Thursday, January 31, 2008

LeMay adds Star power

I’ve just been informed by No Fenders Tacoma Bureau Chief Mary Ellen that “Lone Star JR” (Johnny Rutherford) has joined the Harold Lemay museum’s Board of Directors. This is fantastic news for the museum, which has very ambitious plans to house one of the most amazing private collections of automobiles in a state of the art facility in Downtown Tacoma. The museum plans to break ground in 2008 with first stage construction being completed in 2009 and Opening festivities in 2010…


COOL Places to visit

I had been thinking of adding this to the site for awhile, but with the news of Lone Star JR’s addition to the Lemay board, I felt like it was perfect timing to go ahead and post this.

Just a short list of some very cool places to visit, as I’ve had the pleasure of checking out some of these fantastic venues., Feel free to drop me a line if you know of some place COOL to visit
Email Tomaso at:


Glen H. Curtiss Aviation museum
This is a wonderful little museum tucked away in upstate New York. Glen Curtiss is one of the pioneers of aviation, especially naval aviation and the museum features examples of motorcycles, aircraft and aircraft engines.

Glenn H. Curtiss Museum
8419 State Route 54
Hammondsport, NY 14840

(607) 569-2160


Harold E. Lemay museum
This museum when completed will house the largest private collection of automobiles in a state of the art museum in Downtown Tacoma. Stage 1 construction is slated to begin in 2008 with completion estimated in late 2009. Opening festivities are planned for 2010. Stay tuned for more details.

Tacoma, Washington

(253) 536-2885


The Hydroplane and Raceboat museum
This is a wonderful low key museum dedicated to the preservation of classic hydroplanes that graced the shores of Lake Washington and features a small collection of vintage piston powered hydroplanes such as Miss Budweiser, Slo Mo and Miss Bardahl to name just a few.

Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum
5917 South 196th Street
Kent, WA 98032

(206) 764-9453


Museum of Flight
If you’re an aviation buff, then this is definitely a must see, as it has an impressive collection of various era aircraft. My personal favourite is the Lockeed YF-12A complete with drone hanging from the ceiling! This was the forbearer to the vaunted SR-71. There’s also an outstanding WWI & WWII wing along with an airpark across the street containing a Concorde and Presidential airplane that you can walk thru.

The Museum of Flight
9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle, WA 98108-4097

(206) 764-5720


Museum of History & Industry (MoHi)
This is a wonderful museum showcasing the history of Seattle and the Puget Sound, which features the glue pot that caused the great Seattle fire, an early Boeing mail delivery plane and the Slo Motion hydroplane just to name a few of its exhibits.

Seattle's Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)
McCurdy Park
2700 24th Ave East
Seattle, WA 98112-2099

(206) 324-1126


Penske Racing museum
Nestled inside the Captain’s flagship Arizona Auto dealership in north Scottsdale, the museum features the majority of Penske’s Indy 500 winners along with other related vehicles and paraphernalia.

Penske Racing Museum
7125 East Chauncey Lane
Phoenix, AZ 85054

(480) 538-4444


Pima Air & Space museum
Located in Tucson, AZ, this museum features the vastest array of military and civilian aircraft parked outside in the Desert sun. The museum features multiple displays including an X-15 rocket ship.

Pima Air & Space Museum
6000 E. Valencia Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85706

(520) 574-0462


Shelby American museum
This place looks like quite the amazing museum for any aspiring Ford or Shelby aficionado, located in Boulder, Colorado; it’s on the list of places to travel.

The Shelby American Collection
5020 Chaparral Court
P.O. Box 19228
Boulder, Colorado 80308-2228

(303) 516-9565


Unser Racing museum
Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the museum is the vision of Al Unser Sr. and features a variety of personal race cars and family memorabilia. Hope to visit this wonderful museum some day in the future.

1776 Montaño NW
Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, NM 87107

(505) 341-1776


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rolex 24: 2008 Edition

So I’ve just finished watching my selected eight hours ‘O taping of this years Rolex 24 at Daytona Beach and must say it was quite a wacky race weather-wise, eh? As their were an inordinate number of yellow flags as well as precipitation, Yet in the end once again the Cheepster was victorious. As Chip Ganassi made Daytona history by becoming the first team to win three consecutive Rolex 24’s, with his hired guns behind the wheel of his winning #01 Lexus-Riley. The victory was Scott “Jucyfruit” Pruett’s eighth victory in Florida and third overall win, with MAC Montoya notching his second consecutive Rolex time piece, while Dario “Where’s my pants” Franchitti and Memo Rojas scored their first Rolex trophy as the TCGR entry finished with a comfortable three lap lead.

Team Jimmy (Vasser & Johnson, Alex Gurney and John CCR Foggerty) finished runner-up while Roger Penske’s Wayne Taylor sister effort finished third.

In the GT ranks it was a classic storybook finish of David vs. Goliath as the little car that thought it could won the race by seven laps, as the #70 Speedsource Mazda RX8 put a whoopin’ on the rest of the field. This car was co-driven by Sylvain Tremblay, Nick Ham, David Haskell and Raphael Matos who continues to make good.

Meanwhile team Banner Engineering may wish to consider changing their name as they struggled thru a harsh 24 hours, having a not so banner outing, although The Banner Engineering #07 Pontiac GXP.R co-driven by Paul Edwards, Kelly Collins and Jan Magnussen did spend quite a few hours at the front of the GT grid chasing the #70 Mazda, with Edwards even leading the race during the night, before becoming the victim of a wayward Daytona Prototype facing the oncoming four car GT freight train Edwards was part of backwards. With the two Porsches ahead of him splitting the stricken DP, Edwards was a hapless victim with nowhere to go. After repairing the damaged Pontiac, they finished seventh in class.

Unfortunately the sister car, the #06 Banner Engineering/Shock Doctor Pontiac GXP-R co-driven by Leighton Reese, Marc Bunting, Robert Nearn and Andy Pilgrim fared even worse, struggling thru a litany of mechanical gremlins,

Once again I got to witness Robert having mechanical woes, as SPEED came back from commercial break during the 6-7AM (EDT) portion of my tape, there he was coming down pit lane with the Pontiac’s flashers flashing as Robert had a minor problem with the hood coming ajar and obscuring his vision. SHEISA!!!

Which certainly got his attention, eh? But Robert seemed to do a masterful job of maneuvering into his pit stall… As SPEED’s Andrew Marriot covered Robert’s unscheduled pit stop briefly; saying that the boys had gone to work on the rear end with torches… Which in English translates to flashlights… Thinking the wide track (“Wider is better”) Pontiac was having some sort of braking issues.

And The SPEED TV guys kept jabbering on 'bout how the Pontiac is the largest profile car in the GT ranks and doesn't punch a very good hole thru the air on the banking.

Then towards the end of my selected taping they talked to Leighton Reese (team owner) who claimed that the #06 Pontiac was having issues with rear half shafts as they were swapping out the second one, but they soldier home to a 22nd place finish in the GT class.

And now having read the post race transcripts, either the SPEED crew identified the wrong driver or Robert’s cameo pit stop to fix the hood was due to Marc Bunting’s previous spin and crash upon leaving the pits on cold tires…

Sebring testing

And while the Grand Am teams were either basking in the glow of victory or the agony of defeat, the American Le Mans Series kicked off winter testing at the venerable Sebring International Raceway, where several really-really-really big announcements were made.

Not surprisingly, the Audi R10 TDI turbo diesels led the way in testing, although the Peugeot nipped at the Audi’s heels before developing an oil leak, while the Penske Porsche RS Spyders once again led the way for the LMP2 category, as ALMS teams prepare for the 56th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 15th.

De Ferran Motorsports unveils ALMS plansGil de Ferran, the 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner and two time CART/PPG champion has announced the formation of De Ferran Motorsports in order for the Brazilian to re-enter racing. De ferran, the ex-Honda F1 Sporting Director (2005-07) will campaign a factory backed Acura powered ARC chassis in the LMP2 category, beginning later this season, De Ferran will return to the cockpit for the first time in five years as the primary driver. Other drivers will be announced shortly, as De Ferran’s entry will become the fourth Acura raced in Honda’s efforts to dethrone the all conquering Porsche RS Spyders.

Bell Motorsports announces plans
No, it’s not the Bell’s you may be thinking it is, as I first assumed that Derek and Justin Bell had gone into cahoots to form their own race team?

Actually its long time ALMS entrant Jim Bell and new business partner Michael Fux who announced at the Sebring test their new GT1 program, which they’ll contest with an Aston Martin DBR9. The Miami based Bell Motorsports hopes that the Aston Martin DBR9 can give some much needed competition to the Corvettes that have had the GT1 playground all to themselves for awhile now. Definitive driver line-up and plans will be announced shortly.

And speaking of the Corvettes that have reined supreme in the two car factory backed GM playground, more commonly known as GT1. The Corvettes will contest the 2008 season running their Chevy’s on Ethanol E85 derived from stwitchgrass ‘N stuff…

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Back again

“Whale,” I’ve managed to return thru the snow from another enjoyable outing at the “Hobby Farm” where I successfully managed to pet three of the four Llamas. Which seem to be very sensitive animals, who don’t appreciate us Humans getting to close to them, although Jefford tried to convince me that you need to spit at them in order to gain their trust, funny guy, eh?

