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2010 moves for Barrichello, Glock, to be announcedUPDATE It appears that the Renault F1 Team wants a strong line-up for the 2010 Championship season as, after the signing of Robert Kubica, Timo Glock has been linked with the French outfit. According to the German publication 'Bild', the Renault-Glock deal is 95% certain and will be most likely signed at Abu Dhabi while an official announcement could follow next week.
10/29/09 (GMM) The 2010 grid is set to take further shape next week, with some key deals expected to be announced officially.
Nico Rosberg said in Abu Dhabi on Thursday that he will leave Williams, and his seat will almost certainly be filled by F1's record-setting veteran, Rubens Barrichello.
"In one week we will know more for sure," the Brazilian said, clarifying that the plans of his Brawn teammate Jenson Button will have no bearing on his own.
"At the moment there are more important things than the announcement of my contract for the coming year," added Barrichello.
The 37-year-old admitted that Williams is one of his options for 2010, describing it as one of F1's "best teams". Willi Weber said last weekend that Barrichello's teammate will be Nico Hulkenberg.
Meanwhile, Germany's Sport Bild reports that Timo Glock, who was in the Yas Marina Circuit paddock on Thursday, may have traveled to Abu Dhabi to sign a contract to become Robert Kubica's teammate at Renault.
"Nothing has been signed," the German's manager Hans Bernd Kamps insisted. "For 2010 it looks good and perhaps next week we will have something surprising to announce."
Also strongly rumored is that Bruno Senna has inked a deal to make his F1 debut with the new Spanish team Campos.
IRL to open season in Brazil, China laterUPDATE #16 SpeedTV reports: The 2010 opener had a date (March 14) and a country (Brazil) but no venue until recently. Now it appears that Rio de Janeiro is going to be the host, with a street race by the ocean and that announcement could be any day now.
10/22/09 Rumors are circulating that the IRL Brazil race may not be such a forgone conclusion. Apparently a story on the IRL website, announcing the race confirmation, was posted in error and blamed on a hacker (though that sounds a bit odd as we think a hacker would be more interested in pulling subscriber data from their server than simply posting stories about a race) but the story was pulled and no announcement has yet been made. Information we have tells us that they are focusing on this one, and we will see something announced soon...either way. That the IRL had a story written and ready to go does tell us that they must be optimistic that it will happen. This will be good news for Bruno Junqueira, as he told us in Homestead that he has good prospects for funding if there is a Brazil race.
10/18/09 Drug traffickers shot down a police helicopter during a gun battle between rival gangs Saturday, killing two officers in a burst of violence just two weeks after Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 2016 Olympic Games while also showing some interest in hosting an IndyCar race.
Ten suspected drug traffickers were also killed during the fighting in a shantytown, along with two bystanders in the slum, officials said.
Bullets flying from the Morro dos Macacos ("Monkey Hill" in Portuguese) slum in northern Rio de Janeiro hit the police helicopter pilot in the leg as he hovered above the shootout, causing him to lose control and crash.
Two officers died, while the pilot and three other policemen escaped after the craft hit and burst into flames. The pilot and a second officer suffered burns and bullet wounds. The other two officers also were burned, one gravely, said Mario Sergio Duarte, head of Rio state's military police.
Officials did not know whether the gangs targeted the helicopter or whether it was hit by stray bullets, but the event underscored security concerns that have dogged Brazil's second-largest city for decades.
It was not clear what sort of weapon or weapons hit the helicopter, but Duarte said it was unlikely to have been an anti-aircraft missile. Such weapons have been found in the hideouts of drug traffickers along with other heavy, military-grade arms such as grenade launchers and .50-caliber machine guns.
Duarte said the pilot was able to make a somewhat controlled, though extremely rough landing, which he said would have been unlikely if the aircraft had been hit by a heavy weapon.
Police said 10 presumed traffickers were killed during the fighting in the slum, including three suspects found dead inside a vehicle. Officials gave no details on the other seven.
They said at least eight buses were set on fire in other slums. Television images showed motorists fleeing for cover as automatic-weapons fire crackled in broad daylight amid the worst violence the city has seen in months.
Images broadcast by Globo TV showed flames shooting from the helicopter wreckage, with little more than charred pieces and an intact tail remaining after the fire was doused. AP Story
08/30/09Autosport reports that the IndyCar Series to set to finalize a deal this week to hold a street race in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil as its season opener in March 2010, according to the Indy Racing League's commercial boss Terry Angstadt. Angstadt and Tony Cotman, the vice president of competition, will visit city and commercial leaders in Salvador this week in meetings Angstadt says should lead to contracts.
"We've lots of good letters and communications back and forth," Angstadt said. "All the basic business fundamentals are out in the open. I don't think there are any issues there. We hope to get something signed while we're there."
Below are some circuit layouts we found for you. The Brazilian stock car series recently raced there before 60,000 people.
08/25/09 Rumor has it, according to AutoWeek, that the city likely to land the opening Brazil IndyCar race in 2010 is Salvador, Brazil. Salvador is a beach resort north of Rio de Janeiro.. Salvador is also known as Brazil's capital of happiness due to its easygoing population and countless popular outdoor parties, including its street carnival. The first colonial capital of Brazil, the city is one of the oldest in the country and in the New World; for a long time, it was also known as Bahia, and appears under that name (or as Salvador da Bahia, Salvador of Bahia so as to differentiate it from other Brazilian cities of the same name) on many maps and books from before the mid-20th century. Salvador is the third most populous Brazilian city, after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and it is the ninth most populous city in Latin America, after Mexico City, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Lima, Bogotá, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago and Caracas.
The city of Salvador is notable in Brazil for its cuisine, music and architecture, and its metropolitan area is the wealthiest in the northeastern region of the country. Over 80% of the population of metropolitan region of Salvador has Black African ancestry.
07/17/09 Indy Racing League officials figure to take a big step forward this weekend in anchoring the 2010 schedule. Terry Angstadt, the president of the league's commercial division, will be in Brazil, hoping to sign a contract to stage a March street course race in Helio Castroneves' hometown, Ribeirao Preto. Angstadt will be joined on the trip by Tony Cotman, the IRL's vice president of competition, to review a circuit planned for Campinas, a city about an hour from Sao Paulo. Ribeirao Preto is two hours north of Sao Paulo. Also under consideration for one of what would be two Brazilian races to start the season is a street course race in Rio de Janeiro. Indy Star
06/25/09 The rumor is that the promoters in Ribeirao Preto, a very wealthy city of 650,000 that’s also the home of three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, are going to shell out the largest sanction fee ever – maybe as much as $6-7 million.
And, in addition to receiving free airfare, rooms and meals, the IndyCar teams will all collect a six figure paycheck – in the vicinity of $125,000-150,000 – to make this arduous journey more palatable.
“We’ve said all along that any foreign races must be lucrative for the league and for our teams and this model in Brazil includes both,” said Terry Angstadt, president of IndyCar’s commercial division.
“We’re very excited about getting this deal done.”
Tony Cotman, the IRL vice president of competition, is optimistic the Preto circuit can be racy.
Rosberg signed for 2010UPDATE (GMM) Nico Rosberg told reporters on Thursday that this weekend's Abu Dhabi grand prix is his last of 70 races for the Williams team.
The 24-year-old hinted at the confirmation earlier this week, when he told a German magazine that "if I was to change (teams), it would be a difficult situation in Abu Dhabi" because of his strong relationship with the British team.
When he arrived at the impressive Yas Marina Circuit, he announced that he will have a new team in 2010. It is believed he has signed with Mercedes and will be deployed at either McLaren or Brawn.
But the German said on Thursday: "I don't want to talk about my future. I just want to say that I won't be at Williams, because that is for sure."
10/28/09 (GMM) Nico Rosberg has hinted strongly this week that he is set to move up F1's pecking order in 2010.
The German driver will not confirm that he is leaving Williams after the opening four seasons of his career, but it is expected that he has now penned a deal either with McLaren or the similarly Mercedes-powered Brawn.
Mercedes' Norbert Haug was also giving little away when he spoke with reporters on Tuesday, reiterating that the German marque is keen to sign up a German driver, but not divulging whether those plans are for McLaren or Brawn.
At a sponsor event in Munich earlier this week, Rosberg answered "no comment" three times: when asked whether he is going to leave Williams, when asked if Jenson Button's plans will affect his, and when asked if he thinks Rubens Barrichello would be a good signing for his current Grove based employer.
All he would say is that in 2010 he expects a "winning car".
"I have now been in formula one for four years and it would be great if I could now make the step to a winning car and perhaps even drive for the 2010 title.
"At the moment I am in very good spirits about this goal," said the 24-year-old.
Pressed to elaborate on his expectations for a "winning car", Rosberg confirmed only that he expects the top four teams of 2009 - Brawn, Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari - to still be in charge next season.
Williams cannot finish the 2009 constructors' championship higher than sixth.
Rosberg repeated his expectations for a winning 2010 seat at a sponsor event at the Dubai Autodrome on Wednesday. "Things are looking very good for next year," he told the Middle Eastern website yallaf1.com.
"I cannot tell you who I will driving for but I can say that next year I aim to win races," he added.
Mercedes to sign German F1 driver (GMM) Norbert Haug has kept speculation high by hinting that Mercedes is set to appoint a German driver.
It is strongly believed in F1 circles that Nico Rosberg, who is German despite the fact his famous father Keke is from Finland, will sign with either Brawn or McLaren for 2010.
Both teams are powered by Mercedes; McLaren as the Stuttgart manufacturer's current works team, and Brawn rumored to be on the verge of a 75 per cent Mercedes buyout.
Rosberg, 24, was strongly linked with McLaren earlier this year, but hinting further at the British team's impending estrangement from Mercedes is the fact that Kimi Raikkonen is thought closer to becoming Lewis Hamilton's new teammate.
Mobil 1 to join Merc at Brawn? (GMM) According to a rumor in the paddock of the DTM series finale in Hockenheim last weekend, Brawn could be set to benefit from more than just an intensified relationship with Mercedes-Benz in the future.
It is believed that as part of a closer Brawn/Mercedes collaboration could be the transfer of McLaren's oil sponsor Mobil 1.
The rumor would tie into whispers that McLaren, as well as teams including Williams, have for some time been in talks with Petronas, the Malaysian state oil company.
Petronas is known to want to stay in F1 next year, but the future of its current partner BMW-Sauber is currently uncertain.
In other sponsor news, Brawn will have branding of the Qatar telecom company Qtel on its car in Abu Dhabi this weekend, while Williams has paired up with Qatar's Science and Technology Park to inaugurate the locally-based Williams Technology Centre.
Best Buy moving to the #43? Team officials familiar with RPM's personnel moves tell The Associated Press that sponsor Best Buy will move from Sadler's car next season to Petty's famed No. 43 with AJ Allmendinger as the driver. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the changes have yet to be announced. Stanley Tools will become the sole primary sponsor for Sadler. Both Best Buy and Stanley had shared Sadler's car this season. Associated Press
Donington GP still alive? (GMM) Donington's eleventh-hour efforts to cling to its British grand prix hosting contract have entered yet another day.
Despite widespread reports that all final deadlines have now definitively elapsed, as F1's talks with alternate venue Silverstone resume, the Daily Express newspaper said Donington chief Simon Gillett is not giving up yet.
The newspaper said Gillett has confirmed that his GP contract is still alive, after he transferred the outstanding 12 million pounds sterling to the bank account nominated by F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.
But after Ecclestone already extended deadlines several times, Gillett's payment may reportedly be rejected because it arrived "after close of business" on Tuesday.
Ecclestone declined to comment, but with the billionaire now also at odds with Silverstone about an alternative venue for the 2010 race, Damon Hill admits the prospect that Britain will drop off the F1 calendar altogether.
"It's a possibility -- absolutely," the 1996 world champion, president of the Silverstone-owning British Racing Drivers' Club, told BBC radio Five Live.
"Silverstone is not responsible to provide a grand prix, and it's not Bernie Ecclestone's job to give a discounted race to Britain," added Hill.
Chrysler Expected To Kill Models, Bring Fiats ashore At a media event next Wednesday, Chrysler is expected to announce massive changes to its brands, including the termination of popular models and the introduction of Italian vehicles courtesy of their new owner, Fiat. The Wall Street Journal reported on the forthcoming changes via inside sources with access to the plans.
Key to Chrysler's strategy will be the reduction of underperforming models within their Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands and the introduction of Fiat and Alfa Romeo models to the U.S. market. Fiat hasn't sold a car in the U.S. since 1984; Alfa Romeo left our shores in 1995.
What's Going Away
When Chrysler's plans become apparent next Wednesday, more than a few models are expected to hit the chopping block. When reached for comment, Chrysler representatives told AOL Autos that "since the story relates to future products we can't comment." We expected that, of course.
Ashley's TF team sold to SchumacherUPDATE Go2geiger.com learned Tuesday that Mike Ashley Racing's Top Fuel operation has been sold in its entirety to Don Schumacher Racing.
The sale includes the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster driven by Antron Brown, who first rose to prominence riding a Pro Stock Motorcycle for DSR. The team has been assured that it will remain intact for the final two races of the NHRA Full Throttle Series season.
"I don't have a comment at this time, but I'm a businessman and am always looking for opportunities that benefit Don Schumacher Racing," Schumacher said when reached for comment early Tuesday morning.
High ranking members of Brown's team were informed of the sale late Monday night as it prepared for this weekend's NHRA Las Vegas Nationals. SPEEDTV.com
Allmendinger in a Ford at Lowe's? Sadler at 'Dega?UPDATE Elliott Sadler's #19 Stanley car will race as a Ford for the first time in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. Sadler is racing the Ford Fusion in preparation for Richard Petty Motorsports switch to Ford beginning in 2010. Sadler will return to his familiar #19 Dodge entry for the final three races of 2009.
ON DRIVING A FORD AT TALLADEGA: "Richard Petty Motorsports is working with Ford Racing as we get ready to make the full-time switch at Daytona in 2010. Since this is the final restrictor plate race of the season, we made the decision to run a Ford to get some work done in advance. This will be our first time to practice and work on a Fusion under real race conditions. It should help us get ready to make a strong showing at Daytona and put us in the best position to start next season. I'll be back in a Dodge at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead, but since it's important to start a season off on the right foot we thought we'd try to get a head start."
10/11/09 Richard Petty Motorsports has had a Ford in its possession ready to race since after New Hampshire. It would not be a surprise if AJ Allmendinger is driving a Fusion at Lowe's Motor Speedway next weekend or the week after that. Once the #44 car flips over to Ford, it will remain a Fusion the rest of the season. In addition to Allmendinger, Elliott Sadler is expected to drive a Roush-prepared Ford with a Yates engine at Talladega. Whether or not RPM's proposed merger with Yates Racing goes through, team owner George Gillett has said his team will run Ford's next season. FoxSports
Renault leaving...or staying? There has been talk for a while now that Renault is planning to fund its Formula 1 team next year by selling a shareholding in the organization, perhaps with an option for the buyer to take completely control of the team in 2013 after the current Concorde Agreement deal - to which Renault is committed - runs out. There has been speculation about a couple of possible buyers including Russian telecommunications magnate Alisher Usmanov, who controls the Megafon mobile phone company, which is one of the team's few remaining sponsors. Usmanov has recently showed an interest in diversifying into sports with a 25% share of the Arsenal soccer team in London. He is also the head of the international fencing federation. He owns the celebrated Sutton Place estate in Surrey, which was once owned by J Paul Getty. Usmanov, who is very close to former President Vladimir Putin, clearly likes a high profile.
The other name that has been mentioned is that of Luxembourg investor Gerard Lopez, who runs a company called Mangrove Capital Partners, a venture capital business which specializes in IT businesses. He was an early investor in Skype, making a payment of $1.9m to help the new company out and netting more than $180m when the company was sold to eBay Inc for $2.6bn. Lopez has recently invested in a driver management company. There is talk that there may also be an Asian group interested in buying into the team.
It remains to be seen what happens with Renault's engine operation in Viry-Chatillon. grandprix.com
A1GP could lose sponsors Powerful sponsors may pull-out of the SuperGP next year if an international open-wheeler event is not included in the race calendar. A push has been started by senior political, V8 Supercars and corporate figures to target a new race concept, that would incorporate a Formula 3 event. The Macau Grand Prix model has been suggested as an ideal solution for a future Gold Coast race weekend.
The showcase event, which is sanctioned by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, is run on a street circuit in late November.
Sources have told The Bulletin that there may be scope to host a similar invitational Formula 3 race in Surfers Paradise. [Editor's Note: Are they really serious? Scary.]
Triple Eight co-owner Roland Dane said race organizers should approach the FIA to suggest a third race event as part of the international component, which already includes the Macau race and a race in South Korea.
"The current series attracts the top teams from Europe and Japan to compete," said Mr. Dane, who this month won a position on the V8 Supercars Board.
"I believe there could be scope to expand the series and include the Gold Coast."
New crew chief for Kyle Busch? Joe Gibbs Racing is looking at several things to improve the performance of Kyle Busch's team in 2010, including the possibility of replacing crew chief Steve Addington. "There's not a lot we can say on it," team president J.D. Gibbs said before Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway. "We just want to evaluate on what makes us the best, how do we capitalize on the resources we have, personnel, technology? How do we utilize that? You look at everything. It's frustrating because we know ... we've had some good runs. We just should be better than that week in and week out." Busch failed to make the Chase for the first time since his rookie season in 2005. He has only one win over the last 21 races and nine finishes of 20th or worse after winning three of the first 10 races. He has only 11 top 10s on the season after registering 21 a year ago and 20 in 2007. "Rarely do you go from running OK to now all of a sudden you're out of the box," said Gibbs, reminding no decision has been made on Addington's future. "Tony [Stewart] when he missed the Chase [in 2006], he was coming on strong consistently at the end of the season." Asked if the performance of Busch and Addington over the final four races would determine whether they stay together, Gibbs said, "It probably has more to it than the next four weeks." ESPN
A1GP looking for sucker to buy series Rumor has it that A1GP Tony Teixeira has put the money losing series up for sale. Problem is, who is going to be eager to take on a series with a business plan that has no hope of ever breaking even. Reports are that it bleeds over $100 million per year in red ink.
McMurray to EGR or Yates in 2010UPDATE #3 It's not etched in stone, but the speculation surrounding Jamie McMurray-to-Earnhardt Ganassi Racing isn't exactly written in chalk, either. Neither McMurray nor anyone at EGR has confirmed the move, but garage-insiders say there's a strong likelihood the driver of the Roush Fenway Racing #26 Fusion will replace Martin Truex Jr. in the #1 Chevy next year. The wild-card in the scenario is the sponsor. Bass Pro Shops would like to have an "outdoorsman" type of driver, one who'll appeal to their customer base. To some degree, Truex Jr. fulfilled that role; less so McMurray, who's not exactly the world's most passionate hunter, fisherman or camper. Ford Racing
10/21/09 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. Look for the McMurray to No. 1 Chevy at Earnhardt Ganassi announcement soon.
09/13/09 NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jamie McMurray appears headed for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing to replace Martin Truex Jr., who will move to Michael Waltrip Racing next year. Until recently, McMurray appeared likely to move from Roush Fenway Racing to Yates Racing. But with Yates merging with Richard Petty Motorsports for 2010, and with Petty announcing its four-driver lineup, McMurray’s best option was the No. 1 Chevy at Earnhardt Ganassi. AutoWeek
09/13/09 Could Jamie McMurray be in a Yates Racing car next year after all? Former original Yates employees are saying is they would prefer McMurray over Elliott Sadler. FoxSports
NASCAR Silly Season begins Those drivers looking for rides in 2010 - #07-Casey Mears, #96/71-Bobby Labonte, #43-Reed Sorenson and #12-David Stremme - qualified sixth, eighth, ninth and 11th, respectively at Martinsville. How their futures pan out could depend on the status of Jamie McMurray, who remains the top candidate for the #1 Earnhardt Ganassi ride. Mears could stay put in the #07 if sponsorship can be found. Labonte is a strong candidate for one of the two TRG Racing rides. Sorenson is the favorite for the vacancy at Braun Racing and Stremme's name has been mentioned for the #34 Front Row Motorsports car (where he would be reunited with crew chief Steven 'Bones' Lane) or in a Nationwide car with Rusty Wallace Inc. FoxSports
Menards to #07 team? Sources say Ask.com could come aboard the fourth Richard Childress Racing #07 Chevy car for a partial schedule, but Casey Mears could just as easily lose the ride to Paul Menard, who can bring a full sponsorship. Doug Randolph, the new #07 crew chief, coincidentally, was Menard's crew chief at Dale Earnhardt Inc. And hearing John Menard is pushing for his son to drive for RCR in 2010, but Paul wants to remain in his current situation. FoxSports
Mayfield Injunction likely to be rescinded The U.S. District Court judge who initially granted an injunction that lifted driver Jeremy Mayfield's suspension for what NASCAR says was a May 1 drug test that was positive for methamphetamines now likely will be the one who rescinds the injunction. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decided Friday to send NASCAR's appeal of the July 1 injunction back to District Court Judge Graham Mullen, who has since indicated that he would rescind the injunction based on new evidence and injunction standards. That, according to court filings, would be fine with Mayfield, who never did get back on the track after obtaining the July 1 injunction and having his suspension lifted. The appeals court granted NASCAR's request for a stay of the injunction July 24, and Mayfield has been suspended since then and has sold his team. Mayfield has asked to have the injunction issue sent back to Mullen so it could be dropped and the case can move quickly. The earliest a trial would be is September 2010, and the only consequence for not having the injunction is that Mayfield would not be able to race in NASCAR until a decision is made at trial. More at SceneDaily
Allmendinger to run Ford in three races AJ Allmendinger will run the last three races of the Sprint Cup season in a Ford Fusion, a team source told FOXSports.com. According to a Dodge source, #19-Elliott Sadler will drive a Ford beginning next week at Talladega and finish the season driving for the make. Their Richard Petty Motorsports teammates, Kasey Kahne and Reed Sorenson, will continue to drive Dodges for the rest of the year. RPM is currently in talks to merge with Yates Racing in 2010. Whether or not the deal goes through, RPM's majority owner George Gillett has said his organization will run Fords next year.
