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Rutherford Jr. to IPS Rumor has it that 3-time Indy 500 winner Johnny Rutherford's 30 year old son may race in the IPS in 2005. He is a race driving instructor, but a bit old to get started in the IPS.
All-Dutch Minardi team This Grandprix.com article says, The idea of an all-Dutch team at Minardi is nothing new. It has been floating around since the summer - but that does not mean it is going to happen. It is all a question of money and if the three Dutch drivers being mentioned: veteran Jos Verstappen, Christjian Albers and Robert Doornbos can come up with the backing from companies such as Trust then they will be well-positioned to get the drive. But Stoddart is not working on promises alone. The money has got to be in the bank before he signs anyone and as happened last year it will be a question of first-come, first-served. Stoddart says that the team is talking to a whole bunch of drivers and will test a handful in the weeks ahead but when it comes down to signing deals it will be the man with the most money who gets the job - unless the team lands a major sponsor which will give him the freedom to choose his drivers. This is always possible but remains unlikely as there is always competition for money and some of the bigger teams can lure sponsors away.
Seen in London AutoRacing1.com spotted at the posh Indian Cinnamon Club restaurant in the Westminster section of London Monday night the new owner of Cosworth, Kevin Kalkhoven (along with Gerald Forsythe), dining with Tony Purnell of the Red Bull F1 team (formerly with Ford and Jaguar of course) to his left and to his right was Otmar Szafnauer, Vice President of Honda Racing. Also in attendance was Martin Birrane, owner of Lola Cars, Ltd. We can understand Lola being represented, as the Champ Car series uses Lolas. We can see the Red Bull F1 team being there, as Cosworth will supply engines to the Red Bull team. But Honda? Hmm......Mark Cipolloni reporting from London
Seen in Shanghai AutoRacing1.com spy cameras snapped this photo on November 8th in the Shanghai, China Ritz Carlton of Red Bull billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz making a presentation to Guo Jie, one of the richest people in China, and the Red Bull distributor there. Take a look at the notes on the board, which appear to indicate that Red Bull is going to leverage the USA and China markets with F1. Red Bull is already developing Chinese drivers with Red Bull Team Meritus. Marchy Lee is the best Red Bull has over here but don’t count on him ever going anywhere. He’s a stiff, too old, too weird, too cocky, Chinese girls don’t like him, an almost certain career killer in China. Mark C.
Red Bull team may hire Berger Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz says he may bring in ex-BMW motorsport boss Gerhard Berger to help his new team make its debut next season. Tony Purnell, team boss for Jaguar before its sale, will take charge of the new look Red Bull. But Mateschitz did not rule out also bringing aboard Berger, a friend who won 10 Grands Prix in a 13-year career. "Gerhard is an expert and his advice would certainly be useful to us," said Mateschitz, a fellow Austrian. The 59-year-old billionaire, one of the world's richest people estimated to be worth $1.4bn, said his team was hoping to clinch a title within the next three to five seasons. But he said key positions on the team would "need reconsideration." BBC
Will Chevy move to Champ Car?UPDATE To explain what Kalkhoven meant below when he said "I'm good at dodging bullets, especially when they are not well aimed," he was referring to the fact that Tony George had three chances to kill Champ Car but each time his bullets, err, shall we say hammer, missed. The first was during the bankruptcy in January, but Kalkhoven outsmarted George and won the court case. The 2nd bullet was the 11th hour departure of Team Rahal and Fernandez Racing in March before the Long Beach race. "Had they departed the weekend of the race itself we would have been in trouble," said Kalkhoven. "Our contract with Long Beach called for 18 cars and we could have defaulted." The third missed bullet was the Cosworth sale. "If someone else had bought Cosworth, while we could have survived because we own the engines, it would have been difficult," said Kalkhoven to AutoRacing1.com. 11/15/04 Now that Cosworth is no longer owned by Ford, the possibility of a company like Chevy badging the Champ Car engine (along with Ford - 50% of field each) increases. Kevin Kalkhoven had this to say today in London : Q: Part of the Cosworth business is tuning the Chevrolet IRL engine, how do you balance the fact that you own a good share of the Champ Car World series yet you are going to be owning an engine supplier to a rival championship that has been trying to kill you off for the last couple of years. KK: "Yeah, aren't they, hmmm. (laughter) I seem to have an amazing perplexity for dodging bullets! Especially if they are not very well aimed. There is a commercial contract that exists between Cosworth and General Motors, we will honor that contract as professional businessmen and we would like to continue to do business in any way GM wishes to do in the future whether it is in a competitive series or even ours."
Champ Cars on the streets of Manchester, EnglandUPDATE #9 AutoRacing1.com has learned that the holdup on a Champ Car race in Manchester, England is the approval of a casino bill because the track will run around a new casino. Richard Branson is in talks with leading British and American casino operators. They are discussing deals aimed at putting the Virgin brand name over one or more of the new giant casinos to be permitted when the Gaming Bill becomes law in England. "It is an area we are closely looking at," Will Whitehorn, Mr. Branson's main spokesman, said. "We have had a number of approaches, from both sides of the Atlantic, about using our name in casinos." The Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, will legalize large-scale gambling establishments on the scale which has applied in Las Vegas and Australia for some years. The latest thinking is that there will be nine or 10 such casinos throughout Britain, on a regional basis. They will each house 1,250 slot machines as well as tables offering poker, blackjack and roulette. The Virgin name is highly attractive to operators who want to appeal both to experienced gamblers and to novices, as Virgin is already well-known and trusted through its mobile phones, records, financial services and airlines. Virgin Atlantic, the long-haul airline, has been running direct flights between the UK and Las Vegas for more than four years, giving the group exposure to the gambling fraternity. Mr. Branson's business development executives are understood to have taken advantage of the opportunity to study casinos at first hand. 09/22/04 And this week's Autosport reports - Prospective Manchester Champ Car race organizer Roger Cowman has reached provisional agreement with the local council on a venue, which it is hoped will be the regeneration area in east Manchester where the 2002 Commonwealth Games were held [Editor's Note: This is in direct conflict with their sister publication Motoring News which said the race would be in a suburb (Salford) west, not east, of downtown Manchester.] But plans to build a hotel and casino on the site mean it’s unlikely the track will be ready until 2006. “I’ve met with Champ Car officials and they are as eager as ever, but they are under pressure to publish their 2005 calendar soon and we’re not quite ready to commit,” said Cowman. “But the good thing is that the venue we have in mind won’t require a lot of work to convert into a track. We hope to be ready for 2006.” 09/22/04 According to today's Motorsport News, Kevin Kalkhoven has visited Manchester, in order 'to finalize plans for a street-based event'. Local press in the area are reporting that the race will take place in Salford, around a new development complex which will include a hotel, marina and casino. Salford, city, is in the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester, northwestern England, on the Irwell River, adjoining Manchester on the west. Both Kalkhoven and EuroBOSS creator Roger Cowman (the man behind the event), have admitted that the race is unlikely to take place next year, but they're looking at 2006. 09/22/04 As we surmised, Autosport may not have been told the whole truth with regard to Manchester. This Manchester, England newspaper article dated today says, The thrills of Indy car-style racing could be coming to Manchester (Notice how they still refer to them as Indy Cars. What's a Champ Car?). Talks have been held between council officials and promoters of the Champ Car series about the possibility of hosting a race. The series has traditionally focused on the US, but promoters are hoping to turn it into a global event. It would be a real coup for Manchester as the races attract tens of thousands of spectators. Races have been held in Mexico, Australia and Canada and there are plans for a contest through the streets of Seoul, South Korea, in October.
The cars are the same shape as Formula One, but much heavier, with turbocharged 2.65 liter engines capable of a top speed of around 240mph. No locations have been discussed yet, but it is thought that the car park at the City of Manchester stadium or a venue north of the city centre could be considered. A spokeswoman for Manchester city council said: "Manchester is always interested in exploring the possibility of hosting world-class sport events. "We have been approached to consider holding a motor race series and are in the very early stages of talks. The city council will base any decision on whether this has social and economic benefits to the residents of Manchester. We have yet to see a substantial business plan and will formulate a decision on whether the event is practicable and can create investment over a period of years and encourage tourists to this vibrant city."
A spokesman for the Champ Car World Series said: "We would always be interested in an exciting new venue and, should the plans in Manchester come to fruition, then we would definitely be keen." Andrew Van de Burgt, news editor at Autosport said: "Talks are obviously at an early stage, but this would be a real coup for Manchester if Champ Car racing was to come to the city. "It is the fastest single car racing outside of Formula One and the lack of so-called driving aids means it is arguably a tougher test of driving skill than Formula One. "The cars are big and powerful and depending on the shape of the track they can reach speeds of more than 200mph. If the event was to come to Manchester you could easily expect to attract tens of thousands of spectators." 5/12/04 - This week's Autosport magazine has further news on this rumor. They report that a race around the streets of Manchester could form part of an ambitious Champ Car World Series calendar in 2005 as the series abandons its traditional United States base to expand into a global series. Manchester race promoters met with the City Council earlier this month and gained tentative backing for the event. Venues are under discussion, but the City of Manchester Stadium is tipped to be the event HQ, with the race held in an adjacent car park. It is in an area designated for regeneration and is already geared up for hosting major international sporting events. The 48,000-seat stadium, which would probably be used as a pit - and-paddock area, is currently home to Manchester City Football Club and was built to host the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
A Manchester City Council spokesman said: “Manchester is always interested in exploring the possibility of hosting world-class motorsport events. We have been approached to consider holding a motor-race series and are in the very early stages of talks. “The City Council will base any decision on whether this has social and economic benefits to residents in Manchester. We have yet to see a substantial business plan and will formulate a decision on whether the event is practical and can create investment and encourage tourists to this vibrant city.” The race would almost certainly be paired with another European event, probably in Spain or Portugal. South Africa, Russia, Brazil, Argentina and Poland are also rumored to be lining up 2005 bids [Editor's Note: see our previous rumors on Poland, Argentina, and Brazil]. 5/10/04 - According to this Autoweek article, this report that appeared in Motorsport News (see images below) was just a hoax and that it's unlikely there will be a street race in the UK. That is not what we are hearing from the UK, however, and we suspect whoever spoke to Autoweek from OWRS just didn't want to reveal anything yet. Mark C. 5/7/04 - We are hearing that the track will be laid out in East Manchester near the City Of Manchester Stadium. Click here for PDF map of stadium location. The City's Director of Regeneration is leading the effort for Manchester. 5/5/05 - The deal being negotiated with the city of Manchester is for five years, 2005 through 2009. Also, according to the article, Durban, South Africa is still in play for 2005, though the reporter may be basing that on old info. He wrote that the Durban race would be held alongside the Manchester event as if to say the weekend before or after. Mark C. 5/5/04 - This rumor is upgraded to 'strong'. The report is real. See scanned images below from Motorsport News just out today in the UK. The race planning is in the early stages and would be on private land within the city on a 2-mile course. Because it is private land, it will not require as many government approvals. OWRS has given a preliminary green light to the proposal. Government officials are reviewing the plans this week and work is slated to start on the project in June. Sports are big in Manchester, home of the mighty Manchester soccer/football team. The city fathers are viewing this race as a boost to the city's sports industry. Mark C. and Gary Parravani 5/5/04 - Unconfirmed reports say that this week's Motorsport News publication in the UK, on newsstands today, reports that Champ Cars will return to England in 2005 to race on the streets of Manchester. We are trying to confirm whether this report is true or just a hoax. Champ Cars last raced in England in 2003 at Brands Hatch southeast of London. Manchester is in Northern England, not too far from Liverpool, former home of the Beatles. (Related article)
NASCAR to use some 2-day races in 2005UPDATE A new post-qualifying procedure designed to save money and significantly alter racing weekends will begin next season in NASCAR. Car owner Jack Roush said he and his crew chiefs were briefed on the measures Saturday at Darlington Raceway. NASCAR is expected to announce the plans this week [Friday on Speed 9:00am/ET]. Under the plan, qualifying would be moved from Friday to Saturday, then the cars would be impounded. They would then line up Sundays with no tire, gear or shock absorber changes. NASCAR chairman Brian France said the plans are still under consideration. If implemented, France said "time is the cost they'll be helping teams save.'' The traditional pair of 45-minute Saturday practice sessions, called "Happy Hour,'' will be eliminated. Nextel Cup teams will run two hours of practice laps on Fridays. After impoundment, any work on cars would have to be approved by NASCAR and only for special circumstances. One benefit is that overworked Nextel Cup teams would get some rest on Saturday afternoons. Another would come in the wallets of race teams, saving money on practice tires and special parts. ESPN.com/AP11/15/04 On Speed Channel's NASCAR Live Sunday, Bob Dillner reported that during the crew chief meeting, NASCAR floated out an idea that there could be 22 two-day race weekends in 2005 for the Nextel Cup Series. The cars would go thru tech inspection on Friday, but no track activities. The drivers would practice and qualify on Saturday, and after qualifying the cars would be impounded and there would be no Happy Hour practice.
Ford to renew with Champ Car Ford's sponsorship of the Champ Car World Series ends after 2004. AutoRacing1.com asked Ford's Richard Parry-Jones in London today if there would be an announcement soon that would see Ford continue that relationship. Parry-Jones said, “I am not prepared to address that today,” but Kevin Kalkhoven said, “We have a very good relationship with Ford and we expect that we will continue that relationship.” Champ Car has been in deep negotiations with the portion of Ford that oversees Canada, Latin America and South America. The VP of that operation, Anne Stevens, has been at a number of Champ Car races recently and hinted at the awards banquet that Ford was very excited about Champ Car and would likely continue with the series. Mark Cipolloni reporting from London
Cosworth sale imminentUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See feature article by Mark Cipolloni. 11/12/04 (GMM -- Nov.12) The sale of Formula One engine supplier Cosworth Racing will be revealed at a press conference on Monday or Tuesday, an American source reported. The source said Australian-born businessman Kevin Kalkhoven, a co-owner of the Cosworth powered Champ Car championship in the States, would fly to England for the official announcement (perhaps the rumors he is buying Cosworth are true).
Forsythe part of Cosworth dealUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See feature article. 11/13/04 AutoRacing1.com has learned that the deal to buy Cosworth will include Gerald Forsythe. Forsythe had a relationship with Cosworth but asked Kevin Kalkhoven to get the deal going because he has experience with acquisitions. As we now understand it, Kalkhoven and Forsythe may be equal partners in Cosworth, as they are equal partners with OWRS. We shall know soon as an official announcement as to who bought Cosworth will be made in England on Monday. Mark C..
Jordan may not use Toyota enginesUPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' with today's announcement that Toyota will supply the Jordan team engines. See Hot News page. 11/14/04 Which engines Jordan will use, Toyota or Cosworth, must be revealed on Monday because that is the day all the F1 teams must be set for the following year, including what engines they are using. 11/14/04 AutoRacing1.com has learned that the Jordan F1 team may not use Toyota engines as everyone expected. Apparently Jordan was surprised by some of the fine print in the contract and is balking at doing the deal. We hope to learn the outcome today. If they do not use Toyota engines, one can assume the team will revert back to Cosworth.
Prost to abandon F1 return? (GMM -- Nov.15) Four time world champion Alain Prost may not want to return to the Formula One pitlane. Recent speculation said the French legend, whose own Guyencourt-based 'Prost' outfit collapsed in 2001, had targeted a 'senior role' in a team such as Renault or Toyota. But 49-year-old Prost is not sure if returning to the so-called 'Piranha Club' is worth giving up an enjoyable pastime in the Andros 'ice racing' championship. ''I don't know -- I like it here,'' he said on the weekend. ''I can be myself and have fun. I like the spirit and the atmosphere.''
Slower pit stops in 2005UPDATE NASCAR officials appear to be ready to implement a suggestion from Busch Series crew chief Ricky Pearson, who wants to restrict the flow of gasoline during pit stops. That would lengthen most pit stops and take away the advantage of teams that have full-time tire changers who can perform their tasks much quicker than the part-timers who work for many Busch teams. The changes would start in the Busch and Craftsman Truck series [in 2005], then possibly be expanded to Cup [in 2006]. Atlanta Journal-Constitution11/06/04 NASCAR wants to slow pit stops next season on the Nextel Cup and Busch tours, and officials are considering a drastic change in the fuel-dump cans. Now a gas man can dump two 11-gallon cans in a car in about 11 seconds, and that has put a remarkable premium on car owners putting together a pit crew fast enough to change four tires in that brief time span. By ordering teams to use fuel cans with smaller spouts, NASCAR officials hope to slow the dump time to 19 seconds. In turn, that would lessen the need for lightning-fast pit crews. But some top pit-crew men are upset with NASCAR's plans, saying NASCAR is playing to car owners, who have been complaining about the rising cost of hiring fast pit-crew men. Winston Salem Journal
Ford’s asking price for Jag The future of Formula One hangs in the balance following multi-million pound demands by Jaguar Racing. The team, run by American motor giants Ford, have slapped a £30million price tag on Jaguar in a bid to recoup some of their cash poured into the F1 project. But, with the rules stating there have to be 20 cars on the grid for a Grand Prix race, a buyer needs to be found or the big teams will have to run three cars to make up the numbers. But Revved Up can exclusively reveal the real asking price, which will shock the F1 paddock and shed some light on why the team has struggled to find a buyer. Red Bull are poised to pounce for the 'Big Cat' team, but if the asking price overstretches their budget they will have little left towards developing the car beyond its middle grid position. The attraction of buying an existing team is that you dodge the £25million fee paid to ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone to secure your place on the grid. Teams eventually get the payment back from Ecclestone, as long as they stay in the sport for a number of years, with it being refunded in installments. Red Bull have wanted to form their own F1 team for some years and are the big teams' main hope of filling up the grid for next year so they do not have to field another car. The third cars would not be able to gain points for the team, but would ensure the grid stays at 20 cars. People.co.uk
Rahal team may lose sponsor Word on the street is that Centrix has not renewed with Rahal Letterman Racing in the IRL and will instead move that money to the Champ Car series. No official word yet, however. We have also heard that Honda has yet to put up money to support Danica Patrick as the third driver in the team, though our info on that issue is not current.
