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Ferrari fires aerodynamic boss IleyUPDATE (GMM) Ferrari has dismissed its head of aerodynamics and wind tunnel John Iley, Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Wednesday. The specialist newspaper said it is the lack of competitiveness of this year's F60 that moved the famous Maranello team to oust the Briton, and that the removal of other key staff cannot be ruled out.
La Gazzetta said a "serious" mistake in the area of the aerodynamics has been identified as the root of the 2009 car's problems.
41-year-old Iley, who joined Ferrari from Renault in 2004, reportedly reached an agreement with the team after the German grand prix for an immediate departure. It has been agreed that he will not join a rival team for at least six months, but is already being linked with a return to working with former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn.
Iley's responsibilities for the time being have been taken over by Nicholas Tombazis.
07/22/09 Gazzetta dello Sport, the leading Italian sports newspaper, is reporting that Ferrari's head of aerodynamics John Iley has left the team, following the failure of the F60 to be as competitive as earlier machinery. The first wind tunnel models of the 2010 car are now being prepared for testing and it seems that Ferrari may now decide to put most of its efforts into this as the F60 has only improved a little since the start of the year. Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen consistently report that the car lacks downforce. It is anticipated that Iley will have to spend the next six months on "gardening leave" and so will not be available to other teams for the 2010 cars. The 41-year-old Englishman has been with Ferrari since 2004 when he was hired from Renault. It is not yet clear who will take over the role at Maranello but Nic Tombazis could step into the role. The departure of Iley is the second major shake-up of staff at Ferrari in recent months, following the removal of head of racing operations Luca Baldisserri. This is a clear sign that Ferrari is not willing to drift back into also-ran status.
IRL's asking price too highUPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, So the IRL is worth more than NASCAR? Sprint is at 7.5 Million per year over 10 years for NASCAR. Someone is smoking something hallucinogenic over there. $9-10 Mil? Are they insane?
They are probably getting that number from previous years and series that a title series sponsor will typically pay about the same or a little bit more than a top team's budget.
John Menard made a pretty fair offer, but it has issues.
But IRL's dismal TV package just kills any chance of landing a huge sponsor. Especially with Versus at a 10 year deal. Keep in mind that NASCAR also has a TV package they make a ton of money off of as well, and adds value to that series sponsorship.
That could be the hidden message here. Maybe taking his $2-3 million would be great, but its not enough. It's like someone being $10,000 behind on their mortgage, and you offer to give them $3,000. That's quite generous, but they would still be losing their home...so what good does it do?
That is the hidden message I am worried about... More ...
She towered over Bernie in height and now Slavica's hammering Bernie down a peg or two in the media
Celebrating a divorce has become fashionable, but not many ex-wives are able to celebrate it with quite the flourish of the former Mrs. Bernie Ecclestone.
I can reveal that the statuesque Slavica is marking her new freedom by taking delivery of a £36.5 million private jet. And, of course, it is bigger than Bernie's.
Slavica, 51, who despite her control of the family's £2.4bn fortune lives in a relatively modest two-bedroom flat in Knightsbridge, has taken possession of a top-of-the-range Gulfstream G550 which boasts every conceivable luxury and is able to fly from London to Singapore without refueling.
'More importantly, it is twice the size of her ex-husband's jet,' says a friend. 'It has two bathrooms and two bedrooms. She is always travelling to faraway places like India, Morocco and South America, and she supports an orphanage in Brazil.' More ...
Dallara will have competition Recall that during the Watkins Glen race weekend we asked IRL President Brian Barnhart why he was going to sole source the new IndyCar chassis to Dallara as he stated previously (we have the proof he indeed said that). We asked why on earth would you sole source such a contract instead of putting it out to bid to the lowest bidder so the teams get the best price? Having been put on the spot he stumbled over his words and then stated he never said it would be sole sourced to Dallara. Of course he would say that because he and everyone else in the room knew we were right.
Well lo and behold it must be working. Robin Miller reported on Wind Tunnel Sunday night that Dallara is supposedly mad because they don't know whether they'll be the selected chassis builder for the 2012 IndyCar.
Fiat eyes IndyCar?UPDATE #2 Robin Miller speculated on Wind Tunnel Sunday night that it is unlikely IndyCar will see multiple engine manufacturers. Apparently FIAT is the only manufacturer that has interest outside of Honda. But FIAT wants to be the sole engine manufacturer for IndyCar. However, we hear that VW still has some interest, but only if it is a 4-cyclinder turbo engine.
06/28/09 This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' as it was all a ploy by Ferrari for F1 political reasons. However, we hear parent company Fiat may want in.
06/15/09 Luca di Montezemolo shocked the reporters' pack at Le Mans, as he hinted the Indy 500 as a possible destination for Ferrari in case of a breakup with the FOTA constructors and failure in getting an agreement with FIA. The arrival of Ferrari would require rule changes, Montezemolo said, though it'll be a viable option.
Henry Surtees killedUPDATE A spokesperson for the hospital this evening confirmed that Surtees had died from his injuries.
07/19/09 We just saw a post on the youtube video of the crash that it was announced that Henry Surtees is dead from injuries sustained in today's F2 race at Brands Hatch. Supposedly came from spectators at the event... We certainly hope this report is false.
Two venues may share British GP - Ecclestone (GMM) The darkest cloud yet has just moved above the health of Donington's plans to host the next 17 British grands prix.
At Britain's formula one round last month, having previously ruled out ever returning to Silverstone, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone revealed that if Donington is not ready to take over in 2010, the Northamptonshire venue will step in.
Now, the 78-year-old Briton concedes that Donington's chances of even hosting the race every year in 2011 and beyond are in doubt.
Amid speculation Donington CEO Simon Gillett is struggling to pull together the funding for his F1 project, Ecclestone raised the prospect of a scheme whereby the two British circuits annually alternate hosting the British GP.
"If they don't do it, Donington will get together with Silverstone," he told the Independent on Sunday newspaper. More ...
Said to drive full time for Clark Boris Said would love to be driving full time in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. But most of all, the tall Californian with the trademark head of big curly hair just wants to race. So this weekend fans at Barber Motorsports Park can catch the veteran Said driving a bright yellow and blue BMW in the Koni GS Series as co-driver with Matt Bell, one of road-racing's brightest young talents. Said -- whose fans wear big curly wigs and called themselves Said Heads -- is known to NASCAR fans as a road-racing specialist -- and he'll be back at Watkins Glen for the Cup's second road-course race. Said expects to finalize a merger between his own No Fear team and Rick Clark Motorsports. Plans for the merger were announced in February at Daytona but were held up until now. "It didn't get done yet because the economy slowed us down, the lawyers slowed us down," Said said. "I think we're going to have it done next week." The intention is to run a full time schedule, but that depends -- as it usually does in these economic times -- on sponsorship. Said has his fingers crossed about that but says he's "a glass half-empty guy" on such things. "They're trying really hard to do the whole season," he said. "We're going to do as much as we can." Alabama Live
McDowell will lose his ride after Gateway race When Michael McDowell takes the checkered flag tonight in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Dodge Dealers 250 at Gateway International Raceway, the race may mark the premature end of his season.
McDowell, 24 of Phoenix, Ariz., will be without a ride after running the first 17 races of the season in the No. 47 Toyota Camry with JTG-Daugherty Racing and the last two events with MacDonald Motorsports.
"We had a great season with JTG-Daughtery racing and we were fortunate to do as many races as we were able to do," McDowell said. "It's obviously very difficult times and everybody did a great job. We knew going into it that we only had 17 races. More ...
Vettel also in Ferrari's sightsUPDATE (GMM) Stefano Domenicali has refused to rule out the possibility that Sebastian Vettel will one day reside a Ferrari cockpit.
The widespread rumor of the moment is that Fernando Alonso is the closest outsider to a seat with the famous Italian team.
But when asked about 22-year-old Vettel, a two-time winner in 2009 for Red Bull Racing, Ferrari's team principal answered: "Never say never.
"I like him very much; his character is very positive and independent," Ferrari's team principal said of the German youngster.
"For his age he is far ahead both technically and mentally," Domenicali told Germany's Auto Bild.
The Italian acknowledged that Michael Schumacher, Ferrari's most successful driver in history and now an advisor to the Maranello team, holds his compatriot in high regard.
"He has no doubts about how good Sebastian is," Domenicali said.
Domenicali was cautious when asked about the candidacy as the FIA's next president of Jean Todt, his predecessor as Ferrari team principal.
"Jean was my boss and I know that he was very good when it came to matters about formula one. More I cannot say," he answered.
07/02/09 (GMM) Earlier this week, perhaps because formula one is in a rare news trough, a report in the newspaper Diario AS caused an international stir.
The Spanish publication named September 11 2009 as the date on which Fernando Alonso will perhaps be unveiled as a Ferrari driver for the next five world championships.
But also in the report was the suggestion that the Italian team may be planning a wholesale change, with Sebastian Vettel also in its sights.
