Saturday, January 12, 2008


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - January 11, 2008 - The "Detroit 3" automakers will unleash their biggest weapons in a bid for high-octane supremacy at the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company's 37th Annual Collector Car Event on Jan. 12-20, 2008, in Scottsdale, Ariz. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler will each auction their most powerful, most prestigious new performance car for charity during the "The World's Greatest Collector Car Events™" on Saturday, Jan. 19. The first 2009 Corvette ZR-1, 2008 Dodge Challenger and a one-off 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR will be offered at No Reserve along with over 1100 of the world's top collector vehicles. SPEED will broadcast live during all six auction days.

"These American automakers chose the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction to launch their most important cars because we offer the ultimate stage to engage the most passionate consumers," said Craig Jackson, Chairman/CEO of the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company. "Our events have become the epicenter of the automotive lifestyle world, attracting manufacturers ranging from the domestic giants to high profile automakers like Bentley, Honda and Mercedes."

The vehicles poised to launch the most heated muscle car battle since the late 1960s are the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 badge No. 1 (Lot #1331), the "First Retail Order Produced" 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 (Lot #1316) and a special one-of-one 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR (Lot #1300). The Challenger's winning bid will benefit Not My Kid, Inc., the Shelby's proceeds will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the proceeds from the Corvette sale will go to United Way.

"The rebirth of the Challenger and GT500KR, as well as the spectacular new ZR-1 mark the beginning of a glorious new muscle car era," noted Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson. "People will be able to say 'I was there' at Barrett-Jackson when America's modern muscle car era began. While only three people will take home an incredible piece of history, anyone who attends this celebration of the automobile will share in a very special milestone. Thanks to our partners at GM, Ford and Chrysler, we'll give these cars the ultimate welcome party and raise money for three worthy charities."

One of the most anticipated cars in history, Chevrolet will auction the "First Retail Order Produced" Corvette ZR-1. The stunning blue Corvette will cross the Barrett-Jackson block on Saturday, Jan. 19, just one week after a silver ZR1 is debuted at the GM Style event on Jan. 12 in Detroit. The new Corvette ZR1 features a six speed manual transmission, carbon fiber body components and a 620 horsepower supercharged V8. The most capable factory Corvette ever built, it easily surpasses the performance of the legendary L88/L89 big block cars from the 1960s.

"We're pleased to offer the ultimate American dream car at Barrett-Jackson, the ultimate American collector car event," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet General Manager. "This association is very positive for both companies and offers us an opportunity to reach the most passionate auto enthusiasts in the world. Best of all, we'll be able to raise money for United Way, which makes the sale of the ZR1 even more meaningful."

Ford Motor Company and Shelby Automobiles have partnered to bring back the Ford Shelby GT500KR. The 540-horsepower "King of the Road" pony car is based on the most powerful factory-built Mustang ever produced. This one-of-a-kind ebony GT500KR features a glass roof that will be offered on the 2009 Mustang and racing stripes that continue over the roof; the stripes are etched directly into the glass roof. Carroll Shelby is scheduled to be on stage to hand the car keys to its new owner.

"The Shelby GT500KR will make its auction debut in what promises to be a lifetime worth of bidding, collecting and coveting at 2008 Barrett-Jackson," stated Robert Parker, car marketing manager for Ford Motor Company. "Approximately 1,000 total 2008 coupes are scheduled to be built at Shelby's facility in Las Vegas and arrive in dealerships this summer. We're very proud of this car and that proceeds from this auction will benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, whose mission is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of type 1 (juvenile) diabetes research."

The all-new 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 will make its worldwide debut at the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 6, 2008. Chrysler chose to sell the first production Limited Edition 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 to come off the assembly line at the Barrett-Jackson Auction. The No. 1 Challenger includes a 6.1 Liter HEMI V8 engine, 5-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick, sunroof and navigation system. It will be identified by a dash plaque indicating No. 1 of the Limited Edition production.

In addition to receiving the rights to the first production Challenger, the winning bidder will receive two VIP passes to the May 2008 Dodge Challenger 500 NASCAR race at Darlington Raceway complete with airfare and lodging, and a meet and greet with Kyle Petty. The vehicle will be delivered to the Dodge Dealer of choice in the United States no later than May 31, 2008.
About The Barrett-Jackson Auction Company

Established in 1971 and headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., Barrett-Jackson specializes in providing products and services to classic and collector car owners, astute collectors and automotive enthusiasts around the world. The company produces the "World's Greatest Collector Car Events™" in Scottsdale, Palm Beach, Fla. and Las Vegas. For more information about Barrett-Jackson, visit or call (480) 421-6694.
Media Contact

Luke DeRouen or 214.520.3430 ext. 301 (

Positive Baja Tourist Press?

It would seem that those across the pond have not heard of all the recent problems, especially when they recomend flying into TJ. On top of that they say driving Highway 1 is a good thing. Silly English.


Winter sun: top 10 destinations

7. Baja California
Why go? Baja California (Lower California) is that long, narrow arm of Mexico that dangles southwards from the United States border between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California for about 775 miles. On the Pacific coast there are excellent long, wide beaches in the far north while the calm, clement inland Sea of Cortez laps some beautiful bays in the southern reaches. A highway runs from end to end, which makes for a great driving holiday - you can explore the whole length easily in 10 days.

Baja California has some beautiful bays and world-class diving
Away from the beaches there are stunning deserts, colonial towns (Loreto and La Paz are lovely), world-class diving and sport fishing, vineyards - and little traffic.
Islands in the Sea of Cortez have empty, white-sand beaches as well as impressive marine life (turtles, dolphins, seals). Down in Los Cabos, the upmarket resorts of the south, you can take a gentle voyage on a beautiful Turkish-style gulet. There is sunshine all year at this latitude, but winter is more pleasant and the Cortez, while still warm, is not bath-water sickly.
In central Baja, between February and early April, you can see grey whales that have migrated here from the Arctic; they bask in the shallow, protected waters and calve off Ojo de Liebre, southwest of the town of Guerrero Negro and in Bahía Magdalena.
There is great snack food all over, and top-notch modern Mexican cuisine in Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo, Mulejé, Punta Chivato, Ensenada and Tijuana.

Getting there Fly to Mexico City and on to Tijuana, Guerrero Negro or Los Cabos. With good connections, total travelling time is about 13 hours.
Packages Exsus Travel (020 7292 5060 can organise a 10-day adventure whale-watching trip to Baja California, including all flights, stopover in Mexico City, surfing lessons in Todos los Santos, sea kayaking and arm's-length encounters with grey whales in Magdalena Bay. From £2,995 per person.
More information;

SNORE Battle at Primm

Friday, January 11, 2008

Championship Off Road Racing Announces Official Locations and Race Dates for 2008 Season

Dear Drivers, Teams and Sponsors,

I am proud to announce the 2008 racing and television schedule. We appreciate your patience and apologize for the delay in the official announcement of the schedule. CORR has been working hard to put together the best and most exciting schedule for everyone.

CORR will hold 8 race events including races from the Chula Vista International Off Road Raceway, the LA Fairplex in Pomona and Primm, Nevada. In addition to the races scheduled below, CORR is working on securing a race at Texas Motor Speedway on one of the NASCAR weekends. The one day race would consist of only the Pro Classes with each class racing twice.

In 2008, Pro 2 and Pro 4 will race two races per weekend with points going toward the class championship and the Jason Baldwin Cup simultaneously. Further details on how the races will be conducted in 2008, including scoring will be posted in the next four weeks.

2008 Event Schedule and NBC Broadcast Schedule

Los Angeles, April 26-27
May 25, 1:30pm - 3pm
Las Vegas, May 17-18
June 15, 12:30pm - 2pm
Los Angeles, June 7-8
July 6, 3pm - 4:30pm
Chula Vista, July 26-27
July 27, 3 - 4:30pm LIVE
Los Angeles, Aug 16- 17
September 14, 1:30pm - 3pm
Chula Vista, Sept 13-14
October 5, 2:30pm - 4pm
Las Vegas, October 25- 26
October 26 LIVE
Chula Vista, December 6-7
December 6, 4:30pm - 6pm LIVE
*The SPEED schedule will be announced as soon as becomes available.

