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DATE News (chronologically)
Trans-Am Series to be sold?  Rumor has it that the Trans Am Series will soon be sold to an investor group headed by Jim Derhaag of Shakopee, Minnesota. Simon Gregg is said to be the financial power behind the acquisition.
ALMS rumors from the paddock  Don Panoz spun off Mosport first. What will follow is hard to say. Sebring is a lease, and the leasehold is saddled with debt for a hotel and other cash-flow-poor property.

The hot rumor at Road America was a story that Duncan Dayton was leading a group of buyers that revolves around the Sebring lease. That scenario would have Don Panoz retaining Road Atlanta and the American Le Mans Series.

Is it already “The Last Harrah” for Petit Le Mans? Rumor has it that the 2012 WEC schedule will “be based on” the 2011 ILMC schedule, only Sebring will be retained. A Japan round at the Tilke-redesigned Fuji Speedway will replace Road Atlanta.

If Sebring is spun off by the Braselburgers, that leaves the series with no “hard” connection to the ACO. Might that be part of the plan? Does that reinforce the rumor that the IMSA of the future will diverge substantially from ACO rules, including even an “open” class?

Sam Michael to McLaren  UPDATE
Sam Michael
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Williams F1 today confirmed that Sam Michael will join McLaren as Sporting Director. The announcement follows Sam's resignation from his current post as AT&T Williams' Technical Director in May this year. Sam's last race with the team will be at the forthcoming Singapore Grand Prix.

Sam joined Williams F1 in 2001 as Chief Operations Engineer. He was later promoted to Technical Director, the position he held for eight seasons.

Frank Williams, Founder and Team Principal of AT&T Williams, said, "I am delighted that Sam has found a new role that will enable him to continue to apply his energy, passion and experience to Formula One. On behalf of everyone at Williams I wish him a successful move to his new team. More ...

GoDaddy to sponsor $5M IndyCar challenge  UPDATE Many of the details are still to be worked out and unveiled -- a news conference is scheduled Tuesday --but if Wheldon wins the Izod World Championships on Oct. 16, he'll garner $2.5 million for his team and $2.5 million for a fan.

09/12/11 Rumor has it that GoDaddy will step up to sponsor the $5 million IndyCar Challenge at Las Vegas in October and the Challenge will take on a different twist.
Swiss Leimer could be F1's next rookie  
Fabio Leimer
(GMM)  Fabio Leimer could be a formula one race rookie in 2012. The Sonntagsblick newspaper reports that the 22-year-old Swiss' career is backed by Rainer Gantenbein, who says he has spent more than $17 million already.

Leimer is currently ranked 14th in the GP2 championship.

The Swiss newspaper said Gantenbein is in "intensive negotiations with several F1 teams" about the 2012 season.

"If Virgin demands five million (Swiss) francs, then that is what I will raise," he said at Monza.

The first step for Leimer will be his debut F1 drive during the young drivers' test session in Abu Dhabi after the penultimate grand prix of the season.

Kovalainen also staying at Team Lotus  
Heikki Kovalainen
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen's place at Team Lotus is secure not only next year but also for 2013. That is the claim of two authoritative publications in the wake of Sunday's news that the Finn's teammate Jarno Trulli is staying put for 2012.

The media statement issued by the Tony Fernandes-led team at Monza made no mention of Kovalainen's status at Team Lotus for next season.

But the Finnish newspaper insists the 29-year-old was not mentioned because "Kovalainen has a contract with the team until 2013".

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport added: "Kovalainen signed a long term contract last year.  So on the drivers' side (for 2012), everything stays the same."

Overheard at Baltimore - Sunday  UPDATE #3 As we rumored last Sunday from Baltimore, our sources helped us break the story that Lotus will buy the Renault F1 team and Tony Fernandes will rename his Lotus team to Caterham, so this rumor is upgraded to 'strong' overall as we expect the majority of this rumor come true.  Today comes word that Tony Fernandes has hinted strongly that he will drop the Team Lotus name for his formula one team ahead of the 2012 season.

The Malaysian entrepreneur has been locked in a bitter dispute with Renault sponsor Group Lotus but won the legal right to keep deploying the name for his Hingham-based team. But Fernandes, also the owner of the AirAsia airline, has subsequently bought the British specialist sports car maker Caterham and renamed his GP2 team Caterham Team AirAsia.

He said at Monza: "I always had a problem with 'am I really Team Lotus?' because there's a big question mark on that.  "You can't have a name and not monetize it.  So we will have to wait and see ... I don't think this is healthy for anyone, having Lotus-Renault and Team Lotus."

F1's Enstone based team, currently widely known as Renault, might also be heading for a name change, with the Guardian newspaper reporting that sponsor Group Lotus could finally be set to buy in.

The report said current owners Genii are "reportedly in discussion about selling the team", with Lotus "in pole position to get it". More ...

Kevin Harvick to merge team with RCR  UPDATE #3 It appears the divorce, if it were true, is off, as DeLana was cheering Kevin to victory at Richmond Saturday night.

09/09/11 NASCAR driver/owner Kevin Harvick announced that he "will be shutting down his trucks program at the end of this season," meaning his 140 race-related employees "will be out of work." Harvick described the Camping World Truck Series as "a tough model business-wise." Harvick: "We've scrimped and scraped and got the sponsorship and things that you need, and GM has been a great supporter of everything that we've done, but from a business standpoint ... it just didn't make sense." Kevin Harvick Inc. will "now be more personality- and promotion-driven, focusing on Harvick's fan club, web site and similar elements."  Still no mention that he is doing this (quitting trucks and merging his Nationwide team with RCR) because our sources say he is getting a divorce from wife DeLana who ran the day-to-day operations of KHI.

09/07/11 Richard Childress Racing and Kevin Harvick Incorporated have reached agreement on a collaborative effort that will have KHI's current NASCAR Nationwide Series program merge with RCR beginning in 2012.

The decision is the coming together of the best of the two organizations. KHI will continue to be involved on the business and competition sides with RCR and KHI co-owner Kevin Harvick will still be very active in the Nationwide Series program (note no mention of DeLana). The No. 2 and No. 33 teams will continue with drivers Elliott Sadler (No. 2 Chevrolet) and a combination of RCR's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers in the No. 33 Chevrolet. The merger will benefit KHI's current sponsors with increased resources and business-to-business opportunities. More ...

Dyson again eyes IndyCar  UPDATE Chris Dyson is best known for his sports car exploits, but the former open-wheel racer says he's intrigued by where the IZOD IndyCar Series is headed in 2012.

As Dyson Racing's Sporting Director and co-driver of the No. 16 Lola-Mazda entry, Dyson keeps himself plenty busy with his Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based American Le Mans Series team. But with Dyson's experience in the Toyota Atlantic series and Dyson Racing's brief spell as a CART entrant in 1989, he told SPEED.com a possible return to Indy car racing, even on a limited basis, is a growing interest.

“From my standpoint, I’ve always loved Indy cars,” he said. “When I look at what they do in IndyCar with the 17-race schedule and intense competition, I’d love to be involved on a personal level as a driver. They have a ways to go, but they are making some interesting decisions on what the fans want to see. For me, I’m excited to see the horsepower is coming back for 2012!" More ...

IndyCar trying to entice F1 manufacturers?  Amongst the usual dignitaries and VIPs at Monza this weekend is one guest who has never visited a Formula One race before - Randy Bernard, the chief executive of IndyCar.

Bernard is rumored to be a guest of none other than Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali and, what's more, since taking over IndyCar's driving seat in March last year, he has had meetings with every F1 team principal as well as the sport's boss Bernie Ecclestone. Although Bernard has never visited an F1 race before, his series has been the subject of much discussion in the sport this year.

In June, Ron Walker, chairman of the Australian Grand Prix said that 17 F1 race promoters would leave if the new greener engine which is being introduced in 2014 does not run to 18,000rpm and sound the same as the current model. Walker added that IndyCar would be the beneficiary since the circuits' plan would be to switch to it from F1, which of course is pure hogwash because IndyCar engines don't turn 18,000 RPM either, far from it in fact. More ...

Bentley back to LeMans  Volkswagen-owned British manufacturer Bentley--which claimed its seventh overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2003--has revealed that it is evaluating a return to international sports-car racing. The move follows the appointment last November of former Porsche research and development boss Wolfgang Durheimer, who was in charge of motorsports at the German manufacturer, as Bentley's new boss.

Bentley chassis and powertrain director Brian Gush, whose remit also includes motorsports, said, “What we are doing at the moment is evaluating the options. We are looking from LMP1 down.”

Asked whether Bentley will race again within five years, Gush answered, “Absolutely, and I say that with some confidence. We will be back; the question is, with what?” AutoWeek

Dyer linked with Mercedes on F1 paddock return  
Chris Dyer
(GMM)  Chris Dyer has returned to a formula one paddock for the first time since Ferrari's bungled race strategy in Abu Dhabi ten months ago.

The Australian, formerly Ferrari's head of track engineering, was ousted by the famous Italian team after Fernando Alonso failed to win the 2010 title at the last hurdle.

Italian publications Autosprint and La Gazzetta dello Sport said he was in the Monza paddock on Thursday.

And Finland's Turun Sanomat said it possible that 42-year-old Dyer, who in the past also served as race engineer for Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen, could return to F1 with Mercedes next season.

Also linked with a Ross Brawn reunion at Mercedes is Aldo Costa, who was similarly ousted by Ferrari this year. More ...

Iran to build $85m F1 track  UPDATE (GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has played down reports formula one could be headed to Iran in the near future.

Local media reports this week revealed that officials are building a $85 million track south of capital Tehran, with construction to "follow all F1 standards".

A subsequent media release clarified that the track will only be seeking Grade 2 certification by the FIA initially, which is not sufficient to host a grand prix.

But arguably the biggest obstacle is the country itself, with Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary arguing that "it is difficult to conceive of a less likely venue" for F1. More ...

Pirelli to let F1 teams choose race compounds in 2013?  Pirelli is considering letting Formula One teams select their own choice of tire compounds ahead of each race in 2013.

Pirelli is the sole tire supplier in Formula One and currently brings two predefined compounds to each race. The company picks the best overall tire choices for each event from its range of four dry-weather tires, but the characteristics of some cars suit certain tires more than others. Under the proposed system the teams would chose their own tire compounds ahead of each grand prix.

Talking at the FOTA fans forum in Milan, Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery said his company has lots of ideas for 2013. More ...

Will Ford and Cosworth be reunited at Indy?  Ford and Cosworth certainly have a storied history together in racing, and at one time Ford owned Cosworth.  There is a rumor going around that Ford may be eying a return to IndyCar Racing now that Chevy is back for 2012.  Cosworth, now owned by Kalkhoven and Forsythe, are still looking for a manufacturer to build an IndyCar engine for.  Putting two and two together, hmm.........
Tweaks expected for 2012 NASCAR schedules  Expect NASCAR to announce its 2012 schedule in the next few weeks with a bit of juggling to its April May, June and October dates.

Kansas Speedway has announced its spring date as April 22nd, and, according to a knowledgeable source, it will be followed April 28 at Richmond and then May 6 at Talladega before the traditional Mother’s Day spot May 12 at Darlington. Talladega announced its May 6 date Tuesday.

With the Kansas spring date moved from June to April to accommodate the repaving between its 2012 events, and with Bruton Smith announcing that the Kentucky race will be June 30, the shuffling of the June schedule appears to go like this: Dover (June 3), Pocono (June 10), Michigan (June 17), Infineon Raceway (June 24) and Kentucky (June 30). More ...

Mercedes targets ex-Ferrari chief Costa - report  UPDATE
Aldo Costa
(GMM)  Another authoritative publication is reporting that Aldo Costa could emerge at Mercedes GP next year.

Ferrari's ousted technical director is currently on 'gardening leave' but Autosprint reported last month that Costa could soon reunite with his former boss Ross Brawn.

"The plan of the German team for 2012 is the acquisition of the Italian (Costa) as a coordinator of the engineers," Pino Allievi, the veteran La Gazzetta dello Sport correspondent, wrote.

Commented Mercedes team boss Brawn: "Aldo is a friend, someone I really like and an excellent technician, but our structure is fairly definitive."

Allievi said Costa could not be contacted but he is known to be "considering all proposals" from other UK-based F1 teams. More ...

Report says Berger turned down FIA role  
Gerhard Berger
(GMM)  Gerhard Berger has revealed he is unlikely to return to formula one any time soon.

After retiring as a ten-time winner in 1997, the likeable Austrian served as joint BMW motor sport director and he then co-owned the Toro Rosso team until 2009.

Italy's Autosprint reports that the 52-year-old was recently offered a role at the governing body by FIA president Jean Todt.

But he is quoted as saying: "I no longer want to be always on the go."

As for any other opportunities, Germany's Speed Week quotes Berger adding: "There is nothing I can see."

Tracy to run Las Vegas, maybe Japan  Rumor has it that Dreyer & Reinbold will run Paul Tracy in the season finale at Las Vegas and may also run him in the No. 22 for the next race on the road course in Motegi, Japan.
NASCAR to return to Rockingham?  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  NASCAR will return to Rockingham Speedway for the first time since 2004 with a Camping World Truck Series event April 15, 2012. Track owner Andy Hillenburg already had announced he would add SAFER barriers to the facility, which was a requirement to get a NASCAR national touring series race.

“In 2007, we set a goal to return Rockingham Speedway to its roots,” Hillenburg said in a news release. “The introduction of the truck series to Rockingham Speedway is representative of years of hard work and the support of the county, city and state government officials, who understood the positive economic impact a NASCAR-sanctioned race could offer to the Piedmont region.

“We are very excited about this news and know our supporters are just as proud to have Rockingham’s national racing roots become a reality once again.” More ...

'Camber' saga to continue at Monza?  (GMM)  The seemingly innocuous phenomenon of tire camber could be set to play a decisive role at a second consecutive grand prix.

At Spa two weeks ago, a saga unfolded over the apparent safety of Pirelli's tires, after worrying blisters appeared on the dominant Red Bull cars.

It emerged that the team exceeded the recommendations for camber angle dictated by the official tire supplier.

Pirelli's F1 chief Paul Hembery confirmed that Red Bull had gone "to the limits of our recommendations", believed to be 4 degrees. More ...

Are Martin's Cup days over?  UPDATE
Mark Martin
Could Mark Martin be driving for Tony Stewart next year? Stewart would like it.

Martin has stated that he's looking for a part-time ride in Cup next year after he moves on from his Hendrick Motorsports ride after this season (Kasey Kahne takes over that ride next year).

Danica Patrick is scheduled to run eight to 10 races in a third entry for Stewart's team, Stewart-Haas Racing. Pairing Patrick and Martin could give Patrick an additional mentor, besides Stewart, and also give the team a driver to run the remaining races Patrick doesn't. More ...

Baltimore GP to keep Labor Day Weekend date  Those planning ahead to the summer of 2012 can likely figure on Indy race cars returning to the streets of Baltimore for Labor Day weekend.

Will Power had barely crossed the finish line Sunday to win the IZOD IndyCar Series race at the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix, but event organizers, IndyCar executives and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake were already looking ahead to next year.

All were in agreement about how well a holiday weekend worked. The crowds, estimated by organizers at well over 100,000 for the three-day event (175,000 is a closer estimate), seemed to back that up. So did the effusive comments of the drivers, who said the combination of the challenging course and enthusiastic fans made it as attractive a site as there is on the series. More ...

Heidfeld to DTM?  (GMM)  BMW's motor sport boss has refused to comment on speculation Nick Heidfeld could move from formula one to the DTM series next year.

German Heidfeld, 34, was appointed as injured Robert Kubica's replacement for 2011, but Renault has now dumped him in favor of Bruno Senna.

It is being reported that talks between Heidfeld and his former employer BMW, no longer in F1 but to tackle the German touring car series DTM next year, have already begun. More ...

Thailand to bid for grand prix  (GMM)  Thailand has become the latest country bidding to join the ever-expanding formula one calendar.

The Bangkok Post said media reports have been confirmed by Thailand's official promotion arm the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau.

The agency's president Akapol Sorasuchart said businesses have called on Thailand to organize major events in order to enhance its reputation. More ...

UPS to sponsor Edwards?  If UPS is in talks to become part of Carl Edwards’ sponsorship program next year, the driver of the No. 99 Ford has yet to be part of the discussions.

Edwards was aware of Friday’s Sports Business Daily story that indicated UPS, which currently sponsors David Ragan in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, would reduce its commitment significantly next year and is talking with RFR brass about sponsoring Edwards for four to eight races.

That would put Edwards in the uncomfortable position of benefiting from a business move that might jeopardize the ride of a teammate. More ...

Overheard at Baltimore - Saturday  UPDATE After posting this original article we walked out of the track and made our way to the hotel.  Suffice it to say there was more people here today than we have seen in Long Beach since the height of the CART era.  We are upping today's attendance to 60,000 plus. The event is going to be huge in years to come if the city plays their cards right.

09/03/11 Another overcast day in Baltimore and with no rain in the forecast, if of course rained as a line of thunderstorms moved through just before 11:00 AM.  The grandstands were full for IndyCar qualifying this afternoon and then for the ALMS race all but one small grandstand was 100% full.  And people were lined up along the fence all around the track.  Easily 50,000+ fans here today.  This race weekend appears to have a big future indeed. 

There was another meeting of the engine manufacturers and IndyCar on Thursday but still no finalized engine rules.  The process is iterative.  However, the rules are far enough along they could be published. 

Speaking of engines, remember IndyCar announced the new car would have a 100 HP push-to-pass feature?  Think again.  The manufacturers never agreed to that.  That was an IndyCar wish but no one bothered to ask the manufacturers. 100 more HP as to compared to what?  The 550 HP oval engine or the 700 HP road course version.  If it is the 700 HP version the manufacturers have to make an 800 HP engine, which is not what they signed up for.

Whether the Motegi race ever comes back on the schedule will depend on the Japan economy.  Only one race per year was run on the Motegi oval and it just was not worth it for Honda to fix the earthquake damaged oval.  The road course may stay open for business, however.  Honda also owns Suzuka so that could be another option someday for IndyCar. 

For IndyCar qualifying almost all grandstands were full and the indoor paddock was very busy.  Danica Patrick's transporter had the most gawkers with little kids shouting Go Daddy Go.  There were thousands of fans milling around the paddock and there was not a driver in sight to sign autographs and become the next Danica Patrick with regard to popularity.  Houston (IndyCar), you have a problem when Danica leaves as she is the only household name in the series.

Sarah Fisher is due to have her first child September 22nd and is home doing well and resting comfortably.  Speaking of the Dollar General car Ed Carpenter was in the car again this weekend and dead last slowest, totally out to lunch on road and street circuits.  Speaking of out to lunch, Carpenter's step father, Tony George the man everyone blames for nearly destroying the sport of IndyCar racing, was in the paddock with Carpenter.

Speaking to former F1 and IndyCar driver Derek Daly we learned that he will be the Driver Steward at the upcoming Italian GP F1 race at Monza.  Did you know that FIA F1 Race Director Charlie Whiting was Derek's Chief Mechanic when he drove F1 for the Hesketh F1 team in 1978?

Chip Ganassi and Roger Penske, who are fierce competitors on the track, and friends off, met the media in Baltimore Saturday to talk about the championship battle they are in again this year (like every year) leading up to the season finale in Las Vegas.  Both had very kind words to say about each other with Chip saying "Roger sets the bar very high and it allows someone like me to have someone to model ourselves after, and Roger admitting that Chip got one over on him by buying an abandoned PA Turnpike Tunnel to test his cars in, a tunnel kept so secret that even Roger Penske did not know about it until we (AR1.com) first uncovered it years ago.  Roger said he's waiting for Chip to offer the Penske Team a chance to test in it.

They say that Honda is a racing company that sells cars, and I asked Roger Penske if Penske follows the same model - a racing company that sells cars (through his many car dealerships).  He agreed that all his businesses are woven around his racing interests.

Chip had another good compliment to pay Roger - "Without Roger there would not be an IndyCar Series," said Chip.  What we think he meant by that is Roger's leadership and investment in first CART, and now IndyCar has made it possible for the sport to still exist despite the split and despite the economic downturn. 

"I was checking and over the last three years Chip's team has won 21 races and we have won 20 races, so tomorrow is our turn," joked Penske.  As for the season final both Chip and Roger felt that Las Vegas was the perfect venue to hold the IndyCar finale and Roger was excited that they will close the strip down Thursday night to run the IndyCars down to promote the championship finale.

As for adding more races to the schedule Roger said he prefers quality over quantity because it costs money to run more races.  He wants to keep IndyCar a North American series with races in the USA, Canada and Mexico. He was keen on adding a Mexico race.  He still feels, as he has for years, that offshore races should be kept to a minimum.  Roger said he is very big on these city street races and feels it is a real niche IndyCar can exploit.  He made several comments on how big the crowd is here this weekend and how good the venue is from all aspects, including the race track itself, which drivers all say is very good.

Chip echoed the same opinion with regard to keeping IndyCar NAFTA based, but wants to see the series grow to 20 races per year.  Both want to see more races on network TV and Roger said he was hopeful that with the Comcast/NBC/Versus merger could lead to more network races on NBC.

Roger was asked how many cars he would run next year and he said he was shooting to run three again.  Power is signed but they are still in negotiations with Briscoe and Castroneves.  For full transcript of their interview click here.

Rumor has it that the new IndyCar and Honda engine ran 400 miles on the road course at Indy this past week, so if true any previous bugs appear to have been resolved.

Roger Penske said the new Chevy by Ilmor (a Penske company) will hit the track right after the Japan race and they plan to do a lot of testing with it.

Did you know that Simona de Silvestro is sponsored by French company Areva this weekend?  Well now you do.  Areva is the worldwide leader in the nuclear energy services industry with 55,000 employees worldwide.  They are a silent supporter of the message Simona delivers promoting Nuclear Clean Air Energy, so you will not see their name on the car this weekend, but it's so important to them that their North American CEO, Jacques Besnainou, will be here in Baltimore for the race Sunday.  They have brought 50 nuclear industry clients to the race this weekend.  Mark C. reporting from Baltimore

Sutil, Hulkenberg vie for Force India race seat  (GMM) Adrian Sutil has revealed his "first contact" about the 2012 season will be Force India.

The 28-year-old German has always raced in F1 for the Silverstone based team, through its various guises since 2007 as Spyker, Midland and now Vijay Mallya-led Force India.

But for the 2012 season, with Mallya openly saying he wants Paul di Resta to stay on board, Sutil is regarded as being in direct competition for the other seat with Nico Hulkenberg. More ...
Overheard at Baltimore - Friday  
IndyCar needs to lose the silly front stretch chicane.  It is there to slow the cars over the RR tracks.  Recall the Champ Cars used to fly over the RR tracks in San Jose at full tilt and the fans loved it. 
Opening day at Baltimore saw a big turnout of fans and curiosity seekers as the IndyCars and ALMS took to the streets for the very first time.  According to Claudio Berro of Lotus their new IndyCar engine will be on the dyno this month and hopefully on the track in October.  Rumor has it that Conquest Racing Boss Eric Bachelart is talking to Lotus but he does not have an executed agreement yet.  We hear he will almost definitely run one car next year but hopes to add a 2nd car.......The deadline for signing an engine contract has been extended from August 31st to September 15th.  Most teams we have talked to said the ball in is the manufacturers court.

Ran into Conor Daly and his father Derek who are in town because Conor is back in an Indy Lights cars this weekend.  Daly has been doing better in GP3 and we expect to see him either back in GP3 next year or maybe graduate to the World Series by Renault.  Speaking of Americans in Europe trying to make it to F1, look for Alexander Rossi drive some F1 Friday morning practices for Lotus next year with a shot at making his F1 debut for Lotus in the US Grand Prix at Austin.  Rossi currently race in the World Series by Renault. More ...
Red Bull not keen on F1 rights buyout  
Dietrich Mateschitz
(GMM)  Red Bull is not interested in a push among some rival formula one teams to buy into the sport's commercial rights.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said some of the major teams - but not Red Bull - want to commission a viability study into the idea.

The report said Red Bull, owned by billionaire energy drink magnate Dietrich Mateschitz, considers the proposal a "senseless expenditure".

Toro Rosso seals major deal, title sponsor for 2012  
No more Red Bull colors for Toro Rosso?
(GMM)  A deal between Red Bull's second F1 team Toro Rosso and the Spanish oil brand Cepsa is racing ahead.

That is the latest claim of the Spanish sports daily AS, despite the Cepsa-linked, Abu Dhabi state-owned Aabar recently denying the reports.

In June, part Mercedes GP-owner Aabar admitted to the talks with Red Bull but said they were not about the energy drink company's "formula one teams".

But AS says Toro Rosso's 2011 car will be wearing Cepsa colors starting from next weekend's Italian grand prix at Monza because Red Bull "has already closed the deal". More ...

2012 delay for Bahrain GP, Turkey axed  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today as the 2012 calendar has been published and Turkey is axed and Bahrain is back - see Hot News Page.

07/29/11 (GMM)  Bahrain looks set to be relegated to the tail of next year's F1 calendar.

Writing in the Telegraph, correspondent Tom Cary said in Hungary that the island Kingdom, provisionally scheduled to host the 2012 season opener, will likely drop nine months down the official schedule.

He said F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has apparently "responded to teams' fears over the uncertain political landscape" in Bahrain.

If confirmed, Melbourne would benefit from Bahrain's troubles for the second year in succession by becoming the championship-opening host by default.

The report also said Turkey looks set to be dropped from the 2012 calendar altogether.

Richards and billionaire to buy embattled Renault?  UPDATE #1
Dave Richards
There might be more to this story then only Marcel Boekhoorn's involvement. Marcel Boekhoorn (14th richest Dutchman) invested in McGregor in 2006 (see rumor below), after which the McGregor Fashion Group went to the stock exchange.

McGregor's Fashion Group CEO and Renault Megane Cup race-driver Jeroen Schothorst, is also a partner at the AT&T Williams F1 Team since 2008. At the end of 2010 this contract wasn't, at first, extended. There were many rumors Giedo van der Garde would join an F1 Team for the 2011 season. When this didn't materialize and the management of van der Garde decided to do another season in GP2, the contract with AT&T Williams was renewed again.

Last year one of Marcel Boekhoorn's business rivals, Dutch investor Frank Botman, acquired 5% of the Williams F1 Team, together with business partner and Holland’s 11th richest person, media tycoon John de Mol, owner of Cyrte Investment, Talpa Entertainment and creator of Big Brother. Its imaginable Boekhoorn wants to get out of the Williams partnership deal, as he is indirectly 'sponsoring' his business rival Botman ...  Interesting detail is that the AT&T Williams 2nd largest corporate sponsor is Randstad, owned by Frits Goldschmeding and Holland's 4th richest person !

Could a Dutch take-over of the Renault F1 Team, by Boekhoorn, Schothorst (McGregor) and Goldschmedding (Randstad) all involved, and with Giedo van der Garde as a driver, be possible ... ? Then there are also 2 young Schothorst race-kids in the pipeline, both sons of McGregor Fashion Group CEO Jeroen Schothorst. These are Pieter Schothorst (19 y/o), who is racing in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and Steijn Schothorst (16 y/o) who is racing in the Dutch Formula Ford series ... !

With a view to the future, a possible take-over of the Renault F1 Team by the McGregor Fashion Group could make a lot of sense to Jeroen Schothorst ... "

Watch this space ... to be continued ... More ...

Lotus re-signs Trulli  Team Lotus have already confirmed Jarno Trulli as a race driver for the 2012 Formula 1 season, according to the Italian, although the Anglo-Malaysian outfit are yet to confirm as much. Trulli has been with the Tony Fernandes-run operation since it debuted on the grid at the start of the 2010 season.

“We have already sorted next year,” Trulli told website Manipe F1. It was fixed and is fixed, so we are not in contact talks at all at the moment - it's all fixed for 2012.”

He admits that he is unsure when an official confirmation will be made:

“I have a contract. Whether the team want to announce it or not, it's none of my business.”

Trulli is set to be running alongside Heikki Kovalainen once again. To date Karun Chandhok is the only other driver to have raced for the team, as he replaced Trulli for a one-off appearance at this season’s German Grand Prix.
Clint Bowyer Ford bound  Longtime Chevy driver Clint Bowyer was spotted touring the Petty and Roush Racing shops today so do not be surprised to see him in a Ford next year.
Indy or Laguna to lose MotoGP race to Austin GP track in 2013?  UPDATE #6 Attendance for the weekend’s MotoGP event was a mixed bag for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Attendance for Sunday’s main event was 64,151, a slight improvement from last year’s 62,749, according to MotoGP officials. But the three-day total going through the turnstiles at the Speedway was 134,766, the lowest of the event’s four-year stint in Indianapolis. A total of 136,184 spectators attended all three days of action at the Speedway in 2010.

In 2009, attendance was 75,130 for Sunday's race and 146,680 for the entire event. The three-day total for the first event in 2008 set the high-water mark at 170,000, according to MotoGP officials.

IMS officials are still in negotiations with MotoGP to host the race next year. Speedway spokesman Doug Boles said an announcement will be made—one way or the other—in September.

“We’d certainly like to have it again,” Boles said. “We definitely think there’s a place for motorcycle racing at the Speedway.”

Speedway officials said they like the MotoGP race because it draws a different audience from the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400. If they can’t sign a deal with MotoGP, they said they will consider hosting a motorcycle race sanctioned by another series (read that the France Family owned AMA Series). More ...
Qatar buying Silverstone lease - report  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  Reports that Qatar is the likely buyer of the $400m lease of British grand prix venue Silverstone have been denied.

A British newspaper this week said the Arab emirate's sovereign wealth fund is in exclusive talks for the 150-year lease with track owner The British Racing Drivers' Club.

But the Gulf Times said the Qatar Investment Authority rejected the "authenticity of press reports ... that it is a close to a deal" over Silverstone.

And an official source told the Qatar News Agency that there are "no relevant negotiations, currently nor in the past, in this respect". More ...

Two DRS zones for Monza  UPDATE (GMM)  There will be two independent DRS zones in use during next weekend's Italian grand prix at Monza.

There were also two rear-wing overtaking zones per lap in Montreal and Valencia, but due to the complexity of operating the system for the FIA, there was just one activation point per circuit.

The two independent zones at Monza, a first for formula one, will mean that chasing drivers have two separate opportunities per lap to get within one second of their rival prior to reaching the overtaking zones.

At high speed Monza, the first DRS will be located on the pit straight, and the other on the long run to the Ascari chicane, according to Globo Esporte (Brazil), Auto Hebdo (France) and Autosprint (Italy).

08/29/11 The FIA is to use two independent DRS zones for the first time at the forthcoming Italian Grand Prix. For Monza, DRS can be deployed both on the start/finish straight and between the second Lesmo and the Ascari chicane. The detection point for the first zone will be between the Lesmos, while for the pits straight the marker line will be on the exit of the Parabolica.
Kubica to test Toyota's driver simulator  (GMM)  Robert Kubica's return to the formula one cockpit will begin at the wheel of a sophisticated driver simulator, according to reports.

The Swiss newspaper Blick, as well as Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, said the first test will probably take place at Toyota's state-of-the-art Cologne facility.

Toyota will reportedly be selected because its simulator is much better than Enstone-based Renault's. More ...

Hendrick to re-sign Dale Jr.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he expects to have the extension of his NASCAR Sprint Cup contract with Hendrick Motorsports completed in the next few days. "I feel pretty good where I am at and really happy who I am working with," Earnhardt said. "You have to be comfortable in your work environment, and I feel good with the people that I'm around. I trust (team owner) Rick (Hendrick). My sister (Kelley Earnhardt), who's a bit of my business manager, she gets along with everybody working there. They're working through a new contract, and all that stuff should be done in the next few days." The new contract is expected to be for five years, which would carry Earnhardt through the 2017 season. The driver affectionately known as Junior would be 43 at the end of that term. Fox Sports
Overheard at Infineon - Sunday  UPDATE #2 More on the rumor below from the Indy Star that Penske, KV Racing and Andretti will run Chevy engines next year.  When Cosworth did not get the contract to do the Lotus engine one knew their days of sponsoring KV Racing were doomed because Kevin Kalkhoven is an owner of both Cosworth and KV Racing.

The KV Racing team will have a different engine partner, and that means a literal color change.

KV will work with Chevrolet, which means it won't be with Lotus, the company that has covered the team in British racing green.

Signing with Chevrolet also means KV won't be with Honda, which has backed Sato throughout his career, including seven seasons in Formula One. Honda also has long been paired with Kanaan, IndyCar's 2004 champion who drove for Honda's factory team (Andretti Green Racing) for eight years. He won 14 races in that span.

Vasser conceded it will be different not being a green team.

"But it's all just paint," he said.

KV is the second confirmed of what will be at least three top teams for Chevrolet. Team Penske will be the lead team, and it hopes to return three cars. Andretti Autosport also is headed for the Detroit-based manufacturer, although Michael Andretti said his Indianapolis-based organization could have two, three or four cars next year. Indy Star

Except for a few hundred empty seats, the main 15,000 seat grandstand was full.  With 45,000 in attendance it again proves IndyCar fans prefer the road course races.
Note: We revised today's crowd estimate to 45,000.  Track staff told us between 42,000 and 47,000 were in attendance.  If so you can bet the IndyCars will be back here next year.

08/28/11 After a 90-minute fog delay the IndyCars finally took to the track for morning warm-up and Will Power  led the way over Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe.  The rest of the day should be sunny and warm.......We saw more traffic coming into the track than in recent years and the attendance appeared to be the biggest crowd IndyCar ever had.  We are told the walk-up crowd was really good and estimates have attendance over 45,000.  However a return here for the IndyCars is not a sure thing as the race really needs a title sponsor.  We feel that with today's attendance IndyCar will be back.

First out this morning were the three IndyCar 2-seaters with Mario Andretti who was hammering around the serpentine Infineon track at 100%, banging up and down through the gearbox at full throttle and not leaving much on the table.  One of his passengers was HPD boss Erik Berkman who told Mario to hang it out because he really wanted to experience the speed of the 2-seater.  "Mario left nothing on the table," said Berkman, "he was sliding the car and pushing it hard.  It was a blast."  At 71 years old will Mario ever slow down?  We suspect not anytime soon, and what better way to live a healthy retired life but by staying active.  Go Mario Go! More ...
IndyCar eyes Mexico City race  UPDATE For more information on this rumor, see our Friday 'Rumors' from Infineon Raceway.  Randy Bernard is learning that it will be hard to maintain a 50/50 oval/road course split for IndyCar because 1) more road and street circuits want an IndyCar race, 2) IndyCar fans prefer the road and street circuits (if you doubt us just look at the empty seats at the oval races), and 3) NASCAR owns the oval business in the USA and IndyCar will, therefore, never be able to establish a strong foothold (Ask Brian France if he wants IndyCar taking away from his oval track monopoly)..

CART raced in Mexico City in 2003 before 300,000 fans, but Tony George destroyed all that CART had built
The president of IndyCar’s commercial division, Terry Angstadt, revealed to La Aficion that they would like to have a race at the Hermanos Rodriguez track and a Mexican driver in the series. Mexico not only has awaken interest in Formula One to have a race in the medium term, but also the IndyCar Series who is working to bring its show to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City in two years.

In this way they are looking to integrate into the Hispanic market through a project that also includes the arrival of a Mexican driver into the grid of the series as an additional element so the event has more appeal to the local fans. More ...

Sunday announcement for French GP return  (GMM)  The return of the French grand prix could be announced just before Sunday's race at Spa-Francorchamps.

It is believed that Bernie Ecclestone's Paul Ricard circuit will be named as F1's new French venue, to annually alternate the hosting rights with Belgium.

France's autohebdo.fr reports that Gilles Dufaigneux, who is heading French prime minister Francois Fillon's push for a formula one comeback, is at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend.

The report said he is set to meet on Sunday with Bernie Ecclestone, who has rushed to the Belgian circuit after the wedding in Rome of his daughter Petra.

Does McLaren plan to build F1 engines?  McLaren has hired Formula 1 engine designer Axel Wendorff – but the word in Woking is that journalists should not jump to any obvious conclusions about what he will be doing for the group, as the intention (at least in the short term) is for him to be working on the team’s road car programs. More ...
Overheard at Infineon - Saturday  The Andretti's are happy to have Go-Daddy stay with the team despite the departure of Danica Patrick.  "Sponsors have to account for every dollar they spend these days and for them to choose to stay with us is very much appreciated," said Michael Andretti.  "I love that they are cutting edge, pushing the limit, and I can identify with that because that is how I lived my life in racing," said Mario Andretti.  I hear that Go Daddy is considering using the Andrettis in their ads and may even use them in one of their Super Bowl ads......I hear that Andretti is close to announcing their engine partner for next year, and could be announced next weekend in Baltimore, but that is a decision for the manufacturer.  Rumors say they will team with Chevy, but nothing is confirmed.

Speaking of teaming with engine manufacturers, HVM boss Keith Wiggins tells us they hope to make their announcement this week as well.  Team owners have to commit to a minimum number of cars for next year, but if they want to increase that number later the engine partner could refuse if they are already fully committed with other teams. Wiggins also tells us that Simona's Visa issues should be resolved in time for the Baltimore race.  She has to consult with the Swiss Consulate office, but that is not open until Monday. We asked Wiggins if he would re-hire Mike Cannon for a 3rd time now that he is no longer with KV Racing.  Wiggins would not give a definite answer but he did say "it's a matter of principle since he left us twice."  More ...
Overheard at Infineon - Friday  UPDATE We spoke to Will Phillips, IndyCar VP of Technology, about testing of the new car.  He said, "the rumors of problems with the new car have been exaggerated.  We have only had two engine problems and one was due to the ECU that we are using on the test car.  It is not the new ECU that will be used next year and it caused an issue.  Honda has fixed the problem and we will be testing this coming week on the IndyCar road course.  The problems are nothing more than you would expect for a new car and we are still on the schedule that we planned.  We will have the first test open to the media in late September on the Indy Speedway oval."

08/26/11 After the morning fog burned off Friday turned out to be a perfect day for racing at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.  Word in the paddock is that testing of the new IndyCar has not gone well.  How bad is it?  So bad that last week's planned test in Texas was cancelled.  At the first test at Mid-Ohio the car only managed about 8 laps or so according to reports.  The 2nd test at Barber Motorsports Park was not much better according to unconfirmed reports.  Some are saying that the new Honda engine has had problems, but a Honda spokesperson was pretty tight lipped and he referred us the IndyCar.  We heard 7 engines have been put in the new car, but the Honda spokesperson said not that many.  Are they blowing up?  Is there another problem?  So far no one is saying.  We hope to get a word from IndyCar on the matter this weekend.  Teething problems with a new car are to be expected, that's why it is called testing. On a better note we hear the new engine sounds really good.  It was described as sounding like a Champ Car but a bit more throaty.  The next test for the new car is supposedly on the Indy road course this coming week.  Indy road course....hmm, why the IndyCars don't race on that road course as a 2nd race (instead of Moto GP) is beyond us.  It would instantly draw over 100,000 people and could be called the Indy 250. More ...
Silverstone to raise $400m with 100-year lease  (GMM)  Rumors at Spa this weekend suggest British grand prix venue Silverstone will be leased to a private bidder.

The Independent newspaper said the Northamptonshire venue's owner the British Racing Drivers' Club is signing a 100-year lease with the unnamed bidder "for around $400m".

The news ties in with the recent lodgment of plans to develop the area around the circuit with business and technology parks, a welcome centre, a motor sport museum, an education campus and three hotels.

Managing director Richard Phillips said of the plans recently: "This is the most important initiative that Silverstone has taken in its 60-year history."

Bernie Ecclestone, already in control at Paul Ricard and Turkey's Istanbul Park, has denied he is the buyer of the Silverstone lease.

IndyCar to make another mistake?  Discussions with IndyCar are continuing, but finding a date remains a stumbling block. Until NASCAR determines a time for its second 2012 Chicago event in the next few weeks, finding an agreeable IndyCar date won't be possible. Chicago Tribune

[Editor's Note:  You can't hide the dismal crowd at Chicagoland. Will IndyCar add another oval that will make themselves look like losers with near-empty grandstands?]

INDYCAR may be losing Danica to NASCAR but GO DADDY is staying.  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Go Daddy is committing to IndyCar for another two years ... joining forces with three generations of a family synonymous with racing legend. Today, Go Daddy announced it has signed Mario, Michael and Marco Andretti as spokespeople and will also sponsor one of the Andretti Autosport IndyCar entries, with its driver and car to be revealed later this season. The deal officially begins next year and extends through the 2013 season.

08/26/11 SPEED.com has confirmed there will be an announcement that Andretti Autosport and GO DADDY will remain partners in the IZOD INDYCAR series, as first reported last Sunday night on WIND TUNNEL.

A source close to GO DADDY also confirmed that Patrick's sponsor since 2008 is expected to be on the side of one of Michael Andretti's three (or four) cars in 2012.

It's not known if Patrick would be the driver of the Go Daddy Indy car if she returns to the team for Indy, but Andretti is believed to be open to running the only woman to ever win an Indy car race and she would be available since her Nationwide race at Charlotte is on Saturday next May.

