But does the physical indicate that Foyt is considering a return to the cockpit this weekend in a third A.J. Foyt entry, as a teammate to Darren Manning and Al Unser Jr.?
LARRY FOYT (Team director, A.J. Foyt Racing): "Well, you never know what's going to happen here. We've got the cars to where if my dad wanted to throw one in, I think that we could do it. I just wanted to be ready in case that happens, but I don't know. I probably won't because I don't want to do anything to take away from our 14 and 50 operations, but at the same time, if it looks like we can easily get in the field, it might be fun to do." (About factors into any decision to run a third car with Larry Foyt): "Well, we're probably just going to see what happens today and how fast people are going. I feel really confident that I could jump in and get up to 220 pretty quickly, but at the same time, our car is not quite ready so it would take a lot of work. It probably won't happen, but I just want to be ready just in case."
Earnhardt RCR or Hendrick Racing boundUPDATE Cross Hendrick Motorsports off the list of teams interested in signing Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Although he’s spoken to Earnhardt Jr., car owner Rick Hendrick said Saturday “there’s no room at the inn” for NASCAR’s most popular driver.
Earnhardt Jr. is leaving Dale Earnhardt Inc., his late father’s company, at the end of the season. He wants to stay with one of the top Chevrolet teams so he can contend for championships, and Hendrick is the best in NASCAR right now with eight wins in the past nine Nextel Cup races.
Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing are the next best Chevy teams, and both owners have indicated they are interested in speaking with Earnhardt Jr. Only Hendrick had been silent on the issue, but as he walked toward pit road before Saturday night’s Nextel All-Star Challenge, he said he was maxed out with four drivers right now and couldn’t fit Earnhardt in his stable.
“We’re good friends and I’ve talked to him, because I really want him to make the best decision and do the best thing for himself,” Hendrick told The Associated Press. “But right now, I’m full.” ThatsRacin.com
05/07/07 The “Robert Yates” NASCAR brand will remain a Ford brand, even in any merger with Dale Earnhardt Inc., according to sources familiar with the Yates-DEI negotiations.
However Earnhardt, who has been the heart of DEI, insisted he will be in Chevrolets again next season, no matter what.
Those two facts make the DEI-Yates negotiations peculiar, particularly since Earnhardt has been negotiating a new contract with DEI owner Teresa Earnhardt, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. demanding controlling interest in DEI.
If DEI officials are negotiating a possible switch to Ford, then Earnhardt would clearly appear to be not involved with those talks.
Which would mean if Yates and DEI do come to terms, it would almost certainly be a Yates-DEI merger without Earnhardt in the mix. There has been rampant speculation the past few days that Earnhardt may be moving to either Richard Childress’ Chevy team or Rick Hendrick’s Chevy team. Winston-Salem Journal
RCR to sign Burton to long-term deal Team owner Richard Childress will soon announce a new long-term contract with driver Jeff Burton. “Jeff and I have a plan that we are going to announce pretty soon,” Childress said Friday. “I am sure we will start talking to AT&T pretty soon. Jeff is very happy where he is at and I am very happy with Jeff. We will be making some announcements pretty soon.”
Red Bull team cheating with Flexi-wing With the ‘flexi-floor’ saga only just resolved, Formula One enters another phase of scrutiny and accusation in the form of the Red Bull RB3 rear wing. Although no official protest has been made, reports suggest that the wing will be thoroughly investigated at the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix. One F1 insider referred to the wing as ‘the most blatant example’ of flexing devices yet seen.
GM may ditch medium-duty truck business General Motors Corp., the largest U.S. automaker, may sell its medium-duty truck business as it focuses on making a profit from building cars and light trucks.
"We are considering options for our medium-duty truck business to better position the unit for growth," GM spokeswoman Melisa Tezanos said Wednesday. She wouldn't comment on potential buyers. GM doesn't break out the unit's financial results.
The unit last year built about 40,800 Chevrolet Kodiak, GMC TopKick and Isuzu T-Series models, for uses such as dump trucks and delivery vehicles. The Flint Journal reported this week that Navistar International Corp. may be interested in the Flint-based unit, which employs about 500 people. Roy Wiley, a spokesman for Warrenville, Ill.-based Navistar, declined to comment.
"This deal makes so much sense, I hope it gets done," Bear Stearns analyst Peter Nesvold said Wednesday.
He estimated that the medium-duty truck business has annual revenue of about $2 billion and is worth $450 million to $500 million. If Navistar were the buyer, the new production could add 50 cents to $1 a share to that company's earnings, he wrote in a report Tuesday. More at Detroit News
Spyker Cars to go belly up Spyker the car company (not the F1 team) is in real trouble. Victor Muller (CEO and Chairman of the board) has resigned and Michiel Mol (Spyker F1 team owner) has taken over for the time being ....Losses are huge. In fact they have never made any profit since Spyker Cars was launched in 2000. Until two weeks ago they had only built 7 cars this year.
Scott Speed to get the bootUPDATE (GMM) Toro Rosso's chiefs have now denied speculation that they are trying to pry Sebastian Vettel away from BMW and into the Faenza based team's 2007 driver lineup.
It was reported earlier this week that the teenaged German could replace America's Scott Speed as soon as the French GP in July.
A spokesman for his current employer BMW reacted at the time that the Munich based manufacturer does not "comment on speculation".
The rumor appeared credible, however, given Toro Rosso's less-than-secret disappointment with Speed, and the fact that Vettel remains under long term contract to Dietrich Mateschitz's Red Bull empire.
STR co-owner Gerhard Berger, however, bluntly told Sport Bild: "There is no plan to replace Speed."
And in the specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport, team principal Franz Tost is understood to have insisted that Toro Rosso is not attempting to lure Vettel from BMW.
05/15/07 (GMM) Starting at the French grand prix, Sebastian Vettel could replace Scott Speed at Toro Rosso for the rest of 2007.
That is the claim early this week of the specialist publication Motorsport Aktuell, which said team chiefs Gerhard Berger and Dietrich Mateschitz have already opened talks with BMW about releasing its contractual hold on the 19-year-old.
Vettel is the primary test and reserve driver for BMW-Sauber this year, but he remains under long term contract to Red Bull.
'Motorsport Aktuell' said STR are keen on signing Vettel for the balance of the season due to dissatisfaction with California's Speed.
BMW officials insisted that they would not "comment on speculation", while STR co-owner Berger is understood to have rejected the story.
Copenhagen eyes F1 race Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is currently conducting a design study into the possibility of a street race in the city. There are plenty of nice wide roads but the problem for Copenhagen is the money needed to compete with other Grand Prix promoters. The recent deals with Valencia and Singapore are believed to be costing the cities around $35m for the first year (in addition to construction costs) with a 10% increase in the fees for each year of the seven-year contract. This means that anyone serious about holding an F1 race needs $330m for fees, in addition to the construction and upkeep costs. Grandprix.com
MIS might not sell out Further evidence of NASCAR's declining popularity. Some 5 weeks out from their June NASCAR race, MIS is advertising on local media for their Sunday race. This is the race that sold out for some 18 years straight before last year. In addition, MIS removed some 5,000 seats for this year. This is in addition to TV ads during race broadcasts.
The commercials are something akin to Monster Truck / Mud Bog / Furniture Store Going Out Of Business Sale. The June event is sponsored by a local bank. Obviously, no national corporation wanted to pay for sponsoring the race, and the price went low enough that a local firm picked it up.
France family wants to take Grand-Am international Failing in the USA with minuscule crowds and low TV ratings, the France family is looking at possible international expansion of its sportscar series.
A Grand-Am adventure began on Sunday, May 6, as a group of officials, sponsors and members set out on an international motorcycle trek spanning four European countries. Beginning and ending in Munich, Germany, the group will find themselves riding some of the world's most exotic landscapes and meeting with executives from some of the world's most successful multi-national automotive corporations. The goal of the trip was to spread international awareness of the American motorsports scene, and to open doors for future corporate and competition-related connections. More.....
Overheard in Indy - 2UPDATE As we rumored over the weekend, John Andretti's deal to drive a third car for Panther Racing was confirmed Tuesday. He is the 33rd driver....assuming Milka Duno doesn't crash again and she does qualify. They will have to dial more wing into her car so she doesn't lose control again. It's sad to see what was once the greatest race in the world have so many mediocre drivers and to qualify you just need to show up and put in four laps without crashing....regardless of how slow you go.
05/12/07 Rumor has it that Panther Racing might run another car for John Andretti (Pictured right talking to Uncle Mario, photo by Tim Wohlford) on the 2nd weekend of qualifying. If he makes the race we hear Derrick Walker's Champ Car team might provide the pit service on race day.
And speaking of Champ Car, Eric Bachelart who is borderline able to keep his Champ Car team afloat was spotted with Andretti Green Racing's John Lopes in the Indy garage area today. Hmm.......maybe we'll see Bachelart move his team back to the IRL at some point in time.
The high-definition broadcast of Indy qualifying Saturday by ABC received a lot of kudos. Any racing series not broadcasting in high definition in today's day and age is doing a big disservice to its sponsors...whose logos show up so bright, clear and readable in high-definition.
More proof NASCAR manipulates racesUPDATE A reader adds, Isn't it interesting that more and more NASCAR drivers, especially more top name ones, are starting to complain about the dubious officiating that has been pervasive in NASCAR for decades? Even ones that have been the clear beneficiaries of such calls in the past? Again, the one thing NASCAR can't control is that race drivers are race drivers. They are competitive by nature and if they are pulling away from the field, so what? They want to be rewarded for the hard work of their crew and themselves for getting the setup on the car right. If they win, they want to know it was earned and not staged.
And NASCAR wonders why their ratings and attendance are dropping... Mika Malehorn, Annandale, Virginia
05/15/07 With high-profile drivers openly questioning officiating after Sunday's Dodge Avenger 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, NASCAR vice president for competition Robin Pemberton on Monday defended the sanctioning body.
"We stand by what we do and the calls that we make," Pemberton said. "Obviously, no matter what call we make people are going to be divided on whether it's right or wrong. But I feel we do a good job.
"We're going to march on and we're going to make the best calls possible for the entire field."
Winner Jeff Gordon and runner-up Denny Hamlin both leveled criticism at NASCAR about why a caution for debris on the track was not called in the final laps.
"There was somebody's entire fender and underbody on the race track," Hamlin said. "I saw that and I literally pumped my fist in the car because I knew a caution was going to come out. But no caution, and Hendrick (Motorsports) gets another break. I don't mean to open up another can of worms on that one."
It's not a new can. Tony Stewart, Hamlin's teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, said after he finished second to Gordon at Phoenix last month that NASCAR throws cautions for debris when there's no debris to manipulate competition, and he compared stock-car racing officiating to that seen in professional wrestling.
But it's not only the people finishing second who are questioning NASCAR.
"Absolutely (there) should have been a caution at the end," Gordon said after a fourth straight Hendrick victory and eighth in nine races. "But there shouldn't have been one before that when we really checked out and those guys never even had a chance at catching us. That comes back to the inconsistency." More at ThatsRacin.com
[Editor's Note: NASCAR not being consistent on debris yellows just goes to prove that they throw them only when they want to manipulate the finish. An entire fender on the track and no caution Sunday? We guess NASCAR liked the way the finish was looking and did not have to manipulate a thing.]
Martin to add more Cup races?UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Mark Martin added three races to his schedule on Tuesday, pushing his total to 26 events in 2007. Martin, running a partial schedule for Ginn Racing, tacked on races at Pocono, Richmond and Dover. ``The three races we've added are tracks where I typically enjoy racing,'' he said. ``We were already set to run the first race at those tracks and now we'll look forward to going back for a second time.''
05/15/07 Mark Martin is expanding his Cup schedule for Ginn Racing once again. Sources close to the driver said he will add the August 5 race at Pocono, the Sept. 8 race at Richmond and the Sept. 9 race at Dover to his schedule, bringing his part-time schedule total to 24 Cup points events. ESPN.com
Chrysler sale could mean end of Dodge in NASCARUPDATE DaimlerChrysler’s decision to sell majority ownership in Chrysler to the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management is not expected to affect Dodge Motorsports’ participation in the Nextel Cup series. In anticipation of the sell, Mike Accavitti, the director of Dodge Motorsports and Tom LaSorda, the chairman of DaimlerChrysler, visited with Dodge owners Ray Evernham, Chip Ganassi and Roger Penske at Bristol to reassure them of the company’s commitment. All the Dodge teams are locked up contractually through at least 2009. “We talked to everybody today,'’ Accavitti said. “The message is pretty consistent. We don’t intend on going anywhere.'’
05/14/07 The sale of Chrysler to Cerberus could prove interesting to NASCAR. Cerberus owns the car-rental companies National and Alamo, and last year led a consortium that purchased a 51 percent stake in the General Motors Acceptance Corporation, the financing arm of General Motors.
The problem with private equity firms such as Cerberus according to some labor unions and government officials is that the buyouts often include overhauls of companies that consist of massive cuts in jobs or benefits in effect stripping companies of their assets.
The American automobile giants General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler are all fighting big foreign competitors like Toyota. Earlier this year Toyota announced that they had surpassed GM in sales and for the first time in history became the largest seller of cars in the US.
One of the big questions will be the value of NASCAR to the new operation. If the new owners decide that they need their resources to fight GM and Toyota and that the loss from stock car racing outweighs its benefit, the rumor that Dodge is pulling out of the series may come to fruition. Cupscene.com
Gibbs to make changes on Hamlin's team Joe Gibbs Racing officials met Monday to discuss personnel changes after a pit road mishap cost #11-Denny Hamlin a victory at Darlington Raceway. Hamlin was critical of his crew after a pair of dropped lug nuts during a late pit stop cost him the race. Hamlin, who led a race-high 179 laps, was in second when he went into the pits but plummeted to 16th after the error. Although he rallied to finish second, he was furious after Sunday's race. "If we lose by 20-30 points when it comes down to the championship, we know exactly where we lost it, and that's on pit road," said Hamlin, who could have won three or four races this season if not for mechanical problems or mistakes on pit road. I gave away Phoenix, that's my fault. But there's two to three other races that we had the best car most all day, and even at the end, and just gave it away on pit road. Today was a prime example of that." The team met Monday to see if any changes should be made to a crew that helped Hamlin to two victories and a third-place finish in the Chase for the championship during last year's rookie season. Associated Press
Cerberus wins bid for ChryslerUPDATE DaimlerChrysler AG confirmed today that it will transfer a majority stake in the Chrysler Group to U.S. private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, dissolving the bumpy, trans-Atlantic auto merger formed nine years ago.
DaimlerChrysler said in a statement that it would retain a 19.9 percent stake in the Auburn Hills automaker, while Cerberus will contribute $7.4 billion in exchange for 80.1 percent of the new company, Chrysler Holding LLC.
"We're confident that we've found the solution that will create the greatest overall value -- both for Daimler and Chrysler," DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche said in a statement.
"With this transaction, we have created the right conditions for a new start for Chrysler and Daimler," he said.
05/14/07 Cerberus Capital Management has won an intense bidding war to buy DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group in what would be a landmark acquisition of a major automaker by a private-equity firm, according to people close to the sale process.
The deal follows marathon negotiations between New York-based Cerberus and DaimlerChrysler and is expected to be formally announced as soon as today.
DaimlerChrysler is said to have chosen Cerberus over bids by rival private-equity giant Blackstone Group and Canadian auto supplier Magna International Inc.
The sale agreement with Cerberus is expected to be contingent on final terms to be negotiated with DaimlerChrysler. No sale price was immediately known.
The firm earlier this year took 51 percent ownership of GMAC Financial Services, GM's former auto financing unit.
Cerberus is expected to fold Chrysler's financing arm into GMAC to create a powerhouse auto lending operation. More at Detroit News
Verstappen to test for Spyker?UPDATE (GMM) Holland's super-popular former F1 racer Jos Verstappen could return to official formula one action later this year.
It is reported in the Dutch press that the 35-year-old, who last drove for Minardi in 2003, is to possibly test for the Dutch team Spyker on the Friday of the Belgian grand prix in September (so instead of driving in the Champ Car race in his home country, he will drive on Friday in Belgium in what will amount to demonstration laps to get his huge fan base to come to the F1 race.).
The idea, which could also involve a private test, belongs to his long time sponsor Trust, and in Barcelona, team chief Michiel Mol confirmed that it is a possibility, according to the magazine Formule 1 Race Report.
"When I was asked about it, I immediately thought that it is a good idea," Mol said.
Spa-Francorchamps is the closest thing on the current formula one calendar to a home race for Dutch fans.
"At the moment this is just a discussion," Mol continued. "Nothing has been decided yet."
Mol insisted, however, that the news should not be interpreted as a move to oust Christijan Albers, who so far in 2007 has failed to shine alongside his rookie teammate Adrian Sutil.
But Verstappen insisted that he had "no idea" whether his Spyker ride is designed to put countryman Albers under pressure.
05/13/07 The whisper from Holland is that Jos Verstappen may get to test for Spyker in the course of the next few months. This rather odd move appears to be an attempt to promote the team (using someone other than Paris Hilton) and to spur Christijan Albers into better performances. The team would, in a perfect world run Giedo Van der Garde but he remains stuck in a contractual dispute at the moment and cannot drive for Spyker until a settlement can be found with Super Aguri. Grandprix.com
Earnhardt to reveal plans Tuesday According to inside AutoRacing1.com sources, on Tuesday at 1 PM, there will be a presentation in Charlotte, NC to unveil the new team, car and livery for Dale Earnhardt Jr!
All this talk of him driving for another team is all just a diversion. The issue at DEI is that he wanted at least 51% so that he had control right? Well he won't have control if he drives for another team owner so although we won't know the team for certain until Tuesday (perhaps our spies will know on Monday), our bet is that he'll expand his JR Motorsports Busch team to full Cup team status......so he has the control he wanted.
F1 to switch to high-def broadcasts According to autosport.com, Formula One looks set to be broadcast in High Definition sometime later this season. Plans are being put in place to upgrade the television cameras and production facilities that provide the world television feed to allow the HD footage to be available to F1's television broadcasters. NASCAR, IRL (Indy 500), Golf, Football, Soccer and most other professional sports have already made the switch.
NASCAR to penalize Earnhardt teamUPDATE During pre-race inspection Saturday at Darlington Raceway, the #8 Budweiser Chevy of Dale Earnhardt Jr. was found to have illegal brackets used to mount the rear wing on the Nextel Cup Series' new Car of Tomorrow, an infraction series director John Darby said could result in the first COT penalty. Officials forced the team to remove the brackets, then reattach the wing with a proper set. "We have specific blueprints for all the parts on the car," Darby said. "[Series officials] are a little sensitive to those parameters." Asked if doctoring the rear wing on the COT is a substantial no-no, Darby responded, "Yes." The infraction will not affect Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s starting position for the rain-delayed Dodge Avenger 500, Darby said. Darby said he plans to speak with #8 crew chief Tony Eury Jr. further next week. ESPN.com
05/13/07 While Dale Earnhardt Jr. waited out the rain in his motorhome, NASCAR inspectors found an illegal part on his Chevrolet. The rear wing on his Car of Tomorrow was mounted incorrectly, and NASCAR confiscated the brackets used to hold it in place during the pre-race inspection Saturday night at Darlington Raceway.
Will Ralf be out of F1 after 2007? (GMM) He will start Sunday's Spanish grand prix an embarrassing seventeenth on the grid, but Ralf Schumacher is refusing to give up on his pre-season goal of delivering Toyota's first ever race win in 2007.
The German has taken a recent walloping in the press for his uncompetitive start to the season, but 31-year-old Schumacher said in Barcelona that the TF107 is still capable of racing to the top step of the podium.
"We are only at the fourth race," Ralf told reporters at the Circuit de Catalunya, "and I am not losing faith."
With teammate Jarno Trulli still showing him up at grands prix, however - the Italian is sixth on the Spanish GP grid - Schumacher is facing the real possibility of finding nowhere to go in 2008.
But he said: "If we don't improve I have no concerns that it will affect where I might be next season.
"I am confident I will have a race seat somewhere, and we will let you know when the time comes."
2007 Renault a lemon? Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella doubts that he'll stand on the Formula 1 podium this year despite starting the season with high hopes at a team that won both championships in 2006 and 2005.
Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper quoted him as saying: "This Renault was born bad".
"Of course you can never rule anything out in F1, even winning with this car. But I don't think I'll be back on the podium in 2007."
Fisichella said: "I don't see any chance of winning a race. The aerodynamics are wrong. It's better to start straight away on the 2008 car than wasting time fixing a car born bad."
He said the 2007 car looked good in the wind tunnel pre-season but the reality on the circuit was different.
"Nobody expected to start the season like this," he said. "We even thought about bringing back the 2006 car but with these tires we wouldn't have achieved anything."
Overheard in Indy Rumor has it that Honda would love a second engine manufacturer to enter the IRL. Honda wants a chance to push their engineering staff, so the reasoning goes, and values that experience over the marketing value of Indy. The word is that there is an ongoing effort to make this happen.
Word here is that the Champ Car chassis is even worse than the Paul Tracy accident would lead us to believe. (Tracy broke his back with a very minor impact.) And, the word here is that they are unable to compete on ovals, even with a "kit" to convert them from road racing setups. Of course this is coming from the IRL camp to help justify their desire to not merge with Champ Car. Tim Wohlford reporting from Indy
Fuel strategy plays role for Hamilton, Kimi (GMM) Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen may both be out of place on the grid for Sunday's Spanish grand prix.
The duo qualified behind their respective McLaren and Ferrari teammates at the Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday, but there are suggestions that differing fuel strategies have played a role in the formation of the top grid placings.
Referring to the Ferrari pair, McLaren-Mercedes' Norbert Haug said in an interview with the broadcaster RTL: "Felipe Massa did a super job, but it would surprise me if he is on the same strategy of Kimi Raikkonen."
McLaren's Hamilton, meanwhile, spent a lot of time at the top of the practice time sheets in Barcelona prior to the qualifying hour, but had to settle for fourth on the grid -- the last of the 'big two' quartet.
He told the British broadcaster ITV: "We had a slightly different strategy than Fernando at least. I think we're in good shape for tomorrow.
"If you work it out, I was just as quick, if not maybe quicker. But we will see."
Imola unlikely to return in '08 - Bernie (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone on Saturday played down speculation that the possible return of Imola's San Marino GP next year might tip the 2008 calendar over the 20-race mark.
Asked by reporters in Barcelona if the Italian circuit would host a race next season after an absence in 2007, the F1 supremo shook his head: "I don't think so."
The 2008 calendar is still likely to be bursting at the seams, though, with Valencia and Singapore joining in and Suzuka wanting to host a new Pacific GP.
There are 17 races this year; a number settled on after the 19-race schedule of 2005 proved tiresome for the traveling fraternity and even caused some teams to consider installing relief race crews to cope with the load.
Bernie said: "We'll have to see how it all pans out, see how many races we really can sustain where everybody's happy and then take a look from there."
Earnhardt departure clears way for DEI/Yates mergerUPDATE #3 Doug Yates, co-owner of Robert Yates Racing, said talks about a merger or partnership with Dale Earnhardt Inc. are part of just one scenario his team is considering.
“We’re trying to do whatever we can do to get our team as strong as we can get it, so we’ve looked at a lot of situations, DEI being one of them,” Yates said. “They’ve talked to us and we’ve talked to them, plus there is other stuff.
“We haven’t gotten anywhere with that in particular. Actually, we’re getting really close to some things that we think are going to help our team take that next step and make it strong for a long time to come. Hopefully, we can put some of that stuff together.”
Yates said this week’s announcement that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will leave DEI at season’s end changes that potential equation.
“I think looking at DEI without Dale Jr. is a different situation,” Yates said.
“It doesn’t mean that it’s any better or any worse, it’s just different. ...I think it’s going to take a little while for everybody to realize how big a move that was for the sport and what that means to the sport and what that means to DEI and Dale Jr. going forward.”
Yates said that his team is committed to running Fords and he does not see that changing. If DEI would not shift from Chevrolets, he said that “is a deal breaker, I would guess.” ThatsRacin.com
[Editor's Note: Reeling Ford needs another good team in its fold like DEI so with Earnhardt gone expect this merger to happen with the 4-car team running Fords.]
04/30/07 In a bizarre twist to the Dale Earnhardt Jr. contract negotiations with Dale Earnhardt Inc., DEI’s John Story, one of the company’s managers, and Ford team owner Robert Yates say they have been in informal merger negotiations for the past month. That could mean that Earnhardt Jr. is one step closer to leaving DEI, possibly to join car owner Richard Childress, who led his father to six NASCAR championships. Or it could mean the third-generation racer could switch from Chevrolet to Ford or Toyota.
The first option would seem much more likely than the second. Or the potential switch could simply be an attempt to put pressure on Chevrolet to pump more money into DEI. Whatever the real situation, the news was surprising.
2008 heads for 20-race calendar (GMM) F1's calendar next year could boast an unprecedented twenty grands prix. Bernie Ecclestone has busily wrapped up new deals for 2008 with Valencia and Singapore, and rumors in Barcelona this weekend suggest that Suzuka could be back on next season's schedule with a race called the Pacific GP.
That would bring the 2008 total to twenty races, although it should be remembered that Magny Cours' place on the grid is in doubt.
"I would prefer 18, or 17, which is what we have now," said world champion Fernando Alonso at the Circuit de Catalunya.
He explained: "In 2005 there were 19 races and it was hard for everyone."
McLaren's Alonso also hit out at Ecclestone's plans for night racing in Singapore and possibly Malaysia.
He told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo: "For me it is impossible. What happens if the lights go out?
"We change good corners at Barcelona to improve the safety but then we try to organize street races in the dark, where it could rain, all the painted lines ..."
76-year-old Ecclestone, however, is adamant that Singapore, at the very least, will be a night race late next season.
He said during a teleconference: "I think we can drop the possibility of a day race."
Eury Jr. could follow Dale Jr. out of DEI Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s crew chief Tony Eury Jr. has an option in his contract that says if Earnhardt leaves he can leave too.
"My contract, when I signed up with DEI, I made it real clear that if Dale Jr. wasn’t my driver, I wanted to have an open contract to whether, you know...not saying that if Dale Jr. leaves, I’m outta here, you know? I just wanted to have it open where I could weigh my options, you know? The worst thing you can do is be standing there with a driver like Dale Earnhardt Jr...everybody knows he’s one of the best...then they come and they stick somebody in that’s just gonna be a ride-around. You know, you don’t want to be stuck in one of those situations. So I tried to make it real clear that that’s what I didn’t want to do. And you know, my heart....I want to be with Dale Jr., but I also want to take care of the guys that have took care of me so long."
Earnhardt Jr. to drive for RCRUPDATE Richard Childress said Friday morning at Darlington Raceway that he has not signed Dale Earnhardt, Jr., to drive for Richard Childress Racing and is giving the driver time and space to weigh his options. Along with Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing, RCR is considered one of three front-runners to sign Earnhardt, Jr. for 2008 and beyond, but the car owner emphatically denied that a deal already had been struck, has reported by at least three television stations Thursday. "Dale, Jr. just made a major decision in his career and in his life yesterday," Childress said Friday morning at Darlington. "And out of respect for Teresa (Dale Earnhardt, Inc. team owner Earnhardt), Dale, Jr. and this situation, let’s all give him some time to make the decisions that he needs to make and be fair. He’s got a lot of tough decisions to make coming up with the direction he’s going, and I just think it’s fair if we all let him have some space and some time to kind of think about what he wants to do in the future." Childress said that while he would welcome Earnhardt on his team, the two sides have not yet begun negotiations. "We will sit and talk, I’m sure," Childress said. "I’m hoping he’s considering us, but I think right now, we just give him some time and space to do is own due diligence on the race teams he’s looking at. I’ve been friends with the family for many years and I’m sure we’ll talk." As for television reports that a deal was already struck, Childress was categorical in his denials. "There’s nothing to it ... it’s way too soon to even talk about it," Childress said. SPEEDtv.com
05/11/07 Finding a new home for Dale Earnhardt Jr. could end less than a day after he announced plans to leave Dale Earnhardt Inc.
FOX8 News has confirmed Junior is negotiating late Thursday night with Richard Childress to join Richard Childress Racing. An announcement could come as early as Friday. Childress has scheduled a news conference Friday at Darlington Raceway, the site of Saturday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race.
Childress and Dale Earnhardt won six Nextel Cup championships before Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
Sports Director Rich Brenner has also confirmed the talks between Junior and Childress include plans for Earnhardt driving the #33 Chevrolet for RCR. Budweiser, the primary sponsor for Junior's No. 8 car with DEI, will follow him to his new race team.
In Thursday's news conference, Junior said he has hesitations about driving his father's No. 3. Junior's current car number (8) belongs to DEI. FOX8 News
Singapore GP confirmed for 2008UPDATE #11 (GMM) At a press conference on Friday, it was announced that Singapore will host a formula one grand prix for five years, starting in 2008.
The race will take place late in the season on a street circuit, but whether or not it will be a night event under floodlights has not yet been decided, an official for the government ministry of Trade and Industry said.
05/11/07 (GMM) The Singapore government will announce later on Friday whether it will help to fund a proposed formula one race in the Asian island city-state, wire reports said.
A statement from the country's Trade and Industry Ministry, scheduling a press conference for 5pm local time, confirmed the news, and other sources said an aide of the tycoon Ong Beng Seng - who has met with Bernie Ecclestone during the F1 negotiations - would be present.
It was reported this week that the chances for a street circuit night race had diminished because the government could not agree on how to help private organizers fund the $70 million project.
But other sources said the race had actually taken a step closer to fruition with the registration last Thursday of a company called Singapore GP Pte Ltd.
05/10/07 (GMM) Singapore has returned to the formula one headlines, amid confusion about the prospects for a grand prix in the Asian island city-state.
After a story appeared in the local Straits Times newspaper, it was widely reported that the chances for a night race on a street circuit had diminished because the government and private organizers could not agree on how to fund the $70 million project.
But another publication, the newspaper Today, headlined almost concurrently that the race had actually taken a "step closer" to fruition with the registration last Thursday of a company called Singapore GP Pte Ltd.
The news, alongside reports that the value of the company is $20m, "is seen as a signal that the much-waited announcement on the high-profile event is imminent," the newspaper said.
Some sources even suggest that an announcement about the race could come as early as this Sunday at the scene of the Spanish grand prix in Barcelona
03/28/07 Singapore's bid to host a Formula 1 (F1) Grand Prix race could come to a winning finish as soon as Friday, a newspaper reported Thursday. "There are just a few loose ends left in the deal to tie up," a source close to the negotiations told The Straits Times.
Downtown Singapore would be converted into a giant race track for one night a year. The deal would end two months of speculation and put the city-state on the map as one of the hosts for the world's most popular motorsport events.
Sources said that the first race could be held in either April or August 2008. It is estimated that 100 million Singapore dollars (65.7 million US dollars - wow, someone will lose a LOT of money!) is needed.
Mazda to sponsor Portland raceUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
05/09/07 The Champ Car World Series will announce this week that Mazda will be the title sponsor of its Grand Prix of Portland race on June 10, increasing Mazda’s already significant involvement in the series. Terms were not available. Joe’s Sports & Outdoor also is a presenting sponsor for the race.
Dale Jr. leaving DEIUPDATE #3 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that, during last night’s sponsor gathering, Earnhardt told fans that his plans for JR Motorsports might not include adding Nextel Cup cars and that his priority as a team owner is promoting young drivers and mechanics.
“I don’t want the company to get too big,” he said.
05/09/07 Dale Earnhardt Jr. officially will say goodbye to Dale Earnhardt Inc. on Thursday morning, Yahoo! Sports has learned.
A highly placed source within DEI as well as additional sources familiar with the situation told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday afternoon that both Junior and teammate Martin Truex Jr. will announce Thursday morning that they are leaving the DEI camp at the end of this season and will drive for Earnhardt's heretofore Busch Series operation, JR Motorsports.
Sirius Radio also reported late Wednesday afternoon that the Earnhardt/Truex split with DEI was a done deal and that the new Cup team entry will field Chevrolet chassis built by Hendrick Motorsports and will use Hendrick engines as well.
Sources tell Yahoo! Sports that Earnhardt Jr.'s primary sponsor, Budweiser, will follow Junior to JR Motorsports. Budweiser's contract with DEI is due to expire at the end of 2008, but Yahoo! Sports sources believe there are provisions within the contract for an early exit if Earnhardt Jr. does not drive the No. 8 Chevrolet for DEI.
The press conference, which is expected to be televised nationally, will take place at JR Motorsports headquarters in Mooresville, N.C., at 11 a.m. ET on Thursday. Yahoo! Sports
05/09/07 Hendrick Motorsports General Manager Marshall Carlson told Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway Tuesday that his team is fully stocked with drivers for 2008 and beyond, and that he has not spoken with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., about the possibility of joining the Hendrick stable. "We have four outstanding drivers in Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Casey Mears, and all of them are signed to long-term contracts," he said. "Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is obviously a very talented driver, but all of our seats are filled." Asked by host Dave Moody if that meant Hendrick would not be interested in Earnhardt under any circumstances, Carlson said, "I never say `never' in this business. Again, Dale is a very talented driver that any team would be interested in having in one of their cars. But we are extremely satisfied with our four driver/team combinations, and we have contracts in place for all our key players." Sirius: NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway
05/09/07 The efforts to sign Dale Earnhardt Jr. to a NASCAR driving contract for 2008 and beyond has reached a critical point, and the top two teams on Earnhardt’s list are the Chevrolet teams owned by Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick, according to men familiar with the negotiations. Earnhardt today is leaning toward a deal with Hendrick, largely because of Hendrick’s very strong engine program, sources here said yesterday. Earnhardt and veteran crew chief Tony Eury Jr., his cousin and close confidante as well as the man who has led him to many of his 17 Cup victories, have talked with both the Hendrick and Childress camps in recent weeks about the positives and negatives each team owner would have to offer, sources said yesterday. And Eury will have a major voice in the decision, because Earnhardt’s primary goal now, at age 32, is to win a championship. Winston Salem Journal
US Congress to take action against China and Japan WASHINGTON - The same day that Toyota Motor Co. reported record profits boosted by $2.4 billion from a weak Japanese yen, three U.S. House committees held an unusual joint hearing on how Congress should deal with currency manipulation by Japan and China.
Spearheaded by Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, the hearings come as Michigan lawmakers and Detroit automakers see an opening to press their case that Japan’s weak yen hurts the U.S. auto industry, and a growing swath of manufacturers say China has stolen business by capping the value of its yuan.
“The issue on the table today is not whether the United States needs to take action to respond to the interventionist policies of China and Japan in this key area, but what form that action should take,” Levin said.
Dale fired by RSPORTSUPDATE AutoRacing1.com has learned that this rumor is indeed 'fact' and we hear that CDW is furious. Given that, look for them to exit Champ Car as soon as they can. This ties into the rumor earlier today about one of Champ Car's best sponsors would exit the series. One can argue that CDW is by far the series best sponsor and the only one to activate their sponsorship in a fairly big way. BTW, we hear CDW is furious over a long list of issues with the RSPORTS arrangement.
05/09/07 According AutoRacing1.com sources team manager Jeremy Dale has been let go by the RSPORTS team.
Ford to sell test track Ford Motor Co. has decided to sell or significantly downsize its Arizona Proving Ground and is currently in talks with a prospective buyer.
"Nothing is finalized," said Ford spokesman Said Deep. "We're just talking with a potential bidder."
The 3,700-acre hot-weather testing facility near Lake Havasu is one of two test tracks the automaker maintains in Arizona. The site was a U.S. Army Air Corps training base during World War II and sits 1,950 feet above sea level. It employs about 200 workers.
Deep said the decision to sell or scale back operations there is a cost-cutting move and part of Ford's broader North American restructuring effort.
Here and there Word on the street is that we will hear some news today regarding one of Champ Car's key sponsors and it won't be good. For a series that has few sponsors, this has to result in heads rolling.....hearing that Bernie Ecclestone, sensing the huge growth potential in Asia, wants that market to himself and will create the GP3 series in Asia to drive out A1GP and is using the FIA to deny Champ Car their Zhuhai, China date.
FIA considers banning winglets (GMM) F1's governing body could be considering banning aerodynamic devices like winglets in a bid to improve the opportunity for passing, we have learned.
Drivers have complained more vocally than ever in 2007 as teams affix ever more efficient downforce-inspiring additions to their cars' bodywork, following the introduction of harder tires and tighter controls on engine development.
But the resulting disturbed air left in the cars' wake has made it even more difficult for drivers to get close enough to launch overtaking attempts.
According to whispers in F1 circles, the situation has led the FIA to contemplate banning auxiliary bodywork additions like winglets and flick-ups, after Max Mosley revealed recently that a working group on this issue is already in place.
Some experts are suggesting that Ferrari could already be trying to pre-empt the FIA's action, thereby maximizing development time for future models, by 'cleaning up' the sidepods of the F2007 with its updated car for the upcoming Spanish grand prix.
Williams' race driver Alex Wurz, however, told motorline.cc that he did not think the current direction of aerodynamic innovation had led to the difficulty of passing, compared to junior categories like GP2.
"The main reason is that the best drivers in the world are in formula one," he said, "and we make very few mistakes."
Japanese corporate culture hurting Honda and Toyota The failure of Jenson Button’s Honda has led to widespread speculation that there is a damaging schism between the research and development operation in Tochigi, Japan and the headquarters in Brackley, Northamptonshire.
Anyone who has spent time working with Japanese companies will provide testimony that for all the talent and dedication, there is considerable bureaucracy and a serious degree of decision-making inertia because of the cultural obsession with shame and failure.
Gary Anderson, the technical consultant to Autosport magazine and former Jordan technical director, said that he had significant problems getting decisions made when his cars were using Honda engines in 2001.
“I had to fly to Japan five times in five weeks and bang my hand on the table to get them to believe what I was telling them about the deficiencies in the engine,” he said. “They were cut off out there and could not get to grips with the fact that things were going wrong.”
Red Bull wants Vettel for 2009 (GMM) Sebastian Vettel could be the subject of a contractual tug-of-war in the not too distant future.
The 19-year-old teenager is fascinatingly also legally bound to Red Bull, and wears the energy drink company's colors on his helmet, despite currently testing for BMW-Sauber and being tipped for a bright future with the Hinwil based squad.
But while he is known in the paddock for enjoying the affection of BMW boss Mario Theissen, billionaire mogul Dietrich Mateschitz insisted this week that Vettel is likely to be in a Red Bull or Scuderia Toro Rosso cockpit in 2009.
"We have parked him for four years with BMW," the Austrian told Motorsport Aktuell magazine.
"We say he is our driver, BMW say he is theirs.
"There are contracts, and if we do the right things, he will be with us in 2009."
Ford family feud, will they let go of controlling interest? With the Ford Motor Co. mired in a dangerous decline, Ford family members gathered April 21 for a critical meeting on the company's future and their role as controlling shareholders of one of America's last great industrial dynasties.
But this gathering, held at Greenfield Village not far from Ford's world headquarters, was quite different from previous family summits because of the presence of two of Wall Street's hottest dealmakers, Joseph Perella and Peter Weinberg.
The Detroit News has learned that Ford family members invited Perella and Weinberg and considered hiring them to advise the family about its huge stock holdings in Ford Motor -- a clear sign of growing concern about the automaker's long-term prospects.
At the end of the meeting, the family voted not to hire Perella Weinberg Partners as independent outside advisers.
But with their stock sinking in value and the automaker on the skids as shareholders convene Thursday in Wilmington, Del., for their annual meeting, the Ford family's resolve to retain its 103-year ownership position is being tested as never before.
People close to the situation told The News that the tense meeting highlighted differences within the family, particularly between Ford Motor Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. and his older sister, Sheila Hamp, and her husband, Steven Hamp, who became Bill Ford Jr.'s chief-of-staff in 2005 and left the company last year. More at Detroit News
Ford may idle Cleveland plantsUPDATE Barely a year after workers agreed to concessions to guarantee new work at Ford Motor Co.'s foundry in Brook Park, the automaker announced Monday it will close that factory in 2009.
"We have seen commitments over the last 37 years not lived up to. The members are aware of that," said Whitey Bragg, building chairman of the 55-year-old casting plant for United Auto Workers Local 1250.
Joe Hinrichs, Ford's vice president for North American manufacturing, said the company is getting out of the foundry business altogether, sending that work to a series of suppliers in Canada, Europe and South America.
The company also will shut down one of two engine-manufacturing plants on the Brook Park campus for a year starting in about two weeks. Sales of vehicles using the 3-liter V-6 engines are too low to keep the plant running, Hinrichs said.
With about 1,200 workers, the casting plant is the oldest and largest of the Brook Park factories. Ford is again offering workers as much as $140,000 to leave the company voluntarily, and Hinrichs said it should be able to manage retirements and attrition over the next two years to avoid firing anyone.
Still, union leaders and members were upset by the decision. Cleveland.com
05/07/07 Ford Motor Co. is considering a year-long shutdown of one of the three plants in its Brook Park campus (Cleveland), union leaders said in a letter to members recently. Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1, a facility that makes 3-liter V-6 engines, would go down this month and stay idle until the second quarter of 2008.
Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari declined the comment on plans, and union leaders contacted Friday said no decisions have been made yet.
"Ford Motor Co. says idling Plant No. 1 will save the company $38 million, and that it fully intends to re-launch Plant No. 1 by the end of the second quarter of 2008," officers of the United Auto Workers Local 1250 said in a letter to members last week.
Ford has been phasing out use of the 3-liter V-6 over the past few years in favor of a more powerful 3.5-liter V-6 built in Lima, Ohio. Ford has tooled the local engine plant to also build the 3.5-liter motor, but it has not used that capability.
ISC Looking To Build A Speedway In Mexico? NASCAR Busch East Series driver Rogelio Lopez III said his family has been in talks with International Speedway Corporation about building a 1.5-mile oval in his hometown of Aguascalientes, Mexico. Lopez believes more drivers in Mexico today are looking to NASCAR rather than open wheel divisions.
“Now open wheel in Mexico is done,” said Lopez, who was at New Hampshire International Speedway Monday for a Busch East Series open test session. [Editor's Note: We predicted Champ Car would see the Mexico market shrivel up and die once they let NASCAR into Mexico City. With that said, with a good percentage on the population living off the land, there is not enough money in Mexico to support a proper NASCAR program either.]
The 14-event NASCAR Mexico Series kicked off its season April 1 at Autódromo Miguel E. Abed in Puebla, Mexico.
“Right now what we are trying to do is build some oval tracks [in Mexico],” Lopez said. “That’s what we need. . . . My family and [ISC] were trying to build a track in Aguascalientes. I don’t know what was the problem. Right now they have the land and they are doing the things to build the track right now. I think they are going to wait to build it in ."
Le Mans racer to be France's next Prime Minister Motorsport in France has been in the doldrums since the days when Guy Ligier had the ear of President Francois Mitterand and his team was supported by a string of government-controlled companies. That was back in the 1980s and since then a variety of laws have made it increasingly tough for French racing teams to compete at international level because of restrictions on sponsorships and the higher costs they incur compared to their European competitors.
That may be about to change with the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as the country's new president.
Sarkozy has already said that he is going to attack the restrictive 35-hour week employment law and reduce social charges and company taxes and make labor laws more flexible, to encourage employers to hire more staff.
This will give the country's entrepreneurs more incentive to create new businesses and could also mean that France's companies may also have more money available to use for sponsorship.
Sarkozy's election may also result in a much more positive approach to motorsport with the favorite to get the job of Prime Minister being Francois Fillon, the senator for the Le Mans region. Fillon is a member of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest and on the organization committee of the Le Mans 24 Hours. In addition to that he has competed in the classic Le Mans 24 Hours event and in a number of other classic road rallies and has attended most of the Le Mans 24 Hours for the last 50 years. He lists motorsport as one of his hobbies and, having worked in the Le Mans region in a number of different roles for the last 25 years, understands the enormous value of a big racing event.
The other piece of good news is that Francoise de Panafieu, who will run for Mayor of Paris next year, may also get a post in the new government, which will bolster her bid for the top job in Paris. A change of mayor is going to be necessary for there to be any chance of official support for a Grand Prix in the Paris area. More at Grandprix.com
Monteiro eyes Prodrive seat (GMM) F1 refugee Tiago Monteiro has set his sights on returning to formula one next year with Prodrive.
The Portuguese, who in 2005 and last year drove for the team known as Jordan, Midland and Spyker with significant private sponsorship, has taken shelter in 2007 in the FIA's world touring car series.
But Monteiro, 30, makes no secret of his desire to come back in 2008, and said David Richards' new team could be an ideal way to do it.
"A new team coming in does increase my chances," he told the Dutch magazine Formule 1 Race Report.
"There are some discussions with Prodrive, but it is difficult at the moment to say what my chances are."
However, Monteiro concedes as 'obvious' that if Prodrive does as expected link up with McLaren and Mercedes next year, team test drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett are first in line for the two race seats.
No plans for F1, but Penske eyes test trackUPDATE #2 Roger Penske appears ready to raise the stakes in the NASCAR poker game by building his own test track, according to NASCAR sources. Penske’s track, of uncertain size, would likely be on Mooresville land near his race shop.
Rival car owner Jack Roush once planned to build a test track of his own near Charlotte, but he ran into county political issues and gave up that project.
A Penske track would take testing to the next level. And presumably Penske would be leasing track testing time to rival teams. Winston-Salem Journal
01/31/07 "We haven't said how big it is, but it will be bigger than a half mile," Roger Penske explained. "We're not going into the track business; this would be a testing facility. We're looking to utilize the facility that we have here. We have the acreage here.
"We would be able to try some things here and we wouldn't need to go to other tracks. Travel today is expensive. This past year we probably spent a million and a half dollars just in testing from the standpoint of the track rentals and the transportation getting back and forth. This could be a real advantage for us.
"We have the land at no cost," he continued. "It is a matter of putting the asphalt down. Depending on the grade and all, and we would put up soft walls, and we'd like to have the capability like at the Ferrari test track to be able to pull a car into a shed that has all the engineering capabilities. We haven't estimated the costs yet, but when you think about paving a highway, we are basically going to pave a highway on our own property."
01/25/07 Roger Penske spoke last night at a media gathering at Penske Racing South and had these key remarks, including the hint he will build a test track outside the shop, considered the Taj Mahal of USA race shops:
OPENING REMARKS “Motorsports is a big business today, and I think you have to maximize all of your resources. We did that when we were in the speedway business. We certainly had the chance to partner with Bruton and obviously Speedway Motorsports. Today I think it’s about technology transfer. We hope with the amalgamation of all of our teams here at this shop in Mooresville (N.C.) we’ll be able to see the technology transferred from NASCAR to Busch and Indy car. When you look at a NASCAR car and you put a decal on it for the headlights and a couple of other things that make it a car, but underneath that body there’s a lot of work today. I think the real key to all racing teams’ successes when we moved into North Carolina we saw Hendrick, Roush, Ganassi and many other people who have been so successful. The Wood Brothers, Leonard and those folks have been my friends forever. We wanted to come here also and take advantage of a great work force and have the opportunity to go racing. We really have a great team of drivers. When I think back Ryan (Newman), that new point system would have been pretty good for us a couple of years ago. Rusty would say the same thing if he were here tonight.
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