Please look to the attached Press Release that will be going out on Monday to the public. It includes more exciting information regarding the upcoming 2008 season. I look forward to seeing you all when the 2008 season kicks off on April 26th,

Cissy Baldwin
COO Championship Off Road Racing

Toyota F1 photos


Officials want to keep Dakar rally alive next year, but unsure where

PARIS - Officials are determined to keep the Dakar Rally alive despite the cancellation of this year's race across the Sahara desert because of terrorist threats.
"We will do everything" for the 2009 rally to take place, French sports minister Bernard Laporte said on RMC-Info radio Thursday.
He argued for the rally to remain "on the African continent, without which there would be no Dakar (rally)."
But Patrice Clerc, the head of organizer ASO, was more cautious.
"We will not let Africa go," he said in an interview with the sports daily L'Equipe published Thursday. "We will go very soon to Africa to talk of the future. But we will not play with security. The planet is vast enough to do 8,000 to 10,000 kilometres in 15 or 20 days in sandy zones."
He said other desert zones in Africa or on other continents could serve as an alternate route. The Chilean government plans to submit a proposal next week to the ASO expressing interest in hosting the race.
Laporte plans to meet managers of the ASO Friday afternoon "to speak about it, to find solutions," he said.
He called it "the world's most beautiful rally" and "an integral part of the French and African sports heritage."
The race was cancelled last Friday because of threats from al-Qaida-linked militants, a day before the roughly 550 competitors were to embark on the 16-day, 9,270-kilometre trek through remote and hostile dunes and scrub from Europe to Senegal in west Africa.
It was the first time that the 30-year-old rally, one of the biggest competitions in automobile racing and formerly called Paris-Dakar, was called off.

Source: The Canadian Press

Genreal Racing News Shorts

STILL THE SAME: Testing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona got under way in earnest, but the Chip Ganassi Racing entry of defending race winners Scott Pruett and Juan Montoya was again at the top of the speed charts. The pair will share driving duties with Dario Franchitti and Memo Rojas.

COMPROMISE: American Le Mans Series officials will add 25 kilograms to its LMP2 sports cars in an effort to keep them from overpowering the LMP1 Audis. The change is in violation of the rules leased to the series by the governing body of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Automobile Club du L’Ouest.

Yokohama Tire Corporation promoted Dan Guiney to director of technical services. According Jim MacMaster, Yokohama executive vice president, business division, Guiney, "is a consummate professional. Dan's engineering expertise will be used in several areas to assist Yokohama, including more involvement in tire testing; quality control and audits; consumer affairs, OE testing; and aftermarket service. Plus, Dan is Yokohama's technical representative to the Rubber Manufacturers Association."

Source: Sema News

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Federal police flock for operation

TIJUANA – Hundreds of federal police arrived in Baja California yesterday to join forces with state and municipal agencies launching a new front against organized crime.

Members of the Federal Preventive Police swarmed Tijuana's bustling Rio Zone yesterday afternoon, but the agency remained tight-lipped about plans, leaving state officials to explain the purpose of this latest operation.
Baja California's attorney general, Rommel Moreno, said about 1,000 officers would be arriving in the state, “and if it's necessary, we could be speaking of up to 2,000.” He did not give a timetable.
Salvador Juan Ortíz, a deputy state attorney general in Tijuana, said, “I consider it the response . . . to the requests from the governor and the attorney general for more support in the region.”
Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán, who took office in November, has vowed a united front against crime in Baja California together with the federal government and the state's five new mayors.
The officers' arrival yesterday comes a year after President Felipe Calderón announced Operation Tijuana, touted as a major offensive against high-impact crimes such as kidnapping, homicides, drugs and weapons trafficking.
Operation Tijuana began with the disarming of Tijuana's 2,300-member police force, accused by federal authorities of being infiltrated by organized crime. It also included roadblocks across the region.
“It's fine that they come, but the question is, what are they going to do?” said José María Ramos, a researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, a Tijuana think tank.
Such operations can yield short-term results, Ramos said, but governments need to take long-term measures such as establishing crime-prevention programs and increasing the efficiency of prosecutions.
Source : Signon San Diego

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Dakar 2009: Hungarians hoping for Dakar-Start in Budapest 2009.

