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DATE News (chronologically)
Danica's IndyCar days numbered, will start move to NASCAR  UPDATE #7 "There is no doubt she would be a welcome addition to NASCAR," said Jim Hunter, the sanctioning body's vice president for corporate communications. "She has a certain celebrity status and a charisma that we haven't seen in a while."

Will Danica Patrick's eventual move to NASCAR be a fatal blow for the IRL?  After having put so much emphasis on her, it might be.
Hunter is taking seriously the reports that she's headed to NASCAR next year, probably with Tony Stewart as her mentor.

"I think the fact that Danica has hooked up with Tony Stewart as sort of an adviser speaks to how serious she is," Hunter said. "And I don't think Tony would be saying the things he's saying if he didn't think she has a chance to make it."

"I know that she's serious about it," Stewart told reporters at Atlanta Motor Speedway the other day. "I know that's what she wants to do. She looked me in the eye and said, 'This is what I want to do -- it looks like fun, it looks like a lot of work, but it looks like fun.'"

But it will be fun only after, and if, she masters full-bodied cars. Her NASCAR learning curve "all but certainly" will begin next year, according to a source -- who I consider golden -- close to the situation.

Her plan, according to the source, is to keep racing full-time in IndyCar next year, but also to run a significant number of Nationwide races, with some Truck and ARCA events in the mix. She has no intention of making the leap to Cup until and unless she feels comfortable that she can be competitive at that level. ESPN.com

09/07/09 A potential 2010 hybrid stock car/open-wheel schedule for Danica Patrick is becoming clearer.  Although sources insist Patrick's primary concentration will remain on driving the No. 7 Honda for Michael Andretti's IndyCar Series team, she could be preparing for an ARCA/Nationwide Series debut during Daytona Speedweeks 2010, which would serve as a springboard to a likely switch to NASCAR in the future.

On Saturday, two-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart said Patrick was "serious" about making the switch from open-wheel to stock car competition.

"I know that that's what she wants to do," Stewart said. "She looked me straight in the eye and said, 'Hey, this is what I want to do. It looks like fun — it looks like a lot of work, but it looks like fun.'

"I don't think she has some misguided idea that it's going to be easy doing it. She wants to do it the right way. She has the intentions to do everything right."

On top of a full IndyCar Series season and the two proposed events at Daytona, Patrick's schedule would also include one or two midseason stock car races and a full-immersion program of Nationwide and possibly Camping World Truck Series races following the October 2 IndyCar Series season finale.

The IndyCar season begins March 14 in Brazil. Fox Sports on MSN

09/06/09 Danica Patrick will "all but certainly" be in NASCAR in 2010, but won't give up Indy car racing and will limit next year's activity to the Nationwide Series and Trucks, according to a source very close to the situation.

Tony Stewart is the "star candidate" to be her partner and mentor in NASCAR, the source said, adding that Patrick's recent visits to Stewart-Haas Racing were much more than social -- that she and Stewart were discussing a deal, and are close to one.

"I can pretty much guarantee at some point she's going to be over here," Stewart told reporters Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, meaning NASCAR in general and hinting at something the source confirmed and clarified. More ...

NASCAR to announce consistent start times  Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark told reporters on Saturday he has heard more talk that NASCAR could soon announce more consistent starting times for its 2010 schedule.  Clark said the standard start time for afternoon races may be 1 p.m. and the consistent start for night races 7:30 p.m.  Some races, including Atlanta's March race, have had later starting times.

"What I've heard is TV wanted the later starting times, but what they found is that when they had a 3 o'clock start time or whatever, people would come home from church and do other things," Clark said.

"They feel like if they know the race is going to start at 1 o'clock and it's the same all the time, it's better.

"The TV people are the ones who came back and said we want it to be the same. I think that will be very well received by the fans." ThatsRacin.com

Petrov, de la Rosa to drive for Campos  UPDATE #3 (GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa admits his chances of returning to the F1 grid next year are high, but insists he has not yet made a decision about what to do in 2010.

The Spaniard, 38, has been McLaren's favored test and reserve driver for many years but has always spelled out his desire to add to his tally of 72 grands prix.

He is strongly linked with the new Campos team but indicated to the Spanish sports newspaper Marca that it is not his only option.

"I have not had so high a possibility to return to race in formula one for years," said de la Rosa.

He said however that he is not anxious to finalize his plans.

"I am calm and satisfied because the important thing is to have options, even though I am not resting on my laurels.

"We are going to try to organize something (for 2010), but it is not necessary to make a rush and a wrong choice," de la Rosa added.

08/26/09 (GMM)  The new Spanish team's boss Adrian Campos is now openly courting countryman Pedro de la Rosa to front the inaugural driver lineup in 2010. He told Spanish radio Onda Cero that he wanted to announce the driver lineup at Valencia last weekend but could not reach an agreement with de la Rosa - McLaren's long serving primary test and reserve driver - in time.

But Campos insists that he is doing "everything possible" to sign de la Rosa, who at 38 would take over from Rubens Barrichello as F1's oldest active race driver. More ...

Fisichella to Ferrari, Liuzzi to Force India  UPDATE #8 In a story we broke exclusively many days ago, both halves of this rumor are now 'fact' - see announcement.

09/04/09 In another AR1.com exclusive, and as we predicted, we have learned that Liuzzi is in at Force India.  We await the announcement.

09/03/09 In an AR1.com exclusive, this rumor is upgrade to 'fact' today.  Fisichella will be racing for Ferrari for the rest of the season replacing Badoer. And Liuzzi is replacing Fisichella at Force India.  We await the formal announcements.

09/01/09 Force India Formula One Team would like to clarify some reports that have appeared in a section of the press a little while ago with regard to Giancarlo Fisichella.

During a press conference via telephone shortly after the team’s podium finish, in response to specific and repeated questions on the subject, Fisichella has himself clarified that he has ‘not received any invitation from Ferrari’ and went on to add that ‘he was looking forward to driving the Force India car at the Monza GP’.

There has been absolutely no change whatsoever on this front since yesterday and we look forward to Fisichella scorching the tracks at Monza.

Ian Philips’ comments do not reflect the views of the Force India Formula One Team Management since he is not the designated spokesperson for the team nor is he authorized to speak to the media. His comments should therefore be ignored.  We completely deny as baseless, whatever is reportedly attributed to him in reports that have appeared in a section of the press a short while ago.

09/01/09 (GMM)  If Giancarlo Fisichella puts his signature on a five-race deal to finish the 2009 season with Ferrari, he is likely to then stay with the Maranello based team next year and beyond as test driver.

The news means that not only does Luca Badoer face imminently losing his opportunity to race in injured Felipe Massa's race boots, but his long tenure as test driver dating back to the late nineties might also be over.

The suggestion is that Tonio Liuzzi is set to move into the Force India race seat full time in 2010, and immediately if Fisichella's Ferrari switch is completed ahead of the Italian grand prix.

"There is a lot of noise around about this," Liuzzi, currently Force India's test driver but reportedly already with a race contract for 2010, told GPWeek.

"For sure regarding the rumors I hope they are right.  I need to drive as soon as possible because I am dying without racing.  There is a high chance that something could happen (for Monza)."

It also emerges that Liuzzi, 28, is scheduled to conduct a straight-line test in the Mercedes-powered VJM02 prior to the Italian grand prix. More ...

Was the fix in?  UPDATE Mordichai writes again, Dear AR1.com, After losing my dinner yesterday due to the transparency of NASCAR's managed racing at Atlanta, I woke up this morning and read that the NASCAR truck series raced in Iowa for the first time last night and Mike Skinner won the pole and race sponsored by who?  You guessed it, Toyota of Des Moines, Iowa.  Well how very convenient.  Great way to make a new sponsor happy.  Like I said, everything happens in NASCAR fro a reason. Now I am going to lose my breakfast too.  Mordichai Rosen, LA, California

Dear Mordichai, you had better stop reading about NASCAR as apparently it is very bad for your health.  NASCAR fix qualifying or a race?  No, it is by the grace of God that these most convenient things happen every weekend.  Mark C.

09/05/09 A reader writes, Dear AR1. com, is it just me or is every NASCAR qualifying grid computer generated, predetermined by someone in NASCAR before the cars even hit the track?  It's so transparent I could puke.  It happens just about every week.  Take for example today at Atlanta.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins the pole for the Degree V12 sponsored Nationwide race and guess who was sponsoring Earnhardt?  You guessed it, Degree V12.  Nice publicity for the sponsor.  Earnhardt hasn't won a pole since 2004.  How convenient he won one today.

Then there is Cup qualifying, and Martin Truex Jr. wins the pole with Guitar Hero as his sponsor.  Nice publicity for Guitar hero, whoever the heck that is.  Was it enough to convince them to do more sponsorship?  How can any one with a half a brain watch NASCAR and not realize that "everything happens in NASCAR for a reason." It is so disgusting I just lost my dinner.  Mordichai Rosen, LA California

FIA to slam Piquet Jr.  UPDATE Reports in the Brazilian media claim that Felipe Massa locked horns with Flavio Briatore in the immediate aftermath of last year's Singapore GP over Nelson Piquet Jr's crash.

Piquet Jr crashed just two laps after his team-mate Fernando Alonso, who was short-fuelled by Renault as they gambled on a Safety Car, stopped for fuel. The ensuing Safety Car situation saw Alonso leap up the order and he eventually went on to win the race.

And although at the time Piquet's crash seemed fortuitous for Alonso, TV Globo reporter Reginaldo Leme claims Massa immediately suspected foul play and confronted Renault team boss Briatore.

"He crashed in a very strange way. It struck me when I was talking recently with Felipe Massa. Felipe had gone to Briatore and said, 'This crash was not right, it happened because you wanted it to,'" said Leme.

09/04/09 Formula one supremo Bernie Ecclestone has warned there could be serious consequences for Renault and Nelson Piquet if any evidence is uncovered by the FIA in their investigation into allegations of race fixing.

Claims emerged last weekend at Spa that Piquet had been ordered to deliberately crash out of the sport's inaugural night race at the 2008 Singapore grand prix to help his Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso secure the race win.

The source of the claims has yet to be revealed and the FIA have yet to confirm that they are looking into the Singapore race.

However, Ecclestone has confirmed that the FIA are looking into events in Singapore and he stated that the governing body are taking the matter seriously.

"The FIA has launched a thorough investigation into the allegations about Nelson," Ecclestone said. "I do not know if they are true or not.

"But if they are true then I would have thought Nelson was in just as much trouble. If I tell you to go and rob a bank and you get caught you can't say, 'Well Bernie told me to.'

"It all seems very strange to me and I do not know the truth."  London News

[Editor's Note: If Piquet crashed his car on purpose, regardless of whether he was told to do so, we suspect the FIA will blackball him from F1.  So if it was Piquet who leaked this to the FIA to spite Renault for firing him, it will backfire right in his face.  No loss to F1, he was slow as a slug.]

Indian group makes bid for BMW-Sauber  (GMM)  On the back of reports this week that a Malaysian consortium is eyeing BMW-Sauber, it has now emerged that a group of Indians is also interested in the Hinwil based formula one team.