The Vettel element of the story was picked up by Germany's major daily Bild, adding that Bernie Ecclestone is also keen to see the 21-year-old in a red car but that it might not happen for contractual reasons until 2011.
Red Bull's Christian Horner said: "Bernie is sort of like Sebastian's secret manager. He likes him very much and watches out for him.
"But why would Sebastian want to leave us? At the moment we're at the front and Ferrari are not," the team boss added.
Yates Racing renew same drivers for 2010 Yates Racing team co-owner Max Jones says he hasn’t soured on his driver lineup despite having seen some good days go bad and some bad days remain bad. “I won’t say I’m disappointed, but it’s not the outcome we were hoping for the first half of the year,” Jones says. “We’ve had some good runs from both teams, but we haven’t been consistent enough. We have a lot of work to do. … When we’ve had good cars and we’ve run up [near the] front, we haven’t been able to close the deal, and that’s what hurt us.” After a first year at Yates Racing where Travis Kvapil finished 23rd in points and David Gilliland was 27th in a pair of underfunded cars, Jones’ expectations rose with Menard bringing his family sponsorship and Hall of Fame Racing providing the Ask.com sponsorship with Labonte as the driver. The team has an alliance with Roush Fenway Racing and is housed in a building next to the Roush Fenway campus and gets its cars as well as technological and marketing help from the organization. “Everybody’s frustrated,” Jones says. “Our expectations coming into the year, I felt that Paul could be in the top 20 in points, and I felt like Bobby was a top-15 driver and maybe working our way into the Chase For The Sprint Cup. People may think that’s far-fetched, but I don’t think so. That’s attainable. Not this year, with the way we’ve dug ourselves in the hole, but I think that the organization and the drivers are capable of doing that if we put everything together.” More ...
Will IRL axe borefest Richmond?UPDATE #2 Indy Car series talks with officials from International Speedway Corp. continue toward renewing races at the five tracks it owns. Only the event at Chicagoland Speedway is signed for 2010. Angstadt also expects the events at Watkins Glen International and Kansas Speedway to return. Watkins Glen officials have asked to move off the July 4 weekend, and Angstadt expects to accommodate that request. (A move to fall has been strongly rumored on these pages.)
ISC officials have not been optimistic about a return to Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. Also to be determined is the future of the event at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The IRL hopes to announce its schedule Aug. 1 at Kentucky Speedway.
06/29/09 IRL officials will meet tomorrow with officials from Richmond International Raceway to discuss plans for next year. Griffin said this is a pre-arranged meeting, and he expects the series to return to Richmond next year.
Brian Barnhart, IRL president of competition and racing operations, has already met with several team officials over the weekend and this morning to discuss on-track issues, Griffin said, adding that Barnhart is considering “a couple things” to improve the racing—especially on ovals.
Griffin said IRL fans could see some changes as early as Kentucky—the series’ next oval race—Aug. 1.
06/28/09 Next year's 18-race IndyCar schedule reportedly will be split evenly between ovals and road/street circuits, meaning one oval on this year's schedule won't be returning.
If IndyCar officials have their way, that track won't be RIR.
Terry Angstadt, the Indy Racing League's commercial division president, said yesterday the league hopes to stage a 10th race at RIR in 2010. "We're hopeful," he said.
"In fact, we have a conference call on Tuesday with the ISC [International Speedway Corporation, owner of RIR] group to talk through specifics of renewing next year. We're optimistic." Richmond Times-Dispatch
Buemi to stay at Toro Rosso in 2010 (GMM) Sebastien Buemi is likely to remain with Toro Rosso beyond the end of this season, team boss Franz Tost indicated on Friday.
While the Swiss rookie's more experienced 2009 teammate Sebastien Bourdais has been ousted, Tost said he is happy with Buemi, who moved into formula one this year after finishing the 2008 GP2 championship sixth.
He said Buemi, the only newcomer on the 2009 grid, has had a tough introduction to formula one, coinciding with the total ban on in-season testing.
"But you can't have everything and while we are saving money through not testing, the downside is that young drivers will suffer," said Austrian Tost, who will confirm Buemi's new teammate within a few days.
He added: "What we can say is that Buemi will be a much more complete driver for the 2010 season."
NASCAR using debris cautions to mask horrible racing?UPDATE A reader writes, I was at the NASCAR race at Chicagoland Speedway last Saturday night. The debris cautions were unnecessary and were obviously staged to artificially create close racing for a few laps. Between bogus debris cautions and entrants that start and park, how can NASCAR Sprint Cup be considered a major league racing series? Mike Jablo
07/15/09 Is NASCAR using debris cautions to bunch the fields and create more exciting finishes to mask otherwise borefest races? You be the judge -39 debris cautions to date this year vs. just 7 in 2008. Hmmm.....
Brawn cannot outspend the big teams in F1 Joan Villadelprat has suggested that the underlying reason behind Brawn GP’s slump in competitiveness in the last two grands prix is the result of the funding beginning to run out – and things do not look a great deal more hopeful for the races to come, he fears.
Whilst chief rivals Red Bull Racing have notched up dominant one-two finishes in Britain and Germany, over the same period long-time world championship leader Jenson Button – a man who looked untouchable until very recently – has tallied a grand total of just seven points, and has seen his advantage at the top of the drivers’ title chase whittled down to just 21 points with 80 remaining up for grabs between now and season’s end, when he at one stage held a far more comfortable margin.
Though the Mercedes-powered BGP 001 has undeniably suffered in the cooler conditions experienced at Silverstone and the Nürburgring, former Tyrrell, Benetton and Prost team manager Villadelprat – whose own bid for an F1 entry slot in 2010 with Epsilon Euskadi was ultimately unsuccessful – reckons that for the former Honda F1 outfit, money, or rather a distinct lack thereof, is very much the root of all evil. More ...
Brawn an option for Rosberg in 2010 - report (GMM) Moving to Brawn GP is an option for Nico Rosberg in 2010, while the likes of Rubens Barrichello and Heikki Kovalainen have been in talks with Williams.
With peace in sight in formula one, there is finally some movement in the driver market, as the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport reports.
German Rosberg, 24, is reportedly in talks with no fewer than four teams: his current employer Williams, as well as BMW and McLaren, while Ross Brawn has apparently also shown some interest.
Rosberg is quoted as confirming for the first time that BMW is "an option", while last weekend Mercedes' Norbert Haug said McLaren is interested in both the German as well as compatriot Sebastian Vettel.
"Before we signed Heikki (for 2008) we spoke with both but they had contracts that we of course respected. For the future I don't want to exclude anything," Haug told the German newspaper Die Welt.
Rosberg told reporters at the Nurburgring: "I am looking at my options and cannot say anything more except that at the moment I am very happy here (at Williams)."
(GMM) Unconfirmed Toro Rosso race debutant Jaime Alguersuari's maiden test in his new role is taking place at the Vairano circuit in Italy on Thursday.
The Spanish newspaper Diario Sport said the 19-year-old, set to replace Sebastien Bourdais from next weekend's Hungarian grand prix and beyond, is conducting the straight-line test to confirm the major aerodynamic changes to the STR4.
Team sources however indicate that the Alguersuari test was always scheduled and that he remains in his official role as third and reserve driver.
The Toro Rosso test is not taking place on Friday as was previously reported, because Alguersuari will be at Le Mans in France to practice for the weekend's World Series by Renault races.
Failed F1 driver Bourdais to get the axe! Rubbish He Says. Oh really?UPDATE #8 Despite vehemently denying he was going to be fired and getting nasty with the media (typical for him), this rumor is now upgraded to 'fact' per the team's announcement that Bourdais has indeed been sacked. See Hot News.
07/13/09 Toro Rosso will confirm tomorrow that the Frenchman Sébastien Bourdais has left the team, with Jaime Alguersuari poised to become the youngest driver in Formula One history.
Since entering into Formula One after winning four successive ChampCar titles in the United States from 2004-2007, Bourdais has struggled, winning just six points from the 27 grands prix in which he competed.
Bourdais was overshadowed last year by Sebastian Vettel, who provided a largely uncompetitive team with victory in last season's Italian grand prix. This season Bourdais again found himself second best to the Swiss rookie Sébastien Buemi, who out-qualified his more experienced team-mate in seven of the season's nine races thus far.
In his last race for Toro Rosso, Bourdais was forced to retire from the German grand prix at the Nürburgring yesterday with a hydraulic failure. Although the Toro Rosso team principal, Franz Tost, refused to confirm Bourdais' departure after the race, the reserve and test driver Alguersuari is expected to replace him for the rest of the season. The Guardian
07/13/09 (GMM) Jaime Alguersuari on Monday indicated that Sebastien Bourdais has been ousted from his race seat at Toro Rosso.
The 19-year-old Spaniard is the favorite to replace Frenchman Bourdais, whose immediate exit from the Red Bull-owned team is expected to be confirmed on Tuesday.
Alguersuari told Radio Catalunya: "He is 30, he has a daughter, has won four championships in the American Champ Cars, won the F3000 here in Europe and, honestly, is a highly trained driver.
"But it seems that this year he has not given it everything, as he should have.
Bourdais, bitter to the very end
"I truly believe that the decision by Red Bull is just, but it is never nice to see someone taken away after half a season," Alguersuari added.
Toro Rosso on Monday would not comment.
If he makes his debut as expected in Hungary in two weeks, the Spaniard - not yet 19 and a half years old - would be the youngest ever formula one race driver.
07/13/09 (GMM) Sebastien Bourdais left the Nurburgring on Sunday evening intending to honor his full 2009 contract with Toro Rosso.
The Frenchman was the subject of intense speculation all weekend that the Red Bull-owned team wants to immediately replace him with 19-year-old rookie Jaime Alguersuari.
After Bourdais, 30, retired from the race with hydraulic failure, his warm embrace with Giorgio Ascanelli was interpreted by some as a farewell.
The only mention of the driver in the post-race press release was that "we unfortunately suffered a hydraulic failure on Bourdais' car".
Also significantly, his manager Nicolas Todt refused to comment at all on the issue before leaving Germany, and Bourdais once again lost his temper with the media.
Questioned by the French broadcaster TF1, the arrogant Frog snapped: "Stop making me talk about this, is that clear? I am under contract. I will be in Hungary." More ...
Mayfield may have sponsor for Indy? If Jeremy Mayfield’s injunction against NASCAR is upheld during upcoming court proceedings, he may have a sponsor for the July 26 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard—and beyond. In an interview Friday with Full Throttle Autos Online, Robert Craddock, the Florida-based owner of SmallSponsor.com, expressed his confidence in Mayfield’s innocence despite a failed drug test in May.
"How many years has Jeremy been doing this? Has there ever been an indication of a drug problem in all those years?” Craddock said. “I think the answer is no.” Craddock went on to call the test “completely bogus,” citing reports that Mayfield would be dead if he tested positive at the level of methamphetamine NASCAR says he did. To that end, Craddock says he’s in very positive discussions with a Fortune 500-level company that would be willing to join SmallSponsor.com as a co-primary sponsor of Mayfield’s #41 Camry. More ...
In the AGR team-prepared notes distributed to the media, each driver used different words to describe their day. Patrick used "interesting," Kanaan "frustrating," Andretti "rough" and Mutoh "very rough."
Andretti appeared to be the angriest. Just after climbing from his car, he sternly told his agent, John Caponigro: "We gotta talk."
Later, after reviewing the session's notes in the team transporter, Andretti refused media comment, jumped on his motorized bike, picked up Caponigro and sped off. His one-year contract expires at season's end.
"Un-freaking-believable," said [Michael] Andretti, who won this race seven times as a CART driver. "I can't explain it. I don't know what we're doing wrong. If I knew, we'd fix it." Indy Star
Milwaukee Mile owes NASCAR, IRL moneyUPDATE #3 The brief and troubled tenure of Wisconsin Motorsports as the race promoter at the Milwaukee Mile is over. On Friday, the Wisconsin State Fair Park Board announced that Claude Napier, Wisconsin Motorsports' president and CEO, had given the fair permission to seek a new racing promoter. Napier had taken over in February.
"We appreciate Mr. Napier's passion and personal investment in his efforts to keep major racing at the Milwaukee Mile," Susan Crane, chairwoman of the State Fair Park Board, said in a prepared statement. "The Fair Board will continue to make every effort to secure a new promoter to continue the tradition of racing at the Milwaukee Mile."
Napier, who did not return calls for comment, said in the statement that he made every effort to make the 2009 racing season a success. But he acknowledged that he ran into a financial shortfall that made it impossible to continue.
Last week, he told the Journal Sentinel that he was seeking new investors to keep the track running. But nothing materialized and Napier said in a statement to the fair that he was giving State Fair officials the authority to negotiate a contract with "entities interested in becoming the new promoter of the Milwaukee Mile." JSOnline.com
07/03/09 Milwaukee radio host Mark Belling is reporting Thursday afternoon that the IRL and NASCAR are very close to pulling out of Milwaukee. Worse, the Wisconsin State Fair Park Board and Governor Jim Doyle seem to be behind a veiled effort to close the track.
06/30/09 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. The financial mess that the Milwaukee Mile is in has NASCAR's attention.
In documents obtained by the Journal Sentinel, NASCAR states that Wisconsin Motorsports, the race promoter at the Milwaukee Mile, owes it $1,878,228 for the two races NASCAR sanctioned earlier this month. More ...
Liuzzi hopes to announce 2010 race seat 'soon' (GMM) Vitantonio Liuzzi on Saturday indicated he may soon be able to announce his return to the formula one grid in 2010.
The 27-year-old Italian, known universally as Tonio, has spent the last two seasons as Force India's test and reserve driver, and it is believed his deal with the Silverstone based squad guarantees a race seat next year.
Liuzzi, already with 39 grands prix under his belt for Red Bull's F1 teams, did not refer to his contract at the Nurburgring on Saturday, but grinned when asked which of the three new 2010 entrants he most fancies for a ride next year.
"Maybe one of the present ones," he told the British broadcaster BBC.
"Hopefully soon we can announce something. I think we are really close to stepping back into a race seat," Liuzzi added.
David Coulthard raced alongside the Italian at Red Bull Racing for a time in 2005, and said in Germany of Liuzzi: "I think he's got a firm contract for next season."
Labonte & Menard out at Yates? Hearing Yates Racing will clean house with its current driver roster at the end of the season. After the example that Tony Stewart has set at Stewart-Haas Racing on how a satellite operation should be run, is there any question why Jack Roush would not consider unloading Bobby Labonte and Paul Menard, who are 27th and 31st respectively, in the point standings? Yes, Menard brings decent money to the table, but with Ask.com shopping its sponsorship there is certainly reason for concern for the #96 Ford. Fox Sports
F1 likely to ban wheel fairings in 2010 (GMM) Formula one is looking to ban wheel fairings for 2010, Williams' technical director Sam Michael revealed at the Nurburgring.
With efforts to alter the cars to improve the likelihood of overtaking drawing a mixed analysis so far, the Australian boffin said recent studies have shown wheel covers are proving problematic.
"One of the things that have been discussed for next year is to remove wheel fairings and not have static or rotating wheel fairings," Michael said.
He said Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) studies in recent months showed the wheel appendages have "quite an adverse effect on the following car".
However, Michael said banning the covers will not be a silver bullet.
"It is the sort of thing where you need to find three or four little things like that and that will add up to a difference," he said, "so I think it is going in the right direction but it just needs more."
Kentucky race to change dateUPDATE A reader writes, For an organization like the IRL located 100 miles from Cincinnati, you would think that they would have a clue as to what goes on in Cincinnati on Labor Day. Labor Day is not a time I would stage a race in Cincinnati (Kentucky Speedway is across the river). They would be up against 50,000 pounds of fireworks that are shot off annually in 30 minutes by WEBN on our riverfront. My guess is 100,000 easy attends. Maybe more. James Barrie
07/09/09 Rumor has it that next year the Kentucky IndyCar race will move to Labor Day weekend.
Vatanen may need to fight Mosley for FIA jobUPDATE (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone on Friday said he is certain Max Mosley will step down as FIA president in October.
As part of the FOTA peace deal, 69-year-old Mosley pledged not to contest another election, but he was subsequently angered by the reaction of the breakaway group and said he was reconsidering his options.
"He said his options are open but he didn't say what they were going to be, did he?" Ecclestone, the F1 chief executive, said in a new interview for the Times, less than a week after controversially commenting about Adolf Hitler.
He explained that Mosley's threat to do a u-turn on his promised resignation was because he was "a bit upset" with Luca di Montezemolo's public reaction to his impending exit.
Ecclestone said at the Nurburgring: "I have no doubt in my mind (he will retire). As long as I've known Max, he's always done what he said he would do."
The 78-year-old was speaking amid rumors the FOTA teams and the owners of F1's commercial rights, CVC, have sidelined him in their latest negotiations over a new Concorde Agreement.
Late on Friday, Britain's Guardian newspaper said in a headline: "Formula one teams bypass discredited Ecclestone to seek 2010 resolution".
07/10/09 (GMM) Ari Vatanen has admitted the possibility he may have to fight incumbent Max Mosley in the FIA presidential election later this year.
The Finnish former world rally champion and European Parliamentarian, at the Nurburgring this weekend, on Friday announced his intention to succeed 69-year-old Mosley at the head of F1's governing body.
Mosley has indicated he wants to retire, and therefore Vatanen's announcement was interpreted by some as a move towards a smooth handover of power.
But Vatanen, 57, said: "Maybe Max is still standing, it's not been excluded at all. There's not (been) a decision."
Interestingly, Vatanen's comments come after he spoke on the telephone with Mosley to inform him of his candidacy, according to the Associated Press.
