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Schedule and TV, Chicken or Egg?What comes first, the 2005 Champ Car schedule, or the TV deal? The answer is that both are being worked simultaneously. We hear Champ Car hopes to finalize the 2005 schedule by this Wednesday and then work to complete a TV deal in time for a Las Vegas race weekend announcement. It will be nip and tuck as to whether the TV deal can be done by then. If it is not ready, we hear Champ Car will go ahead and just announce the race schedule with TV to follow when ready. Mark C.
Wood Brothers and Roush splittingThe Wood brothers and Jack Roush are splitting, and it's not clear what's going on behind the scenes. The Wood brothers, who will still be running Roush-Yates engines, shrug off the situation with little comment, saying they've been doing most of their own engineering work for some time now. Roush says the Woods' decision to hire Michael 'Fatback' McSwain has changed the dynamics of the relationship between his five teams and the Wood brothers, who have been allied with Roush on the technological side for several years. The Wood brothers hired McSwain two weeks ago at Ricky Rudd's urging. Rudd and McSwain worked well together in the past, and Rudd hopes the reunion will rekindle that magic. Roush says that he and his drivers were OK with the Wood brothers hiring McSwain but that his crew chiefs are concerned about revealing too many secrets to McSwain. Winston Salem Journal
IRL gearboxes to be weak linkAfter he broke his gearbox under yellow today at Chicagoland, Dario Franchitti said to the ABC TV reporter: "I don't know how these gearboxes are going to survive a road course....let's just say they are not the strongest parts of these cars." Dario went on to say, "It was a very frustrating day. I got shuffled back in the pack at one point, but managed to work my way toward the front. Kyle Moyer made the call to go with a different pit strategy and I got up to second place. Then, under yellow I was running in sixth (gear) and just lost the gear. On the restart, I managed to get around Giaffone, but when I got to fourth gear, that was all I had. I didn't shift or miss a shift so I don't really know what happened, but the gearbox broke."
Jordan's last 2004 race?We found it interesting that on the Austrian TV coverage of today's Monza-F1 GP Heinz Prüller (the long time Austrian TV correspondent & expert) made a statement/hint that the Monza GP was the last race for Jordan F1 this season because Jordan reports huge money problems and cannot afford travel costs for the team and equipment for the final 3 overseas races. Hmm.......
Belgian organiser may be summoned by FIAOrganisers of Belgium's grand prix at Spa-Francorchamps 'may' be summoned to the FIA's World Motor Sport Council. Accredited photographers were manhandled by Belgian police a fortnight ago despite huddling in a designated 'safe' area. ''I've asked for an inquiry,'' FIA president Max Mosley said. He said the police claim to have had a 'plan' of the track that showed no-one - including snappers - should have be in the area. ''So I'm asking 'who gave it to them' and 'why didn't they check with race control before getting busy?' I wait for an answer.'' Mosley confirmed that depending on the response, the FIA has the power to 'invite' the organisers to October's World Council. GMM
New spotter for EarnhardtStevie Reeves, Dale Earnhardt, Jr's spotter, was relieved of his spotter duties by Dale Earnhardt, Inc. racing. Reeves will remain with the team in some other capacity. Steve Hmiel will spot for Jr. this weekend. "We want to win, we can go for a win at all costs, and that means everything," said Earnhardt after he qualified the No. 8 DEI Chevrolet. 8 team members deduced that Hmiel may serve as a better umpire between Earnhardt and the Eury's. Motorsport.com
Gordon to build own team?UPDATE #2 One of the hottest stories in the garage sits inside Childress' head - the future of the team that Robby Gordon drives for. Will Childress sign Gordon to a new contract for 2005 or will Childress sign a new driver? Dave Blaney is the man most prominently mentioned as the candidate for the ride. Ken Schrader is another man also mentioned for the ride. Childress, without saying what his specific options are, expects to make a decision "within the next two weeks." Winston Salem Journal AND Matt Crafton a possible replacement in the #31 Chevy? Matt Crafton, who currently pilots the #6 owned by Kevin Harvick [in the Truck Series] has been mentioned as one of the driver's being considered to inherit the ride of Robby Gordon - IF (and that's a very big IF) Cingular and Richard Childress Racing decide not to renew Gordon's contract. Motorsports.com08/14/04 With one driver situation cleared up for next season with the hiring of Jeff Burton in the No. 30 Chevrolets, Richard Childress Racing owner Richard Childress said he hoped to have the rest of his lineup set in concrete and announced in October. The future of Robby Gordon, driver of RCR's #31 Chevrolets, has been the subject of a mass of rumors over the past several weeks. When asked Friday about the situation with the #31 team, Childress relied: "Robby and I have been talking. What we're going to do in October is announce everything with RCR, even our Busch cars. "It takes one domino to fall and that's going to put everything else in play at RCR. The dominos fell. We got that thing rolling." ThatsRacin.com08/09/04 Robby Gordon's future plans continue to be the subject of debate, and the veteran driver continues dodging the media. The latest report is that he's considering building his own Nextel Cup team for next season. Winston Salem Journal
Will Star Mazda replace the Toyota Atlantic Series in 2006?UPDATE #4 We are downgrading this rumor to 'false' today. AutoRacing1.com learned that the Star Mazda Series has a 5-year deal with the ALMS and hence will not be replacing the Toyota Atlantic Series should Toyota so choose to leave. Mark C.08/10/04 Further investigation reveals that with recent cost cutting measures made by the Toyota Atlantic Series, that Pacific Coast, Team Rahal and Sierra Sierra will race in the series in 2005. There are other positive changes planned for the series in 2005, including sponsorship opportunities. There is a chance Sierra Sierra could move up to Champ Car eventually, but doubt it will be in 2005. Lynx Racing is probably getting out of racing altogether - they are just tired of the grind. Team Rahal will probably run Chris Festa again next year and possibly a 2nd driver (Danica Patrick is probably moving up to Champ Car or sideways to the IRL). Jonathan Bomarito is under contract to run with TransNet in 2005 so it is hoped they will return as well. A recent squabble in Cleveland saw them protest by skipping the last couple of events. Whether Star Mazda will replace Toyota Atlantic in 2006 largely depends on whether Toyota decides to continue their support beyond 2005. 08/10/04 A reader writes, I just read your piece on consolidating some open wheel series and I would like to say that I feel the one series that has been consistent with numbers (30-41 entries in each of the races thus far this year) and great talent (Alex Figge, Joey Hand, Jeff Bucknum, to name a few) has been the Star Mazda series. This years new car is only a few percent slower than the current Atlantic's car and hugely less expensive to operate. They also race great venues as they travel with the ALMS. I'm not sure why it isnt considered to be one of the top training rungs when it comes to the open wheel ladder? Anthony Downs Dear Anthony, Perhaps Mazda, which is owned by Champ Car sponsor Ford, will move the hugely successful Star Mazda Series under the Champ Car series as a replacement for the Toyota Atlantic Series. We heard that was one possibility. Sure makes sense to us. Mark C.08/09/04 A reader writes, Incredible how this continues to shake badly but my suggestion for a replacement series would be the IRL... they are only marginally slower than the Atlantics now and have a bunch of spend crazy manufacturers artificially supporting the series. Plus a number of the lower level IRL drivers could use the road racing experience (say, breaking and turning). Just a thought. John Costello Dear John, The IRL cars are not fast enough to be a feeder series for Champ Car. Something with the size and HP/weight ratio of the Renault V6 makes more sense. IRL cars will be "pigs" on road courses. They really need to stick to ovals. Mark C.08/09/04 If reports are to be believed, the Toyota Atlantic Series might be finished after 2004. Already short on cars this year, we hear Team Rahal, Sierra Sierra, Pacific Coast, Lynx, and TransNet won't answer the bell in 2005. Teams are going to series with all the money, i.e. sponsors and big manufacturer support (Grand-Am, etc.). The Atlantic series also suffers from high cost. It would be a shame to see the series fold because it produces some excellent drivers, but if this rumor is true, and all those teams are leaving after 2004, then OWRS will either need a replacement series (we understand those talks are ongoing) or a major cash infusion for the series.
Silverstone could still lose GPMax Mosley has warned that the British Grand Prix could lose its place on the 2005 world championship schedule if a promoter is not in place to run the race when the provisional calendar for the season is published next month. The FIA president was speaking here yesterday at the end of a week in which the British Racing Drivers' Club made an offer to promote the race at Silverstone for which it says it has yet to receive a response from Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's commercial rights holder. "It has to be a possibility that we could lose the British GP," said Mosley. "There has to be a promoter in place and he has to sign a contract with Mr Ecclestone. If they offer substantially less than the rate for the job then he is entitled to say no. We can't put a race on the calendar unless a contract to promote it is in place." For his part Ecclestone insists he has replied to the BRDC, which owns the circuit. "They know what the conditions are and if they want to sign we'll sign now. Maybe there might be another promoter and the BRDC will simply remain as the landlords." The BDRC also believes that Ecclestone has been paid his fee for the next three British GP under the terms of the severance deal from the American Interpublic group which earlier this year paid him over £50m to surrender their own obligations to promote the race. The Guardian
Villeneuve prepared to take £13m pay cutThe former world champion Jacques Villeneuve was the F1’s second highest-paid driver at £14m when he was ditched by BAR last year. But in a desperate attempt to return to racing he has offered his services to the Swiss-based Sauber team for a cut-price £1m — plus £30,000 for each point he scores. And in a bid to coax boss Peter Sauber into signing him for a two-year deal he has promised to bring with him £5m in sponsorship. Sauber said: “We need a fighter and Jacques is one. The advantage of having an experienced driver is because a young driver takes time to learn. “Jacques is intelligent and would come back highly motivated but we are in no rush to make our final decision.” The Sun
Champ Car to announce Title sponsorUPDATE #2 We have confirmed this deal is definitely not getting announced this weekend. 09/10/04 After talking to others in the paddock this morning we were told to not be so sure that the announcement will happen this weekend. We are still investigating. We apologize for the confusion, but our original source is well connected. Perhaps the deal still is not ready. 09/10/04 AutoRacing1.com sources today in Laguna Seca gave us the green light on this rumor - Look for Internet giant America Online (AOL) to be announced today (or tomorrow) as the new title sponsor of the Champ Car World Series. This deal has far reaching effects in that it is yet another company that thinks global and markets globally and will help Champ Car as it transforms from a small national series into a true international racing powerhouse.
Dalziel to drive Champ Car in Mexico CityRumor has it that Toyota Atlantic title contender Ryan Dalziel will run a third Mi-Jack Conquest Champ Car in the upcoming Mexico City race. He will run the team's backup Reynard we hear, which was quite fast there last year. We hear the car will be crewed by guys from the Sierra Sierra Atlantic team, most of whom came from the PPI Champ Car team.
FOM to take over more F1 TV in 2005The latest whisper in Formula 1 circles is that the Formula One group is to increase its role as the host broadcaster of F1 races in 2005. This is great news because it means that the quality of the programming will be assured as Ecclestone's directors and camera crews understand the importance of what is going on in races and will not simply allow the cameras to follow the leader or the local hero. We hear that next year FOM will provide the broadcasts in Australia, Malaysia, Bahrain, Turkey and Belgium and may also get the deals to cover Canada, the United States, France and Britain. There is no guarantee that all these races will actually take place and it has yet to be agreed that there will be 19 races. This does not seem likely at the moment because the teams are demanding serious amounts of money to pay for another extra race and there is serious doubt over the British Grand Prix. There may also be question marks over France and San Marino. Grandprix.com
TMS close to NASCAR race naming rights dealNaming rights for the second NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway “could be announced early next week.” TMS President Eddie Gossage said that four companies “have expressed interest” FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM
Hornish or McMurray to replace WallaceNow that Rusty Wallace has announced that 2005 will be his final Nextel Cup season, speculation has begun as to who will replace him in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge [in 2006]. The two names that keep coming up are IRL driver Sam Hornish Jr. and Cup driver Jamie McMurray. Hornish and Wallace have the same team owner in Roger Penske, and Hornish considered moving to NASCAR last year. McMurray is under contract with Chip Ganassi, but contract situations can change. "We've got a year and a half to make that decision," Wallace said. "But I don't think we're in the mood to go through a lot of growing pains. Miller wants a young hot shot. We need a guy who's kicking tail right now." Dallas Morning News
Champ Car close to Drifting dealUPDATE #6 Here are two photos of the PKV Gulfstream show car in its prime valet spot in front of the infamous Key Club on Sunset Blvd, in California where the car spent nearly 12 hours slowing traffic and attracting the attention of curious locals, police officers and club-goers as a centerpiece of the Formula Drift season finale party.
09/08/04 Here is the press release on the drifting exhibition at Laguna Seca - Following a successful debut at last May's Road & Track U.S. Sports Car Invitational, some of the top competitors in the fastest growing form of motorsport - drifting - will be putting on an exhibition for fans attending this weekend's Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Seven drivers, all of them competitors in this year's inaugural Formula Drift professional championship, will be putting on half-hour demonstrations for fans at the end of the day on Saturday (5:30 p.m.) and Sunday (4:15 p.m.). The drifting exhibition is sponsored by Racing Revolution Synthetic Oil The sport of drifting began around the mid-1960s on windy, mountain roads in the Nagano area of Japan. Today's version of the sport involves drivers intentionally and skillfully putting their cars into a controlled slide (or drift) at high speed through a marked course. Following is a list of the drivers participating in the demonstration: Tony Angelo, Long Beach, Calif. Endless/Vivid Racing/Rockford Fosgate Nissan 350Z East Coast King of Drifting moved to Long Beach to be near the center of the sport Chris Forsberg, Long Beach, Calif. Motorex/DRFT/Yokohama Nissan 350Z Finished 3rd in inaugural Formula Drift Championship Vaughn Gittin Jr., Glen Burnie, Md. Falken Nissan 240SX Coupe Voted one of the most exciting drivers in Formula Drift, finished 9th in final standings Ken Gushi, City of Industry Gushi Auto/Rotora/Yokohama Nissan 240SX Coupe 17-year-old winner of the $10,000 winner-take-all Road & Track U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May. Alex Pfieffer, Walnut, Calif R-SR/Yokohama Honda S2000 Finished 3rd in Formula Drift season finale in Irwindale, ending the season 10th in championship Calvin Wan, San Francisco, Calif. Falken/Discount Tire Nissan 240SX Hatchback Voted Most Improved Driver and finished fourth in Formula Drift Championship Andy Yen, Temple City, Calif. Autolink/Yokohama Nissan 240SX Hatchback One of the most popular drivers in Formula Drift, he finished 13th in the inaugural championship Daijiro Yoshihara, Japan Pacific Rim Apparel/Yokohama Nissan 240SX Coupe Finished 2nd in the inaugural Formula Drift Championship More information on this weekend's Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey is available online at www.laguna-seca.com. More information on the Formula Drift Championship is available online at www.formuladrift.com. 08/31/04 As part of the promotion for the Formula D Drifting Exhibition in Laguna, Champ Car had a showcar on display this weekend at the Irwindale-based championship round/season finale of the Formula D Series. The event drew between 8000-10,000 enthusiasts and the booth - situated in the choicest of all paddock real estate, thanks to Formula D - was very well attended. 6000 flyers were distributed at the event and nearly 1000 people had their photo taken in or near the Champ Car.
Also, last night there was a Champ Car parked on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood for 12 hours in front of the Key Club which played host to the Formula D Awards Ceremony. Photos of the car being mobbed by people, party-goers, clubbers, cops and drift drivers to follow.
08/30/04 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. AutoRacing1.com has learned that OWRS will indeed bring in a Drifting Exhibition for the Laguna Seca weekend with an eye toward more in the future. The company will be as per below. 08/28/04 Here is a related article on drifting from SPEED TV (Scroll down) 08/27/04 A reader writes to tell us, The track was indeed resisting, but it is back to officially being on for the end of the day Saturday and Sunday. Name Withheld.....We shall see. 08/27/04 AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that Champ Car has inked a deal wherein Formula Drift aka Formula D - North America's first professionally sanctioned drifting series - will put on a choreographed drifting exhibition at Laguna Seca featuring the nation's top six drifters! Details are still being sorted, but the event, if it were to happen, it would be promoted heavily (via a showcar, import models and tons of signage) this weekend at the Championship round of Formula D at Irwindale Speedway. This officially would mark the first time that drifting - or the $3.2 billion/yr sport compact tuner crowd, for that matter - has ever been welcomed into the mix with mainstream motorsports. The problem? Gill Campbell, general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. at Laguna Seca, we are told, has some doubts, which is not making Champ Car happy as they feel it would bring in a lot of new fans. If that is the case, stick a fork in Champ Car racing at Laguna Seca, this will be the last year Champ Car races there. You read it here first.
Villeneuve also eyes SauberUPDATE #2 This rumor is close to 'fact' today, and will probably be so before the weekend is out. Our sources deep within Ferrari tell us that a two year deal for Villeneuve to drive for Sauber is done. Sauber of course uses Ferrari engines. Supposedly there is an option in the contract for Villeneuve to drive for Ferrari, replacing Rubens Barrichello, in year number 2. Mark C.09/08/04 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. Speculation is growing that former world champion Jacques Villeneuve will return to Formula 1 next season with sources claiming the French-Canadian is on the verge of signing a performance-related two-year deal with Sauber. Villeneuve's manager Craig Pollock refused to deny the rumours on Wednesday. Speaking to autosport.com he said: "If I had a deal with Sauber I wouldn't tell you and if I didn't have a deal with Sauber I wouldn't tell you! I've got nothing really to say about that. We're looking at all the options." Speaking recently about his impressions of Peter Sauber, Villeneuve said: "He doesn't really get too involved in perception and politics. And he's the only one who doesn't believe all this crap that was put out about me. He's a very respectful person."
At Spa Sauber confirmed to Autosport.com that Villeneuve was one of several drivers in contention for a race seat for 2005. The team boss is convinced that the 1997 World Champion is fully motivated for a return, but says all that matters is his speed. "He's still on the list. It would only make sense for him to come back to F1 with high motivation. He is intelligent enough to do that, otherwise it's better that he uses his money! It would be nice to have a world champion in the team, but I think that's not so important. We have to look forward and we have to look for a fighter. When you decide on an experienced driver of course there is some advantage. If you go with a young driver like Gary Paffett, then you lose part of the year." Autosport08/26/04 It's looking increasingly unlikely that Jacques Villeneuve will find a seat anywhere in the Formula One pitlane for 2005. The Quebecois was not retained at BAR for this season but has been in contact with the team since Jenson Button vowed to leave. JV, 33, recently also visited Sauber's Swiss HQ. He denied reports that Peter Sauber is 'totally negative' about the '97 champion but confirmed no discussions were taking place. ''(Peter) let me come to the factory,'' Jacques told 'La Presse.' ''But I'm having no real talks -- nothing at all.''
Dark days ahead for the World Rally Championship?With rumors that Ford is going to axe their World Rally program to funnel money toward a bigger F1 effort, already some are speculating that the World Rally Championship could fall on hard times. Hyundai of course pulled out in 2003, and Skoda is only competing in selected events this season. Mitsubishi, who were due to take part all season, also recently announced that they would sit out the final six events, to concentrate on 'testing' for 2005. Their return though is also by no means guaranteed. Without these then, and Ford, only Subaru, Citroen and Peugeot would remain in the series, dark days may indeed be ahead.
Zanardi announcement comingUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Bentley Publishers has announced that the new Alex Zanardi book will be available in October. Alex Zanardi is an inspiring story of how personal strength and passion can triumph over even the most challenging circumstances. Alex Zanardi recounts his incredible story as only Alex can tell it. He takes us from his childhood in Italy through his hard-fought racing success to the moving story of perseverance and love that motivated his recovery. Along the way, Zanardi presents his triumphs and setbacks in kart racing, Formula 3 & 3000, Formula 1, IndyCar and CART racing, culminating in back-to-back CART championships for 1997 and 1998. In riveting detail, Zanardi relates his terrible accident, the long path to recovery and his return to the Lausitz ring in a specially modified 750hp Champ Car to complete the 13 laps he didn't finish in 2001. 09/06/04 We hear that there will be an announcement coming soon regarding Alex Zanardi's new book that will make it readily available to a much larger audience. Stay tuned.....
Aussie driver to test Champ CarUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. David Besnard completed a full day of testing at the Firebird Raceway in Phoenix in one of Champ Car veteran Jimmy Vasser's cars on Tuesday. “It was an awesome experience to finally get into a Champ Car,” he said. “I was excited but a little nervous about the unknown. But after two laps I realised it was just another race car, albeit different to what I normally drive. I did some good times and was very happy at the end of the day. The team also gave me some excellent feedback and there were high fives and handshakes all round at the end.”
Besnard said Jimmy Vasser, who drives for series owner Kevin Kalkhoven's PKV Racing, congratulated him on completion of the session. “He told me that it appeared I picked it up really quickly,” he said. “Before today I wasn't too sure how I would go if I made the field at the Lexmark Indy 300. Now that I've got this first session under my belt I believe that I could be competitive and I would hope to do Queensland proud.”
Craig Gore, who with Champ Car series owner Kevin Kalkhoven is seeking to get an Aussie into this year's Gold Coast race, said Besnard's performance has heightened his confidence that a local driver will compete in the Lexmark Indy 300 after youngster Josh Hunt gave up the drive to focus on securing a seat in the Toyota Atlantic series again next season.
“Obviously today was a great result and I am very proud to say we are moving closer to getting an Australian and, more importantly, a Queenslander into Indy,” Craig Gore said. “There is still a bit of work to do but it was a great effort by PKV Racing to give him the chance to test and, as a result, one would now have to say that Bezzy has a very high chance of being in the field. On today's performance I just hope they don't try to steal him from the V8s in the future.” Crash.net
09/05/04 Rumor has it that Australian V8 Supercar star David Bresnard will get his first taste of a PKV Racing Champ Car next Tuesday at Firebird Raceway as he prepares to make his Champ Car debut at Surfers in October.
Spy photo of new Euro3000 CarUPDATE #2 "While we cannot release details of the new car ahead of the official announcement, we can confirm we will be unveiling an exciting and innovative new design, powered by a V10 engine with 650-700bhp," a teaser statement issued by the series revealed, "The new car will offer a high-tech, low-maintenance, affordable race package for teams." The announcement also confirmed that there will be a minimum of ten races on the 2005 calendar, with the focus on street circuits and one non-championship oval race. All races will also include compulsory pit-stops, which they currently do not. The full calendar is to be confirmed with the presentation of the new car. "The focus will be on creating an action-packed, fun-filled, exciting race weekend for fans, spectators and drivers alike, with live entertainment, music, support series and new race tracks," the statement continued, "The aim is also to make the series more interactive to reinforce the strong relationship between teams, drivers. 09/07/04 Included to the right is the first photo of a scale model of the new Superfund Euro3000 car leaked to the Italian newspaper Velocita. Under the cowling is a 650 HP 3.5 liter ex-Formula 1 V10 that gets 2,500 miles between rebuilds. The article speculates that it is a 4.0 L Judd V10, which is incorrect, it's 3.5 liters. The article also speculates that it might be a Lola or a Dallara. That is also incorrect. The company is relatively new and about to burst on the motorsports scene in a big way. The real car, which we have seen, will be unveiled to the public around the third week in September. At just 200 pounds more than a F1 car, and the same size, but with slicks and underbody tunnels, it will blow an existing Champ Car (which weighs 200+ pounds more) into the weeds. Here's the real kicker, the estimated cost per year to run (chassis, engine and everything complete) is 600,000 Euros, including all races and pre-season and in-season testing. There is hope that a variation of this car could be submitted as the next-generation Champ Car for 2006 running on Ethanol instead of petrol. Let's hope so. 09/01/04 According to this week's Autosport Magazine, Formula 3000 is to vanish from the motor racing landscape completely in the wake of revelations that the Euro 3000 series will follow the International championship into extinction.
Superfund, backer of the Euro 3000 Series for 1999-2001-specification Lolas, is about to commission a brand new chassis and engine as it bids to take on the Renault-backed GP2 category, which is replacing International F3000 for the 2005 season. The new Superfund car will be powered by a V10 engine. Speculation suggests that this will be produced by Judd and that it will power a Dallara chassis [Editor's Note: This is not correct, the chassis will not be supplied by Dallara, but by a new company whose designer is very well known in Champ Car circles. We have the inside scoop on that. And the engine will be a detuned ex-3.5 L F1 engine and badged by a Korean company].
The official announcement of the new category is scheduled for the end of this month, but Superfund’s Martin Schneider, who is responsible for the development of the company’s motorsport series, admitted: “We have something in place which we are introducing very soon. It will be a new car from a different constructor [than Lola]. I apologise for not being able to be too specific right now, but we are currently talking to teams and driver managers to introduce the package, which will be very entertaining.”
“The look of the car will be different,” revealed Schneider. “We believe it will astonish everybody. The emphasis will be on a weekend packed with fun and speed.” He also vowed that costs for teams would be substantially lower than rival categories: “It will be economically very interesting for the teams. We are trying to get a high-tech package which is very affordable for teams and drivers.”
The Superfund category, which is yet to be given a new name, will continue the Euro 3000 format of single races, but pit-stops will be introduced.
Champ Car to make another big announcementAutoRacing1.com sources tell us that Champ Car is putting the finishing touches on another big sponsorship deal that they hope to announce this weekend at Laguna Seca, or at Las Vegas at the latest. Recall that we rumored there were more big sponsor announcements in the pipeline. Originally we heard three, now we hear more. Don't be surprised if announcements are made at both Laguna Seca and Las Vegas. Stay tuned to AutoRacing1 for all the latest news. Mark C.
Swift looking to build Champ CarsUPDATE Lending more credence to this rumor first reported here weeks ago, this week's Italian Autosprint magazine (Italy's version of Autosport) says that Swift owner Hiro Matsushita is eyeing a possible Swift return to the Champ Car series in 2006 and Newman/Haas might be the USA distributor as they were when Switft was in Champ Car in 1997 thru 1999. 08/24/04 Swift, who at one time built Champ Cars for Michael Andretti and the Newman/Haas team, and who supply the current Toyota Atlantic chassis, is looking at stepping it up a notch. We have it on good word that Swift has made some new key hires and is actively seeking to get back into the Champ Car chassis building business. With rumors of an all-new Champ Car for 2006, many companies, both in the USA and abroad, are taking a keen look at the series. First Champ Car must decide what engine they are going to use, V8 or V10, and the physical dimensions and weight of it. Once that is determined, chassis builders can build a car around it. Of course the engine and transmission must be low in weight so Champ Car doesn't end up with a tail happy (i.e. backend heavy like the IRL car) car that doesn't handle well. The series must also decide if they want to run a spec chassis to keep costs at a minimum, or open it up to competition. If we were running Champ Car we probably would put out a request for proposal to around 4 to 6 companies and award to the best bidder a contract to supply the entire grid for 3 years. We would also set a cap on the price of spare parts. Mark C.
2005 Champ Car Schedule to be releasedWe are hearing that the final 2004 Champ Car schedule and the 2005 schedule are tentatively scheduled to be announced on September 15th. The 2004 schedule will be as is minus Korea which is no surprise to anyone. Mark C.
Ferrari eyes Raikkonen to replace SchumacherSpeaking in the October edition of F1 Racing magazine, Ferrari's Jean Todt hinted that they will look to have 24-year-old Kimi Raikkonen replace Michael Schumacher when he retires. “I like Kimi,” said Todt. “He's quick, naturally talented. I like Kimi's style, but for the moment it's really only from a spectator's point of view. When the time comes, I'll decide to go for a certain guy, and that might be Kimi. Kimi doesn't make wild statements. He doesn't try to raise his profile,” said Todt. “I like that. If you want me to tell you which I prefer out of [Juan Pablo] Montoya or Räikkönen, then I'll tell you I prefer Räikkönen. Montoya is a very talented driver, but he's too wild for me – sometimes unnecessarily wild. The guy I go for might be contracted, of course, but I might try to fight that contract.”
Manufacturers submit new intakes for approvalAccording to NASCAR sources all three manufacturers have submitted new intake manifolds for consideration of approval by NASCAR for the 2005 season. The deadline for new part submittal was Sept. 1. The Ford piece doesn't represent an earth shattering improvement, and actually the new item was submitted to help the engine builders assemble and seal the intake system. The current intake possesses a problem due to the orientation of the bolts used to secure it to the head and the fasteners don't allow a seal to the quality of the other manufactures. The GM types are keeping their cards close to their vest, but cited assembly issues. The Dodge Boys weren’t available to learn their desires for a new intake. Team Ford Racing
Andretti to team up with PPCJohn Andretti could be in a Cup car as early as October's Charlotte race. Although officials from PPC Racing would not "confirm or deny" that a deal has been signed, garage sources say Andretti will race a PPC Ford. Dave Charpentier, who was replaced as Ricky Craven's crew chief in July, signed on with PPC last week and likely will work with Andretti. FoxSports/Sporting News
Montreal next for Winston Cup?UPDATE Adding more fuel to this rumor - this Savannah Now article says, NASCAR and Nextel had a booth at the Champ Car race at Montreal last week, prompting many to think the sport is considering an expansion to Canada. 08/16/04 The NASCAR Nextel Cup rumour machine pointed its radar at Canada again this week during the lead up to yesterday's Sirius at the Glen. The latest story making the rounds is that International Speedway Corporation -- which owns Watkins Glen International -- is trying to find a buyer for the upper New York State facility and then moving its race date to Montreal. Sources close to NASCAR say that it would be a win-win situation. Not only would it get a foothold in Canada, it would also get the prestige that goes with racing at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve -- a Formula One track. While the same sources said that NASCAR's venture into Mexico in 2005 with the Busch Grand National series will be its first step outside the U.S., it was felt that the Canadian market was too sophisticated to accept a tier-two Busch race as the real deal. Toronto Sun
Changes coming for Champ Car TVWe are hearing that some changes are afoot regarding the Champ Car TV production. As we understand it some key changes in personnel are forthcoming - not necessarily in the production booth, but elsewhere. As for 2005, work is being done to put some races on network TV. Mark C.
IRL TV rating sets recordUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. We finally got our hands on the official final rating for Nazareth and it was a 0.9/2 share. So much for our ABC sources' information. While a 0.9 is not stellar, it is better than the 0.8 final rating for the IRL's previous race. 09/03/04 Rumor has it that the final Nazareth IRL TV Rating on ABC was a record all-time low for any major auto racing series on Network TV - yes, in history. It was so low it was off all the charts we saw so we contacted a source at ABC who said they heard it was below a 0.6 but they would try to get us the actual number. With ratings like that on a 'network' TV channel, the only conclusion that one can reach is that the tens of millions of dollars that Marlboro, Honda, and Toyota are spending to artificially prop up the IRL is only delaying its inevitable demise.
Toyota does not like IRL restrictionsHaving been in the IRL for several years now, Toyota has seen the IRL way (i.e. IRL restrictive engine specs as they currently supply IRL engines) and apparently are not impressed, at least not the Toyota folks in Germany who make the F1 engines. Talk in F1 circles say that Toyota no longer wants to supply customer engines to other F1 teams because they are not happy with the FIA's 2.4L V8 engine plans, in particular the IRL restrictions inside the engines like a fixed bore, cylinder spacing or minimum weight. Toyota does not support low tech engines and they might join BMW, Mercedes and Honda who plan to offer the FIA a counter proposal in order to avoid having two weekend engines in 2005 and V8's in 2006. In return, these manufacturers will offer the inferior teams and engine manufacturers a pot of money to drown their sorrows.
Puma to sign deal with FerrariSports goods retailer Puma AG will enter into a sponsorship and licensing deal with sportscar maker Ferrari, a German newspaper said on Friday. In an advance copy of its Saturday edition, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung cited Italian business sources as saying that Puma would become a sponsor of Ferrari's Formula One team. In future, Puma will also make red-coloured shoes and clothing similar to those worn by Ferrari drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, the paper said. Reuters
Cosworth already built 2.4L engineRumor has it that a 2.4L V8 Ford Cosworth F1 engine is in the final stages of development. Did they know something the rest did not or have all the manufacturers secretly developed one just in case?
Meeting oval track safety requirementsA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, If Champ Car wants to continue to race on ovals, how will they be able to take the 200 pounds of weight out of the car and still protect the driver? Scott Toth, Boston, MA. Dear Scott, We know of at least one next-gen Champ Car being proposed that is indeed 200 pounds lighter yet meets the 2005 FIA crash tests (5) front, side intrusion, under fuel cell, cockpit top and cockpit floor and rear impact. All these tests exceed the current Champ Car ones. The car must also be big enough to fit a driver as tall as Justin Wilson, it must blow the existing Champ Car into the weeds in terms of performance and it must cost a fraction of the current cost and meet or exceed the longevity of the current Cosworth turbo engine to keep annual costs as low as possible. Such a package exists (we have seen it) so it makes zero sense to keep the current outdated beast much longer. One last point - most ovals have the SAFER Barrier now, which helps a lot! Mark C.
These Americans intend to beat SchumacherUPDATE See hot news page. Johnson and Gordon are confirmed to go up against Michael Schumacher. 09/02/04 Which American drivers can beat Michael Schumacher in equal cars? Rumor has it that Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson will be up for the challenge. They won the event two years ago and we expect they will be back to try and put Michael Schumacher in his place. The 2004 Michelin Race of Champions (ROC) Nations Cup - the motorsports equivalent of soccer's World Cup - will announce its two Team USA drivers this Saturday for the Dec. 4, 2004 race in Paris, France. This year's competitors include seven-time Formula One Champion Michael Schumacher and current World Rally Championship leader Sebastien Loeb. Countries are represented by two-driver teams. At the ROC Nations Cup race, teams compete based on the number of heat wins and combined times (in the event of a draw). In every match, racers go head-to-head against their counterparts, resulting in extremely close action and finishes often separated by only fractions of a second. The team emerging from Saturday's final earns "the World's Fastest Nation" title.
Champ Car/NASCAR doubleheader updateRumor has it that tickets continue to sell very well for the Champ Car/NASCAR Truck Saturday night doubleheader coming up later this month in Las Vegas. Apparently Champ Car and NASCAR fans alike are snapping up the special ticket package deal which includes a pit and paddock pass along with the reserved grandstand seat ticket. NASCAR fans don't always get such up-close opportunities. Supposedly the general admission grandstand seats are already sold out and some people are predicting a crowd of 90K to 100K. We also hear there may be some race sponsor news coming. Mark C.
Walker Racing eyes SellersWord on the street is that Toyota Atlantic Lynx driver Bryan Sellers and Derrick Walker have been having conversations, and Bryan drove to Indy the other day for a several hour meeting with Walker's marketing people. It all comes down to who gets the sponsorship, of course, but Walker is definitely interested in -- and willing to put out some effort for Bryan Sellers. Sellers has been added to our 2005 Champ Car Silly Season Page. Mark C.
Champ Car to consider 2nd Aussie raceUPDATE While we still believe that Adelaide is the best place for a 2nd Champ Car race in Australia, the Australian V8 Supercar Series is facing interesting hurdles that could open the door for Champ Car. Phillip Island, one of Australia's most beautiful circuits, was recently bought by Linfox Property Group, which is owned by the wealthy businessman Lindsay Fox and his son, Andrew, who is Linfox managing director and runs the Phillip Island track. He says he won’t pay the high fee the V8s want to return next year and will thus negotiate with Germany’s DTM or other event. Meanwhile we have learned more about Kalkhoven's trip to Australia. It seems Kalkhoven and Champ Car president Dick Eidswick are en route to Australia for the promotion/press conference kickoff Sept 3rd (in DreamWorld Theme park - same place Ryan Hunter-Reay is going) for the Surfers race, but they are also taking a detour to the Cook Islands immediately after Surfers, and will not return to the US until Sept 8th. Supposedly the Cook Islands detour is to celebrate Eidswick's birthday. Cook Islands are 15 secluded islands in the heart of the South Pacific spread over an area the size of India with a population no bigger than a small New Zealand country town, 14,000 souls, so Champ Car won't be racing there anytime soon. 08/31/04 One of our forum members reports that Brett Ramsay interviewed Kevin Kalkhoven for the Melbourne TV show “In Pit Lane” at the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed meeting. Kevin said that he is going to travel to Australia later this year (he told AutoRacing1.com the same thing - in fact we believe he may be there this week kicking off the big promotion for Surfers) to investigate a venue/s for a possible second Australian round. Brett Ramsay asked if Phillip Island and Calder Park were on the list but Kevin was non-committal. No mention was made of when the event would be scheduled. Kevin also mentioned something about getting more than one new Australian driver in the series. Hmmm.....
Recall that in 2002 we published the article Should CART/Champ Car race in Adelaide? (Also see related Adelaide article). In the article we make the argument that Adelaide was one of the best, if not the best, street course ever built. Champ Car shares the limelight with the V8 Supercars in Surfers and since the V8 Supercars already attract a huge attendance at Adelaide, why not run a doubleheader there as well. Adelaide and Surfers are hundreds of miles apart, so two races on back-to-back weekends in Australia is entirely doable. Adelaide reluctantly lost their F1 race. Getting Champ Cars and V8's together will more than make up for their loss. Mark C.
Maryland wants to build NASCAR trackWashington County, Maryland Commissioner John C. Munson thinks a stock car racetrack would be a good fit here, and he wants his fellow board members to support the idea. Munson suggested on Tuesday that the board write a letter to the owner of Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., asking him to build a track in Washington County. Munson said he got the idea after he heard that the owner of Pocono Raceway wanted to upgrade a dirt track in Cumberland, Md., to possibly attract national stock car racing. Pocono Raceway hosts two NASCAR Nextel Cup Series races a year, NASCAR's top series. Gov. Robert Ehrlich said Friday during his visit to Washington County that he had a conversation earlier that day about the possibility of bringing NASCAR's Busch Series to Western Maryland, possibly including Washington County. Herald-Mail
Cheever Racing to run Grand-AmCheever Racing could lead an influx of IRL IndyCar Series teams to join Chip Ganassi Racing in the Grand-American Sportscar Series for next season according to Autosport Magazine. The team, run by former Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever, has admitted that it is looking at expanding into the Daytona Prototype division of the US based championship.
Cheever, who stopped racing at the end of 2002 to concentrate on running his team, said: “We are looking at it seriously. We haven’t made a decision and we are still at the studying stage, but we are very interested in doing it for 2005. “I visited the opening round of the series at Daytona earlier this year and was very impressed with what is going on in Grand-Am. It fits in well with our strategy.”
Cheever, who won eight world series sportscar races in the ’80s, explained that he was talking to two carmakers – one new to the series – about a supply of engines and was also in negotiations with leading chassis suppliers. An expansion of Cheever Racing into sportscars could result in its 46-year old boss making a return to the cockpit. “I’d love to do Daytona and maybe Le Mans, but that is not the driving force behind this project,” he said. [LeMan's Eddie? Dream on - that's ALMS not Grand-Am]
Grand-Am boss Roger Edmondson reckons that Cheever is just one of a number of IRL squads eyeing up his series. “We know that there are several other teams of similar status looking at us for next year,” he said.
NASCAR now going to allow Crown RoyalAfter all the fuss when Jeff Burton was still with the team, now Jack Roush will likely get that $15 million a year Crown Royal sponsorship for [#99] Carl Edwards, according to NASCAR sources. Winston Salem Journal
Auto giants want one-race engineHonda, BMW and Mercedes-Benz were this week making a last-ditch attempt to stave off the threat of two-race engines being introduced in F1 next season. The three companies held talks over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend and are believed to be promising to back an engine fund for customer teams in exchange for one-race engines being retained next year. The manufacturers have until September 6 to tell the FIA their plans. Autosport Magazine
Panis could replace Ralf SchumacherToyota is considering offering Olivier Panis a testing role with the team next year if the Frenchman fails to land a race seat elsewhere. Team boss John Howett said: “We are talking to Olivier about staying with Toyota in other capacities as well as race driving. He is still pretty quick with the equipment that we are able to provide.” Panis could also be put on standby to replace Ralf Schumacher if the German is not fully fit following his United States Grand Prix accident. Autosport understands that there is a performance clause allowing Toyota to drop the German if he does not perform well in the first six races of next year. Autosport Magazine
New F1 team in worksBritish entrepreneur Maximillion Cooper, the brains behind the annual Gumball 3000 rally, is targeting a new Formula 1 team based on his successful fun-loving lifestyle brand. Autosport reveals that Gumball 3000 will appear as a Formula 1 sponsor later this year – most likely with BAR – and that the company has its sights set on purchasing a current outfit to form its own team within the next few years.
Speaking exclusively to Autosport about his ambitions, Cooper said: “We are trying to treat our Gumball brand like something as powerful as Virgin and buying a Formula 1 team is part of that. It’s early days for us in Formula 1 at the moment, but we are starting to have a presence and we don’t know what can happen in the future.”
Cooper will not bankroll the team himself, but his plans revolve around investment from loyal Gumball 3000 competitors, who he believes are keen to see the brand make it in F1. Sources reveal that around half of the 100 competitors regularly taking part in the Gumball 3000 event are in the Fortune 500 list of the wealthiest businessmen in the world. Autosport
IRL to St. PetersburgUPDATE #4 This St. Petersburg Times article confirms the IRL race in St. Pete has a green light and Thursday will be the announcement. Champ Car is now out of the two biggest markets in Florida - Miami and St. Pete, markets where races can be held during months the north is still cold. 08/29/04 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. This Indy Star article says, The Indy Racing League's first non-oval race won't be on a road course after all. It will be on the streets. The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.) will be April 3, 2005. A formal announcement on the race will come Thursday in St. Petersburg, league spokesman John Griffin said Saturday at Nazareth Speedway. The IRL previously announced road-course races for next season at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. Those events will be Aug. 28 and Sept. 25, respectively. That will push the IRL's schedule to 17 events. The St. Petersburg race will be promoted by a group that includes Barry Green, a former team owner in the Championship Auto Racing Teams series. Green, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1995 with driver Jacques Villeneuve, has been out of motor sports since selling his race team to Michael Andretti and two other men at the end of the 2002 season. 08/18/04 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today and will probably soon go to 'fact.' This Tampa Tribune article says The city of St. Petersburg, Indy Racing League and an unnamed promoter are close to an agreement that would revive the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, several sources said Tuesday. A city official and an IRL spokesman would only say that no contract has been signed. Other sources said the deal is all but done and an announcement - in which a title sponsor may be named - should come within the next few weeks. Kevin Dunn, managing director of development for St. Petersburg and a key participant in the process, said he believes there's a strong probability the race will happen. But he added: ``It's like building a development project: Until they break ground, it really isn't real.'' IRL vice president of public relations John Griffin said there won't be an announcement this week but that progress has been made since the IRL first confirmed its interest in racing at St. Petersburg last month. More....08/18/04 This week's Autosport Magazine says, St. Petersburg, Florida is poised to be named as the first street-course venue on the IRL IndyCar Series calendar. The city hosted a Champ Car event on a street facility in 2003, but dropped off the schedule for this year. With the Open Wheel Racing Series showing no signs of offering the track a place on its 2005 Champ Car calendar, IRL IndyCar officials have stepped in. Gerald Forsythe, a founder member of the OWRS, admitted: “The St Petersburg race is no longer on our list.” An announcement from the IRL is expected next week, when it seems likely that St Petersburg will be given a date in April. When the provisional 2005 IRL calendar was released, it contained a three-week gap in April in the run-up to the blue-riband Indianapolis 500 that takes place in May. One possibility is that the IRL race could form one half of a St Petersburg double-header with the American Le Mans Series. ALMS boss Scott Atherton admitted to Autosport that the city was a contender to host an ALMS street race early next spring, although he did stress that two more inner-city venues were ahead of it in the list of possibilities. There is a precedent for the ALMS joining up with a single seater series – it ran with Champ Car at Miami on a street course in 2002-2003. 08/17/04 According to a report on Wind Tunnel Monday night, the IRL will announce a race in St. Petersburg, Florida within a week on the same course developed for Champ Car. The report also says that Champ Car will have a street race in Tampa and Autoracing1 sources told us the plan is to hold the Tampa race on the same weekend, or within one week either side of the IRL race in St. Petersburg.
Bas Leinders eyes Champ CarAccording to Italian publication Autosprint Magazine, at the F1 Belgium Grand Prix, local driver Bas Leinders (pictured right, Minardi F1 team test driver) says: "If I will not be able to run in Formula 1 next year, I will go in Champ Cars with Conquest Racing." Conquest team boss Eric Bachelart is Belgian and is Leinders. Mark C.
Michael Schumacher to retireUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' as the press conference has been called off. The German instead vowed to fight on until his passion dies. 08/31/04 Reports out of Europe are telling us that Michael Schumacher has scheduled a press conference for tomorrow at Monza and the speculation is that he will announce his retirement at the end of the 2004 season. Perhaps getting passed around the outside by Juan Montoya at Spa Sunday was enough to convince him he had better go out now while he is still on top.
Herbert back to ALMSUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See Hot News page article about 2nd ADT Audi entry. 08/18/04 ALMS Champion Audi team owner Dave Maraj was on Wind Tunnel Monday and said his goal was to expand to a 2-car team later this year. He talked about the extra 50 kg of weight and further restictied engine they will be forced to use in 2005 in an effort to reduce the dominace of the R8. Now Autosport Magazine reports that Johnny Herbert looks certain to return to the American Le Mans Series with the Champion Audi team at the end of the season. The 40-year-old Briton, who is racing in the Le Mans Endurance Series with the Veloqx Audi squad this year, has agreed to drive in October’s Laguna Seca finale with the team for which he scored four wins last year. The deal, which means Herbert will drive a second R8 alongside Champion’s regular car, could herald a full-time return to the squad for next season. Champion owner Dave Maraj said: “I’m sure Johnny will be with me at Laguna, but I don’t know who his teammate will be. I will be speaking to Audi Sport about who might be available. I need someone with Audi R8 experience – it could be one of the factory drivers.” Herbert, who raced for Champion in 2001-03, said: “It will be nice to go back and have a bit of fun in a one-off. I’m pretty sure it is going to happen for Laguna.” Champion’s plan to run a second car is linked to a desire to enter two cars throughout the 2005 ALMS. Maraj said: “I don’t want to turn up with two cars for the first time at Sebring next year. I want to do Laguna Seca as a dry run.” The expansion plans are “90 per cent certain”, according to Maraj, who has never made any secret of his admiration for Herbert and hinted that he might try to lure the two-time grand prix winner back to the USA. Maraj explained that he wanted to run a pair of R8s for the good of the ALMS, which has had a reduction in the prototype field for 2004. “I feel I have a responsibility to try to keep the series alive, so that when the new-style prototypes come in in ’06 there will still be a championship,” he said.
Rusty Wallace replacementSeveral names have come up as consideration to who will drive the No. 2 car in 2006. Jamie McMurray has been mentioned, although Wallace denies he would try to pry McMurray from Chip Ganassi, and Ganassi recently exercized a contract option on McMurray. Also in the distance is young Indy Racing League star Sam Hornish, who drives for Penske in Indy Car. There have been indications that Hornish might like to try NASCAR, at least a Daytona 500, but no speculation about long-term NASCAR plans for Hornish. Speed TV
Craven Out, Hamilton Jr InWith rumors swirling about when Bobby Hamilton Jr would take over the driving duties for the PPI Motorsports #32 Tide Chevrolet, it appears that the axe has finally fallen for Ricky Craven. Expect Hamilton Jr to finish out the year for PPI as he takes over for Craven starting this weekend at California Speedway for the Pop Secret 500. It's expected that PPI will announce in the next day or two that Craven has been released from his contract.
Wallace to become TV commentatorThis SPEED TV article says, Word on the street is that Rusty Wallace, who Monday announced his retirement from driving, effective end of 2005, may take up television broadcasting when NASCAR renegotiates its network situations for 2007. Sources indicate that Wallace, 48, could have a spot in the booth for one of the networks, although details are not yet clear.
NASCAR's current contracts with Fox (through 2008) and NBC/TNT (through 2006) are due for renegotiation. Fox's broadcast team is headed by Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. NBC's group includes Allen Bestwick, Benny Parsons and Wally Dallenbach.
A quote from Fox Sports attributed to Waltrip further hinted at a future TV role for Wallace. "Rusty is a great spokesman for our sport," DW noted. "He is very charismatic and has a great personality. We were once fierce competitors on the track. It wouldn't surprise me to be competitors again sometime soon."
19-race 2005 F1 calendarAccording to reports in the Italian press Formula One is set for a nineteen-race schedule next season, one more than the record 18 in 2004. Turkey’s Istanbul was added at the end of July. The new calendar, that was distributed around the Spa-Francorchamps paddock is yet to be officially confirmed, a formal vote by FIA World Council needed before it is officially released, however the Gazzetta dello Sport published the 2005 calendar as follows: Round 1. March 6th - Australia Round 2. March 20th - Malaysia Round 3. April 3rd - Bahrain Round 4. April 17th - Imola Round 5. April 24th - Europe (Nurburgring) Round 6. May 8th - Spain Round 7. May 22nd - Monaco Round 8. June 5th - Canada Round 9. June 12th - USA Round 10. June 26th - France Round 11. July 3rd - Britain Round 12. July 17th - Germany Round 13. July 31st - Turkey Round 14. August 21st - Hungary Round 15. September 4th - Belgium Round 16. September 11th - Italy Round 17. September 25th - China Round 18. October 9th - Japan Round 19. October 23rd - Brazil
Wallace retirement tourUPDATE #4 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement. See Hot News page for more. 08/30/04 Sources say the "tour", leading to Rusty's retirement at the end of 2005, will be called "Rusty's Last Call" 08/23/04 This rumor is close to going to 'fact.' SPEED Channel will cover the Rusty Wallace press conference from Daytona Beach LIVE beginning at 11 a.m. ET on Aug. 30. 08/23/04 According to this USA Today article, Rusty Wallace has scheduled a news conference for next Monday when he is expected to announce that the 2005 season will be his last in NASCAR's Nextel Cup series. Wallace, who turned 48 on Aug. 14, won the 1989 championship in NASCAR's top series and has 55 career victories. The announcement might come as a surprise to Wallace's fans, given the driver's assertion early last week he would drive for "another couple of years." "I don't plan on quitting right now," Wallace said in a media teleconference last Tuesday. "I'll go for another couple of years, but I'm not guaranteeing anything after that. That 38-race schedule will wear a person down. There's a lot of life out there rather than living in a motorhome every weekend at a racetrack." 08/22/04 According to this SPEED TV article, evidence continues to point toward a retirement-tour announcement to be made jointly by Rusty Wallace and NASCAR Aug. 30 at Daytona Beach, despite ambiguous denials by Wallace. An invitation to the press conference was e-mailed out Thursday by NASCAR Images. Sources say the "tour", leading to Rusty's retirement end of 2005, will be called "Rusty's Last Ride". Given that the announcement will be made jointly at Daytona USA, you wonder what kind of cut NASCAR will get from the marketing take. This comes amid serious talk of great changes in how driver merchandise is produced, presented and sold. We hear the days of the old souvenir rigs at the race tracks could be numbered, to be replaced by track stores operated by ISC and SMI.
Champ Car won’t be back at Road AmericaUPDATE This SPEED TV article reports exactly what was on these pages - Champ Car will probably open its 2005 season in Buenos Aires, Argentina (we hear in March) and a fourth Canadian race in Calgary is on the tentative schedule but longtime venue Elkhart Lake is not in next year's plan. The official schedule hasn't been finalized yet but it's likely Milwaukee and Las Vegas will be the only two ovals. 08/28/04 Stick a fork in it, it's done. Champ Car will not be returning to Road America according to our sources in the Champ Car paddock. Apparently Champ Car has ideas of how to make that race successful again but the track is unwilling to work with them. Champ Car isn't the only event that is failing at the track. The recent ALMS race was a ghost town. 08/11/04 The spectacular Elkhart Lake road course looks set to drop off the Champ Car schedule next season after last weekend’s race failed to attract a sufficiently large crowd. The four-mile track is popular with drivers, but for the third year running the meeting made a loss. Track president George Bruggenthies said: “Even though the racing was exciting, we lost money.” Gerald Forsythe, who is a partner in the Open Wheel Racing Series body that runs Champ Car, said: “We’d like to keep running there if it makes sense, but to be honest, it’s not high on our list.” Autosport Magazine 8/12/04
Just two cars for ForsytheBased on what we are hearing, Forsythe Racing will run just two cars in 2005, but both will be sponsored. Corona will return for Lavin and supposedly Paul Tracy's car will also be sponsored. If Forsythe does indeed reduce to two cars, what new team will step up to bring the grid back up to 18 cars?
Might Champ Car switch to grooved F1 tires?As a reader of AutoRacing1.com you know that we have recommended that Champ Car switch to F1 size tires and wheels. On today's TV broadcast of the Molson Indy Montreal Bridgestone's Al Speyer was asked about the idea of Champ Car running a grooved tire like F1. Speyer's answer was that F1 runs grooves to slow the cars down (less rubber in contact with the asphalt and harder compound so the grooved tread does not disintegrate quickly). He suggested that if Champ Car were to open up the series to head-to-head tire competition again (think tire war and softer compounds vs Goodyear or Michelin) it would be a good idea for Champ Car to consider a switch to grooves to keep the speed escalation reasonable. He said if Champ Car would do that, Bridgestone would be up to the challenge. The time to switch is when the next-gen Champ Car comes out in 2006 when the teams will be buying everything new anyway. By going to F1 size tires, Michelin can move into the series easier as they already make F1 tires along with Bridgestone. Mark C.
Dalziel looking to move upUPDATE We heard this morning from an inside source that Dalziel is getting some offers to run one or two of the final Champ Car races this year with an eye toward a full Champ Car season in 2005. 08/28/04 Word in the Champ Car paddock is that Toyota Atlantic co-point leader Ryan Dalziel is talking to two Champ Car teams about a ride for 2005. He certainly has proved he is ready just by his performance the past two years.
IRL won’t race at St. PeteUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' based on the news the IRL will race in St. Pete in 2005. See Hot News page. 08/07/04 We are hearing that the IRL is not really that serious about racing at St. Petersburg, and like Portland, is fueling the rumors just to yank Champ Car's chain. We are beginning to hear Champ Car may not be interested either.
Multicar teams could gang up on othersThis AP article says, The race for the Nextel Cup championship is down to the wire and the points leader is running away from the field. Suddenly, a slower car gets in his way, holding him up until the other contenders catch up. It just so happens, the slower car is a teammate of one of the contenders. Impossible? Think again. With so many multicar teams in NASCAR, it's a very real possibility that drivers not eligible for the championship chase will become moving chicanes and assist their teammates through blocking - or even intentional wrecks - during the 10-race playoffs. The competitors would like to think their rivals wouldn't intentionally sabotage one another.
Was Chris Pook an IRL plant?We find it very perplexing in this ESPN interview that Tony George would say "But we've had several starts and stops (road course racing), beginning with Chris Pook before the IRL even turned a wheel. Back in 1994-95 he was a part of some of the formative meetings of the Indy Racing League and he contemplated Long Beach being part of our schedule from the beginning." Remember, CART was strongly involved with Chris Pook as their Long Beach race was key to both parties. George's statement injects an entirely new and unknown variable into the equation of CART's collapse and demise. If in fact this is true, and Chris Pook was planning CART's removal from Long Beach way back in 1994, then was he a Tony George "plant" while serving as president of CART? Add to that the fact that Pook ran through all of CART's money in less than one year, over $100 million, an ungodly sum, which looks extremely suspicious now in light of this. If so we find this extremely unsettling and disturbing to say the least. However, if what Tony George says is true, what other conclusion can one reasonably draw?
Pacific Coast Grand-Am bound?Toyota Atlantic team Pacific Coast is rumored to have purchased a Grand-Am car with the goal of going Grand-Am racing in 2005. In this AutoRacing1 article, Jon Fogarty says he might race in Grand-Am in 2005 if he does not get a Champ Car ride.
