Audis Win Again

The unstoppable Audi R-10s won the ALMS race in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday March 31.  Most notable however was the Penske Porsches bested the Andretti Acuras.  This is from motorsports.com:
In the end, the reliability and the Audi organization with its finely-tuned team work earned the inaugural event on the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit. Allan McNish and Rinaldo "Dindo" Capello landed the overall victory as the reigning co-champions aim to win back-to-back LM P1 titles at the season ender in Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. "This was a difficult one to win," said Capello. "After the final restart, the first turn and again, the second, were like ice and with three laps to go, I knew I had to do it keep the lead). It was the most difficult last three laps of a race I have ever had."


All of a Sudden

All of a sudden Champ Car is filled with news.  Mario Dominguez is going back to Forsythe to partner with Paul Tracy.  It looks like Forsythe is going to run two cars this year after all.  Graham Rahal will be racing with Sebastian Bourdais at Newman/Hass/Lanigan.  Like I said in a previous post, I like Bobby Rahal and I like his son.  He's named after F1 great Graham Hill.  Will Graham be as good as his father, who won a CART championship and an Indy 500?
"I think he's learned pretty much everything he needed to learn before the season started, and it's a great thing for him," said Bourdais about his new teammate. "He's going to be probably one of the drivers who's really, in the rookie field the one that looks really strong because of the good preparation he's got and the talent he has."
Rocketsports and RuSport racing have merged:
"The joining of Rocketsports and RuSPORT is both a strategic and economic alliance," said Paul) Gentilozzi. "Two single car entries leave themselves without a technical sounding board that is certainly required today. Two drivers working together can expand the performance envelope when one is perhaps still looking for the right combination."
The new name is RSPORT. The first Champ Car race of the year is April 8 on the streets of Las Vegas.  Thanks to motorsports.com for the quotes.

Villenueve Overrated

I always thought that Jacques Villenueve was overrated as a driver.  He happened to have really good cars to drive when he won his championship.  He says he misses the Formula One machinery:
"The only thing that saddens me or that I miss is the fact that those cars were incredible to drive.  To be in the seat, the pleasure of being behind the wheel, that's it," he said with conviction.  "The ambiance, the surroundings, the championship itself, no, I don't miss that at all.   It would not have given me the time to take care of my family and my son, and it would not have given me the time to launch my album either. So, it's for the best."
I haven't heard about his NASCAR ride for a while.  Thanks to Yahoo for the quote.


No French Grand Prix! It's been well known that F1 boss Bernie Eccelstone does not like the remote location of Magny Cours.  Now it looks like it's off the calendar for 2008. This from Yahoo:
The news was not officially confirmed, but it would be the first time since 1955 that the country did not host a Formula One race.Ecclestone was recently critical of Magny Cours, which is one of the least popular destinations among F1's travelling regulars due to its isolated location and lack of accommodation.  In the magazine Autohebdo, Ecclestone accused the government of doing "nothing" to help Magny Cours. "For two years the autoroute has been stopped six miles from the circuit and they say that it could be another four or five years before the last bit is finished," he added.
It's been reported that Eccelstone wants a GP in Paris.


Another Andretti in Formula One?

Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran who is sporting director for Honda F1 was in Homestead, Florida last weekend for the IndyCar race.  While visiting he said F1 is always keeping an eye out for up and coming talent.  I guess that includes Marco Andretti:
De Ferran insisted that he is simply holidaying in America prior to the second round of the Grand Prix season, but admitted: "We would be remiss if we weren't looking at promising talent from around the world." "We would not be doing our job if we weren't paying attention to who is coming up."
Andretti went out early with mechanical problems.  That quote from Yahoo.


Rahal-Letterman Enters Four Cars in the Indy 500

I'm originally from Columbus, Ohio which is also the home of Rahal Letterman racing.  I used to watch Bobby Rahal race sports cars at Mid-Ohio in the 1970's.  He will enter four cars in this years Indianapolis 500.  Scott Sharp and Jeff Simmons will be driving:
Sharp, who won the pole at Indy in 200 has driven in 12 previous races at the Speedway, with a best finish of seventh in 2005. This is his first season with Rahal Letterman, which won the 500 with Buddy Rice in 2004. "One of the things that attracted me to Rahal Letterman Racing was the team's success at Indianapolis," Sharp said. "I have won races and championships during my career, but the ultimate success at Indianapolis is something that has eluded me."
That quote from WTHR TV.

Wheldon Wins the 2007 Premier IRL Event

Dan Wheldon won at Homestead last weekend.  One reporter says it made the other drivers sad:
"I could stay with Dan early on, but as soon he got that gap, I couldn't quite get back the time," said Hornish, a three-time series champion. "It's unfortunate for the Team Penske crew, but I said we'd be happy if we came out of here with a top-three and we did that. We'll move on to our next race and see what we can do."Dan's performance reminded me of a few years ago when I was able to put a lap on the field here at Homestead," Hornish added. "That was a great feeling, but we have some work to do to catch up right now."
Wheldon's engineer, Andy Brown says how easy it was to beat the field:
"The history of the IRL has always been dictated by the way the rules put a lot of downforce in the cars," he said.  "That's what makes for such great racing. The minimum downforce that the IRL specifies is more than enough to get around the track, but at Homestead, that wasn't the case. The old track in particular was very flat with not much banking and whilst the minimum downforce levels were great for qualifying, we always felt there was no way you could race like that. "People would kind of put their hands on their mouths and laugh at us when they saw our wing angles and our wickers, but tires got hot, the track gets hot and we just sort of drove away from everybody."
The next race is this Sunday in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Positive Thinking

Is BMW on the rise? You might think so after their performance in Australia.  Nick Heidfeld in fourth and Robert Kubica in twelfth.  Heidfeld wants to be world champion - it's not as far fetched as it seems. Here's Heidfeld:
"I want to become world champion, and would love it to be with BMW in the next few years," he told the Bild newspaper, "I am in the best position that I have ever been in F1. When I came to this team last year, I knew that they had the same ambitions and, up to now, everything has been going in right direction."Although there are really very good omens, we are not the favourite for the title this year, so won't be disappointed if we don't become champions in 2007. We just want to better ourselves as a team, while I will settle for being best German. I think that is very possible as Ralf's Toyota and Adrian Sutil's Spyker are clearly slower than the BMW, although Nico Rosberg's Williams is running very well."
BMW Director Mario Theissen agrees.


Tomas Enge a Pothead!

I did not know that Tomas Enge had been found using cannabis and that his F3000 title was taken away. I stumbled upon this news while reading this:

Cocaine has been found at one of the hotels used by Formula One drivers for the recent Australian Grand Prix.

Certainly no one remotely connected to Formula One would ever use coke.

Designer - Driver

Formula One engineer Adrian Newey wants to race at Lemans:
The designer of championship winning Formula One cars, who is also an avid amateur racer, is aiming to share a Ferrari 430 GT2 with two other British drivers, despite the fact that the team has not yet secured a starting slot for the June race. Newey tested the car at Monza recently and told Motorsport News"We are looking at our options at the moment, but I want to do the race."

Ecclestone wants Paris Grand Prix

F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone wants to see the French Grand Prix moved to Paris:
In the French magazine Autohebdo, the 76-year-old referred to a Formula One race in Paris as a longstanding 'dream'. "Paris is the number one tourist destination in the world," Ecclestone said. Autohebdo reports that Disneyland Park Paris, which is about 30kms from the centre of Paris, is a possible venue for a Grand Prix track.
It sounds crazy at first but the more you think about it, the more appealing it is.  It would probably be a cash bonanza.


Eric Medlen Dies

Funny Car driver Eric Medlen died Friday at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida after suffering a head injury in a testing accident on March 19.
Medlen was one of the up and coming stars in the National Hot Rod Association Drag Racing Championship POWERade Series, racing the Castrol Funny Car out of the John Force Racing stables.
The NHRA made this statement:
Words cannot describe how everyone at NHRA is feeling after the passing of one of our brightest young stars, Eric Medlen. He earned his way to the top through hard work and perseverance and, in doing so, gained the respect of his fellow competitors. Eric was a great spokesperson not only for John Force Racing but the sport of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing and he will be forever remembered for his enthusiasm, uplifting personality and ever-present smile. He was destined to become a great champion in the sport and all of us at NHRA are grateful and fortunate to have shared in some of his glory. Eric left this sport far too soon and his absence will be felt by everyone within the NHRA racing community. On behalf of everyone at NHRA, I want to send our sincere condolences to the Medlen family and John Force Racing.
John Force had this to say:
"Eric Medlen was the son I never had," said team owner John Force. "He was the leader of my next generation of drivers. Robert Hight, my daughter Ashley and I were with the family throughout this very difficult time. This loss is a huge blow not only to the Medlen family, but to drag racing and to John Force Racing. I just want to thank everybody for their support, from Larry Smiley with Racers for Christ to the hospital staff to the whole drag racing community. Our prayers go out to the family."
All the previous quotes are from motorsports.com.

Weldon Wins at Homestead

Target Chip Gannasi Racing driver Dan Weldon won the IRL race at Homestead Saturday night. His teammate Scott Dixon was second.
"It's great to be at Homestead and win three in a row," said Wheldon. "I'm not sure how we've done it, because I've done it with two different teams." Wheldon overcame one mishap in the pits on lap 105, which put him back to 10th. He made short work of the field, retaking the lead 15 laps later. "I'm not exactly sure" what happened, he said regarding the botched pit stop. "We made a slight mistake."
That report from motorsports.com.


Alonso Fan Club Disappointed

A group of Fernando Alonso fans traveled to Australia to see their hero only to be snubbed:
The President of the fan club, Manuel Rodriguez, said 25-year-old Alonso treated his fans 'like crap' by refusing to sign autographs or pose for photos. "He looked at us with disgust and answered no'," Rodriguez said, adding that members of the Alonso fan club had to be content with photos with Kimi Raikkonen and even Bernie Ecclestone.
I hardly think getting your picture taken with Raikkonen is second prize.

Boring F1?

It looks like there are a lot of people who feel the same way as my wife. She is just not excited about Formula One racing without Michael Schumacher.
According to the latest official TV ratings, 1.41 million Germans tuned into Sunday's coverage of the Australian Grand Prix live. That compares with free to air broadcaster RTL's 2.23 million viewers of the Melbourne race a year ago, when Ferrari driver Schumacher crashed in the Albert Park circuit's last corner.
That quote from F1Live.com via Yahoo.  My wife has been an F1 fan since at least 1999 maybe longer.  She will still watch but is not really excited about it.  I think a lot of people feel this way right now. The sport will always lose fans but will also gain them for a variety of reasons.  I have to admit -- Alonso does doesn't generate excitement.


I took by beloved 1988 BMW 528e to the shop this morning. It's been parked for a year.  It blew a timing belt and had a valve job. Ever since it's had a low idle and the check engine light will come on periodically. I drove it 50 miles this morning and it ran pretty good.

I'm of two minds on this car.

1. It's still a good car with some miles left on it. Put some money into it and you can drive it for another five years. It's kind of "cool".

2. This jalopy is 20 years old. Everything needs replaced and it's going to cost a fortune to get it in decent shape. Even then, it's still a twenty year old car. I've had this car since 1995.  I love it.  Obviously I'm not thinking with my head.

Check this out.


Best Wishes for Eric Medlen

There is an email address set up to send good wishes to injured NHRA Funny Car driver Eric Medlen.
Castrol SYNTEC, Medlen's primary sponsor in his first three seasons on the NHRA POWERade tour, has announced that it will print and assemble all messages left at the e-mail address getwelleric@castrol.com and present them later to the driver and his family. "There are so many people who care about Eric," Lori Anne Gola, Castol spokeswoman said, "and we wanted to find a tangible way to show him all of that love and support. We thought that, through this e-mail address, we could capture the prayers, kind thoughts and well wishes of all those who empathize with Eric and his family."
Medlen was seriously injured in a testing accident Monday at Gainesville Raceway in Florida and underwent surgery this week.

Michelin Loss Hurts Renault the Most

The loss of Michelin rubber has probably hurt Renault the most of all Formula One teams in 2007.  Renault and Michelin closely collaborated and complemented one another, resulting in back-to-back world championships.  Renault's poor performance in Australia is closely related to the difficulty in getting adjusted to Bridgestone.  Renault's engineering director Pat Symonds:
"The first race may have quantified the performance deficit, but we were already well aware that our level of performance was not adequate," he noted. "Therefore, we have been focusing for a number of weeks on assessing where the lack of performance lies. "We are not dealing with a fundamental handling vice, as both drivers have said the car is reasonably well-balanced. 
Our concentration is therefore on getting the most out of the [Bridgestone] tyres, but first and foremost on aggressive development of the car's aerodynamics.  We know that our performance is not where it should be, and the challenge now is to get on with the job and sort it out."
That quote is from Crash.net via Yahoo. I think most all F1 observers were surprised at Renault's lack of pace at the Aussie GP.  One question would be:  Did BMW's performance improve a lot or did Renault's fall a lot?

50 Years in Racing

When I was a kid growing up A.J. Foyt was the best race car driver in the world.  He won the Indianapolis 500 four times.  He has also won the 24 hours of Le Mans and the Daytona 500.  He's one of those guys that go back to an earlier time in racing when a driver had to be versatile.  Foyt recently reflected on his 50 years in racing:
"When I won the 400 at Daytona I got out of the car and I was blistered. My butt, my ankles, my feet were all burned. The first time I won it the race started at noon. It was terrible hot. I called in and said somebody throw some water on me. I am dying in this damn thing!  I am seeing black spots."
"I learned one thing. You don't throw water in the car. The water on the floorboard started steaming and I was like a lobster. The next time I came in for a pit stop they asked me if I wanted some water. No! I learned that the hard way."
I remember when he punched out Arie Luyendyk. Love him or hate him, A.J. Foyt is a real race car driver.


Titanic Grand Prix Battle

German manufacturers and Ferrari battled for dominance in the first race of the season.  Stars were created while fan favorites fell by the wayside.  Not Australia 2007 but Tunisia - May 5, 1935.  This quote is from the fabulous Autoweek:
Descriptions of the weather vary. One British report emphasized the heat; a French newspaper used the words un temps magnifique. Whichever, the atmosphere seemed more commercial than colonial, with the large checkered flag signaling the start and finish, raised and lowered by a fellow in a business suit.   Spectators wearing jackets and ties concentrated in covered grandstands adorned with billboard-style advertisements stretched across their tops.   Down front, dignitaries sat in a short row of gilt and tapestry-covered armchairs.  The Bey of Tunis, wearing a big tasseled cap and pince-nez glasses, vied to be the center of attention next to the French resident general in a military uniform.  A stone wall about four feet high between the track and the grandstand was crowded with standing spectators; those in the low grandstand had to stand to see over them.
That article written by Brooks T. Breierly. Thanks for the history lesson.

Car Racing is Boring

Apparently Formula One automobile racing is not enough to keep Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen awake:
Raikkonen's radio broke before the March 18 Australian Grand Prix, leaving him incommunicado with pit-lane staff.  About 10 laps from the end of the race, he said he felt sleepy and momentarily veered off the track.``I almost fell asleep,'' Raikkonen, who was making his Ferrari debut, told the team's Web site. ``Even without radio I knew that they were saying: `Kimi, wake up,'' he added, referring to his fellow Ferrari employees.
Where's Michael Schumacher when you need him?

Kovalainen Agrees - He Sucks!

Heikki Kovalainen agrees with the criticism leveled at his performance in the Australian Grand Prix by Renault boss Flavio Briatore.
Kovalainen conceded in his column on BBC Sport Online that he only had himself to blame, especially as he qualified well down the pack, in 13th place, while his Renault team-mate, Giancarlo Fisichella managed sixth spot. "My team boss Flavio Briatore did not mince his words afterwards, in private or public, but that's completely normal,"  Kovalainen wrote. "Everyone was disappointed. I wasn't expecting anyone to say, 'Well done', or 'It's part of the learning curve.'
That quote from Yahoo.

Formula One as a World Sport

Remember when Formula One used to be mainly contested in Europe with a few races held on other continents.  In the past few years F1 has added Malaysia, China, and Bahrain.  In the past year I've heard rumors that the following countries all want to host an F1 race:  Qatar, India, Singapore, and South Africa.  I'll bet I'm missing a few more.
India's long-speculated Grand Prix in the capital New Delhi could also be a street race, it has emerged. "I'm proposing to start things with a street race on Raj Path," businessman Vijay Mallya said this week, admitting that the lack of an adequate permanent circuit would otherwise be an obstacle to getting the race up and running by 2009.
Where will it all end?  Will there have to be two or three separate leagues formed with some racing in the southern hemisphere in the winter and the northern latitudes during the summer?


Radical Action-ectomy for Formula One

Jordan Designer Gary Anderson has a whole bunch of really good ideas about how to make Formula One racing interesting and exciting again.  I have to admit that as a form of entertainment, it leaves something to be desired.  I have been watching F1 since 1977, I know all the cars, drivers, and owners, so I have a built-in interest.  But someone who has never seen F1 racing before may not enjoy watching cars circle the track for 90 minutes.  According to this article the audience for F1 has been shrinking.
"I genuinely believe the cars and regulations have gone the wrong way in the last few years," he stressed.  "The cars are not good at following each other - they lose too much grip. You have the fastest car at the front in qualifying and the slowest car at the back, and then on Sunday we somehow expect some miracle to happen that means a slower car passes a faster one on a dirty part of the track when the grip level on the racing line is always better than that off it. You don't have to be a brain surgeon to work out that ain't going to happen. "Really and truthfully, there has to be a change. 
What we have to do is create racing. In my opinion we should have reverse grids; the guy leading the championship should have to start at the back, and the guy who is suffering at the front, and as you score more points that naturally will change. It isn't artificial.  If you can win the championship that way it will truly be because you have beaten all the others.  Not only do you have to be the fastest driver but you also need to be a clever driver; you have to understand the strategy and actually overtake people.  It adds another challenge.
Others have proposed reverse grids in the past. The way races are conducted today you really end up with three separate races taking place on the same track at the same time. You have the three top teams competing against one another for podium places. Then, you have the three or four middle teams competing for points positions, and finally, you have the rear echelon competing for slots 11-17. If the grid was reversed drivers would be forced to overtake. That would make each race a better entertainment product, but would it be good for the Formula One industry?

Lauda Scolds Todt

Former Ferrari driver and Formula One Champion Niki Lauda has dresses down present Ferrari boss Jean Todt for his "chummy" behavior toward Australian GP winner Kimi Raikkonen:
"I have to condemn his behaviour," Lauda said, pointing out that Todt has often compared his relationship with Schumacher as fatherly, which was developed over more than a decade through handfuls of constructors' and drivers' championships.  Lauda said of Todt:  "He was acting as if his best buddy Schumacher had just won."
That quote is from Yahoo.


It's Our Job to Cheat

It's our job to cheat, it's their job to catch us. There are reports that Ferrari has some sort of movable floor that may be illegal.  This is from Speed TV via Yahoo:
It is suggested that the car's floor might have been designed to give a performance advantage by moving, which - as in the 'flexing wings' sagas of last year - is illegal.  Predictably, the leading antagonist of the new saga appears to be McLaren, who reportedly suspect that Ferrari's floor lowers at speed to give Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa an unfair speed boost in a straight line.
A Ferrari spokeman says that Ferrari is always a target when they are the quickest.

Medlen Critically Injured

Eric Medlen was critically injured during a testing accident in Florida Monday.  Medlen, 33, is part of the John Force team who had stayed in Florida following Sunday's Gatornationals competition.
Medlen is competing in his fourth season as a driver.  He won six NHRA events in his first three seasons and finished a career-best fourth in the 2006 Funny Car standings.  Medlen spent eight years as a crew member for Force's Funny Car, learning the mechanical side of the sport from his father, John Medlen.
That quote from ESPN.


Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen

Somewhat lost in all the media love fest that was the Australian Grand Prix, Renault did very poorly and had a number of excuses for their sad performance.  Blame the Bridgestone's was one excuse I heard.  Blame the backmakers for holding our guys up.  Renault boss Flavio Briatore spoke with a clear voice when he said rookie Heikki Kovalainien drove poorly:
But Briatore also took a metaphorical rifle to Kovalainen, after the Finn endured a mistake-riddled debut in the boots of departed world champion Fernando Alonso. "Everybody saw it on TV, there's no point trying to defend him," Renault's team boss is quoted as saying by the Spanish news agency EFE."
Quote courtesy of f1Live.com via Yahoo.


What a Finish!

The finish of the GT2 race at Sebring was the best I've seen in quite a while.  Congrats to Andretti Green for the Acura win and of course the bullet proof Audis dominated their class and the overall win.  My wife's favorite driver, Max Papis won in the GT1 as co-driver of the Corvette.
Melo, who drove with Mika Salo and Johnny Mowlem, led by five seconds with 11 minutes left but by the final lap Bergmeister was tucked right behind his rear bumper. The two cars crossed the start-finish line just before Werner took the checkered flag. So instead of a one-second victory, Melo had to hold off the young Porsche factory driver for another full circuit. Bergmeister, partnering with Johannes van Overbeek and Marc Lieb, finally caught up with Melo entering Turn 16 and on to the long backstretch.
He pulled alongside Melo and barely moved past him as the two headed into the final turn. They remained door-to-door and made contact as Melo edged across the line. "It was a fantastic last lap," Melo said. "I've never had a finish like that. I had brake problems late and tried to keep it steady. He Bergmeister) overtook me on the backstraight and I braked a little early. Out of Turn 17 I put in a little more and opened the throttle as soon as possible."
The previous quote is from Motorsports.com.

A New F1 Star

It certainly appears that Formula One has a new star:  Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton finishes on the podium for the Australian Grand Prix.   The following is from SportingLife.com:
"I was ecstatic and I still am," he said. "To be in my first Grand Prix, which is what I have been working for for so many years, and all the hard work is paying off. "I am extremely happy for myself and for the rest of the team.  I think it is a great starting point and a great foundation to build on for the rest of the season."
Biggest surprise other than Hamilton -- Ralf Schumacher finishing in the points.  Biggest disappointment -- Nick Heidfeld dropping out of a podium finish.


Audis (of course) Dominate Sebring

The Audis have gotten off to their usual great start for the race today in Sebring.
As the two Audis led the filed through the first turn, six cars took the green flag from the pitlane: No. 85 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR; No. 10 Konrad Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 996); No. 77 Autoracing Club Bratislava Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 996); No. 27 Horag Racing Lista Judd Lola B05-40 and No. 63 Team Modena Aston Martin DBR9.
That courtesy of Motorsports.com.

BMW Surprise

Nick Heidfeld is third on the grid for tomorrow's race.  These words from Heidfeld are from Yahoo:
"I was sure we would make it into the top ten, but more P5 or something like that, so it is clearly a fantastic result for us to be third," he said, "We had a good winter season, but you never know until you get to the first race.  The car was not perfect today - with some fuel on board, it was not that easy - and, from my view, Ferrari is still ahead, but we will only see tomorrow in the race."

Worry and Pole for Raikkonen

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen has to be happy to be on the pole for the Australian Grand Prix, but also worried because his teammate's car failed. This quote is from Yahoo:
Massa experienced gear-box problems in the second session of qualifying and failed to register a time that would have pitched him into the final session with the top ten cars vying for favourable grid positions. Instead Massa, who won the final Brazil GP last season, will have to start from outside of the eighth row, much like he did in last year's Australian race where he was subsequently knocked out in the opening lap.
Raikkonen says he's not worried about Massa's gearbox failure:
"I don't know exactly what the problem was but hopefully it's just a one-off and we won't have that tomorrow.  Of course, it's a concern but hopefully we can work it out."

Mudslinging Continues

Spyker has lodged a protest against Toro Rosso claiming it's car is simply a copy of this year's Red Bull RB3. Is this anyway to behave? --
It's believed that Spyker team principal Colin Kolles, technical director James Key and team business affairs chief Ian Phillips spoke to the stewards after Thursday scrutineering to make an official complaint about the Toro Rosso STR although details of the complaint are not clear. Spyker allegedly claimed that the STR2 is a copy of this year's Red Bull RB3. We use the words 'allegedly', 'supposedly' and 'apparently' because so far no official statement has been made about the nature of the complaint. Reportedly there have been several meetings of the stewards with both Spyker and Toro Rosso but a decision is not likely until Friday. Toro Rosso has always believed its car is legal but, equally, Kolles thinks it's not.
Thanks motorsports.com.


F1 Qualifying Note

Note that Formula One qualifying from Australia is on Speed TV tonight at 11:30pm eastern time.

Autobahn Speed Limit?

Not likely.  This article compares tinkering with the autobahn speed limit in Germany with changing Social Security in the US. A political "third rail".  This quote is from the New York Times:
"Our politicians like to say that Germany should not have to do more than other European countries on climate change, but in this area, we are doing less,"  said Josef Goppel, one of the few conservative members of Parliament who favor a limit.  For years, speed limit advocates tried to argue their case on safety grounds.  The autobahn, though, is statistically safer than highways in many countries, even if its crashes are singularly horrific.   Saving the planet, it turns out, may be more persuasive than saving lives.
A speed limit on the autobahn will never happen, at least not because of global warming.

No Surprise

They say Ferrari's Felipe Massa was quickest in Friday practice for the Austrailian Grand Prix. No surprise.  This is from motorsports.com:
"It was a good day," said Massa. "We did a good job of comparing the two types of dry weather tyre and this morning we also got the opportunity to run in the wet, which led us to see that the balance of the F2007 is pretty good. This was a positive start to the weekend, but of course what counts is tomorrow's qualifying and most of all, Sunday's race."
Raikkonen, where are you?


