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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Videos

Lime Rock SlugFest; CytoSport Scores Second Victory

On: Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 11:46AM | By: John Welch

Lime Rock SlugFest; CytoSport Scores Second Victory test 1-1

So maybe the title of this article is slightly misleading. Saturday, at Lime Rock, CytoSport/Muscle Milk was able to hand the Porsche RS Spyder its second post-Penske victory, but its first over-all victory this season. What in the huh am I talking about? Lime Rock Park saw one, combined LMP class (a very dismal field of five cars) take to the tarmac. CytoSport took its first victory at Sebring, but because the prototypes were still separated into LMP1 and 2, it was only a class victory. Seriously, that race featured a duo of Peugeot 908s; it was over before it began.

Ahem, technically its first victory, Klaus Graff and the CytoSport crew made it as exciting as the limited car count would allow. Raining and slippery during qualifying on Friday, Patron-Highcroft was able to use their tractable HPD V8 to great effect, taking the pole handily over the rest of the field. Saturday's race, however, was completely dry, the changing conditions giving the upper hand to more powerful turbo and 10-cylinder cars. The start was gnashed-teeth exciting, the Dyson Mazda, Intersport Lola and Drayson Lola-Judd all cramming into Turn 1, a piece of real estate barely the width of a country lane. The Dyson Mazda came out of the turn in the lead; followed by Lord Drayson's Union Jack-splattered Lola, Jon Field's Lola coming up in third position.

The Dyson Lola coupe dominated the first few rotations, a sight for sore eyes. Lola will not build any more LMP Coupes, so this may be the last season we see this gorgeous design scooting around American tracks. The Dyson team is to be applauded for taking risks: switching from the proven RS Spyder to the Lola, squeezing nearly 700 bhp out of a 2-liter four pot, laughing in the face of E85, and going straight for IsoButanol. These moves have done much to endear this team to me, and they deserve a victory as much as anyone on the grid. Alas, Saturday, July 24th was not that day . . .

World's Fastest Production Car Battle Heats Up

On: Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 9:17AM | By: Chris Weiss

World's Fastest Production Car Battle Heats Up  test 1-1

On a bright, sunny July 3 afternoon, Bugatti driver Pierre Henri Raphanel slowly fastened his helmet, pulled his racing gloves over his digits, and took the wheel for what would become a run of legend. With more than a little help from the ginormous, grumbling 1,200 hp W16 engine of the flamboyant, black-and-bright-orange Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport, Raphanel set a new production car world speed record that was verified by the Guiness Book of World Records, who were there to witness the feat. His time? 268 mph, a full 12 mph over the previous record held by SSC Ultimate Aero TT. The only trouble for Bugatti now is that SSC is back with a new and improved Ultimate Aero and has its sights set squarely on Bugatti's new record. We'll see what type of supercar they'll be challenging it with in just a few short weeks.

Bring Back the '57 Chevy

On: Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 11:56AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Bring Back the '57 Chevy test 1-1

Today, the 1957 Chevrolet is known as one of the ultimate classic cars. If you are a car buff, you can immediately identify the '57 as one of the most popular cars of all time.  In fact, the '57 Chevy was so popular that it has actually evolved into an icon for American car history. A 1957 Chevrolet Convertible was the dream car of every baby boomer in the late 1950s and early 1960s,— and the car has been in high demand since production ended, as one of the best classic cars for antique car collectors.

The '57 Chevrolet was launched in late 1956 by GM as a part of a special “Sneak Preview of New Cars.”  The famous features noted back then were the tail fins and excess trim on the sides—such as most cars of the 50s had. I’m sure that the trim would have become one of those little-known obsolete car details of the past had the '57 Chevy not become one of the most popular cars in all of history.  

As time passed, most of the competitors of the ‘57 Chevy faded away, while the ’57 continued to maintain its popularity, particularly the Bel-Air model which started as a favorite in southern California, then its popularity spread across the nation.

Porsche To Campaign GT3 Hybrid at Petit Le Mans

On: Wed, Jul 21, 2010 at 2:10PM | By: John Welch

Porsche To Campaign GT3 Hybrid at Petit Le Mans test 1-1

Those wacky Germans, always brewing up some crazy scheme for world sports car racing domination. The list is enormous, Porsche 917, Audi Quattro, BMW CSL, Audi R8, Sauber Mercedes, Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR, just a few dominant German cars on a list of hundreds. The ubiguitous Porsche 911, in various forms, occupying the top seed on that list.

The newest Porsche nut-case 911 is the GT3 R Hybrid. Using a flywheel-based system to capture energy from braking, this car is equipped with a "push to pass" button that releases stored energy whenever the driver feels like bruising an ego or two. The system was developed byt the Williams F1 team, starting life as the KERS system for their 2009 open wheeler. After recieving significantly more development, the system is capable of metering out extra power automatically, or at wide open throttle; the possiblities are endless.

The 911 GT3 R Hybrid was raced in the Nurburing 24 hour race this year, and led for 11 hours. With two hours remaing the car suffered a mechinal problem unrelated to the Hybrid machinery. A header fell off or something.

Though pleased with the pace of the GT3 R Hybrid at the N24, Porsche was not satisfied with the result. Just to make double sure that they hadn't built a time bomb, the team ran their own 24 hour race at Paul Ricard a month later. Paul Ricard HTTT is located in the south of France. HTTT stands for High Tech Test Track. The French dig aliteration apparently . . .


Rumors Bring Both Good and Bad News For Lamborghini Lovers

On: Wed, Jul 21, 2010 at 9:58AM | By: Chris Weiss

1986 Lamborghini LM002 test 2

A new report from Car and Driver's German correspondent indicates that Lamborghini may be looking to return to several market segments that it abandoned back in the 80s and 90s. The sports car marquee is reportedly looking at the possibility of a new, hardcore SUV and an entry level model that will slate in below the Gallardo. On the flip side, rumors indicate that a possible four-seater is all but dead.

Back in the late 80s and 1990s, the Lamborghini we know and love was somewhat of an anomaly. The company still had the timeless sports masterpieces that the brand is recognized most for—like the Countach and Diablo, but it also had something entirely different: a large, civilian/military SUV named the LM002. Those who don't know any better might look at pictures of the LM002 today and think that the Raging Bull badge was photoshopped on. At the time, however, the 'Rambo Lambo' was quite popular, providing an entirely new dynamic to the brand. The jeep carried over the V12 engine from the Countach and offered incomparable desert performance thanks to an extra large radiator and Pirelli Scorpion tires. Alas, it was killed off in 1992.

Grand Am Invades New Jersey; Gainsco Scores First Win

On: Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 2:33PM | By: John Welch

Grand Am Invades New Jersey; Gainsco Scores First Win test 1-1

For the third time in as many years, the Rolex Grand Am Series roared onto Thunderblot Raceway, formerly (or possibly still?) New Jersey Motorsports Park. The NJMP 250 Presented by CrownRoyal did not disappoint; as the action unfolded it became apparent that we would see one of the better races this year under the brutally hot New Jersey sun. That may be the first reference to the "New Jersey Sun" ever used in print . . . ever!

Qualifying was an exciting shoot-out for both Rolex categories—Daytona Prototype and Grand Touring. On the front row in GT, two stalwart American icons, Corvette and Camaro. Being driven by GM hot-shoe Jan Magnusson, the No.97 Steveson Camaro just missed pole position, giving it to the No.07 Banner Corvette of Paul Edwards in the last minute of the session. An all-Chevy front row in GT for the first time since 2003.

In DP, the penalty leveled on the BMW-powered machines finally affected their performance, somewhat, with Memo Rojas able to capture only fourth starting position in the TelMex/Ganassi BMW Riley. On pole, the No.10 Taylor Racing/SunTrust Dallara Ford, driven by Wayne Taylor's son, Ricky. Starting next to the Dallara, Jon Fogarty in the ultra-hungry No.99 Gainsco Chevrolet Riley.