Leading figures of the FOTA alliance, who quietly believe Mosley's resignation would avert the breakaway threat, were not commenting about Vatanen on Friday but it is suggested they support him over the incumbent.
Vatanen indicated his presidential campaign will be based on the need for conciliation.
"There has been far too much time on the battle ground instead of being on the common ground," he said. "There are far too many quarrels for secondary reasons."
NASCAR wants to buy IRL, monopolize racingUPDATE #3 We will not merge with Grand-Am or the IRL. Similarly, there are absolutely no discussions or even thoughts about merging. Why would we? We enjoy racing with the IRL several times a year and we anticipate that continuing. The two series racing together complement each other very well and make an ideal combination of world-class road racing. It’s a proven winner with fans and event promoters, but I think each series enjoys the benefits of being autonomous, too. Scott Atherton, President and CEO of ALMS
07/04/09 IRL spokesperson Fred Nation told AR1.com that "If NASCAR has expressed interest in buying the IRL I have not heard about it and I can tell you that the Hulman George family has no interest in selling the Indy Speedway or the IRL."
07/02/09 Robin Miller rumors VW meeting with NASCAR recently. While many might think this was VW looking at entering NASCAR, it could also mean that NASCAR is indeed looking at buying the IRL as our sources tell us, and if true, then indeed VW would want to meet with NASCAR to understand what their plans for the IRL would be. Would they do their usual like they did with the USAC speedway car and with the Grand-Am Daytona Prototypes and dumb them down and NASCARize them? If that were the case, order the flowers and plan the funeral, IndyCar as a racing formula would die a quick death. However, maybe for once they would do the right thing and turn it into a series much like the old CART, a series similar to F1, but cheaper, that perked the interest of open wheel fans worldwide. Mark C.
06/30/09 With Tony George deciding to step down as CEO of the IRL and with the series bleeding money since its inception, coupled with the fact that George has been removed as President of the Indy Motor Speedway where for years he funneled Speedway profits to prop up the IRL, everyone wonders how the IRL can survive without a major cash infusion.
According to AR1.com sources, NASCAR has been sniffing around and with their goal of monopolizing all racing in the USA, see this as an opportunity to acquire the cash strapped league and bring it under their umbrella. We predict that the France family will ultimately buy the IRL and then set their sights on the ALMS (which they will eventually destroy using the Grand-Am) and then NHRA. Once they conquer them NASCAR will be to racing as the NFL is to football, the MLB is to Baseball, the NBA is to basketball and the NHL is to hockey - a monopoly. You read it here first many years ago, and all the pieces of the puzzle are now falling into place. The ALMS will be the next to fall.
New GM could make debut today General Motors Corp. and the U.S. Treasury are prepared for the New GM to emerge from bankruptcy Thursday afternoon, the government's lawyer told the court in a Tuesday filing. The parties are prepared to close immediately upon the expiration of the stay on Thursday afternoon," Matthew Schwartz, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in court records. "Indeed, the parties have been prepared to close since earlier this week."
The filing was made in response to motions from two groups opposing the sale of GM's assets to create a new GM. They are asking a judge to have their appeals bypass the U.S. District Court and go directly to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
If that does not happen, one of the groups -- the Ad Hoc Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants -- has asked the court to temporarily halt the deal.
Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber approved the sales deal late Sunday but under his sales order, the deal closes Thursday in order to give objectors time to appeal.
Manion to MWR with Truex? Martin Truex's current crew chief Bono Manion is expected to join Michael Waltrip Racing in the future, whether that date is after Homestead or before is likely predicated on Chip Ganassi. Manion has worked with Truex since the May Richmond race in 2003. If Truex and Manion leave EGR prematurely, Aric Almirola, who is still under contract but has not raced since Texas due to a lack of sponsorship, could jump in the car. FoxSports
More races for Furniture Row? For #78-Regan Smith, who knew he had only a 12-race schedule when he signed to race for Barney Visser's team this season, team manager Joe Garone gave the ultimate payoff on Saturday. "We're looking at adding some more races as we move forward," Garone said. "We'll announce them later, and we're working hard to get sponsors to run a full season next year. Regan's finishes absolutely led to us thinking about adding races. Man, when you're not tearing stuff up, you're just able to better prepare and better plan and do the things you need to do, so it all helps." NASCAR.com
Truex Jr. to Waltrip, CONFIRMEDUPDATE #7 Michael Waltrip Racing announced today that Martin Truex Jr. will take over the full-time driving role in the organization's NASCAR Sprint Cup entry previously driven by Michael Waltrip starting in 2010. Waltrip, who has been driving the car as an owner/driver, will drive a limited schedule in 2010.
Waltrip, who has four wins in his Cup career, including two Daytona 500s, said that he knew there would come a time when he no longer drove full time as an owner.
“That time is now,” he said.
Waltrip said he doesn’t know his schedule yet, but he will run the 2010 Daytona 500 with the familiar No. 55 and sponsorship from NAPA Auto Parts. Truex will complete this season with his No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team and drive MWR’s No. 56 Toyota next season.
07/07/09 Tuesday’s Michael Waltrip Racing and NAPA Auto Parts press announcement will be televised live on SPEED and streamed on SPEEDtv.com starting at 12:30 p.m. ET. At that press conference, MWR is expected to announce that Martin Truex Jr. will drive the #55 NAPA Toyota next season, as team co-owner Michael Waltrip will focus on management responsibilities. SPEEDTV PR
07/05/09 Martin Truex Jr. will be named on Tuesday the newest addition to Michael Waltrip Racing, multiple sources confirmed on Saturday at Daytona. A press conference including sponsor NAPA is scheduled for noon at the team's Cornelius, N.C., shop. Truex is in the final year of his contract with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. NAPA, the long-time sponsor of team owner Michael Waltrip, will be become his primary sponsor. Waltrip will move from a full-time to part-time schedule that will include the Daytona 500 in February. He could remain in his familiar #55 with Truex taking another number, possibly the #56. ESPN.comMore ...
Suzuka to fill Fuji's 2010 GP gap? (GMM) With Fuji Speedway pulling off the 2010 calendar, attention is now turning to the possibility that Japan will not host a formula one race at all next year.
This October, the Japanese grand prix will return to Suzuka, but the popular circuit was scheduled to alternatively share the country's annual race with Fuji.
Suzuka, built by Honda in the 60s, is yet to comment on the news, but a spokesman for Fuji Speedway said: "It is not clear at this moment whether the 2010 (GP) will be hosted in Japan by others or be held in another country."
The Japanese news agency Kyodo said last week that Fuji's pullout could lead to Suzuka hosting the Japanese grand prix every year, despite the manufacturer no longer fielding its own F1 team.
More on Toyota considering Fuji GP axeUPDATE This rumor is now 'fact.' Toyota-owned Fuji Speedway on Tuesday confirmed reports that the circuit will no longer host the Japanese grand prix.
It had been widely rumored that the venue located in the foothills of Mount Fuji, west of Tokyo, would relinquish the hosting rights due to Toyota's financial struggles.
After running races in 2007 and 2008, Fuji was set to return to the calendar in 2010 according to a new alternating agreement with Honda's popular Suzuka track.
"We decided it would be extremely difficult to continue holding the Japanese grand prix ... in view of sharply deteriorating business conditions and few signs of a rapid economic recovery," read a statement issued by Fuji Speedway.
Circuit president Hiroaki Kato said the decision was "heartbreaking" and apologized "deeply for being unable to live up to expectations".
07/01/09 (GMM) Toyota is considering abandoning its plans to host the 2010 Japanese grand prix, a spokesman for the Japanese carmaker has revealed.
The admission comes after two waves of media reports insisted the event scheduled for Fuji Speedway next year is in doubt: most recently on Wednesday, but also dating back a month ago in the Asahi newspaper.
Wednesday's reports, carried by other domestic newspapers as well as the national news agency Kyodo, cited sources in saying the decision to pull off next year's calendar is expected to be confirmed officially later in July. More ...
IRL also eyeing New England, Las Vegas, Laguna Seca The Indy Racing League's 2010 schedule was explained this weekend as a series of moving pieces. A race, or perhaps two, at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, which seemed unlikely just a week ago, is back under consideration, according to Terry Angstadt, the league's president of the commercial division. Also back in the mix is New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which is led by Indiana native Jerry Gappens.
The IRL also is interested in a plan to build a road circuit around Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. That would be for 2012, however.
Angstadt said a schedule of between 16 and 18 races is expected to be announced as early as Aug. 1 at the league's race at Kentucky Speedway. The season-opening race -- and maybe races -- is expected to be in Brazil with Ribeiro Preto the most likely city to host the opener.
League officials also have had serious discussions with owners of Barber Motorsports Park outside Birmingham, Ala., Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Mazda Raceway in Monterey, Calif.
The IRL is hoping to hold a spot for Milwaukee if its promoter situation can be resolved. It has not received interest from the promoter in Surfers Paradise, Australia, which held its last race in October. Indy Star
Virgin to Manor, YouTube to US F1UPDATE #3 US F1 joint boss Peter Windsor has promised that the new North Carolina-based Formula 1 team will boast a '21st century' sponsor package, and refused to deny that video website YouTube will be among its backers.
YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley attended the British Grand Prix with Windsor and his US F1 partner Ken Anderson.
In an interview with American broadcaster SPEED channel, Windsor was coy about US F1's chances of a YouTube tie-up.
"I did see Chad at Silverstone, he was around and it was good to see him there," said Windsor.
"People have tied him to our team, which is incredibly flattering, and who knows?
"We've got plenty of announcements that we'll be making shortly, and we'll be announcing the identities of all of our investors and quite a lot of other stuff as well, really exciting stuff.
"At the moment all I can say is that we've just got our heads down doing what is immediately important to us, which is building the team now that we've got our entry.
"But we have got a great investor group and it's going to take us into the 21st century in a way that you guys have never imagined."
Windsor also confirmed that the loss of the budget cap - a regulation that he had previously cited as key to the US F1 project - should not be an issue for the squad.
"The official limit has gone and of course that means that teams can now spend whatever they want," he said.
"But the point that [co-founder] Ken Anderson and I have been making from the start, that we believe we can do a lot more for less money than the other teams in the pit lane, is still incredibly valid.
"Although the teams are saying that the budget cap has gone, none of them are saying that they're going to carry on spending $250 to 400 million dollars a year.
"They're all saying that they're going to cut back.
"Our point is that if you take whatever that number is, whether it's 30 million or 200 million, we're going to be able to do more with that number because of the way we're doing the team.
"We're starting from zero, which is a big help in terms of keeping costs down and not having to absorb redundant systems, and beyond that we believe in the philosophy of American technology, and I think that's going to give us a lot of advantages in many areas." ITV-F1
07/03/09 (GMM) Manor Grand Prix chief John Booth on Friday would not confirm reports that Virgin is set to sponsor, buy into and possible re-name the new 2010 formula one team.
It has been reported and rumored in recent days that Sir Richard Branson will switch his allegiance from Brawn to Manor next year, in a deal that could also involve a 20 per cent shareholding and perhaps even naming rights.
But while confirming that funding has been in place for several months, Booth is not ready to confirm the Virgin speculation, and denied that an equity sale has been agreed.
"The Virgin link is just speculation and I couldn't really comment on it for legal reasons, and it is unhelpful to speculate about Virgin," he told the Yorkshire Post.
Complicating the issue slightly is that Manor's plans were always based on the FIA's 30 or 40m pounds sterling budget cap, which has now been replaced by an agreement with FOTA whose details are unclear.
"Hopefully, it should become clearer in the next couple of weeks. There does seem an intention from all concerned to get the costs under control," Booth said.
"We have only been planning to join formula one for the last five or six months. Over the years it has not been feasible, you had to be a multi, multi-millionaire to even consider it.
"But with the budget restrictions it has made it more accessible," he added.
07/03/09 (GMM) Virgin has decided to buy a share of the new Manor formula one team, a leaked email has confirmed.
Sir Richard Branson's brand currently backs Brawn GP but the British billionaire suggested recently that the success of the team in 2009 had sent its 2010 sponsorship price too high.
We reported last week that Virgin may already have signed a deal to re-name and possible buy into the new 2010 entrant Manor, which involves FIA president Max Mosley's former Simtek colleague Nick Wirth.
Recent reports indicated that Mosley's FIA representative at grands prix and chief steward Alan Donnelly may also be involved, confirmed now in the pages of the Guardian newspaper.
An email authored by Donnelly indicates that the Virgin-Manor linkup was in place even before Manor was selected to join fellow new teams US F1 and Campos on the 2010 grid.
Donnelly wrote: "Virgin have signed to be investment partners with a shareholding of around 20 per cent."
Donnelly's questionable neutrality is also likely to return to the spotlight due to his arranging of meetings with Manor officials and a member of the Saudi royal family.
His email, attached to a draft Manor sponsorship and investment agreement, goes on: "I will be in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and look forward to seeing you at our planned meeting ... with representatives of Manor and Virgin.
"However if you would like a pre-meeting with me privately on Sunday then please let me know," Donnelly added. More ...
Dodges to be rebranded Alfa Romeos, sell FiatsUPDATE Chrysler Group LLC, the automaker run by Fiat SpA, will sell four models of the Italian carmaker's 500 subcompact in the United States, CEO Sergio Marchionne said. Chrysler, which emerged from bankruptcy on June 10, eventually will sell a convertible, wagon and sporty version called the "Abarth" in addition to the four-seat subcompact in the United States, Marchionne said in an interview on June 30. While the base 500 will go on sale next year, he didn't say when the other models will be available.
"All of those cars will be coming to the U.S.," Marchionne said. "Fiat will be known in the U.S. purely in terms of its 500 car."
07/03/09 With the ink still wet on the Fiat/Chrysler deal, many auto sites (including Autoblog) have had a bit of fun prognosticating which Fiat/Alfa models would be rebadged as Chrysler products. U.K. site Autocar is reporting that Fiat is exploring bringing in Dodge models to Europe to be rebadged at Alfa Romeos. CEO Sergio Marchionne is said to be considering the move, saying that the two brands share the same core identity.
Autocar quotes Marchionne as saying that Dodge is the muscle car of the U.S. while Alfa is the muscle car of Europe, the latter being an interesting bit of positioning that we Statesiders don't normally associate with the brand. If the right Dodge-branded products were to make their way to Europe, the theory is that the Auburn Hills marque could actually bolster the products already offered by Alfa. The problem is, though, that there are few (if any) Dodge models that could reasonably be expected to perform well in Europe. The only models that are likely to be of interest are the Charger, Viper and Challenger, and the there is a chance that the Viper could soon find itself outside of the Chrysler portfolio altogether. The Charger and Challenger are likely too big for Europe as well, and would probably only sell in small numbers.
Marchionne also tells Autocar that the Chrysler group is still losing money, but the rate has slowed due to production and labor cuts. Autocar
[Editor's Note: Cannot imagine a NASCAR fan cheering for the Alfa Romeo brand.]
The 2012 Pelosi GTxi SS/RT Sport Edition With the US government keeping the US auto industry afloat they now have significant skin in the game. Will they now begin to tell us what we should be driving by dictating what the future cars should be. This video is political satire on the possible future of the American car industry.
Nationwide teams to run COT in 2010 NASCAR has told Nationwide Series teams that they will use the new model car at restrictor-plate and road-course races in 2010, driver Kenny Wallace said and multiple sources confirmed Friday.
An announcement has not been scheduled, and the use of the car of tomorrow isn’t official yet. But a NASCAR source said the use of the new car is “99.9 percent” certain next year for selected races.
One team owner, who asked not to be named, said the car will be used in all Nationwide races beginning in 2011. More ...
Overheard at Watkins Glen - 2UPDATE Correction - the IRL called the meeting with the owners because they knew they would have many questions - see our feature article on the IndyCar State of the Union.
07/04/09 We ran into Oriol Servia who told us he was close to putting together a multi-race deal starting with this race but it fell through at the last minute. "Money is really really tight right now said Servia, but this is where I want to be (IndyCar) so I keep on trying."......The team owners are so concerned about the future of IndyCar Racing now that Tony George has been voted out of his controlling role in the family business that they have called a Team Meeting among themselves at 5 PM today to discuss the situation......Meanwhile we await an interview with Brian Barnhart and Terry Angstadt who will likely tell us how great everything is......Did you know that Guillaume "Rocky" Rocquelin, former race engineer for NHR when Cristiano da Matta won the 2002 CART title and was with NHR from 2002-2005 (4 seasons) including with driver Oriol Servia in Champ Car, is now the engineer for Sebastian Vettel in F1.....It seems the Indy Lights cars have an inherent understeer in the high speed corners whereas the new Ferrari A1GP cars oversteer so they are much harder to drive - so says Felipe Guimaraes from Brazil who has driven both.........Mark C. reporting from Watkins Glen
Kanaan eyes ALMS race deal The last time we saw Tony Kanaan in an American Le Mans Series prototype, he took victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at the end of last year in an Acura LMP2 entry with Franck Montagny. The itch to drive prototypes is one Kanaan wants to scratch in the worst way even though Andretti Green Racing did not elect to field an Acura P2 for 2009.
“So what it's going to take to get me back into a prototype?” the former IndyCar champion rhetorically asked on SPEEDtv.com. “A phone call and an invitation, that's all."
Kanaan also was part of AGR’s class-winning lineup at Sebring in 2007 with Bryan Herta and Dario Franchitti. It was a conversation with Franchitti about his trip to Le Mans last month that made Kanaan think about a return to sports cars. More ...
Overheard at Watkins Glen - 1 Good morning from a very cool and windy Watkins Glen in the beautiful Finger Lakes region in upstate New York. The sun is shining and we should have a good day of racing ahead of us.....Watkins Glen, once the host of the USGP, also played host to 600,000 people back in 1973 for the Summer Jam concert featuring The Allman Brothers Band, and the Grateful Dead.......Indy Lights practice is currently underway.......Dario Franchitti is running Polaroid livery this weekend, Milka Duno is back with CITGO, Rafael Matos is carrying the US Marines colors......Newman/Haas/Lanigan has two cars in McDonald's livery this weekend.......Hearing rumors that NASCAR wants to buy the ALMS series and as we previously rumored, has expressed interest in buying the IRL from the Hulman George family. Word is that Don Panoz is getting tired spending money on the ALMS and his Elan car building business is not doing well, making them prime for an acquisition........We have heard whispers that not all is well in the AGR camp with Tony Kanaan supposedly having words with Michael Andretti at Richmond and now we hear Andretti and Kim Green may not be seeing eye-to-eye on some things......Spotted Davey Hamilton walking around the paddock with his kids. We hear he is trying to put together a deal for some more oval races......Most team owners we spoke to are all wondering what is going to happen to the IRL now that Tony George is no longer able to funnel money over from IMS to help the series. No one knows whether Tony's sisters will give any money to continue support of the series or will insist the IRL stand on its own.....One team owner did tell us that Jeff Belskus is a real solid businessman and thinks he will be good for the series......We hear there is not much promotion going on in Toronto for next weekend's IndyCar race......Mark C. reporting from Watkins Glen
Keselowski and JR Motorsports to move up?UPDATE You can't cross JR Motorsports totally off of Brad Keselowski's list for a fulltime Sprint Cup ride in 2010, but it doesn't seem likely. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who co-owns JR Motorsports with Rick Hendrick, said on Friday it would be "quite a challenge for anybody to find the kind of financial support you need" to make the move from the Nationwide Series to Cup. He also talked more of Keselowski, who drives the JR Motorsports Nationwide car, as though he would be somewhere else after this season and how he looked forward to preparing another driver for the Cup series. "The way I see it Brad has a ton of opportunities and the doors are wide open for him,'' Earnhardt said. "We have to look at what our chances are for moving into the Cup series before we can put that before Brad." ESPN Insider
05/21/09 The buzz around the garage last weekend was JR Motorsports is setting the stage to move from the Nationwide to Sprint Cup series to field a team for Brad Keselowski. Keselowski said he is negotiating exclusively with Hendrick Motorsports for a fulltime Cup ride in 2010. HMS does not have an opening, but Rick Hendrick does have ownership in JR Motorsports with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Although Hendrick would have to sell his interest in the company to make this happen, that would be a formality. Also, Earnhardt has said it's just as economical, maybe more, to run a Cup program than Nationwide under today's economic climate. Sponsors, such as GoDaddy.com that is on Keselowski's #88 Nationwide car, gain more exposure in Cup. Should JR Motorsports not move to Cup the only other way to remain associated with HMS would be to put Keselowski in a third car at Stewart-Haas Racing. Of course, that would squelch the rumor that Martin Truex Jr. will leave Earnhardt Ganassi Racing to join that team. ESPN Insider
McLaren planning hybrid supercars McLaren Automotive has dropped its biggest hint yet that hybrid technology will feature on its future supercars. The firm is advertising on its website for a senior engineer in powertrain hybrid technology, and the role requires someone to “lead the technical assessment, integration and application of appropriate hybrid powertrain technology.” A McLaren spokesman wouldn’t confirm whether or not the advert meant it was planning on adding hybrid technology to its road cars, but did confirm it was a technology McLaren was interested in.
The spokesman said: “It (hybrid technology) is something we want as a forward-thinking, technology-driven company. We have been considering it for future projects.
“All the advert means is that we are looking for a senior engineer in powertrain hybrid technology. Read into it what you will.”
McLaren has so far been coy with its plans for its upcoming supercar, codenamed the P11, ahead of its expected launch at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this year. Pre-production models have been regularly photographed by Autocar spies, but concrete details on the production version have not been forthcoming.
AutoWeek: Is there any racing you prefer to watch as a spectator over any other kind?
Hakkinen: I personally would be looking at NASCAR.
Hakkinen: Really. I find it very exciting. In Formula One these days, there are not so many spectators. You don't feel, really, the public. But in NASCAR, you have I don't know how many hundreds of thousands of spectators. And the race itself, it's a tough race, a great challenge. And, of course, the tactics from the team. And it's simple to understand.
AutoWeek: So you're going NASCAR racing?
Hakkinen: Well, you never know.
[Editor's Note: It should be known that Hakkinen is notorious for his dry sarcasm that is often construed as genuineness. He can't be serious......especially Mika...one who just loved to interact with the fans of course...Not!]
NASCAR to drop Fontana race While NASCAR officials insist the Truck tour is, in their words "rock solid," that tour's annual February Los Angeles tour stop at California's Auto Club Speedway may be dropped in 2010, according to Truck tour sources, because that is an expensive haul to the West Coast and crowds for that event have never been that great. However Richmond International Raceway will likely be added to the 2010 Truck tour, according to sources, who say next year's tour may be cut from 25 events to 22 events. MikeMulhern.net
When Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers investment bank collapsed on September 15, 2008, it triggered a collapse on Wall Street that sent the financial world into a tailspin.
And that, more than anything else, is what led to the George’s ouster, not because of the money he spent over the years to upgrade and improve the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or to bring Formula One to the United States from 2000-2007 or the development of the SAFER Barrier which may be one of the greatest safety innovations in auto racing in our lifetime, but the fact the Hulman George family fortune shrunk with the stock market collapse.
Now, it should be pointed out that the Hulman George family is still wealthy, its financial portfolio is worth less today than it was a year ago. But that can be said about many others who have diversified their holdings with financial investments in the market.
So when George’s sisters, Josie, Nancy and Kathi Conforti started to ask, “Hey, what happened to all of our money?” they couldn’t attack anyone at Wall Street or the United States Government.
The only person they could vent their frustration at was Tony George, who reportedly has spent as much as $600 million since 1996, but it’s likely that amount of money was recouped throughout the years by the gate at the Indianapolis 500 and for many years, the Brickyard 400 before it fell on hard times with declining attendance the past five years.
For anyone who knows the history of the Hulman George family, it can be rather contentious – probably not much different than other families around the globe. But most of those families aren’t rich and money often outweighs family loyalty.
So the sisters turned on Tony. Reports of screaming and shouting in board meetings and family gatherings began to surface. One report that was never substantiated was Josie threw her checkbook at Tony in the May 26 board meeting and screamed, “You’ve spent all my money so here, go ahead and spend the rest of it.”
George had already lost his power as CEO after that meeting but when news leaked out that he was ousted, even the sisters had to be surprised at the backlash that followed. George’s mother, Mari Hulman George, issued a statement saying her son was still in power and George met television reporters to say he was still in charge but as the days went on, it became obvious while he still had the title, his decision making power had been stripped. Versus.com
F1 sponsor LG considers team backing (GMM) Electronics giant LG is considering ramping up its sponsorship involvement with formula one.
Late last year, the South Korean brand was unveiled as an official backer of the world championship, with its branding on the TV broadcasts, timing graphics and trackside reported to be costing up to $15m per year.
And with more than four years of the deal set to run, the business magazine SportsPro reports that corporate sponsorship chief Andrew Barrett admitted the possibility of extending LG's involvement to sponsorship of a team.
Asked if LG considered sponsoring a team before last November's FOM deal was inked, he answered: "I can't talk specifically because we aren't necessarily done with those discussions.
"We decided to make our first foray into formula one by sponsoring the league and establishing this as the foundation of our relationship with the championship. But I don't think we're done yet.
"I wouldn't say we're going to do a team deal, but I wouldn't preclude it either," Barrett added.
With rumors swirling that the IRL is ripe for buying, besides the NASCAR rumor, another scenario would be the team owners getting together and taking it over. They did it with CART and the man very much behind its success was Roger Penske.
Penske is the only team owner with the automotive contacts and respect in the industry to pull it off. In fact one of my articles years ago when the IRL and CART/Champ Car were butting horns and we all watched in horror as the sport was being destroyed, I recommended that Roger Penske would have been the best person to run a unified series. He had the power, the money and the political clout to stave off NASCAR and Bernie Ecclestone, who appeared hell bent on seeing CART and later Champ Car eliminated.
In his latest SPEEDTV.com mailbag Robin Miller says he has heard one team owner may be making contingency plans in case there is an IRL fire sale.
Does RCR have a long-term future? Every so often we see a once elite team in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series lose a step, fall behind their competition some of the time the team rights itself and continues on, but some of the time the once elite team simply fades away. Such as the teams of Robert Yates Racing or Petty Enterprises.
It would now seem that Richard Childress Racing is at something of a crossroads. Many are reporting that RCR is set to lose both Shell Pennzoil and Jack Daniels as primary sponsors leaving this four car team with funding only for two.
