Cars n' Stars: FedEx CART Stars Test At Sebring, Another New Sport Ute from Toyota, Walter Payton/Coyne Name '98 Driver For CART.
20 January 1998
Mark Blundell (Pac West Racing Group), Paul Tracy (Team KOOL Green), and Christian Fittipaldi (Newman-Haas Racing) all tested their new race cars at Sebring International Raceway's road course in Florida last week. Fittipaldi drove a Swift chassis, while the other pilots drove new Reynards. No times were attempted as this was basically a shakedown cruise for the new equipment. Florida resident Emerson Fittipaldi was on hand as an advisor. Tasman Motorsports owner Steve Horne introduced his new driver, Tony Kanaan to the press and said Kanaan will compete in the full FedEx/CART season this year. In Tokyo, Toyota took the wraps off a new Sport Utility they call The Harrier. It will come to the U.S. later this year with a sticker of $18,423 for the two-wheel version. It will be powered by a 3.0 liter V6 and will have shift buttons on the wheel. Denis Vitolo of the Nigel Mansell crash fame has signed on with Payton Coyne Racing for 1998 in the FedEx CART series. He brings with him backing from pharmaceutical company SmithKline Beacham. He will test at Homestead, Florida tomorrow. Hyundai is going through a traumatic period sales-wise, and has no new products for 1998. They sold 120,000 units in the U.S. in 1997, and 1.2 million vehicles worldwide. For the U.S. market they are increasing consumer incentives to $1,000. Their woes stem from the devaluation of the Korean won against the U.S. dollar. Other incentives out there on 1997 models: Chrysler Concorde $2,000 Eagle Vision 2,000 Ford Crown Vic 1,750 Toyota T100 1,500 Chevy Cavalier 2,500 Mazda Millenia 3,500 Isuzu Rode 2,000 General Motors took a legal hit in a Texas court last week: an appellate court in San Antonio upheld an $8.5 million verdict in favor of a man who bled to death when pinned between the back of his C/K pickup and a corral gate. The family of Abel Lee Sanchez got the award which included $4.5 in punitive damages. At the Detroit Auto Show Ford unveiled the P2000 four-door sedan that will get 80 m.p.g. The secret to the Contour based car is it is almost all aluminum and the weight saving plus engine tweaks affects the mileage. It is an exercise, so don't look for it soon. Another Big 3 ploy to Pacify "Uncle" in his quest for cleaner air. L.A. Dodger all-star catcher Mike Piazza and CART star Michael Andretti officially opened their new bistro at the Ramada resort in Kissimee, FL last week: the eatery is a pizza parlor. CART driver Scott Pruett became a father for the first time last week: his wife Judy gave birth to daughter Taylor Don Pruett. Dan Gurney's son Alex has won the Team Green "Class of '97" award and will work with the team in 1998. Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel