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The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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On: Fri, Oct 9, 2009 at 11:12AM | By: John Welch

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

North Carolina-based USGPE getting closer to finalizing their driver line-up, constructing a car, and establishing their European base.

Gran Turismo 5 gets delayed even further. I feel apathy creeping in.

Toyota fixes the deadly floormat issue; unfortunately it isn't all that sophisticated a fix . . .

The Good: Yesterday we previewed the new teams joining Formula One next season. Obviously the one new team we will cover the most is USGPE. First off, a little explanation of the whole USF1-USGPE branding issue.

When Peter Windsor originally announced the formation of an F1 team to be based in the US, he dubbed the team "USF1". Bernie Ecclestone, the 'commercial rights holder' for Formula One (basically, he owns all of Formula One's patents and trademarks, demanding huge sums from race tracks and countries for the right to host F1), didn't like the use of the characters 'F' and '1' in a team's name. Citing copyright infringement, Ecclestone politely asked Windsor to change his squad's moniker. So, 'US Grand Prix Engineering' was born. The strange thing is, however, that everyone involved continues to use the term 'USF1'. Speedtv, Formula1.com, other blogs, even Windsor himself continue to use 'USF1'. Whatever the name, the team has announced that they would like an all-American driver lineup by 2011, but for development purposes, will use an experienced European driver and an up-and-coming American for the 2009 campaign.

That American will most likely be Jonathan Summerton, at 21, a veteran of several open-wheel organizations; the European F3, Formula Atlantic, A1GP, and Indy Lights series. Hailing from Florida (of course!) Summerton has enjoyed success at every level of his brief career, and is looking forward to joining USGPE. With the team on schedule to roll out a mock up of their car by November, USGPE would like to nail down its driver situation as quickly as possible. Summerton definitely has the slickest personal website, if that counts for anything.

Even if he isn't selected as a GP driver, Summerton is confident that he will occupy the USGPE test driver seat for 2010.

Summerton answers a few personal questions at the New Jersey Motor Sports Park, immediately after taking pole for the Atlantics race held there . . .

The Bad: Gran Turismo 5 is never going to be released. Originally Polyphony gave a "Fall 2009" release date. Then it was "early 2010". Now the makers of the most recognized simulator in the world are pushing the release date all the way back to March 2010. I'm not waiting that long. I do not have a kei car fetish. I do like to waste an inordinate amount of time designing race liveries using the Forza "Photoshop-Lite". Speaking of which, we will be enjoying Forza 3 by the end of October, at least six months before its main competitor appears in March or who-knows-when. Based on release date and the ability to update the game through Xbox Live, Forza3 may have won the war before GT5 even comes to market.

Gran Turismo 5 has been hyped to death already. Every two days Polyphony releases a new screenshot or video, teasing us with the glory that is the future of sim-racing. The game is said to include 800 cars, complete NASCAR licensing, a damage engine, and every obscure JDM tuner car your little heart desires. Which is all great, except this greatness won't see the light of day until the spring of ought-ten. By then I'll be so deep into Forza that I won't even consider the cost of purchasing GT5. What will be the point? Sony and Polyphony are really dropping the ball on this one; I don't know if they think GT PSP is good enough to satiate our auto-lust, but it isn't. Not even close.

Here's hoping GT5 is just so out-of-this-world badass that we won't be able to live without it. If it isn't heads and tails better than Forza3, I won't even give it a chance.

Pointless trailer, pointless because I am convinced that we will never see this game. I do like the way El Jeffe (re: Jeff Gordon) is prominently featured (oh crap, now you know where my NASCAR loyalties lie) . . .

The Ugly: Jest bought me uh new LS460h. Dropped half muh lot-rie winnin's on the damn thing. Got a me uh letter in the mails yesterdie, from Toyota. I thought I bought me uh Lexus . . ennyway, this here letter sez I need to rig muh floormats up with some zip ties, or theys gunna kill me. Now that's got me betwixt. Zip ties?! In muh $70,000 dollar Lexus?! Them mealy-mouthed Toyota executives must be cuhrazy!

No Cletus, they're not crazy; Toyota just doesn't have a better solution (re: cost-effective solution). "We have reviewed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration what we're calling a semi-permanent floormat installation process, and we're providing these instructions to our dealers," Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons told Automotive news.

What Mr. Lyons is saying is painfully clear: It's just too expensive to redesign the floormats and replace them on every single 2010 Toyota or Lexus, especially the cars that are already occupying dealer lots.

Even the most tasteless hillbilly won't be satisfied with an expensive new car that features zip ties masquerading as a high tech safety implement. From the looks of the images I've found, the dealer actually has to modify (re: cut a hole in) the floormat, in order to situate the zip tie and get it around the frame of the seat.

Visible zip ties in a luxury cars interior absolutely defines "ugly". Way to go Toyota.

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