Now I suppose its time to get back to the “Rat Race” of scouring the newswires & internets for the latest happenings in the land of OZ. Perhaps Tony George and the Four Mooseketeers sang “Coom-bi-yah over the weekend? Hmm? Wonder how my mate Robert did this past weekend in Daytona…

Tony’s sandbox

If you’re not aware by now, Robin Miller has written a story for SPEED claiming that Tony George, one of the central figures responsible for RUINING Open Wheel racing, reportedly made an offer to Champ Car to unify the two desolate series for 2008 just prior to Christmas.

Although George’s offer seems to be reasonable on the surface, the powers to be at Champ Car, nee the Four Moosketeers (Kalkoven, Forsythe, Gentilozzi, and Petitt) have rejected the offer, although both Forsythe and Kalkoven vehemently claim they never got the memo…

And suffice it to say, things aren’t getting any better in Champ Car as teams and drivers seem to be packing their bags as quickly as possible. Joining the HELL NO conga line appears to be A1 GP Team Switzerland’s Neal Jani, who wisely has turned down any attempts of returning to Champ Car in 2008 in favour of chasing the A1 GP title instead. Uhm, what’s that word they call out before shocking you with the paddles…
Looks like Tony’s gonna have to break open the Hullman families piggy bank just a little wider, eh? Then again if he can truly get the world of Open Wheel off of life support and a return of Formula 1, then it would be money wisely spent!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rolex 24

Well it’s almost time to kick off the 2008 racing season with this year’s twice around the clock running of the Rolex 24.

And although I was finally able to find a preliminary 2008 Rolex 24 Entry List, it was not updated. (Hello Grand AM!) So I decided NOT to spend countless hours studying it to figure out who all of the really-really-really “Big” names in this year’s contest are, here’s a brief listing of celebrity drivers participating. (In alphabetical order)

Champ Car
The Champ Car World Series will have four drivers; Justin Wilson, Graham Rahal, Robert Doornbos, Jan Heylen, plus 1996 CART Champion Jimmy Vasser as well as the Long Beach promoter and reigning Champ Car Atlantics champion Rafael Matos on hand.

Indy Car
Team Penske’s current drivers Ryan Briscoe & Helio Castroneves along with Target Chip Ganassi’s triumberant of Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon and Rookie Alex Lloyd will contest the race aboard DP Prototype’s.

Sprint Cup
And it still seems weird thinking of Juan Pablo (“MAC”) Montoya and Dario “Forgot my Pants” Franchitti as RASSCAR drivers, who’ll be trying to make history for Chip Ganassi as the first three time consecutive winner of the Rolex 24.

Even funnier is the “Cheepster’s” pairing of the Sprint cup duo
Along with his Sports Car “Hired Gun” Scott “Juicy-fruit” Pruett, recall that MAC Montoya punted Pruett off track to win his first Busch Cup event in Mexico last year! Along with the two aforementioned RASSCAR “Stars” will be Curt Busch and Jimmy Johnson.

And this brief recap doesn’t even delve into the many Sports Car stars contesting the event this year. Also of note is this year’s Grand Marshall. His name is Dan Gurney.

You can catch all of the competition along with Robert Nearn this weekend (January 26-27) on SPEED & Fox’s 17+ hours of live coverage…

The Nearn Factor

So, just who is Robert Nearn and why all of the fuss over him, eh? Well he’s an aspiring racer whom I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying his company over the past few years.

And Robert just doesn’t putt about the local race tracks; he’s a very accomplished driver who’s raced all of the major endurance events around the globe! Robert has primarily driven Porsche 911 RSR GT3’s in both the American Le Mans Series and Grand Am. He’s driven in the Rolex 24, 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Heurs du Man and Suzuka 1000K, etc. with stints aboard a Porsche GT1 and Saleen S7R.

Robert last competed regularly as a “Hired Gun” in 2006. Running the full ALMS season in GT2 Porsches, Beginning the year with TRG (The Racer’s Group) before switching to Synergy Racing for the remaining events; He ran a limited schedule in 2007 with the Pratt & Miller team in Grand Am.

Recently I learned that he’ll be aboard one of the Pratt & Miller’s GT Pontiac’s for this years Rolex 24 at Daytona. Robert will be part of a three driver line-up for car #06. Asking Robert how he thought he’d fair, his pre-race prognosis appears to be correct, with Robert reporting during practice; “We’re struggling a little at the moment, we're carrying more weight than the Porsches and Mazdas and it's killing us on the banking.”

Williams FW30

Williams rolled out its 2008 challenger, the FW30 amid little fan fare at Valencia, Spain last week during Formula 1 testing. The car was literally shrouded in fog, as the Grove based squad won’t be revealing their 2008 definative livery until Melbourne.

Williams tester Nico Hulkenberg spun the brand new chassis off track and lightly damaged the cars floor during shakedown testing, prior to Nico Rosberg taking over testing duties the following day…

F1 continues winter testing

Williams wasn’t the only team busy shaking down their new challenger, as Sir Frank’s squad shared the track with Honda and Renault’s 2008 debutants.

Honda brought its new RA108 to the Valencia test in plain white livery, devoid of any sponsorship, with “Rubinoe” (Rubens Barrichello) shaking down the new chassis.

Meanwhile Fredrico Swauve (Fernando Alonso) gave the Renault R28 its on track baptism, completing nearly forty laps of trouble free running on Day 1 of testing, to which Ferdi the Putz said all of the consilitory new car press speak; “I’m quite happy with the new car, it felt good, blah-blah-blah…”

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Flying Finns

Aha, “Betcha” thought this catchy title referred to another story about the “Ronster’s” (Ron Dennis) penchant for hiring Finnish drivers, “Ya, Sure, Yuh Betcha!” Which used to be part of Redhook Ales Ballard Bitter’s slogan, but I digress…

While most of us are either busy watchin’ all of the new paint dry in Day-toner testin’ or the upcoming Rolex 24 marathon. The BP Ford WRC Rally team has previously announced its new for 2008 driver line-up, with ex-WRC champion Marcus Gronholm having retired at the end of 2007.

The BP Ford team began its all Finnish driver line-up in 2006 with the addition of Mikko Hirvonen as Gronholm’s teammate. Now Hirvonen will be joined by another aspiring Finnish flyer, Jari-Matti Latvala.

Ford hopes that Hirvonen, who had a rough beginning in the World Rally Championship (2003) has matured into a challenger to defeat four time reigning WRC champion Sebastian Loeb. Hirvonen, won three WRC events enroute to finishing third overall in the 2007 challenge, helping Ford secure the Manufacturer’s crown.

And although you’ll be unlikely to see any of these amazing race cars on the “Tellie,” nevertheless the 2008 World Rally Championship season begins with the Monte Carlo Rally on January 25-27…

For a pre-season preview, see; 2008 WRC Preview

Hamilton’s New Deal

Although there were previous rumours over Formula 1’s newest sensation, “Louise Jaguar” Hamilton having done a new deal with McLaren, it has now been confirmed with Ron Dennis announcing that his protégé has indeed been inked thru the 2012 season.

Reports claim that the young Britain’s new five year deal is valued at $138 million, which makes his move to Switzerland even more enticing, due to their relaxed tax policy. As one British rag noted, if the figures are correct and Hamilton had continued living in “Jolly ‘Ol England.” He’d have been faced with a $55 milllion tax debt! And to think that Hamilton just celebrated his 23rd birthday at Stuttgart during the unveiling of the MP/4-23…

Captain Quebec rides again

Prior to Christmas, it was revealed that apparently Gerald Forsythe had attempted to throw Champ Car World Series “Super-star” Paul Tracy under the bus, as Mr. Chrome Horn received an email from Neil Mickelwright telling PT to either re-negotiate his current contract or face loosing his ride.

Fortunately cooler heads seem to have prevailed as Sand Dune Tracey flew to Chicago the day after Christmas to meet with Mr. Forsythe to clear the air, with Tracy’s position seemingly helped by making a few collect calls to someone by the name of Tony George…

Thus Forsythe and Tracy have agreed to continue on in Champ Car for (at least) 2008, which should greatly appease the various Canadian promoters, eh?

Forsythe Petitt Racing has vastly revamped its personnel, with Tom Brown coming on board as PT’s engineer at the end of last season. Forsythe has also hired Kenny Siwieck to manage Tracy’s team, as PT says it’s not exactly a secret that he and Mickelwright aren’t on the same page.

You may recall that Siwieck is that annoying voice they’ve played a zillion times telling “Mikey” (Michael Andretti) and the “Hamburgular” (Sebastian Bourdais) to hit there marks… Interestingly, Siwieck was an 18 year employee at Newman Haas Racing.