Spencer looking at some Cup rides Jimmy Spencer is back at the track, though in a Busch ride, not a Nextel Cup ride, and looking for a Cup ride for next season. Hanging over him is the legal situation stemming from his arrest three weeks ago for resisting a police officer who had come to arrest his son for painting some cars in the neighborhood. Spencer declined to say much about his legal situation except to say it was on hold for the moment: "When the time comes, I can talk about it, but not right now." Others in a position to know offered more details of what happened that Sunday night in question, Oct. 25: According to these people, two officers came to the Spencer residence. One remained in the police car while the other came to the house. Spencer objected to the officers' presence when they said they didn't have an arrest warrant and he told them they had nothing more to say to them. Spencer then went to talk to the officer in the car, and the first officer objected and pushed Spencer away from the car and threatened to arrest him. When Spencer objected to that, the officer arrested him. "I've got some Cup possibilities for next year, some guys who want to run a limited schedule," Spencer said of his 2005 racing options. "Hopefully we can land something.” Winston Salem Journal
Dale Earnhardt Theme Park? Is a Dale Earnhardt Theme Park in the planning stages for Iredell County, near the DEI shops? Something big like that could be in the works, apparently, with the possibility that the city of Mooresville could annex DEI country. A new interchange off I-77 could help. Winston Salem Journal
GM head of racing to Hendrick GM head of racing to Hendrick? General Motors' Doug Duchardt, head of the company's world-wide racing operations, is apparently being wooed by car owner Rick Hendrick to move to North Carolina to take a key position at Hendrick Motorsports. Hendrick's racing operations were hard-hit by the plane crash three weeks ago that killed 10. Among those killed were John Hendrick, the company's president; Randy Dorton, the legendary engine builder and head of the company's engine department; and general manager Jeff Turner. Winston Salem Journal
Red Bull to set up American F1 team We are hearing that once Red Bull is confirmed Monday as the buyers of the Jaguar F1 team, they will move in the coming years to get one, possibly two American drivers, into F1. With Americans Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe supplying engines via their rumored to be Cosworth company, the chances of an American getting back into F1 are looking better than in quite some time. Red Bull is keen to get an American into F1 because they want to increase market share in the lucrative USA market. It will be interesting to see if a car company badges the Cosworth engines that Red Bull will use. All should be clearer come Monday. Mark C.
Red Bull to buy Jaguar teamUPDATE #15 The ink will be drying today on the deal to save the Jaguar Formula One team, if last-minute negotiations are completed. The new owners are to be the ambitious Red Bull soft drinks conglomerate, which has been in the market to buy a Formula One team for some time but has been restricted to sponsoring the Sauber team and Jaguar’s rookie driver, Christian Klien. The team have to lodge their entry for the 2005 season with the FIA, the sport’s governing body, on Monday morning and it is thought that the deal was close to completion late last night, rescuing 350 jobs at Jaguar’s factory in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. Jaguar’s sister business, Cosworth, the engine builder based in Northampton, is thought to be in the hands of Kevin Kalkhoven, an American entrepreneur, who will provide power plants for Formula One and the US racing series. With an engine supply secured, the sale of Jaguar can go ahead and Red Bull should be ready to make an announcement after the weekend. The Times11/12/04 More than 300 jobs at Jaguar look set to be saved as negotiations for the sale of the Formula One team to Red Bull moved towards a successful outcome yesterday. It is expected that Ford, who own Jaguar, will conclude a sale to the makers of the energy drink, reports the Guardian Unlimited website. Red Bull has been a long-time sponsor of Formula One business but now aspires to owning its own team. Any sale will have to be completed by Monday to comply with the deadline for entries in the 2005 world championship that have to be lodged with the FIA by that date. In the past late entries have been accepted beyond the official cut-off point subject to the unanimous agreement of the other teams and it is thought that such approval is unlikely to be withheld in this case. It is believed that Red Bull will pay a nominal amount for the Milton Keynes-based Jaguar Racing - possibly a symbolic one dollar - in return for taking on the team as a going concern, though it is set to invest an estimated $400million (£217million) to run the team for the next three years. 11/12/04 This Grandprix.com article sheds a bit more light on the Red Bull buying Jaguar deal. We expect an announcement by Monday. Negotiations are in their final stages for a Red Bull buyout of Jaguar Racing. The sale must be finished by Monday in order for the team to enter next year's World Championship. It is rumored that the deal will cost Red Bull a nominal sum but will remove a major liability from the Ford Motor Company's books. The firm has already set aside money to be used to pay for the closure of Jaguar Racing and Cosworth Racing but obviously it would be better for Ford if the team was sold, both from a financial point of view and from a public relations viewpoint. If the company does not do the deal with Red Bull as many as 300 people will be out of work. 11/05/04 This rumor is about to go to 'fact.' Word here in the Champ Car paddock in Mexico City from reliable sources is that Red Bull is indeed going to buy the Jaguar F1 team and they will be running with Cosworth engines. We expect a formal announcement next week, but definitely by November 15th, the cutoff date per the Concorde Agreement. Mark C.11/04/04 Red Bull has emerged as the last remaining hope that the Jaguar team has of remaining in grand prix racing next year, high-level insiders have told autosport.com. A sale must now be agreed with the energy drinks giant before November 15 or the team will probably be closed. A series of interested parties have come forwards in recent weeks expressing a desire to buy the team, with some also putting in bids for engine company Cosworth, but most of these have not lived up to expectations after further close analysis by the HSBC bank, which is handling the sale of the team.
A recent bid by the Brand Synergy marketing group, which has close links with Nigel Mansell, was rejected when financial guarantees could not be met. Similar interest from a Chinese consortium, which is now talking to Jordan, and the new Midland F1 team have also proved unfounded. A source close to the negotiations between HSBC and Red Bull told autosport.com: “Red Bull is the only bidder left – and we expect talks to go right to the deadline."
The fact that Red Bull is now the only remaining bidder puts in a position of strength – because it will almost certainly be able to force Ford to back down on points of the sale that have not previously been agreed. Agreement has to be reached by November 15, which is the date when entries to the 2005 F1 world championship must be lodged. Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko told Autosport: “We are still talking. There is an offer on the table, as there was before. We have no deadline. Alas, Ford seem to have been unable to clearly react to our offer.” 11/03/04 This just-drinks.com article says, Red Bull could be on the starting grid of next year’s Formula One Grand Prix season, according to press reports. The Austrian energy drinks group is in the final stages of negotiations to buy Ford’s UK-based Formula One team Jaguar Racing, the Financial Times said. The newspaper cites sources close to the deal in its report. Jaguar Racing must register for the 2005 world championship by 15 November or face paying up to US$450m in closure costs, the FT said. While Red Bull is interested in buying the team, Ford has indicated that another bidder is interested in buying both Jaguar Racing and Cosworth Racing, Ford’s competition engines subsidiary. The paper said that Red Bull’s founder and chairman, Dietrich Mateschitz, is understood to be ready to call what Red Bull regards as Ford’s bluff. People close to the sale said the other potential buyer may not have financial backing for a deal. 11/03/04 [Editor's Note: We have been telling you for months that Red Bull will get the Jaguar F1 team. It's getting closer.] The sale of Jaguar Racing to main bidder Red Bull is being held up by minor points of disagreement between the two parties, Autosport Magazine reveals. The Ford-owned team has been for sale since September 17, when the company announced it was withdrawing from Formula 1. Ford has insisted from the outset that any buyer meets strict criteria, including funding the team for the next three seasons and offering guarantees over the job security of Jaguar Racing’s 350 staff. As an American company, Ford remains responsible for the welfare of its employees under any new owner for three years. Red Bull has been reluctant to comply with all of Ford’s stipulations, although it has more than met the financial requirements laid down. Its offer exceeds the $50 million (£28m) per season over three years Ford wants from a buyer. The nominal purchase price for buying Jaguar Racing, its staff and facilities and its entry to next year’s F1 championship is estimated to be around £3.5m. As the sole remaining serious bidder for Jaguar Racing, Red Bull is in a position of strength in the negotiations and is prepared to test Ford’s desire to sell the team. Ford, which is selling the team through representatives from former sponsor HSBC, wants the sale to be agreed before November 15 – the date by which entries for the 2005 championship must be submitted. 10/11/04 And although managing director Dave Pitchforth denied rumors, which developed on Sunday, that the team had already secured a deal for current backers Red Bull to take over the team, he insisted recent talks are going well. "There are various negotiations and it's not right for me to comment on them other than to tell people the process is going on" said Pitchforth. "It's not my company to sell, it's Ford Motor Company's to sell. We're nowhere near 99 percent sold because there's a process to go through and that involves banks, it involves lawyers. But all that's happening as quick as we can get it. Time is of the essence and there's a lot of good stuff going on, but there's no decision really. Obviously we already have a relationship with Red Bull and it's nice. It's not over until it's over."
09/30/04Racereport magazine have reported that Austrian energy drink giant Red Bull bought Jaguar, with the help of Bernie Ecclestone and that Toyota will supply the team with customer engines. It was also reported that the GP2-engine manufacturer, Mécachrome, will buy Cosworth, which was denied in another report. The fate of Jaguar and Cosworth will apparently be revealed on October 15th according to the report. 09/23/04 We remind you that we told you three months ago that Red Bull was approved by Nick Shayla and Bill Ford to buy the Jaguar team (see earlier update to this rumor.) Now, after three months have passed, surprise surprise, Autosport reports in this article - Energy drinks giant Red Bull has emerged as favorite to buy the Jaguar Racing Formula 1 team, just days after its boss Dietrich Mateschitz ruled out interest in a fresh attempt to set up his own grand prix outfit, autosport.com can reveal.
Sources close to Jaguar have confirmed that Red Bull is back in talks with the team with a view to a swift purchase of the outfit, even though a deal to buy it earlier this year was scuppered at the last minute by Ford's financial chiefs in Detroit. Mateschitz is understood to have put that disappointment behind him and changed his mind about abandoning attempts to set up his own team.
He is believed to be evaluating several options for his company in F1 next year, ranging from buying the Jaguar team outright and it becoming the official Red Bull Grand Prix team, to maintaining his sponsorship of Sauber or even pulling out of F1 completely and switching his focus to United States racing. When asked about whether a buy-out of Jaguar was on the cards, Mateschitz said on Wednesday: “Nothing is impossible and everything can be done. Talks are going on and at the moment there are several possibilities we are looking at.”
Although Mateschitz was originally only interested in plans for his own ‘All American F1 Team' if it could be done in conjunction with Ford, there are suggestions that his latest attempt may revolve around a supply of customer Toyota engines. The Japanese car manufacturer has made no secret of the fact that it will be happy to supply a second team in F1 if there was a genuine ‘engine crisis' and an insider at the team suggested that its engine department has already been told to gear up for customer supplies in 2005.
The major hurdle to be overcome if ‘Jaguar' is to switch to Toyota engines next year is the fact that the team has already completed much of the work on its R6 contender based around next year's Cosworth engine. The interim R5B, featuring next year's transmission and gearbox, is due to run at Jerez in Spain next week. Although it is not impossible for the team to make modifications to the car to fit a Toyota engine, the work would require considerable financial outlay. One source close to the team told autosport.com: “I think we would find it extremely difficult to install a Toyota engine by Melbourne next year. Re-jigging the car now would mean an enormous expense.”
7/21/04 The Ford Motor Company announced its second quarter profits of $1.2 Billion, but Ford's automotive operations are losing money and the Premier Automotive Group (PAG), which includes Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover and Aston Martin, posted a loss of $359 million despite increased sales. Ford warned that PAG will probably finish the year with a loss and said that it needs to undertake more restructuring at Jaguar. Whether that will affect the F1 program remains to be seen. 6/20/04 - This week's Autosport magazine reports that Red Bull has denied reports in the Austrian media that it has purchased the Jaguar Formula 1 team and that Gerhard Berger would be the team principal. “I’m the last person to hear this,” said Berger. The story also suggested that Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed, leaders of the Formula 3000 International and Formula Renault Eurocup series respectively, would be driving for the team in 2005. AutoRacing1.com can tell you that although Red Bull has not bought the Jaguar team yet, they probably will. 6/29/04 - Our moles in Formula One tell us the deal for Red Bull to buy Jaguar is nearly complete, the deposit has been made and the due diligence is being carried out. We hear Cosworth will still supply engines and Ford will still own Cosworth. Mark C.6/24/04 - AutoRacing1 has learned that if anyone buys the Jaguar F1 team, it will be Red Bull. That choice has been made by Nick Shayla and Bill Ford. Now it remains to be seen whether it happens. If not the team could be disbanded, unless another manufacturer buys it. 6/24/04 - We are bumping this rumor up to 'strong' and it may go to 'fact' before this season is over. A respected, very connected reader writes, I spoke to a friend of mine who works for PAG (Premier Auto Group - U.S. headquarters for Jaguar, Volvo, Aston Martin, Land Rover) today. I asked him if he had heard anything about what's going on with Jaguar's Formula 1 program. He said that Jaguar was pulling out of F1 after this season - there will be no Jaguar F1 program for 2005. He said that they will continue their support of Trans-Am, a series that they are more than pleased to be involved with due to the excellent return on their investment. He also said he wouldn't be surprised if Jaguar did a feasibility study in the next year or two with regard to a possible return to sports cars by racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. One has to think that Jackie Stewart, when he learned of Jaguar's F1 pullout recently, went to the Royal Bank of Scotland (of which he is a member) as a sports advisor and may have unleashed his trademark charm and business acumen to persuade the financial institution to begin a marketing program centered around F1. Jaguar may be leaving the F1 circus, but perhaps Jackie isn't! If Jaguar leaves, do you think Cosworth will remain as an engine supplier? If they do bail, what are Jordan and my beloved Minardi going to do for engines? Name withheld by request, Newport Beach, California6/23/04 - This week's Autosport Magazine reports, Jaguar team chief Tony Purnell has warned fellow Formula 1 bosses that he cannot be absolutely sure the outfit will be in grand prix racing next year. With Jaguar ninth in the constructors’ standings, speculation has heightened that the team will be canned, despite public assurances from parent company Ford that it intends to continue with the project. Sources told Autosport that Purnell was recently asked in a team principals’ meeting by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone whether or not he could guarantee Jaguar’s participation in 2005 and he responded in the negative. In public Purnell is bullish about Jaguar’s future in the sport. “In the last week we signed off an enormous piece of work in the wind tunnel, and to sign a check like that and pull out the following week doesn’t make sense,” he said.
When asked why he lacked the guarantee to tell Ecclestone Jaguar would definitely be in F1 next year, Purnell explained he was merely being honest about the situation and that there was nothing to stop a sudden change of heart from Ford about its long-term commitment.
“I try to keep everything on the straight and narrow and I have got a cast-in-stone contract I can tell you about,” he said. “I would be surprised if we are not here.” It remains a possibility that the team could be sold at the end of the year, but the complete closure of the outfit has been ruled out. To do so, sources claim it would cost around £120 million in contractual and redundancy payments.
Tagliani to ink 3-year deal The Toronto Sun reports that Champ Car driver Alex Tagliani has agreed to a three-year contract extension with Rocketsports Racing. "I have agreed to a three-year deal," Tagliani told the paper. "(Owner) Paul (Gentilozzi) and I worked it out in Mexico and shook hands on it." Tagliani told the Sun that a formal signing of the contract will take place once lawyers from both sides go over it. Tagliani finished with 218 points in 2004 to finish seventh in the Champ Car standings. His first series victory came at the Grand Prix of Road America in August.
Blaney and Jack Daniels to No. 30 car Richard Childress Racing is expected to announce at Miami-Homestead Speedway next weekend that Jack Daniels will become the official sponsor of the No. 30 Chevrolet to replace a departing AOL. The driver is said to be Dave Blaney with Philippe Lopez as crew chief.
Some big news is coming Rumors suggest that we will have some big news to report to you from Europe in the next several days. Because of the importance, AutoRacing1.com President Mark Cipolloni will make a special trip to England to report firsthand on events that unfold as they happen early next week.
Vintage F1 to team up with IRL at Infineon We are hearing that attempts are being made to have a vintage F1 race held in conjunction with the IRL event at Infineon Raceway in 2005. It will be interesting to see how much faster the 20 and 30 year old F1 cars lap Infineon than the IRL slugs.
Jordan to get Toyota and BriscoeUPDATE #5 According to Ian Phillips, the team's Director of Commercial Affairs, Jordan's search for an engine supplier is over as they're on the verge of concluding an engine deal with Toyota. "We are very close but there's still quite a lot of paperwork to do and stuff like that," Phillips told Reuters. "It's going to be a couple of weeks before it's all absolutely certain. But we are very, very hopeful now that we've got the elements in place." According to The Guardian newspaper, Jordan may have to sign Toyota's test driver Ryan Briscoe in return for Toyota supplying them with engines for less than the £5.5m fee Cosworth charged in 2004. 11/10/04 According to Autosport, Jordan is now only days away from announcing an engine and financial package which should guarantee the future of the team. Deals to secure a cost-only Toyota engine supply for $7 million (£4m) per season and the backing of a major Chinese consortium are on the verge of being finalized. This could mean a move for 2004 Toyota test driver Ryan Briscoe to Jordan as a race driver, although this is not thought to be a condition of the engine-supply agreement. Sources suggest Toyota was keen to agree the deal as the 2005 long-life engine regulations would otherwise have required it to build fewer motors and might therefore have led to staff lay-offs. Jordan insiders say the mood at the team’s Silverstone HQ has changed dramatically in recent weeks from one of despair to cautious optimism for 2005. A source said: “If we’ve got budget, decent engines and a car designed by Mark Smith [Jordan’s newly appointed technical director] we should be in pretty good shape.” Autosport understands that a number of other parties are involved in the 2005 package, including Christian Horner, boss of Formula 3000 championship winning team Arden International. 11/04/04 According to English.Eastday Eddie Jordan flew to Beijing earlier this week to meet with potential Chinese buyers. Jordan met with Guo Jie, the President of Huabin Group who specialize in property development. Following the talks, Jordan returned to the UK while Marketing Director Mike Hall-Taylor remained in China. "We have been toying with the idea this year but it wasn't until the huge success of the Chinese Grand Prix that we seriously pursued the idea," stated a Huabin spokesman. “Looking at the huge commercial interest generated in Shanghai, we realized that a Formula One team backed by China could also enjoy business success." 10/29/04 This Grandprix.com article adds, Eddie Jordan is close to a deal with Toyota for a supply of engine for his team but it looks like the deal will include a number of other changes, including the arrival in the team of a new owner in the form of a mysterious businessman from China, whom we have yet to identify. It seems that in addition Arden International's Christian Horner will come in and run the team. It is not clear exactly how the deal will work but with a Toyota engine and a Mark Smith-designed chassis (Smith having joined Jordan recently from Renault) the team has a fighting chance of some good results even if the arrangements are going to be very late in the day and there will be pressure on the team to get a car out in time for the new season. The deal will almost certainly involve Australian Toyota nominee Ryan Briscoe and if Horner is involved we would expect him to try to get Formula 3000 Vitantonio Liuzzi into the team, unless the Italian gets a better offer from another team. The exact details of the deal that is coming together are not clear but it may involve some technology transfer from Toyota, which would speed up Jordan's tasks in the months ahead. The deal needs to be in place before the November 15 deadline for entries for next year. 10/28/04 According to this Guardian article, The future of the Jordan Formula One team has almost certainly been secured by a deal to use Toyota engines in the 2005 world championship. It is expected that Toyota's 23-year-old test driver Ryan Briscoe will pilot one of the new Jordan EJ-15s next season, but the team have not settled on a second driver. "Things are looking much more optimistic and we are now 99% certain that we will be on the grid for the Australian grand prix at Melbourne next March," said Ian Phillips, Jordan's commercial director. "It has been a nerve-racking past few weeks but we're now looking forward to the future."
Danica Patrick to replace Kenny Brack Kenny Brack won't be returning to the Rahal IRL team. Danica Patrick is scheduled to test at Phoenix next week for Rahal Letterman Racing. The funding is nearly in place for a three-car effort, team general manager Scott Roembke said. Patrick would join Vitor Meira and Buddy Rice.
Sauber to lose Red Bull It is thought that the Sauber team will lose its backing from Red Bull next year because Red Bull will put all their money behind the Jaguar team it is buying. Sauber major partner Petronas, the Malaysian oil company, is rumored to become the primary sponsor.
Bernie might promote British GP himself Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone could promote next year's British Grand Prix himself as part of a deal with teams to keep the race on the calendar. "It's a suggestion that has been made," said Alex Hooton, chief executive of the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) that owns Silverstone circuit. "It was made within the context of the team principals' meeting but we have no direct confirmation," he told Reuters on Thursday. "We are still waiting for a formal approach." "The devil is in the detail," he added when asked about the proposal. "But it is something which has a lot of merit on the surface. We will certainly have a constructive and very energetic look at it." British Sports Minister Richard Caborn had no hesitation in hailing a deal. "I particularly welcome Bernie Ecclestone's FOM organization and all the F1 teams' decision to run the extra races that have allowed Silverstone on to the 2005 calendar and his decision to take on the promotion of the British Grand Prix next year," he said in a statement. Reuters
Cheever to announce Carpentier and Toyota todayUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See Hot News story. 11/11/04 Rumor has it that Eddie Cheever will announce this afternoon that former Champ Car driver Patrick Carpentier will drive for the team in 2005 with Toyota power. Carpentier becomes the latest in a long line of Champ Car drivers who have been lured over by the almighty dollar to the IRL, only to see the IRL's TV ratings drop further each year, meaning Champ Car fans have no interest in these drivers once they leave the fold and jump in bed with the enemy.
PKV to test three driversUPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Why isn't PKV testing Michael Valiante? He is from British Colombia like Greg Moore and he is bloody quick. Ranger is from Quebec and, although I think he is good, was waxed by his faster teammate Dalziel this year. The series already has Tagliani from Quebec. The series needs a driver from the west side of Canada. Kip Tilton, Edmonton11/11/04 With Jim McGee coming aboard at PKV Racing as Team Manager, it is said he wants to test former F3000 champion Bjorn Wirdheim and Toyota Atlantic runner-up Ryan Dalziel. Now comes word the team may also test Canadian rookie Andrew Ranger. We also hear another team is looking at Ranger.
Formula 1 qualifying to change again? In Brazil the Formula 1 teams got together and agreed to accept a new qualifying plan which had been dreamed up by Bernie Ecclestone, Max Mosley and Jean Todt over coffee at the World Motor Sport Council in Paris the previous week. Now it seems things may need to change because, according to Ecclestone, "people are upset" about the new plan. Ecclestone did not say who was upset but it seems that the major opposition to the idea is coming from the television broadcasters, who see no purpose in having final qualifying on Sunday morning, something which wipes out the audience for qualifying on Saturdays and will not be replaced by any huge audience on a Sunday morning. Grandprix.com
HVM could become 3-car team While Gigante remains undecided, Mexico City was the last race for the Herdez Group as a major sponsor in the Champ Car series after more than a decade. The pullout is reportedly due to a battle for power within Herdez between the Hernandez Pons brothers. Enrique Hernandez Pons is assisting team principal Keith Wiggins in the search for new Mexico-based sponsorship for the re-named HVM (Hola Viva Mexico!) team, and Wiggins believes that new backers could be announced in the near future. Mario Dominguez is contracted to the team for two more years, though the Mexican may have an alternate opportunity in Formula 1 down the road. Representatives from the start-up Midland team were present at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, and with F-1 likely to return to Mexico in the future, they invited Dominguez to tour the Dallara factory and test the car when it appears in mid-2005. Ryan Hunter-Reay could remain with the team, and though he wants to remain in Champ Cars, the 23 year old is reportedly being courted by IRL IndyCar Series team Ganassi Racing. Hunter-Reay led all 250 laps in winning on the Milwaukee oval earlier this year. HVM could expand to three cars, with Roberto Gonzalez bringing his Nextel sponsorship over from PKV Racing. Wiggins favors Justin Wilson as his choice to replace Hunter-Reay if the team does not come to terms with the American. National Speed Sport News
Earnhardt crew chief to be penalizedUPDATE Tony Eury Sr., crew chief for the #8 Chevrolet of driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., was fined $2,500 for violating Section 12-4-A (Actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-4-Q (Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the car, car parts, components and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform to NASCAR rules) for having a windshield on the car that was not an approved part and also did not meet the minimum required thickness of one-quarter inch. The infraction was discovered by NASCAR officials during opening-day inspection. NASCAR PR11/08/04 NASCAR officials confiscated the windshield from Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #8 Budweiser Chevy over the weekend. According to spokesman Mike Zizzo, the windshield was too thin and not approved. A penalty is likely, but to what extent will be determined by Nextel Cup series director John Darby, Zizzo said. The penalty should be announced this week. ThatsRacin.com
NASCAR to approve hard liquor sponsorshipUPDATE #2 After conducting an extended review of its sponsorship policies and researching trends in consumer attitudes, NASCAR announced that distilled spirits products are now a new category for sponsorship in the sport beginning in the 2005 season. "We felt the time was right to allow distilled spirits companies into NASCAR," said Mike Helton, President of NASCAR. "Attitudes have changed, and spirits companies have a long record of responsible advertising. Any spirits company involved in NASCAR will have marketing campaigns strongly grounded in responsibility and will follow advertising and marketing guidelines set by NASCAR that are consistent with the Distilled Spirits Council's advertising code. Spirits companies are recognized as leaders in responsibility and are encouraging adults who choose to drink, to do so responsibly. We are confident that the spirits companies entering our sport will come to apply that same level of responsibility to their involvement in NASCAR, and will communicate the same responsible marketing and messages that beer companies have exhibited in the sport for the past 25 years," Helton said. "Additionally, this will provide numerous new sponsorship opportunities to our teams. While the NASCAR industry will benefit across the board, teams will be the primary beneficiaries of this decision in a way that promotes a responsible drinking message consistent with the practices in other motorsports." NASCAR's internal review included outreach to advocacy groups such as the National Commission Against Drunk Driving and other experts in the field of alcohol-related issues. Additionally, NASCAR reached out to industry groups such as the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and The Century Council. NASCAR based its guidelines on the input received from these groups. The distilled spirits companies participating in NASCAR must agree to comply with the Distilled Spirits Council's "Code of Responsible Practices for Beverage Alcohol Advertising and Marketing" and abide by the Code Review Board's decisions. Each company's marketing activities will be grounded in a responsible behavior message. A dedicated portion of advertising by spirits companies in NASCAR will be solely focused on encouraging responsible drinking decisions, with all remaining advertising including a responsible behavior tag. NASCAR PR10/16/04 This rumor is about to be upgraded to 'fact.' NASCAR is set to rescind its ban on hard-liquor sponsorships beginning next season, ThatsRacin.com has learned. The move should bring an influx of new sponsorship money into the sport. Several Nextel Cup teams – Roush Racing and Richard Childress Racing among them – are primed to sign sponsorship deals with hard-liquor companies, including Diageo and Jack Daniels, sources said. On Friday, NASCAR officials insisted they had not made a final decision. "We are currently evaluating the policy we have in place regarding liquor sponsors but no official decision has been made at this time in regard to any changes," NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said. NASCAR has allowed beer companies to sponsor cars and its Busch series has been sponsored by Anheuser-Busch since 1982. In recent years NASCAR also has allowed hard liquor companies to advertise their malt beverage products. For instance, Smirnoff vodka is not allowed, but Smirnoff Ice is allowed as an associate sponsor on Matt Kenseth's #17 Ford. Several other racing series already allow hard liquor advertising. Crown Royal began sponsoring the International Race of Champions series this season. NASCAR will likely provide several guidelines overseeing the marketing of the hard liquor sponsorships, but is not expected to alter its 18-year-old minimum age requirement for its three national series – Craftsman Trucks, Busch and Cup, sources said. ThatsRacin.com09/18/04 With both NBC and Fox having apparently approved hard-liquor sponsorship of a Nextel Cup car, the ball is in NASCAR's court in the debate over whether to allow Diageo, makers of Crown Royal and other alcoholic beverages, to sponsor a car on the Nextel Cup tour next season, and sources say NASCAR has decided to allow the company to sponsor a Cup car. NASCAR vetoed Jack Roush's sponsorship plans earlier this season. For much of the year the debate has been in the network offices of Fox and NBC, where executives have been against allowing TV ads for products like Crown Royal, even while allowing their cable subsidiaries to accept such ads. The Fox Speed channel is carrying the Crown Royal-sponsored IROC series. But ABC's decision to allow Jim Beam sponsorship during the Indianapolis 500 apparently broke the long-time network ban, and Fox and NBC are willing to let Nextel Cup teams carry such sponsorships too - once NASCAR executives work out their own details - according to sources. Winston Salem Journal
Kalkhoven Cosworth deal key to Jaguar future This week's Autosport Magazine reports Champ Car series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven is due to be announced as the new owner of Cosworth Racing early next week. Multimillionaire businessman Kalkhoven plans to continue the company’s engine manufacture and supply operations on both sides of the Atlantic, saving more than 500 jobs. The deal will also help secure the futures of the Minardi and Jaguar Formula 1 teams, both of which were supplied by Cosworth in 2004.
Meanwhile, Autosport understands that talks between Jaguar Racing and its sole remaining prospective buyer, Red Bull, have reached a conclusive stage in advance of the November 15 deadline for entries to be lodged for the 2005 world championship. The team is scheduled to test at Barcelona later this month with two silver-painted R5B chassis, which incorporate several elements of the 2005 R6 car. They will run with Cosworth engines. Continuity of engine supply was considered essential to the team’s 2005 competitiveness as the packaging of the R6 had been settled before Ford’s withdrawal.
Champ Car could institute cost saving measures A reader asks, It's clear Champ Car needs more manufacturers involved in the series, but how can they do that without letting costs get out of control again. Dave Westfield, Pittsburgh, PA. Dear Dave, It's quite easy really. Various professional sports have salary caps. If I were running Champ Car I would offer up the spec Cosworth engine for multiple manufacturers to badge. For example, in 2006, 50% of the Cosworth engines should be badged by Ford, 50% by, say, Chevy. Each manufacturer then can spend a specified total amount of money supporting "their" teams, up to their salary or price cap. It is up to them to spend it wisely to help "their" teams win. This scenario keeps all costs in check, speeds in check, electronics in check, etc. This allows multiple manufacturers to compete knowing that their total cost for the year will be equal to the competition, all the engines will have equal HP, now go out and beat the opposition as a "team" with the only advantage for one side or the other being who can assemble the best teams within the price caps specified. It's called teamwork, and may the best team (driver, engineers, mechanics, etc) win. I would allow some R&D on aerodynamics and suspension/shocks, but all within their team price cap. That's it. The purists will insist that manufacturers won't buy into this model because they want to win by making the most HP. To that I say hogwash. We have seen what happened to many racing series when one manufacturer was willing to significantly outspend the opposition. It drives the other manufacturers out of the series and the race series dies. Champ Car must have complete control and set up an environment by which a manufacturer can compete on equal terms and win with teamwork, better strategy, and good old ingenuity. As they say, build it and they shall come. Mark C.
One tire supplier instead of V8s for F1UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Plans for a 'control tire' situation in Formula One have been shelved until at least 2006, Minardi owner Paul Stoddart revealed in London on Tuesday. The reduction in race season testing to just ten days had been earlier touted, but that would have been contingent on the controversial expulsion of either incumbent supplier Bridgestone or Michelin. ''You just can't do (fewer than a 24-day test agreement),'' said Australian entrepreneur Stoddart, ''unless you have the single tire. (It) is something we will look at again in the future.'' 09/28/04 (GMM) Formula One's proposed tire monopoly might be back on, after a Sunday meeting of the Technical Working Group in Shanghai. In July, Max Mosley's plan to send either Bridgestone or Michelin home was scrapped, particularly after the protest - and apparent rule compromise - of the two tire suppliers. But the FIA president, Mosley, also hinted at Magny-Cours that if the counter-proposals are not successful, '(then) we'll look (at a monopoly) again.' Now, with so much resistance to the proposed V8 formula - including a threat of litigation - the TWG, made up of technical directors, was asked in China which was preferable ... V8s or a single tire supplier. The latter got a near unanimous vote. Sources believe calling a cease fire on the tire war would have at least three-fold benefits - most importantly, money would be saved because expensive tire testing becomes unnecessary. Moreover, the sole tire supplier would not have to design such competitive compounds, thus reducing cornering speeds, and no team - like Ferrari - could find an advantage by simply turning up at a track with a better tire.
BRDC to 'consider' new deal (GMM -- Nov.10) The British Racing Drivers' Club is waiting for Bernie Ecclestone's new proposal for a 2005 grand prix at Silverstone. The 74-year-old impresario said he would be 'shattered' if the Club did not sign a deal after achieving the teams' go-ahead to stage a nineteenth race next season. ''If there is a new proposal ... which makes financial sense,'' read a portion of a BRDC statement, ''(it) will be seriously considered by the board.'' Meanwhile, a Ferrari F1 member told the media on Tuesday evening that Jean Todt and back-up Ross Brawn did not attend the London meeting for 'personal' reasons. He said Todt is on holiday in South America, and technical director Brawn's mother had just died.
2005 Bahrain race set for 'sell out' (GMM -- Nov.10) Bahrain's second grand prix is heading for a sell-out, according to race organizers. The circuit's business development manager, Rayan Kazerooni, said more than twice the number of agents 'to promote the event internationally' had signed on at a top travel expo compared to a year ago. ''We are confident (next April's grand prix will) attract more than 40,000 people to the Sakhir desert,'' he added.
Champ Car eyes 3 of 4 racesUPDATE A reader adds, Regarding your comment that Champ Car is eyeing a venue in the Middle East - I would highly recommend the new Dubai circuit. It looks like a really good facility and the racing I have seen from there was excellent (Euro Touring Cars/FIA GT/F-Renault V6). There was lots of action, and plenty of overtaking for all types of car. There is lots of paved run-off areas (less need for full course caution), and a nice variety of corners. The main problem seemed to be with sand on the circuit (but that added to the excitement for the viewer!). I have seen races on TV this year from all the new circuits in the Middle East (Dubai, Qatar & Bahrain) and Dubai certainly looks the best from a racing perspective, in fact I would say it is the best of any circuits built in recent years that I have seen. So hopefully that is the one Champ Car are looking at. I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank Messrs. Kalkhoven, Gentilozzi and Forsythe for getting Champ Car through the season against the odds. There are millions of us fans around the world looking forward to many more seasons in the future. Stuart Page, England Dear Stuart, Regarding the Middle East, we suspect it will be a street race, if it happens, and when we asked, were told it is a very safe place for Americans, as that was our immediate concern regarding a race in that part of the world given the Iraq war. We suspect it will be along a waterfront in a much less hostile environment (such as a beach resort or downtown area location) versus being out in the middle of a desert surrounded by sand and cactus. Mark C.11/07/04 There is a lot of talk about what races might be added to the final version of the Champ Car calendar. A good source tells us it's quite possible three of four races still under consideration can be added. Those four are Argentina (almost definite), Brazil (better than 50/50), China (50/50) and a venue in the Middle East. Mark C.
Kumho and Midland (GMM -- Nov.10) Korean tire brand Kumho might team up with new Formula One team 'Midland F1' in 2006, the rumor mill is whispering. Both current F1 suppliers, Bridgestone and Michelin, said they had not been in touch with the Russia-backed outfit, or other new team Dubai F1. ''We would welcome a discussion once (the teams') plans are fixed,'' a Bridgestone spokesperson told website F1Racing.net. It is thought logical, meanwhile, that Dubai - in collaboration with Michelin-clad F1 team McLaren-Mercedes - will also wear French-made tires in 2006. A Michelin spokesperson admitted: ''It would make sense ... but at the moment we have not spoken to them.''
John Deere or Harrah's to sponsor GordonUPDATE #2 Robby Gordon, who is leaving Richard Childress Racing to start his own Nextel Cup team, said this weekend that Harrah's Entertainment will sponsor his car next season. "Harrah's is definitely part of our Cup sponsorship," Gordon said. "I've had a relationship with Harrah's for a long time. I've got really good friends there ... and they've been a supporter of ours throughout the years." Las Vegas Sun. BGNRacing.com has been told that the #55 team owned by Robby Gordon will continue to run in the Busch Series in '05 for 24 races with Fruit of the Loom returning as the sponsor. The schedule will consist mostly of companion events and also include the Mexico City race in March. BGNRacing.com11/06/04 Robby Gordon said he's teaming with car owner Jim Smith next season, setting up a Nextel Cup team. "The only sponsors I can confirm are Harrah's - which just bought Caesars, to become the largest gaming company - and Fruit of the Loom," Gordon said. Gordon plans to run a 25-man team, though Nextel Cup rivals say that's much too small a staff for a major Cup effort. Gordon declined to announce his crew chief or any of the key men he had signed. Winston Salem Journal11/01/04 Rumor has it that when Robby Gordon starts his Nextel Cup series team next year, John Deere will be his sponsor. Otherwise we are at a loss as to why he has been wearing John Deere hats because his website does not list John Deere as one of his current partners.
Ganassi trying to steal Hunter-Reay from Champ Car First Chip Ganassi moved his entire team to the IRL and left Champ Car worse off for it. Then he stole Darren Manning from Champ Car for 2004. Next Toyota runner Chip Ganassi tried to buy Ford's Cosworth, some say as a front man for Tony George, and lost, reportedly to Champ Car's Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe. Now, according to this SPEED TV article, Chip Ganassi is after Ryan Hunter-Reay to be his third driver in the IRL but the 23-year-old rookie isn’t sure where he’ll be in 2005. "I'm a road racer at heart and I’d like to stay with this team but I don’t know what’s going to happen at this moment," said Hunter-Reay, who scored his 2nd Champ Car win at Milwaukee this year. "I’ve been offered a good ride in the IRL but with Chevy gone, two Japanese manufacturers and Toyota heading for NASCAR I don’t know what’s going on there. I know whatever I do I want to make the next step and contend for wins every race and not fifth or sixth place." Hunter-Reay recently signed with CSS and would like to try F-1 some day. [Editor's Note: We expect hell to freeze over before Ryan Hunter-Reay races in the IRL. The talent pull isn't deep enough in the useless IPS series so Chip has to go to the vastly superior Champ Car series to get drivers.]
Jourdain Jr. to drive NASCAR Busch Rumor has it that Mexican Champ Car driver Michel Jourdain Jr. will drive in next year's inaugural NASCAR Busch series race in Mexico City. It will probably be a one-race deal to help build interest in the event.
Forsythe could run 3 or 4 cars in 2005 “We’re looking at the opportunity to run a couple of young Czech drivers,” said Gerald Forsythe, “and we’re also going to test David Martinez (age 21) who won the Cupa Corona here in Mexico and deserves a chance. “I’ve spoken with (vice president of operations) Neil (Micklewright) and he says it ’s almost cheaper to run four cars than three. More than that and we would have to expand our facility in Indianapolis . . . and we’re considering that. “I’m dedicated to making this series a success and we’ll do whatever needs to be done to support it. If we have the ability to run more than three cars and do it well, we will.” Perhaps it was Servia who best summed up the situation, not only for himself and for a number of other drivers, but for the series as a whole. “People are excited,” he said, “and there’s a lot of talk, but it all depends on getting the funding together. But it definitely feels better than the end of last year.” SPEEDTV
Ford dragging their heels on sale to Red Bull Red Bull have confirmed putting in an offer to buy Jaguar Racing but say the F1 team's owners Ford are dragging their heels. According to the Austrian energy drink company motorsport 'advisor' Helmut Marko, they have already submitted an offer to Ford. Marko also revealed that Red Bull has met with all of Ford's "financial requirements", however, Jaguar's owners appear to be "reluctant to agree." He told Autosport: "Ford seem to have been unable to clearly react (to the offer)." Meanwhile according to the latest rumors, Bernie Ecclestone is prepared to buy Jaguar and Ford's up for sale engine manufacturer Cosworth if no suitable buyers come forward. The F1 supremo has yet to comments on these reports. Planet-F1
Many Champ Car seats up for grabs in 2005 This SPEED TV article says, A year ago in Mexico City the hot topic of conversation was the survival/future of CART and the Champ Car World Series. This year, with the survival of the Champ Car World Series secure -- at least for the foreseeable future -- conversation has turned to more conventional and, at least from a race fan’s standpoint, interesting topics. In other words, there is a silly season of sorts in the Champ Car paddock at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez with the ’05 plans for drivers like Michel Jourdain Jr., Justin Wilson, Oriol Servia, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Roberto Gonzalez -- among others -- in play, along with those of teams such as Herdez Competition, Mi-Jack/Conquest, RuSPORT, PKV and Forsythe. Not to mention, of course, 2004 championship Newman/Haas Racing which is widely expected to run a third car for Cristiano da Matta in addition to Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira. More.....
Vancouver won't be reinstated This Globe and Mail article says, After 14 successful seasons at full throttle, Vancouver's Molson Indy looks to be screeching to a halt. While Molson continues to negotiate with the city and searches for corporate sponsors to get the race back on track, things look bleak as Vancouver's preparations for the 2010 Winter Olympics have apparently left the Indy in limbo. "I don't think it's going to happen but it's really more a Molson-B.C. issue and not ours," said Champ Car co-owner Paul Gentilozzi, who also runs Rocketsports Racing. "We love it there, it's a great event and that's successful with the fans. We all like going there. We talked to people who said we could still race there during Olympic construction and that it could be accommodated," he said. "I think it was a bit of an excuse. "I understand Molson's motives to make a better business deal, but I think that race was good for tourism and they've made a mistake not pulling together," Gentilozzi said.
With the Olympics on the horizon, Vancouver seems reluctant to focus its attention elsewhere, added Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven.
"The fact that Vancouver is not on the schedule does not mean that the event will definitely not happen," said Cynthea Galbraith, spokesperson for Molson Sports and Entertainment. "Molson, Champ Car and the B.C. business community are still evaluating the possibility of staging a race in 2005. There isn't really a deadline and we feel it's important to thoroughly investigate these avenues, so we'll take the time to put in our best effort."
Molson is not involved in Edmonton's race, but has expressed interest in a partnership. With a four-week break in Champ Car's 2005 schedule after the race in Montreal on Aug. 28, there remains a glimmer of hope for Vancouver should Molson pull off a deal. A last-minute agreement would probably return the Molson Indy Vancouver to its traditional Labor Day weekend date, which was usurped by Denver two years ago and pushed the Vancouver race to July.
RuSPORT could lose Gigante, but expand to 3 cars Jourdain’s position at RuSPORT has attracted a lot of attention in the midst of news that Gigante may not renew its sponsorship agreement with the popular Mexican in the face of disappointing earnings. Although neither Jourdain or RuSPORT team owner Carl Russo would make ironclad commitments regarding ’05, Jourdain seems likely to return for a second year there. “We’ll have two cars, maybe three,” said Russo. 2004 rookie of the year A.J. Allmendinger is contractually locked in at RuSPORT for the near future, but what about Jourdain in the face of the potential loss of Gigante? “Gigante is not 100 percent either way,” said Jourdain. “But my relationship with RuSPORT is not dependent on Gigante.” SPEED TV
Is the IRL teetering on collapse? This Dallas Morning News article paints the picture that both Toyota and Honda could be on their way to NASCAR, leaving the IRL with no engine manufacturers. Excerpts - It's only a matter of time now until Toyota joins Nextel Cup. More than a few people made that comment this weekend in the NASCAR garages, reading between the lines after Chevrolet's departure from the IRL. Three weeks ago, before the IRL event at Texas Motor Speedway, Toyota Racing Development president Jim Aust said the company still hadn't made a decision about moving up to Cup. That decision probably got a little easier a few days ago.
When GM made the surprising announcement Wednesday that it was leaving the IRL after next season, Aust and his Toyota brain trust must have sat down and asked: "Where do we go from here?"
Toyota wants to race against GM, Ford and Chrysler, which it does now in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Toyota's first season has been a clear success with four victories in the Tundra pickup, including three in the last six races. But the best place to gain exposure against the "Big Three" manufacturers is Nextel Cup. If Toyota determines Cup is worth the investment, it's bad news for the IRL.
Toyota has a contract with the open-wheel series through 2006, but a move to Cup in 2007 became more appealing with GM pulling the plug on its IRL program. The bottom line for GM officials was the age-old business refrain of return on investment. It was costing too much to be competitive in a league that has limited popularity.
Honda dominated IRL competition this year by reportedly spending between $80 million and $100 million. Toyota spent less than half that amount, and GM spent about $25 million. Honda won 14 races this season, and Toyota won two. From Toyota's perspective, if it's going to take that much cash to compete in the IRL, why not spend the money in Cup and get 10 times the exposure? One of the reasons GM is leaving the IRL is because of the way Honda spends its money. Honda reportedly subsidizes Michael Andretti's team and gave financial incentives to team owner Bobby Rahal and Adrian Fernandez to leave Champ Car. "Those things changed the way teams looked at manufacturers, and what they expect out of them," said Doug Duchardt, director of GM Racing. "Obviously, the costs have gone up while TV ratings and attendance were flat. It is what it is."
When asked to comment on the state of open-wheel racing in America, Duchardt paused and said: "I will leave it to you guys to do that." The IRL needs an American manufacturer, but the prospects are slim. Ford is selling its Jaguar team in Formula One. It also is selling Cosworth Engineering, which supplies engines for three F1 teams, Champ Car and Chevrolet in its final year in the IRL.
It would be a shock if DaimlerChrysler, which competes in all three NASCAR series, decided to spend the money to join the IRL. A lot rests on Toyota's decision. If Toyota goes to Nextel Cup, would Honda be far behind? Honda needs to compete against Toyota. Rumors abound that Honda already has built a prototype Cup car in preparation for joining Toyota in NASCAR's top series. Camry vs. Accord in Nextel Cup. Give it time. It could happen.
Scott Sharp to drive for Fernandez AutoRacing1.com is hearing from our IRL sources that Scott Sharp will take his Delphi backing to Fernandez Racing in 2005. We await a formal announcement before moving it up to 'fact.'
Chip Ganassi loses Cosworth bid We have it on good word that Chip Ganassi's bid for Cosworth has been rejected by Ford. In fact our sources tell us after he was rejected the first time, he increased his bid and was rejected again. Rumors persist that Kevin Kalkhoven (and possibly Gerald Forsythe as his partner) are in the catbirds seat. Mark C.
Van der Merwe to test for BAR The 24-year-old former F3000 racer and 2003 British F3 champion Alan Van der Merwe will be evaluated by the Brackley based team within weeks and could fill a post as test driver next year, either alongside Anthony Davidson or in his place, depending on the English youngster's movements. Davidson is reportedly one of the drivers in line for the second seat at Williams next year. According to a well-placed source Van der Merwe, who publicly unveiled the South African A1 Grand Prix car at Kyalami over the weekend, is in talks with a number of teams about a possible testing position next year, although the situation with BAR looks the most promising. Van der Merwe plans for 2005 also include a race drive in GP2, which replaces Formula 3000 next year, while he is on the verge of concluding a contract with South African A1 GP team owner Tokyo Sexwale to fill the driver's seat for the team when the first season gets underway in September. F1.Racing-Live
Questionable yellow? NASCAR's late yellow at Atlanta has provoked questions in the Cup garage about the inconsistency in NASCAR's reaction to such situations. The caution was put out for Kevin Harvick's stalled car on pit road. Jack Roush, car owner for Mark Martin, who lost the race in part because of that yellow, questioned the call. Now others in the Cup garage are also questioning the call, pointing to a similar situation earlier in that race where NASCAR officials let teams pit while Elliott Sadler's crew had his car up on jack stands on pit road for repairs. Winston Salem Journal
NBC now in play for Champ CarUPDATE #3 Our latest info on the TV deal is that SPEED Channel will be the domestic cable partner for both NBC and CBS for Champ Car in 2005. There is still an issue with the final race of the year if it is on SPEED. Apparently there is a NASCAR race SPEED does not want to go up against. Equally as important as the domestic TV deal, is the international TV deal, or should we say deals. ESPN International was in play for the entire contract, but the latest we hear is that in many countries individual deals are being hammered out, many of which will see Champ Car broadcast live. We suspect because of this, the international TV deal(s) will not be complete enough to announce at the same time the domestic TV deal is announced. Mark C.11/05/04 It seems like every time we get more info on the new TV package, the news is different, but this time for the better. We now hear that 3 races will be on CBS, 3 on NBC and the rest on USA Network (Cable). If true, that is 6 races on network TV which is the same as the CBS deal on the table. For those who doubt NBC and CBS can work, remember NASCAR has FOX and NBC and it works just fine. Mark C.11/04/04 A reader corrects us, Regarding your NBC article, CNBC has carried sporting events and motorsports. ALMS races were shown there for 1 or 2 years. I also believe that some Olympic coverage was shown there. That however, doesn't mean it would be a good deal for Champ Car. MSNBC might be better. But if NBC is serious about putting sports programming on CNBC, they may heavily promote it on NBC, which, if Champ Car and NBC form a "partnership", could be a good thing. We shall see. Mike Stucker, Sugar Land, Texas Dear Mike, Thanks for correcting our error. ALMS is not on CNBC anymore for a reason, the ratings were horrible. SPEED Channel ratings would not be stellar either, but at least they offer more reruns and other motorsports shows that Champ Car can wrap into. NBC is a major NASCAR partner so one has to wonder if Champ Car would get any attention at all. We saw CART get neglected on ABC because they were an IRL and Indy 500 partner. Rest assured that NASCAR will make sure NBC gives Champ Car as little attention as possible. CBS has no major affiliation with NASCAR or the IRL, both of whom would like nothing better than see Champ Car dead. They bring a lot of force to bear because of the major advertising buys they send the networks way. And, as we said, CBS historically gets higher TV ratings. CBS is #1 in ratings right now and have been for quite awhile, but then again, when did CART or Champ Car ever worry about being affiliated with #1? With that said, perhaps, like the Spike TV deal, there is some silver lining behind the NBC deal that we are not aware of. Mark C.11/04/04 Our sources are telling us that Rick Murphy of Betelgeuse is at NBC and CNBC trying to do a CHAMP CAR TV deal. Nothing against Mr. Murphy, he means well, but CNBC, which has no sports broadcasting history? While a CBS/SPEED Channel deal is ready for signatures, if NBC and CNBC get the deal, Champ Car will once again have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Not only does CBS traditionally get the highest TV ratings, at least SPEED Channel is a motorsports network that does an excellent job on all its broadcasts. That plus the fact that have programs like Wind Tunnel that give the drivers some air time....more air time goes to the race series SPEED Channel broadcasts. CNBC will be another SPIKE TV nightmare where race fans have no clue there is a race on. With NASCAR making SPEED Channel more popular, at least race fans of all forms of motorsports visit the channel often. Mark C.
