CART FedEx CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES HAPPENINGS Notes and Quotes from Championship Auto Racing Teams, December 9, 1999
Championship Auto Racing Teams announced this week changes in testing and tire supply rules for the 2000 season.
Under the changes that were approved by CART's Franchise Board on Dec. 2, each one-car team will be allotted 20 total days of testing from the end of the season blackout in 1999 (Dec. 3) through the final race of the 2000 season (Oct. 29). This total includes 12 days of out-of-season testing, six in-season testing days and two optional test days either in- or out-of-season.
Two-car teams will be allotted a total of 28 days of testing under the new guidelines. This includes 16 out-of-season testing days, eight days in-season and four optional test days.
It also represents a decrease of approximately 14 percent in the amount of total test days initially announced by CART for 2000 in mid October and a 44 percent decrease from the total testing days allotted during the 1999 season (50 for a two-car team).
"This change in our testing rules demonstrates the Franchise Board's resolution to take care of our participants quality of life and reducing the overall cost of competition while maintaining the competitive atmosphere that characterizes the CART FedEx Championship Series," said Tim Mayer, CART Senior Vice President for Racing Operations.
CART also altered tire supply rules for the coming season, modifying the number of sets of tires available to teams at superspeedways from 15 to 12 sets, and defining the specific tire sets available for each entrant in open tests, Spring Training and individual team testing.
"We have worked in close cooperation with Firestone to produce a set of regulations that will allow the company to guarantee the same high quality of service, performance and competition that we have seen Firestone tires produce in past years, ," said J. Kirk Russell, CART Vice President of Competition. "These rules provide both Firestone and our competitors with a framework with which to plan their testing and competition needs."
* CHANGES IN THE WORKS AT MCDONALD'S
Forsythe Racing's McDonald's Championship Racing Team made two major announcements regarding the 2000 season. The team has formed a joint venture with Swift Engineering and the Arciero family to race a Swift factory team in the coming year. The McDonald's team will continue to be powered by Honda, with CART's 1998 Rookie of the Year Tony Kanaan piloting the Swift 011.c chassis. "If you look at the results, Swift has proven its competitiveness on the track," said team owner Jerry Forsythe. "To have full factory support from Swift combined with our continued relationship with Honda, which has claimed four consecutive driver's championships, has very strong potential. I am very excited about new relationship and our prospects for the future." Also, Steve Dickson, the team's Indy Lights manager, was promoted to the position of Team Manager with McDonald's Championship Racing Team. Dickson, a veteran of more than 20 years in motorsports whose uncle Larry Dickson competed in Champ Cars in the early 1980s, led the team to consecutive Indy Lights Championships in 1997 with Kanaan and in 1998 with Cristiano da Matta.
* DIANE HOLL JOINS DELLA PENNA MOTORSPORTS
Della Penna Motorsports Wednesday announced that Diane Holl has joined the team and will serve as chief engineer for the Toyota Reynard to be driven by Richie Hearn in the 2000 CART FedEx Championship Series season. Holl worked with McDonald's Championship Racing last season as an engineering manager and served as an engineer with the team in 1996 and '97 when it was known as Tasman Motorsports. Previously, Holl was lead research and development engineer for Reynard Racing Cars in 1994 and '95. "I've been watching Diane's career for awhile now and have continually been impressed with her work," said team owner John Della Penna. "The opportunity to work with such an experienced and talented engineer was too good to pass up." Holl, a native of Great Britain, will begin her work with Della Penna later this week as Hearn prepares to get his first run in the 2000 Reynard Toyota at Sebring International Raceway.
* MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE GETS FIRST LOOK AT NEW PACKAGE
After taking delivery of its new Reynard 2KI chassis late last week, Marlboro Team Penske was scheduled to give its new Honda Reynard package its first shakedown Wednesday and Thursday at the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course. Gil de Ferran was slated to test Wednesday and Thursday while Helio Castro-Neves is set to get behind the wheel Thursday afternoon. "We've scheduled Gil to do the majority of the testing since he has experience with the Honda Reynard and he can provide some initial feedback," said Tim Cindric, President of Penske Racing, Inc. Cindric also announced that Andrew Borne, who previously worked with Castro-Neves at Hogan Racing, has joined Team Penske as race engineer for Castro-Neves. Tom German, who has been with the team since 1997, will serve as race engineer for de Ferran.
* PLAYER'S ROOKIE TAGLIANI IMPRESSIVE IN FIRST TEST
Taking advantage of the extra test time afforded to incoming rookies in the CART FedEx Championship Series, Alexandre Tagliani of the Player's Forsythe Racing Team took to the track for his first official Champ Car test session earlier this week at Sebring International Raceway. Since the Player's 2000 package is still a few weeks away from being delivered, Tagliani tested in a 1999 Reynard chassis, powered by a 1999 Ford-Cosworth engine. "Even through the new cars will be a bit different, these first laps on the track are important to get me accustomed to the Champ Car," said Tagliani, who has competed in the Toyota Atlantic Series since 1996. "The Player's crew is really working hard to help get me used to the various set-ups, particularly in regard to the downforce, which will be greatly reduced with the 2000 package."
* CHAMP CAR DRIVERS EARN RECOGNITION ON ALL-AMERICA TEAM
Five drivers who competed in the 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series, and another driver who will race in the series in 2000, have been recognized as members of the 1999 All-America Auto Racing Team. The team, selected annually by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, is comprised of open wheel, stock car, road racing, drag racing and short track drivers. At-large drivers from various levels of motorsports are also recognized and a first team, second team and an honorable mention squad is chosen. 1999 FedEx Championship Series champion Juan Montoya of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing was named to the first team. Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti, who finished second to Montoya in the series points race this season, was named to the second team. Kenny Brack, who competed in the Indy Racing League in 1999 and will race for Team Rahal in 2000, was also named to the second team. Michael Andretti of Newman/Haas Racing, Paul Tracy of Team KOOL Green and the late Greg Moore, who competed for the Player's Forsythe Racing Team, earned honorable mention recognition on the All-America Team.
* CART SAYS GOODBYE TO DISTINGUISHED OFFICIAL
The Champ Car community lost a dear friend Monday when former CART official Nick Sanborn passed away at age 64. Sanborn died following complications from brain cancer surgery. He worked as a volunteer for CART from 1985-95, serving in race control as the chief communicator for the CART Safety Team. "Everyone at CART was saddened to learn of Nick's untimely death, particularly the close-knit officiating family," said Tim Mayer, CART Senior Vice President of Racing Operations. "Nick started racing in the 1950s when he started building and driving stock cars for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and he rose through the ranks of the Hill Climb until he became the President and CEO of Pikes Peak Auto Hill Climb and Educational Museum. His work with CART began after a conversation with (retired CART Chief Steward) Wally Dallenbach and Kirk Russell in 1985 when he was running his own construction company. He brought great experience, organization and zeal with him to CART and for a decade he was a staple in Race Control. Nick will be missed for his contributions to racing but more especially for his friendship." Dallenbach, one of Sanborn's closest friends, said he will always remember Sanborn's calming influence during some hectic times in Race Control. "The safety team all loved Nick," said Dallenbach. "He just had that kind of a voice and demeanor that carried you through in a crisis. As an official and as a friend, he was one of the best."
* CART.COM NUMBERS SOAR
Visits to CART's official web site, Cart.com, have more than doubled in the past year, according to recent statistics provided by Mediamark Research Inc. From January through October of 1999, there were 6,617,685 visits to the site. That number represents an increase of 120 percent from the same period in 1998 when there were 3,008,181 visits to the site. The increase reflected in the numbers is even more dramatic than overall web use, which rose 17 percent in the U.S. in 1999.
* LESTER DETERMINED FOLLOWING INDY LIGHTS TEST
Bill Lester of Oakland, Calif. is still beaming following last week's test with the Team KOOL Green Indy Lights team at Firebird International Raceway, just outside of Phoenix. Lester's test marked the culmination of CART's 1999 African-American Driver Development Program, which was announced in July and is intended to help open doors for minorities in racing. After posting a respectable top lap time of 53.29 seconds in his test at the 1.25-mile Firebird road course, Lester believes he proved that he can compete at a high level in open-wheel racing. He's continuing to try and reach his goal of finding a full-time ride in either the Toyota Atlantic or Dayton Indy Lights series. "What I need to do now is race in a series," Lester said. "Seeing me test is one thing, but I need to be out there so people can see me racing. I think that would really help bring fans out and show that it can be done."