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Tony George to bankroll another IRL team According to this SPEED TV article, Playa Del Racing is taking over Tom Kelley's shop and some of his assets to go IRL racing in 2005 and will be sponsored by DHL Worldwide Express. But Tony George also figures to be playing a big role in this team, co-owned by Gary Salee and David Morgan. Ed Carpenter, the stepson of George and an IRL rookie this past season, and Arie Luyendyk Jr., son of the two-time Indy 500 winner, are expected to be announced as drivers for a team that is obviously going to get some major financial help from the IRL founder and most likely Toyota.
Eddie Cheever and GM trying to buy CosworthUPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' with news Kalkhoven is buying Cosworth. 10/07/04 Rumor has it that Stefan Johansson is behind the possible Chinese bid and he was in Shanghai for the recent Grand Prix, we assume for meetings. Mark C.10/07/04 There is talk that Flavio Briatore could be involved in as many as three separate bids to secure ownership of Cosworth Racing. We understand that at present there are four bids in for the engine builder. One is said to be led by Briatore, while another involves Mecachrome, the former Renault engine builders with whom the Italian has already had a business relationship. Then there is another bid, which supposedly links Briatore, Eddie Cheever and General Motors. Finally, could there be any truth in the rumor that a Chinese consortium was on the verge of purchasing both Jaguar Racing and Cosworth? We hear that all that stood in the way of the deal being concluded, was an official 'blessing' from Ford, but when this wasn't given the consortium walked. Pitpass.com [Editor's Note: Assuming there's some truth to this rumor, if Champ Car hater Eddie Cheever were to be successful in his bid to buy Cosworth, will Champ Car be forced to look elsewhere to have someone service their existing Cosworth engines? Yes, Champ Car owns the engines, but to have someone other than Cosworth service them could be problematic.]
Vancouver race looking doubtfulUPDATE We are bumping this rumor up to 'strong.' Robin Miller is reporting in this SPEED TV article that Vancouver won't happen either. He is also reporting that the Laguna Seca and Road America races are dead as well. Road America was a given, but we were under the impression Laguna Seca thought they were keeping their date. We can never figure out why given the poor attendance the last three years. He's reporting a race in Seoul, whereas we hear Ansan, a suburb of Seoul instead. He makes no mention of China, Brazil, and the Middle East, all of which have been rumored. 10/27/04 Late word is that the Champ Car race in Vancouver may not happen after all in 2005. 2005 was thought to be the last year for the event, but with so many new rumored venues coming aboard there simply is no room on the 2005 schedule and something had to give. Since Vancouver's future was doomed anyway, perhaps it was decided to seal their fate earlier. Just a rumor right now, but our sources are good.
McGee to take role with PKV RacingUPDATE #2 Top Champ Car chief mechanic Jim McGee is being courted by Kevin Kalkhoven to manage his PKV Racing Champ Car operation. “I like [Jimmy] Vasser and Kalkhoven and if I can get the right driver to complement Jimmy and be competitive then I’d be interested,” said McGee, who guided Nigel Mansell to the 1993 CART title with Newman-Haas Racing. Autosport Magazine10/24/04 We are bumping this rumor up to 'strong' today. According to this SPEED TV article, Those in the know also suggest that PKV Racing is in for a major shake-up, one that will see Jim McGee assume the reins as team manager. McGee is the winningest team manager/crew chief in Champ Car history and most recently oversaw Newman/Haas’ Indy Racing League effort with Bruno Junqueira at Indianapolis 500 in May. Prior to that, McGee spent the past several years working as general manager at Patrick Racing, including a stint when PKV co-owner/driver Jimmy Vasser piloted the team’s car, a fact that gives further credence to the rumors that McGee will be joining the underperforming team in ‘05. 10/11/04 CEO Dick Eidswick was seen dining in Indianapolis with legendary team manager Jim McGee, who is expected to take a management position with Kevin Kalkhoven's PKV Racing organization. McGee was reportedly also asked to provide Champ Car with an independent analysis of the officiating fiasco at Las Vegas that saw the field run 12 slow laps behind the Pace Car while stewards tried to figure out who should be running where. Many observers predict there will be major changes in Champ Car's race operations for 2005. ESPN.com
New IRL team to be announcedUPDATE #3 New IRL IndyCar team Playa Del Racing, which will operate out of Kelley Racing’s shop, has gained DHL Worldwide Express as its title sponsor. According to co-owner Gary Sallee, who was involved with Eddie Cheever in the late ’90s, Playa Del could run two cars including one for series veteran and ex-champion Scott Sharp, who has one year left with Delphi backing. Autosport Magazine10/17/04 This Indy Star article says, Assuming contracts are signed, [Tom] Kelley will sell his assets to a five-person group known as Playa Del Racing, which means "Beach Racing." Among the officials is Gary Sallee, formerly of ISM Racing, which co-founded Team Cheever. Jeff Ward and Steve Knapp won Rookie of the Year awards at the Indianapolis 500 with Sallee in 1997 and 1998. Playa Del has a sponsorship program in place, although Sallee wouldn't confirm it Saturday. The company is DHL Worldwide Express, a delivery company that competes with Federal Express and UPS. [Editor's Note: This is the latest in a long string of original IRL teams to be driven out of business when the mighty CART teams took over the IRL.] 10/16/04 Rumor has it that this new team will purchase the assets of Kelley Racing. Playa Del Racing is headed by former IRL team owner Gary Sallee, previously with ISM Racing, with sponsorship coming from a well-known package freight company. Gary Sallee, President of ISM Holding, has been practicing general business law in Indianapolis, Indiana since 1981. His law practice has focused on sports and entertainment management as well as commercial real estate development. In 1993, Mr. Sallee together with Mr. Hancher formed International Sports Management. Mr. Sallee is an NFLPA contract advisor and has represented players in the NFL; USFL, CFL, NHL and other team based sports. During the early 80's He was also a member of the Board of Advisors of the Indianapolis Checkers IHL Hockey Team. Mr. Sallee has represented many personalities from the entertainment world including record companies, a recording studio, promoters and sponsors. He has also been involved in the organizing of special events such as the closing ceremonies for the Pan American games and the National Sports Festival, hosted by the city of Indianapolis. Mr. Sallee has also been involved with various charitable organizations such as the Hemophilia Foundation of Indiana where he served on the Board of Directors for more than ten years and as President has for five years. He recently served as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Hemophilia Foundation. 10/16/04 Look for a new 2-car IRL team to be announced soon - Playa Del Racing. If you visit their website you will find an IRL logo and this - Life at the beach is fun, relaxing and inviting. Experiences at the racetrack, and relationships with race teams should be the same. It is with that higher purpose that we set upon our task of bringing the spirit of the beach to the Indy Racing League. We want our fans to feel that they can kick back and relax with our team and to enjoy a casual relationship with our sponsors.
We believe our team, our sponsors, and our fans will enjoy the relationships we develop as we compete in the Indy Racing League and as we gather at select locations around the country to enjoy the fun and the sun, to relax and enjoy our new friends and support the sponsors who believe in our fans and the Playa Del Racing Team.
Of course we understand that winning races is our primary goal, and there is no more fun than winning races, especially the Indy 500. Our team is made up of seasoned professionals with decades of experience in Indy Car racing, many of whom proudly wear championship rings from Indy, and most of whom have won at other venues. Most importantly, we all remember when it was fun to go to the racetrack. With Playa Del Racing, it will be fun again.
Bernie will replace F1 with Champ Car or GP2UPDATE This Grandprix.com article speculates that if the GPWC breaks away with their own series, Bernie could start his own series but he may be too old to do so. What the author doesn't consider is the fact that company already exists. It is called Champ Car and if Bernie buys into it, a simple name change to F1 solves the problem and Bernie is back in business with a lock on the name, the TV and most of the tracks. With all the recent rumors of Champ Car going to F1 venues (Silverstone, Bahrain, Interlagos, Montreal, and Shanghai) one has to wonder what is Bernie up to? 10/26/04 The major car manufacturers involved in Formula 1 have taken another step forward in their plans to set up a rival grand prix series (GPWC). They have signed up a major sports marketing firm to make plans for its introduction by 2008. GPWC Holdings – the group formed by the major car manufacturers involved in Formula 1 – has hired International Sports and Entertainment AG with a brief to: “Start building immediately the operational and commercial structure for a new open-wheel motor racing series, to begin no later than 2008."
However, Bernie Ecclestone has been busy locking up all the tracks to long-term agreements. In addition he owns the F1 name and TV rights and rumor has it that if things ever got so bad such that GPWC did start a new series, Bernie would simply tell the manufacturers not to let the door hit their posterior on the way out and run Champ Cars in their place. Of course, if that happened, Champ Car would get a major shot in the arm and Bernie would see to it that their cars were not the current inferior things that they are. Adding fuel to this fire is the fact that Champ Car is becoming very international starting in 2005 and positioning itself to be an alternative to F1 (see related article). With a strong international following established by 2007, if GPWC starts their own series, Bernie will finally buy into Champ Car as has been long rumored, change the name to Formula 1 (F1), and carry on as if nothing happened. He will not only have all the F1 tracks locked up, by buying into Champ Car he will have all those tracks locked up too. Without the F1 name, the TV contract and the circuits, GPWC will be nowhere. While we believe the GPWC threat is nothing more than posturing on their part to gain more control of F1, and that a breakaway series will never materialize, should it happen, Bernie will be ready. Collectively, there simply isn't enough brainpower in the manufacturers to outsmart Bernie.
Singleton Champ Car bound (San Jose)UPDATE #3 We hear that Kalkhoven and company are indeed headed for San Jose tonight, supposedly for the big race announcement..... 10/26/04 As first reported in this rumor on AutoRacing1.com, this Toronto Sun article today says Singleton is bound for San Jose. As always, you read it here first. Excerpt from the Sun - Bob Singleton, who has run the Toronto Molson Indy for the past eight seasons, is taking his experience to California where he will be introduced today as the boss of the San Jose Grand Prix. It was reported in The Toronto Sun Friday that Singleton was being groomed to be the head of the Champ Car World Series Canadian operations with an office in Toronto. But Singleton has had ongoing talks with city officials and race promoters in San Jose -- which will hold its first Champ Car race in 2005 -- that associates said brought him to the conclusion the California job was the closest to his heart and closest to the one he left two weeks ago as vice-president of Molson Sports and Entertainment. With Singleton's decision to take the San Jose job, the plan to have a Canadian office for Champ Car is now apparently dead. When The Sun reached Singleton yesterday he was reluctant to confirm his new job because he didn't want to steal the thunder from a splashy announcement planned in San Jose this afternoon. 10/22/04 This Toronto Sun article speculates that Singleton will join Champ Car but manage the three or four Canadian races for them out of Toronto, whereas AutoRacing1.com sources tell us he is San Jose bound. Could he do both? Key excerpts - The Champ Car World Series is set to announce next week that it will open a Canadian base to be headed by former Toronto Molson Indy boss Bob Singleton, The Toronto Sun has learned. Singleton, who quit his job as general manager for Molstar Sports and Entertainment -- a wholly owned subsidiary of Molson Breweries -- a week ago, would not confirm what sources have told The Sun, but he did say his own plans would become clearer next Wednesday. That is the same date sources said that Champ Car will be making a major announcement about its Canadian races (AutoRacing1.com can confirm that a press conference has been scheduled for that day). "Some news will break by next Wednesday," Singleton said yesterday. "It will have something to do with open wheel racing in general and Champ Car in particular." When pressed by The Sun on where he would be setting up shop, Singleton would only admit that his new office would be in Toronto. "Depending on my clients, I could be spending a lot of time south of the border," he said......Singleton has been deeply involved in talks with Champ Car to renew Molson's deal to promote both the Toronto and Vancouver Molson Indy races as well as its sponsorship of the Molson Indy Montreal......While Singleton has been front and centre in trying to move that date to either Calgary or Edmonton, there is apparently less enthusiasm in Molson's front office for expansion of its Indy franchise to Alberta. Singleton, however, would not speculate on what plans Molson has in the race promotion business. "(Molstar) has a great team in place," Singleton said. "It was just time (for me to leave). It has been eight great years." News reports out of Edmonton have a Champ Car race there being promoted by someone other than Molson. There have been rumors that with a huge corporate shake-up coming as a result of its merger with Colorado-based Coors, Molson might want to reduce its role in Canadian racing. "I think Molson wants to hold on to Toronto, but things could change, "Singleton said. "I don't know. (Today) is my last day." 10/20/04 Word from our Canadian sources is that Bob Singleton, who stepped down from his role with Molstar and Champ Car's three Canadian races, will take up residence in San Jose and manage that new soon-to-be-announced Champ Car event. In announcing his resignation he said he wasn't done with racing. In fact, according to this Toronto Star article, he will also work as a consultant to the Canadian races, we assume at the request of Molstar and OWRS. He denied his decision had anything to do with Molson's decision regarding its auto racing future. "Nothing will change," he said. "Me leaving won't alter things one iota." He said he will remain involved in racing and serve as a consultant to Canadian Champ Car events.
Champ Car’s 2005 ScheduleUPDATE #6 This AutoWeek article claims the 2005 schedule will be announced this Friday October 29th. Original reports had it on the 28th. 10/26/04 "We got off to a slow start because of the effects of what happened after last year's bankruptcy," Kalkhoven told the Herald at Surfers Paradise at the weekend. "But since the season opener at Long Beach things have been continually developing. I can genuinely say it has turned out to be a very successful season - better than I could have hoped." Kalkhoven, who was born and raised in Adelaide, said the schedule for next year and details of a US TV network package would be announced in the next few days. "The ideal is to have 16 races, plus or minus one, which is good for the teams," he said, admitting that last year's schedule of 19 races was too hard financially on the competing teams. Australia Fairfax Digital10/25/04 AutoRacing1.com has learned that Thursday's planned 2005 schedule announcement from Indy has been postponed. No alternate date has been given. 10/23/04 A well-placed official at Champ Car has cautioned against expecting a fully-hatched 2005 schedule release next week on Oct. 28 as widely reported. The source of the delay is not clear, but with rumors of races in Buenos Aires, Argentina, San Jose, China and even Dubai -- and efforts under way to renew the series’ television partnership with CBS and SPEED Channel, anything is possible. Two things are clear however. Next week will see the announcement of a Champ Car street race in San Jose, Calif. -- expected to be on July 31-- and the Buenos Aires city council has scheduled a final vote to approve the proposed Champ Car race there on Monday. Rumors have the Buenos Aires race kicking-off the ’05 season on March 20. SPEED TV [Editor's Note: We think you will see a surprise announcement of a Brazil race the week following Buenos Aires] 10/20/04 Here is the latest scuttlebutt on the 2005 schedule. San Jose, CA is having a press release party Tuesday night in San Jose. Brazil is looking really good, Buenos Aires, South Korea, and China the same, all are coming to the last stages of negotiations. 10/19/04 There were reports that Champ Car would announce their 2005 schedule this Thursday from Australia where the series is staging one of its biggest races of the year. However, with all the recent rumors of new venues, we wonder if it will all come together in time. Mark C.10/16/04 This AutoWeek article talks about the 2005 Champ Car schedule but doesn't tell us anything we don't already know. AutoRacing1.com was privy to a preliminary 2005 schedule but never published it because all the contracts were not yet signed. Without giving you the cities, here are the dates that were reserved, though we suspect a few might change: March 20 April 10 May 1 (was on the schedule as Puerto Rico, but then dropped) May 22 June 4 June 19 June 26 July 10 July 24 July 31 August 14 August 28 Sept. 4 Sept. 18 Sept. 24 Oct. 16 Oct. 23 Nov. 6 If the May 1st date is not reinstated for 2005, there exists a big gap between the April 10th race (Long Beach) and the May 22nd race. If Champ Car returns to Europe in 2006, look for the two races to be inserted in this big gap in the schedule.
RCR to announce 2005 plans at AtlantaUPDATE An announcement on who will be the driver of the #31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet in 2005 will be made this Friday, Oct. 29, at 2:00pm/et in the infield media center of Atlanta Motor Speedway. RCR PR10/25/04 Richard Childress said he'll lay out most of his 2005 season plans on Friday in a press conference in Atlanta, and yesterday he declined to confirm - but wouldn't deny - widespread speculation that he would name Dave Blaney as his new driver, replacing Robby Gordon, and Jack Daniels as a new sponsor, replacing AOL. Childress also had little to say, either way, about rampant rumors he planned to swap crews among his teams. "All those announcements are in the coming," Childress said. Jack Daniels is owned by the Louisville, Ky., business Brown-Forman, which did $578 million in sales last year. Winston Salem Journal
Toronto renewed for 4 yearsUPDATE This Toronto Sun article says the 4-year Toronto Champ Car race extension will be announced this Friday as first reported here on AutoRacing1.com last week. 10/22/04 We are hearing that the planned press conference for Molson's 2005 and beyond Champ Car plans in Canada has been moved to next Friday, the day after Champ Car will announce their 2005 schedule and TV deal. We hear they will announce that Toronto has been renewed for 4 years and of course we will hear whether Calgary or Edmonton got the race in Alberta. We hear it will be one or the other, not both. Vancouver will be around at least one more year and Montreal has two years remaining on its contract.
Repsol Honda deal in works There are rumors in F1 circles that BAR is bidding for a major sponsorship deal with the Spanish oil company Repsol. The apparent intention is for the team to run Fernando Alonso as one of the drivers after his current contract with Renault runs out. This makes a great deal of sense and may tie in with other rumors which are currently circulating which are suggesting that British American Tobacco, the parent company of the team, is moving towards selling the team to Honda. Until recently Honda has consistently said it does not want to be a team owner, but attitudes are changing and being a team owner would give Honda more control over decision-making and would also give it more political clout in F1 circles. Honda would also be looking to protect its investment because once tobacco advertising is banned in F1, there is no point in BAT being involved (and shareholders will no doubt be pointing that out to the BAT board). Grandprix.com
Sinopec to replace Lucky Strike at BARUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today. Ferrari may have scuppered BAR's sponsor agreement with Chinese state petrochemical giant Sinopec, we can reveal. It was earlier reported that the oil company, already title sponsor of the inaugural Chinese grand prix at Shanghai, had 'almost certainly' tied up a deal - to start next year - with the Brackley-based F1 team. But it is now suggested that, given existing oil partner Shell's reported financial problems, world champion marque Ferrari opened a dialogue with Sinopec and may have put together a proposal for 2006 and beyond. ''Shell will be with us next year,'' a Ferrari team member confirmed. 10/14/04 AutoRacing1.com sources in China tell us that Sinopec, the Chinese oil and gas giant that is also the primary sponsor of the Formula 1 Shanghai GP, is close to concluding a major sponsorship deal with BAR-Honda. Sinopec’s logo would replace Lucky Strike on the sidepods in 2005 for the non-tobacco races and be positioned to become the primary sponsor for all events in 2007. Mark C.
What about Brazil? Celso Itibere, a respected auto racing columnist at the 'O Globo' newspaper, the biggest Brazilian newspaper, and also a Champ Car commentator on Rede TV, the network that broadcasts the races in Brazil, has this to say in this O Globo article, (rough translation) "Next year, the Interlagos circuit will host, in September, the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix, and, possibly three weeks later, another important race: the Brazilian Champ Car Grand Prix". "The American series, which will also have Cristiano da Matta, who is almost sure to race with Newman-Haas, is also negotiating for a race in Buenos Aires, one week before or after the Brazilian race"
Aussie driver full-time in Champ Car for 2005UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. An agreement has been reached between Champ Car World Series officials and a Gold Coast businessman to have an Australian driver compete full time in next year's championship. The announcement follows the successful debut of Australia's David Besnard, who finished seventh in yesterday's Gold Coast Indy 300. Gold Coast businessman Craig Gore said he had met with the owner of the Champ Car World Series, Kevin Kalkhoven, and they had agreed Australia should be represented by a full time driver in the championship. "There will be one driver in the Champ Car World Series that's an Australian," he said. "I can confirm that today. I did a deal with Kevin Kalkhoven and we will have an Australian in the series." Mr. Gore said Besnard would not be the Australian representative. "It won't be Bezzy [Besnard] , Bezzy's a V8 Supercar driver," he said. ABC Queensland. [Editor's Note: Our bet is that it could be one of the highly regarded Australian's - Rob Nguyen or James Courtney who both have a lot of F3000 experience, and does Ryan Briscoe want to spend another year as a F1 test driver? It won't be Josh Hunt because we do not think he is ready for Champ Car yet.] 10/25/04 This Courier Mail article says, Also delighted with his efforts [in Sunday's Surfers race] was Australian Champ car rookie David Besnard, finishing seventh in his one-off Gold Coast race. "I've brought it home and I'm really happy," Besnard said, surviving two race spins in the unfamiliar car. Gold Coast businessman Craig Gore, who sponsored the run in the WPS Reynard, said he had not finished counting the cost of the exercise, but wanted an Australian driver to run full time in the North American-based series. "David didn't win the race today but he might as well have," Gore said while race fans applauded the strong finish. [Editor's Note: ABC in Australia reports that the deal is done for next year. The team was not mentioned.]
Pit Bulls to go NASCAR executives love the new television package that has boosted national coverage of their sport the past three years, but it's no secret they're not fond of one of the newest pre-game shows, Saturday night's Pit Bulls [usually 6:30pm/et, also known as Pit Hogs by Jimmy Spencer], on Speed, the Fox cable subsidiary. Pit Bulls is Fox' specialized version of The Sports Reporters, and its irreverent, politically-incorrect stance on many NASCAR racing issues has drawn a surprising following among stock-car crews, who sometimes express amazement that NASCAR officials have allowed the show to continue. Pit Bulls follows a distinctly different line from the typical NASCAR pre-game and post-game racing shows, which are frequently little more than public-relations showcases for NASCAR-approved themes, promoted by a bevy of drivers, some of whom, like Michael Waltrip, have lately increased their criticism of the show. Now it appears that the Pit Bulls show may be ripe for Brian France's axe at the end of the season, according to TV sources, who say the show could be sacrificed in post-season NASCAR-TV negotiations to appease Daytona executives. Winston Salem Journal
More bad news for JordanUPDATE A spokeswoman has denied that Jordan will definitely lose the title sponsorship of Gallaher International next season. A whisper in Sao Paulo said the tobacco giant would not continue its promotion of cigarette brand Benson & Hedges in Formula One beyond Sunday's Brazilian grand prix. Silverstone-based Jordan first raced in the bright yellow B&H livery in 1996. 10/23/04 The latest rumor in Sao Paulo where the F1 circus is wrapping up their season this weekend, is that Eddie Jordan's team will lose the backing of tobacco giant Gallaher International after the Brazilian grand prix. Gallaher promotes the Benson & Hedges cigarette brand in Formula One, giving Jordan its distinctive bright yellow livery. However, British tobacco laws outlaw tobacco advertising in F1 in July of next year anyway, so at best we are talking about a loss for a partial season.
What’s up in the UK? Kalkhoven to buy CosworthUPDATE #4 This SPEED TV article says a deal is close for Cosworth, but does not hint at who will be the buyer. Will it be Kalkhoven? Briatore? Eddie Cheever and GM? The Midland F1 team? There have been all sorts of rumors but our sources say Kalkhoven has his fingers in it one way or another. 10/22/04 We are upgrading this rumor to 'strong.' This Grandprix.com article says, Cosworth Racing is also a company in demand with at least eight buyers we have heard about, most of which are apparently interested in investing the necessary money to run an F1 program. The man who is believed to be at the top of the list of buyers is Champ Car owner Kevin Kalkhoven, who wants to secure the engines he needs to keep his racing alive while at the same time, get his hands on the Cosworth facilities in Torrance, California, which is a very advanced facility with a good team of people. [Editor's Note: It will be interesting to see whether Kalkhoven buys just the Torrance CA. branch to rebuild engines, or whether he buys the UK piece as well, thereby acquiring the expertise to not only design new F1 engines, but to design new Champ Car engines as well. As you know, we have recommended that Champ Car provide a Champ Car engine to any manufacturer in the world (up to 6 max.) who wants to come into the series and put their name on the engine (i.e. badge it). In this perfect scenario Champ Car gets all the benefits of controlling runaway speeds, cost and technology, but allow the manufacturers to participate in Champ Car as a marketing vehicle for their passenger cars rather than an R&D vehicle, which has historically been the case but results in the evils mentioned. If Kalkhoven does indeed buy Cosworth, all this becomes possible. We shall see how it plays out.] 10/14/04 It seems the Kevin Kalkhoven contingent was in the UK for a number of days and even after Kalkhoven departed for Australia (the long way around) staff stayed behind in the UK to take care of the final touches of some deal. Speculation continues to center on Kalkhoven buying Cosworth. Whether that means Cosworth, or also Cosworth Technology, is anyone's guess. Either by coincidence or perhaps out of some grand plan, Audi AG has decided that it wants to sell Cosworth Technology, its high technology drivetrain company, at the same time Ford is selling Cosworth. Cosworth Technology is now unrelated to Cosworth Racing, the racing division having been sold to Ford by Audi for $150m back in 1998. The rest of the company, comprising the engineering, manufacturing and casting activities of Cosworth, were renamed Cosworth Technology. It is believed that Audi is asking only around $80m for the business, which employs 1000 people in Northampton, Wellingborough and Worcester, and at Novi, Michigan. At one time Audi owned both Cosworth and Cosworth Technology (it was all one company at the time).
The fact that both are for sale at the same time is intriguing. We suspect that some grand deal is in play and Kalkhoven is right in the middle of it. But why would Kalkhoven want to own a racing engine manufacturer? We suspect it is because he does not want to see happen to Champ Car what has happened to F1, and happened to CART before that - that being the manufacturers having far too much control over the sport. The recent debate over V10 vs. V8 engines in F1 has the FIA being played like puppets by the manufacturers with some wanting to keep the existing engines while others wanting to switch to the smaller V8.
If Kalkhoven owns the company that makes the engines, several possibilities arise, depending on how the new Champ Car engine rules read in 2006 when Champ Car is slated to get new cars and new engines. One scenario is our badging concept whereby Kalkhoven builds and maintains all the engines and sells the badging rights to any number of car manufacturers who can put their name on it. Whereas Cosworth and Cosworth Technology were owned by Ford and Audi respectively, if the engine is a "Kalkhoven" engine, or a "Champ Car" engine, with zero connection to a competing car manufacturer, a company is more likely to agree to put their good name on this generic engine and use Champ Car as a marketing tool rather than an R&D driven tool.
As we have argued in the past, the best possible scenario for everyone involved is to have 4 or 5 car manufacturers each and have three 2-car teams (6 cars), all of which run the same "spec" engine, i.e. the entire grid, with the only difference being the nameplate on the cam cover. Each car manufacturer would be able to have enough influence and say on their three teams to call them their own, and have the requisite bragging rights when they won. There is far more to winning races than the engine, just as there is far more to building successful passenger cars than the engines that power them.
If you talk to the techie folks at each of the manufacturers they bristle over the idea of not building their own race engine, because that is what they do and what they know. However, when one examines the economics of racing, and the astronomical escalation in costs we see every time the manufacturers are allowed to run roughshod over a series, it's clear to us what needs to be done to gain control of one's own destiny. We boldly predict that if a series tries this concept, and we hope Kalkhoven is on the same page, it will he hugely successful, and will form the model by which all racing series follow in the future. It just needs someone with Kalkhoven's foresight and resources to perhaps make it finally happen. The badging concept is the best of both worlds, manufacturer involvement without runaway costs and runaway speeds caused by significant HP increases each year. F1 is talking about 1,000 HP engines for 2005, which is of course ludicrous. Mark C.
10/11/04 Rumor has it that Champ Car President Dick Eidswick will meet Kevin Kalkhoven in the UK tomorrow for an important meeting. Might it involve the Manchester race? Perhaps the Cosworth deal? Might they be meeting with some manufacturers? What about those rumors regarding Richard Branson? Still some speculate a meeting with Bernie might be in order. We hear things are really heating up at Champ Car as many deals are headed toward fruition.
10/06/04 The future of Cosworth Racing as an F1 engine supplier remains uncertain, despite optimism that it will be sold as a going concern. Insiders say a number of bidders have come forward with offers to buy the company, which supplies engines in Champ Cars, IRL IndyCar, Superbikes and a number of other series in addition to F1. Cosworth turns over £67 million per year, generating approximately half its income from F1. Speculation has linked Renault F1team principal Flavio Briatore with a buy-out, possibly with a view to becoming an F1 engine supplier to private teams. Other potential buyers remain interested in Cosworth’s non-F1 divisions. Kevin Kalkhoven, founder member of the Open Wheel Racing Series which runs Champ Car, admitted talks were continuing as to the future of Cosworth’s supply of the 2.65-litre V8 turbo XFE motors for next year and beyond. He said: “We have been in a lot of discussions with Cosworth regarding our engine supply over the next couple of years. But that’s as far as it has gone.” Autosport Magazine [Editor's Note: We expect that whoever buys the Jaguar F1 team will get first crack at Cosworth. If they don't take it we suspect it might be split into two companies, one in Europe for F1 and one in the USA for the IRL (Chevy engine) and Champ Car.]
Janis might not drive for Coyne in Mexico City The manager of Jarek Janis, Antonin Charouz, was quoted on the Czech website www.Formule.cz by Czech news agency BPA (which is agency run by Charouz for the website of www.Tomasenge.com and www.Jarek-janis.cz) the following:
Antonín Charouz, Janišův manažer: „Nejsem spokojený s tím, jak byl vůz připraven a nemám tím na mysli jen technické problémy, ale i to, že Jarek měl horší specifikaci vozu než týmový kolega Servia. Několikrát jsem volal šéfovi týmu Dale Coynovi a snažil se tuto situaci vyřešit. O Jarkově startu v Mexiku rozhodne to, zda dostane identický vůz s týmovým kolegou. Pokud by tomu tak nebylo, pak tam Jarek nepojede. Rozhodnout by se mělo v nejbližších dnech.“ Zdroj: BPA
English Translation: Janis's manager is unhappy with team in Champ Car Antonin Charouz , manager of Janis: "I am not satisfied with the fact how the race care was prepared for Jarek Janis and I don't wanted to talk only about the technical problems but also about the fact that Jarek (Janis) had such a worse specification car (older car) then Servia his teammate. I contacted team manager Dale Coyne several times and tried to solve this problem. Jarek (Janis) will race for Coyne's team again only if he gets the identical equipment as his teammate (Servia). If this request is not fulfilled then Janis will not race in Mexico. We will decide that in the next few days."
Milwaukee Mile to be shuttered?UPDATE Auto racing, it turns out, is not a business the state wants to run. Just 17 months after resuming control of the money-losing Milwaukee Mile, the State Fair Park Board is looking to farm it out again, saying the losses are too great and the business too risky for the state to underwrite. "The real issue here is whether the state should be in this business," State Fair Park Chairman Martin Greenberg said Friday of the Mile, which lost $2.5 million in its first full year since the state bought out its contract with Carl Haas Racing Ltd. in 2003. "Based on this performance, it's clear that this is a sportsman's game, not a state game," he said. Despite the losses, Milwaukee Mile General Manager Mark Perrone said he has received inquiries from "interested parties who recognize the track is on the upswing." Unloading the Mile - most likely the business and not the assets - is the latest step the park board is considering to put itself back in the black. Though the annual State Fair is profitable, the fair park lost $6.2 million over the last two years because of poor performances by the Milwaukee Mile, the Pettit National Ice Center and the 2-year-old Wisconsin Exposition Center. The Park Board last week gave Greenberg the OK to pursue other arrangements for running the track, which has operated on the fairgrounds for more than 100 years. The most likely scenario is that the Park Board will lease the Mile to a promoter in an arrangement similar to, though presumably more profitable than, the contract it had with Haas. The Mile lost the $2.5 million mostly on ticket revenue, despite doubling its number of races and increasing attendance by 110%, according to Perrone. It also did not secure the $300,000 in naming rights he projected in his budget. Even in hindsight, Barkelar said, buying out Haas was the right decision, because his contract, renegotiated under then-Chairman Bill Drew and Chrnelich, had shifted all of the debt risk onto the state. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel10/14/04 This week's National Speed Sport News reports that "the recent losses the Milwaukee Mile has created for the Wisconsin State Fair may result in racing being abandoned at this historic track. Insiders say unless a new promoter is willing to take over and assume the risk, auto racing there will end. A beautiful new grandstand was opened recently and the track itself improved as well." From our perspective the future of this track is highly questionable. Both the Champ Car and the IRL races had lackluster attendance, certainly not enough to justify the expenditures made on the new grandstands. Scheduling both IRL and Champ Car events further diluted the already weak Milwaukee market and the split in open wheel racing caused by the creation of the IRL has resulted in a diminished open wheel fan base. Coupled with Champ Car's lackluster attendance at Las Vegas (and the IRL's before them), Nazareth's failure, and Phoenix's near-failure, just leads to further evidence to our theory that NASCAR "is oval racing" in the USA and Champ Car had better wake up and smell the roses. But wait, the list doesn't stop there, New Hampshire, Charlotte, Atlanta, Dover, Disney, Gateway, Fontana, etc. all failed under the IRL. NASCAR has a monopoly on the ovals and the sooner OWRS realizes that there is no future for oval racing in the USA for open wheel cars, the sooner they can focus on their core business - road racing. We get a kick out of the couple of hundred people who beat their chest and yell, saying Champ Car must retain ovals on their schedule. When hardly anyone shows up to watch the races, where's the business case for them? Mark C.
Ex-CEO of Conseco may lose house The former chief executive of Conseco Inc. (IRL team sponsor - AJ Foyt IV) and his family trusts must pay $62.7 million plus interest to a Conseco subsidiary, which also can foreclose on his mansion, a judge has ruled. Steve Hilbert, who co-founded Conseco in 1979, owed that much in interest on $162 million that he and his family trusts borrowed to purchase stock of Conseco, an insurance holding company based in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel. Hamilton County Judge Judith Proffitt issued the order Wednesday instead of sending the case to a jury. Hilbert, who stepped down in April 2000, said in a news release that his lawyers will appeal. The insurer last year filed lawsuits seeking to recover about $670 million in stock loans from Hilbert and 10 other former directors and officers. The loans, which were used to buy Conseco stock, are now prohibited by federal law. If the judgment stands, Hilbert's 25,000-square-foot French-style Carmel mansion also would be auctioned off in a sheriff's sale. The subsidiary, Conseco Services, holds one of the home's mortgages for $19.4 million. The company, saddled with $6.5 billion in debts incurred mainly through 1990s acquisitions, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2002 and came out of bankruptcy in September 2003 with a much-reduced debt load. The bankruptcy filing was the third-largest in U.S. history, trailing only the filings of WorldCom Inc. and Enron Corp. During its bankruptcy, Conseco excused the debt owed by nearly 300 employees, but it promised to pursue Hilbert and 10 other directors and officers for their debts. The so-called Big 11 owed more than $700 million combined in debt and interest. Cleveland Plain Dealer
Can Champ Car adopt new F1 engine rules?UPDATE A reader writes, I doubt Bernie's approval will be "needed." If F1 actually sticks to this new engine formula and OWRS accepts it without modification (something they will impress upon each engine manufacturer in private) Bernie would be an absolute fool to try and prevent F1 engine manufacturers from selling to OWRS. These are exactly the kinds of economy of scale open wheel racing needs to drive costs down, permit more systems interchangeability and thereby increase the number of teams capable (funded) of participating in F1, OWRS/CCWS, ALMS, et al. The NASCAR juggernaut is a threat to F1 too and Bernie knows this. Driving down cost drives the creation of new teams and lowers sponsorship cost making both F1 and CCWS a better buy to new and current sponsors that wish to tap into the more "upscale" consumer that NASCAR does NOT capture as well as everyone thinks. J.N. Anderson, Chicago, IL Yet another reader chimes in - It certainly makes for some interesting "economies-of-scale" possibilities if BOTH Champ Car and F1 adopt the identical 2.4L V-8 engine specs!..............Many years ago, gasoline was "dropped" by USAC because of a problem with "very high flammability" in oval track crashes, but I don't know if that holds true with today's modern fire suppression technologies! And what would Kevin Kalkhoven do with his "highly rumored" purchase of Cosworth operations in the USA? Such a move, in light of this possible future "commonality" of engines with F1, would only insure the short-term supply of "obsolete, dead-end design" engines to Champ Car, but in the long-run he'd have some quite expensive "boat anchor" technology on his hands! Perhaps he's also seriously considering going into the F1 engine manufacturing business as well! Bottom Line : Having a "common" engine between Champ Car & F1 just makes too much economic sense (so it will probably NEVER happen! Budde King, Arizona
Dear JN and Budde, Recall the rumor we posted not too long ago that said Ford Cosworth was pretty far along on the design of a 2.4 L V8 Formula One engine (as was Ferrari). The useful life of the existing Champ Car engines are just one more year anyway because new engines are rumored to be coming in 2006 to go along with a new Champ Car. If Bernie is indeed working closely with OWRS as continued rumors suggest, Kalkhoven buying Cosworth (both the UK and USA operations) makes perfect sense. The new F1 engine rules won't reward manufacturers who want to spend infinite amounts of money on their engine program, meaning Cosworth's customer engines would be much more competitive with Ferrari, BMW, Honda and Mercedes under the new rules than they are today. Kalkhoven is a shrewd and sly fox and it would not surprise us one bit if he knows exactly what the grand plan is - recall the articles, CART, Like the Phoenix, about to rise up from the ashesandWhy Bernie could and should buy Champ Car. Intuition tells us that Bernie will someday own part of Champ Car and strengthen road racings position against the onslaught of the Oval Track Cartel. Mark C..
10/23/04 Assuming that Max Mosley wins his battle with engine manufacturers and pushes through the new 2.4 L V8 F1 engines for 2006 and beyond, is it inconceivable to think that Champ Car could adopt the same exact engine specs lock, stock and barrel? Initially one might think so, however, the new rules are very IRL-like in that they limit what an engine designer can do in terms of exotic materials, bore, stroke, weight, etc. and hence significantly reduces the cost of the engines. There is nothing stopping Champ Car from doing this and moving to petrol instead of Methanol. If they do that then they open up the entire series to all the F1 engine manufacturers to supply identical engines in both F1 and Champ Car. It may make a lot of sense, but Bernie Ecclestone would have to approve of the idea. Pure speculation of course, but food for thought. Mark C.
Schumacher crashes in Brazil Michael Schumacher may lose ten positions on the Brazilian Grand Prix grid this weekend after totalling his race car in a practice session crash. Schumacher lost control of his Ferrari in turn six and caused significant damage to his car. If his engine is damaged and can't be transferred to the spare Ferrari then Schumacher will get a ten position grid penalty. Ferrari technical chief Ross Brawn told reporters at Interlagos immediately after the session. "We may have to use the T-car which would put us 10 positions back on the grid." Schumacher crashed just two minutes from the end of the session and finished second to team mate Rubens Barrichello. Despite the heavy crash, Schumacher walked from the wreck unaided. F1Racing.net
Firestone eyes NASCARUPDATE Goodyear has an exclusive deal with NASCAR to supply tires for its top three professional series through 2007, but there are reports Bridgestone/Firestone and B.F. Goodrich are interested in supplanting Goodyear. Stu Grant, general manager for Goodyear's worldwide racing program, isn't surprised by the interest. "Look at what's going on in racing," he said. "NASCAR is where everybody wants to be." NASCAR officials say that having a single tire supplier makes racing safer and they have no interest in starting another tire war such as the one that raged between Goodyear and Hoosier before the exclusive deal was signed in 1995. As for the possibility of changing tire suppliers, NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said only, "We have a great relationship with Goodyear. It's very satisfying and a continual benefit to the sport." ThatsRacin.com/AP10/19/04 On Monday's Wind Tunnel on Speed Channel, Robin Miller reported that Firestone supposedly will test a Truck or Busch Series car in 2005 with a Toyota engine and Firestone tires. Goodyear has an exclusive contract with NASCAR through the 2007 season, but clearly Bridgestone/Firestone could throw a lot of money at the France family to make the switch to their brand in 2008. Goodyear is not doing too well financially so it's doubtful whether they can match the mighty Japanese offer. Expect speeds to jump immediately if Firestone comes in. When compared to the competition Goodyear makes junk tires and has clearly lost their way. Small company Hoosier Tire made them look silly when they competed against them in the 90's, Michelin mopped them up in F1, and when the Corvette team switched from Goodyear to Michelin at LeMans this year they gained 7 seconds per lap!
Honda might quit F1 In response to the World Council voting to change the engine rules in F1 - “As we said all along, we want the engine formula to be open, so we can differentiate ourselves,” Honda’s Otmar Szafnauer commented. “One of the reasons we are here is so that we can fight the others on a level playing field in a formula that is not very restrictive. Once you start restricting it, the challenge goes away. That is not what Honda is here for.”
Szafnauer’s biggest beef surround restricting design freedom. “Defining the weight that the engine has to be, and the center of gravity, the bore size and the cylinder spacing – those are the main issues,” he added. Szafnauer says that Honda is still hoping to negotiate a compromise: “I think the first thing to do is fight this in every way we can,” he said. “We want to discuss it with the FIA, tell them what we are against and hopefully come to a better solution. We’ll do that first before we pull out. “We are committed to F1, we always said that, and I think the easiest thing to do in the light of something like this is quit. The hard thing to do is fight for what you believe is the best for the sport. We’re not selfish in saying some of this stuff. We joined the sport because it was the pinnacle and a challenge to our engineers. When that changes, then I think you should fight it.”
FIA president Max Mosley, however, told Autosport.com the time for negotiations is over. “We’ve done the negotiating. We did that in China,” he declared. “As far as Honda is concerned, I sat down and had a long discussion with them and tried to reach agreement, but it turned out not to be possible. This has been voted and is now the rules. It’s gone through all the procedures, been voted by the World Council and that’s it.”
New Champ Car team in the works A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I live in Australia and CH10 news reported today that Craig Gore, who runs the WPS V8 Supercar team, may start a Champ Car team in 2005. As you know, Gore is backing David Besnard for this weekend's Surfers Paradise race, and has invested over $15 million in the last 10 months on V8 Supercars. Alex Yoong also drives for him. David Wilks, Brisbane, AU.
Coulthard the man for Williams? With Jenson Button forced to stay at BAR, many drivers are scrambling to land his vacant seat at Williams. David Coulthard thinks he is the man for the job and rumor has it he is in the running. “As we speak I don't have a contract to drive in Formula One next season," he said, "but clearly there is a drive available at Williams and I think if there is a candidate available, my credentials are stronger than anyone's out there. I've got pole positions, I've won Grands Prix, and I've got a lot of experience of developing cars, tyre development. “It's been quite surprising the amount of interest from sponsors because over the last few years I've never had an outlet for that because at McLaren you don't carry your own personal sponsors and badges. I've been contacted by people wanting to know what my future is and if they can be involved. In terms of that sort of thing it is a pretty exciting time and now that Williams remains the last competitive seat available, I've got to do everything I can to try and make them realise that I am the best of the drivers available.”
Ranger could land Champ Car rideUPDATE AutoRacing1.com Canadian sources tell us that Andrew Ranger's sponsor, Tide (Proctor & Gamble) have agreed in principle to step up their backing such that it looks very promising we will see another young Canadian in Champ Car in 2005. Michael Valiante is the other young Canadian, who will make his start for Walker Racing in Mexico City in two weeks, that hopes to land a full-time ride in 2005. 09/11/04 AutoRacing1.com has learned that negotiations are ongoing to put Andrew Ranger in a Champ Car for this year's Mexico City race. A go, no-go decision will be made by Las Vegas. Mark C.
Borkowski to drive Grand-Am finaleUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See hot news for news release. 10/20/04 We have it on good word that Mike Borkowski will co-drive the Margraf Racing Pontiac-Riley with George Nolte at the Grand-Am finale in Fontana.
Heidfeld eyes Williams seat Nick Heidfeld has been talking to Williams, BAR, Jaguar and Jordan about next season but nothing has been signed yet. "We're also looking at the two new teams that will enter Formula One in 2006 but we prefer to race next season," Heidfeld added. About his year with Jordan Heidfeld is pretty clear: "In the beginning of the season it all went pretty well and we could get ourselves in top 10. But as the season went on the season became more and more difficult for us because we weren't able to test as much as the others. That made the season pretty difficult. I am pretty satisfied with this season. I haven't made any major mistakes and the two points that I scored in Monaco (with a damaged car) were the highlight of the season for me."