Citing sources, the Times of India newspaper said "Indian investors have made an application" to buy the Swiss outfit, whose majority owner BMW is pulling out of the sport at the end of the season.

The newspaper said team founder Peter Sauber's offer of 45m euros was earlier turned down by BMW, which would accept about 65m for the team so long as the buyer can also guarantee a three-year spend in the range of 100m.

It is believed the Indian's consortium offer is around the 50m mark.

The report said the Indian deal involved the Swiss former Toro Rosso and Sauber test driver Neel Jani, whose father is Indian.

Jani signed up with an Indian sports management company this week, and in a statement said he is "committed to reaching the pinnacle of motor sport and when I do so, it would make me even more proud to know I have the support of India.

"My father is Indian and my mother Swiss, so although I've been brought up in Switzerland, my father has always insisted we stay connected to our Indian roots," he added.

Meanwhile, it is rumored that BMW motor sport director Mario Theissen is disgruntled with his current employer and keen to stay with the Hinwil based team in its new guise.

The German would not comment.

Porsche to cut sports car program, move monies to IndyCar?  UPDATE As we have rumored previously, Porsche participation in the dumbed down Grand Am Series is in doubt.  Motorsport.com has reported that Porsche will withdraw their engine, and any factory support from the Grand Am Series due to competitive issues. This comes off the back of Pontiac's withdrawal from the Series.  It is thought that Brumos will re-engineer a Cayenne engine for the back of their Daytona Prototype machine.

Penske, on the other hand is a bigger question. The team that withdrew from ALMS competition because of no factory dollars will surely withdraw from Grand Am with no factory dollars. But this may come back to their participation in other sportscar competitions.

Audi, closely linked with the Porsche family have been rumored to come back to the ALMS in 2010.

07/19/09 According to the Porsche Club of America's official monthly magazine "Panorama", Porsche will not be returning to the ALMS P1 or P2 class in 2010, and when the Penske Grand Am deal runs its course Porsche will only "race" its 911 type cars.

Meanwhile, according to German publication Der Spiegel, the two competing families, Porsche and Piech, that now own Porsche will agree on Thursday to accept VW’s offer, which would pay off part of Porsche’s more than $14 billion in debt.

Volkswagen would initially purchase a 49.9 percent stake in Porsche and acquire the rest at a later date, Der Spiegel said.

Porsche spokesman Anton Hunger disputed the Spiegel report, telling Reuters on Saturday that the company has received no information of such a decision, and that the German publication’s report was no more than speculation.

This deal, over a year in the making (Porsche tried to buy VW, but that failed and now the roles have reversed) and may be delaying VW's decision to enter IndyCar Racing.  It could be that after the acquisition, VW will race the Porsche brand and come to IndyCar with its favorite Porsche factory team - Penske. 

However, we doubt Porsche will want to compete their "elite" brand against Honda, which the consumers equate to  econo-boxes.  Perhaps Acura will have to replace the Honda brand in IndyCar for that to work.

Gilliland in the #21 at Atlanta  UPDATE #2 Bill Elliott has cracked three ribs riding his dirt bike. "It was just a freak deal," Elliott said. He said although he probably could have raced in pain, he decided to step out of the Wood Brothers Ford for this weekend's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway because he didn't want to jeopardize the team's chances of running well in the Pep Boys Auto 500. "I just decided that those boys had worked so hard on the car it wouldn't be fair for me to have a problem and mess them up," Elliott said. David Gilliland, who lost his regular ride to Bobby Labonte, will drive in Elliott's place this weekend. "He runs good at Atlanta, so they should be OK," Elliott said. "And I'll be back in the car for Kansas. Racin' Today

09/04/09  This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' now.  David Gilliland will be taking over the driving duties of the #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion this weekend for the Pep Boys Auto 500, filling in for Bill Elliott. Elliott is experiencing some back problems and uncertain how he will feel driving the car. Co-owner Eddie Wood stated, "Given the modified practice schedule where the practices and qualifying are all being done on Saturday, we didn't feel there was enough time to make changes to the seat if Bill wasn't comfortable and we needed to get another driver. We called David to see if he was available. Thankfully he was and agreed to help." Gilliland has 6 starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway with his best finish (15th) coming in 2006. Wood Brothers Racing

09/04/09 The Wood Brothers just announced David Gilliland to drive the #21 car this weekend in Atlanta. A press release with more details is coming soon. Motorcraft's Facebook page
Gilliland in fourth Gibbs car this year?  UPDATE #2 The JGR deal actually initiated the deal for TRG Motorsports to sign Labonte after the 2000 Cup champion was pulled from the #96 Ford at Hall of Fame/Yates Racing in favor of Erik Darnell for seven of the final 12 events. Gilliland had made 22 of 24 events for TRG Motorsports and ranks 37th in points in the #71. Sources said the decision to go with Gilliland was to satisfy a contract with Farm Bureau to compete in three Cup events and does not necessarily mean the organization will expand to a fourth full-time team in 2010. Officials at JGR were not available for comment. ESPN

09/04/09 David Gilliland, who earlier this week was replaced by Bobby Labonte for seven races at #71 TRG Motorsports, will attempt to qualify a fourth Sprint Cup car at Joe Gibbs Racing for three of the final 12 events, multiple sources told ESPN.com on Friday. Gilliland will compete at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, Texas and Homestead-Miami in a car sponsored by Farm Bureau

07/11/09 It's been a tough road for former Yates driver David Gilliland this season. Gilliland, who was 21st in the #28 Ford for Doug Yates at this juncture last year, has qualified for every race in the #71 TRG Motorsports Chevy. Gilliland has been a loyal soldier in the start-n-park venture and is currently 43rd in the point standings. However, it appears he will have a reprieve — at the hand of Joe Gibbs Racing. Gilliland, 33, is expected to drive the fourth JGR car in four races at the end of this season. Fox Sports
SuperGP to name sponsor  Rumor has it that a sponsorship announcement regards the naming rights sponsorship of the SuperGP will be made in pit lane by SuperGP General Manager Greg Hooton and a representative of the new naming rights sponsor on Monday September 7.
FIA to make decision on Epsilon Euskadi expects team soon  (GMM)  The FIA is expected to make its decision about the winner of the thirteenth F1 team slot for 2010 "in two weeks".

That is the information provided to the Spanish news agency EFE by the engineer Sergio Rinland, who is involved in Joan Villedelprat's apparent bid for the entry for his Spanish outfit Epsilon Euskadi.

Following BMW's decision to quit formula one at the end of the season, the sport's governing body invited teams to re-apply to join F1's new outfits USF1, Manor and Campos on the 2010 grid.

Alongside Epsilon Euskadi and other hopeful entrants, BMW-Sauber has also applied for the spot in the hope that a buyer can be found for the Hinwil based team.

Renault cheat hearing would be 21 September  (GMM)  The FIA will decide by the end of this week whether or not to convene a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in the wake of the investigation about Nelson Piquet's Singapore 2008 crash.

The Spanish newspaper Diario AS said F1's governing body is currently going through the evidence relating to the claims, but has penciled in a possible hearing in Paris for September 21, the Monday before this month's edition of the Singapore night race.

If summoned, Renault would face serious cheating and disrepute charges and the risk of expulsion from formula one.

Senior team members including boss Flavio Briatore, Fernando Alonso and Pat Symonds are said to have been interviewed at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend, and some data-collecting devices taken away for investigation.

Massa confronted Briatore about Piquet crash  (GMM)  Felipe Massa suspected Nelson Piquet crashed deliberately at Singapore last year and confronted Flavio Briatore about the incident in person, it has emerged.

It had been presumed in recent days that the source of the accusation must have been Piquet and his famous father, still furious after being recently ousted by Renault boss Briatore.

But reports this week suggest that Brazilian Massa, who drives for Ferrari, immediately suspected that Piquet had been asked to crash on purpose so that the safety car would emerge and the sister Renault of Fernando Alonso win the race.

"He crashed in a very strange way," TV Globo commentator Reginaldo Leme is quoted as saying.

"It struck me when I was talking recently with Felipe Massa.  Felipe had gone to Briatore and said, 'This crash was not right, it happened because you wanted it to'." More ...

Ferrari to announce Badoer replacement on Thursday  (GMM)  With Felipe Massa still recovering from injury, Ferrari is to announce its plans for the Italian grand prix and beyond on Thursday.

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport said there are three alternatives for the cockpit of car number three for Monza: the struggling Luca Badoer, Giancarlo Fisichella, or BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica.

Badoer is considered the least likely of the trio to be given the nod, given his failure to be competitive in the seat at Valencia and again last weekend at Spa.

The candidatures of both Fisichella and Kubica, meanwhile, are fascinating.

Force India's Vijay Mallya is adamant the Roman Fisichella is staying put, given his pole position and podium in Belgium and the likelihood that the VJM02 will also be quick at the ultra high-speed Monza circuit.

However, it is reported that his team owes Ferrari more than 4 million euros dating back to the terminated engine supply agreement of last year, and that the Maranello based might tempt Mallya by offering to forgive the debt. More ...

F1 'Silly season' overdrive as driver market churns  (GMM)  With just five races left to run in 2009, the so-called driver market 'silly season' for next year has shifted into high gear.

With key names like Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen on the move, vacant cockpits at McLaren and Renault, and teams set both to depart and join the grid, the media airwaves are filled with rumors about the constitution of the 2010 championship.

At Williams, both Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima could be leaving, to be replaced possibly by rookie Nico Hulkenberg and the team's former driver Nick Heidfeld, who like Robert Kubica is on the market due to BMW's impending departure.

Kubica, however, appears to be on Renault's radar, with the French team needing to replace the almost certainly Ferrari-bound Alonso. More ...

This may be why VW/Porsche wanted IRL to switch to 4-cyclinder engines  Sports car maker Porsche is prepared, if necessary, to re-introduce four-cylinder models in response to heightening political and social pressure over the environment.

Speaking at the Australian launch of the new 911 range, the engineer responsible for the company's powertrains, Thomas Krickelberg, said the car's entirely new six-cylinder engines could fairly easily be reduced in capacity or adapted to a boxer-four if circumstances dictated such a change.

"(There are) the discussions about global warming and the need to reduce fuel consumption," Mr. Krickelberg said. "There is the matter of social acceptance, of social responsibility of our cars.

"The target was to have a six-cylinder because that is the criteria of the 911 and the Boxster. But there is still the option to reduce the number of cylinders." More ...

DirecTV to drop VERSUS, blow to IRL  UPDATE #6 A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, Here is some info I have collected on this topic from a few different forums, avsforum and dbstalk.

My understanding is that DirecTV pays $0.18 per subscriber for Versus now.  It is also my understanding that Versus wants them to pay $0.30.  Versus can call it what they want, but in my book, it is a price increase.  Market price is only what the market will bear, and it appears that the satellite market (or at least half of it) will not bear this.  Bottom line is what was the IRL thinking signing up with a channel owned by one of the service providers.  They should have seen this coming a mile away.

Here are some samples of prices paid for other channels by DirecTV.

From an AVS forum thread:
A&E $ 0.25
Golf $ 0.26
Lifetime $0.26
AMC $ 0.24
TLC $ 0.23
E! $ 0.23
Family $0.22
History Channel $0.21
National Geographic $ 0.20
SyFy $ 0.20
Spike $0.20
Speed $ 0.19
CNBC $ 0.18
Bravo $ 0.17
ESPN Classic $ 0.17
ESPN News $ 0.16
BET $ 0.15
MSNBC $ 0.15
Tennis $0.15
Soap $ 0.14
Style $ 0.14
VH1 $ 0.14
Comedy Central $0.12
Fox Business Network $0.12
Hallmark Channel $ 0.12
WGN $ 0.12
BBC America $ 0.11
Game Show Network $ 0. 11
HGTV $0.11
Weather Channel $ 0.11
Biography $ 0.10
Travel $0.10
TV Land $0.10
Oxygen $ 0.09
Lifetime Movie Net $ 0.09
truTV $ 0.09
CMT $ 0.08
Fuse $ 0.08
G4 $ 0.08
Animal Planet $ 0.07
Food Network $0.07
Military $ 0.07
VH1 Classic $ 0.06
Great American Country $ 0.02

Main Source: SNL Kagan Research
Bob from Illinois

09/01/09 Versus President Jamie Davis angrily dismissed DirecTV claims that talks between the two ended over pricing. "They've been out publicly talking about price increases," Davis said. "The fact is that those market increases aren't true. We're simply asking them to pay what the other providers are paying."

DirecTV said Versus was seeking a "more than 20% hike." Davis: "DirecTV wanted to take Versus away from 6 million subscribers who were receiving it for no additional cost. That was simply not acceptable for us." Versus reached 14 million DirecTV homes, but the provider wanted to drop it to a lower tier.

Davis was even more angry at DirecTV's characterization of Versus as "a paid programming and infomercial channel with occasional sporting events." Given the IRL's TV ratings, that's a pretty fair analogy.

The move drops Versus' household distribution by about 14 million homes, putting it at about 61.5 million homes. By comparison, ESPN and ESPN2 are in about 99 million homes, Golf Channel is in 81 million and Speed is in 74 million. Essentially, DirecTV is complaining that Versus wants too much money for a network, making a point to highlight the network's paid programming and hunting-and-fishing blocks, which DirecTV said sometimes makes up 10 hours of the channel's 24-hour schedule

09/01/09 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

08/30/09 A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, Here's another one for you regarding the IRL's awful package with Versus.  I have WideOpenWest as a cable provider (their "Chicagoland" market) which is bundled with my land line and internet, but WOW doesn't even carry Versus.  I've only been able to watch races when they've been on ABC this year.  It's also not carried in WOW's "Chicago City" market.

By the way, I had two free tickets to last night's race at Chicagoland, and I didn't even want to go because it started at 9:00 PM.  I only live 30 minutes from the track.  However, I thought that with cautions, an outside chance of a rain delay, and getting out of the parking lot, I wouldn't get home until maybe 1:00 AM or later.  Besides, I wanted to get up early and watch the Belgian F1 GP.  (OK, maybe getting out of the parking lot wouldn't have been a big deal because they certainly weren't going to fill the place, anyway.)  Who was responsible for selecting that late starting time?  It was even worse for you folks in the Eastern time zone.  How many people want to watch a race starting at 10:00 PM EDT?

Yes, things can't get much worse.  Paul J., Chicago

08/30/09 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. Messages during Saturday night's IndyCar event:

Versus scrolling message: "You are about to lose Versus on DirecTV.  To keep Versus, call 1-800-642-1923 or go to www.versus.com to switch to another video provider, all of which carry Versus."

Versus Advertisement, ten minutes later: "To Keep Versus on DirecTV, call 1-800-642-1923."

DirecTV scrolling message, ten minutes later: "Comcast is demanding that DirecTV drop Versus after August 31 unless DirecTV agrees to Comcast's unreasonable demands.  Go to DirecTV.com/Versus for more information."

Never seen anything like it.  Amateurish.  If IndyCar loses exposure on DirecTV, they had better have an out from the 10-year deal (death sentence) they signed with Versus.  Just when we thought ratings could not go lower.....ESPN reports that the IRL's Terry Angstadt said he is "very" confident that the Versus network, which televises IndyCar races, will resolve a standoff with satellite television provider DirecTV.

08/22/09 A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, I was watching qualifying for Sonoma on Direct TV and they are running a tag at the bottom of the screen that says Versus has not reached an agreement with Direct TV and this channel might not be available after August 31st, 2009.  I don’t know how big the Direct TV audience is but I would imagine pretty large.  If the IRL blows this one and doesn’t have a contingency for this type of thing, my already low level of respect for the IRL will be even worse.  Bruce Guthrie, Charlotte, NC

Dear Bruce, Let's not forget that Versus is owned by Comcast and DirecTV is a competitor of Comcast, so don't think for one minute either side is going to help each other.  If Versus loses DirecTV it will cement our position that the Versus deal will ultimately be the IRL's undoing.  And to top it off they signed a 10-year deal. That's 10 years of abysmal TV ratings.  Even thought they do a good job, Versus will never be a go-to channel for TV viewers because there are now 100s of TV channels available to watch, so the viewer base is fractured more than it ever was.  The best thing that could happen to the IRL at this point is for the Hulman George family sell it to NASCAR where it can be rolled into their excellent TV package.  Put a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver like Gordon, Stewart or Busch in some races and watch the TV ratings shoot up, which would help the league and the teams land new sponsors.  The only thing the family has to make sure of is that the contract ensures that the France family not kill off Indy Car Racing after buying it, and that the Indy 500 always be run with open wheel IndyCars.  Mark C.

Another reader writes, Dear AR1.com, Is there any way that the IndyCar Series can break their contract with Versus? I just had my Versus channel shut off from the Dish Network (another competitor of Comcast) because the rates on my Satellite dish for the non-standard package channels was way too expensive, plus this is starting to be a disaster move to Versus, they need to have their races on NBC and CBS.  Alistair Fannell

08/21/09 It is possible DirecTV may drop the Versus channel, which will lower the IRL's TV ratings from miniscule to essentially non-existent.  Here is what DirecTV has to say about the situation:

You may have seen a message on your TV screen saying that you may no longer receive the Versus channel after August 31, 2009. DIRECTV is in contract negotiations with Versus and we're making every effort to keep the channel on the air without interruption.

For more information, please read our FAQs below.

On-Screen message says I may lose Versus. Why?
We're in contract negotiations with Versus. The contract doesn't expire until August 31, 2009, so you'll continue to receive the channel from DIRECTV until then.

What happens if you can't reach an agreement?
We hope to reach an agreement prior to the expiration of the contract, but if we don't Versus may be removed from DIRECTV. More ...

Keselowski departure leaves a hole at JR Motorsports  JR Motorsports is considering several drivers for its two NASCAR Nationwide Series teams next year, team spokesman Mike Davis said Tuesday, although he declined to identify them.

The team’s main driver for the last two seasons, Brad Keselowski, is leaving for Penske Racing. Keselowski finished third in points driving the No. 88 car last year and is third in the points this year in that car.

“We have several things in the works for sponsorship, including ongoing discussions with current partners as well as new ones,” Davis said in an email Tuesday. “Obviously, we are considering several drivers for the No. 88 car, as well as the No. 5. We anticipate the setup would be similar to this year’s. Dale Jr. intends to run several Nationwide races in 2010, just as he has this year.”

Fastenal, a partial sponsor on the No. 5 car, has announced that it will sponsor Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards next year. Scenedaily.com [So we are not really too sure what JR Motorsports has left.  Sounds like nothing.]

track news
Tony George to become Chairman of board at IMS?  UPDATE Robin Miller writes to say "I was on a radio show yesterday and they asked if there was anything new at the top of the IMS/IRL food chain and I told them no, the rumor at Chicago was that Mari was stepping down as chairman and TG would take her place. I prefaced it by saying that was also the hot rumor last April and, obviously, it didn't happen then either."

09/01/09 Robin Miller rumored in a recent interview that Tony George may become chairman of the board at IMS.
Kubica to replace Badoer at Monza  (GMM)  With Force India wanting to hang on to Giancarlo Fisichella, the latest driver in "pole position" for Luca Badoer's temporary Ferrari race seat is Robert Kubica, according to Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday.

The Polish driver, 24, is reportedly keen on the drive in the wake of his current employer BMW's decision to pull out of formula one at the end of the season.

It had been thought that Ferrari might simply persevere with the struggling Badoer if Felipe Massa's return to car number 3 was nigh, but on Tuesday it emerged that the Brazilian is not likely to be fit enough until the start of the 2010 season.

However, the highly rated Kubica moving to Ferrari would leave the Italian team with an embarrassment of riches, given that Massa and Kimi Raikkonen are already under contract for next year, as according to strong speculation is the Spaniard Fernando Alonso.

In response to the La Gazzetta report, BMW team boss Mario Theissen told the German news agency SID: "That's all just speculation.  There's nothing to it."

Keselowski to Penske next year?  UPDATE #8 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement by Penske Racing.

08/31/09 Brad Keselowski remained noncommittal this weekend at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on his future in NASCAR, though he did say an announcement on his plans will come "shortly." Keselowski, a full-time Nationwide Series driver for JR Motorsports and a part-time Sprint Cup driver for Hendrick Motorsports and Phoenix Racing, is rumored to be joining Penske Racing in 2010 - perhaps running both series full time for the team. Keselowski has said he wanted to drive full time in both series, and those plans remain in place. "I'm confident that I will run full time in both series next season," he said. If he joins Penske, he could be a teammate to Justin Allgaier in the Nationwide Series. Allgaier said Saturday he told Penske officials he didn't want to know about the team's plans until they were official. SceneDaily

Brad Keselowski
08/27/09 Brad Keselowski declined to comment on reports he'll drive in the Sprint Cup Series for Penske Racing next year, but he did indicate Thursday to Sporting News he won't be back in JR Motorsports' Nationwide car next season. Asked whether he expected to return to JRM, Keselowski said, "At this time, no," during a boat tour of the Old Port in Montreal. Kelly Bires reportedly is the leading candidate to replace Keselowski in the #88 JRM Chevy. "I heard that, too," Keselowski said when asked about the possibility of Bires driving for JRM. "It's hard to tell. I know they've talked to a number of drivers, and I wish them the best on whoever gets in there, and I expect big things from them, as I'm sure the team does. "I look forward to seeing somebody get the opportunity that I got." Keselowski's departure from JRM lends credence to reports, which surfaced last week at Bristol, that he'll join Penske Racing [with the #12 team]. Team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. has said if Keselowski were to drive a car make other than Chevy in the Cup Series, that would preclude him for driving for JRM's Nationwide program. Sporting News/NASCAR.com More ...
Toyota to lose Glock  
This Toyota official mug shot made Glock look anemic
(GMM)  Even though Toyota boss John Howett has indicated the driver will be retained for 2010, Timo Glock is looking around on the market.

The Japanese team has an option for next year on the 27-year-old German and is happy particularly with his race form, but the Toyota board has delayed the approval of the Cologne based team's 2010 budget until November.

It means Toyota's driver options could be severely limited if the green light for 2010 is given at such a late stage, with top drivers like Kimi Raikkonen potentially available but currently linked instead with outfits like Renault, McLaren and Brawn.

Glock told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "I cannot sit idly and hope that everything is going to go well."

The Toyota uncertainty also explains why Williams is said to be seriously considering a switch to customer Renault power for 2010. More ...

Williams team to pass on Hulkenberg?  
Nico Hulkenberg
(GMM)  Williams will decide "in the coming weeks" whether to sign Nico Hulkenberg as a race driver for the 2010 season.

The British team has an option on the likely 2009 GP2 champion, but also potentially on the market are highly rated established drivers including Kimi Raikkonen, Robert Kubica, Heikki Kovalainen, Jarno Trulli, Rubens Barrichello, Nick Heidfeld and Timo Glock.

"We have a contract with Hulkenberg and in the coming weeks it will be decided what we are going to do," technical director Sam Michael told Germany's Auto Bild Motorsport.

For Williams, much depends on Nico Rosberg, who is expected to switch to McLaren next year, but the driver market is unlikely to move significantly until the plans of F1's top driver Fernando Alonso are clear. More ...

Spa to alternate with Nurburgring  The organisers of the Belgian Grand Prix have confirmed that annually alternating their Formula One race with the Nurburgring is an option for the future.

Based on an article in the La Libre newspaper earlier this week, we reported that Spa-Francorchamps - with a contract through 2012 - is contemplating the option because it cannot afford to pay the race fees to Bernie Ecclestone every twelve months. Chief Belgian GP organiser Etienne Davignon on Sunday confirmed the event makes a loss every year and that talks with the F1 chief executive about an alternate plan are underway.

"If we alternate the race, for example with the Nurburgring - and I don't know if they are interested or not - then we keep the fans that come to F1, we get more income, and that goes against the loss," he said.

Spa and the Nurburgring, in Germany, are separated by geography in western Europe by merely 120 kilometres.

Davignon said alternating with F1's other German host had also been an option, but Hockenheim is expected to have a regular annual date on the F1 calendars of the future.
Fisi concedes 'rumors' about Force India health  UPDATE #2 (GMM)  Vijay Mallya on Saturday played down rumors about the health of his formula one team Force India.

Paradoxically for the Indian billionaire, the reports of financial problems for his Silverstone-based outfit coincided with a shock pole position for his driver Giancarlo Fisichella at Spa-Francorchamps.

The Force India team celebrated the historic feat in the Belgian paddock on Saturday, but they are housed this weekend in a former MotoGP motor home, amid rumors their grander paddock presence stayed away for fear of disgruntled unpaid creditors.

It is also rumored that Mallya is reconsidering his investment in F1 at present, due to the downturn in business in his core airline and alcohol companies.

"There must be a lot of wrong information around," he is quoted as saying by F1's official website, arguing that the beer and spirits industry is actually thriving.

As for his airline, he insisted that "my finances do not depend on the airline and neither do Force India's finances depend on the performance of any of my companies".

"Force India is securely funded and I am committed to stay here as everybody knows," Mallya added. More ...

Heidfeld to DTM  (GMM)  Nick Heidfeld has played down suggestions he might switch with BMW to the German touring car series DTM in 2010.

Shortly after the German manufacturer announced it will withdraw at the end of the season, it was rumored BMW might turn instead to the more affordable DTM.

Heidfeld, 32, is also yet to confirm his plans for 2010.

"My attention at the moment is completely on formula one," the German said in an interview with sport1.de.  "Whether BMW is going to DTM, I don't know.

"You would be better to ask (BMW-Sauber team boss) Mario Theissen," Heidfeld added.

Schumacher back in 2010?  UPDATE (GMM)  Ferrari wants to field a third car in grands prix beginning next year, and Michael Schumacher to be at the wheel, team boss Stefano Domenicali confirmed at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday.

President Luca di Montezemolo has already hinted at the concept, which would require a change in the sporting regulations and therefore the agreement of the other teams, Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA.

"(Referring) to Michael, it is correct to say that, if everything is fine, why not see him in one of our cars?" Domenicali said in an interview with the Times newspaper.

The Italian has already ruled out Schumacher, 40, returning this year to replace the injured Felipe Massa, as the German is currently recovering from his own injuries.

Schumacher, whose deal as a team advisor is set to expire, and his manager Willi Weber are scheduled to sit down for contract talks with Ferrari at Monza next month.

The German newspaper Bild on Friday wondered aloud in a headline: "Will Schumi's new Ferrari contract be as a driver?" More ...

Raikkonen hints at Ferrari departure, eyes other seats  (GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen on Friday admitted for the first time the possibility he will leave Ferrari at the end of the season.

And interestingly, although his potential departure has been linked with a full-time switch to rallying, the 29-year-old Finn said no matter what happens, he is staying in formula one.

"If for some reason I am not at Ferrari next season I know I'll have a seat at another team in the paddock," he is quoted as saying by Britain's Daily Telegraph.  "It's not a problem.  Other teams want me."

His comments coincide with increasing speculation that Ferrari has now signed a binding contract with Fernando Alonso and needs to part with either of its existing contracted drivers for 2010: Raikkonen, or the recovering Felipe Massa.

It is believed an amicable split between Ferrari and Raikkonen is likely, but it will cost the Italian team millions as his engagement next year would have earned him in excess of $45m. More ...

RPM to Toyota?  UPDATE #6 It appears Richard Petty Motorsports will not move from Dodge to Toyota next season. At least that's the impression that Lee White, who heads Toyota Racing Development, gave last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. White said he believes that Mike Accaviti, the president of the Dodge brand, is doing all he can to keep RPM in the fold. He also said that would be a good thing, that the sport needs all four manufacturers to be strong. He actually seemed to wish them luck and didn't seemed bothered that Toyota will not be welcoming in another organization. It makes sense -- Toyota's interest in RPM was tweaked when Red Bull Racing appeared set to leave the fold for General Motors and an association with Hendrick Motorsports. Now that Red Bull is set to re-sign with Toyota, there is not the urgency to get another organization. Having said that, there are no guarantees that RPM will be back with Dodge even if Toyota is out of the picture. The organization has had talks with General Motors as well. But all signs point to Dodge fielding cars for RPM and Penske Racing moving forward. ESPN Insider

08/12/09 Multiple sources at Richard Petty Motorsports tell Sirius Speedway that RPM is still mulling the possibility of moving its entire operation to the Toyota camp in 2010. RPM spokesmen have downplayed reports of a possible manufacturer switch in recent weeks, but sources say that talks are ongoing with both Dodge and Toyota. No decisions have been made, but in an attempt to cover all their bases, the team recently had a series of publicity photos taken of Kasey Kahne and a Budweiser-sponsored #9 Toyota Camry. Sirius Speedway

07/04/09 Chrysler is working on a deal to pay off some of its debt to Richard Petty Motorsports, co-owner Richard Petty said on Friday at Daytona International Speedway. Petty said last month that Chrysler's bankruptcy put cash flow from the manufacturer to the organization on hold. The subsequent layoff of nine RPM employees also was blamed on anticipated cuts from the bankruptcy. "They've stopped everything,'' he said of Chrysler's support. Petty said on Friday that RPM should expect some money soon. "Yeah, we'll get some money from them,'' he said. "Right now we're in the process of figuring out exactly what they can do to get back to us to see what we can do." Petty's initial comments increased speculation that RPM may leave Dodge for Toyota after this season. The organization is in the final year of its contract and has partnered with Toyota's Braun Racing for five Nationwide Series races in 2009. ESPN.com

Braun Racing Nationwide Series team announced that Great Clips, Inc., will return for another three seasons to sponsor the #38 Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Jason Leffler will pilot the #38 Great Clips Camry for 27 of the 35 scheduled races while Kasey Kahne will drive the #38 in the remaining eight races. Braun Racing PR

06/24/09 Tuesday, June 23rd on “Sirius Speedway” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, host Dave Moody spoke with NASCAR legend Richard Petty. Petty was asked about the rumors that Richard Petty Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne might be switching from a Dodge to a Toyota.

Host, Dave Moody: “Lot of rumors swirling around about Kasey Kahne and a possible affiliation with Toyota, on again, off again, conversations that may or may not be happening. What can you tell us on that, if anything?”
Richard Petty: “Exactly what you just said. That’s how much I know about it, too. It’s all swirling around. You grab some of it. I don’t really know, okay? And I don’t think anybody knows right now exactly where we’re sitting, what we’re gonna do, what’s gonna happen, you know, three weeks from now let alone the beginning of next year. We’re like everybody else. We’re trying to put ourselves together with our sponsor deals, make sure we’ve got monetary deals to be able to go do the deal. Then we’re going to look at whatever we think is going to be the best for Richard Petty Motorsports in the short run and the long run. Because after being here for 50 or 60 years anyway I’m not looking for a quick fix, okay? We’re trying to put stuff together so that we can go on down the road next year, the year after next, the year after that. What happens? I don’t know. We’re open about anything right now to look at. So we’re going to put everything on the table and then we’re going to say, ‘Okay, this happens and that happens and this over here happens.’ Then we hope we’ll make the right decisions on where we go. Other than that, that’s about all I know about it.” More ...

Danica to bare all  Recently as I’ve since learned from two Bristol-based sources that in October ESPN The Magazine will roll out a “nude issue”, with the edition featuring SI Swimsuit Issue favorite Danica Patrick. SportsByBrooks
Bahrain, not Australia, may open 2010 calendar  (GMM)  Melbourne could lose its place at the very top of next year's formula one calendar, it was rumored in the Spa-Francorchamps paddock on Thursday.

It was suggested that due to the daylight saving changeover in the Australian city next March and the 'twilight' race start time, Bahrain could instead slot into an earlier date to kick off the 2010 championship.

Bernie Ecclestone showed team bosses an early version of the provisional calendar last Sunday at Valencia, when apparently the idea of the Australian grand prix being round two in 2010 instead of the season opener was mooted.

"Both scenarios are in discussion, but I haven't seen a finalized calendar," BMW team boss Mario Theissen told reporters in Belgium.

Melbourne has hosted the first race of the F1 season since 1996, except in 2006 when a clash with the Commonwealth Games was avoided by instead putting Bahrain to the top of the calendar.

Sutil likely to stay with Force India  (GMM)  Adrian Sutil on Thursday indicated he would not mind remaining with the Force India team for 2010.

The 26-year-old German, who debuted for the Silverstone based squad's former guise Spyker in 2007, said at Spa-Francorchamps: "At the moment everything is open, but staying here is a very good option.

"They were my first team in formula one and I have a very strong connection with them," Sutil added, according to the German news agency SID.

Despite the progress made by Force India this year, neither Sutil nor his teammate Giancarlo Fisichella has scored a point so far.

It is believed that the Italian veteran Fisichella's seat is to be taken by the test driver Tonio Liuzzi for 2010.  Fisichella told reporters his chances of staying in F1 at present are just "50-50".

Another piece of news from Belgium on Thursday is that Toro Rosso is very likely to race with an unchanged lineup comprising Ferrari engines and drivers Sebastien Buemi and Jaimie Alguersuari in 2010.

Irwin Tools leaving Roush?  Irwin Tools appears to be ending its relationship with Roush Fenway Racing. In a release discussing the company's new title sponsorship of the August race at Bristol Motor Speedway - the Irwin Tools Night Race - the company stated that it was time for a "new chapter" for the company. The company has been a mainstay in the sport since 2003, serving as a primary car sponsor for Roush Fenway Racing. During that span, drivers Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray both won races in company-sponsored Fords while Busch won the NASCAR Cup championship with that sponsorship in 2004. McMurray has been sponsored by Irwin this season. "It's been a great ride with Roush Fenway Racing," said Eric Pinkham, Newell Rubbermaid's Vice President, sponsorship and event marketing. "They clearly helped us put Irwin Tools on the map, and we appreciate what they've done for the Irwin brand. Now it's time for a new chapter for Irwin."  SceneDaily
Todt as FIA president could help restore French GP  (GMM)  The president of France's motor racing federation believes having Jean Todt as FIA president would boost his country's chances of returning soon to the formula one calendar.

Fellow Frenchman and former Ferrari boss Todt is contesting October's elections to replace the departing Max Mosley against the Finn Ari Vatanen.

"We obviously support Jean Todt," Nicolas Deschaux, president of the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile (FFSA), is quoted as saying by the French newspaper La Tribune.

"His career speaks for itself," he added. More ...

Who will drive for USF1 team?  UPDATE #2 Cars and sponsors are essential, but the question the racing public wants answered is: Who will be the drivers for the US F1 team?

Danica Patrick, Kyle Busch and Scott Speed have ruled out their involvement. Windsor has a short list, but he's not revealing who is on it. It seems likely that in the first year, US F1 will have a young American teamed with a veteran F1 driver, and a second American will be the reserve and test driver. The team likely would evolve into two American drivers by the second or third season.

"We're looking at that scenario right now," Windsor said. "We need to make the effort to get Americans in our car. That was always our goal and it still our goal."

Jonathan Summerton, Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay are the leading American candidates, according to sources. Summerton has a European racing background, with a victory in Euro Formula 3. He's also the only American to have won in A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. Other drivers who have raced in the series for A1 Team USA include Speed, Marco Andretti and Buddy Rice. Rahal and Hunter-Reay have both won IndyCar races.  SI.com

Marco Andretti
The USA F1 team already has picked an American and it's not Marco rumors Robin Miller.

08/18/09  An anonymous tipster tells us we should not leave Marco Andretti off our list of drivers that will drive for the USF1 team in 2010.  The teams wants to hire at least one experienced F1 driver and one young American.  Marco's contract with the IRL AGR team is up after this year, so the timing is perfect.
Chrysler dropping lifetime warranty  Rumor has it that Chrysler is dropping its lifetime powertrain coverage in favor of a more conventional five-year/100,000 mile plan that's fully transferable from one owner to the next. The new warranty will reportedly cover all Chrysler, Dodge (minus the Sprinter van) and Jeep models and extends to the high-performance SRT models, fleet sales and police cruisers as well – vehicles the old lifetime program didn't cover.
Ferrari eyeing Bortolotti?  Reports link Italian to second seat at Maranello squad

  Formula Two race winner Mirko Bortolotti continues to be linked with the second race seat at the Ferrari F1 team in the absence of the injured Felipe Massa.

  The role is currently occupied by long-term Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer, who drove for the team last time out in Valencia (22/23 August) and will keep his position for the next round at Spa-Francorchamps. Speculation is rife, however, that Badoer may be replaced after Spa and Bortolotti is being touted as a possible candidate for the drive. More ...
Renault may use KERS at Monza  (GMM)  Renault is considering re-installing KERS to its formula one cars for the forthcoming Italian grand prix.

The French team abandoned the energy recovery technology earlier this season, but believe the 80 horse power boost may be worth the set-up compromises on the long straights of the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.

"We don't plan to use it in Spa, but we're considering it for Monza as we believe it will provide a real advantage there," said technical director Bob Bell on Wednesday.

Brawn to replace Virgin with Emirates  (GMM)  Current sponsor Virgin will leave Brawn at the end of the year but new deals are in place for 2010, according to team chief executive Nick Fry.

The Daily Express newspaper said Fry confirmed the impending departure of Sir Richard Branson's famous brand, which is switching to the new Manor team, to be known probably as 'Virgin F1' next year.

Fry however said contracts are already in place to replace Virgin, and the Daily Express said one of them could be with the airline Emirates.

"We have zero worries on funding," the Briton is quoted as saying.

British F3
Ricciardo tipped for Red Bull F1 test  (GMM)  Young Australian Daniel Ricciardo will likely test for Red Bull Racing due to his strong form in the British F3 series in 2009, team boss Christian Horner has revealed.

The 20-year-old has achieved five wins, four poles and ten podiums and is currently leading the championship.  He will automatically qualify for a F1 Super License if he is crowned champion.

"Dan is clearly doing a very good job in F3 and he's done very well in the (F1) simulator work that he's done with us already," Horner told Motorsport News.  "We'll keep an eye on how he does for the rest of the season and maybe give him a run out on a young driver day."

Despite the severe restrictions on track testing in F1, three days for young driver training are reserved per team at the conclusion of the race calendar. Ricciardo, meanwhile, said he hoped to also do some straight-line testing in the F1 car. The reigning British F3 world champion is Jaime Alguersuari.

Brawn to keep Barrichello in 2010  (GMM)  Brawn boss Ross Brawn has suggested the Brackley based team will likely field an unchanged driver lineup in 2010.  Currently, the Mercedes powered cars are piloted by championship leader Jenson Button, and the Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello, who at the age of 37 won his first race of the season at Valencia last weekend.

Rubens Barrichello
"There is no good reasons not to keep them," Briton Brawn is quoted as saying by the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell.  "They are both doing a very good job and I think after Spa we will look at it more closely.  Until now we have had other things to take care of," he added.

Some commentators have suggested that at 37 and with more grands prix under his belt than any other driver in F1's history, Barrichello's best days may be behind him.

Team chief executive Nick Fry commented: "You always have to look towards the future, but if we go into next year with Jenson and Rubens, we will surely be very successful." More ...

Lloyd nearing deal with NHLR  UPDATE #2 Alex Lloyd is expected to reach an agreement with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing to drive its No. 06 car in the final two races of the IndyCar season and perhaps all of 2010. Lloyd will bring the HER sponsorship that was with him in the Indianapolis 500. AutoWeek

Alex Lloyd
08/16/09 "We've been talking to teams about 2010, but it would be great to get experience heading into the off-season," Lloyd told this week's AUTOSPORT.

"We kept working for something there [Ganassi] but nothing materialized like we'd hoped. There were a lot of disappointments out of my control and leaving Ganassi means I can jump in a car if a chance comes up."

08/10/09 Alex Lloyd, who finished 13th in the Indianapolis 500 in his only IndyCar race of the season, has been talking about taking a sponsorship package to Newman/ Haas/Lanigan Racing for 2010.

It's possible they could partner in the final two races of this season.

Lloyd said the "focus is on 2010 mainly" but he is working on '09.

N/H/L had a shakeup prior to Mid-Ohio, with Robert Doornbos moving to HVM Racing. He was replaced by Oriol Servia, who will run at least one more race, Aug. 23 at Sonoma, Calif. Indy Star

Changes at RCR?  Changes are coming at Richard Childress Racing. "We're getting ready to make a lot of changes to hopefully change the performance," Team owner Richard Childress said last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. He wouldn't get any more specific, but those close to the situation said there will be some major restructuring announced early this week that hopefully will improve performance. The organization already has made some changes within the teams to put the best at-the-track personnel with Clint Bowyer, the only one of RCR's four drivers with a shot at the Chase. Bowyer is 15th in points, 112 points out with two races remaining before the field is set. Jeff Burton is 18th, Casey Mears is 20th and Kevin Harvick is 24th. Childress has already switched the crew chiefs of Harvick and Mears in an attempt to improve performance, so any further changes likely will come in a shakeup of managerial or engineering structure. ESPN
Prodrive to buy Force India?  (GMM) Vijay Mallya has scotched rumors he might be about to sell his formula one team.

The Indian billionaire's Force India outfit has been making progress in 2009, but according to speculation at Valencia, he might be in talks with Prodrive about selling the Silverstone based team.

David Richards failed to be selected by the FIA despite bidding for one of the new team entries for 2010.

Force India has therefore been mentioned as another possible route into F1 for Prodrive, given its established relationships with Richards' preferred partners McLaren and Mercedes.

"This is the first time I've ever heard of it," Mallya told GPWeek.

"As far as I am concerned nothing has changed. I don't know where all this speculation comes from. I haven't been approached and I have no intention in selling out," he added.
Jim France trying to woo Toyota  NASCAR's Jim France is expressing quite an interest in Toyota's planned new sports car, designed specifically for the American audience, and long-pushed by U.S. executives to put some pzzazz in the company's rather staid product line.  France would like Toyota to run that model in NASCAR's Grand American series.  According to some reports, that new Toyota would be a rear-wheel drive coupe. It is unclear if the new model might be a possible competitor for the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro, or if it might be something quite different.  Toyota officials, in announcing the new car, said "we must reinvent the automobile."  MikeMulhern.net

[Editor's Note: Meanwhile there are unconfirmed rumors that Toyota will pull its Lexus brand out of Grand-Am.  If true, why would Toyota want to run this new sports car in Grand-Am?  We did learn this weekend at Infineon Raceway during the IndyCar weekend that Chip Ganassi is planning on fielding cars in Grand-Am next year, so that may indicate the Lexus rumor is false, or that they just have not made a final decision yet, or that Ganassi would run a different engine in the cars he has.]
Schumacher may test F1 car again soon - manager  UPDATE Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali, when asked by Autosport about rumors Schumacher was continuing physical training to prepare for a comeback, said: "I'm happy he is training, but what I can absolutely rule out is that Michael can return this year as a racing driver."

"It would have been tough for Michael, because it's a difficult track and it's new," he explained. "Obviously his approach is always aggressive. Would he have done well? I really think so, because he wouldn't have gone for it if he wasn't confident. As for how well, I'd be dishonest: I don't know. However, he would certainly have done well."

08/24/09 (GMM)  Michael Schumacher's manager has rekindled speculation about a formula one comeback for the seven time world champion.

The 40-year-old German had to watch the European grand prix from the Ferrari pitwall due to lingering injuries, and the Italian team has confirmed that struggling Luca Badoer will also race at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend.

But Willi Weber told Cologne's Express newspaper that Schumacher is still in training, and may soon return to the seat of a F1 car.

"He still wants to drive motorcycles and karts," he said, "and for the recovery from his injuries it could be helpful for him to test again in the old F1 Ferrari.

"When?  It has not been decided," Weber added. More ...

Renault looking beyond current Concorde Agreement  Flavio Briatore has denied that Renault might be among the next wave of manufacturers to pull out of Formula One. It emerged at Valencia on Sunday that Toyota's budget for the 2010 season has not yet been approved by the board of the Japanese manufacturer.

It is suggested the Toyota Motor Corporation is awaiting the results of its half financial year report before giving the green light for another season on the grid.

BMW and Honda also decided to quit the sport despite efforts to reduce costs, and it is regularly rumored that Renault is also re-thinking its commitment to F1, despite like Toyota recently signing the 2012 Concorde Agreement. More ...

Hendrick working on fuel injection project for NASCAR?  Sources have told FOXSports.com that Hendrick Motorsports is working on the fuel injection project for NASCAR. If NASCAR opts for fuel injection engines in the near future, it will likely increase production costs by $15,000 to $20,000. One engineer also quipped, "It will be more fuel efficient, but also provide teams with an easier platform to cheat." FoxSports
IRL discusses engine situation with Honda  AR1.com spotted IRL President Brian Barnhart and the IRL's Commercial boss, Terry Angstadt, go into a 45-minute meeting with Honda's Erik Berkman and some other Honda representatives Sunday morning here at Infineon raceway.  It is believed that the topic of discussion was how to move forward with the new IndyCar engine and chassis. 

Unconfirmed reports say that no other engine manufacturers are coming into the series.  If true then the future technical package for the new car can be ironed about between the IRL and Honda.  Honda has been pushing for the new powerplant to be a turbo V-6, so we can expect that to now move forward.

Ferrari could dump Badoer after Spa  (GMM)  Stefano Domenicali on Sunday left the door open to replacing Luca Badoer after this weekend's Belgian grand prix.

Long time test driver Badoer struggled for pace as he returned to formula one at Valencia in injured Felipe Massa's car, but Ferrari have confirmed he will keep the drive for the forthcoming Spa-Francorchamps race.

However, if the 38-year-old Italian has as bad a weekend in Belgium, on a circuit he knows and previously contested grands prix, Ferrari principal Domenicali suggested the team would have to consider another route.

"For sure it is an important race for Luca Badoer next weekend," he told reporters at Valencia on Sunday.  "We are expecting a big jump from him and then we will see."

Soucek targets Formula One in 2010  
Andy Soucek
Current FIA Formula Two Championship leader Andy Soucek is targeting a seat with a Formula One team in 2010 after taking his third commanding victory of the season at Donington Park last weekend. The Spaniard believes Formula Two’s level playing field has finally given him the chance to demonstrate the true extent of his talent.

Soucek has fully delivered in his debut F2 season, impressing onlookers with his speed, consistency and determination. He currently lies 22 points ahead of nearest rival Robert Wickens in the championship standings, and has recorded three wins and two second place finishes in the five events so far this year. He also produced a brilliant display of attacking driving in race two at Donington Park, including a stunning overtaking maneuver on Sebastian Hohenthal at the Craner Curves. The 24-year-old is one of the most experienced and successful drivers in this season’s line up having previously won the Spanish F3 championship, scored podium finishes in GP2 and been a race winner in Formula Renault 3.5. He has also sampled F1 machinery, testing for the Panasonic Toyota team in 2006. More ...

Ecclestone in talks to return F1 to Argentina  UPDATE (GMM)  Plans are still afoot to return formula one to Argentina, but a race next year is unlikely, Bernie Ecclestone admitted on Sunday.

Bernie Ecclestone
We have reported this year that figures in the South American country are interested in organizing a grand prix, but F1 chief executive Ecclestone has told them the Autodromo Juan y Oscar Galvez in Buenos Aires, not used for F1 since 1998, is no longer up to scratch.

The 78-year-old Briton told Germany's DPA news agency at Valencia: "We are in discussions about it.  Things probably won't be in place in time for 2010 but we are in talks about it."

05/22/09 Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One's commercial rights holder, is in talks with Argentine government officials to bring the sport back to the South American country.  The last Formula One race in Argentina was 1998, an event won by Michael Schumacher.

"I'm talking to people in Argentina. We've just started talking," Ecclestone said Friday from Monaco, where the next race of the season is being held Sunday.

Asked if the Mexican resort of Cancun might also host another Latin American race, Ecclestone replied: "I don't know."

In recent years, F1 has moved away from its traditional base in Europe, filling its schedule with cash-rich races in the Middle East and Asia. A race in Argentina would be logistically convenient and dovetail with the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo. More ...

Valencia GP's future in doubt  UPDATE (GMM)  Race officials have denied rumors Sunday's running of the European grand prix could be the last time Valencia stages the formula one race.

Speculation in the paddock of the Spanish port venue said low attendance and a lack of atmosphere has Bernie Ecclestone seriously considering the future of the event.

But according to a report in the AS newspaper, local government authorities are at the grand prix this weekend and are guaranteeing the event stays on the calendar for at least the next five years.

It is suggested that the officials are blaming the late August date for many of the event's problems and are pushing for a new date - possibly in June or July - for 2010 and beyond.

08/21/09 (GMM)  Attendance at the Valencia port street circuit was notably down on Friday, raising speculation the European grand prix venue might be axed from the formula one calendar.

"Ticket sales have been so poor that there are rumors this may be the marina circuit's swansong after just two years," said a report in the British newspaper Daily Telegraph.

In mid 2007, Bernie Ecclestone signed a seven year contract with Valencia organizers Valmor Sports, which kicked off with the inaugural event in 2008.

There was some criticism of the venue when it held its inaugural grand prix last August, including by spectators whose view was impeded and others who bemoaned a lack of atmosphere.

Renault boss and FOTA's sporting chief Flavio Briatore said the problem hinted at a more fundamental issue for the sport.

"We have fifty per cent of the tickets sold here because there is no energy at the moment," the Italian told reporters on Friday.  "We need to establish energy and the appeal of formula one."

Red Bull KERS move unlikely  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Red Bull figures Christian Horner and Sebastian Vettel have denied rumors the team is considering introducing KERS within the next few races.

"So late in the season, that would be a big risk," team boss Horner is quoted as saying by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.  "Without KERS our car should be capable of winning at Spa."

German race driver Vettel agrees that, in the midst of a championship contest with Brawn, experimenting with KERS would not be a good idea.

"We would need two races to set up the car optimally with the ballast, and even then there would be no guarantee that we would profit from the system," he said.

Brawn GP also ruled out using the technology at any of the remaining six races of the season.

"Trying to put it in this late in the season would be insane," championship leader Jenson Button is quoted as saying.

Team boss Ross Brawn ruled out the scenario from a technical perspective.  "It is not an option for us because our car would be too heavy.

"Even with the Mercedes system it is not possible for us to put (KERS) in without then having a weight handicap," he added, explaining that there may also be problems with cooling the system given the design parameters of the BGP001 car. More ...

Not a lot of changes in 2010 for IndyCar driver lineups  From what we are hearing here this weekend at Infineon Raceway, there will be few if any changes in the driver lineups for next year.  Dixon and Franchitti are both expected back with Ganassi racing and Target sponsorship, Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves will be back with Penske Racing.  Not sure if Penske will again try to run a 3rd car for Will Power. 

At Andretti Racing, Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick are all expected back, but Mutoh's future is in doubt if Honda moves their Team Dream money over to de Ferran and Takuma Sato.  If de Ferran is successful at putting together an IndyCar team his drivers will probably be Pagenaud and Sato. 

Ed Carpenter is expected back with Vision Racing, Richard Antinucci could run full-time for Team 3G and Ryan Hunter-Reay is getting along well with AJ Foyt's team. 

Graham Rahal is expected back at NHLR with McDonald's backing.  His teammate is up in the air, and Sebastien Bourdais could probably land that seat should he return to the USA.  EJ Viso could move to the Andretti team should Mutoh not return, or he could stay at HVM and team with Robert Doornbos who is already signed for 2010. 

Mario Moraes is expected back at KV Racing and Justin Wilson appears to have found a home at Dale Coyne Racing.  Raphael Matos is expected back at Luczo Dragon and Mike Conway should be back with Dreyer and Reinbold. With that said, we could see some other new teams for 2010 and that could mean some new drivers for next year. Mark C. reporting from Infineon Raceway

Overheard at Infineon - 1  We hear that Oriol Servia had a fuel pump failure in his Honda engine Friday morning and the team has tried to fix it rather than change the engine, which takes longer.......One IndyCar team owner told AR1.com that the TV situation (horrible ratings) is making it very difficult to find new sponsors and he hopes NASCAR buys the series so they can roll IndyCar into their excellent TV deal.  That would help all the teams land news sponsors.  He hears no new engine manufacturers are coming into the series.  Another source tells us one issue is cost containment, that they fear Honda will outspend them to win...........Word is that the Brazil race could be in a third Brazilian city (rather than Rio or Helio Castroneves' home town) and that officials are here at Infineon this weekend talking to the IRL.......We hear that all the Atlantic teams have spoken to the IRL in the last two weeks since Tony Cotman was quoted by AR1.com as saying that the Atlantic Series needed to go away so that everyone could consolidate into Indy Lights and make it better for everyone and solidify the Open Wheel ladder system in the USA.......We hear that Richard Philippe, younger brother of Nelson Philippe,  plans to do another year of Indy Lights before moving up to IndyCar......Word is that Graham Rahal has spoken to the USF1 team, but no word on how much interest there really is.  Mark C. reporting from Infineon
Memo Gidley to drive or NHLR?  UPDATE We spoke to Memo Gidley about this rumor and flatly denied he had a seat fitting at NHLR.

08/22/09 We hear that Memo Gidley recently had a seat fitting at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.  If true perhaps Gidley has a sponsor for a race or two.
Overheard in Mid-Ohio  UPDATE Regarding the rumors of Moraes possibly going to the Andretti team next year, we spoke to KV Racing team owner Kevin Kalkhoven today at Infineon Raceway and he tells us he is confident of retaining Mario Moraes next year.

08/09/09 In order to boost its dwindling LMP class cars, rumor has it that at the Elkhart Lake Stakeholder’s Summit next week ALMS boss Scott Atherton will announce that the American Le Mans Series will add a prototype class based on the ACO’s Courage-Ford V-8 series. The prototypes, selling for $345,000 complete, will be built by EMT in Braselton. To control costs, engines will be sealed (and available only from EMT - owned by who else? Panoz), only two sets of gears can be used (long and short circuit), and only a “small range” of springs can be used to modify set-up. Courage (now owned by Oreca), Lola, Multimatic, and Haas will all have pieces of this pie. Don’t be surprised if Yokohama is the exclusive tire supplier.  Instead of running as a standalone race (as the same cars do in Europe, and as IMSA Lights do in North America) these spec machines will run as a class within American Le Mans Series races.....Another rumor floating around is that Carl Haas might buy EMT
Will former F1 driver Takuma Sato come to IndyCar?
from Panoz, perhaps so Panoz doesn't have a conflict of interest........Still hearing rumors that Mario Moraes might go to the AGR IndyCar team in 2010, but he's running pretty well with KV Racing, so why?  It's not like AGR is doing much better this year.................Still hearing rumors that Danica Patrick will move to Target Chip Ganassi Racing and also run some NASCAR Nationwide races for the team to see if she has what it takes to drive stock cars.  She would replace Scott Dixon who would move to de Ferran Motorsports as teammate to Simon Pagenaud or Takuma Sato............If Patrick leaves and Formula Dream leaves (as rumored) AGR will be hurting big time sponsorship wise.....Another rumor has Formula Dream moving to de Ferran to back Takuma Sato.
After failing in F1, Bourdais would have to bring money  After being handed his lunch by both of his Toro Rosso teammates in F1, and subsequently getting sacked for being too slow, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing has told Sebastien Bourdais to bring money or stay home if he wants to race IndyCars again according to Autosport Magazine.
track news
Kentucky to get Cup race in 2011  Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith was hoping to get Kentucky on the schedule, likely taking a date away from Atlanta, but the former owners of the speedway refuse to drop their lawsuit against NASCAR. Until that happens, NASCAR won't consider Kentucky for a date. But otherwise, expect next year's schedule will be like this year's schedule -- except for two exceptions. If you were paying attention to Sunday's press conference in which Michigan International Speedway officials announced a reduction in ticket prices, you may have noticed a change in date for the track's first 2010 race. The date was June 13, a week earlier than normal. And there's another shift: The Dover race will move from the weekend after Memorial Day weekend to early May. These changes come because there is an extra weekend in between the Mother's Day race date at Darlington and the Memorial Day race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, and one less weekend between then and the Fourth of July weekend.  ESPN Insider
Toyota set to retain Glock, part with Trulli  
Timo Glock
(GMM)  Toyota looks set to part ways with its Italian driver Jarno Trulli at the end of the season.

A report of the German news agency SID said that while the Japanese team is likely to retain Timo Glock, its relationship with 35-year-old Trulli is near the end.

"We have an option on Timo.  It is very probable that we will take it up, however we will separate with Jarno Trulli," the Briton Howett is quoted as saying in the German language report.

He praised Glock, 27, as "very, very good" in the races but said he must work on his qualifying form.  "We will do everything to help him," Howett said.

As for Trulli, who is Toyota's top points scorer in 2009, Howett explained: "We have spoken with him, however up to now we have reached no agreement."

McLaren interested in full-time Schu return  
After being beaten by Schumacher's Ferrari for so many years, now McLaren wants him
(GMM)  If Michael Schumacher is on the lookout for a team to return full-time to formula one, McLaren is interested.

"We'd be nuts not to be interested if a seven times world champion was honestly thinking about coming back to formula one.  But I don't think its likely," the Anglo-German team's boss Martin Whitmarsh is quoted as saying by the Mirror.

Ferrari would be the obvious destination if 40-year-old German's abortive attempt to replace Felipe Massa has re-fired his motivation, but the Italian team is believed to already have Massa, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso under contract.

Ross Brawn, Schumacher's former Ferrari colleague as technical director, said at Valencia that he spoke last week with Schumacher and the German did not sound likely to be mounting a full return to the sport.

"I think he was only interested in coming back because it was for seven races," he said.

Vettel's salary rises to eight digits - report  
Sebastian Vettel
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel has joined the ranks of formula one drivers who enjoy eight-figure annual salaries, according to the German newspaper Bild.

It was announced on Friday that the 22-year-old has extended his contract with Red Bull Racing through 2011, with an option to also include 2012.

Bild believes Vettel is earning about 3.5 million euros per year in 2009 and 2010, but the new deal increases to 10m euros in 2011 and beyond.

The suggestion is therefore that Vettel was prepared to sign up for 2011 even without knowing if Red Bull's next car is a title challenger, and amid rumors teams like Ferrari, Toyota and McLaren were interested.

He responded: "I doubt that we are going to be bad next year, and when my contract ends, I am only going to be 25; I am not going to have grey hair!"

As for the reported pay rise, Vettel added: "As I said before, I feel good."

Dixon talking to de Ferran and Ganassi  As we have rumored on a number of occasions, Scott Dixon is eyeing a possible seat with Gil de Ferran's new IndyCar team, which would open up a seat at Ganassi Racing for Danica Patrick, who is rumored (strong) to be moving to Ganassi Racing in 2010 so she can race both IndyCar and a limited NASCAR Nationwide schedule.

However, Dixon says he is talking to Ganassi about renewing his contract as well.

"Anything's possible, right?" he said, repeating the phrase twice more to the IndyStar newspaper. "That's how we'll leave it. Obviously, I love the team that I'm with and, you know, we've had a lot of success together. In a perfect world, if we could stay here on all good terms and everything is happy, that would be the ultimate."

Dixon said his current contract "was like a three-year, but what we're working on, who knows."

Gil de Ferran has said he'd like to have Dixon for a team he hopes to start for next season. Dixon has driven for Chip Ganassi since the 2002 season in CART.

AGR to split up?  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today - see related announcement.

08/14/09 Robin Miller writes in his latest SPEEDTV.com article that Michael Andretti and Gary Peterson (who funds AGR’s Indy Lights program) may be striking out on their own in 2010 with Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti, providing they can find him a sponsor.

There have been rumors if infighting between AGR partners Andretti and Kim Green.  Might Barry Green come back and team up with his brother Kim to form a new team?
US F1 cars likely to be blue  (GMM)  The cars of the new American formula one team are likely to be painted predominantly blue, according to US F1 principal Ken Anderson.

The Charlotte-based outfit is set to debut in 2010 with the slogan 'Made in America', raising expectations the single seaters might resemble the stars and stripes of the US flag.

But Anderson told the German website motorsport-total.com that such a cluttered livery might not be ideal for the accompanying sponsor logos.

"There are two scenarios: either we have a sponsor who requires a certain color scheme, or we go back to the liveries of the racing cars of the 60s," said Anderson.

"At that time British cars were green, German cars were silver, Italian cars were red -- and American (cars were) blue," he explained.

Chicago suburb seeks IndyCar and ALMS races  UPDATE #2
Waukegan GP course Layout
We have added exclusively the course layout.  The temporary curbs / chicanes are simply placed to establish and denote a proposed area to create a series of corners and have yet to be finalized… therefore they are “proposed” and will be re configured… the purpose of these corners are 1. To reduce the terminal speed at the end of the straight 2. To create additional corners 3. Create additional viewing opportunities and action for the patrons… Since this drawing is a initial version there have already been additional revisions (Not to the course route) but to other attributes to the site.

08/19/09 AR1.com hears that the group behind Waukegan Grand Prix LLC are some local businessmen and Mayor Robert Sabonjian.  We hear they met with the LAMS this past weekend at Road America for a possible 2010 race, and there have been initial discussions with the IRL for an IndyCar race starting in 2011.  Waukegan is 35 north of downtown Chicago and the track is right on the waterfront.  From what we hear this events has all the key ingredients to be a success - finances, great track layout, great viewing opportunities.  With Milwaukee losing it's IndyCar race, this can fill the void, though we bet ISC, owners of Chicagoland Speedway, will try to stop it.

08/19/09 When word spread that the city of Waukegan is bidding to bring a motorsport race to the downtown area, Sheridan Road resident Jeff Rothbart wondered if the cart was being put before the horsepower.

"It seems to me that there's some kind of hurriedness to it," Rothbart told the City Council Monday night. "Is there a business plan for this? (Organizers) should make sure a business plan is available to the public."

While Mayor Robert Sabonjian told Rothbart that "business plans take a while to generate," he does have something else in hand right now: a map of the proposed 1.9-mile circuit for a Waukegan Grand Prix.

According to Sabonjian, the course would have a start/finish line on the Amstutz Expressway just south of the Washington Street bridge. Drivers would head south on the Amstutz to a point just north of where the divided highway ends at Genesee Street. There, a tight hairpin turn would be constructed onto Sheridan Road, sending drivers north to Water Street.

From Water and Sheridan, drivers would head west to Genesee Street, north to Washington Street, west to County Street, north to Grand Avenue and, finally, east back to the southbound Amstutz.

City officials plan to tour the course Wednesday, Sabonjian said, to gauge what would be needed to get the roadways in shape to host races that could begin next summer -- if all goes well in attracting racing leagues and financial backers.

"It's not easy. It's a very complicated project," Sabonjian said. "But we're doing our due diligence, (and) we would love to have something ready for 2010. But if it has to wait for 2011, we'll do it in 2011."

At Monday's City Council meeting, Sabonjian announced that the city will host public hearings on the project to offer more details and answer questions. He estimated that meeting dates will be announced "early next week." More ...

Williams sponsor linked with Sauber takeover  (GMM)  Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia has emerged as a possible savior of the BMW-Sauber team.

It is rumored that the Kuala Lumpur-based company may be interested in taking over the Hinwil based team after the withdrawal of its current majority owner BMW.

AirAsia's sponsorship contract with the Williams team is set to run until the end of next year.

Chief executive Tony Fernandes told the Malay Mail: "Our interest in F1 is still Williams.  We will continue to sponsor them."

YouTube and Best Buy on 2010 US F1 livery?  UPDATE #3 (GMM)  The new US F1 formula one team has confirmed that Chad Hurley, co-founder and CEO of YouTube, has signed up on a multi-year arrangement as its "primary investor". A press release said American Hurley, 33, will "provide visionary guidance and corporate strategy expertise" to the new-in-2010 outfit headed by Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor.

It was not explained if the deal involves sponsorship by the YouTube video-sharing website, whose relationship with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management has been a difficult one.

"Getting in on the ground floor of a project of this size and scope is a tremendous opportunity, and I look forward to helping shape the US F1 vision and corporate strategy for years to come," said Hurley.

Team principal Anderson added: "Bringing in a businessman with his level of credentials, and experience in developing and fostering a vision for startup companies, is an honor, and we look forward to taking on the formula one challenge together in 2010 and beyond."

Sporting director Windsor said: "Chad's commitment to this team is vital and his visionary expertise and leadership will help steer us into the future as we look to attract best-in-class sponsors, drivers, employees and fans in our quest to compete at the highest level of motor sports."

08/07/09 (GMM) Another major American brand is being linked with the new-for-2010 formula one team US F1.

Chad Hurley, the co-founder of YouTube, has been mentioned as a major investor of the Charlotte-based outfit headed by journalist Peter Windsor and technical expert Ken Anderson.

Now, it is believed the American electronics store Best Buy is interested in also getting involved, after its chief marketing officer Barry Judge revealed on his Twitter page that he recently met with US F1 officials.

"Thoughts on how a Best Buy partnership would help our entry into Europe?" he wrote inquisitively.

His reference to Europe is that Best Buy recently announced plans to open stores in the UK and other European countries for the first time in 2010.

Judge also said YouTube's Hurley was at the meeting and is indeed the "big investor" of the US F1 team.

US F1 joint boss Peter Windsor has promised that the new North Carolina-based Formula 1 team will boast a '21st century' sponsor package, and refused to deny that video website YouTube will be among its backers.

YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley attended the British Grand Prix with Windsor and his US F1 partner Ken Anderson.

07/05/10 In an interview with American broadcaster SPEED channel, Windsor was coy about US F1's chances of a YouTube tie-up.

"I did see Chad at Silverstone, he was around and it was good to see him there," said Windsor.

"People have tied him to our team, which is incredibly flattering, and who knows?

"We've got plenty of announcements that we'll be making shortly, and we'll be announcing the identities of all of our investors and quite a lot of other stuff as well, really exciting stuff.

"At the moment all I can say is that we've just got our heads down doing what is immediately important to us, which is building the team now that we've got our entry.

"But we have got a great investor group and it's going to take us into the 21st century in a way that you guys have never imagined."

Windsor also confirmed that the loss of the budget cap - a regulation that he had previously cited as key to the US F1 project - should not be an issue for the squad.

"The official limit has gone and of course that means that teams can now spend whatever they want," he said.

"But the point that [co-founder] Ken Anderson and I have been making from the start, that we believe we can do a lot more for less money than the other teams in the pit lane, is still incredibly valid.

"Although the teams are saying that the budget cap has gone, none of them are saying that they're going to carry on spending $250 to 400 million dollars a year.

"They're all saying that they're going to cut back.

"Our point is that if you take whatever that number is, whether it's 30 million or 200 million, we're going to be able to do more with that number because of the way we're doing the team.

"We're starting from zero, which is a big help in terms of keeping costs down and not having to absorb redundant systems, and beyond that we believe in the philosophy of American technology, and I think that's going to give us a lot of advantages in many areas." ITV-F1

06/26/09 (GMM)  Sir Richard Branson has signed a deal to re-name the new formula one team Manor Grand Prix after his Virgin brand in 2010, Britain's BBC reports.

The flamboyant billionaire said at Silverstone last weekend that he is unlikely to continue sponsoring Brawn GP next year, because the Brackley based championship leaders' value has skyrocketed.

Before the former Honda team's immense success, Brandon had grand plans for Brawn, including full naming sponsorship and possibly the transfer of equity.

Those plans, however, have reportedly been simply switched to the fledgling and more affordable 2010 entry Manor Grand Prix, the collaboration of boss John Booth's F3 outfit and former Simtek chief Nick Wirth.

Along with the Virgin speculation, the BBC reports that another well known global brand will be involved with a new formula one team in 2010.

Like Branson, YouTube co-founder American Chad Hurley was also at Silverstone, reportedly putting the finishing touches on a deal with the new US F1 team.

As the Team US F1 plans speed along, team co-founder Peter Windsor was stepped down from his role interviewing the drivers in the official post-qualifying and race press conferences, replaced by former ITV commentator James Allen.

IndyCar to return to empty massive MIS grandstands?  MIS President Roger Curtis continues to keep the door cracked open for a return of open-wheel racing to MIS.

Curtis let IRL President Terry Angstadt know through the media that Curtis is just a phone call away if he wants to talk about returning.

"If there were a financial proposal that made sense, we would take a real hard look at it because it was a great race," Curtis said. "If there was a model that made sense, and they had the desire to come to a high-speed, 2-mile oval, if all of those stars aligned, I would love to sit down at the table with Terry and his team." MLive.com

[Editor's Note: Now why would the IRL be stupid enough to race at a track with massive grandstands made for NASCAR so the grandstands look empty and the IRL comes across to TV viewers around the world as losers?]

Klien set for 2010 race cockpit return  UPDATE #2 With six more cars due to be on the starting grid next year, Christian Klien hopes to find the opening he is looking for and re-enter Formula One for the first time since 2006. The Austrian has tested for Honda, Spyker and now BMW since last racing but believes that chances of competing again are higher than ever for 2010.With the arrival of the Campos, Manor and USF1 teams to F1 next season, the total number of competitors will rise from 20 to 26, the highest number of entries since the mid-1990s. Although BMW will be pulling out as a manufacturer, either the Swiss BMW-Sauber team will remain in the sport under new ownership or a fourth new outfit will grace the grid as a replacement.

Christian Klien
"Peter Sauber said that there have been worse problems to solve in his career," Klien commented on his website. "The team has proved more than once what they can achieve with limited resources; the spirit of the people is just great and the times of unlimited budgets are over anyway - with all this brilliant human capital in Hinwil I see no reason why they should not be able to build a very competitive racing car for 2010."

Christian, now 26, is still unable to state whether or not he will be one of the team's drivers. "At the moment, this is pure speculation as the overall situation is still too unclear," he admitted. "How I can contribute at this point is by staying super fit to the maximum and being prepared, just like I trained on my bicycle in the heat every day while I was on holiday. Also, I can collect as much data as possible for the development department when we go straight-line testing and the endurance car races like those at Sebring, Spa or Le Mans help a lot to keep my neck and my reflexes in shape." More ...
Surfers race to be mere shadow of its former self  In anticipation of a low turnout for the A1GP cars, in a SuperGP press release put out today, they are only going to construct 8,500 grandstand seats and 100 corporate suites that might add up to another 4,000 people or so.  Assuming there was no mistake in their press release, the Sunday attendance is not expected to be stellar.  The loss of the title "Indy" was perhaps a big blow because when AR1.com was there the locals all asked, are you in town for "The Indy?"  It was a household name, now lost.
Fiat & VW to choose WRC over IRL?  UPDATE #2 UPDATE An article in the Financial Times claims Fiat could enter the World Rally Championship in 2010:

Two car manufacturers, believed to be Fiat and Volkswagen, are on the verge of joining Citroën and Ford in the World Rally Championship (WRC), says its chief executive.

Fiat currently races in the rival Intercontinental Rally Challenge. As SJ of Formula 1 blog points out, it doesn’t take a leap of imagination to place Kimi Raikkonen in one of the WRC cars.

The Ferrari driver has dabbled in rallying this year, contesting the Finnish round of the World Rally Championship two weeks ago, where he impressed before crashing out.

He drove an Abarth Grande Punto in the event – a car built by Fiat and tuned by Abarth. Fiat also own Ferrari, which should make it easier to transfer his contract. Recent rumors have suggested the team is trying to buy Raikkonen out of his 2010 race deal for an eight-figure dollar sum. F1Fanatic

08/18/09 So much for Fiat or VW coming into IndyCar racing.  The World Rally Championship (WRC) could be set for a boost as Fiat and Volkswagen are on the verge of signing up to the series.

WRC has struggled in the wake of the recession, with Suzuki and Subaru withdrawing from the championship at the end of last season, leaving the series with only two manufacturers, Ford and Citroen.

News of the potential new entries into the world of WRC was confirmed by Neil Duncanson, chief executive of series owner North One, a British television production company.

“I’ve got one or two (manufacturers) who I think will come in. I don’t want more than four because any more than that and they can’t win,” he told London's 'Financial Times' newspaper.

Competing in the WRC costs a manufacturer around US$20 million a season. That is far cheaper than Formula One, but Duncanson believes that rally cars' close resemblance to road cars makes the series a much safer bet for manufacturers looking to sell cars than Formula One.

"The manufacturers find themselves in a much better position because we are selling the real cars,” Duncanson said.

08/18/09 An article in the Financial Times claims Fiat could enter the World Rally Championship in 2010:

Two car manufacturers, believed to be Fiat and Volkswagen, are on the verge of joining Citroën and Ford in the World Rally Championship (WRC), says its chief executive.

Fiat currently races in the rival Intercontinental Rally Challenge. As SJ of Formula 1 blog points out, it doesn’t take a leap of imagination to place Kimi Raikkonen in one of the WRC cars.

The Ferrari driver has dabbled in rallying this year, contesting the Finnish round of the World Rally Championship two weeks ago, where he impressed before crashing out.

He drove an Abarth Grande Punto in the event – a car built by Fiat and tuned by Abarth. Fiat also own Ferrari, which should make it easier to transfer his contract. Recent rumors have suggested the team is trying to buy Raikkonen out of his 2010 race deal for an eight-figure dollar sum.

08/18/09 So much for Fiat or VW coming into IndyCar racing.  The World Rally Championship (WRC) could be set for a boost as Fiat and Volkswagen are on the verge of signing up to the series.

WRC has struggled in the wake of the recession, with Suzuki and Subaru withdrawing from the championship at the end of last season, leaving the series with only two manufacturers, Ford and Citroen.

News of the potential new entries into the world of WRC was confirmed by Neil Duncanson, chief executive of series owner North One, a British television production company.

“I’ve got one or two (manufacturers) who I think will come in. I don’t want more than four because any more than that and they can’t win,” he told London's 'Financial Times' newspaper.

Competing in the WRC costs a manufacturer around US$20 million a season. That is far cheaper than Formula One, but Duncanson believes that rally cars' close resemblance to road cars makes the series a much safer bet for manufacturers looking to sell cars than Formula One.

"The manufacturers find themselves in a much better position because we are selling the real cars,” Duncanson said.

More cost-reduction details emerge  (GMM)  More detail about the F1 teams' cost regulation agreement has emerged, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The magazine claims that the precise details are a closely guarded secret, but that one measure is to cap the number of team staff travelling to grands prix from next year to 45 people.

This will have consequences: for example, at present, many personal physios double-up as the holder of his drivers' pit boards, but in 2010 and beyond he would be included among the 45 team staff.

Auto Motor und Sport also said team expenditure, excluding driver and upper management pay and marketing, will not exceed 100m euros in 2010, and 50m in 2011.

Factory-based staff is to be capped at 350 personnel per team in 2010, decreasing to 280 in 2011, with more staff per team allowed if less money is spent on buying components from external suppliers.

Piquet to be replaced by Grosjean  UPDATE #8 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Renault on Tuesday morning confirmed that its Swiss-French reserve driver Romain Grosjean will replace Nelson Piquet with immediate effect.

The Enstone based team said Brazilian Piquet, 23, has departed following a "mutual agreement" that is "in the best interests of both parties".

Said team boss Flavio Briatore: "We would like to thank Nelson for his contribution during the time he has been with us and wish him all the best for the future."

Renault also announced that the Brazilian GP2 driver Lucas di Grassi will take over 23-year-old Grosjean's duties as reserve driver.

Romain Grosjean
(GMM)  Nelson Piquet's departure from the formula one team Renault is to be announced officially on Monday, according to the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paolo.

His replacement will be the similarly aged 23-year-old Romain Grosjean, who is Renault's 2009 reserve and a current GP2 driver.

The Sao Paulo newspaper said Piquet and his famous father-manager and namesake will also make a press statement on Monday.

Depending on the outcome of the Renault suspension appeal on August 17, the Swiss-French Grosjean will make his F1 debut alongside Fernando Alonso at either Valencia or the subsequent Belgian grand prix at Spa. More ...

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