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Monthly Archives: July 2007

Scott Does Speed Out of Formula One

Scott Speeds Out of Formula OneIt’s official, Scott Speed is out of Formula One, being replaced for the rest of the season starting at this weekends Hungarian Grand Prix by young German driver Sebastion Vettel.

Vettel has been the test driver for the BMW Sauber Formula One team, and was released yesterday by the team to take up the opportunity with Formula One team Toro Rosso. He is no stranger to Toro Rosso part owner and sponsor Red Bull, having come through the ranks of the Red Bull Young Driver Program, just like the man he is replacing Scott Speed.

At the US Grand Prix 20-year-old Vettel was the youngest driver in the history of Formula 1 to score a championship point. Speaking about BMW’s decision to release Vettel for a racing seat at Toro Rosso BMW team boss Mario Theissen said:

“As our test and reserve driver Sebastian has carried out sterling work for us. When he stood in for Robert Kubica in the USA Grand Prix he made history by becoming the youngest debutant to earn a world championship point. However, the current testing rules mean that he barely gets a chance to drive for us. Now he has been offered the opportunity to get inside a Toro Rosso cockpit. We have sponsored and coached Sebastian over a number of years. To place obstacles in his career path now would go against our concept of talent promotion.”

“BMW and Red Bull have a longstanding partnership in supporting Sebastian. Toro Rosso is the sister team of Red Bull Racing, and in that context it makes sense for us to release him. In a sponsoring partnership the main thing is to use the best opportunities that present themselves to a young driver at any given time.”

This news comes hot on the heels of the US Grand Prix being dropped, so once again American F1 fans are let out in the cold, without a driver to follow, and without a race.

Nelson Piquet Goes to Driving School

Nelson Piquet Goes to Driving SchoolNelson Piquet Sr. went back to Driving School, taking his first driving lesson earlier this week in Brazil.

He needed to take driving lessons again as he had lost his driving license for getting too many speeding and parking tickets.

Piquet Sr, the three time Formula One World Champion has to take courses again to get back his driving license.

“I think we have to pay for our mistakes, It’s not even just a speeding problem. I got tickets for all kinds of reasons, for things like parking where I shouldn’t.” said Piquet.

Ever Wonder About all that Coke Drinking

Elliot Sadler Drinks a Coke for CharityCoke has never been considered any sort of sports drink, yet a number of NASCAR drivers will do anything to be seen drinking Coke on screen.

Every wondered why ?

Well the over the top antics, well beyond the usual sponsor keyword rich interviews, is all for a good cause.

Every time a Coke sponsored NASCAR driver drinks coke onscreen Coke donates to their favorite charity. No wonder many of them are so keen to be sucking on a bottle of coke after a long and hot race. I’m sure as soon as the cameras are off they are running to find something a little easier to deal with than Coke.

At least it’s all in the name of a good cause.

Tony Stewart Wins Again at the Brickyard

Tony Stewart and Team Climbing the Fence after the win at the Brickyard 400It’s every boys dream growing up in the shadow of the hallowed grounds, winning at the famed Indianapolis Speedway, and Tony Stewart now joins those elite that have won there more than once.

Stewart was the dominant car throughout the race, moving through the field to the front quickly, and staying at or near the front for the rest of the day. This win comes right after his win at Chicagoland Speedway, which was his first of 2007.

Chip Ganassi’s team showed more muscle than they have shown at many of the years races, locking out the front row with Jaun Pablo Montoya starting 2nd on the grid while teammate Reed Sorenson took the pole. Montoya proved he is learning all about NASCAR quickly, and ran at the front of the pack all day, finishing a strong second with a late pass on series leader Jeff Gordon in the last few laps of the race. Sorenson meanwhile also had a strong run, finishing up in 5th place.

In the last few laps of the race it looked like a strong run from Kevin Harvick would see the 29 Chevy in victory lane, but a charging Stewart was determined to get by, even going so far as to call “here kitty kitty kitty” at one point over his team radio. Stewart made a calculated move to get past Harvick, which resulted in the two banging fenders, which upset Harvick and unsettled his car, eventually dropping him down to 7th in the finishing order.

It was not all plain sailing for Stewart though, in post race interviews he dropped the word “bullshit” into his interview, which will certainly cost him with a NASCAR fine, and may even cost him some championship points.

Will Scott Speed Out of Formula One

Scott Speed and Team Toro Rosso seem to be at odds, with the smart money being on Speed making an exit, either soon, or at the latest at the end of the year.

