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Will Champ Car adopt the new F1 wing? Dear AutoRacing1.com, Those new proposed wing designs for F1 that allow for more passing look fantastic. Any chance that Champ Car can make a few tweaks to their new Panoz car design to include such wing? God knows that they could use more passing (especially in those tight street races like Surfers). Love your site. Drew Sturrock, A rabid Champ Car fan.
Dear Drew, Funny you should ask. When I was speaking to Tony Cotman this past weekend in Surfers he said, "The beauty of the new car being announced so early is that we have time to incorporate neat things we always wanted to do but could not. We're open to all suggestions." If the new F1 wing works as F1 claims, I suppose it's worth a look by Champ Car and Elan, but realize it won't be as effective on the slow street circuits as compared to the high-speed F1 road circuits. It would be effective on ovals. Can't say I'm particularly fond of the looks of that new dual-wing setup, but if it allows for more passing it may be worth the sacrifice. Mark C.
NASCAR eyes Calgary and Montreal, NO!UPDATE #5 NASCAR announced its Craftsman Truck Series 2006 schedule yesterday and there are no Canadian dates. That puts to rest proposals to bring any of the three top NASCAR series to Canada next season. Nextel Cup and NASCAR Busch Series have already published their 2006 calendars and neither includes a race for Canada. Although the possibility was low that NASCAR would bring its Nextel Cup series north, there were several times this past year when series bosses met with Canadian race promoters. 09/10/05 Dear AutoRacing1.com, Please remember that the man writing these Toronto Sun articles, (Dean McNulty), about NASCAR replacing Champ Car in Toronto and Montreal, writes pro-NASCAR/anti-Champ Car articles on a fairly regular basis. He used to write strictly NASCAR columns for The Sun while Dan Proudfoot covered everything else. Now that Proudfoot is no longer there, McNulty still gives huge preps for stock car racing and not much else. He has in fact even written articles before, (about IRL replacing Champ Car in Montreal), stating quotes from people that were not true. The proof was that just a couple days later he had to print another article about it in which the so called quoted people said they had not even talked to McNulty or The Toronto Sun. This so called "professional" will write whatever he feels suits him and NASCAR best, while totally belittling everyone else. Now, I'm not saying that these can't happen, but with Dean McNulty he always tries to make things sound worse for Champ Car than they really are. The sheer notion of 3400lbs stock cars running on the streets of Toronto is absolutely pathetic. If this were to actually happen, myself and many many others would not be watching or attending anymore. Every poll ever taken in Canada shows that Champ Car is still more popular than NASCAR for Canadians. Let's hope Champ Car keeps up their recent successes and stands their ground against NASCAR. Deke McTeer, Twin Lake, MI
09/09/05 This Toronto Sun article says, Molson Breweries has stepped up its efforts to land a NASCAR race -- likely a Craftsman Truck Series event -- in Canada as soon as next season. Three senior Molson Sports & Entertainment executives attended last night's CTS Cheerios/Betty Crocker 200 and have meetings set up today and tomorrow with NASCAR bosses to talk about expansion to Canada.
Steve Smith, Molson's director of operations, said that the sports promotion arm of the brewery giant is going full speed ahead in its efforts to land a major series stock car race.
"It's the worst kept secret in racing that we would like to partner up with NASCAR to promote a race in Canada," Smith said yesterday as he toured Richmond International Raceway's three-quarter-mile track.
Molson Sport & Entertainment president Jo-Ann McArthur has said that plans are already in the works for a CTS race in Calgary.
But news that McArthur is leaving her post at the end of this month, could change those plans.
There have been rumors in the advertising and promotion industry recently that Molson may be getting ready to end its long-time partnership with Champ Car at its two premier racing events -- the Toronto Molson Indy and the Molson Indy Montreal -- and replace them with NASCAR races.
08/30/05 This Edmonton Sun article has more on a possible NASCAR truck race in Calgary. 08/30/05 Molson Sports and Entertainment has become the newest Canadian player in the NASCAR-is-coming-to-Canada game. Molson -- which promotes the Molson Indy Toronto and was the primary sponsor of the Molson Indy Montreal yesterday -- has been in talks for some time with NASCAR officials about bringing a Craftsman Truck Series race to Calgary. Molson Entertainment boss Joann McArthur told the Toronto Sun yesterday that it's her business to be involved with entities such as NASCAR in order to explore any future partnerships that might arise. And that a CTS race for Calgary currently is on the table. "Our discussions with NASCAR (about racing in Calgary) are strictly at the preliminary stage," McArthur told the Sun. "We are talking to them as a leading entertainment promoter in Canada and it's still very preliminary." They have, however, reached the stage where Molson was host this weekend to both NASCAR officials from Daytona Beach and city and provincial politicians from Alberta.
Asked about the nature of her discussions with the Alberta politicos, McArthur said it was more or less just a meet- and-greet opportunity for both groups. "Again, it's just very preliminary," she said. "The lines of communications are being kept open." It is known, though, that Molson would need local political backing to stage a CTS race in Calgary.
Molson has mapped out a potential track that would include the grandstands used for the annual Calgary Stampede. Sources close to Molson said that the Stampede site easily could be turned into a temporary street course that could handle the 36-truck grid. Toronto Sun
[Editor's Note: While everyone was jumping to conclusions that NASCAR was at the Montreal Champ Car race to talk about a race in Montreal, it is quite possible they were simply there to discuss the Truck or Busch race in Calgary that we rumored back in July. Or were they....read next paragraph]
NASCAR race in Canada most likely 2007: NASCAR executives will be closely watching today's Indy-car Champ Car race over the Gilles Villeneuve Formula One road course in the heart of Montreal - because track promoter Normand Legault wants to bring NASCAR racing to the track as soon as possible. NASCAR officials point to 2007 as the most probable season to add Montreal, but they say 2006 remains a possibility, and that option could depend on today's race. The Champ Car series has one more year on its contract to run in Montreal, and the course is apparently available for only two race weekends each year, with the June Grand Prix the other. But Champ Car tour owners could sell or trade their 2006 Montreal date to NASCAR or the France family's International Speedway Corp. Winston Salem-Journal
07/29/05 Word here in San Jose is that Molson Entertainment is talking to NASCAR about a Truck race and possibly a Busch Series race in Calgary, Canada. In fact it is more than just talk. Recall that Champ Car chose Edmonton over Calgary, but that Calgary was a very viable option. Our Molson source tells us that Toronto and Montreal are open wheel towns and that NASCAR will sell better in Calgary. That same source tells us that NASCAR told them they would not bring the Nextel Cup series to Canada for 3 to 5 years. We assume ditto for Mexico as they are using their ladder series to prime the pump.
Bia Figueiredo in F1’s future? Bia who, at the age of 20, is tipped to join the ranks of her country's greats - Senna, Piquet, Barrichello. She has already beaten the boys from Brazil at their own game. Now she's ready to take on the world.
In 2001, She was 16 and her rivals in São Paulo's kart scene - all male - had been suffering the obvious taunt for eight years: 'Beaten by a girl ... again?' Every Brazilian in F1, from Emerson Fittipaldi to Rubens Barrichello, came from go-karting. And in Sao Paolo go-karting is a tough sport. There is fierce drivers and real stiff competition. It's the toughest place in the country to race. And for Bia to do as well as she has says a lot about her abilities as a race car driver. She began her racing career at the age of 7. Since then she has had 42 wins, 20 pole positions and two track records. In 2004, on route to winning the Best Rookie Title in the Brazilian Formula Renault Championship she set the fastest lap speed ever recorded in the series.
Now she is 20 and still winning. 3 of her 42 wins have come this year in the Brazilian Formula Renault Championship where she currently sits in third place, just 25 points behind Championship leader Nelson Merlo. She is uncompromising on the track, mixing meticulous craft with thrilling Montoya-like overtaking. Previous occupiers of her seat in the Augusto Césario team car include ex-Jordan and BAR F1 driver Ricardo Zonta and 2002 FedEx CART champion Cristiano da Matta. One day soon, the image of her long hair spilling out of her helmet could open motor sport to new audiences, sponsors and perhaps a whole new lease of life. For in Brazil she is being spoken of as the possible future star of Formula 1. The Observer Magazine
Wheldon to go for Honda joyride Dan Wheldon will get a Honda F1 test drive sometime in 2006, according to American speculation. The Indy 500 winner and newly crowned IRL champion, an Englishman, can expect the same sort of 'prize' drive as enjoyed by previous title winner Tony Kanaan, who drove the BAR last month at Jerez (Spain).
''In fact, every future IRL champion should expect (the same) now that Honda will supply all engines to the tour,'' 'Racing Press' predicted.
At the very least, Kanaan, 30, took a positive experience back across the Atlantic of his turn with 950 horsepower and carbon braking.
''The first two laps nearly took my head off,'' the Brazilian giggled in reference to the drive in a BAR. ''The braking and acceleration are so much greater (and the F1 team) has a lot more engineers (than in IRL).''
He added: ''I think a lot of IRL drivers would like a drive.'' [Editor's Note: No test times were released from Kanaan's test so it is concluded his lap times were nothing to write home about. You can't expect a driver to spend years doing 100% throttle racing to be fast in an F1 car.]
Mecachrome pitches IRL engine Engineering firm Mecachrome, last seen in F1 with their Renault-based Supertec engines, has been trying to drum up interest of late in an IRL engine they plan to build. Representatives from the French company have been attending IRL events in the hope of selling the engine to a manufacturer. Our spies tell us the company is also in talks with the Skip Barber Racing School to provide a suitable engine platform for their next generation carbon chassis school and race series cars, which would be branded by a manufacturer. Tatuus and '07 Champ car builders Elan technologies are in the running to produce the modular concept chassis. Grandprix.com [Editor's Note: If Cosworth, who has a proven IRL engine can't find a manufacturer to badge it, and if the IRL was rejected by all manufacturers when they reached out to them, we doubt Mecachrome will find someone to badge their unproven engine.]
NASCAR mulls TNT's TV role NASCAR is trying to create a six-race package for TNT into its next Nextel Cup television package, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal reports. Sources told the publication that NASCAR is looking at taking three races from Fox and three from ABC/ESPN for TNT, although the races have not been identified. In this week's issue, writer Andy Bernstein also says that NASCAR wants to give Fox a chance to bid before awarding the entire Busch Series schedule to ESPN for its ESPN2 channel, a move that was reported earlier. Bernstein also reports that NASCAR has told networks that it must have further discussions with Fox before making any final decisions on the new TV package. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
Can Team Australia concept work for all of Champ Car? A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, I read your article about mimicking the Team Australia concept and while I understand the intent, given the makeup of the existing teams, I don't see how it is possible to convert them into teams based on countries that Champ Car races in. Help me understand. Josh Levinbred, Carlsbad, CA.
Dear Josh, As you point out, it won't be easy, and nothing says that the existing teams have to convert to a country-based team unless it makes sense, as it did in the case of Walker Racing and the Team Australia marriage.
Let's examine what geographically-based teams are needed, be it a new team that comes into the series, or an existing team that adopts a country.
Venues/Countries Australia - Team Australia already in place with Walker Racing Canada - Forsythe Racing was the defacto Canadian team when they had Players backing and it worked well. Champ Car must find the next Players. China - potential Beijing race in 2007, Chinese driver in Champ Car a must for 2006, Team China a goal for 2007 Japan - Potential Otaru race in 2007, Japanese driver a must in Champ Car for 2006, Team Japan a goal for 2007 South Korea - Inaugural race in Ansan in 2006, South Korean driver a must in Champ Car for 2006 ahead of race in October. Team South Korea a goal for 2007. Mexico - Already two races in Mexico, currently have two full-time Mexican drivers, Team Mexico a goal. HVM was the defacto Mexican team and for awhile it worked until the sponsorship dried up. Where is Carlos Slim when you need him? USA - Champ Car has several existing teams that can adopt the Team USA or a City title. For example, Newman/Haas Racing could be Team Chicago USA. Several teams can adopt a Team Indy - I, Team Indy - II, etc. title. RuSPORT can be Team Denver USA since they are based near Denver. Others - With DHL and Timo Glock, Rocketsports is halfway there with Team Germany. We can see Champ Car racing in the Middle East someday. Perhaps a Team Dubai? Champ Car has two French drivers in Bourdais and Philippe, so someday perhaps a Team France.
Bottom line is that every team should adopt a country or a city that Champ Car races in....as it makes sense because this will generate local pride, and local media attention, something that is so important for every successful venue. Champ Car said it was going to use this strategy, but has not focused on it yet. We assume they will take a harder look at this in the off-season. Mark C.
Why IRL really isn't returning to Fontana When in doubt, follow the money. According to a report by the Ridgecrest Daily Independent, Fontana was dropped "due to hefty franchise fees that reportedly exceeded ticket sales."
Rudd to the No. 42? Speculation has run rampant around what Ricky Rudd's plans are for next season, but thus far he's kept quiet. But I [Yahoo Sports] heard an unconfirmed rumor Friday at Martinsville that perhaps makes the most sense of any buzz that I've heard in a long time. Instead of retiring at the end of this year, Rudd could leave the #21 car to drive the #42 car [Rudd ran for Texaco with RYR 2000-2002] for Chip Ganassi next season. Jamie McMurray would be released from the final year of his contract with Ganassi so that he can drive the #97 Ford for Roush Racing, thus freeing up Kurt Busch to get out of his contract with Roush one year early to replace Rusty Wallace in the #2 Dodge next season. Sources indicate that Ganassi could also receive payment from the Roush camp, which in turn likely would receive funds from Penske Racing South and primary sponsor Miller Lite for Busch's early release to replace Wallace. From what I've [Yahoo Sports] heard, Texaco Havoline is not pleased with having McMurray as a moody, unhappy lame-duck driver in 2006 and has been applying pressure to Ganassi to let McMurray go. Texaco Havoline would then build a significant one-year farewell tour marketing campaign around Rudd. As for the Wood Brothers, John Andretti [denied by the team] is rumored to be a possible one-year fill-in until Jon Wood is ready to go full-time on the Cup level in 2007. The #21 car still needs sponsorship for next season, which is one more thing Rudd would not want to worry about. Rudd added that he has no plans to race in the Busch or Craftsman Truck ranks. Yahoo Sports
New tire rules and qualifying rules proposed for F1 Formula One will introduce a new qualifying format and revert to tire changes for the start of next season after a positive meeting of the Formula One Commission in London on Monday.
A spokesman for the governing body, the FIA, confirmed that a knockout proposal is set to be introduced for qualifying and that the single tire rule introduced this year will be scrapped after just one season.
It is understood that the qualifying format was voted in unanimously by the Commission while the return to tire changes received some opposition but was carried through in the meeting.
The results of the vote will now be passed to the FIA World Motorsport Council when they meet in Rome on Wednesday for a final confirmation but it is understood that Wednesday's vote will merely be a formality. This is rumor until final approval.
Schumacher may try MotoGP bike With all the fuss surrounding Valentino Rossi’s testing for Ferrari, it was only natural for the Scuderia’s biggest star to ask for some switching of his own: Michael Schumacher will test a Ducati Desmosedici MotoGP bike at the Mugello circuit in Italy today.
"If Valentino tests the Ferrari, then some day I could race on the bikes," the German was quoted as saying by the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.
Besides being geographically close to Ferrari, Ducati shares the Scuderia’s Marlboro backing. The Italian team won two races this season with rider Loris Capirossi. More at SPEEDTV
F1 banks to get $460m bonus Both Bernie Ecclestone and three banks, the shareholders of F1's holding company, are set to split a whopping $610 million.
According to the British 'Independent on Sunday' newspaper, company accounts show that dividends of $460m for the banks, and $150m for Ecclestone's family trust, are now available after a six year wait.
''The decision to refinance the (1999 $1.4bn F1) bond and declare a dividend is now in (Bayerische Landesbank)'s hands,'' the press report said.
Elsewhere, the F1 supremo leant his support to an online petition that is calling for the knighthood of former FIA/F1 doctor, Sid Watkins.
''He deserves a knighthood without a doubt,'' 74-year-old Ecclestone, referring to the sidwatkins.co.uk campaign, told f1.com.
Thousands, including Damon Hill, Sir Frank Williams, Murray Walker, Flavio Briatore, Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Newey, have already signed the petition.
Dubai and Honda’s ’b’ teamUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Dubai based 'Emirates Airline' has denied that it is involved in setting up a new formula one team. It had been suggested that the airline, originally linked to the stillborn 'Dubai F1'-McLaren project, had switched its focus to the mysterious 'B' team involving Honda.
''When it comes to sponsorship,'' a senior vice president at the airline, Mike Simon, told the 'Arabian Business' publication, ''I can deny that Emirates is interested in (formula one).''
He said Emirates - also linked to McLaren-Mercedes' possible 'b' entry for 2007 - had 'declined' a 'number' of approaches from grand prix teams.
It remains true, however, that Emirates' sponsorships of the World Cup and the America's Cup will soon end. The airline is run by Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum -- the brother of the 'A1' founder.
Emirates also sponsors English football, horse racing, cricket, golf and rugby.
Simon insisted: ''All of (this) keep(s) us pretty busy.''
10/12/05 The latest gossip in the F1 rumor mill is that the failed 'Dubai F1' project is involved in Honda's mysterious eleventh team for 2006.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the brother of the 'A1 grand prix' founder and involved in the Emirates airline, is reportedly at the helm of the latest F1 team link.
The unnamed and unknown team's owners, though, are already facing opposition from within pitlane, with departing Minardi boss Paul Stoddart claiming that the 'Concorde' agreement would prevent the team from running a version of the 2005 spec BAR.
''To just sell the intellectual property rights ... doesn't actually get around the problem,'' the Australian F1 principal claimed.
Former driver and F1 pundit Martin Brundle agrees that the existence of the enigmatic team seems 'unusual.
''Secrets are difficult to keep in the paddock,'' said the Englishman. ''I would be shocked if they could already have something under way so quickly. It would not surprise me if the project is delayed until 2007.''
Major revamp for F1 car of the future Formula 1’s governing body has unveiled a radical new aerodynamic concept which it believes will transform the quality of the racing, possibly as soon as 2007. (See this Hot News Item for images of proposed wing)
Acting on the results of a detailed survey of F1 fans that highlighted the lack of overtaking as a key concern, the FIA and its technology partner AMD have come up with an innovative solution called the centerline downwash generating (CDG) wing.
Artists’ impressions of the new car reveal a similar front wing to that on current F1 machinery but a low-slung, cut-away rear wing that appears to have a piece removed from the middle.
The primary aim is to reduce the phenomenon known as ‘dirty air’ which makes it difficult for Formula 1 cars to follow each other closely and thus to overtake.
The new wing shape is designed to change the way the air flows over the back of the car so that cars following behind are much less affected by the loss of front downforce and aerodynamic stability than is currently the case.
If successful, this would mean that cars could run in close proximity even through fast corners, a situation that has not been possible since the early 1990s – dramatically improving the prospects for overtaking.
“This new research is important for the future of Formula 1,” said FIA president Max Mosley.
“By introducing the CDG wing we can give motorsport fans exactly what they have asked for: wheel-to-wheel racing with much more overtaking.”
The FIA intends the CDG wing, together with wider wheels and slick tires aimed at increasing mechanical grip, to form part of the 2008 technical regulations.
However, their introduction could be brought forward by a year with the agreement of the teams.
“It is our hope that the teams will collaborate with us in the optimization of this radical new idea so that the aerodynamic benefits can be introduced into Formula 1 in 2007 rather than having to wait until 2008,” said Mosley. ITV/F1
No. 30 for Casey Mears? Casey Mears says he'd love to have the #42 next season if Jamie McMurray leaves, but that's simply "not an option." Owners points for each car number determine provisionals, and Mears' #41 will be given to 2006 rookie Reed Sorenson next season to enable him to make each race. So where does that leave Mears? He'll have to rely on his qualifying prowess--and hope he doesn't run into mechanical issues. Mears was initially expected to drive the #39 next season but now says he'll be in the #30; Richard Childress plans to give up the number. Sporting News
Robby Gordon and Honda Robby Gordon has had a rough ride of it this season, as the stock-car tour's lone owner-driver. But in a most curious twist, Honda appears to be a looming player in the game. Gordon said that John Menard, the wealthy home-improvements businessman who owns the engine-building operation in England, Menard Engineering, that supplies his Nextel Cup motors, is negotiating a sale of that division to Honda for a second Formula One program. "But it won't affect our (Cup) engines next season," Gordon said. "Menard will continue to provide the engines, and he will also be a sponsor for 13 races." The Honda-Menard deal is figured to be part of an effort by the Japanese car maker to deal with Toyota in F-1. Menard is the father of Paul Menard, who is expected to move up to a part-time Cup ride with Dale Earnhardt Inc. next season. Winston Salem Journal
Da Matta to drive for Ganassi? David Phillips is reporting that Cristiano da Matta may be driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing should he make a return to Champ Car next year. This of course in spite of the fact Ganassi says he is not running in Champ Car. We hear otherwise and the photo of Ganassi's truck in Champ Car's garage that we published was indeed real, that we can assure you. SPEEDTV
Fruit of the Loom gone Robby Gordon Motorsports has replaced Fruit of the Loom with a to-be-announced sponsor for 10 races in 2006. Harrah's, Jim Beam and Menards will return in some capacity for next season. All the races are covered with a primary sponsor for 2006, but the team is looking for associate sponsors. NASCAR Scene Magazine
Team Australia to announce Atlantic driverUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' now. Derrick Walker's Team Australia announced that 19-year old Australian James Davison from Melbourne will pilot one of the team's Champ Car Atlantic cars in 2006.
"It was a dream of mine to race in the Champ Car World Series and now I am one-step closer and I am looking forward to the challenge," said Davison. "There are more realistic opportunities in the USA compared to Europe and I like the American philosophy of motor racing. When Team Australia first entered into Champ Car it was very exciting. It is the concept Australian motor sport has been crying out for." 10/22/05 We have it on good word that Team Australia will announce their first of two Champ Car Atlantic drivers for 2006 today. We expect the driver to be Australian. Stay tuned....
Seen in Australia - III We ran into former Toyota Atlantic team owner Keith Hylton in Surfers Paradise. He has been at other Champ Car races recently as well. We assumed he might be looking to start an Atlantic's team again but he tells AutoRacing1.com that his goal is to start a Champ Car team in 2007 if he can raise the money.
Champ Car closes on race in PhiladelphiaUPDATE #15 Spotted leaving Philadelphia on an airplane to Indianapolis Friday afternoon was Champ Car's Joe Chrnelich, presumably in town to put the final touches on a race deal. They are still trying to finish things in time for a September 2006 race. We assume it's too late for a July 4th weekend date, but anything can be done if they really want to do it. Mark C.08/18/05 Below are images showing the proposed Ben Franklin Parkway Champ Car track. It measures a reasonable 1.85-miles in length and is a good layout that provides for passing. It also would be quite spectacular as long as the politicians don't cave in to special interest groups who can spoil anything.
Preferred Philadelphia Champ Car circuit
08/14/05 We did a bit of digging in Denver and found that the primary reason why the Philadelphia race would be in September instead of July 4th weekend is the fact that it would give Champ Car races on four consecutive weekends and six races in a seven week time span. That would be very difficult. The only saving grace for the July 2nd date is the fact that Cleveland, Philadelphia and Toronto are all within a reasonable driving distance from one another on consecutive weekends. Having it in September fills one of the gaps in the schedule and the weather is a bit more pleasant in September so the race could be held during the day. A night race on July 2nd with 4th of July fireworks, however, would be simply spectacular. Philadelphians turn out in the hundreds of thousands for bike races, marathons, food festivals and the like. If done right, the Philadelphia event has the potential to instantly become one of the top-3 events on the Champ Car calendar.
08/12/05 AutoRacing1.com has learned that a Memorandum of Understanding should be signed soon with Champ Car for the Philadelphia race. We are hearing that the race might run in September the first year (possibly 2006) and then move to July 4th weekend after that. 08/10/05 Our sources in Philadelphia are telling us that a decision to hold the race in Philadelphia may not be known until October, which means you should not expect to see it on the 2006 Champ Car schedule to be released in Denver. And we still don't know if the first race will be in 2006 or 2007. Mark C. 08/04/05 Below are some 2D and 3D images of the two leading sites in Philadelphia. As you can see from the 3D image of Fairmount Park, is closest to center city Philadelphia and the preferred site with regard to location. The Stadium site is not as picturesque and does not showcase the city as well.
Left Three images Fairmount Park, right two images of stadium area Our left two photos of Fairmount Park only show the southeastern tip of the park, known as the Ben Franklin Parkway. Fairmount Park winds its way up both sides of the Schuylkill River and includes the Mann Music Center (an open air theater), the Philadelphia Zoo, The Art Museum and famous Boathouse Row. Fairmount Park is the largest city park in the world at over 9200 acres. In the past, vintage races have been held in Fairmount Park.
Max Mosley to win re-election With Paul Stoddart conveniently removed from the F1 paddock for opening his mouth and calling for Max Mosley's resignation, Mosley’s election for another 4-year term as FIA President is now a mere formality since he will go unchallenged on his way to a fourth term ahead of motorsport’s international governing body reports Autosport-Atlas. “The deadline for any candidate to stand against him has passed," an FIA spokesman was quoted as saying.
IRL pitched DHL tooUPDATE We have learned a bit more about the history of the DHL sponsorship in the USA. The IRL pitched DHL a year before Champ Car got involved. It was with the Global Mail group. They had an agreement that was set aside when Timo got involved. They tried to get him to go to the IRL and his manager would not budge.
The Penske deal in the ALMS is between Global Mail in Germany and Porsche, they are switching from UPS to DHL for the support of $1.5m. just as we suspected - a typical Penske business-to-business deal.
DHL was told by Porsche that the IRL was twice as popular in the US as Champ Car and had twice the TV audience......largely due to the bump the IRL gets from the Indy 500. Both Porsche and DHL went to the Laguna Seca ALMS race and were less than dazzled by the attendance. There is no decision about Champ Car for next year, it will depend on F1 and other business issues.
The recent IRL pitch to DHL is to the Express division in the US. Our sources tell us it is never going to happen. 10/21/05 We are hearing that the IRL or the Indy Speedway is or was making a $5 million pitch to DHL for a possible title sponsorship but we assume that was the deal that went to Penske's ALMS team, unless DHL has money to burn.
A Petty back in No. 43 Jeff Green likely will leave Petty Enterprises' #43 car for a chance to drive the NetZero #0 car, team owner Kyle Petty said Thursday. Petty, in town [CAL]to deliver the keynote address at the High Desert Opportunity business conference, said without securing a sponsor for his own #45 car, he couldn't commit to another driver for the 2006 season. "I really think Jeff's going to the Zero [#0] car," Petty said. "We've been very honest with Jeff, very honest with everybody we talk to." The problem, Petty said, is that the team hasn't signed a sponsor to replace Georgia Pacific on the #45 car. General Mills still has a contract to sponsor the #43 car. "Since I own the team, I could go drive the 43 if I wanted to," Petty said. Is that a possibility? Could we see Petty back behind the wheel of his father Richard's old car? "Everything's a possibility," Kyle Petty said. "You've got so much on the table." Petty said as a veteran driver, he understood the need to secure a ride when there was an opportunity. "Jeff's 42, 43 years old. Everybody wants to sign a 19-year-old to drive their car," Petty said. "If you can find a ride, you better be jumping and getting in it. Don't wait and let me hold you back." The bottom line, Petty said, "If it's good for him, it's good for us." Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Meira to Ganassi? Panther?UPDATE Vitor Meira finished seventh in the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series standings this season, five positions ahead of one Rahal Letterman Racing teammate (Danica Patrick) and eight in front of the other (Buddy Rice). But as planning for 2006 begins to take shape, Meira is the driver without a sponsorship program. Team general manager Scott Roembke confirmed the No. 17 car was a financial loss this season, and the team probably won't accept a similar loss in 2006. However, Roembke is hoping to bring back Meira, who finished second to Dan Wheldon in the Indianapolis 500. The Brazilian also finished second at Kentucky and third at Kansas. Meira is exploring alternatives, and he confirmed at Monday night's awards ceremony that Panther Racing is one of the possibilities. Both he and Panther have ties to John Menard, and Panther does not have a sponsor in place. "That would be a great place," Meira said. "It's one of the places we're looking at. But we're talking to anyone and everyone at this point." Indy Star [Editor's Note: Let's see if we get this straight, Meira does not have enough sponsorship from John Manville to run with Rahal yet he does with Panther Racing? Perhaps with a check from Uncle Tony it will happen.] 10/17/05 One rumor making the rounds at the IRL finale at California Speedway is that Rahal Letterman driver Vitor Meira could be taking his John Mansville sponsorship from John Menard to Chip Ganassi's team. He admitted to SPEEDTV.com that his future is uncertain.
"John has been backing me since I started in the IRL and we've got a great relationship and I feel very lucky," said Meira, who replaced the injured Kenny Brack in 2003 and stuck. "I don't think it's enough to run the whole season and that's why Bobby (Rahal) and Scott (Roembke, team manager) would have to find more money to keep me. I'm not sure where I'll be driving, I'd like to stay with Bobby, but I'm hoping for a good ride with somebody." That somebody could be Chip Ganassi.
Newey might switch - report Adrian Newey has indicated that he might switch from McLaren to a rival formula one team in 2006. Amid earlier speculation that Williams may have wooed the highly lauded aerodynamicist and technical director, Ron Dennis apparently also fended off Newey's desire for a sabbatical and secured his service.
