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Cars 'n' Stars: San Diego/Coronado Vintage Race Set, Saturn Looks at SUV, Torrey Pines Concours

22 October 1997

Steve Earle, the man who conducts the finest vintage/historic car race weekend in the U.S., has made a deal with the Holiday Bowl in San Diego to produce the Chrysler Classic Speed Festival on beautiful Coronado, the posh, upscale home of the world famous (Kings and Queens) Del Coronado Hotel on the San Diego bay. Only 150 cars will be accepted for the Nov 22-23 event at the Naval Air Station road course, and these will be "primo" examples of famous racers from the past. For info call 619 283 5808.

The Saturn division of GM has cut prices on its 1998 models and is contempleting entering the SUV market, probably in 2001. Why not, everyone else has a sport ute. Long recognized as the "innovator" among all of GM's divisions, Saturn cut 1998 prices and sent retroactive refund checks to 12,000 customers, for a total of $7 million in rebates.

The 13th annual Torrey Pines Concours d"Elegance last weekend is challenging the Pebble Beach (Monterey) CA annual Concours for its breathtaking ocean venue and classy selection of show cars. Mercedes Benz must have emptied their Stuttgart Museum for the show, as the MB models on display were true classics: a six-wheel German staff car, a dozen SSKs--some customized--and a 40 car MB Owners Club show. Even a W196 race car was honored. Bugatti, Talbot, Alfa, Duesenbergs and a dozen pre-1910 car/carriages were on the Torrey Pines Country Club lawn for all to see and photograph.

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck series runs at the Las Vegas Speedway Nov 9, and the track has announced "family day" at the circuit: buy one ticket, get one free. Also, kids under 11 can get in free.

Chrysler really got slugged by a South Carolina court when the company was told it must pay $262.5 million to the parents of a 6-year old boy who died due to a rear safety latch malfunction on a Dodge Caravan. Chrysler will appeal.

As everyone in racing knows, Paul Tracy was canned by Roger Penske and moved over to Team Kool Green. They said he just wasn't a team player and couldn't give any feedback to mechanics after a practice session. Just wait till the REAL reason comes out as to why the Canadian ace was fired.

Ilmor Engineering, the folks who build Mercedes Benz race engines, is opening a new 26,000 sq ft tech center in Plymouth, Mich.

Sears/Craftsman showed off their 1998 line of tools just a few days before the Craftsman Truck race at the California Speedway. The big crowd pleaser was a big tool chest with a remote locking device: just like a garage door.

One of the most important barometers of a successful auto dealer program, from the factory standpoint, is "sales-per-dealer." For 1997 the top nameplates are Honda, Saturn, Ford, Toyota, Nissan. Honda dealers averaged 62 sales in the month of September.

Chrysler's net fell 35.1% in the third quarter.

Emerson Fittipaldi may have hung up his helmet, but he still wants to remain in racing. He's looking at buying into the Davis (ex-Jim Hall) CART team, which fielded Gaulter Salles this year.

Want to go to school to learn about racing? Clemson Univ has a motorsports course that includes working six months for an NHRA team.

The CART contingent will be testing at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan on Nov 1 and 2. They will race there March 28, 1998. Testing next week will be Paul Tracy, Dario Franchiti and Al Jr.

Team co-owner Paul Newman gets a big story in the British edition of Gentlemen's Quarterly next month.

The attitude at Roger Penske's California Speedway is that they enjoyed a successful opening season: 325,000 people passed through the turnstiles for three weekends of racing. CART drew 100,000 and the Bush cars 45,000.

The ProSportsCar series plus the FIA Touring cars ran at Sebring, Fla last weekend . . . does anyone have any results?

Don't forget, keep the TACH in the black.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel