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Fernandez Racing back with PJ Chesson According to SPEEDTV.com, it appears Adrian Fernandez is back in the Indy Racing League with P.J. Chesson. "There's a lot of paperwork flying around and it looks like a legitimate multi-year deal with a solid sponsor," said Tom Anderson, the co-owner of Fernandez Racing. "I'd say right now it's about 75-25 it's going to happen."
Honda in worldwide sales boomUPDATE Here is the Forward from the book The Honda Myth: The Genius and His Wake. The names of the big Japanese consumer-products companies--Sony, Toshiba, Toyota and the like--are well known to virtually all Americans. But the men who built these world-class companies, and the stories behind how they did it, remain largely obscure in the world’s largest consumer nation. Now Masaaki Sato, Japan’s foremost automotive journalist, lifts the obscurity from the men who founded Honda Motor Co. during Japan’s lean years in the wake of World War II.
By 1954, when the company went public, Honda was the dominant motorcycle manufacturer in Japan. But the company’s sales soon plunged, partly due to quality problems. Mr. Honda responded by setting plans to enter the world’s most prestigious and demanding motorcycle race: England’s Isle of Man TT.
The goal rallied employees to improve quality, even though it took five years before Honda actually entered the race. The company’s motorcycles placed sixth, but just two years after that Honda shocked the motorcycle world by sweeping the top five positions. Thus began a pattern: racing would inspire product advancements and generate publicity, both of which propelled Honda’s increasing sales success.
12/19/06 Honda Motor Co. said Tuesday it expects worldwide sales to rise 5 percent to an all-time high of 3.55 million vehicles this year amid booming overseas demand partially brought on by its worldwide F1 involvement.
Atlantic cars to be faster The team manager for the Forsythe Atlantic team, John Brunner, predicts that the Champ Car Atlantic cars will be faster in 2007 with the new Cooper Tires.
"This tire is going to be wonderful for the series. It's a softer compound, so it cures one of the handling problems with the Atlantic car right off the bat. But also it peaks pretty quick, quicker than the Yokohama did. Once it peaks, like I said, it peaks very quickly, it just levels out and it's going to be a wonderful race tire. I'm looking forward to it. I think the racing is going to be better.
"I think this tire will also bring some strategy back into qualifying because the tire does peak quicker. These guys are going to have to go out and get their qualifying lap in immediately on new tires, which is going to bring a little strategy into the qualifying sessions.
"The Atlantic car, the 08 and the 014, the new car before, and the new car, the 016, those cars have always understeered. This new softer tire has helped that right away. It's taken a lot of the understeer away from the car. Makes the car probably easier to drive in some situations, but it's balanced the car, which is nice. You're able to start going some other directions on some of your other setup stuff because you're not always chasing this understeering situation.
"I think the cars, ultimately everyone will be faster. I think the cars will be faster. The tire wears wonderful. These tires go forever. It's a really nice combination with the car and the tire."
Tremblant event not without its challenges After being pushed out of Montreal by NASCAR's deep pockets, Champ Car is faced with several challenges for its Mont-Tremblant event. Certainly Mont-Tremblant will be more scenic, and a driver favorite, but for the event to be a success, the following must be overcome:
1- The 1st of July in Canada is Canada Day where most people tend to be with their families. They also attend various outdoor activities to celebrate Canada Day. Therefore attendance will be effected unless the promoter can get families to the race.
2- The 1st of July in the Province of Québec is traditionally called "moving day". This is the day that a lot of apartment leases end (so much so that there is usually a shortage of moving trucks).
3- The metro system offered the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve a great deal of walk-up general admission. These people decide to attend the event on the very morning of the race. With Tremblant a 1.5 hour drive (without traffic) away, walk-up crowds will be either small or nonexistent unless the promoters can get families to Mont Tremblant during this holiday weekend.
4- Speaking of traffic, the road leading to the main entrance of the track is quite narrow. Spectators will have to be VERY VERY patient before getting to their seats.
Anheuser-Busch to drop NASCAR sponsorshipUPDATE #4 “We are starting the process of finding a new title sponsor and executives at Anheuser-Busch have decided to pursue another direction in their marketing of the Busch brand,” said Andrew Giangola, NASCAR’s director of business communications.
Several companies have already made inquiries about taking Busch’s place, including Wal-Mart, Samsung and Subway, the Observer has learned. Subway is considered the least likely of the three, sources said, although it does already sponsor a Nextel Cup Series team and two races, at Martinsville, Va., and Phoenix.
Other companies could enter the picture as NASCAR’s search expands, officials said.
12/18/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today - see Hot News page. This is major bad news for NASCAR because the "Busch" series was a branded name. Maybe this is why Brian France was rumored to be driving drunk recently - he's drowning his sorrows as NASCAR under his leadership is taking a definite downturn on all fronts - sponsorship, TV ratings and attendance. To be clear he was not charged with drunk driving but he did admit he had a drink(s) but the police never tested him.
The company began sponsoring the series in 1982, when the series was called the NASCAR Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series. It was changed to the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series in 1984 and then the NASCAR Busch Series in 1995.
09/28/06 Monster Energy Drink is not owned by Anheuser-Busch like Jayski reports, but rather by Hansens Natural. The reason he is likely confused is that Hansens recently signed a distribution arrangement with Anheuser-Busch.
09/28/06 Jayski reports hearing that the Monster Energy drink, which is owned by Anheuser-Busch, will be the new sponsor of the 'Busch' Series.
09/25/06 The NASCAR Busch Series is expected to have a new title sponsor in 2008, multiple sources close to ongoing negotiations told NASCAR.COM on Saturday at Dover International Speedway.
Potential replacement candidates were not disclosed NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter confirmed that 2007 is the final year of the existing contract between Anheuser-Busch and NASCAR, while stressing that discussions about the future are ongoing.
"All I can tell you is we're working on 2007, and Busch is certainly a part of that," Hunter said. "We're in discussions about the future."
The sources, each of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, all agreed that Anheuser-Busch is re-evaluating the Busch brand's status as title sponsor of NASCAR's second-highest series, and where it fits in the company's overall marketing strategy.
Tony Ponturo, Anheuser-Busch vice president of global media and sports marketing, said nothing of the sort.
"We haven't even begun negotiations," Ponturo said Saturday. "Renewal negotiations begin next spring." NASCAR.com
Briatore won’t replace Ecclestone (GMM) The president of Renault's F1 team has played down undying speculation that Flavio Briatore is first in line to succeed Bernie Ecclestone as the sport's next 'supremo'.
Alain Dassas said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper 'Marca' that he doubts Briatore, 56, will ever stroll the paddock in 75-year-old Ecclestone's white shirt.
"Flavio is an excellent manager," Frenchman Dassas said, "who creates an atmosphere and a team spirit like I have never known before.
"But as for replacing Ecclestone ... I don't think he is the kind of person who would want that position.
"I can't see it happening."
Dassas also described Briton Ecclestone as an "intelligent" and "sagacious" man but stopped short of predicting for how much longer he will run the sport.
He also responded to suggestions that Bernie, together with FIA president Max Mosley, rule Formula One as if it were a dictatorship.
Dassas said: "I tell you an anecdote -- a journalist once asked Bernie if he thought he and Max are a 'kind of Mafia'.
"Bernie amusingly responded: 'Wrong. We are not 'a kind of Mafia', we are the Mafia'."
Alonso test cost McLaren $2.6m - reportUPDATE (GMM) Flavio Briatore has rejected reports that said the Renault boss put a hefty price-tag on Fernando Alonso's one-day McLaren test last week.
Some sources claimed that with the Spanish world champion remaining under contract until the last day of 2006, Briatore demanded more than $2.5 million from counterpart Ron Dennis so that Alonso could make an unbranded debut at Jerez last Friday.
Renault's Briatore insisted to the Spanish newspaper Diario As, however, that the temporary contract release was in recognition of their joint achievements and respect.
"Fernando has been with us for five years," 56-year-old Briatore said, "and in that time obtained two world titles.
"For that reason alone, and because he asked me for permission to test with his new team, I was happy to let him do it.
"There is nothing else to it."
Italian Briatore, meanwhile, said he is happy that the year is now in its last days.
He explained: "For me, 2006 has been stressful and I also had problems with my health. Fortunately, everything has ended well."
12/17/06 (GMM) Fernando Alonso's eleventh-hour release to test for McLaren last Friday came with a hefty price tag, according to reports.
Germany's 'Bild-Zeitung' claims that although Flavio Briatore said he and the Spaniard still enjoy "a very good relationship", the Italian probably still demanded that McLaren pay for the privilege of using a Renault employee for the Jerez test.
Danica Patrick taking over IndyCar According to the GoDaddy.com ad to the right Danica Patrick is taking over IndyCar racing. Does this mean it's already predetermined that she will win and win big in 2007?
Another ex-F1 team owner eyes Champ Car Paul Stoddart, who today announced he was bringing the Minardi F1 name to Champ Car had nothing but good things to say about the series and says others are taking notice as well. In fact he said another ex-F1 team owner is quietly having a serious look at Champ Car. For other highlights of the press conference, see this article.
Stoddart set to announce Champ Car teamUPDATE #16 This long running rumor is finally upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement. Stoddart admitted that there could be major Dutch interest in Minardi Team USA in 2007. Stoddart confirmed that Dutch businessman Harry Muermans will also have an association with the team. "Harry Muermans is not just a business partner but also a friend of mine," said Stoddart, and he will have some involvement in the team. The exact nature of this has not yet been finalized. "Regarding drivers, Jos Verstappen and I go back a long way, and I think he'd be an asset to the team and to the series. We're also talking to Robert Doornbos, who I think is a very talented driver." "Expect an exciting announcement in the New Year," Stoddart said to a Dutch journalist. He also mentioned interest in Robert Doornbos, another Dutch driver.
11/23/06 In this Dutch article written by Jos Verstappen he says that he plans to race in Champ Car in 2007 and his manager is talking to several teams. We still believe he will drive for Paul Stoddart. Verstappen also said in de Telegraaf he will be in Champ Car next year.
11/12/06 We spoke to CTE Racing-HVM team boss Keith Wiggins (Pictured right and happy to be surrounded by two lovely ladies) today in Mexico City and he told AutoRacing1.com, "Everything is falling into place and the deal with Paul Stoddart should be done soon. We hope to run 3 and perhaps 4 cars and we hope to keep our existing two drivers plus whoever Paul brings in."
Wiggins described the deal as more of a joint venture between the two, though he did not specifically use those words when we spoke to him. The 3 or 4 cars will all be run out of the existing facility in Indianapolis and Cedric The Entertainer will still be involved. Wiggins seemed quite enthusiastic about the deal and said, "Paul and I gelled right away and we agree on many things of how the team should be run." He could not tell us the exact date of the announcement but he'll be in Brazil on holiday next weekend when the Champ Car banquet is held, so he doubts the announcement will be made then. We have updated our 2007 Champ Car Silly season page
Stoddart to be announced MondayUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement - see Hot News page.
12/15/06 The Champ Car World Series will have an ownership announcement regarding one of its teams on Monday. Champ Car President Steve Johnson, as well as the ownership of the team (believed to be CTE Racing - HVM) will make the announcement. We hear that this will probably be the long awaited Paul Stoddart announcement.
Dyson to run PorschesUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement - see Hot News article. Butch Leitzinger will team with Andy Wallace in one of the two Dyson Porches and Guy Smith and Chris Dyson in the other.
12/18/06 AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that Butch Leitzinger will team with Andy Wallace in one of the two Dyson Porsches.
12/18/06 According to The SPEED Report , Dyson Racing will run two Porsche LMP2 customer cars in the 2007 ALMS Series. Penske Racing will continue to run the factory effort.
Lester’s Cup hopes dim Bill Lester's chances of landing a Nextel Cup ride in 2007 have dimmed with news that he has left the Bill Davis Racing fold to sign a full-time Craftsman Truck Series deal with #15-Billy Ballew Motorsports. Lester, who became the first black driver to start a Nextel Cup race in 20 years when he qualified for the March race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway had been looking at securing a limited Cup program at least in 2007 with BDR and Toyota, for whom he has driven the last couple of Truck seasons with. However now that Lester has left the BDR fold that now looks unlikely. While Lester has at least secured a full time ride in one of the top three NASCAR series, Billy Ballew Motorsports do not have a Cup or Busch Series program and Lester must now seek occasional Cup outings around his NCTS commitments. crash.net
Hamilton will surprise According to former McLaren man Jo Ramirez, new McLaren recruit, Lewis Hamilton, should fare well up against current double world champion, Fernando Alonso, in the upcoming 2007 Formula One championship series. Speaking to Autosprint, Ramirez, is completely confident that Lewis will surprise everyone when he takes the series by storm.
"He will be the surprise of the season, he is intelligent and working next to Alonso means he will be able to learn quickly and under the best possible conditions. The fight against Alonso will be good for him and he won't be crushed because McLaren are preparing him in the best possible way,” Ramirez told Autosport.
Ferrari to win titles in 2007 - president (GMM) Luca di Montezemolo has expressed confidence that Ferrari will win the world championships in 2007.
Even without Michael Schumacher and Ross Brawn for the first time in a decade, the Maranello based outfit's president vowed to improve next year on Ferrari's second places in the drivers' and constructors' titles of 2006.
"In the coming year we will bring the World Championship back to Ferrari," the 59-year-old Italian told the broadcaster 'RAI', "because we boast extraordinarily good people."
Overheard in Mexico - IIUPDATE Confirming what we heard in Mexico City, AutoRacing1.com has confirmed that Champ Car will have a 2006 yearbook, but it will not be published by Autocourse as in the past, but by a company out of Kentucky. Autocourse had three different owners over the past four or five years and it was becoming increasingly expensive to produce the books in England. Hence the switch. Jeremy Shaw is once again doing the bulk of the writing chores. The decision on the new publisher was made fairly late so it won't be out for Christmas (which will hurt sales) -- actually probably not much before the start of next season -- but it is in the process. And hopefully it will be promoted a little better this time. Mark C.
11/11/06 Hearing that Champ Car will not have an Autocourse yearbook to capture the 2006 season but that the book will be published by another company......Rain hit the track at 4:30 PM today and word is that it will rain tonight and Sunday morning but clear up by race time.......Hearing that former CART Chaplain Father Phil is back in the states and currently in Illinois checking out where he will be stationed after his stint at the Vatican is over next year......Heard that Dreyer & Reinbold will probably stay in the IRL as Honda and the IRL need the car count, but another source said they could have a foot in both series, which we doubt......Continue to hear that a third Forsythe car is a definite possibility in 2007 as previously reported......Hearing that a potential investor is looking at possibly buying into the Conquest Racing team, though Eric Bachelart won't comment, but did tell us we will be just fine next year.
Minority NASCAR team to fold? The only team that is owned by minorities in NASCAR, World Racing Team (WRT), may have to shut its doors. The team raced in just one event this past season, the Busch series opener at Daytona in February, but their day ended early when the car crashed. Still the team does not own a single car, nor a garage, and had hoped to rent both from an existing team. However, as corporate interest in NASCAR begins to wane, sponsorship never materialized despite NASCAR's insistence that it is building a minority program, and the team remains a paper storefront.
