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NASCAR could pass rule to hurt ToyotaUPDATE #2 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, This could lead to a breakaway series, because Ford likes what it has with the mega management of guys like Jack Roush, Robert Yates, and GM likes Hendrick, Joe Gibbs, and Dodge likes Penske and Evernham. Mordichai Rosen, Los Angeles. Dear Mordichai, NASCAR will find a way to appease the mega teams. If they don't, then you will have unhappy team owners and unhappy manufacturers, which could result in a breakaway series just to keep everyone employed. Perhaps some of the mega teams will also run cars in the soon-to-be Mexico and Canadian divisions of NASCAR. Mark C.10/08/05 NASCAR plans to limit the number of teams a car owner will be able to field in the Nextel Cup series, chairman Brian France said Saturday. ``We're going to make some adjustments in policy to balance the playing field a little better and really go after new ownership in the industry, really benefit and help the teams like the Wood Brothers, the Pettys, Cal Wells, independent teams that are finding themselves in ever increasing difficulties to compete.''
`It won't happen tomorrow,'' France said. ``But it would phase down from five to four to some other number.''
``We don't like the fact that the independent teams, or in particular a new owner looking at coming in the door, have a daunting task to compete, and the concept of having to have five teams, three teams ... that's why you haven't seen a lot of new ownership like a Ray Evernham come into the sport,'' France said.
``That means the opportunities aren't there for young drivers. It means opportunities aren't there to create the next Rick Hendrick and have the success. ``It ultimately means that we don't field as many competitive cars as we'd like to field. We're going to have to address that.''
FIA eye four new teams to replace manufacturers The pendulous fight for the future of formula one might be swinging back in Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA's favor.
It is reported that, faced with the threatened loss of Mercedes (McLaren), Renault, BMW, BAR-Honda and Toyota in 2008, the governing body has lined up at least four new teams for the 2008 championship.
With Ferrari, Red Bull, Minardi, Jordan and - possibly - Williams, that would ensure a near-full grid even without the errant carmakers.
The FIA told The Sunday Telegraph: ''We have had a number of serious approaches.''
Teams have until March 2006 to commit to Ecclestone's new 2008-2012 'Concorde' agreement.
An anonymous team principal remarked: ''News of the existence of these parties who are supposedly interested in joining formula one is clearly designed to break GPMA. ''It's a crude threat.''
The news coincides with the latest 'GPMA'-attack on Ecclestone and Max Mosley, courtesy of BMW and breakaway bigwig Burkhard Goeschel in the German Welt am Sonntag newspaper. He said: ''Ecclestone's system is sitting on a thin branch. A reform has to take place -- for the benefit of the sport.''
In the end, Bernie Ecclestone will win this war. He always does.
Second team for Honda?UPDATE #4 See this related rumor which says Suzuki claims to not be involved in the new Honda team and other names are being speculated. 10/08/05 Well-connected sources in the Suzuka paddock insist that the mysterious 11th Honda-supported F1 team will be run by Aguri Suzuki and the Dome organization, and that the project is now virtually certain to go ahead.
When confronted with the suggestion, BAR team principal Nick Fry smiled broadly and said, “I can’t comment.”
Both names have already been mentioned in connection with the much talked-about team, but not previously as a package. Earlier this week Dome denied its involvement to Japanese journalists.
The one thing that does make Dome an obvious partner in the project is that it the constructor has a top-class manufacturing facility. Given a full set of drawings of this year’s BAR 007, the company would have little trouble producing a subtly modified replica to take next year’s Honda V8. More at SPEEDTV.com
10/07/05 Former F1 driver Aguri Suzuki's 'Super Aguri' racing company is most likely behind the Honda 'b' team, it is believed. In the Suzuka paddock, the rumor mill now agrees that the possible 11th 2006 F1 team is backed by a Japanese group -- the Dome company, that looked into entering the sport in the 90s, was a candidate until bosses issued denials.
BAR-Honda principal Nick Fry, meanwhile, gave short thrift to speculation that Honda is keen to be involved in the mysterious team chiefly because it would further strengthen the carmakers' plight in the war over F1's future.
Honda is a signatory of the recent Munich agreement to stick with the 'breakaway' solution -- and so too, goes the theory, would the 'B' team. ''You would be completely wrong to read that into it,'' he insisted. ''It has no connection.''
10/06/05 The mystery surrounding a possible Honda-related eleventh 2006 formula one team has created a distinct buzz in the Suzuka GP paddock.
Although cynics titter at the timing of the bombshell - what with a potential Japanese furor about Takuma Sato's dumping bubbling beneath the surface - there is definitely substance to all the noise about the anonymous team.
''It is very difficult to put together a team in five or six months,'' a wry Flavio Briatore remarked of the news.
True, but BAR-Honda boss Nick Fry - clearly privy to some behind-the-scenes detail about the story - put the probability of a 2006 'b team' debut at 65 per cent.
''But it is not a Honda b-team,'' he protested.
Fry said: ''The (Honda V8) engines will be sold to them. Nothing is 100 per cent sure, but it's promising.''
Obviously, the mysterious team will have trouble building a car from scratch, leading to speculation that - although strictly against the F1 rules - the 2005 BAR 007 will form a basis for the racer. The team may also, like BAR, be based at Brackley.
Also strengthening the Honda link is Fry's revelation that team tester Anthony Davidson - like Japan's Sato - is in the frame to take a cockpit. ''Taku has already indicated that he's been approached,'' the BAR principal said, ''and all we've said is that we imagine Anthony's in the frame.''
F1's potential 11th team has until November 15 to lodge an official 2006 entry -- and the $48m FIA bond
The Super Aguri organization, the group of racing teams which are run by former Grand Prix driver Aguri Suzuki, will likely field the 'B' team. It is quite likely, given the short time involved, that the team would be run from the BAR headquarters in Brackley.
Polish driver to get Minardi seatUPDATE #2 Robert Kubica's hopes of driving the third Minardi car at Shanghai in a week have taken a hit because the Polish driver has not yet won an FIA super license.
Team principal Paul Stoddart has told the 'world series by Nissan' champion that he can steer the 'Friday' PS05 in China, but only if he somehow manages to convince the governing body that he should be given the mandatory document.
A super license is only handed out after 300kms of F1 testing under FIA supervision. Kubica has not done this. ''If I don't receive the super license by Monday,'' Kubica admitted, ''I will not fly to China.''
10/03/05 Polish driver Robert Kubica will take the wheel of Minardi's 'Friday' car in China, if the FIA grant him a mandatory superlicense. The 'world series by Renault' leader would replace Enrico Toccacelo, who - while the F1 circus raced in Brazil - recently drove for Italy in the A1 category. Kubica is twenty. 09/29/05 There is a chance that Poland's Robert Kubica will be seen in the third Minardi at the Japanese and Chinese Grands Prix in October. Kubica is currently leading the way in the Renault World Series with four wins and a big advantage in the points as the series goes into its final races at Estoril this weekend and Monza on October 22-23. Thus far the 20-year-old from Krakow has scored 12 times in 17 races for his Epsilon Euskadi team, which is run by former F1 man Joan Villadelprat. Kubica has been racing since 2001, initially in Formula Renault and then in Formula 3. He moved to the World Series by Renault this year. Grandprix.com
Pedro unlikely for F1 return, Champ Car next? Pedro de la Rosa is unlikely to return to the grand prix grid in 2006. The McLaren tester, who had been in talks with the BMW works team, told Spanish daily 'As' that there are 'no good seats' left for next year.
''When BMW signed (Nick) Heidfeld,'' the 34-year-old Spaniard - former racer for Arrows and Jaguar - said, ''a lot of opportunities vanished.
''I don't get it -- I can't do anything more.''
De la Rosa's racing grit shone through when he replaced Juan Pablo Montoya at Bahrain, and he reckons he is driving quickly in testing.
He thinks his age is putting teams off. ''If I was twenty,'' de la Rosa explained, ''I'd be formula one's man of the moment.''
Why Champ Car doesn't go after him is beyond us as obviously he is one of the quickest drivers in the world, and 34 years old is not too old. This guy deserves a race seat before he retires.
Ferrari may run 8 cylinder V10 Ferrari has revealed that they may run an 8 cylinder V10 engine instead of a full V8 for 2006. A regulation designed for lesser funded teams, Ferrari may take advantage of this loophole for their new car which will debut as early as January.
"We plan to bring the new car in during January, so it will be earlier than previous cars," said Ross Brawn. "The new engine has been running in a hybrid car and is being updated and revised as we go along. It will continue to run for the next four or five months and that has the longest lead time of all the parts.
"We will start running the new car from the middle of January and until then we will continue tire testing and will be running two cars, one with an experimental engine, a V10 with eight cylinders, and one the proper V8."
2nd Honda F1 team could also spell doom for the IRL Do the rumors of a second Honda F1 team led by Aguri Suzuki mark the end of Suzuki's involvement in IRL? How could he be involved with IRL, when running an F1 team for Honda, which in itself is a formidable task? Also, what does this mean for Honda's continuation in IRL? They're spending a lot of money in F1 already, a second F1 team is going to push that number even higher. Then of course there are rumors of the Honda to NASCAR and the ALMS here in the USA. And what about Adrian Fernandez, who was teamed with Suzuki in the IRL? Another ominous sign of doom in the IRL paddock.
Honda move to NASCAR could leave IRL high and dry We are increasingly hearing rumors that Honda is indeed going to NASCAR and the ALMS. Honda's Robert Clarke has made it clear they are in racing to compete against other manufacturers, of which NASCAR and ALMS has. In 2007 the IRL may be left with no engine manufacturers as it is doubtful Honda will stick around to beat itself despite Clarke saying they could supply the entire field. Honda will also shift all its marketing dollars to ALMS and NASCAR and, if they did stay in the IRL, it is believed to be for profit reasons - lease engines to teams and make a profit.
The end result could be that Penske bought Ilmor to ensure an engine supply to the IRL while OWRS has Cosworth to ensure an engine supply for Champ Car. In essence the entire sport of IndyCar Racing could become manufacture less and cash poor. It remains to be seen whether the sport can survive, let alone prosper, with zero car manufacturer support. With NASCAR and F1 sucking up sponsors and manufacturers at an alarming rate, the end result of Tony George's decision to split the sport will be clear and he will have stamped his legacy on a sport that once ruled American motorsports.
Cars to move to different series? NASCAR's rumored game plan for the 2007 car of the future is slowly becoming clearer. When the new, larger car is phased in in 2007, the current Nextel Cup cars would become Busch tour cars, and the current Busch cars (which have a smaller 105-inch wheelbase than the 110-inch Cup cars) will become part of a new Grand National series in Mexico, Canada, the Western U.S., and possibly England, according to NASCAR sources. Winston Salem Journal
Toyota might axe Schumacher The weather Gods were working for Toyota and Ralf Schumacher on Saturday, who put in his lap before front gunners Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya were left without a paddle.
''I'm happy to take this slice of luck,'' Germany's Ralf - whose usually inspirational-in-qualifying teammate Jarno Trulli spun into the gravel - grinned in Japan.
Ironically, 30-year-old Schumacher gave an interview to the 'Bild' newspaper this week admitting that he had to up his game against Italian Trulli.
''I know that I must improve in qualifying,'' Ralf conceded. He even had to dodge a question relating to speculation that Toyota has a clause in his contract allowing the team to dump him before the end of the agreement.
''I find it amusing that people on the outside know so much about my contract,'' Schumacher replied. ''I can not, and do not want to, reveal any details of my contract.''
Meanwhile, Toyota technical director Mike Gascoyne urged Ralf and the team to 'capitalize' on the lucky pole and 'win the race' on Sunday.
F1 split now ’inevitable’? A 'breakaway' grand prix-style championship is now almost inevitable.
That's the insistence of two players on or near the inside of the carmakers' ploy to make more money, amid failing negotiations with the FIA and formula one supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
''We have nearly reached the point of no return,'' said BMW's Burkhard Goeschel, who is chief of the 'GPMA' alliance.
He told Reuters: ''The decision should happen within this year.''
A genuine split into two would be a disaster for the pinnacle of motor sport, with carmakers BMW, Mercedes, Renault, Honda and Toyota on one side, and Ferrari on the other.
"I think we are heading now sadly to two series," said Paul Stoddart. "It is looking increasingly more obvious. The manufacturers have made a very clear statement that they want a fair and equitable Formula One. But I can't see (FIA president) Max Mosley backing down and equally I can't see the manufacturers backing down so I suppose the net result of that is that there will be most likely the two championships which everybody fears."
Brawn could replace Todt According to a murmur in the Suzuka paddock, technical director Ross Brawn would take Ferrari's top job if Jean Todt retires at the end of 2006.
Although both scarlet players' contracts expire in unison, Englishman Brawn is known to want to keep charging at Maranello. Exactly the same cannot be said for Todt, who has left the retirement door half open.
In fact, France's Todt is even tipped to assist Luca di Montezemolo higher up the food chain.
''At the moment the priority should be returning Ferrari to the front,'' Brawn told the 'Premiere' TV network, ''so that is where my focus is.
''Other things are more important at the moment.
''In addition, I am an engineer at heart, and I would give that up very reluctantly.''
Behind the scene fights over NASCAR engines NASCAR officials wrestle with Toyota executives over changes in engine design that NASCAR would like Toyota to make in Toyota's NASCAR V-8, which is currently run on the Truck tour (but of very similar design to a Nextel Cup-legal motor).
"The Toyota people have gotten very 'bowed up' over that," according to one top NASCAR team manager familiar with the talks.
The Toyota Truck engine has been a bone of contention among rivals this season, particularly after Toyota's impressive summer winning streak. Ford's Jack Roush says that the Toyota engine is superior to the other three makes. Chevrolet's Richie Gilmore, who runs Dale Earnhardt Inc., says that one key aspect of the Toyota engine is its light weight, "160 pounds less than the others." That's because of both design and metallurgy.
Rather than spend large sums to match the Toyota NASCAR designs, Ford, Dodge and GM are pushing NASCAR to force Toyota to change its engine instead, which Toyota is naturally resisting, apparently very vigorously. [Editor's Note; Welcome to NASCAR Toyota......as Honda quietly readies its NASCAR assault.]
That controversy over the Toyota engine may have been a major reason for Toyota's decision to abandon plans to field teams on the Busch tour in 2006.
Two years ago General Motors proposed a new NASCAR engine that would meet the Toyota challenge, but NASCAR officials, after initially approving the design, abruptly killed it, without explanation.
Over the winter, NASCAR officials began a series of meetings with top stock-car racing engine men to lay out a blueprint for a brand-new, NASCAR-type V-8, with goals including small cubic-inch displacement and 100 less horsepower.
That project was an attempt to get Toyota "back in the box," by bringing engines under tighter specs. However NASCAR abruptly killed that program in June, again without explanation. Then last month, as Toyota went on its winning streak, NASCAR found itself under pressure again to rein in Toyota. Now GM engine men have scheduled a major meeting within the next few days on the engine issue. Winston Salem-Journal
Team Rahal dusting off their LolasUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Received the following message from the Rahal team: Rahal Letterman Racing doesn't own any Lolas. We sold them all to Derrick Walker last year. Rahal Team Spokesperson10/06/05 Our spies deep inside of Team Rahal tell us that the team has taken their Champ Car Lolas out of storage. Is that to sell them or is that for a rumored return of the team to a partial or full Champ Car schedule in 2006 as rumored elsewhere on these pages? Perhaps the team will do what the Ganassi team is rumored to be doing - running a partial Champ Car schedule in 2006 in markets their sponsors want to be in.
Wheldon to re-sign with AGRUPDATE #2 Indianapolis 500 and Indy Racing League champion Dan Wheldon was Andretti Green Racing's representative in a Firestone tire test this week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That doesn't necessarily mean he is a lock to return in 2006. Wheldon said his contract situation for next year has yet to be resolved but will be soon. "I'm worn out talking about it," he said Thursday. "But I'm still contracted to the team and I'm going to help them as much as I can, whether I'm back here or not." Indy Star08/23/05 IRL Driver Dan Wheldon, whose contract with Andretti Green Racing expires at the end of this season, said, “Right now I am a free agent and I am exploring my options. … I have been approached by NASCAR, F1 and IRL teams” ST. PETERSBURG TIMES 08/22/05 Dan Wheldon appears set to re-sign with Andretti Green Racing for the 2006 season and beyond. Team owner Michael Andretti said keeping Wheldon, who has five IRL victories this season, including the Indianapolis 500, would be "expensive." But he expects to keep him. "We're sure that's going to happen," he said. Indy Star
Michelin and Bridgestone divide up ’06 gridUPDATE An official announcement is still missing, but Toyota has effectively confirmed that it will switch from Michelin to Bridgestone tires for the 2006 F1 season. Michelin's Edouard Michelin let the cat out of the bag at Spa-Francorchamps a few races ago when he said: ''We will no longer supply Toyota.''
