Cindy is tough on Atlanta

If you were planning to go to the Nextel Cup Race at Atlanta Motor Speedway at the end of October, you might want to take a lawn chair.

Tropical Storm Cindy hit the facility with high winds and heavy rains last week, doing an estimated $40 million in damage. The track's condominium building and grandstands were hardest hit, and two of the track's three scoring towers were knocked down by the storm.

Speculation has it that at least one, and possibly more, tornadoes were involved in the maelstrom that hit the track last Wednesday. The racing surface survived the onslaught, but lights, fences, stands, concession buildings, and much more must be rebuilt prior to the scheduled Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 on October 30.

Have you ever noticed that when disaster strikes, vultures (the kind with briefcases and contracts) begin to circle the scene? Well, the model holds true for the U.S. Grand Prix.

Indianapolis-based attorney Henry Price has abandoned his pursuit of ambulances to file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of USGP fans. Price is warning people not to accept Michelin's offer of free tickets, telling them that by doing so they would be giving up the opportunity to claim other compensation such as travel expenses, emotional distress, and the heartbreak of psoriasis.

Price is apparently salivating over a chunk of the estimated $10 million that Michelin would spend on this refund. I recommend reading John Grisham's book "King of Torts" which vividly explains the class action lawsuit model. What happens is that the lawyers filing the suit walk away with hundreds of millions of dollars and the individual plaintiffs end up with a $3.00 coupon (not valid with any other offer, no cash value). If you attended the race, my advice is to take the free ticket for 2005 and tell Mr. Price to take a hike.

And speaking of Formula 1 racing, this weekend's British Grand Prix fans will experience heightened security measures in the wake of Thursday's cowardly bomb attacks on London's transit system. Everyone entering the Grand Prix venue at Silverstone will have their belongings searched. The Grand Prix will be the largest event held in England this weekend, with more than 100,000 people in attendance today.

Silverstone spokesman John Hurton was quote as saying, "Of course we are warned and will do everything that is possible for safety. However, there is no reason to panic." Apparently he didn't see the USGP.

Britain's Dan Wheldon, winner of this year's Indy 500 as well as three more of the season's eight races to date, may be considering a new career path. Wheldon has been reported as a "person of interest" for a BAR-Honda seat in F1.

With the future of the Indy Racing League in a precarious position due to the upcoming defection of two of its three engine manufacturers, Wheldon is considering other options. Toyota and GM have already announced their intentions to leave the series, and Honda has indicated it has no interest in being the supplier for a "spec" engine series.

Wheldon recently voiced interest in American Stock Car racing, saying, "NASCAR is something that in America you have to look at because it is so big."

Wheldon's current employer, Andretti Green Racing, is reportedly looking to sign him to a long-term contract.

Don't ever play poker with Jamie McMurray. After straight-faced denials in dozens of interviews that he was looking anywhere but Ganassi Racing, Roush Racing announced last week that it has signed McMurray to a multiyear contract to drive the No. 6 car beginning in 2007.

No driver has yet been announced for the No. 6 for the 2006 season, but Ricky Craven is rumored to be the front-runner for the interim assignment. Tide will replace Viagra as the primary sponsor next season and beyond.

The announcement creates an awkward situation for the Ganassi organization, which has already announced that Sterling Marlin will not be on the team roster in the No. 40 car for next season, replaced by Busch driver David Stremme. McMurray now becomes a "lame-duck" driver for the team in the No. 42, although Ganassi said he will support his driver and expects success in 2006 with the team.


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