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How much longer before NASCAR owns USAC? How much longer before NASCAR (and ISC - both owned by the France family) buys USAC and owns the short tack open wheel grassroots series? Not long we suspect as they pretty much run the series today just reading this Indy Star article:
The U.S. Auto Club celebrated the one-year anniversary of its Silver Crown experiment Saturday at Kansas Speedway with a meeting with its most important partner. To hear USAC president Rollie Helmling tell of discussions with officials from International Speedway Corp., a celebration is in order for the Indianapolis-based sanctioning body.
"They talked not only about 2007, but '08 and '09 as well," Helmling said of ISC's brass. "I think it's fair to say they believe in the concept."
Andrew Gurtis, ISC's managing director of operational planning and integration, said his company supports USAC's direction. It bears noting that ISC's former chairman, Bill France, encouraged USAC to overhauled the series with new cars capable of running on ISC's speedways.
Not everyone has been so accepting of the plan, however. Only 14 cars were at Kansas as most of the former Silver Crown car owners opted not to buy new equipment. Helmling and ISC remain undeterred. More at Indy Star
More Schu rumors (GMM) Michael Schumacher's manager has once again denied reports that the 37-year-old Ferrari veteran could be eyeing a switch to another racing series or to Jean Todt's pitwall perch.
''Team boss? Never!'' Willi Weber was quoted as saying by German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
Reports have also linked Schumacher with a job as an Alfa Romeo racer in the DTM category, or a full time F1 test driver role.
Weber, revealing that an ambassadorial job is a possibility, said: ''The DTM thing is nonsense. And Michael is not going to become a proper (F1) test driver.''
According to the Sunday edition of Bild, however, Weber - who always vowed to retire when Schumacher did - is already contemplating the next German talents to bring to F1.
So could Schumacher change his own mind, too?
''Absolutely, no,'' Weber said firmly. ''Michael made his own decision to stop and he is happy about what he decided.''
Adding to Ross Brawn's revelation in Shanghai that a dual 'ambassador-technical' role could be fulfilled by Schumacher in future, Weber also floated the possibility that the seven time world champion head a young driver program for Ferrari.
But he insisted: ''At the moment we have only one goal -- Michael's eighth title.''
Ferrari power for Spyker? Cosworth out of F1UPDATE #4 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement by Spyker that they will use Ferrari engines in 2007. Cosworth is out of F1 after this season.
Cosworth's managing director Bernard Ferguson told autosport.com that the company has been left 'numb' by the announcement.
With Cosworth out of options for next season, Ferguson admitted the company is highly likely to be absent from Formula One.
"No, I think the facts speak for themselves. I don't think we are going to be in Formula One next year," said Fergusson.
"Obviously we have got to go back and look at the options and there are perhaps opportunities with all the legislation on engines that the FIA are putting together, so maybe we could help with the policing of that, but we are a bit numb.
"We haven't had the opportunity to think it through yet. We will do that next week. We will go back and see what we are going to do with the rest of our lives.
"I think maybe even one of the manufacturers who has under-achieved this year might want an homologated engine that is good for next year. Who knows?
"It is very disappointing," he added. "We thought that we had a pretty strong product, a pretty reliable product and pretty good staff, but unfortunately what they wanted was more a relationship with a car manufacturer for road-engine purposes.
"Unfortunately that is not something that we can provide, so we are pretty disappointed. We felt the deal was in the bag actually because a large part of their 2007 car has been designed around our engine."
09/25/06 According to this Dutch website, it's almost a done deal that Ferrari will supply engines to the Spyker MF1 team in 2007. With the announced South Korea race in 2010, Cosworth's only hope to stay in F1 may be to get Korean auto giant Hyundai to badge their engine and enter F1. Sans that it appears Cosworth's days in F1 are numbered.
09/11/06 We are dropping this rumor down to 'speculation' as Kevin Kalkhoven tells AutoRacing1.com that "Cosworth is still in the running to supply engines to the Spyker MF1 Racing team." However, they are up against Ferrari, but Ferrari is already supplying a 2nd F1 team and so we wonder just how hard they will try to get the Spyker deal. Cosworth definitely has a fighting chance. Negotiations are nearing the final stage.
09/11/06 Renault will power either Red Bull Racing or Scuderia Toro Rosso next year, after agreeing a deal for an engine supply during the Italian Grand Prix weekend.
Dietrich Mateschitz – the billionaire president of the energy drinks giant that owns both teams - confirmed after the Italian Grand Prix at Monza that he had agreed a deal with the world champions for them to supply one of his teams next year.
He would be drawn however, on which of the two teams would get the deal.
"We will have two cars with Ferrari and two with Renault engines in 2007," Mateschitz said.
With Ferrari also powering Midland according to the reports below (we would have thought that Spyker would badge the Cosworth engine), Cosworth is indeed out of F1 for 2007. Maybe they can land a deal with the new David Richards team in 2008, but again as we predicted, Cosworth would be out of F1 unless they found an engine manufacturer to badge their engines.
09/06/06 Sep.6 (GMM) The Midland team could switch to Ferrari V8 power for 2007, according to German publication Auto Motor Und Sport.
With the Silverstone-based squad set to lose its Toyota engines to Williams, the magazine reported that a meeting between Jean Todt and MF1 representative Victor Muller is scheduled to take place at Monza.
If true, the news would also indicate that Midland is close to being sold, as Muller is the CEO of Spyker Cars, a Dutch car maker that is linked to a $100m buy-out consortium.
It is also a blow for Cosworth, which is running out of prospective partners for 2007.
Muller, meanwhile, is also reported to have been in contact with Toyota's high profile former technical director, Mike Gascoyne.
The MF1-Ferrari link is interesting, as Red Bull already has an engine supply contract with the Italian marque that is almost certain to be enforced next year.
And, referring to Toro Rosso, Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz told Motorsport Aktuell: ''Perhaps both of our teams will have Ferrari engines in the coming season.''
Things that make you go hmm..... A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, In your rumors you had mentioned that in 2007 there would be at least 3 Champ Car/ALMS doubleheaders. Now the IRL has announced two doubleheaders with ALMS in Detroit and St. Pete for 2007. Did the IRL do this purposely to confuse fans and try to make fans think that they are Champ Car? Or is ALMS playing both sides? They should pick one or the other, not both. From a Champ Car fan's perspective it just doesn't seem right for Champ Cars to race with a series that is also racing with its competitor. It would be like Atlantics doing a doubleheader with NASCAR. Rod, Orlando, FL.
Dear Rod, Maybe Tony George has finally realized that the France family is the real enemy to the future existence of open wheel racing, not Champ Car. Have ALMS, Champ Car and the IRL struck a deal to eventually form a road racing centric powerhouse to fend off the monopolistic strategy of the oval-centric Frances? Panoz, who makes the new Champ Car and who owns the ALMS, could be a key figure in all this because of his relationship with Champ Car, and the IRL. In addition there are now rumors of Cosworth becoming an ALMS engine supplier. If the three series could find a way to merge, and consolidate their resources, we could have the makings of something very special. A key engine manufacturer executive, whose name shall remain anonymous, recently said "something big is up," and the fact that the ALMS will now have 5 of its 12 races with Champ Car and the IRL next year, makes one go hmm...... Mark C.
ALMS to team with IRL in DetroitUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today with today's announcement.
09/29/06 Rumor has it that the ALMS will be announced as a support race for the IRL when Detroit City officials today announce the return of Indy Car racing to Belle Isle.
The track will be the same shortened version last used in 2001. The slightly larger than two-mile street course will undergo improvements to the asphalt surface as well as to the paddock area. Additionally, it is expected that the corporate hospitality services will be dramatically increased.
Pizzonia eyes GP2 series According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Ex-F1 and Champ Car driver Antonio Pizzonia is testing for Giancarlo Fisichella's GP2 team next week at Paul Ricard alongside Jason Tachinci. This could mean he has given up on Champ Car, but we will keep his name on our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season page for now.
Senna to move up to GP2UPDATE "Next year I want to race in GP2 and now the problem is to understand for which team, but it's a situation that will be sorted better only after the series' winter testing," Bruno Senna told Italian Autosprint Magazine.
"I will test for ART in Jerez, with DPR at Paul Ricard, where I'll have my GP2 debut, and with iSport International. These are the three best teams and I will do a one-day test with each of them.
"Afterwards I'll be able to decide which team I'll race for next year."
"Nothing is decided on that front either," Senna said of jumping straight to F1. "Gerhard Berger, who has always been very close to me in my career, has introduced me in the circle, but besides having a fine relationship with them there's nothing else, no agreement.
"I started my career for real only last year and I really have too little experience for F1. Of course, if my folks didn't block my career, I would have come to this point much earlier."
09/21/06 Bruno Senna confirmed he will test for three different GP2 teams before Christmas. Senna, 23, whose uncle Ayrton won three world titles in the eighties and nineties, will test for DPR at Paul Ricard in France before moving onto Jerez in Spain with iSport International and the finishing off with champions ART Grand Prix at Valencia.
The British Formula Three frontrunner will be joined in Spain by German teenager Sebastian Vettel – who is currently BMW Sauber's interim Formula One test and reserve driver.
The pair could end up together in ART race seats next year, but only if Red Bull – who manage Vettel, stop him from graduating to the BMW test role full-time.
ART will also test current GP2 racers Vitaly Petrov and Luca Filippi at Paul Ricard, while Italian Marco Bonanomi will test for Durango. More at Eurosport
FIA fine adds to Turkish GP losses Turkish Grand Prix organizers were fined a record $5 million for inviting a Turkish Cypriot leader to hand out the trophies during the podium ceremony for last month's race.
Now the track tells autosport.com that the $5M fine results in an additional $5M loss on top of the $5M the track lost for this year's race. It just continues that the only person who makes money from an F1 race event is Bernie Ecclestone, all the race promoters, every single one of them, lose money every year.
"On one hand there is happiness because some were expecting more sanctions. But it is a very heavy fine. It is devastating, particularly as the economy of the race is not so bright," Asena, general manager of Istanbul Park, told autosport.com.
"Last year we lost $5m, and now we have this. We respect the FIA's decision, but it is too high.
"It will be hard to find the money. We certainly don't have that amount to hand. We have a short time to pay, 30 days. It seems impossible right now. We need leniency, it is the only way. If the fine had been $1m, which would still be a punishment, we could make it. More ...
2008 IRL race at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH -- Defending IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. raised some eyebrows Wednesday -- both on and off the track.
The Indianapolis 500 winner grabbed attention during the lunch hour when he made mention of potentially running an IndyCar Series race here at night.
Hornish got a taste of racing at night here three months ago when he competed on a similar road-course in the International Race of Champions event.
"I think that, especially the way they did it, under the lights, I think it would be something really neat to have an IndyCar road-race under the lights here," Hornish said.
The IROC race and the Rolex 24 At Daytona used DIS' traditional 3.56-mile road course and both were contested at night.
Tuesday and most of Wednesday, Hornish, Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan and Vitor Meira negotiated a 2.73-mile, 10-turn road-course.
In the sessions final hour on Wednesday, the course was altered to a 12-turn, 2.95-mile course -- following some input from the drivers.
"As racecar drivers we're never happy so we're always going to complain about something," Kanaan said. "After we talked last night we gave them a couple of suggestions on a couple of extra corners that they can add."
Wheldon, the 2005 IRL champion and 2006 runner-up, has driven the 24-hour race here three times and won the race earlier this year with Scott Dixon and Nextel Cup regular Casey Mears.
The Englishman said an IndyCar race at night here would not be an issue.
"There's definitely enough light out there. I don't know how much difference the headlights make. Sometimes they can be more of a nuisance than anything else," Wheldon said. "A venue like this, if they're going to commit to having an IndyCar race, I don't think you're going to have a problem with anything. They're going to make sure that it's done right. I don't see any issues."
DIS president Robin Braig said there have been discussions with the IRL about scheduling a test session in the spring of 2007 -- January, February or March -- but no race date discussions have taken place.
There was talk around the track Wednesday about the potential for an IRL date at DIS on Labor Day weekend.
The race date could come as early as September 2007, but would more than likely be the season-finale to the 2008 season. More at Daytona Beach News Journal
Will Champ Car teams run Indy 500? A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, In this Indy Star article, Curt Cavin speculates that some Champ Car teams could compete in the 2007 Indy 500 because Champ Car left the first weekend of qualifying and the race weekend open in their 2007 schedule. Do you think any will? Deb Jones, Chicago
Dear Deb, We do not expect any Champ Car teams to race in next year's Indy 500. All the Champ Car teams must invest in all new cars for 2007, a significant financial undertaking. That coupled with the China race falling between qualifying and the race make it nearly impossible for them to also run Indy and have any hope of winning, which takes a large financial and time commitment.
Tony George will have to pay to fill the 33-car field again next year, and he could either choose to pay backmarker IRL teams that come out of the woodwork every May, or he could pay Champ Car teams to fill the field. Either way he has to pay, and our guess is that he would prefer to pay the backmarker IRL teams to show up, like he does every year....unless a merger is really in the making. Mark C.
Hornish to drive in Rolex 24 Sam Hornish said he has talked with Ohioan Mike Shank about a Rolex 24 At Daytona program. "I’ve been wanting to come back to the 24 race since 1999," he said. "Now that the IRL is running on road courses even more, what’s better experience than getting some time and practice than doing some endurance racing. Looking forward to the opportunity in doing that, but we don’t have anything done." IndyCar.com
IRL schedule holdup, Legault postpones meetingUPDATE #4 The IRL’s first race on the Belle Isle street course in Detroit is expected to be announced Friday. The race will be Sept. 2.
Still to be finalized in what figures to be a 17-race schedule are events at Michigan International Speedway, Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Michigan’s announcement has been held up by the IRL’s efforts to race at Montreal on Aug. 5. But the league’s participation there with NASCAR’s Busch Series and the Grand American Road Racing Series now seems unlikely [Note: we told you that in the September 23rd update of this rumor], which has IRL officials looking to add Mid-Ohio, a track near where a large percentage of Honda’s U.S. workforce is based.
Because Mid-Ohio has a motorcycle event scheduled for Aug. 5, IRL officials confirm they have asked Michigan to accept that date, allowing Mid-Ohio to take July 22 that was previously promised to Michigan. No sanctioning agreement has been signed with either track. Indy Star
09/26/06 Normand Legault has postponed today's Montreal press conference to a date as yet unannounced; it seems his formal request to the city of Montreal for the Busch Series race might have come only in recent days, and it needs a little more time to be processed by the city's lawyers. That will happen, but with the '07 Busch schedule already out there, this is a little ridiculous. It also might have something to do with IRL.
09/26/06 Normand Legault is scheduled to announce details of the NBS race today and there is speculation that because the Busch race will be run on a Saturday, there could be room for an Indy Racing League event on the Sunday.
IRL vice-president of communications Fred Nation yesterday confirmed to the Toronto Sun negotiations have been ongoing with Legault about a race on the NASCAR weekend.
"Yes, we have been engaged in discussions with Mr. Legault regarding a race at Gilles Villeneuve," Nation said. "We are trying to finalize our schedule right now, but we're not in a position to announce a date for a Montreal race at this time. It may or may not happen." Toronto Sun
09/23/06 AutoRacing1.com has been told by some connected sources that the France family does not want the IRL with them in Montreal, and that it will probably be a Busch and Grand-Am weekend only.
09/23/06 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, What is the holdup on the IRL releasing their entire 2007 schedule? Jason Worth, Nashville, TN
Dear Jason, Not sure but we suspect it's the same thing holding up NASCAR from releasing their 2007 Busch Series schedule - Montreal. The rumor mill says that the IRL will race with Busch and Grand-Am in Montreal next August - Grand-Am Friday, Busch Saturday and the IRL Sunday. However, the city has not given final approval for the race weekend. Mark C.
NASCAR All-Star Challenge could change The annual All-Star race is also being examined by series officials for tweaks to its format, The Associated Press has learned. Lowe's Motor Speedway president Humpy Wheeler confirmed Tuesday that talks are under way to make changes to the Nextel All-Star Challenge. The race has been run at the suburban Charlotte track 20 of its 21 years. "We're getting together in the next few weeks with NASCAR and Nextel to discuss some ways to tweak this thing," Wheeler said. "The bottom line is we are trying to find a way to put together 2 1/2 hours of absolutely great racing." The All-Star race currently is a 90-lap invitational, non-points race for Nextel Cup drivers. The winner gets a $1 million payout. The field is currently determined by drivers who have won races in the current and preceding year, past All-Star race winners and Cup champions from the last 10 years. The winner of the Nextel Open - the race held before the main event for all drivers not otherwise eligible - advances, and a fan vote was recently added to get another driver in. Now NASCAR is considering tying in the race with its Pit Crew Challenge, but is undecided on what to award. One idea being discussed is giving the pole position to the winner of the Pit Crew competition. Wheeler would like to see the field widened. He'd like more than one driver to advance out of the Open, and said he might push to get the top drivers from the Busch Series and Truck Series into the event. The format is also being examined and will likely change from its current three-segment form. The race currently starts with a 40-lap segment, followed by a 10-minute break in which teams are allowed to work on their cars. That's followed by a 30-lap run, a yellow-flag pit stop, and a final 20-lap dash for the cash. "We might end up shortening the segments some," Wheeler said. "We like that final 20-lap dash, the racing has always been very good over that final 20. But we're looking at a way to get rid of all the lulls in the action." LMS is always rumored to be in danger of losing the race, as NASCAR seeks to rotate it between venues. Teams and drivers are adamantly against that, because most are based in the area and treat the event as a "home race" that gives them a break from the 36-race schedule. With NASCAR's Hall of Fame now coming to Charlotte, the event is likely safe at LMS and will eventually be tied into induction ceremonies and other Hall events. Associated Press
Champ Car or IRL in San Antonio?UPDATE #8 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. HollyHills Motor Sports and Champ Car had been working to bring a World Series grand prix auto race to downtown San Antonio beginning next summer. But Champ Car officials have lowered the red flag on that plan, say HollyHills officials, who are now moving to secure a 2008 race.
07/11/06 Responding to requests from several groups interested in putting on a Grand Prix race in San Antonio next year, the city has begun a process to determine whether any of them have the ability to put on such an event, an official said Monday.
By issuing what is known as a Request for Qualification, the city began a bureaucratic process that will determine whether a race could be held and whether the groups have the capability to produce it, said Tonya Drake, special projects manager in the office of City Manager Sheryl Sculley.
"This is a first step ... in the process," Drake said. "They have the desire to put on a Grand Prix, and they contacted us. We didn't go to them."
Earlier Monday, HollyHills Motor Sports LLC of San Antonio said it had signed an agreement with Champ Car Racing, which it identified as the "worldwide authority in the staging of street races on temporary circuits" such as San Antonio streets.
The local group said it would work with Champ Car Racing to land a race that it hoped to schedule for late next summer. San Antonio Express News [Editor's Note: Late summer, would mean September. Champ Car had better make it at the very end of September, or even October, and not give it Montreal's date in late August, because the summer heat in Texas will kill the spectator turnout.] More ...
Penske may buy Delphi plant According to a report in "Automotive News," Roger Penske is scouting the Delphi Steering Plant in Buena Vista Township for possible acquisition.
UAW Local 699 President Mike Hanley spoke by phone Monday afternoon. All he said was it's not surprising and that there is a lot of interest from numerous potential buyers in the Delphi Steering Plant.
The story in "Automotive News" quotes UAW Local 699 Chairman Tom Basner as saying auto racing legend Penske actually inspected the plant this month.
He did so along with longtime Penske acquaintance Don Runkle, who actually used to run Delphi Steering.
Penske has been known to turn around struggling manufacturing operations, most notably his purchase of Detroit Diesel in 1988, which he turned around and later sold to Daimler/Chrysler.
Montoya to run in Rolex 24 While Daytona International Speedway was abuzz with intrigue about the first IndyCar appearance at the "World Center of Racing" in decades during the first of two days of testing on Tuesday, media reports emanating from the track's media center suggest a power trio in the making for the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
SPEEDTV.com and RacingOne.com have reported that 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rookie Juan Pablo Montoya will likely co-drive the defending race champion No. 02 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley 2006 with Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winners Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon, according to comments attributed to Dixon. The car would once again join the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley, which was driven full-time in the 2006 Rolex Series by Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz, as part of a two-car program.
"I know it's going to be a Target car," said Dixon, the 2003 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series champion. "I know they have been talking about me and Dan and Montoya as well."
The trio would represent three open-wheel championships, as Montoya was the 1999 Champ Car World Series champion and Wheldon claimed the 2005 IndyCar title. Montoya also won the Indianapolis 500 in his first and only appearance in 2000, while Wheldon--the 2005 Indy winner--became one of only a handful of drivers to own an open-wheel championship, Indy 500 victory and a Rolex 24 At Daytona victory with his triumph in the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona alongside Dixon and NASCAR's Casey Mears. Grand-Am
DP01 already equal to Lola On a hot day last week when the Newman/Haas Lola driven by Graham Rahal got down to 51.5 sec at Sebring, Roberto Moreno was rumored to be at 51.8 sec per lap and that was with just a generic setup on the new car and not trying for ultimate speed.
What about Philly?UPDATE Chris Economaki reports that Floridian Lee McDonald, a tireless supporter of the Philadelphia Champ Car street race project, continues in that vein and is now seeking help in prodding city authorities to grant approval.
11/29/05 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Amidst the happiness of seeing Champ Car back at Road America, I am concerned about the chances of a Philadelphia race happening now. I was anticipating hearing news of a September 2006 race down the Ben Franklin Parkway, but the RA press release says no new races in 2006. Was Gerry Forsythe wrong when he said this one is still out there? More good news--please! Tim Howell- 90 minutes from Philly
Dear Tim, It's getting too late to do a race in Philadelphia in 2006. It's either going to happen in 2007 or it is not. As with any major city, the red tape slows the process down and in many cases eventually kills a project. Champ Car is still hopeful they can get it done. Mark C.
Phoenix to move to December?UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today - see this Hot News item for the full story that the race will run on December 2nd in 2007 and November 23rd in 2008.
09/24/06 Word in the Road America paddock is that to appease ISC in Phoenix there is a chance the Champ Car season finale in Phoenix next year could move from November to early December. While this would space out Champ Car's last three races - one each in October, November and December, it could possibly help the event as it will give the promoter some breathing room between the NASCAR race at PIR. Then the next Phoenix race in 2008 should be run in mid-March and Vegas should become the season finale - an ideal arrangement for Champ Car long-term.
$5M for Montoya release The stubbornness of Formula One McLaren boss Ron Dennis, who steadfastly has refused to allow Juan Pablo Montoya out of his F1 contract early to go and race in NASCAR, apparently had a price -- $5 million U.S. Toronto Sun
Ammermuller to grab Red Bull rideUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today per today's Hot News page that Ammermuller has been granted his F1 superlicense.
09/12/06 (GMM) With Robert Doornbos moving into the race cockpit for the last three events of 2006, German youngster Michael Ammermuller is front of the queue to replace him as Red Bull's 'Friday' test driver at grands prix.
Alternatively, the outfit could promote its sister team's Neel Jani into the Red Bull team and slot Ammermuller in at Toro Rosso.
The 20-year-old GP2 driver, who is well connected with the energy drink-owned team and currently drives for boss Christian Horner's Arden squad, made his F1 debut earlier this year when he conducted straight-line testing in June.
But before appearing in Shanghai in three weeks' time, he must collect at least 300kms of testing and then apply for an FIA Super License.
Red Bull to sponsor PKVUPDATE Jani confirms he will sign a deal in Champ Car (see today's Hot News page). The odd thing that we hear is that while the two Red Bull Forsythe Racing Atlantic cars will carry full Red Bull livery, the two PKV Champ Cars may carry Red Bull as an associate sponsor even though we hear they are paying enough to be a full sponsor.
We're not sure if this is a Red Bull decision or a PKV decision because they want to retain their existing sponsors as well. When you carry Red Bull sponsorship and full livery the company wants you to have nothing else on the car. In fact Red Bull is paying NASCAR a premium/penalty so their cars will carry no decals but Red Bull. All other NASCAR cars carry a slew of sponsor decals placed there by NASCAR in return for money paid to the team.
09/16/06 According to this Eurosport article, Red Bull will sponsor both PKV Racing cars in 2007, with at least one of the drivers being placed in the team by Red Bull, assumed to be Neel Jani (right). Red Bull is also rumored to be sponsoring two of Forsythe's Atlantic cars. We still hear it's possible Katherine Legge could end up on the Polestar Champ Car team if they move up as rumored. That team could run as a satellite operation to PKV Racing. Remember that Kalkhoven placed Legge with the Polestar team when she first came into Atlantics in 2005. If not, then PKV might run as a 3-car operation. We have updated our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season page above.
Iowa Speedway opening a flop Rumor has it that the recent inaugural race event at the new Rusty Wallace Iowa Speedway, where the IRL will race next year, was a complete and utter flop. Based on these photos (scroll down on that page), that appears to be the case. Hopefully Marlboro will give away lots of free tickets to their cancer stick addicts and fill the joint up next year.
Champ Car to team up with ALMS in ’07UPDATE Along these same lines we hear the deal to replace Grand-Am with ALMS next year at Long Beach is all but done, with but a few details to be ironed out. ALMS will be the Saturday headline event. Seems with the France family Shenanigans against Champ Car, Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe told their Grand-Am series to go pound sand. Along those same lines, we suspect the Busch and Grand-Am series will also be told to go pound sand when their contracts in Mexico City are up. It's too bad, NASCAR (and Grand-Am) really wanted to be successful in Mexico.
