ChampCar Commentaries

All about the Champ Car World Series (CCWS)

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Post by mlittle » Sat Aug 13, 2005 8:35 am

Now you know why I hope Formula 1 doesn't go down the same road we did here in the U.S.
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Post by Julian Mayo » Sat Aug 13, 2005 8:43 am

mlittle wrote:Now you know why I hope Formula 1 doesn't go down the same road we did here in the U.S.
That is why Mad Max has to go. Mind you, I must admit his latest noises have almost made sense. :shock:
The Mountain is a savage Mistress.

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New ChampCar Leadership

Post by mlittle » Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:37 am

Sports Car Club of America president and CEO Steve Johnson announced earlier today that he will resign from his current post and assume the president's job with the Champ Car World Series, as current CCWS president Richard Eidswick will become chairman and CEO of the series. Ediswick, ChampCar's president since early 2004, was brought in by series co-owners Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerry Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi to head the series after acquiring the assets of the former CART series in Jan. 2004. There will be a transition period as the two settle into their new roles, as Johnson's succession won't become official until Sept. 15.

As to what this does to the series? In a word, nothing. Eidswick was the right leader the series needed following the 2-year apoplexic reign of Chris Pook, who was brought in to replace his equally ineffective predecessor, Joe Heitzler. It will be interesting to see how the two handle their transition, and how Johnson will adapt to running an organization that is the latter stages of resurrecting its' self from the ashes of CART's bankruptcy, and is bigger, in terms of fan base and media presence, than the SCCA.
Last edited by mlittle on Fri Oct 14, 2005 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Seen and Heard in Denver...

Post by mlittle » Thu Aug 18, 2005 12:18 pm

Besides the street racing at the Grand Prix of Denver this past sunday, there was a lot of off-track activity, the new schedule notwithstanding. Here's a brief rundown of what was seen and heard.

1}Paging Darren, Max and Michel. Besides Manning, former ChampCar racers "Mad" Max Papis, and Michel Jourdain, Jr. were seen roaming the paddock. Jourdain's nascent NASCAR career is on ice, so to speak, and Papis is an ALMS/Rolex Sports Car regular now, but both have driven ChampCars before(both w/Team Rahal, while Jourdain spent '04 w/Herdez, and Papis drove some for PKV in '03-'04. Manning, meanwhile, spent some time w/PKV's co-owner Dan Pettit, and hinted that there may be a possible ride in the works for 2006.

2}More CCWS teams to field Atlantics? Is it just me, or is it getting very crowded around the Atlantics tent. Besides the several CCAC teams returning for 2006(Sierra-Sierra, Polestar, Condor, etc.) ChampCar teams like MiJack-Conquest and Walker Racing have already committed plus IndyCar teams Rahal-Letterman and Panther :?: . Now comes word that the two "power" teams in the ChampCar paddock, Newman-Haas and Forsythe, may field CCAC teams next year. I don't know who I feel sorrier for, Swift Engineering or Cosworth, 'cause both'll be very, very busy in the offseason fielding the expected 25-30+ orders for '06.

3}Red Bull calling... Finally, there was a very interesting visitor to the ChampCar paddock--Dr. Helmut Marko, former F1 driver and "godfather" of Red Bull's worldwide racing programs. While Danny Sullivan oversees the company's F1 driver search, Marko's the guy who oversees the program for the Red Bull bosses. When asked about Red Bull's possible interest in ChampCar, he said: "The Champ Car World Series is a great series. There's a lot of excitement around the series. The crowds are looking good and the atmospherearound the series is really exciting. We like the atmosphere and direction the series is heading. It's a much more exciting and attractive environment for us than some other racing series, including Formula 1. The ambiance around the series and the way the fans are treated and embraced is what we like to see. You can be sure you will be seeing us doing some very good things in this series." Sounds like one of Red Bull's current sponsored-teams(most likely, the IRL's Red Bull/Cheever Racing squad) might lose its' sponsorship. One never knows....
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Comeback Kid Wins in Germany

Post by mlittle » Wed Aug 31, 2005 2:33 pm

Anyone reading the autoracing wires over the weekend had to shed tears of joy and happiness over something that happened at the World Touring Car Championship round at the Oschersleben Circuit in Germany. Alex Zanardi, 2-time CART champion, and former Formula 1 racer, won his first major race since nearly being killed in a horrific accident at the EuroSpeedway in Germany during a CART race in 2001. He drove a BMW320I to victory in the second race of the weekend there, using his prostethic legs to brake, his hands to steer and control the throttle, and his heart to win one of the most heartwarming victories in recent memory. After the victory he said, "Technically, my win Sunday wasn't as good, of course, as the ones in CART, but in terms of emotion this one beats them all."

