Friday, November 30, 2007

He’s BACK!

I first heard about this on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain last week, who had Zorro on the telephone as his “Last Call.” As the diminutive Italian ceases to amaze me!

Almost everybody knows about the horrific accident Alex Zanardi was involved in at the Lausitzring on Sept. 15, 2001, when he lost both of his legs in a devastating crash. Yet Zanardi has refused to give up, rehabilitating himself to walk once again with the use of prosthetic legs.

Not only is Zanardi walking again, but he’s since returned to racing full time in the FIA World Touring Car Championship as well as winning races aboard his BMW 320i.

Last November, Zanardi became the first double amputee to ever test drive a Formula One car, running a modified BMW-Sauber C24-B at the Cheste racetrack near Valencia, Spain. Upon being congratulated of his historic accomplishment by BMW Sauber F1 Team Principal Dr. Mario Theisan, Zanardi replied: “Congratulations, you’re the first crazy person to let somebody with NO legs drive a Formula 1 car!”

Zanardi was calling Despain from New York where he’d just accomplished another amazing feat! What had originally started as a joke with his long time sponsor Barilla, saw the 40 year old once again amaze. As Zanardi had just finished 4th in the New York Marathon’s Hand Bike division…

Even more impressive was the fact that this had all began as a lark, as the Pasta Company had been keen to get Zanardi involved with their sponsoring of the Marathon. Zanardi said; “Sure, as long as I don’t have to pick up the check for 16,000 dinners…”

While Zanardi hadn’t even planned on competing, nor had he did any training prior to receiving his bike one month before the event. When he’d been told it would be impossible, the Italian was determined to give it a try!

For David Phillips story of Zanardi’s amazing exploit; See: Zanardi Amazes... Again

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

2007 Formula 1 review

2007 Formula 1 review
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->So I still cannot believe that Kimi Raikkonen won the 2007 Driver’s Title! Although as I’ve said before, I’ve been a fan of the “Iceman” since his rookie season in 2001… DAMN! Still can’t find his rookie Sauber card I bought back then. It just seemed like the odds were against him this season, while Lewis Hamilton was poised to become the series very first ever rookie to win the title. Yet Kimi did what he needed to do, by scoring his sixth win of the season in San Paulo… <!--[endif]-->
Taking a page from my favourite Formula 1 “rag” (F1 Racing) here’s a quick look at the “Good, Bad and UGLY” of the 2007 season.<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
Rookie of the Year
That’s a “Slam Dunk!” Its none other than “Louise Jaguar” Hamilton. (Uh Duh!) Although there were actually five rookies contesting this years championship. (Statistically) Adrian Sutil and Markus Winkelhock, <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->Spyker F1, Heikki Kovalainen, Renault; Sebastian Vettel, BMW Sauber/Scuderia Toro Rosso and “Jaguar.” Hamilton was simply head ‘N shoulders above the rest. After setting a new record for most consecutive podiums and scoring an amazing four victories… Lewis was “That Close” to making history. But then again, that’s why they run the races, eh? <!--[endif]-->
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->Yet since Hamilton was in clearly superior machinery, should he get the nod, or should one of the less fortunate drivers be selected? As I’d have to suggest that Sebastian Vettel was the true rookie revolation of the season. <!--[endif]-->
Car of the Year
This one is a hard choice for me. If I was going solely by favoritisms, then the Ferrari F2007 would get the nod, as I’m prone to say “immer Ferrari!” And the Scuderia has plenty to give credo to this choice, with its two drivers scoring 9 victories this season.
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->
But “Stepney Gate” not withstanding, Mclaren would have been the clear Constructors winner and hence I’ll obligingly give the MP4/2x the nod!
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->
Driver of the Year
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->Of course this could and may be argued about for quite some time, as the top four drivers all figure into the equation. For Ferrari we have Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, while McLaren has Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. <!--[endif]-->
And while Massa may be the “weakest” of these four drivers, Alonso’s ANTICS both On and OFF track clearly eliminate him from this selection. Therefore its between Hamilton and Raikkonen. And since he won his first World Championship in great style by never giving up… Kimi Raikkonen gets the nod.<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
Most improved
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->This one is a hard choice for me. The obvious selection would probably be BMW Sauber, which has just gone about its business since taking a majority stake in Peter Sauber’s ‘lil F1 team. But BMW has fairly large resources to draw from and thus I’ll select another outfit instead. <!--[endif]-->
My sentimental favourite would definitely be the Spyker, err Force India F1 as I really think rookie Adrian Sutil will be one of the sports future stars. And I suppose one could give the nod to Williams for outperforming its “Works” brethren, but my pick is none other than Professor Matchett’s favourite Minnow… Affectionaly known as “Super Best Friends!” As Super Aguri vastly OUTPERFORMED its Big Brother Honda ALL season, only to be bested by the Japanese giant 6-4 in Constructors points at the very end of the season…<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
Biggest Disappointment
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->I’d have to say without a doubt it would be the Honda F1 team this season. With such hopes upon unveiling their “Planet Earth” theme, things went into the crapper quickly. Hmm, guess it’s NOT nice to FOOL Mother Nature, eh? <!--[endif]-->
Scandal of the Year
Obviously without a doubt, “Stepney-Gate” has to loom as the worst episode of the F1 circus this season. And I still think it partially has to do with “sour grapes,” as long time Ferrari loyalist Nigel Stepney was feeling discarded by the new “Italian Regime” which has taken over the reigns of the Prancing Horse upon Michael Schumacher’s exitous.
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Loser of the Year
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->I guess it boils down to whom you’re talking about, since Robin Miller would probably vote for Ron Dennis, whom I don’t think is quite as “Squeaky Clean” as he’s painfully tried making us believe. <!--[endif]-->
Yet, my vote is for Fernando Alonso, whom I’ve NOT liked for the past few years now. Ok, he beat Schuey fair ‘N square on track to become the youngest Formula 1 World Champion, but he’s always been a spoil-sport to me… And this year’s shenanigan’s have firmly elevated him to his most deserving moniker; “Ferdi the Putz!” Then again I guess may be he’s got big kahoona’s for trying to Blackmail the Ronster, eh? But Ferdi is a royal Jack Ass…

