Cars 'n' Stars: Zanardi Stays Put, Belgium F-1 Results Change, NASCAR Taurus Has Track Test

16 September 1997

1997 CART Champion, Alex Zanardi won the Laguna Seca round of the Indy car series. He was having a great old time celebrating and told his wife he/they would head right back to Italy to celebrate with relatives and neighbors. Team owner Chip Ganassi threw cold water on the proposed trip, however, when he reminded Zanardi that the team was testing the next day at the California Speedway in Fontana, CA.

Mika Hakkinen thought he had a solid third place finish in the Belguim Grand Prix on Aug 24, but the FIA said because of a discrepancy in a fuel sample taken from his car he would be listed as last place finisher. Another appeal gave him a fifth place finish.

Rusty Wallace took the new Ford Taurus 2-door race car out on the high banks of Daytona Raceway last week in a test for handling, not speed. The Penske prepared car will also undergo extensive wind tunnel tests. Wallace said nothing can be said about the test other than it was a test. No stunning results.

Also in NASCAR, Bill Elliott, the guy with the Georgia drawl that's so thick that it's a language all its own, is going to appear in some Motel 8 TV commercials. He is also going to skip the end-of-season Japan trip, Nov 23 to have some screws and plates rebuilt in his legs.

And lastly in NASCAR, Jeff Burton, in an attempt to attract some of the consistent publicity that is given to Jeff Gordon, says he wants to start a PR rivalry with Jeff . . . but only in jest.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is going to revive the old pagoda and build it next to the present operations building.

BMW is coming back to Formula One in 2000.

Formula One sensation Ralf Schumacher has to put in his army time in the off season . . . in the Luftwaffe!

Also in F-1, Damon Hill has turned down $4 million from the Alain Prost team for 1998.

We reported recently that Robby Gordon, cut loose by Felix Sabates and out of a NASCAR ride for next year had signed on in CART with Team Green. It has not happened, but team owner Barry Green is not happy with Parker Johnstone, as he rarely finishes.

PPG may be the title sponsor of the CART series, but next year the title may read Fed Ex/PPG Cup.

Lola has a new owner, Martin Birraine. He is looking for a couple of CART teams to try out his chassis for 1998, but the CART guys aren't biting.

Add F-1: The British F-1 contingent honored Princess Di with a moment of silence in the pits at Monza. Observing the somber occasion were Bernie Ecclestone, Damon Hill, Tom Walkinshaw, Martin Brundle, Jacques Villenueve and Johnny Herbert.

Chris Trickle, the up and coming stock car racer who was shot in the head by a drive by shooter several months ago in Las Vegas, is still in a coma and needs monetary help. If you'd like to participate in a raffle in his benefit call 702 456 8785. Nancy.

While we are on a somber note, we've just learned that World of Outlaws top Sprint Car driver Jan Opperman died in Fishers, Ind from injuries received in 1981 at Jennerstown, PA. He was 58.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel

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