Asked about Michelin's unsubstantiated revelation, Toyota principal Tsutomu Tomita said at Suzuka that ''it is a good time to reconsider the (tire) contracts. ''Michelin's tire performance is getting better and better but I am very sure the Bridgestone tire will be very nice for us.''
09/10/05 Rumor has it that Michelin will announce this evening in Spa that it will supply the following teams in 2006: Renault, McLaren, BMW, BAR Honda and Red Bull Ferrari
Therefore, Bridgestone will be supplying: Ferrari, Jordan Toyota, Minardi, Toyota and Williams Cosworth.
Busch eyes possible open wheel go Now that he has signed a multiyear contract to drive for legendary team owner Roger Penske in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series beginning in 2007, Kurt Busch admitted he has entertained thoughts of one day driving one of Penske's open-wheel race-cars.
In addition to owning a three-car NASCAR team, Penske has enjoyed unparalleled success in open-wheel racing with 11 national championships, 13 Indianapolis 500 victories and more than 120 race wins.
"I'm not closing the door on it," Busch said of getting behind the wheel of an IndyCar. "Working together with Penske Racing could lead to more opportunities; he's like a god when he walks around at Indianapolis.
"I know that getting a career started this late -- 27 years old -- in open-wheel isn't the best thing to do. But if we dabbled here and there, you should definitely look out for Kurt Busch having some fun."
Not that Busch plans to give up stock cars for IndyCars. "It's a great thing that I have going with the NASCAR Cup car right now," said Busch, who drives for Roush Racing.
Busch is not exactly a rookie when it comes to driving the sophisticated open-wheel cars. In 2003, Busch drew rave reviews from several Champ Car World Series drivers after taking an 18-lap spin in Michel Jourdain Jr.'s Champ Car during a test session at Sebring International Raceway in Florida. Las Vegas Sun
Toyota in $20m Alonso bid? According to reports in the German press, Cologne based team Toyota may have made a $20m per-year offer to new world champion Fernando Alonso to switch from Renault in 2007.
This year, the 24-year-old Spaniard - managed by Renault principal Flavio Briatore - earned a comparatively cool $5.5m.
Some of the more cynical observers point to some sort of falling-out between Alonso and Briatore, after the latter Italian chief failed to make the walk from the pitlane to parc ferme to greet his driver after the title-triumphing Interlagos race.
Then, 'Flav' did not appear in any of the team photos, and opted to fly out of Brazil on Sunday evening rather than join Alonso's party.
''I don't know what happened,'' Briatore explained to reporters in Japan, ''the emotion. I think I just needed privacy.''
So what about trying to match that $20m offer, Flavio? ''I don't want to discuss what I do with Fernando with you guys,'' he smiled to the press.
Klien - 'no decision' yet Christian Klien says his formula one bosses have not yet decided who will be David Coulthard's teammate in the 'senior' grand prix team next year.
Although the Austrian is definitely favorite, there is some suggestion in F1 circles that Vitantonio Liuzzi's supporters are desperate that the Italian should land the ride, as opposed to a 'rookie' Minardi.
''Only one thing is certain,'' 22-year-old Klien explained at Suzuka. ''We will both drive in formula one in 2006. At the moment I can only assume that I will stay where I am.''
Red Bull-backed Christian, who was Mark Webber's Jaguar teammate last year, pounded in an excellent qualifying at Brazil a fortnight ago to totally eclipse Coulthard's time.
He denied that it had anything to do with the team's announcement that Klien, not Italian housemate Liuzzi, would race at Japan and China.
''That had nothing to do with it,'' Christian retorted. ''It was simply a great lap!''
Even the top eight in Japan, though - a single point - looks like a distant hope for Sunday's grand prix. ''We are at the end of the season,'' Klien said, referring to the fact that Red Bull have struggled to keep up with the development of top teams.
Has Champ Car lost DHL?UPDATE Another reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1: concerning DHL and Champ Car, I see newly defined sponsor value for any shipping company. With Cedric the Entertainer becoming involved in Champ Car, the series will both be on the radar of and be more hip with an entire new demographic (that includes all colors). This will increase the value to DHL of a presence in Champ Car as a lot of those who make shipping carrier decisions out there in the work world are aware of and get laughs from Cedric. Tom Finlay 10/06/05 A reader asks, Dear Autoracing1, With DHL announcing their sponsorship of the Penske Racing ALMS team today, does this spell the end of DHL sponsorship in Champ Car? Joe Farley, Indianapolis, IN. Dear Joe, It remains to be seen whether Champ Car can keep a big sponsor like DHL in the series. We would not be at all surprised if Penske did a deal with DHL whereby DHL got all of Porsche's overnight delivery business worldwide in exchange for the sponsorship. That would be a typical Roger Penske orchestrated scenario and you can bet Penske and Porsche will put DHL in the winners circle at Sebring and LeMans. They are not winning in Champ Car and that can't be a good thing, but we'll just have to see what happens with Timo Glock, as he is the one who brought the DHL sponsorship into Champ Car. Mark C.
HVM team closing on a sponsorship deal We quizzed HVM co-owner Keith Wiggins today on whether Cedric the Entertainer will help him bring sponsorship to the CTE-HVM team
Q. Keith, you've struggled with finding sponsorship here these last two years. Other teams have, as well. As Cedric said, he's going to try to bring sponsorship to the team. Are you close on any kind of announcements yet?
KEITH WIGGINS: Yes, we are. As you know, the team was in pretty good shape at the end -- this year, from February onwards, we knew the big picture had changed. This year has been a tough year. We've battled through it. The whole team has been a team. The good guys have stuck together to work through it.
"In the meantime, we've been working very hard this year, as I mentioned earlier. Kevin has worked hard on this with us, Jason, the other group. Vince has done a great job keeping the whole program together. We've been working in the background on a number of deals. Some of those are looking very good.
"I think in the background obviously we've been talking about this situation for quite some time. You know, Cedric's group brings a whole heap of resources and contacts and their own marketing that more than doubles what we have. Those deals have been bubbling, as well. There's going to be a lot more momentum now after today's announcement."
Will Champ Car finally get some diversity We asked Cedric the Entertainer if he could bring some diversity to the all-white world of Champ Car racing.
Q. In the past we've seen Bill Cosby trying to help out Willy T. Ribbs. We see in NASCAR this diversity program where they're trying to turn what has historically been an all-white sport into being more diversified. Do you see yourself maybe trying to help out here with Champ Car, bringing in some diversity as far as drivers go?
CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: You know, I think we're approaching this as an opportunity to really bring some excitement into the world of the Champ Car Series. I think it would be only natural for me to look for opportunities to increase the minority participation in here, not be a martyr for it, but definitely look for the opportunity to introduce, you know, some minorities into this world from the mechanical end, team ownership and drivers. All of these things we will definitely try to look at as something that will be a part of my involvement and participation.
Keith, do you have anything on that?
KEITH WIGGINS: Obviously, we're all focused on the same goal, which is to win races and take the best drivers, whatever is necessary to do it, the same as we always have. That's an important ingredient which we're all on the same plane there.
At the same time, because we're always interested to make it more interesting, there are opportunities to help drivers at different levels to come up, you're always looking at giving opportunities in areas where there might not normally be, where we can all help. When you find the right guys, they're ready to take on the challenge. We're always looking.
Mock Car of Tomorrow race planned? NASCAR’s car of tomorrow [COT] will get another test drive on Monday, October 31st following the cup race in Atlanta. The teams of Jack Roush, Roger Penske, Rick Hendrick, Ray Evernham, Joe Gibbs, DEI, Richard Childress and Richard Petty are planning on bringing their first versions of the bigger car. While the first race with the car of tomorrow is tentatively set for a year from now, NASCAR will stage a mock race after the 2006 July event at Daytona with 25 or 30 cars to give the drivers and teams a feel for what the new vehicle will do under competitive conditions. Teams may have to run it in every race beginning with the 2007 season; however Jack Roush says he and other owners have campaigned for a gradual phase in when they met with NASCAR last week. Roush said, “If it goes far enough out so that we can balance out our existing cars and our existing parts the cost will be significant but it will be minimal. If they would decide that starting in 2006 or 2007 we had to run all the races with all the cars it would be a much worse problem so they (NASCAR) are open minded, they are thinking about the schedule and if they’ll relent and accept the schedule that we have proposed at that time the cost will be certainly palatable.” PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show
Cosworth then Toyota in Williams futureUPDATE #2 Toyota is about to double its involvement in F1 with a deal to supply engines to Williams in 2007. This will probably be announced this weekend and will mean Cosworth will be left with just Minardi in 2007. 07/12/05 There may be an engine deal done by the Williams team for 2006 but that does not mean that the final plan is yet decided. Our spies tell us that the team could have Cosworth V8 engines in 2006 and will then switch to Lexus-badged Toyota engines in 2007 and beyond but there is still work going behind the scenes to see whether or not the Williams-Toyota relationship can begin immediately. This makes sense for both parties and the only problems appear to ones of practicality and finance. The chief problem is that Toyota has a deal on the table with Jordan Grand Prix. This is all well and good but a deal is only a deal when money changes hands and the word in the F1 paddock is that this is something which the Russian owners have problems with at the moment. If payment had been made, the deal would have been announced. It has not been announced. Therefore, there is also the bigger question of money because Williams is a team which does not want to pay for its engines, indeed, it has a right to ask any manufacturer for money. In Formula 1 you get what you pay for when it comes to the teams.
Williams has a lot of problems to sort out at the same time because the departure of BMW may also mean the departure of German firms such as Allianz. The future of Hewlett-Packard is also a little up in the air, but that is not new. The American computer giant has been uncertain about F1 for some time as the deal, you may recall, started out as a Compaq sponsorship before that takeover took place. More at Grandprix.com
Something big up at Champ CarUPDATE #7 This rumor is now 'fact' with today's announcement. See Home Page for the story. 10/06/05 This rumor is about to go to 'fact' today as we hear HVM will make a big announcement this afternoon. 08/13/05 There won't be any Williams Cosworth announcement here in Denver this weekend as we hear that Williams wants to make the announcement in Europe. There will be the 2006 schedule announcement midday today, but other than that there are no other scheduled press conferences this weekend. We remain at a loss as to what Mr. Forsythe meant. We assume something has changed. As for the Cedric announcement, we heard the deal was finally signed, but being in the entertainment business, prefers an announcement in Las Vegas. So that leaves just the schedule announcement this weekend. 08/11/05 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, This big announcement from Forsythe and company has me confused, as does your most recent report. An announcement about Cosworth for WilliamsF1 does not make sense with regard to Champ Car, at least not "something big up at Champ Car". I know that this was just a rumor, but something just doesn't add up in my mind. Perhaps there is more to this than we know. Maybe a joint sponsor deal with Intel for both Williams and Forsythe for instance. Just a wild guess. Perhaps you can expand on your comment of figuring out what you believed it was in the earlier thread, but would not comment on it out of courtesy to GF. Obviously you had something else figured out. Deke McTeer, Twin Lake, MI Dear Deke, Anything is possible. As for Intel, we expect them to take a bigger role in F1 and Champ Car, but we can't say this is what Mr. Forsythe meant. Stay tuned and we'll all soon find out, Mark C.08/10/05 We are hearing that the big announcement Gerald Forsythe was referring to was probably an announcement that Cosworth got the Williams engine contract. We hear that Frank Williams was thought to be flying into Denver for the announcement, though we would be surprised given his physical handicaps that make travel very difficult. We're not sure what this has to do with Champ Car though........Another rumor still out there was that Cedric the Entertainer was to be announced as a co-team owner, originally in San Jose, then supposedly Denver. Nothing confirmed, so we shall see, but we are certain the Cosworth Williams deal is signed, sealed and delivered. Of course we will see the preliminary '06 work-in-progress Champ Car schedule this weekend as well. Mark C.
Is the IRL ’Circling the Drain’? From the Indy Star: Question: The new schedule for the IRL is depressing. It looks like the IRL is slowly circling the drain. Hasn't the IRL just become a feeder series for F1 and NASCAR? (Joe from Avon, Ind.)
Answer: First of all, I love the phrase "circling the drain." My best friend uses it frequently. Secondly, I agree with you. Sad, but true.
Question: Any truth to the rumors that the ol' Chipster is going to drag his team back to the Champ Car series? Do you see any teams making the switch to Champ Car? (Barry from Richmond, Va.)
Answer: Chip Ganassi continues to deny that he's leaving the IRL. But he hasn't denied that he's interested in participating in selected Champ Car races that benefit his sponsor, Target, which isn't exactly thrilled with the future (or present) of open-wheel racing. I'd say this is an appeasement, and a good one.
Sato and Davidson to drive for Honda 'B' team Anthony Davidson and Takuma Sato will probably be the drivers for the new Honda 'B' team next year.
"Anthony has got a good chance," said Honda's Nick Fry. "He has proven himself and he keeps proving himself.
"At the last test, last week, he did an absolutely sensational job and he wants to drive a race car. He is well known to Honda and we would not stand in his way, even though it would be a loss to our testing efforts if he went elsewhere.
"I am sure he would have both our and Honda's backing and we would applaud someone who wanted to take him up."
"It is obviously a very good place for Taku to go," added Fry. "Obviously with Honda engine backing, the same engine as we are using next year, it is not going to be an out of date engine. So it is promising for him."
Grand-Am undecided about Mexico in 2006 A couple of weeks ago, we announced 12 weekends of the 14 that we plan to hold. I mentioned to our teams and the people in the paddock that we are still working on our Southern California date and our date in Mexico, and now that we are able to make this announcement the only remaining question mark on our schedule, other than the details on race lengths and whether we are going to race on Saturday or Sunday at certain facilities, the only remaining question on weekends is whether or not we will race at Mexico City in March with the Busch Series, or whether we will be there at the end of the year as we are this year with Champ Car. That decision will be made in the next few days working with our promoters in Mexico City. The major piece of the puzzle on the domestic front was the inclusion of the Toyota Grand Prix at Long Beach, and now that question is answered. We are ready to move forward. - - Roger Edmondson, President of Grand-Am
Trans-Am at Long Beach Trans-Am will be the 6th race on the Long Beach weekend card if there is a Trans-Am next year. The five known events are Champ Car, Atlantics, Drifting, Toyota Pro Celebrity, Grand-Am and a yet to be named 6th event, which will probably be Trans-Am.
Reutimann may run Cup race at Charlotte Darrell Waltrip's Truck Series driver, #17-David Reutimann will test a Michael Waltrip-owned Nextel Cup car at Atlanta today, and if all goes well, Reutimann will try to qualify it for the UAW-GM 500 Oct. 15 at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte. Reutimann, ninth in the truck standings, hasn't raced in Nextel Cup. He failed to qualify for the 2003 Brickyard 400 in a Morgan-McClure Motorsports car. Waltrip's #00 car came from Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s short-track stable. It didn't test well at Charlotte recently [with Reutimann testing], but Waltrip's team has made some major changes to it. "I tested Michael's Busch car for him a couple of times this year," Reutimann said. "I told him a while back, if he ever had an opportunity, I would love to drive for him. He asked me to test some of his stuff, and this is just another opportunity." Tampa Tribune
Grand-Am may team with Champ Car at LBUPDATE #4 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement. A 2006 return with Champ Car to Mexico City is still under discussion. Check out AutoRacing1.com's Home page for the details. 10/04/05 Looks like this rumor will become 'fact' on Wednesday. What the local media is saying: Grand American leaves Fontana, heads to Long Beach By Louis Brewster and A.J. Perez, Staff Writers
The Grand American Series the road racing circuit owned by members of NASCAR's France family is apparently leaving California Speedway and heading to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach lineup.
A news conference is scheduled for Wednesday when series and Long Beach race officials are expected to announce the deal that will bring the cars featured in the 24 Hours of Daytona to the streets of Long Beach, sources with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed.
The 2006 LBGP is set for April 7-9.
Jim Michaelian, the CEO of the Grand Prix Association, declined comment. California Speedway president Gillian Zucker was unavailable for comment.
While Long Beach evidently is gaining a date, it also appears California Speedway will lose the series in 2006. Both the Grand Am Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup have been part of the Fontana racing schedule since 2003.
Nate Siebens, a Grand-Am spokesman, would neither confirm or deny the Long Beach date. However, he did say talks between the sanctioning body and the speedway, owned by International Speedway Corp., are ongoing.
Jim France, a member of the Grand Am leadership, also is a member of the ISC board.
10/04/05 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I'm a little disappointed that the American LeMans Series won't be at Long Beach. Instead the Grand-Am series will be with Champ Car during the race weekend (rumored). There have been a lot of rumors and speculation that the Grand-Am may be sharing the race weekend with Champ Car at Portland, Monterrey, Mexico, Cleveland and Montreal. Why did the American LeMans Series/Champ Car weekend race schedule fall apart? Alistair Fennell, Springfield MO.
Dear Alistair, Champ Car will be racing with ALMS in Houston, and as far as we know, that is the only venue for 2006. In 2006 Grand-Am will race with Champ Car in Long Beach (rumored), and Mexico City. We might see Grand-Am with Champ Car or NASCAR Busch in Montreal in 2007. We predict you will see Champ Car doing more business with the France family each year as time goes on. At one time CART was an ally with Penske because they raced on many of his ovals (Nazareth, Michigan, Fontana and Homestead, actually CART raced only one year at Homestead under ISC before it was switched to an IRL event) and then ISC bought those tracks from Penske in 2000. When CART moved away from the ovals to more road racing, they became an adversary rather than a potential business partner and the France family aligned with Tony George's IRL series because they would race at their tracks, in essence becoming the business partner to ISC that CART would have been when Penske sold his tracks to ISC. More recently we have seen the trend turn the other way, the France family doing more business with CART/Champ Car and less with the IRL. Perhaps by coincidence, or perhaps not, the negative media attacks on Champ Car are almost non-existent today.
Grand-Am suffers with horrible attendance at most of its road course events. We believe the France family likes the idea of aligning Grand-Am with Champ Car because Champ Car has many successful urban events and that gives them an opportunity to showcase their product to a wider audience. We are still of the opinion that Grand-Am cars simply look too ugly and are a bit too dumbed down to ever become hugely successful, but that might change over time.
Bottom line: Champ Car has made a concerted effort to align itself with the powerful France family and in the long run that could be a good thing for them, and a bad thing for the IRL, whose future becomes increasingly more doubtful with each passing day. We laid out our reasons for why the IRL model would eventually not succeed ten years ago and all of our predictions are coming true. While everyone now realizes how bad the IRL has been for the sport, and that it eventually must be merged back into Champ Car, doing so with Tony George and his lieutenants (who feed at the Hulman George money trough) in the way won't be easy. Mark C.
Kenseth renegotiating with Roush Matt Kenseth was busy testing last week at Kansas and Charlotte, and while his immediate concern was working on his Busch setups, the 2003 Cup champion and his fellow Roush racers also have been thinking about the personnel turnover that will come at the end of this season. "Definitely people come at your good guys with money, especially during contract years," Kenseth says. "It's not as bad as the NFL yet, but that's all part of the sport. You have to audit your own system and keep up with incentives and keep up with the payroll because other teams will do what it takes to get your drivers and your crew members that they want." Kenseth is renegotiating his own contract but says, "I'm certainly planning on staying at Roush." Sporting News
NASCAR eyes Mexican series Similar to its purchase of CASCAR in Canada, NASCAR is looking to monopolize stock car racing on the entire North American continent. Rumor has it that talks are ongoing with the Desafio Corona Series, Mexico’s only national stock-car series, about an alliance with NASCAR.
New Porsche to smoke ALMS field The debut of Porsche’s all-new LMP2 car was postponed from the Petit Le Mans due to concerns about the stamina of its chassis. There are no concerns about its speed, however, as test runs at Road Atlanta only days before the Petit Le Mans ran resulted in a lap time not only faster than the best recorded by all LMP2 qualifiers, but better than all LMP1 qualifying times as well! National Speed Sport News
Champ Car still eyes Asia Don't think for one minute that Champ Car has given up on Asia and the Pacific Rim just because the South Korea race was cancelled for the second year in a row. Kevin Kalkhoven and company are over in Otaru, Japan and Beijing this week working those deals. In Otaru they are holding a press conference and surveying the two or three chosen downtown sites for the race. The police department must approve the race circuit. They wield a lot of power in Japan.
In Beijing we assume they are meeting with government officials to figure out what they want to do until the downtown Olympic site becomes available. There are a couple of options as we understand it. Their next stop? Surfers Paradise, Australia.
NASCAR to suspend another cheaterUPDATE #2 This cheater has been suspended even longer. See Hot News page for the details. 10/01/05 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact.' Crew chief Todd Berrier was suspended for Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway after Kevin Harvick's car failed inspection. Harvick qualified second for the race, but his Chevrolet was disqualified after NASCAR found three violations in the trunk area. Car owner Richard Childress was called into the NASCAR office Saturday morning and informed Berrier was ordered from the track. It's not clear how long the suspension will last. Berrier sat out four races at the beginning of this season when he was caught rigging Harvick's fuel tank. He also was fined $25,000 and the team was docked points. Childress spent an hour arguing with NASCAR on Berrier's behalf. "If I said what I wanted to say right now I'd probably be in bigger trouble than Todd," Childress said. "All I can say is it's a new era in NASCAR." ESPN.com/AP
PLEASE GIVE US YOUR OPINION ON THE SITUATION AND BERRIER BEING ESCORTED OFF THE PREMISES: [Childress] "Well, I don't think he was escorted. He was just told he needed to leave, to clarify that. The next thing is, I gave my opinion to NASCAR this morning. They know my feelings on the situation that's happened over the past few weeks and I'm going to leave it at that. Let you all figure it out."
SOME THINGS HAVE HAPPENED WITH OTHER TEAMS LATELY WHICH HAVE NOT RESULTED IN A PENALTY. CAN YOU COMMENT ON THAT: "I was very outspoken with NASCAR this morning and I'm going to leave it at that. I'm biting my tongue." GMRacing PR
10/01/05 NASCAR officials on Saturday ejected Todd Berrier, crew chief for Nextel Cup driver Kevin Harvick, from Talladega Superspeedway for the remainder of the race weekend. On Friday, NASCAR disallowed Harvick's qualifying speed after his No. 29 Chevrolet failed post-qualifying inspection, with several violations found in the trunk area of the car.
Was Bernie involved in Montreal shenanigans? A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1,com, I had an English friend I was chatting with yesterday who told me that Bernie Ecclestone was in on the Montreal thing.
He said that Bernie wants to come back to the US for the USGP, but that the speedway was so pissed about the USGP fiasco that they were threatening not to have them return. Rumor has it that the race doesn't make the speedway any money anyway, but Bernie gets quite a nice check, and values the US market.
So Bernie offered to pull strings with Legault to sabotage the Champ Car Race in the interest of voiding the contract terms (attendance...etc) and creating a hole for the IRL to slip through.
It seemed interesting to me too that the USGP for 2006 got announced shortly thereafter.
Bernie probably said "give us 2006 and beyond and I will get you into Montreal" Sounds like Bernie's style doesn’t it? Lance Freespeed
Dear Lance, That is a plausible theory but it's just a theory right now. Ironically, instead of helping the IRL it could land the IRL in court if Champ Car presses ahead with a lawsuit for interference with contractual relations. Kalkhoven 1, Ecclestone 0. Mark C.
Timo Glock to A1GPUPDATE We now are getting more details from Germany. The plan is to run Timo Glock in free practice at EuroSpeedway, but still Timo Scheider would do the race (things might change of course if Timo Glock proves to be significantly faster). And it's not Nick Heidfeld who might get a tryout, it's his younger brother Sven Heidfeld! Sven used to do German F3 but has been without a (decent) ride for a while. Mark C. 10/03/05 Champ Car driver Timo Glock may race for the Willi Weber owned German A1 Grand Prix team at this weekend's event at the EuroSpeedway in Germany. If Glock doesn't drive, Nick Heidfeld is rumored to get a shot.
This is how NASCAR made the Busch Series popular, by having their big names from Cup race in the Busch Series on a regular basis. It brings credibility to the series and the upcoming drivers. A1GP appears to be taking similar steps - getting top drivers to make guest appearances.
When will Champ Car get Champ Car drivers to make guest appearances in the Atlantic Series for similar reasons?
Grand-Am team to move to ALMS Our sources tell us that a team currently in the Grand-Am series will soon announce they are leaving to go to ALMS and run in the LMP1 category. No work yet on which team it is or what car they will run. But just like with Champ Car/IRL, the split between ALMS and Grand-Am is bad for sportscar racing. It divides the fan base and makes them choose sides, and it drives sponsors away who don't want to pick sides or know which side to pick. And now we are going to see competing winged sprint car series. Isn't that just dandy? Might as well divide and conquer all forms of motorsports but NASCAR, so in the end the only thing left standing is NASCAR.
Honda and Vodafone? The rumor in Formula 1 circles is that Honda is on the verge of signing a sponsorship deal with Vodafone for 2007. The British mobile operator has been sponsoring Ferrari since the start of 2002 and has enjoyed great success, averaging 20% of the on-screen time in the first year but it seems that the price being asked by Philip Morris, which owns the space on the Ferrari, is too high for Vodafone's taste and it is looking elsewhere for a new deal in 2007. The company has already announced its plans to be with Ferrari in 2006. Grandprix.com
Sato out of F1 ride, eyes A1GPUPDATE #3 Rumor has it that Sato may accept a ride in the A1GP series starting with the Portugal race. This does not mean he is out of a F1 ride forever, but we doubt he would risk his career image in a lower formula if he thought he had a chance for landing an F1 ride next year with another team. Yes, A1GP is largely a winter series, but what does Sato gain? If he wins he's expected to because he comes from F1. If he loses, his career may be tarnished beyond repair.
09/28/05 The latest rumor in F1 circles is that unwanted BAR driver Takuma Sato's grand prix career may be rescued by Red Bull.
According to a convoluted paddock whisper, Honda - facing a backlash at the upcoming Japanese grand prix for dumping the national hero - has been in talks with the energy drink brand about the 28-year-old driver and engines.
The speculation says a deal could be done whereby Sato is placed at Red Bull Rookie (Minardi) in 2006 ahead of a subsidized customer Honda V8 engine contract for 2007 and beyond.
Such a rumor should be treated with skepticism, though, and assessed for its timing as it might help alleviate some of the anti- BAR-Honda anger at the Sato axing.
09/27/05 Takuma Sato is out of a job in F1 next year and he needs a large sum of money to get a drive with the Jordan team. The price at the moment is up around $10m and may go higher as drivers scramble to get one of the two seats left in F1. Sato's problem is that throughout his career he has been close to Honda and the Toyota F1 people say they have no interest in him and will not help to fund a drive with Jordan. And it is hard to imagine Honda paying for a driver to race a Toyota-engined car.
That leaves Red Bull and it is hard to imagine that Sato will cut across the top of the Red Bull Young Driver program and take a ride instead of Christian Klien and Scott Speed, the two men expected to be seen in the rebadged Minardi team next year. We expect to see David Coulthard and Tonio Liuzzi in the main Red Bull team and Neel Jani named as the test driver for the squad although we have also heard that Robert Doornbos may be in with a chance of a job thanks to his strong links with Arden boss Christian Horner.
Sato might have some chance of a job as test driver but is more likely to stay in F1 if there is a secondary McLaren team with a Japanese backer in 2007. Grandprix.com
Honda to take 100% ownership of BARUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See hot news page for the full story. 01/18/05 Honda could take100 percent ownership of the BAR F1 team at the end of the season should the team be unable to find a new investor to take over British American Tobacco’s (BAT) share in the team. “We hope that there will be another major sponsor by the end of 2006,” Bloomberg report BAR Chief Executive Officer Nick Fry as saying. “If not, Honda will step into British American Tobacco's shoes.”
Football team eyes BurtonUPDATE The team is petitioning NASCAR for #98, and Tony Raines appears to be the top candidate to fill the driver's seat. Sporting News09/30/05 Bill Saunders, managing partner for the Hall of Fame Racing team of Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, said they hope to announce their driver within the next two weeks. Ward Burton is reportedly one of the drivers the team is considering. Burton won the Daytona 500 in 2002. "We're very close," Saunders said about the driver decision. "We have it down to a couple of people, and we just have to decide what strategy we want to use." Saunders said it's possible the new Nextel Cup team will use two drivers next year. Saunders also said most of the team's personnel already are in place. New crew chief Philippe Lopez also is the competition director. The team is partnering with Joe Gibbs Racing and using the old JGR facility in Statesville, N.C. Dallas Morning News
Penske and Toyota’s 8 Cup teamsUPDATE #3 We are upgrading this rumor to 'strong.' Toyota will support eight Nextel Cup teams when its cars make their debuts in 2007, but none of them is likely to be from Ganassi Racing, which all along figured to be part of the Toyota contingent. Toyota Racing Development will support four Penske Racing squads and two each from Bill Davis Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing. Davis and Waltrip will be partners in 2006, then turn their attention to Toyota. Sporting News [Editor's Note: Four Toyota Cup cars plus their current Dodges. Now you know why Penske South built their Taj Mahal in North Carolina]
08/23/05 Walter Czarnecki, vice chairman of Penske Racing and Penske Racing South, said Dodge's contract with the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup team extends past 2007 so in order for Penske to run a Toyota team he will have to run both Dodge and Toyota brands.. Penske Racing South
08/23/05 Penske Racing's deal with Dodge ends after 2006, with widespread speculation that Penske will side with Toyota in 2007. Penske's recent hiring of 2004 champion Kurt Busch (for 2007) is being cast as Toyota's way of strengthening its roster with a proven champion. Speed Channel
05/15/05 Rusty Wallace shot down talk of Penske Racing South aligning itself with Toyota. He said the team is happy with its current contract with Dodge. "People would think that [switch] would be a natural because he's running Toyota in the IRL Series, and he's the largest Toyota dealer," he said. "But he's also one of the world's largest Daimler Chrysler dealers." Wallace said he hasn't "personally talked" with Toyota about his #64 Busch Series team but said he would never say never. Richmond Times Dispatch [Editor's Note: The team denied they were switching to Dodge when they had Fords too. Therefore, you can't believe what the team says, and we will have to wait to see what the team does.]
NASCAR to stop "slam" drafting Elliott Sadler blamed Jimmie Johnson for starting a seven-car wreck on lap 20 of Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway, saying it was too early in the race for Johnson to make such an aggressive move. The dangerous, but increasingly more common, practice of "bump drafting" might have been the real culprit.
Johnson said he was getting a "huge" push from behind from Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was riding his back bumper, pushing him to go faster.
"There is only so much you can do when you're getting a push," Johnson said. "I'm on the brake trying to get the car slowed down and waving the guy off behind me."
Drivers have been denouncing the dangers of restrictor-plate racing since the 1980s, but hard, aggressive bump drafting might be making things even worse.
"It's in our hands, the drivers' hands, to control," said Jeff Gordon, who was caught in the second major crash, an eight-car pileup on lap 66. "I think the bump drafting is ridiculous. And I hope we can learn a lesson from things like this, but it doesn't seem like we do."
The plates sap engine power, keeping speeds under 200 mph at Talladega and Daytona International Speedway. With reduced horsepower, cars tend to run at relatively equal speeds in one huge pack. It's hard to pass, and drivers have had to find other ways to work their way to the front.
Right now drivers' preferred method for advancing through the pack — believe it or not — is to use their front bumper to ram the rear bumper of the car in front of them, pushing both cars to go faster. Teams have beefed up the front ends of their cars, and the ramming has become more violent.
"There was one time when my front bumper was pinned to a guy in front of me and the guy behind me just was pushing me," Gordon said. "And I really wasn't driving the car any more. And that's a pretty scary feeling at 190-some miles per hour."
Earnhardt said last week he was one of the few drivers who really enjoyed aggressive bump drafting, which he labeled "slam drafting." But Earnhardt said he wasn't trying to bump draft Johnson on Sunday: "The 48 car had to slow down for something, and I had nowhere to go." USA Today
[Editor's Note: Rumor has it that NASCAR will implement a rule that does not allow a team to strengthen the front and rear bumpers so that drivers can bump or slam the car in front of them. If the nose were to deform you will see how fast dangerous bump drafting stops.]
Honda going NASCAR racingUPDATE We are bumping this rumor up to 'strong' now. Honda, long-rumored to be interested in NASCAR Nextel Cup racing, is now trying to hire NASCAR engine builders for its Honda Racing Development operation, according to engine men familiar with the situation. It is unclear just what game plan that Honda might be considering. But NASCAR has provided Honda with Truck-racing templates, and Honda, since introducing its first big truck this season, the Ridgeline, has been widely expected to enter NASCAR Truck racing eventually. Winston Salem Journal10/03/05 Robert Clarke, president of Honda Performance Development, attended his first NASCAR race Sunday. He said Honda isn't planning to follow Indy Racing League rival Toyota into NASCAR, and he came simply to watch the race. Indy Star [Editor's Note: Clarke said recently he would be visiting a lot of different races at the end of this year to see what might be the best fit for Honda going forward. We're willing to bet that Honda could someday end up in NASCAR, especially if the open wheel wars continue to take the sport to complete destruction. We predicted Honda would follow Toyota into NASCAR a long time ago. We still maintain that opinion. The IRL and Champ Car are making it easy for Honda to go to NASCAR. Honda can simply say, (our words) "Look guys I gave you every chance in the world to find a way to merge (IRL and Champ Car) and it didn't happen. In addition we have no other manufacturers to compete against.....so we have decided to go NASCAR racing."]
Will Sato end up in Champ Car or F1?UPDATE #6 BAR Honda F1 driver Takuma Sato is rumored to be taking over the driving duties of the Japanese A1 GP team later this year. Since Sato is out of a F1 ride at the end of this year, it will keep him racing. 09/24/05 It is reported that dumped BAR driver Takuma Sato's manager, Andrew Gilbert-Scott, has made an approach to Sir Frank Williams. 09/22/05 Sato will not stay in F1 as a reserve driver. He is now looking to the Midland Jordan F1 team where he would have zero chance of winning (dumb). . This Eurosport article says, Japan's Takuma Sato will not stay on at BAR as a reserve driver after losing his Formula One race seat, according to manager Andrew Gilbert-Scott. "I can't see any point," Gilbert-Scott told Reuters at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Thursday. I can't see any benefit at all because obviously there are two race drivers on long-term contracts so there's no future. We want to find something to move forward." BAR have signed Briton Jenson Button on a multi-year contract while Brazilian Rubens Barrichello is joining next year from Ferrari.
The team, 45 percent owned by Honda but under fire in Japan for removing the country's only driver from Formula One, have said they want to help Sato. However his best bet now looks like Jordan, powered by Honda's rivals Toyota and due to change its team name to Midland in 2006. That team, with Indian Narain Karthikeyan and Portugal's Tiago Monteiro this year, has yet to announce any drivers for 2006 although BAR test and reserve driver Anthony Davidson tested their car last week.
Gilbert-Scott said at least he could now discuss Sato's future openly now that Button had been confirmed. Japanese reporters said Sato had been informed only on Wednesday of BAR's decision. "We are working on trying to get him in a race seat for next year, that's my priority. I'm hoping, I'm optimistic," said Gilbert-Scott. "I'm not looking at America or anything else. I'm very optimistic that we'll get something in Formula One. "We've had a lot of support and there's been a huge amount of disappointment (in Japan) at what has happened," he added
09/22/05 We could also see Sato's career ruined much like Ryan Briscoe's was ruined if Honda brings Sato to the IRL as Toyota brought Briscoe to Ganassi. If they put Sato in a Rahal or Andretti Green car (their two top teams in the IRL) there is a good chance he will have a difficult time and meet the same fate as Briscoe. Sato is a road racer, and putting him on the dangerous ovals will be sheer negligence. 09/21/05 Takuma Sato (pictured right) has spoken out after BAR Honda announced this morning that Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello would be its race drivers for 2006. Sato is now without a race drive for next season - with no obvious option where he might go. "I am not surprised by today's confirmation about next year but am obviously very disappointed with the news," Sato said. "I have many thoughts about the situation and have my own opinions but now is not the right time for me to comment. I would like to thank all my fans and supporters for their continued faith and look forward to rewarding them with some good news soon," he added. 09/19/05 If the reports of Button staying at BAR Honda are true (to be announced by this weekend), that would leave current BAR-Honda driver Takuma Sato in the wilderness, but the Japanese driver has been linked to both a test role at BAR-Honda and a possible involvement in the Japanese A1 Grand Prix set-up (but what a step-down that would be). So if Champ Car wants to get the popular Japanese driver they are going to have to strike some deal soon, and that depends on whether they have confidence a Japanese race will materialize. 08/17/05 With Rubens Barrichello now confirmed at BAR Honda and the team looking at a number of other drivers such as Nick Heidfeld, thereby leaving Takumo Sato without a ride, speculation is that Champ Car may take a run at Sato since they hope to race in Japan in 2007. Sato could possibly find a ride at a lesser F1 team, or be a test driver, but somehow we don't see that as being good for his career.
Bahrain to get '06 opener Bahrain will almost certainly host the first grand prix of next year. With regular kick-starter Melbourne keen to avoid a clash with the Commonwealth Games, it is revealed that March 12 2006 will see the circus line up at sandy Sakhir.
''The date is subject to confirmation,'' general manager Martin Whitaker cautioned, ''(but) all championship dates are. Nobody's got a fixed date yet.''
Bahrain traditionally hosts the third stop on the F1 calendar.
Whitaker told the locally published 'Gulf Daily News' newspaper that temporarily slipping into the opening race slot will be 'very exciting.'
GPMA set to lose Williams, Bernie wins The 'breakaway' threat in formula one may be about to fizzle out. Reports in the British press suggest that Sir Frank Williams, boss of the team set to split with German carmaker BMW at the end of the season, refused to sign an agreement in Munich last week.
The news indicates that Williams does not support the so-called 'GPMA' group, and - with the inevitable Red Bull-fuelled Minardi defection from the carmakers' side - could tip the balance in Bernie Ecclestone's 'Concorde' favor.
With Williams and Minardi on side, Bernie's 2008 teams would number five -- half of pitlane, including the most evocative name of all, Ferrari.
London's 'Times' newspaper speculated that the fiercely independent Sir Frank and team co-owner Patrick Head have been won over with a Bernie-funded $50 million sweetener.
And the sport's 74-year-old 'supremo' revealed that 50 per cent more cash for 2008 and beyond is on the table for any team. ''And they know I mean it,'' Ecclestone added.
The Briton said: ''It's up to them to decide if they can do a better job (of running a grand prix series) and take that risk.''
NASCAR to phase in Car of Tomorrow NASCAR may be heading to a phased introduction of the so-called "car of tomorrow," rather than have all teams switch over completely in time for the 2007 season. That means Nextel Cup teams could be using the new car for either every race in '07, or just for four races that year.
Roush Racing president Geoff Smith said Sunday Roush was one of four teams that met last week with NASCAR officials regarding the car, and he believed NASCAR officials were leaning toward introducing the car first at superspeedways only.
"We don't believe there is any question as to whether it's going to be implemented. We do think it will be on a phased-in approach," Smith said.
"Turning it over at one time would produce catastrophic consequences to race team operations as we know them today. Well, catastrophic for some and at best debilitating for others." ThatsRacin.com
Toyota wants to badge the Cosworth According to Robin Miller on Wind Tunnel, Chip Ganassi has made many calls to Kevin Kalkhoven about using the Cosworth engine next year and that Toyota wants to badge it for one year because they want to get out of R&D in the IRL a year early. We doubt that will happen, but stay tuned.....
Tony George to quit IRL for Grand-Am According to Robin Miller on Wind Tunnel Sunday night, he was talking to an IRL team owner and told him that Tony George asked him (the team owner) what he would think if he moved his Vision IRL team to Grand-Am. Tony told the other IRL team owner he didn't realize it costs this much money. Isn't this what AutoRacing1.com has been saying for years, that crashing into oval track concrete walls causing a lot of extensive crash damage making the IRL one of the more expensive racing series in the world. Wait until the Chevy, Toyota and Honda subsidies dry up, then they'll really find out how expensive it is.
Penske eyes return to Champ Car Robin Miller was talking about Chip Ganassi possibly running six Champ Car races in 2006 on Wind Tunnel Sunday Night. A caller phoned in to say that a friend of his works for Penske Racing and they too are eyeing some Champ Car races next year (remember they still have Champ Cars). He was not specific as to when, but we agree with Robin that as a minimum Penske would still race in his beloved Indy 500 each year.
Uprising: Owners may dig in their heels to resist new models This Winston Salem Journal article says, NASCAR president Mike Helton took a very tough-guy stance in last week's potentially momentous meeting with half a dozen of stock-car racing's top car owners, including Chevrolet's Rick Hendrick and Richard Childress, Ford's Jack Roush, and Dodge's Chip Ganassi.
But the France family may be playing with fire if it continues to let its competition department try to jam the 2007 "car of the future" down the throats of the men who own most of the major teams - and drivers - in NASCAR. There are hints that a revolt may be brewing. There are indications that some of the team owners and their Detroit manufacturers, all considering the changeover price tag of around $4 million a team times 43 teams, plus the instant obsolescence of their stock of nearly 800 race cars, may simply balk at the new car and say, 'No way.'
That things could get to this point raises questions about NASCAR's leadership and its common sense. To hear car owners and others involved talk, Daytona has a lack of wisdom as well as a lack of understanding of what's really going on out in the race shops and up in the board rooms of the car makers. Or maybe it's simply just another case of NASCAR's remarkable arrogance. After all, NASCAR is hot, and its TV ratings are solid.
The first major test of the new stock car is set for Monday here, but it appears that the test may be sparsely attended. NASCAR's version of the new, chubbier machine, described by some as "ugly" and others as "certainly not very sexy," will be on the track, presumably with Brett Bodine, a former racer turned NASCAR research-and-development driver, at the wheel.
It will be interesting to see who else shows up. At last report, only two other teams would provide cars, one Ford and one Dodge. The second major test is set for later this month at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a handling track where things should be much trickier aerodynamically for the new car.
2006 F1 Silly Season We have created a new 2006 F1 Silly Season page that will be maintained until all the race seats are filled. A link can be found at the top of our Rumors page where you can check for updates.
Loss of creativity could deter Toyota and Honda In the wake of a ruling by NASCAR officials that will make the type of rear shock absorbers used last week at Dover by Hendrick Motorsports illegal in the future, Roush Racing driver Greg Biffle says creativity within the teams is being quashed.
The rear shocks used by Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch in finishing 1-2 at Dover were ruled legal by the sanctioning organization after an extensive post race inspection, but a technical bulletin will be issued this weekend making the design of those shocks a no-no in the future. ``I will defend the 48 (Johnson) and the 5 (Busch) team by saying that if they were using parts in the shocks that were legal, and they could get their car to come back down to (the required) height in time to go through inspection through creativity, more power to them.
``There were some things taken away from us that hurt us earlier in the season, too.''
Biffle, speaking Friday at Talladega Superspeedway, said the trend toward lack of creativity is also reflected in NASCAR's work to develop the so-called Car of Tomorrow, a vehicle that moves the driver toward the center of the car, raises and widens the profile of the car and adds crushable materials -- all in the interest of safety.
The new car is nearly ready for an on-track test and NASCAR hopes to have teams racing it by 2007.
``Everybody is going to have the same thing,'' Biffle said. ``To me, that's going to be disastrous. I've heard all secondhand information. I haven't sat down and said, 'What exactly are we going to be able to do?' but I heard that we're not going to be able to do this, we're not going to be able to do that.'' More at Yahoo! Sports
[Editor's Note: Makes you wonder if the loss of creativity will make Toyota and Honda decide to stay out of NASCAR. Probably not given the huge TV ratings. After all, Toyota and Honda are in the business to sell passenger cars......but will the so-called NASCAR Bubbas buy Japanese brand cars, or will Honda and Toyota just be wasting their money. You certainly don't see many Toyotas and Hondas in the parking lot at a NASCAR race, just as you don't see many American cars in the parking lot of an F1 race.]
Cheating allowed in NASCAR This Times-Dispatch article talks about how furious the other NASCAR Nextel Cup teams are over the fact that the 1st and 2nd place Dover finishers of Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch were not penalized for having cars that were too high after the race last Sunday. Either the cars were too high, or they were not.
A frustrated Dale Jarrett facetiously suggested the crews of Johnson and Busch were "allowed to jump up and down on their cars until they [passed]."
"I didn't realize they had a 24-hour period they could wait for these damn things to settle down," he said. "Yeah, I'm fired up about this. My wife and kids have heard this all week, so now you have to hear it."
Rusty Wallace, who is seven points behind Johnson in second, said if his car had been a quarter-inch high, "I'd have a 25-point problem and I'd have a $25,000 fine.
"The Hendrick guys are great friends of mine, and I don't wish them any problems," Wallace said. "But rules are rules, and they came through high. All I know is, if they'd have been penalized, I'd be leading this championship."
Fact: Cheating is allowed in NASCAR when it suits them. And the fact that cheaters get all their money back at the end of the year in prize money makes the penalties handed down all that more laughable. With shenanigans like this it's easy to believe the Conspiracy theories that certain teams get "The Call" when NASCAR needs a big headline.
Mystery Vehicle The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, a division of the Canadian Automotive Collection, has acquired for its Museum, a Canadian-driven vehicle (photo below) that once played a significant role in one of North America's key annual races. This vehicle will be unveiled and presented to the Museum at the annual Induction Gala, being held February 4, 2006. The Gala will see new inductees welcomed to the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, and will be enhanced by the presentation of this significant vehicle. Information about the Gala and ticket ordering forms will be posted on this site in the coming weeks. Watch for it!!
Restrictor plates at Lowe’sUPDATE NASCAR Nextel Cup Director John Darby would neither confirm nor deny rumors that the sanctioning body will mandate the use of restrictor plates at the October Cup race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle each crashed two cars at Lowe’s last week, as two rounds of computer-aided track grinding — a process known as “levigation” — have made the venerable 1.5-mile track extremely fast. “We carry restrictor plates on our truck 38 weeks a year,” Darby said Friday at Talladega. “They’re there for a lot of reasons, and if a situation ever creates itself that starts to look like it’s leading itself towards the direction that we’re going to have a tremendous amount of problems in the race … or something that we can’t predict or didn’t expect to see, that’s why we have the plates. … If we ever get in a situation where we have to use them, we’ll use them.” Speed Channel
09/26/05 With less than rave reviews of the ever-changing track surface at Lowe's Motor Speedway from Chasers Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle and Mark Martin after a test last week, NASCAR officials are considering running restrictor plates on the cars in the October 15 race at Charlotte. Stewart and Biffle wrecked two cars apiece during the tests. After plowing his car at 170 mph into the Turn 2 wall, Biffle felt the aftereffects last weekend at Dover. "From the eye, the track looks good," Biffle says. But the tire compound doesn't work well with the track's new surface. NASCAR doesn't expect any relief until the track is repaved after the race. Sporting News/Lee Spencer
Why Honda is reluctant to join NASCAR Equalization trumped innovation Friday as NASCAR announced its rulebook would be amended to outlaw the trick shock absorbers used by Hendrick Motorsports in a 1-2 finish last week at Dover, Del.
Nextel Cup series director John Darby said a technical bulletin would be issued to all teams today at Talladega Superspeedway, where Elliott Sadler won the pole Friday for Sunday's UAW Ford 500. NASCAR historically has valued a level playing field above all else. This decision, prompted by complaints from several teams, is a continuation of that philosophy.
"We want the drivers, the crews and the strategy to decide a race, not some little innovative deal," NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter said. "We want the cars to be as equal as can be and let the best teams win. That has served the sport pretty well to date."
That logic didn't sit well with Dover winner and points leader Jimmie Johnson, who said his crew chief, Chad Knaus, shouldn't be castigated simply for being "a very sharp man."
"The thing I don't like," Johnson said after his 10th-place qualifying run, "is the five Roush cars can go on a tear and nobody says anything, then we go out and win a race and so we've got to be cheating. It does get frustrating, but I choose to take it as a compliment."
Darby said the shock absorbers used by Johnson and runner-up Kyle Busch were legal but circumvented the spirit of the rulebook.
Instead of absorbing bumps, they were designed to jack up the car's rear end every time it hit a bump. So for most of the race, the tails were elevated about an inch, creating more aerodynamic downforce on the rear spoilers.
"The parts and pieces were within in the rulebook," Darby said, "but the shock build was not really within the intent of the rule. They're supposed to absorb shocks, not be a spring assist or a jack. Forty-one teams understood that. Two chose not to." More at Indy Star
[Editor's Note: This article makes it clear as to why Honda is reluctant to go to NASCAR. This is a prime example of where it does not matter what advantage you might gain from being smarter than the next guy, NASCAR will take it away in a flash. Hence teams have to revert to cheating to gain any advantage whatsoever. That isn't the sort of environment Honda wants to be in. With that said, who can criticize NASCAR for their philosophy. Given their huge popularity, it works for Americans.
So will Honda subject itself to this environment in NASCAR, or remain loyal to open wheel racing? Time will tell, but if Honda is willing to work within these sort of parameters in NASCAR, why can't they agree to multiple badging of a common engine in Champ Car/IRL until such time as the sport gets back on its feet? We predict that once two companies agree to the low-cost multiple badging concept, more will quickly jump aboard and open wheel racing, using a NASCAR philosophy of equal equipment, will begin to see an immediate increase in popularity: Ford vs. Chevy vs. Honda, etc.......it's all very doable at an extremely attractive price and open wheel racing becomes a marketing platform to help sell passenger cars, just like NASCAR.]
Another IRL team eyeing Champ Car It's a well known fact that Graham Rahal, Bobby's son, is dead set against racing in the IRL. Rahal has been doing very well in the Star Mazda series this year so there's no doubt he's a good road racer. He's beating the highly regarded Marco Andretti regularly, thought admittedly he has a bit more experience than Marco.
In other words Graham is Champ Car material. In fact a little birdie tells us Champ Car is his goal. That fact was probably cemented when he saw Ryan Briscoe's crash, the last in a long history of such devastating IRL crashes on high speed ovals. We're sure every IRL driver lives with this fear, knowing they could be the next victim.
With that said, rumor has it that Rahal Letterman Racing is eyeing a possible return to Champ Car with Graham. He's doing Champ Car Atlantics in 2006 and we could see the team bringing him up to Champ Car in 2007 when the new cars come out....assuming he does good in Atlantics in 2006.
We also hear some of the team's IRL drivers want to be in Champ Car rather than the IRL and are hoping the opportunity arises.
Will be interesting to see what Andretti Green Racing does with Marco Andretti. We know Mario wants him in Champ Car or F1. Will his father Michael do what's right and move him into Atlantics in 2006 to go up against the greatest Atlantics field of all time, or risk the high-banked ovals of the IRL?
If you notice, AGR did not run Marco on the dangerous high-banked ovals in the IPS car this year. He skipped all those races. They know the danger. They don't want to have happen to the Andretti family what happened to the Petty family when they lost Adam. It was devastating. At this point we have to think that Michael Andretti has some hard decisions to make. Remain loyal to Tony George, or follow Honda back to the safer waters of Champ Car where Marco can enjoy a long and successful career. Mark C.
ALMS to team with Champ Car in Houston and......UPDATE The rumor is upgraded to 'fact.' See Hot News page for details. 09/30/05 It is expected that the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) will announce today that it “has added three new markets and two more CBS telecasts” to its ’06 schedule. Two of the new markets are Houston (May 14) and Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City (July 16). CBS will air five races in ’06, up from three this year, with all five being time buys SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL [Editor's Note: The other new market is rumored to possibly be Long Beach, also with Champ Car]
Wednesday night races? Dover Motorsports officials make no secret of the fact they would like Nextel Cup dates at their tracks in Nashville, Memphis, and St. Louis. Dover Motorsports Inc. President Dennis Mcglynn told MRN Radio's NASCAR Today earlier this afternoon, "They have Monday Night Football why not have a Wednesday night Cup race? We think we can do that in those major markets where we have a huge population base near the facility itself and good ingress and egress to get everybody out of there so that they can get up and go to work early the next morning." MRN's NASCAR Today
Champ Car learning from its mistakes Q. Will Champ Car station someone in Korea on a more permanent basis given what has happened now twice - the race being cancelled?
JOE CHRNELICH: Yeah, good point. What we are learning is when you're that far away, talking on the phone is okay, email is okay, but at the end of the day, you need somebody there on a constant basis making sure you facilitate the needs of the promoter, making sure that the communications are coming back on a regular basis to our office. So you can expect to see somebody there on a more regular basis from our perspective because that does pay benefits.
[Editor's Note: We still maintain that one person working out of their home needs to be stationed in each country that Champ Car races in to look after the event(s), have daily communication with the promoter, lobby local politicians, talk to local businessmen, and talk to the local media. Making an event VERY successful is a 12-month a year job.]
F1 to get female team boss? Formula One could get its first female team principal in 2007. Japan's Misato Haga is currently president and chief executive of the Durango (Direxiv Motorsport) team in GP2, which is sponsored by Direxiv.
'Direxiv' is rumored to be involved in the funding of a possible 'b' McLaren grand prix team, which could find a home in the Woking based team's old Albert Drive factory.
The local 'Woking News & Mail' publication cited a report that said with McLaren now up the road at the state-of-the-art 'Paragon' facility, the old HQ is still able to house a formula one team.
And the article also read: ''(Misato Haga) has suggested she will be running the (team).''
Gascoyne to BMW team? Mike Gascoyne has denied rumors that he could leave Toyota and become technical director at the new BMW works team (Sauber).
The Briton told website grandprix.com that he has not had 'one single conversation or discussion on the subject.'
42-year-old Gascoyne, perhaps the highest paid technical director in pitlane with a reputed $8m salary, recently moved from Renault to Toyota, but has also worked for McLaren, Tyrrell, Jordan -- and, in the early 90s, Sauber.
Gascoyne, whose paddock nickname is 'the bulldog', said earlier in 2005: ''The pressure on Toyota to succeed in formula one is unprecedented.''
The same website also reported that Polish driver Robert Kubica might be drafted in to replace Minardi's 'Friday' tester Enrico Toccacelo in Japan and China.
Tracy offered A1 Grand Prix seat Team Canada have approached Paul Tracy about possible guest drives in A1 Grand Prix, Autosport-Atlas reports. Officials at the team are attempting to lure the former 2003 Champ Car World Series title winner to join Formula Renault UK star Sean McIntosh in the Canadian A1 Grand Prix team this season. Autosport-Atlas understands that Tracy has been approached with the possibility of driving selected races in the Team JVA-run squad, but are waiting to hear back on their offer.
What would become of the Indy 500? A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Given your are so adamant about the unnecessary dangers posed by open wheel racing on high speed ovals (and rightly so, I might add). What would be your vision for the Indianapolis 500, should open wheel racing in the USA take the steps you propose and become a strictly street/road racing series? (Supposing the Champ Car business plan wins out and destroys the IRL somewhere down the line) Mark Maslona, Cleveland, Ohio
Dear Mark, The Indy 500 must be salvaged and strengthened at all costs. It is the Super Bowl race of open wheel racing. The Indy Speedway is not a high-banked track like the others and should be retained. The popularity of that race makes the risk of the high speeds worth it, but the other ovals are not popular enough to warrant the risk. Indy also does not produce the dangerous "pack" racing that the high-banked ovals produce. We have no problem with 17 road/street races a year plus the Indy 500 as the lone oval. Being the lone oval will make it that much more unique and special and help it stand out above all the other 17 races....which is what you want for your Super Bowl. Leave the high-banks to NASCAR. They own them anyway. Mark C.
Badging may be the only way This Champ Car website article examines the benefits and pitfalls of introducing engine manufacturer competition back into the Champ Car World Series, and like so many before him, the author is unable to draw a conclusion as to which is better, a spec engine or engine competition.
The key points of the article: Certainly, the addition of a Honda to the Champ Car World Series fold would raise the series' prestige and garner a bevy of attention, not least of which would be media stories on the series' Phoenix-like rise from the fetid ashes of CART. And if the past is any barometer, it would generate a host of "collateral" marketing support from the competing manufacturers in the form of television and newspaper ads (and in the way of the 21st century world of journalism, more air time and column inches).
What's more, the return of a Honda might well see the return of business-to-business sponsorship programs from Motorola, Panasonic, Pioneer and the like. And that would mean a strengthening of some existing programs and, possibly, more cars if not more teams.
What’s up with Ansan?UPDATE #7 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, As a fan of Champ Car I take exception with you saying Champ Car has failed in so many countries. Failed in Germany? - How did they fail there when they had 80,000 for their last race and then the speedway went into bankruptcy? How is that Champ Car's fault? Failed in Brazil? - Another political battle, and a country that they are working to get back into now that they have their feet back underneath them. Failed in England? - Tried it successfully on two occasions, decided to try some other things. Not a failure. Failing in Montreal - You ought to know better than to say that. Why is that race slipping? You know why, I am not going to explain it to you. South Korea? - The first one, maybe. Yesterday? Sound business decision. You know that you don't gain anything by throwing good money after bad. Derrick Kuam, Indianapolis, IN
Dear Derrick, The point is that if Champ Car was on top of all these events they would have seen the problems coming and taken appropriate action before it was too late. That means having at least a 1-person office in each country you race in. You can't manage international events from 7,000 miles away. Mark C.
09/28/05 See announcement on Hot News that the race is cancelled...a black mark for Champ Car's ability to operate as an international sports property. Why? Failed in Germany. Failed in Brazil. Failed in England. Failing in Montreal. Failed twice in South Korea. Failed in Beijing so far. No Korean driver. No Chinese driver. If Champ Car doesn't stop acting like a domestic company that says it races internationally, and organize and perform like a global brand, they may as well stay home and race. 09/28/05 Champ Car will hold a press conference today at 1:00 PM ET presumably to announce the cancellation of the South Korea race for the second year in a row (that's what the rumor mill says). Stay tuned..... 09/27/05 Our sources in Korea tell us that race fans can buy tickets for the Ansan Champ Car race on the internet (www.ticketlink.co.kr). Ticketlink is the ticketing portal site. Paran.com (Korean portal site just like Yahoo) is said to be one of the sponsors of this race.
Both home pages are only in Korean so you'll find it difficult to browse.
Some of ticket prices are Gold (Area C,E) : ~$90 on Sun, ~$54 on Sat Silver (Area A,B,D) : ~$54 on Sun, ~$27 on Sat General Admission : ~$18 on Sun, ~$14 on Sat No mention of paddock pass.
A Concert featuring a very famous Korean singer was planned after the race but questions over the race caused its cancellation (concert organizers insist) but the race organizer says they are still trying to negotiate with concert organizers.
09/27/05 Champ Car's website reports today - Preparations are continuing for the Ansan Champ Car Grand Prix as workers prepare the facility for our 750 horsepower Champ Cars. Construction on the race track is nearing completion and workers are continuing to build the infrastructure needed to put on Champ Car's three-day festivals of speed. Local promoter The Racing Korea, continues to get ready for the event, preparing the Ansan facility for Champ Car's visit on October 16.
Photos of the track are included. It looks great. All that is needed is to erect the temporary grandstands ASAP - this is doable with enough manpower. AutoRacing1.com has learned that a lottery was held for tickets. If your name was chosen you will get tickets, so everything is in place for the race to happen if the internal squabbles get resolved. We think they will.
09/26/05 Checked with our sources at Champ Car this morning. As of noon ET the Ansan race had definitely not been cancelled and the phone lines are lit up across the Pacific trying to pull out all the stops in an effort to save the race. If it is cancelled, one rumor has the race moving up and appearing on the 2006 calendar in the spring instead of October.
France family divides and conquers to own the world The conspiracy theory is as such - there are too many forms of racing in the USA and the rumored goal of the France Family is to take control of all racing in the USA and to eventually do away with most forms so that Americans think of racing as stadium style oval track stock car racing. As it is today the many forms of racing divides the potential fan base and hence limits the France family and their NASCAR series from maximizing profits.
Their thought, so the conspiracy theory goes, is that other sports do not vary much and the playing field and equipment is the same from event to event. Football fields are all 100 yards long. Every soccer field is the same size. Ditto for basketball and baseball. Each stick-and-ball sport uses common equipment and common fields. In racing there are different types of playing fields, both short and long (ovals - dirt and paved, road courses, street courses, drag strips, off-road, etc), and different equipment used (open wheel, stock car, sports cars, dragsters, etc.). This all confuses the casual fan, and divides where they spend their money.
As examples of their most recent divide and conquer tactics - The new USAC Speedway sprint car is driven behind the scenes by the France family and the new National Sprint Car league has France family written all over it with the Petty family as front men.
In the case of USAC, the new Speedway cars have created a split in the series with many team owners refusing to buy the new cars and will instead take their existing equipment to another series.
In the World of outlaws twelve drivers have gone with the new National SprintCar League - Steve Kinser, Danny Lasoski, Kraig Kinser, Tim Shaffer, Paul McMahan, Jason Meyers, Joey Saldana, Jason Sides, Brian Paulus, Brandon Wimmer, Shane Stewart, and Jason Solwold. All have signed three-year contracts with the National SprintCar League.
Instead of a unanimous move, several key drivers have elected to continue racing with DIRT MotorSports (existing WoO), namely Donny Schatz, Craig Dollansky, Terry McCarl, Daryn Pittman and Brooke Tatnell.
It too is a split in a sport that has already seen car counts steadily decline over the past several years at many venues.
See the trend here? And it all has France family influence behind it, for a real divide and conquer coup de grace:
IRL formed to divide and conquer CART/Indy Car racing
USAC Speedway cars introduced to divide and conquer USAC sprint car racing so the teams and drivers can run on NASCAR High-banked Superspeedways
National Sprint Car League formed to divide and conquer WoO
Grand-Am formed to divide and conquer ALMS and sports car racing
Their end game - NASCAR is racing. Period. Crazy you say? Think again.
Why Panoz/Elan might win Champ Car contractUPDATE Latest exchange rate is 1 British pound = 1.769 US dollars. With the recent slide in the US dollar, Lola is starting at possible distinct price disadvantage to the Panoz, everything else being equal. Panoz has also proven they can build a car for a lot less money for the IRL. Panoz has proven they can build a quality IRL Indy Car (we have not heard teams saying it is bad) so we can't see how they cannot win the bid over Lola.
There is potentially a significant cost savings for the teams over what they are used to paying and this is a good thing. That means they will have money left over from buying the car, and more importantly the parts, to use on other elements of the team. In addition, it will make it easier for a startup team like Eurointernational (Antonio Ferrari) to buy brand new equipment for 2007. It will also entice IRL teams to have a look because not only will it cost about the same as an IRL car, the operating costs will be much less because Champ Car does not run on many ovals, which have a tendency of destroying a car to the extent it's a complete write-off.
The only question now is whether Champ Car can drive Panoz to make a car look like a Champ Car. The current Lola looks like it does because that is what the engineers at Lola wanted it to be. We believe that Champ Car will have more say in how the car looks this time around and we suspect that since rumors suggest it will look a bit closer to a F1 car, that it may resemble the new Atlantic car to the right, but larger. Note the F1-like raised nose. In fact, it very much resembles a cross between a F1 car and a Champ Car, the difference being a Champ Car has longer sidepods and no airbox. Note the smaller wings that Champ Car said it would have (with greater underbody downforce).
If the Son of Champ Car (Atlantic) is indeed a glimpse of what the new Champ Car will resemble, Champ Car will have accomplished its goals:
A Champ Car will look like a more modern Champ Car
A Champ Car will still look like a Champ Car
More downforce from the underbody, less from the wings
A Champ Car will not look like any of its competitors, it will retain a sleek, low-slung appearance
A Champ Car will be closer in size to an F1 car than ever before. This has many implications in the global market. It also has many implications on the tight street courses - the narrower, shorter car will maneuver better and weigh around 100 pounds less. Taking 100 pounds or more out of the car is significant, and although the narrower car would otherwise be slower through the corners, the lower weight will more than make up for it..
The new Champ Car, with the same engine, will sound exactly like the old Champ Car, which is a good thing as it has been a signature sound for decades
09/23/05 Speculation in the Champ Car paddock is that the bid by Elan Motorsports (Panoz) for the new Champ Car was quite a bit lower than what Lola can deliver because of the exchange rate between the British pound and the US dollar. Elan makes their cars in a facility south of Indianapolis, which means they can also deliver cars and parts cheaper and faster.
If Elan wins the bid, we suspect Haas might become a Elan/Panoz distributor as the consensus is Carl Haas must be kept happy. He's currently the distributor for Lola.
HVM to run third carUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. HVM will run a third car in Mexico City. See Hot News page for more details. 08/27/05 Word on the street in Montreal is that HVM will run a third car in Mexico City. The driver is believed to be Mexican Jorge Goeters again.
Twin or single turbo?UPDATE We hear the new Champ Car will remain a single turbo so the sound should be exactly the same as it is today. We are also hearing the car should be about 100 pounds lighter which should more than offset the decreased performance due to the narrower track/width. 09/25/05 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I keep hearing rumors that Champ Car might go to twin turbos on its Cosworth engine in 2007. Why? James McCann, Houston, TX. Dear James, Yes, that option is being looked at. The advantages are that the two smaller turbos will spool up faster and reduce turbo lag a bit (though turbo lag is not a big issue these days), be more visible to a fan looking at the car in the pits with the bodywork off (the current turbos are pretty much hidden from view where they are mounted, and the 'twin' turbo name portrays a bit more sexy image. Getting the turbo out of the centerline spline of the engine/transmission will also allow the car to be a bit shorter, which Champ Car said it would be (i.e shorter, narrower and lighter, probably about the size of an F1 car).
The risk is that Champ Car will just decide to do this without having Cosworth build a prototype and later find out that the twin mufflers (yes, turbos act as mufflers) ruin the sound of the engine to the point it sounds like an ALMS Audi twin turbo engine - i.e. dull, quiet and a bit boring. One engine tech said it might sound like a V6, which would be a disaster. We have made a big issue about the sound of the cars as that projects an image. Image is based on two of our senses - sight and sound. Champ Car can ruin their image with an engine that completely neuters the sound of the cars The decision was made to stick with the turbos rather than go with a screaming normally aspirated V10 that would have knocked the fans socks off. That's fine, but if in the process they neglect to ensure a twin turbo sounds exciting, they will have done more harm than good. We think Tony Cotman is too smart to overlook such a detail. Mark C.
Raikkonen turns down 70 Million Euro offer Reports in Germany say that Kimi Raikkonen has turned down a 70 million Euro offer to re-sign with the McLaren Mercedes team for 4 more years, 2007 through 2010, preferring instead to wait and see what next year brings and whether McLaren is still the fastest team or if Ferrari might be the better place to go.