It is understood, however, that the Briton's current McLaren deal only runs until January.
Newey told Autosport: ''I'll certainly be in formula one next year, but that does not necessarily mean I'll be at McLaren.''
The highly lauded car designer, however, added that a team switch is still 'unlikely'.
Thursday's edition of the specialist British magazine, meanwhile, also mused that FIA boss Max Mosley could be facing a team principals' vote of 'no confidence' in Monday's meeting of the F1 Commission.
The motion, however, would not immediately endanger the Briton's role in the governing body.
Champ Car eyes Middle East tooUPDATE #4 Out of nowhere we heard whispers of a possible Middle East race again today. If our source is to believed, Kevin Kalkhoven has made a number of trips to the Middle East and something appears to be brewing. Of course in recent days we saw reports of a big development project around the Dubai circuit so apparently they have some big plans for that facility, but no big race. Ditto for Qatar. We would not expect anything, if it were to happen, before 2007. A1 Grand Prix would be a perfect support race for the Champ Car race. The new lighter 2007 Champ Car with some 250 more HP would be a perfect step up from A1GP, and by then who knows, maybe one of the A1GP Middle East drivers will be ready for Champ Car. We could easily see the Team Australia concept duplicated in the Middle East with a Team Dubai Champ Car team and feeder A1GP team. The Sheik certainly can afford it. Mark C.
11/22/04 A reader writes, Well all I can say is yeah!!! Just what Champ Car needs another boring street parade in front of 100,000 people there for the event and not the series! Sorry! Champ Car needs to get into Road Atlanta, and other Natural Terrain courses and maybe Gateway or something of an oval like that. Enough of the city concrete canyons! I'm tired of them and it's all they seem to be adding! San Jose looks about as Mickey Mouse a track as can be. Let these guys run these cars to their (the drivers) limits sometime! It's time for near 900hp cars that can be too hard to drive on real courses! Bryan Freeze Dear Brian, The new Champ Car owners want to ensure the long-term viability of the series by making it profitable. The street races tend to be more profitable. Until such time as Champ Car is rebuilt into the popular series that it once was and adds more big name drivers that will draw fans to remote tracks like Road America and Laguna Seca, it will pretty much be confined to street circuits. Sad but true because clearly the best race of 2004 was Road America where the Champ Cars are able to stretch their legs. Champ Car had better be sure the street circuits they lay out are racy, like Adelaide Australia was/is. To race on a Mickey Mouse track just because a promoter is willing to pay big money may be shortsighted in that they make a profit now but lose fans for the future, fans who have no interest in watching a parade interrupted by endless full course cautions, a Champ Car trademark. Mark C.
11/22/04 We are hearing that the rumored Middle East Champ Car race would probably be on the streets of Doha, Qatar, if it happens at all. Doha is the capital of Qatar and it sits on the Arabian Sea. We hear that Qatar is a bit jealous of its neighbors, Bahrain, which has an F1 race, and Dubai, which has the A1 Grand Prix. An early May date is possible.
10/26/04 This AutoWeek article says, Champ Car will release its 2005 race schedule Oct. 29, according to series officials. The series expects to have its new television package nailed down by that date, too. Champ Car honchos are quiet about the pending TV deal. What’s known is CBS will broadcast at least six races. Cable partners for the balance of the schedule haven’t been settled. They could include a CBS/Viacom cable affiliate like USA or Spike, or former cable partner Speed. Nor has the series given up on a race next season in Bahrain. Key officials plan to travel west from the race in Surfers Paradise, Australia, to the Middle East. [Editor's Note: Bahrain, another F1 track? Hmm.... We would have thought Dubai or Qatar, both of whom have opened FIA-standard F1 tracks. However, in recent days we have heard a number of rumors about Champ Car racing at F1 venues. Interesting to say the least]
Kanaan to get slapped with fineUPDATE #2 More background information that the 'fix' was on at Fontana. Kanaan claims he hit the pit lane button while trying to pass Dario. Most pit lane control systems have what’s called a hold off speed calibrated/programmed in them. The hold off (typically 100 mph) means that if the button were to be pushed while at race speed, it would not activate until the car was below 100 mph. The driver can push it on the back straight and not have it do anything until he brakes to a speed of 100mph or less. This is more of a safety concern than anything. Imagine if the driver hit the PLSC button mid turn. Kanaan most likely lifted to ensure his teammate won the race....so will Barnhart slap him with a fine for fixing the race or not? 10/19/05 More evidence Kanaan is lying. He made a run on Franchitti around the outside and was actually ahead of him when he suddenly slowed. He claims to have hit the pit lane speed limiter switch instead of the extra power button, which is a load of crock as he was already hitting the correct button to get past Franchitti in the first place. He claims to have hit the wrong button, not that his hand slipped off the one button and onto the next.
"Tony is a very strange character," Dario Franchitti said. "Tony is either the most generous guy you'll ever meet or one of the most selfish, and there is rarely a middle ground with Tony.
"I think he's entirely capable of doing it. And I have to say I would do the same for him. If the roles were reversed, I would do the same for him. That's the relationship we have and have had for a long time."
Let's see whether Barnhart nails him for fixing the finish.
10/18/05 Barnhart has requested computer data from Kanaan's car that will show whether the Brazilian intentionally slowed at the end of the race to allow Franchitti to win. Barnhart said he doesn't support orchestrated finishes. Indy Star [Editor's Note: Observers told us they saw Brian Barnhart as he was walking down from the officials stand atop the grandstand to go into the tunnel to get to the infield after Sunday's race. They said he looked fit to be tied.]
Jani to test or race? Neel Jani is pretty sure he'll be slotted into the third Red Bull Racing F1 car next season. Although the energy drink-owned team has not yet confirmed what position the 22-year-old will fill, the company has let slip that he will join David Coulthard, Christian Klien, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed in the Red Bull/Squadra Toro Rosso lineup.
Speculation, however, is near unanimous that Jani, born in Switzerland, will support Coulthard and Klien as the 'Friday' driver in the senior team.
But it remains possible that Jani, who raced in the GP2 category in 2005, is - like Speed and Liuzzi - a candidate to race for the ex-Minardi team.
''Of course I am pleased about this opportunity,'' Jani - a former Sauber tester - said on Thursday. ''Now I can concentrate on F1 next year.
''Naturally I hope I get to race sooner rather than later, but sometimes in life it is necessary to be patient.''
Jani said he remembers, as a boy in front of the TV, watching David Coulthard race in F1 for Williams and McLaren. ''Now I'll be his teammate,'' he grinned. ''I am convinced that I will learn a lot from him.''
A twelfth team for F1?UPDATE Bernie Ecclestone is in the process of brokering a deal that will see a 12th team join the Formula 1 grid next season, according to a report in The Times. The newspaper claims that the sport’s impresario is prepared to bend the rule requiring teams to build bespoke chassis to allow a new squad backed by a Middle Eastern conglomerate to join the fray.
Although Ecclestone would need to persuade governing body the FIA of the case for waiving the rule, it chimes with Max Mosley’s own longer-term plans for driving down costs in F1.
Ecclestone added that he would if necessary act as a guarantor for the £30 million bond that the brand new team would have to pay to enter F1.
“They have been to see me and it is an interesting idea,” Ecclestone told The Times. “I have always said that the sport needs new blood and this team will surprise many people. They have serious money and serious intentions so we should help them if we can.” ITV-F1
10/15/05 At Suzuka a week ago, the buzz was all about a possible eleventh team for F1 next year. Now, in the Shanghai paddock, word is beginning to spread that the final spot in pitlane - a twelfth team - could also be about to be filled.
The British 'Times' newspaper reports that Bernie Ecclestone gave his 'personal approval' to the plan, involving Middle Eastern backers who have $177m to spend.
The only possible spanner in the works is that the group will not be in a position to design and build its own car, a mandatory requirement of Bernie's binding 'Concorde' agreement.
Ecclestone's support to overturn the long-standing rule, though, would probably also be of interest to the new 'Red Bull Rookie' team, Honda's proposed 'B' team, and McLaren, similarly considering a second F1 squad.
''I have always said that the sport needs new blood and this team will surprise many people,'' Ecclestone said in China. ''They have serious money and serious intentions so we should help them if we can.''
Coke to be title sponsor of F1 seriesUPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. See Hot News item about Coca-Cola's denial. 10/13/05 Reports are spreading that Bernie Ecclestone has announced that Formula 1 will now be named the Coca-Cola FIA Formula 1 World Championship. This is not confirmed. 10/12/05 According to reports in the Swiss press, Bernie Ecclestone is on the verge of signing a mega deal with the Coca Cola Company as title sponsor to the Formula One world championship. Earlier reports linked the soft drink giant to a possible deal with the WilliamsF1 team and more recently with the new mystery eleventh team backed by engine giant Honda.
Coca-Cola eyes F1 teamUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. See Hot News item about Coca-Cola's denial. 10/03/05 The world's most famous soft-drink company, Coca-Cola, is planning to drive onto the F1 grid.
The British 'Daily Telegraph' newspaper even claimed that Coke, like fizzy rival Red Bull, could buy a grand prix team -- but the more likely option is a title sponsorship.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone 'confirmed' that Coca-Cola had shown some interest in the sport, the newspaper wrote.
''F1 has become an exceptional shop window for everybody,'' the 74-year-old said.
The report doubted that Coca-Cola had yet held talks with any team, but an executive 'with links' to the company revealed: ''The growing popularity of F1 in several key Asian markets is something that is of interest.''
Probably at the front of the queue for Coca-Cola's business is Williams, the front line Grove based team that is determined to recover from the recent loss of works BMW power and title sponsor HP.
NASCAR's dilemma with Toyota All indications are that Toyota is waiting to confirm their entry into Nextel Cup when NASCAR announces some firm dates for its Car of Tomorrow. Why should they invest in the current cars only to scrap them the following year? It's also better for them to come in when all the teams have to change over such that everyone starts on a level playing field. In this scenario the time it takes for Toyota to be winning races is greatly compressed.
However, the existing team owners want to delay the new car, which could result in Toyota having to wait, or simply walk away from the series in disgust over the politics.
"If they can move the dates out, so that we're able to balance out our existing hardware, and be able to make the changes they want with the present staff, it'll be a seamless transition at a modest cost to the teams," five-car team owner Jack Roush said. "If they compress that to where you have to dig a hole and bury your existing cars, you haven't got value out of them regardless of whether you might have a strategy with the IRS or a strategy with investment folks, whoever they would be, that says that you're able to amortize your car by using it the amount of time that you expected when you built it, well then there's a loss.
"Given the number of cars that are potentially involved, the loss could be huge. It could be catastrophic."
Roush said making the car ready for 2007 was not the schedule that NASCAR discussed with the team owners.
"That would be a problem," he said. "I know that's not the schedule that they had their mind set on before we had our meeting and they may not go there. They may go back and say, 'Guys, we hate it for you, but it's 2007. Build your cars and go fight among yourselves and decide how you're going do it and we don't care.' That would be NASCAR, too, you know."
Stars and moon alignment needed for IRL return California Speedway President Gillian Zucker wants an open wheel race back at her track, but the IRL looks doubtful after another horrendous turnout last Sunday.
"We are big fans of open-wheel racing and the door is open for the Indy Racing League to have conversations with us to come back to California Speedway, but in my mind, it's a business decision," Zucker said. "We need to look at what the sponsorship landscape is at that time. With Toyota leaving the IRL and with them being our entitlement partner, we need to have someone strongly committed to the speedway and the sport in terms of promotion, entertainment and hospitality. If the stars and moon align, we'd love to have them back."
Silver Crown team owners form breakaway series Race cars used in USAC Silver Crown Series pavement racing will have a place to compete at least for the next three seasons, National Speed Sport News reports.
A group of car owners that elected not to move forward with the new-generation Silver Crown machines have formed the National Championshipcar Series to race on asphalt ovals beginning next season.
A general membership meeting has been scheduled for 3 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Brickyard Crossing Hotel in Speedway, Ind. Car owners from five states met Oct. 15 at New York's Oswego Speedway to create a steering committee and formulate a business plan for the 2006, '07 and '08 seasons. The NCS has vowed not to schedule events that conflict with the USAC slate. It will race on asphalt tracks between a half mile and one mile in length.
ESPN2 to televise Busch Series ESPN2 expects to land exclusive rights to all Busch Series races, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Daily reports. Speaking on conditions of anonymity, officials at ESPN said the Busch Series races would be exclusive domain of ESPN2 under terms of a new television contract, reporter Andy Bernstein writes. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
Champ Car eyeing neat upgrades for new car Spoke to Champ Car Director of Operations Tony Cotman today in Surfers about feedback they have received on the new car.
"It's been fantastic," said Cotman. "Everyone seems to like it. We are now in a great position to engineer into the car some neat things. We are open to all ideas. For example, where do we place the camera mounting points? One neat place might be right under the raised nose. The beauty is we have plenty of time to do all the really neat things we always wanted to do but never could."
As for the new transmission manufacturer, "We are close," said Cotman. "We don't need any more than six forward gears because our turbo engine has a fairly wide power band."
On the topic of engine horsepower, Cotman was confident Cosworth will find more power.
"I think we'll have more horsepower with around 39 inches of boost and more push-to-pass horsepower, contingent on Cosworth maintaining the longevity we currently enjoy."
As for carbon fiber brakes, "I'm not opposed to them said Cotman. "We're still evaluating them. They might be cheaper because the teams are going through two and three sets of steel rotors and pads a race weekend. At $4,000 per set the costs add up quickly." And he agreed they can play with braking distances with brake pad hardness (coefficient of friction). Harder brakes pads would increase the braking distances. The cars will be lighter and faster, which means they will approach the corner faster, but that's offset by the fact you have a lighter car to slow down.
Roush plots to oppose team limits With NASCAR considering limiting multi-car ownership in the Nextel Cup Series, Roush Racing Owner Jack Roush said that he and Hendrick Motorsports Owner Rick Hendrick are working together “to oppose NASCAR’s proposal.” Roush: “We’re in the process now of reviewing some relevant case law and some other things that are precedents in our national economy and in this sport-marketing business to understand where we stand” ATLANTA CONSTITUTION.
“I look forward to having a chance to sit down with [Brian France, Joe France, Lesa France Kennedy and NASCAR President Mike Helton] all together with Rick and Joe Gibbs at the same time and say, ‘What is the issue here? What is it we’re trying to accomplish that we can do and not jeopardize the investments of years and time that the multi-team owners have got?’” Jack Roush to theDaytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL
Brian France planning exit from NASCAR NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France, has “within the past year sold his entire 25% stake in NASCAR” to his uncle, NASCAR Exec VP and ISC President & COO Jim France, and his sister, ISC President Lesa France Kennedy, according to sources cited by Mike Mulhern of the WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL. Brian France “has told the family he is willing to serve as NASCAR boss for the time being, but that he eventually –-apparently within a rather short period of time, possibly after finishing negotiations on the sport’s new TV contracts — wants to leave the family business.” It “appears that Jim France ... now owns controlling interest in NASCAR” WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL
The V10 formula of 2006? Some time ago the FIA asked Formula 1 teams to accept rules which rev-limited V10 engines. The federation argued that this would slow the cars and cut costs. As early as 1996 FIA President Max Mosley proposed an engine rev limiter to be introduced in 2001. The teams argued that Formula 1 is all about performance and pushing the limits. It seemed that Mosley had given up when last year he announced that there would be 2.4-litre V8 engines in 2006 to reduce power and costs. Mosley added that "in order not to prejudice the smaller independent teams" the existing 3-litre V10 engines would be allowed to continue in 2006 and 2007 "subject to a restriction on revs to be determined by the FIA".
