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DATE News (chronologically)
12/18/06
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Stoddart set to announce Champ Car team  UPDATE #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 

11/11/06 The Minardi name is set to appear in the Champ Car World Series next season, according to Australian Paul Stoddart.  Stoddart ran Minardi in Formula One from 2001-2005 before selling the squad Red Bull, who re-branded it as Scuderia Toro Rosso.  But, after returning to his native Australia to run his airline OzJet, he has decided it is time for a return to racing, and intends to resurrect the Minardi name stateside by the middle of next week.

"It's almost a certainty that Minardi will be in Champ Car in 2007," Stoddart said. "The final details of the plan will be communicated in the next few days."

Stoddart retained the commercial rights to use the Minardi name when he sold up, and will either buy an existing team or start a new one from scratch. Eurosport 

11/09/06 This week's Autosport Magazine reports Paul Stoddart saying,  "I'm buying an Indianapolis-based team, but I can't say more than that for now," he said. "I'd like to be able to announce it in Mexico City this weekend."

11/09/06 (GMM)  Should Paul Stoddart set up his Champ Car team for 2007, the former F1 principal will call it 'Minardi', according to reports.

The Dutch magazine Formule 1 RaceReport says that although original team founder Gian Carlo Minardi is also taking the name to the GP2 series next year, Stoddart actually owns the word 'Minardi' for use with non-Italian based racing teams.

Former Minardi F1 drivers, meanwhile - including Jos Verstappen - are being linked with Stoddart's potential Champ Car squad, as is ex-Toyota test driver Ryan Briscoe.

"There are quite a few of my ex-drivers getting around and there's always new talent," Stoddart said.

11/08/06 With the announcement that Trust will sponsor the Spyker F1 team (see Hot News page) one was to wonder whether they would back Verstappen in Champ Car.

11/07/06 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, The chance of Stoddart buying RuSPORT has not been alive for several days. There is another deal working for RuSPORT partnership and Stoddart has turned to another direction, which we assume is HVM. One reason we hear is that Stoddart wants the team in Indy and not in Colorado.

11/07/06 Another thought here, I wondered if CDW would stay with the team or if they would go someplace else. If the contract was correctly written, there will be an “out” clause if the team is sold, or at least right of approval for other sponsors on the team. On the surface, Trust and CDW could co-exist, but they kind of do the same thing. CDW is not in Europe, and Trust is not in the USA, so it may not be an issue. Just a thought…Mark C.

11/07/06 Hearing that the RuSPORT being sold to Stoddart is pretty much a done deal if it has not happened already. If true, this certainly is not a big plus for Champ Car as originally thought because it adds absolutely zero cars to the grid and Champ Car loses one of its billionaire team owners. Not that Paul Stoddart isn't financially well-to-do, but we doubt to the level Russo was. Now it becomes clearer why Kevin Kalkhoven was saying 22 cars on the Champ Car grid when everyone else was counting 24. This of course means Stoddart would run Wilson who is already signed and maybe Verstappen, which could leave Ryan Briscoe looking for a ride again.  Perhaps Briscoe will end up with Team Australia after all.  It also could be that the RuSPORT team is moved from Colorado to Indianapolis, which is where Stoddart said he wanted his Minardi team based.  We have updated our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season page accordingly.

11/07/06 The following two biographical articles about Carl Russo appeared in Business Week last year: 
http://yahoo.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_07/b3920107.htm
http://yahoo.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_07/b3920105.htm
He's an impressive, self-made man indeed!

11/06/06 SPEEDTV.com has an article by Robin Miller that says Paul Stoddart could buy RuSPORT from Carl Russo who may leave motorsports to run his Calix company that is being sold to a new owner for a huge sum of money.  One can assume the buyer wants Russo to focus all his efforts on Calix.

11/06/06 In this weekly Telesport column Verstappen says he will race in Champ Car or German DTM in 2007. This adds to the credibility of the rumors that Verstappen might be coming to Champ Car with Trust sponsorship for Stoddart's team. It is looking increasingly likely that Stoddart's team will be Champ Car's "Dutch" team.  Trust may also get involved with the Spyker F1 team according to this Dutch article.

11/02/06 The Minardi team is almost certain to enter Champ Cars next year with Paul Stoddart planning to make an announcement within the next 10 days. We understand that there are still three options available to the team, all of which will involve acquiring current teams. Stoddart is not giving anything away at the moment but says that it will probably be an Indianapolis-based team. Stoddart says that there are three drivers in the frame, all of them ex-Minardi F1.

"And Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso are not on the list!" he says.

Nor, for that matter, is Robert Doornbos who seems more and more likely to be sliding into a Scuderia Toro Rosso drive next year, alongside Tonio Liuzzi. If that happens Scott Speed is going to be looking for work although it is possible that Red Bull will help out its long-time protégé by funding a ride in America, perhaps alongside Neel Jani at PKV Racing.

The Minardi name will thus be appearing in both GP2 and Champ Car as Giancarlo Minardi owns the right to use the name in association with an Italian company and Stoddart owns the right to use the name in relation to a British-based company. Grandprix.com

10/28/06 This Dutch website story pretty much says the same thing we told you below, that Verstappen (with Trust money) and Doornbos (with Muermans money) could form an all-Dutch team headed by Paul Stoddart. Stay tuned as this story develops......

10/27/06 Former Minardi Formula One owner Paul Stoddart is close to inking a deal to return to open-wheel racing with a new team in the Champ Car world series for next season. Stoddart continued negotiations with power brokers of the series at the Surfers Paradise Indy last weekend. The Australian, who amassed a fortune as an aviation entrepreneur, rates his chances of fielding a team in the born-again North American-based championship as 50/50.

Sitting beside Champ Car series owner Kevin Kalkhoven, Stoddart was excited about the possibility of competing in the revitalized series. "It's too early to say anything other than we're certainly interested and we're looking," Stoddart said. "I think it's a 50/50 chance but improving as time goes on. The devil is in the detail and there are a lot of detailed discussions to be had."

"There are quite a few of my ex-drivers getting around and there's always new talent," Stoddart said.

"What's really important in all this is that everybody I run into, whether they be ex-drivers or friends, they all say the same thing: We hope you come in here, it's a really friendly place, it's a good place to be and its great racing'."

Stoddart says the Champ Car culture and structure provide the basis for a successful package. "Let's face it, at the end of the day that's what it's all about, it is a sport and it's also a business," he said. "But if you've got good close racing and friendly competition, especially fan-friendly competition, you've got the basis of success."

"From what I can see looking at Champ Cars, yes, there are differences in budgets but at the same time it certainly seems there is a lot more opportunity for a mid-budget team to be extremely successful with the right driver." Excerpts from Courier Mail

10/25/06 We hear from a source in Holland that deals with Perridon/Trust that they convinced popular Dutchman Jos Verstappen not to drive in A1GP this off-season because, as rumor has it, Verstappen will drive for Stoddart's Champ Car team with Trust money. Although a rumor, it makes sense as all three worked together before in F1 and Trust was always behind Jos. We think racing in Europe will be the key to this deal and that fact is all but a foregone conclusion at this point it would seem.

Image to right from Jos Verstappen-Minardi press conference, in Rotterdam in January of 2003. To the left of Verstappen is Trust's Michael Perridon and to the right is Paul Stoddart. Image courtesy of Minardi Formula 1. 

As a little background to this relationship - three years ago Jos had $12M in sponsorship from Perridon/Trust but Jos wanted more and more salary. Perridon considered Jos a close friend but broke all connections with Jos and didn't even talk to him for two years. A few months ago Jos and Perridon sat down and they talked things out and are on good terms again. Rumor has it that Jos already has a contract for next year with Trust, and it's not for DTM. The Champ Car deal may be why the last minute A1GP Zandvoort fiasco happened that saw Verstappen withdraw from the Dutch team in the 11th hour.

Further to this rumor is the fact that the other backer of this team is Muermans who wants another Dutchman, Robert Doornbos in the other seat, making it the "Dutch" Champ Car team. This of course is contingent on Doornbos not driving in F1 next year. We have updated our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season page to reflect the possibility of this rumor being true.

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