09/25/06 Elkhart Lake - Champ Car will return to Road America next season, possibly as part of a doubleheader weekend with American Le Mans Series sports cars.
"That's been a consideration, and it might end up being that way, depending on what date this event is going to happen on," George Bruggenthies, president and general manager for the track, said Saturday on the eve of the Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America.
"It's going to be a full weekend, whatever happens."
Champ Car and its predecessor, CART, have raced at the facility since 1982 with the exception of a one-year hiatus last season. Although rain Friday and Saturday held down crowds, advance ticket sales for this weekend were ahead of target and ahead of 2004, Bruggenthies said. More ...
What Nextel Cup will look like in 3-5 years This is what you can expect Nextel Cup to look like in 3 to 5 years:
Current NASCAR truck series standings 1. Todd Bodine TOYOTA 2. Johnny Benson, Jr. TOYOTA 3. David Reutimann TOYOTA 4. Rick Crawford FORD 5. Ted Musgrave TOYOTA 6. David Starr TOYOTA 7. Ron Hornaday, Jr. CHEVY 8. Mike Bliss CHEVY 9. Terry Cook FORD 10. Dennis Setzer CHEVY
Champ Car to return to QuebecUPDATE #2 Of course AutoRacing1.com readers knew about it first, but.........Less than a month after losing its race in Montreal to NASCAR's Busch Series, Champ Car is set to announce a return to Quebec next year with a Canada Day stop in Mont-Tremblant.
The Globe and Mail has learned that the open-wheel racing series will include a July 1 race at the 4.26-kilometre (2.65-mile), 15-turn Mont-Tremblant circuit on its 2007 schedule, which is expected to be unveiled in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
"We do lay our plans ahead of time," Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven said with a laugh. "A race in Mont-Tremblant would be a pretty good idea. It's a very nice track with a great set of facilities around it. It would be a good place to go."
The permanent road course, about 120 kilometers northeast of Montreal in the scenic Laurentian Mountains, will be the host to the seventh event on the Champ Car World Series preliminary 17-race schedule.
While Kalkhoven didn't confirm the race, a source in the Champ Car paddock said the team owners agreed yesterday to create Canada Month, with Mont-Tremblant and the two other Canadian stops, Toronto and Edmonton, being held in July. Toronto's race will be held on July 8, with Edmonton two weeks later, on July 22. More at Globe and Mail
09/25/06 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, The irony of it all. With Champ Car leaving Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for Circuit Mont Tremblant over a dispute with Normand Legault, people with a sense of history cannot but marvel that it was Maurice Legault, as head of Labatt Quebec, who provided significant sponsorship to ensure the completion and initial success of the Circuit Mont Tremblant 40 years ago and was instrumental in the initial races of Champ Car's predecessor USAC racing there. It was at that same Mont Tremblant track that a young Normand Legault was first introduced to motorsport, race promotion and management. George Daszkowski
09/24/06 We hinted at this two days ago but now we can reveal that Champ Car will race at the 2.65-mile Mont-Tremblant starting in 2007 in a new multi-year deal that will include some major upgrades to the facility over several years. We hear the race will run in July and will bring major racing back to St. Jovite where F1 once raced. Now that the very wealthy promoter has a marquee event again he is willing to make the investments necessary to bring this circuit up to world-class standards. There are big plans in play for this event so stay tuned for the official announcement.
Johnson to again race in Paris Jimmie Johnson is expected to return to Paris for the Race of Champions Dec. 16, and Formula One stars David Coulthard and Jenson Button are also expected. Promoters are hoping to get Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso in the race, too. Winston Salem Journal
Honda and Ross Brawn (GMM) A rumor is doing the rounds that Ross Brawn's anticipated 'sabbatical' from Ferrari at the end of 2006 could in fact be a move to a rival F1 team.
Maranello based Ferrari is scheduled to confirm a new technical structure at the end of the year, and new speculation suggests that technical director Brawn could be moving to fill Geoff Willis' recently vacated Honda post.
''Formula one teams change shape and the shape of a team in the future may be different,'' the Englishman said last month.
At the same time, however, Honda team principal Nick Fry answered categorically when asked if - apart from the promotion of Shuhei Nakamoto - any gap at the Japanese squad would be filled.
He insisted: ''No, we're not going to replace Geoff in exactly that role.''
Kimi likely to get early Ferrari test (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen may be released to test for Ferrari later this year.
It was recently reported that the Finn would probably have to wait for his McLaren contract to expire on 31 December.
But it now emerges that, if Renault similarly agree to release Fernando Alonso to start at the Woking based team shortly after the final grand prix of 2006, McLaren might allow Raikkonen to start running at the wheel of his new red cockpit.
''It is a discussion that we will have with Ferrari,'' a McLaren source confirmed.
''I believe that our attitude will be just as pragmatic as Flavio Briatore's.''
Caceres wants to retain rookie statusUPDATE We failed to mention that we heard the one additional race Caceres will run is Mexico City and that Coyne will put another driver in the car for Australia.
09/24/06 Word in the Road America paddock is that new Dale Coyne Racing driver Juan Caceres from Uruguay will only run one more Champ Car race this year so as not to negate his rookie status for 2007. We hear he plans a full season next year.
Stoddart team now questionable Word in the Road America paddock is that there is a good chance Paul Stoddart will not start a Champ Car team as originally rumored. We do expect Muermans to sponsor a car or two however.
Strong interest in Champ Car It seems Champ Car is going to exceed expectations in 2007. President Steve Johnson told AutoRacing1.com, "My phone has been ringing off the hook this week with potential new teams inquiring about the new car and entering the series." Meanwhile Paul Gentilozzi has gone on record saying he will be back with two cars next year in fact right now all teams are expected back. We hear that Newman/Haas has sponsorship for both Bourdais and Rahal lined up and things are looking good for Junqueira too. We hear that Andrew Ranger will have Wal-Mart back in 2007, but we are not certain which team he will be back with.
NASCAR to eliminate Restrictor Plates A NASCAR test session next month at Talladega Superspeedway for its new car will help series officials determine if they can use larger holes in a restrictor plate there and at Daytona. Gary Nelson, a former Cup series director who consults NASCAR, says he hopes NASCAR's car of tomorrow will allow series officials to someday get rid of the carburetor restrictor plates that limit horsepower and keep speeds around 190 mph at Daytona and Talladega. Teams have been asked to bring engines they'd normally use at a track like Michigan or Charlotte to the test, which will be held Oct. 9, the day after the Talladega race. Former driver Brett Bodine, who leads NASCAR's efforts on the new car, says the plan is to see what size of a restrictor plate can be used. The new car, which debuts at Bristol next spring, is larger than and not as sleek aerodynamically as the current car. That should allow NASCAR to increase the size of the holes in the restrictor plate and give drivers more throttle response. The new car is scheduled to run at Talladega next fall during the championship chase. Nelson said the biggest purpose of the test is to figure out the engine package for the races at Daytona and Talladega and "maybe there is an alternative or elimination of the restrictor plate down the road.'' Nelson made it one of his goals when he became the Cup series director in 1991 to get rid of restrictor plates. He never did before moving to another position at NASCAR in 2002 and later starting his own research and development company. NASCAR has used restrictor plates at Daytona and Talladega since 1988. Before the change, Bill Elliott ran a qualifying lap of 212.809 mph at Talladega. Elliott Sadler won the pole there last spring in the most recent Cup race with a lap of 188.511 mph. Roanoke Times
New Atlantic team to form According to AutoRacing1.com sources, a new California based team that currently runs Formula Renault, is looking to start a 1 or 2-car Champ Car Atlantic team in 2007. According to our sources, the team owner met with Champ Car officials today and to look for an announcement in a month or so.
RuSPORT to hold driver shootoutUPDATE "The team will test three drivers with an eye toward the final two races of this year," RuSPORT Jeremy Dale told AutoRacing1.com. "We will evaluate all three, but no promises for a ride have been made, so I would not characterize it as a shootout."
When asked whether or not the driver chosen would also be the driver for 2007 Dale said, "Don't be too fast to dismiss Cristiano da Matta, we don't know how fast he will recover, but at the same time we have to have an eye toward 2007, so yes it could be the same driver, but not necessarily."
09/23/06 Word in the Champ Car paddock is that RuSPORT will hold a driver shootout to replace the injured Cristiano da Matta in a private test at Sebring starting Wednesday.
McLaren agree to release Montoya (GMM) Juan Pablo Montoya will shortly begin testing and racing for his NASCAR team, after a deal was reportedly struck between the Chip Ganassi and McLaren squads.
Journalist Bob Margolis, of 'Yahoo! Sports', said the Colombian, who left Ron Dennis' formula one team earlier in 2006 but remained under contract until the last day of the year, could even test as soon as this week.
Margolis cited a Ganassi source as informing that an announcement of the Montoya-Ganassi-McLaren deal can be expected soon.
Montoya, 31, could then race at least four times this season before debuting in the premier Nextel Cup in 2007.
Dennis had said in July: ''If we so choose, Montoya will test and race for us again, so that is our option and nobody else's.
''He is contracted to us and it will stay that way unless there is some commercial arrangement between ourselves and the NASCAR team or Juan himself.''
Schu, Shell and Renault (GMM) Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport has published photographs of retiring Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher filming an advertisement -- featuring a Renault car.
37-year-old Schumacher, albeit in a pair of red overalls, was snapped by 21-year-old amateur photographer Flavio Tornisello in a local Italian Shell petrol station whilst standing near a Megane model Renault.
Deepening Tornisello's suspicions of some sort of future tie-up between Schumacher, Shell and Renault was the appearance also of a Nissan road car, whose parent company is Renault.
Also curiously, Renault's lubricants partner in F1 is Elf, not Shell.
Elsewhere in the press, it is being reported that Bernie Ecclestone has signed a multi-season grand prix contract with South Korea, to commence in 2010.
The agreement is scheduled to be made official on 2 October.
IRL to move from MIS to Belle IsleUPDATE #8 Talks continue on the possibility of a Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle in 2007, perhaps on Labor Day weekend.
"We are getting closer and, yes, things with Penske, Belle Isle, continue to move forward in a very positive manner," Indy Racing League vice president of public relations John Griffin said this week.
Birmingham businessman Roger Penske, an IRL team owner, has had discussions with city officials about a return to racing in Detroit. Bud Denker, executive vice president of Penske's United Auto Group, was optimistic things were headed in the right direction regarding the first race in the downtown vicinity since 2001.
"Roger continues to have discussions with members of the Detroit City Council, the mayor and the Friends of Belle Isle," Denker said. "Discussions have been positive thus far, but we are not to the point of finalization. But we think bringing races back to the city will be terrific."
Griffin said the IRL's 2007 schedule should be completed within the next 10 days. Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn is expected to host an IRL race July 22. Detroit Free Press
09/20/06 Unless the IRL wants to live with Belle Isle the way that CART left it (mud and everything), and unless the IRL wants to pay the City of Detroit for any expenses incurred (real or imagined), don't count on that Detroit race.
The Detroit Zoo (no, not the 'hood, the real one which isn't even located in Detroit) was spun off in the past year to avoid it being closed, or reduced to a petting zoo. The local school teachers went on strike after they were told to take a pay cut, and that the money that they loaned the DPS last year (a week's pay per teacher) wasn't going to be paid anytime soon. The Belle Isle aquarium was closed due to budget cuts. Legendary Kronk gym (training sight for lots of famous boxers, starting with Tommy "Hit Man" Hearns) is now closed since thieves stole all of the copper pipes, and the City can't afford to replace them. Detroit announced that it will restart "bulk" trash pickup (sofas, fridges, etc) in October in order to avoid problems with rats and fires on Devil's Night.
A basic summary of how Detroit works can be found here, where we learn that Detroit put $200,000 bucks into the Mayor's pool after it announced massive cuts to the City park system. Tim Wohlford
08/23/06 According to this Detroit News article, an IRL race at Belle Isle is a real possibility for Labor Day weekend, 2007.
08/11/06 AutoRacing1.com is hearing that the rumors of the IRL going to Belle Isle may be a smokescreen for a possible street race around Tiger Stadium. In fact we hear there are plans already drawn up for such an event. However, the city has no money so Roger Penske is going to have to get commercial sponsors to back the race if it were to happen. More ...
Gidley and Meira eye ALMS Highcroft Racing has brought on current IRL star Vitor Meira and Memo Gidley - of CART and IRL fame - to drive its LMP1 Lola at next week's Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda CX-7. Highcroft is one of three teams that will campaign Acura-powered LMP2 entries next year in the American Le Mans Series, and the team is believed to have taken delivery of its Courage LC75 with testing to begin shortly after Petit. Speculation is that Meira and Gildley both would like to pilot one of the Acuras next year, and Petit Le Mans will serve as an "audition."
