Sunday, December 31, 2006

Champ Car sends Devoted Fan Fuming

While this years Champ Car World Series saw improved racing along with several bouts of “wrasslin” there were also moments of despair. How to NOT influence loyal fans reared its ugly head inside the Portland paddock…

Portland; Friday, June 16th:
It sprinkles on the way to track… This year I’ve finally decided to “Go for It!” by purchasing a paddock pass to ensure early entrance into the infield. I’ve brought my Molson Indy poster along for the autograph session at the end of the day. (Having made a custom carrying tube for my poster & encasing in plastic to protect from the elements…)

Crossing the pedestrian bridge approx. halfway through the Atlantic’s practice session, I noticed a Champ Car driver appear in a blue driving suit to sign a kid’s program. Not knowing who it was, I later decided it,

Must have been Paul “krackman” Tracy since he had bright blonde hair…?
Meandering my way towards the very end of the pit lane exit, I noticed what appeared to be a huge silent blob approaching me… “What the Hell?” It turned out to be the Forsythe pit crew pushing one of the blue & white Indeck Lola’s to the grid…

Next I scooted out of the way as the Dale Coyne pit crew pirouetted the #19 on a jack to back it into its paddock stall. A third car passed by as the teams moved to grid their cars along pit lane…

When I’d first entered the paddock I noticed that the 27 Atlantic’s sounded like an angry pack ‘O bee’s buzzing the circuit. It was such a surreal moment when Portland International Raceway went absolutely silent during the brief break between warm-up sessions. The silence was only broken by the sound of the air guns bbrrap- bbrrap- bbrrap as they bolted on fresh rubber just prior to going green…

With military precision the engines came to life exactly as the Champ Car practice session began, the car on the very end of pit lane nearest the exit selected first gear, squealed his tire’s and rocketed onto track… Six more cars joined the fracas as they made deliberate downshifts into the chicane during their exploratory laps on the still slightly damp circuit…

As the circulating cars are now at full song along the front straight. I watch and listen to the various pitches of these cruise missiles stumbling down pit lane on their restrictive pit lane speed limiters. “Wog-Wog-Wog-Wog-Wog” as it takes what seems an eternity before lurching to full throttle after crossing the exit stripe…

Others nearer pit lane exit simply mash the “go-pedal” on the floor, screaming “RRRRRRRRRRRbbbbbrrrrrrrrr” at maximum RPM’s utilizing the speed limiter as a form of traction control to quickly heat the cold “Flinstones.” (Bridgestone Potenza tires) It’s amazing to hear these beasts upshift 3 gears before entering the Festival curves which are only a few hundred yards away!

During a lull in the on-track action I walked along the pit lane checking for better vantage points. Hey that dude looked just like Robin Miller climbing over the pit lane barrier…

After all the cars had made preliminary runs they circulated back into the pits and began bolting on new tires…

While attempting to quickly rejoin the action the lead car stalls at the pit lane exit! The track goes silent as this causes a red flag period. In the silence the mechanic’s begrudgingly go out and push the stricken car back to its pit box. Then as the session goes green, the embarrassed driver uses maximum engine revolutions ensuring a massive burn out to launch him onto the track…

“I love the smell of Methanol in the Morning!” Actually it was the fragrances of burnt rubber during several heat cycles being applied to the tortured “Flinstones…” along with some funky smelling petrol that wafted past me from the end of pit lane…

Following practice I walked around the entire paddock again, listening to various people muse about the “Salad days ‘O CART.” I did have to agree that the paddock was definitely more crowded during the 1990’s era of factory engine wars. (Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota)

Walking towards the pedestrian bridge I heard the sound of a snarling auto approaching. I followed the car, watching its driver reverse into his parking stall. It turned out to be a silver Factory Five Type 65 Daytona coupe replica. I was amazed to notice how small this chassis seemed to me, since the real Daytona coupes I’d seen at Sonoma 11yr’s earlier had seemed much larger…

Following my unfruitful efforts of trying to view the various Champ Cars being worked on underneath their team awnings (which car is that?) I went over to my grandstand seat to watch Atlantic qualifying. A brief rain squall passed through basically wiping out any chance of the Atlantic drivers posting any fast laps.

Then I watched champ car qualifying from the far southwest end of the track, just past the motor home parking after the Festival curves. The session was briefly red flagged when Oriel Servia crashed into the barrier exiting the back straight. Servia would destroy 2 cars in the same spot during Friday & Saturday qualifying…

During the days proceedings I found it intriguing to notice the differences of engine tones between the various race classes. The Formula Ford’s sounded like aggravating mosquitoes, the Atlantic’s like bee’s and then the siren song of REAL racing engines as the turbocharged V-8 champ cars go blazing by!

Just prior to the end of qualifying I went back across the pedestrian bridge to the infield to stand in line for the upcoming champ car driver’s autograph session. Arriving at 3:05PM a long line was already forming. Standing with my white cane the people in line were very friendly, telling me which line was each foursome of drivers. Stating I’d never done this before and was hoping to get all the driver’s to sign my poster, the couple in front of me explained how to accomplish this, telling me how to work from longest line to shortest…

I had a great time “kibitzing” with the other fans in line. We chatted ‘bout F1, the Michelin tire debacle, CHUMP CARZS, etc. When Marco Andretti’s name came up-a diehard CART fan retorted: “Sounds like you need an intervention!” (Interesting to know there's still a loyal champ car base, eh?)
“That race is OK,” (Indy 500) grumbled the man who’d wanted to give us an intervention. I’m sure I didn’t score any points by saying that I just want the two series to merge since they both have a PATHETIC lack of entrants…

Then we “jeered” the drivers as they arrived on their scooter’s… I made a wisecrack ‘bout “Sand Dune” Tracy using the “chrome horn” to get to the front of the line…

It pains me to admit that “Sugar Ray” Tracy was by far the most popular driver of the fans as we stood in the longest line waiting for him…

Katherine Legge is definitely doing a good “Danica,” since the women want to meet her. At least that was all the woman in front of me could talk about…

The first group (Tracy, Legge, Justin Wilson & Graham Rahal) all signed my poster and I quickly walked to the end of the next line. (Sebastian Bourdais, Bruno Junqueira, Alex Tagliani & Nelson Philippe) While the couple I’d been standing in line chatted-up the drivers I stood there waiting to move forward to the table, since they were blocking my way…

Whoever the driver was? (Unfortunately all the drivers were wearing identical green champ car polo’s with the STUPID Champ Car logo…) He just stared at me. I asked him to please sign my poster, (twice!) but he just kept staring at me as the couple in front of me continued “kibitzing” with the other drivers…

Then he stood up, holding a card in his hand without ever saying anything… Still trying to move forward to have my poster signed a lady came over and told me to keep moving, you’re holding the line up! SHEISA! (Should have whacked her with my WHITE CANE!!!)