IRL bound Carpentier signs with Cheever.UPDATE #13 Patrick Carpentier will almost certainly make the final Champ Car start of his career -- at least for the foreseeable future -- tomorrow from eighth spot on the grid. The French-Canadian confirmed today that he will be moving to the Indy Racing League in 2005, and although he did not specify the team by name, it is certain to be a Toyota-powered operation, most likely Team Cheever, which is poised to switch to Toyota engines for ’05. SPEED TV11/06/04 Here's the latest with Patrick Carpentier - He has not signed with anyone yet. He was going to sign with Cheever Racing but there was a clause in the contract he did not like. A meeting is set for Wednesday in Indy to hopefully resolve the dispute. He still has no offers from a Champ Car team even though he has beaten his teammates this year, so it appears the IRL is his only option right now (though his teammate Paul Tracy had the following to say in a Toronto Star article: "One thing Pat's [Surfers] crash may have done is make him think twice about signing with the IRL as he seems to be on the verge of doing — especially because he has a wife and young child. I talked with Pat for a while about all this on the flight home to Las Vegas. As I told him, if he is going to sign with IRL, he'd better get used to having crashes worse than the one he just had — at least a couple each year. I don't know a single driver in that series who hasn't had a major injury. Though it may not affect them much now while they're in their 20s or 30s, when they're in their 50s the injuries that required them to have rods or pins put in their legs or backs will have a major impact on their lives.") Mark C.10/18/04 This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today. According to this SPEED TV article, Patrick Carpentier's deal with Cheever has supposedly fallen through. Will he go to another Toyota or Honda team, or stay in Champ Car? 09/30/04 Patrick Carpentier denied reports yesterday that he has agreed to a contract with an Indy Racing League team, although he confirmed the chances are slim he will stay on the Champ Car circuit next year. Carpentier, 33, who drives for Forsythe Championship Racing, said he has spoken to four IndyCar Series teams -- Andretti Green Racing, Patrick Racing, Mo Nunn Racing and Red Bull Cheever Racing -- about jumping to the IRL's predominantly oval track series next year. "I haven't signed with anybody right now," Carpentier said. "We're talking to Cheever and Mo Nunn, and both are pretty serious. "It's looking good, but there are still a number of details to be worked out." Globe and Mail09/29/04 Sources say to look for Carpentier to drive a third car at Team Cheever, i.e. Team Cheever will expend to a three-car outfit in 2005.. 09/26/04 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Why would Patrick Carpentier ruin his career where he is winning poles and races in Champ Car to drive for a backmarker team like Cheever Racing who runs the Chevy engine? The only thing I can figure is that he, like Adrian Fernandez will get "the call" and win some races in the IRL to get some media coverage in Canada (similar to the coverage Fernandez got in Mexico after his wins) as the IRL tries to break into that market. There is no doubt the IRL is modeled after NASCAR where "the call" appears to be a common thing to boost "the show." I predict it now, out of the blue Eddie Cheever will all of a sudden win some IRL races with Patrick Carpentier at the wheel. Steven Lobe, Seattle Dear Steven, We don't know about your conspiracy theory, but it will be interesting to watch. We suspect it had more to do with putting food on the table. Forsythe Racing could not guarantee Carpentier a ride next year and we assume the Cheever deal guaranteed him a decent salary. He will also get more exposure in the IRL than Champ Car because they do manage to get their drivers on TV a lot more than Champ Car does, especially during the 1/2 month of May at Indy. Champ Car still doesn't get it. Their series will only gain a "true" fan following on the back of the drivers (the athletes). Putting on "big" events grows fans of the individual events, but it does not grow a fan base that will watch the Champ Car series week in and week out to grow the TV ratings like NASCAR has done. We spoke to one team owner in Vegas (who shall remain nameless) and that was one of his biggest complaints about the series, his drivers are largely invisible and the series needs to get them better exposure. Mark C.09/26/04 Multiple sources tell us that Carpentier has signed a deal with Cheever Racing's IRL team for 2005. Mark C.09/25/04 Robin Miller just reported on SPEED TV that Carpentier has signed with the IRL. He said it's a done deal. Did not release which team, but speculates Ganassi, or Penske. 09/23/04 This rumor is' near-fact today.' It appears as if Patrick Carpentier of Las Vegas will be leaving the Champ Car World Series for the rival Indy Racing League in 2005. Carpentier's contract with Forsythe Championship Racing expires at the end of this season and he said Tuesday that he has received no offers to drive in Champ Car next year. "Right now, the way it stands, I've got four teams that I've talked with and that are offering me something and I have none in (Champ Car)," Carpentier said. "They're all in the IRL." Carpentier said he is close to an agreement with one IRL team -- which he declined to name -- but said nothing is signed. "It's still not done so I want to keep all the options open," Carpentier said. "There are a couple of things we don't necessarily agree on ... but I'm sure we'll work it through." Las Vegas Sun09/22/04 In this interview published here on AutoRacing1.com today, Patrick Carpentier says, "For me to stay in Champ Car next year I have to find some sponsorship, but right now I have four different offers to drive in the IRL next year, so those are my options. But we'll see how it goes. I really enjoyed my weekend at Laguna Seca and I think the Champ Cars are great to drive, but I've never done the Indy 500 and I'd like to take a shot at it some day." [Editor's Note: Based on his comments, we don't expect to see Carpentier in Champ Car in 2005. We expect he will find a ride in the IRL and be replaced by one, if not two, young Canadian drivers who have the potential to be Champ Car's next Canadian stars - Michael Valiante and/or Andrew Ranger. Champ Car has to invest in their future for their Canadian races, and while the current crop of Canadian drivers are still winning races, long-term their youth is their future........or will Champ Car once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.] 09/03/04 This Las Vegas Sun article sheds a bit more light on this situation. Carpentier wants to be the No. 1 driver on a team. We are having a hard time figuring out which team he is talking to in the IRL that would bring him on as No. 1 as all the top teams appear set to keep their top driver. Would he drive for a backmarker team? 08/30/04 This Globe and Mail article says, Champ Car driver Patrick Carpentier said Monday he's leaning towards the rival Indy Racing League as he ponders his future in racing. The 33-year-old native of Joliette, Que., said he has started preliminary talks with his Forsythe team, but has "much more interesting offers" from the IRL. "I know that (teammate) Paul Tracy has already signed with Forsythe," Carpentier told Radio-Canada's all-news channel RDI. "We aren't at the same point at all in our discussions compared to where I am with the IRL." The veteran driver, who finished second at Sunday's Montreal Molson Indy, won't say which teams have offered him a contract. He expects to make a final decision in the next three weeks. Carpentier has said he won't accept racing in Tracy's shadow, and wants to sign with a team where he'll be the featured driver. His preference for the IRL was evident in the interview Monday, as he talked about his love for the oval circuits that are the staple of the series. Carpentier also made it clear he wants to compete at the IRL's showcase event - the legendary Indianapolis 500. Sunday's race may have marked the last opportunity for Carpentier's rabid fans to see their hero in action at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. But he said the decision on his future won't be dictated by nostalgia. "It won't be an emotional decision," said Carpentier, who's fifth in the standings just behind fellow Canadians Alex Tagliani and Tracy. [Editor's Note: Our sources told us weeks ago that Carpentier already had a deal done with Target Ganassi Racing to replace Darren Manning, but we never published it because Carpentier denied it when we asked him. We shall see, but based on his comments here, it appears he's a goner one way or the other so we are bumping this rumor up to 'strong.'] 08/27/04 This Globe and Mail article has more quotes from Patrick Carpentier on his future plans. 08/26/04 This weekend's Montreal Champ Car race may be the last time Patrick Carpentier gets to race in Canada. There have been rumors that he is off to the IRL and he does not deny that he has a number of offers there. In this Canadian Press article he hints at his departure, "I don't know if I'll be back next year. It's kind of a special weekend." Meanwhile, rumors are starting that young Canadian sensation Andrew Ranger, currently racing in the Toyota Atlantic Series, might move up to Champ Car next year and fill Carpentier's shoes
Is Sebring in play?UPDATE We are downgrading this rumor to 'false' today. We spoke to Champ Car President Dick Eidswick who said there was a conversation about Sebring a few weeks ago but he did not expect there to be a Champ Car race at Sebring. 11/06/04 We heard some wild speculation today that Champ Car might be considering a race at Sebring the day after the 12 Hours of Sebring, which ends at 10:00 PM on Saturday night. The advantage of holding a race that Sunday, March 20th, following the 12 Hour race is the fact that 130,000 fans are already gathered, many of them arriving days before and camping out. A lot of the crowd is composed of college students on Spring Break. The 12 Hours of Sebring truly is a “happening,” a party, and an American classic, but would ALMS let Champ Car in on their biggest event?
Champ Car to announce new merchandising deal We have it on good word that Champ Car has negotiated a big merchandising deal for next year that will see a lot more Champ Car merchandise available for fans. We expect an announcement in a number of weeks.
Forsythe eyes Valiante - MaybeUPDATE We spoke with Forsythe and learned that the meeting this morning was a get together for all the Canadian drivers, the team and Ford. It was not to talk about a ride next year. "We have to find sponsorship," said Forsythe. "Michael is a good kid and hopefully something will come together for him." So far he's turning heads. 11/06/04 Rumor has it that Forsythe Racing is talking to Canadian Michael Valiante about a possible ride for 2005. Valiante was spotted in secret talks Saturday morning in Mexico City over breakfast by AutoRacing1.com with team owner Gerald Forsythe, Neil Micklewright, Peter Davies (all from Forsythe Racing) as well as Champ Car President Dick Eidswick and a representative from Ford. It is quite possible we will see Valiante replace fellow Canadian Patrick Carpentier who may be IRL bound, though he and Paul Tracy were both at this morning's meeting. Recall our previous rumor that Forsythe said he would run up to 4 cars if the sponsorship was found. As we have told our readers, Valiante is a possible star in the making and was already faster than his more experienced Walker Racing teammate Mario Haberfeld in Friday provisional qualifying in Mexico City. Mark C.
New Champ Car track info AutoRacing1.com had a sneak peek at the preliminary design of the Ansan, South Korea purpose built track in a park down by the waterfront. The track, designed by D3 Motorsports, resembles Long Beach in many ways, especially the main straight, but runs counterclockwise instead. The track is as much as 60 feet wide, and a minimum of 40 feet wide. The track is reported to be 2.4 miles long. The Metro stop is 4 blocks away to take fans to and from the airport and downtown Seoul. The Rio track in Brazil is also designed. The race will be downtown if it happens in Rio. The other option of course is Interlagos, which we have talked about previously, that Emerson Fittipaldi is trying to make happen. We spoke to Emmo, who is here in Mexico, and he is hopeful that the Interlagos race could happen, but scheduling is the issue now. He is meeting with Kevin Kalkhoven tonight over dinner. Mark C.
Hakkinen hints at DTM moveUPDATE #4 This rumor is upgraded from 'false' all the way to 'fact' today. Mika Hakkinen has signed to race in Germany's DTM Touring Car Championship. He recently showed interest in returning to racing and tested a Mercedes DTM car. A successful test, during which he proved he still has the knack, earned him a full-time return to the cockpit next season. Hakkinen, who first raced in the DTM for Mercedes in a one-off drive in 2001, said: "After the end of my Formula One career in 2001 I soon realized that I'm not ready to retire for good. It was just the right moment that Mercedes offered me to test a DTM car. I saw immediately that I still enjoy racing very much and during the test three weeks ago, my lap times were at the same level as those of the touring car specialists. I know of course that I first have to get used to a DTM car to be able to fight with the front-runners. I look forward to an interesting season with exciting battles - against my former Formula One colleagues as well as the young DTM drivers - and to see again my fans." 10/29/04 This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' According to Mercedes' Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug, Mika Häkkinen will not return to racing in DTM. Haug denied the Fin has a contract with Mercedes to race in DTM next season. "Mika has tested the DTM car earlier this month, but that's the only thing he did," Haug said. Earlier this week German magazine 'Bild' confirmed Häkkinen would be racing in DTM in the upcoming season for Mercedes. According to the German magazine Häkkinen won't be paid a salary of two million euro per season. 10/28/04 We are hearing that Mercedes will pay Hakkinen $2 million euros per year to drive for their DTM team. 10/27/04 The German CNN partner is reporting that Hakkinen has agreed to drive for Mercedes in the DTM series. The papers are not all signed but both sides have agreed in principle. 08/09/04 Former F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen could replace Jenson Button at BAR, who is off to Williams. Finland's national broadcaster YLE quoted Hakkinen as saying: "There is no smoke without fire. "At this moment I don't want to comment more on the issue, especially as discussions around BAR are so hot."
Ricardo Sperafico eyes Champ Car We caught up with 25-year Ricardo Sperafico (pictured right) eyeing up the action in the Champ Car paddock. Ricardo is the fastest Sperafico, having won 4 pole positions and 3 races on his way to 2nd place behind Bjorn Wirdheim in the FIA 2003 F3000 championship with Coloni even though the equipment broke down often. Before that he won the Italian F3000 championship in 2000. The guy is fast, but can he land a ride in Champ Car? "I have talked to a few team owners," said Ricardo, but I don't have a test lined up yet. I am hoping that Champ Car lands a race in Brazil because that will help me get sponsorship. I did not race much this past year but I hope to land a Champ Car test in the off-season."
Toyota to follow Chevy and quit the IRLUPDATE #2 Adding perhaps a bit more to this rumor, this SPEED TV article says, Chevrolet's announced departure from the IRL Indy Car series after this season created a buzz around the NASCAR garages at Phoenix Friday, with many wondering what could result for Chevrolet, and hence Toyota, in the respective series. Arising in reference to the Chevrolet reports were compounding reports that Toyota could withdraw from the IRL as well after 2006, perhaps as a prelude to involvement in NASCAR's primary series, Nextel Cup, by 2007. And on top of all were reports that Kevin Kalkhoven, one of the leaders of the Champ Car group -- bitter rivals to Tony George's IRL, could be in line to purchase Cosworth, which has manufactured the Chevy-badged Indy engines for the past 16 months or so. That could indeed tilt the balance back in favor of Champ Car -- much at the expense of the IRL -- and put Toyota in a dictating position with the IRL. The ramifications are well beyond what I should be discussing, as I am not up enough on the full scope in open-wheel. However, Toyota racing chief Lee White, on hand for the Craftsman Truck race at Phoenix this weekend, indicated Toyota could not express commitment to the IRL beyond 2006, until it knows what the engine rules will be. We're committed for next year and the year after," White said Friday. "Beyond that, we don't know what the [IRL] rules are, so I can't really comment. I don't know what their plans are for the future. We don't know what the rules are, so I can't really comment. "We're concerned about cost, cost vs. return, and the business model is not what was lined up for us three years ago. I'm not going to sit here and tell you there is not concern. "Hopefully we'll be able to have discussions with them to address that. We're certainly open, and we've told them we're open, to do anything to sit down and try to help create a condition more of what we signed up for in cost vs. return." 11/05/04 A reader adds, I saw the rumor of Toyota leaving the IRL. I'm wondering if Toyota told this to Roger Penske earlier this summer provoking his attempt to unify the series with Champ Car. When I read this, it made me go "hmmmmmm." Did Roger see the writing on the wall before anyone else could see the wall? Chris Hibner Dear Chris, Everyone is saying that when Toyota starts in Nextel Cup in 2007, they will be gone from the IRL. They will put all their resources into NASCAR and Grand-Am, both owned by the France family. Tony George split the sport and caused its downfall, now we shall see what his Plan B is. Mark C.11/05/04 Toyota is expected “to follow on the heels of GM and quit the IRL” after the ’06 season, according to Mike Brudenell of the Detroit Free Press. The “cost of competing in the series and flat television ratings are thought” to be behind Toyota’s potential move. Toyota “likely will spend its money on a NASCAR Nextel Cup program as early as 2007. If Toyota does leave the series, Honda would be “responsible for providing engines to all IRL teams,” but the “drain on resources might be too much” for Honda Detroit Free Press 11/5
Another new race in works D3 Motorsports has put together another race for Champ Car for 2005. However, meetings are being held this weekend to determine if that race will be added to the calendar in 2005 or 2006. Rumor has it that it is a USA venue and it, and Buenos Aires, could slot in between Long Beach and Monterrey, Mexico.
Heidfeld to become Williams test driver Nick Heidfeld may settle for becoming Williams BMW's test driver for the 2005 season. ''I would like to work (with Williams) next year. If the only option is as test driver, then that would also be okay.'' Heidfeld's manager, Werner Heinz, has stated that the priority is to organize a test session in 'late November. ''He has a chance at Williams,'' Heinz stated to German newspaper Die Welt.
Champ Car beefing up sales force We have it on good word that Champ Car is beefing up their internal sales force with the goal of bringing more sponsorship in for Champ Car itself as well as helping teams land new sponsorship deals. As we understand it they have already made some hires and are not done yet.
Champ Car eyes tire company Rumor has it that Champ Car is definitely talking to other tire manufacturers with an eye toward bringing a little competition to Bridgestone, which would mix the field up a bit and create a bit more passing. The downside of course is that a tire war brings marbles and higher speeds.
IRL to fill VP of Sales and Marketing position The IRL has had an opening for its vice president of sales since Mike Bucek left for the Phoenix Coyotes a couple months ago and the IRL marketing department is still searching for a title sponsor so look for a major change in the near future. Phil Lengyel, the vice president of Alliance Development for Walt Disney Attractions, is in line to take over the IRL's sales and marketing departments. SPEEDTV.com
Swedish ace eyes Champ CarUPDATE #4 2003 F3000 Champion took part in Friday testing for the Jaguar Racing squad this year and remains under contract to the team until the end of the season. With the team on the market, Wirdheim is waiting to see if the team will compete in 2005 under a new name and management. “We’re looking at different alternatives and what feels most important for me at this moment in time is to race next year," the Swede told Jaguar Racing. "First of all though I’m going to wait and see what happens with Jaguar and then after that, when I know if there’s an opportunity, I’ll look into what other series there are and make a decision." Should Wirdheim be unable to compete in Formula One next season, then a seat in the Champ Car World Series becomes the focus. Jaguar Racing11/02/04 Wirdheim is rumored to be testing for PKV on November 14-15, 2004. We suspect we will hear that he will be joining the team by then, or soon thereafter. 10/28/04 According to this Swedish website article, Bjorn has a two-year deal to drive in Champ Car, supposedly with PKV Racing. His father is quoted in the article that he feels there are no good seats left in F1 and it's better to do Champ Car. If he wins in Champ Car perhaps something will open up for him in F1 in three years. 10/26/04 It appears this rumor is close to going to 'fact.' Swedish radio just reported that Bjorn Wirdheim is set for Champ Car next year. A team was not announced but he has a test set with PKV in mid-November and we hear Jim McGee thinks a lot of him. McGee is rumored to be the new team manager for PKV next year. If you recall, Wirdheim dominated F3000 two years ago. The kid is top-shelf material. We have updated our 2005 Champ Car Silly Season page above. 09/26/04 Our sources close to Swedish ex-F3000 champion Björn Wirdheim are saying that Tony Purnell is negotiating with Red Bull to buy Jaguar. That means that if they can agree, Björns chances of a race position in F1 are microscopic at best. Tony Purnell has a "keen eye" on Anthony Davidson and Red Bull is pushing for Vitantonio Liuzzi. Björn could possible continue as test driver, but we don't believe he will buy that. PKV´s owner Kevin Kalkhoven will possibly buy Cosworth from Ford to secure engines for Champ Car. According to these sources, Kalkhoven wants to team Björn together with Jimmy Vasser or some other driver, that other driver is currently Roberto Gonzalez. We hear that the Wirdheims think F1 is big, but not everything. Mark C.
SPEED Channel to launch new NASCAR show Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal reports that Speed Channel is planning to launch an hour long show called "NASCAR Nation" to run Monday through Thursday nights next year. The story goes on to say that Fox Sports' "Totally NASCAR" [FSN 7:30pm/local] will be discontinued. Speed Channel is expected to spend as much as $10 million on production over 40 weeks on the show. NASCAR Scene
Chevy to drop IRL programUPDATE #6 This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact.' See feature story on Home Page. Although a GM official says they have no plans to enter any other open wheel series, let's be clear that he means right now they have no plans to enter Champ Car. Can those plans change? Absolutely. 11/03/04 This rumor is now 'strong' and about to go to 'fact.' Officials at IRL teams using the Chevy engine said they had been told that the program would be dropped after ’05, and that the program’s emphasis next season will be on Pennzoil Panther Racing. This is a major setback for the IRL, who officially becomes "the Japanese Racing League" with Honda and Toyota powering their Indy Cars and Infiniti their IPS cars. We’ll have further details of GM’s decision following the announcement at 4 p.m. ET.11/03/04 We hear the GM brass is still locked behind closed doors with Tony George. One can conclude Tony is doing everything in his power to convince them to stay. We wonder what concessions he might make. 11/03/04 Rumor has it that Chevy will make an announcement of some sort at 1:00 PM today and speculation is that they will say whether they have decided to stay in the IRL beyond 2005 or withdraw. A key may lie here - General Motors Corp. posted flat third-quarter earnings Thursday that fell well short of Wall Street forecast and cut its earnings outlook for all of 2004 -- news that sent its stock tumbling. The automaker, which earlier Thursday set plans to cut up to 12,000 jobs in Europe to stem losses there, said it now expects full-year earnings of $6 to $6.50 a share, excluding special items, down from its earlier guidance of about $7 a share. Analysts were at $7.05 a share for the full year, on average. GM (down $2.05 to $39.25, Research) stock, one of 30 in the Dow Jones industrial average, sank about 5 percent at midday. CEO Rick Wagoner called the results disappointing, and cited intense competition and price-cutting in most of the company's markets. "We've got to move more quickly in addressing these challenging, chronic structural-cost issues," Wagoner said in a statement. The company's core automotive operations lost $130 million in the third quarter, a big swing from profits of $34 million a year earlier. Losses in the auto business were led by North American auto operations, the company's biggest unit, which lost $22 million versus profits of $128 million a year earlier. It marked the first time in nine years that GM lost money in its North American auto operations, excluding special items or strikes. Stay tuned.... 11/02/04 Various sources, including Robin Miller on Wind Tunnel, have reported that Cheever Racing is talking to Toyota about running their engines in 2005, and the new team, Playa Del Racing is also said to be eyeing Toyota. That leaves Panther Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold with Chevy and there have been reports that they are talking to Honda and Toyota too. It remains to be seen whether Chevy stays in the IRL in 2005. A board decision to due Wednesday or Thursday regarding 2006. Whether they will pull the plug on 2005 as well may be irrelevant if they have no teams. 10/30/04 According to this week's AutoWeek magazine, a decision on whether Chevy will stay in the IRL could be made by upper management as early as November, and there is apparently reason for concern. "When you see what the economy has done, and you see what General Motors' financial numbers were last year quarter, of course I am concerned, " said program manager Joe Negri. We will leave this rumor as speculation for now, but we suspect it's about ready to move to 'strong.' Mark C.10/27/04 We are hearing rumors that Chevy has decided to dump the IRL. Apparently they have not re-upped for 2006 like Honda and Toyota have and with no teams wanting their engines in 2005, they may be gone effective the end of the 2004 season. If they get a couple of IRL teams perhaps they will stay, but it isn't looking good at this time. Robin Miller writes on SPEED TV.com - "By the way, Cheever is looking to switch to Toyota because he's heard the same thing as IRL vice president Brian Barnhart -- that Chevy may not even be back for 2005, let alone 2006."
Adding fuel to this fire are new rumors that Chevy has an opportunity to co-badge the Cosworth Champ Car engine with Ford and make Champ Car a Ford vs. Chevy series with equal engines and using Champ Car as a marketing vehicle rather than a costly R&D vehicle. With Champ Car owner Kevin Kalkhoven buying Cosworth, and with Chevy already having a relationship with Cosworth, it's easy to see Kalkhoven making Chevy a sweet deal to put their name on 50% of the Champ Car engines for a too-good-to-be-true price. Rather than beating their heads against a wall in the IRL vs. Honda and Toyota, both of whom have a bottomless pit of money, they can come into Champ Car and be competitive on day one and know their chances of winning are equal.
Customers of AutoRacing1.com know that we have been beating this badging drum as the best model for two years now. As we have maintained for a very long time, there is a lot more to a passenger car than just the engine. The car companies can engage other factions within their organization to help their teams win races, but having all the engines identical with just different names on the cam covers is a receipt for success. It's the best value for a manufacturers money and allows them to compete on equal terms. NASCAR did it with body templates and the sport got even bigger. Nobody blinked an eyelash. Champ Car can do it with the engines and as long as the manufacturers do their marketing and advertising right, the badging concept will succeed. For Champ Car and the manufacturers, it's better if the manufacturers plow money into marketing and advertising than R&D.
Coulthard eyes 3rd Williams in 2005 David Coulthard has set his sights on the vacant BMW-Williams seat alongside Mark Webber after his nine year run at McLaren came to an end this month. "It isn't a financially-charged decision," he tells the BBC. "I quite simply want the opportunity to show what I can do at a team outside the nine years I had at McLaren. I believe I can deliver. You've got to be mentally and physically well prepared and that's very difficult to do in a position where you know you're not wanted. Do I still have the speed? The data would suggest 'yes'. Do I still have the desire? I can absolutely say I do."
Honda touts pickup, is NASCAR far behind? This Detroit Free Press article talks about Honda's first-ever pickup truck to be sold in the USA. Everyone expects Honda to follow Toyota into NASCAR by 2 or 3 years. This is the first step, and although it's a 4-door pickup, that never stopped NASCAR from allowing it to be chopped and resized to fit their body templates. Mark C.
Superfund eyes Pau street race Formula Superfund has targeted a race at France’s historic Pau street circuit as it attempts to establish its credentials for its inaugural season. Following the announcement this week that the Formula 3 Euroseries will support Formula 1 at the Monaco Grand Prix next year, and with the F3 series also looking likely to follow the DTM to the new Avignon street race, speculation has increased that the Pau Grand Prix round of the Euroseries will be dropped. A spokesman for the Euroseries said discussions regarding the 2005 schedule were ongoing and the ASAC Basco Béarnais organization, which runs the Pau event, claimed that the Euroseries would continue to race at the venue next year.
But if the Euroseries decides that Pau represents one street race too many, Formula Superfund is ideally placed to step in. Series boss Martin Schneider has stated his desire for the championship to race on street circuits and the provisional calendar, unveiled at the public launch of the car at the Nürburgring last week, has a round at an unconfirmed French venue on May 15. “Pau would be fantastic for us,” said Schneider. “But it all depends on the organizers.” Schneider said he had been surprised by the interest shown in the new series. He said three teams are close to committing, including one that has previously competed in F1. Current Euro 3000 outfit Team JVA confirmed its participation. Team boss John Village said: “We looked at GP2, but I don’t want to work in an F1environment. Anyway, I think the Superfund car is better.” The Superfund racer is built by Force 10 and uses a Judd V10 engine that has its roots in the Yamaha F1 unit. Formula 3 Euroseries stars Alexandre Prémat and Bruno Spengler tested the car at Nürburgring and were impressed. Autosport Magazine
Rumors of Russian GP intensify [Editor's Note: Here is yet another example of world demand for F1 that Bernie can't satisfy. Will Champ Car position itself to fill this void with a derivative of the new F1-like Superfund Force 10 car in 2006? Time will tell.] Speculation over a future Russian Grand Prix has intensified with word of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone dealing directly with President Putin. The closest mooted site to Moscow is a track near Dmitrov, situated to the north of the capital city. Autosport Magazine
Romania eyes F1 race [Editor's Note: Here is yet another example of world demand for F1 that Bernie can't satisfy. Will Champ Car position itself to fill this void with a derivative of the new F1-like Superfund Force 10 car in 2006? Time will tell.] Autosport magazine reports a proposed venue for the new Romanian Grand Prix circuit. A site has been agreed at Arad in north-west Romania, approximately 350 miles from the capital Bucharest and a similar distance from the Austrian capital Vienna. British architectural company HOK, which designed the new Arsenal football stadium and Wimbledon’s Centre Court, is working on the plans. The proposal has been in existence for two years and is seen by the Romanian government as a key means of introducing economic vitality into the area. The government plans to invest $100 million (£54m) into the project. Circuit designer Clive Bowen, who created the new, widely-praised Dubai Autodrome, is overseeing the Arad project.
“The location is perfect for building an outstanding naturally contoured track,” said Bowen. “There’s no reason why we can’t have a circuit with as much character as Spa, but that is fully FIA-compliant in terms of safety standards.” Bowen said there were still “two or three” meetings to be held before a track layout could be finalized, but added he was confident the project would progress. “There is much more to the proposal than just a racing circuit,” he said. “The government wants to build industrial and retail sites around the track, which will help to make the scheme self-financing.”
Toyota and Honda may switch to Japanese tiresUPDATE #2 With Sauber’s announcement yesterday they will switch to Michelin tires, Bridgestone is down to just three teams - Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi. Rumors are now that it's almost definite the Toyota team will switch to Bridgestone, a fellow Japanese company. Expect an announcement soon. 10/15/04 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' for Toyota as we hear more inside info that they will switch to Bridgestone in 2005. No further word on the BAR Honda team yet. 10/13/04 "We do know that our competitor are putting pressure on both Japanese manufacturers – Honda and Toyota – to switch," Michelin chief Pierre Dupasquier told F1-Racing. Sauber is rumored to be moving to Michelin from Bridgestone.
Arden to start F1 teamUPDATE #2 We have it on good word that Ford has rejected Horner's bid for the Jaguar F1 team. 09/17/04 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. There have been rumors in recent days about Arden Motorsport taking over Jordan Grand Prix. This does not seem very likely to happen because Arden boss Christian Horner admits that he does not have the money that is needed to go to Formula 1 in 2005 and because of the rule instability at the moment is now concluding that it is best for him to stay in the junior formulae. It is understood that Horner has signed up to be one of the teams in the new GP2 series, despite the fact that he and many others think that the new series is overpriced. Grandprix.com08/17/04 Christan Horner is making noises about starting an F1 team and has made inquiries to the Jaguar team which is rumored to be possibly selling.
Glock eyes new teams Jordan test driver Timo Glock is hoping to join one of Formula 1's new teams for testing next year. Two new teams have already come forward to declare their intentions to enter F1 in 2006 – the Russian-backed Midland F1 and a team from Dubai. Both outfits are likely to start testing at some point next year. Glock's manager, Hans-Bernd Kamps, said: “The new F1 teams of Midland and Dubai are very tempting. If Timo sticks around at Jordan he will only learn better to drive a nervous car. What is luring however is the fact that there are no test restrictions for new F1 teams. So Timo could test day and night, he could understand better how a grand prix car operates. I am sure that would serve him better. Also from the commercial point of view, new teams would offer more opportunities.”
Red Bull and Jaguar (GMM -- Nov.2) Energy drink Red Bull is now unlikely to buy Jaguar, the brand's motor sport advisor said last week. Austrian Helmut Marko, who raced in nine grands prix in the Seventies before a stone damaged his eye, told Autosport that 'time is running out' for a deal with the Ford Motor Company. He added: ''The problem is that (the Ford) people who are deciding the future ... have no clue about F1.'' 350 staff will lose their jobs if a buyer is not found for the Milton-Keynes based Formula One team before mid-November. [Editor's Note: Don't believe what Red Bull says, it's all bull.]
Quintarelli and Minardi (GMM -- Nov.2) Ronnie Quintarelli and Tiago Monteiro have emerged as front runners to snatch a Minardi seat in Formula One next season. 24-year-old Quintarelli, an Italian, is champion of the Japanese F3 category, and will get his first taste of grand prix power at the huge Minardi test at Misano (Italy) later in November. At the five day test, to commence 22 November, around ten drivers - also including Frenchman Olivier Maximin and Polish driver Robert Kubica - will share two PS04 Minardi challengers.
Ford 'might have stayed' (GMM -- Nov.2) US carmaker Ford and team Jaguar might have stayed in Formula One if Max Mosley's regulations had been enforced a couple of seasons earlier. That is the FIA president's latest claim. He said the restrictive aerodynamic, tire and engine package for 2005 is also designed, foremost, to 'reduce the performance' of the presently too-fast grand prix challenger. Mosley also denied that other disgruntled manufacturers, such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Honda, may quit F1 because of the introduction of a V8 formula in 2006. ''The danger of losing manufacturers because they are not getting enough in relation to the expenditure (is greater),'' he said.
Zsolt and Minardi to split (GMM -- Nov.2) Zsolt Baumgartner is unlikely to retain the same pay-drive budget in 2005, the Hungarian Formula One driver admitted. But the 23-year-old's manager, Tamas Frank, was quoted on a Hungarian-language internet website as saying Minardi owner Paul Stoddart may let Baumgartner keep driving next year anyway. Zsolt said: ''If I won't have the opportunity (to stay at Minardi), I would be glad to be a test driver for a renowned team.'' At a press conference in Budapest, Baumgartner also revealed that Minardi or Jordan - for whom he debuted in the capital city last season - were the realistic targets for a continuing race stint.
Bliss or Gaughan to replace Ward Bliss and rookie Brendan Gaughan [would he go to a team not running a Dodge?] are being considered for the Haas CNC Racing #0 Chevrolet in 2005. Team owner Gene Haas says he wants to see how current driver Ward Burton performs with crew chief Bootie Barker before he makes a final decision. "We've given Ward three different crew chiefs; now it's up to him," Haas says. And put Mike Bliss' name back on the list for the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Busch team. Although it had been reported earlier in the year that Bliss, 39, and JGR would part ways at the end of the 2004 season, he says he could return. "I think they have an 'A' plan, and if that falls apart, I'm the 'B' plan," says Bliss. FoxSports/Sporting News
Wallace to be fined NASCAR officials confirmed Sunday they plan to penalize Nextel Cup driver #2-Rusty Wallace for an incident following last Sunday’s race at Martinsville. Wallace is expected to receive a monetary penalty as early as Monday, sources said. Fines for similar incidents in the past have ranged from $5,000 to $10,000. Penske Racing South teammates Ryan Newman and Wallace traded bumps while battling for second place, which sent Wallace to the outside lane, on Lap 494 of 500 of last Sunday’s Subway 500. After the "cool down" lap, Newman, who finished third, drove onto pit road where the top-five cars are required to stop. Wallace followed Newman down and appeared to hit the rear of Newman's #12 Altell Dodge. ThatsRacin.com
Force 10 next Champ Car supplier According to this Grandprix.com article, Perhaps the most interesting point about the launch of the Superfund SF01 car is the emergence of Force 10 Technology Ltd, a company set up in 2000 by John Travis, a former Lola and Penske IndyCar/Champ Car designer, and Paul Cherry, who used to run Tom Wieringa's Sigma Automotive CART team before it went out of business in 2002. There is speculation that Force 10 Technology is the likely supplier of a new Champ Car chassis in 2006 when the current Lola package will be replaced. Kevin Kalkhoven is rumored to be close to buying Cosworth Racing from Ford to ensure the series has engines in the future and the SF01 would be a good basis from which to design a new Champ Car. [Editor's Note: From what we know, no decision has yet been made on who will be suppliers of the next generation Champ Car. However, as we stated in this article, the Force 10 car is the perfect platform on which to base the new Champ Car. We would like to see both Lola and Force 10 build this car to very tight design specifications and price caps so Champ Car has a bit of competition on the chassis front, but no runaway cost increases. Two suppliers is plenty. As for the engine, we are sure Cosworth can rework one of their old V10's to run on ethanol and get the kind of HP and mileage the Superfund Judd engine does. The Judd is a revamped version of their V10 3.5-litre engine which was designed in 1991 but has been increased to 4-liters and produces 700 hp on ethanol. It would be nice to see competition between Cosworth and Judd in Champ Car, each badged with a different engine manufacturer, if costs can be kept in check. Or select one engine and open it up to multiple badging.]
Rossi tipped as possible future F1 driverUPDATE We are downgrading this rumor to 'false.' Talking to the BBC, before wrapping up the MotoGP season by winning at Valencia, Valentino Rossi said that a switch to F1 is not in the cards just yet. "I don't know about my future," he admitted. "For sure I have one more year on my contract with Yamaha, and that won't be my last in bikes. Then I will decide what to do." 10/17/04 Valentino Rossi has been tipped as a possible future talent in the Formula One by Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello. The MotoGP champion created a stir during a secret Ferrari test earlier this year and Barrichello believes he could switch from two wheels to four. "I would have no problems - I'm a big fan," the Brazilian said on Friday. "If he can do in a car what he does on a bike it would be fantastic. He would beat all of us." The Italian press has speculated that Rossi could have a chance if champions Ferrari have to run three cars next year to make up the numbers on a depleted starting grid. Ferrari boss Jean Todt was recently quoted as saying: "If Rossi wants to race in Formula One, it is entirely up to him." And even seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher praised Rossi as a "natural" after the Italian drove the Ferrari at the team's Fiorano test track in April. Barrichello, however, did have some reservations saying: "I was there the day Valentino (tested) the car and he ran very well," he said. "Obviously, for him to race I think he will need more than just the month of December to test. He will need a lot of testing to be able to get reasonable times out of the car." ESPNStar.com
We reveal Edmonton trackUPDATE Here is a newspaper clipping (pictured left) showing the track layout, which confirms our previous report. This rumor is now 'fact.'
