Sunday, November 4, 2007

Nov. 4 newsstand: Catching up

Catching up on a few items from the last couple of days

More on Mutoh
We had the Hideki Mutoh to AGR piece a few days ago. Here is more, with some comments.
From Autoweek, TSN, Eurosport,, AP.
Says Kim Green: "Although Hideki did not win the championship last year, he did very well his first year of racing on ovals in a very tough and competitive series. I think that validates him moving up to the IndyCar Series. ... (in his ICS start at Chicago), he was showing he could mix it up with the best side by side, working the traffic and still being sensible in the race car. We’re just delighted to have the opportunity to bring him on board and hopefully take him to that next level, which is the winner’s circle."

ESPN's John Oreovicz says AGR is reloading, just like it always does. Says Kim Green: "Who was that big name we should have gone after? There is an awful lot that makes up a successful team, and a driver is just one part of that. I was pretty impressed with what I saw from Hideki this year, and everybody I talked to who didn't have an agenda were all pretty enthusiastic about him."

Meanwhile, TK is now the old man of a young 4-car team: "People know I will be competitive and I'll be fighting for the championship. It's just going to be a little bit tougher. When I started with the team, it was three very experienced guys and one kid, then two experienced guys and two kids, and now it's one experienced guy and three kids. So I think I'm going to miss Dario the most."

Changes at Panther
The team Mutoh was initially going to drive for -- Panther Racing -- is moving forward with some changes. Vitor Meira and Delphi are going to be back for 2008. Meanwhile, Panther has hired former F1 McLaren employee Henri Durand as its new technical director, replacing a spot that had been vacant since Andy Brown left for TCGR a while back. Says Durand: "This is a team with a prestigious pedigree and I have been impressed with the quality of people who work here. Hopefully, my experience in the design of Formula One racing cars can bring Panther a few more ingredients to enable a return to the level of success that it has enjoyed in the recent past." Panther has also redesigned its website.

Panther plans to be a 2-car team again next year, even without the Super Aguri money helping the second car, and John Barnes says an announcement could be forthcoming soon. " “We’re really close. I can’t wait to tell our fans what we have in store for next season.” In the website Q&A (possibly the most candid thing I've seen in a while, and a must-read), the team tells us Kosuke Matsuura is not back next year.

Honda's Clarke retiring
Robert Clarke of Honda is calling it quits as director of Honda Performance Development on Jan. 1, to be replaced by Erik Berkman. has a story on the move. Honda has supplied engines to the IRL since 2003. In a USA Today piece, Clarke says he would have liked to bring the IRL and CC together during his tenure, and "the goal was to make open-wheel racing popular again because it's our preference to be in that form of motor sports." also has a story.

This story again
Since we've had somewhere between 7 and 8 million of these stories from NASCAR country touting the demise of OW racing (like this one) because of an "exodus" of retiring/inactive/F1 drivers from IndyCar racing, we get one that actually looks at the IRL perspective from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Says Terry Angstadt: "You see some of the driver comments about driving our cars at our speeds, there's not much of a comparison. You don't train at 230 mph in a 1,500-pound car to go race 3,000-pound, 185 mph cars. And I'm not taking a shot here. It's two different animals."

BTW, Dario was 25th and Sam 31st in the Busch race Saturday at TMS.

Marco getting an honor
The National Italian American Hall of Fame has named Marco Andretti its 2007 athlete of the year. I wonder what will happen if Marco has a decent season, instead of a miserable one like he had for much of this year.

Vote for Helio
The IRL is going out of its way to promote Helio Castroneves on DWTS. The Dallas Morning News says it's like a college team promoting a Heisman candidate. Meanwhile, Helio and Julianne were in Indy stumping for votes Friday, where Julianne Hough got to see her dance partner on the Borg-Warner Trophy and dance on the yard of bricks.

NH track sale stuff
From the Kentucky Speedway perspective, Jerry Carroll talks about his unsuccessful attempts to purchase New Hampshire International Speedway (which was sold to SMI and will likely be losing one of its NASCAR Cup dates). Now, IMS is one of three tracks on the NASCAR schedule that are not owned by ISC or SMI. On the IndyCar schedule, five tracks are owned by ISC and two more by SMI. The other nine races are at tracks owned by various promotors.

Spare-time reading
Robin Miller's latest chat is now up on SpeedTV
Among the gems: The CC schedule "will have eight TBAs and China," when asked if it will have a schedule that makes sense. Also notes the IRL has been talking with ex-owner Derrick Walker about re-joining the series.

And finally
The Boston Herald has a nice piece on Alex Zanardi taking part in the New York Marathon.

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