Indianapolis USGP Saturday notebook

United States Grand Prix Notebook Ecclestone praises Indy as USGP home; NASCAR stars visit Speedway INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, June 19, 2004--The Indianapolis Motor Speedway deserves to be the home of the United States Grand Prix for many years to...

United States Grand Prix Notebook
Ecclestone praises Indy as USGP home; NASCAR stars visit Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, June 19, 2004--The Indianapolis Motor Speedway deserves to be the home of the United States Grand Prix for many years to come, according to Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive officer of Formula One Management Ltd., which oversees the commercial affairs of Formula One.

Asked about the long-term future of the Formula One event at Indianapolis, Ecclestone replied: "Yes, why not? They have done a lot of work around here, and it's very nice.

"It's great to be here, and yes, I think it's very important to be here," he said.

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Gordon, Johnson, Vickers visit: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup stars Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers visited the United States Grand Prix today after flying from Michigan International Speedway, site of this weekend's NEXTEL Cup Series race.

The Hendrick Motorsports trio visited with Juan Pablo Montoya and his wife, Connie, in the BMW WilliamsF1 Team garage before qualifying.

Gordon drove Montoya's Williams-BMW car during the "Tradin' Paint" promotion in June 2003 and also attended the Spanish Grand Prix this May with Johnson.

"I was a big fan before, but after you get a chance to drive one of these machines, it's hard for you not to just fall in love with it," Gordon said. "Jimmie and I were over in Barcelona and enjoyed the race, so we were like, 'They're on our home soil, we're up in Michigan, we're one-two-three (on the starting grid), we've got to come down and see these guys."

Said Johnson: "I've been trying to get that opportunity (to drive an F1 car), but they won't listen to me. That's the problem. I would love to have a chance to drive one of these cars sometime. But this is a great experience to shoot on over at watch the cars at this event."

Would Gordon ever want to race in F1?

"Who knows what could happen, but right now I'm just enjoying being a spectator," he said.

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North American races vital for F1: The United States and Canadian Grands Prix are vital races in the FIA Formula One World Championship, said West McLaren-Mercedes director Ron Dennis.

"The teams all contribute to the view that the World Championship must be that," he said, "and America and Canada are extremely important to our calendar. It obviously gives us the ability to attract some American investment into our sport, and we wouldn't want to see these races move off the calendar."

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Fans should hear radio transmissions: F1 fans should be able to listen to radio conversations between drivers and their teams, according to five F1 team principals during an FIA press conference June 18 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Asked if radio transmissions should be available to television audiences and the fans in the stands (via radio scanners), McLaren's Ron Dennis, Jaguar's Tony Purnell, BAR's David Richards, Jordan's Eddie Jordan and Minardi's Paul Stoddart all said they would not oppose the idea.

"Very happy with it," Richards said, "no problem whatsoever from my ." side Jordan said: "I'm not sure everyone wants to hear some of the ." things that are said during the middle of a race! But I it could be a ." fantastic way (to bring F1 closer to the fans) ."

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Formula BMW USA driver's unique helmet: Formula BMW USA driver Matt Jaskol has a unique helmet paint scheme, featuring a roulette wheel painted around the crown of the helmet. Jaskol lives in Las Vegas.

"I am from Vegas, so I had to throw a little Vegas bling in there," Jaskol said. "It started with my next-door neighbor. We were hanging out, working out at the gym about 11 at night, shooting the (bull) talking about what we were going to do with the new helmet. You know, we've got to get a new paint job going, and he said, 'Let's do a roulette wheel,' and I said: 'You know what? That's awesome.'

"So I talked to my helmet painter, and he was all right with it. It's Mike Corby, Corby Concepts right here in Indianapolis, who does Buddy Rice's helmets, and they laid it down and put all of the numbers of the Formula BMW drivers around the helmet. Since we took our first win in Montreal, the roulette ball is going to be a checkered flag ball, landing on my number. That's how it works."

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24-hour race: Jaguar Racing driver Mark Webber and members of the Jaguar crew will take part in a 24-hour mountain bike race in England on the weekend after the United States Grand Prix.

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New sponsors: Sauber-Petronas has signed a sponsorship deal with AMD, a microprocessor producer, which will supply the team with computer technology.

Goldenpalace.com, an online gaming service, has become the latest Minardi-Cosworth sponsor.

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Tickets: Tickets for the United States Grand Prix can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, or by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

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About this article
Series Formula 1 , NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Hendrick Motorsports , Minardi , Jaguar Racing , Jordan