NASCAR engine builder says RCR is cheatingUPDATE The following is a statement from Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing (RCR), regarding allegations made in a lawsuit filed by a former employee:
The allegations made about RCR in a lawsuit filed by a disgruntled former employee are absolutely untrue. Specifically, our cars passed NASCAR inspection both before and after qualifying for the 2006 Daytona 500. Additional allegations made are also untrue. We will make no further comments until after the issue is resolved in a court of law.
09/21/06 A lawsuit filed by a former Richard Childress Racing employee includes specific allegations that engines the team used in events at 2006 Speedweeks at Daytona were designed to defeat NASCAR rules.
The team denies the allegations.
Anthony Corrente, who lost his job as assistant manager for engine research and development for RCR earlier this year, filed his suit Wednesday in Mecklenburg County superior court. It alleges wrongful termination, defamation and breach of contract against the team, which fields Nextel Cup cars for Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer.
Corrente said he inspected an engine from Harvick’s No. 29 Chevrolet after the Budweiser Shootout and found it had been altered to allow more air to enter, which would be contrary to the purpose of carburetor restrictor plates used at the Daytona track. More ...
Bernie wants 'more money' from Imola (GMM) Imola's struggle to retain its San Marino grand prix may be about more than mere circuit revisions, according to reports in Italy.
'ANSA' claims that, in a conversation with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, local mayor Massimo Marchignoli was told that the race could be staged in 2007 only 'if there are all the necessary economic guarantees'.
At a meeting of key figures on Wednesday, the Italian government confirmed that track improvements will begin at the start of next month.
But ANSA, the leading Italian newswire, wrote that 75-year-old 'Ecclestone was said to have also asked for more money from race organizers'.
Peugeot to announce LMP1 dieselUPDATE #4 Drivers rumored to be after one of the four seats (six for LeMans) in the 2-car Peugeot team include Olivier Panis, Stephane Sarrazin, Nicolas Minassian, Emanuele Collard, Johnny Herbert, Jean Alesi, Jamie Campbell-Walter, Guy Smith, David Brabham, Oliver Gavin, Julian Briche, Didier Andre, Erik Comas, Christophe Bouchet and Xavier Pompidou.
06/15/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement by Peugeot - see Hot News page.
06/15/06 There has been much talk around the paddock at Le Mans over a few much-anticipated announcements coming in the next few days. One we hear is that Peugeot will be formally launching their Le Mans 2007 assault on Friday which, as previously announced, will be a diesel entry.
03/21/06 While Peugeot has yet to announce an ALMS entry, Peugeot Sport actually announced an LMES entry at Le Mans on June 14th, of last year:
"Peugeot will enter sportscar endurance racing in 2007 as a competitor in the Le Mans Endurance Series with the eye on winning the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans."
With their technology department and their long-standing idea of taking on challenges, Peugeot will not disappoint their many customers and fans. Their entry will be an HDi diesel-powered car equipped with a diesel particulate filter system (DPFS).
"This is an extremely stimulating new challenge and I am convinced it will generate considerable interest throughout our staff and across our sales networks," commented Frederic Saint-Geours, Managing Director of Automobiles Peugeot.
"I hope this ambitious yet completely achievable project will provide us with a fresh opportunity to demonstrate our ability to win," Saint-Geours continued.
"The development work will include the other arm at PSA, Citroen's Engineering Department. Peugeot Sport will oversee the chassis while Citroen will be responsible for the engine. The current plan is to develop and test the new sportscar before the 2006 calendar year comes to an end.
"The first real test -- an LMES race -- will happen in 2007."
Peugeot vs. Audi at Le Mans. A tough one to call, that. Both produce among the best diesel engines in road cars, so there is no lack of expertise there.
03/21/06 Rumor has it that Peugeot will announce a diesel powered LMP1 entry into ALMS and LMES to go up against the Audi diesel. Meanwhile Porsche is contemplating moving up to LMP1, though it may do so with a gasoline powered car rather than diesel.
Mexican Champ Car team The sports newspaper in Mexico RECORD, published an interview with David Martinez yesterday. Martinez said that he is planning a full assault on the 2007 Champ Car series with their "own" team. He is negotiating with his Atlantic team, US Racetronics, to do a joint operation with the old race team of his dad to create a Champ Car operation taking advantage of the benefits of the "leasing" program recently announced by Champ Car. He is negotiating with Mexican companies right now to see about possible sponsorship, not only for the Champ Car operation, but also for an Atlantic team and for David Garza in Formula BMW USA.
US Racetronics is Shane Senevirante. He did very well running Dorricott when Bob was sick. Luis Diaz could be the 2nd driver if it becomes a two car effort. We have added this team to our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season Page
ISC closing on Denver Superspeedway Dreams of bringing the loud engines of a NASCAR superspeedway to the metro area quietly are taking hold in Commerce City.
City officials said Monday agents for International Speedway Corp. are trying to piece together a land deal that could place the racetrack complex west of Denver International Airport, around 96th Avenue and E-470.
The plans still are in preliminary stages and nothing official has been submitted to the city's planning department.
But racetrack representatives were in talks with former city manager Perry Vandeventer before he was forced to resign earlier this month amid accusations of repeated drunken driving.
Mayor Sean Ford said Vandeventer updated him on the NASCAR talks before packing up his office.
"He just said that last he knew they were still compiling the land," Ford said.
"From what I understand, it's going to be a major stock car and road track - maybe a home for the Bandimeres and for a Grand Prix," City Councilman Anthony Johnson said. More at Rocky Mountain News
Montreal holding up 2007 Busch scheduleUPDATE #2 In the jubilation of his win in Loudon Sunday, Kevin Harvick may have revealed NASCAR's best-kept secret: When the Busch Series race in Montreal will be run in 2007.
Asked after his win Sunday if he'll be racing in Canada next season, Harvick replied he couldn't, because he'd be racing in the Nextel Cup event at Pocono Raceway that weekend. If he's correct, it means NASCAR will head north of the border on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2007.
09/18/06 For many years, the first weekend in August is the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, just an hour away from Montreal, a Grand-Am weekend. If the Busch race weekend moves into August, we wonder if Trois-Rivieres will keep their Grand-Am race, or if the plan is to move it to Montreal. Trois-Rivieres is a big holiday destination during the summer season. That little town really puts its heart and soul into the event.
09/17/06 It's late September and NASCAR has yet to release the 2007 Busch and Truck tour schedules. Political wrangling in Montreal over 2007 racing contracts for the Gilles Villeneuve road course appears to be holding up NASCAR's release of next year's Busch calendar, which is widely anticipated to feature a summer race at the Canadian Formula One track in the heart of town.
And there has been speculation about a NASCAR Truck race in Monterrey, Mexico. Monterrey, five hours south of San Antonio, is the second-most important city in Mexico, and it's an important financial center.
Montreal city officials and Canadian promoter Norman Legault are expected to sign a contract for a Busch race, but Daytona executives don't want to announce a tour schedule until that happens.
The Champ Car legal action over Montreal's decision to drop an annual Champ Car race in favor of a new Busch race is apparently not any factor in the NASCAR holdup. But moves by the France family's International Speedway Corp. to bring the rival Indy Racing League to Daytona, at least for testing, is certain to raise the tension level between NASCAR and Champ Car. The two are already at odds over a proposed Champ Car race through the streets of Phoenix, with some heavy-handed political gamesmanship going on behind the scenes there.
While July 22, a Sunday, has been penciled in for the Montreal Busch race, because that's an off weekend for Nextel Cup regulars, there is now speculation that NASCAR and ABC-ESPN may choose Aug. 4, a Saturday, instead, during the Nextel Cup tour's Pocono weekend. That would give Legault more time to promote NASCAR after the June Grand Prix. [Editor's Note: For many years, the first weekend in August is the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, just an hour away from Montreal. How would that work out?]
Pocono is 400 miles south of Montreal.
But it's unclear how a Busch road-course race in Montreal the weekend before the Cup tour stop at Watkins Glen (340 miles south of Montreal) might play out logistically, particularly for the financially beleaguered Busch team owners. Winston Salem Journal
IRL in Vegas?UPDATE #2 AutoRacing1.com has confirmed with Champ Car officials that there is no truth to the rumors of three possible doubleheaders with the IRL in 2007. That means that ALMS will probably be with Champ Car in Long Beach, after Champ Car didn't invite Grand-Am back.
09/15/06 Hearing that three doubleheader Champ Car/IRL weekends are still possible for 2007 - Las Vegas, Long Beach and Sonoma (not sure about Sonoma). The coordination of schedules could be the reason for the holdup by both Champ Car and the IRL in releasing their 2007 schedules. If Sonoma were true (August), we wonder if Champ Car will return to Road America in 2007.
09/13/06 There were rumors going around the IRL paddock last weekend at Chicagoland that the IRL could be, in a surprise move, racing on the streets of Las Vegas next year. We doubt it is a separate deal unless Roger Penske arranged a parking lot race with his friend Steve Wynn (Wynn Penske Ferrari Maserati Dealership in Wynn Las Vegas). Could it be a doubleheader with Champ Car?.......Recall the previous rumors of possibly three joint Champ Car/IRL races in 2007.
ALMS/Champ Car doubleheader?UPDATE #3 Look for the 2007 ALMS schedule to be announced at Road Atlanta next Friday during the Petit LeMans race weekend, so we should know by then about the rumored doubleheaders..
09/19/06 We are still hearing that an ALMS/Champ Car doubleheader at Road America will happen in August next year. The trade-off is a Champ Car/ALMS doubleheader at Long Beach. If that happens, we doubt you will see the IRL at Long Beach too. The rumors never made sense to us why Champ Car would allow the IRL into its biggest race (Long Beach) without the IRL allowing Champ Car into its biggest race (Indy).....unless a merger was already agreed to.
07/26/06 Unless a sudden merger with the Indy Racing League changes everything, Steve Johnson said Champ Car will have 15 or 16 races in 2007. That will include new events in Las Vegas and Phoenix and perhaps Zhuhai, China, and San Antonio.
The ALMS will partner with Champ Car again for events the same weekend at Houston, and a partnership at Road America has been discussed, with no firm date for next year. Portland Oregonian
07/24/06 The rumor mill says that we could see a Champ Car/ALMS doubleheader again in 2007. The venue? We hear it could be Road America in August.
Zytek to ALMS Rumor has it that the Zytek LMES team, which will enter a LMP1 car in the Petit LeMans race next weekend for Johnny Mowlem and Stefan Johansson, is making noises about staying on and running a full LMP1 schedule in ALMS in 2007.
Possible 17-race 2007 IRL scheduleUPDATE #9 The Times-Dispatch has learned that the seventh consecutive visit from the open-wheel series to Richmond International Raceway will take place Saturday night, June 30, 2007, one week later than this year's visit. An official league announcement is expected today. Richmond Times Dispatch
09/20/06 As for the 2007 schedule, Barnhart indicated there will be a race Aug. 5, the date expected to be available in Montreal. If a deal is reached, it would be the IRL's first Canadian event. Nine of what Barnhart expects to be 16 or 17 events have been confirmed. The full schedule is expected next week. The Indianapolis 500 is May 27. Indy Star
Based on announcements and scuttlebutt, the 2007 IRL schedule is shaping up as follows: March Mar. 25 Homestead (Tentative) April April 1 St. Petersburg (Confirmed) April 14 (Sat) Motegi (Tentative) April 29 Kansas (Confirmed) May May 27 Indy 500 (Confirmed) June Jun 3 Milwaukee (Confirmed) Jun 9 Texas - Night (Confirmed) Jun 24 Iowa (Confirmed) Jun 30 Nashville - Night (Confirmed) July July 8 Watkins Glen (Confirmed) July 22 Michigan (Confirmed) August Aug. 5 Montreal (Tentative) Aug. 12 Kentucky (Assume on traditional date) Aug. 26 Infineon (Assume on traditional date) September Sep. 2 Detroit (Tentative - but doubtful) Sep. 9 Chicagoland (Assume on traditional date)
09/15/06 According to Curt Cavin's latest article on Indystar.com, the IRL probably will not race around Dodger Stadium (we told you that would not happen), but they are still waiting on Belle Isle and Montreal. We heard Grand-Am would be with the Busch Series in Montreal, but apparently the IRL is still trying.
08/16/06 Bruce Martin reports in National Speed Sport News that "with just two races remaining on the 2006 IndyCar schedule, the IRL has yet to announce the schedule for next season. Expect a gain of three races to the schedule, including Montreal, Belle Isle in Detroit and possibly a street event around Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, according to sources.
"The mayor of Los Angeles has pitched the IRL on a street-course race that would wind around Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine, which would serve as the season-opening race next March. The race at Homestead, Fla., is expected to be moved to a Saturday night race in March, followed by the highly successful Grand Prix of St. Petersburg."