IRL fuel truck crashes in NJUPDATE The truck crash did happen but it was not carrying the IRL Methanol for Nazareth. 08/27/04 A tanker full of methanol crashed on the NJ Turnpike this week killing the driver. Rumor has it that it was the fuel truck headed to Nazareth for this weekend's IRL race in nearby Nazareth, PA.
Super Speedway II in the worksWe ran into Stephen Low here in the Montreal paddock. Stephen produced the original Super speedway IMAX film with Mario and Michael Andretti and narrated by Paul Newman. He is close to concluding a deal to produce Super Speedway II again starring Mario Andretti and narrated by Paul Newman. New filming will be done using the current Champ Car teams and drivers. --Mark C.--
Ranger talking to Champ Car teamsUPDATE We are downgrading this rumor to 'false.' After researching this further the general concensus is that Ranger is not yet ready for Champ Car and will more than likely stay in the Toyota Atlantic series for one more year. 08/27/04 Word here in Montreal is that French Canadian youngster Andrew Ranger is already talking to at least two Champ Car teams. It is looking more likely by the day he will step up to the top level of North American motorsports in 2005. --Mark C.--
NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow tidbitsSome rumored tidbits on NASCAR's Car of the Future: Greenhouse 2" higher and window opening 4" wider Center point of driver moved 4 1/2" to the right. Bumpers - front, raised; rear, lowered LED Scoing on the car - shown in the side/rear window behind the drive
DHL to sponsor a teamDHL, the air-express company that has stepped into the NASCAR arena with a race sponsorship at Michigan International Speedway, wants to step up to a full car sponsorship, but its on-again, off-again negotiations to put together a package still appear up in the air. DHL has been speculated as a potential sponsor for a third Dale Earnhardt Inc. team, but other teams may also be in the bidding. And the driver situation is still murky. Winston Salem Journal
IRL planning more road racesAutoRacing1 sources tell us that the IRL ultimately plans to have a 20 race schedule with 14 ovals and 6 road/street courses. The tentative plan is to have 2 road course races in 2005, add 2 additional in 2006 and the final 2 in 2007. However, that plan could be accelerated if the IRL decides to add St. Pete in 2005.
Champ Car signs oil dealWe have it on good word that Champ Car has signed a deal with an oil company that will be announced around the third week of September. As we understand it, the deal is for the company to be the official oil company or perhaps the official lubricant of the Champ Car World Series.
One transmission rule comingNASCAR is considering moving to a "one transmission rule" next season in its top three series, spokesman Mike Zizzo confirmed Friday. The rule would work similarly to that of the "one engine rule" adopted at the start of the 2002 season. Teams are allowed one engine per race weekend – except for the season-opening Speedweeks at Daytona. Should a team change engines over the weekend, the driver must start the race at the rear of the field. Teams, especially in the Nextel Cup Series, typically use a different transmission in qualifying than in the race. For one, lighter parts are used for qualifying, several team engineers said. If implemented, it has not been decided whether the "one transmission rule" would be used on the Cup series’ two road courses. The Busch Series will also have two road course events in 2005. ThatsRacin.com
Valiante talking to RuSPORTWe spotted Canadian Michael Valiante having lunch with RuSPORT Champ Car team boss Carl Russo in their hospitality area today in Montreal. We will try to find out what they were talking about, but might it have been about a future ride for Valiante? Mark C.
Champ Car to announce Title SponsorChamp Car has not had a title sponsor since the departure of FedEx. However, we have rumored that one is in the works. When asked today about this topic in Montreal, Kevin Kalkhoven responded, "Just wait, by the start of the 2005 season there will be a number of new major announcements. We can't tell you all the good news at once. I learned long ago as a CEO that it is best to get all the bad news out of the way right away and then leak out the good news in dribs and drabs."
Champ Cars to hit streets of Manhattan againWe have it on good word that Champ Cars will again hit the streets of Manhattan in late September and this time things will be even more spectacular. Look for a special guest appearance behind the wheel. We will tell you more when we can. Mark C.
Lola may bid on next-gen Champ CarRumor has it that Lola would like nothing better than to base its bid for the next generation Champ Car on their A1 Grand Prix car. At 1320 pounds it is 200 pounds lighter than the current overweight Champ Car. However, the A1 3.4 liter purpose built Zytek V8 only makes an anemic 520 HP, which is not enough for Champ Car. We also doubt whether the car meets the crash standards for oval tracks. The ultra low profile tires fitted to the A1 cars we have seen so far are also a huge mistake as this leads to the cars driving around as if on rails.
Dallara to build F1 car againWe hear from Italy that the Dallara company is likely to return to the Formula 1 world in 2006 with a Formula 1 chassis having been commissioned by a mysterious investor. It is not clear who is behind the idea but it would not be the first time that Dallara has been involved in such a programme, having played a major part in the development of the Honda Racing Developments F1 prototype that ran in 1999. This was designed by Harvey Postlethwaite's engineers in Britain and built by Dallara in Italy.Dallara has been a hugely successful business in recent years, dominating the Formula 3 market for more than a decade and also being involved in a variety of other championships, including the Indy Racing League. The company, which is run by former Ferrari engineer Giampaolo Dallara, has been building racing cars since the late 1970s although Dallara himself was designing F1 cars in the 1960s. The company was first involved in F1 in 1987 when industrialist Beppe Lucchini of Brixia Motorsport (BMS) commissioned Dallara to build him a car for the Scuderia Italia team. Sergio Rinland was hired to design the car and in the years that followed the Dallaras were quite competitive with Andrea de Cesaris scoring a podium finish in Canada in 1989 and JJ Lehto scoring a second podium at Imola in 1991. The team then switched to Ferrari engines for 1992 but the programme was not a great success and Lucchini made the decision to form a new alliance with Lola Cars. Grandprix.com
Champ Car to announce McDonald’sUPDATE Champ Car has scheduled a major press conference for Friday at 12:30 PM in Montreal, presumably to announce McDonald's and maybe more. Kevin Kalkhoven, co-owner Champ Car World Series, Paul Newman, co-owner Newman/Haas Racing, and Dick Eidswick, President, Champ Car World Series along with representatives from the sponsor will be in attendance. 08/25/04 We have it on good word that when McDonald's is announced as a Champ Car series sponsor this weekend in Montreal that the official designation will be - "McDonald's, the official fast food of Champ Car." There were rumors floating out there that McDonald's might be the title sponsor of the series, not so. That is reserved for another rumored sponsor that we are not at liberty to reveal at this time. McDonald's would not put their good name behind Champ Car if they believed the series didn't have a bright future. The connection with consumers through McDonald's is going to be huge worldwide. This will lead to other consumer-focussed companies to jump onboard with their brand. The loss of focus on the consumer in favor of business-to-business deals of the past is one of the primary reasons the old CART went down the tubes.
For years now we have said that Champ Car and its teams had to shift away from narrow minded USA-market only sponsors, to sponsors who want to ride with Champ Car as they become an alternative to F1 worldwide and deliver value to companies who understand it's a global economy now. We see signs from within Champ Car that they finally get it. Not only is McDonald's a worldwide brand, the other to-be-announced sponsors are equally so.
F1 qualifying might be a raceTony Purnell, the boss of Ford's racing activities in Formula 1, recently came up with the idea of changing qualifying in Formula 1 in order to improve the show, without affecting the purity of the sport. The concept of having qualifying races will be under discussion this week at Spa-Francorchamps and gradual persuasion of the decision-makers seems to be the order of the day, despite attempts to get the racing public to push the idea. Formula 1 people tend to react badly when they feel they are being pressured and there is no doubt that some of the opposition to Purnell's idea comes from the fact that it has been heavily promoted in the press. The actual details of the plan remain very persuasive when one considers them carefully and it seems that Purnell is gaining support with the people who matter in the Formula 1 Commission, although one has to wait to see if they actually vote as they say they will vote when (and if) the question goes to the commission. Purnell says that he is not interested in playing political games and believes that the idea is what is best for the sport. Grandprix.com
Klien on the chopping blockJaguar rookie Christian Klien’s place in F1 appears to be increasingly tenuous, with reports in the Austrian press suggesting that he may lose the backing of energy-drinks brand Red Bull, which bankrolled his ride this year, at the end of the season. Red Bull magnate Dieter Mateschitz is reportedly unimpressed with Klien’s progress and is contemplating taking his sponsorship, worth $6.5 million, elsewhere. Without the sweetener of personal backing Klien is unlikely to land one of the diminishing number of vacant seats for 2005. Earlier reports in the Austrian media linked Red Bull with a buy-out of the Milton Keynes outfit, but naming rights were apparently a sticking point and no deal has been done. Mateschitz is expected to inform Jaguar of his plans soon after the Italian GP next month. F3000 champion-elect Vitantonio Liuzzi, who already benefits from Red Bull backing, is a leading contender for a Jaguar berth and is also high up Sauber’s shopping list. ITV-F1
Kelley Racing to merge with Ganassi in 2005UPDATE #2 This rumor may be false, or is it? According to this Forth Wayne article, According to Kelley, he admits that with his father’s health slipping and the demands of racing increasing, he would like to take a lesser role in the team, but only if he can find a buddy to share the load with. In the meantime, it’s full speed ahead for this season and probably next, even if that speed isn’t fast right now. After that, it’s anybody’s guess what happens to Kelley Racing. “Whatever we are going to do, we’re going to try to improve and compete in ’05,” said Kelley, pointing out that the sponsorship agreement with Delphi and Sharp’s contract run through next season. “I don’t exactly know what that is going to be at this point, but I do not have a For Sale sign on the team.” Another option for 2005 would be to merge with an existing team and enjoy the fruits and efficiency that come with sharing setup information. Kelley said he has spoken with Chip Ganassi about such an arrangement for next season, but nothing has been finalized. “We are talking more as friends than anything,” Kelley said. (Just as we originally rumored) 08/18/04 Kelley Racing has denied rumors that it is about to shut down. It has been suggested that driver Scott Sharp and sponsor Delphi would leave for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2005, but team boss Tom Kelley claims they will stay. “Chip came to me because we’re friends and offered some technical support. But that’s all we’ve done at this time,” he said. But Kelley admitted that there could be a management shake-up to ensure the team’s survival. “I don’t want to see Kelley Racing go away,” he said. “But I want to give our guys every chance to succeed. My partner Rick Weidinger is looking at taking on a larger financial part of the team.” The team has won a race every season since entering the IRL in 1998, but Sharp boasts a best finish of ninth this year. “This year has been tough,” said Kelley. “It’s no fun running for 15th.” AutoSport Magazine 08/11/04 Our sources told us last week, and Robin Miller confirms it on Wind Tunnel, that Kelley Racing will close its doors after 2004 and run one car out of the Chip Ganassi shop in Indy, i.e. Ganassi will become a 3-car team. We hear they are already sharing hospitality tents. Once Kelley Racing is gone the CART teams will have succeeded in putting just about all the original IRL teams out of business. They couldn't compete in CART and when CART came to them, they still couldn't compete. AJ Foyt and Panther are still there, but Foyt's team is totally out to lunch and Panther isn't winning so much anymore.
F1 and Champ Car need a Chinese driverIt's no secret that Formula One needs a Chinese driver to help its Shanghai race, and if rumors are to be believed, Champ Car will need a Chinese driver when they race in China starting in 2006. Alex Yoong appears to be out of the picture now, but what about Macanese driver Jo Merszei who, according to Autosport Magazine, is set to become the first Chinese to race a Formula 1 car, with an outing in EuroBOSS this season. Merszei, who is in talks for backing with a number of Chinese companies, has targeted a ride in the EuroBOSS season finale at Le Mans on October 9/10, with a ride in one of Team Ascari’s Benetton-Judd B197s a strong possibility. Merszei competed in British Formula Ford 1600 and ARP Formula 3 in the mid-1990s, and is also planning to compete in November’s Macau F3 Grand Prix ahead of a full season in the category in 2005. Next stop F1 or Champ Car?
Turkish GP2 team possibleThis week's Autosport Magazine reports that Turkish motorsport supremo Mumtaz Tahincioglu is considering launching a team to carry his country’s colours in the new for 2005 GP2 championship, possibly as early as next year. The team would tie in with the Turkish Grand Prix, which joins the Formula 1 World Championship next year, and would be run by a British outfit with Turkish drivers and backing. Tahincioglu’s son, Formula Renault UK racer Jason Tahinci, and International F3000 racer Can Artam are likely to drive, although the project may be held over until 2006 if the drivers need to acquire more experience. Tahincioglu said: “We need good drivers at every level, and in Jason and Can we have two who can fill that requirement. Jason happens to be my son, but I’d probably do the same for any single-seater driver.” Cadbury Schweppes, who backs Tahinci, and of which Tahincioglu is the managing director for Eurasia, could sponsor the team.
Enge to drive Ferrari againAccording to this week's Autosport Magazine, Tomas Enge is on course to return to the wheel of a Prodrive-built Ferrari 550 Maranello next month. The Czech driver is in line to race a second 550 Maranello entered by the French Larbre Competition team in the Le Mans Endurance Series finale at Spa on September 12. He would share the car with fellow Czech Robert Pergl and Patrice Goueslard.
Grand-Am to implement test banAccording to this week's Autosport Magazine, A blanket ban on private testing could be enforced during next season’s Grand American Sportscar Series. The championship organisers are looking at ways of reducing the gap between the top teams and their less well-funded rivals and have come up with a draconian plan to limit testing. The only significant running allowed outside of race meetings would be at up to half a dozen official tests.
Grand-Am boss Roger Edmondson said: “There is no doubt the level of testing undertaken by our top teams is affecting the competition and we need to address that. “Testing will be severely curtailed for next year and we are looking at other series, such as Champ Cars and IRL IndyCar, to see how they do it.” Edmondson explained the most likely plan would be a schedule of four, five or six official tests on top of the likely 12 Grand-Am championship rounds. Only shakedown runs for new cars would be allowed outside of these days. The plan appears to have met with the support of Grand-Am’s teams and constructors. Bob Riley, whose eponymous company is the premier constructor in Grand-Am, said: “Anything that reduces costs has to be good for the series.”
Villeneuve could still end up in NASCARUPDATE Former Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve has told Autosport that the biggest stumbling block between his grand prix return with BAR-Honda next year would be the pride of those involved in his split from the team 10 months ago. The Canadian star, who won the F1 title with Williams in 1997, has insisted that he has healed his rift with BAR team principal David Richards, but claims that there are other political players who could block his hoped-for return. The team is seeking a big name driver as a contingency plan in the wake of Jenson Button's announcement that he intends to race for Williams next year. "If pride doesn't get in the way, then I think it would work out," Villeneuve told Autosport. "If pride gets in the way then it will be much more difficult, because there's no argument that can beat pride. I'm not talking about David there, there's some other people. I think that's the only things that could block it, pride and political games. If nothing works out, then I'll probably concentrate on doing something in NASCAR," said Villeneuve. "Everybody I speak with, all the team owners, say ‘You have to come back to F1, we need you'. Great, but they all want someone else to make it happen, and not themselves. So after a point you say, screw you, I'll go and do NASCAR, if you don't want to put your finger in the pot." 08/18/04 Jacques Villeneuve told Autosport that if he is not successful in landing an F1 seat in 2005 then he will turn his attention to making the switch to stock car racing in the NASCAR Nextel Cup.
Champ Car could lose Surfers raceUPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' We learned that Champ Car has a long term contract with Surfers that they have not modified at all. 08/24/04 AutoRacing1.com has learned that the Superfund folks have more than just Surfers in their site. They have decided to go head-to-head against Champ Car and go after the urban street race market. So not only will Champ Car be butting heads with Bernie Ecclestone and F1, they will have to beat the Euro3000 series, which is going to be difficult because Superfund Euro3000 cars will bury a Champ Car in performance if the Champ Car stays the heavy behemoth of a car it is today. Euro3000 will be selling their product to cities/promoters as F1-style racing and will remind a promoter that they can have an F1-like event vs Champ Car's Indy Car-like event. It may be a no-brainer which they will choose. Champ Car rose to an "elite" status around the world when there were direct comparisons of Champ Cars vs F1 cars and claims on both sides of the ocean as to who was faster. As Champ Car has had to dumb down to go head-to-head with the IRL, a lot of the mystique is gone. Can Champ Car regain some of that mystique with their next-generation car, or will the powers to be dumb it down even further, and like the IRL Indy Cars, drive fan interest to near-zero? If they do, the final chapter in CART's storied history will not be of the final nail Tony George drove in Champ Car's coffin, but that of the self-inflicted fatal wounds to the series from those within. Mark C.08/19/04 Rumors would have us believe that Superfund are pitching for the Surfers Champ Car race and appear to be strongly placed as Champ Car are supposedly changing their sanction deal which the Aussie guys are not too happy about. The Superfund Euro3000 series will have F1-like cars (in weight, size and almost HP) starting in 2005, cars that will have a screaming V10, be light and nimble, and outperform a Champ Car by 3 to 5 seconds per lap. With heavy, and not-so-nimble, cars, Champ Car will soon find their ability to sell their product globally diminished because they will appear to be selling a 4th-tier product behind F1, Formula GP2 and Euro3000. By trying to be an all-around series Champ Car is forced to be a compromise product, hence not excel at anything.
Ford prefers V8’sUPDATE #3 Another reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1, I have read all your arguments about why Champ Car should switch to a V10 and I agree with every one of them. However, won't the manufacturers dictate to Champ Car what they want to build? Les Wilcox, Terre Haute, IN Dear Les, if you asked five different manufacturers what engine they wanted to build you would get five different answers. Those in Champ Car must have a vision and a business plan as to where they want to position themselves in the world marketplace, write a set of rules for that vision and then sell the idea to the manufacturers. If the vision and the plan are sound, some manufacturers will bite. By asking the manufacturers what they want you 1) Show lack of leadership and vision, 2) put yourself in a position of the tail wagging the dog, and 3) are left holding a bottomless wet paper bag when the manufacturer you supplicated to decides to leave because of budget cutbacks. Hats off to the IRL - they wrote a set of rules and then sold their vision to the manufacturers. While we don't agree with their vision, at least they showed some leadership. Mark C.08/24/04 A reader writes, I am encouraged to see Ford jump on the V10 bandwagon with the Shelby GR-1 car. Can Ford-Cosworth supply the Champ Car series with a V10 normally aspirated engine? I agree with AutoRacing1 - Champ Car must become a unique product in North America or Tony George will make them redundant and put them out of business. Joseph Capone, San Francisco, CA Dear Joseph, Of course Cosworth can build a V10 for Champ Car. They have plenty of old F1 designs out there that can be reworked and detuned to meet Champ Car's cost and longevity goals. A V10 isn't much more expensive than a V8, everything else being equal. The German manufacturers in F1 are making that argument right now. It's not the two extra cylinders that cost a lot more money, it's how the rules are written to ban exotic materials, etc. that keeps the cost in check. As we have stated previously, if Champ Car is going to keep a V8, then they should not change from the current turbo V8 because the turbo does make it unique. Unfortunately, most turbos on the road today are turbo diesels, hence the connection for Champ Car is somewhat lost there. If Champ Car is going to change engines in 2006, there is no question the engine should be a V10. Only the "special" passenger cars on the road today use V10's and Champ Car has to decide if it wants to sell its series as something "special," or just your run-of-the-mill V8 series (all the stock car series out there are V8's. Champ Cars are NOT stock cars) that can be easily replicated, marginalized, and run out of business. Mark C.08/22/04 Well it appears Ford finally gets it. While your run of the mill car uses a V8, the 'special' cars in this world use V10's. According to this AutoWeek article, the new Ford Shelby GR-1 coupe will use a V10 engine if and when it gets built. 08/21/04 Rumors in Europe suggest that if the FIA signs off the new engine rules for a V8, then Ford is prepared to increase their efforts in the Jaguar F1 team. Apparently they want to invest $80 million per season. The car will then be named Ford instead of Jaguar. Here in the USA Autoracing1.com sources hear that Ford wants Champ Car to stay a V8 series. If Ford were willing to invest $80 million per year in Champ Car to secure its future is one thing, but to dictate that Champ Car be a V8 series, thereby risking its long-term existence as discussed elsewhere, with only miniscule backing simply doesn't equate. So if Champ Car goes normally aspirated V8 at Ford's urging, let's hope they are wise enough to negotiate a lucrative deal with Ford. In fact, if they are going to stay V8, it would be insane not to keep the existing turbo engine, which at least helps to differentiate it from the IRL. Only if they are prepared to go with a normally aspirated V10 should they change engines.