And I’m wondering if Tracy had any inkling of Tony Cotman’s decision to resign from Champ Car prior to settling this matter? As Tracy’s loyalty to Champ Car seems destined to become a footnote in the series impending demise…

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

24 Hours of Daytona

Now that the winter holidays have winded down, much activity has been happening in preparations for the upcoming Rolex 24 Hours endurance race, with teams putting the final touches on their respective driver/car combinations, as the Rolex 24 will kick off the 2008 racing season this weekend. And I was happy to hear that during the latest testing, Cristiano da Matta was one of the drivers walking about with helmet bag in hand, while searching for a potential ride…

In what has become a traditional All Star “warm-up” event, this year’s Rolex 24 will see a host of Open Wheel warriors from Champ Car, Indy Car and Formula 1 compete for overall honours in two classes.
DP: Daytona Prototype
GT: Grand Tourismo (Touring)

AIM Autosport
Andrew Ranger, an ex-Ice racing star whom briefly competed in Champ Car before seeking the security of a paying drive in CASCAR, will be part of the driving strength of the #61 Ford-Riley, along with rian Frisselle, Mark Wilkins and Colin Braun…

Long time Porsche endurance racing stalwarts Brumos will once again enter a brace of prototypes for this years Rolex 24, with the lead car #58 featuring Darren Law, David Donohue and Buddy Rice, while the sister car, #59 will once again have the venerable Hurley Haywood being partnered by JC France, Joao Barbosa and Terry Borcheller…

Champ Car drivers Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal will contest this year’s Rolex 24 for Michael Shank Racing.

The Champ Car duo will join MSR’s regular Grand Am drivers Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson aboard the No. 60 Ford Riley. Wilson will be making his third Grand Am start for MSR, having finished second at Daytona in 2006 with Negri, Patterson and AJ Almendinger.

Wilson has also contested the 24 Heurs du Mans in 2004, piloting a Racing for Holland Dome/Judd with Tom Coronel and Ralph Firman. You may recall that Firman finally got his break in Formula 1 driving for Jordan Grand Prix during one sorely disappointing season in 2003.

Meanwhile the Rahal youngster will be making his third consecutive Rolex 24 start, along with having driven previously in the American Le Mans Series aboard his father’s (Rahal Letterman Racing) Porsche GT3, finishing third in class at last years Petit Le Mans. Could the pairing of Rahal and Wilson be a sign of things to come in the 2008 Champ Car season?

Ryan Dalziel, who was sent unceremoniously packing from Pacific Coast Motorsports Champ Car team late last season, will once again contest this year’s Rolex 24 as part of SAMAX Motorsport’s two car entry.

The lead Pontiac-Riley (#2) features Henri Zogaib, Mike Rockenfeller, Allan McNish and Lucas Luhr, while Dalziel will be piloting the #11 Pontiac-Riley with Tomas Enge, Harold Primat, and Danny B’s favourite driver MilkaDuno…

The defending Grand Am champions have added two “Jimmy’s” to their driving line-up, as part of *Bob Stallings/Riley Matthews Racing) two car Pontiac-Riley effort. Car number 99 will see ex-CART Champion Jimmy Vasser joining defending Grand Am DP champions Alex Gurney & John Foggerty. Vasser makes up one half of the Jimmy duo. The other is some cat known as Johnson. Yeah, that’s right. Its two time RASSCAR champ-peon Jimmy Johnson…

Their second entry, the #91 will be shared by Jim Matthews, Marc Goossens, Johnny O'Connell and Ryan Hunter-Reay…

Roger Penske has formed a partnership with Wayne Taylor Racing for this year’s upcoming Rolex 24 and will enter a second Pontiac/Riley chassis for a Penske “All Star” driver line-up.

Piloting the #9 will be RASSCAR Champion Kurt Busch, “Dancing with FOOLS,” Two time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and latest Penske Indy car driver Ryan Briscoe, who spent the 2007 season as part of Penske’s dominant Porsche RS Spyder team…

While the “Target’s” firmly affixed to their back’s, Chip Ganassi will field a two car entry in his attempt to set Rolex 24 history by becoming the first ever team to win the race three consecutive years in a row.

With Scott Pruett returning to the No. 01 Lexus Riley, alongside Memo Rojas for the entire Grand Am season. The two drivers will be joined by RASSCAR drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti for the 24 hours of Daytona race. Indy Racing League drivers Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon will be joined by Salvador Duran and Indy car debutant Alex Lloyd aboard car No. 02…

Ah, if only Tony George could envision a unified Open Wheel racing series, but I digress… Once again Mr. George has decided to enter the Rolex 24 “Just-in-Time,” as he’s cobbled together a entry at the last minute, having forgone testing, just expecting to show up and complete the race. Recall that last year Mr. George managed to spin the car into the wall during practice…

George will be part of the driving line-up that includes his current IRL pilots Ed Carpenter & A.J. Foyt IV, with Vitor Meira (from Panther Racing) and RASSCAR “ringer” John Andretti. The team will drive the #03 Porsche-Crawford…

Synergy racing will have two Champ Car drivers occupying two Porsche 911 RSR GT3’s, with 2007 Rookie of the year “Bad Bobby D” (Robert Doornbos aboard one mount, while Jan “Van Hagar” Heylen, whom also got unkindly dumped from Champ Car by Conquest Racing last season will co-drive the other Porsche.

Meanwhile Long Beach Champ Car race promoter Jim Michaelian and son Bob will share a Mazda RX-8 entered by Racers Edge Motorsports. And Raphael Matos, the newly defected and 2007 Champ Car Atlantics champion plans to drive a Mazda RX-8, keep your eyes on the mirror Rafael!

Monday, January 21, 2008

F1 starts 2008 winter testing

Otay, I’ll try to not whip up the frenzy of the Winter Olympics too much, as one respected news source notes; “it is a little early to reach any startling conclusions about the season ahead.” Especially since not all of the teams have unveiled their 2008 challengers. Nevertheless, here’s a quick recap of the just concluded testing at Jerez. (Jan. 14-16) Suffice it to say, the “Usual Suspects,” i.e.; Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and BMW Sauber were all towards the top of the time sheets, while Honda didn’t take part in the test, along with a token appearance by its little sister Super Aguri…

The Prancing Horse showed up with two of its new F2008 models for defending World Champion Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. The Iceman was quickest on Day 1, albeit the running was hampered by inclement weather…

BMW Sauber
The team got down to testing with the new F1.08, with the honours of the chassis’s maiden drive going to Robert Kubica in Valencia, Spain, where Kubica said everything felt good on the new cars installation laps.

“Quick Nick” Heidfeld had given a few demonstration laps at BMW Welt, the companies futuristic looking delivery center, before running an F1.07 on Tuesday. Heidfeld tested the new F1.08 on Thursday…

Although Fernando Alonso topped the time sheets on Day 2 of testing at Jerez, Alonso along with Nelson Piquet Jr. were running last year’s R27 chassis…

Williams showed up at the test with an interim FW29B for team leader Nico Rosberg, who claimed the fourth quickest time on Day 2 testing, while new boy Kazuki Nakajima was barely ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella’s interim Force India chassis…

Toyota had a mixed bag at testing, with a TF107 and TF108 on hand. Jarno Trulli gave the new TF108 its shakedown test, while Timo Glock slithered off track aboard last year’s TF107. Glock then recorded the third day’s fastest time aboard the TF108…

Red Bull
The team began testing with last year’s RB3 chassis, before F1’s “Grey beard” David Coulthard debuted the RB4 on Wednesday. The team has basically run mid-pack during this first test session…

Scuderia Toro Rosso
Running a brace of updated Toro Rosso STR-02’s; Team Sebastian looked competent in testing with both cars running in lock-step behind the quicker Renault, Ferrari, McLaren and Williams…

Super Aguri
Super Best Friends sent test driver James Rossiter to Jerez to run an SA07 on Day 1, but was hampered by the tracks inclement weather. Anthony “ANT” Davidson had a miserable time on Day 3, able to only run 10 laps due to overheating problems, along with the team’s replacement parts being unable to arrive in time for testing. First the aeroplane delivering these was diverted and then the road was closed as a team member tried to retrieve them…

Force India
Somehow in the midst of all of the “Big” car launches, Force India’s unveiling of its interim chassis in new team livery went largely unnoticed, although there is a “launch” webcast available on Youtube. The team began with Luzzi driving in the rain, while Fishy-fella has since taken over the testing duties, running towards the tail end of the grid…

McLaren showed up with two new MP/4-23’s and the new chassis didn’t disappoint, as tester Pedro de la Rosa finished second behind Ferdi the Putz on Day 2, while new recruit Heikki Kovalainen ran up front…

Red Bull RB4

Eschewing the glitzy launch furor of the larger Formula 1 Constructors, Red Bull Racing simply rolled out their newest challenger, the RB4 at the just completed testing in Jerez, with Formula 1's elder stateman DC behind the wheel...

BMW Sauber F1.08

Finalizing the triumberant of Formula 1 launches in “Der Fatherland,” BMW Sauber debuted its 2008 challenger, the F1.08 at the companies new Delivery Centre in Munich.

BMW claims to have made a radical evolution with the new ’08 chassis and is targeting its first Grand Prix victory this season…

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Champ Car Flames Out

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire

I Went Down, Down, DownAnd The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire

The Ring Of Fire…

(Johnny Cash; The Ring of Fire)

Why does the picture above make me flash back to that cheesy “Bud-Light” commercial of several years ago when they light the miniature hoop on fire for the little poodles to jump thru and the voice sez; “It’s Showtime” as they start the whole thing over again…

And what in the HELL is going on with Champ Car… As I’ve just read Robin Miller’s glowing assessment of the DOOFUSES in charge ‘O Chump Carzs, who’ve brilliantly let Tony Cotman; Executive vice president and race director Resign. As Miller notes;

It’s Titanic time for Champ Car!”

Apparently, many inside the paddock had expected Cotman to fail in his new post as the four “Mooseketeers” were unwilling to let him run the show productively. As Miller notes;

”But he (Cotman) still couldn't overcome the fact his series is run by a couple rich guys who really don't understand television, marketing, driver continuity, people and the nuts and bolts of auto racing.Kalkhoven and Forsythe didn't become wealthy running their businesses like they do Champ Car and why they continue to let Gentilozzi influence their decisions is a mystery to anyone with a brain.

This announcement, which was made on a Friday, when nobody reads the news comes at a time when Champ Car has only three signed drivers for the 2008 season, along with a pathetic car count.

On top of Cotman’s resignation, reigning Champ Car Atlantic’s champion Rafael Matos has forgone his $2 million check for winning last year’s title in favour of signing a multi-year contract with Andretti Green Racing, where Matos will contest the Indy Pro Series next season.

And adding insult to injury, Dan “Speedy Dry” Clarke, who drove for Team Minardi USA in Champ Car last season is now pursuing the second Panther Racing seat in the IRL…

And I never thought I’d say this, but I hope Cotman’ gets hired by Tony George and becomes their new Chief Steward.

Turn out the lights, the party’s over as I think I hear the Fat Lady warming up her vocal chords… SHEISA!!! Perhaps Robosoarus will come visit Champ Cars headquarters in Indiana, eh?

Friday, January 18, 2008

It’s Alive!

There are reports coming out of Scottsdale, Arizona, that the Barrett-Jackson tent has gone up in flames… Apparently while the most outrageous piece ‘O iron was strutting towards the block…

Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Its name is Robosaurus and it’s a mere forty feet tall and is known as the king of all Transformers. Apparently it runs on a steady diet of Lincoln’s, Cadillac’s and Subaru’s too…

Yet, apparently when demonstrating its fire breathing abilities it caught one of the numerous dizzying chandelier disco balls on fire, which in turn set the big top’s roof ablaze…

Yet, the Scottsdale darkness was broken by the shooting star (afterburner) of Batmobile 1 that Craig Jackson & Steve Davis were spotted speeding to the Wells Fargo Bank across town in. As “Bat One” blew past Sherriff Joe in his Sherman tank while being clocked at 133mph on Scottsdale Boulevard…

Fast Cars

Once again its time for that meddlesome portion of SPEED TV broadcasting, otherwise known as the Barrett-Jackson “LUV-Fest!” You know when SPEED devotes about 40 hours of programming showcasing the Rich ‘N Famous overindulging in the purchasing of “rarefied automobiles.

Apparently the over hyping of countless numbers ‘O Detroit iron led me to NOT watch last year’s Barrett-Jackson money-thon. Then again perhaps this will be a nice break from PINKS ‘N Unique Whipes… Yet, I did indeed manage to catch snippets of three particular past auctions below and I suppose I’ll drop in to see how crazy the SUCKERS are getting drawn in. (Must be nice to have so much $pare change, eh?)

Barrett-Jackson (Part 1)
Towards the end of March, 2006 by shear luck I tuned into SPEED’S Barrett Jackson Palm Beach auction. “Just-in-Time” to see some ‘ole wily codger extricating his lanky frame from the confines of a Ford GT he’d just driven up onto the block… Yup, it was none other then 83 year old Texan Carroll Shelby.

Ford had donated chassis #003 to be auctioned off to benefit Shelby’s Children’s charity. Carroll dribbled some ‘O Snake Oil to try and invigorate the potential bidders… Let the games begin…
The bid for this pristine 2005 Ford GT quickly vaulted to $200,000, where it began to simmer.

“Spanky,” the chief auctioneer had ‘Shel speak a little more, and if you buy the car you’ll even get an autographed book signed by the entire Ford GT team, Shelby noted. Bidding then continued and the price quickly zoomed up to $400k, where the price stalled again.

Another break to wind-up the price occurred as Spanky said; I’ll give you the hat off ‘Shel’s head, plus you’ll be guaranteed the rights to buy 1 of the first 50 GT 500’s. The bidding continued and then stalled again, with Spanky stopping the bidding once again. This caused audible groaning from the pit workers and remaining bidders. Yet, Spanky further “stroked” the audience by saying; “I’ll give you the shirt off ‘ole “Shel’s back!” Bang, a bidder’s hand went up as the price climbed past $475k, before Shelby ceremoniously dropped the hammer: SOLD-SOLD-SOLD! For a whopping $575,000! (+ 8% Auction commission)

Trying not to be outdone, next onto the block… Pete Brock emerged from a Superformance Daytona Sebring tribute Coupe. The car was a “one-off” special to be listed in the Shelby registry, rekindling the scheme of the Daytona’s first win at Sebring… The car quickly vaulted to $150k. Brock then threw in an autographed poster signed by him and Shelby. The Daytona sold for a cool $250,000…

R & M Auction
In early June, 2006 while surfing the late night TV shows, I ran across an interesting Auction airing on TLC. The R & M auction from Monterey, CA billed as “The Million Dollar Auction.” Although I missed the beginning portion of the show-where a Ferrari California Special was the first million + vehicle crossing the block and I think it went for $1.9 Million?

Yet, the car that caught my initial attention was a medium blue with twin white stripes mid engine super car… This turned out to be the prototype Ford GT 40! Although the Lola derived Mark I chassis originally debuted in solid white with flat black nose. (GT101)

The car looked absolutely stunning in its Viking blue paint scheme. The bidding was unbelievable… As the car went to the Shelby American museum in Colorado for a cool $2.275 million…

Another interesting car was the Dragon-snake Cobra. The ’64 Cobra was campaigned as a “Privateer.” Legend has it that the owner hid the Dragon-snake in his basement, completely enclosing the car along with extra parts behind a brick wall... The car remained hidden for 15 yr’s before being “un-earthed.” The Dragon-snake (CSX 2161?) sold for $410,000…

Another interesting find was another white 289 Cobra. Affectionately known as “The Cobra in the Barn.” (Of which I’ve just purchased the book)
It was a lucky “find” in a Barn after 30 year’s of storage. The book’s author’s restored the car and it sold for $345,000…

Barrett-Jackson (Part 2)
“Fifty seven channels and NOTHING ON!”

(Nope, not Bruce Hornsby, the other Bruce… Springsteen) Once again while scouring the endless channels ‘O TV spam… I settled upon a rebroadcast of a Barrett Jackson Palm Beach auction…

What I found hard to follow was the amount ‘O “moohlah” being spent upon “replicas.” For some reason the “Eleanor” re-incarnations seemed to be extremely popular.

I watched two of these creations cross the auction block. The first up was a nice black ’67 Eleanor Mustang with NOS, fuel cell, 351 Winsor “crate” motor, (430bhp) selling for $93,000.

The second ’67 Mustang seemed even more “suspicious,” claiming to have Shelby plates attached-including ‘Shel’s signature. This car sold for $102,000…

Call me crazy, but I’d rather spend the money on a REAL Ferrari, eh?

Barrett-Jackson (2008)
And I have to say I’m NOT impressed with the number of “Muskle” cars crossing the block at this year’s Barrett-Jackson “GRAB-ATHON,” as the promoter tries hyping the crap outta the vehicle as the “Real Deal!” When the original motor most likely has been blown up since it’s got a different “Lump” in it, and yet people are paying extreme money to have the non-original chassis. Yet Barrett-Jackson has neatly covered itself by making the consigner responsible for noting the vehicle’s authenticity…

So it was funny watching a 1980 Hummer go across the block Wednesday night. Only problem with this, as the SPEED commentator caught on when they were looking over the motor, was that Hummer’s weren’t produced until 1985!

Yet, I’d have to say so far my best buy pick goes to the astute collector who paid $42,000 for a 2006 Hertz Shelby GT500, as it was car No. 8. This is the first year of ‘Ol Shel’s reincarnation of the original Hertz “Rent-a-Racer.” Of course realize that all sale prices don’t include the 8% Seller’s commission fee as well as the 10% Buyer’s commission fee that Barrett-Jackson collects for this mass hysteria! (With a 12% Buyer’s commission fee for telephone/internets sales)

Yet I simply do NOT understand the nature of the Bidder’s frenzy, as this auction appears to be more of eBay phenomena than true Connoisseur’s of collecting. Who most likely are attending the other various auctions taking place in the Valley of the Sun.

Thursday action saw some strange bidding occur, as a souped-up Land Cruiser CUSTOM with non-original 350cid Chevrolet V-8 complete with blower assembly went for MORE than a extremely RARE 1969 Ford Talladega, which was a real original car with the only option available… Wimbledon white paint. Ford homologated these street cars with a production run of 745 units in order to obliterate its RASSCAR rivals in 1969.

Yet, the Land Cruiser fetched $57,000, while the Talladega snuck away for $41K! Meanwhile I watched a 1969 Shelby GT350 sell for $70,000, while a Chevrolet Nomad commanded a stout $97,000 from its new owner. Another Blue Oval product, a 1971 Mustang Mach 1, 428 SCJ/4 speed garnered a hammer price of $70,000. And this is before we even get to the weekend’s “Heavy Hitters…”

And think Barmen ‘N Bailey has a “Big Top” circus event? The Barrett-Jackson tent has to be “Juan ‘O” the world’s largest, as it stretches 1,800’ long and peaks at 90’ high with a square footage of 350,000’, which is large enough to park a 747 underneath, as well as hold 10,000 warm bodies…

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Willie O’Ree

With the nefarious “Wedge” issue of Race being thrown about by the disgusting corporate megatropolis masquerading as the U.S. Media, I found the following article most interesting

As I was scouring the news wires for topics to scribble about, I accidentally ran across the story of Willie O’Ree, whom was once called the Jacky Robinson of Hockey, as O’Ree was the very first African American to play in a professional Hockey game in 1958.

Yet the amazing part of the story is that O’Ree played at all, since he’d lost his vision in his right eye!

“On Jan. 18, 1958, two years after a deflected puck destroyed his right retina, O'Ree became the league's first black player when he entered a game for the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadians at Montreal.”

Yet O’Ree kept this devastating injury a secret during his entire playing career, in order to reach his goal of becoming a professional Hockey player. O’Ree played 45 games for the Boston Bruins and in all of his 21 years of playing; fortunately didn’t have to undergo an eye examination.

O’Ree, who played hockey until the age of 45, is still involved in the sport today, at the age of 72 as the NHL's Director of Diversity programming and will be honoured this weekend when the Boston Bruins face off against the New York Rangers, along with further accolades during the NHL All Star weekend in Atlanta…

Low Vision Racer

Upon my return from Japan, while having a discussion with Mary Ellen, I told her about a comment that I’d received while on holiday. This comment was in regards to my Suzuka, 2004 story.

Comment:I couldn't understand some parts of this article, but it sounds interesting...

And I’m still not sure which part of the story was confusing? As I’m wondering if it had to do with writing about my friend’s; The Bumps or the UFO discussion?; (“Phone Home, ET!”)

Then she asked if my various readers knew why some of the stories I wrote were “special?” Like why traveling to Mecca for my Indy Experience 2X Seater ride was so important? (See; Brickyard Flyer)

Do your readers know about your Vision disability? No, I replied to her. Are you gonna tell ‘em?

And without blathering on about this too much, I guess I should let y’all know that I have RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) which means I have really CRAPY vision! (Hence the white cane I typically refrain from posing with.)

While in Japan in 2004, Albin explained to me what the bumps in the sidewalks of most major Japanese cities are for. As there’s usually a foot wide strip of raised bumps in the middle of the sidewalk for visually impaired persons to walk on and navigate their way about the city.

These bumps can be found in a variety of places, i.e.; Airports, Subway tunnels, Train Stations, etc. And they’re definitely helpful, especially at night. And they’re painted in a variety of colours, typically either red or yellow.

Yet there’s one large drawback to them. They seem to usually have something parked on top of them, like bicycles! And a lot of Japanese people seem to not be expecting anyone visually impaired to be utilizing them… As my biggest amusement in Japan was when Albin, Tanja & I went to the Atom Bomb museum in Nagasaki this past October.

Disembarking the Tram and walking towards the museum, an entire class of schoolchildren had been lined up on the yellow bumps of the platform… And they just simply began singing merrily as I approached…

For another related story see; Eye Rock 500

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Scottish spunk

This morning I received a story from Indiana Bureau Chief Danny B. Talk about starting your day off with a bang… As apparently Dario “REO Speedwagon” Franchitti did his best Mel Gibson Brave heart impersonation… As the feisty Scot took off after a would be admirer in his boxers…

Let’s see, Indy Car has Helio “Dancin’ Fool” Castroneves and RASSCAR counters with Brave heart Dario. Talk ‘bout trying to get sagging ratings back up, eh?

To read the full story, see; Dario Franchitti Fights Crime without Pants

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Viper ride

Although my ride aboard a Dodge Viper roadster, circa 2002 wasn’t nearly as dramatic as either Cindy Lutz’s: Bob Lutz’s daughter?) Drive aboard her Viper GTS-R or my Sinden 2X Seater ride around the Brickyard… Nevertheless, it’s not everyday you get to strap yourself into the confines of a Dodge Viper cockpit, eh?

And it was pretty funny how my ride came about as some “Serious Horse trading” went on in order to secure my ride aboard the vaunted Snake-mobile. You see, nearly a year had passed since we’d tried getting the ride in Minnesota, but inclement weather put the kibosh on the first attempt.

Calling up our gracious Viper owner the Friday evening prior to the big event, all systems were go for the following day. Yet in order to obtain my ride, Jefford had to agree to go “Kay-ackin’” with Viper pilot “Parker,” (No, not Parker Stevenson) this was Jeffery “White Shoes” Parker…

For the day in question, I noted that it was also the final day of a three day performance of the Seattle Symphony performing Carmina Barona at Benaroya Hall as well as Mike Malloy at Town Hall in Seattle. Yet, Viper rides trump all!

Arriving at Parker’s house Saturday afternoon, on a perfect mid-summer’s day, we were greeted to a pristine black Dodge Viper parked in the front driveway… SHEISA! What a FRILLING AWESOME Automobile…

Yet, as we admired the beautiful car, “Neighbor Jim” arrived with his 5yr old son Nicholas, who’d seen the car outside. So, we hung out a bit looking over all of Parker’s various toys, like the one of a kind Kubota Scooter he’s fabricated. As apparently Parker’s house is the block’s magnet for “Car Guys” to hang out and “Talk Smart.”

Then it was time to go, with Parker warming up the beast, warning me to watch my legs getting in and out of the monster, since Viper roadsters are notorious for the extremely hot exhaust pipes running down the length of the door sills!

The first thing that struck me, was how well built the car was, with a totalitarian type of build, no gaudy ornaments, nick-knacks, cup holders or do-dads, i.e.; spoilers, side skirts or gaudy hood decal motifs… No, just plain and simple leather bucket seats, clean dash and center console, normal seat belts and what I found to be superb fit ‘N finish for a Chrysler.

Even more amazing was the vacuum cleaner whoosh of an engine that was barely audible. Which is amazing given the girth of the massive 8.0 liter V-10 lump that propels the monster, as I noted that the only thing I could compare it to was the Audi R10 TDI’s for level of quietness!

And the truly amazing thing about this Viper roadster was that it was completely “Bone Stock,” with only a mere 450bhp on tap, stump pulling torque being transmitted to the pavement via a six speed manual transmission and 3.07:1 gearing.

Of course we had to drive with the top off, yet I was still amazed how quiet it was inside the cockpit while just cruising around town, as the Viper will simply lumber along all day long, hardly breaking a sweat until so commanded. As I asked Parker what we were pulling? Oh it’s stumbling along at 1,400RPM’s in 6th
Gear at 60mph.

Parker noted that the one flaw about driving the beast was that the humongous tires will hunt for any imperfection in the roads surface, yet this car has truly remarkable road hugging capabilities, as I was compressed into the back of the seat while we slalomed around a few of the various cloverleaf highway interchanges. As I noted that it was a strange sensation during our second cloverleaf, where I was being pushed backwards and sideways while listening to the tires squealing in protest!

I’m told that a fellow Minnesotan’s Ferrari 348 will actually out corner the Viper, yet obviously cannot keep up with it during straightaway acceleration tests…

Parker had wanted to romp on it for me earlier, but we’d been cut off by a yeh-hoo who’d almost missed the exit while gawking at the black beauty. And of course, venturing out onto the freeways during a Saturday afternoon isn’t ideal for high speed “Autobahn” runs as we were basically hemmed in whichever way we turned.

Yet we did manage one quick blast along one of the 10,000 bridges in Minnesota, as Parker launched the Snake, with the force of raw acceleration pinning me firmly rearwards into my seat.

Hurtling forwards up to fifth gear as the wind noise became obtrusive; I just sat giddily laughing, as all I saw out of the corner of my eye was a kaleidoscope of colours… “Vump- Vump- Vump- Vump- Vump!” As we blasted past a caravan of at least seven cars, all I saw were blobs of colour; blue, orange, green, red, white, etc. SHEISA!!! Those were cars that truly looked like telephone polls standing still! As my laughter bellowed, I was just recognizing what we’d done as Parker was already being forced to whoa the serpent back down to the “legal” speed limit as we’d caught up to traffic way to fast…

As Commander Cody sez;
Son, you’re gonna drive me to drinking, if you don’t stop driving that “Hot Rod” Lincoln!

Parker asked me to guess how fast we’d gone? Oh, I don’t know, at least 100? Well actually I’d just touched 125-130mph in 5th gear when I had to back off…

Then we exited the freeway and sedately drove back to the “Toy House,” in what had been a way too short ride! As it was time to put the beast away before getting into any trouble with “Minnesota’s Finest.”

Standing in the driveway with a goofy grin on my face, Jefford asked, “How was it?” (UH-DUH!!!) After remarking about how well the car sticks to the road, Jefford said, have you ever felt how big the rear tires are? With ridiculously oversized meats on all four corners, (335/xx 18 rears & 275/xx 18 fronts) as, I tried reaching my hand across the back tire after our most excellent outing and started laughing again as my arm soon disappeared underneath the rear fender…

All I can say is talk about your BAD ASSES! The Viper is just “Juan” mean ‘ol Nasty FUCKING AWESOME piece of machinery… As I duly noted that I WANT ONE!!!

(Apparently with Serbis Capital’s takeover of Chrysler fromDaimler-Benz, things aren’t going quite as good with reports of it being, “A year for Chrysler to forget.” Which apparently has impacted the hoped for debut of a factory backed onslaught of Vipers in the ALMS.)

Kubota power

Yes, it’s NOT a name I’m familiar with either. Yet when I was in Minnesota this past July, while awaiting my very first ride aboard a Dodge Viper roadster, (fortunately I didn’t use the bathroom at the airport and run into Larry Craig!) as noted; I checked out some of the “Toy’s” in the owner’s garage, like a Honda CB50 “Mini-scooter” with a CBR500 engine stuffed into the frame as well as a truly unique contraption. A one of a kind built from scratch knee dragger motorcycle.

Yet the amazing thing about this Scooter is that it’s powered by a Kubota diesel tractor motor, hydraulically actuated. Which is no small feat of engineering, since the bike has neither chain nor shaft drive propelling the massive rear wheel, hung on a single sidearm!

I’m told it’s quite the head turner when Mr. Parker makes the rounds at Sturgis…

Monday, January 14, 2008

Williams turns 30

Williams Grand Prix Engineering began celebrating its 30th season in Formula 1 racing today. The team will run a montage of six different liveries during pre-season testing to honour this accomplishment. The team will also contest its 500th Grand Prix this year at Monaco, while Sir Frank Williams will record his 600th entry this season. Williams himself has been in the F1 “Biz” for nearly four decades, as his 39 years will eclipse the record of the late Enzo Ferrari. (1950-88)

Its pretty amazing that Sir Frank has persevered this long in the pinnacle of motor racing, as the only two other entrants I can think of with such enduring runs in Grand Prix are Ferrari and McLaren, although I suppose Renault would argue that they deserve consideration. As you may recall, Renault launched its revolutionary 1.5 liter V-6 turbocharged RS01 chassis in 1977 and raced as a Constructor until 1985. Renault then tasted success as an engine supplier to Williams and Benetton in the 1990’s. Renault bought out the Benetton team in 2001 and returned as a F1 Constructor in 2002…

Adam Andretti

For those of you desperate for any and all motorsports news relating to Open Wheel racing like your chief hack… Then you may wish to tune-in to Autosport Radio this Tuesday night, (4PM Pacific/7PM Eastern) as “Master of Ceremonies, ” Mr. Donald Kay will have Adam Andretti as “Juan ‘O” his guests.

Adam is the son of Aldo Andretti, Mario’s older brother and John Andretti is his older brother, with Michael & Jeff being his cousins. The 28 year old Brownsburg, Indiana native has just signed a contract with the newly formed FuZion AutosportIndy Pro Series (ISP) team and will contest the entire 2008 season.

Adam is a Skip Barber graduate and started his racing career in the half scale mini stock cars series with the help of brother John, before racing shifter karts in the SKUSA series for two years. Next he raced in Formula 3 along with a drive in the Rolex 24 before changing gears and joining the RASSCAR Featherlite southwest series from 2001-02. He’s also driven a Corvette at Sebring in the SPEED Cup Challenge as well as being a driving instructor for “Road ‘N AD”(Road & Track) as well as the Richard Petty Driving Experience before making his ISP debut at Chicagoland in 2007.

Joining Adam as a guest on this program will be Mike Hull, who’s become the “Cheepster’s” (Chip Ganassi) right-hand man. Mike is in charge of engineering for Target Chip Ganassi Racing and has been a vital cog at TCGR since 1992…

Freak nation

So, I managed to tune into another episode of Speed Freaks via the internets Sunday night. And it was a fairly entertaining show, albeit the over indulgence of commercials.

They were missing one of the crew, (Lug nuts) which was actually nice as the “Stat-man” and Crash Gladys got to talk much more. They began the evening by discussing the Chilly bowl in Tulsa, which they talked-up the hell outta it! Then they went to their first guest, Damien “The Devil” Gardner, who was this year’s winner. He seemed quite low key and it was refreshing to hear him say he’d be happy to drive anything, i.e.; Indy Car or RASSCAR; he just wanted to keep honing his trade as a Sprint Car driver…

The next guest was Graham Rahal, who’d just finished doing demonstration runs aboard a BMW Sauber F1 chassis at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. I got a little ticked as “Stat-man” didn’t have a clue towards what they called Champ Car when Graham’s father raced in it, nor how many championships he’d won, finally settling on two… As I bellowed out it was CART and he won three titles!

Graham, who at the tender age of 19 was also quite refreshing, saying that you needed to be able to drive anything, Especially since Champ Car isn’t real secure right now, when he was asked about if he enjoyed also driving Sports Cars? Graham noted how the TRUE Legends like Mario Andretti & Dan Gurney not only drove anything with wheels, they kicked butt!

Stat-man asked him if it was true that he enjoyed selling cars. Yes, I get a certain satisfaction out of selling cars at my Dad’s dealerships. Ohm, I don’t think I exactly wanna go to dinner with a used car salesman, Stat-man replied. No, you’ll get a friendly deal, just give me a call, replied Graham…

Then after an oddity section of various “Entertainment Tonight” news, they delved into Dancin’ with the Fools, talking about who Helio had recommended for a future show. Gladys said it was none other than the “Princess,” (Danica) to which Stat-man said she’s too short and her legs aren’t long enough…

Gladys noted how they do real ballroom dancing and that Princess thinks she’d be considered too serious for the show, to which Stat-man chimed in; She’s got the STOMP down real good. Then Kenny Sergeant said do you know we’ve just spent 10 minutes talking about Dancing with the Stars…

Next up was a conversation with Mike Peterson in regards to the cancellation of this year’s Dakar, to which I found a bit annoying hearing Kenny pronounce as Dack-kar. Mike is part owner of Peterson/White Lightning, which has won the 24 Heurs du Man,
Baja 500 & 1000, 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans.

Peterson was fairly succinct in his opinions towards the Dakar organizers, saying he just couldn’t understand why they did NOT have a “Plan B.” As he’d spent two years and countless man hours preparing a brand new buggy for the race, which all went up in smoke in a five minute meeting called to announce the cancellation. And the amounts of money lost are staggering, although Peterson wouldn’t give exact figures; I believe that Robby “Dirtman” Gordoun said the entry fee alone was $360,000! Peterson said he’ll try to possibly compete in some other rallies since his equipment is already over there…

Last, but not least was James “Don’t call me Bubbah” Stewart, who’d just won the Phoenix round of the AMA Superbike championship. James is all of 22yrs old and is a very entertaining interviewee…

Friday, January 11, 2008

FIA unveils 2008 F1 Entry list

So I’d previously posted my thoughts towards what the 2008 Formula 1 Grid would look like in F1 Guess Guesser. And you didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that Fernando Alonso would not be retained at McLaren for 2008.

With Renault’s anticipated signing of “Ferdi the Putz,” the “Ronster” immediately snapped up the discarded Heikki Kovalainen, while Williams signed “Toyota-Boy” Kazuki Nakajima largely due to his bringing a free supply of Toyota “Lumps.”

This left just Super Aguri and Force India to announce their driver line-ups, with “Super Best Friends” retaining its 2007 duo. Meanwhile, although Force India has finally announced their second driver, it wasn’t a very well kept secret that the nod would go to Giancarlo Fisichella. I’m assuming that Force India is hoping that some of Fishy-fella’s experience can rub off on sophomore Adrian Sutil…

Toyota TF108

While the top brass in Tokyo are applying pressure to their Colone brethren, Toyota was also busy unveiling this year’s Formula 1 challenger, the TF108, with all of the customary sound bites about making a large step forward, desiring to score race wins and ultimately garner World Championships. “Oh, what a feeling!”

Novel Idea

So how just does “Juan” go about motivating its employees? If you’re the Japanese giant, a.k.a. Toyota, the world’s Number One automobile manufacturer, it’s simple. You give your charges a mandate. (Ship out or Shape Up!) Which is exactly what the companies mucky-mucks in Tokyo have done to the companies Colone based Formula 1 squad, telling Team Principal Tadashi Yamashina He’s got until 2010 to turn around the fortunes of the struggling F1 team…


Yu Zhifei, the former General Manager of the Shanghai International Circuit has been incarcerated for four years after being caught embezzling $144,000 in order to buy a house. His sentence was reduced as he made a deal upon pleading guilty.

Yu Zhifei, is just one of many city officials currently being investigated for the misuse of Shanghai pension funds, with the city’s top official having been expelled from the Communist Party's powerful Politburo, while awaiting trial…

May the Force be with you

For those of you potentially pondering why there are so few stories currently in the Force India F1 category of the F1 Team Links section, this is due to the fact that the team was sold and re-branded at the end of the 2007 season.

Of course the team has gone thru a litany of owners the past few seasons since being sold by Eddie Jordan. EJ sold Jordan Grand Prix in the winter of 2004 to Alex Shnaider.

The team continued under the Jordan Grand Prix banner for one final season in 2005, becoming the (Midland) MF1 Racing team in 2006, before being re-sold at the end of 2006 and becoming known as Spyker F1. Yet with the help of some creative accounting exploits by the Spyker car concern, the team was once again sold off to Indian Tycoon Vijay Malia and the Dutch Mol family. Hopefully the team will now stabilize for the foreseeable future with the advent of the upcoming inaugural Indian Grand Prix.

To read further stories about Force India, see: Spyker Sold and then click on the Spyker F1 label at the bottom of the post.

The (NOT SO) Magnificent Seven

Prior to the just completed Holidazes… Force India, one of the two remaining Formula 1 teams to finalize their 2008 Driver line-ups was holding a shoot-out in Jerez, Spain.

Taking part in this Jack Roush “Gong Show” style runoff were a cadre of F1 pilots currently out of work: Giancarlo Fisichella, Christian Klien, Viantonnio Luzzi, Frank Montagny and Ralf Schumacher. This quintuplet of ex-Formula 1 racers were joined by the team’s test drivers Roldan Rodriguez and Giedo van der Garde during a four day test.

Previous speculation suggested that the two drivers fighting for the second seat were “Fishy-Fella” and Luzzi, with Italian newspapers suggesting that Fisichella had been given the nod. Yet, it would seem wiser to take the younger and hence hungrier Luzzi, as Fishy-Fella is a bit long in the tooth by F1 standards…

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Previous cancellations

While I’m still bummed over this year’s cancellation of the Dakar Rally, I’m certainly NOT as “PEEVED OFF” as Robby “Dirtmann” Gourdoun is…

As the headline reads; “Gordon angered over cancellation,” to which he has every right to be, especially after having spent $4.5 million and six months preparing for this years contest. And the always brash, outspoken Gordoun did not disappoint us, with his comments towards LA.

“Let's put this in perspective: I'm pretty sure in L.A. we kill 11 a night on the streets — stabbed, shot, beat up, murdered."

(So, I guess its only fitting that the radio is blaring’ out that ‘80’s hit “NOBODY Walks in LA!” while I’m scribbling this story.)

Meanwhile, while reading an old Formula 1 book in-between testing blasts of the buildings fire alarm system. (SHEISA!!! Nice way to jump start your morning, eh?) I just discovered that the 1976 Argentine Grand Prix was cancelled due to Political unrest…

A little further digging revealed that the 1930 and 1933 German Grand Prix’s scheduled for the Nurburgring were cancelled due to Germany’s economic plight, while the 1949 Monaco Grand Prix was cancelled due to Prince Louis II’s death.

The Belgian GrandPrix was held hostage by Emperor Bernardo, when the country instituted its Tobacco advertising ban prior to the European Union’s deadline and subsequently lost their 2003 event. Returning to the calendar in 2004, a further two races were held at the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit before the event was cancelled for 2006 due to the circuit being deemed to not meet FIA safety standards, as construction work would not be finished in time to host that year’s event. Fortunately the race returned in 2007.

The next victim to fall foul of Ecclestone’s hatchet was the San Marino Grand Prix which quietly disappeared from the 2007 F1 calendar upon being excluded the previous August. Sadly, the San Marino Grand Prix will most likely be remembered for Black Sunday, the weekend that Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna perished at the IMola circuit in 1994.

Also, it’s interesting how the post two race nations Italy and Germany have lost events, along with Japan now swapping venues while Spain and the Middle East have each added events. And then there’s the United States Grand Prix, but I digress…

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Its “Showtime!”

The pre-season festivities of the upcoming Formula 1 season began with the launching of Ferrari’s 2008 challenger at Fiorano. Interestingly the press release noted the chassis’s increased weight due to the rules changes imposed for 2008, which center around the new standard electronic control unit. (SECU)

This SECU is mandatory for all teams in 2008 and is the product of McLaren Electronic Systems (MES) and is the heart of the FIA’s reduction of electronic “Driver Aids.”

“These changes to the technical and sporting regulations in terms of electronics, alongside the introduction of the SECU, have led to the removal of a host of driver aids, such as traction control and engine breaking and the electronically assisted starting system, and also mean that management of the differential, engine and gearchange are much simpler.

Other new technical regulation changes for 2008 are: “Gearbox, which must be used for four consecutive events; Safety, with the introduction of higher side protection around the driver's helmet and Materials, with a limit to the type of composites that can be used.”

Thus not only have these myriad of changes caused many teething problems while switching over to the SECU, but chassis weight has increased, although the various team engineers have been working flat out to recouperate these performance losses.

Not surprisingly, Ferrari as well as all other top teams have decided to NOT unveil their true 2008 bodywork, as the nefarious business of “Spy vs. Spy” sees teams loathe to reveal the shape of countless hours spent in the wind tunnels to the opposition. Therefore look for all major teams to sport totally “tweaked” bodywork in Melbourne. As McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh noted at the McLaren launch; “There’s only 68 working days left ‘til Australia.” (OOPS! Now there’s only 67!)

Ferrari F2008

Continuing to lead the pack, Ferrari kicked off this year’s Formula 1 launches with the unveiling of the F2008 at Fiorano, Italy on January 6th. Ferrari’s new challenger is a re-designed version of its 2007 champion due to the dually imposed technical regulation changes which effect all of the F1 Constructors.

And wouldn’t you know it? While Kimi Raikkonen was busy shaking down the new F2008, Jean Todt was busy stirring the pot by claiming the new spec SECU developed by its rival McLaren, favours the Woking based team…

McLaren MP4-23

In the wake of its long running punishment over Stepney Gate, McLaren had originally intended to not host a glitzy car launch this season. Yet its major sponsors; nee Mercedes Benz wanted to do so and hence the launching of their newest challenger, the MP4-23 was hosted at the German automaker’s museum in Stuttgart, Germany. Like Ferrari, McLaren won’t debut their definitive “Melbourne-spec” bodywork until “Just-in-Time” for the race Down Under…

Monday, January 7, 2008

NOT so Green

What in the HELL is wrong with our BLEEPING Government in Washington DC. Oh Never Mind!!!

But the Sheis-kamfs at the EPA just struck down California’s request for its annual emissions waiver; you know the one that restricts the amounts of those nasty, nauseous, toxic fumes exiting tailpipes…

And I’m quite aware of the irony of going “Green;” Fuel economy vs. Motorsports, yet I fail to understand why there cannot be a balance of responsible, positive changes towards a cleaner environment.

Just note how almost all major racing series are turning “Green” with some sort of initiatives towards this global concern. To date the quickest fix has been the changing of petroleum products to the much vaunted Corn fed Ethanol, with Indy Car running a “100%” mixture; the ALMS has switched to a 50% ethanol blend, while the A1 GP will begin racing with a 30% sugar beet blend at its next round in New Zealand.

Yet our wonderful government has the audacity to NOT grant California the required waiver for stricter tailpipe emissions after doing so for 40 years. As some puppet spouts off ‘bout how we’ve increased the CAFÉ standards to an average of 35mpg by 2020, (Big F’ing Dealoe! As the Auto manufacturers (GM, Ford, Chrysler & Toyota who’ve worked so diligently to BLOCK this for decades) will finally have to do something…)

Thus, I was happy to see that Washington has joined California and 14 other states in suing the federal government for failing to approve stronger regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks.

Yet isn’t it nice that we’ve had to get the “$heister’s” involved in filing what I’m sure will be the first of many lawsuits trying to curb NOXIOUS carbon gasses (CO2) which are NOT only bad for the environment they’re also bad for us Humans to inhale!

Champ Car notes

Justin wins Moore award
Justin Wilson has won the Greg Moore Legacy Award for the second time, being awarded the honour at this years Champ Car season ending banquet.

Justin becomesthe the first two-time winner of the award, (2006-07) named after the late Canadian driver who died in 1999. The award is awarded to the driver that most displays the determination, passion and skill that typified Moore's days as a racer.

Justin Wilson:
“It's a real honour to receive this award for the second time. Greg had an outstanding reputation as a driver and as a person and to be associated with him in this way means a lot."

Previous winners of the Greg Moore Legacy Award are Oriol Servia (2005), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2004), Sebastien Bourdais (2003), Patrick Carpentier (2002), Dario Franchitti (2001), and Helio Castroneves (2000)

Conquest new partner
In a refreshing bit of good news, Conquest Racing has just landed a new partnership arrangement with Opes Prime Group Ltd, an Australian based financial services provider. The new alliance will see Conquest campaign two cars for the 2008 Champ Car World Series season,

“Additionally, the new agreement sees Opes Prime principle shareholder Anthony Blumberg acquiring an equity stake in the organization, providing the necessary capital investment to fuel the team's growth over the next two seasons.”

