AT&T Williams F1 Team

February 9, 2009 by  
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The AT&T Williams F1 team, was established by Sir Frank Williams, together with Patrick Head. It was known at that time as the Williams Grand Prix Engineering team, and has since then become one of the three top contenders in the world of Formula One. In its history of Formula One racing, the Williams Team has walked away with nine Constructor’s titles. Their first race was at the Spanish Grand Prix in 1977, with Clay Regazzoni (from Switzerland) securing the first win for the team in 1979 at the British Grand Prix. The Williams team’s 100th win was made possible by Jacques Villeneuve in 1997 at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Together with McLaren and Ferrari, the Williams team consistently features amongst the top contenders. The chassis for the Williams F1 team, always has a “FW” followed by a number, being the initials for the proud team owner, Frank Williams.

Frank Williams had tried his hand in Formula One racing twice before founding Williams F1 in 1977. He previously had been running two operations, namely Walter Wolf Racing and Frank Williams Racing Cars. But it was the Williams team that brought him success. Many famous drivers have been behind the wheel of a Williams car, and to name a few: Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Keke Rosberg and Ayrton Senna. In 1994, Patrick Head, Frank Williams and the Williams designer, Adrian Newey, faced manslaughter charges, after the tragic and fatal accident at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994, that took Ayrton Senna’s life. The three men were cleared of all charges in 2005.

The Williams team did not only have different drivers contributing to their success, but also different engines. Williams was able to win five Constructor titles with a Renault engine. Frank Williams did not achieve the success he so desired with his Frank Williams Racing Cars operation. He established the Walter Wolf Racing outfit after many promises from the millionaire, but due to the uncompetitive cars and unfulfilled promises, Williams relocated to Didcot, and the birth of Williams F1 had started. Williams recruited Patrick Head as engineer of his new project and the “William-Head” partnership lasted throughout the years. The following years would see many successes and many disappointments and heartbreaking losses, but despite all the challenges of the changing times, Williams has always come through.

2007 was a year of changes for the Williams F1 Team – Toyota supplied the engines for the season; Alexander Wurz moved up from his position as test driver to the team’s second driver, thereby replacing Mark Webber; Kazuki Nakajima took the position of test driver; and AT&T became the primary official sponsor of the team, after having withdrawn its sponsorship of McLaren when they signed with competitor Vodafone. Nico Rosberg remained the number one driver of the team and tallied up a respectable number of points for the Williams F1 Team. Wurz did not perform as well and upon announcing his retirement, test driver Nakajima took over for the final race of the season in Brazil where he started near the back of the grid and managed to finish in tenth spot.

With Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima as principle drivers, the Williams F1 Team had its fair share of both successes and disappointments in 2008, finishing the season eighth in the constructions championship. Despite a disappointing 2008 season and rumblings of discontent from Rosberg, both drivers stayed on with Williams for the 2009 season. Towards the end of the 2009 season it was announced that the team would not be renewing its partnership with Toyota and would be looking for a new engine supplier for 2010. This turned out to be the UK-based private company Cosworth, an automotive engineering company specializing in auto racing engines that supplied the Cosworth CA2010 for the Williams FW32 cars. By the end of 2009 the Williams F1 Team had claimed 9 Constructors’ Championships, 7 Drivers’ Championships, 113 race victories, 125 pole positions and 130 fastest laps. Drivers for the 2010 season are Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg, with Valtteri Bottas as test driver.

McLaren F1 Team

February 9, 2009 by  
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The McLaren Motor Racing team was first founded in 1963 by New Zealander Bruce McLaren. The team’s Grand Prix debut was made at the Monaco track in 1966 and, despite some early technical difficulties, Team McLaren has never looked back. By 1968 the team had earned their first win with Bruce McLaren himself behind the wheel at the Belgium Grand Prix. Today the McLaren F1 Racing Team is seen as one of the most successful Formula One teams. Their Grand Prix successes are surpassed only by Ferrari and for quite some time they dominated the world of Grand Prix racing.

Not long after McLaren’s first Grand Prix win in 1968, driver James Hunt won the team’s first Driver’s Championship. That was in 1976 and the win was a sign of things to come. By 1984, Niki Lauda won a Grand Prix Championship on behalf of the McLaren team, and the 1980’s proved to be a phenomenal decade for the team. In fact, McLaren emerged to completely dominate the Formula One racing scene. However, the team’s success started to fade about midway through the 1990’s when Honda decided to drop out of Formula One racing. The team then went through a period of experimentation – switching from manufacturer to manufacturer in an attempt to find a winning combination. Eventually McLaren found that the Mercedes-Ilmor engine showed promise and they started a slow climb back to success. At about this time Team McLaren also lost their Marlboro sponsorship and subsequent trade-mark red and white livery. The team took up the silver Mercedes livery in its place and the change could be said to be an appropriate display of the ending of one period for the team and the beginning of another.

Mercedes has continued to supply the team’s engines and today the full name of the team is Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, acknowledging both of its primary sponsors. It is based in Woking, Surrey in the UK and the team principle is Ron Dennis. As at the end of the 2009 season, McLaren had won 8 Constructor Championships, 12 Driver Championships, and notched up 164 victories. The McLaren team has World Championship winners Lewis Hamilton (2008) and Jenson Button (2009) as its principle drivers for the 2010 F1 Grand Prix Championship, with the new MP4-25 as the car of the year.

Racing Legend Phil Hill Dies

September 1, 2008 by  
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Racing legend Phil Hill recently passed away at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula at 81 years of age due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. The celebrated octogenarian was the first and only US born racing driver to ever win the Formula One international auto-racing championships.

Philip Toll Hill was a memorable racing legend who was born on April 20, 1927, in Miami. He was raised in Santa Monica and started to develop his passion for cars from an early age. At just 12 years of age, he started to drive a Model T Ford that his aunt bought him on the private roads in Santa Monica Canyon. Cars were clearly a life-long obsession for him – one that stood him in good stead in future years. Hill started out his automobile career as a mechanic, but by the mid-1950s he found himself behind the steering wheel in Santa Ana. From there he went on to race in Pebble Beach, Mexico and even Europe. After his long but brilliant journey to the top, he eventually managed to join the Ferrari team and tackle a Ferrari Formula One car. The year was 1958 and it marked the start of the most spectacular leg of an already spectacular career – one which culminated with his earning the Formula One world title for himself.

During his years as a Formula One driver, Hill witnessed many tragic events. Perhaps the most memorable of these was the 1961 Grand Prix in Italy at Monza when German Wolfgang von Trips was killed in a tragic three-car collision that also took the lives of eleven spectators. It must have been a tragic race for Hill since Von Trips was his Ferrari teammate. Nevertheless, Phil Hill managed to enjoy a very successful career without ever suffering a serious injury. He not only won the F1 Championship in 1961, but became a three-time winner of both Le Mans and Sebring. After he retired from competitive racing, he never left his passion and focused on his love of classic cars, pianos and other antique musical instruments. His life as a driver was commemorated in 1991 when he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Hill is survived by his wife, children, step child and grandchildren. He lived a very full life of passion and excitement and will no doubt be remembered fondly by loved ones and fans around the world.

Donny Schatz Receives Second Dakota Award

June 30, 2008 by  
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Donny Schatz has been racing since he was only a kid. His dream of becoming an auto racing champion started when he was just fifteen years old and he has never looked back. During the past ten years of his life he has been racing almost 100 nights a year on two different continents – a clear indication of just how dedicated he is.

So it comes as little surprise then that Donny Schatz was chosen to receive the prestigious Dakota Award for 2008. The award, which is handed out by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, gives due recognition to any person from North Dakota who is excelling in other states. Schatz has long been proving himself in the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Series and it seems he is driven to succeed. Schatz remarked that receiving the award was a “great honor” and said he was happy that he could represent his home state on a national level. He added: “Like a lot of things that happened as a result of our efforts last year, this award is truly a family award…We worked together as a family to build a race team that could compete with the best in the world and ultimately came away with consecutive World of Outlaws championships.”

The last time that Schatz received the Dakota Award was in 1998. He was chosen for the honor after a successful WoO Sprint Series Rookie of the Year campaign. It’s been ten challenging years since then and a lot has changed. He is certainly no longer a rookie and these days he’s winning back-to-back championships. Just last year he made history when he became the first driver to win the Knoxville Nationals, Williams Grove National Open, Kings Royal, Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup and the Williams Grove Summer Nationals all in the same year. That was the second time in a row that he took the checkered flag at the Outlaw championship, the Knoxville Nationals and the Silver Cup. Schatz was invited to drive for Tony Stewart in the WoO Sprint Series this year and he has been hard at work wracking up points in his new car already, with 10 victories in place after driving 27 races so far this year. Clearly this 30-year-old still has a long and successful driving career ahead of him and we may yet see another Dakota Award go to Donny Schatz in the future.

SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge

April 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

The Sports Car Club of America, or SCCA, decided to open a new racing class in 1972, known as the Showroom Stock. It was a class that was reserved for stock street automobiles and its popularity grew at such pace that by 1980 a twenty-four hour racing event was being held. By 1985, the series had expanded to six races and by 1996 the world challenge was divided into a touring class and sports class. In 2002, the title sponsor became Speedvision, which was bought by Fox, and the name became the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge.

The SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge is raced in two divisions, namely the Speed World Challenge Speed GT and the Speed World Challenge Speed Touring Car. The aim of the Speed World Challenge is to provide a production based racing event to manufacturers and teams, in which they are able to display the power and quality of their products. Drivers and manufacturers are allocated championship points according to the finishing position of each class. In the Drivers Championship, a winning driver will be selection on their points in each class, whereas there is only one award for the Manufacturers Championship.

At present, Pierre Kleinubing leads the Speed Touring Car Driver Championships with 122 points, Kuno Wittmer is in second with 108 points, Peter Cunningham has 98 points, Charles Espenlaub has 85 points and Jeff Altenburg has 80 points. In the Speed GT, Randy Pobst has the lead with 220 points, Brandon Davis has 208 points, Andy Pilgrim is in third position so far with 198, Michael Galati with 182 and Jason Daskalos with 145.

In the Speed GT and the Speed Touring Car divisions, a Rookie of the Year award is given to a driver who has not had more than three starts and they have to be confirmed as Rookies by SCCA Pro Racing. Entrant drivers in the season are able to be awarded the Jim Cook Memorial Trophy, which is given to drivers who show sportsmanship, character and contribute positively to the sport. Crew Chiefs stand in line to be presented with the Zimmermann Cup, for dedication, passion and leadership shown during the racing season.

This year, the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge started in Sebring on 12 to 14 March, moved to ACS Long Beach from the 18th to the 20th of April and continued at VIR Danvill from the 25th of April to the 27th. Miller Tooele takes place on 16 to 18 May, Lime Rock from 24 to 26 May, The Glen from 5 to 8 June, Mid Ohio from 17 to 20 July, Road America from 8 to 10 August, Mosport from 21 to 24 August, Detroit from 29 to 31 August, New Jersey from 26 to 28 September and Road Atlanta fromm the 1st to the 4th of October 2008.

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