The teams were finally forced to accept this change, although several were strongly opposed to the V8 idea.
And so, in theory at least, we will see a 2.4-litre V8 engine formula in 2006 and all the major F1 teams are working on the development of the new V8s. Only Squadra Toro Rosso (aka Minardi) is planning to go into the new season with a rev-limited V10. The stated FIA plan was that "the rev limit will be set at a level which will ensure that the engine is less powerful - but not much less powerful - than the 2.4s."
In recent months, however, it has been clear that the V8s will not be very powerful and, more importantly, will have less robust rev ranges than the restricted V10s and there are some who believe that the rev-limited V10 engine could actually be a better package because with the two-race engine rule revs have been reduced anyway. There has been a lot of talk recently of changing the equivalency factor but if it remains the same we are likely to see teams begin to realise that the V8 is not the way to go and switch to rev-limited V10s instead. There is a precedent in all this as Honda decided in 1988 that rather than switch to new normally-aspirated 3.5-litre engines it would maximise the performance of the older turbos despite a boost pressure cut from 4 to 2.5 bar and a fuel tank capacity reduced from 195 to 150 litres. The result was a dominant car which won 15 of the 16 races.
So be prepared, we may end up with a field full of rev-limited V10s next year.
When you stop to think about it, this is what the FIA wanted all along and all that the manufacturers will end up with are expensive V8s which will be thrown on the scrap heap. Once teams have accepted rev limits, the FIA would then be able to control engine power quite simply by lowering the rev-limits from one year to the next, particularly if the V8 rules were later scrapped. And once the revs are low there would be little opposition to regulations demanding engines which last for six races. GrandPrix.com
ABC to NASCAR a major concern for the IRL The IRL has a contract with ABC/ESPN through 2009, but the sports landscape is about to change. The IRL's TV partner is on the verge of getting a large chunk of NASCAR's schedule. While that won't take effect until 2007, league officials are concerned. Indy Star [Editor's Note: When there's a NASCAR race on ABC, the IRL will be on ESPN or ESPN2 and their ratings will plummet. And to think, the IRL is locked in with ABC through 2009.]
Toyota to buy stake in GM The head of Toyota Motor Corp. said on Tuesday he would not rule out buying a stake in a non-Japanese automaker, but added it was not clear how much need there was for such a move. "I wouldn't say the possibility was zero," President Katsuaki Watanabe said at an industry conference when asked whether the automaker would consider a stake in a competitor outside Japan. "It's a question of whether there would be a need for that," Watanabe said. Autonews.com [Editor's Note: Could be the best thing that ever happened to GM. First order of business - fire all GM's top management and replace them with some real managers. The scheme to reduce the price of their cars to consumers to employee rates was a typical shortsighted GM move. It caused a boost in sales for a couple of months but now car sales have plummeted to a trickle as no one needs a new car now. End result - they gave away millions of cars and made no profit on them.]
IRL might slap Danica in the wallet IRL president Brian Barnhart said he would review Sunday's post-race incident between Patrick and Jaques Lazier next week. An angry Patrick made physical contact with Lazier in the rescue vehicle following their accident at California Speedway. Indy Star
Loss of Chevy and Toyota could be devastating to IRL General Motors will be out of the IRL for the first time since 1996 and Toyota is also leaving after next year. Honda gave the league a major boost last weekend when it announced plans to supply engines through 2009. Officials said they will provide engines for at least 33 car-and-driver combinations at the 500, if necessary. But there are long-term implications for a one-engine series. Financial support from Honda is the reason Michael Andretti's team became a four-car operation with four race-winning drivers. A reduction in engine manufacturers also reduces the exposure the league gets from race naming rights and advertising. Indy Star [Editor's Note: With the extreme cost of IRL racing caused by the huge cost to replace cars after they pulverize against the oval track walls (just ask Chip) the loss of manufacturer support may create an unsustainable financial model for the IRL. Tony George will have to write a lot of checks to keep teams afloat.]
Future in doubt for some IRL teams With several teams struggling for sponsorship, the IRL could have fewer cars than Champ Car for the first time since several larger Champ Car teams left for the IRL in 2003. Cheever Racing has lost Red Bull, Panther Racing does not have Pennzoil's full backing and Fernandez Racing isn't sure what to make of Delphi's bankruptcy. Then there's Rahal Letterman Racing, which lost money on Vitor Meira's car this year and might scale back to a two-car team. Ganassi Racing, which had 28 accidents this season, might do the same. The only teams talking about expansion are the one-car operations of Vision Racing, owned by league founder Tony George, and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Indy Star
Fisi, or Heikki, to BMW? Yet again, speculation is mounting that Giancarlo Fisichella's immediate future at Renault is less than secure. The latest gossip in F1 circles is that the 32-year-old Roman, who failed to match world champion Fernando Alonso's pace in 2005 and gave away the Suzuka win on the last lap, may be moved on to partner Nick Heidfeld at BMW.
Flavio Briatore, goes the rumor, is keen to put the next Flying Finn - Heikki Kovalainen - in the second R26. It should also be noted, though, that the GP2 runner-up is also linked to BMW.
''You can think whatever you want,'' Giancarlo Fisichella said, ''but if my boss defends me the way he's been doing ... I've got to keep cool.''
Indeed, 'Flav' - and his deputy Pat Symonds - have been at pains to hush the 'Fisico'-speculation by praising a job well done in China.
Fisichella was earnestly thanked and praised in Shanghai, after he 'controlled' the pace of the McLarens to help Fernando Alonso win the final grand prix.
Tony George after Hunter-Reay Our sources spotted Tony George in deep conversation with Ryan Hunter-Reay at California Speedway Sunday. Speculation is that George is willing to do what it takes to steal another American driver from Champ Car. But will Hunter-Reay want to risk life and limb on the IRL ovals?
Will Champ Car take back the traitors?UPDATE #4 Dear Autoracing1, After reading Tony Traugott's email, I had to respond as his thoughts/opinions are well taken but off base. I would welcome everyone back.
All the people mentioned in his email (Penske, Chip, Andretti, Fernandez, & Rahal) made a business decision to leave CART. Do you look after your company (race team) and the interest of your employees or do you take a chance that CART will be around after Pook spends all the money? At the time they were presented with alternative options to leave and join the IRL and in most cases it involved a great deal of money. I don't think anyone wanted to leave as they were all part of the glory years of CART but when Roger Penske decided to leave it raised red flags. When Penske left CART, sponsors and other team owners took notice. The IRL became a viable racing series overnight.
Andretti is looked upon differently because he was an active driver during his announced defection but is really not given the fair shake that he deserves. To say that Andretti is not a smart businessman is ridiculous. Whether you are a fan of his or not he has always been his own man and I respect that. Michael only won one championship because he raced to win and second place was never on his agenda. That's why I was a fan. He made millions driving cars and he's probably making millions in retirement. He is smarter than people think.
Chip Ganassi, Rahal and Fernandez are all bright guys as well and were in the same boat. Should they have turned down the money and security of having factory backed engines and budgets because their heart was with CART or Champ Car? Nonsense! Bottom line is you better look after yourself because no one else will. I don't blame any of these guys but I do blame Tony George. Matt Jones, Scottsdale, AZ
Dear Matt, You miss the point. It's one thing to go after the money, quite another to badmouth the series you are leaving...repeatedly. That is the grudge Champ Car fans harbor. Mark C.
10/17/05 Another reader adds, With regard to letting the traitors back into Champ Car, perhaps. After all, if it’s bad for the IRL, it’s good for Champ Car. However, there are limits. If it were up to me, I would consider their past positions and statements as part of my consideration.
Penske? Yes. Not because he’s essential or because he has always harbored secret desires for reunification, but because his team always raises everybody else’s game. If 'he' returns will he be welcomed by the Champ Car fans? I should think not. Will 'he' be booed? Most assuredly. Will he Team Penske respected? Definitely. You just have to remember that Roger’s primary loyalty is to Roger. Remember he was TG's enemy in the 90's, only to become his best friend in 2001.
Ganassi? Possibly. Chip followed the money, pure and simple. And now that the replacement costs have just about broken the bank at Target Chip Ganassi Racing AND the Toyota money looks like it’s about to dry up, Chip is looking at his options. To Chip’s credit, he didn’t spend a lot of time CART bashing. He just went racing. Will he be welcomed by the 'faithful'? Probably not, but once again, if it’s bad for the IRL, it’s good for Champ Car.
Andretti/Green? No. Michael Andretti never missed an opportunity to bash CART and afterwards Champ Car. Which is funny, because that’s where he made his name. And that’s what Michael is - just a name. He has never made a decent business decision in his life. Honda put together his team with massive financing. When they quit subsidizing him, (AGR is the defacto works team) his team in the IRL it will either fold or quickly take on mid-field status. Why do you think Michael couldn’t hack F1 in one of the best cars of the time? Why do you think Michael has led the most laps of anyone who has never won Indy? With all of his CART wins, why does Michael only have one championship? Because, Michael doesn’t have the wherewithal to look at the big picture. That said, I believe Franchitti, Kanaan and Herta would be warmly welcomed back. After all when they took the drives with AGR, TKG had just been sold (to AGR) and there weren’t any CART drives available. I don’t recall these 3, or Castroneves, de Ferran among others badmouthing their old series. Class acts those 3. Weldon however, might be a different story. He may have drank a little too much of TG’s kool-aid.
Rahal/Letterman?Definitely not. Of all the defectors, no one was as treacherous as Rahal. Timed to cause the most damage and possibly cause CART to default upon the car count for the race at Long Beach, the once acting president of CART is roundly hated within the Champ Car fan base for his treachery. In no way is there room for Rahal-Letterman racing in Champ Car. Perhaps he can take Danica to NASCAR. I’m sure she’d be just as successful on the track there as she has been in the IRL, or should I say the gIRL.
Fernandez? Forget it. Since it was revealed that Fernandez was massively overcharging Tecate for what they received his credibility has been visibly tarnished. That’s why his team is called Fernandez/Super Aguri Racing. Almost entirely funded by Honda through Aguri Suzuki, he is probably persona non grata when it comes to handling sponsorship dollars. Besides, he’s at the twilight of his career and I don’t think he could hack it on a road course with the younger drivers. And his last minute defection left a lot of Mexican fans at Long Beach wondering what’s up with this pendejo who invites us and doesn’t even show up? The bright spot is that if Aguri is the mystery 2nd Honda F1 team, perhaps they’ll let Adrian polish the wheels.
But to me, what it all boils down to is that if it’s bad for the IRL and the evil ego that practically killed 'my' sport, then I’ll accept and rejoice in it for what it is, another nail in the IRL’s coffin. (TG may take his hammer to work with him everyday, but I think he’s hit his thumb a few times too often). I won’t embrace the old teams if they do indeed return, or cheer for them, but I will accept them. Tony Traugott, Santa Monica, CA
McLaren and Jean AlesiUPDATE Former grand prix winner and F1 veteran Jean Alesi has admitted he is involved in McLaren's proposed 2007 'b' team. The Frenchman, who today drives in the German DTM category, was again a guest of Ron Dennis' silver camp in Shanghai, strengthening speculation he could be a Johnny Herbert-style 'sporting director' for the outfit to be backed by Direxiv.
''The person behind all this is a Japanese businessman,'' Alesi, 41, told Gazzetta dello Sport. ''I can't say any more, not even under torture. I will be pleased to be back in F1.''
And, although Alex Wurz and McLaren protégé Lewis Hamilton are touted for the race drives, Alesi is well connected to countryman Olivier Pla -- who drives a Direxiv sponsored car in 'GP2'.
10/12/05 It is increasingly likely that former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi will be a Johnny Herbert-style team chief for the likely McLaren 'B' team in 2007.
It was suggested almost a month ago that the Frenchman, now a DTM driver who retired from formula one in 2001, was instrumental in finding the supposed backer of the project, Japanese company Direxiv.
Compounding the speculation is news now that Alesi, 41, was a guest of Ron Dennis' McLaren team at Suzuka last weekend, and held 'several' meetings with the Woking chief.
The Italian 'Autosprint' magazine claims Jean Alesi has a week to consider a solid offer to head the team, which would require him quitting as a DTM driver. He is under contract to the end of '06.
Kalkhoven 10, George 1UPDATE #2 Another reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, The Las Vegas visiting Mr. Clarke did on behalf of Honda surely was not as much to secure an arrangement with Mr. Kalkhoven and whoever else as much as it was a testing/sounding out Champ Car and a warning to Mr. George regarding the contract they were then undoubtedly in the process of negotiating. This speculation is strengthened by Autoracing1.com reports that CC officials were at the end of the day puzzled by their conversation with Mr. Clarke, i.e., what was it he really wanted, which if correct means the HPD head was not showing his hand. Mr. Kalkhoven's automatic suggestion of a private meeting at a hotel would have been the appropriate setting if there was only a sincere effort at sounding out differences to be bridged in reunification negotiations. Therefore, Mr. Clarke's desire to have instead a public setting would only serve to make CC people suspicious as well as surprised and all the more prone to negotiate only from their established business plans.
That was what Mr. Clarke first and foremost wanted to establish for himself: whether CC owners were indeed as committed as they publicly professed and whether, even so, there could be an immediate future for Honda in CC; and by doing this in the very public manner he did, Mr. George was also being warned his seemingly firm position in negotiations, whatever it might have been, was unacceptable. Thus even if CC's responses were not what Mr. Clarke in the best of all possible worlds wanted---and this he must have know from the several earlier discussions of which he surely was well briefed he would not realize---he by even being in the Las Vegas paddock HPD was warning Mr. George his wants or objections to what Honda put on the table were not going to control bargaining. After all, if they were acceptable or at least the negotiations proceeding smoothly and progressively, Mr. Clarke would not have been at Las Vegas and certainly would not be emphasizing his presence.