Power wins award
Team Australia’s Will Power has won the coveted Sir Jack Brabham award at this year’s CAMS Australia Awards banquet…

Forsythe’s smooth move
Talk about your pathetic promotional ploys of “Stiring the Pot.” As Gerald Forsythe has attempted to throw Champ Car World Series “Super-star” Paul Tracy under the bus… By reportedly telling ‘Ol Sand Dune Tracy to re-negotiate his current contract or face loosing his ride.

This is not the best way to go about stabilizing a weak product, as rumours suggest that the Toronto race promoter is extremely (PEEVED-OFF) Freaked-out about not having Tracy in this year’s Champ Car line-up, which could potentially cost him the race. Way to go Gerry!

PKV signs Servia
While Forsythe has its caboose up its tailpipe, PKV has just announced the signing of Oriel “Suitcase” Servia as one of its two drivers for 2008.

I for one am very happy to hear the news that Servia will be able to ditch the suitcase moniker for the upcoming season, after PKV sensibly signed the extremely quick and popular Spaniard.

Its currently unknown whom will partner Servia, as Neal Jani who was sponsored by Red Bull is possibly out of the picture since its rumoured that the Red Bull sponsorship deal was only for a single season. If Jani doesn’t return, which would be a shame, then look for him to replace Dan “Speedy-Dry” Clarke at Team Minardi USA…

Friday, January 4, 2008

2008 Dakar CANCELLED!

It was with astonishment that the very first story I encountered this afternoon upon deciding to check “Ze Welt von Motorsports” and see if anything was occurring, that the headlines read; This year’s Dakar Rally has been cancelled.
(But I’m NOT surprised that I lost the whole FRILLIN’ story I just finished writing upon making fun of le internets. Thanks micro-SOFT!)

The event’s very first ever cancellation is due to the recent Terrorist attack upon five French tourists on December 24th. While visiting Mauritania four were killed and the fifth seriously injured while picnicking along the main road near the Senegal border.

The Amaury Sports Organisation, (ASO) promoters of the Dakar Rally said that they’d received direct threats from Terrorist organizations towards this year’s event and the rally was cancelled to ensure the safety of all competitors, support personnel, journalists and civilians along the event’s route.

Although stages of the event have been cancelled previously due to perceived threats, this is the first ever cancellation of the event which has run consecutively since 1979. The ASO assures us that the Dakar Rally will indeed resume in 2009, yet most likely the unsafe regions of Mauritania will be dropped from the new route…

2008 Dakar

Once again the engines are about to roar to life, albeit Far, Far, Far Away in a distant galaxy, known as Africa. As it’s time once again for the most grueling race in the World, the Dakar Rally. This year’s Rally begins on January 5th in Lisbon, Portugal and finishes on January 20th in Dakar, Senegal. The 15 stage race has been extended a further 1,000+ kilometers (621 miles) this year to add further torment to the competitors, with an overall distanced of 9,273 km. (5,762 miles).

Once again, Robby “Dirt Mann Gordoun” will spearhead Team Dakar USA’s challenge with his “Monster” Hummer H3, his third consecutive effort to tame the sands of Mauritania. This year Ron Bailey has joined forces with Gordon to form a two vehicle Monster Hummer effort.

Yet Gordon, Bailey and Team Dakar USA will face an uphill battle to become America’s first ever winner’s of Dakar, racing against mostly European based teams.

These “Across the Pond” contender’s will have the luxury of extra time to prepare, while Gordon’s entourage needed to depart a month prior to the start. Team Dakar USA left Gordon’s shops in California to transport the support vehicles, loaded with all the spare parts and equipment, as the massive amount of “Heavy Metal” was trucked across the country to Savannah, GA where it met an awaiting freighter, which then departed for Lisbon.

As usual, it appears that the top two contenders for overall honours will be the Factory backed squads from Mitsubishi and Volkswagen., Defending Dakar winner “Mister-Bitchy” returns with four Pajero Montero Evolution MPR13s, while VW will have a quartet of Touareg 2 TDI’s attempting to win the event overall.

Mitsubishi will have defending winner Stephane Peterhansel as their lead driver, as France’s Peterhansel is always a threat for the overall victory. He first won the event in 1991 on a Yamaha motorcycle, eventually claiming six overall victories in the two wheel category. Peterhansel has since then won a further three Dakar’s aboard Mitsubishi Pajero’s (2004-05, 07) for a total of nine Dakar titles.

Volkswagen will see ex-WRC Champion Carlos Sainz leading their charge, with Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford (USA/South Africa) as part of the VW line-up.

There will be 31 “Roses of the Sands” contesting this year’s event, thus seeing the Dakar’s largest number ever of Female contestants in the rally’s 30 year history. Even more impressive will be the four competing in the two wheel category.

And what do retired Formula 1 driver’s do for fun? Well, just ask Jordan Grand Prix refugee Tiago Monteiro, who’ll be making his Dakar Rally debut this year, in a single seater buggy-no less!

Tiago Monteiro:
"It's an ultra marathon. It's Yvan Muller's fault, he never stopped talking to me about it the whole year, and he convinced me to take part."

Of course you’ll be unable to see any “Live” television coverage of this event, or even worse, any TV coverage at all! As SPEED is still busy blastin’ us with hours of USELESS Programming. Can you say PINKS??? Of course, if we’re lucky and Nicole Manske isn’t busy changing hair colours, perhaps she’ll give us a two minute recap on The Speed Report. Otherwise, you’ll have to scour the internets for any worthwhile information of daily race progress.

Isn’t it funny how the “CAR” class is mostly contested by SUV’s and Pick-em Up truchs!
2008 Dakar Entry List

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Launch time

The Formula 1 teams have been busy over the winter holidays, as the various team Elves’ have been putting the finishing touches on their 2008 machinery. At first McLaren was planning to not have any “Pomp ‘N Circumstance” this year with the traditional glitz ‘N glamour of a launch party, but they’ve changed their minds. Meanwhile Williams appears to have taken a powder and will not have a lauch party after all, while I’m not sure what Toro Rosso’s plans are exactly?

Here’s a quick run down on upcoming F1 Team launches:

Ferrari: January 6; Fiorano, Italy
McLaren: January 7; Stuttgart, Germany
Toyota: January 10; Colone, Germany
BMW-Sauber: January 14; Munich, Germany
Red Bull: January 16: Jerez, Spain
Honda: January 29; Brackley, UK
Renault: January 31; Paris, France

Force India: TBA
Super Aguri: TBA
Toro Rosso: TBA
(Will run last year’s STR-02 for the first 3 races?)
Williams: TBA

Mario wants Marco in F1

I find this a bit amusing, as Grand Papa Mario Andretti has just publicly stated that he’d like to see grandson Marco plying his trade “Across the Pond” in Formula 1 instead of runnin’ circles in the Indy Racing League.

Hmm, me thinks Marco needs to vastly improve his Oval track performance, overtaking skills and keep a steady eye on his mirror to see where new teammate Hideki Mutoh is!

And perhaps its just me, but isn’t it funny that this time “Juan” year ago, the “Grand Poop-pah” (Mario) was indeed trying to Pump Up Marco, when the youngster was making his first trek to Europe to test for the Honda F1 team.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New "Schues"

For the past few weeks I’ve been driving my Most Excellent Blog Meister nutty, requesting a few additions to the No Fenders site, to which he’s complied with. You’ll notice that he’s added a slew of categories under the headings F1 Team Links and Other Open Wheel Categories, which should enable Y’all to hunt ‘N peck for your favourite stories a little quicker.

Also, he’s fixed the RSS feed which apparently wasn’t working earlier. Yet I’ll have to admit I’m a bit fuzzy on how exactly RSS feeds work, along with who in the HELL is Atom? (Is that Atom Ant?) But if you’re more “Tech Savvy” than your poor ‘Ol story writer is… Then please, by all means go ahead and sign-up for this!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Going Dutch

Ah, what a way to start the New Year, eh? Yep, that’s right. He’s BACK!!! While the rest of us are shaking off the cold, taking down the tree and dreading the onslaught of overpriced iron going across the block in Scottsdale, AZ.

As many of you were probably watching Santa’s progress on the internets via NORAD tracking… It does indeed appear that Santa made a pit stop in the “Neitherlands” this year, giving somebody a ride aboard a shiny new Porsche RS Spyder.

Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about Jos “THE BOSS” Verstappen, who’s ringing in the New Year just having been “inked” to drive for “Team het Nederlands.”
Verstappen will be part of an all Dutch sports car team contesting the 1,000km Le Mans Series events along with the 24 Heurs du Mans for Van Merksteijn Motorsports.

Verstappen, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Peter van Merksteijn will co-drive the teams prototype, as the Porsche RS Spyder will be competing in Europe for its first season, while Verstappen was last seen racing for Team Netherland in the A1 GP series during the 2006-07 season before being replaced by Bleekemolen.

Happy New Years!!!