Ecclestone threatens to sue Stewart Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who is set to remove the British GP at Silverstone from the 2005 F1 calendar after talks with the BRDC broke down over financial terms and contract length, is to sue Jackie Stewart for libel over comments made in a BBC radio interview on Wednesday. Ecclestone's lawyers said in a statement issued on Thursday that the libel proceedings related in particular to Stewart suggesting that Ecclestone had "reneged on alleged promises given to the (UK) Minister of Sport" which might have saved the race. "Mr. Ecclestone, who has made it clear that he has tried hard to keep the British Grand Prix, and has explained his frustration at why this seems to be impossible in light of failed negotiations with the BRDC, is not suing the BBC, rather just its interviewee," lawyer Simon Smith said. The BRDC was due to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss its next move in its efforts to have Britain, which staged the first Grand Prix in 1950, reinstated on the calendar. Eurosport
Kumho Tires set to enter F1UPDATE The Korean tire company Kumho is rumored to be on the verge of announcing a plan to enter F1 to improve the company's worldwide visibility. Much will depend on the F1 tire regulations which are announced in the next few days but we would expect to see the tire war intensifying rather than calming down. While this might provide a little more uncertainty in races, it is going to be tough for the newcomers to take on the big players who have years of F1 experience. Grandprix.com [Editor's Note: If these rumors that persist turn out to be true, Champ Car would be wise to change their tire and wheel size to that of F1 because at that point the following companies will be supplying F1 size tires to the Industry - Bridgestone/Firestone, Michelin, Kumho, Avon, Yokohama, Dunlap, whereas the only company making IRL/Champ Car size tires would be Bridgestone/Firestone.] 09/08/04 [Editor's Note: As more and more tire manufacturers make F1 size tires it becomes even more critical that Champ Car adopt F1 size wheels and tires on its next generation car so that companies who want to also do Champ Car can make the switch easier. There are other companies that make those size tires too. Even the GP2, Euro3000 and A1GP series are adopting F1 size tires and wheels. The higher sidewalls of the F1 tire (as compared to low-profile tires seen in some series) give the driver more feel for what the car is doing, hence you see less driving-on-rails (boring) action.] According to this week's Autosport Magazine, F1 is poised to have a third tire supplier within the next three years after South Korean company Kumho gave the green light to ambitious plans to take on Michelin and Bridgestone. Autosport understands that preliminary work on designing and building an F1 tire has already started and that the company is now evaluating how best to make the step. This makes a graduation to the top level unlikely before 2007. The company has set aside a development budget of around £15million for work on the F1 project and is willing to spend more than £30m per season when it finally decides to commit to F1.
A spokesman said: “The exact timing of a participation in F1 will be revealed after a thorough analysis of the expected gains compared to the necessary investments.” Kumho is the ninth largest tire company in the world and has an annual turnover of around £1billion. Its involvement in motorsport began in 1992 when it supplied tires to the MG Owners’ Club in Britain. It now provides rubber in Formula 3 – where it supplies the control tire for the Euroseries and high-profile Marlboro Masters and end-of-season Macau event – as well as the Japanese GT series.
Childress close to announcing AOL or MotorolaUPDATE #2 See other rumor. RCR will have to announce that Motorola will be the new sponsor because AOL appears to be getting out of NASCAR. 10/09/04 Jayski.com reports that if the #30 car does not re-sign with AOL that Motorola will be the sponsor. Recall that Motorola was with Michael Andretti but as the IRL TV ratings went into free-fall they have significantly reduced their involvement and are now looking at NASCAR, which delivers the all-important TV numbers. 10/09/04 Richard Childress said that he would be making announcements soon, possibly by the end of October. In the Nextel Cup Series, RCR has Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton signed with multi-year deals, but Childress will have to make the decision whether to retain Robby Gordon. Childress is also working to make sure AOL returns as Burton's sponsor in 2005. "We're probably going to make those announcements around Atlanta or a little after," Childress said. "We pretty much have everything in place. You know, we are going to make adjustments all throughout or organization. We're going to make a few adjustments, everything from Cup to Busch." NASCAR.com
Plans in play for major F1 qualifying shakeup Formula 1's leading figures are set to vote later this week on a radical shake-up of the sport's qualifying system – with the final session to decide grid slots taking place on Sunday mornings. Following the success of the system adopted at the Japanese Grand Prix, after the forced cancellation of Saturday's schedule because of the threat of a typhoon, motor sport's governing body has already approved plans for two aggregate sessions to be introduced next year. The new plan would involve one qualifying run on the Saturday of a grand prix weekend, with another on Sunday morning. The times for the two sessions would then be added together to decide the grid slots. First qualifying would run with light fuel, while race fuel and settings would be required for the second session. The plans are set to be decided on by a fax vote of the Formula 1 Commission later this week, although it is unclear yet whether teams are in favor of the new system. There could be resistance because Sunday qualifying would give the teams less time to make repairs to their cars or finalize strategy if there is any problem in the morning run. This year's qualifying system, with two sessions taking place back-to-back on Saturday has been widely criticized, but the teams could not reach agreement on a replacement format. Autosport.com
Franchitti re-signed with Andretti Green First Dario Franchitti said he was examining all options for 2005, then Robin Miller reported that Dario had re-signed with Andretti Green on Sunday. Michael Andretti stated on Wind Tunnel that he is very close to coming to an agreement with Dario. He believes consistency is important for the team, and is working to keep the entire program, i.e. 4-driver, sponsor, and team the same for 2006.
Could Silverstone host a Champ Car race?UPDATE Perhaps the door is indeed open for Champ Car at Silverstone. Could this be why Kevin Kalkhoven and his entourage were in the UK last week? You've read it before, but the historic Formula One event at Silverstone is finally dead. F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone revealed on Tuesday that he has told a new grand prix host - probably somewhere in the United States - that talks with the British Racing Drivers' Club have definitely failed. He told the UK's The Times: ''What could I do? I have got an offer from another country who are looking to build a lovely venue and invest a lot of money in Formula One. 'I have to give them a year's notice to go ahead. If I miss that because I am still messing about with the BRDC, I would be keeping out a country that desperately wants to be in the (championship).'' The 73-year-old's final decision comes only after the BRDC told Bernie that a last and lowest offer - received by the Club in a draft contract last week - was still not acceptable. GMM10/18/04 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I read someplace that the BRDC could run a Champ Car race if they lose their F1 race. What's the chance of that happening? Pete Miles, Denver, Co. Dear Pete, OWRS has put a real emphasis on races close to or within big cities. We also do not believe that Champ Car has a big enough following anywhere in the world to run a race at a place like Silverstone, which is fairly remote even if it is in central England. Largely because of its horrible TV package this year, especially its international package, and its near-zero marketing, Champ Car has continued to become less and less known around the world. Recall what Tommy Kendall said to the Oregonian newspaper back in June - Kendall isn't surprised that TV ratings are almost nonexistent for Champ Car and Indy Racing League events in this country. "When people say there's nothing wrong with the product, that all it needs is better marketing and promotion, that's a pretty good clue they don't know they have a product nobody wants," Kendall said before Saturday's Trans-Am race. "There is a problem with the product. People are afraid to admit that. I think the product, as it is presented now, is awful -- although it has the makings of being a tremendous product. The fans will scream at me, but admitting it's awful actually frees you to figuring it out." This of course takes us back to our call for Champ Car to ditch the current overweight and terribly slow car for a lightweight car with a screaming V10 engine that sends chills down the spine of every fan watching. We could not agree more with Kendall that they have a product only a few want, and the sooner Champ Car officials get their head out of the sand the better. They can start with the Superfund car that has already tested faster than a Jordan and Minardi F1 car, tweak the bodywork, and presto they have a Champ Car as fast as an F1 car that costs less per year (total cost) than the current car. Then they will have a product that somebody wants. Mark C.
2005 the last year for Vancouver Today's Vancouver Province newspaper reports that the 2005 Champ Car race will run on the July 22-24th weekend and that 2005 will be the last race here. They also report from "reliable sources" that Edmonton is about to finalize their agreement for the weekend preceding the Vancouver race. We are not sure how reliable their sources are because they say Calgary talks have broken off and the race is a no-go. See other rumor where the Calgary Sun makes it sound like their race will happen too. Original rumors placed that race on Labor Day weekend. One has to wonder just how many races Champ Car will run in 2005 if all these rumored races come to fruition. The TV deal announcement is still tentative for October 28th.
Prost in possible F1 comeback Four times world champion Alain Prost has been linked with a return to Formula 1 team management, with sources claiming that the Frenchman is seriously considering a comeback as team boss just three years after his own outfit folded.
Although Prost eagerly distanced himself from speculation that he wanted to make a return to F1 in the immediate aftermath of Prost Grand Prix folding at the end of 2001, it is understood that regulation and political changes planned for F1's immediate future have softened his resolve. The arrival of new outfits, allied to imminent personnel changes throughout the field, are further factors that are believed to have helped changed his mind.
Prost has kept well away from any involvement in F1 in recent years, but last year he refused to completely rule out a return in the future – providing that circumstances were right. Although there is no suggestion that Prost wants to start his own team from scratch, or is even close to agreeing a position with a team, sources claim that he is eyeing up the possibility of taking on a senior role at a well-established outfit – with Renault believed to be his number one target. Autosport
Will Champ Car try to lure Coulthard? David Coulthard hopes this weekend's race won't be his last. The Scot will be replaced by Juan Pablo Montoya next year and faces an uncertain future with no deals for 2005 in the pipeline. The 33-year-old hopes Brazil will not be his final race and has once again reiterated that he's not ready to hang up his helmet just yet. He said: "There is no denying that Brazil will be a weekend of mixed emotions for me, as it has been a great nine seasons with the team.” I believe I have the pace, desire and ability to be competitive, and as I have stated I am not ready to retire. I am continuing to try and get a drive next year, but if I don't then I'll try the following year."
As Champ Car tries to make its big push onto the global market in 2005, it is in desperate need of a couple of big-name drivers who are known worldwide. Coulthard fits that bill perfectly. At 33 he's still young, he's fast, and he's popular around the world. He will probably want to be paid to drive, but can OWRS afford not to pay for a couple of big names that will help bring the series back to the prominence it once enjoyed? Mark C.
End of road for Klien? With the future of the Jaguar Racing team still unknown beyond this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix, 21-year-old driver Christian Klien is just as uncertain about his future. Heading to Brazil the Austrian, with Red Bull backing knows that this weekend could be his last in the sport. "It is hard to believe we are approaching the final Grand Prix of the season, and the last race of my first year in Formula One," said Klien. "It has been an incredible year, and I have really enjoyed working with the team, both away at the races and back at the factory in Milton Keynes. It is a great team, and I know everyone is pushing hard preparing for the Brazilian Grand Prix, where I will be doing all I can to fight for some all important final points." If Red Bull buys the Jaguar F1 team as rumored, then Klien may keep his job.
Changes coming at RCR Expect Richard Childress to make more changes to his RCR team before the start of the 2005 season. An announcement the last week of October at Atlanta should clarify the situation, at least partially. Jeff Burton could move from the #30 car to the #31. FoxSports/Sporting News
International TV coming together for Champ Car Progress continues to be made on the 2005 Champ Car international TV deals. We have heard bits and pieces. For example, we hear that races will be shown live in Chile, Argentina and Brazil next year, all on terrestrial TV. A deal to be live in 40 European countries is nearing completion, and the Latin America deal, including live TV for Mexico, and Middle East deal are all nearing completion. The Asia TV deal is not as close, but progress is being made. The person putting the deals together is very well connected in worldwide TV circles. This is excellent news for Champ Car, because as we have written, with the series morphing into a F1-type international series, the international TV deal is even more important than the USA TV deal.
Champ Car eyes surprise venueUPDATE AutoRacing1.com has learned that Champ Car is negotiating for a race in the Middle East, thought to be either Dubai or Qatar (Possible Middle East venues - Map), and negotiations are in an advanced stage. According to sources, the race could happen as early as 2005 because both countries have completed their FIA approved Grand Prix circuits. The Dubai Autodrome and Business Park is where much of the R&D will be done for the new Dubai F1 team recently announced. The 5.39 kilometer grand prix circuit recently played host to the European Renault V6 series finale. Meanwhile, The 5.380 km Losail track in Qatar is situated to the north of the capital Doha, and was officially opened just three months ago and recently played host to a round of the MotoGP. 08/26/04 Recall our previous rumor on the Renault V6 series that said Paul Gentilozzi will visit the new F1-track in Dubai in October. According to this AutoWeek article, Champ Car is emphasizing the "world" in World Series. Among other new venues for 2005, the three most likely are the long-rumored street race in Manchester, England; Buenos Aires, Argentina (South America remains a prime target of the new regime) and a site in the Middle East. St. Petersburg, Florida, remains on the table (as it does for the Indy Racing League). The venerable road course in Portland? "Sixty-forty," according to one series official. [Editor's Note: If they add 3 overseas races, there will be no room on the schedule for Portland or St. Pete.]
Kelley Racing to fold, Delphi to PantherUPDATE #4 This SPEED TV article has a few new quotes from team owner Tom Kelley. Bottom line - the only way Tom Kelley will still be involved in the IRL is if he runs a 2nd car with Scott Sharp and Delphi under the Playa Del Racing roof. 10/17/04 This rumor is about to go to 'fact' soon it appears. This Indy Star article says, Tom Kelley is on the verge of waving the checkered flag on his Indy Racing League career, he confirmed Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway. The veteran team owner from Fort Wayne, Ind., acknowledged that he has a letter of intent to sell much of his race equipment to a new IRL team, and his primary sponsor has the option to leave Nov. 1. That means the end could be near for Indianapolis-based Kelley Racing, one of the IRL's original teams. "The cost of racing has gone up, and it's narrowed my options," said Kelley, whose family owns a chain of car dealerships. "I just can't keep up with what I call 'the super teams' anymore." 10/16/04 A statement from Tom Kelley to AutoRacing1.com regarding the status of Kelley Racing - “Kelley Racing has had an opportunity to sell some of their assets. I think most people know that we own the assets to run a two-car team and on occasion a three-car team. We were approached by an organization that is putting together an IRL IndyCar Series program about purchasing some of those assets. So they have come in and done inventory on the items they are purchasing and in light of that, our locks were changed to limit access to the building. At that point we were able to say that as of Monday you (the purchasers) are now responsible for those assets. I don’t want to be in a position to have to go back in our shop in two weeks and do an additional inventory so we felt this was the best way to handle things as our team is off the week after the season ends. I met with my team last night and explained that to them and also let them know that there are a number of options yet for Kelley Racing. We could still possibly go on as we are--a one-car team, which is not my ideal option. We could pair up another organization as a two-car team or Delphi may very well come to me and buy out the sponsorship and go to a separate team. We just don’t know right now and we won’t know until the first of November what our path will be going forward. I’m trying to be flexible so that this ends up as the best scenario possible.” 10/15/04 Latest word is that the Kelley Racing team has put their equipment up for sale and Sharp will indeed end up over at Panther racing with the Delphi backing. We are not sure what role Tom Kelley will have at Panther, if any. 10/02/04 On SPEED News Saturday Robin Miller reported that Ganassi had initially been willing to absorb Kelley's operation and Delphi until he found out Sharp HAD to be the driver. He said that Panther could be in line for Delphi because they had a meeting this morning with Kelley.