Champ Car, ALMS, NASCAR a possibility for Honda John Oreovicz of NSSN talked to Robert Clarke at Watkins Glen last weekend after he visited the Champ Car race in Las Vegas and report - "We touched on a multitude of subjects," Clarke said. "We still talked about unification, though that wasn't the purpose. That was my fifth meeting with Kevin, and somewhere in our discussions he had invited me to come to an event. I had not been to a Champ Car event since we left at the end of 2002 and I really didn't know what it was all about other that what I read and see on the Internet. It was a race I felt I could work into the schedule without disrupting things too much."
Clarke refused to divulge whether he is considering taking Honda back into Champ Cars. Any diversification by HPD would not occur before 2007.
"It was neat to see a lot of familiar faces and people we don't see in the IRL," Clarke said. "The series is totally different than when we were there. We continue to look at everything and I will not deny that we have looked at Champ Car. But we are looking at many other things. Part of HPD's business plan is to diversify beyond one series, which is what we have always had. We are in that research mode and we are looking at anything and everything. Next weekend I'll be at Road Atlanta with the ALMS and then Talladega for the NASCAR event. So the rumors are going to be everywhere."
The chief hang-up preventing Cosworth from continuing in the IRL is the league's insistence on having a manufacturer badge an engine. After GM's own IRL engine was outclassed by Toyota and Honda, GM bought the rights to a Cosworth design and badged it as a Chevrolet.
"Cosworth is a very strong name in racing," Clarke said. "If it was HPD competing against Cosworth, it would be a way for HPD to showcase its technical skills. In a truly technical sense, Cosworth has value to those fans who really know what it is about. But on a more general level, the Cosworth name doesn't have the kind of exposure we feel we really need. You would have the might of Honda competing against a racing engine company which would unfortunately create a no-win situation. If you win, you should have won, and if you lose, you look really bad. So the competition we need is true manufacturer competition."
'Breakaway still on track' Renault's F1 president Patrick Faure has denied that the 'breakaway' (GPMA) alliance is on the verge of collapse.
Contrary to speculation that Williams and Toyota could be about to sign Bernie Ecclestone's 2008 Concorde Agreement, the Frenchman said the team-carmaker group 'will launch our championship' if negotiations with the F1 supremo and the FIA do not bear fruit.
''I think we will reasonably hold firm,'' Faure told Autosport.
The alliance of teams and carmakers will meet in Munich (Germany) on Wednesday, but some are billing the summit as a 'put up or shut-up' moment after detail about the threatened '08 series remained scarce.
Faure said talks about rules were progressing with the FIA, but the 'GPMA' is still unable to find a commercial compromise with Bernie Ecclestone.
Patrick Faure explained: ''We will keep on discussing and there is nothing decided yet.''
Time for Champ Car to abandon the ovals In this Champ Car article Gordon Kirby says it's time to abandon the ovals. Those of you who are long-time readers of AutoRacing1.com know that we said 5 years ago "Ovals, stick a fork in them, they're done." We have not changed our opinion, and nor have we changed our opinion of the IRL's concept of what Indy Car racing should be, i.e. oval racing. Penske, Foyt, Cheever, Andretti, Rahal, Ganassi, Honda, Toyota, Chevy et al, they all bought into Tony George's plan for Indy Car racing. All along we maintained it would not work for both safety and popularity reasons, and the fact NASCAR ruled the ovals.
All of our predictions are now coming true, and we just shake our heads in disgust as the sport was set back 10 full years because of the shortsightedness of so many. Now everyone is saying, including those in the IRL paddock, that we need more street and road courses. CART was there in 1995 with exactly that, at its peak. Now, one full decade later, NASCAR is laughing at all the idiots who helped destroy what CART had built by supporting Tony George's "vision." CART was not perfect, but it sure as heck was a lot better than what we have now.
Take a bow Mr. George. Your legacy may last forever. Mark C.
Canadian eyes Atlantics and Champ Car This past weekend Mike Forest became the Pacific F2000 champion. Next year, he's now convinced, you'll see him here racing in the Formula Atlantic series with an eye on winning a Champ Car ride down the road.
"We're now totally dedicating ourselves to a Formula Atlantic project,'' said Forest.
"We're already 35% there in sponsorship and now with my winning the championship and with the success of the Champ Car event in Edmonton last year, local and national companies can see the benefits they can get out of being involved in racing, so we'll start looking locally and nationally to get a two-car project together for Formula Atlantic next year.
"Winning the championship this year secures my belief that one day soon I'll be driving Champ Car. It makes me feel more confident about where I'm at in terms of skill levels. It definitely helps.''
Forest won the Pacific F2000 on the final weekend at Buttonwillow in California in an event which received more attention for J.R. Hildebrand's horrific double flip. Hildebrand had the series lead going into the final two sets of races. Forest ended up second in that one.
Hildebrand, Forest's PR1 Motorsport teammate, was back the next day renting a ride from another competitor to try to win the series title, but needed at least the fastest lap of the race to beat Forest in the overall standings.
Forest was running third in the Sunday race when he "got out into the marbles'' and spun out on the gravel and didn't get back on track until he'd dropped back to seventh. But Hildebrand blew an engine trying to get that fast lap five laps from the end and Forest moved up to sixth - good enough for the series title in the final points standings.
"There was a big gasp for me at that point,'' said Forest, when he knew all he had to do was hold his position and stay in the race to win the series title. Edmonton Sun
Behind the scenes at the Brazilian GP Formula 1 is very good at wishing its life away and even before the end of this season – just two races to go now – the main topic in Sao Paulo was next year’s calendar. It looks as though it’s going to be the same but longer, if that does not sound too strange. Basically, there will be the same nineteen Grands Prix as in 2005, but the season will be much longer, running from early March to the finale in Brazil on 5th November.
The reason for this is that the teams have told Bernie Ecclestone that the only way they will stick with 19 race weekends is if there are less of the back-to-back races that sapped the energy and enthusiasm out of everyone over the summer. A longer race year is nothing new and in the late Eighties, early Nineties, the sound of F1 engines only faded around mid-November when the season closed in Adelaide. A full list of 2006 dates is expected to be published in October.
Last Sunday turned out to be a day for crowning champions: apart from Fernando Alonso in Formula 1, Valentino Rossi secured his seventh Motorcycle title, the fifth at the top level of the sport and in the States, Dan Wheldon won the Indy Racing League Championship.
They say that Formula 1 is only a sport for a couple of hours of Sunday afternoon and a business for the rest of the time, but at least there were plenty of sportsmanlike gestures in Sao Paulo after Alonso’s title win. The entire crew of McLaren mechanics turned up in the Renault garage to congratulate their colleagues, while Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn also paid them a visit.
Michael Schumacher’s cleaning lady back home in Switzerland is probably delighted she will have one less trophy to polish, now that the German hands over the Drivers’ crown for the first time since 2000. He’s owned it for so long, we suggest Alonso checks Michael did not leave anything inside it, like an old library ticket, a baby rattle, a pen without a refill and one of those special keys for bleeding the heating radiators. In fact, Michael was one of the first to go and see Alonso, but he had to wait for a moment as the Renault driver was on the phone to someone who had not lost his crown – the King of Spain!
If the McLaren drivers were disappointed to have missed out on the title, they soon found a way of cheering themselves up as Raikkonen and Montoya were just two of the F1 drivers who turned up at the Sunday night Red Bull Party. It was held in the Unique Hotel, one of the most famous in Sao Paulo and the rooftop venue offered fantastic panoramic views of the city for the 450 or so guests. Red Bull Racing
Del Monte in at HVMUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See Hot News page for announcement. 09/26/05 This is still not confirmed by the team, but this Italian internet site has picked up the story after AutoRacing1.com did last week. Our sources at the team say it's not a done deal whatsoever. 09/22/05 Italian Fabrizio Del Monte is rumored to have signed with HVM Racing for the final three races of the 2005 Champ Car World Series and is replacing Bjorn Wirdheim, who we are told is out of money after Las Vegas. Stay tuned as we try to confirm this rumor.
There was also a rumor that HVM might field a third car, so perhaps Wirdheim is not out. Del Monte drove for Jensen Motorsport at Long Beach, but that team never ran another race.
Red Bull wants Michelin for 'B' team Red Bull Racing has asked tire manufacturer Michelin to supply its second team next season. The Minardi outfit, which Red Bull recently bought from Paul Stoddart, currently uses Bridgestone rubber while RBR runs Michelins and is committed to doing so in 2006.
With Minardi set to morph into a Red Bull ‘B’ or junior team at the end of this year, the energy drink giant is keen to remove any obstacles to a full technical collaboration between the two squads.
Being supplied by two different tire companies would be a significant obstacle to this ambition, limiting the amount that could usefully be gleaned by comparing or transferring car set-ups and potentially fostering secrecy and suspicion amongst the tire manufacturers themselves.
Furthermore, the Red Bull ‘B’ team is likely to campaign a modified version of the RB1 chassis, which has been designed around Michelin tires. Therefore Red Bull is seeking agreement from the French company to supply both teams. ITV-F1
BMW to do shootout for Villeneuve's seat BMW’s Mario Theissen is prepared to put Jacques Villeneuve to the test to decide who will partner Nick Heidfeld at the new BMW-Sauber team in 2006.
"We need drivers who can push us forward, who can develop a car. I do not wish to talk about names, but it has to be our target that we can start working at the end of November with the two drivers who shall be in the cars in 2006,” Theissen revealed to Autosport-Atlas.
"If we cannot achieve that, we might even do a driver comparison program in November. The Villeneuve situation is something we currently look into very thoroughly," continued Theissen. "Villeneuve needed some time to fit into the team and to come to grips with the tires. In the second half of the season however he is much closer to Felipe Massa. We want to see how he does in the last couple of races."
Car of Tomorrow teams worried about cost NASCAR is expected to meet with owners this week to discuss the car of tomorrow. Top owners in the garage are worried about the cost; each new car is expected to cost $150,000-plus. Multiply that by 25 cars per team and the total will make it impossible for many organizations to stay in business. Sporting News/Spencer [Editor's Note: NASCAR should not allow a team to build so many cars. They have a car for every track. How ridiculous and stupid is that? NASCAR should mandate a limited number of cars, say 6 per team. That's plenty and so what if they have to compromise on their setup on certain tracks? It would be the same for everyone.]
It was the Nunn factor Chip Ganassi hired Morris Nunn to come out of retirement (again) and get his team back on the winning track. After the 2nd race the team is already back in the winner's circle with Scott Dixon winning last Sunday at Watkins Glen. Overjoyed to be back in Victory Circle, rumor has it that Chip will make Morris an offer he can't refuse to stay on permanently.
Toyota won’t sponsor Homestead raceUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' Preparations are already underway by Toyota for the 2006 IRL TOYOTA INDY 300 at Homestead, and yes that is what it will be called AutoRacing1.com has learned. And as we reported earlier, rumors that Toyota will pull out of their IRL contract a year early are probably also unfounded based on this news. The fact that Toyota has delayed a year (until 2007) their entry into Winston Cup means they have plenty of racing budget to stay in the IRL for 2006. Whether they can beat Honda is another story, but recently they appear to have caught up. 09/26/05 Word in Florida is that Toyota, who gave away the lions share of free tickets, won't be returning as sponsor of next year's IRL race at Homestead. We also hear that the new lights at Homestead also illuminate the infield road course. Sources tell us that track officials have talked to Champ Car recently, and Champ Car would like to be back in the Miami market, but Homestead may be too far from downtown to meet Champ Car's business objectives.
Teams getting fed up with Danicamania FoxSports News on Watkins Glen: Panther Racing's Mike Griffin was very upset that IRL officials would not tow Scheckter's crippled car back to the pits so the team could replace the broken part. "If it was the 'Princessmobile,' the IRL would make sure that car would be in the garage getting fixed right now," said Griffin, referring to Patrick......... on lap 28, Patrick had ignition problems and stalled at... the fifth turn. That brought out a caution while her car was towed back to the pits for repair.
Bobby Rahal's wife called Danica "Ms Wonderful" two years ago at Laguna Seca. She's now his ex-wife.
Pacific Coast eyeing Champ Car Atlantic return with Dalziel?UPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' on today's announcement that PCM is moving up to the Daytona Prototype class in Grand-Am. See Hot News page for announcement. This is yet another team that ALMS has lost to Grand-Am (they ran Corvettes in ALMS earlier this year.) The divide and conquer strategy is working perfectly in sports cars too. 09/01/05 In the wake of Pacific Coast Motorsports (“PCM”) decision to withdraw immediately from the 2005 American Le Mans Series (“ALMS”), Ryan Dalziel, who drove for the Oxnard-based squad, has stated his full support of the team’s decision to pull-out of the championship with three events remaining.
Recruited by PCM at the start of the season, Dalziel piloted the team’s GT1 #5 Menards-Yokohama Corvette C5-R with former Toyota Atlantic rival Alex Figge, the best result of the season coming at Portland in July with a third place class finish.
With the news that PCM are to terminate their ALMS program with immediate effect Ryan commented: “I fully support PCM’s decision to stop racing in the ALMS. In short, for a team that’s used to winning races and championships it’s difficult to enter a new series and compete as an independent outfit against teams enjoying full manufacturer support. That said I think the team did an awesome job with the equipment at their disposal but the bottom line is the whole crew’s better than our actual results show. We gave it everything and we came close to adding a second podium last time out at Road America.”
Reflecting on his time with the team and his options for the remainder of the season and beyond, the 23-year-old Scot said:
“I’ve had a great time racing with PCM and I really have to thank Tom Figge and Tyler Tadevic for giving me the opportunity to compete for them this season. I’m still busy despite no longer racing in the ALMS. I have my commitments with PKV Racing in the Champ Car World Series and I can confirm I’ll be competing in the final three Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series events with SAMAX Racing.
“Landing a Champ Car ride is still my priority for 2006 but I’m pleased to say PCM have offered me a seat with the team wherever they choose to compete next season. It’s a strong option to have subject to any open-wheel opportunities that might come my way. I enjoy a great relationship with the team and would be proud to race with them again.”
09/01/05 With the announcement today (see Hot News page) that Pacific Coast Racing has withdrawn from the ALMS comes speculation that they might be eyeing a return to the Champ Car Atlantic Series in 2006 (they had much success in the Atlantic Series and should have never left) and the lucrative $2 million pot of gold to the champion, or a possible entry into Champ Car.
Honda pitches engine to Champ CarUPDATE A reader writes, Ok, so, Honda leaves Champ Car for dead, tries to steal all their drivers and teams to the IRL by offering gobs of money, artificially props up the IRL with thousands of free tickets, basically tries any and every method to destroy Champ Car.....now, after Champ Car has fended off all attacks, has built a base to thrive, and FINALLY appears to have it right regarding the performance specs of the 2007 car, Honda comes back and wants Champ Car to change the engine specs so Honda can come back in and use their piece of s..t, low horsepower, low rpm, "drowning cow" sounding, IRL engine?? Uh, ok! Hahaha, isn't this how this CART judgment day era all started in the first place (Penske trying to get the owners to adopt the IRL engine specs 3-4 years ago and the engine manufacturers dictating the series)? I hope they are not that dumb again. Derek Hughes, Cincinnati, OH. Dear Derek, Assuming this rumor is true (no guarantee there, we think it is a cover-up for something more), we think it would be better if the IRL adopts the Champ Car turbo engine - a far better sounding and far more versatile engine, rather than the other way around. Honda has built these engines before and are quite capable of doing it again. IRL fans like the Champ Car engine, as we never hear them say the IRL engine sounds better, or performs better; it does not. In other words, Robert Clarke should be making his pitch to Tony George, rather than Champ Car. Mark C.
09/26/05 Honda's Robert Clarke told people he went to Las Vegas to talk with Kevin Kalkhoven about reunification but SPEEDTV.com has learned that his real purpose was to pitch Champ Car on using Honda engines in 2007.
Clarke passed up the first day of practice for the IRL show at Watkins Glen to meet with Kalkhoven and Tony Cotman, director of competition, to see if Champ Car had any interest in switching to normally-aspirated, 3-liter, V-8 engines for 2007.
Honda has already designed a new IRL engine for '07 based on what it believed the new rules would be. However, IRL officials recently announced there would be no changes for 2007 so now Honda has a new engine with no place to run except possibly the Grand Am sports car series.