Holding onto the contract would be a major save for Andretti Autosport since GO DADDY is one of the most lucrative sponsors in open-wheel racing, and could make it easier for the team to keep its current lineup, minus Patrick. SPEED.com
2012 F1 test season to begin February 7th - report  (GMM)  Just over two months after the 2011 season wraps up in Brazil, the pre-season test program for next year's world championship will commence.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport revealed that the first winter test will take place on 7 February at Jerez.

There will be only two other winter tests, with a fourth test to take place during the 2012 race season.

Valencia's Ricardo Tormo permanent circuit will no longer be used as a winter venue, as its tight curves are not applicable to most of the tracks on the race calendar. More ...

Ferrari struggle with new flexible wing - report  (GMM)  Ferrari designed and tested a more flexible front wing recently but it did not work as planned.

That is the claim of the Italian publication Autosprint, with Fernando Alonso quoted as admitting the intention was for "better cornering behavior".

In short, the idea of the increased flexibility was not to get it to bend closer to the ground, but to be able to adjust to the different flows of air whilst the car is changing direction.

But "in the only tests done so far, it was difficult (for Ferrari) to get it working", added Autosprint.

Webber signs 2012 Red Bull deal?  UPDATE (GMM)  Mark Webber on Thursday hinted he is close to inking a deal to stay at Red Bull in 2012.

It has been suggested that the Australian is all set to sign on the dotted line, and that the basic deal would be agreed over the course of the recent summer break.

"I know some of you are waiting for news on my future," he is quoted as writing in a column for BBC Sport.

Webber, 34, said he met with Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz in Salzburg on the way to Hungary, the last race before F1 closed shop for the month of August.

And he revealed on Thursday that, "as planned, the ... break gave me a good opportunity to have a chat with team principal Christian Horner about me continuing in 2012". More ...

Backmarker Logano to lose Home Depot backing  Aflac is expected back in a limited role but the Michigan garage area was rampant with rumors Home Depot, who reportedly coveted having Edwards as its spokesperson had me made the move to Joe Gibbs Racing, might find its way to the #99 car. The home improvement giant has been a staple of the JGR sponsor stable for years, dating back to its two Sprint Cup championships with Tony Stewart. However since Joey Logano took over the ride from the departed Stewart, the struggling performance level for the young driver has forced Home Depot management to watch arch rival Lowes grab the spotlight for five years running with Jimmie Johnson's title runs. CBS Sports
Detroit GP to be revived?  UPDATE #2
The last time the IRL visited Belle Isle Justin Wilson won for the Newman/Haas team.  The race, like all those before lost money.  Can the IRL be successful this time?
No one loves open wheel racing or the city of Detroit more than Roger Penske, a big reason he's trying to bring an IndyCar series race back to Belle Isle next summer.

So, what are the chances? Well, it's 50-50 and the answer will be known at the end of next month.

Penske attended the Motorsports Hall of Fame induction ceremony Wednesday night at the Fillmore. Donnie Allison (stock cars), Sid Collins (at large), Roger McCluskey (open wheel), Augie Pabst (sports car), Ed "Ace" McCulloch (drag racing), Bruce Penhall (motorcycles) and Ed Winfield (historic) were all inducted. More ...

Grosjean to test for, maybe replace Heidfeld  UPDATE
Romain Grosjean
(GMM)  Romain Grosjean says speculation his formula one career is set to speed up with Renault is "quite funny".

Although Bruno Senna has been named as dumped Nick Heidfeld's replacement at Spa-Francorchamps, rumors insist the Eric Boullier-managed Frenchman Grosjean is a contender for the seat once his GP2 title is wrapped up.

The 25-year-old, whose F1 career got off to an abortive start amid the 'crashgate' scandal in 2009, seemed to acknowledge at least that a ride during a Friday morning practice session is possible.

"It's quite funny to hear rumors; speculation will always be there in formula one," said Grosjean.

"At the moment, it's not something we're thinking about.  First of all, there is business to finish in GP2 then, if the opportunity presents itself later in the season, we will see." More ...

Spengler goes from Mercedes to BMW  The rumors that current championship leader and Mercedes driver Bruno Spengler is going to switch to BMW next year are growing stronger. 

The Canadian has driven for Mercedes in the DTM since 2005 with second in the championship twice as his best result so far.

BMW are reported to have contacted Spengler early this year as a part of their build up process for 2012. Spengler does either not want to confirm or deny the ongoing rumors of his switch in an interview with Autosport.

"I don't want to say more than I said a few races ago, I can't comment," said Spengler. Touring Car Times

Senna to replace Heidfeld  UPDATE #4 (GMM)  24 hours before the drivers file into the Spa-Francorchamps paddock, there is no confirmation about Nick Heidfeld's apparent loss of his Renault race seat.

Multiple media sources are unofficially confirming Heidfeld's former boss Eddie Jordan's claim this week that Bruno Senna will be in the black R31 alongside Vitaly Petrov this weekend in Belgium and possibly beyond.

Germany's Bild newspaper said Renault is not denying the story.

"We do not want to comment on speculation," a spokesperson is quoted as saying. More ...

Will Randy Bernard quit?  A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, What is the update from IndyCar and the Vegas finale? We're inside of two months and there has been no announcement as far as who the five will be going for the $5 million and the overall talk has died down even inside the IndyCar paddock. This has the makings of a complete disaster! And with the Loudon results hanging in the balance, Penske or Ganassi will not take on another car for the race if a championship is on the line. I like Randy's energy, but this along with forcing the new car on every owner in this economy, and the fact that they can't increase TV numbers is very disturbing. Will he actually eat his words and quit if IndyCar doesn't get a 0.8 or whatever he was quoted as saying? Brandon Stevens

Dear Brandon, I suspect Randy is waiting to see what NASCAR drivers make the Chase and which ones will be available to race in Vegas before announcing the five drivers.  Rest assured he is not going to get all the big names he was hoping for, and the only NASCAR driver good enough to possibly win the race would be Juan Montoya.  In fact the France family is not going to let their big name drivers help IndyCar succeed.  They will read them the riot act, like "boy, you want to continue racing in NASCAR?  Because if you run that race and help IndyCar gain publicity using your star status that we built for you, you may as well stay over there 'cause you ain't welcome here no more."  Will Randy quit if he does not beat the 0.8 TV rating on ABC?  I doubt it.  Mark C.

Heidfeld to sue Renault if dropped  
Nick Heidfeld
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld could sue Renault if the team confirms its reported plans to drop him for the rest of the 2011 season.

Enstone based Renault on Tuesday released its usual pre-race quotes ahead of the Spa-Francorchamps race weekend but did not mention the proposed driver lineup.

The development comes amid rumors Bruno Senna, apparently with millions in potential Brazilian sponsorship, is set to replace German Heidfeld in Belgium and beyond.

But Daily Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary on Tuesday said Heidfeld, 34, would likely tackle those plans with legal action.

"The (newspaper) understands that ... Heidfeld ... is prepared to use legal channels to hang on to his race seat," said Cary.

He added that Heidfeld "may argue that it is unreasonable to replace him on grounds of performance" given that he has actually scored more points than teammate Vitaly Petrov so far.

More evidence VW may enter F1?  Willy Rampf, former Technical Director at the Sauber F1 team, has been recruited as Technical Director by Volkswagen Motorsport. The German, who left the Hinwil team last year to be replaced by James Key, will oversee VW’s World Rally project.

Now 58, Rampf has been appointed as head of the scheme overseeing the Polo R WRC car, according to German publication Motorsport Aktuell. He will be working alongside Francois-Xavier Demaison, Chief Engineer.

The new commitment is not a rallying first for Rampf, who headed up BMW’s Dakar motorcycle project at the end of the 1990s.
DTM future for Schumacher  (GMM)  Norbert Haug has refused to rule out the possibility of a future in the DTM series for Michael Schumacher.

Although all parties have dismissed speculation the seven time world champion is set to call time on his F1 comeback, Mercedes chief Haug admitted the idea of both Michael and Ralf Schumacher driving in the German touring car series is not far-fetched.

"Michael is full of respect for the DTM drivers," he told the DPA news agency.  "At some point he will definitely test our new DTM coupe for 2012."

A race seat in DTM could then be discussed if and when "Michael no longer wants to drive in formula one", added Haug.

DRS could be banned at Eau Rouge  The FIA is weighing up whether or not to ban the use of DRS through Eau Rouge at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, on the back of safety concerns voiced by drivers.

In the wake of the restrictions imposed through the Monaco tunnel earlier this year, the famous Eau Rouge sequence at Spa-Francorchamps has been singled out as another area of worry by some drivers.

It is feared that there could be an increased risk of accidents if drivers are tempted to take the 180mph turn with DRS fully open in practice or qualifying - when DRS use is totally free. More ...

Kubica to begin simulator tests soon - report  (GMM)  Robert Kubica is inching closer to his return to formula one.

The currently injured Pole last week answered "we'll see" amid expectations he might be fit enough to return to formula one in the coming months.

It had emerged that his rehabilitation from his horror February rally crash will speed up after an imminent elbow mobilization operation.

"After the surgery Kubica will begin immediately with simulator tests," said the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Will IndyCar replace Brian Barnhart?  In his latest SpeedTV.com article Robin Miller lays out some potential replacements for Brian Barnhart as IndyCar Chief Steward.  After he screwed Paul Tracy out of his win in the 2002 Indy500 because he was a CART driver, he should have been canned years ago.

BEAUX BARFIELD: Currently runs race control in ALMS, Barfield (39) was a former driver of some merit and officiated Atlantics, Trans Am and Formula BMW. He knows the rule book and the rules of the road and is respected by the sports car set. He’s the perfect age to usher in a new generation of cars and engines and drivers. And he’s an open-wheel guy at heart who would relish the job. More ...
Renault 'bullying' Heidfeld  
Nick Heidfeld in Melbourne
(GMM)  Eddie Jordan suspects Renault team management are guilty of "bullying".

The former F1 team owner and boss, now a pundit for British television, is referring to Eric Boullier and Gerard Lopez's outspoken criticism of Nick Heidfeld's results and leadership qualities.

German veteran Heidfeld replaced injured regular Robert Kubica this season, but now Renault test drivers Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean are being linked with the seat. More ...

Indian GP to sell out  Organizers of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix and home-grown Formula One drivers believe there will be a full house for the October 30 race at the 120,000-capacity circuit on the outskirts of Delhi.