Danica Patrick to replace Vitor MeiraUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' Meira re-signed with Rahal Letterman on Sunday morning according to Robin Miller. 10/17/04 Rumors from Texas this weekend suggest that Danica Patrick will replace Vitor Meira in 2005 at Rahal Letterman Racing and drive alongside Buddy Rice and a returning Kenny Brack. Meira might end up at Ganassi Racing in a third car. Scott Sharp was rumored heading there with his Delphi sponsorship but Ganassi did not want Sharp so that deal fell through.
Two new drivers for Cheever in 2005? Eddie Cheever confirmed today in Texas that he will run two, and possibly three cars in 2005, but that he has not re-signed either Ed Carpenter or Alex Barron yet. Rumors are that Patrick Carpenter will be one of his drivers in 2005. Whether Ed Carpenter returns will probably depend on whether his stepfather, Tony George, writes the check.
A Dubai F1 team emergesUPDATE We are bumping this rumor up to 'fact' today based on this interview with a team spokesperson. [Excerpts] Pitpass contacted Grand Prix Investments (GPI). We began by asking why Team Dubai F1 had chosen to take the (highly expensive) decision to start from scratch, rather than purchasing Minardi, Jordan or even Jaguar. "Have you got the press release?" said a GPI spokesman. "There's nothing really to add to what's in the release, that gives the genuine reason why. This is no slight on the teams we spoke to, and we were, as you'll know from the rumors, talking to a number of teams," he continues. "But it was felt that Team Dubai F1 needed to establish its own identity from the beginning. We want to create our own identity and our own brand values, this is no slight whatsoever on the teams we talked to, far from it, we have nothing but compliments for them. Nonetheless, that's the decision that was made."
"Initially the aim of the team is to get a credible engine and technological offering and then move on," he replies. "That's why it was decided to go for quality, the likes of Mercedes and McLaren, proven winners who understand not just winning, but understand the sport. A partnership with Mercedes and McLaren, in terms of providing technical support, demonstrates the genuine wish to build a successful team." Asked if the team has any ideas regards personnel, the GPI spokesman responds: "Nothing that can be released at this time, but obviously yes." There is unlikely to be any further information made public regarding Team Dubai F1 until mid November - after the holy month of Ramadan - when an official press conference will be held in Dubai. Finally, we ask for confirmation that the project has the backing of the Dubai royal family. "It's the official team of Dubai," he replies. 10/16/04 Team Dubai F1 has announced it will enter the Formula 1 World Championship in 2006, with help from McLaren-Mercedes. The owners of the project have entered into exclusive negotiations with the German manufacturer for a supply of engines and McLaren for technical assistance on the chassis.
Hot on the heels of the Midland F1 project launch two weeks ago, the owners of the new Arab concern have confirmed that Dubai F1 will not after all be based on an existing team and will set-up its own F1 operation over the coming year.
Jordan, which is actively seeking investment and an engine supply for next year, had been in talks with a senior member of the Dubai ruling family, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, over the sale of the team. But the talks fell through and now Team Dubai F1 has been formed as an independent outfit. [Editor's Note: This certainly is bad news for cash-strapped Jordan]
"We ultimately concluded that the acquisition of an existing team would never enable us fully to demonstrate our own commitment and excellence since success would inevitably have been linked with the existing team's brand and values," said Team Dubai representative Tim Fulton.
Team Dubai F1 said in a statement that it planned to place a US$48m bond with the FIA to secure its entry in 2006 and that work is to begin early next year on a technical centre and wind tunnel in Dubai, while the manufacturing facilities for the project will be based in England. Autosport
Smirnoff Ice to the #97 in 2005 Smirnoff Ice, Diageo's malt beverage product, will reportedly move from Roush Racing's #17 and Matt Kenseth to the #97 of Kurt Busch in 2005. Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Brundle eyes possible LeMans return Martin Brundle, who won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2000 with Jaguar, says he would again like to contest the 2005 24 Hours of LeMans event next season. "I may be doing some more racing myself in the future," he told Crash.net, while chatting about his latest book, Working the Wheel. "I'm trying to put a few things together to come back racing," he added. "I fancy that now that I'm no longer chairman of the BRDC and, once I've got David Coulthard's contract done, I might have a bit more time on my hands. I've got a burning desire to race again! That'd be the only thing – something around Le Mans."
Luis Diaz to the IRL? This NASCAR.com interview says (excerpts): Claire: Talk about the driver development program. Felix Sabates: Well, right now we got three drivers under contract, and we'll probably have one more. Claire: You will have one more added? Felix Sabates: Probably talking to one more. We have this Mexican kid, Diaz. I'd like to put him over here [NASCAR], and Chip wants to put him in the IRL car, so we have a little different opinion (laughs). He could use him in the IRL as they don't have a lot of good drivers over there. We got him, and the other three kids that we're working with, so I think you're gonna have to develop drivers. If you don't, you're going to be held up. [Editor's Note: You don't need a lot of good drivers in a 100% throttle, no talent required, racing series, just brave ones.]
Did Hornish cheat his way to all of his IRL wins? Both of Panther Racing's cars -- driven by Tomas Scheckter and Townsend Bell -- were sent to the rear of today's 21-car field for using unapproved rear wings in qualifying. IRL officials would not discuss specifics of the violations or the fine that accompanied them. Panther officials argued that the wings twice passed inspection prior to qualifying and weren't altered. But there were rival team officials happy to see the two-time league champion caught. They think Panther has been skirting the rules for years. "When you get caught cheating, it throws everything up in the air for question," Eddie Cheever Jr. said. Indy Star [Editor's Note: Sam Hornish Jr. went from being IRL hero to being an also-ran this year even though he is now with the mighty Team Penske. Were all his wins for Panther Racing in previous years as a result of flexible wings? Is he the great driver the IRL made him out to be? Hmm.....]
Concerns raised over new rumors of ‘flexi-wings’UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today with word from the Texas paddock that a number of teams have been caught cheating with flexible wings. 09/29/04 This week's Autosport magazine reports the possible use of Formula 1-inspired flexi-wing technology is causing concern in the IRL IndyCar Series paddock, according to Autosport sources. IRL rules mandate a minimum angle between rear-wing planes for each track but, if used, flexi-wings would get around this by deflecting at high speed, giving an advantage. When asked if he thought flexiwings have been used, team principal Eddie Cheever said: “It is very possible as some cars had big swings in performance on the 1.5- mile ovals, where we are all limited by drag and horsepower." The IRL was unavailable for comment.
IRL to sponsor karting seriesUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See Hot News for the official announcement. 10/14/04 At 3:30 p.m. Saturday, the Indy Racing League will make a special announcement. The participants will include Sr. Vice President for Business Affairs Ken Ungar and two special guests. We hear the announcement will be about this karting deal. 10/05/04 We have it on good word that the IRL will sponsor the Stars of Tomorrow Karting championship (run by Bryan Herta, et al) in Florida this year, and sponsor the series for the next 3 years! This program used to be part of the Champ Car ladder system as the first rung to develop road racing skills. What is Champ Car doing while the IRL continues to pluck their paddock dry?
NASCAR snatches another Champ Car sponsor? We predicted that once Champ Car let NASCAR into Mexico they would eventually pluck the Champ Car paddock dry of all Mexican sponsors. It has begun. Corona is already onboard big time with NASCAR (less money for Champ Car) and now we have it on good word that the Mexican company Roshfrans (that recently signed to be Champ Car's official lubricant) will build a team for the Busch Series race in Mexico City. The team will be called Roshfrans Speed Racing. On October 19th they will unveil their plans and their drivers in the pit area of the Mexico City Track. Unless Roshfrans picks up the sponsorship of the lost Herdez money for Mario Dominguez and Ryan Hunter-Reay, they will eventually spend more money on their NASCAR team than Champ Car is getting from them. Time will tell. The NASCAR team money could have been spent to increase their sponsorship involvement in Champ Car. Corona and Roshfrans are only the beginning. We predict you will eventually see Herdez, Telmex, Tecate and Quaker State of Mexico all jump on the NASCAR bandwagon in one of their three top divisions. Herdez has already announced they are leaving Champ Car after this year. Anyone care to bet where they will end up? While Champ Car has no one in Mexico looking after their affairs, already a NASCAR office is staffed and working around the clock to pluck whatever they can from the Champ Car paddock. If the rumors are true that F1 is coming to Cancun, even more pressure will be brought to bear on Mexican sponsor budgets. For Champ Car's sake, hopefully we will be proven wrong. Mark C.
Access Motorsports to run 2 cars in TexasUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Access Motorsports only entered one car at Texas for Mark Taylor. 10/02/04 Rumor has it that Access Motorsports will run two cars at the IRL season finale in Texas and possibly run two cars full season in 2005.
Villeneuve out - rumor (GMM) Formula One insiders are considering the possibility that Jacques Villeneuve will not race a Renault in Brazil. The French-Canadian was disappointed to the point of embarrassment with his form at Suzuka and was looking forward to improving fitness and set-up in a solid Jerez test. But he only ran on one of Renault's three days in Spain this week, in contrast to regular test driver Franck Montagny's full program including nearly 300 laps. The speculation follows comments of former four time world champion Alain Prost's amazement that compatriot Montagny didn't get the nod to replace Jarno Trulli in the first place. ''(Franck) is under contract already and is a reserve driver,'' Prost said on French television, ''who deserved the experience.''
Williams to target NeweyUPDATE Rumors are increasing that Adrian Newey has already been in talks with Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head and it seems more and more likely that he will end up in his old role with his old team, as chief aerodynamicist. However, at this stage of negotiations, nobody at Williams wants to comment on the situation, but nobody is denying it either. 08/15/04 Having had to remodel its losing Walrus nose FW26 ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the Williams team has admitted that it would like to see former designer Adrian Newey back in the fold. Team boss Frank Williams admitted to BBC Online that he would be interested in trying to lure the McLaren designer Adrian Newey back to Grove, confirming paddock rumours suggesting that talks had already taken place. Williams denied that he had approached Newey, whose McLaren contract expires next season.
Montagny may save day for Jordan The Jordan F1 team lost their engines for 2005 when Ford decided to pull out of F1. The team then tried to buy customer engines from Toyota but that deal fell through as well. That left the Jordan team without an engine for next year. Enter French driver Franck Montagny. Flavio Briatore is his manager and Flavio is also tied in close with Renault since he is the Renault teams manager. Flavio was looking to get Montagny a full-time ride and rumor has it that if Jordan will take Montagny, Briatore will get them Renault customer engines.
Mark Martin to retireUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' based on today's official announcement. 10/13/04 It's expected that on Thursday Mark Martin will announce his retirement from Nextel Cup racing after the 2005 season, or perhaps do a scaled back schedule a la Terry Labonte and Bill Elliott.
Boris Said to drop Grand-Am in favor of Nextel Cup Boris Said will be leaving a long-standing association with Tom Milner's Prototype Technology Group, which fields two BMW M3s in the Grand American Rolex Series, to drive with MB2's NASCAR team in at least twelve Nextel Cup races next season. Said broke the news during a Grand American Road Racing Association teleconference called to discussing his forthcoming Rolex Series showdown at California Speedway. "It's supposed to be announced in a couple of weeks, but it'll be with MB2 Motorsports, the same team I've been running with this year," Said said of his new Cup deal, "I just can't keep my mouth shut as I'm so excited about finally getting the opportunity to do some of the big races. I just can't wait to get going." Said stated the team will run the road course events and at larger tracks, omitting the shorter tracks from the schedule - at least for now. "For sure, we'll run California again, because we did decent there, but it'll include the Brickyard, Texas, Daytona and Talladega," he said of his prospective campaign, "Hopefully, I'll talk them into a Martinsville or Bristol, but we haven't got that definite yet on the schedule. "We'll also be doing a couple of Busch Series races in 2005, in Mexico and at Watkins Glen, plus this year's race at Homestead in November." Said also indicated that the current MB2 ownership team will possibly grow to include the car's 2005 sponsor, whom he declined to name.
Tony Stewart in hot water againUPDATE #2 NASCAR has elected not to penalize Tony Stewart or Mike Bliss in connection with a confrontation between the two that followed last weekend's Busch Series race at Kansas Speedway, spokesman Mike Zizzo said Wednesday. After reviewing the incident, NASCAR officials determined it to be "an internal team matter" within the Joe Gibbs Racing operation, Zizzo said. ThatsRacin.com10/11/04 According to observers this is what happened: On the track, Bliss was a couple of laps down and Stewart was the race leader when a caution flag came out. Stewart was coming up on Bliss, and Bliss waved him to pass on the inside, a wave that Stewart apparently missed. When Bliss held his high line, Stewart angrily popped him. That angered Bliss, who popped him back. The two traded a few more bumps and obscene gestures before the race resumed. After the race, Stewart waited in Bliss' trailer to talk with him. The exchange became heated, and Stewart punched Bliss, wrestled him to the floor of the trailer and threw at least three more punches, according to witnesses. Winston Salem Journal10/11/04 NASCAR officials confirmed Sunday they are investigating a confrontation between drivers Tony Stewart and Mike Bliss that took place following Saturday's Busch Series race at Kansas Speedway. The incident involved Stewart and Bliss as well as several others, said NASCAR vice president for corporate communications Jim Hunter. "There was apparently a little incident in a truck hauler after the Busch race and we're going to continue to look into it," he said. "We had some discussions (Sunday). It's a Busch issue. We'll decide what to do – if anything – after we have more details on what took place." Hunter characterized the episode as a "minor incident amongst teammates, I might add." Stewart and Bliss both drive for Joe Gibbs Racing, but Stewart was driving an entry for Chance2 Motorsports in the Busch race Saturday. The two traded several bumps on the track during the race. Stewart, Bliss, JGR president J.D. Gibbs and Stewart's Nextel Cup crew chief, Greg Zipadelli made trips to the NASCAR hauler Sunday morning. Gibbs stopped briefly to speak to reporters after his meeting. "We talked about some stuff that happened yesterday and I think we got it cleared up," he said. "We'll probably have to address it again this week some more and then move on." Hunter said he didn't want to get into the details of the incident, because NASCAR had yet to speak with some witnesses who were not at the track Sunday. Hunter said if a points penalty were involved as a result of NASCAR's investigation, it would only involve Busch points. Stewart is currently one of 10 drivers competing in the Chase for the Nextel Cup. "In my opinion, it was something that carried over from the race track where tempers were involved and in the end, a lot of strong words and that sort of thing," Hunter said. ThatsRacin.com AND Nextel Cup driver Tony Stewart was required to get a checkup at Kansas Speedway's infield care center Sunday morning because he failed to stay there for one Saturday after his late-race wreck with Joe Nemechek. Hunter said Stewart had to have the checkup before he was allowed to race in Sunday's Banquet 400. ThatsRacin.com
GP2 schedule to be released Organizers of the new GP2 series are expected to release the 2005 calendar within the next two weeks. The calendar will feature ten rounds, all of them supporting Formula One races in Europe. It is expected that the championship will start on April 17th, at Magny Cours, followed by races at Barcelona, Monaco, Nürburgring, Silverstone, Hockenheim, Hungaroring, Istanbul, Monza and Spa-Francorchamps. An announcement regarding the timing of the races is anticipated at the same time. It is thought likely that GP2 races will take place on Saturday afternoons, after F1 qualifying. Plans to move the races to Sunday mornings are likely to be shelved because of the impact on TV coverage in the important South American market. F-3000.net
Coors and Molson to merge, but Miller may bid to buy MolsonUPDATE Canada's Competition Bureau said Wednesday it has no objection to the proposal to merge brewers Molson Inc. of Montreal and Adolph Coors Co. of Golden, Colo. A spokesman said the agency reviewed the proposed deal, announced last July, and did not find any reasons to block it. "We reviewed it and it raised no issues under the Competition Act," spokesman Tim Weil said. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission gave its nod to the deal last week. With these administrative hurdles behind them, the brewers expect their joint proxy circular filed Sept. 18 to be cleared by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by mid-November. It would then be submitted to Quebec Superior Court and mailed to Molson shareholders. A vote by Molson shareholders is tentatively scheduled for the week of Dec. 13. If two-thirds of both classes of shareholders vote in favor, the two brewers would together become the third-largest beer maker in North America, with combined sales of about $6 billion. AP Article09/21/04 [Editor's Note: Will this affect Champ Car's four Canadian races? We doubt it.] The Milwaukee Journal reports, Miller Brewing Co.'s corporate parent is reportedly considering a bid for Molson Inc., Canada's largest brewer - which could be good news for Miller and bad news for its rival, Adolph Coors Co. In July, Golden, Colo.-based Coors and Montreal-based Molson announced plans to merge their family-controlled breweries, a move that would create the world's fifth-largest beer-maker. But some Molson shareholders, including former Deputy Chairman Ian Molson, have said they will vote against the proposal - raising doubts about whether the merger will gain approval.
