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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