A lot of people will be quick to blame the economy and sure that may be a factor but these people fail to understand that NASCAR racing is a performance industry, and one must perform to keep sponsors and stay funded.
While it is true RCR has lost most, if not all, of its manufacturer support from GM, we are really talking about a team that so far in 2009 failed to perform. In fact really the performance of RCR has been somewhat lackluster for the past few seasons.
In 2008 RCR won three races, in 2007 they took all three cars to victory lane including Kevin Harvick’s win in the Daytona 500. In 2006 this team won 6 races. The main problem here seems to be this is a team headed in the wrong direction. More ...
Dennis possible for FIA president (GMM) Another name "doing the rounds" amid speculation about the next FIA president is Ron Dennis, according to a high-ranking motor racing official.
Vicky Chandhok, motor sport boss and former president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI), and the father of GP2 driver Karun, has been mentioned as one possible successor to Max Mosley.
He told the Indian daily Asian Age: "It is certainly a great privilege to see my name doing the rounds along with Dennis and (Jean) Todt. But I personally feel that I am not ready for it."
Chandhok has long been associated with the Paris based FIA, and is known in the paddock for being close to F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.
Also mentioned as potential candidates for Mosley's job this week have been American Nick Craw, the FIA sporting president, and 1981 world rally champion-turned European parliamentarian Ari Vatanen.
George's fate might be sealed todayUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's news. Tony George has been removed as CEO and president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and has subsequently resigned as CEO of the IRL.
06/30/09 IRL and Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Tony George's "future could be determined" at today's meeting of the IMS Corp. BOD, which "may help clarify" George's role with the family holdings. While George has kept the title of CEO, it "appears some of his power has been stripped." Despite George having the "unified support of the IndyCar Series team owners," the "worst-case scenario" is that George is no longer able to use Speedway money to support IndyCar. SI.com
IRL stuck with just Honda The next meeting between the IndyCar Series and engine supplier Honda Performance Development is set for July 10 in Toronto before the July 12 Honda Indy Toronto, according to Terry Angstadt, president, commercial division of the IndyCar Series.
Sources within the IndyCar Series believe HPD has moved away from its stance of wanting a rival automaker to compete against and may see value remaining as a single-engine supplier to the series.
Last June, the IndyCar Series had an Engine Manufacturers Roundtable that was attended by automakers from throughout the world. German manufacturer Volkswagen showed the most interest in joining IndyCar and has even submitted plans for approval from its board of directors.
But while VW and Audi hold firm on their desire for an inline 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, HPD won’t yield from its desire to compete with a V-6 turbocharged engine. More ...
Mosley wants Todt as FIA chief - FOTA sourceUPDATE (GMM) Carlos Gracia, the highest ranking Spanish motor racing official and an FIA World Council member, doubts the federation's president Max Mosley is grooming Jean Todt to succeed him.
Rumors indicate that Mosley is positioning either for a fifth consecutive term as FIA president or preparing the ground for the entrance of Todt, the former Ferrari chief.
But Gracia, who also does not rule out making his own tilt for the presidency, said: "Unless Max has gone even more mad I don't think he'll back Jean Todt because we all know where he comes from and who he's linked to."
Also rumored in recent days was that some of Mosley's staunchest supporters, like Gracia, would come out and publicly back Mosley's claim that the FIA is enraged by the aftermath of the FOTA peace deal.
"What Luca di Montezemolo has done shows a total lack of respect to FIA and the World Council," Gracia told Spain's Onda Cero radio, repeating almost verbatim Mosley's comments that the rebel teams did the equivalent of "dancing on his grave".
"I don't support Max Mosley to the death, but what I am totally in favor of, to the death, is respect for our institutions," he added.
"It wouldn't surprise me if Max Mosley runs for re-election," Gracia continued. "The worst thing you can do is leave an animal badly wounded. What Luca has managed to do is reactivate Max."
06/29/09 (GMM) Max Mosley may not be clinging to the FIA presidency but simply preparing the ground for the entrance of his preferred successor.
That is the claim of the British newspaper Sunday Times, which quoted an unnamed FOTA insider as hinting that former Ferrari boss Jean Todt is indeed the leading candidate.
"Mosley wants someone to continue his work. Someone that can be manipulated by him -- and we all know who that is," the team source said.
The newspaper said the teams believe Mosley's endorsement of Frenchman Todt explains the new tensions in the wake of last Wednesday's peace accord. More ...
Money-losing A1GP in deep financial troubleUPDATE The Speedcar series has been axed for similar problems (see Hot News). Given the huge expense of A1GP with little income to show for it, and given the news below, should we order the flowers for the funeral now or will they find another sugar daddy to keep them afloat another year?
06/29/09 As we have questioned for years, with near zero TV viewership, thin attendance, cars with minimal sponsorship, and the high expense to fly away to every race on its calendar, how is it that A1GP could stay afloat? Then last year they rolled out a new car with a Ferrari engine. Nice car but where did that money come from?
Now comes word that the company – which is responsible for much of A1GP's day-to-day operations, such as looking after the cars – went into liquidation last Wednesday.
A spokesperson for A1 Grand Prix Operations Limited said: "Like many other companies in today's difficult economic environment, we had cash flow problems and we haven't been able to pay them (the suppliers)." More ...
So which team will Roush axe The five-car stable of Roush Fenway Racing must be trimmed to four vehicles for the 2010 season. According to Brian Corcoran, executive vice president of Fenway Sports Group, a decision should take place by August because of sponsorship obligations. An alternative is for one of the drivers (most likely Ragan or McMurray) to switch to Yates Racing, the current home of Bobby Labonte and Paul Menard. Roush has an existing partnership with Yates. “Should be an interesting 45 days,’’ Corcoran said. Corcoran also noted that Roush is still in discussions with DeWalt, the primary sponsor of Kenseth’s #17 Ford. Currently, DeWalt may not have the funds to continue primary sponsorship of the #17 next season. Boston Globe
2009 Brawn is 'most expensive car'? (GMM) After the car won three-quarters of every race so far under the 2009 regulations, Alex Wurz has revealed the secret of the Brawn BGP001.
At times last year, the team's predecessor Honda had five wind tunnels at its disposal, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, as well as a half-billion euro budget.
"The car was taken in three different directions in the wind tunnel," test driver Wurz told 'News'.
"Two directions were found to be wrong, so the team could just switch," he added.
Amid the shock of the global economic situation, Honda then pulled out and the Brackley team was rescued by a management buyout headed by Ross Brawn.
"The Brawn is probably the most expensive car with the lowest operating budget ever," the Austrian admitted [Editor's Note: He is just guessing, as he has no clue how many total hours of Wind Tunnel time were actually used. Having a wind tunnel at your disposal, and using it 24 x 7 are two different things.].
Wurz, 35, gives Sebastian Vettel "ten out of ten" for dominating last time out at Silverstone, but doubts Red Bull will have it so easily for the remainder of the season.
"I would say that Brawn and Red Bull are at eye-level, and success from now on will depend on the circuits."
Shell to dump RCR for Hendrick? Rick Hendrick may be in the running for the lucrative Shell-Pennzoil sponsorship for 2010, according to sources in the NASCAR garage. Car owner Richard Childress is in the third season of Shell sponsorship, but he has said little about the contract or any negotiations. Hendrick has had a long-standing sponsorship relationship with Quaker State, which is owned by Shell. If Shell were to move from the Childress camp to the Hendrick camp, it would apparently go on Mark Martin's car. NASCAR executives are expected to discuss the full range of sponsorship issues with key car owners and drivers in next week's planned annual post-Daytona 400 'seminar.' That private retreat each July was started by the late Bill France Jr., to get an inside look at the state of the sport from the owners' perspective. MikeMulhern.net
RPM future still in doubt The victory last weekend by Kasey Kahne on the road course at Sonoma, Calif., was good for morale at Richard Petty Motorsports, but only time will tell if it helps the team's bottom line.
"As of today, nobody knows what they're going to do next year," Petty said Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, site of today's Lenox Industrial Tools 301. "Financially, nobody has knocked on our doors and said, 'We are going to sponsor your car.' But when you do call them, they know who you are, and so that really helps." More ...
If F1 self-destructs, Alonso to IndyCarUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' as it was all a ploy for F1 political reasons.
F1 great Fernando Alonso could be IndyCar bound
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso made it clear on Thursday he will abandon Formula One if the budget-cap dispute between racing teams and the sport's governing body isn't resolved.
His Renault outfit is one of five members of the Formula One Teams' Association that must confirm on Friday whether they will sign up unconditionally to enter the 2010 season. FOTA has opposed plans by the ruling FIA to introduce a voluntary $60 million budget cap.
"For me the new Formula One would be unattractive, with the small teams and no drivers," the 27-year-old Alonso said. "We want to compete with the best teams in the world, the maximum technology: we all want to compete with the best drivers.
"If this is not what Formula One is about next year, then it will be another category with that. I won't retire, I will drive for another championship." More ...
MWR to make announcement on July 7th? On Friday Rowdy.com visited Michael Waltrip Racing, Cornelius, NC, which offers an amazing tour of the facility, including the fabricating shop. Even more interesting than the tour itself was this tidbit...someone in our group was asking how Ryan and Martin Truex Jr. (brothers) were related. Somehow this led to our tour guide telling us that Michael Waltrip Racing would be making a MAJOR announcement on July 7th. Rowdy.com
Keselowski to talk to Hendrick about Cup moveUPDATE As scheduled, Dale Earnhardt’s Jr.’s Nationwide Series driver Brad Keselowski spent some time this week talking with team owner Rick Hendrick, probing how the two could possibly work together on the Sprint Cup Series next season. Keselowski felt it was a positive meeting. “It went pretty well and we talked about a number of different subjects. He’s a neat guy to be around and I always enjoy talking with him.” Keselowski admitted, though, they couldn’t talk a whole lot about specifics. “It just takes time. This is not an easy process. The rope is being pulled but you know everyone wants it to pull faster. We’re weighing all the options and waiting for things to fall into place and there are certain things that are out of both of our control. Obviously, the economy is a large piece of it, sponsorship fits into there. We’re happy working together and we’re going to continue to work together, but don’t really have a clear cut plan forward other than to continue to review our options and get back together. PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show
06/22/09 Rick Hendrick said he plans to meet with Nationwide Series driver Brad Keselowski this week to discuss his plans for moving up to Sprint Cup in 2010. Hendrick mentioned two possible options for Keselowski -- a third car at Stewart-Haas Racing, which is affiliated with Hendrick Motorsports, or a chance to stay at JR Motorsports if Dale Earnhardt Jr. decides to move his Nationwide team to Cup next year. "We're looking at different options with some of our external situations with other teams," Hendrick said Sunday at Infineon Raceway. "I told Brad that I want him to have the best opportunity. If we can't give it to him, then I want him to have the best." Keselowski told reporters at that event that he would love to drive a third Stewart-Haas car next year. Tony Stewart said Friday a third car for his team is a possibility for 2010. Stewart's team is a satellite operation with Hendrick Motorsports, leasing engines from Hendrick. Hendrick also said Earnhardt Jr. is considering moving his Nationwide operation to Cup in 2010. Either way, Keselowski would stay in the Hendrick family, so to speak, if he signed with Stewart-Haas Racing or stayed at JR Motorsports. "Brad wants to do something that is somehow associated with our company," Hendrick said. "We're working on it and hopefully in the next few weeks we'll have something sorted out. He'll be running Cup [in 2010]. Whether he'll be running them all or whether he'll be running 75% of them or what, I don't know." ESPN
Rossi considering a switch to F1 with Ferrari in 2011
(GMM) Valentino Rossi has indicated he might be willing to switch to formula one in 2011 if Ferrari will run a third car.
At the press conference with Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone in Paris last Wednesday, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo told reporters that part of the peace deal was an indication that the works teams are prepared to field three cars apiece.
Multiple MotoGP champion Rossi, an Italian, has tested Ferraris before and a few years ago openly considered replacing Rubens Barrichello at the Maranello outfit.
The 30-year-old remains under contract to Yamaha for 2010, but amid the FOTA-FIA war, it was rumored that wherever Ferrari was headed in the near future, Rossi could be part of the plans. More ...
Todt possible for FIA presidencyUPDATE FOTA on Thursday seemed to object to speculation that Jean Todt, the former Ferrari team boss, is first in line to succeed Max Mosley as FIA president. With the rebel teams having dispensed with the controversial 69-year-old Briton, rumors indicate that Frenchman Todt, a divisive figure who was as unpopular as he was successful in the Michael Schumacher ERA, will receive Mosley's personal endorsement to assume the role late this year.
But at a meeting of the teams association in Bologna, FOTA vice-chairman and Toyota president John Howett said: "We would like to see someone independent, perhaps independent from any of us, either currently or historically.
"It would mean a much better balance."
FIA presidents are elected by the Paris federation's 122 member clubs, not the F1 teams.
Mosley doubts his successor, whoever he is, will be "more to their" liking than he ultimately was, but is now looking forward to returning from his Monaco base to his wife in London for a calmer life.
One of his first projects will be his memoirs.
"They will have plenty of very funny and explosive stories in them," the Briton promised.
FOTA, meanwhile, said on Thursday that its next step, after the regulatory battle with FIA, is a new commercial agreement with Bernie Ecclestone.
(GMM) With Max Mosley to step down in October, attention is already turning to who his successor will be in charge of F1's governing FIA.
The timing of the 69-year-old's decision was interpreted as having been part of the peace deal with FOTA, and the Briton said on Wednesday: "Whether the person who succeeds me will be more to their liking remains to be seen."
The most obvious candidate is Monaco automobile club president Michel Boeri, who as president of the FIA senate will immediately take over Mosley's role in liaison with F1 teams.
But Mosley told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "I cannot imagine that Boeri is interested in the post (as FIA president). He is also too old."
In the German press, FIA vice-president Hermann Tomczyk ruled himself out of the running.
Ferrari's Jean Todt has long been mentioned as a candidate. "I would not like to exclude it," Mosley said of the possibility that the Frenchman will run for office.
Among many of the F1 teams, Todt is unlikely to be a popular choice, but Mosley pointed out that the teams do not have a say. The Briton, however, does.
"If there is more than one candidate, then I will give a recommendation," Mosley revealed.
Manufacturer shakeup coming in NASCAR Richard Petty won't deny that hot speculation that he might be jumping from Dodge to Toyota, with Chrysler's bankruptcy having made such a dent in that company's financial support for NASCAR teams. In fact the King says yes indeed, things are "swirling." And where it all winds up, Petty concedes, is still uncertain.
In fact Petty says he doesn't know what his team will look like in three weeks, much less next year. And he says he's open to just about anything right now. Petty points to the government's involvement in Chrysler as perhaps key to what happens next for his four teams.
Of course Toyota is about the only option for Petty, and he may well have competition from Chip Ganassi for a deal. Ganassi's Chevy deal is apparently up, as of immediately; Ganassi's ace, if he is dealing with Toyota, would be Juan Pablo Montoya. More ...
(GMM) Max Mosley's impending departure could pave the road for Ron Dennis to return to the formula one paddocks of the world.
In the wake of the 'lie-gate' scandal and other run-ins with the FIA president, including the spy scandal and $100m fine, the long-standing McLaren chief and shareholder has been quietly working only on the company's road car division in recent months.
Despite saying he would still be seen at circuits in 2009 after handing over to Martin Whitmarsh, Dennis has actually been conspicuously absent this season, with many believing it was a necessary move to calm relations between Mosley and the Woking based team.
But with peace now declared between the FOTA teams and the FIA, 62-year-old Dennis may be "coming back", according to a report in The Times newspaper. More ...
3-4 teams to run Cosworth power in 2010, MaybeUPDATE #3 We are downgrading this rumor to 'strong' from 'fact.' Questions that remain unanswered now that Max Mosley is gone from the FIA, including the disagreement about whether the three new teams' cut-price Cosworth engines - essentially at 2006-specification - should be allowed to run a higher rev limit.
"The basis of the engine is four years old," Mosley insisted on Wednesday to Auto Motor und Sport, "and the (fuel) consumption is clearly higher than the others. That means a clear (fuel) weight disadvantage."
We predict that the FOTA teams will nix the two standard engine idea because an equivalency formula is difficult and say we will provide "our" engines at the same price and Cosworth will once again be cut out of F1.
06/12/09 This rumor is upgraded to fact with today's Cosworth announcement.
06/12/09 (GMM) On Friday morning, Cosworth would not confirm that the publication of the 2010 FIA entry list will cement the company's return to formula one.
It is likely that some new teams, probably USF1, Prodrive, Lola or Epsilon Euskadi, will be named on the list, to be published by the governing body before lunchtime.
Will the Cosworth name return to F1, or will an 11th hour deal struck with F1 teams leave Cosworth out in the cold again?
With their official applications, the teams had to nominate an engine supplier, and as none of the current carmakers involved in F1 have confirmed their participation, it is likely they named Cosworth.
Late last year, the Northampton-based engine specialists won an FIA tender to supply a low-cost customer engine package to teams in 2010 and beyond.
But on Friday, a Cosworth spokesman told the local Northampton Chronicle: "All we can say is, we're unable to make a comment at this time."
It is believed that Cosworth's 2010 engine would be based on the V8 unit supplied to Williams in 2006.
It is not known if Prodrive listed Cosworth as its 2010 supplier, but Williams' co-owner and engineering chief Patrick Head believes the Banbury based outfit can succeed.
"They (Prodrive) are a very experienced outfit in many fields of motor sport, and if they do come in I am sure they will do a good job," he told BBC Oxford. More ...
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