The Toronto Globe and Mail and the Wall Street Journal reported that London-based SABMiller Plc is in preliminary talks with Ian Molson and Toronto-based investment firm Onex Corp. about a possible joint offer to buy Molson. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation, reported Thursday that talks were at an early stage and might not result in an offer. An SABMiller spokesman declined to comment. Some industry observers said they doubt SABMiller will make an offer. "I don't put too much stock" in the reports, said Harry Schumacher, editor and publisher of Beer Business Daily, an industry newsletter.
He said both Coors and Molson executives are continuing to express confidence that the merger will occur, despite Ian Molson's opposition. Ian Molson quit the board in June after a feud with his cousin, Eric H. Molson, the chairman. More....
Tom Cruise may appear at Surfers race As being reported in the local Surfers media: INDY officials are tight-lipped but car-mad American superstar actor Tom Cruise may be in town for next week's Lexmark Indy 300. Cruise is great friends with actor Paul Newman, whose Newman-Haas team is on the threshold of wrapping up this year's championship, through front-running Frenchman Sebastian Bourdais. Newman has filming commitments in the US but it is understood Cruise has been offered a ride to Australia on series owner Kevin Kalkhoven's Gulfstream Jet. Indy chairman John Cowley said yesterday he was aware of the move to lure Cruise to Surfers. "There are some celebrities coming from the US and you'll have to wait and see if Mr. Cruise is one of them," he said. "He'd certainly add an extra dimension to the event." Cruise, singer Sir Paul McCartney and Newman got together at this year's Long Beach Indy race in Los Angeles. Cruise, who loves to drive fast cars, has already talked with Newman about helping to fund a team in next year's series. Cruise has been to the Gold Coast before, while married to Australian actor Nicole Kidman.
Mr. Cowley yesterday said he was hopeful that the event would attract more than 300,000 spectators, for the second year in succession. "With the right weather that crowd figure is achievable,” he said. Mr. Cowley warned at the weekend that he would switch the race to Brisbane, Cairns or Townsville if the Gold Coast didn't want it. But he said the Indy board preferred the Gold Coast.
Leffler in the #11 Fed-Ex car?UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See Hot News for the announcement. 09/17/04 Jayski.com reports hearing that Jason Leffler, driver of the #00 Chevy in the Busch Series could end up in the #11 Fed-Ex Joe Gibbs Racing Chevy, which seems odd as he is a young guy, not a Cup veteran [1 full season and some one-off races]. Leffler drove for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Busch Series in 1999 and 2000.
No new 2005 car for MinardiUPDATE This week's Autosport Magazine reports that Ferrari is blocking Minardi team boss Paul Stoddart’s bid to gain dispensation to allow his outfit to run a 2004-specification chassis in next year’s world championship. Autosport understands that Ferrari is opposed to any change that would lead to what it perceives as a ‘two-tier Formula 1’.
Stoddart claims that dispensation is necessary to allow his team to compete with respectability in ’05 because the prolonged delay in finalizing next year’s technical regulations has left too little time in which to build a new car. He said: “If the technical regs were finalized in December, we could chop bits off our car and hack it about to make it fit, but we’d end up being 20 seconds off the pace and probably not very safe. “None of us wants to do that, so what we’re asking is for the teams to give us a break and allow us to appear in something that at least resembles competitive shape. Can F1 really afford to have another team disappear? I don’t think so.” McLaren boss Ron Dennis and Frank Williams have indicated they would not oppose Stoddart’s move.
09/25/04 Paul Stoddart has asked the FIA and other F1 teams to consider granting the Minardi team an exemption from building a new car next year because it will make no difference at all to the grid order. Stoddart has backed up his request with statistics that show that on average the team is five seconds a lap slower in qualifying that the pole time and Max Mosley has asked teams to reduce performance by three seconds a lap. Stoddart argues that even with the 2004 cars his cars will still be at the back of the grid and it makes no sense at all to force Minardi to build new cars and allow the team time to regroup and get prepared for 2006. Stoddart is believed to have got some support from other team owners but what sounds like an eminently sensible idea is unlikely to be accepted. Stoddart says that the move can be justified by force majeure because the sudden withdrawal of an engine manufacturer is a case of force majeure. Grandprix.com
Mosley out to reduce manufacturer influence According to this week's Autosport Magazine, Speculation persists that Mosley’s plan to switch to V8 engines for F1 is part of a wider FIA agenda to reduce manufacturer influence over F1 – a position he appeared to tacitly acknowledge when he told Autosport: “The best thing is to frame the regulations so that we are independent of the manufacturers. That way if they come into the sport, it’s fantastic, but it’s not a catastrophe if they leave. If we do not introduce 2.4-litre V8s,we will lose Ferrari and Renault from F1. We do not, however, believe that we will lose Mercedes, BMW and Honda if we do adopt 2.4-litre V8s.” Autosport understands Ferrari is already well advanced with a development program for a 2.4-litre V8 engine.
V10 vs. V8 engine issue to go to arbitration According to this week's Autosport Magazine (key excerpts), Three of Formula 1’s most powerful engine manufacturers are about to begin legal action against the sport’s governing body, the FIA, over its plans to impose new engine regulations for 2006. BMW, Honda and Mercedes-Benz will take the FIA to arbitration over its insistence that F1 engines will have to be built to a 2.4-litre V8 format after next season.
Furthermore, Honda and BMW have not ruled out the possibility of quitting F1 if the regulation is brought in against their wishes, on safety grounds, as FIA president Max Mosley insists is possible. Their action may also be supported by Ford and Toyota. Ferrari and Renault, however, are in favor of the smaller units.
Mosley wants F1’s manufacturers to adopt 2.4-litre V8s for ’06 as a means of reducing speeds, improving safety and cutting costs. The introduction of the measure is due to be voted on later this month by the FIA’s World Motorsport Council. The WMC is not expected to oppose the change.
Mosley admitted that the Concorde Agreement, the document by which F1 is governed, obliges the FIA to prioritize aerodynamic changes when making technical amendments to the rulebook, but stressed that the Agreement’s Article 7.5, which addresses safety-related technical change, was a “trump card” in the engine dispute.
Mosley said: “When we have been repeatedly advised by F1’s Technical Working Group that speeds are too high, we have to act. Speed is a function of power, and the most effective way of cutting engine power is to cut engine capacity.”
But Otmar Szafnauer, vice-president of Honda Racing Development, said: “Honda joined F1 on the basis that we would have 3.0-litre V10s until the end of ’07, as outlined in the Concorde Agreement. That position is now not being honored. These are big decisions that we have got to get right, and we have to fight for them now. This could split the sport. The first thing you do is fight as hard as you can, and in every way you can, before you withdraw,” he said.
Proposals from manufacturers presented to the FIA last August urged the governing body to keep the 3.0-litre format, but with a rev limit of 18,000rpm, and with exotic materials, such as metal matrix composites (MMCs), banned and variable intake trumpets outlawed. The manufacturers believe the package would reduce power by around 15 percent (between 120-150bhp), while achieving Mosley’s aim of cutting costs and speeds.
BAR team principal David Richards, who fully supports Honda’s position, described the 2.4-litre rule as “random and ludicrous.” Williams’ Patrick Head added: “We are supporting BMW’s position. The Concorde Agreement is quite clear in stating that 3.0-litre V10s will be kept until the end of’07, when the Agreement expires.” Autosport understands Ferrari is already well advanced with a development program for a 2.4-litre V8 engine.
Conseco to dump Foyt, IRL After a poor performance and many crashes we have it on good word that Conseco has decided not to renew their sponsorship of the AJ Foyt IV IRL team. This weekend's race in Texas will be the last time you will see Foyt wearing the Conseco green colors. How can this rumor be 'fact' already you ask? Young Foyt was quoted as saying "This will be my last race wearing the Conseco colors because they're not renewing their deal, but I appreciate the support they've given me in the first two years of my IndyCar career. I hope we can finish on a high note."
Yet another country eyes F1 The list of countries claiming a desire to stage a Formula 1 Grand Prix continues to expand: the latest rumor concerns a bid to host a race in the Canary Islands, as a move to boost tourism. Add this to the list of possible Champ Car venues because there is no way F1 can satisfy the world demand from all these countries and that is where Champ Car comes in. Mark C.
Young Swede eyes Champ Car Rumor has it that young Swedish sensation Alx Danielsson has his eyes set on Champ Car or Formula GP2 in 2005. We hear he may test for a Champ Car team in December. He recently signed Rick Gorne to be his manager and Gorne almost always picks winners to deal with. Danielsson who is 22 years of age is a natural talent who has established himself as one of Sweden's most promising drivers in recent time. In just six seasons since he actively started motor racing (1998) he has gone from go-karting to titles in Swedish and British Formula Ford, which is quite unique. He just won the Renault V6 season finale in Dubai last week (Pictured left in his winning V6 car. Note the Renault V6 car would make a good replacement for the Toyota Atlantic car in 2006). Alx's background is in alpine skiing, where he was one of Sweden's top athletes. The goal for Alx is to have an F1 seat by 2006 if he does well in Champ Car or Formula GP2 in 2005.
Heidfeld may join Williams as tester (GMM) Jordan's Nick Heidfeld may join Williams as a test driver in 2005, according to media speculation. British magazine Autosport said the rated German, reportedly not keen to spend another season wearing yellow, is possibly favorite to replace Grove's incumbent Marc Gene. The publication revealed that Williams will not renew the contract of Spanish-born Gene, who failed to shine as Ralf Schumacher's replacement racer in July. Gene, Autosport continued, will meet with Ferrari chiefs later this week and could be Luca Badoer's test cohort from next season. Indeed, Marc - who moved from Minardi to Williams in 2001 - was noted in discussion with world champion Michael Schumacher at the recent Jerez test. He is, perhaps significantly, also not testing for Williams at the Spanish location this week.
Button and manager to split (GMM) Jenson Button may be trying to escape from the wing of manager John Byfield, according to speculation. The young driver's image took a hard knock when Byfield found a 'loophole' in the BAR contract and engineered a switch in 2005 to Williams. But, worse, the matter is still pending as the FIA's 'Contract Recognition Board' convenes on Saturday to determine which team has a more solid hold on the 24-year-old Briton. The CRB, according to the F1 paddock, is most likely to rule in BAR's favor, thus compelling Williams to pay compensation to get their man, or leaving Button to spend a presumably acrimonious final year at Brackley.
Liuzzi to Ferrari/SauberUPDATE #3 This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today. (GMM) Ferrari may not have signed a contract with F3000 champion Vitantonio Liuzzi, a comment of technical director Ross Brawn indicated. It was reported recently that the young Italian will spend 2005 in a scarlet test cockpit in view of ultimately succeeding Maranello's world champion Michael Schumacher. But Brawn, at Suzuka, passed over the Liuzzi topic with thrift. ''I don't think there is (a contract),'' he told a post-race reporter. Liuzzi, 23, dominated F1's support category in 2004 and completed a test for Ferrari-powered 'B' team Sauber. 10/05/04 (GMM) Reigning F3000 champion Vitantonio Liuzzi will spend 2005 in a Ferrari cockpit, a source in the Italian media has revealed. The Italian racer, who totally dominated F1's support category this season and was a contender for a Sauber seat, has signed a long-term deal to test in 2005 but ultimately race for the Maranello-based world champions. Liuzzi, 23 and born in Pescara, may graduate from a season of testing to race for Sauber (who uses Ferrari engines) in 2006, the source reported, or even be Hinwil's 'third' driver next year. 08/31/04 This Grandprix.com article says Liuzzi had a secret seat fitting at Sauber, but as we have reported, the deal is basically done - Liuzzi to Sauber in 2005. 08/26/04 We have it on good word that the ink has all but dried on a contract for Italian F3000 sensation Vitantonio Liuzzi to race for Sauber in 2005.
Will Liuzzi do Champ Car in 2005?UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'speculation' today based on reports Liuzzi did not sign with Ferrari. See other rumor. 10/05/04 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today based on reports in Italy that Liuzzi has signed a contract for Ferrari. 09/15/04 With reports this morning that Jacques Villeneuve has likely signed to drive for Sauber in 2005, this is bad news for Italian Formula 3000 sensation Vitantonio Liuzzi, who is due to test for the Swiss team at Jerez this week. He had hoped to be racing in F1 in 2005 and may now have to settle for a job next year as a Formula 1 test driver as Peter Sauber says there is no plan to replace Sauber's other driver Felipe Massa. Liuzzi dominated F3000 this year much like Juan Montoya did years ago. Another option for him might be to race in Champ Car in 2005 as several F3000 champions before him have. Formula GP2 might be another option.
Brit GP looking good, to lose July date?UPDATE Sports minister Richard Caborn, who has been involved in talks behind the scenes to try and save the British Grand Prix, told The Press Association on Tuesday that he was optimistic the race would be on the FIA's first draft of the calendar. “I am very hopeful that the British Grand Prix will be on the calendar for next year even though it may be subject to contract,” he said. “I am also hopeful that we will get a two-year deal which will allow us to sit down and plan to realize the full potential of the Silverstone estate. "I would very much welcome its inclusion as it would be a major step in the right direction." 10/12/04 (GMM) The next challenge for a troubled British Grand Prix, is securing its traditional July race date, according to Max Mosley. Formula One's governing president said at Suzuka he has 'no reason to believe' that Bernie Ecclestone and Silverstone chiefs can not pave a solution to the current GP-threat. More pressing, the FIA's Mosley explained, is finding a summer spot on a rapidly filling 2005 calendar. He said: ''It's the date (for a reinstated British grand prix) that's going to be the problem.'' In 2000, a disastrous Brit GP - affected by incessant rain and miles of mud - was staged at Easter. The FIA, at a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris (Wednesday), will publish a provisional version of next year's F1 calendar.
Will Imola and/or Magny-Cours get the axe? Turkey's F1 future is still not definite, as the FIA still has to approve the race. However, should they give it the thumbs up, Ecclestone either has to scrap two races or get the teams to approve the longer season. While Mosley and the teams support Silverstone, Imola's future is not secure. Despite efforts from the Italian government and Ferrari to persuade him, Jean Todt does not seem too concerned about the San Marino GP.
In Japan he told Reuters: "Imola doesn't belong to us. The Formula One calendar doesn't belong to us. Of course there are some grands prix that we do prefer, but we are talking about a worldwide championship. "If we are talking about covering the whole world with new markets, then you must accept Grands Prix like China, like Bahrain and like Turkey. You cannot have an unlimited number of Grands Prix, you must accept to lose some in Europe." Set in the French countryside, miles away from any major city, the future of Magny-Cours is just as uncertain with the track already not a favorite to sponsors and teams. Formula One awaits news on Bernie Ecclestone's draft calendar for 2005, which will be submitted to the FIA on Wednesday.
Labonte to announce semi-retirementUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See Hot News item. 10/10/04 Hendrick Motorsports has a press conference scheduled with Terry Labonte for Tuesday morning, when Labonte supposedly will announce he is cutting back to a limited schedule for 2005 and 2006. Kyle Busch is slated to be Labonte's full-time replacement, moving up from the Busch Series. Supposedly, Labonte will drive the #44, his first number in NASCAR, while Busch will get the #5. NASCAR.com Buzz10/03/04 Terry Labonte has scheduled a press conference next week to announce his plans. Labonte is expected to announce his semi-retirement and run a partial schedule next year. Tennessean Labonte said Saturday he will run a schedule of at least 10 races each in 2005 and 2006 for Rick Hendrick, his car owner since 1986. A formal announcement will be made at an Oct. 12 press conference at the Hendrick shops. Labonte, who has driven #5 for Hendrick, will switch to car #44, the number he drove for Billy Hagan from 1979-1986. High Point Enterprise
Gene possible Ferrari man Marc Gene is poised to join Ferrari as its second test driver next season, after Williams made the decision not to retain his services beyond the end of this campaign, autosport.com can reveal.
It is understood that Gene will hold talks with Ferrari later this week with a view to joining the world championship winning team alongside Luca Badoer next season, having held preliminary chats with the outfit during recent testing at Jerez in Spain.
Gene has been a test driver at Williams since the start of 2001 and impressed the outfit with his dedication and technical feedback – especially with his work on developing BMW's V10 engines.
He even surprised most of the paddock who had written him off as a race driver with an impressive fifth placed finish in the 2003 Italian Grand Prix as a stand-in for the injured Ralf Schumacher – despite missing the first day of running.
However, his relationship with the Williams team changed this summer when he failed to impress during the French and British Grands Prix as temporary stand-in for Schumacher again. He did not score any points and was replaced by Antonio Pizzonia, who finished three times in the points and was robbed of a podium finish in the Belgian Grand Prix by a gearbox problem.
Sources claim that Williams has decided not to renew Gene's contract beyond the end of this season, but the Spaniard has wasted little time in offering his services elsewhere. He was seen speaking at length to Michael Schumacher at Jerez recently – and is notably absent from the Williams line-up for this week's running at the Spanish circuit. Autosport.com
Daytona testing could be moved to TalladegaUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Despite erroneous media reports, Daytona International Speedway will be the site for NASCAR testing for the 2005 season as well as NASCAR Preseason Fan Fest. "Daytona International Speedway weathered the recent hurricanes and we're looking forward to January testing," said Robin Braig, Daytona International Speedway track president. "Contrary to what fans may have read, "The World Center of Racing" will be the place to see all of your NASCAR favorites as well as the Grand American Series." DIS PR 10/11/04 Daytona 500 testing in January could be moved to Talladega, according to NASCAR sources, because the recent spat of hurricanes has put infield reconstruction at Daytona far behind. Winston Salem Journal
GP2 prospect to test GP2 prospect Clivio Piccione is to test for Arden International at Snetterton next Monday. This would be part of the teams driver evaluation program for next seasons GP2 Championship. Clivio Piccione is thought to be one of the candidate for a seat in the 2005 GP2 series. Clivio Piccione had strong season with Carlin Motorsport in the British F3 Championship.
Hyundai to buy Jaguar - insider (GMM) Korean car manufacturer Hyundai is understood to have commissioned a partner to assess the benefits of buying Ford's careworn Formula One team, we can reveal. There is little doubt that energy drink brand Red Bull is closest to the purchase of the Jaguar Racing outfit, but Ford chiefs might favor a rival carmaker, an analyst suggested. Another insider reported on Tuesday that Chelsea (England) football club owner and Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich never ruled out snapping up a team, and investigated the merits of Paul Stoddart's Minardi squad earlier in 2004. Moreover, Canadian steel company 'Dofasco' is thought also to have expressed interest in Jaguar, based at Milton-Keynes (England). Team principal Tony Purnell skipped the Japanese grand prix to remain in the European time zone for crucial F1 sale negotiations. ''He needs to be nearer the people (in question),'' explained Jaguar's managing director David Pitchforth.
AND, from Grandprix.com - The Hyundai rumor is interesting because the Korean company has had an interest in F1 for some years. The company is growing all the time and has been involved in the WRC since doing a deal in 1998 with Motor Sports Developments Ltd. That deal has now fallen apart and Hyundai has withdrawn to rethink its strategy in F1. The company may return to rallying but it has been linked with F1 several times in recent years, notably when ambitious engine company Asiatech was looking for a buyer. That deal did not happen but there is no doubt that the company harbors serious ambitions to mount its own assault in Grand Prix racing in the future and is rumored to have had an F1 prototype engine on test beds in Korea and was also involved in plans for a Korean Grand Prix.
Kanaan to test BAR? Tony Kanaan revealed in a radio interview in Brazil he may have an F1 test lined up with BAR. The test would be arranged by Honda, who supplies engines for both Tony's Andretti Green IndyCar team and British American Racing. "It's a childhood dream of mine," said the newly crowned IRL champion. "They [Honda] told me the test will happen," probably as a "gift" for Tony's near-perfect 2004 season. The test shouldn't be seen as anything more than that - a gift: "I am signed with AGR until 2008, and my sponsor [7-Eleven] has big plans for us," completed Kanaan. Cassio Cortes
Champ Car on verge of new TV dealUPDATE #3 [Editor's Note: This report agrees with the rumors we have heard, with the race schedule being released while Champ Car is on the other side of the world in Surfers Paradise. The good news is that the rumored TV deal with CBS may be announced in NY City, which we suggested should happen. See below for other details on this rumor.] A source familiar with the negotiations revealed to ESPN.com that Champ Car management has reached a basic time-buy agreement with CBS that will see at least six races televised live on the network in 2005, growing to as many as thirteen races in 2007. The Long Beach Grand Prix may be added as a seventh network race if logistical differences can be ironed out. Scheduled on the final day of The Masters (a CBS institution), the Long Beach start could be moved up to as early as 11 a.m. to facilitate live coverage. The event could be shown on a tape-delay basis [Editor's Note: AutoRacing1 hears that it will be shown taped delayed on CBS in 2005, probably the following Saturday, and live in 2006 and 2007] or shifted to Champ Car's cable partner, which is expected to be SPEED Channel. Champ Car's 2005 race schedule is slated for release on Oct. 21 while an announcement of the TV package is being planned for Nov. 1 in New York. ESPN.com09/30/04 Another reader chimes in, Dear Autoracing1, I just read the comments in the Rumors section concerning the reports, "Champ Car on verge of new TV deal." I feel that your reply is a bit harsh, and yes, I too am concerned that the inability of a consensus decision is hurting the future growth of Champ Car. What the series needs now, more than ever before is a strong leader (singular person a la Bernie) to drive through a vision toward an ultimate goal. A group cannot and will not make sound decisions unless each voting individual has his best interests in mind. A dictator can make decisive moves and correct the resulting problems later. It is much easier to control a ball if it is rolling than it is while it is static. Los tres amigos need to hand over the power to a singular person to drive the series toward success. What have we learned from the Spike TV deal is that it does not best serve Champ Car. That decision is in the past, and it is time to move forward, NOW. Dan Wilk, Grosse Pointe Park, MI09/30/04 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I can't watch another Champ Car race on SPIKE TV. It's just horrible. Is the CBS deal really going to happen for 2005? Stanley Myhoff, Vancouver Dear Stanley, Last we heard the CBS deal was close to happening, however until it's signed we suppose anything could happen. We don't know what the delay is but can only surmise it's the same problems that eventually brought CART to its demise, internal disagreements. If OWRS manages to blow it and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory yet again, perhaps it's just time to pull the plug and put its many fans out of their misery. Mark C.09/21/04 Leaked by Robin Miller briefly on his radio show The Truth, this week, we hear that Champ Car will not be on the all-men's channel Spike TV in 2005, which was a bad idea in the first place. An all-men's channel cuts out 50% of your viewing audience immediately (i.e. few women viewers) and their TV ratings suffered because of it. How clueless is Spike? Their website still says - "Spike TV is the cable television home for the 2004 CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES. The network telecasts the entire 16-race schedule of one of the most popular racing circuits from venues all over the world, from Long Beach, CA, to Seoul, South Korea." Psst, someone tell them there's only 14 races this year, not 16, and if they send their camera crews to Seoul, they won't have much to film. Champ Car was talking to NBC but those talks never got real serious. We hear a deal is close that will see Champ Car back on CBS and SPEED TV in 2005. Qualifying will be back on SPEED as well, but it will be a shortened, tape-delayed show. The exact number of races on CBS is not yet finalized but we hear around 6 or 7 for the first year back on network TV. After a horrible 2004 international TV presence, an excellent international TV deal is also in the works, including a new deal in Mexico. Attempts are on-going to finish the deal in time for an announcement this weekend in Las Vegas, along with the 2005 race schedule, but it is not certain the deals will all come together in time. Champ Car will be missing out on one of their biggest PR opportunities in their history if they don't get this deal done by Las Vegas. After that they will be stuck with a simple press release announcing the deal because doing it at the last two races of the year out of the country will be a waste of time. Many times in the past Champ Car has been good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Will history repeat itself? Mark C.
Barrichello could go to BAR This Autosport article says, Although the paddock rumor mill makes BAR a pre-case favorite to win the Button contract case, another suggestion is that if Jenson does go to Williams, BAR will offer a number one seat to Rubens Barrichello, who has spent five long years in Michael Schumacher's shadow at Ferrari. Ferrari, so the story goes, would then plug-in F3000 Champion Vitantonio Liuzzi, whose hopes of a Sauber seat evaporated with the signing of Jacques Villeneuve.
Ross Brawn, however, took no time at all to blow the scenario out of the water. “I think that's media speculation at its highest - but it's worth trying!” he said with a smile when asked the question at Suzuka.
Brawn admitted, however, that Ferrari would fear Barrichello in a number one role with a rival team. “I think we would,” he said. “He's an excellent driver and has progressed well in five years because he can seen what Michael can do, and that's helped him. He's a much fitter driver than he was when he came to us. I think he saw the levels of fitness Michael could achieve, and I think his composure is excellent considering what he has to deal with. He handles himself very well both within the team and outside it. So, yes, we would fear Rubens if he was driving for another team and we'll make sure it doesn't happen….”
Brawn denied the existence of any contractual position with Liuzzi. “I don't think there is one,” he said. “We are very happy with Rubens and I hope he's very happy with the team. I've often said he's got the toughest job in F1 because he's compared all the time with Michael. He's got a tough job and we are very happy with what he does. We pride ourselves on our continuity and Rubens is a critical part of that. There's no need for us to change.” [Editor's Note: However, contracts can be bought out, and given the chance to be a #1 driver, Barrichello may be tempted.]
Midland also eyes Cosworth Midland F1 boss Alex Shnaider has not ruled out a bid for engine supplier Cosworth. Shnaider announced on Friday that his Russian-backed Midland Group would be entering a team in the 2006 world championship. He has struck a deal with Dallara to build chassis but has yet to find an engine supplier. Asked by ITV F1 commentator James Allen whether he was considering buying Cosworth, who have been put up for sale by Ford, Shnaider said: “Yes, we are looking at it.”
Toyota to enter V8 Supercars Rumors in Australia suggest that Toyota is considering entering the V8 Supercar series - the NASCAR of Australia. “We think it's probably time to consider a third manufacturer joining the championship,” Tony Cochrane said in the Saturday press conference at Mount Panorama. Cochrane pointed to the example in the US where Toyota has joined the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. “NASCAR has embraced additional manufacturers, they've done a very good job of it, we're going to try and learn a bit from that. We think the championship has now arrived at a point in time where that is going to be a consideration, it's certainly big enough and we realize that we're popular enough.” When asked if he had a specific manufacturer in mind, Cochrane joked “I don't think it'll be Skoda,” and later conceded that Mitsubishi and Toyota are the leading candidates.
2005 NASCAR schedule adjustments The NASCAR Nextel Cup schedule is set for 2005, but according to some insiders, there's a push in the garage to qualify on Saturdays next season. A Friday practice session, followed by Saturday practice and then qualifying is apparently being talked about. The cars would then be impounded after qualifying, and would start on Sunday with the same tires and setup used in qualifying on Saturday. The proposal could possibly eliminate some expenses if teams didn't have to travel on Thursdays. It would also put a premium on race setups and do away with special qualifying packages. Another proposed change is later starting times for Sunday races, especially later in the season. Networks may want races to end as prime time Sunday programming begins, and that would call for 3-4 p.m. starts. National Speed Sport News
Are Americans behind Jaguar team bid? Oakwell Associates has admitted that it has a serious intent to acquire Jaguar Racing and its sister company Cosworth Racing from the Ford Motor Company. Oakwell says it wants to enter F1 to enhance its corporate brand and build a dynamic image. Oakwell is a serious company. It is the largest private investment group in the world. It was established in 1999 by South African entrepreneur Mark Paulsmeier and its core business is to invest in high-yield projects. The firm has more than 1200 funding syndicates involved and manages a total of $120bn through four different regional companies.
The company says that its presence in F1 "would be significant as their capital resources and strategic alliances will position Jaguar in the same category as Ferrari, Williams and McLaren" and said that it is negotiating with "an American technology team and former F1 drivers" to finalize its participation. No further details have been announced but the information would seem to suggest that the project could be linked to the American Formula 1 team which was announced in September 2002 at Indianapolis, which was fronted by Dan Gurney and Phil Hill but featured Les Olson, a former marketing director at BAR, in the background. At the time the project was put on hold because money could not be found. However if Oakwell is the backer of the idea, it may be that we will see a fully-funded US racing team. Grandprix.com
British GP could move to Donington The British GP could move to Donington if Silverstone owners, the British Racing Drivers’ Club. cannot agree to terms with the group seeking to promote the race, Brand Synergy. Further talks are planned but Brand Synergy managing director Kim Cockburn said the company had backup plans in case negotiations stall. "We are continuing our negotiations with the BRDC but we have the funding in place to go ahead at Donington Park if need be. "Wherever the race is, we will have to build a new pits and paddock complex so it does not make any difference whether it is at Donington or Silverstone, but obviously Silverstone would be our choice."
Japanese GP:Saturday cancelledUPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact.' Typhoon 22 has been upgraded to Super Typhoon risk status and all Saturday action is cancelled at Suzuka. Race officials have confirmed that pre-qualifying will now begin at 9am on Sunday morning, with official qualifying beginning at 10am. The race will begin as scheduled at 2.30pm local time. 10/08/04 (GMM - Suzuka) FIA and Suzuka officials may cancel all track action scheduled for Saturday.
At time of writing, a decisive meeting is taking place as 'typhoon 22' is upgraded in intensity and now likely to pass directly through Suzuka.
Sources said the track will probably not be opened at all on Saturday so that preparations can be made to protect Suzuka's facilities.
The contingency for a cancelled Saturday is that F1 qualifying will either be staged prior to the grand prix, or not at all.
Giancarlo Fisichella, though - second quickest in practice - won't mind if Friday's practice times are used to determine the grid.
''The car is good out there,'' said the Italian, ''but the conditions were so, so bad.''
He said 'rivers' were running across the circuit, which contributed to Sauber team-mate Felipe Massa's spins both in the morning and afternoon sessions.
''I aquaplaned both times,'' said the Brazilian. ''The second time, I was driving slowly, coming back to the pits, but I hit a big puddle and went off.''
The Polish connection Remember those rumors of a Champ Car race in Poland? Well apparently they may be on hold, but the dream lives. We now hear that Forsythe Racing is in talks with some Polish companies and we may see his team field one or two Polish entries in 2005. Yes, we said one or two. Our sources tell us Forsythe is prepared to run four, and as many as five cars in 2005 if the sponsorship materializes.
2005 F1 scheduleUPDATE We show June 12th for the tentative date for the USGP but a reader informed us that the IMS website has been showing Father's Day weekend (June 19) as their 2005 USGP race date. That's also the weekend local hotels have boosted their rates. 10/07/04 Using Bernie Ecclestone's 19 announced race dates for next year and plugging in past schedules and recent rumors, the following should be the 19-race 2005 F1 schedule. It is possible one race may drop off. Look for an official schedule to be released by the FIA soon. March 6, Australia (Melbourne) March 20, Malaysia (Sepang) April 3, Bahrain April 17, San Marino (Imola) April 24, Europe (Nurburgring) May 8, Spain (Barcelona) May 22, Monaco June 5, Canada (Montreal) June 12, United States (Indianapolis) June 26, France (Magny-Cours) July 3, Britain (Silverstone) July 17, Germany (Hockenheim) July 31, Turkey (Istanbul) August 21, Hungary (Budapest) September 4, Belgium (Spa) September 11, Italy (Monza) September 25, China (Shanghai) October 9, Japan (Suzuka) October 23, Brazil (Sao Paulo)
British firm behind new F1 team? The plans for a new Formula 1 team to be started in 2006 may be coming from a British-registered company but it seems that Russian money is behind the plan. Our sources say that the F1 project will be undertaken by a privately-owned, Guernsey-registered, holding company called Midland Resources Holding. This is the parent company of a group of businesses which trade and invest in the high risk markets of Eastern Europe. It is not clear who owns Midland but the company seems to have its roots in the steel business in Russia, although it has diversified in recent years into a wide variety of different businesses including shipping, property, construction, electricity generation, agriculture and food processing. It has a variety of subsidiaries around the world including the shipping company which is based in Toronto. Midland has invested heavily in Serbia and Montenegro and in 2002 bought the Republic of Armenia's national electricity distribution company for just $37m. The company also owns the Niksic steelworks in Montenegro, which was acquired for $1200 on the understanding that the firm would invest $40m in the facility by 2008. The interest in F1 may have come about because of a recent investment in a Serbian company called Gumaplast, which produces rubber and plastic seals and gaskets for the automotive industry. The firm is also believed to be involved in property development in Toronto, the United States and the UK, including an investment in the consortium which is planning to build a Trump Tower in the Canadian city, in league with US entrepreneur Donald Trump. Grandprix.com
Fernandez needs more money in IRL Adrian Fernandez had an interview with El Norte and Reforma, the interview mainly talks about how Fernandez is getting more wins with less money, so he feels his team is doing a great job. The interesting part of the interview is that there is a quote by Adrian saying that a Champ Car seat in a middle field team costs about 3 million USD per year, but an IRL seat with his performance costs about 8 million USD. Could it be Adrian is trying to get lots of sponsor dollars next year?
British GP set to be saved The British Formula One Grand Prix looks set to be saved with government officials optimistic of a Friday announcement. Talks between Formula One chiefs and Silverstone's owners are understood to be at an advanced stage and a statement is expected before the start of this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka. The Government have refused to use taxpayers' money to bail out the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) but it is thought an incentives package for the circuit, arranged through the East Midlands Development Agency, could smooth the way for an agreement. The move should enable the BDRC to bridge the 800,000-pound gap between their offer and Formula One's demands for the rights to stage the British Grand Prix. Sports minister Richard Caborn has been reluctant to act as a mediator between BRDC president Jackie Stewart and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone but has facilitating talks between the parties. A source close to the minister told the Press Association: "He is now much more confident that a deal can be delivered than he was last week. The two sides have been back in useful negotiations and they both know the grand prix is too big to drop for both of them. "Although it is not 100% yet, he has high hopes there will be an announcement before the end of the week." The final deadline for a deal is next Wednesday, October 13, when next year's provisional Formula One calendar goes before the FIA world motorsports council meeting. Only 17 out of a possible 19 dates are on the list so Ecclestone has left space for Silverstone to be included if he so wishes. F1-Live.com
NASCAR will run in rain in Mexico The NASCAR Busch Series could race in the rain next year when the second-tier stock car category visits Mexico City in March. The cars will have to be prepared to race on rain tires and equipped with windshield wipers, defoggers and brake lights. Autosport Magazine
Briatore or Kalkhoven might buy Cosworth The future of Cosworth Racing as an F1 engine supplier remains uncertain, despite optimism that it will be sold as a going concern. Insiders say a number of bidders have come forward with offers to buy the company, which supplies engines in Champ Cars, IRL IndyCar, Superbikes and a number of other series in addition to F1. Cosworth turns over £67 million per year, generating approximately half its income from F1. Speculation has linked Renault F1team principal Flavio Briatore with a buy-out, possibly with a view to becoming an F1 engine supplier to private teams. Other potential buyers remain interested in Cosworth’s non-F1 divisions. Kevin Kalkhoven, founder member of the Open Wheel Racing Series which runs Champ Car, admitted talks were continuing as to the future of Cosworth’s supply of the 2.65-litre V8 turbo XFE motors for next year and beyond. He said: “We have been in a lot of discussions with Cosworth regarding our engine supply over the next couple of years. But that’s as far as it has gone.” Autosport Magazine [Editor's Note: We expect that whoever buys the Jaguar F1 team will get first crack at Cosworth. If they don't take it we suspect it might be split into two companies, one in Europe for F1 and one in the USA for the IRL (Chevy engine) and Champ Car.]
F1 loses Johnnie Walker This week's Autosport Magazine reports that drinks company Diagio has re-thought its plan to enter F1 with its Johnnie Walker brand. Diagio had been close to deals with BAR and McLaren, but the board decided against entering F1 because of its strong connections with tobacco sponsors.
Can you say Sir Bernie? According to the Daily Telegraph's 'Spy' column, Bernie Ecclestone is thought to be on the list of sporting honors (to knight Bernie Sir Bernie) to be presented for Prime Minister Tony Blair's approval by cabinet minister Richard Caborn. Wouldn't it be ironic if the British government were to bestow this honor on Bernie at the same time Bernie is screwing with the British GP, the oldest GP on record?
1000 HP engines in F1 in 2005 Japanese engine manufacturer Honda believes it can raise the standard in the Formula 1 powers takes by hitting the mythical 1000bhp engine figure some time next season. In an exclusive interview with Autosport magazine this week, Honda's F1 project leader Takeo Kiuchi believes the power figure not reached since the latter years of turbo engines in the 1980's is now achievable. “It's within reach,” said Kiuchi, who has no doubts about the amount of progress Honda believes it can make over the winter. “Next year, I think we will have the most powerful engine in F1. The difference between this year's and next year's engine is bigger than between this year's and last's.” Autosport
England, France and San Marino provisional The publishing of the 2005 Formula 1 calendar should happen after the forthcoming FIA World Council meeting next week and we hear that when the dates are finally announced there will be three races that will be listed only provisionally, depending on contracts being agreed or money being paid. We believe that the three doubtful dates will be the British, French and San Marino Grands Prix. There are believed to be 19 candidates for races next year with the current 18 events and the new race in Turkey, which will come into the calendar in August. The teams have made it clear to Bernie Ecclestone that they are not interested in doing more than 17 events (which is all they are contracted to do) but will do more if he pays more money. It is thought that Ecclestone will use the fact that the British GP is a cheap race for most teams to get them to agree to an 18th event but it is unlikely that they will go to 19 as he had been hoping. The Formula One group is, of course, keen to have as many races as possible as it earns more revenue from each new race, but very little of that money goes to the teams, which have to rely on their share of income from the TV companies. Grandprix.com
Are Russians behind Dallara F1 project?UPDATE #3 This rumor is close to going to 'fact.' This Autosport article says, An all-new Formula 1 team with cars built and prepared by Italian racing car constructor Dallara will be announced at this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, autosport.com can reveal. And although the outfit is eyeing a 2006 entry, there is growing speculation that it could even be on the grid next year. Dallara has been working behind the scenes for several months now in preparing a chassis and it has been on a massive recruitment drive to bolster its staff and get itself geared up for a full-time F1 effort in time for the start of 2006. The funding for the project is believed to come from either Russian or Canadian backers and an announcement about the plans is expected to be made on Friday – simultaneously in both Japan and Italy.
Under the plans for a 2006 entry, Dallara will build a test chassis and is expected to run with Cosworth engines next year while it gathers data and knowledge of F1 machinery, having not built a full-spec F1 car since an aborted project with Honda in 1999. However, sources claim that Dallara's backers may be keen to get on the grid next year and could be ready to make a bid to buy Jaguar – where they will have a ready-made car in the team's R6 and all the facilities and staff they need to be on the grid in Melbourne next March. Speculation about such a scenario is growing with insiders claiming that hopes for a Red Bull purchase of Jaguar based around Toyota engines are now fading – with Toyota chiefs in Japan having ruled out supplying any customer engines to the team in 2005. The reasons for such a decision, just weeks after it was revealed that Toyota was planning to supply customer engines next year, could be because a potential buyer of Jaguar has also offered to take on Cosworth.
09/24/04 It is expected that this weekend at the Chinese Grand Prix Dallara will announce its entry into Formula One for the 2006 season. With the new 2.4-litre V8 engines still a prospect for 2006, Dallara could find themselves entering Formula 1 on a level playing field. In terms of engines, a deal may be in place to test Cosworth engines during 2005 for development reasons. Bridgestone tires seem to be the way Dallara are heading, which is a sensible move. Dallara are one of many teams in the rumors to buy Jaguar Racing, however this does not seem to be the path for Dallara. Dallara will enter Formula 1 on their own accord. There are rumors circulating that Gerhard Berger will head the team in 2006, which will please Bernie Eccelstone who will be sad to see one of his few allies in Flavio Briatore leave. We await the announcement with great anticipation. Daily F1 News08/31/04 We are upgrading this rumor to 'strong' today based on this additional information. There was some excitement at Spa over the stories in circulation that Dallara has been commissioned to build a Formula 1 car for a new team which is aiming to enter the World Championship in 2006. The project is serious with Dallara having already been paid $80m as a downpayment. Recruitment has already started even though there has been no official announcement about who is behind the project. The word at Spa was that there were Russians involved but our sources say that this is not strictly true as the company involved is a Canadian conglomerate which wants to increase its global reach with the specific aim of building up new markets in Europe, Russia and Asia. The company involved is a big player in the steel industry and we believe that the most likely candidate is a firm called Dofasco, which is involved in steel, construction, packaging, distribution and automotive componentry.
The company seems to be right for a global boost. It acquired a new chief executive in the middle of last year and has adopted a strategy of growth by expansion rather than by acquiring rival firms. The company has cash reserves of more than $430m and has a strong cash-flow thanks to booming sales at the moment. The firm made a profit of $110m in the second quarter of the year.
The project is not going to be officially launched until an engine deal has been agreed but it looks like the team will either have a customer Cosworth or will become the first customer for Toyota. That decision will be made shortly and we would expect to have an announcement before the end of the current season. Details of who would run the team are not yet decided. Grandprix.com
08/27/04 The word on the street in F1 circles is that the new Dallara F1 car may have been commissioned by one of the Russian oligarchs. It is not yet clear which one of the billionaire businessmen is involved but the obvious suggestions would be Chelsea Football Club's Roman Abramovich and Nikolai Smolenski, the 24-year-old who recently bought TVR. Our sources however say that neither is involved and that the project is headed one of the barons from the metal industry. There are a number of likely candidates for such a project including 37-year-old Alexei Mordashov, the chairman of the steel company Severstal. He is much more international than some of the other oligarchs having studied for an MBA at Northumbria University in England). He is fluent in English and in German. He is also keen to promote the Russian car industry. The other man who might be involved is Oleg Deripaska, the head of RusAl, the world's second-largest aluminum producer. Deripaska owns 75% of the firm and is also owner of Russia's largest car manufacturer. Grandprix.com
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