Like most American kids that grew up in the 80's I watched the Indy 500 every year and became interested in motorsports thanks to that race, but I didn't really get hooked until I started watching Formula 1 racing in the late 90's. My favorite era were those years with the great Mika Hakkinen/Michael Schumacher battles. (I was a Mika Hakkinen fan) So my fondness for Formula 1 waned once Mika retired and Schumacher started winning everything, even at the expense of his teammate Rubens Barrichello. My interest in F1 has only been lukewarm since.

Then I turned to Champ Car racing here in the US for my motorsports fix. However that was quickly extinguished once Champ Car and Indy Car merged and we were stuck with Tony George and his many foibles. (It was entertaining to watch the Hulman/George drama I'll admit.) My interest has been less than lukewarm with Indy Car lately, even without Tony George at the helm.

Over time however, the excitement I once had for motorsports has slowly gone. Maybe it has to do with my age, I don't know. But I think I will pour my efforts into my Trooper and my interests in the outdoors to add excitement to my life.

Thanks for checking out my blog, I hope you enjoy it. I will still post racing news when I find something interesting or noteworthy.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Oh, what a difference a year makes

(by Tony DiZinno 2-27-09)

Much has transpired since February of 2008 in the increasingly smaller world of American open-wheel racing. Akin to Pluto, it once formed a part of racing's solar system but has since been banished to levels of obscurity leaving its fans jilted and depressed and much of what made it great gone forever, hopes of sprouting again as likely as Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell collaborating on business ventures.

The current global economic crisis has left so many people out of work and the racing world in shambles that it makes it very difficult to see the positives for the future without enduring what will come the next few years. No one is immune to the downturn.

In simplest terms, IndyCar racing will be lucky to survive until or much past 2011, the centennial of its hallmark race, the Indianapolis 500. This is even assuming its much-ballyhooed new car comes to fruition and at least one more manufacturer arrives to challenge Honda.

Some of the recent trends in the series are eerily reminiscent of what happened this time the last two off-seasons in Champ Car. Failure to recognize history ensures a quicker path to pitfalls if the issues facing the current series aren't addressed. It's particularly ironic that the warning signs there led to Champ Car's demise, yet the same ones plaguing IndyCar are being attributed mainly to the economic crisis.

It could be argued Honda runs the show more than any of the series officials or CEO. They are in an interesting position at the moment given their departure from Formula One after funding and fielding their own works program without much success, and a lack of a title sponsor the last two seasons following the end of tobacco advertising in Europe. They also have their Acura ALMS programs to worry about.

Granted, at this time last year there were still two series with each struggling to surpass the mid-teens in terms of participation. The outlook was bleak on both ends until last February's unification that, in hindsight, appears a band-aid to greater problems. The ball was placed in Tony George and his staff's court and most observers agreed this was their chance to begin the recovery process caused by a devastating twelve-year schism after the Indy Racing League was first created.

There is the issue of canceled races. Surfers Paradise never really had much of a chance as a one-year adopted race with sticking points in dates it desired and IndyCar wanted, and justifying the travel expense for going overseas unless paired with the event in Motegi, Japan.

Detroit's cancellation in December could be the tip of the iceberg in terms of street races, which prove costly due to construction and money put forth by city infrastructures. It's hard enough for a street race to break even let alone make a profit, and a race like Long Beach that has withstood the test of time for over 30 years is more the exception than the norm for street venues.

On-track, the net "boom" in car count was obvious for the races the series ran united, save for the split Japan-Long Beach weekend in April. Anywhere from 24 to 28 cars took the green flag, and Indianapolis saw its usual 33 with serious bumping for the first time in roughly a half dozen years.

But for 2009, teams are being forced to scale back as a result of the economic climate, and having to raise more money for engine leases that transitioning teams didn't worry about in 2008.

As drivers and fans have related, and depending on how many cars IndyCar will lose for 2009, in two years there is a potential for a net loss of 16 cars. Average the 18 apiece for Champ Car and IndyCar in 2007 for a total of 36, and the worst case scenario for 2009 is 20 or less.

Rahal Letterman Racing is likely to focus their interests to ALMS and managing the Formula BMW Championship given their loss of backing from the American Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. While no official announcements have been made as yet, rumors swirl that KV Racing and Conquest Racing will act similar to their final year in Champ Car with one car apiece and a paying driver.

This not only means fewer opportunities to drive in the de facto premier American open-wheel series but the ones that do arise will again go to those who carry the fattest checkbooks, not the most talent. Something's wrong given that proven race winners and champions Paul Tracy, Justin Wilson, Oriol Servia, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Buddy Rice and Bruno Junqueira are all free agents, not to mention the pipeline of young talent in the feeder series.

It will be hard for the series to attract more sponsors given the economy and their new television contract on Versus. No matter what is spun, at a net loss of 20 million homes at the best case scenario, fewer viewers will tune in to the series' broadcasts. It doesn't matter if the finished, televised product is better if no-one knows about it or watches it.

DirecTV was a presenting sponsor of the series but given the Versus contract, a Comcast subsidiary (a DirecTV competitor), it had no choice but to withdraw given it would not want to support one of its rivals.

Promotion of the series remains non-existent or microscopic in this arena. Other than the Danica Patrick ads, the only commercials featuring IndyCar drivers were produced in-house, saying which driver was in which car and their interests. Versus is at least trying with a couple teaser ads that have populated the web in recent weeks but again, if it isn't being discovered, it isn't being watched.

Why Marco Andretti isn't dropping off a movie at a Blockbuster in his IndyCar or Graham Rahal ordering a Big Mac and saying RI'm lovin' itS is beyond me, but again, hard to justify for a company if there isn't light at the end of the tunnel.

Longing for the days of Vasser/Zanardi Target ads or Mario Andretti talking about putting Havoline in your car is a losing proposition when you realize those days aren't coming back.

The adoption of Champ Car's best assets seems to be non-existent, or at least seriously declining. Races picked up include only Long Beach, Toronto and Edmonton, with Surfers Paradise getting the ax after a one year non-points trial run.

For the most part, option tires, push-to-pass, and standing starts have not been discussed or implemented. Sponsorship pending, some of the teams that made the switch this year might be hard pressed to stay in for the long run.

There is also the prospect of a pseudo-Champ Car series rising from the ashes, though quite how given the current economic climate is somewhat baffling.

Ben Johnston, the Atlanta businessman who also recently purchased the assets of the Atlantic Championship, has proposed the GreenPrix USA Series, which will be older Champ Car chassis racing at Savannah, Ga. this March. Supposedly the program is a show up and drive type concept, but still in the development stages, without many official press releases.

