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DATE News (chronologically)
09/03/05
f1

Raikkonen signs with Ferrari UPDATE #4 Kimi Raikkonen didn't bother trying too hard to deny his growing link with the 2007 Ferrari team. Currently at pacesetting McLaren, the 25-year-old Finn only rejected talk that he has already signed a red contract.

He told the German 'Handelsblatt' newspaper: ''I only want to sit in the fastest car.''  In the Monza paddock, flocks of press harried the blonde haired 'iceman' on Friday. He told them he hasn't decided where his future lies. 

''There are always things said,'' Raikkonen added, ''rumors. I'll be with McLaren as long as I have a strong contract.  At the moment I'm happy here. It's normal F1, who's going where, but I've got one contract, with McLaren, and one year to see what happens.''

However, Bernie Ecclestone is ready to bet on Kimi Raikkonen moving from McLaren to Ferrari for 2007.  "[Michael] Schumacher will end his career at Ferrari. I think he will stop at the end of 2006," the 74-year-old Briton told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper on Saturday. "And I am ready to bet that, in 2007, Raikkonen will be in a Ferrari.  I would like it if he were together with Valentino Rossi, but I don't have any information about that," he said.

08/26/05 Denials, denials, everywhere -- but not a certain word spoken.  Reliable and well connected sources all over formula one insist that Kimi Raikkonen's 2007 switch to Ferrari is more than unfounded speculation -- and the Michael Schumacher-to-McLaren add-on is perhaps a Willi Weber ploy to mask the German's impending retirement.

The newspaper in the middle, Germany's 'Bild' tabloid, stopped beating around the bush and asked the seven time world champion, at the Monza test, exactly what the score was.  ''I don't know if I will stay (in formula one) after 2006,'' said 36-year-old Schumacher.

What about the McLaren-Mercedes link? ''That is the same speculation as the Raikkonen to Ferrari story,'' he answered. No denial, then?  ''I wouldn't have a problem driving with Kimi at Ferrari in 2007. Even if things don't go perfectly at the moment, I feel great in the team and I do not want to stop.  I think there are some good years still left in me.''

08/25/05 Raikkonen has moved quickly to deny the reports of his imminent departure. "As I have said on a number of occasions this season already when asked about the rumors, I'm completely happy with my team," he said in a statement.

"I don't think there is any doubt that we have the fastest package on winning races, I'm still challenging for the world championship, the team is fantastic and I have a great relationship with everybody here so why would I want to consider changing?

"Surely I am in a position that most drivers in Formula One want to be in."

McLaren boss Ron Dennis added he anticipates a "long-term relationship" with both Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya.

08/25/05 Usually reliable sources are now telling us that Kimi Raikkonen will definitely be moving to Ferrari in 2007, which clearly upsets the applecart of the Formula 1 driver market, unless we are to believe that Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher will agree to be in the same team together. This being the case there would be no room for Felipe Massa. However, if there is no future for Massa at Ferrari in the long term, Jean Todt would have been unlikely to have signed up the Brazilian because a Todt Family company manages Felipe and it would have made no sense at all to have made such a move. The Todt company could have put in any driver for 2006, without needing to burn its major asset. Thus, if the sources are correct, Michael Schumacher will not be at Ferrari in 2007. This is unlikely to have happened without Michael knowing about it, because he and Jean Todt have always been close and it is unlikely that Todt would have pulled such a stunt. So, one must presume that Schumacher knows he is retiring and all the talk of moving elsewhere is a smokescreen to cover what Ferrari is really up to.

The validity of all these arguments rests on the source of a Raikkonen deal but we have found this source to be highly reliable over the years and sufficiently connected to know who is going where.

So the next question that leaps to mind, is who is going to be going to McLaren to replace Kimi in 2007?  Grandprix.com  [Editor's Note: Recall the other rumor that Schumacher may go to McLaren to end his career with a German manufacturer, which would indicate a possible Raikkonen/Schumacher swap.]

Read more & Comment...
09/03/05
f1

More teams to sign Concorde
Three more teams may be on the verge of signing Bernie Ecclestone's new Concorde agreement.

That's the claim of FIA president Max Mosley, who at Monza insisted that formula one - despite threats of a carmaker led breakaway - does have a future beyond late 2007.

At present, only Ferrari, Red Bull and Midland-owned Jordan have signed the new 2008 contract. ''Another three teams are on the verge of signing up to join them,'' the Englishman claimed in Italy, ''and I think it's only a matter of time before more follow soon.''

At his Monza press conference, Mosley also revealed some of the rules compromises that are likely as a result of the Milan meeting with teams and carmakers.

He said proposals for standard brakes and a regular gear shifter had been called off, and that 'active tire pressure' systems - to maintain safe tire pressures during a race - would be allowed.

Comment
09/03/05
f1

Telefonica and Renault
Telefonica will replace Mild Seven (Japan Tobacco) as Renault's title sponsor next year, according to Spanish reports.

It is claimed that the Spanish company has decided to pull the 'Movistar' brand out of MotoGP, thus freeing up around $15m of extra funds.

Telefonica returned to F1 with Renault, whose young Spanish driver Fernando Alonso will likely secure the drivers' world title, this year.

A European ban on tobacco advertising descended on July 31.

Meanwhile, the 'Symantec' name has joined the livery of the R25 at Monza, after the technology brand merged with existing sponsor Veritas Software.

Comment
09/03/05
f1

BMW and Alex Wurz
Alex Wurz has emerged as a possible candidate to drive for BMW's new works team in 2006.

The 31-year-old Austrian, who since 2001 has led McLaren's testing charge, admitted to the 'APA' agency that a return to the grand prix grid 'is possible.

''You know you are still alive in formula one,'' Wurz smiled, ''when you see your name again in the newspaper!  It is possible that I will race next season but it is difficult.''

According to the Austrian press agency, BMW's executive committee in Munich are keen to put at least one German-speaker at the wheel next year.  Although Nick Heidfeld is the top choice, his future is very much in the hands of Frank Williams, who can activate an option on his contract.

And whether 28-year-old Heidfeld needs to stay at Grove, it is clear, depends on the outcome of 'Buttongate II'.  ''Frank Williams holds the key,'' Alex agreed.

Comment
09/02/05
cc

Valiante to return UPDATE Still hearing this could happen, including a run in this year's South Korea race, though we still do not know what team, if any, can run an extra car should the money materialize.  Besides the electronics giant, another South Korean company is also interested.  Mark C. 08/04/05 We are hearing that Michael Valiante may be close to landing sponsorship from a huge South Korean electronics giant. We are not sure if this deal, were it to happen, is for just the South Korea race or if it would lead to a full-time ride. If it materializes it will underscore the effectiveness of Champ Car's new business plan - introduce the series to large overseas companies who want to market their product in the NAFTA market and other countries.

This company, which we don't want to reveal until the deal is done, sells a lot of product in North America and China for example (probably Australia too).and Champ Car, like F1, delivers a world presence. Although F1 has a larger TV audience right now, Champ Car is based in the USA and has a lot of races there, whereas F1 is based in Europe. The USA is a much bigger economy than Europe, and hence sponsors will ultimately get more bang from Champ Car and abandon F1 as Champ Car begins to build in popularity and F1 continues to price itself out of the market.

Comment
09/02/05
f1

Rosberg to Minardi
The word on the street in F1 circles is that one of the drivers negotiating for an F1 drive for next year is GP2 driver (and Williams test driver) Nico Rosberg. It is believed that Williams would like to see the youngster getting racing experience in F1 with an eye to the future and Minardi is a possible target.  Grandprix.com

Comment
09/02/05
f1
MotoGP

Rossi and Renault
Renault principal Flavio Briatore has apparently offered Valentino Rossi a F1 test contract for 2007. ''He must do the preparation properly,'' Briatore said, urging the 26-year-old MotoGP champion not to make the four wheeled jump - perhaps with Ferrari - before he is fully ready.  Flavio was reportedly quoted by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera: ''A formula one with Rossi would be superb.''

Comment
09/02/05
f1

Liuzzi to sit out Spa, too?
Christian Klien is likely to be given yet another grand prix - at Spa - in Red Bull's race seat before rival Vitantonio Liuzzi sees out the year.

22-year-old Klien, who has spent most of season '05 in the blue car, was recently confirmed alongside David Coulthard for Turkey and Monza.

But team boss Christian Horner hinted at the Italian circuit that, with the Belgian grand prix just a week away, one more is probable.

''This week we will make a decision,'' he told reporters.

''It would make sense, if Christian has a good weekend, that he continues in Spa, but it is almost certain that Tonio will drive again (in 2005).''

Even after the season finale, Klien and Italy's Liuzzi - who live together - will continue to argue about who is the best bet.  With Scott Speed to steer the 'Friday' car in 2006, either could be shunted out of Red Bull altogether.

Comment
09/01/05
gp2
f1
cc

Scott Speed to announce F1 plans at Monza UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today - see Hot News page for announcement. Either Christian Klien or Tonio Liuzzi are out of a job, will they look to Champ Car or step down to GP2 next year?

08/24/05 Scott Speed is all set to become America's first full time F1 fixture since Michael Andretti raced for McLaren twelve years ago. He will almost certainly be the 2006 Red Bull 'Friday' driver.

Although he wouldn't confirm the speculation, Speed did reveal that his management will put out a press release relating to 'formula one stuff' at the Italian grand prix.

''You'll find out then,'' he added. Speed's Red Bull link, it is reported, was nearly damaged beyond repair when his manager tried to explore other options - perhaps at Williams - for 2006 and beyond. The Californian is currently a regular in the GP2 category.

08/23/05 It is thought that Scott Speed will at least land a F1 test drive for next year, if not a race seat. He hinted something might be up in an interview on the GP2 website.
GP2 Series: Are you surprised to be the only one of the top guys not to take a win so far?
Scott: In Barcelona I didn’t get a win because the clutch slipped off the line – we should easily have won that race. Obviously I had a great chance in, well, a few of them, and they’ve slipped away for a few reasons.

GP2 Series: How frustrating is that to you?
Scott: It is frustrating, but I’m not so concerned.

GP2 Series: One other thing – there are rumors that you won’t be working with Red Bull next year. Is there any truth to that?
Scott: As far as my Formula One stuff goes, we’ll be making an official press release in Monza, so you’ll find out then.

Comment
09/01/05
nascar

Bliss back in No. 0 in '06
Q: Looking long-term, have you and team owner Gene Haas begun discussing what your future plans are with Haas CNC Racing?
Bliss: I talked with Joe Custer, our general manager [Tuesday] morning about where we're at now, and how do we get better because we're 26th or 27th in points. But it looks good for next year, and I was pretty pleased because I want to stay here. I see us becoming a really good team and I didn't want to go anywhere else. I think Joe feels that way, and the way I walked out of there it was pretty much a handshake and go on with next year. NASCAR.com

Comment
09/01/05
f1

Chinese GP finds loophole in tobacco regs
China's Honghe tobacco company has signed a deal to sponsor the Chinese Grand Prix, despite the Chinese government ratifying the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which prohibits tobacco advertising, promotion and event sponsorships in China. The country also has national laws banning tobacco advertising.  The government will not be blocking the deal because Honghe argues that it is using its corporate name rather than the cigarette brand. The two are the same.  Grandprix.com [Editor's Note: This would never be allowed in the USA and Europe.]

Comment
09/01/05
MotoGP
f1

Rossi signs with Ferrari UPDATE Valentino Rossi will be Ferrari's test or race driver in 2007, another Italian newspaper has reported with confidence. 'Corriere della Sera' also quoted Ferrari boss Jean Todt, who didn't deny the rising speculation surrounding the 26-year-old MotoGP champion and sensation.

''I can say that the Ferrari technicians at the (Fiorano) tests were impressed (with Rossi's driving),'' the Frenchman said.  ''He obviously has real natural talent.''

Todt is undoubtedly concerned, though, by all the Rossi-to-switch media attention the rider is attracting.  ''I don't think he should be put under so much pressure,'' the Maranello based boss added.

The Napoleon-like chief also hit out at widespread media criticism of 2005-spec Ferrari, who - although 1999 to 2004 constructors' champions - have failed to win a single race (Indy aside) this year.  ''I don't think our past achievements should be forgotten so hastily,'' Todt insisted.

08/30/05 The Valentino Rossi-to-Ferrari story is more than mere speculation, if you believe the claims of an Italian newspaper. La Repubblica said on Monday that the MotoGP champion was all set to switch to four wheels and race onto the grand prix grid alongside Kimi Raikkonen in the 2007 season.

The newspaper did not give a source but cited a staggering $33 million per year for the flamboyant 26 year old rider, who is already the highest paid sportsman in all of Italy.

He would race a Ferrari for an initial three year period, La Repubblica added. The deal would put into context Felipe Massa's unusual (for Ferrari) one year contract for 2006, speculation linking Michael Schumacher with a Ferrari split, and Rossi's alleged reluctance to ride with Ferrari cigarette sponsor Marlboro's rival - Gauloises - in the MotoGP series. La Repubblica said Marlboro owner Altria had even asked Rossi to sever all ties with Gauloises - owned by Altadis - for the start of next season.

Ferrari boss Jean Todt, meanwhile - an open admirer of Raikkonen - leapt on gossip that a deal with the McLaren driver had also been struck. ''Just because a young driver has a lot of talent,'' the Frenchman said, ''you cannot say he has signed with Ferrari.''

This article in Grandprix.com adds to the Ferrari and Raikkonen part of the rumor - It is worth noting that while there is much talk of premature rumors of Kimi Raikkonen signing at Ferrari, it is exactly the right moment for Ferrari to make a move. In July 1998 Michael Schumacher signed to drive for Ferrari between 2000-2002 and the extension that he signed for the 2003-2004 seasons was agreed in May 2001. Or to put it another way, the team likes to have its deals squared away well in advance and, based on its previous decisions, the suggestion that Raikkonen agreed a deal in May may not seem as silly as it may have sounded a week ago.

Comment
08/31/05
nascar

Fernandez to NASCAR? UPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact.'  See Hot News Story on Fernandez. 08/29/05 Televisa, the biggest broadcasting company in Mexico, is trying to get a Mexican driver to compete in the NASCAR Busch series. When it was announced that Michel Jourdain would compete in the Busch series, Televisa bought the TV rights for the Busch series for Mexico. Now that Michel is out of his ride Televisa has had troubles selling TV ad time for the races, so the rumor is that Televisa is trying to hook Mexican drivers with sponsors. The strongest rumor is that Televisa is trying to get Adrian Fernandez in the Busch series. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico

Comment
08/31/05
nascar

Missing big names won’t hurt NASCAR
When NASCAR dreamed up its innovative Nextel Cup playoff format last season, it seemed unlikely that both Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. would be outside the 10 drivers eligible to make a run for the title.

In the past decade, Gordon was the circuit's No. 1 driver for four seasons and never finished worse than ninth in the final standings. Earnhardt had 52 top-10 finishes from 2001 through 2003, and was clearly one of the most skilled, and definitely most popular, young drivers on the track.

But with two races to go before the final cut is made, NASCAR officials and sponsors might hold a playoff chase without two of the sport's biggest names. Little E is 14th despite two top-10 finishes in the last two weeks. Gordon sits in the No. 10 spot after a sixth-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday.

But does NASCAR suffer when two of its most popular drivers have a difficult time making it into Victory Lane? Not on the surface. It's hard to find anyone hurting -- from NASCAR to the tracks to even the drivers themselves.

The facilities are packed on race day. Television ratings for network and cable combined have averaged 9.3 million viewers per race -- up 8 percent from last year. In fact, the GFS Marketplace 400 two weeks ago was the second-highest-rated Nextel Cup Series event in TNT broadcast history. More at ESPN.com

Comment
08/31/05
cc

Fisichella and Webber to swap seats? UPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  Giancarlo Fisichella and his manager Enrico Zanarini have denied recent reports that there are plans to swap rides with Mark Webber at Williams.

“I’ve no idea where it came from,” said Zanarini. “For sure you’ve got to have two drivers agreeing and wanting to swap. I don’t know if Webber wants to swap or not, but we certainly don’t.

“It’s a very strong rumor, but we’ve never discussed it with anybody, we’ve never discussed it between ourselves, we’ve never discussed it with management, and the management has never discussed it with us. It’s never even put in the picture. There’s no swap.”

08/10/05 If you're a dedicated follower of the formula one rumor-mill, then here's a whopper -- Renault boss Flavio Briatore is evidently arranging a 2006 'seat swap' for Mark Webber and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Given the latter's failure to consistently shine in the front running R25, the Italian principal is reportedly keen to give Webber - a driver he manages - a shot in a blue car next year.

The Australian driver, contracted to Williams, is known to be frustrated at the team's loss of works BMW support and a lack of performance from the FW27 car.

28-year-old Webber, though, has no doubt driven away from such Paddock innuendo. In the three week August break, he's on holiday. ''I think the whole paddock was looking forward to a breather,'' said Mark. He said he would travel, for example, to Edgbaston to watch his countrymen take on the England team in a cricket match.

08/08/05 Flavio Briatore is reportedly negotiating a straight trade between Renault and Williams, where Giancarlo Fisichella and Mark Webber would switch seats for the 2006 season.  Besides being Renault's team principal, Briatore is also Webber's manager. The decision-makers at Williams - read Sir Frank and Patrick Head - have for a while already let it be known in the F1 paddock that they have been mostly disappointed by the Australian's performances this season.  SPEEDTV.com

Comment
08/31/05
irl

Dixon to stay with Ganassi
At Infineon Raceway this past weekend, Scott Dixon said he will return to the Target Chip Ganassi team "as far as I know,"  despite many crashes this year that saw one driver fired already.  "I was sad to see Darren Manning go, but it wasn't our choice, so we have to deal with it," Dixon said. "Chip Ganassi is still the main man, so if you have any grudges you have to deal with him. He is emotional like the rest of us and wants to see us do very well. All the accidents this year have been caused by other cars, it's not like we've gone out there and tried to throw the thing into the wall or anything."

Comment
08/31/05
NASCAR

Roush: "I won't interfere"
Jack Roush, the consummate professional that he is, says he does not want to steal drivers from other teams ahead of their contract termination like some team owners do. "I don’t want Jamie McMurray to drive for me in 2006, and I don’t want Chip Ganassi to release him from his contract," adding, "I want him to do for Chip Ganassi what he has agreed to do. I don’t want to interfere with that."

Comment
08/30/05
f1

Schu seeking $6 million raise UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.

Michael Schumacher’s manager Willi Weber says that the seven-times world champion will make a decision about his future in Formula 1 in March next year. Schumacher’s existing contract with Ferrari runs out at the end of 2006, and the German has not yet made up his mind whether to retire at that point or prolong his driving career for another couple of years.

“Michael will decide at the beginning of the 2006 season, in March, if he wants to continue his F1 career in 2007 as well,” Weber was quoted as saying by Autosport-Atlas. “I hope that he continues for two more seasons.”

Rumors that Schumacher might trade places with McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen in 2007 have been dismissed by all concerned. "If he continues [beyond 2006], the negotiations will only be with Ferrari,” Weber said.

The German businessman also refuted suggestions that Schumacher is holding out for a salary increase from Ferrari. “This is absolutely nonsense,” he said. “We are willing to continue with the existing terms of Michael’s current contract,” estimated to be $30 million per year plus what he gets for endorsements.

08/24/05 Denials and dismissals aside, speculation linking Michael Schumacher with a switch to McLaren is continuing to bubble in the German tabloid press.

'Bild' - the newspaper that lifted the lid on the Ferrari driver's meetings with Mercedes' Norbert Haug - now says 36-year-old Schumacher has a 'standing' offer on the table to stay at Maranello based Ferrari beyond 2007 on the same terms as his current deal.

''But we will not sign it for the moment,'' manager Willi Weber said.  ''We're in no hurry.''

Certainly, the German duo are in no hurry given the newspaper's next revelation -- that Weber is seeking a $6.1 million per-year pay rise for Schumacher, taking his annual Ferrari salary (minus endorsements) to a huge $48.8m.

The McLaren 'negotiations', then, might merely be a Weber-ploy to convince Ferrari that another team is indeed willing to stump up with that sort of whopping cash.

Certainly, former driver and ex-BMW director Gerhard Berger doubts that Schumacher is actually considering a switch.

The Austrian said driving for a rival carmaker would be a 'contradiction' for Michael after so many years with Ferrari.

Moreover, Berger continues, Mercedes-Benz would probably even be loathe to see the red helmet bobbling about in a silver car.  ''He is too associated (with Ferrari), from an image perspective,'' Gerhard - who drove for both Ferrari and McLaren - remarked.

Comment
08/30/05
nascar

Jourdain eyes new Busch program UPDATE #2 See Jourdain story on Hot News page for his part-time schedule the rest of this year in Busch. 08/24/05 During today's media event at Homestead, Edsel Ford got up and said that Jourdain will be running in the Busch Race at Homestead in November, so that portion of this rumor is now 'fact.' 08/24/05 Rumor has it that Michel Jourdain Jr. will be running the final Busch Series race at Homestead in November and is close to announcing a full-time Busch Series program for 2006.

Comment
08/30/05
nascar

ISC and Speedway Motorsports to buy Action UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  See announcement on Hot News page.  08/24/05 In an unusual pairing, the France family's International Speedway Corp. and Bruton Smith's Speedway Motorsports are teaming to buy Action Performance, which sells racing souvenirs, for a reported $13 a share, according to sources close to the negotiations. Action Performance and the Jack Roush-owned Team Caliber are the top two souvenir companies in the NASCAR world, and Daytona executives have been interested in acquiring souvenir rights to all NASCAR stars in order to package them as part of a stock-car racing "mall" at each of the Nextel Cup tour's top tracks. Winston Salem Journal

Comment
08/30/05
f1

Davidson pins hopes on Midland
Anthony Davidson has targeted a possible ride at Midland next season.   The BAR-Honda test driver is looking for a race drive and is free to leave at the end of this month when his contract expires.

He has already held talks with Midland bosses over a race seat for next year and despite their current difficulties, Davidson is prepared to give owner Alex Shnaider a chance to prove he is serious about success in Formula One.

He said: "It's not really my job to talk about what their plans are for the team or what they're going to do money-wise or sponsorship-wise.  If they are approaching me for a drive next season then it's good enough for me. They trust that I know what I'm doing and I trust them.  They are obviously in it for a reason and I think next year will probably be the full attack that they planned for. This year was a bit stop-gap season.

"They know I'm going to be free. We did our rounds in the pit lane and they were one of the teams we went to. Because [ex-Formula Three bosses] Adrian Burgess and Trevor Carlin were there it made it easier to just go and have a chat and find out what their plans are for next year.  As things have gone on, more and more the team has started thinking about driver line-up next year and they basically know I'm around now - I'm available for sure."

Comment
08/30/05
f1

Teams to own F1 in $1.5bn bid
F1's 950hp engines may roar at Monza this weekend, but - arguably - the real action will rev up in faraway boardrooms.  Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper has revealed a $1.5bn bid for 75 per cent of the formula one business, that would ultimately see the teams owning the pinnacle of racing.

Robin Saunders is tipped to have involved Bernie Ecclestone in her plan to snap up three banks' majority share of F1.  It would involve the teams, mostly backed by carmakers, repaying the debt.

Ecclestone, 74, is thought keen on the plan, that would keep him at the helm, with his 25 per cent share intact, and - as is his desire - with the teams, not banks, owning F1.

Saunders, a controversial former bank executive, met Bernie when she intervened in the 'euro bond' issue in 1999.

Meanwhile, a BSkyB spokesman insisted that the Rupert Murdoch-owned TV company has 'no current plans' to launch a rival bid for F1.  On the other hand, a former CFO for NTL - John Gregg - was named as possibly involved in another.

And, in the Financial Times, someone 'close to Saunders' denied that her company was looking into the formula one buyout.

Comment
08/29/05
cc
nascar

Future of Montreal in doubt UPDATE #6 This Globe and Mail article says, The future of the Montreal Molson Indy is in doubt after fewer than 40,000 people showed up yesterday for the fourth Champ Car race at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. Attendance was low because most of the grandstands were missing. Estimates on Friday put the number of grandstand seats at about 25,000, but the number was revised over the weekend to fewer than 10,000.

Rumors of a rift between race promoter Normand Legault and Champ Car began Friday when fans, media and drivers arrived to find so few grandstand seats. During the weekend, a number of teams quietly complained that the organizers didn't make them feel welcome in Montreal.

"It is a real shame," said Sébastien Bourdais, a driver for the Newman/Haas team and the leader in the drivers' standing. "I think it will be hard for the fans to see the race. There's not a lot of co-operation from the promoter."

Three-day attendance at the Montreal Molson Indy:
2002: 172,064
2003: 148,058
2004: 133,726
2005: 93,755

08/28/05 We are downgrading this rumor to 'false.' AutoRacing1.com spotted the NASCAR folks chatting with Champ Car President Dick Eidswick in the Champ Car Business Unit today in Montreal, so we quizzed him about what is really going on here in Montreal given there are rumors out in Sonoma that the IRL is eyeing Montreal. "The IRL isn't coming here unless the F1 race is going away" (which it isn't), said Eidswick. "I heard all those rumors before I came here this weekend but now I am confident of our long-term future here. We have a solid contract to race here next year and I am very confident we will extend it for many years after that."

AutoRacing1.com reported back in Edmonton that Molson, the sponsor of two Champ Car races in Canada, was behind trying to bring the Busch Series to Canada, with Calgary being one possibility. The Toronto Sun reports that Molson is behind trying to get NASCAR in Montreal and given Champ Car was meeting with NASCAR today what appears to be coming together is a Champ Car/NASCAR Busch Series doubleheader, we would assume starting in 2007, perhaps even next year. Speculation on our part, but that appears to be what is in play from where we sit. Mark C.

08/27/05 Seen in Montreal - Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR director of administration and four others.  What are they doing here if Legault isn't bringing NASCAR to Montreal?  Perhaps they love watching Champ Car so much they decided to come to Montreal rather than be in Bristol this weekend where NASCAR Busch and Cup are racing. 08/27/05 Rumors of a NASCAR race in Montreal in 2007 also began to swirl after many noticed the lack of grandstands for the race and began to speculate that the promoters were preparing to abandon the event. The contract for the Champ Car event in Montreal expires after next year's race.

There is only one grandstand left on the start-finish line while others have also disappeared around the course. Estimates peg the seating capacity at about 25,000.

But event spokesman Normand Prieur insisted the smaller grandstands are part of the plan to pass savings in promoter costs to fans and bring people to the racetrack. "We built the grandstands that we felt were necessary and we will fill them for the race [tomorrow]," Prieur said. "It was a good move because we are already ahead of last year." Globe and Mail [Editor's Note: Coming into the circuit this morning at 7:30 AM we observed hordes of fans coming into the track. There will be a lot of people here on Sunday, they just won't be sitting in grandstands.]

The number of grandstands have been cut down at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve for this year's Montreal Molson Indy, making the site seem quieter and emptier.  Organizers do not provide attendance figures until the end of the three-day event and it was difficult to tell if fewer fans than in the past attended the opening day of qualifying on Friday.

