The Business of Champ Car II

Origially posted here last February;

I hate to belabor the business aspect of racing but there is so little written about it. I feel it is good to get some of the little known business points out so that the fans can understand how racing, especially open wheel racing, can be made to work in this country.

I know it probably doesn’t make the most exciting reading but I feel strongly about what I write. So here goes my first attempt to communicate to CCWS some of the things I can see from the outside that are lacking in the CCWS racing business.

CCWS has an opportunity to get this organization grounded and take it to greater heights than ever before and it all starts with sound business practices. As we wrap up the season it is time to review some of these areas.

In Don Sklenka’s September 9th article “Now I Rant” he makes an excellent point about Champ Car’s lack of a mission statement. Mission statements are very easily made and as Don said, they describe a business in terms that anyone can understand. They also can be used to advertise and promote a product or business. Mission statements are not long complex paragraphs about the business but are brief one line statements. A good mission statement should be something the business can be passionate about and should be of such a length that can be hand written on the back of the average size business card.

One of my favorites is “The Best Care in the Air”, the mission statement of a popular airline. Doesn’t that conjure up all kinds of good thoughts when you hear it? If you are familiar with that airline you would agree that they drive their business to that statement. This is what Champ Car must do.

They could have a mission statement contest among the employees or online, to draw in all of the good ideas that would come from all over. One I might suggest would be “The Best Racing on Earth” or some variation of that.

Ok, when the statement is set and approved what do they do with it? Put it on every business card, display it proudly in the office, make flags and banners to be displayed at every event, make sure it is seen and heard in each and every media touch to name a few. I know this has been an extraordinarily busy year for the owners and I applaud them for salvaging the series but now it’s time to review fundamentals of the business to assure it is well grounded going forward.

Anyone had an opportunity to communicate directly with CCWS to voice an opinion about the series or maybe a particular event or incident lately? I would guess very few, if any, have. Wouldn’t you think it would be important to the company to know how they are doing with customer satisfaction?

Customer satisfaction is not limited to the fans that empty their wallets at the events but also all of the sponsors. The average fan simply doesn’t have much chance of getting an opinion heard short of expressing dissatisfaction by not attending the events and there’s been of a lot more of that happening the last few years than should have. So how do you find out if you are satisfying the customer? It’s simple….. ask! One good way is to take a survey. We get them all of the time and we mostly ignore them but occasionally we do fill one out, especially if we have an annoying issue with the company that sent it.

Carefully planned and executed surveys can be very revealing and when properly interpreted can greatly enhance a product or service. The information can also be misinterpreted as in the case of a large automaker where a survey revealed customer dissatisfaction with the “fit of the door” in a particular model. The engineers spent hundreds of hours trying to improve the fit of the door when in the end it was actually the sound the door made when closing that was being misinterpreted by the owners as poor fit.

Surveys alone won’t solve all evils but they sure can help. It’s doubtful that CCWS has anyone expert in surveys so I suggest they explore the opportunity to have one professionally done. If we get a 1.5 million at the gate next season, each one getting a survey and have the survey on the web site there could be 150 to 200 thousand respondents.

So what do you do with the information gathered? Sort it into categories that can be easily managed. There will be things that are actionable and things that are not. There will likely be some excellent suggestions that haven’t been thought of before as well as many that have.

Now it’s time for another plan, not the business plan I have heard Paul Gentilozzi refer to, and thank god that fundamental is in place, but an improvement plan driven by the new mission statement. Survey results are not worth the paper written on if they are left on someone’s desk or filed away in a drawer. They must be a part of the improvement plan. An improvement plan should include all action items for improving the series. The improvement plan should include a mechanism for grading each item in the plan going forward. This will allow for easy recognition of what is working and what is not rather than relying on anecdotal information which is mostly useless. As time passes the plan should be reviewed and modified to fit new situations as they arise and follow up surveys or other means of getting customer satisfaction input is included.

The voice of the fan just might be the best tool CCWS can employ. Please CCWS be proactive and consider these fundamental business practices for the betterment of our beloved series.

Bill Sheets © Copyright 2004

WickerBill Sez;

Well CCWS did a masterfull job of bringing the series back to life in 05 and I admit my suggestions for the businesss may have been a bit premature. However I still believe that if implemeted the pratices would yeild very positive results. So for 06 I let's implement the one that I think would have the greatest impact and probably cost the least.........the mission statement. Please CCWS get this done!

CCWS to Try Road America Again

Well right in the middle of making out my Christmas list of things I want from CCWS this year came the Road America announcement, an item on my list. Guess I'll scratch that one off.

But wait, not so fast, my wish for a return to Road America was more than simply lets go back to Road America eh!

My wish includes things like waiting for the series to become better established so that there is a fighting chance for success. Getting a prime date to have a fighting chance for success. Finding a good sponsor to have a fighting chance for success. Am I making sense here?

Not matter how flat you make a pancake there is always two sides..........OK here's how I see the other side of the pancake!

Since Las Vegas was a looser and the fans, teams and drivers were clamoring for RA why not loose at a venue where everyone wants to be. Eh?

I just hope that the future of Road America / CCWS events isn't going to be affected by the likely failure of 2006 event.

Is Two Series Actually Healthy for OWR

Interesting thought isn’t it? Something I have pondered for some time.

When you think of any business not having competition it conjures up all sorts of negatives. Immediately you think of monopolies and all that they entail. Things like price fixing and rotten service come to mind.

When business has competition it has to adjust its prices to be in line with other like business. It has to innovate or it will loose out when others come out with new products and services. It has to provide services at least at the level of the competition or risk loosing out.

Can you think of any business today that does not have competition, I can’t! Why is that?

Perhaps it’s because there are enough customers to go around…..or are there?

Are the NFL, NBA or NHL monopolies? If we wanted to watch American football there is no other league is there? There used to be until they merged. Same thing happened in Basketball.

These are sports and we tend not to think of sports as businesses, but they are so why don’t they have competition. Perhaps if we looked at all sports as businesses then we would see that sports share customers among them just as similar brick and mortar business do.

Ok now that we have shown that sports are businesses let’s include racing. The sport of racing is a business. The sport shares customers among them…..sound familiar?

Why do the pundits of Open Wheel Racing continue to say that the split in OWR is bad for OWR? There have been two series for 10 years now. How is that bad? Didn’t we decide that competition is good for business and the customers? And isn’t the sport of racing a business?

You have to do what, to survive in business…..innovate, price and serve. Hmmm does anyone but me see this?

I think so and if there hadn’t been a split I would venture that OWR would not have been forced to examine itself and the result may have been….well disastrous for the sport.

As for having enough customers to go around I think racing will always have that. Granted NASCAR has the majority now but as long as there are good businessmen in OWR NASCAR will need to……innovate, price and serve to compete!

Think about it! Pundits can be wrong you know!

Robin Millers Champ Car Two Years In

Written by: Robin Miller Mexico City, Mexico – 11/8/2005

When a venture capitalist from Australia and a Chicago business maven out-bid Tony George for the assets to CART in January of 2004, three questions were immediately recycled throughout the racing fraternity.

1) Why didn't Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe simply let George have it so open wheel racing could be back under one roof?
2) Why would two very successful multi-millionaires buy a decomposing corpse?
3) Would this folly last one or two years before last rites were administered?

Well, Sunday afternoon the checkered flag fell on Champ Car's second season and now we pretty much know the answers to all three of those questions.

Sure, Champ Car is nowhere close to its heydays of the '90s but it's a dang sight healthier than anyone could have imagined two years ago.

Kalkhoven and Forsythe have not only kept the pilot light burning, they've stoked the series with new venues, invested in some traditional tracks, resuscitated Formula Atlantics and laid out a sensible economic plan for the future.

In the past 12 months:
a) They staged new races at San Jose and Edmonton, added Houston for 2006 and are working on Philadelphia.
b) Purchased the Long Beach Grand Prix and Molson at Toronto.
c) Rebooted the Atlantics with a much cheaper chassis/engine ($175,000), added more horsepower and $2 million to the '06 titlist towards a Champ Car ride in '07.
d) Reduced the car costs 35 percent for the new '07 Panoz car ($205,000 less electronics and $300,000 for a roller).
e) Left little doubt they're better equipped to deal with the real world than George. "If you'd have told me we'd have all this two years ago, I would have looked to the heavens and said: "Please God, make this dream come true,'" said Kalkhoven, who started out as a car owner in 2003 before jumping into the deep end. "I think we're a year ahead of where Gerry and I expected to be last January.

"But I think the key is that our owners have bonded together very well."

As mentioned, the car count needs to be increased by at least four, the television ratings still suck, there's no money flowing directly to the teams, American attendance is far from healthy across the board, a title sponsor is desperately needed and so are young American drivers.

"I don't think we'll have any new teams next year because there are so few Lolas around but I think 2007 will be a different story," continued Kalkhoven. "We will have new teams in 2007, I'm sure of it.

"We'll have more national TV races next year and do some special shows to promote our drivers. Our Atlantic package should help our American driver situation and we've had people working diligently on a title sponsor for the past six months.

"Are we satisfied with everything? Of course not. But we've got a plan and its working."

Despite the highly successful and competitive debut at Edmonton, Champ Car's real coup in '05 was keeping Long Beach, Toronto and Montreal on its schedule and off the Indy Racing League's. Kalkhoven claims he doesn't pay any attention to the rival circuit but he and his partner have been forced to defend their castle at least three or four times.

Even though the IRL/IMS spin doctors deny any attempts at making a pitch for Long Beach, Toronto and Montreal, George told potential and current sponsors that the IRL would be at Long Beach in 2006. Michael Andretti guaranteed his new favorite series would be running Toronto in '06 and the IRL that it was going to slide into Montreal next year.

And Kalkhoven and Forsythe can say Long Beach and Toronto were good investments, but they were also must-saves. "Some are good business decisions and some are strategic business decisions," said Kalkhoven, who sounds like he's still contemplating litigation against the Montreal promoter and possibly the IRL for tortious interference with a contract.

"Yes, we definitely needed to keep Long Beach and Toronto and having the ability to control our assets is part of our strategy."
Keeping ovals (Milwaukee and Las Vegas) sounds more like a habit than a need.

"We'll evaluate them after next year but we're not going to do them if they're not successful," said Kalkhoven. "But why bother racing in front of 10 people? There's already a series that does that."

With no chance of unification, it appears that Champ Car and IRL will continue fighting each other for American and international recognition, as well as survival. Two years ago, the IRL had most of CART's big teams, both of its Japanese engine manufacturers and that big hammer Tony George says he brings to work every day.

But today the landscape has changed dramatically. Champ Car has the affordable series, the better American venues (except Indianapolis), a pretty slick business plan for the future and two guys who ain't broke or afraid.

"When Gerry and I took over we wanted to eliminate this concept that open wheel racing is over or dead, because it's not. Our strategy of a three-day festival is working and we've got some exciting things in the pipeline. Gerry and I also plan to be around for quite a while."

Then Kalkhoven grinned and said: "I've got a hammer too."

WickerBill sez;

Robin; Although I don't agree with all of your conclusions most are right on!

Rusport 1-2 at Mexico City

Justin Wilson dominated the weeked winning the Grand Premio de Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico city Sunday.

Wilson was never really headed after leading from the pole except for a brief period after the firstpit stop. A. J Allmendinger finished second even though Tracy nearly blocked him off the track earlier in the race. Tracy fininshed third after another self made day of frustration in typical Tracy style.

The season ending event was attended by 271,569 pushing the attendance per-event to a Champ Car record 150,679. The total attendance for the season was just shy of two million paying fans at 1,958,827.

WickerBill Sez;

Kudos to the new owners for turning this series around and giving us back our racing! There still are many issues to be resolved and deals to be cut but they are well on their way to the success they deserve. With the season now completed we can all look forward to the silly season to follow. Hopefully with the successes of this past year all of the participants will find the going a little smoother next year and perhaps the upcoming silly season won't be quite so silly!

New Attendance Record at Surfers Paradise

Attendance for the Champ Car event at Surfers has been put at approximately 315,000, setting a record for Champ Car.

Attendance is calculated by adding up the number of attendees at each day of the event, meaning those that attend each day are counted multiple times and this in my opinion skews the actual total number higher than it really is. As long as the same technique is used for attendance at each event you can get a fair comparison event to event.

The attendance used to be estimated by Goodyear when they were still in the business and when they left an independent agency was contracted to do it. I don't know the technique used but some such agencies use crowd density to make their estimates.

WickerBill Sez;

I would like to see the attendance be a measure of how many different sets of eyeballs actually were there. Surely this information is available from the ticket sales information. Seems like you could count the ticket sales and arrive at total attendance, minus no shows. The attendance could be given for each day as before and would be more representative of the actual sets of eyeballs. Other numbers could be included in the total such as any freebees that might have been there.

No matter how it would be done I would prefer a more accurate accounting of the attendance

New Champ Car Chassis Announced

The Panoz 2007 DP01 is here!

The Cosworth Spin

Originally posted in February 05 but still pertinent!

As the dust begins settling around the Cosworth deal and the reviews come in from the all of the racing pundits and more recognizable columnists perhaps it’s now time for a deeper dive into realm of Cosworth. I don’t think there is any question about the prime reason for Messrs Kalkhoven and Forsythe buying Cosworth. Hopefully they had enough advanced knowledge to put together a solid plan for the business. In any case there was almost no choice if the Champ car series was going to be saved from the rival IRL which reportedly sent one of its team owners to bid for the business. It did my heart good to hear Richard Parry-Jones, Group Vice President – Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer, Ford Motor Company say they had worked very hard to secure a sale to a reputable buyer, and that Kevin and Gerry are very successful businessmen, with a long history in the sport and a clear vision for how they wish to take Cosworth forward. Implicitly this seems to suggest that the IRL and Mr. Ganassi didn’t have a plan or a clue, something which should come as no great surprise to anyone! With ownership of the critical engine supplier in the fold Champ Car is assured of living another day. Kudos to Kevin and Gerry.

But what about the downside of this deal? Can the Champ Car World Series really survive long term without the considerable infusion of money of a major automobile manufacturer? When I first heard of the possibility of Cosworth being purchased by two of the CCWS principles that was the second thing that went through my mind. The first was, wow that would be great, now we don’t have to worry about an engine supplier. Would it be possible for a series without some major automobile manufacturer sponsorship to survive long term? NASCAR and F1, two sanctioning bodies which have set the standard for racing business success, certainly embrace it. Even the NHRA runs things that claim to be of major automobile manufacturer origin, although they don’t look like it, and no doubt receive monetary support as a result. I wonder if the owners have some long term plan up their collective sleeves, that business model they constantly refer to, which does not include the infusion of automobile manufacturer money. What a coup that would be!

The point is this; I doubt there could ever be a successful racing series without the direct support of some major automobile manufacturer. Conversely the manufacturers want to be involved in a successful racing series because racing on Sunday sells cars on Monday. Since our beloved Champ cars bear little resemblance to anything that can be seen on the street the significant way for the automobile manufacturer to participate is by becoming an engine supplier. It isn’t clear to me if Ford will continue its support of the series in any way next year and beyond. Surely the Ford badge will no longer be a part of the engine supplied to the Champ cars. This seems to leave the series without any significant major automobile manufacturer involvement or at the very least, a declining involvement. If automobile manufacturer support of the series is as critical as I think it is then getting some other engine suppliers would seem to be a top priority of the series. How eager are the two series owners, that also own the engine business, going to be to solicit other engine suppliers to the series. Wouldn’t that be like inviting your competition to take some of your business? Could of a conflict of interest be looming here? Of course, but I don’t think it will happen. The new owners are going to do whatever it takes to assure continuation of the series including encouraging automobile manufacturers’ participation the series. After all, the team owners need all the sponsorship money they can get. And without teams there is no series.

The IRL is now facing the real possibility of loosing engine suppliers at the end of the 2006 season. This was likely the driving force behind the purported attempt to have Mr. Ganassi appear as a buyer of Cosworth. Since that ploy failed (does anyone believe Mr. Ganassi needed Cosworth for his NASCAR effort – I don’t think so) the IRL has announced engine changes are in the works, which seems to confirm their concern over Toyota and Honda leaving. Although no decision has yet been made they are talking of going back to production based engines. If that happens there will be a few good drivers available, i.e. those whose pay is subsidized by Honda and Toyota. There might even be a team or two wanting to come back Champ car. I know a lot of Champ Car fanatics that would prefer certain teams never come back. Is it possible that Kevin and Gerry have been able to see the future well enough to predict the demise of the IRL simply by owing Cosworth? Perhaps there is no downside to this after all.

Ansan Cancelled

Well it's happened again Ansan has been deferred to 2006. The announcement was made by yesterday by CCWS only 2 short days after they announced that they were continuing with plans for this October’s race. In the press release they quote several obstacles having to do with promotions and fees.

WickerBill Sez;

If you read the bits of the press conference it's obvious that CCWS hasn't a clue about how to deal with the Asian business community. This is a very surprising turn of events for me as I thought KK was on top of everything. Now I can't help but wonder how many other problems have festering sores! I'll bet that China has serious issues as well. Look for some negative development on that front!

Bourdais wins Vegas

Sebastien Bourdais held off teammate Servia to win the Las Vegas 400 last night. Sebastian now has a commanding point lead over Paul Tracy. Bordais punted him off the track as Tracy was attempting to slow for a pit stop.

Much controversy over the contact has erupted but Tony Cotman said their would not be any further action because Tracy failed to follow the rule for showing the field the intention of pitting by dropping two wheels below the white line on the backstretch.

WickerBill Sez;

I haven't read the rule but some are saying it is too vague as written. I saw Tracy well below the line with Bourdais following. It appeared that Bourdais realized that Tracy was about to pit and then went right to pass and hit Tracy. I suppose it all depends on how the rule of the backstrech line is interperted!

If Bourdais was below the line and not pitting shouldn't he be penalized as the drivers were told before the race?

Tortious Interference

Should CCWS become a party to a suit claiming Tortious Interference with the Montreal Grand Prix where it is suspected that the promoter and the IRL were cooking up a scheme to oust CCWS and replace it with an IRL NASCAR event in 2006 even though CCWS has a contract for 2006?

IMO there are many reasons to shy away from such a suit not the least of which is that according to Norman Legault there is no such agreement with the IRL and they plan to hold the CCWS event as contracted in 2006. I think that even if they could prove that there were some behind the scenes negotiations they would have almost no chance of proving Tortious Interference.

A suit of this kind might have a negative impact on the series in the press; the risk reward ratio may not be worth it.

Even if a judgment favorable to CCWS were found what do they win......a few dollars? CCWS should focus on the business of racing and when the series is once again strong enough the venues will come to them.

I believe that although this ploy by the IRL may have been seriously grounded the effort was exploratory in nature and they knew going in it wasn't likely to happen.

My advice to CCWS is to file this one in the dead file along with reunification and get on with business.

Champcar 06 Looking Good....Other League???

The 2006 season is looking pretty good for CCWS. The schedule is completed, the 07 chassis and engine specs are just around the corner, the 05 season is winding down without much controversy and the other series seems to be in a bit of a twit.

Over at the other league there's talk of Toyota buying out Ganassi and Pen$ke.....Just what Pen$ke needs, more money, so they can quit a year earlier. Red Bull is rumored to be dumping Cheever next year. I'm betting they come on as the Atlantics presenting sponsor. The other league's schedule has been shortened by 3 events to 14. Nation says it's to bring more focus to what they do..Ahem..Ok spin it any way you want I say it's about MONEY! They also say there isn't enough time to bring on another engine manufacturer for the 07 season - well then if not Honda will be out in 07.

So now Toyota and Honda are set to wipe yet out another racing series. Let's hope that OWR has learned it's lessons. I think KK understood that long ago!

Bring back Offenhauser.

Hybrid cars unveiled by Ford, Honda and Toyota

Hurricane Katrina caused widespread devastation and along came the gas price hike. Great news in between is that 3 automakers have unveiled their new and latest hybrid cars and the related technology at an environmental conference on Friday. Event was first national convention of the Sierra Club, largest environmental organization of the country. Honda, Ford and Toyota are the 3 companies brought their hybrid vehicles and technology here.

According to director of the Sierra Club's global warming program, Dan Becker, "The biggest single step to curbing global warming, cutting America's oil dependence and saving consumers' money at the gas pump is making our vehicles go further on a gallon of gas".

At the Sierra Summit, Ford presented consumers their initial peek at their newest hybrid sports utility vehicle -- the 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid. The compact, four-wheel-drive SUV can run 33 miles per gallon in the city and 29 miles per gallon on highways. Honda uncovered the 2006 Civic Hybrid, which can get 50 miles per gallon on highways and city streets. Toyota did not bring in new model hybrids on Friday, but said earlier this year it would begin selling a hybrid version of its Camry sedan and a seven-passenger SUV, called the Highlander Hybrid.

Servia Validates at Montreal

Oroil Servia validated himself as a capable Champ car driver by winning the Montreal Race Sunday. Servia captured the lead after Race control penalized Glock, who was leading at the time, for cutting a corner. Glock was warned the first time he did it when Servia attempted to pass and the second time he had to give up the position. The win was Servia's first ever as a Champ car driver.

The race did not draw well as only 95,000 attended the 3 day event. There were fewer bleachers available this year than last and they did not appear to be full. Rumor has it that the Champ car event has no future in Montreal!

WickerBIll Sez;

Where did 40,000 fans go?
The promoter is limited to 2 events per year by law. What kind of a deal is that?
No wonder the promoter wants NASCAR there!
KK says they are working on a backup for the event should this one be cancelled.
I say replace it with Road America!

Red Bull Bullish on CCWS ?

Since the head Bull of Red Bull was seen in the Denver fray last week rumors have abounded about what if anything their involvement might be in the future of Champ Car. It certainly makes sense for them to come into the series. Perhaps we'll see them here next season!

WickerBill sez;

Wouldn't it look nice to see the Atlantics sponsered by Red Bull.
The Champ Car Atlantics Championship presented by Red Bull powered by Ford!

Toyota Prius Hybrid car gives 250 mpg

Toyota Prius Hybrid car gives 250 mpg. Surprised! Yes, it is true, thanks to the efforts of green-minded enthusiasts at California. These people have turned popular hybrid cars into plug in cars, which could be recharged using off peak electricity from the mains. Lets see how..

Hybrid cars such as Prius, Escape and Honda Civic have petrol and battery power source which is computer integrated. With these configurations, hybrid cars are able to have a fuel mileage of 60-70 mpg as compared to 20-40 in conventional cars.

You could call them inventors or Hackers but these people are reprogramming computer and getting extra batteries that in turn guzzles less fuel and gives higher electric kick to the cars. One such person in San Francisco customized his hybrid car by fitting 18 electric bicycle batteries to store extra power. These batteries get charged from solar panels or domestic sockets at night. He successfully achieved 96 mpg for his hybrid car. Now that is quiet impressive.

The electronic tweaks he executed trick the hybrid arrangement into thinking that the battery is completely charged so it uses battery power at all speeds, rather than just through deceleration.

One other innovator at Californian outfit, Energy CS, in Monrovia has converted 2 Prius models to get nearly 276 mpg with the help of extra lithium ion batteries. Now lets see how these hybrid car manufacturers respond to this.

da Matta Takes Out 20 % of Field in First Turn of Denver Grand Prix

The Grand Prix of Denver was inherited today by Sebastian Bourdais. Bourdais was running in second when Tracy, while leading, decided to test the wall....... the wall won. Sebastian never gave up the lead and won the race easily, cementing his points lead in the series. daMatta apparently tought he could gain on the pack and overcooked it in the first turn taking out himself and three others. The three day event was attended by an estimated 150,000 fans and increase of 38,000 thousand over last years attendance of 112,00

WickerBill sez;

Duh Matta, what was he thinking?

Duh Tracy, what was he thinking?

CCWS continues to win the attendance battles. Attendance continues to be strong.

The race ended on lap count not minute count..........thank you!

The Belond Miracle Power Special

The other streamliner I saw run in the 1955 Indy.
Driver: Jim Rathman

Photo Courtesy of Indianapolis 500 Chronicle by Rick Popely

The 1956 version never qualified.

Photo Courtesy of Indianapolis 500 Chronicle by Rick Popely

Street Racing Popularity Nothing New

In 1912 the Vanderbilt Cup Race was a 300 Mile event run on the streets of Northwest Milwaukee. According to the Milwaukee Journal of October 3, 1912. The race was run October 2 and was attended by 60,000 paid and an estimated equal number of non paying observers from other vantage points around the course.


WickerBill Sez;

Where has street racing been for the last 93 years?

As a former resident of Milwaukee I question the wisdom of holding a race on October 2!

How did they promote this event and get 60,000 paid at the event? Was there even 60,000 people in Milwaukee in 1912? Actually there were 375,000 residents in 1910! If no one attended from other cities and in those days it's not likely many did then the promoters were able to pull in 15 % of the cities residents to the race.

If Milwaukee hosted a street race today would 60 thousand show up? 15% of the metro area would be approximately 450,000. Now that's 450,000 different sets of eyes not a three day total!

Why has the interest in oval track racing declined or was it ever a big deal? The Milwaukee mile is as convenient to get to as any street race would be, it is located in State Fair park and at most a 15-20 minute drive from almost any where in the Metro area yet fewer fans showed up for two OW events this year, than did for the single 1912 street race. Oddly the seating capacity of the Mile is approximately 45,000 and that's after recent seating additions. This would seem to suggest that the Mile has never expected large crowds.

Is it all about the personalities?

This deal begs many questions!

The San Jose Baja 1:45

Well everyone found their way to San Jose as the Champ Car World Series stagged their inaugural race there Sunday. Bourdais was unheaded and won easily with Paul Tracy coming in second. A big crowd attended the three day event with total attendance at nearly 160,00.

WickerBill Sez;

The track was terrible, too narrow, too short and worst of all was the Lola Launch at Push Rod Hollow. A must fix for next years event. Too much carnage. Looked like Baja off road racing. Bad Bad Bad.

Another timed event. Everyone knew it was going to be 1 one hour 45 minutes long when it started and could make race strategy accordingly. For once I didn't mind the timed race!

Another well attended event, seems CCWS is headed in a good direction.

Fix the track! Fix the track! fix the track!

Katherine trying to get a Legge up.

Katherine Legge must have heard KK loud an clear at Saturdays press conference where he announced the new Champ Car Atlantics Championship (CCAC) would use Cosworth engines and a new Swift chassis. Also announced was a 2 million dollar prize for the winner.

KK said - Well, as we don't know who are the teams and how many there will be in '07, we're just saying "selected" at this minute. But I think there will be team owners that will be very enthusiastic to be able to get hold of a championship winner with a $2 million check in his pocket or her pocket. That's a clue, Katherine. Get your butt going.

Get her Butt going she did as she took home first place in the Atlantics race at the San Jose Grand Prix.

WickerBill Sez;

Think she knows the way to San Jose?

The Sumar Special Streamliner

The Streamliner as it arrived at Indy in 1955

The Sumar Streamliner without Fenders and Canopy

IRL's Panther Racing not Moving to CCWS

Panther rejects CCWS offer to join.

Panther Racing has confirmed that they were in discussions with CCWS about moving. They have confirmed that CCWS had made them an offer to come over but refused to comment on the details of the offer because of the confidentiality agreement they signed.

As for the engine supplier for next year Barnes said Chevrolet officials have met with their Cosworth counterparts in England about extending their contract, although an agreement has not been reached. And if Chevy doesn't return they will go with Honda.

WickerBill Sez;

When the rumor first surfaced two weeks ago it was tied to the fact that the sponsers - Pennzoil - might be going for the pacific rim exposure, China particularly, that CCWS will have. With todays word that they have decided to stay in the IRL it leads me to wonder if the CCWS thing was initiated by Panther or CCWS. There's more here than will every be known by us.

It seems Panther is willing to risk a one year ride with Honda for the Greatest Spectacle giving Honda's willingness to quit the IRL at the end of 2006 if they end up being the sole engine supplier.

We haven't heard the last this!