My first experience seeing Zanardi in action was his win at Laguna Seca, when on the last lap of the race he literally drove his Honda-Reynard off into the dirt at the infamous Corkscrew, passing a surely surprised Bryan Herta to win the race. Any other driver back them would've nailed the tirewalls at that corner, but not Alex. He passed Herta on the outside of turn 8A(the top of the Corkscrew), kept the left-side tires on the curbing into 8B(the bottom of the Corkscrew) and peeled away from Herta at Rainey Corner to win. There have been many great races since then in NA motorsports, but that one ranks up there with the best of them.

Of course, the other side of the coin was vividly(and frightenly) illustrated at the EuroSpeedway in Sept. 2001, just a few days after 9/11. when CART decided to run the then-German 500k(renamed the American Memorial 500k). Zanardi, who came back to CART after a somewhat dismal 2 yrs. in F1, was running relatively well when he came in for a routine pitstop. On his outlap, as he was leaving the pitlane, he spun the car and it stopped on the track, in the middle of turn 1. Two cars, those of Michael Andretti and Patrick Carpentier, managed to avoid him, but the car of Carpentier's then-teammate, Alex Tagliani, slammed right in the center of Zanardi's racecar, severing both of Zanardi's legs and causing Tag to be injured himself. When the safety crews reached their shattered and broken cars, they feared the worst...that both drivers had been killed. Thankfully, neither perished, but its' said that to this day Tag still has nightmares of the race and that incident to this day.

After a year-and-a-half of very exhaustive rehabilitation, Zanardi was given the opportunity to drive a specially designed Ford-Cosworth/Lola and complete those last 13 laps from the 2001 race prior to the running of the 2003 race. By the time Alex completed his 13 laps, there wasn't a dry eye in the stands, nor amongst the thousands(including myself) who watched the race on TV that day. It was a miracle, simply put. But that's the Alex all of us know, whether we've seen him in person or watched a race on TV or heard it on radio...the man has an incomparable spirit and will to live. So, congratulations, Alex, from all of us who follow motorsports. May you have continued success in the future.
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Post by Julian Mayo » Wed Aug 31, 2005 2:37 pm

Well said, Mfer
I concur fully.
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ChampCar Helps Kick Off Run-Up to Surfers Paradise Race

Post by mlittle » Fri Sep 02, 2005 10:59 am

In Brisbane, thousands of people caught a glimpse of the two main events held on the streets of Surfers Paradise during ChampCar's race weekend, as Team Australia(Walker Racing) driver Marcus Marshall and WPS Racing's David Besnard drove there respective cars around the streets of Queensland's capital as officials celebrated the beginning of the festivites leading up to the Oct. 23rd Lexmark Indy 300 at Surfers Paradise. They were joined by fellow racers Alex Tagliani and Craig Baird, who provided a running commentary to the thousands there as their teammates' drove around the streets of Brisbane. Afterwards, Marshall remarked that "(it) was an amazing feeling. I knew coming to the Gold Coast in October was going to be huge but driving through my capital city was just sensational. The vibe was incredible and its' obvious the Queensland and Australian public are right behind Alex and I. It's going to be a great thing coming back for the Lexmark Indy 300 and representing my country." Fellow Aussie David Besnard, who raced in the ChampCar race in 2004 for the team, echoed those sentiments. "What a fantastic experience to be part of yet another history making event leading into the Lexmark Indy 300 carnival for the second year in a row. Last year I was fortunate to drive a Champ Car around the streets of the Gold Coast and this year to steer a V8 Supercar for the first time ever around the streets of Brisbane was a real buzz."

The event also kicked off celebrations for the two teams, Team Australia and WPS Racing, as they prepare to tackle two of the more challenging endurance races in the world, at Sandown and at Bathurst. From this side of the pond, best of luck to Champ Car drivers' Tag and Marshall as, from what I've heard and seen of the events(especially Bathurst!), they're going to need all the skill, daring and outright luck they can muster.
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Post by Julian Mayo » Fri Sep 02, 2005 11:08 am

Apart from the "crash inducing" nature of the circuit, Bathurst is a notorious car breaker, with the long climb up the Mountain,tight twisty hard on brakes sections, and full throttle run down the straight. It is murder on every component of the car, and takes a good, experiencsd team, AND A WHOLE LOT OF LUCK, just to finish the 1000kms.
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Post by mlittle » Fri Sep 02, 2005 11:17 am

Why do you think I said they'd need a whole lot of outright luck when they go there, especially Tagliani?
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Post by Julian Mayo » Fri Sep 02, 2005 11:52 am

