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IndyCar to slash Leader Circle payout Speed.com reports that IndyCar will reduce the Leader Circle program payout in 2013:
Payout Per Race
*Includes three doubleheaders that do not cost the teams as much per race as single events
From a savings standpoint for the IndyCar Series, the family spent $25.5 million on the Leader Circle in 2012, while 2013’s plan will come to $23 million, an immediate $2.5 million pared from the bottom line.
(GMM) Robert Kubica looks set to return to full-time competitive action in 2013.
Multiple media reports, including German's Sport Bild and also SID news agency, claim the former BMW and Renault driver will contest the European Rally Championship (ERC) at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta.
SID said the Pole, who has still has limited use of his right arm in the wake of his February 2011 rally crash, has received clearance to enter the Fiesta with modified controls.
"It would be incredible if Robert came to the ERC," said series chief Francois Ribeiro.
Sorting out the NASCAR Silly Season The NASCAR offseason usually means one thing – more shuffling than a game of cards. This year is no different with high-profile drivers moving their team shop addresses to another location. Confused? Don’t panic. We have a full breakdown below of where some of the biggest names in NASCAR are heading for the 2013 season.
New Team: No. 20 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing
Former Team: No. 17 Ford at Roush-Fenway Racing
Having driven for car owner Jack Roush full-time in the NASCAR’S cup division since 2000, some would have a hard time believing that Kenseth would ever leave Roush. That time, however, has come for Kenseth, who’ll take his driving talents to a Joe Gibbs Racing operation that has had no problem winning races but has yet to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title since Tony Stewart did so in 2005.
Toyota set to reclaim world sales crown Toyota Motor Corp. is poised to take back the title of world's biggest automaker for 2012, as Volkswagen fights General Motors for second place heading into the final weeks.
The battle among the world's biggest carmakers comes as the industry is headed for a record year.
Global 2012 sales will top 80 million cars and trucks for the first time, as robust U.S. and Japanese purchases offset a European downturn, according to estimates from LMC Automotive. Toyota is rebounding from Japan's 2011 tsunami to take the title from GM, while the fight for second between Volkswagen and GM remains too close to call, with less than 1 percent difference between their sales.
Barnhart to return, assuring IndyCar's demise? Q: I've heard a lot of fear on this subject, but never heard anyone connected ever comment on it directly: On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being we're safe and 10 being we're screwed (I'm sure you can figure out which end of the scale applies to what with that description), what are the chances of Beaux Barfield being fired and Brian Barnhart being put back in race control?
Robin Miller (Speed.com): Considering the new boss has run off Bernard and Steve Shunck, the only competent and savvy PR man on West 16th Street, I think Barfield is concerned. And Barnhart has evidently been strutting around like he’s coming back, which is a sickening thought.
A division of disaffected groups within the Formula One paddock are purportedly considering lodging complaints with the EU Commission in reference to a perceived abuse of position of the Formula One Group (FOG) whilst formulating the new 2013-’20 Concorde Agreement.
Former Williams Chairman Adam Parr recently stated the Commission should look carefully at the “special conditions” afforded to Ferrari and Red Bull by the FOG in the distribution of revenues.
IndyCar may implement a post-season runoffUPDATE #2 Mark Miles already finds himself at the center of IndyCar issues. He said two things have stirred fans and people in the sport: His interest in having lights at the Speedway and wanting IndyCar to have a playoff system. The latter, in particular, is just a thought he's had from afar, he said.
"A couple of people have written me and said, 'You idiot, why would we want to be like NASCAR?'" he said Thursday. "All we're doing is asking ourselves questions."
Miles spent 15 years as head of men's professional tennis, and he said that sport struggled to hold people's attention late in the season.
"Most great sports leagues have some form of culmination that moves the needle near the end of their season," he said. "While (IndyCar) has a championship and it gets some attention, I wonder whether there's a way to create more value and more interest for fans at the end of the year.
(GMM) Jules Bianchi has leapt into pole position to join Paul di Resta at Force India next year.
Earlier, it was expected the Silverstone based team's former race driver Adrian Sutil was the favorite to replace the Sauber-bound Nico Hulkenberg in 2013.
But Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper said the new favorite is 2012 Force India reserve Bianchi, a 23-year-old rookie who is backed by Ferrari and managed by Felipe Massa's manager, Nicolas Todt, the son of FIA president Jean.
"The announcement is expected before Christmas," said correspondent Heikki Kulta.
Kulta added that Force India's reportedly likely switch from Mercedes to Ferrari engine power for the 2014 V6 regulations was "a decisive factor" in Bianchi's favor.
IMS may add lights for NASCAR, but why not use them for Indy 500 too?
During an IBJ.com interview, new Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles mentioned There’s no doubt, if he can find a way to pay for lights, he’ll have them installed at the Indy Speedway in short order and make the Brickyard 400 a night race.
“If you are talking about the Brickyard  and fans believe it’s too hot, that would provide some relief,” Miles said. “There’s some evidence we’re getting that a night race distinguishes itself from day races [and] is a point of differentiation that can add to audience value on television. It’s likely in my view that we’ll conclude that if we can figure out a way to add lights out there it could add real value.”
Miles won’t hesitate to make other improvements to the Speedway.
“The facilities matter. If you think of any major, successful professional event or high-level collegiate event, the facility has a lot to do with the vitality of the event aesthetically and for the fan experience and economically,” Miles said. “So we’ll have to think about investments out there.”
This rumor is downgraded to 'false' for Briscoe driving to Foyt, but word is that Briscoe is high on Chip Ganassi's list to replace Graham Rahal on Ganassi's 'B' team. And besides, Briscoe could bring over a few secrets from his #1 adversary - Team Penske. That rivalry has been going on for years and the Chipster would like nothing better than to get a secret or two from The Captain. Our 2012 IndyCar Silly Season page has been updated accordingly.
11/09/12 Rumor has it that ex-Penske driver Ryan Briscoe could drive the No. 14 AJ Foyt entry in 2013.
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' now. Just one week after the Championship Celebration, Vautier will join SSM at Sebring International Raceway for his first outing in an IZOD IndyCar.
SSM will conduct a two-day test with their regular IndyCar driver Simon Pagenaud driving the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car on Dec. 12. Vautier will step into the car Dec. 13 while Pagenaud remains behind to help him learn the nuances of the bigger car.
Vautier is looking forward to his first chance to experience the IndyCar Dallara chassis, but has set realistic goals for himself heading into the test.
“It's going to be totally new for me, so I can't set any goals regarding where I want to end-up performance wise,” Vautier said. “I will go to Sebring without putting any pressure on myself but instead focus on what the IndyCar guys at SSM have to teach me and how I can learn efficiently. My goal is to improve all-day long and learn as much as I can. “
Force India to announce driver this week (GMM) Force India is set to announce the identity of Paul di Resta's 2013 teammate.
The Indian news service IANS said that although the official announcement has been delayed, the Vijay Mallya-led team is finally almost ready now to make the call.
"The announcement should take place next week," a 'top source' at the Silverstone based team was quoted saying late last week.
"Adrian (Sutil) looks the best bet to partner di Resta as he has got the required experience in formula one. At the same time, Mr. Mallya also considered all other available options," the unnamed source added.
Mystery race added to 2013 F1 calendarUPDATE #3 Austria could return to the Formula 1 calendar in 2013, with Red Bull Ring officials informing governing body the FIA that it would be willing to host a Grand Prix.
After the New Jersey street race was pushed back to 2014, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has been working to find a replacement. With a return to France ruled out and Turkey's recent bid unlikely to be backed by the government, the Red Bull Ring could hold the answer for the available race slot on July 21.
"We have the FIA made aware that there is a track with full F1 license," Red Bull Motorsport Director Dr.a's Speed Week newspaper.
Formerly known as the A1-Ring, which hosted F1 races from 1997 to 2003 at it's newer, shorter layout, the circuit was re-opened as the Red Bull Ring in May 2011. It has since hosted rounds for DTM, Formula 2 and various Formula 3 categories.
Wider roads to Austin F1 track not needed? To accommodate an influx of thousands of cars during major events like the Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Elroy, officials originally agreed in May to expand roads in the area, including the creation of a pair of four-lane roads on the north side of the track.
Now officials with the county and circuit are recommending scaling back those expansions, estimated to have cost $9 million to $10 million.
“It’s just not worth the cost,” said Steve Manilla, the county’s transportation executive. “Kellam (Lane), for example, was underutilized. Most of the people came in (for the F1 race) from FM 812 side.”
Randy Bernard to land new jobUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Randy Bernard is returning to his roots after three years with IndyCar, accepting a job as CEO of cable channel RFD-TV.
Rural Media Group announced the hiring Friday, and Bernard was already in Las Vegas for meetings at the National Rodeo Finals. He spent 15 years with the Professional Bull Riders organization before joining IndyCar as CEO in 2010.
Bernard met with RMG founder Patrick Gottsch at company headquarters in Omaha, Neb., last week and its offices in Nashville before accepting the job.
Speed TV to be renamed 'FOX Sports 1' Fox execs today met with Speed staff in Charlotte and addressed reports of the company's plan to rebrand the motorsports channel as Fox Sports 1. Sources said the meeting was led by Fox Sports co-Presidents Randy Freer and Eric Shanks. The execs assured the Speed staff that they will be a key part of any rebranding of Speed and added that Speed’s production facility in Charlotte would contribute significantly to programming in the future. The meeting was supposed to be held the week of Nov. 5, but was postponed because of Hurricane Sandy.
Fox Sports plans to convert Speed, which is in 81 million homes, into Fox Sports 1 by August, according to a recent report in SportsBusiness Journal. The conversion was written into recent TV rights agreements that Fox cut with MLB and NASCAR, and the company recently began sharing a five- to 10-minute "sizzle reel" with sports and media execs touting its plans for the new channel. Fox Sports still has not confirmed its plans for Speed publicly. By Tripp Mickle, Staff Writer, SportsBusiness Journal
Hungaroring extends deal The Hungaroring is reported to have just signed a new five-year deal that will take the race to 2021. The race in Budapest has considerable backing from the Hungarian government. The track will be resurfaced and it is hoped that some modifications will be made to improve overtaking possibilities.
Grand-Am eyeing a race in Bahrain? East met West on Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway, when Shaikh Salman Bin Isa Al Khalifa, the chief executive of the Bahrain International Circuit, met with GRAND-AM Road Racing Founder and NASCAR Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President Jim France during a tour of the facility.
Shaikh Salman was in Florida to attend the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Orlando. He participated in an industry day trip to Daytona for PRI delegates arranged by GRAND-AM, Daytona International Speedway and the Motorsports Industry Association.
Kovalainen or Kobayashi could replace Grosjean at Lotus - rumorUPDATE
(GMM) Kamui Kobayashi has entered the frame as a potential replacement for Romain Grosjean at Lotus, Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper reports.
Earlier, the Finnish source MTV3 said Heikki Kovalainen - at risk of losing his Caterham seat - was now a candidate for Lotus, as the Enstone based team considers whether to keep Frenchman Grosjean on board.
Grosjean enjoys the support of team boss Eric Boullier and also the team's important French backer Total, but it is believed the 26-year-old tumultuous 2012 season has sparked deliberations about whether he should keep the seat alongside Kimi Raikkonen.
Malaysia GP To Alternate F1 Race With Singapore Officials of the Malaysian Sepang Int'l Circuit "are open to consider the possibility of alternating their F1 Grand Prix on an annual basis starting in '15 with the Grand Prix of Singapore."
Sepang's current deal with F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone runs until '15, and due to shrinking attendance numbers race promoters "are not sure if they want to extend their contract." Sepang Int'l Circuit CEO Razlan Razali recently said that "F1's restriction for race promoters are too high, which makes it difficult to create any attractions that would help to draw fans to the track."
Having with Singapore a highly attended F1 race in relatively close proximity "does not help Sepang either." Razali said, "Malaysia and Singapore are in the same region, and I think it is bad for Singapore and Malaysia [that the two circuits are so close to each other]. I believe we can attract more people if Malaysia and Singapore would alternate instead of taking place in the same year" Motorsport Magazin
Pook looking to steal Long Beach from IndyCarUPDATE #2
To bring F1 back to Long Beach would be difficult. You cannot build enough grandstands to sell all the tickets needed to pay the huge F1 tab.
If Bernie Ecclestone wants Formula One back on Long Beach’s street circuit as has been rumored, the organizer of what is now an IndyCar race there said the event’s business model would have to change to accommodate.
“To run a Formula One event is an extremely expensive proposition … in terms of the infrastructure and the cost of purchasing the show,” said Jim Michaelian, the president and general manager of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. “To even consider it would entail a whole new financial structure, and quite frankly we are succeeding here in our efforts to stage a first-class IndyCar event.
“Our owners are happy with the progress we’re making (with IndyCar) and that’s where our focus is on now.”
On F1 drivers moving to IndyCar Question: It seems that we could have a few 2012 F1 drivers out of a job. Do you think any IndyCar teams would be interested in the likes of Bruno Senna, Kamui Kobayashi, Vitaly Petrov, Heikki Kovalainen and Narain Karthikeyan? Rubens Barrichello found a home here. What chance a few more to make the move? (Graeme, Tyne & Wear, U.K.)
Answer: From the side of the IndyCar team owners, money talks. So yes, there would be interest if the backing were there. Unless it’s Petrov, who is said to have sponsorship and an interest in IndyCar, I don’t see many of these guys wanting to come this direction at this point in their career. Senna flatly has said no. It was interesting to read on the India Today website that Karthikeyan “may be forced” to pursue IndyCar. I think that’s where it stands with a lot of guys with Formula One aspirations. It depends on their options. Indy Star
Hamilton to start giving McLaren secrets to Mercedes before McLaren deal ends
When a key member of any team leaves, out the door walk many secrets that get delivered to the opponent. No wonder Ron Dennis was reported to be fuming over Hamilton's departure.
(GMM) McLaren will allow Lewis Hamilton to speak to engineers at his new team Mercedes even before his 2012 contract expires.
It is believed Hamilton's deal with McLaren actually runs until December 31.
But British newspapers including the Sun and Express say the 27-year-old will actually talk with Mercedes engineers before the new year begins.
"I won't be doing much technical work with them but Martin (Whitmarsh) says I'm allowed to talk to people," Hamilton confirmed.
"I'm expecting to see a great group of people who are determined as anything to win because they've not been winning." [Editor's Note: Will that 'talk' include giving away as many McLaren secrets verbally as possible in an effort to turn the Mercedes from a slug to a contender?]
Chevrolet Spark (1LT, 2LT) and Sonic LTZ and RS will integrate Siri, the intelligent assistant that helps get things done just by asking. Those who use Apple devices know how much better Siri has become with the latest iteration
Well it appears Apple is entering the automotive market even before they put an entire iPad Mini in car dashboards. Early next year, the Chevrolet Spark (1LT, 2LT) and Sonic LTZ and RS will integrate Siri, the intelligent assistant that helps get things done just by asking. Chevrolet made the announcement today at the Los Angeles International Auto Show.
Through the cars’ standard Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system, customers with a compatible iPhone* running iOS 6 can direct Siri to perform a number of tasks while they safely keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel. To further minimize distraction, Siri takes hands-free functionality even further with an Eyes Free mode that enables users to interact with their iPhone using nothing more than their voice while keeping the device’s screen from lighting up.
Red Bull title sponsorship worth EUR 15m - Rumor (GMM) Red Bull's new title sponsorship for 2013 and beyond is worth an additional EUR 15 million per year, according to the German magazine Sport Bild.
Just before Sebastian Vettel won his third consecutive drivers' title on Sunday, the reigning champions had announced in Brazil that it will be called Infiniti Red Bull Racing from 2013, in deference to Nissan's luxury car brand.
Barrichello to Caterham?UPDATE #2 (GMM) Rubens Barrichello has dismissed as "just rumors" suggestions he could return to formula one next year with Caterham.
The veteran was bitterly disappointed to end his record-setting grand prix career at the end of last year, but was conspicuously present for the last two races of the 2012 season, in the US - where he has been racing Indycars in 2012 - and his native Brazil.
Asked about the Caterham rumors doing the rounds at Interlagos, the 40-year-old told Brazil's Tazio: "It's just rumors.
Bottas certain to secure Williams race seat - sourcesUPDATE
(GMM) According to authoritative media sources, Valtteri Bottas will definitely replace current Williams race driver Bruno Senna in 2013.
The news was reported from Brazil not only by Finnish broadcaster MTV3's race commentator Oskari Saari, but also the respected Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt, as well as others in the Interlagos paddock.
Schmidt said Brazilian Senna, and also his countryman Luiz Razia, have "run through the paddock with suitcases full of money, finding no takers".
MasterCard set for F1 return (GMM) American multinational MasterCard could be set to return to formula one, according to the latest rumor from Brazil.
Russia's f1news.ru reported that MasterCard - having sponsored Lola's stillborn F1 effort in 1997 and then Jordan between 1998-2001 - has now agreed a trackside sponsorship deal with Bernie Ecclestone's company FOM.
The news follows American giant Coca-Cola's decision to sponsor Lotus from next year with its energy drink Burn, and the return to the calendar of a US grand prix.
You know you're a NASCAR fan if . . . Please make up your own joke; plenty of people have. I'm not here to join the parade. I merely want to point out a possible reason why non-fans snicker at the sport. NASCAR fans value image over achievement. You could easily conclude that the worse a driver is, the more fans will like him — or her.
The latest proof came this week when Danica Patrick was named the Nationwide Series most popular driver. We can only presume that Paul Hospenthal did not have a vote.
He's Danica's soon-to-be ex. She announced the pending divorce Wednesday. Hopefully she had a good pre-nup and gets to keep the one career win they had between them.
Frijns set for long-term Sauber dealUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
10/26/12 Robin Frijns is set for a long-term role with Sauber, provided his run in the Abu Dhabi young driver test proves a success according to Autosport.
The 21-year-old, who was recently crowned Formula Renault 3.5 champion in controversial circumstances, is scheduled to drive for Sauber for one day.
Autosport rumors that the team plans to tie him down to a long-term deal having been impressed with his progress over the past three years, during which he has won the Formula BMW Europe, Formula Renault Eurocup and Formula Renault 3.5 title.
Mexican Carlos Slim money lands Mexican Esteban Gutierrez at Sauber
(GMM) According to team boss Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber will announce the identity Nico Hulkenberg's 2013 teammate this weekend.
"We have always said it will be announced during the season," she is quoted in Brazil by France's L'Equipe.
It is an open secret that the candidates are incumbent Kamui Kobayashi, who has been frantically trying to find a sponsor, and Mexican youngster Esteban Gutierrez, whose appointment would keep Sauber's major backer Telmex (owned by Carlos Slim) happy.
Japanese Kobayashi is quoted by Brazil's Globo: "This could be my last race, I don't know."
Aabar buys into Toro Rosso (GMM) Aabar, the Abu Dhabi state investment arm, may have withdrawn at Mercedes in order to buy into the Toro Rosso team. It emerged this week that Aabar had sold back its 40 per cent stake in Mercedes' works team.
But Aabar continues to back Toro Rosso, Red Bull's second formula one team, through its Spanish oil brand Cepsa. And Germany's Sport Auto reports that Aabar has now bought part of the Faenza based squad.
"The (percentage) number (of the stake) is between 49 to 61 per cent," the magazine said.
Like Jacques Villeneuve who went for a money grab and destroyed his career, Lewis Hamilton's move to the Mercedes team is likely to be the death knell for his career.
A famous Texan, billionaire Ross Perot, once described the prospect of American jobs being lost overseas as a "giant sucking sound." How sad it will be if that colorful phrase is soon applied to the Formula One career of Lewis Hamilton that is vanishing down the same black hole that swallowed Michael Schumacher's comeback.
Winning in Texas on Sunday put the million-dollar grin back on Hamilton's face, to match the sparkle from his diamond ear studs. It wasn't mere fatherly pride speaking when Anthony Hamilton called this "probably one of Lewis' greatest races ever."
Hamilton's emphatic overtake of Sebastian Vettel for the race lead on Lap 42 of 56, missing the Red Bull's right rear tire by inches as he swept past, came during his next-to-last Grand Prix for McLaren.
India to get 2nd F1 race? Rumor has it that Bernie Ecclestone "has been in talks about hosting a second Indian Grand Prix to improve the sport's chances of gaining a foothold in such a large country."
India's population of 1.2 billion makes it the world's second-most populous country after China. However, whilst China's interest in F1 has not run much deeper than its Grand Prix, India "had fielded two drivers and a team before it even had a race."
The Indian Grand Prix is only in its second year, and like many new races it has seen declining attendance. Ironically, its fortunes "could be boosted by there being another race in the country." Last month Ecclestone admitted that "a second race in India is a possibility." He said, "There's one or two places I have had a word with which could work." However, Ecclestone added that a second race "will only get the green light if attendance at the first race does not continue to decline" PIT PASS
Spanish HRT team to be bought by Chinese On Sunday, Spain’s El Periodico newspaper reports that the HRT F1 team could soon be purchased by a Chinese investor, although the team is not commenting on the matter at present.
“First of all, I want to thank every single team member for their outstanding professionalism and attitude during this Grand Prix,” says Team Principal Luis Pérez-Sala, who also had to suppress rumors that the squad was running potentially dangerous old parts on its cars.
“It hasn’t been easy but everyone has done a fantastic job and I am very proud of this team and its members. After a few races with one or the other car not being able to finish, it has been really good to see both Pedro and Narain getting to the end.
“Moreover, this two-car finish result has been particularly important for everyone’s morale and to face the last race of the season with confidence and high spirits.”
HRT entered F1 in 2010, then named as Hispania Racing and owned by Jose Ramon Carabante. Its current owner is Thesan Capital, which is behind Spain’s Banco Popular.
Indy Lights driver Gustavo Yacaman appears headed to a career in sports cars because there is no money to be made in IndyCar. In an interview on speed.com, Yacaman says he has sought the council of a few racing veterans to help form his decision, asking whether he should follow his passion to Indy cars or take the pragmatic approach with sports cars.
“I asked (HVM Racing team owner) Keith Wiggins what he thought because he’s looking at the same situation himself, and he said right now there’s more money to be spent in IndyCar than made there, and more to be made than spent in sports cars. And I asked Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ozz Negri, Michael Shank and a lot of guys what they think is the right move.
Barcelona 'Leading Candidate' To Host Spain's Formula E Series Race Barcelona "is the leading candidate" to host the Spanish race of the new Formula E, according to Mundo Deportivo. The new series, created by motorsports governing body FIA, is "reserved for electronic cars" and will make its debut in '14. Barcelona's profile as a leading city in new technology, and its long standing tradition of hosting motorsports competitions make it a leading candidate. Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag would not divulge the Spanish city with which the organization is negotiating but said, "We are negotiating with a Spanish city, and everything is moving in the right direction." He reiterated that the new series was in no way looking to compete with F1. Agag: "In no way do we want to compete with F1. We want to offer an escape for all the actors in the electronic cars sector and contribute to its growth through competition." Mundo Deportivo
Toro Rosso, Force India to change engines for 2014 (GMM) Toro Rosso will switch to Renault power for the start of F1's new V6 engine era in 2014.
That is the claim of the authoritative German specialist publication Auto Motor und Sport, reporting that the Red Bull-owned team will end its long association with supplier Ferrari after the V8 era concludes late next year.
Red Bull Racing, the energy drink's premier F1 team, is Renault's 'works' partner, running major branding of Renault partner Nissan's luxury arm Infiniti.
And also according to Auto Motor und Sport, "there are rumors Force India will in 2014 change from Mercedes to Ferrari engines".
Two IndyCar drivers high on Bobby Rahal's list Now that his son Graham has been signed, rumor has it that two other drivers high on Bobby Rahal's list for the second car at RLL are Ryan Briscoe and Justin Wilson.
F1 mulls launch of American junior series, will kill IndyCarUPDATE #2
On road and street circuits a GP2 car will smoke an IndyCar
Another reader writes, Dear AR1.com, The news that GP2 Series might come to the USA should send shockwaves through 16th and Georgetown. Any business must always be looking at potential threats to their business, and the possibility of a GP2 Series here would be a significant threat to the IndyCar Series (not so much the Indy 500).
Here is how I see this threat affecting the series. The overwhelming majority of drivers in the IndyCar Series are "ride buyers". Meaning the drivers bring the sponsorship and they take that sponsorship to "hire" a team to provide them with a racing program. It costs about $6 million to run an IndyCar team these days, and drivers need to bring anywhere from $2.5 - $5 million to a team. Many of the European drivers that are trying to get into F1 will go through GP2 first and they will typically have to bring $1 - $1.5 million in sponsorship. You can see the difference in price between GP2 and IndyCar.
Rahal to drive for his father's teamUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will formally introduce Graham Rahal as its new 2013 driver Wednesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 23-year-old driver will be paired with his father, Bobby, the team's co-owner and winner of three championships along with the 1986 Indianapolis 500. Father and son paired together only once before in IndyCar, for a 12th-place finish in the 2010 Indy 500.
11/05/12 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. In an interview with Gordon Kirby, Bobby Rahal said that he hopes to run two cars next year for his son Graham and Takuma Sato plus a third car at Indianapolis.
"It's not been announced but it's virtually done," he said. "Graham will be with us and it's a three-year agreement. So it's a longterm agreement, which is great for us, great for Graham, and great for the series, and I think in the right environment Graham will do great. He needs to build the consistency and we will be there to help him do that.
"We're also working really hard to have a second program. Takuma would like to come back and I like Takuma a lot. We've got to get him to finish a little more, but he's an exciting guy to watch and when everything goes right he's right there. We want two drivers of winning capability on the team and I don't think there's any question that we'll have a third car at Indy. I don't think I'm interested in having three cars on a regular basis. That's a lot. It's hard enough to focus on two, let alone three on a full-time basis.
"But everybody has been working very hard to put ourselves in a position to once again battle for wins every race. We're here in IndyCar for the long run. I believe in it and I love it. It's great racing. Like I say, I love sports cars too and we've got two great programs. We don't need anything more."
NASCAR To kill off IndyCar at Mid-Ohio Next year there is a NASCAR Nationwide race at Mid Ohio August 17. That's 13 days after the IndyCar race. Fans probably cannot afford to buy tickets for both, which means, as we have seen in the past, the IndyCar race will die a slow death.
If NASCAR bought IndyCar and had a vested interest in it, they would not schedule both races so close together. As we speak, IndyCar is the #1 enemy to NASCAR.
USGP to sellout? The United States Grand Prix at Austin is close to a sell-out crowd, with organizers at the Circuit of the Americas expecting around 110-120,000 spectators to flock through the gates on race day. Added to the large Sunday estimate, the various grandstands and grass verges are set to be well-populated for practice and qualifying.
"We expect 40-50,000 on Friday, 60-80,000 on Saturday and 110-120,000 on Sunday," a circuit spokesperson confirmed to GPUpdate.net on Monday afternoon.
According to the venue's official website, the 3.427-mi (5.516-km) circuit can house a total of 120,000 fans. Formula 1 is returning to America for the first time since 2007, when Lewis Hamilton triumphed for McLaren at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
AR1.com has written numerous times how Bernie Ecclestone and Ron Dennis set CART star Michael Andretti up to fail to make CART look inferior to F1. At the time CART was threatening F1 and Bernie was worried.
Michael Andretti tells Gordon Kirby: "We tested in Spain the day after the race that year and both me and Ayrton were within a tenth of a second of each other and were running times that would have put us on the front row. Ayrton had qualified third and I was about 20th. So I was saying, 'I'm not doing anything different. How can this be?' And they were saying, 'Oh, Ayrton doesn't test that fast.' And I said, 'But our times are quick enough today to be on the front row.'."
Penske not buying Indy Roger Penske, Keselowski’s car owner who is seeking his first Cup championship, said he won’t be a bidder if the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is offered for sale. [Editor's Note: However, it is the IndyCar Series that needs to be sold, not the race track, so this author is confused.]
The IMS Corp. has hired an outside consulting firm to conduct a strategic business review and recently fired IndyCar series CEO Randy Bernard, who had talked to PIR about a 2014 race.
“Not at all, no,” said Penske, whose team has a record 15 Indy 500 wins.
“It’s (racetracks) not our core business. We want to be there to compete, but we don’t want to have any ownership.” AZCentral.com
Franchitti's wife Ashley Judd running for Senate in Kentucky?
2012 Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti and his wife Ashley Judd
IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti's wife Actress Ashley Judd isn't ruling out a run for U.S. Senate in Kentucky.
The former Kentuckian is an active supporter of Tennessee Democrats. She said in a statement Friday that she's honored to be mentioned as a potential candidate, but she sidestepped the question of whether she would get into the race.
"I cherish Kentucky, heart and soul, and while I'm very honored by the consideration, we have just finished an election, so let's focus on coming together to keep moving America's families, and especially our kids, forward," she said.
This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today as we predicted it would be when this rumor first surfaced back in July. The France family does not like its stars bringing added publicity to the enemies biggest race. If NASCAR buys IndyCar then, yes, they would encourage their drivers to do both events, but as long as they have no financial stake in IndyCar then they would just as soon see the enemy dead.
The Indianapolis 500 is fading into the background for Danica Patrick, who has decided not to attempt the race next season, after all.
Several people familiar with her plans told The Associated Press that Patrick has decided against trying to run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next May because it would detract from her NASCAR efforts. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because Patrick has not officially announced her intentions.
"There's nothing I can say at this time," Patrick told the AP on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway.
Stewart reportedly signed Kevin Harvick to driveUPDATE #2 Richard Childress was visibly upset as he stood next to grandson Ty Dillon's black truck during Friday's qualifying at Phoenix International Raceway. It had nothing to do with Dillon's chances to win the Camping World Truck Series championship, trailing James Buescher by 15 points with two races remaining. It had everything to do with an ESPN.com report that Sprint Cup driver #29-Kevin Harvick has signed a multi-year deal to begin driving for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.
"I've got a contract for 2013 and this is 2012," the owner of Richard Childress Racing said of his deal with Harvick. "I'm not talking to you about nothing [regarding that]. Too far out." Asked if Harvick had told him he will not drive for RCR beyond 2013, Childress barked, "You need to go talk to them people. Don't talk to me about it. If you want to talk to me about [the truck] championship, I'll talk about it. But don't talk to me about anything else."
Aston Martin on the blocks Aston Martin's controlling shareholder, Investment Dar Co., has approached potential buyers for the maker of luxury sports cars featured in James Bond movies, five people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg.
The Kuwaiti company, which owns 64 percent of Aston Martin, has hired Rothschild to advise on the sale, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., the Indian automaker, is among potential suitors Investment Dar has approached in recent few months, two of the people said.
McLaren chief: Hamilton regrets Mercedes move The head of McLaren believes Lewis Hamilton rushed into a decision to leave the team and regrets moving to Formula One rival Mercedes.
Hamilton will end his 14-year association with McLaren at the end of this season after signing a three-year contract with Mercedes, where he will look to add to his world title from 2008.
The Briton made his career choice days after retiring from the Singapore Grand Prix on Sept. 23 with gearbox failure. McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says "it is always bad to make a decision in the aftermath of a bad race."
Whitmarsh says Friday on F1's website that "I think he has on occasions" regretted the move to Mercedes, which has won one race in three seasons. AP News
Danica Patrick in limbo with Go DaddyUPDATE #3 When NASCAR sponsor Go Daddy recently hired an outside agency to create its Super Bowl commercials for next year, it raised speculation that NASCAR star Danica Patrick would no longer star in those ads.
Not so, Go Daddy founder Bob Parsons said Thursday. During a press conference to announce a charitable program to help injured veterans, Parsons said that Patrick will appear in both of Go Daddy’s 30-second Super Bowl commercials in February. Patrick, the most successful female driver in IndyCar history, has appeared in more Super Bowl commercials (10) than any other celebrity.