10/29/04 Our moles uncovered this track diagram that supposedly represents the 1.96 mile Champ Car airport circuit in Edmonton. The official track layout has not been released so it will be interesting to see how close this one is to the final version. For now it's just a rumor.
The photo to the left shows how close the airport is to downtown Edmonton.
Renault will not hesitate to leave With the threat of the GPWC becoming more and more real, Renault Formula One president Patrick Faure has admitted that the French engine supplier will not hesitate leaving Formula One to join the rival series for the 2008 championship season unless Bernie Ecclestone agrees to change the way the commercial revenue is distributed.
“We have not reached an agreement with Bernie Ecclestone, and we are absolutely not ready to accept that there is not a better redistribution among the teams of the money generated by F1," Faure told Eurosport. "We announced on Tuesday that we are working with ISE, a large affiliate of Dentsu and Publicis, to create a world championship that will take the place of Formula One from 2008, when the Concorde Accord expires."
As Faure explained, the main problem is the ‘Bernie system’ where the FOM chief keeps an unacceptable 75 or 80% of profits from the pinnacle of Motorsports and that the teams, who do all the work and create the spectacle, receive just 20 or 25%. "I don't know any other sport that has that kind of statistic," he said.
No Morgan McClure team in '05 Jimmy Spencer's temper has cost him his job with car owner Larry McClure, and McClure's problems couldn't come at a worse moment, just as he's trying to land a sponsor for 2005. McClure has put Mike Wallace in his car for today's Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500, but beyond that McClure said everything is up in the air. "If we get a sponsor, we'll be racing next year. If we don't get a sponsor ... I don't see how anyone can run without a sponsor," McClure said. Winston Salem Journal
AOL leaving NASCAR?UPDATE #4 Richard Childress said he would field three cars for the fourth consecutive season. An announcement on the third car's sponsor and driver could come at the season finale in Homestead, Fla. AOL isn't expected to remain with the team. Richmond Times Dispatch10/21/04 We are upgrading this rumor to 'strong' and apparently it is close to going to 'fact.' According to NASCAR site jayski.com, AOL will NOT be back with the #30 Richard Childress Racing (RCR) Chevy in 2004 and is leaving the sport, supposedly AOL does not see NASCAR as a viable tool in their marketing/business plan. This of course further fuels the rumors that AOL has done a deal with Champ Car. 09/20/04 Richard Childress is negotiating with AOL, sponsor of his No. 30 car, but said at New Hampshire he has a backup plan if that sponsorship falls through. 09/18/04 Car owner Richard Childress is expected to sign a sponsorship renewal with AOL, according to sources. Winston Salem Journal09/11/04 We have no idea whether this is related to the Champ Car sponsor rumors or not, but this Motorsports.com article says, Garage insiders indicate that America Online may want to scale back their involvement in the sport next season. Currently, they sponsor the No. 30 Chevy of Jeff Burton.
Tire shortage at Atlanta Teams were grumbling yesterday about Goodyear's tire shortage at Atlanta Motor Speedway, something they say they expected, with the end of the season looming and Goodyear switching to a different Atlanta tire next season. Crews had the Goodyear compound surrounded yesterday afternoon, begging for more tires and trying to make deals with rivals for tires. And the situation was becoming increasingly angry. Some team tire men said things will get better as the weekend goes on, with tire wear improving during the race. Neither NASCAR nor Goodyear had any plans to ration tires. Teams are free to buy and sell tires at will after they've gotten their allotment from Goodyear, so multi-car teams, such as the Rick Hendrick and Jack Roush operations, should be in much better shape than smaller operations. Winston Salem Journal
Kalkhoven beats Tony George again, buys CosworthUPDATE #2 Is AutoWeek totally out of touch, is Kalkhoven just not being straight with them, or is Autosport and AutoRacing1.com (and others) wrong? Whereas we are all reporting that Kalkhoven is buying Cosworth, this week's AutoWeek reports - that Kalkhoven denies rumors he is trying to buy all or part of Cosworth Engineering or Cosworth Race engines from Ford. The story in AutoWeek goes on to say Kalkhoven and Dick Eidswick have had discussions with Cosworth simply to assess the status of Champ Car's contract with the company, according to Kalkhoven. "I think these rumors got started because we've been in England for meetings with Cosworth," Kalkhoven said, "simply trying to determine what a sale means to our relationship with Cosworth and our continued supply of engines. We're satisfied that whoever buys the company, our relationship will continue without interruption." We shall see..... 10/27/04 This rumor is close to becoming 'fact' after we broke the story yesterday. What is key here is that it appears Kalkhoven did indeed buy both the UK and USA operations of Cosworth, i.e. the whole company. This week's Autosport Magazine reports, Champ Car series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven has agreed to buy Cosworth Racing in a deal that will allow it to continue as a Formula 1 engine supplier, Autosport has learned. The sale is due to be announced shortly and should secure the future of all Cosworth’s racing projects. The news will be welcomed by F1 minnow Minardi, which is facing next season without a competitive engine supply in the wake of the decision last month by Cosworth parent company Ford to cease F1 activities and put Cosworth and Jaguar Racing up for sale. The newly-confirmed engine regulations for 2005-07 will allow Cosworth to continue to build 3.0-litre V10 engines. Under the new regulations, next season’s engines will have to be capable of lasting two races, while in 2006 and ’07 they will only be permitted if they are rev-limited to be less powerful than the new 2.4-litre V8s.
A source said: “Buying an engine company is a lot less complicated than buying a racing team, which is a liability. A company like Cosworth has a more valid reason for being in business.” Kalkhoven is said to be keen for Cosworth to continue its activities in other areas of motorsport. Senior sources at Cosworth sister company Jaguar Racing have also indicated an announcement about the team’s future is imminent. Bids for the team were closed just before the Brazilian Grand Prix and the management group, led by CEO Tony Purnell, remains hopeful that an agreement will be reached with one of two serious buyers – although concerns remain that Ford has lost the will to sell the team on. One potential buyer, energy drinks manufacturer Red Bull, indicated time was running out for any deal to be reached.
10/26/04 In an AutoRacing1.com exclusive, our IRL moles tell us that the Ford Board of Directors has agreed in principle to sell Cosworth to Kevin Kalkhoven despite a bid by Tony George that was worth multiple times more money than Kalkhoven's bid. What is not clear right now is whether Kalkhoven is buying all of Cosworth or just the USA operation in Torrance, California that maintains the Champ Car (Ford) and IRL engines (for Chevy).
We hear the deal will be closed by the end of the week. Assuming our sources are correct, and we have no reason to believe they are not, this will be the second time that Kevin Kalkhoven has beat Tony George over the Cosworth engines, both times winning with a far lower bid. Recall that Kalkhoven (pictured right) trounced George in court earlier this year during the CART bankruptcy proceedings. At that time George offered to buy Champ Car's Cosworth engines for a large sum of money so he could shut the Champ Car series down, i.e. his competition. This time he tried to buy Cosworth so that Champ Car would have to look for another company to rebuild their engines next year.
Apparently the Ford Board was not having anything to do with George's shenanigans and will award the deal to Kalkhoven who has given Ford guarantees that not only will he keep Cosworth as a viable business entity, they will continue the IRL Chevy program rather than shut it down. Tony George has met his match and then some. You read it here first! Mark Cipolloni
Bulgaria eyes F1 It seems that Formula 1 is willing to go just about anywhere so long as the money is right. With Turkey and Mexico coming on to the F1 calendar, all that is now left is a race in Bulgaria. And why not? It seems that "a consortium of businessmen from Germany, Switzerland and Benelux" are willing to put up the money to build a $250m F1 track near Sliven. The development will include hotels, a hospital, parking, a casino and even a filling station. The project is being backed by Sliven's mayor Yordan Lechkov, who will supply the land for the track at Ramusha, a village to the east of Sliven. Grandprix.com [Editor's Note: This is another in a long list of examples where Champ Car can fill the void in worldwide demand F1 can't satisfy, if it had a product that was positioned close to F1 in look, sound and performance.]
Jarek Janis won’t drive for Dale CoyneUPDATE #9 Many have written asking who will Dale Coyne put in the car in Mexico City if Janis is out. The answer is we don't know yet, but getting 2-time Toyota Atlantic champion Jon Fogarty in the car would give the American some much needed experience and if he does decent, perhaps a team owner will pick him up for 2005. However, he has only tested a Champ Car previous to this for a day or two. Throwing him in the seat cold turkey in Mexico City will make his learning curve steep, but with a limited number of seats a driver sometimes only gets one shot and they have to take it when it presents itself. Mark C.10/30/04 Janis’s start at Surfers Paradise will be his last show in the Champ Car for now because his manager Antonin Charouz executed an option to withdraw his driver from the race in Mexico. The prime reason was the fact that Janis had not got the last specification of the car in Australia and there have not been sufficient guaranties that it will not happen again in Mexico. Moreover, Janis is testing the DTM car of the factory HWA team next month. The test is scheduled at Hockenheimring on November 9th-11th. It will be a very important test for the Olomouc born driver because it will have a major affect on his chance to get a full factory drive for next season.
Antonin Charouz, Janis’s manager: “It was not an easy decision. We had thought about it for a long time and I had had many calls with Dale Coyne but we finally decided that Jarek will not race in Mexico. We were not happy with the way the car had been prepared at Surfers Paradise and we have not got sufficient guaranties that it will not happen again in Mexico. We do not want to risk Jarek’s name. There was also another reason, as Jarek is scheduled to test this year’s AMG-Mercedes C Class DTM car with the factory HWA team on November 9th-11th and the test will play a crucial role for his contract for next year. We therefore prefer full focus to the test.” 10/29/04 We are hearing from our Czech Republic sources that Janis won't race in Mexico City. If true, now is the chance for Dale Coyne to give another driver a shot. See related article. 10/18/04 We have added Jarek Janis to our 2005 Champ Car Silly Season page (see link above). 10/17/04 Based on the Gaston Mazzacane story on our Hot News page, i.e. that he will sit out the last two races of 2004 and return full-time in 2005, we expect an official announcement Monday from Dale Coyne Racing that Jarek Janis will be their second driver in Surfers Paradise and probably Mexico City, though as we understand it, he must finish well in Surfers to get a second chance in Mexico City. Interestingly, Dale Coyne told Autoracing1.com before the test that he doubted Janis would drive in Surfers or Mexico City unless he set the world on fire in the test. Hmm....Could this guy be a ringer? 10/17/04 From what we can make out of this article on the Jarek Janis website, he will replace Mazzacane in Surfers and has an option for Mexico City if he finishes well in Surfers. Loose translation - Janis will start in Champ Cars. Jarek Janis will become the first Czech driver to race in the overseas Champ Car series. Janis's first start in the Champ Car series will be next weekend in Australia’s "Surfer’s Paradise" race. His manager Antonin Charouz was able to pull the deal together after brilliant last minute negotiations - first he placed Tomas Enge in the IRL series and then Jarek Janis was granted the start in the Champ Car race in only few days. It is the second to last race of the Champ Car Series - in Australia. Prior to that Janis tested with Dale Coyne Racing last week at Putnam Park near Chicago. It was a 2-day test session - but because of the bad weather(rain) the test was reduced to only one day testing. That day Janis drove the Dale Coyne Champ Car approx. 100 laps on the Putnam's 1.8 miles circuit and his test times were approx. the same as of the Oriol Servia's previous test's with Coyne's Racing. In Australia Janis will replace former F1 driver Gaston Mazzacane, current driver of the Dale Coyne Racing team.
JAREK JANIS: I am very exited and happy with the outcome of my test's on the Putnam circuit and I am looking forward to my first start in the Champ Car Series. Driving the Champ Car is physically demanding - because the Champ Cars ( and also the Formula F3000 race cars) are not equipped with power steering. The surprising and exciting thing for me driving the Champ Car -was the output of the turbocharged engine which has tremendous power, especially in 1st and 2nd gear - where I have to be very careful. I had to made adjustments to my previous driving style - "to use my left foot to operate the brake pedal" but it was not a big problem.
ANTONIN CHAROUZ (Janis manager from Czech Republic) - For Jarek this is a "dream true" because in my opinion Champ Car Racing is, with F1 and IRL, racing - one of the best open wheels series racing in the world. It is another giant step in Jarek Janis’s growth - but we will see how he performs in his "premiere" test which Jarek had with one of Dale Coyne’s Champ Cars last week and they were highly positive. I think the Australian race will be very suitable for Janis - because it is a "City Street Circuit" which fits his driving style. So far he will only start in the Australian race. In order for Janis to drive in Mexico City Janis must finish 10th or better in Australia As far as Janis participation in 2005 DTM series racing season- it is too early to discuss anything - if we get for Janis the latest version DTM racing car (which is the most important part - to get Janis take the part of the 2005 DTM Racing program). It will be great for Janis. In 2005 DTM will race on the Brno Circuit - where Janis feels "at Home" because that track suits him very well. 10/16/04 According to news reports in the Czech Republic, Janis tested well with Dale Coyne Racing and will replace Gastón Mazzacane at Surfers Paradise, Australia. These reports are unconfirmed, hence rumors for the time being. 10/14/04 A full week after we reported this as 'fact,' SPEED TV finally stumbled upon the news in this article. It does include a new quote from Janis. 10/08/04 AutoRacing1.com caught up with Dale Coyne who confirmed this rumor to be true. "Yes we will test Czech Jaroslav ‘Jarek’ Janis next week at Putnam Park. Right now it is just a test and although Jarek would like to race this year I am reluctant to send a third car to a flyaway race such as Surfers. Perhaps we can do Mexico City but that would only be if he sets the world on fire in his test. I am viewing this as something to look at for next year," said Coyne. 10/08/04 Our Czech sources are telling us that Czech driver Jarek Janis will test for Dale Coyne Racing next week with an eye toward an eventual full-time ride.
New Qualifying format in 2005 Bob Dilner reported on Speed Channel that qualifying in 2005 for the Cup Series could have a different look in 2005, with the top 35 teams in owners points/ drivers points assured to make the top 35 no matter how fast or slow they are. From 36 on back could not get the pole and would be set by speed. No word on if provisionals would still be used. This is supposedly one of a few scenarios NASCAR is thinking about regarding qualifying in 2005. Jayski.com
What will RCR announce today? Richard Childress has a news conference set for this morning to announce that Jeff Burton will drive his #31 Cingular-sponsored cars next season, taking Robby Gordon's place. It is unclear what Burton's crew might look like; there has been speculation Childress has a major crew swap in the works. But in a major twist, it appears Childress doesn't have Jack Daniels locked up as a sponsor for his third team. It was expected he would also announce that sponsor today along with driver Dave Blaney for his third team, the one for whom Burton drives. But the Jack Daniels sponsorship is still in play, according to team sources, with both car owners Bill Davis and Robby Gordon in the running. As of Thursday, a Jack Daniels deal hadn't been signed by any party. There are major questions now being raised about the American On Line sponsorship that Childress has had the past two years. If Childress dumps AOL and if NASCAR executives are unable to keep the Time-Warner division sponsorship in play, it would be a major blow to the sport. Time-Warner is a company with a $76 billion capitalization. Winston Salem Journal
PowerAide and Coca-Cola leaving NASCAR NASCAR sources indicate that Coca-Cola / PowerAde may drop its NASCAR sponsorship at the end of the season. NASCAR signed PowerAde to a victory-lane sponsorship that has proven too hot to handle, according to NASCAR sources, who said the brand would like to get out of NASCAR because of the disputes and because business hasn't been that good lately. Winston Salem Journal.
South Korea back on Champ Car calendarUPDATE #4 We were the first to tell you that South Korea would probably be back on the Champ Car schedule in 2005. Today this rumor is 'fact.' However, a number have readers have asked us whether the announced race in South Korea is real this time after this year's Seoul race was cancelled in the 11th hour. The answer is absolutely yes. This time the promoter has given Champ Car a significant financial deposit and the race is most definitely real. D3 Motorsports is busy designing the track for Ansan and the race will formally be announced when it is ready. Mark C.10/25/04 To the right is a map showing where Ansan is in relation to Seoul. For more information about this city here is their website. Whereas Seoul is rather old and very overpopulated, Ansan is much more modernized and progressive thinking. They encourage new technology, foreign investors and the city is home to a number of Universities and over 4,000 factories. This explains that while politics in Seoul prevented all the necessary approvals for the Champ Car race to happen, Ansan welcomes them with open arms. We suspect the Ansan officials who visited Surfers this past weekend came away quite impressed by the event. Ansan has direct subway connections with downtown Seoul and the airport. Mark C.10/20/04 AutoRacing1.com has learned today that Seoul is not the venue in South Korea. Look for the race to be announced at a location that is a 30 min. drive outside Seoul in a city called Ansan. 10/20/04 Things are looking very promising, they are coming to the final stages of negotiations. It's looking more and more likely that something will be announced in Surfers about Korea being on the Champ Car calendar in 2005. Now the question is whether it will be paired on back-to-back weekends with a China race. Mark C.10/19/04 AutoRacing1.com has learned that a contingent of officials from Seoul, South Korea are meeting with OWRS this weekend in Surfers Paradise, Australia. While it was thought that the notion of a Champ Car race in Seoul was dead, apparently not because we hear the political shenanigans that killed this year's race may have finally been cleared up. Mark C.