200,000 Plus at Edmondton

With the weekend fan total surpassing 200,000 it appears that Edmondton has assured itself of a place on the Champ Car Schedule for the foreseeable future. The race wasn't bad either although the outcome was somewhat unpredictable as the final laps unfolded. Bourdais was the eventual winner as we all watched and wondered if there would be yet another winner in the circle only to see Dinger stick it in the wall, something he had come close to doing many times during the race.

This was a race Champ Car could hang their hat on!

WickerBill Sez;

Tired of writing about timed races and very gald I didn't have to do it again.
Outstanding Crowd - Attention other venues ........beat that!
Dinger needs to settle down a bit and the first win will come.
How about all that agression from Wilson - way to go Justin. Can't wait to see you and Tracy do battle, oh perhaps I should throw in Bourdais. These three might never finish on the podium together!

Champ Cars with Fenders

In 1955 The Sumar Special showed up at Indy looking very much like a road racer. It had fenders and a canopy, Jimmy Daywalt was the driver and accoring to the best information I can find he never qualified the car as it came of the transporter. He complained of a claustrophobic feeling with the canopy in place and later it was determined that the weight of fenders ate up gains of the streamlined design. According to the information available he ran the race without the fenders and canopy. What was was a Kurtis chassis with a Meyer Drake Offy.

I attended the Indys of that era and I distinctly remember a race that had two streamlined cars with fenders. One was blue and one was yellow, the blue one must have been the Sumar. Before the race ended both had removed the streamlining. I am still searching the archives for information on the yellow car.

In 1959 USAC decided to run an event at Daytona so the Sumar special took advantage of the opportunity to try for a closed course speed record. The driver was Marshall Teague a former NASCAR driver that had fallen out of favor with the France family. Marshall set the record at 171.821 MPH and on February 10, 1959 crashed and was killed trying to improve on it.

WickerBill sez;

If anyone has any photos of or information about these cars I would appreciate hearing from you.

The 1:45 Toronto Molson Indy

Justin Wilson gave notice in Portland that he is a factor to be reckoned with and today found victory lane as he won the timed event in Toronto. The race went almost flawlessly for the first half then a sea of yellow flags tainted the latter part of the race causing it to be cut short because of the 1 hour 45 minute rule. Servia finished second an Tagliani came in third.

Paul Tracy drew the early exit card when he ran out of fuel while leading . He was driving the second stint with only half of his front wing which was torn off when he and Bourdais momentarily occupied the same space as they exited the pits. Tracy had short filled in an attempt to pass Bourdais during that stop. At the end of the second stint as Tracy was about to enter the pit for fuel a yellow came out and that was it, he ran out of fuel as he passed pit lane. Tracy's team said they were not planning to change the front wing on the stop as Tracy was maintaining the lead with the car as is.

WickerBill Sez;

Very good show in Toronto, it had everything. The Champ Car Series can feel good about the whole affair.

Another timed event with to much BS up front. CCWS must review the program make up and find a way to complete these races. Finishing under yellow added to the disappointment!

Tracy did a terrific job on his second stint running with only half of a front wing, it must have been frustrating to the other drivers as they failed to catch the crippled Tracy.

2007 Nissan Altima hybrid car

2007 Nissan Altima hybrid car
Sales of hybrid vehicles have increased substantially and in fact, it has doubled in the first five months of 2005 as compared to last year sales. Nissan announced that it is going to introduce its first gasoline hybrid passenger car which will start its manufacturing at Smyrna plant some time from next year.

No, Nissan is not going to build its own hybrid system but will be licensing the hybrid system from Toyota Motor Co. Nissan promised a better fuel economy in its coming 2007 Nissan Altima hybrid car with a increased performance. This is going to be the third hybrid vehicle in US after Ford's Escape hybrid sport utility vehicle and Toyota's Camry Sedan, which is also going on production floor next year.

Regular Altima has a base price of $24,530 and introduction of hybrid is most likely to add another $3000 to it. However there was no formal announcement about the pricing of 2007 Nissan Altima hybrid car. Nissan contract with Toyota restricts it with only 50,000 units per year.

Nissan is entering into the market where the top spot is captured by Toyota Prius followed by Honda Civic. Lets see how it could penetrate the market currently captured by these two carmakers.

The 1:45 Cleveland Grand Prix

The Cleveland Grand Prix became a timed event as Paul Tracy claimed career win number 30. The crowd looked to be very good including the 1000 Bridgestone employees that attended. Tracy becomes series point leader with today’s win leading second place Bourdais by 1 point 128 to 127. Allmendinger and Servia came in second and third.

WickerBill Sez;

It was nice to see the big, 90,000 for 3 days, crowd at Cleveland, this kind of a crowd will likely assure Cleveland a place on the Champ Car schedule for some time to come.

The fact that the race became a timed event isn’t what I would like to see although the 2.5 hour time TV time slot worked well again as it did in Portland, it would have been nice to have shortened the 30 min lead in to allow for more back end time. I would rather see the full race and have the program filled on the back end than to have the race shortened.

All in all it looked like a very good event, Champ Car gets a passing mark on this one.

Portland on the Bubble

I thought the Protland race was a reasonably good show. The race had some intrigue with Shorty winning on an alternate pit strategy. Of course he couldn't have done so without a good car which PKV provided. He was able to pull out a nice lead on his second stint which was important to the win.

TV coverage was good, at least we saw the complete race with some lead-in and post-race interviews. The 2.5 hour time slot worked well.

Now for the bad news; attendance reported by some at only 60,000 for the three days may not be sufficient to keep the race on the schedule dependng on CCWS plans. Assuming that head count is the total through the turnstiles, meaning that anyone with 3 day pass is counted 3 times, there was probably only 35,000 maybe 40,000 on race day. A decent number if CCWS's plan is to grow the event going forward but if they needed the event to be successful this year the end could be near.

Will DanIRLca or CCWS Prevail

WickerBill sez;

Much has been written about the Power of Danica. I don’t know how to predict the full effect of Danica on the longevity of the IRL but it is painfully obvious to me that the IRL is living on Danica mania and will continue to do so for some time. Will it be enough to finally bury Champ Car? Nobody knows for sure. There are some signs that might be pointing to that.

As for Danica’s staying power only time will tell, I think she has to win and win consistently much like Shirley Muldowney did in Drag Racing to have a lasting effect. But even if she only wins once or twice the effects could be devastating. Both series are extremely fragile and it wouldn’t take much to end either one. I’ve watched her race and in my opinion she is a very opportunistic driver. She is very smooth and doesn’t tear up equipment. She is usually around at the end and this means that one day she will come in first, not because she won but because the others lost. If this is indeed the way her career unfolds then the impact in the IRL will be short lived.

Pen$ke’s purchase of Ilmor shows that he believes in the future of the IRL and plans to become an engine supplier. Pen$ke’s ahead of the curve actions could never have been more obvious. Although it’s less obvious how the Porsche deal will play into the grand scheme I wouldn’t be surprised to see the effects show up at the IRL somehow.

With the latest news of lagging ticket sales at San Jose and Portland the health of CCWS is uncertain. We can’t know for sure if the problem is getting better or getting worse, only time will tell. If the globalization of CCWS doesn’t pay the expected dividends will there be enough time to come home and rebuild. CCWS is putting it’s eggs in the street racing basket and if that doesn’t pay off then the end could be at hand.

As I have said many times one of these businesses will outlast the other and right now the IRL may have the upper hand.

Mario Says Two Sides Still Talking

Mario claims that the two sides are still talking about engine and chassis specs and that there is real progress being made.

WickerBill sez;

Ok so they are talking about engines and chassis and if they come to some agreement maybe they run a common race such as Indy but the unification of OWR won't happen unless Tony gives up his demand for control. And that ain't happenin'.

"It's Never Going to Happen" Carl Hass

"For a while there I thought it was going to happen," Haas remarked. "I think for a little while we all thought it could happen. But of course it's come apart again, just like always. And now, I agree with you, it's never going to happen. It's gotta be all on Tony's terms. That's the only way he wants it. That's the way it's always been."

Hass as quoted by Gordon Kirby in his latest article on the CCWS web site.

WickerBill sez;

This cannot be a surprise to anyone. Now can we please get on with racing?

Unified Series With Four Owners

Auto Racing One, a pay for information site which I don't read for obvious reasons, is putting forth a rumor which has Kalkhoven, Forsythe, Penske and George as equal partners in a unified series.

WickerBill sez;

Didn't work before won't work now!
Too many cooks in the kitchen!
Been there done that didn't work!
Show me I used to be from Missouri!

Long Beach Grand Prix Only $12.5 Million

According to the 8K filed by Dover Motorsports May 26, 2005 the AAM only paid $12.5 million for the Assests and Agreements of the Long Beach Grand Prix. The other $2.5 million was for Dover Real estate.

12.5 million is a rather low figure for this business which likely had $9 million in receipts this year. This indicates that Dover's expenses had indeed increased and the possibility of them taking a loss on this event is very real.

I can't imagine why there should be any loss when weighed against the attendance. One possible explanation is that they gave away the tickets!

WickerBill sez;

I hope the management has the sense to clean up this act including purging the dead wood!

Milwaukee is Dead

Well as suspected the crowd was very light my guess around 15 thousand. The race was OK except for RHR's crash as once again the concrete conspired to take out a driver. As for next year I doubt that CCWS will race at Milwaukee. It's a shame that such a legacy has to come to an end. With Road America gone and probably Milwaukee there's almost no midwestern Champ Car Racing left.

I feel the pain of what few fans there are there, however without fan support these venues are dead. Unfortunately the fans cannot do much about turning around the misfortunes of the sport.