FIA set to slam Super AguriUPDATE The article below has been corrected. We made a mistake in comparing the Super Aguri to the Toyota when in fact Super Aguri is an offshoot of the Honda team. A side shot of the Honda has been added and it's clear the two cars are as near 100% identical as the human eye can make out.
12/16/06 Customer cars are not yet allowed in F1 and when the interim for 2007 Super Aguri F1 car appeared for testing at Jerez recently it appears, but for one minor aero appendage difference, to be an exact duplicate of Honda's 2006 car. It was the talk at recent testing.
Honda left and Super Aguri right - Can you tell the difference?
Honda, and especially Toyota, are not capable of producing a winning car in F1, so it appears they have both created a junior team that can run a duplicate car so they can side skirt the testing rules by using the junior team to test more variations on the same car in the attempt to make a car that can run at the front.
We are seeing the Red Bull team trying to pull a similar stunt with the Toro Rosso team. Expect this issue to come to a head in F1 before long.
Hot ticket sales may require more grandstands Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is used to hosting major events -- it's been the home of the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix since 1978 -- so it's no surprise that with eight months to go before the Busch Series makes its Canadian debut, few changes need to be made to the track on the Ile Notre-Dame.
The track's Web site is busy selling tickets for seats in grandstands temporarily named after some of NASCAR's greatest drivers.
Want to see the action in the pits and the start-finish line? Pick either the Petty or Waltrip stands, although the cars will still funnel into the Ayrton Senna corner. Other stands have been named Allison, Pearson, Wallace, Jarrett and Johnson -- the reference there is probably to 50-time winner Junior and not 2006 Nextel Cup champion Jimmie.
"The response has been overwhelming," Busch Series director Joe Balash said. "One of the good challenges we have right now is they're talking about adding additional grandstands because of the response of people wanting to buy tickets.
"It's very unique. It's the first time we've had a chance to race on a circuit that's on an island. It's a very beautiful facility. The city is very accommodating. It's going to be a really cool place to come watch a race." NASCAR.com
Career destroyed, Jourdain eyes WTCC Former Champ Car driver and race winner Michel Jourdain, Jr. thought that moving to NASCAR would be a panacea, so he threw away what career he built up and tried the move to the tin tops. Having failed miserably, and with his career in shambles, Jourdain is now hoping to secure a drive in the World Touring Car Championship next year in a SEAT Leon. "I believe that I have good chances to join SEAT for their 2007 campaign and I am very motivated," he said. "However, there are still some things to be defined and the final decision is up to SEAT Mexico."
Servia eyes 3rd PKV seat With rookies Neel Jani and Clivio Piccione looking set for PKV Racing's first two seats in 2007, word is that the team may want to have a veteran too. Servia admits he is in the hunt. "It's certainly not out of the question that I could be part of PKV again next year. But if not I have options with a couple of other teams, and I have sponsorship opportunities too. It's too early to say where I will be, but I am hopeful to be in Champ Cars," Servia told Autosport.
Goodyear workers strike back On Saturday, December 16 at 10:00 a.m., consumer, labor and community activists will join striking United Steelworkers (USW) Goodyear employees to protest Goodyear's assault on the living standards of its workers and abandonment of its retirees at the Goodyear Tire store in Greenwood, Indiana.
The effort which is part of a nationwide AFL-CIO-USW Day of Action in more than 100 locations -- is intended to educate the public about the company's proposal to cut jobs and drastically scale back health care coverage for Goodyear workers and retirees.
Some 15,000 experienced Goodyear workers at 16 facilities were forced out on strike Oct. 5 due to the company's demands to gut their health care, close factories and increase tires being imported from China and other low-wage countries; even after the workers took steps to help the Goodyear get through a rough time in 2003, when it was on the brink of bankruptcy.
Busch to replace Speed in ROCUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' There will be no replacement for Scott Speed in the Race of Champions. The USA team is unable to get any US drivers there in time.... Marco has "team obligations." Therefore Travis Pastrana will run as both a rally driver and a race driver and will be Team USA's lone entry.
12/15/06 Scott Speed has been forced to pull out of tomorrow's Race of Champions event in Paris following his Formula One testing accident at Jerez yesterday where he suffered a sprained hand/wrist.
"Unfortunately the doctor is not allowing Scott to do the event," said Race of Champions co-organizer Fredrik Johnsson.
"We're currently looking for a replacement to join the USA team. We have been in contact with Kurt Busch. He wants to come, he's trying to change some engagements he has, and if it all works out he will be here tomorrow morning in time for some practice."
Biffle’s crash due to yet another junk Goodyear failure?UPDATE Greg Biffle will soon begin rehabbing the right shoulder he dislocated when he had a tire blow at Las Vegas last week when he was doing a Goodyear test with Kyle Busch. "They said it looks good. They did the MRI on it and they saw that it was dislocated off the back. I’ve had front dislocations from wrestling and stuff like that so I’ve had a bad shoulder so this just added to the problem. There are some corrective surgeries that a person can do and I’ve elected not to do any of those in the past, but possibly I may look at doing something at the end of this (2007) season. It’s definitely going to be fine to drive, I probably could drive now if I absolutely had to but certainly I’ll feel better in two or three more weeks. "Thursday was the first night I had my sling off. So, probably in about three or four more days I’ll start some rehabilitating stuff like pulling on rubber bands. There are four muscles that hold your shoulder in the socket and those are all stretched out so the best thing to do is get those strengthened before you start lifting weights or anything else." PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show
12/14/06 There have been a plethora of crashes in NASCAR in recent years as a result of Goodyear tire failures. Goodyear likes to blame the team who it usually accuses of running improper air pressures, very low air pressures. However, the number of crashes due to right front tire failures is alarming.
Greg Biffle is among the walking wounded these days after separating his shoulder last week at Las Vegas, crashing during a Goodyear tire test. Biffle doesn't remember anything. "I don’t know what happened. The guys heard the tire blow in the pits, in the garage. Boom!, they heard it. Then four seconds later they heard it hit the fence and I went all the way around the corner unconscious before I woke up. I woke up on the backstretch...I crashed in turn one you know so it was big. We don’t know what happened to the tire, they are obviously looking at it. Did it cut, did we run over something on the racetrack, did the tire fail? You just don’t know. Problem is with issues like that when they blow out and hit the fence and they catch on fire there’s nothing left to inspect. The right rear tire looks fine and all the left side tires look good, so we don’t know. You can’t blame the tire until you really analyze what might have happened." PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show
In most other racing series Goodyear tires are no longer used by teams who have found them to be inferior is all aspects. However, NASCAR continues to protect Goodyear and allow them to be the exclusive tire supplier. But for how long? Will it take killing one of NASCAR's superstars before Goodyear is run out of the paddock? We like Biffle's description above, "in the pits and in the garage my team members could hear it go boom!" Boom indeed.
Ride-buyers beware: Pay upUPDATE Australian Racing Driver James Davison and his father Jon the Promoter of Sandown Raceway, are in receipt of a Press Release issued by Team Australia, which indicates that legal action is being taken against the Davisons in regard to monies allegedly outstanding for the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Program. The Davisons deny that there has been any default under the agreement and that any monies are owing. Attorneys have been briefed in Indiana to issue proceedings regarding illegal termination of the agreement and other breaches of the contract by Derrick Walker’s Company GFW LLC.
After a successful season in Formula BMW in 2005, the Davisons made a significant financial commitment to the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Series and are very disappointed in the Team Management’s performance in not fulfilling undertakings given. Testing was not forthcoming thereby adversely effecting James’ competitiveness. At no time was there any adequate or satisfactory explanation given by Team Australia.
At the Lexmark Indy Grand Prix, the Davisons endeavored to meet with Derrick Walker to discuss the issues, however he proved uncooperative. Throughout 2005/06 two Australian families, the Marshalls and Davisons invested significantly into the foundation of both the Champ Car and Atlantic Teams, however in a period of less than 12 months both families ended in dispute with Team Australia.
12/14/06 Another warning has gone out to Champ Car ride-buyers to pay up per your contract or you will find yourself in court. This has happened a number of times in Champ Car and now some teams require payment before they are allowed to step foot in the car.
However, that was not the case at Team Australia's junior team who will sue James Davison, and father Jon, claiming that the pair still owe money for the Australian's part season in the Champ Car Atlantic feeder series in 2006.
"It is very unfortunate that we were forced to take these steps, but default is a serious issue and, due to the lack of co-operation from the Davisons to honor their commitments made under our written agreement, is very clear," Walker stated.
Davison was dropped after the Denver Grand Prix when he failed to make all his payments.
"Team Australia was fortunate to be able to recruit Michael Patrizi to fill the Davison seat," Gore admitted, "We were lucky that Michael was willing to race the last two events for us in Montreal and Elkhart Lake - and he really did a great job considering it was very short notice."
Rest assured that Team Australia will collect its money from drivers up front going forward.
One down, two to go There are currently only three seats available in Formula 1. The Toro Rosso team has yet to confirm their two drivers and at Spyker F1 there is one seat available. According to Spyker F1 team boss Colin Kolles an announcement can be expected very soon. Speaking with F1Racing.net Kolles revealed about their second driver: "We expect to announce our second driver very soon. Probably next week."
More F1 testing for Mika? McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh says McLaren would consider allowing Mika Hakkinen to test on a more regular basis if the Finn wanted to follow up his run in its car last month.
Hakkinen indicated after his 79-lap run that he would be keen to have the chance to improve on his times in the future and Whitmarsh says that with the Finn still undecided on his plans for 2007, McLaren is open to further opportunities for its former driver. He is still seeking what he wants to do after being an F1 driver,” he was quoted as saying by this week’s Motorsport News newspaper.
“I’m sure he is disappointed after two years in the DTM and is wondering whether it challenges him enough.
“If he wants to come and have a go every six months, then we would take it seriously and would be open to considering it.
“A mentor role had been considered for Lewis, but I don’t think it’s what he wants to do.”
Open wheel drivers a target in NASCAR For decades it has been said that open wheel drivers are the targets for crashes in NASCAR, especially rookies, to prove NASCAR drivers are the best. It's quite easy to wreck a driver in NASCAR because of all the contact that is termed "just part of the sport."
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that this year's #1 crash victim was J.J. Yeley who came out of the open wheel ranks. J.J. Yeley was second to Denny Hamlin in several statistical categories this season. Crashes wasn't one of them.
"J.J. is new to Nextel Cup. Next year it might be (incoming rookie) Juan Montoya," says Robby Gordon, who held the distinction as the most accident-prone driver in 2004. Other past victims that come to mind are Scott Pruett, John Andretti, and Paul Tracy. AJ Allmendinger and Jacques Villeneuve (if he moves to NASCAR) will be targets along with Montoya in 2007. Of course NASCAR may be protecting Montoya due to his "Hispanic" status because when Labonte wrecked him in Homestead late in the race in November he was summoned to the NASCAR trailer and given a stern talking to, and word went out that it's hands (bumpers) off Juan.
Some F1 teams unhappy Some of the F1 teams have expressed their dissatisfaction towards tire manufacturer Bridgestone as they found out that not all the teams will be treated equally next season. During a Team Boss meeting it became clear that some of the teams have to pay for the Bridgestone rubber as the other teams receive them for free. F1Technical.net
A1GP in serious troubleUPDATE #3 Rumor on the street is that the A1GP series asked Bernie Ecclestone for $120 million to keep the series afloat but that Bernie turned them down. This rumor comes from an unknown source and we are trying to verify it, though we don't expect anyone in the A1GP series will answer it. We do know that the series continues to bleed red-ink profusely.
12/08/06 Ever since the news in late September that Sheikh Maktoum was stepping down as Chairman and Director of the A1GP series we predicted the series was in serious trouble.
According to reports, there are at least two teams that won’t be back on the grid while yet another won’t be taking part in this week’s Indonesian event. Team Singapore, already in financial difficulties that required them be taken over and run by A1GP themselves, will not be on the grid at all. Added to that it is rumored that Team Turkey and Team Greece are likely finished.
Under new director Tony Teixeira there are reports of corrupt politics involved behind the scenes. The bottom line is that all the money wasted on a new series would have been much better spent in Champ Car, which was trying to develop a "country" type system of their own. Instead they went off and did their own thing and are losing a reported $200 million per year. Man the lifeboats, this ship is taking on water fast.
09/29/06 After admitting to losing $200 million last year, now comes word that the guy who started A1GP, Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al-Maktoum, and invested money in it, has quit. The sheikh is currently the chairman of the company that runs the series but it has now emerged that he is planning to sell his controlling interest in the business and is thus unlikely to remain involved.
"I'd like to thank all investors," he continued. "It is clear that A1, in and of itself, can attract and has attracted money, so I think A1 will continue to do so even without the involvement of myself, my family, or Dubai."
Recall that we told you a year ago that most of the money invested in A1GP is South African money. However, the Sheikh also had a major investment and was the head figure. The very astute Maktoum is no dummy, if he's bailing on the series he started, it does not bode well for A1GP.
Ford may scrap new plant plans Ford Motor Co. is delaying plans to build a new, low-cost assembly plant in North America and may abandon the plan entirely, Ford Americas President Mark Fields said Tuesday. Plans to build the facility were first outlined as part of Ford's restructuring plan in January. Fields said then the location for the new factory would be announced by the end of the year.
He said Tuesday no announcement will be made for the foreseeable future.
"We're still looking at it," Fields said after a pre-Detroit auto show event with reporters.
"We're still working through the business cases, still looking at the product plan and looking at how we're going to leverage more of our global resources. There's lots of moving parts."
He added that it is not "an absolute given" that Ford will build the plant. More at Detroit News
McDonald’s to run Bourdais AdUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today as in fact the McDonald's Champ Car Ad for Bourdais does appear on the back page of the sports section of today's USA Today. The ad references: http://www.champcarworldseries.com/mcdonalds/
12/12/06 Word is that McDonald's will run an advertisement on the back page of the Sports section of tomorrow's USA Today celebrating the third consecutive title earned by Sebastien Bourdais and Newman/Haas Racing.
Ford’s vote of non-confidenceUPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I don’t believe Dan Davis for a second. It is embarrassingly obvious he is leveraging the schedule as a way out of Champ Car. How can anyone at Ford imagine that the Internationalization of Champ Car is such a bad thing at this time, especially given that they are no longer in F1? Just what “other” International series would he have chosen? And at what cost? Only a fool would believe that Davis’s comments just happen to be coincident with the fact that Ford is in serious financial trouble right now. Just as always, when searching for the truth, just follow the money... Benjamin Quinby
Dear Ben, that may be why Ford is in such trouble. Their management still does not recognize that it's a global economy now and not everything revolves around the USA. Unfortunately some backward companies are still organized around geographies such that territorial fights impede global progress. For how little Ford is spending on Champ Car there isn't a better bang for their buck on a global basis anywhere. Mark C.
