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IRL tried to gouge Queensland taxpayers The Indy Racing League tried to gouge more than $3 million a year extra out of Queensland taxpayers and, having first agreed to hold the race in October, then reneged on the deal.
Not content with the $11.6 million a year already poured into the event, the IRL demanded another $3 million and a date change.
But when the fledgling A1 Grand Prix showed more enthusiasm for the carnival, the Bligh Government gave up on the deadlocked negotiations and went with the new, global series.
Sports Minister Judy Spence yesterday hinted at the difficult behind-the-scenes negotiations that ended with Indy breaking its 18-year connection with the Gold Coast.
"The commercial deal they put to us would have required the State Government putting an additional $3 million into the event," she said. More ...
NASCAR to ban testing?UPDATE A decision on a new NASCAR testing policy should come soon as the sanctioning body looks at cutting costs, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said Tuesday in discussing issues facing the sport.
“We're going to need to react to that quickly because the budgets are being set for each team,” France said. “So we'll not waste any time on that. … [We will] be as aggressive as we can to take cost out of the system."
“The reduction of the number of events is not practical,” France said. “We have contracts in place and historically important events. Where would you choose? They're all successful in one form or another, so that would not be possible.”
“When someone is dominant like Jimmie has been, it's easier to want to revise some system that would somehow pull him back from being so dominant and make it a closer points battle,” France said. “But that ... wouldn't even be right.
“But secondly, it misses the point. We have a system that, if everybody performs well, we have more people that have a shot at the championship down the stretch. That's undeniable. You have to make the Chase in the first place. … As history will unfold, we'll have a period of years where someone will be as dominant as Jimmie, and it will go down in the history books. Then there will be other years where that won't happen, and we'll have a number of years of historically tight championship battles.”
11/10/08 NASCAR executives are moving toward perhaps a virtual ban on all testing through the early months of 2009, until the economy settles down, according to NASCAR teams. That's a reversal of the plan just a few months ago to open up testing for 24 days per team at Sprint Cup tour tracks. Currently teams can test en masse at seven official NASCAR tests at Cup tour speedways. And teams can test anywhere else at any time. NASCAR could bar teams from testing at any NASCAR-sanctioned tracks, such as Kentucky. Winston Salem Journal
Martin to replace Scott Speed at HomesteadUPDATE Martin's deal to drive the #84 Red Bull Toyota this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway has apparently fallen through. Sources close to the team say the deal was signed, sealed and all but delivered, only to have high level executives at General Motors nix it at the last minute. Martin is set to drive a Hendrick Motorsports Chevy full-time next season, and when GM brass got wind of Red Bull's plans, a series of phone calls was made to scuttle the deal just minutes before a press release was to be issued announcing it. The end result is reportedly an angry Martin, a disappointed Red Bull Racing Team, and a "Plan B" that could result in Scott Speed and Brian Vickers trading cars this weekend in Miami. SIRIUS Speedway
In an effort to secure a spot among the top 35 in the owner's standings, Team Red Bull is playing musical chairs this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. #83-Brian Vickers will swap rides with teammate #84-Scott Speed for the season finale. As a result, Vickers will have to qualify on time for Sunday's Ford 400 while Speed will be locked into the field no matter where he qualifies. Currently, the #84 is 17 points behind 35th place in the standings. Being inside that threshold at the end of the season is valuable, as it guarantees a starting spot for the first five races of 2009, including the prestigious Daytona 500. FoxSports
11/10/08 Today on “SIRIUS Speedway” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, host Dave Moody is reporting that Mark Martin will drive the #84 Red Bull Toyota this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, replacing Scott Speed. Host, Dave Moody: “Since taking over for the released AJ Allmendinger four races ago, Speed has recorded an average finish of 34.2, including a 40th yesterday in Phoenix. The team has fallen out of the Top-35 in owners’ points now. They now trail the Michael Waltrip Motorsports #47 team by 16 points with one race to go in the battle for that all important 35th position in the owner standings. An official announcement is expected from the team later this afternoon. Mark Martin, of course, enjoys a long relationship with Red Bull Racing general manager Jay Frye, for whom he drove at the former MB3 and Ginn Racing teams. He ran his final scheduled event for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. yesterday in Phoenix. He, of course, will move to Hendrick Motorsports full time in 2009. His arrangement with Red Bull Racing is, we are told, for one race only and will have no impact on the team's long term plans for Scott Speed. SIRIUS XM Radio PR
Bill Davis Racing's future uncertainUPDATE #6 Team owner Bill Davis said this weekend that a possible merger involving his Sprint Cup Series team has fallen through.
Widespread reports in recent weeks had Davis negotiating with Gillett-Evernham Motorsports majority owner George Gillett about a merger or outright purchase of Bill Davis Racing’s Cup operation, with a possible move by Gillett-Evernham to the Toyota camp. Sources told Sirius Speedway this weekend that Gillett has been unable to secure financing for the deal, and that talks have now stalled.
Davis did not comment specifically on a rumors of a merger with GEM, but admitted that he thought he had a potential merger done recently, only to have it fall through. Sirius-Speedway
11/09/08 Car owner Bill Davis has been open to selling part of his team to an investor - or even more - but all he has to show are "a couple of near misses."
The economy is making it more difficult to close a deal with banks less likely to lend large sums of money.
"Money availability seems to be the problem," he said.
With the season coming to a close, Davis is uncertain of his team 's future. He started the year with two cars but Jacques Villeneuve was unable to get sponsorship and the second car quickly went away. Caterpillar leaves as sponsor for Dave Blaney's team to join Richard Childress Racing and Davis hasn't found a replacement. More ...
Benson to Red Horse Racing? Sources close to Bill Davis Racing say that NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point leader Johnny Benson will move to Red Horse Racing next season, taking the majority of his current team -- and possibly his sponsor – along with him. Benson will race as a teammate to David Starr, reportedly with the backing of Benson’s current sponsor, Toyota Certified Used Vehicles. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point leader has declined to comment on his future plans recently, saying only that he will not return to BDR in 2009, and has contemplated retirement.
However, multiple sources close to the team say that crew chief Trip Bruce has already cleaned out his desk at BDR in anticipation of a move to Red Horse, which is co-owned by Tom Deloach and NASCAR On FOX commentator Jeff Hammond. Starr will reportedly run a full schedule for Red Horse in 2009, with backing from Zachry Holdings, Inc., which joined the team last month. Sirius-Speedway
Button could be replaced Briton Jenson Button is hopeful of retaining his drive with Honda in 2009 - but knows the younger, skilled contenders that will test with the squad this month have the ability to take his seat.
Honda struggled to compete with their 2008 car as they concentrated on development for 2009, leaving Button and teammate Rubens Barrichello frustrated.
The Japanese outfit are yet to announce their driver lineup for next season, and will give tests to GP2 pair Bruno Senna and Lucas di Grassi in the next two weeks.
Button, appearing at a media briefing for the Race of Champions event at Wembley Stadium, paused when asked about his future.
"I don't know how to answer that one really," he finally answered. "I'm going testing in a couple of weeks, which is positive, I guess."
Speaking afterwards to Eurosport, he said: "I haven't signed anything, but they (Honda) know how I feel and I think I know how they feel. Hopefully we'll sort something out soon.
"Bruno and Lucas are both testing in Barcelona and it'll be interesting to see how they cope with it.
"These days for drivers in GP2 it's not such a big leap: the GP2 car is only six or seven seconds slower than an F1 car and probably not that much slower than our car last season. And it's slick tires that they race on, so very similar to next year." More at Yahoo! Sports
Saleen Automotive circling the drainUPDATE CEO Paul Wilbur who left in August was also CEO of ASC when they went bust.
11/10/08 Saleen Automotive is the latest American carmaker to announce that it is seeking a potential buyer, with management acknowledging the firm has suffered financially from the economic downturn and rising fuel prices.
According to Automotive News, Saleen’s board has set a tentative timetable to receive preliminary indications of interest from prospective parties over the next two months and plans on finalizing a transaction early next year. In 2004 controlling interest was sold to investment group Hancock Park Associates in an effort to raise capital, however there were reportedly a number of major conflicts within the company, mostly between the Saleen family and the new management board.
The company has faced a number of hurdles since then, having lost its founder Steve Saleen last year and CEO Paul Wilbur in August of this year. September saw additional departures of many senior officials and a freeze on production of many major product lines. Saleen has also started selling its office and factory equipment in a clearinghouse style auction, with more than 20 brand new 2008 Mustang GTs, tools, cabinets, office equipment, and factory machinery all going under the hammer recently.
'Todt, Briatore, unlikely for FIA top job' (GMM) Former Ferrari boss Jean Todt is unlikely to succeed Max Mosley as the FIA's next president.
That is the belief of Radovan Novak, a member of the Paris body, the chief of the Czech motoring federation, and believed to be a close ally of Mosley.
He told motorline.cc that although Todt is already closely aligned with the FIA, his appointment as president is not likely.
"Of course, this is only my personal assessment: but I do not think that Jean Todt is the right person to be FIA president," he said.
"Todt definitely does not have the support of Bernie Ecclestone, and that is very important," said Novak, who earlier this year was caught up in a controversy for intimating that McLaren could have been involved with the Mosley sex scandal.
He said it is "immensely important" that Mosley's successor has Ecclestone, F1's chief executive and representative of the commercial rights holder, on side.
"If they would fight together, then it would be tough, because the teams would side with whoever benefits them the most."
Novak played down suggestions that Flavio Briatore might be another leading candidate for the role.
"Briatore is a very good manager, but then we would have the newspapers full of stories about his girls, which would be even worse than with Mr Mosley!" he joked.
Ultimately, Novak believes Mosley will opt to remain in the job for "another term".
Di Resta set to replace Sutil in 2009 - reportUPDATE #3 (GMM) Despite recently saying Force India will field an unchanged driver lineup in 2009, things have now changed, team co-owner Vijay Mallya has hinted.
The team's wide-ranging collaboration with McLaren-Mercedes was unveiled on Monday, sparking the Indian billionaire's admission that he is likely to bow to advice about who should occupy the Force India cockpits.
"They will recommend what they believe to be in the best interests of my team and I have to decide. And I would be hard pressed to ignore their advice," he is quoted as saying by Reuters.
The Scottish DTM driver Paul di Resta is on the verge of being promoted by McLaren into formula one, and the Spanish media speculated that McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa could be another option for a Force India race seat.
Mallya recently said he was happy about keeping Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil next year, but on Monday admitted he does not "at present" intend to change those plans with regards to 2009. More ...
Mercedes reports 'just rumor' - SutilUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' - see related rumor.
10/11/08 (GMM) A Force India chief has admitted the team is on the market to potentially switch engine partners ahead of the 2009 season.
Ian Phillips, the Silverstone based squad's director of business affairs, said current customer supplier Ferrari is being "non-committal" about packaging a KERS system to go with its engine next year.
"Ferrari don't want us to develop our own system, but are being a bit non-committal about whether they are even going to start the season with KERS," he said on BBC's radio Five Live from Fuji Speedway.
"Force India has to build a new car for the new regulations, and can't afford to build a non-KERS car and then have whoever turn around and say that KERS will be available from July or whatever," Phillips added.
He said it is "natural" that Force India, already linked with switches to Honda or Mercedes-Benz, is therefore asking other manufacturers about what they can offer.
10/09/08 (GMM) Team racer Adrian Sutil has dismissed as "just a rumor" suggestions that Force India is in talks with Mercedes-Benz.
We reported earlier this season that the Silverstone based squad may be considering a change of customer engine supplier, perhaps because Honda could be prepared to bundle a KERS system at a lower price than Ferrari for 2009 and beyond.
Asked by the German press at Fuji Speedway about the latest reports now linking Force India with Mercedes, 25-year-old Sutil replied: "That is probably just a rumor."
The German also expressed confidence that Force India, headed by the Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya, will go into next season with an unchanged driver lineup.
"I have been saying for most of the year that I have a contract for 2009," Sutil answered. "That is still the case, and I will honor it."
Rumors of discord at Force IndiaUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' - See related rumor.
09/11/08 (GMM) Vijay Mallya has gone some way towards confirming rumors that all is not well at present behind the closed doors of his formula one team.
We reported paddock rumblings recently that tension is a prominent sensation in the Force India garage at present, as team principal Colin Kolles and technical boss Mike Gascoyne apparently clash.
"Yes, there may be differences of opinion but these differences started even before I took over the team," Mallya, the team's ever-present co-owner, said last week at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Indian billionaire then warned: "Everybody knows I am the boss and I make the decisions."
Mallya's last point is perhaps at odds with some observers' perceptions that Kolles, who has been involved with a similar role at the Silverstone-based team since its final Jordan guise, calls the shots.
"The answer is absolutely not. Colin performs a role that I give him to perform and he's accountable to me. More ...
F1 money wars set to explode (GMM) A new row over money, with the formula one teams on one side and the sport's ruling bodies on the other, looks set to intensify.
Britain's The Guardian newspaper reports that the teams, now allied together and pledging undying unity in the FOTA alliance, are angry about the huge debts being serviced by formula one's owners CVC.
The newspaper said the more than $5 billion debts are requiring interest payments of more than $230m per year -- with the teams suspecting that the FIA are in cahoots with CVC and Bernie Ecclestone amid the latest push to radically slash costs.
They are reportedly concerned that the annual debt payments total more than the commercial revenue they receive from CVC.
"We have had banks, oil companies, financial institutions and pharmaceutical companies with us as sponsors. We have raised this money. Why do we have to keep cutting costs?" a FOTA insider is quoted as saying.
"The sport earns a lot of money so let's look at our share," he added.
Ecclestone, CVC and F1's holding company Delta3 are, however, staying firm, insisting that teams receive more commercial revenue today than at any other time, even amidst a global financial crisis.
But another insider told The Guardian that the teams are keen to sit down with F1's commercial parties to renegotiate their share -- also given Ecclestone's push into new markets that are willing to pay higher race sanction fees.
"(The calendar) used to be 12 races, then a maximum of 17. There used to be 80 per cent of the races in Europe and now 80 per cent are across Asia: the costs to the teams are much higher now," the insider said.
Speedcars eyeing Abu Dhabi GP "Nothing is impossible," according to Claudio Berro, the newly-appointed Operations Director of the Speedcar Series, not even getting the Dubai-born event to feature on next year's inaugural Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix program.
The event is in its second year and three of this season's six legs will be held in Dubai starting December.
However, next year the series could be flagged off a month earlier so that it can be incorporated in the agenda of the season-ending Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix on November 15. And Berro, Ferrari F1's former team manager and press officer, says pushing for that to happen is one of his top priorities.
"Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport around the world, but the Speedcar Series is an exciting championship as well. We have a very powerful 650hp car and this makes racing very exciting. The Speedcar Series is relatively new, just a year old and nothing is impossible if you like to put it that way," Berro said.
The Italian added that his organization is in talks with F1's governing body, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) to get things going.
"Yeah [we have spoken]. I have to follow up on the Abu Dhabi [race]. The first race is very important and the Speedcar Series will work together with the FIA to get maybe three races [alongside F1] instead of the two we had last year. I think the combination of the Speedcar Series and F1 will be the most important mix in the world of motorsport."
Green Prix or A1GP prepared to replace IndyCar in SurfersUPDATE #4 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement that A1GP will replace the IndyCar Series in Surfers Paradise. The IRL will instead focus on events like the Newton race in the cornfields of Iowa. Ask international giants like Audi, Porsche and Maserati, all rumored to be eyeing an IndyCar involvement, where they would prefer to race. As with the Versus TV decision, it appears the IRL is content on a no-growth model.
Former Formula One motor racing world champ Alan Jones is a happy man today, having pushed for the A1 Grand Prix to come Down Under to the Gold Coast to fill any potential void left by IndyCars.
"We want to get it here on the Gold Coast, we make no bones about it. It's a fantastic part of the world to be racing in," Jones told The Bulletin in the lead-up to Indy this year when doubts were growing that the Indy Racing League would stick with the Surfers Paradise race.
Premier Anna Bligh revealed that negotiations with the Indy Racing League had broken down due to insurmountable hurdles over funding and dates.
Gold Coast resident Jones has energetically pushed his open-wheel A1 Grand Prix racing version as an alternative to Indy, unashamedly branding it a better proposition than Indy with a wider global audience at less cost.
10/28/08 "The Government is committed financially, the V8s have committed, so it's two thirds of the pie ... racing will continue here right through until 2013 and it will still remain the most iconic event in Australia," said Gold Coast Indy general manager Greg Hooton.
It was a view backed up yesterday by Sports Minister Judy Spence, who said the festival would go ahead next year with or without the IRL.
"We've signed up with the V8 Supercars for the next five years," she said. "We are still talking with the IRL people, but if we can't do that deal in the next 14 days we have other leagues interested in coming to Queensland and racing."
With an answer still almost two weeks away, it would leave Mr. Hooton only 11 months to slot another racing series in its place -- which did not faze him.
"From our perspective the ability to make some changes is there and we will still have a great event," he said.
With its Ferrari designed car and engine A1GP is a more sophisticated and international series that is a better fit for a major international event like Surfers than the IRL, which prefers to race in obscurity in places like Newton, Iowa
Former Formula 1 world champion Alan Jones yesterday repeated his call for his A1GP series to take over where the IndyCars leave off.
"What I have to stress upon people is that we aren't an alternative, we're actually an improvement," said Mr. Jones, who told The Bulletin earlier this year of his desire to see the A1GP at Surfers.
The Bulletin understands A1GP powerbrokers and the State Government have already discussed the option of fitting into the preferred late October date.
One Government official revealed on Saturday that a European series had 'chased' the Government to take the place of the IndyCars should the negotiations fail, but declined to confirm if it was the A1GP.
Mr. Jones laughed off suggestions the GP2 or Formula 3 race series could take the IndyCars' place.
"Nobody here even knows what GP2 is and as for F3, they're like starter motors for our cars," he said.
The 1980 F1 world champion, Mr. Jones said if the Surfers event was about gaining exposure for the Gold Coast, his A1GP was a far better option.
The A1GP had 25 national teams competing and was broadcast to 155 countries, with Monaco and Korea signing up recently. Goldcoast.com
10/26/08 Rival open-wheel series are lining up to come to the Gold Coast to fill any breach left by IndyCars after this year.
A State Government source indicated on Saturday that alternative series have been 'chasing' state authorities and race organizers to come to the Gold Coast if the Indy Racing League decided not to return after 2008.
The insider said that the enthusiasm of the rival open-wheel series was partly the reason the Government had remained firm on its late October date for Indy at Surfers Paradise.
However, Sports Minister Judy Spence declined to provide any detail of which cars could be coursing the streets of Surfers beyond 2008.
"I won't talk about alternatives," said Ms Spence. "We have agreed to make a decision in the next 14 days. It's been a good weekend. The IRL team have come to every event and spent hours and hours talking to us and we understand each other's positions very well." More ...
Obama to back auto industry bailout President-elect Barack Obama has indicated he will back the American car industry’s plea for a huge bailout from the US Treasury.
Obama is believed to be supportive of a request made to Henry Paulson, the Treasury Secretary, asking him to financially support GM, Ford and Chrysler.
Obama called the flagging car industry “the backbone of American manufacturing” and insisted his team would put together a more aggressive rescue package than the Bush administration.
The move comes the week after GM and Ford signaled they would run out of money by the end of next year, potentially leading to a catastrophic loss of jobs.
Industry leaders have been clamoring to secure some of the $700 billion fund, which is meant to aid America’s financial system.
Secretary Paulson has already turned the carmakers request for funding down once, saying that he believes the money should be used to shore-up banks and to make credit available, which in turn would help the car industry. Autocar.co.uk
Walker Racing eyes Indy Lights or ALMS Walker Racing has an update of future plans linked on the front page of their website. The article includes this quote.
"One of the best things about Atlantics is that it was closely aligned to Champ Car and drivers entering the series used it as a good stepping stone to Champ Car. Of course, now Champ Car is gone leaving the Indy Lights program as the feeder series for IndyCar. With that being said, the Atlantic Series needs to perhaps reevaluate where the series sits on the driver development ladder.
"We are looking at a number of other formulas to compete in and would not rule out the possibility of doing Atlantics again. For us, it's really important to have a major program such as ALMS or IndyCar and use the Atlantics or Indy Lights to feed those programs.
"Developing the sponsorship dollars and partners we need to move forward has been our primary goal. We have been 'fall cleaning' and emptying out a lot of surplus stuff we have collected along the way while we develop our 2009 program."
Mum's the word on NASCAR mergers If teams are talking to others in the garage area about merging, the owners and executives weren’t talking about it Sunday in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage.
“I can save you a lot of time here – I can’t talk about any of this,” said Chip Ganassi, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing at Phoenix International Raceway. “It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it, but I can’t talk about all this stuff.”
Ganassi’s team reportedly has been in talks with Petty Enterprises and Dale Earnhardt Inc. – two teams that also have reportedly been in discussions with each other.
Petty Enterprises CEO David Zucker politely declined to talk about any merger possibilities. More ...
2009 Crew Chief for NewmanUPDATE During SPEEDtv's NASCAR Raceday, Wendy Venturini reported that #43 crew chief, Jeff Meendering, will be Tony Stewart's car chief on the #14 Stewart-Hass Racing Chevy in 2009 and that rumor has it that Tony Gibson will leave DEI and be #39-Newman's crew chief, plus bring along the complete #8 DEI pit crew.
11/03/08 Longtime Richard Childress Racing team executive Bobby Hutchens confirmed Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway that he has a contract offer to become general manager at Stewart Haas Racing. "I have an opportunity with Stewart Haas," Hutchens said as he walked through the garage toward pit road prior to the Dickies 500. "I'll make a decision here in a couple days." Several sources close to SHR, Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. -- Hutchens' current employer -- told ESPN.com that Hutchens had already signed a contract with Stewart Haas, but Hutchens said otherwise. "Nothing is signed," Hutchens said. ESPN.com
5-year Surfers deal can be signed in two weeks?UPDATE #3 The Queensland Government remains locked in negotiations to secure the future of the Gold Coast Indy 300.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the Government had continued negotiations with the United States-based Indy Racing League bosses over the weekend.