Sameer Gaur, managing director and chief executive of race promoters JPSI, announced the start of ticket sales on Saturday and handed the first two to Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok.

Gaur said all logistical arrangements had been made to ensure a full house at the 5.14-km Buddh International Circuit and his optimism was shared by F1 driver Chandhok. More ...

Butch Leitzinger to drive for Dyson  According to AR1.com sources, Butch Leitzinger, of Rebersburg, PA of Rebersburg, PA will drive the final two ALMS races this year in Dyson Racing' LMP1 car.

In a dramatic, last lap attempt, Butch Leitzinger, of Rebersburg, PA, stormed to the LMPC class pole position at Road America yesterday by a mere 0.095s over the second place qualifier. Having spent the majority of the qualifying session building up heat in the tires and waiting for the traffic to clear out in front of him, Leitzinger's final lap dash for the pole caught the paddock and the race announcers by surprise. Touring Road America's fourteen turn, four mile layout in 1:59.262 in the #52 Oreca FLM09, Leitzinger was able to stay in front of an incredibly competitive LMPC field that saw the top four qualifiers put up times that were less than second of each other.

Leitzinger's performance was made all the more impressive by the fact that he is making his American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n LMPC class debut this weekend.

"I've never driven one of these cars before, but PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports did such a good job preparing it for us, I just felt right at home immediately," Leitzinger said. "And the good news for tomorrow's race is that I'm not even the fastest in this #52 car this weekend. Rudy is actually quicker, so it's looking great for tomorrow."

The call goes out again  A reader writes, Dear AR1, You have to be kidding me!
Canadian Jacques Villeneuve on pole and Montreal's own Alex Tagliani next to him for the Montreal Nationwide race.
Come on guys.
For real!
Sorry...but this is the most blatant piece of NASCAR qualifying revisionism I have ever seen (another computer generated NASCAR grid to pump up ticket sales).
Yes, it even trumps Junior at Daytona.
When are the suits in Daytona going to play it fair and square?
When are these WWF lookalikes going to realize that there are people out here with more than half a brain who can see through this farce?
What a complete load of rubbish.
Shame on the teams and drivers too for allowing themselves to be used like circus animals. They all know it's going on but they keep letting NASCAR play their silly games.
How can you call this a sport...... it's plain old fashioned snake oil and hucksterism. Ray Masters
Danica will not race in Indy 500 anymore  WRTV-ABC in Indianapolis is reporting that Patrick will not run in the 2012 Indianapolis 500 once she moves to NASCAR full-time next year.
Danica Patrick's Move To NASCAR Could Be Announced Next Week  Danica Patrick and sponsor GoDaddy.com will announce their plans for 2012 next week in Phoenix, sources told FOXSports.com

There's no one like Danica, both on and off the track. Check out some of our favorite photos of her in action. A press conference is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 10 a.m. PT.

According to sources, Patrick, 29, will run the full season in the Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports in 2012. A limited schedule in the Sprint Cup Series with cars fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing, with the intent of moving full time to Cup in 2013, is in the works.

When Stewart-Haas team co-owner Tony Stewart was asked about Patrick at a charity event at Texas Motor Speedway on Tuesday, he replied, "I don’t have an IndyCar team, and I don’t have a Nationwide team so. FOXSports

Will politics eventually kill Baltimore race?  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, I smell a rat in ISC.  They own the nearby Richmond, VA track and as we saw in Phoenix, Miami and elsewhere, when IndyCar Racing comes to race near one of their tracks they (France family -the self anointed dictators of USA racing) get the political opponents of the incumbent party to undermine the race and eventually kill it off.  Jeff Bridges

08/16/11 Mayoral challenger Otis Rolley questioned Monday whether the city will profit from the Baltimore Grand Prix, and called on Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to release all city documents related to the three-day event.

Other challengers in next month’s Democratic primary joined in the criticism, saying the event raised doubts about Rawlings-Blake’s spending priorities, and how carefully she weighed the costs and benefits of the race before she pledged millions of dollars to support it.

The Baltimore Grand Prix, a three-day event culminating in an IndyCar race through the streets along the Inner Harbor on Sept. 4, is one of the most visible projects Rawlings-Blake has pursued during her 18 months in office.

Rolley’s press conference, and the follow-up remarks by former City Councilman Joseph T. “Jody” Landers and state Sen. Catherine Pugh, amounted to the most significant attempt yet by Rawlings-Blake’s challengers to portray the event as a potential liability for the city and its mayor. The race comes nine days before the Sept. 13 mayoral primary. More ...

Bianchi to replace Barrichello at Williams?  
Ferrari protege Jules Bianchi
(GMM)  A veteran journalist has linked GP2 driver Jules Bianchi with the Williams seat currently occupied by Rubens Barrichello for the 2012 season.

Brazilian Barrichello, the most experienced driver in formula one history, is waiting to have his contract renewed by the famous British team.

But his countryman Livio Oricchio, who writes for the O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, has said this week that the 39-year-old's seat is in doubt because "Frank Williams needs money".

He said Williams' main revenue streams are Pastor Maldonado's sponsor PDVSA, F1 television income, and minor backers like Randstad, Reuters, ATT and Oris. More ...

Expect IndyCar back in New Hampshire  “Ideally, I'd like to have them [IndyCar] come back,” NHMS General Manager Jerry Gappens said on Monday night. “But we've got to make it work from a financial standpoint. The encouraging thing is I came in this morning and had a dozen emails that were printed out for me from race fans and every one of them was positive, which is unusual for the morning after a race. Usually there are a couple of hiccups.”

In consultation with Bruton Smith, CEO of track owner Speedway Motorsports Inc., along with IndyCar chief executive officer Randy Bernard and his people, Gappens will try to determine whether it's feasible to keep the race.

“I talked to Bruton last night and one of the things talked about was trying to generate more corporate support for the race,” Gappens said. “With that, and certainly with some more fans buying tickets, I think we're on to something. But I think it's going to take that to make it work.” More ...

Will Newman/Haas appeal IndyCar outcome?  UPDATE Dear AR1.com, Newman/Haas just posted on their twitter feed that they did in fact file a protest after the race.  No details but we'll see what comes of it.  I agree it was a terrible decision to restart the race, and that Hunter-Reay was more deserving of the win.  Still, the rulebook needs to mean something, and if one goes by the rules, I think Servia should be declared the winner. Brian Carroccio

Dear Brian, Rulebook?  Look at the cheating that was going on in Indy Lights for quite some time until the team owners put their foot down.  They had a rulebook too.  Does not mean they are going to follow it.  Here is something else for you to ponder.  Remember when IndyCar had all those side-by-side photo finishes in a time when all the cars were not identical 'spec' cars like they are today?  What happened to all those photo finishes when they were running G-Forces against Dallaras with different engines in a time when they were trying to kill CART?  Now that all the cars are identical Dallara Hondas the side-by-side finishes have pretty much ceased.  You would think we would see more photos finishes with 'spec' cars not the other way around.  Does anyone know how that happened back then? There is a lot of speculation about what was in those sealed ECUs before Honda became the sole engine supplier. Some things just make you scratch your head.  Mark C.

08/15/11 A reader asks, Dear AR1.com, Any word on whether Newman Haas will file a protest.  The replay of the Power/Danica crash (not the live shot) shows the green flag waved very briefly before the yellow came out.  Servia looked to be ahead when the green came out and when the yellow came out.  According to the rules, should it not be pretty clear and simple that Servia won the race.  Newman Haas should appeal the outcome. Brian Carroccio, Rockville, MD

Dear Brian, No word but I doubt it.  To keep the peace they will probably not pursue it.  The race should have never gone green in the first place, so Oriol would have been second.  I understand Oriol's point of view, but it is just like the instant replay in football.  The call on the field can later be reversed if it was found to be in error.  I categorize this situation in the same boat.  Hunter-Reay had the faster car and deserved to win, and Oriol drove a good race and deserved to finish 2nd. Mark C.

New IndyCar 15 mph faster  Computer simulations show that IndyCar's new car with turbocharged engines can be 15 mph quicker on road and street circuits. The increase on oval tracks hasn't been determined.

"It'll be as much as we want," project manager Tony Cotman said Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, an oval track.

Speeds will be regulated by the amount of horsepower permitted to the 2.2-liter V6 engines of Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus.

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard is advocating speed records at all tracks -- he's most interested in new marks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- to show fans "things they've never seen before."

It will take a 10 mph jump to break Arie Luyendyk's Indy record of 237.498 mph. More ...

Tire engineer unlocks secrets for McLaren  (GMM)  There is a secret to McLaren's recent success, according to the German trade magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

With Lewis Hamilton and then Jenson Button winning the most recent German and Hungarian grands prix, the report said a big reason for the erosion of Red Bull's dominance is a Japanese engineer.

Hiroshi Imai, who until 2009 was former F1 supplier Bridgestone's chief engineer, is now working at McLaren on unlocking the secrets of the heavily-degrading Pirellis.

"He seems to have made a breakthrough," said Auto Motor und Sport, revealing that McLaren has worked to better cool the brakes so that the heat is not transferred to the tires.

Team Lotus boss to buy Ecclestone's QPR stake  
Tony Fernandes
(GMM)  Yet another F1 name is being linked with Queens Park Rangers (QPR), the London football club that will contest the 2011-12 Premier League.

The Financial Times (FT) and The Observer report that Tony Fernandes, owner and team principal of Team Lotus, is set to buy 51 per cent of the club from F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

Ecclestone, 80, is said to be selling the remaining part of his 62 per cent stake to steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, with an announcement possible on Monday.

FT said Malaysian Fernandes, who earlier expressed interest in buying the London club West Ham United, "is close to finalizing a deal" for QPR. More ...

New Hampshire IndyCar race could be the last  UPDATE #3
Will Power gestures to IndyCar Control after making the race go green on a wet track that resulted in him getting taken out by a spinning Danica Patrick
Jerry Gappens, General Manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, said after the race that about 30,000 were in attendance for Sunday's race and he has until September 1st to make a decision about bringing IndyCar back next year.  He stated that he would like to grow it to at least 50,000 to make it financially sound. He said he liked the controversy at the end when Will Power offered this gesture to race officials in the scoring tower (which was obviously followed by an apology from ABC) because it had people talking about the event.  He understood that Power did it in the heat of the moment and hoped he would not get fined.  Brian Barnhart met with the media and admitted he made a mistake in going green again.

08/14/11 IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard met with the media before today's MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which marked the return of Indy car racing to New England for the first time since 1998.