Unlike the other RPM teams, Allmendinger's #44 car is not under contract with Dodge so the switch is able to be made early. Sadler's #19 team was let out of its contract. Additionally, RPM General Manager Robbie Loomis confirmed Friday that Allmendinger will drive a Ford at Daytona International Speedway during the Goodyear tire test on Nov. 2-3. That Ford will be equipped with the new FR9 engine, allowing the team to work on the balance of the car as the engine is located differently than the current Dodge engine. FoxSports
Arabs may save Brit GP Rumors across the pond are telling us that Middle Eastern financiers are moving to takeover the British Grand Prix and now-assumed host track Silverstone, according to a report in the Sunday Express newspaper. The rumored plan is to improve the Northamptonshire venue, and enable the track to host the British GP.
However, it seems that the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) is not keen to the idea and has stated that they "...will not stand by and let the directors ask them to sign away their rights".
BRDC president Damon Hill said he has "...no idea of anybody who has been engaged in a deal." while also admitting that the goal is to "attract a significant investor to take on the risky part of running Silverstone."
F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said: "I've not spoken to anybody."
Todt on pole to be new FIA president (GMM) British newspapers have put Jean Todt on pole position to beat Ari Vatanen in the race to become the FIA's new president.
With more than 200 member clubs to cast their votes for Max Mosley's successor in Paris on Friday morning, the result is expected to be announced by lunchtime.
The Daily Mail and Mirror newspapers said Todt, the 63-year-old Frenchman and former Ferrari boss, is likely to defeat Ari Vatanen, the 1981 rally world champion and an ex European parliamentarian.
"There are 224 clubs in the FIA, although it is believed only 210 are voting," the Daily Telegraph explained. "Vatanen's camp believe that they have the support of 108 of them, with Todt's camp claiming to have 140 votes."
Is there another crook in NHRA? After a highly publicized investigation and abrupt disappearance of TORCO Racing Fuel's Evan Knoll last year, it look like the NHRA might have another interesting character in its stable.
It looks like Top Fuel team owner Mike Ashley has his hands full. A civil complaint filed Tuesday by the Department of Justice in Central Islip, N.Y., against Ideal Mortgage Bankers, Ltd., which does business under the name Lend America, is seeking a court-ordered injunction to prevent the company from making loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration. The complaint also seeks relief against Ashley, Lend America’s Executive Vice President and Chief Business Strategist.
This isn't the first time Ashley has come under scrutiny. In 1996, he plead guilty to charges of mail fraud and was sentenced to probation and fined $30,000 for other mortgage-related deceptions discovered at Liberty Mortgage, a separate company run by his father, Kenneth Ashley.
Tom Abbett, Mike Ashley Racing's Director of Business Development stated "There are two sides to every story. This is what the courts are for. It's not something the race team wants to be involved with necessarily but it's reality.
Will Hendrick sack backmarker Earnhardt? You would think with Jimmie Johnson well on his way to a fourth straight Sprint Cup title all would be well in the Hendrick Motorsports world.
Well that's not the case.
While Johnson rolls along on another patented Chase performance with Hendrick and teammates Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon riding along in the top five of the standings, much of the team's success is being overshadowed by the continued disappointment of Dale Earnhardt Jr. The second year of Earnhardt's tenure at Hendrick has been nothing short of a disaster. Rather than building on the solid start Earnhardt had in the first half of last season, the 88 squad has unraveled into a sticky mess.
IRL to return to Surfers?UPDATE The US-based Indy Racing League has not ruled out a return to the Gold Coast but 'serious problems with scheduling and finances' would have to be addressed first. However, should Indy re-emerge on the glitter strip, it would likely be held in the autumn, say organizers. The IRL scrapped the Gold Coast leg of its schedule following last October's event when American bosses, the State Government and local organizers failed to reach an agreement on the event's future.
Speaking to The Bulletin yesterday, Indy Racing League vice-president of public relations John Griffin said though the IRL had not ruled out a return to the Gold Coast, the same issues which saw the organization pull out of Queensland last year still needed to be addressed -- namely, money and scheduling.
Engineering staff upset with Brawn bosses (GMM) Brawn chief executive Nick Fry has played down reports that a number of senior engineering staff are upset with the team over "bonus arrangements", according to the Daily Telegraph.
The rumors are said to have spread in the paddock, leading to rival teams including Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari making job offers to the disgruntled Brawn staff.
Also reportedly at odds with Brawn over pay issues is the new world champion Jenson Button, who agreed to slash his retainer by 80 per cent in 2009.
The 29-year-old also made it known this week that he paid his own travel costs this season, and the Telegraph reveals that Button washed his own overalls between races, only to have Brawn's accounts department refuse to pay the bills.
F1 teams to use standard KERS in 2011? - report (GMM) Formula one teams have agreed not to run KERS systems at all in 2010, but in 2011 they could all be using a standard version of the energy recovery technology.
With KERS hailed as a green solution for the high energy-consuming sport, only two teams will finish the 2009 season in Abu Dhabi next month with active systems running on their cars.
Next year, KERS is again allowed, but the teams' association FOTA have agreed a gentleman's pact to ignore those relevant sections of the technical regulations.
But according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, the apparent KERS snub might be short-lived.
The publication reports that Ferrari's KERS component suppliers MTS and Saft are being lined up to supply a standard system in 2011 for a fee of 2 million euros per team.
ISC nearing sale of failed NY track site ISC Vice Chair & CEO Lesa France Kennedy today said that the company is “nearing a deal to sell 676 acres of land in Staten Island, New York, on which it had hoped to build a track.” ISC abandoned plans for the New York track in ’07. Kennedy declined to offer details of the sale, but said, “We do have a sale that we do think will occur in the near future.” A company spokesperson said that any proceeds from the land likely would be “focused on debt reduction and improving company liquidity” REUTERS
Renault to sell F1 team, become engine supplier only Rumor has it that Renault now plans to sell its entire Formula 1 team and two seriously interested parties may buy it.
Supposedly Renault wanted to sell a maximum of 49 percent of the shares and continue to remain in control of the team, but 'Motorsport Aktuell' reports that the French manufacturer may move for a complete sale of the factory racing team but Renault could remain as a for-profit engine supplier.
The two interested parties are rumored to be Luxembourg entrepreneurs Gerard Lopez (CEO of investment firm Mangrove Capital) and Andrei Krajnik (Regional representative of Renault sponsor MegaFon. The telecom giant is also an important partner of the Olympic Games 2014 in Sochi.) Krajnik, the owner of a construction company, apparently wants to build a Grand Prix circuit near Sochi.
The end of the Atlantic Series?UPDATE #4 This rumor seems to have created some turbid waters. This release was distributed by Newman-Wachs today. We still have major doubts about this series, as NWR was not one of the teams we spoke to that said they don't know of any teams that are planning on racing in this series next season, and that prize money is not being paid. This has always been a great series and they have a great car and close racing. We certainly hope it isn't so, and Vicki O’Connor has pulled a rabbit out of her hat more than once with this series in the past, and taken it to new heights each time. However, we will stick to our position on this one for now, because there is just too much out there indicating this series just isn't going to make it to the grid next year, though again...we certainly hope that is not the case. 10 cars (or less!) really doesn't make a racing series. 10/20/09 Newman Wachs is just one of the teams saying they are having issues and doubts about prize money to be paid, and the continued life of the series. Since this is circulating about from so many angles, we are upgrading this one to strong until we see teams on track for 2010. Even then, we doubt the series will last the full season. See related rumor. 10/16/09 Lots of conflicting information about Atlantic. We spoke with someone who attended the Atlantic banquet at Mazda Raceway and was told that big (both in size and supposed dollar value) checks were handed out; $1 million for the winner, $500,000 for 2nd place and $250,000 for 3rd. Of course, we also heard at Laguna that the prize money hadn't been paid for the Mosport race, much less Road Atlanta. And there would be no real point in writing those checks unless Ben Johnson was prepared to write them again next year. That said, the principals from all the Atlantic teams came over to meet with the top two drivers in the Star Mazda Championship (Peter Dempsey and Adam Christodoulou) during the Mazda Raceway weekend and all were talking about all the great new things that would be going on next season in Atlantic, saying that Atlantic was in such good shape they'd outlast the IRL!
Newman-Wachs to IndyCar or GP2?UPDATE Apparently, this rumor has propagated beyond expectations, and this release came out of the Newman-Wachs stable today:
On the heels of Newman Wachs Racing Team Owner, Eddie Wachs’ statement made earlier this week regarding NWR’s future, it has become apparent that a few things need to be clarified.
Team Manager, Brian Halahan explains:
“The team has plans to move forward with John Edwards and we hope to be in IndyCar with him for the 2010 season. We hope to be able to make an announcement about the details of those plans in the near future. However, this does not directly affect our current position in the Atlantic Championship Series. I am continually in close contact with the Atlantic Championship Series and I am hopeful they will be in a position to fulfill all financial obligations, both for the viability of the Series and for the continued support the Atlantic Championship Series gives to drivers in the open-wheel ladder system. I am moving forward on the 2010 Atlantic season and in discussion with several drivers. I hope to be testing by mid-November.”
"Now faced with the prospect of grooming Edwards into an IndyCar driver, Wachs is hoping his deep relationships within the nuclear energy community will allow him to take his Atlantic champion onwards and upwards.
“Our big concern is if we can keep funding it ourselves. We’ve been almost fully funded by the Nuclear Energy Institute and Entergy. They are interested in our plans and they could be a player, but they haven’t committed at this point. We haven’t put that one to bed yet.”
Running Atlantics again in 2010 is considered an option if they can’t secure the necessary IndyCar sponsorship, but Wachs has some misgivings about that possibility. It seems NWR’s move out of Atlantics is partly tied into the series’ ability to pay the $1,000,000 due to Edwards. (Editor's Note: this supports our rumor of teams having no plans to return to Atlantics...see related rumor)
Williams to switch to Cosworth engines?UPDATE #4 Although there has been no official confirmation from either party as yet, reports in Autosport indicate that the Grove based Williams team will reignite their old relationship with Cosworth engines for the upcoming 2010 Formula One championship season.
After making their split with Toyota official recently, reports were that they were trying to reignite another old partnership, one with Renault that was terminated at the end of the 1997 season after Jacques Villeneuve has wrapped up his one and only world championship crown with the team. However, the British magazine claims that top officials from the French company have revealed that they are no longer part of Williams’ future plans.
Other reports leaned more toward a Mercedes/Williams partnership, however that too has been negated leaving a deal with Cosworth as the most plausible course of action, especially with high praise from team boss Patrick Head....
"They are certainly very committed to it (their F1 return) and working hard. They have been one of the options but we are not stating where we cast our final hook in terms of what is available to us until after the final race of the season. But I think our design office know what they are designing for," he was quoted as saying on Autosport.
Loeb to land F1 ride in Abu Dhabi?UPDATE #9 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Sebastian Loeb will definitely not be on the Abu Dhabi grid next weekend.
