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Categories: Videos

Americans Impress At Nurburing 24

On: Wed, May 19, 2010 at 1:51PM | By: John Welch


Farnbacher Ferrari F430 test 2

Too bad we don't have any serious endurance races here in America. Shyeah, Sebring is a rough track, and the race is 12 hours. Right, Petit Le Mans is a thousand kilometers and takes place near crummy 'ole Atlanta, but that really isn't that bad either. There are plenty of amateur 24-hour events, but the Daytona 24 is the only true 'round the clock race . . . even it is contained inside the cushy confines of Daytona International Speedway. Which translates to: almost zero elevation change . . .

No, by "serious endurance race" I mean 24 hours, hundreds of feet of elevation change, 220 participants and thousands of ess-faced Germans trying to scrawl dirty limericks on the actual racing surface with sidewalk chalk . . . while people are racing! And did I mention that this racing surface is nearly 16 miles in length? The Nordschilfe makes Sebring, at a little more then 4 and a half miles, almost seem small! That is the reputation that comes with being the mightiest race track in the world; The Nurburing Nordschilfe.

The annual ADAC Nurburing 24 was held last weekend, and the over-all victory went to a factory BMW very similar to the Rahal/Letterman M3 GT2s campaigned in the American Le Mans Series. More interesting to us, as Americans, are the Grand-Am regulars who scored class victories at the storied event. Leh Keen, driver of the No. 41 Team Seattle/Global Diving/Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT in the Grand-Am Series was able to capture first in the SP7 class. His No. 43 Hankook Ferrari F430 GT was the only car able to mount a challenge against the race-winning BMW towards the close end of the event. Shane Lewis, a common sight at Grand-Am races, was able to bring his No. 70 Gotz Motorsport Audi RS4 to the flag, first in the SP 8T class for big-bore touring cars.


Bon Voyage, Atlantis

On: Fri, May 14, 2010 at 4:17PM | By: John Welch


Bon Voyage, Atlantis test 1-1

Though not necessarily a car, the space shuttle Atlantis is still hella-rad. Atlantis is capable of speeds up to 2,500 mile per hour and turns faces inside-out at nearly 5-g on lift off. Top Fuel dragsters cower before the awesomeness that is Atlantis. Today, unfortunately, after 31 successful missions, Atlantis blasted the Kennedy Space Center tarmac for the last time. At 2:20 p.m EST the mighty Shuttle took off with no immediate issues and a 12-day space station assembly mission ahead of it. God speed, Atlantis, The AutoShopper wishes you and your crew—Navy Capt. Kenneth T. Ham, Navy Cmdr. Dominic A. Antonelli, Colonel (USAF, Ret.) Michael T. Good, Garret E. Reisman, Navy Capt. Stephen G. Bowen, and Piers J. Sellers, a British-born astronaut, a safe return to earth.


The World's Most Expensive Car: The Bugatti Veyron

On: Fri, May 14, 2010 at 2:49PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


The World's Most Expensive Car: The Bugatti Veyron test 1-1

For those who have a passion for sports cars, the Bugatti Veyron is not only the fastest car on the road, it will also put most of us working class, living-paycheck-to-paycheck car enthusiasts into a state of remorse. It is also the world’s most expensive car with a price tag of two million dollars. So, what do you get in a car that costs more than any other sports car available?


Auto Worker Unions Part of the Big Three Falter?

On: Wed, May 12, 2010 at 9:31AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar


Were Auto Worker Unions Part of the Big Three Falter? test 2

Did somebody cry wolf for the Big Three automakers in the US? Because it seems like only yesterday that we were seeing company execs, wearing fancy, triple-stitched inseam suits with pinstripes and all, crying before the US Congress—which held an emergency meeting on their behalf. Irony prevailed for a moment too. That is because these bigwigs arrived in their private chartered jets—many of them couriered in on lavish jumbo jets that feature cocktail bars, entertainment centers, and private catering. And all just to humbly beg—and not on their knees—but while sipping off organic water as hordes of lawyers surrounded them, literally imploring Congress to do one thing: Give them money so they could survive.


 

"The Times They Are A-changin". . . Fords Motto: No Longer Built Tough?

On: Sat, May 8, 2010 at 12:27PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


"The Times They Are A-changin". . . Fords Motto: No Longer Built Tough? test 1-1

“The times they are a-changin”; the words from the popular Bob Dylan song come to mind as we take a look at what is happening in the auto world today. Gas guzzlers are looking like they may become obsolete in the near future, at least at Ford, that is, as they prepare to launch the Ford Fiesta this summer (the first time the sub-compact car has been offered since the 80s).

The launch of the Fiesta is another example of Ford’s effort to change the company's image from a top-seller of big trucks (historically famous for the F-150 and SUVs, such as the Ford Explorer) to an automaker that designs high-quality fuel-efficient cars. This summer’s plan to re-introduce the Fiesta starts the evolution as Ford prepares to promote its first sub-compact vehicle in over a decade.


Chevy Cans The Orlando; Does America Care?

On: Mon, May 3, 2010 at 11:41AM | By: John Welch


Chevy Cans The Orlando; Does America Care? test 1-1

In order to please the AutObama administration and its investors, (re: Us!) GM has go about streamlining its business operations. Simplifying the complicated, downsizing the unwieldy. One way to go about skinnying up a corporate dinosaur is to limit complications in production. Do a few things really well. As it applies to GM, those "things" would be the Traverse, Equinox, Malibu, and the upcoming Cruze. GM plans to remain efficient by limiting the number of new models its American factories are pumping out.