I set these races up like heavyweight title fights because that is exactly what they are: knock-down, drag-out fist fights with cars. Venture inside the post for a blow-by-blow of the entire race . . .

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 4:02PM | By: John Welch

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly test 1-1

I was skeptical at first. I saw the name "Dallara" and, like most of the sheep watching the Izod IndyCar Series 2012 announcement, I was immediately put off to the point of nausea. A day or two has passed, and I have let the idea of "Lego Cars" roll around in my tiny brain for several evenings. My opinion has changed, somewhat, and I would be glad to lay it out for you. In case you don't have any clue what I'm talking about, we will cover the new IndyCar rules in depth inside the post.

Where are all the disasters? Is it just me or has the auto-doom media train slowed down a little bit? This really isn't a bad thing; the fewer recalls the better. It just makes finding actual "news" a little tougher. Good? Bad? I'm not sure . .  discuss amongst yourselves . . .

Hybrid wheel designs are stuck in the 20th century. Supposedly they have to be manufactured using aluminum, and supposedly aluminum has to be blocky and chunky and downright eye-offending in order to support the weight of an automobile. Usually, a rather diminutive automobile. Bull-honky; we explore awful hybrid rims and some decent designs, inside the post.

Smithsonian Dedicates Upcoming Website and Exhibit to Auto Safety

On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 12:07PM | By: Chris Weiss

Smithsonian Dedicates Upcoming Website and Exhibit to Auto Safety  test 1-1

During a time when interest in auto safety is at its peak, thanks largely to Toyota's unprecedented string of highly publicized safety issues, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is putting together a website and exhibit on auto safety. 10 individuals and companies, including GM and AAA, made a significant donation of auto safety equipment and icons ranging from historical seat belts to crash test dummies. Cars and protecting your vital organs—what's not to like?

Highlights of the donations made to the museum yesterday include the costumes used by Vince and Larry—the crash test dummies featured in the "You Could Learn a Lot From a Dummy" series of ads back in the 1980s and 90s—as well as other crash test dummies and parts. The actors who played Vince and Larry, Tony Reitano and Whitney Rydbeck, even showed up for Wednesday's event. Also on hand were the campaign's co-creator, Jim Ferguson, and its director Bill Dear. The quartet spoke candidly about filming the commercials and gave a little insight about the impact the campaign had on them and the greater public. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belt usage rose 14 percent points as a result of the campaign and an estimated 85,000 lives were spared.

While the Vince and Larry memorabilia created the biggest buzz, donations included a variety of historically significant equipment like a 1967 Chevy steering wheel column that was the world's first collapsible model, the first three-point seat belt from Volvo, 1930s AAA driving manuals, and ignition-integrated breath analyzers from Guardian Interlock.

The Smithsonian will feature the newly donated items on a website dedicated to auto safety from the 1920s through today, and later will include them in an exhibit.

Roger White, a curator at the museum said of the collection, "This is about America’s relationship with its cars; we all know it’s a love affair. But automobiles had to change to make them truly useful and acceptable.”

Toyota Announces Plans to Work on EV Prototype with Tesla

On: Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 9:51AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Tesla Model S test 2

Tesla, a relatively new company without much of a track record, and the number one green car auto manufacturer in the world, and Toyota have formed a partnership that has been somewhat baffling to many.

Tesla Motors recently held their IPO and Toyota Motors purchased $50 million in stock as the two automakers plan to partner in the making of electric vehicles at the Nummi Plant that was recently closed in Freemont, California.

Since initial trading on June 29th, Tesla shares have dropped and are trading slightly below their initial public offering price of $17.

During a recent interview the president of Toyota Corporation; Akio Toyoda, announced that his company has begun the process of building the first prototype electric vehicle that has a Tesla battery pack.

This year, Tesla launched an all-electric Model S Sedan that travels 300 miles on a single charge, sells for $57,000, and reportedly has enough power to accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than 4 seconds.

Ganassi Celebrates The Fourth With Win Despite Penalties

On: Mon, Jul 5, 2010 at 3:10PM | By: John Welch

Ganassi Celebrates The Fourth With Win Despite Penalties test 1-1

A NASCAR weekend is its own microcosm, it's own universe of t-shirts and ball caps and beer cozies and all of the tens of thousands of semi-trailers and support equipment needed in order to supply the NASCAR fan with poorly made merchandise that they can get for half-price on the Internet. An added bonus, all of this commercialism completely covers every square inch of Daytona International Speedway parking space. Except, of course, for the handicapped parking that never fills all the way up. The one crappy thing I have to say about the entire weekend is that all of the P.R. nonsense about "free parking" is complete B.S. There it is, rant over, now for the unabashed puffery. The pro-motorsports Wonkism. Whatever you'd like to call it, it was worth the $40 parking and the mile and a half walk.

Dateline, July 3rd, 9 a.m., Grand-Am final practice begins under auspicious skies of gray and eggshell. Rain threatening, a few GT cars made their way out on to the Speedway, Mazda 4-rotors competing for my ear's attention with low-pitched, baby-eating Chevy small-blocks. Repeat: never has a vehicle made an ear-splittingly beautiful noise like the Speed Source Mazda RX8's. F1 cars wail, the Lola Aston Martin reports with a Singer-smooth V12 syrup symphony, and full-bore racing small-blocks sound as if they are rearranging molecules within each tortured cylinder. The Mazda, again, sounds like thirty CART open-wheelers at once. The bizarre roar emanating from a single 4-rotor powered car as it blasts around Daytona is enough to cause goose-bumps that fist fight each other. My pores are bloodied. This opinion is not universal; my camera-mule, Steve, was not fond of the Mazda engine note one bit. After practice he opined that the Mazda was borderline annoying. Different strokes for different folks I guess, but I think he's nuts!

Not that the other Grand-Am cars aren't absolutely astounding either. Upon clearing the entrance to the grandstands directly underneath the Sprint tower, the sounds and smells of race-gas being squished, popped and then evacuated by Daytona Prototypes was clear and refreshing. I had been listening to either police sirens or rain all night, the muted farts of a DP banging off its pit-speed limiter was music to my ears. Farts, really, I'm not kidding. I don't think these high-strung engines enjoy rpms lower then 2,000. They seem to protest, argue with the pit road mandated speed limiter. The Ganassi BMW sounds as if it is shedding all four camshafts when relegated to the pit-road engine map. It isn't, in fact those cam shafts are spinning with perfection, as expected from the nearly flawless Ganassi boys.

Practice complete, we retire to our rented Ford Focus for a quick breakfast of Equate-brand Turkey and white bread of indistinguishable origins. 7-11 maybe? Winn-Dixie? Who knows where we got it from; we were very tired when packing for the day. Good thing the car was a rental; it was the unfortunate recipient of a merciless barrage of corn-hole bags and footballs, launched from the wobbling, drunken arms of our fellow race fans as they attempted to mix copious amounts of booze with serious competition. Munching my soggy sandwich while watching the showdown through my Ford-supplied vanity mirror, I was unable to tell who was winning but could clearly see that everyone was having a great time.

No time for Steve and I to enjoy this thing they called "beer", it was almost 11 a.m. now, time for the Brumos Porsche 250. Our impression of the race, inside the post . . .

Range Rover Celebrates 40 With New Compact SUV

On: Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 3:47PM | By: John Welch

Range Rover Celebrates 40 With New Compact SUV test 1-1

Land and Range Rovers receive altered styling so in frequently that you could time said updates by Margret Thatcher's "cycle". That is to say, almost never.

For their 40th anniversary however, Range Rover is introducing a new compact SUV (I think I might get shot if I call a Rover a "CrossOver" . . .) that represents a serious departure from the typical military-grade kiddie carrying boxes we are used to seeing from Rover.

Rumored to be based on the LRX concept seen at larger auto-shows the last two years, the new SUV will be unvieled during an event in London at 3:30 p.m. EDT.

Rover isn't telling us everything about the new vehicle, saving some of the juiciest morsels for the Paris Motor Show this fall.