The multiple world rally champion has been musing for some the possibility of a one-off debut with Toro Rosso.
But a spokesman for his rally team Citroen on Tuesday was carrying the message that Frenchman Loeb, 35, does not have the necessary super license.
"Seb had requested that he have the answer (about the license) today," said Citroen Racing's Marie-Pierre Rossi.
The news was met with skepticism in the French press, however, with some suspecting Loeb simply was not offered a seat, or elected not to take the risk of pitting himself against the world's best single seater drivers.
Four time F1 world champion and fellow Frenchman Alain Prost backed Loeb's decision.
"Motor sports fans were very curious to see what Sebastien might be able to do in Abu Dhabi," Prost told Europe 1 radio, "but, really, sense prevails.
"Sebastien is a great champion and it would be a shame to risk his image. The two disciplines are so different," he added.
09/29/09 (GMM) Sebastien Loeb has confirmed reports that he is set to test a GP2 car run by the British team David Price Racing.
The multiple world rally champion said on his official website that he will attend the last of three days of GP2 testing at the Jerez circuit next Thursday.
The report said 35-year-old Loeb, who wants to race for Toro Rosso at the 2009 season finale in Abu Dhabi, has also been regularly karting with a weighted helmet to strengthen his neck muscles.
"If his participation at the last grand prix of the season in Abu Dhabi takes shape, the driver (Loeb) will have done his utmost to be ready," the report at sebastienloeb.com reads.
09/28/09 (GMM) Rumors linking Sebastien Loeb with a formula one race foray continued on Monday.
The Le Parisien newspaper reports that the multiple world rally champion is scheduled to test the GP2 car of the David Price Racing team after this weekend's Catalunya rally.
It has been rumored this year that Loeb, 35, wants to race in November's Abu Dhabi grand prix for his sponsor Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso.
All F1 testing during the championship season is banned, except promotional days and some straight-line aerodynamic running.
Loeb's rally team boss Olivier Quesnel said earlier this month that "if someone makes a proposal (for Abu Dhabi) to Sebastien, Citroen Racing will authorize him (to race)".
UPDATE: Raikkonen to Red Bull?UPDATE #3 There is no room at the inn for former F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen at Red Bull Racing in 2010 – that is the emphatic assurance of Christian Horner, who has bluntly rebuffed any notions that two-time grand prix-winner Mark Webber could be side-shifted to 'junior' outfit Scuderia Toro Rosso next year.
In the wake of the belated confirmation that Fernando Alonso is to switch from Renault to Ferrari next season in Raikkonen's place, the 2007 title-winner was immediately linked with a whole raft of teams, from McLaren-Mercedes to Toyota and Renault to Red Bull.
The rumors linking the Finn to the latter intensified in the wake of comments made by Webber in support of disgraced former Renault F1 managing director – and his personal manager – Flavio Briatore following the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) hearing into 'Singapore-gate', with the ruling banning the flamboyant Italian from any FIA-sanctioned form of motorsport indefinitely, driver management included.
UPDATE: Button could leave Brawn over pay dispute?UPDATE #2 The gap between what F1 World Champ Jenson Button wants to be paid next year and what Brawn GP is willing to give him is ‘a bridge that can be crossed’, stated Nick Fry – as both sides stated a desire to remain together in search of more wins and titles.
Button has clearly expressed his desire to remain with Brawn after securing the world championship.
It has been repeatedly claimed, however, that talks have stalled due to the Button’s desire to reclaim the £5 million he gave up last winter, to help the team to stay alive in the wake of parent company Honda’s abrupt withdrawal after the 2008 season; a demand that team principal Ross Brawn seems less than eager to meet.
Brawn is now in much better financial health with the equity of a drivers and manufacturer's world championship, and Button is not off-base in expecting a champion's salary.
“We’re not Honda anymore,” Brawn is quoted as having said by F1SA, alluding to the fact that there is no longer a bottomless pit of funding upon which to draw and stating that the team’s 2010 line-up will be finalized ‘over the next few weeks’. “We’ve got to find the balance between what Jenson’s happy and motivated with, and what we can afford. I’m sure we will.”
“He wants to be with us and we’d like him to stay with us,” added Brawn GP CEO Fry, “so that is a good starting point. I wouldn’t like to say how far apart we are in money terms, but it’s a bridge that can be crossed.”
10/15/09 (GMM) Rubens Barrichello is in talks with Williams about a team switch, but his 2009 teammate Jenson Button looks set to remain at Brawn next season.
Despite reports of a disagreement over his push for a pay-rise, a team source told the British Daily Mail newspaper that Button, 29, is not also going to leave the Brackley based squad.
It is expected that either Brazilian Barrichello, 37, or Button will have to make way at Brawn for the arrival of Mercedes' favored German driver, Nico Rosberg.
"We've been told by Ross Brawn that Jenson is staying and that's that," the Brawn source said.
The Daily Mail added that Button's manager Richard Goddard is not in talks with any alternative teams.
10/04/09 (GMM) Jenson Button is still at stalemate with his boss Ross Brawn, who has hinted the Englishman might have to leave the team as world champion.
29-year-old Button could wrap up the title at Suzuka on Sunday, but is locked in stalling negotiations to increase his retainer for 2010 from a cut-price $5m.
He agreed to slash his contracted pay for 2009 in order to aid the management buyout, and has also been paying his own way in terms of hotel and travel expenses.
But Button's manager Richard Goddard told the Daily Star Sunday that he is "shocked" Brawn is refusing to offer anything more than a slight pay rise.
"We aren't being greedy," he said. "When we signed the deal last year, we did so in the knowledge that if all went well for the team, things would also go well for Jenson."
Lotus eyes IndyCar, LeMans (GMM) The new CEO of the Lotus Group has revealed greater ambitions in motor racing than only formula one.
Dany Bahar, once Dietrich Mateschitz's right hand man at Red Bull before switching to Ferrari, is now in charge of Lotus, whose name will be used by a new Malaysian-owned formula one team in 2010.
"We will investigate participation in IndyCar series, GT and Le Mans racing amongst other series around the globe to demonstrate the shared technology," said Bahar in a media statement.
However, it was clarified that the Lotus F1 team will be separate from Group Lotus, and reports on Tuesday said the Malaysian carmaker Proton - the owner of Lotus - is looking over the team's license agreement for use of the name.
Raikkonen to NASCAR?UPDATE 2007 F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen reveals that his options are entirely open as to what the future might hold. Kimi Raikkonen has joked that he could race in the North American NASCAR series in 2010 should he so desire - as he remained adamant that he still has 'no plans' beyond the end of the current F1 season. The 2007 world champion is being dropped by Ferrari - for whom he has driven since that title-winning campaign - at the end of the year in favor of Fernando Alonso, the man Raikkonen beat by just a single point two years ago. However, Raikkonen insists he has yet to make any decisions regarding next season, when it has similarly been suggested that he might further indulge his nascent forays into rallying by way of a more full-time switch, or even follow in the wheel tracks of fellow former grand prix stars Jacques Villeneuve and Juan-Pablo Montoya by heading across the Pond to NASCAR, a mooted destination for 'Singapore-gate' protagonist Nelsinho Piquet too. "I have no plans," Raikkonen is quoted as having said by The Associated Press, almost two years to the day to when he claimed his first and thus far only F1 title at Interlagos. "I do what I want with my life. I could race there (in NASCAR) if I wanted, but I'm not one of the biggest fans of NASCAR." Crash.net
10/16/09 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has refused even to rule out a switch to America's premier NASCAR racing categories in 2010.
The Finn, nicknamed the 'Iceman', is playing a cool hand after ending his contract for next year with Ferrari, with McLaren and Toyota his most likely destinations if he stays in formula one.
But Raikkonen, who turns 30 on Saturday, is also an avid rallying fan, and was asked by Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport at Interlagos if a switch to the USA is another option.
He answered this his future is "wide open", but elsewhere in the paddock of the Brazilian GP venue played down the NASCAR link.
"I could race there if I wanted, but I'm not one of the biggest fans of NASCAR," Raikkonen told reporters.
Also in Gazzetta, Kimi's current Ferrari teammate Giancarlo Fisichella, to be the Italian team's reserve driver next year, revealed that he has not yet been approached for a F1 race seat in 2010.
"But the teams all know that in theory I am available to race," he said.
Penske to give Tryson the bootUPDATE Kurt Busch told Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody Monday that the search is narrowing for a 2010 crew chief for the Miller Lite Dodge. "We've got a guy internally that we're extremely interested in," said Busch. "I'm also going to sit down with our team president, Tim Cindric, tomorrow to talk about some of the other people that he has spoken to about the job. I have a long list of emails and messages from guys who have contacted me and are interested in the job, and that's a good thing. Old guys, young guys, experienced guys, and not-so-experienced guys; we've heard from them all." Busch repeated his earlier assertion that if he falls out of championship contention, outgoing crew chief Pat Tryson could be cleared to leave the team before the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Sirius NASCAR Radio
10/17/09 If Kurt Busch isn't a factor in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship entering the season finale in Homestead next month, don't be surprised to see crew chief Pat Tryson make an early exit from the #2 Dodge team. "If we find ourselves out of championship contention, that's when we'll make a big change and maybe get the new (crew chief) in there and get a couple races under our belt before we show up back in Daytona," said Busch, who is currently sixth and 121 points behind Johnson in the Chase standings. Tryson announced last month that he'll leave the Penske organization at season's end and become Martin Truex Jr.'s crew chief at Michael Waltrip Racing in 2010. Racin' Today
Harvick is expected to leave RCR, Jr. to bring back No. 3?UPDATE If Harvick does make 2010 his last year at Richard Childress Racing, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has made no progress at Hendrick Motorsports, could it be possible we'd see an Earnhardt back at RCR in 2011?
The 2011 Sprint Cup season will mark the 10th anniversary of the death of NASCAR's "Intimidator.'' Yes, enough time has passed since that horrible day at Daytona. Earnhardt and Childress won six championships together.
Harvick out of the No. 29 RCR car and Dale Jr. comes into the fold at Welcome, N.C.? Can you imagine the excitement that would generate just as the economy begins heating up again and people have money to buy No. 3 collectible stock cars.
10/19/09UPDATE: This rumor is upgraded to "strong" today. See Hot News Item
10/15/09 Richard Childress Racing driver Jeff Burton acknowledged on Thursday that teammate Kevin Harvick is expected to leave the company when his contract runs out at the end of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Burton, speaking at Lowe's Motor Speedway, was asked about Harvick's comments in a prerace television interview last Sunday at Auto Club Speedway where the 2007 Daytona 500 winner indicated he doesn't plan to compete for RCR beyond 2010. "I think that everybody is behaving in a very professional manner, and everybody is understanding that Kevin has a year left on his contract and he's going to do everything in his power to do the best job for RCR and RCR's going to do everything in their power to do their best job for him," Burton said. "Teammate Clint Bowyer and I are going to continue to work with Kevin the same way we always have, and I think we're going to work together better actually - not because he's leaving but because we need to. And things change. Kevin may look around eight months, 10 months from now and say, 'You know what: Things have really changed here, and I really think this is the place that we're going.' By his interview he indicated that wasn't going to happen, but you never know." Harvick, who has been with RCR's Cup program since being tabbed to replace Dale Earnhardt following the seven-time series champion's death on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, hasn't won a points-paying event since his Daytona 500 triumph in the 2007 season opener. Harvick missed the Chase this year and is 21st in the standings. SceneDailyComment
Paul Ricard eyes French GP bidUPDATE #2 Bernie Ecclestone has warned officials in France that time is fast running out for them to find a new circuit for the French GP.
"That's all I want, but it seems to be hard to put things in place in France," the F1 supremo told the Le Parisien newspaper. "I've sent a contract to them and it hasn't been sent back. At the moment, I'm being told that we shouldn't hope for a circuit in or around Paris before 2013. I've also heard about possibly returning to Paul Ricard. "It's a shame, because it's going to get harder to find a spot on the calendar. They need to act quickly because time is short."
05/29/09 (GMM) French prime minister Francois Fillon has vowed the government's support in reinstating the country's formula one race.
After the demise of the Magny Cours event, and also the alternative Disneyland Paris project, Alain Prost said last week that the latest Flins-Les-Mureaux foray had also hit "political problems".
"I cannot believe that we do not have a grand prix of France," prime minister Francois Fillon, born in Le Mans and a keen motor racing enthusiast, told Europe 1 radio.
He promises that the "government will do everything so that there is a (GP) as quickly as possible", for example in 2010 or 2011.
Paul Ricard's last turn leading onto the pit straight
05/22/09 (GMM) Paul Ricard, owned by a company associated with Bernie Ecclestone, has emerged as a possible host of a French grand prix.
After the loss of the Magny Cours event, and problems with potential alternatives around Paris, Circuit Paul Ricard director Gerard Neveu said the venue has "decided to think seriously" about bidding for the race.
One of the prior obstacles to the concept of a grand prix at Paul Ricard was, following the renovation into a state of the art test circuit, the complete lack of spectator grandstands.
However, spectator facilities have now been built, and Neveu said: "We started to think on what we would need to do to welcome a grand prix."
The track is also already homologated by the FIA, and the necessary top 'Grade 1' classification was renewed after a visit by Charlie Whiting last week.
Todt campaigner made 'threats' for election vote (GMM) Supporters of Jean Todt's election campaign reportedly exerted pressure for votes ahead of the change of power at the head of F1's governing FIA next Friday.
In a report in Britain's Mail on Sunday, a Ugandan motor sport official alleges that a representative of the 63-year-old Frenchman phoned and made "veiled threats" that he should drop his support for the independent candidate Ari Vatanen.
Jack Wavamunno, the president of the Ugandan motor racing club, said Todt's proposed FIA vice-president for sport Surinder Thatti said in one phone conversation that a sponsor was willing to pay an outstanding bill to the FIA.
"He said (the sponsor) could pay that, but only on the condition that I withdrew my candidacy and we gave our vote to his candidate, Todt," said Wavamunno.
Hendrick to keep McGrew Rick Hendrick is committed to Lance McGrew remaining #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s crew chief for the rest of the Sprint Cup season and appears to be leaning toward keeping them together in 2010. "My philosophy has always been if you can fix something rather than start all over then I'd whole lot rather fix it," the owner of Hendrick Motorsports said before Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "When I see the car as the best car out there in my group for two or three of the races and then just have crappy luck, it's almost like, 'Hey, let's focus on the little things that can make it better.' " Hendrick's comments came 24 hours after Earnhardt expressed frustration with how his season has gone since switching from long-time crew chief Tony Eury Jr. to McGrew in June. Hendrick said he is encouraged with the performance of the team, noting again bad luck has contributed to six straight finishes of 17th or worse that has Earnhardt buried at 22nd in points. Hendrick said Earnhardt's struggles have made it tough for him to enjoy the success of his other three drivers. Jimmie Johnson entered Saturday's race first in points, followed by Mark Martin in second and Jeff Gordon in fifth. Hendrick said he has no timetable for when he will make a decision on Earnhardt's crew chief for next season. He wasn't quite sure what his driver meant when he said he needed a "dictator" like he had when Tony Eury Sr. was his crew chief in the Nationwide Series and early in the Cup series. But Hendrick didn't sound like a man that was ready to make a major change. "All I can look for in a team is we're getting better rather than backing up, and we're getting better," he said. "This is a hard deal. Sometimes, when you start to doing good and then you have a problem, it's worse than when you're steady Eddie. We haven't made any decisions other than we're going to try to do the best we can." ESPN.com
British bank to buy into Manor F1 team (GMM) The British bank Lloyds is eying a minority stake in the new Manor formula one team.
Rumored to already be strongly backed by Virgin, and possibly renamed after Sir Richard Branson's famous brand, Manor could also sell up to a 15 million pounds sterling share to Lloyds, which is nearly half-owned by the British taxpayer.
The Times newspaper said the deal would not involve on-car sponsorship or other advertising, but would nonetheless be controversial.
"Many customers will find it impossible to understand why, when Lloyds is cutting back on lending to thousands of small but sound British companies, they have money to spend on vanity projects of this kind," said Liberal Democrat politician Vince Cable.
A source close to Lloyds said: "They are not doing this for the sponsorship or the glamour. This is about backing a strong management team in a specialist engineering business."
A1GP has one foot in the grave, plan the funeralUPDATE #9 With the 11th hour cancellation of the A1GP race in Surfers Paradise, touted as their biggest event, not only can you plan A1GP's funeral (what country or race promoter will ever trust they will show up for their event), you can order the flowers and call the undertaker as well.
10/16/09 “At the moment it’s too early to give an appropriate answer to the question of whether Ferrari has an agreement to supply A1GP engines for the upcoming A1GP season,” said a spokesman. Asked whether there is an engine deal with A1GP, the spokesman said that “from a strictly formal point of view, there is not an agreement valid for this coming season. There are ongoing talks about which we would prefer not to comment.”
This suggests that the rumors of financial problems may be true.
“There are things that still need to be finalized concerning the engine supply and the licensing agreements which were valid in the past,” said the spokesman.
10/15/09 AR1.com has learned that Team Germany is not going to the Surfers race. They see no future for the series.
10/15/09 Organizers of the Gold Coast's showcase event have until today to prove the A1GP cars are booked to travel to Australia or the race could be over before it's even begun.
In scenes of high farce, the State Government yesterday gave organizers 24 hours to produce documents demonstrating the open-wheel racers were headed for the Gold Coast and threatened potential legal consequences.
The confusion and chaos surrounding whether the A1GP race would proceed escalated with the cars still impounded in London because of unpaid debts, tire manufacturer Michelin refusing supplies because it is owed money and vehicle safety modifications unmet.
While team accommodation and visas have been organized, no one has booked for the vehicles to arrive at Brisbane Airport.
Rossi to Ducati rumorsUPDATE Valentino Rossi has been linked with a move to Ducati as early as next season already, while the Italian has an ongoing contract at Yamaha for another season. Rossi though has said the only team he will be racing for in 2010 is Yamaha.
"I will race for Yamaha in 2010," Rossi told Italian newspaper Repubblica. "It is easy to explain because I have a contract with Yamaha for next season and I have absolutely no intention to leave the team next season. We even talk about a longer future already.
"I will make a decision on my future in MotoGP in June 2010 because any time earlier than that would not make sense. I will also have to think if I want to continue in MotoGP or change path."
09/07/09 MotoGP World Champion and Misano winner Valentino Rossi was asked about a potential move to Ducati in 2011 after Sunday’s race, but says he is still to decide on his future.
Speculation in the press linking Italian national hero Valentino Rossi with a move to Italian factory team Ducati resulted in the World Champion inevitably being asked about the subject following yet another victory in Italy, but the MotoGP title holder insists the rumors are just paper talk at present.
The 30 year-old rider took another step closer to what would be a fourth premier class title with his current Fiat Yamaha team and a seventh premier class crown in total on Sunday, and when asked about the 2011 Ducati rumors he replied, “I haven’t decided yet about my future, I will decide in the next year. I have a contract signed already with Yamaha (for 2010). For sure it is a great dream for everybody, to see Valentino with Ducati. We will see, I don’t know.”
A1GP axedUPDATE This rumor is now 'fact.' THE besieged A1GP car racing series today admitted it will not be coming to Australia next week to join the SuperGP on the Gold Coast.
Sports Minister Phil Reeves today announced the A1GP was officially out of the event due to start next Thursday on the Surfers Paradise street track.
It was the worst kept secret in world motorsport for weeks and it seems only the organizers of the SuperGP believed the increasingly unstable A1GP would actually show up.
The Gold Coast Bulletin exposed holes in the A1GP plan on a daily basis this week until Mr. Reeves stepped in on Friday to announce a back-up plan, which today he executed.
He spent Friday working with V8 Supercars boss Tony Cochrane to come up with an alternative event schedule should A1GP chief Tony Teixeira fail to meet demands to prove he had freighters booked to bring his cars to Australia.
Not only did Mr. Teixeira fail to show those documents, he admitted in writing they would not be racing in Australia.
Under the new plan, the Gold Coast's premier motorsport event will become the biggest endurance race held by V8 Supercars after Bathurst.
They will switch their race schedule from a 200km race on Saturday and Sunday, to instead hold four races in two days -- two 150km races on both days.
"We've never done 600km of racing in two days and never done four races in a weekend before, so this will be a first," said Mr. Cochrane told the Gold Coast Bulletin and goldcoast.com.au exclusively on Friday.
"What we've done is worked with the Queensland Government to have a real genuine plan B in place."
Mr. Cochrane alerted all the V8 Supercar teams that they would need to be prepared to race 600km instead of the 400km previously planned.
It would require them to completely change their car set-up -- some of the Victorian teams would most likely do that once they arrived on the Gold Coast.
Mr. Cochrane said taking off 50km from each of the races would not compromise the strategic racing expected because refueling and pit-stops would still come into play.
Each race would be for championship points and a 20-minute qualifying shoot out on Sunday for the day's two races would also be added to the schedule.
Today's announcement is a major embarrassment for SuperGP Greg Hooton and chairman Terry Mackenroth who oversaw the deal with failed sponsor Nitro and now failed open-wheelers A1GP.
And government minister Judy Spence is not out of the woods either.
The former Sport Minister was holding the reins when she announced she had secured the Indy Racing League for a future contract when she clearly hadn't. Then she, with Mr. Mackenroth, secured the fatally flawed deal with A1GP.
The debacle has caused widespread unrest about next week's Gold Coast race and impacted ticket sales, corporate bookings and the reputation of the event.
10/16/09 Gold Coast Super GP has reportedly lost its showcase event, with red-faced organisers set to confirm on Saturday the A1GP race will be scrapped.The couriermail.com.au reported the A1GP cars remain locked up in London, forcing Gold Coast organisers to abandon the category and turn the event into a V8 Supercars-only show. Instead of the planned two 200km races, the V8 series will instead stage four 150km races - two on Saturday and two on Sunday. Acting Premier Andrew Fraser said on Friday the State Government would take legal action against the A1GP organisers for "tarnishing the event". The $11 million taxpayer contribution towards staging the October 22-25 event would still be spent, Mr Fraser said. The much maligned A1GP series hit a fresh snag when reports emerged on Thursday that their international teams had been delayed in London due to urgent safety modifications required on the cars.
Piquet had ride at Toro Rosso until 'crashgate' There is a postscript today to the story of Nelson Piquet and the Singapore crash fixing scandal. Nelson’s father has spoken to Gazzetta dello Sport’s Pino Allievi about the background to the story and it makes very interesting reading. He has no sympathy for Renault boss Flavio Briatore, who has been banned from motorsport for life, “He deserved it,” says Piquet. “Admittedly it wasn’t his idea, but to convince a young driver to do something like that is huge. He should stay far away from racing.”
Piquet reveals that he was keen to move his son on from Renault at the end of 2008 and says that he had lined him up a good alternative,
“It was (Flavio) Briatore who wanted an extension (for 2009). I wanted Nelsinho to leave Renault and had found him a seat at Toro Rosso with Gerhard Berger. But Nelsinsho wanted to stay with Renault because there was the chance that Alonso would go to Ferrari.”
Piquet reveals that he spoke to Briatore at the Hungarian Grand Prix about Nelson’s likely sacking and Briatore told him to take him to court if he had a problem “He spoke with the air of superiority which is typical of someone who thinks he cannot be touched,” he said. Piquet became angry and went to see FIA president Max Mosley, who told him to get his son to make a sworn statement.
Car #1 driver to be named soon Earnhardt Ganassi Racing is close to naming a driver for the #1 car next season and it apparently won't be Jamie McMurray, as has been widely speculated. A source close to the situation said McMurray, whose contract at Roush Fenway Racing is up after this season, no longer is in the picture and that two people are in the mix. Rumored drivers include: Bobby Labonte, Reed Sorenson, David Stremme, David Gilliland and Casey Mears. More at ESPN Insiders
Lotus and Malaysian A1 team may mergeUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Mike Gascoyne has denied reports the new Lotus F1 team could merge with the Malaysian A1GP team.
The Malaysian Insider on Thursday cited a "source" as revealing that "deep discussions" between Lotus team officials Tony Fernandes and Gascoyne, and A1 team boss Jack Cunningham, took place recently at the Singapore grand prix.
But while confirming the meeting, Briton Gascoyne - the new Malaysian-owned team's technical director - denied the assumption the idea of a merger was discussed.
"I have met Jack Cunningham, but there have been no talks about his team playing a part in Lotus F1," he said.
10/15/09 (GMM) Malaysia's national A1GP team is reportedly in talks with the new Lotus F1 entry about collaborating in 2010.
The Malaysian Insider cites a "source" as revealing that "deep discussions" between Lotus team officials Tony Fernandes and Mike Gascoyne and A1 team boss Jack Cunningham took place recently at the Singapore grand prix.
"A1 Team Malaysia feels that the technological know-how and vast experience it has could be put to good use in helping out the Lotus F1 team," the source said.
RPM could use Ford engine this season Richard Petty Motorsports is exploring the option of using a Ford engine in at least one of its four cars before the end of the season, team co-owner Richard Petty said on Thursday. Petty, whose team will continue to use Dodge engines this weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway, said nothing can happen until the merger with Yates Racing is complete. He gave no timetable, saying only that "it's in the hands of lawyers." But Petty said switching at least one car to a Ford before the end of the season is the goal, if the transition can be worked out. He could not say whether #9-Kasey Kahne, who is in the championship Chase for the Sprint Cup, would be that driver. "Right now there are like 400 options," Petty said. "We don't know right now if we'll make the transition before the end of this season or do it all before the start of next season." ESPN
Refueling ban could bring more pit-stops Paddy Lowe disagrees with the idea that a ban on mid-race refueling will create dull races next year. The McLaren Engineering Director holds the opinion that, due to the unknown affects of heavy fuel loads on Bridgestone's current tires, drivers may still make several pit-stops during Grands Prix. For the 2005 season only, Formula One saw tire changes banned during races, meaning drivers were often forced to nurse home cars with some exciting finishes as a result; next season, half a decade on, pit-stops will be the opposite of Fernando Alonso's first title-winning season as refueling is banned during races.
"It's a very big change actually and one that's taken an awful lot of effort from all the team to manage, whether that's from the literal design of the fuel tank in the car through to the crashworthiness of the car, through to the strategy," Lowe explained to the official F1 website.
(GMM) After Max Mosley publicly voiced his support for FIA presidential candidate Jean Todt, the neutrality of F1's governing body has now been further called into doubt.
The Paris based federation will next Friday stage a democratic election to name Mosley's successor as FIA president, with 1981 world rally champion Ari Vatanen also standing for office.
But according to the Daily Telegraph in Britain, Mosley is not the only high ranking FIA incumbent who is pushing for former Ferrari boss Todt to be elected.
The newspaper has published excerpts of leaked emails showing that FIA director general Peter Doggwiler, and FIA Foundation director general David Ward, have been actively lobbying on the Frenchman's behalf.
TRG to Dodge? TRG talking to Dodge: Ralph Gilles, just promoted from the designer ranks to head up Dodge and Dodge motorsports, faces a 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup racing season with only three Dodge teams, all owned by Roger Penske Dodge spent much of 2009 developing a new engine, and the company needs at least one or two more teams for 2010 to give the brand some additional presence and help amortize that powertrain investment . Kevin Buckler, who happens to own a NASCAR team, is the head of TRG, or The Racers Group. Buckler made his name fielding sports cars, including three Porsches in the Grand-Am Rolex Series' season-ending Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway last weekend.
But while he sat on the pit box in Homestead, he was on the phone constantly to California, where his #71 Chevy was getting ready to race in the Pepsi 500 at California Speedway. A team that didn't really exist until a few weeks before the 2009 Daytona 500, Buckler and TRG have qualified for 29 of 30 NASCAR races this year, using a list of best-available drivers including David Gilliland, Mike Bliss and--for seven races, including the final four of this season--Bobby Labonte. Labonte has run several races for TRG and likes what he sees, especially being teamed with veteran crew chief Slugger Labbe.
Buckler acquired most of his cars and equipment from Richard Childress, and consequently is a Chevrolet team by default. "But Chevrolet just gives us sheet metal and some technical help and gives Childress some consideration for our engine program, but it isn't what we need. Especially if we are going to take this to the next level." Enter Dodge? "I'm very much interested in talking to them," Buckler said. In fact, he has had a few conversations with Penske--they see each other a lot at both Grand-Am and NASCAR races--about Dodge. "I think it would be a great fit," said Buckler, who would like to expand to a two-car team as soon as he can. "You look at how much we've done this season with so little, and I think it shows we have a lot to offer."
So, Dodge, interested in Buckler? "Absolutely," said a Dodge spokesman, a veteran of the NASCAR wars. "I think we'd be crazy not to consider what he could bring to the party, especially if he could bring Bobby Labonte for the full season." And that, Buckler said, is a strong possibility. Buckler has been running the team on a shoestring, assembling a sponsor here, a sponsor there, and "starting-and-parking" to pocket money when none could be found. Bringing Labonte on full-time for 2010, as a semi-factory Dodge team, could go a long way toward signing some of the sponsors Buckler has been courting. The team sits 37th in owners' points, just two spots behind 35th, which would guarantee it a starting spot at the 2010 Daytona 500 and the four following races. Plus, Labonte's "past champion" provisional starting spots--he was the 2000 champ--would appeal to a sponsor, too. Autoweek
Brawn will remain Mercedes-powered in 2010 (GMM) The unofficial news is well known in F1 circles, but a source at championship leading Brawn GP now insists that the team will definitely be Mercedes powered in 2010.
Publicly, team chiefs including owner and boss Ross Brawn have stated only their desire to continue to be associated with the German marque, who stepped in at the eleventh hour last year with a customer supply of 2.4 liter V8s.
Since then, Brawn has driven into pole position to win both 2009 titles, sparking rumors that Mercedes wants to step back from its works arrangement with McLaren in order to buy into the Brackley based outfit.
NASCAR’s truck series nearing its end?UPDATE #3 This hot news article is more evidence the NASCAR Truck Series has seen its better days.
06/28/09 During an interview on SPEEDtv's NCTWS setup program, NASCAR VP Steve O'Donnell said the state of the series is "really strong." [As they race week after week in front of near empty grandstands.] O'Donnell stated that NASCAR officials met with team owners earlier this year to help out the racing with some rule changes, they have been working with the teams, and that the series puts on the "best racing". When asked about double-file restarts, O'Donnell said that the series has two weeks off following Memphis, and that NASCAR will continue to look at it.
06/27/09 Promoter Bruton Smith and NASCAR president Mike Helton are reported to be meeting Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway over the uncertain future of NASCAR's Truck series, with increasing speculation that the tour – 25 races this season, on 16 Sprint Cup tour tracks and seven other tracks – will be severely cut next season. Indeed even the survival of the Truck series, which was created in 1995 by the late Bill France Jr. as a budget-priced 'proving ground' for new car owners, new sponsors and new drivers, has been questioned. General Motors, Ford and Dodge have all withdrawn financial support of the Truck tour and the Nationwide tour, leaving only Toyota officially involved. Toyota officials have reportedly decided to drop their financial support too, though Toyota racing boss Lee White insists no decision has been made. One suggestion to help save the Truck series has been for the four NASCAR car makers to work together to design an inexpensive 'spec' Truck engine, to cut costs. Another suggestion has been a 'common' engine for all three NASCAR touring series. mikemulhern.net
06/12/09 The Camping World Truck Series offers up some of the best competition in all of NASCAR. Unfortunately, the series is almost surely approaching its end.
The truck races have become one of my favorite parts of the racing weekend. For the most part, the drivers are real racers who drive hard and love what they do. Most of these drivers are older guys who have found a home in this series after being rejected in the higher levels of the sport because they did not fit a mold desired by modern day owners and sponsors.
Ron Hornaday, Mike Skinner, Johnny Benson, Todd Bodine, Dennis Setzer and Rick Crawford are among the gritty competitors who form the backbone of this series.
Regrettably, the reality of the times is in the process of setting in for this division of NASCAR racing. A bad economy is robbing the series of needed sponsors, manufacturers’ support and fan attendance.
On Thursday, General Motors announced it intends to scale back its support of both the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series.
This comes as one of a series of blows that threaten to knock the division of its feet.
In the most recent truck race in Texas, only 33 machines started the race. Of those 33, nine dropped out after 26 laps or less for reasons such as overheating, handling, too slow or ignition. So in reality, there were only 24 teams racing for the win. The series normally starts fields of 36 trucks. RacingWithRich.com
Rumor - Renault set to race new car livery? (GMM) Renault could be set to race a dramatically altered livery at the last two grands prix of the 2009 season.
With title sponsor ING departing in the wake of the crash-gate scandal, the French squad is currently using only a slightly altered version of its original yellow, orange, white and red livery for the R29.
F1 rules dictate that liveries must remain essentially the same throughout the complete season, but a major change would be permitted with the unanimous support of all other competing teams.