To this end, GM’s president for North America, Mark Reuss, has leveled the proverbial "ax" on the Chevrolet Orlando. According to Reuss, this action is being taken in order to maximize the output of current top-sellers, the Malibu and Equinox. Along with the Traverse, GM has added a third shift at the plants that produce these cars. There are even plans to produce the Equinox and Malibu at other facilities.

Considering the Orlando will still be offered in other markets, could this be a good sign for the Volt MP5? Perhaps the Orlando is deemed to similar to the Equinox, and Chevy is trying to avoid the sort of inter-company cannibalization that led to GM's financial melt-down in the first place. Answers to those questions are not going to come soon, or easily. If you ask Margaret Brooks, Chevrolet’s product marketing director for small cars and crossovers, you might come away a little disappointed. She isn't all that specific . . .


Toyota Prius Gets A New Image

On: Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 6:01PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Toyota Prius Gets A New Image test 1-1

When you think of the Toyota Prius Hybrid many people get an image of liberal Birkenstock wearing bleeding hearts. In a scene from the movie “Network,” Howard Beale yelled into the microphone, “Give me a break! I’ve got news for all the latte-drinking, Prius-driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies.” which demonstrates mainstream thinking regarding the iconic green car.


Grand-Am Post-VIR Update

On: Thu, Apr 29, 2010 at 3:31PM | By: John Welch


The Famous Tree at Turn Twelve test 2

The Grand American Road Racing Series started the season off with a tremendously entertaining Rolex 24 at Daytona. A brand new team, Action Express, won the race. Utilizing a passenger SUV-derived engine, and a cast-off Riley chassis from Brumos Porsche, Action Express fought off the might of the Chip Ganassi BMW Rileys all night and into the next morning. After twenty four trips around the dial, Action Express was on top of the podium, and a spectacular season was underway.

The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge is the support/feeder series for Grand Am. Think of it as GP2 for American sports car racing. They raced in Daytona and at every Grand Am date since. The series is comprised of road-going GT machinery, divided into two classes, Gran Turismo (redundant anyone?) and Street Tuner. GT and ST from here on.

The last race weekend, at Virginia International Raceway (or VIR) featured heart stopping excitement around every corner. The Rolex Series is covered in this post, Continental Challenge in Part Two . . .

 


The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

On: Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 3:13PM | By: John Welch


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

BMW hasn't been actively involved in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters series since the early Nineties. They're considering making a come-back. I'd love to see a Rahal M3 with its doors and fenders all chopped up, and crazy aero-thingees hanging off its muscular flanks.

Toyota has hit the proverbial "Crack-smokin', alternative-lifestyle hookin', eating-Ramen-at-every-meal" rock bottom this week; their credit rating has been reduced to that of a college student. Oh, how the mighty have fallen on their smug, insultingly boring car-producing faces.

Ken Block is planning another viral video sensation:; Gymkhana 3. The first two Gymkhanas were films involving Subarus with horribly ugly paint-jobs. This new edition will feature a Ford with a horribly ugly paint-job. *Yawn* . . . boy, do I have a hankerin' for a sugary can of nearly carbonated hyper-juice right about now . . .


Hyundai Sales Through The Roof

On: Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 2:53PM | By: John Welch


Hyundai Sales Through The Roof test 1-1

The new Hyundai Sonata is an interesting-looking automobile. Part eel, part cheese grater, the front end of the Sonata stimulates discussion, if not disgust. We 'Murrikens don't care. The car is different, and "different" means everything in the American market. The sales figures prove it.

Hyundai has seen a 26% increase in sales during the first quarter of 2010, on the backs of redesigned Sonatas and Tuscons. On top of that, the average price of cars exported from South Korea climbed 13 percent. They have been able to really put the screws to Japan; a strengthening yen has made it difficult for Japanese companies to make money in export markets such as ours. Should Honda be worried about its market share?  . . . possibly . . .

 


The Long Beach Weekend

On: Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 12:11PM | By: John Welch


The Long Beach Weekend test 1-1

This past weekend, April 17th and 18th, we had the most televised racing available to us so far this season. To say that I was "sedentary" this weekend would be like saying "gators eat Cocker Spaniels only if they really have to." A gator will devour a Cocker Spaniel at given any opportunity, and I have La-Z-Boy-sores. Similar to bed sores, made worse by constantly dusting the wounds with Dorito flavoring and spilled beer for a solid 36 hours. The odor was pungent when I finally separated myself from the soggy lounge-chair; I had become one with the dyed, seemingly donkey-derived leather.

These are the hardships that I suffer for you, brave readers, in an attempt to explain and describe the wonders of high-dollar racing to you and your contemporaries. It's hard work, but somebody has to do it. I suppose I can be that "somebody". Never have festering, gooey sores been so much fun to cultivate; never. Inside the post we cover the Long Beach Weekend (ALMS, Formula D, and the IRL*bleech*), and the F1 Chinese Grand Prix will get its own post. If you care, the NASCAR race in Texas was rained out . . . good thing I don't really care . . .