08/12/06 Hearing that talk of a Dodger Stadium race or at El Toro is 100% BS we are told. Even though the IRL has never drawn more than a few thousand people in Southern California, there's no way ingress and egress would work around the Dodger Stadium neighborhood (not to mention a lack of facilities such as bathrooms). And the tarmac (what still exists) at El Toro is way too abrasive for race tires not to mention zero support facilities. More ...
Champ Car back on TV Azteca Look for Champ Car to be back on TV in Mexico with the last three races broadcast on former TV partner TV Azteca. TV Azteca is not only broadcasting the races, they have been doing a good job of promoting the race, this is the 3rd consecutive day Mario has appeared on one of their live sport shows. One would hope that all races in 2007 will be broadcast on TV Azteca, a key for Champ Car to regain its lost popularity in Mexico, and a key to landing new Mexican sponsors.
Uruguayan driver could replace DominguezUPDATE #2 This rumor, broken by AutoRacing1.com, is upgraded to 'fact' today. Uruguayan driver Juan Caceres will race a Champ Car for Dale Coyne Racing in Road America on September 24th. Juan tested with Dale Coyne Racing last 12th & 13th of September in Sebring, FL.
Juan had been racing this season in Euro F3000 with good results, his last race in Europe was at Silverstone (Euro F3000) when he started 9th and finished 2nd. Juan tested Formula 1 for Minardi last November ending fastest on a two day test. www.juancaceres.com.uy
09/16/06 Uruguayan Juan Caceres tested for Dale Coyne last Tuesday and Wednesday at Sebring. This year Juan Caceres drives for the Minardi by GP Racing team in the Euroseries F3000. Mario Dominguez says he wants out of the Dale Coyne team and it looks like Coyne is actively looking for a replacement driver.
01/12/06 AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that 21-year-old Uruguayan driver Juan Caceres - fastest time, against the likes of Katherine Legge, in the Minardi F1 test held at Vallelunga in November 2005, is seriously interested in actively pursuing 2006 opportunities in the Atlantic Series or Champ Car World Series. Since his impressive performance in the Formula 1 test Caceres has become a media darling in his native Uruguay and is rumored to be attracting supportive interest from major Uruguayan enterprises. Caceres drove in the Italian F3000 series in 2005.
Minardi test times Driver: Chanoch Nissany (IS) Number of laps: 50 Distance covered: 205.5 km Fastest lap: 1 min 24.65 secs
Driver: Juan Caceres (UR) Number of laps: 10 Distance covered: 44.1 km Fastest lap: 1 min 21.019 secs
Driver: Katherine Legge (GB) Number of laps: 27 Distance covered: 111.0 km Fastest lap: 1 min 21.176
IRL to race at Daytona in 2008 Indy-car racing at Daytona International Speedway no longer sounds like a far-fetched idea, Indy Racing League president Brian Barnhart said Tuesday.
In fact, Barnhart said during a national teleconference that next week's compatibility test at NASCAR's home in Daytona Beach, Fla., could be a preview of a race to come.
Previously, league officials insisted that Daytona only would be used as a preseason testing venue.
"We've got to take steps first," Barnhart said of the test. "But the goal should be to race down there sometime in the future."
Indy cars last raced at Daytona in 1959, the track's first season. But the Indy-cars were too fast for the high-banked oval, and two drivers were killed.
Marshall Teague died when his car flipped during a testing accident. George Amick's fatal crash came in the U.S. Auto Club's only points-paying race, a 100-mile (40-lap) event.
The test is next Tuesday and Wednesday. Barring any difficulties, Barnhart said the IRL will return for testing in the spring. The earliest a race could be held at Daytona is 2008. More at Indy Star
[Editor's Note: Unless the IRL race is run during Speedweeks in February with a stock car race, look for Daytona to be a big embarrassment for the league. As a standalone event there will be a huge expanse of empty aluminum grandstands. Daytona isn't open wheel racing territory and it's the home of NASCAR. Just as the IRL drew a small crowd at a great vacation destination like Orlando, so too will Daytona be a complete flop.]
Petit LeMans entries up After having a low car-count these last several races, we hear the ALMS field will swell to 28 for the Petit LeMans race at Road Atlanta. Of the 28, supposedly 50%, or 14 will be prototypes (8 LMP1 and 6 LMP2).
Lexus to make track debutUPDATE We are downgrading this rumor to 'speculation.' Word on the street is that Lexus may have decided to cancel its ALMS GT2 program. Why you ask? We're not certain yet but early speculation is that the France Family put pressure on Lexus (through parent company Toyota) that they had better play only in the France family sandbox (NASCAR and Grand-Am) or they can take their toys and go....well pound sand. Other speculation is that they will instead do an ALMS LMP2 program to go head-to-head against arch-rival Acura.
07/18/06 After having announcing an ALMS GT2 program some time ago, there has been no word on when Lexus will enter ALMS. However, AutoRacing1.com sources tell us the Lexus IS350 will make it to the track soon.
Dominguez wanted RuSPORT ride According to an interview in Mexican newspaper Reforma, Mario Dominguez' first choice to run the last 3 Champ Car races of 2006 was with the RuSPORT team in place of Cristiano da Matta. Mario said he wanted his sponsors to sign a deal with RuSPORT but RuSPORT told Mario they had already gotten into trouble with Dale Coyne by hiring da Matta and did not want to get into more trouble with Dale. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico
Ford and GM to merge? AbsurdUPDATE In a clear sign of how squirrelly the water cooler chatter in Detroit has become, the wires and the airwaves were atwitter Monday at the prospect of a mega-merger or alliance between Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp.
Never mind that U.S. antitrust lawyers would be stomping all over any combination of consequence between GM and Ford.
Never mind that the product lines of the two automakers are not complementary. Each is strong where the other is strong (big trucks) and weak where the other is weak (minivans, many cars).
Never mind that GM and Ford already work together on transmissions, safety issues and other things.
None of these never-minds stopped the newswires, or Detroit's radio and TV stations, from breathlessly repeating the sketchy nine-paragraph report in the trade weekly Automotive News. The publication said under the tantalizing headline "The Ultimate Alliance: GM and Ford" that officials of the two firms had talked last month about a possible alliance.
GM and Ford officials on Monday wouldn't characterize the nature of the discussions, except to say the companies talk to each other routinely about various issues. They insisted, as of now, the companies are not holding talks. More at Detroit Free Press
09/18/06 Senior executives at General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. have discussed a merger or alliance, industry newspaper Automotive News reported on Monday.
Citing several sources familiar with the talks, the paper said it is not clear whether the negotiations will bear fruit.
As of now, the two companies are not holding talks, and one source says there is a slim chance that anything will come of the situation, Automotive News said.
GM and Ford were not immediately available for comment.
IRL to announce two more ’07 race datesUPDATE Kansas Speedway's Indy-car race will move to April 29 next season, according to the Indy Racing League.
The IRL's road course race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International will take Kansas' summer date, July 8, next year. That gives the IRL nine confirmed events so far.
A total of 17 races are possible, including new events at Iowa Speedway (June 24) and on the Belle Isle street course in Detroit (Sept. 2). IndyStar
For the last six years, the IRL and trucks events have been held on the Fourth of July weekend. On several of those weekends, temperatures soared over 100 degrees. Temperatures in the 90s were the norm.
Though speedway and IRL officials became increasingly fond of the equity that holding the event on the holiday weekend was building, they remained concerned about the heat. They say they were concerned about the comfort of the fans and they also fear the heat was hurting attendance.
The move to the April date will make the Kansas IRL event the race that immediately precedes the Indianapolis 500.
An ARCA series race also will be part of the Kansas IRL weekend. That race will run on Friday, April 27. The trucks will race on Saturday, April 28, and the IRL will run on Sunday, April 29.
09/18/06 Word is that the IndyCar Series will announce 2007 race dates at Kansas Speedway and Watkins Glen International Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 2 p.m. (EDT).
GM to cutback NASCAR sponsorshipUPDATE Monday night car owner Richard Childress commented briefly on rumors that GM Goodwrench would not be back to sponsor Kevin Harvick's Chevy in 2007. "There's always rumors out there swinging around. We're talking about 'em right now...we're looking at what we're going to do next year and right now our plans are Goodwrench and Hershey for next year but who knows what can happen in the sport...things change." PRN's "Fast Talk with Benny Parsons" radio show
09/16/06 Whenever a team needs help with a sponsor in NASCAR the car/team seem to come alive. Jayski reports hearing that GM Goodwrench will not return as the primary sponsor of Kevin Harvick's #29 RCR Chevy in 2007, supposedly Reese's/Hershey's will return as a co-sponsor and a gasoline and lubricant supplier would be the other co-primary. This may explain Harvick's recent hot streak.
Harvick cheats way to Nextel Cup winUPDATE #2 SPEED issues the following response to statements made by NASCAR and Richard Childress Racing regarding a story filed by SPEED reporter Bob Dillner during the Sept. 17 SPEED Report.
"SPEED reporter Bob Dillner has a strong record of solid reporting from the NASCAR garage; so there is no rational reason for us to consider that the events and conversations he related to SPEED viewers are anything other than the truth," said Chris Long, SPEED Executive Producer for NASCAR programming.
[Editor's Note: OK, Someone is lying.]
09/18/06 NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter on Monday called a Speed TV report claiming the sanctioning body found issues with the cars of Nextel Cup Series winner Kevin Harvick or his Richard Childress Racing teammate Jeff Burton "sheer fantasy."
Speed TV reporter Bob Dillner reported late Sunday at New Hampshire that NASCAR officials had an issue with the wheel rims of both Harvick and Burtons' Chevrolets.
In the report, Dillner said, "The team apparently manipulated that rim to act as a bleeder valve to release air pressure from that rim. In English, it was performance advantage for the RCR team."
Dillner went on to say the teams didn't break any rule, but "have been told not to do it again."
Both NASCAR and RCR officials on Monday strongly denied the story.
Hunter denied anyone with either team was admonished about any questionable part and said both cars "completely passed post race inspection." NASCAR officials Sunday night also announced all cars had passed post race inspection.
RCR spokesman David Hart also denied either team had been directed by NASCAR not to bring a questionable part back to the race track. More at ThatsRacin.com
09/18/06 As darkness falls upon New Hampshire International Speedway, we have learned that there was an issue with the winning car of Kevin Harvick and also his teammate, Jeff Burton, in postrace tech. That issue surrounded the actual rim of the race car. The team apparently manipulated that rim to act as a bleeder valve to release air pressure from that rim. In English, it was a performance advantage for the RCR team.
Now, it was not against anything in the rule book so there won't be any fines or points penalties later on this week, but they have been told not to do it again. So the question is: will it ruin or hurt the performance of the team in the last nine races of the Chase?
Dillner and Tribune Newspaper Group motor sports writer Ed Hinton also discussed this performance advantage with Dave Despain on SPEED's 'Wind Tunnel' (Sunday, 9 p.m. ET).
Bob Dillner: A bunch of interesting stuff happened in post-race tech, Dave.
David Despain: Tell all. I understand there's an issue for the winner? More ...
Dodge joins Ford in pulling NASCAR engineUPDATE A reader adds, Dodge joins Ford in pulling NASCAR engine. This tells a real story. DCX and Ford would not do this unless they plan to take their bat and ball to another arena. Let's face it, if win on Sunday sell on Monday really works in NASCAR why is Toyota taking Ford and DCX's market share? Tim DeCesaro
09/18/06 Dodge executives have joined Ford in unexpectedly withdrawing plans for a new NASCAR engine for 2007, Dodge's Mike Accavitti, the company's new racing boss, said yesterday.
The moves by Ford and Dodge portend a looming engine-rules debate in the Nextel Cup garage, since Toyota will have a new engine for its tour debut next February. And it is unclear just what is at play in this growing engine debate.
Ford's Jack Roush said that NASCAR has changed its 2007 engine plans several times this season, leading to his decision.
Chevrolet officials are awaiting word from NASCAR about their own proposed new engine. Chevrolet's current engine design is the oldest on the tour, and NASCAR has rejected GM's last two proposed new engines. More at Winston Salem Journal
[Editor's Note: Word we hear in the garage area is that everyone is worried about Toyota. They are now dominating the truck division and we hear that even though they submitted an engine to NASCAR Cup for approval that met every one of NASCAR's specifications, the engine was rejected because it was the most powerful engine NASCAR had ever seen. No other manufacturer wants to get caught with their pants down and when word got around how much HP the Toyota engine was making, the others pulled their proposed engines and went back to the drawing board.]
Pagenaud could take $2M to Team Australia Frenchman Simon Pagenaud is leading the Champ Car Atlantic championship with one race left to run, this weekend at Road America. He holds a 12-point lead over Graham Rahal, and does not have to win the race to win the $2 million prize that goes toward a Champ Car ride in 2007. If he wins it, who will Pagenaud drive for in 2007? Clearly he had not thought it through at this stage.
Q. Simon, in your situation, I've heard from Derrick Walker that he has an interest in retaining you next year. Perhaps if he got his wish, he'd have you in a Champ Car. Do you think you might have a test with any of the Champ Car teams? Will it depend on whether you are actually able to get the championship coming up at Elkhart?
SIMON PAGENAUD: "First of all, I think I may have a test day with Walker Racing at the end of the year because it was something we planned together. I may have a test like this. Then we will see. It's up to the championship if I take it. I don't know where the money ($2M) is going to be spent, by who, how it's going to work. I can't say a word on that because I don't know anything about it.
"Actually I would say for sure if Team Australia can propose me a very good program, I'd like to stay with them. But I can't say anything because I don't know anything about that.
"I came in USA to win this $2 million and the championship. It's going pretty well actually. My goal when I came here at the beginning of 2006 was to go in Champ Car. I'm just going to try to go forward, just try to take this prize and go in Champ Car. I don't know which team. I'll see talking with some people and then we'll see what happen. It's just a matter of money. If it happens, that's great for me. That's really good.
"I just want to see how it can go for the next year, try to have contract signed as quickly as I can."
Toyota aims to unseat GM as No. 1 Toyota Motor Corp. is quickening its quest to unseat ailing rival General Motors Corp. as the world's biggest automaker and widen its lead over Ford Motor Co. with reported plans to boost overseas production by 40 percent to 5 million vehicles by 2008 and blueprints for higher output in North America.
The news comes just days after Ford announced drastic steps to remold into a smaller, more competitive company, slashing thousands of jobs and shuttering two plants to cut costs. Ford's overhaul was aired just as DaimlerChrysler said it would cut U.S. production through the rest of 2006 and follows big cutbacks at GM earlier this year.
Toyota, by contrast, is planning to increase overseas production by 40 percent of its 2005 level to 5 million vehicles by 2008, Japan's Nihon Keizai newspaper reported Sunday, without saying how it got the information. Houston Chronicle
Montoya secretly testing? Has Juan Pablo Montoya fallen off the face of the earth? He announced in mid-July he was leaving Team McLaren's Formula One team to join Chip Ganassi's NASCAR Cup operation for 2007. But an apparent contract dispute with McLaren has kept Montoya's NASCAR plans on hold.
However, the France family may be ready to weigh in on the situation, with strong hopes for getting Montoya in a race at its Homestead, Fla., track in mid-November. The Colombian-born Montoya lives in Miami and would likely be a major draw at that 65,000-seat track.
While Montoya apparently cannot do any official testing until his McLaren contract ends on Oct. 22 - unless DaimlerChrysler executives can resolve things - some people in the NASCAR garage say they wouldn't be surprised if Montoya is already testing a stock car somewhere anonymously, given the long learning curve ahead.
Depending on how swiftly Montoya can make the transition, he could run in either the Memphis Busch race on Oct. 28 or the Atlanta Nextel Cup race on Oct. 29. He would also be free to run at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead.
Although NASCAR officials are keeping out of the debate, saying they still haven't even received a resume from Montoya, much less a request for a driving license, they would almost certainly prefer to see him run some laps in the Oct. 6 ARCA race at Talladega, since he plans to run at Daytona in February. Winston Salem Journal
Ferrari Bridgestone tires legal?UPDATE We are downgrading this rumor to 'false' today. Bridgestone has played down the accusations of rivals Michelin and Renault that a photograph of a technician is proof that the Japanese supplier treats Ferrari's tires with illegal spray.
A spokeswoman said the FIA had 'fully accepted' Bridgestone's explanation and ruled that no action will be taken.
German magazine Auto Motor Und Sport, meanwhile, highlighted an amusing inconsistency in the photograph, last week distributed to media outlets by Michelin, which showed the Bridgestone man wearing protective gloves, an apron and a chemical mask.
Despite suggestions he was wearing the gear to protect himself from hazardous and illegal substances, the technician is also seen to be eating with a spoon either an ice cream or a tub of yoghurt.
With a headline, Germany's Auto Motor Und Sport called the saga a 'Storm in a yoghurt cup'.
09/11/06 (GMM) Twenty four hours after a stewards' decision against Fernando Alonso enraged Renault chiefs, the French squad launched a protest against Ferrari's tires.
While the press was preoccupied with Michael Schumacher's retirement, it initially passed unnoticed that - an hour after the checkered flag at Monza - Renault questioned the legality of the red team's Bridgestone boots.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, and Spain's 'AS' newspaper, Renault and Michelin chiefs showed the governing body photographs that supposedly depicted a Bridgestone technician spraying Ferrari's tires with illegal chemicals.
Such chemicals could be used to improve tire grip.
Their 'proof' of wrongdoing was the Bridgestone-Ferrari technician's wearing of protective gear, including special masks and gloves, but it is understood that FIA officials were satisfied with the explanation offered to them.
It is further understood that the tires in question might have been seized for further detailed testing.
Ferrari boss Jean Todt said of Renault: ''In many ways they are good, but in this case I must say they are weak.''
Honda tips Davidson for Aguri seat (GMM) Honda boss Nick Fry says he would be 'pleased' if test driver Anthony Davidson lands a race seat for the 2007 season at Super Aguri.
''Obviously both (team owner) Aguri (Suzuki) and Anthony have to decide,'' said Briton Fry, ''(but) he deserves a chance.''
He told f1grandprix.it: ''He's done a great job for us and he deserves to show the world what he can do.''
Should 27-year-old Davidson, who for six years has been Honda's primary tester, leave the Brackley-based squad at the end of the season, Fry hinted that countryman James Rossiter might be a good replacement.
And he added: ''Probably we need someone else as well, maybe someone with more experience.
RuSPORT to hold driver shootout According to a report on SPEEDTV.com, RuSPORT will hold a shootout at Sebring the week after the Road America race to find a replacement for the injured Cristiano da Matta.
"After Road America we're going to have a test at Sebring to see who we can get to drive the No. 10 car for the last two races," said Jeremy Dale, team president of RuSPORT on Sunday.
"How many drivers we invite and who it's going to be hasn't been decided yet but that doesn't mean we haven't already approached some people."
Yates to shrink to one-car in 2007UPDATE Robert Yates told SPEEDTV.com on Saturday that he’s close to inking a deal for next season — and he hopes the driver of the #88 in 2007 will be Mark Martin. “From my side, we’re getting pretty optimistic,” Yates said following “Happy Hour” practice for the Sylvania 300 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway. “We’re given and getting some good (sponsor) opportunities … I think it’s going to happen, and I’m anxious and I’m happy that we’re getting the cars better. … I think it’s all going to end up on the positive. I think I may have a job for a while longer.”
09/15/06 Robert Yates Racing co-owner Doug Yates told reporters in Richmond, Va., his team could shrink from two cars to one if sponsorship isn't found for its #88 car. USA Today
Chrysler to post $1.5 billion loss Slow sales of Chrysler Group's most profitable vehicles prompted owner DaimlerChrysler AG to warn Friday of much larger losses this year and further cuts in North American vehicle production.
Chrysler now expects to lose $1.5 billion in the three months ending Sept. 30. That's more than twice the $600 million the automaker forecast in July. Additionally, the North American division no longer expects to return to profitability by the end of the year but instead anticipates a $1.2-billion yearend loss.
With Ford, GM and Chrysler all forecasting billions of dollars in losses, how can they justify their NASCAR programs? Doesn't appear that NASCAR is helping their car sales one iota given their huge losses.
Who will replace da Matta? Rumor has it that since RuSPORT was not able to do a deal with Dario Franchitti for the final three races in 2006, the team could run either of the two drivers battling for the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic series championship - Graham Rahal or Simon Pagenaud, in the final two races. Both drivers are rumored to be moving up to Champ Car in 2007 (Rahal with Newman/Haas and Pagenaud with his $2 million Atlantic title winnings to Walker Racing - assuming he wins the title, which appears likely) and the two races in 2006 would give them a leg up for 2007.
Matos and Howard to test Two highly talented junior series drivers are eyeing a possible move up to Champ Car in 2007. Brazilian Champ Car Atlantic driver Raphael Matos is rumored to be testing with Rocketsports in the near future and could be the 2nd driver in the 2-car Brazilian Champ Car team owner Paul Gentilozzi has been trying to put together. On our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season page we originally had Matos moving up to Champ Car with Sierra Sierra, but word is now that team will probably remain in the Atlantics series for another year.
Meanwhile Dale Coyne Racing is looking to test Indy Pro champion Jay Howard (left after winning title with Sam Schmidt) who we said last year would win the Indy Pro title his first year on the trot, which he did. He's won the championship the first year in every race series he has entered.
Both drivers have been added to our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season page.
Podlesni Eyes Champ Car Atlantic Ride for ’07 Thousand Oaks, Calif. – Newly crowned Pacific F2000 Champion Robert Podlesni has confirmed his plans to graduate into the Champ Car Atlantic Championship for 2007. The 18-year-old from Thousand Oaks, Calif., finished third in the 2005 Pacific F2000 title-chase as a rookie with Dave Freitas Racing, winning three of the final four races, and has continued that form this year, claiming four victories, eight podium finishes and four pole positions en route to clinching the title last weekend at Infineon Raceway, with two races remaining.
"It has been a great season in Pacific F2000, against some very tough competitors, and I hope to continue that success in the Champ Car Atlantic Series in 2007," said Podlesni. "My goal is to race in the Champ Car World Series within a few years, and the Atlantic Championship is the next step in that direction. Nothing has been decided yet, but I am talking with several teams and hope to put together a deal before too long." More ...
Bruni eyes Champ Car Our sources tell us that former Minardi F1 driver, and the GP2 driver, Gianmaria Bruni will be visiting Champ Car at Elkhart Lake to explore possibilities in Champ Car for 2007. The question is whether he will try to hook up with Paul Stoddart's rumored Champ Car team. He will also continue searching for a test driver role in F1.
CompUSA for sale [Editor's Note: Will Chip Ganassi need to find a new sponsor for his Grand-Am program? Things certainly are turning sour for the NASCAR clan in Mexico.]
Dallas-based CompUSA, owned by a Mexican conglomerate controlled by Carlos Slim Helú (pictured right), is being shopped to potential investors.
The 230-store consumer electronics chain posted its strongest operating results in a decade in 2005, but it wasn't able to keep up the momentum and needs additional capital to remodel and build new stores.
According to industry sources familiar with the offer, Mexico's Grupo Carso SA has asked Credit Suisse to quietly approach people who might have an interest in buying the company. Dallas Morning News
Hunter-Reay next open wheel driver to NASCAR At Caraway Speedway this week, General Motors officials set up cars in Chevy's version of the"Gong Show". Drivers ran in a Ron Hornaday-prepared Busch car. Two days of testing at Caraway, with a platoon of engineers from Richard Childress' operation, under the watchful eyes of GM racing execs Pat Suhy and Alba Colon, then the group will go next month to a Georgia dirt track and then to Nashville's high-banked concrete track. The drivers being tested are: Jeff Earnhardt, grandson of Dale Sr's, Joey Logano, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Colin Braun, Chase Austin, Landon Cassill, Jeremy Clements, Marc Davis, Jay Gerst, Drew Herring, Woody Howard, Tim McCreadie, Chad McCumbee, Josh Richards, Jason Sarvis and Kody Swanson. One of last year's diversity drivers, Allison Duncan, is running this year for Childress at the same Virginia track at which Jeff Earnhardt is running. But there's no word yet on whether Childress plans to move Duncan up next season. Car owners Childress and Rick Hendrick were the most visible in this round of testing, but Kevin Harvick, who has his own NASCAR teams in addition to his day job with Childress on the Nextel Cup tour, is expected to have some input, too, along with several other Chevy teams. More at the Winston Salem Journal
[Editor's Note: We hear that Hendrick Motorsports and Chevy were very impressed with Hunter-Reay. Another American, AJ Allmendinger, could not win in Champ Car until given the proper ride. Now he's giving Sebastien Bourdais fits and has won 4 of 7 races. Hunter-Reay never had a top ride in Champ Car yet still won two races. So what does Champ Car do with this good-looking, well spoken All-American boy who just happens to be lightning fast when given a decent car? They do like they did with Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, JJ Yeley, and all the other good potential Americans - they let them get away to NASCAR to become superstars.]
Red Bull signs Renault dealUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Renault have agreed a customer engine deal with Red Bull for the next two years, the French manufacturer has confirmed.
Renault's Formula One president Alain Dassas said: "It is positive for Formula 1 to have another team racing with a top-line, competitive engine, and this agreement will also reinforce Renault's presence in the sport.
"We look forward to working with a dynamic, ambitious company such as Red Bull."
Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz said earlier this week that a deal had been done with Renault, but the defending world champions were reluctant to comment on the situation themselves until today.
The energy drinks manufacturer currently own Red Bull Racing and co-own Scuderia Toro Rosso with former F1 driver Gerhard Berger - a close friend of Mateschitz.
It is yet to be decided which team will receive the French powerplants.