But the lone set of bleachers erected in front the team garages, only half-full for qualifying, made it appear they weren't expecting many.

It has fuelled speculation that organizers, whose contract for the race expires after the 2006 race, are looking to dump Champ Cars to try to get a NASCAR event.

Driver Alex Tagliani of Lachenaie, Que., doesn't think so.  "This year, they tried to reduce the cost," he said. "And there's so many places (to watch from), the spectators know they can get a general admission ticket and watch from the hairpin.  They're expecting around 150,000 people and they can do it in different ways. There's place to sit on the grass. They're trying to get the same amount of people in different ways."

Huge grandstands are set up each year for the Canadian Grand Prix Formula One race, which draws more than 300,000 spectators over three days. Canadian Press

08/26/05 It turns out the missing grandstands are on Ile St-Hélène (Notre-Dame's sister Island) for the World aquatics held in Montreal 2 weeks ago.. Weird thing, Legault was also the promoter.. He moved them there after the Canadian Grand-Prix for the event and you clearly see them exiting the metro on the Island and he didn't bother bringing 'em back. 08/26/05 We spoke to Chris Kneifel of Champ Car about the reduced grandstands and he agreed that the number is definitely down but what he was told by the promoter was they have set up a lot of family areas all around the track and even a concert stage. The goal is to attract a lot of families with lower priced General Admission tickets and lots of entertainment. Of course the promoter saves money by erecting less grandstands. There appears to be a fairly sizeable crowd here today (Friday). Some also doubt whether NASCAR can race on this track due to space limitations. 08/26/05 Walking into Montreal this morning and seeing the tiny grandstand across from the pit lane and the single grandstand in the Senna Curves where once there was three, and less grandstands in the hairpin, it is clear the future of this Champ Car event has to be in doubt. We predict it is a lack of promotion by the promoter to kill the event and make room for NASCAR.

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08/29/05
f1

Button's ex hooks up with Willis
Jenson Button's ex-fiancé is on the road to getting over her lost love.  The 27-year-old English girl and budding pop star, who was dumped by BAR-driving Button three months before their wedding, has reportedly hooked up with Hollywood action movie hero Bruce Willis.  Willis, star of Die Hard, The Sixth Sense and Pulp Fiction - and a father of three - met Griffiths in St Tropez this month, UK tabloid Sunday Mail said.

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08/29/05
nascar

NBC and TNT balking at NASCAR renewal
NBC Universal Sports and Turner Broadcasting have told NASCAR they won't pay the kind of double-digit television rights fee increases the sanctioning body wants, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal reports. In a story attributed to multiple industry sources, the publication also says the two have also rebuffed NASCAR's request to move up the negotiating timetable. The story says the sides held only sporadic meetings this summer that made little progress in lining up a new contract to replace the one that expires after the 2006 season. NBC and Turner currently share NASCAR rights for the second half of each season, and the story says Turner will likely try to strike its own deal if NBC decides not to renew. Writer Andy Bernstein reports that NASCAR officials believe they can get the sort of 27% fee increases that the NFL got for its broadcast packages with Fox and CBS, noting that ABC and ESPN have expressed interest in carrying NASCAR races. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter

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08/29/05
irl
cc

IRL eyes street race in Canada UPDATE #5 From AutoRacing1.com sources within the FIA comes word that there is definitely a group working on bringing an IRL event to Quebec City. From what we've been told, they already have the money and the guarantees, Marcel Aubut (formerly of the Quebec Nordiques, in the NHL) is involved, and they only need to wait until the mayoral elections in early November to see if they are a go or not. They want to make sure they still have support from the new mayor, whoever that turns out to be. We don't know about the date or where it would be, but the site of ExpoQuebec seems to be one possible place.

07/31/05 Speculation that the IRL might be on the verge of finalizing a street race in Quebec City was news to the hometown driver. Patrick Carpentier said Saturday he hadn’t heard anything new about the talks surrounding a possible street race in Quebec City during the July Fourth weekend next year. He said he had talked recently with IRL president Brian Barnhart and team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. about the event, but didn’t learn anything new.

“I told them about the racetrack they’re building around the horse track at Woodbine in Toronto,“ said Carpentier, who lives in Ville Lasalle, Quebec. “We’ll see. I don’t know any more than you.” SPEEDTV.com

07/04/05 As a token Canuck reader, I have to ask: Why Quebec City? Is there anything else you know about this? It makes no sense, other than the fact Quebec City is trying to steal some of the motor racing spotlight from Montreal (big rivalry between the cities). There's no major corporation based out of Quebec City, and you're correct in that there's no easy spot to host a race in the tourist section of Old Quebec (maybe they're going outside of this). But it just seems like PR-speak to me. Trois-Rivières (an hour or so outside of Quebec City towards Montreal) lost its Atlantic race due to the tobacco laws, so unless some Canadian corporation with a major Quebec influence is planning on picking up a large part of the tab, it really seems weird to me. If Penske's major reason of joining the IRL is 'Marlboro sponsors us for US advertising, and Ferrari for International advertising, so the IRL makes the most sense', then he can't be too happy about going to a foreign city in a market not even a third of the size of Montreal or Toronto. Honestly, if the IRL was going anywhere up here, Calgary seems much more likely. But I will say this: the province of Quebec covets its open wheel racing much more so than the English provinces do. RDS (the French TSN) has much better coverage of F1/Champ Car/IRL than TSN does. Andy Backa, Kanata, Canada Dear Andy, There is always the Exhibition Center site (right), as well as the old le Grand-Prix Labatt de Québec, which hosted the Formula Atlantic cars from 77 to 79, though that is a bit Mickey Mouse. If they do race in Canada I expect the IRL to snap up Michael Valiante to go with Patrick Carpentier. When Paul Tracy retires Champ Car will be just left with one Canadian, Alex Tagliani, as we expect Andrew Ranger to be in F1 by then. Mark C.

Read more & Comment...
08/29/05
irl

IRL 2006 schedule delay
The waiting continues on the IRL’s 2006 schedule, which is setting a record for delay.  League president Brian Barnhart said most of the dates are set, but a few hinge on what happens with options for the first race in Canada. An 18-turn, 3.0-mile street-course race in Quebec City has been proposed, and if officials can sort out the details it will be a fall race. AutoWeek

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08/29/05
nascar

France not going to NFL
Brian France denies rumors he is relinquishing his job as NASCAR chief executive officer to start an NFL franchise in Los Angeles. "I'm having a great time, and I have the support of our board and family, and we're having a great year," France said Saturday at Bristol. "We have the car of tomorrow coming up. I want to expand us internationally over the next five or 10 years, and I still want to stay on course with our diversity efforts." France added he's committed to push NASCAR's "big agenda" and won't rest until he makes "NASCAR the most exciting racing in the world." Sporting News/Lee Spencer

Comment
08/29/05
f1

New $1.5 billion bid to buy F1 UPDATE Up to six separate groups are believed to be vying to buy Formula One. One of them, it is reported by The Business newspaper, has approached Rupert Murdoch's satellite TV company BSkyB, whose executive - James Murdoch - told the US and British consortium that he was open to talks.

Hong Kong conglomerate Tom Group is a separate bidding group, The Business added, and there may be up to five others.

In the Sunday Telegraph, Robin Saunders' private equity company was rumored to be one of the five. Elsewhere, a 'Russian billionaire' was named as another keen to snap up three banks' 75 per cent SLEC stake. It is believed that two of the banks would sell immediately but the third is reluctant, even going so far as to block potential buyers from doing due diligence tests.

08/27/05 This Telegraph newspaper article says, The former golden girl of the City, Robin Saunders, is set to return to the limelight with an ambitious $1.5bn (£832m) plan to buy Formula 1. Saunders, through her private equity firm Clearbrook Capital Partners, has held extensive negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone, the tycoon who has controlled F1 for more than two decades. Saunders aims to pull off a leveraged buyout of the sport, in a scheme that would see the sport's teams eventually owning the franchise.

The proposal would create a new company backed by Clearbrook and a consortium of financial institutions. It would buy the 75 per cent stake in SLEC, the ultimate holding company of F1, which is currently held by three banks, JP Morgan, BayernLB and Lehman Brothers. The deal would be funded through the raising of debt or the issuing of bonds. Each of F1's teams would be given a share in the purchasing company which would then pay off the debt over a number of years, using the profits generated from the sport. After the debt was paid off, the teams would end up owning F1 and its lucrative commercial rights.

More......

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08/29/05
alms

Cheever eyes ALMS
Rumor at Infineon was that Eddie Cheever could be taking his IRL team to ALMS to run a new Porsche in the LMP2 class with backing from Red Bull.

Comment
08/29/05
nascar
cc

Paul Tracy to Hall of Fame Racing UPDATE #3 AutoRacing1.com spoke to Paul Tracy this weekend in Montreal regarding the Roush Racing rumor. "I spoke to Dan Davis (Ford Motorsport boss) once awhile ago to see if there was any openings on the Ford side in NASCAR. He was very non-committal said he would get back to me, but he never did," claimed Tracy. Mark C. 08/27/05 "I know Gerry would like to know something, yes or no, as soon as possible," Tracy said. "But I'm not going to make any decision until after I've driven a (NASCAR) race.

"I figure, at my age, I still have three, four, maybe five years in (Champ Car) left in me, but it could be the right time to make a change and I want to take a good look at it. I've talked with some other teams over there (in NASCAR), but Richard Childress is the only one who has stepped up and made something happen at this point."

Tracy said he also has been contacted by the new Hall of Fame Racing team, co-owned by former Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach and Trans-Am driver Bill Saunders in conjunction with Joe Gibbs Racing.

"I've talked with Troy on the phone and we're going to set up a meeting at some point," Tracy said. ESPN.com

08/26/05 In addition to the rumor of Paul Tracy being nominated to the Hall of Fame Cup team, there's another rumor which may or may not be of substance. 

It sounds like it may be just bench-racing, but as the story goes, Dan Davis wants to keep Tracy in the Ford family and is pushing Roush to contract Tracy into the Mark Martin ride... but not full-time. 

Between commitments to Champ Car, Tracy would compete sporadically in Cup, with Martin taking the rest of the schedule.  Martin could race less, going only for wins, while Tracy could learn, with comparatively low pressure while being paid a healthy buck by Roush (via Ford).  The #6 team could be kept intact, with two aggressive drivers satisfying the crew guys' need for working with potential winners. Mark C.

08/26/05 Paul Tracy is interested in driving for Troy Aikman's and Roger Staubach's Hall of Fame Racing team. Tracy had a friend contact HOF about adding him to the list of candidates to pilot the Nextel Cup ride next season. Dallas Morning News

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08/29/05
NASCAR

Kenseth to the No. 11? UPDATE Joe Gibbs Racing Team Manager Jimmy Makar said no decision has been made yet on a driver for the team’s #11 FedEx-sponsored Chevrolet for next season. Makar said the team’s Busch drivers, Denny Hamlin and J.J. Yeley, will each get seat time in the Cup car before the end of the year and are both in contention for the ride “if they show promise.” Makar also said the team definitely will run three cars in 2006, adding there was no truth to the rumors that FedEx could move to Bobby Labonte’s #18. Speed Channel  08/21/05 Word is that No. 17 Matt Kenseth, whose contract with Roush Racing is up at the end of 2006, may be under consideration for a ride with Joe Gibbs in Gibbs' third team, which has struggled this season, despite hefty sponsorship from FedEx. Winston Salem Journal [Editor's Note:  Might Roush lose yet another driver?]

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08/29/05
NASCAR

Roush to decide on Busch in 3-4 weeks UPDATE Hanging over Jack Roush at the moment is the Kurt Busch affair. Busch has signed a contract to drive for Roger Penske beginning in 2007, and he says he'd like to leave Roush at the end of this season. Roush has so far said no. However, Penske officials say they fully expect to get Busch for next season, though it may not be until October that they can get everything sorted out. Roush though shows no signs of yielding. "The structure that surrounds our business, we need rules for the technical aspects of it, and we need rules and guidelines and to make commitments that work for our business ... and I guess we're going to have some trials with those things right now to see if the structure we've got with our business works so we can make guarantees," Roush said of the Busch contracts. But I'm looking to Kurt being in my car next season, and for (sponsors) Newell-Rubbermaid, Sharpie and Diageo (Crown Royal), to the extent that they negotiate with one another and get happy with it in 2006. And then we'll make new plans for 2007." Winston Salem Journal 08/20/05 Car owner Jack Roush says he probably won't decide #97-Kurt Busch's 2006 plans "for three or four weeks," while Geoff Smith, the head of Roush Racing, reviews sponsorship commitments and options in assessing whether to let Busch leave to join Roger Penske. Winston Salem Journal

Comment
08/28/05
cc
ALMS

Champ Car and IMSA talking UPDATE #3 Chatted with IMSA's COO Tim Mayer here in Montreal.  He tells us Champ Car at Sebring just didn't make sense but we are still talking, which was evident by the fact he was in Montreal and looked like he was there for a meeting.  Mark C. 07/05/05 More evidence that the ALMS/Champ Car rumors might be true with this article on Champ Car's website.  [Excerpts] While watching Monday's American LeMans race at Lime Rock, a few obvious things came to mind:

1). ALMS needs more cars and fans.
2). So does Champ Car.
3.) They would be good for each other.
4.) Especially on July 4th.

As it stands today, Champ Car officials are working on running as many as a half dozen doubleheaders with ALMS in 2006.

First off, ALMS needs more fans, more exposure and more races than the 12 they've got scheduled in 2005.

Some of the ALMS shows I've watched on television, like at Road Atlanta and Mid-Ohio, have decent crowds considering there are two sports cars series to chose from. That's why a weekend with Champ Car, ALMS, the Formula Atlantic series and the vintage Formula One cars could be such a winner.

There are plenty of road racing fans in this country, some dormant because of the open wheel split and others maybe not willing to drive long distances just to see one main event.

Giving those folks a diverse and packed program at a reasonable price just might bring back the crowds who used to pack Elkhart Lake, Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca for the heydays of Can-Am and CART.  And who's to say that, given the opportunity, Paul Tracy or Sebastien Bourdais or Jimmy Vasser wouldn't do double duty on these weekends? 

Read more & Comment...
08/28/05
cc
atlantic

Kasemets eyes Champ Car ride UPDATE We chatted shortly with Tonis today in Montreal after he finished 2nd in the season finale.  "Yes,  I am trying to put something together in Champ Car, but if I can't I will run another year in the Atlantic Series," said Kasemets.  Of course it all comes down to money and sponsorship. 08/27/05 According to this Estonia Post Times newspaper article, (rough translation), Tonis Kasemets says, "Work on getting Champ Car ride is in full swing," said Kasemets. "We are in negotiations with teams, where we do not have to pay for the ride. Team bosses know me already for some time and they know: if there are no money issues, I can be very quick. All the teams are looking for top drivers, not pay drivers," commented Kasemets on the status of the series. (Related article.  Another related article)

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08/28/05
cc

2007 Champ Car to be announced UPDATE #2 Champ Car co-principal Kevin Kalkhoven revealed Saturday at Montreal that an announcement of the series future chassis and engine package for 2007 and beyond will be made within the next two weeks.

While the turbocharged 2.65-liter Ford-Cosworth engine will remain the same, the chassis regulations are going to receive a minor makeover. But Kalkhoven said that the basic appearance of the car will be similar.

"You won't mistake it for anything but a Champ Car," he remarked. "It's a little bit narrower and a little bit shorter, the nose is higher, the wings are smaller and the underbody tunnels are bigger.  And it's a lot lighter, though it still passes the 80-G impact test. It should be a racier version of the current car."

Champ Car is likely to stick with a single chassis supplier, though Kalkhoven did not reveal its identity. Seven companies reportedly submitted proposals to Champ Car for chassis construction and supply.  "We're going to leave some more areas open for development by the teams," Kalkhoven said. ChampCar.ws

08/26/05 AutoRacing1.com spoke to Champ Car's Tony Cotman today in Montreal who tells us the new car probably won't be announced this weekend because "we are not quite there yet. After putting out a Request for Proposal we got back seven very interesting proposals. There won't be a vote by the team owners on which proposal we go with, that decision is being made by Champ Car." Separately we heard that the chosen car/proposal will be presented to the team owners at a meeting Saturday after qualifying. Some think the car will be presented to the media between Montreal and Las Vegas. Some speculation we have heard is possibly a paddle shifter transmission, carbon fiber brakes to reduce unsprung weight, a bit lighter and narrower car, a starter motor, and a twin turbo Cosworth engine. We expect the wheels and tires to stay the same size. 08/14/05 Word here in Denver is that the new 2007 Champ Car has been selected by the technical committee and it will be voted on by the owners at a meeting to be held in Montreal. Whether it is announced in Montreal remains to be seen, but we hear that is a goal given all the media will be assembled. Waiting until Las Vegas at the end of September is thought to be too long a wait. We hear just one manufacturer will supply all the cars.

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08/28/05
cc

Dominguez to re-sign
AutoRacing1.com has learned that Gerald Forsythe is likely to re-sign Mexican Mario Dominguez for 2006. We expect him to team with Paul Tracy who has at least one more year on his contract with Forsythe.

Comment
08/28/05
Industry News

Bristol might host big football game
This Daily Press article says that Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver is exploring the possibility of a lucrative game against Tennessee in Bristol, with an eye on how it could affect the future of his athletic program.There's a lot of haggling to do before a $40 million football game matching Tennessee against Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway becomes reality, but Tech athletic director Jim Weaver is dreaming about what he could do with an extra $20 million.

O. Bruton Smith, the chairman and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., is prepared to offer the universities $20 million each to play at the track in Bristol, Tenn. SMI owns Bristol Motor Speedway and five other tracks where NASCAR Nextel Cup events are held. Weaver said he had e-mail correspondence Friday with Jeff Byrd, president and general manager of the track. Smith said Thursday he would knock down all the structures on the infield of the track at Bristol to build an artificial turf football field for the game. He also said he'd increase the track's seating capacity from 160,000 to 175,000 for the game. Meanwhile, Weaver is already pondering how to make the game fit in Tech's schedule, and how much of a boost $20 million could give to upgrading athletic facilities.

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08/28/05
irl

Wheldon, Kanaan, Herta, Franchitti, Scheckter to stay in IRL
According to this Indy Star article, Dan Wheldon, Bryan Herta, Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Tomas Scheckter are likely to stay in the IRL for 2006 in their existing rides.

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08/28/05
nascar

Riggs to Evernham UPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact.'  See Hot News page for story. 08/22/05 Scott Riggs appears set to join Evernham Motorsports to drive its third Nextel Cup Series team next season, ThatsRacin.com reports.  An official announcement of Riggs' move could come as early as next weekend at Bristol, Tenn., sources said.   Evernham announced earlier this summer it would form a third Cup team in 2006, using the No. 10 and sponsored by Valvoline, which currently sponsors Riggs' MBV/MB2 Motorsports team. At the time, team owner Ray Evernham said he had not settled on a driver.

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08/27/05
nascar

NASCAR to make major testing changes UPDATE #2 NASCAR will likely schedule three-day tests at six Nextel Cup tracks in 2006, with each team allowed to attend two of those days. Beyond that, Nextel Cup Series director John Darby said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway, no other testing will be allowed at tracks where the series races. Daytona, Las Vegas and Homestead-Miami are the likely sites for tests. The other three will be chosen through input from the garage, Darby said. One short track, perhaps Richmond, and one high-banked 1.5-mile track, like Charlotte, Texas or Atlanta, would likely be among the others. Indianapolis was on the original list, but Darby said teams might prefer another track to it.

The idea of manufacturers' tests, with all Chevrolets, all Dodges and all Fords testing together, was abandoned after feedback from the garage, Darby said. Similar limits would be in effect for the Busch and Truck series.

Darby said NASCAR expects more than 30 of next year's races to be impound races, where teams won't be allowed to work on their cars after qualifying.

This year's 36-race schedule will include about 20 impound races. Lowe's Motor Speedway at Charlotte could be among those added to the impound list, especially for its October race, but the track is not expected to change its schedule for Thursday night qualifying sessions. ThatsRacin.com

07/25/05 NASCAR is contemplating revamping its testing procedures for 2006. Under the proposal, each manufacturer would receive six two-day tests at tracks that have Nextel Cup races. For example, the Chevrolet drivers would test on the same days at the same six places, the Ford drivers at presumably a slightly different six and the Dodge drivers at six. The tracks would have to be agreed upon by the owners of that brand. The current policy allows teams five two-day tests wherever they want, whenever they want. Daytona still would be mandatory for all teams. The goal of the change is twofold: to cut down on tire costs and to allow teams time to prepare for the car of the future, which is expected to make its debut in 2007. Goodyear would have engineering support on hand and sign out tires at the tests. Teams still would be allowed to test at tracks that don't have Cup races, but current tires would not be available. Sporting News

07/17/05 NASCAR is planning a major change in Nextel Cup testing for next season, limiting teams to six designated manufacturers tests. That means that all three carmakers - Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge - would each have to specify which six tracks they want their own teams to test at, and no other testing at any NASCAR track would be allowed. The Nextel Cup tour runs at 23 different tracks. Such a rule would keep multi-car teams from testing at numerous different tracks. For example, Rick Hendrick's four primary teams can each test at seven different tracks, giving that operation a total of 28 tests, while in contrast, single-car team owners like Cal Wells can only test at seven tracks. Under the proposed new rule, which is still being debated, each manufacturer would have to pick six tracks and its teams could test at those six tracks on those six dates. NASCAR also wants to bar any testing during the final 10 races of the season. Car owner Jack Roush says he would suggest that NASCAR limit testing to the Friday before each race, at that specific track: "As we work toward impound races, which I'm in favor of, if we used each Friday as a test date at the particular track, NASCAR could supervise the tests ... and tracks could sell tickets, the media could swarm, and the guys could wreck their cars if they wanted ... and we would have people watching with some interest, which, after all, is why we do this sport. Everybody would be at the track, with hotel rooms already, with the same tires, so it's all relevant, and without us having to run all these tractor-trailers up and down the road ... it's got so much going for it I can't imagine they'd ever do it." Winston Salem Journal

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08/27/05
NASCAR

NASCAR teams hoarding Goodyear tires UPDATE John Darby said there was "strong, strong possibility" that tire leasing will be in effect next year. Teams would get tires from Goodyear at the beginning of each race weekend and then turn them back in before leaving, meaning they couldn't buy the same tires they race on to take to non-Cup tracks like Kentucky for more testing. ThatsRacin.com  08/23/05 NASCAR officials met with officials from Nextel Cup teams at its research & development center in Concord on Tuesday to discuss significant rules changes for the 2006 season.  Among the changes outlined, according to a crew chief who attended the meeting, is a revamping of the testing policies aimed at minimizing the advantage multicar teams have because they can test more often.

Currently, each Nextel Cup race team - each car number - is limited to five two-day tests and four one-day tests at tracks where the series competes.  Rookies get seven two-day tests and five one-day tests.

Next year, however, each team will test only at six designated tracks along with other teams from the same manufacturer. All Ford teams, all Chevrolet teams and all Dodge teams will test at the same tracks, four of which were designated by NASCAR and two more chosen in a vote taken at the meeting. Two of those tests will be at Daytona and Indianapolis.

To help limit testing at other tracks, such as Kentucky or Nashville speedways, NASCAR also plans to use a tire-leasing policy. Teams will lease tires at each track, taking out as many sets as they want.  But each tire must be returned before the team leaves the track.

Teams have been buying tires since word first came NASCAR was considering the new limits, stockpiling them to use in tests at non-Cup tracks next year.   Also, NASCAR plans to use its impound policy - in which cars race with the same setups they qualify on - at 31 of next year's 36 races.  ThatsRacin  [Editor's Note:  What are the teams going to do with all the Goodyear tires when Goodyear changes the tire compounds next year?  The stockpiled tires will be rendered useless.  Look for a fire sale on used Goodyear tires next year on team's websites.  NASCAR fans will suck them right up]

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08/27/05
nascar

More on NASCAR Car of Tomorrow UPDATE The so-called "car of tomorrow" is still on track for a 2007 debut, Darby said.  "The question is will it be across the board or a stair-step introduction," he said.  The car's driver compartment will be larger and the driver will sit more toward the center of the vehicle with several changes aimed at increasing safety, such as more crushability on the side portion of the car's structure.

"The nose has a horizontal aero splitter on the bottom," Darby said. "It's a flat horizontal panel that affects aero greatly. Teams will be able to add or subtract front downforce easily by sliding it forward or backward, and it will have enough responsibility for the aero ... that teams won't want to drag them off" by having the car bottom out. ThatsRacin.com

06/26/05 Gary Nelson, NASCAR's vice president of research and development, expects the long-awaited NASCAR "Car of Tomorrow" to address the sport's next most worrisome safety problem: side impacts. Taller, boxier, and much more representative of their consumer car counterparts, the new evolution of the NASCAR machine is slated to begin on-track testing this fall with a projected 2007 introduction. "We're releasing specifications to the teams and we will begin testing this fall and continue testing into '06," said Nelson. "The testing we've done individually has gone well and if the teams continue to have that progress it's just then a matter of transitioning for the car owners, figuring out how best to transition it into their fleet." The new car is designed to make the cabin safer by moving the driver slightly toward the center and using a steel roll cage similar to current ones. The object is to create "crushable space" to dissipate crash energy around the driver. Just outside of that structure you try to absorb some energy. That's the difficult part because you never know what direction an impact may come from. With a strong roll cage and frame and the driver moved maybe a little more toward the center of the car, it provides a little more space for absorbing some energy, I think we've accomplished that with the car we've got now." St Petersburg Times

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08/27/05
NASCAR

Penske denies Wallace rumor
Penske Racing South officials strongly denied rumors that Kenny Wallace was a candidate to replace brother Rusty next year in the team’s #2 Miller Lite-sponsored Dodge if #97-Kurt Busch can’t get out of the final year of his contract with Roush Racing. Roush officials said earlier in the week that it likely will be several weeks before a decision about Busch’s fate for next year would be reached. Busch has signed a contract to drive the #2 in 2007, but is hoping for an early release from his current deal so he can move to Penske next year. Speed Channel

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08/27/05
NASCAR

Kenseth to renew with Roush
Matt Kenseth, after watching all the fallout from other driver negotiations the past few weeks, is expected to quickly sign a contract renewal with car owner Jack Roush. Winston Salem Journal

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08/27/05
NASCAR

No Toyota in 2006 UPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact.'  Sources close to Toyota have confirmed that the Japanese automaker will not field a NASCAR Busch or Nextel Cup series car in 2006. Speed Channel [Editor's Note: We predicted long ago that Toyota was too smart to invest a lot of money in Cup and Busch cars only to have to scrap them when the new Car of Tomorrow came out.  That is still on track for 2007 and that is when you will see Toyota move in.] 08/13/05 Over the past several months, Toyota Racing Development had quietly built a race car that eventually was submitted for the mandatory approval process that would allow it to be entered into the NASCAR Busch Series beginning in 2006. For reasons known only to them, TRD officials would never acknowledge the existence of the car even though it had gone through the initial stages of the approval process (fitting the car to the templates). Next up for Toyota was an on-track test at Atlanta Motor Speedway, similar to what Ford and Chevrolet recently underwent when submitting their new models for the 2006 season. But just three weeks ago, prior to the first scheduled on-track test, Toyota officials notified NASCAR that they were pulling the plug on the process. Speculation centered on Toyota and NASCAR officials allegedly being at odds and not seeing eye-to-eye on the car and its engine. "Not so," said a NASCAR official. "There was never a problem with the car. They just notified us that they were pulling the plug and ending the process – for now." Despite confirmation from those in the garage, Toyota officials still won't acknowledge the existence of the car. Instead, they maintain that their goals have not changed since earlier in the year. Yahoo Sports

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08/26/05
f1
A1GP

Speed to pull double duty in 2006
Scott Speed is set to become the first American driver employed full-time by a Formula 1 team since Michael Andretti’s 1993 stint with McLaren, when Red Bull Racing announces him as an official test driver during the upcoming Italian GP weekend.  The fact that the Californian is also running Team USA’s A1GP car in this week’s Paul Ricard test sessions, however, prompted doubts about his availability to perform double duty as an F1 tester and A1 racer during the winter months.  But RBR has confirmed this Friday that Speed’s A1 involvement is in both parties’ best interest.  "It will be good for him to be busy over the winter and get more experience," Red Bull officials told Autosport-Atlas. More at SPEEDTV.com

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08/26/05
ca

DiLeo eyes Atlantics for 2006
Young Daniel DiLeo did a super job in Road America last weekend finishing third in his one-off Toyota Atlantic race and we ran into him here in Montreal. He tells AutoRacing1.com that he has probably landed the big sponsor he needs to do a full schedule in 2006 in the new Champ Car Atlantic series. It will take about $700K of total sponsorship next year to do a proper effort.

Comment
08/26/05
cc
f1

Bourdais still eyes a shot at F1
Should Sebastien Bourdais win his second title this year, it is thought that Formula One's teams will no longer be able to ignore his credentials and he will head back to Europe.  While he looked to be on his way to F1 following his 2002 F3000 championship when an Arrows test resulted in a contract offer, the team went bankrupt before the end of the year and the deal was cancelled.

His second opportunity came with the Renault team late in the same year, but he lost the test drive role to fellow Frenchman Franck Montagny. It is thought that the team offered Bourdais a contract but he did not like the terms. "You don't decide to go to F1: Opportunities arise or they don't, and so far nothing interesting has come my way," he said. "I'm still considering it, but it's a matter of opportunity and I'm waiting for a good one."  Globe and Mail

Comment
08/26/05
nascar

Bobby Allison looking to start a NASCAR Pension
Bobby Allison wants to start a pension fund for retired NASCAR drivers. At 67, he should be the poster boy. There is no greater driver in greater need. Just this spring, he paid off the last of the medical bills from his career-ending injuries of 1988. His only guaranteed income is his Social Security check. "That certainly is a very welcome help, but it doesn't match the need at the moment," he said Sunday, standing inside Michigan International Speedway, virtually unnoticed by current-generation drivers, crewmen, officials, corporate CEOs and fans. "At the moment" was a phrase he added out of pride. Bobby Allison has been broke for 17 years. More at Orlando Sentinel

Comment
08/26/05
irl

IRL race at The Glen to move
The Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Argent Mortgage, which makes its much-anticipated debut at the Glen on Sept. 25, will move to a new date in 2006. Indy Racing League spokesman John Griffin said when the series schedule is released sometime after Labor Day, the Glen race will probably occupy a midseason date.

"You are going to see a schedule starting three or four weeks later and ending three or four weeks earlier than you have seen in the last couple of years," Griffin said Wednesday. "In all likelihood, Watkins Glen would move off the tail end of the schedule. We're looking somewhere in the heart of the schedule."

Griffin said the IRL is condensing its 2006 schedule into an April to mid-September time frame to better promote the series and to avoid overlapping with the NFL.

"It's designed to build momentum for television viewership and momentum as we move from track to track on the schedule," he said. "The NFL was certainly an issue, also."

He said the IRL plans to race on a near weekly basis next year after this year's schedule had several gaps in it between events. More at The Star Gazette

Comment
08/26/05
f1
cc

Why F1 race in Cape Town won’t be called ’South’ African GP
A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, How come the rumored F1 race in Cape Town won't be called the South African GP, clearly Cape Town is in South Africa?  Jim Dolan, Las Vegas, NV.  Dear Jim, According to our sources. the group trying to put a Champ Car race together in Cape Town now owns the rights to 'South' Africa GP so the F1 group had to go with just African GP.  Now it will be interesting to see who gets to Cape Town first, F1 in 2009 or Champ Car.  We doubt the government would get involved with both.  Mark C.

Comment
08/26/05
f1
MotoGP

Will Rossi replace Schumacher at Ferrari? UPDATE #6 Speculation linking Valentino Rossi and formula one is a bit like Kimi Raikkonen -- fast and furious, but not necessarily bursting with info. There are, though, the commentators. The latest is Superbike rider Neil Hodgson, who told the UK's Sun newspaper that he reckons the hugely talented Italian will indeed make the four wheel switch.

Asked if a bike-to-car transformation would be possible, Hodgson answered: ''I think we're going to get a chance to see that. Rossi is going to switch at some point.''

Rossi, 26, has tested Michael Schumacher's Ferrari and qualified for an FIA super license. Hodgson added: ''If anyone can do it, he can.''

Former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi, meanwhile, was reportedly blown away by Rossi's best lap time at Fiorano. ''Fifty eight (point) three in the summer,'' the Frenchman marveled to Speed TV. ''Formidable!''

Ask those a little closer to the action, though, and it's a slightly different story. Rossi's crew chief, Jeremy Burgess, reckons Valentino - although often gushing about rallying - has ''never spoken to me about F1. ''Never mentioned it.''

However, it's always better to watch what Rossi does. For one, he tested the scarlet car, and - maybe also significantly - he is believed to be kicking up a stink about running in Gauloises blue tobacco colors on his Yamaha in 2006. Why? He doesn't like tobacco? Wrong. His Ferrari was sparkling in Marlboro red. Tipped for a part time Ferrari testing job next year, perhaps the clashing of cigarette brands was the factor.

08/23/05 With this sighting at Fiorano, it appears Ferrari may be developing a new MotoGP bike for Valentino Rossi.  In reality this photo was taken at the Monterey Historics...... 08/23/05 Jean Todt says it is possible that MotoGP megastar Valentino Rossi could do some more testing at the wheel of a Ferrari. The 26-year-old Italian, perpetually linked with a future switch to a four wheeled category such as formula one, has already completed three days at the marque's Fiorano circuit in Italy.

''I'd say at the moment that we are helping him more than he is helping us,'' Todt - the Maranello principal - said. ''He can do some more testing if he wants to.''

Asked whether Rossi's role might become more serious in the future, Todt did not deny the obvious talent of the rider. ''You never know,'' the French born boss replied. ''Maybe he can help us in the future.''

In a media briefing at Istanbul on Sunday, Todt also revealed that Felipe Massa was compelled to honor his Ferrari contract in 2006 despite a long term BMW offer. ''We took him,'' Jean confirmed, ''but he is happy to come.''

08/12/05 Valentino Rossi's link with Ferrari continues to strengthen, with news that he will now test parent carmaker Fiat's new 'Punto' rallying car.  The 26-year-old MotoGP champion, who last week did an extensive F1 test for the scarlet marque, is tipped to get at the Punto's wheel in September.

''I don't think he'll move to F1,'' Fiat's Lapo Elkann told La Gazzetta dello Sport, ''not in the short term at least.  I would like for him to compete (with the Punto).  He will decide ... after the test.''

Lapo Elkann, brand manager, is the grandson of former chairman, the late Gianni Agnelli.

At Ferrari's own Fiorano circuit on Thursday, meanwhile, Spaniard Marc Gene shook down three cars bound for the first Turkish grand prix.  They will leave, by ship, for Istanbul on Friday, Ferrari's motor sport press office said. 

Read more & Comment...
08/25/05
irl

IRL Chicagoland race to get sponsorship
Rumor has it that on Wed., Aug. 31, Chicagoland Speedway and a Chicago-based company will make a major announcement about the Sept. 11 Indy Racing League race. IRL IndyCar Series drivers Dan Wheldon, Dario Franchitti and rookie Danica Patrick will take part in the press conference, as well as Chicagoland Speedway Vice President/General Manager Matthew Alexander and members from the company.

Comment
08/25/05
alms

ALMS schedule might expand
In this interview with ALMS president Scott Atherton, he hints the ALMS schedule might expand to as many as 11 race in 2006 or 2007.

Comment
08/25/05
GP Masters

Mansell signs to drive in Masters series
According to AutoRacing1.com sources, former F1 World Driving Champion Nigel Mansell has signed to drive in the Grand Prix Masters series.  We expect an announcement soon.

Comment
08/24/05
ChampCar
F1

Champ Cars of old might sit on F1 pole
Remember the days when Champ Cars made over 900 HP and had traction control?  Add those two items to today's Champ Car and might they sit on the pole for the F1 race in Montreal?  This year's pole time in Montreal was Jenson Button at 1:15.217 and last year's pole time for Champ Car was Bourdais at 1:19.897.  This year the Champ Cars have been faster at most tracks, so we are probably looking at the low 1:19's for this year's pole.  Add in 150 HP and give them traction control again and we could see the Champ Cars up toward the front of an F1 grid.   Next year the F1 cars lose some 100 with the new V8 engine, as well as some other aero changes.  Meanwhile Kevin Kalkhoven said Champ Car's HP might go higher next year, further narrowing the gap between a $500 million per year F1 team and a $10 million (or less) Champ Car team.  The comparisons can start to get interesting again.  It just goes to show how little bang for the buck you get with an F1 car.  They should hang their heads in shame.

Comment
08/24/05
nascar
IRL

Argent eyeing NASCAR
Did you know that Ameriquest is the retail side of Argent, a huge IRL sponsor, that is now getting involved in NASCAR (See Hot News item). It's going to be very interesting around the IRL paddock if Argent goes to NASCAR like we hear might happen. We don't know......but if their retail side is going NASCAR, can they be far behind? They seem to be shifting dollars to the more high profile sports (PGA, etc) and to the retail side rather than the wholesale broker side, which is Argent.

It would seem to us that from a marketing side they would get more "pull through" appealing directly to consumers, a la NASCAR. They sell what are called non conforming mortgages (you can guess what that means) which is probably more the stock car crowd than open wheel.

Plus, we know that Argent got romanced by all the great Champ Car venues, great three day weekends, great schmoozing events, dinner with Danica, dinner with Bobby, etc etc. Then all of a sudden they're out in Sparta, Kentucky with their hands over their ears in the hot stands yelling to their customers and can't get an autograph from Danica.

Comment
08/24/05
irl

Honda hints it too could leave the IRL
Honda has dominated the IRL the past two seasons and clinched its second-straight manufacturer's title in Sunday's Honda Indy 225 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. But while Robert Clarke, the general manager and vice president of Honda Motorsports, was celebrating another championship, he couldn't escape the question of whether Honda would remain with the IRL in the future?

"Well, that's probably another discussion for another time," Clarke said. "I don't want to ruin a good weekend."

Clarke has held to his comments that the automaker does not want to be the sole supplier in the IRL -- that it has to have another car manufacturer to compete against. But on Sunday, he changed his stance ever so slightly.

"It's something that we have to consider," Clarke said. "Now that the direction of things seems to be more clear, it's time for Honda to consider what it's going to do. I can tell you we've been very pleased with the relationship we've had with the Indy Racing League, what we've gotten out of it today. "We're not looking to leave. I'll leave you at that." NSSN

[Editor's Note: Ultimately it will be Honda of Japan's final decision and they may decide to follow Chevy and Toyota out the door. Rest assured the team and driver subsidies will end either way because Honda will have no competition and all teams will be treated equally. We are of the belief that Clarke is saying kind things about the IRL because HPD has now been charged with being profitable by Honda and an exclusive contract to supply engines to all IRL teams would go a long way toward accomplishing that. With that said, Honda likes competition because they use it to train their engineers. Being the sole engine supplier won't accomplish that goal and HPD would become essentially a rebuild shop. The best scenario would be the one proposed by AutoRacing1.com. In that scenario, Honda could roll out its mothballed 2.65L CART engine, a superior engine to the noisy, eardrum breaking IRL engine, and with some common rules and cost structure, compete fairly with the current Ford/Cosworth variant in a two-league, playoff structure. Open Wheel Racing desperately needs a playoff system similar to what NASCAR created. However, apart the IRL and Champ Car are too small to do it. There is just no easy way to merge the two sides (if it were ever to happen) without a two-league structure because there are just too many differences of opinion. In a two league structure, each side gets to control their league, but with common rules we can someday see a playoff system that would benefit everyone. All sports fans like playoffs to determine the "world" champion.]

Comment
08/24/05
f1

Dutch looking to buy Minardi
The Rotterdam newspaper Het Algmene Dagblad this morning reported that a Dutch group is looking to buy a share of the Minardi team from Paul Stoddart. There were, it seems, meetings in Turkey to this end which included Stoddart and Bernie Ecclestone. The consortium seems to include the ABN AMRO bank, a Naarden-based private equity company called Greenfield Capital Partners, a Bermuda-based wealth management company called WP Stewart & Co, which runs its European operations from Rotterdam and Michiel Mol, the man behind longtime F1 sponsor Lost Boys, a Web-based media group, based in Amsterdam, which is now part of the Icon MediaLab agency. Mol has been a backer of Christijan Albers for some time with his Media Republic company.

Paul Stoddart is refusing to talk about deals at the moment, beyond saying that there are a lot of buyers floating around, but our sources say that the Dutch bid is one he might favour as it would leave him in charge of the team, while at the same time lifting some of the financial burden from his shoulders. Grandprix.com

Comment
08/24/05
ChampCar

Junqueira might return for Mexico City
On Monday of this week Bruno Junqueira was examined in Indianapolis by Dr Terry Trammell who told him his rehabilitation is coming along better than expected and he will be able to race in the Mexico City season-closer on the first weekend in November. Junqueira broke two vertebra in the accident, the T12 or twelfth vertebra, and the L1 or first lumbar vertebra.

"They took a piece of my ribs and fused the two vertebra," Bruno remarks. "They also put some screws and two titanium rods through the three top and bottom vertebra to make it strong."

The screws and titanium rods will stay in place forever because it would require major surgery to remove them.

"One or two days after the accident I was already walking," he recalls. "It was Wednesday morning. I felt terrible but I started walking right away, doing it daily. At that time it was painful because my ankle was broken and we didn't know it. I complained about it being painful to step on my left foot for a couple of weeks until we looked at it and found it was actually broken."

Further examination revealed a broken talus bone in his left ankle.

"It was a very small fracture but it went from the top to the bottom. Every time I stepped down the back of my foot felt painful and it was swollen a lot. So I used a boot for two weeks and it was better.

"I'm working out three hours every day, trying to get in better shape and getting all the movements, flexibility and speed. I'm working hard, not just to drive the car but to be walking at normal speed and to do most other things. Now I can do most of those things. I'm at a good point.

"Right now I'm for sure not in a hundred percent of my shape from before, but I think I could even drive the car right now. We have to wait for the healing of the bone. After the proper healing and good bone strength has come back Dr Trammell will let me drive again.

"It takes a long time to make it fused. I can do everything but I cannot twist or bend my torso. That's the only thing I cannot do. I cannot carry weight or do something really stupid. Doing the exercises and helping the blood flow through the vertebra helps. Drinking a lot of milk and getting a lot of calcium and iron helps, and that's something I'm doing. But it's just a matter of time.

"I do an average of one and a half hours of cycling at home on a stationary 'bike and I do an hour and a half of exercises with my physiotherapist. Then I do maybe fifty minutes of swimming in the afternoon. I do a lot of physiotherapy exercises for my back and to strengthen my whole body. I also do a little bit on my legs, arms and shoulders, and a lot of exercises to get the strength and flexibility back for my left ankle.

"Last week was the first week I'm riding a regular stationary bike. Now I can bend a little bit. Before I had to stay completely straight. But I'm not going to ride on the road until after I've driven the car because if I have any accidents right now, either driving the car or riding the 'bike, my bones are not strong enough. So I won't ride a 'bike until next year."

"I put everything behind me and tried just to look forward," Bruno says. "There I was with a broken back, I couldn't walk very well. I had lost a lot of weight and muscle and energy, but I wanted to get back to my normal life and to drive the car as fast as possible. So I'm just looking forward.

"I had a great year this year and last year and all the other years I've been in Champ Cars. I've been able to win races and fight for the championship. I'm going to keep working hard to be able to return strong and be a contender for the championship again, just to do what I like which is to drive the car."

Bruno's friend Oriol Servia replaced him and Servia is third in the championship going into Montreal so there's a chance that Newman/Haas could finish one-two this year.

"I was very happy when Oriol had the chance. He's my friend but the most important thing is he's one of the best Champ Car drivers. For years he didn't get the opportunity to drive for a team that he could win with. I hope he can win a race this year. He's doing very well this year with Newman/Haas. For sure, it's his best season by far. I think he's driving better. He's driving perfect, making no mistakes and driving fast."  ChampCar.ws

Comment
08/24/05
f1

’Klien or Liuzzi’ for ’06
It is absolutely certain who will get the nod to pilot the Red Bull seat next to David Coulthard next year -- either Christian Klien (pictured right) or Vitantonio Liuzzi.

America's Scott Speed, meanwhile, is tipped to take the 'Friday' seat.

''The second (race) driver will be Klien or Liuzzi,'' said team motor sport 'advisor' Helmut Marko, who - although Austrian like Klien - actually rates Italy's Liuzzi higher.

Klien is likely to race for the eleventh and last time this year at Monza, before Liuzzi is given a further four-race stint to show his worth.

Comment
08/23/05
f1
cc

Davidson looking for a new ride UPDATE Before long Davidson will be making noises in Champ Car as we doubt he will find an open seat in F1 unless he brings a lot of money.  He's good, but not good enough to land a seat ahead of the ride-buyers in F1.  With so many GP2 drivers looking to land a ride in F1, where will they all go?  Champ Car of course, once all the seats are filled.  Happens every year once the F1 Silly Season dies down. 

08/20/05 Anthony Davidson reckons Jordan or BMW look like his best bet for a ticket out of mere test driving.

The 26 year old Briton has revealed that he was approached by Jordan owner Midland about next year -- and will not even be asked to stump up with a bagful of cash.

''We just literally haven't had that kind of (sponsorship) money,'' said Davidson, whose BAR contract soon expires.  ''Now they are saying they can do something.''

Small, and known as 'Ant' in the paddock, Anthony is desperate to race after several seasons as BAR tester.  Although it's all gone a little quiet now, Davidson also confirmed that his management have been on the horn to Sauber's new owner, BMW.

He added: ''I don't see myself as a tester, I'm a racer.''

With Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button, Nick Heidfeld and Takuma Sato all in the Brackley doorway, though, lining up on the grid with Honda power is unlikely for Ant.  ''Out of all of them,'' he lamented, ''this is where I really want to be.  But if I can't race here I'll race elsewhere.''

Comment
08/23/05
cc
irl

Champ Car/IRL merger - there’ll be none
More reunification talk from the IRL camp in this The Gazette article published in the San Jose Mercury News. All the talk is coming from the IRL side in this article and Rick Mears blames Champ Car for the talks breaking down. Mears, an adviser for Marlboro Team Penske, blames Champ Car officials for causing settlement talks to stall over the summer. "The IRL has given and given and given," he said. "There are some things that are being wanted (by Champ Car) that absolutely will not and cannot happen."

We can tell you that what Mears means is that Champ Car won't settle for anything less than 50% ownership and Tony George does not want to give them 50%. He wants to be King and Emperor. We hear Tony continues to make offers to buy Champ Car but OWRS is not interested.

We hear zero merger talk in the Champ Car paddock these days, absolutely zero. No one is even interested in such a scenario anymore, indicating they are quite bullish on the future. All the talk is coming from the IRL side, we assume because now all their engine money is going away. Toyota gone. GM gone. Honda will stay to sell the teams engines to keep their HPD staff employed and their doors open. If they get the exclusive contract to supply engines for the entire IRL grid, we don't see them subsidizing teams. Why should they? And if they did, the factory teams would get all the best stuff. If there are no factory teams then there are no subsidies and some teams will fold.

Comment
08/23/05
NASCAR

Wood Brothers losing Motorcraft
Just when they wanted to expand to two cars, according to ESPN's SportsCenter/Mike Massaro, Eddie Wood of the Wood Brothers team is seeking sponsorship for two teams next season. If they can't find two they'll have to decide between Ricky Rudd and Jon Wood for the #21 Ford.  The 21 car formerly has Motorcraft sponsorship.  No decision has been made yet but Wood says they're not worried about it right now.

Comment
08/23/05
IRL
ChampCar

Penske Team continues to skirt the IRL rules
Did we mention that the Marlboro Team Penske drivers were running a Champ Car equipped with IRL wings at a recent Mid-Ohio test......which wasn't called a test because it wasn't in an IRL chassis.  Wonder if it had a 2.65L turbo Toyota CART engine in the back?

Comment
08/23/05
A1 Grand Prix

USA A1GP team to get Red Bull backing
Rick Weidinger's A1 Team USA is still to announce its full plans for the coming season but the team has now listed three drivers who will be involved in the testing program and it is interesting to note that all three of them are Red Bull drivers (at least at the moment). The men listed on the team website are Scott Speed, Colin Fleming and Matt Jaskol. Weidinger has also signed up IRL racer Scott Sharp to act as an advisor and consultant for the team.

"We intend to field a team of the finest drivers and racing crews as we compete on behalf of the United States," Weidinger says. "But at the same time, we fully recognize the important role of international sportsmanship, cooperation and goodwill among nations that are the fundamental essence of A1 Grand Prix." This presumably means that an international sponsor like Red Bull could be on the cards. Grandprix.com

Comment
08/23/05
nascar

Petty to lose Dodge?
Petty Enterprises may have more to worry about than replacing Georgia-Pacific as sponsor of Kyle Petty's #45. Word is that Dodge may have played out its history hand in backing the Pettys, with results that have scarcely improved since Dodge's debut in 2001. Speed Channel

Comment
08/23/05
f1

BMW and de la Rosa
McLaren tester Pedro de la Rosa met with BMW's Mario Theissen in the Istanbul paddock last weekend, the Spanish press says.

The 'As' newspaper reported that de la Rosa, 34 - who last raced full time in F1 for Jaguar in 2002 - 'demonstrated his desire' to drive onto the grid for the Sauber team's new German owner.

It is also claimed that the Spaniard, who turned so many heads with an exciting substitute drive in the Bahrain grand prix, has been in talks with Williams and BAR.

Comment
08/23/05
f1

Quali to get crucial tweak
Although a radical change to next year's qualifying format is now unlikely, the existing single-lap-per-driver layout is likely to get a crucial tweak.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis says every team agrees unanimously that the order for qualifying should not be based on the result of the previous grand prix.

''We have got to find a solution to stop that,'' he insisted.

At the moment, a car failure ensures that a driver is doubly penalized by having to qualify early at the next race, which is a disadvantage because a track is usually fastest at the end of a session.

Dennis said: ''We want to come up with a way to avoid that penalty moving forward.''

The current situation also creates a scenario where, in Turkey for example, Michael Schumacher ambled around several laps behind the leader merely to improve his qualifying slot for the Monza race.

What is likely, therefore, is that the order for qualifying will be determined based on the second Saturday practice run.

Comment
08/22/05
f1

Williams bodywork cut down Michelin Tires
Michelin boss Pierre Dupasquier is confident that the four right rear failures suffered by Williams during the Turkish Grand Prix, two with Mark Webber’s car and two with Nick Heidfeld, causing both cars to retire from the race, was not directly the fault of the French tire manufacturer, instead it was more than likely caused by the tires making contact with part of the FW27’s bodywork.

"It's currently under investigation but it's clear it's something not related with the tires," the Frenchman explained. "It could be contact with some part of the bodywork. The chassis is so strong that we don't expect anything bizarre from that side. I don't know what happened; we'll have to analyze and understand it.

"We did realize the curb on the inside of Turn 13 was not friendly, so we warned all the teams to tell their drivers they would risk damaging the tires if they would cut Turn 13 too much. It wasn't the problem Williams experienced, though, I can tell you."

Comment
08/22/05
atlantic

Injury may keep Wirth out of season finale UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' now.  Coming off his first win at Denver, P2 in qualifying at Road America, Wirth was poised to continue his podium streak this past weekend.  In a heartbreaking turn of events, an accident at the end of the morning warm up (which he led), Wirth finds himself on the disabled list with injuries to his spine.   Not only was he unable to run the race at Road America, but the young German driver confirmed today that he will miss the finale at Montreal, due to his injuries.

"I flew to Indianapolis to see Dr. Trammell and he recommended that I start rehab as quickly as possible.  I will fly to Germany in a day or two and start the rehabilitation training program.  I can't even describe what I'm feeling - we were second in the points, my car was perfect, I have experience at both Road American and Montreal and this freak accident  ends my year. " said the saddened Andreas.  "I will return, of course, but this is not how I saw my year ending!  Thanks to everyone at Brooks Associates."

"The Champ Car Medical Unit team did their usual top notch work.  They took quick care of our young driver, then sent him off for x-rays.  Those came out fine, but a CAT scan revealed the vertebrae damage.  Andreas is walking around feeling ok, but those tests tell the story.  His health is the most important.  We appreciate all the kind words from his competitors.  I'll tell you one thing, though, the record books won't tell the story on this incredible driver. " said John Brooks, team owner.

The other Brooks driver, Al Unser III, continued his top five success, finishing 4th at Road America.  The BoSPoker driver, running at the BoSPoker.com race, was consistently improving all weekend.

08/22/05 Sunday got off to a painful start for one of the top series' rookies. Germany's Andreas Wirth (#8 Wurges Windows and Doors) was injured in a Sunday morning practice session and was unable to compete in the event. According to Dr. Chris Pinderski, Director of Medical Affairs for both Atlantics and Champ Car, Wirth suffered minor end plate fractures of his T6 and T8 thoracic vertebrae when his car made contact with Zwolsman's machine at the end of the practice. Wirth, ranked second in the points entering the race, was slated to start second Sunday but medical personnel could not clear him compete due to the injuries. He will be re-evaluated today by series Chief Orthopedic Consultant Dr. Terry Trammell to determine if he can race next week in Montreal.

Comment
08/22/05
f1

Renault cheated in Turkey?
Pedro De la Rosa has accused Renault of using illegal 'team orders' to help Formula One title leader Fernando Alonso take second place in Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix.  A Renault team member was heard telling Alonso by radio on lap two, when he was in third place and behind Italian teammate Giancarlo Fisichella: "Fernando, you're faster than Fisi, overtake him."