Dumbfounded I simply took the card the nameless driver was brandishing in front of me. (Since I was UNABLE to recognize their faces…) This in turn led to the other three drivers doing the same thing. (BUTT I DID NOT WANT THE F##KING “MicDoogle’s” CARD!)

(Since the WHOLE purpose of going to the Autograph session was to have ALL of the drivers SIGN my Molson Indy Vancouver, BC poster! Which several of this year’s drivers NEVER competed in…)

I blew through the third & fourth lines, which were much friendlier! The entire driver’s signed my poster and two of the driver’s in the shortest line actually spoke to me! Amazingly I managed to get all 16 drivers autographs in just less than 1 hour…

I spent the rest of the weekend cursing Bourdais for being an ASSHOLE! Since I’d originally thought he was the culprit who wouldn’t sign my poster, I was thrilled when he didn’t win his 5th consecutive race… (He did whine during the podium interview)

Upon returning home I wrote a letter to champ car describing this experience, since they haven’t replied to my previous emails… Unfortunately Champ Cars has also been too LAME to answer my letter…

As I think back the jerk who wouldn’t sign my poster wasn’t wearing glasses and was either Bruno or TAG? I suspect it was most likely Alex Tagliani… (GOOD RIDDENCE if the rumours are true ‘bout TAG going to the CRAP-Man trucks next year!) And if it was “Junky” (Bruno Junqueira) then GOOD RIDDENCE to him also… As I will hope that Graham Rahal is soon announced as his REPLACEMENT!!! (And let “Sea Bass” go off to Formula 1 and get his ASS KICKED in a Scuderia Toro Rosso…)

Regardless of whom it was I think they should have had a little more savvy, eh?

UPDATE
The following year, Champ Cars Swan song, and unfortunately the final ‘BigCarz event at Portland; Can you hear me now Mr. Bernard? I went back again with my trusty Molson Indy poster that Mary Ellen had secured for me upon ‘Juan of our visits to
Exhibition Place
; think she secured it for Mwah when retrieving our tickets from Will Call? But I digress...

This time I wasn’t to be denied, turned away, scolded, ridiculed or whatever... As I’m On a Mission, a mission from; Oh Never Mind! As I was totally determined to acquire le ‘Hamburgular’s “John Hancock” upon my poster; along with the other missing culprits, albeit I’d be most happy to not get ‘WINEY BAGS! (Bruno Junqueira) As fate would have it, ‘TAG happened to be part of Sebastian Bourdais’s quartet ‘O ChumpCarz drivers - who actually signed IT this time, whilst I can still recall (‘TAG) Alex Tagliani excitedly pointing at ‘Juan of the previous year’s signatures... Although I couldn’t make out whose he was gushing over? Perhaps ‘PT? or ‘Shorty’s?

And having blown thru this line so quickly I moved over to the quintet ‘O Red Bull Boyz, as ‘Bad Bobby D, aka Robert Doornbos had made a B-I-G impression upon me, whilst I recall there also being Neil Jani and Robin Miller’s favourite comedian “Christian Comedy,” nee Tristan Gommendy, with the latter two being PKV Boyz... Thus Mission Accomplished, as  I now sported 25 autographs which only cost me $30 in Paddock fees and two-years to accomplish; CRIKEYS!

And later on I asked ‘Juan of my Up North Eh! Blogger Brethren, known as ‘CAM-WOW! As it appears that Matt Chamois of The Other Side has given up blogging? Who he thought the culprit to this indignity could be? To which he wrote a very gratifying response that it could NOT have been Alex Tagliani, as ‘TAG is too much the Gentleman... Not to mention I seem to recall the offending driver’s ‘Schnoz (nose) to be quite crooked. (NO! NOT Tony Kanaan’s; Hya! As ‘TK’s too SAAVY to do this to an adoring fan...)

 And thus, although I’ll never know who it was, I’m 86% certain that it was Bruno Junqueira who accidently snubbed me that day at PIR...  

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Police trouble in Unser Case

Although Al Unser Sr. was acquitted of misdemeanor charges recently, there are still some questions towards the Police’s conduct during the Unser brother’s arrest…


Al Unser Sr’s lawyer has asked the Albuquerque General Attorney’s office to investigate possible witness intimidation. The attorney states in a letter sent to the state’s attorney, that there’s a clear case of trying to smear his key witness, police officer Sam Costales…

The Albuquerque Police Chief has said that he’ll launch an internal investigation regarding police officers conduct during the arrests of both Unser brothers…

Meanwhile Bobby Unser’s lawyer has filed a motion to have his clients arrest thrown out due to the outrageous police conduct documented in the Al Unser Sr. case…

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What will Audi do?

Audi has won the past 7 consecutive Drivers Titles in the American Le Mans LMP1 Category and their revolutionary R10 turbo diesel went undefeated in 2006…

Now Audi’s sole competitor over the past 3 seasons has surprisingly switched to the LMP2 category for 2007. Rob Dyson will campaign two Porsche RSR Spyders next season alongside the ex-factory team of Roger Penske…

This will make the LMP2 category extremely competitive with 4 Porsches and 3 factory backed Acura’s along with other privateer efforts. Acura powered chassis will be raced by Andretti Green, Fernandez & Highcroft…

It will be interesting to see if the LMP1 category implodes which would be a big problem for the ALMS. Will Audi be content to simply motor around as the sole LMP1 competitor? Or will Audi withdraw and simply compete at Le Mans and the DTM next year…

Monday, December 25, 2006

Grand Prix (The Movie)




For the past few days… (including this morning) Not for the first time, nor most likely for the last the Speed Channel aired the movie Grand Prix…

I suppose as a true Formula 1 fan I should be chagrined to admit that I’d never watched this movie in its entirety. Although I’ve seen bits & pieces over the years, I’ve never been able to sit through the whole movie... (Especially with Speed Channel’s 4 hours, 30 minutes air time)

I did find it very entertaining to watch the first 40+ minute portion which was totally devoted to the actual making of this epic production. It included interviews with director John Frankenheimer and the movie’s leading man James Garner -being quite entertaining hearing Garner’s comments regarding the movie.

Originally the directors had cast Steve McQueen for the lead role, which he would have been amazing in, yet the meeting with McQueen went horribly wrong and McQueen stormed out. This left the door wide open for MGM’s golden boy; James Garner whom the studio wanted and forced the directors to take on.

To me there seems to be several ironies to this movie. Garner’s main nemesis in the movie is named Scott Stoddart. (Obviously no relation to Paul Stoddart) The Japanese entrepreneur that Gardner ultimately drives for is named Mr. Yomura and seems eerily painted as Mr. Honda… And in one scene Mr. Yomura tells Garner that he tried buying the Jordan-BRM team, which bears NO relation to ex-F1 boss “EJ’s” (Eddie Jordan) fledgling Privateer team.

