January 2008
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RACE NEWS & VIEWS
Latest news is at the bottom
Indy Speedway News Index
The Corvette Z06 will pace the 2008 Indy 500.  Two versions were shown at the Indy Auto Show.  A convertable
version was painted similarly to the first Corvette pace car - the 1978.  Chevy will build 500 replicas of this 30th
Anniversary Vette. The hardtop car is painted in prism color which changes colors with the lighting.  This car will run on
Ethanol E85 along with gasoline.   Famous Formula One champion and Indy 500 Champion,
Emerson  Fittipaldi, will
be driving the pace car this Memorial Weekend in Indianapolis.  
Australian Ryan Briscoe will be driving the #6 Penske IRL racer in 2008, which was vacated by Sam
Hornish Jr
.  

Both Briscoe and teammate
Helio Castroneves will be competing for Penske in the Rolex 24 Hour
Race at Daytona International Speedway on January 26-27th.  This will be Briscoe's third Daytona 24
Hour race.
Ryan Briscoe
Andy Hillenburg is a race car driver who was raised here in Indianapolis.  He's been an ARCA
champion, a Nascar Cup driver and even an Indy 500 driver!  He has been running the
Fast Track
Racing School for a number of years now, which is based out of Charlotte N.C.  I just found out that
he bought the
Rockingham Speedway!  What follows is an article about it.

Rockingham's Hero - Andy Hillenburg
by Ron Fleshman
Oct 4, 2007

Andy Hillenburg must be a hero in Richmond County, North Carolina right now. The reason for this
bold statement is that Mr. Hillenburg just bought North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham and has
promised to have racing there again. I can’t imagine the joy in Rockingham, Ellerbe, and Hamlet
right now. The great little track that was host to NASCAR top series’ from 1967 – 2004, will again
see real professional racing on its high banks.

Hillenburg paid somewhere near $4.4 million for the facility (it was appraised at $10 million) and
plans to not only run his very successful driving school there, but also have real races at the
facility. Hillenburg admits they probably won’t be Nextel Cup or Busch races, but ARCA and
Craftsman Truck Series races are very possible.

Many of us who attended Nextel Cup and Busch Series races there have grieved since it’s closing
in February, 2004. No better racing could be found anywhere. In fact, the final race held there
resulted in one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history when Matt Kenseth edged out Kasey
Kahne on the final lap ins a side-by-side battle for the ages.

After that final race, it was gone, we thought, forever. NASCAR didn’t do the 65,000-seat facility any
favors by scheduling races in middle February and late October. I’ve pushed snow off seats in the
grandstand and worn down parkas to races, but the speedway could always count on about 50,000
to show up for races. That wasn’t good enough for International Speedway Corporation and the
track was closed. It was later given to O. Bruton Smith’s Speedway Motorsports to settle a lawsuit
and Smith closed the track.

Yesterday, SMI held an auction to rid itself of the track (they don’t need it and couldn’t see a way to
make money there) and Hillenburg was the high bidder. Sometimes things work out after all.

Hillenburg, who has run in 16 NASCAR Nextel Cup races and the Indianapolis 500, was
straightforward about his plans.

"We'll definitely have racing here," Hillenburg said. "We'll have some driving schools. We'll have
some movies and commercials, and have a few legends races, and hopefully be an important part
of the community. And that's the thing. I want to be a part of it. I want to be a part of this community.
I love this sport a lot, and I want to make a difference."

How about that? It’s really not about the money or the glory. Hillenburg is Superman to the people
in the sand hills of the Tar Heel State. Hillenburg, in an interview on Sirius Satellite Radio this
afternoon pledged to have a race there “within 12 months.” When asked if it would be the ARCA
series, he wouldn’t comment, but hinted that it might be.

So, as Bruton contemplates his next billion, I’m planning to be in Rockingham next August. Or
September or whenever they race there again. Yes, the backstretch bleachers have been sold and
all the equipment is missing, but I have a feeling Andy Hillenburg will make it work. Maybe we’ll see
another good finish, but if not, at least this historical track will see racing again. I can’t wait.
Jan 26 - The 4-Lap Qualifying Rule that is used at Indiananpolis,
is expanding to all IRL IndyCar oval races in 2008.   Some drivers
think it will be especially harder at smaller tracks and tracks with
less banking.  Indy 500 winner
Buddy Rice felt that tires would be
an issue.
Jan 26 - Traction control and other electronic aids are
banned from Formula One race cars for 2008 and 2009.  
While greeted with enthusiasm from purists, who wanted to
see a greater emphasis upon driver input, some of the sports
top drivers are warning of an expected increase in accidents
in very wet conditions with the removal of such driver aids.

Traction control has been seen in F1 cars in various guises
since the 1980s. Nigel Mansell's championship winning-car,
the 1992 Williams-Renault FW14, featured a host of
technical driver aids such as computerized active suspension
and traction control.

Traction control was first banned in 1993.
The Grand Prix of Spain 2001 saw the official reintroduction
of traction control systems to F1 due to the suspicion that
teams were circumventing the regulations by using
sophisticated engine management systems.

It was considered very difficult to ensure that teams were not
running such systems and agreement was reached with the
teams that the regulations should be removed to promote a
level playing field.

The latest rule change has been made possible with the
introduction of a standard ECU for the 2008 season. The FIA
now have access to all the data from any car so it would be
much more difficult to hide such systems. The new ECU, to
be used by all cars, is produced by Microsoft in collaboration
with the McLaren race team.
Jan 26 - Fernando Alonso is rejoining Renault, the team
which he won two World Championships.  Alonso's teammate
will be rookie
Nelsinho A. Piquet, who test drove for
Renault last year.

Last year Alonso drove for McLaren Mercedes where he had
stiff competition from the amazing newcomer,
Lewis
Hamilton
.  After McLaren's involvement in the Nigel Stepney
"Spy-gate" scandal, McLaren was stripped of all its
constructor's points and fined $100 million (later reduced to
$50 million). And after all that both Alonso and Hamilton tied
on points but each was one short of eventual world champion
Kimi Raikkonen.

Driver
Heikke Kovalainen is switching places with Alonso,
moving to McLaren while Alonso moves to Renault.

Ralf Schumacher and Alex Wurz do not have F1 rides this
year.
Spaniard Fernando Alonso is back at Renault F1