12/12/06 It seems that Ford Motorsport boss Dan Davis is not enamored that Champ Car may be branching out more overseas. “If I had wanted to back an international series,” says Ford Racing director Dan Davis to AutoWeek, “it wouldn’t have been Champ Car.” It appears it's time for Champ Car to find someone other than Ford to badge its Cosworth engines. Not only is Ford bleeding lots of red ink, they do very little to promote the series and have a NASCAR-centric motorsport boss who thinks the world revolves just around the USA.
Ferrari to pay Schu $6m in '07 (GMM) He may not turn a single wheel in anger, but retired seven time world champion Michael Schumacher will earn as much as twelve times more in 2007 than McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton.
That is the finding of Germany's best-selling tabloid newspaper Bild-Zeitung, which claims that 37-year-old Schumacher's role as a Ferrari 'assistant' next year comes with a $6m pay-check.
In contrast, rookie and GP2 champion Hamilton's salary at Mercedes-powered McLaren is reportedly a paltry $500,000, and a clause in his contract allows him to be replaced after every grand prix if he is not up to speed.
'Bild' said Schumacher's role will be to give advice to Jean Todt and possibly even occasionally test the Italian team's F1 cars.
But Schumacher said at the FIA gala awards last Friday: "The good thing is I don't need to know what I am going to do tomorrow any more.
"I have scheduled my life around motor racing for 30 years, so for at least six months I want no schedule and no plan."
'Bild' added that Kimi Raikkonen will make $25m next year, contrary to recent reports that said the Finn will simply take over Schumacher's Philip-Morris bolstered wage that tipped the scales at an estimated $50m.
Bild said world champion Fernando Alonso's McLaren salary is 'only' $20m.
"No one will ever again earn as much as Michael did," Schumacher's manager Willi Weber said.
St. Pete race in downward spiral It seems the IRL St. Petersburg race may not have much more of a future. The photos below show the reduced number of grandstands between 2005 and 2006.
2005 (L) vs. 2006 (R)
Now comes word in this year's ticket renewal form to their fans that even more grandstands may be removed in 2007. The letter to its fans read, "We are sending you this letter since our records reflect that you purchased reserved tickets last year in either Grandstand #23 or #24. Due to various issues, including those involving the proposed construction of the new park along the waterfront of St. Petersburg next to the Albert Whitted airport, we may not have Grandstands #23 or #24 available for the 2007 event. At this time, there has been no final decision and we are looking at several options, including offering Grandstands #23 and #24 as general admission seating if they are eventually constructed for the event. If you desire to renew your purchase of a reserved seat for the 2007 event, your only option at this time is to purchase seats in Grandstands #1-7 or #10. Please contact our Ticket Office at (727) 898.INDY ext. 225. All renewals made by December 31, 2006 will be available to receive a free IndyCar Series Paddock Pass."
Las Vegas race poised to be blockbusterUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Not only did the race promoter announce a title sponsor for the race today, but ticket sales to corporate sponsors are going so well for the Vegas Grand Prix that there was a worry that there would not be any grandstand seat availability for race fans so the promoter said today that they have decided to add 35% more seats and "it's the biggest event of this kind I have ever been involved with."
08/14/06 According to AutoRacing1.com, casinos are buying up tickets for Champ Car's 2007 inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix at a brisk rate, with over 20,000 already sold. Although the tickets have not gone on sale to the general public yet, casinos up and down the strip want to offer tickets to their best customers. Because the race is "downtown in Vegas" and not associated with a particular casino, the other casinos do not view the race as owned by a competing casino, hence the keen interest.
We also hear that potential sponsors of the series are showing an increased interest now that Champ Car will race in The City that Never Sleeps. We are told that the hospitality suites that will be built for the event will be superior to all other street circuits.
Vegas GP lands title sponsorUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
12/10/06 Las Vegas will get its first taste of the Vegas Grand Prix Monday, when Champ Car drivers Alex Figge and Ryan Dalziel participate in the announcement of the Vegas Grand Prix’s title sponsor. Figge and Dalziel will light up the streets Monday morning, driving the #28 and #29 Lolas on a portion of the actual Vegas Grand Prix circuit at the Casino Center on 4th Street and Ogden. In addition, Figge and Dalziel will be signing autographs from 1:00 – 2:00 pm on Freemont Street and 3rd street in front of the 3rd street stage. Pacific Coast Motorsports PR
12/06/06 Word on the street is that the owners of the Vegas Grand Prix will announce a race title sponsor for the Las Vegas GP Champ Car race on Monday. It is said to be a multi-year, multi-city partnership, which could mean the sponsor is also going to sponsor the Phoenix race in some capacity.
Champ Car races to be televised in South Africa Word is that negotiations are underway for all Champ Car races to be televised in South Africa. It would be the first time that the Series would be broadcast live on the African continent.
Van der Garde nears Aguri test seat (GMM) Dutch hopeful Giedo van der Garde could join the F1 circus in 2007, according to reports.
The 21-year-old, whose seat in the F3 Euroseries this year was partly funded by McLaren, is being linked with Japanese squad Super Aguri's vacant role as test driver.
"Within two or three weeks I expect clarity," the magazine Formula 1 Race Report quoted Giedo as saying.
A role at Super Aguri, however, is likely to rest on the outcome of negotiations with rival teams about the practice regulations in 2007. The Leafield based squad is pushing to make it mandatory for teams to run a 'Friday' driver next year.
If the rule remains unchanged, it is possible that Super Aguri will not sign a tester at all, despite the fact that team sources say talks are ongoing with up to three potential drivers.
Van der Garde's manager Benjamin Johl said: "We expect to be able to settle our plans next week and afterwards we will speak to the press."
McLaren sponsor says no to F1 for 2007 (GMM) 2006 McLaren sponsor 'Emirates' will reportedly not return to the Formula One grid next year.
British specialist magazine 'BusinessF1' writes that the airline's sponsorship of McLaren this year was a one-off, and the Dubai-based company also opted against switching its logo to the Honda F1 car in 2007.
The one-year McLaren deal included a clause allowing an extension, the magazine said, but Emirates declined.
With new main sponsor Vodafone arriving in 2007 to dominate the next McLaren livery, Emirates did, however, negotiate with Honda about next season, ostensibly to replace the departing 'Lucky Strike' cigarette sponsor.
But talks with the Brackley based squad, for an estimated $20-25m deal, ultimately failed.
Overheard in Surfers Sunday - IUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' for Champ Car standing starts in 2007. Per our latest article on the new rules for 2007, the 2007 Champ Car makes provisions for standing starts and Tony Cotman told AutoRacing1.com to look for them wherever they can be safely done. The Champ Car TV deal was announced at SEMA as rumored below and we expect Katherine Legge to be back in Champ Car as well.
10/21/06 We heard again there is a reasonable chance that Newman/Haas will run a 3-car team in 2007 for Sebastien Bourdais, Bruno Junqueira and Graham Rahal.
We are still hearing that Champ Car is planning on doing some standing starts next year. Did you know that Cosworth turns up the turbo boost for a short period of time when the pit lane launch control button is pressed? The short stroke 2.65L engine does not have a lot of torque and can easily stall when the tires are hot and there is a full fuel load. Turning up the boost increases torque to help overcome the friction of the tires and reduce the chance of stalling. Next year there will be no pop-off valve so Cosworth is looking at increasing the boost a bit more to help reduce the chance of stalling.
Champ Car may release next year's TV schedule at the upcoming SEMA show, which is before the Mexico City race. Some things still have to fall into place but we hear it will be a better TV package than this year and it will be multi-year.
Kevin Kalkhoven said he was not sure where Katherine Legge will drive next year for PKV Racing or another team. But he did lead us to believe she will still be driving in Champ Car. We here at AutoRacing1.com are still of the opinion that should Polestar move up to Champ Car next year, that is where she will race.
Rickard Rydell to Aston Martin? According to Swedish publication AutoMotorSport , Rickard Rydell is poised to return to sports cars next year. Rydell, who has driven for Prodrive in the past with its Ferrari 550 Maranellos, has apparently been offered a ride in one of the team’s Aston Martin DBR9s for 2007.
The offer could be for the entire American Le Mans Series and a ride in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, Prodrive and Aston Martin have yet to confirm its exact race program for 2007.
"It could be the entire ALMS or just the three main races. We don't know yet,” Rydell said. “I will get more information later on.”
How Champ Car/IRL can allow Honda/Ford to play A lot has been said about allowing Honda or another manufacturer back into Champ Car to compete against Ford for the fear of running costs up and ruining the series again. Ditto in the case of a merger between Champ Car and the IRL that could see Honda and Ford come together again.
Perhaps the system the V8 Supercar series just announced could work in Champ Car. It would require some keen auditors with sharp pencils but it certainly is doable.
Major V8 Supercar teams have been rocked by cuts that will slash their expenditure by up to 50 per cent next year and force a review of escalating driver salaries.
The sport yesterday announced an annual team budget limit of $6.75 million would apply from next year. And some teams, said to have been spending in excess of $12million a year, will be forced to cut staff.
Five major race teams - Holden Racing Team, Toll HSV Racing, Ford Performance Racing, Triple Eight Engineering and Stone Brothers Racing - will be directly affected by the cuts. Financial penalties of up to $1million as well as race penalties will be applied to teams for contravening the rules of the "Total Racing Expenditure Cap''.
With doubts about the ability of the sport to police the budgets, the penalties are expected to be the glue that holds the program together. Annual audits will be made and all team members will need to be registered, although allowances will be made for extraordinary items such as crash damage.
V8 Supercars Australia says the budgets are needed to ensure the long-term viability of the sport. Team owners yesterday cautiously supported the moves but asked for more time to study the proposals.
TV rights fight to stall Champ Car TV coverage The hugely popular V8 Supercars are in danger of being lost to the Surfers Paradise Indy because of a nasty wrangle over TV and race rights.
A bitter showdown is looming between key Queensland motorsport figures after Network Seven last week pulled out of its contract with the Gold Coast Motor Events Company to televise the Champ Cars at next year's Indy festival.
Instead, it has committed to only televising the V8 Supercars, which share equal billing on the Indy program with the US-based Champ Cars.
This would cut broadcasting coverage of the Indy festival from 11 to three hours.
The brawl over the Gold Coast Indy follows a decision yesterday by the Queensland Government to reject a grandiose plan from V8 Supercars for a marquee race through the streets of Townsville.
Commenting on the Cabinet decision not to proceed with Townsville, V8 Supercar boss Tony Cochrane dropped a bombshell about the future of the V8s on the Gold Coast, citing concerns with the Gold Coast Motor Events Company.
Rain may hit Indonesia raceUPDATE Due to current weather forecasts predicting heavy rainstorms to hit the Bogor region late this afternoon, the Feature race for today’s A1GP Sentul, Indonesia will begin 30 minutes early at 07.30 GMT. Unfortunately, A1GP’s live timing system and audio and visual web streaming have been suspended for this event. [Editor's Note: Maybe they didn't pay their bills]
12/09/06 The start of Sunday's feature race for the A1GP in Indonesia has been moved forward 30 minutes in attempt to avoid the heavy rains predicted for later Sunday afternoon. With only 25 or so people buying tickets for practice and qualifying, the promoter really needs a dry Sunday if there is any hope of selling some race tickets to reduce their huge losses.
Chinese trying to buy Ford unit HANGZHOU, China - Wanxiang, China's largest car-parts maker and one of its most acquisitive companies, is in talks with Ford to buy assets from the U.S. carmaker's troubled components arm.
Lu Guanqiu, founder and chairman of Wanxiang, said the talks were part of a plan to expand the company's global presence. But he would not say which assets it was interested in or whether a deal was imminent.
Mr. Lu said Wanxiang had also been in preliminary discussions this year with Delphi, the former General Motors parts-maker that is in bankruptcy proceedings, but there had been no material results from the talks.
"We have seen that the quality of [Ford's] assets is all right, but because of high labor costs the business is not always profitable," Mr. Lu told the FT.
Wanxiang is understood to be interested in acquiring Ford's advanced design and production technology and in improving prospects for distribution of its own car parts in the US. More at FT.com
WRC trying to steal Rossi The WRC is trying to steal Valentino Rossi from MotoGP. WRC commercial boss, David Richards, is keen to get the Italian to defect to the FIA World Rally Championship in 2008.
"I have helped Valentino out with a car for rallies because he would be great for the sport and I'd love to see him in a full WRC season," Richards told British newspaper, The People. "I know that he is signed to Yamaha for next year's MotoGP, but we want to get him in a full WRC car for next year's Rally GB and then to see if he wants to sign up for a season.
"Valentino has told me how rally is what he wants to do. But it is just a case of what happens with Yamaha - and what happens next season, because I know that he wants to claim his eighth crown in MotoGP. But if he does then I'll be trying to make sure that he is in a full works WRC car for the season after because he would be fantastic for the sport and he's still so young that his career could also be a long won. Rossi would be great for the fans."
The Busch series’ demise In today’s Orlando Sentinel Dale Earnhardt Jr "decries" that the Busch series awards went to all Cup drivers and the up-and-coming drivers are nowhere to be seen. 31 of 33 races were won by Cup drivers. We agree with Earnhardt and do like him as a person but wonder why he supports the demise of the series by participating. We liken this to Derek Jeter and Mike Piazza playing in minor league baseball games to bolster their already giant salaries. Makes no sense to us at all.
Verstappen to test for Forsythe According to AutoRacing1.com sources Dutchman Jos Verstappen will test for Forsythe Racing next week and we hear he does have some sponsorship money. He will test with other drivers (6 or 7) as well, Italian Enrico Tocaccelo, Jay Howard, Adam Carroll, and Simon Pagenaud included.
Turbos to return to F1 in 2011UPDATE This Hot News item is a press release put out by the FIA that specifically identifies the plan for turbo engines again in F1 and the "use of exhaust gases to propel the car." Indeed as we have long said, a turbo engine is superior to a normally aspirated engine in many ways and the fact that F1 will return to turbos is further proof that Champ Car had the right formula all along. Thankfully for Champ Car's sake they did not adopt the inferior and loud normally aspirated formula of the IRL where engine displacement changes seem to happen almost yearly. If (big if) there ever is a merger of the IRL and Champ Car, a turbocharged engine formula must be adopted, and certainly not vice versa. Even Honda is making a turbo for a road car now and looking at doing it even more. Last we heard Honda Performance Development still has the complete design plans for a 2.65L turbo IndyCar engine. Perhaps it's time to update the design and get it back on the track. Mark C.
11/16/06 (GMM) Turbo-charged engine regulations will return to Formula One probably in 2011, FIA president Max Mosley said this week.
Whilst declaring peace with the carmaker union GPDA's Burkhard Goeschel in Munich, Mosley suggested that the end of normally-aspirated engines in grand prix racing will coincide with a more environmentally friendly sport of the future.
"The capacity would be up for discussion because we don't want to have a ridiculous level of horsepower," he said, adding that the engines would rev to a minimum of 15,000rpm and use 'bio fuel'.
Mosley also said the final 'fuel burning' stage of the current qualifying system is bad for F1's image and a tweak is possible for 2007.
He explained: "If we want to change that for 2007 we need unanimity. One of the suggestions is that we take five minutes off and allow an extra set of tyres. Then you are going to see non-stop action."