Clarke lobbied Kalkhoven, who co-owns Champ Car and Cosworth Engineering with Gerald Forsythe, to consider changing from the current 2.65-liter, turbocharged motor to the normally-aspirated, 3-liter, V-8 engine so it could compete with Honda in the 2007 Champ Car season. More at SPEEDTV.com
NASCAR to reject new Dodge nose again NASCAR officials are not expected to approve the new aerodynamic nose piece that Dodge teams have been politicking for much of the season. Dodge teams are not pleased with that, pointing out that Ford and Chevrolet will both have new cars next season. Winston Salem Journal
NASCAR to meet on Car of Tomorrow NASCAR is expected to meet with owners this week to discuss the car of tomorrow. Top owners in the garage are worried about the cost; each new car is expected to cost $150,000-plus. Multiply that by 25 cars per team and the total will make it impossible for many organizations to stay in business. The first test of the restrictor-plate car of tomorrow is scheduled for October 3. NASCAR hopes to have the new car ready for competition for the 2007 season. Sporting News/Lee Spencer
Changes to The Chase next year There may well be a new rule on points for next year's championship chase, according to sources who say that NASCAR is considering a separate points system for the 10 leading drivers. Under that this season, Kurt Busch would not have lost as many points for his Loudon crash - Busch was credited with 41st-place points at Loudon, but under the proposed system he would have been credited with 10th place points, and would still be in the hunt. Of course, under such a new system, the worst finish a playoff driver would be credited with each weekend would be 10th - 134 points, losing at most 56 points to the tour leader. At Loudon, Busch finished 35th and got 58 points. Winston Salem Journal
Busch out BEFORE end of season?UPDATE Rusty Wallace said lawyers are currently working to get Kurt Busch out of his contract at Roush Racing so he can drive the #2 Dodge at Penske Racing South next year. "I know he wants to drive the car next year," Wallace said. "They're trying to get everything worked out." Augusta Chronicle09/17/05 Sources close to Jack Roush say that Roush may indeed be releasing Kurt Busch to Penske before the end of the season, though it still isn't clear just who Roush might have in mind to take that seat. Roush has steadfastly insisted he has no plans to release Busch. Winston Salem Journal
Wheldon may get a test with WilliamsUPDATE At least one formula one team is dead 'serious' about Dan Wheldon. His is not a well known name in Europe, but the 27-year-old Englishman wrapped up the Indy Racing League title in New York overnight, and earlier in 2005 won the Indy 500.
Now, the Briton is apparently being courted by Sir Frank Williams, who has an affection for American-made stars after hauling Jacques Villeneuve, Alex Zanardi and Juan Pablo Montoya across the Atlantic.
Dan Wheldon, who is holding out against signing a new 2006 contract with Andretti-Green, said on Sunday: ''I've had probably fifteen approaches from different (F1) teams.''
So, too, have plenty of others. But Dan knows when a grand prix squad is being serious.
He explained: ''(It's) when they ask for your weight and height to see if you fit in their car! One team has done that.'' [Editor's Note: We predict Wheldon will not get an F1 ride. This is all just a PR stunt.]
09/22/05 This Grandprix.com article says, There is much talk at the moment of Nico Rosberg being the favorite for the second seat at Williams next now that Jenson Button has bought his way out of his contract and Nick Heidfeld has been released to join BMW. However there are no foregone conclusions in this matter and we hear that one man who might be in the frame is Britain's Dan Wheldon who, at 27, has won the Indianapolis 500 and will soon win the Indy Racing League title as well. Wheldon has achieved pretty much all he can achieve in America, finishing runner-up to Tony Kanaan last year and on the verge of this year's title. He is the first Englishman to the win the Indy 500 since Graham Hill in 1966 and the first to win both the 500 and the title. The last man to do that was Jacques Villeneuve 10 years ago. There were stories back in June that Wheldon would get a chance to drive a Williams this year if the team had the capacity to give him a run, not least because his manager Julian Jakobi is a well-known F1 mover and shaker.
What will Rudd do next? Ricky Rudd still hasn't decided what he wants to do next year, and the Wood brothers are getting restless in getting an answer. If Rudd returns for another season, the Wood brothers would likely put Jon Wood, the third generation, in a Cup car for seven races to get his feet wet for a full Cup campaign in 2007. If Rudd doesn't come back, Jon Wood would get the ride full-time next season. Salem-Journal
Klien won't run for BMW The first all-BMW formula one car will track debut at the beginning of next year, likely 2006 team principal Mario Theissen said in Brazil.
Asked for an exact debut date, the German - almost certain to head the Munich carmaker's takeover of Sauber - told reporters that such detail had not yet been determined.
''We have already made the long term decisions,'' Theissen added, but he refused to confirm whether he would be F1's newest team boss. A lot has been written about that,'' he agreed, ''but we will present the complete team with all the key figures next year. I'm sure there'll be a job for me.''
Theissen also responded to paddock rumors that Red Bull's Christian Klien could find his way into the second BMW cockpit next to Nick Heidfeld.
He responded: ''That's pure speculation with nothing behind it. I cannot speak about drivers at the moment.''
Ferrari to fork out $263m? Kimi Raikkonen may have been offered a staggering $190m to drive for Ferrari from 2007-2011.
That's the advice of well-connected grand prix paddock resident, and former F1 driver, Martin Brundle. Today, the Briton is David Coulthard's manager and commentator for British channel ITV.
The 46-year-old told the Sunday Times: ''I wouldn't sign any driver for a fixed five years, not even Kimi, as too much can change in that time.''
But Brundle, who raced 158 grands prix for teams like Jordan and McLaren, continued: ''Good luck to them is what I say, because you're worth what somebody will pay you.''
Meanwhile, if you listen to the whispers around the Ferrari garage, its once grandiose budget is actually facing yearly cutbacks these days. It is with further surprise, then, that the princely sum of $73m has now apparently been waved in Valentino Rossi's face as the MotoGP ace decides whether or not to make the F1 switch in 2007.
And, in the same edition of Gazzetta dello Sport, 26-year-old Rossi refused to respond to Renault boss Flavio Briatore's complaint that the Italian champion behaves like a kindergarten child. Rossi said: ''I don't think he and I could ever get along.''
’Knockout’ quali for 2006?UPDATE Ross Brawn and Patrick Head have been put in charge of solving the final stumbling block to a brand new 2006 qualifying format. In Brazil, the respective Ferrari and Williams technical men were asked in a bosses' meeting with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone to canvass a solution to the thorny topic of 'race' or 'low' fuel.
In a nutshell, some teams insist that - with fuel tank size now signed off for their 2006 car design - switching back to a 'low fuel' qualifying format, such as the proposed 'knockout' system, will be to their disadvantage. Conversely, some teams may be pushing for the change as a result of their own tank design. ''I think (sorting out the fuel issue) could be done this weekend,'' BAR principal Nick Fry told the Autosport website.
09/24/05 Team bosses met at Interlagos on Friday to discuss a potential change in the qualifying format.
It is expected that the clan, led and organized by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, might meet again on Sunday in a late bid to overhaul the unloved single lap system of 2005.
Top of the 2006 shortlist is the proposed 'knockout' system, basically with the slowest five cars eliminated in stages. But bosses agree that - with the basis of 2006 cars already designed - race-levels of fuel will have to stay.
Others insist that it is now too late to make a substantial change for 2006, even though it is agreed that second Saturday practice - not the previous race - will determine the order for qualifying.
A particular proponent of the qualifying shake-up has been Renault's Flavio Briatore. ''He has put together a proposal,'' engineering deputy Pat Symonds revealed. ''It has certainly not been discarded out of hand, but we are close to running out of time.''
Brazilian GP moved to November 5th The Brazilian Grand Prix in 2006 is going to be held on November 5 and will be the World Championship decider. It is not clear how the rest of the calendar will change but it seems that the teams are only willing to agree to 19 dates if there are bigger gaps between the races, rather than the back-to-backs we have seen this year. There have been hints for some weeks that the calendar will stretch into November, as it used to do on a regular basis in the 1980s and 1990s, notably at the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide.
The need to move the Brazilian race comes because of the Brazilian presidential election which will take place on October 1 - the date which was originally scheduled for Brazil. If a candidate does not win 50% or more of the votes, there is a run-off between the two leading contenders, which will be held on the last weekend in October, which means that the first weekend of November would be the first after the election. More at Grandprix.com
Champ Car Atlantic rumors According to Jimmy Vasser, Katherine Legge will probably stay in the Champ Car Atlantic Series in 2006, even though she will test a Champ Car in the off-season. Vasser also reports that Alex Zanardi has a go-kart driver that he runs in Europe that is doing really well and he wants to get him in a Champ Car Atlantic ride in 2006.
Da Matta back to Newman/Haas Word in the Champ Car paddock is that Cristiano da Matta is talking to Newman/Haas about a possible return in what could be a three-car super team if the money can be found for the third car.
PKV eyeing Manning and Carpentier Word in the Champ Car paddock is that with Jimmy Vasser possibly retiring and da Matta possibly talking to Newman/Haas that the team may be in the market for two new drivers and that Darren Manning and Patrick Carpentier are talking to the team.
Ferrari offers Rossi $72 million Ferrari confirmed it wants to give world motorcycling champion Valentino Rossi his Formula One debut in 2007 but denied reports that an agreement has been already reached. Italian media speculated that Ferrari was prepared to give the Italian rider - Italy's most popular sportsman - a three-year contract worth euro60 million (US$72 million).
Seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher's contract with Ferrari expires at the end of 2006, the same year to which Rossi recently extended his MotoGP contract with Yamaha.
"We are interested and would like to have him with us, because we believe the Ferrari-Rossi combination is very alluring," Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport published Saturday.
"It depends on him ... if he wants to seriously begin a career in Formula One he will have to undergo tests. We have not yet discussed a program of tests - let's wait until he wins the title and then we will see." EitB24
A race at Fuji in the spring?UPDATE #2 The negotiations (or perhaps arguments is a better description) over the Formula 1 calendar are continuing with Bernie Ecclestone telling reporters in Brazil there is not going to be a second Japanese event at Mount Fuji. Our sources in Japan are suggesting that things are a little more complicated than that because Ecclestone is willing to have a race at Mount Fuji but only if he gets a little bit more support from Toyota when it comes to the question of the commercial settlement for the sport between 2008 and 2012. Toyota has invested massively in the Fuji circuit and would like to get a Grand Prix but Bernie would like to get the commercial questions in F1 sorted out quickly and so is rumored to be suggesting a compromise solution between the two parties.
There is a contract in place for Suzuka for the Japanese GP but this does not mean Fuji could not host a Pacific Grand Prix or indeed an Asian Grand Prix, in a similar arrangement which sees Nurburgring hosting the European GP on a regular basis. Grandprix.com
09/23/05 Bernie Ecclestone says that there won’t be a second Grand Prix in Japan at Fuji next year. In Brazil today Bernie gave a definite “No” when asked whether Fuji will happen in 2006.
“It’s been difficult for next year, but I’ve got it together now,” he said. “Everything’s possible if we can get more races on the calendar. They [the teams] want to stick to 17, so we’ll have 19! It will be all more or less the same. I’m sure we won’t lose any.”
09/09/05 The word on the street in Japan is that Toyota is pushing hard for a Grand Prix at Mount Fuji early next year, presumably fitting it in with the plan to hold the first three races in Bahrain, Malaysia and Australia. Logically-speaking if there was to be a fourth race on the early season swing to the Orient it would have to take place on April 16 when the teams would be on the their way back from Australia. This would mean that either the San Marino Grand Prix is dumped from the calendar, easy enough given the recent tobacco legislation decision in Italy and the poor crowd numbers at recent years, or the Imola race would have to be slotted into the calendar later in the year.
There have been two races in Japan in a year before but they were close together on the calendar and thus took spectators away from one another. With a race in the spring at Fuji and another in the autumn at Suzuka, Japanese fans would get the chance to see F1 twice in the same year. Grandprix.com
Wurz may leave McLaren Alex Wurz has McLaren-Mercedes' blessing to pursue a 2006 race drive. The tall Austrian's latest contract with the silver marque is about to come to an end, and he is reportedly in talks with German speaking BMW.
''We would very much like Alex to stay as test driver,'' Mercedes' F1 Norbert Haug told 'Premiere' TV of the 31-year-old, ''but if he sees a good chance then we would not stand in his way.''
Wurz, who last raced for Benetton in 2000 and was quickest of all in Brazil on Friday as third driver, nearly switched to Jaguar as Antonio Pizzonia's replacement in 2003 but the move was scuppered by McLaren.
Honda to back out of testing deal There are rumors in Brazil that suggest that although the manufacturer teams remain visibly united in their stand against the plans for a revised Concorde Agreement, BAR-Honda may be planning to increase its testing to make the team more competitive, thus ending the deal that has stayed in place this year that the teams (with the exception of Ferrari) would impose their own limits on testing. This has not really helped Ferrari this year as the car has been uncompetitive in most places, with one or two sudden bursts of speed, but it has made some of the teams feel that they are holding themselves back in the fight for the World Championship. The decision to reduce testing did not really cut costs for BAR because the team modified its activities to make sure there were cars running at every available moment during the testing days, which meant taking more cars and people to the tests and working everyone much harder than perhaps it appeared. Grandprix.com
Rosberg poised for F1 deal?UPDATE #3 It is 'unlikely' that Nico Rosberg would replace Antonio Pizzonia as Williams' race 'sub' in either Japan or China. That is the belief of the Grove team's technical director Sam Michael, who nonetheless has the 20-year-old GP2-driving German on the list for the full time 2006 seat.
''Whether he is in for the next two grands prix or not,'' the Australian said, ''is something that Frank Williams can decide. ''I would say it's unlikely.''
More promisingly for the son of 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg, though, is his future prospects. Sam Michael said Nico is 'definitely' on the '06 shortlist.
09/20/05 Nico Rosberg is more than likely to get the Williams seat alongside Mark Webber, as there will be a number of factors and the main one being no pressure. Everyone expects Williams to fail next year and putting a rookie behind the wheel of a quick out of the box but fading by mid-season Williams-Cosworth will be great for Nico (son of previous Williams World Champion Keke!). 09/15/05 The injured Nick Heidfeld's vacant Williams F1 seat appears to have boiled down to a race between regular sub Antonio Pizzonia and Nico Rosberg.
Speaking on a PR visit to Malta this week, Brazil's Pizzonia - who filled in at Monza and Belgium's Spa Francorchamps - expressed confidence that he'll get the nod. ''Racing at my home circuit will be something special for me,'' the 25-year-old told reporters.
The young pair are both testing at Silverstone this week. 20-year-old Rosberg, the son of Finland's 1982 world champion for Williams, is tipped in the Finnish and Italian press to have won the seat.
Further reports suggest that Nico, who was born in Germany, would be given a chance to shine in Japan and China (but not Brazil), should Heidfeld not be recovered from a fractured shoulder. ''I think it's premature to speculate on this,'' a spokesman at Oxfordshire said.
09/14/05 WilliamsF1 test driver Nico Rosberg could be on the verge of making his Formula 1 debut with the team according to speculation in the Finnish and Italian press. The GP2 race-winner, who is the son of 1982 Formula 1 world champion Keke, has been linked to the second Williams seat for the final two races of the season at Suzuka and Shanghai.
Nick Heidfeld missed the last two races at Monza and Spa after complaining of headaches following a testing crash.
Now the German has ruled himself out of the Brazilian Grand Prix after sustaining a shoulder injury in a cycling accident – and it remains unclear whether he will return to the seat this season.
'Friday' rule amended? It is suggested that the 'Friday' driver rule may be updated for 2006. With six huge carmakers on the grid - and teams like McLaren, Williams, BMW and BAR-Honda eligible for the privilege either this year or next - there is an initiative to make it available for the bottom four, rather than six, teams.
''I have heard some discussion (about it),'' BAR technical director Geoff Willis admitted. ''I really don't know. We're working on the likelihood it will be the same (rules) as this year.''
The spanner in the works of changing the rule is that it would require a near-impossible unanimous team vote.
Raikkonen protégé eyes Champ Car Kimi Raikkonen protégé Dan Clarke (pictured right) from England, is considering a possible run at Champ Car next year. He and his manager were in the Champ Car paddock looking to meet with Kevin Kalkhoven and Steve Johnson to see what opportunities there might be in Champ Car next year.
Clarke drives for Kimi Raikkonen's team in British F3 and already has a win and many podiums to his credit. Dan Clarke scored his first victory in the British Formula 3 International Series at Castle Combe this year - and he also gave McLaren-Mercedes Formula 1 star Kimi Raikkonen his first win as a team owner.
The visit was strictly a fact-finding mission for this weekend. "I would love to get to F1, but I must keep my options open and we know American racing is good."
A1 GP too expensive? The A1 Grand Prix is reported to have invested $500 million to get the series started and the teams are spending far more money than the sponsors could possibly hope to get in return. Tony Teixeira, executive director of the series gave the Associated Press these figures.
1. Each 1-car team will spend 'as low as $15 million' to run the season, which is outrageously high given it's a low HP ladder platform. 2. A1 franchises costs from $15-50 million depending on the population and wealth of the competing country. 3. The series expects to make 'a nice profit' by year three, which given how much they are getting for the franchises from the countries, it's quite doable.
NASCAR trying to break up World of OutlawsUPDATE #3 This rumor, originally broke by AutoRacing1.com, is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement. 09/23/05 Chris Powell, general manager of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, said Thursday he has talked to both groups about racing at the dirt track next year. "The new series has two heavyweights in Steve Kinser and Danny Lasoski," he said. ''A lot of weight goes along with Kinser's name, but the Boundless Group (that owns the Outlaws) says they've signed six of their top 11 drivers for next year based on today's standings. "It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. We're going to give it a hard look."