Monday, November 26, 2007

Jani’s Clean Sweep

Neal Jani; PKV Racing Champ Car driver has just completed a Clean Sweep of the Malaysian A1 GP weekend. Driving for Team Switzerland, Jani was quickest in qualifying, snatching both pole positions for the sprint and feature races, with only France’s Loïc Duval and Great Britain’s (GBR) Oliver Jarvis being able to challenge him.

Then Jani proceeded to put on a driving clinic while setting fastest lap for both events enroute to scoring Switzerland’s first “Double” victory while also scoring maximum points.

While Jani kept his nose clean and led most of both events, fun and frivolities were breaking out behind him, with Team Germany’s rookie driver Michael Ammermuller gaining quite a reputation for overly aggressive (reckless driving… As first “Hammer Muller” tried a bonsai pass of Team Canada’s rookie Robert Wickens on the last lap of the sprint race.

Wickens, a Champ Car Atlantics standout who was making his series debut was in third place when the Hammer tried taking him out, bouncing off of Wickens and taking the place. Yet the stewards penalized Ammermuller a 25 second time penalty, dropping the young German to 16th with Wickens scoring his first podium in A1 GP behind Team France’s Duval.

But the fun ‘N games weren’t over yet as the Sepang F1 circuits overly wide stretches of tarmac can induce large amounts of “Red Mist,” while drivers jockey for positions. Thus on the get-away there were several cars involved in concertina related incidents, while Jani pulled away. Wickens who’d been caught out in the early lap shenanigans then was further involved in an accident with South Africa, which resulted in a Safety Car period.

During this portion of the race, confusion ensued which saw Team Brazil’s Sergio Jimenez pass Jani and Duvall in the pits, while the Hammer was busy playing billiards with Team GBR’s Oliver Jarvis, winner of this year’s Macau F3 race. Of course Jarvis got the worse end of the Hammer, whom
Initially received a drive thru penalty for his infraction. Upon further review, the stewards decided to disqualify Ammermuller from the feature race results altogether, thus seeing the Hammer D’ Queued from his first race outing!

Meanwhile Jani cleanly picked off race leader Jimenez with a few “flyer” laps during the second mandatory pit stop. And the stewards weren’t finished yet, assessing Brazil amongst others with various penalties. Thus France’s Duval was elevated to second when Brazil’s Jimenez was given a 2 second time penalty for a pit infraction, dropping Jimenez to third. Adding further insult to injury, Jarvis was dinged a penalty dropping him out of the final point scoring position, which gave Team USA its very first point of the season.

Team Switzerland now leads the championship after three events, 8 points ahead of France and 15 points clear of New Zealand. Round 4 will be held on December 16 at Champ Cars favourite Asian venue, the Zhuhai circuit in China…

Point standings after three of eleven events: 1 Switzerland, 61 points; 2 France, 53; 3 New Zealand, 46; 4 Netherlands, 39; 5 South Africa, 37; 6 Great Britain, 36; 7 Ireland, 31; 8 Brazil, 22; 9 Mexico, 17; 10 China, 16; 11 Germany, 14.