Ms Bligh is expected to make an announcement in the coming days about whether the iconic event would go ahead after next year.
"I don't want to speculate on negotiations that are still occurring, obviously these involve negotiations with proponents in the United States," she said yesterday.
"There were discussions happening over the weekend. We will make an announcement as soon as we have confirmation."
Following the conclusion of this year's Indy on October 26, Gold Coast Indy chairman Terry Mackenroth was reported as saying there was a 'deadset, drop-dead, cut-off of 14 days from now to have the future of the event sorted out'.
Yesterday, Mr. Mackenroth was non-committal, refusing to confirm that an announcement on the event's future would be made today.
However, he did confirm he expected an announcement on the Gold Coast's biggest event to be made within the 14-day time line.
"We are still finalizing a number of things," he said.
Repeated calls to the Queensland Government yesterday to find out a date of the Indy announcement were not returned. Goldcoast.com
10/27/08 Below we suggested that the Surfers race be moved to the Spring. Apparently the IRL thinks the same. Sports Minister Judy Spence, who met Mr. George and IRL operatives several times over the past four days, said dates remained a hurdle.
"They would prefer to come in March and we have said March is not an acceptable time for us," she said. It takes 100 days to construct the track and we just cannot start that in January in the middle of a Gold Coast holiday season."
The Australian GP F1 race is March 29th so per FIA rules the IndyCar race would have to be March 1st or March 8th (i.e. 3 or more weeks before the F1 race) or April 19th or April 26th (i.e. 3 or more weeks after the F1 race).
The April dates are not possible because the Long Beach race cannot be moved. Early March would mean the IRL would open its season overseas in Australia (just like F1 does), then back to the USA for its domestic opener in St. Petersburg, Florida on April 5th. Because of the cold temperatures in March the Motegi race would likely stay in September and note be paired with Surfers, at least for 2009. Mark C.
10/23/08 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, The IRL and the Surfers race organizers appear to be at an impasse. The IRL needs to finish its season in the USA and Surfers cannot move the race earlier as it would go head-to-head with Australia's version of the Super Bowl and its playoffs. What would you do? Ken Carlson
Dear Ken, Indeed it is a difficult one to solve. Given the circumstances, we would move the race to the spring and move Motegi back to the spring so the two can be paired. Recall that the Surfers race used to be in the Spring. They just need to set a date at least 3 weeks either side if the Australia F1 race per the FIA rules. This solution allows Surfers to be a points paying race and it to be paired with Motegi. They should have never moved the Motegi date from the spring, where it has always been, until this was resolved. The IRL jumped the gun on this one thinking Surfers would agree to a September date alongside Motegi. Mark C.
10/23/08 The IRL and Surfers Paradise IndyCar race organizers are meeting this week to discuss the future of the race, and a decision is expected in about two weeks.
Scheduling in the regular late October race is the stumbling block — the mostly U.S.-based IRL wants its season finished before the start of the National Football League season, and Gold Coast organizers don't want the race moved up because it will clash with Australia's national football finals.
Organizers want a five-year contract to continue running the event and the Queensland state government, which backs the race with about $8 million of funding each year, would prefer that the date stay in late October.
"We will be holding a number of meetings over the weekend. If an agreement can be reached, a binding contract will be signed within 14 days of the event," Indy 300 chairman Terry Mackenroth said Thursday.
The IRL's commercial division president, Terry Angstadt, who arrived just several hours earlier from the IRL's head office in Indianapolis, said three scheduling options were being discussed in an effort to keep the race in Australia.
Lighter drivers may have advantage with KERS Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber believes that lighter drivers may have an upper hand regarding weight distribution on their cars when KERS is introduced.
This being so because the less a driver weighs the more options the team has when moving ballast around. "Unfortunately it looks like the guys on the heavier side could potentially find it more difficult,' said Mark Webber in an interview with 'autosport'.
"This shouldn't be used as an excuse, though," he added, "The weight distribution could turn out to be absolutely perfect once the car is designed. It is just there's less scope for the heavier guys."
Logano out of the #20..before he gets in?UPDATE Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs reiterated on Saturday that Joey Logano will drive the No. 20 Toyota in 2009. "Everything he's done up to now he's done exceptionally well," Gibbs said. "When you get to this level, everybody is really good."
But how long will it take the 18-year-old to catch up?
Logano has failed to finish on the lead lap in the three Cup races he's run this season (Editor's Note: i.e. he may really be a wanker), which has left the rookie with an average showing of 37th. In last Sunday's Dickie's 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, he was unable to maintain minimum speed on the racetrack. But NASCAR still allowed Logano to compete. Fox Sports
"We threatened him within an inch of his life — just finish the race," Gibbs joked. "It's just going to take time."
Logano has performed like a wanker since making his Cup debut. Nothing special here
11/08/08 Let's start the ESPN blog with a bang and throw out the latest rumor going around the Cup garage area. Will plans to have rookie Joey Logano replace Tony Stewart next season in the #20 Toyota change? Speculation is Joe Gibbs Racing officials are trying to work out a deal to get #1-Martin Truex Jr. from Dale Earnhardt Inc. to drive the #20 car next year. If JGR can't get Truex, they might make a run at #2-Kurt Busch, who wants out of his deal with Penske Racing.
A quick warning: Rumors are rampant these days in NASCAR because of the difficult economic times. So here's another rumor: JGR president J.D. Gibbs is expected to arrive at Phoenix today and possibly address this issue to deny all of it. The Logano/Truex gossip started because of DEI's tenuous situation right now on sponsorship, and growing concerns that the 18-year-old Logano might not be ready to race Cup full-time next year. But Home Depot, primary sponsor for the #20 Camry, already has invested tons of money in a marketing campaign for Logano.
DEI picked up the 2009 option on Truex's contract in August, but another rumor floating through the garage is that Bass Pro Shops, the primary sponsor of Truex's car at DEI, may join Stewart-Haas Racing next year as the second sponsor for #39-Ryan Newman. DEI has discussed merger possibilities with Chip Ganassi Racing and Petty Enterprises. Will any of this actually happen? Probably not, but it shows how crazy things are these days on the speculation about the future for NASCAR teams and drivers. ESPN blog
NASCAR teams to lay off hundredsUPDATE This Kansas City Star article talks about just how bad it is in the NASCAR paddock. Dodge will soon be out and when GM finally files for bankruptcy, NASCAR will be reeling.
11/08/08 There's talk of layoffs -- hundreds of them -- once the current NASCAR season ends. Hendrick Motorsports and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team, JR Motorsports, have already cut staff. Depending on how you count it, as many as 15 current full-time Cup teams face questions about their sponsorship for 2009. You can multiply that number by two or three if you include the Nationwide and Truck series.
Red Bull to announce Speed Red Bull is expected to make if official next weekend at Homestead that Scott Speed will drive the No. 84 car next season. That's been all but set, but Red Bull hasn't made an announcement while Speed gained NASCAR approval at various sized tracks based on his performance. Roanoke.com
Lawsuit delay could jeopardize Kentucky Speedway Cup date
Kentucky Speedway’s founders have received a 60-day extension to file their next brief in their antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR and International Speedway Corp., pushing a decision on the appeal likely until April 2009 at the earliest.
The track is expected to be sold to Speedway Motorsports Inc. by the end of December. SMI Chairman Bruton Smith has said that he cannot get a Cup race for the track until the lawsuit is resolved, partly because he is considered a co-conspirator in the non-awarding of a Cup race to Kentucky.
Final briefs, which were supposed to be in by Dec. 16, have been pushed to Jan. 28. More ...
Evernham leaving GEM?UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. A fan approached Ray Evernham at the SEMA Show on Wednesday and asked what driver Reed Sorenson will bring to Gillett Evernham Motorsports next season. "I'm not getting a new driver," Evernham said. "Gillett Evernham is getting a new driver. I'm not really involved there." Evernham's role as the minority owner at GEM has been reduced to almost nothing since June. Soon his minority ownership will be reduced to almost nothing as plans are in the works to buy out most of his remaining 20% interest in the organization he formed in 2001. "We're working on that and hope to make some announcement shortly about where I'm going to be doing for the rest of my racing career," Evernham said.
Evernham hesitates to use the word retirement. He still plans to be actively involved in racing, whether it's through his broadcast career with ESPN or other ventures he working on. He's opening a new shop in the Lake Norman area Charlotte, N.C., that will serve as his headquarters. Does his future include owning another race team? "Let me think about that ... uh, no," he said with a laugh. Does it include a management role, such as the one he was offered with Stewart-Haas Racing? "Let me think about that too . . . uh, no," Evernham said. Evernham doesn't want a role that consumes his life as being an owner and crew chief did. He's enjoying getting back to grassroots racing with the new fuel-injected cars he's building and spending more time with his 16-year-old son. ESPN.com
10/16/08 Tuesday [Oct 14th] on “SIRIUS Speedway” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, host Dave Moody spoke with Gillett Evernham Motorsports co-owner Ray Evernham. Evernham talked about the rumor that he is considering reducing his stake in the race team and reports that Gillett Evernham Motorsports is contemplating a manufacturer switch from Dodge to Toyota. On the rumor that he is considering selling part of his stake in Gillett Evernham Motorsports:
Host, Dave Moody: “Randy Lajoie said on Sirius NASCAR Radio last week that you told him you’re considering selling your remaining 20% stake in Gillett Evernham Motorsports to the Gilletts. True?”
Ray Evernham: “We’ve talked about some things with some stuff that they have going on. I do have a percentage stake that Mr. Gillett and I could talk about but a lot of it depends on what his future is and where he’s headed. But that offer is on the table, yes. Not the complete. Just to make me a smaller partner. It was not the complete buyout.”
Moody: “So you’re not going to disappear. You’ll just go from one-fifth to a fraction smaller than one-fifth?”
Evernham: “Correct.” SIRIUS Speedway PR
10/13/08 Ray Evernham, who has a minority share in Gillett Evernham Motorsports, said he was not involved in the decision to release rookie Patrick Carpentier. Evernham stressed he's a minority partner in the team and hinted maybe that role could change to not being a part of the team. "That's largely up to the Gilletts,'' Evernham said if he would remain with the team. "I want to help Mr. Gillett, and I'll do whatever I can to help him be successful, but I also want to pursue ... I'm enjoying my life at ESPN. I'm enjoying a little bit of semi-retirement. I want to help as much as I can, but I also want to make sure I have creditability with the viewers and that's important to me.'' Roanoke Times
Hornish back to Indy Cars?UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today because at Phoenix International Raceway Friday morning, #77-Sam Hornish Jr. denied he was leaving NASCAR and heading back to the IRL for the 2009 season and plans to be back in Sprint Cup in 2009 try to win races in the #77 car.
11/03/08 Though #77-Sam Hornish Jr. again finished ahead of fellow rookie of the year contender #01-Regan Smith, padding his lead in the ROTY standings, rumors continue to swirl that Hornish Jr. could be headed back to Indy Cars next season [to replace Helio Castroneves who could end up behind bars for tax evasion]. Yahoo Sports
GM and Chrysler to merge, Chrysler to disappearUPDATE #11 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. General Motors Corp. and Cerberus Capital Management LP have called off talks about a possible deal to transfer Chrysler LLC's automotive operations to GM. "GM has recently explored the possibility of a strategic acquisition that it believed would generate significant cost reduction synergies and substantially strengthen GM's financial position in the medium and long term, while being neutral or modestly positive to cash flow even in the near term," the Detroit automaker said Friday in a statement outlining fresh cash saving measures. "While the acquisition could potentially have provided significant benefits, the company has concluded that it is more important at the present time to focus on its immediate liquidity challenges and, accordingly, considerations of such a transaction as a near-term priority have been set aside." Sources close to Cerberus confirmed the talks had been suspended.
10/30/08 There is a chance that there could be an agreement between General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC by Tuesday that would result in half of Chrysler’s assembly plants closing and 24,000 lost jobs, Kimberly Rodriguez, principal of Grant Thornton’s automotive practice, said today.
Such a deal would require a total of at least $10-billion in assistance from the federal government and investments from other stakeholders.
“I do think there is substantial advantage to it getting done before Tuesday,” Rodriguez said at a news conference where Grant Thornton’s advisory and restructuring practice presented a study called, “The State of Chrysler.”
After Tuesday, Election Day, the Bush administration officially enters a lame-duck transition period for the next president, which could change the political dynamics. Also, Rodriguez said, the faster a deal happens, the faster the changes can be made at plants during shutdowns scheduled for December.
“I just think it gets more costly,” as time goes by, she said.
Key findings of Grant Thornton’s report are as follows:
• Seven core models are likely to survive: Dodge Ram, Dodge Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Charger, Dodge Caliber, Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
• Half of Chrysler's 14 existing manufacturing facilities could close.
• Dealer consolidation efforts will intensify. Chrysler and GM combined have 22,000 franchises.
• Hundreds of supplier companies would be impacted, which could result in the loss of an additional 50,000 jobs.
“I think this is going to be a joint pain effort,” Rodriguez said.
Although the toll will be heavy, Rodriguez said the benefits may outweigh the worst-case scenario, which would be a bankruptcy, and said a GM-Chrysler deal has several potential benefits:
GM can combine its overseas strength and hybrid technology with Chrysler’s seven key models that account for 56% of its sales.
“Chrysler’s utilization of its facilities is very low,” said Lars Luedeman, a manager at Grant Thornton. “If you can close seven of those 14 facilities in relatively short order, you can see areas where the Jeep Wrangler, the Grand Cherokee, that is coming on in 2010, are very high volume, very good products.”
The combined company will have more liquid assets, thanks to the cash on Chrysler's balance sheet.
Significant cost-reduction opportunities will be possible, especially in sales, marketing and administrative functions.
“Chrysler as we know it will cease to exist very soon,” Rodriguez said. “At this point, there are very few options available to either company. We believe a transaction between GM and Chrysler is likely because it would be the most expedient way to protect cash and jobs at both companies.” More ...
Big changes for Force IndiaUPDATE Per this hotnews story, part 1 of this rumor (started by AR1.com) below is now 'fact.' And per this AR1.com story, parts 2 and 3 are 'fact' as well. Mallya also revealed that "the new technical direction of the team" - believed to be a tie-up with McLaren-Mercedes - will be announced on November 10.
11/05/08 Rumor has it that Force India team boss Vijay Mallya is expected to announce
The team will be using an entire drivetrain from McLaren-Mercedes in 2009. We expect that to be announced on Monday.
The departure of Colin Kolles, who is understood to be less than popular in Mercedes-Benz circles because of his Audi ties.
May fire Mike Gascoyne. Gascoyne has a habit of telling team owners how to run the team yet has a reputation of designing cars that run at the back of the grid.
Huge losses expected for GM, will NASCAR be affected? General Motors Corp. will report its third-quarter earnings Friday, and cuts are expected at various levels to try and curtail future losses.
The company is spending billions more than it's making amid the worst economic crisis in decades and struggling to obtain financing because of its sub-investment grade, or junk, bond status.
The chief executives from GM and Ford, as well as Chrysler LLC, were lobbying legislators in Washington, D.C., on Thursday trying to impress upon them the need for federal aid.
GM has said recently that factory production needs to reflect declining sales, which typically means job cuts.
The automaker is reportedly planning to announce factory closures, although it is likely to cut production by eliminating shifts, overtime bans or temporary plant shutdowns.
GM also is expected to slow its product development schedule, delaying some models and engines at least for a short time.
GM's sales in the United States are down 20.3 percent this year and the automaker has lost approximately $70 billion since 2004 so how can they justify a NASCAR program given the fact it has not helped them to improve sales whatsoever. In fact of all the manufacturers in NASCAR, GM has the worse losses despite winning in NASCAR. Of course getting beat by Toyota in the Truck and Nationwide Series championship and Kyle Busch's Cup car has trounced the Chevys on a regular basis, has resulted in the GM product looking inferior which, may if anything, be driving sales even lower than they might already be. Once the bean counters realize this, they may deep six their NASCAR program completely.
Is Lewis Hamilton about to get engaged?UPDATE Lewis Hamilton has brushed off recent rumors that he may be getting engaged to Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger. Nicole was seen wearing a ring on her engagement finger earlier this week. He said: "I'm very happy.
Nicole Scherzinger with Hamilton
We're both very happy. I definitely sleep with a big smile on my face. I'm very fortunate not just to have success but I do have the most beautiful woman by my side."
11/05/08 As F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, 23, left his hotel in Brazil the day after winning the F1 title his American girlfriend, Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger, 30, who he has been dating for a year, was seen sporting a ring on her engagement finger. “It didn’t look quite like an engagement ring but could it be a sign of things to come?”
Sight of 2009 F1 cars to 'shock' (GMM) Observers will get a "tremendous shock" when the first 2009-specification formula one cars are unveiled, according to a figure close to the development of Renault's next single seater.
Alfonso Martinez, head of the Spanish arm of the technology consulting firm Altran, is working with a group of Madrid-based engineers on aspects of the R29 machine.
Next year, slick tires and KERS are set to arrive in formula one, but Martinez said the most visually dramatic changes are the result of sweeping aerodynamic limitations.
Bodywork add-ons like flip-ups and winglets have been completely banned, the front wing is bigger, and Williams recently tried a 2009-spec rear wing; dramatically higher and smaller than in 2008.
Referring to the impact of the new bodywork rules, Martinez told the Spanish sports daily Marca: "The shock is going to be tremendous when these cars are seen."
He is not sure the changes will have the desired effect in inspiring more overtaking.
"There continues to be a lot of dirty air in the (car's) wake, although less than before."
Timo Glock - did he give title to his friend Hamilton?
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has played down the possibility that Timo Glock and Toyota were in cahoots in the decisive moments of McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton's championship victory in Brazil last Sunday.
Because of the German's incredibly slow final tour of the wet Interlagos circuit, albeit as he struggled with dry tires, conspiracy theories have raged that he deliberately handed Hamilton fifth place so that the Briton won the drivers' title rather than Ferrari's Felipe Massa.
45 per cent of the 20,000 respondents on Germany's RTL website answered 'yes' to a poll about whether they thought Glock's actions were deliberate.
"I would think the likelihood of Glock being in league with McLaren is about zero, but you can never say 'no way', can you, because you never know?" F1 chief executive Ecclestone told The Times.
In a subsequent interview, with BBC radio's Radio 5 Live program, the 78-year-old billionaire stepped away from claims of a race 'fix' even further.
He slammed the conspiracy theories as "complete and utter nonsense".
"I'm quite sure Glock had no idea what the position with everybody was at that time. He had enough problems keeping the car on the road.
"It's not even worth thinking about," Ecclestone added.
Toyota's denials have also been robust, and 26-year-old Glock - who very recently was an open critic of Hamilton's aggressive driving style - was incredulous when La Gazzetta dello Sport put the theory to him straight after the race.
FOTA to agree to 5m euro engine proposal (GMM) Formula one team bosses this week have been meeting for more discussions about future rules.
The chief motivation of the London meeting is believed to have been efforts to stave off the threat of standard engines in 2010.
According to the British newspaper The Guardian, FOTA - the alliance of the ten F1 teams - is willing to agree to the FIA's counterproposal that manufacturers make customer engines available to privateers for no more than 5 million euros per season.
"This was a figure that we have targeted as being part of our objective," McLaren's Ron Dennis said.
With the 5m euro engines for 2010 combined with the extension of engine life next year from two to three races, FOTA is hopeful the FIA will be satisfied with the sport's cost-cutting agenda.
"This is a first package of proposals, voted unanimously, which will bring important cost reductions," Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, the FOTA chairman, told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.
MotoGP to race in Singapore? According to reports in ‘Today’ a free newspaper published by Mediacorp, after a very successful debut Formula One event on the streets of Singapore, the MotoGP Championship are looking to secure a race date for their 2011 championship season.
The paper reports that MotoGP boss Carmelo Ezpeleta revealed that the MotoGP series has already signed an agreement with a Singapore company to host the event.
American to be new FIA Deputy President? America's Nick Craw (62) will be nominated as the new FIA Deputy President at the General Assembly this week. The head of the Automobile Competition Committee for the United States (ACCUS), which governs US racing on behalf of the FIA, Craw has a stellar career behind him. A graduate of Princeton University with a Master's degree from Harvard Business School, he raced in the 1960s and 1970s enjoying success in both Formula Atlantic and in touring car racing. He ran his own Scorpio Racing Enterprises business but in the 1970s was involved with the Peace Corps, and became its director in 1973-1974. He went on to become the president and chief executive officer of the Sports Car Club of America for 17 years. Craw became the SCCA's delegate to ACCUS, served a term as vice president and was chairman of the National Motorsports Council. He then departed to become head of US Sailing. He became head of ACCUS in 2005 when he joined the FIA World Council.
A highly-respected figure, the appointment of Craw is a good sign for the FIA. Grandprix.com
Are Lowe's days numbered at SMI track in Charlotte? Lowe's Companies Inc. will continue as title sponsor of Lowe's Motor Speedway in 2009, executives from both companies announced today.
The home-improvement retailer obtained naming rights for the track, formerly known as Charlotte Motor Speedway, in 1999. Lowe's will retain naming rights at the superspeedway as well as marketing exclusivity in the home-improvement category through a one-year contract extension. The initial agreement was for 10 years, but this renewal is just for 1 year so that appears to point to possible trouble and the end may be near.
The original 10-year deal was for a total of $35 million. The story also says that Lowe's gives up its category exclusivity at other SMI tracks, with the exception of Atlanta Motor Speedway, where the company will sponsor an unspecified NASCAR race. This is another sign Lowe's is setting up for an exit.
Alonso staying at RenaultUPDATE #10 Renault F1 is expected to confirm Fernando Alonso as its lead driver in 2009 later today. The big question is not whether the Spaniard will stay but rather who will be with him in the team. There have been rumors that the company is going to keep Nelson Piquet for another season but we have also heard that test driver Lucas di Grassi is a better bet for the long-term and that Piquet may be shunted out to Honda Racing F1, which is apparently keen to try him out. This would work out for Renault team boss Flavio Briatore, who owns a percentage in both drivers and thus will be able to earn from both rather than just one.