To be fair to IndyCar though, it is the dog days of a long off-season that started in September (the non-points October race in Australia notwithstanding) and won't end until the first race in early April at St. Petersburg. News is slow to come in but until the change of the calendar and some minor sponsorship acquisitions, the end of 2008 closed with a bulk of bad news.

All told, the cautious optimism from the a year ago has descended into a stupefying realism that times will be worse for IndyCar racing in the immediate future before they get better. As Kevin Kalkhoven said at the start of the year, "Unification was the first step, but not a magic bullet to fixing all that ails the sport." Some witnessed the warning signs before Champ Car's demise and the timing of the economic crisis despite the unification cannot have helped IndyCar's long-term prospects.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Doornbos surprised by oval driving

(by Matt Beer 2-24-09)

Robert Doornbos admitted that he had been surprised by his first taste of oval driving after completing his maiden IndyCar Series test at Homestead last night.

The former Formula One driver joined fellow 2009 rookies Raphael Matos (Luczo Dragon), Mike Conway (Dreyer & Reinbold) and Stanton Barrett (3G) for an additional session on the Miami oval prior to the opening test of the season at Homestead tonight.

Doornbos, who completed his deal with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing last week, said the test had felt like his 'first day at school'.

"Driving on an oval is definitely different than I expected," he said after completing 111 laps during the evening.

"It felt like going to a new school on the first day. I didn't really know what to expect but I got a lot of information from the team but you have to do it for yourself.

"The first five laps I thought 'Oh my god, where did I end up?' But that's because you have to run at a certain pace and once you reach that pace its actually quite fun so we ended the day on a good note and I can go to bed with a smile.

"I already got the bug and want to go faster and faster so that's a good thing. Today was definitely the fastest I have gone in a race car and I am quite proud."

The Dutchman expects an even greater challenge tonight when 22 drivers are expected to take to the track for the six-hour floodlit session.

"I have no idea what to expect with traffic," said Doornbos. "It must be something like driving in the middle of the night in China, the traffic is quite bad there.

"I will just take it as it comes. It's a steep learning curve but I enjoy it like this."

Doornbos joins Newman/Haas/Lanigan

(by Matt Beer 2-20-09)

Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing have confirmed the signing of former Champ Car race winner and Formula One driver Robert Doornbos for the 2009 IndyCar Series.

The Dutchman raced in F1 for Minardi and Red Bull in 2005 and 2006, before moving to the Champ Car World Series with Minardi USA the following year.

He was immediately a front-runner in America, winning twice and taking third in the championship at the first attempt, but he was unable to find a drive when Champ Car and IndyCar merged last year, so instead raced in A1GP and the Superleague Formula.

"I'm very happy and proud to get this chance to race with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing," Doornbos said.

"Racing in the IndyCar Series has been my biggest dream and especially to do it with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. The history of the team and the big success they have had in the past really attracted me, and it makes me proud to become part of this winning team."

By the time Doornbos reached Champ Car, the series has dispensed with all its oval dates, so his first taste of oval driving will come in next week's Homestead test.

"Racing on the ovals should be very exciting," said the 27-year-old. "It will be tough, but I'm training as much as possible and am in good condition and ready to achieve results. I'm also excited to race in the legendary Indy 500.

"I really want to thank Mr Haas and Mr Lanigan for giving me this chance. I'm looking forward to the first race."

Doornbos had been linked with Newman/Haas/Lanigan for much of the winter, but it took until now to finalise his deal with the team, who had been struggling for sponsorship and had to release their 2008 driver Justin Wilson. The sponsor package for Doornbos's car has yet to be announced.

Team co-owner Carl Haas said he rated Doornbos highly after he pushed then-Newman/Haas/Lanigan driver Sebastien Bourdais hard in 2007.

"He was a fierce competitor in Champ Car, and we are hoping for the same in the IndyCar Series," said Haas.

"He was able to quickly adapt to the new challenges in Champ Car, which should bode well for the learning curve we will face in getting him acclimatised to oval racing."

Graham Rahal has already been signed for Newman/Haas/Lanigan's second car, and reports in America have also linked Milka Duno to a third entry from the team.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

F1 and America

(by Sean Kelly 2-24-09)

The United States has a long and storied history in the Formula 1 World Championship.

This great nation has produced two world champions, bankrolled the most important engine in the sport’s history, produced the tires on which drivers have won more than half the races ever held, given more racetracks to F1 than any other country, and seen the biggest ever raceday attendance in modern F1 history.

The association was there from the beginning. Harry Schell was the first American to start a Formula 1 race at Monaco in 1950 – the day the great Juan-Manuel Fangio took his maiden championship victory. Initially, the USA was considered so important that for the first 11 years, the World Championship included the Indianapolis 500 – even though it wasn’t even run to Formula 1 regulations. Great names like Billy Vukovich and Rodger Ward can still be found in the history books as race winners.

By 1957, Americans were finishing regularly on the F1 podium – Masten Gregory at Monaco, Schell again at Pescara. The great Enzo Ferrari recognized the talent that America could offer his team, and in consecutive seasons he would sign up two young drivers that became legends of the sport.

1958 saw Phil Hill make his bow with Ferrari, delighting the tifosi with a podium finish at Monza, while in 1959, the Commendatore gave a Formula 1 debut to Dan Gurney, who repaid his boss' faith by finishing on the podium in just his second race start.

However, it was Hill who became synonymous with Ferrari in that era, becoming the first American driver to win a Formula 1 World Championship event at the 1960 Italian Grand Prix – and becoming the last man ever to win a race using a front-engined car. Just 12 months later, Hill would be crowned as America’s first world champion driver, in the legendary sharknose 156.

As history left Hill’s greatest achievement behind, it was Gurney who would keep the US flag flying at the pinnacle of motorsport. His versatility was proven when he joined Stirling Moss as one of only two drivers to take the maiden victories for three different constructors – driving the air-cooled Porsche 804 to victory at the daunting Rouen track in 1962, repeating the triumph in 1964 for Jack Brabham’s eponymous team, and then at Spa in 1967, arguably the crowning achievement for national pride, a victory at Spa in his own All-American Racers Eagle.

Despite being the only driver whose ability Jim Clark truly feared, the world title would elude Gurney, but by this time, he was not the only American representative. Californian Richie Ginther would drive to victory at Mexico in 1965, giving the Honda team their first ever F1 win, but it was also the first ever success for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber company.

The most important engine ever built for Formula 1 was only made possible by American involvement. The Cosworth DFV V8 engine would never have happened if it wasn’t for the investment from the Ford Motor Company in Detroit.

The engine won first time out with Jim Clark at Zandvoort in 1967, and went on to power the world champions in 12 of the next 15 seasons, racking up a massive 155 wins along the way, the most ever for a single series of engine.

It was in the late sixties that a new wave of American drivers flooded the F1 market. Mario Andretti may have won the 1967 Daytona 500 and the 1969 Indy 500, but in between he took time out to take pole position for the 1968 US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen – one of only three drivers ever to start his F1 debut from the pole. By 1971 he was racing and winning for Enzo Ferrari.

He was joined in F1 by New York playboy Peter Revson, who in 1973 had the distinction of winning two races for an American team boss, using an American engine, on American tires.

The team was Mclaren, and the boss was Teddy Mayer. Under his stewardship in the aftermath of Bruce Mclaren’s death, Mayer was instrumental in the world championship success of both Emerson Fittipaldi in 1974, and James Hunt in 1976. He was the team boss who would sell his share of the team to an up-and-coming Formula 2 team principal called Ron Dennis, laying the foundations for the team that Lewis Hamilton will defend his world title with in 2009.

Mayer was not the only American to be found on the pitwall during this time. Parnelli Jones’ eponymous entry was first seen in 1974, driven by none other than former rival Mario Andretti. The Torrance, CA based team were never able to score a win, with a solitary fastest lap being their major claim to fame.

(John Watson and the Penske machine in Austria 1976)

However, further down the pitlane, the Pennsylvania-based Roger Penske was soon to make the breakthrough that Parnelli couldn’t achieve, when Northern Ireland’s John Watson took a famous victory at the Osterreichring in 1976.

1978 would be a banner year for American F1 involvement, as Mario Andretti took full advantage of Colin Chapman’s ground-effect Lotus 79 to win the world championship, with some major contributions from both Ford engines and Goodyear tires.

Andretti was in the latter stages of his F1 career by then, but made a dramatic return to Formula 1 in 1982, replacing the injured Didier Pironi at Ferrari, as the Commendatore once again staked his fortunes on American talent. He would not be disappointed, as a 42-year-old Andretti took pole on his Ferrari return at Monza, and finished on the podium.

The 80s were a fallow time for American drivers, with Arizona’s Eddie Cheever providing the only success story, scoring regular podium finishes as teammate to Alain Prost at Renault in 1983, and even racing for Carl Haas’ FORCE Lola F1 team at Detroit in 1986, with Teddy Mayer as his team boss. He would finish on the podium in his home country on three different occasions.

Cheever certainly had plenty of opportunities to race in front of a home crowd, as the USA has provided nine different venues for Formula 1 races, more than any other country. They include such legendary circuits as Watkins Glen, Long Beach, and of course Indianapolis Motor Speedway. America has hosted 51 Formula 1 events, beaten only by marquee nations in F1 history – Britain, France, Monaco and Belgium, all of whom held races in the inaugural season of 1950 – alongside Germany, with it’s famed Nurburgring and Hockenheim circuits.

1993 saw the appearance of IndyCar champion Michael Andretti as teammate to three-time world champion Ayrton Senna at the Mclaren team. Seemingly a perfect platform for his undoubted talent, Andretti’s move to F1 didn’t work out, but he did provide a brief display of what might have been by finishing third at Monza, 15 years after his father Mario clinched the world championship at the same circuit, and a track synonymous with American F1 achievements. To this day, it remains the last time an American has climbed onto an F1 podium.

The late 80s and early 90s saw America’s technical achievements rule the world. In a ten-year period, Goodyear tires won 177 out of 178 races, and when they finally withdrew from the sport in 1998 they had recorded 368 victories, more than double the wins of any other tire supplier. Throw in the 49 wins recorded by the rivals Firestone, and more than half the races in the history of Formula 1 have been won by drivers on American tires.

The era of Ford customer teams was drawing to a close during this time, but the company proved that they were still capable of competing with the very best. In 1994 Germany’s Michael Schumacher clinched the first of what would prove to be a record-breaking seven world championships, using a Benetton powered by a Ford engine.

(the 2000 USGP at Indianapolis)

Despite these technical successes, the US had been without any driver representation since 1993, but any notion that Americans were losing interest in Formula 1 was debunked in September 2000, when the sport returned to the USA after a nine-year absence. More than 225,000 people filled the stands at Indianapolis, making it the largest raceday crowd in the modern era of F1 racing.

In recent years, American F1 fans may have looked back on all this successes, these great moments in the history of global motorsport, and wondered…. when will our next chapter be written, and what will it say? The answer is finally here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hunter-Reay still looking for work

(by John Oreovicz 2-18-09)

Here's a question to get Indy racing fans thinking:

Who is the only driver to have won races under CART, Champ Car and Indy Racing League sanction?

There's only one. And it's not Paul Tracy, no matter how much some people still believe that PT was the winner of the 2002 Indianapolis 500.

Here's a hint: He's articulate, ambitious and American.

And he's unemployed.

Welcome to Ryan Hunter-Reay's world. In 2008, he completed modern Indy car racing's trifecta by driving Rahal Letterman Racing's IndyCar Series entry to victory at Watkins Glen International, then capped the season by finishing third in the unofficial series finale at Surfers Paradise, Australia.

Yet when the 2009 IndyCar Series kicks off Feb. 24-25 with an open test at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Hunter-Reay will probably still be logging cell phone minutes instead of seat time.

His 1½-year tenure with Rahal Letterman came to an end when the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council ceased operation, ending its three-year sponsorship of RLR's Indy Car program. With no alternate funding on the horizon, team owner Bobby Rahal had no choice but to cut Hunter-Reay loose.

It's a reality of racing that the 28-year-old Floridian has gotten used to.

"It was the worst feeling," Hunter-Reay said. "Unfortunately, I've been somewhat accustomed to that over the years -- funding falling through at teams. It's not something I am happy about being accustomed to, but unfortunately I am."

Maybe that's why even though Hunter-Reay is unlikely to be in a car at Homestead, his attitude remains positive and upbeat.

American Spirit Team Johansson folded after one season during which Hunter-Reay won a CART race as a rookie (Surfers Paradise 2003); RHR led all 250 laps to win the Champ Car race at the Milwaukee Mile in 2004 but it wasn't enough to save his seat when sponsor Herdez pulled out; and a confidence-sapping 2005 campaign with Rocketsports Racing put Ryan out of open-wheel racing for most of 2006.

He made the most of the opportunity when Rahal made a driver change in mid-2007, dropping Jeff Simmons in favor of Hunter-Reay. In just six IndyCar starts, Hunter-Reay earned enough points to claim the series' rookie of the year honors.

The momentum carried into 2008, with RHR claiming ROY honors at Indy and coming close to winning at Texas Motor Speedway before a late crash with Marco Andretti. Consistency was an issue, with ten top-10 finishes offset by seven in 15th place or lower.

Rahal and his COO, Scott Roembke, indicated that Hunter-Reay would be their first choice if they find funding. And Ryan has only positive things to say about his 23-race stint with the team.

"The most unfortunate thing is that was really the first year in my racing career that I had a really great chemistry with the team," he said. "I loved the guys I was working with and the engineer I was working with, and things were starting to build up and flowing our way.

"It's just so unfortunate to not have that continuity when you could actually feel it moving forward and feel the progress happening. It's unfortunate, but such is life and off to the next opportunity."

It's a fact of life that Indy car racing has become a pay-to-play game if you are not already connected to one of the sport's big three teams -- Ganassi Racing, Team Penske and Andretti Green Racing. Hunter-Reay confirmed that he was in the running for the Penske seat that could potentially open up depending on the outcome of Helio Castroneves' tax evasion trial.

Penske selected Australian Will Power as Castroneves' replacement in waiting.

"I spoke to them, as did Justin Wilson and Will," said Hunter-Reay. "I think they had three of us in line there and it was a great group to be in. Those guys are very talented and I know the Penske organization really put a lot of thought into it. There are not that many times in your career where there is the potential of a seat at Penske opening up.

"I really look up to Penske and how they could have easily jettisoned Castroneves at the hint of bad press or controversy," he added. "And they are staying behind him to the last hour."

Hunter-Reay can only wish he could have enjoyed that kind of loyalty throughout his open-wheel career. He has fielded sports car offers this offseason, but doesn't want to give up on the Indy circuit quite yet.

"I've had Grand Am offers, but … I'm an Indy car guy," he said. "That's what I want to do and I've really worked hard my entire career to make it happen. Last year we had some momentum with a great team, even with only one car. A lot of tracks were new to me last year, Indy being one of them, but we showed up and did a great job each weekend for the most part.

"I did what I could last year to create some stability and be a legitimate name in the series," Hunter-Reay continued. "And that's what I'm working to do. The Indy car fans have been great. I'm happy to say that I think last year I did pick up a lot of fan support. Being an American and having won a race and being a threat every weekend, it was big for me, it was big for the team and I think it was big for the series."

Still, with the season looming, a winning, marketable driver is working the phones, 10 hours a day, just trying to keep his career alive.

"It's just unfortunate that it's two weeks before the open test and I'm fighting every day working different angles, business to business deals, whatever I can," he said. "The league has been very supportive. We're working every day until the last day. The water level is rising and we're treading."

His best bet would seem to be a return to HVM Racing, which is entering its second season in the IndyCar Series and hopes to add a second car alongside EJ Viso. Other teams with 2009 programs that aren't finalized include KV Racing, Dale Coyne Racing, Conquest Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

"I had a great time with [HVM] in Champ Car -- we had that Milwaukee win and some other promising races there," Hunter-Reay said. "I believe that team can do a good job with the right program, with the right resources available to them. I really respect Keith Wiggins as a team owner and I have a relationship with the guys, not only with the engineering room, but on the car.

"So it's a logical potential pairing," he concluded. "With that said I am speaking to a couple of teams. Every day, for 10 hours we're just working -- anything we can do to narrow the gap to make ends meet. I'm tapping all my resources; they are tapping all of their contacts. We're really trying to be proactive and make this thing work."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Unifying influence part 2

(by Tim Harms 2-18-09)

Let the real first season begin.

IndyCar Series teams return to the track Feb. 24-25, marking the first time since unification was announced last February that all teams will participate together at an Open Test.

With last year's unification announcement coming just days before pre-season testing, teams and drivers new to the IndyCar Series spent months playing catch-up. They missed the February Open Test at Homestead-Miami and had a separate Open Test at Sebring, Fla. They went deep into the season preparing back-up cars and learning the nuances of the chassis and diverse racetracks.

Through those challenges emerged standout performances from the teams/drivers that transitioned to the IndyCar Series, including victories by Graham Rahal in his first race and Justin Wilson.

Overall, there were five first-time winners and a series record-tying nine winners. Thirteen drivers earned a podium finish and 21 recorded a top-five finish. The upcoming season, which kicks off April 5 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, looks to be more competitive.

"It's definitely going to be tougher," said seven-year veteran Vitor Meira, who moves to A.J. Foyt Racing in 2009. "With the off-season that we have, the new teams have had a lot of time to think, a lot of time to correct their mistakes. Since their learning curve is higher than ours, they're going to be able to start in better shape than last year."

Schedule alterations include the addition of two street courses with long, successful histories in Long Beach, Calif., and Toronto. Winners in the 25-year Indy car history at Long Beach include Mario and Michael Andretti, Al Unser Jr., Helio Castroneves and Will Power. Indy car racing in Toronto dates to 1967 with winners including A.J. Foyt, Michael Andretti (seven times) and 2007 IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti.

"Unification was the best thing that could've happened for open-wheel racing in North America," said Will Power, who signed with Team Penske for 2009 after recording five top-10 finishes in 2008. "With one series, I think it's created a lot more interest in the sport and I see that momentum building even stronger in 2009. We now have the best drivers competing in one series, and that's caused all of us to really step up our game to be the most competitive we can be out on the track."

Franchitti returns to the IndyCar Series after competing one year in stock cars as teammate to 2008 champion Scott Dixon, marking the first time consecutive Indianapolis 500 winners and series champions will be teammates.

"I'm very excited to be coming back to the IndyCar Series," Franchitti said. "I think the unified series is excellent news. I think the schedule was a big part of my decision, plus the chance to drive for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, which is a great team.

"I watched a lot from a distance last year to see what was happening. You saw the potential of the new teams, with Graham winning at St. Pete. I think as those teams get more and more used to the regulations in the IndyCar Series, you're going to see the field get even more competitive, the drivers get more used to driving on ovals. It's going to be tough. I said to Scott recently, 'We're going to have to have everything together.' "

Off the track, unification's benefits include an uncluttered sales landscape, additional television exposure and increased marketing opportunities for the series, tracks and sponsors.

"From a commercial standpoint, unification continues to bring unparalleled successes," said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division of the sanctioning Indy Racing League. "Previously, half of our battle was trying to explain the differences between two racing series. That battle is gone and doors are opening much easier now.

"On the television side, we have redefined our partnership with ESPN/ABC and added a partner in VERSUS. For the first time, we're going to see a significant amount of programming in the month leading into our season and a significant amount of ancillary programming during our season. This unprecedented exposure will pay immense dividends."

Tracks and sponsors also benefit by having more time to promote more drivers on their materials.

"2008 was very exciting, a history-making season," Angstadt said. "We think 2009 will be even more so."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Unifying influence

(by Dave Lewandowski 2-16-09)

(First of two parts)

"We are unified." The words hung in the hallways of the Indy Racing League office like smoke from an artillery skirmish (a metaphor occasionally used for the divergent paths traveled by the IndyCar Series and Champ Car the previous dozen years).

If there would have been champagne on ice that late Friday afternoon last February, office protocol would have been broken. A brief round of applause and congratulations offered to those who negotiated unification of North American open-wheel racing under Indy Racing League sanctioning sufficed.

"Everyone recognized that unification was the single most important thing that needed to happen to lay the foundation for the future growth of open-wheel racing," said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and operations for the Indy Racing League.

Inasmuch as positives would be far-reaching and long term, a multitude of tasks were immediate and imperative. Between the signing of the agreement Feb. 22 and the official news conference five days later during an Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway, mobilization of materials and paperwork necessary for former Champ Car teams to compete in the diverse 2008 IndyCar Series campaign (which had been set into motion weeks earlier) began in earnest.

The process wasn't without logistical headaches with the season quickly approaching. But the community spirit inherent in motorsports eased a mechanic's frustrations about a bolt gone astray or how part A fit into slot B without the use of a mallet, and 25 were on the starting grid for the highly-anticipated opening race.

"There was plenty of opportunity to have not lived up to anyone's expectations," said Tony George, the Indy Racing League's founder and its CEO. "Given the late opportunity, there was a tremendous amount of challenge to be overcome. But everyone pulled together and made sure that the equipment was in the hands of the teams so they could go about their business.

"After we got through the first couple of races, it was always my feeling that byIndianapolis we would really start to come together, and I think we did. Getting to Indianapolis, you had a couple of weeks of practice and four days of qualifying and then a 500-mile race with the big stage and the spotlight on everybody. I think it kind of settled everyone and that's when we started coming together as one."

New stars emerge

"One series, all the stars" was more than a moniker applied to the new face of the IndyCar Series. Certainly, the competition level increased with the infusion of numerous talented drivers, while personalities emerged to become instant fan favorites and capture worldwide attention.

That was driven home the second week of the season at St. Petersburg when 19-year-old Graham Rahal became the youngest race winner in IndyCar Series history. Two weeks later, Danica Patrick provided another historic moment by becoming the first female winner of a major closed-circuit auto racing event.

Overall, there were five first-time winners, two rookies posting their first victories and a series record-tying nine winners in the 17 races. Thirteen drivers earned a podium finish and 21 recorded a top-five finish.

Scott Dixon prevailed in the championship chase by a scant 17 points over Helio Castroneves - a season-long battle punctuated by the second-closest finish in series history (Castroneves edging Dixon by 0.0033 of a second) in the final race after Dixon held a 78-point advantage with three races remaining.

"When you look at the competitive nature on the racetrack, it just shows you the depth of the field and the quality of teams and drivers that are now in a unified open-wheel series," Barnhart said.

Unification on the track also meant 26 full-season cars and 14 full-season teams (28 cars was the high-water mark outside the traditional 33 at Indianapolis).

"A lot of those transition teams were very good teams anyway, and it didn't take them too long to be competitive," said Dan Wheldon, a two-time race winner in '08 and the 2005 IndyCar Series champion. "I just expect another competitive season, which the IndyCar Series always seems to produce."

Numbers increase across the board

Impressive numbers also were posted with stronger at-track attendance (12 of 16 events where the IndyCar Series raced in 2007 were up, according to media estimates), increased television ratings (up an average of 11 percent from 2007 across ABC/ESPN/ESPN2), a 25 percent increase in merchandise sales, a 33 percent surge in visitors and several new corporate partnerships (Coca-Cola, PEAK Motor Oil, IZOD).

Each event on the 2008 IndyCar Series schedule featured an event entitlement, minus the Indy 500, and teams saw an increase in sponsorship interest and participation. Unification was the galvanizing factor in many of the increases and opportunities, which will continue to unfold.

"I think unification was a long time coming, but it's now behind us and we have a very deep and competitive field of cars," George said. "We're all looking forward to this next season. There will be some challenges pulling things together, but we've been through the biggest challenge and I think that was pulling it together at all."

One could say that the 2009 IndyCar Series campaign -- with everyone on a more equal field of competition from the start -- will be the true first season of unification.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

New forumula? Read between the lines

(by John Oreovicz 2-13-09)

Over the last year or so, there has been a lot of hopeful talk within the IndyCar Series about the implementation of a new engine and chassis formula for the 2011 season, which would happen to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the first running of the Indianapolis 500.

There is no question that IndyCar needs a new formula. The current Dallara chassis, which has by default become the only chassis for every race in the IndyCar Series except the Indy 500, was introduced in 2003. Similarly, Indy car racing currently features one available engine -- a 3.5-liter normally aspirated V-8 produced by Honda Performance Development.

In short, Indy car racing has devolved into a spec car formula -- a sad state of affairs for anyone who is familiar with the Indianapolis 500's rich tradition of diversity and technological innovation. From the 1940s through the 1970s the Indy field featured upwards of a dozen varieties of chassis and numerous engine choices, some as radical as four-wheel drive gas turbines. As recently as the 1990s, participants could choose between at least three different chassis, as well as multiple engine and tire manufacturers.

It's not a stretch to say that the current Dallara-Honda package, though relatively economical to buy and run in comparison to the cars that competed in CART-sanctioned Indy car racing in the late 1990s, isn't very popular with open-wheel racing fans. A quick perusal of Indy racing internet forums shows the descriptions that pop up more than any others are "ugly" and "unpleasantly loud."

In other words, a new formula for the IndyCar Series can't happen soon enough. And to their credit, Indy Racing League officials are hard at work to make it happen as quickly as possible.

Over the last eight months, a series of roundtable meetings have been held with auto manufacturers in an effort to craft a new engine formula for the future that will ring true with the street-car industry and encourage participation from multiple brands. (It is likely that Dallara will be retained as the only chassis supplier, to the consternation of some).

This week, IRL leaders, along with Honda Performance Development general manager Erik Berkman, provided an update on how the process was moving along. The encouraging news that emerged is that several prestigious brands continue to show interest in participating in the IndyCar Series when the new formula is introduced. The downside is that progress is clearly slow. And combined with the sudden and drastic downturn in the auto industry, the likelihood is that the new formula will not be implemented until 2012 -- or later.