Perhaps someday the sport will regain enough stature to interst more than 15 thousand die hard fans!

Indy, The End

I must admit after over 55 years of following the Indy 500 my enthusiasm for the race has all but disappeared and I can’t really say why. I know that part of the reason must be the split in OWR that occurred in 1996. But there is more to it than that. The idea of going 220 plus MPH around a track with concrete walls and safer barriers has not been proven to be the safest form of racing. Over the years I have had the misfortune of being present for the death of more than one driver. One of the accidents was right in front of me in the north shoot and I can say it pretty much ruined the rest of the day for me. I know there is a huge risk taken by the drivers when they decide to participate in racing but even knowing that doesn’t change the feeling one gets when you see a driver pay the ultimate price. Yes racing much safer now than in years past but oval racing seems to take too big of a toll.

I’m one of thousands that have lost interest in the Spectacle. Judging from what I could see on TV the stands were not packed as they used to be. Checking on the Indy web sight I found many tickets available right up to Race Day. Fortunately for Indy, this year’s event featured a young female rookie that happened to be very fast and with a team that knows how to go fast. This helped to put some excitement back into the race. I know I watched with great anticipation that a lady could finally win the race. But at the end I still had this feeling of – gee this really doesn’t do it for me anymore.

I wonder how many others have a similar feeling and if it will finally spell the end of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

I wouldn’t be surprised.

LBGP 15 Million does the Trick

Just as I pedicted TG didn't buy the LBGP and the price tag wasn't 25 million as rumored earlier. The going price for a business (that is making money and the LBGP does make money) is one and a half time sales. With Prix revenues at approximately 9 million this year they could reasonably ask 15 million and not be out of line. That's 1.5 times revenue with a little goodwill thrown in. So Kevin and Gerry's new entity AQUARIUM ASSET MANAGEMENT, LLC came away with the Prix for a reasonable 15 million and foiled the efforts of three others bidding on it.

It seems there was a certain other new promoter in the fray as well. The same one that promoted the IRL St. Petersburg race. Clears up the mystery behind the IRL's claim that they were not going to bid on the purchase of the Prix!

The IRL can still go to the LBGP Kevin said the tickets go on sale in July.

WickerBill sez;

Right on KK you are becoming very predictable.

Just Say No to Honda

Like many others I want to see one successful open wheel series I this country. However I have what might be called a passive aggressive approach to the problem. I want the Darwinian effect to determine the outcome. I know I have a lot of detractors that will say that OWR may not even exist by the time that happens. I don’t believe that and if I ever become convinced of it I will be the first to jump on another bandwagon seeking a different solution. I am convinced that one of the two series will function as a successful business and like most successful businesses one will outlast the other and perhaps even take over the other.

Another possible scenario would be for a third party/business to buy up both. I don’t think an engine maker regardless of wealth can force either of the two together. One thing that makes this situation different is the fact that these two companies are private and don’t have stockholders to answer to. Just as Forsythe used Indeck to buy up CART stock because it’s belongs to him, so can TG fund his operations from his many holdings without answering to stockholders.

But there will come a day when one will not exist. Someone will tire of the cost or the effort or run out of money or receive a tender that cannot be refused and the whole thing will change again.

But I seriously doubt that Honda can convince either side that one should be the leader and one should be a follower. And that’s precisely what it’s about for now.

Perhaps Honda’s reasons are more grounded in getting into the Champ Car’s growing worldwide market than getting the two series together.

BMW hybrid car or BMW hydrogen powered car

BMW hybrid car or BMW hydrogen powered car

Is BMW coming with BMW hybrid car. No, BMW is not coming with BMW hybrid car but hydrogen powered cars and fuel cell cars. BMW German carmaker's H2R is the world's fastest hydrogen powered car that has speed upto 185 miles per hour.

Generally, hydrogen-powered vehicles operate on fuel cells. In BMW Hydrogen, powered car uses a modified 6-liter, 12 cylinder combustion engine for its propulsion. Engine in BMW emits only water thus making is one of the most environment friendly car in the present times.

BMW hydrogen powered car has higher degree of efficiency due to higher combustion pressure of the hydrogen-air mixture. Though hydrogen powered BMW hybrid car would give a no exhaust car but the sources through which the hydrogen come is very damaging to environment. The sources might be either fossil fuel like natural gas or by the use of grid electricity both of which releases hydrocarbons while production.

BMW is also developing fuel cell cars. It is developing combustion engine as the sum total of features and characteristics offered by it has got largest number of advantages all in one.

Electric and hybrid cars, Difference between electric and hybrid cars

Electric cars, hybrid cars: Difference between electric and hybrid cars. Why hybrid car is better then all electric cars.

Batteries: Hybrid car batteries recharge while you are driving. There is no need for plug in where, as after certain miles, electric vehicle batteries need recharge. Most electric cars need a recharge every 50-100 miles.
Speed: Electric cars could go only up to 50-60 miles/hr where as hybrid cars can go much faster then that.
Size: For maximum efficiency electric cars are small whereas we have SUVs in hybrid cars.
Price: Electric cars are cheaper then hybrid cars

Since long, people have been working hard to improve the batteries for electric cars. Still electric cars can only travel a fraction of distance traveled by gasoline cars. Hybrid car is the result of efforts put by people in developing electric cars and having faith in cars powered by electric motors. Hybrid car development is only a change in tactics due to failure in improvement of efficient batteries. Hybrid cars could be defined as an electric car assisted with a gasoline engine.

CART By the Number$

There has been a lot written about CART and why it failed but I’ve not seen the supporting numbers. I hope to bring the reality of CART as a business to bare here with the financials that I have gathered from publicly available sources. During my search I was fortunate to find financials from 1993 to 1997, the last year CART was private. It isn’t often we get a glimpse of the financials of a private company and believe me CART was no shining star in the business world in the early nineties as I will show later.

The day to day operations of this company are not significantly different than any other privately held corporation. What must have been the most difficult hurdle to overcome was the fact that there was too many owners. Penske, Patrick, McCaw, Haas, Rahal, Horne et al were all successful businessmen in there own right but collectively were not able to synergize that relationship. I believe, as do many, their collective association had the opposite effect. As I study the financials I my feelings about that are reinforced. Unfortunately without data from the beginning it’s difficult to be certain.

CART’s Revenues came from three primary sources; Sanctioning fees, Sponsorships and TV. In 2000, Cart’s best year, sanctioning fees were 50 % of revenues, sponsorships were 28%, TV was 8% and the remaining 14 % categorized as other.

In 2000 CART reported sanctioning fee revenue of 38M for the 21 race schedule that’s a 1.8M average. To give you an idea of what these fees might be the highest reported fee I have found is 4.2M for the Rockingham event.

For years 94 through 02 TV revenues were essentially unchanged running at about 5M per year. In 93 they reported 9M in TV revenue and in 03 only 2M.

Sponsorship fees grew from 4M in 93 peaking at 21M in 2000 then falling to 8M in 03.

In 93 CART had revenues of 30M, expenses of 30M and showed an after tax profit of 272K. The next two years were similar in that revenues were nearly equal to expenses with profits nearly doubling to 800K in 95. In 96 a loss of 300K on revenue of 41M is claimed. 97 is a convoluted year with the end of the private company. Here’s my best interpretation. The company lost considerable money that year either 5M or 17M depending on which report you follow.

The following is a cut and paste from the report:

In December 1997, as part of our reorganization, each stockholder of CART, Inc. exchanged their shares for stock of Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. Prior to our reorganization, the franchise race teams received reimbursement of travel expenses, directors fees and franchise payments in an aggregate amount equal to $8.5 million and $19.4 million for the years ended December 31, 1996 and 1997, respectively. The franchise teams signed an agreement on December 19, 1997 to discontinue these payments after January 1, 1998.

Sounds like the owners were paying themselves at the expense of the profitability of the company.

The first year of CART as a public corporation was a successful one as they had a profit of 15M on 63M of revenue followed by a profit of 19M on 69M of revenue in 99. In 2000 expenses began to take on ugliness. Expenses increased 15M from 44M in 99 to 59M in 2000 while revenues increased only 6M. Although they posted a profit of 15M, the stage was set for the final fall.

The next three years were disastrous as the revenues fell and the expenses climbed as they began burning through the 115M in cash and short term investments they had to keep the series alive.

The end came in 03 with shameful numbers.
Revenue 50M
Expenses 143M
Income (92M) For those who don’t know the numbers in parenthesis are negative.

Draw your own conclusions!

All of the data herein was gathered from sources publicly available and transcribed to the best of my ability. The numbers were rounded for clarity and as a result may not total as expected. M=millions K=thousands

Long Beach Notes

TG not buying LBGP;

TG is not likely to buy the LBGP, anyone with an ounce of business sense knows that 25M is too much to pay for the LBGP so it is easy to discount that rumor, at least for that price. And although I also agree that the IRL has a shot at the LBGP because Champcar “bailed” on the St. Petersburg event it cannot be forgotten that these two series are businesses. I remind everyone that it is doubtful that even the claimed 70,000 IRL weekend attendance at St. Petersburg was enough to break even. Dover and Champcar lost money at St. Petersburg as well. Champcar’s decision to bail was likely heavily influenced by that loss. Again these are businesses; if one survives it will be because it makes money.