Here come the Chinese[Editor's Note: First it was foreign car companies buying into Chinese car companies to break into the vast Chinese market. Now we see the Chinese companies looking to buy foreign car companies. AutoRacing1.com will make the bold prediction that it won't be long before Chinese car manufacturers are competing in racing.] Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC), China's largest passenger carmaker, plans to buy MG Rover, say sources in England and China. SAIC will boost its ambitions to become the world's sixth-largest automaker by taking an initial equity stake in MG Rover. The size of that stake is still under discussion.
MG Rover denied that SAIC will take over the company. But sources in China and at MG Rover in Longbridge, England, say SAIC would like to own MG Rover outright and will take control of the British automaker in the long term. "SAIC will buy MG Rover," said a source in China who is involved in the discussions. "When the announcement is made depends on the progress of the negotiations, hopefully in a few months."
A source at MG Rover confirmed that there is a longer-term plan for the Chinese manufacturer to take over the British company, though terms and details have not been ironed out. The transaction would be in steps, and it could be several years before SAIC would own all of MG Rover. "There is an absolute and definite plan, which seems to start with some kind of joint deal," the MG Rover source said. "I think over the course of months it becomes more Shanghai and less Longbridge." The source added: "Two or three years from now I would imagine SAIC to have the vast majority of the company. The relationship is good."
The deal would give MG Rover engineers the money to produce the crucial replacement for the Rover 45 lower-medium car, which has been delayed repeatedly. Various Sources
Champ Car rumor roundupTo summarize the rumors about the Champ Car series that have been on these pages for weeks and just now other publications are writing about as if it were new news:
Champ Car has three or more major series sponsors to announce, one of which is McDonald's. We may hear the McDonald's announcement this weekend in Montreal. The other two sponsors are just as huge.
Ford will renew for at least one more year, possibly more. However, engines after 2005 may or may not remain Ford
Bridgestone will renew for at least one more year
Newman/Haas will stay together as a team and may expand to three cars for a returning Cristiano da Matta (da Matta has to decide)
New races for 2005: Seoul, San Jose (to replace Laguna Seca) and Argentina almost for certain with Calgary, Manchester, England, and 2nd race in Europe (Germany or Spain) and Brazil (Rio, or a Rio suburb we think) also good possibilities.
New races for 2006: China and Calgary (if it does not happen sooner in 2005)
A new car and engine for 2006
A replacement for Toyota Atlantics in 2006
New drivers (Several)
A new tire manufacturer for 2006 (in addition to or to replace Bridgestone)
The rumored San Juan Puerto Rico race will run on November 21, 2004 and is likely to be a fixture on the calendar for many years to come..
Champ Car to make major sponsor announcementsUPDATE #2 This SPEED TV article says, Word in the Champ Car camp is that a major title sponsor for the series could be announced as early at this weekend at Montreal. "We've got a couple of key meetings this week but I believe we will have some major announcements during the next few weeks," replied Kevin Kalkhoven, when asked about the rumor. "Let's just say I've been pleasantly surprised by the calibre of companies who have shown interest in Champ Car's future. "Especially considering we're supposed to be dead." Even though Bridgestone and Ford are currently presenting sponsors, Champ Car hasn't had a title sponsor since FedEx went away following the 2002 season. And that particular partnership did a lot more for FedEx than it did for Champ Cars. It's believed Ford's divisions in Canada, Mexico and South America (Champ Car will be racing in Argentina in 2005) are going to be part of the sponsorship package, which may also include McDonald's, which currently sponsors point leader Sebastien Bourdais. The title sponsor, according to Gentilozzi, is a "big hitter." 08/10/04 AutoRacing1.com has just learned through its sources that the first sponsor announcement (McDonald's?) has been postponed until the Montreal race. We believe it may be due to the fact they want to announce the 2nd major sponsor at the same time. The series needs all the good news it can get as soon as possible, so the delay will be a disappointment to many. 08/08/04 We alluded to it earlier, but AutoRacing1.com has learned that Champ Car will make a number of major sponsor announcements in the coming weeks. We have it on good word that McDonald's will be announced (in Denver) as one of the new series sponsors starting in 2005 and two other Fortune 500 companies are close to coming on board, one of which will be announced by the Montreal race. McDonald's Chief Executive Officer Mike Roberts was at Road America today. Another McDonald's Exececutive VP, Michael Donahue gave the command to start engines. Here are two photos of Roberts, one talking to Paul Newman. Roberts 1 | Roberts 2 Photos by Mark Scheuern/AutoRacing1.com
Newman/Haas announcement comingUPDATE #5 This SPEED TV article says, after much speculation, it appears that the Newman/Haas union is going to stay together. With Haas being tempted by an offer from Tony George and Honda (Carl's wife reportedly signed a letter of intent with Honda) to join the IRL in 2005, Newman was prepared to keep the doors open of their two-car Champ Car operation and split up. But, following a recent meeting, it sounds like the divorce is off. "All I can say is that it looks promising but nothing is set in concrete," said Newman. This of course is what Autoracing1.com has been telling you for a long time, now it remains to be seen if the team will run three cars in 2005. 08/21/04 As we have told our readers long before anyone else did, and when everyone was predicting Carl Haas would split off and go to the IRL, that in fact he was staying in Champ Car. As it turns out, there was a reason why both the McDonald's series sponsorship of Champ Car and the Newman/Haas future plans were delayed past Denver - they are somewhat tied together. McDonald's also sponsors a car for Newman/Haas (Bourdais) and rumor has it that when the big announcement that McDonald's will become a series sponsor for Champ Car, will come a related announcement about the Newman/Haas team. What might that be you ask? 1) Carl is not splitting from Newman and 2) Perhaps a bigger involvement from McDonald's for the team. Might we see a third Newman/Haas car in 2005 with two of them running McDonald's colors and Cristiano da Matta back in the fold? Time will tell.... 08/18/04 This week's National Speed Sport News reports that Haas met with Champ Car principals in Denver, and some insiders believe he has had a change of heart and will stick with Champ Car. But a split with Newman is more likely. Under that scenario, Newman would likely keep sponsors PacifiCare and McDonald's and run cars for Bourdais and possibly Cristiano da Matta in the Champ Car series. Haas would run two Honda-powered cars in the IRL IndyCar Series, taking Junqueira and likely adding a second driver from Japan. Patrick Carpentier's name has also surfaced in conjunction with the Haas team as the IRL looks to attract a Canadian audience. Haas told reporters an announcement will come in the next two weeks. "We are trying to keep the team together for a lot of reasons," Newman added. "It's a partnership that has lasted for a long time, and we have people who have been working for us for 20 years. We don't want to split the team up and split the loyalties. But whether we will be able to keep the team together, I don't really know yet. That's our first objective." 08/15/04 While others were predicting Carl Haas was going to the IRL, we kept telling our readers that wasn't what our sources were telling us. This SPEED TV article adds some credence to our sources - Nothing official yet, but after months of speculation that Newman/Haas Racing was headed to the Indy Racing League, all signs in Denver point to Newman/Haas Racing returning to the Champ Car World Series in 2005. Carl Haas and Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven had a lengthy meeting Friday morning and while neither would say anything specific, it was pretty clear things went well from Kalkhoven’s perspective. Honda is believed to have been wooing Carl Haas for many months to make the switch, witness the team’s participation in the Indianapolis 500. However, co-owner Paul Newman is fiercely opposed to such a move. In response to an observation that the situation at Newman/Haas is very complicated, however, Kalkhoven replied, “No it isn’t,” with a wide smile. Haas himself declined comment on his team’s plans for ‘05, saying, “I’d rather not discuss that at the moment. It will be announced in the next week or two.” 08/14/04 We are hearing once again this weekend in Denver that Carl Haas has reversed his decision and has decided to remain in the Champ Car Series with Paul Newman rather than splitting up the team and starting an IRL team. We shall see..... Mark C.08/09/04 According to Robin Miller on Monday night Wind Tunnel, if the Newman/Haas team does split up, it could be Bruno Junqueira and Patrick Carpentier driving for Carl Haas in the IRL with Honda money, and Sebastien Bourdais and Cristiano da Matta driving for Paul Newman in Champ Car in 2005. Robin claims Paul Newman was going to let him know today what was decided, but he has not received a return phone call from Paul yet. AutoRacing1.com sources say Honda may have withdrawn the offer because they are winning everything now and do not need to add any more IRL teams. We shall see, but as we told you yesterday, we heard Haas was leaning toward not going to the IRL. 08/09/04 Word at Road America is that the Newman/Haas team will make an announcement about the future of their team Monday or Tuesday of this week. From what we hear Carl Haas has decided to stick with Champ Car and forego the IRL. Cristiano da Matta will probably also figure into their future plans, either as a third driver, or as a replacement for one of the existing drivers. Stay tuned......
Tracy could still get NASCAR rideUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. According to this SPEED TV article, it sounds like the only time Champ Car's biggest star will be going south in 2005 is for spring training at Sebring, Fla. "I don't know who started that rumor but I'll give them 10-1 odds," said Gerald Forsythe, who fields a car and pays the 2003 CART champion out of his own pocket. "I had a nice meeting with Paul and his agent recently and he's excited about the future. Paul has been one of our most vocal supporters and I appreciate his position." Tracy, who had been approached by Childress to run the Nextel Cup show at Sonoma, Calif. earlier this season, admitted Monday that he's staying put. "We've come to an agreement but we just don't have it on paper yet," said the 35-year-old Canadian. "I'd like to get this deal together and I should know for sure within the next couple races." Asked if he still had aspirations of NASCAR, especially if the stock car set goes to Montreal, Tracy replied: "Maybe, if the right deal came along but I'd like to stay in Champ Car. It's always been my home and I like the direction our new owners are taking it." Forsythe was asked why he wouldn't let Tracy run some select NASCAR races… "I don't see any connection between Champ Car and NASCAR so I can't see how it would benefit Paul or Champ Car," he replied. "Those people aren't going to let Paul do good anyway." As a parting shot, Forsythe added: "I just wish next time that Richard would call me instead of my driver." 08/15/04 One NASCAR Nextel Cup door closed on Toronto’s Paul Tracy on Friday but another one opened yesterday at Watkins Glen International. It appeared that after a surprise announcement by Richard Childress Racing that it had signed veteran Jeff Burton to drive the No. 30 Chevrolet for the remainder of this season and all of next year that Tracy’s hopes for a career in stock cars might be over. But yesterday former CART driver Robby Gordon hinted strongly that he might not be back with RCR in 2005, leaving the No. 31 Chevrolet without a driver. "I don’t know what is going to happen," Gordon said at a media breakfast at Watkins Glen. "I’ve enjoyed working for Richard. It’s been a lot of fun. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue that." Rumors have been floating around the NASCAR garage area that Gordon’s performance this season -- he sits 23rd in the points race with no wins -- places him in a precarious position at RCR. "I’m sure something else will happen (if he leaves RCR)," Gordon said. "Lake life wouldn’t be that bad." Childress would not talk about the possibility of Tracy coming aboard in the No. 31 Chevrolet, saying that any more team announcements would be made at the end of this season. "Right now we’re going to finish the year up," Childress said. "We’re deciding what direction we’re going. All that will be announced probably in October some time." Childress had offered Tracy a chance to drive the No. 30 Chevrolet a number of times over the past two seasons but each time Tracy opted to stay in Champ Car where he is the defending series champion. Toronto Sun [Editor’s Note: We don’t expect it to happen. Paul Tracy is too smart to go from a winning team in Champ Car to a backmarker team in NASCAR -- yes, the No. 31 is a backmarker. However, he might do it if the Champ Car officials don’t lay off of him. The guy is out there driving the wheels off his car and putting a show on for the fans, and the officials are so focused on him they are missing what a lot of other drivers are doing.]
Jaguar in more financial troubleSomewhat related to Jaguar's planned cutback in F1, or total withdrawal comes word from thre UK that Jaguar employs 10,000 people at three plants in the UK - Browns Lane, Coventry, Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, and Halewood, Merseyside. One union insider last night expressed concern for the future of Jaguar.
The T&GWU source said: "There is concern among union reps about the noises coming out of Ford with regards to threats to different plants. "It would be better if they stated clearly and once and for all what they are looking at doing." Ex-Jaguar worker and Coventry North-east MP Bob Ainsworth said he had received no assurances from Jaguar chairman Joe Greenwell, who told told him there was going to be a huge review.
Ford blamed production cuts at Jaguar, announced last week, on a weak US dollar and increased competition among luxury car makers in the United States - the luxury marque's biggest market. It also comes after Ford's Premier Automotive Group (PAG), of which Jaguar is part, suffered a $300 million loss for the second quarter.
Button in hot water with girlfriendAccording to this UK website, Jenson Button zoomed away from his girlfriend when he partied the night away with SIX naked girls. The Grand Prix golden boy raced into pole position in a lapdancing club shortly before going on holiday with his beautiful long-time lover Louise Griffiths. Stripper Robyn Ramirez revealed how star British racing driver Button... USED his clutch as he repeatedly asked the girls to strip for £20 a time and clocked up a £1,000 bar bill. HUGGED the curves as the dancers took it in turns to sit naked on his lap. THROTTLED back as his mates begged the girls to go back to their hotel room after the dancers had slithered and slid all over him. SKIDDED off the track when he tried to hide his identity by telling his pals to call him Alex - and they kept slipping up and saying Jenson. Robyn, 26, who looks surprisingly like Jenson's girlfriend, said: "He was behaving just like a guy behaves in a strip club." Wait until his girlfriend (or shall we say ex-girlfriend) reads this!
Toyota has yet to decide on 2nd driverToyota are yet to decide who will partner Ralf Schumacher next season, according to team president John Howett. Jarno Trulli, who will leave Renault at the end of the year, is widely expected to team up with Schumacher but Howett revealed the decision has yet to be made. He told www.f1racing.net: "At the moment it's a case of waiting to see what will be best for the team. At the moment we're talking with three drivers for next season. Jarno Trulli is one of them, but Olivier Panis still has a good chance to keep his seat. It's now up to us to decide who will be the best option for 2005 to team up with Ralf."
First IRL road course test setThe IRL will stage its first road racing test Sept. 2-4 at Homestead, Fla. The league's first non-oval race could be April 3, 2005, if an agreement can be reached with officials in St. Petersburg, Fla. Indy Star
McMurray could end up at PenskeJamie McMurray is still in play, according to sources close to the driver, who is being wooed by both Roger Penske and Joe Gibbs - if he can resolve his contract with car owner Chip Ganassi. Gibbs wants him for his new third Nextel Cup team, to be sponsored by FedEx; McMurray would be a teammate of Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte. Penske wants him to take over Rusty Wallace's ride when Wallace retires, apparently at the end of 2005. Also in the running for the Gibbs ride is sprint start J. J. Yeley, who was to race here but who didn't make the field because qualifying was rained out. However, FedEx, according to sources, wants a top-10 team out of the box, and that would be a tall order for a rookie. Winston Salem Journal
RCR set for 2005Team Owner Richad Childress says "everything is set" for next season with his three teams "but I'm not announcing anything on my sponsors until late October or December, later this year." There has been intense speculation that AOL may not return as sponsor for the team Jeff Burton drives for, and there is also speculation that the future of the Cingular sponsorship depends on Robby Gordon being firmly in the top 20 by some unspecified September deadline. However, there is also speculation that Gordon may be leaving Childress. Winston Salem Journal
Franchitti to stay in the IRLDario Franchitti was rumored to be less than enthusiastic when his team moved from CART to the IRL at the end of the 2002 season. Franchitti's performance this season has essentially ended those rumors. "The only people that matter are the people that really know what's going on," Franchitti said. "These guys my bosses and the guys at Honda they know how I felt. Why would I do this if I didn't want to? I'm enjoying my racing a lot. Next year's schedule will be even better for me. Things are pretty good right now."
F1's Todt has film star girlfriendF1's Jean Todt has film star girlfriend. A spokesman based at Maranello confirmed the 58-year-old Formula One team principal and Malaysia's Michelle Yeoh are 'an item. ''We have no further comments on this matter,'' he added. Reports in the Malaysian press said 42-year-old Yeoh, star of movie 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,' met Todt in Shanghai. The film star was at Ferrari's debut event at the Chinese track. Still on the tabloid pages, BAR's Jenson Button had a bit of fun at a strip club between the Hungarian and Belgian grands prix. The Briton, engaged to pop-star-wannabe Louise Griffiths, booked a private room at the steamy 'Platinum Bar' in London's East End.
Williams may lose sponsorFormula One team BMW-Williams may lose key sponsor 'GlaxoSmithKline' at the end of the season, it has been revealed. British media sources said the company, which promotes anti-smoking product NiQuitin CQ on the car, is only signed for 2004. Marketing manager Mark Dickinson has told publications a decision to renew will be based on consumer research into brand awareness. He said the company 'had not decided' if it would continue. The source also said GlaxoSmithKline, who joined the Williams livery only 18 months ago, is not talking to any other teams. Sir Frank Williams says he's 'proud' of his non-tobacco stance.
