Jane Miller's motorsports notes

Good news going into the week before Christmas — 14-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force's rehab is coming along beautifully.


After being injured in a crash at Dallas in late September, Force has been undergoing intensive therapy, which his doctors say is paying off.


Earlier this week, he was cleared to begin strength training with his left hand and left foot, both of which were severely injured.


'Attitude is everything in these types of recoveries,' said physical therapist Robert Ortmayer in a press release. 'John is exceptional in that area. He has done everything we've asked. It's been difficult, but he is one of the most motivated people with whom I have ever worked. Considering the severity of the accident and his injuries, his range of movement already is remarkable, and he's making more progress every day.'


In order to be able to better understand what Force needs to be able to do, Ortmayer toured John Force Racing and had Robert Hight explain what happens during a Funny Car run.


Force hopes to be ready to test in mid-January.


?


It was announced this week that Ford Blue Box crash sensors will be mandatory on all Funny Car and Top Fuel race cars in 2008.


AH, THE IRONY:


Guess which track earned Formula One's promotional trophy, lauding the top race promoter of 2007?


You got it — Indianapolis, which was not included on the race calendar for next season. A speed.com report does say that there is a chance the race could return to Indianapolis in 2009.


Please?


Also in F1 news, Heikki Kovalainen will team with Lewis Hamilton at McLaren next season, replacing Fernando Alonso, who returned to Renault.


Nico Rosberg received a one-year contract extension at Williams.


ALL-AMERICA TEAM:


This is the time of year for 'best of' lists, and one of the big ones is the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association All-America team.


Selected to the first team this year were Sebastien Bourdais and Dario Franchitti (open wheel); Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson (stock car); Jon Fogarty/Alex Gurney and Scott Pruett (road racing); Tony Pedregon and Tony Schumacher (drag racing); Jerry Coons Jr. and Donny Schatz (short track); Ron Hornaday Jr. and Frank Kimmel (touring series) and Alex Lloyd and Jaime Melo/Mika Salo (at large).


Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Greg Anderson and Jeg Coughlin ??were among those on the second team.


Contenders for the group's Jerry Titus award, which honors the driver of the year, are Schumacher, Bourdais, Franchitti, Johnson and Hornaday.


The winner will be announced at the AARWBA banquet Jan. 12 at Indianapolis.


AMA SCHEDULE:


The AMA Flat Track schedule for 2008 was released this week. Again, no major surprises for the area races — the Peoria TT date is Aug. 17 — but there was an exciting bit of scheduling which is new this year.


The series will run at the Indy Mile on the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Sept. 13, which is in conjunction with the U.S. MotoGP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that weekend.


When I talked to the Flat Track guys at the rained out Peoria TT this year, they were all excited about the MotoGP and hoped to be able to make it. Now it appears they will.


TESTING:


Antron Brown will test a Top Fuel dragster for David Powers Motorsports at Gainesville, Fla., on Monday.


Graham Rahal will drive a Formula One car for the first time from Jan. 7-10 at the BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park in Las Vegas. Rahal will drive the car in a series of exhibition runs in Las Vegas in support of the Consumer Electronics Show.


Jane Miller is the Journal Star motorsports columnist. Write her at 1 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61643, call (309) 686-3207 or e-mail jmiller@pjstar.com.?