Racing News and Notes, June 12

June 12, 2006

Here’s the news from the world of motorsports:


Formula 1

All Quiet on the Schumacher Front: There was a lot of noise being made last week about the scheduled meeting of the Grand Prix Drivers Association at Silverstone, with drivers such as Jacques Villeneuve and Mark Webber demanding an explanation from GPDA president Michael Schumacher about his qualifying “mishap” at Monaco, in which his qualifying times were disallowed after he seemingly intentionally caused a caution flag in the final moments of the session, denying his competitors a chance to better their times. The meeting came and went, and Schumacher apparently escaped censure and remains in office. Villeneuve did resign from the organization afterwards, but that appears to be the end of that. In a couple of weeks, everyone will have forgotten it ever happened.


Mosley’s View on Future Engines: FIA president Max Mosley held a press conference this week at Silverstone, where he not only said that the engine-spec freeze as proposed by the FIA for 2008-2010 would proceed as planned, but also gave his thoughts on the future of Formula 1 engines. Mosley sees the future in energy storage devices to save fossil fuels. He proposed a new formula to start in 2011 that would measure engines not by capacity but by energy consumption. He left this particular ball in the court of the manufacturers, asking them to decide how such a concept could be realized, with the conditions that the engines be racing engines and the technology relevant to road cars. For somebody who has spent the last year talking about saving money in Formula 1, this sounds like a lot of R&D expense.





Team Red Bull to Debut This Year: Team Red Bull, which will be one of the new Toyota Camry teams in Nextel Cup next year, will get a jump-start on the learning curve by entering three races this season with former series champ Bill Elliott driving. The team has not announced what brand of cars they will use, but they plan to race at Charlotte and Atlanta in October and Texas in November to get their feet wet. No word on who will be driving the two Red Bull Camrys next year, but there’s a lot of speculation.


Silly Season Heats Up: With Dale Jarrett’s recent defection from Robert Yates Racing to Michael Waltrip’s new Toyota team, the Silly Season dominoes are starting to fall. This past week, Casey Mears announced that he will not remain with Chip Ganassi Racing next year, and Brian Vickers announced that he has received clearance from Hendrick Motorsports to look at other opportunities. Gossip has Mears taking Vickers’ place at Hendrick and Vickers going to Team Red Bull, or Mears going to Red Bull, or one of them going to Yates…. The fact is, there are some choice seats available, and not a whole lot of what are considered suitable (read “able to win right now”) drivers to fill them.


Haas to Build Wind Tunnel: Gene Haas, who owns Haas CNC Racing and made his fortune in CNC machines, has announced plans to build a $40 million full-scale, rolling-road wind tunnel in Concord, NC. It will be located near the Concord Regional Airport, in very close proximity to the Roush, Ganassi and Hendrick racing teams, and will be the only facility of its type in North America. Haas says the tunnel will be available to all types of race teams as well as OEM and racing-car manufacturers. Groundbreaking will take place in January, and the facility is expected to be completed later in 2007.

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