In a Q&A published on the FIA's website on Thursday, Mosley also said he would probably retire before 2010.
Andretti to race in Indy 500 again Michael Andretti still isn't ready to announce the fourth Indy-car driver for Andretti Green Racing, much less the fifth. But both are in the works. Andretti said this week he plans to return to the Indianapolis 500 for his 16th run at the Borg-Warner Trophy, but there are details still to be worked out. Specifically, who's going to pay for the one-race program. "But I'd like to do it." Indy Star
[Editor's Note: The IRL is going to need a lot of cars to fill the Indy 500 field in 2007. Let's see, if AGR can run five, count them, five, why not ten?]
GM eyeing new buyouts? Even as buyouts are pushing UAW membership below 500,000 -- one-third its historic peak -- Wall Street analysts said Thursday that General Motors Corp. is looking to further reduce its U.S. hourly workforce before 2010.
Troy Clarke, president of GM North America, met with 14 analysts in New York on Wednesday, giving them the impression that GM may consider more buyouts for unionized workers, beyond the 34,400 leaving under the UAW and International Union of Electrical Workers buyout programs this year.
JPMorgan auto analyst Himanshu Patel, who was at the meeting, said the buyouts could happen as early as 2008 and might emulate the offers of cross-town rival Ford Motor Co.
"GM has studied Ford's attrition program, and we sensed an implicit statement that certain aspects of Ford's more successful buyout program could have been implemented at GM," Patel said in a research note to investors.
'Red tire' rule still possible - Bridgestone (GMM) According to F1's sole supplier Bridgestone, the much-discussed 'red tire rule' could still be imposed for the 2007 season.
The Japanese marque's Hisao Suganuma is quoted by a Spanish newspaper as saying the governing body is yet to decide whether to adopt the Champ Car-style regulation to help spice up the sport in the wake of tire rival Michelin's departure.
The rule, which would see two types of tire compounds color-coded for the benefit of the fans, would make it mandatory for each driver to use both the black and red-sidewalled specifications during a race.
Bridgestone is understood to have proposed the rule also to ensure that tires are still a talking-point in 2007, and to reduce wastage of potentially unused specs.
"If the FIA decides that we should do this because it will make F1 more exciting, then we will cooperate," Suganuma, Bridgestone's departing technical manager, is quoted as saying this week by 'As'.
The Japanese explained: "It will not be an easy rule for us to implement, since the 'soft' tire for one circuit could be the 'hard' tire for another, so we will have to produce same specifications with both of the colors.
"In theory we could do it, but at the moment it is a discussion between the FIA and the teams."
Murray Walker: Lewis will be Britain’s new star Legendary commentator Murray Walker predicts that Lewis Hamilton will become the next British star in Formula one.
"We are desperately hungry for success," Walker told the Motorsport News newspaper.
"It is more than ten years since we had somebody like Damon Hill or Nigel Mansell to cheer on - and we need another one."
"I think Ron Dennis has done exactly the right thing," he said.
"Lewis has won a championship in every category he's contested, so there is absolutely no reason why he shouldn't to extremely well in F1, particularly given the advantages of being a McLaren works driver."
"His problem won't be driving the car, but not being put off by the adulation, the media attention and the hopes that Britain is going to pin on," he added.
Air show may slam IRL raceUPDATE A reader writes, I think we could speculate that since Air Force is a NASCAR sponsor, that perhaps there may have been some "encouragement" to sabotage the IRL race in a further effort to kill open wheel racing. Hmmmm...gotta wonder. These kinds of coincidences seem to be far too common. Name Withheld by Request
12/07/06 MacDill Air Force Base's immensely popular air show, which draws as many as 750,000 people to South Tampa over two days, will return this spring after a one-year hiatus, Air Force officials said Wednesday.
The free AirFest event, scheduled for March 31 and April 1, will feature the Navy's Blue Angels and dozens of other ground and aerial displays, officials at the air base said.
Tampa hotels and businesses will welcome it back. But not everyone is cheering.
The AirFest is scheduled on the same weekend as St. Petersburg's fledgling Grand Prix race event, causing consternation among civic leaders there.
"I'm very disappointed," said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, who lobbied unsuccessfully for the Air Force to pick a different weekend.
"Their event is actually paid for by the government and given away for free, and now it's competing with a private event - the largest downtown weekend event in our year."
But Tampa developer Al Austin, who once headed a MacDill support committee for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, suggests the worry is unfounded.
"I tell you this, the Tampa Bay area has, what, about 4-million people," he said. "So when you have two events simultaneously, I think there's a possibility no one will suffer."
Still, the collision of the two events, which became clear to Grand Prix race officials only Wednesday afternoon, is a deflating and potentially stinging blow to the car race in its third year. More at St. Pete Times
Germain Racing to move up to Cup On the heels of winning the 2006 Craftsman Truck Series championship, Todd Bodine and Germain Racing have announced that they will take their success to the Nextel Cup Series in 2007. In what will be Toyota's inaugural season of Nextel Cup racing, Bodine, Toyota's first ever NASCAR champion, will pilot the #03 Toyota Camry in 15 select events that represent top markets and NASCAR's premier events. Germain Racing captured the 2006 Truck Series title in only its second full year of racing. The team hopes to mirror their immediate impact at NASCAR's highest level. "Since we started the team in August of 2004, our primary goal has been to be Toyota's #1 truck team and to win them their first NASCAR championship," said Germain Racing team owner Bob Germain. "In 2007, our goal is to successfully defend our truck championship and also be the first Toyota team to win a Nextel Cup race. With the team we have, I think it's very possible." The team is currently seeking marketing partners for the 15 races.
Lowe's, Johnson eye possible LeMans go Jimmie Johnson has made no secret of his desire to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and his partnership with Lowe's may open that door. Acura officials say Le Mans is part of their competition program in the near future. With Lowe's the primary sponsor of Adrian Fernandez's entry, Johnson's wishes to compete in the world's most demanding race may come true.
Chinese driver eyes Champ CarUPDATE #6 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. In a press release for Ho-Pin Tung today a statement read, "For next year he is looking for a race seat in the Renault World Series or GP2. His ultimate goal is to become the first Chinese winner in Formula 1."
11/27/06 On Thursday Ho-Pin Tung will test in Valencia (Spain) for the Belgian World Series by Renault 3.5 Team KTR. It looks like Champ Car could miss out on this talented and very marketable young Chinese driver who is also a Dutch citizen.
10/12/06 (GMM) China's first formula one driver could make his grand prix debut in 2008.
Ho-Pin Tung, who was actually born in Holland, recently won the German F3 title and hopes to race in GP2 in 2007.
The 23-year-old is then eyeing the F1 grid of 2008.
He told Auto Bild: "I spoke with a few (GP2) teams at Monza. Another option (for 2007) is the Champ Car series."
Ho-Pin Tung tested a Williams in 2003.
10/05/06 Autosport Magazine reports that Ho-Pin Tung claims that "F1 is still a dream that I really want to achieve," but more realistic in the short term could be a move to Champ Car, especially since races are planned in both China and Holland next season. In China Tung would enjoy a huge spotlight.
"I still have a strong connection with China - there's a lot of family still living there - but the best thing is my attention from the press. We have had six to eight journalists at the German F3 races this year and at the next race (already run, where Tung clinched the title) we have Chinese Central Television, the biggest station in China. It's fantastic that people over there are so enthusiastic for the things I'm doing."
09/17/06 Well it appears Bernie Ecclestone is able to outmaneuver Champ Car with his ability to react much faster. AutoRacing1.com has learned that after clinching the German F3 title today in Austria, Ho-Pin Tung is leaving for China tomorrow for some promotional work in preparation for the Chinese F1 GP in two weeks time (October 1). He won't be able to stay there for the F1 race however, as he still has to do the last two races of the German F3 championship at Oschersleben the same weekend as F1 is visiting China. It appears, however, that Bernie sees the value in using a Chinese driver to promote his F1 race even though Tung is not yet an F1 driver. If Tung goes to GP2 next year, one has to wonder what it is Champ Car will sell to the Chinese at Zhuhai in May of next year.
09/15/06 According to this Dutch website article, Ho-Pin Tung is eyeing both GP2 and Champ Car for next year. The article mentions Champ Car's race in China and Holland as enticing for the Dutch-Chinese driver. However, he has been racing in Europe, and we suspect that if Champ Car does not act fast on him, GP2 (co-owned by Bernie Ecclestone) will snatch him right out from under Champ Car, a series that desperately needs a Chinese driver for next year's Zhuhai race.
08/13/06 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Dutch/Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung and his manager, Bert Winkler, are likely to visit Montreal in two weeks time to talk to several interested parties about the possibility of Tung racing in Champ Car in 2007. Tung won the Asian Formula BMW championship going away and looks set to win this year's German F3 title with four races left.
With the chance of races in both Assen (The Netherlands) and Zhuhai (China), there is a lot of interest from Ho-Pin in particular and his backers to join Champ Car for next year. The huge Chinese community in the US and Canada will surely also be very enthusiastic about a Chinese driver competing in Champ Car. Given these facts it would all make a lot of sense for Ho-Pin Tung to join Champ Car as early as next year, but first Champ Car must test him in a Champ Car ASAP to make sure he is ready for the jump.
Tung speaks seven languages fluently including English, Dutch and Mandarin and would be a huge asset to Champ Car for marketing of races, especially in China and Holland. Mark C.
Pizzonia to GP2 for 2007UPDATE GP2 team Fisichella Motor Sport International (FMSI) signed an agreement with Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia, former Jaguar and Williams F1 driver, to bring home the 2007 title.
"We want to win the 2007 GP2 Championship," confirmed Giancarlo Fisichella "and we signed Pizzonia because we believe he's going to do it. Antonio has been incredibly fast with our GP2 car during winter testing, lapping Jerez in record time and confirming what we expected from such an experienced driver."
Pizzonia comes back to Europe after racing in the Champ Car World Series in the U.S. part-time in 2006 for Rocketsports. "I want to return to F1 as soon as I can, this is why I accepted the FMSI challenge. Our target is the same: to win the GP2 Championship. It is also a great chance to remind everyone in Formula One that Antonio is always fast and competitive."
Fisichella Motor Sport International also confirm Jason Tahinci, the young Turkish rookie who drove for the Italian team in 2006: "My task will be to score as many points as possible to help win the team prize. My life at FMSI is part of a long-term agreement which has to bring me to the top level in the next two years. For me 2007 will be another year of apprenticeship and I am pleased to have a teammate as competitive as Antonio."
"Antonio will run the series with an Italian license," confirmed team principal Paolo Coloni, "His origins and his passport allow us to race him as an Italian..."
11/07/06 Antonio Pizzonia has to make a decision soon between GP2 and Champ Car for 2007.
The Brazilian has been chasing a Champ Car ride for much of the season, but opted to try his hand at GP2 during the post-season tests at Paul Ricard and Jerez in an effort to resurrect his F1 career.
"Obviously, there is a possibility to race here for the next year," he confirmed of GP2, "That is one idea but, on the other hand, there is Champ Car, which is a totally different thing.
"I think the decision will be made soon, in the next week or ten days. Whatever I do, obviously I want to have a chance to win races and, hopefully, the championship. If I think GP2 is the place I can win the championship, then I will stay here, but, if I think that Champ Car with Rocketsports or another team is where I can win, then I'll look at that. There are a lot of different things to think about. If I go to America then, obviously, it will be for a long time and I will build my future there. If I stay here, then it will be to look for an opportunity in Formula One. I think it's going to be a difficult decision and, at the moment, I really don't know what I'm doing next year. Hopefully, I will make the best decision."
Hitler race car could fetch $12 million A rare 1939 German sports car commissioned by Adolf Hitler is expected to command the highest price ever paid for any automobile at auction, according to Christie's, which will conduct the auction in Paris in February 2007.
The car, one of five remaining "Auto Union D-Types," is expected to sell for as much as $12 million, said Rupert Banner, head of Christie's motor cars department.
In 1933, after becoming Chancellor of Germany, Hitler offered 500,000 reichmark for a company to design a race car to show off the nation's technological prowess. Originally, Mercedes-Benz got the nod. But Ferdinand Porsche, then an engineer working with Auto Union, which today is known as Audi, was able to secure the financing to build a revolutionary car he had designed.
Condor signs Junior StrousUPDATE #3 See Hot News page for the official announcement that came out today.
12/04/06 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Junior Strous and his management (WWA) signed a deal with Condor Motorsports boss Carlos Bobeda last weekend in Buttonwillow to run him in the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic series.
11/15/06 Condor team boss Carlos Bobeda's comments on the Junior Strous test in a Champ Cat Atlantic car at Buttonwillow, CA on Tuesday, November 14:
"Junior performed very well. He turned very quick times and it is a shame that we are not testing again tomorrow. Most drivers take two days to get to the level Junior reached on the first one. He liked the car and working with our engineer Martin Tremblay."
Junior himself was thrilled with the car "The car is absolutely fantastic, it's less quick then I thought but it has got tremendous corner speed because of the downforce, unbelievable! I've never experienced such a good first test day with a team before, Condor Motorsports is a great team and we got along like a house on fire! I'm really looking forward to competing in the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic championship with Condor Motorsports!"
Junior will continue testing with Condor Motorsports in Sebring on November 29th and 30th.
Note: Junior Strous in not unfamiliar with racing in the US: In 2003, then 17 yrs. old, he won the FranAm Formula Renault 2.0 Winter championship in Florida. He won three of five races.
11/08/06 Dutchman Junior Strous is invited for a seat fitting at Condor Motorsport this weekend. Junior will test the Condor Motorsport Champ Car Atlantic racecar coming 14th of November at the Buttonwillow racetrack in California. more tests are planned at the end of November. Junior is back in Holland the 16th of November for opening of the brand-new Strous family mega petrol-filling and car wash centre in his Hometown Wassenaar near The Hague in Holland. A race car demonstration with Junior at the wheel will be the highlight of the day. Fans are invited! Both Junior and his management (WWA) are looking forward for a great season 2007 in Champ Car Atlantic and European BRL V6 racing.
As far as we hear Nicky Pastorelli will be in Champ Car again next year (with some team), probably backed by Bart Rietbergen (promoter of soon to be announced European races) himself and/or Bart's sponsors for the Assen race. Nicky will be under pressure this time and will have to perform. It will probably be his last chance and if he fails, Junior will be more than happy to take over we hear.
Junior and his dad Ton visited the 2005 Denver Champ Car event and met Carlos Bobeda (Condor Motorsports) and they spoke for quite a while about 2006. Unfortunately they then decided to stay for another year in Europe to do Eurocup FRenault 2.0. By the way, This year's Chief Mechanic at Condor Motorsports, for their single Champ Car Atlantic entry for Danilo Dirani, was Dutchman Urfried Mendes. He also was Junior Strous Chief Mechanic from 2002 - 2005, when he was competing in FFord, FBMW and FRenault 2.0. They will be reunited this year at Condor.
Changes coming at Forsythe RacingUPDATE #4 It was announced to the team yesterday that they will be a two car Atlantic team (we assume for American John Edwards and Canadian Robert Wickens) for 2007 instead of four, so our original information was correct.
12/02/06 Now hearing that Forsythe Racing might still run four Atlantic cars next year, contrary to earlier reports. We hear two of the four drivers will be from last year's foursome.
12/02/06 We hear that a good number of people at Forsythe Racing have been handed pink slips since the season concluded as the team looks to restructure for improved results......as we rumored below would happen. One reason for the cutbacks could be that Forsythe has decided to cut his Atlantic program from 4 cars to two cars in 2007. Fours cars diluted the effort and the team did not net the results they anticipated. Also, with Red Bull sponsoring both cars they may not want any other sponsors on the team's Atlantic cars.
11/13/06 Failed to mention when we first posted this rumor that another related rumor has Justin Wilson possibly switching to the Forsythe Championship Racing team from the RuSPORT team, which is being sold by Carl Russo. We have updated our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season page accordingly.
11/12/06 Word in the Champ Car paddock is that many changes are anticipated for the Forsythe Champ Car team in the off-season as they make adjustments necessary to pull the team up to the level needed to make a run at the championship year in and year out.
Renault to launch in Holland - reports (GMM) F1's reigning champion squad Renault is planning to launch its 2007-spec 'R27' in the Netherlands, according to reports in the country on Tuesday.
The French team has typically unveiled its new car in Monte Carlo in recent years, but it is understood that the new location is in deference to Renault's incoming 2007 title sponsor, the Dutch bank ING.
Dutch sources hinted at an event 'sometime in January', with the new contender believed to strongly incorporate the colors orange and white, but also the carmaker's traditional yellow.
Meanwhile, it is rumored that Grove based Williams will launch the Toyota-powered 'FW29' contender at its Oxfordshire HQ early in February.
Monteiro confident he will be Spyker’s second driverUPDATE #2 (GMM) Portuguese driver Tiago Monteiro is on the verge of signing a contract to stay at Spyker next year.
The news agency 'Agence France-Presse' published an interview with the 30-year-old on Tuesday, in which he indicated that an official announcement is imminent.
Monteiro raced for the Silverstone based outfit in 2005 and 2006, but the FIA's official entry list this week reinforced that the only confirmed Spyker driver for 2007 is Dutchman Christijan Albers.
In Oporto on Monday, Monteiro reportedly explained that the delay of his new deal related only to contractual details.
"I am confident," he said.
Monteiro added: "The Spyker team has always said that it counted on me. It is taking a little longer than we envisaged, but everything is still looking good."
10/19/06 We are bumping this rumor up to 'strong' today. Tiago Monteiro said at Interlagos on Thursday that he is likely to remain Christijan Albers' teammate at the Spyker-MF1 team next year. "It's looking very good," the Portuguese said in a news conference. "It's not signed so we cannot say anything yet, but it's a matter of details now." We have updated our 2007 F1 Silly Season page. As you can see, most seats are now spoken for so now those left out will begin their search for a test drive role or a Champ Car ride.
10/16/06 Tiago Monteiro believes it is only "a matter of details" which are slowing down the deal which will see him confirmed as the second driver for the Spyker F1 team for the 2007 season. Thirty-year-old Monteiro says he works well with the teams confirmed driver, Christijan Albers, and that despite the various drivers linked with the spot he is the one that will be in the drivers seat come the start of the season. "In my head I'm staying here! We'll find out soon enough. Obviously we're working on a totally different basis now." "The team knows what I'm worth, they know what I can do, and like Christijan I would become a paid driver and not a paying driver. We're are negotiating now," said Monteiro on the teams website. "We've put Spyker in contact with some sponsors, and it's up to them to finalize those deals. For me it's a different kind of negotiation now."
The rumor mill is continuing to churn out other possible candidates, with Christian Klien seen as a favorite, but Monteiro is hearing none of it. "There are always drivers on the market of course, there's always competition, but Spyker have told me that they have faith in me, and what they want to do. Now it's a matter of the details, I guess!" Planet F1
Kimi to earn $1m per week in 2007 (GMM) With the retirement of Michael Schumacher, his replacement at Ferrari has inherited the envious mantle as Formula One's highest earner.
Kimi Raikkonen, to make his test debut for the Italian squad in January, will in 2007 earn about a million US dollars per week, according to the Swiss daily newspaper 'Blick'.
The publication said the Finn's annual income will surpass $51m.
Schumacher, on the other hand, has retired to his Swiss mansion with a personal fortune of more than an estimated $800m, while his role as Jean Todt's 'assistant' next year - and continuing sponsorship contracts - should see the German maintaining a more than $10 million annual income.
The seven time world champion's 2007 income is only marginally less than brother Ralf and Jenson Button's $16 million for driving for respectively Toyota and Honda, but more than Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa (approx. $10m).
British specialist magazine F1 Racing lists back to back world champion Fernando Alonso's 2007 wage at $35m, while rookie hotshots Robert Kubica, Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen will all make less than $2.8m each.
Zaugg to miss Indonesia race A1GP race winner Adrian Zaugg may have to miss this weekend's races in Indonesia due to a muscle condition in his forearms, and he is considering surgery to solve the issue.
Team South Africa CEO Dana Cooper said: "We are obviously concerned about Adrian's condition and we are giving him all the support we can.
"We are confident he will overcome this problem with the right medical care."
Former British F3 champion Alan van der Merwe has been named as one of South Africa's drivers, but the team are expecting to confirm another driver in the build-up to this weekend.
Cooper added: "We are also confident that we have the driver talent at our disposal to give a good account of ourselves in any races that Adrian might be forced to miss."
Theissen watching Muniz According to AutoRacing1.com sources, BMW's Mario Theissen was impressed of how well actor Frankie Muniz ran in the Formula BMW World Finals in Valencia last week that he invited him and team owner Eric Jensen to have lunch with him twice, and kept telling Frankie to work hard this year cause he'll be watching his progress. That motivated Frankie quite a lot we hear. Given that Muniz never drove a race car until a year ago, his performance, though not earth shattering, was improving.
Will China media changes apply for Champ Car too? China has relaxed restrictions on foreign media leading up to and during the 2008 Beijing Games “in a sign the games may at least temporarily soften Beijing’s treatment of its critics and the media,” according to Richard McGregor of the Financial Times. Foreign journalists will “no longer require the permission of local authorities to travel to areas outside their base.” We wonder if journalists traveling to China for next year's Champ Car race will be afforded similar freedoms. Foreign media will have “freedom to write ‘not only of the Games itself,’ but also about political, economic and social issues.” The move “reflects pressure by” the IOC and human-rights groups reports the Wall Street Journal.
George, Kalkhoven still talking? Tony George and Kevin Kalkhoven continue to keep low profiles regarding open-wheel racing unification. That’s because there’s nothing to discuss, according to Indy Racing League president Brian Barnhart.
“I know [they] still have good conversations, but I think they are less frequent than they were four or five months ago,” Barnhart said. “I don’t think there’s been any falling out, but I think there’s been the annual realization that it’s an incredibly difficult process.” AutoWeek
[Editor's Note: We believe the IRL has one year remaining on their existing car before they look to replace it. If there is going to be a merger, or a 2 division league with playoffs, look for the IRL to adopt the new Champ Car and possibly the 2.65L turbo engine format. If we hear this year that the IRL is putting out an RFP for manufacturers to bid on a new car for 2008, a car unique to the IRL, all possibilities of a merger of any sort, will be gone.]
Lola to Grand-Am? Lola Cars International is set to become the first British race car constructor to enter the Grand-Am Daytona Prototype market according to this AutoWeek article.
Lola appears close to taking advantage of a new rule that allows any existing chassis builder to sell its Daytona Prototype franchise to another company for the 2008 season. Lola is talking to Chase Competition Engineering, one of the seven constructors that were licensed to build Daytona Prototypes at the start of the category back in 2003. Its CCE-DP design has not competed since 2004 and company boss Robert Chase has admitted that a lack of funds has prevented him from racing and developing the car.
Grand-Am boss Roger Edmondson said that the decision to allow the transfer of franchises was motivated by a desire to give companies “a way to escape” if they are not capable of meeting a new entry criterion that demands two cars at every race for 2008. Allowing constructors to produce new bodies for their cars came from a “recognition that some didn’t get it right first time around,” Edmondson said. One new manufacturer will be allowed into Grand-Am for 2008.
Poor F1 drivers will actually have to drive now Felipe Massa says the new harder Bridgestone F1 tires make it harder to drive the cars now. Rather than being on rails, the drivers will actually have to use their talent. What a novel idea!
"The driving changes: there's less grip, the tires are harder and the car tends to slide," the Brazilian told Gazzetta dello Sport. "The braking distance got longer, you need to drive more smoothly because it's easier to lose the back or locking the front tires.
"You can't be aggressive in the turns. This won't help overtaking. There will be even less grip in the slipstream."
Moreno could land ride Roberto Moreno tells AutoRacing1.com that "I would not have agreed to be the test driver for the new Panoz DP01 if it would have precluded me from landing a Champ Car ride in 2007. I would like to drive again and think I can still get the job done."
Moreno is a seasoned veteran and could be an asset to a rookie team like Gelles Racing should they start a Champ Car team like originally announced. Moreno is the only driver with DP01 experience, which would help a team who hired him. However, like with any seat in Champ Car, money, or lack thereof, is always the issue. The series and the teams hope that the new ABC/ESPN TV deal will help somewhat with landing new sponsor deals, unfortunately since Will Wilson left, Champ Car is without a marketing manager who might otherwise capitalize on the new TV deal.
This is of particular concern this year as teams really need to nail down their driver and sponsor lineup for 2007 by the end of December/early January to take advantage of the precious few preseason tests planned - three in total, one each in January, February and March. Miss one and you miss 1/3 of your allotted test days.
New Yorkers could care less about NASCAR NASCAR keeps trying to race its way into the hearts of New Yorkers, putting on one magnificent show after another. Unfortunately, the busy citizens of the city that never sleeps can only muster a collective yawn.
In sort of a reverse from the 1960s Green Acres television show, NASCAR decided almost three decades ago that the best way to sell its product was on Madison Avenue. Well, close to Madison Avenue. And pretty close to Broadway, too, which is part of the problem. NASCAR's acts are too staged.
Whether it's because New Yorkers are too jaded, too busy or too much of a blue state in a predominately red state sport, NASCAR -- despite its best efforts -- has yet to make much of an impact in the country's biggest city.
NASCAR holds its biggest party each year in Manhattan. The sanctioning body has held its annual awards banquet in Gotham City 25 times, with this Friday's event being NASCAR's 26th visit to the ritzy Waldorf-Astoria hotel.
Over the years, as NASCAR has grown, so has the season-ending event. In fact, it's now a multi-day affair called Champions Week filled with a plethora of NASCAR-created traditions. And while these events and their national exposure have helped NASCAR grow beyond its southern roots, they seem just another sideshow in the hectic circus that is New York City. More at SI.com
No NY City or Seattle before 2011UPDATE During a session at the Motorsports Marketing Forum in NY City this past week, where several issues facing NASCAR and other sanctioning bodies were discussed, the matter of the proposed speedway in Staten Island was brought up in an interesting way. The attendees who thought there would be a NASCAR race in New York before one in China were asked to raise their hands. None did. Then, all the New Yorkers in attendance were asked to raise their hands if they thought a track would be built in their city. None did. Interesting. It would indicate that ISC’s attempt to put a track in the country’s No. 1 market is a task that might be too formidable to complete – at least, that seems to be the opinion expressed at the forum. More at Scenedaily.com
07/07/06 ISC Chief Operating Officer John Saunders said Thursday that the earliest a track could open in New York City or Seattle likely will be 2011. Talking with financial analysts to discuss the company's earnings, Saunders said the slow-moving process in trying to get the political backing necessary to earn governmental approvals have delayed the projects.
ISC hopes to build a 1.2-mile track southwest of Seattle and a three-quarter-mile track on New York's Staten Island.
"We are realistically now, because of some of the regulatory and the political process in both the state of Washington and state of New York, 2011 will be more likely" Saunders said. "We were hopeful for 2010, but it appears it will be more [like] 2011."
Confusion in Vegas A reader writes, I am in Las Vegas and was listening to a local sports radio show. The 2 guys were talking about all the cool events that were scheduled to be in Las Vegas in 2007. After listing the NBA All Star game and a big boxing fight, and a bunch of other events, they said "and don't forget that the IRL will be here in April racing downtown" the other guy then added "Oh, Danica will be here". Champ Car had better get this recognition thing under control fast! Brett Kear
De la Rosa could replace Hamilton McLaren boss Ron Dennis says his team would put Pedro de la Rosa in a race seat if Lewis Hamilton proves to be a dud.
"De la Rosa is part of our family. He has a lot of talent, he did a great job last season and he is very skilled when setting up a car. He's a McLaren ambassador, he has his future secured in the company and he's a good friend," Dennis told As newspaper.
"And there's a chance that, if it turns out we made a mistake, we could reconsider him for the racing seat. But we had to take the risk. With Alonso's strength, the risk was very low."
Kerkorian dumps all GM shares Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian apparently sold his entire remaining stake in General Motors Corp. on Thursday, ending a drama that could have reshaped the global auto industry but concluded with the 89-year-old activist shareholder walking away with little or no profit.
The Wall Street Journal, citing a source close to the situation, reported Thursday night on its Web site that Kerkorian had sold his remaining 28 million shares, giving up all ownership of GM stock.
No Securities and Exchange Commission filings yet show the sale, but a note sent by a leading Wall Street investment firm also speculated that Kerkorian sold the rest of his GM stock.
Earlier in the day, Tracinda Corp., Kerkorian's investment firm, filed a document saying it had sold 14 million shares, bringing its GM stake to 28 million shares, or 4.95%.
Later in the day, a transaction involving 28 million shares of GM stock at $29.25 moved on the New York Stock Exchange, according to Merrill Lynch auto analyst John Murphy.
"It appears that Kerkorian may now be out of his entire GM position," Murphy wrote. Detroit Free Press
NASCAR provisional rules may be changed Watch for NASCAR to limit the number of past-champion's provisionals any driver can take to make Nextel Cup races next season to six, series director John Darby said. Such exemptions - providing the 43rd starting spot to the most recent past champion not to qualify on speed or by car owners' points - were first introduced toward the end of Richard Petty's career. The new rule is most likely to affect 1999 champ Dale Jarrett, who will start the season with Michael Waltrip's new team, and 1988 title-holder Bill Elliott, who can be expected to race part time. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Meanwhile....NASCAR has all but ruled out major changes to the point system or Chase for the Championship format, three of the sanctioning body's top officials said Thursday. President Mike Helton, vice president for competition Robin Pemberton and Nextel Cup series director John Darby said if there are any changes, they'll be minor. Helton said there is no need "to fix what isn't broken," and Darby said the most likely adjustment will be a few more points for wins. An announcement, he said, probably would come in January. Darby said NASCAR executives favor keeping the Chase field at 10 drivers, but he wouldn't rule out changing the format to make it slightly easier for someone below 10th place to qualify. Currently, any driver below 10th place who is within 400 points of the leader would qualify, and that hasn't happened yet. Pemberton said NASCAR won't drastically alter the existing formula, partly because of the risk of having someone who wins a few times during the Chase running away with it. Tampa Tribune
Is NASCAR 75M fan claim a lie? If NASCAR's figures are correct, over two million people in this mass of humanity are NASCAR fans. That's 25 percent of the 8.2 million people who call New York City home. NASCAR has claimed for years that 75 million of us are fans, roughly one out of four Americans and one out of every three adults.
Hmmm. Even with the NASCAR stars in town this week, I'll take a wild guess and say a quick survey might fail to produce such a lofty number of NASCAR followers scurrying about Manhattan.
Should I be so inclined, and I'm not, I could stand on the corner today at Rockefeller Center and ask folks who walked by if they were NASCAR fans.
Even excluding the ones who glared at or cursed me, I seriously doubt one in four would claim a membership in the NASCAR Nation. Maybe one in 40. More at ESPN.com
5 new drivers eye Atlantic series Star Mazda champion Adrian Carrio, Italy’s Giacomo Ricci, the 2006 F3000 Italian Euro champion, Formula BMW USA 2006 champion and Red Bull driver Robert Wickens, American John Edwards, another member of the Red Bull driver development program along with Wickens, and Ireland’s Patrick Hogan, who’s distinguished himself most recently in World Series by Renault and British Formula Renault competition, all tested within 3/10ths of a second of each other in two days of testing with the Forsythe Champ Car Atlantic team at Thunderhill this week. All were fast and all hope to be in the Atlantic series in 2007.....which shapes up to be another stellar year for the Champ Car feeder series. With $2M on the line to the champion, this series is now drawing some of the best young talent from around the world. See related testing article.
Another NASCAR team about to foldUPDATE #2 The doors are still open at PPI Motorsports, but the downsizing continues as owner Cal Wells laid off six employees on Wednesday and now has a staff of nine at his Hickory, N.C. shop.
The total will remain there for the time being but will be reduced to four by January unless a sponsor comes through to keep the No. 32 Nextel Cup team on the track in 2007.
Wells signed a contract with a company based in California's Silicon Valley back in June but said the company, which he wouldn't name, has changed its business philosophy and isn't ready to invest in motorsports at this time. Wells found that was tough to take after spending more than two years working with the company.
"We all checked them out - we did, NASCAR did - and we felt very good about it," Wells said Thursday. "We actually felt the type and style of sponsorship it was was going to be huge for NASCAR, huge for the tracks. We've taken them to [International Speedway Corp.] and [Speedway Motorsports Inc.] to negotiate track deals and put an immense amount of time in it.
RCR and McCreadie reach deal? According to sources, both at RCR and locally, the Watertown, NY native Tim McCreadie has reached a deal with Richard Childress Racing to drive in the Winston West Series in 2007. "Tim will be competing in the Winston West Series next year, for RCR's Driver Development Program," a source at RCR's PR Dept. has stated."The plan right now is for Tim to participate in all 14 West Series events for next season. If all goes well and we have no reason to think it won't, Tim will move up to either the Busch or Craftsman Truck Series in 2008. Tim is a very talented driver and we at RCR are very excited about him coming on board and helping RCR get back to the top." The deal will allow "T Mac" to drive in select WoO Late Model and Modified Series events on the DIRT circuit. localtrax.com
Earnhardt dating John Menard Theresa Earnhardt has been seen with Menard’s owner John Menard Jr. on multiple occasions in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Rumor has it the pair were together more romantically than business wise.
The owner of Menard’s one of the biggest home improvement centers in the Midwest has been active in motor sports having founded Team Menard’s. Paul Menard is scheduled to drive for Theresa Earnhardt moving up full time to Cup from the Busch Series. His car will be sponsored by his dad John Menard Jr.
If the rumors are true this would be the first romantic hookup for Theresa Earnhardt since the death of her husband Dale Earnhardt Sr. in February 2001. The reclusive Ms Earnhardt generally shuns the media and prefers a much more subdued existence than is generally available in the world of NASCAR. SpeedwayMedia.com
Is Mexico headed for real instability? MEXICO CITY — Mexico's rich and powerful got even more rich and powerful during the six-year term of outgoing President Vicente Fox.
That's the conclusion of a World Bank study released this week that said Mexico's business elite and powerful public-sector unions were a major drag on the nation's economy.
The net worth of Mexico's billionaires soared, from just over 4% of gross domestic product in 2000 to about 6% in 2006, according to the study. Strong earnings at big corporations have driven the stock market to repeated highs.
But those benefits haven't been widely shared. The concentration of economic power in few hands has saddled Mexican consumers with high prices, exacerbated income inequality and retarded economic growth.
Too many pay drivers A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Regarding your recent article about who will drive in Champ Car in 2007? Surely not the most talented drivers, but the best funded drivers. Actually Champ Car is a lot like ALMS and GrandAm, a few paid drivers and many paying drivers. The unfortunate truth. Tim DeCesaro
Dear Tim, This is not true. To the best of our knowledge all the drivers in Grand-Am are paid to drive by the team because all teams have sponsorship. Ditto for ALMS where many of the teams get manufacturer support and the drivers are paid quite well. As for Champ Car, unfortunately you are correct. Until such time as the teams learn how to get sponsorship on their own, far too many rely on the driver to bring some. While Champ Car has recovered from bankruptcy (just 3 years ago) quite well and are making the right moves in many areas, sponsorship is still one area that is seriously lacking. We shall see if their new TV deal helps in that regard. Mark C.
Is Hakkinen planning a GP comeback? (GMM) With Mika Hakkinen's return to the cockpit for a McLaren test at Barcelona now confirmed, speculation is turning to the possibility of a more comprehensive Formula One comeback for the 'retired' twice world champion.
The 38-year-old Finn demonstrated a modern McLaren single seater at the Goodwood event in July, but his Thursday run at Circuit de Catalunya is his first proper run since 2001.
Germany's popular tabloid Bild-Zeitung asked Norbert Haug, competition chief for McLaren's engine partner Mercedes-Benz, whether fans should expect the Flying Finn to make a full time comeback.
"At the moment, further tests are not planned," said the German. "However, it is completely possible that he could have a role with us in the future.
"His experience can only be a help to us."
A chirpy, plain-clothed Hakkinen sat down with reporters at the Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday afternoon shortly after arriving at the Spanish venue, but said he did not want to talk too much about the implications of his test.
"I have no feeling about it yet," he commented. "Obviously you guys want to understand if I am coming back to F1 or if I am staying in the DTM -- and at the moment the idea is the DTM."
Hakkinen, however, rejected the notion that his laps in the MP4-22 are just for 'fun', or a publicity stunt.
He continued: "I think the thing for me to answer is, am I quick enough? It is all exciting but it is absolutely serious, it is not only fun, you know.
"You cannot test a Formula One car and say it is a joke."
NASCAR team may fold Jay Robinson Racing will switch to Chevrolets for the 2007 Busch Series - if the team is around. Team owner Jay Robinson said Tuesday his operation may not be around next season.
One of the sponsors for his two-car team, Advil, will not return next year, and Robinson hasn't been able to find a replacement. A deal to run cars for another established team has yet to come to fruition. I thoroughly love it and enjoy it and would love to be able to participate," Robinson said. "Unfortunately, we're the team that's missed the most races. We're just on the down side of things right now and unfortunately might not make it."
The 2006 season was a difficult one for Robinson's team, as his No. 49 missed 19 of the 35 Busch races, including the last five, and his No. 28 missed five of 13 events entered.
Jay Robinson Racing started racing the Busch Series in 2001 and is one of the smaller teams in the sport. While other teams are spending $5 million or more, Robinson's budget was less than $1 million in 2006.
"The sport changed a couple of years ago to a point where if you're not coming to the table with lots and lots of money, you don't need to come to this table," Robinson said. "It never was that way prior to that. It's just an environment with a lot of people with a lot of money who are willing to gamble on." More at Scenedaily.com
Champ Car TV buy According to an article in the November 27, 2006 issue of AutoWeek, IRL spokesman John Griffin said Champ Car is paying ABC/ESPN $250,000 per hour to broadcast its races, but they could not verify that. If it is true Champ Car will spend roughly $6 million plus production costs for TV in 2007, estimate to be north of $10 million total. Of course you must subtract from that the revenue they receive from TV ads sold, so we really do not know what the net cost for Champ Car will be, but it will be less than that they are paying ABC/ESPN.
The benefits are, however enormous if the deal includes full distribution on ESPN International, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, plus coverage by SportsCenter which is now in the USA, Pan-Latin America, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Pan-Asia, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
First delivery of New Champ CarsUPDATE Correction: first new Champ Cars will be delivered on December 20th, not December 5th as we originally rumored. This rumor is now 'fact' for December 20th.
11/28/06 The Champ Car teams were told that in one week each will get their first new Panoz DP01. It can either be picked up or shipped, but everyone is scheduled to get the first car on December 5th, one week from today.
Martin could drive for four teams in '07 Mark Martin told Sirius Speedway (MRN/Sirius Satellite Radio) Monday that he spoke to Dale Earnhardt, Jr., about a possible, part-time Busch Series ride with Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports in 2007. Martin, who has already inked deals to drive the Ginn Racing/US Army Nextel Cup Chevrolet next season, as well as a Craftsman Truck for Wood Brothers/JTG Racing, said sponsor conflicts prevented the deal with Earnhardt from coming to fruition. “I talked to Dale Junior about sharing a Busch car with him and a couple of other guys next season,” said Martin. “We both wanted to do it, but we couldn’t get the details figured out. The Army and the Navy (sponsors of Earnhardt’s #88 Busch car) were kinda like oil and water, and we couldn’t figure out a way to make it work.” Martin said he could run for as many as four different teams next season on the Cup, Busch and Truck Series. MRN/Sirius Satellite Radio
Fisher eyeing IRL options for 2007 Sarah Fisher says her management team is pursuing a “variety of opportunities” for the 2007 IndyCar Series season.
The veteran driver, who competed in two IndyCar Series races this season with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, also thanked fans for continuing to cheer her on to a comeback in her regular diary for espn.com.
To prepare for a 17-race IndyCar Series schedule (plus testing), Fisher has been competing in karting events in the off-season and adhering to an exercise regimen. She also is enrolled in college classes with the plan to receive a bachelor’s degree in business marketing. IndyStar
Hakkinen to test McLaren in Spain - reports (GMM) 1998 and 1999 world champion Mika Hakkinen will test a McLaren when the winter period kicks off at Circuit de Catalunya this week, according to newspaper reports in Spain.
The 38-year-old Finn left Formula One in 2001, but returned last year to the DTM touring car series and has in recent days been doing laps in the Woking based team's computer simulator.
Ron Dennis admitted this week that Hakkinen is 'keen to contribute' to McLaren's F1 program.
The team principal added: "On the basis that Kimi (Raikkonen) and Juan Pablo Montoya not being available and not being appropriate to the work we are doing for next year, Mika can evaluate some of the things we are developing and bringing to the car."
Spain's Diario As contends that McLaren 'intend to take advantage of (Hakkinen's) experience with Bridgestone tires' at the test.
The newspaper did not say on which of the three days in Barcelona Hakkinen would test.
The sports daily 'Marca', meanwhile, headlined the latest Hakkinen rumor as predicting that the Finn is going to be McLaren's 'sport advisor' in 2007.
Hakkinen, at the McLaren factory again this week, was quoted as saying: "It is just rumors. It is still my objective to be in the DTM but if McLaren asks me to help them then I am very happy to do that."
Dennis, meanwhile, reportedly said: "Mika's presence is going to be very important. He is incredibly enthusiastic, he knows this team inside-out and is going to help us to develop the car."
Red Bull to snatch Penske manUPDATE #5 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Matt Borland, Ryan Newman's longtime crew chief, is staying at Penske Racing South for the 2007 season, team president Don Miller said Monday, although no title or job description has been finalized. Miller said Monday that Borland met with owner Roger Penske following the season finale. "He told Roger that under no circumstances does he want to leave, because Roger gave him the option," Miller said.
11/20/06 Matt Borland is scheduled to meet with Penske Racing South owner Roger Penske today, a day after missing his second consecutive Nextel Cup event. If no decisions are reached regarding Borland's future in that meeting, nothing might be decided until he meets with Don Miller, the team's president, and others the week after Thanksgiving.
And, Matt Borland's run as Ryan Newman's crew chief appears to be over. Borland, who asked for a leave of absence as Ryan Newman's crew chief for the final two races, is expected to become the director of competition at Penske Racing South next season. Team officials said an official announcement should come within the next couple of weeks. NASCAR.com
11/06/06 Penske Racing South president Don Miller said Sunday that he expects to have crew chiefs Matt Borland (#12-Ryan Newman) and Roy McCauley (#2-Kurt Busch) back next year leading their respective cars. Borland had been rumored to move to a Toyota Red Bull Racing team. Miller also said he expects the new nose Dodge teams will get next year should prove to be a big benefit for the team. Speed Channel
10/31/06 Penske Performance president Tim Cindric would not rule out the possibility of crew chief changes during the off-season, but said rumors that Matt Borland would leave Ryan Newman's #12 Dodge program for Team Red Bull's new operation were "just speculation." "When you don't have a season you expect to have ... there's always speculation," Cindric said. "I think we're going to look at how we are this season and what's best move going forward to ensure we have better season next year." St Petersburg Times
10/28/06 And on the other side of the Penske shop, Roy McCauley's suspension for an unapproved shock at Concord has led to speculation of a possible shakeup pending there, too. Crew chief Pat Tryson has long been rumored on the list of men Penske would like to hire to run Kurt Busch's team. Winston Salem Journal
10/28/06 A shakeup is looming for the Roger Penske operation, with Toyota's Red Bull team reportedly making a run at crew chief Matt Borland to take the helm of Brian Vickers' team next season. Borland is #12-Ryan Newman's crew chief at Penske's. Winston Salem Journal
More evidence of NASCAR’s global aspirationsUPDATE #2 NASCAR is seeking to expand in China and western Europe by marrying its licensing, sponsorship and media expertise with local partners. "We're sizing it up," Brian France, NASCAR's chairman and chief executive, said in an interview with the Financial Times. "We have a couple of people who are looking at that carefully." NASCAR compares opportunities in China to those in the US in the late 1940s when stock-car racing began to take hold. The Formula One group has staged an annual Grand Prix in Shanghai since 2004. But NASCAR believes that Chinese consumers are likely to identify with racing cars that look more like passenger vehicles. "NASCAR appeals to the mass market," said Robbie Weiss, NASCAR's international director. "Our fan is the football fan." See more at MSNBC and the Financial Times
10/28/06 Can't say we didn't tell you so. This website is a preview as to what the Jochen Mass NASCAR series will be called and where it will race using hand-me-down NASCAR cars from the USA. USA, Mexico, Canada and now Europe, NASCAR is taking their brand of racing global.
08/28/06 Look for NASCAR to soon announce a NASCAR Europe Series headed up by Jochen Mass. Recall long ago we predicted NASCAR was out to rule the world. Recent expansion has been to Mexico, then Canada in 2007 and Europe in 2008. Rest assured of one thing, when NASCAR tries to do business in Europe, in Bernie's backyard, they stand to get their knuckles slapped, and hard. Bernie will not stand for NASCAR trying to make inroads into his turf knowing how wealthy the France family is.
Champ Car races back on HDTV?UPDATE #2 The IRL production trucks are provided by IMS Productions. Their trucks are standard definition and not HD. So unless Tony George springs for a 6+ million dollar HD truck their broadcasts will not be in HD. What amazes us is they built a new truck last year but did not go HD.
11/27/06 NASCAR has been in HDTV for the past two seasons. Even their F/X races were in HD on their Canadian broadcasts. So although Champ Car was the first when they were on HDNet, NASCAR won that contest two years ago by broadcasting all their races in HD.
11/26/06 Many fans have written to ask us whether Champ Car races will ever be back on high-definition TV again, especially since the Christmas craze this year is HDTVs. From all indications, yes.... if Champ Car picks the right production company who have the equipment to do HD. ABC has a sister broadcast station in HD and ESPN HD is a 24-hour-a-day live simulcast of ESPN, bringing fans ESPN's biggest games from the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL, plus the Women's NCAA Tournament Final Four and championship, all in widescreen, crystal-clear 720 progressive (720p) scan format (DirecTV claims 1080i, most cable companies 720p).
Television stations do broadcast in 1080i also, but no one in the US broadcasts in 1080p. FOX, ABC and ESPN all use 720p, while CBS, NBC and The CW use 1080i. We believe that Mark Cuban’s networks (HDNet and HDNet Movies) also use 1080i. They are limited to 19.4MBs in bandwidth, but you can fit a 1080i signal inside of that with no problems. If you buy a Blu-Ray DVD player there are some movies you can buy or rent that are at true 1080p, and the difference is startling. True 1080p is so real it's scary (Don't be fooled between 1080i and 1080p - 1080p is better, but more expensive (i = interlaced, p = progressive scan). With that said, race broadcasts at 720p or 1080i will look wonderful compared to your old TVs. And for fast motion like race cars, Plasma is definitely better than LCD. LCD is, however, better in bright rooms. This PC Magazine video will explain some things to look for when buying an HDTV set, but it does not discuss 720p vs. 1080i vs. 1080p.
Of course IRL and NASCAR races can also be shown in HD by ESPN. Last year, even though the IRL was broadcast on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 (all of which have HD channels), none of the races were in HD format. Again, probably because of the production company. Maybe it's time for Santa to deliver that HDTV you have been procrastinating over as eventually all programming will be in HD.
So of IRL and Champ Car, which one will step forward and broadcast their races in HD first now that many people are buying HDTV sets?
Sauter to replace JarrettUPDATE The stars appear to have lined up perfectly for Johnny Sauter to drive Robert Yates Racing's #88 Ford Fusion in the Nextel Cup Series next season. Sauter has the inside track to the only car without a driver in the top 35 in the Nextel Cup owner points, guaranteeing a position in the Daytona 500 and the next four races in 2007. Yates is also talking to Ricky Rudd, who doesn't want to compete full time. Unless Yates can induce the 50-year-old Rudd into changing his mind -- and it seems unlikely -- the #88 belongs to Sauter. They're the only two drivers under consideration. CNNSI
11/20/06 Johnny Sauter, a son of veteran racer Jim Sauter, is reported to be in line to take over the vacant ride for Robert Yates next season, taking the spot that Dale Jarrett has had for the past 10 years. Winston Salem Journal
Rumors of Hakkinen comeback persistUPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' as the McLaren seats are all full with Lewis Hamilton getting the last seat. Hakkinen could take on an advisor's role within the team.
11/22/06 The rumors that Mika Hakkinen might make a comeback with McLaren are rather odd. It is hard to believe that McLaren would go down that route when the team has a hotshoe like Lewis Hamilton, who would be signed up within minutes if he was on the open market. And the other car belongs to Fernando Alonso, so there is no chance of Mika taking that one.
So what is going on?
The team has an experienced test driver in Pedro de la Rosa but there is always a chance that McLaren might turn to Hakkinen to ask him to try out the cars and see how they can be developed. Alexander Wurz was an established testing expert with an engineering background and so his move to Williams was definitely a loss to the team. Perhaps Hakkinen might be called in to do occasional tests to sort out problems - and at the same time keep the regular drivers on their toes.
It may not even be as complicated as that. Ron Dennis and Mika Hakkinen have enjoyed a very close relationship for more than 10 years and it may be that Mika just wants to try a Formula 1 car one more time and Ron is happy to do it for old time's sake. Grandprix.com
11/22/06 (GMM) Despite McLaren's recent denial, speculation persists that 1998 and 1999 champion Mika Hakkinen could line up alongside Fernando Alonso at the team in 2007.
Finn Hakkinen, 38, retired from Formula One in 2001 but recently clocked up some miles at the wheel of McLaren's sophisticated driver simulator at its Woking base.
Meanwhile, the Spanish newspaper 'Marca' is now reporting that, at the Ron Dennis led team's behest, Hakkinen underwent a physical examination in view of returning to the cockpit in the near future.
With Pedro de la Rosa and Lewis Hamilton also in the frame, the Mercedes-powered team is expected to announce its 2007 lineup before the turn of the new year.
'Marca' claims that Hakkinen underwent the medical assessment on Monday, a week after chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said: "We currently have no plans to run Mika alongside Alonso next year. The identity of our second driver will be announced in due course."
Slowest driver in F1 makes more than Alonso As long as you are Japanese and you drive for Honda, you apparently are paid a hefty sum. Tooling around at the back of the F1 field may mean Takuma Sato is a hero (in the Japanese eyes only) and deserve to be paid more than the World Champion.
According to Spanish newspaper ‘Marca’, the Super Aguri star pocketed a whopping $7.7 million this year, which means that the 29 year old Japanese took home more money this year than the World Champion Fernando Alonso.
McLaren set to confirm Hamilton for 2007UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. McLaren announced on Friday that British rookie and newly crowned GP2 champion Lewis Hamilton will be Fernando Alonso's teammate in 2007.
A statement issued by the Woking based team also confirmed that Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett are to be retained as test drivers.
Spaniard de la Rosa, 35, occupied the second McLaren seat for much of 2006 and said: "The fact that Lewis will be in the car comes as no surprise.
"Obviously I would have preferred to race myself but also understand why the team has decided to put Lewis in the car. I wish him all the best and look forward to continue working with him."
11/24/06 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton is set to be confirmed by McLaren as Fernando Alonso's rookie teammate for 2007, a specialist magazine reports this week.
Pedro de la Rosa and even Mika Hakkinen were also in contention for the ride, but Stuttgart-based 'Auto Motor und Sport' says that the Hamilton news will be announced next week.
The magazine, however, added that Woking based McLaren toyed with leaving de la Rosa, 35, in place next year, after some engineers reportedly expressed concern about Briton Hamilton's feedback about the setup of the car in his early tests.
21-year-old Hamilton, therefore - despite dominating the GP2 championship in 2006 - may have some rigid performance criteria written into his contract, while Spaniard de la Rosa attends all the grands prix next year as a reserve.
England's 'The Times' newspaper quoted Hamilton as saying: "The trust I have in Ron (Dennis) and Martin (Whitmarsh) and in McLaren Mercedes goes way beyond anything else. They have guided me all the way."
The London-based newspaper also backed Auto Motor und Sport's claims by revealing that team boss Ron Dennis 'made the decision (to sign Hamilton) in the past few days'.
Wilson could leave RuSPORT Three top Champ Car teams are vying for Justin Wilson's services for 2007, this week's Autosport magazine reports.
Wilson's manager Jonathan Palmer said: "It's a fantastic situation to be in. You've got three top teams - RuSPORT, Forsythe and Newman/Haas – who are all very eager to have Justin driving for them next year. We want to take our time over the decision. He's the best guy out there along with Bourdais."
According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Forsythe is most likely to sign Wilson and the deal can be completed as early as today. In fact if you bothered to look at our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season page you would have noticed that we had Wilson listed as going to Forsythe for almost two weeks now. However, we were asked not to say anything about it as negotiations were at a critical stage. He would take AJ Allmendinger's seat.
F1 test role for Glock still open (GMM) Although signed up to charge for the GP2 title in 2007, Timo Glock could also be a test driver for BMW-Sauber next year, German reports said on Friday.
The 24-year-old is scheduled to test twice for the Formula One team in November and December, and the news agency Sport-Informations-Dienst insisted that an official role for Glock alongside 'Friday' driver Sebastian Vettel is still open.
'Sid' added that because Vettel will race in the 'World Series by Renault' in parallel to his grand prix weekends role, he may often be unavailable for certain mid-week tests.
Glock, having tested and raced for Jordan in 2004, and subsequently in Champ Cars, is also more experienced than the teenage rookie Vettel.
The German's manager, Hans-Bernd Kamps, is understood to have built into Glock's iSport GP2 contract the possibility that he conduct a role for a F1 team.
The real story behind the Champ Car Bridgestone deal When Bridgestone announced they will no longer be the presenting sponsor for the Champ Car World Series there was much concern that the series was losing another sponsor. However, AutoRacing1.com has learned that with the new deal Bridgestone will be spending just as much supporting the series as they did before, but in different ways. In addition we have learned that a new presenting sponsor will be announced to replace Bridgestone in that capacity. We await the official announcement. Mark C.
Clarke to stay with CTE Racing-HVM Britain’s Dan Clarke is closing in on a deal to stay with CTE-HVM for next season’s Champ Car World Series, eurosport.com reports.
Clarke, 23, finished 12th in his rookie season with the team, having clinched a drive with the squad only two weeks before the season started.
And, after gaining in momentum in the second half of the season - which included a third place in Denver and a pole position at the demanding Road America track - Clarke is confident of sealing a deal for 2007.
Clarke told eurosport.com: "I don't really get involved in the negotiations, my manager takes care of that, but he is talking to the team and things are going well.
"I want to stay with CTE next season definitely and [team boss] Keith [Wiggins] wants me to stay too. He likes me and I like the team, but nothing is set just yet.
"During the season I've got on better and better with the car and the engineers, and I hope we can build on it next season. The only thing that needs finalizing is the budget, but it's coming along."
Were Homestead races fixed? A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I have noted that a few times you snuck in the line "everything happens in NASCAR for a reason" and I always wondered what you meant by that until this past weekend in Homestead when it finally hit me right in the face. We all know that Ford is in dire straights financially and across the board cuts are coming. How convenient was it that the race was called the Ford 400 and Fords won all three races - Mark Martin in Craftsman Truck, Matt Kenseth in Busch and with Greg Biffle's win in the main event on Sunday. Bud Bilack, Minneapolis
Dear Bud, If you mean did NASCAR fix the races so Ford would win and not cancel their NASCAR program? We have no idea, anything is possible we suppose, but it's quite transparent how things just seem to work out in NASCAR's managed racing environment.
We can tell you that new Ford CEO Alan Mulally got the royal treatment from Ford Racing personnel in a well orchestrated introduction to Ford racing's activities in NASCAR. (L to R) Alan Mulally, President and CEO Ford Motor Company with Edsel B Ford II and Dan Davis.
It was clear to everyone in the paddock that day that Mulally got in-depth exposure to Ford's involvement in NASCAR, so that they could live to race another day. The fact that they won all three races mind you, was just the icing on the cake that Ford Racing needed to see their funding continued. Mark C.
ROC coming to USA According to AutoRacing1.com sources, the Race of Champions hosted in Paris in December of every year will spin off a Race of Champions USA that will see regional events and a national playoff for the ROC USA title. Hopefully this series will eventually replace the current NASCAR centric IROC series which highly favors NASCAR drivers.
NASCAR losing another sponsor With the cost of sponsorship in NASCAR rising and TV ratings dropping, companies are beginning to question their NASCAR sponsorship. Rumor has it that Schwan's Home Service, who sponsored #45-Kyle Petty in five 2006 races, and who had NASCAR sponsor deals in years previous to that, will not sponsor any Nextel Cup team in 2007.
Alonso could make early McLaren debut (GMM) Despite recent reports to the contrary, world champion Fernando Alonso may be able to make an early test debut for McLaren in 2006.
Spanish newspaper 'Diario As' on Wednesday claimed that the 25-year-old could drive this year's Woking built car at Jerez in mid December, even though his 2006 Renault contract runs through to the end of next month.
The three day test between 12-15 December is the most likely date, the newspaper said.
'As' contends that the main obstacle to an early release for Alonso is not Renault, but Michelin. F1's departing French supplier is understandably keen to fully exploit his back-to-back championship triumph, and this is not compatible with Alonso completing hundreds of kilometres on rival Bridgestone tires.
"But the negotiations are still open," 'As' wrote, "and the Asturian could be with the Silver Arrows at Jerez."
Alonso has already visited McLaren's Woking factory and had an early cockpit fitting. Reportedly, he requested that the seating position of the MP4-21 be lowered prior to his debut.
Dempsey might buy into NASCAR team Rumor has it that Patrick Dempsey (pictured right) is looking at buying into a NASCAR team. No word on which division or how serious he is, but it came out of Miami where he was a guest at the finale. Makes sense since he’s done some driving in Grand Am…perhaps NASCAR wants him to help prop things up some?
$7.7m Sato one of F1’s highest earners (GMM) Despite racing near the very back of the Formula One grid, Japanese driver Takuma Sato is reportedly among the sport's highest earners.
Following the revelation that his 2007 Super Aguri teammate Anthony Davidson will earn about $250,000 next year, the Spanish newspaper 'Marca' contends that Sato's annual salary - including sponsorship endorsements - is around the (US)$7.7m mark.
Estimates earlier in 2006 said back to back world champion Fernando Alonso would make $7.2 million in 2006, although his salary at McLaren next year is to be reportedly higher.
If the Sato calculation is accurate, meanwhile, it would mean that the 29-year-old is also more annually lucrative than names including David Coulthard, Mark Webber, Jenson Button and Giancarlo Fisichella.
Tree huggers trying to stop Mont Tremblant raceUPDATE The rumor is quickly downgraded to 'false.' The City gave the track the test days and noise days it required last week. The Journal de Montreal is working off of old data.
11/21/06 According to this French Canadian Journal de Montreal article, some citizens near the Mont Tremblant race course are trying to stop the Champ Car race from happening by using noise as a reason. We doubt they will succeed, but as is typical with tree huggers, they like to see their names in the media - makes them feel important by trying to stop progress. This race track has been there long before they lived there. Guess what comes from a race track? You've got it - noise. The judge will likely tell them to go pound sand, er or hug another tree.
The article does mention that the promoter is prepared to move the race to the Montreal race promoter Alan Labrosse's Mirabel Airport track which we have seen and can say that it's a plan worth considering. In fact the race would draw far more people from Montreal than Mont-Tremblant, hence overall attendance would be much higher at Mirabel Airport. This would mean that Mont-Tremblant would lose all the money that the race would bring to the local economy. The mayor is going to be very unhappy with those tree huggers should this happen.
Seen/overheard at HomesteadUPDATE #2 More evidence that the ABC/ESPN TV deal for Champ Car caught NASCAR folks off guard, Dean McNulty writes in his latest Sun article:
The light at the end of the tunnel for the Champ Car World Series may not be a train after all.
The multi-year deal Kevin Kalkhoven and partners [Editor's Note: A lot of credit goes to Champ Car's Mark Reilly for negotiating Champ Car's best TV contract in years] signed last week to have their races on sports television giant ESPN could very well shed enough light on the series to bring it back into the consciousness of American sports fans.
So important was this new television package that its signing became the topic de jour at the NASCAR Nextel Cup championship weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. And trust me, when those guys perk up and pay attention to what's going on in another racing series, you know it must have had an impact.
The most amusing anecdote making the rounds in South Florida was a variation on what it must have been like to be in a room with Indy Racing League owner Tony George when he first got the news that his personal piggy bank (ESPN/ABC) was letting his rivals make a withdrawal.
The folks at ESPN, however, were certainly pleased with the announcement. Kim Jessup, a publicist for ESPN who was at the NASCAR final, said the Champ Car package completed a programming lineup that has all of North America's major racing series under one umbrella.
"ESPN/ABC now has NASCAR Nextel Cup, the Busch Series, the NHRA (drag racing), Champ Car and Indy Cars," she said. "If a motor racing fan is looking for a fix, he or she knows to come to ESPN/ABC."
11/20/06 Word among the NASCAR crews in Homestead is that A.J. Allmendinger is being set up for a big fall his first year to 1) Ensure Toyota pays their dues before being allowed to win, 2) To prove NASCAR drivers are the best in the world, though we always thought IROC was slanted to prove that......1/2 way through the race we spotted a dozen media members on the tram heading out of the speedway. We also noted many of the "Hispanic" media bored to tears with the most boring of all races. Why is the season finale at Homestead, the most boring of all tracks? Oops, we forgot, the France family owns it.
11/20/06 Seen at Homestead: Max Papis (no surprise) and Roberto Moreno (friend of JP Montoya)
Eddie Cheever is rumored to be looking into possibly starting a Busch team.
The Montoya experiment is a failure so far. The cheers he received at the drivers introduction of the Busch race was less than those for drivers like Stacey Compton. The Busch race was the gauge as the Cup race was sold out months before the JPM move. Our sources at the credential offices said the number of "Hispanic" credential requests were about the same as last year.
NASCAR officials were ticked off with Montoya's entourage as they blocked the walking area behind his pits.
NASCAR really has nothing to say officially about the ABC/ESPN Champ Car deal. Off the record there is some grumbling. Seems they were expecting to be the only real game on the Network a la FOX. IRL and NHRA are considered filler.
Almirola could make Cup debut in 2007 Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs said Tampa product Aric Almirola is likely to make his Nextel Cup debut next season as part of a plan to enter him in up to 20 Busch Series races and test a research and development car for the team's three current Cup programs. NASCAR holds seven open test sessions for all Cup teams and a driver must try to qualify for a race after attending the first two. They must then try to qualify for a race for every subsequent test. "For our future, it's our best option to concentrate on Busch stuff with him," Gibbs said. "It's only five races (less than) a full truck season so he'll probably benefit more from working with our guys." Almirola will race in both JGR's #18 and #20 Busch Chevrolet entry, Gibbs said. St Petersburg Times
Robbie Buhl eyes Champ CarUPDATE #4 QUESTION: I sent Robbie Buhl a message at Robbie Buhl Racing and got a reply. Is he starting his own team? (Ryan, Noblesville, Ind.) ANSWER: No, I don’t think so. But don’t be surprised if Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is in Champ Car next season with an Indianapolis 500 component. Champ Car seems to be cheaper right now, and Buhl and Dennis Reinbold are being too quiet about their sponsors to suggest they’re staying solely in the IRL. And just so we’re clear on this: the IRL cannot afford to be losing ANY team, much less the smaller ones. Curt Cavin, Indy Star
11/07/06 With Stoddart now almost certain to buy the RuSPORT team, any notion that he will buy Dreyer & Reinbold goes out the door. The team might still move to Champ Car, however, but we still suspect Tony George, who is hurting badly for car count for his Indy Car series in 2007 (16 at best right now), will find a way to keep them in the fold.
11/04/06 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, What's the chances Dreyer & Reinbold will really move to Champ Car and could the team that Stoddart might buy into be this team? Amy Wright, Los Angeles
Dear Amy, We expect that Stoddart will buy into an Indianapolis based team, which Dreyer & Reinbold are, and it was interesting that the team picked up both engineers that were laid off from Fernandez Racing despite not having any concrete plans or sponsors for next year. Although the team has no Champ Car experience, the two engineers that they picked up do, and with the new Champ Car coming in next year, everyone is starting from a clean sheet of paper, so now would be the time to make the move.
However, with that said, Dreyer and Reinbold is an "IRL team" and one has to wonder whether them coming to Road America to meet with Champ Car officials was a sincere effort to switch to Champ Car, or a ploy to extract more money from Tony George's bank account to keep them in the fold. Mark C.
11/01/06 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced the hiring of Fernandez Racing's engineers Tuesday, the latest sign that Adrian Fernandez's Indianapolis-based team might not return to the Indy Racing League next season.
Fernandez co-owner Tom Anderson said his staff has been whittled to a bare minimum because the team lacks a primary sponsor. Among the layoffs were veteran engineers John Dick and Chris Finch, who were hired by Dreyer & Reinbold, another Indianapolis-based team.
Dennis Reinbold said his one-car team is in better financial shape, but he is not ready to say it will return to the IRL, which it joined in 2000. Reinbold and partner Robbie Buhl are considering a move to the Champ Car World Series.
"Right now, we just don't have enough information," Reinbold said. "The only thing we're doing is building up our team." Indy Star
09/22/06 Seen at Road America Thursday was Ryan Hunter-Reay and Robby Gordon here participating in the Fred Stratton (Briggs & Stratton) Annual Track Day. Also spotted Robbie Buhl and his Dryer & Reinbold entourage thoroughly eyeing the new Panoz Champ Car this morning. Honda PR man Dan Layton was spotted renewing old acquaintances........Spotted the Discovery Channel filming the CTE Racing-HVM team for a documentary to be aired next year.
Gordon leaves door open for Indy 500 run Robby Gordon says he wants to get his Nextel Cup team right first before making any decisions concerning a run in the Indianapolis 500, but that it's still possible that he would do that in 2007. "I think looking at the package for the Indy 500 every team have the same tools to work with only one engine supplier, one tire manufacturer, it will probably be the most competitive it has ever been and that would be kind of fun," said Gordon. "But, this year, I don't know what we are going to do based on Indy. I would rather wait until the first six or eight Cup races next year so we can say OK, are we sitting here in 15th in points, have we made the improvements we think we are going to make with our program next year, and then make that decision, instead of just saying OK we are going to do it now. I have been offered a lot of rides out there to drive Indy."
Martin eyes possible Roush return Mark Martin said he was leaving the book open on possibly returning to Roush Racing. Next year, Martin will race 20 Nextel Cup points races in Chevrolets for MB2 Motorsports, plus two Cup special events. He'll also race Chevrolets in a partial Busch Series schedule. He will, he said, maintain a tie to Fords, which he's competed in for the last 19 years for owner Jack Roush, by way of a limited schedule of "five to 10" Craftsman Truck races in F-150s fielded by Wood Brothers/JTG Racing. But after he won Friday night's Ford 200 Craftsman Truck Series race in Roush's No. 6 Ford, Martin said who knew what the future would hold?
"This is sweet," Martin said. "Jack and I have done this a lot together and Sunday is our last chance, for a while anyway. You never know what'll happen in the future. I've seen a lot of crazy things happen over there."
Chase format might be tweaked NASCAR CEO Brian France told reporters Sunday the sanctioning body is considering tweaking next season's Chase format by awarding extra championship points to race winners.
"We're looking at making the win more important," France said. "We're always trying to figure out how to do that. We'll sort that out in the off-season."
And following a season during which television ratings sagged, France is optimistic the addition of open-wheel racer Juan Pablo Montoya and ABC/ESPN, which joins Fox and TNT as NASCAR's television partners, will breathe new life into the sport.
"It's harder to grow when you reach the level we're at," France said. "We think there's no question it's an under-covered sport today. That will change over time, as the acceptance of this sport all over the country gets better.
"ESPN is going to help us go after the casual sports fan in the area that we're weakest. I love where we're at, and we're excited about where we're going." Atlanta Journal Constitution
Champ Car may sanction Ford Mustang series As befits the fastest, most powerful Ford Mustang ever to be sold by the company, almost everything on the Mustang FR500GT that doesn’t make it go faster has been eliminated. That carbon-fiber and aluminum rear wing — 15 possible positions — is there for a reason, as is the carbon-fiber front splitter. They help hold the car down at top speed, which, we learned, is 172 mph, engine screaming at the 7200-rpm redline in sixth. Geared for top speed, this is certainly an over-200-mph car. As it is, performance numbers are pretty respectable for a car built not for acceleration but for road-course racing: 0 to 60 mph comes in 3.9 seconds, the quarter-mile in 12.1 seconds at 123 mph. The skidpad number is 1.15 g, with a full tank of 100 octane.
Typically, an automaker’s motive for building a car like this is slightly masturbatory, conceived, then achieved, with little more of a long-term goal than making yourself feel good while showing off. Not so with the King of All Mustangs: Ford, which is expected to lose upwards of $5 billion this year, really isn’t in a position to engage too much in self-gratification. Dan Davis figures he can build two of these cars a week and already has orders for them, despite minimal publicity.
Doornbos to replace Speed at Toro Rosso?UPDATE #10 (GMM) Official confirmation is still lacking, but team co-owner Gerhard Berger again said Toro Rosso will contest the 2007 season with the same race drivers.
Scuppering speculation that Robert Doornbos could oust Scott Speed after just one year on the grid, Berger said the Californian rookie and Vitantonio Liuzzi will again be teammates when the circus reconvenes in Australia next March.
"We are not going to change our drivers," Austrian Berger told the magazine 'Kicker'.
Of the delay, he explained: "Before we could announce our drivers we had to settle other things, such as the engine, and we have done that now."
Toro Rosso will be powered by Ferrari V8s in 2007, after lengthy negotiations with the Maranello marque paved the way for sister team Red Bull to use a Renault engine next year.
11/11/06 Scuderia Toro Rosso boss Gerhard Berger says he has no intention to sign Red Bull's Robert Doornbos and he has no idea were the stories are coming from.
The stories are of course coming from the Doornbos camp. As Planet-F1 published on Tuesday the 7th the young drivers spokesperson stated that possible talks were underway and that things may be settle within the next month.
Berger has often hinted that he was likely to retain both Scott Speed and Tonio Liuzzi for the 2007 season but poor showings in the last couple of round of the 2006 season have reportedly not pleased the Austrian team boss
With his Red Bull connection Doornbos may well be considered a likely STR option but Berger has denied any move for the 2006 Red Bull test driver.
"I know nothing about these rumors," Berger told Austria's Salzburger Nachtrichten newspaper.
"It's true that we haven't confirmed our drivers for 2007, but that is because we were busy with other things in the last few weeks.
"Now that the engine question has been cleared, we can think about it, but the choice won't be made officially until after Didi [Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz] and I get together."
Another factor heavily in the favor of Doornbos is of course the great sponsorship deals the Dutchmen bring to a team, but even taking into account Berger said the move was not on cards.
"There will be no surprises, but the one thing I can say is that Robert Doornbos plays no role in our considerations. And his sponsorship will not either." PlanetF1
11/08/06 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Gerhard Berger has moved to cool speculation that Toro Rosso is on the verge of axing American racer Scott Speed after only a single season in F1.
The Faenza based team's co-owner responded cagily to reports that Dutchman Robert Doornbos could be accommodated alongside Vitantonio Liuzzi in 2007, but indicated that the gossip might be wide of the mark.
"The driver question will be answered officially only after Didi (Dietrich Mateschitz) and I discuss it, but there will not be any great surprises," Berger, 47, was quoted as saying by the Austrian newspaper 'Salzburger Nachrichten'.
Former grand prix winner Berger hinted several times towards the end of last season that Toro Rosso would be almost certainly stick with Speed and Liuzzi, and now adds: "I only want to say this -- Robert Doornbos is not playing a role in our deliberations."
He also rejected suggestions that the Italian squad could be attracted by drivers with personal sponsorship dollars.
This of course if great news for Champ Car and Paul Stoddart as now it is likely Doornbos will drive for Stoddart's team in Champ Car. We have updated our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season page accordingly.
Greg Specht to retire? Greg Specht, a veteran NASCAR field manager and the director of racing operations for Ford, is indicating he will be turning the reins over to someone else for 2007 and possibly retiring after 30 years in the business. But it's unclear who might replace Specht, who has been the right-hand man for Ford racing boss Dan Davis. Winston Salem Journal
Mexico City chicane to be altered Many a complaint was aimed at the Mickey Mouse chicane the Champ Cars had to use at this year's Mexico City race to slow the cars before the blind and fast Peraltada corner. The request from Champ Car to bypass the stadium and install the chicane came too late for the promoter OCESA to apply for the necessary permits to construct the chicane as originally intended. Forced to make use of existing pavement, the chicane ended up being a major compromise. Word is that next year a proper chicane will be installed that involves laying new asphalt adjacent to the existing race surface.
NASCAR protecting Montoya Word in the NASCAR paddock is hands-off, or shall we say bumpers off, Juan Montoya. It is well known in NASCAR that they don't like outsiders coming in and winning. Because contact is accepted in NASCAR it just takes a little nudge from a driver behind you to send you spinning. Most open wheel drivers have failed in NASCAR for that very reason. Not so with Juan Montoya. NASCAR wants its diversity program to work and so they want Montoya to succeed, hence why when Ryan Newman put Montoya in the wall late in the Homestead Nextel Cup race Sunday he was immediately summoned to the NASCAR trailer for a stern talking to. In fact Newman admitted to this very thing happening. Photo by CIA Stock photo
AJ Allmendinger, Michel Jourdain Jr, Jacques Villeneuve, etc. - they all remain fair game to the chrome bumper, but for Montoya the word's out - race him clean.
In this Richmond Times story Newman didn't admit to the fact he punted Montoya on purpose, but of course he would not. Rest assured he won't do it again.
Ryan Newman's final night of the 2006 season lasted a little longer than he had planned when he was called to the NASCAR hauler after #30-Juan Pablo Montoya spun into the wall and his car burst into flames. "That's just one of those things," Montoya said. "He came up to me and if that's what he wanted to do, I don't care. I'm not racing for points or anything here." Newman spun into the grass with 21 laps to go and said that was his fault with no help from Montoya, who was beside him when it happened. When Newman was behind Montoya when his car went into a tailspin, NASCAR officials wanted to talk to Newman to find out if it was a payback move. "We were basically going for the same piece of real estate," Newman said when he came out of the hauler. "His bumper went across my nose and it spun him out. This was nobody but racing's fault, in my opinion. I felt bad for the situation because obviously it looked like I was retaliating and that wasn't the case, and that's what we talked about in there." Richmond Times Dispatch
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