Produced in 1966, the movie cost approx. $9 million to complete, estimated at $220 million in today’s dollars.

It featured many inventions in the realm of filming a race movie. Most notably a hydrogen cannon used to shoot the race cars into the water. The cars engines were removed and a steel sleeve welded inside. This allowed the cannon to fire the cars in any direction.

And speaking of the cars, I had to chuckle, seeing ‘ol “Shel’s” (Carroll Shelby) mug on the screen. Shelby was approached to get the necessary cars built for the movie. Shelby called Jim Russell around 3 AM in the morning to offer Russel the project of converting 15-20 F3 chassis into replica BRM’s, Eagles, Ferrari’s, etc. This was possible since it was the very first year of the new 3.0 liter engine formula and the real F1 cars appearances were changing weekly. And yes, it's the same Russell who owns the prestigious European racing school that many top flight F1 drivers graduated from!

And I especially enjoyed Frankenheimer’s story of swaying “Il Commentore” (Enzo Ferrari) to approve of his project. As many know there haven’t been too many realistic racing movies ever made. Just think of “Daze ‘O Blunder” and Driven to begin with...

At the start Enzo told Frankenheimer that not only could he NOT use any of his cars, he couldn’t use the name Ferrari in the movie. After shooting live footage at Monaco, Frankenheimer called Enzo to ask him to reconsider by just watching the 30 minutes he’d put together. Of course Enzo replied that he didn’t have a projector, blah-blah-blah. Frankenheimer replied: Will you watch it Yes or No? Frankenheimer chartered a plane, took movie, projector, AV aides, etc and set it all up in Enzo’s office. According to Frankenheimer after the film finished Enzo “bear” hugged him and said you can have anything. The factory, the race team, the cars, anything...

Garner revealed some interesting aspects of the actual filming. They used a GT-40 as a chase car. And they had a TV inside the cockpit which they could monitor Garner while driving around at speed to see how the shots looked.

They also used the GT-40 as a tow vehicle. They cut off the front of an F3 film car just in front of the windscreen and towed the chassis with driver (Actor) at 140-150mph!

Garner enjoyed bragging about the time while filming at Monte Carlo when Jochen Rindt couldn’t keep up with him. Rindt hadn’t driven the F3 chassis before. Garner meanwhile had taken private driving lessons from Bob Bondurant.

And the scenes from Monza are amazing. Actually all of the in-car footage is quite excellent, yet it’s just so intriguing to watch the little cars circulating around the Monza banking of the long discarded Oval track, and as in another Speed Channel special; The Quick and the Dead, it’s quite odd to hear our national anthem being played for the race winner. Something I’ve never heard since watching Formula 1...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Santa Stops in Indy

T’was almost the night before Christmas and there were only hours to go… The traffic in, out and around the shopping malls was horrific, the grocery stores were flaying away while trying to keep up with grumpy shoppers demands and everybody was in a hurry to get somewhere…

Not sure if I’ve been naughty or nice this year and I definitely haven’t made a list for Santa to check twice… I’m pretty sure that I won’t get the Ferrari F430 I ask for every year, but I do know that Santa’s been extra busy preparing for his upcoming ‘round the world jaunt…

On Wednesday, Santa’s elves’ dropped off the first 10 production Panoz DP-01’s at Champ Cars Indianapolis headquarters. There members of the 10 teams committed to competing in the 2007 season gathered to pick up there shiny new “toys…”

The teams proceeded to collect their unpainted chassis, load them into awaiting transporters and haul them back to there workshops “just-in-time” to return home before Christmas…

The teams will be given a brief respite to enjoy the holidays,
have some eggnog and see what else Santa brings them before going back to work. The teams will immediately strip down their new “steeds” in order to prepare them for the upcoming seasons first test…

Champ Cars first official test session for the teams and their shiny new DP-01’s is January 23-25, 2007 at Sebring…

McLaren’s newest Golden Boy


So just what is all the buzz about over McLaren’s newest recruit? No, I’m not talking about two time reigning Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso…

Lewis Hamilton first met Ron Dennis when he was 10 years old. Hamilton had just won a karting title and was in search of Dennis’s autograph. Three years later at age 13, Hamilton became the youngest ever to sign a F1 developmental contract with McLaren…

Now nine years later and fresh off of winning the GP 2 Championship, Dennis was ready to cash in on his investment. It is rumoured that McLaren Mercedes spent $5 million on Hamilton’s grooming for an F1 drive. At age 21, the young Briton will face stiff competition for “Rookie of the Year” honors in F1 against Renault’s Heikki Kovalainen…

And shame on the Media, Formula 1 and Bernie Ecclestone for exploiting Hamilton’s racial bloodlines… Although I know nothing about the young Brit, he seems very level headed from The Speed Report interview I watched last week. While the stupid Media is already calling him the Tiger Woods of F1, I liked how Hamilton didn’t say anything at all about the subject…

For the record the very first African American to drive a F1 chassis was Willy T. Ribbs in 1985 for Brabham; owned by Mr. Ecclestone (once a promoter, always a promoter) Hamilton will become the very first Black to race in F1 in 2007…

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Forsythe Finishes Testing

The Forsythe team concluded its winter testing last week also at Houston’s MSR race track. Forsythe rand three more potential drivers as it seeks to find a partner for Paul Tracy in 2007. Taking part in the test was the reigning Champ Car Atlantics Champion Simon Pagenaud who’s flush with his $2 million winner’s check. Former Indy Pro Series driver Jay Howard and Adam Carroll who previously tested for RuSPORT…

Digging Road America

Road America is set to begin work on a major facility improvement. Road America will demolish the Bill Mitchell paddock bridge and replace it with a new underground tunnel. The tunnel will feature two vehicle lanes with separate pedestrian walkways…

New Champ Car Rules for 2007

Champ Cars has made a host of rule changes for the upcoming season. The two biggest changes are the implementation of standing starts where possible and allowing unlimited use of tires issued for the race weekend…

Mi-Jack tests Simpson

The Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing team continued its evaluations of
Potential “paying” drivers for the upcoming season. Not to be confused with Homer or Bart Simpson, Mi-Jack tested S. African racer Stephen Simpson last week at Houston’s MSR race track…
Interestingly S. Africa is expected to broadcast all Champ Car World Series events next year for the very first time…

Vegas gets Title Sponsor

The Las Vegas Grand Prix has announced the events new title sponsor. VISA has signed a multi-year deal to sponsor the new Champ Car event around the streets of “Old Vegas.” The event will now be known as: Vegas Grand Prix Fueled by Visa. Interestingly the deal is for multiple venues with Los Vegas being a benefactor of Arizona businessmen who are intent on invigorating Phoenix’s entertainment value with the addition of a Street race around Phoenix’s downtown as the Champ Cars season finale in 2007. It will be interesting to return to the streets of Phoenix, once the home of the Iceberg Grand Prix. (F1 USGP: 1989-91)

F1 Testing wraps up in Jerez

Last week Formula 1 concluded its extended Jerez visit for the final official winter test of 2006. All of the F1 Constructor’s participated minus Spyker…

The three days of testing provided much entertainment with two hopeful stateside Open Wheel warriors making their F1 debuts. Champ Cars Sebastian Bourdais quickly showed his speed. Hampered by the “tail-ender” Scuderia Toro Rosso and not having driven an F1 chassis since testing for Arrows in 2002, Bourdais finished only .002 seconds behind Scott Speed on his second day of testing. On Day 3 Bourdais continued his forward march finishing only .0245 behind Ferrari’s Marc Gene and 1.2 seconds clear of Speed…

Meanwhile Marco Andretti enjoyed his day at Jerez with Honda, learning the nuances of an F1 cockpit. Andretti finished 15th out of 16 cars, nipping Speed who finished last. (Speed crashed and injured his wrist in final testing and ran only a handful of laps)

While McLaren’s rookie Lewis Hamilton topped the time sheets on the final day of testing, Hamilton was overshadowed by the “surprise” debut of Fernando Alonso aboard a McLaren. Ron Dennis had been lobbying for Alonso’s early release from Renault and Flavio Bratore finally allowed Alonso to test for his new team…

Renault’s Heikki Kovalainen continued showing his speed, finishing just .092 behind Hamilton and ahead of Alonso who ran third fastest in his McLaren debut. (-.094 seconds) Honda’s James Rossiter ran 4th with Giancarlo Fisichella rounding out the top five…

All of the “heavy hitters,” i.e.; factory backed teams ran towards the front of the grid. It will be hard for the customer teams to compete for anything other then midfield honors next year. It should be a great year with 5-6 teams competing for the championship…

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Audi to upstage F1?

On the heals of Max Mosley’s speech and the implementation of new Technical Rules changes for Formula 1 over the next 5 years, comes reports that Audi will continue its trendsetting ways.

After becoming the first manufacturer to win the prestigious du 24 heurs Le Mans last year, Audi now plans to attack the Circuit de la Sarthe in 2008 by running its R10 turbo diesels on Bio-fuels

Discussing the Future

Although not as well known as his mercurial Champ Car cohort Robin Miller, David Phillips has been covering Champ Cars for several years now. Phillips writes for Racer magazine and is extremely enlightening towards the world of Champ Cars…

Phillips also pens regular articles for Speed TV.com and I find his commentary very insightful.

Phillips has recently written about the just concluded 2006 SAE conference, (Society of Automobile Engineers) noting that his favorite speaker was Bobby rahal. Phillips also pointed out that for a few hours, two members of Open Wheel rival sanctioning bodies were “Working Together” along with the SAE’s “GREEN” panel…

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chassis Cloning

The Formula 1 Team Bosses met recently in Monaco to discuss the current band of chassis cloning, i.e; Teams copying other teams chassis design for 2007. Although this will be permitted beginning in 2008 to “reduce costs,” its banned through the upcoming season…

There is considerable speculation that Scuderia Toro Rosso and Super Aguri are utilizing carbon copies of their “Big Brother” teams, i.e; Red Bull Racing and Honda F1. In typical F1 fashion both teams have denied doing so, although “Super Best Friends” (Super Aguri) has been testing with essentially a Honda RA106 at the recent winter tests…

Last year Toro Rosso was able to utilize a Red Bull RB1 chassis under the guise that it was previously a Ford. F1 teams were willing to go along since the chassis wasn’t competitive and Toro rosso was also using a rev-limited 3.0 liter Cosworth V-10.

Super Aguri meanwhile was forced to campaign modified Arrows chassis in order to gain enterance into F1 as the intellectual property rights to the BAR-Honda they’d hoped to use belonged to Honda and therefore was not available for cloning...

Chassis cloning is not an entirely new subject with the 1995 Ligier closely resembling the Benneton B195 when Flavio Briatore owned both teams. The 2003 Sauber was also thought to contain much more then just a Ferrari engine and transmission to its design layout.

Speculation abounds that Red Bull’s Adrian Newey has designed two identical chassis with different engines for 2007. Meanwhile it has just been revealed that Super Aguri has hired Paul White Drafting Ltd. To design a “independent” chassis for the upcoming season.

While it is assumed that the two teams will begin using customer chassis in 2008 along with Prodrive, it will be interesting to see how the thorny issue is resolved…

ROC’in Paris

DTM Champion Mattias Ekstrom won this past weekends Race of Champions (ROC) in front of 60,000 parisians. The fans left the Staid de Paris dejected as Ekstrom defeated Frenchman Sebastian Loeb (2-0) in the finals for the Individual Trophy while Heikki Kovalainen helped Finland win the Nations cup…

Meanwhile in another pathetic display of America’s “foreign policy,” Travis Pastrana. endured running as the sole representative for Team USA. After Jimmy Johnson fell off a golf cart, the reigning IRL Champion Sam Hornish Jr. declined to fill in for Johnson. Then Scott Speed wrecked during the final day of testing in Jerez (Friday) and complaining of a sore wrist scratched himself from the event. “RASSCAR” regulars Curt Busch and Robby Gordon also declined last minute requests to partner Pastrana…

Amazingly Pastrana made it all the way to the Nations Cup Finals by knocking off Germany (Bernd Schneider) and Scotland (David Coulthard, Colin McCrae) before loosing to Finland. (2-1)

In the finals Pastrana lost to Kovalainen in round 1, but defeated Marcus Gronholm in round 2 before faltering to Kovalainen in round 3, the winner take all “rubber” match…

Interestingly Sweden’s Ekstrom defeated reigning WRC Champion Loeb in the very Citroen Xsara WRC that Loeb has used to capture 3 successive WRC Titles in round 1…

After 3 years in Paris, the ROC will move to its new home next year: Britain, in Wembley Stadium…

Monday, December 18, 2006

Stoddart purchases CTE/HVM

Former Minardi F1 owner Paul Stoddart has bought a majority share holding of the CTE/HVM Champ Car team. It was announced today that the team will be renamed Minardi Team USA, with driver line-up and sponsors TBA. Stoddart will run a multi-car team next season, so look for Nelson Philippe, ”Speedy” Dan Clarke and Jos Verstappen behind the wheel…

Stoddart who was a very small “minnow” in the Formula 1 world eventually sold the Minardi team to Red Bull after 5 years of being a F1 Team Boss. Apparently Stoddart missed the smell of methanol in the morning too much and decided to try his hand at Champ Cars where he can possibly become a “Big Fish.” (In a much smaller pond)

It will be interesting to see if Stoddart’s fleet of F1 two seaters comes across the pond with him…

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Berger’s Motivational Techniques

Although Scuderia Toro Rosso gave reigning Champ Car Champion Sebastian Bourdais a test last week, Bourdais has publicly admitted that he’s committed to Newman/Haas Racing for 2007, with a possible eye towards a 2008 F1 drive…
Nevertheless Gerhard Berger who’s under pressure to bring money to the table as part owner of Toro Rosso invited the Frenchman to test as a way to drum up attention to the often overlooked Red Bull “B” team which has not confirmed either of its current drivers for next season. Berger also revealed that the team has talked with three F1 drivers who have bagloads of cash, yet just don’t have a race seat for 2007. Can you say Robert Doornbos…?
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Doornbos partner American Scott Speed next season. If Spyker was smart they’d hire Vitantonio Luzzi as Christijan Albers teammate…

Honda Blacks Out

In deference to McLaren’s tradition of running it’s interim test cars in founder Bruce McLaren’s “Kiwi Orange.” Honda is sporting a solid black chassis during this years winter testing.
For the upcoming season Formula 1 will be “Tobacco Free,” with no cigarette title sponsorships, nor “fag” logos adorning race cars. The only Constructor not conforming to the Anti-Tobacco universe of Formula 1 will be the Prancing Horse: Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, which will continue in its traditional red and white paint scheme. The Scuderia may be able to run with BAD HABITS decals in selected markets since it’s an Italian Constructor allowing it to “skirt” British regulations…
BAR-Honda’s majority stake holder, BAT (British American Tobacco) campaigned their cars as Lucky Strike/Honda’s. Lucky Strike and 555 are both BAT brands. Upon Honda’s takeover of BAR last year, BAT’s Lucky Strike title sponsorship deal was curtailed… (Renault will also drop its Mild Seven title sponsorship in 2007)
In order to spruce up its image, Honda has hired Simon Fuller to supervise the teams impending makeover. With four F1 Constructors sporting primarily white paint schemes last year, (BMW-Sauber, Honda, Toyota, Williams) hopefully Honda will sport a new unique colour in 2007…
Meanwhile in a further effort to project its environmentally friendly image, (Is this possible from a major automobile manufacturer?) Honda will sport solar panels on its F1 truck transporters and motor homes next season in concert with Honda’s marketing of it’s new spin-off: Honda Soltec Co. Ltd. (Specializing in thin film solar cell technology) Honda Racing boss Nick Fry says that its probably too early to see solar paneling on its 2007 F1 chassis…

Al Unser Sr. Acquitted

Four time Indy 500 Winner Al Unser Sr. who was arrested on Aug. 9th for arguing and ignoring police orders at a roadblock adjoining his property has been acquitted of misdemeanor charges of resisting and disobeying police.
Al Unser Sir’s lawyer told the jury during opening arguments that Unser Sr. was “confused” and not giving the police a piece of his mind… The Unser brothers have never been too opinionated… Well ok, may be older brother Bobby?
Prior to closing arguments a different version of the police’s actions were presented of how Unser Sr. was too weak to fight cops. (I.e.; both shoulders surgically repaired, broken ribs, metal rod in leg; all from racing accidents) Having been yanked from his vehicle, thrown to the ground and forcibly handcuffed by plain clothes detectives…
Meanwhile Bobby Unser who has an affinity for tangling with the law was also arrested at the roadblock and his trial was pending of Al Unser Sir’s.
Bobby Unser has previously punched an Albuquerque traffic cop at the airport, also previously becoming lost on his skimobile on restricted National Parks property. The skimobile incident required a large search & rescue operation to find the errant Unser…
Al Unser Sr. has publicly stated that he’s lost endorsements and consulting work over his arrest, even having Jay Leno joke about him. Parnelli Jones and Chris Economaki served as character witnesses towards Unser Sir’s polite demeanor and Jury members took only 3 hours to acquit Unser Sr. off all chargers…

To check out Albuquerque’s newest visitor attraction, sans roadblock… Please visit: The Unser Racing Museum

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Regazzoni


Former Ferrari & Williams Formula 1 driver Clay Regazzoni has perished in a fatal road accident near Parma, Italy. Regazzoni contested 132 Grand Prix's and finished runner-up to Emmerson Fittipaldi in 1974, just 3 points shy of winning that years World Championship for Ferrari. Regazzoni captured 5 Poles and 5 Victories during his accident shortened F1 career…

Friday, December 15, 2006

Schuey grabs Gold

No, not all of his gold bars in his Switzerland bank accounts…
Basking in the limelight of his hastened retirement, Michael Schumacher was recently presented a Gold Medal of Motorsport at the Salle des Etoiles, Monaco Sporting Club FIA gala alongside Sir Stirling Moss…
Schumacher has also recently been made an honorary citizen of Maranello…

Formula 1 turning Green?

With the never ending manipulation of Crude Oil prices the current rage of major automobile manufactures is the race towards hybrid synergy’s… While Toyota leads the way in hybrid vehicles currently available to the public, Honda continues further refinement of its fuel cell powered car with Nissan set to build its very first hybrid.

At the recently held LA Auto Show, the “Big Three” gallantly blathered on about upcoming “plug-in” hybrids, as GM & Ford try to desperately cling to their eroding market share. While Detroit seems to believe that only Trucks/SUV’s are the vehicle of choice, Daimler-Chrysler was busy unveiling their new “Blue-Tec” diesel technology. Developed jointly with Audi & VW, blue-tec is the latest in diesel fuel economy technologies as emission standards have further increased for 2007.

Meanwhile Max Mosley gave a keynote speech on how Formula 1 engine manufacturers should be focusing upon alternative fuel technologies and environmental standards instead of
Simply trying to make their “lumps” rev even higher. Formula 1 engines have been “frozen” for the foreseeable future along with being mechanically rev-limited to 19,000 RPM’s for 2007.

Audi’s revolutionary R10 turbo diesel won the 12hrs of Sebring and du 24 heurs Le Mans this year, becoming the very first manufacturer in history to win these two events. The R10 went undefeated in the ALMS this year. Peugeot plans to attend the 2007 24 hours of Le Mans with its own turbo diesel. With the push towards diesel engines which get up to 40% better fuel economy over gasoline engines will we see bio-fueled turbocharged diesels powering Formula 1 chassis in the future?

Todt advises Kimi on Drinking

Although Kimi Raikkonen has not officially been released from his McLaren contract, Jean todt has already given his opinions on the young Finn’s reputation for indulging in all night drinking binges in an interview with the French media…
Todt explained that Raikkonen will be even more in the spotlight as a Ferrari driver and that if he wishes to partake in a few rounds of Johnnie Walker with friends then Ferrari would prefer him to do so discretely. Todt is hoping that Raikkonen can mold his moniker “The Iceman” to spill over into his extra-curricular off track activities. Perhaps Raikkonen will switch his choice of beverages from Vodka to either Uzo or Grappa…

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Speeding into Paris

The lone American F1 driver Scott Speed has just been announced as Jimmy Johnson’s replacement for this Saturday’s Race of Champions in Paris. The reigning “RASSCAR” Champion apparently wanted to “one-up” Jense “Crash” button and “Sand Dune” Tracy while monkeying around at a golf charity. Johnson fell off the roof of a golf cart and broke his left wrist…
Speed will join Travis Pastrana for Team USA at the Staid de Pairs, joining Red Bull’s David Coulthard, Champ Cars Sebastian Bourdais, WRC’s Sebastian Loeb and others in the true Race of Champions, not to be confused with the “RASSCAR” IROC “Days ‘O Blunder” event…

It's Miller Time

OnThe Speed Report In typical fashion Robin Miller painted a “glass half full” picture of Champ Cars upcoming season. While the teams aren’t allowed to go testing until January when the new Panoz DP-01 is available, nevertheless several teams have been evaluating talent. Hence the current Champ Car drivers are on holiday while potential drivers test for potential team seats…
Miller noted how Newman/Haas Racing tested alone at Homestead in part to keep from revealing just how good 17 year old Graham Rahal really was. After matching times set by reigning Champ Car champion Sebastian Bourdais, Rahal set a new track record at Houston’s MSR last week.
While Forsythe and Mi-Jack continue evaluating potential drivers, Miller talked about the “new look” PKV team. Miller stated that Scuderia Toro Rosso’s test driver Neal Jani will definitely be one of the teams drivers next season. Jani will bring lots of Red Bull (money) with him. Miller said “I’m not making this up!” Jani’s teammate will be a 22 year old driver from Monaco named Clivio Piccione… Piccione has won a few British F3 races and also raced in GP2 this season…
With January just around the corner several current Champ Car drivers futures still remain clouded. It is unknown what the fate of Bruno Junqueira, Oriel Servia, Katherine Legge, Nelson Philippe and others are…

For more Robin Miller rantings, see: More Open Wheel Chatter

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Turkey Soup

Apparently there is major trouble over the FIA’s punitive fines imposed upon the organizers of this year’s Turkish grand Prix. The FIA has imposed a fine of $2.5m for the podium debacle at this year’s race. The Turkish sanctioning body will lapse into bankruptcy if it attempts to pay the fine, so the FIA is undecided on how to proceed…

Auto Union on the Block

Contrary to popular belief, Christies Auction house will attempt to set the record price for an automobile sold shortly. For some strange reason I’ve been telling everybody for years that Nick Mason of Pink Floyd paid $12m for a Ferrari 250 GTO during the feeding frenzy of the late 1980’s when car collectors were snapping up anything with 4 wheels. Apparently this is an urban legend…

Making the much over-hyped Barrett Jackson auctioneers look like small fry, Christie’s will sell one of two remaining Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix cars next year expecting to fetch a record $11.7 million…

Code Blue

And the saga of “JV” continues… Can you say “Insider Trading?” Now speculations suggests that Jacques Villeneuve has struck a deal for rolling stock from Jack Roush. All Villeneuve needs now to complete the transaction is $18 million…

Rumours suggest that Villeneuve would run selected Craftsman Truck events prior to jumping ship for the Busch Series “just-in-time” for “RASSCAR’s” inaugural Montreal Busch Series race next year. Villeneuve hopes to eventually join his arch nemesis MAC Montoya in Nextel Cup…

F1 Testing

Formula 1 resumed winter testing at Jerez last week where the F1 teams will conduct an extended 6 day program. During the first 3 days of testing the leaders of the time sheets fluctuated as normal…

Day 1 saw little change from Barcelona with Ferrari continuing to lead the way. Felipe Massa continued his clean sweep of topping the time sheets, fastest at 1:19.462. Luca Badoer in the second Ferrari was second at 1:19.708 with Malaren’s Lewis Hamilton third at 1:20.245…

Day 2 saw rookie Lewis Hamilton break Massa’s stranglehold atop the time sheets. Hamilton finished first at 1:18.684. Hamilton was slightly overshadowed by Kimi Raikkonen’s first public Ferrari appearance. Raikkonen was an observer for the day along with having a 20 minute chat with Massa. Raikkonen is under McLaren contract until the end of the year and will most likely not see any testing until next January.

Second quickest was Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella at 1:19.685, with Honda’s ruben Barrichello third at 1:19.784…

Day 3 saw inclement weather hinder testing with rain washing out any hopes of quick laps in the morning. Later in the day Barrichello nipped Honda tester James Rossiter for top honors at 1:20.008 while Rossiter was second at 1:20.171 upon logging a massive 108 laps. Hamilton continued his impressive showing by finishing third at 1:20.325. Both Ferrari’s uncharacteristically dropped towards the bottom of the grid after both cars stopped on track during the final hour of testing…

Testing will resume on Monday with Marco Andretti making his testing debut with Honda later this week…

Marco gets Honda Christmas present


Nineteen year old IRL phenom Marco andretti will test a Honda F1 chassis for his very first time at Jerez, Spain later this week. Apparently it doesn’t hurt having your father own Andretti-Green Racing which was the de-facto Honda factory IRL team prior to Honda becoming the league’s sole engine supplier in 2006.

Also helping to open doors is Grandpa Mario. The senior andretti was the Formula 1 World champion in 1978. Marco is under contract to AGR through 2009 and will race next year in the IRL along with focusing on winning the Indy 500 and the IRL championship. Honda sees the testing debut as a great marketing ploy, hopefully stirring up F1 interest in the U.S. as well as evaluating the youngster’s potential for a future F1 drive…

New F1 Rules for 2007

Prior to the Formula 1 Constructor’s resuming testing after the brief winter break, the FIA had once again tinkered with its premiere racing series. (F1) The FIA implemented a series of proposed rule changes for the 2007 season which were endorsed by the 11 F1 teams prior to the completion of the 2006 season…

A brief look at the rule changes:
No Friday third drivers.
2 90-minute practice session on Fridays.
(Super Aguri to propose for ratification; Mandatory for teams to use a test driver during the Friday test sessions)
Increased tire allowance.
(Drivers now allowed 14 sets of tires per weekend, increased from 7 sets)
Pit lane to remain closed during Safety Car periods.
“Lucky Dog” lap policy.
(“RASSCAR” style format to allow lapped drivers to pass the Safety Car)

It’s funny how Formula 1 tends to emulate race strategy’s implemented previously by its stateside rivals, i.e.; CART (Champ Car) and NASCAR. As so eloquently stated previously on The Speed Report by Robin Miller: Miller commented that Formula 1s planned adoption of “RASSCAR’S” (Nextel Cup) “Lucky Dog” should be referred to as the “SORRY-DOG!” Miller correctly pointed out that passing back markers is part of racing… If you cannot pass competitor’s who are 4 seconds a lap SLOWER then you, then you probably shouldn’t be on the track! Instead Formula 1 will now simply wave drivers by instead of making them have to demonstrate their ability of overtaking the moving “chicanes” when the safety car returns to the pits…

Monday, December 11, 2006

Bourdais gets F1 Test

Sebastian Bordais, the reigning Champ Car World Series Champion has been clambering for a Formula 1 test since coming to the United States. The ex-International F3000 Champion has since gone on to win three consecutive Champ Car titles while not being able to interest any F1 team bosses into giving him a try out. Even Mario Andretti who called Sir Frank Williams was unable to entice Williams into offering the Frenchman a test…
Now Scuderia Toro rosso will give Bourdais his first taste of F1 when “Sea Bass” tests for them at Jerez this week during Toro rosso’s 3 day program in Spain. Once again while Champ Car and the IRL refuse to merge it’ll be interesting to see how two of their brightest stars fair in similar equipment. Of course Marco Andretti will have the upper hand since the Honda is vastly superior vs. Toro Rosso’s machinery. Although both drivers will be making their F1 debuts, both are expected to continue with their current teams for 2007…

Thursday, December 7, 2006

FIA publishes Official line-up

With little fanfare the FIA has published the official 2007 Formula 1 entrant list with Constructor’s car numbers being revealed. There is little surprise on the roster sheet with Fernando Alonso taking his No. 1 to McLaren and the rest of the 11 Constructor’s falling into order in regards to their 2006 finishing order. Red Bull seems to once again be trying to stir interest over the Scuderia Toro Rosso line-up by listing both seats as TBA. The only open seat available on the grid is the second seat at Spyker F1 Racing…

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Button Banged-Up

Not surprisingly after suffering hairline cracks to two ribs, Jense “Crash” Button missed Formula 1’s first winter test in Barcelona. Button will now remain “grounded” for the remainder of the year spending the holidays drinking eggnog. Button will forgo this week’s upcoming F1 test at Jerez and most likely cancelling his appearance in the upcoming ROC (Race Of Champions) at the Staid de Paris…

Champ Car Testing

Not wishing to be left out in the cold, three Champ Car teams tested in Texas over the past week. Participants included: Forsythe, Mi-Jack and newcomers Pacific Coast Motorsports…

PCM Completes First Test
The Pacific Coast Motorsports team has just concluded its very first Champ Car test. PCM hired Rocketsports to provide current Champ Car machinery (Lola chassis) for the team’s two drivers Ryan Dalziel and Alex Figge to sample the brute horsepower of these Open Wheel beasts…

Mi-Jack’s French Mustard
The Mi-Jack/Conquest Champ Car team ran two cars for aspiring French racing drivers Alex Premat and Guillaume Moreau, Team Owner Eric Bachelart stated he’d been looking forward to seeing how both drivers would perform during their Champ Cars debut.
Premat finished third in this year’s GP2 series along with a “one-off” outing as Spyker F1 Racing’s third driver in China. Premat also helped France win last season’s A1 GP Championship. While Premat was fastest in testing Moreau, an ex-Euro F3 regular was a second behind…

Forsythe tests Young Guns
The Forsythe team ran a few “Young Guns” over the three day test in Houston. Taking part in Forsythe’s “Gong Show” were Richard Philippe, Andreas Wirth and Lawson Aschenbach.
The 16 year old Philippe who competes in Atlantics is the younger brother of recent Champ Car winner Nelson Philippe…

Wirth, who raced as part of Forsythe’s 4 car Atlantics team in 2006 made his Champ Car debut in Australia for Dale Coyne Racing, Wirth then competed in Champ Cars Mexico City finale with Coyne...
Aschenbach is the reigning SPEED GT champion…

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

F1’s Young Guns

With Formula 1 testing having just completed its first round of winter testing this past week in Barcelona, the ever changing of the guard continues its forward march. The post Schumacher era sees a massive revamp of the Formula 1 teams and driver line-ups. With 2006 machinery running solely on Bridgestone rubber teams ran a gambit of data acquisition programs. Once again the time sheets improved daily as the track “rubbered-in…”

1. Renault:
Renault sent new race driver Heikki Kovalainen (Age 25) who will partner Giancarlo Fisichella in 2007 to Barcelona along with new testing recruit Nelson Piquet Jr. The 2006 GP2 runner-up. Piquet Jr. showed his speed by outpacing Kovalainen during the first two days of testing. On the third day of testing the “Reggie” apparently bolted on a fresh set of Bridgestone’s, emptied the fuel tank and sent Kovalainen on a “flyer.” Kovalainen responded by jumping up to third quickest lap at the end of Thursday’s testing…

2. Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro:
Ferrari sent current “hot-schue” Felipe Massa. (25) To Barcelona along with test drivers Luca Badoer and Marc Gene. Not surprisingly Massa topped the time sheets the first two days with Badoer third. Gene replaced Massa on day three while Badoer jumped to the top of the time sheets…
Meanwhile Kimi Raikkonen (26) who will join the Prancing Horse as Michael Schumacher’s replacement was on winter holiday… (Perhaps drinking Hakkinen’s Johnnie Walker?)

3. McLaren-Mercedes:
With McLaren boss Ron Dennis having just confirmed reigning GP2 Champion Lewis Hamilton. (21) As Fernando Alonso’s (25) teammate for 2007, the spotlight was focused brightly upon Hamilton’s debut…
McLaren sent the young Brit along with hopeful race driver Pedro de la Rosa to Barcelona. Double world champion Mika Hakkinen joined the squad on Thursday. De la Rosa showed his typical front row pace, (2nd: Day 1; 4th: Day 2) Hamilton was a very impressive sixth the first two days, while Hakkinen languished towards the tail end of the grid. Hakkinen had not tested in 5 years and spent a single day acclimatizing himself to the confines of his F1 cockpit. The reigning World Champion is currently on his honeymoon after marrying Raquel del Rosario, a Spanish singer in Maldives…

4. Honda
While team leader Jenson “Crash” Button is currently on holiday following cracking two ribs go karting, Honda sent Rubens Barrichello and tester James Rossiter to Barcelona. Barrichello who has tons of Bridgestone experience was a solid fifth fastest on Day 1. Rossiter soldiered on mid pack while new testing recruit Christian Klien joined the Honda party on day three. Klien did a solid job while making his Honda debut…

5. BMW-Sauber F1:
Polish F1 star Robert Kubica (21(continues pushing team leader “Quick Nick.” (Nick Heidfeld) who’s under even more German media scrutiny after Schumacher’s retirement. Heidfeld finished fourth with Kubica seventh respectively on Day 1. Heidfeld jumped to second quickest on Day 2 before making way for Timo Glock. Kubica jumped up the time sheets on Day 3 while being to only non-Ferrari driver to crack into the 1:16’s…
Although Heidfeld downplays the possibilities of race wins in 2007, look for BMW Sauber to keep improving next season.
Nineteen year old testing sensation Sebastian Vettel who’s under contract to Red Bull will continue as test driver, Glock may also see spot testing duties…

6. Toyota
Choosing to be different, Toyota showed up on day two to begin its winter testing program with veteran tester Oliver Panis logging the day’s fifth fastest time. New test driver Kamui Kobayashi posted the day’s slowest time while making his Toyota debut. Race drivers Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher then joined the fray Thursday and quickly got down to business. On Friday Toyota had the track to itself and both race drivers set quickest overall testing times…

7. Red Bull Racing:
The team’s soon to be ex-Ferrari powered chassis languished near the bottom of the time sheets during the first day of testing. New recruit Mark Webber managed to outpace teammate David Coulthard, with Webber slotted into P15 with Coulthard P16. The Red Bull cars were the slowest on Day 1, with Webber managing to pull his way up the time sheets on day two…

8. Williams:
Williams ran a limited test program with race driver Alex Wurz and test driver Narain Karthikeyan. Wurz ran mid-pack day one before dropping down the time sheets during day two. Karthikeyan ran solidly mid-pack during his testing duties…
Although currently on holiday (partying with Kimi?) look for improvement from the 2005 inaugural GP 2 Champion Nico Rosberg (21) now that Williams has switched to Toyota lumps…

9. Scuderia Toro Rosso:
Toro Rosso’s young duet: Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi (25) and American Scott Speed (23 zf) continued Cosworth’s swan song, utilizing the ubiquitous 3.0 liter V-10’s for one of it’s final tests. Luzzi and Speed took their customary spots towards the rear of the grid during testing…
Next season should hopefully see Toro Rosso continue their march forward with Red bull Racing’s Ferrari V-8 customer engines, possibly running the entire Red Bull package?

10. Spyker F1 Racing:
Spyker was the only team not participating at the test, perhaps due to lack of engines? With much change occurring Spyker will also become a Ferrari customer next season with a new “hot schue young gun” alongside Cristjian Albers…

10. Super Aguri F1:
“Super Best Friends” sent one car to Barcelona for new recruit Anthony Davidson to run. “ANT” did a good job in his first official outing as an F1 race driver, running 10th on day one…

And so the winter “Olympics” begin… Although I know not to take too much out of these testing times, it’s hard not to get carried away reviewing the time sheets. Yet keep in mind that those whom win the winter“Oylmpics tend to falter in the sweltering heat of racing season. Next stop for testing is Jerez…

Monday, December 4, 2006

Champ Car visits China

Roberto Moreno continued his ambassadorial role by driving Champ Cars “Car of the Future” in China last week. Moreno has been test driving and performing demonstration laps aboard the Panoz DP-01 at selected venues…
Moreno became the very first Champ Car driver to drive in China when making his demonstration run at the Zhuhai International race circuit. The Champ Cars entourage used the event as a media “junket” to hype the upcoming inaugural China race in May, 2007 in front of the Chinese media. The Zhuhai event appears to be a more viable event after Champ Cars three failed attempts to race in Korea…

Mika’s Maladies

How the sands of Formula 1’s landscape shifts… Although I suspect not too much should be made out of it, nevertheless the headlines screamed: “Hakkinen Last!” This was in regards to Hakkinen’s guest stint as a McLaren test driver in Barcelona last Thursday.

Hakkinen was 3 seconds slower then Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, yet Hakkinen hadn’t been winter testing in 5 years. I guess this means Hakkinen shouldn’t quit his day job? Of course being a “hired gun” for the Mercedes DTM race team isn’t terrible either…

Fast Facts

Verstappen to Champ Cars?

According to Jos Verstappen’s website; Verstappen expects to be competing in Champ Cars next season. Although no team has been named, speculation centers upon Jos “The Boss” Verstappen racing with former Minardi team boss Paul Stoddart who will become a stakeholder in CTE/HVM next season. In typical Verstappen fashion; Jus says although no contract has been signed: “What, Me Worry? Champ Cars doesn’t kick off until next April!”

Da Matta Vows Return

Cristiano da Matta whose back home in Brazil continues his remarkable recovery. Da Matta now plans hopefully to return to racing. Although his doctor asked that Da Matta promise not to consider returning to racing during his recovery, Da Matta says that he’ll probably break his promise. Da Matta plans to drive a go kart shortly. Hopefully he’ll fair better than Jenson “Crash” Button or “Sand Dune” Tracy did in their off’ road adventures…

Friday, December 1, 2006

Champ cars Next Star?

Although nothing official has been announced, Graham Rahal expects to race in Champ Cars in 2007. Rahal has previously tested for Newman/Naas Racing at Sebring and hopes to join the team shortly. It’s unknown if Rahal joins Newman/Haas whether he’ll campaign a third car or replace Bruno Junqueira? Rahal has recently announced dropping his A1 GP plans in order to focus upon a Champ Car drive in 2007. If Rahal joins Champ Cars, he would increase the number of American driver participation to three? Currently Alex Figge of Pacific Coast Motorsports is the only confirmed driver, with Rahal and Buddy Rice awaiting confirmation. Rice is hoping to secure the second Forsythe seat alongside “Sand Dune” Tracy…

F1 Begins Winter Testing

“THEY’RE BACK!!!”
Formula 1 Never Sleeps… With the 2006 season just concluded, the majority of F1’s current Constructor’s have shown up for this week’s test in Barcelona. Although the teams sent 2006 machinery, there was one major difference. This was the first all Bridgestone test, now that Bridgestone has become Formula 1’s sole tire supplier. Basking in the Spanish sun, everybody except Spyker sent cars and drivers to the Circuit de Catalunya for testing…
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa continued where he left off at Brazil by tipping the time sheets during the test’s first two days. McLaren’s Pedro de la Rosa and “Quick Nick” (Nick Heidfeld) and) took turns being the meat in the Scuderia sandwich with Ferrari’s perennial tester Luca Badoer third both days…
Honda’s “Rubinoe” (Rubens Barrichello) took the fifth fastest time on Day One. New drivers Lewis Hamilton, Anthony Davidson and Alex Wurz all had good first outings while Mark Webber and Heikki Kovalainen languished towards the bottom of the grid…
Although Toyota apparently was busy taking a siesta during Barcelona’s opening day, the squad got down to business on Day Two of testing with Toyota’s Oliver Panis running fifth while new tester Kamui Kobayashi held down the slowest time of the day. De la Rosa and Heidfeld flip-flopped positions while Hamilton remained 6th. Honda’s new testing recruit Christian Klien was mid-pack in his debut. Webber moved towards the front half of the grid with Wurz’s time dropping off…
Barcelona’s final day of testing will see Mika Hakkinen back at the wheel of a McLaren F1 race car as a special “guest” test driver. It will be interesting to see where Hakkinen shows up on the time sheets…