The questions asked by Autoracing1 as to the agreement between IRL and Honda are very pointed and relevant but unfortunately will only emerge in time, something IRL and Tony George right now even more desperately need than CC and its owners. Nevertheless, there are enough pieces to suggest the better headline is, "Open Wheel Racing: Kalkhoven 10, Clarke 1, George 0.5. E. Rasmussen Holm10/16/05 A reader writes, Unfortunately, it’s now Kalkhoven 10, George 1 as getting Honda to stay through 2009 is quite a coup, thus delaying reunification another two or three years as the IRL was going to be gone after 2007 without Honda. Glenn Tanner, Palos Verdes Estates, CA
10/15/05 Kevin Kalkhoven continues to beat Tony George at every turn. It's now something like Kalkhoven 10, George 0.
In securing the Toronto race, Kalkhoven eliminated any possibility that the IRL (which had similar designs) could ever replace Champ Car at Canada's most important Indy-car race, just as he did by purchasing the Long Beach Grand Prix race in California. All of the above is nothing but bad news for Tony George.
But that last one has really got to hurt. George and others in the IRL, notably Michael Andretti and Bobby Rahal, have wanted to race in Toronto so badly that they could taste it.
In fact, Andretti was so sure a deal was in the works that he told Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey at last spring's IRL St. Petersburg street race that the league would be coming to Toronto before long. [Editor's Note: He also said the IRL would be in Long Beach too.]
Now, unless Andretti, et al, fold up their tents in the middle of the night and sneak off to join Champ Car, that ain't gonna happen. Toronto Star
Was France family behind Honda and the IRL? A reader speculates, Re. Honda's IRL commitment. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I have five bucks that says the France family told Honda that they had to re-up with the IRL if they wanted entry in NASCAR’s Nextel Cup series for two reasons: 1) Keeps events at ISC (France’s) racetracks, 2) Prolongs the ‘spilt’ and further dilutes open-wheel racing as a competitor to taxicab racin’. Glenn Tanner, Palos Verdes Estates, CA
Mercedes to buy McLaren? German carmaker Mercedes could be set to buy the remaining sixty per cent of the McLaren team. The marque, whose collaboration with the Ron Dennis-led grand prix outfit finished second to Renault in the 2005 championships, is the only carmaker left in pitlane without total ownership of its formula one squad.
With Honda's recent 100 per cent buyout of BAR, Ferrari, Renault, BMW (Sauber) and Toyota are also carmaker-owned.
Mercedes' parent company, Daimler-Chrysler, bought 30 per cent of McLaren from Mansour Ojjeh in 1999, and ten per cent from boss Dennis.
Mercedes' Norbert Haug played down the buyout-suggestion in the Shanghai paddock: ''We own forty per cent of the McLaren group,'' he told the 'Premiere' network, ''which is a clear commitment to the sport.''
Bernie may sell F1 to public, 20 races for '06 Bernie Ecclestone would like to sell formula one to the public, the F1 supremo revealed in China. The 74-year-old Englishman, with a 25 per cent stake in the sport's commercial ownership, is eager to iron-out the forlorn situation of having a trio of mostly uninterested banks with majority ownership of his series.
''An IPO (initial public offering) would probably be the right way to go,'' Ecclestone told the 'Bloomberg' agency. ''I think the banks would consider it.''
Following media reports that some had expressed interest in buying the 'SLEC' shares, Bernie reported that he believes the banks 'don't want to sell.
''It's not a case of how much (money),'' he continued. ''There's been two or three (approaches) which we could say that were definitely serious.''
Ecclestone also reported that a 20-race calendar for 2006 is likely, if an agreement to reduce testing can be reached. ''We've got a couple of new teams wanting to come in as well. I think we're in good shape,'' said the diminutive boss.
Hunter-Reay eyes IRL Champ Car driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has been replaced at Rocketsports Racing for the last two races of the season by rookie Michael McDowell, made an appearance in the IndyCar paddock on Sunday. He was offered a ride in the IRL last year with a good salary, but stayed loyal to Champ Car.
IRL still covets Southern California As the IRL's season finale drew near this weekend, an underlying theme became clear: Don't count out California Speedway just yet.
One of the most surprising and controversial aspects of the league's disclosure last month of the 2006 schedule was the absence of California Speedway, a part of the IRL calendar since 2002. IRL president and chief operating officer Brian Barnhart hinted Saturday that California might be back on the schedule in 2007.
"I'm confident that we will be back in this market in 2007," Barnhart said. "We want to keep an open mind and an open dialogue and do what we can to get back in this market in 2007. -- there are hurdles to overcome." More at SPEEDTV.com
Danica punches Lazier According to a report on SPEED News Sunday Danica Patrick punched Jaques Lazier in the face in the ambulance after the two crashed at California Speedway Sunday. Lazier did not return the favor. Both blamed each other for the accident. Lazier accused Patrick of pinching him down in the corners all race long. Countered Patrick, who suffered a sore elbow: "I was on my radio all day about him. He was all over the track even when he was running by himself. No wonder he jumps around from team to team. Needless to say, I'm pretty frustrated."
Panther Racing to get Hondas Rumor in the IRL paddock is that Chevy powered Panther Racing was offered Honda engines for next year. Chevy has quit the IRL and Toyota has announced they are quitting after 2006.
Champ Car P2P to 100 HP Champ Car's Scot Elkins said in a radio interview today on the South Florida Motorsports Report that the 2007 Champ Car Ford Cosworth engine will likely see an increase from the current 50 HP to 100 HP for the push-to-pass button.
Chinese driver eyes F1 grid A Chinese driver hopes he is wheel to wheel with Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen in a few years. Cheng Congfu, already associated with McLaren, says his formula one debut could be just 'five or six years' away.
''It's quite possible,'' the 21-year-old told the China Daily newspaper, ''but I think if there is a Chinese driver (in F1), that will be me.''
Beijing-born Congfu finished eleventh in the British Formula Renault championship. He has already tested a McLaren, at Brno (Czech Republic) back in September '04. Dutch-based Chinese Ho-Ping Tung ran a Williams two years ago.
''What (Cheng) needs is time and more races,'' said former McLaren driver, Red Bull's grand prix veteran David Coulthard.
McLaren 'F1 CEO' Martin Whitmarsh adds: ''He has a long way to go. '''He has speed but he needs to be polished by high-level racing.''
Will AGR, Rahal, others, still get free engines? Currently Honda supports some IRL teams such as Andretti Green, Rahal Letterman, etc. with massive amounts of financial support. With the exclusive Honda engine deal set to start in 2007, will these 'factory' Honda teams still get free engines and financial support while the rest have to pay for the engines? Will the current Chevy and Toyota teams have to pay Honda for their engines while others get theirs free? Will the Chevy and Toyota teams get the same 'latest' engine bits or will they be reserved for AGR and other current Honda teams? Will the teams that are currently subsidized by Honda, Toyota and Chevy be able to survive when they have to pay for their engines? Will the teams be able to afford those new chassis' slated for 2007? Will they be able to fill the 33-car field at Indy when all the team subsidies dry up? Will the IRL be a 1-class or 2-class series - the haves and the have-nots? Will HPD help to pay for its huge new facility on the backs of the IRL teams, or will Honda subsidize the entire field?
These and many more questions must be answered as the IRL faces life as a Honda-Only series.
Tracy says no, Ranger yes? Champ Car rookie of the year contender Andrew Ranger is likely to play a part in Canada's A1 Grand Prix team this season, Autosport-Atlas reports. Ranger, who has still to turn 19, has impressed team chiefs with his Champ Car campaign this season, where he came close to winning his second race at Monterrey, Mexico. Team Canada officials have spoken with Ranger's representatives, who is understood to be positive about the idea.
The Canadian team had contacted 2003 Champ Car title winner Paul Tracy, however are now unlikely to reach a deal with the 36 year-old.
Honda 2nd F1 team?UPDATE #3 There were rumors circulating in Shanghai that the second Honda engined team will involve Italy's Daniele Audetto, who was in the paddock on Saturday. Our sources in Japan continue to insist that while others may be involved in Europe, the money and the team principal will be Japanese. There are many details still to be sorted out before an announcement can be made but it seems that there are no real political problems as the new team will almost certainly agree to sign for an extension of the current Concorde Agreement. The money appears to be in place and the only real question is whether or not the team is logistically possible in the time available. Certainly there is not much time to mess about and if the team is going to be ready for the start of the season a decision must be made soon. The deadline for entries is November 15 but work will need to start before then. Grandprix.com
10/10/05 This rumor is almost believable with deFerran going to Honda F1, you know how Roger takes care of his former drivers. "Sure I'll run your 2nd Honda F1 team, but could you give Gil a good job while we work out the details?" We know that's a stretch but if true Roger could have been working on this at his "under the radar" Poole facility since Gil went to Honda earlier in the year.
10/10/05 This Times of London article says, The rumors of the 2nd Honda F1 team include the legendary American Roger Penske running a team and ex-F1 driver Aguri Suzuki getting together with the Japanese Dome team to deliver up Honda Two. We thought Roger was doing business with Toyota. Hmm..... The article thinks the 2nd Honda team is suspect and may just be a ruse to placate the Japanese fans who were miffed that Takumo Sato was released by the BAR Honda team.
NBC to drop NASCAR, gain Champ CarUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. ESPN and ABC Sports are expected to announce soon that they have acquired the July-to-November package of NASCAR races that has been carried by NBC and TNT since 2001, said executives involved in the talks who insisted on anonymity because the contract had not been completed. The six-year ESPN-ABC deal is worth an estimated $280 million annually and will last through 2012, the executives said. At $280 million annually, the ESPN-ABC pairing will pay 40 percent more than the $200 million a year that the NBC-TNT joint venture has paid since 2001 and will pay through next season. New York Times
10/15/05 It's a done deal," a highly placed source told Yahoo! Sports at Lowe's Motor Speedway, site of Saturday's UAW-GM Quality 500. "I've double-checked it and NBC is definitely out." NASCAR on ABC has to be bad news for the IRL because ABC will now pander to NASCAR to pay the huge fees NASCAR will get.
10/15/05 NBC won't extend its contract with NASCAR beyond the 2006 season, a person involved in the negotiations told The Associated Press on Friday. Why? Because the TV networks are losing their shirt with the current TV deal while NASCAR is reaping in the profits.
This can be mega-news for Champ Car which is looking to put more races on network TV. In 2006 Champ Car is expected to have 9 of 16 races on a combination of CBS and NBC and was having a hard time finding available time slots for more. If NBC does not renew with NASCAR, that opens dates for more Champ Car races on NBC.
ABC/ESPN are expected to replace NBC as one of NASCAR's television partners, according to a television executive who declined to be identified because the deal wasn't complete.
NBC currently splits half of NASCAR's 36-race schedule with Fox as part of a six-year, $2.8 billion deal that began in 2001. The contract expires at the end of next season and NBC informed NASCAR last week that it didn't want to extend the relationship because the value the network put on the package was far less than the asking price.
Alana Russo, a spokesperson for NBC Sports, said the network had no comment.
"We are in the middle of contract negotiations right now and we have nothing to announce at this time," NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said. "But it is no secret that ABC/ESPN has expressed a strong interest in being a part of the television negotiations and we are continuing those talks."
What will become of Hunter-Reay?UPDATE Another reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, There is something a lot more at work than Hunter-Reay and Rocketsports not ‘gelling’ or having the ‘magic’. Ryan’s average qualifying and race fast time last year was 7th and this year is 14th and 13th respectively. Hunter-Reay, the individual, has more race wins than Rocketsports the team. Ryan is ranked 4th in the Series in wins to starts behind only Bourdais, Tracy, and da Matta and is the only American to win races the past two seasons. He has done more promotional work for the series than any other driver including no less than five trips to Australia. Dump a fan favorite, a proven race winner, and one of the series most marketable drivers that only last year Kalkhoven and Forsythe made possible to keep in the series just before the Australian race where he won two years ago and finished 5th last year makes no sense. Hunter-Reay has posted front row starts, race fast times, podiums, and wins each of his first two years, as well as setting a series record for most laps lead in a single race and bringing his former team their first pole is now cast aside for a pay driver to put a few shekels in Paul’s pocket just before the Australian race where he is literally ‘The Face of Champ Car’? RHR has been a loyal, tireless worker for Champ Car and this is a huge blunder visited on them by Gentilozzi who looks more and more out of his league. Name withheld by request.
10/14/05 With Rocketsports announcing that Michael McDowell will be driving the #31 for the last two races, what is the future of Ryan Hunter-Reay? Two years ago, it seemed like Hunter-Reay was heading for stardom, with even some talk of going to F1. This year has been a complete struggle. I cannot believe that someone as young, talented, and fast as RHR has suddenly just 'lost it'. Do you have any idea what the real story is, and where he may end up in 2006? John Farney, Milwaukee, WI Dear John, At this point we don't know who Hunter-Reay will drive for in 2006, but we assume he will have a ride in Champ Car. As for his struggles this year, certain drivers gel better with certain teams and engineers. Hunter-Reay and Rocketsports never could find the magic. Both are still capable of winning races, as they have in the past. Mark C.
A peaceful solution in F1 Max Mosley has predicted a "peaceful" solution to Formula One's problems after talks on the future of the sport and a new 2008 Concorde Agreement. Mosley, president of world governing body the FIA, was due to hold a press conference on Saturday in Shanghai to discuss the future of the sport but cancelled it after talks overnight.
He said: "As far as 2008 is concerned there is a lot of progress being made.
"There are all sorts of discussions going on and it's got to the situation now where I don't really want to prejudice those discussions by talking too much about what's going on in public because there has been a lot of movement.
"Therefore sometimes it's better to let the thing reach its natural conclusion and not take a position which then makes it more difficult."
Asked if talks have been positive, he replied: "From our point of view very much so. I don't see difficulties in the future. I think it's all going to end up quite peaceful."
20 race calendar possible The possibility of an even longer formula one calendar for the 2006 season is still very real.
And, despite widespread disapproval of Bernie Ecclestone's desire to expand the record-setting '05 schedule to 20 grands prix next year, Ferrari boss Jean Todt hinted that another unprecedented calendar is feasible.
''Ideally, we would like 17, 18 grands prix,'' said the Frenchman. ''I think we are privileged to be in the F1 business, so to do 18, 19, 20 grands prix - even though it is demanding - would remain acceptable.''
Obviously, the very tired faces in the Shanghai paddock - not to mention strained relationships - are multiple reasons for not wanting a long calendar.
But there is also a financial issue -- more races does not equal more money for the F1 teams.
McLaren's Ron Dennis said: ''Working hard is part of Formula One, but I think there is a point at which you say 'you're asking too much'. We're very close to that point.''
'Friday' rule could stay Ron Dennis says McLaren will not vote against retaining the 'Friday' car rule next season. Although the silver clad camp will no longer be eligible for the bottom-six benefit in 2006, Ron - the Woking team's boss - reckons it would be 'hypocritical' to prevent others (including Williams, BAR and BMW in 2007) to take part.
''We would be supportive of whatever the majority of teams wish to have in the future,'' Dennis said in China amid rumblings that the rule could soon be scrapped altogether.
''We won't vote for or against.''
Some observers point out that the 'Friday' benefit, which has seen Alex Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa share the duties this season, may have contributed to McLaren's dominance.
Dennis replied: ''I don't think the benefits are as extreme as some people make out.''
’Squadra Toro Rosso’UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' now. Red Bull GmbH officially announces that following completion of the takeover of the Minardi Formula 1 team on 1st November, the team will be known as Squadra Toro Rosso (which for the non-linguists among you is Italian for "Team Red Bull.")
In addition Red Bull GmbH announces that its driver line-up across both its Formula 1 teams is David Coulthard, Neel Jani, Christian Klien, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed.
10/15/05 Red Bull will rename Minardi 'Squadra Toro Rosso' for the 2006 season, according to widespread paddock speculation.
It is a direct Italian translation of the phrase 'Team Red Bull'. Minardi, sold by Paul Stoddart to drinks magnate Dietrich Mateschitz, is based at Faenza.
'Senior' team Red Bull Racing's principal Christian Horner, meanwhile, refused to confirm or deny speculation that current BMW man Franz Tost would lead Minardi next year.
The Englishman hinted: ''I am sure, fairly shortly, things will be officially confirmed.''
Horner also insisted that 'Squadra Toro Rosso' would be 'totally separate' from Red Bull Racing. ''It will very much be the final step on the ladder for our young driver program,'' he said, ''and the perfect shop window for them.''
Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed will drive the junior Red Bull cars in 2006, it's expected.
What might have been Lola published these artist renderings of their concept for the 2007 Champ Car. They lost the bid and Elan (Panoz) has an exclusive three year contract to supply cars. Although the internet rumor mill says Champ Car could open up the series to competitive chassis' in 2008, we don't see that happening.
Will Power tests for Team Australia, to land rideUPDATE #2 This rumor is updated to 'fact' with today's announcement. Is Will Power any relation to the famous Simpsons’ character, Max Power? Seriously, though, can you imagine a super team of Will Power and Scott Speed. They would have both Speed and Power. 10/11/05 According to internet forum scuttlebutt, the Team Australia Champ Car team will run a third car for Will Power in Australia as we originally rumored. However, we would have thought an announcement would have been made by now. 09/02/05 Rumor has it that Australian William (Will) Power tested for the Team Australia Champ Car team this week at Portland International Raceway and the test went well. We hear there is a possibility we could see him drive in the Surfers Paradise, Australia race.
Power currently is third in the World Series by Renault Series. Last year he had a test drive with Minardi F1.
Other International Championships 2004 7th in the British Formula 3 Championship 2003 14th British Formula 3 Championship
National Championships 2002 1st Australian Formula Holden Championship Winner of the Australian Drivers' Championship 2nd Australian Formula 3 Championship 2001 2nd Australian Formula Ford Championship
F1 a flop in China? Tickets sales down 40+% in one year. The speed, money and glamour of Formula One racing may have swept China's wealthiest and glitziest city last year but in 2005 ticket sales suggest the novelty is wearing off.
Although it is one of the most important events on Shanghai's burgeoning annual sports calendar, ticket sales for the season-ending Chinese Grand Prix are down sharply from last year's debut.
Last year ticket organizers sold 150,000 tickets for race day and some 260,000 spectators showed over the three-day event. But equaling those sales looks increasingly unlikely ahead of Sunday's race when McLaren and Renault will vie for the constructors' title. On Friday the grandstand was full of empty seats.
"The sales figure so far indicates that around 110,000 spectators will attend the main race day on Sunday," said Yu Zhifei, general manager of the Shanghai International Circuit.
One reason for the decline is the high prices, ranging from 370 to 3,980 yuan (45 to 490 US dollars) in a city where even average white collar salaries run around 6,000 yuan (740 dollars) a month, putting the spectacle beyond most people's means.
Transportation arrangements were a major problem last year, as organizers eager to ease traffic congestion banned taxis and personal cars, but then failed to provide enough shuttles.
Yu pledged then to fix the problem and provide some 3,000 free shuttle buses to take the spectators to the track 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of downtown.
"There was criticism about our services last year and we will address the problems this year," Yu said, and hoped the new measures would be enough to stir interest. "I hope the actual turnout will be higher when the race begins on Sunday afternoon." AFP [Editor's Note: We are told the Chinese spent so much to build the track and line Bernie's pockets that they will never recoup their investment.]
Intel to step up racing sponsorshipUPDATE #4 Rumors in the Shanghai paddock suggest that the McLaren team have now agreed a major deal with Intel with an announcement due to be made imminently. And McLaren's Formula One CEO Martin Whitmarsh had further fuelled the story by refusing to deny the Intel deal had been done when asked by Autosport-Atlas.
"There are no comments on that at the moment," he said. "We are not making any comments on any of our negotiations. "When there is a deal and they want to announce it they will announce it. We will definitely have a title sponsor next year. "
09/23/05 We hear that the deal between McLaren and Intel is back on track with the plan being for a $55m title sponsorship for the Woking team from the giant American chipmaker. There had been some worries about the deal because of the recent deal between rival AMD and the FIA. It is not clear when the deal will be announced but we expect to see Intel on the McLarens in 2006 and beyond. Grandprix.com
09/19/05 McLaren may miss out on a $50m sponsorship deal because computer chip maker Intel is reportedly furious with the FIA.
Britain's 'Daily Telegraph' newspaper suggested that even Toyota could lose its small existing deal because the governing body is now too closely tied with Intel rival AMD.
A Monza announcement of the 2006 McLaren deal was apparently delayed after Max Mosley appeared in the Friday press conference with the FIA's new 'technology advisor', AMD's Henri Richard.
AMD and Intel are locked in a legal dispute regarding alleged anti-competitive behavior. [Editor's Note: For $50 million Intel could be the series 'title' sponsor for Champ Car for five full years, a far better deal than sponsoring McLaren for a single year. They will end up paying McLaren $250 million over five years (5 years @ $50 million).]
08/05/05 For those who do not follow the microprocessor industry, it is worth knowing that there is currently an all-out war going on between Intel and rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and this is, in part, a reason for the F1 sponsorship. AMD is with Ferrari but Intel now wants a bigger and better presence and so is talking to the biggest and best teams. AMD is currently suing Intel in various countries with accusations that it has illegally maintained a monopoly in the chip market with improper subsidies and threatened retaliation against firms if they used AMD products. Intel is rumored to be increasing its marketing budgets in order to counter a stronger challenge to its markets from AMD with the latest generation of microprocessors. Intel is making plenty of money but it is still looking for new business opportunities and is tipped to be looking at opportunities in the automobile industry, in addition to general telephony.
At the same time, Intel has also been restructuring and there are new attitudes. The firm recently named Paul Otellini as its new chief executive. He is the first Intel CEO not to have been an engineer, his training being largely in sales and marketing. Other management changes have given the company a much more competitive edge in marketing.
Formula 1 [And Champ Car] may be benefiting from the Intel-AMD battle but at the moment it is still not sure which team will be landing the loot. One thing we expect to see is the deal going to a team with manufacturer links, if only because this is sure to open up possibilities for Intel to sell chips to the car firms. Grandprix.com
08/04/05 Rumor has it that the world's largest computer chip manufacturer, Intel, is in talks with the BAR Honda F1 team to become the primary sponsor in place of Lucky Strike, which is no longer allowed in most countries due to anti-tobacco laws. As you know, they have also been primary sponsor on Justin Wilson's RuSPORT Lola Ford Champ Car for a few races this year and word on the street is that they are going to take a much bigger role in Champ Car in 2006, helped by Kevin Kalkhoven's and Carl Russo's Silicon Valley ties.
Why the sudden interest by Intel? In the past Intel's customer was really, Dell Computers, IBM, HP, Toshiba, etc. They did not market directly to the consumer. However, now the consumer has a choice and can buy PCs with AMD, Intel, or even Asian company microprocessors and hence Intel wants consumers to choose PCs with their processors. Therefore, Intel wants to be certain its brand is a household name. Putting their name on a F1 car as well as a Champ Car gives Intel maximum exposure around the world as both series are equally as international, or at least they will be in two years when Champ Car completes its international expansion. F1 gives Intel more exposure in Europe and Champ Car in North America where each series is based respectively.
Look for McLaren to also announce a new primary sponsor that is computer related, and possibly even a competitor to Intel.
New Champ Car bodywork tweak Rumor has it that for a few hundred extra dollars Elan Technologies can design the new Champ Car with the slight bodywork modification shown to the right in red (Click to enlarge). There are two primary benefits 1) It makes the car look better in profile, 2) It opens up some 'prime' extra bodywork real estate for which teams can collect much needed additional sponsor revenue. The beauty of the simple change is that it does not stick up and make the car look hideous like an IRL or F1 engine air intake. The car still looks like a Champ Car.
A doubt over Button? It is perhaps fitting that Jenson Button is not feeling at all well for his hundredth grand prix. Speculation in the Shanghai paddock on Friday suggested that Anthony Davidson, earlier 'on standby' for Takuma Sato, has been told to be ready for a last minute Chinese dash after 25-year-old JB recorded a high temperature.
Jenson, 25, has had to fend off the press' enquiries so far this weekend about what it feels like to be notching up race number 100 without an accompanying grand prix victory.
''It just means I have experienced a lot, more than most,'' the visibly irked English driver told the ranks.
To his rivals, though, naked statistics tell little of the story about a driver's talent. Ralf Schumacher, JB's first ever F1 teammate, reckons that with the right car, Button 'can win a championship'.
''Michael (Schumacher) was called the best ever driver but he's not able to win a race with an average car,'' he added.
Button's next teammate will be Rubens Barrichello, who was similarly asked to rate the BAR star in the Chinese paddock.
''It's quite difficult,'' said the Brazilian, ''because it depends on a lot of things, but I don't think he is lacking anything against Raikkonen and Alonso. I think he is very, very talented.''
Ford to promote Anne Stevens to COOUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. This article says, Anne Stevens, group vice president, Canada, Mexico and South America, is elected executive vice president, Ford Motor Company, and chief operating officer, The Americas. She will report to Mark Fields. Stevens, 56, will lead the Company’s core operations in The Americas, including Product Development, Manufacturing and Purchasing. Stevens’ new role also makes her the first female executive vice president in company history.
“Anne is an exceptionally focused and proven leader in this industry,” Fields said. “Her leadership of Vehicle Operations resulted in a significant quality improvement. She has also overseen profit resurgence in South America and Mexico and increased market share in Canada. We expect her to drive our operations toward greater coordination, efficiency, productivity and results.”
10/13/05 Champ Car friendly Anne Stevens of Ford is expected to be promoted to Chief Operating Officer of the Americas today or Friday. Already the highest ranking woman at Ford, Stevens is currently Ford's VP of Canada, Mexico and South America.
Snetterton eyes possible Champ Car raceUPDATE #2 Another person adds, I think it must have been years since Gavin Lawrence has been to Snetterton. I spent 24 years of my life in the next village, and worked at Snetterton for some of those years. 2 years ago a new freeway was completed just by the circuit. It now has its own junction off the freeway too (about 1/2 mile distance). The access is at least as good as Silverstone now. From looking at the new development's website the business park is on top of the 'Sunday market', so there wont be much traffic for a market that has been plowed under.
It's quite incorrect that the circuit is nowhere near train lines or an airport. The plans for the new development include a purpose built train station on the adjacent mainline railway line (London - Cambridge - Norwich). Also the circuit is on the main freeway to London Stansted Airport (currently the 3rd busiest airport in the UK and with impending expansion will soon be the second busiest). The international airport is only 60 miles away. I doubt if Snetterton would ever hold a Champ Car race, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some other major series race there. Gary Parravani, England
10/13/05 A reader adds, Dear Autoracing1, I grew up in the UK and cut my teeth photographing at the British Tracks and I will agree Snetterton is too agricultural to host anything more than a F3 or BTC (British Touring Car meeting). Access to it is a nightmare and on a Sunday the traffic is doubled as a result of a Sunday Market (Clothes, Fruit and Veg stalls etc.)
It will be 20m more than I would spend on something that no one can get to. Granted Norwich nearby (about 25-30mins) is great for a night out but the nearest airports and train lines are miles away. Gavin Lawrence
10/12/05 Snetterton circuit will have a $20 million upgrade if plans unveiled by the 1.952-mile circuit owners are approved. MotorSport Vision want to redevelop the England track as a venue for international motor racing events and hope to start work at the end of the 2006 season. "Part of the development is to bring the track up to FIA Grade 2 specification and that would mean we could hold races for anything from the World Touring Car Championship, Champ Cars or the Le Mans Endurance Series sportscars - anything apart from Formula One," MotorSport Vision boss Jonathan Palmer said. We think the track is too remote for Champ Car's business model, but time will tell.
The radical proposals, which are now at the planning stages with the local councils around Snetterton, include significant changes to the layout of the circuit itself, as well as the building of a brand new, state-of-the-art commercial complex called the Snetterton Business Park.
Bliss out of No. 0 Sources close to the #0 NEXTEL Cup team have indicated that driver Mike Bliss will be released from his duties by the end of the season. Another Cup driver is expected to fill the seat. Options for next year are wide open for Bliss and a return to the Busch or Truck series aren't out of the question. BGNRacing.com
Glock to Porsche? Honda?UPDATE Our European correspondent tells us bit different story - that Timo has an offer from ALMS, but not from Porsche, from Honda! And as far as we heard, he's not really keen to race sportscars, but he would be paid well for the drive, which has him thinking about it. In Champ Car he's the one who's got to fork out the cash.
The plan for Timo was to do another year in Champ Car, just to underline his good performance this year. It would be stupid to throw away all the experience he's gained so far and go racing sportscars, for he eventually hopes to return to F1, if possible in 2007. Moreover, he's left a very good impression with everyone in Champ Car and they would like to keep him (especially if they have plans to return to the EuroSpeedway - see EuroSpeedway rumor, as that race always needed a German driver).
It could be that Glock could race for Honda in ALMS one year and then hope for them to give him a shot in one of their F1 teams.....
As far as DHL is concerned, they want to enter the American market big time and if Timo stays in Champ Car, the DHL money should remain as well. If Champ Car is clever enough they could get more from DHL. Rocketsports needs to elevate their game as the best way to keep DHL in the series is for Glock to be contending for wins.
10/13/05 Our sources in Europe tell us that Rocketsports driver Timo Glock may be racing for DHL again next year, but it may be in ALMS with the DHL Penske Porsche, not in Champ Car. We do not believe a deal is done yet, but if true, Champ Car has probably lost the DHL sponsorship. Champ Car can't afford to lose sponsors like this.
Will Champ Car return to EuroSpeedway? Hearing from our European correspondent that Kevin Kalkhoven visited the DTM race at Eurospeedway in September and there were talks about a possible return of Champ Car to the track. And that's where DHL might come in, assuming Glock stays in Champ Car with DHL. DHL is building a huge transshipment point not too far from the Eurospeedway which would be finished around 2007 - so it would come in handy to combine the opening with a Champ Car race, to which they could invite loads of guests and maybe call it the "DHL 500".....
Did IRL snatch a Champ Car sponsor? Has Tony George scored a major one for his IRL team? Hearing that a major company in Indianapolis may be backing Ed Carpenter next year. Could it be Eli Lilly, which sponsored Newman/Haas earlier this decade in Champ Car? SPEEDTV.com
IRL tries to lure Ford, others, but striking outUPDATE This ties into our inside information that Ford had discussions with the IRL. What has to be alarming to the IRL is that ALL manufacturers said they are not interested in their series.
This LA Daily News article says, If and when the IRL does come back to California Speedway, there's a good possibility Honda might be the only engine manufacturer in the series. It's a scenario Robert Clarke, president of Honda Performance Development, is reluctantly anticipating.
Chevrolet is leaving the series at the conclusion of the 2005 season. Toyota will be leaving after the 2006 season. Both engine manufacturers have highly competitive NASCAR engine programs. Part of their reasons for leaving the IRL is to concentrate on NASCAR.
That would leave Honda as the lone engine provider for perhaps as many as 25 drivers in the IRL. It could be as many as 33 drivers for the Indianapolis 500, the highest-profile race in the series.
"For all we know right now, we will be the sole supplier," said Clarke, who oversees the operations of the research and development facility in Santa Clarita for all of the Honda-powered teams. "Moving forward, we feel it's very important because the series from our point of view is actually showing some improvement in popularity with Danica Patrick. It's definitely getting more exposure than it has during the three years we've been involved with the series. For them to leave right when it's doing particularly well, it's very unfortunate because it kind of puts a negative spin on many things."
"We're not looking to leave or we're not looking for any excuse or reason to leave," Clarke said. "Many of the objectives we have for being involved in racing are centered around competition. The fact that we may not have competition is something that's concerning to us and something we will have to ultimately come to grips with as we want to proceed."
Although unlikely, lack of competition could also drive Honda away from the IRL, Clarke said. One of those directions is to NASCAR, following Toyota, which made its debut this year in the Craftsman Truck Series and will join the ranks of the Nextel Cup Series in 2008.
"We look at anything and everything all the time," Clarke said. "It's kind of an ongoing process to keep an eye on all the racing series and what they're doing."
Clarke did not say Honda is looking specifically to move into NASCAR, but he did say branching out into another racing series is a possibility.
"From the beginning of HPD, we've always been focused on one singular program," Clarke said. "First that was CART. Now it's the IRL. But going forward, with the resources that we have, we're looking at diversifying into more than just one series."
Apparently in an uncharacteristic move, the IRL has openly solicited engine manufacturers to join. Even though the IRL has only been around since 1996, it has never had to ask engine suppliers to join the league.
"In the past, it just happened," Clarke said. "They have not solicited or recruited manufacturers. They just come. I know that was in our case. But I also know that recently the IRL has sent out solicitation letters to manufacturers trying to get their interest in coming to the series to participate."
And the invitation was not well received.
"They either didn't get a response or the response was no," Clarke said.
The future is very uncertain for Honda and the IRL. At a time when the IRL is generating a new-found audience, it's losing two of its strongest supporters: Toyota and Chevrolet. Plus, it's putting a tremendous burden of one of its strongest assets: Honda.
"We're in it already," Clarke said. "All I can say, it's being strongly considered that we do stay and that we do our best to help the series, to help it grow and make it better so ultimately more manufacturers are lured to it."
10/12/05 Our sources tell us that Ford Motorsport boss Dan Davis recently flew to Indianapolis to meet with IRL officials. If true, one can speculate that the IRL, desperate to get an American company to enter the series so Honda can beat up on them, is trying to lure Ford away from Champ Car. We suspect they won't get far as Ford simply does not have the money to spend to go head-to-head with Honda. We hear that Chevy was paying $20 to $25 million a year to be in the IRL, and we don't see Ford coughing up that kind of money at this time.
Issues with BeijingUPDATE #4 Kevin Kalkhoven, Joe Chrnelich and others are currently over in Beijing to try to make the China race a reality. The race is not a dead issue by any means, as negotiations are ongoing, but the two sides are quite far apart on several issues, most notably the sanctioning fee.
BSAM, Beijing Asset State Management, that is a quasi-government entity, feels that the fee is too high, and to complicate things, BSAM has been trying to pass any potential money loss onto the back of Jim Ye, the Goldenport facility owner. Needless to say, Jim isn't about to enter into a risk that could result in him losing control over the place he built. Further meetings are scheduled for tomorrow morning.
As we noted below, there's always Zhuhai, but Champ Car really prefers to be in Beijing. Mark C.
09/30/05Q. I know that there was talk that there was some announcements or press releases made about the Beijing race and that was also not put on next year's schedule as many of us had anticipated. Is there any update on that?
JOE CHRNELICH: Actually it will be back on over there in early October to continue discussions with BSAM, more accurately their new company, which is IS. And back to the prior question on the difficulty of dealing in Asia, what we're also finding out not only on a logistical basis but on a business basis, people in Asia, the cultures of Asia, look at things a lot differently than we do back home here. And part of the challenge is reaching an agreement on key points but also how they're packaged together, and images and pictures are much more important in the Orient than they are in the U.S., which we're just the opposite, we're more focused on words.
That's been a challenge for us, but we're continuing to talk with them. We think they're a good partner. We're a ways away on some money issues. We do have some track options there, as you know, but at the end of the day, we need to continue to be patient with our decision. We're not going to just race into an arrangement to say we've gotten that off our list. We just need to make good business decisions, and that requires patience.
Q. You mentioned TRK there's been a change in promoters in China, that BASM -- was that a government agency before, and who is this new IS that you mentioned? Is that a private promoter in China?
JOE CHRNELICH: Actually BASM, Beijing Asset State Management, that is a quasi-government entity, they actually acquire and hold assets on behalf of the state, but -- they're a quasi-government company. That's the best way to define them. Very early in our discussions with them, they had informed us they were going to form a subsidiary company to help attract sports events to the capital of China, Beijing, and that's the company IS which was ultimately formed. That company is involved with the Olympic effort, but it's also very keen on bringing racing to China. That's how they intertwined.
08/21/05 It seems our information about what is going on in Beijing with the Goldenport track is pretty much spot on. Jim Ye is not going to spend the money to upgrade the track for Champ Car nor A1 GP knowing that the Beijing government wants the Champ Car race at the 2008 Olympic site starting in 2009. So it looks like Goldenport is probably history. However, Champ Car has at least one definite alternate, Zhuhai (pictured right), just across the bay from Hong Kong and near Macau. There is another alternative, but based on what we know, it would seem that Zhuhai, a 2.6-mile permanent natural terrain road course built to FIA F1 standards can work if they want it to. Although it is not an "urban" downtown event it's not far from major population centers.
On a related note, the Chinese government is planning on building a bridge(pictured left) between Hong Kong and Zhuhai but that will take 20 years to design and build so it will be no benefit in getting people from Hong Kong to Zhuhai before 2009. The Zhuhai area is a major economic development zone in China.
08/09/05 We did some more research on the situation at Goldenport. Apparently the track owner Jim Ye is very upset with the Beijing Auto and Motor Association over some demands that they are making regarding the funding of the upgrades. Details are a little sketchy at this point, but as we understand it BAMA wants guarantees that the upgrades will be finished on time, and if the deadline isn't met, they want to confiscate Goldenport and Jim Ye's personal property as well. They also want free use of the facilities in return for funding. There are a couple of other issues as well. Obviously, Jim is not going for this, but has entertained counteroffers regarding funding.
There is also the problem with the Champ Car MOU's. If completion is not on time, or not in time to stage the race as scheduled, there are some kind of penalties involved. These would be on the promoter, which is BSAM, or BAMA or whatever they call themselves. In turn, they have mentioned passing on penalties to Jim Ye and Goldenport. Since Goldenport is entirely privately funded and run, and all out of Jim's pocket, this is currently a stumbling block as well. We only got the bare bones info and explanation on this, but you likely get the idea.
Apparently, Jim is in discussions with A1 GP regarding their proposed race at Goldenport, wondering if they would race on the current length of the track if other facilities were upgraded. We believe that they are planning on racing at the Brands Hatch Mickey Mouse Indy Course, which is slightly shorter than Goldenport is now.
In any case, on August 12th, we believe, there will be the official groundbreaking for the new facilities and expansion of the track. That much is still going ahead right now, and if both sides can get their s**t together, the expansion could still go ahead as planned and Champ Car may still be able to have their Beijing race. Mark C.
08/09/05 When we heard that the contract between Beijing and Champ Car regarding a race there next autumn had not yet been signed we contacted our sources in Beijing. They told us that they heard Jim Ye, the owner of the track, might go ahead with the updates to the existing facilities, but not the extension of the track that we previously reported. Unfortunately the track is too Mickey Mouse for Champ Car in its current state (but then when has a Mickey Mouse track ever stopped Champ Car before?). As we previously reported, the track extension was submitted to the FIA for approval, but who pays for it is another story.
We previously reported that the race would likely move to the Olympic Stadium area after the 2008 Olympics so it is quite possible Jim Ye doesn't want to invest too much money in his facility knowing that the race will only be there a few years and then move on. If this information is true, then it will be up to the government of Beijing as to whether they really want to do this race. They are up to their eyeballs in preparing for the Olympics so we have to wonder just how focused they are on a Champ Car race at this time. We saw a similar situation in Vancouver when they were awarded the Winter Olympics - the Champ Car race was sacrificed.
It is quite possible that we are reading too much into this. Champ Car President Dick Eidswick and Joe Chrnelich will fly to Beijing in a couple of weeks to try and resolve the issues. For the time being, therefore, we don't expect to see this race listed on Champ Car's '06 calendar to be released in Denver this weekend.
New Red Bull Minardi boss There are reports in the German media that the new team principal of the Minardi team - soon to be renamed - the Red Bull Rookie team is going to be BMW's Franz Tost.
The team will be guided by Dietrich Mateschitz's right hand man Dany Bahar. However he has little hands-on experience as a racing team organizer and has other things to worry about as well as he is also believed to be looking after the Salzburg soccer team which Mateschitz recently acquired.
Tost is currently employed as Track Operations Manager of BMW Motorsport in Munich. Tost started out as a mechanic at the Walter Lechner Racing School at the Salzburgring. He went on to compete at Formula 3 level on occasion in 1983, 1984 and 1985, initially with the school team but later running his own Ralt-Volkswagen. His best result was a seventh place although he scored better results in under-subscribed Austrian F3 events. Grandprix.com
Coulthard to stay on with Red Bull after retirementUPDATE David Coulthard has rebuked speculation that F1 retirement might be just 19 or 20 grands prix down the road. The Scottish veteran, 34, has been retained by Red Bull Racing for the 2006 season, but it is unclear if he'll be given a racing role much beyond that.
''To focus on anything other than driving would be to mentally retire,'' said the winner of thirteen grands prix for Williams and McLaren.
DC said: ''To go through corners like 130R at Suzuka you've got to be committed and I am. There's no point for me to think about anything else.''
At thirty four, though, Coulthard is the second oldest driver on the grid and surely closer than most to finally stepping out of the paddock. But, at Red Bull, David's never had so much fun in F1, after a decade at dowdy McLaren.
''(F1) is not more important than life itself,'' David Coulthard said this week, ''(but) at various other points in my career I'm not sure I'd have seen it that way.''
10/04/05 Speaking in an interview with Autosprint, Dietrich Mateschitz said the Red Bull team was delighted with David Coulthard's input this year and looked forward to his continued involvement in the future.
"Yes, he's a good driver, and his presence in the team is ideal for us," said Mateschitz. "When he was hired, we told him he didn't have to shave every day, that he could wear whatever he wanted to and that he could always tell journalists the truth, with no need to be diplomatic. Used as he was to Mercedes, he thought we were taking the piss.
"Nowadays he's like a new man. He's aware of when the right time will come to retire, but he'll stay involved with Red Bull Racing even after he stops as a driver."
Dixon to again look at F1 Scott Dixon has vowed to keep a keen eye on F1 opportunities for 2007. The New Zealander, who won the 2003 Indy Racing League (IRL) title and still races in the American series, reckons he will assess whether switching to F1 is a realistic option 'late next year'.
''I will be looking ... to try something different,'' he told the NZ press, ''but if it's still good in the IRL I'll stay.
''I've been talking to a couple (of formula one teams) recently to see what the goals are. It will be a spur of the moment thing if we do it,'' Scott said, ''but we're still in contact with a lot of people there.''
Meanwhile, 25-year-old Dixon - who tested a Williams last year - may drive New Zealand's 'A1' car in the US and Mexico races early next year. But he will race full time for Chip Ganassi (IRL) in 2006.
A new F1 job for Stoddart? Exiting formula one team boss Paul Stoddart may re-emerge in one of motor sport's top jobs, according to paddock speculation.
The Australian 'Herald Sun' newspaper reckons Stoddart, who has sold Minardi to Red Bull billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, is apparently 'linked to several' of top motor racing's 'biggest jobs'.
One possible role, says the Melbourne newspaper, is as the 'figurehead of the rival (breakaway) series'. The report continued: ''Some say Stoddart ... could emerge as a candidate for Max Mosley's position at the head of the FIA.''
In fact, many saw Stoddart's near-obsessive disdain for Mosley as the foundation for a future bid for the presidency. ''Ah yes, dear old Paul,'' Max replied in the Guardian newspaper. ''F1 just won't be the same place without him. Our loss is almost certainly someone else's gain.''
Davidson could replace Sato in ChinaUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Speculation in British newspapers that Takuma Sato would be replaced by BAR tester Anthony Davidson this weekend has been rubbished as 'groundless' in the Shanghai paddock.
The gossip emerged in F1 circles when it became clear that both BAR and Honda executives were unhappy with the 28-year-old Japanese's poor performances and race penalties, including total exclusion last Sunday for a Suzuka clash with Jarno Trulli.
The weekend's Chinese grand prix will be the last in a BAR-Honda cockpit for 'Taku' Sato. ''I am absolutely determined to have a strong race,'' said Takuma, who had a ten-grid penalty in Brazil after punting Michael Schumacher out of the Belgian grand prix. Last year I had a good race (in China) from the back of the grid.''
10/10/05 Anthony Davidson is reportedly 'on standby' in case Takuma Sato is put on the BAR-Honda bench for the season ending Chinese GP.
Although the Brackley based team - already facing a backlash in Japan after dumping the Japanese driver for 2006 - named Sato in Monday's pre-race preview, British newspapers reckon team chiefs are considering putting Davidson in the '007' car for Sunday's Shanghai race.
The reports hint that BAR and Honda executives are furious about 28-year-old Sato's disastrous driving at Suzuka, which followed another recent FIA stewards' penalty involving Michael Schumacher at Spa.
Team test driver Anthony Davidson, meanwhile, has been overlooked for the 2006 race ride and is on a desperate push to prove he is worthy of the grid. His links with both Jordan and the unnamed eleventh team for next year are both as yet far from concrete.
Speaking on the prospect of a drive in China, Davidson said, "I just want to go out and show what I can do. I think I deserve the chance after four years as a test driver. The only doubt people have about me is whether I can race or not. They know I have the speed. I've never been more ready. I did not really have a chance to show anything in Malaysia. I'm motivated and my fitness is at a new level. I am anxious to get one last chance before this season is over.”
Erin Crocker to be demoted Erin Crocker, who was originally scheduled to run full-time in the NASCAR Busch Series with Evernham Motorsports next season, will instead compete in the Craftsman Truck Series and run a handful of Busch races in 2006, ThatsRacin.com has learned. Crocker, 24, has run a limited schedule of Busch and Automobile Racing Club of America series races this season. In six races in ARCA, Crocker won two poles, and had four top-five and five top-10 finishes.
In two Busch Series starts, Crocker finished 39th and 35th and was involved in an accident in both races. She suffered a cracked rib in the Sept. 24 race at Dover, Del.
On Sept. 9 at Richmond, Va., Evernham Motorsports announced Crocker, 24, would run the entire Busch schedule in 2006 in the No. 98 Dodge with sponsorship from General Mills.
Team owner Ray Evernham was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but was expected to discuss Crocker's situation Thursday at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. ThatsRacin.com [Editor's Note: Is she getting so much hype because she is female or because she is a great driver? You decide.]
Young driver eyes Champ CarUPDATE #7 McDowell's website has taken down the announcement. The lawyers must be involved. 10/11/05 According to McDowell's website, he will run the last two Champ Car races, presumably for Rocketsports. No announcement from the team yet, but if true, one would assume Ryan Hunter-Reay won't be driving in Surfers or Mexico City. This can get interesting. 10/04/05 Hold the presses, McDowell just got his time down to 59.9 sec. 10/04/05 On his second day in the car, Michael McDowell ran a 60.2 sec. lap at Putnam Park in the heat of the day in his very first time in a Champ Car! Very fast and 0.7 faster than Fabrizio DelMonte, who also tested on the same day. It appears this American kid has real potential. 10/03/05 McDowell tested a Rocketsports Champ Car at Putnam Park on Monday (today). No word on how he did. We hear his pending announcement will be made later this week after the rumored Grand-Am/Long Beach announcement is made on Wednesday. 09/29/05 AutoRacing1.com can now reveal that the bright young driver is Michael McDowell, who currently drives for Finlay Motorsports. More details and an announcement to follow. This youngster has shown great speed and aggression in Grand-Am. McDowell was the 2004 Formula Mazda champion with a dominating performance of 8 pole positions and 7 wins in 10 races. 09/27/05 This new American Champ Car driver is testing with the team for the first time tomorrow. Once his name is revealed, later this week most likely, our readers are likely to be going 'hmm, out of the blue, but it does make a bit of sense considering his background...'
final clue... if all comes through as planned, something unprecedented will be happening in Mexico City... Mark C.09/22/05 We have it on good word that there is likely to be an announcement next week that could be a jaw-dropper. We hear that a young driver not currently on any Champ Car observers radar screen will announce a multi-race deal that is half career opportunity and half scouting expedition.
California Speedway expansion plannedUPDATE California Speedway has admitted to the announcement, but says it is postponed until later in the fall. 10/12/05 Rumor has it that California Speedway will announce a multi-million dollar facility enhancement on Monday.
Jon Wood eyes full-time Cup schedule A Ford PR release says: WHAT ARE YOUR RACING PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR? [Jon Wood, No. 47 Busch driver] “As they stand today, I will do a minimum of seven Cup races. The 21 thing, that’s still up in the air, and I want to do it like Carl’s (Edwards) doing and that’s whenever that opportunity would come, which would be in ’07 with the worst-case scenario, being able to run the Busch car and the Cup car. Running both series at the same time would be ideal because at the Cup level you’re racing against Tony Stewart and those guys have been racing these cars forever, so any additional track time you can get is a plus. If the trucks were in companion with the Busch cars every week, I would be campaigning to have a truck. I think with the new testing rules going into place next year that I need to be on the track before my main focus, the series that puts the bread on the table.” Ford Racing
Blaney out? Bowyer in? Richard Childress Racing has a press conference scheduled this Friday afternoon at Lowe's Motor Speedway and speculation is the team will announce current Busch Series driver Clint Bowyer as the new pilot for the team's Jack Daniels NEXTEL Cup ride next year. Bowyer would replace current driver Dave Blaney in a move that could possibly include another full-time Busch season in the team's AC Delco #2 in addition to the NEXTEL Cup slate. RacingOne
New Champ Car development schedule From Champ Car sources, below is a rough schedule to help understand the process that will be followed in developing the new 2007 Champ Car:
Oct-Nov/05: Initial surface design and CFD work Nov-Dec/05: Wind tunnel model build and shapes Feb 06: Wind tunnel model complete May 06: Aero Development completed June 06: Prototype Chassis completed Aug 06: Prototype testing completed Sept 06 Production sign off Dec 06: Cars delivered
Champ Car may be open wheel's only hope A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I agree with Cipolloni's assessment of the future of open wheel racing in North America in his latest article. Tony George had better hope Champ Car succeeds as I don't see much future for the IRL, they're whistling past the grave. Dave Arnold, San Diego, CA
Schu to quit in '08 - manager Michael Schumacher will probably retire from formula one at the end of the 2008 season, his manager hinted on Tuesday.
''I could be wrong,'' Willi Weber said in a yet unpublished interview with 'Stuttgarter Nachrichten' newspaper, ''but I think that is probably the end for him.''
36-year-old Schumacher, the seven time world champion, has yet to extend his current Ferrari contract beyond the end of next year. Weber told the newspaper that his talented charge would definitely not switch to McLaren.
''Just stop it now,'' the German said of the speculation. ''Right now I can rule out this link.'' Weber, who reputedly earns up to 20 per cent ($10m) of Schumacher's $50m a-year salary, reckons Ferrari is a better 'marketing' image for a driver.
''When you think Ferrari, you think racing, motor sport, formula one,'' he said. ''Mercedes symbolizes luxury cars.''
EuroSpeedway race could move to oval Our sources in Germany tell us that next year's A1 Grand Prix race could move to the oval track at EuroSpeedway, but there would then be changes necessary to the cars and the issue is who would pay for them. We doubt this will happen but that is what the rumor mill says is being tossed around.
Will it be Lola, Dallara or Panoz (Elan)?UPDATE #5 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Look for the new Elan manufactured Panoz Champ Car to blow the existing Champ Car in the weeds, and that is sure to excite Champ Car fans. But more importantly the lower cost (and higher prize money to be announced at a later date) will bring new teams into the series. The new car will weigh about 165 pounds less than the existing car, and that in itself will make the slightly narrower and shorter car be significantly faster. In addition, the 2.65 liter turbocharged Ford Cosworth engine will pump out 775 HP (or perhaps even 800 HP), up from the current 750 HP. With the push-to-pass button the HP will now be 825 HP. That will put the new Champ Car more on par with a F1 car, though the F1 car will always be faster because it 1) Still weighs much less and, 2) The tire war means F1 has super sticky tires compared to the hard Bridgestones used in Champ Car.
It is expected Lola, which lost the bid to the American company, will make a bid to supply the new 2007 IRL chassis in a head-to-head competition with Dallara. We doubt IRL officials will allow Elan to supply cars to their series beyond 2006 if they are supplying the entire Champ Car grid, not at the rate IRL teams go through cars as they explode against the oval track walls.
10/10/05 AutoRacing1.com has learned through sources that Lola did not win the contract for the 2007 Champ Car. It is assumed, therefore, that American manufacturer Panoz (Elan Motorsports) will be named the exclusive supplier on Tuesday during Champ Car's planned media teleconference. Mark C.
10/05/05 As recently as the Las Vegas Champ Car race in late September it appeared Champ Car was poised to throw long-time chassis supplier Lola under the bus in favor of Panoz (formerly GForce) which, of course, is owned in part by ALMS founder Don Panoz. Now, it seems Lola may have regained the inside track on the ’07 Champ Car chassis. SPEEDTV.com
09/16/05 AutoRacing1.com has now learned that Dallara is out of the running and it's down to Lola and Panoz. Champ Car officials have visited both factories recently. Mark C.
09/16/05 We hear Dallara made a better financial proposal to Champ Car than Lola using the old Honda/Midland F1 project (with logical changes) and considering how fast the present GP2 and World Series by Renault cars there is no doubt they could build a fast Champ Car. We hear that since 2001 Dallara has been eyeing a Champ Car project and apparently they have come in with an aggressive bid. However, we suspect that Carl Haas' political ties will ultimately land Lola the deal.
09/16/05 Rumor has it that Lola was the frontrunner for the new Champ Car, but unconfirmed reports out of Italy tell us that Dallara has beat their price. Most, including us, are assuming Lola will get the contract, maybe. Could Dallara, which also supplies cars in the IRL, handle both leagues given how many cars and parts the IRL teams go through when they hit those walls?
Malaysia race to be run at night?UPDATE A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Are they going to put headlights on the cars because last time I checked the entire track was not lit. Until now, the Sepang circuit has made no announcements of ticket prices with only a little over a month to the event. Jim Ningh10/10/05 According to an exclusive scoop by Pitpass, a high level source has confirmed that round 5 of the inaugural A1GP will be held in Malaysia's Sepang International circuit at night with both the Sprint race and the Feature race to be run from 8.00pm Malaysian time.
Ridiculous money needed for F1UPDATE “It is true that we are speaking with Jordan about a 3rd driver seat for 2006, but nothing is decided yet. I cannot tell you much about the other options we are working on,” his manager, Arie Vliegenthart, Pastorelli's manager told GP2005.com. “In regard to amounts, sponsors or any other things, I cannot say anything at this moment.” 10/04/05 Reports say that Dutch youngster Nicky Pastorelli has offered the Midland Toyota F1 team $8 million to be the 3rd driver (Friday driver) in 2006. We can't imagine what a full-time regular driver must bring, but it must be between $10 million and $20 million. Meanwhile Midland will remain a backmarker team and Pastorelli gets to pay $8 million for what amounts to 19 Friday joyrides a year. Stupid.
Major Champ Car announcement Tuesday Champ Car has scheduled a media conference for a major announcement Tuesday about the future direction of the series. Sources say that it will be the much anticipated announcement for the exciting new 2007 Champ Car. See related rumor.
Shanghai to see 1000 HP engines Some mighty horse power is set to be unleashed on the Shanghai F1 circuit in 2005's grand prix season finale. BAR's Takuma Sato, for example, will have a new and reportedly mega Honda V10 fitted for what will be the Japanese's last race for BAR.
While Jenson Button cannot benefit from the one-off 'Shanghai special' in China because he started a new two-race phase at Suzuka, 'Taku' is due for a new V10. It will be Honda's most powerful V10 spec ever and apparently should near 1000hp.
Interestingly, with Kimi Raikkonen's Mercedes-Benz woes in Japan, the Finn will have to make do with the same engine he used to fight through the field in China. That is not the case for McLaren teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, and also - crucially - Renault rivals Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella. With the constructors' title in the balance, and the new one-off 'E'-spec Renault V10 to debut, it puts the battle well and truly in focus.
''There is no doubt that Kimi used his engine very hard through the race,'' Renault's Pat Symonds said on Monday. ''That may introduce some compromises into how they run that V10 in China.''
While the title-charging quartet will be thinking engines on Friday morning, Toyota's Jarno Trulli will just be trying to learn the Shanghai layout. Last year, after he left Renault, he had to make do with watching the inaugural race on TV.
''It doesn't affect anything,'' the Italian insisted. ''It'll just take ten laps to get used to it.''
Rusty could race some in 2006 Rusty Wallace made his 700th start in NASCAR's top series on Sunday at Kansas Speedway, and hinted that he might not stop at #706 at the end of the season. Wallace has maintained all year that his decision to retire after the season is final. But at a fan forum before the Banquet 400, he appeared to hedge a bit. "I did say 'full-time,'" he said. "I don't want to box myself out." The real tests of his resolve, Wallace said, will come after the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 20, and when the 2006 season opens at Daytona in February. "I'm hoping I'm content after Homestead and get through the Daytona 500," he said. "But if I just can't stand it, then I'm maybe going to pop in for a couple." As a retirement present, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius presented Wallace with a set of golf clubs at the drivers' meeting before Sunday's race. "You guys are probably getting sick of seeing me get all this stuff," Wallace told his fellow drivers. "But I'm enjoying it, even if you aren't." ESPN.com/AP
Emirates to sponsor 2nd McLaren team There were rumors in Suzuka that the Emirates Airline, which is owned by the ruling family of Dubai, is looking very seriously about a Formula 1 sponsorship deal. This may be related to stories of a second Mercedes-Benz team although we hear that the price tag is so high that it is hard for the Woking company to find any takers.
The team could be run from the old McLaren factory in Woking and the deal would include engines and chassis technology, in much the same way as the supposed second Honda team.
There has been talk of a Dubai team for some time but no sign of any real action but the Emirates rumors are stronger than most and so it will be interesting to see if there might be a 12th team in F1 in 2007. It is highly unlikely that anything will be achieved by next season but if Honda can do it, there is no real reason why McLaren could not given that the team has the facilities.
Such rumors are not new and have been around for at least a year but there is some potential for deals as Emirates likes to use to sport to promote its activities and is heavily involved in the Germany 2006 FIFA World Cup soccer next summer and will be title sponsor of Team New Zealand, which is challenging for the next America's Cup in yachting. This program will be over by June 2007 and so logically Emirates would be looking for long-term alternatives. Grandprix.com
Fisi out of Flav's favor According to Suzuka gossip, Giancarlo Fisichella received a stern dressing-down after ceding Japanese GP victory to Kimi Raikkonen on the last lap. Sources said Renault boss Flavio Briatore slammed his fist on the pitwall as his Roman driver failed to resist the quicker advance of Finn Kimi.
''The last lap happened,'' 'Flav' said afterwards, ''and in the end it was a good race for sport.''
Briatore described Fisichella's driving as 'very correct', sparking the question of whether he wished the 32-year-old should have defended his lead with more vigor.
''Absolutely not,'' said the Italian. ''It is painful and I am not happy, and I was surprised to have Kimi overtake in those circumstances.''
Fisichella, who has struggled to keep up with world champion teammate Fernando Alonso this year, said McLaren's Raikkonen had been near impossible to keep behind.
''He was much quicker than me, especially on the straight,'' Giancarlo said. ''I am a little bit disappointed but his car was just quicker than our car, as usual. What can I do?''
And, faced with the possibility of pushing even harder, Fisichella replied: ''I always try to keep my position but I also didn't want to end up in a collision.''
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