Balázs Szalay, the team leader of the Szalay Dakar team and the representative of the Eastern - European A.S.O. reported on the events of the permanently cancelled 2008 Dakar rally on an extraordinary press conference held today at 13 o` clock in Champs Sport Pub, Budapest. He started his report with a declaration: "I declare in the name of every Hungarian competitor, László Palik, Sándor Kis, László Liszi, Ákos Varga, Péter Szilvási and I, that we do not intend to participate in the Budapest - Bamako tour, because we do not think of this event as a rally, as it is only a tour. We also expect that the Dakar rally will not be confused with the Bamako tour, because the two events cannot be compared." He said that very well founded reasons led to the final decision of the A.S.O. to come to the conclusion of canceling this year’s act of the Lisbon - Dakar Rally. The assurance of the Mauritanian stages became questionable, as they were called upon by the French government on 3 January not to organize the race due to terrorist threats. After the announcement the tournament could have been only held if the organizers’ take full moral and financial responsibility for the rally, the participants and the assistance teams. Obviously, this would have been quite a big risk to take, therefore, had no other choice only to decide on not setting off the race, knowing that this resolution causes millions of Euro loss for the A.S.O. itself. Last Friday in Lisbon under-secretary of State dr. István Újhelyi had a meeting with the organizers about the possibility of the Budapest - Dakar rally taking place in 2009. Originally, the Dakar would set off from Lisbon according to a previously made contract, though the situation does not change and the safety of the tournament cannot be assured, other countries may have a chance and the start from Budapest could also become reality. The under-secretary of State added that `only a pre-contract was singed which does not have any obligation on us and Hungary will undertake the event solely after the conditions of the race is secured and threats only concern the mentioned countries`. The Budapest start of the Dakar in 2010 has to be signed by 15 March to make it final. The Lisbon start of next year’s Dakar was also mentioned alternatively with the possibility of Tunesia, Libia, and Egypt being the participating countries. These places were marked safe by the organizers and the French government cannot interfere in the decision-making process insomuch as in Mauritanian terrains. The A.S.O. would like to compensate the competitors for the disappointment, therefore, they are planning to organize a mid-year desert and a European race and invite all the participants of the Dakar rally. The second race would be realized as an Eastern-European tournament which could be very prosperous for Hungary as it would involve 550 participants. `The Szalay Dakar team, just like the other teams, is in an awkward situation, after all we prepared for the Dakar and our aim was to complete the stages and to achieve the best position possible. We had a very good chance for this, because we prepared with the best technique and background so far, we had outstanding professional support and great mechanics of GM. We would also like to compensate our sponsors, so we will participate on the most competitions possible this year, certainly on the two championships organized by A.S.O. as it is our aim too to make up the lost race-days` said Balázs Szalay. 2008/01/10 01:28 CET Editor: MR/HS/

Fox Shox Sold!