Parsons said next year would mark the ninth straight year that Patrick will appear in Go Daddy’s Super Bowl commercials.
IndyCar will get bodykits in 2014 Aero kits – a key original component of the 2012 car plan for IndyCar as a means of providing some differentiation between cars and manufacturers – are still under consideration for the IZOD IndyCar Series, according to newly appointed CEO Jeff Belskus. However, he says a final decision on the subject remains some way off.
"That's an on-going conversation," Belskus told this week's AUTOSPORT magazine. "I don't know that I can set a timeline for when it will be resolved."
World Rally Championship to get new timekeeper Motorsports governing body FIA "is in talks to replace World Rally Championship's current timekeeper Stage One with SIT," according to Markus Luttgens of Motorsport-Total.com. Despite the criticism of manufacturers and organizers, FIA has decided to change WRC's official timekeeper. Spanish-based company Sistemas Integrales de Telecomunicacion (SIT) "will replace current timekeeper Stage One Technology in '13 to provide timing at WRC races." FIA said in a statement: "FIA has entered exclusive negotiations with Sistemas Integrales de Telecomunicacion to provide the timing and safety tracking services for the FIA World Rally Championship from 2013." Motorsport-Total.com
This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Martin Whitmarsh says McLaren will continue to use Mercedes engines for the foreseeable future -despite becoming a customer team for the first time in over two decades.
Mercedes sold their stake in McLaren after purchasing Brawn GP in 2010 and from next season the Woking-based team will have to pay for their engines.
That led to speculation the team could seek an alternative engine supplier with rumors of a link up with Honda - whose engines McLaren last used in 1992 - when the new 1.6 turbo regulations are introduced in 2014.
Overheard in Baltimore - FridayUPDATE #2 E.J. Viso expects to return to the IndyCar Series for a sixth season, but he said Monday that his plans will come into focus once he finalizes sponsorship back in his home country of Venezuela.
“I need to know that first, then I can determine team, engine and engineers,” he said. “It all comes from that.”
Viso said he'd like to form a team from scratch, but that “is very ambitious.” So, he'll look to partner with an existing team.
“At least this year it's more safe,” he said. “Both parties benefit.” AutoWeek
Greece eyeing F1 raceUPDATE #6 The man leading "controversial plans" to construct a potential F1 racetrack in debt-stricken Greece has defended the project and said "my life's work" will benefit rather than burden the country, according to Graham Wood of REUTERS. Last month, Greece's Ministry of Development confirmed it had "unblocked a European funding subsidy" of €29.5M ($37.8M) for the construction of an int'l-standard racetrack that could be used for staging F1. The track will be built in Chalandritsa near the western port city of Patras. The ministry estimated the cost at €94.6M, ($121M), 70% of which is to be funded by private investment company Racetrack Patras. Racetrack Patras Head Evangelos Floratos said, "Critics in the foreign media believe that the state will subsidize the circuit running cost, this is a false idea." Floratos will "oversee the project to build the track," which he hopes can act as a testing center for F1 teams.
New USA sponsors coming to F1 My spies in the F1 paddock are telling me that there are going to be several big sponsorship announcements in the lead up to Austin, and at the Grand Prix itself. Logically one would conclude that the firms concerned will probably be US multinationals with the kind of global interests that F1 can help to develop.
It is still not clear who will be involved but a few months ago there were lots of rumors of Coca-Cola. The main brand does not really make sense in F1 because the product already has an amazing global footprint, but one can imagine the company using one of its many other brands, particularly its energy drinks, as this dement of the market is where Red Bull is dominant.
Barrichello to SSM, Fuzzy to extend with CarpenterUPDATE As it turns out Ed Carpenter Racing had a three-year contract with Fuzzy’s starting last year. Now, we're hearing Fuzzy’s might be doing some other things within INDYCAR for next year. But nothing is confirmed.
11/05/12 According to AR1.com sources, rumor has it that Rubens Barrichello will end up at Sam Schmidt Motorsports alongside Simon Pagenaud.
Also from the IndyCar rumor mill, we head that Fuzzy's has extended their sponsorship deal with Ed Carpenter out for three more years.
F1 teams use foul language to hide secrets (GMM) F1 teams and drivers use foul language to hide crucial race tactics and information from their rivals, according to the Guardian newspaper.
The topic of swearing hit the headlines after Sunday's Abu Dhabi grand prix, when Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel both swore during their podium interview with former F1 driver David Coulthard.
Winner Raikkonen recalled the media giving him "sh*t" for not smiling enough after his previous victories, while Vettel used the F-word not only with Coulthard but also in the post-race press conference.
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