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Throughout The Car Industry



Categories: Racing

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.


ALMS Attacks Lime Rock Saturday

On: Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 11:16AM | By: John Welch


The Flying Lizard Porsche GT3 RSR test 2

So the Utah race was little bit of a snoozer; it was the fault of that awful Miller Motorsports Park, not the ALMS regulars who raced there. That track, in a word, is BORING. Lime Rock on the other hand is INTENSE! That is a significant difference when talking about cars that need some sort of straightaway to pass. This weekend we have straightaways galore!

The Grand-Am Series has already raced at Lime Rock this year, and it was purty badass. The ALMS features prototypes and GT cars that are even faster than Rolex Series racers, making the long front stretch that much more important. Passing is at a premium in Utah, it should be omnipresent in Connecticut.

The rain has already fallen during the first practice session, which began about an hour ago. The Drayson Lola looks fast, as well as the usual ALMS favorites, Patron Highcroft Racing. Their HPD ARX-01c is out-paced by the Drayson's V10 Judd engine and the Intersport AER-sourced Turbo V8, but in the corners the Wirth-Engineering chassis shines. It doesn't hurt that Highcroft employs some of the best drivers in the world, David Brabham and Simon Pagenaud, among them.

Qualifying can be viewed live, online at SPEEDtv.com. The race goes green tomorrow at 2 p.m. Eastern. The 'Shopper Blog will have a full recap Monday, images and videos included!


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 . . .


 

British Aim to Break 1000 MPH With Bloodhound SSC

On: Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 8:52AM | By: Chris Weiss


British Aim to Break 1000 MPH  With Bloodhound SSC test 1-1

The Bloodhound SSC is on its way toward becoming the fastest "car" in the world, with plans to make it the first wheeled vehicle to boast four-figure speeds. A model of the British streamliner recently made its debut at the U.K.'s Farnborough International Airshow. Measuring about 42 feet long, the model gives a sneak peak of what type of space-age voodoo will be employed to break the current absolute land speed record by over 200 mph.

If you look in the record books today, you'll see that the absolute land speed record set in the Black Rock Desert more than 10 years ago stands at a towering 763 mph. For anyone that's ever driven 150 mph or even 100 mph, that seems like unimaginable speed in a land-based vehicle. But for the team of automotive engineers that made it possible, it's more of a starting point, a gauntlet to do better. You see, it was their vehicle—the ThrustSSC—that set the record back in 1997, surpassing the previous record—also held by the Thrust team—by over 130 mph, while becoming the first land vehicle to break the speed of sound (761 mph). The average group of mortals would be pretty satisfied with that lofty feat, but this particular engineering team, along with its 166 sponsors, simply shifted its goals higher, undertaking the monumental objective of breaking the 1,000 mph mark three years ago.


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.


Ferrari Releases Official 458 Challenge Race Car Info

On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 1:08PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Ferrari Releases Official 458 Challenge Race Car Info test 1-1

For those who considered the 458 Italia a bit too meek, the solution is now here: the 458 Challenge is a faster, lighter weight race car based on the road-going model. The Ferrari engineers have created a competition version of the 458 Italia, which they call the 458 Challenge. The model is designed specifically for track and is faster by two seconds than its predecessor, the F430 Challenge.

The 458 Challenge has an increased horsepower of 570 from the mid-mounted 4.5-liter V-8. The Challenge car maintains its race-only intake and exhaust system. The standard seven-speed dual-clutch transmission remains but gear ratios have been upgraded to give better low-rpm torque. But unlike its predecessor, the 458 Challenge is intended to race against other Ferraris, such as the F430 Challenge, in the Ferrari-only Trofeo Pirelli series in 2011.

The Ferrari Challenge racing edition gets an upgraded transmission, suspension, and gear ratios as compared to the Italia street car, including E-Diff and F1-Trac systems that have been implemented for the first time on a Challenge racing edition. With these technologies, drivers have the option to engage stability assistance using a switch on the steering wheel.


IndyCar 2010; Turning Boring And Irrelevant Into Exciting And Cost Effective

On: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 12:19PM | By: John Welch


Lola's proposed Indy Car for 2012 test 2

We have no reason whatsoever to cover the current Izod IndyCar Series. Every car has the same chassis, same engine, and foriegn drivers. Blah. Not only are the engines and chassis identical, they have been the exact same part since 2002!! Not exactly something we have time for here on the 'Shopper Blog. Maybe if they changed the rules a little, invited in some new manufacturers, some new chasses, and some fresh competition, then maybe we would care. As long as there are racing Series such as the Rolex Grand-Am Series and the American Le Mans Series then Americas premier open-wheel series has to step up their game in order to charge NASCAR prices for USHRA product.

Today, things may change. At high noon . . . thirty today, the Izod IndyCar Series will release its plans for 2012, establishing hope for open-wheel racing and/or putting the nail in the coffin. The 'Shopper will be watching, and you should too. A note: in the nineties, IndyCar was considered an equal to F1. I wouldn't mind getting that sort of international recognition back for an American series.

The press conference will be held at 12:30 p.m. EST, and can be streamed here. Thanky and Good Day . . .


2010 Brumos Porsche 250; Sports Car SlobberKnockers

On: Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 3:05PM | By: John Welch


How did we get to this image? test 2

The Rolex Grand Am Series produces incredible racing action every time the Daytona Prototypes lay rubber to tarmac. This post contains an image gallery highlighting one of the many scraps that occured on track during the 2010 Brumos Porsche 250. Allow me to set the scene . . .

After a terrible beginning to the 2010 Rolex Series, the No.99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Chevrolet Riley turned a scorching lap during qualifying to claim second starting position for the race. Second only to the No.10 Wayne Taylor/SunTrust Ford Dallara, a car also plauged by finishes not indicitive of the way they have run in the races this season, the Gainsco car found itself locked in a fierce contest of wills with it's primary rival, the No.01 Ganassi/TelMex BMW. The Ganassi machine, suffering from a little bit of ballast-bloat (BMW-powered DPs were saddled with a 75 lb. weight penalty after the race at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago), qualified a lowly fifth, rather unusual for the dominant Ganassi team.

The bit-players in this gallery include the No. 6 MSR Dallara, driven by Brian Frissell, as well as the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley. Both cars were in the hunt all day, with Frissell leading a significant portion of the race. We now know that Ganassi came out on top, but the result was anything but certain while these photos were being taken. Description of the action with each image; enjoy!


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 . . .