What if Champcar looses the prix;

What does it really mean if Champcar looses the GP. Well, it is no doubt a huge blow to the CCWS coffer. The GP is second only to the Indy 500 in revenue for an open wheel event in North America….hmmm no wonder TG wants it. There will be a big negative trickle down effect in all aspects of the series. Can that be made up on the streets of LA? I doubt it. Should they loose it, I doubt that CCWS could hold another event before the 2006 LBGP. I think their back up plan might be Las Vegas! Anyway if they continue to draw the crowds as they have in Mexico and Canada as I suspect they will, they will make money. And if they loose the LBGP in the process so be it. I won’t like it but it is what it is.

Where’s the mission statement?

CCWS still doesn’t have a mission statement; perhaps if they did we could better understand how they intend to run their business.


What will it take to get decent television coverage in the future? CCWS certainly needs some help in this area. As I sat there at the beginning of the race my cell rang. It was my wife calling to ask if I had given her the correct information for recording it because the channel she was watching had football on it. Unbelievable!

Mario Doesn't Work Here Anymore

I never thought I would ever say this but it time for Mario, yes Mario Andretti to take a vacation. Time to quit meddling in the IRL/CCWS controversy. Time to leave the racing business to them. One of the greatest racing drivers ever should leave the new business of racing alone and let open wheel racing evolve as it will.

I had the opportunity to listen to Mario twice, both times at Road America, and each time I came away thinking, boy Mario has an opinion about everything. Both times he dominated conversation to the obvious dismay of the other panelists. Yes he saved the 2003 Road America event………or did he, now I wonder. Mario is becoming a lot of hot air.

Mario go make wine or something or if you really want to become involved dust of the old wallet and buy your right to interfere.

We still love you …….for now!

Long Beach Grand Prix Could Net Dover Over 9 Million

LBGP by the number$

Information gleaned from the 10k, the annual report that is required by the SEC to be filed by all corporations, filed by Dover Motor sports clearly shows that Dover Motor sports had revenues from the 2004 Long Beach Grand Prix of $8,986,000 dollars. If there is a modest increase in the revenues from this year’s event they could be looking at over $9,000,000. Dover’s share of ticket revenues is approximately 39% of top line revenues ($93,817,000 for 2004) according to their 10k. 39% of the 2004 revenues for the LBGP works out to $3,504,000. The remainder of the revenue comes from TV rights and fees, sponsorship fees, suite rentals, hospitality and catering, concessions, souvenir sales, vendor commissions and grandstand rentals.

Total ticket revenues become more of a guess though clearly 3.5M cannot be the total. If we assume that 50,000 three day passes were sold for an average of 110 dollars ($5,500,000) and the balance of the estimated 170,000 in attendance only purchased a $35.00 ticket for Friday or Saturday ($5,950,000) then the total from ticket sales alone exceeds $10,000.000. This would suggest that it is likely that CCWS and the city are sharing in the ticket sales also.

Champ car’s share would be strictly a guess but I wouldn’t be surprised if they collected at least 2.5M in ticket sales. Add that to the 2.4M sanctioning fee that we keep hearing about in the media and CCWS has a nice 5M revenue stream from the LBGP alone.

So what happens to the rest of the ticket revenues…only those who counted the money really know! Perhaps CCWS gets more or the city gets some, it could be a part of the $40,000,000 that is estimated to be what the city reaps from the event. We aren’t likely to ever know for sure.

This certainly looks to be a profitable event for all parties. 9 million is almost 10% of Dover’s top line for the year and given they are promoting 16 events this one certainly contributes more than its share to their business. I can’t imagine why Dover would be the slightest bit interested in giving up the event. Of course most everything is for sale and perhaps they think that this event does not have a future given the state of open U.S. open wheel racing. It will be very interesting to see if any of the rumors hold water. From a financial standpoint I say Dover retains the rights to the GP.

Powered by Ford... Drivers get your Cobras Here

Ford has agreed to a multi-year (2-3-4???) extension of their agreement with CCWS. They will provide high performance machines to the fast lap program, F150s to the safety team, and an allotment of vehicles to each Champ Car team.

"Ford Motor Company will retain its presence on the Ford-Cosworth XFE engines that power every car in the Champ Car World Series, continuing as the exclusive engine supplier to the series." ccws

WickerBill sez;

Ford badges stay on the engines......... Hmmm perhaps Kevin got a discount!

Time to Reflect

As we prepare for the season opener a mere 5 days from now we need to reflect upon how this series came to be what it is today. But for 3 committed individuals with a few dollars to spend, we would all be watching another form of racing. The demise of CART was told by many in many different ways and sadly so. The future of this series will depend on the business acumen of the current owners, nothing more and nothing less. I make this point abundantly clear in my article The Business of Champ Car

So let’s allow the three business leaders to develop the series as they see fit and hope their vision for the future of champ car racing will bring new glory to a series that was raped and pillaged by the previous regime.

Authors note:

In Bob Jennings’ World O’ Racing November 2001 article he covers some of the goings on inside CART. It’s a difficult read for the diehard Champ Car fan but if you didn’t already know you will find them intriguing. The diehard fan probable won’t make it past the first paragraph.

If you dare, follow the link. More Salt in The Wound

New hybrid cars

We would talk about the new hybrid cars or to say future hybrid cars going to available in the market in near future. First lets look at the present oil prices. This week average gas price per gallon in US is $2.15 compared to last week of $2.11, it is quite a increase. A year ago the gas prices per gallon was $1.76. Trend shows that it is the right time to go green.

Some of the future or new hybrid cars going to be available in the market are:

2007 Chevy Malibu Hybrid:
2007 Chevy Malibu Hybrid is going to have similar hybrid system as planned Saturn VUE SUV hybrid. The car will have a 12 to 15% increases in fuel economy. 2007 Chevy Malibu Hybrid will have automatic transmission with 4 cylinder, 2.4-liter engine with front-wheel drive. Less then 6 miles an hour and the engine shuts down thus car runs on battery system. This car is going to be built at Kansas City. 2007 Chevy Malibu Hybrid is going to have 24 miles and 35 miles per gallon on city and highway respectively.

2006 Nissan Altima Hybrid:
Nissan is not going to develop any hybrid program. Sole intention of introducing 2006 Nissan Altima Hybrid is to meet fuel economy and emissions standards in some states like California. Altima is buying hybrid technology from Toyota to build the car. The primary focus of 2006 Nissan Altima Hybrid will not be the fuel economy or reduced emission but the car will try to match performance and acceleration of non-hybrid models.

2007 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Minivan:
A larger version of Estima is Sienna marketed in US and Europe by Toyota. Sienna hybrid will be the first hybrid minivan available in US market. The exact date for the launch is not specified by Toyota but it is most likely going to be introduced in 2007. 2007 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Minivan will have 2.4 liter, four-cylinder engine. The hybrid engine will be very likely similar to Highlander or Lexus Hybrid SUVs. The engine will deliver 270 hp of power and will come with an acceleration of 0-60 km/hour in 8 seconds.

A few other new hybrid cars waiting round the corners are 2006 Lexus GS, 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe, 2007 Dodge Durango and 2007 GMC Yukon. We would discuss these cars in detail on my future blog.

IRL Finally Draws a Crowd

The voices in the Box were calling the crowd at 70,000 for the St. Pete race. They may have been very close as the view from the TV also looked good.

WickerBill Sez;

Finally a crowd for an IRL race. Perhaps this will be a lesson learned for TG. Now it will be interesting to see how many show up for the Glen and Infineon.

Series may Exclude Outside Engine Manufacturers for Foreseeable Future

In an interview with Dick Eidswick he has indicated that there are no plans to open up the engine requirements of the series to outside manufacturers.

"We have discussed it, but it is the belief of the ownership of this series that we want to have racing that concentrates on the drivers and the driver skills. That’s why we have such a variety of races – to test those drivers, no matter where they go. Having everyone run the same tires and the same engine gives the drivers an even playing field. In our racing, anyone can win. Some teams are stronger than others, but anyone can win, and we think that’s a good thing. Our tendency is to continue along with that pattern."

Follow link for complete interview CCWS

WickerBill sez;

Ah ha, just as I expected. In my article The Cosworth Spin I suggested that this was a possibility but I didn't think it could be done. Let's hope this coup de e'ssai doesn't turn into a coup de grace!


Not as in the state but as in the Japanese greeting for good morning give or take the goziamas. The Champ Car web site is reporting this morning that Kevin and his boys have been negoatiating with Japanese officials to hold a race in Japan in 2007.

WickerBill sez;

The W in CCWS grows even larger!


Robin Miller

Hey Robin, thanks for the update I bugged you for. Although there hasn't been much change in the driver line up yet it was nice to hear some of the reasons.

Also glad to hear your estimate of the Phoenix IRL race attendance wasn't far off. As I have said many times; 30,000 is not a crowd........then neither is 8000.

Glock + Lock = Maybe?

Rumor has it that Timo Glock has signed with Rocketsports but conditionally, if F1 calls then he goes there......maybe!

WickerBill sez;

Ain't this fun?

Sebring Testing Results

Day 1
1).. 51.47 Paul Tracy, Forsythe
2).. 51.64 Timo Glock, Rocketsports
3).. 51.82 Jos Verstappen, HVM
4).. 51.97 Andrew Ranger, Mi-Jack/Conquest
5).. 52.06 Ryan Hunter-Reay, Rocketsports
6).. 52.10 Rodolfo Lavin, Forsythe
7) ..52.13 Nelson Philippe, Mi-Jack/Conquest
8).. 52.39 Jimmy Vasser, PKV
9).. 52.57 Alex Tagliani, Walker
10).. 52.60 Oriol Servia, Dale Coyne
11) ..52.60 Marcus Marshall, Walker
12).. 52.62 Ronnie Bremer, HVM
13).. 52.92 Bjorn Wirdheim, Dale Coyne

Day 2
1).. 50.96 Timo Glock, Rocketsports
2).. 51.09 Jimmy Vasser, PKV
3).. 51.14 Rodolfo Lavin, Forsythe
4).. 51.15 Sebastien Bourdais, Newman-Hass
5).. 51.18 Alex Tagliani, Walker
6).. 51.22 Cristiano da Matta, PKV
7).. 51.22 Ryan Hunter-Reay, Rocketsports
8).. 51.30 Andrew Ranger, Mi-Jack/Conquest
9).. 51.36 Paul Tracy, Forsythe
10).. 51.42 Oriol Servia, Dale Coyne
11).. 51.42 Mario Dominguez, HVM
12).. 51.63 Roberto Gonzales, HVM
13).. 51.63 Nelson Philippe, Mi-Jack/Conquest
14).. 51.90 Bjorn Wirdheim, Dale Coyne
15).. 52.59 Marcus Marshall, Walker

Times provided by Cosworth Racing

Dominguez out of Work

The Long Beach Press telegram is reporting that Mario Dominguez has lost his ride at HVM due to a last minute sponsorship fall out. The Press Telegram reports that the deal fell through Wednesday.

WickerBill sez;

If true this deals a serious blow to the coffers at CCW$ since they will no doubt have to subsidize the HVM effort until they get sponsorship, which could be all season.

China - you bet!

CCWS has reached an agreement to hold an event in China.

Click link to read full story China

WickerBill sez;

Another venue NASCAR and the IRL can follow us to.
The W in CCWS gets stronger, perhaps a new name is in order, uhmm..... F something.
I hope we don't make Bernie mad!

CCWS in Argentina

The Edmonton Sun is reporting that Champ Car is close to a deal that would bring their show to Argentina. When.......... soon they say.

WickerBill sez:

Looks like the W in CCWS is coming to pass.

2005 Driver Line-Up Coming into Focus

WickerBill Sez:

Information as of today has the following line up of Driver/Teams for the 05 Season. Unconfirmed drivers in Italics

Upadated 3/30/04 Walker sold to Team Australia
Updated 3/31/05 Dominguez confirmed at Forsythe
Updated 4/1/05 Autosport confirms Wirdheim at HVM
Upadted 4/4/05 Bremer announced by HVM
Updated 5/7/05 R. Sperafico and Servia confirmed by Gurneyflap @paddock talk Forum
Updated 5/8/05 Del Monte confirmed by Toronto Sun for 1 Off at Long Beach

Newman Hass....................... Bordais / Junqueira
Team Australia...................... Tagliani / Marshall
PKV......................................Vasser / daMAtta
HVM..................................... Wirdheim / Bremer
Forsythe............................... Tracy / Dominguez
Rusport................................. Wilson /Allmendinger
Mi-Jack Conquest................. Ranger / Phillippe
Rocketsports........................ Hunter-Reay / Glock
Coyne.................................... Servia / R. Sperafico
Jensen.................................. Del Monte

NASCAR on the Streets of Toronto!

The Winston- Salem Journal recently indicated that NASACR has a desire to race in Canada. To that end they report that NACSAR will be on a fact finding tour in Montreal and Toronto. They also indicate that that CCWS's contracts could easliy be bought out.

WickerBill sez:


Give me a break.... 43 3400 pound behemoths on a street course, they'll wear out the yellow flag.

At least they're beginning to understand that racing is more than running in circles!

Post correction courtesy john rodman 3/26

Jensen to Announce Driver

Just spoke to Jensen MotorSport about the driver for their new Champ Car effort. They say the driver will not be Eric Jensen. They are set to announce on March 30.


Robin Miller- Straight from the Gearbox;

In your March 14 article over at the Champ Car World Series website you make a big deal of the unamed drivers for the 2005 season. Well don't leave us hanging....what's happening?

Newman Hass to Help Fill Indy 500 Field

IndyStar is saying that Newman Hass is dusting of their IRL chassis for a run at Indy this year, one for Bruno and one for Seabass.

Apparently Honda has found more money in their discretionary funds drawer or perhaps the budget was a well kept secret! Well, if they have to be there I hope they win.

Phoenix Attendance Update

IndyStar is putting the attendance at 15,000, much lower than my generous estimate of 30,000 in yesterday's comments. The basics don't change 15,000 or 30,000, either one ain't a crowd!

Attendance for First two IRL Races Abysmal

IndyStar generously puts the Homestead race attendance at 30,000. Without counting heads I would say that is a well spun number. Today’s attendance at Phoenix couldn’t have been any better judging from what I saw from the few peeks I could get of the crowd during the race. It seems that after 100 events over 10 years that having so few attending would be a wake up call for the business. Even with the so called high profile teams from CART the IRL continues to struggle with their attendance. You can spin the numbers anyway you want but if 30,000 is a problem then 31,000 is not the answer.

I believe CCWS is right thinking in their approach to have events only where it makes business sense, and good attendance is one of the fundamentals to that end. As I have said many times, one of these two series will likely not survive and the one that does will be the best business.

Verstappen to CCWS

Jo$ Ver$tappen is again rumored to be coming to CCW$, can you guess what he might bring to the game????

Jensen MotorSport ups the Ante

From Jensen website:

<Jensen MotorSport

Jensen Motor Sport is pleased to announce that our program will be considerably expanded to include competition at all fourteen (14) ChampCar World Series races in 2005.

Among many reasons why this news is special, is that this will be the first time in over twenty years that a Canadian based racing team will be competing at the top level of professional racing.

Jensen, based in Ontario Canada, expects to announce our driver for the ChampCar at a press event in Toronto on March 30th.

Team owner Eric Jensen states, "There are quite a few terrific driver prospects available to us. Our original plan was to participate in only four or five races in 2005, starting at the Molson Indy Toronto in July. However, we have had a terrific spring and some new corporate partners are providing us with the resources we need to run the whole season."

Now let's get the car count over 18.............!

Walker Racing to Field Two Lolas

Walker Racing announced that the team would field two Lolas this season ending speculation about the team's demise. The team also finds a home for Alex Tagliani, long time Champ car driver that has struggled to get a ride this year after being dumped from the Forsythe team. Partnering with Tagliani will be Marcus Marshall, who has competed in several European formulae ranging from Formula Renault to F3 and of late, Carrera Cup.

Walker said, “Media speculation had us gone from the series and closing our doors but the reality is we have had the elements of our two car multi-year commitment for nearly two months now. It takes time to find new sponsor partners. This commitment is clearly an indication of how the series is gaining strength and the renewed interest of companies in the future of the Champ Car World Series.”

So Long Road America

I say so long and not goodbye because although the Champ Cars are not scheduled to run at Road America in 2005 I still hold out hope that they will someday return. Although I no longer live in Milwaukee I would still make the pilgrimage there to see them run if they come back. After moving to Milwaukee in 1991, Road America quickly became my favorite road racing course and the annual trip to see the Champ Cars was highly regarded as a favorite summertime activity. The window for summertime activity in Wisconsin can be very narrow as many of the natives will admit. I even made some new Champ Car fans by asking them to join me on my annual trek. During the more than a decade I was privileged to go there I can honestly say I never had a bad experience. Even sitting in the rain with a poncho and umbrella trying to keep dry wasn’t enough to detract from the thrill of the event.

Champ Cars first raced at Road America in 1982 when Hector Rebaque a Formula 1 driver scored his first and only Champ Car win. He led only two miles of the entire race but it was the most important two as Unser ran out of fuel on the last lap giving the lead and win to Hector. A similar fate befell Al Jr. in 1996 when his engine went up in smoke in Canada corner on the last lap giving Michael Andretti his third Road America win shutting out the Unser’s from ever winning at Road America. Both Michael and Mario scored three peats at Road America the most by any driver in the 23 years of racing there.

Attendance at the 82 Champ Car race was estimated to be approximately 40,000. Attendance at the last race in 2004 was estimated to be 35,000. It’s little wonder that it has been omitted from the 2005 schedule. After 23 years of racing Champ Cars at Road America there was a net loss of approximately 5000 in attendance. However during the peak years in the 90’s attendance was very good. I can remember at one race there was an announcement that came over the PA system proclaiming the race was being attended by the largest crowd ever to see a sporting event in the state of Wisconsin. I don’t know the exact number but it must have been in the range of 85 to 90,000. In those days you couldn’t always find a good seat to watch the race from if you didn’t go early and reserve it. There was some unwritten rule which allowed you to unofficially reserve a seat or spot by placing a blanket or some other identifying object over the seats you wanted. I always thought it was very presumptuous of the fans to assume they would still have their belongings much less the spots they were trying to reserve come race time but it always seemed to work out, I never saw any disagreements over the process when the fans returned to lay claim. Also, in it’s heyday you waited in line to get eats, the paddocks were full of fans with huge crowds gathered around the most popular teams even the Neon paddock had crowds. And getting out of the facility after the race was an art in itself. At the 2003 race, my last, it was as though I was the only one there. No waiting for any of the facilities, my years of learning the best escape route after the race wasn’t even needed. It was a sad commentary for what used to be a really great event.