Just that..I thought I would give you a little more info on the nature of the track, and why it is so respected by every driver and rider who sees it. Tags is in for a surprise, and I do respect his driving ability. With the 99 trillion TV outlets, and on line services in America, there must be one who has a tape of a recent race?
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Post by Julian Mayo » Fri Sep 02, 2005 11:53 am

I have driven 1st timers around the track without exceeding 35mph, and watched their foot go for the brake pedal, and the knuckles whiten. :lol:
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Lexmark Extends ChampCar Race Sponsorship

Post by mlittle » Fri Sep 02, 2005 2:39 pm

In an announcement concerning the upcoming Champ Car World Series race at Surfers Paradise, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie announced that the title sponsor of the Lexmark Indy 300 has extended the sponsorship rights for the race for the next three years, through 2008. Beattie said that "We are delighted that Lexmark has benefitted so much from its' sponsorship of the Indy 300 and pleased that it has decided to renew and continue for an additional three years. Their commitment has helped us build awareness not only of the event but of Queensland as a destination throughout Australia and the rest of the world." Lexmark's regional managing director for Australia/New Zealand, added that part of the reason for extending their sponsorship was "the record crowd numbers," stating that "we look forward to continuing our partnership with Indy for a further three years."

From a stateside perspective, there are a few races on the NA motorsports calendar that I pencil in as "must-see" races during the year. There's of course, the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hrs. of Le Mans, Daytona's Rolex 24 Hrs., the 12 Hrs. of Sebring, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach,the Molson Indy Toronto, the IRL's yearly visit to Texas and its' "Talledega"-style high-banks, and ChampCar's yearly visit to the Australian Gold Coast. Since 1991, CART(now Champ Car) has traveled across the Pacific and it has yet to disappoint, especially the last three races there. While 2002 and 2003 were noted for the weird/wacky weather which affected the races both years, to 2004, when the highlight of the race, besides seeing Bruno Junqueira win, was seeing Patrick Carpentier's car lose its' front wing and slam into the tirewalls in the backhalf of the circuit after glancing the concrete barriers first. If winning Long Beach is considered a top feather in anyone's Champ Car "hat", then I daresay that winning at Surfers' is another top feather as well.
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2004: The Four "Bullets"

Post by mlittle » Sun Sep 04, 2005 3:35 pm

Whoever coined the phrase, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again," in reference to Tony George's efforts to eliminate ChampCar oughta' be shot. (Or drawn and quartered by 4 ChampCars at full RPMs!).

If someone were to look at AOWR in Nov. 2003, they would've seen a bleak world. CART had just declared bankruptcy, and the IRL looked like a shark out in the ocean that had just smelled blood and was now looking for its' victim. A series that had once been the pinnacle of NA motorsports had been brought down by greed, owner defections, engine defections, apoplexic leadership and just bad, bad luck. Things were as bleak for them as they had been when the IRL was created in the mid-1990's. Even with the arrival of the "Three Wise Men", Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerry Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi, whose new venture, Open Wheel Racing Series(OWRS) had been created with the hope of owning CART, it was still bleak. As 2004 arrived, there were four times where the IRL, through chicanery, bribery or other methods, couldv'e ended the open-wheel war that had split AOWR in the 1990s' to the present.

The first "bullet" George and Co. fired at ChampCar was in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Indianapolis in Jan. 2004, when CART had filed for Chapter 11. Now, right away, George and Co. appeared incompentent, for they went into the hearing thinking that it was Ch. 7(liquidiation of assets) and were rudely surprised when OWRS arrived to purchase CART's assets through Ch. 11(reorganization). Now, to be fair and above-board, the bankruptcy judge, Judge Frank J. Otte, decided on a bankruptcy auction, with any interested parties being allowed to bid on CART's assets. In typical George fashion, his legal team's bid was ridiculousy low, while OWRS' bid was slightly better. After several weeks, the court ruled in OWRS' favor, arguing that their bid was an accurate reflection of the value of CART's assets. With that, OWRS reorganized CART into ChampCar, reminding people of the sport's long heritage pre-CART(1906-1979) when the sport was run, first by the American Automobile Assoc. and then by the United States Auto Club(USAC).

Then, in mid-March, the second bullet was fired. Within the space of a week, two of ChampCar's teams, Fernandez Racing and Rahal-Letterman Racing, announced that they were leaving the CCWS and heading over to the IRL. While Fernandez' decision was respected since it was a mirror-image of when Roger Penske decided when he moved his team to honor the team sponsors' wishes(both wanted to race at Indy), Rahal's wasn't. If you've read some of my earlier commentaries, one reason stands out immediately, but the other reason was that Honda, which had been a strong supporter of RLR until 2003, wanted to reestablish that link, and so, according to sources inside the paddock, essentially dangled both money(lots of money) and full factory support to the team in front of Ohio's favorite son, and he bit, hook, line and turbocharger. I just hope that when Graham Rahal begins his CCAC season next year, that the "sins" of the father aren't visited on the son.

However, ChampCar did recover, fielding a 19-car grid for Long Beach and keeping the other 9 teams in the paddock firmly within their reach, although there was a lot of talk that the business half of Newman-Haas Racing, Carl Haas, was asked to switch series and bring Bruno Junquiera with him. Neither of them decided to do so, and NHR remains a firm CC supporter. The third bullet was fired, not from George and Co, but from their TV broadcast partners, CBS and Speed Channel, which declined to renew their 2003 contract for 2004. The result...the series spent 1 long, lamentable year on Spike TV, garnering ratings worse than the IRL's in 2004. Thankfully, the powers that be over CBS/Speed, Viacom, decided to jump in, convincing both networks to agree to a multi-yr. contract starting in 2005. Then, NBC, which hadn't broadcast a CART/CCWS race since 1994, jumped in, agreeing to televise the races at Long Beach, and Montreal, both of which had better ratings than their IRL counterparts.

The final bullet came from an unexpected source. When Ford announced their decision to dissolve their Jaguar F1 team(now running as Red Bull-Cosworth), the company also decided to sell-off Cosworth Engineering and make it an independent company. George and Co, like at the bankruptcy auction, tried to subterfuge their way to owning the company, this time by having George supporter Chip Ganassi to try to buy Cosworth. Wrong decision on George's part, as Kalkhoven and Forsythe successfully bought Cosworth from Ford in Nov. 2004. For the fourth time, ChampCar had survived an attempt by George and Co. to bury their series, and they failed yet again.

In retrospect, it was a very trying year for ChampCar, as they struggled through 2004 only to emerge leaner and stronger for the future. Although I'd love to see a unified series, if there has to be two series, maybe George and Co. should take lessons from the 3 Wise Men on how to run a series.
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Sports-Car Vet Duno to Test ChampCar at Sebring

Post by mlittle » Wed Sep 07, 2005 2:17 am

HVM Racing(formerly Herdez Competition and before that, Bettenhausen Racing) announced today that Rolex Sports Car Series veteran Milka Duno will be testing one of the team's two ChampCars this week in Sebring. The test is slated to be a 2-day full-on test session, as she will pilot the #4 Eurosport FC/L normally driven by Bjorn Wirdheim through the 2-day test.

An accomplished sports-car racer, she became the first woman to win a Rolex Sports Car event when she and co-driver Andy Wallace won the 2004 Miami GP at Homestead. She currently has three wins in the Rolex Series' Daytona Prototype class, the most recent being in early July when her, Wallace and Jan Lammers won the 6 Hrs. of Mt. Tremblant. According to team officials, while it is the first time she has ever sat in a ChampCar, she is familiar with open-wheel racing, as she has raced in several formula-level series, most recently in 2003 in the former Euro Superfund 3000-level series. Duno said in the announcement that, "I'm very excited and honored by the HVM invitation to test a ChampCar this week. The opportunity to drive one of the world's fastest and most powerful racecars is a dream come true and I am really looking forward to getting behind the wheel."
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Re: Sports-Car Vet Duno to Test ChampCar at Sebring

Post by Julian Mayo » Wed Sep 07, 2005 7:25 am

mlittle wrote:HVM Racing(formerly Herdez Competition and before that, Bettenhausen Racing) announced today that Rolex Sports Car Series veteran Milka Duno will be testing one of the team's two ChampCars this week in Sebring. The test is slated to be a 2-day full-on test session, as she will pilot the #4 Eurosport FC/L normally driven by Bjorn Wirdheim through the 2-day test.

An accomplished sports-car racer, she became the first woman to win a Rolex Sports Car event when she and co-driver Andy Wallace won the 2004 Miami GP at Homestead. She currently has three wins in the Rolex Series' Daytona Prototype class, the most recent being in early July when her, Wallace and Jan Lammers won the 6 Hrs. of Mt. Tremblant. According to team officials, while it is the first time she has ever sat in a ChampCar, she is familiar with open-wheel racing, as she has raced in several formula-level series, most recently in 2003 in the former Euro Superfund 3000-level series. Duno said in the announcement that, "I'm very excited and honored by the HVM invitation to test a ChampCar this week. The opportunity to drive one of the world's fastest and most powerful racecars is a dream come true and I am really looking forward to getting behind the wheel."
And her photos are where???????? 8)
The Mountain is a savage Mistress.

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