Glock to race for Toyota

Although SPEED’s Peter Windsor had previously announced that 2007 GP2 Champion Timo Glock would be replacing Ralf Schumacher at Toyota, the move had been delayed do to contractual wrangling. With BMW Sauber and Toyota playing “Tug ‘O War” over the young German’s services.

Thus the matter was being reviewed by the Contract Recognition Board, which has ruled that Glock is free to race for Toyota, although BMW Sauber believed they held a contract for Glock to remain as their test driver next season.

Yet BMW Sauber Team Principle Dr. Mario Theisen has announced that Glock is now free to go to Toyota, whom have officially confirmed Glock as “Ralfanso’s” replacement for 2008.

This leads one to speculate that either a new contract was negotiated or a sizeable amount of Deutschmarks transferred hands,

Meanwhile Toyota is seeking glock’s release from BMW Sauber “Just-in-Time” to participate at the upcoming Jerez winter test…

Kobayashi joins Toyota

While reigning GP2 champion Timo Glock was being confirmed as Ralf Schumacher’s replacement at Toyota F1, the Colone based team has also announced Kamui Kobayashi as its test driver for 2008.

The 21 year old Japanese driver has been linked to Toyota since 2001, being another member of Toyota’s young driver program. Kobayashi won the Formula Renault Italian and Eurocup titles in 2005 before graduating to Formula 3, where he partnered Giedo van der Garde and Sebastian Vettel. Kobayashi finished fourth in 2007 with one victory to his credit.

With Glock and Kobayashi joining Jarno Trulli, who has previously signed a one year contract, this leaves only four Constructor’s with unfilled driver line-ups. As McLaren, Renault, Force India and Super Aguri have yet to announce their drivers for next year.

And in a bit of further good tidings, its just been announced that Kobayashi has been signed to drive for the DAMS GP2 team in 2008, replacing fellow countryman Kazuki Nakajima…

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Prodrive off the Grid

With the prolonged wrangling over the Customer Car issue of Formula 1, previous speculation suggested that Prodrive most likely would not take up its place upon the Formula 1 grid in 2008, with its plan for Mclaren “turn key” chassis’s having been put on hold.

Prodrive’s McLaren customer arrangement has faded away, since its now too late for their intended debut “Down Under” next March. Thus Prodrive would be forced to take the “Super Best Friends” approach in order to show up in Melbourne.

Recall that Super Aguri purchased antiquated Arrows chassis in order to secure the intellectual property rights, which enabled the team to go racing in Australia with revamped four year old Arrows. The team then spent the majority of their debut season soldiering about the rear of the grid while scrambling to update the cars into competitive status.

Yet Williams has taken the matter of Prodrive’s planned McLaren customer chassis to court, stating that Prodrive’s intentions for 2008 are in direct violation with the sport.

Although I haven’t heard any news on the court actions involving Williams vs. Prodrive, there does now seem to be speculation on the Team Bosses angling towards compromising to let Scuderia Toro Rosso and Super Aguri race for two seasons with “cloned” race cars. Then in 2010 they would be required to become true Constructors, i.e.; responsible for the entire production of their race cars.

This means that both teams, which most likely may have been sold by then will need to fork out mucho dinero to build/buy the required infrastructure for such manufacturing, although both teams could simply resort to earlier premises.

Yet Prodrive has already paid the $48 million bond required by Emperor Bernardo for any new Formula 1 team’s inclusion to the grid. This was after Prodrive won the coveted 12th and final grid spot earlier this year and has long been rumoured to be paying McLaren $100 million for its supply of turn key chassis.

Yet Prodrive has just announced that it will NOT contest the 2008 season, as their business model for the past 18 months was centered upon Max Mosley’s planned Customer Car formula beginning in 2008, upon the conclusion of the Concorde Agreement. Since it now appears almost certain that this Agreement will be rolled over for a further season, Prodrive has elected to sit out the season while waiting for the matter to be settled…

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Uhm? Is it just me, err DON’T answer that! But I find it a bit funny that the Washington State Fryers Commission is running ads celebrating their 50 year anniversary during the “Turkey Lurkey” weekend… And it’s a “cute” ad, saying that the chickens aren’t 50yrs old, since those would be some “Tough Birds!” But I digress…

(See what happens when Blogger is experiencing “Technical Difficulties” and won’t let me publish the dag-nabbit story, which I tried doing twice this morning…)

Upon noting that the 2007 Racing season has now finished with the conclusion of the RASSCAR “Chump-pee-onship” weekend… I settled down to watch the chequered flag edition of my favourite racing program, Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain. And "GOLL -LEEEEeee…” They even let their resident Open Wheel soothsayer Robin Miller chime in on the final episode.

As usual, Miller had me cracking’ up in only a matter ‘O moments… As Despain and co-host Mike Joy were laying the RASSCAR angle on thick. With a caller asking Miller why don’t all of dem Open Wheelers have to go to the Richard Petty school ‘O driving performance? Apparently our “boyzs” Carpentier, Hornish Jr. and Villeneuve had a hard time stayin’ outta the way in Homestead…

For a few weeks now Despain has been asking viewers what’s the Biggest Story of the Racing season? And I was surprised to hear the ‘ol Windbag himself correctly point out that it unequivocally has to be the “Stepney Gate” spy scandal…

Thus Despain asked Miller what his biggest story was. To which Robin retorted that the SADDEST story of the year is definitely the mass exit us of Open Wheel drivers to RASSCAR… Saying how it shows how far Open Wheel has fallen when successful drivers are content to go run 35th in France Cup every weekend!

Despain then asked did I hear this right? Your biggest story of the season is Formula 1? It was until this morning when Darrell Waltrip told the truth about RASSCAR SUCKING the life outta Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick…

My second biggest story is how “The Ronster’s” ARROGANCE COST Lewis Hamilton the World Championship… Making him stay out on track forever and spinning off into the sand trap in China. But that makes me happy, ‘cause Ron Dennis now has to be miserable for the entire winter!

Wait a second, Dennis’s Arrogance cost Hamilton the title? Well they kept telling Ron he’d better pit for tires each lap… And ok, “Jaguar” going crazy on the first lap in Brazil wasn’t Ron’s fault. But, Boo-Hoo-Hoo!” Poor Mr. Dennis… He’s a BAD Guy!

(We’ll pause a moment here for the Ronster. Having to get dem “Kraut’s” to fess up $100 million in Euros, let’s see, that’s ‘bout $45 million in funny money, eh?)

Apparently the humongous gaps in the Champ Car calendar along with pinching ‘O pennies by SPEED not wishing to send Miller Down Under has compelled him to cover “Flat liners?” (NHRA)

Actually this seems to be another sign of the current plight of Open Wheel racing, as Miller stated that Champ Cars TV rating have gotten so bad, that they don’t send anyone to bother covering the races anymore! Yet I do find it hilarious how I’d rather hear Miller reporting on those Nitro burners then the 24/7 continuous DRIBBLE ‘O Roundy-round on the RASSCAR Shoppin’ Network…

Sadly Miller seems to think that the entire focus of Open Wheel Racing wrests upon the shoulders of “The Princess!” Who’d uh thunk-it that the 100lb media darling would become our guiding light?

And it seems like Miller’s gonna be really busy next year, since he’s agreed to not only chauffer ‘ol DW for the next five years, but also “Suitcase” Servia, you know De-Spain’s “brother.” Hopefully SPEED is either going to give Miller a raise or at least pay for his mileage.

But I think my pick for Funniest Story of the Year… Categorically, without a doubt was Miller and Dan “Spike” Wheldon appearing on Wind Tunnel with Miller’s circa ’82 “CHEAP” Ganassi button blatantly affixed to their chest, while Miller told Despain he was just “Showin’ the LUV!”

DON’T forget to vote for Helioe…
Happy Turkey Lurkey Day ‘Y’all!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Brawn joins Honda

Honda F1 has announced the signing of Ross Brawn as their newly hired Team Principal, responsible for the Day to Day operations of the team, while current Team Boss Nick Fry will stay on as CEO. Fry will now concentrate upon the commercial side of the team, leaving Brawn in charge of turning the team into a championship challenger.

Brawn, who’s spent the past year on “Fishing Sabbatical,” was long rumoured to be seeking a new role at Ferrari where he oversaw Michael Schumacher’s Grand Prix dominance. As Technical Director of both Benetton and Ferrari, Brawn was instrumental in all seven of Schuey’s titles and was part of the “Brain Trust” that followed the German’s move to the Prancing Horse in 1996.

Interestingly Brawn has been out of the spotlight the entire year except for serving as a witness in the “Stepney-Gate” proceedings, as Nigel Stepney had originally hoped to entice Brawn to join him while he was in possession of the 780 pages of documents that ultimately winded up in Mike Coughlin’s hands.

Brawn will begin his tenure at Honda on November 26, planning to work with the current staff on hand and will report directly to Fry.

Briscoe lands Penske seat

With the recent announcement of Sam Hornish Jr. joining the swelling ranks of Open Wheelers defecting to RASSCAR. Penske has announced that Ryan Briscoe will indeed take over Hornish’s vacated Indy Car seat for 2008.

Briscoe originally cut his teeth in karting, before moving up to European single seaters. In 2002, Briscoe was hired as a Toyota F1 test driver and became the Friday third driver when Ricardo Zonta replaced Cristiano da Matta.