09/09/06 Seen visiting the Toro Rosso offices in Monza on Saturday night were two Renault engine men - and indication that we may be seeing the French V8 engines in the back of the Italian cars next year, leaving Red Bull Racing to spend another year with Ferraris. Grandprix.com
09/09/06 Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is trying to honor his two-year Ferrari engine contract through the sister Scuderia Toro Rosso squad, claiming such a move would 'make sense'.
"Obviously there's another team that Red Bull has an interest in now, an Italian team, and obviously it would make sense for that team, with an Italian driver and an Italian engine, that there's a natural synergy there, but that requires consensus with all parties involved and we will no doubt reach a conclusion on that in the very near future.
"Basically, as I say, we entered into a two year agreement with Ferrari. If that agreement has the possibility of being assigned, then it's something that obviously we will investigate that would potentially pave the way to put a different engine in the back of a Red Bull Racing car next year."
Champ Car close to adding yet another team "There's another two-car team that will be announced very soon," Jerry Forsythe said. "I believe we can get to twenty-four cars and we'd like to have twenty-six. That would really make a statement."
NASCAR Mexico City race in doubtUPDATE A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, So what if NASCAR pulls out, or is thrown out of Mexico City by Forsythe, what is Champ Car going to do to reverse their downturn in popularity in what was once their highest attended race? Bonnie Jackson, Oakland, CA
Dear Bonnie, Say what you might about Joe Heitzler, but when he ran things for CART down in Mexico, the race was a huge success (Over 400K attendance for the weekend, the place was packed all around the circuit). Rebuilding the motorsports economy (sponsorship) in Mexico is crucial to open wheel in the U.S. and Heitzler is one of the few (if not the only one actually) who could step into Mexico and fix it. He has maintained excellent relationships in Mexico and to this day is well respected for what he has done there. Until they put Heitzler on the ground full-time again in Mexico City, there won't be a turnaround. Mark C.
09/13/06 Recall our earlier prediction that Gerald Forsythe, pissed at NASCAR over the Phoenix race incident and other monopolistic NASCAR/ISC actions, could see to it that not only would Grand-Am be kicked out of Long Beach, which we hear they have been, but that he would terminate the NASCAR contract in Mexico City first chance he gets. That was speculation on our part, but something we surely can see happen when the contract is up.
Now, however, comes word that NASCAR might leave Mexico on its own. According to sources, apparently OCESA (Forsythe's partner in Mexico City) is going through a really tough period with NASCAR and there are strong rumors that the Busch race won’t happen next year… It seems that NASCAR gave OCESA around $12 million dollars to promote the NASCAR brand in Mexico and to operate their races and apparently the France family is not happy with the job done or the results.
Things that make you go hmm....UPDATE We are downgrading this rumor to 'false' today as it does appear there was indeed a typo (of the car number) in the Mexican newspaper and Dominguez and Legge will not be swapping rides.
09/13/06 This is a scan of the paper edition of the different newspapers of "Grupo Reforma", (El Norte, Reforma, etc). It says that Katherine Legge will change her Nomex design and the color scheme of her car. For the Road America race, she will be supporting "Warriors in Pink" of Ford which supports the Susan G. Komen foundation that fights breast cancer. Her car will be all pink with some ribbons in a different shade of pink, and her Nomex and helmet will have the "Warriors in Pink" logos.
It also says that all the other cars will have a pink ribbon on the side.
What also caught our attention is that the article says she will drive the No. 19 car. The 19 car of Coyne was the car Mario Dominguez was driving. Is this a typo or is this a confirmation Dominguez and Legge will switch seats for the final three races with Dominguez taking over her PKV ride? Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico
2007 Champ Car scheduleUPDATE #5 Not new news to AutoRacing1.com users, but Steve Johnson told autosport.com, "That's what we would love to happen (both European race). We have a great fanbase in Europe, a lot of our participating drivers are from Europe, and we can make it work. On my provisional schedule for 2007, I have Assen down for September 23 and Oschersleben for September 30.
"We have signed Memorandums of Understanding with both circuits, and we have until next Tuesday for the financial settlements to be finalized, and we - and our partners at the tracks are using our best efforts to try and make this happen for 2007. We're up against the 11th hour, but we'll work at it."
As we told you below, a sponsor is already lined up for both races. We expect them to happen. It appears the '07 schedule will not be released until next weekend, perhaps at Road America.
09/09/06 We have added track layouts of Champ Car's new for 2007 overseas circuits the series will visit - the 2.297-mile Oschersleben, Germany track, the 2.67-mile Zhuhai, China circuit, and the 2.83-mile Assen, Holland circuit. All are natural terrain road courses and are a break from Champ Car's plethora of street circuits.
That brings the mix of circuits for 2007 to 50% street and 50% non-street (4 natural terrain road courses and 2 airports).
Also, AutoRacing1.com hears that both European races have a sponsor lined up and it is a name you will recognize immediately as it is a large American corporation.
09/08/06 Based on our research, and hearing that 5-year MOU's have been signed for both Assen and Oschersleben (pictured right), the 16-race 2007 Champ Car schedule that we expect to be announced next week will be as follows:
April April 8 Las Vegas (Street) April 15 Long Beach (Street) April 22 Houston (Street) May
May 20 Zhuhai, China (RC, pictured right) June June 17 Portland (RC) Jun 24 Cleveland (Airport) July July 8 Toronto (Street) July 22 Edmonton (Airport) July 29 San Jose (Street) August Aug. 12 Denver (Street) Aug. 26 Road America September Sep. 23 Assen, Holland (RC, pictured right) Sep. 30 Oschersleben, Germany (RC) October Oct. 21 Australia (Street) November Nov. 11 Mexico City (RC) Nov. 18 Phoenix (Street) More ...
IRL mulls Homestead night race John Lewis of the IRL said Wednesday that the IRL was considering an oval test under the lights at Homestead next winter. He hinted it could lead to a night race at Homestead next season.
Anne Stevens to quit Ford As Ford Motor Co. embarks on a historic revival plan, which the Board of Directors will continue to review today in Dearborn, it will do so without Anne Stevens -- one of the architects of the initial Way Forward restructuring and the highest-ranking woman in the automotive industry.
Stevens, a seasoned executive with experience in engineering, manufacturing and management, was promoted to chief operating officer of Ford's ailing Americas division last October, and her resignation could come as soon as today, according to people familiar with the matter. She has worked at Ford since 1990.Stevens' plan to leave the company is one of several crucial pieces in play as the revised rescue mission gets under way for the 103-year-old automaker. Ford posted a $1.4-billion loss in the first half of this year, and sales of its new vehicles are still falling. More at Detroit Free Press
[Editor's Note: Stevens attended many Champ Car races and even went on a 2-seat Champ Car ride at speed on at least one occasion.]
Ford to post $6 billion loss Ford Motor Co. projects its worldwide automotive operations will lose nearly $6 billion this year, and the company as a whole could lose as much as $9 billion once restructuring costs are factored in, according to internal company forecasts.
A Sept. 6 report under the heading "Automotive Profit Forecast" that was prepared by Ford Chief Financial Officer Don Leclair's office projects Ford's global automotive operations will post a pretax loss of $5.6 billion to $5.9 billion, excluding non-recurring charges. A senior Ford source with firsthand knowledge of the report provided details to The Detroit News.
The projected loss would be a nearly six-fold increase over Ford's $1 billion pretax global automotive loss last year and illustrates the depth of the automaker's problems in its core car and truck business. More at Detroit News
Was Schumacher forced out?UPDATE Michael Schumacher is adamant that Ferrari bosses did not force him to announce his retirement following his emotional victory in the Italian Grand Prix.
"I know there has been a lot of speculation about the timing of my announcement, but for me it was just right," said Schumacher.
"Ferrari were incredibly gracious and left it all up to me to say when.
"After we decided on Monza, I was a little unsure while we were in Istanbul (for the Turkish Grand Prix) and wondered whether to wait until the end of the year.
"But in testing at Monza, Jean (Todt) asked me what I would prefer to do, and I decided to tell everyone after the Monza race because I wanted to be able to focus on it beforehand."
09/11/06 One rumor making the rounds at Monza was that Ferrari forced Michael Schumacher into retirement because they could no longer afford to pay his huge salary without the full Marlboro sponsorship. Schumacher gave a rather cool reception to Ferrari President Luca Montezemolo on the victory podium, as did Jean Todt...as if they were not happy with him. Even at 37-years old, Schumacher is still the fastest driver in F1, so in some respects it must be a bitter pill knowing he may have been able to reach the 100 win mark next year.
These two Brazilians now enemies National Speed Sport News reports that Tony Kanaan's decision to race with Helio Castroneves, despite the fact he was one lap down, has strained any friendship the two drivers were perceived to have, according to Castroneves.
"There's not much to discuss with Tony to be honest," Castroneves said. "After that, it's hard to consider that guy to be a friend. To be honest, I have no idea why he did that. I have to do a lot of thinking, but right now, he's not my favorite person in the world. Before that, I considered him a friend.
"Disappointing, friends come and go. It won't change my life if he doesn't like me. Apparently, he doesn't, so it's very, very sad to come to that conclusion. I have no hard feelings, but he does for no reason. It's very upsetting."
ISC to build Denver Speedway Record revenue and stumbling projects in Seattle and New York could prompt International Speedway Corporation to accelerate its pursuit of building a Denver Front Range racetrack.
ISC, which owns 12 tracks nationwide that host 19 NASCAR Nextel Cup races this year, has had discussions with various Denver-area representatives about making a third attempt to build a Nextel Cup-worthy track in the area.
Today the publicly owned company will meet with Commerce City officials to talk about plans for a speedway in the city, city councilman Paul Natale said.
"Maybe we are closer than we think we are," Natale said.
ISC also has spoken to John Bandimere Jr., owner of Bandimere Speedway, a drag racing venue in Morrison, about joining forces, Bandimere confirmed Tuesday. ISC and Bandimere failed to get the proposed WorldPark speedway venture up and running in Arapahoe County in 2000.
"We've always said that we're interested in the market and recognize that there are a lot of fans that support racing in Colorado," ISC spokesman Wes Harris said Tuesday. "Long term, we think Denver is a logical place for us to have a presence, and hopefully that will happen." More at Denver Post
De la Rosa to finish season with McLarenUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Pedro de la Rosa will be racing the final three races with McLaren. The team's managing director Martin Whitmarsh confirmed in the Spanish media the Spaniard will be racing for the team in China, Japan and Brazil. Whitmarsh said: "It makes sense to choose Pedro. He won three titles in Japan (F3, F3000 and GT) and knows the track in Japan very well."
09/11/06 (GMM) Pedro de la Rosa is not certain that he is going to retain the McLaren race seat for the remaining three grands prix of 2006.
Team principal Ron Dennis said prior to Monza that it is 'most likely' that Spaniard de la Rosa would race in China, Japan and Brazil in the role vacated earlier this year by Juan Pablo Montoya.
But de la Rosa, 35, told newspaper 'Marca': ''Officially nobody has told me how it is going to be.''
His only real opponent for the ride is 21-year-old rookie Lewis Hamilton, who at Monza wrapped up his GP2 title.
But Dennis has said that any grand prix debutant needs 'thousands of kilometers' of testing under his belt, while Briton Hamilton will conduct his first real formula one runs for McLaren later this month.
IRL eyes Daytona as test/race venueUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Indy cars will return to Daytona International Speedway for the first time in 47 years during a compatibility test Sept. 26-27, Indy Racing League officials confirmed Tuesday. The test on a 10-turn, 2.73-mile road course that includes portions of the high-banked oval track will focus on the transitions to the banking, tire wear and braking zones. The Andretti Green, Penske, Panther and Ganassi teams will participate. Indy cars last raced at NASCAR's home in 1959 when George Amick was killed. There are no current plans to race there again; the league wants to use it as a winter testing facility. The IRL also will test Monday and Tuesday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Mid-Ohio is not expected to be on the league's 2007 schedule. Indy Star
08/28/06 If the Indy Racing League's compatibility test at Daytona International Speedway is successful, they will likely race there, according to the buzz in the garage area at Infineon Raceway this weekend.
One enthusiastic source close to the IRL schedule makers said an IndyCar Series race on a Daytona road course is the desired outcome of the test, which has yet to be officially scheduled but is expected to be in September.
"Assuming all sorts of things don't go wrong between now and then, it's a done deal," the source told The News-Journal.
However, Speedway and IRL officials aren't yet ready to anoint it "a done deal."
"I haven't heard anything about a race," Speedway spokesman David Talley said Sunday night. "We might want to wait until they test here before we jump at any conclusions they're coming here to race."
Talley did say if the testing was satisfactory, DIS would be open to discussing a race date with the IRL.
"We do own pavement and we want events with wheels and certainly the IRL does have that," he said. "But I haven't heard anything."
The IRL announced it wants to hold a compatibility test at the Speedway to see if the track would be a suitable winter testing facility. At this point, the compatibility test has not been scheduled, but the IRL-Daytona discussions immediately ignited speculation about an IndyCar Series race date.
There is precedent: Earlier this month the League staged a test at the new Iowa Speedway and then awarded the track a 2007 race date.
If the open-cockpit IndyCar Series racers have a successful test at Daytona, the IRL would return for a full-blown winter test in the days following the Jan. 27-28 Rolex 24 At Daytona, insiders said.
Though next year's IRL schedule is not complete, a 2008 race date would be more realistic if the test was successful. Daytona Beach News-Journal
08/11/06 The IndyCar Series and Daytona International Speedway are in discussions regarding a compatibility test at Daytona International Speedway in September.
The potential visit would allow IndyCar Series officials to determine the possibility of Daytona International Speedway to serve as a preseason testing venue.
“We have talked to International Speedway Corp. about alternative warm weather venues for our pre-season testing and that led to discussions regarding a compatibility test at Daytona,” said John Lewis, the Indy Racing league’s vice president of league development.
The potential compatibility test could allow series officials to see transitions onto the banking, tire wear/side loads and braking zones while looking for any challenging surface areas on the track.
“We’re happy to hold discussions with the Indy Racing League on the possibility of using Daytona as a testing venue in the future,” said DIS President Robin Braig.
Albers to Aguri or SpykerUPDATE (GMM) Dutch racer Christijan Albers has signed a contract to drive for Silverstone-based MF1 Racing, now owned and renamed by 'Spyker', in 2007.
The 27-year-old is closely linked with team shareholder Michiel Mol, boss of personal sponsor Lost Boys.
The 'Salzburger Nachrichten' newspaper added that Albers' contract contains an exit clause in the event that he is offered a drive for a works formula one outfit, and that current teammate Tiago Monteiro is unlikely to remain beyond the end of 2006.
Albers, meanwhile, insisted in an interview with 'Telegraaf' that - in the context of Michael Schumacher's impending retirement - more older drivers should consider making space on the grid for up-and-coming stars.
He said: ''But the teams are also to blame. They look at the familiar names too much.''
09/12/06 While it was assumed that Dutchman Christijan Albers would stay at Spyker MF1 Racing in 2007 now that it is owned by a Dutch consortium, recent rumors suggest that Albers may be off to Aguri Honda and Monteiro could keep his seat at Spyker. We have updated our 2007 F1 Silly Season page above accordingly.
Karthikeyan eyes Wurz's seat (GMM) Secondary team tester Narain Karthikeyan is hoping to replace Alex Wurz when Williams' official 'third' driver moves into the race seat in 2007.
The 29-year-old Indian, who stepped into the sport's background following his unspectacular debut for Jordan in 2005, is reportedly near a deal to land Wurz's job after convincing backer 'Tata' to renew their association with Sir Frank Williams' British team.
Evidence of a burgeoning role for Karthikeyan is his schedule to join Williams' four-day test at Silverstone next week.
He told the Calcutta-based Telegraph newspaper: ''I would like to take Alex Wurz's place.''
The newspaper said that a 'final decision' about Karthikeyan's role for 2007 'should be known sooner than later'.
Narain continued: ''I am in discussions. We will come to know about it in a few weeks' time.''
Danica Patrick sponsorUPDATE #2 This rumor, first broke by AutoRacing1.com, is upgraded to 'fact' today. Andretti Green Racing announced that Motorola would sponsor Danica Patrick's No. 7 car in 2007 and beyond. Associate sponsors are XM Satellite Radio, Argent Mortgage, GoDaddy.com and Air Tran Airways. Rumor has it that the Andretti Green Racing team alone has more sponsorship than the entire Champ Car field combined.
08/09/06 As first revealed by AutoRacing1.com, and now backed up by Robin Miller's article on SPEED, Motorola has signed a very big deal with AGR for Danica Patrick. We await the formal announcement from the team.
08/08/06 Curt Cavin writes in AutoWeek that rumors in the IRL suggest Danica Patrick will get "XM Satellite radio sponsorship for her car, perhaps even with a show on its dial. Think of that: All Danica, all the time."
However, AutoRacing1.com hears that Motorola will be her primary sponsor on her Andretti Green machine and they plan on some big things with her. Motorola sponsored Michael Andretti in the past in both CART and the IRL, so they had a previous relationship, but they were not planning on coming back until they heard Danica might come to the team. They then jumped at the opportunity we are told.
Perhaps XM will be an associate sponsor on her car.
Andrew Ranger eyes stock car future Speaking of CASCAR, all of a sudden it seems to be the place to be for two of Quebec's top open wheel racing drivers.
A week ago Patrick Carpentier, a veteran of both Champ Car and the Indy Racing League, drew high praise for his sixth-place finish after he climbed into the Dave Jacombs Racing No. 88 Ford for CASCAR's Labour Day Classic at Cayuga Speedway.
And this past Saturday at Montreal's Autodrome Ste. Eustache, 19-year-old Andrew Ranger, driver of the No. 27 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Lola in Champ Car, drove the same car to a 13th-place finish in his first try in the big sedans.
Both Carpentier and Ranger have been paying attention to the NASCAR talk in their home province and both are likely to make bids to be part of the shown there next season. Toronto Sun
[Editor's Note: If Andrew Ranger does not get enough sponsorship for Champ Car next year (no more Montreal race) one can bet NASCAR will find some sponsorship for him and he could become a stock car driver sooner than once thought.]
NASCAR to buy CASCARUPDATE #10 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. NASCAR today will unveil a Canadian-based stock car series that will feature a season-long points battle among the country's best drivers and end with the awarding of the Canadian Tire Cup.
The Toronto Sun has learned that a deal to sell CASCAR -- Canada's top stock car racing series -- to the France family business that is NASCAR will be made official at a news conference today in Toronto and that Canadian Tire has signed on as the title sponsor.
The deal, which has been two years in the making, will see NASCAR sanction a national stock car racing series in Canada on the foundation that has been laid by Tony Novotny and his wife, Linda, over the past 20 years.
"It's finally going to happen," Linda Novotny said yesterday. Toronto Sun
11/27/05 No big announcement tonight but NASCAR is getting closer to taking the checkered flag with its purchase of CASCAR. "I would like to be optimistic about that," CASCAR founder and president Tony Novotny said on the eve of the national Super Series and regional Sportsman Series awards banquet at the Hilton Hotel in London. The Free Press reported in early September, during the annual Labor Day weekend Super Series race at Delaware Speedway, that only the paperwork remained for CASCAR to be sold in its entirety to U.S.-based giant NASCAR. One source said yesterday there could be an official announcement in two weeks. "It's just guessing, like everyone else is, and that's including myself," said Novotny, who founded the Canadian Association for Stock Car Auto Racing in 1981. London Free Press
10/26/05 Canadian Jim Bray, years ago a NASCAR driver but currently fielding a car in CASCAR, is of the opinion NASCAR is in the process of acquiring that dominion-wide sanctioning body. He bases this view on seeing Richard Buck of NASCAR at all CASCAR races. Bray feels the purchase announcement will come at CASCAR’s season-ending banquet. NSSN
09/06/05 Only the paperwork remains for the Canadian CASCAR stock car racing circuit to be sold in its entirety to U.S.-based giant NASCAR. Negotiations have been ongoing for a year and a half and sources told The Free Press yesterday it's now in the hands of the lawyers. "It's not 'if,' it's 'when,' " one source said. Another said the takeover may lead to Canadians eventually driving in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, the top echelon in stock car racing. CASCAR was founded in 1981 and has maintained an office in Komoka. It's the largest stock car sanctioning body in the country. The national-touring Super Series began in 1988. NASCAR moved into Canada two years ago, establishing its Dodge Weekly Series at three tracks, including Delaware. Canadians have a huge interest in the Nextel Cup Series, and that could see a Busch or Craftsman Truck race in this country as early as next year. London Free PressMore ...
Stoner to re-sign with Honda Australian MotoGP star Casey Stoner is set to sign with Honda again next year, rebuffing offers from Yamaha and Ducati. The 20-year-old, who will race in the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island this weekend, said it was virtually certain he would remain with the LCR Honda team in 2007. He is just days away from inking the agreement which has been the focus of both Honda and his team boss Lucio Cecchinello.
"Right where I am now is where I expect to be in 2007," Stoner said.
"It looks like I'll be with the LCR team although I don't know if Honda have any other ideas.
"They are still figuring things out with all their teams - I'm not in a great panic.
"Honda seems reasonably happy with my performances this year.
"They gave us some new parts recently and they have listened to our feedback, which is nice. I'm pretty happy where I am."
Cosworth loses Toro Rosso contractUPDATE #2 (GMM) Toro Rosso, not sister team Red Bull Racing, is set to utilize the recently reported customer Renault engine deal in 2007.
German magazine Auto Motor Und Sport contends that Red Bull Racing has failed to escape from Ferrari's engine contract for next year, meaning that the Italian junior team - jointly owned by Dietrich Mateschitz and Gerhard Berger - is heading for French V8 power.
''The deal is almost completed,'' Berger said.
The German publication added that Ferrari's Jean Todt refused to simply transfer the Ferrari deal from Red Bull, but instead offered to also supply 2.4ltr engines to Toro Rosso.
Whichever Red Bull team is powered by Renault, however, the deal seals speculation that Faenza based Toro Rosso is set to abandon its unpopular policy of using rev-limited Cosworth V10s for next year.
09/06/06 Despite Ferrari yet to decide on their engine supply, Mateschitz revealed Toro Rosso had reached an agreement to part ways with current suppliers Cosworth at the end of the season, a year ahead of the end of their contract.
"This will be finished when the season ends," Mateschitz added. "We found an arrangement with (Cosworth co-owner) Kevin (Kalkhoven) in best mutual agreement."
09/05/06 (GMM) Dietrich Mateschitz has revealed that his second Red Bull team, Toro Rosso, will race into the 2007 season with V8 power plants.
The part Gerhard Berger-owned squad, based at Faenza in Italy, has used a restricted V10 Cosworth engine in 2006; a controversial policy that also leaves Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed a bit down on grunt.
But billionaire team owner Mateschitz insisted to Swiss magazine 'Motorsport Aktuell' that Toro Rosso must have a 'competitive car with a competitive engine' next year.
''And that means that there will be no more ten cylinder engine,'' the Austrian, 62, clarified.
Mateschitz also made his preference for the identity of Toro Rosso's future supplier clear, although it remains to be seen whether a certain 'Italian' marque agrees to transfer its 2007 contract from Red Bull Racing.
''We have an Italian (based) team,'' he said, ''and in Tonio Liuzzi an Italian driver.
''An Italian engine would fit well.'' This may explain why Cosworth is laying off so many people, having lost the Williams, and Toro Rosso contracts. Without a car manufacturer to badge their F1 engine, they will be lucky to land a contract with Midland. If they don't, the famous Cosworth marque is done in F1.
Spyker: Klien in, Monteiro or Albers out?UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. Following his Red Bull exit, Christian Klien could emerge in a Spyker-Midland car as soon as next month's Chinese GP.
It is reported that the 23-year-old Austrian is moving rapidly towards a deal to become the Dutch-Russian team's 'Friday' tester for the remaining three races of 2006.
Then, for next season, he is atop the list to race for Silverstone-based Spyker full time, probably as a teammate for Holland's continuing Christijan Albers.
''Before he separated from Red Bull, Klien was already on our list,'' Midland principal Colin Kolles was quoted as saying by Austrian broadcaster Oesterreichischer Rundfunk.
He added: ''Now that he is released, we are trying to get him into the third car as soon as possible.'' We have updated our 2007 F1 Silly Season Page above.
09/10/06 (GMM) Dumped Red Bull driver Christian Klien is in the running to land a race seat at the newly sold and renamed 'Spyker MF1 Racing' team, according to reports.
With Klien having rejected Red Bull's offer of a funded Champ Car ride for 2007, it is suggested that Spyker principal Colin Kolles now counts the 23-year-old Austrian as on the short list for next year.
''Even before the takeover Klien was a candidate,'' Kolles was quoted as saying by 'APA'.
''I have known him for a long time. He is a very good driver.''
There is a question mark at present over whether energy drink Red Bull is going to continue to back Klien, particularly if he is racing for a rival team, but Kolles suggested that money is not everything.
''It is good if a driver can bring sponsorship,'' he said. ''But it is not mandatory.''
If Klien lands a seat, which we doubt, that means that one of the existing MF1 Racing drivers, Tiago Monteiro or Christijan Albers, will be out of a ride. Monteiro is a former Champ Car driver, so he could return to that series should he lose his F1 ride. However, Monteiro brings money to the team and Klien does not (he has lost Red Bull's backing), so even though Kolles says it is not mandatory for Klien to bring money, you know it will influence the decision. Monteiro is a good driver, certainly every bit as good as Klien, if not better. Klien is highly overrated, having been beat by old man Coulthard who is almost old enough to be Klien's father.
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