Champ Car being impacted in MexicoDid you know that the Olympics are being broadcast simultaneously on both TV Azteca and Televisa in Mexico? That's correct, and that has had a major impact on TV advertising money available for racing this year. So much so that Champ Car's TV broadcasts are now down to 1/2 hour highlight shows in Mexico. Mexican sponsors are not getting the exposure on TV that they hoped for this year and we hear from our Mexican sources that they are starting to question how much they are spending on their Champ Car programs. Meanwhile, Adrian Fernandez, who is still a star in Mexico, has opened an office for Tony George in Mexico City and they are maneuvering to break into the Mexican market. With NASCAR moving into the Mexican market, that will be a further pull on sponsor dollars away from Champ Car. We predicted that letting NASCAR into Mexico City would be the beginning of the end of Champ Car in Mexico. It may take a few years, but if Champ Car doesn't place some heavy focus on Mexico now, there soon won't be a future.
Unleaded fuel in 2005UPDATE #2 Is NASCAR all of a sudden thinking about changing to unleaded fuel so they can race in Canada? We remember back in the 90s Canada had a very successful NHRA event at Sanair that just stopped suddenly, when the government elected to totally ban leaded fuel in Canada, even for race cars. 08/22/04 NASCAR's John Darby addressed the subject of unleaded fuel Saturday morning, the matter again coming up in garage conversations after a five-year lull. "It's something we have to be prepared for," he said, "but it's not like somebody has got the vise turned up on us imminently. There has been talk that govenment and environmental agencies would require NASCAR to phase in unleaded fuel as early as next year, but Darby did not indicate that was the case. Such a move would require significant changes in engine construction, especially in the valve train, and Darby noted that he'd rather see the change in fuel come at a time of some other major engine change -- perhaps a change to fuel injection? Darby did, however, say the newly-announced gear rule for 2005, intended to reduce skyrocketing rpm, would be of benefit if and when unleaded is adopted, in that, with rpm reduced, vulnerable valves and valve seats would be under less stress. He also said Sunoco, which signed on last year for 10 years as fuel supplier for NASCAR, is "light-years ahead" of street and racing technology when it comes to producing suitable unleaded products, even in the 112-octane range used by NASCAR. Speed Channel08/21/04 There is word, not confirmed, that NASCAR may be required by the EPA to change to unleaded fuel as soon as next year. Cup garage chief John Darby could not be found for comment, but top engine men say they also have heard talk. Randy Dorton, engine chief for Hendrick Motorsports, said he "would not be surprised" by such an edict, but that he has heard nothing directly from NASCAR. He noted that he and other teams had done a significant amount of work, in cooperation with NASCAR, on unleaded fuel four or five years ago, and that a Busch race at Richmond was run using unleaded, but that the project faded shortly afterward. One issue apparently is the fact that NASCAR now has three races in California, where air-quality regulations are much more stringent than in the nation in general. Sources say NASCAR has both kinds of fuel, leaded and unleaded, at its R&D Center in Concord, N.C. There was no word from series supplier Sunoco as to what it would take to convert to the "clean" fuel. Speed Channel
Verstappen eyes Champ CarUPDATE #2 We are downgrading this rumor to 'speculation' today. According to this Dutch website, Jos is working on a F1 deal for 2005, is very well funded and his sponsors want him in F1. Nobody we talked to the last couple of days thinks it makes any sense for Jos (and his sponsors) to go to OWRS given the uncertainty of its future (Delay after delay of announcements, no strong international TV announcements, etc.). He probably is the best funded driver next year ...he can bring $10-12M to a team. Jaguar already admitted they should have taken Jos instead of Klien and they sure can use the money....BAR ( we think that's a litlle off) has Brunotti (Dutch) as sponsor and they are close to Jos........ and Jordan has Trust and Wilux as sponsors. The only thing that left Jos this year without a seat, and what can be a problem for next year, are his outrageous salary demands. Trust is also open to back Jos in DTM. There are so many good drivers out there (Wurtz, Salo, Davidson, Jos etc) that probably would love to come and drive in Champ Car but unless OWRS gets more visible and better funded we don't see it happening. Let's see what the rumored announcements bring. 08/20/04 According to our Dutch contacts, Verstappen may have lined up a new, more international Dutch company that sells products worldwide. His current sponsors (Trust, etc) are only interested in the European markets and, if Champ Car is going to race in Europe twice in 2005 as rumored, then that might be fine with them. If not, this supposedly new sponsor is interested. Verstappen is hugely popular in Holland and Belgium, so races in Europe would benefit from his participation. 08/19/04 Finally convinced he's never going to land a decent F1 ride, according to the Dutch media (and here) Jos Verstappen is negotiating with Forsythe Racing for the 2005 season. There are also contacts with Audi for the DTM, but Champ Car appears to have more priority. Probably he has the backing from several Dutch companies such as Trust. Forsythe says on his official site that they wanted to make a deal with a well-known European driver mid-season, but "he was more interested in putting together a full season for next year. It’s a very well-known driver with a lot of talent."
From one of his websites: A couple of weeks ago Jos went karting, but luck was not on his side. He touched another kart during an overtaking maneuver which caused Jos' kart to roll and he hurt his knee. It seemed no too serious but the knee kept bothering him. He seems to have torn his front and back ligament in his knee. He will have to undergo surgery tomorrow.
Jos is optimistic: "Ah well, I'm in good hands. I will be operated on by a Belgian surgeon who has to upkeep his reputation with these kind of procedures. He operated professional motocross drivers who were back on their bikes 4 month later. Motocross drivers' knees are subjected to worse conditions than mine. Next week I will start revalidating. I will be fit in no time."
Jos walked round with a sore knee for a couple of weeks assuming that it would heal itself. "I overtook someone and he suddenly moved to the right. Our wheels touched, I got stuck behind the gearstick and rolled over. My knee was quite painful but I thought it was only slightly bruised. We decided to have x-rays taken, to be sure but those did not show anything. The pain kept bothering me. Two weeks after the accident I wanted to be sure but I could not go to my sports doctor, because he was on holiday. He was only able to see me about a week and a half ago. He thought there might something wrong and sent me for an MRI scan, this would show everything. It appeared more was wrong than we thought.
The delay in diagnosing Jos did not worry him. "The surgeon said it was not a problem. My knee has been rested for 4 weeks and all the surplus fluids and blood are gone. That is an advantage for the operation." After the procedure, which will be under general anesthetic, Jos will need to visit his physiotherapist and start revalidation. Jos is very confident. "The first week I won't be able to do anything. The knee will be packed in a brace and I will be on crutches." Jos is not worried. "I am in top shape. The level of fitness will influence the revalidation process. It will be over in no time. I will be ready in time for next season!"
Scott Sharp uncertain of futureScott Sharp is running out of races to extend his record streak of seven consecutive seasons with at least one victory. Worse, the 36-year-old Sharp, who starts 20th among 22 drivers today, has a hopeless feeling because he's largely been uncompetitive this season. He hasn't finished better than ninth. He has led only two laps (both at Japan), and he hasn't had a car capable of running up front. "It's kind of an odd situation," he said. "We're used to winning." Sharp has won at least one race every year since 1997. He has driven for Tom Kelley's team since 1998 and pushed his career totals to eight wins, five poles and a league-record 49 top-10 finishes. But with Toyota struggling and Kelley's Indianapolis-based team in disarray -- there is talk of disbanding or selling the team -- Sharp doesn't know what his future holds. He has one more year on his contract with sponsor Delphi. "I don't know what's going to happen," he said. "I just have to hope that the situation we find ourselves in next year is better than we're in now." Indy Star
Red Bull to NASCAR or Champ CarAccording to this German website article, Red Bull will pull their sponsorship from the Jaguar F1 team (which may mean Christian Klien is out of a ride) and will focus their money in the USA market, namely NASCAR and/or Champ Car, according to Dr. Helmut Marko. With Red Bull wanting to focus on the lucrative USA market, and their desire to help an American make it to F1, look for them to sponsor a car/driver in Champ Car because in the USA, that is the best way to make it to F1. Driving 100% throttle IRL cars and Taxicab Nextel Cup cars is not going to train a driver to excel in F1. Only Champ Car can do that in the USA.
Potential Portland upgradesA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Now that Portland looks like it is back on the OWRS Champ Car schedule for 2005, I also agree that upgrades ARE needed. This is my home track since it is down the road (I-5) from me. However, the facility is extremely poor for the fans and teams. It pales in comparison to the temporary False Creek circuit in Vancouver. I know you have made upgrade suggestions in the past, and I wanted to pass on a suggestion of my own to upgrade Portland International Raceway (PIR). At the first turn, I would eliminate the festival curves. This curve was added for the Champ Cars years ago to slow them down from the long straight. The cars go from asphalt to concrete back to asphalt. I would create a long infield section, like Nurburgring T1 without the elevation change.
The other areas would be changed to create more overtaking. The paddock areas would be upgraded to F1 standard with hope to retain Champ Cars and get a round of MotoGP or World Super Bike. Current grandstands are low angle wooden bleachers with no permanent suites for corporate clients. I would recommend raised high angle grandstands like Mexico City has for its start/finish area. Mark Moffatt, Renton, Washington Dear Mark, You make some good suggestions. However, your track reconfiguration changes are a bit too expensive for Portland right now. They are better off plowing any upgrade money into proper grandstands (yes, new, steep and with suites - Mexico City style) and an upgraded paddock first. The track also needs a bridge or tunnel for access into the circuit while cars are on track. In future years when the race is again profitable, we like the harder braking zone at the end of the back straight (better passing zone) and we would move the first turn about 1/4 mile further down the track and reconfigure the Festival Turn (as it is now called) into a proper corner. Mark C.
Champ Car to get more push-to-pass in VegasAccording to this Las Vegas Sun article, Patrick Carpentier said he would lobby Champ Car officials for more 'push-to-pass' time for the Las Vegas race. Currently, drivers are allowed 60 seconds of extra boost (an added 50 horsepower at the touch of a button) to use at their discretion. The feature was introduced this season in an effort to promote passing on street and road courses. Jimmy Vasser, a Las Vegas resident and the 1996 series champion, said he liked the idea of adding more 'push-to-pass' time, but conceded that most drivers would save their entire allotment until the closing laps of the race. [Editor's Note: Champ Car gave the drivers 15 extra seconds of push-to-pass for the Denver race and it made for better racing.]
Champ Car to pull out all the stops in VegasAccording to this Las Vegas Sun article, Champ Car officials are pulling out all the stops for the series' inaugural visit to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. While not giving specifics, John Lopes, Champ Car's executive vice president of operations, promised the series would stage a pre-race ceremony the likes of which open-wheel racing fans never have seen. "I can tell you the fans are in for a special pre-race ceremony," Lopes said. "We don't want to let the cat out of the bag other than to tell you we're going to do something special and different like we've never done in the pre-race, for the fans." With the truck race being right before the Champ Car race, whatever he's referring to will have to be done quickly.
Champ Car back to Portland after allUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact.' We spoke to Kevin Kalkhoven who informed AutoRacing1.com that they had indeed signed a 3-year letter of intent with the City of Portland. "It's a fantastic 3-year deal for Champ Car and for Portland, and with the changes the city has agreed to we think Portland can be another Denver event that we turn around into be a huge success." See Hot News page for more details. 08/20/04 According to an AP Sports news flash this after noon - The Champ Car World Series will return to Portland next year, after the Indy Racing League decided against putting the road course at Portland International Raceway on its schedule.
Ford to reduce NASCAR involvementRumor has it that in 18 to 24 months, when Toyota enters Nextel Cup, Ford, who refuses to go head-to-head against Toyota and their bottomless money pit, will significantly reduce their NASCAR involvement in favor of other forms of motorsports. We hear Chevy may not be far behind. Both companies have been burned in the past in the IRL and CART having lost their best teams and drivers to Honda and Toyota who simply stole their best talent with large money offers. We see it even now in the IRL. Despite their so-called rules equity for equipment, they can't stop the Japanese from hiring hte best talent. Detroit has fallen on hard times and if anyone thinks they are in a position to battle Toyota and Honda in any form of motorsports, think again. They will just move on to other forms of racing.
Speedway wings too expensive for Vegas?We will set the record straight and make this rumor 'false' to start with. We heard lots of chatter that the reason OWRS did not mandate superspeedway wings for Vegas, and thereby much faster cars/speeds, was a financial one. Not true as all the teams that participated in the series last year had speedway wings for the final at Fontana that was cancelled and all the teams still have those wings.
McGee to replace Kneifel?According to this AutoWeek article, Top Champ Car World Series sources insist operations director Chris Kneifel’s job is secure, but rumors persist that Kneifel isn’t long for the series. Kneifel was the handpicked successor of former chief steward Wally Dallenbach, but his title and job description have been changed several times the last few seasons. The buzz has no doubt been prompted by a recent series of controversial officiating calls (not necessarily Kneifel’s), driver complaints and efforts to restore order with penalties. Veteran team manager Jim McGee, with more wins than any crew chief/team manager in Indy car history, is rumored as a potential Kneifel replacement. McGee’s presence at the Champ Car race in Denver, as a guest of team and series owner Kevin Kalkhoven, did nothing to quell the buzz.
Champ Car has future at Vegas ovalAccording to this Las Vegas Sun article, Although the Champ Car World Series has not completely given up on trying to put together a street race in Las Vegas, it appears the open-wheel series' inaugural race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway next month won't be its last at the 1.5-mile oval. John Lopes, Champ Car's executive vice president of operations, said Wednesday that he expects the series to return to the speedway next year. "(LVMS general manager Chris Powell and I) kind of looked at each other and said we would like to race again together in the future and we're in discussions," Lopes said. "We've got a little more work to do, but we're close. "We have wanted to come to Las Vegas for a long time. We have looked for a long time at doing a street race here and fate would have it that we're running an oval race this year and, quite frankly, the way that everything has gone ... we feel like this is going to be a big event and it would be good business for both sides to continue." Champ Car, which bought the assets of Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) out of bankruptcy earlier this year, had only one oval race on its schedule before adding the Sept. 25 race at LVMS. Lopes said it was crucial for the series to align itself with a facility such as LVMS, which is owned by Bruton Smith's Speedway Motorsports Inc.
Foyt team's future in jeopardyThe AJ Foyt IRL team has been thoroughly beaten by the CART teams that have invaded the series. It's really no different than when Foyt ran his team in CART. He was a backmarker then and he remains a backmarker today. When he was in CART he used to stomp and carry on that he couldn't get the best engines. Well now he has Toyota engines and his team remains backmarkers. So bad has been their performance that it's starting to look doubtful whether the team has any future at all. In this Indy Star article, AJ Foyt IV says, "There's no reason I'd want to leave, although our sponsor thing is looking kind of iffy. If we can't find something else, I guess I've got to go somewhere else." Foyt was approached by another team last year -- rumored to be Ganassi Racing -- but nothing came of it. Panther Racing also had an interest........Foyt hasn't had an engineer for most of his Indy-car career and the team, based in Waller, Texas, is hurt by being a one-car operation. Also, its Toyota engines don't seem to be as strong as the ones used by the lead Toyota teams, and fuel management has been a problem [Editor's Note: Because AJ Foyt IV lacks talent of any sort, he has to run more wing in the car to keep him from spinning out (recall he used to crash every single race when he ran less downforce). Hence his car goes slower down the straights and burns more fuel due to the added drag. To blame Toyota for giving him less powerful engines is not fair to Toyota.]
David Richards to be fired?Rumor has it that Honda is miffed at BAR boss David Richards for letting Jenson Button get away, so miffed in fact that they may push for his removal. Richards is being blamed for not understanding the contract and letting Button steal away right under their noses. Richards it is said, should have re-signed Button in advance. If Richards goes, that is sure to make Villeneuve happy.
Minardi eyes MontagnyIf rumors out of Europe can be believed, Minardi boss Paul Stoddart wants to sign Franck Montagny for 2005. The deal could be financed by Renault, who are keen to see the young Frenchman graduate to a race drive. Stoddart told the Hungarian press: “I don't know if Montagny will get a chance at Renault but it's sure he's ready for Formula 1. He is mature, intelligent and reliable.”
Jordan close to hiring SmithJordan is edging closer to a deal with Renault to sign chief designer Mark Smith. Smith has agreed to join Jordan but, although he is no longer working at Renault, the French owned team has not agreed terms to release him. Team bosses Eddie Jordan and Flavio Briatore held talks at the Hungaroring last weekend and it is hoped that the matter can now be resolved without the need for legal action. Autosport Magazine
Ferrari and FIA in collusion?Fears that Ferrari’s dominance of Formula 1 will be even greater next season have surfaced amid sensational claims that there has been collusion between the team and the sport’s governing body in framing next year’s regulations. A high-level F1 source has told Autosport that there are grounds to believe Ferrari has been heavily consulted about planned rule changes for 2005 and that the team may even have pushed for the rules to favour its own car design. Its role in framing the regulations would have allowed it extra months of time in the design office and, more crucially, guaranteed that rules were suitable to its single-keel suspension mounting design. The new regulations, which prescribe reductions in diffuser size and a raising of front wings, virtually guarantee that Ferrari’s closest rivals, Williams and McLaren, will have to abandon their twin-keel concepts. The source also has suspicions that both Ferrari and Renault chief Flavio Briatore have been in close discussions with the FIA about the planned switch to two-race engines and 2.4-litre V8 powerplants in 2006 – this concept is not supported by BMW, Mercedes or Honda. There are even suggestions that Renault has been working on the new concepts for some time, well before all its rivals except Ferrari. The source said: “Don’t be surprised if two teams start next season with a big advantage.” For more read Autosport Magazine
Button could be forced to sit out a yearThis week's Autosport magazine reports that the negotiations for 2005 cannot start in earnest until there is a definitive ruling from Formula 1’s Contract Recognition Board on whether BAR’s contract with Jenson Button is valid for next season. A decision is expected to be made between the Belgian and Italian grands prix, and BAR believes there is no doubt about the outcome. Team boss Dave Richards said: “I’m confident the ruling will go in our favor.” Williams is of the opinion that the matter may not be resolved for months, however. If BAR is successful in its case, then it will push for Button to commit to the team for 2005. If he refuses, then BAR could either demand a substantial payment from Williams for his services, or force him to sit on the sidelines while it signs another driver. Super-licences are only issued to drivers with valid contracts, so Button would be free to race in any other category but would not be able to drive for anyone other than BAR in F1.
Possible F1 qualifying change?To boost interest in F1 qualifying, according to Jaguar boss Tony Purnell, Sunday's grid should be determined by two ten-lap races, one to be held on the Friday afternoon and the other on the Saturday. And the grid for those races would be decided by a draw, with the grid for race one being reversed for race two thus giving all the drivers an equal opportunity. The results of those races would then be aggregated to determine the drivers' grid slots for Sunday's race. "You'd have to drive absolutely flat out. And because it is clearly a random selection, you will find brilliant drivers like Michael Schumacher having to overtake not-so-good drivers. If you don't finish, you don't score. If Michael started race one 19th, he'd start race two second. On average that is fair," Purnell said.
Two RCR sponsor contracts up at end of 2004Cingular stays with RCR or is out of NASCAR: it's not a lock that the team [RCR - Richard Childress Racing] will have three primary sponsors next season; RCR's contract with the #30 car's sponsor, America Online, is up for renegotiation. Cingular sponsors the #31 car currently being driven by Robby Gordon. And if they want to stay in NASCAR as a sponsor, the 31 car is their only option. NASCAR's sponsorship contract with Nextel prohibits competing telecommunications companies from sponsoring cars. Previously existing sponsorships such as Cingular's were grandfathered in, but the sponsor may not leave to sponsor another car. Cingular has been extremely supportive of Gordon — but if AOL leaves, will Childress try to get Cingular to take Burton instead? USA Today
Barrichello to BAR?Ferrari's managing director has denied rumours that Rubens Barrichello is heading to BAR next season. The rumours about Barrichello's switch to BAR emarged at the Hungarian GP after he was spotted talking to BAR boss Dave Richards. "Just a lousy rumor," Jean Todt said when questioned about it. "Actually, it makes me laugh when I read such things - Rubens probably walked into the motor home of David Richards because he was invited for a drink! Rubens has a contract with us and if I am not mistaken, he is very happy." He also denied rumours that Ferrari helped FIA President Max Mosley draw up his list of intended rules for next season. "Unfortunately our world is comprised of rumour. Let me say this - I respect what Max does. I think he has been a fantastic FIA president. I speak with him often, probably just as he speaks with others," Todt concluded
Ralf to test at MonzaAfter the Belgian Grand Prix, the BMW WilliamsF1 team will travel to Monza for a four-day test that will take place from the 31st of August to the 3rd of September where they plan to continue efforts to improve the FW26’s performance as well as completing a preparation program for the Italian Grand Prix, which takes place at Monza on September 12th.
Should he be fully recovered, the test at Monza may represent regular driver Ralf Schumacher's return to the cockpit. He has been out since his crash at Indy. According to Formula One doctor, Sid Watkins, a test is mandatory to determine if Ralf is fit to race. “But first, Ralf’s regular doctor, Dr. Peil, will have to decide if Ralf is fit enough to contest a test,” said Watkins, “Then Ralf will have to complete a further test before he can contest a race.” Antonio Pizzonia will probably drive the Belgian Grand Prix in Ralf’s absence.
Josh Hunt full-time in Champ Car in 2005?Lynx Toyota Atlantic driver Josh Hunt started from the 10th spot on the grid in Denver Sunday and brought his #15 Wright Patton Shakespeare/Atkinson Gore Group Swift 014.a home in 9th, his fifth top-10 finish of the year. "This is a really challenging track, tight, bumpy and with very little grip," says Hunt. "We struggled with the setup and never really did hit it just right, so the race was a lesson for me in how to keep the car off the walls and bring it home. This was a great event, and Denver is a great city, and I can’t wait to come back here again next year, hopefully in a Champ Car."
Red Sox owner to team up with RoushRed Sox owner John Henry is a huge NASCAR fan and would relish the opportunity to go racing for the Nextel Cup. He isn't known for doing anything halfway, and even if his foray into racing starts as a sponsorship deal on a car, his long-term goal appears to be owning a team. Henry's involvement with Roush could be one reason behind Jeff Burton's departure from the #99 Ford, which has been without a full-time sponsor since the season started. It has been 98 races since Burton, 37, last won. Bringing in a young, gregarious talent would marry well with a baseball sponsorship, and Carl Edwards, 25, certainly fits. Edwards, currently fourth in points with two victories this season in the Craftsman Truck Series, will make his Cup debut in the #99 Sunday at Michigan. FoxSports/Sporting News
Denver may get key upgradesWe spoke to the Centrix Grand Prix General Manager John Frew who said, "things are looking really good this weekend. Tickets sales are good, corporate sales are good and already we had more people here Friday and Saturday than we had for three days last year." He went on to tell us that he hopes to get our idea from three year’s ago implemented for next year. That would be to extend the pit straight as shown in green on the image to the right up the adjacent bridge and back, thereby creating a hairpin leading onto the straight and making the straight long enough so that a real overtaking area is created at the end of the pit straight. He is hopeful he can get government approval to close the bridge during the weekend because cars do have alternate routes they can use, install a section of removable galvanized steel or aluminum median barrier and build the hairpin near the top of the bridge. The new section would gain the added length it needs, but more importantly it opens up another overtaking zone. More grandstands are planned for 2005 and the race will be held on the same weekend as this year. Mark C.
Rocketsports to test more driversUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. We now hear that Rocketsports won't be testing any new drivers in Vegas this week. 08/15/04 We have it on good word that most Champ Car teams will be testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this coming week in preparation for the upcoming race on the 1.5-mile Superspeedway. We also hear that Rocketsports will be testing an additional driver or two. Might Michael Valiante finally get a chance to wheel a Rocketsports Lola? Stay tuned, we'll try to find out.
Fogarty eyes Grand-Am rideOn the verge of winning the Champ Car Toyota Atlantic for the 2nd time, thereby proving he should be given a Champ Car ride, American Jon Fogarty told AutoRacing1 “if I do not get a Champ Car offer this time, I don’t know what else I have to do to prove myself. Turning left isn’t my idea of having a good time,” obviously referring to the IRL. “If I get shunned in the Champ Car paddock again I may go and race in the Grand-Am series.” --Cassio Cortes--
Fernandez Racing eyes Grand-Am program[Editor’s Note: Recall Grand-Am’s desire to go to Mexico when it thought Champ Car would fold.] Indy Racing League owner-driver Adrian Fernandez is tipped to branch out into the Grand-Am Rolex Series, and is rumoured to be putting together a Daytona Prototype program. Having quit Champ Cars for the IRL at the start of the season, it was expected that the Mexican would concentrate on the single-seater series - in which he oversees a car for rookie Kosuke Matsuura as well as his own - for the time being, but the possibility of Grand-Am expanding into Mexico appears to be a temptation he cannot resist. The rumour mill insists that the programme hinges on Grand-Am securing a date in Mexico City, something that is currently being discussed. The event would most likely accompany NASCAR’s proposed Busch Series race at the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit, although race promoters CEI and Jim France are apparently dithering over Grand-Am’s sanction fee. Fernandez apparently has a Mexican sponsor lined-up for the programme should it get the green light, and could well run - or run with - current Ganassi driver Jimmy Morales in the car, the make of which has yet to be confirmed. Morales, meanwhile, is likely to also race a Ganassi Busch car in Mexico City if the Grand-Am deal comes together. The first part of that arrangement will be put into place at Watkins Glen this weekend, where Ganassi is renting a Busch North car for Morales to race. Crash.net
Roberto Moreno looking to come backUPDATE AutoRacing1.com has learned that PKV Racing may be talking to Roberto Moreno about coming onboard as a driver/coach, possibly for rookie Roberto Gonzalez. 08/14/04 We spoke to Roberto Moreno today in Denver and asked him if he might be looking to get back into a Champ Car. Moreno, being his usual elusive self, hinted that he was sniffing around to see what opportunities there might be for next year. -- Mark C.--
Another bluff called by Champ Car?Recall that Champ Car called Portland’s bluff when they tried to use a competing bid from the IRL against Champ Car. Champ Car withdrew their bid and now Portland is left holding the bag with no race. It looks like Road America is in the same boat. Rumor has it from a good source that the IRL cannot race at Road America after all. It seems when they signed their Milwaukee contract the fine print says that they cannot race at another track within a certain radius of Milwaukee, hence they are precluded from now replacing Champ Car at Road America. Hence any opportunity for Road America to use the threat of the IRL to sweeten their Champ Car deal appears gone. --Mark C.--
Villeneuve back to BAR HondaUPDATE #2 BAR team boss David Richards has played down speculation that he is considering re-hiring Jacques Villeneuve should his bid to retain Jenson Button's services fall through. “David Richards and I have had our differences, but I believe we can put everything behind us," the 1997 world champion said, "“I'm sure we can sort things out and work together on making the team go forward, because BAR are true front-runners. Ferrari are the best but, after them, it's BAR — the only team that can worry Michael Schumacher. “I've spoken to David and it would be good if something can be worked out, but we have to wait and see what happens to Jenson. I want to get back into F1 and fight at the front." Richards confirmed the pair had been in touch, but denied that there had been any talks about Villeneuve returning. "He called me and we had a chat about things - as have a lot of people," Richards told Reuters reporters at the Hungarian Grand Prix, "We need to resolve the current situation first." 08/14/04 According to the Sun Villeneuve believes he and Dave Richards can patch up their differences from the past and start afresh. The Canadian believes that BAR is second only to Ferrari. “I’ve spoken to David and it would be good if something can be worked out but we have to wait and see what happens to Jenson,” the Sun report Villeneuve as saying. “But I want to get back into F1 and fight at the front. I’ve been watching the races on TV this season and I’ve been training since the winter. I’m hungry for a return.” 08/13/04 According to this RDS.ca article, David Richards, the guy who badmouthed Jacques Villeneuve and painted him in a very bad light last year when he terminated him, has recommended to BAT that they now consider him to replace a departing Jenson Button in the BAR Honda seat. Imagine that!. Racing is indeed a strange game.
Valiante almost got Sperafico ride tooRumor has it that in addition to Tiago Monteiro, Canadian Michael Valiante also had flown into Denver and was prepared to replace Alex Sperafico in the #14 MiJack-Conquest car before Nelson Philippe came up with the big money for the remainder of the year.
Champ Car expanding sales and marketing staffWord in the Denver paddock is that Champ Car is increasing their sales and marketing staff. The general consensus is that the VP of Marketing Tom Moser and the new VP of Sales David Bowers are the best the series ever had. --Mark C.--
Walker Racing shooting for 2 carsOur sources at Walker Racing tell us that sponsors are expressing a real interest in the new Champ Car series now and they are confident about fielding a two car Lola team for next year. They still are very much interested in Michael Valiante. --Mark C.--
Puerto Rico yes, Seoul noUPDATE #3 AutoRacing1.com has learned that the plan is to double the number of grandstand seats for Puerto Rico this year because of the interest in Champ Car and motorsports in general in the country. We also have learned that once the convention center is completed adjacent to the track that even more grandstands can be erected and the track lengthened. The Depertment of Tourism is slated to meet this coming Tuesday to give final approval of the Champ Car/Trans-Am weekend in November. --Mark C.-- 08/13/04 This Grandprix.com article adds, A 1.6-mile circuit will be laid out on the Isla Grande Airport in San Juan, which normally hosts private aviation and a US Army Aviation support facility. This facility may eventually be closed with all activities moving to a new airport as part of a masterplan to boost tourist revenues. Work is already underway to revitalise the whole area with a development including hotels, museums, commercial and residential buildings, a World Trade Center and a Convention Center. Available land from the former naval base in Isla Grande has been entirely allocated to the project. As a result the idea of the race has attracted support from the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and from the government. 08/11/04 The Champ Car series is set to finish outside of the United States this year, with a street race in Puerto Rico favourite to host the season finale. Gerald Forsythe, one of the founder members of the Open Wheel Racing Series that now runs Champ Car, admitted that the prospect of teaming up with the Trans-Am series for an end-of-season double-header on the Caribbean island in November is becoming ever more likely. “It looks good, but the only date we could use would be November 20-21,” he said. Forsythe also confirmed the series will not be returning to Florida’s St Petersburg street circuit in the near future. The track is now in talks with the rival IRL IndyCar Series. Autosport Magazine 8/12/04 08/07/04 Look for an announcement soon that Champ Car will close the 2004 season in Puerto Rico on November 21st, teamed with Trans-Am. The Seoul, South Korea race is dead and we hear it's never going to happen.
Lyons to F1?Richard Lyons, the current leader of the Formula Nippon Championship in Japan, was in the paddock in Hungary, talking to teams about possible jobs in 2005. Lyons met with as many as eight different F1 teams. "In a few weeks there will be decisions being taken for at least an F1 test," Lyons said. "For the people who are interested the facts speak for themselves in Japan and the Formula 1 driver market is the most open it has ever been." Lyons has been racing in Japan for the last four seasons. Grandprix.com
Ford-Cosworth renews with Champ CarWe are hearing here in Denver that Ford-Cosworth has renewed their deal with Champ Car and will supply engines to the series for 2005. The engines will be pretty much unchanged from their current configuration, though some consideration is being given to provide the drivers with more than 50 extra HP when using push-to-pass. They will continue to supply Chevrolet with engines in the IRL too. As we undertsand it the deal with Ford is for one year as Champ Car decides on its next generation Champ Car and engine for 2006. See a related item on this topic on Hot News page.
Champ Car on verge of even more big newsPreviously we rumored that Champ Car was on the verge of signing three large Fortune 500 consumer-focused sponsors, one of which is McDonald's. Today we learned in Denver that in fact it is four such companies that are just about wrapped up and they are working on others. Based on what we have learned about sponsorship and new venues it is now safe to say that anyone who continues to predict Champ Car's ultimate demise probably has another agenda or isn't clued into what is coming down. They will be surprised and disappointed. --Mark C.--
Cracks forming in the IRL?Rumor has it the Vice President of Sales for the Indy Racing League resigned recently and we hear things are not as bright and rosy as one might think in Georgetown. --Mark C.--
TELMEX preparing to go NASCAR racingTELMEX is already thinking about the NASCAR race in Mexico. This weekend they will pay to have one of their drivers, Jimmy Morales, run in the Busch Series race in Watkins Glen. Morales is a regular of the GrandAm Series. Rumor is TELMEX is thinking about sponsoring a car for the whole 2005 season and Morales may be the driver. --Jose Arrambide--
Philippe to Conquest RacingUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today as Philippe has taken over for Sperafico in the Mi-Jack #14 as we originally rumored in Toronto. 07/10/04 A rumor going around the Champ Car paddock in Toronto is that Nelson Philippe may be back with the Conquest Racing team, as either a third car, or as a replacement for Alex Sperafico. The word is that Philippe and his backers did not feel they were getting the best car with Rocketsports, that the car did not have the latest pieces and the same experienced engineering staff as teammate Alex Tagliani, so they decided to take their money, and sponsor to another team. This is all hearsay right now, so don't read too much into it just yet.
Sellout possible for DenverWe spoke to one of the workers we know here in Denver who told us that he was told ticket sales are "really" good this year. While not given any specific numbers, he was led to believe that a sellout is quite possible. It looks like moving the race off of the busy Denver Labor Day weekend has helped enormously - that and better promotion.
Wallace to retire after 2005Although nothing has been announced yet, Rusty Wallace, the 1984 NASCAR rookie of the year and 1989 champion, has begun planning for a farewell tour next season . Such announcements often come during the October weekend in Charlotte, but it wouldn't be surprising if Wallace, who will turn 48 Saturday, were to make his in two weeks in Bristol, Tenn., site of nine of his 54 victories. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Three and counting....We are hearing through our sources that not only will there be at least three new events on the Champ Car circuit in 2005, but there's more coming. Not only are 2 of the 3 in 2005 expected to draw 300,000+ for the weekend, but the ones slated to come on board for 2006 are even bigger than that, this from a source we trust. It looks like OWRS really are going to put the "world" back in Champ Car World Series. As they move toward becoming a world class series, let's hope they have a world class car (we believe you know what we mean with regard to the next-gen car) to race with because there will be comparisons to F1 as they gain popularity worldwide. Mark C.
What about Manchester?UPDATE We are now hearing that Manchester will indeed happen as early as 2005. While the Champ Car series was racing at Road America last weekend, Kevin Kalkhoven was over in Europe meeting with Manchester officials. Mark C.08/07/04 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I live in England and was excited when I read the rumors about a possible Champ Car race in my country again. Is it really going to happen? --James Taylor, Manchester-- Dear James, Manchester is definitely in play, but from what we know it will not happen until 2006, if at all. Mark C.
Toyota trying to steer da Matta to the IRLUPDATE A reader writes, So much for da Matta staying loyal to Toyota. Cristiano da Matta's Website has been changed. All his pics with anything that had Toyota on it were removed. The top of his website is now all black with his signature on it. Interesting as his colors at Newman/Haas were black. Rod, Orlando, FL.08/11/04 Axed Toyota driver Cristiano da Matta has gone home to Brazil to consider his future, says his manager Fernando Paiva.Despite being dropped from the F1 team, da Matta is staying loyal to Toyota, refusing to talk to the media about his departure.Da Matta, replaced by countryman and Toyota test driver Ricardo Zonta for the rest of the season, appears to have opportunities in America, still with Toyota who he drove for when he won the 2002 Champ Car World Series, before switching to Formula 1.Manager Paiva said: "We've been with Toyota forever, and they've always treated us well. Actually, given the roughness of the situation at hand, they were very kind with the negotiations and open to a number of options."We have no reason to upset Toyota. Looking at the big picture, they've always been a loyal and good partner. In Brazil there's an expresson:. 'You don't spit on the plate where you just ate.'". If da Matta is to stay with Toyota that would suggest a move to the Indy Racing League in America, but it is known that his former Champ Car team Newman-Haas Racing, part owned by actor Paul Newman, is keen to have him back. But the Brazilian is in no rush to decide."For the moment he is a little shocked with what happened and doesn't want to make a decision in a hurry," added Paiva. "He wants to give it a bit of time and make his call. ITV-F1.com
Dumped empoyee could sue ToyotaDumped team manager Ange Pasquali is reportedly considering legal action after Toyota fired him in spite of success in Rally, Le Mans and the Drivers' Academy. Research boss Norbert Kreyer also got the chop in a move that F1 principal Tsutomu Tomita said is designed to boost efficiency and improve 'communication.' ''It may seem severe,'' the Japanese acknowledged this week. ''[Ange made] a significant contribution to our projects.'' But Tomita insisted the decision was discussed 'with all personnel' involved. ''We felt we should establish a structure that is more focused on achieving our ambitious goals,'' said the team's boss, ''so that's why we decided to do it.'' F1Central
Hunt hoping to start first Champ Car raceUPDATE AutoRacing1.com has learned that PVK Racing has a test set up at Firebird on September 5th and 6th. Could it be to test Josh Hunt? We are betting yes. 08/11/04 Josh Hunt, 19, of Australia's Gold Coast, is an international karting champion who races with sponsorship from Kevin Kalkhoven, co-owner of both the Champ Car World Series and the PKV Racing Champ Car team. Hunt is working toward making his debut as a Champ Car driver in a third car from the PKV team at the Gold Coast Champ Car race in November. As we understand it, the decision as to whether he is ready to make his Champ Car debut in his home country will be made around the beginning of September. Technically he can drive the car, but is he ready to handle all the pressure of debuting in front of his countrymen counting on him doing a good job.
Chilly relationship drove Button to WilliamsAs the Jenson Button saga enters its second week more information is coming to light about why the Brit has opted to leave BAR at the end of the season. And the latest rumours cite his distant relationship with lovable (not) team boss Dave Richards as one of the factors. Planet-F1.com
Stoddart looking to sell Minardi teamMinardi boss Paul Stoddart is looking to sell his F1 team but only to a manufacturer who can give Minardi the financial boost it needs. Minardi has spent much of its 19 years in F1 trailing at the back of the grid and has in fact only managed to score 31 points since its inception in 1985. Lack of results, which have gone hand-in-hand with minimal financing, have been the story of Minardi's F1 career. "If I could find a manufacturer who could take Minardi further than I can I would sell. I've always maintained I just want the best for Minardi," Stoddart said. PlanetF1.com
Champ Car considers Lola modsWe are hearing that the next generation Champ Car due in 2006 will probably be a brand new car and engine, but one scenario being bantered around is keeping the existing grossly overweight Lola and outfitting it with some bandaide upgrades like paddle shifters and the like. The upgrade cost is estimated to be $100 to $150K. However, there is an offer on the table for an entire new car that is lighter, hence faster, a V10, exceeds all cuurent Champ Car Safety Specifications, comes with two engine manufacturers wanting to put their name on the engine, and three tire manufacturers wanting to supply tires, all the latest wiz-bang electronics, etc all for $300K complete (engine, everything). Earth to OWRS - it's time to put the old lady (Lola) to bed. She has outlived her useful life and fatigue cracking is soon to set in. It's time for a “new Champ Car.”. --Mark C.--
Renault 2000 to race at Puerto RicoWe are hearing that when the Champ Car/Trans-Am doubleheader is announced for San Juan Puerto Rico the weekend of November 20-21, that the North American Renault 2000 series will be a support event.
IRL cars to test at Road AmericaA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, At last weekend's Champ Car event, Road America officials were openly discussing a scheduled test for IRL cars at the track in September. Their claim of having a small crowd is also all wet. The crowd, although not as large as CART's heydays easily surpassed the numbers that attended in '03 and seemed to match their events for motorcycles and vintage cars held earlier this season. They do not want Champ Car back because they have it in their heads that the IRL will be there in '05. Time will tell. PLEASE DO NOT USE MY NAME!!! [Editor's Note: We have no knowledge of the above, but that does not mean it's not true. If true, Champ Car's loss will be the IRL's gain.]
ALMS to add street race or twoThe likely return of street racing to the American Le Mans Series in 2005 will have a double significance. The addition of a high-profile city event will be a major fill-in for the US sportscar series. The race will also be important because it will take place in late March or early April and give the ALMS a second round in the first half of the year, before the break intended to allow its entrants to race at the Le Mans 24 Hours. ALMS boss Scott Atherton said: “The desire to fit in a second race after the Sebring 12 Hours has always been strong. Our teams need another race to bridge the gap to the start of our summer season at the end of June. The two most likely options we are looking at are both street events. They are in cities where it would make sense to run in the spring.” Atherton refused to name the cities, but admitted that St Petersburg was a third option. A fallback would be to organise a second event at Road Atlanta, home of the end-of-season Petit Le Mans race. Autosport Magazine 8/12/04
Champ Car set to drop Road AmericaThe spectacular Elkhart Lake road course looks set to drop off the Champ Car schedule next season after last weekend’s race failed to attract a sufficiently large crowd. The four-mile track is popular with drivers, but for the third year running the meeting made a loss. Track president George Bruggenthies said: “Even though the racing was exciting, we lost money.” Gerald Forsythe, who is a partner in the Open Wheel Racing Series body that runs Champ Car, said: “We’d like to keep running there if it makes sense, but to be honest, it’s not high on our list.” Autosport Magazine 8/12/04
Money drove Button to WilliamsAccording to the latest rumors it was finances that prompted Jenson Button to drop BAR in favour of Williams for 2005. Despite Button's adamant denial that finances did not play a role in his decision it now looks as if the mighty dollar was involved. However, it wasn't wanting more money but rather wanting what was owed to him that prompted the Brit to drop BAR in favour of Williams. According to a report in The Sun when Button signed his BAR contract in 2002 he was promised a £30,000 bonus for every point that he scored. However, when in 2003 F1's point-scoring system changed to award points to the top eight instead of the top six finishers BAR team boss Dave Richards wanted to halved Button's bonus to £15,000. Added to that the team was delaying paying Button the money he'd earned through the 61 points he's scored this season, although it is now thought that BAR have paid him in full in order to keep the matter out of the media. A source close to Button told The Sun: "David has not been forthcoming with the payments and that has generated animosity." However, it wasn't only finances that prompted Button to seek greener pastures. The source added that he "didn't feel his future was secure with BAR and Williams would be a better long-term prospect."
Superfund in troubleUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Upon reading this rumor, AutoRacing1.com was contacted by a spokesperson from Quadriga Asset Management GmbH, owners of the Superfund, and offered this response to our report/rumor:
"Superfund seems to be in serious trouble" That´s absolutely not true. After consultation with the German supervisory authority for financial services (BaFin) we decided to end the sales and marketing efforts of superfund profit sharing rights. It was the decision of Quadriga/Superfund. There will be no changes for existing investors. Quadriga/Superfund has been offering this type of product (profit sharing rights) for more than three years under the oversight of the German regulators. In October 2004 we will come out with several new high quality products in Germany.
"It was never allowed in Switzerland and is under serious investigation now in Austria" Nobody ever said that our products are not allowed in Switzerland - that’s completely nonsense. As a result of the events taking place in Germany, the Austrian financial market authority (FMA) has taken a closer look at our profit sharing right constructure, although profit sharing rights have been offered in Austria more than 15 years. On May 26, 1999, the Austrian ministry of finance, the regulatory agency at the time, stated on request of Quadriga, that "the issue of profit sharing rights ... does not require an authorization by the ministry of finance". However, the FMA took a completely different view, whereby profit sharing rights may have been considered as a "banking business". Thus, the Quadriga group is pleased to be working closely with the FMA to help develop legal regulations that are in the best interests of the Austrian investor.
We would like to emphasize that the authority doesn’t question the accurate business transaction. It only holds the unfounded legal opinion and subjective view that after eight years of successful operation, Quadriga needs a bank charter for certain additional business. The steps taken by the authority do not affect the professional management of the invested capital by the accepted Quadriga trading systems.
"Meanwhile, the several types of funds for privateers are in the red by between 20 and 38 per cent" In the past few weeks, the media have highlighted the present drawdown of the Superfund A, B, C products. This drawdown is not very pleasant, yet there is no reason to worry, as only long-term periods show the quality of an investment product. Investments in Quadriga/Superfund products have proven to be extremely profitable since their inception in 1996. Average annual returns from +22.26% (Quadriga AG) up to +48.85% (Superfund Cayman since 2001) have helped to turn Quadriga into the most successful futures fund provider in the world.
In March 2004, the Quadriga GCT Futures Fund USD was admitted to the CSFB (Credit Suisse First Boston) Tremont Investable Hedge Fund Index, one of the most important and most significant international “Investable Indexes”. In addition, more than 30 awards – including “Standard & Poor’s” 5 Stars and number one ranking of the “Wall Street Journal Europe” ranking – prove the worldwide accepted quality of our products.
"... Could seriously affect the sponsorship of the Minardi F1-team. And it could ... to a nearly end" The sponsoring activities are not affected with the current situation in Germany. As I told you before we will come out with new products in Germany which are adapted to the new German law. We did nothing wrong and we are doing nothing illegal at all. Meanwhile Superfund is a main sponsor of motorsports around the world and we are a very serious company. There is no doubt that WILL BE a superfund Euro 3000 series next year and that we will be sponsoring the Minardi F1 team. Source: Superfund Management
08/09/04 Superfund, the company that "owns" the Euro3000 series and is sponsoring the Minardi F1-team and some drivers from Austria (for example Norbert Siedler), seems to be in serious trouble. The sale of their Quadriga-Hedge-Funds is stopped in Germany. It was never allowed in Switzerland and is under serious investigation now in Austria. In Germany they are not allowed to sell Single-Hedge-Funds to privateers. Superfund found a way around the German law with a special financial construction, but Superfund was forced to stop that effective immediately, because it is forbidden, too. In former years Quadriga-Hedge-Funds, an idea of the former policeman Christian Baha, founder of Superfund, made an unbelieveable profit of 20% per year. Meanwhile, the several types of funds for privateers are in the red by between 20 and 38 per cent. What seemed to be a gold mine, appears to be a black hole now......What's going on with Superfund, could seriously affect the sponsorship of the Minardi-F1-team. And it could bring the ambitious plans of making Euro3000 a succesful racing series to an early end. We may never see the new 700hp car, although they have paid to have a prototype designed and built. Guenter Reinhold reporting from Europe
Top Toyota Atlantic drivers to get Champ Car testSources tell AutoRacing1.com that the top three or four drivers in the Toyota Atlantic Series will probably be offered a Champ Car test later this year. They include championship leaders Jon Fogarty (1st) and Ryan Dalziel (2nd), as well as Danica Patrick (3rd. Unless it's already decided she will be in the IRL in 2005) and Andrew Ranger (4th). Ranger's management has set a late August date to decide whether to move him up to Champ Car in 2005 or whether he needs one more year in the Toyota Atlantic Series. Although he has been outpaced by his more experienced Sierra Sierra teammate Dalziel this year, it is not by much and he has been right there knocking on the door.
Newman/Haas announcement comingUPDATE According to Robin Miller on Monday night Wind Tunnel, if the Newman/Haas team does split up, it could be Bruno Junqueira and Patrick Carpentier driving for Carl Haas in the IRL with Honda money, and Sebastien Bourdais and Cristiano da Matta driving for Paul Newman in Champ Car in 2005. Robin claims Paul Newman was going to let him know today what was decided, but he has not received a return phone call from Paul yet. AutoRacing1.com sources say Honda may have withdrawn the offer because they are winning everything now and do not need to add any more IRL teams. We shall see, but as we told you yesterday, we heard Haas was leaning toward not going to the IRL. 08/09/04 Word at Road America is that the Newman/Haas team will make an announcement about the future of their team Monday or Tuesday of this week. From what we hear Carl Haas has decided to stick with Champ Car and forego the IRL. Cristiano da Matta will probably also figure into their future plans, either as a third driver, or as a replacement for one of the existing drivers. Stay tuned......
Fittipaldi wants back inUPDATE Also hearing that Emerson Fittipaldi would like to start a Champ Car team again. Perhaps if the Brazil race and Emmo's team happens, Christian could drive for Emmo. 08/07/04 Word on the street is that Christian Fittipaldi is showing some signs of possibly wanting to find a way back into Champ Car. If Champ Car is indeed going to race in Brazil again, then we think you will see more Brazilians again showing an interest in Champ Car. Let's see where this rumor goes.
World Series by Nissan RumorsOur sources in Europe tell us that the race in China (Shanghai), scheduled for the end of October, will not happen. World Series Organizer RPM is not happy with the organizers in China. RPM Press Officer Blanca de Foronda: "They promised a lot, but they did not give any guarantees." Everything is still up in the air, and RPM will no longer wait. Instead of the China race, RPM is pursuing a substitute race in Europe. They want to team up with another series, for example F3. This event should use the same date (Oct. 31) or the weekend after.
At the Barcelona race only (Oct. 3rd), the World Series will use the same qualifying format as F1, with only one flying lap. They'll do that, because in Barcelona the Michelin 510 tire is used, and that piece of rubber is not good for more than one qual lap.
According to World Series Officials, some teams from the Euro3000 series are interested in competing in the "World Series by Renault" in 2005. The DRACO and TRAINI CORSE teams are especially keen on a switch to the World Series league. Guenter Reinhold, reporting from Europe
Hoosier back in NASCAR?Hoosier Tire might return to one of NASCAR's top three series [Cup/Busch/Truck]. That was the buzz in the garage after Hoosier successfully outbid Goodyear, by a rumored $1.1 million, to supply tires to the Grand American Series, which NASCAR vice chairman Bill France Jr. has an interest in. One garage source said: "Hoosier may be OK for the ARCA series, but they're far from being ready to make a commitment to Cup." If Hoosier did return to one of NASCAR's top three series, the company would have to supply tires for the entire garage. Yahoo Sports/Sporting News
McMurray unhappy?While some close to Jamie McMurray insist that he is unhappy enough to want to leave Ganassi - or sit out the 2005 Cup season - others say he will bite the bullet and remain another year. However, some close to McMurray say he may battle the legal enforceability of the Ganassi contract. If McMurray were to sit out the 2005 Cup season, that might well be a first. McMurray is signing a deal to drive Busch #66 cars for Rusty Wallace next season, and it is unclear if Ganassi's contract covers McMurray's Cup efforts or Busch options, too. Winston Salem Journal
South African Grand Prix bidThis Grandprix.com article says, a South African consortium is bidding for a Grand Prix in 2007. David Gant of Parallel Media South Africa, a member of the consortium, says that a site near Cape Town's international airport has been picked out as the site of a new facility and that preliminary talks have been held with a number of private sector companies. The promoters of the idea say that they want to see government backing for the event. Gant says that the consortium met with Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour in March (he has since changed jobs) to discuss government participation in the bid. The group says it is now in negotiation with the Minister of Trade and Industry. The group is backing up the project saying that they have calculated that the direct economic impact of a Grand Prix in the area would be in the region of $160m per year.
Yet another rules change?NASCAR officials are considering a new rule in its top three series next season – Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Trucks – that would limit the number of different gear ratios teams could use each weekend, spokesman Mike Zizzo confirmed Sunday. A formal announcement could come within the next few weeks. Under the new rule, teams would likely be able to choose from only two different gears at each track, sources said. The move would force many engine and transmission providers to re-tool their products. NASCAR officials hope the move would prove a cost-saver in the long run. As is usually the case, reaction was mixed among Nextel Cup participants. For more see ThatsRacin.com
Star Mazda Series next for AndrettiLook for rising American star Marco Andretti to race in the Star Mazda Series in 2005. Hot off the heels of yet another ladder series championship (clinched the Skip Barber National Championship Sunday at Road America) AutoRacing1.com interviewed both Marco and his father Michael Andretti Sunday at Road America. To learn what both Michael and Marco had to say about Marco's future, Champ Car and the IRL, check back with AutoRacing1.com.
Danica Patrick to the IRLUPDATE It should be noted that Danica Patrick was going to test a Champ Car in March but Champ Car nixed the idea after the team had booked their hotel rooms, airline tickets to test at Sebring and had the engines left over from 2003. Now they don't have engines and so she has no choice but to test an IRL car. It's interesting to note that the test was nixed right after Team Rahal announced they were going to the IRL exclusively. Perhaps to spite Bobby Rahal, Champ Car may have closed the door on any opportunity they would have had to bring Danica Patrick up to Champ Car. However, with that said, until she can beat the likes of Jon Fogarty and Ryan Dalziel, who certainly deserve a shot at Champ Car, another year in a development series like Atlantics or the IRL may help her because moving up to Champ Car is a major step. 08/06/04 Speculation yes, but Danica Patrick will be testing an IRL car later this year, not a Champ Car, and you can bet the IRL would love to find a replacement for Sarah Fisher, who is without sponsorship and, therefore, out of a ride. The team tells us she will race next year where her sponsor, Argent, wants her, and given their big involvement in the IRL now.........we're willing to bet she'll be an oval tracker in 2005.
Chinese investors eye motorsports involvementAs interest in automobiles increases in China, and auto racing begins to get some media coverage over there, our spies in Europe heard that a Chinese group of investors are considering putting deposits on either two or four new Formula GP2 cars, sponsoring a racing series, or sponsoring a multi-car non-F1 formula team. It seems as if the group consists of large Chinese companies that are very interested in motorsports for marketing and were approached by F1 teams during this last year but could not justify the multi-million dollar sponsorship price tags when "F1" does not yet have the same affect on a Chinese buyer as it does on, say, a European buyer, at least not yet today. A consultant representing the investors told our source in Europe that although Chinese buyers of "automotive products" are increasingly affected by motorsports in advertising, this represents a small fraction of the total consumer market. Most Chinese do not watch F1 races on TV, will not attend the Shanghai race, and know little or nothing about F1. This group is confident that sponsorship in a non-F1 international series affords greater marketing opportunities in China (at a fraction of the cost of F1) because of larger signage, less clutter with other sponsors, and better opportunities to cultivate a Chinese driver. Most of all, the common Chinese consumer will not be able to distinguish this car from an F1 car when used in advertising in China. [Editor's Note: Champ Car must not be active in China if there are consumer companies there trying to find an international series to sponsor and they aren’t in contact with Champ Car (these paricular companies were not). With that said, we do hear that Champ Car is up to something in China, not for a 2005 race of course. In fact, we don't think the Chinese will be keyed into racing in a big way until after F1 gets at least one race under the belt. If Champ Car is going to go to China eventually as we hear, they had better get a Chinese driver from Formula BMW Asia over to their series now.]
St. Pete race has 50/50 chanceThis St. Petersburg Times article says, Indy Racing League president Tony George said Friday that if his open-wheel series is to race on the streets of St. Petersburg next spring, some form of agreement between an as-yet-unnamed promoter and the city likely will need to start forming within "the next two or three days." "We'll know very soon if this is better or worse than a 50-50 chance of happening," said George, who was lingering behind the scenes of a Brickyard 400 fan event. "This is what I give it right now, a 50-50 chance. My hope is it can go through and it will happen. We'd like for it to happen." George said he believed talks were held Friday, and the city and promoter were conducting due-diligence on each other. He said it was "not his place" to divulge the names of the potential promoters, but said to his knowledge they had not promoted a race before. "I think all the parties are all familiar with each other in the context of other business," he said. "I think the promoter is a group of people who are trying to evaluate the opportunity and maybe put their consortium together." The recently released IRL schedule has no races from March 21-April 17, but a St. Petersburg date would likely have to occur before spring training at Progress Energy Park. [Editor's Note: We doubt either series will be back to St. Pete.]
Why was Bourdais so fast on Friday morning?Sebastien Bourdais was almost a full two seconds faster than everyone in Friday morning practice at Road America, yet in qualifying he was nowhere near the top. Word in the paddock is that the Friday AM time was helped by something going wrong with the electronics giving Bourdais a healthy dose of extra turbo boost, hence extra HP.
Good things come to those who waitUPDATE We are hearing that a big announcement is planned for Denver next weekend of one, and possibly two Fortune 500 Company sponsors. Stay tuned...... 08/07/04
Sources tell us that Champ Car is close to announcing one, and possibly two Fortune 500 companies to sponsor the series, both of whom are consumer-focused. And the news just gets better. Look for Champ Car to be back on network TV in 2005 and we are also hearing very good things on the engine front. The mood in the paddock is turning marketed more positive, especially considering they are only in year 0.5 of a 3 year plan.
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