It is rumored that a possible new livery for the final Brazil and Abu Dhabi rounds could be Renault's traditional yellow and black, as seen - but not raced - on a modern F1 car when the marque was celebrating 30 years on the grid in 2007.
Hinting at Renault's desire for a livery change are the color modifications to other areas of the team since ING's withdrawal. For example, the prominent orange - synonymous with the departed Dutch bank - has been removed from the base design of the drivers' suits.
It is also believed the plain team clothing used at Suzuka last weekend was a mere temporary solution ahead of a wholesale re-think for the last two races of 2009.
Scotland GP within 10 years (GMM) Talks about Scotland joining an F1 calendar of the future are taking place and could result in Glasgow hosting a grand prix within ten years, according to Paul Morrison.
The Scot is the promoter of the new music concerts meets grand prix racing concept 'F1 Rocks', and he has told the Daily Record newspaper that he is now trying to convince Bernie Ecclestone of his plans for a Scottish GP.
"I'm speaking to Bernie about it," Morrison confirmed, although admitting that the government is unlikely to offer any state support.
"We have the roads for it. Next year is when it gets fun because Mr. Ecclestone is serious about adding new countries.
"Just because it hasn't happened before it does not wash with me that it can't happen. That is why we will see a formula one race in Scotland in the future, certainly within the decade," he added.
Morrison, whose company All The Worlds has signed a deal with Universal Music, said there will be around six F1 Rocks concerts in 2010.
Harvick's days at RCR numbered In an interview with ESPN’s Marty Smith that will air during Sunday’s “NASCAR Countdown” prerace show on ABC, driver Kevin Harvick hints his career at Richard Childress Racing could be over when his current contract expires in 2010.
During the six-minute interview conducted at Harvick’s home in Kernersville, N.C., the driver discusses his frustrating 2009 Cup season, along with the persistent rumors that he had sought an early release from his contract. Harvick acknowledged that he and team owner Richard Childress have had such a conversation, but Harvick said they agreed “it would not be in the best interest for all involved.”
Blickensderfer to stay on with Kenseth Matt Kenseth's crew chief Drew Blickensderfer is expecting to have the new Ford FR9 engine in the #17 Fusion in two weeks at Talladega. On a related note: Blickensderfer expects to return as crew chief next season even though Kenseth failed to make the Chase for the first time since the format was introduced six years ago. FoxSports
Grand-Am date set for Indy? IndyCar insteadUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' Scrap that NASCAR-Grand-Am double-header at the Brickyard next summer. NASCAR's Grand-Am series finally released its 2010 tour schedule, and on the Sprint Cup's Brickyard 400 weekend – July 25th is race day – the sports car series will be idle.
NASCAR president Mike Helton had indicated three weeks ago, just after a Grand-Am test around Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Formula One course, that a Cup-Grand-Am double-header at Indy was possible.
Indianapolis spent millions of dollars on that F1 course, but since the F1 contract ran out, that course has only been used for a motorcycle event. So when NASCAR sent a number of Grand-Am cars up to Indianapolis for an early September test, obviously the question was about a possible Grand-Am race there.
Why it didn't come off isn't clear.....to some. What is clear to AR1.com is that someone in the Hulman-George family finally woke up one morning and realized how foolish they would be to run a Grand-AM race at IMS on the road course when in fact a 2nd IndyCar race at IMS (on the road course) makes far more sense. It would be a huge hit and the 2nd biggest IndyCar race on the schedule.
09/09/09 Following the test last week, and according to AutoRacing1.com sources, a tentative agreement is in place for the Grand-Am series to run at the Indy Motor Speedway on the road course each Saturday, the day before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Allstate 400 race, which is run on Sunday. Look for a good number of NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers to participate.
In a related rumor, look for Grand-Am to run at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama next year with the IRL as the France family extends their claws into the Hulman and George business ahead of an eventual rumored buyout in 2013 if the IRL is not profitable by then.
Danica Patrick Refuses to Confirm She Has IndyCar ContractUPDATE #3 We already made this rumor 'fact' last week based on our sources. But after finishing 19th in Saturday's IRL-season-ending Indy 300, Patrick said, "We know what we need to do, and we'll be ready for next year."
10/03/09 According to AR1.com sources, indeed Patrick is signed, sealed and delivered to stay with the AGR team in IndyCar and they will help her get a part-time NASCAR deal as well. We await the announcement.
10/01/09 ** Patrick and her agent, Alan Zucker of IMG, continue to work on finalizing a contract with IndyCar Series team owner Michael Andretti. That the contract has not been officially announced is no cause for concern.
** That the contract has not been officially announced is not an indication that there is cause for concern. She admitted that sponsorship wishes are one reason why it will be announced at a proper time and place to get maximum benefit from the announcement, which will likely occur after the season concludes at Miami-Homestead Speedway on October 10.
** That Patrick met with Stewart to basically get advance and information on the proper way to get starting in either NASCAR Nationwide Series, Camping World Truck Series or ARCA races, similar to what three-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish, Jr. did in 2007 before joining the Sprint Cup Series as a rookie in 2008. Stewart also drove in what was then the Busch Series in 1998 before moving up to Cup in 1999. Stewart confirmed that meeting to reporters at Atlanta on Labor Day Weekend but also told another reporter at Eldora Speedway last week that he was just “having some fun with the media.”
Sato to get first IndyCar startUPDATE Obviously this rumor is 'false' and Sato is trying to find a way to stay in f1 with one of the new teams.
"America is one of the big options for me to move on, but until everything is closed in F1 I just don't want to say the things I want to do outside of F1," said Sato.
08/27/09 Looks like Takuma Sato will make his IndyCar debut at Homestead in a second car for Luczo/Dragon. The ex-Formula One shoe is hoping to be part of Gil de Ferran's new IndyCar effort in 2010. SPEEDTV.com
Possible 2 new IndyCar teams for 2010UPDATE Newly Incubated Indy Team 2010 - sponsorships now available
Newly formed Indy Team incubated from the league to provide market value for sponsors and development of drivers and chassis is now open for sponsorships. This will be a spotlighted team including a reality program and more.
Unique inside track opportunities, and team naming for your group with exclusive marketing rights
This team will feature a named race event, official product and highlighted in the press and media programming. 5 to 1 ROI is a minimum of anticipated return.
For information on how to participate in this great program please contact Steve at motivracing.com
10/09/09 We spoke to a former Atlantic team owner today in Homestead who thinks he is on target to field an IndyCar team in 2010 and the driver will not need to bring money. Sworn to secrecy, we will reveal more when we can. - -Scott Morris reporting from Homestead
Danica asking for $8 million?UPDATE Forget Danica Patrick making $1 million a race if and when she begins driving in NASCAR's Nationwide Series in 2010. She likely won't make $100,000. The IndyCar Series darling in all likelihood will make around $50,000 a race. Sources close to the situation confirmed to ESPN.com that the rumored/reported $8 million Patrick would make for running about eight Nationwide events was completely false. ESPN Insider
10/09/09 Is Danica Patrick asking for $8 million to run eight Nationwide Series races in 2010? The simple answer: Nobody has confirmed that to ESPN.com. If that is the case, unless GoDaddy.com or another sponsor is willing to step up to the plate at a time when most sponsors are stepping away, the IndyCar Series star may have a tough time finalizing a deal. There are teams that run an entire Nationwide schedule on $8 million. More at ESPN Insider (FOX Video report)
Two sports car teams to bite the dust Fernandez Racing, which at its zenith employed 52 people for two IndyCar and one American Le Mans Series program, will participate in its final race this weekend as the ALMS concludes its season in Monterey, Calif.
The team will release the last of its 19 employees Oct. 31 because of a lack of sponsorship. The shop, owned by team co-owner Tom Anderson and his wife, Cheryl, will be leased "with or without the equipment."
"We shook the trees pretty hard for eight months, but we haven't sold anything," Anderson said.
The season-ending Grand Am Series race in Homestead also could have a farewell as Penske Racing is expected to convert its sports car program to an IndyCar operation for Will Power. Indy Star
Abu Dhabi GP to be seen in HD?UPDATE Note: the IndyCar Series has had HD on-board cameras that pan 360 degrees since the start of the 2008 season.
10/09/09 The season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix could be the first ever to be broadcast in High Definition, F1 Racing magazine reports. The ultra-high quality television pictures have long since been proposed by Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone and could now be a reality full-time in 2010.With Formula One's world feed having been broadcast in 16:9 widescreen format since 2007, Formula One Management (FOM) is now set to go one step further by introducing HD for the dust-night race in Abu Dhabi as a trial ahead of next season, when the format could be a permanent fixture.
"We are getting close because I have asked all of our broadcasters and about 50 percent of them have said yes," Ecclestone told the magazine, with the United Kingdom's BBC being one of the broadcasters in favor of HD transmission.
It has also been reported that HD can now be integrated into the miniscule on-board car cameras, an issue which FOM has been attempting to solve.
Federal rules could affect NASCAR endorsements When Carl Edwards broke his foot playing Frisbee last month there were jokes about how fortunate he was to be sponsored by AFLAC, which sells disability insurance. Edwards even made reference to the obvious irony and talked about filing a claim and getting a check. NASCAR fans are so used to drivers hawking their sponsors' products - and dropping the sponsor's name in every TV interview - that they rarely think twice about it. That's what drivers do when they aren't driving. But pretty soon drivers might have to do something else if they find themselves endorsing a sponsor's product. They might have to disclose that the sponsor is paying them to do it. The Federal Trade Commission this week issued new guidelines for those who endorse products. There is a new requirement that endorsers - whether it's a lowly blogger or a high-profile actor or athlete - must say if they are being paid by that company. So, how would this affect NASCAR, the most blatantly commercial sport around? Depends on the context. So says David Zetoony, an attorney specializing in consumer product-liability cases with the firm Bryan Cave. For instance, when Edwards does a commercial for AFLAC, it is understood by not only NASCAR fans, but also by the public at large that he's being paid to do so or that it's part of his obligation to his sponsor. And when he gives an interview standing in front of his AFLAC Ford, wearing his AFLAC driver suit and says something like "the #99 AFLAC Ford Fusion was awfully fast today," he's also in the clear. That's considered product placement, Zetoony said, and it won't get a driver in hot water with the FTC. What will cause trouble is when an athlete takes it a step further and endorses a product. But again, context is important. So if Tony Stewart gives a TV interview and is asked to name his favorite hamburger and he says "I never eat anything but flame-broiled Burger King Whoppers," he'd be required to disclose his relationship to BK. If he said, "I never eat anything but those juicy Whoppers my sponsor Burger King makes," he'd be OK. Confused? You aren't alone. It's going to take time and probably litigation to sort out where the lines will be drawn. Alabama Live
Williams eyes BMW-Sauber sponsor Petronas (GMM) Williams is reportedly opposed to BMW-Sauber receiving a guaranteed 14th team entry for 2010 because it wants to secure the Swiss outfit's major long-term Malaysian sponsor Petronas.
Team chief Sir Frank Williams has said publicly that he opposes the expansion of the grid from 26 to 28 cars because the latter is too high a number, while not enough is known about BMW-Sauber's new mysterious owners Qadbak.
But Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said the Grove based team's resistance is actually about money, with the Malaysian oil company Petronas wanting to stay in formula one beyond 2009.
Interestingly, the German magazine said Petronas would prefer to stay with BMW-Sauber rather than switch to the new Malaysian-owned Lotus team.
Should BMW-Sauber drop off the grid, Williams would therefore be near the top of the list for Petronas as an established and reliable team with an affordable sponsorship rate card.
(GMM) Norbert Haug has played down reports that Mercedes-Benz could play a spoiling role in Red Bull's efforts to beat Brawn to the 2009 world championships.
The German engine maker supplies not only championship leaders Brawn GP with 2.4 liter V8 power plants, but also the increasingly-competitive works team McLaren.
"Is there a Mercedes pact against (Sebastian) Vettel?" wonders the tabloid newspaper Bild.
Mercedes' competition chief Haug replied: "Absolutely not. Everyone drives their own races, just as before."
However, Red Bull has confirmed that Mark Webber will now fall in line to support his teammate Vettel in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, while Jenson Button cannot similarly rely on his teammate and title rival Rubens Barrichello's help.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Bild: "We hope that everything that happens is done correctly."
It should be noted that, at present, there is no love lost between Mercedes stalemates McLaren and Brawn, as the latter looks set to take over from McLaren as the German marque's preferred team.
Moreover, Red Bull looks likely to switch from Renault to Mercedes power for the 2010 season.
No new Dodge teams in 2010? Despite the announcement this week of Dodge's continued commitment to NASCAR in the wake of a managerial shake-up, don't look for any additional Chrysler teams in the 2010 Sprint Cup lineup. New president and CEO Ralph Gilles intends to continue the manufacturer's support in the sport but only Penske Racing's three #2, #12, #77 Dodge entries are expected to be on the grid next year. CBS Sports [Editor's Note: Only 3 cars? Then why bother. Pathetic]
F1 wheel covers to be banned in 2010 (GMM) F1 teams have agreed to ban wheel fairings for the 2010 season, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
We reported earlier this year that the devices, having first emerged last year, were likely to be banned for 2010 because they make it even harder for following cars to overtake.
Williams' technical chief Sam Michael said in July that studies have shown that the covers have "quite an adverse effect on the following car".
However, the Australian warned that banning the covers will not be a silver bullet.
"It is the sort of thing where you need to find three or four little things like that and that will add up to a difference," Michael added, "so I think it is going in the right direction but it just needs more."
Grosjean out, di Grassi in for Brazil GP (GMM) Renault could be set to make an immediate change to its driver lineup ahead of next weekend's Brazilian grand prix.
The authoritative German publication Auto Motor und Sport reports that Lucas di Grassi, the team's reserve driver and a native Paulista, might replace the struggling Romain Grosjean for the Interlagos round.
The French-Swiss rookie Grosjean has struggled notably at Renault after replacing the sacked Nelson Piquet five races ago.
Auto Motor und Sport believes the departure of his manager Flavio Briatore has left the 23-year-old exposed to the team management's concerns that Grosjean might not be the best option to be Robert Kubica's full-time teammate in 2010.
Di Grassi, 25, finished third in this year's main GP2 series.
Tony George done in by Madoff? From this SPEEDTV.com Q&A:
Q: So Tony George bet the farm on the IRL back in 1996. Now it has been noted that Tony George is selling his Indianapolis estate. Is he planning on funding Vision Racing with the proceeds from the sale next year? Maybe live in an RV at the track like Little Al did for many years? Sounds like Mom and the Sisters not only took away Tony's hammer, they also cut his allowance so much that maybe he can't afford his mortgage nut anymore?
Andrew Miller, San Antonio, TX
RM: We've been hearing for months how Tony lost millions to Bernie Madoff and he's leveraged to the hilt but nobody knows whether he's in financial trouble except his family and probably Jeff Belskus. Obviously, not controlling the checkbook is impacting his racing team and, unless John Menard steps up, Vision Racing could be gone or maybe just run the ovals in 2010. But hopefully Menard's will keep him on the track.
'Regular Season' Award being considered Jim Hunter, Vice President of Communications for NASCAR was interviewed today on the 'Bubba The Love Sponge Show'. Hunter spoke about the possibility of awarding the 'regular season' champion an award of some sort. Currently, NASCAR does not award points, money, or a trophy to the regular season champ. 'Bubba the Love Sponge' asked Hunter about the lack of recognition for the regular season champ and Hunter said NASCAR is looking in to it. Hunter's did acknowledge that in recent weeks NASCAR has talked about a regular season award of some sort but they have not decided on what that award should be. Hunter said, "That's something we are looking at doing for next year, we just haven't decided what it will be." Captain Thunder
Trulli to NASCARUPDATE Michael Waltrip Racing will test Jarno Trulli and Mika Salo at International Speedway in Lakeland, Fl., the week prior to the NASCAR season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway. Trulli, 35, currently drives for Toyota in Formula One. He finished second last week in the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka and is currently eighth in the World Championship. Trulli's sole F1 win came at the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix in 2004 while driving for Renault. After Trulli completes the F1 season on November 1 at Abu Dhabi, he will be fitted for his seat at MWR then join the organization to observe for the final three races. Trulli dropped in at Michigan Speedway last June to watch the Sprint Cup race. With the current uncertainty surrounding Toyota's future in F1, it appears that Trulli is considering stock cars as a viable option. Salo, 42, competed in F1 from 1994 to 2002 and posted two podium finishes. In 2007, Salo won the GT2 class of the American Le Mans Series. He currently competes for a team that MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman has an interest in Europe. FoxSports
10/07/09 With Toyota looking to replace both its F1 drivers the latest hot rumor AR1 hears is that Toyota will test Italian Jarno Trulli with their Toyota Michael Waltrip NASCAR team with an eye to possibly running the last three races of the year after the F1 finale in Abu Dhabi. Trulli is headed for a seat fitting.
Kubica close to Renault seatUPDATE #4 See this Hot News article for final confirmation of Kubica to Renault.
10/06/09 (GMM) Robert Kubica is set to move to Renault to replace the Ferrari bound Fernando Alonso in 2010, according to the French daily Le Figaro.
The Enstone based team has announced it will reveal the identity of Alonso's replacement this week, and at Suzuka last weekend acting boss Bob Bell confirmed Renault's interest in the 24-year-old Pole.
We have reported that a press release will be issued either on Tuesday or Wednesday.
At the time of the publication of the Le Figaro report, the newspaper said the last obstacle to Kubica's deal was the confirmation of his existing team BMW-Sauber.
It is understood Kubica had a contract to remain with the Hinwil based team next year, but that the German carmaker BMW's withdrawal as owner may have rendered it void.
Asked if he is legally entitled to leave Sauber, he told reporters in Japan last week: "If I was not free I wouldn't be talking with other teams."
10/05/09 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' - according to this article and this article, Kubica is confirmed at Renault.
10/03/09 (GMM) Robert Kubica on Saturday appeared to express concerns about moving to the Renault or Toyota teams in 2010.
During Friday's FIA press conference, both outfits confirmed their interest in the 24-year-old Pole, who is reluctant to stay at Sauber for next year in the wake of BMW's withdrawal as owner.
Toyota's commitment to F1 is the subject of intense speculation, and the same could also be said of Renault, particularly in the wake of the harmful 'crash-gate' scandal.
"The future of the team (for 2010) is a big factor and big influence on my decision," Kubica told reporters at Suzuka.
"I would not like to be in the same situation I'm in with BMW-Sauber -- that in the middle of the season the company is announcing it's retiring from formula one.
"I do not want to be in this position (again)," Kubica added.
Toyota team president John Howett admitted in Japan that he is chasing Kubica's services for 2010 despite not yet knowing the size of the 2010 budget that must be approved by the carmaker's executive committee next month.
But the Briton said it is still possible to be negotiating over high salaries with top drivers like Kubica.
"The budget is going to be roughly the size it is currently, and you can reduce other areas. If you buy a cheaper driver, you can deploy that in other areas. I think (it's) a very simple equation for us," he explained.
10/01/09 Kubica came into the current campaign with high hopes of building on last season's progress, where he recorded his first Formula One victory but ultimately saw his title aspirations fade away as the team decided to focus on developing a car capable of challenging for this year's Championship.
That has proved a disastrous decision with BMW Sauber collecting just 21 points from 14 races and the German manufacturer announcing they are pulling out of the sport at the end of the season.
Massa to return for last raceUPDATE (GMM) A Ferrari spokesman has denied reports an actual date has been set for Felipe Massa's test in the two-year-old F2007.
In a statement of support, Sir Frank Williams let slip that the Suzuka stewards last weekend approved the Fiorano run for October 12.
But a spokesman for the famous Maranello based team said: "It is possible Felipe will drive an F1 car in the coming days, but it's not been decided exactly when."
Massa's test, also to be conducted on GP2 rubber so as not to breach F1's in-season testing ban, will mark his return to formula one machinery since his horror crash during Hungaroring qualifying in July.
(GMM) The British team Williams on Tuesday made clear it supports Felipe Massa's forthcoming test in a two-year old formula one Ferrari car.
Earlier this year, Sir Frank Williams objected to allowing Michael Schumacher a run in Ferrari's current F60 racer.
Last weekend at Suzuka, the stewards said Massa, 28, may test the F2007 at Fiorano, and in a media statement Williams indicated that the session will take place next Monday.
"I would like to wish Felipe well with his return to a formula one car next week," said Williams.
Eleven weeks after his Budapest qualifying crash, Massa is currently at Ferrari's Italian headquarters for simulator tests, and in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport he hinted that a return at the Abu Dhabi season finale has not been completely ruled out.
"I have a great desire to get back to racing, but I need to wait for the right moment, when I am completely fit again," he said.
Massa added that trying to return for his home race at Interlagos next weekend would be "too close to the limit".
Danica also talking with Waltrip for a NASCAR ride Add Michael Waltrip Racing to the list of NASCAR suitors for IndyCar Series star Danica Patrick for 2010. Team owner Michael Waltrip said on Tuesday he's met with Patrick and given her a tour of the team facility. He is willing to put her in limited number of races in the Nationwide and Truck Series, "whatever she wants,'' he said. "We've certainly talked to her and are interested in what she's going to do,'' Waltrip said. "We have sort of done that without a whole lot of people knowing. She knows we're interested when she knows what she's going to do." Waltrip doesn't believe the rivalry between Japanese car manufacturers will be a stumbling block. Patrick drives a Honda in the IndyCar Series; Waltrip's team fields Toyotas. "There's not a Honda over here [in NASCAR], so she's going to drive something besides that,'' he said. ESPN.com
(GMM) Nelson Piquet Jr looks set to turn to the world of American NASCAR racing to revive his disgraced motor racing career.
The 23-year-old Brazilian, fired by Renault for underperformance earlier this season and then embroiled in the crash-gate race-fixing scandal, has travelled to the US this weekend, according to Brazil's Globo television.
Piquet is headed to Mooresville, North Carolina, where he will reportedly have a seat fitting for the Red Horse team's Toyota Tundra racer. The outfit competes in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series.
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