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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Legendary racing outfit Newman/Haas is closing its doors after nearly 30 years in business, after the team failed to find sponsorship for the coming season.
Founded by Carl Haas and actor Paul Newman, the team had a solid record throughout its life – with 107 wins and 8 championships – but never managed to win an Indy 500 victory. Drivers like Nigel Mansell, Sebastian Bourdais, Mario Andretti and Paul Tracy were some of the top-name talent that drove for the team during its heyday.
With Newman’s death in 2008 and Haas reportedly ailing, the team’s closure seems inevitable, but does not bode well for the Indy Car series.
Multi-talented driver Tanner Foust is looking for a new challenge in 2012, hoping to get himself behind the wheel of an Indy Car towards the end of this year. With a busy schedule of rally racing this year, Foust put aside the sport of drifting (where he is a two-time champion) this year and it looks like drifting will be without Foust for at least another year.
The interview with Foust was conducted at this past weekend’s X-Games 17 courtesy of MotorWorldHype and Foust looks determined to get an Indy Car ride for 2012. He did state that he would like to return to drifting down the road, saying that he misses the sport and the driving, but it’s a very good chance it won’t happen for 2012.
Check out the interview after the break.
In a move to attract sponsors and an audience, IndyCar Racing League (IRL) announced that at the series finale this year, five professional racing drivers who are currently not in IRL, would be granted a wild card entry. If any of these drivers go on to win the event, they would receive a prize of $5-million.
This healthy prize has gotten many former racing stars to get out of bed and start knocking on IRL team doors in the hopes of landing a race seat. The latest news is that former Ferrari F1 driver, Jean Alesi might get to compete.
Alesi, whose career highlight was his sole win at the Montreal GP in Canada back in 1995, has been keeping himself busy with open wheel racers recently. Alesi is an ambassador for Group Lotus, and is also a test-driver for the Lotus T125 project. He could join KV Racing Technology, a team affiliated with Lotus, to compete at the Las Vegas Indy. Other big names taunted to get a race seat include Petter Solberg, Jimmy Vasser, Jacque Villeneuve, Juan Pablo Montoya, Paul Tracy and Al Unser Jr.
Race fans have to just wait and see the final line-up, but this has surely got race fans talking about IRL racing.
Donald Trump is set to join the illustrious list of Indy 500 Pace Car drivers when he slides behind the wheel of a 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS at the quintessential American motorsports event.
The Camaro SS Pace Car, announced earlier this year, will be a convertible model, and that gives us extra incentive to tune in. We can’t wait to see how the Donald’s hair holds up at triple digit speeds.
[Source: New York Post]
Lotus has announced that it will join the big boys in 2012, racing against both Honda and Chevy in the Indy Car series.
Indy Car has seen its fan base diminish over the years and the fans called for an end of the spec series. Finally the governing body decided to take action, opening up the series to other engine manufacturers, and in 2012, new chassis manufacturers as well.
Recently Chevy announced it would return to Indy Car to compete with Honda (which has been the sole supplier of engines for the series over the past few ears). Now Lotus will do the same – although this news is somewhat perplexing as Lotus does not build its own engines, even for its road cars.
Executives didn’t comment on where the engines could come from, although it’s possible that the Lotus tie-up with Cosworth could be exploited. Another guess is that Toyota (which supplies engines for Lotus’ road cars) could be involved.
Today at the LA Auto Show, Lotus CEO Dany Bahar announced that Lotus will campaign its own engines and chassis in the 2012 Series. Bahar broke the news to reporters at the Lotus both, joined by INDY Car series head Randy Bernard and former Lotus driver Parnelli Jones.
Over the past year Lotus has campaigned a team in the Indy Car series, although as a spec series the move was largely entirely symbolic.
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Chevrolet is set to return to Indy Car Racing in 2012, breaking Honda‘s monopoly on engine supply for the American racing series. Chevrolet is expected to partner with well known engine contractor Ilmor to produce a twin-turbo V6 engine, as the Indy Car series moves away from V8s and towards smaller four and six cylinder engines.
Erik Berkman, head of Honda Performance Development, welcomed Chevrolet in a statement, saying “”We have repeatedly and unequivocally expressed our desire for engine competition within the series, dating even from our first days of sole supply, in 2006,” Berkman said. “We look forward to renewing our relationship with Chevrolet as competitors on the race track and giving the fans of open-wheel racing a spirited and challenging rivalry.”
The new engine formula, which allows for the smaller engines, with a maximum displacement of 2.4L, will encourage more OEMs to support Indy Car racing.
[Source: Inside Line]
The IRL IndyCar Series is downsizing its engine formula from the current Honda-made 3.5L V8 to four and six cylinder engines displacing a maximum of 2.4L, a move being considered by other forms of motorsports, including Formula 1.
While F1 and NASCAR have different engine builders competing against one another, the engines are generally similar in their output and design. The new IndyCar format should allow for more variety and more interesting race strategy. Formula 1 famously allowed four and six cylinder engines in the 1980′s, an era regarded as some of the most thrilling racing of all time.
IndyCar will also continue to use ethanol for its race fuel.
[Source: Inside Line]
After much speculation that IRL star Danica Patrick would enter NASCAR for the 2010 season, the hopes of those wanting to see the racing diva behind the wheel of a stock car seemed dashed when her IRL schedule was confirmed. But now it appears as though Patrick will also race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2010, with a limited schedule. The car will be sponsored by Go Daddy and will be a part of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team. An official announcement is expected later today in Phoenix, where Go Daddy is headquartered.
Patrick is likely to make her NASCAR debut on February 13th in Daytona Beach, FL. She has never actually raced competitively in a stock car but did do testing for the Nationwide Series back in 2002.
The Sporting News reports that earlier this year, every single NASCAR team owner expressed interest in hiring Patrick but said they would like her to get competitive in the Nationwide series before heading to Spring Cup. That seems to be the route she is taking.
We can only imagine the marketing potential that having a woman like Danica Patrick in NASCAR could create.
Roger Penske and Daimler Chairman Dr. Dieter Zetsche take a ride in a SMART car. Penske currently distributes SMART cars for Diamler in the U.S. and is rumored to be interested in purchasing Saturn from GM.
A day after General Motors released a vague statement declaring that it is moving to “the next step” in the sale of the Saturn brand it appears as though Roger Penske is one of the interested buyers.
Penske, a former race car driver and now the man at the top of an automotive empire is no stranger to the business, owning numerous dealerships. In fact, Penske’s dealership chain is listed as the second largest in the United States, accounting for 171,872 vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2008.
The Penske dealership network is not immune to the current economic climate, with Q1 profits down roughly 50 percent from the year previous. Still, the company managed a 16.2 million profit.
The Penske Automotive Group even distributes the SMART car for Mercedes/Daimler throughout the United States.
Currently Penske oversees three major racing initiatives in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and the Indy Racing League (IRL). He is also a well-known supporter of the city of Detroit and the U.S. auto industry, having helped bring the racing back to Detroit’s Belle Isle in recent years as well as assisting in bringing the Superbowl to the struggling city.
The Wall Street Journal cited an unnamed source in regards to Penske’s interest. The individual said that while Penske is interested, no offer has been made.
[Source: Automotive News]
[Photo Credit: TheAutoChanel]