Overheard at Sonoma - Saturday
Some team owners still do not want to see body kits introduced next year because they will likely all be the same after a year or so, just like F1 cars all look very similar. Everyone copies a winning design.
We hear that Entergy, the Nuclear Energy sponsor for the HVM Racing team are on the fence about returning. We hear they are very disappointed that they are hamstringed with a Lotus engine they can't replace because of the politics between IndyCar and Lotus over breaking of the Lotus contract so they can depart.
We hear most team owners feel Randy Bernard's doubleheaders won't work. Promoters are not going to pay two sanction fees for the weekend and a Saturday race would take away from the Sunday attendance. So instead of having one successful event you end up with two poorly attended (i.e. loser) events.
We hear teams are asking where is next year's schedule? Budgets are set in September and sponsors want to know how many races there will be in 2013.....and where. Bernard promised a 2013 schedule by the 2nd week in September. We doubt they will make it to Bernard's 19-race goal but we'll see. They will need four new races for next year to make it to 19 and that assumes none of the existing races drop out. Houston is one and definite.
We hear ticket and hospitality sales are going very well in Baltimore given the late start Andretti got. And the Sonoma Raceway president was meeting with IndyCar officials this afternoon with the goal of renewing. In other track news, look for the Long Beach race to again be on the NBC Sports Network in 2013 and rumors of a possible Pocono race have gone silent.
Hearing Takuma Sato is likely back with Rahal in 2013 and Katherine Legge will not race in Baltimore for Dragon as previously reported. It will be Bourdais. Legge will race in Fontana.
Hearing that Justin Wilson's younger brother Stephan is working hard to put an IndyCar deal together for 2013. As always, money will be an issue.
Despite pissing on a woman's shoes and getting himself thrown in jail after a night of partying recently, Jay Penske's girlfriend Elaine Irwin (former wife of musician John Mellencamp) is here in Sonoma and hanging out in Jay's pits so it appears they are still together despite his recent publicity.
And finally, we hear Cosworth is near 100% certain out of F1 when the new engines get introduced and we spotted NHRA legend Don Prudhomme once again in the IndyCar paddock. Hmm........ Mark C. reporting from Sonoma