"What they told Alonso on the radio is a clear example of what is illegal, those were 100 percent team orders," Spaniard De la Rosa, Alonso's compatriot, was quoted by Spain's Marca newspaper as saying on Monday.  "The message was very clear: overtake him. What could not be heard was what they told Fisichella before that," he said.

Team orders were banned in Formula One after Ferrari stirred up global uproar by ordering Brazilian Rubens Barrichello to move over for team mate Michael Schumacher at the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix.

Comment
08/22/05
F1

Schu to McLaren? UPDATE Ferrari's Michael Schumacher has denied speculation that he might quit the Prancing Horse and join McLaren for the 2007 season. ''I don't even want to comment on (the) rumors,'' the seven time world champion - whose Maranello contract runs out at the end of next year - told his website. ''Everyone knows how closely linked Ferrari and I are.'' That might be so, but the German is not enjoying the F2005's discomforting lack of pace, and Mercedes' Norbert Haug confirmed that two meetings - one in Hungary and another in Istanbul - did indeed take place. Besides, Raikkonen and Montoya are not leaving and with Schu coming close to retirement age, there is no way they will take Schu. 08/22/05 Michael Schumacher is so fed up with Ferrari's lack of pace that he could quit the Maranello based Prancing Horse, a rumor whistled around the Istanbul paddock on Sunday evening.

Most shrugged off the speculation as fanciful. But Germany's 'Bild' newspaper claims that the 36-year-old twice met with countryman and Mercedes' Norbert Haug in Bernie Ecclestone's motor home -- once in Hungary and now in Turkey.

''It is true that we met,'' Haug told the newspaper when asked about the McLaren switch link, ''but we spoke only about the future of formula one. I take it as rather unlikely that he would leave Ferrari.''

'Bild' also claims that Schumacher's manager, Willi Weber, has put negotiations with Ferrari - about a post-2006 driving contract - on ice. Michael drove for the Sauber-Mercedes sports car team prior to debuting in formula one.

Comment
08/22/05
f1

Albers and Jordan
Dutch rookie Christijan Albers has emerged near the top of Midland owned Jordan's driver shortlist for next year.  The Minardi man, a lauded ex-racer in Germany's tin-top DTM category, is the 'fastest Dutchman in formula one,' according to Jordan principal Colin Kolles.

Earlier, Albers' teammate Robert Doornbos - former 2005 'Friday' driver at Jordan - was believed to have a Midland offer in his pocket.

But Kolles, who last week showed Christijan around the Silverstone factory and reportedly is also keen on BAR tester Anthony Davidson, told f1racing.net: ''If we sign up Albers there is only one seat available for a Dutchman.

''I read a lot of negative things about our team and I wanted to show him all the positive things,'' he explained of the factory tour.  Meanwhile, Jordan's sporting relations manager - ex-F1 racer Johnny Herbert - agrees that Albers, who was also an F3 champion, is the 'best Dutchman that we can sign up.'

Comment
08/22/05
nascar

Crocker Nextel Cup bound
Erin Crocker will test a Busch car at Dover on Tuesday, in anticipation of running there in late September. She was set to run Friday's ARCA race here until crashing at Nashville. Crocker's specific 2006 plans will be announced soon, said car owner Ray Evernham, who has invested heavily in the 24-year-old redhead, with plans for a full Busch tour run next year in a Dodge. It may be "use her or lose her" game for Evernham, because General Motors is interested in her Nextel Cup potential. Winston Salem Journal

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08/22/05
irl

Toyota and Honda to leave IRL UPDATE #6 Whether Honda stays in the Indy Racing League long term remains to be seen. Robert Clarke, the vice president and general manager of Honda Performance Development, said after Sunday's race at Pikes Peak International Raceway that his company must re-evaluate its plans in the wake of General Motors affirming its departure at the end of this season.  Toyota is already scheduled to leave the IRL after the 2006 season.  "We're not looking to leave; I'll leave you at that," Clarke said. Indy Star [Editor's Note: The Toyota and now GM part of this rumor are 'fact,' as both have announced they are leaving the IRL and Brian Barnhart admits no other manufacturers are interested.  The Honda portion isn't fact.....yet.] 07/27/05 This rumor was never upgraded to 'fact' when Toyota announced they were following Chevy out of the IRL.  We now wait to see if Honda leaves too if no competition is found by the IRL.  Robert Clarke feels Honda should stay buy he admitted it is not his ultimate decision. 05/02/05 Adding fuel to the Toyota-NASCAR issue are reports that Toyota plans to drop its IRL support at the end of the season (the company is spending nearly $100 million this year on its Indy-car program) and that Honda executives have indicated to IRL boss Tony George they don't plan to stick it out either if Honda is to become the only engine supplier to that series. Winston Salem Journal [Editor's Note:  If these rumors turn out to be true, the IRL will be left with zero engine manufacturers soon, unless the Porsche rumors turn out to be true, which we highly doubt.] 04/13/05 This LaSource article is a prime example of a reporter reading something and running with a story without all the facts.  We saw that during the CART bankruptcy hearings where reporters from around the world jumped on the CART death bandwagon.  Now it's the IRL's turn, and although there could be some truth to the rumors, we'll believe it when we see it.  We would not be at all surprised to see both announce their renewal with the IRL during the month of May at Indy.  Why, we have no idea though, given the plummeting TV ratings and soft race attendance figures.  While Toyota is already in NASCAR, our sources are telling us that it's not if Honda is coming, the talk is whether they will enter the Truck Series first or go right into the Busch Series.

La Source article - With Toyota concentrating more on Formula One and said to be looking at the American NASCAR series it seems likely they will pull out of the Indy racing League (IRL).  It’s been suggested that the Japanese manufacturer will announce their plans after the Indy 500 in May, with many insiders suggesting they will leave the series at the end of 2006. With General Motors (Chevrolet) leaving the series at the end of this season it would leave only Honda as a manufacturer involved, something which would either diminish the competition or escalate the costs, a situation that both Toyota and Honda weren’t happy with in the Champ Car series forcing them both to switch to the cheaper option of IRL. .

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08/22/05
irl
cc

Tony George to go down with the ship
The IRL boldly promised, no mandated, that all engines in the IRL must carry a passenger car manufacturer's name tag. Well you can throw that page out of their rulebook as well. IRL president Brian Barnhart admits no other manufacturer has indicated an interest in joining the series in time for 2007 when Honda will likely be the only engine option. It's possible the IRL will allow companies such as Ilmor and Cosworth to supply engines without a manufacturer badge.

Ilmor, which is owned by Penske, currently works with Honda while Cosworth currently builds the Chevy powerplants. Ironically, Cosworth is now owned by Champ Car co-owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe. Their decision whether or not to continue supplying engines could impact directly on the future of their rival.

Team owner Chip Ganassi has reportedly pleaded with IRL officials to work with Champ Car to try and unify the two sides. "These guys better start smelling the roses, quit this tit-for-tat stuff and get this thing together - both sides," Ganassi tells the Indianapolis Star. "(My sponsor) isn't dissatisfied with the IRL, it's dissatisfied with the powers-to-be in open-wheel racing."

[Editor's Note: Psst, quick someone please tell Mr. Ganassi that unless Tony George gives up on wanting to be the supreme ruler a unification is not going to happen. Champ Car proposed a 50/50 deal and Tony refused. Tony sent back a counter-proposal that essentially made him King and Emperor. Champ Car did not even bother to respond it was so ludicrous. Tony George started the split that destroyed the sport and he is carrying on the split as he watches his empire crumble around him. The captain must go down with the ship. Oops, we thought Roger was The Captain?]

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08/22/05
NASCAR
F1

Herbert eyes possible NASCAR seat
Former Grand Prix driver Johnny Herbert, now involved with the Jordan/Midland F1 operation, is eyeing up a return to serious racing in NASCAR, Autosport-Atlas reveals. Herbert's representatives have been talking to an American group looking to buy an existing NASCAR team and launch a new attack in America's premier racing category in 2006.

The 41-year-old, who drove his last Grand Prix in 2000, told Autosport-Atlas in Istanbul: "It's something that Mark Perkins (formerly of IMG), who helps me out now and again, has been working on for a good few months. Mark's more of a finance man and it's through speaking to his contacts that this started, and it has all just progressed from there.

"The group basically wants to get into NASCAR and I've always been interested but never really known how to get involved, being a non-American. But it's got to the point where, hopefully, in the next month we'll know if it's a go or not."

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08/21/05
f1

BAR prepared to buy Button from Williams
According to Autosport-Atlas, BAR boss Nick Fry has told rivals Williams that his team are now ready to step in and find a solution to Jenson Button's contract dispute - and he has even hinted on a compensation package.

Fry has previously insisted that the matter had to be resolved in private between Button and Williams, but with a deadlock remaining he has made it clear that BAR are now ready to get involved themselves if asked.

"If Williams came to us and wanted to do a deal then we are open to discussion," said Fry ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix. "The final details have to be sorted between Williams and Jenson but if it helps and Williams want to involve us then we are all open to help the situation."

There have been suggestions that one way of BAR placating Williams may be by helping them secure a future supply of Honda engine, but Fry has said it would be more likely to be a financial deal that was hammered out.

"It is up to them to make a suggestion," he added. "I think he (Jenson) is worth a lot to both teams. We wouldn't be squabbling over him if he were not, but his value is impossible to quantify."

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08/21/05
f1

Team orders in Turkey?
Giancarlo Fisichella has vowed to 'help' Renault teammate Fernando Alonso to lift the world F1 championship. The Roman, a whopping 57 points behind Spain's Alonso with six races to go, qualified second for the inaugural Turkish grand prix -- just ahead of the title leader.

Fisichella, 32, insisted that Renault has not yet imposed any standing team orders, which are forbidden by the FIA.

But he added: ''If Fernando needs help from me, I will help him.''

It is also suggested that title chaser Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya - who qualified just behind the blue and yellow charge - could also be a spoiler.

The 25 year old Finn said: ''We don't have any team orders.  We will do our own races and see where we end up.''

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08/21/05
Atlantic
ChampAtlantic

Sciuto eyes full year of Atlantics
17 year old phenom, Alan Sciuto, who in the last two events has shaken up the Atlantic Series with two strong outings including his pole and 2nd place podium finish in Denver last weekend suffered with motor problems thus far all weekend at Road America where in 2nd round qualifying he fell victim to a faulty fuel pressure regulator dropping him to 12th on the grid for Sunday's race ... Watch for Alan to make a charge through the pack in his final 2005 Atlantic event in a three race deal ... Alan looks to be back in the new Champ Car Atlantic Series to run for the Championship in 2006!

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08/20/05
f1

Liuzzi to miss 2006 grid?
Paddock speculation seems to suggest that Christian Klien has raced into pole position to snare the job as David Coulthard's 2006 Red Bull teammate.  It was a line quickly devalued by team boss Christian Horner at Turkey's new 'Otodrom' track on Friday.

''I don't think (we are) pushing one harder than the other.''

The 'other', of course, is current 'Friday' tester Vitantonio Liuzzi, who - despite racing four times in April and May - has seemingly been overlooked after Klien was given the nod for Turkey and Monza.

Horner, though, said the Milton Keynes based team simply thought it fair that Austria's Klien - sidelined at Indy, broken down in France and on his head in Hungary - be given a fair run.

The F1 principal continued: ''This year is very much a learning year for Red Bull.  We have two good, young, talented drivers and we want to have a good look at them.''

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08/20/05
f1

Can Artam and Toyota
Whether significant or not, formula one team Toyota is entertaining a notable guest in Istanbul.

GP2 driver and Turkish local Can Artam, linked previously with Jordan and Minardi but hopeful of a 'Friday' job next year with a 'competitive team', called his weekend with the Cologne squad 'an honor.'

Artam, 24, is also in town to compete for iSport in the GP2 category. He had said last week: ''We have been in touch with several (F1) teams (and) have finally reached a point where I feel happy about the outcome.''

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08/20/05
f1

Fisi to Ferrari in 2007?
Giancarlo Fisichella was surprised when he read the news that former Sauber teammate Felipe Massa had been signed by Ferrari for 2006.

Reckoning that the deal would be for just one year, Renault's Fisichella - an Italian who has long harbored the Prancing Horse dream - wondered if the 24-year-old Brazilian was simply the only one willing to switch.

''Massa is a good driver,'' Fisichella told AP in Turkey, ''but maybe his experience is not enough. 'Maybe it's the right choice.''

Asked why he thought Ferrari plumped for the baby-faced Paulista, 32-year-old Giancarlo mused: ''Maybe (they didn't have) enough options.''

The one-year contract was probably also pivotal, Rome-born Fisichella - who has endured a nightmare season alongside Fernando Alonso - continued. Moreover, perhaps Giancarlo's willingness to comment so candidly on the matter is a tidy sign that he would have liked a shot in the scarlet cockpit.

Fisi, under contract at Renault next year, grimaced: ''I don't know. I don't know. I don't know for 2007.''

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08/19/05
f1

Nanotechnology coming to F1 in 2006?
Nanotechnology has tantalized researchers for decades, promising a new era in stronger and lighter electronic materials. Nanotechnology is the science of engineering such properties at the molecular, or nanometer, scale. For all its promise, the technology has mostly been locked in laboratories.

In Friday's edition of the journal Science, however, scientists from the University of Texas and Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization report the creation of industry-ready sheets of materials made from nanotubes. Nanotubes are tiny carbon tubes with remarkable strength that are only a few times wider than atoms. They can also act as the semiconductors found in modern electronics.

"This is fundamentally a new material," says team leader Ray Baughman of the University of Texas at Dallas in Richardson.

• Self-supporting, transparent and stronger than steel or high-strength plastics, the sheets are flexible and can be heated to emit light.

• A square mile of the thinnest sheets, about 2-millionths-of-an-inch thick, would weigh only about 170 pounds.

• In lab tests, the sheets demonstrated solar cell capabilities, using sunlight to produce electricity.

The team has developed an automated process that produced 2 ¾-inch-wide strips of nanotubes at a rate of about 47 feet per minute. Other methods take much longer to create nanotube sheets.  "The technique is most elegant and the applications they've shown are quite impressive," says nanotube expert Shalom Wind of Columbia University in New York. Industry and academic researchers are already regarding nanotubes with avid interest, he adds.

Future applications that scientists have discussed include creating artificial muscles whose movement is electrically charged, or race cars with stronger, lighter bodies that could also serve as batteries, says chemist Andrew Barron of Rice University in Houston.  "We could see this on Formula 1 (racing) cars by next season, says Barron. "This is a jumping-off point for a technology a lot of people will pursue." More at USA Today

[The ultimate Fuzzbuster: Nanotube enhanced Paint that can deflect radar is also anticipated in the not-too-distant future.  Imagine running through a radar trap at 160 MPH and the police radar gun displaying 0.0 MPH.]

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08/19/05
alms

Marco Andretti eyes ALMS seat
Who was that suited driver climbing out of the No. 35 Maserati MC12 on Thursday at Road America? It was none other than Star Mazda rookie standout Marco Andretti, grandson of the legendary Mario.

Andretti and Maserati officials confirmed that the 18-year-old prodigy could be behind the wheel of a second MC12 that may compete at Petit Le Mans next month at Road Atlanta. Thursday, the team was fitting him in the GT1 ride, just in case. If Andretti does get a seat in the Maserati, he said he wouldn’t 't test until the week of the race.

Andretti would be the first of the famed motorsports family to compete in the ALMS. Mario Andretti drove from Panoz Motor Sports at Le Mans in 2000, teaming with David Brabham and Jan Magnussen in a Panoz LMP Roadster S.

The Generac 500 at Road America, Round 7 of the 2005 ALMS, is set for 3 p.m. EDT Sunday at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel. Qualifying is scheduled for 2:55 p.m. EDT Saturday. American Le Mans Radio, and Live Timing and Scoring will be available at www.americanlemans.com.

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08/19/05
NASCAR

Dale Jr. to drive No. 3
Heard that amidst all the hoopla at DEI that Dale Earnhardt Junior might, after all, be heading to RCR and might be driving the #3 Goodwrench Chevrolet that his father Dale Sr. drove with much success all those years. We have heard this rumor before, but the timing may now be right for this to happen.

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08/19/05
f1

Lotus museum in the works?
There are plans to open a Lotus Museum at 7 Tottenham Lane in Hornsey, where Lotus founder Colin Chapman built his first cars. The premises are not very large and so there will be only be around 10 classic cars on display but former racer John Scott-Davies, who raced Lotuses in the 1960s, hopes that the museum will create some tourism and an education centre for the area.

Chapman worked at the premises between 1951 and 1959, in converted stables behind the Railway Arms Hotel, which his father Stan has been running since Colin was a toddler. It was there that Lotus was established in 1952 and on the premises the first 100 Lotus Seven cars were built before the firm moved to Cheshunt in 1959.  Grandprix.com

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08/18/05
cc

Long Beach to build Grand Prix Palace? UPDATE This related article outlines in  more detail the proposals being made in downtown Long Beach.  While some proposals were high-rise condo developments with up to 1,200 units, others were much more modest.  One such idea was from Grand Prix Place LLC, a team proposing the conversion of the 10-story City Hall East into a Long Beach Grand Prix Museum in the basement and lobby levels topped off by seven stories of lofts, or possibly boutique hotel rooms.

Long Beach Grand Prix founder Chris Pook and current Grand Prix Association of Long Beach President and CEO Jim Michaelian were both on hand to lend support to the project. Michaelian said the museum would give an important local event an “ongoing presence in town.”  “This would be another destination for people to come and participate in the Long Beach lifestyle,” he added.

08/16/05 A $1 billion-plus, three-tower project with the tallest building soaring to 42 stories is among 10 proposals by developers fighting to build the next "jewel of the city."

The developers unveiled their plans during the Redevelopment Agency Board meeting on Monday, offering the first public glimpse of how a downtown area that most consider to have little aesthetic or economic appeal may be transformed.

It's home to a Metro Rail station, a few small businesses, a Bank of America branch, two parking lots and the now vacated temporary headquarters of the Long Beach Police Department, known as City Hall East at Long Beach Boulevard and Broadway.

Depending on the winner of a joint selection process involving the city and the RDA Board that could last through next March, it could be the site of one of several proposed high-rise projects, some small loft projects, or even a 3-story museum heralding the Grand Prix. More at Long Beach Press Telegram

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08/18/05
cc

Overheard in Edmonton - III (Houston again) UPDATE #5 It looks like the Champ Car track in Houston might end up with a hotel right in the middle of it.  Astrodome Redevelopment Corp. has obtained financing for its $450M plan to transform the Reliant Astrodome into a 1,200-room convention hotel. The Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. (HCSCC), which must approve the project, was reportedly “convinced” of its viability due to the financing news. HCSCC Exec Dir Willie Loston said the interior “would literally be a village under glass.” Houston Chronicle

08/17/05 AutoRacing1.com has learned that the Houston track to be unveiled in September will be around 2-miles in length and not be Mickey Mouse like some of Champ Car's temporary circuits. The goal should be a minimum of 1.75-miles in length with a preference of 2-miles or more. After all, it's about racing not putting on a follow-the-leader parade that we see on the Mickey Mouse tracks. You won't see Bernie Ecclestone agreeing to substandard circuits and even Monaco is over 2-miles long. 08/12/05 There is a distinct possibility that the Champ Car series will return to Houston in May 2006, but the road-course race will not take place over downtown streets as was the case from 1998-2001.  Instead, the open-wheel car race would be in the Reliant Stadium area.

Shea Guinn, the president and general manager of SMG-Reliant Park, confirmed Thursday that negotiations with Champ executives are ongoing. "Right now, there isn't much to say other than that we are in discussions with Champ about coming here in 2006," Guinn said.

Joe Chrnelich, the executive vice president of Champ Car, said the group intends to release its 2006 schedule Saturday. Chrnelich indicated there is a good chance the schedule will include a return to Houston.  "We don't have anything to announce at this time, but things seem to be moving in a positive direction," Chrnelich said.

"There are discussions between the promoters and (Champ) officials, and it's down to the fine points. Everything has been very positive along the way and hopefully something positive will come out of it. Houston has all the elements we look for in a venue."

There was some interest from the city of Houston about bringing the race back downtown in 2006, and negotiations reportedly were conducted until as recently as this week. According to sources, Champ officials would have preferred the race to return to downtown, but details couldn't be worked out.

One consideration was the changing face of the east end of downtown. With more businesses in that area of the city — including the 1,000-room Hilton Americas — closing streets, as is necessary to set up the road course, would be more difficult. There would be no such problem with holding the race in the Reliant Stadium area.  "Assuming it works out, we won't have the details of the course until next month," Guinn said. Houston Chronicle

07/31/05 Hearing that Houston is not a foregone conclusion because Champ Car is not certain if they want to exceed 16 races in 2006.  Apparently there are other venues that could or would get the nod before Houston. 07/25/05 We have confirmed that the Chief of Operations of Reliant Stadium was on ESPN Radio last Thursday evening talking about upcoming events at the facility.  He said that a Champ Car race was in the works, probably under the lights.  Reliant, who has the naming rights for the stadium, is a huge power supply company.  Reliant Energy, Inc. is based in Houston, Texas and the company provides a complete suite of energy products and services to approximately 1.9 million electricity customers, ranging from residences and small businesses to large commercial, industrial and institutional customers, primarily in Texas. Reliant also serves commercial and industrial clients in the PJM (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland) Interconnection.

The company is one of the largest independent power producers in the nation with approximately 19,000 megawatts of power generation capacity and should have no problem supplying the electricity for the lighting of the Houston Champ Car course around Reliant Stadium for free. 

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08/18/05
cc

2006 San Jose Track plans underway UPDATE #2 At last night's meeting in San Jose, the 2nd one in as many days, Bob Singleton acknowledged there were problems.  ``Did we make mistakes? No question,'' he told the crowd. ``But as you tell your kids, you learn from your mistakes.''

The biggest one was having too aggressive a schedule for putting up the concrete blocks and fencing that created the track because organizers wanted to minimize the disruption to downtown streets, Singleton said.  ``We tried to do this event in four weeks, and three weeks into it, we realized we needed five or six,'' he said.

More than one question came up about the course itself. Among the complaints drivers had was that it was too narrow to allow for any passing, making more for a parade than a competitive race.

Initially reluctant to talk about possible course changes, Singleton eventually did talk about creating three passing zones. Two could be accomplished by widening existing turns at Almaden Boulevard and Park Avenue and at Market street and Balbach streets.

The third would involve a left turn where Park intersects with Market, taking the race north of Plaza de Cesar Chavez before heading south again in front of the Fairmont. ``That might be a good way to go,'' Singleton said, trying to be non-committal. (See Image to right with possible track reconfiguration that Singleton refers to.)

08/17/05 The San Jose Grand Prix Association hosted the first of two scheduled post race meetings Tuesday night in downtown San Jose. In attendance was the entire SJGP staff including VP Bob Singleton, who addressed the assembled crowd on the overwhelming success of the inaugural Champ Car race and his plans to improve the concept for next year event.

Some of the many issues that Singleton reported on was that the circuit would continue to remain in its current location, with push for more grandstand seating, while improving on the general admission viewing areas. (They will need to revise circuit layout as we show below)

Look for a solution to the light rail track issue and the widening of both sides of the Turn 3 hairpin corner. Other areas of concern are making more room for the Champ Cars through the Turn 4 through 6 sector, as well as widening the entire course where possible.

Many of the residents expressed concern that the use of the advertising and green banners were interfering with the site lines, which Bob and his staff were fully aware of. Singleton will also tackle the crowd control problem with 2-lane-wide bridges and much more "track crossing areas" to help facilitate access throughout the circuit grounds.

Look for the reduction in the amount of events next year, due to time issues with the possible demise of the US Touring Car Championship, but on a positive note Singleton also expressed an interest of possibly bringing in the Historic Formula One cars in addition to highly touted Historic Stock Cars which brought much local color to the event. Earlier there had been talk of hosting a full blown "Drifting event" for 2006, but with the time constraints the Drifting will continue as a exhibition event similar to this year's show.

I was truly impressed with the support and praise that the residents expressed to the entire Grand Prix staff as well as the city reps which helped to make this race the "new" showcase event of San Jose.

For the record the SJGP staff started plans for next year's event the Monday following the '05 event and in our mind there's nobody more qualified to supervise this massive project than Don Listwin, Dale Jantzen, Bob Singleton, Dave Rahn and Mike O'Kane and by the support shown by the city's residents it appears the 2006 version will be again "more than a race"!

Meeting number 2 is scheduled for the business community and will take place at The Tech Museum of Innovation on Weds, August 17. Paul Castoro, reporting from San Jose

08/10/05 Rumor has it that the 2005 Mickey Mouse San Jose track has been redesigned by Autoracing1.com (shown right) and should become the new San Jose circuit for 2006 and beyond. The new track measures almost exactly 1.7-miles in length (up from 1.44-miles), features two definite overtaking areas and eliminates most of the faults of the 2005 circuit. It's simple, clean and raceable.

What needs to be done for this track to be implemented?

  1. Track lengthened as shown. All braking areas have adequate run-off per design standards.
  2. Cars will race in opposite direction.
  3. Pits will be moved to opposite side of main straight. Champ Car will work with local fire department to station fire equipment at both ends of pit lane in case of fire because fire lane behind pits is a bit narrow (a sidewalk - just like Long Beach). Each pit box will have a fireman stationed in it.
  4. Long front and back straights eliminate dangerous chicanes, which pose more of a hazard than the fire access issue.
  5. Necessary reconstruction will be done, including cutting through Plaza de Cesar Chavez (just missing the fountain) and moving the chicane on Park Avenue. If city wants a decent race track they will do this.
  6. Pavement in vicinity of railroad tracks will be reconstructed and made smooth so cars don't launch. This will require a competent Civil Engineer and a competent contractor. It's done successfully every day.


Comment
08/18/05
NASCAR

Craven unsure about future
Ricky Craven looks like the forgotten man on Roush's deep roster. Craven, driving on the Craftsman Truck Series for Roush this season and still looking for a first win, is at a crucial point in his career. Earlier this season, Craven was one of the names on Roush's list as a possible replacement for Mark Martin in 2006, after Martin's retirement. However, Craven, ninth in the Truck standings, has apparently faded from the picture. Craven, in fact, seems reluctant to get his hopes up for a possible return to the Nextel Cup tour, where his smoky, fender-banging Darlington win over Busch is still talked about. "I have allegiance to Jack Roush," Craven said. "He called me, and he offered me a job (racing trucks). I accepted the job, and Jack's been 100 percent with me. "He's been good to me, and he's been good for me, and I've enjoyed building that relationship. "It would be difficult for me to entertain thoughts of substituting for a year (on the Cup tour)," Craven said. "I'm 39, and I have expectations, and I'm just not sure that's what I would want. That probably wouldn't interest me, not for a year. "I'm not closing the door on Cup, but I think the Truck series has satisfied a lot of things for me."  Winston Salem-Journal

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