Di Grassi has impressed not only as a test driver but did a great job in GP2 this year with Campos Grand Prix (run by Briatore acolyte Alejandro Agag), finishing third in the title despite missing the first three races. Given that he was runner-up to Timo Glock in 2007 this was not entirely surprising.
Piquet says he is confident of staying with the team but his results this year have been patchy at best with a lucky second place in Germany, but otherwise only four points scoring finishes with fourth in Japan, sixth in Hungary, seventh in France and eighth in China. He finished 12th in the World Championship. There is an argument that he will do better next year having gained experience this season, but he came into F1 with plenty of testing mileage and many feel he does not have what it takes to be a top line star. Grandprix.com
A happy Fernando Alonso
10/30/08 Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso says he's thrilled with his ride for 2009, though he won't reveal any contract details until after this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix. "[I'm] very happy," the Renault driver said Thursday, adding an announcement will be made next week.
Whether Alonso stays at Renault or moves to another team has been one of the most anticipated decisions of the year.
"With Alonso's indecision, other teams tend to wait, too," said teammate Nelson Piquet Jr.
10/27/08 (GMM) The signs are growing by the day that Fernando Alonso will soon announce his intention to stay at Renault in 2009.
The Spaniard, who won back to back titles with the French team, has been the subject of intense speculation following his return from McLaren this year.
Rumors have linked him with moves to Ferrari, BMW, Honda and others, but it now seems he has decided to commit at least for another season with Enstone based Renault.
"The chance (that he stays at Renault) is fairly big," team boss Flavio Briatore said in interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
The Italian hinted strongly that an announcement is imminent, reaffirming that Alonso's decision is due "by the end of the season".
"The last race is this Sunday," Briatore reminded, "so both of the sides will decide then."
Alonso's countryman, the Ferrari test driver Marc Gene, agrees that the 27-year-old Spaniard is likely to stay at Renault in 2009 rather than switch any time soon to Ferrari.
"There is no place at Ferrari for Alonso for at least two years," Gene said at the weekend at Jarama, where in a 2007 Ferrari he broke Gilles Villeneuve's long-standing track record of the Spanish circuit.
Gene explained to Telecinco: "2011 is a long way in the future, and lots can happen in between." More ...
HOF Racing looking at changes, could fold Hall of Fame Racing's new owners Diamondbacks' executives Jeff Moorad and Tom Garfinkel inherited a contract to get engines and chassis from Joe Gibbs Racing, which switched to Toyota from Chevrolet. Driver J.J. Yeley soon discovered he didn't have the same equipment as Gibbs' drivers Busch, Tony Stewart or Denny Hamlin. There wasn't an exchange of technical information, as often happens between other teams with similar deals. "Hall of Fame Racing thought the relationship it had with Joe Gibbs Racing was better than it was," Yeley said.
"Because they thought they had a better product than they really did, it almost made them blind that they had a problem." Garfinkel admitted, "We inherited a contract that didn't have a lot of flexibility to it. It was more of a customer-supplier relationship than an alliance. We were hopeful we could evolve the relationship in that direction, and that didn't take place." Joey Logano, who takes over Stewart's #20 Camry next year, drove the #96 twice and didn't finish better than 32nd.
"It was different than what I was used to driving after doing a lot of testing with Gibbs," he said. Yeley struggled even after a crew chief change. "They (owners) started hanging that blame and pressure on me. I hope now they realize it wasn't the driver. There were promises of big-name crew chiefs and a lot of testing. These were things we never really got to do." Yeley didn't qualify for four of 21 races, triggering a clause that reduced DLP's sponsorship.
He said he renegotiated his contract to free-up money and that about a half-dozen employees were let go with him. Garfinkel said the changes were performance related. Yeley won the prestigious 4-Crown USAC midget feature in September but isn't entered in PIR's Thursday night Copper World Classic. He hired a marketing firm and said about $12 million in sponsorship would get him into a Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevy next season.
The #96 isn't fully sponsored for 2009, and there's no new contract with Gibbs. "The team will be in a different sort of model next year," said Garfinkel. "Jeff and I are going through different options." Arizona Republic
Another sports car team to fold The Charouz Aston Martin Lola Coupes have been advertised for sale on the website www.racingcars24.com. The sale of these cars comes just after the successful sale of their Lola - the B07/17. Will this team be folding too?
Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith gave his opinion on several pressing subjects [Sunday morning], including his long-standing desire to purchase NASCAR from the France family if the opportunity ever presented itself. "I stand by that," he said. "And it's getting closer." For the record, the France family has given no indication of having any desires to sell the sanctioning body that patriarch Bill France Sr. founded 60 years ago. But Smith always likes to stir the pot and get people talking. ESPN.com
Did Glock gift Hamilton title?UPDATE No truth to this gift rumor. Lap 71 – Glock lost 13 seconds in sectors one and two. Hamilton's final lap is 1m26s, Glock's is 1m 44.731s. Trulli, who also stayed on dry tires, did a similar lap time, 20 seconds slower than the previous lap.
11/02/08 Fact - Timo Glock is Lewis Hamilton's best friend in the F1 paddock. Rumor has it that Glock purposely eased up on the last lap of Sunday's Brazilian GP more than he had to in order for Hamilton to get past for 5th place and win the title by a single point over Massa. We doubt we will ever know for certain.
Testing changes to be announced soon?UPDATE #3 John Darby, Sprint Cup series director, spoke with the media at Texas on Saturday: Q: WHAT KIND OF A RESPONSE ARE YOU GETTING FROM TEAMS ON A TESTING POLICY FOR NEXT YEAR? IT SOUNDS LIKE THE TARGET NUMBER IS 12-16 DAYS NEXT YEAR. DARBY: "I think you've got to look from when we started talking about testing back in June and everything that has happened up to today. The very first meeting in New Hampshire in June, it was guys we can do zero or we can make it wide open. Everybody went Aaargh! And they came back with all the different versions and a month later we kind of settled in on like 24 days. Now we're in early July and that's when Wall Street started going wham. And more importantly the teams within the last couple of weeks have got their planner boards out and started penciling in their 24 days and stood back and said, 'Holy Cow, how are we going to do this?' First of all, the test policy is probably the most team-controlled policy that NASCAR has. In other words, we're pretty much just the organizers and managers of it. We'll give the garage, for the most part, what they want. But this is a year in looking at '09 where zero isn't completely off the radar. It may be just to help the industry. I think we're pretty secure in the fact that 24 days is too much… if you've got zero here and our original 24-day plan, the likelihood of landing somewhere in the middle is pretty good. Testing is a year-by-year deal. Let's say it was nothing, it maybe for only '09. Everything starts coming back, looking ahead to '10, we might get it back. That's the most fluid policy we have. Something changes on it every year. Roanoke Times
11/01/08 The talk in the garage is that testing at Cup tracks next year, which NASCAR floated out the idea of about 24 days, could be reduced to about 12-16.
10/26/08 NASCAR VP of Communications Jim Hunter said the sanctioning body is rethinking the 24-day testing schedule given the current economic conditions. Testing has to make financial sense for the haves as well as the have-nots. FoxSports
10/20/08 NASCAR hasn't delineated the exact testing policy for the Sprint Cup Series, but apparently it will allow teams to test at any of the tour tracks, for a total of about 24 days a team per season. There are 22 tracks on the tour, so teams should be able to test everywhere. Winston Salem Journal
Honda set to confirm Senna test (GMM) The final details of Bruno Senna's debut formula one test, for the Japanese team Honda in November, are being discussed at Interlagos this weekend.
The German news agency SID said on Saturday the event will take place in the third week of November, in evaluation for a race seat in 2009.
Official confirmation will reportedly be forthcoming next week, after the 25-year-old Brazilian and team officials stage talks about the details, including the number of days the test will entail.
He told reporters in Brazil that no contracts have been signed.
"I hope that with this test the right people can see that I am ready for formula one," Senna said.
He is also in talks with Toro Rosso, the team co-owned by his late uncle Ayrton Senna's former McLaren teammate Gerhard Berger, but Senna seemed keenest on the Honda option.
"I believe I could learn a lot with them, very quickly," said the 2008 GP2 runner-up. "It would be the ideal start for me."
He therefore played down reports of a handsome multi-million euro offer from Berger's Toro Rosso, but did admit he is a healthily sponsored driver, with the possible backing of the Mexican telecommunications giant Telmex.
Montreal F1 rescue decision due FridayUPDATE #2 (GMM) Further to news that Canadian governments seem willing to pledge money to save Montreal's F1 race, it has emerged that Bernie Ecclestone has now decreed a looming deadline.
According to the Canadian national daily The Globe and Mail, a source close to the negotiations has revealed that the F1 chief executive has told officials "they must conclude everything before the end of this weekend".
The source added: "It does not sound like they will have six weeks to find the 'save the GP' solution."
It is expected the cost of reviving the event, held annually for decades at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Ile Notre Dame, is at least $20m.
A new promoter from the private sector must also be found.
11/01/08 (GMM) Canadian levels of government are willing to put money into the rescue of the formula one race at Montreal.
That is the information of the French language Journal de Montreal newspaper, which had earlier said an official decision and announcement was due on Friday.
But without a private body ready to commit to taking over from outgoing promoter Grand Prix F1 du Canada, run by Normand Legault, an official declaration about the government's intend was not made.
The newspaper also said Legault may remain involved, on a board of directors of a new organization to be formed.
It is possible that Cirque du Soleil's Guy Laliberté will be involved, but NASCAR team owner George Gillett is believed unlikely to contribute financially.
10/30/08 (GMM) The fate of a possible government rescue package for the Canadian grand prix is expected to be announced this week.
Race and government officials travelled to London recently for talks with Bernie Ecclestone, who scratched Montreal's date off the 2009 calendar over a financial dispute.
But according to the Journal de Montreal newspaper, a decision about whether taxpayer money will be used in an effort to reinstate the race is due to be announced on Friday.
There is also a need for a new race promoter "from the private sector", Quebec minister Raymond Bachand explained last week.
It has been speculated that Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte could be a possible investor, as well as the NASCAR team owner George Gillett.
Still another NASCAR team to fold It appears JR Motorsports will not be fielding two full-time teams in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next season. The organization plans to field a full-time entry for driver Brad Keselowski, but will run a limited schedule with its second team since full sponsorship has not been obtained.
"We do not anticipate getting the funding required to field two teams after the end of this season, and we need to make adjustments now to prepare JR Motorsports accordingly," team general manager Kelley Earnhardt said in a statement.
"We are reducing our workforce and budgets to comply with a new plan for 2009. The economic climate is difficult, as everyone is aware, and that is affecting every company's ability to spend."
Mercedes' new concept introduces energy efficiency as part of the competition. Photo: Mercedes / Barcroft Media
Dubbed the Formula Zero, the model heralds a potential revolution in the sport.
Motor racing of the future would have almost as much in common with bobsleigh events as motor racing, with the cars hurtling around steeply banked and possibly elevated tracks.
According to the company, the new sport would "combine the thrill of Formula One, the track dynamics of the bobsled or luge, and the grace and efficiency of yacht racing".
It would give spectators a stunning view of the action not only from the side, but below.
Given the concern about the use of carbon fuels, this vehicle would use electric power.
It would also be designed to use power as efficiently, with the Zero racer designed to generate as much thrust as possible from its electric hub motors, aero-efficient solar skin and high-tech rigid sail.
While the winner of a Formula 1 race is the driver who crosses the finishing line first, other factors would be taken into account in the revamped sport of 2025.
Each team would be allocated the same amount of stored energy at the beginning of the race.
The winner would be the driver who was not only fastest but also on the basis of the team's energy efficiency.
Government won't support GM-Chrysler merger The U.S. Treasury Department, armed with a $700-billion fund to help salvage the economy, is no longer talking to automakers about possible aid, further complicating efforts by General Motors to seek help for a merger with Chrysler, the Free Press was told Thursday. The Treasury is not negotiating with automakers," a Bush administration official said late Thursday. It's not known why the Treasury stopped talking, but GM and other automakers are now turning to other parts of the administration for financial assistance.
Treasury is skittish about the idea of pumping billions of taxpayer dollars into a merger resulting in tens of thousands of job losses, people briefed on the matter said.
Treasury officials have been stretched in recent weeks, managing the $700-billion rescue of the financial industry, including taking stakes in several banks. More ...
GM merger would eliminate most Chrysler vehicles A merger between General Motors and Chrysler LLC would result in the closing of as many as half of Chrysler's factories and the elimination of all but seven of its core models, according to a report by consulting firm Grant Thornton LLP.
A deal also could result in a loss of 100,000 to 200,000 jobs at automakers, suppliers and other industry stakeholders, said Kimberly Rodriguez, principal of Grant Thornton's automotive practice.
Rodriguez said negotiators may reach an agreement in principal as soon as Tuesday, Nov. 4. Reuters reported yesterday that GM and Chrysler's owner, Cerberus Capital Management LP, have resolved major issues and the final form of any accord will depend on financing and U.S. government support.
"Chrysler as we know it will cease to exist very soon," she said at a briefing with reporters today in suburban Detroit. "There are few options available to either company."
The blended companies would command about one third of U.S. auto sales. "Despite the significant number of families that will be impacted, the benefits of combining the two companies are both structural and strategic," Rodriguez said.
Surviving Chrysler vehicles would likely be the Dodge Ram pickup; Chrysler and Dodge minivans; and several Jeep models, including the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee.
[Editor's Note: Then what would Chrysler/Dodge race in the Sprint Cup series? Answer - nothing. Their days are numbered.]
NASCAR nixes GEM's move to Toyota?UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Gillett-Evernham Motorsports has been in talks with nearly every possible team in the garage area looking to merge including Bill Davis Racing, which is down to a one car, non-sponsored team since Caterpillar is leaving the #22 for Richard Childress Racing. From what I [Pete Pistone] have been able to gather, the report that NASCAR vetoed a GEM-BDR merger and a complete switch to Toyota is false. The stumbling block in all of this is the status of Dodge and Chrysler and the future of the struggling company. If the manufacturer can't live up to its promise of supplying engines and support to GEM, its flagship Cup organization, the team needs to know that and make a move ASAP. But whether Toyota wants to support another team and a possible additional three cars is another question. Regardless, NASCAR has no say in what the teams and manufacturers decide to do. CBS Sports
10/27/08 George Gillett, who bought into Ray Evernham's Dodge-anchor operation last year [now GEM], has made strong overtures to switch to Toyota. But NASCAR officials have apparently nixed any such move, and that could leave the Bill Davis Toyota team in limbo. Davis has talked for more than a year now about looking for a business partner. The Gillett-Evernham operation has been Dodge's chief engineering arm in NASCAR, but Penske may now get that nod, and become the engine supplier to teams like the Pettys. Penske already leases Dodge engines to Robby Gordon. Sources say that Penske, who runs one of the country's largest Toyota dealerships, in Los Angeles, has made overtures about Toyota, and may push for the launch of a satellite Toyota operation next year in order to be prepared for a possible changeover to Toyota in 2010. Winston Salem Journal
ALMS wants to replace IRL in Surfers Another rival motorsport series to replace IndyCars on the Gold Coast has emerged with news that billionaire race series owner Don Panoz would be willing to race in Surfers Paradise.
Mr. Panoz, a pharmaceutical magnate who 10 years ago founded the American Le Mans series, told The Bulletin that while he was not seeking to slot into Surfers should the Indy Racing League decide not to return in 2009, he would be happy to talk to organizers about bringing his sports cars Down Under.
"I am not contacting people to say 'hey, you need our series', but if they arrive at a point where they want to talk to the American Le Mans Series about coming here, sure, we'll talk to them," he said.
The ALMS uses mega-fast sports cars from manufacturers including Porsche, Audi, Aston Martin, Honda, Ferrari and Peugeot and runs 11 races in North America on both track and street circuits and so would require similar infrastructure to that of IndyCars in Surfers.
This year's Gold Coast Indy winner Ryan Briscoe drove the cars last year, and was voted ALMS Rookie of the Year.
News Ltd's national motoring editor Paul Gover described the cars as 'massively fast'.
"They're basically the fastest thing outside of Formula 1," said Mr. Gover.
"At Le Mans itself they can reach speeds of up to 350km/h in the straight."
Mr. Gover said the presence of household-name manufacturers including Audi and Corvette also gave the series a wider appeal, more spending power and sponsorship clout.
"Having these manufacturers involved means there are more entities to spend money on marketing and bringing guests out here," he said. More ...
In addition to preparing for this week's Nationwide Series race, at Texas, Scott Wimmer is also in the process of tracking down a ride for next season. Richard Childress Racing announced Aug. 28 that Wimmer would not be back next season, making him a free agent. "I've had some good talks with several car owners," he said. "I feel real confident something will turn up. With the economy the way it is, it's a crazy time in the sport, definitely for the drivers." He is concentrating his efforts on landing a Sprint Cup ride, but he knows the Nationwide Series will be an option if he can't make the jump. "Fortunately, there are some teams that will have openings. There are some teams that will be making changes," he said. "I've got my name on their lists." Wausau Daily Herald
Wheldon being paid big money as backmarker According to AR1.com sources, IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon left Ganassi Racing where he was offered $1.5M to drive for a deal worth $4.0M per year to tool around at the back with Panther Racing. Wheldon was completely overshadowed by Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon, particularly on the street and road courses (i.e. non 100% throttle race tracks).
More proof Dodge needs to quit What does 'factory support' really mean in NASCAR today? One, a sponsorship check; two, engine support; three, other technical support. Dodge teams have won four of this year's 32 races, and three of last year's 36 races. And Dodge's new NASCAR engine, though legal all season, has been run just a few times, with less-than-spectacular results. They are wasting their time and only making their product look inferior, so why stay in NASCAR?
Lewis Hamilton to trade in driving gloves for singing?
McLaren Mercedes F1 Team driver Lewis Hamilton would like a new career. The Briton, who has a relationship with Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, would like to become a singer. Hamilton is convinced that his girlfriend will help him to achieve his goal.
Lewis Hamilton can't only sing, he can also play the guitar. According to Nicole Scherzinger, the young F1 star already wrote a number for her and she's convinced that it will be a success.
Hamilton isn't the first F1 driver who has ambitions in showbiz. Last year, Jacques Villeneuve launched his first album with songs he wrote himself.
Mayfield to buy into Truck Team? Jeremy Mayfield told Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway Monday that he is negotiating to purchase half of the Billy Ballew Motorsports Craftsman Truck Series team. "Billy and I have been talking for a while now," said Mayfield. "He's a great guy, and he has a great team. I'm not sure what's going to happen on the Cup side yet, but (NASCAR has) the Truck Series sponsor worked out now, and I know it's going to be around a while." Mayfield said the plan is for him to purchase the #15 team, with the truck still being fielded out of the Ballew shops. "I would run the #15 truck as a teammate to Billy's #51. Nothing's done yet, there are no details done. But it would be fun to go Truck racing. I've always wanted to own my own team, and if something comes up on the Cup side of things, maybe I'll do the deal anyway and put someone else in the Truck." Sirius Speed
Ferrari threatens to pull out of F1UPDATE Ferrari statement in full "The Board of Directors of Ferrari SpA met today under the chairmanship of Luca di Montezemolo, to examine the third quarter results. The Board of Directors also examined the proposed changes to the Formula One regulations, in the light of the current global economic crisis.
"Whilst reiterating its wholehearted commitment to a substantial and needed reduction in costs in Formula One, starting with propulsion, the Ferrari Board of Directors expressed strong concerns regarding plans to standardize engines as it felt that such a move would detract from the entire raison of a sport with which Ferrari has been involved continuously since 1950, a raison d’etre based principally on competition and technological development.
"The Board of Directors expressed the opinion that should these key elements be diminished, it would have to re-evaluate, with its partners the viability of continuing its presence in the sport."
10/27/08 Ferrari will review its participation in Formula One if plans to introduce a standard engine for all teams from 2010 goes ahead, the board said in a statement on Monday. Formula One's governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), said earlier this month it intended to bring in the rule to save costs.
Toyota consider leaving F1 for Le MansUPDATE Earlier today we reported that Toyota is considering a program to compete at Le Mans and possibly in the American Le Mans Series.
The company confirmed to Racing-Live.com this afternoon they remain committed to Formula One until at least 2012 but do admit that the series 'must remain a technological challenge' on a day when the FIA reiterated its plans for standard engines from 2010.
"Toyota is committed to succeeding in Formula One for the long-term and our objective in Formula One is to win – we exist to win and we are committed to doing that," Toyota told us in a statement.
"However, we believe Formula One must remain a technological challenge; this is an important point for Toyota and provided this does not change we expect to continue in Formula One until at least 2012."
"Toyota has never hidden its interest in considering new motorsport opportunities, including Le Mans, currently no formal plan nor decision has been made on changes or additions to the current programs."
10/27/08 (GMM) Clear signs are emerging that Toyota could be contemplating its future on the formula one grid.
The Japanese giant, which entered the sport in 2002, was perhaps the most enraged among F1's manufacturer ranks at the proposal of a single engine formula.
Even though that prospect has receded, Toyota Motorsport president John Howett recently admitted the move "would be a reason" for the Cologne based team to quit F1.
Now, in the pages of the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, it is suggested that Toyota sees returning to Le Mans-style prototype sports car racing as an alternative to F1 beyond 2010.
At this year's Le Mans 24 hour race, for instance, a dozen uninformed Toyota engineers were present, armed with cameras and reportedly sizing up the current competitors.
Additionally, at the American Le Mans Series race in Detroit in August, Toyota officials met with representatives of the series' organizing body ACO.
"We would like to go back to Le Mans," Toyota's F1 team boss Tadashi Yamashina confirms. "The final decision is budgetary.
"Under the present economic conditions, it is unlikely that we could do formula one and Le Mans in a parallel fashion," he explained.
Standard engines for F1?UPDATE #2 (GMM) F1's governing body has contradicted suggestions that plans for a standard engine formula have been put on the back burner.
