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    43801 Mission Boulevard
    Suite 103
    Pleasanton, CA 94566

    Battle of the SUV Grilles!
    A newGeneral Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler Corp. filed competing federal lawsuits 11 minutes apart this week over a grille design intended for a new GM Humvee. The Hummer H2 sport utility vehicle is scheduled to be launched next year. DaimlerChrysler contends the grille is too similar to Jeep's grille and will confuse consumers. GM, which acquired the brand name Hummer from AM General two years ago, contends that no one will confuse the H2 with a Jeep. The Jeep grille looks as though the seven slots have been punched through a sheet of metal. DaimlerChrysler says the look is recognized by the public because of tens of millions of Jeeps that have been sold and billions of dollars in advertising spent over the past 50 years. GM says its grille design is very wide and very short, with seven short vertical slots. In its lawsuit filed Tuesday in South Bend, the company said AM General received a trademark for the grille in 1996 and should be allowed to use it. GM has since acquired the brand name Hummer from AM General. In its lawsuit filed in Toledo, Ohio, DaimlerChrysler alleges trademark infringement, asks the court to block GM's use of the grille, and seeks unspecified damages.

    UK Bids Farewell to 3-Wheelers.

    Britain's last three-wheeled car rolled off the assembly line on Wednesday, bringing to a close 65 years of motoring tradition that has been the butt of endless jokes. The Reliant Robin, a uniquely British concoction of fibreglass and lateral instability that brought motoring pleasure to thousands, finally succumbed to a new generation of inexpensive four-wheel microcars. The quirky Robin, which features a single wheel up front, was made famous in the British comedy "Only Fools and Horses," and won devotees who needed only a motorcycle license to drive it. Reliant Motors produced 300 a week in its three-wheeling 1960s heyday, but that number slumped to only 10 a week. Some 44,000 still grind along British roads -- to the amusement of four-wheeling motorists -- and the car has spawned a number of Reliant owners' clubs and rallies. Reliant's three-wheeled cars began life in the depths of the Great Depression, but didn't catch the public's fancy until after Word War Two and when a wheel finally replaced a handle bar for steering. The car was originally built from aluminium, but became the first mass-production vehicle with a fibreglass body in the 1950s. Rescued from insolvency several times, Reliant today sells the Robin for about 10,000 pounds ($15,000). The price tag is hefty for some who see the vehicle as one wheel short of a real car, but the Robin is inexpensive to operate and does about 80 miles (130 km) to the gallon with its 850cc aluminium engine. The last Robin, a special-edition model with a gold-metallic finish, two-tone trim and a walnut dashboard, was won by three-wheel enthusiast John Leigh from the Sun Newspaper, which bought the car for the give-away.

    Ford Employee Makes large Donation.

    Skilled tradesman Mat Dawson Jr., nationally known as the "blue collar philanthropist," will donate $200,000 to Wayne State University at a special ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, in the McGregor Memorial Conference Center on campus. The donation will establish the Bessie and Mat Dawson Sr. Memorial Scholarship, in honor of Dawson's parents. Bessie Dawson instilled in her seven children the need to give something back to society, and Mat has taken her advice to heart. He specifically selected Black History Month as the time for his donation as a way of emphasizing that others should follow his example. Dawson, 80, is a forklift rigger at Ford Motor Co., at which he recently celebrated his 60th anniversary. He often works seven days a week, piling up as much overtime as he can. This hard work has enabled him to build up a savings from which he has donated more than $1.3 million to a variety of charitable causes.

    Lauda to Test F1?

    Jaguar chief Wolfgang Reitzle has suggested that 51-year-old chief adviser Niki Lauda could test drive the team's Formula One cars. "It's an idea from the head of our finance department to help compensate for his salary," Reitzle, chairman of Jaguar's Premier Automotive Group, told weekly Bunte in an interview released ahead of publication. "But the final decision belongs to Niki Lauda himself." The former triple world champion was recruited by the Jaguar team earlier this month. He will be chiefly responsible for all Jaguar's F1 commitments. Lauda, who won world titles with Ferrari in 1975 and 1977 and McLaren in 1984, told Bunte that Jaguar were working to a five-year plan. "I don't expect that we will be in a position to win a race or two until the third year at the earliest."

    Toyota Dies Well in Northeast.

    Toyota trucks walked away with an unprecedented three awards in the New England Motor Press Association's (NEMPA) Official Winter Vehicle competition. Frank Miller, vehicle sales manager of Toyota's Boston Regional Office, accepted the awards on behalf of the Region's 71 dealers from Maine to Rhode Island. A panel of seasoned automotive writers and broadcasters chose the new Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4x4 as the winner in the compact pickup truck category, the V8-powered Toyota Tundra Access Cab 4x4 as the best full-sized pickup truck, and the all-new V8 Toyota Sequoia 4x4 as the champ in the full-sized sport-utility vehicle division. NEMPA is a professional organization of automotive journalists who live and work throughout New England. Each year the organization chooses vehicles in several categories that are best suited to meet the needs of New England drivers. During a final evaluation of test vehicles from numerous manufacturers on January 27, at least a foot of snow was on the ground and a sheet of hard pack and glare ice covered the evaluation course.

    Petty Mechanic Jailed.

    A mechanic for NASCAR driver Kyle Petty was arrested and charged with flooring the accelerator while in the passenger seat and fleeing an accident. Alan White, a 47-year-old off-duty beach patrol officer, was injured and listed in serious condition at Halifax Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said. Jeremy Lee Upchurch, 25, of Durham, N.C., an engine tuner for Petty's No. 45 Dodge, was arrested on a variety of charges Monday night: aggravated battery with a motor vehicle, leaving the scene of a crash with injuries, negligence, driving with a suspended license and reckless driving. Upchurch posted bail of $38,000 Tuesday and was released. A Petty team spokesman said Tuesday night that he did not know the details of the accident, and could not comment. Police said Upchurch was a passenger in a car driven by Joseph Fiorelli, 39, of Durham, N.C. Sgt. C.A. Skipper said Upchurch lifted his leg over the center console and pressed the accelerator to the floor. The sports car raced south down South Atlantic Avenue at 80 mph, officers said. The posted limit is 35 mph. Fiorelli struggled to regain control of the car and steered the car through traffic, passing other cars and trucks by driving in the center lane, officers said. Fiorelli then braked but could not stop before ramming White's sport utility vehicle, which was stopped, Skipper said. After the crash, witnesses told police that Upchurch said, "I'm out of here," and fled on foot. Upchurch returned to the crash scene an hour later and was arrested.

    CART Opens Los Angeles Office.

    Building on its commitment to take its racing to the next level of sports entertainment, Championship Auto Racing Teams announced today that it is opening a Los Angeles office dedicated to extending CART's presence in the entertainment industry and led by California Speedway executive Jay Lucas. CART President and CEO Joseph Heitzler announced that Lucas has been named Vice President of Sports Entertainment as CART continues to evolve its marketing and communications approach. Lucas, who has more than 20 years of sports entertainment experience in the Los Angeles area, most recently served as Assistant General Manager at California Speedway. His experience in public relations and marketing with California Speedway and the Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as in college sports, will serve as the foundation around which CART will build its sports entertainment program. In his position with CART, his responsibilities will focus on developing, managing and expanding the entertainment aspects of CART and the FedEx Championship Series while integrating the stars of the sport with other entertainment and media entities. He will manage all events that have an entertainment focus, such as the CART Sneak Preview and All-Star events as well as the annual CART Awards Banquet. One of his initial tasks will be to coordinate and extend CART's promotional efforts surrounding the April 27 release of the motion picture, "Driven." The Franchise Pictures film, a Warner Brothers release, stars Sylvester Stallone and utilizes CART's FedEx Championship Series as a backdrop for the action drama about open-wheel racing. Lucas, 43, has spent his entire career in the Los Angeles area. At California Speedway, which plays host to the annual CART FedEx Championship Series finale, Lucas oversaw all public relations activities and assisted with development of marketing strategies and the day-to-day operations of the 529- acre, 90,000-seat motorsports facility.

    Daytona IROC Line-Up.

    Friday Race At Daytona International Speedway Daytona Beach, Fla. Drivers in identical Pontiac Trans-Am Firebirds Positions set by random draw 1. Dale Earnhardt, NASCAR Winston Cup. 2. Eddie Cheever Jr., Indy Racing League. 3. Jeff Burton, NASCAR Winston Cup. 4. Scott Goodyear, Indy Racing League. 5. Kenny Brack, CART. 6. Mark Dismore, Indy Racing League. 7. Dale Jarrett, NASCAR Winston Cup. 8. Buddy Lazier, Indy Racing League. x-9. Tony Stewart, NASCAR Winston Cup. 10. Ricky Rudd, NASCAR Winston Cup. 11. Bobby Labonte, NASCAR Winston Cup. 12. Jeff Green, NASCAR Busch Series. x-Subbing for injured Gil de Ferran, CART.

    Toyota F1 Finds Home.

    Toyota will use the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France as their "home" track in preparing for a Formula One debut in 2002. Toyota said in a statement on Wednesday that they would unveil their first Formula One car at the track, also known as Le Castellet, near Marseille on March 23. "The facility will now be the home track for the Toyota F1 project," it said. Track officals said in a separate statement that Toyota's decision had speeded up renovation of the circuit. "The launch of the first grand prix chassis and engine to be made entirely by the world's third largest carmaker will mark the start of a relentless testing program for the Toyota team," the Toyota statement said. The Germany-based team said they would also test at most grand prix circuits in 2001 with Mika Salo of Finland and Briton Allan McNish. "Our initial plan is that Mika would concentrate on the development side of the car and Allan would run the tests to collect data on new circuits," said team manager Ange Pasquali. "So Mika will be spending more time than Allan at Paul Ricard."

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