The TACH Report: No Vegas F-1 Race, Lotus Celebrates 50th, Home Depot Goes Racing, Honda's New Roadster

16 September 1998

The hottest news out of Las Vegas is that the City Fathers turned down the proposal from local developer Tommy Baker to build a race track at the end of the Vegas strip and apply for the U.S. Grand Prix, F-1 race for 2000. Details coming up.

We see that Ralf Schumacher who made his first podium finish in Belgium couple weeks ago is suing the Jordan team in order to get out of his contract and join Williams . . . maybe with Zanardi. Then where does Heinz Harald Frentzen go?

Lotus cars is marking the celebration of its inception by Colin Chapman 50 years ago when he built an Austin seven-based trials car. One of the birthday parties will take place at the Atlanta, GA SportsCar Races on Sept 25 in the Marriott Hotel. For info: 813 931 5642.

Home Depot home improvement center has decided to dip its screw driver into the NASCAR Busch series. The company will team up with Joe Gibbs' No. 20 Pontiac with have Tony Stewart at the wheel. His team mate will be Bobby Labonte.

Honda is also looking forward to birthday five-0, and will be launching a roadster called the S2000 at a blast in Japan on October 4. The car may come to the U.S. next fall.

The Chicago (Ganassi) Motor Speedway being constructed on the Sportsman's Park Thoroughbred track on the near-south side of Chicago is shooting to be operating for a labor day race next year. It will have 42 luxury sky boxes, 1425 new jobs, and seat 67,000 Champ car racing fans.

According to Mark Hutchins, new President of Lincoln Mercury, the sleek and well priced 1999 Mercury Cougar is selling like hot cakes and leads the sports compact segment in sales. We love driving this roomy 4-seater coupe and the V6, 2.5 liter motor gets the job done. At $18,100 base sticker, it offers a lot including air, power seats/windows, tilt wheel, rear spoiler, 4-wheel disc brakes and alloy wheels. It gets 19 city and 28 highway, mileage-wise. We didn't like the tinny sound when the doors and trunk closed, and there was something about the placement of the side view mirrors that just couldn't give us the rearward field of vision we need. The car stops traffic, handles deftly and we recommend ordering it with the five-speed manual . . . most fun that way.

Saturn is building a right hand drive station wagon for sale in the U.S. to delivery-type businesses and the Post Office.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway says all 107,000 ducats for its 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup race have been sold, BUT they went out with the wrong date on the face of the ticket. Back to the drawing (printer) board for the LVMS staff. The Homestead Motorsports Complex is preparing for the FIA Touring Cars on October 16, and it will be a gala international event. Another LeMans, as Mercedes vs Porsche, Panoz, Viper, McLaren. Ticket info: 305 230 RACE.

Here's an interesting Winston Cup tid bit: Everyone talks about some sort of on-track rivalry between Jeff Gordon and No. 2 in points Mark Martin, but last week while tire testing at Darlington the duo swapped cars and got a glimpse of how the other likes his racer set up. Jeff said Mark's car was real loose. For the Twin Ring Motegi race in Japan Nov 22 there are 28 Cup teams ready to make the trip including Dale and Dale 2, who will compete against each other.

The Motor Trend Thunder vintage car races take place this weekend at the Marine Helicopter base in Tustin, CA, just outside of Los Angeles. VARA vintage cars are the featch, but a lot of people are coming to see vintage Winston Cup cars, Karts and Pro-Trucks as well as a 1,000 car exhibition in one of the two blimp hangers (the biggest wooden structures in the U.S.). The ads for the race weekend, 9/18-20 show a Cunningham C4R, and we'll be looking forward to see one of these in person.

Mazda is following most other auto makers and will maintaining prices for its 1999 line. In the case of the Millenia, it reduced the sticker by 8.4%.

Ford unveiled the 1999 Mustang to the press last week. The upgrades--mostly cosmetic--enhance the lines of this pony car. The grill now has a 1965 prancing Mustang emblem. Horsepower has been increased in the new model.

America's first world driving champion, Phil Hill was recently inducted into the Ford Motorsports Hall of Fame at a dinner in Monterey, CA. Way to go Phil.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel

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