One of my fondest memories will always be the pace car ride I got. I knew that by not being invited as a sponsor or other support member, which the pace car rides were reserved for, I was not likely to get a ride, but after a lot of finagling and some very helpful advice found on the internet I scored a ride. And, oh yeah, you do have to sign away your life before you get in! The rides began and ended at the turn five cut through. After I got in and buckled up, the driver a very nice young lady, yes I said lady, who later told me see would also be driving in the Neon race, took off up the hill to turn six. As we entered six I became convinced that it would not be possible to go that fast through this turn. As we exited the turn my whole outlook on the speeds through these turns was altered forever. When you are watching from trackside it is night and day different than when you are actually doing it! After turn six Hurry Downs and the Carousel was a piece of cake. As we exited the carousel and accelerated towards the Kink I glanced down at the speedometer to see it approaching 100. The Kink began to look more like a 90 degree turn to my rookie eyes than a kink. But once we were through it I thought, this is really fun where do I get a license. I don’t even remember Canada corner, said to be named after the large crowds of Canadians which gathered there in the track’s early days, so I assumed by then I was getting used to the speed. When we arrived back at the cut though and what should have been the end of the ride there was no one waiting for a ride, the driver looked at me and said this is your lucky day and off we went for another lap. This time I was completely prepared for turn six I even secretly wished she would have tried going faster.

Everyone that has been there agrees the food at Road America is great. It goes beyond the usual hot dog or hamburger that is commonly available at other venues. My first stop after arriving at the track was always Siebkens in the Champ Car paddock for some of their Cajon potatoes. It was not unusual to have to wait for them to finishing cooking a batch as they were very popular. You could get a brat at almost any of the stands around the track. My favorite was to get one from the Johnsonville barbeque; a huge promotional Barbie made the size of an 18 wheeler, to promote the Johnsonville brand.

Every October the track sponsors a walk and run for the American Cancer Society and all of the entry fees are donated. Everyone entering gets a nice long sleeve T shirt. Long sleeved you ask, hey it’s Wisconsin. After losing a friend to cancer I decided to get off my can and at least enter the walk part. It was an opportunity to see the track close up and besides I could use the exercise. This trip was almost enlightening a as my pace car ride. When I took off walking I saw that there were some very serious runners also in this event. Before I reached the first of the watering stations, which were set up at one mile increments, the PA announcer was excitedly reporting seeing the first runner crossing the finish line. Sure glad I signed up for the walk part!

For the sake of future generations I hope Champ Car and Road America can work through their differences and find a way to co-promote an event at this beautiful track. I would love to go back there to experience some more of the many thrills I have had there. Perhaps Champ Car can revive itself to the popularity it once had, then maybe it will be easier for the two parties to get together. If it doesn’t happen I may have seen my last race there. I certainly hope not.

Bill Sheets
© Copyright 2005

IRL Fails to Impress

I couldn’t help tuning in to the IRL Homestead event yesterday after I found out that Scheckter had won the pole. It’s not that I have any particular fondness for Scheckter and definitely not for the IRL but my interest was how the Chevrolet, assisted by Cosworth, engine would do in the race.

It certainly seemed to me that the Chevrolet was up to the challenge especially in the early stages of the race. Of course it’s hard to tell exactly what all of the team strategies are without first hand knowledge so the early domination by the Panther driver may have been as a result of more conservative fuel strategies by the other teams. As the race developed it became clear that Scheckter had the power to dominate. It appeared that the Panther team pit stops were costing track position as each time they pitted he came out down in position from where he entered. Of course it was the final yellow that cost Scheckter any chance of showing what the Chevy was made of as the melee on the restart took him and several others out.

That final yellow thrown by race control for a very minor grass fire along the pit roadway was, in my opinion, unnecessary. The yellow flag syndrome just seems to get worse. At some point racing may need to be renamed for color of it’s caution flag.

The other draw to the race had nothing to do with the action on the track but the television coverage offered up by ESPN. The idea of having a small box in one part of the screen and another larger box in another part of the screen running a commercial so we didn’t miss out on the action during commercials was a bust. On my 27 inch screen the action box, which in this race was only showing the parade of yellow flag action, was too small to keep my interest. I can’t imagine a sponsor ever signing up for that again.

Over all the show was unimpressive, oh and what about the close racing......forget it, you mean yellow flag induced close racing!
 Posted by Hello


I found this tidbit on a website which shall remain nameless. I can certainly see why such speculation might exist given the IRL's history of teaming up with NASCAR to help the attendance at their events. I would hope that this is only rumor and nothing ever comes of it but if it does come to pass I hope that Indianapolis Motor Speedway isn't a part of the deal.

WickerBill sez;

I’ve been critical of Tony George's business acumen since long before he split open wheel racing. Perhaps if this is true it gives even more credence to my criticism. Why? -- He won't make a dime from the deal!

What could this mean to the Champ Car series? Who knows, I think it would largely depend on what NASCAR has up their sleeve. Do you think Kalkhoven has enough money to wrest IMS from TG?
 Posted by Hello

Bridgestone Renews as Presenting Sponsor Initiates Qualifiying Awards

Bridgestone has agreed to continue as the CCWS presenting sponsor for this season. New this year will be a $10,000 Pole Award given at each Champ Car event.

The award will go to the top qualifier at every event with $5,000 going to the pole-winning driver and another $5,000 to charity. Half of the charitable amount will go to the Association of Hole In The Wall Camps – “The Official Charity of Champ Car” – with the remaining $2,500 awarded to other local and national charities. In addition, $30,000 will be awarded on behalf of the Bridgestone brand at the end of the season to the driver winning the most poles during the year, with a $10,000 prize also going to the winning team’s chief mechanic.

Okay.............Now what about the powered by Ford Part?
 Posted by Hello

Williams Test Driver Pizzonia at Newman Hass

Former Williams F1 test driver Antonia Pizzonia is rumored to be testing with Newman Hass. It seems odd that Newman Hass would be considering testing anyone unless they are anticipating a third car for the season. With the CCWS owners in the "Drive for Dollars" mode they must anticipate that Pizzonia can bring the necessary 6 million. They didn't sign da Matta, a former champion, so how could they even consider Pizzonia. I think a third car would have an adverse effect on the success of the team this year. And with Carl Hass's rumored Indy effort there would be way to much dilution of effort for the team to be successful. My guess - No third car at NHR.
 Posted by Hello

New Rules for 2005

CCWS is adopting new rules for the 2005 season. The old pit stop window is going to be abolished. No longer will teams have mandated pit stops during the race. This will allow the teams to make pit decisions based on individual situations. Also this year the pits will be closed as soon as a full course yellow begins. The Pace car will pick up the leaders quickly and the pits will remain closed until safety has cleared the cause of the yellow, then the pits will open.

These are changes which could potentially make for some exciting racing or if poorly managed could cause difficulty. It would be nice to see CCWS tweak the length of the races to prevent some of the fuel mileage racing we’ve seen in the past. As for the pit lane closure there needs to be an electronic indicator for the drivers, be it a light on the PI or a large sign at pit in. I prefer the large sign! There will be issues with these new rules this year!

Bill Sheets
© Copyright 2005

Gas electric car, Hybrid cars a must buy. Why?

Isn't hybrid cars cool. Yes, it is. But why? Have you ever thought of the green house effect or how the exhaust from the cars degrading our environment? Have you ever thought of going green? Have you ever thought what is the gift you are going to give to next generation. Are you planning that you would not give even a ounce of fresh air for the generations to come. Have you ever thought, how much you would make your country dependable on other countries for fossil fuel? If you have not given thought to all the above then :( . Lets do it even if you have to cough a bit of extra $1000-1500 as this price is nothing as compared to the benifits you are going to get when you buy a hybrid car.

Do not let your financial considerations affect environmental and patriotic concerns. Once you drive a gas electric car, you would be proud of yourself that your environment car is using less gasoline and affecting the environment to a minimum level. Price difference between Hybrid cars and non hybrid cars should not be a point of concern for you. After all your act is also benifiting country, environment and the generation to come. Isn't your small gesture, a little extra price, going a long way in benifiting the lives of lot of people in the world.

Hybrid Cars Make No Sense: Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn

Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn comment on hybrid cars makes no sense. He thinks that hybrid cars have not yet come to a point where it matches its cost in terms of usability. He said, "They make a nice story, but they're not a good business story yet because the value is lower than their costs". Mr. Carlos, have you heard of a word called green. Is there only one criteria of buying something? I think, he might want to go through my blog once before giving a comment like this.

Point to be noted is, Nissan is going to start production of gas electric car of its Altima sedan, somewhere around 2006 for US markets. :) However, Nissan is going license some of the hybrid technology from Toyota, the market leader in manufacturing of hybrid cars. Ghosn also commented that hybrid cars sold in US market were mere 88,000 compared to 16.9 million light vehicles sold in 2004. So he thinks hybrid cars are considered as niche products.

Automobile industry is optimistic of fuel cell technology but Ghosn doesn't think so. He said, "The cost to build one fuel cell car is about US$800,000. Do the math and you figure out that we will have to reduce the cost of that car by more than 95 percent in order to gain widespread marketplace acceptance". Now if you had to buy a PIII PC 20 years back, how much would be its cost. I think all his comments were baseless and I can't take any one of them.
Shorty Posted by Hello

Welcome Back "Shorty"

Christiano da Matta has signed on with PKV racing and will partner with team owner and driver Jimmy Vasser. Last time I saw Christiano was in the pits at Milwaukee. Not only was he short he didn't look to be much over 16 years old. I see that has changed. It will be great to see if Christiano and Jimmy can take full advantage of the other new PKV member, general manager Jim McGee. McGee's history in the sport is one of perfection and winning. Perhaps the 2005 season championship will not be so easily captured by the Newman Haas team.

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