But did it necessarily mean that the Izod IndyCar Series would be back at NHMS in 2012?

While attendance figures were likely to be less that what was anticipated, given the inclement weather that prompted the scheduled 4 p.m. start of the ABC-televised race to be moved up a half hour, Bernard said he planned to discuss the series' future at the track with Jerry Gappens, NHMS executive vice president and general manager, and Bruton Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., the parent company of NHMS.

"We're in this for the long haul, too,'' Bernard said. "If Bruton and Jerry want to try it again, and we continue to see growth, I think that's the most important thing we can do.'' More ...

IndyCar race could rain out  UPDATE #2 A light shower at lap 75 has caused the race to slow behind the pace car with Dario Franchitti, who had led all the way, out front.

08/14/11 The race has started and it looks like they may get it in so this rumor is downgraded to 'speculation.'

08/14/11 Today's IndyCar race on the 1-mile oval in Loudon, New Hampshire could rain out.  The forecast calls for a 100% chance of rain showers at noon dropping to 30% at 2 PM and back up to 40% at the 4 PM race time.  Monday's forecast is even worse, calling for a 70% chance of rain all day. Unlike road and street circuits, IndyCars do not have rain tires for oval tracks.
NASCAR Cup race to rain out  UPDATE #2 We're on the trailing edge of the rain and they just sent the dryers out on track. It would be pretty late if they managed to squeeze it in tonight though.

08/14/11 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' now.  It started to rain in Watkins Glen at 1 PM and there is no way this race will run today, or maybe even tomorrow.  We await official word.

08/14/11 The current forecast for Watkins Glen calls for an 80% chance of rain Sunday, with a 70% chance at 1:00pm/et when the race is scheduled to start. That 70% chance continues through 8:00pm/et. Watkins Glen does not have lights and the Sprint Cup cars, unlike the Nationwide cars, do not have rain tires to race in the rain. The Monday forecast is not much better, with a 70% chance of rain during the day.
Lights out?  Ever since the controversy over cheating in the Firestone Indy Lights series by the Sam Schmidt team earlier this year, the size of the Indy Lights grid has been dwindling and is now down to just 12 cars for this weekend's race in Loudon, NH.  We're are not sure if it is a case of team owners no longer trusting the league officials, or a case of ride-buying drivers no longer wanting to waste their money on a series where they think they do not have a fair shot at winning.

Another reason can be money.  When you crash your car on an oval the repair bill can get very expensive very fast.  It could be a total write-off.

Regardless, the field size has been shrinking even before this, leading one to wonder if it will be 'Lights Out' for the series next year.

There is one chance to salvage the series as we wrote last month. (Related article)

Penske to keep 'beyond his prime' Castroneves  
But he can dance
If Helio Castroneves is worried about not having a ride with Team Penske next season ---- and it seems he is ---- team president Tim Cindric said Saturday he expects the Brazilian to be retained.  "I anticipate him being with us next year," Cindric said (even though he is not as fast as he used to be).

Before qualifying for today's Izod IndyCar Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Castroneves said he has started thinking about a backup plan just in case.

Castroneves said the team is due to notify him of its plans in September. More ...

IndyCar eyeing a race in Seattle  Word on the street is that IndyCar, inconjunction with the same group responsible for making the Baltimore GP a reality, is eyeing a possible street race in Seattle, Washington.  Seattle is close to Vancouver, Canada, which was a successful race for CART until building for the Winter Olympics encroached on the race course and killed the event.  So IndyCar racing is not new to the region.

Interesting story about Vancouver - the CART IndyCars would go through the kink in the backstraight at 180 mph sideways.  You could noticeably see the tail end of the IndyCars stepped out from the front in the overhead camera shot as they struggled for adhesion on the limit of control.  It was pretty spectacular to watch, yet in all those years the TV announcers at the time never picked up on this sensational display of skill and never talked about it - oblivious to the world around them.  A lost opportunity.

That would never happen in a NASCAR race broadcast, and hence why they are winning the war.

Could Baltimore GP sell out their grandstand tickets?  With three weeks to go Baltimore Gran Prix race organizers are said to have sold about 75 percent of grandstand tickets and more than 80 hospitality suites.  No word on the exact number of seats built, but if they get good weather and a good walkup crowd, 100% sold is not out of the question.
No. 5 Hendrick car may be axed after this year  
As a reward for coming into NASCAR, Mark Martin was on pole for the Daytona 500 with the GoDaddy No.5 last year
According to AR1.com sources, the No. 5 Hendrick car driven by Mark Martin this year is very much up in the air for 2012.  Hearing that core team members are already jumping ship. Speculation is that GoDaddy will move all their money to Danica Patrick's Nationwide and Cup cars, leaving the No. 5 without a sponsor.
Track News
NASCAR track owners may lose their tax breaks  
SMI and ISC, who own most of the NASCAR tracks, may lose their tax breaks
Short line railroads, the government of American Samoa and owners of Nascar tracks are among a diverse group that may encounter added resistance in a drive to protect billions of dollars in U.S. tax breaks.

Each year or two lawmakers collect dozens of unrelated tax advantages for businesses and individuals and renew them in one measure. The grab bag is a bonanza for lobbyists stretching from Daytona Beach, Florida, to Pago Pago in American Samoa.

“Over time, they’ve been collected together and considered as a package. Some of these provisions move by inertia,” said Marc Gerson, a former Republican tax counsel to the House Ways and Means Committee. “There hasn’t been a separate evaluation of their merits,” he told Bloomberg Government. More ...

Overheard at Indy - Carb Day (ABC Deal)  UPDATE #2 As an ABC/ESPN Insider told AR1.com back in May at Indy (see below) - they were keen on renewing the 5-race IndyCar deal and indeed they did just that with Wednesday's announcement.  So that part of this rumor is now 'fact.'

05/28/11 A reader writes with regard to the rumor that ABC wants to keep the Indy 500 - I think if IndyCar splits the next deal with NBC-Versus/ABC-ESPN, they're making a big mistake. The Indy 500 is their only leverage, and they have to force the next TV partner to take the rest of the season in order to get the Indy 500. The problem for the next TV partner is the Indy 500 is not lucrative enough to make up for the cost of the boat anchor the rest of the season is, especially if Danica leaves.  Kenn Fong

Dear Kenn, Unfortunately IndyCar signed a 10-year noose around their neck contract with Versus and they have 7 years to go on that contract, 7 more years of 0.2 and 0.3 ratings.  So unless NBC takes it all (Versus is now an NBC property) and markets the series as a whole, they will continue to have some races on ABC and some on Versus.  How dumb is that? One has to hope that NBC wants the Indy 500 bad enough to outbid ABC for the contract.  Nothing against ABC mind you, but having the entire series as either an NBC/Versus property or an ABC/ESPN property is best. Mark C.

05/27/11 A lot of talk today about the Anchor Teams signed by Chevy (Team Penske) and Honda (Ganassi Racing) and what advantage the Anchor Teams may have over the other teams.  The Anchor Teams will be the first to test development pieces but we talked to Will Phillips and he said on race day everyone must have access to run the same pieces.  Whether they can afford to buy the new faster parts is another story.

IndyCar is asking Lotus to try and pick their Anchor Team by tomorrow......Look for the Anchor Team deals with the manufacturers to be multi-year deals but IndyCar will probably mandate that all other deals be one year deals so that if and when a new manufacturer comes into the series, they will find there are no decent teams to pick from.

Now that Chevy and Honda have announced their Anchor Teams, the manufacturers can start to sign their other teams starting tomorrow.  More ...

Spa to alternate F1 race with French GP return?  UPDATE
(GMM)  Organizers of the Belgian grand prix have admitted it is possible Spa-Francorchamps will in future only host a single F1 race every two years.

It has been rumored that the famous and much-loved Belgian venue might have to alternatively share a single annual calendar slot as the French grand prix vies to return.

Belgian promoter Etienne Davignon told the Belga news agency that a solution along those lines is indeed "under discussion" between Spa, Bernie Ecclestone and French officials.

"The competition among countries who are willing to hold grands prix on their territory is becoming stronger," he said.

"The alternating solution would be to perpetuate the Belgian grand prix on the championship calendar." More ...

F1 tire-saving rule tweak likely in 2012  (GMM)  According to two authoritative figures, a tweak or two to the tire rules is likely for 2012.

Bernie Ecclestone told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport that new supplier Pirelli has done "an incredible job" in providing tires that degrade quickly in order to spice up the show.

But the interviewer told the F1 chief executive that qualifying is often "uninteresting" because drivers choose to save fresh tires for the crucial race.

"The solution for that is very simple: to provide more sets of tires to the drivers," said Ecclestone.

The tire-saving practice sometimes involves a driver graduating to the next phase of qualifying, but then refusing to use waste another set of tires in bidding for a higher grid spot.

"It's true," Pirelli motor sport director Paul Hembery told the Spanish sports daily AS, "we need to stop that little trick."

Bristol race to be a sellout  
Bristol was a sellout for 55 straight races
Bristol Motor Speedway, which once boasted a streak of 55 consecutive sell-outs for its NASCAR Cup races, may be ready to embark on another run of full stadiums beginning later this month.
“We’re going to be close,” Jerry Caldwell, general manager of BMS, said Wednesday. “That’s our goal. We’ll see how this last push goes.

“... Either way, it’s going to be very close and a huge crowd.”

The popular track, located just a few miles from the Tennessee/Virginia state line, seats approximately 150,500 in the grandstands, with an additional 9,700 seats in the suites. Until the 2010 season, announced crowds of 160,000 for its two annual Cup races had been the norm. More ...

Crawford and Lola eye Rolex Series  Two additional racecar constructors are considering building new Daytona Prototypes to the revised Grand-Am rulebook set for next season. Grand-Am vice president Dave Spitzer insists that the new rules, which allow smaller cockpit areas, are on course to revitalize the Daytona Prototype category.

"The whole point of the new bodywork is to inject new energy into the prototype class," he said. "There is interest from new constructors; a couple of parties have made inquiries that could go further."

Spitzer suggested that a newcomer could be on the grid next season if it took over one of the DP designs not currently on the grid. Those include the Crawford and the Lola (the rights to which are held by ProtoAuto), both of which have not ruled out a return.

The three DP builders whose "constructor licenses" remain valid--Riley, Dallara and Coyote--are producing revised bodywork, according to Grand-Am. AutoWeek

Will India F1 race be stopped?  

Mercedes interested in di Resta?  (GMM)  Paul di Resta's manager has hinted Mercedes could be interested in signing the rookie Scot for 2012.

The comments by Anthony Hamilton on Tuesday follow Michael Schumacher's reported admission in the Italian press this week that he is not sure "if my mindset is right for this team".

"At some point we will evaluate whether I continue or stop," said the seven time world champion.

Should the German return to retirement, di Resta - impressive on his F1 race debut with Mercedes-powered Force India this year - is considered the favorite for the seat.

He won the DTM championship with Mercedes last year and remains close to the German carmaker. More ...

Wilson won't need surgery  The compression fracture in Justin Wilson's back was compared to injuries suffered by Vitor Meira and Will Power in 2009, which, if true, means his Izod IndyCar Series season is over.

However, that decision has not been made, a Dreyer & Reinbold Racing official said Sunday.

Wilson was flown to Indianapolis on Sunday, one day after his off-track excursion at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He was examined by Dr. Terry Trammell at OrthoIndy.

Wilson couldn't be reached for comment, but he tweeted that surgery isn't expected to be necessary. He added he will wear a back brace for an extended period. More ...
NASCAR Truck Points leader to be penalized  UPDATE Corrected rumor title.

08/07/11 The truck of Camping World Truck Series points leader Johnny Sauter failed postrace inspection Sunday morning at Pocono Raceway.

Sauter, finished fourth to increase his series points lead to five over Austin Dillon but his truck was too high in the right rear, according to NASCAR.

The truck was a backup as Sauter crashed in qualifying Saturday.

The ThorSport Racing driver can expect penalties for the infraction. Earlier this year, driver Kyle Busch was docked six Sprint Cup points after his car was too low in postrace inspection.

Buemi to be replaced by Ricciardo?  Sebastien Buemi insists he's not at all concerned about rumors that Daniel Ricciardo could take his Toro Rosso race-seat next season.

With Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko revealing Ricciardo is the most likely replacement for Mark Webber when he steps down, the team is keen to give the 22-year-old experience in lower ranked teams.

Already they have signed a deal with HRT that saw Ricciardo made his F1 debut at the British GP as Narain Karthikeyan's replacement.

Rumors, though, claim after his spate with HRT, Ricciardo is set to move to Toro Rosso next season. More ...

2012 IndyCar schedule still in flux  IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said the 2012 schedule is still about a month from being finalized and released. Still possible are races in Brazil (2nd) and China. AR1 rumored long ago that a 2nd race in Brazil is pretty much a done deal. China we have our doubts.
Montoya to be back with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing  Juan Pablo Montoya has agreed to return to Earnhardt Ganassi Racing next season, with only minor details of his contract still to be settled, the driver said Saturday at Pocono Raceway. "I think it's pretty much done-it's all agreed and everything," Montoya said before Saturday morning's qualifying session at the 2.5-mile track. "Just little bits and pieces. I'd say a couple weeks, max." Sporting News
Wilson out with broken back  UPDATE #2 his morning took an unexpected turn for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Justin Wilson, driver of the No. 22 Roll Coater machine, was involved in a single-car incident in this morning's practice for the Honda Indy 200.  Wilson was transported from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to MedCentral Hospital in Mansfield, Ohio by ground transportation. He has an anterior compression fracture of the fifth vertebra and will be kept overnight at MedCentral Hospital in Mansfield, Ohio. Wilson will be transported to Indianapolis tomorrow to meet with Dr. Terry Trammell.  Dreyer & Reinbold PR

08/06/11 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact.'  Justin Wilson suffered a fracture of a thoracic vertebrae.  He will be kept overnight at the local (Mansfield) hospital, then transferred to Indy tomorrow for further treatment.

08/06/11 According to AR1.com sources here at the Mid-Ohio road course Dreyer & Reinbold IndyCar driver Justin Wilson sustained broken vertebrae in his accident this morning and will be out for an undetermined time.  This is only a rumor right now until we hear an official announcement from IndyCar or the team.  Tim Wohlford reporting
NASCAR to copy IndyCar in Texas?  Texas Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series tried a twist to their night of racing in June when the IndyCar Series ran two points races in one night.

Now the track might want to try it in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

TMS President Eddie Gossage and NASCAR Senior Vice President Steve O’Donnell had an informal discussion during the IndyCar weekend on whether the concept could work for a Nationwide event. Whether it actually happens is far from a certainty, but it is an idea that could shine a spotlight on the series. A typical Texas race has been 300 miles, so it's likely splitting the event would result in two races of 150 miles. More ...

NAPA to JGR?  UPDATE #2 Unless Interstate is done with JGR, and it may well create a sponsor conflict at JGR between NAPA and Interstate according to AR1.com sources.  Norm Miller the majority owner of Interstate is a friend of Joe Gibbs and he supported Gibbs when no else would. They also do Bible speaking engagements together.  That makes this rumor somewhat suspect.

08/05/11 Now that we know Carl Edwards is returning to Roush Fenway Racing next season, expect the rest of the Silly Season dominoes to start falling quickly. But even though the Edwards drama is over, there is an aspect of the rumored move by Edwards to Joe Gibbs Racing that seems to have been overlooked by some folks. If Edwards did indeed end up taking over the #20 Home Depot ride, there was talk that JGR would start a fourth team with sponsorship from NAPA. That sounded a little unbelievable considering NAPA currently has a deal with Martin Truex Jr. and Michael Waltrip Racing through 2012. But in a recent article by Lee Spencer over at FOXSports.com, J.D. Gibbs admitted that NAPA had submitted an RFP to JGR regarding sponsorship. So while they may have a contract with MWR through 2012, it appears the auto parts retailer could have an out in their deal and are exploring their options.

A possible reason why NAPA could be looking at other teams to sponsor for 2012 and beyond is the performance of MWR and Truex’s #56 team. Since coming to MWR following the 2009 season, Truex’s results have been disappointing. In 56 races, the #56 car only has one top five and thirteen top ten finishes. This lack of performance led MWR to replace crew chief Pat Tryson in June (we questioned the move then), but a big turnaround has yet to happen. Truex’s average finish in the seven races with new crew chief Chad Johnston has improved from 19.7 to 18.4, but the team has actually dropped two spots in the points. And after nearly two seasons together, NAPA may have seen all they need to see. More ...

Overheard at Mid-Ohio Mid-day update  Hot and muggy here.  Not an empty hotel room anywhere unless you find a cancellation.  Parking lots look full. Looks like it will be a good crowd this weekend.

Word has it that the really big ALMS sponsorship announcement will be an ALMS video game.

We have not spotted the new IndyCar yet, which begins testing Monday with Dan Wheldon at the wheel and a Honda Turbo V6 under the cowling. 

With Sam Schmidt being announced as the third Honda team this morning comes word that a 2nd car for next year is closer to reality.
Hamilton to Red Bull or Ferrari?  UPDATE #6
Hamilton denies Red Bull and Ferrari rumors
(GMM)  With factories closing for the summer break, some sections of the media are left only to speculate about the future.

One hypothetical scenario is Lewis Hamilton reunited with his former McLaren nemesis at Ferrari, however unlikely some observers consider that to be.

But the British driver this week admitted it is a possibility, thanking the Spaniard for helping him "improve as a driver" as his teammate in 2007 and refusing to dismiss Ferrari as a future employer.

"We are talking about a fantastic team and you never know what could happen," Hamilton told the Spanish sports newspaper AS.

And on Friday, the Telegraph's Tom Cary published comments by Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali that indicated Hamilton's affection for the famous Italian team is not a one-way street.

Asked if he has found Hamilton's erratic behavior this year a turn-off, Domenicali answered: "Not at all. More ...

Baltimore GP truly the Long Beach of the East  
Baltimore Track Layout
Per Michael Levitt, race photographer for LAT: "Now that construction has begun on the 2-mile, 13-turn street circuit for the Baltimore Grand Prix, I recently made a trip to the city to check on the photo locations, place the photo holes and make sure we can shoot this race. Having done dozens of street races located in slums, parking lots, and abandoned areas of town, I was shocked to find that the track runs around Camden Yards and the Inner Harbor, passing dozens of landmarks along the way, and surrounded by restaurants, hotels, and attractions. It's incredible (See photos below).

"The track looks great, and like a real racetrack, wide, with good lines, a variety of high, medium and low speed corners, with plenty of room to race, try different lines, and pass. There's also a ton of stuff to do right around the track with the Inner Harbor just feet from the racing surface. Construction is well along, and the level of prep and the quality of the materials is great, nice fence, block and grandstands. More ...
Edwards already signed by Gibbs?  UPDATE #6
Carl Edwards
This rumor is downgraded to 'false' with today's announcement that Edwards will be back with Roush Racing.

08/03/11 According to AR1.com sources Carl Edwards to Joe Gibbs Racing is a done deal, but we do not believe Ford will let him go.  they will do everything to keep him.

07/31/11 The current NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader, Carl Edwards, says the only contract he’s signed was his last one with Jack Roush three years ago.

Whether there’s a current contract or not, the latest scuttlebutt has Edwards driving the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2012 for a staggering amount of money -- $8 million as a base, plus a $10 million signing bonus.

When Kyle Busch was asked about Edwards’ possible move to Joe Gibbs Racing, he replied with a chuckle, “Eighteen million? He’s making a lot of money then.” Another scribe suggested to Busch that he might want to renegotiate his contract. More ...
Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick close to extension deal  
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports is expected to be signed within the next 30 days, his team owner, Rick Hendrick, said Wednesday. Hendrick said he and Earnhardt should have an formal contract extension completed within 30 days although he believes it is, for intents and purposes, already done.

"It will be a multiyear deal. We haven't been in a hurry because we both have taken it for granted that we're doing it," he said. "It's almost a foregone conclusion. We've been busy and there are a lot of contracts with sponsors. A handshake works with him and he and I have a handshake, and that's all he and I really need." Charlotte Observer

Newgarden to IndyCar in 2012?  
Josef Newgarden
Driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, 20-year-old Josef Newgarden has earned two pole positions and four wins from nine Firestone Indy Lights races held this season, and currently holds the championship lead. Newgarden told SPEED.com he still has his sights firmly set on the Indy Lights title, but a move to IndyCar in 2012 is also a high priority.

“It really depends on the championship and what happens towards the end of the year,” he said. “It’s looking like we have a possibility of winning the championship, but that could change at any times so I can’t count on that, but we’re certainly working on IndyCar for next year. If IndyCar isn’t possible, then we’ll have to evaluate things from there.” More ...

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