Fox Racing Shox Has New Majority Owner
WATSONVILLE, CA (BRAIN)—Compass Diversified Holdings (CODI) has purchased a majority interest in Fox Racing Shox.CODI's investment in Fox is based on a total enterprise value of $85.0 million, representing approximately 7.5 times Fox's estimated Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) for 2007.“For over thirty years Fox Racing Shox has been devoted to fulfilling the performance needs of our customers. Over the last several years Fox has experienced unprecedented growth, and we now look forward to being partnered with Compass for the next chapter in our company’s history,” said company founder Bob Fox, who will remain chief executive officer.“Being a successful, healthy company, Fox had the luxury of being able to carefully search out and select the best partner for this transition. The financial strength and resources Compass provides will enable Fox to continue our strong growth and leadership in all of our markets. Importantly, the Compass vision provides a transition that will be seamless and virtually invisible to all concerned—including customers, vendors and employees,” he added.Previously the sole owner, Bob Fox will retain significant ownership in Fox. He will share with other senior managers an initial minority ownership of approximately 24 percent. “It’s been a wonderful and exhilarating ride to see the company I started in my friend’s garage grow to sales of over $100 million. I am proud of what we’ve done so far and know Fox will be a stronger company going forward than I alone had the resources to provide for,” he said.Based in Westport, Connecticut, CODI acquires controlling interests in profitable small to middle market businesses in attractive niche industries.“Fox is a strong addition to CODI,” said Joe Massoud, CODI’s chief executive officer. “This company possesses the critical characteristics we look for in all of our businesses, including market leadership and proven management. Bob Fox and the company’s senior management team have driven growth by providing innovative suspension products for over three decades and we look forward to working with them to continue and accelerate this growth.”
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McMillin Pit Crew - Plaster Cirty

Pit Crew,Andy McMillin takes First in Class, First Overall Win at the Dash.The MDR Plaster City 250 race drew a large crowd of spectators for this annual New Year's Eve tradition. The McMillin Racing team raced three vehicles and all three vehicles finished and did very well. I finished 1st in class and 1st overall crossing the finish line in 3 hours, 43 minutes and 30 seconds…8 seconds ahead of the closest competitor. My dad, Scott McMillin, started the race with Greg Forsberg sitting shotgun for the first two laps. After a driver change and fuel stop, Beau Eckert climbed in with me to watch the GPS and temperature gauges during laps 3, 4 and 5 until we crossed the finish line. My uncle, Mark McMillin, finished 3rd in class one of 12 starters and finished 4th overall. His time was 4 hours and 15 minutes. Daniel McMillin drove his single seat 1600 car and finished 3rd in class with 24 starters. His time of 4 hours, 29 minutes and 39 seconds was good for 9th overall. Finishing the year strong put the icing on the cake for the 2007 race season for me and my team. Enduring a tough year of equipment failures and the challenges of Baja was difficult but it has made me an even tougher, more determined driver going into the 2008 season. My crew continues to rise to the challenge for each race and I am very appreciative of all of their efforts. I could not have done it without their dedication, loyalty and support.

South America aims to run Dakar through jungle and Andes - Feature

Sports News Home
Rio de Janeiro - The Amazonian rain forest and the Andes mountains could replace the African desert as South America is vying to stage the Dakar Rally. Argentina, Brazil and Chile are looking into the possibility of hosting the race later this year and there are also talks about a race through several South American countries and climate zones.
The 30th edition of the Dakar was called off on the eve of Saturday's start in Lisbon because of a terror threat in Mauretania, where most of the stages of the famed race were scheduled to take place before the traditional finish in the Senegalese capital of Dakar.
There is alleged interest from Russia, China and Australia - and the South American options as well to stage the race next December.
"South America is not only the best but the only option," insisted Carlo de Gavardo of Chile on the website of the El Comercio daily.
De Gavardo is a former motorcycle rally World Cup winner and his father Giorgio is the Latin American representative in the Dakar Rally organizing team.
According to de Gavardo, a Dakar in South America could run through Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia and Peru.
Such a race could cross the Andes Range, run through the Argentinian pampa, the Atacama Desert in Chile, pass Lake Titicaca in Peru and the Machu Picho Inka ruins in Bolivia and as well as the Amazonas rain forest in Brazil.
But there are also one-country bids.
"There are three or four options but Argentina is the favourite," David Ely, organizer of the Argentina rally which is part of the world championship, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
Ely said he will hold talks with the French race organizers on Wednesday and expects a final decision by Tuesday of next week.
However, Brazil and Chile are also interested, with Santiago de Chile Tourist Board chief Oscar Santelices saying that his country offers security, stability, the necessary infrastructure and geographical variety.
In addition, private investors and the state are both working on the issue and Santelices said that support has been requested from sports authorities and the interior ministry. The backing by Head of State Michelle Bachelet is also expected.

Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes MP4-23 for 2008 Formula 1 Season

Here you have it. McLaren’s 2008 challenger. Immediately, you can see that they’re left out the “bridge” upper front element, heavily revised bargeboard and sidemount aero, and deeply curved rear lower element. They’re sticking with the horizontal element in front of the rear spoiler section. Wonder if any of these developments came from the drawing board of a certain other Formula 1 team… Hmmm… And look at Heikki… so happy. We’ll see how long that lasts.


Tourists shun crime-hit Mexico beaches

By ELLIOT SPAGAT Associated Press Writer
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PLAYAS DE ROSARITO, Mexico—Assaults on American tourists have brought hard times to hotels and restaurants that dot Mexican beaches just south of the border from San Diego.
Surfers and kayakers are frightened to hit the waters of the northern stretch of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, long popular as a weekend destination for U.S. tourists. Weddings have been canceled. Lobster joints a few steps from the Pacific were almost empty on the usually busy New Year's weekend.
Americans have long tolerated shakedowns by police who boost salaries by pulling over motorists for alleged traffic violations, and tourists know parts of Baja are a hotbed of drug-related violence. But a handful of attacks since summer by masked, armed bandits—some of whom used flashing lights to appear like police—marks a new extreme that has spooked even longtime visitors.
Lori Hoffman, a San Diego-area emergency room nurse, said she was sexually assaulted Oct. 23 by two masked men in front of her boyfriend, San Diego Surfing Academy owner Pat Weber, who was forced to kneel at gunpoint for 45 minutes. They were at a campground with about 30 tents, some 200 miles south of the border.
The men shot out windows of the couple's trailer and forced their way inside, ransacked the cupboards and left with about $7,000 worth of gear, including computers, video equipment and a guitar.
Weber, who has taught dozens of students in Mexico over the last 10 years, plans

to surf in Costa Rica or New Zealand. "No more Mexico," said Hoffman, who reported the attack to Mexican police. No arrests have been made.
The Baja California peninsula is known worldwide for clean and sparsely populated beaches, lobster and margaritas and blue waters visited by whales and dolphins. Surfers love the waves; fishermen catch tuna, yellowtail and marlin. Food and hotels are cheap.
News of harrowing assaults on American tourists has begun to overshadow that appeal in the northern part of the peninsula, home to drug gangs and the seedy border city of Tijuana. The comparatively isolated southern tip, with its tony Los Cabos resort, remains safer and is still popular with Hollywood celebrities, anglers and other foreign tourists.
Local media and surfing Web sites that trumpeted Baja in the past have reported several frightening crimes that U.S. and Mexican officials consider credible. Longtime visitors are particularly wary of a toll road near the border that runs through Playas de Rosarito—Rosarito Beach.
In late November, as they returned from the Baja 1000 off-road race, a San Diego-area family was pulled over on the toll road by a car with flashing lights. Heavily armed men held the family hostage for two hours. They eventually released them but stole the family's truck.
Before dawn on Aug. 31, three surfers were carjacked on the same stretch of highway. Gunmen pulled them over in a car with flashing lights, forced them out of their vehicles and ordered one to kneel. They took the trucks and left the surfers.
Aqua Adventures of San Diego scrapped its annual three-day kayak trip to scout for whales in January, ending a run of about 10 years. Customers had already been complaining about longer waits to return to the U.S.; crime gave them another reason to stay away.
"People are just saying, 'No way.' They don't want to deal with the risk," said owner Jen Kleck, who has sponsored trips to Baja about five times a year but hasn't been since July.
Charles Smith, spokesman for the U.S. consulate in Tijuana, said the U.S. government has not found a widespread increase in attacks against Americans, but he acknowledged many crimes go unreported. The State Department has long warned motorists on Mexico's border to watch for people following them, though no new warnings have been issued.
Mexican officials acknowledge crime has threatened a lifeblood of Baja's economy. In Playas de Rosarito, a city of 130,000, police were forced to surrender their weapons last month for testing to determine links to any crimes. Heavily armed men have patrolled City Hall since a failed assassination attempt on the new police chief left one officer dead. On Thursday the bullet-riddled bodies of a Tijuana police official and another man were found dumped near the beach.
"We cannot minimize what's happening to public safety," said Oscar Escobedo Carignan, Baja's new secretary of tourism. "We're going to impose order ... We're indignant about what's happening."
Tourist visits to Baja totaled about 18 million in 2007, down from 21 million the previous year, Escobedo said. Hotel occupancy dropped about 5 percentage points to 53 percent.
Hugo Torres, owner of the storied Rosarito Beach Hotel and the city's new mayor, estimates the number of visitors to Rosarito Beach since summer is down 30 percent.
In the city's Puerto Nuevo tourist enclave, which offers $20 lobster dinners and $1 margaritas, restaurant managers said sales were down as much as 80 percent from last year. One Saturday afternoon in October, masked bandits wielding pistols walked the streets and kidnapped two men—an American and a Spanish citizen—who were later released unharmed. Two people who were with them were shot and wounded.
Omar Armendariz, who manages a Puerto Nuevo lobster restaurant, is counting on the new state and city governments to make tourists feel safer. He has never seen fewer visitors in his nine years on the job.
"It's dead," he said.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Dakar: Petersen: Safety has to come first.

Petersen Motorsport team owner/driver Michael Petersen has said he fully supports the decision to cancel the 2008 running of the Dakar Rally on safety grounds.The event was cancelled by the organisers ASO little more than a day before it was due to get underway in Lisbon following 'direct threats launched directly against the race by terrorist organisations' and following the death of four French tourists in the Mauritania region around Christmas.Although understandably disappointed to see the event – which would have been the second for the American squad best known for its commitments in the American Le Mans Series – Petersen admitted that he would rather pack up and head for home than see any members of his team put at risk.

"As competitors we have not been made aware of the specific threats to the rally but nothing is more important than the safety of the guys on the team," he said. "If the ASO decided that it was too dangerous to hold the race this year, then we know it must be the case. "That doesn't help ease the disappointment or frustration. We are disappointed for the fans and supporters and our corporate partners. Everyone worked so hard to put this together. We overcame a lot of challenges to be here. We were scheduled to go through tech today and do the first stage tomorrow. We were all excited and all ready to go. It was a shock to wake up to this. Right now, we are all still trying to digest everything that has happened here but safety is always the most important thing. "The guys that make up this team are my friends. I have known some of them for over ten years. I share their disappointment but I'd rather see them disappointed that put in harms way."

Economic concerns in wake of Dakar rally cancellation

DAKAR (AFP) — The last-minute cancellation of the 2008 Dakar motor rally will cause a "mini-tsunami" in the fragile economies of the African countries it was due to pass through, a Senegalese paper said Monday.
"In terms of lost profits, heavy losses and financial consequences, the cancellation of the 30th rally is the equivalent, for our fragile economies, of a real mini-tsunami," wrote the editor of the group that publishes Le Matin newspaper in a front-page editorial.
It recognised that the primary goal of the organisers had to be the security of the competitors.
But it added that "giving in to the threats of Bin Laden (head of the Al Qaeda network) or other terrorists, it's as if we're rolling out the red carpet for them, and it (will make them believe) they've triumphed over all the security measures taken by Portugal, Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal combined."
The Lisbon-Dakar Rally was called off by organisers on January 5 following threats to its safety purportedly from the Al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb.
Those threats came in the wake of the murder on December 24 of four French tourists in Mauritania.

Dakar chiefs consider 2008 alternative

PRAGUE (AFP) — Dakar Rally organisers are considering a race through central Europe this spring to replace the event that was cancelled due to security concerns, the head of the Czech KM Racing Team told AFP on Monday.
"According to the information I received from my friends and Hungarian colleagues, ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation), are considering organising a competition in May to run through Hungary and Romania," said Pavel Kubicek.
"It would be a nice gesture to those who sacrificed a year of their lives in preparation for the 2008 Dakar," said the KM Racing chief, who added that Hungarian Balazs Szalay, the representative of ASO for central Europe had been pushing for several years for Budapest to host the start of the Dakar one day.
"In any case, it is impossible to compensate for the cancellation of the Dakar. It truly is a phenomenon, much more than just a rally."
KM Racing boasts three motorbike riders, David Pabiska, Dusan Randysek and Ivan Figura and Josef Machacek, four-time Dakar winner in the quad bike category.
The 2008 Dakar Rally had been due to start on Saturday in Lisbon, but the murder of four French tourists in Mauritania on December 24 led to the French government advising against any travel to the country and race organisers cancelling the 30th edition of the event.

New Spectator Area at 2008 LDC!!!!!

SCORE has finally opened up another area of the race course for spectating at the Laughlin Desert Challenge. For years the spectators have been confined to the infield while the outer course had some amazing race action nobody was able to see. Well this year that is different. Direct from the SCORE website.

#3 New- Drive-in Spectator Area behind Laughlin High School. $10 per car load - You can park rightoff the track, so you’re going to see the racing action up close and personal. The drawback is you’ll be ata remote location, out of touch with the winners, the start finish line etc. Passes are cash only, sold only at the gate.

Well done SCORE.

Maranello launches Ferrari's 2008 F1 car

FERRARI FACE FOR 2008: This is the car - well, pretty much the car, because it will certainly change before the first grid forms in March 2008 - Ferrari will race in the coming F1 series. Image: AFP FOUR-RACE GEARBOX, NO TRACTION CONTROLMaranello launches Ferrari's 2008 F1 car [ See related stories ]January 6, 2008Ferrari today launched its F2008 car for the 2008 Formula 1 season at its HQ in Maranello, Italy - the 54th single-seater the automaker has produced since first becoming involved in motor racing.Its internal codename is 659.Major new features follow regulatory modifications that include a new standard electronic control unit that all F1 cars have to use
Major new features follow regulatory modficiations.Other areas affected by regulation changes are the gearbox, which must last for four race meetings, and safety elements regarding helmets. Several driver aids, such as traction control and the electronically assisted starting system, have had to be removed.These changes have resulted in a a heavier car though this model will have changed significantly by the time the first GP grid forms up in March.World Drivers' champion Kimi Raikkonen will take the new car for its first outing at the nearby Fiorano track on Monday.Arch-rival McLaren will unveil its 2008 challenger on Monday at the Mercedes museum in Stuttgart, Germany. - AFP

Ferrari presents its 2008 Formula One car, bearing the No. 1

FIORANO, Italy - Ferrari presented its 2008 Formula One car Sunday, highlighting a series of technical changes and the return of the No. 1 on the red model's nose.
Kimi Raikkonen earned Ferrari its first driver's championship last season since Michael Schumacher accomplished the feat five consecutive times from 2000 to '04. It was the squad's first constructor's title since 2004.
Ferrari is calling the car the F2008. It is the 54th car the Maranello outfit has built for F1.
It features a new electronic system called SECU (Standard Electronic Control Unit) that is the same for all F1 teams this season.
Other new details include a revamped transmission, which must be used for four consecutive races, and more safety features, including lateral guards near the drivers' helmets.
According to new rules for materials, the car is heavier than last year's edition, weighing in at 605 kilograms, including water, oil and the driver.
There is also a complete overhaul in aerodynamics, although Ferrari said more changes will be put in place before the first race in Australia in March.
Raikkonen is scheduled to test the F2008 for the first time on Ferrari's home track in Fiorano on Monday. The team then heads to Madonna Di Campiglio in the Italian Dolomites for the squad's annual winter retreat.