Frank Williams Sells His Share of Storied Formula One Team

By ADAM COOPER

AUTO WEEK

Williams F1 has sold a minority shareholding to an Austrian group led by investor Christian “Toto” Wolff.

The Williams team has been owned 70/30 by Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head since it was started in 1977. They have resisted overtures from potential partners, including BMW.

The 37-year-old Wolff is based in Switzerland with his partner, Scottish DTM racer Susie Stoddart. He made his money in a wide range of venture-capital investments under the Marchfifteen and Marchsixteen names. His holdings currently include HWA AG, which operates the Mercedes DTM program, and rally organization BRR, which runs the Red Bull junior team. He also runs a driver-management company with Mika Häkkinen.

Wolff also is a successful racer. He started in Formula Ford in 1992, but has focused mainly on GTs. In 2004, he raced a Ferrari 575 Maranello with close associate and former Formula One driver Karl Wendlinger in the FIA GT series. More recently, he has competed in rallying.

He is lap record holder at the full Nürburgring track, a feat achieved in a Porsche 997 RSR. But he wrecked the car on the next lap after a tire failed at 165 mph.

Felipe Massa Seriously Hurt in Formula One Crash

Massa Injure Bad
July 27, 2009

Ferrari’s Massa Stable After Surgery on Skull

By BRAD SPURGEON

BUDAPEST — Felipe Massa, a Brazilian driver who finished second in the Formula One series last year, was in stable condition Sunday after surgery for a skull fracture, his Ferrari team said.

The Brazilian was injured Saturday in a qualifying session for the Hungarian Grand Prix when a spring from another driver’s car struck his head while he was driving at more than 250 kilometers, or 156 miles, an hour.

Massa, 28, was taken to the AEK Hospital in Budapest by helicopter, where he was found to have suffered damage to his skull and a concussion. Although he was conscious upon arrival at the hospital, doctors placed him in an artificial coma and operated to repair the bone.

“Massa’s condition remains stable and there were no further complications through the night,” the Ferrari team said in a statement Sunday. “He will be given another CT scan today.”

The accident happened less than a week after Henry Surtees, 18, a Formula 2 driver and son of a former world champion for Ferrari, John Surtees, was killed at a race in England when a wheel that had come off another car struck him in the head, killing him.

Formula One officials said that they would look into whether any further safety measures may be taken, like putting canopies over the drivers’ heads.

Massa’s accident occurred during the second part of the qualifying session. His onboard television camera showed the car going down the track at speed, then straight off into a tire wall, where Massa remained motionless.

In slow motion, the footage showed a wheel spring that had come off the Brawn car of Rubens Barrichello, another Brazilian driver, had bounced down the track and hit the front of Massa’s car before smashing into his helmet. The Brawn car was about four seconds ahead of Massa’s Ferrari at the time.

Ross Brawn, the owner and director of the team, said the spring weighed about 700 to 800 grams, or about 1.5 pounds. He said the team would look into why it had come off.

Formula One cars have open cockpits, which leave the drivers’ heads exposed. The last death of a driver in a race was that of another Brazilian, Ayrton Senna, at Imola in 1994. He was struck in the head by part of his own car’s front suspension during an accident.

Formula One later raised the height of the car body around the drivers’ heads, but the front and top of the helmet remain exposed.

Brawn found a positive element, saying he thought Massa had survived largely because of advances in helmet technology. The front of the top part of Massa’s helmet was damaged, but the whole structure remained intact.

Massa began racing in Formula One in 2002 with Sauber. He joined Ferrari in 2006. Last year he was edged out of the title by Lewis Hamilton in the final race.

JOE GIBBS RACING GIVES INSTANT CREDIBILITY TO TOYOTA RACING DEVELOPMENT’S NASCAR PROGRAM

The great David Poole on a winning combo…

JGR turns Toyota into Cup contender

Charlotte Observer

DAVID POOLE

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Things just got interesting.

Everybody colored inside the lines at Wednesday’s announcement that Joe Gibbs Racing will switch to Toyotas next year. It was all nice and polite, which is curious since Tony Stewart was there.

Make no mistake, however, this was the true beginning of the manufacturer’s foray into NASCAR’s top series. Toyota participated in Nextel Cup in 2007. In 2008, it starts competing.

There’s no kind way to say this, but if the teams using Toyotas this year were building Fords, Chevrolets or Dodges, they’d struggle, too. Michael Waltrip Racing and Team Red Bull started from scratch, and Bill Davis Racing had been wandering in a NASCAR purgatory until it got to start racing Camrys in 2007.

This year, Toyota executives wore out shoe leather worrying about whether they’d get any cars in the Daytona 500. In 2008, they’ll worry about how to win it.

In 2007, only 60.7 percent of the Toyotas trying to make Cup races have made the field. In 2008, it will be shocking to see fewer than two Toyota teams in the Chase for the Nextel Cup.

Sure, it might take some time for the people at Joe Gibbs Racing to switch over all of its cars and learn how to make the Toyota engine power those cars to Victory Lane.

Then again, it might not.

“If we thought we were going to come out of the box slow next year, we wouldn’t have done it,” team President J.D. Gibbs said.

When you’ve accomplished as much as Joe Gibbs Racing has — three Cup championships and 58 victories since 1992 — you don’t accept limitations.

“The only way that you constantly stay ahead of the game is by putting yourselves in positions to be leaders, not followers,” Stewart said. “That’s why I signed up with Joe Gibbs Racing in the first place.”

Leadership is a word that kept coming up.

“There are certain things we think we’d like to have a leadership role in,” said Gibbs, the son of owner Joe Gibbs. ” … With GM, you’ve got four really strong teams, so I think it is probably a little more difficult to say who has a leadership role there. Which direction are we going to go? I think for us it is just the right decision and the right time.”

In other words, J.D. Gibbs wants his team to be the best. That’s the only reason to be in the racing business. And guess what? Toyota feels the same way.

“Our plan has always been that … we would grow,” said Toyota Racing Development President Jim Aust. “You don’t know when that’s going to come available to you.”

JGR became available because all four of the top-tier Chevrolet teams had their deals with GM come up for renewals. Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. all want to be the best team in the sport, just as JGR does. The chance to be the lead dog at Toyota was too hard for Gibbs to turn down.

Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch will drive for JGR next year. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Casey Mears will drive for Hendrick. Those teams are going to be rivals, but if they were all driving Chevrolets that rivalry couldn’t be what it will be with the Gibbs gang in Toyotas.

“From inside the car, they all look the same,” Stewart said, dismissing that premise. It’s no big deal to us.”

But then he added the magic words.

“What it boils down to,” Stewart said, “is we want to win races.”

Correct.

And so does Toyota.

Canadian Ryan Coniam hired as race engineer for Jacques Villeneuve in 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup

 

Burlington racer to be Villeneuve’s NASCAR engineer

TheStar.com – AutoRacing – Burlington racer to be Villeneuve’s NASCAR engineer

September 04, 2007


Motorsport Reporter

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Burlington’s Ryan Coniam has been hired as race engineer for Jacques Villeneuve in the 2008 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.

Villeneuve, who was world driving champion in 1997, will start his NASCAR career at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sept. 22 when he will partner Bill Davis Racing teammate Mike Skinner in a Craftsman Truck Series race.

Villeneuve is expected to drive as many as seven truck races and possibly one Nextel Cup race in ’07 before going into the Cup series full-time in 2008.

The 27-year-old Coniam, former World of Outlaws sprint car star and son of Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee Warren Coniam, has been living in Mooresville, N.C., where he was employed in research and development for Dale Earnhardt Inc. He was head-hunted by BDR and travelled to Bristol, Tenn., for an interview the weekend of Aug. 25. He was notified last Friday that he has the job and told wheels.ca today that he is absolutely thrilled.

Coniam, who started racing karts when he was seven, has carefully worked his way up the racing ladder. He had seasons in modifieds and limited supermodifieds on pavement and then went sprint-car racing on dirt, spending seasons with the Southern Ontario Sprint Car series and the New York-based Empire Super Sprints.

A move to the highly competitive U.S.-based All Star Circuit of Champions series followed and he won rookie-of-the-year honours and finished top five in points in his first year. He then raced on and off with the World of Outlaws before starting to concentrate on car preparation and team management.

Villeneuve will drive truck No. 27, renumbered in recent days by BDR to honour Villeneuve’s late father, Gilles Villeneuve, who drove Ferrari No. 27.

Jacques Villeneuve also drove with that number on his car when he raced in the CART series in the mid-1990s, winning both the Indianapolis 500 and the CART championship in 1995.

DALE EARNHARDT JUNIOR TO DRIVE FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

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