Learning Curve

Boy, does McLaren's Lewis Hamilton have a learning curve.  This quote is from Yahoo:
"If you do look at the testing then Ferrari have been reasonably quick in their last few tests, so some could say that Ferrari are the strongest at the moment. "But you don't know what programme they are on so we won't know until tomorrow or Saturday exactly who is where, but I am sure we are going to be very competitive."
That's what Raikkonen used to say.

F1 Fistfight

I love this kind of rumor and speculation. Formula One is just so ripe for it. A Polish newspaper has claimed that BMW drivers Nick Heidfeld and Sebastian Vettle had a fistfight in the garage during a recent test in Bahrain. This is from Yahoo:
Heidfeld's Polish team-mate Robert Kubica denied the claims of Super Express after it described how he and four time World Champion Alain Prost had helped to separate the brawling pair. Super Express said Prost had been accidentally struck during the melee, but 22-year-old Kubica says the Frenchman wasn't even in Bahrain at the time!
The report has been rubbished!

Penske Power

Another example of the undeniable power of Roger Penske.  He wanted a race in Detroit -- so he's getting a race in Detroit.  This is from Robin Miller's Open Wheel Notebook on speedtv.com:
At Tuesday night's reception for the Detroit Grand Prix, it was revealed that underground drainage is being constructed and 15 acres of concrete are being laid for the paddock.  They've also reportedly sold 10 suites for the Labor Day event.
I cannot resist any news that mentions Penske's name. He is so smart and such a winner.

F1 Night Racing...?

I'm not sure I like the idea of Formula One cars racing at night. The first could be at Singapore next year. This from Yahoo:
The suggestion has been met with a mixed response amongst drivers, with some fearing the poor visibility will make for a potentially dangerous race.  But Australian Webber, who will take his place on the grid with his new team in the season-opening race in Melbourne this weekend, believes the creation of such an event will prove popular amongst fans.


Daytona 200 Photographs

The Daytona 200 was great. The crowds were big,  but not too big.  I used to ride a Kawasaki KZ 1000. It felt great to be at the track, smelling the fuel, checking out the other fans, and the general racing scene.

The last Daytona 200 I saw was in 1993.  It's been a few years since I was at Daytona for a race.   Looking at all the great bikes really made me want another one! The racing was good and competitive.   Because I don't normally follow AMA racing, I didn't really know that much about the machines and the riders.

There was only one negative.  I had to check out the new Nextel "Fan Zone". What a ripoff!  They have restricted access and charge fans an extra 15 dollars for the privilege. Other than the so-called "Fan Zone", I had a wonderful time.


Tracy Fastest in Early Testing

Paul Tracy lapped quickest at Leguna Seca with a 1:06.707 on the 2.238 mile road course.  Sebastien Bourdais suffered gearbox problems throughout the morning and afternoon sessions. This is from Yahoo:
"It was great, we have not been to Laguna in years and they have done some repaving, so it is a little bit smoother on the tires and a little more consistent," said Tracy. "Over all I am very happy on how the day went.  We had such a bad test in Houston, but we came out here and were flawless today, no mechanical problems and the car ran perfectly, so I am happy for Forsythe Championship Racing."
The 2007 Champ Car season starts April 8 in Las Vegas.

Loeb Wins Mexico

Since we can't get any coverage of the World Rally Championship on television, I thought I'd write a little something here. Sebastian Loeb won Rally Mexico. Loeb had to get off the snow in Norway to get back to his winning ways.  This Grunholm quote is from Yahoo:
"It didn't look so good for us on Friday when we were fifth but we recovered well," he said. "I found a good feeling with the car yesterday morning and from then on everything was perfect. Wee still leading both championships although Seb has closed on us a little here and I want to do better on the next round in Portugal.  The lack of power in the mountains was obvious all rally but that's the same for everyone and I had to get used to it." 
"It wasn't a hard rally for tyres and everyone made pretty much the same choices throughout.  If Seb wins it's crucial for me to finish second to ensure we don't drop many points.  That's what happened here but I hope we can reverse the situation on the next rally," he added.
Next up is the Rally of Portugal March 30 through April 1.

Daytona 200 Picture

Josh Hayes at the 2007 Daytona 200.  Photo credit Chris Howell. 
The following is from Daytona International Speedway:
Steve Rapp raced to one of the biggest upset wins in the history of the Daytona 200 on Saturday, riding the No. 15 Attack Kawasaki ZX-6R to a 21.951-second victory over teammate Ben Attard of Australia. 
  "It's unbelievable," said Rapp, whose previous best result in the 200 was fifth in 1999.  "I backed off so much on the last few laps. I would have never forgiven myself had I run out of gas. On the last lap I was so nervous.  I feel like a different person.  This is the biggest day of my life."

What's in Your Wallet?

Michael Schumacher's manager Willi Weber has hinted that Michael might like to own a Formula One team some day:
Weber said: "I don't know it for sure, but I could imagine that Michael buys a team.  But he is never going to be Ferrari's team boss."
"Perhaps we will go and ask a billionaire if he wants to sell us his spare team," the newspaper AZ quoted Schumacher's long time associate Willi Weber - who already runs a team in the A1GP series - as saying.
"All that responsibility, work and stress - why would Michael Schumacher want to do that? But if he owned a team, it would be a different task."
Schumacher will continue to generate press for years after his retirement.  When Michael just sneezes there's someone there to record it.


The Daytona 200

I'll be visiting Daytona International Speedway tomorrow to see the motorcycle racing that caps off bike week. At 11:15am the AMA Superbikes race and then at 2:00 pm the Formula Extreme bikes contest the 64th Daytona 200.  I've been trying to learn what all the different AMA classes are and what the differences are. The following is from the AMA website:
AMA Superbike - 0-600cc 4-stroke four- and twin-cylinders.
AMA Formula Xtreme are allowed the largest displacement engines in the AMA Chevrolet Superbike Championship:* 450cc-600cc multi-cylinder * 595cc-750cc liquid-cooled twin-cylinder * 850cc-1350cc air-cooled twin-cylinder.
AMA Superstock Series - 745cc-1000cc multi-cylinders.
I'll be taking some pictures and will post a few here.


F1 Equipment is Arriving

A variety of Formula One related equipment is arriving in Melbourne in anticipation of the beginning of the 2007 racing season.
Chartered by Formula One Management, three more Boeing 747s carrying the actual cars are scheduled to arrive soon, before the local company Gibson Freight moves the lot south of the city to the Albert Park pit lane. The last plane touches down on Sunday, a week before the Melbourne race.

Kenny Brack

Whatever happened to Kenny Brack?  He came back from his terrible injuries, qualified like a mad man at the 2005 Indy 500 and then disappeared?
"For us, we certainly would have had Kenny in a car if the sponsorship was there or what have you," said former Indy champion-turned-car owner Bobby Rahal.  "It hasn't been a matter of us not wanting to bring him in, not thinking he was ready; it was a matter of there not being a situation there, an opportunity."
This from the Kenny Brack page on Wikipedia:
As of 2006, Brack lives in Belgium and has retired from open wheel racing. Brack spends most of his time currently as the lead member of a rock band.


First In Indy

Sarah Fisher and Buddy Rice became the first entrants to the 2007 Indianapolis 500.
Fisher, bubbly as ever, expressed the exuberance of the moment in words:  "I am so excited to be back!"  The twenty-six year old has three times been crowned the IRL's "Most Popular Driver" and is the darling of fans nationwide for her spunk and smile.  She continued, saying, "I'm surrounded by a group of wonderful people at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.  We've already had two tests and everything is going really smoothly right now. I have an excellent teammate.  Buddy and I have worked really well together in the past."
All I can say is good luck to Fisher. Buddy Rice has what it takes to win but will he have a car that can win?

One Strike and You're Out!

If you are a race car driver and you get caught drinking and driving there should be a universal rule throughout the racing community, one strike and you're out. Yes, one DUI and you should be banned from race driving for life. I don't care how old you are, how good a driver you are or if your name happens to be Unser or Foyt.
The 22-year-old, who lives in Huntersville, N.C., was arrested on December 10 after running a stop light. He was released after posting a $1000 bond, and will have to appear in court on April 9 to answer to the DUI charges.
There's too many good, sober race drivers out there who would kill to get a chance at driving in the big leagues.

Good F1 Analysis

If you were wondering what the F1 teams were up to over the winter and which teams have the best chance, check out this excellent analysis of winter testing. Here's the money quote:
Analyzing those 16 group test days as a "mini-season" of sorts, Massa "won" six times in 13 appearances, a strike rate of almost 50%, double the amount of the second "winningest" driver, Fernando Alonso, who made only 11 appearances.  The only other multiple victors, with two apiece, were BMW's Nick Heidfeld and McLaren tester Pedro de la Rosa.  Ralf Schumacher, David Couthard and McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton topped the charts once each, which puts the silver team's total "win" tally at six, tied with Ferrari.
We shall see this month in Australia.


Raikkonen V. Massa

I guess the battle to watch in Formula One this season is not Ferrari verses McLaren but Kimi Raikkonen verses Felipe Massa.  Massa has a year under his belt at Ferrari but Raikkonen has the reputation for winning, even in a less than perfect car. Some of his driving at McLaren during the 2005 season was amazing. This from Yahoo:
Before jetting out of Bahrain last week, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen gave little away amid suggestions that he was surprisingly outpaced this winter by his team-mate Felipe Massa. "Let's see what happens in Melbourne," the Finn told reporters. "I think that will be the right place to compare us."

Autoweek Report From Geneva

Read Dutch Mandel's report from the Geneva auto show, published on Autoweek's web site. Here's a great quote:
Stopping to chat, Jackie Stewart allowed as to how he was looking for another racing great, Roger Penske. "Have you seen him?" he asked. "I understand he just got in this morning and will be here for about 20 minutes." An exaggeration, to be sure because though Roger is quick, he is thorough.  And when Roger comes to a European show, it's all business:  He's got appointments scheduled with the heads of state, the heads of car companies, and the heads of countries.  RP doesn't eff-around.
Roger Penske is all business.

What is Wrong With the Japanese Teams?

The two Japanese teams in Formula One, Honda and Toyota, have always gone into racing to win. 

But since they entered F both have had dismal seasons. Both Honda and Toyota have dominated other forms of open wheel racing in the past. 

Admittedly, Honda has had some small successes in F1 since it took over the team from BAR.  As an engine supplier to McLaren in the late 1980's, Honda settled for nothing less than victory. Honda does have a history in F1 that dates back to the 1960's.

Toyota has poured tens of millions of dollars into it's Formula effort and has little wins or podiums to show for it. What has happened to that traditional Japanese work ethic that drives those teams to win? How long will Toyota and Honda stand for less than winning results? 

I think one of the reasons a manufacturer gets into F1 is to sell cars.  You have to ask, how many cars can Toyota sell when the pinnacle of it's automotive technology can only muster a tenth place finish?


Ralf Schumacher is a Whiner

This is why Ralf Schumacher will never be a Formula One champion:
With the opening grand prix of the year in Australia less than two weeks away, an unhappy Schumacher said: "There is a gap to the front that we must now work hard to close." There is no point trying to hide it, but in all probability we are going to have a difficult year.
You will have a difficult year if you decide to have a difficult year.

New Rules

Get to know the new rules before the beginning of the season. This is from Yahoo:
* The most important change in the regulations for 2007 is that all teams will be supplied by one tyre manufacturer - Bridgestone.
Because of this expect lap times to be a couple of seconds slower than last year.

Did You Know

I love this "Did you Know" piece about Formula One from Yahoo:
* Ron Dennis, McLaren team principal and ranked 648 in the Sunday Times rich list, has his very own language, dubbed onspeak' in the Formula One paddock. The term is used to describe over-complex sentences and unrecognizable words used by Mr Dennis.
* Renault boss Flavio Briatore, who will be 57 next month, first started work as a ski instructor and then restaurant manager after initially gaining a diploma in land surveying.

F1 Preview

Don't miss this good Formula One team by team preview from Motorsports.com:n
It's a hope that Williams doesn't descend into privateer hell, as former good teams Tyrrell, Arrows, Ligier Prost, Brabham and Lotus did.  After the team's worst season in years, Cosworth engines were dumped for customer Toyotas.
I must say that the once mighty Williams has not looked like a world championship team these past few years. I think their last chance was with BMW engines.

NASCAR = Pro Wrestling

Are NASCAR races fixed so that certain drivers or teams win? This from Motorsports.com:
Juan Pablo Montoya had the honor of becoming the first Latin-American racer to score a NASCAR victory: the Columbian who moved from Formula One racing to run stock cars with his former CART now Champ Car) team owner Chip Ganassi, landed his first NASCAR Busch Series win today in Mexico City.
Isn't it pretty convenient that Montoya should win in Mexico City? In one of his first drives in NASCAR. And what about that push that NASCAR wants to make into other markets - like Latin America? Yeah, I know he's Colombian, but they don't race in Colombia ... yet.

I don't really believe the races are fixed, but what about the appearance that the races are fixed?  There are many casual race fans out there who may get the wrong impression. It's not enough to be scandal free, you have to also appear scandal free.Ed Hinton, appearing on last night's Wind Tunnel, also compared NASCAR to pro wrestling.

Mexico City Grand Am

Jon Fogerty and Alex Gurney won the Grand Am race in Mexico City.  It's unfortunate that they beat my wife's favorite driver, Max Papis, to do it. Here's a report.  This courtesy of Motorsports.com:
After stepping into the cockpit of the team's DP, Gurney kept gaining ground on Papis and with two laps remaining in today's second race of the season, Gurney watched as the Italian ace made a rare error.  Papis spun in the fifth turn and Gurney sailed by to take the checkered flag by a margin of 7.359-seconds.


Robin Miller is My Hero

Robin Miller says he gets fired for speaking the truth about motor racing.

    Telling the truth in the media is usually risk vs. reward. You risk losing money, friends and stability for taking a stand while the reward is the conviction of your reporting.

Miller and veteran racing journalist Ed Hinton are on Speed TV's Wind Tunnel tonight.


Aston Martin Sold

The rumors were true. Ford has sold Aston Martin to a consortium of buyers that includes former BAR manager and current Prodrive chairman David Richards. This Richards quote is from Yahoo:
"I'm already feeling very excited about the whole prospect and what can be done with it," he enthused. "To me it's the most wonderful English car brand there is out there. It stands for everything that is engineering excellence in Britain, and that great understated style that the Aston Martin product represents. I've been an admirer for many, many years, so now to be part of it is very important for me."
Co-owners include American banker John Sinders and Kuwaiti companies Investment Bar and Adeem Investment.


Ross Brawn to McLaren?

Could Ross Brawn, the fabulous Ferrari architect, be headed to McLaren?  Some British papers are reporting that Brawn may be working for McLaren in the near future. This is from Yahoo:
According to the Sunday Mirror, McLaren could be an attractive proposition for Brawn, as not only would Ron Dennis' team have the financial clout to tempt him, with a £1.8 million annual salary apparently up for grabs, but also they would be able to offer him a role which could also include 'other projects within the expanding McLaren empire'.
I think Brawn can get along with the massive ego of Ron Dennis, but can he get along with Alonso?