The IRL didn't disclose specifics about the future engine's basic architecture. However, the league did reveal some details, including:

• A four-stroke design with reciprocating pistons
• Displacement of 2.0 liters or less
• Dual-overhead camshaft with four valves per cylinder
• Single turbocharger systems will be permitted
• Direct injection systems will be permitted
• Engine life between rebuilds of 3,750 miles

Beyond that, the rest is subject to speculation. However, close examination of the IRL press release and analysis of the comments made by Honda's Berkman and IRL executives Brian Barnhart and Terry Angstadt reveals further clues.

Statement: "The progressive and industry-groundbreaking engine specification planning process was introduced … to bring about expanded engine manufacturers' participation in the IndyCar Series …"

What it means: Honda was forced by default into the role of sole engine supplier for the IndyCar Series when Toyota and Chevrolet abruptly withdrew at the end of the 2005 season. The IRL was fortunate that HPD had the ability to supply the full field, but Honda wants and needs competition. Achieving 100 percent reliability is a worthy goal that Honda has come remarkably close to achieving, but that isn't enough to keep the company involved as the lone engine manufacturer. The problem the IRL faces is that Honda dominated both CART and IndyCar Series competition and the league must convince incoming manufacturers that its new formula will not be created by Honda, for Honda. Hence the invitation to provide input during the rulemaking process.

Statement: "… unprecedented OEM and race engine designer input …"

What it means: There is truth in this statement. Most of the time in racing, a sanctioning body lays out a set of rules and waits for the manufacturers to decide if they want to build a product to that formula. The IndyCar Series is allowing the manufacturers -- both car makers as well as racing engine specialists like Cosworth and Ilmor -- to provide feedback during the rulemaking process.

Statement: "Five engine manufacturers … continue to participate in the IndyCar Series Automotive Manufacturers Roundtables."

What it means: The IRL says that nine major car makers and six racing engine specialists participated in the initial 2011 engine formula meetings, and from that group, five OEMs -- Honda (via HPD), Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen and Fiat Powertrain Technologies -- are still involved. That's a bit misleading; Porsche is now the majority owner of the Volkswagen Group, of which Audi is the premium brand. So let's narrow that number down to three, because the VW Group is unlikely to enter Indy car racing under more than one brand name. Early betting is that the brand will be Volkswagen; Porsche is synonymous with sports car racing, and the main reason for speculation about Audi's withdrawal from full-time participation in the American Le Mans Series is that the company doesn't want to be beaten by Honda-owned Acura's stepped-up LMP1 program. It stands to reason that Audi would not want to compete against the more pedestrian Honda brand in Indy cars. If the IRL wanted to create the image of even more manufacturer participation in the roundtables, it could have listed Acura as a potential competitor, as well as Fiat's Alfa Romeo brand, which hopes to return to the U.S. market in the near future.

Statement: "Plans for introducing the new engine specifications … remain an ongoing process … engine specifications are expected to be finalized within the next several months …"

What it means: There seems to be no question that the new Indy car engine will feature four or six cylinders. Honda has reportedly lobbied for a V-6 configuration, while the other manufacturers are believed to favor a four-cylinder layout. Though a V-4 configuration has popped up in media reports, an inline-4 is much more likely; although V-4 engines are used in motorcycle racing, there has not been a V-4 street car application since the funky Saab 96 went out of production in the mid-1970s. And a relevance to road car technology is high on the IRL's wish list.

Statement: "… new engine architecture will align with the direction being taken by the automotive manufacturers around the world as they strive for more efficient and environmentally responsible smaller displacement engines."

What it means: You can probably discount the V-4, as stated above. The Volkswagen Group's bread-and-butter engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, as seen in the VW GTI and the Audi A4. Honda also equips the Acura RDX mini SUV with a turbo-4, yet still reportedly favors a turbo V-6. Turbochargers have many benefits in racing, including the ability to regulate boost levels to provide power appropriate for different tracks used in the IndyCar Series. They also act like a muffler, which would address the noise complaints about the current normally aspirated V-8. Direct injection was first developed for diesel engines, but is increasingly featured in gasoline-powered road cars. Although Indy Car Series engines will continue to be ethanol-powered, switching to DI would create a link to street-car technology.

Statement: "… has also been investigating innovative ways to partner its teams with the manufacturers …"

What it means: The IRL wants to avoid the situation that contributed to CART's demise in the late '90s when Toyota began throwing money at teams and Honda was forced to follow suit. That business model followed those manufacturers to the IndyCar Series in 2003 and dramatically drove up the cost of competing in the series, driving out many of the "little guy" teams the IRL supposedly was founded to benefit. The IRL wants to avoid having one manufacturer gravitate to the most competitive teams, and will likely find a way to make sure that Penske, Ganassi and Andretti Green do not all end up with the same engine. The league will also be looking to its participating manufacturers for significant marketing support.

Statement: "… maintaining the series' position as a leader in the use of ethanol bio-fuel …"

What it means: IndyCar appears committed to ethanol, despite the fact that it is losing its luster in the U.S. market in the wake of rising corn (and falling gasoline) prices. Additional controversy was stirred when the IRL struck a marketing deal with APEX-Brasil that will see the series transition from corn- to sugarcane-based ethanol. Being perceived as "green" is certainly honorable and somewhat trendy, but as long as ethanol is viewed as a bit of a political hot potato, fully investing in the technology may not be in the league's best interest.

Statement: "… beginning as early as the 2011 season …"

What it means: Three seemingly innocent words ("as early as") were the most important information in the update the IRL provided to the media. Sad to say it now appears probable that there will not be a new IndyCar formula until 2012 at the earliest, and that's an eternity for a series that could really use a technical shake-up to generate interest on many fronts.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Just sign here

(by Dave Lewandowski 2-13-09)

An open letter to Formula One drivers.

Dear sirs.

Know that IndyCar Series teams would welcome your participation in the 2009 or beyond season should you follow FIA president Max Mosley's suggestion of looking elsewhere to ply your trade.

Please note that an IndyCar Series license fee is only $1,000 (U.S.) - a bargain that includes your/three guest hard cards for venue admittance, participant accident medical insurance coverage and other benefits. There are no closing fees, user fees, points fees or even landing fees for your aircraft.

Indy Racing League management

Yeah, so the letter is fictitious; just a hopefully humorous comparison of license fees for sanctioning bodies. Mosley this week dismissed F1 drivers' protests of increased license fees, essentially telling them to go elsewhere if they don't pay the rate.

"A driver who does not want, or even cannot afford to pay for, a Formula One super license thus has many alternatives," Mosley wrote to the Grand Prix Drivers Association this week. "Apart from Formula One, there are a large number of series and championships where a professional racing driver can earn a good, sometimes very good, living."