Both team co-owner Gerhard Berger, and team manager Franz Tost appear to have been less than supportive towards Speed, and at the German Grand Prix there was some pushing and shoving between Speed and Tost.

After the incident Speed has been quoted as saying:

After the race Franz spent 15 minutes apologizing for his behavior, because it was clear to everyone that he was way out of line,” Speed said. “But after coming out and denying this stuff, it’s just another very dishonest thing that Franz or Gerhard (Berger) have said in the media to damage me and Tonio (Liuzzi). And at this point, I’ve had enough. I know that it’s going to hurt Red Bull, and that’s definitely not my intention, because Dietrich Mateschitz and Red Bull have been a huge support to me. They’re the reasons I have achieved everything I have in motor racing. But Franz Tost, in particular, is out of control.

I was furious,” Speed said. “I walked to the pit wall and wanted to inform everyone that this happened. So I looked at my team manager, the technical director, and Gerhard Berger, and told them that if my team chief ever touches me again, I’m going to knock him out. They said, ‘OK, let’s try to calm this whole situation down.’ I said ‘Fine’ and went back in my room and I stayed there until the end of the race. At which point Gerhard and Franz both came back. Franz was calmed down and spent 15 minutes apologizing for his behavior.

“Obviously Franz Tost and Gerhard Berger have been pushing the same dishonesty to the media, and I’m worried that might have ruined my relationship with Red Bull,” he said. “Because Red Bull has been amazing to me, and I think we fit together really good, and it’s a shame to let these two people ruin the whole thing. As far as my future in F1 is concerned, you couldn’t pay me enough money to race for those two people again. If it was with a different team, that would be great, but I would also like to do something else with Red Bull, even if it was outside F1.

Waiting in the wings to possibly take over the 2008 seat is 3 time Champcar Champion Sebastion Bourdais.

If Speed is dropped it would mean that there would be once again no American in F1, which these days after Formula One recently turned it’s back on the US by not extending the contract of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Bernie Ecclestones comments that maybe America is no so important to F1, maybe it does not matter that no Americans are racing in F1.

On the other side, Red Bull has a huge investment in the Red Bull young driver program, which was started with the aim of getting an American into F1, and to help Red Bulls marketing in America, it seems odd that there is so little support for Speed from Red Bull, but then the Red Bull team itself does have drivers David Coulthard and Mark Webber, neither of who have come through any of the Red Bull driver programs. As with all things in motorsport, only time will tell what happens.

What are Fatheads

What are Fatheads ?


That’s what a Fathead is. Are You Fan Enough?


Toyota Wins First Race

They have done it!

In their first season in the Busch series Toyota has won a race. Jason Leffler passed Greg Biffle with only a couple of laps left in the race at O’Reilly Raceway Park (formerly Indianapolis Raceway Park) and held on to take the win. Backing up his win was David Reutimann, who finished in 3rd place, highlight Toyotas competitive debut in the Busch series this year.

“This was just real exciting to win like that at the end – beating and banging all the way through the final laps,” Leffler said, after taking only his second Busch Series win in 139 starts, and the first of his last 83 races.

“I just had a lot of fun tonight. I really wanted to be the one to do it and I’m really happy for Todd (Braun) and our whole team for being the ones to pick up the win.

“I’m pretty excited to have my name going into the history books as Toyota’s first Busch Series winner.”

Polesitting Aric Almirola looked like the man to beat right from the start of the race, but after halfway through he faded a little with a less than perfect handling car, but was never far from the front, finishing up in 6th place. In the second half of the race Greg Biffle was the man with the best handle on the conditions, and with only 5 laps to go looked like he would win, until Leffler aggressively drove his way to the front. Carl Edwards was also a late contender in the race, at one point running side by side lap after lap with teammate Biffle, but faded a little to 4th, which is another great result given his huge series point lead.

“The handling was not very good all night,” Biffle said. “We really struggled with our car but it was real super loose at the beginning of the race, I tightened it up and then I lost the race because I was too tight. I couldn’t get the gas down and unfortunately the no.38 came and beat us because of that.” said Greg Biffle after the race.

As usual it was an action packed race. The almost flat short oval has always produced some great racing, with several grooves, allowing side by side racing in the 26 years that the Busch series has visited it.

Good Ol Boys Struggle When Computers Go Bad

Ray Evernham has given some interesting insight into why his teams have been so bad this year. A year ago they were one of the teams leading the way, with the most poles and wins for any tea, but this year they are nowhere. Kasey Khane and Elliot Sadler have struggled through the year, with them both in danger of falling out of the top 35 earlier on, while Scott Riggs has had a dismal season, being out of the top 35 for most of it.

“We were basing a lot of our decisions off information that was not correct,” said Evenrham.

At the heart of the problem is the simulation software that the team uses to test various things, including aerodynamics, without having to build models  and put the in the wind tunnel. Apparently the team used a pre-season test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the baseline for calibrating the software, and it has been found out recently that the data from that test was wrong, leading to the situation where the cars being built did not match the simulations on the track, in fact nowhere near it.

Evernham also admits that until very recently the cause of the problems was unknown by the team, and with Ray moving across to look after the business side of the team more and more, the results and performances of the team have just dropped through the floor.

“We basically have spent half a year trying to a build a foundation that didn’t exist. The information we had was nonexistent. We had to go back to doing things the normal way and throw cars in the wind tunnel to find out that there was a huge difference, and we didn’t have what we thought we had,” Evernham said.

“It’s got us far behind. Everything we did this year basically with the ’07 cars is useless.”

As a stop gap measure Evernham has acted quickly as soon as the cause was known. He has  put technical director Eric Warren on leave, and Evernham himself has stepped back into the engineering team in order to get things back on track. He has decided to just drop everything they have done this year, pull the plug on the computers for the time being, and go back to exactly what they were doing lat year, including wheeling out the setups and other things they used in last years successful campaign.

“In the end, when you have people who are responsible for performance, and the performance is way off, you have to make changes with those people,” Evernham said. “We had to face some difficult changes. Sometimes those things don’t go the way people want them to. But ultimately, aerodynamically and simulation-wise were the responsibility of the engineering department, and that was led by Eric Warren. If you’re a football coach or a college coach and the team is losing, ultimately you have to make changes in the areas of responsibility.”

“Quite honestly, the bottom line is we said that I was going to stand back a little bit and get involved in more business and concentrate on that,” Evernham said. “I handed the competition off a little bit, and we basically got off of our philosophy. We didn’t implement our checks and balances as we had been.”

It’s almost unthinkable that this could happen to a top team like this, but as we have seen the tools and technology used by the teams continue to develop it can and does happen. Sometimes the teams will rely on new technology a little too much, dropping all their past checks and balances. We should see an immediate upswing in the fortunes of the 9, 10 and 19 cars, however if we don’t I wonder where Evernham will look next.

Robert Yates a Forward Thinker and Innovater

After reporting a possible merger was in the wind for Robert Yates racing yesterday, today Robert Yates revealed something a little different at a press conference at Indianapolis.

It turns out that Robert Yates has formed a technical partnership with Newman Haas Lanigan racing, who race in the Champcar series.

The new company is called Yates-Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing, and it’s purpose will be to develop and supply technology to the Robert Yates NASCAR teams. This now ends any speculation that Robert Yates will be selling his team, or even taking on an outside business partner, he will remain firmly in control of his teams, but will benefit from some outside of NASCAR thinking and also has the opportunity to apply some outside of NASCAR technology to his teams.

“We were looking for people who could help us race better,” Yates said. “There are a lot of people out there who [think] NASCAR’s very attractive, but we wanted someone who could help us race better and it’s not just cubic dollars that helps us race better.

“We have more responsibility to these guys because they want trophies and wins rather than somebody who gives us a lot of money. Again, this is about people who want us for the right reasons. The financial side usually takes care of itself when you run good.”

With the introduction of the Car of Tomorrow this year, and the fact that it will go fulltime in 2008 Yates feels this is his best move.

“The Car of Tomorrow coming into NASCAR is really perfect timing for our partnership … because they come from a world of splitters and wings,” co-owner Doug Yates said. “We feel like NASCAR has put a closer tolerance on the bodies, so now you can engineer the car and get some results that may make some sense.

“Their world is engineering, our world has been NASCAR and together we hope that we can take this company, blending the old and the new, to a new level.”

Again our old friend or enemy time will tell, but this could be a masterstroke by forward thinking Yates, and might just get him access to a fresh group of engineers who can step back and look more from an overall perspective than engineers inside NASCAR. Look for some fresh ideas and engineering on the Yates cars in the future.

Another Motorsport Merger

Hot on the heels of the DEI/Ginn Racing merger it seems there will be another merger. This time however it looks like a NASCAR team will merge with another team form outside NASCAR.

Word on the street is  that longtime Ford team Robert Yates Racing will merge with current Champcar powerhouse Newman Hass racing.

Not much is know at this time, but an announcement is expected Friday. This does come as a surprise as recently Robert Yates had said that he had given up on finding a partner at this time, but he did say that a head hunting company would continue to quietly look around for opportunities.