Cars n' Stars: Chicagoland Speedway, M.Benz on a Roll, CART IPO and Season Opener

12 March 1998


CARS N STARS; New Big Time Speedway For Chicagoland, M. Benz On A Roll,
CART Announces IPO And Readies For Season Opener In Florida.

A group called Motorsports Alliance which consists of a partnership of
Indy Speedway and Intn'l Speedway Corp has landed a race track site in
Plano, Il, a dismal little burg 50 miles outside of Chicago and will
build a 1.5 mi oval with 70,000 seats.It will cost $100million and be
ready to race in 2000. But what will they race ? The CART and NASCAR
schedules are overflowing with dates so here comes the IRL...we predict.

As all race enthusiasts know Mercedes Benz has a new lighter
weight/smaller motor ready for the 1998 season and as they, MB, won 40%
of the races they entered last year in F1, CART and FIA-GT championship
they are going to be a tough act to follow. Hal Whiteford, VP operations
MB of North America says they are starting some series with a clean
piece of paper and are looking forward to this racing season with
cautious optimism. However MB came away a winner in one arena last week
as they unveiled their new CLK Cabriolet at the Geneva Auto Show to a
rousing press welcome; it will sell for $47,000.

CART, Championship Auto Racing Teams has gone on the big board with an
offering of 4,700,000 shares of common stock going off at $16.00 per
share.  The racing organization will get 63 mil from the sale and will
spend $10 million to purchase the Indy Lights series.

Over in Florida the FedEx/CART series for 1998 is about to get underway
this weekend at the 225 mile opener at Homestead which will air live on
ABC-TV. The field consists of 25 drivers and a lot of new equipment
including the new Mercedes engines and Reynard Chassis. As it always
happens prior to a major race the PR folks have contrived a charity
event featuring many of the top drivers and Friday’s affair features
cleb charity bartenders in the person of Al Unser Jr., Max Papis, Andre
Ribeiro, Mark Blundell, Rick Mears, Emmo and Indy Lights driver Clint
Mears. Defending champ Alex Zanardi will appear on Letterman Monday
night after the race.  Denis Vitolo who crashed last week has been
cleared to run on this his hometown track.

Did you know that there is a real college in Missouri, McPherson College
that offers a two-year accredited course in car restoration? Been around
21 years and some of their grads have gone on to be involved with cars
taking the gold at Pebble Beach. Jay Leno gave them a grant.

Recent surveys have revealed that Hondas were the most stolen cars in
1997. Toyota Camry was first but Hondas followed in second, third,
fifth, seventh and ninth. The Honda-Toyota combine was broken up by Ford
Mustang in 10th spot.

In Formula One the sanctioning body met re the hassle wherein the
McLarens dictated the winner of last weeks opener in Australia and they
said no more of this nonsense. You race to the finish. Stewart Ford took
three cars, 44 personnel and nine engines to Perth. The Jordan team took
35,000 pounds of parts and spares. Speed cost money.

Injured FF2000 driver Thiago Bezerra is showing progress though he still
remains in a coma in an Orlando, Fla hospital. He crashed after copping
the pole at Walt Disney World Jan 24.

IRL is in the middle of its "test in the west" at Phoenix International
and Scott Sharp is setting fast times...173. mph to Tony Stewarts
170.12. A.J. Foyt’s driver Billy Boat is fourth quick. Andy Evans Team
Scandia has filed the first entry for the 82nd Indianapolis 500. Jimmy
Kite is the shoe in the teams Dallara Aurora.

Celebrities for the Toyota Celebrity race at the April 4-5 Long Beach
CART Grand Prix are: James Belushi, Queen Latifah, Catherine Bell,
Joshua Morrow, Daryl Mitchell, Eric Braeden, Andy Lauer and Derrick
Thomas.  Celebrities? See if you can match them up with the soap/sit
coms they appear in.  My Best Friends Wedding, Mr. Destiny, Living
Single, Young and the Restless, Veronicas Close, Caroline in the City,
Jag, K.C. Chiefs.

With all the spoiler height jazz going on in NASCAR and fights between
Ford and Chevy teams Chevrolet announces a new racy cab forward design
Camaro that will be in dealerships in mid 1998. Stay tuned ..the plot
thickens.  Rumor has it that major NASCAR Chevy teams aided in the
design and development.

Sales of the new and popular Dodge Durango are so good they helped
Chrysler achieve a 3% sales gain in February.

The Geneva Auto show saw Ford take the wraps off a new successor to the
Escort...the Focus, which is a completely new entry-level coupe.

Did you see the new Motor Trend wherein editor C.Van Tune discusses his
hectic 48 hours in TV news at the various recent auto shows? Good stuff.

Bill Maloney  The Auto Channel

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