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The TACH Report: Fed EX Joins CART As Title Sponsor, Gurney Crew Chief to Indy Lights, FF 2000 Makes Awards.

10 December 1997

Championship Auto Racing Teams announced yesterday that Fed Ex would be the series title sponsor for the next three years, and that PPG would still be very prominent. CART will no longer call their race machines "Indy" cars (confuses one with IRL) and will revert to the "Championship Cars" title that dates back to the early 1900s. Jimmy Bryan drove a "Champ Car." We know that CART is big-bucks racing, and Federal Express is also big time, with 137,000 employees, 590 aircraft, and revenues last year of $11.5 billion.

Gary Donohue, who spent several years with Dan Gurney's All American Racers CART team, has left Santa Ana, CA and joined The Dayton Indy Lights operation as Technical director in Detroit. He becomes the first full-time technical director in the 13 year history of Indy Lights.

The USAC/SCCA U.S. F2000 series honored their 1997 champions last week, and although it was not anywhere on the scale of a NASCAR awards banquet, everyone was pleased. 19 year old Zak Morioka of Sao Paulo, Brazil was crowned the champ in the ceremony, which was held at Walt Disney World, FL. Other winners were:

John Hayes, Crew chief of the year
Andy Lally, Rookie of the year
Matt Sielsky, runner up champ
Duncan Dayton, third place

Enkei custom wheels, Madison Heights, MI has just come out with a new line of Chrome/mag-type wheels for the upscale luxury car market called the Milano series. There is an "Enzo" (Ferrari), a "Tazio" (Nuvolari), and the new rims fit Lexus, Cadillac and Mercedes.

Speaking of Mercedes, U.S. Chief of MB, Michael Basserman told a press gathering in Los Angeles that Benz U.S. had a fantastic sales year: when all the votes are in they will end with 115,000 units out the door. Their dealers committed $300 million to dealership improvements and had banner years, in terms of profit. Basserman said the MB racing program was equally successful, winning the European Touring car title and a bunch of CART races. They can't make enough ML320 sport utes to keep up with the demand. Fed Ex CART driver Mark Blundell was honored as British Driver of the Year by Autosports magazine.

The glitzy. globally reknown Petersen Automotive Museum, now headed up by auto writer Ken Gross, is featuring a display of dream (concept) cars that you will find fascinating. At the Beverly Hills three-story edifice you will be able to view:

1940 Chrysler Thunderbolt
1940 Chrysler Newport
1953 Buick Wildcat
1955 Chrysler Falcon
1954 Dodge Fire Arrow
1956 Pontiac Club de Mer
1959 Chevrolet CERV
1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special
1955 LaSalle 11
1954 Packard Panther
1953 Mercury Beldone
As well as others. The cars are in pristine condition.

The Concours Italiano staged each August at the Quail Lodge in Carmel, CA announced that they have given $132,000 to charity in the last four years. The concours, which becomes more popular each summer, will be held Friday, August 14, 1998. The featured marque will be Alfa Romeo. For info call (425) 688-1903.

The 1998 fixed-roof Corvette will put out more horsepower than ever before--around 375 ponies.

Look for the Mears gang to be back in Indy Lights next year, as Casey and Clint are already testing. The Chrysler Classic Speed Festival, Coronado, CA, was a resounding success. 15,000 paying spectators--pretty good for a first time event. The vintage race cars were purebreds, and the promoters say the race will return next year.

In Formula One, Team Prost has signed Jarno Trulli to a 2 year deal. Remember him? Across the street at Benneton, Ralf Schumacher has to do his mandatory military service in the German army, but will not miss any races.

As we all know, the Pikes Peak July 4 hillclimb is one of the oldest automotive competition events in the U.S. Now the Sierra club has threatened to sue the event's organizers if they don't pave the road up to the peak so as to keep gravel and stuff falling on the trees below.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel