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The TACH Report: USRRC Announces '98 Sched, Panoz Buys Sebring From Andy Evans, GM Has New Longer Range Battery For EVs.

13 January 1998

The newly formed United States Road Racing Championship (SCCA) has announced "part" of their race schedule for 1998:

Jan 29 Rolex 24 hours of Daytona
TBA Metro-Dade Miami
June 14 Mid-Ohio Sports Car course
June 27 Minnesota
Aug 21 Watkins Glen

Andy Evans, the guy who caused all this turmoil in sports car road racing by dividing the sport into new sanctioning bodies and factions, has sold off his ownership of Sebring International Raceway to millionaire car builder Don Panoz, who owns Road Atlanta. Panoz is also trying to purchase Andy's interest in Mosport in Canada. Panoz said he will pour a ton of money into the Florida airport circuit in an attempt to make the rickety track smoother.

Generous Motors says they have come up with a new Ovonic Nickel metal hydride battery to power its EV's and an electric pickup. The new battery will allegedly double the vehicles' ranges to 180 miles, a breakthrough.

Remember 18 months ago when A.J. Foyt was suing CART for all sorts of things? Well the CART legal fee amounted to $1,743,000.

How much does a promoter . . . the guy who owns/runs the track get nicked for a CART/FedEx event? It ranges from $850,000 (Milwaukee) to $4.2 million per race. You gotta sell a lot of tickets to recoup that much dough.

While the new USRRC was thumping its chest regarding its five race 1998 schedule, the old Pro SportsCar Racing, now owned by worldwide Ad biggie Interpublic, has announced their 1998 schedule which starts March 21 at Sebring, Florida and ends 11 races later at Laguna Seca, California with an event that sold out the Monterey road circuit last fall. It's set for Oct 24-25.

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck series keeps growing in size and stature. 67 trucks practiced at Walt Disney World, FL for next week's season opener. Leading qualifier is Mike Bliss. The 1998 TV contract for the truck series is $16 million.

Now that Evans is out of the picture, Pro SportsCar may revert to its old moniker of IMSA.

One of the winningest chassis in Pro SportsCar is the Riley and Scott machine, so R&S designed and built a race car for the IRL. With much ballyhoo car dealer Dan Kelly of Indiana announced he would buy six of the Hoosier bred machines. Kelly has changed his mind, since, however, and will buy Dallara chassis. Kelly says the R&S cars are too small for his drivers. Stan Wattles is the only IRL driver in a R&S car, now.

A.J. Foyt's newly re-upped driver Billy Boat turned the fastest lap at Disneyworld last week with a 166.174 for the mile oval. Lots of new safety rules for IRL for '98, including mods to the bellhousing, gearbox, airbox, headrest, seat and rear crash attenuator.

In F-1 the hassle between F-1 and French television may result in the French GP at Magny Cours being dropped.

Kiss me. J.T. Hayes, 35, midwest Sprint and Midget driver is having a sex change operation and will become Terri O'Connel. Says he wanted to be A.J. Foyt and Marilyn Monroe.

The SCCA is going to recognize Formula Mazda as a national championship racing class.

Want some action packed TV racing? Jan 17 at 4p.m. eastern on ESPN2 you can catch the first USAC Silver Crown race of 1998 from Walt Disney World.

Speaking of TV, the full NHRA 22 race schedule will be on the tube this year on ABC, TNN, ESPN, and ESPN2.

The North American World Sports Car Championship (?) might see the entry of an all new BMW Spyder driven by Hans Stuck.

The Formula One season opens in Australia March 8, but the cigarette advertising ban has not been settled. A couple of races may be dropped and the alterenates in the wings are South Africa and China.

We are all aware of the dangers involved with skiing, especially with the two recent fatalities of well known personalities. F-1 champion Jacques Villenueve--a Canadian, no less--also had a skiing mishap. This one, in the French Aps, required a helicopter trip to a hospital for the young lion.

Lamborghini now has a full race car with a V12 that puts out 640 h.p. It's designed to race in the FIA-GT series and costs $325,000.

The high-tech FIA-GT race series (10 events) kicks off at Oschersleban, Germany on April 12. Privateers will field Mercedes CLK GTR's.

The new superspeedway slated to be built in Plano, IL, a suburb of Chicago, will break ground in a few months. The venue will feature a 1.5 mi oval and seat 70,000 race fans.

Land Speed Racer Craig Breedlove says he will never give up and that we should look for him to be back on the salt in 1998. His top speed in Spirit of America was 636 m.p.h.

A 550 mile stage of the Paris-Dakar rally was abandoned last week when bandits in Gao, Mali swiped one of the race trucks.

The Daytona 24 hour entries are shaping up, with some first class racing machinery and drivers ready to roll and the race coming up at the end of the month. Riley and Scott has two Ford powered cars for James Weaver, Perry McCarthy, Rob Dyson, EFR, Dorsey Shroeder, Butch Letzinger and John Paul. THAT'S serious. Also out to give chase are two Ferrari 333SPs, Porsche 911 GTI. Panoz, GT1 Ford Mustang and two GT3 BMWs. Watch for the tube schedule for this one.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel