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DATE News (chronologically)
06/29/12
nassprint
Kenseth to Gibbs? Penske?  UPDATE #5
Matt Kenseth doesn't have a 2013 ride. Could a Joe Gibbs car be in his future?
In lamenting the loss of driver Matt Kenseth from the Roush Fenway Racing fold and saying that in his opinion Kenseth "will be moving to the dark side," RFR co-owner Jack Roush appeared to shed considerable light on where Kenseth will be employed next.

“He will, from my point of view, be moving to the dark side. We will get through that. Personally we will be fine.”

JACK Roush, whose organization fields Ford race cars, has long made no secret of his loyalty to American-based manufacturers and his disdain for Toyota, the NASCAR manufacturer whose headquarters are located in Japan. Joe Gibbs Racing, which fields Toyotas, already had appeared to be the frontrunner in the Kenseth sweepstakes. Roush's comment all but seemed to confirm it. More ...

06/28/12
wrc
Toyota Considers Returning To The World Rally Championship In '14  Japanese automaker Toyota is considering a return to the World Rally Championship series in '14. Toyota left the WRC in '99 after winning 43 races, four construction titles and four driver championships to focus on its F1 involvement. Toyota discontinued its F1 involvement in '09 and is repositioning itself in motorsports.

Toyota Motorsports President Yoshiaki Kinoshita said, "We hope, we will be ready for a return in '14. Our goal is to put together a WRC program." Toyota's current focus is on its endurance program, which participates in the World Endurance Championship series. There, the company can test "its hybrid technology." Whether Toyota returns to the WRC or not depends on several factors, including a "solution to the WRC's financial troubles." Kinoshita said, "Nobody knows, what the economic future will look like", but "if our economic situation is exceptional, we could do both [WEC and WRC]"  Motorsport Total

06/28/12
f1
Engine dispute threatens F1 schism  Seven different winners from the first seven grands prix, an intensely competitive and wide-open championship battle, unpredictable races. On the surface, all is well with Formula 1. Behind the scenes, though, there is ferment.

At its heart is the planned introduction in 2014 of new rules, including new, energy-efficient, turbo-charged engines. The debate about whether this is wise or even possible in the current global financial climate has the potential to tear Formula 1 apart.

The new engines are being pushed strongly by governing body the FIA and have the support of the key manufacturers in Formula 1. But there are fears they will be much more expensive than the current 2.4-litre V8s and that the teams - the engine manufacturers' customers to a large degree - will not be able to afford them.  More ...

06/28/12
nassprint
FedEx Agrees To Multiyear Extension With Joe Gibbs Racing  UPDATE Hamlin said, “FedEx knows who they want driving their car. We typically try to do our deals together as a partnership, because that’s what it is between the three of us. As long as FedEx likes me, I know I want to be with Gibbs” USA TODAY.

06/28/12 At a time when other NASCAR sponsors are slashing the number of races they support, FedEx has agreed in principle to an extension with Joe Gibbs Racing that will see the company continue to support 30-plus Sprint Cup races for driver Denny Hamlin, sources familiar with negotiations said. Financial terms of the multiyear deal were not available, but FedEx will see a reduction in the estimated $20-25M it was spending to sponsor the No. 11 car.

FedEx signed its initial deal with JGR in '05. Hamlin has driven the FedEx car since he began racing full time in NASCAR’s Cup series in '06. FedEx’s renewal makes it one of only a handful of NASCAR team sponsors paying for more than 30 races. Others include NAPA Auto Parts, Miller Lite, Lowe’s and Menards. The shipping company’s decision to support 30-plus races runs contrary to an '11 trend that saw full-season primary sponsors like the Home Depot, UPS and Aflac cut the number of races they supported Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal.

06/27/12
f1
New Jersey, Mexico and Argentina  Bernie Ecclestone knows how to manipulate the media. It is not hard in most cases and he knows just how to tickle a journalistic ego. If these folk are stupid enough to think that they matter because he talks to them and they do not question what he says, then he gets the benefit of their self-importance while they erode their credibility in the industry and become seen as being monkeys who dance as Bernie grinds the organ.

Good for him. More ...

06/26/12
irl
Mann working on 3-race deal  Part-time IndyCar driver Pippa Mann confirmed publicly yesterday that she is working on a ride for Sonoma, Baltimore, and Fontana, though the team this would be with was not mentioned.
06/25/12
v8
Australian V8 Supercars racing "keen" for North American track  UPDATE Multiple sources have told Autoweek that the Circuit of the Americas, the under-construction road course near Austin, Texas, that is set to host its first Formula One race in November, will announce on Tuesday that the Australian V8 Supercars series will race there in 2013--likely on the same weekend as the nonpoints May NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway--in hopes of attracting some NASCAR stars.

The announcement is expected to feature at least one V8 Supercars driver, likely Mark “Frosty” Winterbottom, who was at the NASCAR road-course race on Sunday at Sonoma in California. Winterbottom, who drives a Ford Falcon in the series, visited with former V8 Supercars champion Marcos Ambrose--who now drives in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and was the pole sitter for the past two races--and with Ambrose's team owner, Richard Petty. Ambrose was the V8 Supercars champ in 2003 and 2004 before migrating to the United States to pursue a NASCAR career. More ...

06/25/12
irl
Overheard at Milwaukee - Saturday (China Replacement)  UPDATE #4 As we predicted below on 6/20/12, IndyCar will not replace the cancelled China race with today's announcement.

06/23/12 Quotes from Road America president George Bruggenthies about IndyCar racing at the Elkhart Lake, Wis., track in August suggest the decision hinges on money (like AR1.com stated in the previous update to this rumor). Bruggenthies told the Associated Press’ Chris Jenkins that the two sides are six figures apart. Bruggenthies wants a decision by Sunday night.

“It’s still on the table,” Bruggenthies said. Then comes the key part. “It’s a long shot,” he said.

IndyCar is believed to be asking for upwards of $1 million from promoters. Several tracks have said no, including Texas Motor Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and, in a roundabout way, Watkins Glen International. Bruggenthies’ offer apparently was well short of IndyCar’s number, and it’s difficult to argue with that. More ...

06/25/12
irl
Lotus gets help with IndyCar engine  UPDATE Lotus has been granted permission by IndyCar to make performance-based upgrades to its engine to help it close the gap to rivals Chevrolet and Honda. This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Series regulations provided one mid-season window in which manufacturers could submit a request to make performance upgrades to components that are otherwise frozen. According to the rules, the manufacturer must be able to demonstrate that has more than a 2.5 per cent deficit in power in order for its request to be considered.

Lotus has sought assistance from external engineering companies in its effort to identify the work that needs to be done to make its engine more competitive. It submitted its request for permission to upgrade last Monday, and Lotus IndyCar manager Olivier Picquenot confirmed at Iowa Speedway that IndyCar has given the green light. More ...

06/25/12
nassprint
Vickers could be auditioning for full ride at MWR  After three starts with Michael Waltrip Racing, #55-Brian Vickers has posted two top-five finishes. He'll return to the driver's seat at New Hampshire Motor Speedway next month after team owner Michael Waltrip runs the car at Kentucky and Daytona. Could it be an audition for a future seat with Waltrip? "Certainly," Waltrip said.

"We structured MWR and built our building and Toyota believes in the fact that we could have four teams one day. Certainly (it) is a possibility to add Brian to our driver lineup with a fourth team or even have him hang around another year, and if Mark ever gets done driving -- which I wouldn't wait around for Mark to quit if I was him. I would put something else in my contract if I was him, because Mark is probably going to do it a while."

Waltrip currently fields three full-time teams with #15-Clint Bowyer, #56-Martin Truex Jr. and Martin. FoxSports
06/24/12
f1
F1 to ban tire warmers to reduce cost  F1 teams are “considering the elimination of tire warmers" for the upcoming season in an effort to cut costs, according to Kerstin Hasenbichler of MOTORSPORT MAGAZIN. Governing body FIA and F1 teams are “currently in consultation to restructure regulations aimed at keeping costs as low as possible.” Eliminating tire warmers, which was also considered a few years ago but dropped because of safety concerns, would save teams money in both equipment expenditure and in freight costs. Pirelli Dir Paul Hembery would “welcome the elimination of tire warmers”, but made clear that this transition would need time. Hembery: “It would require a complete change of the composition [of tires].” Due to a very short time frame, Hembery would like to spread out the transition over two years. For '13, he suggested, "it could be possible to ban tire warmers on wet tires before a full-on ban on heating slicks for the following season  MOTORSPORT-MAGAZIN
06/24/12
f1
DRS slip could cost Schumacher Valencia podium  UPDATE
Schumacher keeps podium in Valencia
This rumor is downgraded to 'false'.  Michael Schumacher's 99-race wait for a podium finish ended in Valencia when he finished in third despite threats of a penalty. Starting 12th on the grid, the seven-time World Champion said that he didn't even realize he was in a podium position until he asked his pit wall after crossing the line.

"I didn't think about a podium at all," said the 43-year-old, who now holds the record for the oldest podium finisher since Jack Brabham in 1970. I asked my guys at the end of the race where I finished and when they told me third, I couldn't believe it. You lose count of where you are, it was busy at the end of the race." More ...

06/24/12
f1
Latest legality rumors follow Vettel's quali domination  
Sebastian Vettel
(GMM)  As Sebastian Vettel sped well clear of the otherwise tightly-bunched Valencia field in qualifying, the latest rumblings about the legality of his 2012 Red Bull began to grow louder.

A new Adrian Newey-penned floor has debuted on the RB8 this weekend, which according to some sources produces a kind of 'double diffuser' effect.

And veteran photographer Darren Heath said he heard from his regular trackside vantage point in practice "what sounds like off-throttle blowing" coming from German Vettel's car. More ...

06/23/12
nassprint
Sonoma may be Gordon's last Cup race of 2012  Robby Gordon, now 42, and a NASCAR headliner since 1991, as well as one of the world's premier off-road racers, says Sunday's Save Mart 350 will be his last NASCAR race of the year. And he's leaving his stock car future in some doubt, as he focuses on his own brand new racing series. Gordon has been idled since failing to qualify at Bristol in March. This weekend's race will be only his third of the year. He finished 41st at Daytona and 41st at Phoenix. Robby Gordon, curiously says he's not planning on running Watkins Glen, the tour's other road race, and a tour event that he won in 2003. And for a man who wears confidence like a driver's suit, and who exudes positive vibes, no matter what the situation, Robby Gordon here seems a bit up in the air.

"This could very easily be our last Cup race this year, but if it is, we'll be back at Daytona for 2013," Robby Gordon says. More ...

06/23/12
nassprint
Jerry Springer could sponsor Kurt Busch  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  Sponsorship between "The Jerry Springer Show" and Phoenix Racing was shot down on Thursday night. "Although the 'Springer' folks told us they are huge NASCAR and Kurt Busch fans, at this time they're going to pass on the sponsorship opportunity," said Phoenix Racing general manager Steve Barkdoll. "But they wished us good luck." Barkdoll said the popular talk show host was looking for a way to boost ratings and thought NASCAR could be the perfect avenue. Certainly, the colorful Phoenix Racing could have offered the perfect alliance.

06/10/12 OK, it's only in the proposal stages, but a NASCAR team might soon sport a car bearing a likeness of salacious TV talk-show host Jerry Springer. And fittingly, given recent events, the team involved is Phoenix Racing's #51, which typically is driven by NASCAR bad boy Kurt Busch. Phoenix Racing general manager Steve Barkdoll on Saturday showed FOXSports.com mock-ups of the #51 Chevy sponsored by "The Jerry Springer Show."

Before Darlington Raceway weekend, Springer representatives asked Phoenix Racing to submit a proposal for a possible sponsorship, and the team delivered an image of the green and white car bearing Springer's likeness and the show's logo on the hood. The Springer request came after Busch drove the #51 with a "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" paint scheme the previous week in the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.  Fox Sports
06/22/12
f1
Red Bull using 'double floor' at Valencia  
Are Vettel and Horner studying Red Bull's new Double Floor?
(GMM)  F1's big teams continue to stride ahead, with Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren using big car developments on the streets of Valencia on Friday.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said arguably the biggest development of all was seen on the Red Bull, whose designer Adrian Newey "has once again read the rules perfectly".

The report said the development is a sort of "double floor", opening up beneath the sidepods to improve airflow to the rear of the diffuser.

Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of Friday with the new rear end. More ...

06/21/12
f1
Twenty-three F1 races in 2013  The word on the street is that the FIA Formula 1 World Championship in 2013 could have 23 races. if the teams all sign up to the new Concorde Agreement by the end of the year. As I have reported before the current agreement allows for 17 races with three optional extras. The new deal appears to include 20 races with a number of possible extras. The big question is what will be in the calendar and what will not, given that not all of the races are financially healthy. Joe Saward
06/21/12
f1
'No problem' with Hamilton or Vettel at Ferrari - Alonso  
Alonso not afraid of anyone
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton at Ferrari?  It sounds unlikely, but the Spaniard on Thursday said he would have "no problem" pairing up again with his old McLaren sparring partner.

Ferrari number one Alonso also played a straight bat as reporters at Valencia probed him about boss Stefano Domenicali's suggestion that he and back-to-back world champion Sebastian Vettel could happily co-exist at Ferrari.

"After I won the title in '05 with Renault, people were saying I was already going to Ferrari and it took me five years, so maybe Seb will come in five years," he smiled. More ...

06/21/12
f1
Cosworth set to quit F1  (GMM)  Cosworth could be set to exit formula one.

Currently, with F1's existing V8 formula facing its final season in 2013, there are four engine suppliers on the grid -- Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Cosworth, the British independent.

But the rules are changing radically, as from 2014 cars and drivers must be powered by turbo V6s complemented by sophisticated KERS systems.

Late in 2011, there were rumblings Cosworth - left with just two customers this year in the form of struggling Marussia and HRT - might not be able to commit to expensive V6 research and development.

Indeed, even the viability of Cosworth staying around for the final V8 season has been the subject of recent paddock speculation. More ...

06/21/12
f1
Mexican GP set for 2013 return  UPDATE
CART drew almost 400,000 people to the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in 2002.  Today IndyCar is happy if they get 15,000 to 20,000 paid attendance at a Milwaukee, such is the damage done by the creation of the IRL
(GMM)  Mexico is not quite ready to confirm the country's return to the formula one calendar, key figure Carlos Slim has revealed.

We reported a month ago that the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in Mexico City, the scene of the last Mexican grand prix in 1992, is being lined up to host formula one again in 2013, replacing Valencia.

The original report in Spanish sports newspaper Marca said the race will be backed by many of Sauber driver Sergio Perez's sponsors, including billionaire Slim.

Telmex's Slim, however, told Marca this week that he cannot confirm the news. More ...

06/21/12
f1
Valencia looks set to drop off F1 calendar  (GMM)  If this weekend's Valencia street race is the Spanish city's last, the cries of disappointment will be barely heard.

Instead, the opposition to the race has been shrill in the build-up to the 2012 running.

A residents group calling itself 'Circuit Urba No' has published a letter to Fernando Alonso complaining bitterly that the race should be scrapped amid Spain's financial crisis.

"The grand prix creates an illusion of fantasy accessible to very few people," the letter to the Ferrari driver pleaded. More ...

06/20/12
irl
Roger Penske, Michigan International Speedway willing to bring IndyCar back  Birmingham, Michigan motorsports legend Roger Penske would throw his considerable support behind an IZOD IndyCar Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn in September -- should MIS and IndyCar agree to a deal -- according to one of his top aides.

On Monday, MIS president Roger Curtis said he was willing to undertake further talks with the Indianapolis-based open-wheel organization about returning to the Irish Hills.

Curtis confirmed with the Detroit Free Press on Monday that an IndyCar official had phoned him Saturday at MIS to discuss a replacement race, which is needed after IndyCar canceled its Aug. 19 event in China. More ...

06/20/12
f1
Ferrari now working on three F1 cars  
Alonso's Ferrari at Monaco
(GMM) Even Ferrari's huge resources are being tested in 2012, as the famous Italian team reportedly works on three different cars simultaneously.

That is the claim of the Spanish sports daily Marca, amid news the once-struggling F2012 car will enjoy yet another significant upgrade for the streets of Valencia this weekend.

The report said Ferrari will use a new front wing and floor at the European grand prix, whilst also rolling out upgrades to the rear wing and exhausts. More ...

06/20/12
f1
Lotus drivers safe, Vergne and Kobayashi not  
Jean-Eric Vergne's job on the line?
(GMM) Lotus' driver duo looks set to survive beyond the 2012 season, but Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and Kamui Kobayashi at Sauber could be in trouble.

At Lotus, Romain Grosjean has looked quick on his return to F1 following his abortive 2009 debut, but the reigning GP2 champion has also faced criticism for getting involved in too many incidents.

Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, initially impressed in 2012 after two years off the grid, but more recently he has struggled, is reportedly at odds with his engineers over the E20's steering, and according to Jacques Villeneuve even risks being "dropped". More ...

06/19/12
f1
Austin to add more seats due to huge demand  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today per the following press release.

We’ve been listening to our fans, and Circuit of The Americas has released thousands of new seats to the general public.

Turn 9 and Turn 11 West will be offered as Grandstand bleacher seating. These two extremely unique turns offer outstanding views of Formula 1 racing!

Turn 9 slopes toward Turn 10 (the second highest elevation) and gives an incredible view of the cars as they speed downhill towards Turn 11. More ...

06/19/12
nassprint
Could "Danica-Mania" Be Dying a Slow Death?  
Danica Patrick
NASCAR was hanging it's hat on the GoDaddy.com girl, Danica Patrick, in hopes of bringing more attention and fans to the sport. Perhaps, that was the case for a while, but the hype is diminishing.

Patrick has now put in the equivalent of one full NASCAR Nationwide Series with 38 points' races since her debut in 2010.

Though her performance has improved, she is still consistently running out of the top 10. She has been a victim of accidents that have caused some poor finishes. More ...

06/18/12
f1
'Customer cars' still possible in F1 for 2013  (GMM)  The 'customer car' issue in formula one might not be dead yet.

Just before last week's meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris, it emerged that proposals to allow big teams to sell full cars to their smaller F1 rivals had been talked down at the recent Canadian grand prix.

But Italy's Autosprint is reporting that the FIA "discussed the possibility" of allowing customer cars during last Friday's Paris meeting. More ...

06/18/12
automotive
f1
irl
Bahar to sue Lotus owner over sacking  
Dany Bahar
(GMM)  Dany Bahar, the sacked boss of former Lotus F1 Team sponsor Group Lotus, has reportedly decided to sue the struggling sports car maker.

The Turkish born Swiss was dismissed at the end of an investigation by Lotus' owner DRB-Hicom into Bahar's conduct.

That was amid rumors Bahar used Lotus funds to extensively refurbish his several houses. More ...

06/18/12
f1
Campbell allowed to keep $10m F1 stake  (GMM)  David Campbell's short-lived role in formula one netted him about $10 million, it has emerged.

Famous for transforming London's O2 Arena, Campbell was appointed by Bernie Ecclestone last year to succeed trackside advertising company Allsport and the Paddock Club's retiring Paddy McNally.

But earlier this year, a source was quoted by the Independent: "Bernie wanted to take the business in a different way, and that wasn't the basis on which we hired David." More ...

06/16/12
irl
Gribkowsky could admit F1 bribery  (GMM)  Gerhard Gribkowsky could be close to admitting his involvement in the F1 bribery affair involving Bernie Ecclestone.

The former banker has been at the centre of the scandal, with German prosecutors claiming he received millions in bribes from the F1 chief executive relating to the sport's sale years ago.

81-year-old Ecclestone, who was also under investigation and has appeared as a witness, claims he was "shaken down" by Gribkowsky. More ...

06/16/12
irl
Was Honda playing Possum?  A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1, Now that Indy has passed, with Honda the victor, success at Texas and Milwaukee qualifying, I wonder if Honda was playing possum prior to Indy? They received a turbo upgrade but maybe more importantly, lulled the Chevy camp into a false sense of superiority. I can see that Honda might be willing to tank the races prior to Indy so as not to show all their cards. After all, the Indy 500 is the prize. Having the motor competition in IndyCar this year is refreshing, even with Lotus being a complete wank. I'm hoping for Ford to join the fray with Cosworth next year. Do you see any conflict of interest if Cosworth is building the ECU also? Neil Komai

Dear Neil, Was Honda playing possum?  Maybe, but the update they did to their engines on Carb Day (when all teams were allowed an engine refresh) certainly bumped up their performance.  More than anything I think Honda is beating Chevy with better fuel mileage.  That is how they won races in CART and that is how they won so many races in F1 (Senna and Prost days).  Honda kicked Ilmor's butt in CART (Mercedes engine) so there is no reason to think they won't smoke the Chevy/Ilmor IndyCar engine.  They are relentless and are out to win, as it should be.  As for Cosworth, they do not make the ECU, that is supplied by McLaren.  Cosworth supplies the in-car steering wheel dashboard for all the IndyCars as well as the data collection (data logging) and analysis software the teams use to analyze the data output by the McLaren ECU.  The Cosworth system provides real-time wireless telemetry of the data between the car and the pits as well. Would this constitute a conflict of interest if Cosworth also enters the series as a engine builder for a Ford or other manufacturer?  In my opinion no because the Cosworth electronics are only collecting data and displaying it.  They are not doing anything to directly improve the performance of the race car.  Mark C.

06/16/12
irl
IndyCar looking at many venues to replace China  UPDATE #2
IndyCar is looking to end its 2012 season with possibly now two back-to-back races on 2-mile ovals (Fontana and Michigan) in front of near empty grandstands to make the series look like a loser twice in a row .  The above photo is from 2007, the last time IndyCar raced at Michigan.
IndyCar's search for a required 16th race this season turned Friday to at least one Midwestern venue.

Michigan International Speedway president Roger Curtis confirmed a call from a senior IndyCar official -- not CEO Randy Bernard -- but he declined to spend time on the matter given this weekend's NASCAR event at the track.

A track spokeswoman said Curtis would "get back to (IndyCar) in a couple of weeks."

The hole in IndyCar's schedule is the result of the cancellation of inaugural street circuit race in Qingdao, China. That race was scheduled for Aug. 19.

Contracts with several partners call for IndyCar to present 16 events in 2012, putting the pressure on the Indianapolis-based sanctioning body to deliver another event somewhere, sometime. More ...

06/15/12
irl
Overheard in Milwaukee - Friday  
Milwaukee Infield
A warm but nice day here in Milwaukee with a decent turnout of fans given it was a work day.  However, entrance was free today.  What the Andretti group has done for this event is remarkable.  When we arrived at the historic Mile this morning the track infield looked like nothing we had seen before.  It was completely transformed with concert stage area, a snake pit, a Midway, a family zone and a fan zone with Ferris Wheel.

IndyCar team Owner Michael Andretti, who last year established Andretti Sports Marketing, said, "I think we'll eventually help the sport grow. There are a lot of good agency-based groups that are involved in the industry, and we're the guys on the inside. Our sole focus is representing corporations involved in sports, and we have this niche specialty in racing" More ...

06/14/12
irl
Qingdao IndyCar race to be cancelled  UPDATE #6 A reader writes, Dear AR1.com , As a mandarin speaking American residing in Qingdao I have been following with interest the drama surrounding the race in Qingdao.  I decided to see what the real story is and contacted Yinxin Investment to ask whether the race was indeed cancelled because of a conflict with the Beer Festival, in which the answer was yes. Why?  They didn't want to run the race alongside the Beer Festival was because the local government did not feel comfortable to run the event having no prior knowledge of motorsport alongside the Beer Festival, the city's biggest event.  Simply the workload required along with the fear of screwing up on the international stage would have meant the city would have lost 'face' and looked to be made stupid.  As I dug a little deeper it became apparent that Yinxin are exploring two other cities (unknown) to stage the race sometime in September with a deadline by the end of June.    As we know now, time was simply just too tight and the event cancelled altogether.  Morris Johnson

06/13/12 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's news that the Qingdao mayor did not want the race this year during their big beer festival and so it was cancelled.

06/10/12 When in doubt, follow the money.  For the second time in a year, an Izod IndyCar Series race is "clouded in uncertainty," according to Tripp Mickle in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Sources said that the promoter of the series' August race in China has not paid a sanctioning fee, and the sanctioning body is considering moving the date of the race. Sources valued the sanctioning fee at $8-$10M. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard declined requests to speak about the China race. Bernard said during a news conference before IndyCar's recent race at Belle Isle in Michigan the race was not "100 percent" guaranteed. Bernard added, "We have a back-up plan. That's what's most important. But right now I want to make sure China has every opportunity to succeed. We continue to work with our promoter in China." The China race is scheduled for Aug. 19 in Qingdao, a city of 8.7 million along the East China Sea. The event is being promoted by Yinxin Investment and "trumpeted as the sport's first race in China." Several teams "hoped the race would open the opportunity to land new sponsorships with international companies interested in the Asian market or Asian-based companies," but team executives have not been able to put together sales pitches because of the uncertainty around the race SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/11 issue

06/10/12 As for the Aug. 19 race in Qingdao, China, Randy Bernard said a decision has to be made "within three or four days" on whether to make the trip. He said there are political forces working against the event. Indy Star [Editor's Note:  You know darn well that Bernie Ecclestone does not want IndyCar racing in China so we suspect he will do whatever it takes to make sure that race is cancelled, including greasing the new mayor's pockets.] More ...
06/14/12
f1
New F1 'customer cars' idea dead  (GMM)  A new 'customer car' plan for F1's future is dead in the water, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports.

Bernie Ecclestone revealed recently that he is planning to allow small teams to buy year-old customer cars in the next Concorde Agreement.

But the F1 chief executive acknowledged the dilemma that teams taking up that option would most likely all flock to the best constructors, resulting in a dearth of constructors on the grid.

"The way I'm imagining it, this would not be possible," Ecclestone said recently.  "I'll tell you about it soon." More ...

06/12/12
irl
IndyCar to rent TMS in 2013?  UPDATE #2 Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said he wants IndyCar Series officials to make a decision within two weeks about returning to TMS for the 2013 season.

"If they want to race here, let's race," Gossage said Monday. "If they don't, that's fine. We'll announce it tomorrow. No hard feelings. But I want to make a deal within a couple of weeks.

"I'm not going to let this linger like we did last year. My desire is for IndyCar to stay, but we have a plan in place either way."

IndyCar has raced at TMS every year since the speedway opened in 1997, including twice a year from 1998 through 2004. Most of the TMS races have produced the highest attendance in American open-wheel racing outside of the Indy 500. More ...

06/11/12
f1
Rossi will not be on the grid in Austin, but......  UPDATE Alexander Rossi has since told us he will not be on the grid in Austin but look for him to be the Friday driver for Caterham in Austin. We hear he will be Friday driver at two more events this year as well. As for next year, both existing Caterham drivers have contracts that are ending at the end of the current season so the window is open for Rossi to possibly get a full-time F1 ride in 2013.

06/11/12 Rumor has it that American Alexander Rossi, who is currently driving for Arden in the Renault FR 3.5 series, will be on the grid when F1 returns to the USA in Austin in November. Rossi is contracted to drive for the Caterham team and has already been the Friday driver at one GP. How do we know this? Well according to Sergio Perez at today's FOTA meeting AR1.com attended in Manhattan, Rossi told him that he will be given a shot in Austin. Rossi would not admit it to the media, however. He did say on the record that he hopes to land a full-time F1 ride in 2013.
06/10/12
irl
Andretti prepared to terminate Milwaukee if fans don't turn out  A big week awaits Michael Andretti, who owns a promotion company running next weekend's race at the Milwaukee Mile.

Indy cars have been racing in Milwaukee for nearly a century, but this could be the last go-around. Andretti said IndyFest, which is Friday and Saturday, needs a good showing to continue.

"If people don't come for this," he said, "they're not going to come out." More ...

06/10/12
irl
nassprint
Michael Andretti to NASCAR (or IndyCar) with Dodge?  UPDATE #9 Andretti continues to say he is interested in expanding his Indianapolis-based organization into NASCAR, but "nothing is even close to being concrete." He said the necessary funding hasn't been raised. "Would I like to do it? Yes," he said. "Is it likely? Probably not." Indy Star

05/31/12
With few options left in NASCAR, could Michael Andretti convince Dodge to switch to IndyCar with an engine designed and maintained by Cosworth? Dodge vs. Chevy vs. Honda in IndyCar could also entice Ford back into the game.
Three months after its NASCAR future was thrown into disarray by Penske Racing's impending departure to Ford, Dodge still seems without a firm plan for Sprint Cup in 2013.

Recent reports have linked the manufacturer to an IndyCar team moving into Cup and suggested Dodge could make an announcement in two weeks at Michigan International Speedway. But a Dodge executive said in a Wednesday statement to USA TODAY Sports that nothing has been finalized.

"We identified a process for the evaluation of the 2013 NASCAR program," said Beth Paretta, director of marketing and operations for Dodge's SRT brand and motor sports. "We are continuing to follow that process and are within our established timeline. We're pleased with the number of inquiries that have been received about the Dodge motor sports program and continue the evaluation process. As decisions are made, we will announce them at that time." More ...

06/09/12
irl
Are things that bad at IndyCar?  
IndyCar's website goes from bad to worse
Is IndyCar in such dire straits that it can no longer pay its web hosting bills?  Their website has gone from having partial timing and scoring session results for 2012 to absolutely none whatsoever now.

Their website is a primary means of getting information out to its fans, so when the data is blank it leaves the appearance that bills are not getting paid and send fans to NASCAR and F1 where something as rudimentary as this would never happen.
06/09/12
nassprint
Could Penske buy into Roush-Yates?  
Penske to buy Roush Yates?
While drivers and crews ponder the 'new' track and strategies, one of the hottest stories in the sport is being played out behind closed doors: The Roger Penske-Jack Roush dealing for 2013 is still being kept well hidden by both sides. Penske, after 10 years with Dodge, is switching to Fords at the end of the season, and what Penske will do for engines has been a big question in the NASCAR garage. Neither man has said much about how their talks have gone.

Roush has said he's willing to sell engines to Penske. But then Penske has his own engine operation, 80-men strong. The sense has been that Penske and Roush will likely be more competitors in 2013 than tight Ford teammates. And following that, it would seem unlikely that Penske would be willing to or interested in buying engines from such a powerful competitor. More ...
06/09/12
f1
Ecclestone thwarts Silverstone test plans  
Ecclestone forcing all teams to Abu Dhabi
(GMM)  F1 looks set to call off plans to relocate this year's 'young driver test' to Silverstone.

The original plans, with young and up-and-coming drivers able to get some running in November after the Abu Dhabi grand prix, were called into question due to the unusual calendar congestion at the end of the 2012 season.

So most teams - with the exception of Red Bull, Toro Rosso and McLaren - organized instead to run their young drivers at Silverstone in July. More ...

06/08/12
irl
Jeff Belskus will decide Randy Bernard's future  
Jeff Belskus
I go on vacation for a little over a week, and it seems like just about everything that could happen to IndyCar racing does happen.

The Indianapolis 500 produces one of its best races in recent memory and television ratings and revenue go up, gasp, all while Danica Patrick is racing in NASCAR.

All is rosy, right? Wrong. More ...

06/06/12
f1
Hungarian GP promoter dies, could jeopardize F1 race  
Tamas Frank
Is this the end of the Hungarian F1 GP after 27 consecutive years? Tamas Frank, the promoter and main driving force behind the Hungarian GP, has passed away at the age of 65.

A cloud has moved above the future of the Hungarian grand prix.

Tamas Frank, a Hungarian businessman and the driving force behind race promoter Hungaroring Sport Zrt, was found dead on Tuesday in his Budapest apartment.

Foreign language European media reports said the cause of the 65-year-old's death is not yet known. More ...

06/04/12
f1
Ecclestone duped F1 teams into signing new Concorde Agreement  They say that after you have talked to Bernie Ecclestone you had better check your pockets because it's likely they've been fleeced. 

Rumor has it that Bernie made sure that the Concorde Agreement got signed, setting one team up against the others, giving them the idea that there will be an IPO, when the shares have all but sold in January.

06/04/12
irl
IndyCar blows another overseas race?  Most overseas races CART, and now IndyCar, have had over the years either never materialized or have died.  It appears that the American series just does not know how to function on the international stage.  Now comes word that IndyCar is about to get another black eye as the Qingdao, China race may not happen.  It still to this day has yet to be announced to the Chinese people and we are less than 3 months from race day.  No sponsors, no ticket sales, nothing.

So after IndyCar finishes wiping the egg from their face again, what race might take its place since the IZOD contract requires a minimum of 16 races? More ...

06/03/12
nassprint
Restrictor Plates at Michigan?  A fully NASCAR Sprint Cup test will take place on June 14 at Michigan International Speedway. A new paving job has caused the front stretch speeds to hit 220, which is some 20 mph faster than the old front stretch speed. While MIS officials deny that Daytona-style restrictor plate cars will be used, certainly some aero measures will be taken. Such speeds were seen in the "Awesome Bill" era, but current insurance restrictions won't allow speeds that fast.

Tim Wohlford
AutoRacing1.com
06/03/12
f1
wec
Formula 1 powertrains for Le Mans in 2014  Racecar Engineering reports they have been shown documents laying out the framework for the 2014 LMP1 regulations. The biggest area of change is to the power trains of the cars, the engine maximum capacity will be increased to five liters from the current 3.7 liter maximum. Variable geometry turbochargers such as the one used by Audi on the R18 will be banned. The maximum boost pressure will be 4 bar, and the engines will not have air restrictors instead the cars will be limited on the energy they use per lap using a fuel flow meter such as the unit produced by Gill Sensors. Specifically it has been made clear that the new generation of Formula 1 V6 engines could be installed, which could give a Ferrari, Mercedes, PURE, Cosworth and Renault a short cut to Le Mans, as they would not have to develop a bespoke engine. More ...
06/02/12
nassprint
NASCAR may loosen testing ban  With a new Sprint Cup car coming in 2013 and an effort afoot to improve the product on the track, NASCAR is looking to add additional tests to next year's schedule. The current testing ban was announced at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November 2008 for the following season as part of the sanctioning body's effort at cost containment. Since then, testing has picked up as Goodyear rolls out new tire combinations for existing tracks or after tracks were repaved.

However, NASCAR is now considering lightening the ban - if it's amenable to teams. Adding five to seven test dates was one of several topics that have been broached with team "business types," according to vice president of competition Robin Pemberton. More ...

06/02/12
f1
Protestors to disrupt Canadian GP?  UPDATE The plans of the Montreal students to disrupt the Grand Prix are being advertised on posters around the city. These call for the students to gather at the Berri Metro station, on the yellow line (the only Metro that serves the Grand Prix) at 10.30 in the morning on Sunday, with the instruction not to board trains until a signal is given.

The poster features an unpleasant image from CART from 2001 when Alex Zanardi lost his legs when hit by Alex Tagliani at the Lausitzring in Germany. The picture has no relevance to F1 at all, beyond being two racing cars and is designed simply to draw attention to the poster. More ...

06/01/12
f1
Report links D'Ambrosio, Trulli, Perez and Sutil with Massa's Ferrari race seat  UPDATE #11 Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has poured cold water on speculation linking Sergio Perez with the team, saying the Mexican is too inexperienced for the Italian squad. 

Speaking at the FT luxury conference on Friday, di Montezemolo said Perez still needs more experience before he is a candidate for a drive at Ferrari.

"Perez is a good driver but to drive a Ferrari you need more experience," di Montezemolo was quoted as saying by Reuters.

"I think he is one of the potential best young drivers for the future but before putting a young driver in a Ferrari I need more experience and more results."

The Ferrari boss also denied that a decision on Massa's future had already being made.

"We never take a decision before the second half of the season." he added. More ...

06/01/12
IRL
USAC ride for EJ Viso?!  EJ Viso has long wanted to try out USAC sprint cars. On dirt. And now, due to AutoRacing1, he might get a chance.

USAC promoters told me on Pole Day that they could arrange a one-off for any IndyCar driver. Today, I caught up with EJ -- and he's definitely still interested. A quick phone call back to the promoters indicated they hadn't had second thoughts either.

In auto racing, such deals can be tricky, but one can hope that the auto racing planets will come into alignment, and EJ will get his chance.

- Tim Wohlford,
AutoRacing1.com
05/31/12
automotive
EV Battery Firm Circling the Drain?  UPDATE We just noticed this line in the update about the $250M DOE grant:

There are no substantive conditions attached to this award that would require repayment of amounts received if such conditions were not met.

What kind of circus are they running in DC?

05/31/12
Another government-funded “green” flop in the making?  Note the long list of State grants in addition to $250M of our federal tax dollars. 

It doesn’t mention that recall referenced is for Fisker.

A123 Systems 8K filing says substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern; status of grants and incentives.

05/31/12
irl
Chevy owners trying to push Bernard out  UPDATE #8 IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said he doesn't regret posting a tweet Tuesday night saying an IndyCar team owner is trying to get him fired.

"(I) didn't say anything hurtful or negative, just stating the facts," he wrote in a text message to The Indianapolis Star.

That team owner hasn't been identified, but Bernard said in his original tweet that the individual is "calling other" team owners.

"I have had several owners confirm this," Bernard wrote.

In a separate tweet, Bernard said the team owner is not Roger Penske. Bobby Rahal, Ed Carpenter and Jay Penske said Wednesday they are not involved. More ...

05/31/12
f1
Ecclestone hints at South African GP, might force NJ and Russia delay  UPDATE (GMM)  Organizers of next year's inaugural New Jersey street race have once again dismissed claims the event is in doubt.

Bernie Ecclestone said last month that the American grand prix could be pushed back to 2014.

And the F1 chief executive repeated his doubts this week, revealing the organizers are having trouble with "funds" and had therefore missed deadlines in the contract.

But when asked about Ecclestone's latest comments, a spokesman for the race, which would be played out amid the famous Manhattan skyline, insisted preparations are "precisely on schedule". More ...

05/30/12
f1
F1 headwear triggers rumors at Monaco  (GMM)  F1's excitable rumor-mill went into overdrive in Monaco simply because Michael Schumacher appeared without his cap.

The seven time world champion spoke at the FIA press conference on Wednesday without his usual brand-laden cap, sparking suggestions he had split with his personal sponsor.

"The reason was quite simple: he had just forgotten it and no one could get it to him in time," said Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Headwear was also a bone of contention for Fernando Alonso in Monaco, according to the German magazine.

When a journalist asked the Ferrari driver about his special gold helmet livery, Alonso hissed: "It's on my website."

When asked if he was in a bad mood, the Spaniard bit again: "No, but you're not prepared.  And we're here to talk about the race, not about my helmet."

05/28/12
irl
Lotus may as well pack it in  UPDATE Following a number of media queries, PROTON Holdings Berhad (PROTON) today confirmed that, following an operational review, Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus plc, Dany Bahar has been temporarily suspended from his role to facilitate an investigation into a complaint about his conduct made by Lotus’ penultimate parent company, DRB-HICOM Berhad.

In Mr. Bahar’s absence, Dato’ Lukman Ibrahim, Mr. Mohd Khalid Yusof and Mr. Aslam Farikullah (representatives of Lotus’ parent companies) have been authorized by Group Lotus plc’s board to handle and conduct the day-to-day management and affairs of the Lotus Group. They will be assisted by Mr. Rusman Zaihan. They have been authorized to take up these duties during the suspension period. More ...

05/28/12
f1
Alguersuari to Force India in 2013?  (GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari has refused to confirm or deny speculation he might be first in line should Force India have a driver vacancy for 2013.

El Mundo Deportivo, a Spanish newspaper the former Toro Rosso driver now writes a column for, mentioned that the Force India rumor had circulated in the Monte Carlo paddock at the weekend.

When posed to Alguersuari, the 22-year-old answered: "I have said that I will be in the world championship in 2013, but I did not say where and I will not tell you now." More ...

05/27/12
nassprint
Everything happens in NASCAR for a reason  A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, Isn't amazing how transparent NASCAR has become lately? First Congress starts to question the continued value of the military services sponsoring NASCAR teams in the day and age of fiscal austerity and economic struggles, which could seriously threaten the existence of several teams then the next thing you know, a car sponsored by the Air Force suddenly sits on the pole of the next NASCAR race on Memorial Day weekend of all weekends. If NASCAR pulls the same stunt they usually do with staged poles and Almirola quickly drops to the middle or back of the pack, it does nothing but dishonors our servicemen and women by awarding the Air Force sponsor a pole as nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Keep up the great coverage, and from the proud son of a veteran my prayers go out to the families of those who lost men and women in service of their country. --Mika Malehorn
05/27/12
irl
Overheard at Indy  Well the 96th running of the Indy 500 is upon us and we're in for a barnburner of a race.  The new cars plow such a large hole in the air the trailing cars can slingshot past much easier now.  Look for a possible record lead changes this year’s  Let's hope the fans can stand the heat on Sunday.  It's going to be a scorcher with 95 degree temperatures and high humidity.  And don't think the drivers won't be feeling it with their stifling drivers suits and helmets.  Staying hydrated will be the key to keeping their mind focused behind the wheel.

Jim Nabors won't be here today, but he prerecorded Back Home in Indiana and the recording will be played just before the race begins.  We hear Nabors will be getting a heart valve replacement this coming week.  We wish him well.

Don't look for IndyCar to return to Surfers Paradise anytime soon.  We hear the new light rail train system going in cuts the length of the circuit considerable.  As for those rumors of Perth being interested, well our Australian sources say don't hold your breath.  We still maintain that Adelaide would be the best place for IndyCar to race in Australia, but the V8 Supercars have a lock on that street circuit and we doubt they would let IndyCar in on their party. Would Adelaide run two race weekends a year? More ...

05/25/12
irl
IndyCar eyeing Road America and Road Atlanta  UPDATE #2
Will IndyCar return to Road America where CART once saw big crowds?
Here’s what the principals had to say about IndyCar’s change in approach to Road America as it concentrates on rebuilding the event at the Milwaukee Mile.

(Andretti’s group is promoting Milwaukee IndyFest June 15-16. Bruggenthies is the president at Road America, the Elkhart Lake, Wis., road course that had had numerous discussions with IndyCar about a race.)

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard:

“I get a lot of questions, When are you going back to Elkhart Lake? I think we owe it to Michael Andretti who is laying out a lot of money to make that event successful. He has asked us not to rush Road America right now, let me try to succeed here. He's all for it. He loves Road America. More ...

05/25/12
f1
CVC to sell 20pc of F1 for $2bn ahead of IPO  UPDATE #3 Businessman Peter Brabeck, celebrating his appointment as Formula One chairman on Friday, said the motor racing series had not made a decision on whether to proceed with a much discussed $10 billion listing on the stock market in Singapore.

Speaking to Reuters over a trackside lunch with Formula One commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone also in attendance, Brabeck said the business had a plan in hand to replace the octogenarian Ecclestone but hoped it would not be needed for a number of years yet.

"He has a fantastic motivation. He has very good health," said Brabeck, who is chairman of Swiss food group Nestle and was confirmed in the Formula One role at a board meeting in Monaco on Friday. More ...

05/25/12
f1
All F1 teams have signed Concorde  Bernie Ecclestone has all but confirmed that the twelve Formula 1 teams have signed the latest version of the Concorde Agreement, committing themselves to the World Championship up to and including the 2020 season. However Mercedes-Benz, which was widely known not to have agreed thus far, is yet to verify the news itself.

With the Concorde binding the teams, commercial rights holder Ecclestone and motorsport governing body the FIA, the latest version is set to come into force for 2013. It is believed Mercedes was yet to sign up as it disagreed with financial percentages handed out to the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull. More ...
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