San Jose may not get Silicon Valley GP According to our sources, the Silicon Valley Grand Prix listed on the preliminary 2005 Champ Car schedule for July 31st will be in San Jose around the HP Pavilion. However, Champ Car President Dick Eidswick made a statement in Thursday's press conference announcing the schedule that indicates that locale might have some issues and other sites are being considered. "The site in Silicon Valley is not firm yet. San Jose is certainly one of the alternatives. We will announce that whenever it's clear," stated Eidswick.
Mansell team in last-ditch bid for Jaguar According to this Guardian article, The Jaguar formula one team could be closed down at the end of next week with the loss of 350 jobs should talks with a consortium headed by Nigel Mansell fall through. Sources close to Jaguar Racing said yesterday that associates of Brand Synergy, which had recently tried to take over the British grand prix, were having confidential talks with HSBC, the bankers handling the sale of the formula one team on behalf of Ford, Jaguar's owners. The bid would appear to represent the last hope for the Jaguar team whose Milton Keynes-based personnel would otherwise be thrown on the dole, adding to the economic depression in the region which has already been hit by the uncertainty hanging over the future of the British grand prix at Silverstone.......It is understood that the new offer from Mansell's consortium also includes a bid for Cosworth, which builds the Jaguar V10 engines, and its associated company Pi electronics. Earlier bids from Red Bull and a consortium of Chinese investors failed to reach successful conclusions thanks to what some believe is Ford's hands-off attitude to the future of the team. The team has had up to eight expressions of interest from potential buyers but none has yet come to fruition.
"The whole negotiation process and the deadline for any deal with an investor has been extended by 10 days," said the Jaguar spokesman Nav Sidhu. "But we have to know by around November 9 at the latest as entries for next year's world championship have to be in by November 15." Red Bull's racing consultant Helmut Marko yesterday told Autosport magazine of the frustrations he encountered when trying to reach a deal with Ford. "The problem is that at Ford the people deciding the future do not care about formula one," he said.
That view is supported by the fact that the Ford president Nick Scheele shook hands on the terms of a Red Bull buy-out with the drinks' company chief executive officer Dietrich Mateschitz over dinner in Vienna in August, only for the plan to be axed by Ford's senior management back in Detroit.
Mateschitz had viewed a partnership with Ford as an ideal vehicle in which to bring talented Americans into formula one. Similarly a planned agreement with the Chinese government, which would have seen the team race under the Team China Ford banner in 2005, was similarly scuppered at a high level.
"All I can say is that the staff are totally committed to keep working as hard as possible, working on developing next year's car in the hope that all will be well," said David Pitchforth, Jaguar racing's managing director. "We have had some really good results from our wind-tunnel program and, in any other year, would be extremely excited about the prospects for next season. As it is, we are just keeping our fingers crossed."
The complication for anybody purchasing Jaguar is that it will also be necessary to buy Cosworth in order to secure continuity of engine supply. Unfortunately, Cosworth's commercial viability depended on it having an engine supply contract with the Jordan team which yielded over $10m (£5.5m) a year. That income stream has now ceased after Jordan's announcement on Wednesday that it will use Toyota engines next season.
Dave Richards to be released from BARUPDATE #2 We are bumping this rumor back up from false to speculation. Our sources maintain that Richards was told he was out and he has now mounted a spirited defense of his position and has gone hardball threatening legal action, pulling people, etc. basically fighting for his life. Our sources answer to the Pitpass report that the rumors were false - What would you expect a BAR spokesperson to say? It is still run by Richards. 10/28/04 BAR has rubbished a rumor which has been spreading on the internet in the past 48-hours, claiming that team boss had been fired. The rumor, which has been the main topic of conversation on a number of Formula One website forums, suggested that Richards had been fired for his role in 'Buttongate' and the Brackley outfit's failure to land any new sponsors. "I can say that there is no truth to the rumor that David has resigned or is stepping down from his position as Team Principal of BAR," Communications Manager, Tracy Novak told Pitpass. "David is part of the management team contracted by BAT to manage BAR and there are a further two years left to run on that contract." 10/28/04 Sources in Europe are telling us that it appears Dave Richards is soon to be out at BAR. Apparently he is fighting to keep the position, but whether he stays or not, he will be paid for two years salary. If true, this is big news, though we wonder why after BAR is coming off its best year ever.
Champ Car on the ropes?UPDATE #2 Another reader writes, Like Mark Cipolloni has told us in a number of his fine articles in the past, schedules and TV need to be announced in August and September so the teams have time to get sponsorship. Now it's almost Nov. 1 and we're being sold a limited scheduled with TBAs??? The Big 3 need to become more decisive and stop acting like women at a shoe sale unable to make up their minds on which races they want on the schedule. If a race doesn't have its act together on Sept. 1, what makes anyone think they'll be ready to answer the bell on March 1? The whole South Korea escapade this season was embarrassing when they didn't even cancel the event until late Sept. when AR1 was telling us it wouldn't happen way back in the spring. The series needs stability and someone to make the hard decisions. Because they've waited so long to announce a partial schedule, none of us should be surprised when all the rent-a-riders come back again next year because the teams haven't had sufficient time to find the sponsors that would allow them to pay the best drivers in the world to race in a Champ Car. Even worse is it's almost Nov. 1 and there's been no decisions made on chassis and engines for 2006. Well, the clock is ticking and if they make a change, they basically have one year before the new equipment has to begin off-season testing. I'll live with these big, slow tanks unable to pass on tight little Mickey Mouse street circuits for one more year, but after that my patience is starting to grow thin watching equipment that wasn't designed for what it's racing on provide me with more parades than it does racing. Richard G., Springfield, Ohio10/28/04 A reader chimes in, Dear AutoRacing1.com, If this Indy Star report is correct, Champ Car is in worse shape than any of us thought. It looks like when it comes to signing on the dotted line, the race promoters won't. I think you are right, the product Champ Car is selling is old and tired and in need of a major overhaul. While the IRL is expanding to 18 races, and F1 to 19 in 2005 and 20 in 2006, Champ Car is shrinking to 14? In addition, where's the rumored title sponsor deal? Any new teams for 2005? Any new manufacturers coming into the series? Where's Ford's advertising around Champ Car? Where's Champ Car's marketing department, asleep at the wheel? The series is nearly invisible but for a few of us hardcore fans. Cliff Browne, Vail, Co. Dear Cliff, The facts will speak for themselves. We must base our judgment on the official announcements or lack thereof. It appears the jury is still out. Mark C.10/28/04 If this Indy Star article is to be believed, Champ Car will announce a pathetically small 14-race schedule in Indianapolis today. Although the Indy Star is not always correct when it comes to Champ Car, if they are correct this time, and Champ Car was only able to sign up 14 races this late in the ballgame for 2005, it is an indication the series is still on the ropes and scrambling. With rumors of so many new venues, and almost none of them materializing, Champ Car fans may once again be let down by the beleaguered league's inability to deliver. Rumors say the Indy Star is wrong again and that a 16 or 17 race schedule will be announced. We shall see. Article - The Champ Car World Series today will announce a 14-race schedule for 2005 that includes new events in Canada and California. Series officials are hoping to add at least two races to the schedule, which currently lists the same number of events as this year. Discussions are ongoing with current venues in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Elkhart Lake, Wis., neither of which is on the schedule that will be formally unveiled at a news conference at Champ Car's Indianapolis headquarters. The new races are in Edmonton, Alberta, and San Jose, Calif. As was the case this year, the only oval tracks on the schedule are The Milwaukee Mile and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Las Vegas race could be moved to a downtown street venue, but that is unlikely. The 2005 season is due to begin April 10 at Long Beach, Calif., and end Nov. 6 at Mexico City. Champ Car would like to begin its season earlier and is looking to add a race ahead of Long Beach, which doesn't want to move from its traditional date.
Champ Car to race in Edmonton in 2005UPDATE #8 It is official. The Champ Car World Series Organization has granted final approval of a race for Edmonton starting in 2005 making Edmonton the latest city in Canada to host a premier Indy event. Fans can now look forward to seeing 2003 World Series Champion Paul Tracy and many more of the most skilled race car drivers in the world featured live next year in Edmonton. Edmonton’s Indy will take place the next three years at the City Centre Airport and there is an agreement in place ensuring the Airport will run with virtually no disruption to its services during the race period. The Event will include three days of racing from July 15-17 and a week-long festival leading up to the racing finals on the 17th. Greg Macdonald who leads the Edmonton organizing group said “this is an amazing event and it will do amazing things for our city. Everyone knows that when Edmonton gets behind an event, there is no doubt it will become a success. The Champ Car Race is no exception and already we have seen exceptional indications of solid support from governments, business people and the community at large. Our race circuit location is right in the heart of this city and is designed to show Edmonton at its finest to the rest of the world.” In November, Greg Macdonald will be joined by Tom Doerksen and other local organizers plus sponsors, government officials and Champ Car representatives for an official news conference which will also launch tickets sales. Edmonton Airport10/27/04 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. The nightly news in Edmonton is reporting that tonight the Champ Car race will officially be announced for 2005 and beyond. 10/25/04 Duncan Thorne, the author of Friday's Edmonton Journal article provided us with this full text version -
Car race organizers show Calgary the red flag: Edmonton still in running for event
Calgary may be about to eat Edmonton's dust on the international car racing circuit. Molson Canada is dropping plans to sponsor a prestigious race in Calgary, partly because Edmonton appears to have the inside track on landing the province's first Champ Car event. But the company says the Alberta government's lower tax rates for small breweries put it at a disadvantage that might discourage Molson from sponsoring a Champ Car event in the province. "It doesn't look like we'll be doing Calgary," Molson spokesman David Jones said Thursday by phone from Toronto. Jones said Molson, the sponsor for Champ Car events in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, began looking seriously last summer at staging a race in Calgary. Talks went as far as seeking the support of the city and provincial governments, he said. He would not discuss a report that Molson had sought $10 million over five years from the province to help fund an annual Calgary event. "I'm not going to talk about specific numbers."
WORK WITH GOVERNMENTS
But the company looks for support "on infrastructure and other things like that" when planning major races, Jones said. "We normally work with all levels of government on big-city events." The races, featuring open-wheel cars, "bring in lots of money" to host cities. Jones said the economic impact can be $20 million to $25 million. He said there are various reasons for pulling out of Calgary but one is that promoters in Edmonton appear close to getting final approval from the Champ Car organization in Indianapolis, Ind., to hold a race July 15-17. "There's only so much of a marketplace in Alberta for that," he said. Another problem is the Alberta government sets preferential tax rates for small breweries in the province, Jones said. "It makes doing business in Alberta difficult." He said it's hard for Molson to compete with small breweries on price - and hard to justify promoting a costly race such as Champ Car. Molson has also been looking at whether to continue the races it holds annually in Toronto and Vancouver. He said it will announce its decision when Champ Car unveils the 2005 racing schedule next Thursday. With Calgary out of the running, Edmonton's prospects of getting an event have improved. "There's only so much space in the calendar," said Jones, who thinks Edmonton is "looking good." Champ Car officials weren't available for comment, as they are in Australia for a race. "Whether they want to have two races in Alberta, I don't know," Jones said. "They may just want one."
ADDING RACES NEXT YEAR
Champ Car had 14 events this year in the United States, Canada, Australia and Mexico. It wants to squeeze two more races into next year's international schedule. It has an agreement in principle with local promoters to stage an event at City Centre Airport. But it has warned of the need to clear some obstacles before giving it final approval. Molson holds first right of refusal for sponsoring races in Canada but Edmonton could stage an event without the Molson name on it. Jones said the impending release of Champ Car's 2005 schedule doesn't mean planning for all the races must be in place by then. He said the schedule tends to be "fluid," with some events confirmed and others listed as "yet to be determined." Former racing driver Tom Doerkson has been part of a three-year push to put Edmonton on the Champ Car circuit. Doerkson has said he and investors are ready to install seating for up to 60,000 spectators at the airport, which has been the site of some smaller races. The cars would circle a three-kilometer track. An unnamed businessman, thought to be millionaire Bruce Saville, has provided a $2-million letter of credit for the Edmonton proposal. It would take up to $3 million more to mount the event. Saville and Doerkson could not be reached for comment.
10/23/04 An article in the Edmonton Journal newspaper Friday says, Calgary may be about to eat Edmonton's dust on the international car racing circuit. Molson Canada is dropping plans to host a prestigious race in Calgary, partly because Edmonton has the inside track on landing the provinces first Champ Car event." "It doesn't look like we will be doing Calgary," Molson spokesman David Jones said Thursday by phone from Toronto. He said there are various reasons for pulling out of Calgary but one is that promoters in Edmonton appear close to getting final approval from the Champ Car organization in Indianapolis, Ind., to hold a race July 15-17. He goes on to say that the infrastructure in Edmonton is better, and was quoted as saying Edmonton is "looking good." 10/19/04 Calgarians will know before the end of the month if the city will host a 2005 Champ Car race. Molson Indy GM Bob Singleton quashed unconfirmed reports yesterday Calgary was out of the running for a race in 2005 saying nothing has yet been finalized. "There's no decision made," assured Singleton. "I think we still have another seven, eight, nine days to make up our minds. "It will be before the 28th of October." The Molson Indy already promotes three races in Canada including Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Both Calgary and Edmonton are in the running to host a race in 2005, while Molson has first right of refusal for any events in Canada. Molson is interested in promoting a race in Calgary, with the two front-running venues being the Stampede Grounds and Race City Motorsport Park. Another group is vying to host the race in Edmonton, reportedly at the city's municipal airport. Molson's Oct. 28 deadline is connected to Champ Car being able to finalize its 2005 schedule. "We're still looking at the entire motorsports package for us," said Singleton. "And we know we still have until the 28th so we're not rushing it." Joe Chrnelich, Champ Car's executive vice-president of development, government affairs and planning, has said the open-wheel series feels Calgary is a viable location to host one of their events. "It is an absolute splendid, splendid city," said Chrnelich recently. "From where we stand right now, it is very, very capable of hosting a successful Champ Car race." Calgary Sun10/05/04 This Edmonton Sun article makes a case for the Champ Car race.10/03/04 This Edmonton Sun article says, There could be a little grease thrown into the fire when it comes to the Battle of Alberta. A Champ Car executive confirmed to the Sun yesterday the open-wheel racing series is actively pursuing an event in Alberta for 2005 with both Calgary and Edmonton in the mix. 10/03/04 Here is the text of the full article by John Short of the Edmonton Journal: Edmonton is poised to host a major international car race at the City Centre Airport next summer. Tom Doerkson, a former racer who has helped spearhead a three-year effort to secure a race in Edmonton, confirmed on Friday that a local group has signed a contract with Champ Car. The contract calls on Champ Car, once known as CART, to provide drivers (Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier, Sebastien Bourdais and the like) vehicles, attendants and crew members for a weekend race at the airport from July 15-17.
“The contracts were signed this morning,” said Doerkson on Friday. “We couldn’t be more pleased.”
In order to secure the deal with Champ Car, an unnamed local businessman has provided a $2-million letter of credit. More money, perhaps as much as $3 million, will be needed to get the race off the ground, said Doerkson. But an investors group is in place “similar to the one that kept the Edmonton Oilers in our city.” Committed and potential investors are expected to meet next week. Some are convinced the economic benefit to Edmonton and area will be $20 to $25 million.
“We’re planning to provide seats for 50,000 to 60,000 spectators, ”Doerkson said, pointing out that three-day events of this type usually draw 150,000 to 180,000 fans. The race would be Champ Car’s fourth stop in Canada, along with the Molson Indy races in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
If there’s a caution flag to be waved, however, it would be Molson’s involvement in an Edmonton race. Molson has yet to meet with the Edmonton group to discuss television commitments, title sponsorship arrangements and other issues. A Molson media spokesman, who didn’t want his name used, said no meeting has been scheduled to discuss those issues. And he also rejected the suggestion that the Edmonton race would replace Vancouver on the Molson Indy calendar.
“There was speculation about the future of the Vancouver Indy, including the possibility that it might be moved to Calgary,” he said. “We’ve been aware of those concerns. It’s important to realize no commitment has been made at this point, either to add a race or to change our existing race schedule.”
Molson holds first right of refusal for promotional rights and sponsorship of any Champ Car race in this country. But the Edmonton group has the right to stage an event without the Molson banner.
The race would be contained on a three-kilometer track (1.8 miles - which is ridiculously small with the airport being so big. Incredible!) entirely within the City Centre Airport. Airport spokeswoman Traci Bednard said on Friday that no contract exists between Doerkson’s organization and the airport at this point, “which could simply be a technicality.” She confirmed numerous meetings have taken place and others are certainly possible.
Doerkson said his proposal calls for a three-week period of preparation, but only seven days of serious interference with airport traffic. It’s been a long road for Doerkson and his colleagues, who had recently failed to convince Northlands Park officials that they should construct a permanent road circuit on the fairgrounds to help attract a Champ Car race to Edmonton. After that setback, Doerkson arranged to meet with Champ Car executive vice-president Joseph Chrnelich in Cleveland during the first week of July and in Montreal in late August.
Doerkson, a big part of the promotional team behind the massive success of the world under-19 women’s soccer championship in Edmonton two years ago, came away from both meetings encouraged. “A lot of hard work went into this project,” he said.
10/02/04 An article in today's Edmonton Journal says that the city has signed a deal with Champ Car for a race to be held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on July 15-17, 2005. There is a front page column, and the headline reads "Race fans, start your engines." The story goes on to say that there will be seating for 50k to 60k and the race will be held at the City Center Airport. We've included a small image of the front page. We assume this means there will be no race in Calgary, Canada.
The airport is home to small charters, private and corporate aircraft, training, military, industrial and medevac flights. The commercial jet airport (Edmonton International) is outside the city to the south in Leduc.
With the airport being right adjacent to downtown, Champ Car keeps to its "urban" race goal. With a population of just under 938,000 at the time of the 2001 Census of Canada, the Edmonton CMA is the sixth largest metropolitan region in Canada. More to follow....
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