While rumoured to be in line for a Jordan Grand Prix drive for 2005, Briscoe joined Chip Ganassi’s IRL team instead. And struggling to come to grips with Oval tracks had a horrific crash at Chicagoland on September 11th, breaking both clavicles amongst other injuries.

With Briscoe’s ’05 season effectively over, along with Dan Wheldon becoming available for 2006. Briscoe was expendable, as Ganassi hired the reigning Indy Car champion from Andretti Green Racing.

Thus Briscoe spent the year seeking rides and returned to the Grand American series with Wayne Taylor Racing, along with four races for Dreyer & Reinbold. Briscoe scored a third place finish at Watkins Glen before filling in for the injured da Matta in the final two Champ Car races.

This year, Briscoe became a full time Penske American Le Mans Porsche Spyder pilot, finishing second in the LMP2 category with three wins and two poles. And it seemed obvious that Briscoe was being groomed for Hornish’s seat when he raced for Luczo Dragon Racing at Indy this May. As the team was effectively a Penske satellite operation, campaigning leased Penske equipment for team co-owner Jay Penske, with Briscoe qualifying seventh and finishing fifth…

Ferrari replaces Todt

In a further sign of the changing of the guard at Ferrari, the Prancing Horse hierarchy has just announced that Stefano Domenicali Will replace Jean Todt as head of Gestione Sportiva, effective January 1st, 2008.

Upon graduating from the University of Bologna, Domenicali joined Ferrari in 1991 and will head a decisively Italian flavoured Scuderia Ferrari race team. It’s unclear whether or not Todt will continue as President and CEO of Ferrari automobiles…

Monday, November 19, 2007

McLaren Appeal Denied

Well isn’t it interesting how this appeal of McLaren’s over the fuel temperature irregularities of BMW Sauber and Williams in Brazil has largely been forgotten with the Renault “Spy Gate” saga on the front burner.

Hmm, speaking of burners’, what’s for Breakfast, eh? Well it’s not freshly baked croissants, as the hearing has been moved from Strike torn Paris to London. Guess it’s a good thing they’re all flying first class on British Airways?

Thus the International Court of Appeals (ICA) has been getting quite a workout lately with the revolving door of legal actions being heard in its court room. As even Emperor Bernardo has weighed in on the manner, stating he’d be forced to retire if the ICA overturned the results of the World Championship.

Thus, the FIA has taken great pains to throw the publicizing of the matter underneath the very ornate rugs of the court jester’s. As the appeal has brought to light the potential embarrassment of FIA Technical Delegate Jo Bauer having made a mistake, or the rules being; “Clear as MUD on a rainy day!”

So the outcome was purposely manipulated, causing the ruling not to be announced until the wee hours of Friday evening in order to keep this story from reaching the presses. As the Wizard of OZ springs to mind.

“Do NOT look behind the Curtain! Do NOT look behind the Curtain! Do NOT look behind the Curtain!"
(Came from a voice eerily similar to Mr. Ecclestone’s)

Therefore the ICA has just ruled on this matter and found McLaren’s appeal inadmissible, as the FIA issued the following statement:
“The FIA International Court of Appeal met in London on Thursday, November 15, 2007, to examine an appeal lodged by the Motor Sports Association (MSA) on behalf of its licence-holder Vodafone McLaren Mercedes against the decision (document 41) of the Panel of the Stewards of the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix dated 21 October 2007 and counting towards the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship.
“Following a report from the Technical Delegate indicating that the temperature of fuel pumped into the cars N°9 – Nick Heidfeld, N°10 – Robert Kubica, N°16 – Nico Rosberg and N°17 – Kazuki Nakajima, was more than 10 degrees centigrade below ambient temperature, the Stewards of the Meeting met to consider whether a penalty should be imposed.
“Having heard the evidence they decided not to impose a penalty as they had sufficient doubt as to both the temperature of the fuel on board the car and to the true ambient temperature.
“Having heard the explanations of both parties and having examined the various documents and other evidence, the Court decided that the appeal lodged by Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is inadmissible.
“The International Court of Appeal was presided over by Mr Jan Stovicek (Czech Republic), elected President, and composed of Mr John Cassidy (United States), Mr Vassilis Koussis (Greece) and Mr José Macedo e Cunha (Portugal).”

Kazuki joins Williams

The AT & T Williams F1 Team has announced their driver line-up for 2008, with test driver Kazuki Nakajima being selected to fill Williams second seat alongside Nico Rosberg.

Kazuki is the son of Japanese F1 racing pioneer Satoru Nakajima, who was closely linked with Honda throughout his career. But Kazuki has cultivated his association with Toyota since winning in Japanese karting, while trying to make a name for himself.

Nakajima scored five podiums and his first pole this season in GP2 while driving for the DAMS team. Kazuki then made his Formula 1 debut in Brazil, filling in for Alexandar Wurz, who has just retired from F1.

The move is attractive for Frank Williams as Toyota will now pay for the engines Williams currently uses, with Sir Frank solidifying his partnership with the Japanese automaker. Recall that Williams previously spurned Honda over Japanese talent two decades earlier and subsequently lost his supply of the all conquering Honda V-6 Turbos to McLaren in 1988.

The announcement of Rosberg as the Grove squads number one driver seemingly rules out his potential move to McLaren as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate in 2008…

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Well it’s all OVER! With today’s running of the Nextell Cup finale at Homestead, followed by the final broadcast of Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain… The 2007 racing season is officially over!

Thus we’ll have to wait until late January 2008 for the roar of V-8 engines with the Rolex 24 at Daytona hosting the kickoff classic of another season of motorsports…

Thursday, November 15, 2007

India lands Grand Prix

Although a deal has long been imminent, Messer Ecclestone has reportedly just signed a 10 year deal with India to host a Formula 1 race beginning in 2010.

This news coincides with a pronounced India presence at the just completed winter testing.

On hand in Barcelona was Indian GP2 driver Karun Chandhok, whom tested with Red Bull Racing alongside Formula One’s elder statesman David Coulthard. , While the newly renamed Force India F1 team ran interim painted cars, testing potential race drivers for 2008.

Yet I find it interesting how everything has already been put into place for the new tracks creation, with building permits already scheduled, a new airport nearby, new expressways along with Herman Tilke being tapped as the circuits designer. With a 700 acre parcel in Greater Noida, to have been picked for development by JP Associates.

This “Mega” conglomerate is headed by one of India’s richest businessmen, Jaiprakash Gaur . As the 75 year old magnate is currently building a new city on a 450 acre parcel nearby…

Schuey leads the way

What better way to divert attention from the Spy Gate scandals then trumpeting the news of Michael Schumacher leading winter testing at Barcelona.

Not showing any signs of rust after having been away from the cockpit for one year, Schuey was quickest overall during the first two days of testing. And yes, several of the “Heavy Hitters” weren’t present during the test, (Raikkonen, Hamilton, Alonso) nevertheless the 38 year old German was impressive, only being outdone on the final day of testing by Felipe Massa…

Viva la Mexico

Well it’s finally over… As I’m certain that Champ Car is sighing a breath of relief over the conclusion of a very rough 2007 season...

Along with several cancelled events, Mexico City sees newly anointed four time consecutive Champ Car champion Sebastian Bourdais making his series farewell.

Kicking the weekend off in his traditional fashion, the Hamburgular once again stole the top spot in Friday’s provisional qualifying with a new record lap of 1:24.698.

This didn’t last long though as Will Power forced his way to the front in Saturday’s final qualifying session, setting a “New Track Record” of 1:23.558. (119.515 mph) Power led a contingent of seven drivers besting Sea Bass’s time of Friday as Bourdais ended up tenth quickest, but started second overall due to his Friday pole.

Then Bourdais and teammate Graham Rahal were penalized 22 seconds of their P2P time due to laying down rubber in their pit boxes against Champ Car orders.

And I suspect that the altitude of Mexico City had something to do with the aborted start, as three competitors stalled for the very first time of a standing start. Mexico City’s air (while polluted) is very thin, with the elevation being 7,400+ feet.

Although one of the casualties was Dan “Speedy Dry” Clarke who’s clutch failed on the aborted start. Teammate “Bad Bobby D” (Robert Doornbos) also lost his clutch on lap three. Hmm? Perhaps Minardi Team USA used some of the Hamburgular’s “Secret Sauce” for their clutch set-ups? Yet the team did an Indy Racing League style pit job, repairing the clutch and sending Doornbos back out to score one point for setting the fastest lap to ensure his third place in the championship.

And was it “Déjà vu?” As this year’s pole sitter Power was racing with a broken wrist, having suffered a hairline fracture in his accident with Katherine Legge in Australia. Last year saw Justin Wilson racing with a broken wrist and ironically Power’s teammate Simon Pagenaud was suffering from tendonitis in his wrist.

And for all of you Die Cast Vroomers, fortunately Champ Car hasn’t put out a decent diecast in years; especially the later Lola’s which were incorrect! So you won’t have to worry about getting’ the custom Mac Doogals car that Bourdais drove to victory… As it was adorned with decals for his entire Champ Car career, leaving a blank space left on the nose for Mexico… Hey, now they can make two versions of this car, eh?

Meanwhile Justin Wilson was forced to soldier around the track for the majority of the race with fuel pressure problems, this made him a lame duck on the long straightaway, and finishing tenth do to his lack of horsepower.

Yet Sea Bass clearly showed why he’s currently heads ‘N shoulders above the rest of the Champ Car fraternity, by overtaking Power and pulling away to an 11+ second lead. Then when a late yellow flag bunched the field back together to give Power one last shot at the Hamburgular, who was at a disadvantage on P2P power. Sea Bass simply drove off into the sunset, making a banzai start while NOT using any of his precious P2P supply! Thus leaving Power to finish second.

And with Michael Schumacher-like numbers in Champ Car, *31 Wins/73 Starts = 43% win avg.) The series will potentially be much more exciting next season. The win ties Bourdais with ‘Lil Al (Al Unser Jr.) and Paul Tracy for sixth overall in all time Champ Car wins.

But the best story of the day was “Suitcase” Servia’s run from 16th to the final podium position with a burst of late race passes., after having stalled on the start from fourth place. PKV co-owner Jimmy Vasser told Oriel to quit saving his P2P! Jumping from sixth to third on the final restart.

Servia got the nickname courtesy of Rick Benjamin in deference to the number of teams and drivers the Spaniard has filled in for this season.

Afterwards, Servia wanting to know how to get on Wind Tunnel asked SPEED’s Robin Miller about his brother… Who? You know “Dee-Spain.” I’m from Spain, he’s De-Spain, and if I win a race will this get me on Wind Tunnel? To which Miller assured him he’d even drive him to the Charlotte studios…

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

“IRV” gets to Swerve

Eddie Irvine, better known as “IRV the SWERVE, will get another opportunity to aptly demonstrate his sideways slewing skills that earned him the nickname “IRV the SWERVE.”

Irvine will take to the wheel of a Deeter Majestic (Red Bull) VW Touareg in his native country, as part of the prelude to Rally Ireland. As this top cross country rallying team will perform in the Super Special stage kicking off the WRC event in Stormont, Belfast.

The crowds will be cheering for IRV as the Super Special stage signifies the inaugural round of the World Rally Championship to compete in Ireland. This stage will see the top rally drivers compete head to head around Parliament Buildings' grounds and a flying finish over the specially designed Creagh Bridge.

The Red Bull VW Touareg, normally piloted by ex- WRC Superstar Carlos Sainz, whom recently won the World driver's title will instead feature Irvine, most notably known as Michael Schumacher’s wingman at Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, in hopes to elicit spectators for the event.

Sainz, one of the World Rally Championship’s most successful drivers, claiming two WRC Drivers titles in 1990 and 1992 in a Toyota Celica, has just captured the title in this year’s FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup. As Sainz, now a VW Factory driver won the UAE Desert Challenge. The victory marked the Touareg’s twentieth win as Volkswagen now sets its sights on the 2008 Dakar Rally…

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Renault in Trouble

Just when you think that perhaps we’ll make it thru the rest of the year without further legal shenanigans occurring in the Formula 1 arena, word comes of the next major bombshell.

Of course its of little surprise to me that Flavour Flav was in total “Denial Mode” when the first whispers of the story started to make the rounds, as Renault was thought to be in illegal possession of McLaren technical documents.

Yet Renault has issued the following statement that this is indeed true, as Phil Mackereth, an engineer whom joined the team from McLaren in 2006 had brought several floppy discs with him containing Proprietary information.

Renault claims that this information was loaded onto their computer system and Mr. Mackereth’s personal directory before subsequently coming to light on September 6th, nearly one year after his joining the team.

Renault claims when the information was divulged to the Senior Technical Management, it immediately informed McLaren and Mackereth was suspended. Renault also insists that none of the data was used for either of its 2006 or 2007 chassis.

Thus a whole new chapter in the “Spy Gate” saga currently gripping Formula 1 is set to be written as Renault has been issued a summons before the FIA tribunal on December 6th. And it seems only logical to assume that Renault should suffer no fewer penalties then were handed out to McLaren in regards to “Stepney Gate” earlier this year. Especially since McLaren was deemed to not have actual possession of any of the damaging documents on its internal computer systems.

Interestingly even more Draconian punishment was thought to be possible for McLaren before the final ruling and thus Renault at the very least will loose its 2007 Constructors points and be fined $100 million…

If the penalties are more severe, this in turn could affect Fernando Alonso’s return to the team in 2008, as Ferdi the Putz is conveniently on vacation for the time being. Perhaps in Germany, near Colone. (Can you say Toyota?)

It will be strange having two major F1 powerhouses at the tail end of pit lane. Loosing out on other normal “perks” associated with being one of the “Top Four,” which the FIA pays its freight costs for. And much to their chagrin, the rest of the grid will move forward another place…

Monday, November 12, 2007

Time Stands Still

Nagasaki Peace Park's Fountain of Peace. (Image source:
"Imagine a time when it all began
In the dying days of a war
A weapon that would settle the score
Whoever found it first would be sure to do their worst
They always had before..."

Although I traditionally refrain from the topic of politics, I simply cannot avoid the most appalling thoughts I had while sightseeing in Japan recently. You see I’ve now been to both WWII Atomic Bomb sites; Hiroshima, 2004 and Nagasaki, 2007.

Obviously both sites are different, yet both were civilian targets with Hiroshima being a larger city than Nagasaki. Actually Nagasaki wasn’t the primary target on that fateful day, it was a back-up target picked when Kokura was blanketed by dense clouds, obscuring the city.

Boxcar, the second B-29 bomber assigned to carry a nuclear bomb, was low on fuel, making only one pass over the target before dropping its lethal cargo at 11:02AM. As the bomb detonated above a tennis court…

After driving from Sasebo to Nagasaki, Tanja, Albin & I hopped aboard a Tram (Street Car) and rode to a nearby Atom Bomb museum stop. The museum is of an interesting design, as we walked down a continuously spiraling carpeted walkway, into the bowels of the museum.

There are several artifacts on display, beginning with pictures of the city prior to the blast. There’s a picture of an entire city street, a school, temple, farming, horses, etc. Then there’s the clock with its hands frozen at 11:02AM, retrieved from a house approx. 3 kilometers from the blast. There are several items of glass & metal that are either twisted, bent or fused together from the bomb’s massive heat. There’s even a piece of roofing you can touch, which shows the affects of the intense temperature afflicted on the ceramic tile.

There’s a single wall left of the church that was destroyed in the holocaust, as well as a counterpart of the horrific plutonium core bomb of the original “Fat Man” weapon used on Nagasaki. It’s gigantic and I think it weighed 4,000 tons.

Reports differ over the total effects of the atomic wasteland, as Nagasaki like Hiroshima three days earlier was pulverized. And although it was known that the bombing could instantly kill everyone within a 4 kilometer radius, the then unknown effects of radiation were not understood. As countless scores of people simply died in other towns listed as; Dying, causes other than Atomic bombing…

There are several gruesome pictures of dead bodies and injured people, as Nagasaki’s population was approx. 240,000 at the impact of Fat Man. Imagine in just 30 seconds, the bombs horrifically radiant heat killed over one-fourth of the population. Another one-fourth was injured along with countless thousands left homeless!

Blast damage occurred as far away as 15 kilometers, with shrapnel flying as far as 8 kilometers. The city was leveled 2.6 miles approx. (radius) with anything black catching fire up to 4 kilometers away. As all of the telephone poles left standing were charred on the side facing the blast!

On display, a section of wall recovered is quite intriguing. It too was also 4 kilometers away from the blast. Yet the bombs flash and heat was so bright and hot that it fused a man’s shadow and piece of leather into the wall! There’s also the shadow of a picket fence on the wall along with the image of leaves fused into a piece of wood…

Various exhibits with time lines of the history of the Manhattan Project are interspersed with other related events. There’s current day Atomic statistics, like every Nations projected nuclear arsenal with Russia listed at 16,000 weapons followed by the US at 10,000. And there’s a display listing every Nations atmospheric and underground Atom bomb tests since WWII.

Yet the most chilling display to me was the current day Nuclear weapons facilities, since this included Hanford, WA. I suppose why it sent a chill up my back was because it was the only video playing in English, as person after person discussed the devastating health effects of the “Down-winders.” Ranging from damaged Thyroid’s, cancer and multiple birth defects! (40+ years after being built)

Next we walked to the adjoining Peace Park, which features an elaborate display at Ground Zero, with the grass lawn being interspersed with concrete rings leading inwards to the huge 10 meter tall peace statue adorned by a black marble vault containing the names of the atomic bomb victims and survivors who died in subsequent years. A plaque gives the following statistics:
Dead: 73,884
Injured: 74,909
Sufferers: 120,820
Houses burned down:11,574
Houses half-ruined, 5,509
Houses partly damaged 50,000

At the south end of the park is a giant flowing water fountain. This Fountain of Peace was created in 1969 giving prayer to all of the people who perished in the bombing while vainly searching for water.

At the base of the fountain is a black stone plaque with Lines from a poem carved into it. They were written by a girl named Sachiko Yamaguchi, who was nine at the time of the bombing,

It reads:
"I was thirsty beyond endurance. There was something oily on the surface of the water, but I wanted water so badly that I drank it just as it was."

Partial song lyrics from: RUSH; Manhattan Project - Power Windows, 1985

(This page was Modified on: 11/9/17)