Powell said he'd like whichever group he signs with to open and close its season in Las Vegas. The Outlaws have ended the season at the track the past several years and have followed it up with an annual banquet. "That's not a deal breaker, but I suggested to both groups that they start and end the season here," he said. Las Vegas Review-Journal
09/21/05 An announcement is expected this weekend in Dover on a new Sprint Car league called the National Sprint Car League headed by none other that the Pettys. If true, NASCAR's monopolization of the oval track market continues as predicted. 09/06/05 Rumors coming from our World of Outlaws (WoO) sources tell us that Steve Kinser and a few other teams, with backing from Petty Enterprises, are trying to start a breakaway World of Outlaws Series. If true, this is further evidence that the stock car contingent is working feverishly to divide and conquer one of the last remaining successful oval track open wheel series in the USA. This information comes from someone fairly high up in the WoO organization.
The conspiracy theorists all along have said that NASCAR's goal is to takeover all motorsports in North America, one strategic step at a time. Their first major victory was convincing Tony George to divide Indy Car Racing so it can be destroyed. Tony obliged by creating the IRL and that set in motion the eventual destruction of open wheel racing, especially on ovals. USAC wants front engine dirt/pavement team owners to throw away 60 cars and buy the new USAC Pavement car so they can race them on NASCAR high-banked tracks. These owners can't afford the new cars and are resisting. There are rumors NASCAR will buy USAC.
If the conspiracy theory is true, racing fans in North America had better like cars with fenders because open wheel racing is now too splintered to mount a counter offensive. Open wheel racing is in need of some consolidation and soul searching. They already lost the oval track market to NASCAR and with the Grand-Am (also owned by the France Family) there are signs the sports car road racing market could collapse too with ALMS fields getting smaller and smaller.
Foster’s may quit F1UPDATE The Australian beer company has moved quickly to scotch reports that it is reducing its involvement in Formula 1.
Foster's is one of the world's best-known supporters of Formula 1 and has been associated with the sport for over 20 years. Foster's sponsors three races: the Australian, San Marino and British Grands Prix and has premium trackside signage rights at 12 races and beer pouring rights at 13 races each year.
Foster's says that it has long term arrangements in place with F1 as the Official Beer of Formula One and with the world surfing championship competition, as title sponsor of the Foster's Men's World Tour and that it remains committed to supporting both of these important, global properties. Grandprix.com
09/21/05 Australia's international beer brand Foster's is about to race away from formula one. The 'Brand Republic' publication said the company's long running association with grand prix racing will begin to evaporate when Foster's withdraws its title sponsorship of the British GP.
UK chairman and managing director of parent company Scottish & Newcastle, John Dunsmore, is reported to have remarked that the formula one connection 'no longer fits with (Foster's') core strategy'.
Foster's has a contract with the British grand prix held at Silverstone until 2010, but Brand Republic said it is likely to have an 'opt-out' clause.
Also in doubt is the title sponsorship of the Australian GP.
Australian reports indicated that, with the beer market in decline, Foster's was likely to turn from grand prix sponsorship to, for example, international surfing contests. [Or Champ Car for 1/10th the cost.]
Jordan may sell chunk of team Jordan owner Alex Shnaider, to rename his formula one team 'Midland' next year, has vowed not to sell the Silverstone based squad at least until a new 2008 Concorde Agreement can be assessed.
The naturalized Canadian and billionaire, though, said he might flog off a chunk of the team.
''I would not sell completely,'' Russian born Shnaider told Motorsport Aktuell. ''But it is possible to offer a comfortable bed to your guest without giving them a house.''
Shnaider said 'Midland F1' will do with a $100 million budget next year, which would - with the sale of Minardi to energy drink Red Bull - likely make it the poorest in pitlane.
He's openly hanging out for 2008, when a new commercial agreement - allied with FIA rules - will possibly make being competitive a cheaper exercise for independent teams.
IRL won't let Cosworth in without a manufacturer Anyone expecting the Indy Racing League to overhaul its engine package for 2007 might be disappointed. There will be few, if any, changes, according to league president Brian Barnhart. The 3.0-liter configuration in place since the 2004 Indianapolis 500 is reliable enough to keep, he said. Another advantage to consistency is that new research and development won't be required of the designers. That's kind of what we've been saying all summer," said Barnhart, who had not issued a public statement on the engine package. "I'd be hard-pressed to say there will be a significant difference in any area of the engine for 2007."
The lone change will be in the fuel. Ethanol, which is made from corn, will be used following a season in which it is mixed with methanol, the current fuel.
Barnhart said no additional manufacturers have shown enough interest in the IRL to make him optimistic that they will join Honda for 2007. Chevrolet will leave the league after this season with Toyota to exit after 2006.
Barnhart said he is still weighing the effect of removing the stipulation that all engines must carry the label of an auto manufacturer. "We've had a lot of interest from suppliers (of race engines), but I still think we're better off with manufacturer support," he said. "The problem is, if you release (the label stipulation), you make (the IRL) less attractive for future manufacturers to join." Indy Star
Michael Waltrip Bill Davis Racing/Toyota bound?UPDATE #10 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See story on Hot News page.
09/22/05 Michael Waltrip will announce Friday [on Trackside] that he has signed a one-year deal to drive a second car for Davis next season. Davis entered two cars in most races from 2000 to 2003 but cut back last season and now fields only Scott Wimmer's #22 Dodge. Wimmer hasn't had a top-10 finish this season and enters Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway 33rd in points. Waltrip will bring NAPA Auto Parts, his current sponsor at Dale Earnhardt Inc., with him to Davis; Waltrip, 42, announced in July that he would not return to DEI in 2006. Davis' team fields Dodges in Nextel Cup but doesn't receive technical or financial support from the automaker. Dodge sued the team in 2003 after it discovered team members were doing development work for Toyota's Craftsman Truck Series program. Though Waltrip says the lack of factory support has "probably been a disadvantage" for Davis, the possibility of aligning himself with Toyota — which hasn't announced plans to join Nextel Cup but is expected to do so in 2007 — was part of the attraction. "I guess it was a consideration on my part to see what might be next," Waltrip said. USA Today
09/21/05 Michael Waltrip said on this weeks Inside Nextel Cup show that he would announce his 2006 plans on Speed Channel's Trackside show from Dover, which airs this Friday at 7:00 PM ET. 09/17/05 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong.' Michael Waltrip is set to join Bill Davis Racing in a second Nextel Cup team next season, ThatsRacin.com has learned. An official announcement of Waltrip's move - speculated for several weeks - could come as early as Wednesday, sources said. NAPA, the current sponsor of Waltrip's No. 15 Chevrolet at Dale Earnhardt Inc., is also expected to make the move to BDR, which currently fields the No. 22 Dodges for driver Scott Wimmer. The future of Wimmer is not expected to be addressed in the announcement. He has struggled in his two seasons in Cup and is 33rd in points with no top-10 finishes this year.
08/22/05 Mike Brown, general manager for Bill Davis, said his team has had "no talks at all" with Michael Waltrip about joining their operation next season. Winston Salem Journal [Editor's Note: But it does not mean that Waltrip isn't Toyota bound.]
Rio Streets could get an IRL race in 2006 Accordingly to columnist Daniel Castro, from "Folha de Sao Paulo", Rio de Janeiro may get an IRL race next season. The project is being architected by Rede Bandeirantes (the Brazilian TV company that broadcasts the IRL races), through its vice-president, Marcelo Meira, uncle of Vitor Meira, of Rahal-Letterman.
"There is a good chance that there will be a GP at the end of next year" said Marcelo. The race wouldn't be held in Jacarepaguá, which is involved in the problems of the 2007 Pan-American games construction works". The race would take place in the streets of Aterro do Flamengo. The expenses would be paid by the city hall and sponsors. It is estimated to be something between US$ 5 and 10 million. If the race takes place, the Brazilian round would be the first IRL race outside EUA and Japan. Brazilian Media Link
It's ironic that the IRL might beat Champ Car back to Brazil while Champ Car has been floundering trying to make a race happen. Whether there would be any real appeal for the IRL in Brazil, remains to be seen, but they do have Brazilian drivers like Kanaan, Castroneves and Meira. And with the league scaling back its races and focusing on North America, we really don't see the IRL racing in Brazil.
Pizzonia eyes Champ Car and F1 rides The Amazonian Antonio Pizzonia, who is currently substituting for Nick Heidfeld at Williams, in Formula 1, confirmed he has proposals from big teams to race in Champ Car in 2006. Pizzonia says he might switch to another championship if Williams again overlook him as grand prix racer next year.
The Brazilian, ironically filling in for the man who beat him to the 2005 seat - Nick Heidfeld - is probably only second in line after 20-year-old Nico Rosberg in the chase to be Mark Webber's '06 teammate.
Asked what he thought his chances were, 25-year-old Pizzonia said: ''I really don't know. Last year Frank (Williams) told me I had a 95 per cent chance of getting the seat and in the end I didn't get it. It is really difficult to predict what is going to happen.''
'Jungle Boy' Pizzonia also revealed that his manager is looking at other teams, but also 'different championships'. He has been linked not only with the US Champ Car series, but the fledgling 'world cup' A1 category.
"I have proposals from some good teams to race in Champ Car. Maybe I can make that change, but the highest objective is to continue in Formula 1", said the Brazilian. Pizzonia said, if he does change series, he is not worried about the race results, using Cristiano Da Matta as an example. "If I do transfer to Champ Car, it will be to race in a front running team. Cristiano went back there racing with a new team, that still needs to improve a lot", said the Amazonian.
NASCAR prepared to suspend drivers NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Thursday that Mike Helton, the sanctioning organization's president, will tell the drivers prior to Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway that such behavior will no longer be tolerated and that they will risk being suspended if there is more on-track retaliation.
"With what Mike is planning to do at the drivers' meetings on Saturday, prior to the Busch race, and on Sunday is going to sort of give our guys, I don't want to say a final warning, but I think they'll clearly understand that we're going to do what we need to," Hunter said Thursday in a telephone interview.
"If we need to suspend people, then, starting at Dover, that's a possibility."
Portugal may build new F1 track Portugal is warming up to race back onto the F1 calendar. A $130 million grand prix circuit, with possible funding support of the government, is reportedly being planned for the Portimao region.
It will be called 'The International Autodrome of the Algarve' and also include a five star hotel and technology park.
Final approval for the project is expected within six to eight months, project director - of the Parkalgar company - Paulo Pinheiro said.
An environmental impact study is already under way.
In a joint statement, published recently by the Ministries of the Environment and of the Economy in Portugal, the proposed International Autodrome of the Algarve project in Portimão was declared of great importance for the region and in the public interest for a number of reasons. Not least because the new race track will mean an investment of about 100 million euros and will create about 1,500 jobs in the region.
Paulo Pinheiro, director of the project that is promoted by company Parkalgar, was reported as saying that the official recognition that the race track is in the public interest will be the foundation stone for the whole process of gaining approval for the project.
The International Autodrome of the Algarve will include, besides an F1 race track, a go-karting track, a five star hotel, 160 tourist apartments and a technology park. The final approval for the project is expected to happen within six to eight months. And Parkalgar expects to begin building work within the year.
Another wet GP? After 15 races without rain, Brazil seems highly likely to follow Belgium’s pattern of upset weather. Thursday is cloudy and the expected ambient temperature high is 23 degrees Celsius. It will be as warm on Friday, but there is a 30 percent chance of showers, and on both Saturday and race day the temperature will rise to 26 degrees but there will be a similar likelihood of thunderstorms. Formula 1
20 F1 races in 2006UPDATE #4 The news that Indianapolis is to host the United States Grand Prix on July 2 has thrown the cat amongst the pigeons amongst the Grand Prix venues in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship for 2006. This date traditionally belongs to the French Grand Prix and that means that France will either have to move forward to an earlier date or move back. The problem with going back is that the midsummer races are all on relatively traditional dates with Britain on July 16 and Germany on July 30, twinned to Hungary on August 6. There is then a two week break before the likely races at Turkey on August 27, Italy on September 10 and Belgium on September 17. This last event is late in the day for a race at Spa from a climatic point of view (witness the rain this year) and so it is possible, in theory if nothing else, that Belgium might move forward on the calendar and let someone else with a better climate take that date.
The front end of the season has similar problems because Spain seems to be settled on May 14 and Monaco on May 28. This leaves June 4, which the Nurburgring will obviously want. That means that April 30 is really the only date available as the mid-April date is expected to go to Mount Fuji in Japan. This traditionally belongs to the San Marino GP but crowds are down at all Italian races at the moment and it is increasingly difficult to justify two races in Italy, particularly now the Italians have stopped tobacco sponsorship. There was talk last year of France moving to a date in April but that never came to anything. More at Grandprix.com
07/02/05 Bernie Ecclestone has played down qualms about his proposed 20-race calendar for next season. The F1 supremo responded to widespread Paddock groans by denying that 2006 will be an even longer haul than this year's unprecedented 19-races.
''I blocked off 20 dates,'' Bernie, 74, told the BBC, ''but we can change some around. 'It won't be 20, I can assure you. 18, 19 -- who knows.''
Mr. Ecclestone also declined to answer speculation that Mexico has the covert twentieth spot on the '06 agenda. The typically vague Englishman quipped: ''I haven't been (to Mexico) for a long time.''
An unnamed team principal, meanwhile, smilingly encouraged Speed TV to publish news that next year's calendar will be less grueling than the current one. ''Otherwise,'' he remarked, ''we're going to get a lot of people resigning!''
07/01/05 A guess at the calendar by Grandprix.com. Mexico on July 2nd? Too hot: March 12, Bahrain March 19, Malaysia April 2, Australia April 16, San Marino April 30, Spain or France May 14, Spain or France May 28, Monaco June 4, Nurburgring June 18, Canada June 25 Indianapolis July 2, unidentified North American race (possibly Mexico) July 16, Britain July 30, Germany August 6, Hungary August 27, Turkey September 10, Belgium September 17, Italy October 1, Brazil October 15 Japan October 22, China
07/01/05 We are downgrading this rumor to 'speculation.' The F1 paddock groaned when it spotted Bernie Ecclestone's proposed 20-race calendar for 2006. But don't fear, hard working mechanic or his wife -- the extraordinary stream of grands prix, including the first ever triple back-to-back, is not (yet) set in stone.
''The Concorde agreement provides for 16 races,'' McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh pointed out to The Guardian, ''with the provision for seventeen. I think it's likely that the list of 20 dates is to provide flexibility of choice.''
Indeed, F1 supremo Ecclestone had to negotiate separate (financial) deals with the teams to secure the eighteenth and nineteenth races - France and Britain - this year. Mexico is the likely addition, with a race at Cancun. Any trimming back of the current calendar would most logically be made in Italy and Germany, where two grands prix are annually staged.
06/30/05 The World Council has reserved the following record number of 20 preliminary dates for the 2006 F1 calendar: 12 March 19 March 02 April 16 April 30 April 14 May 28 May 04 June 18 June 25 June 02 July 16 July 30 July 06 August 27 August 10 September 17 September 01 October 15 October 22 October
Nigerian NASCAR team in works Prince Malik ado Ibrahim, a Nigerian who was briefly involved in F1 in the 1990s, when he was announced as a 20% owner of the Arrows F1 team. Alas, Malik failed to come up with the money needed and disappeared from the scene soon afterwards, leaving Arrows to struggle on until its demise. Malik's idea of creating an F1 brand (called T-Minus) and funding the team with the money raised was not a big success.
Malik is now talking about running a team called Maverick Motorsports in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and is talking big about plans for the future in the NASCAR Nextel Cup. It will be interesting to see how Malik does in the USA after a less-than-impressive "career" in F1 circles. Grandprix.com
Chinese F1 driver within 5 years In an exclusive press conference on Monday held at Shanghai's Garden Hotel, FIA President Max Mosley, looked back on the success of last years inaugural Chinese Grand Prix and expressed his thoughts on this year’s season finale.
China's top sport and entertainment media turned out in force to hear Mosley talk about the past year, the forthcoming race and answer questions on everything from the Indianapolis/Michelin incident to the rumors surrounding the creation of a rival championship.
When questioned about his thoughts on the Shanghai International Circuit (SIC) and the forthcoming Chinese Grand Prix in October he commented: "The facility is probably the best in the World, it is very difficult to see how what took place last year could be improved. Everyone was overwhelmed by the facility and we are very much looking forward to this year's event. I'm very impressed with the increased amount of motorsport taking place in China. Not just Formula One, China has a very successful Rally Championship. I think as a result of all this activity I think we will see a Chinese driver in the next five to ten years. I think China can look forward to a very successful future in motorsport."
The Shanghai based circuit is a hive of activity as they prepare to host the second Grand Prix with many lessons learned from last year’s race and the MotoGP early this year. Early indications continue to point towards a sell-out race as the FIA Formula One World Championship Series 2005 comes to a close. Source SIC
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