The IndyCar Series, with its more diverse schedule and on-track competition than F1, would be such a destination. And it only costs $1,000 a year to be a member in good standing. By the way, a NASCAR license is $4,000 and the most recent Champ Car World Series license was $2,500.

Protests began before last season, when the price of a mandatory license quintupled to $12,800, while fees drivers have to pay for each championship point earned rose from $612 to $2,566. For 2009, another $514 was added to the license fee and $128 to each point fee. Additionally, a compulsory license insurance charge of $3,500 was added. An Associated Press story noted that world champion Lewis Hamilton will have to pay almost $280,000 to compete this year. Of course, the Brit hauled in more than $25 million (U.S.) in '08.

The Grand Prix Drivers Association is seeking to negotiate charges with the FIA. Mosley said future increases would follow inflation, and that the marked rise was necessary to cover safety costs.

"It seems reasonable they should make a tax-deductible contribution to the safety and running of the sport from which they benefit so greatly," Mosley said.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Brumos Racing wins Rolex 24 at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (AP) - Juan Pablo Montoya said he felt like he had brought a knife to a gunfight.

Montoya and his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates went into the 47th Rolex 24 going for an unprecedented fourth straight victory for their car owner, but it was David Donohue and the long-suffering Brumos Porsche team that came out on top.

Donohue was at the wheel of the winning car in the last hour Sunday, chasing down and passing NASCAR star Montoya just 41 minutes from the finish, then holding the former IndyCar and Formula One driver off by the closest margin in race history.

The victory came on the 40th anniversary of a victory by Donohue's late father at Daytona International Speedway.

It was the biggest win of his career for Donohue, who started from the pole in the team's Porsche Riley on Saturday afternoon. He combined with former Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice, Antonio Garcia and Darren Law to win.

"We ran hard the whole time" said Donohue, son of Indy 500 winner Mark Donohue, who died in 1975 after a crash during a Formula One test. The son was just 8 years old at the time.

"It's a good story line but, to be perfectly honest, he's been gone for quite some time and our guys have done the hard work and putting in the effort to win this race," Donohue added. "I'm certainly really very proud of my father and his accomplishments and what he's done, and just coincidentally we happened to nail it on the 40th anniversary of his win.

"But I feel more of an attachment to the effort my guys have put in and Brumos. ... That's where my heart is, to be honest."

Four Daytona Prototypes, including the third-place sister Brumos Porsche - co-driven by six-time Daytona winner Hurley Haywood, J.C. France, son of NASCAR board member Jim France, Terry Borcheller and Joao Barbosa - finished on the lead lap in an event that had only once before had two cars on the lead lap.

The Ganassi drivers insisted that the Porsches had a big advantage on power, particularly on the portion of the 3.56-mile road circuit that encompasses about three-fourths of the 2 1/2-mile NASCAR oval.

"I said before the race that if the Porsches don't have any problems they're going to beat us," said Montoya, who had combined with teammates Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas to win his first two Rolex 24s. "Every stint, apart from the last one, they drove away from us. We did what we could. I gave it 110 percent."

Donohue and his teammates pooh-poohed the supposed power advantage.

"There's no doubt we had good top end, but you really had to know how to use it," Donohue said, crediting former NASCAR driver and IROC test driver Dave Marcis with teaching him the art of passing on Daytona's high banks. "I've done a lot of testing here with the IROC guys.

"It's different cars, but the principles still apply. That's how I was able to do it, to be honest with you. I couldn't just sit there and drive by. You really had to plan it."

Law called the Ganassi team's gripes sour grapes, noting, "They crossed the line 50 feet behind us and it was a fight the whole way through."

The winners completed 735 laps, a total of 2,616.6 miles.

Montoya replaced teammate Pruett in the cockpit of the Ganassi Lexus Riley with about 2 1/2 hours left and appeared to be in control after he took the lead during the 23rd hour.

A record 25 full-course cautions kept things close and the final yellow of the grueling race came out for debris with just over one hour to go. All four of the lead-lap cars took the opportunity to make their final pit stops.

Donohue replaced Garcia in the driver's seat of the No. 58 car during the stop and somehow managed to stay right behind Montoya as they left the pits.

When the green flag waved with 53 minutes to go, Donohue went after the more experienced Montoya, nearly passing him several times over a period of several laps. They nearly bumped at least once before Donohue finally took advantage of slower GT class traffic to slip past the Lexus into the lead on lap 710.

"It was just a matter of getting into some traffic at some point," Montoya said. "I was actually surprised to stay with them. I drove my butt off to see if they would make a mistake. They made a couple of mistakes, but their car was so comfortable for them there was nothing we could do."

Montoya chased Donohue to the finish but wound up 0.167-seconds behind, a record, and only about four car lengths back. The fourth-place Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor, Max Angelelli, Pedro Lamy and Brad Friselle was 7.589 seconds off the pace and in sight of the winners.

The previous closest 1-2 finish was 30.879 seconds in 2000 when a Dodge Viper held off a Chevrolet Corvette.

The second Ganassi entry, co-driven by IndyCar stars Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti — the fourth member of last year's winning team — and Alex Lloyd, had problems in the early morning hours Sunday and wound up fifth, four laps behind the winners.

Roger Penske, who owned the car in which Mark Donohue won the 1969 race, was back at Daytona and racing in the Grand-Am Rolex Series with a new Porsche Riley after winning the last two championships in the rival American Le Mans Series. The trio of Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Ryan Briscoe led several times in the early going, but fell to sixth and finished 18 laps off the pace after having to replace a broken rear end Sunday morning.

Jimmie Johnson, the three-time reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion whose team finished second here a year ago, had some bad luck early in the Pontiac Riley he shares with former CART champion Jimmy Vasser, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty. Johnson stopped Saturday night to have a broken tail light replaced and wound up having the gearbox replaced after he broke the transmission trying to get the car in gear. The team wound up seventh, 21 laps behind.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Are things looking up for A1GP?

(from 1-25-2009)

A1GP's future looks a lot rossier with an announcement expected of a wealthy investor piling some of his millions into the troubled series.

Debate about the sport's longevity has been circulating since one of it's founding investors, Sheik Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum of the Dubai royal family walked away from A1GP in 2006.

That intensified when RAB Capital, which paid the sheik US$200 million for an 80 percent stake in A1GP, was virtually brought to it's knees by the current economic crisis. Matters were not helped by the cost of the new Ferrari engines in all the cars. Ferrari's parent Fiat sued late last year to impound the new cars as A1GP owed it $2 million.

This weekend's round in Taupo is the first since Malaysia in November and some speculated it might be the last. Forumla 1, the World Rally Championships and Moto GP are feeling the crunch. Some say A1GP has survived this long only through the energy and creativity of chairman Tony Teixeira, who owns almost half the teams, and cheif executive Pete da Silva.

But Team New Zealand owner Colin Giltrap said a white knight was about to be revealed to save the World Cup of Motorsport.

"If you had asked me two weeks ago, I would have been downbeat [about a1GP's future]," Giltrap said. "They were vert tight for money three to four weeks ago.

"It had a little bit of a hiccup because RAB Capital got caught like a lot of international merchant banks and they had to withdraw the funding to A1 but there is definitely a new funder coming in.

"I think there will be a big announcement next month of a large capital injection from another shareholder. It's being finalised at the moment. The new shareholder is a multi, multi-millionaire from the Far East who probably has access to more money [than the sheik]."

Da Silva was a little more circumspect about a new deal but said they were in talks with a number of potential shareholders.

"A1GP is not in jeopardy," Da Silva told the Herald on Sunday. "We have a few people who are very, very interested in the series.

"We have been very cautious. I don't want to take just anyone's money, even in this climate. I want to make sure whoever comes on board is not just adding financial value but falls in line with our strategic intent.

"There are at least three groups looking at A1GP in a serious way. I believe we could see [an announcement] in the next eight weeks. But in these markets nothing is sure until it is signed off."

Assuming investors are found, it will be a relief to the 22 teams involved from countries from India to Ireland and Canada and China.

The concept of country racing country appeals to many, especially given it comes down largely to driver skill and a team's slickness in the pits rather than the team with the biggest bank balance.

It costs about $7 million a season to run a team, which pales in comparison to the almost $1 billion spent by F1 teams annually.

Interestingly, Formula 1 has adopted a number of changes, like control tyres and control engines and one manufacturer supplying the engines and have even talked about introducing medals for drivers who reach the podium, bringing it closer to A1GP.

Although costs are drastically smaller than F1, da Silva has said they lost US$240 million in the first season. Now into it's fourth season, A1 is still not making money.

"I have a business plan that sees us go into profitability in year five," da Silva said. "A lot of people tend to compare us to more established series like Formula 1 or Moto GP. Both are in their old age and celebrating 60 years of existence. We are only four years old.

"Our strategy from day one was affordability. I run 22 cars for less than the cheapest team runs two cars in Formula 1. Our costs are much lower but our revenues are much lower. We are a young series."

Although Taupo loses money for A1GP, most tracks are now profitable, including the likes of Mexico, Portugal and England.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

IndyCar magazine goes bye-bye

(posted on 1-31-2008 after learning that the IndyCar magazine has ceased publication due to lack of interest)

We regret to inform you that IndyCar Series magazine will cease publication with immediate effect. Unfortunately, the last print issue was the 2008 Season Review and the last digital-only issue was the Mid-Winter 2008 Special, published December 2008.

Haymarket Worldwide would like to thank you for being a loyal subscriber and supporting the magazine.

For a limited time, you can still enjoy all the IndyCar Series free digital back-issues available on the Digital Archive page of .

As an IndyCar Series fan, we want to introduce you to RACER, our monthly print magazine packed with the same top quality stories and photography you've come to expect from IndyCar Series. With RACER, you'll still get the inside line on all your favorite IndyCar Series drivers and teams, plus the latest news and views from Formula 1, ALMS, NASCAR and much more. Simply visit to find out more information, or to subscribe.

And for the latest news, results and multi-media content from the IndyCar Series, visit , the official website of the IndyCar Series.

About time, I wouldn't let that thing touch my butt.

Awwwwe. Too bad for the gomers. I guess they'll have to unstick the pages of their old issues if they want to see pictures of Danica and Sara in their nomex.

Sleeping Dog
They had a magazine?? Surprised it lasted as long as it did. But wait, they'll blame the bad economy instead of the fact that no one bought it, read it or advertised in it.

No economy is bad enough to convince the world that the EARL crapwagon junk formula is worth watching, or reading about.


That's what happens when you market a magazine to people who can't read.

For laughs I went to the EARL website to see if they had any story on the mag going AWOL. No mention however they still have a link for the rag. Went to the link and nothing but trying to sell subscriptions. Went to the subsciption link to subscribe and it comes up "INVALID PUBLICATION"

Damn!!! What a good week. Looks good on them. They can spew all the drivel they want to try and sugarcoat things. However, anyone with half a brain can see right through it. I guess that eliminates all 5 earl fans. Oh well!!

Anyone looked at ToothlessForum to see how they are taking all this good news?

Hayden Fan
I fear that my brains would turn to mush if I looked there. Studies have shown that with each visit has the equivalent on the body as smoking 3.444 ounces of crack.

KV could cut back to single car

(by Matt Beer on 2-1-2009)

KV Racing have become the latest IndyCar Series team to admit that they might have to scale back their programme in 2009 due to a lack of sponsorship, with co-owner Jimmy Vasser saying that they are currently set to run just one car this year.

Vasser said that unless funding was found soon, the recently-signed Mario Moraes would be their sole representative in the 2009 championship. The team ran Will Power (who is now deputising for Helio Castroneves at Penske) and Oriol Servia last year.

"The bottom line is that we had to lay off 18 people and as of right now we're just running one car in the Indy Racing League," Vasser told

"It was a very difficult thing to do because we have a good family atmosphere built up here but were past the date on our budget to carry the compliment of people for a two-car team. Those are just the facts."

The IRL provided additional assistance for teams moving across from Champ Car in 2008, but now that support has expired, KV need to find more funding.

"Last year we had no engine lease so it's $2 million more we've got to come up with and we've got less money," Vasser said. "I've never seen anything like this economy in my lifetime and it's tough but we're fighting and we're doing everything we can."

He added that KV would still be capable of running two cars if they secured more sponsorship, despite the redundancies.

"We're still trying to run two cars, we've still 23-25 people and we've kept the infrastructure so we'll be able to fire it right back up," said Vasser. "We're optimistic we can reverse the process and we've got Brendon McManus working flat out to try and find sponsors. These are hard times but that doesn't mean we're lying down and I can promise you we won't compromise the professionalism of this team."

KV are among several IndyCar teams presently struggling to finance their 2009 programmes.

Newman/Haas/Lanigan could cut back to one car for Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Racing recently revealed that they cannot currently afford to run a full season, and Conquest and Dale Coyne Racing have yet to announce any drivers for 2009 - although the latter squad did recruit highly-rated ex-Ganassi engineer Bill Pappas this week.

Front-runners Andretti Green (four cars), Penske and Ganassi (two cars each) are certain to return, while the new 3G team, Panther Racing, AJ Foyt, Dreyer & Reinbold, HVM and Vision Racing have all committed to one car programmes, with additional entries from the latter three teams still possible.