It was believed that, subsequent to the FIA's invitation to tender two weeks ago, Max Mosley at a meeting with F1 chiefs agreed to shelve the proposal in favor of alternative cost-slashing plans.
But in a press statement on Monday, the Paris based body made it clear the process is pressing on, having now published answers to "questions from interested parties".
The FIA also confirmed that bids to become F1's sole supplier of engines and transmissions can still be lodged until 7 November.
"The FIA intends to introduce amendments to the governing rules requiring that all competitors must use a standardized engine and transmission system in the championship," an excerpt from the tender summary reads.
The summary said the official supplier will be selected in late November.
10/27/08 This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' Flavio Briatore has confirmed that the issue of standard engines in formula one is no longer on the table.
Despite the FIA putting out a tender to become F1's sole engine supplier in 2010, an alternative agenda for cost savings was apparently agreed at the recent Geneva meeting between FOTA chiefs and Max Mosley.
Renault boss Briatore said in interview with Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper that, instead of standard engines, F1 will "probably" pursue the route of a future engine formula that, "on the basis of costs, will not go beyond certain development borders".
A similar strategy will be followed for transmissions, Briatore explained, with the technologies to be made available by the carmaker teams to privateers "at a reasonable price".
09/27/08 (GMM) Renault is the only team that currently supports FIA president Max Mosley's proposal for a common engine in F1.
Mosley's suggestion has been a major subject of discussion in the latest meetings of the formula one teams' alliance FOTA, according to the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport.
The report said only Renault currently backs the plan, but team customer Red Bull might also fall in line should the issue go to a vote.
Under the FOTA statutes, rule changes such as the common engine proposal require at least 7 of the 10 teams to vote in favor.
Auto Motor und Sport, meanwhile, reports that F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is annoyed with McLaren.
Of the 20 race drivers, only Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen reportedly turned down an invitation on Friday to attend a lunch with Singapore president Sellapan Rama Nathan.
SMI to move failing Atlanta race to Kentucky Despite the official "estimated" attendance figure of 80,000, the stands Sunday for the Atlanta Sprint Cup race looked more like a Craftsman Truck or Nationwide race crowd. And we are being kind here. SMI has not filled up Atlanta for years and the crowds have been shrinking annually. Rumor has it that there's only one Atlanta race (on Labor Day) on the schedule in 2010 and SMI moved the other Atlanta race to the Kentucky Speedway they recently purchased.
GM wants USA government to help fund Chrysler merger General Motors Corp., the largest U.S. automaker, has asked the Treasury Department for financial aid to help complete a merger with Cerberus Capital Management LP's Chrysler LLC, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson would prefer any funding come from the $25 billion in low-interest loans approved last month for the auto industry to build more-efficient vehicles, not the $700 billion banking-system rescue, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.
GM executives have asked Treasury to consider taking a stake in the Detroit-based company, said one of the people, though the government is reluctant to do so.
Federal aid may boost cash for the money-losing automakers while they await merger savings that analysts have said may take months to realize. The U.S. auto market may shrink this year to the smallest since 1993 as the credit crunch and a slowing economy crimp demand.
``These companies are both hurting,'' said Louis Lataif, a former Ford Motor Co. executive who is now dean of Boston University's School of Management. ``Absent government intervention, it's difficult to see how this merger makes sense.'' Bloomberg.com
Martin could replace Casey Mears in Hendrick No. 5 Mark Martin said Sunday that he would like to drive in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Hendrick Motorsports, if it can be worked out.
Martin will replace Casey Mears in the No. 5 Hendrick car next season while Mears moves to the No. 07 Richard Childress Racing car.
The two drivers already have tested or plan to test for their new teams. Martin took some laps at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Hendrick while Mears will test Nov. 4 with RCR.
"I honestly don't know what's going to happen yet," Mears said Sunday. "There have been some conversations about things, but I don't know what the options are.” More ...
Yet another NASCAR team may fold Rusty Wallace Racing driver Steve Wallace said at Memphis Motorsports Park that his team could be forced to cut back to one full-time team in 2009 because of a lack of sponsorship.
Teammate David Stremme is moving to the Sprint Cup Series for Penske Racing next season, but Wallace said his father would like to keep Stremme in a Nationwide car as much as possible in ‘09.
But sponsorship for Wallace’s No. 66 team hasn’t been finalized yet.
“Our main goal is to get my stuff sold before we worry about [the No. 64] car,” Wallace said. “We’ve got some stuff going for him, but sure as hell nothing signed on a contract.”
Wallace said about half of next year’s 35 races are sold for the No. 66. One of this year’s backers, Atreus Homes, bailed on the team because of the housing market problems.
“It’s real, real hard right now, the way the economy and the stock market is, there’s nobody who wants to spend any money because they can’t,” Wallace said.
Wallace said a lot of Nationwide teams are worried about next year and trying to search for sponsorship.
“We’re one of them, but a bunch of other guys are too,” Wallace said. “It’s not a good time for that.” Scenedaily.com
[Editor's Note: It's clear NASCAR has too many series sucking up sponsorship. The truck series simply needs to go away.]
Another NASCAR team to fold Saturday's Kroger On Track For The Cure 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series is likely the final event for Team Rensi Motorsports, Team President Ronnie Russell said at Memphis Motorsports Park.
Sponsorship from Smithfield Foods runs out after this race, and there is no sponsorship for driver Bobby Hamilton Jr. and the No. 25 Ford for the remaining three races.
“If something doesn’t happen good for us by Monday, then, no, we will not be continuing the last three races,” Russell said. “We will not be going to Texas, Phoenix or Homestead.”
Smithfield was a 30-race deal for 2008, and Memphis was the 30th race. Russell said it was important to the team not to have any outstanding debt before closing its doors, and the team did not want to start-and-park its car over the final three races.
And if sponsorship doesn’t work out – and Russell held out slim hope for that – Team Rensi will close for good.
“We’re not going dormant when we’re not coming here,” Russell said. “We’re closing up. It’s not a dormant situation.” Scenedaily.com
McLaren to play safe with Lewis' engine? McLaren considering giving Lewis Hamilton's engine more margin than normal in Brazil.
McLaren-Mercedes CEO Martin Whitmarsh has revealed that the team is looking at the possibility of running Lewis Hamilton's engine in a 'safer setting' in Brazil next weekend.
Hamilton will start in Interlagos with a seven-point cushion over Felipe Massa and after such a good run in China is clearly the favorite to take the 2008 F1 drivers' title.
However, unlike Massa - and Kimi Raikkonen and Heikki Kovalainen for that matter too - he won't be able to use a new V8 engine, as he had a fresh one in Shanghai. That means he will be at a slight disadvantage and one thing McLaren will want to ensure is that he can get to the checkered flag.
"For this race, we'll be looking at the possibility of running Lewis's engine in a safer setting so it has a bit more margin than normal," Whitmarsh confirmed. "It's something we do throughout the season but, clearly, there's a greater need to be safe next weekend."
Fiat delays Alfa's U.S. return The broadening global financial crisis has forced Fiat Group Automobiles to postpone two targets it had set two years ago for 2010: returning the Alfa Romeo brand to the United States, and selling 300,000 units a year in China.
Alfa's return to the United States will be delayed by a year to 2011, Fiat Group and Fiat Group Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne said Thursday. The new 2010 goal for Fiat sales in China is now 50,000.
2011 is when the IRL will roll out their new engines, so if Alfa is interested in IndyCar, this timing could work out well.
Has IRL gone the NASCAR Route? A reader writes, Let's see.. negotiating to keep the race in Australia... Australian drivers qualified 1-2-3, including Will Power who has been nowhere the entire year... Did NASCAR timing and scoring provide the qualifying services (i.e. was the grid computer generated)? Glenn Tanner, Palos Verdes Estates, Ca
What happens to Dodge teams when Chrysler folds?UPDATE #2 The biggest story here in Atlanta -- that the ragged U.S. economy and slumping car sales are leading General Motors to the brink of what looks like a buyout of Chrysler, which has NASCAR's 11 Dodge teams on pins and needles. One Detroit source said he senses the merger as inevitable and said that merger could really shake up the NASCAR garage, because rival car makers GM, Ford and Toyota may be unlikely to want to pick up any new NASCAR teams. George Gillett has been looking at Bill Davis' Toyota team and becoming a three-team Toyota operation; however there now appears to be a major stumbling block to any such move by Gillett. And that stumbling block is Toyota.
There are also worries that when the 2009 season dawns at Daytona, there will be only 30 teams with full-time non-factory corporate sponsorship. Winston Salem Journal
10/25/08 You'll see a story about how Cerberus, the financial holdings company that owns Chrysler, is reported to be wanting out of the auto industry and is talking to General Motors and Nissan-Renault about cutting the company up among them. Whether it would mean the end of such seminal American passenger car marques as Dodge and Chrysler remains to be seen. If Nissan-Renault took over, it might want to keep the Dodge brand name and even bolster its involvement in NASCAR. But it's hardly a risky bet to think that if GM took it over, the Dodge Sprint Cup teams would be on their way out. But where to? The marque's most successful team, GEM, already is strongly rumored to be dropping Dodge to take Kasey Kahne, Budweiser and the rest of the operation to Toyota in 2009. And there are talks of Petty Enterprises merging with some other team, with names such as Ganassi Sabates (now with Dodge) and DEI (Chevy) showing up in the mix. But the one I wonder about is Penske South. This is a team that was a powerhouse when Rusty Wallace was driving its Fords, and when Ryan Newman was winning tons of poles and a batch of races a few years ago in its Dodges. But it has fallen onto hard times the past couple of years, and the general uncompetitiveness of Dodge has to be a big part of it. -- Herald-Times
10/20/08 If the General Motors merger/buyout of Chrysler does go through, and well it might, perhaps by Nov. 4, what happens to all those NASCAR Dodge teams?
MoPar fans have certainly been making their voices heard. NASCAR would be remiss to diss them.
Dodge racing executives haven’t had much to say lately about the situation.
And what might happen to Dodge’s various NASCAR contracts if Chrysler is ‘sold’ to GM is up in the air. Dodge has a number of long-term contracts in place, and just a few weeks ago Dodge officials insisted things were fine.
GEM: George Gillett, who with minority owner Ray Evernham (20 percent, perhaps to shrink to 10) has been Dodge’s anchor in NASCAR, is on the verge of making a deal to run Toyotas next season. That would put Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorensen in the Toyota camp.
Petty Enterprises appears on track to merge – somehow – with Dale Earnhardt Inc., which would turn the Petty Dodges into Chevrolets….apparently. Or maybe it’s just Kyle Petty ‘merging.’ Richard Petty Sunday didn’t have much to say about the DEI report; he didn’t deny the talks, but he insisted he didn’t have to panic about things: “We did our panicking last year. That’s why we did the deal with Boston Ventures. We’re ahead of the curve.” However there appears to be considerable internal disagreement between the father and son about the next business steps to take, though Bobby Labonte still has no sponsor for 2009, and Kyle Petty himself apparently is looking to leave Petty Enterprises at the end of the year and take the company’s only full sponsor, Wells Fargo, with him.
Roger Penske - He’s had Dodge teams for years. But if he has to change, would it likely be to Ford rather Chevrolet or Toyota…because Chevrolet and Toyota already have a number of Cup operations? More at Winston Salem Journal
Papis to run 50% of Cup races in '09UPDATE #2 Germain Racing has announced a press conference for Monday, after which this rumor will become 'fact.'
10/24/08 Former open-wheel star Max Papis is set to run a limited Sprint Cup schedule with Germain Racing and sponsorship from Geico in 2009.
Papis, who started two Cup races this year on road courses, is expected to run 18 races in Cup next year, Papis' agent Doug Barnette confirmed Friday afternoon. An official announcement is expected Monday.
09/10/08 Rumor has it that GEICO Insurance will team with Italian ex-Champ Car driver Max Papis to run as many as 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races next season, in Toyotas fielded by Germain Motorsports.
Kentucky Speedway sale could be done by DecemberUPDATE #3 Speedway Motorsports Inc. Chairman Bruton Smith said Friday he is still hoping to have a Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway in 2010.
SMI is scheduled to close on the 1.5-mile oval in December.
Smith has said NASCAR has told him that it won’t even consider putting Kentucky on the Cup schedule until the antitrust lawsuit by the original track ownership group against NASCAR and sister company International Speedway Corp. is finished.
Jerry Carroll, the track founder, has said he has had no intentions of dropping the suit.
Carroll's group alleges in the suit, filed in 2005, that the France-family owned sanctioning body, NASCAR, illegally works with the France-controlled race-track operating company, ISC, to keep tracks such as Kentucky Speedway from getting a Cup date. NASCAR and ISC deny those claims.
The lawsuit currently is in U.S. Appeals Court in Cincinnati. In January, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of ISC and NASCAR without the case going to trial because he ruled Kentucky Speedway's expert's theories were inadmissible. If Carroll's group wins its appeal, the case would then go to trial.
Final briefs in the appeal are not due until Dec. 16. A hearing on the appeal isn’t expected until January or February 2009 at the earliest.
“I talk to Jerry all the time,” Smith said Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “He’s tried like the dickens to get it [settled] but we have not been able to be successful on that.
Savannah close to getting major auto race Savannah is close to getting a second chance as an Indy racing stop.
The GreenPrix USA Series, a new open-wheel racing organization, plans to stage its debut race next St. Patrick's Day weekend on the Hutchinson Island road course.
GreenPrix owner Ben Johnston is working with the city, county and Georgia Ports Authority to finalize the deal.
"We're still in the due-diligence phase right now, and everybody is really excited about this," said Johnston, a media-marketing mogul based in Atlanta. "It's not in concrete yet, but we're working in that direction."
GreenPrix USA Savannah, scheduled for March 13-15, would be the first professional competition held on the Hutchinson Island track since the 1997 Dixie Crystals Grand Prix. That race was part of the Indy Lights Series, a Champ Car minor league circuit. The race was supposed to be held again in 1998 and 1999 but the local organizers went bankrupt and Savannah lost the race.
The track officially reopens to racing with next week's Hilton Head (S.C.)/Savannah Historics, a two-day vintage race car rally held in conjunction with the Hilton Head Concours d'Elegance & Motoring Festival. More ...
Atlanta Pep Boys 500 qualifying may rain out The weather forecast for the Atlanta area is not looking good for Friday as the Weather Channel site forecast is: Periods of rain. Thunder possible. High near 55F. Winds E at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Rainfall possibly over one inch. And the National Weather Service forecast is:
Friday: Occasional rain, mainly before 2pm. High near 56. East wind between 10 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.
Friday Night: Occasional drizzle before 2am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 47. North wind between 5 and 10 mph.
Sporting comeback for cancer-sticks in Australia The Australian state government is exploring ways to bypass federal tobacco advertising bans and allow cancer causing tobacco companies to sponsor high-profile sport, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The paper reports that a clause allowing tobacco brands to sponsor horse, motor and greyhound racing in New South Wales has been inserted into anti-tobacco legislation in the past two days. If the legislation is passed it will allow tobacco companies in NSW to circumvent federal law which does not ban sport sponsorship, but rather the advertising that promotes a brand's association with a sporting code. Horse or motor races, for example, could be named after specific brands, such as the Peter Jackson Stakes or given more generic titles such as the Imperial Tobacco Stakes.
The chief executive of the Cancer Council NSW, Andrew Penman, told the paper he was "gobsmacked" by the clause which would put Australia in breach of international conventions curtailing the marketing of tobacco and put NSW on a collision course with the federal Department of Health.
"How on earth did it find its way into legislation that purports to protect children from tobacco? Tobacco getting involved in glamorous sports does nothing to protect children," he said and added that public health groups would legally challenge a return to tobacco sponsorships.
There was confusion over whether the federal legislation would override the act. A federal health spokeswoman told the Herald, however, that the legislation would not be compromised by the NSW bill: "It would not appear to open any new avenues for tobacco advertising in connection with various sporting or racing activities."
A ban on ads for cigarette (cancer stick) brands at sporting events has been in force in Australia since 1992, although the formula one race was given an exemption until 2006.
Surfers Indy race is dead?UPDATE #3 Added photo of a happy Tony George with Queensland Premier Anna Bligh. Will the two work out a deal to continue this great race? If you have not been there you would not understand.
IRL boss Tony George with Queensland Premier Anna Bligh
10/23/08 A row has broken out over comments by a major Indy sponsor that they would withdraw their support because they believe the US-based Indy Racing League is ready to dump the Gold Coast event.
Bartercard Australia says it will continue to support the Gold Coast Indy event.
This follows reports that the company, a long-time sponsor of the race, would withdraw its support as it believed the Indy Racing League had already decided not to return to the Gold Coast next year.
Bartercard executive chairman Wayne Sharpe was reported as saying he had withdrawn $1million in sponsorship in 2009 because of this.
However this morning, Bartercard Australia said Mr. Sharpe had no direct interest in the local company, was not a shareholder or director and was not authorized to make comments regarding the Australian company's activities and decisions regarding sponsorship.
Chairman of Bartercard Australia, Mr. Murray d'Almeida, said the Nikon Indy 300 was an outstanding event for the Gold Coast and Australia and the company has supported the event for the past 15 years.
Mr. d'Almeida said he had spoken with Indy chairman Terry Mackenroth this morning and assured him of the company's support.
He said he had also spoken with IRL boss Tony George and confirmed Bartercard's enthusiasm for the event. Goldcoast.com
10/23/08 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I cannot believe that the IRL is going to let this event die. A fantastic international event destroyed. Versus. Now this. I have lost all faith that IRL management has any clue. They shall forever be just a pimple on the domestic posterior of NASCAR, which is exactly where the France family and other large ISC shareholders (like the Penskes) want them. Jeff Golightly
10/23/08 Indy on the Gold Coast is dead, according to one of its major sponsors. Bartercard executive chairman Wayne Sharpe yesterday revealed to The Bulletin the Indy Racing League had already decided not to return to the Gold Coast next year.
As a result he has withdrawn more than $1 million in sponsorship for 2009.
What this means is that not only has the event lost a major sponsor, but it makes the 2008 Miss Indy competition the last, said Mr. Sharpe, who has been told next year's event would feature V8s only.
"Basically next year's event will be a 'Bathurst on the Gold Coast," said Mr. Sharpe. "The reality is they have taken the race off next year's series, despite the rubbish that's been spun here recently.
"We won't be back next year and are already planning for something else, probably in Europe and probably around the (Formula One) Grand Prix in Monaco."
He said race organizers and state politicians knew as much, but had been at pains to avoid delivering bad news before the 2008 event. More ...
Tire graining to be problem in Brazil Tire graining will be prevalent in Brazil, warns Bridgestone chief as the F1 circus gears up for the season finale in São Paulo.
What challenges does Interlagos present? “We expect a lot of graining, especially at the beginning of the weekend. There are two reasons for this; Interlagos often has a very dirty track surface and the twisty infield layout makes graining likely, regardless of the track surface conditions.
“Interlagos is a track which is deceptive as it is not as harsh on tires as you would think, although the weather conditions can play a big part, especially if it is hot like it was last season.”
Why has the tire allocation changed from 2007? “Last year we were too soft in our allocation and we saw blistering on many tires, even those used by competitors who we would expect to be quite gentle on our tires.
“We expect the medium and soft compounds be a good choice, plus the change will provide teams with a challenge, especially as the track surface will have evolved from last year when it was brand new.”
Mercedes to take over F1 team Car magazine, reporting on a potential business alliance between Mercedes and Aston Martin, also reveals Mercedes future ambitions for its own F1 team:
Says a senior source at Daimler: ‘Our agreement with McLaren won’t last forever [Mercedes holds a 40 percent stake in McLaren]. There will be no replacement for the SLR, and as soon as the price is right, we are interested in taking over the F1 business.’
Mercedes became McLaren’s engine supplier in 1995, and together they won three titles in 1998 and 1999. No further titles have followed, though there have been several near-misses.
The two collaborated on the Mercedes SLR McLaren supercar, but there are no future collaborations of the sort in the pipeline.
It isn’t the first time rumors have arisen suggesting Mercedes wants its own F1 team.
Petty team eyes possible merger Q: WHERE DOES PETTY ENTERPRISES STAND WITH REGARDS TO A MERGER?
ROBBIE LOOMIS: We’re very committed to Dodge at Petty Enterprises. If you read the news out there, everybody is talking to everyone about our merger. As the future unfolds, we all have to be smart on how we pay attention to how we operate and is there ways that we can be more efficient as we grow. That’s what will drive the decision of the future.
Q: IN REGARD TO MERGERS, FOR PETTY ENTERPRISES, IS THIS SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO DO TO GET TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE?
LOOMIS: It’s a tough question. I think that our number one thing is…..in 2008 we wanted to move into a new shop. We wanted to move to Charlotte. We wanted to bring in an investor with Boston Ventures. We’ve got a new CEO in David Zucker. We have been looking at things…I know as I have the last couple years…we kind of saw that we were two cars and we wanted to get to four because years ago, NASCAR said there needs to be a four-car team. Then all of a sudden the landscaping is kind of changing and there are a lot of alliances. Before, a one or two car team was trying to hook on another two car team. Now, you’re seeing a four-car team and two-car team that want to attach to them and maybe grow to a four-car team to attach to that. Dodge Motorsports PR
Over 2,000 USA car dealers to close "Things are going disastrously for car dealers," says Ray Ciccolo, owner and CEO of Village Automotive Group in suburban Boston. "Most car dealers were down over 30 percent last month, and that is a catastrophe."
Many won't survive. Almost 600 of the about 20,000 U.S. new car dealers have shut their doors this year, and an additional 2,000 will close within 18 months, predicts Mark Johnson, president of a Seattle consulting firm that helps auto dealers buy, sell or merge operations.
In September alone, 61 dealers - two a day - closed shop or downsized to used car lots, says the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). Wounded by gas prices that killed sales of their most profitable SUVs and trucks, dealers are being hammered as the economy depresses sales of all models.
Even people with good jobs feel poorer and less confident to take on years of payments for a big purchase. Those who still would are finding it harder to get credit - General Motors credit arm GMAC now requires a credit score of 700 or better for a car loan.
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